hearts with the truth. Let them feel some relief, even if only for a time.

A pair of cargo droids wheeled past, beeping in droidspeak.

Vollen stepped closer to her and lowered his voice, as if discussing a conspiracy. So what is happening in the hall of the High Council? We heard the negotiations would continue. How can Darnala justify that? We should be planning a counterattack. The entire Sith delegation should be taken into custody.

Keevo put his hand on the hilt of his lightsaber and mouthed something in Rodian that Aryn took to be agreement. The Rodian looked around as if concerned someone might have overheard.

Aryn felt the creeping pressure of their suppressed anger, their disappointment. They felt betrayed, deceived. She heard in their words the echo of her own thoughts and started to utter agreement. But before the words had cleared her lips, she saw how the words, the thoughts, if given free rein, would fragment the Jedi Order.

For the first time, the consequences of her decision struck her, but even as they did, she knew she could make no other choice. Hers was the sacrifice. Other Jedi, however, could not make the same choice or the Order would disintegrate.

Trust that Master Darnala knows what she is doing, she said.

Vollen made a dismissive gesture and went on as if Aryn had not spoken. There are many of us ready to act, Aryn. If we can coordinate with the surviving members of the Order on Coruscant, we can

Vollen, Aryn said, her voice soft but her intent sharp.

He stopped talking, met her eyes.

Do as Master Darnala says. You must, or the Order falls. Do you understand?

But negotiating with the Sith after this is madness! We are at our weakest. We must retake the initiative

Do as she says, Vollen. I should

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