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"Sonora." A voice calls from outside my tent.

I sit up, rubbing my eyes. The morning air is cold and damp. It's early. Too early.

"I'd like to leave today." Another adds.

With a huff, I stuff my feet in a pair of dusty boots. I weave my long, black hair into a single braid. I stand, slinging my quiver over my shoulder, and snatch my bow from beside the sleeping bag. I run my fingers along the intricate, beaded grip before dashing out of the tent.

"Morning, sleeping beauty."

I scowl, glaring at the older boy. "Don't call me that."

Another boy, Johnny, slings his arm over my shoulder playfully. "Oh, c'mon. Denali's only playin', little sister."

I shrug out from under Johnny's heavy arm. "Not your sister." The two Comanche boys were only a few months older, but each has almost a foot on me. "I'd like to leave today." I mock, heading for the corral.

"Jeez, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed." Denali mutters.

The three of us walk through the rows of tents. A woman beats the dust out of a woven blanket, and a child chases a puppy around a laundry rack.

My face instantly brightens when I spot my horse amongst the others. I whistle to him, and he trots toward me, snorting affectionately. "Rio." I greet him, rubbing under his chin. "How have you been?"

I toss a blanket over his back, kissing his warm, velvety nose before securing my saddle.

He's beautiful. A patch of white shaped like Texas is smeared across his side, with other white splashes across his shiny, chestnut body, like someone spilled some white paint on a brown horse.

He nuzzles my palm gently, probing for treats.

Denali secures a bow and quiver to his back, sliding a beretta into its holster on his waist. Johnny drops a rifle into its place on the side of his saddle, and straps a serrated hunting knife to his thigh. He loosely holds a hastily sharpened walking stick in his right hand.

I sigh as I watch the two preparing weapon after weapon. A cruel reminder of the new world, I suppose.

We mount our horses as the sun rises on the summer plains.

"Runners." The older man tips his big, white cowboy hat.

"Chief." We greet him, the horses growing restless.

"Where're you going?" He asks. He wears a dented bolo tie, the same as every day.

"We're thinking bout' going to Georgia this time." Denali answers, patting his horse's side. "Take a look around."

"That's a long ways. You'll be gone for weeks." The Cherokee man's forehead wrinkles with worry.

"The towns around here are just too small, Chief. We've looted them for all they got." Denali explains.

The older man looks unconvinced.

I sigh. "The camp grows every day, Chief. It's great we're taking care of all our people, but we need more supplies." I add.

"You've been our runners a long while, so I trust your decision." He agrees. The chief looks at the red horizon, then back at the three of us. "Be careful out there. The world isn't what it used to be."

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