Ranger Maul and Smokiee the Wookiee
by Padawan Zol-Tan

Disclaimer: All the people George Lucas made up belong to him. The three annoying tourists belong to Hanna-Barbera. I'm not making any money off this, and maybe that's a good thing. Thanks as always to Jedimom for her insight and to all those little rage-honers in my life (not Jedimom, you understand) that make this sort of thing frighteningly easy.

"Ha ha! Level twelve, you are mine now!" cackled Darth Maul, thumbs flying, eyes riveted to the screen as Darth Lara Croft blasted through ranks of annoying Jedi.

Right on cue, the door flew open and Sidious stormed in. Maul jumped, and little Jedi Force-ghosts danced around the corpse of Darth Lara.

"...Or not," muttered Maul.

"What is it this time, my master?" he asked moodily.

"Maul, your rage-honing skills have been falling by the wayside lately," Sidious said, glancing pointedly at Kenobi's apartment.

Maul rolled his eyes.

"I saw that. Anyway, you will be taking a job as a park ranger at Silverstone Planetary Wildlife Reserve on Hoth to promote my environmental campaign. You will keep the job for a week, so no tourists may die on your watch... or else." A little purple spark flared at Sidious's fingertip.

Well, how hard can that be? thought Maul, then immediately wished he hadn't. Things never turned out well when he thought things like that. He sighed and switched off the TV.


"Senator!" beamed the park director, warmly shaking the hand of the smiling, apple-cheeked politician. "Welcome to Silverstone Planetary Wildlife Reservation. I can't tell you how grateful we are for your sponsorship of the Tauntaun Conservation Program. With your financial support, I'm sure the Tauntauns of Silverstone can look forward to a bright new future on the reservation.

"Ah," she crooned, turning to Maul. "This must be the little ward I've heard so much about. Welcome to Silverstone. Thank you so much for volunteering your services."

"Little ward"?? fumed Maul silently, starting to foam at the mouth. "Little ward"??

He was about to rip the park director into bite-size pieces when Sidious's smugly amused voice rang through his head: Remember, my young apprentice: one week.

Maul just barely managed to curb his murderous impulses, aided by his realization of the implications of that last statement. A week of this? A week of having to put up with being called Palpatine's "little ward" by chipper, environmentally sound, sorry little drips who probably spent their off hours listening to LPs of The Monkees, and who he couldn't make kabobs out of without purple lightening figuring prominently in his nearby future? And on top of all that, being Obi-Wan deprived, too? Maul stared stunned and bleary-eyed out over the frozen landscape, wishing an obliging meteor could strike him now, or at least strike Sidious.

The park director noticed his momentary torpor and smiled indulgently. "Feeling shy?" she cooed. "Isn't that just adorable?" She patted his arm. "Don't worry, honey. Soon you'll feel right at home. There's a briefing in a few minutes. I'm sure you'll make lots of nice friends there."

She leaned over to Maul and whispered stagily, "I hear Smokiee the Wookiee might even be there."

Maul fell over backwards into the snow.


A few minutes later, Maul sat fuming in a small conference room, pointedly ignoring the speaker in the Smokiee the Wookiee costume as he went over for the bloody fourth time how important it was not to feed your camp fire with Wampa chips, no matter what they said on Coruscant.

Maul, in fact, already knew this.

"Now," Smokiee said, "it's time for you all to get your uniforms!"

Suddenly, Maul was paying perfect attention. Uniforms? He had to wear a uniform? He, Darth Maul, Sith Apprentice, bane of the Jedi (well, okay, most of the Jedi), and the anti-Jabba himself had to wear a wussy uniform? Maul's eyes flared dangerously.

Smokiee reached around behind his podium and produced a pile of neatly-folded beige snowsuits. Maul growled and gnashed his teeth.

After the snowsuits came a stack of cheap brown fedoras, each bearing an ironed-on facsimile of a smiling Wookiee and the words "Only YOU can prevent spontaneous combustion!" written across the brim. They had fuzzy ear flaps.

Maul was about to show the pitiful eco-squirts the true meaning of slash and burn technology, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Isn't it wonderful of the park to sponsor me in the election this year?" grinned Sidious through clenched teeth.

I am not wearing a Smokiee the Wookiee hat! Never! It is not Sithly!

Purple lightning sparked at Sidious's fingertips.

"I'll... um, go get my uniform, I guess," muttered Maul, secretly swearing vengeance under his breath.

"And what's your name?" asked Smokiee as Maul reached the front of the line, bending over and putting his hands on his fuzzy knees.

Maul muttered under his breath, attempting to catch the Wookiee suit on fire with his eyes.

"You'll have to speak up, dear," crooned the guy in the suit, "Smokiee's a little hard of hearing."

"My name is Maul, you pathetic wad of synthetic Bantha fur, but my friends would call me the Dark Horned God if any of them were still alive," Maul hissed.

"Isn't that just precious?" asked Smokiee, who hadn't really been paying attention. "Let me see if I can find your nametag."

"Nametag?" sputtered Maul. Could life possibly hate him any more than it did now?

"Ah, here it is!" Smokiee came up and handed Maul a folded snowsuit, a cheap fedora, and a nametag that said "Hello, my name is ______" His name, written in bubble letters, filled the space.

"I have your height written down as five foot six. Is that correct?" asked the Wookiee.

A thin line of smoke rose from the space between the fuzzy mask's eyes as everyone within earshot looked up.

"Yes," said Maul, his voice dripping with hatred. "That's right." He whipped around, challenging anyone in the room to make a snide comment. Everyone became suddenly enthralled with their shoes.

Maul smirked. Cower, ignorant masses, he thought smugly.


The next item of business was a tour of the park. To Maul's horror, Kindly Senator Palpatine accepted his invitation to come along. Maul could feel Sidious sucking up his rage with Sithly glee.

The park consisted mainly of a bunch of rocks and some very inviting hot springs. There were also a few geysers, smoldering ominously. One, said the sign at the side of the road, was nicknamed "Old Fart" due to its high sulfur content.

Maul leaned over to Sidious. "Oh look, my Master," he said, careful to keep his voice below the tour guide's range of hearing, "they named one after you."

Maul smirked as Kindly Senator Palpatine turned an interesting shade of purple with suppressed rage. Maul would regret that later, but for now he didn't care. This might not be so bad after all.

They passed a few herds of Tauntauns and Maul felt a pang of homesickness. He wondered if he could manage to join one of the clans. Maybe then they'd have to get Obi-Wan to lure him back to civilization. Maul smiled slyly, visions of plaid infiltrating his subconscious. Yes, this might turn out to be a pretty good assignment.

Maul didn't pay much attention to the rest of the tour, preoccupied with visions of a kilt-clad Obi-Wan.

His meditations were rudely interrupted as the speeder jerked to a halt and the other recruits crowded out. The guide looked at a clipboard in his hand.

"Uh, which of you is Maul?" he asked.

Maul stepped forward moodily, plastering on a humorless grin as Sidious stepped up beside him.

"Oh, hi, Senator Palpatine!" beamed the guide. "This must be your ward." Sidious smiled charismatically and nodded. "I heard your campaign speech last week, and I was just thrilled. It's so nice to actually find an honest politician these days..."

He would have continued if it hadn't been for Maul's nearly choking to death behind Palpatine. After Maul could breathe again, the guide informed him politely that he had first patrol duty for the morning and would be expected in the mess hall for breakfast at 5:15 so he could be available when the park opened.

Maul's jaw fell open, and he stalked off to his assigned cabin to brood as the tour guide fell into an animated discussion with Palpatine over the preservation of the rare Wampa tick.


Maul woke up the next morning to someone pounding on the door. He climbed muzzily out of bed, noting with considerable wrath that his feet were numb and that the floor was uncarpeted. He staggered off to the cabin showers, driving out the resident lifeforms.

He needed caffeine. Badly. The hot water ran out halfway through his shower, and Maul spent the next few minutes making little horn-shaped indentations in the tile.

Ten minutes later, Maul trudged into the mess hall, his Smokiee the Wookiee fedora jammed crookedly over his horns. The uniform was worse even than Maul had imagined. It was made of puffy beige nylon stuffed with wads of insulation that wadded up into little hard lumps when Maul moved, and the pants were held up with suspenders of the same neutral brown as the hat. The overall effect made him look like the Pillsbury Lumberjack.

Breakfast consisted of health bars and plain oatmeal, and the cappuccino was decaf. Maul stared into his biodegradable coffee cup with mingled rage and depression. He would never last a whole week. He might as well slay them all now and get it over with. Maul sighed. It was a nice image, but he didn't have enough energy to hold his eyelids open, much less slay anyone.

The park director came and sat across from him, beaming.

"Hey!" she said cheerfully. "Beautiful morning, isn't it?"

"Mrrrgph," said Maul.

"You know," she continued, "I was just coming in for breakfast after my morning run--I go five miles every morning before the sun comes up. Does wonders for the circulation--and I saw you over here, and I thought to myself, Maisie--that's my name--why don't you just go plop yourself down over there and have a nice chat with Senator Palpatine's nice little ward. You know, I really admire your guardian. He's a great guy. Why, only yesterday my friend Charlene and I--Charlene works at the organic health food store --"

Maul stumbled out of his chair and made for the door, Maisie's insipid chatter following him across the mess hall. He slammed the door behind him and leaned against it, feeling like he should starch his brain before it oozed out his ears. Suddenly he was almost grateful that he went on duty in about ten minutes. After all, how bad could ranger duty be compared to Maisie?

His question was answered all too soon. He was given a map of his patrol route and a speeder that more closely resembled a golf cart, and then the park opened. A stream of rosy-cheeked tourists poured in, oohing and aahing over the "exotic landscape." Within the first half-hour of his shift, Maul found himself having to restrain at least four little kids from climbing the fences to "pat the nice Wampas," as well as extinguishing two illegal chip fires, much to the dismay of their proud builders.

After two hours, Maul sat by the geysers, disheveled and smoldering with rage as he watched the little children giggle and hold their rosy little noses as Old Fart gave another blast. He found himself wishing soulfully for Obi-Wan.

Just then he heard a familiar voice start up: "Oh look, Master Yoda, they named one--"

"Shut up you must!" cried the muppet. "Heard it I have."

Oh, Force. Obi-Wan was there, and Maul was wearing a Smokiee the Wookiee hat. As the Jedi approached, Maul tried very hard to blend in with the background, looking raptly out over the frozen terrain.

He heard footsteps behind him. They stopped, and Maul squeezed his eyes shut, clenching his teeth.

"Maul?" said Obi-Wan, disbelievingly.

Shit. Maul turned around slowly, narrowing his eyes at the padawan.

Obi-Wan made a little high-pitched choking sound, then surveyed Maul's outfit, dimpling in spite of himself. His eyes swept over the Smokiee the Wookiee logo on the hat, the little fuzzy earflaps, the puffy jacket, the suspenders.

"Gee, Maul," he said, trying very hard not to laugh, "it's, um... cute." Kenobi dissolved into helpless snickers.

Maul looked up to see Qui-Gon, Mace, and Yoda staring at him, expressions varying from insane amusement to stunned amazement. Maul slammed his head against the frame of the speeder, reducing Smokiee into a wrinkled, unravelling pulp.

Life hates me.

Qui-Gon walked over to Obi-Wan as the padawan recovered and picked himself up, never taking his eyes off Maul.

"Mace, Yoda, and I are going skinny dipping in the hot springs," Qui-Gon said, smiling. "Want to come?"

"Hey!" cried Maul, "That's illegal! Try it and I'm turning you in!"

Qui-Gon shot him a scathing glance, then turned expectantly back to Obi-Wan. Maul felt his rage becoming complete.

"You guys go ahead," said Obi-Wan. "I'll catch up."

"I'm warning you..." snarled Maul as Qui-Gon, Mace, and Yoda started off.

"Let them go," said Obi-Wan, stepping in front of Maul. He smiled, his eyes flicking up to the limp fedora. "Smokiee the Wookiee?" he queried casually, suppressing a grin.

Maul's horns clanged against the speeder frame. It was going to be a very long week.


The next fifteen minutes were pure hell. Obi-Wan, after contemplating skinny dipping with Yoda, had decided to hang around and help Maul with crowd control. It all would have been fine, except for the fact that Obi-Wan refused to neck in public with anyone in a beige snowsuit and Smokiee the Wookiee hat. Maul silently vowed revenge against Sidious, the padawan, the tourists (who were even now trying to engage the local Tauntauns in a snowball fight), and especially Smokiee the bloodiee Wookiee.

Suddenly, Maul heard the sound of a snow speeder approaching at breakneck speed. He looked up just in time to see a speeder bike fly past, carrying a small, green, unimaginably wrinkly, butt-naked, steaming little muppet. As it went past, the smell of beer filled the air.

"Hide from me you cannot, Sith scum!" cried the thing on the bike as it flew by.

No one moved for quite some time. "Ew," said Maul.


Maul was amusing himself with building little slush cubes and trying to drop them down Obi-Wan's collar with the Force, when a trio of the strangest characters Maul had ever seen outside the Gray Side came walking up the trail. They consisted of a giant bug, something that vaguely resembled a rabid Ewok, and a fat guy in white spandex and a cloak.

"Oh look, Space Ghost," said the bug to the fat one, eyeing the nearby sulfuric geyser, "they named one after you."

"Hey, shuddup!" cried Space Ghost. The Ewok-thing started laughing uproariously.

"Hey, Brak," said the bug, turning to it, "why don't you go pat the nice Wampa?"

"Ooooh!" said Brak. "It's so cute n' fuzzy!" He started for the fence. "Hey, mister nice fuzzy Wampa! My name's Brak! What's yours? Do you like pickled eggs?"

Obi-Wan glanced over at Maul with a look that distinctly said, "You handle this."

Maul growled and walked over to the toothy Ewok. "Excuse me, sir," he said mechanically, the exact same speech he had given about twenty other people already, "but these animals are very dangerous. Please stay within the fence. That's why it's there."

"Oooooh!" cried Brak. "Smokiee the Wookiee!" Maul groaned. "Smokiee says all the little animals are our friends," Brak recited mindlessly. "That means Mister Wampa too." He started to climb the fence again.

Maul finally lost it. "Fine!" he shouted. "Go pat nice Mister Wampa, you pathetic brainless twerp! It would be a pleasure to watch nice Mister Wampa tear you into tiny bloody pieces and devour you messily in front of all these other tree-hugging nimrods! I would enjoy it! While you're at it, why don't you take your freakish little friends with you? Die! All of you! Perish miserably in flames like the egg-sucking, juice-drinking, kitten-kissing bunch of sorry little saps you are! Die, die, die, die, die!! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!"

Maul stood panting and foaming in front of the stunned tourists. He felt better. The Ewok's mouth hung open and his lower lip started quivering.

"You mean I can't pat nice Mister Wampa?" he whimpered.

Maul grinned maniacally. "Oh no, dear, you go right ahead," he said through clenched teeth.

Brak brightened. "Oh!" he said cheerfully. "Okay!" He jumped over the fence and trotted off towards the lone Wampa slobbering congenially by a steaming pool.

"Uh, Brak," called the fat one, "I don't think that's such a good idea. Didn't you hear what the ranger man said?"

Brak didn't answer, too rapt in the Wampa as it looked up, fangs dripping.

"Oh no, Brak!" said Space Ghost. "That animal is dangerous! Don't worry, I'll save you!" He attempted a dramatic leap over the fence, but was nearly strangled as his shiny gold cape caught on the post.

Maul settled back for the first entertainment of the day. This promised to be interesting; while Space Ghost was struggling in vain to free his cape from the fence, nice Mister Wampa was playing a game of solo ping-pong with Brak as the ball.

Obi-Wan appeared behind Maul. "Shouldn't you do something?" he asked casually. "I don't think my da will be terribly pleased if someone sues the park for casualties."

Suddenly, visions of purple lightening danced in Maul's head, accompanied by Sidious's sadistic cackling. He cursed violently and somersaulted over the fence, the fuzzy ear flaps on his Smokiee fedora flying out to the sides.

He ran up to the Wampa, still engaged in its game of Brakminton. He gathered all his rage at his master, Obi-Wan, and the tourists, and mixed in his smoldering rage at Smokiee the Wookiee, and threw it all at the Wampa in a Force-aided punch that could have dented lead.

The Wampa sailed backwards over the frozen landscape, landing with a dramatic plume of fluffy white fur in a snowbank fifty feet away.

Brak picked himself up gingerly and looked up at the fuming Sith lord. Maul saw the light of hero-worship dawn in his beady little eyes.

"Oh no," groaned Maul as the little thing wrapped its fuzzy arms around his knees.

"Oh, thank you, Mister Park Ranger Man! You saved my life!"

"Yeah, sure, whatever," grumbled Maul, trying to shake Brak off without touching him.

Maul managed finally to break free of Brak and hop back over the fence, severely disgruntled. He was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and warm handshakes. A news reporter from Channel Five pointed a microphone in his face and began swamping him with questions about his background.

"Aaaaaaargh!!" cried Maul, and elbowed his way out of the crowd, setting course for the ranger station, full speed ahead.


"Well, my apprentice," said Sidious on the way back to Coruscant, "you have done well; I have now gained the votes of virtually everyone affiliated with the Hoth environmental programs except the Wampa Conservation Bureau, and you will be dealing with them yourself at home."

Maul was too busy reducing his Smokiee the Wookiee fedora (which the park had let him keep as a gift of gratitude) to smoking shreds to take much notice of what Sidious was saying.


Finally back in his own apartment, in his own tattered jeans, playing his own Jedi Tomb Raiders game, Maul was interrupted by a knock on his door. He growled and ignored it, concentrating only on making kabobs of the Jedi parading across the screen.

The knock was repeated again, louder.

"What?" he demanded.

"Uh, mister Maul?" came a hesitant voice through the door.

"Oh great," grumbled Maul.

"Um... I just saw you on TV, and I..."

Maul jumped up from his game, yanked open the door, and turned on the Glare. Kenobi was leaning against the doorframe outside, grinning.

"Ooh, my hero," he smirked.

Maul grabbed the padawan by the collar and yanked him inside. It might not be such a bad day after all.



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