Author: Lora Kael and ClonTrag, who helped come up with the idea and write the first part of the story.
Disclaimer: The usual. I don't own Star Wars, it all belong to GL except for some of the stuff I put in here that doesn't.
Charactors: Wedge, Luke, Face, Wes...just add in the Rogues and Wraiths in general. Oh, and Santa Claus! And elfs.
Notes: We came up with this idea in 2006 for christmas. In the end I stayed up late the night before christmas to finish it. Please review the story. :D
Note 2: We, the authors, know that the timeline and the characters don't quite fit together, but this is for fun and so we don't care. :P Just consider it AU.
"Nice shooting, Lead."
"Thanks, Nine. Now let's get the hell out of here," Wedge said. "Prepare to go to lightspeed."
Wedge heard the Rogues and the Wraiths call in. When everybody had called in and formed up in the jump formation he called the count down. As it reached zero, Wedge said:" Jump to lightspeed!"
The stars elongated and the two squadrons disappeared into hyperspace. A short time later the X-wings came out of hyperspace somewhere in the Unknown Regions.
"Where are we?" Face asked. When he didn't get a response immediately he added:" Anyone?"
"Eh, Lead. You do know where we are, right?" Wes asked.
"No. Not really," Wedge answered.
"What?" Wes exclaimed.
"We're doomed," Hobbie said in his typical pessimistic voice.
"Let's see if anyone is out here," Wedge said to calm down his pilots. "Everybody check your systems and report your status."
"Lead, Nine. Every system is go," Corran reported. "Except navigation and Whistler has no idea of where we are."
"I'm fine, too, but navigation is a mess. Can't recognize any of the constellations," Gavin reported.
"Does anybody have navigation?" Wedge asked.
"Negative, Lead," Face said.
The rest reported negative as well.
"Oh, great. Wedge how are we gonna find our way home, when we don't know where we are?" Tycho asked.
"We'll start with finding out whether or not there are any people out here. They'll have some star charts. I hope."
"Um, something just came out of hyperspace," Wraith Three reported.
"Heads up, people," Wedge said.
"It's an X-wing, it's an X-wing," Wraith Four yelled in a shocked voice.
"Unidentified X-wing, please identify yourself. This is General Antilles of the New Republic."
"Yeah, I know that. And looking at your X-wings it seems like you have seen some action," the unknown X-wing pilot said, sounding amused. "What have you gotten yourself into this time, Wedge?"
Wedge suddenly recognized the voice. "Luke! What are you doing here?"
"Well, it's that jedi thing, y'know."
"Okay, I don't want to know."
"You sure, Wedge?" Wes put in.
"Yeah, quite sure. Luke, you wouldn't happen to know where we are, do you?" Wedge sounded hopeful.
"Nope. I'm just going where the Force leads me. Told you it was a jedi thing."
Wedge sighed. This was really not going well. "So, why did the Force lead you here? And please don't say it's a jedi thing."
"Well, for one thing it looks like you could need some help and you're not the only one," Luke said getting more serious. "I've felt something, a call for help, so I took my X-wing and pointed it in the direction of it."
"Interesting strategy, but I don't think it will make it to the Commander's book," Corran commented.
"Look guys, we're near this big blue ice thing, so let's see if there's anything alive in the system. My scanners are picking up the presence of at least 7 others planetary masses," Tycho informed the others.
"Yeah, mine, too," Face agreed. "And some moons."
"Lead, I'm picking up some strange signals from deeper in the system," Myn Donos said. "Not like the kind used by the Republic. Actually...Wedge, I think it's radio waves."
"Radio waves?" Wes sounded disbelieving. "That's totally old fashion. Nobody use that kind of antiquated technology anymore."
"Cut the chatter, Rogue Five, and start flying in system. All Rogues and Wraiths monitor those signals and see what you can get out of them. Luke, you coming along?"
"Of course, Wedge. That's why I'm here." Luke had already swung his X-wing about.
"Right. Any idea of what we're gonna find?"
Luke paused a minute. "People. Can't get a read on them from here though."
Some hours later Jesmin spoke up. "Um, Lead? You're not gonna believe this, but what I'm picking up is...everything."
"Be a bit more specific, please."
"Well, it's everything from space traffic to news and all kinds of communication. And there does not seem to be any encryption on any of it."
"It's just strange. Normally at least some of it would be encrypted. I mean like state reports and intelligence gathering."
There was silence for a moment.
"And you can read all of what you're receiving?" Tycho asked.
"Let's proceed toward that green-blue planet carefully. We'll go in behind the moon," Wedge said.
They flew in the moon's shadow and went in close by the surface. As they got closer they were met by a strange sight.
"Is that a flag down there?" Myn asked disbelieving.
"If Bloody was here he would probably be asking if it was a junkyard," Wedge said indicating the things on the surface.
"There don't live people down there, do there?" Hobbie wanted to know.
"Don't think so. Probably just leftovers from early space exploration," Tycho said. "Perhaps it would be a good idea to land and check out the planet from a distance, Lead."
"Make that an order," Wedge said.
"Wait a minute, Wedge," Luke broke in. He had kept remarkably quite for most of the journey in system. "I got a feeling we shouldn't land here."
"Why not? Is it dangerous?"
"No...it's not that. It's just a barren moon. It's.."
Before Luke got a change to say more a transmission came through.
"This is an emergency call. Someone, please respond." The message repeated itself in different languages.
"Uh, boss? Gonna respond to that?" Hobbie asked.
"See no reason why not, Wedge," Luke said.
Wedge pressed the transmission button down. "This is General Wedge Antilles of the New Republic. What's the emergency?" He waited a moment then repeated his message.
"General Antilles, this is Santa Claus. I'm badly in need of someone who can assist me with delivering the presents. My sled has just broken down and I can't get it fixed to christmas eve."
"Uh, and this is an emergency?"
"It's a catastrophe! Without my sled I can't deliver the presents to the children, and if I don't they will lose faith in me and christmas and the Christmas spirit will die!" Santa Claus said.
"Don't worry, Santa Claus. Luckily for you there are two full squadrons of X-wings, plus one, here," Luke broke in. "We'll help you."
"Luke! What do you think you're doing?" Wedge cut in on their private channel. "We don't know anything about this Santa guy. He could be dangerous and we got several damaged X-wings that needs repair."
"All the more reason to go down there," Luke said. "Besides he's giving presents to children. Does that sound dangerous to you?"
"Only if he's spoiling them."
"Ho, ho, ho. No, I'll leave that to their parents. They're doing plenty of spoiling, so I don't need to," Santa Claus cut in.
Wedge was shocked. He had just broken a military code!
"What's your full name, Luke?" Santa asked.
"Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. I'm the plus one."
"Jedi? Heard of your kind. One even ended up here once. Now a man by the name George Lucas has made himself a billionaire by making six movies about them. Suspect he actually met the jedi."
Now Wedge's curiosity was spiked. "Sorry to break up the conversation, but if we're going to have a longer conversation I suggest we have it in person."
"Of course," Santa said merrily. "My elves will transmit landing coordinates right away. Just fly to the Northpole."
"Elves?" Kell wondered aloud.
"Copy that," Wedge said. "Rogues, Wraiths, Luke. Fall into formation. We're going planet side."
"Why does he want us to fly to the northpole?" Wes asked.
"It's probably easier to avoid detection by others that way," Tycho said.
"Yeah. Otherwise we might be shot out of the sky," Hobbie said.
"Hobbie, keep a little optimism, please. We've done the pole thing before for just that reason. At any rate planetary security seem a bit lax here," Wedge remarked. "Now keep com silence till we're below 5 klicks."
The Rogues, Wraiths and Luke acknowledged the order by double clicking their comlinks.
Flying down to the planet was a magnificent sight. The north pole was completely dark, except for a show of northern light playing across the sky in mainly red and green colors.
Flying through it made their eyes crazy with the colors racing past their canopies.
"Some light show they got here," Face said when they had passed the 5 klicks boarder. "Bigger than on many other planets."
"Yeah, they should sell that view to tourists. They'd earn a fortune," Wes agreed.
"Wraith One, Rogue Five, cut the chatter. Reduce speed and continue toward the northpole."
"Um, Lead. Aren't we going to shift course? There's nothing on the northpole of this planet," Hobbie said. "And those lights weren't dangerous, right?"
"Our coordinates still say we should fly to the northpole. And I don't think so." Wedge shifted channel. "Luke, you sure about this? Hobbie's right; there's nothing there."
"Quite sure, Wedge. Besides I have a feeling things aren't what they appear to be."
"Right." Wedge wasn't convinced. "So, you won't mind flying point?"
As an answer Luke sped up and fell into formation in front of the rest. Shortly after they had nearly reached their coordinates. Wedge told the squadrons to slow down and to look for anything that was out of place. As expected they found nothing.
After a while Corran broke the silence. "Not for anything, but I think we're being made fools of, Wedge. There's absolutely nothing here except ice. And it's not even the middle of the northpole we're flying above."
Wedge was about to agree with Corran and ask Luke if he would fly with them further south, when Luke made an excited report.
"I've found it!"
The rest of the pilots converged on his position to see what he had found.
"What is it, Luke? And where is it? I can't see anything out of place. Only ice."
"I'll send you a visual, Wedge. And it's the Northpole."
"What?" Wedge starred in disbelief at the image on his screen of a golden and white pole in the snowy landscape. "That is the Northpole?"
"They sure take things literally here. What's the next gonna be?" Kell wanted to know.
The answer to that came when a hole opened in the ice and they were suddenly looking into a large cave filled with buildings.
"I think you just got your answer," Tyria said with some awe. "Are we going in, Lead?"
"Luke, you have point. The rest of you follow me one at the time. This isn't a very large opening."
The X-wings followed the beacon in to a plaza where they could land. As they cut their repulsorcoils in they saw a horde of little people coming out from the surrounding buildings, ready to greet the pilots.
As soon as Wedge got the systems locked down he popped the canopy and took of his helmet. This was really a weird place. He climbed onto the ladder the elves had brought and took a look at the ceiling far above. The hole they had come through had closed again. There was no way out now, unless they were permitted to leave or blasted their way out. He hoped it would be the first. Then he threw his gloves down to his helmet, pressed the button to close the canopy and climbed the rest of the way down. Time to find out what kind of guy this Santa was.
Luke was waiting for him when he got to the ground.
"Amazing place, isn't it?" Luke asked.
"More like hideout was the word I had in mind. It's completely hidden except for that gold and white pole up there."
"Yeah, I thought of that, too." Face had joined them.
"We have just trapped ourselves in something that could be a smuggler base."
"No offence to the two of you, but does the elves seem like smugglers to you?"
Wedge had to admit they didn't and so did Face.
"Well, then let's introduce ourselves and find this Santa Claus."
Luke walked forward to talk to an elf. From the building right in front of them a new and slightly different dressed elf came out.
"Santa Claus?" Wedge asked when they were a couple of meters apart.
"This way," the elf replied.
The elf led them through a number of fancy decorated hallways until they came to a just as fancy decorated office. Three soft stools had already been placed there for them. Face placed himself in the one to the right and Wedge took the middle one while looking curiously around. It didn't look like a smuggler base...
Luke was walking around the room looking at the different things there and seemed very amused. Face examined the table thoroughly clearly looking for signs of what kind of person Santa was. That was one of the things Wedge liked the most about him; Lorrdians were experts at reading people.
Suddenly one of the doors leading into the office opened and Wedge adopted a neutral look. Luke on the other hand smiled widely.
"Welcome to Christmas City!" Santa Claus boomed friendly. "And thank you for coming. Your timing couldn't have been better."
"We are glad to be here," Luke said shaking hands.
Wedge and Face both got up, too, and shook hands with Santa as he sat behind his desk. It was filled with lists.
"I am General Wedge Antilles. This is Captain Garik Loran, better known as Face. And this is Jedi Master Luke Skywalker." Wedge watched him closely for some sign of recognition or nervousness. He showed none. At least none that Wedge could see.
"Wonderful to meet you, General. I understand your suspicion since you don't know anything about me yet. But I'll do my best to change that," he said merrily.
At that moment an elf came in with a tray with steaming drinks on it. Luke sniffed the air as the elf came to his side, and a slightly surprised expression came to his face. Wedge got a mug of his own.
"It's hot chocolate!" Wedge said with surprise. He knew there were quite a few cacao bean producing planets in the galaxy, but he didn't knew they exported as far out as this. This planet wasn't even on their star charts. Well, it tasted good, so Wedge didn't think too much about it. They had more important things to discuss than cacao beans.
Unfortunately for Wedge both Luke and Face seemed to be of a different opinion.
"This is a very good hot chocolate," Luke complimented.
"Thank you. I'll send the compliment to the chef elves."
"Where's it from? The beans," Face asked.
"Oh, these are from Columbia. But otherwise we get beans from all over the world."
Wedge was starting to get annoyed. This was like a Provincial Council meeting, where you never got strait to the point. And his irritation was also the reason he didn't quite catch the implications of what Santa had just said.
"Wait a minute," Face put in. "Did you just say the world? As in this world? And just what is Columbia?"
"Ho, ho, ho. One question at the time, Face. Yes, this world. And Columbia is either a land or a space shuttle depending on who you ask," he said with a wink.
Luke chuckled. "Most would probably say a land then."
"Okay," Wedge broke in. "It's an interesting discussion, but let's try to keep to the subject, shall we?" When he got nods from the others he continued. "Good. So, what exactly is it you want us to help you with?"
"A direct question, General." He looked at him with intense eyes. "I want you to help with delivering the presents to the children. As I told you my sled broke down and it won't be ready for christmas eve. My elves and I simply can't repair it in two days. Less, actually if you remember the countries where I need to be out in the afternoon."
"Why do you need to be out in the afternoon?" Luke asked.
"Church time," Santa answered. "For the countries where it's tradition to open the presents after dinner."
"Okay, so it's presents delivery tomorrow afternoon and night, if I have understood you correctly," Wedge said.
"Yes. So you'll do it then?"
"Please, tell me more first. Then I'll discuss it with my pilots and we'll give you our answer."
"Of course," Santa said. Then he launched into a long story about the importance of the presents and christmas itself.
"So you'll see why this is so important. If the presents aren't delivered kids will loose faith in me and the Christmas spirit itself might die. And if it does the time of the hearts will become the time of loneliness."
"Can't have that happening," Luke said, He had listened carefully for the last half hour. "I'll help you."
That statement caught Wedge by surprise. He had thought Luke would discuss it with him after the meeting, not going out on his own like this. But he didn't say anything.
"Thank you, Luke. I'll hope you'll get to the same conclusion, General."
"I'll find out quickly. And if I could ask a favor in return..."
"Your X-wings are already being repaired, General," Santa said warmly. "My christmas present to you."
"And here I thought only children got gifts," Wedge mumbled while Wes fleetingly crossed his mind. "Thank you, Mr. Claus. I'll have an answer back in no time."
"Just call me Santa," he replied merrily as Wedge, Face and Luke left the office.
"So," Face said when they were well outside the office, "why did you volunteer before we've talked it through?"
"I told you I was here for a reason. That I heard a call for help. Being in there I realized this is what I need to do. If you decide otherwise I'll understand. You have your military responsibilities."
"Let's find the others and tell them what the situation is and outline Santa's plan," Wedge said. "Then we'll make our choice."
Luke smiled slightly and a bit too knowingly for Wedge's taste. He ignored it and turned his attention to the colorful surroundings. And stopped dead in his tracks.
"What, Wedge?" Face asked.
Luke bended over with laughter.
Wes was driving something that looked like a maglev, except it wasn't as streamlined and it had wheels. He was sitting on the foremost wagon and wearing a weird black hat. And behind him, of course, was Hobbie. To Wedge's surprise even Myn had joined them and he had traded his helmet for a long red hat thing with a white ball in the end. A truly odd looking sight.
"Wes, what in the name of the Force are you doing?"
"It looks like fun," Luke said as he got his laughter under control.
"If you don't mind, General, I think I'll join them. Got room for another on that thing?"
"Sure. Jump onboard, Face. Coming, Wedge?" Wes asked.
Wedge sighed. "Why not? Seems like you know what you're doing."
Wes slowed down the train and Luke and Face jumped on right away. Wedge sighed again. "This is gonna be a long day," he mumbled before he jumped on the last unoccupied wagon.
Wes drove the way through some low tunnels that went from one room to another. All the rooms were full of different machines, worktables and elves. It was clear they were workshops.
"What's this? It looks like…toys!" Wedge exclaimed.
"And the rest of the pilots, too" Face said nodding.
Wedge almost fell of the train. "And I thought I had seen all my pilots can come up with…"
"Not yet. This place is great!" Jesmin had her fingers on something that looked like some kind of comlink and was clearly trying to figure it out together with Tyria. Suddenly it made a string of tones and Jesmin accidentally dropped the thing.
"What was that?" Wes's interest had been roused.
"I don't know…Comlinks don't do that."
Tyria picked it up and looked at the small screen on the front. "Hey, it's changed! Now there a little icon in the top." She opened the 'comlink', (Wedge still had no idea what it was), and looked at another screen. "It says I just got a message…"
"Hey, Tuslehair! What's this thing?" Wes yelled after an elf in another part of the room. Wes held it high so the elf could see it.
"It's a cell phone." Tuslehair answered. "Press the button with the dot. The one to the left and you'll see your message."
Tyria did as the elf had said and read the message. "It's from Santa. Asking if we're enjoying ourselves."
The pilots gave an affirmative sound.
"Answer him," Kell said. He had his hands on some piece of electronic equipment and had so far totally disassembled it.
Tyria frowned as she tried to figure the cell phone out. When she had found the 'answer message' place, she used some time figuring the little buttons and the letters out. "I need another crash course in this…" she mumbled.
Wedge cleared his throat to get the pilots attention. Somehow he didn't like the way they were reacting to this place. It gave him the creeps. "Ahem, gentlemen and women. We do have something to discuss before you lose yourselves in other things. That is Santa's asking for our help." Wedge tried to keep himself and his voice neutral. He noticed Luke had placed himself quietly to the side where he didn't attract notice to himself. Wedge looked around. "Santa Claus has asked if we will help with delivering the Christmas present to the children tomorrow, since his ordinary means of transportation is down. It will mean a lot a flying around and avoid getting seen by the population of this planet. What do you think?" He looked around again.
"I say yes. I see no reason why we shouldn't do it. Of course we got damaged X-wings that will need repairing…" Tyria said.
"Done. They are already being repaired." Wedge said.
"That was fast," Kell said with a little suspicion.
"They started just after we landed," Corran said. "Saw them bringing in the tools when we left the landing place. And I say yes, too."
The rest agreed with little discussion. Corran looked at Luke. "You got nothing to say?"
"No. This was your decision and besides I have already made mine. I'm helping."
"Okay, then I'll send word to Santa," Wedge said. He was a bit surprised at their lack of questioning, but he guessed they had already discussed it. He called to the elf and told him their decision. Then he told his pilots to relax themselves and tried to ignore al the toys around him. Which was a rather hard thing to do.
Santa of course was joyous when he got Wedge's message, and Wedge was extremely embarrassed when he embraced him as a way of saying thanks. Otherwise the rest of the day went by rather quietly, with fun, good food and hot chocolate. And of course the occasional checking on the progress on the X-wings. In the evening they got big soft beds and a train that ran through them with goodies.
The next morning Wedge woke up refreshed. A good night's sleep had made him see things a little different and the coffee helped, too. First thing he checked on his X-wing as well as on the rest of the squadrons'. The elves had done well. Now they only needed to find out where in the galaxy they were and get home. And help Santa with the delivery problem, of course.
When Wedge got to the dinning hall he found Tycho and Santa in deep conversation. Santa was explaining something to Tycho.
"…and when you get to Aalborg, you land at the place the local elves give you, so they can hide your X-wing and then you take the train to Fredericia, where you are to deliver some present for needy children."
"Got it," Tycho said. "I'll be on my way soon then."
He said goodbye to Santa and Wedge came over to him.
"Got your mission?"
"Yeah. I'll be leaving soon, since I have to land some hundred klicks away from where the presents are to be delivered. So they can disguise me coming there. And their trains aren't as fast as a maglev," Tycho said with a slight smile. "I'll be back by evening."
"See you then. Take care."
Tycho threw Wedge a loose salute and walked away.
The rest where ready for leaving by the end of the afternoon for their various countries and took of at different times. Finally only a hand full was left. Those included Wedge himself, Luke, Corran, Tyria and Ooryl, Corran's wingman. Tycho should meet up with them later.
"So. Where are we going?" Wedge was curious and a bit excited. The anticipation was affecting him.
"To the United States of America. They are always the ones I need to use most time on. Also why I made sure you were five to do it."
"Why do they take so much of your time?" Luke asked.
"Traditions," Santa said as a way of explanation. "And in other countries they don't celebrate Christmas, so there is little work. Or like Denmark, where your friend Tycho is, they take care of most of it themselves and open the present after dinner, so I only need to keep an eye out for the ones, who don't have money for the celebration."
Luke nodded with understanding. It was truly a puzzle.
"Okay," Wedge said. "If that was all we better get going. Man your X-wings."
Later Wedge was marveling at the greatness of it all. Giving the presents made him feel good like a warm flame in his heart. Sometimes he forgot what it really felt like just being a person. That was one of the disadvances of having as much responsibility as he did. Of course it wasn't just delivering the present though that was more fun than he had thought it would be, but also the lights. There were lights everywhere! And in all the colors of the rainbow, though mostly yellow.
Delivering was quite easy once he had gotten used to the system the elves had devised. They had packed the present carefully and then all Wedge needed to do was hovering over the houses, open his cargo department and drop the presents down the chimney. Peace of cake. He could probably find a way to use it in a tactic if necessary. But right now he was just concentrating on flying fast; avoid getting seen, and enjoying the target practice of hitting centre of the chimneys.
Corran let out a whoop of triumph. That was the eleventh he'd hit using the torpedo launcher. These were great for other things than blowing up Death Stars. Jedi senses were very practical at moments like these and Corran was ready to shoot another present down a chimney. This was living. He flew on to the next house on his list…
Luke didn't worry about getting seen. He just flew fast and would be little more than a blur from the ground. Using the torpedo launchers and the Force he quickly got rid of most of his present. But Santa had said he should just come back when that happened. So Luke had already been back once; he barely even slowed down to deliver the presents so he could do it with far greater speed than any of the Rogues or the Wraiths.
Zooming in on his next target he loaded the torpedo launchers and let the Force control his hands. At exactly the right moment he released both of them and they flew down the chimney. It was just like being back at the Death Star except no one was trying to shoot him down, he was better at using the Force and nothing got blown up. Especially the last part was a big difference.
Sometimes Luke would slow down and open his cargo department and then use the Force to guide the present to the right places. Mostly when delivering many present in the same area. Seeing the lights in the dark night brought a smile to his face. These people had found a way to keep the dark at bay at their planets darkest time (at least when you were on the northern side of the planet) and celebrate the light. This was a memory Luke would always carry with him. And if he someday got the change he might return here. For the time of the hearts…
Tycho was standing on the train station in Fredericia and waiting for the train to Aalborg. He really wanted to get back up in his X-wing and join the others. He was thinking about how happy the kids had been when he had come all dressed up like Santa and with a large sack filled with presents. It had clearly been what they had all been waiting for. Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter made him think of Winter and April…how he missed them now.
Suddenly he noticed someone was staring at him. He didn't turn his head, but he could see it was a young tall woman with glasses, brown slightly curly hair and luggage. She didn't look dangerous, but he still didn't like the way she was looking at him. It was as if she somehow recognized him. Luckily she didn't continue to stare. Instead she started typing on her cell phone. That didn't help his mood. What if he had been recognized? Could he have been?
Suddenly the train came and Tycho got on a different wagon than the young woman so he threw her out of his mind and started thinking about the next mission; Canada. Besides nobody would recognize him in these clothes…
When the pilots were finally done by dawn they were all tired, but also happy. They all felt they had done the most important job of the year and nobody wanted to sleep. Instead they talked about the places they had been, what they had seen and drank plenty of hot chocolate. Jesmin had even found a color plate and was picturing the Northpole in a snowy landscape. Quite easy since the paper was already white. The only person, who was still missing was Luke and a few was starting to wonder about him.
"What do you think is keeping him?" Corran asked.
"Don't know," Tycho answered. "But he'll show up soon."
"Of course he will," Wedge agreed. "From what I hear from the elves he did at least triple work compared to the rest of us."
"Show off," Tycho mumbled with a little humor.
Luke did come, but not in his usual manner. Like Wes, he was now wearing an elf hat and had his arms full of presents. Several of the pilots laughed when they saw him.
"What are you now up to,Luke?" Wedge asked.
"Actually it's both Santa and me." Luke smiled widely. "And since I had some extra time…"
Tycho and Corran traded looks. "Show off," they mumbled together.
"Heard you. Since I had some extra time we decided you should have something for what you've done. And no, Tyria, you can't keep the cell phone; technology has to stay here."
She looked a bit disappointed by that news.
"But we got some other stuff for you and your families, so dig in," Luke said as he threw the parcels to the pilots.
"Hey, this is great," Tyria said. "Don't mind losing the phone so much after all." Kell hugged her.
Tycho looked at the ring he had gotten. "I'm guessing this is for Winter…she'll love it."
Wedge opened the parcels he had in front of him. It was definitely for a child. He smiled. His little girl… He looked up at Santa, who was suddenly standing right in front of him.
"Hello and good morning. Thank you for this. My girl is gonna like it."
"I hope so, Wedge," Santa said merrily. "I got a little something for you, too."
Wedge looked curiously as Santa took something from his pocket.
"What is it?"
"A peace of the Earth's best; the Christmas spirit. It may not look like much, but as long as you remember the feeling you found this night it will remind you of what you have done to make other people's lives better. And it will make you feel better." He smiled widely. "I'm proud of you, Wedge. You succeeded in finding the Christmas spirit and now one more soul will be able to warm itself in dark times with the help of it."
Wedge was a bit surprised of this, but also glad. "Thank you, Santa. It is a fine present."
"Any time, Wedge. And one other thing…"
"Your friend, Luke Skywalker. Make sure he never stands alone in the dark; he is a good person, but I see much responsibility on his shoulders, like I did on yours, and it is a heavy burden to bear. Do not let anything get between the friendship you share."
Wedge nodded. "Don't worry; I won't."
Later in the afternoon the X-wings were all ready for take off and the elves had come out to say goodbye. The pilots dressed up and on Wedge's order threw a salute to Santa Claus and the elves. Then they climbed the ladders, started the engines and closed their cockpits. One by one they took of and flew toward the opening they had first entered through. Wedge was the last one out circling once and then leaving, too.
High in the air Wedge thought about all that had happened in just two days. What a change. He could feel it in his pilots; didn't need the Force for that.
Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a transmission from Wes.
"Merry X-mas and a happy New-wing!"
"WES! It's not called x-mas, but Christmas, and its new year, not new-wing! And don't ever let General Cracken hear that; he'll just be asking what a New-wing is." Wedge paused a moment. "Now let's get home, people. Get ready to make the jump to hyperspace. On my mark; three, two, one, mark!"
The 25 X-wings made the jump to hyperspace and left no evidence of having ever been to the Earth, except for a lot of happy children filled with the Christmas spirit.