“No, my lord.”
“Nevertheless I will give you one,” Angral said. “The reason is simple. I was unable to locate you.”
“I had powered down my comlink while—”
Adraas interrupted him and Malgus had to restrain the impulse to backhand him across the face.
“We assumed you to be checking on the well-being of your woman,” Adraas said.
“We assumed?” Malgus said. “Do you presume to speak for Darth Angral, Adraas?”
“Of course not,” Adraas said, his tone infuriatingly unworried. “But when we could not locate you, Darth Angral asked me to speak for you.”
And there it was, unadulterated and out in the open. Not even Malgus could miss it. Adraas had essentially admitted that he wished Malgus’s spot in the hierarchy, and Angral’s participation suggested that he sanctioned the power grab.
Malgus’s voice went low and dangerous. “It will take more than words to speak for me, Adraas.”
“No doubt,” Adraas said, and answered Malgus’s stare with one of his own. His dark eyes did not quail before Malgus’s anger.
Angral watched the exchange, then leaned back in his chair.
“Where were you, Darth Malgus?” Angral asked.
Malgus did not take his eyes from Adraas. “Assessing the post-battle situation around the Temple, my lord. Trying to understand …”
He stopped himself. He’d almost said, Trying to understand why the Empire has not razed Coruscant.
“Trying to understand the planetside situation more clearly.”
“I see,” Angral said. “What of this woman Adraas mentioned? I understand from Adraas’s report that she was a liability to you during the attack on the Temple?”
Malgus glared at Adraas. Adraas smiled behind the rim of the chalice as he drank his wine.
“Adraas is mistaken.”
“Is he? Then this woman isn’t a liability to you? She is an alien, isn’t