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THE ENLOE CHRONICLESChapter 21THE CHANCELLOR'S GIFT






    







It is a dark time throughout the galaxy.

The Clone Wars have spread like fire, pitting two of the largest armies in the history of the Republic against each other…






…clone soldiers of the Republic on the side of the Jedi;





…armies of droids bolstering the Confederate war machine.





Both sides have scored significant victories over the other…





…at different times during the war either has seemed likely to triumph.





As the conflict continues to escalate, Republic Commander Rykrof Enloe has undergone extensive treatments on Coruscant to heal wounds inflicted upon him during his imprisonment by terrorists on Yinchorr.





The days in recovery seemed sort of a dream, a phantasmal prison from which he would never awaken.

During this time Rykrof remembered how until recently the Republic had glittered, been the centerpiece of hope and prosperity… before the dark times; before the Clone Wars.






But even before the Clone Wars he had fought the terrorists of Badoo Corba for the better part of a decade…

…with the war effort now being concentrated against the Confederacy, the threat of terrorism had become an afterthought to the Galactic Senate; organizations such as the Badoo Corba free to gain strength and no longer vulnerable.






After his final treatment, rest and debriefing with Republic Intelligence, Rykrof is greeted by his friend, Freelo.

“You look terrible,” Freelo tells him gleefully.






“Where is everyone?” Rykrof asks, ignoring the inopportune comment by his often clumsy friend.

“Ralbarr went to Naboo to watch over Alyssa and Caldin,” Freelo says.






“…nobody knows where Kala is.”





“What do you mean nobody knows?” Rykrof asks sharply.





“He went looking for you,” Freelo tells him innocently.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” he asks as he follows the commander out of the facility.






“Chancellor Palpatine has requested to speak with me at a social gathering immediately,” Rykrof tells him.

“Whatever he has to say, it shouldn’t take long.”






Soon Rykrof arrives at a nearby senatorial drink lounge, where some of the most elite Republic Senators often enjoy a late night beverage.





“Good to see you Commander Enloe,” Peace Officer Hinge Ofile greets him.

“Chancellor Palpatine has been expecting you.”






As Rykrof enters the lounge, he quickly finds the bar.





“Hey there Scruffy Lookin’,” the sultry waitress says in a suggestive tone.





“See anything you like?”





“Perhaps,” Rykrof says with a grin.

“But for now just make it a double shot Correlian whiskey-bomb.”






“Strong stuff,” the young woman says as she fills his glass.





“Are you sure you can handle it?”





“Wait, I recognize you,” she says.

“You’re that guy who was on the holo net! You were captured by terrorists!”






“Thanks for the reminder,” Rykrof replies sarcastically.





Scanning the lounge, Rykrof spots Chancellor Palpatine speaking with his senior administrative aide, Sly Moore.





“Commander Enloe,” Palpatine smiles cheerfully.

“How good of you to join me on such short notice. I trust you have fully recovered from your injuries?”

“Yes, I’m fine Chancellor,” Rykrof replies as Palpatine’s aide leaves the two freely to speak in private.






“Excellent. Now tell me, I understand you had help on the inside on your escape. Is this true?” Palpatine asks.

“Yes it is,” Rykrof tells him.

“One of them helped me escape. Unfortunately he was killed in the process.”






“I would have liked to have spoken with the one who helped you escape,” Palpatine laments.

“But how did all of this transpire? What did you learn on Kobridor?”






“As I’m sure you know, the Quarren we were sent to find was already dead,” Rykrof tells him.





“Right after this discovery I was captured by the Badoo Corba. The entire mission was a trap.”





“My wife was captured and used as bait; I was forced to surrender myself over to them,” Rykrof explains.





“After my wife was released, I attempted to escape on my own…”





“…but never would have made it off the facility without help. His name was Judiss.”





“As he was shot down, I narrowly escaped off Yinchorr.”





“Well, we are fortunate to have you back in one piece,” the Chancellor says with a smile.

“We all know the threat the Badoo Corba bring to the table. In some ways they may be a bigger threat than even the Separatists… they abide by no laws; there are no limits to what they will do to accomplish their goals. This makes them extremely dangerous.”






“Now… I must apologize for being so forward with you,” Palpatine says.

“But what did you hope to accomplish by allowing for yourself to be captured? Don’t you think it would have been wiser to try and draw the Badoo Corba leadership out into the open?”






“With all due respect Sir, what was I to do differently?” Rykrof asks in a bitter tone.

“You know the policy of the Republic is to not negotiate with terrorists. And that is exactly what you did on Kobridor,” Palpatine swiftly counters.






“Nevertheless, I’m sure you did what you felt you had to,” he then admits to Rykrof.

“I hear your wife was not very accommodating in her interrogation after your capture… Also I would like to point out that Yinchorr was however not one of the stations listed on the data cylinders you brought back months ago from your mission to Dathomir.”






“Well they have more terror cells than any of us thought,” Rykrof says.

“But I still think it would be best to follow up on the leads we have.”






“Each and every one will be followed up on; I assure you of that,” Palpatine says.

“But the reason I called you here was to tell you in person that you are being granted a leave of absence. Go home to Naboo. It’s what you need. You will be notified when I need your assistance.”






“You can’t possibly be serious,” Rykrof laughs.

“This isn’t a request, Commander. It’s an executive order,” the old man sharply replies.

“It’s possible you have been through more than any other officer since the onset of the war; you need some time away.”






“Arrangements have already been made for your departure in the morning,” Palpatine continues before Rykrof can argue with him.

“Just remember that the time will come when the Republic needs you again. Enjoy your time with your family. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other guests.”






As one of Palpatine’s admirers enters the room, Rykrof makes his way back to the crowd in the center lounge.

Although he is relieved for being granted an extended leave, he feels as though the Chancellor was unusually sharp with him; almost contemptuous with his orders.






Pushing the thought to the back of his mind, he dreams of being back home.

After all, the taste of a quality inebriant can make any man want to head for the mountains of Naboo.






As Rykrof heads towards the exit, he is approached by an old friend; Senator Tame Heem of Ithor.

“Rykrof,” the mild mannered Ithorian says, “It is so good to see you. I have been praying for your recovery since you made it back to Coruscant.”

“Happy I’m here. Nothing beats the free life,” Rykrof says with a grin.






“Have you been granted your leave of absence?” Tame asks.

“You haven’t been home with your family in so long!”






“Yes, just now as a matter of fact,” Rykrof informs him. “At least until the Chancellor tells me my vacation’s over.”





In the corner of the room, Senators Bail Organa and Mon Mothma listen in on the discussion.

“That’s Rykrof Enloe,” Mon says. “I’ve heard very good things about him.”






“From what I hear he’s the luckiest officer in the Republic.”

“We should make contact with him,” Mon suggests. “To get to know where his true loyalties lie; with the people or with the current leadership.”






“I don’t think the day he gets out of rehab is the day for it,” Bail replies.

“But soon.”






The residents of the Senatorial District wake up to a gloomy, overcast morning the following day as the sun refuses to break free from the clouds.





Prior to their departure to Naboo, Rykrof decides to fill in Freelo with details from his conversation with Palpatine the night before.





“Well you have to follow his orders,” Freelo muses. “You’re just an officer.”





“Thanks for clearing that up for me, Freelo. But I’m telling you, something about the Chancellor isn’t right. I can’t put my finger on it,” Rykrof argues.





“It sounds to me like you’re just trying to avoid your wife,” Freelo counters.





“I’m being serious, Fish Face,” Rykrof grumbles as he raises his arm.





“You wouldn’t hit me,” Freelo taunts.

“I’m the only one of your friends who even came back to see you out of recovery!”






“Enloe!” a deep, gravely voice from behind the two suddenly bellows.





Startled, Rykrof and Freelo see a strange Ithorian staring at them.





“He knows your name,” Freelo whispers; stating the obvious.

“Keep quite,” Rykrof warns.

“I’ll handle this.”






“So it is you,” the Ithorian says.

“We’ve been waiting forever for you to get off that rock!” he laughs.






A cloaked figure then emerges; a face Rykrof has not seen for a long time.

“Hello, Rykrof,” a familiar voice greets him.






“Finis! Finis Valorum! Am I glad to see you,” Rykrof says warmly.

“Rykrof, I’m embarrassed to have to appear this way,” Valorum replies sadly.

“But I can’t risk being recognized by the wrong people these days. Not by Palpatine, not even by anyone in the military outside of you.”






“What about by them?” Freelo asks, gesturing behind Valorum.





As he turns around, Valorum quickly realizes he has been followed.





“You,” the lead clone officer orders.

“Let me see your identification!”






“Stand back; this doesn’t concern you,” another clone warns the Ithorian.





“Why do you need to see my identification?” Valorum demands.





“I am Commander Rykrof Enloe of the 334th Siege Battalion, and this is man is my uncle,” Rykrof interjects.





“Our apologies, we didn’t realize you were back Commander,” the officer replies.

“Carry on with your business,” he then says to Valorum.






The group then watches on as the trio of clone troopers continues their patrol.





“That was close,” Freelo says with a sigh.





“I had no idea the two of you were related,” Freelo then jokes.





Rykrof then explains to Valorum in detail his conversation with Palpatine.





After listening carefully to what Rykrof has told him, Valorum gives Rykrof a dark warning about the Chancellor.

“You must beware of Palpatine, Rykrof. He may appear to be on your side but don’t trust him. He’s not your friend,” Valorum insists.

“His only intention is to continue to gain more power.”






“After you arrive on Naboo, I will contact you on a secure channel,” Valorum informs him.

“We have much to discuss; when we can meet in privacy I will introduce you to Senator Bail Organa.”






“May the Force be with you,” Valorum says as he and the Ithorian walk away.





“What just happened?” Freelo asks.

“Obviously Finis still blames Palpatine for his fall from grace,” Rykrof tells him.






“But he has good reason to not trust the Chancellor,” Rykrof continues.

“I’m beginning to doubt the Chancellor’s intentions myself… we need to get moving though Freelo, or we’ll miss our transport.”






Soon after, Rykrof and Freelo descent from the planet.





The following morning, several tramp freighters load their cargo and passengers in preparation for departure.





“You can’t leave Finis!” Bail Organa asserts.

“I’ve become convinced much of what you claim about Palpatine is true… all of it is true.”






“Listen to me, both of you,” Valorum says.

“I’m going back out on the rim, you must take the lead here. I am tainted in the eyes of too many here on Coruscant to ever be effective in the Senate again… but I will help you… what I learn out there, I’ll make sure you know.”






“Do you honestly think we can prevent Palpatine from taking absolute control of the Senate?” Bail asks.

“Do you really think this is a battle we can win, Finis?”






“Some fights must be fought whether you believe you can win them or not,” Valorum replies.

“Watch yourselves. Be careful whom you trust.”






“May the Force be with us,” he says as he walks toward the freighter, Star of Iskin.





As the freighter leaves the spaceport, the two continue to discuss the situation.





“I believe him,” Mon Mothma says to Bail.

“We’ll need someone to be our voice in the Senate… we need your eloquence, Bail.”






“Who listens to me anymore?” Bail asks as he watches the ship depart.

“…what in the name of the Force…”






As the two watch in horror, the Star of Iskin explodes; killing everyone on board!





Meanwhile, far across the galaxy, a dark plot begins to unfold on the Separatist controlled planet known as Kobridor…





Meeting in secret with an agent of the Badoo Corba, Separatist General Snodd cautiously approaches the designated conclave area where he has granted the Badoo Corba access to.





“General Snodd, please accept greetings from my master,” an outdated TG droid churns.

“Enough with the pleasantries. Where is he?” General Snodd asks.






“Right behind you, General,” the Gran terrorist bellows.

“You take a great risk meeting with me over such matters.”






“As do you,” Snodd refutes to Troffar the Terrible.

“Mubaas would have your head if he were made aware of this exchange.”






“He is no longer capable of leading the Badoo Corba,” Troffar growls.





“Once we have the supplies you have promised us, there will be a change of leadership in this organization.”





“The hyper-matter seismic detonators will be delivered in full once we have irrefutable proof of the success of the mission,” Snodd informs him.

“You will receive twenty five percent of the shipment once your assassin successfully arrives on the surface undetected. Only once the assassination has been completed will you receive the remainder of the detonators.”






“An agent has already infiltrated the Naboo Defense Corps,” Troffar snarls.





“He will see to it that the assassin arrives on Naboo undetected…”





“…at which point the target will be eliminated once and for all.”





Meanwhile, Rykrof and Freelo’s ship exits hyperspace…





…entering the Naboo system.

TO BE CONTINUED…




THE ENLOE CHRONICLES
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FINAL HOUR
 
Chapter 21Chapter 22
INFILTRATION
 
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