POSTED! The last chapter was posted on Jan 1 -- so it's been a while! Time have been crazy busy at my work and personal life, so getting this chapter up this quick is not something I expected -- thank you all in advance for any comments/feedback -- it's very appreciated -- and for reference, readers can also see past chapters at the links below:
The Enloe Trials Prologue: The Baron's Crusade
Chapter 1: Seeds of Insurrection
Chapter 2: Atrocity
Chapter 3: Revelations
Chapter 4: Shadow of Death
Chapter 5: Depths of Despair
And the character profiles are below:
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 Clone Wars. He is a former close friend of Imperial Baron Tylin Gere and has been forced to embark on a desperate mission to acquire an ancient Sith artifact for Tylin - which has recently ended in failure. He now carries an unbearable burden... the only way to save his family is to betray his Jedi ally, Kala Mly Shundi.
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 and has grown to resent his father.
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 and a terrible ordeal on Dathomir.
Baron Tylin Gere - Homeworld - Naboo. Former close ally 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, which was recently acquired by Darth Vader, who he secretly sees as a rival. He has taken custody of Alyssa and Caldin Enloe, and ordered the death of Rykrof's father.
Emperor Palpatine - Homeword - Naboo. Dark Lord of the Sith and the undisputed leader of the Galactic Empire. Attempted to mold Rykrof Enloe as the ideal Imperial officer but failed. He takes great interest in Baron Tylin Gere's personal quests for power and admires his ambition.
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. However, his loyalties to Emperor Palpatine are secure.
Another dark, cool night on Dathomir's Aisle of Mist...
...which has become infested with the undead!
Near the eastern coast of the island, Kala Mly Shundi swiftly maneuvers through the Dathomir foliage.
He knows the only chance for Rykrof to have time to recover the Sith artifact is to lead Darth Vader as far away from his friend as possible...
...and soon, he may be forced to sacrifice himself in order to save his friends.
Less than a kilometer away, Vader cuts down a bloodthirsty inhabitant of the forest...
...but is careful to avoid them in groups, when possible.
He senses the Jedi's position and continues to push forward...
...and is unexpectedly met by one of his seeker droids.
The droid hovers before Vader...
...and informs him that the Emperor wishes to make contact.
"Open the communication channel."
A beam of light then emits from the droid's projector unit...
...and Darth Vader respectfully takes one knee.
"You disappoint me, Lord Vader," his master sneers.
"Your orders were to observe the situation... not to get involved."
"Enloe's Jedi companion is a threat," Vader attempts to explain.
"And the artifact's contents have been released... if Tylin Gere acquires it, his forces will be overrun."
"Then see to it that the artifact is secured," Palpatine hisses.
"But don't let this Jedi draw you away from the objective..."
"...and open your eyes to the opportunity that has presented itself," Palpatine pauses.
"This Jedi has been protecting others in hiding..."
"Kala Mly Shundi will lead me to other Jedi?" Vader asks.
"I have foreseen it," the Emperor smiles.
"But Enloe's role is vital... leverage the situation with his family to our advantage... report to me once you have completed this task."
Once the transmission ends, Vader stands to his full height...
...and Kala senses that his enemy's focus has shifted.
Meanwhile, Traedon Cusiro has tracked down Rykrof's protocol droid, T-3PO.
"I'm saved!" T-3PO springs to life.
"Badoo Corba agents... here on Dathomir... and horrifying beings..."
"Yeah, I know," Traedon grimaces.
"The group's split up all over the place... I found Doskin's body...or what was left of it..."
"Oh dear," the droid laments.
"I hope nothing's happened to Master Enloe!"
"He was headed toward the complex," Traedon says.
"Follow me... and keep your voice down."
"I should have stayed on Urelia," the droid mutters.
Nearby, Rykrof has entered the heart of the Imperial research facility...
"The lab's down this hall," he nods.
"There's a functioning droid in there," Freelo adds.
"Don't forget we've got Stormtroopers following us still," Caller reminds the pair.
"Just keep a lookout," Rykrof insists.
"I'll be quick."
"Who are you?" an Imperial research droid inquires.
"Badoo Corba agents?"
"No... we're not Badoo Corba agents; we were sent here to recover the artifact..." Rykrof explains.
"...by Baron Tylin Gere."
"I see," the droid responds.
"Then you are free to take it to him."
"But as I'm sure you're aware, the results of the procedure have been... mixed."
"What was the intended purpose of the procedure?" Freelo asks.
"The resurrection of Amalaech," the droid responds.
"Is that what this is all about? Bringing back a religious Badoo Corba prophet?"
"That was the intent," the droid explains.
"When the procedure failed, they blamed the Sunnellion scientists that were contracted to administer the contents of the relic."
"They tortured... and forced injections into the scientists... resulting in the outbreak..."
At that moment, the hand of the lead scientist reaches for Freelo...
In a flash, a laser blast from Rykrof's weapon sizzles through her skull!
"This is intolerable," Freelo exhales.
"Here they come!" Caller suddenly yells.
A laser blast then zips past Caller, right into the droid!
"Caller, get down!" Rykrof shouts!
Several shots blaze past the trooper...
...but it's too late for Caller...
...as he is gunned down by the Imperials.
"Dammit!" Rykrof yells.
Right then, Freelo slips, narrowly avoiding a laser blast...
...and is rendered unconscious!
"Hold your fire," the lead trooper shouts.
Rykrof then watches in disbelief...
...as Darth Vader enters the lab!
Unable to raise his weapon, Rykrof's heart races as the Dark Lord approaches him.
"Good; the relic is undamaged," Vader observes.
"As for you," he turns.
"...your next actions will determine your fate."
"...and of those you hold dear."
"What do you mean by that?" Rykrof asks.
At that moment, Vader drops a tracking device at Rykrof's feet.
"Leave this complex, and see to it that your Jedi ally takes you to his hidden base," he hisses.
"Once you have arrived, activate the beacon."
"You can't..." Rykrof starts to protest...
"There will be no negotiations," Vader insists.
"Do exactly as I say, or your wife and son will be destroyed."
"There is a functioning Badoo Corba shuttle in the north landing bay for your escape," Vader explains as he turns away.
Rykrof then picks up the tracking device...
...and conceals it.
"Secure the artifact," Vader orders his men.
"And allow Enloe and his friends to escape."
Outside, Traedon and T-3PO have reached the perimeter of the complex.
"This looks bad," Traedon observes.
"They've got this place locked down pretty tight."
"I'm going to need for you to distract those Stormtroopers."
"Distract them?" T-3PO objects.
"Sir, given my current condition..."
"Quiet," Kala Mly Shundi whispers as he approaches the pair.
"Wasn't sure I'd see you again," Traedon admits to the Jedi.
"Something has happened inside the facility," Kala says, changing the subject.
"I sense a disturbance in the Force."
"Like what?" Traedon asks.
"I'm not sure. But this mission... has failed."
"I wholeheartedly agree with you," T-3PO announces.
Back inside the complex, Rykrof helps Freelo to his feet.
"I'm okay... but what happened?" the Mon Calamari asks.
"Caller's dead... I'll explain the rest after we get out of here," Rykrof tells his friend.
"Stay close to me."
"But... where's the relic?"
"The Imperials took it," Rykrof replies.
"Just be ready for whatever may be on the other side of this door."
Once outside, Rykrof and Freelo find themselves at the north landing bay.
"Look on the far end," Rykrof grins.
"That shuttle looks operational!"
"I'll clear a path," he says.
"If something happens to me, get to any ship you can and get out of here."
Rykrof then eyes a metal rod that could be useful for defending himself at close range.
"There's so many of them," Freelo observes.
"...they're coming from all sides..."
"...maybe it's safer back inside?"
"If you want to get out of here, that shuttle's your best option," Rykrof argues.
The undead then begin to focus on Rykrof...
...who fires a quick shot through the skull of the closest one.
He then recognizes the walking corpse of Mubaas Fuuda!
"Death's too good for you; you son of a bitch," Rykrof growls.
He then blasts a hole through the former leader of the Badoo Corba!
Rykrof then quickly spins, blasting the would-be attacker!
"That was too close," Rykrof says.
He then smashes through the helmet of the last undead blocking their path!
"That ought to do it," Rykrof coughs.
But more of the artifact's victims continue to take notice to the commotion...
"Quit dragging your feet, Freelo!" Rykrof yells.
"I did all the work here!"
"I was covering your blind side," Freelo retorts.
Rykrof then opens the hatch...
...as more of the undead move in.
Within moments, the two survivors are safe!
In the adjacent courtyard, several Stormtroopers stand guard...
...as the Imperials prepare to disembark from the infested island.
"Well? Did Enloe escape?" Darth Vader asks Commander Resibar.
"Enloe and his companion just made it to the shuttle," the trooper reports.
"Good," Vader replies as he turns away.
"I will inform the Emperor of our success..."
"...there is no need to stay on this planet any longer than necessary."