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 X: City On Fire – Part Three – Shock and Awe

A grey-clad soldier collapsed beneath a shining blue shield as Michael crashed down onto the pavement. I shot into the alley from behind, flooring a soldier on the opposite side and knocking him into the brick wall beside him.

We stepped into the back of the alley to find an ingress to the lowest floor of the hotel, finding our entrance in a basement window well. I shot two swords into the hinges to pry it open, and we made our way inside the building.

The dark lowest floor of the hotel was a grey concrete room, broad and open, walls lined with washing machines and shelves containing linens for the rooms upstairs.

Michael wasted no time taking in the room as he made his way to the elevator service hatches, broad silver engines sitting in the room as the ferried hotel patrons between floors.

“Alright.” He said. “My recon suggests that Manacle’s men are posted up through this entire hotel, but his officers are running the show from the penthouse suite on the top floor. It’s likely that their telecomms center is on the top level.”

“With plenty of resistance to protect it.” I said.

“No doubt.” Michael replied. “If we block staircase access three levels from the top, we can restrict the number of personnel in the area before we put this place into fire lockdown and clear out, pushing up.”

“And the roof?”

“Manacle doesn’t have the air resources to be bringing more guys in up there, but I’d be willing to bet he’ll use his personal chopper to meet us there as soon as the lights go off. Odds are he brings maybe a handful of soldiers with him, but he’ll want to be here to finish the job.”

“Locked up here with us.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode X: City on Fire -Part Two – Fire Superiority

Four soldiers stood in grey digital camouflage with black ballistic armor, low construction lights over the late night at the diamond district tower project where the mercenaries had built the watchtower. They gathered at the edge of the project, looking over the city as one of them lit a cigarette, casually talking amongst each other.

“So… We’re seriously supposed to fight — Azrael?” One asked.

“Yup.”

“That doesn’t concern you?”

“Why should it?”

“You haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

“About him.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard about him.”

“You’re not worried?”

“Nah. Not like any of it’s true.”

“You sure?”

“Can’t be, man. No way one guy can do that. The way I figure, it’s a bunch of kids with baseball bats or something beating people up for shits and giggles.”

“Nah, man. I was on leave in New Avalon for a few months before my last tour, and one of my buddies got drunk one night and got into it with some homeless guy… Found him at the hospital the next day with three different tubes in his face.”

“Yeah, man. Bunch of asshole kids against a drunk Marine? Doesn’t sound like any kind of fight to me.”

“I don’t know. I’ve heard some rough stuff.” Continue reading

Azrael: Episode X: City on Fire – Part One – Infiltration

Last Time

Nine officers in total, followed by the black-clad shooter with the assault rifle. The fanned into the building behind the light post where the programmer had been executed only a moment ago, moving to their next target. Me.

These can’t be Captain Slate’s cops. Something else is going on here.

I ducked behind a stairwell in the back corner of the building. My odds would be better just to escape, but I had to find out what was going on before these police impersonators went too far. I needed answers, and the black-armored rifleman was my place to get them.

They broke through the front door, rushing into the antechamber at the front of the building, flashlights and pistols pointed.

They found their target in the center of the black room, my hands at my sides as the nine men circled me.

Police!” They said. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”

“Wait.”

They hesitated to turn toward the voice, sights trained on me all the while.

The executioner from the armored personnel carrier stepped into the room, black combat boots bearing down on the floor with steady, confident steps. He wore custom-cut ballistic armor over his shoulders, chest, and forearms, flat black with carbon plating, matching a smooth mask with two angular, scowling eyeholes. A dark, well-worn voice came through the vertical slats over the mouth as he leaned his automatic weapon over his shoulder.

“Not too fast, boys.” He said. “You learn to savor moments like these.

“Azrael.” He said. “Your reputation precedes you. I’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

You’ll regret that you found me.

He scoffed. “You’re as bold as I thought you’d be. I’ll really enjoy killing you.”

And I’ll enjoy watching you try before I personally send you to jail for impersonation and first degree murder.

He laughed. “Clean shots, boys.” He said. “Make ‘em count.”

You’d better.” I said. “For your sakes.” 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.”

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