The Cestus Deception is a novel by Steven Barnes that was first published by Del Rey in hardcover on June 1, 2004. The first paperback edition was released on March 1, 2005. The book is part of the Clone Wars multimedia project. There is also a special bonus included inside the book: The Hive, an exclusive story previously available in eBook format only. The HoloNet News story from HoloNet News Vol. 531 46, which first references Ord Cestus, is also included at the start of the book.
Ord Cestus, a planet mostly barren and inhospitable to life, was first colonized as a prison world—until a handful of hardy pioneers discovered its rich ore deposits and managed to build up a successful droid-manufacturing industry. But when the Clone Wars erupted, bringing severe rationing of imported resources and a Republic ban on the production of battle droids, Ord Cestus was threatened with imminent economic collapse.
Enter the Confederacy of Independent Systems—the Separatists—with a life-saving offer to purchase a generous quantity of the planet's most lucrative export: bio-droids. Possessed of tactical capabilities that rival the fighting abilities of even the most advanced Jedi, these sophisticated, techno-organic hybrid units would prove a most formidable weapon if ever deployed for military use. And now the Confederacy's intention to invest in what amounts to an army of bio-droids has sent ripples of alarm through the highest echelons of the Republic government.
Determined to halt the bio-droid sale—but fearing a show of force will result in a political backlash—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine dispatches a team of envoys, led by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their mission: persuade Ord Cestus's government to abandon its dealings with the Confederacy…while secretly stirring up revolution among the planet's struggling underclass. Diplomacy is paramount. But if all else fails, the Republic will not hesitate to launch a full-scale attack—and wipe out not only the means of bio-droid production, but countless lives as well, to demonstrate the consequences of disloyalty.
For Obi-Wan, the prospect of such wholesale slaughter only serves to fuel his growing suspicions about the sinister path the Republic seems to be taking. But the brash Jedi Master Kit Fisto and the detachment of clone soldiers assigned to the mission are ready and willing to do the Supreme Chancellor's bidding. As the leaders of Ord Cestus refuse to capitulate and Palpatine rapidly loses patience, Obi-Wan's hopes of a peaceful resolution are dwindling. Now, facing a crisis of conscience, Obi-Wan must find the wisdom and strength to prevent a bloodbath and safeguard the Republic—while abiding by the ancient code to which he has pledged his life.
When the economically depressed government of Ord Cestus threatens to sell incredibly deadly battle droids to the Separatists, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine dispatches a team led by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi to the planet. Their mission: to halt the deal. A peaceful resolution is preferable, but if all else fails, the Republic will not hesitate to demonstrate the consequences of disloyalty by launching a full-scale attack—wiping out not only the means of biodroid production but countless lives as well. The prospect of such a slaughter only fuels Obi-Wan's growing suspicions about the sinister path the Republic seems to be taking. Facing a crisis of conscience, Obi-Wan must find the wisdom and strength to prevent a bloodbath and safeguard the Republic—while abiding by the ancient code to which he has pledged his life.
With the Clone Wars raging across the galaxy, a new threat has emerged that plagues the Jedi. A series of new Jedi-killing droids, JK-13, have started to be manufactured on the planet Ord Cestus. Based on biotechnology, they have limited Force abilities that allow them to anticipate a Jedi's moves. Despite the fact that Ord Cestus is allied with the Republic, the Separatists have their eye on the droids and the planet. Seeing a possible threat emerging on the backwater planet, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine dispatches the Jedi and a squad of elite clone commandos to deal with the problem. They are led by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's mission is to approach the Cestian leadership and solve the crisis by diplomatic means. With the help of the mollusk-like Doolb Snoil, Obi-Wan engages the planetary leaders and the Five Families of Cestus Cybernetics. Meanwhile, Kit Fisto and a clone trooper squad are secretly dispatched to the planet to start fomenting a rebellion if the diplomatic approach fails. Fisto quietly travels among the working class of the planet and starts recruiting fighters for possible war. Those rebels are then trained by the clone troopers. Things are significantly complicated, though, when Count Dooku sends Asajj Ventress to stir things up.
Amid this backdrop of political intrigue is the story of Alpha-class ARC Trooper A-98, or “Nate”. The ARC trooper, engineered to be more free thinking than his more common brethren, begins a journey of self awakening. His emotions develop and for the first time he begins to question why he is fighting for the Republic, something unthinkable for a clone trooper. More significant, though, is his growing love for Sheeka Tull, a pilot aiding Kit Fisto and a former flame of Jango Fett.
When Obi-Wan and Snoil's plans for political negotiations falter, the Republic task force stationed on the planet shifts to Plan B, where Kit disguises himself as a Force-sensitive terrorist who is an old enemy of Obi-Wan's. When Kit captures the Five Families members, Obi-Wan confronts him and in an orchestrated duel, Obi-Wan sends Kit to run away and thus, with this, it appears that Ord Cestus will shift its attention away from the Separatists. Unfortunately, around the same time, Asajj Ventress happens to be on the planet, making a deal with a gang member named Trillot who could help out the Separatists in the Clone Wars, and Ventress places a camera in Obi-Wan and Kit's "fight". Ventress then delivers the camera footage to Caiza Quill, one of the Five Families members and a cousin to Cestus's main ruler, G'Mai Duris, and when Quill presents this footage to the Five Families, the deal with the Republic is called off, thus resulting Obi-Wan and Kit, with the clone troopers, to start a rebellion against the Five Families. Obi-Wan tried to send Doolb Snoil off planet, but unfortunately, Obi-Wan's escape pod from the ship he was evacuating almost kills him when it crashes, and Snoil is also forced to evacuate back to Cestus as battle droid starfighters from the Separatists fire on him, which blows up the ship and kills the clone trooper, Xutoo, flying it.
Meanwhile, as Nate's relationship with Sheeka Tull grows stronger, the clone trooper decides to call himself Jangotat, because since Nate is a clone of Jango Fett and Fett was Mandalorian, Jangotat is Mandalorian for "Jango's brother". Obi-Wan and Kit also spend time befriending the clones, even teaching them how to do Jedi-performing techniques, and although the clones are unable to defeat the Jedi in combat, Obi-Wan and Kit are still impressed. As the Republic-formed rebellion lies low in the catacombs of Ord Cestus, the Jedi Killer droids are activated and they locate the rebellion in the catacombs. Many clones and rebels native to Cestus are killed, including Snoil who sacrificed his life to save Obi-Wan from one of the Jedi Killers. Jangotat is also almost killed by one of the Force-sensitive droids, but he is saved by Sheeka Tull, who departs the catacombs with the clone trooper and goes to the outskirts of the planet to a cult which could heal Jangotat's heavy wounds.
As days pass on with Obi-Wan and Kit's rebellion striking against the Five Families' activities, Jangotat spends peaceful days in the cult which healed him, and with Sheeka. Eventually, Jangotat returns to the rebellion and reunites with the three other surviving clone troopers from the Jedi Killer attack; Forry, Sirty and Seefor. However, around the same time, things grow worse for the rebellion, as Obi-Wan receives a message personally from Chancellor Palpatine that if the conflict on Cestus isn't resolved in time, he will send Republic forces to bomb the planet from orbit.
In the end, Obi-Wan and Kit are lead beneath Cestus by Trillot, who Obi-Wan has been making dealings with so maybe she could join the rebellion, and Obi-Wan and Kit are forced to confront Asajj Ventress and several other native Cestians. Meanwhile, Jangotat goes against Obi-Wan and Kit's orders to stay put with his clone brothers, and the rebelling clone trooper had to fight and defeat Forry for it. After Jangotat's victory, he travels with two of the rebel members, Thak Val Zsing and Resta Shug Hai, into the area where the Five Families are hiding from getting killed from the orbital bombing. When the trio are almost there, Jangotat and Zsing knock Resta unconscious because they didn't want her getting killed. Later, when the two soldiers are at the area, they are confronted by a Jedi Killer, but Zsing sacrifices himself by blowing himself up to defeat the droid. It isn't destroyed immediately, and Jangotat finds out that the reason for the droid's defeat was because of the explosion, it lost the serenity it had with the Force. Then Jangotat makes a holocron containing this information for either Obi-Wan or Kit, and he redirects the orbital assault into his area, killing him and all the Five Families.
Back with Obi-Wan and Kit, Obi-Wan is still forced to fight the Cestians while Kit engages Ventress in a lightsaber duel. After Ventress defeats Kit and nearly kills him, Obi-Wan gets past the Cestians and duels Ventress himself. Their duel leads underwater at a nearby chasm where their rebreathers are knocked out, and after Obi-Wan makes a slash somewhere on Ventress with his lightsaber, the apprentice of Count Dooku disappears, leaving Obi-Wan the victor of the duel and he rescues Kit. Afterwards, the two Jedi and Sheeka Tull find Jangotat's holocron, gain the information and a funeral is held for Jangotat, where Obi-Wan secretly reveals to Sheeka that he knows Jangotat impregnated her somewhere near the end of their stay at the cult. Meanwhile, Ventress kills Trillot by slashing one of her lightsabers at her because of Trillot's failure that was the destruction of the Jedi Killers by Jangotat's machinations, and also that Trillot accidentally saw Ventress' dreams of death and destruction whenever the gangster slept. Afterwards, Ventress departs Cestus and Trillot's brother, Fizzik, is left to wonder if he will take his relative's crime business.
After Jangotat's funeral, Sheeka looks at the clone trooper's grave and silently promises him that their child will have a name, not a number that clones of Jango Fett are regularly given.
- ISBN 9780345458971; June 1, 2004; Del Rey; US hardcover
- ISBN 9780345458971; 2004; Del Rey; US hardcover, Science Fiction Book Club edition (1165374)
- ISBN 9780345458988; March 1, 2005; Del Rey; US paperback
- ISBN 9780345492708; December 6, 2005; Del Rey; US eBook
- ISBN 83-241-1914-0; 2004, Amber, 376-page Polish paperback
- ISBN B00GGGU4P8; 2006; Editura Amaltea, 384-page Romanian hardcover (Complotul De Pe Cestus)
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Weapons and technology
Behind the scenes
Shar Shar was named after Steven Barnes's niece. Skot OnSon was named after a helpful friend and contributor, the martial artist Scott Sonnon. ChikatLik was named after Andrew Liptak, one of the staff of CloneWarz.com.