Religious Experiences -- Maul Attends a Family Wedding
by That Strange Becca Person
Disclaimer and such:
George owns the boys, Siubhan owns the site and concept, additional characters are owned by their creators and I own Cynthia. You want to use her in a story, just ask and I'll send you her background info. :) Oh, and the Jabba's Witnesses are NOT meant to spoof any one specific organized religion (they're meant to spoof about five or six, so no one feels left out ;))
Thanks to Siubhan for her patience, Darth J. Landry for her advice and a bit of demented inspiration, Katherine for letting me borrow Darth Mary Sue, and my friend Shannon for letting me borrow her evil grandmother (yes, Grandma Doris is based on a real person. Fear.)
Maul spun his lightsaber into an elaborate series of arcs and thrusts, grumbling at the singed spots the exercise left on his living room walls. A late morning cloudburst had left his usual rooftop practice spot uninhabitable; the sky had since cleared, but the puddles of acid rain the storm had left behind had tried to eat through his boots when he had ventured outside. So, he was stuck here, and would probably end up having to repaint as a result.
He had worked up a good enough sweat to warrant stripping off his tshirt and using it to mop his face when a muffled yeep at the door caught his attention. He glanced over, glimpsed a shadow shifting back and forth under the bottom edge of the door, and sighed in exasperation. "Cynthia?" he called.
"Yes, Your Sexiness?" came the perky (urgh) female reply from the other side of the door.
"Tell me you didn't switch around the fisheye lens in my spyhole so you could watch me working out again?" That would explain the suspicious whirring and clacking sounds that had woken him up an hour ago, anyway, though for all he knew that could have been Obi-Wan test-driving a new toy from Divine Oscillations.
"No comment!" his horny new neighbor replied cheerily. Maul rolled his eyes and stomped into the bathroom for a shower, hoping she hadn't somehow snuck in and rigged the shower stall with a camera. He wouldn't have put it past her. Cynthia was truly, madly, soulfully in lust with him, and literally nothing he had done in the week since she had moved in, not even death threats, had managed to dissuade her. (In fact, death threats seemed to turn her on even more, something which squicked Maul to no end...). It baffled him. She was so...cute. She was this round little cookie-baking thing who got along with everyone, loved animals, made herbal teas...where did she get off wearing all black, playing Ministry and generally being such a...a...pervert? And why...why oh why had she decided to fixate her perverted desires on Maul?
He scrubbed himself down, toweled off, yanked on a pair of sweatpants, and padded back into the living room in search of the box of Sith Chocobombs he'd been noshing on last night while watching a late-night Friends marathon. He was so distracted by his attempts to not dwell any more on his cute little pervert neighbor that he almost walked smack into her uncle, who had apparently slipped in the door during Maul's shower and now stood glowering at him in the middle of the room.
Maul blinked. Then his eyes slid down to take in his master's current costume, and he shuddered. This couldn't be good.
Sidious was dressed in black, but it wasn't his usual Sith robes (the set with the hood so voluminous that he had to use the Force to keep from bumping into things, since he couldn't see a damn thing with it up). Neither was it a darker-than-usual version of his Palpatine persona's Senatorial drag -- oh no. And the scowl written across his face was all Sith. But...Maul took in the perfectly pressed trousers, highly polished dress shoes, white dress shirt, very subtly embroidered black waistcoat and hand-tailored coat-and-tails -- not to mention the top hat, cane, white kid gloves and cravat tie complete with a tiny ruby tietack -- with a growing sense of shock. His master was wearing the usual pound or so of makeup that he used to hide his Sithly pallor and sunken eyes, but with considerably less rouge than usual. His russet-and-gray curls had been swept back neatly from his forehead, gelled in place and tied at his nape with a black satin bow. Maul felt his jaw dropping further and further with every detail that he noticed. Darth Sidious, Dark Transvestite of the Sith, was dressed in guy clothes.
And he was clearly not happy about it. "Maul," he snapped without preamble, "I am afraid that breakfast is out. For you, at least. I have an assignment for you."
Maul's chocolate craving yelled a protest, but he took another look at Sidious's expression and silenced it with massive quantities of mental duct tape. "Yes, Master?"
"You may have discerned from my mode of dress that today is something of a special occasion." He paused ominously, then drew in a breath. "This afternoon, Cynthia's eldest sister Velveeta is to be wed to a recent graduate of the Jedi Academy. As her uncle, I am obliged to attend this...*cough* happy event, bring a gift, and generally act the part of the doting relative." He spat the last two words with deep distaste, then smirked faintly as he eyed Maul. "You are to accompany me. To this end, you are to travel to the garment district and obtain formalwear for the occasion."
Maul thought of himself in a bowtie and gacked. "Master, anything but that!"
The Sith master raised an imperious hand. "Tasteful formalwear, Maul. None of that leather-suit-and-muscle-shirt yumminess -- er, nonsense -- I caught you in last time I ordered you to dress up."
Maul's heart sank. "Yes, Master. But -- what is the point of bringing me along? Surely you don't wish me to hone my rage and Sithly aggression on your own relatives?"
Sidious considered. "Tempting, but...no. This particular evening we must make every effort to act the part of mild-mannered Senator and his odd, but polite, ward."
Maul thought of sitting through another overly-cheerful Jewish-Jedi wedding with a smile frozen on his face and decided that that in itself would do much to hone his rage. Then he sighed. "You're not going to make me try and fit that yarmulke on over my horns again, are you?"
Sidious shook his head. "Neither Velveeta nor her groom are Jewish, so you are off the hook in that respect. Nevertheless, I expect you to pick me up here in six hours, fully dressed."
"Six hours to find a rental suit that fits properly? Master, that's impossi -- "
His master just chuckled darkly. "Consider it a challenge to your ingenuity."
Maul ground his teeth and counted to 3,521, then sighed. "Yes Master. But if this 'wedding' exercise is not to be used to hone my rage, then why am I going?"
"That's quite simple." Sidious smiled tightly. "If I am to be forced to dress like a damned stage magician, attend a church service, then stand around drinking bad punch and making small talk with fifty of the people I most despise in all the galaxy, then I refuse to suffer such agony alone. Now pull on a shirt and get moving! Oh, and make sure you brush your teeth before you go."
Muttering, Maul complied, yanking on a Jedi Roadkill t-shirt and hunting around for his boots, cursing his master the whole way. Misery truly did love company, and Sidious clearly had never really felt comfortable in the presence of his relatives. In the back of his mind, he wondered why his master didn't just kill them all -- but then again, that wouldn't have impressed the voters very favorably once the news got out, now would it? Sigh...
Convinced that Maul was on his way, Sidious turned on his heel and strode out, using his cane to push aside piles of beer cans, overcurious pizza slices, and My Apprentice, who had appeared from parts unknown and was stalking the tails of Sidious's coat. Maul stared after him for a moment, then shook his head and started hunting for his keys.
Six hours later, Maul seethed at the controls of the Infiltrator as he lowered the ramp to allow his master to board. His trip to Coruscant's garment district had been... memorable. After wasting an hour running from tux rental place to tux rental place, he had finally given up on finding anything premade that wasn't ruffle-fronted and powder blue and had, with great reluctance, walked into a tailor's shop to get something made from scratch. Convincing said tailor to do a rush job on him hadn't been the problem; he had brought his lightsaber for the occasion and had taken great pleasure in motivating the prissy little man behind the counter with threats involving said saber and various uses usually reserved for marital aids. It had done the trick nicely, though the tailor in question had had to be pried from under his counter once Maul was finished convincing him.
No, no, the trouble came when Maul realized that he had forgotten to put anything on under his sweatpants before he had gotten out there. This necessitated buying a pair off of the rack at the front of the store; unfortunately, all that Priss Boy had had available had been sets in silk satin, embarrassingly brief, in colors obnoxious enough to make even Sidious hesitate to wear them. Maul had finally settled on a pair in bright screaming red, and then had had to stand there in them while the tailor poked and prodded and measured him with drips of saliva drizzling from his snout. (How the Hell had a Rodian managed to grow one of those precious little pencil mustaches anyway? And what was up with that gelled black toupée?) Maul figured that something was up when the tailor, instead of just asking what side Maul dressed on, had decided to check for himself, none too gently. Fortunately he'd only stayed unconscious for a few seconds and had decided not to have Maul arrested once he'd come to.
Instead, the tailor had gotten his own sort of revenge for his bruised snout. For the next four hours, he had 'accidentally' poked Maul with pins one hundred and twenty seven times, left the window curtains open thrice (drawing a crowd of seamstresses on lunch break each time), and once gotten five or six stitches into a seam sewn to Maul's thigh before a clout between the antennae had brought this to his attention. By the end of it, Maul was sore, itchy, tired, bleeding from dozens of tiny wounds, and out his entire video game budget for probably the next millennium. But...the suit was done. And, he had to admit, he looked pretty good, at least as good as he could get in one of those damned monkey suits. Granted, the crimson shirt and cravat with the black vest, gloves, coat and trousers (and patent leather calf boots, dammit -- he wasn't wearing wingtips even if Sidious threatened to scorch off his tattoos) made him look like a Gothic mob enforcer, but it was much preferable to the whole white-kid-gloves look.
If only the fucking top hat would stay in place...
Maul pushed the pesky accessory back out of his eyes for the eightieth time as Sidious came breezing up in the lift and settled himself in one of the passenger chairs. Maul retracted the ramp, sealed the hatch, and was on the verge of throwing the recalcitrant topper across the cockpit when Sidious ordered casually, "Keep it on." Maul suppressed a snarl as he attempted to yank the thing down over his horns again, and thought dirty and violent things in his master's direction. Unfortunately, that only made Sidious squirm in his seat happily, so Maul thought about dead puppies instead. This lead to the realization that Maul had not yet eaten today, and he was starting to get really hungry. Damn. Damn damn damn. And who knew what vile things Sidious's relatives would be serving at the reception?
"Jedi temple?" Maul rasped. The renovations on the temple were finally done, but lack of funds had left the Jedi with enormous outstanding bills, forcing them to open some of the ceremonial centers within the temple for nondenominational weddings, Shriners conventions and children's birthday parties. Rumor had it that that was why they were installing a video arcade on one of the lower levels, though Maul, who had seen how many quarters Mace Windu could crank into a Jedi Roadkill standup on an average afternoon, did have his suspicions to the contrary.
"Actually, no. Turn left at the next six-way stoplight. I will direct you from there." Sidious had a strange tone to his voice; he almost sounded...apprehensive.
"Something wrong, Master?" Maul was restrained from gloating over his master's discomfort by the realization that whatever impending doom Sidious was fretting over was something the two of them would doubtless share.
Sidious coughed and shifted in his seat. "Have you ever heard of the Jabba's Witnesses?"
Uhoh. "Yes, one of them used to live across from me. He kept trying to slip pamphlets under my door." Jabba's Witnesses were one of the more notorious evangelical cults on Coruscant. From what Maul knew, they were founded about fifty years ago when a Jedi Knight had had a religious experience while on Tatooine (after eating two pounds of bad rye bread in a bar bet). As a result, he had suddenly decided that the eponymous Hutt crime lord was in fact a holy martyr, whose sacrifice would liberate the galaxy from some as-yet-unrevealed evil and bring about the usual 'golden age' that such religions liked to blather about. The Jedi had returned to Coruscant, been tossed out on his ear by the Council for attempting to convert the entire Academy to his beliefs, and had gone on to found his own church. Jabbans were obsessive (and obnoxious) when it came to attempting to win new converts; not content to pressure friends and relatives, they evangelized coworkers, apartment floormates, strangers on buses and in transit terminals, passerby on the streets and, once or twice, the carnivorous foodstuffs living under Maul's couch. Their tendency to dress like corporate drones and go door-to-door passing out insipid pamphlets were actually among the least strange of their religious traditions; Maul had heard rumors of bizarre sexual practices, stringent and apparently randomly-chosen behavioral restrictions, and slug handling, all of which might or might not be performed at the same time. The Witnesses were, fortunately, easily identifiable by their necklaces, which bore solid gold pendants which (somewhat abstractly) were formed in the likeness of Jabba the Hutt hanging by his neck from a chain. (At a distance, they actually tended to remind Maul of gilded cat turds). "Why?"
"Well, with the exception of Cynthia, all five of my older brother's children converted en masse ten years ago, as did their mother. Today you and I have the rare privilege *cough* of attending a Jabban wedding."
I'm going to kill him.
Maul's mind was suddenly filled with the image of himself staggering out of the reception area at the end of the night with every pocket, his belt, his shirt, his pants, even his damned boot-tops stuffed full of little pamphlets, copies of their "Salvation out of Tatooine!" little hardbound books speared on his horns, slug tracks across his shirtfront and the taste of moldy rye bread clogging his throat. And what worried him the most was that Sidious, upon noticing this image in his mind, didn't laugh. Not so much as a malevolent snicker.
Apparently there were things that even a Sith Master feared...
Half an hour later, they pulled up in front of a low, vaguely slug-shaped stone temple, complete with a gilded fountain that spat water of a dubious greenish hue into the air. The parking lot was full, the sidewalk-access hoverspaces were full -- ah. There was Cynthia's hoverdock, floating quite illegally twenty feet above the parking lot, with a big fat Reserved banner spread across the cab and a rope ladder hanging over the side. At least they wouldn't have to walk. Cynthia might be a pain in the ass, but her crush on Maul and her devotion to her 'dear uncle' were occasionally useful. He set the Infiltrator down on the dock, steeled himself, then cycled the ramp. "Let's get this over with," he muttered. Sidious nodded back resignedly.
Slug trails crisscrossed the walkway that wound its way through the heavily-nibbled grass in front of the graygreen marble temple steps, which were themselves kind of slimy-looking. Maul, walking behind Sidious (who nearly speared him in the balls twice with that damn cane, which he held crosswise at his hip as he walked for some obscure gentlemanly reason), was tempted to do a little tapdance on top of the slugs who all but covered the concrete before him, but instead stepped carefully over them, not wanting to scandalize the local cultists just yet. Instead, he fixed his version of a polite, bland smile (in other words, he kept his face expressionless instead of wearing his perpetual scowl) onto his lips, pushed his hat back out of his eyes (again), and followed his master up the stairs to greet the crowd of people waiting outside the chapel.
Maul glimpsed familiar faces among them and felt his guts knot up even further. His master had one of the larger families ever to spawn on Naboo: four brothers, two sisters, and a multitude of cousins on every possible level and configuration of blood relationship, most of whom seemed to be in evidence. Nevertheless, it wasn't hard to spot Aunt Miriam among them, thanks to her improbable purple-and-silver beaded dress and eight pounds of purplish-pink lipstick, which she was busily applying to the faces of as many of her siblings' descendants as she could catch. One boy of maybe three staggered choking from an extended bout of rapid-fire kisses and cheek-pinching and lurched into Maul's legs with a dazed expression. Maul muttered in irritation, but managed to keep a more or less pleasant expression on his face as he righted the tot and sent him wandering towards another portion of the crowd. Sidious (it was hard to think of him as Palpatine out of drag) had already set his teeth and burrowed into the crowd, smiling, shaking hands and accepting more or less messy embraces with relatively good humor. This unfortunately left Maul exposed to full view as he hovered on the edges of things; Aunt Miriam's eyes fixed on him and her cleavage started to heave, nauseating Maul even further.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite nephew!" she shrilled happily, elbowing aside a gaggle of cousins as she charged him with her plump arms held open. Oh hell. "And don't you look handsome?" Wondering if he could beg off on the pretext of a lipstick allergy, Maul ducked the incoming smoochstorm, hanging onto the brim of his hat to keep from losing it, turned to seek cover in the crowd -- and ran straight into Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"Gahthefuckareyoudoinghere?!" he squawked, or something to that effect, as he thought for the umpteenth time how he kept running across his neighbor no matter where he was on Coruscant. Then his Sith reflexes took over and he ducked around the startled Padawan, shoving him into the arms of the pursuing Miriam.
Apparently she had gone into auto-kiss mode, for Obi-Wan almost immediately vanished most of the way into her heaving embrace, his increasingly pale and shellshocked face quickly becoming obscured by lipstick smears. "AAaaaaack!" he squeaked, flailing helplessly. Maul suppressed a snicker and ducked into the crowd.
He caught sight of Qui-Gon on his way in; the big hippie was frantically trying to extricate himself from a conversation with one of Sidious's brothers as his apprentice's wails of distress grew sharper and more desperate. Now what was he doing here? As Maul looked around, he did in fact notice a lot more Jedi than usual amongst those gathered. Now, Maul knew for a fact that his master's family was at least half comprised of Jedi -- including his youngest brother, Eli, a Jedi Rabbi (try saying that three times fast), who was somewhat famous for introducing a line of kosher cuisine at the Academy cafeteria. (Those in Sidious's family who weren't Jedi tended to be clergy of one stripe or another, social workers, politically correct lobbyists, volunteers for this or that bleeding-heart charity, and/or some other sort of insipid do-gooder, which was a large part of why he and Sidious couldn't stand them). But he couldn't remember Mace Windu being among them -- and Yoda, whom Maul caught casually trying to look up Cousin Robert's kilt, was right out. Friends of the groom, maybe? Whatever the case, Maul's heart sank. Dealing with Aunt Miriam and her brood was one thing -- but dropping the Twit, his master and most of the Jedi Council in on top of that was bound to make things especially intolerable. Nevertheless, Maul took comfort in the fact that whatever happened, his master would be at least as bored and uncomfortable as he.
Speaking of which...a growing surge of rage and frustration in the midst of the crowd caught Maul's attention; the mind behind it was ever so familiar. Following the negative energy like a beacon, he shouldered his way through half a dozen 'maiden great-aunts' (yelping as half a dozen maidenly hands tried to grab him someplace not-so-maidenly) and found himself facing...his master. Whose polite little Palpatine smile was being held up by sheer will alone in the face of...
"Well, I'm surprised that you came at all, what with you and that tattooed freak being off doing who knows what most of the time. I mean, what am I supposed to think? You never write, you never visit, you don't even have the decency to return my calls half the time, and don't give me that excuse that Senatorial duties are taking up all of your time -- you can't possibly tell me that anything you are doing is more important than your own mother! If your father was alive I don't know what he'd think -- you're forty-seven and you still haven't given me any grandchildren! All your brothers and sisters are on their fourth or fifth child already. What's wrong with you? And don't you even try and tell me that that...that...alien ward of yours counts for anything as far as children are concerned. He's not my grandson. My grandsons don't have horns or...or...yellow eyes...and they certainly don't come from some orphanage somewhere without so much as a pedigree! I don't know what you've been doing with your time. Really. Do you even have a steady girlfriend, let alone a fiancée? No, I didn't think so. You're probably too busy off drinking and womanizing with your little Senatorial friends, while meanwhile I'm growing old and sick and spending all my time alone and -- and -- and -- you know I went to the doctor yesterday, and he says that if I have three more years to live it'll be a miracle! A miracle! And you couldn't care less, could you? No, I don't think so. No, don't say anything, you're not charming your way out of this one! I'm dying, and you won't even call me back, let alone settle down and start doing something responsible with your life. You're ungrateful. That's it. You're an ungrateful, selfish person, you're a bad son, and -- and -- and -- are you on drugs? Is that it? I bet that's it. My own son, a drug addict. That's why you never call! You and that...freak probably spend all of your time in some shooting gallery somewhere with needles in your arms! That's where all your money goes. That's why you can't afford to buy me what I want for my birthday and Life Day, isn't it? I mean, after all, you're a Senator -- you should have plenty of money for a hundred-karat diamond tiara. It isn't that much to ask, now is it? No. But since all your money's going to heroin, I just suppose I'll have to die unfulfilled...you -- did I say that you were a bad son? Well, you are. You're a bad, selfish, ungrateful, irresponsible son, and you're lucky that I don't just disown you..."
Maul felt a surge of entirely un-Sithly sympathy for his master, who was probably shoring himself up at this point with fantasies of blasting the shriveled, screeching woman before him into a smear on the walkway with a massive bolt of Dark Force lightning. It delighted Maul to see the tables turned on Sidious, however; his mortified aggravation was delicious, and Maul drank it in greedily. Knowing that his sudden appearance would throw gasoline on that fire (but that he could excuse his actions to his Master by 'intending' to distract the old bitch), Maul swept off his hat (that solved that problem, for the moment anyway) and stepped forward. "Hi again, Grandma Doris." He grinned as widely as he could manage, exposing a faceful of yellow and black teeth streaked with bits of red from their near-fatal encounter with a toothbrush that morning.
Grandma Doris blinked and squinted up at him with her watery gray eyes while her claws plucked at her ermine stole. "Well, well, look who else decided to grace us with his presence -- "
Sidious coughed. "Er, Mother -- "
"Don't you interrupt me!" she shrieked, shooting him a crazed look. A brief jolt of something like fear spiked the stream of emotional energy Maul was slurping off of Sidious, startling him. Probably the result of old childhood conditioning; still, coming from a Sith Master it was a shock. Maul shook his head, and could only conclude that it was true what they said about parents always knowing how to get to you no matter how old you were. Anyway, it wasn't hard to see where his master got his nasty streak from. Maul was convinced that Grandma Doris was the most evil bitch in the Galaxy -- far, far beyond what Darth Mary Sue could achieve even after a three month chocolate fast. (And that, as Maul knew from personal experience, was saying a lot). She turned back to Maul, her scowl deepening even further. "Hmp. You're dressed like a pimp. Are you a faggot or something?"
Something detonated inside of him, sending a wave of scarlet across his field of vision. He forgot feeding on his Master's bug-pinned-to-cardboard angst, forgot the awkward situation, the inconvenient hat, the itchy scab on his thigh, his hunger, everything but the sudden need to rend and tear and shred and...Kill her, kill her, fuck keeping up appearances, I'm going to stomp her dessicated ass into fine gray flakes! Somewhere in his mind he heard his master ordering him to stand down, but he was too far gone. He took a step forward, balling his fists --
"Jesus, Cyn's right, you are a nasty old bitch, aren't you?"
Speak of the Devil and She appears. Darth Mary Sue stepped out of the (wide as possible without making it look like they were avoiding Doris) circle of relatives surrounding them and sashayed up to stand beside Maul. She was dressed in a full Victor/Victoria style men's pinstriped suit, complete with white bowtie, bowler hat and a fake pencil mustache unnervingly similar to the one the Rodian tailor had sported. "Hey, Horny Boy," she muttered to him, blatantly patting his ass hello. Maul's rage ebbed a bit as his hormones asserted themselves. Sidious, for his part, struggled to hide his relief. Mary Sue rocked on her heels and looked around idly. "Gang's all here, huh?"
"What is this?" Grandma Doris peered up at Mary Sue, who grinned at her toothily and reached up to run her finger over the base of one of Maul's 'offending' horns. Maul suppressed an unbecoming eep, homicidal rage shelved for the moment, and started thinking instead of where they could sneak off to together during the service (and trying not to think that her whole male-drag look might have something to do with his libido's sudden perkiness).
Sidious for once was at a loss as to how to react. "Er, this is Mary Sue. She is..." (How does one introduce one's illegitimate, Force-sex-bred daughter to one's paleolithically-backwards, thorny-hearted mother, anyway)?
"I'm here with Cynthia," Mary Sue announced. (Maul blinked; he hadn't even realized that the two of them knew each other).
"As what?" Doris scowled yet deeper, if that was possible. "She'd better not be thinking of introducing a cross-dressing little pervert like you to any of my children's sons, that's for certain!"
"Actually, I'm her date."
Everyone started, and Doris let out a small squawk. Date?!?
Mary Sue grinned wider at the collective expressions of those around her. "Yup. We're lovers. Oh, didn't she tell you?" she fluttered her eyelashes at the crone, who seemed to shrink inside her ribcage-baring (her cleavage being located somewhere around her knees) gold lamé gown. Sidious seemed to be trying not to laugh; Maul just gawped. Darth Mary Sue, possessor of the best rack this side of Lara Croftdom, in bed with that roly-poly little...he couldn't wrap his brain around it. He just couldn't. Normally, the idea of two women in bed together made his libido bounce around happily wagging its tail for all it was worth, but...but...but...with Cynthia? Despite all her lascivious comments and offers, her choice of dress and music, and her tendency to flirt with anything that moved, Maul had never actually considered that his neighbor might have anything resembling an active sex life, let alone one that involved his...his...his girlfriend, dammit! He stared at Mary Sue, baffled; she just smiled and patted his arse again, then moved away a little. He kept staring. She smirked and shook her head, chuckling.
Finally, Doris seemed to recover somewhat, and her face darkened dangerously. "Samuel, you get your skinny butt over here now!"
The crowd parted with miraculous speed, revealing a cowering Jedi with balding russet-and-gray hair, who strongly resembled how Sidious would have looked if he had spent the last twenty years being pussywhipped by not only the Mother from Hell but also by whatever passed for his wife. This guy didn't need the Dark Force's influence to be pale and sunken-cheeked. The haunted look in his bluegray eyes deepened as he inched reluctantly forward to stand before his mother. Maul noticed that he was the only adult member of Sidious's kin who didn't have a brood milling around his ankles -- either they weren't present, or had decided to save themselves and hide among the others. "Y-yes, Mother?" he mumbled, head ducked, stark terror radiating off of him in waves.
"Did you know that your daughter is a-a-a lesbian as well as a freak?" Doris demanded, flapping a wrinkled paw in Darth Mary Sue's general direction.
Samuel squinted in confusion. "Then why's she marrying Mer-cedes Benz today?"
"Not that daughter!" the crone screeched. "The other one!"
He blinked dully.
"The only other one who isn't married yet?" Doris spelled out with broadly exaggerated patience.
"Huh -- oh, Cynthia?" He shrugged ruefully. "Figures."
"Well? What are you going to do about it?"
He gave her a long-suffering look. "What do you expect me to do about it, Mother?"
"Well, you go tell her that this won't be allowed, that's what! She's to go find herself a nice Jedi boy and settle down and give me some great-grandchildren! Lesbian. I won't have it, do you hear me?!?"
"How could I not hear you?" Samuel muttered under his breath. Sidious smirked, and Maul and Mary Sue both fought down snickers.
"What was that?!??"
Samuel paled even further. "Nothing, Mother..."
"And where is she, anyway? I want to give that girl a piece of my mind!"
Sidious coughed. "Actually, she's one of the bridesmaids, Mother, so she's already inside the temple. In the bathroom, I believe."
Blink. "What's she doing in the bathroom?"
"Well, they wanted all the bridesmaids to be inside ahead of time to prepare for the wedding procession. However, since her other sisters are initiated into the Jabban church and she is not, Cynthia, like ourselves, technically cannot attend the preliminary slug-handling portion of the wedding ceremony unless she agrees to a quick baptism beforehand."
Samuel looked even more worried. "She didn't agree to it, did she?"
Sidious coughed, and hid what looked suspiciously like a proud smile behind one gloved hand. "I believe that she responded to the offer by threatening to smuggle a saltshaker into the baptismal chamber."
That would have been fun to watch, Maul thought, shifting from foot to foot. Despite the fear and anger surrounding him, and the presence of Mary Sue in a (for her) friendly mood, he was starting to get bored again.
"Hmp. Maybe there's hope for her after all," the crone said grudgingly. "Oh well, I can always corner her at the reception. She raised her voice several decibels. "Now what I want to know is, why did your daughter -- Velveeta, I mean -- why did she have to insist on getting married at this awful place? Why couldn't she have gotten married at Beth Naboo like the rest of us?"
"Um, because she's not Jewish?" Samuel ventured.
"Nonsense! She's Jewish. I don't care what these crazy Jabba slug cultists have brainwashed her into. She was raised Jewish, her family is Jewish -- except for her good-for-nothing mother, why did you marry her anyway, Samuel? -- and what's good enough for us should be good enough for her. Hmp. I can't believe she actually got a Jedi to marry her. That's the one thing she's done right! They better give me some great grandkids to spoil double-quick, let me tell you that -- "
"Exit stage left," Mary Sue hissed in Maul's ear, yanking him into the surrounding crowd by the elbow. She led him down the stairs and up to a relatively slug-free section of path.
Maul might be a glutton for the sort of terror Doris could produce in her brood, but all that shrilling had been starting to make his head hurt. "Thanks," he said grudgingly, checking his boots for slug slime.
"Don't mention it. I can't believe you've had to put up with this shit for twenty years."
"Yeah, well, it gets better. I hear the Jabbans are real nuts, and turns out we have at least four of them in the family." Maul scratched his horns, then tried to yank his hat on over them again.
Mary Sue smirked at his efforts, then squinted speculatively and pulled out her pocketknife. "Gimme that." He handed the hat over, and she began punching a series of horn-sized holes around the brim. "So you've never seen these 'cousins' of yours before? The sluggies?"
"Nope. They don't celebrate any non Jabban holidays, and have this thing about avoiding family functions that are nonreligious. You ask me, it's just an excuse to be stingy on people's birthdays. But anyway. I'm not looking forward to meeting them. If Cynthia's had to deal with all her siblings being crazy evangelists, then my respect for her just went up a notch."
"It better. You treat her like shit."
"Whatever." Maul grumbled, then watched as she sawed out a last hole and handed him the hat back. He pulled it on, and sighed with relief as his horns popped through the holes, securing the hat in place as well as making it fit properly. Then he peered at her a moment and ventured, "You and Cynthia aren't really...fucking, are you?"
She grinned again, a slightly sadistic gleam in her eye. "Like minks."
Maul winced. "Oh come on! That -- I mean, look at her! And...and I'm right across the hall, why fuck her when we could be -- "
Mary Sue shrugged. "She's better company than you are. And she's better in the sack, too."
Maul's libido whimpered and hid. He scowled. "Bullshit."
"Bull-true. The things she can do with her tongue -- "
Wince. "I don't need to hear that. I just can't believe you would pick Marshmallow Girl over -- "
She waved a kid-gloved hand. "Bitch bitch bitch. Deal with it, ok? Anyway, I don't get you. For some reason, she's convinced that you're hot shit. Won't shut up about you! It's ridiculous. One of the best lays on Coruscant's practically offering it up to you on a silver platter, and all you can think to do is whine because I like her better than you? You should get your ass over there for a tuneup instead. Don't know why she's hot for you, but you're a damn idiot not to take advantage of it. I'm serious."
"Sith don't date cuddly women," he recited. "It's right there in the Handbook."
"So, pin the damn book down and make some selective changes. I know you've done it before."
"She's not worth the effort."
"Guilt-trip all you want. I'm not interested in being seen with some fat little -- "
He was starting to get pissed off again. "Cut that out!"
"You're just making excuses." Mary Sue rolled her eyes and then shrugged. "Now granted, I don't actually give a shit, but I figure once she realizes what you're really like, she'll stop wasting most of her time chasing after you and spend some more of it on me." She licked her lips.
Maul gulped, not knowing whether to feel turned on or nauseated. "You know, if you were anyone else, I wouldn't put up with this shit," he grumbled.
Mary Sue just laughed. "But I am me, so you don't have a choice, now do you? That is, if you want to keep your nookie privileges." She fingered his cravat. "Nice suit, anyway. You're the only guy here who doesn't look like either a bathrobe-wearing monk or a ringmaster."
"Thanks, I think." Maul glanced around; his master had been absorbed by the crowd and from the homicidal hatred radiating from that general area was still being berated by his sociopathic grandmother. Considering how long it would take the slugs to finish crawling around on those inside the temple (plucking them off prematurely was a sin), Maul figured they had at least a good half an hour before they had to go inside. "So anyway, my ship's parked over there...wanna step out for a little --"
"Oh, there you are!" Maul's shoulders tried to clap over his ears, but not in time to block out the most annoyingly perky male voice in the universe. Obi-Wan stumbled down the stairs, still wiping purple lipstick-prints from his face. He beamed. "Awfully friendly relatives you have!"
"Your timing sucks," he informed the Padawan, scowling, while simultaneously defending himself from an attempt at a hug.
"Hey, Bro," Mary Sue said with another grin, wrapping her arms around the Twit, who beamed and gave her a squeeze. Maul tried not to gag. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
Obi-Wan did a double take at her outfit. "Uh. Nice, er, nice suit -- *cough* Well, Mer-cedes is an old Academy chum of Qui-Gon's, so he's standing up for him at the ceremony. I sort of..." he shifted uncomfortably.
"Got dragged along?" Maul finished for him. The Twit nodded with a rueful smile.
"Heh. Well, I happen to be planning to have fun today," Mary Sue announced, with an arch little smile.
They both blinked at her in amazement. "How do you plan to pull that off?" Maul asked incredulously. Considering the setting and activities, the 'fun' potential of the coming afternoon could be most accurately measured in negative numbers. But from the gleam in Mary Sue's eyes, she seemed to actually be looking forward to it.
She folded her arms. "All will be revealed in time, my sons," she said sagely.
"All?" Maul leered, then ducked a swat. "Hey, I wouldn't put it past you."
"You want to get cut off or something?" She scowled, then shrugged. "Not without serious cashflow involved, Horny Boy. And have you taken a good look at some of those losers? I swear, Dad must be the only one in the bunch with any appreciable income...and I am not letting him stuff dactary bills in my undies."
"Ok, well, what then?"
She just smiled. "Wait and see."
Finally the doors opened and they filed inside, Grandma Doris bitching incessantly and threatening to clout the ushers with her colostomy bag on her way to her seat. Maul lost sight of Mary Sue almost immediately, but her brother seemed to be attached to him by a (very short) invisible tether; as the herd of Sidious-kin and Jedi pushed into the main chapel he could feel Obi-Wan's warm breath on the back of his neck. That did something to him that this particular cut of trousers wasn't going to do much to conceal, so he thwapped the Padawan in the belly to back him off and thought frantically about dead puppies again. Problem was, that just made him hungrier -- but at least it got his mind off the lustful looks Obi-Wan (and some of the other Jedi, for that matter) had been shooting his direction since his arrival. That was the problem with dressing up -- it made all sorts of inappropriate people want to fuck him. Wait -- they already did no matter what he was wearing. Maul sighed long-sufferingly -- but at least by the time he found the pew where his master was sitting he was relatively boner-free.
The Jabban chapel was relatively small but very opulent. Since one of the goals of the church was an incessant attempt to fulfill that whole Jabba martyrdom prophecy thing, everyone else who wanted Jabba dead -- various Senators, the Trade Federation, other Hutts, Jabba's ex-wife, etc. -- tended to donate generously to the church, and it showed. Maul was particularly impressed by the life-sized Jabba effigy, presumably solid gold, hanging by its neck from (several) thick iron chains bolted to the (heavily reinforced) domed stone ceiling. Its tongue, hanging out of the corner of a realistically lipless mouth, had to be four feet long in and of itself. Some internal hydraulic system caused the thing to continually drizzle drips of greenish slime from the tip of that tongue; these spattered into a golden goblet on the altar, collected for a use which Maul didn't care to think about. Doubtless, the production of this fluid was considered by all but the higher ups in the Church to be a holy miracle; Maul was tempted to sneak back in after the ceremony and carve the thing in half with his lightsaber as a creative (and cathartic; the smell from that viscous crap was already shutting down his olfactory nerves) means of religious debunking. (Beside him, Sidious hid a snort behind another cough). The rest of the chapel was done up in dark brown wood, gilt and more graygreen marble, giving it a cold, damp sort of ambiance reminiscent of the inside of one of Yoda's nostrils. Yet for the occasion, someone, probably at the insistence of either the bride or the Jedi, had festooned the entire place with bunches of baby's breath and swaths of pink satin ribbons. Even the Jabba figure had a huge pink bow around its turdshaped golden tail. So now the place was insipid as well as nauseating and overdone. Better Nostrils and Gardens, Maul thought to himself, and then had to fight down a fit of giggling. He definitely needed to get his blood sugar back up...
The pews were segregated, though not in the normal way one finds at a wedding. Instead of groom's family on one side of the aisle, bride's on the other, Jedi and Sidious-kin seemed rather evenly mixed at the back of the chapel. The entire front half of the pews, however, were filled with a phalanx of Jabba's Witnesses, presumably a large portion of the local chapter. Maul could recognize them by their identical gray suits and long sleeved gray dresses, their identical haircuts (business-drone short for men, long and braided with little gold slug barrettes for women), and the identical expressions on their oddly uniform faces. Not to mention that they were all human. All of them. Not a bit of genetic variety in the bunch. Even their children wore miniatures of the same clothes, haircuts and necklaces as their parents and wore the same blandly smiling expressions on their little faces. It gave Maul the screaming creeps. Stepford-series droids had nothing on these folks when it came to conformity. And their minds were also uniformly, blankly contented; it was like telepathically reading a literal flock of sheep. Maul had to spend a few minutes visualizing jettisoning the lot of them out of the Infiltrator's airlock before he could regain his composure after that mental contact...
Up in the loft, the usual wedding-related organ music started up. Strangely, though, the hymn had a wet, gurgling tone to it, as if the organ pipes were full of snot. As one, the Jabbans started to sing along with the music, in Huttese of course, leaving the rest of the assembled mumbling along halfassedly with awkward expressions. Most of them probably didn't speak Huttese, which Maul thought was probably a blessing. (Though he would have loved to have seen the faces of the Jedi when they realized they had been reluctantly humming on about Jabba's penchant for erotic asphyxia when perpetrated by metal-clad bikini girls...). Then came the procession, which was oddly Catholic-looking save for the priest's slime-green robes and the big gold slug wrapped around his head -- and the incredibly vile-smelling smoke exuding from the censer, an odor more than vaguely reminiscent of an exhalation from the wrong end of a herd of Banthas. Maul urked and buried his nose against his wrist as the censer passed him; beside him his master was discreetly doing the same, looking a bit green under his makeup. Once again, Maul found himself glad for his tattoos.
The priest took his place at the lectern and stared balefully out over the crowd. "Beloved members of our Lord Jabba's faithful and...outsiders..." he began. (Maul rolled his eyes). "We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of one of our own, Sister Velveeta, with the possibly-salvageable-though-I-doubt-his-soul's-worth-it Jedi Knight Mer-cedes Benz." (Maul rolled his eyes again). "But before we begin, I'd like to say a few words to those who are not yetHere we go, Maul thought, starting to get dizzy from all the eyerolling, not to mention the growing awareness of his own hunger). Oh well, it couldn't be that long a sermon. Really. Maybe an hour, then the bride and groom do their thing and we're off to the reception to eat. By this point, even wedding cake and those disgusting fertility almond things were sounding good.
An hour later, the priest finished guilt-tripping the uninitiated for their lack of faith and started in on listing the various moral crimes of which the bulk of Coruscant's citizens were guilty. These ran the gamut from the everyday to the incredibly bizarre, from using slug poison to eating salt. By this point Maul was stiff and sore from squirming around trying to find a comfortable position on the hard wooden bench, so hungry that he was starting to feel lightheaded, and so bored that he found himself glancing at the pamphlets stuffed into the compartments nailed to the back of the pew in front of him with something resembling genuine interest. When he realized that he was fingering them speculatively, he urked and quickly sat on his hands, preoccupying himself with pleasant mental images of carving the priest into a meat sculpture with his lightsaber.
Another hour later, the priest finished up the litany of sins with a list of sexual 'crimes against Jabba' that had begun rather tamely with homosexuality and ended up with several perversions so varied and exotic that even Sidious looked to be at a loss about some of them. Whatever 'unwitnessed sexual congress' was, it sounded incredibly kinky. The whole thing left Maul unsettled and faintly aroused, which considering his surroundings worried the hell out of him. He'd given up on avoiding the tempting pamphlets, and instead had decided to solve two problems at once by munching idly on a few of them. This would have drawn him odd looks from those around him, but those of the uninitiated who weren't fast asleep were busy taking copious notes on the aforementioned perversions.
Finally the priest (who reminded Maul vaguely of Mary Sue's mooch-of-the-moment Bill under his paraphernalia; he had that same sort of oily air of arrogant-yet-whiny cluelessness to him) finished up, looked to the back of the hall, and gestured officiously. The doors swung open; the organ began playing a gurgly processional. And here came the bride.
Well, actually first here came the bridesmaids and groomsmen. In pink chiffon and Jedi robes, respectively, though Maul was sure that some of the male Jedi would have preferred the reverse. Arm in arm, all of them, led by Qui-Gon, who blinked in mild horror when he caught his first look at the Jabban altar. Clinging to him like a barnacle was a sour-faced young woman who looked as little like Cynthia as it was possible for a sister to look -- same bone structure, same coloring, but a foot taller, hair plastered into those coiled Jabban braids with the little slug barrettes, and a slug necklace dangling into the near-empty bodice of her bridesmaid's dress. Qui-Gon radiated discomfort from being in such close proximity to this creature, and looked incredibly relieved when they finally parted company to head to either side of the altar. Trailing after them were three other couples -- an uncomfortable-looking Jedi girl keeping as far as possible away from a russet-haired Jabban brother in a regulation suit, and two other Jedi boys -- the last of which looked less uncomfortable than he did, well, mystified. Maul couldn't figure out why until he took a second look at who was walking beside him...and what, in open rebellion against pink-chiffon-lovers everywhere, she was wearing.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Maul admitted to having wondered how Sidious's family would manage to shoehorn his neighbor out of her beloved black and into your typical frippy, wear-it-once-and-then-bury-it-in-the-back-of-the-closet bridesmaid's dress. The obvious answer was, they hadn't. Well, not exactly. Okay, granted, it was a bridesmaid's dress, fashioned seam for seam, fold for fold and length for length identical to all the others in the ceremony. But it wasn't pink. And it sure wasn't chiffon. And it looked rather elegant, actually, as did the rest of the outfit. The hair and the nails and the lips were now all the same uniform flame red, as was the baby's breath bouquet, which she'd somehow managed to dye without destroying it. And he had to admit, for a round little thing, she looked unnervingly tasty in a low-cut dress. But that wasn't the point. No, that wasn't it at all. The point of Cynthia's going to the time and expense to create and wear the first black patent-leather bridesmaid's dress ever to appear outside of Yoda's 'special' wardrobe was the number of jaws that dropped as she breezed past, arm in arm with her brown-robed escort.
"Oh my," Sidious said, stifling a laugh. A few rows in front of them, Grandma Doris let out a thin shriek of outrage. But even she couldn't beat the doomsday expression written across the face of the bride, another sourfaced, russet-haired beanpole of a girl, who followed close on the heels of the bridesmaids dragging (with less apparent effort than she did her vast slug-colored train) a Jedi-boy even more perky and baffled-looking than Obi-Wan. Maul stifled a laugh of his own as the bride, whose glare never left Cynthia's back, finally reached the altar steps and dragged her pet Padawan to his knees beside her. Cynthia, for her part, lined up next to the other bridesmaids, her bland smile a mirror to their own -- save for the mischievous gleam in her eyes.
The rest of the ceremony was pretty much equivalent to any normal church wedding, except for a communion with what looked like disks of moldy rye bread, and the priest's once again going into detail about husbandly duties, wifely duties, good sex, bad sex (describing the last bit required going into detail for about half an hour; once again the notepads came out among the Jedi), and so on, and so on, and so forth, until Maul heard a great deal of snoring coming from the audience. The priest either didn't notice or didn't mind; maybe the Jabbans took such noises as a sign of approval. Maul people-watched to fight the boredom, but between the blank-faced Jabbans, the sour-faced uncles and cousins and such and the confused expressions of the Jedi, there really wasn't much to see. And he still couldn't find Darth Mary Sue anywhere.
Actually, Maul was kind of disappointed. Mary Sue had promised some sort of big upset to make things interesting, but so far the only odd thing (by Jabban standards) that had shown up had been Cynthia in patent leather. And that didn't really interest Maul. Oh well. Maybe he could find a few ways of his own to discreetly liven up the reception. Telekinesis was such a handy power.... He snacked on another religious pamphlet and thought longingly of the reception buffet.
The reception hall was next door to the chapel; as he filed in with the others Maul noticed with relief that the place was painted an ordinary, utilitarian white, with a tile floor, folding chairs -- and, unfortunately, yet more pink crepe and bundles of white flowers. The only unusual item was a gigantic slug Habitrail that took up part of the far end; wedged into a chair next to Sidious as they waited to be served, Maul amused himself by sending mental images of giant salt shakers in that direction, and was gratified when within minutes over a third of the slimy creatures had shriveled up from fright. If only getting rid of the Jedi -- or getting rid of the Jabba's Witnesses, for that matter -- could have been that easy.
At the moment, however, it was satisfying enough to watch a fair number of both groups suffering a verbal equivalent of some of the more creative torments of the Sith Hells. Grandma Doris had planted herself right between the newlyweds at the head of the main table, and was now regaling the assembled Jabban clergy, her children, Qui-Gon, Cynthia and her other siblings, as well as the entire Jedi council, with a litany of exactly what was wrong with the ceremony, the Jabbans, the Jedi, and every damn other person and thing she had run across that day. Maul was glad to be mostly out of range of her sniping, though that wasn't saying much -- that tiny little woman had the vocal power of a thermonuclear foghorn.
Sidious, who had escaped the torments of the main table purely by virtue of the sheer numbers of his nieces and nephews (apparently families that didn't spawn were bumped in favor of the spawn themselves), toyed idly with his tableware and glanced around. He seemed to be waiting for something. Maul followed his gaze briefly and saw him make eye contact with Cynthia, who nodded and then looked Maul's way. She glanced at him meaningfully and then jerked her head towards the bathrooms. Ah hell. Maul scowled and looked away, not wanting to deal with another request for a standing quickie in near-public. Didn't she ever give up? He risked a glance back. She was still trying to get his attention. Maul grumbled and busied himself looking around again, trying to figure out where Mary Sue had gotten herself to. Ah -- there she was, slipping out of the kitchen with a plate of pilfered hors d'oeuvres. She waved cheerily to Grandma Doris, reversed the empty seat next to Cynthia and straddled it, giving Cyn a brief nuzzle. Maul stifled a growl. It was bad enough that he had to deal with annoying relatives and horny Cynthia, but if Mary Sue had to be nibbling on someone's ear in public it should be his, dammit!
Dinner was salt-free, greens-heavy, peppered with unidentifiable meats and unrelieved by so much as a single drop of booze. It seemed that the Jabbans were teetotalers; that certainly went well with the rest of their dull and anal-retentive image. Maul ate in silence, ignoring how many times Cynthia tried to get his attention or passed close by his chair in an attempt to whisper to him on her way to the bathroom. All the weird food left a rancid taste in his mouth that he couldn't wait to rinse away, and his pre-dinner snack of dry Jabban pamphlets had left him rather thirsty. The water he was served was unnervingly thick and greenish, however, and had a taste to it reminiscent of a really nasty broccoli burp, so after spitting back out the sip he had taken he spent the remainder of the dinner staring longingly at the enormous bowl of scarlet punch set up next to the mountainous wedding cake and the table full of gifts. It was doubtless non-alcoholic and was probably laden with vitamin C and other nastiness, but as another solid hour of Grandma Doris's scatological and prejudice-spiced 'polite dinner conversation' wore on while Maul's mouth started to develop drought fissures, he found himself caring less and less. And from the longing looks others around the room were giving it -- nearly as many longing looks as they were giving the exit -- almost everyone there felt the same.
Finally it was time for the toasts. Much to Maul's surprise, Sidious stood up first, raised his glass of snot-tinged water and tapped on it with a fork to gain people's attention. All eyes turned from the punchbowl to him; even Doris, prompted by a Force-nudge so subtle that Maul himself barely felt it, finally shut up. "I would like," Sidious said in his best grand Palpatine style, "to propose a toast." Glasses raised, somewhat reluctantly. "To my beautiful niece," (Was it Maul's imagination, or did he glance at Cynthia instead of Velveeta?) "to whom I wish a long and prosperous life filled with every happiness." Velveeta blinked, her habitually sour expression softening with surprise as he continued. "And to my new nephew, whom I welcome to our family, and to whom I say --"
"Get out while you still can!" yelled a male voice from the far end of the room, followed by a few snickers here and there. A ripple of horror ran through the crowd; Mary Sue doubled over laughing while Doris stood up screeching a demand that the offender be located. A few moments of chaos ensued; Maul noticed however that through it all Cynthia, whom he would have expected to be catching the whole thing on camcorder, sat still and calm in her seat, an odd look of deep concentration on her face. During a split-second break in the noise, Maul heard what he thought was a faint 'plop' sound from the vicinity of the punch bowl. He glanced that way; no one was over there, though inside the vast crystal vessel the red fluid did seem to be swirling a little. He glanced back at Cynthia, who gave him an oddly meaningful look, then went back to squinting at nothing. Beside him, Sidious sat down again, a strangely satisfied expression written across his features.
"What was that about?" Maul asked him when things had quieted (relatively speaking; Doris was still screeching at the top of her lungs). Sidious simply gave him one of his enigmatic smiles and sat back in his chair, occasionally raising a polite glass of snot as one of his relatives attempted to stammer out another toast over the incessant grandma-noises, which reminded Maul vaguely of those made by a peacock being fed tail-first into a blender. Maul looked Cynthiawards; she looked back at him and jerked her chin towards the bathroom again. He paused, considering. Was satisfying his curiosity about what was up worth enduring another dose of her attentions? Then he shook his head. "This is bullshit," he muttered under his breath. He must be imagining things.
Doris finally wore herself out, and everyone in the room got up hurriedly to line up for punch. Maul leaped out of his seat and started elbowing his way to the front of the line, his mouth so dry now that his tongue felt mummified. He was nearly to the bowl when Cynthia stepped into his path. "Maul, we gotta talk."
"Piss off." He stepped around her. She stepped back in front of him, a bit too close, their height difference inadvertently (yeah right) offering an unsettlingly pleasant view down her cleavage.
"We have to talk." Her face was serious.
"Later. I'm thirsty." He shoved past her, striding towards the punchbowl determinedly.
She toddled along beside him, her face inexplicably worried. "But --"
Maul reached the front of the line and the end of his patience at exactly the same time. He turned on her with a snarl and shoved a finger in her face. "Get. Away. From me." She blinked, startled and for a split second clearly a little hurt; then Mary Sue came up and gently took her elbow.
"Fine. Enjoy your punch..." Cynthia tossed back over her shoulder as the taller woman led her away, an edge to her voice that Maul had never heard before.
"...asshole," Mary Sue added coldly.
Maul looked after the two of them, shaking his head, then grabbed a filled glass out of a random cousin's hand and gleefully chugged it dry. It tasted like Hawaiian Punch -- fifty gallons of Hawaiian Punch, cloyingly sweet, disgustingly fruity -- and after all the crap that had happened today, comfortingly familiar. And it cut his thirst fairly quickly -- all it took was five more purloined glasses. After that, he noticed Grandma Doris bashing her way to the front of the line with an empty cup in each fist and beat a hasty retreat back to his chair.
Sidious sat serenely in his place at the table, a half-empty cup of punch in front of him. (Strangely enough, though, his lips weren't punchstained. Creative use of telekinesis maybe, specifically aimed at not wrecking his makeup? Maul wouldn't put it past the old fop). "So," the Sith master breezed as he sat down, "How many cups of punch did you have?"
Maul patted his belly, which sloshed. "Six, I think." His thirst had relocated to Tatooine, he had a very nice sugar rush coming on and suddenly things seemed nowhere near as boring or uncomfortable as they had before.
"Six, did you say? Hm." Sidious chuckled. "It seems that the punchbowl is very popular." Indeed, all fifty gallons of the red fluid were rapidly disappearing down the throats of Sidious's relatives, with the notable exception of Mary Sue and Cynthia, who seemed to have vanished. (What they were doing to cheer Cynthia up, and where, Maul did not particularly wish to contemplate). Maul noticed a smile growing on Sidious's face. Unlike those he had worn all day, this one was not fake -- which was to say, in the moment or two before he hid it again, it positively dripped with malicious glee. Maul went cold. This was not a good sign.
Something was definitely up.
Group photographs before the wedding cake were next. It took an interminably long time; Maul did his best not to glare into the camera but knew better than to use his usual bite-your-head-off grin. It was hard to stay still, however. He was starting to feel a little lightheaded and restless. Maybe he'd had too much sugar after all -- but he didn't intend to stop. Not when the wedding cake -- greenish frosting notwithstanding -- actually looked edible. Cynthia and Mary Sue re-emerged, and held hands and mugged for the camera until Grandma Doris ordered them physically separated by a rank of cousins. Which left Cynthia standing rather uncomfortably close to Maul and his master, while Mary Sue and Obi-Wan found each other, hugged, and took up where she and Cynthia had left off. Sidious got a peck on the cheek from his rotund, leather-clad niece; Maul, however, got ignored. Good, he thought. Maybe his snubbing her yet again had finally cured her of her ridiculous obsession with him.
It was funny, though, how he couldn't stop looking at her as she stared straight ahead, keeping her eyes firmly off of him. At her hair. At how red it was. Funny how he'd never noticed that before. It was really red -- unnaturally red. Flame red. Lightsaber-glow red. Red red red red red. There was so much red in her hair that he wondered why it didn't leak out and stain her face, her ears, the air around her. He had a sudden urge to lean forward and take a mouthful of it in his teeth, just to see what a red that intense would taste like. Maybe like strawberries. Or hot peppers. Or --
Maul tore his eyes away from her, blinking. Where the hell had that come from?
And was it his imagination, or was the crowd getting restless? A lot of people seemed to be giggling. Some were swaying back and forth. Many were staring with great interest at the ceiling while the photographer waved and yelled to try and get their attention. Maul looked up to see what they were looking at and his jaw dropped. Wow, industrial soundproofing tiles. Strange how they seemed to ripple as he watched, all those little holes scattered over their surfaces expanding, contracting, expanding, contracting -- did soundproofing tiles need to breathe? Maybe they did. How interesting that he'd never realized that before.
A commotion to his right drew his attention. Qui-Gon had inexplicably burst out laughing. He slapped the willowy groom on the back (nearly knocking him over), his eyebrows raised apologetically. "Well, I told you to enter a bridal registry at the mall --"
"That's against my religion!" Velveeta snipped beside her new husband, her voice sounding astonishingly like a young Grandma Doris's.
Qui-Gon only giggled louder. "Be that as it may, now you're stuck with what you've got. And -- heh -- apparently, no one talked to anyone about what everyone else was getting you, because..."
"What's that big hairy hippie blithering about?" Doris shrewed curiously.
" -- we all got you toasters! Hee hee hee..." He looked around; the other Jedi were exchanging glances, telepathic probes and then -- as the truth came out -- looks of embarrassed horror. Velveeta burst into tears and started wailing. Doris took up her screeching again; Miriam grabbed a random Jedi out of the crowd and attempted to stuff him headfirst into her bodice (Obi-Wan's screams for help were all but lost in the harridan yells and muffling bosom).
And Cynthia? Cynthia started to snicker. Evilly.
"What'd you do?" Maul mumbled, reaching for her shoulder. She ignored him; the floor decided at that moment to expand, drawing her away from him rapidly. Maul urked, seasick and confused. Beside him, however, Sidious was the picture of inscrutable calm. He twiddled his thumbs idly as he took in the growing chaos around him...completely ignoring how the walls now seemed to be sucked in and out with each breath that Maul took.
The hell was going on? A strange, airy sensation expanded inside Maul's head, as if his sinuses were filling with warm helium. The crowd started to break up, wandering off in random directions, all except for Yoda, who was climbing the wedding cake. Obi-Wan, hair rumpled and face smeared once again with purple, lumbered past wide-eyed, mouth an o of wonder as he ran his hands in circles over his white tunic. "Wow," he mumbled. "This shirt is really nubby." He stopped in front of Maul. "Feel this." Maul obliged him, sliding his palms over the Padawan's chest. It felt like Nerf fur.
"Coooool." He did that some more, while meanwhile the still-logical remnant of his brain reminded him that he was still wearing gloves and shouldn't really be able to feel anything through them. Obi-Wan made a small merp noise and leaned into the impromptu chest massage. Somewhere nearby Grandma Doris started jabbering in outrage at this, or maybe at something else entirely. But that was easy to ignore. There was a ringing growing in Maul's ears that was really, really beautiful.
"C'mon, Bro, let's get you someplace quiet so I can babysit you." Mary Sue gently took a protesting Obi-Wan by the arms and led him away.
"Hey," Maul whimpered, reaching after them. That embarrassed him -- Sith do not whimper -- but he doubted anyone had heard. He stood there a minute or so, flexing his fingers in midair -- ooo, that felt good, wiggle, wiggle -- then decided he wanted to see his tattoos. He took off the gloves, shoving them down the back of his pants (what the hell, that felt good too), and stared down at his fingers. The black-and-red patterns seemed to writhe and twist while he watched, like snakes fucking. Now there was an image. He swept his hand through the air, watching in amazement as it left curved black and red trails in its wake. He licked his finger. It tasted like cinnamon. Yum.
An amazingly loud and complexly layered squishing noise caught his attention, followed by a thin wail and a thump. "Rude that is! Sitting on that I was!" Maul turned, finger still in mouth, to discover a greenish-frosting-covered Yoda climbing rather unsteadily out of the now-empty punch bowl next to the now half-collapsed wedding cake. Collapsed because the bride was now sprawled backwards against it, an astonished expression on her pinched face (though she was still yipping and sniffling about the damn toasters). The groom had an ankle in each hand and a determined look on his face. As everyone watched, he dove in, tore off her panties with his teeth and, well, proceeded to break at least half a dozen of the Jabbans' sexual prohibitions. Velveeta's mouth closed with a snap and her eyes got huge.
Things were definitely getting interesting.
Grandma Doris's jaw dropped. Then she sucked in a lungful of air that expanded her to three times normal size and expelled it in a roar of righteous anger that blew the toupees off of most of her children (both male and female).
That hurt Maul's ears, and irritated him. So, seeing an easy solution to the problem, he stepped forward, scooped up a big squishy handful of cake (avoiding contact with the bride's heaving thigh -- how could anyone have such pale and skinny legs?) and jammed it unceremoniously into Doris's cavernous maw.
Dead silence broke across the room.
Grandma Doris let out an urk and froze, eyes even bigger than Velveeta's...then munched experimentally. "Hrmph!" Effectively distracted, she wandered around to the side of the enormous cake that was not being used for gynecological explorations and started stuffing her face with frightening efficiency.
"Thank you, thank you. No applause, please." Maul tried to sweep off his hat as he bowed, but it seemed to be stuck to his head. This caused a moment's alarm -- oh yeah, he realized then. Horns. Some spontaneous applause did break out, but mostly all eyes were on the *cough* nuptual performance. The Jabban priest squeaked in outrage and ran back to his chapel to pray and slug-handle for the souls of the newlyweds. Yoda tried to climb back onto the cake and got stuck in a drift of mashed frosting about halfway up. Someone else brought out a camcorder. Velveeta's dad stood there gaping in amazement until his wife, a short round redheaded woman in a gray Jabban dress, clouted him with her handbag and demanded, "How come you never did that for me?"
"Uh, because it's against your religion?" he ventured timidly.
She turned to watch the newlyweds' activities for a few moments, then hmped thoughtfully. "Okay, that's it, I'm becoming an atheist." She grabbed her husband by the collar of his robe and started dragging him towards the bathroom.
"Woohoo!" He toddled along behind her, beaming.
"Poor guy hasn't had a blow job in over ten years thanks to that damn religion," Mace Windu said matter of factly as he ambled to a stop next to Cynthia and Maul.
Cynthia's face crumpled. "Squick! Those are my parents, Mace. I didn't need to hear that."
"Oh, sorry." He cocked his head, watching the action a moment. Velveeta was rapidly turning blue from shock. Benz seemed quite adept at holding his breath for long periods.
"Lucky bitch," Cynthia grumbled. Then she leaned forward a bit, peering. "He's pretty good with that tongue."
"Should be." Windu puffed up a bit. "He was my apprentice."
"No shit?" she turned to look at the Jedi master speculatively. "I don't suppose you're straight?"
He shrugged. "As a donut. Sorry."
"Damn! I'm surrounded by sexy gay men. Must be something in the water."
Maul watched the action a moment longer. His pants seemed to be shrinking. He looked down. "Hi there!" Shit. The cut of his trousers made the sudden jump in his libido even more obvious than he'd expected. And that reminded him...where was Mary Sue? He looked around, but neither she nor her brother were anywhere in sight. Damn. Damn damn damn. Oh well, he reasoned, I'd better go find them.
Unfortunately the room was now several miles long and the doors kept moving. He stumbled along, checking under tables and inside chairs, prying off a few ceiling tiles in case the little holes had swallowed them, and fishing around inside the Habitrail. (Dead slugs sure made neat sounds when you squished them between your fingers). No sign of them anywhere, and he was so horny by now that his balls were whimpering audibly. He glanced speculatively at Cynthia, but -- but -- but, no, even with her hair glowing like embers she was still cute, and if he screwed a cute woman the Handbook would eat him -- or something like that. He couldn't really remember what was supposed to happen, but he knew that it was bad, messy and probably really painful. Besides, Cynthia was ignoring him, pointedly.
The floor was starting to ripple, making it hard to keep his footing. He trudged on, occasionally swatting aside a table or bunch of balloons that decided to get too friendly. His groin ached hungrily. Must find Mary Sue (or Obi-Wan. Maybe both. That would be interesting -- ow. OW, ow, okay, pants shrinking painfully, change mental subject before naughty bits crushed to death...). Deadpuppiesdeadpuppiesdeadpuppies. Phew, okay. Must find Mary Sue. Maybe she was in the chapel? Yeah, that must be it. He made his way over to the chapel door.
An interminable time later, Maul actually found the chapel door and shoehorned his way through it. The chapel was dim and silent, save for some frantically whispered prayers. Hurm? Oh yeah, the priest. He knelt at the foot of the chapel, slugs all over his arms, mumbling something about eternal redemption and holy slime.
Speaking of which...Maul's eyes traveled to the massive golden effigy hanging behind the altar, still drooling snot into that damned chalice, still looking like a really really really really big gilded cat turd. Hormones forgotten for a moment, he let a snarl of disgust creep across his features as he reached for the single-bladed lightsaber hanging from a holster under his right arm. "Buddy," he hissed under his breath to the Jabba statue, "I've been waiting all afternoon for this." He thumbed the switch on the weapon and executed a perfect leap, simultaneously tapping into Pastor Sluggo's thoughts to taste his reaction.
A thunderous crash brought the priest scrambling to his feet. He froze, staring in horror. The sacred Jabba statue now dangled in two neat halves, looking for all the world like two enormous gilded sides of beef. The secret hydraulic system within was now spurting sacred slime in all directions. And, framed between the two desecrated portions of the holy image, standing menacingly on the altar with a blazing red sword in his fist, was a sneering, horned, yellow-eyed, red-and-black skinned figure (in rather well-cut trousers), who pointed a taloned hand at him and commanded, "Get back on your knees!"
Wow, Maul thought as the priest did just that, his eyes as big as dinner plates. This is fun!
"Hmmmmm," he rumbled, stepping down to stand over the cowering Jabban. "Now, what am I to do with you?"
The priest looked up at him, and nervously ran his tongue over his thin lips. His tongue, dyed from the scarlet punch, was very, very, very, very pink...
Maul woke up feeling like a circus parade had marched into his mouth, made a stopover in his sinuses, then headed down his throat and out of his navel -- and that someone had forgotten to sweep up after the banthas afterward. He was lying on a very cold stone surface, stiff all over, shivering and crusted itchily with dried sweat and what felt like a heat rash. When he opened his eyes he discovered that he was sprawled belly-up on top of the Jabban altar, deactivated lightsaber gripped in one fist but everything else he'd been wearing -- with the exception of his top hat and those red satin boxers -- conspicuously missing. Slug tracks crossed his chest and thighs -- and all of his joints ached dully. Other than all of that, however, he was surprisingly relaxed.
Soft whimpering and sobbing from somewhere nearby caught his attention. Obi-Wan? No, the voice was too nasal. He sat up, carefully balancing his head on his shoulders so that it wouldn't roll off and drop into one of the puddles of green slime that now littered the chapel floor. "Ow. Oh man, what the hell did I do? Who the hell did I do?" He just hoped that it hadn't been Cynthia.
A louder whimper drew his eyes down to the foot of the altar. A skinny, naked male figure cowered there, his coiled slug headdress askew atop his rumpled hair and his face buried in his hands. Maul stared at his stooped white shoulders for a few moments in abject horror. "Aw...aw, fuck me!" he finally muttered, not knowing whether to be astonished or simply disgusted. He was in any case filled with a strong need to take a bath. A long, hot bath involving lots of scrubbing. Maybe with steel wool and industrial-strength detergent. "Fuck me!"
The Jabban priest let out another wail and curled tighter, shoulders all but folding up over the top of his head. Then he began rocking back and forth, all the way mumbling semicoherently about horrible demon-creatures forcing him to break his vows...
Maul considered this a moment, then scowled as he remembered something. "You're the one who ripped my clothes off, you fucking hypocrite." Shaking his head, he swung his legs over the edge of the altar and hopped down, looking around for his suit.
There was absolutely no sign of it. Even his socks were missing.
Hooboy. The prospect of wandering out into the parking lot amongst Sidious's relatives wearing only a top hat, lightsaber and rather embarrassingly brief boxers was not one that he wished to face. (Some demented part of his mind started whistling "Puttin' On The Ritz" over and over again until he pummeled it to death with memories of his last tax audit). Okay, time to get creative. He started looking around the chapel for a wall hanging or an altar cloth or something similar with which to cover himself. That's the point at which he saw Cynthia, Mary Sue and Sidious, bags of popcorn in hand, sitting cozily in the front pew watching him.
"Hi!" Cynthia waved cheerily. She was still wearing her patent leather dress, and Sidious and Mary Sue were both still dressed in guy clothes, so Maul assumed (hoped) that not too much time had passed. When he glanced out the window, however, he saw the gray-tinged light of early morning just starting to trickle in. Shit.
He noticed that Cynthia had a big black bag of something slung over her left shoulder. Mostly, though, he noticed that both she and her uncle looked calm, composed, well rested, and that their lips did not in either case have so much as a hint of punch stains. Then his something-hangover addled brain suddenly started putting pieces together with startling rapidity: that strange plopping noise by the punchbowl. *Click*. Everyone at the party having punch except for Cynthia, Mary Sue and apparently Sidious, who must have snuck the contents of his own cup into someone else's when no one was looking. *click* The hallucinations and such that followed. *click* The fact that while everyone else was starting to wig out, the three of them somehow remained composed and lucid. *click* And most of all, the big fat shit-eating grins that were now growing on each of their faces as they watched him make the necessary connections...
"What the hell did you do to me?!?" Maul roared, lunging towards them. Somehow, though, his legs tangled in the cowering priest and he stumbled, landing on his face at their feet. Mary Sue burst out laughing and applauded; Cynthia started to get up to help him but stopped when Sidious laid a restraining hand on her shoulder. Maul struggled to his feet, snarling and fumbling with his lightsaber -- which promptly flew across the room and landed in his Master's hand.
"I think I'd best keep this until you're feeling more yourself." There was a warning edge to his voice; Maul sucked in several breaths and didn't speak or move again until some of the pounding redness had left his vision. "That's better." Sidious tucked the lightsaber away in the inside pocket of his coat. Just at that moment the wail of sirens came within earshot. "Ah. That would be our cue to leave." He glanced over Maul's 'outfit' for a moment, then snickered and shook his head. "I suppose that, if we're caught, we can simply say you were hired to pop out of the cake..."
As it turned out, the building and grounds were in so much chaos that the police did not even notice them slipping away. Most of the chaos centered around Grandma Doris, who under the combined influence of large quantities of LSD and half a wedding cake's worth of sugar was now tossing Wookiee cops in riot gear around like confetti. As their little group hurried back out onto the lawn, they discovered her holding a sergeant up over her tiny head and screeching into his face while the rest of the family stood around wearing expressions of dull amazement. "I told you I don't know how that vial got into my pocket!" Doris howled, giving her captive a shake.
"Awr mrawr ralalala rowf!" he barked back in a panicked voice. Behind him, several swat team members loaded up tranquilizer guns. Maul, Cynthia, Sidious and Mary Sue looked at each other and decided to beat a hasty retreat.
The parking lot was a disaster -- the Jedi had apparently used telekinesis to create Carhenge with the speeders and had then gathered in the middle of it to play Lightsaber Baseball with the wedding presents. They picked their way around shattered toasters and bits of scorched pink paper, passing Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, who were attempting to extricate Obi-Wan's speeder from the mess. "We need to do that again!" Obi-Wan chirped happily, pausing in his Force-directing meditation to bounce a purple Kooshball on his palm. Both he and his master had so many baby's breath flowers stuck into their hair that it looked like they were both wearing white Afros.
"Certainly, young Padawan. Though next time we should choose better company." Qui-Gon broke trance himself to fish a number of pamphlets out of the back of his pants and toss them away with an irritated expression. Maul and the others stifled snickers as they hurried past...
"Kill me now," Maul groaned, balancing a bag of ice on his forehead as he sprawled on Cynthia's couch in his sweatpants. The pain in his joints and sinuses had continued to grow along with his exhaustion during the ride back; fortunately Sidious had been driving or he would have plowed the Infiltrator into the side of a building. He'd managed to get inside and grab a shower, but even as his heat rash eased under the gouts of water his stomach had started to burn. He'd tried diving into his bedroom and burying his face under his pillows, but the pain had kept sleep at bay despite his exhaustion. Finally he had yanked on his sweats and headed across the hall to ask if Cynthia had any niacin pills.
"It's your own damn fault," Cynthia said pointedly as she padded in, stepping over My Apprentice, who was half-buried in a stack of whole dried catnip leaves and busily demonstrating that stoned cats can, in fact, bend themselves double both forwards and backwards without any problem. Maul took the icebag off his head and glared at Cynthia; she just shook her head and handed him a glass and a fistful of pills. "I tried several times to warn you about the punch, but you were too busy blowing me off to listen."
"Rub it in, why don't you." Maul downed the whole handful and gulped the water, hoping his stomach was settled enough now to avoid another eruption. "If you were going to drug your entire damn family, why didn't you at least make sure that the acid was good first?"
"Where's the fun in that?" She dragged over a cushion and flopped onto it next to the couch. "I don't know about you, but I like the idea of Velveeta having to deal with a lysergic hangover on her honeymoon. Snippy bitch. We made sure the kids didn't get too much, and as for the Jedi -- well, fuck, maybe this will loosen some of the poles they've got up their asses."
"You'll probably be disowned if the family finds out you're behind this, you know."
She shrugged. "They'll blame me anyway. They always do."
"While your uncle gets away clean."
Another shrug. "He always does. I don't mind. Besides, I'm considering this one an early birthday present."
A burst of laughter came from the other room. Turned out that the bag Cyn had been lugging had been filled with tiny recording cameras, which she had hidden around the chapel, dining hall and grounds with Mary Sue's help. Sidious and Mary Sue were currently splicing together a highlights tape for use as blackmail material. Maul sat up slowly and eyed Cynthia. "So you did all that just to get back at your sister for trying to make you wear taffeta?"
Cynthia chuckled. "That's part of it. Mostly though it was the Jabbans. I hate those crazy fuckers. That and Grandma -- whom we won't be seeing for a while. Even if she beats the possession beef, the wait for arraignment hearings is abouuuuut a year and a half. We may actually have a merry Christmas this year."
"Which the rest of the family will probably thank you for."
"Sure, if they think it won't get back to her. Anyway, believe me, she more than deserves it."
"How'd you get the vial of LSD into her pocket?"
She wrinkled her nose cutely and winked. "Trade secret."
"Whatever." He lay back again. "Remind me never to piss you off."
In the other room, howls of amusement. "Woo!" Mary Sue called. "Nice form there, Maul!"
"Ah, fuck!" Maul squeezed his eyes shut. "I was hoping you guys hadn't gotten that on tape."
Cynthia snickered quietly.
He opened an eye and regarded her. "You didn't actually...watch, did you?"
She raised both eyebrows. "Hot Stuff, I don't watch. I prefer participation. Which, well, I could have, but..." she sighed. "I have this thing about not screwing people who are too high to know what they're doing. Damn ethics."
"You have a conscience?"
Her face fell. "Sucks, don't it?"
Hmm, Cyn has a guilt complex. That could be useful.
**Lucy in the sky-y with di-a-monnnnds...** My Apprentice rolled around drooling, scattering graygreen leaves across the floor.
"Uh, maybe you shouldn't give her so much catnip," Maul observed.
"Aw, but she's almost as cute high as you are!"
Maul growled at her. She got big eyes and gulped, but for entirely the wrong reasons. He rolled over and pressed his face into the leather cushion, muttering. "I am not cute."
"Okay, okay. But you are acutely fuckable."
He groaned. "Go away..."
"Hey, looks like he's going for four times in a row!" came from the other room. "Guess that thing about LSD and sex drive is true."
"Of course it's true, my dear. I should know. Who do you think helped discover that fact?"
"Sorry. Pass the popcorn?"
"AUUUUUUGH!" Maul rolled back over again and howled. "I can't believe I buggered a priest!"
"Four times in a row, yet. I'm fairly impressed." Cynthia brought him another glass of water.
"Actually he's up to six!" called Mary Sue. Maul mentally went after his libido with a rolled-up newspaper.
"So what's the big deal?" Cynthia sat back down and regarded him.
"Oh come on. Did you see that guy?! He looked like Bill's geeky younger brother! For all I know, he was!"
He glared at her a moment longer, then rolled his face towards the ceiling and dropped the bag of ice back on top of it.
"Must piss you off that you can't remember most of it."
He removed the icebag and cranked the Glare up a few more notches. She started salivating. Damn. "I don't want to remember it. I don't want to be reminded of it. And you don't want me remembering the hand that you had in it, either!"
"Gee, and here I though it was part of your job to corrupt the innocent."
He eyed her, then shrugged.
"In fact, I'd figure on self righteous priests being one of your favorite targets."
"Well, when you put it that way...maybe. But I'd hardly call a Jabban priest innocent -- or a force for good, for that matter."
A slow smile spread across her face. "You might not, but his followers do. Rumor has it your little display's already written itself into the Jabban mythology. They've decided that you're the embodiment of evil and corruption."
Maul urked. "I'm the anti-Jabba?"
Cynthia grinned and nodded. "Yup. Congratulations. You've become a cultural icon. Course, it probably means they'll try and kill you."
He considered. A chance to slaughter dozens of annoying evangelists under the legal pretext of self-defense? He looked for a downside to this, found none, and smiled slowly. "Bring 'em on."
His try at an evil laugh, unfortunately, sent a jag of pain through his temple, and he flopped back again, dropping the icebag onto his forehead. "...but first get me some fucking painkillers..."
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