Chapter 43
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It’s been a month since the birth of my children and it’s time for the ghosts to move out. Just like the old days.

I walk along the different spaceport docks till I finally reach the dock holding my ship. It’s been some time since the Shev’la Kyr’am stretched her legs. She has gotten an upgrade as well. Due to Gallen Erso’s research we have improved power generators, shields and with some fiddling of our scientists improved weapons. She also got energy absorbent paint coating which will help absorb damage as well as add to the stealth factor. We also have improved the stealth systems and the ship’s entire electrical and electronic suits. In short, she looked the same but she was a bit bigger and ten times better.

As I walk into the dock, I see workers finishing up refueling her and doing final checkups. I stand there taking in her beauty.

“So, this is the first ship in which you lot set out to set the galaxy ablaze?” asked Asajj from behind. I turn around to see the rest of the crew coming along. “So, what did you have to do to get away from Bo?” she asked with a smirk.

“Nothing really. I snuck out while she was sleeping. I am not called ‘The Ghost’ for no reason” I said with a chuckle “I did leave a message stating that I didn’t want to disturb her sleep, that I loved her and that I will be back soon” shrugging.

“Sure. Let us know how that went. She will just rip you a new one when you return, for leaving without her” said Subail which got chuckles from everyone around.

We continue a banter on our way to the ship. We then proceed to set up our equipment in our own respective accommodations. I go to my room on the main deck to get settled in.

After which I head to the cockpit.

“Hey, Athena. Are you fully plugged in and operational?” I asked.

“Yes, Thrunn. My core was transferred back in and is fully operational” she said.

“Great. How is the ship looking?” I asked.

“All systems green. The ship is fully loaded and cleared for launch” she answered.

I then proceed to activate the engines and do a flight check of my own. When I am sure everything is in place, I prep for takeoff.

“New Keldabe space control this is the Shev’la Kyr’am requesting permission to depart,” I said over coms.

“Shev’la Kyr’am you are cleared for departure. Happy hunting” said the space traffic controller.

“Roger that. Launching now” I said slowly steering the ship out of its birth. Once clear of all superstructures I throttle it. The ship is performing better than I remember. Soon we exit the atmosphere and make a beeline for the outer edge of the system. I engage stealth drives as soon as we lose sight of the space traffic lanes and prep for jumping into hyperspace. Time to play.

(Time skip)

Well, our hunting was interrupted. We received a call for help from a group of Jedi padawans. Apparently, they want out. And I am not one to leave them alone to become the pawns of Sidious, well at least not the ones I am interested in.

I am sitting in a cantina in the Outlander club at the Uscru entertainment district. I chose a dark corner to sit down and wait for my guests. Soon enough five padawans walk in. Three females and two males. Leading the group was Barriss Offee. They approach me nervously.

“Why did you little pups contact me?” I asked. They look around nervously.

It’s Barriss who speaks “You said you could get us away if we wanted to leave the order. Can you do that?” she asked.

“Why the sudden change of heart?” I asked.

“I had it with the war. All the killing. The Jedi have lost their way. I don’t want anything to do with this anymore” she said passionately.

“Understandable,” I said nodding “But you know my condition, right?” I asked.

“You want us to teach your people to use the force?” She asked.

“Yes. I want them to learn to use their powers without falling to either the light or the dark” I said.

“What do you mean falling to the light?” asked one of the Padawans, a twi’lek girl.

“Just like the dark side the light also corrupts your mind. I would say a perfect balance is the best. But that is for the strong-willed. I just want you to teach them how to use their natural talents” I said.

“That is acceptable,” said Barriss.

I nod. “If you want, I can have you off-planet tonight,” I said.

“But we haven’t brought our belongings,” said the human male.

“You are Jedi. What possessions do you have?” I asked with a tilted head.

“Nothing major. Just a few personal trinkets. We will be ready by tomorrow” said the third female padawan.

“Very well” I handed Barriss a secure communicator “When you are ready contact me. I will give you the meeting point”

“Wait” just as they were leaving, I stopped them “Except for Barriss the rest of you take one of these” I handed out small box-shaped devices. They act as one-way communicators. They also act as listening devices “Just in case I need to contact you” I said. They took one each before leaving.

Just as they were leaving, I called out “Barriss one moment please” they all stopped.

“You guys wait outside,” said Barriss before returning “What is it?” she asked.

“I need a favor” sliding over a datachip “I need you to install this into the Jedi archives,” I said.’

“Wait why?” she asked.

“It’s to gather intel,” I said with a sigh “I will explain everything I know on the way off-world. I promise” I said sincerely.

She hesitated for a while “Ok” she said before taking it.

“Remember to plant it today. And also tell no one about it. Not even your friends” I said. This made her halt her steps and look back at me before nodding and walking away.

I head back to a hidden command center on level 1313. Now I wait and see if there are any rats.

I monitored the devices all night long. And it paid off. The second male Padawan. Tal Devin was a spy. A certain someone has his claws sunk deep within the kid and his Jedi knight master. Big bad Palpy wanted to find out about my secrets. I knew he would. Especially after I offered the Jedi a way out in front of Anakin. I knew as a good little puppy he would run back to the kind and caring chancellor and spill everything that happened to him. And the chancellor was using the Padawan. Quite clever of him. Unfortunately for him, I guessed this would happen.

Late into the night, I called Barriss. “Sorry for waking you up. But it’s important” I said.

“What is it?” asked a drowsy Barriss.

“Are you certain you want me to get you guys out?” I asked.

“Ofcourse! I thought I made myself clear!” she hissed.

“Then get the others except for Tal Devin and meet me at the coordinates I sent you. I have sent the others a message on their devices as well. They will meet you outside the temple” I instructed.

“Why is Tal excluded? And why so early?” asked a confused Barriss.

“There is no time to explain. I will have people waiting for you there. They will bring you to me. I will explain when you get here” I said before cutting the call. I had ordered a droid to wait for them with a sky van.

Now I will just have to make sure Tal and his master meet with an unfortunate accident.

(POV Barriss)

It was almost midnight and I suddenly got a call from Nomad. He wanted our group to meet at a given location. Apparently, something happened to expedite our departure from the order. There is no point thinking about it, I have to get moving. Lucky for me I had most secret passages used by Padawans memorized.

I slowly make my way through the halls. I concealed my presence in the force and made my way from corner to corner. The tricky part is avoiding the attention of the Sentinels. Lucky for me they were distracted by a group of younglings sneaking out. We used to do that from time to time as well.

Once out of the temple I kept to the shadows and made my way to the lower markets. I found a discrete corner near the designated meeting point and waited. After half an hour Dreks, Molindi, and Aama made their way here one by one.

“Were you guys followed?” I asked them once all of us gathered.

“I think not,” said Aama.

“Where is Nomad? Shouldn’t he be here by now?” asked a nervous Molindi.

“He should be,” I said looking around. Then suddenly the communicator beeped. I answered.

“Good. I see you made it. Two blocks down there will be an alley to your left. In there you will see a dark blue skyvan. Show the droid your communicator. It will bring you out of there” said Nomad's voice.

I nodded at the others and said “Let’s get moving”

When we reached the alley, we saw the mentioned vehicle. When we approached the driver’s side a droid could be seen looking at us.

“Identification please” asked the droid. I tentatively handed it the communicator for it to scan. Once it was done authenticating our identity it said “Please enter and buckle up”

We did as it asked. Once we were settled it took off. Weaving in between structures and heading towards The Works. Once we neared a portal we dove down. We kept going deeper and deeper. We have never been to or even thought about these parts of coruscant.

“How deep are we going?” asked a nervous Molindi.

“Level 1313” answered the droid.

“Never even thought about going that deep before,” said Aama.

After a few minutes, we entered a hangar. The doors closed behind us. We were met by a guy accompanied by a squad of battle droids.

“Follow me,” he said. We did as he asked. There was another vehicle waiting for us. It took us at least fifteen more minutes to reach what looked like a Cantina with a lodge attached to it. The guy brought us into the cantina. It was crowded with all sorts of people.

We went up to a door and he scanned his eyes and hand. There was a mechanical yet feminine voice “Welcome agent Michael” it said. And the doors slid open. Now we know the guy is named Michael.

He beckoned us to follow. It went down into a secret facility. There were many people down there doing their tasks. Maintaining weapons and droids, doing paperwork, and some training.

“Who knew such places existed,” said Dreks in awe.

“There are many things the upper-level dwellers don’t know or just ignore out of hubris,” said Michael.

We approached a door and he knocked exactly thrice and it opened. He signaled us to enter. Inside sitting before a large display was Nomad.

“Thank you for your work Michael,” said Nomad.

“Anytime Mand’alor,” said Michael with a nod before leaving. He just dropped a big bomb before walking off.

“Wait! You are the Mand’alor of this era” I asked him.

He chuckled “The one and only Mand’alor the Immortal at your service,” he said. This was big news. How did we not know?

“No need to burn your brain cells overthinking it. No one knows because I don’t want anyone to know yet” he said “Now is there anything you wanted to ask?” he asked us.

“Why did you cut Tal out?” I asked.

“He was a spy. People are finally wising up and have started suspecting me. They want to know what is it that I am hiding” he explained.

“So, the order is suspicious of you?” asked Aama.

“No. Not the order. Your Grandmaster knows my secret yet he doesn’t reveal it. It’s some other more powerful opponents. And if you need proof here listen” said Nomad. Then he clicked on the keyboard and an audio recording started playing. We could hear Tal and his master talking of plans to infiltrate the Mandalorian operations. Some time into the recording we could hear them talking to someone they were referring to as Lord Sidious.

“Who are they talking to?” asked Aama.

“He is the main Sith behind the War and many other things,” said Nomad. Dropping that information as if it was nothing.

“Wasn’t Dooku the Sith orchestrating the war?” asked Dreks.

“No. He is just a puppet. No, let me correct that. He was a puppet. I just cut him loose” said Nomad with an evil chuckle.

“If you know all this why not inform anyone. You could stop the whole war” I said passionately.

“I could. And what good does that do me? They have their claws deep in the Republic wrapped around its heart and there is nothing that can be don’t to stop them at present” said Nomad “Enough chatting for now. Let me get you on a shuttle off-world to my little sanctuary” he said cutting off the conversation and getting up. “Are you certain you want to leave? Once you step down there is no turning back” he asked. We all nodded. “Very well,” he said leading us down another corridor.

He led us to a secret Hangar with a massive Corvette class ship. It was well-armed and was oozing Mandalorian aura. He stopped before the ship and turned to face us.

“Before I let you board my ship, I need you to hand over your lightsabers. It’s for your safety as well as to prevent property damage. My property getting damaged” he said.

“Wait! why should we hand over our lightsabers?” asked Dreks.

“I am not letting you enter my ship armed. Plus aren’t you leaving the order behind? Thus, you must forsake those blades anyway. It represents who you were. Now you will have to reforge yourselves” explained Nomad.

We all just looked at each other silently. Someone had to take the first step. So, I thought might as well be me. I handed over my blades. Soon the others followed. Nomad then handed them to a droid standing nearby.

“Good. I will send them anonymously back to the order. That should notify them of your voluntary retirement” said Nomad and pressed a button on his vambrace. The ramp opened up behind him. He then led us up it and through the bowels of the ship. Soon we reached a lounge area.

“Welcome to the Shev’la Kyr’am” he said. We looked around in awe.

“What does it mean?” asked Molindi.

“It means Silent Death in Mando,” said a voice from our back. Three Mandalorians with their helmets off were coming into the common area from a different compartment. One of them looked all too familiar. A bald woman with a sharp aura to her. Then I suddenly remembered.

“Wait! Asajj Ventress?” I asked in shock. The others went for their lightsabers only to remember they didn’t have them anymore.

“Don’t get your undies in a twist” said Nomad with a chuckle “She has joined me now. She is no longer Sith. She is a Mando who just finished training” he said.

“Why?” was all I asked.

“Just like you guys I gave her the option to walk a different path in life and she chose that. Now she is under my protection and living a new life” he said “Well, it will take us a week to reach our destination so we have plenty of time to share stories. But for now, let’s leave before those snoopy sentinels come looking for ‘lost’ Padawans” Nomad said before turning and heading to what would be the cockpit. I followed him. The others took a seat on the many sofas and chairs in the lounge area.

“Athena, can you please make sure all ECM and stealth systems are functioning,” said Nomad while doing pre-flight checks.

“All systems are green,” said a feminine yet mechanical voice.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“That was Athena. She is the AI running major functions on this ship” Nomad introduced me to his peculiar creation. Having an Artificial intelligence run your ship is not exactly orthodox and, in most cases, not recommended.

“Welcome aboard Barriss Offee,” said Athena in a welcoming tone.

“Thank you” I replied with a smile. At least she seems to be a civilized AI.

Soon we sped and weaved through coruscant airspace and we were on our way. All I can say is their stealth systems seem to be quite advanced for no Republic ships or sensors spotted us. And once we cleared sensor range, we jumped into hyperspace towards our destination.

“Now come. I will explain some things and get you lot settled in” said Nomad leading me back to the lounge. I followed him. It was about time I got some answers.

We have started walking down this new path and now there is no turning back.

(POV Ahsoka)

It was a new day and the last days of my R&R. I will have to go back to the frontlines of this senseless war. I was walking around with my friends, slowly making our way to the library. As we pass by the entrance area of the temple a Sentinel comes to me.

“There is a droid at the entrance with a message for you. Apparently, it’ will only hand it over to you” he said beckoning me to follow. I and my friends follow him. I soon see a protocol droid waiting with a package for me. I approach it.

“Facial scans match. Finally! I was tasked with handing this to you and only you. I was also asked to pass on a message. Should I say it now?” it asked while handing over the package.

“Yes, please,” I said while opening the package. My friends gather around me and peer inside. What we saw shocked us. Just then the droid starts to read out the message.

“Goodbye for now Ahsoka. I and some of my friends had enough of this war and bloodshed. All this meaningless killing is not the Jedi way. The order has lost sight of what we stand for. Instead of promoting peace we now lead armies and wage war. This is not the way. And so, we are leaving. We took the safest way out we could find. Please don’t search for us. We now walk a different path from the Jedi. And as such we return our lightsabers to the order, as a final goodbye. We will miss you, the order, and all that we grew up with and learned to love. But we can’t bear it anymore. Goodbye,” the droids stopped speaking for a moment before continuing “This was the message I was asked to covey. Have a pleasant day” It walked away leaving us in a daze.

Barriss was gone. I knew she seemed off. But I never thought she will run away. The war has pushed all of us to our breaking point. Sigh.

“You guys go ahead. I have to go tell the masters” I said turning away.

“Go the Council chambers. They have been informed” said the Sentinel. I nodded and ran towards the council chambers. I could hear my friends whispering amongst themselves as I left. This incident had the potential to cause waves in the order if it isn't properly suppressed by the council like they usually do.

(POV Dooku)

I just got a delivery from the Ghosts. Something I didn’t expect. It was a few data chips and a datapad. The datapad had a message. One that has me deep in thought.

“If you are searching for a path in life. One not pointed to you either by the inept to the duplicitous. Then the data chips hold the starting point of such a path. It’d up to you to walk on it and find your calling. I will only say this. The universe seeks neither the light nor the darkness. It seeks balance. It’s up to you to find it. Let the force be with you.

Regards. You friendly neighborhood ghost”

The data chips had information on ancient Jedi and many other things. How he got his hands on these I wouldn’t know. And quite frankly I don’t care. Maybe this is an opportunity to walk a new path. A lot to meditate on.