Darth Maul vs. The End of the World
by J.A. Nessossin
Maul and Obi-Wan belong to George Lucas, Y2K belongs to John Koskinen, and the Sith Academy belongs to Siubhan. Many thanks to the Headmistress for incredible patience in doing beta reads.
Obi-Wan knocked on his neighbor's door. Maul yanked the door open, brandishing a lightsaber. "Now what?"
"Hi, Maul. I'm canvassing the floor to see what people are doing to prepare for TEOGAWKI."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"The End Of the Galaxy As We Know It."
"Huh? Are you on Perkium again? After all the trouble I went to --"
"No!" Obi-Wan glared. Maul never seemed to give him any credit. "Don't you watch the news at all?"
"No, I gave it up," Maul said. "It didn't even hone my rage anymore, it just bored me. Why?"
"Listen, then. Some ten thousand years ago, the Jedi recognized the necessity of automating their operations on behalf of peace and justice in the galaxy. They set up computer systems whose efficiency was without parallel in the known universe." Obi-Wan inflated with pride on behalf of his order.
"Yeah, right. So?"
"Well, the fact is, they never really imagined it would last more than three or four thousand years, tops." He flushed. "No previous system had stayed in use for more than five hundred, after all. So all the chips managed dates based on a four-digit year, counting arbitrarily forwards from the designer's gerbil's birthday, if I recall, the year of which counted as year number 1. This is the 9999th year counted. At the next New Year, it will roll over into a five-digit year, 10,000, which our computers will read as year 0000. For example, Master Yoda is 870 years old, I think, but the computer will start believing that he's negative 9130, so it won't send him his usual pension check. You see the implications."
"Dear God, yes," Maul said. "He'll go back to stealing lingerie. Can't something be done?"
"Be serious! This could cause the complete collapse of civilization."
"It never did before."
"Here, the Beige Cross is putting out these little pamphlets." Obi-Wan stuffed a brochure into the pocket of Maul's filthy jeans, allowing his hand to linger there until he noticed that not only Maul, but the jeans were tense and humming softly with pleasure. He jerked it back. "People are preparing for Y10K to be anything from a minor annoyance to, as I said, TEOGAWKI."
"I really don't get it," Maul said.
"Well, think about it. This is a completely urban planet. The computer chips that are embedded in the basic infrastructure may fail at the rollover; we could lose power, water, and sewer for weeks if not months. We're dependent upon interstellar shipping for everything we need, and shipping is managed by computers, which may fail. To say nothing of the possibility that interstellar freighters, which are computer-controlled, will simply fall from the sky."
"Interstellar freighters aren't usually subject to gravitational fields," Maul pointed out.
"Oh yeah. Well, you see my point," Obi-Wan said. "It could be a total disaster."
"Wow," Maul said. "You mean civilization could actually collapse? The Republic could revert to barbarism?"
"That's a worst-case scenario, but yes, it's not impossible." Maul was staring into space with a look of intent concentration, eyes unfocused; Obi-Wan thought that he had finally gotten through to him. "Can I ask you for a little help here?"
"Huh?" Maul blinked for the first time in minutes. "Uh, sure. What do you want me to do? Sabotage power plants..."
"Good Force, no! What are you talking about? No, I'm inviting everyone on this floor to an informational meeting to discuss how they should prepare to ensure their own safety. For example, I'll remind them that they can safely store water in soda bottles."
"Right, then if we run out of water we can just go take theirs!" Maul enthused. "That's using your head for a change, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan asked himself seriously whether great, even earth-shaking, Force-driven sex with the hottest man on Coruscant was really worth allowing an obviously deranged and probably dangerous maniac into his life. He surveyed Maul slowly from head to toe. Oh, I'm being too harsh. I have to take his traumatic childhood into account, don't I? I'm really doing him a favor by giving him opportunities to redeem himself.
"I was hoping you would prepare a little presentation for our neighbors on safe provision of emergency food. The Beige Cross, for example, suggests that people should keep several days' worth of food that doesn't require much water or heat to prepare, such as canned soup, pasta, or Spungan. Many of our neighbors won't be familiar with the subject, but I know you know how to take care of yourself. You could be incredibly helpful," Obi-Wan coaxed, petting Maul's shoulder.
Maul began to lean unwillingly into the gentle caresses. "Well, okay, I guess I can do that."
"Good! Now, I just have to run down the hall and talk to a few more people. I'll see you tomorrow night at the meeting."
"So, to sum up, the Beige Cross suggests that you should store seven to ten gallons of water in your home, a goal that is easily attained," Obi-Wan said. "Can I get anyone another beer, or some more organic guacamole?" He spent a few moments handing around the chips and dips. "Of course, a lot of these sour cream-based goodies wouldn't be safe in the absence of refrigeration. Maul will now tell you about the preparation of emergency food supplies."
Maul got up, carrying a large pad of paper. What's this? Visual aids? He really is taking this seriously. Obi-Wan smiled. I'm so proud of him.
"Thanks, Obi-Wan. Okay, folks, we're talking about the end of civilization here. Since this is the most urban planet in the galaxy, we're dependent upon other worlds for agricultural products, and little remains in the way of edible flora and fauna." A trifle melodramatic, Obi-Wan thought, but good so far.
"Therefore," Maul continued, "in case of prolonged disruption of shipping, the only major source of nutrients on Coruscant will be sentient beings."
"Well, there are also bureaucrats, but I have calculated that their numbers would be severely depleted within the first twenty-nine days of societal collapse. Now, most of the intelligent life forms on this planet are bipedal. Processing bipeds for consumption has certain complexities, with which I am fortunately familiar."
"Maul, can I interrupt you for just a moment?"
"I have prepared a few illustrations to assist you." Maul flipped up the cover on his pad. "First, you must suspend the carcass by the feet..."
"I really don't see why you're screaming at me," Maul said in a tone of injured innocence.
"Don't you? You ruined my bloody meeting!!" Obi-Wan reminded himself that foaming at the mouth wasn't Jedi-like, and licked his lips guiltily. "I thought you understood this was serious! You made a joke out of it! You completely blew me off!"
"What are you talking about? I was just about to give out every trick I knew when they all left."
"Look, you don't genuinely think if the grocery store is shut down you're going to go eat someone from the forty-first floor. You don't... do you?"
"No, I was going to recommend people from the first two or three floors. They don't get much exercise, so they'll be well-marbled."
"What do you mean, well marb... Oh." Obi-Wan paled briefly. "Oh, ha ha! You really had me going for a second there."
Don't ask any more questions, Obi-Wan, you'll be happier if you don't ask. "It does remind me of something I hadn't even considered. Self-defense! If government services break down, the crime rate will skyrocket. Being a trained Jedi, I had no personal reason to worry --"
"Looting!" Maul smacked himself in the forehead. "How could I have been so stupid?"
"Yes, I see you're thinking about how our weaker neighbors can protect themselves. Especially single women, like Cynthia..."
"No, no, I'm thinking about finally getting a Dreamcast!" Maul bared his teeth in an evil grin. "I wasn't going to BUY one of those overpriced pieces of junk. I'd better be down by CompCoruscant on New Year's Eve or all the good stuff will be gone before I get there."
"You are NOT talking about going LOOTING on New Year's!" Obi-Wan yelled.
"Why not? Isn't that what galactic disaster is all about? Hey, why don't you come along? We could probably get you a whole new wardrobe, something more suitable to a future era of savagery..."
"Maul, I swear, if I catch you doing something so atrocious...our relationship is OVER!"
"We do not have a 'relationship'!" Maul crossed his arms, glaring.
"Then you won't miss it!" Obi-Wan snatched up his cloak and stalked out.
Obi-Wan made his way down the hall, trailing his fingertips against the wall and trying to think of the unwonted darkness of the hallway as an opportunity to practice relying on his Force-senses. He rapped softly on Maul's door. After a moment, he could hear the bar being lifted off. The door squeaked open, and he could barely see a shadowy figure silhouetted in the doorway. "Happy New Year."
"The lights are out," Maul whispered.
"Yeah," Obi-Wan said.
"The grid has gone down, then. It's only a matter of time, now." Maul sounded hideously satisfied. "Yes, the thousand-year night is upon us. We'd better do all we can to consolidate our personal position now, while everyone else is still paralyzed with confusion. Let me just get my crowbar."
"Actually, it hasn't. Near as I can tell, at thirty seconds after midnight, everyone in the whole building plugged his computer back in and turned it on to see if it would boot or not. The power surge tripped the main breaker. If you look out the window, you'll notice that other buildings still have lights."
"Oh. No collapse?"
Obi-Wan grinned, knowing that Maul wouldn't see it in the dark. "Try not to sound so disappointed."
"Well, I wish I hadn't bothered with stockpiling, if nothing was going to happen."
"Phooey. If you bought extra food, you can eat it anyway."
"No, I didn't buy food; I already told you --"
"Don't tell me. Just what did you think was worth stocking up on, then?"
"Um, bourbon. And condoms."
"Say what?" I can never quite decide whether this guy is a genius or a complete idiot.
"Hey, they're the product of a complex manufacturing process. I bought a box of a thousand Twi'lek ticklers. I figured they'd be worth more than gold after the crash. Now what am I gonna do with them?"
Obi-Wan insinuated himself into Maul's doorway. As their bodies brushed together, Maul instinctively retreated, leaving room for Obi-Wan to put himself on the other side of the door. "I'll help you think of something." The door closed, quietly but solidly, behind him.
Maul's golden eyes glowed like hot coals; he glided closer to Obi-Wan in the darkness. "Have I ever mentioned that I love the way you take charge in a crisis?"
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