The metal tapping of C3-P0's feet clanked on the metal floor of The Echoes and he and R2-D2 walked along the corridor; they were just getting back from telling Jaded of Wedge's health and were trying to find something else useful to do.
R2 was whistling a chain of beeps and hoots to the tall golden droid.
"I know R2," 3PO answered in a worried tone, "But we did as we were asked, now let's go back to the med center to find Master Luke."
The barrel-shaped droid protested as he turned the corner.
"R2 where are you going? There is nothing in the guest rooms we need," 3PO protested but the little cylindrical droid kept rolling along until he came into Nac's assigned room.
"R2, stop right here, we cannot go into this room without permission from Nac or General Antilles, and since Nac is not here and General Antilles is in the medbay, we are restricted." Artoo emitting another series of whistles cut off the golden droid.
"What do you mean, Captain Solo requested you come here? What are you looking for?"
At that instant, R2 found the little black data pad Nac had been using earlier. 3PO saw it and picked it up curiously, to see the missile codes ready to fire from on of the Terra Firman ships. "Oh my, we must inform Captain Solo!"
Wes hugged Zena tight, "It will be ok. Your dad's a tough old man, he'll make it ok." Reluctantly Wes released Wedge's hand and placed it into Zena's, "Hey, kid, stay here with your mom. I'm going to find Tycho and Han." Wes kissed her cheek and squeezed Jaded's shoulder affectionately. He left the sickbay his head held high but tears running down his cheeks. Heading for the lab, he found 3PO and R2 wondering the corridors of The Echoes. The taller droid was muttering something about the datapad gripped in his hand. "3PO, what's going on," Wes called out.
"Oh, my! Major Janson! Something most terrible has happened! Look what R2 and I have discovered," 3-PO exclaimed holding forth Nac's datapad. Wes took the offered handheld computer. He saw the missile lock codes and everything clicked. "We've got to get this to Han!" Wes turned and hurried faster to the lab.
"Yes! That is what I was I was explaining to this worthless bucket of bolts! Oh my! Major Janson! Wait for us! Come along R2!"
Wes burst into the lab, "Han, Tych, scum," he said glancing about the room and its occupants. "Han, take a look at this. 3PO and R2 found it in this Son of the Sith's quarters." Wes handed the datapad to Han.
Han took the data bad from Wes and looked over it...a flood of white passed his face. "What the hell is this," he asked Nac, even though he knew what it was. "You know as soon as you attack this ship, you will die, because you ain't leaving this ship."
"So what, as long as you are all gone!" Nac shouted. "I am doing it for the good of the galaxy."
"The GOOD of the Galaxy!" Han asked.
"Yes! With this ship now contaminated with this sickness, and the sickness spreading with contact, and something you don't know - bacta is no help in stopping it, you don't expect to be able to go into a civilized system do you," Nac argued.
"So you are going destroy the disease by destroying us?"
"Yes, and I must say it will be a great relief to my kind."
"You sick Son of a-," Han restrained himself. "You don't think we can stop this, the four squads of pilots from this ship can take out that missile in seconds! Think about it, if ANYTHING happens to Wedge, if he dies or is not himself once he comes out of his coma, those pilots are going to be wanting revenge and they will be led by three men who will also see to it that you die as well."
Luke hung on tight to the little part of Wedge that still glistened in the Force. "Come on Wedge," he implored his old friend, "Hang on, we need you." Still concentrating, but aware of everyone else in the room, he reached out in the Force in an attempt to connect everyone in the room, even the non-force sensitives, to Wedge; only together could they save him.
Lorelei stood back to let Wes leave the room. Master Luke was still trying desperately to bring General Antilles back. She could feel him inside her mind trying to connect everyone to Wedge. She looked over at Hobbie; he looked terrible. She walked quietly over to him and smiled comfortingly. "It will be all right," she said. The young Jedi turned her gaze to the dying man, a coldness reaching over her, she felt so helpless and could tell that Hobbie felt the same. She then thought about the General Maharba: he had disappeared; she hoped he was all right. She looked back at the somber pilot who looked more mournful than usual, "Hobbie, I want to go find general Maharba to make sure he is alright. Would you like to come with me, maybe you could take a break," she asked quietly so not to disrupt Master Skywalker.
In the darkness, Wedge could feel the presence of others - again he struggled to open his eyes; this time it worked but even with them open, everything was still black. He looked around the inky darkness and as his eyes became adjusted, he was able to begin to make things out. His surroundings were familiar but he had not been here in many, many years. "Mom? Dad?" he called out, "I'm home. Mom?"
A soft voice, filled with love, came from the shadows nearby, "No Veggies, sweetheart, it's not your time yet to come home. As much as we miss you and want you to be with us again, it just is not your time." His mother's voice caught as she continued, "There are people there who love you and we know that you're not ready to leave them yet."
"But Mom, I miss you and Dad something awful. I never got to say good-bye to you, to tell you how much I love you both. I am ready to come home Mom. I'm tired, tired of fighting, and just want to be with you and Dad again."
"No Wedge," came a firm male voice, "The Force has not determined that it is time for you to leave your life behind. You still have much to do with your life and there are people looking for you, calling for you, who love you and are not ready for you to leave them yet."
"I wasn't ready for you and Mom to leave me when you did," Wedge said softly, tears beginning to fall from his eyes and slide down his cheeks. "I wasn't ready yet Hosk wrenched you away from me, leaving me alone and on my own."
He felt a familiar arm across his shoulders, "We know that son but we didn't have a choice in leaving. If we hadn't done what we needed to do, so many more people would have died. Your mother and I always taught you to do what you had to do regardless of the consequences if it is for the good of others. But Wedge, you weren't left alone, you had Booster and Mirax to take care of you."
"I know Dad, I know."
He felt himself being pulled into his mother's arms, being wrapped in her comforting embrace; he smelled her well-known scent, "Veggies, we love you but it is time for you to go back to your friends and family." Wedge felt his mother reluctantly release him and his father slowly removed his arm from his shoulders; he sniffed at the tears as his mother continued, "We will always be watching you Baby and when it is your time, your father and I will be here to welcome you."
As his parents disappeared back into the shadows, a light in the distance replaced them.
Wedge began to walk towards the light, back towards his friends, his family, his life - it was not yet his time to leave the galaxy; his parents were right, he still had work to do and first on his list was to bring to justice the person responsible for killing the Aquillan general and for trying to kill both the Jedi girl and himself.
As Luke hung on tight to the little part of Wedge that still glistened in the Force, he implored his old friend, "Come on Wedge. Hang on, we need you." Slowly Wedge made his way to where that voice was coming from; he could feel two others that he recognized - Jaded and Emote were there helping Luke guide him back. The closer he got to the familiar voices the more confusion he sensed around him - alarms were blaring around him, voices he did not know were shouting at each other but he could not make out their words. He could feel those same unknown people working on him, injecting drugs into his body, just as they were trying to insert a tube down his throat to hook him up to a respirator, Wedge took a shuddering breath on his own a - it was like he had been holding his breath under water for a long time and finally surfaced. He did not open his eyes but just before he drifted off into a deep, healing sleep, his face wet with tears, he rasped out for the three people he did not hear in the room with him, "Wes? Tycho? Hobbie?"
Just as Lorelei was asking him if he would like to accompany her to take a break and look for the missing General Maharba, he heard Wedge hoarsely call out his name. "Wedge," he cried and moved to the bed.
Dwarfing Wedge's hand in his own, Hobbie clasped tightly to in his, "I'm here Wedge, I'm here." With his free hand he thumbed his comlink calling Wes and Tycho, "Get to Wedge's bed now," he called into it, a smile breaking across his normally sober features, "I think Wedge is going to make it." He turned off the device and returned his attention to Wedge and his friends who were responsible for his turn around.
Wes heard a muted voice coming from his pocket, reaching in he dug out his comlink. He listened intently as Hobbie's tinny voice came over telling him and Tycho to come to Wedge's bed, "Tych, let's go! Wedge is waking up! Han," he paused thinking; they could not leave him alone with Nac. "I say we knock him out and drag him along. Han, what do you say?" Wes looked between Han and Tych, making a decision, "I'll go see what's happening, you guys take care of Nac." Wes left the room and ran back down the hall. He rushed to his oldest friend's bedside.
"Wedge? Are ya there Boss? Come back to us!"
Jaded sensed Wedge coming back to a normal sleep, she slowly withdrew from his mind; opening her eyes, she looked down at him, tears still falling at the near loss of the father of her children. Looking up, she saw Zena sitting next to Hobbie, "Zena, go find your uncles and bring them back," she said quietly.
Zena looked at her mother, sensing the exhaustion coming off her, "OK," she said quietly. She leaned over and squeezed Wedge's hand, then turned and left the room in hurry to find Wes and Tycho.
Jaded looked down at Wedge and Emote, "Emote, will you come sit with me," she asked quietly, taking Wedge's hand, and holding out her other hand to the little Ewok droid.
Lorelei stood at the end of the bed, she was so happy Wedge was back;
Wedge's return from wherever he had was such a relief for everyone in
the room. A bright smile passed her face, "Welcome back General," she
said in a playfully happy tone.
To be Continued...
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