The Taming of the Sith
A/N: Thanks to everyone who actually liked this, as weird as it is. ;) Also thanks to Ambyr-Rose for allowing me to use this title (it was her idea), and to Elli for unintentionally starting it all.
He was completely ignoring
After deducing that Sabe was not, in fact, the Queen, he had somehow realized that Padmé was his real target. How he knew, Padmé wasn’t sure; the Force, perhaps? He had a lightsaber, had fought the Padawan, Kenobi, with it. Kenobi had managed to injure him in their brief, intense fight, but the blow to the Jedi’s head had ended the fight. Padmé hoped he was still alive. The injury hadn’t looked lethal, but she knew head injuries were tricky that way.
Of course, if Padmé hadn’t tried the old handmaiden switch technique, Master Jinn and Kenobi would have been protecting her.
Instead, she’d been captured on Tatooine by a scary-looking guy with a red lightsaber. Things weren’t going well. They were in space now, Tatooine quickly receding from sight. Padmé could just barely make that out from her position tied to a chair. He’d tied her well, too; all of Captain Panaka’s tricks weren’t working.
And he was ignoring her.
As the ship jumped to hyperspace – going where? – the creature – are those tattoos, are his skin? – turned to look at her. Definitely tattoos. With those horns, she realized he must be a Zabrak.
He silently removed a datapad, and sheaf of paper. Electrical and physical, to meet both Naboo’s and the Senate’s requirements on treaties, she suddenly realized.
She pursed her lips. “I won’t sign it. I will not consign my people to death.”
The creature seemed to quirk an eyebrow . . . area. “You do not have a choice in the matter,” he told her in a low, gravelly voice. Then he raised a hand and narrowed his eyes. “Sign the treaty, Your Highness.”
Padmé felt something twist in her mind – Jedi powers? “No,” she ground out. “Stop it,” she snapped, an addition.
He drew back, considering.
“Are you going to hurt me now?” Padmé asked flippantly, though there was real fear beneath that.
“You are safe for the moment,” he said, in what should have been a bland tone of voice, but with his appearance, came out more threatening. “I do not have permission to hurt you. Yet. Once this vessel is safely out of hyperspace, I will request permission.”
“I see,” Padmé said, taking a deep breath. What next? Dammit, why couldn’t she think? What had she been taught? In hostage situations, try to get your captor to sympathize with you. They often try to de-humanize you, your feelings . . . if you can stop that, you have a chance. Of course, it’s dangerous because you can become dependent on your captor emotionally, but fully worth the risk in this situation, Padmé decided.
The creature turned around.
Well, ignoring her wouldn’t help him see her as a sentient being deserving of mercy. She cleared her throat. “So. What’s your name? I mean, you already know mine.” How elegant, she muttered mentally.
He glared at her briefly, then went back to ignoring her.
“So, you like your job?”
He turned at that and faced her fully. “Do not speak.”
“I thought you couldn’t hurt me. Yet.”
“I could gag you.”
“I could choke to death.”
“I would gag you expertly.”
“You normally kidnap Queens? And gag them?”
He paused, as if realizing he was being drawn into a ridiculous argument. Then he said, very slowly, “My job is my duty. All else is irrelevant.”
A response! Of some type. Hope burgeoned. “My duty as Queen is sometimes like that.” Draw him in . . . but why does he have to look so scary? “But it’s possible to have other interests, and still be focused,” she added. “Like . . . in times like this. You aren’t doing anything, are you? So you could do something else.” Wince.
He looked almost confused. “I do not have hobbies. I am a Sith.” Then he paused, as if wondering if he was supposed to say that.
“The Sith? I thought they were ancient enemies of the Jedi?” Padmé asked, confused. Sith? Jedi? Jedi-powers? Sith-powers?
“Are,” the creature said stiffly. “Soon,” he said gleefully, “we will have our revenge. And the Jedi will be destroyed.”
“Oh,” Padmé said. “So you don’t have hobbies, then?”
He glared at her.
“I must be focused.”
“Jedi are focused, and they have hobbies.” Probably.
“The Jedi are weak!”
“I imagine you would be a good artist,” Padmé said weakly.
He looked taken aback. Then, hesitantly, probably sure he was heading towards trouble, “Why?”
“All that emotion. Not to mention your tattoos,” Padmé said wisely. “If you could channel it –”
“I channel it into power! The Dark Side feeds off my emotions.”
“Power isn’t satisfying,” Padmé said matter-of-factly. “I am a Queen. I think I’d know.”
He frowned. “You are newly elected.”
“Which would generally make it all the more dizzying, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“My master is powerful,” he said, as if that fact was an argument.
“Does your Master not let you have hobbies?” Padmé asked. Okay, so he was a follower. But think that quietly, he’s got Sith-powers. But a follower – can be persuaded to follow something else. Right?
“I must be focused,” he insisted.
“I thought we agreed you could have hobbies and be focused. Like doing something now, when you are not – busy,” Padmé suggested. All those arguments with Palo on semantics were suddenly coming in handy.
“We did not agree,” he s aid, frowning, looking disturbed. As opposed to disturbing, that is. “I would not make a good artist,” he added.
“How do you know? Did your Master tell you that?”
He frowned again.
Padmé looked around. “Why don’t we try? I’m sure there are materials around here somewhere.” She smiled guilelessly. “And what’s your name?”
He drew himself up straight. “I am Darth Maul. As all Sith take the name Darth, after Darth Bane, who -”
“Ah. Okay, Maul,” she said, smiling. “A canvas of some type . . .” She looked around. “Paint would be useful. Maybe oil?”
“I did not –”
“You won’t have to gag me,” she said persuasively.
“Will you sign the treaty?” he inquired.
“I’ll think about it,” Padmé said with a shrug. She’d think about how much she wanted to throttle those Neimoidians.
He didn’t look entirely convinced. From what Padmé could tell. Then he went past her, into the back of the tiny vessel. She twisted her head, trying to see what he was doing. To her surprise, he brought out a thick sheet of some type of cloth canvas. It was white. Then he took out a can of oil. Then he looked at Padmé again.
“You promise to think about it? Until I am able to contact my Master, so I may torture you?”
Such correct grammar. “I promise,” she said encouragingly.
He lay out part of the cloth, and held the container of oil in his hand. “I do not have colors,” he said stiffly.
“You could do shades of black,” Padmé reassured him, trying to get feeling in her hands.
That seemed to appeal to him. “What shall I draw?” Then he paused, considering. “My Master –”
“He never forbade you to make canvas paintings with oil, did he?”
“Not directly . . .” Maul admitted.
“He’ll never know,” Padmé said sagely.
Maul paused, eyeing her. He really was quite the odd fellow. He seemed to have difficulty thinking for himself. How she was talking him into this, she had no idea.
Then Maul began to paint. He took dabs of the dark oil, and drew on the canvas. It first, it looked random, but then a design began to form: a wild creature with claws, standing over its prey. The shades of gray and black were stark against the white, and the image itself was startling realistic. She could almost feel the savagery of the beast as they image emerged more clearly.
“Have you changed your mind about the treaty?” Maul inquired.
“Wow,” Padmé said, still looking at the cloth painting. “That’s amazing.”
Maul stared at her, and then cocked his head, narrowing his eyes. Doing – what? Then he seemed to relax. “I have not painted before,” he said, but in a pleased tone.
“And you’re still focused,” Padmé said approvingly. “Your Master . . .” She shrugged, and looked at the painting. “You’re quite talented.”
“Master says I am in constant need of his guidance, that I will never be a Master,” Maul said with a sigh.
Padmé snorted. She leaned forward. “It’s terrific. I’m not sure what it is, but that animal – it’s very fierce, but I see independence in it. The way you have it standing on a cliff, out in the wild, dangerous but free. And the prey beneath it’s feet.” She smiled. “It’s very good.” Which was true. Even if the painter was a bit psycho.
Maul looked pleased. “It is satisfying,” he admitted quietly. He dipped his fingers into the oil again, adding details, perfecting it. He moved gracefully, despite his size.
“I guess your Master doesn’t know everything, huh?” Padmé said.
Maul looked at her, at the painting, then back again. “It appears not.”
“Well,” Padmé said with a sigh.
“Want to try another?” Padmé suggested.
Maul nodded, and grinned. His teeth were yellow and encrusted with . . . she didn’t what to know what, but she smiled back. Maul shifted the cloth carefully, so as not to destroy his painting, but moving onto another, empty section.
“Have you changed your mind about the treaty?”
“No,” Padmé said honestly.
“Hmm,” Maul said, and started painting again. “It would be better if I had red, like blood,” he added suddenly.
“Or yellow, for the teeth,” Padmé said, “or blue, for the sky.”
Maul continued painting. “Master was not right,” he said uncertainly. “He would say not to speak with you, but he said he is always right. But he is not.” He paused. “Is my own conclusion faulty?”
“No,” Padmé said instantly. “I back it up. And I’m a Queen. I know what I’m talking about.”
“Master is going to rule the galaxy,” Maul replied.
“But he doesn’t yet,” Padmé pointed out. “And he’s been wrong; so who says he will, as he seems to think he will? He could be wrong.”
Maul still painted, but slower, more thoughtfully. Padmé squinted, looking at it closely. Then, as the images began to be brought together, she realized – it was her! But not as she had ever seen herself. She was fierce, and a wild animal, like the one in the first painting, lay at her feet. But her eyes were calm, unworried.
“That is you,” Maul pointed out.
“I see,” Padmé whispered. “It’s beautiful.”
“You are like a young, fierce kenthub of my homeworld,” Maul said. “And wise,” he said, pointing at the eyes, “to see my Master being wrong. He has never been wrong.”
Padmé smiled. “Thank you.”
The console beeped. Maul straightened, eyes narrowing in that threatening way again. He rose and looked at the console. “This vessel is far enough away from Tatooine that the Jedi will not find us,” he said. “I can contact my Master now, for instructions.”
Padmé met his yellow gaze. “Will you?”
He hesitated. “Master is not always right,” he said.
“But you are, sometimes. You can be,” Padmé said softly, glancing again at the beautiful painting of her, taming a wild animal to her will.
“You are wise,” Maul added, as if trying to prompt her.
“I certainly can be,” Padmé said easily. “I was right with the painting, your art. And you knew it. And I knew it.” Hoping hoping . . .
“He will be angry. He will hunt me if I do not obey.”
“You can be protected, you can get the Jedi to help you, I can help you –“”
“The Jedi are weak!”
“But they outnumber this Master considerably,” Padmé pointed out.
“Yes,” Maul said uneasily. “There are always two of the Sith. Master and apprentice.”
“He’s not right,” Padmé said, staring into his disturbing eyes, now full of very common emotions. “Should you obey him, when he’s not right? When you can see rightness for yourself? As I can?”
“May I stay with you?” Maul asked hesitantly.
“Of course,” Padmé replied instantly. And somewhat to her surprise, she honestly meant it. Maul might be evil, but he was a very screwed up evil, and she was sure that could be fixed.
Maul straightened. “Then I will not contact my Master.” He paused. “I will paint.”
“And untie me,” Padmé added. “And no treaty signing.”
Maul nodded. “He may be wrong about that, too.”
“We’ll make him wrong,” Padmé said firmly.
Maul smiled again, though with less teeth showing this time. “And I will paint. It is satisfying. Before, only the Darkness was satisfying.”
“Um, yes,” Padmé said. “You untie me, you paint, and we get the Senate to act for Naboo. And prove your Master is wrong.”
“And narrow-minded,” Maul added, looking at his beautiful paintings.
“And you’ll stay with me, with all the paint and canvas you could ever need,” Padmé said, with a real smile.
Maul went to her, and untied her. Padmé waited patiently, and when she was fully untied, she paused momentarily. She smiled at Maul. He smiled back, almost adoringly.
Yes, he would stay with her. They’d take care of his Master, and Naboo. Free, she could help Naboo, as was her duty, and Maul would help her, she had no doubt.
But he was definitely going to have to do something about those teeth.