"O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! Heart! Heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."
- Walt Whitman
2278, Centauri Prime
Timov of Algul gently took the formal proclamation hand-delivered by the Centaurum's messenger. She broke the embossed seal and unfolded the letter which both declared Emperor Mollari II dead and anointed her Empress Dowager of the Centauri Republic. Knowing the date and time it would be delivered – poignantly chosen as the eve of a New Year - Timov had stood waiting for it at the altar of the lord of gods, Trias, where all Emperors were crowned before the Pantheon and the Republic.
After scanning the contents and finding nothing amiss, she folded the note again, and she gazed at Vir and Senna who patiently waited before her. She knew they would bear this burden together which would make it easier to endure. Timov remembered Londo's growled expletives every time anyone had deigned mention the inheritance of the Crown – he had never wished this burden on anyone else, let alone individuals who remained among his most cherished. But her thoughts were interrupted by the solemn tolling of the palace's bells, mourning the deceased emperor. The announcement of the Emperor's death officially closed the previous year, darkened as it was by tragic and bloody events, but the New Year would be the tale of a new monarch facing challenges both new and old, and the bells turned cheerful as the hour of midnight passed, signaling the Centauri New Year.
The Centaurum had left the last act of the coronation to Empress Dowager Timov, in light of the circumstances. She glanced at the seal laying on the silver platter before her, and she gently grasped it, running a finger over its embossed gold. It had brought her so much heartache and perhaps some joy as well, but now it was a new generation's turn to bear its burden. She raised it slowly. Over her shoulder, a towering statue of Trias stretched his enormous hand over the altar, simulating the pantheon's blessing of the new emperor.
Timov took the necklace, the symbol of the Centauri, fashioned by mastersmiths in distant memory, and she raised it upward toward the gods who watched the proceedings from embellished frescoes covering every nook and cranny of the vaulted ceiling. Timov glanced momentarily at Vir and Senna, both now kneeling before her. Timov smiled and addressed the billions of Centauri viewers, "Are you willing to take the oath?" she turned to Vir.
"I am willing," Vir replied.
"Vir, you will be bound by the needs of the gods and the people and give only such guidance as will safeguard the Republic, knowing that the care, cultivation, and preservation of the gods and their chosen people is supreme?"
"I will be bound."
"Vir, arise," Timov commanded, and Vir arose, nervous tension wracking his body. He managed a smile at the petite woman in front of him before he stepped back two paces with a bow.
"Senna," Timov turned. "Are you willing to take the oath?"
"I am willing," Senna echoed her acceptance.
Timov paused as the moment took hold of her. She repeated the words spoken at the coronation of every Centauri Emperor since Emperor Tuscano, the first Centauri Emperor., "You promise to lead our people with justice, execute mercy in your judgments, and safeguard the sanctity of the Centauri people and each of its gods?"
"This I promise to do," Senna bowed her head.
Timov allowed herself a faint smile as she looked fondly at the young woman, and she handed the seal to the principle priest of Trias. The priest finished his incantations and laid the seal around the young woman's neck. "Long live Empress Senna," he bowed to her, "and Emperor-Consort, Vir Cotto."
Although the day was a triumph for the Centauri people, it had been a long road. Senna flashed a smile at the crowd and she slipped one hand into Timov's and another into Vir's. "I wish Papa was here," Senna whispered into Timov's ear through the echoing cheers.
"Londo is here in spirit," Timov whispered back. "He was so proud of the woman you have become. Now, it is a new day and a new year. Go and lead the people, and prove everyone right who has believed in you through these long and dark years."
Empress Senna nodded, the crowd's cheers overwhelming the trio. Each of three could not help but think of the long and bleak events that had led them to this moment as only the second – nay third – woman took the reins of the Centauri Republic.