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In Babylon 5, G'kar says that there are no Narn psychics because the Shadows killed them a thousand years ago during the last war. Their stated reason for doing this is that the Shadows' ships are vulnerable to psychics.

However, it's established that the reason the Shadows cause all the strife in the first place is to create war and conflict in order to purge the weak, accelerating evolution for the victorious.

It seems strange then that the Shadows would specifically target more powerful, more highly evolved bloodlines such as those of the Narn psychics.

So why did the Shadows kill them?

3 Answers 3

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In addition to @anyaMairead's answer, there's another factor.

It seems strange then that the Shadows would specifically target more powerful, more highly evolved bloodlines such as those of the Narn psychics.

Through several of the stories - notably the Psi Corp trilogy plotted by J. Michael Straczynski and written by J Gregory Keyes, as well as some stories in the official Babylon 5 magazine - it's made clear that Telepaths are not a natural development through evolution. In one of the Babylon 5 magazine stories, the premise is that a telepathic species would have no need to develop speech or weapons, and would be stalled in their technological development.

Rather, telepaths are the result of some pretty high handed bio-engineering on the part of the Vorlons, seeking to develop living weapons to use against the Shadows. For humans, they breed abducted people for specific traits over several hundred years. These traits were then reintroduced into the earth based human gene pool in the early 22nd century, around the time of Lyta Alexander's grandmother (see Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps). The Vorlons have interfered in this kind of way in many species - including the Narn and the Centauri.

I've always understood that the reason the Narn telepaths were wiped out by the Shadows was that they were essentially Vorlon tech, and therefore a threat.

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    I recall the 'vorlons made telepaths' storyline being in the B5 TV show as well.
    – user1027
    Sep 2, 2011 at 2:21
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    @Bevan It was Season 5, and was the entire reason Byron and his telepaths started making demands to the alliance for a homeworld.
    – Izkata
    Dec 11, 2011 at 18:56
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    I don't think that they were so much a threat because of being Vorlon influenced. I think they were a threat because they were effective. Effective enough that even with a pre-industrial society were able to drive the Shadows from their world. That alone would justify the Shadows wiping them out. Feb 15, 2012 at 23:00
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    @JamesSheridan One of the stories in Babylon 5 magazine (those stories are considered canon) suggests that any species that developed telepathy would not develop language, and would therefore not develop writing nor technology. The implication is that any species with telepaths acquired them through non-natural means. For humans and Narns, we know the Vorlons did it; other species, perhaps other agents.
    – Bevan
    Jul 18, 2014 at 22:12
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    @Bevan: I'm familiar with that story. I am thinking of species which may have evolved telepathy after achieving space travel. The Vorlons and Lorien, obviously, did this. So did the Old Ones in Thirdspace. All other races are a maybe, if it's not outright obvious - as with humans - that the Vorlons altered them. The Centauri are a possibility only due to their relationship with the Shadows and lack of one with the Vorlons, though the Centauri fetus on the Vorlon Homeworld indicates otherwise. The Drakh, whose telepathic abilities are unique, are a better possibility. Jul 19, 2014 at 0:02
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The Narns weren't actually very advanced at the time the Shadows occupied their world - they were nothing more than farmers under several scattered governments at the time of the first Centauri occupation, and that was in the early 2100s (G'Kar says that the Centauri left in 2209 in "And Now For A Word", and the occupation lasted about 100 years). When the Occupation began, the Narns had little-to-no space travel and viewed the Centauri as akin to gods.

So when the Shadows came to Narn during the first Shadow war, it must've seemed like the perfect place to use as a base: the Narns were far too technologically inferior to pose a material threat, and the people were superstitious enough to put any of their actions down to a type of god-being - including actions taken to get rid of the telepaths.

Of course, once the people as a whole realized what was happening, and they found out that telepaths could be used against the Shadows, they took advantage of that fact. G'Kar's reading from the Book of G'Quan in (I believe) "Ship of Tears" says that the very last of the Narn telepaths died driving the Shadows off Narn. So those that weren't killed died protecting the non-telepaths on the homeworld.

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  • That doesn't actually answer the question, correct though the information may be. Jul 2, 2014 at 2:15
  • Maybe not directly, but it points to how I've always understood it. The Shadows occupied Narn because it was technologically backward and therefore presumably safe for a base--but the Narn telepaths gave them serious trouble. The Shadows may have seen that as uppity in a race they considered beneath them, and in any case the Narn telepaths were a direct threat to them (maybe not too serious a threat, but a real one) since they were on the Narn homeworld...so they had to be eliminated.
    – peyre
    Aug 25, 2015 at 4:42
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Because they fought back;

"Then did the darkness come to Narn until it was driven out by G'Quan and the last of the surviving mindwalkers..."– Book of G'Quan.

The Shadows don't tolerate resistance, if they hadn't been at war, and apparently in need of a base I would think they would have done a lot worse, the phrase "planet buster" comes to mind.

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