Star Wars Fate of the Jedi #6: Vortex

Star Wars Fate of the Jedi #6: Vortex

by Troy Denning

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Jedi and Sith fight side by side against an even greater foe.
But how long can enemies remain allies?
And how high is the price of betrayal?
In a stunning turn of events, Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, joined forces with the Sith armada sent to kill them—and used their combined might against the monstrous being Abeloth. But when the wounded creature escapes, the fragile armistice crumbles, and hostilities resume with the attempted assassination of Luke.

On the hunt for Abeloth and on the run from the Sith, Luke and Ben find themselves trapped by a mob of angry Force adepts who care little for the difference between light side and dark side.

With the Jedi’s most famous father-and-son team outnumbered and outgunned, the countdown to galactic disaster has begun—and time is running out.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345509215
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/27/2012
Series: Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi Series , #6
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 142,211
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Troy Denning is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss; Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost; Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Star by Star; the Star Wars: Dark Nest trilogy: The Joiner King, The Unseen Queen, and The Swarm War; and Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Tempest, Inferno, and Invincible—as well as Pages of Pain, Beyond the High Road, The Summoning, and many other novels. A former game designer and editor, he lives in western Wisconsin with his wife, Andria.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Beyond the forward viewport hung the gossamer veil of Ashteri's Cloud, a vast drift of ionized tuderium gas floating along one edge of the Kessel sector. Speckled with the blue haloes of a thousand distant stars, its milky filaments were a sure sign that the Rockhound had finally escaped the sunless gloom of the Deep Maw. And after the jaw-clenching horror of jumping blind through a labyrinth of uncharted hyperspace lanes and hungry black holes, even that pale light was a welcome relief to Jaina Solo.

Or rather, it would have been, had the cloud been in the right place.

The Rockhound was bound for Coruscant, not Kessel, and that meant Ashteri's Cloud should have been forty degrees to port as they exited the Maw. It should have been a barely discernible smudge of light, shifted so far into the red that it looked like no more than a tiny flicker of flame, and Jaina could not quite grasp how they had gone astray.

She glanced over at the pilot's station—a mobile levchair surrounded by brass control panels and drop-down display screens—but found no answers in Lando Calrissian's furrowed brow. Dressed immaculately in a white shimmersilk tunic, lavender trousers, and a hip cape, he was perched on the edge of his huge nerf-leather seat, with his chin propped on his knuckles and his gaze fixed on the alabaster radiance outside.

In the three decades Jaina had known Lando, it was one of the rare moments when his life of long-odds gambles and all-or-nothing stakes actually seemed to have taken a toll on his con-artist good looks. It was also a testament to the strain and fear of the past few days—and, perhaps, to the hectic pace. Lando was as impeccably groomed as always, but even he had not found time to touch up the dye that kept his mustache and curly hair their usual deep, rich black.

After a few moments, he finally sighed and leaned back into his chair. "Go ahead, say it."

"Say what?" Jaina asked, wondering exactly what Lando expected her to say. After all, he was the one who had made the bad jump. "It's not my fault?"

A glimmer of irritation shot through Lando's weary eyes, but then he seemed to realize Jaina was only trying to lighten the mood. He chuckled and flashed her one of his nova-bright grins. "You're as bad as your old man. Can't you see this is no time to joke?"

Jaina cocked a brow. "So you didn't decide to swing past Kessel to say hello to the wife and son?"

"Good idea," Lando said, shaking his head. "But . . . no."

"Well, then . . ." Jaina activated the auxiliary pilot's station and waited as the long-range sensors spooled up. An old asteroid tug designed to be controlled by a single operator and a huge robotic crew, the Rockhound had no true co-pilot's station, and that meant the wait was going to be longer than Jaina would have liked. "What are we doing here?"

Lando's expression grew serious. "Good question." He turned toward the back of the Rockhound's spacious flight deck, where the vessel's ancient bridge droid stood in front of an equally ancient nav computer. A Cybot Galactica model RN8, the droid had a transparent head-globe, currently filled with the floating twinkles of a central processing unit running at high speed. Also inside the globe were three sapphire-blue photoreceptors, spaced at even intervals to give her full-perimeter vision. Her bronze body casing was etched with constellations, comets, and other celestial artwork. "I know I told Ornate to set a course for Coruscant."

RN8's head-globe spun just enough to fix one of her photoreceptors on Lando's face. "Yes, you did." Her voice was silky, deep, and chiding. "And then you countermanded that order with one directing us to our current destination."

Lando scowled. "You need to do a better job maintaining your auditory systems," he said. "You're hearing things."

The twinkles inside RN8's head-globe dimmed as she redirected power to her diagnostic systems. Jaina turned her own attention back to the auxiliary display and saw that the long-range sensors had finally come online. Unfortunately, they were no help. The only thing that had changed inside its bronze frame was the color of the screen and a single symbol denoting the Rockhound's own location in the exact center.

RN8's silky voice sounded from the back of the flight deck. "My auditory sensors are in optimum condition, Captain—as are my data storage and retrieval systems." Her words began to roll across the deck in a very familiar male baritone. "Redirect to destination Ashteri's Cloud, arrival time seventeen hours fifteen, Galactic Standard."

Lando's jaw dropped, and he sputtered, "Tha . . . that's not me!"

"Not quite," Jaina agreed. The emphasis was placed on the wrong syllable in several words; otherwise, the voice was identical. "But it's close enough to fool a droid."

Lando's eyes clouded with confusion. "Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?"

"Yes," Jaina said, glancing at her blank sensor display. "I don't quite know how, but someone impersonated you."

"Through the Force?"

Jaina shrugged and shot a meaningful glance toward a dark corner. While she knew of half a dozen Force powers that could have been used to defeat RN8's voice-recognition software, not one of those techniques had a range measured in light-years. She carefully began to expand her Force awareness, concentrating on the remote corners of the huge ship, and thirty standard seconds later was astonished to find nothing unusual. There were no lurking beings, no blank zones that might suggest an artificial void in the Force, not even any small vermin that might be a Force-wielder disguising his presence.

After a moment, she turned back to Lando. "They must be using the Force. There's no one aboard but us and the droids."

"I was afraid you'd say that." Lando paused for a moment, then asked, "Luke's friends?"

"I hate to jump to conclusions, but . . . who else?" Jaina replied. "First, Lost Tribe or not, they're Sith. Second, they already tried to double-cross us once."

"Which makes them as crazy as a rancor on the dancing deck," Lando said. "Abeloth was locked in a black-hole prison for twenty-five thousand years. What kind of maniacs would think it was a good idea to bust her out?"

"They're Sith," Jaina reminded him. "All that matters to them is power, and Abeloth had power like a nova has light—until Luke killed her."

Lando frowned in thought. "And if they're crazy enough to think they could take Abeloth home with them, they're probably crazy enough to think they could take the guy who killed her."

"Exactly," Jaina said. "Until a few weeks ago, no one even knew the Lost Tribe existed. That's changed, but they'll still want to keep what they can secret."

"So they'll try to take out Luke and Ben," Lando agreed. "And us, too. Contain the leak."

"That's my guess," Jaina said. "Sith like secrecy, and secrecy means stopping us now. Once we're out of the Maw, they'll expect us to access the HoloNet and report."

Lando looked up and exhaled in frustration. "I told Luke he couldn't trust anyone who puts High Lord before his name." He had been even more forceful than Jaina in trying to argue Luke out of a second bargain with the Lost Tribe—a bargain that had left the Skywalkers and three Sith behind to explore Abeloth's savage homeworld together. "Maybe we should go back."

Jaina thought for only an instant, then shook her head. "No, Luke knew the bargain wouldn't last when he agreed to it," she said. "Sarasu Taalon has already betrayed his word once."

Lando scowled. "That doesn't mean Luke and Ben are safe."

"No," Jaina agreed. "But it does mean he's risking their lives to increase our chances of reporting to the Jedi Council. That's our mission."

"Technically, Luke doesn't get to assign missions right now," Lando pressed. "You wouldn't be violating orders if we—"

"Luke Skywalker is still the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy. I think we should assume he has a plan," Jaina said. A sudden tingle of danger sense raced down her spine, prompting her to hit the quick-release on her crash harness. "Besides, we need to start worrying about saving our own skins."

Lando began to look worried. "What are you saying?" he asked. "That you're sensing something?"

Jaina shook her head. "Not yet." She rose. "But I will be. Why do you suppose they sent us someplace easy to find?"

Lando scowled. "Oh . . ." He glanced up at a display, tapped some keys—no doubt trying to call up a tactical report—then slammed his fist against the edge of the brass console. "Are they jamming us?"

"That's difficult to know with the ship's sensor systems offline for degaussing," RN8 replied.

"Offline?" Lando shrieked. "Who authorized that?"

"You did, ninety-seven seconds ago," RN8 replied. "Would you like me to play it back?"

"No! Countermand it and bring all systems back up." Lando turned to Jaina and asked, "Any feel for how long we have until the shooting starts?"

Jaina closed her eyes and opened herself to the Force. She felt a mass of belligerent presences approaching from the direction of the Maw. She turned to RN8.

"How long until the sensor systems reboot?"

"Approximately three minutes and fifty-seven seconds," the droid reported. "I'm afraid Captain Calrissian also ordered a complete data consolidation."

Jaina winced and turned back to Lando. "In that case, I'd say we have less than three minutes and fifty-two seconds. There's someone hostile coming up behind us." She started toward the hatchway at the back of the cavernous bridge, her boots ringing on the old durasteel deck. "Why don't you see if you can put a stop to those false orders?"

"Sure, I'll just tell my crew to stop listening to me." Lando's voice was sarcastic. "Being droids, they'll know what I mean."

"You might try activating their standard verification routines," Jaina suggested.

"I might, if droid crews this old had standard verification routines." Lando turned and scowled at Jaina as she continued across the deck. "And you're going where?"

"You know where," Jaina said.

"To your StealthX?" Lando replied. "The one with only three engines? The one that lost its targeting array?"

"Yeah, that one," Jaina confirmed. "We need a set of eyes out there—and someone to fly cover."

"No way," Lando said. "If I let you go out to fight Sith in that thing, your dad will be feeding pieces of me to Amelia's nexu for the next ten years."

Jaina stopped and turned toward him, propping one hand on her hip. "Lando, did you just say let? Did you really say no way to me?"

Lando rolled his eyes, unintimidated. "You know I didn't mean it like that. But have you gone spacesick? With only three engines, that starfighter is going to be about as maneuverable as an escape pod!"

"Maybe, but it still beats sitting around like a blind bantha in this thing. Thanks for worrying, though." She shot Lando a sour smile. "It's so sweet when you old guys do that."

"Old?" Lando cried. After a moment, he seemed to recognize the mocking tone in Jaina's voice, and his chin dropped. "I deserved that, didn't I?"

"You think?" Jaina laughed to show there were no hard feelings, then added, "And you know what Tendra would do to me if I came back without Chance's father. So let's both be careful."

"Okay, deal." Lando waved her toward the hatchway. "Go. Blow things up. Have fun."

"Thanks." Jaina's tone grew more serious, and she added, "And I mean for everything, Lando. You didn't have to be here, and I'm grateful for the risks you're taking to help us. It means a lot to me—and to the whole Order."

Lando's Force aura grew cold, and he looked away in sudden discomfort. "Jaina, is there something you're not telling me?"

"About this situation?" Jaina asked, frowning at his strange reaction. "I don't think so. Why?"

Lando exhaled in relief. "Jaina, my dear, perhaps no one has mentioned this to you before . . ." His voice grew more solemn. "But when a Jedi starts talking about how much you mean to her, the future begins to look very scary."

"Oh . . . sorry." Jaina's cheeks warmed with embarrassment. "I didn't mean anything like that. Really. I was just trying to—"

"It's okay." Lando's voice was still a little shaky. "And if you did mean something—"

"I didn't," Jaina interrupted.

"I know," Lando said, raising a hand to stop her. "But if things start to go bad out there, just get back to Coruscant and report. I can take care of myself. Understand?"

"Sure, Lando, I understand." Jaina started toward the hatchway, silently adding, But no way am I leaving you behind.

"Good—and try to stick close. We won't be hanging around long." A low whir sounded from Lando's chair as he turned it to face RN8. "Ornate, prepare an emergency jump to our last coordinates."

"I'm afraid that's impossible, Captain Calrissian," the droid replied. "You gave standing orders to empty the nav computer's memory after each jump."

"What?" Lando's anger was edging toward panic now. "How many other orders—no, forget it. Just countermand my previous commands."

"All of them?"

"Yes!" Lando snapped. "No, wait . . ."

Jaina reached the hatchway and, not waiting to hear the rest of Lando's order, raced down the rivet-studded corridor beyond. She still had no idea what the Sith were planning, but she was going to stop them—and not only because the Jedi Council needed to know everything she and Lando could tell them about the Lost Tribe of the Sith. Over the years, Lando had been as loyal a friend to the Jedi Order as he had to her parents, time after time risking his life, fortune, and freedom to help them resolve whatever crisis happened to be threatening the peace of the galaxy at the moment. He always claimed he was just repaying a favor, or protecting an investment, or maintaining a good business environment, but Jaina knew better. He was looking out for his friends, doing everything he could to help them survive—no matter what mess they had gotten themselves into.

Jaina reached the forward hangar bay. As the hatch opened in front of her, she was surprised to find a bank of floodlights already illuminating her battered StealthX. At first, she assumed Lando had ordered the hangar droid to ready the Rockhound's fighter complement for launch.

Then she saw what was missing from her starfighter.

There were no weapons barrels extending from the wingtips. In fact—on the side facing her, at least—the cannons themselves were gone. She was so shocked that she found herself waiting for the rest of the hangar lights to activate, having forgotten for the moment that the Rockhound did not have automatic illumination. The whir of a pneumatic wrench sounded from the far side of the StealthX, and beneath the starfighter's belly she noticed a cluster of telescoping droid legs straddling the actuator housing of a Taim & Bak KX12 laser cannon.

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Star Wars Fate of the Jedi #6: Vortex 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 330 reviews.
Jedidude More than 1 year ago
I loved Vortex. This is easily the best book in the series with Troy's last book Abyss being a close second. The Skywalker family/Lost Sith Tribe storyline is still the main storyline here but the Coruscant storyline finally picks up in this book. I am not the biggest fan of the Jedi Council but it is nice to see them do something for once and I actually enjoyed their part of the book for once. Saba Sabatyne plays a huge role in this book and I wonder where this will lead as we come up on the home stretch of this series. I was not happy with what happened with Jaina Solo last book, and I am still wondering what is going to happen with her, which kind of sucks because, I was a big fan of her during the New Jedi Order series. Unlike her cousin Ben Skywalker who has been developing into a great character in his own right. Jaina Solo is still stuck where she has been since the Unifying Force, which is a shame. I loved seeing Booster Terrik return for the first time since Legacy of the Force Exile. He is awesome in this book. Tahri Velia's part of the book does not change too much so those who liked it in Allies will like it here too. Daala finally shows herself to be the villain I remember from the Jedi Academy Trilogy and it was nice to finally see her true colors come out. Jagged Fel plays a small but important role in this book and I can't wait to see where the Empires part of this story goes in the last three books. The slave storyline that was started in Allies is actually handled much better in this book, and I actually liked what Troy did with it in Vortex. Han Solo was cool to and his fan base should love him in this book. Troy writes a great Luke Skywalker and that does not change in Vortex. The alliance between the Skywalker family and the Lost Sith Tribe is appropriately tense, and I actually felt like the Sith were more paranoid then the Skywalkers which is ironic since the Sith have the numbers in this alliance. I loved how Luke treated the Sith it was great stuff. The mystery surrounding the creature known as Abeloth is very creepy and interesting. I both loved and hated the Ben/Vestara storyline from the last book. I felt like it was shoved down my throat. I am pleased to say that this particular storyline like the slave storyline is much better in this book, though I did get an Heir to the Empire vibe from this book, when reading Ben and Vestara's part of the book, especially when reading one of their early scenes but their part was still very fun to read. Ben Skywalker's personality mirrors his mother's but I was also reminded that Luke is very much in there too. Ben shows some of his father's traits in this book. Troy's take on Vestara Khai is my favorite of the three authors so far. Vestara is a fun character even if she does remind me of another member of the Skywalker family that I know all too well. Vestara is still fun to read about and she makes some choices in this book that I found surprising, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens with her next. Vortex is great when it comes to action the Lighsabers come out early and often in this book, matter of fact I would say this book has more Lightsaber duels then I can remember in any other Star Wars book in recent memory. This book easily has a lot more action then Allies did, and I loved all the battles and there were some very memorable moments in this book. This is a great read and it should not be missed.
OldNerd More than 1 year ago
I have grown to love the characters in Fate of the Jedi. This is among the best book in the series so far. It is always nice to see what the jedi can do when their backs are against the wall. Luke and Ben find a foe that is a real challenge with some very good action that keeps you reading.
Teresa Mason More than 1 year ago
I am really enjoying this whole series. Love all the old and new characters.
alwaysreadingJV More than 1 year ago
I truly can't wait for these books to come out. I am enjoying the quality and the energy in this series of stories. Thank you to the wonderful writers that really understand these characters, the world they are in and for the enjoyment they bring as we get to share more time with "Old Friends". I read this book in 2 days, couldn't put it down on my shiny new NOOK.
ColoradoBR More than 1 year ago
All of the storylines in this novel take interesting and exciting turns. There is Jedi-infighting, the trial has some great twists, Luke has to not only outfight his enemies- he has to outwit them as well. This is the most exciting novel in the Fate of the Jedi series so far. I can't wait to see how it all ends.
Paige Scibilia More than 1 year ago
I've read the overveiw and Vortex seems okay. And by okay I mean SUPER.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Jedi order finally takes action - but it isn't without a price to pay. I'm enjoying the relationship between Luke and his son Ben. It has also been interesting to see Saba take a bigger role in this series - I enjoyed her a lot in the X-Wing series.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another great addition to the ongoing post-film story of the Skywalkers and the Solos. This one takes place about 40 years after the death of the Emperor.
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These ruins are the home of the Mandalorian clan Ordo. Among the compound are weapon shops, armor shops, a fight pit, a training ground, and Mandalore's command center. This area is generally safe from external forces.
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Follow her
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