Part II: After the battle and destruction of the Death Star and the Evacuation of Yavin IV
The Death Star was destroyed but at what cost – allies and friends gone: the Rebel Alliance had taken a great loss in terms of pilots and machinery in obliterating the greatest threat that the Empire has thrown at the Rebellion to date but it was a toll they had been willing to take on, it was so much less than if that engine of war were to have gone on to annihilate more planets just as it had done to Alderaan, these thoughts and many others fought for prominence in Wedge’s mind as he limped his X-Wing back to the Rebel’s base on Yavin IV – only he, Luke Skywalker and a Y-Wing from Gold Squadron had survived the Battle; Wedge, himself, was lucky he almost did not make it out of their before the Death Star blew – why the TIEs ignored him and his crippled bird was known only to the Force – his Corellian Luck still held but at twenty he felt as if he had already drawn heavily on the account where he banked his luck. So deep was he lost in his thoughts that he was unaware of the injuries that he had sustained when his engine was hit – and their severity.
The flight back to base was a long slow one – shaking his head in an attempt to rid his brain of his depressing thoughts, Wedge half heartedly listened to the comm traffic between those in the control room on Yavin IV, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo but he kept silent with only his thoughts for company as no one addressed him or T’shara Jade, the Y-Wing pilot, or the two squads of X-Wings that did not have to make the Trench Run since the Skywalker kid’s proton torpedoes had hit their target - on the ride home. The happy chatter coming from the moon base, congratulating Skywalker and Solo, continued until finally he heard the Princess’ voice telling the other two pilots that as soon as they landed they were to begin preparing for a party in their honor this night and for an awards ceremony to be held within the week – Wedge just shook his head, causing blood to run in rivulets from under his flight helmet and down his face into his eyes and down his cheeks– a wound from where he had bashed his head on his X-Wing’s transparisteel canopy when his engine was hit and he was thrown forward against his restraints that also involved him dislocating his left shoulder; he absently wiped at the blood with a gloved hand – his thoughts on his bunkmates Biggs Darklighter and Jek ‘Piggy’ Porkins and telling Wes of their demise.
The moon Yavin IV grew larger in the forward section of his canopy as he slowly approached the base: shortly after sighting the base, the hanger came into sight – Wedge had switched from his remaining engines to his sublight engines as he entered the moon’s atmosphere and finally to his repulsorlifts, gingerly bringing his X-Wing into the hanger and heading to a far corner of the hanger - along with the other two squadrons of X-Wings – instead of Red Squadron’s assigned space, far away from where Skywalker, Solo and Solo’s Wookiee pal were being swarmed over receiving congratulations and back slaps; gently he landed his bird and watched as T’shara in the only Y-wing to survive the Death Star Battle brought her ship down gently next to his X-Wing as Wedge ran his shut down sequence before manually popping his canopy sending jolts of pain radiating down his arm and through his shoulder. No one approached either pilot or their ships: Wedge stood on his command couch and eased himself over the edge of his cockpit intending to drop to the hanger deck but his left arm and shoulder would not cooperate; therefore, instead of gracefully dropping to the deck, he half fell, half slide down the side of his bird landing with a hard jolt banging his head against the side and landing in a heap on the deck – T’shara was instantly at his side helping him to stand. Wedge gave Shara a chagrined smile before looking over to the part of the hanger where Solo and Skywalker had landed and were being swarmed over, “Let’s go see Wes and tell him about Piggy and Biggs.” Wedge absently nodded his head and followed her lead out of the hanger and to the Med Center. The two pilots walked solemnly and silently out of the hanger making their way towards the base’s Medical Center.
A short time later they walked into Wes’s private room in the Med Center and found the Taanabian pilot wide-awake, anxiously awaiting word of the battle – the news of the Rebellion’s victory had not reached the Medical Ward yet, the only news that the patient’s had received so far was that they had suffered many casualties and they only heard that as the technicians, doctors and medical droids rushed around preparing for a rapid evacuation of the moon’s base. “Thank the Force Wedge, you’re alive,” Wes shouted as he attempted to get out of bed, run to Wedge and make sure that he was real: Shara managed to restrain him by standing at the head of Wes’s bed and that is when he noticed, “Wedge, you’re bleeding,” he said looking at his friend quizzically, “and what’s wrong with your arm?” he demanded as he reached for the comlink to call medical personnel to his room.
Slowly, Wedge crossed the room – his left arm held closely against his body – than sat down carefully on the edge of the bed, “I’m ok Wes, really,” he replied, his pallor and the pain evident in his dark eyes clearly belying his statement. “I…I just wanted to be the one to tell you before you heard from anyone else,” Wedge managed to croak out, his voice soft but raspy with emotion and pain, “Biggs…an…and…Piggy,” he swallowed hard to get past the large lump that had formed in his throat threatening to cut off his voice, “Th-th-they didn’t make it, Wes – Luke Skywalker and I are the only two members of Red Squadron up there today to survive,” the Corellian finished as tears fought to find their way out of the corners of his eyes. Gritting his teeth in agony, Wedge cautiously moved his arm away from his chest, down to the bed and tried to reach Wes’s outstretched hand – Wes met him half way and clasped the other pilot’s in a tight grip – Jek Porkins and Biggs Darklighter had been much like older brothers to the two young snub jockeys and their CO like a father; the squadron was their family and now it was gone – they both knew and understood the emotion pain the other was going through: neither man realized that Shara had left the room as Wedge began to tell Wes of Red Squadron’s casualties. Upon her return, about thirty minutes later with a 2-1B Medical Droid, Shara found Wes holding Wedge close, rubbing his friend’s back and making soothing noises – Wedge had finally relaxed and fallen asleep but she could tell by his ragged breathing that he was still in a considerable amount of pain – the young Taanabian held a finger up to his lips and shook his head to try to convey to Shara and the medial droid not to disturb the Corellian.
Shara traversed the short distance from the door to Wes’s bed, pulled up a chair, sat down and looked into the pilot’s blue eyes, “Wes,” she began in a soft voice, “you know as well as I do that Wedge’s injuries need to be looked at, evaluated and taken care of; for that, I am afraid, we are going to have to wake him up. He also needs to be cleaned up, he’s covered in his own blood and now you are as well,” she laughed nervously at the last part of her statement.
Wes gazed back at her, fiery defiance in his eyes, “No, at least not now, Shara,” he stated firmly, through clench teeth, “He needs to rest – besides, I don’t care if he’s bled on me; Wedge is my brother and it is my job to protect him and since I couldn’t be with him in the air to do it today I will do it here and now – the doctors can check him out later AFTER HE GETS SOME REST.”
Wes’s tersely spoken words caught the ears of a passing human doctor – he stepped into the room, “Lieutenant Janson, what is going on in here,” he demanded loudly – his loud voices rousing Wedge from the restless, pain wracked sleep he had fallen into. The dark hair pilot sat bolt upright, his dark eyes darting around the room at the semi-familiar soundings, his hair plastered against his forehead with blood: slipping away from Wes, he struggled to stand only to become light headed from the loss of blood and pain – Wedge’s knees gave out and before anyone could react, Wedge fell hitting his already wounded head on the edge of the bed - he lay sprawled out on the floor of the Med Bay.
Continued in Part 4