Chapter Sixty-Four

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Jeremy grabbed a small ring of keys from a hook by the back door and dragged May out into the night. She stumbled over her own feet in her effort to keep up with his long strides, but she didn't complain.

At the back of the small yard stood a shed overgrown with foliage. He flipped through the keys, examining each in the scant light streaming from the back of the house and muttered under his breath. While she waited, May took a couple cautious steps to where the property dropped abruptly out of sight and peered over the edge. There she found a steep and rocky cliff face that plunged to the lake below. A set of wooden stairs was built into the stone and wound its way down to a small dock that jutted out into the darkness.

The lake was still and silent as the dead.

"I'm such a fucking idiot," Jeremy said, summoning May back to her sense. She returned to the shed with a shiver. "Of course severing the signal would attract the Loyals. I don't know what I was thinking?"

His hand trembled, enough so that he struggled to fit the key into the door's lock. May reached out and took it from him. He didn't stop her.

"You were thinking of your safety." She unlocked the door and stepped aside. "You knew none of you would ever really be safe so long as those devices were working. Besides, you don't really know that the Loyals are coming, you're just assum—"

The exhausted, knowing look he gave her cut the words off in her throat.

"Okay, fine," she relented. "What do we do now?"

In reply, Jeremy pulled the shed door open and tugged on a chain that lit up a dull, bare bulb overhead. The warm light revealed what looked like a small armory. It took May a moment to realize what appeared to be a stash of weapons was probably just the safe and responsible way of storing the tools and other outdoorsy apparati that was no doubt common in a place like this. May eyed an axe and a chainsaw that hung on the wall over a rusting lawn mower while Jeremy made his way to the peeling green cabinet that loomed in the back corner. It required yet another key from the ring to open, which made sense considering what they found inside. A hunting rifle sat upright next to a longbow, its quiver full of arrows hung neatly at its side. Jeremy immediately started rummaging through a set of mean looking knives that, as far as May was concerned, had no business being as big as they were.

Priva blustered in behind them and gave the cabinet's offerings a quick scant. With a click of her tongue, she grabbed the bow and shouldered the quiver.

"Give Connor the gun," was all she said and she turned on her heel. She paused by the door and considered the axe, which she took with her as well.

May, who had all she needed in the Star cannon strapped to her forearm, took the rifle and as many boxes of ammo as she could carry. Her heart was pounding in her chest, shooting pulses of blood roaring in her ears with every beat. In her mind, she wondered when she had crossed the point of no return into what could very well be her last night on earth.

But the adrenaline wouldn't let her fixate on the worst case scenario for long.

They had a fortress to defend.

Back in the yard, May found Priva dousing the cliffside stairs in some kind of sharpe-smelling fuel from a red canister. When it was empty she signaled to Jeremy, who dug through his pockets and handed her a small packet that May strained to see in the shadows. Her ears perked at the sound of a match striking. Sulfur scented the night air as tiny bursts of flame erupted from Priva's fingers before she tossed them down, one after the other. May flinched away as the stairs ignited with a flash.

"There," Priva said once the steps were lit halfway to the water. "That gives us one less thing to worry about."

The back door swung open with a bang. Connor hurried out of the cottage, his eyes reflecting the golden glow of the fire as he made his way to May. He held something out to her; it glinted in the firelight.

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