Sith Academy: Economics
by The Intrepid Condo-Owning Housemate Emerita Melissa TM
[Read Melissa's author bio]
Thanks to Siubhan for ideas and beta reading.
A bedraggled Maul slammed the apartment door closed behind him, seething as green slime dripped from his black robes and sank into the carpet.
My Apprentice looked at him warily, wrinkling her nose at the smell. What happened to you?
"I do not wish to discuss it," Maul hissed, peeling his filthy robes off and shaking pomegranate seeds out of his boots.
What's with the yellow canary feathers stuck to your horns?
"None of your business."
And the 'Miss Congeniality' ribbon?
I thought Sidious just wanted you to help him sponsor a homemade lightsaber buyback program.
"That is indeed what he said."
It got more complicated?
Are you going to tell me how?
Maul left his clothes in a squishy pile by the door and stalked toward the bathroom, ending the conversation. The green slime oozing from his robes met up with some particularly friendly microbes buried deep in the carpet, and the two substances began exchanging DNA.
As the hot water of the shower finally began to loosen the dried goo clinging to his horns, Maul divided some of his finely-honed rage between plotting the best way to kill Sidious (death by cholesterol just wasn't working fast enough) and digging pomegranate seeds out from under his toenails.
I wonder how Sidious outsmarted old Master Walt? Maul grumbled to himself, trying not to slip in the mildewed tub while scraping at his toes. He's raised me for most of my life; he knows me too well. Always one step ahead of me. I need a wild card, something he won't expect. Too bad the rules say I can't have my own apprentice.
Maul paused as the light of realization dawned. That's it! Idiot! Break the rules! Who's to say I can't have an apprentice? The fucking Handbook? I'll feed it to a shredder. If taking an apprentice helps me to get rid of Sidious, then I'll be the Master, so who's going to punish me for it?
Maul knew what he wanted to do. He needed someone smart but trainable, someone Sidious would never suspect of turning against him. He got out of the shower, dried himself off, pulled on his least noxious jeans and a relatively clean shirt, and set off to convert Obi-Wan to the Dark Side.
"Not tonight, Maul," Obi-Wan muttered, a pencil between his teeth as he searched anxiously through a pile of handwritten notes spread across his floor.
"Not tonight what?" Maul stepped into Obi-Wan's living room from the balcony. "I haven't even asked you anything yet. Or are you having one of those famous Jedi visions of the future?" Melodramatically, Maul pressed his palms to his forehead. "Oh, the angst!" he wailed in mock anguish. "Oh, the burden of knowing the future! Nooooooooooo!!"
Obi-Wan looked up from his notes and sighed. "Right now I'm having visions of totally failing my economics exam tomorrow, flunking the course, and getting kicked out of the Jedi Academy for poor performance." He slapped a post-it note on a page in his textbook and then flipped forward to the next section.
Maul walked forward and surveyed the array of study materials that the Padawan had spread around his living room. "That bad, huh? You should've gone to class more often."
Obi-Wan's eyes glared, but a smile teased his mouth. "For some reason I keep getting tempted to go out to the Gray Side, or to eat dinner somewhere, or to spend the night making wild Force-driven monkey love."
I'd bet flunking his exam would be quite rage-honing. It's as good a place to start as any. "I'm here to tempt you again." Maul pulled off his T-shirt slowly, his eyes never leaving Obi-Wan's.
Obi-Wan pointedly looked away. "No. I have got to study or I'm deep bantha poodoo."
Maul slid out of his jeans. "Come on..."
Obi-Wan licked his lips, sighed, and picked up his notebook. "No."
Maul sent a telepathic barrage of the filthiest images that he could imagine.
Obi-Wan's mental shields wavered, then shut him out with a burst of renewed strength. "I said NO!" he shouted, throwing his textbook at Maul.
Yes! Sweet anger! Maul neatly caught the textbook before it connected with the sensitive parts Obi-Wan had been aiming for.
To Maul's disappointment, Obi-Wan then closed his eyes, drew a deep breath, and for once actually used his Jedi training to calm himself down.
Damn. He would pick NOW to start being the dutiful Padawan, Maul grumbled to himself.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes. "Sorry about that. You have to understand, this is important to me. Look, either I'll pass this test and be in the mood to celebrate tomorrow night, or I'll flunk it and be in need of comforting. Either way you win. But for right now, please, leave me alone."
I've made a start. He's edgy. Time to change tactics. Instead of leaving, Maul sat on the sofa, dislodging several neatly stacked piles of index cards. As Obi-Wan grumbled and re-sorted his notes, Maul looked at the thick textbook that Obi-Wan had thrown at him. Principles of Interplanetary Economics, 133rd edition, was nearly as hefty as the Sith Handbook. "Damn!" Maul muttered, lifting the book up and down. "I could use this thing for a workout!"
"Tell me about it," Obi-Wan said, exasperated. "Look, if you aren't going to leave, you might as well help me out. Read me some end-of-chapter questions or something."
"Er... OK..." Sith Lords have to be creative. I suppose I can work with anything. Maul flipped through the chapters at random, trying to figure out how to work a little Dark Side into this study session. Converting him to the Dark Side was easier when he was on Perkium. His brain was pretty much an Etch-A-Sketch back then, though. One good shake and he'd reset. This time it has to stick.
"I don't suppose you'd consider putting your clothes back on?" Obi-Wan inquired, looking intently at some upside-down cost curves.
"That's not your usual attitude, neighbor." Maul grinned, positioning the textbook so that it definitely wouldn't block Obi-Wan's view. "Consider it part of your training. Gotta concentrate!"
Obi-Wan sighed. "Read me something about average and total variable costs," he said, his voice heavy with resignation.
As Maul read from the textbook, he was torn between warring desires to kill Sidious as soon as possible, to be patient enough to take the time to convert Obi-Wan permanently, to throw the Padawan over his shoulder and fuck him senseless, and to dig newly-discovered pomegranate seeds out of parts of his body that he never imagined they could have gotten.
Eventually, the textbook provided inspiration. Short run, long run... OK, think about this. In the short run, if he flunks out of the Academy now and I turn him to the Dark Side, I get a half-trained apprentice with major personality issues. Would he really be able to help me take out Sidious? On the other hand, if he stays in the Academy and actually makes Knight, his betrayal of the Jedi would do much more damage. Maul randomly selected a new chapter, this time on interplanetary trade issues. That is, if he doesn't get himself arrested or sent back to the Happy Farm. Or if he actually starts living the Jedi ideal. Ha! Maul snorted at that idea. As if any of them do! Some role models they are...
"Maul? Coruscant to Maul, come in Maul." Obi-Wan looked at him expectantly. "Come on, the book can't be that fascinating."
Still, I need to plant the seeds now if I expect to turn him later. "Hey, Obi-Wan, want to try some essay questions?" Maul suggested slyly.
"Sure, just a sec." Obi-Wan muttered to himself over some aggregate supply graphs, then slapped another post-it note into his notebook. "Go."
Wearing the most innocent face he could manage, Maul asked, "If you were going to wreck a planet's economy, what would be the top three actions you would take?"
Obi-Wan glared at him in outrage. "What kind of question is that? It's a Jedi economics exam, Maul. We try to help people, you know."
"Yeah, yeah, when you're not toking or screwing each other, you're out saving the galaxy. Look, this is the way your enemies think. Right?"
"So, you have to learn to think the same way!"
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I know the argument. You have to think Dark Side to beat the Dark Side."
"Exactly." Your dad's about as Dark Side as it gets, and he's the one to beat, Maul added to himself.
Obi-Wan thought for a moment. "I guess I'd start by poisoning the planet's relations with other planets. The connections between different species form a symbiont circle, so you would do a lot of damage if you cut them off from each other..."
As Obi-Wan worked out a plan for total economic annihilation, Maul resisted the urge to yell, I am hot shit!! He did, however, surreptitiously start to take notes.
"What's this, my apprentice?" Sidious hissed.
Maul dropped the datapad on the senator's desk. "Just some interesting ideas I got while reading one of Obi-Wan's textbooks. Economics is a most Sithly science. Do you know how much chaos a good trade dispute could cause?"
Late the next afternoon, Obi-Wan bounced through the door of Maul's apartment. "B-plus!" he whooped, flinging himself into Maul's arms. "I passed! Master Piell even complimented me on my 'unique perspective' on some of the essay topics!"
YES!! Dark Side, here we come! "So, do you have more studying to do?" Maul asked nonchalantly, pulling Obi-Wan closer. "Because I'm sure I could give you similar help in other subjects."
Obi-Wan shrugged. "There are other exams coming up, but I can take one night off." He grinned impishly. "Let's just say that I think that the opportunity cost of an evening with you is an acceptable tradeoff in the short run."
"Good, because I am definitely sensing a shift in my demand curve." Maul leered.
Obi-Wan's hands fell to the waist of Maul's jeans as he returned his neighbor's gaze. "Drop your trade barriers, neighbor, because I've got a monopoly on what you're looking for!"
"I have to check out your assets first."
Oh, spare me, My Apprentice thought grumpily from her perch on the computer keyboard. Finding herself ignored, the cat jumped down and headed into the kitchen. She hoped to find some of the new green-goo-and-carpet-microbe-descended creatures to chase in order to distract herself from the antics of her master and his casual sex partner, who were now exploring the double meanings possible in such terms as "inflation" and "moral hazard."
As Obi-Wan settled into a blissful post-coital doze, Maul drowsily buried his face in the back of the Padawan's neck and wrapped an arm around Obi-Wan's torso.
My Apprentice jumped up onto the bed and surveyed the scene. Sith do not cuddle, she reminded her master.
I am not cuddling, Maul replied grumpily. I am ensuring that Obi-Wan has sufficient incentive to continue to service my sexual needs. By encouraging him to spend time with me, I shall have further opportunities to weaken his dedication to the Jedi and eventually turn him to the Dark Side. Ultimately, I shall fulfill my destiny, rise up and slay my master, and take Obi-Wan as my apprentice, whereupon we will rule the galaxy together.
My Apprentice snorted. And when you're the master, you can rewrite the rule about cuddling.
I am NOT cuddling! Maul aimed a kick at the furry nuisance.
DE-NI-AL!! My Apprentice avoided Maul's foot and dashed out the bedroom door, laughing.
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