Disclaimer: Anyone who thinks these characters are anyone's but Lucas's is on crack. I merely had a little fun with them. OK... a lot.
The blame -- I mean credit -- goes to the usual suspects. Siubhan for the playground, Darth Vyola for beta-ing, Brian for help in herding plot-bunnies.
Note: This is a follow-up to "Sith Academy: Waterloo". Any resemblance to the movie Jeffrey is purely intentional. [Ed. note: if you haven't seen Jeffrey, what are you waiting for?!? Run out and rent it now! Yes, now! Better yet, buy it! - Siubhan]
Sidious walked into Maul's apartment carrying a brown cardboard box. He looked around and noted the crumbs on the wood coffee table, dirty clothes lining the hall, and what looked like a lightsaber scorch mark on the wall that separated Maul's apartment from the Jedi wannabe. It hadn't taken long for the place to revert back to its original state. Obviously Maul preferred the creature comforts to cleanliness.
Sidious sighed in relief. It had just been a fluke, that rage-enhancing forward thinking.
He spotted Maul sitting on the couch sans cushions. Brooding.
Maul brooded quite well.
"I've brought you something," Sidious said.
Maul warily eyed the box, refusing to get his hopes up. It was the right size and shape. It couldn't possibly be the PlayStation. Could it? He was going insane with nothing to do except remember the previous night. At least the ABBA songs had stopped coming from the apartment next door. "What is it?"
Sidious set it down on the dirty coffee table and motioned with his hands. The box opened and a black electronic rectangular item floated in the air and settle down on the floor by the TV.
It wasn't a PlayStation.
But it sure looked like a-
"DVD!!!!" Maul exclaimed excitedly. "Oh wow, my master. This is almost better than the PlayStation." He knelt beside the machine. "This is-
"DIVX!" Sidious announced proudly.
Maul read the label. "DIVX!" he spat disgustedly.
"Yes, DIVX," Sidious insisted. "I thought you would like something since you broke all of your entertainment in a meaningless effort to keep yourself from-"
"Yes, yes. Must we go into that?" Maul muttered.
"So here you are. DIVX. No need to return those rentals ever again. I can watch The Bridges of Madison County whenever I feel like it. No more late fees."
Maul glared at the DIVX, hoping that if he channeled the dark side of the force he could turn it into a DVD player. "Whatever made you buy this?"
"The salesman at Circuitry Central said it was just the thing. Everyone would be buying these."
Sidious flashed back to the salesman who bore an uncanny resemblance to that Qui-Gon Jinn fellow.
"Are you sure?" Sidious had asked.
The sure-looks-like-that-Qui-Gon-Jinn-Jedi-guy smiled expansively. "I'm positive. DIVX is all the rage. Imagine never having to return your rentals. No more late fees. All the convenience of having a movie whenever you like."
"Isn't that what Pay-Per-View does?"
The Qui-Gon look-alike shook his head. "Sure but those movies rotate. Trust me on this. DIVX is here to stay. I have foreseen it."
Sidious shrugged. After all, what did he know about electronics or construction? When he ruled the galaxy and built star destroyers he wasn't going to put in any safety rails.
"Okay. I'll take it."
Qui-Go -- er, the salesman turned to the register. Sidious could have sworn he heard a muttered, "Sucker."
He must have been mistaken.
"DIVX has been discontinued!" Maul snarled.
"Eh?" Sidious snapped back to the present.
"You can't even get rentals anymore. The product has been canceled. Perhaps I should just put it next to the laserdisc and the betamax machine you brought in last week." Maul stopped himself when the air started to smell suspiciously like ozone. "I mean, maybe you can get your money back. My master."
It was early evening by the time Maul and Sidious walked up to the front of the apartment complex. The return process had been brutal. Maul preferred to inflict that sort of retail torture on other helpless beings, not be the recipient.
"See? Didn't he bear a striking resemblance to that irritatingly good Jedi master?"
"Only because he was the same person," Maul muttered.
Sidious paused at the base of the stairs. "I'm sensing a rebellious streak in you, Maul. Curb it. Now."
"Yes, my master."
Sidious stared at his apprentice, making sure there was no trace of mockery. "You still have much to learn."
"Yes, my master."
Sidious nodded. "And besides, we got a partial refund and certificates good toward the purchase of several movies of our choice."
Maul was in trouble enough as it was without pointing out that the movies were Rob Roy, Michael Collins, Nell, and Excalibur. There was a pattern there. He could sense it.
At that moment Qui-Gon appeared followed shortly by a chipper Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"Oh hi, Maul. Hi, Sid," greeted the twit.
Maul grunted. Sidious winked over his apprentice's head.
"What's with the t-shirts?" Maul growled indicating the matching pink t-shirts the two Jedi had on.
Obi-Wan pirouetted. "Like it? Qui-Gon wanted to do something with a t-shirt. So here we are. The Pink Padawans."
Bile rose in Maul's throat. Had it been less than 24 hours ago that he and Obi-Wan had-
A beeper went off and Qui-Gon stopped glaring at Maul long enough to answer his Jedi communicator. "What's that? No! Oh my. We'll be right there." He turned to his padawan. "Mace Windu has just been spotted entering The Grey Side of the Force. In shorts!"
"Shorts?" Obi-Wan's eyes lit up.
Maul was going to puke.
"We have to go." Qui-Gon dragged the twit away. Obi-Wan cast a leer over his shoulder at Maul.
It was disconcerting, Maul thought, the way the twit could jump back and forth between two personalities like that. This last bit confirmed it, much to Maul's dismay.
The twit didn't have a twin brother.
"And now I will leave you, Maul," Sidious announced. "I had originally intended to start on another lesson but you look strained and it is not yet time to break you." He closed his eyes and shuddered, a smile curving his thin lips. "So close. Yes. I will leave you to your silent apartment and the rage-engendering memories of why it is that way."
Sidious spun on his heel and left. Maul wished he'd reached the chapter in the Sith Handbook on lightning bolts. He'd send a zap up his master's-
Maul watched Sidious pause and turn back to look at him. The expression of delight told Maul his master knew what he was thinking.
And liked it.
Maul quickly moved up the steps to his apartment and came to a dead halt. There on his GO AWAY doormat was a cardboard box.
On top was written, "To Maul."
Maul kicked open the door of his apartment and brought the box inside. He set it on the coffee table and stared at it.
Was this another trick?
He opened it and peered inside.
A PlayStation. Not just any one, either. A Limited Edition PlayStation. Maul reverently lifted it from the box and placed it where the other model had been.
A fresh from the Corellian shipyard/electronics factories, brand-new Mega Millennium Limited Edition Outer Rim version PlayStation.
He looked back inside the box to find not only the pirated, uncensored, complete-with-subtitles Sailor Moon game but also Darth Lara Croft III: Kill, Pillage & Plunder. The version where he could make her go naked with the right keystroke combination. He'd read about that at the Gaming Forum on sithacademy.edu.
Darth Lara seemed to wink at him from the case cover and whisper, "Miss me much?"
Maul's gaze finally rested on a card. He picked it up and read.
Last night was wonderful. Please accept this small token. I couldn't help but notice something awful had occurred to your other one.
P.S. I think there's a problem with your shower.
Maul was sure he hadn't screamed but the still-ringing echoes suggested otherwise.
He would not accept this...token...from his idiot neighbor. No matter how much he had coveted this latest DVD 50 trillion-bit holographic version of the PlayStation. How could he possibly get any enjoyment knowing who gave it to him?
Then again, a voice whispered, wasn't the twit responsible for you needing a new one in the first place?
Yes, but still.
It's all his fault. He owes you this.
"No!" Maul put the PlayStation and games back in the box with trembling hands.
Give in, the voice whispered.
On shaky legs, Maul rose and carried the box outside and stood in front of Obi-Wan's door.
You want it.
You need it.
You will keep it. Play with it. Enjoy it.
Maul nodded. "I will keep the PlayStation. Yes." He turned and went back inside his apartment.
On the other side of the padawan's door Fluffi-Wan crouched serenely amid a nest of cedar chips. Everything was going just as he had foreseen.
Back in Maul's apartment a naked Darth Lara Croft explored the hidden ruins beyond the Dune Sea on Tatooine.
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