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 IX: Brothers In Arms – Part Two – The Red Day

(Author’s note: Brothers In Arms: The Red Day is the conclusion of a two-part episode following Brohers In Arms: The Black Herald. Azrael: City on Fire will premiere the weekend of Friday, April 1st.)

A sleek, pale leg stepped into the limousine, an expensive black heel coming down on the floor of the vehicle as a woman in an elegant black dress and a white coat with purple linings stepped into the car. Vivian had made sure to look her best for the big night, donning her finest pearls as she considered all the people who’d be doing the same the following evening for Valentine’s Day.

Little would they know how different those two days would be.

She couldn’t help but sit there smiling. The anticipation, the nervous energy in the air was everything. This night would change everything.

Alsleigh remained silent like his passenger, thoughtless in the long evening drive.

Until he stopped the car.

He stepped out to open the door on the curb, where he greeted a woman in a brown fur coat.

She stepped into the car, taking a seat in the left row opposite Vivian. Alsleigh returned to the driver’s seat, sliding up the divider as the woman sat.

“Good evening, Vivian.”

She smiled. “Good evening, Mallory.” Continue reading

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

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