Shadows of the Empire, Chapter 30

will: Welcome back, all. Z is dealing with another deadline but I think she’ll be popping in somewhere.

Halfway through December, can you believe it? What a year.

z: No joke.

I’m so tired, y’all.

will: Oy.

will: Threepio says he thinks he and Artoo should go with Luke and Lando, but Luke says no, stay on the ship, it’s safer.

Threepio now agrees.

Artoo warbles something, but Threepio now insists they stay in case something should go wrong; Lando sarcasts about “what could go wrong, we’re just walking onto Coruscant” and Luke gives the inevitable line: “who would think of looking for us here?”

z: Verbing weirds language, Will.

will: Lando at least ripostes correctly: “Yeah, nobody would think we’re that stupid, lucky for us nobody knows we are.”

Luke at least sobers up and says, if they don’t make it, don’t summon the fleet, just leave. Artoo will monitor the comms, and the two droids can probably pilot the ship together. (Think two kids driving a car: one on the wheel, one on the pedals.)

Lando’s quite correct when he says that the idea of the droids flying the Falcon would be enough to wake Han up from suspension…

z: That was a funny line.

will: Artoo snarks at that idea too, and it devolves into a droid fight, with Threepio saying he bets he can fly better than an overgrown garbage can…

z: That wasn’t; I think it stretched a little too long to stay funny.

will: Lando and Luke leave. They’re in beggars’ rags, as a disguise. Genius.

z: No comment.

I also wondered for a while here how they landed at all–I wouldn’t imagine sticking to a cargo ship would work if you peel off as it’s coming into a spaceport–an area around which the travel would be closely observed–but then I decided to move on.

will: They’re in a “relatively sparsely populated” part of the city-planet, near the southern pole, where a “business associate” who owed Lando a favor has allowed them to store the Falcon in a warehouse.

Luke asks how many people owe Lando favors. A lot, Lando says, “who should never gamble.”

As usual, I like Lando here.

z: Valid.

will: Lando says for Luke to keep his lightsaber handy, they’re going to a bad part of town. Luke asks why, and Lando asks if Luke has heard of Evet Scy’rrep, the shipjacker. Luke says sure, he watched Galactic Bandits as a kid.

Lando says that someone asked Scy’rrep why he robber luxury starliners, and the answer was, “that’s where the credits are.” (Here on Earth, that line is attributed to bank robber Willie Sutton, asked why he robbed banks. In his autobiography–inevitably entitled That’s Where the Money Was–Sutton denied saying it, but admitted the truth of the sentiment anyway.)

z: I wonder if this is a Tuckerism, or… “Evet” means “Yes” in Turkish.

I’m going to go giggle for a while now.

will: At any rate, as Luke picks up on it but Lando says it anyway, they’re going to the bad part of town because that’s where Lando’s contacts are.

Scene change: Xizor is bathing. Blah blah blah essential oils, reptiles, water, privacy, music, drinks, things are perfect.

He’d invited Leia to join him but she had declined to do so.
Things were…almost perfect.

z: ooooooof.

will: Guri comes in. Xizor snaps that he does not like to be disturbed, but Guri knows that, so he realizes it was a stupid thing to say.

The Emperor is calling. Xizor takes the call, and the Emperor says that he’s leaving to “inspect portions of a certain…construction project,” and when he gets back, they will talk.

Also, what’s this about your interest in Luke Skywalker?

Xizor denies it, and the Emperor hangs up.

z: With another “we’ll discuss this when I get back” implication.

will: Xizor broods on the Emperor learning about his plans. Guri takes the comlink and turns to go. Xizor considers telling her to join him in the water–she can “pass for a woman in virtually every way,” as he’s previously confirmed–but he decides not to, he’ll wait for Leia, who “would learn to see him in a better light,” he just needs to be patient.

He takes a deep breath (good lung capacity, reptile, blah) and ducks under the water.

I wish I could just keep him under there.

z: Amen. Because we didn’t need the sexbot imagery–again–on top of everything else imagery.

will: Scene shift. Luke and Lando walk through the “Southern Underground,” and decide they should get disguises–as stormtroopers. They see two about their size, and decide to report something is wrong.

Scene shift. Leia wakes up, rolling her eyes again at Xizor’s bath offer. She checks the time–it’s been six hours. Nice nap.

Guri comes in with food: a seven-course meal, salad, “soypro patties.” fruit, vegetables…all looking and smelling great. She eats; if Xizor wanted to kill her, he would have, and like sleep, you eat when you can.

Scene shift. Luke rather heavyhandedly mind-controls a stormtrooper, telling him to strip and then take a nap. He wonders about the Empire’s crack troopers having such weak minds, but “then again, if he did, he probably wouldn’t be in the Imperial military,” which…whatever.

z: “Whatever” was the best I could muster about that too, although it’s problematic, but could have been worse. But did I mention we’re tired?

will: Lando and Luke, now both dressed as stormtroopers, “affect an Imperial swagger” and head out.

Scene shift again. Vader is seeing the Emperor off to the Death Star. He’ll be back in three weeks, and trusts that Vader will keep the planet spinning? Yes. And Skywalker?

No news, says Vader, but they’ll find him. Maybe soon, says Palpy.

Vader wonders if the Emperor has seen something in the Force, but he declines to share and leaves.

Vader thinks about the Emperor…he, Vader, is the man the Emperor trusts most in the galaxy: as far as his arm. But yes, they will see Luke again soon enough. In the meantime, Vader has Xizor to deal with. Sooner or later Xizor will slip up, and Vader will be ready.

And we’re out.

Nobody is acting all that out of character, in truth. Even Luke’s mind-control is consistent with, say, the Force chokes on the Gamorreans in Jabba’s–Luke still has to learn more subtle control, not to mention, less aggressive action. So, in what may be the highest compliment I’m willing to give a chapter in this book, this is fine. Harmless. Competent enough.

Wow, damning with faint praise…

z: Same here; I’ll phrase it as “could have been worse” if you prefer that.

It’s funny how standards change. We would have complained much more about the plot holes and weaknesses and dialogue clunks before, but I think we both just want this done.

Next week, we’re going to be one chapter closer to that. Until then, may the Force be with you.

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