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Alejandra frowned slightly as she looked at herself in the mirror and smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle.

She did not like what she saw looking back at her.

Yes, she was wearing a simple knee length smart dress. And yes, her earrings with simple gold studs instead of her more elaborate pearl earrings. And yes, her hair was tied into a simple ponytail instead of her elaborate twin plaits. But...something felt off.

Mostly her if she was honest.

She was fourteen years old, but right now she felt like she was five, playing pretend.

She glanced up at the clock on the wall and let out a curse. There was no time to waste.

"Goodbye mama," she shouted as she left.

"Goodbye Alejandra," her mother replied. "And good luck!"

"Yeah...luck. I'm going to need it," she muttered to herself as she made her way through the city to her destination.

At least she wasn't going to run into any trouble on the way. The city was quiet. The sun was still up and the streets fairly empty. There were a few passing cars, but nothing unusual. Even Los Muertos were absent (or at least somewhere else.)

She paused for a moment outside her destination and swallowed, but before she could make herself known, she heard a shout from inside.

"Don't be estúpido viejo. It's just money!"

"It's MY money cabrón! I fucking earned it, you lazy pedazo de mierda! You want money? Get a job you fucking parásito!"

Peeking into the garage, she could see a pair of armed thugs threatening Señor Cortilla. Behind the counter, Señor Cortilla had a shotgun pointing at one of the thugs. The two thugs (thankfully not anyone Alejandra knew. That would have been...unsettling.) Slowly she began to back away, before suddenly stopping.

Señor 76 wouldn't have just snuck away. Los Protectores knew that someone had to stand up. They all answered the call when fate needed them. How could she ever be a hero if she walked away now?

With a new resolve (and with mounting trepidation), she slipped forward and grabbed a metal pole that was leaning against the building. Pausing for a moment to psyche herself up, she charged in and hit the thug nearest her as hard as she could on the back of the head. For a moment, he stood there. Then he fell to the ground with a thump.

"What the…"

A shotgun blast cut the second thug off before he could finish.

"And who are you?" Señor Cortilla demanded angrily. "You trying to rob me as well? Some ladrona trying her luck?"

Alejandra said nothing as she stared at the thug she had hit. Suddenly her legs gave way and she dropped to her knees and promptly vomited all over the floor.

"Could you at least have hit one of these parásitos?" he growled, gesturing to the two thugs lying on the ground. "Now sit up!"

"I-"

"Sit up and take a deep breath!" he bellowed and Alejandra sat down and took a deep breath. "What did you think you were doing? You trying to be some kind of héroe?"

"Si, si, I mean-"

"You're that girl from Panadería Las Nieblas, down the road," he said, cutting her off. "You're just a baker's daughter and you think you can be a héroe?" he paused for a moment and gestured to the two thugs laying on the floor. "Well that's a good start. Help me clean up this mess," he shoved a mop into her hands. "Oh and if you're here about the apprenticeship, you're hired. Now get to work!"

"But what about…" she gestured to the two thugs on the ground and Señor Cortilla snorted.

"They'll wake up later," he said with a shrug. "Non-lethal rounds. The police object to dead bodies. Now get to work little héroe!"

With a slight smile teasing at her lips, Alejandra got to work.

estúpido viejo=stupid old man

cabrón=dumbass

pedazo de mierda=piece of shit

Parásito=parasite

ladrona=thief

héroe=hero