Life Lessons at the Sith Academy, Part XVII
[Read Siubhan's author bio]
Thanks to Melissa, Rose, and Katherine for encouragement. Extra thanks to Rose for giving me a great line to steal.
Obi-Wan was meditating in his usual fashion (i.e. hanging off his balcony by his knees) when Maul stepped out onto his own balcony and let loose a primal scream that rattled windows for a five-mile radius and set off several car alarms to boot. The shock nearly sent Obi-Wan hurtling 42 stories toward certain death, but he managed to hang on and haul himself back to safety. "What's wrong, Maul?"
A wild-eyed Maul turned to face the padawan. "I can't take it anymore," he croaked. Then he turned on his heel, marched into his apartment, and Obi-Wan heard the sound of Maul's front door opening.
Running through his own apartment, he dashed out his front door and into the hallway in a failed attempt to intercept his crazed neighbor. "Where are you going?" he cried as Maul stepped into the waiting elevator.
"Feed my cat," Maul said as the doors closed.
Heading back to his apartment, Obi-Wan muttered, "This is not good"
Firing up his vidphone, Obi-Wan dialed up Senator Palpatine's office while mentally rehearsing what he was going to say. "Ah, good afternoon, son," Palpatine beamed. "To what do I owe this call?"
"Maul went nuts and took off." Screw the rehearsed speeches. The direct approach would get this over with faster.
"What do you mean, 'went nuts'?"
"He walked onto the balcony, screamed at the top of his lungs, said he couldn't take it anymore, and took off."
"That would explain why my car alarm went off. Did he say anything else?"
"He told me to feed his cat."
"How very unlike him."
"I know. He usually makes her fend for herself."
"I thought we might want to team up and go looking for him."
"I'm sure he'll turn up eventually, my dear boy. He's just high-strung. I'm sure it's nothing."
"'Feed my cat'?"
Palpatine sighed. "Never mind. You're right. Let's see what we can find out separately and then meet up at your place once we're through."
"Sounds good. Thanks, da."
"Thank you son."
Both men hung up, and both cast their Force-senses out to try and pick up Maul's trail. There it was, plain as day. He hadn't done anything to try and hide himself as he made his beeline out of the apartment. Both men called up a map of Coruscant and located the exact spot where the trail went cold. Both men checked the address in the Coruscant Yellow Pages. Both men went, "Poodoo."
"I hope you packed warm clothes," Palpatine chided as Obi-Wan met him at the SHITS terminal.
"I can't believe he took a transport back to Hoth," Obi-Wan grumbled.
"I can't believe he found a transport back to Hoth!" Palpatine groaned. "Where did he get the money to charter a private ship?"
"When was the last time you saw your credit card?" Obi-Wan asked.
Palpatine patted his pockets and scowled. "Well this will make our trip a little more difficult."
Obi-Wan smiled and said, "I got Mary Sue to lend us a corporate ship. Terminal MS-3.1"
My Apprentice hopped on Palpatine's wheeled luggage and prepared to go for a ride. "Why did you bring her?" Palpatine asked.
With glazed eyes, Obi-Wan replied, "I thought she could help us."
Palpatine stared down at the little cat with a cross expression, which quickly vanished and was replaced with a glassy-eyed one. "You're so right."
The little cat gleefully enjoyed her luggage ride through the terminal. Now this was the way to travel.
As the ship exited Coruscant's atmosphere, Sidious sat in his lavish private quarters, trying to determine exactly what it was that made his apprentice snap. Was it the bikini wax he made Maul give him last night? Asking him to sell Mary Kay cosmetics door to door in a pink smock? Did he make him hide his package one time too many? Was it his insistence that Maul use Windows 3.1 as his operating system? Perhaps telling Maul that he should get a job dressing up as the Hamburgler at the local McEwok's was the straw that broke the apprentice's back.
Ah well. It didn't really matter what did it. Most Sith apprentices snapped at least once during their training. Sidious thought back to his own breakdown oh so many years ago. He'd actually...oh, the horror!...actually slept with a woman. Mind you, Dartha was fairly masculine as women went, and he did end up with three children, two of which were worth admitting to.
With any luck, Maul hadn't done anything too stupid. Sidious chuckled to himself. Of course Maul had done something stupid! At least it was guaranteed to be entertaining.
Obi-Wan desperately tried to meditate in his quarters, but Mary Sue didn't have anything to hang off of in this room, which was odd. And he hadn't packed his pogo stick, so there went that idea. He rooted through his luggage and pulled out his book of Tom of Finland pics, but somehow they just didn't hold his interest right now. He idly thought about playing with My Apprentice, but the glare she shot at him disabused him of that notion.
Dammit, what the hell made Maul go over the edge? Was it that day job of his that he wouldn't talk about? The squalor of his apartment? Maybe it was his damned cat. He exchanged another glare with My Apprentice, and she dashed over to try and savage his ankles. "I'm wearing Doc Martens, you stupid furball!" he yelled, and defeated, she slunk under the bed and hocked up a hairball.
Obi-Wan sighed and sat down on the bed. It was a long way to Hoth, and he was bored. He cast his eyes about the room in a desperate search for entertainment, and suddenly his whole face lit up. Could it be? He dashed across the room to the bookcase and let loose a triumphant shout. "The complete collections of Desert Peach and Love and Rockets! Yes!!!!"
The ship landed on Hoth, and the two men stood just inside the airlock, steeling themselves to go out to the freezing-cold surface.
"Thermal underwear?" Palpatine asked.
"One soon-to-be cold, wet, and generally pissed off cat?"
"You did offer her the little snow suit, didn't you?"
"Yeah. She wouldn't wear it."
"Right. Let's head on out."
The door opened, and the two men started shivering despite all their snow gear. They headed down the ramp, followed by My Apprentice, and hit the snow. The moment her paws touched snow, she got the most indignant expression and zoomed back up the ramp, going ,Cold! Wet! Ick!
"Leave her there," Palpatine mused. "We'll do better without her."
Palpatine and Obi-Wan parked their speeder and started scanning the horizon again. An hour earlier, they'd found an empty escape pod with Tauntaun tracks leading away from it (and a pile of Maul's clothes in it), and now they were following the most prominent tracks. The probe droids had been sent to follow the smaller sets of tracks.
"Anything yet?" Palpatine asked as he scanned to the north.
"Nothing," Obi-Wan said, still looking south. "Wait, I see Tauntauns."
"Wait...I think there's a Wampa there too."
"Hmm. Ah well."
"A black-furred Wampa."
"A short black-furred Wampa with ten horns."
"Did you say ten horns?"
"Didn't Maul used to have fur?"
They quickly stashed their binoculars away and sped off to intercept Maul.
"Maul!" Obi-Wan called as he hopped off the speeder. "Maul! Are you okay?"
"Pay attention, boy!" Palpatine barked as he followed on Obi-Wan's heels, movement somewhat hampered by his lamé snowsuit.
Maul ignored them and let loose a husky bark, which was answered by a neighboring Tauntaun.
"Look here Maul," Palpatine commanded. "You're coming home with us and that's final!"
"Everyone gets homesick," Obi-Wan said gently, slowly moving towards his glossy-furred neighbor who now looked like a short Sasquatch with horns. Maul stepped back warily. "It's okay. I mean, I understand that you wanted to come back and visit, but you've got to come home when you're done. You belong with us, in civilization." He paused. "Do you even understand a word I'm saying?"
"I don't think so," Palpatine commented. "He's gone totally feral."
Maul barked again, and the same Tauntaun answered.
"But it's just been two days!"
"Well, Maul's something of an overachiever when it comes to being unpleasant."
"How do you go feral in two days after spending two decades in civilization?"
"I have to say, in a sick way, I'm impressed."
"How the hell did he grow the fur back?"
"I have no idea. But once again, I'm impressed."
Maul sidled up to the Tauntaun and nuzzled her flank with his horns.
"Do you think that's his mother?" Obi-Wan asked.
By Ducky. Click to see larger image.
Palpatine watched as the Tauntaun started responding in a rather un-motherly fashion. "Actually, I believe she's his mate."
"Fucking hell. All right, let's try this again. Hey Maul! I have beer!" Obi-Wan pulled a Pete's from his pocket and waved it in Maul's direction.
Maul looked over, sniffed in Obi-Wan's general direction, and continued getting busy with his Tauntaun mate.
"Maybe if I open it up he'll be able to smell it better. Bloody hell. It froze."
"I have a tranquilizer gun back at the ship..."
"No! I want to coax him back to civilization. There's a reason why he came here, and I want to give him a reason to leave. I've got stuff on the ship that'll lure him back." Obi-Wan fumbled with his communications bracelet and ordered the pilot to bring the ship to their location.
A cacophony of grunts and honks drew their attention back to Maul and his mate, and both men winced at the spectacle before them. "Maybe he just came back for the sex?" Palpatine offered.
"Goddamn it, Maul! You said we were exclusive!" Obi-Wan yelled.
Palpatine smiled and soaked up his whelp's jealously and anger, then said, "You do realize that Tauntauns bond for life, don't you?"
"Maul's not a Tauntaun."
"Right now, I don't think he cares." Chuckling internally, he added, "Perhaps there is a way."
Obi-Wan whirled on him and barked, "What?"
"Tauntauns are matriarchal. You could always fight her for him."
"Fight a Tauntaun? Are you nuts?"
The grunting and honking got louder.
"Fine!" Obi-Wan cried. "Anything to make this stop!" Picking up a clump of snow, he launched it at Maul's mate's head and yelled, "Hey bitch! He's mine."
She turned and glared at Obi-Wan and snorted menacingly.
Striding forward, Obi-Wan ripped Maul off of her, flinging him several meters through the air. "Keep your grubby Tauntaun paws off of him, you whore!"
One swift headbutt later, Obi-Wan found himself headfirst in a snowdrift and questioning his sanity. Pulling himself out, he yelled, "Okay, you got lucky that time. But he's mine, and I'm not leaving without him!" Because now, I'm going to fight dirty, he added mentally.
Five minutes and several unauthorized applications of the Force later, Maul's Tauntaun mate lowered her head in surrender just as the ship landed. The Tauntauns circled Maul and gently butted him over towards Obi-Wan.
"Well, I think you won him," Palpatine beamed.
A battered and bloody Obi-Wan sighed in relief. Maul eyed him warily. "Hey, even the Tauntauns say you're mine now," Obi-Wan joked.
"Okay, we're still being Mister Non-Verbal," Obi-Wan noted. "Hang on." He zipped up the ramp and came back with a Jedi Roadkill XXXIII cartridge. "New release of Jedi Roadkill."
Maul leaned forward and sniffed the cartridge.
"See? You like Jedi Roadkill. And if you go inside, there's a PlayStation and a large-screen television."
"He's not budging," Palpatine noted helpfully.
"Be right back." Obi-Wan zipped back up the ramp again and pushed the television and PlayStation into view, then ran back and grabbed a piping hot pizza, laying a trail of slices from the television to Maul's feet.
Maul squatted, sniffed at the piece closest to him, and gobbled it up.
"Good boy!" Obi-Wan enthused. "Look, more pizza!"
Maul stepped forward and ate one more piece, then skittered back nervously.
"Okay, hang on." Obi-Wan dashed back into the ship, and placed a full six-pack of Pete's on top of the television. "You have to go up there to get it," he said. "It'll freeze if I bring it out here. No beer on Hoth, Maul."
Maul took a few tentative steps toward the ramp, then looked sideways at Sidious and ran back to join the herd. They nudged him back to the ramp.
"Are you sure you don't want me to get my tranquilizer gun?" Palpatine asked. "We can shoot him now and then reacquaint him with civilization somewhere warm."
"Just let me try one more thing. I was hoping it wouldn't come to this," Obi-Wan grumbled as he headed back up the ramp. A couple of minutes later, he emerged in his kilt, teeth chattering furiously. "This had better fucking work. I'm getting frostbite in some scary places."
Maul's jaw dropped. "Kilt," he grunted.
"Y-y-y-y-yes. K-k-k-kilt." Obi-Wan chattered.
"Kilt," Maul repeated.
"Kilt. Sex. Now." He strode forward, tossed Obi-Wan over his shoulder, and ran up the ramp.
Palpatine dashed up right behind them, shut the doors, and ordered the pilot to take off. Checking his parka, he smiled to himself as he noted that his little hidden video camera had recorded the whole thing. Ah yes, Maul's always guaranteed to be entertaining, and my whelp's not so bad himself when he gets his dander up. Now, should I keep this around to show to Maul when he's being uppity, or should I edit out my son and send it to Unsolved Mysteries? He cackled out loud and thought, Or why not do both?
Maul had come back fully to civilization, but he wasn't letting on yet.
"Maul, how are you doing?" Obi-Wan asked, flicking piles of shed fur off the bed.
"Kilt. Sex. Now."
"We've had sex seventeen times. Aren't you tired yet?"
"Kilt. Sex. Now."
"I took the kilt off hours ago. Don't you want some beer or something?"
"Kilt. Sex. Now."
With a wicked grin, Obi-Wan said, "Who am I to argue?" and jumped his now hair-free lover. Feral boy was surprisingly good in the sack, so Obi-Wan wasn't going to waste this opportunity.
As the two of them got busy, My Apprentice trotted in and stopped dead in her tracks in the doorway. There was fur everywhere! Long fur! Huge clumps of it!
How dare he?!? she thought indignantly.
Well, there was only one remedy. Even if it killed her, My Apprentice was going to out-shed Maul. She trotted to the corner and set her shedding volume to "extra-high." She'd win this one, even if it took the rest of her life.
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