Coruscant was a rotting pit and he hated it. There was Darkness here, enough to be useful for his needs, but it was the weak, feeble darkness of decay and he would not stay here long. For all this planet was famed as the center of the Republic, there was no power here. It’s upper level citizens dithered over useless arguments and it’s lower level citizens were too busy scrabbling to eke out their worthless lives out of crumbling durasteel to pursue anything actually worth having.
The worst thing of all was that blight rising up above its neighbors - the Jedi Temple. He sneered involuntarily at the the thought of it and double checked his cloaking. Even here beneath the business district, he could smell the cloying scent of the Light and it sickened him. He shifted silently on his perch and resisted spitting the taste out of his mouth.
A shape moved out of the corner of his vision and he grinned. His brother had done his job well. The human - red-haired, scarred, and dressed in shabby cast offs - walked unaware along the path that they had chosen for him just off track from his usual route home. Just a moment longer and one brother would lead the human to the alley where the other was waiting.
The human stopped. He frowned. Why had the human stopped?
“Are we going to play this game all night?” the human called out, Coruscanti accented voice too well-bred for these levels. “I was hoping to be able to buy groceries before the corner shop closes.”
He felt his brothers’ questions along their bond and answered them with a quick snap. One brother walked out from the alley and the other rounded the wreck of a long abandoned speeder. Both were broad shouldered and tall. The human should have been afraid, alone and apparently unarmed in the presence of two menacing beings, but the human grinned and looked up.
“And you!” he called out. “Don’t be shy!”
He growled, annoyance flaring hot in his belly, and jumped down from his perch. He didn’t bother cushioning the fall with the Force and landed with a solid thud on the cracked duracrete. His boots stomped heavily as he approached the grinning man and the man kept grinning, even as he came within arm’s reach of the human.
Maul snarled and threw back his hood and ignored his brothers’ shocked pings along their bonds. The human did not move, merely nodded at the confirmation of Maul’s identity. Maul clenched his fists, but did not otherwise move.
“You are Obi-Wan Kenobi,” he ground out, voice low.
“I am,” the man answered conversationally. He turned to the tallest of the brothers. “And you are Savage. I’m afraid I don’t know your name,” he admitted, turning to the last brother and holding out his hand. They all waited, looking at the man’s outstretched hand. After a moment, Maul rolled his eyes and nodded to his brother.
“Feral,” he said, trying not to sound startled as he lowered his hood. “My name is Feral.”
Kenobi pulled his hand back smoothly when Feral didn’t offer his, seemingly unbothered. The man didn’t move as Savage moved to take his hood down, too. It was pointless to keep hiding their faces if the human already knew who they were.
“What can I do for you?” Kenobi asked, turning back to Maul. He dropped the mischievous grin. His blue-green eyes were sharp and the flickering streetlamps cast deep, shifting shadows across the man’s scarred face. Maul sent a tendril of the Dark out against Kenobi’s shields and, for a moment, Kenobi let his drop. A torrent of blazing heat and white pain seared along the inside of Maul’s skull before Kenobi put his shields back up. Feral and Savage fidgeted uneasily at the edge of Maul’s blurred vision.
“I want to know how you discovered my Master’s existence.” Kenobi blinked at his words.
“Your Order did not suspect us for nearly a thousand years, Kenobi. Yet you were only a .boy when you discovered and defeated Sidious and Plagueis. I want to know how.”
“Will you let me go after I tell you?” Kenobi didn’t sound worried. Maul nodded.
“Very well,” the man said with a sigh. “I lived another life and your Master succeeded in his plans. He named himself Emperor and, through his machinations, killed just about every person I had ever cared about. After my death, I woke up.”
“A vision,” Feral said, awed. Maul grimaced. He’d had visions, short jumbled things that were only slightly less useless than his natural instincts, but Feral was fascinated with them. Kenobi shrugged.
“Possibly. I really couldn’t say. But that’s how I knew who he was and what might stop him. It’s how I could sense you. You were the first Sith I ever faced. I’d know your presence anywhere.”
“The Jedi that have been following me - was that you?” Maul snarled.
“Indirectly. I identified you as Sidious’ apprentice, but if you have been followed, that was the doing of the High Council.” Maul nodded, accepting this answer as the truth. Before Maul could respond, Kenobi spoke again. “I don’t think I ever really believed that they’d find you.”
“So little faith in your Order?” Maul sneered.
“You had eluded them before. There were whispers after the War about a ghost on Malachor. With the Jedi dead and younglings going untrained, it was sometimes easy to sense another Force sensitive, even from across the galaxy. I never felt your death, but I could never feel you alive either. I suspected you had turned to those Temples after… everything. There weren’t any Dark cults left to turn to.”
“He killed them?” Maul asked, surprised. Sidious had always preached the superiority of the Dark Side and how their Darkness would spread once they revealed themselves to the universe. He had gained Maul himself through an alliance with the Nightsisters.
“He betrayed everyone,” Kenobi said icily. “Allies, enemies, it didn’t matter. He only wanted power for himself. Even his apprentices were his slaves, never his successors.”
Maul felt it bloom like fresh blood in his chest and the Force sang. This was the truth he had been looking for. This was the validation of his path in the Dark. Angry and bitter after his Master failed to come for him, he had scraped together a distress beacon out of the remains of his training droids and abandoned his Master’s teachings. He had run, waiting for his Master to hunt him down and punish him for his insolence. When he finally saw his Master’s face on the holonews reporting him dead, Maul had fled to the Outer Rim and followed rumours of Dark side cults. He had heard his Master’s voice in the back of his mind for years dismissing what he had learned from the Bando Gora and the Nightsisters.
Kenobi studied him, eyes narrowing and humming thoughtfully. Maul could feel the Jedi reaching out with the Force, but he couldn’t recognize what Kenobi was reaching for. The air stilled around them and Maul felt the prickling of static along his skin. Savage and Feral opened and closed their fists, watching Maul for any sign that they should reach for their still-new lightsabers. Maul waited. Kenobi took two steps forward and the air crackled in his wake.
“The Jedi have a prophecy,” Kenobi said, the tones in his voice looping back on themselves. “They say that there will be a Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force. In my past, the High Council believed it was my Padawan and their expectation brought the Order down around them. My former Master, in this life, has confessed that he believes that the murder of your Masters proves that I am the One.”
“You don’t believe that,” Maul scoffed, breath puffing out in the chilled air between them.
“Perhaps it is you, Darth Maul.” Kenobi tilted his head as he spoke and Maul’s name echoed deep and resonant in Kenobi’s voice. “The Force has a Light side and a Dark side. It always has. It always will. You are the only one now that can claim the title Sith. It is yours. Make your choices wisely.”
In an eyeblink, Kenobi brought his mismatched hands up on either side of Maul’s head and Maul grit his teeth against the onslaught of images that were forced into his mind. He saw identical bodies of fallen slaves, repeating year after year. He saw planets die, starved and burned. He saw TyrannusVentressVader and his Master’s chains. He felt the vacuum in the Force after blaster fire and ashes. His hearts hammered in his chest and just before the pressure burned white hot, it stopped. Kenobi stepped back, let out a breath, and turned to walk away. The air settled as if nothing had unusual happened.
“Why would you show me this?” Maul asked hoarsely before Kenobi turned the corner. “We were enemies. You hated me.”
“I may not look it,” Kenobi said wryly and Maul could see him smirk, “But I am an old man, Maul. I have lived long enough to see my friends become my enemies and to see old enemies become my friends. Whichever way your path takes you, I will be watching.”
The grin Kenobi gave him as he left was feral and dangerous. The Force whispered, pleased, and Maul grinned back with a low growl in his chest and a low hiss on his tongue. The path was a clear void in his mind and he felt… good. Sure..
“What.” Savage stammered as he began pacing in a small circle. “What was that. That was-”
“A challenge,” Maul purred.
“Karking mad,” Feral muttered, eyes still glazed over and staring in the direction that Kenobi had left. Maul laughed.
“Get back to the ship,” Maul barked, turning and stalking down the shadowed streets. “Let’s see what’s so interesting on Malachor.”