The Vortexians were a sentient species inhabiting the Mid Rim world Vortex. They were thin, brittle-boned reptomammals who flew on leathery wings. Although they were a flying species, they lived in underground hummocks. While Vortexians seemed inscrutable and nearly emotionless by Human standards, they were capable of creating music that was considered beautiful both by the Vortexians themselves and by members of other species. Throughout the galaxy, the Vortexians were renowned for the Cathedral of Winds, a colossal building on Vortex that created music by vibrating with the wind. Annually, the Vortexians played a concert in the Cathedral, flying through it to open and close windows and doors, using the Cathedral like an organ. The structure became one of the Twenty Wonders of the Galaxy but was generally considered a myth until the Vortexians joined the Old Republic.

However, the Vortexians still had few extra-planetary interests. When the Galactic Empire replaced the Republic, the Vortexians felt repelled and refused to play their annual concert again. In 11 ABY, they began playing their music again and they invited dignitaries from the New Republic, which had since succeeded the Empire. However, remnants of the Empire sabotaged the event, and the Cathedral was destroyed, with the blame initially going to the New Republic. Once the real guilty party was identified, the Vortexians—who had already built a new Cathedral—joined the New Republic. They aided that government during the Yuuzhan Vong's invasion of the galaxy years later.

Biology and appearance

Vortexian was the name of the sentient species native to the planet Vortex, in the Glythe sector of the Mid Rim. They were a species of humanoids with avian, mammalian, and reptilian characteristics. An adult individual could reach as much as two meters in height. The Vortexian body was covered with hairless, soft, rubbery skin that was green in color with white and grey spots. Each Vortexian had graceful physical features that emphasized the species' natural agility. They were slender beings, particularly in their limbs, being generally weaker than most Humans. The Vortexian head was flat and pointed, dominated by a vestigial beak. Their pupil-less, ebon-black eyes were covered by lids that were occasionally prone to callosities. Although they could move by walking, Vortexians were winged beings and had two leathery, transparent flaps going from the wrist to the hip. The Vortexians could use these wings to fly although their three-meter wingspan was almost too short to allow this. Vortexians could also glide using their wings along with their hollow bones—a skill that changeling species were unable to reproduce. Their flight ability was also adapted to the natural, gale-force winds of their homeworld; while non-native pilots found that flying in those winds was very difficult, Vortexians boasted great maneuverability during the stronger cyclones there. Much of this was due to their experience in intently watching the native currents; over a lifetime, a Vortexian could predict the changes in weather more efficiently than specialized technology.

At the end of each wing, a Vortexian had one four-fingered manipulative appendage. The hand had an inter-digital membrane similar in appearance to their wings, although this film did not reach the last phalanges of the fingers. The most external digit was a partially opposable thumb. As the hands and arms were attached to the wings, a Vortexian could hold items such as weapons in hand while flying, but he or she could not use them. Each leg ended in a foot with three forward-pointing toes.

Vortexian lungs were adapted to the pollution-free atmosphere of Vortex; consequently, they were very susceptible to contracting illnesses in more polluted environments. Diseases to which Vors were susceptible included dioxo-brionchiectasis shock, hemorrhagic molting, lungrot, and silicalung.

The Vortexians were very intelligent beings, comparable to the Cereans in sheer reasoning capacity. Although autonomous individuals, Vors coordinated well in groups, working together with little or no communication and making use of a sort of collective mind. Other species believed that this ability was more related to natural bio-chemicals than to cultural reasons. With a life expectancy of 85 standard years, a Vortexian was considered an adult at 16 and could work until he or she was 70 years of age.

Society and culture

Culture

The Vortexians were a creative, studious, and hard-working people who disliked conflict and made good use of their natural intelligence without rejecting manual work. Nevertheless, to outsiders they were most famous as emotionless, imperturbable beings who seemed not to react to important or dramatic events happening around them. As such, the species appeared not to be affected in moments of great tragedy, or even joy; however, this was a wrong impression on the part of strangers. Vortexians were indeed concerned and touched by such events, like most other sentients; they simply did not express those feelings in a way that non-Vortexians could easily interpret—except when they composed music with this goal. Indeed, the calm, peaceful, spiritual Vortexians tried to stifle their personal emotions and maintain composure when among others. As a species, Vortexians were much more centered around the needs of a collective before those of any individual, trying to grasp what they called "the bigger picture." Vortexians allowed themselves outbursts of emotion only in private. A side effect of this talent to hide emotions was an unparalleled skill at negotiation and a penchant for deceit in games of chance. Despite their closed nature, parts of the Vortexians' body language could be understood by aliens: for example, baby Vortexians nested and curled up to protect themselves. Vortexian music had galaxy-wide reputation, as it could elicit emotions in other beings, although the exact feeling depended on the listener. Aliens considered the Vortexian voices to be particularly beautiful when in song—and the winged beings usually sang whenever working at something that did not require them to use their voice for other purposes. However, non-Vortexians found the species' speaking voices less appealing and weak. This view notwithstanding, the Vortexian language, also known as Vortexlex, had a rhythmic, melodic sound that made good use of the Vortexian ability to chirp. Vortexians wrote their language in imitation of the natural wind spirals of Vortex, and most of them could also speak Basic. Vortexians commonly had one-word names, such as Deskalur, Inchiiri, Kaliopi, Wiliran, and Yiruthir. Others had names of two parts separated by a hyphen, such as Krini-shen and Sha-viri. Vortexians could also have a name and a surname, as exemplified by Senator Fyg Boras.

Vortexians had little need for clothes, as they interfered with flying, but they did cover their genitals and, in the case of women, the top of their chest. Vors manufactured a delicate material known as Vors-glass that was used in ornamental glassware through the galaxy from at least 19 BBY to at least 27 ABY.

Habitat

Vortex, the native planet of the Vortexians, had an unusual axial obliquity that caused severe seasonal changes and very strong winds during a months-long season. Some 6500 million Vortexians lived in a tribal society on the world, which was classified as their homeworld by the Republic to reflect that it was not primarily a trading center or a stronghold of any kind. The Vortexians shared the planet with the non-sentient bird known as the goa lawah. The Vortexians lived in small, partially buried dwellings in the mountains and plains of Vortex, which were covered in magenta, tan, and vermilion-colored grass. Vortexians commonly took shelter from stronger tempests and hurricanes in their domiciles whenever they noticed a storm coming and during the season of storms. As the Vortexians were technologically advanced, they could have easily built more resistant buildings, but they considered individual homes to be of little historical relevance and thus more useful if they were recyclable. Monuments, on the other hand, were supposed to be perdurable and impressive, with the Vortexians using their natural sense of harmony and keen aesthetic sense to build elegant wonders and impressive artistic achievements.

The bunker-like, circular homes were built in concentric circles around a cultural center of their civilization. Each settlement was considered autonomous and unrelated to the others, but Vortexians worked together, regardless of their area of origin, to maintain monuments and spaceports.

The Cathedral of Winds

The Cathedral of Winds, sculpted by the Vortexians millennia before the Battle of Yavin in the grass plains of Vortex, was a mountain-high building of several hundred meters in height. Whenever the wind blew through it, the Cathedral vibrated, producing music. The Vortexians decided to build it because they were prone to sing and create music whenever they worked. The Cathedral reflected the sunlight on its outer surface. It was mostly hollow, with hundreds of open chambers, rooms, and corridors of different sizes. Although ethereal, delicate, and crystalline in aspect with some organic tint, the Cathedral was a very strong building. This was due to the fact that its construction was based on a complex organic blueprint, which gave it a hardened structure able to resist the strongest winds for dozens of decades.

Once a year, during the solstice of the storm season, the Vortexians celebrated a galaxy-renowned cultural fete known as the Concert of the Winds. During the event, flying Vors manipulated the windows, doors, and openings of the Cathedral of Winds, sometimes covering them with their own bodies, according to a choreographed plan that they communicated to each other secretly and without sound in a completely synchronized way. Thus, the wind blew through the thousands of flutes and over them, transforming the Cathedral into an enormous organ as it was struck by and filled with the strong winds. This exquisite, re-echoing, plaintive sound was known as the music of the winds. This was an eagerly awaited event, because the music, partially created by the specific weather, partly by the secretive Vortexians, could not be repeated. Additionally, the Vortexians did not allow any kind of recording of the concert.

To the Vors, the Cathedral of Winds was the core of both their society and their planet, physically and spiritually, as well as their most cherished masterpiece. The Vortexians also believed that playing in the Concert was the highest distinction a person might aspire to.

History

The Vortexians were recorded to inhabit the galaxy during the Pius Dea crusades (12,000 BBY–11,000 BBY), albeit only unofficially. During this conflict, the scout Hicco became the first outsider to view the Cathedral of Winds. The general population outside Vortex considered stories of such a monument magnificent but ultimately no more than legend. Nonetheless, the Cathedral became one of the Twenty Wonders of the Galaxy as compiled by Vicendi in 10,000 BBY. Only when Vortex joined the Galactic Republic in 3,977 BBY did their symbol and their species enter the conception of reality of the average galactic citizen. Despite this affiliation with the Republic, Vortex was only a symbolic member, as Vortexians rarely desired to leave Vortex. They adopted technology from the Republic, including space travel. They built spaceports for aliens, albeit only limited-service ones, because the Vortexians themselves would rather fly by their own means in their atmosphere and felt little need to fly outside Vortex. Once the spaceports were finished, the Vortexians welcomed tourists and began to export food and raw materials, buying in exchange middle- and high-level technology. The Vortexians even bought weather-predicting satellites to keep track of unexpected storms; the Vortexians themselves, being better meteorologists than the satellites, did not need these, but incoming tourists felt comfort from knowing that such devices were available. In 188 BBY, the Treaty of Vortexians was signed.

In 22 BBY, during the Separatist Crisis, a number of Vortexians were living on the planet Coruscant. A study of the Rhire Medical Academy showed that the high pollution in the galactic capital was very harmful for the weak-lunged Vortexians, as well as for several other species, including six avian species. The contamination was mostly caused by industry and by civilian traffic, and it could cause severe illnesses. Soon after this event, during the Clone Wars, Vortex fell within the territory controlled by the Republic rather than its rival, the Confederacy of Independent Systems.

In 19 BBY, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine of Naboo proclaimed himself Emperor of the Galaxy and began the Galactic Empire. The Vortexians considered the Empire as the perpetrator of several excesses that were to be resisted. As the Vortexians were a peaceful species, they did not resist militarily; instead, they ceased to welcome visiting aliens, although they did not close the borders of Vortex to tourists. Also, as an objection to Palpatine, the Vortexians sealed all the openings in the Cathedral of Winds to prevent its music from sounding, thus canceling the annual Concert of the Winds. During Palpatine's reign, the species refused to perform for any non-Vortexian. During the New Republic's rule, the Shi'ido anthropologist Mammon Hoole included an entry on the Vortexians in his publication The Essential Guide to Alien Species.

The New Republic

In 11 ABY, after Palpatine's death, the New Republic made advances to the Vortexians, courting them to join the new, anti-Imperial government. As a token of good will, the Vortexians invited Leia Organa Solo, a diplomat from the New Republic, to the Concert of the Winds. Organa Solo's friend, Admiral Ackbar decided to ferry her using his personal ship, a B-Wing shuttle customized by himself and by his trusted chief mechanic Terpfen. Unbeknownst to Ackbar, Terpfen was an unwilling agent of the Galactic Empire, obeying Imperial Ambassador Furgan. Terpfen sabotaged the ship, causing Ackbar to crash into the Cathedral itself, destroying it and causing the death of more than 358 Vortexians. The Vortexians began the reconstruction of their Cathedral almost immediately and with a near-religious fervor. Instead of building exactly the same Cathedral, they followed a new layout that apparently existed only in their collective minds. This new Cathedral, although still bright, crystalline, and made of cylinders, was sleeker than the original and had a more organic aspect. The Vortexians directed all of their creative energies to this new task, not wanting to sing or perform any music until they could finish. Although the unflappable species filed no official complaint against the New Republic, the government retired the membership offer they had made to the Vortexians. Initial investigation, also sabotaged by Terpfen, suggested that the only possible cause of the disaster was a piloting error by Ackbar himself. The Admiral thus resigned from his post. New Republic Chief of State Mon Mothma sent a Human relief team to help the Vortexians rebuild with General Wedge Antilles as their temporary leader. Antilles visited Vortex along with Qwi Xux, an Imperial scientist whom he was to protect. A former musician herself, Xux picked a flute from the ruins of the Cathedral and extemporized a melody, inadvertently breaking the Vortexian taboo against music until the work was complete. The Vortexians, still peaceful, realized that their point of view had not been understood and sent Krini-shen, Chief Council of Vortex, to make an official communiqué explaining that music in Vortex could be considered a mockery but clarifying that Xux's melody would not be reproved as it had been clearly a misunderstanding. Partly as an apology, Xux provided the Vortexian with quantum crystalline technology of her own creation for use in the new Cathedral; the Vortexians accepted the gift. Xux's memories of these events were strong enough to survive a mind erasing performed on her by a Dark Jedi soon afterward. Before the Cathedral was rebuilt, Organa Solo discovered the Imperial involvement in its destruction. She then cleared Ackbar's name and that of the New Republic, and notified Vortex and other planets. Only months after the disaster, the Vortexians completed the Cathedral and again invited New Republic dignitaries to a new Concert. Many attended, including a pleasantly surprised Ackbar and Xux. For the first time in decades, the Cathedral played again, performed by flying Vors and with no machine recording the music. The Vortexians opened all the windows and doors for the grand finale. Although the Vortexians mostly adhered to the same rules and laws as before the accident, they established a no-fly zone of two kilometers around the Cathedral to avoid a similar disaster in the future.

The New Jedi Order and beyond

In 13 ABY, Xux ended a romantic relationship with Antilles. Xux considered that Vortex was the only place in the galaxy where she had done a good deed and decided to return to there. She asked the Vors to allow her to work on Vortex, and the Vortexians welcomed her to carry out a job of her choosing on their planet. She stayed there for more than a decade, until at least 25 ABY, not hiding her presence there. At that point, the population of Vortex numbered in the billions. Later that same year, with the Yuuzhan Vong War intensifying, several Vortexian refugees went to Salliche Ag's camp on Ruan. There, the Vortexians built an artificial nest to avoid living in the garbage; thanks to this, they lived better than most of the other refugees, except for the Rybets. In 26 ABY, Vortexians made up a sizable percentage of the 12,000 refugees hosted by the Senate Select Committee for Refugees in the Settlement 32 of the planet Duro. As Duro was a highly polluted planet and Vortexians were prone to pollution-sicknesses, breaches in the dome were a high, if potential, danger, so the dome had to be carefully maintained. These Vortexians, like many of the others, felt a great respect for Jaina Solo, a pilot of Rogue Squadron and war hero. The one Hutt among the refugees, Randa Besadii Diori, considered that treating him like one of the Vortexians—who were being treated like any other refugee there—was an insult, and he demanded special privileges. Due to a possible infection of Yuuzhan Vong bio-technology, Settlement 32 was evacuated, with the émigrés sent to nearby Gateway. The Vortexians, being more vulnerable than many species, were provided with breath masks. Gateway was afraid of some external agent entering their area in the fur of some aliens, so they offered to accept only Vortexians and Vuvrians because, lacking any hair, they could be irradiated quickly. However, the leader of the derelicts, Jacen Solo, refused. Once on Gateway, the Vortexians offered to perform a dangerous and much needed maintenance task that could potentially sicken them. Jacen Solo respected their pride and willingness but asked them to call him should they find any threat. They did so when attacked by Fefze beetles sent by Yuuzhan Vong leader Nom Anor. Solo took care of the beetles and assessed the threat that the perimeter breach would mean; considering pros and cons, Solo made the refugees abandon Duro, as they were no longer safe there. In 27 ABY, Vortex came under direct attack from the Yuuzhan Vong. The New Republic pilots of Wraith Squadron spent six months trying to go through the frontier between Corellia and Vortex, during the Battle of Vortex. However, the Yuuzhan Vong had too many dovin basal interdictors in the area, and the Wraiths were unable to win the fight. The Vortexians became one of the species more directly impacted by the Yuuzhan Vong advances. In 28 ABY, the New Republic lost most of its area of influence, including Coruscant, as well as their leader, Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya. Moving the command center to the planet Mon Calamari and forfeiting self-proclaimed Chief of State Pwoe, the New Republic organized a new election. The main contenders were Cal Omas from Alderaan and Fyor Rodan from Commenor. The Vortexian Senator Fyg Boras of Vortex, a supporter of Rodan, managed to reach Mon Calamari with many Vor refugees. Boras was then approached by representatives of the Smugglers' Alliance, led by Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde. Calrissian offered Boras 25 tons of supplies for the refugees in exchange for his support to the YVH 1 combat droids, produced by Tendrando Arms—an interest of the Alliance. Boras accepted the supplies and tried to sell them for his own profit. Unbeknownst to him, Karrde and Calrissian had flooded the market with similar products, preventing Boras from gaining anything. After the vote, Calrissian used a recording of his previous conversation with Boras to blackmail him unless Boras changed his support from Rodan to Omas. This, along with other measures, eventually led to Omas being chosen Chief of State.

Over a century later, by 137 ABY, the Vortexian homeworld had fallen into territory controlled by Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire.

Vortexians in the galaxy

Except for a minority, Vortexians held little interest in leaving Vortex to visit other worlds. Even those who did so rarely ranged far from their homeworld. Instead, Vortexians tended to choose a simple life away from galactic politics and free from the dominant trends of the galaxy. Vortex did have advanced technology due to their contact with the galaxy. Vortexians on other planets ware rarely fighters, preferring to concentrate on research, diplomacy, or technology. Some became aerobats: striking, show-off fliers who danced and pirouetted in flight for their own enjoyment. During the time preceding the Clone Wars, some Vortexians lived on the planet Coruscant and, due to the great use of contaminants there, suffered a number of illnesses. Later, during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, Vortex was captured by the Yuuzhan Vong. Thousands of Vors were forced to abandon their native planet and re-settle in camps on worlds such as Ruan, Duro, and, later, Mon Calamari. Many of these Vors supported the New Republic and its military pilots, who were fighting determinedly, to recover Vortex from the extra-galactic invaders.

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