Sith Academy: The Origin of Species
By the Intrepid Housemate Melissa TM (with suggestions from Siubhan)
[Read Melissa's author bio]

The anthropologists from the University of Berkeley at Coruscant sat on the warm grass of the rooftop garden, surrounded by the friendly crowd of Peprons. First contact with the six-inch-tall species discovered living on top of one of Coruscant's toniest condominium towers had gone extremely well, and now the scientists were gathered with the Peprons for a special event.

The First Speaker of the Peprons, a woman whose duty was to memorize and pass on the tiny civilization's oral history, stood up and prepared to speak. The respectful crowd fell silent.

"Hear now the history of our people," began the First Speaker, her voice thin but firm. "Our people were born into the Universe of Chaos. Light and energy there were, darkness and destruction there were, trash and nameless refuse there were, and amongst this chaos walked the Dark Horned God. His name meant death, yet around him Life continually arose. In the corners of the universe, hidden by the darkness, forgotten and unseen, a multitude of civilizations were born. The Peprons were but one amongst their number. Each tribe was different in size, in hue, in scent, and in understanding, but all of them shared the same goal: to create a refuge amongst the chaos, and to ensure that Life continued.

"Woe to those upon whom the Wrath of the Dark Horned God turned! He was a jealous creature, and did not wish to share the universe with any but his chosen few. When he discovered Life hidden amongst the refuse of his universe, he did not hesitate to crush it beneath his boot! Many refuges were laid waste by his mighty Red Staff of Doom, and untold numbers died under the claws of his minion, The Yowling Beast.

"And so it was known to all that survival depended on two things: secrecy and escape. Some tribes cooperated, others fought bitter wars with each other. The strong, the clever, the resourceful -- these were the ones who stayed alive. Amongst these were the Peprons, who watched and learned, growing in knowledge and understanding. The greatest secret that they learned was that their Universe of Chaos was but one world among many! If one could but get through the Great Door, one could explore the Worlds Outside. It became the greatest goal of our people to find the way to carry ourselves through the Door.

"At last came the great Day of Ascension! On this day, the Peprons gathered themselves into the Ark they had built for themselves. The mighty Ark lifted high and flew, above the refuse, above the claws of The Yowling Beast, and through the Door to the Worlds Outside. Such beauty! Higher and higher they soared, leaving behind the darkness and chaos, seeking the order and the light of the World Above. At last they came here, to the Green Garden, where the Peprons have lived in peace for generations since.

"Hear now the history of our people," the First Speaker concluded, fluffing her ear-fans widely.

The Peprons in the audience swished their tails in the air, showing their approval. Those members of the anthropological team who had tails followed their lead, while the rest clapped awkwardly.

Max Eilerson, the lead researcher on the team, respectfully approached the First Speaker. "Thank you very much, First Speaker," he said, kneeling as low as he could so as not to tower over her. "I am curious -- does the Ark still exist?"

"Of course!" the woman said cheerfully. Her antennae turned and pointed to a shaded grove off to one side. "We have preserved the great Ark so that future generations will know our history."

The anthropological team looked at the great Ark. They blinked. They looked again.

"But... but it's a..." one of the junior research assistants began.

"Shh!" hissed Eilerson, hiding the fact that he was just as startled as the rest of them.

The Ark was made out of a pizza box. Pizza the Hutt, to be exact. Somehow, the Peprons had managed to create levitation thrusters out of leftover food containers, paper clips, kitty litter, a battery, the remains of a crushed PlayStation cartridge ("Syth"), and a pencil. "Incredible..." murmured one of the team members.

Eilerson walked around the Ark, trying to make sense of it all. Where had these people come from? A trash pile? Something caught his eye -- a faded scrap of paper pasted to the side of the pizza box. He peered at it, trying to transcribe the wording. After a moment, he realized that it wasn't an alien language after all, but merely upside-down.

The label bore the original delivery address for the pizza.


Maul paused his PlayStation game, listening to the knock at the door. He hadn't ordered any food, so it wasn't the delivery droid. It wasn't Sidious either -- he wouldn't even bother to knock. Obi-Wan's knock was more tentative, while Mary Sue tended to pound. This was a brisk, businesslike knock. That meant only one thing -- salespeople.

Maul took a moment to rev The Glare up for maximum effect. Flashing eyes, check. Bared teeth, check. He flung the door open, leveled The Glare at the strangers in the hallway, and spat "Go away!"

"The Dark Horned God!!" screamed one of the strangers, backing up against the far wall.

Well, that had never happened before. Damn! I am hot shit! Maul thought to himself.

Eilerson stood his ground. You had to be ready for anything in the anthropology business. "Excuse me, sir," he began, "but my name is Max Eilerson..."

"There's no excusing that. No way."

"Er..." Max tried not to get rattled. "We're an anthropological team from the University of Coruscant..."

"How terrible! I'm sure there are twelve-step programs to help you recover. Goodbye!"

"But we need to ask you about a pizza --"

Maul waved his hand. "I paid for it."

Eilerson blinked and nodded. "You paid for it, of course. But did you ever notice small sentient lifeforms living in it?"

Maul's eyes narrowed. "Which ones did you have in mind? I get pizza-based lifeforms all the time -- sausage-flavored, pepperoni-flavored, teriyaki-flavored..."

"All the time?" A smile crept across Eilerson's face. "Please, may we come in? We'd like to take a look around..."

"No." Maul slammed the door shut.

Time for a different tactic, thought Eilerson. He was not going to let this opportunity get away from him.


"An environmental protection order?!" Maul waved the offending paper in front of the vidscreen.

Kindly Senator Palpatine, aware that the anthropological team was listening in the background, lifted his hands in defeat. "I'm afraid there's not much I can do, my ward. After the tragic loss of much of our native plant life in recent decades, Coruscant has developed very strict laws regarding the protection of previously undiscovered species. It appears that Dr. Eilerson's warrant to search your apartment is legal."

Maul snarled at the lead anthropologist, who tried not to look smug.

"Thank you, Senator Palpatine," Eilerson said in his most ingratiating voice. "I assure you, we will try to be as quick and unobtrusive as possible."

"Of course. I'm sure my ward will cooperate." Palpatine glared meaningfully at Maul, then looked over his shoulder with a frown. "Oh, dear, we're being called back into session. I swear, the Senate is being run by the bureaucrats! Ah, well. Ta-ta!" The vidscreen winked out.

Eilerson waved his team into Maul's apartment, then turned back to Maul. "Let's get started, shall we?"


The anthropologists were having a field day. They had contacted and cataloged no fewer than nine living civilizations in various parts of Maul's apartment, plus they had found another four piles of refuse that showed signs of great promise. Eight of the civilizations had requested assistance in relocating from Maul's apartment, while the ninth had developed into a doomsday cult that believed it was their well-deserved fate to be dumped into the trash can and thrown into the incinerator. Maul's reluctance to take the trash out on a regular basis had so far spared them from such a demise.

It certainly wasn't news to Maul that his leftovers tended to sprout intelligent life after being left in the corner for a few months, but he'd never really given the phenomenon much thought. In fact, he had initially figured that his twit neighbor Obi-Wan was the freaky one for being so obsessively tidy that nothing sprouted in his kitchen at all.

Eventually, Maul decided that "anthropology" was "the science of being as annoying as possible." Any time he walked through his own apartment, some researcher would inevitably shout, "Watch your feet! Look out!" as his boot came near some fungus or lichen or whatever. Worst of all, Maul hadn't been able to touch his PlayStation since a promising fungal colony had been discovered in a Rodian take-out box wedged behind the game unit. It took every scrap of self-control he had not to give in to his rage and rend the anthropologists limb from limb, an effort which left him with a horn-pounding headache. What the hell good was it for Sidious to be a Senator if he couldn't pull some fucking strings and get him out of this mess?

"Fascinating!" Max Eilerson, the team leader, was kneeling on the floor, lining up five different clipboards for comparison.

"What is that, your bedtime reading?" Maul was in a foul mood. "See Dick. See Dick run. See Dick fly a podracer. Crash, Dick, crash!"

Eilerson rolled his eyes in exasperation. "No, it's the comparative results of our interviews of five of the species we've contacted so far. They all have wildly different belief systems, and yet you feature prominently in all of them, though in different ways."

Maul was intrigued despite himself. "In what ways, exactly?"

"You're usually a god of some sort." The scientist tapped his pen against one of the clipboards. "The Dostbonis from under your bed think of you as the Overlord, a sleeping giant who must not be awakened. The Klumpenskoops over by your cat's litter box throw massive festivals on Box Cleaning Day, a rare occasion on which their god grants them fresh air for a few hours. Another group calling themselves the Darksiders lives inside one of your kitchen cabinets in total blackness; you are the Bringer of Light, which happens every time you open the cabinet door, and for them, that is not a good thing."

I'm associated with the Light side? Maul shuddered in distaste. "Well, inform them that there's a new god in town," he told Eilerson sternly. "He's called the LandLord, and if they don't move themselves the hell out of my apartment, I'm going to start charging them rent!"

Eilerson shrugged. "I'll tell them, but you don't want to know what the Klumpenskoops use for currency."


After two days, Maul had more or less moved out onto his balcony. He resorted to breaking into Obi-Wan's apartment to use the twit's kitchen and bathroom because it was marginally less annoying than dealing with the anthropologists. My Apprentice preferred lounging on Obi-Wan's balcony, where she could keep an eye on Fluffi-Wan through the screen door.

Maul was dozing on his deck chair in the late afternoon when he felt a warning twinge from the Force. The sound of whispering met his ear, and little feet shuffled around him on all sides. Without moving or opening his eyes, Maul reached out with the Force and sensed the location of each creature surrounding him. They weren't very big, three inches high at the most, but they were carrying pens, forks, and chopsticks in a threatening manner, and they appeared to be poised for an attack.

With a roar, Maul rose up and grabbed two creatures in each hand, scattering the rest with a kick of his legs. The tiny blue-green warriors screeched and leaped back into the fray, jabbing at his ankles with their improvised weapons. Maul Force-pushed one group back into the apartment, sent another group flying into the wall with a smack, and punted two more over the edge of the balcony, where they clung to an outcropping like a Padawan kicked into a smelting pit.

Eilerson ran out onto the balcony. "What are you doing? What happened?" he demanded.

"One of your precious little civilizations attacked me!" Maul spat, brandishing his hostages, who were trying to pry his fingers apart with a plastic spork.

Chittering, the rest of Maul's tiny attackers fled toward Eilerson, gathering around his ankles and gesturing wildly in Maul's direction. The anthropologist knelt down and listened to them, nodding sagely.

"What the hell are you telling them, Eilerson?" Maul asked angrily as he adjusted his grip on the wriggly creatures. "Before your team showed up, none of these things ever got violent!"

At the others' direction, Eilerson reached over the edge of the balcony and retrieved the two attackers who were dangling perilously from the outcropping. "These are the warriors of the Safgard tribe," he explained, placing the two rescued creatures at his feet. "They evolved in your bathroom."

"Let me guess," grumbled Maul as he once again was forced to adjust his hold on the four he had captured. "There's a lot of soap scum in them. They're damned slippery."

The tiny Safgard warriors hiding behind Eilerson chittered encouragement to their trapped kinsmen. Eilerson had the good grace to look embarrassed. "It seems that the arrival of my team has made them less afraid of you," he said sheepishly. "They think that, with us here to protect them, they can at last take revenge on you for the deaths caused by flooding every time your shower drain backs up."

"Well, if they'd practice proper erosion control in their agricultural zones, the drain wouldn't back up, now would it!" Maul lifted his four hostages up to his face and squeezed them tightly, enjoying their tiny cries of fear and pain.

"Stop it!" demanded an angry Eilerson. "Remember, we've got an environmental protection order on these creatures!"

"Fuck the environmental protection order! They were attacking me! I'll pop their squiggly little heads off!!" The four hostages screamed.

"I'll call Senator Palpatine!" Eilerson threatened.

Maul paused. Shit! The rat bastard politician was officially supporting the damned environmental laws, wasn't he? Was taking revenge on these puny creatures worth the purple-lightning treatment his master would give him for screwing up Palpatine's public image?

Reluctantly, Maul backed off. "I have a right to protect myself in my own home," he stated menacingly. "If they get within ten feet of me again, I'll stomp them flat, I swear it!"

The rest of the Safgards looked up at Eilerson and chittered anxiously. "We'll evacuate them today!" Eilerson announced, kneeling amongst the soapy tribe. "We can transfer them to the gym showers at the Jedi Temple in a couple of hours!"

"They'll disarm immediately, or these four get free flying lessons!" Maul held his hands over the outside rim of the balcony to make his point.

Eilerson translated the demand, and the Safgards reluctantly surrendered their weapons, leaving a big pile of eating and writing implements in the middle of the floor. Maul gave his hostages one last squeeze for good measure, then tossed them casually at their tribemates. The Safgards scrambled to catch their exhausted brethren and then retreated behind Eilerson, who quickly escorted them back into the apartment.

"Hmph." Maul grumbled and bent down to pick up the pile of improvised weapons. Looking closely, he found that the chopsticks had elaborately carved designs on them, and the plastic pieces had been painted with tribal markings. Inspired, Maul went inside to look up "Art Dealers, Primitive Species" in the Coruscant phone book. If he couldn't kill them, he could at least profit from them!


Eilerson was arguing with a colleague. "Yes, yes, I know that there are similarities to the spontaneous generation of the Crkwlzk in that condominium on Dantooine, but I think that the ecosystem that developed in the kitchen of the Iguana Cantina is a better model for what we're seeing here..."

Suddenly, voices could be heard in the hallway of the apartment building. Someone was screaming "Heathens!" and "Evolutionists go home!" Intrigued, Maul wandered in from the balcony, weaving amongst rows of yellow caution tape.

Eilerson shook his head. "Oh, no, not again..."

"Who are they?" Anyone who annoyed Eilerson was someone Maul wanted to encourage.

"Anti-evolutionists from the planet Kanzaz," Eilerson explained wearily. "Somehow, they always manage to find my field sites and picket them. They find the whole theory of spontaneous trophoremnant evolutionary speciation offensive."

Maul could tell that Eilerson desperately wanted to be asked for an explanation of what that phrase meant, and Maul wasn't about to give him the satisfaction. "I suspect they just find you offensive, Eilerson -- which means I want to meet them." Maul turned his back on the scientists, headed for his front door, and opened it wide.

A group of eight people were marching back and forth in front of his door, holding signs with slogans such as "Just A Theory" and "Food is for Eating." As soon as they were able to see into the apartment, their rantings became more fevered. One scrawny little man even tried to rush inside, but Maul did his best "Patented Qui-Gon Jinn Casual Force Usage Wave (#12a)" and tripped him up, sending him sprawling on the floor.

That hardly deterred the rest of the crowd. "I am not descended from primordial leftover soup!" cried one woman, waving her sign so furiously that she whacked another demonstrator in the head without noticing.

"Of course not," Maul said soothingly. "You look more like the brown, wilted salad type to me."

"The idea that life evolves from fast food remainders is preposterous!" shouted a man in the back of the crowd (out of sign-whacking range).

"Well, then, how do you explain your existence? Are we all just figments of someone's imagination?"

"Intelligent design!" the protester insisted. "All beings were created just as they are now by God!"

"God?" Maul revved up The Glare again. "Life forms that have never been seen before exist inside my apartment!" he bellowed. "Therefore, I must have created them. Therefore, I am God! BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME, YOU WORTHLESS SCUM!!!"

Immediately, two of the protesters fell to their knees and began singing Maul's praises. The rest shouted indignantly, "The arrogance! The irreverence! How dare you?!?"

Maul suddenly affected a look of innocence. "Well, I am a god! At least, that's what he told me," he said, pointing to Eilerson.

The anthropologist was startled. "I told you? What...?"

"You said I was a god."

The veins on Eilerson's forehead looked about ready to pop. "I said some of the civilizations worshipped you as a god, that's not the same thing as being one!"

As Sidious stepped off of the elevator, his knees nearly buckled as he was hit by the intoxicating wave of negative emotions flooding the hallway. Eilerson was yelling at Maul, the two converts to the religion of Maul were singing loudly, the rest of the protesters were screaming incoherently, and the irritated residents of the apartment building were on the verge of wreaking their own vengeance upon the entire scene.

Sidious paused to enjoy the moment, then expertly flipped his robe to the Palpatine side before wading into the fray. He might as well take advantage of the opportunity and do his "law and order" shtick. "Good citizens, is there any help that I can provide here?" he announced in his best genuinely-concerned-civil-servant-of-the-people voice.

Maul had to admit, Palpatine was good at the most important part of being a politician -- getting the votes. He had mastered the art of the Senatorial Handshake Mind Whammy; citizens who met the Senator almost universally came away with a fuzzy, warm feeling about him. It was too bad that, as Palpatine shook hands and chatted sympathetically with his constituents, he was also returning some semblance of order to the hallway. Maul had been quite enjoying the emotional head rush. On the other hand, it wasn't the first time that the Senator had used Maul's propensity for generating chaos to push his "A Vote for Palpatine is a Vote for Order" platform.

Eventually, things calmed down. The residents returned to their apartments, strangely elated by their chance meeting with the Senator. Maul's two converts were hauled away for deprogramming by the protesters from Kanzaz, much to his disappointment. Only a skeleton crew of three protesters were left behind to patrol the hallway.

"Well done, my apprentice," Sidious said under his breath. "Most enjoyable. Ah, Dr. Eilerson!" Kindly Senator Palpatine extended a hand to the lead anthropologist, who shook it enthusiastically.

"Senator Palpatine! How kind of you to look in on us!" Eilerson glared at Maul. "I'm sure you'll be fascinated by what we've discovered here."

"I look forward to the final report," Palpatine said. "However, I'm afraid that there's a slight problem."

"Problem?" Maul and Eilerson said simultaneously.

"Yes, it seems that the Senate somehow neglected to renew the environmental protection laws when they came up during the most recent legislative session." Palpatine shrugged. "I simply can't imagine how that happened! It's an oversight, I'm sure, but at the moment I'm afraid that your warrant has expired and you'll have to leave the apartment."

Maul blinked in surprise. The rat bastard politician had actually come through for him!

Eilerson was aghast. "But..."

"Tut-tut!" Palpatine wagged a finger at the anthropologist. "You may of course evacuate the life forms you've already found to a safer location."

"But what if new species evolve in the future?" asked the defeated anthropologist.

"Why, my ward will keep track of them, of course! I think it would make an excellent research paper for you, Maul. Don't you agree?" Sidious smiled at his apprentice's strangled cry of protest.


Sidious wanted research? Maul would show him research.

Maul looked down at the four remaining slices of his freshly delivered pizza. He placed each slice on a separate paper plate. One he left on the windowsill, one went under his bed, one was pushed into a corner of the bathroom, and one he placed in the deepest recesses of his closet.

For once, Maul was going to pay attention to the little life forms that sprouted in his apartment. Oh, yes, he'd pay them very close attention. His very own little minions to train, breed, and kill as he saw fit! Maul picked up a notebook and began jotting down different ideas of how to induce primitive civilizations to properly worship and obey him.

This was going to be fun.


Spontaneous Trophoremnant Evolutionary Speciation Bibliography:

Campbell, Neil A. Biology. 2nd ed. Redwood City, CA: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., 1990.

Minkoff, Eli C. Evolutionary Biology. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1983.

Nelson, Harry and Robert Jurmain. Introduction to Physical Anthropology. 3rd ed. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1985.



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