Sith Academy: Darth Maul Earns His Master's Degree
by Lilith Sedai
Based on a TRUE STORY.
Darth Maul set aside his thirtieth huge mug of coffee and glared at the vidscreen of his computer, his mouth set in a rictus of rage. His Master's latest life-lesson was the most fiendish yet! The boring lives of pitiful Jedi and the nauseating antics of their sickening code... struggling to find new insight amidst a mass of smugly superior Jedi critical theory... he had no idea why his Master thought it was a good idea to kowtow to those sniveling Jedi fools, but here he was, in their power!
He moodily reached under his ragged, filthy "Sithlords Kick Ass" T-shirt and scratched an armpit, re-reading his work. Bantha poodoo. Utter, TOTAL BANTHA POODOO!
Frustration peaking, Maul reached for the edges of the screen, his trailing fingernails scraping curls of plastic as his hands tightened with inhuman strength. Hours of work. DAYS of it. ALL USELESS!!! With a roar of rage, he bashed his frontal horn through the glass, thoroughly destroying the image of everything he had written. The entire computer shorted out with a most satisfying sizzle.
"Good, my young apprentice!" Darth Sidious cooed. "Give in to your hatred."
Maul lifted his head, a satisfied sneer curling his lips. "I'll teach those weak Jedi academics, won't I, Master!"
"You should be more than a match for them, my apprentice." Sidious paused, giving Maul another moment to gloat. "You did save your work on disk before you crashed the computer, did you not?"
"What?" Maul lifted glazed, bloodshot eyes to his Master.
"Oh. I guess you didn't. Well, I'm sure you kept hardcopy." Sidious paused. "It is the first law of the Sith. Always keep hardcopy... oh. I remember now. I forgot to tell you that, didn't I. Better get back to work. Your first chapter's due in two days."
Maul threw back his head and wailed.
Maul stalked into his chair's office. His eyes were a sickly greenish-red hue and he could barely control the caffeine-shakes wracking his lightsaber-hand. His robe reeked of stale coffee and sweat; the last time he'd taken time for a shower was at least four days ago, two days before he destroyed his computer and painstakingly had to re-create all his work. Nevertheless, he'd stuffed himself into an official Jedi suit in an attempt to impress those blasted weaklings.
He staggered, his head buzzing from a combination of bashing it against walls, too much caffeine, and a possible overdose of Smuggler's Choice No-Doze capsules. His condition was none the better for having been forced to spend half of the last two days frantically trying to track down his committee, Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, and Mace Windu, and arrange for a place and a time where they could all conveniently meet at once.
"Greetings, young Maul!" Yoda chirped. "Your new chapter I got. Read it I did."
Maul forced himself to smile ingratiatingly. "I... hope you liked it." He felt his teeth grinding and hoped that his Jedi enemies would think the vibrations now shaking the room were only the result of his caffeine-shaky physique rattling against the conference table.
"Like it I did not!" Yoda slapped down the sheaf of papers he held. "Faulty your research is. Flawed are your conclusions. Turgid your prose. Conclude you do that anger gives power. Approve of this I will not!"
Maul's eyes narrowed dangerously, and his vision doubled as his blood pressure shot through the ceiling. He stared pure murder at all four Yodas he could see, and decided to kill the one on the left first.
"I have to agree," Mace Windu stated smoothly. "And your citation forms are not standardized. If you attempt to publish this you will be convicted of plagiarism."
Maul turned his flat stare on Windu, but before he could grate a suitable response, Qui-Gon Jinn broke in.
"I think you should pursue an entirely different topic. Rage as a pathway to power is very interesting, but I am more interested in seeing you do something with mental domination. I've written several books on the subject myself and I think you should read and memorize them all. And I want you to find every work I cite in my bibliographies and read them as well. And every work they mention in their bibliographies. Until you run out of related works."
"You want me to do something with mental domination???" The Sith lifted both wildly shaking hands. "My chapter is perfect!"
"Perfect your chapter is!" Yoda agreed enthusiastically, thumping his stick on the ground.
My research forms are perfectly satisfactory!"
"Your research forms are innovative and admirable! I'll be submitting them as models for a new research forms handbook which you'll have to buy immediately of course."
"That is not acceptable!" Maul roared at Mace Windu. "I'm living on a shoestring as it is, slaving away teaching your miserable Padawans for you, taking out endless Republic loans, renting an apartment I can't afford, buying these horrible tweed and corduroy robes, wearing a TIE of all things...!!!! YOU WILL BUY A COPY AND PUT IT ON RESERVE IN THE LIBRARY!!!!"
"I will buy a copy and put it on reserve in the library."
"And as for YOU!" Maul glowered viciously at Qui-Gon Jinn. "I WILL HAVE YOUR PADAWAN AS MY RESEARCH ASSISTANT!"
"I think you would benefit immensely from Obi-Wan's help," Qui-Gon's eyes were foggy. "I'll assign him as your research assistant."
"This conference is at an end!"
"This conference is at an end," Yoda agreed. "But I have one last thing to bring up. Your defense date. I'm afraid we've had to move it forward."
"That's right," Windu nodded. "Qui-Gon got jury duty and I'm going to take some time off and visit a pleasure planet. And Yoda just doesn't want to come in to the office during the Coruscant Children's Sporting Festival."
"You'll have to give us your final draft three weeks from now," Yoda informed him as the three Jedi Masters filed blithely out the door.
Maul crawled under the conference table, curled into a fetal position, and whimpered.
**KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK**
Darth Maul cursed, his prose having been stopped in mid-flow. Sweat beaded his brow; the air-conditioner had broken down and he couldn't afford to fix it. He contemplated yanking on his least-filthy pair of boxer shorts, but decided against it... he'd need to wear them to his defense. He kicked piles of paper out of his way as he stalked toward the door.
"Hi! I'm Obi-Wan." The Jedi apprentice beamed happily. "Wow! You're tattooed all over, aren't you! Well, I'm here to...ULP!"
Maul reached out and caught the simpering young Padawan by the collar and jerked him through the door rudely. "You're here to be my research assistant!" he gloated.
"Yeah! Master Qui-Gon figured that since I already finished my thesis a good two months before the deadline, it'd be the Jedi thing to do to help you out a lit... say. What's that SMELL?" Obi-Wan wrinkled his nose cutely.
Darth Maul sniffed the air suspiciously, his senses having been deadened by coffee and too many stale danishes. "OH SHIT!!! MY PIZZA!"
Tossing Obi-Wan through a nearby wall, he raced into the kitchen and snatched the smoking pizza out of the oven, juggling it frantically and swearing as it burned his fingers. In a fit of insane hunger, he'd shredded his oven mitt and eaten it; he hadn't had time to go shopping and it was the most palatable item in the entire apartment (the only thing left in his cupboard was six packages of Ramen noodles).
Obi-Wan bounced back gamely, extricated himself from the rubble, and followed Maul, picking up the abandoned pizza box between a finicky thumb and forefinger. "Dark Lord Deliveries? Never tried them. Oh, man. Looks like a total loss."
Maul gazed forlornly at the smoking corpse of the only real food he'd had in days, purchased with spare credits that he'd scrounged from between the couch cushions. He'd paid large for this pizza--getting into that couch was a definite health risk. He was going to have to take Qui-Gon's suggestion and work on mental domination after all, if only to get the pizza boy to leave the next one without demanding a tip.
"Make coffee," he spat at the young Padawan. "I'm in the middle of my second chapter and I've got writer's block. When you're done, start reading." He gestured through the door into the den, which he'd converted to his working room. Obi-Wan looked into the area and gulped at the towering stacks of books, some teetering. "Bookmark everything you find about the Dark Side," Maul sneered, and went back to slump in front of the glowing computer screen, crunching on the charred pizza.
(A WEEK LATER)
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" Lord Sidious had tried to ring the bell but Maul had disconnected it. He'd almost stumbled over the forlorn, shaking wreck huddling crouched amidst a pile of books and crumpled papers that had overflowed into the living room.
"I'm Master Maul's research assistant," Obi-Wan whimpered, scuttling aside. He was badly in need of a shave, his Padawan braid had frayed and hung loose at his neck, and he bore scratches on his forearms, gained while wrestling Maul for the last cup of coffee. He'd been soundly beaten, the coffee had been taken from him, and he'd been forced to begin using the honorary title 'Master Maul.' Sidious nodded with approval. Darth Maul had reduced the boyish Padawan to a whimpering wreck; clearly his work was going well. Sidious entered the den, cautiously edging between ten-foot stacks of books and being forced to jump between small cleared spots on the floor.
"How goes your writing, my young apprentice?"
"I'm almost through with the second chapter," Maul turned entirely-red eyes on his Master and blinked blearily. "I think I'm close to conclusively proving that any manipulation of the Force is inherently beneficial to the Dark Side."
"Good. Good!" Sidious chuckled, bending to read the screen. "Hmmm. There seems to be an error in your calculations."
"Right there. See the chi square? It's invalid to use that kind of equation with figures obtained in a non-random survey." He pointed a long finger.
A long pause ensued as Maul examined the data his Master had indicated. "OBI-WAN!!!" When the Padawan appeared in the door, Maul tackled him.
"Yesss. Yes! Feel the hatred flow through you!" Sidious cackled as Maul kicked his assistant around the room. "Use the Dark Side to strike him down with all of your anger!"
(A WEEK LATER)
Obi-Wan hadn't slept for days. Sitting at Maul's side obediently, he was providing quotations, acting as a thesaurus, and working fiendishly difficult mathematical calculations. He had read every book in the apartment, pressed Maul's robes, spent his last nickel on carry-out Rodian shish-ke-bab and a double espresso for Maul's breakfast, and run data sets while Maul went pub-crawling through the fleshpots when the strain of all the mental effort had just proven too great. Now here they were, driving hectically toward the completion of Maul's magnum opus on the Dark Side, with forty minutes to go till the defense, and counting.
"I really think 'crushing' is a better word to use there," Obi-Wan observed critically, and he knew--Maul had used that particular tactic on his will several times. Maul grunted and made the substitution. Sidious loomed over their shoulders, rubbing his hands with glee. "Yes. You shall graduate, my young apprentice!"
Growling with triumph, Maul typed in his final paragraph, hit save, and clicked the print icon.
"I want you to come to my defense, Obi-Wan," he leaned back in his chair and stretched. "I think I'll need you there, too."
(TWO HOURS LATER)
"... And that is why all Jedi everywhere must turn to the Dark Side and bow down before me!" Maul finished, his voice a climactic bellow.
"You're insane!" Qui-Gon Jinn spat, and the assembled council nodded. "Obi-Wan, come away from those dark Jedi at once!"
"Nope!" Obi-Wan simpered a little, sidling closer to Maul. "I think he's right. I researched and proofread it very carefully. Darth Maul's right on this one, guys."
"Very good, my young apprentice!" Maul leered with triumph.
Yoda raised his head, studying them with disapproval. "Only two can there be," he reminded. "A master and an apprentice!"
Maul and Obi-Wan pivoted in tandem, eyes narrowing and hands moving to lightsabers, two minds of but a single thought, their eyes finding a single focus.
"Oh, shit!" Lord Sidious picked up the skirt of his robes and fled for his life.
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