Title: An Imperial Parody Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Darth Vader; Grand Admiral Thrawn; Darth Maul. Genre: Humor. Summary: Due to Imperial budget cuts, Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn find themselves sharing a suburban condo with Darth Maul. Insanity ensues. Author's Note: This story is my response to the Mod Dare Challenge. My challenge was to write a story in which, due to budget constraints, housing allowances for Imperial officers have been cut, forcing Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Grand Admiral Thrown to rent a suburban condo together. I was to include elements from Sims screenshots of Vader eating a grilled cheese, Maul playing a guitar, Maul and Thrawn talking, and Thrawn punching a giant Teddy bear. I also went for the bonus points of trying to match the outfits of the characters with those in the Sims screenshots and making the decor of the condo match the screenshots. An Imperial Parody Vader was certain that he was trapped in some profane parody, and he was even more certain whom he could blame for his current state of being trapped in a profane parody. That blue Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn who had ever been a poisonous thorn in Vader’s side was the cause of his present situation that would have been comical if it was not so humiliating. The problem or the parody had all started innocently enough with a holoconference the Emperor had called for all senior Imperial armed forces personnel. The holoconference featured full color holograms of every admiral and general in the Imperial service with bigger egos than brains because the Emperor spared no expense on holoconferences. That meant Vader could see the crimson of Motti’s too large forehead in excruciating detail because the incompetent fool never noticed that he leaned so close to the screen that nothing showed on it except his forehead. Beside Vader as he attended this meeting was Grand Admiral Thrawn. Vader had muted everyone in the holoconference except for the Emperor, who was rambling about the necessity of budget cuts so as to avoid raising taxes that might spark widespread revolt in the galaxy, because apparently the ignorant trillions wouldn’t rebel as long as their taxes remained reasonably low. The muting was ostensibly so he didn’t have to listen to the annoying little sounds his fellow attendees made in the background—clearing throats, scratching chins, jotting notes on flimsi—but was really so that he could listen to Thrawn’s whispered assessments of which of the meeting’s attendees were wearing civilian clothes beneath the top half of their uniform. The shrewd, keen-eyed Chiss had a knack for analyzing anyone’s entire outfit in a glance. Thrawn’s whispered commentary on the attire of the meeting’s attendees was cut short and Vader’s attention completely captured when the Emperor made the menacing pronouncement: “Due to budget cuts and constraints, housing allowances for senior Imperial officers will need to be cut in half effective immediately. This is to enforce a feeling of solidarity within our ranks as our TIE pilots will then not object to a quarter reduction in their pay when they realize their superior officers are taking a significant cut in housing allowances. Morale will remain high when our TIE pilots have this proof that we are all in this together.” His black-gloved fists clenching, Vader thought that if his TIE pilots had dared to challenge him about their salary cuts, he would’ve strangled them with a single squeeze of his fingers. Breathing loudly enough to be heard star systems away, he had to trample down the temptation to try to choke his Master through the hologram. His morale was definitely not high. The meeting mercifully drew to a close before Vader could unleash any murderous impulses, and Thrawn turned a blood red gaze on him as soon as it ended. “If we pooled our financial resources, we could rent a suburban condo. I might even know a third being currently in search of housing we could invite to join us to further reduce our individual financial burden.” “What third being?” Vader took a deep breath between each word, struggling for some semblance of control. “One with whom you share some notable similarities such as an aversion to fire and a belief in the Force,” Thrawn answered somewhat ambiguously, but that was nothing new for the Chiss. “Very well then.” Vader waved a dismissive glove, willing to pass the burden of finding a suitable accommodation onto the blue alien who was so adept with judging aesthetics. “Invite this being to join us in the condo. I will trust you to find an appropriate place for us. Do not disappoint me.” Beings who disappointed him tended to end up dead. He trusted Thrawn to understand that without an explicit threat. It was more intimidating to have his danger implied sometimes. That was how Vader had come to be standing in the living room of the condo Thrawn had rented. The condo, Thrawn had explained as they walked up the cobblestone pathway that lead across a verdant lawn to the front door, had included furniture with its lease. This furniture was very modern judging by the purple sofa that stared Vader in the face as soon as Thrawn unlocked the door. Apart from the purple sofa, Vader’s attention was instantly caught by a Zabrak with elaborate red-and-black facial tattoos who was removing some musical instrument from a case and wearing pants as flaming red as his tattoos. The Zabrak reminded him of one who had killed the first man who had ever been like a father to Anakin Skywalker…Not that Vader should have cared what had happened to that other, lesser being, Anakin Skywalker… The Zabrak had finished lifting the instrument from its case, and Vader realized the Zabrak didn’t merely resemble the one who had killed Qui-Gon Jinn on Naboo so many years ago…It was the same Zabrak who had ended Qui-Gon Jinn’s life before he could train Anakin Skywalker. “Didn’t Kenobi cut you in half?” Vader demanded in a voice cool as the snow storms of Hoth. Taking revenge on Qui-Gon’s killer had been one of the few good things Kenobi had done, Vader had thought, though that hypocrite Kenobi would’ve called it justice rather than vengeance as if the two were different things instead of the same dark impulse. “Didn’t Kenobi chop off your legs and leave you in lava?” Maul retorted, his words burning like the memory of the unforgiving fires of Mustafar. Vader could feel the fissure of contempt and hatred tearing through them like a cosmic earthquake in the Force as Maul began to strum a loud tune on his instrument. “Is that an acoustic guitar?” Thrawn was studying the instrument with a refined expression that made Vader want to vomit into his helmet. “One doesn’t often hear its more classic notes. Far more common is its more pedestrian counterpart: the electric guitar.” As Thrawn settled into a green-cushioned chair to give Maul’s concert an audience of one, Vader fled for the kitchen to make himself some comfort food, shaking his head at the fact that a being could fall so far from Sith to struggling musician (no doubt Maul was struggling as a musician, because only a struggling musician would be forced to rent a condo with him and Thrawn). The fact that Maul was indeed a struggling musician was reinforced by the horrible sounds coming from the guitar—sounds that planted lurid images of a krayt dragon mating with a monkey lizard in Vader’s mind. Rummaging in the cooler, Vader pulled out several slices of blue milk cheese and switched on the stovetop to fix himself a grilled cheese. As he cooked and flipped the grilled cheese, he was careful not to make contact with the flames rising from the stove as he had a healthy respect for fire after his misadventure on Mustafar. Despite his caution, he saw when he dumped his sandwich onto his plate that one side was slightly more charred than the other. Turning the grilled cheese so that the less burned side was facing upward, he went into the dining room and sat at the glass table in time to hear the beginning of an argument breaking out in the living room between failing musician and eloquent critic. “The music you’re playing is simply too loud, Maul,” Thrawn was saying. “It’s an assault on the auditory system of everyone who hears it.” “I can’t hear you over the sound of my music,” snapped Maul, and Vader heard him rising from the chair where he must have been sitting to listen to Thrawn’s critique. Then Vader could hear nothing but Maul’s guitar and a door slamming as Thrawn disappeared into the backyard. Out the viewport, Vader could see the blue Chiss in gray slacks and white suit jacket punching a giant stuffed bear (called a Teddy bear, Vader recalled, after some long-dead king of Rutan who had loved nature and hunting). No doubt, Thrawn was trying to channel his temper against a target that wasn’t Maul’s face, but Vader wished that he wouldn’t expend the effort. Munching on his grilled cheese, Vader soaked in the strange sight that was the stately Grand Admiral Thrawn punching a giant stuffed bear and decided he must be living in a particularly profane parody or a very vivid nightmare. He couldn’t be sure which, and that would probably drive him as crazy as Maul’s music. The only certainty he could cling to was that Grand Admiral Thrawn would be to blame for this inevitable onset of madness.