Darth Maul at Camp Midichlorian
by the Plaid Adder
[Read The Plaid Adder's author bio]
Maul's sides hurt. The application lay crumpled up on his kitchen table between him and Sidious, and both of them had been laughing at it for a solid half-hour.
"It is priceless, my apprentice," said Sidious. "Where did you even find it?"
"My neighbor slipped it under my door with this note," Maul said, pulling a folded piece of paper out of his shorts. "'Hey neighbor--it looks like you could maybe use some extra cash, so I'm passing this along. You should apply! It's fun! I'll be there the whole rest of the summer. Hugs, Obi-Wan.'"
"'Hugs,' my apprentice?" Sidious said.
"Obi-Wan is of a sentimental turn of mind, my master," Maul growled. "It means nothing."
Sidious raised an eyebrow. Finally he said, "What is this 'Camp Midichlorian'?"
"It is some kind of summer camp for children who are in the preliminary stages of Jedi training," Maul said. "They are all under the age of 10. And he suggests that I should apply to be a counselor! Can you imagine, my master?"
"Yes," said Sidious. "I can."
Oh no, said Maul's gut. He's got that look in his eye.
"You will fill out the application and submit it," said Sidious.
"But my master, Camp Midichlorian recruits honest, chaste, clean-living, athletic types who can serve as positive role models for Jedi youth," said Maul. "It says so right on the application. I do not fit that description."
"And your neighbor does?"
"But my master--"
"He lied on his application, clearly; so can you." Maul opened his mouth. "After all, a true Sith must--"
"Excuse me, my master," said Maul, standing up abruptly. "I will be right back."
Boy, said Maul's gut as he leaned over the toilet, you better take along a big supply of Hamster Death Gulp.
"Hey neighbor! Wakey wakey!"
Maul groaned. The ancient springs in his wretched pallet creaked as he turned over on one side. "Go away this instant. If I awaken fully, I will begin the day by striking you down."
Obi-Wan looked concerned, but for Maul rather than for his own welfare. "You have to get up, neighbor. Breakfast is over at seven-thirty. If you don't get them up and into the showers--"
"What the hell time is it?" Maul roared.
"Six a.m.," Obi-Wan said cheerfully. "See, I thought you might need a little help waking up, I know normally you don't get off the couch till around three in the afternoon--"
"GO!" Maul shouted. "GO, OR YOU WILL PERISH IN FLAMES!"
But it was no use. The little brats were already up. Ten of them, all innocent-faced tow-headed charmers between the ages of seven and nine. All awake now.
"Counselor Maul," one whined. "I miss my mommy."
"Counselor Maul," said another. "I gotta bug bite! Will you kiss it and make it better?"
"Counselor Maul, Speedo's giving me a wedgie!"
"Counselor Maul, Zantac wet the top bunk and it's dripping on me!"
Maul leapt out of bed, clad in nothing but his boxer shorts.
"Ooh!" shouted one of them happily. "Teletubbies!"
"SHOWERS!" Maul shouted. "INTO THE SHOWERS! NOW!"
"Counselor Maul, I can't find my soap and towel," whined one of them.
They scampered out of the tent in terror and in various stages of undress. Maul began to realize that he was savagely hungry. He had to get them in and out of the showers before he could go to the mess hall. He herded them all into the rickety building at the top of the hill where all the plumbing was, chasing them into the stalls.
"Counselor Maul, the water's cold!"
"Cold water is good for you!" Maul roared. "It builds character!"
He turned the faucet on full-blast. Speedo shivered under the icy torrent. Maul charged down the stalls, turning on the spigots. Sometimes the water came out steaming; at others it came out at about one degree above freezing. Maul did not care. All that mattered was that the little brats were beginning to scrub down. None of them had smelled particularly sweet last night.
"C-C-C-counselor Maul," shuddered Speedo. "Is my c-c-character built enough yet?"
"Yes!" Maul shouted. "Showers over! Get dressed!"
"But my towel," whined Zantac. "I can't dry off--"
Maul opened his mouth. A torrent of flame leapt out of it toward Zantac's shivering body. Zantac realized, once he came out of his terror-induced catatonia, that his skin was now dry. His shorts were not, but he was afraid to mention it.
"To the mess hall!" Maul shouted. "MOVE!"
His charges began scrambling out of the showers. Maul sighed. That pain in the ass Qui-Gon had confiscated his gallon jug of Hamster Death Gulp during his orientation, and he was already feeling sore need of it. Perhaps he would find something at breakfast that would settle his stomach.
"What's the matter, neighbor?" chirped Obi-Wan. "Don't you like green eggs and ham?"
Maul had, in fact, a particular fondness for the green eggs of the Zabrakian peahen, but that was not what was on his plate. This lumpy, curdled mess had begun life as some very much other color, but after being dehydrated, stored in a barrel for three years, and rehydrated by an incompetent cook in a 40-gallon drum had turned it into this. He looked to the bacon for relief; but found himself unable to contemplate even touching this slimy, rubbery, undercooked thing, let alone ingesting it.
"I do not like them, Obi-Wan."
"Too bad," said Obi-Wan, sitting down with his group at the next table.
Maul stared at his plate. He noticed that his campers were working their way through the food, more out of a sense of duty than enthusiasm.
His stomach, not surprisingly, was speaking to him again.
It offends me, said Maul's gut. It must perish in flames.
Maul stared at the green eggs and ham. They burst into flame.
"Aaagh!" shrieked Zantac, as he recoiled from the sudden fire.
"Cool!" murmured Speedo, from across the table.
"Counselor Maul," said Yugo. "Can you make my breakfast perish in flames too?"
"Mine too!" shouted Mazda.
Maul began to smile.
"Very good, Counselor Maul!" said Qui-Gon, passing by the table. "Your group has completely cleaned their plates. Very, very good!"
The campers beamed up at Qui-Gon innocently. He passed the other table, letting his hand trail gently over Obi-Wan's cropped hair as he went up to the front of the room.
"Good morning, my apprentices!"
"Good morning, Master Qui-Gon!" chirped the campers.
While Qui-Gon spouted platitudes to the rapt campers, Maul searched the room vainly for something edible. He briefly considered the cat that was running around by Obi-Wan's legs, but something in his head told him that even in such an extreme situation as this the killing and eating of such a noble animal was inexcusable.
"And now guess what time it is!" Qui-Gon said, clapping his hands.
"Singing time!" yelled back the campers.
"Oh NO," Maul shouted.
But it was too late. They were already started.
"The Force said to Yoda, 'Be mindful of the future, future,
The Force said to Yoda, 'Be mindful of the future, future,
Or else the Sith will--"
Everyone clapped at once. Maul started in his seat.
"Sneak up and shoot you, shoot you,
Children of the Force."
Maul wondered if there was any way he could open a major vein with his knife. Alas, it was far too blunt.
"So ri-ise, and shi-ine, and obey your master master,
Ri-ise, and shi-ine, and obey your master master,
You'll become a--"
There was another one of those deafening claps.
"Jedi faster faster,
Children of the Force."
There was a temporary lull. Maul let out a relieved sigh.
Then they started right up again.
"So Yoda, he went out, he went out, to Tatooine,
So Yoda, he went out, he went out to Tatooine--"
"Hey!" Maul whispered urgently to Obi-Wan.
"What is it, neighbor?" Obi-Wan said, letting the others keep up the tune.
"How long does this go on for?" he muttered.
"This is one of the shorter songs," Obi-Wan said. Maul sighed. "There's only about 45 more verses."
"Counselor Maul!" Zantac whined. "My legs are going numb!"
"Keep moving!" Maul roared.
"But what if I sink?"
"Your species is naturally buoyant! You have nothing to fear!"
It was a little chilly out on the dock that early in the morning; but at least Maul was not in the lake himself. Unlike his little charges, who were floundering around in their swimsuits attempting to keep afloat.
"Stroke you will!" Yoda was shouting over at the area for the Advanced class. "Breaststroke this is called! Not dogpaddle! Again!"
"Come, my little apprentices," Obi-Wan said, coaxing a group of extremely nervous five-year-olds into the shallows. "The water is your friend. You must flow with it."
"Counselor Maul!" Mazda spluttered. "Zantac's turning all purple!"
Maul stomped over to the end of the dock and used the Force to pull Zantac out of the water. He was still breathing. However, he did look a little blue.
"You are not drowning," Maul said.
"N-no, I'm just c-c-c-cold," Zantac shivered.
"You must let your rage and hatred flow through you," Maul told him. "They will keep you warm."
"H-h-how do I do that?" Zantac said.
Maul moved Zantac over to the dock and set him down on the end.
"All right, kids!" he said. "Everyone out of the water, we're going to do a few exercises."
"Strike out at it!" Maul shouted. "The lake is your enemy! You must defeat it or it will kill you!"
Maul stepped back to admire his work. He could hardly believe it. Zantac, Speedo, Mazda and even little Yugo were zipping from one line of bobbers to the other in what was a very passable butterfly, whacking the water with their little arms as they vented their rage and hatred.
A whistle blew in the distance. Qui-Gon was standing there in his Polo shirt and khaki shorts, having just stepped out of the sport utility landspeeder parked in the air behind him. Qui-Gon was dry as a bone and looking very comfortable. Maul, shivering in the cold and besplattered with slimy lake water, began to feel warmer as his rage and hatred flew comfortably through the familiar channels.
"Swimming time's over!" he shouted.
The campers didn't need to be told twice. They scrambled gratefully for dry land.
"Time for arts and crafts!" Qui-Gon said. "Today we're working with lanyards!"
"Oooh!" Obi-Wan squealed with glee. "Hurry up, kids!"
"I don't wanna make another stupid bracelet," Speedo complained.
"I can't do anything except box-stitch anyway," Zantac lamented.
"Fear nothing, my apprentices," said Maul. "There is much else to be done with leather. And if you are skilful and learn quickly," he whispered, "I will teach you a new song."
"Goody!" they shouted, running down the hill toward the dusty track to the arts and crafts shed.
"Excellent, my apprentice," said Maul, as Zantac showed him the finished product. "May I make one small suggestion?"
"Sure, Counselor Maul," he chirruped.
"If you knot some of these small glass beads onto the ends of the loose strips here," he said, "the flail will tear your assailant's flesh more effectively."
"Gee, thanks, Counselor Maul," said Zantac, and trotted off to the bead bin.
"Speedo," said Maul. "What is this you have fashioned?"
Speedo held up the long, sinuous cord of braided leather. "It is a whip, my counselor."
"I am well pleased," said Maul. "But I fear that these pieces of sea glass are not yet firmly fixed within the basic structure. If you will allow me--"
That damn whistle blew again. Qui-Gon was standing in the doorway.
"Come, my little Padawans!" Qui-Gon called. "It is time for lunch! Today we have lima beans!"
"Ooh, lima beans!" Obi-Wan cried in delight. "Come on, kids!"
Obi-Wan just barely made it out the door ahead of the crack of Speedo's whip. Bits of frosted, sculpted bottle glass scattered all over the floor.
"Do not dismay, my apprentice," said Maul. "The concept was good, although the execution was poor."
"I understand, my counselor."
"So ri-ise, and sla-ay, and strike down, your master master,
Ri-ise, and sla-ay, and strike down your master master,
Cause he's a sa--"
Maul and his campers all clapped together.
"--distic bastard bastard,
Children of the Sith."
They were about to launch full-voiced into the 32nd verse, but they were near the campsite now, and Maul held up a hand. They stopped.
"Silence, my apprentices," Maul whispered. "We must not reveal ourselves to the Jedi until we are strong enough to wipe them out."
"All of them, my counselor?" whispered Speedo.
"All of them."
Maul trooped his charges back to the tent and began getting them ready for bed. He found that he almost did not mind helping Zantac out of his shirt when he had trouble with the sleeves, or finding Yugo's stuffed bear where it had fallen down behind the tent platform. They were good kids, after all. "Come on," he said. "Out to the latrines."
"But it's dark in there, and it smells," said Zantac.
"That is as may be," Maul replied. "I do not want you soiling yourself in the night. Come with me."
It was only when he reached the latrines that he fully understood what Zantac was talking about. It was a rickety wooden structure, like everything else at the camp. Unlike everything else it also reeked both of organic waste and of the chemical preparation that had been poured liberally down the toilet pits that morning in a futile attempt to cover the smell. Bats, moths, and Gabrellian bloodflies flapped around Maul's head as he played the flashlight over the grimy toilet seats and the heaps of wadded up paper that littered the ground.
"You are quite right, my apprentices," Maul said to his hesitating campers. "This is unacceptable."
"Should we just go outside?" Speedo suggested.
"No!" Maul shouted. "Sith do not shit in the woods."
"What do Sith do then?" Zantac asked.
"Sith use the camp director's facilities," Maul answered. "Come with me."
"May I have some more of this Nabooan chocolate, my counselor?" asked Speedo.
"No, my apprentice," Maul said. "I do not want to have to make a return trip. Sleep now."
"Counselor Maul?" Zantac piped up.
"Yes, my apprentice?"
"How did you know Master Qui-Gon wouldn't be home?"
"I will tell you when you are older, my apprentice. Now go to sleep."
Silence finally fell on the tent. Maul smiled to himself as he lay on his back. Not only had they all enjoyed a warm shower and a peaceful dump, but they had lifted most of Qui-Gon's stash of chocolate, cookies, and hair gel. They were progressing well. Soon, they would rise up and slay him.
Maul's eyes suddenly opened wider.
"Counselor Maul!" Zantac shouted. "Someone stole all my underwear!"
"Do not be ridiculous, my apprentice," Maul said. "You have simply mislaid it. Here, I will find it--"
But Zantac had not mislaid it. His trunk had clearly been rifled through, and there was not a clean pair of underwear to be found.
"Counselor Maul!" Yugo wailed. "I can't find any clean underwear!"
Maul was beginning to notice a pattern. An investigation revealed that everyone's underwear had mysteriously disappeared from the tent. Including Maul's.
"Counselor Maul?" Speedo said.
"Is this a good time to let my rage and hatred flow through me?"
"Yes, my apprentice," Maul muttered. "Come with me, my apprentices. Soon we will have revenge."
Maul hustled out of the tent at the head of a pajama-clad parade of tow-headed campers. He stopped when he got a look at the flagpole in the center of the courtyard.
"By the flames of hell," Maul said. "What does it mean?"
He saw then that the bushes around the flagpole, and the eaves of the mess hall, were festooned with underwear. And that up at the top of the pole, flying free in the breeze, were...
"Look, Counselor Maul!" Zantac shouted, pointing. "Aren't those your undies?"
"Oooh!" said one of the other campers. "Teletubbies!"
Indeed, Maul's Teletubby boxer shorts were flying from the camp's flagpole. Maul undid the line and hauled them down.
"Hey, neighbor!" said Obi-Wan.
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?" Maul bellowed.
Obi-Wan laughed. "Gee, neighbor, lighten up. It's just a panty raid."
"What do you mean?" Maul demanded.
"It's a Camp Midichlorian tradition. It helps train the kids to be strong with the Force. You try to sneak into the other tent and steal all their underwear without waking them up." Obi-Wan beamed. "My kids did well, don't you think?"
Maul stared at him. Obi-Wan smiled back obliviously.
"Come on, kids!" he called. "Everyone go pick up all the underwear you stole and give it back to the person it belongs to!"
Maul gaped. Obi-Wan's little brats were scampering about the place picking up the purloined underwear, folding it neatly, and handing it politely back to Zantac, Speedo, and the others.
"See?" Obi-Wan said. "It's all in good fun." Obi-Wan walked off. "See you at breakfast!"
"Shall I strike him down in anger, my counselor?" said Speedo.
"No, my apprentice," Maul mused. "We will bide our time. We must wait for the right moment. But we will have revenge. Oh yes. We will have revenge."
By The Little Inferno. Click to see larger image.
"Gee, Counselor Maul," said Zantac. "How come Obi-Wan's undies are so shiny and silky soft?"
"I will tell you when you are older, my apprentice," said Maul. "Place them on the pile with the others."
Zantac tossed the lime-green G-string onto the heap of linen that had been built around the flagpole. That was the last of them. There was not a clean pair of underwear anywhere in the environs of Obi-Wan's tent.
"Now, my apprentices!" Maul shouted. "Let your rage and hatred flow through you! Strike the underwear down! Take your vengeance!"
Flames leapt up toward the night sky.
"In all of my years of running Camp Midichlorian, I have never had to let a counselor go," said Qui-Gon sadly. "But I am afraid I must. Maul, you are fired."
"No, it is you who are fired," said Maul. "Or you soon will be, once my apprentices let their rage and hatred flow through them."
"Your campers have been reassigned to Yoda's group," said Qui-Gon, looking out the window. The sound of singing floated through it.
"...so ri-se, and shi-ine, and your master you o-bey o-bey..."
Maul could not believe it. They were sitting there looking just as angelic as they always had, tow heads shining in the sun and little faces smiling with insipid glee. He did not understand. They had been coming along so well.
"I don't blame you, myself," Qui-Gon sighed. "You must not have understood how impressionable children are at this age. By telling them stories about the Sith, you may have thought you were instructing them about the evil of the dark side, but I'm afraid they responded very differently from what you expected."
"Yes," Maul said, looking out at the singing campers, who were now linking arms and swaying as they sang.
"Da-go-bah, my lord, Da-go-bah..."
"Yoda will soon have them back on the path to the light side," said Qui-Gon. "Meanwhile, I'm afraid management have made their decision and it's final." He sighed. "Is there any way I can make it up to you?"
"I do not think so," said Maul, surprised at how bitterly disappointed he was.
"We'll get you a transport out tomorrow," said Qui-Gon. "Here, why don't you spend tonight out on the town, at the camp's expense? It's Obi-Wan's night off--I'm sure he'd be delighted to show you around."
"Thank you, my director."
"Don't mention it."
Maul lifted his head. It felt about ten times as heavy as usual, and was throbbing in exquisite pain.
Pal, said Maul's gut, if you're gonna drink like that, you better make sure the first thing you see in the morning isn't your master's ugly mug.
"Get in the Infiltrator."
Maul hoisted his dufflebag and climbed morosely aboard. The Infiltrator took off, Obi-Wan waving goodbye at it from outside his tent. Maul felt a strange pang of some kind of pain that was distinct from his usual Hamster Death Hangover.
"Well," said Sidious with a grin. "How are your rage and hatred?"
"I have decided, my master," said Maul. "The time to strike you down is now."
In the skies above Camp Midichlorian, a Sith Infiltrator veered erratically through the air. Obi-Wan watched in concern, but eventually it righted itself and headed resolutely off into space.
"Come on, kids," Obi-Wan said, hiding the lump in his throat. "Breakfast time! It's gruel today!"
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