Vortex by Troy Denning is the sixth novel in the Fate of the Jedi series and was released on November 30, 2010. At the end of the book, it has an introduction to Conviction. The audio version is narrated by Marc Thompson. The paperback was released on March 27, 2012.
In a stunning turn of events, Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, joined forces with members of the Sith armada sent to kill them—and turned their combined might against the monstrous being Abeloth. But with one menace dealt with, a new and even more insidious threat looms.
Now Luke and Ben must go on the run, taking along the inscrutable—and ever dangerous—Sith apprentice Vestara Khai. With a host of Sith warriors in hot pursuit, the Skywalkers soon find themselves trapped on the moon Pydyr, caught between their former allies and a mob of angry Fallanassi. A new truce may be their only hope. But can a Sith ever be trusted?
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.
The novel starts out aboard the Rockhound. Jaina Solo and Lando Calrissian are traveling back to Coruscant to inform the New Jedi Order of Luke and Ben Skywalker's whereabouts. However, they find themselves nearby Kessel, which wasn't among any of their intended destinations. Jaina and Lando soon find that the ship's droids are being manipulated by an unknown source to ruin their plans. Jaina goes to her damaged StealthX X-wing starfighter against Lando's wishes and finds that the StealthX's weapons are being dismounted by one of the droids. Jaina then learns that on the Rockhound's stop to Klatooine in the previous novel, the ship had received a mouse droid as a new delivery. Jaina, in conclusion, determines that whoever is manipulating the droids—she suspects the Lost Tribe of the Sith—is using that mouse droid to maneuver the Rockhound toward Kessel instead of Coruscant. She then tells Lando to look for the mouse droid while she goes out in her StealthX wing, now equipped with only four shadow bombs, to ward off anyone trying to take hold of the Rockhound. Several skiffs arrive in the system, and Jaina fights them off, using up all four of her shadow bombs to destroy most of the skiffs and their "mothership." But because there are still a few skiffs left, Jaina pilots her StealthX back to the Rockhound, hearing from Lando that he located and destroyed the manipulative mouse droid, and she tells him to get the Rockhound into hyperspace for escape. She also confirms her suspicions that the attackers were in fact Sith pirates, based on the fact that they knew where to fire whenever she used the Force to utilize her shadow bombs.
On the mysterious planet where the Skywalkers and the Lost Tribe of Sith fought and apparently killed the mysterious entity known as Abeloth, Luke Skywalker is working with High Lord Sarasu Taalon and Sith Saber Gavar Khai to find out Abeloth's origins via her lair. Meanwhile, aboard the Jade Shadow some distance away from Abeloth's lair, Vestara Khai tells Ben Skywalker that the Sith Meditation Sphere known as Ship has contacted her through the Force, telling her that he is coming back to serve the Lost Tribe. They agree to take this to Luke. But Vestara first has Ben check in on their patient, Dyon Stadd, where she locks him up in the Jade Shadow's medical bay with Dyon; that way, she can go directly to either Taalon or her father rather than to Luke in order to inform them of Ship's impending arrival. However, Ben gets out of the medical bay via his lightsaber and catches up to Vestara before she can make it to Abeloth's lair, making her promise not to betray the Skywalkers or tell either Gavar or Taalon of Ship coming to the planet. With that, they continue on to the lair where, despite the presences of Gavar and Taalon, Ben is able to communicate to his father about Ship while Vestara, even under the threat of punishment, does not inform either of her masters as to why she and Ben left Dyon alone back on the Jade Shadow.
Knowing that the Jedi-Sith alliance would crumble if either Taalon or Gavar received this knowledge, Luke proceeds to save Vestara from abuse under Taalon's hands, but more as a distraction than genuine concern for her well-being. This way, Ben is able to attempt to take Abeloth's body away so that he and his father can get her back to Coruscant for examination by Cilghal. Vestara and Taalon see what Ben is up to and Taalon nearly kills him before Vestara stops the High Lord in order to show everyone present the form covered beneath the sheet that was, during the Sith's confrontation with Ben, thrown off the supposed body of Abeloth: Dyon Stadd's corpse. Therefore, the supposed illusion that Abeloth had conjured up in the appearance that she had killed off Stadd at the climax of her battle against the Jedi-Sith alliance was real, while her death and Stadd's recovery was the real illusion.
On Coruscant, Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala continues her Mandalorian siege on the New Jedi Temple to take away Jedi Knights Sothais Saar and Turi Altamik for being victims of the Force psychosis. Han Solo acts as an intermediary between the Jedi and Daala as he convinces the Chief of State that it is safe for Saar and Altamik to step out, as the Force psychosis is now gone. Daala's Bith surgeon, Thalleus Tharn, looks them over for a brief preliminary test to confirm that they're not impostors or still insane. Tharn tests to make sure of this by kneeing Saar in the groin, which prompts Altamik to stop the surgeon by raising him up in the air with the Force to prevent any further attacks from the Bith. Using this action as basic evidence that Saar and Altamik are not still insane, considering how the latter Knight controlled herself in the event of the attack, and that Tharn's eye would have seen any work of plastic surgery meant to disguise impostors, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the Force psychosis is indeed gone, and the Knights are sane again. Daala then decides to call off the siege, but says that until she knows that the Jedi are holding nothing back from her, Valin and Jysella Horn will remain in Galactic Alliance Security's custody.
Later, the Jedi High Council hold a meeting over how they can convince Daala to thaw Valin and Jysella out of carbonite. Acting Grand Master Kenth Hamner insists that they confront Daala through non-violent means while the rest of the Council's members argue that they must go into an all-out war against the Chief of State in order to reclaim the Horns. Things get even more heated when it is reported from the world of Blaudu Sextus that several Mandalorians are gunning down Octusi, peaceful protestors fighting for their freedom from slavery under the hands of the Sextuna Mining Corporation. The meeting ultimately leads to Hamner having to explain that, in an effort to have Daala stand down against the Jedi, he made a deal with someone, who he holds confidence in and whose identity he refuses to divulge, just to convince the Council not to make any active moves against the Chief. Hamner's position in the Council becomes even more tenuous than before as a result, but the other Masters do agree to do it his way after Corran Horn says that the time and circumstances aren't right for such a war; not yet, at least. Things get even more complicated for the Council, and for the Jedi Order as a whole, when Jaina and Lando report the pirate attack on the Rockhound back near Kessel and present data indicating that the Lost Tribe have spread throughout the galaxy. Meanwhile, in order to have a bill passed that will substantially support the Jedi, the Solos' and Lando's meeting with Sullustan Senator Luewet Wuul leads to Wuul inadvertently revealing that Kenth Hamner made a deal with Admiral Nek Bwua'tu during the Mandalorian siege on the Jedi Temple. Wuul then reluctantly reveals that the deal was this: If Hamner makes sure that the Jedi don't launch their StealthX wing to help Luke Skywalker, then Bwua'tu would convince Daala to lighten up on the Order.
Back on the mysterious planet in the Maw, the Skywalkers and the Sith, now aware of Abeloth's continued existence, find Ship, which doesn't break up the Jedi-Sith alliance because Abeloth is still alive. Ship, who appears to vow complete loyalty to the Sith, transports the Jedi-Sith party to the Pool of Knowledge; that way, they can use it to find Abeloth. The Pool gives them an image of Abeloth running on a familiar beach, which is the shore of the island that the party is on. But before they can go after her, the Jedi-Sith alliance finally breaks when the Sith see a Jedi queen on a throne surrounded by many of her Force-using kind. This prompts Luke and Ben to fight Taalon and the Khais so that Allana Solo's existence is kept a secret (this vision of Allana being a queen was seen by Luke back in Abyss). The Skywalkers barely leave alive, aware that Abeloth has already taken Ship and the Jade Shadow off planet, so their only way off-world is to the Emiax, the Sith's only remaining vessel on the world. They decide to use Vestara to get them in and off-world, and keep her so that she can ultimately lead them to Kesh to destroy the Sith, all after Taalon and Gavar Khai use her as bait to place the Skywalkers into a failed death trap. Luke convinced her to come with him and his son by reminding her that since she failed her duty to lead the Skywalkers to their deaths, Taalon and Gavar just might see to end her life, if not punish her any more severely. Now off-world, the Skywalkers, with Vestara in their grasp, begin their search for Abeloth.
On Coruscant, Tahiri Veila's trial seems to continue to be going badly, especially now that her lawyer, Eramuth Bwua'tu, seems to be incompetent. The Solos hire a second defense attorney named Sardonne Sardon to help Bwua'tu prove that Tahiri was acting under orders from the late Darth Caedus to kill the late Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon if she couldn't persuade him to side with Caedus in the Second Battle of Fondor during the Second Galactic Civil War. Unfortunately, Bwua'tu and Sardon's different legal methods impede Tahiri's passing of the trial under the pretense that she was acting under orders, which soon prompts Tahiri to fire Sardon, as she finds that Bwua'tu can actually act better solo. His acts of incompetence were to make Tahiri look good and not so much like a fool, despite the fact that it was harming her case. So Bwua'tu manages to show the evidence, a holovid recorded aboard the Star Destroyer Bloodfin. This holovid depicts the lack of action taken by Imperial Lieutenant Lydea Pagorski, who is serving the prosecution in the trial, when it became apparent that Pellaeon's life would be in danger. As Pagorski had lied, her claims are considered invalid for the rest of the case and she is taken out of the court for giving false information.
Meanwhile, Admiral Nek Bwua'tu is in a coma since the false Jedi attack on him in the last novel. Even Chief of State Daala knows that the Jedi couldn't have been behind it because it is tactically unsound for them to attack such a high-placed officer in the Galactic Alliance military, as well as the fact that two Jedi could have easily killed Bwua'tu rather than render him in a coma as they did. In her quest to find out who was behind Bwua'tu's attack, Daala finds out that the Admiral seems to be stimulated by the sight of reporter Madhi Vaandt on the HoloNet reporting the anti-slavery revolt on Blaudu Sextus. Daala doubts that Bwua'tu is stimulated by her sexually, and starts to believe that Vaandt might be behind the attack. Later, Daala meets with Imperial Head of State Jagged Fel to show him the video footage that her spies had taken on Jaina Solo and Lando Calrissian standing trial against the Sith on Klatooine during the planet's slave revolt. Jag understands Daala's blackmail when it becomes apparent that Jaina and Lando only had half the Sith who stood trial be sent to be executed while letting the others go free. Daala tells Jag that if he doesn't lend her Imperial support to put down the pan-galactic slave revolts, then she will broadcast the video throughout the galaxy to expose the Jedi's alliance with the Sith.
It isn't long before the revolt on Blaudu Sextus again erupts into violence by the Mandalorians, led by Belok Rhal, the same mercenary who led the siege of the New Jedi Temple and killed Kani Asari, Grand Master Hamner's assistant, on the Temple's steps in the previous novel. Though the Mandalorians are stopped by Sothais Saar and Avinoam Arelis, Madhi Vaandt is killed by Rhal. This outrages the Jedi, with everyone, except for Kenth Hamner, of course, believing that now is the time to take the fight to Daala. Then, when Han Solo forces Hamner to reveal that he made a secret agreement with Nek Bwua'tu during the Temple siege, which was meant to have Daala stand down against the Jedi, the rest of the Jedi Masters informally vote him out as their leader. This results in a complex plan to free Valin and Jysella Horn from their carbonite imprisonment and to respond to Luke Skywalker's recent distress call for the Jedi StealthX fleet to come to where he has found Abeloth: Almania's moon of Pydyr. However, Jagged Fel tells the Solos that he and the Moffs have decided that as long as Daala rules the GA, the Imperial Remnant will never join the Alliance. So he plans on leaving soon and advises the Jedi to move quickly with their plans before Daala finds out about everything. So the Order at large abides just as Jaina and Jag renew their engagement.
On Pydyr, the populace is infected with a plague that turns out to be an illusion cast by the Fallanassi. Luke immerses himself in the White Current to escape the illusions while neglecting to inform either Ben or Vestara as to the nature of the plague. His reasoning is that if Vestara would be able to call her Sith masters over to Pydyr (which she does), she wouldn't be able to inform them of the plague's nature. Luke does not mention this to Ben because he is wary of his son's slippery relationship with Vestara, and he might tell her about the nature of the plague because he would feel that he would be able to trust her. So as Luke sets off to find Abeloth himself, leaving Ben and Vestara aboard the Emiax, he encounters Akanah Norand Goss Pell, a Fallanassi he once knew, and finds out from her that her organization is actually hiding Abeloth, since the entity herself is somehow a Fallanassi. And as Ben and Vestara arrive, having disobeyed orders to stay behind with the Emiax, the Sith also arrive, having managed to respond to one of Vestara's calls that she sneaked past Ben.
However, High Lord Taalon is now undergoing a strange transformation because he gained great superhuman abilities that have gone beyond his previous Force powers via immersion in the Pool of Knowledge. Luke agrees to help Taalon and the rest of the Sith find Abeloth so that she can tell Taalon what is happening to him and then they can kill her. But once they do find Abeloth, who has now taken over Akanah's body, nearly all of the Sith, except for the Skywalkers, Taalon, and Vestara, are attacked by illusions cast by the Fallanassi. Abeloth then leads the four of them into a meeting hall where she manages to manipulate Taalon, by offering to tell him what he is transforming into, in order to command Vestara to turn on the Skywalkers. As Ben duels off against Vestara and Taalon, Luke and Abeloth fight, and he kills her again, only to find out that she has another body in the form of Callista Ming. In the end, Luke and Ben are both defeated, severely wounded, and planned to be executed. However, Vestara, knowing that Abeloth is a greater danger and that Taalon would only become her puppet to control the Sith, turns on the High Lord and kills him.
On Coruscant, the Solos and several other allies—including C-3PO, Zekk, and Taryn Zel—break into the prison where Valin and Jysella are being held in and free them. Meanwhile, the Errant Venture holds a sabacc tournament so that its Captain, Booster Terrik, and his crew can use the highly-placed people aboard, such as Wynn Dorvan, Drikl Lecersen, and several others, as hostages while the Venture fires at orbiting satellites around Coruscant. This is a ruse to lead the Sixth Fleet's attention away from the Jedi Temple as the Jedi prepare to launch their StealthX fighters, as Booster and his crew are in cahoots with the Jedi for their efforts in saving his grandchildren, Valin and Jysella. As the Fleet chases the Errant Venture right before it goes into hyperspace, the StealthX launch is nearly impeded by the actions of the disgraced Kenth Hamner. Hamner, in his futile bid to keep Daala's interests at heart, tries to regain his authority in the New Jedi Order by attempting to kill Saba Sebatyne, who is leading the Jedi against Daala. As he and Saba engage in a duel, Hamner tries to impede the launch in a way that the Alliance Military can react to. In the end, Saba ends up wounded and is forced to kill Hamner in order to ensure the success of the launch. With Hamner now dead, the StealthXs make it off Coruscant and to Pydyr. The other Masters then formally appoint Saba the interim Grand Master of the Order until Luke Skywalker returns. She is stricken with regret because of her fellow Master's demise, and vows to accept whatever punishment Luke raises against her when he returns to his position as Grand Master.
As Abeloth flees after a lengthy fight against her and the Skywalkers following Taalon's death, the StealthX fleet arrives and battles the Sith forces, who have recovered from the false attacks by the Fallanassi. Although Vestara still claims she's not willing to embrace the light side of the Force, she knows that killing Taalon will get her executed in her society. So Vestara decides to stay with the Skywalkers as they are her only remaining allies. Luke and Ben allow her to join them if only she treats them as true allies. She agrees and saves them yet again by killing the Sith who were about to kill them. The three of them take the Jade Shadow, confirm their identity to the Errant Venture, and prepare to find and track down Abeloth to finally put an end to her.
In the aftermath of the StealthX launch and the Horn siblings' freedom, Daala threatens Saba to attack the Jedi Temple. However, she, Corran Horn, and Cilghal all remind her that if she takes any drastic measures, then so can the Jedi Order with their own hostages aboard the Errant Venture. While Daala doubts that the Jedi would ever go that far, she nevertheless backs down, as such an attack would be a public relations disaster for her in either case—at least until the hostages are returned.
Allana Solo, her Jedi guardian Bazel Warv, and her pet nexu Anji discover a hidden catacomb deep within the New Jedi Temple where Tesar Sebatyne and three other Barabel Jedi have made a nest for their spawn. The Barabels wish to keep the nest a secret, and are willing to either kill Allana, Bazel, and Anji, or have them join them for the next two months. Allana agrees to keep their secret if they, and Bazel, agree to keep her secret: Her name is not Amelia Solo, it is Allana, granddaughter of Han and Leia Organa Solo, daughter of the late Jacen Solo and Hapan Queen Mother Tenel Ka Djo. With that, the novel ends with the Barabels letting Allana, Bazel, and Anji leave so that the latter three can join Han, Leia, Corran, and Mirax Terrik Horn in watching Cilghal and Tekli unfreeze Valin and Jysella from their carbonite prisons.
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