Darth Maul and the Never-Ending Staff Meeting
by the Plaid Adder
[Read The Plaid Adder's author bio]
George Lucas owns most of these people. The Sith Academy is the brainchild of Siubhan. Ophidia belongs to me, but she'll freelance if the money's right. Thanks to Joan and Siubhan for the beta, and to Katherine for the background on Elspeth.
Maul's mailbox was very angry with him. He could tell by the way it was growling.
"When was the last time you picked up your mail, anyhow?"
Obi-Wan looked over Maul's shoulder, hovering in trepidation. Something inside the box had grabbed onto the key Maul had inserted, and was refusing to give it back. Sounds of banging, and of hissing, and of the creation of metal shavings echoed up and down the ground-floor entranceway of the Coruscant Arms.
"I do not understand," Maul answered. "Unless someone has been mailing me pizza, I fail to see how my neglected letters could generate life forms that have passed the invertebrate stage."
Maul reflected that perhaps Sidious had been mailing him pizza on purpose. Or perhaps he had decided to eliminate that step and just mail him live Zadrellian spike lizards.
"Maybe you'd better come back with a weapon," Obi-Wan suggested, as large convex dents began to appear in the mailbox's flimsy metal door.
"I shall bend it to my will," Maul growled.
"Suit yourself," Obi-Wan said, withdrawing to a respectful distance.
A few yards down the hall, there was a different clang as the door of another mailbox swung back against the wall. Maul turned, envious of those for whom simple, mundane tasks like the collection of mail remained simple, mundane tasks, rather than elaborate and nightmarish scenarios of rage, hatred, and humiliation.
"Hey," said the heavy-set, red-haired woman who was already in the act of walking away.
"Hey," Maul answered, waving briefly before returning to stare down the mailbox.
"Who was that?" Obi-Wan asked, as Maul pondered the best approach.
"That was Ophidia from 12A," Maul answered, as he pried one of the hinges loose with the Force.
"Ophidia?" Obi-Wan repeated, blankly.
"One of the Mary Sues," Maul answered, only able to repress a shudder because of his satisfaction at seeing the second hinge pop off.
One short scene of unimaginable carnage later, Maul picked bundles of folded, spindled, mutilated mail carefully out of the smoking heap that was all that remained of what might have become, left to its own devices, a race of highly efficient carnivores. Obi-Wan, unwilling to probe Maul on the subject of whether his destruction of these creatures had been entirely ethically justifiable, merely observed, "I thought the Mary Sues had all moved out after that fire."
Maul glanced up the stairwell, suspiciously. "So they had."
Obi-Wan opened his own mailbox, which submitted to him with nary a growl. He discarded a large pile of inserts, leaflets, and Palpatine Sweepstakes promotions. Maul heard him tear into an envelope, then cry out in alarm.
"Maul!" Obi-Wan shouted. "Did you get one of these?"
Maul had, in fact, just disentangled a battered and bruised envelope that looked much like the one Obi-Wan was brandishing. He opened it.
"Dear Sith Academy Employee,
Your presence is requested at a mandatory staff meeting which will take place at 4:45 p.m. this Friday afternoon. Attendance will be taken.
- Brainstorming new story ideas.
- Retrenchment of production budget secondary to revocation of federal funding.
- Timetable for downstriking.
- Yoda: Underutilized?
- Installation of tuna bowls at all SA shooting locations.
- The feline mind whammy, and how to defeat it.
- Explanation of why unionization of SA employees would be a grave mistake that would lead to lower wages, worse working conditions, and bloodshed.
Failure to attend will result in suspension followed by possible termination.
Sith Academy Management."
"AOB?" Maul repeated vacantly. "What's an aob?"
"More to the point, what the fuck is the Sith Academy?" Obi-Wan spluttered. "And why do these spamming morons think I work for it?"
Maul looked up the stairs at the space into which Ophidia's receding form had disappeared.
He had a bad feeling about this.
By 4:44 p.m. that Friday, Maul had forgotten all about his battle with the mailbox. He was completely absorbed in a happy contemplation of the many diverse uses to which the humble spatula could be put.
At 4:45 p.m., he suddenly discovered that he was standing buck-naked in the middle of a large square room which was almost entirely taken up by a massive conference table. Obi-Wan stood near him, equally naked except for the spatula.
"Oh, PLEASE!" came a horrified groan from one of the many, many people seated around the table. "Do I need to see that?"
Maul's brain briefly registered the information that the complaint had proceeded from the northwest corner of the table, where Ophidia from 12A was strenuously averting her eyes.
"Speak for yourself, darling," said a much older woman seated across from her. "Come on down to my place, honey, and let me appreciate you properly."
Maul wondered what the hell Elspeth was doing there, and what horrifying implement she was rummaging for in that purse of hers, until the sound of another voice informed him that he had worse problems.
"Very unprofessional you are, young Sith," said a tuft of white hair and a pair of pointy green ears that were just barely visible above the surface of the table. "Proper business attire, you have not worn. Spankings in this situation, company policy it is to administer."
"Take a number, you little green pervert," said yet another voice.
Maul realized it was coming from the head of the table, where was seated a tall, pale woman with short dark hair who he thought he could dimly, vaguely, uncertainly recall having met somewhere before. "If anyone goes spanking naked Mauls around here it's gonna be me. Here." She tossed something at him, and Maul was suddenly struck about the face by what turned out to be a pair of black spandex briefs. "Put these on or we'll never get them to pay attention to anything else. You too, Obi-Wan."
"Dude," said Mace Windu, as Obi-Wan began struggling frantically into his padawan robes. "This dress code is a real downer, man. If they wanna attend meetings Jabba-style, I say let 'em."
"Mace Windu is correct, my young padawan," said Qui-Gon, serenely. "Clothe your mind in the Force, and you will feel no need for external garments."
Obi-Wan belted his robe firmly about his waist and sat down. Maul pulled out the chair next to him. He wasn't entirely sure where he was, but he realized that it would be bad to disobey the woman at the head of the table. She was now taking attendance, noting on a memo pad the presence of Qui-Gon, Yoda, Mace Windu, a smirking Senator Palpatine next to a disgruntled Dartha Stewart, an even more disgruntled Darth Mary Sue, and Ben-Wa, who was stroking My Apprentice as she paced back and forth along the back of one of the chairs. Maul dimly remembered something about Ben-Wa and reprogramming, but from the vacant look in his eyes it was clear that whoever was in charge of this process hadn't yet finished uploading the new code. Even Jon-Tra Vol-Ta was there, scratching his furry back and glancing around in apprehension at the others.
"All present and accounted for," said the woman at the head of the table. "Oh wait, except for--"
The door opened, and Cyn bounded in like a large, excited puppy. "Hi everyone! Sorry I'm late! What'd I miss?"
"Nothing," Ophidia said as Cyn pulled out a chair. "Except Maul and Obi-Wan showing up naked."
Cyn let out a howl of disappointment that caused Yoda's ears to vibrate in extreme distress.
"See what is happening, I cannot," Yoda complained. "The Coruscant Telephone Directory, I must have."
Mace Windu dragged several large volumes off a nearby bookshelf and began stacking them under Yoda. The woman at the other end stood up.
"All right," she said. "Welcome to the Metaverse Convention Facility. My name is Siubhan, and I own all of your miserable hides. I called this meeting to address some issues pertaining to performance and quality control. So stop fantasizing about Maul's tattooed ass and start paying attention."
Maul was very surprised to see that everyone appeared to at least be making an effort to comply--even Cyn, who seemed to fear Siubhan even more than Qui-Gon did.
"First item on the agenda: new story ideas. Start brainstorming."
What surprised Maul even more was that he now somehow understood both who this woman was and what she was talking about. Marveling at this, he was unable to get his hand into the air before Sidious did.
"I question the need to have this meeting at all," he said. "I believe that the invention of new ways to hone Maul's rage and hatred can be safely entrusted to myself alone."
"I don't," Maul responded swiftly. "In fact, I think that my rage and hatred are already sufficiently honed. I move we proceed directly to item #3, 'Timetable for Downstriking.'"
"Seconded," said Darth Mary Sue immediately.
"Excuse me," said Siubhan. "This meeting is being run according to Siubhan's Rules of Order. That means nobody can make motions or second them but me. So. Story ideas."
Qui-Gon's hand was in the air. "But we cannot propose a solution until we have delved deeper into the causes of the problem," he said. "I suggest we form a committee to study the--"
"No," barked Ophidia. "No fucking committees."
"The cause of the problem is obvious," growled Maul. "The story arc has not been allowed to progress naturally. I cannot hone my rage forever. Until I am finally allowed to strike down my master--"
"My apprentice is correct," cut in Sidious. "The cause of the problem is obvious. His constant rutting with that Jedi brat takes the edge off his rage and hatred faster than I can hone it. If Obi-Wan were to die in some spectacularly horrible accident, preferably one which I had engineered--"
"Hey!" Obi-Wan shouted.
"Or if, for instance, a rapprochement between Obi-Wan and his master could be effected..." Sidious went on, glancing at Qui-Gon with a smile and a touch of whammy.
"I agree with Senator Palpatine," Qui-Gon said, smiling beatifically at his apprentice. "As soon as my young padawan began sharing midichlorians with his neighbor, I sensed a great disturbance in the Force. We must bring balance to it by learning once again to make love like crazed Jedi weasels."
"My ass!" shouted Obi-Wan.
Qui-Gon sighed wistfully.
Now Mace Windu was lumbering out of his fog and into the discussion. "You know, I've been thinking about it, man, and what we really need is for Obi-Wan to start, you know, boffing the light side again. It'd, like, bring balance to the Force, and shit."
The smug grin on his face as he sat back suggested that somehow he was under the impression that this had been an original thought.
"I think you're all being really mean to Obi-Wan," said Cyn. "Of course he should be boffing Maul. Maul is the coolest. Why would he be boffing anyone else when he could be boffing Maul?"
"Thank you," Obi-Wan said, through teeth that were only slightly clenched.
"Well, Cyn," said Siubhan, "have you got any better ideas?"
"As a matter of fact," Cyn said, "I think more people should be boffing Maul. Specifically, he should spend more time boffing the original female characters--"
"Amen, sister!" shouted Elspeth from her corner, fanning herself with one hand while the other seemed to be groping mysteriously about near Ben-Wa's buttocks.
"Excuse me," Siubhan interrupted. "I believe I was asking for better ideas."
As Cyn scowled in Siubhan's direction, Dartha Stewart raised her hand.
"Yes?" Siubhan said, with an expression of mingled curiosity and dread.
"I have some ideas," Dartha said. "As a matter of fact, I've been working on them since we got your memo. I constructed a special file folder just for the occasion, out of recycled matchboxes and glitter..."
She reached into a voluminous canvas tote bag and extracted an enormous, shiny object. It fell onto the table with a loud thunk, scattering glitter all over the ten people seated closest to her. My Apprentice glared at her, her fur bristling with bits of glue and gold sparkle.
Maul gaped. This was documentation that had to be measured in tonnage, not pages. No wonder she'd had to build the folder specially. He wondered if she had also taken the precaution of reinforcing it with steel rods.
"Here are all the suggestions I came up with. I hope you won't mind if I read them all out to you word for word in excruciating detail, one right after the other, without pausing for commentary or input."
Maul opened his mouth, but she had already grabbed a fistful of papers, and was off.
"First of all, this universe needs a complete design overhaul. This place is just nothing but one eyesore after another. If it's not Maul's filthy apartment, it's Sid's ghastly taffeta. Darling, hasn't anyone ever told you it makes you look like a dead circus clown?"
"You have," Sidious glared. "Often."
"And Mary Sue...well. I won't say anything. If she can't figure out that breastplates went out with Lursa and B'Etor, it's not for her poor mother to point it out to her..."
"Mother, will you SIT DOWN," Darth Mary Sue groaned.
"I've sketched out a makeover based on a holistic design concept that can be accomplished with simple materials you can find around the house. Here's a copy for each of you."
Dartha began sliding fat, velo-bound tomes across the table to all the other participants. Obi-Wan's struck him in the chest, causing him to yelp in pain. Maul tried to make his perish in flames, but it was too quick for him, and leapt into his lap only slightly singed.
Through the clear acetate cover he could see the words "COLOR ME SITHLY."
"Now each person's visual palette will be determined by a combination of skin tone, cultural background, and access to major retail outlets..." Dartha chattered on.
Maul looked down at the document in his lap. He could hear it laughing at him.
Maul glanced at Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan had just pulled a plastic bottle out of the sleeve of his robe and was struggling with the cap.
What the hell is that? Maul demanded.
Obi-Wan got the cap off and emptied the pills inside it into one hand, tossing them all into his mouth.
Oh no, Maul went on, as Obi-Wan pounded one of the plastic cups of water that had been put down on the table. Not Perkium.
Wouldn't you? Obi-Wan snapped, shoving the bottle back into his robe.
He would have. Oh yes, he would have. If only the twit hadn't hogged the whole bottle.
"...and of course once we've taken care of interior design we'll need to move on to hair and makeup. Mary Sue, stand up and let me show everyone what I mean when I say 'cosmetic emergency'."
"Mother, if I stand up, it'll only be so I can strike you down."
Maul roused himself from his coma to see an enraged Darth Mary Sue snarling at her mother from close range. She had been snarling for quite some time now. Maul knew how she felt. They had been at this for over an hour. "Color Me Sithly" had bitten him three times and was now scattered in chunks along the floor. Qui-Gon appeared to have fallen asleep. Mace Windu was trying to roll a joint in his lap under the table. How he was planning to smoke it under the table, Maul did not want to know. Dartha was only about halfway through the stack of paper piled in front of her. And they were still on the first item on the agenda.
"Even you must be sick of the sound of your own voice by now, and God knows everyone else is," Darth Mary Sue continued.
"Hey, now wait a minute, sis," chirped Obi-Wan. "Mom's just trying to help solve our problem, and if we want this to be a healthy and productive dialogue--"
"She's not helping," cut in Darth Mary Sue. "She's a menace. This isn't dialogue, it's sadism. And not even healthy and productive sadism. I move she doesn't get to speak for the rest of the entire meeting, or, indeed, ever again."
"So moved," said Siubhan. "Dartha, shut up and sit down. Ben-Wa, stop grooming My Apprentice."
Ben-Wa glanced vacantly up at Siubhan, his tongue coated with glittery white fur.
Darth Mary Sue whacked him upside the head, breaking for a moment the grip of the feline mind whammy. Ben-Wa began trying to hack up something that sounded a lot like a furball. Maul shuddered.
"This isn't fair," Dartha was complaining. "Just because I'm the only one who came prepared--"
"Not true, sweetheart," Elspeth interrupted. "I always come prepared."
Maul shrank from her lascivious gaze.
"I agree with Dartha," said Sidious. "I'm not at all comfortable with the way this meeting is being moderated. I call for a vote of no confidence in the chair."
"Bite me," Siubhan responded. "No, don't. Look, the sole and only useful suggestion that anyone has made during the past seventy-five minutes is that we try to figure out what's causing the decline in new story submissions. So what is causing it?"
Maul raised his hand, once again.
"Maul?" said Siubhan, wearily.
"I believe," he said, doggedly, "that if I were allowed to strike down my master--"
Everyone at the table joined the collective howl of pain. Except for Obi-Wan. That Perkium grin had now plastered itself permanently across his face, and although Maul could not hear what he was saying over the surge of rage and hatred that had engulfed the room, he thought he could see Obi-Wan's lips forming the words "gee," "neighbor," and "swell."
Ophidia was the first to articulate her rage. "Maul, Siubhan has summarily shot down that idea on each of the 56 separate occasions on which you have proposed it. What makes you think 57 is the charm?"
"Gee, Ophidia, aren't you being a little harsh?" Obi-Wan warbled. "I think it's a great idea, and if we maybe could form a committee--"
"AUGH!" Ophidia howled. Jon-Tra chimed in mournfully from his corner.
"I said no," Siubhan cut in. "On top of everything else, the SPEB has sworn to go on hunger strike if I touch the bastard. It's not worth the hassle."
Sidious sat back in his chair with a smile that made him all the more ripe for downstriking.
"Demands, my estrogen brigade has also made," Yoda nattered, bouncing happily in his chair. "Petition I have here from the YEB. More of my naked manly body, they wish to see--"
"Yes, I suppose so," Sidious observed acidly. "However, since my estrogen brigade is composed of actual people, as opposed to my own self-deluded imagination--"
"Real, my estrogen brigade is!" Yoda shouted. "Sex with many of them, I have had!"
Ophidia slumped forward and buried her head in her arms, emitting a feeble groan that sounded something like "my eyes."
"Come come, my friends," said Qui-Gon. "We must put aside our differences."
Qui-Gon was looking much more alert now that one of his feet had slipped out of its sandal and into the folds of Obi-Wan's robes. Which might account as much as the Perkium for the simper currently distorting Obi-Wan's face.
"If we clear our minds and center ourselves on the Force we can reach a compromise that will be equally unacceptable to all parties. We agree, after all, that what our universe really needs is--"
"Spankings!" shouted Yoda.
"Actually--" Qui-Gon said, rather taken aback.
"Agree with Qui-Gon I do, yes," Yoda spluttered, almost literally beside himself. "Spankings we must institute, regularly, for all characters. All male characters, spanked will be, that is. All male characters, who possessed of tight buns are. Administered by me, these spankings will be. Team leader of the Ad Hoc Spankings Task Force, I nominate myself."
"Hey," said Mace. "I bet spankings would do it, man. We could have, like, theme spankings. The first week it'd be, like, 'Tom Spanks stars in Forrest Rump'--"
"Oh I don't think so," interrupted Darth Mary Sue. "We all know whose ass they're really after, and I'm not gonna just stand by and watch my poor brother's ass get spanked right off him. Seeing as it's such a fine ass."
"Thanks, sis!" Obi-Wan chirped. "You wanna spank me? Go ahead, I don't mind, seeing as you're family--"
"Mary Sue!" Dartha shouted. "Leave your brother's ass alone!"
"I wasn't going to touch it," Darth Mary Sue sneered. "That's more Ben-Wa's style, isn't it, Ben-Wa?"
"Huh?" said Ben-Wa, looking up from the table.
"Ben-Wa?" Darth Mary Sue repeated, waving her hand in front of his glazed eyes. "Ben-Wa, speak to me."
"Isn't it time for a tuna break?" said Ben-Wa.
Darth Mary Sue whacked him again. My Apprentice curled her tail over her paws, and bent her glowing eyes on Siubhan.
Siubhan wavered for an instant, then threw off the feline whammy with an impatient wave of her hand. "Nice try. Ophidia, is your brain still online?"
"Maybe," Ophidia muttered, from the heap in which she was slumped.
"You have any bright ideas?"
"Look," she said, raising her eyes wearily. "I just think it's gotten too complicated. Who can keep track of all of this? I mean, for crying out loud, Ben-Wa--what the hell is he about? And Jon-Tra's amazing magically maturing part-Wookiee offspring is wandering around somewhere out there, right?...and I don't even know who the fuck she is, other than a sign of the Apocalypse," she went on, gesturing at an offended Elspeth.
"Darling, if you don't know me, you haven't been paying attention," Elspeth retorted. "I'm Qui-Gon's mother, for one thing--"
"Sure, whatever," Ophidia sighed. "And I'm sure you're fascinatingly perverse, and all that...but I mean really. If we could maybe clear out some of the extraneous stuff--"
"Extraneous?" Elspeth shrieked. "I'll tell you who's extraneous, is you Mary Sues. All you little brats should be exterminated, like roaches--"
"Yes! Yes, absolutely!" Ophidia cried, rising from her chair and waving a hand eagerly in the air. "Vote me off! Right now! I triple-dog dare you!"
"That's it!" Darth Mary Sue shouted.
Ophidia looked at her hopefully. But Darth Mary Sue's mind had gone in a much different direction.
"That's it! That's it, that's exactly what we need. Each week we have one of these meetings and we vote for a different character to be killed off, and then we get someone to write a story that'll do it. And the last one left gets to be the new Sith Lord."
"I'm game," Maul said, with a menacing growl.
"Now wait a minute," said Sidious, nervously. "I think it would be much more effective if we simply put our minds to coming up with new ways to hone my apprentice's--"
"Oh for crying out loud, Sid," Dartha snapped. "Just learn to do your own damn laundry!"
"What I think," Qui-Gon interrupted, "is that we need to just turn back the timeline to the point where Obi-Wan and I were still making beautiful Force-driven monkey love--"
"That's a great idea!" Obi-Wan bounced into the fray. "And we could bring back Mr. Fluffy too--"
"NO BRINGING HAMSTERS BACK FROM THE DEAD!" Siubhan roared.
"No, no, no," squealed Cyn. "He needs to spend more time hanging out in my apartment listening to alternative rock, and--"
"--getting spanked!" Yoda screeched, trembling in excitement. "Spankings, spankings, spankings must we--"
It was unclear exactly who started with the purple lightning. Maul could see Darth Mary Sue dealing it out with both fists, as well as Sidious and even, at least in his fevered imagination, Dartha Stewart. Ophidia had crawled under the table, where Elspeth had found her, and was whacking at her with that purse of hers. Jon-Tra was howling morosely and scratching his furry arms as tufts of Yoda's white fuzz flew thickly about in the fray.
"Gee," said Obi-Wan. "We better do something, someone could get hurt."
Obi-Wan fired up his lightsaber and leapt into the melee. Maul sat back to await results.
"AAAGH!" Sidious's scream was barely audible above the sound of sizzling.
Suddenly everyone had jumped back from the table.
"Gosh, Pop," said Obi-Wan, contritely and yet cheerfully at the same time. "I sure am sorry about that."
Maul stared in shock. Sidious's upper half lay on top of the conference table, neatly severed. His bottom half was stumbling about among the chairs, bumping into things.
"You struck him down!" Maul roared. "You struck down my fucking master! You--you--you--you spiky-headed Perkium-fried light-side-blowing TWIT!"
"Don't be sore at me, neighbor," bleated Obi-Wan, his large eyes filling with tears. "It was an accident."
" I'm the one supposed to strike him down!" Maul howled. "I've been waiting to do this my whole fucking life and now you just come along without a single shred of rage or hatred or even mild annoyance, and--"
"I am not struck down," Sidious seethed. "I will be fine. This kind of injury is not fatal to a Sith."
Maul was dismayed to learn that Sidious shared his ability to survive bisection. He wondered if trisection would be any more fatal to him.
Sidious's upper half struggled to recover his dignity. "Fetch me my nether regions, my apprentice."
Maul's nose wrinkled in disgust. "I would not touch your nether regions if they were batter-fried, my master."
"Mmmm," drooled Ben-Wa. "Batter-fried."
"All right, that's it!" shouted Siubhan. "I'm invoking Siubhan's Rule of Order #526."
"Which is what?" inquired a disheveled Ophidia, emerging from under the table clutching a swath of torn leopard-skin fabric and a battered clutch purse.
"Once we're talking about cannibalism, a meeting's over," she said.
Suddenly everything went dark. Just before Maul blacked out, he heard a voice saying, "I'll be sure to take all of your valuable suggestions under consideration."
"Maul, get your face out of my robe and listen to me."
Maul blinked up into the light at Obi-Wan's irritated expression. He wasn't sure exactly what had happened before he lost consciousness, but he hoped that the universe held no hangover in store for him that could ever be worse than the one he was currently experiencing.
"Do you know where the spatula is? Because I can't find it."
Maul shook his head. "Do not worry," he muttered, trying to go back to sleep. "It will turn up."
"That's what I'm afraid of." Obi-Wan cradled his head in his hands. "Do you remember what we were drinking last night? Because I want to avoid it for the rest of my life."
To their shared and extreme annoyance, they heard Obi-Wan's personal communicator bleating in the living room.
"I'll get it."
As Obi-Wan trudged out to the living room, Maul flipped over on his back. What the hell had they been drinking? There was the mailbox...then there was the spatula...and then...
"What is it?" he grunted, as Obi-Wan returned.
"Dunno," Obi-Wan said. "Got a voice mail from Qui-Gon. Wants to know if I've seen Jon-Tra lately. Says he can't get in touch with him."
"Well," yawned Maul. "That'd be a first."
Obi-Wan laughed, and collapsed on top of him. "I'm sure he's all right."
Maul was not quite sure, himself. But he didn't know why. And really, he didn't care. The only thing he wished he could remember about the previous evening was where the hell he had left the spatula.
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