Summary: The New Republic bids one of its greatest heroes a fond farewell.
"Wedge Antilles embodied everything we all hoped to be." Leia Organa Solo's voice was crisp as it was carried on the cool Coruscant air. "He was as strong and courageous a man as I have ever known, and I feel fortunate to have been as close to him as I was. He was the kind of leader to whom everyone willingly looked for sound guidance in times of crisis. He was the type of man to whom his friends, colleagues, subordinates, and superiors looked for advice in times of personal trial."
"Wedge was the kind of person who inspired those around him to earn his trust. And he was the type who, once you earned his trust and respect, it was nearly impossible to lose it. And if you did lose it, you knew you had never been worthy of it in the first place."
"Many people followed him into impossible situations because they had faith that he would lead them out again, faith stemming from the truth that he would never order his people to do something he would not do himself, would never expect his people to risk their lives where he would not willingly risk his own.”
"He held his own personal honor about all else, at times risking his career and all that he'd worked and fought for in pursuit of what he knew to be right. It was this deep and heartfelt dedication to what was moral and just that earned him the utmost respect and esteem of his comrades, friends, and family, all of which he considered one and the same."
Leia looked out over the crowd, her eyes lighting first on her daughter Jaina and her husband Jagged Fel, Wedge's nephew. Her gaze then traveled to the pilots with whom Wedge had spent so much of his life. Wes Janson, Hobbie Klivian, and Tycho Celchu and been his closest friends for more than 30 years. Her gaze finally stopped on Wedge's widow, Iella, and their daughters Syal and Myri. Iella leaned heavily on Corran Horn, once her partner back when they were both in CorSec, her best friend, and now the rock she relied on to hold her life together.
She continued. "I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the chance to know such a wonderful man, and to say that he will be deeply mourned does not do justice to the depth of the pain his friends and family feel at his death."
She finally allowed her tears to fall, and her voice cracked as she continued. "I cannot say enough about this man, except to remind everyone once more what this galaxy would be like had he never lived." She stepped down into the waiting arms of her husband.
* * * * *
Gradually the flow of sympathizers had diminished from a river to a trickle. It seemed that everyone in the New Republic who had ever had occasion to speak Wedge's name had come to offer his widow and their children their condolences. Important politicians and military officers had been in abundance. But slowly the crowd had thinned, leaving those who felt the greatest loss to themselves.
Mirax Terrik Horn looked around, through tear-blurred eyes. Her husband still held Iella tightly, but Mirax didn't mind. Wedge had comforted both Iella and Mirax years before after what everyone had thought was Corran's death. It was only fitting that Corran be there to console her now. Besides, the two had, for what seemed like forever, been closer than Mirax had thought it was possible for two people to be.
Off to the left were Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker, Han and Leia Organa Solo, and Jag and Jaina Solo Fel. That family had always been close, and now had a reason to draw together even more. Wedge had been a good friend to Luke, Han, and Leia, and a mentor to Jaina, and was Jag's uncle.
On the opposite side of the room were the Rogues, the men beside whom Wedge had slept, eaten, flown, and, essentially, lived, for the last three decades. Tycho, Wes, Hobbie, and Gavin Darklighter had been a second family to the Corellian. They’d been the ones with whom he'd talked and joked, laughed and cried for all of his adult life, and some of his lost youth. The loss they felt was one that would not be easily or quickly overcome.
Mirax felt hands on her shoulders and twisted around to find herself looking up at her misty-eyed father. Booster Terrik had been a good friend of Wedge's father, and he had taken Wedge in following his parents' death when he was 16. Wedge had been like a part of her family for as long as Mirax could remember – like a son to Booster and a brother to her. Still, Mirax hadn't expected her father to shed any tears following Wedge's death – not in public anyway.
She was yanked out of her thoughts by Iella's voice. "It just doesn't seem fair. He's gone up against the best the Empire and the Vong could have thrown at him, and survived, and he dies like this?"
Mirax had to agree with her. When she'd learned of Wedge's death she'd automatically assumed it had been a planned assassination. But the truth was far from her guess. Apparently he'd gone into a store late one night when Iella was making a ryshcate for a party they were going to the next day and ran out of a key ingredient, only to be shot in the back by petty thieves looking to make some quick credits by robbing the proprietor.
"Death never does seem fair," Corran said soothingly. "But I understand what you mean. When I joined the Rogues, I figured all of us would end up dying in a dogfight or on some ground mission. Not by wandering into a robbery or something like that."
Tycho nodded his agreement. "We’ve never expected to live long lives, and we all think we know how we’re going to die." He paused. "The worst part of this is it's so far from anything he would have wanted. Obviously he didn't want to die. But I know, and I know that you all do too, that he would have wanted to die flying. He'd have wanted to die doing what he loved doing."
Wes shifted, moving closer to the others. He didn't speak for a moment, but when he did, his voice was soft and thoughtful. "Sometimes I thought that might have been why he was so willing to take all those crazy missions. We all had to go sometime, and he'd have hated to die in his sleep, or of some illness, or something like this. He loved to fly; he lived for it. Why not die for it, too, y'know?"
"It's just so hard to believe," Mirax heard herself say. "I mean, he flew in and out of situations that no one had a right to live through. You all did, really. So how could this happen? It's just unbelievable."
This time Hobbie spoke, for what Mirax figured was the first time all night. "It's not that it's unbelievable. It's just that we won't believe it. We refuse to believe that the New Republic's best pilot could be killed in a botched robbery. It's not what we would have expected. If he had died in a battle we would believe it, because we expect it. It'd be a lot easier for us to handle if it was something that we expected to happen."
"At least they're going to pay for what they've done," Corran said softly. "They won’t get away with it. That's one thing we can be sure of."
Iella looked at him. "I was so angry when Loor let your father's killer go. I couldn't imagine what you were going through. I still can't, and I'm so glad I won't have to feel that now."
Leia spoke up. "Unfortunately, Corran, your father wasn't important enough to the higher-ups for them to insist on seeing justice served. I know that sounds very harsh, but it is the truth. Here, however, they'll be lucky to find someone who will defend them. If they even survive being imprisoned, that is. I think they're being locked away separate from everyone else for their own safety."
"Too bad," Iella muttered under her breath, and everyone else pretended not to hear.
Slowly, Mirax stood. "I'd better get home so the sitter can, too. I'm sure she's had quite a night of it." She looked at her husband. "You're staying here tonight, right?"
He glanced at Iella and nodded. "But I'll walk you out."
As he got up, so did Leia and her family. "We ought to be going, too." She walked to Iella, who stood too, and took her hand.
"Thank you, Leia," the other woman said. "I know how close you two were, and everything you said today meant so much to me."
Leia nodded. "I was glad to speak. Always know that we're here for you, all of us." She paused. "And always know that he'll not be forgotten."
I loved this story, Jes. Very sad but very well written. You have captured the characters feelings and thoughts very well.
Rogue Leader AKA Wedge