Shadows of the Empire
Shadows of the Empire is a 1996 "multimedia project" set in the Star Wars franchise. It takes place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and relates the adventures of the protagonists to rescue Han Solo, and also discover the Death Star plans. Meanwhile the new villain Prince Xizor seeks the death of Luke Skywalker in order overthrow Darth Vader, taking his place as second to the Emperor.
By the term "multimedia project" it means that Lucasfilm followed the marketing policy that goes with the release of a supposed new movie (novelization, audio book, comic, video game, soundtrack, children story, action figures), but without the release of a movie. The project was followed by RPG sourcebooks that elaborated on the backgrounds of the characters and the planets mentioned in the story.
One of the major aspects of the franchise is that the main sources don't always follow each other, but each gives information not mentioned in the others. For example the comic book centers around Boba Fett and original character Wrenga Jixton, while the video game follows the adventures of original character Dash Rendar, the protagonist of the franchise. Of course at points the works introduce some inconsistencies.
The following summary narrates the full story of the Shadows of the Empire timeframe, composed by the novel, the comic and the video game.
The Battle of Hoth
Hotshot smuggler Dash Rendar, captain of the Outrider and mercenary-for-hire, Rendar agreed to deliver supplies to Hoth—in addition to the usual food supplies, Rendar's cargo also included assault blasters to be delivered to Princess Leia Organa. Rendar and his droid co-pilot Leebo took the Outrider to the system and were allowed to dock in Echo Base's hangar, where Rendar was surprised to run into Han Solo, who had become involved with the Rebellion since their last meeting.
However, Solo notified him that Imperial forces under the command of Darth Vader had entered the Hoth system and were moving to attack Echo Base. Unable to resist the battle (and still being paid) Rendar decided to help delay the Imperials while the Rebels evacuated. He instructed Leebo to load their cargo into the evacuating transports and to retrieve their payment. On Solo's recommendation, Commander Luke Skywalker agreed to let Rendar join Rogue Squadron for the upcoming battle. He took an unused T-47 snowspeeder into combat against the advancing Imperial ground forces.
In the ensuing battle, Dash flew in the Rogue Squadron against the approaching walkers, AT-ST and Viper probe droids, with Rendar succeeding in destroying one of the AT-AT walkers before the Imperials destroyed Echo Base's deflector shield generator and the Rebels were forced to withdraw. Han, Leia and Luke have escaped, but Dash is left behind. Rendar returned to Echo Base, calling ahead to instruct Leebo to have the Outrider ready to leave, but by the time he arrived, Imperial snowtroopers had overrun the facility and destroyed the main generators. Leebo contacted Rendar to warn him that the hangar doors could not be opened to allow the Outrider to leave until power was restored. Fighting his way through the Imperial forces, Rendar proceeded to the base's lower level and activated the emergency generators, restoring power to the hangar door. As he made his way back to Bay 3, Rendar found his way blocked by an AT-ST. Fighting his way past the Imperial walker, Rendar returned to the Outrider to find the ship had already been boarded by Imperials.
After killing the intruders, Rendar took the Outrider through the now open hangar door and away from the planet only to be stopped by one of the orbiting Star Destroyers, who launched TIE fighters and bombers. Leebo took control of the Outrider, leading it through the asteroid belt while Rendar used the ship's gun turret to fend off the attackers. After clearing the asteroids, the Outrider jumped to safety and Rendar rejoined the Rebels.
Later, as Empire Strikes Back narrates, Han Solo is captured on Bespin and frozen in carbonite, and then taken by Boba Fett to Jabba. Luke comes but fails to rescue them, and encounters Darth Vader. After losing his arm, he is told by Vader that he is his dead father. Eventually the protagonists escape with the help of Lando Carlissian, who betrayed Solo in the first place, and join the renegade Rebel fleet. On the Redemption Luke has a new cybernetic arm. Lando and Chewie take the Falcon and leave for Tatooine to prepare the rescue of Solo
Search for Boba Fett
Aboard the Redemption, Leia is informed that an Imperial Strike Cruiser has spotted the fleet; Rogue Squadron led by Wedge Antilles begins defending the Rebels in a space battle that their point remains secret. Leia meanwhile understands that Luke is different after his encounter with Vader and wonders what happened between them.
On the Executor, Vader is contacted by Palpatine who chastises him for his failure to capture Luke on Bespin. He then orders Vader to conclude shipping arrangements of the Death Star plans with the Black Sun crimelord Prince Xizor. On his way out, Xizor explains to Guri, that he intends to kill Luke and improve his prestige to the Emperor, while also discrediting Vader. Guri has made her arrangements with bounty hunters and Xizor is ready to meet Jabba.
Above Tatooine, Boba Fett who carries Han Solo in carbonite, exits hyperspace but discovers that a signal beacon -installed when he was on Cloud City- was activated; he has a dangerous encounter with IG-88D who intended to claim the bounty of Solo. Fett energizes the inertial dampers and finds himself behind the IG-2000, caught in a barrage of fire from the Slave I; Fett is forced into hiding. While in the comic IG-88D is supposedly destroyed, the video game reveals that the droid managed to limp off to Ord Mantell to search for spare parts for his ship in the planet's scrapyard.
Meanwhile Luke and Leia have already move on Tatooine, and reside in the abandoned hut of Ben Kenobi. Luke has performed a Jedi mind trick to the guard of a circus tent, and begins practicing his abilities on the acrobat string, while contemplating his training with Yoda, the Force, and meeting with Vader.
On Coruscant, Xizor is in his office and are introduced to his wealth and power and plans to overthrow Vader. Xizor orders Guri, his human replica droid, to hire the Pike sisters and then meets his lieutenant, Mayth Duvel who gives him a precious rare ruby from Nezriti Organization, which did not impress Xizor the least.
Vader tests his injured hand with an ASP-series droid while briefing his agent, Jix about his foresight that Luke will approach Jabba to rescue Han; Jix is sent to Tatooine and join Jabba's gang both to capture Luke, and ensure his survival. Finally, Vader concludes his meeting and arrangements with Xizor.
Search of Boba Fett
Dash is sent to seek out IG-88D, and interrogate him about the whereabouts of Boba Fett. Rendar gathered information on the skirmish and tracked IG-88 to Ord Mantell; IG-88 was in the main salvage plant, and he sealed the gate. Leebo programmed a hover train to kamikaze with the plant, allowing Rendar access who broke through the defenses and boarded the train on course with the processing plant. After a quick discussion with IG-88, information was gathered that Fett was on Gall, and the assassin droid opened fire. IG-88 was blasted after a skirmish, and fell to the ground.
When Lando Calrissian learns from Dash that Fett is on Gall, he meets Luke and Leia in Mos Eisley. Guri strangles Green
We see Xizor calling a meeting of all the Vigos where he had his aide, Guri throttle a traitor in front of the others as a warning to the other Vigos not to cross the Dark Prince.
The Rebels depart for Gall, where they meet up with Rogue Squadron and Dash. Meanwhile, the bounty hunters Bossk and Zuckuss attempt to join Boba and work together in order to share the bounty of Han, but he firmly refuses and shoots a sniper placed to shoot him, then his system warns him that Slave I has been breached.
The Battle of Gall
Dash Rendar, with Outrider, leads Leia on the Millennium Falcon with Lando, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO to the Slave I through the Grand Trench on Gall, while Rogue Squadron becomes entangled in a space battle against the dayside Star Destroyer. The Falcon reaches the spaceport, though Dash decides to leave since he was paid "only to guide, not shoot". However he lands into a valley on the planet's surface with Leebo guarding the ship, and moves on through the Smuggler's Canyon into the Enclave where he slices into the control computer to find out Fett's location.
With a jetpack, he flies across the Canyon and makes his way up to the hangars. On his way he steals an Imperial patrol skiff and faces an AT-ST. The explosion opens the vent shafts, and through them, Dash makes his way to the top of the tower Slave I is docked. Back to Slave I, Fett discovers 4-LOM and bounty hunters who attempt to steal the carbonite block of Han, but he makes short work of them. There Dash engages Fett in an air duel. With his jetpack blasted by Rendar, Fett crashes right into the Slave I. He then attacks Rendar with the ship's weapon but Dash disables the Slave.
The Rogues' luck could not last, however. Another wave of TIEs approached and a second Star Destroyer joined the battle. Boba notices the Falcon approaching and lifts off. The Falcon was badly damaged and withdraws. The Rogues decide to cut and run, preparing for a mock hyperspace jump. Plotting a course towards their base on the moon of Kile, Wes Janson's X-wing fires on Luke; his astromech droid had taken control of his ship, and Luke was forced to disable his fellow pilot's fighter. The mission had failed.
Eventually Luke finds that Janson's droid had been programmed by a technician to kill him; the technician is shot by Wedge and discovered that she was paid by Vader (actually by Guri). Leia decides to make contact to an underground organization in the hopes of finding out who is responsible. Unfortunately she decides to make contact with the Black Sun, unaware that Xizor is the one who wants Luke dead. Leia also asks Luke to go to Tatooine after Fett not knowing that Xizor expects so; she also secretly hires Rendar to follow and protect him.
Hunting the Assassins
Big Gizz, while on the town with his buds, is challenged by a mysterious stranger, Jix, in Mos Eisley. When Jix steals Spiker's swoop, Gizz is impressed with his willingness to cheat. Jabba just got a transmission that interfered with Jix's instructions to ensure Luke's survival: that Luke is there, and he is more useful dead. After a discussion in Chalmun's cantina that Dash overhears, Jix and the gang race over to kill Luke.
Meanwhile, Leia had already arranged a contact with Black Sun, on Rodia and meets their representative, Guri at the Next Chance casino with Lando and Chewbacca nearby. The initial meeting achieves little, with Guri claiming that she has business to attend and has to cut the meeting short, however it does leave the Rebels with the distinct impression that there was something unusual about her.
At Ben Kenobi's hut, Luke tests the new lightsaber he has constructed according to the instructions from a book he found inside. Once the swoop bikers arrive, Luke deflects several blaster bolts before he slashes aside one of the riders and steals a bike within the twists and turns of Beggar's Canyon with Dash coming behind. When Spiker gets a clear shot at Luke, Jix rams his swoop into Spiker's to keep Luke alive. Although Jix breaks a leg in the crash, Spiker is nearly dead. Gizz falls from his bike and levels his rifle at Luke; he's struck in the skull with a rock by Jix.
Meanwhile Fett hides in an asteroid field when 4-LOM resumes operation. Before Fett disables him once more, Bossk picks up 4-LOM's signal and finds Slave I stranded. Zuckuss and his team board the ship and apprehend Fett attempting to capture the carbonite slab. Furlag leads Fett to his cell but Fett opens a trapdoor under his feet. He keeps Zuckuss alive to communicate with Bossk and sends the shuttle back to him; when Bossk looks inside he sees his fellows dead, along with a detonation device, when Fett jumps to hyperspace.
On Coruscant, Guri says to Xizor that Leia looking into Black Sun is dangerous and advocates killing the Rebels. However, Xizor has other plans for Leia and tells Guri to bring her to Coruscant.
As Xizor suggests to the Emperor, Bothan spies discover that the plans are to be sent in a small computer onboard a fertilizer freighter, the Suprosa, en route to their home planet Bothawui. Intercepting the Suprosa
The Bothans send a message droid to Tatooine for Leia, asking her to come to Bothawui, which is received by Luke and Dash who take up the challenge. Along with Ace Azzameen and a fleet of volunteer Bothans including Koth Melan, they intercept the Suprosa as it exits hyperspace. The freighter responds by firing a single Diamond Boron Missile which Dash hits, but fails to destroy. The missile destroys four Y-wings and another two are lost before the freighter's pilot surrenders; Dash then rips through inner defenses and into the hangar. However a Loader droid uses its spring-loaded arms against Dash who blasts the droid down before opening the hangar, allowing Luke and Melan to board the ship. With the success of the battle, the Alliance secures the plans and gains trust in Xizor. The plans are in truth, outdated, and the second Death Star is fully operational, unlike what the schematics read.
En route to Kothlis, the party is attacked by Claw and Hunter, driven off by Blue Squadron, and the Rebels who managed to arrive at Kothlis are a special Bothan encryption team who should attempt to bypass the self destruct device of the supercomputer. Dash goes to Rodia to find Leia.
Guri returns to Rodia, to meet the Rebels, who had installed a scanner device which quickly confirms their suspicions: Guri is not Human. C-3PO puts a sleeping potion in Guri's tea, so that they can conduct a closer examination but that as well fails; the two continue to trade diplomatic small-talk until Guri, tired of proceedings, attempts to abduct Organa only to be restrained by Lando, Chewbacca and Dash.
Koth Melan and Bothan technicians decode the Death Star plans on Kothlis when a Barabel bounty hunter raid, led by Skahtul, captures Skywalker and kills Melan. It is revealed to Luke that there are two rewards on his head, as he is wanted alive and dead. Unknown to him, it is Vader who wants him alive and Xizor who wants him dead.
After much discussion, Leia agrees to go to Coruscant with Guri in the Stinger, taking Chewbacca with her. To allow the two to make it onto Coruscant without being identified, Guri helps them into disguises. Leia takes the guise of the Ubese bounty hunter Boushh, and Chewbacca is disguised as Snoova.
For a time, Luke meditates and concentrates. After he gains much confidence with the Force, he influences the mind of his cell guard. Luke gets the guard to lock himself in the cell and take a nap, while Luke exits and then proceeds to increase his skills in the Force as he makes his way out of the stronghold. Lando, with information from Dash, makes his entrance and rescues Luke, and they depart from Kothlis on the Millennium Falcon for Tatooine, and in a hurry, as the Executor has just arrived.
Darth Vader aboard the Executor, is sent to Kothlis to collect Skywalker (as well as to make it appear as if the Empire was genuinely concerned with the loss of the plans); the plans managed to reach the Razor over the planet. Then Vader finds Skywalker gone and learns from Skahtul that someone wants Luke dead.
Xizor hosts Leia and Chewbacca at Black Sun, then provides them each with appropriate commodities. After an intense seductive experience with Xizor, Leia is reinforced by Chewbacca, eventually retakes control of herself, and knees Xizor between the legs. He is outraged, and sends her back to her room, while Chewie is intentionally let to 'escape' (although not so easy) hoping that he would lead Luke to rescue Leia; and into Xizor's hands.
On Tatooine, Jix cleverly gets past security and makes contact with Vader on the Executor in order to inform him of the swoop bike incident with Luke and learns that Jabba, too, had a bounty for Luke dead, put by someone who used Vader's name.
Lair of the Dark Prince
Luke, Dash, Lando receive a message from Chewie and head for Coruscant where they meet; Chewbacca stealthily make their way through the sewers of Black Sun in order to enter Xizor's palace. Using the Force, Luke and his thoughts inform Leia that he and the group are close by and will soon rescue her from Xizor. After much blasterfire with security guards with Luke integrating his increasingly advanced lightsaber skills, the group finds Leia and begins to lead her out of the palace.
They enter a hallway with Xizor, Guri, and several more of his aides, and a battle soon commences wherein Xizor and Guri are impressed with Luke's skills as a Jedi. Luke and Lando soon threaten Xizor with thermal detonators that they send down the garbage chute, causing everyone to frantically panic and scatter out of Xizor's palace.
The Millennium Falcon, being driven by R2-D2 and C-3PO, wildly careens toward Luke and company, allowing them to escape onto the vessel above Coruscant.
Xizor boards his skyhook, then sends four of his own starfighters at the Rebels, with Dash defending them with flak from the laser turrets of the Outrider. The X-wing starfighters of Rogue Squadron soon join in, along with many TIE fighters, and a big space battle commences.
Vader, via hologram on the Executor over Coruscant, confronts Xizor. Vader warned Xizor to stay away from Luke, but he willfully disobeyed those orders, and he thus orders the Imperial fleet to destroy Xizor's skyhook.
There is a great explosion wherein the Outrider is thought to be destroyed when Dash actually makes a jump to hyperspace at the last moment, as he is convinced that his experiences with the Rebels have been too dangerous while there is too much money to be made elsewhere. Fett delivers Solo to Jabba
On Tatooine, Fett fools the stalking bounty hunters with a disguised Zuckuss and a covered up 4-LOM that would seem to be himself and a carbonite block speeding away from the Slave I. The real Fett gives the actual carbonite block of Han to Jabba, and he receives his payment. Meanwhile, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO prepare to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt.
Luke prepares his holographic message to Jabba and puts his lightsaber into R2.