Rising Darkness (Rylee Adamson #9) - Page 21

Her voice was clear on the airwaves. “Thank you for having me here. I am so pleased to bring you this information directly. We have found a cure for the small pox, and we’ll have enough for everyone in a few short days.” She paused and took a deep breath, her bust swelling. Still using her old techniques, at least that much hadn’t changed. “Our shipments will be coming in four days, and there will be enough for everyone. Orion Starling is the philanthropist behind the cure. A generous man, he used his own money to make this happen. He asks nothing in return, and only hopes he can save as many people as possible.”

A tiny voice spoke up and a microphone was shoved into Milly’s face. “Can you tell us more about Mr. Starling? Where is he from, how did he manage to discover a cure?”

Milly gave the speaker off screen a beatific smile. Staged was the first thought that came to my mind. The whole thing was staged. But of course it was. Propaganda using the humans’ airwaves and fear against them.

“He’s an amazing man, and even though he is hunted continuously by terrorists, he has fought hard to make sure this cure could be available for everyone. It will be an airborne chemical. Caught on the air currents of the world it will spread to everyone within a matter of days.”

Deanna gasped. “They’ll push the chemical with magic. That’s the only way to make it go that far that fast.”

“It’s probably not even a chemical,” Doran said. “They’re just saying that to cover for the fact that Orion is in charge of the pox. He can stop it with a single word.”

They continued to talk behind me, but I just stared that the screen. Milly looked good, her eyes bright and skin glowing. She lifted a hand. “Yes, there is something we can do to help Mr. Starling. These terrorists, they are, as I said earlier, actively hunting him. If they were to find and kill him as is their plans, then all his efforts will

have been in vain.”

A new microphone was pushed into her face. “What can we possibly do?”

“If you see these terrorists, you can alert the proper authorities. They aren’t dangerous to you, only to Mr. Starling.”

And then the pictures flashed on the screen. Perfectly drawn pictures of me. Doran. Alex, which got more than a few gasps from the audience. Berget. And then a nice long shot of me.

“Why isn’t Pamela or Frank in that line-up?” Berget asked the question that had just begun to cross my mind. My heart sank. All eyes turned to me, the question hanging in the air. Right then, I knew no one else would say it. It was up to me. Alex let out a whimper and clutched at my leg. “Oh no, Pamie.”

“Because she’s not one of us anymore.” I closed my eyes and backed away from the TV and the den. Alex followed me, the click of his claws on the floor, a steady staccato. I slumped onto a bench halfway down the hall.

“Shit.” I put my head into my hands. I should have taken her with me. I should have done more when I came back. Pamela had defected and it was my fault for not seeing the signs.

Alex crawled up beside me and draped a fore leg across my shoulders. “Not your fault.”

He’s right. The darkness has a claim on some souls. They have to fight it harder than others. Such was her path to make the decision.

“That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done more.” Suddenly I was very, very angry. Liam brought this on us, his stupid idea of chivalry. Or whatever the hell had gone through his pea-sized brain.

I dropped my swords to the floor and strode into the den before I thought better of my actions. “Liam, get your ass here right now.”

Faris glanced at me, his blue eyes fading to a deep burnished gold. “I know, this is my fault.”

“Damn straight, you idiot!”

Doran choked. “You . . . you really are Liam,

aren’t you?”

Faris nodded. “For the moment. Rylee, I already said I was wrong, I know it, you know it. We can’t change this.”

I slapped him. Hard. Blood welled at his lip as he turned his face back to me. “This”—I waved at the TV where Milly continued to smile at the crowds—“is not what I’m worried about. Pamela is out there, and defecting because of everything that happened. This isn’t just your fault. It’s mine, too.”

“And mine,” Deanna said softly. “I saw the signs that she was slipping and ignored them because we were so busy with the sick and dying. I could have tried harder to reach her.”

Doran lifted his hands. “Everyone, calm down. Pamela isn’t lost to us. Not yet. How do we know she didn’t go to try and stop Milly? We don’t. Rylee has been her mentor and idol for almost a year. What would you do, Rylee, if you thought you could save your family?”

The pounding in my head eased. “Anything.”

Doran continued. “We don’t know that she has defected. And Frank is with her, isn’t he?”

I pulled the note from my pocket and handed it to him. “Frank said she’s running away. And he’ll try to bring her back.”

Faris shook his head and his eyes were once more blue. He put a hand to his jaw. “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I end up with the bruise.” He rubbed his face. “May I point out that Peta is also with her?”

A sigh of relief slipped out of me. “That’s true.”

She’s flown the nest, let her test her wings, Blaz said, and everyone nodded in agreement. Right now, she has to find her way through this on her own. If she’d chosen to stay, you could have helped her, but this is her choice. Respect it.