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THE ENLOE CHRONICLESChapter 9AGGRESSIVE NEGOTIATIONS






    







Although officially neutral in the Clone Wars, the peaceful planet Ithor of the Ottega System has fallen under surveillance by Separatist forces, who keep a watchful eye on the hovering herdship estate of Ambassador Tame Heem.





With Republic troops stretched to the limit, the pacifist Ithorians and visitors to their planet find Ithor to be virtually defenseless. However rumors persist that the Republic is sending a group of Jedi emissaries to meet with Ambassador Tame Heem; who made the fateful decision to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems.





The sight of several occupying Battle Droids marching through the streets of the herdship is a grim reminder that without an army of their own, the Ithorians will always be vulnerable to aggressive forces outside their peaceful system.

To many Ithorians, it is unacceptable for the droid armies to even set foot on the massive herdships above the sacred jungle planet below.






Soon, the emissaries arrive on the planet and are greeted by Ithorian Geraint Tue Towler and Consort Towam Loudain.

“Welcome to Ithor, Master Jedi,” Consort Towam Loudain says kindly. “You have no cause to worry; the Battle Droid garrison here has been ordered to allow for your party to travel freely on this herdship.”

“Thank you, and greetings from the Republic, Geraint and Consort,” Jedi Master Shaak Ti replies as she greets their hosts. “We are grateful for the opportunity to discuss the future relationship between the Galactic Senate and the good people of Ithor.”






“This war is proving to be much harder than expected for the Republic,” Consort Towan Loudain replies. “There are many who do not wish to support a war that with an uncertain outcome.”

“Regardless, Ambassador Heem feels terrible for the debacle on Spahl VII and we all grieve for the Jedi who died that night,” Geraint Tue Towler replies. “The Ambassador will see you now. He is waiting for you at his dwelling.”






As the group follows Master Shaak Ti to Ambassador Heem’s home, an uneasy feeling comes over Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker.

“I sense it too,” Anakin says before his Master utters a word.






“Look how empty the plazas are,” Obi Wan observes. “These people are afraid. Something is about to happen.”





“We’re being watched,” Obi Wan continues. “I feel a great deal of hostility coming from an unknown source.”

“I feel it too, Master. But I’m not sure if it’s from the Ithorians,” Anakin adds.






Before arriving at their destination, the group is approached by Ambassador Tame Heem and his aid, Pon Gadon, who greets them nervously. Several Federation Security Droids flank the Ithorians.

“Welcome Jedi,” Pon says. “Welcome to Ithor, and our home. It is with great regret that we meet under such circumstances. But during desperate times, difficult decisions must be made.”

“It is good to see you both. We are grateful to have taken this first step to bring our governments back together as allies,” Shaak Ti replies kindly.






“I already know what you have to offer; Supreme Chancellor Palpatine has informed me that the Senate will reinstate my position without reprimand if we bring Ithor back into the Republic,” Tame Heem says.

“But I fear for my mother world. Count Dooku has guaranteed that as long as we offer our resources to his cause, no harm will come to out planet or our way of life. He even offers us protection from the Badoo Corba! The Republic never even offered such protection!”






“Truly? You say the Republic never aided you in your time of need… was it not the Republic that saved you from capture by the Trade Federation on Abridon? And were the Badoo Corba not involved with that plot?” Shaak Ti asks while she motions towards one of her escort troopers to step forward.

“Is protection truly your primary concern?”






“Of course, protection,” he says. “And Abridon was years ago. It was Rykrof Enloe who was responsible for my rescue and for that I am forever grateful. But now we face a full scale war, and Count Dooku has shown more dedication towards keeping us safe. I see no Republic battleships in this sector. Only those of the Confederacy.”





“Perhaps you should speak with him,” Obi Wan says to the trooper Shaak Ti had beckoned towards.

“Perhaps a more familiar face will ease the concerns of the good Ambassador.”






“Nice pure environment here on Ithor,” Rykrof says as he removes his helmet, taking in a deep breath of the fresh air.

“I can see why you want to protect it. Ironic though that you are unwilling to do so yourselves. Instead you expect for someone else to provide your protection.”






Shocked to see his friend and feeling embarrassed at the accusations, Tame Heem quickly regains his composure and greets Rykrof, while apologizing for what happened on Spahl VII.

“Because of your actions two Jedi and my entire squad were killed there,” Rykrof says as he stares the Ithorian down.

“You did what you thought you had to do at that moment in time,” Rykrof continues. “But a new alliance for your planet with the Republic is the only way you can spare your people from utter destruction in this war.”






“If you allow for the Separatists to deploy an unabridged occupation of your planet, the Supreme Chancellor will retaliate with a full scale attack,” Rykrof warns. “The consequences for your people will be beyond your comprehension.”

“You’re right, my friend,” Tame Heem says solemnly as he absorbs what his friend is telling him.

“Since the war broke out we have been living in fear, and because of this fear I made a terrible mistake. I will return with you to discuss the future relationship between our societies.”






“I’ve been looking forward to this,” a dark voice laughs from behind the group.

As the Republic committee turns around, to their horror, they find themselves confronted by Sora Bulq; a powerful former Jedi Master who has recently turned to the Dark Side of the Force.






“It’s a trap,” Obi Wan yells.

Immediately Rykrof and Shaak Ti turn on the droids escorting Ambassador Heem before they can register what has happened.






Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker already have their light sabers ignited before a single droid can get off a shot.





Realizing the situation may be more than the Jedi can handle; Rykrof comms his Wookiee ally, Ralbarr.

“We’re just north of the main hangar outside Tame Heem’s home. Get us out of here,” he orders into the comm link.






One by one, the droids begin to fall…





…as does the group’s lone true Clone Trooper.





Sensing Master Kenobi is in danger, Shaak Ti calls out to him.

“Obi Wan, are you alright?” Shaak Ti shouts above the laser fire.






“Just hold off those droids!” Obi Wan yells. “I can handle this!”





“Save yourself Obi Wan,” Sora Bulq hisses. “Give yourself to the darkness!”





“I expected more from you Obi Wan!” the dark Jedi laughs as he knocks his opponent to the ground.





“I’ll be happy to raise your expectations higher,” Anakin interjects before Sora can pounce on the Jedi.





Meanwhile, Shaak Ti and Rykrof regroup with Ambassador Heem while fending off the last of the droids.

“We need that gunship now!” she says.






“I am through playing games, Jedi!” Sora Bulq yells at Obi Wan and Anakin.





“Anakin, we can take him together,” Obi Wan says. “Follow my lead. Wait for the right moment to strike.”





Suddenly the team’s gunship arrives and opens fire on the remaining Separatists!





“Now’s our chance,” Anakin says. “We can take down Bulq!”

“Anakin, no!” Obi Wan shouts. “More droids!”






At that moment a group of droids entering the plaza opens a deadly barrage of laser blasts on the group!





“There’s too many of them,” one of the Clone pilots says. “Get on board!”





“Come on Ambassador,” Rykrof says as he pushes the terrified Ithorian towards the ship. “It’s now or never!”





Upon seeing Tame Heem, Ralbarr releases a ferocious roar.





“Shut up,” Rykrof yells. “Let him on board; we’re getting out of here!”





As the group narrowly evades blaster fire, a group of courageous Ithorian rebels suddenly open fire on the Separatists!





“We can’t hold out much longer,” the pilot shouts.





More droids pour into the plaza…





…and as the last of the Republic committee boards the ship, the Ithorians rebels become the sole target of the droid attackers.





Untrained for combat, the brave Ithorians fall to the droids; knowing their sacrifice has allowed for their Ambassador to escape to safety.





Sora Bulq watches as the gunship blasts off the estate of Tame Heem towards an awaiting Republic cruiser.

“Sir, our droid fighters are standing by to intercept them before they can escape,” a commanding droid says. “What are your orders?”






“Let them go,” the Dark Jedi says as he approaches the trembling leaders left behind. “We do not want to risk harm to the Ambassador. I will contact Count Dooku and update him on the situation.”





Safely away from the Separatist controlled herdship, Rykrof and the Jedi approach their awaiting cruiser; lucky to escape the system with the Ambassador unharmed.





Soon after, several leaders of the Separatist movement meet on Cato Neimoidia; a safe haven deep within the Confederacy.





Gathered in Nute Gunray’s personal quarters, Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray speaks with Foreman Wat Tambor of the Techno Union regarding the recent events.

“The war is not going as well as planned,” Nute Gunray says to his associate. “I have just received word from Count Dooku himself that Ambassador Tame Heem has returned to Coruscant!”






“Relax Viceroy; have patience,” Count Dooku says smoothly as he enters the quarters.

“Tame Heem is a fool. We will not make the mistake of trusting the Ithorians again and in time they will pay for their treachery. But more importantly, I would like to inform you that I am placing all of our combined droid armies under the direct control…”






“…of General Grievous.”

TO BE CONTINUED…




THE ENLOE CHRONICLES
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