Life Lessons at the Sith Academy, Final Part
[Read Siubhan's author bio]
This story is told solely from Maul's point of view, with one short exception at the end. It would have just been too damned daunting to write both Obi and Maul's POVs from the movie, so I didn't. I also slavishly followed the dialog from the movie, with the exception of one small scene where I couldn't resist. Therefore, the resulting story ends up being pretty serious by the end and probably requires a hell of a lot of suspension of disbelief. What I didn't do was use much from the Interactive Menace. It's a thing of beauty that should stand on its own merits, not be plagiarized by a hack with writer's block.
Credit where credit is due: Melissa and Plaidder were invaluable for their beta assistance, and they, plus Joan the English Chick, helped with the brainstorming. Rose also helped give the final thumbs up. Thanks to all of you!
I want to send thanks out to everyone who has ever contributed to the Sith Academy over these past two years, and to everyone who's sent feedback to the contributors. You've helped create a wonderful community. Thank you so much. I'd start naming people by name, but I'd invariably leave folks out, and that's no good. But I do need to give special thanks to one person: The Intrepid Condo-Owning Melissa (TM). She's been here since day one, helping me brainstorm, giving me feedback, and helping craft the overall direction of the Academy. Thank you so much for all of that. I really appreciate it. A lion's share of the credit for this Web site really must go to her.
"That's it! That's the final straw!" Darth Sidious frothed as he burst unannounced into Maul's apartment.
Maul looked up from the television (Celebrity Deathmatch: Snake Pliskin vs. Morpheus) and his eyes widened when he saw his master's face. He looked deadly serious, and he was wearing his Sith robes in public. Not good. "What happened, Master?"
"That little green runt has gone too far!" Sidious waved his hand at the television, and the channel changed to NNN.
"Hello, this is NNN, Ahn-Dreah Tommsun reporting. As we told you last week, the Jedi Council has been very publicly cleaning up its act in the past week, following allegations that Master Yoda himself abducted a sentient being to be his sex slave."
The screen showed a picture of a sobbing Qui-Gon tossing his bong collection into a bonfire as Mace put a comforting hand on his shoulder and Yoda watched smugly from the sidelines. Maul grinned an evil, toothy grin. "I already knew this, Master. It pleases me greatly."
Sidious smacked Maul on the back of the head and said, "Keep watching!"
Ahn-Dreah continued, "Now that Master Yoda has made the Jedi more 'family-friendly,' he has teamed up with Mayor Roo-Dee J'lia'ni to do the same for Coruscant!"
The screen showed Yoda and the mayor nailing a large "Closed" sign across the doors of the Gray Side.
Maul felt his black heart constrict. "No more Gray Side?"
"No more Gray Side, no more Divine Oscillations, no more biker bars, no more drag shows..." Sidious was turning purple with rage, and Maul wondered if the heart attack he'd so carefully been crafting would finally materialize. "That's it, Maul," he snapped. "We're going to reveal ourselves to the Jedi."
"Yes!" Maul leapt off the sofa and pumped his fist triumphantly.
"Go put on your best robes. I want you to meet some colleagues of mine from the Trade Federation. They're running a blockade for me. And not a word of this to anyone, especially my son!"
"He's on some inane mission with his master," Maul said offhandedly as he headed to his bedroom to haul his clean robes out of his steamer trunk. That was the only way he could keep cat hair off of them, although the scratches covering the trunk showed that My Apprentice was working her hardest to dig through and fix that. "You should see how cranky Qui-Gon is now that's he's sober," he said as he put on the layers and layers of black that comprised his official Sithwear.
"Are you dressed yet?"
"Almost." Maul walked back into the living room, pulling up his hood. My Apprentice immediately ran out and put a thick coating of white fur around the hem of his cloak.
Sidious clucked his tongue, then said, "Well, we'll just shoot you from the waist up."
"Now Maul, I cannot stress how important it is that this go off perfectly."
"I know, I know."
Sidious smacked Maul on the back of the head. "Clearly you don't! We're revealing ourselves. Sith haven't done this for thousands of years. So we've only got one chance to do it right. No do-overs if you screw something up."
"If I screw something up?!?"
Sidious smacked him again. "Yes, you Maul. You've screwed everything else you've ever done up, but not this, do you hear me?"
Maul grumbled his assent.
"Not good enough! From now on, whenever we're in public, you are to appear deferential to me at all times. Now, let's try it again."
Maul rolled his eyes, then said, "Yes, my master."
"So what the fuck is this all about anyway?" Maul asked.
"The blockade. What are you blockading?"
"Oh, that. Makeup."
Maul shook his head, wondering if something was rattling around in there. His master couldn't have just said what he'd thought he'd said. "Makeup?"
"Yes, makeup. That bitch of a queen is undercutting my profits with her low-priced 'Naboo Hullabaloo' kabuki crap!"
That sounded strangely familiar. "You mean the people who make the black nailpolish that Obi-Wan wears?"
"That's exactly the problem!" Sidious frothed. "No one's buying my 'Fit for a Queen' line of products anymore because hers is so much cheaper! I used to be able to count on a steady stream of revenue from the drag and fetishist community, but now they've embraced her line of young and trendy makeup and left mine in the dust."
The gears ground in Maul's head. "And it's drying up a major source of campaign funding, right?"
"Very good, Maul." Sidious wiped the spittle from the corners of his mouth, then said, "Right, on to business. I'm about to introduce you to the lily-livered Trade Federation. Stick with the basics. When I introduce you, I want you to step into the holoprojector's range using Dramatic Entrance #1."
"#1? Why not #3, or #8?"
"If you pull off #1 without tripping over your robe, we'll see about those other ones. And remember, rev up that Glare of yours."
"And for Sith's sake, keep your mouth shut! The less you talk, the better."
Maul opened his mouth to protest, but the crackling purple lightning in Sidious's eyes made Maul's throat close up. "Yes, Master," he finally choked out.
He stood back and tried not to tune out as Sidious opened up the holoconnection and started yammering on about his crazy blockade to a bunch of bulgy-eyed morons with weird hats and speech impediments.
"And Queen Amidala...has she signed the treaty?" Sidious asked.
Queen? Maul remembered Obi-Wan saying something about a queen. Nah. It couldn't be. The Jedi Council knew better than to send Qui-Gon out to do anything that required diplomacy or functioning brain cells. Obi probably meant drag queen or something. That was more his aging hippie master's speed.
"She has disappeahed, my lohd. One Naboo cruisah got pahst the blockahd."
Sidious hissed. "I want that treaty signed."
"My lohd, it's imposseeble to locaht the ship. It's out of owah range."
"Not for a Sith," Sidious said, and Maul knew that was his cue. He stalked into range of the holoprojector using Dramatic Entrance #1 (arms crossed over chest, Glare revved to medium) and noted with satisfaction that the Trade Federation idiots were nearly wetting their pants with fear. Hell, they might have actually been wetting their pants, but luckily the holoprojector didn't transmit smells.
"This is my apprentice, Darth Maul. He will find your lost ship."
And with that, Sidious cut the transmission off.
"Those idiots!" Sidious frothed. "They have a freaking armada of ships out there, and they let one cruiser get through. Well Maul, it appears that there are bigger idiots than you out in this galaxy."
"What?!? I am not an idiot!"
"Oh really, Maul? If you're so smart, then why haven't you successfully risen up and stricken me down yet?"
"That's 'struck,' Master."
"No, you moron, it's 'stricken.'"
"'Stricken' is the past participle of 'strike.' You use the past participle to express completed action. Since I have yet to strike you down, that verb form is inappropriate." Ha! Maul thought. Moron my ass!
Sidious stood up and jabbed his crackling finger at Maul. "I don't care how well you can argue grammar, you're still a mental midget. Here we are, revealing ourselves, and I'm stuck with you as my apprentice. You, who ruin every assignment I give you. But not this time. You are going to find that ship, Maul. I don't care how, but you're going to bring all your limited mental powers to bear to find it, and then you're going to go hunt down that damned queen and bring her back and make her sign that treaty." Sidious tossed a data crystal at Maul, then turned on his Cuban heel and stalked out.
"Fuck you too," Maul grumbled under his breath as he headed out to the garage to get his hoverbike and head back to his apartment.
Right, how to find a pack of hiding Jedi?
Maul slumped in front of his computer, half a pint of Chubby Hubby in his belly and the other half sitting next to his monitor waiting to join it. What little data the Trade Federation had been able to gather on the queen's escape was currently displayed on the screen. The ship was a Nubian, and it had been hit several times, so it probably wouldn't have gotten very far after leaving Naboo. He punched up a star map, noted all the planets within range and decided to target them first.
Okay, the queen was only fifteen, so maybe sending a faked message from home would catch her attention. Teenaged girls were big softies, after all. Maul fired up Sims, surfed the net until he found a Sio Bibble skin, then composed a sob story message to go along with it. But that probably wouldn't be enough. She was probably surrounded with competent advisors who would advise caution. He'd need something more.
An evil grin curled up the corners of Maul's mouth as he typed, "Urgent Message from Jedi Council: Master Yoda has changed his mind about cleaning up the Jedi. Click here to read more."
Maul sent the first message to the Trade Federation on Naboo to have them transmit it to all the nearby planets, and then hacked into the Jedi Temple mainframe to transmit the second message himself. Then he waited.
Two minutes, forty-one seconds later, he got a ping on the second message. Tatooine. He cackled in unholy glee.
My Apprentice looked over at him from the top of her perch, eyes wide. She'd never felt him being this competent before, and she wasn't sure she liked it.
"Tatooine is sparsely populated. If the trace was correct I will find them quickly, Master." Maul was really getting into this official Sith shit. He could get to like this revealing thing. Finally, a true test of his talents that didn't require rage-honing! He'd been waiting for this as long as he could remember
"Move against the Jedi first. And not the way you normally do, Maul," Sidious replied.
Undaunted, Maul continued, "At last we shall reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge."
"Right, and don't go revealing yourself to the Jedi the way you normally do either, Maul."
"Just the one, Master," Maul grumbled. "Besides, what are the odds that it'll be him?"
One day later, Maul stood on Tatooine, glaring at a probe droid as it showed him the reconnaissance footage it had taken. Never ask yourself "what are the odds?" he thought as he stalked over to get on his scooterbike.
My Apprentice looked up from her nap in the shade of the Sith Infiltrator. Wonder if he knows about that cliff? she thought as he zoomed off.
Fucking Jedi Council. Why the fuck did they have to send Obi-Wan and his fucking hippie master on this mission? Maul steamed as he sped to intercept Qui-Gon and some obnoxious Aryan brat. What the fuck was he going to do? Sidious wanted the Jedi killed. Then again, he was always going on about what an amazing lay Qui-Gon was, plus Obi-Wan was technically his son.
Maybe he'd just kill Qui-Gon. He'd been itching to do that for the past couple of years anyway. Obi-Wan would understand. "Sorry I had to kill your master, but my Sith master told me to go reveal myself to the Jedi and I figured better him than you."
Then again, maybe it was simply time to take up masturbation again. He only needed one hand to play Jedi Tomb Raider if he stuck with the older games.
Hmm. That Aryan brat felt pretty strong in the Force. He'd have to be sure to tell Sidious about him. Then again, if he did that, Sidious might just decide to write off Maul and replace him with that brat, and then were would Maul be? A brief image of Maul lying happily in Obi-Wan's arms flashed through his mind, but he shook it off. No, he'd be dead, that's what he'd be. That's the only way Sidious would get rid of him.
He patted his head to make sure the duct tape was still holding his hood securely to his horns, then zoomed in for the final assault.
Somersaulting off his speeder bike, Maul ignited his lightsaber and prepared to decapitate the hippie. But Qui-Gon actually managed to get his lightsaber out in time and deflect the blow. Maul snarled as he realized that Qui-Gon wasn't going to be the easy kill he'd hoped for. And he was strong. Very strong. Especially for someone who'd dedicated the majority of his life to getting stoned. No matter. A slow kill would be more satisfying in the long run.
"Tell them to take off," Qui-Gon barked as the scary Aryan brat ran for the ship. Shit, trust the hippie to sacrifice himself so everyone else could escape. Then again, that meant that Maul would get the kill eventually. With no interference, he'd be sure to finish Qui-Gon off. He tried blinding him with fancy footwork, but it was hard to get purchase in the sand, and besides, all those layers of black were starting to take a toll on Maul's strength. Maybe Jedi beige wasn't so stupid in the desert. Maul regrouped long enough to leap over Qui-Gon and attack from the other side, but then Obi-Wan's mindvoice rang out, asking, Maul? What the hell are you doing?
What does it look like I'm doing? I'm revealing myself, you Jedi twit!
Revealing yourself? What the hell does that mean? Have you snapped or something?
Do I have to spell it out for you? I'm a...
That was all the distraction Qui-Gon needed. He surprised Maul by jumping onto the ramp of the ship, pushing Maul onto his ass in the sand in the process.
As Maul rose from the sand, he watched through slitted eyes as the ship zoomed away. "Shit," he hissed under his breath. What was he going to tell Sidious? Unless massive brain damage had set in from his going cold turkey, Qui-Gon knew exactly who he was, and would go straight to the Jedi Council with the news. It wouldn't take a genius to make the "ward/guardian" "apprentice/master" connection.
Maul turned to get his speederbike, and groaned as he saw it lying in a wreck next to an outcropping. Peeling off three layers of black, Maul began the long, slow walk back to his ship.
"What? You allowed them to escape?!?"
Maul watched his master's hologram warily as he finished rubbing aloe vera on his sunburned skin. He was pretty damned sure that Sidious couldn't send purple lightning through a holocircuit, but he wasn't willing to bet his hide on that. "Qui-Gon was a lot better than I thought he'd be."
"He is a Jedi master, you fool! And he's a full foot taller than you."
"And he's still detoxing from every drug known to Coruscant! Besides, I wasn't sure you'd want me to kill them."
"They're Jedi, and we've revealed ourselves! Of course I want you to kill them! What kind of moron are you?"
"The kind who thinks twice before killing his master's fucking BOYFRIEND and his SON!!!" Maul roared, surging out of his chair.
Sidious's lips pursed in thought. "Well, I suppose you do have a point there. Anyhow, this is not a disaster yet. The queen is here, and I can still maneuver this to my advantage in the Senate. And quite frankly, it should be a lot of fun. It's been a long time since I had the opportunity to manipulate a head of state into doing my bidding. So I'll handle things on Coruscant. You go to Naboo and keep an eye on the Trade Federation. And remember, say as little as possible. It's less likely you'll screw things up that way."
"Yes Master," Maul grumbled. He put down the bottle of aloe as Sidious's hologram fizzled out, then reached over to the ship's controls and plotted a course to Naboo.
Why the fuck did the Neimoidians have to be so frigging tall? Maul had to keep his Glare on 24/7 to keep them from snickering down at him, and more than once, he'd had to pick sunflower seed shells off of the top of his hood. The gangly bastards kept spitting them down on him, and what with his peripheral vision shot by the hood, he never managed to catch them in the act. To keep from killing them, he contented himself with fantasies of hamstringing them. That helped keep his Glare revved up to medium. The one time he had to turn it up to medium-high, he did smell urine, which was both satisfying and rage honing all at once. Most of the high points in his life were that way, really. And they were all terrified of My Apprentice. Then again, most sane people were. He'd had to lock her in the Sith Infiltrator after the first day. She whammied them into bringing her fish, so they'd dumped an Opee Sea Killer in the hallway for her. Sidious was right. They were the galaxy's biggest idiots.
Shortly after Maul finished customizing his new digs in the palace (by ordering piles of takeout and scattering the mostly empty cartons around the room), he got a call from Sidious. "Good news!" he beamed. "I manipulated that Amidala whelp into unseating Chancellor Valorum, and have been nominated to replace him. Oh, you should have seen what she was wearing. It screamed 'Fashion Victim.'"
Pot calling kettle black, Maul thought to himself.
Sidious continued, "I swear, why anyone would wear something so bulky and heavy is beyond me, never mind those hats she wears. The girl can barely walk, never mind sashay. What good is being a queen if you can't sashay?" Sidious cackled, then said, "If all goes according to plan, I'll be chancellor by the end of the week and have the Gray Side and Divine Oscillations open again in no time! Never mind that wonderful escort service I adore so."
"So this is over?" Maul asked, desperate to shut him up.
"Oh no, Maul. For starters, I haven't been elected yet. Plus, we still need to have the queen and the Jedi eliminated."
"It will help further my goals," Sidious said vaguely.
"You want me to kill Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan?" Maul asked, not quite believing what he was hearing.
"Yes, quite definitely. I've manipulated them into returning to Naboo so you can finish the job off. All that community theater work certainly paid off! I gave the most convincing performance of my young life. 'Please your majesty, stay here where it's safe!'" Sidious chuckled, then continued, "Oh, more good news. Qui-Gon told the Jedi Council that he had no clue who you were. He claims the suns were in his eyes. Apparently, the best description he could give was, 'vaguely Zabrakian.'"
Maul snorted in derision. "I look nothing like a Zabrakian."
"Yes, for starters, you're far too short. And my son's soft spot for you has paid off, because he didn't correct Qui-Gon's report."
"Yes, so my identity is still safe. Still, you must kill them. Oh, and that Anakin child is quite powerful. Did you notice? We'll have to work on turning him. Anyhow, must dash! Ta!"
Maul wrinkled his brow in thought at the now-silent holoprojector. Why was Obi-Wan keeping silent about Maul's identity? Obi-Wan didn't exactly walk the Jedi straight and narrow, but keeping information like this from them was a serious act of disobedience. And why the fuck did Sidious want everyone killed if he already had what he wanted? Probably part of the whole sadistic master thing.
Still, it didn't make sense.
Several hours later, some random pissant Neimoidian summoned Maul to the Viceroy's office. Oh great, a public call from Sidious. Time to put on the dutiful apprentice face. He was so rising up and striking him down when this was over.
"We've sent owah pahtrols. We've already locatahted the stahship in the swahmp. It won't be long, my lohd."
"This is an unexpected move for her. It's too aggressive. Lord Maul, be mindful. Let them make the first move."
"Yes, my master."
Why the fuck did Sidious care? Was this just some big show for the Trade Federation's sake? Maybe that was it. Maybe he was trying to get them wiped out so no one would be left to point back to him. But if that were the case, why didn't he tell Maul?
Something was definitely not adding up.
Another hour passed, another fucking conference call. He hated walking next to these unnecessarily tall idiots. Maybe they were so tall that blood didn't reach their brains. That would explain a lot.
"She is more foolish than I thought," Sidious said.
"We ah sending all troops to meet this ahmy assembling near the swahmp. It appeahs to be made up of primitives."
"This will work to our advantage."
What advantage? Was he going to have them all rounded up to serve as sex slaves or something? Ew, don't go there, Maul thought to himself. Besides, he'd been having a hard time predicting Sidious's motives of late. He'd been acting too butch in public. It was freaking Maul out.
"I have yoah approval to proceed then, my lohd?"
"Wipe them out. All of them."
Maul's eyes lit up.
Maul hung out in the Viceroy's office, trying not to look bored, as the Viceroy and his lackeys monitored the progress of their droid army against the Gungans. Sidious had commed Maul privately and dashed all his Gungan-slaughtering dreams by telling him to stay out of it, so Maul was rooting for the droids. Even if his master had been on the side of the Gungans, he'd still be rooting for the droids. The fewer Gungans in the universe, the better. Unless they were in jerky form, or maybe pickled, or on pizza. Mmm, pizza. Once this was over, he'd have to place an order for delivery.
Even though Sidious had told him earlier not to interfere with any of the battles, he'd instructed Maul to finish Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan off if they came into the palace. He was quite insistent about that point too. "I want them dead, Maul. I want them dead and in little tiny pieces. You will bring the pieces back to me, and I will grind them under my heel, and then I will boil them into a tea, which I shall drink while eating scones..."
"But Obi-Wan is your son, Master."
"Hmm. Only Qui-Gon shall be strained into tea. I suppose I should treat Obi-Wan's body with more respect. He shall be pressed into a meat loaf, which I shall serve at my first official state dinner as Chancellor. Or perhaps Swedish meatballs. Well, Scottish meatballs, really," Sidious said, chuckling to himself.
Maul barely cut the transmission in time for him to run to the bathroom and puke his guts out.
Not that he had a soft spot for Obi-Wan. No. It was just the incestuous cannibalism that had made him ill. That was it. Hell, it might even be fun to kill Obi-Wan, after all the shit he'd put Maul through over these past two years. Sure, he was an amazing lay, but it was a big galaxy, and there had to be better sex partners out there. After he killed Obi-Wan, Maul would just have to go out looking for them.
What was that noise?
Maul and the Neimoidians walked over to the window. The Viceroy babbled, "I thought the battle was going to take place far from here. This is too close."
This was it. Maul felt the Force signatures of the Jedi and turned on his heel, honing in on it through the corridors of the palace. It still didn't make sense, but he was going to carry out his master's orders. If he didn't, Sidious would have his hide, literally. Better the Jedi than him.
Right, if he was going to have to kill his casual sex partner and his hippie master, he was gonna do it with style. Maul stood in the doorway of the hangar, turned the Glare up to eleven, and prepared for Dramatic Entrance #3, "Looking up from under the cowl of your hood."
The hangar doors opened.
He looked up.
"We'll handle this," Qui-Gon said.
"We'll take the long way," the queen replied.
Maul segued into Dramatic Entrance #8, "Shucking off your robe and preparing to get it on," and then did his favorite, Dramatic Entrance #13, "Drawing your lightsaber in one fluid motion and then lighting both ends."
Maul was indeed hot shit.
And he was supposed to kill his boyfriend...er, casual sex partner.
Better him than you, he thought again.
Then it hit him. Sidious didn't need the Jedi killed. He was trying to get Maul killed. It made perfect sense. He'd made his feelings about Maul perfectly clear these past few days, and he knew Maul couldn't take out two Jedi, especially two this powerful. He was just trying to get Maul out of the way so he could take on a new apprentice.
That Anakin brat, to be specific.
Burning-hot rage flowed through Maul's body as he realized the full extent of Sidious's betrayal. That bastard had taken him away from his only chance at a normal life when he was a toddler and forced him into a life of degradation and abuse, and now he was throwing him away like a used kleenex. He'd never been so angry in all his life. Not even when Sidious gave him Mary Sue's PMS. That didn't even come close.
Well fuck it. If he was going to die, he was going to die a Sith. Maul had trained all his life to be a full-bore demon of death and chaos. He might as well finally and fully put all that training to use. Might as well channel all his righteous anger at Sidious into one last assault on the closest available targets before he died. And he didn't plan to die alone.
Maul, you don't have to do this, Obi-Wan sent.
Shit, not now. Yes I do.
I know what you are. I figured it out. I can only guess what Palpatine did to you to make you this way. You can walk away. I'll help you.
You know nothing, fool.
Don't do this.
Fuck you. Maul slammed his mental walls into place, forcing Obi-Wan out of his mind, and focusing like a laser on the impending battle. Battle rage tinged his vision red, his pulse pounded in his ears, and his entire world shrank down to himself and his two opponents.
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon ignited their lightsabers.
With a growl, Maul advanced.
Obi-Wan leapt over him and started attacking him from behind. Good, Obi-Wan was fighting back. Maul was afraid he'd get all mushy on him after that last mental conversation, denying Maul the glorious death he deserved, although Obi-Wan seemed to be holding back. Maul knew Obi-Wan could fight better than this. He'd better start soon, before it was too late, because Maul wasn't planning on holding back at all. Qui-Gon, however, was attacking full-bore. Good. He'd been itching to kill the overgrown hippie for years, and it would be more satisfying this way. Knowing that he'd overcome his opponent at his strongest was far better than simply sneaking up on him and offing him.
The battle was two on one, but Maul was more than enough for the two of them, especially with Obi-Wan's annoying reluctance to fully attack. Maul held his own here on open ground.
Time to leave the open ground and improve the odds.
Maul kicked Qui-Gon in the chest, smiling as the old hippie staggered back, and did an aerial cartwheel to get out of the immediate fray, then used the Force to lob a droid head against the door controls. If he remembered the palace schematics correctly, there was a power station back there that was a maze of catwalks. That would be a much better place to finish a two on one battle. Hell, he might even survive it. If this was all the Jedi were going to dish out, then maybe he had a chance.
Obi-Wan slowly followed him to the door, clearly hanging back until Qui-Gon arrived by his side, but the two on one advantage was lost as Maul kicked Obi-Wan out of the way and continued to lead his prey deeper into the power station. Good, they were taking the bait. Maul let them drive him back until he was balanced on the very edge of the walkway, and stopped and glared. After two long years, he wanted them to know exactly who he was. Exactly what had been sitting under their noses all this time. Exactly who one of them had been fucking. Maul was a Sith, and Maul was hot shit, and Maul was taking them both with him. He wanted there to be no doubt about any of that.
He was met by an unwavering wall of stony resolution. Obi-Wan feinted, then Qui-Gon advanced for the blow. This didn't faze Maul. He neatly somersaulted onto the next catwalk and caught their lightsabers in one of his blades when they joined him.
Damn, now they'd gotten on either side of him again. Easy enough to fix that. Maul kicked Obi-Wan off the edge of the catwalk and didn't stop to look to see if he'd caught himself on the way down. In fact, he almost hoped that he hadn't. He wanted to kill Qui-Gon with his own hands, but if Obi-Wan were disposed of quickly, all the better. That bastard had made him weak too often, and he didn't want to give him another chance. Not now. Not when so much was at stake.
What happened next caught him by surprise. A wall of possessive anger poured off the hippie, and Maul found himself bitch-slapped down a level, landing on his back with a grunt. Right, so Qui-Gon wanted to make this personal? Fine with him. As Qui-Gon landed next to him, Maul kicked him in the head, then leapt up and started doing his level best to tire Qui-Gon out. He was old, after all. All Maul needed to do was get him to exhaust himself, and then he could zoom in for the kill. Oh yes. Qui-Gon would pay for all his years of Jedi bullshit: the insipid music, the clouds of pot smoke, the loud banging of the headboard, the way he tried to come between him and Obi-Wan...
Maul shook that thought of out his head and concentrated on the battle again. Obi-Wan wasn't even here and he was still distracting him! Back to tiring the old fart out. Maul led Qui-Gon down a catwalk, letting Qui-Gon make all the attacks, only raising his weapon to parry. He could see the hippie starting to look worn. Not long now. He lead him slowly through a series of laser walls until...
What the fuck?
Ah shit, Maul had miscounted the cycling time on the gates. Maybe he could saber his way through it? Tapping his lightsaber against the barrier, he realized that wasn't going to happen. He watched as Qui-Gon got down on one knee and appeared to start meditating. Fucking Jedi and their fucking serenity. Like hell he was meditating. Maul had just worn him out so badly that he was trying to catch a quick nap. But Maul was surging with Dark Side energy. He'd never felt so alive. And if he didn't channel the energy, it would burst free and abandon him. So he paced, and a small corner of his mind reminded him that he'd seen his cat do this time and time again. A grin creased the corners of his mouth. Oh yes, soon he'd have this Jedi dead at his feet.
And there was Obi-Wan, off at the far end of the gates. Good, he was still alive.
Maul mentally slapped himself and added, Good, because that means I can kill him up close and personal. That was it.
And then the gates came down.
Maul could tell that Qui-Gon was tiring out, plus the detox was clearly still wearing on his nerves, what with how bloodshot his eyes were. A few carefully-placed lightsaber spins had Qui-Gon looking totally befuddled, like a Gungan who'd stared at a shiny thing too long. And Obi-Wan was still stuck behind the laser gate. Excellent. He could finish off the hippie without interference. Finally, the old fuck would be out of his life once and for all. When Maul actually managed to block a blow behind his back, he knew it was time to finally end it. He cracked Qui-Gon on the forehead with the hilt of his lightsaber, and with a maniacal grin, took advantage of the Jedi's disorientation and skewered him on his lightsaber.
The irony of the gesture was not lost on Maul. He'd been screwed by the Jedi more times than he could count. He was only too happy to return the favor in his own special way.
Obi-Wan's scream of anguish only made the moment all the more delicious. Maul was drawn to it, not even looking back as the hippie fell to the ground, clutching at his midsection. Qui-Gon was dying slowly, intoxicatingly, and inevitably. Nothing could save him now, and the fact that he could do nothing but lie there helplessly and dwell on that fact made Maul's heart swell with joy. This was the best moment of his life, and if he played his cards right, it would only get better. Not only would he kill a second Jedi, but the dying one would have to lie there and watch it happen.
So this was what it was like to be a fully revealed Sith. Not even Sidious could know this feeling. He'd never been in this place before. This explained why Sith masters and apprentices were willing to risk so much. All this power--it was the best feeling in the universe. Nothing could compare.
The Dark Side energy pouring off of the padawan gave Maul such a buzz that there was an involuntary swagger in his step as he resumed his pacing. You're next he thought to himself as he fixed Obi-Wan in his gaze. The look Obi-Wan shot back was priceless. Better than any look he'd ever seen on the padawan's face. The slitted eyes, the snarl, the heaving breaths... Obi-Wan was radiant. Perfect. Deadly.
Maul was going to enjoy this.
The gates came down.
It was perfect. Obi-Wan, fully enraged, fighting Maul with every ounce of his will, and Maul soaked it up and gave it right back. This was better than PlayStation. This was better than sex. Maul tossed in all the fancy footwork he knew, and still Obi-Wan matched him blow for blow. They were meant for each other. They were a perfect balance. They should have done this ages ago.
Obi-Wan momentarily got the upper hand, slicing Maul's lightsaber in half and knocking him on his ass, but Maul quickly jumped back to his feet, slashing his lightsaber behind him to keep Obi-Wan from connecting before he had a chance to regroup. And when he kicked Obi-Wan in the head and Obi-Wan did a complete flip and landed on his feet, Maul realized that he'd never seen anything more beautiful in his life.
But it had to end. Now that he knew what it really meant to be a Sith, Maul wasn't going to die and leave it all behind. And that meant Obi-Wan had do die. He knew what Maul was now. If he went back to the Jedi Council with the news, Maul would be hunted by every fighter they had. And worse, if he let Obi-Wan live, the padawan would simply work harder to turn Maul to the Light. That could not be allowed. The Sith would not be allowed to die out, and Maul would rather die than lose this feeling. Yes, Obi-Wan had to die. Maul goaded him on with an aerial cartwheel and an "is that all you've got?" gesture, then when he rose to take the bait, he beat him back and smacked him into the pit with a Force push.
Maul swaggered over to the pit, kicked Obi-Wan's lightsaber down it, and smirked at the Jedi twit as he clung for dear life to an outcropping. It wouldn't be long now. Soon, Obi-Wan would be dead, and Maul would finally be free of the do-gooder and all his damned distractions. He'd finally be free to live as a true Sith, without all the constant carnal temptations...
He shook his head and refocused on his purpose. Damn, Obi-Wan had a good grip. Right, he'd just knock him loose by bashing his lightsaber against the rim of the pit. That should do it.
Shit, the little bugger was still holding on. Maul glared down, teeth bared. Maul was not going to be the one to die here. He was going to survive, and then march up to Sidious and lop the bastard's head off as he sat there wondering how the hell his "idiot apprentice" had survived. Revenge would finally be his. Why was Obi-Wan stubbornly refusing to die? Why was he trying to ruin Maul's long-awaited moment of triumph?
Obi-Wan looked up at him from the pit with anguish in his eyes. What the fuck? What happened to that angry Jedi he'd been battling? What was this sudden serenity shit? How could Obi-Wan lose his focus at such a crucial time..?
I'll come back for you, Maul, Obi-Wan projected.
Hunh? Maul screwed his face up in confusion.
I still love you.
Maul's brain froze. Obi-Wan loved him? Obi-Wan loved him? Loved him? Love? Obi-Wan had never told him that he loved him before. What did he mean, "still"? Love? Love him? What did he mean...
His brain let go just in time to see Obi-Wan vault over his head, Qui-Gon's ignited lightsaber flying into his hand.
He watched the blade arc towards him with slow-motion clarity, felt the familiar sensation of pure energy tearing through his midsection, and the agonizing slurp of his two halves coming apart. As he started to fall backwards, he thought, How did he know..?
As he tumbled down the pit, Obi-Wan's last words rang in his brain until a sharp pain in his head made everything go to lights and then fade away.
Maul came to feeling sorer and itchier than he ever remembered. His head felt like it had been split open. What the hell did I have to drink last night? he thought as he wondered if he should even bother opening his eyes. If it had been Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, that might be a bad idea. Reaching down to scratch his belly, he startled as his hands were swatted away. He reflexively opened his eyes, and saw Mary Sue standing over him, hands on her hips. She raised her eyebrows and said, "Damned useful trait, to not be killed by bisection. You know, that's usually a trait possessed by lesser organisms, like, say, worms."
"Where the fuck am I?" Maul snarled, struggling to sit up, as it all came rushing back to him. Shit. He was in a far, far worse place than a Pan Galactic Gargleblaster hangover, and that was saying a lot.
Mary Sue pushed him back down, and he grabbed his head and winced. "Relax. You're in terrible shape," she said. "You cracked your head pretty badly when you fell down that pit, plus you broke a leg."
Maul patted his head and discovered he was three horns short. No matter. They'd grow back next time it was spring on Hoth. "You still haven't answered my question."
"You're on my ship. We're headed to Tatooine. I've got another passenger. They finished reprogramming Ben-Wa, and I convinced them to let me transport him to his new digs."
"That simpering moron is on this ship?" Maul frothed.
"He's not simpering anymore," Mary Sue said with a frown. "He's actually pretty boring. Anyhow, you're going to begin a new life on Tatooine too, courtesy of Obi-Wan. He's taken that scary little kid on as an apprentice, so between trips home with him, and trips to visit his brother, Obi-Wan figures Tatooine is the best place to stash you if he wants to see you often."
"What in the nine Sith hells are you talking about?"
Mary Sue sighed, then leaned back against a bulkhead. "Despite everything you've done, the little dweeb still loves you."
"I killed his master. I tried to kill him. And I enjoyed it."
"I know. But he forgives you for all of that. He understands that you were raised to be a Sith ever since you were a little kid. He knows you can't help it. And he's hoping that if he takes you away from Sidious, you'll mellow out."
Maul snorted. "He's a bigger idiot than his brother. Hey, how the hell did he know that cutting me in half wouldn't kill me?"
"I think the better question is, why did you let him slice you in half?"
"I didn't 'let' him," Maul grumbled, ignoring the small voice in the back of his head that insisted that actually, he had let him do just that. "Now answer my question!"
Mary Sue sighed theatrically, then said, "He said something about a drug-induced hallucination that he finally figured out wasn't a hallucination. He also told me that he finally realized that all that time you spent babbling about the Sith wasn't just macho posturing." She shrugged. "He can be a little slow on the uptake when his heart's involved, but ever since you tried to kill Qui-Gon on Tatooine, he's been sitting back and doing the math. He's figured out a hell of a lot. And that's why he forgives you."
Maul shook his head. "None of this matters. Sidious will hunt me down and kill me."
"No he won't. He thinks you're dead. Hell, you were clinically dead when I found you at the bottom of the pit, but we were able to revive you after shoving your halves together."
"He thinks I'm dead?" Maul's head started spinning, and it wasn't from the crack in his skull. No more Sidious breathing over his shoulder, giving him menial tasks, sucking every ounce of joy from his life... He couldn't fully comprehend it. He hadn't lived that way since he was a toddler. Freedom? How did that work?
Mary Sue stroked Maul's forehead and said, "Yeah, he does. And Obi-Wan's keeping the secret, even though he knows who the Sith master is. He loves you that much."
Maul twitched his head to dislodge her hand. "He's a fool."
She shrugged. "I know, but what can you do?"
Deal with it, I suppose, Maul thought to himself as his brain began racing again, trying to picture what that would be like.
Mary Sue looked down at the bewildered smile on Maul's face, matched it with a smile of her own, and sauntered back to the cockpit.
My Apprentice yowled her fury in the empty Sith Infiltrator. Dammit, she'd put too many years of her life into turning Maul into the perfect Sith Kitty Apprentice. All that effort, gone to shit!
She was not going to take this lying down. She would have her revenge.
Fur fluffed, she arched her back and reached out beyond her normal Sith Kitty senses to access the Force. Normally, she didn't give a shit about manipulating future events. After all, she was a cat. All she needed was a belly full of food, a warm place to sleep, and plenty of things to destroy. But today she was going to be more than a cat. She was going to show them what a real Force user could accomplish. Those two-leggeds were amateurs.
Aha. There it was. That little Aryan brat. He'd do. She'd take that little "Chosen One" and mold him just right. And if all went as she foresaw, he'd not only kill Obi-Wan, but also Sidious: the very two people responsible for taking her Sith Kitty Apprentice away from her.
Eyes slitted with contentment, she trotted down the ramp of the Infiltrator and out to the courtyard. There was the little brat now, standing next to Obi-Wan and Sidious, who were looking at each other warily. Suppressing the hiss that those two so richly deserved, she trotted over and started winding herself around the brat's ankles, tossing a whammy in Sidious's direction to keep him from cooing like an idiot at her.
"Eek!" the kid said, and startled back.
Obi-Wan looked down and said, "Anakin, that's only a little cat." His expression turned wistful, and he added, "She's actually the cat of an old friend of mine."
"What's a cat?" Anakin asked.
My Apprentice rubbed up against him again and purred.
"It's a creature that you keep as a pet," Obi-Wan replied. "It looks like she's chosen you to be her new owner."
"That's a neat sound she's making!"
"It means she likes you."
Anakin reached down and picked My Apprentice up, and she tamped down her normal loathing of being held. Dredging up every last bit of acting skill she had, she bonked the top of her head against his cheek.
"I like her too!" Anakin beamed. "Can I take her to Camp Midichlorian with me?"
"I don't see why not," Obi-Wan replied.
Palpatine added, "And if they give you any trouble, I shall personally step in and make sure they let you keep her with you. A boy and his pet should not be separated."
Oh yes, this would work perfectly. Revenge would be hers.
My Apprentice purred harder, no longer having to act to pull it off.
Thanks everyone for two years of fun!!!
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