Sith Academy: Darth Maul Mows the Lawn
by The Plaid Adder
[Read The Plaid Adder's author bio]
"You are progressing well, my young apprentice," Darth Sidious murmured. "But you have much yet to learn."
"What must I learn, master?"
"Before you can learn rebellion, you must learn obedience," Darth Sidious said. "You have served yourself and the Dark Side well. But a true Sith must also learn to serve his master."
Darth Maul grimaced. He learned to dread any conversation that opened with the words "A true Sith must."
"Tomorrow I must travel to Coruscant for an emergency meeting," Sidious continued. "After that, the Sith Junior League is coming over for drinks on the patio. I fear that the time I have been devoting to your education has led me to neglect the state of my grounds. Therefore tomorrow morning, you will mow my lawn."
Darth Maul watched speechless as his master handed him a scrap of paper with an address written down on it. "The tools are in the shed. I will return at noon."
"Master," said Maul.
"Yes, my apprentice?"
"I question the pedagogical value of this exercise, my master."
Darth Sidious turned on him. "I find your lack of faith...disturbing."
Memo to Darth Maul, he thought to himself as his windpipe began closing. Never question the pedagogical value of an exercise.
Clutching the scrap of paper in one red, sweaty hand, Darth Maul looked over the picket fence at the residence of his master. 225 Midichlorian Terrace was a modest little home, with gray shingles, an asphalt roof and a little weathervane perched on the top. The profusion of garden gnomes littering the pathway to the front door struck Maul as slightly out of keeping with his master's personality. But then his master was leading a double life, and perhaps the rest of the Senators were disarmed by this display of sentimentalism and bad taste. A man with a weakness for lawn sculpture could hardly be capable of interplanetary domination.
Maul pushed the mower out of the shed. He checked the fuel reservoir, which was full. After priming the engine, Maul pulled the ripcord.
A cloud of blue smoke belched from the tailpipe. Maul began pushing the mower up the long, long expanse of back yard toward the house.
Maul was hot. Maul was sweaty. Maul was very, very angry.
It was, he reflected, his own fault that he had chosen to mow a lawn on a hot summer day wearing a black woolen cape. Even putting the hood down didn't help much. And since he was wearing nothing under the cape but a pair of Teletubbies boxer shorts he had purchased in Sears from a pimply-faced kid with a rat-tail, a buzz cut and an unpleasant smirk, he couldn't take it off when he heated up. So, pushing the mower for the thirtieth time up that nasty hill by the rock garden, trying to avoid the concrete toadstool and the gnomes that sheltered underneath it, and realizing that he still had 90% of this lawn to do and most of it was hilly, he was in a very bad mood.
The motor gasped, the smoke dissipated, and the blades stopped turning.
Maul pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened.
Maul pulled the ripcord again.
Remember your training, Maul told himself. Let your rage and hatred flow through you. The mower is your enemy. You must bend it to your will.
Rage and hatred flowed through him. With a bloodcurdling snarl, Maul yanked one more time on the ripcord.
The cord sailed backward in an arc, attached to a fair chunk of the lawnmower motor.
The mower followed a few seconds later, battered and melted into an unrecognizable shape.
Maul plodded out toward the car in the driveway.
"Can I help you, sir?"
The boy could not be more than sixteen years old. He was wearing some kind of strange uniform and a button reading "Welcome to Wal-Mart."
"There is a lawn. I wish to raze it to the ground. I must have tools. Power tools."
The boy said, "Lawn & Garden, Aisle 58."
Half an hour later, Maul faced a bewildering array of mowers, edgers, trimmers, trimmer/edgers, riding mowers, riding edgers, handheld shears, motorized shears, motorized shears that converted into lawn sprinklers, and sundry other items, none of which struck him as quite what he was looking for.
"Indecisive you are," said a voice.
Maul looked around, but saw no one.
"Tools you need. Too many kinds. Very, very frustrating." Maul finally located the voice. It was coming from a very short creature with triangular ears that stuck out horizontally. It had fuzzy white hair, a very small uniform, and a name tag reading "MY NAME IS YODA."
"Help you I can," said the creature.
"Do you work here?" Maul asked, at a loss.
"Weekends only," said Yoda. "Pays like crap, my day job does. Moonlighting this is called. Tell me what you need, young Sith."
Maul started, pulling his hood down over his eyes in a futile effort at disguise.
"Do not worry, young Sith," said Yoda. "Sunday this is, work for Wal-Mart I do now. Meet me Monday, lightsaber your ass I will. Today, show you quality merchandise at low low prices I must. What need you?"
"The grass mocks me," said Darth Maul. "I will have revenge."
Yoda shook his head and clucked softly. "I sense much anger in you, young Sith. Careful you must be. Anger leads to hatred. Hatred leads to divots. And bald spots. How big this field of grass is, that mocks you so?"
"Big," said Darth Maul.
"Riding mower you need? We have many."
"Is that what you recommend?"
Yoda looked him over. "Bad bad idea, I think. Drag on ground that cape will, into blades it will suck you. One Sith bad enough is, 1000 very small ones...need that, no one does."
Irritated by the way the little creature was laughing at his own joke, Maul allowed his eyes to roam the tools hanging from the walls.
Suddenly his breath caught. His red eyes widened. His pulse quickened and his heart began racing.
"What..." Maul's voice was a barely-audible whisper. "What...is that?"
Yoda looked where Maul was pointing. "That? The Mauler 5000? Oh no no no. Industrial strength, that is. Use for highway median strips only."
The Mauler 5000 was a black steel pole about fifteen feet long with handle grips on either side of the sleek, shiny motor perched in the middle. On each end was a rotating disc fitted up with a set of jagged steel spikes that gleamed in the fluorescent overhead lighting. Darth Maul didn't know what it was for. All he knew was that he had never seen anything so beautiful.
"How much?" he asked.
Yoda was still nattering on. "Wrong tool, young Sith. An edger that is. Weed-whacker. Use for hard-to-reach areas and verges only. Not with this whole lawn do you mow. Come see power mowers. Starting from $199.99 they are."
"I want that one," Maul said, reaching for the Mauler 5000.
"You have much to learn, my son."
Maul stood at the top of the hill, grasping the handles of the Mauler 5000. A breeze had sprung up from somewhere, and his cape was waving behind him as he brandished the weapon at the sky. Maul pulled the ripcord with his teeth. The motor roared into vibrant, quivering life.
A vision of Darth Sidious seemed to float before him.
"Use the Force, my young apprentice. Let the rage and hatred guide you."
Maul leapt into action, whirling the Mauler 5000 around him as he spun, bounded, dove, somersaulted, and flew all over the lawn. Blades of grass flew through the air as the Mauler's teeth whirled and bit. Clumps of moss, leaves, dirt and twig danced as Maul played about him with the hot steel rod in his hands.
I, thought Maul, as the end of a tree limb sliced off and shot across the lawn, am hot shit.
An hour later, panting with exertion, Maul looked over his handiwork.
By The Little Inferno. Click to see larger image.
The grass was six inches high in some places, an inch high elsewhere, and completely gone in others. The once-even swath of green was now spotted with irregular holes where the sod had been torn up and divots flung hither and yon. He could not find a single square foot where all the blades were the same height. Mounds of torn-up dirt and grass littered the sward. It was a disaster of mythic proportions.
I, thought Darth Maul, as the motor finally ran out of gasoline and churned to a sickened halt, am dead meat.
The phone rang. Maul was curled up on the couch in the fetal position.
"You have reached the dark side. You know what you must do."
Maul sighed, and waited for the beep.
It was Sidious. "A true Sith does not screen his calls, my apprentice."
Maul picked up the phone. "I am here, my master."
"I gave you an order."
"Yes, my master."
"You know the punishment for disobedience."
"Yes, my master."
"It is unlikely that if you attempt to rise up and slay me, at your stage, you will succeed."
"Such a thought is far from my mind, my master."
"My lawn looks exactly as it did when I left this morning. You are a dead man, my apprentice."
Darth Maul suddenly sat up.
"Exactly the same, my master?"
"Exactly. The Sith Junior League will be here in half an hour. They will be talking about me behind my back all afternoon, merciless bitches that they are."
"But my master..."
"It was a simple enough instruction. You had only to go to 223 Midichlorian Terrace and--"
"223?" Maul shouted, forgetting protocol in his excitement.
"223 Midichlorian Terrace. That is where I live."
"But...but...I went to 225, my master."
"You mowed the lawn at 225 Midichlorian Terrace?"
"Yes, my master."
"Wait, my apprentice," said Sidious. "I will inspect your handiwork."
Maul waited in dread.
Sidious returned to the phone.
"Excellent work, my apprentice," he said. "You have done well."
Maul blinked. "I have?"
"Do you know who lives at 225 Midichlorian Terrace?"
Maul shook his head, forgetting that this would not mean anything to Sidious. In the silence he heard the sound of a landspeeder coming to a stop and the door opening.
"NooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" cried a voice in the distance. It sounded familiar, although he couldn't quite place it.
"Decapitating the gnomes was a particularly nice touch," Sidious said. "I am pleased, my apprentice. You have done well for the dark side."
Maul hung up the phone, bewildered, but glad that he had been vouchsafed another day among the living.
Obi-Wan stood in shock outside of his landspeeder, surveying the wreck that had once been Qui-Gon's pride and joy.
"He's gonna kick my Padawan ass," Obi-Wan muttered.
From next door came the sound of someone laughing.
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