the present. “How did you know the Sith had attacked Coruscant before we exited the negotiation room, Aryn?”
“I didn’t,” Aryn admitted. “Not with certainty. I only knew that …” She tried and failed to keep the emotion from her voice. “Master Zallow had been killed. And when I saw the look in the eyes of the Sith …”
Syo moved a step closer to her, as if he would protect her from her grief.
“Master Zallow is dead, then,” Dar’nala said, stiffening. Her words sounded tight, the grief leaking through her control. “You are certain?”
Aryn nodded but said nothing more, simply built a wall of her will to hold back tears. Syo seemed to want to offer her comfort, but instead he did nothing.
“We all mourn him, Aryn,” Dar’nala said. “And the others lost today.”
Aryn could not keep the anger from her voice. “Yet you would have us return to negotiate with those who did this.”
Dar’nala stopped in her tracks, turned to face Aryn. Aryn knew she had overstepped. Dar’nala’s voice remained level, but the heat in her eyes could have set Aryn afire.
“There are billions of people on Coruscant. Children. Their lives depend upon us acting judiciously, not rashly. Your emotions are controlling your tongue. Do not let them control your thinking.”
“She is right, Aryn,” Senator Am-ris said and put a hand on Aryn’s shoulder. “We must think of the good of the Republic.”
Aryn knew both of them were right, but it did not matter. She would get justice for Master Zallow, one way or another.
“Forgive me, Master,” she said. “Senator.”
“I understand,” Dar’nala said, and the group started walking again. “I understand all too well.”
* * *
Zeerid tried and failed to sleep in his chair for a few hours while Fatman pelted through the blue tunnel of hyperspace. Instead,