Sky High – After Dark book four
Seeing how I’ve had complaints about what order these stories are in, even though the date of publication is clearly displayed. They are in order:
Sky High After Dark
Sky High After Dark: Legacy
Sky High After Dark: Cosmic
Thanks to WAA01 and Killerarmyguy for the edits.
Aron Carter, better known as Void to the world, stood on the stage in the city square listening to the Mayor yammering on about how lucky the city was to have him. His eyes moved over the crowd seeing them all wearing I love Void t-shirts, Veil’s (Virtual Empathetic Intelligent Lifeform), programing ran, scanning the faces of the attendees. Rolling his eyes when the Mayor called him a hero and how his mother had this wide grin on her face as she and the rest of his family were mixed into the crowd.
“Please, don’t tell me that’s what I think it is?” Aron groaned in his mind when the Mayor gestured to the object behind them. “I’m so not going to live this down,” he muttered to himself as those who stood behind the stage pulled the tarp that was covering a bronze statue of himself off. Fighting himself from dragging his hand down his face at the sound of Vera, better known as Vemvendon, his mother and sisters Isabell, Firelight, and Lyla (Morphic), in the disguise of Lyle voices overshadowing those in the crowd. Knowing they were never, ever going to let him live this down. Then there was his daughter, Jill, from another age, bouncing on her feet and howling like mad.
“Void, incoming metahuman signals,” Veil warned as her built-in sensors to his suit fired off like mad.
Aron didn’t need her to tell him who was approaching. He could tell who they were from the color of their costumes. Jetstream and the Commander were inbound. However, the parting of the crowd drew his gaze downward, then caused his eyes to flicker up, wondering who else was coming, given how The Commander was walking towards him through the crowd with a purpose. Aron noted the grey in The Commander’s hair, along the Jetstream’s when she and whomever it was that was with her floated above the crowd when they came to a stop. He did not like the feel of it.
“I’m sorry, Mayor, for ruining this day, yet as heroes, who’ve protected this city for years along with the many others. We can’t sit by and let this villain…” Aron arched an eyebrow at that when The Commander pointed at him. Slyly shaking his head when he noted how his family was about to weave through the crowd to suit up. That would just give away their identities; if it came to blows, he’d find a way to handle it on his own.
“You might want to seek shelter,” Aron warned, looking at the Mayor and his staff, getting the feeling this was going to come to blows no matter what he said. “You think I’m a villain, huh?” Noting how Jetstream and whoever was with her told the crowd to disperse. Telling them, they couldn’t guarantee their safety with this villain around.
“You’re actions at the capital have proven you are not a hero and must be brought to heel, for the good of the world,” The Commander uttered.
“Void, I would recommend you do not fight them in such a confined setting.”
“Agreed,” Aron uttered, his hand moving along the 3D display that appeared over the left sleeve of his coat. “Good luck with that,” Aron taunted, leaping into the air as his newly redesigned wing came soaring in. “Shit, they’re fast,” he grumbled as he noted Jetstream and the newcomer racing after him with The Commander dangling from the stranger’s arms.
“Don’t get involved,” Aron stated as he pulled himself up. “Veil find me a secluded area, so the world won’t know how much I’m going to kick their asses,” he said, feeling the old anger he felt when his grandparents died resurfacing.
“Take him down, Jetstorm?!”
“What kind of name is Jetstorm?” Aron asked himself, only to feel something slamming into his back and ripping him off his wing. Sending it spiraling down to the ground.
“This is the end of you, villain,” Will Stronghold growled, plunging right down to the ground, keeping Aron locked in his embrace as he planned on planting Aron into the ground just like his mobile platform had done.
“Yeah, see, that’s where you’re wrong, fly boy,” Aron spoke, activating the electrodes in his gloves. Bringing his hands up and clamping them against Will’s head. Listening to his screams before he went unconscious. Shrugging Will off once he was five feet off the ground. Then falling to a knee as The Commander’s punch landed squarely on his left jaw. Aron knew the Commander was strong; however, it was nowhere near as phasing as Maximins or his mother’s. Hearing the wind being knocked out of The Commander as he landed two quick elbows to the man’s midsection. Catching the man’s punch in his left hand, listening to the concussive clap that was produced when he did. köle escort “You think you’re any match to Maximins? I bet you worked alongside him, huh? Does that make you a villain? Seems you’re getting weak in your old age,” Aron spoke in a cold tone as his grip tightened around The Commander’s fist. “Seems you have no clue who or what a villain is. Do you go around just attacking people out of the blue?”
“You’re a villain?!” The Commander growled before throwing another punch.
“Did you think repeating the same thing was going to work?” Aron asked when he caught The Commander’s left jab. “No wonder Royal Pain played you like a fool,” he sneered before headbutting the man. Seeing the daze flooding his eyes as The Commander’s knees wobbled. Aron wasn’t going to kill him; as misguided as The Commander was, the man was still a hero, but that didn’t mean he was going to allow the man to keep attacking him.
“No!” Will shouted as he watched his father flying backwards from the uppercut the fiend had delivered. “You monster?!” he growled before pushing off with all his might. Striking Aron in the stomach with his left shoulder only to feel and see how his force only pushed Aron back half a foot. His eyes went wide when Aron’s knee struck him in his upper gut, breaking two ribs.
“I’m not the one that attacks people out of nowhere; I’m not the one that endangers innocent people when they’re just enjoying their time off in the park,” Aron spat, tossing Will Stronghold, aka Jetstorm, off to the side. “Lady, don’t. You have no chance against me,” he said, aiming his laser pistol at her, having already set it to stun. He only killed villains. As tempting as it was to switch it over to the kill setting, they were still heroes. “You attacked me. Look around you; look at the terror you brought to these people. From where I stand, you’re the villains here.” Sighing when she pressed the attack, listening to her cry as the laser bolt stunned her. Catching her as she fell unconscious to the ground. He wasn’t gentle with her when he dropped her to the grass at his feet. Walking over to where his wing had crashed since they were no longer a threat to him. Glad Veil had talked him into making the new wing out of the leftover neuium he had left after making Veil’s android body, along with the modified jet car he and Aminah had tinkered on.
“You know if I was a villain,” seeing Will Stronghold peering up at him as he was trying to crawl to his mother’s side, “you would be dead and not dealing with two broken ribs. Do you think I would leave two unconscious heroes alive if I were a villain? Maybe think on that before you think to come after me again; next time, I might not hold back,” Aron spoke as he stood on the platform of his wing as Veil ensured it was still flight-worthy.
The sound of the clap as the wing broke the sound barrier echoed through the city as Aron headed for home. Rolling his jaw, The Commander might not be as strong as Maximins, but that didn’t mean the punch didn’t hurt.
“Aron, we’re on our way?!” Tazia’s frantic voice came over their com line.
“Don’t bother,” Aron replied.
“Aron, we are coming?!” Vera stated in a motherly tone.
“It’s already over; I’m already halfway to the base,” Aron stated before bringing his wing to a halt in midair when Sara’s com-line appeared on the screen of his Hud. “Go ahead,” he spoke once he had connected to it.
“Void, I need you and your team here in thirty,” Sara directed. “We have a mission for you.”
“Understood,” Aron answered before cutting off the link and reestablishing the com with his family. “Aminah, how soon can you and the rest be suited up?”
“We already are,” Aminah responded quickly.
“Good. We have a mission; you know where to meet me,” Aron directed, taking charge of his team.
“Okay, Aron, we’ll meet you there.”
“Aron?! Aron?! We aren’t done, you hear me?!” Vera uttered in a worried motherly tone. Thinking now that heroes have attacked her son, more and more heroes would soon be trying their hand.
“What’s there to talk about? They attacked me, not the other way around. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at them,” Aron grumbled, cutting off the link and heading off towards the roof of the NSA building that housed the hub where he and his team, the Dark Marauders, operated out of.
Aron stood on the roof waiting for Tazia and the others to arrive; his fingers moved over the holographic display that hovered over his left coat sleeve as the homing beacon drew near. Allowing Veil to take command of the wing and the car so the docking wouldn’t cause any foul-ups when the wing attached to the new jetbike he had created to replace the one the Collector had destroyed a few weeks ago. The moment the jetcar landed on the roof, Aminah and Tazia leapt out of it and barreled into him. Fretting over him like two love sick girls, which they were.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” köle escort bayan Aron said softly. “Yes, they were alive when I left them. I don’t kill heroes,” he reiterated for the hundredth time as he noted the looks in their eyes.
“Void, you and your team are needed in the command center,” came a male voice from behind them as another agent held the roof’s door open. “Please, if you would follow me,” the man gestured to the stairwell.
Their footfalls echoed off the concrete walls as they descended towards the NSA floor. Aron nodded to the rest when the man asked them to disengage any recording equipment they had on them before he allowed them to enter the hub. Watching the light turn green as the man slid his card into the reader, the metal groan of the hinges as the door opened, and the clicking sound of it closing behind them as they entered that sterile hallway. Seeing the heads popping up from over their cubicles when Aron and his family filed in. Aron nodded to the few people he knew who worked there, namely the single mother who had asked him for an autograph for her son.
“Greetings, team Dark Marauders,” Sara greeted, sticking to her ruse that she didn’t know who they were beneath their masks. “Thank you for coming on such short notice. Please, if you all will have a seat, I’ll get this briefing started,” she said, gesturing to the table before her as she stood in front of the large display screen. “Thank you, Agent Conder,” Sara spoke in a warm tone as the man closed the blinds before he left the room, closing the door behind him as he did. “There’re coffee and snacks if you need it; this briefing will be long; I’ll try to get through it without too much headache,” she uttered, smiling warmly at all six of them as they sat facing her.
“Okay, Sara, what’s this mission about?” Aron asked, speaking for his team, given how he was the leader of it.
“At 0900 hours yesterday, our spies intercepted this transmission,” Sara stated, playing the garbled noise they had picked up. “I know it doesn’t sound like much now, but it took our best audio decrypters most of the night to break the encryption embedded within the transmission; this is what they uncovered.” Pointing her remote at the screen and playing the file over the speakers.
“If you don’t want your little crime ring destroyed and added to my collection. You will cease operations and incorporate your operations into my own, for I am the Collector. You have three days to reply before I send my own team to destroy you.” Pressing the stop button on the remote. She knew this would get Aron’s attention, given his failed interrogation of the man he had spent weeks searching for before he was killed by a sniper.
“That was just a snippet of what we intercepted,” Sara said, turning back towards them.
“And where was this transmission located from?” Neil asked, leaning back in his seat.
“While we can’t trace the source location where the transmission originated, we were able to trace it to the providence of Mures just outside the city of Tirgu Mures in Romania,” Sara said, bringing up the map of the country on the screen. Going over the intel they had on the crime lords, organizations, and everything in-between, they had on those operating out of that province, unsure who was affiliated with whom there. Casting Aron a smile as he rolled up his mask above his nose and brought his coffee to his lips. She did hope he liked the blend she had picked out for him. “My superiors would like it if you could bring everyone in alive, yet I know that’s impractical. Then again, Void, your name has spread around the globe.” Seeing how Aron scowled as she showed off the posters of his image plastered around the city and towns in the area, warning those with evil in their hearts to turn away from their paths that the killer of villains would be after them.
“You’re famous,” Tazia chuckled lightly as she elbowed his arm.
“Not funny,” Aron grumbled.
“What did you expect to happen, Void, after that display in DC?” Aminah asked, peering over at him. “You had to know those people without powers would be flocking towards you, knowing there was someone like you out there picking off villains who constantly somehow manage to escape their prisons. You should have seen this coming; it’s a natural reaction to your actions to date,” she said, waving towards the screen. Patting Aron’s thigh beneath the table when she saw how he was not happy that he was seen as a hero to a great many. She knew his reasoning for why he thought he wasn’t a hero. Well, in hers, and a great many heroes, thinking, Aron wasn’t. She knew he would agree with that assessment, given how he, too, didn’t see himself as a hero.
“And what do you need from us?” Carl asked, getting the discussion back on topic.
“We, the NSA, and my superiors need your team to travel to Romania. Conduct your own recon on the location where the transmission escort köle was sent and wait for the Collector’s team to show up.” Playing the rest of the clip, their interceptors had caught.
“We don’t know who you are, you fool, but you made a very bad choice. What little you have, we will be taking.”
“So you can see that this will give us an excellent opportunity to nab some of the Collector’s men and hopefully get them to talk on where this villain operates. However, if you’re faced with the choice of them killing you, and they give you no other choice, you have the authority to do what you need to do to come back alive,” Sara said sternly, wishing she could go along with Aron on this mission. “I will be staying behind to offer you any support we can from here. Our men on the ground will provide any and all backup you need to execute this task we have asked of you.”
“I see, then we need time to prepare for this kind of duration and what seems to be rather dangerous given who we’re up against,” Aron said, getting to his feet and seeing Sara nodding as he did.
“We understand, Void, do what you must to ensure you and your team return to us in one piece,” Sara said, hoping he heard her worry and concern underlining her voice. “A word, Void, before you leave,” she called out when Aron was the last to leave. Rushing over to him when he shut the door. Pulling up his mask so she could peer into his eyes before she passionately kissed him. “Please be safe and come back to me in one piece.”
“Had planned on it.”
“Good, please; I know taking captives alive isn’t your forte, but we need them alive, the Collector’s men, I mean. You are authorized to take out the Romanians if you must. They aren’t our concern, and it would benefit the city’s people to know at least some of the crime, which has sprung up in their country, has been curtailed.”
“I can’t make promises, but I’ll see what I can do,” Aron said, seeing how Sara’s cheeks heated as he squeezed her ass.
“And you better remember what’s waiting for you when you get back,” Sara uttered breathlessly as she pressed her body against his.
“Like I could ever forget,” Aron responded, pulling his mask down before reaching for the doorhandle. “Let’s go,” he said, walking through the center of the little huddle his family had formed as they waited on him. Noting how Tazia and Aminah looked at him, then back to the room before puffing out their cheeks. They knew what had gone on in that room behind that closed door.
“You best be kissing us too; you can’t leave your wives wanting,” Tazia grumbled as their jetcar lifted into the air.
“Hmm… I don’t know; you do get a little frisky with a little wanting,” Aron retorted, smiling beneath his mask as he sat on the jetbike that was docked to the car when Tazia peered back at him.
“Hmpf!” Tazia huffed, crossing her arms below her breasts.
“Aron, you aren’t so mean to us as to give her something and not us, are you?” Aminah pouted as she gazed back at him.
“Well, before Tazia went off about wanting this and that, I planned a hot make-out session. But if I’m going to get griped at, I’ll just save my kisses for Henry and Nettie,” Aron mused, seeing Neil, Carl, and his aunt/granddaughter Chery fighting back their laughter at how Aminah’s and Tazia’s mouths were moving like a fish out of water.
“Aron?!” Tazia whined when she knew he was just messing with her.
“Mmmhmm,” Aron hummed beneath his mask.
“That’s not funny,” Aminah huffed, with Tazia nodding along.
“What? I thought the two of you wanted a trip to another country with me,” Aron teased as their jetcar roared down the tunnel that led to the base his past self had created. Sighing in his mind as his mother, Jill, and his father were waiting on them for their return.
“Aron, we need to talk,” Vera said sternly.
“I’m going to say this once again, so maybe you will listen this time,” Aron said, his short auburn hair rustled as he pulled off his mask. His eyes cut hard to his parents. “They attacked me, understand? I didn’t seek them out; I didn’t start this. They did. They’re the ones who crashed the ceremony. They’re the ones who caused the people of that park to run scared when they knocked me off my wing. I was planning on hashing it out in a private area away from innocent people. Yet that wasn’t good enough for them. They’re the ones who put innocent lives in danger, not I! They’re the ones who acted like villains, not I! So spare me your self-righteous attitude, Mom. I left them alive, if not broken, but alive; they should be grateful for that,” he uttered in a dark tone as he walked towards the armory. “Veil, unlock the armory. We have work to do.”
“Understood.” Veil’s voice came over the built-in speakers of the base.
“But Dad! They’re heroes! You don’t fight heroes!” Jill called after him, feeling her face heat when he turned back to her. Seeing the look, he was giving her as if to say: ‘You sure you’re my daughter?’
“And I was just supposed to what? Allow them to pound on me? Endanger innocent civilians because they’re so hellbent on their fame? Get real, Jill, I thought my daughter would know me better than that,” Aron stated coldly before turning back and heading back towards the armory.