Darth Maul Sees the Light
by Darth Sabra, with the able assistance of Darths Leona and Edla
Disclaimer: They're not ours (but you've probably all figured that one out by now).
In an attempt to vary his routine, Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith rang the doorbell to his student's apartment, rather than just walk right in, as was his wont. Besides, if Maul were true to form, he would be lounging on that filthy sofa, wasting Sithly time and energy destroying virtual Jedi via his PlayStation when he could be out doing the real thing. Might as well make the boy get up off of his well-proportioned ass. "What a tragedy it would be to lose that treasure to secretary spread."
But his apprentice merely opened the door using the Force, having already determined it was mentor and not his annoying if attractive neighbor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maul's definitive clue came from his cat, who was pacing in front of the door, gathering the Force to her in preparation for yet another session of Mind Whammy with his ever-susceptible master.
Disappointed to find his pupil still slouched playing that infernal game, the Sith Lord manipulated the Force into freezing the game just as Maul was about to move to the final level of Jedi Temple Raider, Darth Lara Croft caught mid-jump on the screen. He took pleasure from the growing wrath in his student. "Yesss, that's it, my boy. Give in to your hatred. Complete your training; strike me down."
But Maul refused to rise to the taunt, recognizing that he still needed answers from this decaying fossil. He tried a mental appeal for a distraction to My Apprentice, who, having been ignored by Sidious, was now ignoring both of them in favor of taking an all-over bath in the middle of the living room floor.
"Since you seem reluctant to participate in your lessons today," Sidious chastised, "I have a surprise for you. One which I have been saving for a special occasion."
The Sith Lord raised his right hand, calling the Dark Side to him to do his bidding. Having sufficiently charged himself, he let fly with the purple lightening, taking out the transformer behind the apartment complex, as well as the plate-glass sliding door that led to Maul's balcony. The transformer exploded in a shower of purple sparks and the room was immediately plunged into darkness.
Not even the distressed cry of "Noooooooo!" issuing from the apartment next door was enough to compensate for the loss of his high score on Jedi Temple Raider. Maul leapt up off of the couch, but managed to check his temper by counting ways to obliterate the smug face gloating in front of him, knowing that giving in to the hate would just please the old bastard.
"So, my pupil. You still refuse to give in to your rage. Well, we will see how reluctant you are after spending an evening dealing with...The Coruscant Power Company!" This last was delivered with a swish of his cloak and a malevolent laugh that receded as the master withdrew, leaving the door open to further annoy his simmering apprentice.
Maul sat stewing, meditating on his frustration at not being able to spend the evening with Darth Lara Croft, honing his anger. But that only went so far. He needed an outlet, but, for the moment, he would settle for a little light. Maul called his lightsaber to him and ignited it. This was fine, but his batteries would not last the night; he needed more. A quick glance around his apartment revealed nothing but the greasy remains of fast food containers. Perfect!
Gathering the pile of debris into the center of the room, Maul moved to ignite the bonfire with his saber, but was met with a curious resistance. Glancing at the top of the heap, Maul recognized the pizza-box-turned-emerging-civilization that had been evolving in the corner of his room for some weeks now. A closer glance revealed a miniature shield generator, which explained his failure with the saber. With a growl, he lashed out with the Force, once more scattering the mess across the whole of his living room floor and seriously pissing off the cat.
Ignoring a compulsion to open a can of tuna, Maul gave in to his rage and looked for a new target. Perhaps it was time to do as his master had suggested and call CPC. Before he could stumble too far in search of his phone, he was rudely interrupted.
"Hey there, neighbor!" came a sickeningly sweet yet somehow enticing voice.
Maul shook off the momentary lapse in reason and grunted something that might just be misconstrued as a greeting, continuing his search for the phone.
"I just came over to see if you were okay, what with the power outage and all. And I brought you these, just in case you couldn't find yours."
Maul decided it was more productive to turn around and mock whatever it was the twit had brought him than to just continue ignoring his neighbor. Turning, Maul found the annoyance standing in the still-open doorway to the apartment, arms brimming with candles, head crowned with a ring of lit candles and cheap, imitation evergreen. What the...?
The padawan noticed Maul's attentive stare. "Like it? It's my Santa Lucia wreath. I learned about it in my Comparative Religions class and thought it would look cute as a center piece in the dining room. But Qui-Gon seemed to like it better on--"
"Enough of your offensive Jedi sexual practices!" Maul snapped, irritated at the spark of interest he'd felt.
Oblivious to the insult, Obi-Wan continued brightly. "Well, at any rate, we might as well start setting these up in here so you can see!" The pest began placing candles on any available surface -- and there weren't many -- and lighting them with one of those little fireplace lighters.
Hmm, perhaps the twit is good for something after all, Maul thought, until his olfactory sense was assaulted by a fetid odor. Something fruity...or was it floral? At any rate, it stank! "Gah!!! What is that?"
"What is what?" Obi-Wan returned, puzzled.
"That foul stench. Blech!"
"I don't smell anything except the scented candles."
"Scented?" Maul picked up the nearest candle and looked at the label on the bottom. "Freesia?!" he barked, taking a cautious sniff. "ARGGGGGHHHH! Are you trying to poison me?"
"NO, Maul, of course not! Oh, I can't seem to do anything right today. First I forgot to buy hamster kibble at the pet store and had to make an extra trip out, then I blew out the electricity making dinner for Qui-Gon..." he trailed off, suddenly finding one of the more noticeable stains on the carpet quite interesting.
"YOU are to blame for this inconvenience?" Maul bellowed, laying it on thick, knowing who was really responsible and wondering how he could put Jedi guilt to use.
"I'm sorry, truly I am! How should I know that running the crock pot, toaster oven, food processor, mixer, blender and microwave at the same time would cause a blackout? I mean, we've plugged in a whole boxload of, er, um...Well, never mind. Say, did anyone ever tell you your tattoo is quite attractive by candlelight?"
Blindsided by the lightning quick change of topic and the obvious flirt, Maul was at a loss for a suitable come-back. Luckily their conversation was brought to a halt by a strong disturbance in the Force, seemingly emanating from the Jedi twit's apartment.
"Fluffi-Wan!!! Cuddles!!!" Obi-Wan shrieked, running next door, saber lighted.
"Hmmm. This could get interesting. I sense much fear...and we know where that leads!" Maul followed, entertaining thoughts of the look on Qui-Gon Jinn's face when he learned his precious padawan plaything had turned to the Dark Side. He was momentarily distracted by the view of said padawan's shapely ass and caught himself just short of plowing into the idiot, who'd stopped in front of the plastic monstrosity that was the HabiTrail Power Hamster EcoSphere 9000.
Glancing over the twit's surprisingly muscular shoulder, Maul was treated to an odd sight. My Apprentice and that freaky Jedi hamster were locked in a battle of wills, right paws raised, furry faces masks of concentration, fighting over the Force lock on the HabiTrail. The plastic top to the main unit rattled ominously as it was caught between two apparently equal manipulations of the Force. Damn, but that little ball of hamster fur seemed to be holding his own! Much more satisfying was the sight of the one called "Cuddles," reduced to cowering in the corner, twitching much as it had when Maul had watched the little wretch while Obi-Wan was on vacation.
"Oh, you silly kitty!" his ditzy neighbor cooed, putting away his lightsaber, picking up My Apprentice, turning her over on her back and scratching her tummy. To Maul's horror, she just lay there and accepted this humiliating defeat! It hit a little too close to home. They would have words later.
"It's soooo cute to see them all playing together so nicely, don't you think?" Obi-Wan gushed.
"Whatever," Maul growled, fighting an overwhelming urge to pick up that box of hamster treats and feed the little guy behind the glass. He broke away and glared pointedly at his cat, who was purring contentedly, cradled in the arms of the enemy. "If you are quite through, My Apprentice, I have had enough of this power outage. It is time to reveal ourselves to the Coruscant Power Company!"
One last glower at the hamster caught the little scrap of fuzz waving a paw in front of an adoring Obi-Wan's face before turning again to the cat and delivering an "Until-We-Meet-Again-Worthy-Adversary"-type nod.
"Sure thing, neighbor! May the Force be with you in your undertaking. I hope you can find your way out on your own. Sorry to be so rude, but I just remembered, it's time to feed my wittle Fluffi-Wuffi and poor baby Cuddly-Poo."
Maul sneered contemptuously at his well-built but dim-witted neighbor; was he so blind that he could not see the monumental pile of hamster pellets amassed in the anti-chamber just off the main unit? Grabbing My Apprentice by the scruff of her neck, the Sith-in-Training returned to his own apartment, pulled the least offensive-smelling candle over to the phone and dialed the number on the back of his last, frightfully crumpled CPC bill.
After 20 rings, his patience was fraying. At 35 rings, tendrils of Force from the Dark Side began freely flowing throughout his apartment. At 53 rings, he was reaching for his lightsaber, prepared to mount a one-man assault on this power consortium, when a series of mechanical clicks began on the other end of the line followed by:
"Welcome to the 'Coruscant Power Company -We bring good things to Light' customer service line. To ensure courteous service, your call may be monitored. For emergency calls or power outages, press 1. For billing inquiries, press 2. To start or stop service, press 3. For collections, press 4. For customer service, press 5. For environmental concerns, press 6. All other callers and those with rotary dials, please stay on the line and our next available representative will take your call."
Maul reached out to press 1, but stopped short when he remembered that his master had insisted he replace his hot shit, jet-black combination cordless telephone/voicemail/fax unit with this hideously outdated puke-green rotary job as part of his on-going effort at honing his apprentice's anger. It was definitely working.
Forced to endure the wait for a representative, Maul passed the time thinking of all the slow, excruciatingly pain-filled ways he could finally strike down Sidious and take his rightful place as Sith Master. His reverie was interrupted by an irritatingly cheerful voice.
"'CPC-We bring good things to Light' customer service. My name is T'Fan-Nee. How may I serve you today?"
Maul took a moment to savor that last question. He could get used to this type of obeisance. Perhaps the time to strike down his master was closer than he thought...
"Power in my dwelling has ceased. You will come now and--" He was interrupted mid-demand.
"One moment, please!" chirped the voice.
Maul found himself once again on hold. He felt the Dark Side rising, infusing him with the desire to hunt down and destroy every being who had even so much as thought of working for the power mongers.
Another series of mechanical clicks, then:
"If you wish to report a reactor leak, downed or sparking wires, please press 1. If you wish to report all of the lights out in your home, please press 2. If you wish to report a power outage to your place of business, please press 3. If you wish to report a street light out, please press 4. All other callers and those with rotary dials, please stay on the line and our next available representative will take your call."
"ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!" Maul howled. "I was just speaking to one of your demon-spawned representatives! I demand service NOW!"
An empty line was the only response. Maul gave into his rage and a small whirlwind punctuated with flashes of purple lightening began to spin in the corner of his living room, causing the candles to flicker and placing the pizza box civilization in imminent danger. Maul watched, fascinated, as small rockets emerged from the base of the box, supporting it as it lifted. Thrusters pushed the box forward a few feet, until it was safely positioned behind a pile of laundry that was definitely not moving without aid of a shovel. It was definitely time to introduce the pizza box to his neighbor's refrigerator.
A new and equally chirpy voice spoke, "'CPC-We bring good things to Light' customer service. My name is Am-bher. How may I serve you today?"
"Get out here and restore my power this instant, THRALL!"
"Hold on, please, sir, and I'll connect you to an Outages and Emergencies representative."
Maul was cut off again before he could deliver his comeback: "Why the $#^$#^& didn't you do that in the first place?!"
Another extended wait, then, "'CPC-Good things to Light, we bring'. Reached Outages and Emergencies, you have. Help you, I can. Tell me the nature of your problem, you must." That voice sounded annoyingly familiar.
"For the THIRD time, MY DWELLING IS WITHOUT POWER! I DEMAND YOU SEND A CREW OUT...Wait a minute. Your voice sounds familiar. Since when do Jedi scum work for CPC?"
"Privatization of all major utilities, the Senate has recently called for. An effort, this is, to reduce spending and leave available more funds for upgrades to the Senate boxes. Mention there was of turbo-chargers and keen new racing stripes."
Maul's rage swelled; the whirlwind picked up speed. "So, you are telling me that I must debase myself and petition the Jedi to regain my power!?!? This I CANNOT do!" He was not sure how effective a phoned-in Mind Whammy would be, but he was beyond caring. The whirlwind picked up a few of the more recent additions to the clothes heap and swirled them around, barely missing one of Obi-Wan's malodorous candles. "You WILL send a crew out immediately and fix this--I am NOT asking, I am demanding!"
"Send a crew out, I w--cannot. Not at the moment. Sorry, I am, but our crew, er, crews are currently working to restore power to Senator Palpatine's private dunge-- er, quarters. Estimate return of your power in a range of 1 to 12 hours, I can. Clouded, this outage's exact duration is."
Maul held the phone out at arm's length, gathered his whirlwind to him and shot purple flame into the handset of the ancient rotary phone in a move worthy of a Sith Lord, destroying the transmitter. The receiver was still functioning and he heard a girly Jedi shriek from the other end of the line.
"Anger, the path to the Dark Side is, young man. Wary you must be. Frying the bearer of bad news, an unproductive act is. Have a nice day."
That Jedi refuse had hung up on him. "Death to all Jedi!"
Maul summoned the whirlwind, and this time it managed to tip one of those noxious candles onto My Apprentice, who had been enjoying the drama playing out over the phone line. The small cat leapt up off of her favorite chair in full turbo-shed mode, sending an angry cloud of cat hair flying to all four corners of the room before turning around and racing into the relative safety of the kitchen. She informed Maul in no uncertain mental terms that it would take more than a can of tuna to make up for this.
Grumbling vague promises of new cat toys and possibly another unauthorized trip next door for "playtime" with the Jedi hamster, Maul stamped out the candle before the flame consumed any more of the seat cushion. While he had to admit that burning foam rubber and fabric smelled much better than that Freesia-scented candle, he was not about to cut off his tattooed nose to spite his face by burning down his apartment in his rage against the Jedi; the whirlwind died a quick death. No, this required a more thoughtful solution--or at least one that took out Jedi possessions rather than his own. And right now, the closest Jedi just happened to be--
Maul's evil contemplation was rudely interrupted by a rousing chorus of "Santa Lucia" from next door. And he didn't even have the luxury of turning up his stereo to drown out the rat-tailed flake. Maul glanced angrily through the shadows at his stereo, then at his beloved, dormant PlayStation. Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Sith got a wonderful, awful idea! At last, revenge would be his!
Sidious, once again stood outside his protege's apartment, savoring the moment of anticipation. He couldn't wait to experience the rage brought about by last night's activities. But as he stood there, reaching out to soak up the expected fury, he was shocked to feel only intense satisfaction radiating out from the residence.
Throwing open the door with his usual disregard for Maul's privacy, he entered to find his apprentice sitting in a room lit only by the flickering images from the television screen to which the ever-present PlayStation was attached. He watched with pleasure as Maul scrambled to save the game in progress, already anticipating another power loss. Sidious decided to give him this small victory and wait until he'd moved up a few more levels before taking out the power again. "Excellent, my apprentice. You are learning."
"Thank you, my master."
Sidious took another look around the darkened apartment; even through the dim light, the squalor was apparent. And speaking of light...
"Tell me, my apprentice, were you not able to persuade the power company to restore service? And, how is it that you have power to run that infernal game but have no lighting?"
Maul's face broke into a nauseating rictus that was, his master suspected, supposed to be a grin, the combination of lighting (or lack thereof) and facial hue adding to the display. "I am running on Jedi power, my master."
Liking the sound of this, he pressed, "Explain."
"That fool next door took blame for your 'accident', so I used it against him. I convinced the twit that I had been playing Jedi Temple Raider for charity - the higher the score, the more money to aid 'Children Raised by Wild Tauntauns'. His ineffectual Jedi training forced him to submit to my plan."
Sidious privately thought that the fact that Maul was currently dressed in only a pair of black silk boxer shorts may have had more to do with it than the guilt. "Excellent! You have mastered this lesson well. But there is still the matter of the power company."
Before Maul could respond, an exhausted voice sounded from the next room. "Maul? Oh, Maul? Is it time for my break yet?"
Sidious peered at his protege in inquiry.
"I convinced the dolt that to use the Force as power would be cheating. So I hooked up a small generator to that exercise bike you insisted I purchase..." he paused and ushered his master into the next room.
The Dark Lord's contemplation of his own student on said piece of machinery was interrupted by the reality of the Enemy's student on the bike, shirt removed, sweat running in rivulets down a bare back and chest, soaking into the top of a criminally tight pair of biker shorts which served to emphasize the young man's...assets. The padawan turned a hopeful but sweaty face toward his neighbor.
Maul stood to the side, made a sweeping gesture toward the vision on the bike and all but said, "Am I not Hot Shit?"
"Very nice. Yesssss, very nice, indeed," Sidious oozed, taking in the view from every angle. "Oh and you did well, too, Maul."
"Thank you, my master," Maul said smugly.
Sidious managed to tear his focus from the beauty on the bike long enough to get back to his yet unanswered question. "But what of the power company?"
"I triumphed there, as well. I forced the scum who run it to submit to my demands and restore my power about 15 hours ago."
Silence descended for a moment, as Obi-Wan stopped peddling faster in his misguided and unsuccessful attempt to distance himself from the groping hands of the Sith Lord. He stared disbelievingly at Maul's gloat then let out one long but rather haggard, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!"
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