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 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 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 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

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 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 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