Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Alice Gallow - Monster of the Week

Alice Gallow is a character from Zachary Rawlins' Central Series. She is one of a group of people working with a secret society which monitors and oversees the hidden population of supernatural individuals. With psychic abilities which were awakened by nanite machines created by a long lost civilization, Alice is one of the Auditors who are sent to deal with rogue elements of the hidden society as well as beings from outside that prey on humanity such as the sociopathic Witches which feed on misery. She has a reputation for being vicious and borderline sociopathic and has little to no tolerance for people and creatures she considers evil.

In addition to a number of common powers for enhancing her body, Alice has a "Black Protocol", a unique power which is problematic or dangerous to control. In her case, she can teleport through shadows. But when she uses it, it starts to lock away her memories so that she can't access them. As such, she keeps dozens and dozens of diaries which she reads to study her own history.

Since she is an obscure character, here's a snippet of her introduction from the first of the three books.

Orders were orders, and even as she poisoned her family's dinner, Evelyn was philosophic. She planned on living for a long, long time, after all. There would be other such opportunities, stretched out over as many years as she could manage. And some Witches grew very old indeed.

Still, she was angry with her sister Yolanda. The poison she'd provided was meant to be quick and painless, but had instead induced cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and then, finally, death. It had taken hours, and it had been disgusting. The girls had been able to beg her to call for help almost up until the end. She was still feeling ill, so maybe that was why she didn't notice the shadow until it was almost too late.

Or it could have been the other way - it could have been that since Evelyn was an old and cunning Witch, because she took precautions and slept fully clothed, that her senses were sharp from the misery she'd consumed earlier. Or maybe the Auditors were simply terrifyingly capable, bypassing both the building's defenses and her own considerable additions effortlessly, but not quite good enough to overcome her instinctual drive to live.

Evelyn stared blankly at the shadow on the wall, cast by her bed and her prone form on top of it, as it seemed to thicken and writhe. She blinked her eyes to dispel the illusion, holding them closed as long as she could manage the nausea, and then opening them again.

The woman stepped neatly out of the shadow on the wall, one foot on the safe house floor, the other still somewhere in the dark behind her, disappearing at mid-calf. Her black hair was hung in braids and was knotted with trinkets and coils of wire, almost like a Witch herself. She was tall, taller than Evelyn, and wore something black and heavy that was probably armor, stretching from her ankles to her neck, and heavy, blunt-toed black boots. She waved cheerfully at Evelyn, an automatic shotgun with a conical silencer and nylon grips held meaningfully in the crook of her other arm.

"Good evening, you miserable cunt," the woman said with a cheerful smile. "My name is Alice Gallow, and I am here in regards to an open Audit, under the authority of Central. Please do resist, as I am in one hell of a terrible mood."

Evelyn did not respond. She was already too busy with a working, or rather, a series of workings.

First she threw fire in the direction of the Auditor - it was a minor working, and she had no illusions about its chance of doing anything other than distracting the Auditor - but the illumination and the smoke gave her the opening to activate a second, major working, one that she'd kept almost complete for years, for exactly such a situation.

Evelyn dove backwards, through the wall, into her sister's room. An outside observer would have been forgiven for thinking that she found a duplicate of herself watching TV in bed in the adjacent room - both she and her sister shared identical features, blond hair, and ice-blue eyes. Even the loose blue dresses they wore were similar.

"Light," Evelyn screamed at her sister, the one who sometimes called herself Nadia.

Nadia looked up from the television, clearly shocked at her sister's sudden arrival.

"What do you mean? What's happening?"

She reached into a pocket and pulled a small, rose quartz sphere from it.

"A transporter, an Operator. She uses the shadows to port," Evelyn said hurriedly. She removed a length of braided red silk from her pocket, and began tearing  it at intervals. "As much light as you can, right now. No shadows."

Nadia shook her head, swallowing questions, and closed her eyes. Her hand whitened as it clenched tightly around the crystal, squeezing until a fine stream of dust emerged, a small pile of ground crystal on the shag carpet.

The room lit up bizarrely, every surface burning from within; the walls, the bedding, the carpet all shown with an internal radiance. It was brilliant and hurt Evelyn's eyes, but it left only the faintest shadows. Evelyn finished tearing the scarf and red smoke began rising from it, coalescing in a halo that rotated lazily around her head, forming a circle a meter-wide in gently swirling crimson embers.

"Is she an auditor?" Nadia asked, inclining her head in the direction of Evelyn's room.

She could only manage a nod, out of breath from the effort of the rapid series of workings. The woman had to be an Auditor; Evelyn had heard rumors of one who could walk from shadow to shadow. And it was unlikely that the Auditor would have come alone. There was, she knew, no fighting them, not even if they outnumbered her three to one. But where to run, and how to make it there?

"What about our sister?"

Nadia asked the question softly, as if they were hiding from the Auditor. They both knew she was referring to their other sister, the one whom, just lately, had started calling herself Yolanda.

Evelyn shook her head.

"If she could have, she would have made it here by now." Evelyn's glance kept darting to the doorand the window, and she wondered what to do. "But if she were dead, we would know. So we have to assume they have already taken her."

Evelyn felt the ebb and flow of power as Nadia started another working, probably some kind of attack. Apparently, her sister had finally grasped the seriousness of the situation.

"Don't think that I don't appreciate your position," Evelyn recognized the mocking voice of Alice Gallow, coming from somehwere in the hall, outside the room. "You've got to be wondering 'How did we attract all this attention? What did we do to merit an Audit?' Am I right?"

Evelyn had, in fact, been wondering exactly that. She'd been prepared for potential interference from Operators, and she'd anticipated trouble ever since the orders had come down to break up the job before it was completed. But the Auditors? What she had been working on shouldn't have been big enough to merit their involvement.

Well, to be totally accurate, Evelyn had been wondering that, until she heard the Auditor's voice, still glib and cheerful. Since that time, however, she'd mainly wondered if the working she'd held in reserve, or any working that she was capable of for that matter, would be enough to stop her.

"Plus you have to be wondering what happened to your sister, right?"

Evelyn shuddered at the implication.

"Well, personally, I hate suspense. So I'm going to do you bitches a favor and answer that question right now, Xia, do you mind?"

The window shattered inward, spraying glass as something heavy came crashing through it. Yolanda collided with the bed like a rag doll, and then crumpled to the floor limp and motionless. Her skin was brilliant red over much of her body, the color of a lobster, and her hands and face were charred black.

Evelyn heard Nadia scream and felt her release the working she'd been holding in the direction of the window, a blue-white electric current searing the hallway in a brilliant flash. Evelyn screamed for her to stop, but it was too late. Nadia's light working flickered, and then collapsed from inattention, and the room fell back into the natural half-shadow cast by the lamps.

Alice Gallow stepped from the shadows in front of Evelyn grinning, her face shining and unhealthily pale. Evelyn released her working, and the red halo above her head became a burning serpent, a crescent of fire that coursed through the air, simmering and howling as it charged the Auditor. Alice waved one outstretched hand dismissively, and the working disappeared, swallowed up by the shadow her arm cast. Evelyn was tossed to her feet by the impact when the working re-emerged from the shadows behind her, sputtering and disintergrating.

Evelyn knew then with a grim certainty that they had lost. The working she'd thrown was the most powerful she knew and the serpent should have reduced even a capable Operator to ashes. Instead it failed to even touch her. Evelyn clutched her pounding head, still reeling from the blowback of the destroyed working, and wondered why they were here, and why this horrible thing was happening to her.

Alice Gallow
Playbook: The Hard Case
Look: A tall, pale woman with dyed black hair braided and bound with wires and trinkets.

Charm -1, Cool +2, Sharp +0, Tough +3, Weird +2

Come Get Some
Inspired Guesswork
Angel Wings
Weapon Master

Gear: Automatic Shotgun (3-Harm Close Loud Reload Auto), Big Knife (1-Harm Hand)

Divine Move: Angel Wings
Hard Case Move: Weapon Master
Hard Case Move: FINISH HIM!
Tough +1
Weird +1
Cool +1

Luck: OOO (one-shot scenario)

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