|Dark Empire II|
Dark Empire II was a series of comic books written by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy, the sequel to Dark Empire. It was originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1994 and 1995 as a 6-issue monthly series, then in August 1995 as a trade paperback. In 1995, Time Warner Audio Publishing presented an audio dramatization of the comics known as the Dark Empire II audio drama on cassette. Like the old NPR radio dramas, it featured a full cast of actors, parts of John Williams' classic score and authentic stereo sound effects.
The Empire in retreat, Luke Skywalker is on a quest to rebuild the Jedi. But before he can revive that elite corps of protectors, he must first rebuild himself! He has spent time as the Emperor's thrall, and the taint of the dark side still tugs at his subconscious. Can he pull together the Jedi, can he pull himself together, before the New Republic loses the upper hand, or will the Empire take root once more?
With the defeat and "death" of the Emperor, and with the blunting of the threat of the World Devastators, hammer of Operation Shadow Hand, the Empire has retreated and lies quiescent. In this period of relative peace, Luke Skywalker has begun the preliminary operations to restore the Jedi Order. With the recently redeemed Dark Jedi Kam Solusar, Luke returns to Pinnacle Base.
However, the Empire's new leading general, Executor Sedriss, leads an attack force on Balmorra. Balmorra had been independent after the Battle of Endor, but following Palpatine's reappearance had become the Empire's main producer of AT-STs. Now with the Emperor's apparent death, they rebelled.
In order to not damage Balmorra's factories, Sedriss lands AT-STs, stormtroopers and Umak Leth's SD-9s on the planet. Governor Beltane sends out the SD-10s with all the SD-9s' attack strategies in their databanks. When Balmorra had thrown everything against Sedriss, he unleashes Shadow Droids, another of Umak Leth's creations: droid fighters with the brains of fallen Imperial aces empowered by the Dark Side of the Force. After they destroyed the SD-10s, Beltane sends out his hidden project, the X-1 Viper Automadon: droids with the molecular shield capable of absorbing enemy fire and redirecting it through the droid's turbolasers. Beltane sold it to the Empire in exchange for freedom. Sedriss planned to later destroy Beltane once he had control of those droids and their creators.
At Pinnacle Base, Luke brings in Kam. Mon Mothma issues a meeting that Beltane had arranged for the Rebel Alliance to intercept the shipment of his droids en route to Byss. Wedge had a better plan: to let the shipment go through to Byss, but controlled by Rebels. Luke suggests that instead the droids should be used to liberate worlds so the Alliance can launch an all-out attack. But everyone voted for Wedge's plan. Mothma told Luke that they must strike at the heart of the Empire while he tries to restore the Jedi Knights. The Holocron reveals the location of Ossus, an ancient Jedi world that was beautiful until it was destroyed by the Dark Side. There might be some artifacts lying there. Solo and Leia depart as well, back to Nar Shaddaa. They hope to track down Vima-Da-Boda, and draw upon her ancient knowledge, then head for seclusion with their children to New Alderaan.
On Byss, the Executor Sedriss, returned from his inconclusive battle against Balmorra, discovered that Dark Side adepts Nefta and Sa-Di were killing the remaining clones of Palpatine and had ordered Sedriss' execution for his failure at Balmorra. Slaying them for their treason, Sedriss discovered that their killings had been futile: the Emperor had already been reborn, exceeding everyone's expectations. Upon his return, the Emperor ordered Operation Shadow Hand re-commenced.
On Nar Shaddaa, Salla Zend, Han's former girlfriend, managed to guide the Millennium Falcon through the Duro sector in order to escape the Imperial Star Destroyer over the Corellian sector. Meanwhile, Boba Fett was being harassed the two Dark Side Elite, Zasm Kath and Baddon Fass who were planning on making him work for nothing. However, Fett was able to escape the darksiders. As the Falcon arrived in, Shug and Salla's hidden repair center ran by Shug Ninx was taken over by Stormtroopers.
After an intense fight, one of Shug's 'prized cruisers' was destroyed. With only a space truck left, Salla and Shrug plan to head off to Byss to recover the Starlight Intruder. After being confronted by an array of bounty hunters, including a clan of Gank killers, and the news that the Hutt clans had doubled the bounty on them, they had little choice but to head into the lowest levels of the city where Vima-Da-Boda lived. When they arrive back at the garage, they discover a brigade of stormtroopers on the Falcon and a droid message telling them Salla and Shrug have "left the moon for good". Using the garage's secret access chute, the Falcon flies down to the heart of the city, unfortunately where Boba Fett had patiently waited for the Millennium Falcon to take off. In the ensuing battle, Han managed to shatter a stabilizer on Slave I, causing Fett to veer out of control.
After an hour and seven wrong turns, their second attempt at penetrating the depths had greater luck; they had just found Vima-Da-Boda when Fett attacked again. His assault was defeated when Chewbacca ignited his jet-pack (a repeat of Fett's earlier undoing), and the Falcon soon took off again. However, their immediate departure was sabotaged by Mako Spince who from his perch in the Traffic Control spire forwarded their location to the waiting darksiders aboard the Star Destroyer. The Destroyer locked on with a tractor beam, and the Millennium Falcon was about to be caught in its firm grip. Taunted by Spince, Han figured out a clever dodge: he piloted the Falcon under the spire and the beams inexorably ripped off the spire and pulled it into the Star Destroyer itself, killing Spince and destroying the engines and engineers of the ISD. Lacking engineers, and in a decaying orbit, the Destroyer plunged into the surface of Nar Shaddaa, killing all hands aboard, as well as millions of Nar Shaddaa residents.
Palpatine dispatches Sedriss and Vill Goir to capture Skywalker and Solusar, who had journeyed to Ossus in a search for ancient Jedi artifacts. There, they found two young Force-sensitive children, Rayf and Jem Ysanna, tied to a tree. When Luke sets them free, the youths continue to think that Luke plans to kill them and run to the rest of their tribe. The Ysanna use concussion arrows and the Force in an attempt to defeat the two Jedi, but their inexperienced and clumsy attacks proved easy for the Jedi to hold off. Seeing they've met their match, the Ysanna Chief Okko gives Luke a 'Ysanna bear hug'.
Suddenly, an Imperial Long-range hunter lands and dispatches Stormtroopers led by Goir and Sedriss. Solusar quickly kills Goir, but Sedriss, outmatched by Skywalker, takes Jem hostage, backing against a tree. When he felt her trying to use the Force against him, he plans to make a darksider out of her. To all the combatants' immense surprise, the tree turned out to be a millennium-old Jedi Master named Ood Bnar. Sedriss and Bnar faced off. The two perished in the ensuing explosion of Force energy which Bnar created. However, even in his death, Bnar had protected his cache of ancient lightsabers—a gift to the would-be Jedi and a future Neti in his place. With the aid of the Ysanna, Luke discovered precisely what he had hoped for: an intact Jedi library.
Elsewhere, Lando Calrissian and a team of Rebel commandos were hiding aboard a shipment of War Droids space-bound for Byss. Meanwhile, the Emperor was impressed by the new superweapon at his disposal, the Galaxy Gun. This weapon, kept near the protection of Byss could allow him to obliterate anything in the galaxy. When he received word of Sedriss' and Goir's deaths, he replaced them with Xecr Nist and Tedryn-Sha, empowering the two with the Dark Side of the Force.
However, the War Droid shipment arrives, and the Rebel commandos use them to attack the Emperor's Citadel. Initially, the Rebel assault is successful, as the droids prove to be superior to the Citadel defenses, but their success is halted when Palpatine unleashes the Chrysalides; Rancors mutated by Sith alchemy into crazed, nigh-invulnerable dervishes of destruction. The Rebel force is decimated, and only rescued at the last moment by a force of smugglers led by Salla Zend and Shug Ninx.
They were allowed to escape by the Emperor, who was secretly tracking them, planning to destroy their destination with the now ready Galaxy Gun. Da Soocha V was ultimately destroyed by the weapon. Luke Skywalker and the other Jedi in Luke's Jedi Explorer narrowly avoided being killed, as they would have landed had they not seen the projectile.
Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon was still trying to escape the bounty hunters. Unable to effectively fight back, as Boba Fett destroyed one of the Falcon's missile launchers, the Falcon flies through a radioactive gas cloud, stumbling upon the forgotten and nebula-hidden world of Ganath. There, they meet its ruler, a Jedi Knight named Empatojayos Brand. There, they repair the Millennium Falcon, equipping it with an antique weapon called the Lightning gun, hopefully sufficient to defeat Slave I which still lurked outside the cloud.
The Lightning Gun proves to be enough, and they defeat Fett yet again, who tumbled into the gas cloud and faked his death. Han Solo and Princess Leia then take refuge with their infant twins on the planet New Alderaan. There, Luke explains about a great Jedi power known as battle meditation. They plan to regroup with Lando and Wedge...if they were still alive. Han and Chewbacca left the planet to search for them. During the night, Luke had a terrible nightmare that he and Darth Vader were one. Little did he know that robotic bugs were injecting poison into his veins. He woke up and saw two darksiders ready to kill him. Jem Ysanna and Leia defeated the two darksiders but Jem was killed. Vima saw what happened and saved Luke.
Meanwhile, three other darksiders were kidnapping Leia's twins. Luckily, Brand, Kam and Rayf were on the scene and engaged them. After the fighting was over, Jem joined the Force as Rayf cried over her lost form. Suddenly, a bunch of AT-ATs attacked and began destroying the settlement. Thankfully, Han arrived with Salla, Shug and an X-wing battle group based in a nearby system. Destroying the AT-ATs and evacuating the village, the four freighters and three X-wings jumped into hyperspace. The Rebels had relocated to the space stations above Nespis VIII, where Luke and Kam have their confrontation and find out that the Alliance evacuated Pinnacle Base before it was destroyed. There Anakin Solo is born and the Alliance plots to bring about the final destruction of the Empire.