stand down until matters there crystallize.

Malgus watched a patrol of Mark VI interceptors fly over. Peace negotiations?

That is my understanding, Darth Malgus.

Malgus seethed, stared at a smoke plume thrown up by a burning skyrise. Thank you, Jard.

Will you be returning to Valor, my lord?

No, Malgus said. But get that transport to me now. I require an audience with Darth Angral.

* * *

The terms of the negotiations prohibited either the Imperial or Republic delegations from posting external security around the High Council building and compound. Instead, both had their extended delegations posted in nearby cities.

Moving with Force-augmented speed, Aryn easily avoided the Alderaanian guards posted on the grounds of the compound. A canine with one of the guard teams must have caught her smell. It growled as she passed, but before the guards could turn on their infrared scanners, Aryn was already a hundred meters away. She did not exit through any of the checkpoints. Instead, she picked her way among the gardens until she reached the compounds walls, veined in green creepers blooming with yellow and white flowers.

Without slowing, she drew on the Force, leapt into the air, and arced over the five-meter wall. She hit the ground on the other side, free.

To her surprise, she did not feel a pull to turn back. She took this as a sign that she had made the right decision.

The High Council building perched atop a wooded hill. Winding roads, streams, and scenic footpaths led down the hill to a small resort town nestled at its foot. Lights from the towns buildings blinked through the trees and other foliage. The susurrus of traffic and city life carried up the hill.

It was late, but not so late that she couldnt hail an aircar

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