closed to five paces, four. The male Sith took a fighting stance. They would fight not with lightsabers but with their hands—close, bloody work.
Aryn used the Force to augment her strength, her speed. She felt it flowing within and around her, turning her body into a weapon—
“Aryn Leneer!” a commanding voice said, Master Dar’nala’s voice. “Jedi Knight Aryn Leneer!”
Syo, too, called to her. “Aryn! Stop!”
The combination of Dar’nala’s and Syo’s voices penetrated the haze of her emotional state. She faltered, slowed, stopped. Reason elbowed its way past her emotional turmoil, and she gave voice to her thoughts. Without taking her eyes from the male Sith, she said, “The Sith have betrayed us, Master Dar’nala. The negotiations were a ploy.”
Dar’nala did not speak for a moment. Then, “You … felt this?”
Tears fought to fall from Aryn’s eyes but she forced them back. She nodded, unable to speak.
Master Dar’nala’s next words hit Aryn like a punch in the stomach.
“Listen to me, Aryn. I know. I know. But hear me now—Coruscant is in Imperial hands.”
Aryn’s breath went out of her. The statement did not make sense. Coruscant, the heart of the Republic, had fallen to the Empire?
“What?” Syo asked. “How? I thought—”
“That cannot be,” Aryn said. She must have misheard. She turned from the male Sith, who had recaptured his sneer, to face the leader of the Jedi delegation
Master Dar’nala stood in the archway, her skin a deeper red than usual. Senator Am-ris and a senior Jedi Knight, Satele Shan, flanked her. The Senator, a Cerean whose ruff of white hair topped the cliff of his furrowed brow, towered over the other two. His worried eyes looked out from a wrinkled face but focused on nothing. He looked lost.
Satele, on the other hand, looked as tightly