"...for he is only a memo

from the offices of fear..."

-Mary Oliver

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He told me, "As you are my tool, so shall this be yours." As you are my weapon, he could have said, and did behind the words. The parallels between the ship I now own–the Seinar Armed Star Courier prototype, the Infiltrator–and myself and my master, Sidious, are amusing. Like the shape of the ship, we are throwbacks and prototypes–weapons cut from the same mold as the ancient Sith, yet bringing to the current galaxy what seems like a new threat. Like the starship, we are invisible when we choose to be, and strikingly seen when such is the desired effect...

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I received the ship to aid me against the consortium Black Sun. Its specs pleasantly surprised me. Systems I had been trained on but never thought to find...

A cloaking device, which I thought to use in the public skyways of Coruscant. Comfortable in the knowledge I had been given–and what derision I feel now for it; Sidious has created unexpected twists to my tasks before–I activated the cloak generator as the ship hooked to an automated traffic pattern outside The Works. For a moment the control board remained as it was, orderly squares of light around the comfortably furnished cockpit. Multicolored buildings sped past with the pastel gleam of evening upon them.

Then my ship's sensors failed; the grids displaying the vehicles around it went dark. The viewport was suddenly sheathed in black static.

Lord Sidious never told me that a cloaking device which shields a ship from the naked eye also cuts it off from the outside world. It obscures the sight of the ship's occupant.

As my ship pitched, the navicomputer freed, confused, and blinded, I took the manual controls in hand and dropped into the Force, painting psychic images of the masses around me just as I do to sense opponents in combat. Ships are faster and heavier than droids and men, but the same laws of physics rule them. I could detect their circles of influence through the eyes of the Force, and resumed flight just outside the perforated line of craft which streams between Coruscant and black space. I chided myself, but kept the cloak on–deactivating it now would cause an unneeded stir among the surrounding traffic.

The Infiltrator was not meant for urbane skylanes. Knowledge arisen not from logic, from whence it could have began, but from some instinct, some drive, shook off further thought of its use in the city. Rather it was meant to creep past other creeping craft, far from civilized, bright-lit Coruscant.

I shook off the images of tiny silver stars quietly stabbing the nothingness of space.

So I learned the lesson my master set, yet another one about reacting to the unexpected, and about staying alive.

I had the sense, small and ghostly, that the ship laughed at me.

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The noise of crowds swarm around me, because I have chosen to, before my mission begins, set down on the far side of Coruscant to study this ship. While it amazes me, it also disturbs me. The Force flows within it almost as it does within a living thing. As I disembarked I was content to look around, and black struts and bulkheads do not make themselves personified, do not glare, yet I was compelled to tarry, to pick up scents and sounds of nothing more than the world around me. A delay. A trap? A memory, of cold that is not felt and heat that bleeds away into the void.

The Infiltrator is a rare, perhaps a unique model–it draws interested looks from experienced beings in the Li'Ti spaceport. They tend to refrain when they see me sitting on the ramp, face hidden and hands limp.

It tires me...?

I have gone against its wishes.

Like myself, it wishes to be unleashed.

And I could be deluding myself! I have known objects tainted by the dark side before, and felt how the Force augments certain emotions around them, how it bleeds a little of itself into the world. Lord Sidious has said that they can be powerful weapons against Jedi, to whom the dark is alien, and to whom its allure is repulsive.

If the ship is tainted, it will be all the more useful to me. I should not be unsettled like this, uncertain, distracted. I cannot be distracted from my mission! Hours do not matter much; space voyages are measured in weeks. But discipline is mine, and I can almost feel my master's questing thoughts. If he finds me here, he will ask why I am wasting time.

And I will not know how to answer.

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Alone in hyperspace, power seems to run over my skin like acid. It re-etches old lines. It's a power that needs to be calibrated, refined–caught, given a habitat. I almost smell it, like lightsaber-ozone and sweat.

It's becoming my particular brand of power.

I see the stars in slow motion as they hurtle past the viewport. The horizon lines are nothing to them; the cone of darkness in which I sail does not exist. As I do not. As the sandpanther does not, until it raises up and tears the neck of its victim.

Yes, the ship is conforming to me. Its vision, of silence and smoothness and flight, has been tainted by the dark side, but I wonder if the vision was not there before. It is not my place to ask how. Only once did I come upon Sidious and alchemy by accident.

I admit that the ship's unique sense frightened me, and with a fear I did not know how to use.

But with it I could draw the stars around me as a cloak.

I will stare into their light.

I will steal it, and they will never notice.

This brush with taut imagination leaves me, and leaves me wondering what is real and what is false, or rather, what is literal and what is figurative. It is unsettling; I like solidarity beneath my feet, a red-searing weapon in my hands. But this ship, this metal mouth, is another sort of manipulation of the scene, of the cultivation of fear.

Ah...on this lone quest, I have been given a surrogate master.

I will learn from the fear of the unknown.

This time, the conviction does not fade.

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A/N: I didn't want to write this at first. I've done enough about Darth Maul, and without his trademark killing-stuff-with-lightsabers, how was I going to keep the intensity of the character? And once I started, it was hard to write, hard to be happy with. But the words of Saesee Tiin–"That ship is alive with the dark side, Master Yoda. I can feel it clinging to my robes. And worse, it still tempts me, calling me back with promises of fantastic journeys to the far reaches of the Galaxy."–wouldn't leave me, making me wonder whether Maul himself was affected by its aura, and how he would react to a fear he couldn't quite identify. If this fic has a theme...perhaps it asks whether nothingness, instead of darkness, is the antithesis of the light. A note on names: Wookieepedia indicates that the ship is named Scimitar, and that 'Sith Infiltrator' is a sort of make and model designation. However, the novel Shadowhunter italicizes Infiltrator as if that is the craft's given name, and that is the nomenclature I am accustomed to using.