wound as an ion coil, her gaze fixed straight ahead, her auburn hair mussed, the veneer of her neutral expression unable to mask the emotion boiling beneath it.

Neither Am-ris nor Satele seemed to notice the destruction in the hall. Both looked dazedblank-eyed refugees wandering through the ruins of events. Only Darnala seemed composed, her hands clasped before her, her eyes noting the details in the roomthe broken sculptures, the position of Aryn relative to the two Sith.

Aryn wondered what had transpired in the negotiation room. For a fleeting moment, hope rose in her, hope that her fellow Jedi had perceived the Sith betrayal and arrested or killed the Sith negotiators, but that hope faded as the lead Sith negotiator, Lord Baras, emerged from the chamber and stood near Darnala.

His wrinkled face could not hold the smugness he felt. It leaked out around the raised corners of his mouth. His dark hair, combed back off a widows peak, matched his dark robes and eyes. In a haughty baritone, he said, It can be, Jedi Knight. And it is. Coruscant has fallen.

Satele visibly tensed; her left hand clenched into a fist. Am-ris sagged. Darnala closed her eyes for a moment, as if struggling to maintain her calm.

As of now, Lord Baras continued, Coruscant belongs to the Empire.

How? Aryn began, but Darnala raised a hand.

Say nothing more. Say nothing more.

Aryn swallowed the question she wished to ask.

Deactivate your lightsaber, Darnala said to Syo, and he did. The female Sith did the same.

What happened here? Lord Baras asked, his eyes on the Sith brother and sister, the ruin in the room.

The male Sith bowed, used the Force to pull his lightsaber hilt to his hand, and hooked it to his belt. A slight disagreement, Lord Baras. Nothing

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