“And now, my young apprentice … Your father is dead. Have you come to join me? Will you take the place that rightfully belongs to you… at my side?”—Palpatine
During the confusion of the civil war between Imperial factions, the Rebel Alliance sought to weaken the factions as much as possible by surreptitiously entering systems and battles with captured Star Destroyers, broadcasting falsified signals, and provoking attacks by one group against another.
On one of these raids to the Coruscant system, the Star Destroyer Liberator (formerly the HIMS Adjudicator, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer captured at the Battle of Endor and, over a five-year period, repaired and beefed-up for covert missions) its sister ship, the Emancipator (originally the Accuser), three Star Destroyers demanded novel and unusual codes for clearance. The codes the Alliance had stolen or bartered with slicers for did not work, and Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian were shot down over the former Imperial City. They should have perished, but in a curious parallel to the opening of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Luke, like his father, managed to successfully land the gargantuan vessel without too many casualties on the surface of Coruscant. For the next several days, Luke and Lando and their forces hid and fought Imperial forces.
When the news reached Han Solo and Leia Organa, they rushed to the rescue along with the Wookiee Chewbacca and the droid C-3PO. But while they arrived in the nick of time to rescue Lando and the crew of the Liberator, they were too late to save Luke, as the Reborn Emperor had initiated Operation Shadow Hand, his master plan to retake the galaxy, destroy the Rebel Alliance, and ensure that another rebellion could never occur again.
The first step required that he replace Anakin Skywalker’s place at his side, preferably with his son. Palpatine had several years to continue studying the Dark side, in a healthy and strong clone body, and he had made considerable progress: uniquely among all Sith or Jedi, he was capable of calling and commanding “Force storms”, destructive distortions in the very fabric of space-time. Across the interstellar distances, he conjured a small Force storm around Skywalker on Coruscant, which transported him into an Imperial dungeon ship.
This blow to the Alliance was followed up by the initial phase of Operation Shadow Hand: fleets of World Devastators, brainchildren of Umak Leth, machines which destroyed everything in their path, plunging them into vast furnaces which produced weapons and items which could repair or build new World Devastators. The first target Palpatine selected, for their long and steadfast support of the Rebellion, is the planet Mon Calamari.
The recently rescued Lando and his crew were dispatched aboard the Emancipator to fight a holding action while the main Rebel fleets assembled. At this time, Luke Skywalker had reached Byss. There he met face-to-face with the Emperor Reborn; Skywalker’s attempt at killing him was thwarted when Palpatine revealed that his vigorous fresh clone body was even more skilled at lightsaber combat than was Luke himself. Faced with an impossible situation, and deeply impressed by the power of the Emperor, his charismatic presence, his undoubted genius and deep knowledge of both sides of the Force, Luke acquiesced to becoming his apprentice. At this time, Luke secretly modifies R2-D2 to carry the Master Signal for the World Devastators.
With Luke gone, Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo head to Nar Shaddaa, the moon near Nal Hutta, Jabba’s world, where a few friend of Han were going to give them a ride to the Deep Core. Betrayed by their friends (Mako Spince), and pursued by the bounty hunter Boba Fett (long thought dead, eaten by the Sarlacc during the events of Return of the Jedi), Han and Leia try to escape from Nar Shaddaa with Salla Zend and Shug Ninx in their ship the Starlight Intruder. They head to Byss to rescue Luke.