Dark Empire II is the second trade paperback collecting a series of comic books written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy. It is preceded by Dark Empire I and followed by Empire's End.
With the defeat and "death" of the Emperor, and with the blunting of the threat of the World Devastators, hammer of Operation Shadow Hand, the Empire retreats and lies quiescent. In this period of relative peace, Luke Skywalker begins the preliminary operations to restore the Jedi Order. With the recently redeemed Dark Jedi Kam Solusar, Luke returns to Pinnacle Base. Executor Sedriss leads an attack force on Balmorra, the Empire's main producer of AT-STs after the Battle of Endor. In order to not damage Balmorra's factories, Sedriss lands AT-STs, stormtroopers, and Umak Leth's SD-9s on the planet. Governor Beltane of Balmorra sends out SD-10s, which contain all of the SD-9s' attack strategies in their databanks. When Balmorra has thrown seemingly everything against Sedriss, Sedriss unleashes Shadow Droids, another of Umak Leth's creations: droids fighters with the brains of fallen Imperial aces augmented by the power of the Dark Side. After they rout the SD-10s, Beltane sends out his hidden project, the X-1 Viper Automadon: a droid with molecular shielding capable of absorbing enemy fire and redirecting it through the droid's turbolasers. Beltane sells it to the Empire in exchange for freedom. Sedriss plans to destroy Beltane once he has control of the droids and their creators. At Pinnacle Base, Luke brings in Kam. Mon Mothma issues a meeting to discuss Beltane's arrangement for the Alliance to intercept the shipment of his droids en route to Byss, but Wedge has a better plan: let the shipment go to Byss with loads of Rebel troops inside the droids. Luke suggests that the droids be used to liberate worlds so the Alliance can launch an all-out attack, but everyone else votes for Wedge's plan. Mothma tells Luke that they must strike at the heart of the Empire while he tries to restore the Jedi Knights. The Holocron reveals the location Ossus, an ancient Jedi world that was beautiful until it was destroyed by the Dark Side. Knowing there might be some Jedi artifacts lying there, Luke departs for Ossus. Han and Leia depart as well, back to Nar Shaddaa. They hope to track down Vima-Da-Boda, and draw upon her ancient knowledge, then head for seclusion with their children on New Alderaan. On Byss, the Executor Sedriss returns from his inconclusive battle against Balmorra to discover the Dark side adepts Nefta and Sa-Di killing the remaining clones of Palpatine. Slaying them for their treason, Sedriss discovers that their killings had been futile: the Emperor has already been reborn, exceeding everyone's expectations. Upon his return, the Emperor orders Operation Shadow Hand re-commenced. On Nar Shaddaa, Boba Fett discovers the Solos after they escape the Imperial Star Destroyer and the Blackhole/Imperial stormtoopers led by two of the Dark Side Elite, Zasm Katth and Baddon Fass. They had fled to the underworld of the Smuggler's Moon after their initial haven, the hidden repair center ran by Shug Ninx, was taken over by storm troopers. Confronted by an array of bounty hunters, including a clan of Gank killers, and the news that the Hutt clans had doubled the bounty on them, they had little choice but to leave the moon - where Boba Fett had patiently waited for the Millennium Falcon to take off. Their second attempt at penetrating the depths has greater luck; they have just found Vima-Da-Boda when Fett attacks. His assault is defeated when Chewbacca ignited his jet-pack (in a replay of Fett's undoing in Return of the Jedi), and the Falcon soon takes off again. However, their immediate departure is sabotaged by Mako Spince, who, from his perch in the Traffic Control spire, had forwarded their location to the waiting Dark Siders aboard the Star Destroyer. The Star Destroyer soon locks a tractor beam on the Millennium Falcon, catching the ship in its firm grip. Taunted by Spince, Han figures out a clever escape: he pilots the Falcon under the spire - the officers do not realize the tractor beam is now locked on the spire - and the beams inexorably rip off the spire and pull it into the Star Destroyer itself, killing Spince and destroying the engines of the ISD. Bereft of impetus and in a decaying orbit, the Destroyer plunges into the surface of Nar Shaddaa, killing millions and all hands aboard. This is not the only setback for the Empire: Palpatine had dispatched Sedriss and Vill Goir to capture Skywalker and Solusar. Solusar quickly kills Goir, but Sedriss, outmatched by Skywalker, takes one of the Force-sensitive natives hostage and leans against a tree. To all of the combatants' immense surprise, the tree turns out to be a millennia-old Neti Jedi Master named Ood Bnar. Sedriss and Bnar face off, and the two perish in an explosion of Force energy. But even in his death, Bnar protects his cache of ancient lightsabers, a gift to the would-be Jedi and a future Neti in his place. With the aid of the Ysanna, Luke discovers precisely what he had hoped for: an intact Jedi library. Elsewhere, Lando Calrissian and a team of Rebel commandos, including Zev Veers, are hiding aboard a shipment of War Droids space-bound for the Emperor's throneworld. The droids prove superior to even the defenses of the Citadel until the Emperor releases an army of monstrous creatures - "chrysalis monsters" - rancors mutated by the dark side and Sith alchemy into crazed and nigh-invulnerable beasts of destruction. Since the creatures use brute force to destroy the droids, the droids' ability to absorb the blasts of laser weapons proves useless. The Rebel force is decimated, but they are rescued at the last moment by a force of smugglers led by Salla Zend and Shug Ninx. The Emperor allows them to escape, but they do not know that the Empire is tracking them and that its new superweapon, the Galaxy Gun is ready. The Emperor fires the weapon, which reaches Da Soocha V and destroys it, while Luke's Jedi Explorer (with the other Jedi aboard), which would have landed shortly had its crew not seen its projectile, narrowly escapes destruction. Meanwhile, on the forgotten and nebula-hidden world of Ganath, Han Solo has to equip his damaged Millennium Falcon with an antique weapon called the Lightning Gun, hopefully sufficient to defeat Slave I and Boba Fett, who lurks beyond the cloud, waiting for Solo to escape. Defeating Fett yet again, with the former Jedi Knight and ruler of Ganath, Empatojayos Brand, Han Solo and Princess Leia take refuge with their infant twins on the planet New Alderaan. There, Luke explains about a great Jedi power known as Battle Meditation. They must regroup with Lando and Wedge if their comrades are still alive, and Han and Chewbacca leave the planet to search for them. During the night, Luke has a terrible nightmare that he and Vader are one, not knowing that robotic bugs are injecting poison into his veins as he sleeps. He wakes up and sees two Darksiders ready to kill him. Jem Ysanna and Leia kill two of the Darksiders, but Jem is killed. Vima sees what has happened and saves Luke. Meanwhile, three other Darksiders kidnap Leia's twins. Luckily, Brand, Kam and Rayf are on the scene and duel them. After the fighting ends, Jem joins the Force as Rayf cries over her lost form. Then, they find an AT-AT attack is destroying the settlement. Thankfully, Han arrives with Salla and Shug, accompanied by an X-wing group based in a nearby system. Once the village's population is rescued and evacuated, the four freighters and three X-wings jump into hyperspace. The Rebels relocate to the space stations of Nespis VIII, where Luke and Kam had had their initial confrontation, and they find that the Alliance had evacuated Pinnacle Base before it was destroyed. On Nespis VIII, Anakin Solo is born and the Alliance plots the final destruction of the Empire.