to Alderaan spoke until they had cleared the hall. No one seemed to know what to say. Aryn struggled to keep their collective emotional turmoil at bay. Like her, they were bouncing randomly among grief, rage, and disappointment. Even Darnala was struggling to stay centered, though she appeared outwardly calm.

Darnala finally broke the silence, her tone, at least, all business.

We need to reach Master Zym as soon as possible. I need his counsel.

How can we be sure he is alive? Satele asked. If Coruscant is fallen

As one the delegation faltered. Syo and Aryn shared a look of shock. It had not occurred to Aryn that Master Zym, too, might have been lost.

I would have felt it if he were dead, Darnala said, nodding as if to assure herself. Arrange a secure communications link, Satele.

Yes, Master Darnala.

No one is to leave here, Darnala said to all of them. Aryn saw that the Masters eyes were bloodshot. When word of the attack reaches the public, the press will want comment. We are to give none until we have settled on our course. I will speak for this delegation for now. Agreed?

All nodded, even Senator Am-ris.

This will ultimately be a decision for the Republic to make, Senator, Darnala said. The Jedi will advise, of course.

Am-ris slouched when he spoke, weighed down by events. I will discuss matters with the acting head of the Senate, he said.

The Senate may not exist as of today, Darnala said. You may have to act in its stead. Your advisers here can assist you. We will support you and whatever decision is ultimately made.

Worry lines creased Am-riss forehead. He swallowed, nodded.

They walked through the empty corridors, despondent. The High Council building had been vacated for the negotiations.

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