Azrael: Silent Night

silent-night-cover

The snow fell thick over the unconscious bodies of four small-time car thieves on 106th street, gently coating their limp forms in a thin layer of white powder.

Police Captain Aaron Slate surveyed the scene, the Christmas lights reflecting off the ice collecting on the criminal quartet.

Slate cracked a smile, heaving a sigh made visible by the grey condensation in the winter air.

“Guess he’s kept busy.”

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Azrael: Episode XIII: Hell Hath No Fury – Part Three – Vici

Five crimson dots struck the grey concrete, shattering as they collided with the drab floor and casting bloody beads around them.

A red beam cut across the floor, burning a thick black line across the concrete as the severed steel blade fell to the floor.

I squeezed the two wires together in my hand, connecting the power bank to the beam refractor I’d cut out of the robot in the previous room. The beam shot out from where I’d concealed it in a pocket on my stomach, cutting low across the room, slashing the legs from the androids and knocking them to the floor.

A bullet split the facial casing of a droid standing behind me.

“Oh no you don’t.” Vivian shouted over the barrel.

If I was going to disable the androids’ explosive capabilities, I would have to immobilize all of them and Vivian long enough to access the control core. I needed to take down Vivian first.

Well, first things first.

I pulled the steel katana shard from my stomach, the blood dripping to the floor from the stab wound I’d redirected to my abdomen in my fight to stand.

My claws shot out, shredding through the hydraulics at the robots’ shoulders and disabling their motions as I used them to shield myself from Vivian’s gunshots. The bleeding opening in my side fought me as I swung, tearing the machines apart.

The androids began to stack up around me, clawing at my legs from the floor and pushing back hard.

I had to find a new way to take them out of the fight.

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Azrael: Episode XIII: Hell Hath No Fury – Part Two – Vidi

Michael gazed out over the city, rain staining the steel towers as the red tide erupted from the android-spewing volcano in the south end. He touched his fingers to his headset, the chirp echoing through his ear in the traumatic silence brought on by the disaster on the horizon.

The moments passed as he stood in silence, words failing him in the prelude of the onslaught.

He rolled his shoulders as his humanity fell away, his muscles tensing as the cold, calculative stream of commands came in.

“Wrights.” He began. “Evacuation. Take point to the North and South sides East of Gothic Federated. Destroy everything you see, take it from the air.

“Raz.” He said. “Take point at Trinity, move them towards the coast.”

“Gabriel. Lane control left, Iris right.” He said. “I want you two running laps like it’s the Olympic freaking games and tearing everything you see apart.”

He looked over at me. “You’re center lane.” He said. “You’ve got the targeting and the pushback to do the most damage there. I’ll push in on Gothic.”

“No.” I said. “Vivian’s headed straight for Gothic Federated. I can move in there while you do crowd control.”

“Priority one, Az.” He said, assuming my motivation to be personal.

“I can use the machines here to track where they’re getting their data from, but I’m willing to bet it’s Gothic Federated. If I can throw Vivian off there, we can keep this contained better, and I might be able to shut it down from the center.

“I know Vivian, Michael. I can keep her distracted.”

“Fine.” He said, hesitating for a moment before he agreed. “Don’t get carried away.”

He touched his fingertips back to his earpiece. “Immobilize. No kill shots yet.” He said. “Keep any detonations as contained as you can.”

I turned around, picking up the severed head from one of the machines and cracking it open on the table as Michael loaded his pistols. “I’ll try to disarm the detonators remotely.” I said. “Good luck.”

“You too.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode XIII: Hell Hath No Fury – Part One – Veni

The rain started coming down slowly, falling in sheets over the silent steel and silver glass of the Imperial building, just a few blocks down from the observation tower at the city’s center.

A long concrete path led up to the building, silver bollards casting pale light onto the wet sidewalk through the grey air.

The black water slipped through the gutters, cold rivers cascading down the edges of the concrete road into the steel grates over the black tunnels beneath the street.

The water spilled down in front of me through a shaft of moonlight, falling to the floor as I curved around it.

A voice came in through my headset.

Azrael? Where are you?

“Somewhere between wondering why I’m always the one who has to this and preparing some very negative things to say to my strategist.” I said.

Your candid sincerity is appreciated as always.” Michael said, returning my sarcasm.

“About fifty feet out, Captain.” I said. “I’ve got my sights on the door.”

Good.” Michael said. “Wait until my count.

I slid a hooked plastic device over a horizontal support in the center of the barred door, locking it in place behind the steel panel on the side of the door.

I pulled the tablet from my jacket’s inside pocket, opening up a blue building schematic Michael dug up for me.

“Ready.” I said.

Hit it.

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Azrael: Episode XII: Necessary Evil – Part Two – Half So Good a Will

(Author’s note: Azrael: Necessary Evil is a two-part episode. You can read the first part here. The thirteenth and final episode will debut the weekend of Friday, August 12th.)

“Bonsoir, faucheuse.” She smiled. “C’est bon de te revoir.”

Good evening, reaper. It’s good to see you again.

Bonsoir, Mademoiselle. Il es bon de vous voir aussi.

She grinned over a crystal glass of scotch, leaning back into the sofa and crossing her legs. “Tu parle Français?”

You speak French?

I smiled as I moved around the couch on the opposite side, continuing the conversation in the language. All I had to do was keep this going long enough to finish my remote data upload from the terminal in the basement while staying in the area.

I speak many languages.” I said. “But French is one of my favorites.

“A culture of boldness and nobility.” She smiled. “Where did you learn?”

I grew up on the Seine, a few hundred years ago.” I said, sitting down opposite Vivian and pouring a glass. “But Paris is a different place now.

“It certainly is.” She said. “But then, so is Bastion.”

I laughed. “Paris doesn’t have people like you.

She laughed in return. “I think you’d be surprised.” She said. “I spent a lot of time in Paris when I was a girl. Long enough to know that there aren’t people like you.”

Maybe.” I said.

“That’s the hard truth of it, Azrael.” She said. “There aren’t people like you anywhere.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode XII: Necessary Evil – Part One – Caesar, Now Be Still

Last Time…

Six knotted pieces of black string sat on the edge of my bathroom vanity, above which stood a reflected image of me cutting more stitches off my arm with a pair of medical scissors.

“Looking good, scarecrow.” My wife said from the door.
“You should see the other guy.” I said. “Well, girl.”

“You said it wasn’t that bad.”

“No, but I did say there was a fight.” I said. “And you know how that works with me. Plus she got you involved.

… I think Zarra will find her way, eventually.”

“I hope so.” She said. “So what’s next?”

I pulled one more stitch before I met my steel grey eyes in the mirror.

Couture.” I said.

“What do we know?” She asked.

“Next to nothing.” I said. “If I didn’t know better, it’d be questionable whether or not they actually exist.

“The long story short is that these people are ghosts. I don’t know how many there are, where they came from, how long they’ve been here… But I know where they have a base of operations, I know everything that’s happened lately is their fault, and I know that Vivian Malveaux is right at the top.”

“So where do we start?”

“Zarra gave me an address.” I said. “A dress shop on second. I’ve seen the place before. Zoe says they use it to front their operations in Bastion.”

“Well.” Iris smiled. “Shall we?”

I zipped up the front of the open carbon subsuit. “Let’s.”

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Azrael: Episode XI: The Mark of Zarra – Part Three – Crimson Steel

Last Time

Vivian hung up her cell phone, returning to the black metal table in front of the small coffee shop at the Third Street corner of the Bastion mall.

“Sorry about that.” She said, resuming her place at the boutique patio. “No rest for the wicked.”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart.” Said Scarlett, gently sipping a cup of coffee. “I have no idea how hard things must be leading this group right about now.”

Vivian let out a sigh of agreement as she drew back her cup.

“I gotta admit.” Scarlett said. “I really admire all the work you’ve been putting into finding Mallory. I know the two of you weren’t always on the best terms.”

“Understatement of the year.” Vivian laughed. “Remember the debutante parties?”

Scarlett smiled. “I remember you falling asleep in the back hall at the manor.” She laughed.

“What, I was twelve and my mother introduced me to the French ambassador. That guy was a drag.” She said, stretching out the last word.

“Tell me about it.” Scarlett agreed. “It was just like you were in boarding school all over again.”

Vivian laughed, shaking as she leaned into the table. “Was anyone awake through Miss Victoria’s lectures?”

“You sure weren’t.” She said. “Although all those late nights we stayed up in college didn’t help.”

Vivian smiled. “No, I guess not.

“…Thank you – For everything, Scarlett.”

“Hm?” Scarlett looked up.

“…Things have been really hard since Azrael came into the picture.” She said. “That and the power transitions, Mallory’s disappearance amid all her projects… I worry that some of the other agents don’t have much faith in me.”

“You’re doing fine.” She said. “It’s a lot to go through.”

“Well I appreciate how much help you’ve been through the years.” Vivian said. “I was raised to do this. I took so long to get here.”

“Mallory was right to choose you.”  She said. “You’ll do great things with the organization.”

“I hope so.” Vivian said. “I hope so…”

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Azrael: Episode XI: The Mark of Zarra – Part Two – Silver Pieces

Last Time | Episode Index

The white light spilled dim over the concrete, a woman in a grey sweater sitting on her knees in the darkness, hands chained to the floor.

Matted black hair hung over her face as the steel door opened, black heels clicking against the hard floor.

A black-haired woman in a white coat stood before the captive, one hand on her hip as she smiled down.

“Iris.” She said.
Iris raised her eyes, staring upwards in malice.

The woman before her crouched down, silver eyes leveling with Iris’s crimson scowl.

Vivian smiled. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

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Azrael: Episode XI: The Mark of Zarra – Part One – Black Water

Last Time

 

The letter Z.

I dialed Carolynn’s number on my phone, my eyes never leaving the deep slashes in my living room drywall.

Hello?

“Carolynn?”

Hey dad.

“Where are your sisters?”

We’re all still down at state. What’s going on?

“Go to Ava’s. Now. Don’t come back to the house until I say so.”

What’s happening? Is everything okay?

“Just stay with Ava. I’ll call you back soon.”

Wait, Dad-

I hung up the phone, squeezing it for a moment as I growled before throwing it across the room.

I stepped over the broken coffee table and headed for the door. She didn’t need to tell me where to go. I already knew where she was. Continue reading