Shadows of the Empire, Chapter 29

will: so this happened

is happening

yesplz

z: No joke!

will: Xizor drinks his booze and confirms with his chief of security to confirm that they let Chewie get away in a believable fashio–ENOUGH ALREADY!

z: Funny, that’s exactly what I said out loud when I had turned the page to see what was coming last week.

will: Once again, it’s “ah, this is all part of my cunning plan.” And it’s all for what? It’s so unclear what he actually wants. Revenge on Vader? Is that what this is about? Really?

Anyway. The point here is that Chewie will get Luke and then, boom, he can capture Luke.

He gets a call. It’s one of his agents, and we’re told that they don’t use pictures for security. However, they have matchable voiceprints. So they don’t use pictures…but they don’t use voice alteration, which is a technology we in this world have. For crying out–

z: There, there.

will: The agent explains the thing with the bounty hunters, and that there was another bidder, with an Imperial connection, and Xizor has to go “Hmm” and walk through the logic to conclude it’s Vader.

z: There’s disrespecting your reader’s intelligence, then there’s… oh, I don’t even know what this is at this point.

will: He says to double Black Sun’s offer–and as soon as they have a location, scramble “a jade ops team” and they’ll just kill him.

z: Did you get that reference? Because I didn’t…

will: Green skin meets black ops, I guess.

The agent gets another call, and Xizor lets him go, thinking about “the ruthlessness of entropy” and how long he’s waited on hold in his life.

z: Is this supposed to be making me feel sympathetic to him because–

will: The agent comes back and reports on the breakout. Clearly, this agent expects a shoot-the-messenger reaction, but Xizor laughs, knowing Vader has missed Luke, and as long as he has Leia, Luke will arrive.

Xizor tells his agent not to worry, and muses that someday, “once he was in control of the galaxy,” he would let this story get out as a way of showing how devious he is.

Because tell, don’t show, is the order of the day here, I see.

z: You show much wisdom in the Way of the Meta.

will: Shoot me.

z: What, and leave me alone with the rest of this?!

will: Scene shift: Leia is trapped. Locked door, no tools, no escape hatches, no cameras she can see (but she’s sure there are cameras), she’ll have to undress in the dark and hope they don’t have night vision (but she admits, “it was probably a little late for modesty”), and she hopes Chewie got away. She knows Luke will want to rescue her, but Lando will talk Luke out of it. He’s a realist. And the goal here is to keep Luke away from Xizor who wants to kill him. So…

Besides, they need to free Han.

She thinks guiltily of Han and hopes he’d forgive her. It was a drug, but “she’s sorry she was so weak.”

This tack is not improving matters.

z: No. Nope. Not at all. But what’s the use in pointing out all dimensions of how problematic this is.

will: She considers telling him when (if) she sees him again, but maybe it would be better not to upset him…

She has nothing to do, and in the first smart decision she makes in chapters, she takes a nap. Never pass up the chance to sleep, and all.

She thinks she’ll not manage it, but she hits REM immediately. Good.

z: That is the one scene with Leia in it that I’ve liked, I think. Just the last bit, where she thinks in that soldier’s maxim of “get sleep whenever you can”.

will: Scene shift. Luke wants to make a call to check on Leia, because he has a sense in the Force. Lando asks for it to wait. Luke insists. They drop out of hyperspace, and apparently it’s somehow a surprise that there’s a comm unit on the Falcon, some special Lando-rigged unit instead of, you know, normal. (What.)

z: Wondered. Decided not to wonder.

will: Luke calls his voicemail service (basically; he has some sort of comm relay that he expects to get Dash on), and there is a message from Chewie. (I give up keeping the timeline straight.) Because, you know, that makes sense.

z: Tried to get the timeline straight. Decided not to bother.

will: Chewie gets far enough to say that Leia is on Coruscant, but the part where Xizor wants to kill Luke, they don’t get.

z: Because the communication cuts off, because of course it does.

will: Luke says it’s time to go to Coruscant and Lando’s attempts to say it’s too dangerous don’t even sound convincing to him.

Because show, don’t…forget it.

z: Tried to care. Decided to forget.

will: The Falcon drops out of hyperspace a ways out from Coruscant proper, because Lando has no idea how they are going to sneak up on the planet. Luke has an idea, we don’t get told what it is (literally, the line is “Luke told him”), Lando balks, Luke offers to do it, Lando’s pride wins…basically, they pull the “hiding behind a big droid operated cargo ship” trick you’ve seen in every movie ever, along with comments like “planetary Doppler” (which is to say, radar; Radio Detection and Ranging, but they’re using the part named for an Austrian–fuck it).

z: At least Lando still retains enough sense to drop the Falcon out of hyperspace a few days’ distance to Coruscant so they have time to figure out what to do.

I ain’t even touching the radar mess.

will: They line up with a supertransport that is, of course, under contract by Xizor Transportation Systems, sneak in under sensors, and line up a few meters from a cargo pod.

There’s gratuitous use of the shorthand “vack,” presumably for vacuum, which looks awful.

My patience is legendarily thin. As is my annoyance that nobody remembers the landing claw Han used on the Star Destroyer.

z: Can’t blame your patience. Or you. And also, I hadn’t noticed “vack” because I was skimming mightily at this point, so it’s not like I can even blame your patience for anything.

will: They discuss what they will do when they land: Lando knows some people. In the meantime, Luke reaches out through the Force to try to find Leia. No dice.

Final scene shift. Vader feels a disturbance in the Force but can’t place it, and thinks of how he can master the Dark Side, tame it, and with Luke’s help, do it faster, and together, they can do so much more. He smiles, painful as it is.

I groan, painful as this is.

We end, awful as this is.

This is the sort of chapter that could have been replaced with two lines of Lando and Luke showing up on Coruscant. And probably should have been.

Z?

z: You said it. This is annoying, aggravating, and book-launch-inducing in equal measure.

Are we done yet?

(Of course not, remember that we still have an Original Character (™) hanging out somewhere.)

Next week, join us for the masterly infiltration of Luke and Lando into Coruscant. Or… something. Anyway. Until then, may the Force be with you.

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