I am very thankful to the forum members and readers who have supported me in this series for such a long, long time. The same goes for my fellow staff at Yakface.com, different friends around the community like Jeditempleachives & Imperialshipyards too. I would also be remiss to not mention forum member Lance Quazar, who has for years been happy to talk with me "behind the scenes" before the chapters are posted.
I've also been fortunate enough to purchase some amazing playsets/dioramas that add some great visuals to the series, most notably from Owen Driscoll and forum member EMPIRE.
So again -- thank you readers and forum members all in advance for any comments/feedback -- it's very appreciated -- 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
Chapter 5: Depths of Despair
Chapter 6: Seekers of the Dark Relic
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 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.
A lone Imperial Star Destroyer disembarks from the small planet, Dathomir...
...as Darth Vader makes contact with the Emperor.
"Greetings, my master. The artifact has been secured."
"You have done well, Lord Vader," Emperor Palpatine smiles via holo transmission.
"What of Baron Gere? He was working with the terrorists... and attempting to obtain the relic for his own gains."
"Men like Gere are useful. For now, a governorship in the Ostara system should satisfy his ambitions."
"And Enloe's family...?"
"They are now the property of Baron Gere," the Emperor hisses.
"I want Kala Mly Shundi's rebel faction eliminated..." he pauses.
"...that will be the end of Rykrof Enloe and his pathetic band of allies."
"Enloe will soon reveal the location of their hidden base," Vader confirms.
"Then I will see to it that they are destroyed."
On the surface of Dathomir, Rykrof's friends take a moment to rest.
"This is madness," T-3PO whails.
"I never should have come to this horrible planet with you dreadful people!"
"We will be leaving soon enough..." Kala Mly Shundi assures the droid.
"...our transport has arrived."
The group watches as a rusty Badoo Corba ship slowly descends...
"Anyone need a lift?" Rykrof asks.
"It's a miracle," the droid exclaims.
"I've been rescued!"
Far on the other side of the galaxy, Tylin Gere has arrived on Naboo.
A pair of Imperial Stormtroopers stand guard outside the residence of Alyssa Enloe...
...who has been deceived regarding her husband's actions.
Tylin approaches the Enloe homestead...
...and eyes the woman of his inner most desires.
"Alyssa," Tylin frowns, "I'm sorry with the terrible news I shared earlier about Rykrof."
"I trust you have packed your things for our departure?"
"I can't just abandon my husband," she insists.
"But, Rykrof actions on Dathomir have put you and your son in danger," Tylin objects.
"It's not safe for you here...or for your son. There's no future with Rykrof any longer."
"I... have been granted ultimate authority of the Ostara System," Tylin continues as Alyssa sharply looks away.
"You must come with me, so I can protect you."
"Don't make me do this the hard way."
"We'll go with you," she concedes.
"But, first I need to explain this to Caldin."
"Inform my shuttle to prepare for departure at 1800 hours," Tylin informs his men.
"Mom?" Caldin shouts as he jumps off the couch.
"What's Baron Gere doing out there?"
"Sweetheart, we need to talk," she replies.
"About what?" the boy asks.
"Listen to me," his mother says, "We need to gather our belongings. We'll be leaving here for a while with Tylin."
"I'm so sorry, but your father can't come with us right now."
"Somehow, I already knew... he's never with us..."
"I hate him."
Meanwhile, the remote world known as Banyss receives visitors...
As Rykrof and his band of allies have arrived to meet with Kala Mly Shundi's rebel faction.
"What a piece of junk," one of the troopers observes.
The ship slowly descends...
...as a small welcoming committee prepares to greet their guests.
"It's good to see you all," Kala announces as the shuttle's hatch opens.
"Welcome back, Master Shundi," Ambassador Sulo smiles.
"We are sorry to hear of your experience on Dathomir."
"Oh, it's so good to be off that disgusting planet," T-3PO declares.
"Traedon said there is a mechanic here who will be able to mend you back together," Freelo smiles.
"So, this is Banyss?" Rykrof asks as he observes the outpost.
"Yes, and we are quite safe from the Empire here," Ambassador Sulo smiles.
"Come with me; there is someone who would like to see you."
While Rykrof and the others follow the ambassador, Freelo and T-3PO are escorted to meet with the rebel faction's chief mechanic.
"How long has this base been running?" Freelo asks.
"Since right after the end of the war," the trooper says.
"There's your guy," he points out.
"Talk to him about your droid."
"This doesn't look very impressive," Freelo observes.
"Well, it has to be an improvement over my current situation," T-3PO retorts.
"Ah, dumping off some scrap?" an overweight Gotal asks in a raspy voice.
"Scrap? What do you mean?" T-3PO demands.
"Wait..." the droid pauses.
"You're not a repairman!"
"I beg to differ," the Gotal growls.
"This here protocol unit was dropped off last week looking almost as bad as you do!"
"What have you done to him?" T-3PO cries.
"He looks hideous!"
"How much is this going to cost?" Freelo inquires.
"Freelo Macklar!" T-3PO shouts.
"You should be ashamed of yourself!"
"My master will gladly pay your fees, provided I am properly repaired."
"I make do with what parts I have lying around," the Gotal grunts.
"It looks like things are settled then," Freelo smiles.
"I'll be back to check on him in a couple days."
Nearby, Ambassador Sulo leads the group to the faction's leader.
"...as Kala shared with you earlier, there are other Jedi survivors here. We also have two surface stations like this one, and our power source is subterranean."
"And we are constantly enhancing our defenses."
"Ah," he stops.
"There he is."
"Rykrof Enloe!" former Republic Senator, Tame Heem, shouts.
"What a relief it is to see you alive!"
"Tame Heem..." Rykrof says in disbelief.
"You've got some explaining to do," Rykrof says sharply to his Jedi friend.
Sensing Rykrof's anger, former Jedi, Clorri Lislo, clutches her blaster...
"I realize past events may give you pause to trust me," the Ithorian calmly responds.
"But lest us not forget; you, yourself, faithfully served Palpatine for years."
Ignoring the Ithorian, Rykrof stares into the eyes of his Jedi friend.
"Why didn't you tell me you were working for him?"
"No matter the past, we are all bound by our common enemy," Kala replies.
"Hey now," Traedon smirks, "If you can work with me, you can work with anybody."
"Yeah? Well the leader of your group betrayed me at the end of the war and almost got me killed," Rykrof argues.
"I understand you are deeply concerned for your family," Tame says, changing the subject.
"We have an agent already tracking their location," he offers.
"Protecting them is my responsibility," Rykrof says as he distances himself from the group.
"And you people can't take the down the Empire."
The following morning, a native Dak'idyl passes the perimeter of the rebel base.
Moments later, it becomes startled and scampers into the distance...
...as Rykrof enters the outskirts of the wilderness.
Hoping to clear his head, he can't help but reflect on recent events...
...the destruction of his home...
...the death of his father...
...the abduction of his family...
...a horrific experience on Dathomir...
...a deal with Darth Vader...
...and an ultimate decision he must now make.
"This choice is yours, and yours alone," Kala Mly Shundi says.
Rykrof remains silent as his Jedi friend approaches him...
...he then turns his back to Kala.
"I'm a failure as a father," he confesses.
"Self-doubt is becoming your greatest weakness," Kala tells him.
"Vader has forced my hand," Rykrof replies.
"But you already knew this... how?"
"As you seek answers to your dilemma, you have become open to the Force like never before," Kala explains.
"This has allowed for your thoughts to betray you."
"And now you think I'm going to betray you and everyone here," Rykrof laments.
"Vader never expected for you to activate the device," Kala informs him.
"That device has a self-activation mechanism triggered by planetary gravitational pulls."
"Vader and his forces are likely already on their way," Kala says.
"...we don't have much time."