Sarah York checked herself one last time in the mirror. She still felt very nervous about going in front of a camera, especially one that would be broadcast worldwide in holo, visual, and audio. She had to look, sound, and feel perfect tonight.
She drew strength from her conviction. Something had to be done. She nodded to herself in the mirror.
"You'll do great kid," she said whispered under her breath.
They were in an old military surplus storage building, known simply as "The Warehouse." The drab old storage house made her stand out brightly. It seemed an odd place to be broadcasting from, but the setting was as important as the speech.
"We're on," said the GRTH camera man.
"Good evening," she said, breathing shallowly, "I am General Sarah York, commander of the American military. I have a message to deliver.
"I have been receiving reports from many fronts where American troops are fighting. I'm referring to the treatment of prisoners and civilians.
"A lot of prisoners have been taken on both sides. That happens in war. But I'm receiving reports and pictures and evidence of brutal treatment of prisoners. Starving, torture, stealing, savage and inhuman things."
Some of the tamer photos and footage were playing on the split screen next to her. The cameraman gave her the thumbs up to indicate the images were flashing by now.
"And, in a total war such as this one, we all know that civilians are affected greatly. But they should not be killed. They should not have their villages and towns and homes burnt to the ground. No country should be pillaging another country. I would hope and pray that the world has become more civilized, even in a time of war, than to go looting and pillaging.
"But most importantly, I have just been informed that atomic bombs have been detonated in Russia by parties unknown.
"This will stop. The rules of war have not been enforced. From now on, the United States will enforce these rules. I know my word does not hold a lot of sway in the Coalition, but my actions will affect you as well as any of the Allies.
"This is Firejack."
York gestured and the camera panned to her left to reveal a large atomic bomb. The camera returned to York.
"If I receive word that any country has been violating the laws of war, I will drop Firejack on that country's capital city. In the Revised Laws of War, atomic bombs were declared illegal, except in retaliation to a country committing war crimes, and only in extreme circumstances. I call these extreme circumstances, and so I will answer illegal nuclear weapons with legal ones as punishment. Believe me, no one wants to avoid nuclear war more than I, but I will not hesitate to drop the first bomb if these war crimes continues. And if Firejack doesn't convince you, then maybe the Deathblow will."
York pointed out another bomb.
"And if you're still not convinced, well..."
York made a sweeping gesture, and the camera showed that the whole storage warehouse was lined with hundreds of nuclear weapons.
"Though almost every country has gone through with complete disarmament of nuclear weapons, apparently at least one has not. And so, the United States will not complete it's disarmament until after The Last War is over. I'm not going to allow this war to get out of control. Soldiers killing each other is awful, but it must happen. Civilian and prisoner deaths are not necessary, nor are illegal nuclear weapons, and they will not continue.
"And we're clear," said the cameraman.
York let out a breath she had been holding. She had been bluffing. America really had only about a dozen functional nukes. The warehouse was stocked with fakes that looked very real. If she had to go through with her promise, she would, but she just prayed the threat would be enough.
The cameraman noticed how tired she looked. When he had been filming, she had seemed vibrant and full of energy. Now she looked burnt out.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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