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Battles continue to rage across the Republic; as neither side has gained an upper hand in the in the greatest clash the galaxy has ever bore witness to…

…the Clone Wars.

Following a recent terrorist attack on Coruscant, Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi and his Padawan, Anakin Skywalker have been sent to destroy a cache of Confederacy weapons on the dim world Nivek.

“Stay focused on the mission Anakin,” Obi Wan tells his student. “I sense your distraction. Are you still wishing you had been sent with Commander Enloe to Dathomir rather than fight alongside your mentor?”

“Of course not Master,” Anakin replies, attempting to conceal his thoughts to himself. “It’s nothing.”

“Well your mind is elsewhere,” the elder Jedi says, “And so is your heart. You must distance yourself from attachments Anakin, or you will never fulfill your destiny and become a Jedi Knight.”

Elsewhere across the galaxy on the peaceful world Naboo, Republic Commander Rykrof Enloe has made an unscheduled visit to his home planet before a scheduled mission to destroy a Badoo Corba terror cell on Dathomir.

From a distance, Senator Padme Amidala watches as Rykrof bids farewell to his wife, Alyssa.

“You shouldn’t have come home,” Alyssa warns her husband. “What will the Chancellor say?”

“He won’t even know,” Rykrof assures her. “I had to see you and the baby,” he says. “Besides, the Badoo Corba has no idea that we’ve located their base on Dathomir. The least I could do was come home to see my family before the mission.”

“Just be careful,” she begs him. “And hurry back. The last place I want you going is to some wild planet looking for those terrorists!”

As her husband’s shuttles depart, Alyssa Enloe wonders when the love of her life will return… or if her child will ever remember its father.

Meanwhile, Anakin Skywalker has returned to the Republic fleet following his mission to Nivek with Obi Wan Kenobi…

…and immediately contacts his secret love on Naboo.

“Anakin!” Padme says with joy as her image appears via the holonet.

“Padme, I’m sorry I haven’t contacted you before today. The mission with Obi Wan took longer than expected,” he tells her. “But we were successful. We’re one step closer to winning this war.”

“Just seeing your face makes up for the lost time,” Padme says warmly. “But I must admit I was jealous of Alyssa Enloe today when Rykrof showed up unexpectedly to visit her.”

“Enloe was on Naboo?” Anakin asks.

“Just for a short time Anakin,” she tells him. “But Alyssa looked so happy to see him. I wish you could have been here too,” she says before changing the subject.

“…as do I, my love,” he says softly, though his thoughts revolve around Rykrof disobeying a direct order to report straight to Dathomir.

Following the transmission, young Skywalker seeks the wisdom of a true friend.

Anakin quickly details what he has learned to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

“I’m not surprised,” the ruler of the Senate says. “Commander Enloe has not seen his family in some time.”

“But his orders were to go straight to Dathomir,” Anakin counters.

“Yes, they were,” Palpatine admits. “And those orders should have been followed,” he says with a stern look.

“Therefore, the question presents itself: Where do Rykrof Enloe’s loyalties lie?

“I’m not sure,” Anakin says softy.

“Neither am I,” the Chancellor replies. “Anakin, you did the right thing bringing this information to me. If the Badoo Corba has used this window of opportunity to escape from Dathomir, Commander Enloe will be held accountable for dereliction of duty.”

“You have become a great Jedi Anakin,” Palpatine then says. “I only hope the Council understands this as I do.”

Soon after, Rykrof’s assault team arrives in Dathomir space.

Expecting to land on the planet safely, they are unprepared as they are confronted by a Separatist Fleet!

Without hesitation, the battleships open fire on Rykrof’s ships…

…unable to jump to the safety of hyperspace, the convoy is defenseless against the attack.

Outnumbered and outgunned, Rykrof has no choice but to order his troops to launch their escape pods.

While the Separatist fleet does manage to destroy most of the escape pods, several vessels evade the deadly turbo lasers and enter the atmosphere of the dark planet below.

Soon, word of a distress signal from Commander Enloe’s convoy is brought to the attention of the Supreme Chancellor by Commander Tylin Gere, a close friend of Rykrof Enloe.

“Commander Gere, I want to personally give you my condolences for your friend, Commander Enloe,” the Chancellor says as he embraces Rykrof’s good friend at the Republic Alpha Security Complex.

“It appears a Separatist fleet was in the Dathomir system when he arrived. We have yet to receive word of any survivors,” Tylin informs him.

“The situation doesn’t look good, and he’s also a very close friend,” Tylin continues after a brief pause.

“Of course he his. There is no doubt in that. And little doubt that if someone survived the attack, it would be Commander Enloe,” Palpatine says thoughtfully. “But we now both know where his loyalties lie,” he continues.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Tylin replies. “Rykrof is loyal to the Republic. He always has been.”

“True, but we know that your friend took a detour to Naboo before carrying out his mission; thus giving the Badoo Corba an opportunity to escape,” Palpatine says sternly.

“He must therefore face consequences upon his return; if he’s even alive… think about it Commander Gere. If it came down to it, which would your friend lay down his life for? For the Republic or for his family on Naboo?”

“His family means everything to him,” Tylin replies.

“As it should,” the older man agrees. “But without the Republic, his family and the people of Naboo would be under oppression from the Separatists, or even the Badoo Corba. You see, the Republic can survive without Naboo, but Naboo can not survive without the Republic.”

“True,” Tylin agrees.

“Your friend fails to realize that,” Palpatine says in an exhausted tone. “Because of this he had disobeyed direct orders and put himself and others in a situation that has most likely cost them their lives.”

“This could have been our one chance to eliminate the Badoo Corba. Commander Gere, you must understand that if your friend is alive and if he is ever allowed to return to service, we must be weary of his allegiance. He could betray the Republic. He could betray you.”

“I don’t…” Tylin mutters.

“You don’t have to say anything,” the supreme ruler of the Republic says as he begins to exit the complex. “I’m sure there are other more important matters to for you to attend to.”

“But in the meantime I will personally evaluate the risk of attempting a rescue, and decide if it is worth bringing him back here to face a trial,” Palpatine says.

“But it appears it would be a waste of resources to try and find him.”

Following the surprise attack on Rykrof Enloe’s assault team, General Grievous has summoned Commander Asajj Ventress, a cold-hearted, merciless Force sensitive operative of Count Dooku to search the planet below for any survivors.

“Count Dooku himself has insisted that you personally dispose of any survivors,” the general of the droid armies informs her. “Take a battalion of droids to the surface. Do not return without the head of Commander Enloe.”

Although Asajj Ventress internally questions why she would be sent to dispose of a mere Republic commander who could very well already be dead, she restrains from questioning General Grievous of the rationale behind Count Dooku’s orders.

“Count Dooku will be pleased,” Grievous laughs. “There will be no escape for this fool Rykrof Enloe!”

Meanwhile, Rykrof wakes from an unconscious state and is helped to his feet by a surviving clone trooper.

“Do you have any injuries, Sir?” the trooper asks.

“I think I’m just a little dazed,” Rykrof tells him as he looks around. “Wow, this place is disgusting,” he observes.

“Affirmative Sir,” the clone confirms.

“Ok, we’ve got to start looking for survivors,” Rykrof says. “Do you know the status of any other pods that made it to the surface?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ve seen one approximately 200 meters to the east,” the trooper replies.

Rykrof is dismayed to see that one of the troopers did not survive the landing.

“Broken neck,” one clone trooper advises Rykrof. “We came in so hard it’s a wonder any of us made it.”

“I guess we have to consider ourselves lucky then,” Rykrof says dryly.

“We’ll continue our search until nightfall,” he then says, thinking aloud. “Then we can see if we can find a shelter for the night.”

Rykrof and his known surviving troopers then begin to search the dank swamp for any other survivors…

…unaware of the true dangers that await them on Dathomir…

…or why the Separatists have taken control of the system.


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