closed to five paces, four. The male Sith took a fighting stance. They would fight not with lightsabers but with their handsclose, 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 Darnalas voice. Jedi Knight Aryn Leneer!

Syo, too, called to her. Aryn! Stop!

The combination of Darnalas and Syos 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 Darnala. The negotiations were a ploy.

Darnala did not speak for a moment. Then, You felt this?

Tears fought to fall from Aryns eyes but she forced them back. She nodded, unable to speak.

Master Darnalas next words hit Aryn like a punch in the stomach.

Listen to me, Aryn. I know. I know. But hear me nowCoruscant is in Imperial hands.

Aryns 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 Darnala 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

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