The Photonovel Alliance


Caught completely unaware, the Jedi Order has been betrayed by the Republic…

The few that managed to survive are on the run…

…and most Separatist holdouts have been eliminated.

Meanwhile, Commander Rykrof Enloe has returned to Coruscant.

Below on the surface, he and Freelo enter the Senatorial District.

With the war over, the citizens of the newly organized Empire go about their normal routines.

But Rykrof knows all too well that the galaxy may never be the same again.

To his surprise, he and Freelo are quickly greeted by Senator Tame Heem.

“Commander Enloe,” the kind Ithorian says softly.

“I have been eagerly awaiting your return.”

“It’s great to see you old friend,” Rykrof smiles.

“But I don’t have much time right now. The Emperor is expecting me.”

“I will get to the point,” Tame Heem whispers.

“Your friend, Jedi Master Kala Mly Shundi, survived the purge. And he is here; on Coruscant.”

“Are you certain of this?” Rykrof asks.

“He will meet you tomorrow at 0800 hours at the Ugnaught merchant stand in the Pojer District,” Tame says with a nod.

“You must keep this information close to your chest,” the Ithorian hisses as he turns away.

“Palpatine’s spies are everywhere.”

“Keep your eyes open, Freelo.” Rykrof says to his friend.

“I don’t like this.”

Soon after, Rykrof arrives at the Emperor’s chamber.

“Commander Enloe,” the supreme leader greets him warmly.

“Seeing you alive and well brings me tremendous satisfaction.”

“Thank you,” Rykrof replies as he notices distinct changes to the leader’s face.

“My scars,” Palpatine points out sadly.

“A testimony to the treachery of the Jedi.”

“Yes, I heard what… they did,” Rykrof admits.

“We are fortunate their coup was stopped in its tracks.”

“Indeed!” the Emperor says with delight.

“You do understand we can never allow for them to regain standing… the risk is far too great. Just look at what your friend, Kala Mly Shundi was doing… the Jedi Order was poisoned by corruption.”

“Yes, I realize that… and if you don’t mind me asking, your Excellency, is this what you wished to see me about?” Rykrof asks.

“I also wanted to personally congratulate you on your defeat of the Badoo Corba terrorists on Dantooine!” Palpatine tells him.

“It wasn’t a real victory,” Rykrof admits.

“Their leader, Mubaas Fuuda, escaped. All we did was inconvenience them for the time being.”

“I beg to differ,” the Emperor says.

“Thanks to your efforts, Admiral Gere’s scientists were able to retrieve essential data from their central processor.”

“What data?” Rykrof asks.

“Data that is vital to the survival of the Empire,” Palpatine replies smoothly.

“There is a great opportunity awaiting you with this. I want you to attend a private discussion here with Admiral Gere and myself tomorrow at 0800 hours.”

“Commander Enloe,” Palpatine continues.

“I know you want to be done with fighting, but this is an important matter. We need men like you to set an example as we regain stability…”

“This is not what I agreed to,” Rykrof counters.

“What you agreed to was to serve this government,” Palpatine hisses.

“I need loyal men now more than ever… tell, me, Commander. Do you think there is more you could have done to have fully accomplished your mission on Dantooine?”

“What? You have no reason to question my loyalty,” Rykrof says.

“Up until recently, I had no reason to question the loyalty of the Jedi, either. And yet, we discovered corruption at their very core… I wonder what your mother would have thought of the Jedi if she were alive today?”

“What did you say?” Rykrof asks spitefully.

“I know all about your mother,” Palpatine continues.

“Who she was, what she believed… how she died while you were just a child.”

“She was a Jedi. Her blood is yours…” Palpatine smiles.

“If your father had allowed for you to be taken by Kala Mly Shundi when you were a child, would you have betrayed the Republic too?”

“That’s absurd,” Rykrof says defensively.

“Whatever the Jedi were planning now, I would have no part with an overthrow of the Senate.”

“I’m relieved to hear it,” Palpatine replies smoothly.

“But, I’d like to know how an old man managed to fend off someone as powerful as Master Windu,” Rykrof inquires.

Taken aback by Rykrof’s boldness, Palpatine’s eyes darken with hate.

“Perhaps a demonstration is in order,” a deep voice responds.

Rykrof then finds himself looking up to the most intimidating being he has ever encountered.

“I hope that won’t be necessary, Lord Vader,” the Emperor cackles.

“It would be such a tragedy if anything were to happen to Commander Enloe… or his family.”

“No demonstration is needed,” Rykrof insists as the dark being stands next to him.

“Good,” Palpatine says.

“I will see you in the morning, Commander.”

As Rykrof swiftly exits the chamber, Darth Vader turns to his master.

“That one can not be trusted,” Vader advises.

“Patience, my friend,” the elder Sith smiles.

“Commander Enloe’s true loyalty is about to be revealed.”

Early the following morning, Rykrof chooses to enter the Pojer District to meet with Jedi Master Kala Mly Shundi rather than accept Emperor Palpatine’s invitation.

A dangerous district of the Coruscant underworld, Rykrof has been in these deep levels before and knows all too well of the countless dangers that await unprepared visitors.

“Relax,” Freelo says to Rykrof.

“If anything you should be relieved that Kala survived the war.”

“Of course I’m relieved, but we have to get out of here right after this,” Rykrof tells his friend.

“Let’s just hear what he has to say, then get off Coruscant…”

“Because you would not believe the conversation I had last night in the Emperor’s chamber.”

Freelo then looks around and shrugs.

“Are those the junk dealers?” he asks.

“No…,” Rykrof hesitates as a seedy Quarren eyes him.

“We’re looking for Ugnaughts.”

“Now listen,” Rykrof then says.

“We haven’t seen Kala in a long time. He’s not the same person that we knew.”

“Let me do the talking.”

“I don’t understand,” Freelo replies.

“Kala is our friend. You make it sound like he’s an enemy.”

“He’s an enemy of the Empire,” Rykrof explains.

“We have to be cautious in how we approach this.”

Soon after, Rykrof spots the dealer outlet.

“Come on,” Rykrof says to Freelo.

“And keep your eyes peeled for Imperials.”

“Uh… Kala?” Rykrof asks as he approaches the stand.

“I almost hoped you wouldn’t show,” a voice replies.

“I should have known,” Rykrof hisses as the figure turns to face him.

“Yes, I thought you would be more careful,” Admiral Tylin Gere replies as he points a blaster at Rykrof’s chest.

Rykrof then looks to his right and sees several Clone Troopers have arrived on the scene.

“It’s a trap!” Freelo exclaims in desperation.

“So what is this?” Rykrof demands of his former friend.

“A confirmation of my suspicions all along,” Tylin replies.

“You’ve always done things your way, Rykrof. Regardless of orders.”

“Always giving the Jedi the benefit of the doubt… regardless of their actions.”

“For all we know, your friend Kala Mly Shundi was even responsible for Kollen Mane’s death in this very district…” Tylin snaps.

“You’re insane,” Rykrof vents back.

“Enough,” Tylin growls.

“The Emperor will decide your fate.”

“Run for it, Rykrof!” Freelo shouts as he fires his weapon!

The blaster bolt strikes Tylin in the chest!

Slow to react to this fast turn of events, the closest trooper to the group is brought down by Freelo!

“Son of a…!” Rykrof yells as he instinctively shoots one of the clones aiming for Freelo!

Just then a towering Elom charges into another of Tylin’s troops!

Several other aliens then reveal blasters and open fire at Rykrof’s pursuers!

“Now who are all these people?” Freelo shouts as another of the clone troopers is brought down.

Who cares?” Rykrof roars.

“As long as they’re keeping them busy! Let’s get out of here!”

As Rykrof and Freelo run for their lives, several more citizens reveal blasters and open fire on the Imperials!

However the clones are veterans of the war, and while outnumbered, begin to take control of the situation.

“Sir!” a trooper says as he helps Tylin to his feet.

“Are you alright?”

“Kill them!” Tylin growls, ignoring the officer’s concern.

Kill them all!

Freelo!” Rykrof then yells at the top of his lungs.

Get over here!

“But those people… they need our help!”

“There’s nothing we can do to help them!” Rykrof shouts.

“Tylin’s got the upper hand!”

Amidst the chaos, the two escape!

Later that day, protocol droid B-3PO watches as his master paces nervously about his quarters.

“This was not supposed to happen,” Senator Tame Heem mutters.

Oh my!” the droid suddenly shouts.

“We have a guest!”

Realizing there is a blaster to his back, the Ithorian cautiously turns around.

“Rykrof… I can explain…” he pleads.

“You set me up,” Rykrof counters.

“How could you?” Rykrof growls.

“After all I’ve done for you… for your people…”

“It’s not what you think,” Tame cries.

“Who ordered this?” Rykrof demands as he shoves his blaster under Tame’s throat.

“It was Palpatine,” the Ithorian explains.

“He ordered me to… but I tried to help! I sent secret contacts to step in on your behalf if the situation got out of hand…”

Out of hand? ” Rykrof laughs.

“Do you not realize what you’ve done?”

“I had no choice…” Tame gasps.

Enough! Where’s Master Kala Mly Shundi?” Rykrof then demands.

“He was never even here… I don’t know where he is.”

“I am so sorry,” the senator pleads.

“But Palpatine has gone mad. You must understand the position I was in!”

“I don’t care about your situation,” Rykrof snaps.

“Never cross me again… if you do, you won’t live to regret it, Senator.”

“But Commander…”

Commander?” Rykrof asks sarcastically.

“I’m through with commands.”

That evening, a cruiser blasts off the planet headed for the Outer Rim.

Stowed away in a cargo hold, Rykrof and Freelo find themselves unsure of the path ahead of them.

“Not exactly first class, is it?” Rykrof says to his friend.

“I’ve ridden in worse conditions,” Freelo replies grimly.

“Well, I’m just glad to have Coruscant behind us,” Rykrof says.

“And I still can’t believe that stunt you pulled back there,” he continues.

“I never knew I had it in me,” Freelo chuckles.

The two friends share a laugh before Rykrof’s mood turns serious.

“You do realize there is no turning back,” Rykrof tells him.


“But where will we go?” Freelo asks.

“My family is on Urelia,” Rykrof answers.

“It’ll be safe enough for now. Far from Palpatine…and his new Empire.”

“But they’ll be looking… we won’t be able to make contact off planet.”

“But… what about the others? Aren’t we going to look for them? Master Shundi? Or Teltuu Stabo?”

“We don’t even know which Jedi are alive,” Rykrof sighs deeply.

“And if either of them survived, they don’t need our help. And I know I can’t stop Palpatine… but my family… at least I can protect them.”

“It doesn’t feel right,” Freelo whimpers.

“I’m sure Master Shundi survived…”

“No more missions, Freelo. I’ve spent years fighting this war. And for what? Look at what’s happened. After how much pain, how many lives? And we didn’t win a damned thing.”

“There’s nothing left to do. But my wife and son have been waiting for me to come home. And I’m not going to let them down again. They’re all that matters now.”

“But that’s my responsibility, not yours. Maybe you shouldn’t come with me to Urelia. It’ll be safer for you to return home.”

“That is a hell of a thing for you to say to me,” Freelo counters.

“I’m a renegade too!”

Rykrof regards his old friend before breaking out in a wide grin. Underneath, however, he knows that the galaxy has truly been changed, and the road ahead has never been more uncertain.

But he is not alone…

…and hope lives on.

<<  Chapter 31
Chapter 32  
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