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"Edge of Victory 1: Conquest": Book 7 in The New Jedi Order

chapter discussion thread

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#26
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 25:
 
Uunu tells him that there is already one Jedi being held captive on this world and it is said others could be here, too.  No one remembers him being brought here.  He doesn’t act like a slave.
 
He knows he could get rid of her now, but doesn’t want to hurt her.  He realizes she wanted him to be a Jedi.  She tells him he would have attacked her by now if he were anyway.  Besides, she had warriors hiding nearby just in case.
 
He asks if turning in a Jedi would have elevated her out of the Shamed Ones.  She says that would be up to Yun-Shuno, the goddess of the Shamed Ones. 
 
As they work, he asks how one becomes shamed.  She tells him some are born that way while others are cursed for their misdeeds.  He casually mentions that he’s heard some do not believe they deserve this.
 
She knows he speaks of Vua Rapuung who was once a warrior and is now nothing.  He invents lies to make his status more bearable.  He claims a shaper infected him with something that produces the marks of Shame because he spurned her advances.
 
This cannot have happened because the gods of the lovers, Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q’aah, would never bring a warrior and a shaper together.  Rapuung has become more erratic of late and may be destroyed soon.
 
She doesn’t understand why he would show concern for a Shamed One.  He tells her that he’s concerned for all living beings.  She asks if he thinks a Jedi would be concerned for a Shamed One as he would for someone else.  Anakin tells her he’s known Jedi and they protect all life, killing only when they have to.  She thinks he’s lying.  That type of thinking gives hope to those who do not deserve it.
 
Anakin sneaks out of the slave quarters that night and heads to the fields where he finds the last of the harvested lambents and attunes one the way he’s seen Uunu do it.  He cuts open the plant and pulls out the gem.
 
He heads to the pool and pulls his lightsaber out before someone calls to him.  Hiding in the shadows, he claims to be a nothing Shamed One.  The shaper tells him to move along so she can contemplate her own suffering.
 
He needs time and privacy to work on his saber, but Uunu is not likely to give him that.  He cannot wait for Vua as Uunu grows more suspicious every day.  Hul Rapuung seemed to express a similar wariness that very day.
 
He runs along until he runs literally into Vua Rapuung.  Vua tells him they tried to kill him so they have to act now.  Anakin answers that he’s not ready yet.  He has to fix his lightsaber first, but it may take a couple of days.
 
Vua tells him they don’t have that long.  Anakin asks if the caverns below the Great Temple are still there.  Vua didn’t know about them.  He goes to get some gnullith breathers to help them.
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#27
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 26:
 
Nen Yim is approached by an Initiate named Tsun who has been assigned by Master Kwaad to assist them.  Nen knew nothing of assistants being assigned. 
 
He explains that the master is meditating today toward the rumoval of her Vaa-tumor.  Nen isn’t sure that she believes he was sent by her, though.  Tsun tells her he is honored to meet her and point out they have a mutual acquaintance in [b]Yakun[/b[ who had worked with her before he became a heretic.
 
He spoke of her well toward the end.  This brings sadness to Nen.  Tsun admits he did not intend to upset her but that Master Kwaad asked him to explain why they were confidants.
 
Nen realizes that this is how Mezhan Kwaad is telling her that Tsun is also a heretic.
 
The Jedi’s eyes are unfocused.  Her memories are being altered using a modified protocol because her brain is too different.  She asks the Jedi her name.  The girl hesitates and says it’s Riina Kwaad.
 
He realizes that they are pursuing a superprotocol that involves not asking the gods.  She cautions him that they must not speak of this outside this room.  Nen tells him that he must grow new memories for her that will allow for her Jedi powers.  They will work on a way for her to accept implanted memories while working on her cells. 
 
Rinna watches them and doesn’t understand why she’s here.  Something is wrong.  She knows she’s not supposed to be here.  They call her Riina Kwaad, but her mind screams Tahiri.  She hears a word Anakin.  She screams, leaps and slams into a barrier, reaching out at the Force to choke them.  She screams that she is a Jedi and her name is Tahiri.
 
Nen explains to Tsun that the girl resists.  In time, the provoker spineray will follow all the reroutes of her nerve clusters so she has no memory in or out of those memories. 
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#28
Jedi Cool

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chapter 27:
 
Anakin squeezes through a damutek root with Vua, knowing he has to rebuild his lightsaber.  Tahiri sometimes seems distant to him, as though he’s not recognizable to her.  He can see where she’s being held and what her jailers look like.  She is confused.   She has to last a couple of more days.
 
He asks Vua if he was really tampered with because of a love affair.  Vua is irritated that Anakin knows of this.  He explains that they both knew their love was forbidden, but didn’t care, believing the twin gods, Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q’aah, had taken pity on them.  They hadn’t and the relationship was broken off.
 
She did not react well.  She said there were no gods and that believing in them was a superstition.  He never would have told anyone what she said but she feared he would denounce her.  This Mezhan Kwaad is spiteful and made him appear Shamed so that nothing he said would be believed.
 
Anakin tells him he’s rebuilding his lightsaber with the lambent.  The Force is generated by life and binds all things together. It’s in all things.  The Jedi Knights are born with an aptitude for the Force, an ability to sense it, control it and guard its balance.
 
Vua does not understand why he has to be concerned about the Yuuzhan Vong when they do not even appear in this Force.  Anakin’s words do not make sense.  If he’s impling the Yuuzhan Vong are part of this Dark Side, why do they not appear in the Force at all.  In his mind, his actions are the same as Anakin’s.  They both do the same things.  Anakin may have powers he does not have, but that doesn’t mean he must accept Anakin’s explanation of where they come from.
 
Anakin just needs to be sure Vua will not throw a fit if he starts flinging a lightsaber with a lambent inside of it.  Vua tells him that the dods led him to Anakin because of the vision Yun-Yuuzhan sent him regarding a Jedi with a blade of light helping him get his vindication.  This is why he followed Anakin down here.  This is why he has not killed him. 
 
The lambent is not cooperating with the Force.  Anakin concentrates, but realizes that the Force isn’t in the Yuuzhan Vong and it’s not in their biotech either.  Then he understands that Master Yoda was wrong. 
 
If the Jedi stand for nothing but seeking balance, than he should have no business fighting the Yuuzhan Vong.  He can rescue Tahiri as preventing her from using her powers in darkness is part of his mandate but the Yuuzhan Vong’s actions have no effect on the Force, regardless of how bad they are.
 
Killing disturbs the Force but he’s not sure it unbalances it.  There is no dark energy gathering around the Yuuzhan Vong.   It all makes sense when it’s predicated on the idea that the Force is in everything.  But it isn’t.
 
The Jedi are confronted with a new reality that has caused Kyp to go out shooting and Jacen to hide. 
 
Yet, Anakin knows it’s not right for the Yuuzhan Vong to kill whole planets or enslave people.  That is evil and must be fought.  If this doesn’t send alarm bells through the Force, then Anakin must be serving something more fundamental than the Force. 
 
Whatever happened to the Yuuzhan Vong, they traveled to the Dark years ago and left whatever light they had behind them.  This doesn’t make them all evil but it makes them worth opposing.
 
He reaches for the parts of his lightsaber in the Force and presses harder.  He may have to work with their technology, but there must be u nity here.  He is the link that bonds the saber and the lambent together.
 
When he’s done, he tells Vua that if the shapers want Jedi, one is coming to them.
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  • So Anakin is coming up with a moral code that is outside the Force? 

 
 


#29
Jedi Cool

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Part III: Conquest:
 
chapter 28:
 
Nen Yim reports that the memory implants should be permanent.  The Jedi resists them less than she did when last Kwaad was here.   The master asks the Jedi her name.  The answer is Riina.  Riina explains that the infidels captured her as a chld and made her look like one of them.  She was given false memories of Jedi powers.
 
Sometimes she feels like she is someone else.
 
Kwaad tells her that the conditioning was done well and the infidels tried to wipe her memory completely which caused some damage. Riina was born with certain powers but was taught lies about them.  Kwaad fears that her injuries might have crippled those powers.
 
Riina admits she cannot even think about them.  Kwaad promises to help her.  Nen reminds her that there are times when the other identity asserts itself.  Removing the provoker spineray, and the promise of pain, may backfire.
 
Kwaad asks the girl to raise a stone with her mind.  The memory is painful and brings pain, but the Yuuzhan Vong embrace pain.  When the stone rises, she has Nen map the brain areas showing the most activity.
 
Later, they talk about how the abilities are not located in a single area of the body.  They are nonlocalized.  There is no indication she has been modified in any way.  It could be the result of selective breeding.  There is some data that this Force runs strongly in some families more than others.  They will need a larger number of Jedi.
 
Unfortunately, Mezhan Kwaad must have her Vaa-tumor removed.  Nen Yim thought she’d already done that during her absence.  The assistant she’d sent told her this.
 
Kwaad was actually called to a convocation of shapers and kept in seclusion.  She sent no assistant whom Nen confirms knew things about her and what they do here.  Kwaad explains they only suspected, so got her out of the way for a short time and sent in a spy who got evidence from Nen.
 
Master Phaath confirms this when he comes to take them into custody.
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#30
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 29:
 
Anakin and Vua climb back up the root and Anakin notices something:  Vua Rapuung exists for him now.  Not in the Force, but through the lambent to Anakin’s mind.
 
Tahiri’s presence is still here, but it gets fuzzier every day. 
 
Vua leads the way through the dumatek and doesn’t react at all when they come across several Yuuzhan Vong who do nothing.  Vua assures Anakin they’ve already sent the alarm because there’s no reason a Shamed One and a slave should be here.
 
Vua warns him not to inhale.  Anakin holds his breath and cuts through the wall and through another corridor, too, until they fall into a large chamber. Vua kills one shaper and orders the other to take him to Mezhan Kwaad.
 
The shaper takes them to the door where Anakin cuts through and nearly through a warrior on the other side.  A fierce battle ensures in which Anakin and Vua fight for their lives and results in Anakin being knocked out.
 
When he wakes up, he finds that Vua has taken care of things.  Vua tells him that warriors never come here unless invited.  The fact that there were warriors here means they’ve come to arrest a shaper or take something from them.  Anakin realizes he means Tahiri.
 
Anakin knows she was here but not where she’s gone.  He senses something at his back, turns and spots more warriors rushing in.  Behind them, he sees the blond of Tahiri’s hair.
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#31
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 30:
 
Vua confronts one of the warrior who had fought side-by-side with him.  Mezhan Kwaad has been taken to trial for her heresy.  Vua will not allow her to be taken until she admits she has wronged him.
 
They toss him a weapon and tell him they will fight him as the warrior he was.  Vua refuses and challenges them to fight him bare-handed. They agree so long as he keeps the Jedi out of the fight.
 
Anakin would really rather go after Tahiri.  Vua reminds him she is with the shaper.  If they lose one, they lose the other.
 
It takes a little over a minute for Vua to wipe them out anyway.
 
However, the Yuzzhan Vong tells Anakin he must keep him from dying until Mezhan Kwaad has been forced to speak the truth. 
 
They cut through the roof and watch down from above.  Anakin reaches out to Tahiri and finds they’re going to board a ship.  They leap down and slip through an exit and head to the ship compound.
 
He ignites his lightsaber and runs to the ship where warriors toss thud bugs. They miss him but he hears Vua grunt.  Tahiri insists she is Riina Kwaad.  The commander tells him that he will kill the girl if Anakin doesn’t stand down.  He knows that Anakin is Jacen’s brother.  It is preferable to take him alive, but he has no problem with crippling him.
 
Vua holds his hand over his stomach and reminds Anakin of his promise.  Anakin agrees to come with the commander on the condition that he compel Mezhan Kwaad to speak the truth.
 
Mezhan refuses to tolerate being questioned by a liar.  The square fills with warriors and Hul Rapuung yells that she should not fear being questioned by a mad man, unless he is not one.
 
The commander does not necessarily believe Vua, but knows that Mezhan Kwaad is already guilty of one treachery, so it follows that she is probably capable of others.  He requires that she answer truthfully any questions asked of her via the truthhearer he already has for her interrogation.
 
Vua asks if it was her who deliberately gave him the appearance of a Shamed One or the gods. She announces that there are no gods. Everything that has happened to him has been her doing.
 
She spreads her fingers and they elongate into long spears that kill the commander and the guards nearby.  They injure Anakin and Vua. 
 
She pulls out a nut-like object and announces it’s a huun that will eject a nerve toxin fatal to everyone if she’s not allowed to leave.  She is taking Nen and orders her to drag Anakin and Vua aboard.
 
Anakin’s lightsaber floats toward them.  Kwaad sends a jolt of pain to Anakin that scrambles his thoughts but does not stop the lightsaber. Too late, she realizes he was not the one controlling it when Tahiri grabs it and decapitates her.
 
At first, she doesn’t believe he is who he says he is, but relents.  The moment doesn’t last because Hul Rapuung and the other armed warriors are on their way. 
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#32
Jedi Cool

Jedi Cool

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chapter 31:
 
Hul Rapuung raises his amphistaff to have the honor of killing Anakin.  Vua rises up and says that none of them will fight the Jedi while he lives.  His brother assures him that he is Shamed no more.
 
Vua maintains he never was Shamed and they all know it now.  Anakin tells Vua that this is over, but Vua says he will die soon and will give Anakin this small chance.  He leaps at the front rank of warriors.
 
Anakin and Tahiri run to the ship, trying to figure out how to fly it.  He sees Vua Rapuung die.  Tahiri yells something in the Vong language that Anakin’s tizowyrm translates into a command to close the mouth of the ship.
 
The ship complies.  It would appear that she knows how to speak to it.  She tells Anakin that they put thinks in her head and she doesn’t know what’s real anymore.  They struggle to pull the ship up.  The Vong headgear responds to Tahiri but it tries to urge her to come back down.
 
She tosses it off and they land hard.  Anakin tells her to run.  They go together, despite Anakin’s injured leg, using the Force to wrench a huge tree out of the ground and pummel it into a Yuuzhan Vong ship. 
 
Another ship appears and it’s Remis Vehn’s transport.  Qorl pops his head out and tells them to come aboard.
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#33
Jedi Cool

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chapter 32:
 
Karrde tells Kam Solusar that a transport just broke atmosphere.  Kam can’t be sure his missing students are on it.  He concentrates and knows it’s Anakin.
 
Karrde orders his ships out, warning his crew that their moment has arrived.  They’re going to hit and be hit.  His crew assures him they’re with him.
 
Vehn tells Anakin to take a gun.  Anakin would rather take the controls but Vehn won’t let him after what happened last time.  Anakin asks about the long-range sensors, but they’ve been repaired yet.  They had to cut those short when the other two sensed Anakin was in danger.
 
Anakin asks Valin and Sannah to tell him what they sense.  They both perceive Kam Solusar and point to the direction.  Anakin tells Vehn to set course.  Qorl and Vehn came to an understanding during their time here.  The former fighter pilot does point out that he’s been shot down twice over this world so they’re not out of this yet.
 
Karrde has Wild Karrde head straight in with Idiot’s Array, Demise and Etherway running escort.
 
The Demise blinks out and the Idiot’s Array, with Shada in command, takes several hits.  Her engines out and reactor critical, she still heads toaward the Vong warship, getting a tractor lock on it. 
 
The ship finally explodes, taking the warship with it.  Karrde had faced death over the years many times, but had always thought Shada would outlive him.
 
The Etherway’s power grid goes down, so Wild Karrde has to go in alone until they spot a red Imperial Star Destroyer arrive. Booster Terrik asks where his grandson is and, when told he’s probably on the transport the large warship is about to swallow, decides to cause some trouble.
 
Anakin is sure that he’s going to be breathing space dust soon when a couple of X-Wings hits the coralskippers in the air and his sister calls in.  Jacen is here and Corran Horn, too.  Anakin tells Vehn to follow their instructions.
 
A day later, the battle is over and the Vong ships are gone.  Karrde tallies up his significant losses and knows he’s too old for this.  Corran Horn comms him and tells him he had been flying one of the X-Wings during the battle.  He wants to thank him for saving his son and the other children.  He knows it cost him a lot.
 
Karrde is grim, then relieved when Shada Du’kal appears on screen.  She tells him she’s not stupid enough to stay on a flaming ship.  They went for the escape pods after she got the tractor lock.  Horn grabbed them before they fell into Yavin’s orbit.
 
 She asks what’s wrong with his eye.  Karrde tells her the air unit has been blowing dust around.
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#34
Jedi Cool

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Epilogue:
 
Jaina explains they thought they’d never find Booster and she was about to give up and fly to Yavin.  It turns out he was running weapons to the Hutts. 
 
Jacen asks how Anakin is doing.  His brother admits his leg still hurts but he’s fine.  In fact, he’s better than fine.  He had no way to think of the Yuuzhan Vong as anything other than enemies until now.  He can see them as real people where he couldn’t before.  This doesn’t mean he can’t fight them. It’s just that now he knows how better to do that.
 
Jacen isn’t sure that’s the lesson he should have learned.  Anakin tells him he’s not going to worry about what lesson he could ‘ve learned had he been someone else.
 
He finds Tahiri in her room, resting.  Booster wiped out the shaper base.  The slaves have been evacuated and will be dropped off somewhere soon.  The Vong could come back but they can’t really do anything about it.
 
There’s nothing left of the academy, though.  It’s just a thing anyway.  The students are staying on board the Venture until a permanent place can be found.  Tahiri doesn’t know that there’s a safe place in this galaxy now. 
 
Mezhan Kwaad destroyed everything she was, Master Ikrit died and so did a lot of Karrde’s people.  It’s all because she stayed behind to be a hero.  Anakin tells her that blaming himself is something he’s good at. 
 
She asks where he’s going now.  He tells her he’ll go back out to fight the Vong eventually when they both heal.  She tells him they will go together.
 
Tsavong Lah asks for Nen Yim’s account of the fall of the shaper compound.
 
She tells him that she knows nothing of the space battle, but the infidels landed after the bombardment.  They recovered the slaves.  She was hiding among the Shamed Ones, believing that anyone of a true caste would be taken prisoner.
 
She hid because her master was killed by the Jedi they were shaping.  She would have been ready after a few more days if the other Jedi hadn’t interfered.  Lah informs her that he has been told that her master was involved in heresy and her work was stained.
 
Nen explains that her master did not live long enough to answer those charges and she cannot answer for her.  However, they learned something valuable from the Jedi that has worth to the Yuuzhan Vong.  With her master dead and the damutek destroyed, only she has that information now.
 
Lah thinks this whole situation was bungled by the shapers and the warriors.  Domain Kwaad has failed with the Jedi, so Domain Phaath will take over.  Nen knows this means the problem will never be solved because the masters are mired in old ways.  She vows to continue her master’s work.
 
Lah also asks her if she has heard of a new heresy among the Shamed Ones about the Jedi.  She tells him that the Shamed Ones admire them because Vua Rapuung was redeemed by Jedi Solo.  Some of the Shamed Ones now feel that their redemption lies with the Jedi.
 
Lah vows to cause this heresy to die on the moon now.
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