Chapter Sixty-Six

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May didn't even stop to see what the Star cannon's blast did to Wyndam from such close range. She hit her knees at Jeremy's side and rolled him onto his back with a sob.

"No, no, no," she cried, clutching his blood-splattered cheek and turning him so she could see his face. His eyes, though open, were unfocused and dimming with each heartbeat. The wound in his chest was gaping, devastating, but she pressed her hands against it anyway. A gurgling gasp of a breath escaped between his bloodied lips as she applied pressure. "We're so close, Jeremy. You can't die. Not now, not like this."

It seemed to take an enormous amount of effort for him to raise his eyes to hers. He swallowed like he wanted to say something, but she shook her head to stop him.

No, this couldn't be it. This couldn't be how it was supposed to end for him — for any of them. This whole thing was stupid and pointless. There would never be any winners in a war like this one. But May didn't need a doctor to tell her that Jeremy's injury was grave, assuming there was any way they could reach one in time.

Then, there in the blood and the mess, the answer to saving Jeremy's life caught on the tower of light reaching skyward, and it sparkled. May could do this — the power was literally in her hands.

Something about her expression must have given away her plan, because Jeremy shook his head weakly and tried to grip her wrists with what little strength he had left.

"Don't," he whispered.

May huffed a quiet laugh and leaned in close. "You don't get to tell me what to do, remember?"

And with that, May closed her eyes, and made a wish.

The result was instantaneous.

The pillar of light emanating from the cottage pulsed like a heartbeat. May's hands were bathed in pure, blinding light so bright she had to squint and turn her head. She could feel Jeremy's skin knit back together under her touch. The flagging, sunken shape of his body expanded as he took in a deep, life giving breath.

When the light of the wish winked out, Jeremy shot up with a spluttering cough. It took him a moment of spitting blood into the grass before he was able to breathe again. He pawed at the hole in his shirt, but the only thing under its tattered fabric and all that blood was his skin, unmarred.

His head raised slowly until he met May's eyes with his own, wide with wonder.

"You used your wish," he said. "You used it on me."

"Of course I did, you asshole," May said, laughing through her tears. She flung her arms around his shoulders and squeezed him tightly.

"But the Stars," he babbled, still unable to comprehend what was happening. He wrapped an arm around her and held on for dear life. "Welkin said it would piss them off."

May pushed out of their embrace. "Fuck the Stars. They can't possibly be as pissed off as I am."

As if on cue, the sky exploded with light. Creatures on either side of the fight scattered to the periphery, shouting and clamoring over one another to get out of the way as six streaking trails of starlight raced toward the earth and touched down with a blinding flash. A great gust of wind sent dust and debris skittering in every direction, and extinguished the fireball wreckage of Wyndam's car into nothing more than a mangled, smouldering heap.

From the dust and smoke emerged five elegant figures, each towering and beautiful as every Star May had ever known. Five of them wore crowns atop their hair, each with a different number of obsidian rods protruding from the circlet. The Star with five points was somehow more exquisite than any of their peers, four was gruff and powerful. Three had a quiet cunning about them, and two wore a fiery expression. And the Star with a single point stood taller than the rest; burned brighter too. Their golden eyes swept the carnage, giving the impression that there was nothing about the scene that escaped their notice. Every Loyal agent left standing sank into deep, revenant bows.

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