Ch. 23

A month had passed since Ahsoka had given birth to Ala, and it was finally time for Ahsoka to return to the Temple. But first, someone had to make sure that Ala was given to Ahsoka's mother, on Shili, to be taken care of while Ahsoka and Tal fought in the war. Padme decided to deliver Ala, before any Jedi got any more suspicious about Ahsoka's whereabouts, though it broke her heart to see her baby being taken away, and Tal felt just as bad, but they both understood that it was for Ala's best interests.

At the Temple, Tal was watching Melissa practice her lightsaber technique, as she swung two training sabers, trying to deflect blaster fire from the training remote, but she was quickly losing her temper, with an occasional blaster bolt hitting her, stinging with every impact. After taking a stray bolt on her cheek, Melissa growled her anger, deactivated her lightsabers, and threw them across the room, before slumping down on the floor, and looking down in disappointment and anger. Tal then decided to help Melissa, so he jumped down, and walked over to her.

"Having trouble, Melissa?" Tal asked sarcastically, and Melissa just continued to look at the ground as she drew circles in it with her finger. "I can understand that it's frustrating; I was a youngling once, and lightsaber training can be difficult when you're first starting out. But you get the hang of it after awhile." Tal said, and Melissa just huffed.

"That's easy for you to say Tal; I keep hearing how you're one of the best offensive duelists in the Order, rivaling Master Yoda and Master Windu." Melissa said, and Tal just smiled.

"Do you think they just gave that reputation to me? I have train hard, each and every day, in order to keep my skills sharp. I had to train even harder as a youngling to be able to get passed my initial trials that would qualify me to become a padawan. Lightsaber training isn't easy work, Mel'ika, but it's crucial work, that will probably save your life one day." Tal explained, and he brought the lightsabers to him with the Force, and offered them to Melissa. "Care to try again?" Tal asked, and Melissa took the lightsabers, and activated them. "Before you start, I want you try something." Tal said, and he picked up a visor, and put it on Melissa's head, covering her eyes.

"But Tal…I can't see!" Melissa protested, and Tal nodded.

"That's the point Melissa; you can't trust your eyes Melissa, they'll betray you. You have to trust the Force to guide your movements." Tal explained.

"So…the Force will control my actions?" Melissa asked.

"To an extent, but it'll also obey your commands. Let go of your feelings, quiet your mind, and listen to the Force." Tal said, and he activated the remotes, and they started floating around Melissa, and as shots were fired at her, she blocked them with newfound ease. Unaware to Tal, Yoda, Windu, Plo Koon, and Obi-wan were watching Tal train Melissa.

"Who knew Tal was such an excellent instructor?" Obi-wan asked, surprised.

"He'll make an excellent teacher when he takes on a padawan." Plo Koon said, and everyone nodded.

"Alright Melissa, I think you've got this. I have to get going; if you need any help, just come by my quarters. If I'm not there, come by the Library and look for me there." Tal said, and he patted Melissa's head as she continued to train.

A couple of hours later, Tal was in his room, working on a new attachment for his armor; it was an export module similar to what most astromech droids use to control computer consoles and doors. Tal was hoping he could have Adam do the same thing, just without need of the droid. While going over his schematics, Tal heard a knock on the door.

"It's open." Tal said, and the door opened, and Ahsoka walked in.

"Hey." Ahsoka said simply as she walked into the room, and Tal turned to face her, and smiled.

"Hey. How are you feeling?" Tal asked, and Ahsoka shrugged.

"Fine, I guess. I miss Ala though." Ahsoka said sadly, and Tal nodded.

"I miss her too, but we can't let that distract us." Tal said, and Ahsoka nodded.

"So, what're you working on?" Ahsoka asked.

"An AI export module for Adam; if I ever need a door or ray shield opened, or a computer hacked, this will allow Adam into the system without the need of a droid." Tal explained.

"I thought Adam could just link himself to a computer on his own." Ahsoka said; she didn't understand much about Adam or AI's in general, only what Tal and Adam had explained to her.

"On the research station he could; that was because the scientists didn't put any firewalls in the system, so Adam could have easy access. But a strong enough firewall can keep Adam from getting anywhere near the main processing unit of a computer, making it impossible to gather information, or open locked or shielded doors." Tal explained, and Ahsoka playfully grabbed her head.

"Ugh…you're making my head hurt!" Ahsoka said, and Tal chuckled.

"We did not mean cause discomfort for you, Ahsoka; if you would like, I could simplify the explanation for you, using smaller words, and a visual representation." Adam said, and Tal busted out laughing, and Ahsoka just growled.

"Keep laughing Ordo, just remember; I know your weakness." Ahsoka said, annoyed.

"And what's that?" Tal asked between chuckles.

"A soldering gun." Ahsoka said jokingly, and Tal stopped laughing.

"Ouch." Tal said, and he continued work on his module.

"Anyway, Tal, I was wondering if you would be willing to come to the library with me; I need to do some research, and I'd like some company." Ahsoka said, and Tal nodded.

"Sure, I'll come. I need to do some research myself. Adam, get ready; I'm going to need your help prioritizing and organizing data on astromech schematics." Tal said.

"I am ready to assist Tal." Adam said, and the two Jedi went to the library.

After spending a couple of hours in the library, going over research and data, Ahsoka and Tal were getting close to reaching a break through on their respective subjects, when a fellow padawan walked over to them.

"Tal Ordo? Ahsoka Tano?" The padawan asked, and the two looked at the boy, waiting for him to speak. "I'm Aaron Kast; I was hoping to talk to the both of you in joining a small team I'm forming." Aaron said.

"What kind of team?" Tal asked, and Aaron leaned in closely so he could whisper to the two padawans.

"My team and I are going to find Dooku's assassin, Ventress, and kill her!" Aaron whispered, but Tal and Ahsoka almost yelled out in shock.

"Are you insane!? You can't just hunt down and kill Ventress; it's not that easy!" Ahsoka said.

"Why would the Council even approve of this plan; execution and looking for battle is not the Jedi way!" Tal scolded, but Aaron didn't show signs of letting up.

"Ventress is a menace to the Republic and the Jedi! She must be put down like the kath hound she is!" Aaron said angrily.

"Why are you so hell bent on attacking Ventress?" Tal asked, and Aaron growled.

"She…killed my master on a mission a few months ago…as she did to every other member of my team. She needs to pay!" Aaron said.

"So, this is matter of avenging your master's death. That makes this plan of yours even worse then!" Tal said, but Aaron shook his head.

"It's not just a matter of vengeance; if Ventress is killed, than the Republic will gain a major advantage over the Separatists." Aaron argued, but Tal shook his head.

"How do you expect a few padawans to defeat Ventress, anyway?" Tal asked.

"We have strength and numbers, and everyone knows how powerful you two are; especially you Tal. Your mission at the rogue research lab is famous amongst the Order." Aaron said, and Ahsoka rolled his eyes.

"Strength in numbers won't help you; I've faced Ventress before, multiple times. She's more powerful than you can imagine." Ahsoka said, and Aaron just turned around.

"It's not too late to change your mind; we'll be leaving in five minutes." Aaron said, and he and the other padawans made their way to the hanger.

"Tal, we can't let those guys go through with their plan; we have to inform the Council!" Ahsoka said.

"It wouldn't do any good Ahsoka; as soon as we get to the Council and tell them what's going on, those di'kute will already be on their way to Korriban, and by the time the Council catches up, half of them will have been killed by Ventress. There's only one thing we can do; go with them and try to keep them alive." Tal said, but Ahsoka wanted to tell the Council.

"Tal, we're just padawan's!" Ahsoka reminded, but Tal wasn't going to change his mind so easily.

"Ahsoka, they'll get slaughtered if we don't join them, and their deaths will be on our hands because we didn't help them. The best we can do is just keeping them alive." Tal explained, when suddenly, Artoo rolled into the library.

"Artoo! Thank the Force you're here! I need you to do me a huge favor!" Ahsoka said when she started recording a message for Artoo to deliver.

"Hey Aaron! Wait up!" Tal said as he and Ahsoka ran to catch up with him and the other padawans. "We decided that we're going to join you after all." Tal explained, and Aaron nodded.

"Good. I knew you two would come around eventually. Come on; we need to get going before someone spots us." Aaron said, and the three of them boarded the shuttle they were taking to go to Korriban.

Meanwhile, Anakin, Obi-wan, Plo Koon, Yoda, and Mace Windu were going over war strategies, when Artoo suddenly barged into the room, hollering as loud as he could, and rammed straight into the holographic projector.

"Artoo!? What's going on?" Anakin asked as he walked over to the droid, and Artoo began repeating Ahsoka's in a series of beeps. "What!?" Anakin responded when the message ended.

"What is it Anakin?" Obi-wan asked.

"Artoo just said that a few padawan's are going to Korriban to try and kill Ventress." Anakin recited, and the Masters gasped in shock. "The leader is Aaron Kast, and apparently, they all lost their Master to Ventress at one, and are looking for revenge. Ahsoka and Tal joined them to try and keep them alive, but are requesting that we follow them as quickly as possible." Anakin said, and the Masters immediately made their way to the hanger.

When the padawan's finally made it to Korriban, they immediately made their way to the Valley of the Dark Lords, where they believed Ventress was hiding. One of the padawans then began reaching out with the Force, trying to find any sign of life, when she suddenly pointed to the Tomb of Tulak Hord.

"She's in there!" The padawan exclaimed, and all seven padawan's ran to the tomb entrance, but found out that they couldn't open the door, even when they pressed on the pressure plate that was found in the middle.

"Looks like the door is being sealed by the Force." Ahsoka said finally, and one of the padawans pulled out their lightsabers, and tried to slash the door, but the blade didn't even leave a scratch.

"What!? But how…" The padawan asked in shock, and Tal reached out with the Force to investigate, and he quickly sensed the cause of the door's supposed indestructibility.

"Ventress is using the Force to make the door lightsaber resistant; she knows we're here." Tal said, but Aaron didn't believe it.

"How could she know we're here? We made sure we were undetected!" Aaron explained, but Tal rolled his eyes.

"We're seven padawans standing in the middle of what is probably the most powerful Dark Side Force Nexus in the galaxy; we stick out like a sore thumb." Tal explained, and Aaron groaned.

"Tal, you're good at getting doors open; you try to find a way to do it." Ahsoka said, and Tal nodded.

"Good idea; I do happen to a very special, secret Jedi technique for getting Sith Tomb doors open." Tal said, and all the padawans watch expectantly as Tal stepped forward.

"What is it?" Aaron asked, and Tal just smirked behind his mask as he balled his hand into a fist.

*Knock, knock…..BOOM*

As the dust around the entrance cleared, it was revealed that Tal actually, using his cybernetic strength, combined with the Force, destroyed the door simply by punching it, leaving nothing of the door, except for small pieces of rubble.

"Was the knocking really necessary?" Ahsoka asked, and Tal grinned.

"It pays to be polite." Tal said sarcastically, and Ahsoka just rolled her eyes as they continued into the tomb.

After walking through the tomb for about thirty minutes, they walked into a large room, dark and completely empty, and the padawan's were ready for anything, especially Tal.

"Be careful; I sense a trap." Tal warned, and he got his lightsaber ready for an attack, when they suddenly heard maniacal laughter.

"Thank you for coming all this way, just to let me slaughter you; it takes away the trouble of me hunting you myself." Ventress' voice echoed from nowhere, and all the padawan's got their lightsabers out. "But before I kill you, I'm going to let you play with one of my new pets." Suddenly, one of the walls started to rise, and the padawan's started feeling a chill going down their spine as they heard a rumbling growl. The doorways also closed on them, making it impossible for the young Jedi to escape. When the wall had completely risen, several torches instantly lit up, revealing what was in the chamber; an ancient beast known as a Terentatek.

"It's a Terentatek!" One of the padawan's yelled, and Tal remembered his studies about the beast during his time as a youngling.

"Quick! Everyone stay together; it we pool our strength, we can defeat this thing!" Tal instructed, but Aaron objected.

"That's foolish! That'll allow it to take us all out at once! Everyone surround it, and attack it from all sides! Then we can take it down easy!" Aaron suggested.

"There is no 'taking it down easy' when it comes to a Terentatek! It was created specifically to hunt and kill Jedi!" Tal reminded, but the other padawan's didn't seem to listen, the other five Jedi surrounded the creature ready to attack. "Di'kut!" Tal swore, and he looked over at Ahsoka. "Stay with me Ahsoka; it's suicide to try and take on one of those abominations. When it's distracted, we'll attack it together. It won't be easy, but we HAVE to take that thing down!" Tal said, and Ahsoka nodded as she got her two lightsabers ready.

The padawan's didn't even wait for the creature to charge; two of them rushed the Terentatek, and tried to Force Push it, but nothing happened; they didn't realize that Terentatek were able to resist weak Force attacks; this caught the padawan's off guard, and left the open for a counter attack from the beast. The Terentatek charged at the two padawan's, and slashed both of them with its clawed hand, sending them flying back. One of the padawan's was killed instantly by the wounds he sustained from the Terentatek's attack, while the other had its neck broken when he hit stone wall. Aaron and the other three padawan's were shocked at how quickly their allies were killed, and they let their fear get the better of them, as they were frozen, giving the Terentatek a chance to get close and attack. The Terentatek grabbed one of the padawan's, lifted her up, and bit down on her head, and gave a hard yank, tearing a chunk of her body off, and swallowed it. The kids were horrified at what they saw as the Terentatek finished eating the corpse, and turned to the remaining three padawan's, who were finally shaken from their frozen state, and ready to defend themselves. But the Terentatek was too strong for them, everyone knew that, and Ahsoka couldn't stand to see her fellow Jedi be killed so easily, so when the Terentatek was about to kill another padawan with its claws, Ahsoka suddenly charged forward, ready to attack.

"Ahsoka! No!" Tal yelled, but it was too late for him to stop her; Ahsoka was already in front of the Terentatek. However, at the last second, Tal used the Force to create a bubble around Ahsoka, hoping to protect her from the attack, and although it softened the blow, she was still sent flying, and had a deep gash across her waist, but it wasn't fatal. Tal, knowing that they only way that he, Aaron, and Ahsoka, and the other padawans were going to get out alive, they were going to have to kill the Terentatek. So, reaching out with the Force, Tal brought Ahsoka's lightsaber to his hand, activated it, and got ready to attack.

"Tal, are you crazy?! We need to get out of here!" Aaron said as he checked on Ahsoka.

"That monster isn't going to give us the opportunity; we need to put this beast down, and my armor gives me the biggest advantage! You and the others get by the door, and try to get it open somehow. I'll handle Ventress' pet!" Tal said, and he charged at the Terentatek, while Aaron picked up Ahsoka, and he, and the other padawan tried to find a way to open the door.

The Terentatek charged at Tal, and swung at him, but Tal back-flipped away, and waited for the beast to charge again. When it did, Tal jumped, but this time, lifted a large boulder that was next to him into the air with him, and as the Terentatek swung its arm, Tal threw the boulder at the monster's arm, crushing it against the wall, and wedging it to where it couldn't move. Tal landed behind the Terentatek, and by swing both blades at once, Tal was able to cut off the arm that was wedged between the rock and the wall of the room. The monster screamed in pain, and took a few steps back before charging at Tal again. Tal tried jumping over it again, but he wasn't fast enough, and the Terentatek grabbed him, and slammed him against the stone wall. Tal grunted in pain, but he hit the beast with a powerful Force Push, sending it to the other side of the room. While it was dazed, Tal threw his lightsabers at the monsters legs, cutting them off, and when the lightsabers returned to Tal, he jumped in the air, and landed on the Terentatek's back, driving both blades into its neck; and with a quick swing of his arms, he decapitated the Terentatek.

Tal stepped off the Terentatek, and clipped both lightsabers to his belt, and walked over to Aaron, Ahsoka, and the other Padawan, while the two conscious Jedi looked at Tal in wonderment.

"So, you really are as good as all the stories say you are." Aaron said, but Tal ignored the comment, and began checking on Ahsoka, who was lying against the wall, unconscious.

"Adam, scan Ahsoka; check to see if her wounds are fatal or if there's a lethal amount of venom in her bloodstream." Tal ordered, and the visor on Tal's helmet began to glow green as a ray from it began moving up and down Ahsoka's body.

"The wound itself isn't fatal, as long as you can stop her from losing too much blood. And the venom isn't fatal yet; but if you wait too long to handle either, she will succumb." Adam said, but Aaron turned his attention to the door that opened up, which led back out into the Valley if the Dark Lords.

"We're so close; we can defeat Ventress! We can't afford any distractions!" Aaron insisted, but Tal's response was picking Aaron up, and slamming him against the wall.

"Are you insane!? Ventress has already killed half of us, and she hasn't even revealed herself yet. We're leaving! NOW!" Tal demanded, and when Aaron was getting ready to argue, they heard the sound of two lightsabers activated. Both of them turned, and saw the last padawan had two crimson blades sticking out of his chest. Tal and Aaron then activated their lightsabers, as they heard Ventress' cackle echo throughout the tomb.

"Well now, it appears that at least three of you survived. Good; I was worried my pet would take away all the fun." Ventress taunted, and she didn't even give the padawans time to respond, as she lunged towards them, ready to kill both of them. But both Tal and Aaron were able to block her attacks, and counter with their own barrage of lightsaber swings and Force attacks. Ventress, however, was able to knock Tal away, and push Aaron into a wall, leaving him open for a fatal blow; but before it could be delivered, Tal hit Ventress with a Force Push, sending her flying through the hallway, breaking the stone door at the end, and going back out to the Valley of the Dark Lords. Ventress then quickly got back on her feet, just in time to defend against Aaron's follow up attacks, with Tal right behind him. Ventress tried to attack with Force Lightning, but both padawans blocked it with their lightsabers, and continued moving forward. Tal jumped over Ventress' head, and tried to attack her from behind, but she quickly repositioned herself so she could block his attacks and Aaron's at the same time. Eventually, both padawans put Ventress in a saber lock; but this proved to be disadvantageous to them, as they were left open Ventress' next lightning attack. Aaron was knocked into a Sith Statue, while Tal was sent flying over a nearby cliff edge. Tal was able to grab onto the cliff wall, but his lightsabers were lost to the abyss below him. Ventress took the advantage of Tal and Aaron being separated in the battle, and decided to finish Aaron off while he was still dazed from hitting the statue. By the time Aaron returned to reality, Ventress was already in front of him, and didn't even realize that her lightsaber blades were on his neck before his head hit the ground.

"NO!" Tal yelled, getting back up from the cliff wall, just in time to see Aaron get decapitated. Seeing another padawan dead, he quickly began to fill up with rage. Ventress began to cackle again.

"You padawans are so pathetic; so easily bested. You'd all be better off in your temple." Ventress mocked, but Tal simply growled.

"You just made a big mistake!" Tal warned, and Ventress raised her eyebrow in curiosity.

"And what is that?" Ventress wondered, and before she could react, Tal summoned Aaron's lightsaber to his hand.

"You pissed off a Mandalorian!" Tal screamed, and he ran, full Force Speed towards Ventress, that he was just a silver blur. Ventress tried to stop him with more Lightning, but Tal used the Force to deflect it away from him. So, Ventress used even more Lightning, more out of desperation, sensing Tal's rage through the Force, and knowing that there was no way she could defeat him. This time, Tal stopped his charge, but to absorb the lightning being thrown at him, with his hands. Ventress stopped her attack, leaving to spheres of pure energy in Tal's hands. Tal then merged the spheres together, and with it, created one large bolt of Lightning as he sent the energy flying towards Ventress. The assassin was unable to block the attack, mostly because she was terrified by the power Tal was giving off, and the lightning sent Ventress through the air, screaming in pain.

When she finally hit the ground, she immediately realized that Tal was already standing above her; so when she got to her feet, she got in a defensive stance, though she knew there was no way she could fight. Tal, letting his anger fuel his attacks, sent a barrage of heavy attacks towards Ventress, fully intending to kill her. As Ventress' feeble defenses fell, Tal used the opening to cut off Ventress' hands from the wrists. As she screamed in pain, Ventress was slammed to the ground with the Force, leaving herself vulnerable for a fatal blow. Tal raised his lightsaber, ready to end Ventress where she stood, when he heard a familiar voice.

"Tal! Stop!" Windu yelled as he ran over to his padawan.


"Tal, you need to let go of your rage." Windu warned, but Tal was reluctant.

"Ventress…she needs to die! She's killed too many Jedi…she's too dangerous to be left alive, and deserves to be punished!" Tal hissed, but Windu put a hand on Tal's shoulder.

"Tal, striking Ventress down in anger will lead you down the dark path. Do you really want that to happen? Do you really want to throw all of your morals away, in name of vengeance?" Windu inquired, and Tal began to stutter.

"But…but she's…she's caused so much…pa…pain. Killed too many…" Tal struggled to say.

"She's beaten Tal; let it go." Windu insisted, and Tal remained motionless, before finally deactivating the lightsaber, and dropping to his knees. Windu then picked up the lightsaber, and patted Tal's shoulder. "I'm proud of you Tal." Windu said sincerely, and Tal just scoffed.

"Proud? I failed; I was supposed to keep the others alive. I couldn't even do that." Tal said hatefully.

"You did what you could Tal; and not all of them are dead. Padawan Tano has been recovered, and is under medical attention." Windu informed, and Tal gave a small smirk.

"A small victory… I won't let something like this happen to me again. I'll become better, so this no one else will die on my watch." Tal said, and he stood up. "What are we going to do about Ventress?" Tal asked, as he motioned to the unconscious acolyte and Windu picked her up.

"We'll take her back to the Temple; perhaps we can return her to the Light Side of the Force, and be reinstated as a Jedi." Windu answered, and the two made their way back to the shuttle Windu arrived in.

Two weeks had passed since Tal and Ahsoka's mission to Korriban, and Tal sat in his room, meditating, as he assembled his new lightsaber. It was an exact replica of the one he lost, but this one had the Mandalorian insignia engraved on it, covering the entire cylinder. As soon as he finished construction, he heard a knock on his door, and opened it with the Force, letting in a protocol droid.

"The Jedi Council has requested your Presence in the Council Chambers." The droid said, and Tal responded with a nod before getting up, and walking out of the room.

When Tal stepped out of the elevator that had taken him to the Council Chambers, he was greeted by his Master, just outside the main room.

"Master, what's going on?" Tal asked, and Windu just simply motioned for Tal to step into the Council Chambers, which was completely unlit, until the Councils activated their lightsabers in a ceremonial stance; it was then, that Tal realized what was going on.

"We are all Jedi. The Force speaks through us. Through our actions, the Force proclaims itself, and what is real. Today, we are here to acknowledge what the Force has proclaimed. Step forward, Tal Ordo." Yoda ordered, and Tal kneeled before the Grand Master, as Yoda brought his lightsaber down and above Tal's shoulders. "By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force, I dub thee, Knight of the Republic."