|The Death of Wedge Antilles
Author: Sherlock PM
A short story by Susan Hill: Even a Rogue has to go sometime. It is time for Wedge's friends to accept that even the greatest of them all must eventually fall.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Sci-Fi - Wedge A. & Corran H. - Words: 8,228 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 9 - Published: 05-04-02 - id: 759337
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story was written for the sole purpose of entertainment. No copyright infringement or harm is intended. The characters you know are owned by George Lucas, all others are property of the Author.
Corran & Mirax
Mirax Terrik Horn sat on the green and white couch, going over the latest figures for the price of Caridan hunting relics. Although not really a trader anymore, having given the business over to Wedge's younger daughter, Myri Antilles, she still liked to keep an eye on the market. She could still sometimes spot a bargain and pass the information on to Myri. Other times she just purchased things that interested her. For the most part, she just liked to feel like she was up to date on what was happening in the galaxy.
She stopped scanning the text as she heard Corran swearing and generally making a lot of noise in the bedroom. Guessing he was still having trouble fixing the space heater, she put her datapad aside to go check on him. She wandered down the hallway towards the room, glancing at the static holos of their family and friends that lined the walls. She smiled at a holo of her father, Booster Terrik, as she passed it. She still missed him terribly.
Reaching the bedroom, she leaned her shoulder on the doorjamb and smirked down at her husband. "Aren't you done with that yet?" she asked him. Mirax chuckled as she looked at Corran, who was sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by various tools and pieces of electronics. An oil smudge marred his forehead.
Corran glanced up at her with a frown before hitting the heater again with his tool. A metallic clang rang through the room. "I don't understand why it won't work. I've changed just about every part!"
Mirax laughed. My big Jedi husband can't fix a simple heater. It's nice to know that even the Jedi have their limitations. "I told you it would be easier to buy a new one," she reminded him.
"Yeah, I know," he said, blowing some graying hair out of his eyes. "But I wanted to see if I could fix it first. You know, be handy around the house and all that."
Mirax smiled at him, then moved closer and leaned over him, her hands on his shoulders. Ever since they had moved to Coronet City on Corellia, Corran had insisted on doing most of the renovations around the house himself. He even had Wedge over helping him at one point. His former commander had to fly four hours from his home on the other side of the planet to help him paint. But Mirax knew it was just an excuse for them to get together again. And for Wedge to get a chance to fly. In fact, there had been a lot more laughing and conversation at one point than actual painting.
She was glad that they had decided to return to Corellia permanently. It was, despite a long absence, their home, and there was nowhere like it in the galaxy as far as she was concerned. It also meant that they were closer to Wedge and Iella. Although they still didn't get to see them as much as they wanted to, there was more of a chance of visiting them when they were on the same planet than if they were hundreds of lightyears away.
Corran stood suddenly, knocking Mirax back a couple of steps. Her husband gasped, and staggered towards their bed, his face whiter than Mirax had ever seen it before.
"What is it?" she asked, rushing to his side as he half sat, half dropped onto the bed.
He reached a trembling hand up towards his forehead and ran his fingers through his hair. "Something awful has happened." Corran's face scrunched up as he concentrated, beads of sweat forming on his upper lip.
"Where? Who? Corran, what's going on?" Mirax asked frantically, grabbing him by the shoulders as she stood over him.
Corran swallowed hard, then took a deep breath. He looked up at his wife with real fear in his eyes. "Wedge..."
Iella Antilles tried not to worry. Wedge had been late before. He would walk through the door any minute with an excuse about traffic, even though he knew that she was on to him, that he had actually been out flying again. But he had to keep up the pretense of hiding it.
Whenever he had the chance, Wedge snuck out to a private airfield just outside Stolad City where he stored his X-wing, then took it up for a flight. She knew when they got married that no matter how much she asked him, he would never give up flying. But she would never have asked that of him anyway. She was thankful, however, that he was no longer on active duty. She had spent too many years wondering if he would come back to her alive. She was relieved that those days were in the past.
Wyna began to cry in the next room. Iella peeked her head through the door to check on her first grandchild. Wedge and Iella's oldest daughter, Syal, had dropped the baby off the night before after they had offered to baby-sit. Syal and her husband needed a night to themselves, their first since Wyna had been born six months before.
Reaching into the crib, Iella picked Wyna up and tried to hush her with comforting words. She walked up and down the room with the infant, bouncing her in her arms. Running her fingers over the baby's downy brown hair, she tried to flatten it where it stuck up at all angles. Just like your grandfather, she thought with a chuckle. The baby's eyes had already begun to turn a rich brown, reminding her even more of Wedge.
As she paced the floor, Iella glanced around the room. Despite the fact that Wedge had decorated it himself, it was still a pretty area. It used to be the second guest room in their home in Stolad City on Corellia. Wedge had spent a full week transforming it into a room for Wyna to sleep in on her visits. He had painted it with warm colors, placing stuffed animals here and there. A mobile from Uncle Hobbie hung above the crib, a pale green planet circled by little dangling X-wings. Uncle Wes had sent a stuffed Ewok, with a little note hanging from the ribbon around its neck reading "Yub Yub, Wyna." Iella wondered if Wedge would explain to Wyna what that meant in the years to come.
As the baby began to drop off again in her arms, Iella glanced at the rainbow-shaped chrono hanging on the wall. Wedge was well over an hour late, now. She was beginning to really worry, but tried to stay calm, resisting the urge to call his personal comlink. Wedge would make fun of her later if he knew how concerned she was about him. His little worrying wife, she mused as she lay Wyna back down in her cot. But she had seen enough in her life that worrying came easier to her now than it used to.
Closing the door to the room quietly, she turned back towards the living area at the other end of the passage. As she walked past the entrance, Syal entered through the front door. Iella raised a finger to her mouth to urge her daughter to stay quiet.
As they both entered the living area, Iella closed the door behind them. She walked over to the couch, straightening a frame containing a static holo of Wedge's parents as she passed it. Syal smiled and enfolded her mother in a hug, then led her to the couch. "How was she?" she asked.
"Oh, just a little darling," Iella gushed.
"Did she keep you up all night?" Syal inquired with a grin.
"Some of the night, yes. Your father stayed up with her for quite a while so I could get some sleep. He just loves to spend every minute he can with her. And I think the poor little dear has a tooth coming in. But he just held her and soothed her."
Iella chuckled and Syal raised an eyebrow. "What?" her daughter asked.
"I was just thinking of your dad sitting there holding Wyna, quite the little expert. It reminded me of when you were a baby. When you started to teethe, and I was too tired to stay up any longer, he stayed up. He could command a Super Star Destroyer or turn raw recruits into heroes, but he had no clue how to stop you from crying."
The two women laughed quietly together, and Iella let out a content sigh. These were the moments she truly cherished. After all she had seen in her years with Intelligence, all the violence and evil, she had never thought that she would have a family, children of her own, and a husband to enjoy the quiet times with...
"Speaking of which, where is Dad? He out flying again?"
Syal giggled and Iella thought it was hilarious that everyone knew about it, but Wedge insisted on denying it anyway. "Probably. You know how he is."
A tone sounded from the front door, and Syal moved to get up. Iella put a hand on her arm to stop her. "I'll get it," she said, and made her way to the entrance.
The door slid open to reveal two men in the green, black, and gray uniform of the Corellian Security Force. Iella's smile quickly faded and her hand reached up towards her throat. She instinctively knew why they had come. She had performed the same duty with her partner, Corran Horn, on more occasions than she could count during her time with CorSec.
They had come to tell her that something had happened to Wedge.
"Mrs. Wedge Antilles?" the shorter one asked.
"Yes, I am Mrs. Antilles," she managed to answer. She heard Syal come up behind her, and she was glad her daughter was with her.
"I'm afraid we have some bad news, Mrs. Antilles," the taller one stated flatly.
"Wedge...is he..." she began
"There was an accident, Mrs. Antilles," the shorter one confirmed. "There was nothing that could have been done. I am afraid that he was killed instantly. It happened..."
Iella couldn't hear the rest of the details from the sound of her world shattering around her. The weight of the news was too much to bear; darkness nibbled at her sight, and she felt faint. She sensed a hand on her arm, supporting her, but she couldn't tell if it was one of the CorSec officers or her daughter. All she could think and say was...
Sitting beneath his favorite samfid tree, Derek "Hobbie" Klivian pulled his datapad a little closer to him, his eyes squinting and straining at the text. He sighed aloud, admitting that perhaps his wife was right. His eyesight was getting worse, and he may need to have the corrective surgery for it after all.
He brought the datapad closer still, trying with his other hand to shade it from the light of the early morning Ralltiirian sun, letting him read it a little easier. Yes, he would have to do something about his eyesight, but that would mean a trip to Regla, and he hated going into the city now. Hated leaving the peace and quiet of the fields and trees in the countryside.
After some serious discussion, and only a little bit of arguing, Hobbie's wife had agreed to move with him back to his home planet after their retirement from the military. Their children were fully grown and spread throughout the galaxy, so they had no reason not to. And with enough savings from his years of service, matched with both of their military pensions, they had more than enough to live comfortably without having to work. But his wife wanted to keep busy, so she had taken a part time job in the nearby village, at the plant nursery. Hobbie remained at home, but was by no means twiddling his green thumbs.
At an early age, Hobbie had discovered a love for plants and flowers, and he had returned to his horticulture roots upon his retirement. He now spent his days studying flowers, grasses, and even various varieties of weeds. He took volumes of notes and then wrote books on the subject. He already had four in circulation, his fifth almost ready to be published. If I can get my eyes to focus on this datapad!
Still, Hobbie had to smile. What had been a pastime in his youth had now turned into a full-blown obsession. This truly was paradise to him. He closed his eyes and inhaled the morning air. He could smell a hint of the kosh flowers that were in full bloom throughout the meadow. Above him, the leaves rustled and swayed to their own rhythm. Life, as far as he could tell, was perfect.
Of course, having his wife to share it all with him was what helped make it perfect. Hobbie often thought that his wife had chosen her job at the plant nursery in order to better understand his fascination with plants, to share that part of his life with him. Talking of the wife, he thought as he opened his eyes and spotted her walking across the meadow from their home. Nothing wrong with my eyesight as far as distance goes, he chortled.
He put his datapad on standby and set it on the ground beside him. Today was one of the days that she didn't work, and it was not unusual for her to join him out in the fields. But as he watched his wife cross the ground separating them, he soon realized that something was wrong. He could see it in her body language as she got closer. It was in the way she held her hands, the tilt of her head, showing that something was indeed very, very wrong. Hobbie climbed to his feet and met her halfway. His worst fears were confirmed when she rushed into his arms, her tears moistening the shoulder of his light blue tunic.
"What is it?" he asked, almost not wanting to hear the answer. As she pulled back from his shoulder, he brushed a tear away with the thumb of his right hand. "Sweetheart, what's happened?"
She looked up at him, her blue eyes shot through with red from crying. "Derek, I would give anything not to be the one who tells you this."
"Tell me what?" Hobbie asked, even more concerned. He felt his stomach twist into knots, his palms start to sweat, as all kinds of possibilities flashed through his mind.
She took in a deep shuddering breath, and then took both his hands in hers. "I just got a message from Iella. Wedge was killed last night on Corellia."
Hobbie took an involuntary step back from his wife. "No, it can't be true," he said, his mind not willing to believe what she had just told him. In the midst of the flowers he loved so much, where he usually found so much peace, she was telling him that one of his greatest friends was dead.
His wife just nodded as words failed her. She threw herself into his arms again, and they clung to each other amongst the grasses.
Wes Janson yawned from behind his desk, rubbing at his eyes with both hands. He knew he should push on, get some more of his work done, but he had been up late the night before working on this same schedule and getting nowhere fast. He picked up the stylus beside his datapad and tossed it up high above his head. When it didn't fall back down to his waiting hand, he glanced up and saw it stuck into the soft tile on the ceiling, closely surrounded by at least a dozen others. He sighed and returned to the information in front of him.
As his eyes threatened to cross as he looked down the lines of numbers, he had to admit that he wasn't nearly as young as he used to be, and that depressed him just a little. At that moment all he wanted was to go back to bed and get at least another three weeks of sleep. However, since that wasn't going to happen, he continued to tap away on his terminal, his chin leaning heavily on the palm of his left hand.
When he had retired from the military at the age of fifty-three, he had started his own shipping business, Janson Journeys, based from the industrial world of Fondor. He had a fleet of six ships shuttling people to and from Fondor and the surrounding systems. Throughout his career as a fighter pilot and instructor with the New Republic, he had managed to amass a decent amount of credits, mostly because he had never had the time to spend them, usually off on some mission or another to save the galaxy. He had used that money to buy the luxury shuttles, and gone into business for himself. He had always wanted to be his own boss, and now he was. He had the piles of hard work to prove it.
He had also found time to marry, which was something he'd despaired of ever doing. Although he had a daughter from a relationship that was long over, he'd always been the bachelor of the group. As he watched all of his friends find someone to share their lives with and settle down, he had begun to think that he would never find that one person who understood him. Until he found her.
Wes glanced at the picture of his wife he kept on his desk. He had met Soraya, quite by accident, when he was buying his first shuttle. She was the pilot who took him on the test run, putting the shuttle, and its passenger, through its paces. Even though Wes has been a pilot for more years than he cared to remember, he had found himself clinging to the chair in which he sat. From that point onwards, Wes was in love.
Luckily Soraya felt the same way about him as he did about her, and they were married less than a year later. Adding to his happy home life was the fact that his daughter, who always gave the women in his life a hard time, adored Soraya as well. Wes got up from behind his desk and crossed the room to the static holo that hung on the far wall, stretching tired muscles as he went.
The holo was of Soraya and his daughter, both of them smiling and laughing. It had been taken the year before at the local fair. Wes had to shake his head every time he looked at it. His only child was so much like him, with dark hair, blue eyes, a little smile that always seemed to creep onto her face, and a bizarre sense of humor. He remembered Wedge saying something about it being appropriate that he should get a daughter who was as much of a handful as he had been to his commander for all those years.
Moving to his left, Wes went into the small refresher station attached to his office. He washed his hands and looked at his reflection in the mirror as he dried them off. Well, my daughter used to look like me. Now with all this gray...
He toyed briefly with the idea of coloring his hair, to make some kind of effort to look younger. When he started to imagine himself with purple hair, he chuckled and returned to his desk. His datapad had gone into standby in his absence, so he hit a key to bring it back to life. Numbers began to scroll again, but his mind continued to wander down memory lane, his concentration completely gone. His eyes slowly drifted from the stream of data to the picture of Soraya...
With his new wife at his side, he had built up his business from scratch, their love of flying bringing them even closer together, through good times and bad. His daughter had been involved at the beginning, as much as any nineteen-year-old could get involved, at any rate, but mostly it was Wes and Soraya. Then suddenly his wife and companion was gone, leaving him to run the business on his own. He missed her intensely, her passing still leaving its mark on his heart. So he had immersed himself in Janson Journeys. It wasn't nearly as profitable as he would have liked, but he viewed it as a hobby that paid for itself and kept him busy. Very busy. It also meant he got to fly on a regular basis, something he always loved to do. Better than sitting in a field studying which flower bloomed when, like Hobbie did with his spare time.
I think I would go out of my mind if I didn't have something like this to keep me occupied, he thought. He reached into a drawer and pulled out another stylus.
Before he could launch the writing implement, a tone sounded from his console, indicating that a holocomm message was incoming. He assumed it was his daughter, checking in on him again to make sure that he was all right. She was recently married and had moved away to start her own family. She tended to worry about him a little more now that she lived further away. Ever since Soraya had been killed, Wes remained alone, and she told him that it wasn't healthy. But he couldn't bring himself to look for love just yet. And all of his friends lived so far away. He got to see them more often that he thought he might, but he still missed them. And Soraya.
At that point, one of the many styluses fell from the ceiling and bounced off the desk in front of him. He laughed as he shoved it aside with his left hand, hitting a switch on his holounit with his right.
A holo appeared above his desk, about thirty centimeters high. But it was not his daughter. The holo showed Hobbie's head and shoulders, and Wes could see all of the lines around his eyes and the gray in his hair. Even through the static, Wes could make out his dark tan from countless hours spent in the sun.
Wes was about to say something sarcastic to his oldest friend, but he changed his mind before he could even open his mouth. Something in Hobbie's eyes...
"What is it?" he asked, without even saying hello.
"Wes, I just got a message from Iella. It's about Wedge."
An invisible fist grabbed at Wes' gut and tried to twist it right out of him. As far as he knew, Wedge was on Corellia. He had met him and Iella for dinner not two weeks before at their home. Everything had seemed normal. Wedge was working with the New Republic as a tactical consultant, and he seemed to be enjoying his work, being able to stay involved with squadron business but not have to actually leave Corellia and his family. With the arrival of little Wyna, Wes could understand that.
"What about him?" Wes asked.
He saw Hobbie look away briefly and knew it was bad. Wes could read his friend like a datacard, having served and roomed with him for so many years. He braced himself, but nothing could prepare him for what Hobbie said next.
"Wes...Wedge is dead."
Pulling off his boots and leaving his jacket in a heap on the chair near the door, Tycho Celchu walked over to the couch in his living area and dropped heavily into it. He took a deep breath, wincing at the wave of nausea it produced.
"Dad?" a voice queried from the direction of the kitchen.
"Yeah, I'm back," Tycho answered over his shoulder.
"How did it go?" the voice called again.
"As well as can be expected."
Adalee came out of the kitchen drying her hands on a towel that was looped through her belt. "You feeling okay? Are the side effects back?"
Tycho managed a weak smile for his seventeen year-old daughter as she came around the end of the couch. She sat gently down beside him, perched on the edge of the sofa. Putting her hand on his forehead, she frowned at him. Her palm felt cool on his clammy skin. "You're feverish. You should go lie down."
"I'm fine, really." Tycho chuckled weakly, laying his head on the back of the couch, and she looked at him with narrowed eyes. He glanced over at her. "Sorry, but you sound just like your mother when you fuss over me like this."
"Well, if Mom comes home and sees you here instead of in bed, she'll fuss all right. But it will be aimed at me."
"Lee..." he began to reason.
"No arguing, Dad. The doctors said that if you were going to get better you had to rest after the treatment. You have to keep your strength up." She took his arm and helped him to his feet, leading him towards his bedroom.
Tycho would never let it show in front of his daughter, but he hated being treated this way. He hated his own weakness. All of his life, he had been a fighter, always active and in motion. To be struck down at the age of fifty-six by a disease seemed unfair to him. Not to mention infuriating. He figured that was why he insisted on going to his twice-weekly treatments on his own, to show that he could still be independent. Deep down, though, he had to admit that he was anything but independent. His condition had weakened him to the point where he could no longer drive himself to the clinic, relying on taxis. I thought Winter and I would have so many years ahead of us after I left Starfighter Command behind.
Of course, when he had been fighting for the New Republic, he never figured on reaching thirty-six, never mind fifty-six. The life expectancy of a pilot had never been good, so old age hadn't been something he thought about often in those days. But here it was, not creeping up on him but rushing in at the speed of a proton torpedo. As his daughter helped him into the bedroom, he sighed.
"What's the matter now?" she asked, fluffing his pillows for him.
"Oh, nothing," he answered as she helped him out of his shirt. "When did your mother say she would be home?"
"Not for another few hours yet," Adalee said, partially supporting Tycho as he climbed into bed. "She's still working on that big project. Hard to tell when she'll be home when she's toiling away on that one." From the other room, the tone of the holocomm sounded just as she covered him with a blanket. "I'll get it," she said, leaving the room.
Tycho closed his eyes and let his body settle into the comfortable mattress. Despite his protestations to his daughter, he was feeling quite ill. Today's session had been the worst yet, leaving him completely drained. The nausea was overwhelming and his arms and legs tingled to the point of being painful. With each treatment, the after effects became more pronounced. Sometimes he wondered if the cure was worse than the disease. Since the doctors seemed to be pleased with his progress, however, he had no choice but to continue. For once, rest seemed like a good idea. He wouldn't fight Adalee this time.
Adalee poked her head in through his door. "Dad, it's Uncle Wes. He says it's important."
"With Wes, it's always important," Tycho grumbled with his eyes still closed. But when he thought about it, Wes hardly ever called him. Not by holocomm, anyway. He would send messages or even drop by when his shuttle business brought him into the system, not call like this.
"He seems pretty serious, Dad. But I can take a message, if you want," Adalee suggested helpfully.
"No, I'll take it," Tycho said, throwing back his blanket and making it to his feet. Adalee helped him into his robe, then accompanied him to the living area, where the holocomm was located. She left him there and headed back into the kitchen. Tycho watched her go before hitting a flashing button on the console.
A holo of Wes flashed to life in front of Tycho, showing the head and shoulders of his long time friend. As sick as Tycho had felt before, he felt even worse when he saw the look on Wes' face.
"How are you feeling, Tych?" Wes asked.
"Let me have it," Tycho said, not wanting his health to deter Wes from giving him the bad news he was obviously trying to break to him. Tycho tried to keep his stomach from crawling into his throat.
He saw Wes take a deep breath before speaking. "I just spoke with Hobbie..." Wes paused, unable or unwilling to continue.
"Wes, just tell me," Tycho begged, unable to bear the tension any longer.
"Tych, there was an accident last nightWedge was killed," Wes said in a half whisper.
"How...how did it happen?" was all Tycho could manage to say, suddenly feeling twice his age, bracing himself on the table with a shaking hand.
"I don't have all the details, but from what Hobbie told me, Wedge was on his way home from his office. A transport hit him broadside, killing him instantly. He never knew what hit him." Wes' voice broke, and Tycho saw him rub at his throat. "I'm heading to Corellia this evening. So is Hobbie. Are you...able to travel?"
Tycho nodded, his mind still trying to make sense of the whole thing. "I'll make it, Wes. I can be there by tomorrow."
"Okay. I'll see you then." With that, Wes' imaged blinked out.
Tycho closed his eyes, trying to remember to breathe. He had been standing, but suddenly he wasn't anymore. He found himself sitting on the floor next to the table with the holounit built into it.
"Adalee," he said, his voice cracking. "Adalee!!"
His daughter came back into the room. When she saw her father sitting in the middle of the floor, she ran to his side. "Dad, what is it?" She helped him stand and move over to the couch. "Are you all right?"
"Wedge..." Tycho began, but he couldn't say it. He couldn't bring himself to even believe it.
"What about Uncle Wedge? Is he okay? Dad, tell me!!"
Tycho pulled his only daughter into a hug.
I left the office as I usually would any other day, except maybe a little later than normal. I had been dragged into a late meeting about several squadrons stationed out in the Rekcab System. It ran much longer than I thought, and after about three hours, it broke up. I quickly headed back to my office, gathered up a couple of files that I needed to look over that night, and headed out the door. I was in a rush because I wanted to spend as much time with Wyna as possible before my daughter, Syal, came to pick her up.
I fell in love with my granddaughter from the very first moment I saw her. She truly is my pride and joy. I remember when Syal told Iella and I that we were going to be grandparents. It came out of the blue one night over dinner. You see, Syal is the extremely practical one of my two children, which I think she gets from her mother. So she just announced rather matter of factly between bites at the dinner table that she was pregnant. Iella and I have discussed that evening several times since then, and we both agree that we have never been quite so caught off guard.
I have to admit that I really wasn't ready to be a grandparent at that time. I'm not sure that anyone really is. It is a clear sign that you are getting old, if you ask me. I have since come to accept role. No, I love the role. I don't think Iella is as thrilled about the concept, though. Although she dotes on little Wyna almost as much as I do.
On the day of Wyna's arrival, I was at the office, as I always seem to be. Iella contacted me on the comlink that I kept especially for that purpose, and I was at the hospital in about a half hour. I wasn't in the delivery room for the birth, thank the stars, but I was pacing in the waiting area, much to Iella's amusement. She said she had never seen me so nervous, even when she had been in labor.
That just proved that the whole experience was much different than it had been when my own daughters were born. For one thing, the situation was much more out of my control, which is something I have never liked. That, and I didn't know what to do with myself. I wasn't directly involved with the proceedings, my role not clearly defined, and I guess that bothered me a little more than I would like to admit. Even after the baby was born, I still felt a little left out. But as soon as I saw her wide blue eyes and round face looking up at me, I forgot everything else and concentrated on her.
I guess when it is your own child, you are of course proud and love them with all of your heart, but there is a galaxy-sized amount of worry that comes with them. When you get to the grandchild stage, it is so very different. You see in that little face all kinds of possibilities for the future. And of course I wanted to spoil her rotten. Iella knew that as well, and I got a stern warning before Wyna even made it home from the hospital that I was not to spoil the baby. But I couldn't help it. I wanted, as I did with Syal and Myri, for Wyna to have everything that I did not in my childhood. I had the means to spoil her, so I did. And so did my friends.
Although I don't see nearly as much of Wes, Hobbie, Tycho, and Corran as I would like, they all showered Wyna with a variety of gifts. Perhaps because it is the first grandchild among our group, maybe because they miss their own children, who knows. But they have all dropped by to see her--and Iella and myself, I hope--at one point or another.
So that day I was on my way home to my little girl, whizzing through the streets of Stolad City in my modified TX-40 speeder. I was making good time through lighter traffic since it was well past the busiest hours. It was getting dark, and I had just turned on my running lights, when I approached the intersection of Ladtrai and Tant Streets, about five blocks from home. That would be as far as I would get.
I never saw the transport racing down Tant as I made my way along Ladtrai. No doubt he should have stopped at the signal, but he didn't. I'll never know why. He plowed straight into the driver's side of my speeder.
I wish I could tell my family and friends that it was quick, that I really had no time to feel any pain, but I can't. In fact, there are thousands of things that I would love to be able to do, but I can't. I wish I could see Wyna grow up; I wish I could have spent a thousand more years with Iella; I wish I could have told everyone good-bye.
Requiem Aeternam ("Rest Eternal")
As was the custom on Corellia, the wake after a funeral was supposed to be a spirited, rather than solemn, occasion. However, as Wedge's friends gathered in the home that now belonged solely to Iella, they felt anything but spirited.
Iella sat with Wyna in her lap. The little girl, even at six months, seemed to sense the seriousness of the occasion. The baby had hardly made a sound throughout the entire day, remaining quiet and well-behaved. Her mother was off in the kitchen getting a bottle ready for her.
Bouncing the baby on her knee, Iella made soothing, cooing noises at her. Tycho could see in the weariness of Iella's movements and the tightness around her eyes the pain that she struggled to hide behind a brave face. It had only been two days since Wedge's death, and Tycho was amazed at how composed she managed to remain while in public. But he had no doubt that she let herself go when she was alone. During the short ceremony, she had hidden her face in her tissue on a number of occasions as she was overwhelmed by it all.
The funeral itself had been a small, private affair, only close friends and family in attendance, as Wedge was laid to rest next to the stones marked "Zena Antilles" and "Jagged Antilles." Mirax, perhaps the person who had known him the longest, had given a stirring tribute to Wedge. Tycho was glad in a way that he had not been asked to speak. He didn't think he had the strength needed to get him through that.
Of course, there was to be a much more public ceremony to be held by the New Republic in a couple of days. Tycho had no doubt that there would be people from the far reaches of the galaxy at that one, including Gavin Darklighter and some of the other ex-Rogues, Leia Organa Solo and her family, and even Ackbar, leaving his Mon Calamari home for the first time in years.
Wedge was, Tycho knew, a Hero of the Republic, and in a way belonged to the Republic. It was only fitting that they wanted to give him a big send off, even though Wedge himself would have hated it. The news of his passing had spread quickly throughout not only the military, but much of the galaxy as well. Before Tycho had left home, he had received countless holocomm transmissions from former squadron mates, friends, and even some higher-ups at Starfighter Command. Everyone wanted to know what had happened...how the great Wedge Antilles had died.
Tycho still had to shake his head. No one seemed to believe, or didn't want to believe, that Wedge could be killed in a simple speeder accident. After his dozen or so years as a fighter pilot, Wedge had seen all kinds of action...being tossed into impossible situations and always coming through it with barely a scratch to the paint of his faithful X-wing. To die because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time seemed so...
"...anti-climactic," Wes said, draining the last of the Corellian whiskey from his glass. "You know what I mean?"
"Yeah," Hobbie said from his seat beside his wife, his arm draped around her shoulders. "I always thought Rogues would go in a more spectacular fashion."
"None of us should have to go at all. Least of all Wedge," Tycho said quietly, and his daughter gave his arm a squeeze. Although he was glad that Adalee was with him, Tycho felt adrift without Winter there to support him. Winter had wanted to be come with him, but the commitments of her job meant that she had been delayed a couple of days.
"No one is disputing that, Tych," Wes said from his seat beside Iella. "What I'm saying is that none of us really expected to live this long to begin with. Dying of old age wasn't in the cards for a pilot. Blaze of glory, and all that." Wes shook his head and let out a long breath. He smiled at Wyna, and she giggled in return. "I don't know what I'm saying, so don't listen to me. Shut up, you babbling old man," he said quietly to himself.
"No, it makes sense in a twisted, Janson kind of way," Corran said from Wes's other side. "When I first joined the squadron, I always had the feeling that as Rogues, we were destined for a big bang of a finish. I remember Wedge quoting that some of us were guaranteed to die sometime during our first five missions. Some of our fellow pilots did, but we didn't. Eventually we all started to settle down or retire from the military, and I started to believe that maybe we would all live to be old men after all. That we were suddenly normal people. And normal people die in normal, if tragic, ways."
"You? Normal?" Wes said, looking sidelong at the Jedi.
"You know what he means," Mirax said, whacking Wes in the arm. "Sometimes horrible things happen to ordinary, unsuspecting people. That is what you, and Wedge, spent a good deal of your younger years fighting against. But there are some things that you can't fight, you can't stop, you can't even predict. You have to live with it." Mirax's voice cracked a little, and Corran put his arm around his wife.
Tycho wasn't surprised that they all were repeating what he had been telling himself over the last few days. But thinking it wasn't the real problem...believing it was. And so far, he didn't buy that theory. He couldn't accept that a stroke of bad luck had struck down a man like Wedge. He had accomplished too much, saved or changed too many lives, to just be written up as a page of history. Tycho found it hard to believe that the galaxy could even move on without him.
He looked up to see that Iella was studying him with a frown. "Tycho, why don't you help me in the kitchen while Syal feeds Wyna."
He recognized Iella's tone of voice. It was not a request. She wanted to see him in the kitchen alone. He turned and gave Adalee a smile, then made his way to the kitchen with Iella.
"You thought you would be first, didn't you?" Iella said as they entered the privacy of the kitchen.
"The first what?" Tycho asked.
"Don't give me that, Tycho. I know how ill you really were, no matter how much you tried to hide it from everyone. Wedge..." she paused, trying to keep her composure. "Wedge was worried sick about you for months."
Tycho's shoulders slumped, and he sat down in one of the chairs at the small table in the kitchen. Iella pulled out the chair across from him and sat as well, the tissue that had been present for most of the morning making a reappearance. "I really didn't want to worry anyone," he said.
"There was no way you could have hidden it from us, Tycho. And Wedge eventually got some details out of Winter."
Tycho looked up. "He talked to Winter?"
"Yes. He called her at work and asked her what was going on. He knew you were ill, after you visited that last time, and wanted to know what it was. He knew he wouldn't be able to get it out of you, so he went to the next logical source. He was just...so...worried..." Iella couldn't continue, raising her tissue to swipe at a tear that was about to roll down from her eye.
Tycho put his elbows on the table, his forehead leaning on the heels of his palms. Tears began to well up in his eyes, then flood down his cheeks. He had tried to be strong for so long, for his wife, his daughter, his friends. Now Wedge's death was just one tragedy too much for him to handle. The funeral had been one long struggle for him, knowing how close he had come himself to dying. Iella was right...he had expected to be the first to go. But it would have been an end to his pain, at least. Wedge still had so much to live for, so much life still ahead of him...
He felt Iella's arms slip around his shoulders, pulling him into a hug. They held onto one another, gaining comfort from their friendship, both understanding the other's grief. After a few moments, Tycho pulled away from her, swiping at his eyes. Iella lifted the tissue and wiped at her own eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"You didn't. I'm upsetting myself."
"Either way, Wedge wouldn't want to see us this way."
"That is the one thought that has kept me going the last couple of days," Iella said, dabbing at the last tears on her face. "I know that he would hate for this to upset us."
"I don't know how he could think that it wouldn't affect us, but I know what you mean." Tycho took a sudden breath and put a steadying hand on the table.
"Are you okay?" Iella asked, putting her hand on his arm.
"Yeah...just a little dizzy all of a sudden. Haven't been able to rest like I should have over the last couple of days." He took a couple of deep breaths, and the dizzy spell passed. "There, better now."
Iella still looked worried. "Tycho, how are you doing? Really? Are you going to be okay?"
Tycho smiled encouragingly at her. "Yes. I'm going to be fine."
"I'm glad. I think we should go back in to make sure that they haven't all ganged up on Wes and tied him up in a corner."
"If anyone is going to gang up on Wes, I want to be in on it," Tycho said.
As they entered the living area again, Hobbie, who was on his feet, looked over at Tycho. "Just in time, Tych. I was just about to make a toast. Unless you..."
"Don't let me stop you, Hobbs," Tycho said. "Go ahead."
Tycho picked up his glass of fruit juice just as Hobbie held out his glass of Corellian whiskey. "I would like to offer this toast to a man who was one of the greatest leaders the New Republic has ever known. He was an honest, caring, and honorable man, always worrying more about others than about himself. We went through battle after battle together, watching each other's backs, saving each others butts. No one could have asked for a better commander, or friend. To Wedge Antilles...may he rest in peace, wherever he is."
"To Wedge Antilles..." everyone echoed, drinking to a hero, and a friend.