Thanks in advance for any comments/feedback - and for reference, readers can also see past chapters at the links below... plus character profiles too:
The Enloe Trials Prologue: The Baron's Crusade
Chapter 1: Seeds of Insurrection
Chapter 2: Atrocity
Chapter 3: Revelations
Chapter 4: Shadow of Death
And the character profiles are as follows...
Rykrof Enloe - Homeworld - Naboo. Former Republic Commander, who is now an enemy of the Empire. He has a history of entanglements with the Badoo Corba terrorist organization, dating back prior to the Battle of Geonosis. He is former best friends with Imperial Baron Tylin Gere and has been forced to embark on a desperate mission to acquire an ancient Sith artifact for Tylin.
Alyssa Enloe - Homeworld - Naboo. The wife of Rykrof Enloe, Alyssa has lived a hard life being married to Rykrof, and has been the target of Rykrof's enemies over the years. She is a survivor, but is now in the captivity of Imperial Baron Tylin Gere.
Caldin Enloe - Homeworld - Naboo. The son of Rykrof and Alyssa Enloe. His grandmother was a Jedi Master. Former Jedi, Kala Mly Shundi, has sensed that the boy is Force-sensitive. Caldin is now in the captivity of Imperial Baron Tylin Gere.
Freelo Macklar - Homeworld - Dak. Former freelance scientist who became friends with Rykrof Enloe during the Clone Wars. Freelo has been known to be timid, but is extremely loyal to the Enloe family.
Kala Mly Shundi - Homeworld - Coruscant. Kala was once the apprentice of Rykrof Enloe's mother, who was a Jedi Master. Kala has flirted with the Dark Side of the Force and experienced terrible visions of the future. He barely survived Order 66, getting ambushed by clone troopers on Braatos VII. He now works with the Rebel Underground in the struggle against the Galactic Empire.
Traedon Cusiro - Homeworld - Corellia. Former bounty hunter who once worked for the Badoo Corba terrorists. He helped Rykrof escape from Separatists on Dathomir during the Clone Wars, but later attempted to kill Senator Padme Amidala. After escaping from prison, he swore an oath to bring down the Empire and joined forces with Kala Mly Shundi.
T-3PO - Homeword - Cybot Galactica. Protocol Droid that has served the Enloe family for years. He survived an Imperial attack on the Enloe homestead.
Baron Tylin Gere - Homeworld - Naboo. Former best friend of Rykrof Enloe, the two served as Republic Peace Officers prior to the Clone Wars and later as officers in the Grand Army of the Republic. Tylin thirsts for power and has become obsessed with acquiring an ancient Sith artifact. He has captured Alyssa and Caldin Enloe, and killed Rykrof's father. He has forced Rykrof's hand into working for him to acquire the Sith artifact.
Emperor Palpatine - Homeword - Naboo. Dark Lord of the Sith and the undisputed ruler of the Galactic Empire. Attempted to mold Rykrof Enloe but failed. He takes great interest in Baron Tylin Gere's quest to acquire an ancient Sith artifact.
Darth Vader - Homeworld - Tatooine. Dark Lord of the Sith and follows the instructions of his master, Emperor Palpatine. During the Clone Wars, he was once friends with Rykrof Enloe. He considers Rykrof a traitor to the Empire but also is fully aware that Rykrof once helped protect Padme Amidala.
Dathomir... a twisted world...
...one which Rykrof Enloe swore he would never again set foot upon.
Yet, in order to save his family from Imperial Baron Tylin Gere, Rykrof has been forced to acquire an ancient Sith artifact... which is believed to be housed in an abandoned Imperial research facility...
...where the horrific power of the artifact has been unleashed!
As Rykrof's strike team enters the base, the foul stench of decaying flesh overwhelms his men.
"And I thought the forest smelled bad," Freelo groans.
"You're sure it's safe to breathe in here?" Rykrof asks his new ally.
"Positive," Ganton confirms.
"The toxin never went airborne."
"But watch your step," he continues as the group follows his lead.
"There's things down here far worse than what you've seen outside this place."
"Things like what?" Freelo asks.
"Things like I never thought could exist... the Badoo Corba had provided prisoners that the scientists were using..." Ganton frowns.
"This artifact you're after holds a power that's... it's..."
"...it's just not natural."
"Ganton, have you ever heard of a Murakami orchid?" Freelo asks.
"No... I can't say that I have," Ganton confesses.
"It's been said that generations ago, a Sith Lord created a formula using one of these rare flowers that caused the dead to rise... driven by a hunger for the flesh of the living," he explains.
"What we're seeing here with the artifact... may be connected to this legend."
Meanwhile, the voices of the group have attracted an inhabitant of the facility...
"Come on, you guys," Caller shouts back to the group.
"I'm not seeing anything down here to worry about..."
"NO!" Caller screams!
"Get it OFF me!"
Just then, Rykrof fires a laser blast through its skull!
"Like Ganton said; watch your step," Rykrof frowns.
"Holy mother of Alderaan," Caller exhales with relief.
"That was close..."
"How much further until we reach the lab?" Rykrof turns to Ganton.
"Still a ways to go," Ganton replies.
"There's a checkpoint station several corridors down. Once we reach that, we'll be just a few chambers away from the lab."
"I really hope Kala gets here soon," Freelo softly whimpers.
Several kilometers south, Traedon Cusiro, Kala Mly Shundi and HK-88 continue their journey to the complex...
...and come across an abandoned Imperial hover tank.
"Well, what have we here?" Traedon smirks.
The former bounty hunter quickly leaps onto the vehicle...
"If we're lucky, there may be some supplies in this bucket of rust," he smiles.
To his surprise, the hatch pops open...
...and an undead occupant attempts to pounce on him!
"Son of a bitch!" Traedon yells as he stumbles backward...
"Nraaaalaaah!!!!!" his attacker bellows...
...before being cut apart by Kala Mly Shundi!
"It is unwise to stray from the group," Kala says.
"Thanks," Traedon laughs, though shaken.
"I had it under control though."
"This... infestation... must be stopped," Kala replies as Traedon finishes off the decrepit body laying before them.
"Forget the tank," Kala continues.
"We don't have time to salvage materials. We must be on our way to the facility. I sense Rykrof is already there."
"I also feel... a presence..."
In a flash, the team's assassin droid is destroyed!
"Your mission ends here, JEDI," Lord Vader hisses.
"Traedon, get to the complex..."
"Are you crazy?"
"...the mission is what matters," Kala replies as he turns to face Vader.
Although conflicted, Traedon heeds the order...
"May the Force be with you, old friend," he prays.
"A brave gesture," Vader says as he approaches Kala.
"But your sacrifice will mean nothing. You have already failed to save your friends."
"You're wrong, Vader. Or should I refer to the boy I once knew?"
"You live in the past," Vader responds as their lightsabers clash.
"...and in doing so, will soon suffer the same fate as your brethren."
"My death will gain you nothing," Kala snarls.
"With each day, the Empire's enemies grow..."
"...the day will come when the entire galaxy comes crashing down on you."
"I sense your fear," Vader laughs.
"It once gave you strength... it now makes you weak!"
Kala then turns, knowing his only chance to save Rykrof is to lead Vader far from the complex...
All the while, Vader's troops have entered the facility...
...and are moving closer to Rykrof's team.
"This must be it," Caller grins.
"The checkpoint station!"
"Last time I was here, this door was sealed," Ganton observes.
"Well, lucky for us; it's open," Freelo smiles.
"Don't you get it, Freelo?"
"This door was sealed for a reason."
At that moment, the Stormtroopers enter the chamber!
"Damn it," Rykrof curses as the room fills with laser fire!
"It's a trap!"
"They must have followed us!" Rykrof shouts as Caller takes down one of the armored troops.
"FREELO! Look out!"
Showing no mercy, the Imperials continue their assault...
...as the undead Badoo Corba prisoner prepares to lunge on Freelo!
"Freelo, get down!" Rykrof yells...
...as he blows a hole through the attacker's face!
"Come on," Rykrof continues.
"...we have to get out of here!"
"They're heading to the lab!"
"Move in with caution," Commander Resibar orders his men.
"They won't get far."
Two corridors down, Caller removes his helmet.
"Damn... helping you isn't anything like I expected," he wheezes.
"I know the feeling," Freelo trembles.
"Not sure... how much more of this I can take... and Ganton... poor Ganton..."
"You're doing good, Freelo," Rykrof assures him.
"And I promise... I'll get you out of here once we have the artifact."
"Those Stormtroopers are coming," Caller warns.
"We need to keep moving," Rykrof agrees.
"We're almost to the lab."