The Emperor introduces Mara Jade to Darth Vader. He calls her "the Emperor's Hand". He says that she is neither light nor dark, but an experimental agent of his.
Later, Mara is posing as one of Jabba the Hutt's dancers and is denied the honor of going with him when he is about to feed Luke, Han, and Leia to the sand worm on Tatooine. Her mission was to kill Luke, but when she fails to be invited to the execution, the Emperor sends her on a mission to Svivren.
Her mission is to kill Dequc, a Jeodu trying to revive the Black Sun mob, but now calling it Black Nebula.
Once she lands, Mara forces the Imperial General on Svivren, Touno, to put two squads of Stormtroopers and a captain named Strok at her disposal.
Strok and Mara plan a raid on the arenas in order to arrest a Rebel Rodian named Cevva Xuz. While Strok and the troops are making a scene of arresting him, Mara is supposed to murder Dequc.
When the action starts, Mara is successful in fighting her way through the Black Nebula and slicing Dequc's head off with her lightsaber.
Emperor Palpatine then orders Mara back to Imperial Center for a time of enjoyment.
When Mara hears that Black Nebula activities have not decreased, however, she suspects that the Dequc she killed was just a double, not the real Dequc.
As the Emperor is being killed by Luke and Vader, he sends a vision to Mara, telling her to avenge him by killing Luke.
Ysanne Isard then orders Mara arrested. Ysane is the Director of Imperial Center, the Empire's intelligence agency. When the Emperor dies, she suspects Mara of having a hand in it. She was always jealous of the Emperor's trust in Mara.
Mara uses Jedi mind control to make one of her guards (Ivak) release her. She then books passage to Phorliss and is hired as a waitress by Gorb Drig.
Weeks later, Black Nebula enforcers come to collect tribute from Gorb. He doesn't have the money so they kill him. Mara then kills the enforcers and begins hunting Dequc again.
She poses as a baronness and uses the Force to cheat at gambling in a Black Nebula-run casino. When she begins to win too much money, the casino owner, Lord Allic, summons her to his office via armed guards. She tells Allic that she will sell the information of how she cheated to Dequc. Lord Allic agress to set up a meeting.
When Mara is taken to the Black Nebula base to meet with Dequc, she sees Captain Strok and realizes that he is a Black Nebula spy and that he was the one who tipped Dequc off into using a double for her first assassination attempt. She is forced to kill him before he can give her away.
She then hides a bomb inside a bust of Prince Xizor, former head of Black Sun, and uses it to blow up Dequc. She fights his guards and then escapes in one of his own ships.