Invincible (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 9)

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9780345477460: Invincible (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 9)
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No war can last forever. Now, in the long and punishing battle between the defiant champions of the New Jedi Order and the juggernaut that is the Galactic Alliance, the endgame is finally at hand. With so much lost–and nothing less than the course of the future still at stake–there can be no turning back. No matter the consequences.

The rebel cause is losing ground under the twin blows of Admiral Gilad Pellaeon’s assassination and the death of Mara Jade Skywalker. At the same time, having gained the support of the Imperial Remnant and its ruthlessly efficient forces, the Galactic Alliance, with the extraordinary power and dark brilliance of newly ascendant Sith Lord Darth Caedus at its helm, may be unstoppable. Tormented and torn between the call of duty and the thirst for vengeance, Luke has searched the Force and beheld an unspeakable vision of the galaxy enslaved under tyranny more monstrous than even Palpatine’s. Now it seems that the last, best hope lies in mobilizing the scattered Jedi for one decisive search-and-destroy mission. The objective: eliminate Darth Caedus.

It’s a plan that will be as difficult and dangerous to execute as it is daring. For Caedus is a scion of both the Skywalker and Solo bloodlines whose command of the Force surpasses even that of his grandfather

Darth Vader. There is only one who is bound by destiny to stand against him in what will surely be a duel to the death, only one with an outside chance of bringing down the dark lord who was once Jacen Solo.

Failure is not an option. The furious final moments between power and peace are here, and whoever confronts Darth Caedus will decide the outcome–and the fate of those left standing.

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About the Author:

Troy Denning is the New York Times bestselling author of 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 and Inferno, 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.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

What’s the difference between a lightsaber and a glowrod? A lightsaber impresses girls!
–Jacen Solo, age 14 (shortly before he cut off Tenel Ka’s arm in sparring practice)

HE HAD MADE A FEW MISTAKES. CAEDUS COULD SEE THAT NOW.

He had fallen to the same temptation all Sith did, had cut
himself off from everything he loved–his family, his lover, even his
daughter–to avoid being distracted by their betrayals. He could see
now how blinding himself to his pain had also blinded him to his
duty, how he had begun to think only of himself, of his plans, of his
destiny . . . of his galaxy.

Self-absorption.

That was the downfall of the Sith, always. He had studied the lives
of the ancients–such greats as Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd, Exar
Kun–and he knew that they always made the same mistake, that
sooner or later they always forgot that they existed to serve the galaxy,
and came to believe that the galaxy existed to serve them.

And Caedus had stepped into the same trap. He had forgotten
why he was doing all this, the reason that he had picked up a lightsaber
in the first place and the reason that he had given himself over to the
Sith, the reason that he had taken sole control of the Galactic Alliance.

To serve.

Caedus had forgotten because he was weak. After Allana had betrayed
him by sneaking off the Anakin Solo with his parents, his pain
had become a distraction. He had been unable to think, to plan, to
command, to read the future . . . to lead. So he had shut away his feelings
for Allana, had convinced himself that he was not really doing this
for her and the trillions of younglings like her, that he was doing
this for destiny–for his destiny.

It had all been a lie. Even after what Allana had done, Caedus still
loved her. He was her father, and he would always love her, no matter
how much she hurt him. He had been wrong to try to escape that.
Caedus needed to hold on to that love whatever it cost him, to cling to
that love even as it tore his heart apart.

Because that was how Sith stayed strong. They needed pain to keep
the Balance, to remind them they were still human. And they needed
it so they would not forget the pain they were inflicting on others. To
make the galaxy safer, everyone had to suffer–even Sith Lords.

And so there would be no angry outbursts when he confronted
the Moffs over their unauthorized adventures, no demonstration killings,
no Force chokings or threats to have his fleets attack theirs, no
intimidation of any sort. There would be no consequences at all, for
how were they to know of the worrisome things he had been seeing in
his Force visions lately–the Mandalorian maniacs and the burning asteroids,
his uncle’s inescapable gaze–if he failed to tell them? Whether
blunder or master stroke, the taking of the Roche system was as much
his doing as the Moffs’, Caedus saw now, and he was beyond punishing
others for his mistakes. Starting today, Darth Caedus was going to
rule not through anger or fear or even bribery, but as every true Sith
Lord should, through patience and love and . . . pain.

Caedus finally crested the winding pedramp he had been ascending
and found himself looking down a long tubular tunnel coated in
the gray-yellow foamcrete the Verpine reserved for their royal warrens.
At the far end–guarding one of the shiny new beskar-alloy blast
hatches that had done absolutely nothing to stop the Remnant’s
aerosol attack–stood a squad of white-armored stormtroopers. Their
gray-striped shoulder plates identified them as members of the Imperial
Elite Guard, and the two tripod-mounted E-Webs set along the
walls suggested they were serious about preventing unauthorized access
to the chamber beyond.

The stormtroopers were still turning in his direction, no doubt
trying to decide whether the single black-clad figure striding toward
them was anything to be alarmed about, when Caedus raised a gloved
hand and made a grasping motion. The squad leader raised his own
hand as though returning the greeting–then was knocked off his feet
as both E-Web supply cables tore free of the power generators and
came flying down the corridor with weapon and tripod bouncing
along behind them.

The remainder of the squad swiftly moved to firing positions,
dropping to a knee in the middle of the corridor or pressing themselves
against the tunnel wall, and brought their blaster rifles to their
shoulders. Caedus sent a surge of Force energy sizzling down the corridor,
reducing the electronic opticals inside their helmets to a blizzard
of static. They opened fire anyway, but most of the bolts went wide,
and those that did not Caedus deflected with the occasional flick of a
hand.

He was still ten paces away when the squad leader pulled his helmet
off and, bringing his weapon to bear, began yelling for the others
to do the same. Caedus raised his arm, catching the leader’s bolts on
his palm and deflecting them harmlessly down the tunnel. As the second
and third man prepared to open fire, he flicked a finger toward the
leader’s blaster and sent it spinning into them. It slammed the second
man into the wall and knocked the third’s weapon from his hands.

Caedus summoned the leader forward with two fingers, using the
Force to bring the astonished soldier flying into his grasp.

“I have no intention of harming anyone beyond that door,” Caedus
said, making his voice deep and commanding. “But I have no time
to waste, so I won’t hesitate to kill you or your men. I trust that won’t
be necessary?”

The sergeant’s eyes bulged as though his throat were actually
being squeezed shut–which it was not–and his face paled to the
color of his armor.

“N-n-no, sir. N-not at all.” The sergeant motioned for his men to
lower their weapons. “S-s-sorry.”

“No apologies necessary, Sergeant,” Caedus said. “Obviously, you
haven’t been informed of the new chain of command.”

Caedus set the sergeant’s boots back on the tunnel floor, then
turned to look at each of the others in the squad. He made it appear
that he was requiring each man to look into his yellow eyes, but actually
he was Force-probing their emotions, looking for any hint of
anger or resentment that suggested there might be a hero in the
group. He was down to the last two when he sensed a fist of resolve
tightening inside one.

“Don’t do it, trooper,” he said. “There aren’t enough good soldiers
in the Alliance as it is.”

The fist of resolve immediately began to loosen, but the trooper
wasn’t too surprised to say, “With all due respect, Colonel, we’re not
Alliance soldiers.”

“Not yet.” Caedus gave him a warm smile and turned toward the
blast hatch, presenting his back to the entire squad. “My escorts will
be along shortly. Don’t start a firefight with them.”

When he felt the squad leader motion the hero and everyone else
to lower their weapons, Caedus nodded his approval without turning
around. Then he circled his hand in front of the blast door, using the
Force to send a surge of energy through its internal circuitry until a series
of sharp clicks announced that the locking mechanisms had retracted.
A moment later, a loud hiss sounded from inside the heavy
hatch, and it slid aside into the wall.

Caedus stepped through without hesitation and found himself
looking down on a sunken conference pit where a couple dozen
Imperial Moffs–most of the survivors of the slaughter aboard the
Bloodfin–were rising to their feet, some reaching for their sidearms
and others looking for a place to take cover. Across from them, a small
swarm of insectoid administrators from other Verpine hives squatted
on their haunches, their shiny heads cocked in confusion and their
mandibles spread wide in an instinctive threat display.

“No, please.” Caedus extended his arms toward the Moffs and
motioned for them to return to their seats–using the Force to compel
obedience. “Don’t get up on my account.”

The Moffs dropped almost as one. Most landed in the chairs they
had been occupying, but a couple missed and landed on the floor. Several
of the aides standing behind the Moffs’ chairs were pointing holdout
blasters in his direction, looking to their superiors for some hint as
to whether they should open fire or stand down. Caedus swept his arm
up and sent them all flying out of the conference pit onto the surrounding
service floor.

“I’m afraid this will be a confidential conversation,” he said.

“Leave us.”

When the aides did not instantly obey, he gestured at one of those
who had been pointing a blaster at him and sent the man tumbling out
the hatch.

“Now.”

The remainder of the aides scrambled for the door, many without
bothering to stand. Caedus watched them go, his attention divided
between them and the Moffs, ready to pin motionless anyone who
even thought about raising a weapon. Once the aides were gone, a
simple glance was all it took to send the Verpine administrators scuttling
after them, leaving him and the Moffs alone with a single huge
Verpine with age-silvered eyebulbs and a translucent patch on her thorax
where the carahide was growing thin. She showed no inclination to
rise from her position at the far end of the conference table, where...

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