report of the battle.

Thank you, Darth Angral.

Angral drew himself up to his full height. You will, both of you, follow my commands without question or hesitation. I will deal harshly with any deviation from that order. Do you understand?

Angral had directed the rebuke at both of them, but Malgus understood it to be intended for him.

Yes, Darth Angral, they said in unison.

You are servants of the Empire.

Malgus, stewing, said nothing.

Both of you leave me, now, Angral said.

Still seething, Malgus walked for the door. Adraas fell in a stride behind him.

Darth Malgus, Angral called.

Malgus stopped, turned. Adraas stopped as well, keeping some space between them.

I know you believe that conflict perfects ones understanding of the Force. He made Malgus wait a beat before adding, I will be curious to see if events validate your view.

What events? Malgus asked, and then understood. Angral would let Adraas make his play for Malguss role in the hierarchy. He entended to see who would prevail in a conflict between Malgus and Adraas, a conflict conducted in the shadows, by proxy, according to all the ridiculous political rules of the Sith.

Subtle, backhanded conflict was not Malguss strength. He glared at Adraas, who glared back.

That will be all, then, Angral said, and Malgus walked toward the doors.

Adraas, remain a moment, Angral said, and Adraas lingered.

Malgus looked over his shoulder to see Adraas watching him.

Malgus walked out of the office alone, the same way he had walked in. He had been made a fool and was being played for Angrals amusement.

Worse, the victory he had so dearly won would be for nothing, a mere lever for the Emperor to wield in peace negotiations. After negotiations were concluded,

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