Azrael: Episode VIII: Cry Havoc – Part Three – A Monarch’s Voice

A limousine sped down the street, the lights rolling gently over the smooth black finish as the engine hummed through the darkness.

A black-haired woman leaning into the bench on the side swirled a dark glass of top-shelf liquor in her hand, adjusting the purple trimmed lapel of her long, white jacket and pulling the collar up around her neck.

The pale blonde woman across from her put her hands in the pockets of a black trench coat, adjusting the tight leather gloves fitted over her hands.
“Are you ready?” Zoe asked.

“I’ve been ready for twenty-two years, Zoe.”

“We’ve been fighting for a long time, Vivian.” She said. “As long as you stick to your convictions.”

“You understand what it’s been like for me, Zoe.” Vivian said. “I was raised for this. Spent my entire life training. Preparing. Waiting for this opportunity. I will not be deprived of what’s mine.”

“Remember what we’re doing this for.” Zoe cautioned. “We both wanted to make a difference. That’s what this is for.”

“Of course.” Vivian said. “I never forgot.”

The vehicle pulled to a halt and the two made their exits.

Zoe stood by the car door, a black steel blade in her hands. “Do you want me to stay here?”

Vivian sighed as she placed her hand on Zoe’s shoulder before taking the weapon. “…Thank you for understanding, Zoe.”

“Of course.” Continue reading

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Azrael: Episode VIII: Cry Havoc – Part Two – Ruby Lips

Disclaimer

I woke up stretched out in the morning haze, the beat of my wife’s heart that I’d fallen asleep to no longer soft beneath my ear. An unwelcome change.

I peeled myself out of bed and approached the stairs, realizing how much Iris would like my appearance when I heard her in the kitchen halfway down. Well.

She observed the scarred, shirtless man in the doorframe for about half a second before it began.

“Hey there, handsome.” She said. “You look like crap.”

“And I appreciate your delicate sensibility.” I slurred.

She held out a mug as I dragged toward the counter, pushing it away before stretching toward cupboard above it and removing a bottle of whiskey. I threw it back hard.

“Easy, tiger.” She said.

“Rough night.” I responded.

“Clearly.” She said, wiping a dried bloodstain from the side of my face with a rag before showing its surface to me.

I looked at it for a moment as I wiped my mouth. “Probably not mine.” I said. “Could be, but probably not.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode VIII: Cry Havoc – Part One – Costly Blood

Disclaimer

The snow fell soft over the dark street, casting a grayscale shadow over the dark avenue. The streetlights highlighted the wet pavement, polluting the clouds in a dull glare that pulled the warmth from the road. A black boot splashed through the slush, approaching a pair of its wearer’s comrades. He pulled his coat high around his neck, shaking off the winter breeze as he commented regarding it to his friends. He felt the cold, wet weather in his toes, chilling him all the way up from the ground with the deep, aching cold that shook his entire form.

The car they awaited would be there in just a few minutes, and after that he could get back to his apartment, get a warm shower and go to bed. Anything to be out of this environment.

After the hours I’d been tailing him, I felt the same way.

Needless to say, both of us were relieved when the cab pulled up to the curb.

The cabby rolled down the window as one of the gangsters walked around the back of the car, opening the edge of his coat to ease access to the gun in his belt.

He clutched it tight in his hands as the streetlights flickered to blackness. Continue reading

Aside

Announcement – Q and A

Hey everyone!

As I’ve mentioned through various avenues before, I’m taking a short break now that Azrael: Weapon of Choice has reached its conclusion, both for personal time for the holidays, and to prepare to make the last six episodes of this season the greatest they can be. Azrael: Brothers in Arms will begin in January 2016, and the remainder of the season will continue on schedule all the way through to the end.

Meanwhile, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing a Q and A session on the website! I’ll be taking questions about the Azrael universe and characters, my writing and production process, plans I have for the future, and pretty much anything else. (Although I’m not promising I’ll answer everything, and I won’t give you any spoilers, no matter how nicely you ask.)

To submit a question, simply put it in the comments of this post or any of the social media promotions for it, drop me a line on my Facebook or Twitter, or even ask me in person if you’re so inclined.

QUESTIONS ARE DUE  by 11:59 on Thursday, December 31st.

I’ll answer all questions publicly in a new blog post a day or two after the deadline, so make sure to get them all in as soon as you can.

– Josiah

Azrael: Episode VII – Weapon of Choice – Part Three – Coup de Grace

“How in the hell…”

“I have to admit, it explains a lot.” I said, poking through the open chest cavity of the white-plated robot on the table. “For one, it explains her durability and her stamina. Not to mention the oddities in her fighting style.”

“Oddities?”

“I noticed she has a targeting problem. When we were fighting in the apartment building, I countered by swinging her around my waist and she went ahead and threw two hits against the floor, like she was targeting someone she’d already pinned to the ground in the first part of the move.” I said. “It would make sense if that particular combination of moves were one of her offensive protocols.”

“Huh.” Iris agreed. “I guess that makes sense.”

“Not to mention the way she always stands in the same position next to Cloak, the way she always responds to her, and the fact that she wasn’t reactive when we took out Cloak before she could say anything.”

“Interesting.” She said. “What have you found out about her?”

“Not much.” I said. “I’m fairly certain she’s voice activated and only responds to Cloak, but I’m willing to test that. Otherwise, it’s going to take more looking into the programming before I can figure it out for sure, but it looks like she runs on a fairly simplistic combat protocol system.” I poked around a series of microchips in her detached head. “Looks procedural, like she’s only capable of a limited series of attack combos.”

“Which shouldn’t make her too hard to beat, right?”

“By ‘limited series’, I mean up to any of several thousand attack combination protocols.”

Iris swallowed this revelation. “So no.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode VII – Weapon of Choice – Part Two – Attaque de Fer

My muscles tensed, fighting me as a bead of sweat rolled down my forehead. My eyes darted across the area, surveying each item as carefully as I could. I had to get this right.

“Could I have a closer look at this one here?” I asked, pointing toward a necklace in the glass case as I inquired to the woman on the other side of the counter.

“She must be a pretty special lady.”

“And then some.” I said. I looked the necklace over, examining it in further detail as my cell began to ring.

“Speak of the devil.” I said. “Or angel, more accurately.” The woman behind the counter laughed, no understanding of my statement’s literalism.

“Hey there, pretty lady.” I said.

“Hey there, handsome.”

“What’s up?”

“I found something you might be interested in.” She said. “David Fadi says he’s working to find us some information on Aperture, but Albright isn’t being too forthcoming with the information.

“Not that there isn’t an… Extrajudicial solution.”

“And where would we start there?” I asked.

“He’s provided me a few names that might be useful in that regard.”

“Then we may have to work in a few important meetings.”

“My thoughts exactly.” She replied.

Continue reading

Azrael: Episode VII – Weapon of Choice – Part One – En Garde

“My friends. My family. My fellow citizens.
My brothers and sisters.
Over the past few months, we’ve worked together in attempt to make this city a better place. We’ve stood. We’ve fought. Side by side, each of us standing in unity.
We’ve been through tough times. We’ve stared into the face of terror.
But we’ve always stood.
Four days ago, we looked to the skies from the trenches, watching as the cloud of salvation saved us all from the brink of destruction.
But we were not all so blessed.
Last weekend, twelve lives were lost to the work of a terrorist known as the Rat King. These were people just like you and I. Friends, family members, co-workers. People. Innocent human lives that were stripped away. Men and women who didn’t deserve to die.
We now stand here in the face of tragedy, mourning the deaths of those twelve people.
But even in mourning, we still stand.
We stand here together, strong, even in our weakness.
We stand unscathed. Unflinching in the face of terror.
And in a city ravaged by the scourge of evil men like Lazarus Wolfe or the Rat King, we stand together. Side by side.
In unity.
Bastion is a great city. Not because of the buildings that form it. Not because of the Kingston Steel company, or the Centennial Avenue Theaters, or Imperial Tower, or the Bastion Mall.
Because of the people who form it.
People who, even in the wake of tragedy, can stand together at once.
Who can brace themselves against the tidal wave of terror and tyranny, and cry unrelenting that we will not be moved. That we will not fall.
That we will always stay strong.
That is the city I committed myself to.
That is the city I believe in.
That is the city that I will always stand up for.
And even when men like Lazarus Wolfe or the Rat King fight with everything they have to lay waste to the good in this city, I will still stand.”

Continue reading

Production Update #4 – Site Updates, Schedule, a Personal Appeal

Hello, everyone.

I have a few interesting things to announce, but I’d like to open first with a few personal notes.

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for sharing this adventure with me so far. I have worked so hard to achieve this dream, and continue now even more intensely to do so. More importantly, I’m thrilled to have been able to share this with each of you so far, and I look forward to continue sharing it with you.

That said, I’d like to discuss an important matter I’ve mentioned in some of my social promotions. As grateful as I am to share Azrael with each of you, I’m currently running a sort of word-of-mouth business. The backbone of my success is built squarely on the foundation of your shoulders, and I’m so grateful to have an audience like you. In that regard, my ultimate goal is to expand that foundation to as many people who could share this dream as possible. That goal is one I can only accomplish through each of you, helping me to share Azrael with everyone you can. You’ve already given me so much, now I ask simply this favor. Please, anything you can do to bring new faces onto this journey with us is more than I could want.

In other news, I’ve made a few simple updates to the site for the ease of new and regular readers alike, including quick links at the end of each chapter. Feel free to check out the new and improved About page and Episode Index.
I may also be performing some updates on the site in the coming days, including some potential aesthetic and functionality improvements, and potentially a new page that I’m incredibly excited about.

Finally, I’d like to make sure you all understand what will be happening on the website in the coming days.

Azrael Episode VII: Weapon of Choice is slated to begin Friday, November 13th. After this, updates will continue as normal every other Friday until the episode’s conclusion, set for release on Friday, December 11th.

After this, I’ll be taking a break for the holidays, where I’ll be doing the aforementioned construction on the website, some hard work on the second half of the season, and an interesting activity with each of you.

After this, I’ll be returning full force with regular biweekly updates until the season’s conclusion with Episode Thirteen.

Thank you again for all the support you’ve given me so far, and everything I can trust you’ll continue to give.

Let’s make Azrael great together.

With paramount enthusiasm and gratitude,

Josiah

Azrael: Episode VI – Pandemic – Part Three – Patient Zero

I pulled a black storage crate from beneath the desk, dragging it with a scrape across the smooth concrete floor of the garage. The black lock clicked as I pulled it open, lifting the lid to confront the cold gaze of a black mask sitting inside. I began lifting the components out individually. Carbon chest and torso plating, heavy boots and leg plates, a black hooded overcoat, and a smooth black gas mask with red goggles. I threw the pieces across the desk, resuming work on the partially completed suit.

I’d called her Toxicity. She was built for extreme situations, and this situation certainly felt pretty extreme.

I stared into the dark red lenses at the top of the black face mask in silence for a few moments.

The quiet air was shaken by the sound of a crying baby in the next room.

Iris turned over, pushing the sheets aside and rubbing her baggy eyes. I placed my hand gently on the side of her cheek.

“I got this one, gorgeous.” Continue reading