,()()()!


but the port was too crowded for it.

Ready, he waited.



* * *



The Senate building came into view, a dome of transparisteel with a tower atop its center aimed like a knife blade at the sky. Most of the windows were dark. The transport headed for the landing pad atop the building. Halogens washed the roof in light. Malgus saw a squad of Imperial guards, gray as shadows in their full armor, and a single, uniformed naval officer near the landing pad. The officer held his hand over his hat to keep the wind from blowing it off.

Malgus did not wait for the ship to touch down. When the transport was still two meters up, he leapt out of the open cargo bay and landed before the officer, whose eyes went wide at the sight of Malguss method of debarkation.

The young officer, his gray uniform neatly pressed, his hair neatly combed under his hat, had probably not so much as fired a blaster in years. Malgus did not bother to disguise his contempt. He tolerated the officer and his ilk only because they provided necessary support to those who did the actual fighting for the Empire.

Darth Malgus, welcome, the attache said. My name is Roon Neele. Darth Angral

Speak only if you must, Roon Neele. Pleasantries annoy me at the best of times. And this is not the best of times.

Neeles mouth hung open for a moment, then closed.

Excellent, Malgus said, as the transport put down and its weight vibrated the landing pad. Now take me to Darth Angral.

Of course.

They walked across the roof to the turbo lift. Armored Imperial troops flanked the door to either side of it. Both saluted Malgus. Neele and Malgus rode the lift down several floors in silence. The doors opened to reveal a long, wide hallway lined with office doors to the right and left, and
  






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