Sith Academy: The Shopping Maul
by Joan the English Chick
[Read Joan's author bio]
Darth Sidious strolled unannounced through the door of his apprentice's apartment and found the young man sitting in squalor, playing a game of holo-chess. The older man scowled and wrinkled his nose.
"You are slovenly, my young apprentice," he observed.
"Yes, my master," Darth Maul agreed, not taking his eyes from the board, where a miniature Wookiee lifted a miniature Hutt over its head and, mouth open in a silent scream of defiance, slammed it down again.
Sidious looked around at the piles of empty pizza boxes, crumpled fast-food bags and small white takeout boxes that littered the apartment, and had an idea. "Come, Maul," he commanded. "I have a new assignment for you."
Maul looked up in trepidation. "Not another pet?" In the corner, sleeping atop his computer keyboard, the small striped kitty opened one eye and glared.
"No, indeed. Come along."
Darth Maul strode up to the line of wire carts sitting meekly by the entrance, and seized the handle of the first one. Grunting, he tugged and twisted, but it refused to come loose from its neighbor.
"Burn mightily, insolent machine!" the Sith apprentice shouted in frustration, veins popping in his forehead. Sidious nodded approvingly as the entire line of shopping carts turned glowing red and melted into a heap of scrap metal.
"The anger flows freely within you," he observed. "But now you shall have to carry your groceries."
"No!" Maul yelled, looking around the parking lot. Across the way, there was a shopper loading packages into her star cruiser. She gave a yelp of surprise as the shopping cart suddenly threw off her bags and went careening wildly across the parking lot, to come to a screeching halt in front of Maul. He snorted with satisfaction and seized it.
"Well done," Sidious complimented. "And now, gather your thoughts, my young student. The supermarket awaits."
"I am ready, my master." Maul pushed the cart toward the automatic door. Three of the wheels rolled obediently forward. The fourth attempted to wander off somewhere to the left. Maul fought and wrestled with it until finally the cart consented to enter the building.
Darth Maul stood observing the fruit and vegetable section. Nearby, another shopper was inspecting a cantaloupe. Maul walked over and plucked it from her hand, tapping its rind carefully.
"Hey!" the woman said as he placed it in his cart. "I was thinking of buying that."
Maul turned a black look on her and she cowered. "Think again," he ordered sullenly. The woman grabbed her cart and fled.
"These apples seem overripe," Sidious observed, walking up with a double handful of Granny Smiths. Maul took one and bit into it, then made a face.
"Gah!" he exclaimed, spitting the piece of apple across the room, where it hit the chin of the man behind the meat counter and fell into a bin full of chopped beef. "These apples seek to malign me with their mealiness! Death to he who placed them in the pile!" Other shoppers fled, scattering in all directions.
"Is that him?" Maul cried, spotting a market employee cowering by the piles of green and red peppers. The young Sith grabbed another apple from his master's hand and hurled it across the room. The worker ducked behind the green peppers and the apple crashed into them, bringing the entire pyramid of vegetables down on top of the hapless stacker.
"Excellent aim," Sidious observed. Maul puffed out his chest proudly.
"Thank you, my master. What else shall I buy?" the Sith asked as they walked away from the fruit and vegetable area, pushing the unruly cart. Sidious shrugged.
"Whatever suits your fancy, but remember, it must be nourishing. A Sith must keep up his strength."
"How about spaghetti?"
"An admirable choice."
Darth Maul accosted a teenager busily stocking canned peaches. "You! Insignificant toad! Where is the spaghetti?" he demanded sternly. The youth cowered.
"Ah-Aisle five," he stammered. Maul wheeled around and stalked off. As he rounded the corner, his cart flew from his hands and knocked over a display full of generic toilet paper on sale. Imperiously ignoring the resultant chaos, Maul made his way to aisle five.
"What else should we get, master?" a querulous voice asked over the ambient din and the Muzak playing in the supermarket. The voice that replied was quiet and calm.
"The craving within me is deep, my young apprentice, and therefore I will be in the cookie aisle. Aisle three is your destination, where I sense it is your destiny to locate the shampoo I like."
"The one with the lovely strawberry scent?"
"You are wise and learn quickly, young Padawan."
"Thank you, master. I'll meet you in the cookie aisle."
"Don't forget the K-Y."
Darth Maul stood staring in stupefaction at the amassed rows of boxes. Sidious came up behind him.
"Problems, young Maul?"
"Master, there are so many different kinds of pasta, and yet they all look the same," Maul complained. Sidious nodded gravely.
"Strange are the ways of the enemy," he agreed. Maul's scowl deepened.
"They think to confuse me with this idiocy? They will die screaming in horror and pain!" He gave his shopping cart a mighty heave and let it roll full-steam into the shelves. Boxes burst, supports gave way, and pasta rained down everywhere. Maul burst into maniacal laughter.
"Don't forget the marinara sauce," was all Sidious said as he turned and continued down the aisle. Maul yanked the crumpled shopping cart out of the mess and followed.
"Pepsi? Have you forgotten everything I've taught?" said Qui-Gon in disgust. "Think, my young friend. Think!"
"I'm sorry, Master," Obi-Wan simpered. "I forgot you only drink diet." On the other side of the wall of shelves, Darth Maul sneered to himself.
"Well, go on," Qui-Gon said.
Darth Maul picked up a case of Diet Pepsi, held it firmly between his hands, and shook it as hard as he could. He grinned in evil pleasure as he heard and felt the liquid sloshing inside the cans.
In a moment, the young Jedi apprentice rounded the corner and saw Maul about to put the Pepsi back on the shelf. "I'll take that if you don't want it," Obi-Wan said brightly.
"Be my guest," Maul replied coolly, handing it over. He turned away so the Jedi wouldn't see him chortling.
"Ready, master," Obi-Wan called as he returned to Qui-Gon's side.
"Good," the older Jedi replied. "Let us get on line. My thirst is mighty."
"Master," said Darth Maul a few minutes later as they stood tapping their feet in the express line, "what does it mean in that headline, where it says 'Legendary Sith Hideout Found On Tattooine'? I know of no hideout."
"No, there is none. The journalists are tools of the Jedi and will print whatever lies they invent," Sidious replied. Maul picked up the tabloid and leafed through it.
"I know it is all lies, yet I find it strangely fascinating," he murmured in alarm. "Is it some evil Jedi mind trick?"
"It may well be."
Maul threw the paper aside and snarled, "I have had enough of this line! Out of my way!" He charged forward, throwing other shoppers aside, ramming his shopping cart into those who didn't move fast enough.
"That was artfully played, my young apprentice," Sidious observed much later, as they carried the bags of groceries into Darth Maul's apartment. "It was prudent of you to leave without paying, when it became clear they wished to see a photo ID."
"Only a fool refuses to accept a personal check from a Sith," Maul opined, spreading his purchases out on the table. "What shall I do with this food, master?"
"Ah, yes. The next lesson," Sidious mused, rubbing his chin. "Something tells me this may be the most difficult challenge you have faced yet..."
(tune in next week for Cooking With Maul!)
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