"I remembered where you put them. When I was younger I used to sneak up to the attic and put them on. They didn't fit like they do now." He watches his mom for a moment and sat down on the bed, "Mom...I miss him too. But this is something we can do in his name for the better of the Force. Don't worry, it the Force 3 times to kill dad, I imagine I inherited that trait." He said with a smile.
She sighed, "I can't believe you would sneak up there. I always meant for you to have them one day. I guess I didn't realize how soon that day would come." She sat down next to him, putting her hands on her own knees. "He would have loved this place. Loved how small it was, how perfect the rooms were. He would have worked in the garden. It's why I've got a hard time leaving here. He would have loved it, and I don' t want to let it go."
"But you aren't letting it go mom. You're just going to stay some place else for a while. You'll still have this place to call home." He put his hands on hers, "And I'll always consider this home, no matter what." He smiled again and stood, "But before we go, you have to start developing on your Force abilities again. If you're going to be teaching, you'll have to teach by example."
Tal looked to the bags on the floor, "Is this all you're bringing then? We've got the rest already set to go. Jeanne is coming with us too. I have the ship ready to go. All she needs is her pilot." He was referring to Serenity's ship that had been sitting in space dock for such a long time. Tal had taken the liberty of making sure it was up to par and ready to go. "Ready to the amazing Jedi I know you are?"
She sighed, "I know you're right. You're just like your father in that respect. He was usually right, too." She said, thinking about her ship in the dock. She hadn't done much of the things she use to do.
"Yeah. Let's go." She said, moving into the living room. She grabbed a few picture frames, putting them into her bag. She made it to the entry, turning to look back at the place that had been her home for 20 plus years.
Tal helped carry the bags and things to the ship, where Jeanne was waiting for them. She stood standing infront of the landing ramp smiling brightly, her thinks by her side. She didn't have much, just a bag, and a few other random things. She was wearing a leather jacket with black pants and a black shirt with her blaster on her hip. She had a small hat on her head that looked vaguely like an Imperial officer's hat, but without the insignia.
"We all set?" Jeanne nodded and helped with the bags. "Master Skywalker has been alerted to our coming. Apparently he is ecstatic to be having the Jedi Master who taught the great Les Crafter coming to his Academy."
"I resent that remark!" Said Les walking up behind them with Brandon, a big smile on his face. "All set then?"
Serenity followed behind, smiling at the group that was waiting by her ship. "As I'll ever be." She said, moving up the ramp of her ship. It had been years since she stepped onto the ship, and she breathed it in. Memories flooded her, overwhelming her with the past. She felt like she couldn't breathe. She wasn't ready for this. Wasn't ready for over powering sense of sadness that surrounded her.
Tal felt her sadness and set the bags down. Walking up behind her, he put his hands on her shoulders, "One step at a time mom."
Les stepped in for a moment and nodded, "I remember her well. Good ship. And you got yourself a good pilot." He said nodding to Tal. "We'll see you back at the Temple when we're done. May the Force be with you."
"May the Force be with you Les." Tal said and squeezed his mother shoulders, "Come on mom. Let's get goin. But I get the pilot's seat!" He said with a smile.
She nodded to Les, "May the Force be with you, Les." She said softly, moving up to the cockpit with her son. "You'll have to fly. I don't think I remember how." She said simply, taking the seat behind the pilot's. She would let Jeanne sit in the co-pilot seat. It had been years since she flew, and she pulled the seat belt on her lap. She just wanted it to be over, to be at a temple, to feel some kind of peace for all this.
Tal looked back at her, "Relax mom. Remember a Jedi feels no fear." He said with a wink, repeating the words she had said to him many times in his youth.
The ship shuddered as it lifted off the ground and rose into the air. He got the clearance from the tower and vector to take as they shot into the atmosphere. Tal and Jeanne piloted the ship with ease and grace as they plotted the course to Yavin 4 and the ship shot into hyperspace.
A small light began to flash slightly on the counsel and Tal checked it out, "Ah, damned coils. We should have had them replaced before we left. No problem though, I'll go give them a tune up real quick."
Tal moved off into the back of the ship, opening up a hatch and sticking himself inside. He found the coil that was shaking slightly and began to tune it with the spanner. His legs stuck out of the hatch into the air as he used the Force to grab the other tool he needed to fix the wiring problem behind the coil. He was getting good and greasy, just the way he liked it. He loved working on ships. Very easy to fix.
Serenity walked back, letting Jeanne control the ship while she went back to watch her son work. She leaned against the frame of one of the doorways, smiling at him as he worked. He looked so much like his father, working as quickly as he was. Tal was the same way, and she was pleased to see that her son was the same kind of man that his father had been.
"Need any help?"
Tal disappeared out of sight then his head popped out from the hatch, "Sure! You want to help me rewire the hydroconduit on junction C? The wires are a bit corroded. Also, the transporting unit seems to be shooting sparks for some reason. Not sure why." He disappeared inside the hatch again, inside the belly of the ship, working and torquing, trying to get the ship up to par.
She laughed, moving into the hatch with her son. She had built the hydroconduit herself, knowing exactly what it needed to be fixed. She grabbed the tools she needed, removing the corroded wires and replacing them. It took her only a few moments, putting it back where it belonged. "Got it. Did you get the transporting unit?" She asked, wiping her hands on her travel clothes.
Tal looked down at his mom's work and grinned, "Dang mom. You're holding out on me!" He moved his way into a narrow crack that he just barely fit into to get to the transporting unit. As he got close a spark jumped out and hit his hand, singing it slightly, "OUCH!" He said and smirked, "Guess I deserved that for not paying attention." Chuckling, he fastened it to where it was supposed to be and moved back to look at it. It stopped shooting sparks and he nodded in satisfaction.
"Perfect." He said to himself, "Alright next." He said to himself as if going down a list. "The hydro mixer is spitting out dirty water. I think you'll just have to replace it. But other then that, there really isn't anything too important that needs attention right away. Nothing we can't work on at the Temple that is."
Tal looked back up, "So how you holdin up mom?"
She shrugged, "I'm holding it together. Flying is good for me. Very catharsis. I didn't realize how much I missed it." She said, jumping out of the hatch and grabbing a spare hydro mixer that she use to keep on board. She knelt down, handing it to him. "This should work. It's old, but should still work." She said with a smile. "I've missed you."
Tal looked at the unit for a moment and nodded then looked back up at his mother, "Come on mom, I haven't been gone that long." He said with a grin. The grease had rubbed off on his face and hands and he looked like he had just dived into a grease bucket. His head went around a corner to get the old unit out but he stopped and stuck his head back out, "But for what its worth, I missed you too."
She smiled, "A mother always misses her children. Even if they're only gone for a day or two." She said, laughing a little. It was a true statement. Every day, she missed the son she never got to meet. But she smiled at her son, enjoying this time together. "Do you think you'll stay at the Academy for a while?"
He sat back with the unit in his hand and examined it for a moment, "I don't know. It really just depends on if I'm needed elsewhere I guess. I guess you could call me a part of the Jedi Order now. I've always wanted to know what that was like. I guess now I'll get the chance huh?" Pulling the old unit off, he set it down before plugging the new one in and securing it in place.
He stopped or a moment and looked up at his mom, "How about you? You ready to be a Jedi Knight again?"
"Jedi Master, not Knight. I don't think I'll be going out on missions like I use to. I'll leave that for the younger ones. I'm way too old to be doing anything like I use to." She said, thinking about her old days, when she was running around the galaxy with Anakin and Obi-wan. She didn't think she missed it, but talking about it, thinking about it, made her ache.
"You'll find out soon enough what's it like. I just hope you're ready for it."
Tal half grinned, "I'll admit my skills haven't been fully tested, but by most standards I am a Jedi Knight. I guess I'll finally be able to take the trials huh?" He began to tweak a few components infront of him as he spoke, "And as far as you being 'too old'," He gave her a sarcastic look, "Come on mom...I can see you takin on a Sith Lord and kicking his ass!"
Serenity had to laugh at her son. "I haven't taken on a Sith since I was almost 25 years younger. I doubt my body would be able to keep up." She said, watching her son work. "You have to take the trials. And a little more training might do you some good as well." She said, always a mother.
Tal gave her a look, knowing she was being 'a mother'. "Yes mother." He said sarcastically and went back to tweaking. "I'm sure you would kick a Sith's butt no problem mom. Of that I have no doubt."
His mind raced with the idea of being a Jedi Knight out on some distant planet battling a Sith. He half grinned again and motioned for a tool, "Can you hand me that please?"
She handed him the tool he asked for, "So tell me more about Jeanne."
Les took the tool and started working on the machinery infront of him, "She's a great girl mom. Nice, kind, caring, but strong. She was probably one of the strongest security members we had on our continent. She may look danty and small, but she will knock you on your butt quicker then it takes you to blink. She's a fun girl. You'd like her a lot if you got to know her mom. Very kind like you, very loving, but very strong."
Serenity smiled, "I would trust you to pick a great girl. She's really nice. I think you two are good together. So don't worry about my approval. She already has it, from what I've seen."
Tal chuckled, "Thanks mom. That means a lot." He snapped something into place and put his hands on his already dirty knees, "There, done. Looks like we're ready to take on the Empire...figuratively of course." He said winking.
He looked over himself for a moment and chuckled again, "Looks like I need a shower. Let's put that new unit to the test shall we?"
Serenity smiled at him, "Let's give it a go." She said, giving him a great smile. Things were going to be okay. Even if it got hard, she knew her son would be there for her. "Good thing we added some quarters in the back when we were living out of this thing for months. Shower up, and I'll head up to the cockpit."
"Sound good!" After a while, Les came back to the cockpit to Jeanne and Serenity smiling about something and laughing.
"I'm almost afraid to ask..." He said cautiously.
Jeanne giggled, "Oh nothing. Your mom was telling me wonderful stories about your childhood. Do you remember the incident with the Rodian and-"
"The turbine. Yeah I remember. I remember the damned guy fell on his butt so quick because of that that he was too stunned to be angry." Les said and everyone laughed. Just then there was a beeping and a red flashing light on the counsel and Les sat in the pilot's chair. "We're dropping out of hyperspace."
Just then static and a voice erupted from the comm, "This is unauthorized space. Please state your intentions and origin."
"This is Tal Mantalus Jr. Jedi Knight of the Jedi Order with Master Jedi Serenity Mantalus. We are expected by Master Skywalker." Tal said looking hopeful.
There was a slight pause then static again, "It's a pleasure to finally have you Jedi Mantalus'. I am Luke Skywalker. I'm so glad to have found another Jedi from the Old Republic. Thank you for coming and I'll see you soon!"
Tal smiled, "The pleasure is all ours Master Skywalker. We'll see you soon."
After being given their landing vector, they landed at a small temple that was sitting on top of a hill. There was a precession of Jedi standing and waiting for them all dressed in their finest robes and eager to see the Jedi Master and new Jedi Knight. As the landing platform opened they were greeted with bows, "Welcome fellow Jedi to the Jedi Praxium."
Serenity had changed into one of her old jedi robes. She'd lost a few pounds since she'd worn them. Her old saber was attached to her hip, swinging softly at her side. She was nervous, but didn't play it off like she was. She smiled at the group, returning the bow. She couldn't believe how many Jedi they'd gather. It had been years since she'd felt this much energy in one place. "Thank you or the warm welcome."
Skywalker walked forward and helped Serenity down, "It is a true honor and pleasure to have such great Jedi in our presence. I am Luke Skywalker Jedi Master of this Academy." He pointed to the man behind him, "This is Jedi Master Kyle Katarn. He and Master Crafter are the other Master's of this temple. But I hope you will be the forth." He said with a pleasant smile.
Tal was behind Serenity as Luke caught notice of him, "And you must be the famous Tal Mantalus Jr.?"
Tal bowed his head with a smile, "Indeed I am Master Skywalker. I'm not sure what Master Crafter has told you though. I'm just a regular Jedi Knight."
"Regular or not, you are a part of this community of Jedi. You are most welcome Tal. And who might this be?" Luke asked looking at Jeanne.
Tal stepped back and brought her forward, "This is my girlfriend Jeanne. She wanted very much to meet you Master."
Skywalker bowed and extended his hand, "It is a pleasure to have you with us Jeanne."
Jeanne took his hand, "It is a great honor to meet you Master Skywalker! Thank you for taking me!"
(OOPS! I wasn't done yet! Sorry bout that!)
Skywalker looked back at Serenity, "Well there is much we need to discuss. I would very much like to hear your story so far Master Mantalus." He stepped to the side and opened his arm to the Temple, "Shall we?"
Serenity smiled at Luke. She had seen him only once before, by chance. He had been very young, and she didn't speak to him, but she knew who he was. "I'm very honored to be here. I knew your father very well, when he was still Anakin and an amazing Jedi." She said with a genuine smile. "We were very close." She said, remembering back to their padawan days.
Luke looked up at her with a smile and grinned, "Is that so? I would very much like to talk more about that later if that is alright with you?"
She smiled and nodded, "I would be honored to talk to you about it." She said, remember that she packed the book she'd made back when she was just a Padawan. She'd saved it for just an occasion like this. He would be pleased to see it. "I am curious about this Academy you've created. We've tried a dozen times to put one into place. I wish you better luck then we had."
"Yes Master Crafter told me of your lack of fortune with your previous temples. The difference is that this Temple is supported by the government and hidden well. We also have a large fighting force a system away on high alert in case we are attacked. The planning that was put into choosing the location for the Jedi Temple took many years, but we finally decided on Yavin 4 for many reasons. The Force is rich here, the life is abundant, and the training grounds are always changing because of the vegetation. In short, this is the ideal place for us to train the Jedi for the New Republic. I am curious Master Mantalus, where did you go after order 66 was given? Were you a Jedi Knight then?" Luke was very happy to share these things with a Jedi who could possibly help, even make the Praxium better.
She nodded, "I was a knight, but the Force put me at the Temple that day. Vader had broken off from the Stormtroopers, and he found me in a meditation room. And I couldn't fight him, we had been too good of friends. And before I knew it, he was Anakin again, and he told me to run. So I did. I'd known him since he was 9, and somehow he was able to focus on that and let me go. I ran, stole a cruiser and booked it out of there. I found Obi-wan a month later." She said with a shrug. "Vader searched me out almost every day since, but we were able to avoid him fairly easily. And I was close friends with Leia's father at the time, so he helped me out if I needed it."
Luke smiled at the thought of Anakin letting Serenity go. Proof that he still did have good in him. "He was a great Jedi. He saved my life against the Emperor. There was still good in his heart, even if he chose to ignore it for all those years. He is one with the Force now."
They went on for many hours talking about the past as Luke showed her the temple and the different rooms and students that were running about. Luke always held a smile on his face as each child ran up to him and Serenity, bowed, politely, then ran off to continue their studies. There were a few Knights walking around as well and Luke introduced them to Serenity, each very polite.
Luke finally came to a long hallway with many doors, "This is the living quarters for the Knights and Masters. This will be your room." He pressed a button on the door next to them and it slide open to reveal an absolutely beautiful room with wide windows, an open deck that had a beautiful view of the lake near the Temple. "One of the best rooms in the Temple." Luke said smiling, "I hope it will be alright for you."
She smiled, finding the same sense of peace she had back in her little house on Naboo. "It's perfect. I wouldn't have thought you would have so many here. Your numbers are incredible. And that you're so well funded. I'm guessing Leia had a hand in that."
Luke chuckled, "A hand yes. But most of our equipment was given as a gift after the war and some of it was taken from the Remnant after a few different battles. We are a branch of the New Republic and we report to the Senate, but they can not interfere in our affairs. Leia has been very helpful in giving us this Temple and all that it has.
The students are found through the Force. Some are orphans or castaways because of their abilities. Rather then try to understand them, most people choose to be afraid of them. We take in those that have been outcast and turn them into Jedi Knights."
She smiled, having used the same techniques back when they were trying to rebuild the temple. "So what do you want my role to be here? I won't interfer with what you've built, but I'm curious as to why you need me here. It looks like you've got something good going here."
"Thank you. We have tried very hard to get here. We need another voice, another mind, another counsel member. Someone who can help make the decisions that need to be made for the good of the Jedi Order, the New Republic and the Force. You would help with the teachings of the students, with the major decisions to keep our Academy going and how we might help the galaxy back into a state of peace without war and turmoil." Luke placed his hands behind his back as Tal Jr. looked up at her with an open gaping mouth. He knew she would teach, but this? Holy crap...
She blinked in confusion. "I'm sorry, I don't think I heard you correctly. You want me to sit on the council? You hardly know me. I haven't really used the Force in almost 7 years. And you want me to teach these kids how to use it? To guide them in the Force?" She took a seat on the bed, trying to take it all in. It was a big opportunity, and she didn't know if she could handle that. She closed her eyes, searching for some guidance.
Luke pulled up a chair and sat down, "Serenity, a week ago I saw a vision through the Force. In this vision, you stood by me, Kyle, and Les as we made an important decision about the future of one of the Padawan's here. You also helped to decide on the fate of your son here at the Temple and you helped defend it. Although you may have given up on the Force, the Force has not given up on you. I can feel it's presence surrounding you, wanting very badly to be a part of you again." He pulled out a small holovid and it activated to show a figure standing infront of them. The man was smiling and held out his hands for something. The image repeated itself. It was Tal Senior.
"Les told me what happened to his old master, from what he could remember. He gave me this holovid knowing that you would be here someday to get it." Luke set it on the table infront of her, "I can't imagine what the loss of a husband might feel like. Why did the Force take him? Maybe you could have stopped him, could have done something different to change what happened. But all is as the Force wills it. I can help you move past this resentment Serenity, but only if you allow yourself to let go of your pain."
Tal stepped forward and kneeled down infront of his mother, putting a hand on her knee. "Come on mom...it's time you let this go..."
Serenity blinked, the image of her husband bringing tears to her eyes. She knew that she wouldn't be able to hold onto the resentment she felt. She wasn't able to keep it help in any longer. It was easier to forget about it, but when it was brought in front of her like this, so could no longer ignore it.
She needed to live for something more. This was what she needed. It was all here, in front of her. She could no longer deny her desire for something more. She let the sob out that had been stuck in her throat since Tal's death. She cried for her son, one one she never really knew, for her husband who didn't get to know either of them. She held onto her son, letting the tears fall freely as she let go of her past pain.
Tal sat next to her on the bed holding her in his strong arms. He let her cry out what she needed to cry, letting a few tears of happiness fall down his face. Luke left the holovid on the table as he smiled and stood outside the door.
Tal stroked his mom's hair as she cried trying to hush her quietly, "It's going to be alright mom. I'll be here with you the entire way. I promise."
Serenity only cried for a few moments, letting all the pain that was inside her escape out. She took a few seconds to catch her breath. But she looked up at her soon, and her face was hopeful. It was something he would have never seen on her face. "You don't have to stay here. I'll be okay. I'm finding peace. Slowly, one step at a time. You have your own life."
Tal cocked his head to the side and chuckled, "Mom, even if I tried, I couldn't stay away from you. If you're staying here, then I'll be seeing you all the time. I'll give you some time though. Master Skywalker wants to show me my room anyways. I'll be back to check on you later ok?"
As Tal opened the door, Luke stood outside with Kyle, talking about something and he turned with a smile. Luke stuck his head in the door, "I'll be in my chambers if you need me Serenity. Good to have you with us."