Author's Note: Plotbunnies have been nibbling at me lately and my muse is back, so I'm writing more of this story. I have thought up a few more insane pranks that Ani will be playing on his favorite victims, especially Master Mace. A paranoid Mace is just sooooo funny, don't you agree? Chocolate chip cookies to anyone who can guess where these prank ideas came from! These new chapters are dedicated to my friend Katie who graduated last Wednesday. Congrats!! PS… this chapter continues from Chapter 50 so you should probably read that first.
That same night a shadowy figure crept into the boy's room hauling a large, equally shadowy thing. Quartzite was the only witness, his eyes open and watching. The smell was familiar so he remained where he was and watched. The thing was deposited on Anakin's bed so it crouched over him. Satisfied with its handiwork, the mysterious shadow departed.
Later, Anakin's eyelids started to flutter and the boy slowly inched towards wakefulness. His eyelids parted and he noisily smacked his dry lips. His blue eyes finally opened all the way and he stared upward … and froze.
A huge black and yellow arachnid crouched over him, his long mandibles clicking softly as it stared at him with its many black, beady eyes.
Anakin swiftly knocked the giant hairy spider off himself, the Force flowing through his body rapidly. His heart pounded in his chest and beads of salty sweat broke out across his brow, but he smoothly rolled off his bed in a single move and lightly landed on the balls of his bare feet. The room's light flickered on with a single thought, an elementary Force move. Ani was ready to dart in any direction required, but the giant spider continued to lay practically motionless on it's back where it had landed on the floor, it's eight hairy legs poking up in the air. Only its mandibles continued to move, opening and closing in a steady rhythm. Now that the room's light shown the creature more clearly, heat started to creep up into the young padawan's face.
The thing wasn't even REAL!
"What a stupa I am! Fooled by a papier-mâché spider!" Anakin's heart slowly returned to normal as he walked around the bed to peer at the gift his master had given him during the night. It was a cheaply made device, mostly stiff bits of wire, papier-mâché and bits of fake fur. The eyes were nothing but glowing round circuit lights borrowed from somewhere and the mandibles a simple moving part that ran on a battery. Obi-Wan had obviously spent very little time on it, but then his master was not the mechanical genius. Still, the prop had worked just fine.
Picking it up, Anakin placed it carefully in a corner of his room. It was a kind of neat decoration, spooky and dark. He liked dark things, mostly just because the Jedi hated them. The sun was starting to rise and the sky was tinged pinkish-yellow. Soon the Temple would wake up and he would have to head off to school…
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan called from the hallway outside his room. "Can you get to school by yourself? I need to go buy a new computer. It seems my last one was destroyed due to a certain person's prank!"
The young Padawan gulped at the news. He hadn't meant to destroy his master's computer! How was he to know that Obi-Wan would turn into a caveman and totally smash it? "I'm sorry, Master! I could build you a new one…"
"Well, I need one today, Anakin. I have work to do." The older man informed him. "I need to do research for the Council, about all this Sith activity. The Sith have never been so active before, attacking the Temple with these dastardly schemes…"
Anakin placed both hands over his mouth to keep the snickers in, but then he reined his emotions in. He shouldn't be laughing when it was clear he was in big trouble. But the thing is that it wasn't the Sith at all, it was just his pranks. How could the entire Jedi Council be so blind? Did they really think Sith would do such things? Under control and acting the proper Padawan, Anakin opened his bedroom door and padded out barefoot to stand in front of his slightly sour master. "Do you want me to go with you, Master? Buying a new computer can be complicated and if you're not careful, the salesperson will sell you a piece of junk!"
"No, I can do it myself, Anakin. You need to attend your classes. Truthfully, that old one was running slow anyway. I should have replaced it a few years ago but it never seemed all that important." Obi-Wan was already dressed in clean robes and his fluffy hair was properly combed so not a trace of the wild, boot-swinging madman remained. Anakin, truthfully, was disappointed he hadn't captured the entire show on film. It would have been fun to watch again. "There's cereal and fruit in the kitchen for breakfast and you had better head straight to school. No detours!"
"Yes, Master!" Anakin promised, nodding his head dutifully. "Thank you for the creepy spider. It looks cool!"
Obi-Wan sighed, shaking his head. With a final glance at his young pupil, Obi-Wan headed out the door. Out in the hall, he almost tripped over an unconscious Master Mace who had apparently fallen over while carrying a trash bag out of his quarters. A large bump was forming on the Jedi's bald, shining head. The bag itself was suspicious looking, bulging at the seams and had a large prominent HAZZARD sticker on it. Master Obi-Wan shook his head sadly. Mace by himself was a hazard. That sticker should be on his forehead, not on the garbage sack. And why had Mace try to carry a too-heavy bag of trash? Why have all that trash for in the first place? Jedi were not supposed to collect or cherish material things. "I'll never understand that man…"
The urge to move the bright yellow sticker itched at him. Sending his senses outward down the long, shiny corridor he sensed that all the other Jedi were still in their rooms. Using the Force, he neatly pulled the sticker off the garbage bag and reapplied it to Mace's forehead. The dirty dead done, Obi-Wan left Mace where he lay and strolled down to the landing bay, whistling a jaunty tune. He climbed into his air speeder and started the engine. Lifting off smoothly, he flew to the nearest computer store. Parking in the almost empty lot, he headed into the brightly lit store.
"Master Jedi!" A cleanly dressed human called as he hurried up to Obi-Wan. Except for his topknot of bright blue hair he appeared ordinary enough. "What can I do for you today?"
"I need a new computer." Obi-Wan stated. "My other one died."
"Well, you came to the right place." The man replied as he led Obi-Wan deeper into the store. "We have the latest model right here, the Sistha model. It was just released three months ago and is perfect for all your computer needs. It can run all your programs, has a ton of memory, and comes ready for the Intergalactic Web, plus it can easily hook up to your other computer-related devices. It even comes with a free monitor!"
Obi-Wan stared at the computer the man pointed at. It looked exactly like his old one more or less, except the monitor had slightly rounded corners. "I never heard of the Sistha before…"
"It's a huge improvement over the former model. It's much faster and can do many things at once. It's ready to use right out of the box. You just need to hook it to a power source."
Obi-Wan rubbed his chin, thinking. A frown appeared on his face. "Sistha sounds an awful lot like Sith…"
"Oh, I never noticed that." The clerk replied. "I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Sistha simply means '600' I was told, as this is the six hundredth model of the operating system."
"Are they any other models besides this one?"
"Oh, we no longer carry those and they're all sold out anyway. This new one is much better! Just try it and you'll see." The man grinned broadly, hoping to make the sale.
"Well, I suppose I have no choice, do I?" Obi-Wan sighed but then shrugged. What did it matter what it was called? It wasn't like the Sith were building computer operating systems and busy marketing them. That would be ridiculous! The Sith had no time for such an endeavor as they, they meaning a Master and an apprentice, spent all their time annoying the Jedi at the Temple. Besides, it did look almost like the old computer he had just lost, the one he had inherited from Qui-Gon. "And it's ready to use out of the box?"
"Of course! Even a child could run this model, one of your Younglings. Yet it can handle the most complicated programs with ease…"
"All right. I'll take one." Obi-Wan pulled out his Jedi credit card to pay for the purchase. The Temple would pay for it as it was job-related. "Have a droid take it out to my speeder. I have work to do."
"Right away, Master Jedi!" Calling for a droid, the clerk ordered it to take a boxed computer and monitor out to the Jedi's airspeeder.
Anakin sat in class, bored. His favorite part of school, lightsaber dueling, was already over for the day and now the teacher would start droning on about behavior in Social Sciences As Jedi often dealt with the scum of the galaxy, an understanding of different types of behavior was required.
"Now you will be doing a project this week for Social Sciences." Master Yaddle informed the students. She was the same alien species as Master Yoda and had large pointed ears on a short body. "The completed project is due on Friday. As today is Monday, you will have plenty of time to come up with an idea and finish it. The project must examine and study some type of behavior in an intelligent species. Everyone have their video cameras to document their projects? Good…"
The class groaned loudly, Anakin perhaps the loudest. Projects of this nature were in some ways worst than doing research in the library and writing essays! And what could he possibly do it on? There were so many types of behavior and all the Jedi were so stuffy and dry. His eyes drifted to the clock on the classroom wall and he grinned, his mood lifting somewhat. It was almost lunchtime! Maybe being in the noisy cafeteria would inspire him. Yaddle motioned for the Padawans to follow her out of the room and he dutifully got in line with the rest. As he trudged down the hallway, his thoughts drifted to his Master. He hoped Obi-Wan hadn't been scammed by some computer store…
"Drat!" Obi-Wan exclaimed as he tried to untangle a large clump of computer cables. He had managed to get the new monitor and computer home to his quarters without mishap, being extra careful when he neared his quarters. Master Mace was highly unpredictable and loved to litter the corridor with a wide assortment of trash. He had already set the new computer and monitor onto his desk, but somehow the cables had gotten tangled. Finally they came free and he sighed in relief. Plugging each cable into the appropriate location, he set about hooking everything up. "Now where did that keyboard go to…"
Obi-Wan shifted through a large pile of cardboard, packing materials and the other assorted bits that had come with the new computer. After moving everything three times and growing more frustrated, he found the keyboard wedged way under his desk. Grabbing it, he connected it to the proper slot. Going over a mental checklist, he decided he had properly connected all the main components: computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. "Now for my other equipment…"
He still had his scanner; printer and other needed things from his older computer. Luckily, he had saved all the software for them in his desk drawer. Smiling that he was almost finished with setting his new computer up, he pressed the button to turn the computer on. The screen lit up and colorful graphics scrolled across the screen. "With luck, I'll soon be able to start on my work."
The start-up graphics finally faded and he placed the scanner's software disk into the drive. The drive whirled noisily as it read the disk and then a message appeared on the screen.
ERROR. INCORRECT DISK. PLEASE ONLY USE SISTHA DISKS.
"What?" Obi-Wan muttered in confusion as he rubbed his chin. Why wouldn't his software install? It had worked perfectly fine on his old computer. Digging out his receipt, Obi-Wan called up the store where he had bought the new computer. "Hello? I just bought a new computer from you this morning and my software doesn't want to install…"
"Is the software for Sistha?" The voice on the phone asked.
"Well, no. It's from my old computer, for my scanner. I need to scan unfamiliar items often so I can use the Jedi Archives to identify them…"
"Well, I'm afraid it won't work. Sistha only uses software for the Sistha. Just out of curiosity, what operating system is the old software for?"
"Kree…" Obi-Wan stated.
"Wow…that's a totally ancient operating system. I didn't even know any of those were still in use…" The voice replied. "You need to come back down and buy new hardware to go with the new computer. Then you'll be all ready to do your work or whatever you want to do."
The Jedi frowned. The morning was already gone and he still hadn't started his work. Glancing at his wrist chronometer, he saw the lunch hour was just starting. Perhaps if he hurried, he could buy the new stuff, grab lunch and be back in his quarters working before one. "Very well. I'll be down there shortly."
After grabbing a burger and drink from the cafeteria, he hurried out to his airspeeder. Arriving at the store, he hurried within and was greeted by the same clerk with the blue topknot of hair. "I need a new scanner and printer."
The clerk led him past several isles until he came to the one with printers. "Do you do a lot of printing? We have heavy-duty office models and then we have ones for the average person who prints things only occasionally."
"Occasionally." Most of his reports were handed in to the Jedi Council over their own in Temple system. Still, he did print the occasional thing when he required a hardcopy and putting it onto a Padd just didn't work. Anakin also had a strange habit of printing out pictures he found on the Intergalactic Web and sticking them on his bedroom walls. As the boy didn't have his own printer, he used Obi-Wan's.
The man pointed one out on the shelf. "This is a nice model that is simple to operate. It runs on both Pax and Sistha. It even comes with two free ink cartridges."
"What's Pax?" Obi-Wan asked.
"The operating system that was out before Sistha was released. And it's way after the Kree you've been using."
"That one sounds fine." Obi-Wan decided as he read the system requirements on the box, paying close attention to the line that proudly declared "Sistha ready!". The scanners were in the next isle. There were many simple ones made for scanning flat objects but Obi-Wan needed a more complex one for three-dimensional scanning. Those, of course, were more expensive. There was only one model of that type of scanner on the shelf and it, too, proclaimed that it was "Sistha ready". Handing over his Jedi credit card, he paid for the items and a droid carried them out to his airspeeder.
Once back in his apartment, he took the scanner out of its box and started to install the software. It appeared to install without a hitch so he installed the printer software next. Deciding he had better try the new scanner out, he opened the lid and placed his lightsaber within. The lightsaber floated above the scanner bed and walls, just as it should so the computer could capture a three-dimensional image. Finding the correct program, Obi-Wan clicked on it.
ERROR: UNABLE TO LOCATE SCANNER.
"Now what's wrong?" The Jedi grumbled. "I already installed it…"
A headache was beginning to pound behind his eyes and in his temple. Anakin had warned him about salesmen selling him junk. Was that what this new computer was, a piece of junk? No, he was jumping to conclusions. Perhaps he had missed a step somewhere. He would have to check the Installation Guide. Digging through the now larger pile of boxes and packing material, he was unable to find it at all. The headache grew worst. In desperation, he grabbed the box and checked the list of contents. Surely they had included a user's guide to help with problems!
"Aha! The guide is on the software disk!" Obi-Wan exclaimed. Moving the mouse to click on the proper area, he noticed that the cursor was moving oddly on the screen. It seemed to be lagging for some reason. Finally, he got it to click on the proper logo. The user's guide for the scanner started to come up on the screen and then it froze. "Now what's wrong? What kind of drat computer is this? My old one worked better than this!"
Grumbling, Obi-Wan stabbed at the Start button to restart the computer. The monitor went black and then it restarted, the colorful images flowing across the screen smoothly. Once again he tried to access the scanner's user guide.
ERROR: FILE NOT FOUND.
"This is total nonsense!" Really annoyed now, Obi-Wan decided he would go online to find out what was wrong with his scanner. The manufacturer would have a website and he should find a solution easily. Holding his breath and hoping the computer would work, as it should, he clicked the button to go online. The screen changed and he saw the usual news reports on his screen as he always did upon going onto the Web. Moving his mouse, he saw the cursor was once again lagging way behind and within a few seconds his screen froze. "Drat! Not again! What is wrong with this thing?"
Truly exasperated, he got up from his seat and started to pace about. His boot got tangled in the large pile of packing material and he started to fall. Waving his arms about wildly, he lost his balance and landed on several boxes, crushing them flat. Struggling, the Jedi pushed off the now crushed pile and crawled out of his bedroom on hands and knees. Checking his chronometer, he saw to his dismay that Anakin wouldn't be home for several hours yet. "Now what am I supposed to do?"
Heading towards the kitchen, Obi-Wan drank a glass of milk. There had to be something to do about this problem, but what? Suddenly an idea came to him and he smiled slightly. Rinsing the milk glass out, he placed it in the sink and headed out the door. Going directly across the hall, he rang Master Mace's doorbell. Perhaps he knew about computers…
Obi-Wan waited patiently, tapping the toe of his right boot on the floor. He could feel the time ticking away. It was clear that Mace wasn't home. Perhaps he was teaching a class or out on Council business. Glancing up and down the empty hall, Obi-Wan opened the door to Mace's quarters and slunk within. Pausing just within the doorway, he sensed the apartment was empty. He would go look at Mace's computer, to see if he had one of these new Sisthas. Yes, there was nothing wrong with looking…
Entering Mace's bedroom, Obi-Wan saw the computer right away. To his joy, it looked exactly like his old one! Turning it on, he saw it was just like his old one; the same system and it even had all the same programs. Growing excited, he noted that Mace had all the other hardware, too. He had a printer, a scanner and a few other nice gadgets. There were even a few boxes of unused ink sitting on the shelf. Mace's quarters were a real goldmine! Yes, he hit the mother load this time!
Grinning, Obi-Wan wasted no time in unplugging all of Mace's computer equipment and using the Force to float it across the hall to his own bedroom. Then he transferred the new computer and the unusable hardware into Mace's bedroom. He was sure Master Mace would love the new Sistha computer. With any luck, he might not even notice it right away. They did almost look the same. Deciding he best get rid of the evidence from his quarters, Obi-Wan hid the empty boxes and packing materials in the nearest broom closet. It would be safe there as no one ever used those brooms as far as he knew. His headache fading like magic, Obi-Wan happily returned to his bedroom, turned on the computer and started working.
Unaware of the bright yellow HAZZARD sticker glued on his forehead, Master Mace had strolled about the Jedi Temple all day. Everywhere he went he was greeted by broad smiles and a few startled expressions. Mace was pleased that he was so popular and that just seeing him in the corridors brightened other people's day. Now he needed to go talk with Master Yoda, so he hurried down the sweeping broad staircase, his long robe trailing out behind him. Soon he reached the room where his friend taught elementary lightsaber dueling to the Younglings.
"Good afternoon, Master Yoda." Mace said and then turned to the Younglings. "Hello, class."
Loud snickers greeted him as most of the Younglings covered their mouths with their free hands.
"Hazzard. What this be?" Master Yoda inquired, one brow rising in curiosity. "Have Hazzard sticker on forehead you do. Want to know why I do. Explain do tell."
"Sticker? What sticker?" Mace asked as a hand rose to touch his forehead. His dark eyes widened in surprise when his questing fingers found the smooth paper. "What the … it was the SITH! They want to discredit me as a Jedi Master!"
"Remove it you should." Yoda advised.
Without another word, Master Mace darted out of the training room and ran into the nearest bathroom, almost knocking over poor Yarael Poof in the process. The Quermian wished his expertise in Jedi Mind Tricks worked on Mace as it would save the other many trips to the infirmary, but alas, it didn't. Poof leaped out of the way, jumping straight up over Mace's shining baldhead, doing an acrobatic summersault in midair. However, he hadn't taken the low hanging light fixture into consideration before jumping, so his giraffe-long mint green neck struck it. Sparks flew and hot sizzling filled the air, then Poof fell to the floor unconscious.
Windu, of course, hadn't noticed Poof's accident at all. He skidded to a stop in front of the bathroom sink and stared at himself in the mirror. A severe frown appeared within seconds. It was utterly horrible! Who would do such a thing to him? No one but the Sith of course. "So that's why the Sith left that giant sack of trash in front of my quarters this morning! They wanted to knock me out so they could stick this onto my forehead!"
Lifting a hand, he cautiously pried at one of the sticker's corners. After a few minutes, it was obvious the thing was glued on very well. "They must have used Gamorrean glue! Those Sith are more evil than I thought…"
But he was a Jedi and Jedi were far cleverer than any Sith. Turning both taps on, he allowed water to run into the basin and when it was filled, dunked his whole head into the water. Holding his breath, he pushed his head further into the water, forcing his baldpate under the faucet. Yes, all he had to do was soak his head and the sticker would loosen up. Mace counted the seconds away in his head. He knew exactly how long he could hold his breath under water. Perhaps he should have used the rebreather on his belt but that really wasn't necessary. It was just a sink full of water, not a deep lake or ocean.
The water faucet had been neglectfully left on and slightly warm water was rushing over Mace's head, down the back of his brown robes and over the edge of the sink like miniature waterfalls. He could feel the wetness soaking into his layers of clothing and he reached for the faucet to turn it off. Feeling around, he found the cold one first and twisted in the proper direction. The cold now shut off, scalding hot water poured out of the faucet.
"AAAAHHHHhhhhhhhhh!" Mace shrieked, a shriek that quickly turned into a watery burble as he started choking. He yanked his head back quickly, but his big head was stuck under the faucet, inside the sink basin. The sink had been designed for washing hands or tentacles, not for jamming one's head into. The Jedi could feel his dark skin being scalded. Whipping out his lightsaber, Mace flicked it on and swung it at the sink. The water basin instantly came unattached from the wall and Mace pulled his body upright, the steaming water quickly running out of the sink and down his body. Stumbling backward on the now wet floor, Mace waved his arms around for balance as a wide stream of water gushed out of the cut pipes on the wall. The sink stuck to his head was heavy, as it was made from durasteel with a smooth porcelain finish. He was as blind as a bat but vaguely recalled where the exit was, so he headed in that direction.
"HELP! HELP!" Master Mace cried as he cautiously teetered out of the bathroom. It was difficult to balance with the heavy lopsided sink on his head. His body wanted to fall over backward. The water pouring out of the bathroom didn't help any, either, making footing treacherous. He tripped over Yarael Poof's unconscious body and crashed to the floor with a loud BOOM that vibrated throughout the entire Temple. The loud racket almost drove Yoda deaf, as his classroom was very close to the bathroom in question.
Yoda and his students quickly filed out of the classroom, wanting to know what had caused such a loud explosion. But it hadn't been an explosion at all, just the durasteel sink hitting the floor.
"Ooohhhhhhhh…" Moaned Mace as he noisily breathed air through the very short segment of drainpipe still attached. "I feel just awful…"
Yoda shook his head. "Why sink on head have you?"
Mace rightfully didn't know how to answer that, so he just moaned more.
Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee were elected to escort Masters Mace and Poof to the infirmary. On the way there, they traveled past Anakin's classroom. Since Anakin's seat was at the front of the room, he always had a good view of the corridor. Upon seeing Mace trudging past with a sink stuck firmly to his head, he knew immediately whom his Social Sciences project would be on!
But who had set up that prank? He certainty hadn't messed with a sink. Maybe he would discover the answer later as scuttlebutt traveled through the Temple.
Hours later, Mace returned to his quarters. The skin of his face and neck was extremely tender. If it weren't for advanced medicine, it could have been far worst. The doctors had had a devil of a time trying to remove the basin from his head. No matter what they had done it hadn't wanted to come off! Finally they had to surgically remove it very carefully. Plumbers had to be called as well, before the Temple flooded.
Gently rubbing lotion onto his face and head, Mace sat down before his computer. He needed to write the memory down while it was still fresh. Then he would search the extensive Jedi Archives for any similar incidents. Perhaps that brand of basin had a history of similar problems over the ages. He would have to look to find out. Being a Jedi Master didn't always mean dealing with large decisions. Sometimes it meant small things, like finding out about badly made products that were installed in the Temple. A faint smile of relief filled him, as he knew a long trip to the Jedi Archive wouldn't be necessary – he could access all the files from the comfort and privacy of his room.
He pressed the ON button and he waited patiently for the computer to wake up. But when it did, unfamiliar graphics rolled across his screen. "What the…?"
Then a strange word popped out at him.
The strange graphics continued until the computer was ready to be used.
"The Sith…." Mace muttered, his dark eyes staring at the monitor suspiciously. Cautiously he moved the mouse and watched as the cursor haphazardly jerked across the screen. Why was it doing that? His computer never did that before. Had it contracted some virus? Opening his programs, he searched for the much-used connection to the Jedi Archive. "It's gone!"
Mace tried to reestablish the connection to the Jedi Archive, clicking the appropriate button.
ERROR: IMPROPER CONNECTION. PLEASE UPDATE ARCHIVE TO SISTHA.
Mace's scalded mouth dropped open and his eyes bulged outward. He leaped up out of his chair, the chair falling over backward. "The Sith want to get into our Archives!!"
The next second the computer froze up, a series of short green dashes appearing at the top of the monitor. By this time Mace was already running out the door, a wild look in his dark eyes.
"THE SITH … THE SITH WERE HERE!!"
To be continued…
PS. Stupa is Huttesse for "fool".