Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lunch with Palpatine

The Emperor doesn't come out that much. Well, that is, he doesn't come out and mingle with us that much. Tarkin and Palpatine could go out for fresh-brewed Corellian ales every night for all I know. Heck, he's always walking around in those black robes, he could have a dancing outfit on underneath. You know what they say, it's always the ones you least suspect that get drunk and make a wild bantha of themselves at a wedding.

In any case, the Emperor has finished his stay here on the "Death Star" since final preparations are being tweaked and we'll be leaving Coruscant orbit soon. Someone talked Palpatine into having a mess hall lunch/Q&A session with the good workers of the "Death Star" since he'll be returning to the capital soon. I went to the mess hall with Fun Commander. It was...interesting. It started off with Palpatine picking up a tray and selecting his food, just like we do every day. The serving droids didn't get nervous around him, but the person standing in line behind him kept his distance. Not too far behind, not too close, just...casual.

Palpatine walked over to the soda fountain and fixed himself a fizzy soft drink, then sat down at a large table at the front of the mess hall. Tarkin, walking as upright and stick-up-his-ass as ever, took a microphone and called everyone's attention. "Good workers of the Death Star," he began, "it is my true pleasure to announce that the Emperor has graced us with his presence on his last day on board the station. The Emperor wants to express his gratitude and the floor will be open for questions as we all enjoy our lunch."

Wild applause sprain out - the canned kind, where there's no hooting or hollering, but a very, very loud set of hands slamming against each other. Like trained Belikian sea dragons applauding the sunset, we were good Imperial workers.

Palpatine took the microphone. "The Death Star is the ultimate power in the galaxy, bringing peace to all regions under Imperial supervision. Thank you for your hard work in making this the greatest space station in known history. Now, I will answer any questions that you may have." Palpatine set the microphone down took a bite out of the special bantha hide (I wonder if they had Vader prepare it? His cooking did kick ass last time.), chewing very slowly and methodically and...well...for quite some time. I don't think his teeth have held up too well.

I've listed some of the more bizarre questions below (I think people had been drinking at this point, especially the night shifters). I'll credit the Emperor, he showed a bit of wit that I didn't know he had. I suppose you have to be smooth if you're as successful as he is at the politics game.

Question: Who do you like better, Vader or Tarkin?

Answer: (Palpatine greeted this question with a sneer, then a light chuckle). Lord Vader has been my apprentice for many years. We've had many adventures together, seen a great many things. However...just between you and I...and him (nods at Tarkin)...Vader can be awfully...dry...to talk to at times. The good Moff (nods at Tarkin again) at least has the dignity to keep up with latest in fine arts. I shall leave it at that.

Question: What are you wearing under those robes?

Answer: (without thinking, just a smirk) More power than you can possibly imagine...nuh huh huh huh huh huh (at this point, nervous laughs go through the crowd. I think the mental image of Palpatine without robes offered a bit of mass disturbance)

Question: Do your red guards ever get to sit down or do they just stand next to you all day?

Answer: Fortunately, my guards are peak physical specimans that can handle the rigors of standing next to an old politican all day. (Palpatine looked over to one and he simply nodded) Between you and me, though, I believe they may have learned to sleep standing up behind those helmets.

And then there was Captain Stupid, who of course had to screw things up. He grabbed the question microphone and failed to actually ask a question, just gushed like a babbling idiot for way too long. "My lord, it's so good to talk with you again. It's me! Captain Stupid! Remember, we met when Tarkin showed you my modifications to the thermal exhaust port? Yup, that's me. Oh, in case you're curious, things are going well with that and the modifications are getting done right on schedule, in fact it's going to save 50% power efficiency in the..."

At this point, Palpatine offered a weak, tired politician's smile and muttered, "What is your question?"

Captain Stupid, surprisingly, was very frank. "What are our defense plans in case the Rebels try to attack?"

The room hushed. No one thoguht that there was actually going to be a serious question involved here. Palpatine looked at Tarkin, who lowered his brow and gave a stern grimmace.

Palpatine looked right at Captain Stupid and said, "This station is more powerful than any ship in their fleet. Once the main gun is ready, no ship can withstand it."

Captain Stupid replied, "Are we preparing for any smaller range attacks?"

Palpatine said, "I believe I answered your question. The Rebels will not be able to attack a station of our firepower. Is that satisfactory?"

Captain Stupid bowed his head and said, "Yes sir, that's good to know."

The audience asked Palpatine a few more easy questions before he finished up his mess hall lunch and walked out, flanked by his customary red guards. Palpatine doesn't really seem like that bad of a guy. He's certainly not as cranky as I thought he'd be, and he had a much better sense of humor than Tarkin, who remains a jerk.


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