The Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire
Five years after Endor and the death of the Emperor, the Empire was in bad shape. There had been successors who had ruled the Empire, or tried to. Pestage, the Tribune, Ysanne Isard. Under them it splintered, warlords like Teradoc and Zsinj splitting off on their own to fight them and the New Republic. The Empire just kept losing people and worlds, rarely if ever winning any important battles. And then the last of the Grand Admirals came back from the Unknown Regions. Alien. Analytical. Awesome.
"I am Grand Admiral Thrawn. I have been away, but now I have returned. I know some of what has occurred. You will fill in the details of the rest when I come aboard. Rejoice, Captain, for the Empire will rise again." - A Grand Admiral Returns
Each of these is twenty-four pages.
Luke wakes up with Mara standing over him. She says "Don't like it, do you? Suddenly losing everything that made you special." He realizes that his Jedi senses are gone. Luke then thanks her for saving him, and she tells him to save it, since the only question now is whether to turn him over to the Imperials or just kill him. Then she has him walk out, saying "Try to escape and I'll kill you."
She marches him to where Talon Karrde is lounging in a room under a giant tree. His vornskyrs, Drang and Sturm - get the German? - growl at Luke despite Karrde telling them to be easy, so he has one of his people lead them off.
The Falcon lands on Abregado, and since Threepio is still complaining about impersonating Leia, so they get Lando to undo the programming. Lando tells Han that he and Winter should have worked out a better verbal code, and hopefully this is the last contact and the guy shows. The bit of Abregado they're on seems to be a canal city. They see someone's ship being impounded.
They're supposed to take a table near the casino, one of them saying that last time he was at Abregado-rae it was worse than Mos Eisley. They go, leaving Threepio, and see someone they recognize playing sabbac. Lando wishes he knew why the Imperials wanted Leia. Han says they want the twins. That's why they didn't use stun weapons at any point.
They can cause miscarriage. Then the two see planetary security officials coming into the casino, and realize why the guy they recognize is hiding at a sabacc table. It must be connected to that impoundment. Han gets some sabbac chips.
Long story short, he joins the game, drops a lot of hints, it's found that he was dealt a cheating card, and the game gets broken up. They take the guy they recognize back to the Falcon and find that the impounded ship is his boss's. There's a drop about how Han "stole" the Falcon from Lando. They get the man to take them to Talon Karrde, on the promise that they'll get that ship out of impoundment.
Mara drives Luke out of the cell he was being kept in, saying "We've got company coming, and we don't have any formal wear your size." She gets him into a sort of storage closet and shoots the door interface so it closes behind her. He examines the interface and determines that it's locked and he'll need another power source.
Meeting Karrde, Han and Lando pitch the shipping proposal, and he politely declines since it would look like he was taking sides. They then ask if he knows a really good slicer, and he says one will be at dinner. Which they attend.
The slicer is Ghent, who has long blue hair and really likes Han's heroism, going on about the time Han and Chewie attacked a slave ship and turned the ship over to the slaves. Karrde and Mara are called away for a bit, and Lando thinks he's seen Mara before. She wasn't a smuggler then, but he's not sure when that was.
Thrawn ends the call, saying he looks forward to their meeting, and three shuttles leave the Star Destroyer. Karrde rubs the back of his neck, and tells Mara to alert the others that they've got Imperial guests. The Falcon needs to be moved deeper under cover. Mara wants him to turn over Han and Lando, but Karrde says no. They are his guests; that means they are under his protection. Mara wants to know if he'll give them Skywalker. Karrde says he's not going to bargain with an Imperial Star Destroyer overhead. She doesn't agree, but she accepts his decision. It's going to be an interesting afternoon, he says.
He finds a small ship and takes off in it. Mara sees and pursues, of course.
Luke's sensors pick up on the Star Destroyer and Mara, and he goes evasive, shearing the tops off some trees.
He then flies over some really nice scenery in a two-page spread, saying "Hang on! I'm going to pull a drop-kick Kologran turn!" He fails and crashes. Oh, Luke.
Luke gets himself and Artoo out of the crash and see that Mara's ship also went down. He goes to take a look and whoops, Mara is there, holding a blaster on him and saying "I knew you'd come."
She tells him to stay there and keep his hands where she can see them, then sees a shuttle.
They hide in the woods while it lands and stormtroopers file out. Then the stormtroopers look into the crashed ships, board their shuttle again, and take off. Mara knows they left a sensor behind, so she and Luke and the droid will have to get moving, but quietly.
Lando and Han ask Karrde what that was about, accusing him of working for the Empire now. Ghent apologizes and said that they insisted on coming out and watching. Karrde tells the two that he doesn't work for the Empire, he just helps them collect ysalamiri. Han wants to know what the Grand Admiral's name will cost them. It's not for sale. They can't leave until the Star Destroyer does. Han makes a lame excuse about leaving something on the Falcon, and they turn away.
They go to inspect the storage shed with the prisoner, which is now empty, and see that the prisoner was tampering with the equipment. Talon Karrde catches Han looking through the room with the droid restraint collar. "You seem to have gotten lost. And to have lost General Calrissian along the way."
It's night. Luke says the forest reminds him of Endor, how it sounds so busy at night. Mara tells him that vornskrs are nocturnal. They hunt at night anyway. Artoo picks up on something, and a black vornskr with a red mouth goes after Luke.
Tailless vornskrys = neutered vornskrs? The "Jedi mind control" Mara thinks about there isn't control of other people's minds, it's how quickly he seems to relax. This is much clearer in the book.
Karrde stands atop a building with Sturm and Drang. One of his people comes up, is asked if Solo and Calrissian got bedded down, and tells him that they went back to the ship, not being trustful. Karrde doesn't blame them, and says maybe pulling Skywalker's computer logs will convince them he's on their side. Sort of. He doesn't have much choice; they're his guests. A search party must be organized for tomorrow; if they don't get to them first, they need to take them from the stormtroopers. Karrde's guy thinks that won't be hard. Lots of his people think highly of Skywalker for saving them from Jabba. Karrde says that's a problem. If they can't get them away from the Imperials, they can't let them take them alive. One way or another, his life here is at an end.
Another Nohgri grabs her from behind, but lets her go after catching her scent, saying "Mal'ary'ush!" Chewbacca grabs the Nohgri, and Leia tells him not to kill him, so he just gets knocked out. Ralrra appears with a bloody sword and says the other three have been dealt with. Chewbacca was wounded.
They climb down under the city, but Nohgri in an airspeeder find them. Leia ties her lightsaber to a vine and swings it so that it takes them out.
I love regal!Leia. Don't know why she's still wearing her night stuff, though.
Rather formally she lets Khabarakh go. She's not really happy about it, but she can't dodge them forever, and she has to take any chance to get them out from Imperial control. Leia then attends part of the memorial period for Salporin, who had a somewhat bigger role in the book. Parts are Wookiees-only, and she spends them getting the Lady Luck ready to fly, even if it's not safe to leave. She has to go back to Coruscant and begin a records search on the Nohgri. "Will this war never end?"
On Myrkr, Mara shoots another vornskr off of Luke. He says she's gone two days without sleep. She won't give him his lightsaber, though. They go and set up the sonde balloon, and Mara thinks "Jedi!", seeing Luke lie down and go to sleep while he waits.
Artoo wants to wake Luke up, Mara says that the message can just be replayed for him later. The recording Artoo picked up from the sonde balloon is of Threepio, and it boils down to the fact that stormtroopers are waiting in Hyllyard City, Karrde told them an ex-employee stole the Skipray with a current employee in pursuit. He didn't say Jade was a woman, so they should think about switching roles. They're working on a plan to get them out. Luke says it's a good idea, and Mara says she knew he was faking. Then a vornskr attacks Mara.
It knocks the lightsaber away, and while Luke distracts and Mara tries to keep its jaws away it it just whips him with its tail. He tells Artoo to grab the tail.
Artoo does, but his manipulator arm just gets torn off. This bought Luke enough time to grab his lightsaber and kill the vornskr. Mara gets up, trains her blaster on him, and demands to know what stupid game he was playing. "I didn't think you'd like your hands cut off if I missed." "Just drop the lightsaber and move back." "Didn't you notice that Artoo and I just saved your life?" "I noticed. Thank you."
On that Star Destroyer, Thrawn checks on reports. No word from Myrkr. At Sluis Van, there are 112 warships, 65 being used as cargo carriers. Pellaeon thinks this is the kind of operation they should use C'baoth on, but Thrawn says they don't need him. Careful timing will work fine. C'baoth says he doesn't want power, but he lies. He wants Leia and her twins, and once he has them he'll be no more threat than any other fool.
They test the cloaking shield of a small freighter, close enough to see outside of the viewport. Activated, it's still completely visible from the viewport. Thrawn is very pleased. Alert the task force; the operation has a green light. The Sluis Van ships are theirs.
Next issue, and the last for this book.
Artoo projects a map, and Mara and Luke look it over. Luke plans to walk right in, since the Imperials are going to try and ring them. All that's left is a bluff, and better bluff, better chance. Mara reluctantly agrees to the role-switch thing and gives Luke her blaster. He says they'll probably check if it's loaded, and she even more reluctantly hands over the power pak and his lightsaber. He puts the lightsaber into Artoo's smuggling compartment, and Mara says she'd wondered how he smuggled it into Jabba's.
They head off, with Horible Blister Victim Luke training a blaster on Mara as she hauls Artoo. Scout troopers on speeder bikes ride up and tell them to identify themselves.
Luke is Jade, a bounty hunter with a prisoner. The scout troopers take them to an officer.
The officer tells his people to cuff both of them, saying that for the moment they're both prisoners. And what happened to him, anyway? "Ran into some kind of bush." "How inconvenient. Fortunately, we have a fully qualified medic back at HQ." The Imperials load everyone into a speeder and head back to the city.
In the city, one of Karrde's people have bound up Han and turn him over, as someone suspicious they found in the forest, to the officer, who doesn't recognize him. Han gets put with Luke and tells him that he's got friends. Luke trips Artoo and tells him to call to Threepio and tell him to wait until they're at a stone archway to attack. The officer is suspicious.
So Lando triggers the traps then, and the Imperials cover their prisoners and take defensive positions while being shot at. These are Zahn's Imperials, after all. They're professionals. Han gets out of his bindings to cause a distraction, and gets Luke's hands free.
Luke flings his lightsaber up so that it spins, and the archway crashes down on the remaining Imperials while our heroes run out of the way.
Oh, Wedge. Snubfighter jockeys get no respect.
That freighter he was suspicious of comes apart, and it's full of TIE fighters that had been hidden by the cloaking shield. And fifty truncated cone-shaped things. Five Star Destroyers also jump into the system with twenty smaller ships. The Falcon towing Luke's X-Wing appears and is appraised of the situation. Luke takes a gunwell, suspecting that the cone things are Lando's missing mole miners.
Thrawn knows this is the Falcon towing an X-Wing. Karrde will have a lot to answer for.
Wedge congratulates Rogue Five for good shooting, then flies by a ship that has a mole miner on it. The ship fires on him; since he's Wedge Antilles, he dodges. Luke in the Falcon shoots a TIE that was chasing him.
They see more mole miners and follow. One latches onto a frigate, and they see that they're burning through the hulls and getting through to the bridge emergency escape hatches. The Falcon and the Rogues decide to go after the remaining twelve unattached mole miners. A space trooper comes out of one of them and shoots.
Wedge shoots the space trooper, and they head off to hit more mole miners. Thrawn monitors the battle, micromanaging the fight against one assault frigate. He wants it intact. Pellaeon tells him that forty-three mole miners have attached to target ships. Thirty-nine are secure, four are still struggling with internal resistance. Thrawn says that it's time to withdraw. The captured ships are on their way.
Our heroes see what's going on. They get Lando up out of sickbay, saying that since on Nkllon when the Imperials stole the mole miners they were jamming everything, and most of the miners were on radio remote. Lando sends the signal to start them all running. This makes the ones that are still radio-controlled burn through the ships.
Next up is Dark Force Rising.
Why is the tag "Heir of the Empire"? And why have a tag for it at all? Only two posts will ever use it.