It was nearly sunrise. She would have to leave immediately to gain a headstart before the Watchers came. Bandaged and restocked less than an hour after she arrived back at the apartment, Senna made her way from her room towards the stairwell that led outside.
“I’m heading out for a bit, Bax.”
“What?” he exclaimed from his room. “The sun’s coming up, you can’t leave.”
“You always say that!” He came out of his room, holding a handgun that had some wires attached to the barrel. “Here.”
Senna took it. “You modified the only gun we have? We just got this!” she chided, examining it.
“I didn’t change too much,” he replied. “I just couldn’t help myself. Anyways, it should still work fine. We’ve still only got the one magazine, but now it should be able to fire anything small enough to fit and sturdy enough not to disintegrate when the gun fires.”
“I thought the bullet was what caused the explosion.”
“Sure. But it’ll still fire stuff. It could probably fire nails, for example, pretty well now. The simple explanation is that there’s no explosion, just propulsion.”
“Have you tested it?” she eyed him.
“Nope. Didn’t want to waste ammo. Also if that thing explodes, I’d rather you be the one pulling the trigger. You’d at least be able to walk away.”
Right. Baxter wasn’t an Echo. That’s why he stayed home most of the time. At that moment she considered having him run to meet Charon. The Watchers wouldn’t be looking for him. It would be much safer. But at the same time he was barely fourteen. Genius as he was, the idea of sending him out to make a deal with all those things crawling about the streets made her uneasy. It would have to be her.
“If I explode because of this piece of junk I’m never going to forgive you,” she smiled.
“Come on, my experiments always work!”
“Oh, right,” she nodded. “Especially that gas bomb you tried to use as an air conditioning in our last apartment.”
“That’s not fair,” he retorted. “It did work as air conditioning. That building was freezing for a week! But I do see your point. My understanding of chemical stuff is still pretty lacking. At least we got out with all our stuff okay.” He shrugged.
“I should get going. I want to get as far as I can before the Watchers come out at dawn.” She pocketed the gun.
“Be safe,” Baxter said.
“I will.” And with that, she went down the stairwell and out into the open world.
The cool breeze caught her by surprise as she left the building. She tugged at her sleeves, a futile effort to shield herself from the air. A visible exhale and an arm stretch later, she was ready to go. She proceeded out the alleyway and turned down the sidewalk to meet the sun peeking over the distant hills into view.
Directly in front of her was a small, thin frame of what, in the old world, would have been referred to as a dog. It’s legs were little more than fur stretched over bones. It was a mere husk of a creature. Not even it’s eyes contained any semblance of sentience anymore.
Such was the way of all the Watchers’ hounds. They were just tools meant to sniff out and take down. The dawn had come. She had gone all of fifteen feet and she had already come into direct contact with a beast whose sole existence was to weed people like her out of their hiding places.
Getting to Charon would probably prove far more difficult than even she had anticipated.