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The Narns are a race of humanoid aliens in the television series Babylon 5.
Narn is the homeworld of the Narn and the Narn Regime. The Narn Regime at its greatest expansion, besides the Narn homeworld, also included a number of additional colonies and planetary systems, such as Zok and Dros, making the Narn Regime a major power in the galaxy. However, this situation was not to last.
The Narn Regime is the government of the Narns. This regime is a young empire, having grown rapidly since their independence from the Centauri Republic in the early 23rd Century. Clever diplomacy, a pragmatic approach to arms dealing, and investment in building up their own military were all characteristics of the Narn Regime in the decades leading up to the Shadow War. Prior to its fall, the heart of Narn Regime was the Kha'Ri, the ruling body, known to be divided into at least three hierarchical levels known as circles. The ambassador to Babylon 5, G'Kar, was a member of the third circle of the Kha'Ri. The Kha'Ri was based in the city of G'Khamazad on Narn.
The Narn Regime represents both a short-sighted desire of revenge and a deep capacity for suffering and patience. Early on in the series, such as in the first episode of Series 1, Midnight on the Firing Line, the Narn government is portrayed as unscrupulous and aggressive. A sneak attack on a Centauri outpost of apparently civilian nature sets the stage of reprisals by the Centauri that ultimately results in the virtual destruction of the Narn Regime, while arms trading with the Raiders only antagonises the Earth Alliance and the Babylon 5 crew. Later episodes such as Deathwalker, where the Narn try to take custody of a Dilgar prisoner, and Legacies, when they try to buy a human telepath, do little to improve the poor reputation the Narns have for being opportunistic and thirsty for influence and power.
But as the story of Babylon 5 unfolds, and the Narns find out too late that they cannot win the war with the Centauri they have been so desperate to start, a different side of the Narns becomes apparent. They are courageous and capable of exhibiting an extraordinary degree of self-sacrifice, as in the appropriately-named second season episode Acts of Sacrifice where a Narn warship allows a groups of civilian ships to escape by putting itself between Cetauri battleships and a jumpgate. This courage extends beyond their own species, as with the Narns helping Babylon 5 defend itself from President Clark's forces in Severed Dreams. Indeed, when the Narns as a nation come to their lowest ebb as far as being a galactic power goes, it is only then that the other races, in particular the humans, come to appreciate them.
In 2259, unknown even to the Centauri Emperor, certain factions within the Centauri Republic had arranged for a small fleet of Shadows to destroy a Narn colony in Quadrant 37. During the next few months, the Narn Regime steadily lost its defensive war with the Centauri and their Shadow allies. While the Narn spacefleet had looked impressive on paper and when used for hit and run attacks on poorly defended targets, it simply wasn't any match for the Shadows. At best the Narn hoped to make a strike against the Centauri that might weaken their resolve, and under Warmaster G'Sten the bulk of the fleet was sent to attack a Centaur supply post at Gorash 7. Unfortunately for the Narn Regime, the Centauri had found out about this plan and set up a decisive counter-attack. With their Shadow allies destroying the Narn fleet at Gorash 7, the Centauri were able to bombard Narn from space using mass drivers illegally fitted to their battleships. This effectively ended any Narn resistance to the Centauri, and the Narn Regime as such ceased to be. Instead, Narns found themselves once more a subject people of the Centauri Republic.
During the occupation the Kha'Ri was dissolved, and Narn resistance was instead organised by cells on Narn itself and off world procuring weapons, food, and other resources. Former Ambassador G'Kar was the most prominent figure in this struggle, and indeed he came over time to symbolise not just the desire of the Narns to be free but of all peoples in the galaxy. Remnants of the Narn starfleet not destroyed or interned by the Centauri eventually joined in the struggle against the Shadows led by John Sheridan, the heavy cruiser G'Tok in particular playing a pivotal role in an early engagement with the Shadows in 2260. Narns also served with distinction on Babylon 5 adding to its security forces, most notably helped to repel Earth forces loyal to President Clark. Consequently, while the Narn Regime no longer existed, the Narns remained a visible part of the struggle against the Shadows (and latterly the Vorlons as well).
Once Narn was liberated in 2261, it was apparent that the majority of Narns in a position to influence the future of their nation tended toward a desire for revenge rather than reconcilliation. G'Kar refused an offer to become leader of the new Narn Regime, but accepted his place in the reconstituted Kha'Ri. Narn ships gave logistical support to Sheridan and his fleet in their ultimately successful bid to oust President Clark and return power in the Earth Alliance over to its people, but for most of this year the Narns concentrated on rebuilding their shattered world. In 2262 the Narn military became more active, most notably in a strike (with the Drazi) against Centauri Prime in response to a series of attacks on Interstellar Alliance cargo vessels, but as much for revenge as anything else.
Narns represent the will to be free, an adamant desire never to succumb to foreign domination again. Having already been a subject people of the Centauri before, the return of the Centauri in 2259 is both humiliating and destructive, but nevertheless resistance continues. This is referred to most explictly in the third season episode Dust to Dust, where G'Kar tries to obtain a telepathic drug to use as a discrete but effective weapon against the Centauri. The Narns are defeated, but they are not broken, and their will to be free again is strong. Ambassador G'Kar sums this up neatly when interviewed by an ISN reporter in the Series 2 episode And Now For a Word where he says, "There are humans for whom the words 'never again ' carry special meaning, as they do for us".
Parallels with Earth history
Many parallels can be made with human nations through history, but in our own time the most obvious is the creation of the state of Israel, partly in response to persecution of the Jews in Europe. It is the dual nature of the Narns as both comic book villains and sacrificial lambs that makes them one of the most poignant of all Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski's invented peoples.
Religion and society
Another key aspect to the Narns as a people is their deeply religious, and socially conservative nature. Narns have several religions and some Narns are not religious at all (G'Kar's aide, Na'Toth, for example), but those that do subscribe to one or other faith take it very seriously indeed. The holy Book of G'Quan is so revered that new copies must be hand written and identical in form existing copies, and rituals must be followed correctly or not done at all, a stricture the Centauri ambassador takes advantage of in the first season episode By Any Means Necessary.
A Shon'Kar is a Narn blood oath. The oath is sworn by a Narn against someone who wronged themselves or their family. An individual Narn is expected to not rest until the target of the Shon'Kar is dead. If the individual Narn fails, the family continues the Shon'Kar until the target is killed.
Narns are tall and have a stocky build; they are bald, with a yellowish complexion, mottled with brown and/or green spots. Although they look lizard-like, they are in fact marsupials. They are physically able to mate with humans but cannot bear children with them, as the two species are not biologically compatible.
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