Ok, here's the official redo of "Survival" - the 14th chapter in the Rykrof Enloe series. Hope you enjoy...
Although few threats have faced Naboo during the Clone Wars, the peaceful planet keeps a watchful eye on the stars...
...as the government is fully aware that the droid armies of the Trade Federation could once again take away their sovereignty.
Nearly one month has passed since Alyssa Enloe last saw her husband... the father of her child, Caldin.
The bereaved Naboo handmaiden holds her infant son, and walks, saddened as she has learned today of yet another loss for the Republic in the Outer Rim.
Once the child has fallen asleep, Alyssa stares into the sunset as she prays for her husband's safety, wondering what might have happened to him...
Little does she know that Rykrof has become stranded on Dathomir after being ambushed by several Trade Federation battleships. While his small fleet had been able to launch several escape pods, many were shot down in space before reaching the surface of the planet.
If it is not the diseases, starvation or the native creatures that the survivors fear, it is the relentless patrols by the Separatists, obsessed with killing any survivors from Rykrof's strike force.
Those who have been hunted down by the Separatists are the lucky ones...
…for the survivors have encountered the true dangers of Dathomir...
…very few have the ability to avoid the clutches of a hungry rancor…
…and are devoured by the terrible beasts.
After several weeks, Commander Asajj Ventress has tracked down several survivors from the Republic strike force.
"How many of you survived the impact?" the dark woman hisses to her latest captive. "Where is your commander?"
Unconditionally loyal to the Republic, the clone trooper refuses to reveal any information to the powerful woman.
“Fool,” the spiteful woman says. “Your war efforts are useless against the might of Count Dooku. The terrorist base you sought was abandoned before you even arrived. Once again your pathetic military strategies have failed!”
With a sharp twist through her mastery of the Dark Side of the Force, Asajj Ventress suddenly closes the clone’s air supply, resulting in an agonizing death for the soldier.
“Leave this weak scum to rot,” she says half mindedly to the battle droids flanking her.
“I know Enloe made it to the surface," she says, assuring herself. "We can not leave this wretched place without proof of his death. Double your search,” she orders her droids.
As her troops disperse, Ventress stands alone; absorbing the darkness around her. Although Count Dooku's orders are to find proof of Rykrof Enloe's death, the dark warrior has begun to sense there is more to her master's plan than has been revealed to her.
“I could take her out right now,” TK-42 says through a pair of macro binoculars. “But even if I got off a clear shot, we’d quickly be overrun by droids.”
“Then we move on,” Commander Rykrof Enloe replies. "Now's not the time to confront them."
“But Sir, where are we to go?” TK-42 asks.
“We’ve been out here for weeks, running and hiding from the droids and those giant beasts. I for one would rather take a few of them out with me than be snuck up on and shot in the back...or…”
“Look, we’re getting off this damn wasteland. I don’t know how we’re gonna get out of this mess, but we're not dying here,” Rykrof snaps. “Either we wait to get rescued, or we find our own way off this slimy mud hole.”
“We really haven’t covered any ground either. It’s time we try heading south,” Rykrof says as the group of survivors moves on.
Meanwhile, the Separatist fleet gathers in the Spahl system.
With neither side in the war gaining an advantage, Count Dooku discusses the progress of the latest Separatist campaigns with former Jedi Master, Sora Bulq.
“We need every resource we have to be used efficiently," Bulq says. "Therefore, I don't understand your logic in keeping Commander Ventress on Dathomir."
“She has a mission and I wish to see if she fulfills it," Dooku says calmly.
"Her true mission is not to find Republic survivors, but will be a challenge for her with the Dark One. The commander’s search radius is currently limited to a 200 kilometer trajectory of where the escape pods landed. The pods just so happened to crash on a rather large island, ruled by this dark witch. This should prove to be an interesting challenge for Commander Ventress.”
“I see,” Sora Bulq says. "So you are testing her will to find proof of the death of Enloe. Undoubtedly her path will cross with the Dark One of Dathomir. If she survives she may prove worthy of further teachings?"
"Precisely," Dooku replies. "And while we continue to strike randomly against the Republic, they are unable to gather the necessary resources to interfere with our interests on Rhen Var.”
Meanwhile, the group of survivors has stumbled upon the abandoned Badoo Corba base they had originally set out to destroy.
“It’s doubtful there will be anyone here still Sir, but I still suggest we try and find another entrance to be on the safe side,” TK-42 recommends.
“Nothing’s been easy so far,” Rykrof argues. “Let's see if our luck changes. We’ll go ahead and try the front door.”
To the relief of the group, Rykrof appears to have been right. Not only does the base appear to be abandoned, but the front door was unlocked.
“Ok, now I suggest a little more caution. I really didn’t expect that door to be open,” Rykrof admits as he surveys their surroundings.
As they begin to search the complex, Rykrof notices an emblem of the former Badoo Corba leader, Trigg Fuuda… and is reminded of the many terrible memories he has experienced since his first mission to Abridon, so many years ago.
The group then hears a sound from the adjacent room, and proceeds forward with caution.
To their surprise, they find a shaking Mon Calamari standing with his arms up, begging for his life.
“Oh no! Please don’t shoot me,” he cries. “I am only looking for parts to repair my ship to get off this planet. I mean you no harm!”
I'm a terrorist," he says. "Wait, what am I saying? I'm an archaeologist
, not a terrorist!"
“Stupid fish... how do we know you're not really a terrorist …left over from the quick departure?" TK-42 asks, strangling the confused being.
As the panic-stricken Mon Calamari begs for his life, Rykrof secures the room.
"Alright," Rykrof says. "Who the hell are you? And what are you doing here?"
"My friends call me Freelo," he says, gasping for air.
"I really am an archaeologist... you startled me by pointing all those blasters at me! Let me make you some tea. I assume you're hiding from all those droids too!"
Soon after, Rykrof’s troops begin searching the complex for supplies while Rykrof becomes acquainted with the strange Mon Calamari.
“Like I said, I'm a freelance archaeologist, one of the finest in the galaxy!" Freelo proudly tells Rykrof.
"I was contacted by the Separatists to assist in an excavation on Rhen Var, but was unsure of whether or not to take the offer, which was substantial. I was near this system when my ship’s thermal coupling faulted, causing my crash on this planet.”
“I’ve seen the Separatist droids here on the planet," he says. "But I've hid from them. I've seen how they're tearing through the jungle. They must be on an important mission! These droids shoot first and ask questions later!”
“Well you might be in more danger by just being in this same building with us. But that’s what this war has become,” Rykrof laments.
“Even now, the war goes on…”
“…it’s reached levels I never thought possible…”
“…and all we have seen is destruction... but we're not even able to reach Confederate strongholds such as Cato Nemoidia.”
“True,” Freelo says. “A terrible thing this war has become, for both sides. Perhaps we can work together to get off of this planet and return to our homes before they become destroyed too.”
“But to get back to my ship it could prove to be difficult…”
“…there's more than droids and rancors on this planet."
TO BE CONTINUED...