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Character Nim

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The Stranger in the Woods - Hallows

Chapultepec Park - Mexico City
July 16th, 2018


Alejandra Casoza, a Procurer of the Hallows, tasked to seek out others of her kind and deliver them to the LaFey Conservatoire for Girls for proper training of their abilities, had just come across her most recently discovered prospective student.

Unfortunately, the young girl was quite dead.

Some sadistic bastard had hanged the girl, who had been known as Maria Nuñez, from a tree deep within the Chapultepec Forest in Mexico City. As Alejandra had followed the rumors, talked to the Maria's adoptive parents, and used her abilities to track the girl, she had begun to feel that something was very wrong. Sadly, Alejandra had been too late, and someone else had gotten to Maria first...

And this happened. Procurers globally were reporting increased violence against known Hallows, almost twice the rate as had been the case five years ago. Hell, even the Procurers themselves weren't safe. Alejandra's counterpart in China had been murdered last year, and Alejandra's predecessor, Anna Vargas, had gone missing over two years ago. It was clear that some party was actively hunting Hallows, but who exactly was responsible was a mystery. Alejandra's boss, Edna Winters had advised the Procurers to keep an eye out for people that had somehow acquired an immunity to magic that she had called Rakes, so maybe she suspected them of being involved. Alejandra had never encountered a Rake before, but she kept a Glock G19 and three extra magazines (not the literary kind) in her purse for such an occasion.

Alejandra walked up to Maria's body and sighed. Up until now, she'd maintained an almost perfect record of bringing in identified Hallows, but today, her streak finally ended. All Alejandra could do now was record what she'd seen and what she had learned about Maria and submit the evidence to Edna, who could choose to start an investigation if she deemed it necessary.

Alejandra pulled out her camera and began taking pictures of the scene. She took pictures of any prints she saw on the ground, markings she saw on the tree and corpse, and other things she thought might be relevant. Had Alejandra possessed Spirit Medium abilities, she might have been able to talk to Maria's spirit to learn what had transpired, but unfortunately she had no such gifts.

However, as she examined the corpse, she noticed several bone-chilling details. Firstly, she saw lacerations on Maria's wrists, and ankles that indicated that she had been bound. Binding a Hallow and keeping her bound was no easy task.

Alejandra also realized that the other set of footprints she was seeing around here that were not her own were too big to be Maria's... which meant that she might have been carried to this site. It was then that Alejandra noticed the small puncture wound in Maria's neck, sending a shiver down Alejandra's spine.

While she considered the ramifications of these details, Alejandra felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up as some sort of sixth sense informed her that she was being watched. She instinctively looked over her shoulder...

... and shrieked in surprise as she saw a figure wearing a black ski mask, shades, and combat fatigues approaching her silently, a long needle in his hand, standing less than thirty yards away from her. Alejandra whirled toward the stranger and backed away fearfully as the figure froze for a moment before continuing his menacing advance.

In Spanish, Alejandra yelled, "<Who are you?! Get away from me!>"

Now closing in on twenty yards from her, the figure replied (also in Spanish) "<I think you know who I am and why I can't leave.>"

Alejandra glanced at Maria's corpse before returning her gaze to the sinister stranger. A tingle went down her spine, and Alejandra took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself down. Let's try this again, she mused before repeating her demand, this time with a voice laden with magic. "<I said go away. Now.>"

The stranger was completely unfazed by her magical 'suggestion'. He continued to approach her, and Alejandra found herself backing up to try to keep the man and his needle at a distance.

"<You're one of them,>" Alejandra gasped. "<A Rake.>"

The figure continued to close the distance between them. "<You seem surprised.>"

"<Not really, I just needed to confirm that for my report.>" Alejandra retorted.

"<I'm afraid that you are not going to get an opportunity to complete that report.>"

With that threat in the air, it was clear that a fight was inevitable, although it had been fairly obvious that the figure was up to no good from the beginning. Alejandra dropped her phone into her purse and grasped her pistol in one swift motion. At around fifteen yards away, the mysterious assailant would be hard pressed to close the distance in time to get on top of her before she drew her weapon. She hoped he would attempt the feat, however, and give her an opportunity to put her Texan quickdraw skills to good use. Go ahead, make my day.

Unfortunately, the Rake came to the same conclusion she had and instead discarded the needle onto the ground while he reached for his own firearm that was in a holster at his hip.

Alejandra had taken the initiative first and had been carrying her pistol closer to firing position, and thus she was easily able to pull out her weapon and fire off the first shot before her assailant was able to do so. However, just as she pulled the trigger, the Rake took a large step toward her right, sidestepping the bullet that would have done bad things to his face had he stood still. He fired off his own shot before Alejandra adjusted her aim and made her second shot.

As the malevolent stranger's bullet flew by Alejandra's head, missing her cheek by less than an inch and slicing off a few strands of her hair as it hurtled past her, Alejandra experienced a sensation that she had never felt before: utter terror. Every fiber of her being screamed for her to run and hide from the incoming pellets of death that would perforate her flesh and shatter her bones. All the time she had spent on the shooting range had done little to prepare her emotionally for this moment when her target actually shot back with a lethal weapon. Alejandra knew that if she panicked and tried to flee, she would be gunned down and destroyed without mercy, yet fighting her primal instinct to run from such terrible danger was no easy task, especially since she had little training nor experience in combating a foe who was immune to magic that intended to kill her.

Yet, through some inner strength she had not known she possessed, Alejandra was able to retain enough control of her brain to hold her ground and fight back. She fired round after round of poorly aimed shots at her assailant while he did the same, and soon, her fear was supplanted by the mother of all adrenaline rushes, seemingly causing time itself to slow down for her. The incoming bullets continued to nearly miss and graze her, and in her state of heightened awareness, Alejandra saw a round coming straight for her chest, and she managed to sidestep around it while she shot off another round at her opponent. The combatants started to almost circle each other as they each strafed toward their left in a successful bid to get out of the way of incoming fire. Somehow, a dozen rounds were fired by both of the belligerents with none of the shots significantly connecting with the opponent's flesh.

And then her weapon clicked, indicating that she had fired the last round in the magazine. Alejandra glanced to her left as she looked for a place she could take cover as she reloaded and she spotted a thick tree she could get behind. She continued aiming her pistol at the man as she started moving toward the tree, hoping he wouldn't realize that she was out of shots. It took him a moment to catch on, but when he did, she saw the assailant freeze and begin to carefully aim his next shot.

This was bad. Really, really bad.

There was no longer any benefit to feigning that her weapon was loaded, and Alejandra began to dash toward the big tree in what she hoped was an unpredictable zigzag.

A shot rang out, and Alejandra felt a searing pain go through the back of her left shoulder that caused her to stumble and nearly lose her balance. Thankfully, the Rake's weapon then clicked out, and Alejandra was able to make it to the tree.

Her attacker made as if to move toward her. Alejandra was not at all trained to defend herself without magic in unarmed combat, and so she realized that she needed to prevent her assailant from getting on top of her at all costs. Hoping to discourage him from rushing her, or at least buy herself some time, Alejandra waved waved her right hand and created a sheet of ice over the ground between her and her opponent.

The assailant paused, then ran toward a large tree off to her right. Alejandra sighed in relief. The gambit had payed off, and she now had time to prepare herself for what looked like it was going to become a protracted gun battle against a better trained fighter.

Alejandra was about use her regenerative ability to heal up the agonizing wound in her shoulder, but then she reconsidered. Leaving that bullet in her shoulder would probably be a bad idea, and so she decided to reach over shoulder and reached into the wound to yank it out, resulting is a surge of pain so intense that she nearly passed out. Yet somehow she persevered, got her fingers around the bullet, and pulled it out. She quickly triggered her regenerative spell before she went into shock, and the pain began to dissipate quickly as the wound closed itself up.

After wiping her bloody hand off onto her already-destroyed shirt, Alejandra picked up her pistol, ejected the empty magazine, and dropped it into her purse while grabbing one of her spare mags. As she loaded the full mag, she looked around the tree she was hiding behind, and she realized she didn't know where exactly her foe was, which was a deeply unsettling situation.

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