I know, it's not Rogue's Gallery, but It's what I've been working on. Hope this version is better:
A series of one-shots dealing with possible changes in Wedge’s life in the spirit of the Star Wars: Infinities comics.
Head to Head: A Different Trench Run.
There was no way out.
After the middle TIE fired on him and his controls turned to sludge, Wedge knew he was done for.
Luke seemed to feel otherwise, and ordered him to clear the trench.
“Get clear, Wedge. You can't do any more good back there.”
Can't do any more good? Wedge thought, Kriff that. Except for Syal and Mirax, everyone I know is either dead, incarcerated, or right here. The Imps just hacked most of my squadron out of the air, Luke's making a run for the exhaust port, and Biggs won't stay alive long enough to cover him when I go. I'll be dammed if I do nothing.
Time seemed to slow as he came to a realization, and his veins turned to ice at the prospect.
I have nothing to lose. The Imps have a whole dammed battlestation on the line.
It was the work of a microsecond in that icy state for Wedge to decide on his course of action:
“Plug,” Wedge growled to his R2 unit as he kept an iron grip on the stick, “Get ready to kill the ethertic rudder and set both of my torps for proximity detonation. I've got a plan.”
“Wedge?” Luke's voice came frantically through the scratchy comm, “Why haven't you left yet?”
“Just picking a good time.” he murmured back, abstractedly calm, “Picking... a good...time...”
The Incom Corporation has much to answer for, Vader thought as he tried to reacquire the annoyingly rugged X-Wings maneuvering desperately in the trench's tight confines.
The Dark Lord stewed under his armor, noting the fighter he had damaged was still keeping pace with its wingman, still screening its wingmates with smoke and sparks puffing from vessel's tail and dissipating into the vacuum of the Death Star's Polar Trench, further disrupting his target lock.
These Rebel pilots are more skilled than Intelligence said they would be. Isard has...Disappointed me...
The Dark Lord briefly amused himself by wondering which pilots were smugglers, which were Imperial defectors, and which ones were stupid enough to be idealists before pushing such idle thoughts out of his mind. The rebels would be irrelevant in seconds, anyway.
They would be dead.
That thought brought satisfaction as he stretched out with his senses, only to be taken aback at the sheer Force presence emanating from the leader. Clearly untrained, but shining like a beacon and practically screaming out a challenge to Vader.
His cracked lips formed a brief, painful smile beneath the glassy-eyed obsidian mask.
At last, a challenge from someone worthy, unlike that decrepit relic Kenobi.
The brief distraction from the damaged snubfighter would prove to be Vader's undoing. A second was an eternity in space combat...
“Okay Plug!” Wedge shouted to his astromech, “Do it now!”
The droid tootled an acknowledgment, and Wedge dropped the throttle to zero while pulling back on the stick, trying to maneuver the craft in a manner it hadn't been designed for...
“The force is strong with this one.” Vader mused, so distracted by the leader's Force presence that he didn’t notice a change in the damaged fighter until it had dramatically swapped nose-for-tail and headed directly for him.
The Dark Lord noticed just in time to see the sleek gray and red fighter vomit two torpedoes at him before spiraling off drunkenly into open space, its engines sparking and spitting flame.
Impossible! Vader raged, and stretched out with a knife of his anger towards the speeding projectiles, frantically firing his guns and searching for the missiles' activation circuit. Finally, he clenched an outstretched fist trying to push them out of the way.
Any other pilot would have been vaporized. As it was, Vader nearly triumphed. He destroyed the first torpedo and disabled the activation mechanism of one missile and dodged it, but the dead torpedo corkscrewed into one of his wingmen, punching a hole straight through the cockpit and killing the man with pure kinetic energy. The torp that he hit exploded instantly, shredding Vader's shields and making him twitch ever so slightly into the pilotless TIE, which in turn knocked the TIE Advanced out of control and into the trench wall.
The millisecond it took for Darth Vader, Sith Lord and right hand of the Emperor to hit the trench wall was filled an eternity of fear. But somewhere, deep down, the weakened embers of a man once named Anakin Skywalker stirred, and acknowledged a worthy adversary as he became one with the universe and took the third TIE with him.
“You're all clear, Luke!” Wedge crowed jubilantly he sped away from the Death Star, “Now blow this thing!”
Then his comm failed, and the last green lights in his cockpit display turned amber. The powerless fighter sailed off into the void propelled only by its inertia.
Wedge exhaled deeply and relaxed into his chair, only to be bathed in the corona of light from the Death Star exploding less than a minute.
Alone with the universe, the unusually restrained Corellian reverted to type, whooping with joy and pumping his fist triumphantly. At the end of the day, he'd saved two of his wingmates and had pulled off a manuver that gave veteran pilots nightmares just thinking about it.
Just when Wedge started to worry if he'd be rescued, two carbon-scored X-Wings formed up on either side as the ventral section of a battered YT-1300 settled into view above him.
YAVIN 4 MAIN HANGAR
FOUR HOURS LATER
Half of Yavin Base was drunk. The other half was on the way, and the favors from the revelers for standing watch sober had made some abstentious Rebels very wealthy. The only problem was that the two men of the hour were each insisting that the other had made the greater contribution.
Luke insisted that he never could have made that shot if Wedge hadn't scraped the TIEs off of them, and Wedge maintained that he'd never have been able to land the hit as well as the farmboy from Tatooine. The lum had been drunk, and now bottles of rotgut Whyren's were being passed around.
As the base staff, and the raid's few survivors; Wedge and Luke, Keyan Farlander and Biggs Darklighter, toasted the twenty some others who didn't make it back, the names Skywalker and Antilles became immortalized that night.
“Seriously, Antilles, one hell of a piece of flying.” Solo says for the fifth time, still genuinely impressed, “Chewie and I could use you the next time we make the Kessel Run. Teach those Imperial slugs a thing or two about flyin' like a Corellian.”
“By which you mean like a Bantha that's been in the sun too long?” Biggs asks, and he and Luke dissolve into laughter as the smuggler knocks back another tumbler of Whyren's and Han attempts to explain how the even the hypothetical Bantha would be able to outfly the Imperials.
With the amount of alcohol he's taken on board, Wedge is amazed the older man is still speaking coherently.
Just like he wonders: What was Solo doing near the trench. A sudden attack of conscience?
Wedge almost asks Han to stay, almost tells him, “I used to be a smuggler too, practically raised by Booster Terrik.” In the end, he decided not to. Wedge had ran guns and spice to escape his problems until life hurt him so badly that there was nothing else but the Alliance. It had saved him.
Solo wasn't there yet, and with the money to pay off Jabba sitting in his hold, Wedge doubted he would be desperate enough anytime soon.
“Lieutenant Antilles?” It's a soft voice in his ear, and Wedge turns to see the Alderaanian Princess behind him, still looking beautiful in the simple white dress she had worn that morning. She was smiling with her mouth, but her eyes looked hard and tired.
“It's just Wedge tonight,” he said, indicating a blank uniform collar “No décor at a time like this.”
“Call me Leia,” She said, smiling for real this time, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news Wedge, but you may want to find some insignia. General Dodonna wants to see you in the command center for debriefing. If you can walk there.”
Wedge gulped, stared down at the tumbler in his hand, grabbed another from a tray and extended it to the princess.
“I'll have one for the road. You'll need this.”
He raised his glass, and the room quieted.
Wedge spoke four quiet words, “To justice for Alderaan.”
A stab of pain flashed across Leia's face, turning into resolve as she heard the rest of the Rebels echo the toast.
As normal conversations resumed, Wedge pointing the Princess to a thick knot of people containing Luke, Han and Biggs. She turned to thank him, but the young Corellain had already left.
YAVIN 4 COMMAND CENTER
“We're not out of drinks yet,” said the General, as he tries to set the young pilot at ease, “And you'll get some really nice medals tomorrow, but before we go back to business as usual, I need to figure out why we lost so many fighters on the final approach. That's why you're here.”
Wedge nods, trying to clear the whiskey fumes, and focused on his memories of the battle.
The only clue seemed to be the unique TIE model. It had gone on a rampage, cutting down pilots left and right until Wedge had gotten desperate enough to go head-to-head. But if it was a secret weapon, more could be produced, further endangering the Alliance's cause.
“Any footage of the pilot I vaped in the head-to-head?” Wedge asked.
“We'll check,” replied Dodonna, “ Mr. Deben,” he said to a nervous tech manning a computer terminal, “Access Antilles' flight recorder, and take us through his inversion maneuver, frame by frame.”
“The three men watched a pilot's eye view of Wedge's risky maneuver as the playback advanced slowly, and the view jerked toward the cockpit of the other craft.
“Got a look at the cockpit.” The tech muttered, “I just need to clean it up, and...”
Jan Dodonna saw the black lensed mask of Darth Vader staring back at him. Then the entire command center saw their seasoned sixty-year-old commander use some very outdated, anatomically impossible slang terms. While the two younger men stared goggled incredulously at the screen.
“Lock the room down!” barked the General, “We need to decide what to do with this.”
“I-I...” Stammered Wedge, now at a loss for words.
“The footage shows you vaping Darth Vader with that crazy maneuver.” General Dodonna said gently, patting him on the shoulder, “Fine work, son. Fine work.”
The young pilot gulped, “So, I get a medal or something?”
“High Command will probably thinking more about a propaganda tour, pull you off the front lines...'Blah blah blow for freedom Blah Blah, felt for years down the line.' That sort of thing.”
“No sir.” Wedge said, and the General's bushy eyebrows shot up “I didn't kill Vader. Not right now, at any rate. My friends are here, and Wes is getting over his bout of fever. We've got Imps to vape and I'm not going anywhere. Besides,” He said, beckoning the General closer, “Word gets out that I killed Vader, then they come after me personally. They check my background and find out that Coruscanti actress Wynssa Starflare is really my sister Syal, and her life isn't worth a dicred.”
Dodonna nodded, “What about Vader then? Acknowledging his death would be a great boon for our cause.”
Wedge's expression hardened, lending his youthful face an uncharacteristic maturity; “I killed a lot of people yesterday sir, in the battle. It'll never be more than that, and it won't bring the rest of Red Squadron back. I'll tell Luke that the man who killed General Kenobi is dead, and once I'm standing here next to my sister, you can announce whatever you want.” He paused significantly,
The older man smiled beneath his beard, “A Corellian. Who doesn't want to brag about shooting down the most feared pilot in the galaxy? With that kind of self-control you'll be standing where I am about ten years.”
“Me sir?” the younger man's hardened expression vanished, replaced by a grin, “A General? We'd be pretty kriffed if it came to that. I hate doing paperwork.”
“It's nice to have a good adjutant to foist it off on.” Dodonna intoned sagely.
“Thank you Lieutenant, you're dismissed. Go on back to your friends, and enjoy the party while you can. I think we'll be moving soon.”
“Yes Sir!” Antilles sketched an enthusiastic salute, and left the General to his office and his thoughts.
The Alliance had won a huge victory today, and Jan Dodonna could almost feel as if the galaxy was spinning just a little bit differently.
END of Part 1. Hope you liked it. I tried for more completion and character moments. Not sure if there should be a second chapter or if I should go to another universe and keep them as oneshots. I have a few ideas...
"These are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."