Wedge struggled as the troopers dragged him up, lashing out, succeeding only in being doubled over, his arms twisted up his back. Then he was hauled upright, yelping as his shoulders protested. The black figure of Darth Vader loomed over him, the evil emanating from the awesome form moving as if it had a life of its own, caressing him. He stared; unable to drag his eyes away from the ebony mask, his breath coming in fast, panicked gulps.
Vader considered him.
It had been so close. Luke had been almost totally within his power, the Dark Side beginning its seduction. Then the influence had been broken by a simple act from this boy.
Vader began to turn away then swung back, smashing the rebel pilot across the face. Wedge's head snapped back, blood beginning to trickle down his face from the split cheek.
"Take him away!"
A grey uniformed officer stepped through the door as the troopers carried Wedge out. Watching the crumpled figure behind Vader, the officer didn't dare to move until the Dark Lord ordered her to.
Vader did not acknowledge the medic's presence. Turning back to Luke's unconscious form, he stood, watching him for a moment.So close, my son. Almost within its power. So close…
The medic hurried to Vader's side as the Dark Lord began to speak. "Do what you must to keep him alive, but no more!"
"Sir," she answered, making no other comment.
"If he dies…" Vader trailed off, the threat unvoiced.
The medic managed to keep her tension from showing, replying to the intimidation calmly and evenly. "I understand, Lord Vader."
Vader said nothing more, sweeping away, leaving his son to the tender mercies of the Imperial medic.
The woman stood for a moment, watching the still form, the hate swelling inside her. So this was the great Skywalker, the brilliant fighter pilot, instrument of the Death Star's destruction.
The garbage who had killed her brother.
She shook her head, slowly. "Ironic, isn't it, Skywalker," she murmured softly, "that Vader should entrust you to me."
She turned, smiling coldly, snapping orders at the troopers outside as she walked through the door, making her way to the tiny medical centre, checking the instruments once more as she waited for Skywalker to arrive.
Wedge pushed himself to his feet, swaying groggily as he made for the cot against the far wall, his face throbbing, his head pounding.
He collapsed onto the cot with a groan, lying still for a moment before lifting his hand to his face. His cheek was wet with blood, the touch sending a thump of pain through his head.
He dropped his hand, lying still.
Shit Luke… What have we walked into?
The holographic image of Palpatine flickered into being. Darth Vader dropped to his knees in respect.
The Emperor moved his hand, "Stand, my friend, and tell me what progress you make."
Vader lifted his head, rising to his feet. "The boy is close to turning, my Master. The Dark Side is drawing closer to him. We will not have to wait much longer."
The cowled head moved in acknowledgement, "Good! Good! With Skywalker at our side the Rebellion will soon be crushed… You have done well, my friend. Inform me as soon as Skywalker has complied!"
Palpatine's hologram began to flicker and Vader bowed his head in homage as the image disappeared. He slipped to the floor, kneeling in preparation for meditation.
He would indeed inform Palpatine of Luke's turn to the Dark Side. Things, however, would not go according to the Emperor's schemes. Vader had other plans for his son.
Luke moaned softly, his eyes flickering open, feeling the pressure of Vader's influence all round him. The presence of the Dark Side still lurked within him, flowing through and around him.
He closed his eyes against the light of the room, pain washing through his body. It was only a matter of time. He would not be able to fight Vader or resist the influence of the Dark Side for much longer.
He had very little strength left, the continual ache from his injuries slowly draining it away. Each breath sent pain spasming through his chest. It was an effort to breathe.
There was movement to his left, pressure against his arm. He half-opened his eyes, watching the grey-uniformed officer check the read-out panel on the medi-unit attached to his arm. Cold fluid dripped into his vein.
An idea began to form in his mind.
If he remained here he was lost, the Dark Side would take him. And Wedge… Wedge would be thrown into the Spice mines if Vader didn't destroy him first.
Slowly, Luke began to concentrate, gathering the Force.
There was a risk that Vader would feel the change in the Force and would realise what was happening, but this was their only chance of getting out, of escaping. He had to take the risk.
He reached out to the officer, feeling the anger and hatred aimed at him, seeing in her feelings that a brother had died on the Death Star. Luke pushed the thoughts aside. The emotion would make it easier to reach her.
Tentatively, he touched the officer's mind.
Antilles is dying. You must bring him here!
The effort drained him, leaving him unable to say any more or to try again. Darkness began to edge in. There was no more time.
He heard the officer walking towards the door, hoping that the suggestion had worked. If it hadn't… then everything was lost.
Slowly, the darkness began to recede. Luke felt the tiredness ebb away, his strength returning and he realised that the drug seeping into his system was not to kill the pin, but a stimulant to keep him aware and continually conscious through the pain.
Vader was taking no chances. If they didn't get out now…
Luke moaned softly, grand escape plan crashing down around him as he realised that Wedge was probably already dead. He had been instrumental in breaking the Dark Side's hold. Vader would have taken his revenge.
Han was dead. Wedge was dead. How many more would die because of him?
Wedge heard the door open, but remained motionless, hoping that the pretence of unconsciousness would fool them.
"Bring him!" a voice ordered after a moment's silence.
Wedge didn't struggle as hands dragged him off the cot. He wanted to know where he was being taken and wasn't going to risk being clubbed into unconsciousness.
The two troopers dragged him through the corridors behind an officer, finally hauling him into a room, dropping him on the floor.
He half-opened his good eye, seeing the door shut before someone turned him onto his back. A hand caught his chin, turning his head. He stifled a groan as the slash on his cheek was inspected roughly.
The doctor gave a cold laugh, "Playing games, are we?"
Wedge abandoned the pretence, squinting up at the woman. She gave him an icy smile, before standing up and turning away.
Wedge took a chance. He kicked his legs out, tripping her, lunging at her across the floor. She scrambled out from under him, pushing herself to her feet and reaching for the blaster at her hip. Wedge dived at her legs, tackling her back to the floor. She punched him in the face, sending a spasm of pain through him, but he held onto her, catching hold of her wrist. Twisting it, he smashed it against the floor, trying to make her drop the blaster.
She punched him in the face again, pushing him off of her, wriggling out, scrambling backwards and trying to buy time to shoot him.
Wedge hauled himself to his knees, diving at her shoulders to push her backwards against the wall. She started to aim, but Wedge slammed into her, sending her falling backwards. Her head smacked against the wall.
Wedge rolled away, breathing heavily, ready to lunge for the blaster… but she slid sideways to the floor, unconscious.
Wedge sat for a moment then pushed himself to his feet, looking around the room for the exit, stopping short as he saw Luke.
He scrambled to his feet, crossing to the table in two, quick strides. "Luke?"
The blue eyes opened.
Wedge sighed in relief, reaching out to release the straps holding Luke to the table. Then he pulled the medi-unit off his arm, "Can't lie here all day! We gotta go!"
Luke stared at the swollen face, the eye already starting to bruise, the fresh blood seeping down Wedge's cheek. He winced as Wedge helped him to his feet, biting his lip to stop crying out. He pushed his friend away gently as he got his balance. "I'm okay…"
Wedge watched him warily, but said nothing, turning towards the door. He stopped at the fallen officer, scooping up the discarded blaster.
Luke was leaning against the wall by the door.
"The two goons who brought me here will probably be outside," Wedge told him.
Luke nodded in acknowledgement, already seeing Wedge's plan, "I'll be decoy…"
Wedge tried to grin, wincing as his swollen face rebelled. Moving to the door opposite Luke, he keyed it open, pressing himself against the wall. For a moment there was silence, then the shuffle of booted feet.
Luke moved into the doorway, making sure the guards saw him before staggering back.
A stormtrooper raced through the door, tumbling to the ground as Wedge fired. Wedge twisted in the doorway, firing at the other trooper before he had time to react. Then he turned, throwing the blaster at Luke before crawling out to drag the trooper into the room.
Luke caught the weapon… just. He stepped over the inert soldier as Wedge dumped the other trooper on the floor, handing the blaster back to Wedge. It was an effort to keep himself upright without the added problem of using a weapon.
Wedge glanced out of the door, checking the corridor. "It's clear," he called back over his shoulder then stepped out into the passageway.
Luke followed him, steadying himself momentarily against the doorway. Wedge looked from one end of the corridor to the other, suddenly realising that he had no idea where they were or how to get to the landing bay.
"Any idea how we get out of here?" he asked, turning back to Luke.
Luke leant against the wall, suddenly terribly tired. If he used the Force, Vader would be aware of it, but it was the only way they had to guide them out of this labyrinth. Damned if he did, damned if he didn't.
There again, Vader obviously hadn't been conscious of his manipulation of the woman… Or was he letting them make the attempt at escape…?
It was not a decision he could make on his own. Wedge's life was also at stake. He looked at his friend, "If I use the Force, Vader will know…"
He watched the expression on Wedge's battered face, change. "So either we blunder around here for aeons, or we find the way and have Vader on our tail?"
Wedge's answer was almost immediate. He shrugged, his grin turning to a grimace. "We can outrun Vader…"
Luke said nothing more, gathering his strength, reaching out through the Force.
Wedge stood, nervously glancing down the corridor, straining to her the sound of booted feet or the hiss of mechanical breathing… The chances of them getting out of here were dreadfully slim and Wedge's only hope was that neither of them would be taken alive.
Luke pushed himself off the wall, "This way…"
Wedge took his arm, supporting his friend as they made their way down the corridor. They turned a corner, down another corridor, into yet another. Luke guided Wedge, Wedge trusting his friend implicitly as they made their way through the base.
Then behind them, finally, they heard the sound of running feet.
Luke pulled on the last of his strength, breaking into a hobbling run. Wedge followed him, glancing behind, blaster held ready to fire. They rounded a corner and there, ahead of them, the doors to the landing bay lay open, the X-wings visible in the background.
Wedge quickened his pace, running past Luke to get the spare suits from the fighters, leaving Luke to follow at his own pace, knowing that he would need help to suit up.
Luke ignored the pain that stabbed through him, forcing himself on, pushing against the encroaching shadows. He could not let Vader stop him…
Skywalker skittered to a halt, the voice in his mind insistent, demanding, the embrace of the Dark Side reasserting itself. He turned, fighting Vader's hold, aware that they were perilously close to being taken again.
"Luke?" Wedge had stopped and was starting back for him.
Two stormtroopers turned into the corridor at a run, dropping onto one knee in battle position as they saw the two Rebels. Luke stood transfixed, his breathing shallow and rapid, fear and hopelessness welling inside him. Vader was almost here. In his mind, Luke could see him striding through the corridors towards them.
"Luke! Come on!" Wedge dragged at him frantically. Then he changed tactic, realising that things were going dreadfully wrong. He fired at the stormtroopers, down one, aiming at the other.
Luke saw the stormtrooper fit the blaster against his shoulder, aiming, starting to squeeze the trigger. He saw the dark shadow of the man who claimed to be his father sweep into view. He saw the energy bolt from the trooper's blaster slice out towards Wedge.
Realisation snapped into focus.
He could not allow himself to be taken. The lure of the Dark side had grown too strong, pulled too powerfully for him to resist it successfully.
And Wedge… Vader was interested in his son alone. If he was dead then there was a chance, however slim, for Wedge to get out…
The sudden calm of his decision broke the paralysis, pushing him sideways into the heat of the laser bolt. The blow lifted him, throwing him against Wedge, sending both of them, tumbling to the ground.
The brief impression of his son's decision slammed at Vader, a wall of emotion clouding his response. The blow to the stormtrooper was already too late, but it fell, smashing the soldier against the wall.
Vader stepped forward watching in slow motion as Luke moved into the line of fire, the blast pushing him into the other Rebel, pitching them both to the floor. He started towards them, caught between a desire to own his son and to hold him.
He stopped suddenly.
Luke was being drawn to the Dark Side, pulled strongly enough that he had tried to escape. The transformation was almost complete, he was very close to having Luke join him and stay by his side.
Once again, however, his son had chosen death rather than face the full force of the Dark Side. If he went to Luke now, if he kept Luke with him, the boy would die, even if the other Rebel were allowed to go. If he pushed now, Luke would break. The only strategy left to him was to allow his son to go, giving him the chance to survive.
He stood for a moment, watching as the other Rebel moved towards Luke. Then he turned, moving away, letting them go.
Wedge scrambled across to Luke: fear, shock and disbelief threatening hysteria. "Shit shit shit shit shit…"
Luke was conscious, agony clouding his eyes. Wedge glanced along the few feet of corridor separating them from the ships in the landing bay. Freedom lay tantalisingly close.
He looked back, decision made.
Luke tried desperately to lift his arm, to push Wedge away, but was unable to summon the strength. Wedge saw the movement, the denial form on Luke's lips and ignored them. They had come too far; Luke had endured too much for him to be left to Vader now.
Blocking out what lay behind, too terrified to consider the next blaster shot, or Vader, he grabbed Luke's arms, heaving him up, half carrying, half dragging him along the corridor, concentrating solely on the landing bay and the ships.
The X-wings were still sitting where they'd been left, an eternity before. Wedge ignored them. There was no time to suit up. Instead, he headed for the small shuttlecraft sitting in front of the X-wings.
The gantry was down and he increased his pace, desperate to get inside the ship before the troopers arrived, his body vibrating as the blood pumped: fear and adrenalin pushed him on.
Where were they? Why weren't they here?
With every step he expected to hear the thudding of booted feet, a shout to stop… but there was nothing, only the white noise of his blood loud in his ears and the sound of his breathing.
He reached the gantry, pulling Luke into the shuttle and slapping the door switch before gently lowering his friend to the floor. There was no time to check on him now…
He moved to the flight deck, dropping into the pilot's seat, searching the side pocket for the checklist. He had flown a simulator for one of these ages before at the academy, but only once. Without the checklist…
He took a deep breath, calming himself. If he panicked now they would both be dead.Think, damn you! Think!
Slowly, he began the start-up, dredging the routine from the depths of his memory, moving more quickly as the procedure returned. The engine kicked in, the shuttle shuddering slightly. He finished all he could remember of the checks then slowly eased the shuttle off the ground. The soft vibration dyed as it lifted from the floor of the landing bay, rising into the air.
The Lord Darth Vader watched the view screen as the shuttle lifted out of the atmosphere, sailing through the asteroid belt before disappearing into hyperspace, taking with it the future of the galaxy.
He turned away, his mood dark. Palpatine would not take kindly to this turn of events.
The commander of the stormtroopers stood near the door. Vader advanced on him, "How did they escape?"
"Sir, I…" he began.
Vader didn't wait for the futile attempt at an explanation, picking him up, smashing him against the far wall. The Commander dropped to the floor, his body twitching. The other officers stood silent and unmoving, averting their eyes from the fallen trooper.
Vader swept out of the room, already forming in his mind the speech that he would be required to give the Emperor.
Wedge punched in the coordinates to send the shuttle in the direction of the Rebel sector, pushing the shuttle into hyperspace before rushing aft to search for a medi-pak.
Luke lay on his side where Wedge had left him, his breathing coming in rapid, shallow gasps, rasping in his throat. His face was ghostly white against the black tunic, the blood slowly beginning to pool under him.
Wedge found the pak, tearing it open as he dropped to his knees beside Luke. He slowly eased Luke away from the bulkhead, turning him onto his back before cutting away his tunic. He ignored the blood, forcing himself not to see the extent of the wound, concentrating solely on spraying the pressure bandage over Luke's chest.
Luke was already slipping into shock, his body beginning to shake. Wedge pulled a rehydration pad from the pak and applied it to Luke's upper arm. He was no medic, but he'd had to deal with blaster wounds before.
He climbed to his feet, reaching for the thermostat, turning it up fully. Luke had to be kept warm. Then he checked their progress in the flight deck before returning to Luke's side, pushing damp, blond hair from Skywalker's forehead.
"We're out of there, Luke," he told his friend, persuading himself that Luke could hear him. "Out of there and on our way home…"
"Hells," he continued. Trying to sound light hearted, not wanting to let Luke hear how desperately afraid he was, "The Deck Officer's gonna kill us for leaving the X-wings. There's few enough as it is… And I really don't think that the Princess Leia's gonna be too happy at you getting yourself blasted either…"
Another thought crossed his mind, "And what in the name of the goddess am I going to tell the surgeon droid, having to patch you up three times in as many months…"
Undoing the top buttons of his tunic, pushing his sleeves up as the temperature in the shuttle became uncomfortable hot, he manoeuvred to sit with his back against the bulkhead. He cradled Luke's head, gently lifting his friend's shoulders, shifting himself along to rest Skywalker's head on his lap, hearing the laboured breathing ease slightly.
"Don't you dare die on me," he whispered, too softly for Luke to hear. "Don't even consider it!"
He took a breath, starting to talk, rambling on about anything and everything that came to mind: jokes, stories, events both of them had shared; talking continually as the time dragged on, to let Luke know he was not alone, to calm his own fears, stopping only once to change the re-hydration pack on Luke's arm. He watched is friend's condition slowly worsen; willing him to stay alive.
The soft chime from the flight deck warned him that they were about to drop from hyperspace.
"Got to go, Luke…"
He eased Luke onto the floor before moving to the flight deck, walking backwards, loathed to leave him. "Don't give up on me now," he breathed. "Not much further, just hold on!"
He slid into the pilot's seat, turning his attention to their imminent arrival in Rebel space in an Imperial shuttle. The engines cut in to decelerate, the starscape blossoming, bursting into a myriad of colours before settling into normal space.
Wedge keyed the sensors online, searching for the Rebel cruisers that had been in this sector before they had left for Yeltarn, praying that they hadn't moved. If he had to hunt for any length of time, Luke was dead.
The sensor display sounded and Wedge whooped with delight. They were still here! He changed course, heading towards the nearest echo, watching the screen as the small blips of fighters detached from the large mass of the cruiser and rushed to intercept the shuttle.
Wedge reached across, searching for the radio, flipping the wave-band to talk to the pilot in charge of the fighters that raced towards them.
"Flight Leader, this is the shuttlecraft approaching you! Come in! Flight Leader, this is the shuttle approaching you! Come in!"
There was a hiss of static, then, "Shuttle craft, this is the Flight Leader. Go ahead."
Wedge recognised the voice. "Gold Leader this is Commander Wedge Antilles. I have Commander Skywalker aboard. He is badly injured and needs urgent medical attention. Repeat, this is Red Leader. Rogue Leader is badly injured. He needs urgent medical attention."
"Red Leader, that's copied. Standby."
There was a frantic moment's silence, then, "Red Leader, follow us in. A tractor beam will catch you further on."
"Roger, Gold Leader. I'm on your tail."
Wedge flew the shuttle towards the cruiser, following the Y-wing, two more flying alongside, the others heading back. Wedge watched the massive ship ahead growing larger and larger, bulk slowly blocking out the stars. He glanced back into the cabin, checking on Luke.
The shuttle shuddered slightly as the tractor beam lanced out, catching it.
"Tractor is locked, Wedge," Gold Leader reported. "You're on your way home…"
"Roger, Gold Leader…"
He shut the engines down, allowing the tractor beam to do the rest of the work, before moving back to Luke, dropping down beside him.
Suddenly afraid, unable to see Luke breathing, Wedge searched for a pulse, leaning over Luke and listening for a breath. There was a beat, weak but there, a soft draught against his cheek, shallow and rapid.
"We're nearly there, Luke," he promised. "We're almost home, damn it! Don't die on me now! Don't you dare die on me! Luke! Do you hear me? We're almost there!"
He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, before continuing more rationally, "Gold Leader's with us, Luke, bringing us in. The medics are waiting for you. It's going to be okay. Just hang on!"
He half stood, looking out of the front of the shuttle towards the docking bay, at the approach lights strobing in towards the open doors, the sequence changing automatically to guide the shuttle in.
"Nearly there, now. Almost setting down."
It was virtually over; they were floating through the doors. He could see the medics already moving towards the shuttle. Relief flooded through him as he stood up, a slight jar trembling through the shuttle and confirming that they had touched down. Wedge activated the switch to lower the ramp, turning back to Luke.
He dropped to his knees. "We made it, Luke! We…"
He trailed off, reaching desperately to find the pulse in Luke's wrist, bending to feel the breath on his cheek.
Wedge pulled back slowly, staring at Luke's body, unable to believe the cold reality of the situation. "No… No… No… No! No!"
The sobs tore at him, silent, cold, dry.
Concerned hands lifted him to his feet, pulling him away to allow the medics and droids in. His legs gave way, but he was caught, lowered to the floor. Someone was talking to him, far away. He couldn't understand the words, his attention focussed on the body of his friend. After all that had happened, after all that they had gone through…
"Sir? Sir, we need to get you to the med centre…"
Another voice ordered, "Commander! Look at me!"
A hand caught his chin, forcing his gaze away from Luke. Wedge gaped at the man, totally disoriented, his mind beginning to shut out the shock of Luke's death.
"Commander, we've got to get you to the med centre…" The voice was calm, persuasive.
He recognised the man suddenly: the Deck Officer.
"The X-wings…" he began. "We had to leave them…"
The Deck Officer nodded in acknowledgement, "I know, Commander. It's okay. Come on, let's get you to the med centre…"
Wedge looked at him, totally lost, an impression beginning to surface through the fog blanketing his mind. "Luke's hurt…"
"They're taking care of him. He's going to the med centre. Come on, Wedge, we need to get you down there too."
Wedge allowed himself to be lifted to his feet and guided out of the shuttle. "We had to leave the X-wings…"
"That's okay, Commander. Don't worry about it."
He squeezed his eyes closed, shaking his head, trying to clear his vision as they led him out of the hangar, but the shadows remained. Everything moved in slow motion, unreal. He lifted his hand to his face, the wound on his cheek beginning to burn, pressure beginning to ache behind his swollen eye.
The Deck Officer's grip tightened as he stumbled, steadying him.
He tried to open his good eye, recognising the voice, unable to focus on the face, his vision swimming, his head pounding. "Your Highness… I…"
The Deck Officer swore, catching him as he crumpled to the floor, lowering him gently to the ground and screaming for the medics.
Leia stood at the door, reluctant to leave, but conscious that Wedge would want time alone with Luke.
He'd been almost frantic to see Luke, as if he couldn't accept the fact that Luke was alive until he had seen him with his own eyes. And then, for a long moment, he had stood by the door, as if scared to go to Luke's side.
Wedge looked down on the sleeping face of his friend, fighting back the emotion, the images and memories flowing through his mind: nightmare scenes of the days they had spent in Vader's grasp.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to the Princess. "I thought…."
Leia nodded, her eyes on Luke. "We almost didn't get him down here in time. It was touch and go…"
She smiled, "But he pulled through."
She turned to face Wedge, searching his face, desperate to find out what had happened, what they had gone through, but unwilling to ask, knowing that any debrief should be left to the professionals.
"I'm sorry, Your Highness," Wedge began, misinterpreting the expression on her face. "Han wasn't…"
The chill of Vader's voice echoed in his mind again, informing them that Han Solo was dead and he changed track. He couldn't tell her, not now. There had been too much pain, too much grief already for him to cope. "It was all a trap to get Luke. Vader was waiting for us…"
Leia's eyes widened in horror and Wedge turned away, unable to bear her emotion.
"There was no man… No information… Just Vader… Everything set up to get Luke… And then we got back here and I thought… I thought…" His voice caught on a sob and he stopped, taking deep breaths, fighting back the tears that stung his eyelids, swallowing the tight pain in his throat.
Now was not the time or the place.
Leia watched his reaction, saying nothing, waiting for his control to return, then quietly told him, "Han's on Tattoine."
Wedge spun around, "What?"
"Bobba Fett took him to Jabba the Hutt…"
Leia nodded, frowning, "From what we've heard…"
Wedge clutched at her, "But…"
He pulled away, turning to Luke, gripping his friend's arm. "Luke? Do you hear that? Han's alive! Vader lied to us! Han's alive! He's with Jabba the Hutt! Can you her me, Luke? Han's alive!"
Leia pulled him away, suddenly afraid, "Wedge?"
He looked at her, "Vader told us that Han was dead, told us he'd killed him. Luke… crumbled… He still thinks Han is dead…"
Leia took his hands in hers, holding them tight, "It's okay, Wedge! Believe me, it's going to be okay."
She held him tightly, willing him to believe her lie. She had no idea how things would turn out. Luke was only just out of danger, Han still carbon-frozen and in the hands of Jabba the Hutt, news coming in of a second Death Star being built…
The door hummed open and Leia let Wedge go, turning as CeeThreepio shuffled in. "I am so sorry, Your Highness, but Commander Antilles is required in debrief. However if…"
"Not, it's okay, Threepio," Wedge told him, "I'll be with you in a minute."
He turned back to Luke, squeezing his friend's arm, "I'll be back as soon as I can…"
Leia watched him go before pulling a chair across to Luke's bedside.
They had won the first battle, the Death Star had been destroyed, but at what cost? How much more would they have to give before they had freedom from the Empire? How many more would have to die?
She took Luke's hand, talking to him softly. So much stood against them, there was still so much to overcome and they had lost such a lot on Hoth.
And yet… how could they give up now?
Those who had died had given their lives willingly, flocked to the Rebellion knowing that the penalty would be death, ignoring that in the desperation to rid themselves of the evil of the Empire, craving freedom more than life itself.
And how many new faces did she see every day? All those men and women still joining up…
So despite all that stood against them, they couldn't give up now. They had to go on. They would go on.
They owed it to their dead as well as the living.