That´s part one of some little stories about the pilots of Rogue Squadron which I wrote.
It´s basically about Wedge Antilles´ reflections after the destruction of the second death , don´t be too hard on me, if my English isn´t very good.
I try my best but I am from old Europe and English isn´t my native language.
I hope you like it and I always look forward to getting reviews..
Rating: PG-13, just to be safe, also this one could possibly be also lower-rated
Disclaimer: All rights of Star Wars and all the characters mentioned belong to Lucasfilm Ltd.
The quote belongs to Oscar Wilde, an Irish Poet, Novelist and Dramatist, who lived from 1854-1900.
When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it´s hard to shake hands with her. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
They had won.
It had been a risky battle and they had come close to losing, but they had won.
The emperor was dead. The people were celebrating.
So why wasn't he…?
It was a cool night, yet a warm one, alight with joy and the huge bonfires, which the little furry creatures had lightened- there on the forest moon Endor.
Wedge Antilles, Rogue two, Rogue Squadron's executive commander, one of the destroyers of the second Death Star,
Veteran fighter pilot and survivor of Yavin and Hoth sat alone on top of a soft hill, knees drawn to his chest and arms around them, head thrown back with a vacant expression in the dark eyes.
Yes, they had just defeated the most powerful and most evil two men the galaxy had ever known, yes, the Rebellion had managed to gain everything they had ever – and he had too- dreamt of.
So why wasn't he out there at the festivities, laughing along with the others?
Wedge sighed. He had every right to be happy, to let go of his responsibilities for once, yet-
He held his hands out in front of him. The pale moonlight which fell on them allowed him to investigate them closely. Nothing.
They were still the same old, calloused hands he had had when he had first joined the Rebels, but it was him who wasn't the same anymore.
Sometimes he woke up sweating with the same old nightmares, hands, with blood spreading slowly over them, starting with the fingertips, over their back, further- further- until the hands were coated in dark, red, heavy blood.
But that wasn't the worst in this dreams- no, he had been in situations before where his hands had indeed been splattered with blood- being a soldier involved facing terrifying situations, where he had to kill- hell, his whole life was about killing the Alliance's enemies!-but that was what he fought for- their belief in a free galaxy—
No the worst were those haunting, whispering quiet voices..
Worst of all, he knew they were right. He was everything they accused him of.
Others would probably excuse his deeds with sentences like:
You just did what you had to. You simply followed your orders.
It was your destiny and it was the will of the force that you survived.
Of course. Luke and his force.
It wasn't as if Wedge wouldn't respect the Jedi- Luke was one of his closest friends- one of the ones who were still alive!- but sometimes Wedge didn't want to hear Luke explaining everything which happened with the force.
Was it the will of the force that Jek "Piggy" Porkins,Biggs Darklighter Zev Senesca…just to name a few of those who had been dear to him- were dead?
He knew he was unjust towards Luke- as it had been his loss as well.
But it hadn't been Luke who had failed.
It had been him.
Wedge clutched at his chest- his throat was tight and his eyes burnt with unshed tears.
No. He wouldn't give those little nagging voices in his head the satisfaction of seeing him break down . Not again.
He wiped his eyes angrily.
Should have been you who died there at Yavin, not Biggs.
Wedge didn't have to say anything for himself. He knew the voice was right-
Yet you left, left Biggs to die there—Coward!
The voice stabbed him like a knife- in the only place where he couldn't protect himself properly- his heart.
"No…" he protested weakly, but he was ready to back down, give in the torrential maelstrom made of blurred images and gloomy memories- ready to let himself be pulled down there.
Helplessly, he buried his face in his hands, let his guilt consume him, yet his eyes were dry.
Your fault- your fault-your fault-yours, no one else is responsible-
He could have done something, was what he told himself all the time.
It had been years now since that day, but he could still remember everything as clearly as if it had been yesterday…
Battle of Yavin- four years prior
Green laser beams targeted Wedge's X-wing, while he tried to fly evasive manoeuvres in the narrow trench.
Glancing over his shoulder, Wedge saw that the modified TIE- Fighter was still hot on his heels- it seemed to him as if he would remain oblivious to his prey's desperate attempts to shake him off.
"Damn!" Wedge cursed. "That guy is simply too good."
He said to his astromech:
"Can you support the rear deflectors with additional energy?
We have to think fast of something because we have to distract them until Luke blows this thing up." His R2 chirped an affirmative but before it had the chance to do anything, a great blow let the X-Wing shudder and sparks flew.
Wedge was thrown in the direction of the instrument panel.
He leaned forwards to inspect the damage done.
The instruments on his panel blinked red- some of them were even burnt through- his X-Wing had suffered severe damage and Wedge knew, he couldn't control it anymore. The only thing he could do was pull out now, if he didn't want to join his dead comrades or endanger Luke or Biggs.
All this calculations had been made in less than a second.
With a heavy heart and a knot in his stomach he called out:
"I'm hit! I can't stay with you."
Luke's voice came back, calmer than Wedge would have thought possible in this situation:
"Get clear, Wedge. You can't do any more good back there!"
How sorry he had been and was now as well…still.
He should have- could have done something to prevent Biggs's death, even if he didn't know what…
Wedge felt as if he should have died down there- he would have gladly done so, if he could have changed the following happenings.
But he had failed and Biggs was dead…-
Soon after the evacuation of Yavin, they had come to Hoth.
Wedge had sworn to himself to get never close to anyone anymore- he even avoided talking with Luke if it was possible.
But then he had met Tycho. Tycho Celchu from Alderaan, an Ex-Imperial TIE pilot who had defected after Alderaan's destruction.
Wedge didn't even want to begin to imagine what Tycho must have gone through- yet the other man was always cool, always keeping his emotions in check…
Some were of the opinion, that Celchu didn't have a heart anymore- not after Alderaan- but Wedge knew better.
Now Wedge couldn't really imagine life without him, Derek "Hobbie" Klivian, a Ralltiirian native and defected graduate from the Imperial Academy and
Wes Janson from Tanaab, all fellow pilots.
It wasn't such a quick, fast friendship like his friendship with Jek Porkins born out of need and limited time but it wasn't like his friendship with Luke, with whom he had only shortly talked and had immediately felt familiar with either, it was something different.
Most surely as deep as Luke's and his friendship, but it had been a difficult process to get there because of their different attitudes-
Janson with his childish pranks, which really annoyed the straight-laced, sometimes slightly over-correct Tycho and the ever mournful, dour Hobbie, who in turn annoyed Wedge with his pessimistic announcements- and Wedge himself, who was reluctant to open up to anyone after Yavin.
But in the end, after several occasions like saving each others lives, giving Wes a taste of his own prank-medicine, getting Tycho drunk until he couldn't articulate the word "X-Wing" anymore, dared Hobbie to be nothing but optimistic for a week and tickled the poor guy so unmercifully until he was almost crying with laughter- and- Wedge chuckled, when he thought of the things they had done with him-
Wes had involved him and Tycho in one of his pranks he played on Luke- it had been truly amusing at least until they had been caught. But instead of reverting back to his strict self, which Wedge and Wes had halfway expected from Tycho when they had been caught, the Alderaanian had surprised them and a not very amused Luke with breaking out in peals of laughter. Wedge had looked over at him and had smiled at the sight for he had never seen Tycho laugh like that before; and Luke, though scowling and dripping with water, had caught his eye and returned the small smile.
With Hobbie he had spent a free afternoon, chatting about everything but the war that was going on around them. When Hobbie had heard about Wedge's love for patisserie, he had inaugurated him in the secrets of a Ralltiirian pyramid cake yet had forbidden him in the same breath to bake said cake, reminding him of his -failed- experiments with a cooked Tauntaun on Hoth. Hobbie instead had taken it upon himself to prepare the cake for them. When they had all sat around a table, enjoying the cake and complimenting Hobbie, the Ralltiirian had smiled modestly. In that moment Wedge had understood that the pessimism served as a shield for Hobbie and had tried his best to get to know the man behind it, who turned out to be a honest comrade with a big heart and a wry sense of humor.
With Tycho they had all gone swimming in a lake while they were stationed for on a planet in the Outer Rim where the Empire had not much influence.
They had been forced to stay there because of the chaotic situation on Hoth, where the Alliance had had problems with arranging the places for the soldiers properly since everyone had arrived in a disordered mass at the same time.
So they had asked Red Squadron to stay under disguise on said planet, which had huge similarities to Alderaan, yet it was much smaller.
It was a hot planet and they had been glad to be allowed to go swimming.
Afterwards they had all talked for a long time and they had been there when Tycho had told them of Alderaan's beauty, so similar to this planet. The memories had choked him up and he had made no move to prevent the tears that had finally escaped his strict control.
They were the only ones he allowed to see that he had weaknesses too- and they grew even closer because of that trust he endowed them with.
Wedge still wondered, how in this time of pain, battles and blood they could have got so close and have so much fun- regardless of the death and sorrow, which waited for them every day.
He closed his eyes, reliving the painful time on Hoth next.
He could almost feel the icy winds crawling up on him…
Hoth, one year prior...
Leia spotted Wedge Antilles, Luke's second-in-command leaning against his X-Wing in the hangar, evidently just finished with some checks.
His breath made white clouds appear in the air and the cold colored his nose and cheeks red.
"Wedge!" she called urgently, taking some comfort in the fact that at least he was there, unharmed and obviously in a relatively good mood ,she noticed absentmindedly, when she saw him smile at her.
Now she had to be the bearer of bad news to him- how she wished it was different.
The Corellian jogged over to her, rubbing his hands on his working suit.
Leia cut him off " Luke is missing."
Wedge stared at the Alderaanian princess.
Ice filled his heart- how he managed to speak around the sharp lump in his throat was a miracle for him.
"On the last patrol. He didn't come back. Han has gone outside to search him."
"What? Han Solo? But we must look for him as well!- Leia!"
Leia cut him off again, with a heavy heart.
"No. It's too dangerous, we can't endanger the men."
Wedge was shocked, he couldn't help himself:
Not waiting for a reply, he continued:" All the men here would give their lives for him- Leia, he's our Commander!"
General Rieekan had stepped up.
"You will do as the princess said, Lieutenant Antilles. That's an order."
Wedge saluted sharply and Leia looked at him with empathy.
"If you would excuse me, sir, Princess. I need to…go…somewhere-"
He broke up, saluted again and retreated with hasty steps, breaking in a run, when he was almost out of their sight.
The General sighed. "It's hard. He's still so young-"
"But hardly naïve anymore, general."
Leia said. "He's strong. He will manage the loss of another friend if he must."
"But will you, princess?" Without waiting for a reply, the General turned sharply on his heels, leaving Leia to stand in the deserted hangar, looking at the ground.
Wedge was lying in his bunk, staring at the ceiling.
He seriously considered severing all ties with Hobbie, Wes and Tycho.
It seemed as if all his friends lived in continuous danger- and worst of all, he had failed Luke. Again. Perhaps he was a magnet for Catastrophes.
First his parents, then Biggs, Porkins and now Luke!- Luke who he considered one of his best friends...
But he was a soldier and the dying would never stop.
But perhaps, perhaps he could become as passive as General Rieekan, perhaps he could protect his friends better that way- and perhaps himself too.
However, Hobbie, Tycho and Wes didn't leave him, despite his efforts of acting cold and aloof.
"We know how you feel, Wedge. "
Hobbie said and for a moment a pained looked crossed his mournful face,so Wedge wondered whether he was reminded of something in his past.
Hobbie continued: "But we are your friends as well and what are friends for if not for each other?"
Wes added: "We'll always be by your side, boss, even if everyone else has left."
The third pilot, Tycho told him with a little smile:
"And do not try to act so aloof anymore, Wedge. It doesn't suit you, and besides, when I was an Imperial pilot, I developed this stiffness to perfection, so do not think you would be able to fool me."
When they saw Wedge's still serious face, Hobbie finally sighed and sat down next to him:
"Everyone makes his own choices , Wedge. It wasn't your fault that Luke is in bacta now."
Wes finally broke the uncomfortable silence:
"Besides Wedge, who would be around to drive you crazy, if not us?"
Wedge eventually allowed himself a small smile and thought that he was ready to face the future with them at his side, mo matter what that future might bring.
Hoth however had been a nightmare without end.
Shortly after Luke had recovered, the Empire had arrived.
It had been a hasty retreat and they had lost a lot of lives with the ground troops, on the transporters, pilots and almost Hobbie as well…but in the end the four of them came out alive…Not so many of their fellow pilots though.
Wedge dug his fingers in the mossy ground he was sitting on and thought sadly of a laughing face belonging to a gentle, polite man and a wonderful comrade: Zev Senesca, one out of many who had died on that icy planet.
They had flown to the meeting point, but neither Commander Luke Skywalker nor Leia Organa and Han Solo had shown up.
Wedge had been forced to take command- a position which he felt quite ill at ease with first.
Admiral Ackbar swirled his chair around to meet the astonished face of young lieutenant Wedge Antilles.
"Yes. Until Luke Skywalker comes back, you have now legitimately the command of Rogue squadron. You are as able to have command as some of our senior officers, Antilles, and that's a fact. It doesn't matter that you are still young."
Wedge stared at his hands and his steps were heavy when he saluted and left the room..
Now he was responsible for the lives of a whole squadron of pilots.
Wedge rolled on his back and stared at the stars, contemplating the events which had followed Hoth.
A sense of normality had returned to the squadron, when Luke had returned, but he had still been forced to take command of the squadron pretty frequently.
And now, there had been Endor. They had killed the second death star and again, all four of them as well as Luke had survived.
Wedge had been Red Leader, but by now he was used to so much responsibility and didn't have any problems with commanding a whole squadron.
Wedge wondered whether it was the will of the force that they had all come out unscathed,but if it was, he wasn't going to challenge it, no, for once he praised it.
Luke looked around and nudged Leia. "Where's Wedge?"
"Don't know. But," she added hastily upon seeing his concerned face, "He did arrive here. I saw him before."
Luke frowned and jumped when someone cried near his ear: "Luke!"
"Wedge! Where've you been?"
He embraced his friend fiercely.
"I only came to terms with myself, that's all."
Wedge's reply was mysterious and quiet, but Luke was too happy to see him and most of the others safe here, so he didn't press it.
"Your highness," Wedge bowed to Leia.
"Oh no, Antilles."
"Well, if I am Your Highness, then you're Antilles."
She wagged her finger at him.
Wedge laughed heartily. " Princess Leia."
"You always find a way, don't you, Wedge?"
"Of course", he replied, making an offended face.
"I am a Corellian after all."
Leia laughed and Luke chuckled.
"Wedge!" someone cried again.
Wedge frowned and turned around, only to be met by a good-natured slap on his shoulder.
"Ouch! What was that for?" he asked, making his best
"I-am-an-offended-officer-and-you-are-the-culprit- " face.
Tycho Celchu chuckled: "For leaving us alone and searching for you, you nerf."
Then he spotted Leia and upon seeing Alderaan's princess, his eyes widened.
Leia sighed: "Not you as well."
Tycho stared at her, confused.
"She doesn't appreciate being called like that."
"Ah" Tycho said and Wedge noticed, that his breath smelled a bit of ale.
The others had obviously already been celebrating their victory.
Victory over the Empire. Wedge smiled.
For the first time, the mouldy aftertaste of old coffee he always tasted on his tongue upon hearing those words was gone.
Tycho meanwhile had worked out a solution…
"Princess Leia then."
Leia groaned and buried her face in her hands and a muffled
"It thought he was from Alderaan" could be heard.
Tycho looked flabbergasted, while Luke and Wedge started to snicker.
Some time later, Luke asked everyone to quieten down.
"I have an announcement to make. Lieutenant Antilles, if you would please come here."
Wedge stared at him, wondering what he was possibly up to.
Hesitantly, he stepped forwards and joined Luke.
He could see Tycho, Wes and Hobbie staring curiously at him, along with the rest of the Rogues.
Luke suddenly became very formal.
Wedge immediately snapped to attention and saluted sharply, yet he wondered silently, what that was all about.
"At ease." Wedge loosened up a bit, nonetheless he remained in a military posture.
"Lieutenant Antilles, you are hereby with immediate effect promoted to a commander and from now on you are in command of Rogue Squadron. Do you accept?"
Wedge was absolutely shocked, but not in a bad way.
"Yes, of course…" he replied, blushing, when he heard Luke clear his throat and Janson chortle somewhere in the background because of his lack of military protocol.
Realizing that all eyes were on him, he fought hard to keep himself from blushing again.
"Yes, sir. Absolutely, sir."
"Good, Commander. " Luke removed Wedge's Lieutenant insignia and fastened a Commander's one at his uniform.
"So Rogues", Luke drawled with a wide grin blossoming on his boyish features. "Meet your new commander."
The Rogues were silent for a moment, then they cheered loudly and Wedge grinned involuntarily. Of course, Wes was the one to interrupt the solemn moment.
"Do I get kitchen duty, Commander Antilles?"
"Why?" Wedge inquired warily.
"Well Wedge, I sort of threatened the cook earlier because of her terrible lemon cocktails- and let's be serious, no one who doesn't want a serious case of poisoning would touch them anyway.
She was so angry that she threw me out and told me she won't be cooking any more meals for Rogue squadron. I just wanted to tell you now, when you are all in such a good mood."
His statement was met with stunned silence, then Luke said smugly:
"Well, since his duty is to care for your well-being now, it looks as if you are all stuck with Wedge's cooking, guys."
There was a moment of silence.
"Nooo. We are doomed," wailed Hobbie and buried his face in his hands.
"Wes!" the other members of Rogue Squadron shouted.
Wes took off running. "No…please. I am innocent. Don't hurt me."
Wedge smiled and gazed after his friends.
Life was good despite everything and he was ready to face every challenge the future held in stash for him with them at his side.