Prelude to Rebellion
Csillag

The author would also like to acknowledge two other Fan Fiction authors. The first, Iris Bailey, was kind enough to critique this story before its submission to the Fan Fiction sites and also allowed me to appropriate some items from her own Fan Fiction. Heartfelt thanks. I would not have had the courage to do this without you. The second is Kay Iscah. She wrote a Fan Fiction story entitled "Snow Wars" about a snowball fight. That event is referred to in this story. Thank you as well; it was an ingenious idea. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed it.

This story takes place on Hoth shortly before the battle and tells how Luke Skywalker became a Commander and leader of Rogue Squadron only three years after joining the Rebellion and why Wedge Antilles will end up as Rogue Leader by ROTJ.


When Luke Skywalker stuck his head in the door of the large room that served as a dormitory for the base's pilots, he saw that Wedge Antilles was face down in his bunk dead asleep. He was the only one in there sleeping since it was late morning, but Luke knew that Wedge had returned to base very late the night before from a mission and it had apparently been an eventful one.

Wedge and his friend, Ily'eene Milam, had taken Wedge's own freighter, the Zena's Pride, to pick up some documents which were considered too sensitive to risk a transmission being intercepted. The secret Alliance base they had just returned from was where the political leaders of the Alliance, including Mon Mothma, the Provisional Head, were in hiding. Wedge had never signed the Pride over to the Alliance so it had not, to anyone's knowledge, been associated with the Rebellion, which made it ideal for that type of run. On the way back, they had made another stop to pick up some new personnel including a, now desperately needed, new pilot.

Luke was reluctant to wake his friend knowing how exhausted he was, but the Rebellion waited on no one. He reached out to shake Wedge's shoulder, "Wedge, wake up... hey, wake up."

Wedge turned over on his side with his eyes still closed, "Janson, if this isn't life or death, I'm going to have to kill you as soon as I wake up."

"No, Wedge." Luke said, "It's me, Luke."

Wedge opened his eyes and slowly propped himself up on his elbows, "Oh. So, is it life or death, or am I going to have to kill you?" he mumbled.

"I'm afraid it is probably life or death ... ours." Luke said in a deadly serious tone.

That penetrated Wedge's sleep fogged awareness and he sat up on the edge of the bunk ready to listen.

"I know you're still exhausted after bringing Tycho and the others in last night, but we just got some really bad news. General Rieekan just got a coded message. The convoy coming from Derra IV was ambushed. There were no survivors."

Wedge's face mirrored Luke's devastated expression, "Oh, no ..." He realized that Luke was probably right. It was life or death. Commander Narra, who had led the fighter escort for the convoy, was the most experienced pilot the Alliance had at Hoth, and now he was gone. They had only Rogue Squadron and two other squadrons left to defend the base and to cover an evacuation.

Luke sat down on the bunk next to Wedge's and stared at the floor between them, "The General has promoted me to Commander and put me in charge of the remaining fighter units. We were spread pretty thin before, but now that we've lost the squadrons that were with Commander Narra ... Wedge, I'm not ready for this, but we don't have a choice; I need all the help I can get."

Wedge could see that Luke had taken Narra's loss very hard. He knew that Luke was a fine pilot, but also that he had no interest in acquiring rank or power, At least not normal power, he thought to himself. He didn't really understand much about Luke's growing Jedi skills, but if they helped to defeat the Empire, that was all he needed to understand anyway.

Wedge reached across to pat Luke on the shoulder, "Of course, Luke. What can I do to help?"

Luke smiled, "Well, in spite of that rude awakening, you do have time to grab a shower and finish waking up. I'll wait here and finish filling you in once you're feeling a little more human."

Wedge snorted at that and headed off for the shower.

Fifteen minutes later, he and Luke left the dorm and made their way toward the operations center. "We have no way of knowing if the Imps have found out where we are. In any case, this base can't be considered secure anymore so we'll have to start preparing to evacuate. It could be days or hours, but we have to be ready if they do find us." He paused ouside the operations center doors, "I need you to get Tycho checked out on the simulator. He's flown Z95s and TIEs, but not X-Wings. If you think he can handle an X-Wing for escort duty, assign him to Morlen's squadron." Tycho Celchu was an Imperial fighter pilot who had defected and was one of the group Wedge had brought in the previous night.

Luke continued to give Wedge his instructions, "Then, round up the rest of the Rogues and tell them what has happened. We've got to get those snowspeeders adapted to the extreme cold here, but the technicians are dead on their feet. They need a little sack time and the Rogues know as much about those speeders as the technicians do so they can relieve them for a few hours."

Wedge nodded, "Right. Where will you be?"

"First, I'm going to have a word with the other squadron leaders, but if it comes to an evacuation, Leia will be giving them their final briefing. Then, I'm going out to help Han place the last of the sensors. It may not be much, but a little warning of company coming might be the difference between whether or not we get off this snowball. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Okay, Luke. See you later." He turned and headed off to find Tycho.

*********


Janson, Dack, Hobbie and Zev were in the pilots' ready room drinking caf when Wedge came in. "Hey, Wedge," Janson saluted him with his mug. "Are you going to treat us to your 'Gourmet Tauntaun Stew' again for dinner tonight?"

Wedge rolled his eyes, "No, I'm not going to do the Imps job for them and kill us all off by food poisoning." He went and stood over the table they were sitting at. "We've got big problems."

The four pilots could tell from his expression and his voice that whatever it was was very serious. They sat up straight to pay attention as Wedge filled them in on what Luke had told him about the convoy and Commander Narra's loss.

"Sithspit!" Janson's normally merry face looked anything but merry as he glanced at the other three pilots and then back at Wedge. "Luke is in charge now, right?""Yes, and he needs all the help we can give him. Go find the rest of the Rogues; Luke wants you to report to the hangar and take over from the technicians working on the snowspeeders. Those guys are wiped out and need some rack time so you're going to go and pretend to be mechanics for a few hours." That crack elicited a few groans, but they got up and started out the door.

**********


Wedge had walked to the hangar with Janson while Hobbie and the others went to hunt for the rest of the Rogues. They went over to the chief mechanic, who scowled at them with frustration and annoyance on his face, "Look," he said, "I told General Rieekan that the snowspeeders would be ready first thing tomorrow morning ..."

Wedge held up his hands to stop the tirade, "No, no. Luke sent us over here to help. Your people have been working around the clock for days. He wants all of you to get some sleep. We'll work on the speeders so things don't fall behind."

That mollified the Chief somewhat. "Did I hear right that the Imps blew away the convoy from Derra IV?"

Both Wedge and Janson sighed and answered, "Yes."

"Blast!" the chief spat. "That convoy had a whole lot of stuff that we really needed."

Wedge nodded in agreement, "We lost a lot of good people too."

The Chief closed his eyes, obviously regretting that he had thought first of the lost equipment and supplies rather than the people killed.

The other Rogues had come into the hangar and made their way between the various types of ships over to where Wedge, Janson, and the Chief stood. "Alright, then." Wedge said, "Show these guys what you've done and what still needs doing then have your people go sack out for a while."

"Cubber!" the Chief bellowed.

"What?" Came the voice of another technician from further down the line of speeders.

"Get over here and help me show these flyboys how to finish the modifications on the speeders then we can go sleep laying down for a change."

Wedge turned to go, but then turned back, "Janson."

"Yeah?"

"Make sure you get it right. I don't want to have to walk back from whatever snowbank your mechanical skill lands us in." He ducked the greasy rag Janson pitched at him and left the 'would-be' mechanics to their task.

**********


Tycho had been on the other side of the hangar when the Rogues came in. He had not been told where to report so he had been walking around just getting a feel for the base that would be his new home.

When he saw Wedge leave the Rogues to their mechanic's duties, he began heading towards him intending to ask Wedge where he should report. Wedge spotted him and waved him over, "Tycho! Come over here."

"Yessir," He hurried over to Wedge.

"I'm not a sir," Wedge muttered.

Janson heard that and snickered, but otherwise kept his mouth shut.

"Oh, sorry, sir."

"Come on. We need to get you checked out in the X-Wing simulator. I suppose you've heard the bad news by now?"

"About the convoy from Derra IV? Yes, sir."

"Just call me Wedge."

They left the hangar and walked through the cramped corridors past the operations center talking as they went.

"You picked a hell of a time to hook up with us. We may all end up getting blown to perdition if the Imps find us here."

"After I found out the truth about what had happened to Alderaan, I couldn't stay with the Empire." Tycho's voice was thick with pent up emotion. "They destroyed my home. My family." He stopped speaking for a moment.

Wedge winced inwardly. He hadn't realized that Tycho was from Alderaan, but he did know what it was to lose one's family. He'd lost his parents in a fiery explosion deliberately caused by pirates, but the pain was the same. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. How did you find out?"

Tycho didn't answer for a moment, then with a sigh he began, "I was assigned as a TIE pilot to a Star Destroyer, the Dominator. It was assigned to curtail pirate activity pretty far away from where the Rebellion was active. I was glad about that; I did not want to be in a position where I would have to fire on Rebel pilots. Biggs Darklighter and Hobbie Klivian had told me just before we graduated that they were going to hijack their ship, the Rand Ecliptic and join the Rebellion. I wished I could do the same, but it wasn't possible then."

Wedge waited while Tycho gathered his thoughts. They had arrived at the simulator room and went inside, but Wedge could see that Tycho needed to tell this story, to get it out in the open where he could deal with the emotions it dredged up.

They sat down on a couple of chairs and Tycho continued his recollections, "I had been on the Dominator for a couple of months and we had taken down some pirate nests that had been irritating Sector High Command. SHC had been pleased with us and sent us to Commenor for shore leave. We were on our way there and the ship was not on alert status so I was able to receive a realtime holo-transmission from home for my birthday. My family owned the largest holo-broadcasting system on Alderaan. My whole family was there: my parents, my grandparents, my sisters, my brother and my fiancee..." his voice trailed off.

Tears welled up in Tycho's eyes and Wedge sat silently aching in sympathy as he brushed them away. After a few seconds he spoke again, "They were all so happy and full of life and toasting me for my birthday. All of a sudden, the transmission went down. At first, I didn't think anything of it. That sort of thing had happened before and I would tease my father about it, which is what I had planned to do this time when the transmission came back. But it didn't."

Tycho stared at a spot on the wall behind Wedge's head, "After a few minutes, I went to the communications officer and asked why the tranmission hadn't come back. He couldn't tell me so I shrugged it off to save it for teasing my father later. A few days after that, but before we reached Commenor, the captain addressed the whole ship on the intercomm. He told us that Rebels had attacked and destroyed Alderaan and were stepping up their campaign of terror to destroy other worlds loyal to the Empire."

Wedge was aware of the propaganda slant the Empire used to condemn the Rebellion, but this was the first time he had been directly exposed to the type of personal devastation those lies wreaked.

Tycho looked directly at Wedge, "I knew right away that the captain was lying. It was an open secret that Alderaan was somehow funnelling aid to the Rebellion so it made no sense for Rebels to have destroyed it. The Empire had done it and was putting the blame on the Rebels. It was all I could do not to shout down the captain over the intercom. I made up my mind right then that, as soon as we reached Commenor, I would defect. I would not spend one more minute than absolutely necessary wearing the uniform of the Empire that had murdered my family." He looked down for a moment then back up again at Wedge, "As soon as I was able to slip away from my shipmates, I disappeared and got away from Commenor."

Tycho, had visibly sagged as he finished telling Wedge his story. He was emotionally drained, but a look of determination came into his eyes as he pulled himself up straight again. "No matter what it takes, we have to beat them. They can't be allowed to do what they did to Alderaan again."

Wedge stood up, "You're right, Tycho." He walked over to the simulator and opened it up. "Let's get you checked out in this thing so you can have your shot at stopping them."

**********


Wedge and Tycho were walking down a back corridor of the Rebel base from the simulator room towards the hangar area. They were just approaching an intersection with another corridor which led to the operations center for the base.

Tycho's mood, which had been pretty grim before the simulator exercise, had lightened considerably.

"Well, Tycho," Wedge was saying, "that was quite a workout in the simulator. It's the first time in a long time that anyone besides Luke Skywalker has been able to tag me. Are you sure you haven't flown an X-Wing before?"

Chagrin on his face, the blond pilot answered, "No, that was my first flight in an X-Wing and I did only get one of your laser cannons before you blew me out of the sky. Back home on Alderaan, I had a lot of hours on Z-95 Headhunters. Since Alderaan was disarmed after the Clone Wars, it wasn't really combat flying, but I was pretty good at bullseyeing imaginary targets. I guess that skill translates pretty well from one type of fighter to another."

"I'll say..." Wedge's face took on a more serious expression, "You and Hobbie and Biggs were friends at the Academy, right?"

Tycho could see that Wedge wanted, needed to understand more of why his path and Biggs' path to join the Rebellion had diverged. He stopped walking and so did Wedge. "Yes, we were good friends" he smiled to himself, remembering, "and friendly rivals too. Biggs was the only one in the class besides our instructor, Captain Fel, who could touch me in the simulators." Tycho paused for a moment when he saw Wedge look down at the floor. "I was very sorry when you told me on the flight here that he'd been killed at Yavin. I was hoping to catch up to him when I decided to join the Rebellion."

Wedge shivered as Tycho mentioned Fel's name. Of course, Fel was a name that meant something to Wedge since he and Baron Soontir Fel were both Correllians. Correllia was loyal to the Empire, but word had gotten to the Rebels from intelligence sources on Corellia only hours ago that Fel had been promoted and given his title as a reward for his part in the slaughter at Derra IV. Wedge, personally, had not yet gone up against the 181st, but this elite fighter group under Fel's command had begun to give Rebel pilots nightmares. When he stopped to think about it, he often found it so strange that so many Correllians were in the Rebellion either as fighters like himself, or by association like the smugglers who did so much to help support it by secretly transporting the munitions and other supplies they needed to survive. One Correllian smuggler, Han Solo, had pretty much permanently attached himself to the Rebellion -- or at least to one of its leaders, Princess Leia. How could these three sons of Correllia wind up on such different paths in life?

All these thoughts had crossed Wedge's mind in a matter of moments. He was about to respond to Tycho's comment when he heard voices coming towards the intersection of the two corridors just a few yards from where he and Tycho stood. Contemplations on Biggs and on Baron Fel were forgotten for the moment as the voices approached.

"Han ... Han ..."

"Yes, Your Highnessness."

Wedge put his hand on Tycho's arm to stop him from moving forward and gestured for him to stand still and be quiet. The Princess's voice could easily be heard from where they were standing. Oh, no, Wedge thought to himself, here we go again. He wanted to save the Princess the embarrassment of knowing that others would hear this latest shouting match between herself and Han, but realized that it was pretty pointless.

"I thought you had decided to stay."

"Yeah, well that bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind."

"Han, we need you!"

"We?"

"Yes."

"Oh, what about you need?"

"I need? I don't know what you're talking about."

"You probably don't."

"And what precisely am I supposed to know?"

"Come on! You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me."

"Yes. You're a great help to us. You're a natural leader ..."

She doesn't need yet another scene between the two of them to make the rounds of base gossip, Wedge thought to himself. At least, I won't be the one that starts the gossip about this one. He had seen several other base personnel walk by who had to have walked right through that conversation and cringed inwardly knowing the gossip mill would already be flying at lightspeed with this latest installment in the ongoing 'drama'.

Tycho turned to Wedge, his face registering outrage as the still audible voices moved a little further back the way thay had come. "He can't talk to her like that," he whispered hoarsely, "she's a princess!"

Wedge shushed Tycho and whispered back, "Oh, don't worry about it." Privately, he thought exactly the same thing, but he'd seen it all before. "That's how he always talks to her."

They could still hear Han and Leia's voices as their argument continued down the corridor.

"Don't worry about it!?" Tycho repeated, "Wedge, she's a princess!" He was about to charge around the corner to defend the Princess, but Wedge held him back. A brawl between Tycho and Han over the Princess was definitely not a good idea.

"Really, Tycho, she is more than capable of handling Han Solo." When he was sure that he was not going to go after Solo, Wedge finally let Tycho's arm go.

He looked at Tycho shaking his head. The voices had stopped when the Princess and the smuggler stormed off in opposite directions. "You've only been with us for one day so you aren't used to it. She doesn't act like a Princess, all stand-offish and superior to everyone around her. She gets right into the middle of things and helps with any job around the base no matter how grubby. I guess we've gotten used to that and sometimes can forget that she is a Princess."

They had started to walk again, but that last statement brought Tycho to a dead stop. "Forget that she's a Princess?!" he sputtered, but couldn't continue, so foreign to his Alderaanian upbringing was that concept.

Wedge took Tycho by the elbow and propelled him forward toward the hangar again as he tried to explain the Princess to his new friend, "A lot of times, she will be down at the hangar helping with maintenance. She doesn't know a whole lot about mechanics, but she's happy to be handing you tools as you do your work. What she does for morale around here ought to be bottled; someone could make a mint."

During the time that he had been with the Rebellion, Wedge had had the opportunity to get to know Princess Leia. He had the greatest respect and highest regard for her, but he was honest enough with himself to recognize that he was only one of many of the pilots and other Rebel personnel who had a secret (or maybe not so secret) crush on her at one time or another. Still, most of them had been able to get past the fact that she was a Princess and thought of her as a friend. Again, these ruminations had crossed Wedge's mind in moments as he and Tycho walked.

Tycho still didn't seem convinced that Leia preferred to be treated like anything besides royalty, so Wedge pulled out one of his own favorite memories of her. "You should have seen her the day after we arrived here on Hoth. Everyone was supposed to be unloading the ships that had brought our supplies. We'd been at it for hours and I guess we were a little punchy. I came back into the main cavern from outside and tossed a snowball at Luke, but he ducked and it hit Leia in the shoulder." Wedge could see Tycho's eyes start to widen, but he continued, "She ran right outside, made a snowball, and nailed me with it, but good. Everyone else around joined in, the supplies were forgotten, and we had the best time firing snowballs all over the place. When the deck officer tried to call us to order, hers was the first snowball to hit him and we started all over again."

During the last part of this recitation, Tycho's mouth had fallen open in disbelief. Wedge couldn't help himself, he started laughing at both his own memory and Tycho's reaction to it. When he finally got himself back under control, Tycho was still openmouthed in shock. Wedge started in to the hangar, but over his shoulder he couldn't resist one more salvo at Tycho's pristine image of the Princess. "She plays a pretty mean hand of Sabacc, too."

As Wedge disappeared into the hangar, all Tycho could do was stand there and shake his head.

**********


"Wes," Wedge called as he came into the hangar, "has Luke come back in yet?"

Janson looked up from the snowspeeder he was working on, "No. You mean he's still out there? It's almost dark." He looked past Wedge and saw Tycho slowly following shaking his head. "What's the matter with him?"

Wedge glanced over his shoulder, "Oh, nothing he won't recover from. Has Han Solo been by here?"

Janson nodded, "Yeah, twice. The last time was just about five minutes ago. He was headed for the Tauntaun corral."

Luke should have been back hours ago, Wedge thought. "Have Tycho help work on the snowspeeders. I think we're going to need them sooner than we thought. I'm going to see what I can find out about Luke." He headed off to the Tauntaun corral, a knot of dread growing inside him.

**********


"Major Derlin!" Wedge called, "Have you found out anything about Commander Skywalker?"

Derlin turned to Wedge, "Captain Solo just left a few minutes ago to look for him. In their last radio contact, Commander Skywalker said something about checking out a meteorite that had landed near him. I think Captain Solo is heading for his last known position. Some other search teams are going out now, but they can't risk getting caught in the night blizzards so they won't be able to go very far before they'll be forced to turn back."

With effort, Wedge stifled the curse that came to his lips. "Do you think Captain Solo will be able to find him?"

"I hope so. If they aren't inside even the slight protection of a survival tent by the time the blizzards hit, they will both freeze to death."

He turned to go, but stopped when he saw the Princess standing by the boarding ramp of the Millenium Falcon looking as worried as he'd ever seen her. He went over to her and put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

"Oh, Wedge!" she said startled for a moment. "I hope Han will be able to find Luke out there ..."

Me too, he thought silently. "Just trust his Corellian luck. It wouldn't dare run out on him now." It was a pretty feeble attempt at comforting her, but she smiled at him gratefully.

They stood silently next to each other staring intently out the shield door for a minute or two. "The snowspeeders will be ready and we'll be out there looking for both of them at daybreak. I'd better get back to work on them. We'll find them; I promise."

"Thank you, Wedge."

He turned to go back to the hangar, but winced when he heard Chewbacca's wail as they closed the shield door for the night.

**********


True to his word, Wedge had the Rogues out searching for Han and Luke as soon as Hoth's sun began to creep over the horizon. They had been flying for about 45 minutes when his comm unit crackled, "This is Rogue Two. I've found them! Repeat, this is Rogue Two. I've found them!"

Wedge closed his eyes for a second, relief flooding through him. He was flying the rescue-equipped snowspeeder so he got Zev's coordinates and raced to the snowfield where Han and Luke had managed to survive the brutally cold night.

Zev had already landed and was helping Han get Luke ready for transport in the rescue speeder.

Time was still critical so Wedge did not get out of his crash webbing, but he did turn around to get a look at Luke. "What happened to him?!" Luke's face had huge bloody claw marks on it.

Han had climbed in after Luke had been settled in place and was talking to him, reassuring him that he would be alright as soon as they got back to base. He looked up at Wedge in the cockpit, "The whole night, he's been in and out of consciousness. Some of the time, he could talk, but it didn't make much sense. He did tell me that he was attacked by one of those snow creatures that had taken some of the Tauntauns when we first got to this freezing hellhole. But then he started calling out to Ben Kenobi. He's been gone for a long time, so I don't know what that was about, but it gave me the creeps."

Wedge didn't know what to make of it either. "Well, let's get him back to the medics. Maybe they can figure it out."

**********


The rest of the Rogues and the pilots of the other two squadrons were waiting for Wedge in the pilots' ready room. They pounced on him as soon as he walked through the door.

"How is he?"

"Is he going to be all right?"

"Was he really attacked by a snow monster?"

Wedge held up his hands to stop the barrage of questions, "He's going to be alright. Yes, he was attacked by a Wampa Ice Creature like the one that killed those Tauntauns. It killed the one Luke was riding and dragged them both to its lair. Luke apparently cut himself free using his lightsaber, but was too weak to make it back here. Han found him and got the shelter up just before the blizzard hit. He's going to have to be in the Bacta for about 12 hours or so. So don't bother going to the MedCenter; they'll just kick you out. Now, go make nuisances of yourselves someplace else."

The Rogues and the other pilots grumbled, but did as he asked. Tycho had slipped into the room and stood at the back as Wedge reported on Luke's condition. He was the last one in the room and was turning to leave when Wedge spotted him and called him back.

"With the uproar about Luke, I didn't really get a chance to talk to you about your assignment."

Tycho looked at Wedge apprehensively.

"No, it isn't anything terrible -- unless you would rather not join the Rogues." He directed a questioning glance at Tycho.

"Oh, no. I'd be honored to be a Rogue," he answered hastily.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far." Wedge grinned, "They're a bunch of lunatics, but they are the best pilots we've got. Luke wanted me to assign you to one of the squadrons that will be escorting the transports, but based on what I saw yesterday in the simulator, you would be wasted on escort duty. I still have to run it by Luke once he's out of the Bacta, but he won't waste a pilot with your skill."

Wedge clapped Tycho on the shoulder, "Welcome to the Rogues."

**********


Wedge went to see Luke in the MedCenter shortly after he'd been settled in a regular room after his Bacta dunking, but he'd been followed. The MedCenter staff had marked Luke's room 'No Visitors' after all of Rogue Squadron had descended on the place en masse. They had promptly been kicked out for disturbing the other patients with their exuberance. He returned alone later and found Luke resting quietly, but not asleep.

"Hi, Luke. How are you feeling?" Wedge sat down in the visitor's chair.

"Hi, Wedge. Probably better than I look, but the TwoOneBees say that the scars on my face will continue to heal and in a few days you won't be able to tell that I'd been mauled by that monster. I'll be out of here tomorrow." He looked at Wedge questioning, "Is there something else you wanted to talk to me about?"

Wedge grinned, "Is that Jedi intuition at work?"

Luke didn't answer for a moment, "Yeah ... I think it might be. What is it?"

"It's Tycho. I had enough sense to have the simulator record his checkout exercise. I don't know if you will have enough time to review it, but you really should. I did show it to Hobbie since he and Biggs were at the Academy with Tycho. Hobbie agrees that Tycho would be wasted flying escort duty. With your approval, I'd like to have him in the Rogues. I've never seen anyone fly and shoot like he does besides you and me."

Luke knew that that wasn't ego talking. Wedge was a gifted pilot and the Alliance was lucky to have him. "Wedge, nothing was formalized before I went out and nearly became that Wampa's dinner, but now is as good a time as any. Since Rieekan has seen fit to put me in charge of our fighter units, I need an executive officer for Rogue Squadron. I'd like you to do it."

Wedge was taken aback, "Me? Luke, there are older, more experienced pilots ..."

Luke waved his objection away, "No, I want you to do it. In spite of what that sign on my door says, I haven't been just laying here staring at the ceiling. A lot of people have come in to talk to me; Leia, Han, the Chief, Major Derlin ... They all told me how you kept the Rogues and more than a few others around here focused on what had to be done. I wouldn't be here talking to you if those snowspeeders hadn't been finished so you could come out and bring me back. That is the kind of help, the kind of executive officer I need. You've already been doing the job; you just didn't realize it. I've already told General Rieekan and he doesn't have any objections. Will you do it?"

Wedge was still in shock, but slowly nodded.

"Good. Then if my XO says Tycho should be a Rogue, he'll be a Rogue. I know the Rogues will be in good hands if something happens to me."

Wedge's eyes snapped to Luke's face ... and found Luke looking back at him, stunned. "I wonder what made me say that?"

"More Jedi intuition?" Wedge asked uneasily.

"It might be ... It might be. I ... just ... know that it is very important for you to be my XO." The strange moment passed and Luke tried to put Wedge at ease again. "Why don't you go make sure those clowns aren't causing havoc. I'll be back tomorrow," he said with mock severity, "and I'll expect you to have them whipped into line."

Wedge tried shrug off the strange turn their conversation had taken, "Okay, Luke. Shall I have them line up for inspection?" They both laughed at the absurdity of that notion. "I'll see you tomorrow."

He left the MedCenter still a little shaken and asking himself, Why do I have this weird feeling that I won't be an XO for very long?

THE END (Or not...)


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