A/N: This was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I'm still considering shuffling the order of the scenarios around, or changing some entirely, or adding five more. But I needed to get this out of my head now, so that I could go back to things like Sons of the Suns.
Disclaimer: If I really wanted to tell you that I created this "five things that never happened" concept, I suppose I'd go all the way and tell you I created Star Wars too. And you know I didn't, because, well, none of these things ever happened, now did they?
Alteration: Five Things That Never Happened To Darth Maul
Note: Each part has three titles, and the second title of each comes from the lyrics to Duel of the Fates. The language is Sanskrit, and the translations are provided.
He savours the moment too effortlessly for words. Time is just an utterance to him, one more syllable to be clipped by almost-canine teeth, and words are useless, because everything is nownownow for him, one spark of life after another like falling tattoo needles, clattering across the inkstained floor as Sidious laughs at what he has made. He laughs silently at his own prowess, as the Jedi clings to the single horizontal nub in the terrible vertical silver pit, unable to even flinch from the sparks raining down on his white knuckles(pale human skin, drained of blood—it always looked so unhealthy to him.) Foolish Jedi, half-way to death already, like his Master breathing out his fragile human last-breaths on the trodden floor, like his dying-from-the-inside-out Order—
The pit is a dormant reactor core. He will reek of radiation when this is finished. But he will be cured, and the Jedi will be dying. He is certain of this, can feel (or is it imagine--) the future's path as clearly as he can sense energy roiling meters below his feet. Atoms jostle there in the core for the privilege of breaking on command, of leaping into an afterlife of plasma like the founts the combatants passed before the crimson shields. The Force hums in the back of his mind, in the primitive connections nurtured by Iridonia, and then its song becomes a nails-on-screeching-stone scream.
The Jedi is going to jump, going to call the Master's weapon to his hand.
Perfect. Darth Maul lets the plan progress, lets the Padawan think that because he called himself good he was going to win—
Maul sinks into the Force, knowing the path of the lightsaber through the universe as if it were painted neon on an ink-and-space-black tac screen, feels time forget to speed along because he has told it to forget. The Master's weapon smacks into his gloved hand, and for a moment he sees the apprentice poised in the air above the pit, face twisted and coiled in his almost-restrained anger, ohsohumanpale—
Maul thumbs the green lightsaber to flaring, hissing, atom-desiccating life, steps aside, and stabs the Padawan through the heart before the human hits the ground.
He watches dispassionately as Darth Sidious looks down at the girl. She had stumbled upon or followed rumors into the Works, and then one of Sidious' traps found her. Narrow wires hold her legs, delivering a considerable shock if she moves. Maul can tell she is not homeless, did not wander in for the shelter—her kept appearance marks her as a native of the upper levels. She is human.
Sidious croaks, "Why are you here, child?"
She looks up as best as she can. "I want to be trained to use the Force."
"You have not enough Force power in your blood for the Jedi to have found you…"
"Kill me then!" Her flaring anger is truncated by a shock. "I don't want to go back to being no one."
Sidious thinks for a moment. Muses, "Brave young fool."
"No…I'm fearful—don't want to be forgotten. And heartless. I'd leave my family for the Force—"
Sidious wields the power she craves; he steals her consciousness for a few hours, erases her memories of ever visiting the Works, and leaves her near a high-class, populated area.
Maul admires her devotion to a cause, although that cause is so sourceless that he has only disdain for it. A few times afterward, he wonders what she would have been like if she had achieved her goal. He'd need an apprentice someday.
Attack of the Clones
"They've never seen a fight like this," Nute Gunray murmured to Count Dooku above the Geonosian arena.
"Isn't that what these people seek, new kinds of mock war?"
"Ah, yes, but it may unsettle them…"
"Lord Sidious could not resist this chance to kill two birds with one shot."
The insectoid audience was ready for a fight. Exotica had been brought to them today; two Jedi (rumored to be superhuman, and they looked it—no crying, no writhing against the great sandstone columns as if they would give way) and even more exotica—the senator, bringing a political edge to the fray, versus three animal predators from far-off worlds.
The Geonosian crowd roared and clicked their approval as the humans saw the creatures coming for them, cackled when the nexu knocked its handler from his orray. So excited were they by what they expected that they barely noticed what they hadn't expected; the lone humanoid that emerged from the artfully arched tunnel after the creatures had left it, black cloak flaring behind it like a scrap of cloth.
Maul beelines for Kenobi. He was sent to Geonosis to lurk in the caverns, to test out the clones and himself, to observe the battle that Sidious sensed would break out here like a ring of mushrooms after a storm (to die, to feed fungus, he knew in a hidden corner of his mind, but the delusion that Sidious cared for him was very powerful. He has no thoughts of how a death sentence for him would be so convenient for the burgeoning General Grievous.)
The Jedi are cowards. Kenobi escapes his bonds with the help of the acklay, but before Maul can reach him, other Force presences have wormed into his awareness like sarlacc tendrils emerging from under sand, and he was too focused to notice them, too enmeshed with his own progress—
But the Jedi pour from the stadium seats like water, like a flowing, uprooting flood, and at the head of them is one who shines bright, not with prowess but with want of the fight, battlelust interestingly free of the dark side, a spearhead of diamond—
Some of the Jedi part around him like a river around an island. Some veer in, attracted by the redolence of the dark side, hungry for glory (--no—he can never surmise what they hunger for--) but he skids, kicks sand in the face of one (Phraedian Zabrak—faces flash by like splashes of color and the Force) and dodges another with a side handspring that wraps the blinding trail of his lightsaber's path around his body and sets him up to come down on the enthusiastic one—Nautolan—with all the momentum of a starship crashing through an atmosphere. The Jedi throws up a high guard.
The lightsabers clash. The combatants step, strike, fence with wide sweeps of neon. Maul spins and kicks his chosen enemy under the ribs, making him step back and gape. But when Maul steps in close to separate the tentacled head from the shoulders, the Jedi looks up, thinly smiling, sharklike, gleeful. Yes, this one enjoys the fight—!
Maul jumps away to avoid a straightforward stab, but he is eager now, finally given a challenge—
But the Jedi pulls a column down between them, jailing him for a moment with barring dust and a wall of stone. The thud is unexpectedly quiet in the sandy soil. Maul jumps straight up.
He lands on the column running, tracking the Jedi. Utter chaos in the shallow pit, Geonosians droning down, shooting their bulbous energy weapons at the Jedi, Republic troops approaching from the air, confidant and new-minted. Maul is reminded of Kenobi. Revenge first, joy then—
He kills Geonosians, battle droids, one Jedi, to get to the transport where the clones are taking Kenobi away, and it takes too long. They've gone, sand billowing, and Maul Force-runs for the Bloodfin.
They know he is present, Kenobi and Skywalker (the beacon-boy, a vague memory from Tatooine--) but they have another target, just as Maul forgets the myriad of clashing Force presences in his head (some more powerful than he has ever known, tasting of the far past when he stood outside the Jedi Temple and simply felt), forgets the fragile clones and more-fragile-still once-queen who falls to the sand. Dooku is ahead. And if Maul can take him and take Grievous and rend the Jedi as they are here outside their armor-towers he will stand secure at Sidious's side again—
But he waits, trembling and eyes-lidded and raging with the waiting, as Kenobi and Skywalker weaken Dooku for him. He lurks behind Dooku's starship, creeping farther and farther from the edge of the cliff that his swoop bike rode to get here.
But Dooku weakens the Jedi. There is some vicarious satisfaction in seeing Kenobi cut open, the wound, as small a slice as it is, simmering with sparks for just a moment.
Then the Jedi are dispatched, useless on the ground, and Maul takes one step to show himself.
And it is as if the planet Geonosis has fallen out of its ascribed path, and is careening toward the sun. A nova in the Force walks into the room, and Maul must grimace, must blink his mental senses, before he can see the hunched and hobbling figure of Jedi Master Yoda enter the room. The little alien's resplendence in the Force defies all physical description.
But somehow, Maul realizes, the Skywalker child surpasses him. The human's lack of discipline is appalling, but still he is a beacon…a galaxy to Yoda's sun, hiding itself under a lampshade of desire to be brave, or of rebellion, or secrecy…
Count Dooku, imperious, rains lightning down on Yoda. The alien catches it, transforms it, and purifies it with a mesmerizing alchemy. Maul must move closer to the scene, must watch—
As Yoda discards the energy like a blastertorn cloak, and tosses it at him.
His death is quick, but it is full of Yoda's agonizing pity--
"Master Drallig, your Padawan fell asleep in class again."
"Forgive me my disrespect, Master K'tan, but that's the worst he ever does. A battlemaster's apprentice is busy—I have him teaching classes now. But I'm not trying to make excuses." Jedi Master Cin Drallig looked over to where Ciaràn Surin stood beside him in Master K'tan's classroom, ten-horned head bowed and hands folded in the wide sleeves of his Jedi robe. "This won't happen again."
Ciaràn spoke slowly, almost a whisper. Almost shy, if one could not sense the Force mien about him or had never heard him teach. "I apologize, masters."
Later, in the training room, Ciaràn turned a handspring into a low roll that let his lightsaber slip under Obi-Wan Kenobi's guard and burn a neat hole in his fellow apprentice's tunic under his ribs. Then he leaped away from Kenobi, silver staff lightsaber sweeping behind him.
He was a good apprentice, Drallig thought, as skilled with the lightsaber as if he had been bred for it. Ciaràn could hold his own against Kenobi's burgeoning skill, but also more than do so against the best fighters of his year. He could be arrogant at times, but he was thoroughly devoted to the light side of the Force.
The Padawans were laughing about something, footfalls and lightsabers loud still, and Drallig allowed himself to think that Ciaràn might make an excellent battlemaster one day.
He throws himself into the sunbright air and lands moving, stepping aside to catch the Jedi Master's lightsaber on his own. The Jedi spins, quick, and the Force teaches Maul in an instant how to meet him—in the shadow of the Naboo ship they dance the death-dance, kicking up sand, cloaks flaring (obscuring all, until it is simply light versus dark there on the empty plane, until--)
Maul can sense the others above him—a crowded Naboo starship, his target so essential, but it is filled with human baggage, except for the Jedi Padawan (emotion-wracked) and the flaring beacon in the Force that is the young boy Maul saw traveling with the group at a distance.
But there is yet another Force presence suddenly in the melee. From the back of an eopie that skids to a stop beside the Bloodfin leaps a humanoid with black, dreadlocked hair. Another green lightsaber snaps to life in his hand.
Maul, grinning, feeling the newcomer's brute strength in the Force, activates his lightsaber's second blade.
The Master that Maul had been chasing shies away, but the other moves like a juggernaut. Their lightsabers trade strikes, then the humanoid hits Maul under the jaw with the heel of his calloused hand. The Sith loses his balance, brushes a column of scalding smoke released from the hovering starship, finds himself on his back (he does not think any more about the movements essential to his survival, but nevertheless the entirety of his arms slap the ground to take the weight that could have strained his neck and elbows.) Two spring-leaf-green lightsabers level at his face.
"Thank you, Quinlan."
"Shall we kill him, Qui-Gon?" The humanoid-marked-as-Kiffar's voice is flat.
"Wait a moment. There may still be good in him."
"No…" Quinlan is deliberating, eyes distant, but he has fallen into the Force and could be out of it in a faster-than-human reaction. "I don't think there is."