felt the mocking eyes of the Sith male upon her and could barely contain a shout of rage. Before leaving the room, she knelt and picked up one of the coral beads from her shattered bracelet.

Chapter 3

Malgus surveyed the ruin. The shell of the drop ship still smoked and burned in places. Bits of blackened metal dotted the hall. Walls and columns had been reduced to piles of jagged rubble. Cracks veined the walls and ceiling. Light from the days dying sun traced dust-filled lines from roof to floor. Bodies, many of them Sith, but more of them Jedi and Republic military, lay strewn about the floor, amid the rubble. A few groans sounded here and there. The Mandalorian stood in the Temples shattered entrance. She held her helmet under her arm and the sun glinted on her long hair. Her eyes moved across the destruction, the hard line of her mouth showing no emotion. She must have felt Malguss eyes on her. She met his gaze and nodded. He returned the gesture, one warrior acknowledging another. She pulled her helmet back on, turned, ignited her jetpack, and lifted off into Coruscants sky. The Empire would see to her payment.

Of the fifty Sith warriors who had assaulted the Temple, perhaps a score remained on their feet. Malgus was displeased but not surprised to see Lord Adraas among the living. They, too, shared a look across the ruin, but no mutual gesture acknowledged their kinship as warriors. Neither credited the other with anything.

With the battle over, the remaining Sith warriors assembled near the drop ship and raised their fists in a salute to Malgus, shouting a victory cry amid their fallen foes. For a moment, Adraas stood among them and did nothing, merely stared at Malgus, then he, too, reluctantly joined the salute. Malgus let his tardiness

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