Paws of the Master
a Sith Academy story
by James Walkswithwind
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Maul stood before his Master, perplexed. Sidious was holding the Academy cat in his arms. She was purring as the Dark Lord rubbed her head.
"Yes, my Master?" Maul asked cautiously. He had learned in the last two semesters not to assume anything when it came to new lessons. But the way the cat was ignoring him made him nervous.
"It is time you learned to truly embrace the Dark Side," Sidious said in a low, sibilant tone.
Maul blinked. Hadn't he been doing that all year? What was all that stuff about learning to annoy morons if not getting in touch with the Dark Side? But he nodded and said nothing but, "Yes, Master."
"Take her," his master instructed as he held out the cat. Maul took the cat in his arms. She was still purring. Maul rubbed her head.
"Now, go in there," Sidious pointed. Maul looked, and was even more confused.
"All right," Maul said and he headed for the bathroom. He was surprised when his Master shut the door behind him.
"Master?" he called.
"You may not leave until the cat is clean."
Maul felt a tremble in his darkened soul. Clean? Surely he didn't mean... He looked around, and saw a towel and pet shampoo by the sink.
Maul choked down a wail.
At first he simply tried to hold her with one hand, and turn on the water with the other. He got the faucet on but the cat slipped out of his grasp -- biting him on the thumb as she slipped free. Maul tried to catch her with the Force but again she wriggled free. Maul felt the tendrils of the Force slapping his hands away when he reached out; blinking, he stared at the cat as she ran behind the toilet. She gave him a disdained glare worthy of a Sith Lord and turned her back to him.
Muttering to himself, Maul approached her, hands and Force ready. Getting down on his knees, he started to squeeze into the tiny space between the commode and wall. She ignored him until he was just about to grab her then she leapt. Maul fell face forward into the wall. As he tried to squeeze back out he felt a sharp pain in his leg where the cat had just swiped him. He yelled and pushed himself free, turning to glare at the little furball.
He managed to actually get his hand on her, though he wasn't sure exactly how. She dangled from his hand by the scruff of her neck and Maul wasted no time gloating although "Gloating 101" had been the first class he'd taken. He rushed for the sink instead, now full of water as he'd completely forgotten to shut off the faucet. With one motion he brought his hand towards the sink, cursing as she twisted in his hand and swatted at his arm. He should have worn padded workout gear -- if the Sith Academy had had any of the stuff.
Maul had almost dropped her in the sink when she spun out of his grasp. Half of her landed in the sink anyhow, but she climbed out -- using his arm as a safety line -- and jumped for freedom again. He started to go after her as she leapt again from the counter and froze when he felt her land on his back.
Maul screamed and flung her off, not caring where she landed or how. He was surprised when she landed in the sink. He quickly grabbed the shampoo with the Force.
That was when he got a faceful of angry cat.
Time for Plan B.
An hour after his Master had shut him up with this demon creature Maul opened the bathroom door and found his Master waiting for him. Sidious raised an eyebrow at him. Maul knew he looked a sight -- he was covered head to toe with bleeding cuts and scratches. Inside he was seething -- the Dark Side washing over him in glorious waves which normally he would have appreciated if it weren't for this Bantha Poodoo cat!
"Is the cat washed?" his Master asked mildly. Maul wavered between strangling the yowling, struggling thing and simply thrusting the cat at Sidious and telling him to wash her himself.
Instead he said, "Not yet, my lord." Maul held up the writhing towel in which the screaming cat was wrapped. He was using all his concentration to keep the Force focused on keeping the animal trapped in her cloth prison.
"Then why have you disobeyed my instructions?" his Master asked with an ominous tone.
"I figured out a better way to get it done, my Master." Maul walked out of the room, letting his Master follow him. He headed down to the utility closet and found a box. He dumped the cat in, quickly used the Force to hold the box closed while he taped it shut, then added a few carefully placed holes for air.
It wouldn't do for the cat to arrive dead. That would make it all too easy.
He found a marker and addressed the box to 'Obi-Wan Kenobi, Student, Jedi Academy, Coruscant', and added a note of instruction. "Please wash and return."
Maul looked up and found his Master smiling. "You have done well, my apprentice. Call FedHex then join me in the kitchen."
One week later FedHex delivered a package to the Jedi Academy. It had been mailed 'Overnight' but as soon as the box had hit their warehouse the cat had escaped. FedHex personnel had spent five days trying to catch the cat and re-box her. The box was standard, heavy-load, extra-durable FedHEx official "your packaging was insufficient so we re-boxed it at your expense" packaging. There were dents on all corners where it had been dropped, and long tears in several sides. The delivery boy looked vastly relieved to get it delivered.
The Jedi at the front desk signed for the box and called for Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan took the box to his room and opened it, all the while trying to recall what, if anything, he had ordered. It was too early for his 12" Qui-Gon doll to have arrived, and Good Vibrations had refused his credit card as over-limit. Confused, he decided to simply open it and find out what it was. He found a small striped cat sleeping in the box, a pile of empty tuna cans piled in one corner.
He looked at the address label again. Who did he know on Inthia Prime? He blinked when he saw the instructions and looked into the box with dismay. Quickly he closed the box and carried it out of his room, heading for the bathroom. He almost called his Master, but it occurred to him this might be another of those mysterious tests of his Jedi skills. Asking for help might count against him.
He closed the bathroom door behind him and opened the box again. The cat blinked at him and yawned. It had very long teeth. Obi-Wan suspected they were sharp. He suspected its claws were also sharp. He suspected he would know with absolute certainty just how sharp, very soon. He picked up the bottle of shampoo and began talking quietly and coaxingly to the cat.
Qui-Gon was shocked when, walking down the hallway towards his apprentice's quarters, he heard said apprentice yelling some very un-Jedi-like things from the bathroom.
That night, back at the Sith Academy, Maul was getting in touch with his dark side again.
"Inside or outside! Make up your mind!" he snarled as the night's cold air blasted in on him through the open door. Why, if the stupid cat could teleport home all the way from Coruscant could it not let itself outside?!? The cat sat in the doorway and licked its paw. At least the cat was freshly shampooed and had had a note on its collar when it appeared home. Maul snickered. He wasn't the only one getting in touch with his dark side....
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