I glanced at Knox. His expression hardened.

“These extremists have taken our lands, they’ve captured and tortured our people, and they’ve killed countless innocent men, women, and children, all in the name of their own ideals that destroyed the very foundation of our society less than a century ago,” she continued, looking straight into the camera. “My uncle, Prime Minister Daxton Hart, is working tirelessly to secure the country from the dire threat they pose, and he will stop at nothing until he has ensured the safety of every last American life.

“I’m not here today to appeal to the Blackcoats,” she added. “We cannot reason with the irrational, and there are no words that could possibly express our sorrow and grief over the losses our people have suffered at their hands. Rather, I stand before you today to ask for the support of everyone watching right now. If you or someone you know has information leading to the identification of those who supply or support these terrorists, we ask that you step forward. We need your help to stop this senseless violence and bring people like Celia Hart and Lennox Creed to justice. Not only will we reward everyone who comes forward with information that leads to the eradication of these criminals, but you will also gain our eternal thanks and the thanks of your fellow Americans.

“The time has come for us to fight for our freedom, our safety, and all we as a nation stand for,” she said, holding her head high as if she were speaking to a stadium full of people instead of a single camera. “Stand with us, and together, we can overcome this dark time in our history. Together, we can defeat these radicals who want nothing more than to destroy the peace and prosperity we’ve worked so tirelessly to create. Together, we can prevail.”

Somerset faded away, replaced by the newscaster once more. Knox turned the television off, and for several seconds, neither of us said a word. Silence smothered me as the weight of what had just happened settled on my shoulders, and I replayed her words over and over again in my mind.

There was no hidden message. There was no secret meaning.

Somehow, someway, Daxton had convinced the voice of the Blackcoat rebellion to speak for him instead.

“A Lila on each side. This should be interesting,” I said coolly. “Guess it’s a good thing I’m not going anywhere, isn’t it? You’re going to need me.”

And without waiting for Knox’s reply, I turned around and walked out the office door, heading back upstairs where Benjy was waiting for me.

Tags: Aimee Carter The Blackcoat Rebellion Science Fiction
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