"Now that tax season is over, my apprentice, I have a new charge for you."
"Anything, my Master."
"Some day, if all goes well, you will rise up and slay me. At that point, you'll need to train a new apprentice."
"That day is far in the future, my Master."
"Still, the time has come for you learn to train an apprentice."
"An apprentice, my Master? But I thought there could be only two Sith at any time."
"Yes, and that is how it must be. Therefore, you must get a pet and train it in the Dark Side of the Force."
"Yes, a pet."
"What kind of pet?"
"I leave that to you."
Maul stalked into the pet store and eyeballed the selection.
"What have you got with spikes?" he asked the clerk.
"How about a spiny hedgehog?"
"That will do."
Obi-Wan walked up to the counter after Maul finished paying for his hedgehog and asked, "How much for a hamster?"
Maul entered his apartment and let the hedgehog out of its cardboard box.
"Now, my apprentice, your training will begin."
The hedgehog curled up into a ball and shivered.
"This is not going to work."
"This hedgehog is defective," Maul sneered as he dumped the cardboard box on the counter.
"What do you mean?"
"It has no aggressive tendencies."
"How about a porcupine? They're aggressive."
"That will do."
"Let me get you one."
Maul waited at the counter, drumming his gloved fingers on the formica surface. Obi-Wan got in line behind him. With a smile, he declared, "I'm here to get a boy hamster so I can breed him with Fluffy!"
Maul scowled and drummed his fingers louder.
"All right, my new apprentice, this is my apartment. You are not allowed on the couch."
The porcupine waddled across the floor and took a whiz on the leg of the coffee table.
Maul growled and thwacked the spiny mammal on the head with a rolled-up newspaper. The porcupine puffed up aggressively, spines sticking out in all directions.
"Ah, good my young apprentice. Use your hatred and strike out at me."
The porcupine didn't move.
"Strike out at me."
The porcupine continued to not move.
"Feel your hate! Strike out at me in anger! Use the power of the Dark Side and strike me down!" Maul frothed maniacally.
The porcupine curled up in a ball and started to shiver.
With a sigh, Maul realized that this might take a while.
"The porcupine didn't work," Maul growled as he strode back into the pet store.
"Work for what?" "I was trying to turn it to the Dark Side. I tried for a month, to no avail."
"Oh, porcupines aren't very good at that. How about a snake?"
"Do you have any with horns?"
"Let me take a look. Oh, hey Obi-Wan."
"Hi! Hey, I have a bunch of baby hamsters that I can't keep," he said, putting a shoebox filled with tiny squirming naked rodents on the counter. "Can you find a good home for them?"
Maul grinned and took the box. "I'll take care of them for you."
"Gee, that's swell!"
Maul let his horned rattlesnake out of its box and watched with glee as it slithered across the floor of his apartment. After a few minutes, he let a few of the baby hamsters out of the box and laughed evilly as the snake swallowed them up.
"Very good, my apprentice. Very good. Savor this nasty Jedi spawn. Taste the fear of your enemy. Enjoy their high-pitched squeals of terror." Maul stuck the rest of the babies in a ziploc bag and stuffed them in the freezer for later.
"Now your training shall begin. Strike out at me!"
The snake settled down under the couch with a visible lump at its midsection.
"Oh, come on! You're a snake! Strike out at me!"
The snake lay motionless and began the slow process of digesting the baby hamsters.
"Yes. The snake didn't work out. It goes into torpor every time it eats anything."
"Well, yeah. Snakes are only good for the Dark Side when they're hungry."
"A good Sith is always hungry."
"Well, I think I have the pet for you. This just came in. It's called a Targ."
"Targ? I've never heard of it."
"It's from Kronos, the Klingon homeworld."
"Yeah, I'd never heard of them either, but I think this creature will be just the ticket." The pet store guy led Maul to the back of the store where a vicious horned creature snarled and frothed behind the bars of a sturdy titanium cage. "He already killed two employees and did a number on that pesky Jedi kid this morning."
"Most excellent," Maul sneered. He could feel the evil flowing like a tidal wave from this creature, and he knew deep in his black heart that this was the pet for him.
Suddenly, a posse of blue-uniformed police officers burst into the back room. "Put your hands in the air and step away from the targ," they commanded.
"That won't be necessary," Maul said, waving his hand in front of his face.
"Sorry, sir. The Sith Mind Whammy doesn't work on us. Hand over the targ and no one gets hurt."
"I paid good money for that targ. Just who do you think you are?" the shop owner demanded.
"We're the crossover police, and we're taking this animal back to the Star Trek universe where it belongs."
Maul and the shop owner immediately acknowledged defeat. No one had ever fought the crossover police and won before. The blue-suited posse bundled up the targ and hustled out of the store.
The shop owner shrugged and said, "Well, sorry about that."
"Do you have any other creature that might suit my needs?"
"Just one...but I don't think you're up for it."
"I am a Sith. I am up for anything."
"You asked for it."
Maul sat on the sofa, deep in a stare down with his new pet.
His new pet was winning.
Maul deepened his stare, determined to win this battle.
The small striped kitty was having none of it. She stared back, giving as good as she got and then some.
The kitty hissed.
Much to his surprise, Maul blinked.
Victorious, the kitty started licking her butt.
"You will learn to obey me," Maul growled as he pulled out the super soaker and aimed it at the cat. "Now get down from the curtains."
He punctuated his command with a torrent of water. The cat yowled, leapt off the curtains, and wedged herself under the sofa.
"Much better, my apprentice."
The cat dashed into his laundry basket and hurked up a hairball.
"Dammit! I just washed those robes!"
"You will obey me," Maul said, waving his hand in front of the kitty's face.
The kitty lifted her paw and meowed.
Maul obediently went into the kitchen and opened a can of cat food.
"So, my apprentice, how are things with your pet?" Sidious asked over the video phone.
"I am encountering difficulties, my Master," Maul replied, dangling a bit of string at his side for the kitty to play with. He was covered from nearly head to toe in white cat fur.
"What are you doing?"
Maul quickly put the string behind his back. "Nothing."
"Hmm. Your tattoo. It's changed."
"Actually, the cat scratched me."
"Scratched a Sith?"
"She didn't want her belly rubbed."
"Ah. I understand. Maul, perhaps you're not ready for a cat. They're very difficult to train."
"I have learned that well, my Master. She is a most cantankerous creature. So far, she has destroyed my stereo speakers, eaten my plants, and whizzed on my lightsaber. I had to go to Radio Shack this afternoon to buy new parts to fix it. However, it is very easy to clean a litterbox using the Force."
"What's that skittering sound?"
"She's batting my lightsaber across the floor again. No! Keep it away from that heating vent! Argh!"
"I'd better let you go."
"All right, my unruly apprentice, I have one last task for you," Maul said as he peered deeply into the kitty's eyes. "You'll like this one."
The kitty licked his nose, forcing Maul to stifle an un-Sithly giggle.
"What's that scratching on my door?"
Obi-Wan opened the door to his quarters and a small striped cat strode in as if she owned the place. She froze, noticing movement in the corner, and with a butt-wiggle, she sprang for it.