Recorded Log, Prisoner 11375
-- The following is a transcript of a prison confession, dating from the first year of Imperial Rule. --
You ask me, but honestly, I have no idea why I have been jailed, other than due to the mercurial whims of the Empire. I have been imprisoned while other men and women have simply been rounded up and blasted right on the streets of Theed. It was once a beautiful city. True, it was crowded, but never cluttered or grimy. It was the crown jewel of Naboo, where the ideals of peace, liberty and equality reigned, epitomized by our elected monarchs. It was not a perfect system, that's true. We have suffered corruption; but the system worked. For every bad king or queen, there followed a savior.
My name is Palo; I am an artist, in the long tradition of artists and artisans of Naboo. On many systems, the likes of me would have been kicked aside as society's sponges, living off the sweat of the workers. But on sophisticated and pretty Naboo, art was honored and heavily sponsored and subsidized. Beauty and aesthetics were important, even to the lowliest among us. The people relied on our ilk to convey their mood to those in positions of power; those in power expected us to beautify our world and to calm the masses.
Which brings me back to my original musings -- why am I alive? When so many others have been murdered by the unfeeling troops? Why is my studio still left untouched, when buildings have been smashed like so much unwanted crockery? Well, that's as far as I know, anyway. But when the soldiers arrived to arrest me, they did not behave as I expected. They did not smash everything to pieces, as had happened to many of my colleagues, nor had they torched the canvases or the building. I heard them invoke the name of the dark lord, Darth Vader, that foul right hand of the evil Emperor, and warn each other to be careful. They seemed terrified of Vader, as well they might, judging from many of the stories I've heard.
How can I be of any interest to the Empire? True, I was in the administrative youth program once, but that was long, long ago. Surely, they don't think I know anything of import to them? When I was 16, I left it, understanding that my destiny was not that of a politician. It was clear to me that my mind was not made for negotiations or bending the wills of the masses with words and promises. I did not have the stomach for campaigning and decision making that many of my classmates had.
In fact, I recall being shamed by a much younger girl; we had been assigned to debate together as a team, and then when we had won, we were to debate one another. To be honest, we won simply because she was so good. I was terrified, could hardly speak, but she was stellar. Her name was Padmé Naberrie back then, and she was a mere 11 years old. She beat me soundly, spearing my arguement apart deftly, pushing her points solidly. And she was cute, charming, smart, and I thought she was adorable. How can any man or boy stand up to such a combination?
I doodled many sketches of my Padmé, filling many notebooks with observations and drawings of her instead of studying. I was young and still not trained, but I was smitten with her, and I fancied my drawings to be perfect. In time, I left the program, and I forgot about her until the following year when she was voted Princess of Theed, then two years later, when she beat King Veruna in a landslide election. Do you recall I told you for every corrupt monarch, we had a savior following? She was the savior in this case. Singlehandedly, she brought Naboo back from the dark edges of scandal. And then when the Trade Federation invaded us, she escaped, then forged an alliance with the Gungans. Together, the Gungan and the Naboo won the battle against them. From my point of view, knowing of her toughness, her persuasiveness and intelligence, it was all due to Padmé's skills and courage.
What, you don't know who she is? She was queen once; she is nowadays referred to by her official name, Amidala. You know what that means, don't you? The amida is the beautific, holy glow surrounding the head of a god. Whether she is the god or the glow seems irrelevant. The name suits her; she deserves it.
But now, Amidala, or Padmé as I always think of her, is gone. No one seems to know who she is anymore, or even where she can be. Well, soon there may be no one left who remembers anything about Naboo. Last night, Queen Jamilla was executed publically, and it was as if our collective soul is draining along with her blood. Our peoples have been subjugated, and it's a wonder we have any will left to do anything. We have revolted before, but there has always been a leader like Padmé. The Naboo are brave, but we put our trust into our leaders, and none seem to be left anymore. So many of us are dead, too. I wonder, is my Padmé dead, too?
My wife teases me about that young crush I had on Padmé Naberrie. After she saved Naboo, I fell in love with her all over again, but I knew it was ridiculous to pursue her. She was much too busy; she probably doesn't remember me. But I did many paintings of her, of her home in Varykino (where I stole kisses and shared embraces with her!), of the seas, fields and meadows that we and our classmates played together. She loved Naboo with her heart and soul, and I celebrated her love by creating works of art that I fancied were from her point of view.
My wife visited me this morning. She told me that soon, our home will be gone. Curiously, my works were carefully wrapped by the soldiers and taken away, even my old sketchpads. She said they were especially and pointedly interested in the ones from the days I was doodling around while still harboring dreams of being a politician; those books are filled with scribbles of my Padmé's silky hair or her large luminous brown eyes. What strange behavior from Imperial dragoons! Then the dark lord arrived and personally told my wife to find refuge elsewhere, for they would remove everything from my home and studio, then burn it to the ground. I am worried for her. She is worried for me, for we don't know what our fates will be. She could be arrested any time now, just as I will likely be executed for no reason at all. It seems Darth Vader has taken personal interest in my paintings and drawings; that can't bode well for me, can it?
I have told my wife to leave me forever, to save herself since her association with me can come to no good. Vader might kill me, or he might enslave me. She wept silently and I kissed her goodbye. Who knows if I will get a chance to kiss her again? My dear wife did not swear vengeance; she is practical, like I remember my Padmé, and she kissed me, and did not look back.
As for myself, I have to be content. I have known love, albeit young and innocent, then unrequited. My wife will weep for me in the morning when, undoubtedly, I will be interrogated or tortured for information I frankly do not have. I, at least, have created art which I am proud of, even though I don't know to what end the Empire will use it. I will leave behind something. Perhaps that corrupt Palpatine will see one of my paintings and remember that he is from Naboo, and it might stay his hand when sentencing of some other system to oblivion. Or perhaps they will hang in some museum, so that the masses might come to know what beauty can be, and might inspire their shame in allowing a place such as Naboo to be destroyed. But most likely, it will be sold or confiscated by some collector who has an odd sense of humor, "Here are works from that quaint planet of Naboo -- all of her people are extinct now, of course!"
At least I will have left something behind, whoever ends up with it. Perhaps it might even fall into the hands of some high-ranking officer, or even the home or office of the likes of Darth Vader! Well, that would be a joke, the embodiment of evil wanting scribbles of my love interest in the callow days of my youth. It's good to laugh before dying, I hear. Well, whatever they want from me, they can't take it all away.
When it's time for me to die, I will remember my Padmé. I will die as I expect she would in my situation. What a situation, she is still saving me, this time from disgracing myself in death!
-- End transcript. --
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