The Blackest Night

No matter how horrific the storm, the skies will always clear eventually.

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The Blackest Night

Post by Issy » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:31 pm

Awesome thanks to Harris for this storyline.


The screens were starting to light up in front of them; red and yellow flashing lights were beginning to create a pattern. The digital image of the city was starting to look like a carnival, intersections beginning to illuminate with video footage and alarms. All of them pointing to Old Market. A half-muted beeping was what caught Isuelt’s attention first. She was passing through the map room, as it came to be called by a few, on the floor of Batten Tower devoted to the security division. A real-time surveillance system of the city and its immediately surrounding areas displayed on ten-foot screens for accurate responses to any and all trouble.

“What the hell’s going on in Old Market?” She entered the room and let her dark eyes roam up toward the screens, now beginning to take in the full scope that something was happening in the city’s northeastern region.

“Looks like we’ve got multiple reports coming in from surveillance of…” the man seated began to peck away at the tablet before him.

“Of what?” Isuelt had never been the most patient person.

“Of…of everything.” The near disbelief in his voice was evident as he continued to speak, the lights on the screens seeming to multiply. “Of robberies, assaults, a few fires…I have no idea what the hell happened. It’s just…all of sudden, like a free-for-all.”

Isuelt was about to ask another question when she heard the voice of Jason Tatopolous. “That’s exactly what it is.” She looked to the current deputy of Batten’s security division. “Governor Pharlen knew this was coming. It’s the Blackguard blowing everything to shit thanks to Harris D’Artainian. It’s like a damned riot.” Jason looked pointedly at Isuelt, whose shoulders lifted in a quiet sigh. She knew that this had been talked about and that there had been a call to arms from the governor. She had just been profoundly disappointed in Harris. His reign of severe politics in his region had become the last straw and there was now open rebellion and ramification. While Isuelt didn’t consider herself ‘close’ to Harris, she knew him just the same and found it hard to believe that it had come to this. After all, Harris wasn’t that much of an asshole.

“You listening to me, Issy?” Jason was looking up at the tall woman, a brow arched.

“Yes,” Isuelt looked toward him. “Yes, I am.” She lied.

“You want in on this one?” His lips curled into a small smile.

Isuelt looked away from the screens to gaze at him fully. “Yes.” She could feel excitement brewing beneath the surface of her skin. Action! Real action! Like she used to have!

“Okay, listen…” Jason began to gesticulate with his hands, “No killing, no swords. I know what kind of Scathachian you were, Mr Batten has made a point to tell anyone who is too dumb to not already know. So, I also know that you are a weapon yourself and all that. He’d didn’t have to work so hard making that understood, but he still says it at every opportunity.” He smirked lightly. “So, don’t draw that piece unless you absolutely have to. You’re not going out on a patrol as you used to. You’re now doing it as an emissary of Edward Batten and Batten Industries. You copy?” Both of his eyebrows were now raised in an effort to make his point. "Just be my eyes on the ground."

“Of course,” came the cool and practiced reply of the warrior. “For the company and for Mr. Batten.” Isuelt nodded, just like she was meant to.

Jason sighed, thinking this was beyond his better judgement. “Okay, go kick some ass.” He winked at her and smiled. He wasn’t stupid. He either let her go as an assignment or she was going to go on her own. This way, she’d have the backing of Batten Industries rather than just blasting into the fray as a vigilante. He’d been with Batten long enough to understand how that went.

“Yes, sir!” It was as if he had given her the key to the city. Isuelt spun out of the room so fast that she nearly took out the intern who was walking down the hallway slowly as he gazed at the file on his screen. Luckily for him, he had pretty good balance.

Isuelt took little time to get herself ready. She was dressed in jeans and black t-shirt, and underneath her leather jacket, she wore a shoulder holster with her new version of her blessed blade. It was this weapon that Jason didn’t want her to draw unless it was absolutely necessary. Isuelt didn’t think she’d need it at all. She was no fan of firearms. She found them a cowardly way to engage an enemy; so remote, not personal like hand to hand or her swords had been. Using a firearm was most definitely a route of last resort as far as Isuelt was concerned.

It didn’t take her long to reach the chaos, it was far-reaching and from just outside of Batten Tower to the edge of Old Market, she counted two businesses on fire being attended to by the fire brigades, a few bodies in the gutters, and four brawls. Isuelt passed by all of these, however, to enter the heart of the district. She was following her gut. There was smoke and yelling all around her, she stood near a street corner and shook her head. This was madness and it was surreal, to say the least. A pair of female screams got her attention. She looked to her left and watched two young women, one with a ripped blouse which she was holding together with one hand. The other woman was helping her run. Isuelt’s brows knitted and lowered as the yelping lasses ran past her, the warrior turned her attention to the left and saw four men, all wearing the black body armor of the Blackguard, laughing and giving chase to the two women. Isuelt nearly snarled as she headed toward them.

They saw her coming and one had a fist raised, another had some sort of blunt weapon that looked more like a club or self-styled mace than anything. Instead of taking them up top, Isuelt halted her run toward them at the last minute and squatted down low, sticking out a long leg. She tripped up the front two runners who when sprawling, grinding themselves into the street until they skidded to a stop. Amid the curses and profanities being hurled toward her, Isuelt stood to face the other two coming at her. She knew the body armor was going to be a factor (Batten security had already been briefed on the schematics of the Titan-2 amour and its strengths), so she knew she had to concentrate her attacks on the head or on the balance of the Blackguardsmen.

Isuelt stepped back, gauging the two men who weren’t writhing in the street bleeding from their heads or faces. She knew that the women who they had been chasing were now far from here, she had given them that at least.

“What do we have here? A woman who thinks she’s a superhero?” One of them sneered at her. Isuelt would have bet that he was intoxicated from the way he slurred through his words. That would definitely work in her favor. Hopefully his friends had been imbibing as well. “Well, let me tell you lady, there are no such things as superheroes around here anymore! We’re the new superheroes!” He laughed and lunged clumsily at her. Isuelt pivoted her weight and spun around to kick high, landing her boot heel right across his jaw with merciless precision. RIngs or no rings, she was no stranger to fighting, after all. A spray of blood flew from his mouth as his mandible was crushed and he crumbled to the ground, screaming in pain. Isuelt’s dark eyes flicked to the next man.

“That was really stupid, bitch.” This one didn’t slur his words. Isuelt took a quick stock of him: taller than the others, but not broader. No helmet, but a single bar on his left breastplate. This one was no scrub, he was a sergeant.

Isuelt upnodded to him in a defiant gesture. She had the luxury in a few places lately (though not many) of not being recognized. She was hoping this was one of those times. “Yeah, I’ve been told…”

He wasn’t as drunk as his counterparts, he took a moment to step to the side, almost beginning to circle her. He was sizing her up as well. She didn’t have a weapon, at least one that he could see; and she certainly didn’t behave like a magic user. He saw a window and took it. He lunged forward, faking a fade to the right and instead punched at her with his left. Isuelt took only half the force of his punch as she dodged him a bit too late. Still, she remained on her feet, eyeing him narrowly.

The two faced off as prize fighters, circling each other. Isuelt drew a deep breath, it had been a while since she’d faced off against someone like this. She hoped she wasn’t too rusty. He lunged first with an uppercut that Isuelt narrowly avoided. She leaned into him with a gut punch…though it did little good. That armor did more damage to Isuelt’s hand than it did to the sergeant’s midsection. She was at a disadvantage and they both knew it. Isuelt saw a brief grin on the lips of the Blackguard sergeant before he tackled her. They hit the street hard and Isuelt grunted between the pressure of the concrete and the body armor of the sergeant atop her. A gloved hand grabbed hold of her hair, lifting her head and smacking it back against the street.

Isuelt’s eyes rolled back as she struggled to stop her world from spinning. If she didn’t act quickly, this fight was going to be over very soon. He was within arm’s reach and she jabbed out effectively (and miraculously) landing the blow, though she was aiming for his jaw rather than his nose. Still, the nose made a nice substitution as the pain from the hit sent the Blackguardsman reeling and blood spraying.

“Damnit!” A few other gurgled obscenities were hurled forth as the sergeant crawled off of Isuelt. She rolled away and got to her feet, albeit still a bit wobbly from the head contusion. She watched him, his nose was definitely crooked and he looked a mess. He was pissed, there was no mistake. He charged her, knowing that she could do little worse than she had already done if he used his armored body as his lead. He tackled her fully once more, but was more careful to avoid her close range strikes. In fact, he grabbed her head once more and knocked it against the street.

Her disoriented punches were blandly hitting his armor, she was running out of time. Isuelt tried to kick or buck or twist her way out from underneath him, but he was simply too tall, too long. She could feel his blood dripping from his nose onto her face, stinging her eyes and before long, she felt his hands around her throat. Isuelt’s hands tried to pry off his fingers. The sergeant was not fooling around, he was pressing her throat without hesitation. It felt like he was trying to pop her head off of her neck like the bud off of a stem. The two of them went back and forth, fighting for possession of her throat. And just as Isuelt gained the advantage, prying his fingers from her flesh, the sergeant used his newly unoccupied hand to punch her side. Any breath she had struggled to victoriously claim was now forced out of her lungs.

“Now you’re going to die in the street like the dog that you are,” his spit and blood mixed to rain down on Isuelt’s face and neck.

This is it, she thought. This is how I die. She coughed lightly and clenched her eyes shut, trying to clear them. However, as she opened them once more, the sergeant went flying from on top of her. He literally sailed to the side. Isuelt sat up, coughing more, and looked about five feet to her left, where the Blackguardsman lay, now with another figure on top of him. Isuelt rubbed some blood off of her eyes and blinked. It was Cullen!

“Richard!?” Isuelt breathed his name more than said it. But there he was, drawing back his arm and sucker punching the sergeant not once, but twice. Between Cullen’s hits and the broken nose that Isuelt had given him, he was too stunned to fight back. As Cullen got up and off of him, he merely groaned.

“You okay?” The Watch lieutenant moved quickly to Isuelt’s side, looking over the blood all over her. His hands gently stroking her cheek and jawline, looking for the source.

“I’m okay, it’s not mine.” Isuelt could talk again.

Cullen sighed deeply with obvious relief. “What the hell are you doing out here? Without…without a weapon…it’s nuts right now. The Blackguard is having a fucking field day, the Resistance is losing ground.”

“I…I’m here for Batten security. I needed to see what was happening for myself.” Isuelt shook her head.

He rolled his eyes so hard it nearly hurt. “Oh yeah? Is this up close and personal enough for ya?” Cullen was clearly angry with her bravado. Yet again. He turned toward her now, placing his hands on her shoulders, “Iz, please, get the hell out of here. You can’t do any good here. Not like this. Maybe if you had your Scathachians, maybe if you had your swords. But these assholes have body armor that can’t be touched. You can’t face punch your way out of this one. They’re fucking animals…”

Isuelt was watching over Cullen’s shoulder, the sergeant was up. Up and reaching to his side.

“…we’ve got to pull back behind the lines that the Resistance set up and help strengthen them from that side of the-“

“Richard!” Isuelt saw the weapon that the sergeant drew. There was no time for Cullen to react. She instinctively drew Cullen’s firearm from the holster under his arm; she knew exactly where it had always been. As Cullen let go of Isuelt, he turned around to look at the Blackguardsman who hurriedly leveled his weapon straight at Cullen. A blast went off, Cullen flinched, his hands moving to his gut. But in an instant he knew he was not hit. In an instant the sergeant’s mouth opened slightly, relinquishing a flow of rich, sanguine liquid. A neat, small circle in the middle of the Blackguardsman’s forehead slowly began to trickle blood. Cullen blinked and looked back to Isuelt. She was holding Cullen’s sidearm, it was still smoking. Cullen’s mouth hung dumbly open as the Blackguard sergeant dropped to the ground.

Cullen was breathless and staring at Isuelt, “I…I could kiss you.”

“We gotta get out of here.” She finally saw the wisdom in Cullen’s words. This was no-mans-land; getting behind the Resistance’s lines was smarter. The pair retreated hastily, heading back for the western side of Old Market. Behind the line, they could work out their own plans and Cullen could help reorganize the Watch.
Isuelt DeRomiano
Batten Industries

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RR Cullen
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Re: The Blackest Night

Post by RR Cullen » Fri Apr 03, 2020 6:03 pm

The Watch lieutenant and the ex-Scathachian dodged their way past a bakery being looted, two melees and one dumpster fire that had the added excitement (and cheers) of exploding projectiles. There were people on the streets running, yelling; around them they heard glass breaking and far off explosions. "This is insane," Cullen puffed as they finally slowed their running near an intersection. "This Blackguard business completely out of control." He was yelling, though Isuelt was fairly sure his volume had little to do with her. "And just what the hell do you think you're doing out here? I mean really?! Without a god damned weapon? Without backup?" She could be wrong, though.

Isuelt's shoulders rose and fell as she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. Roaring down the cross street from where they were standing was a light. It grew and intensified in size, barreling at them and at Cullen's back as he was yelling at Isuelt, chastising her for leaving the 'gilded tower' has he called it. It was a wagon, bereft of its horses and on fire. The sound intensified and Cullen was turning around, "And what the fu-"

Isuelt had grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him out of the way and into the mouth of the nearby alley as the blazing wagon catapulted by. Her forearm was across his chest, she had his back up against the wall, they were face to face as they caught their breath and tried to calm their adrenaline.

With his recovered breath and sensibility, Cullen uttered a quieted, "Thank you. Again." Isuelt looked at him, letting her eyes really focus on him. He looked tired, like he hadn't slept; she wasn't surprised. This Blackguard uprising was not out of the blue, it was something that had come to a head. Cullen had bags under his eyes and his skin wasn't as bright as it had been the last time she'd seen him around New Year's.

Isuelt nodded to him and returned his somber tone, "Me out here without a weapon isn't half as bad as you out here without your rest." She finally let down her arm and took a step back from him.

Cullen nodded. He knew, on some level at least, that she was correct. "I'll uh...I'll get you back to that Tower after we get back behind the Resistance lines. Okay?"

She ignored this for now. "You okay? I mean, I know all this is stressful to say the least. But are you well?" Isuelt eyed him. He was lousy at lying to her, and they both knew it.

"Yeah, I'm hanging in there." He nodded and leaned up against the wall of his own accord.

"How's Bernadette?"

He chuckled, "Probably at home, hiding under the bed." His features softened as he smiled at Isuelt. "She sure as hell isn't here in the middle of all it."

The pair watched each other for a little longer than maybe they should have. Isuelt broke the silence first, "Well, then she's evidently smarter than I am."

It took Cullen a minute to clear the daydream from his head as he finally found his thoughts of Isuelt back on the present situation. "Yeah, the weapon thing is really...well, it's pissing me off. What the hell you guys doing over there at that damned tower? I thought the only thing that came out of there besides headaches were weapons." Isuelt arched a brow at him. "I mean, what the hell? What would even possess you to come out here without a sword or anything? Like literally any single thing? And don't give me that 'I am a weapon crap, Iz. This is insanity out here."

He didn't have to stand there with his despotic stature for long. Isuelt pulled aside her leather jacket to reveal a small firearm in a holster at her side. She was devoid of any expression really as she looked at Cullen and awaited the groveling apology.

Cullen was frankly dumbfounded and just threw his hands up.

Isuelt sighed, "I don't like them. I think they're cowardly." It was a simple and quite matter of fact statement from the warrior.

"Well that didn't seem to stop you before when you blew that guy back there a new cerebral asshole. know... thank you for that again, by the way." He smirked. "Don't tell me you're going to be one of those anti-violence, anti-blaster, anti-firearm people, Iz."

"Actually, I think that if you're going to kill someone, you should do it up close and personal. A blade, bare hands, garrote. Those are all methods that let you take a life and really feel it. To get someone's blood on your hands is its own adrenaline rush." Again, her tone gave nothing in the way of emotion. It was a simple fact to her.

"Right." Cullen paused. It was more of a gruesome answer than he was expecting. "Well, then...uh...okay." He wasn't an idiot. He knew of Isuelt's violent acts (one might even call them exploits) in the city; a few killings and one gruesome beheading and disembowelment. And although she had never told him explicitly about her past, he deduced there was some nefarious business in it. Cullen took a moment to gather his wits and recover his thoughts. He sighed and looked out from the mouth of the alleyway. The noise hadn't diminished that much, but for some reason being here with Isuelt, he had a sense of calm that blanketed him. He took advantage of the reprieve and formulated his next steps. "I'd like to get you back to the Tower, Iz. And me back to Old Temple. I'm thinking that about three blocks south of here is as far as we need to get to be back in behind the lines. Okay?"

She nodded. As much as she wanted to rush out there and quell this uprising, it was just too big, too chaotic. Too many civilians...and wasn't she one herself these days? "Yeah," defeatedly she surrendered. Tatopolous wasn’t interested in her being a vigilante as much as he was interested in simply having eyes on the ground. That was her assignment. To check things out and report back, not to go screaming off into the fray with weapons blazing like a valkyrie. With a sigh, she leaned out to look into the street. Not too terribly much to speak of, so they should take the window while they could.

“Go ahead, I got you.” Cullen offered as they headed out to the street. He nudged her shoulder and she headed south at a jogging pace. He followed, keeping up with her and not complaining about the view one bit.
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