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Aaron Sharpe

Aaron Sharpe is a wealthy entrepreneur, serial start-up founder, and the current chairman of Xplore, a privately funded space exploration company. But after a secret space accident he now has cosmic energy powers and a secret identity as "Runeforce".

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Millennium City
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Fri 24th Jul 2020 02:21

A Warehouse Explosion, A New Superhero, and a Wildthing

by Aaron Sharpe

Sandcrab had been investigating what happened to COIL after Beth Schroder, my close confidant at the Department of Defense, offered the ominous morsel of information to me over drinks at the Town Pump Tavern, “COIL no longer exists”.
Beth didn’t know much more about COIL — and frankly neither did I — but Sandcrab was able to pick up on a lead about COIL and military trucks identified at a warehouse on the west side of town. Several of us agreed to join with him later in the evening. And at around 9PM that night, we gathered outside a bank near the warehouse.
Cypher wasn’t there when we arrived, but we could hear him over the comms saying, “Do not attack ‘Stevie’, my robot.”
There was some chatter among the team about sugar substitutes and a shrewd comparison to Stevie Nicks...but everyone quickly agreed not to attack “Stevie”.
Sandcrab’s surveillance identified some movement inside the warehouse and he spoke aloud over comms, “Well that’s odd, at 9PM at night there are still people working inside that warehouse...a little suspicious.”
Field Effect asked pointedly, “Do any of them have guns?”
“I’ll get a closer look and let you know...”, Sandcrab responded as he proceeded to tunnel underground toward the warehouse with Stevie, Cypher’s robot, flying down and following quickly afterward.
After a few minutes, Sandcrab came back over the comms with a status report, “We’ve got COIL agents here, do you all want to beat up some bad guys and then question them?”
Field Effect piped up quickly, “Do you see any of the Talon agents?”
The “Black Talon” agents wore enormous mechanized robot-suits and had taken a toll on Field Effect in their last encounter at the Power Transfer Station.
Sandcrab responded quickly, ”There are a couple of robot-looking things in here. Let’s all attack at the same time and surprise them.”
Cypher suggested that the group should all follow the tunnel into the building and so Sandcrab returned back to the rendezvous point, reopening the tunnel for the team.
For the benefit of the new hero, WindWalker, who had not yet received a DarkR-enabled comm device, Field Effect explained, “There are security cameras around the building so we are going to use Sandcrab’s tunnel to enter undetected.”
As soon as the ground broke above us, Field Effect dashed out of the tunnel and straight at the large mechanized robot-looking agent on the south side of the building. Charging at the mech, she swung with a kick, caving in some of the metal of the suit — but it stood firm and unmoving.
“Didn’t we already do this dance?”, she said wearily.
The building was crowded, full of trucks — the same trucks that we had encountered at the Power Transfer Station. Those trucks had been transporting COIL blaster rifles. There were also Talon agents visible at both ends of the building along with many armed agents scattered about...too many to count.
Sandcrab grabbed one of the mechanized agents and careened it into the back of the truck, closing his claws and squeezing it — the sound of audible metal crushing was unmistakable. The man inside the mechanized Talon suit gasped aloud in pain.
There were two agents standing in front of the team’s newest hero, WindWalker. And without hesitation, she walked up to the agent on her left and manifested a bright pink lightsaber — holding it in the middle — with devastating glow of light at each end.
“Somebody tell me that Field Effect is NOT dating that guy,” she said, referring to the mechanized agent at the end of the room. But Field Effect wasn’t interested in that type of dancing...
WindWalker swiped at the agent with her lightsaber, cutting him deep down the side. The agent screamed in terror and fell to the floor, clearly bleeding and now incapacitated.
Cypher’s robot, Stevie, then appeared in the room and flew closer to north side toward a cluster of agents, blasting one of them back into the wall, denting the garage door. The agent fell to the floor, unconscious.
Then the agent still standing next to WindWalker — the one not cut down by her lightsaber — opened fire, with blaster fire whizzing past her, only making their mark on the trucks behind us.
And yet another agent opened fire into the truck where Sandcrab had carried the mechanized Talon agent. The sound of energy blasters was deafening as they ricocheted across the mech and the truck — hopefully missing Sandcrab. Still another agent crowded in as well, laying down a string of blaster fire into the truck where Sandcrab was continuing to hold tight onto the mechanized agent.
At that point, one agent screamed, “Warehouse 26 is under attack! We are taking on hostiles. They are coming up through the floor.”
More agents were coming at us from all angles. Another standing near Field Effect opened fire, but the blasts were absorbed into her force field. Even still, the blaster fire was so powerful that she was pushed back through the warehouse door, bursting it open and throwing her onto the street outside.
The Talon agent she had kicked earlier began to move toward her, now that she was blasted backward outside of the building. The mechanized agent unleashed an entanglement of coil wires which wrapped Field Effect tightly in place.
Immediately to my left, there were three agents standing with blaster rifles drawn. And without hesitation, I created a miniature star explosion that encompassed them all, forcing them backward to the ground.
Amidst the blaster fire and explosions, Cypher communicated again over the comms, “There is another unknown super out here, I’m not sure...friendly or foe...?”
Sandcrab stepped out of the truck where he’d careened the Talon agent earlier, still holding the enormous mechanized robot but now swinging it like a baseball bat at the COIL agent standing nearby — the one who had just been laying down blaster-fire at Sandcrab.
Like a slugger, the swing connected and the agent was rocketed backward into the trucks behind him, slumping to the ground.
The sound of blaster fire was lessening as agents continued to fall to the floor. But in that moment, the rooftop exploded directly above me as a large ogre of a man crashed into the building, barely missing me as he landed.
As parts of the ceiling fell to the ground, he screamed aloud “NO MORE BULLYING!” The ogre stood tall and solid, an impressive figure...seething in anger.
“Look who’s talking?!” WindWalker quickly taunted.
The COIL agent who had been firing at WindWalker continued doing so, but the blaster fire still escaped past her, never making its mark. But the agents firing at Sandcrab finally did...but their blasts had no effect on him.
Another agent fired from behind the trucks at the south side of the room, making contact with me. But the blasts were absorbed by the runes, also having no effect.
With the ogre now standing directly in front of both me and WindWalker, I summoned a cosmic barrier between us...spanning from the wall across the building and extending past the Ogre. If not for the immediate danger of the battle before us, the barrier might’ve been beautiful — the openness of space with solar systems and stars in vast array. But the Talon who had just wrapped up Field Effect with coils launched a cannon explosion.
But Unfazed by the explosion and now freed from the coils that had bound her, Field Effect ran into the smoke and flames and back toward the Talon agent, swinging her fist and connecting with such enormous strength that the Talon agent flew back against the truck parked on the west side of the building. His backward momentum from her punch carried through the wall and soundly destroyed the trucks at the end of the building.
However, one of the trucks must’ve been full of grenades because the immediate explosion enveloped the entire south side of the building, pushing Field Effect back out onto the street. I was also caught in the explosion, pushing me back and down to the ground. The runes again absorbed most of the impact, but a piece of shrapnel from the trucks had been lodged into my side...blood seeping from the wound.
With the flames of explosion still hanging in the air, Sandcrab dropped the squeezed-and-broken Talon and grabbed the last COIL agent still standing, squeezing him — crushing him really — bones creaking and breaking. He barely stopped short of taking his life. But still, the agent was alive, now broken and lying on the floor.
I stood up and removed the shrapnel from my side...examining the blood on my hands, but there was no time to think about the wound as Cypher appeared in the building with an ominous announcement,
“I see this mysterious super out here again...”, he said.
But Sandcrab wasn’t finished. He yelled over to the enormous ogre at the far end of the building, “We aren’t bullies! We are just trying to make sure there aren’t weapons who can hurt people...”
But the ogre-sized super croaked back loudly, “You’ve be been hurting everyone! Shut up. You are the bully!”
The ogre motioned over to the agent with broken bones lying on the floor. “Especially that guy over there!” He paused for a moment, “And I’m not going to stand for it. I don’t put up with that kind of bullshit...”
The ogre walked right up to the cosmic barrier and stomped his foot solidly on the ground with a powerful reverberation that caused an explosion aimed at WindWalker. She was thrown back by the blast, up into the air, but Sandcrab caught her.
Flying upward to get a better shot at the Ogre, he screamed at me with a taunt, “Are you leaving?! You gonna try to get those crayon markings off your skin?!” The ogre was clearly an ignoramus, but still dangerous.
Cypher piped in over the comms, “Stevie, we need to take cover...”
Field Effect rushed at the Ogre and wrapped her arms around him, moving into him and catapulting him backward while shouting, “Pick on someone half your size!”
And then, with more urgency, Cypher repeated over the DarkR comms, “An explosion is about to happen in the building next to us. I can hear it building, I can almost feel it.”
Then, the voice of Socrates was also audible over the comms, “Sandcrab, I am detecting a large amount of electromagnetic interference. As if several power sources are overlaying. I strongly encourage evacuating the area.”
Socrates added, “I do believe the other lady on the other roof has done something in that warehouse to cause this explosion.”
Sandcrab responded, “Apprehending her is secondary to deactivating the bomb. Can you guide me to it?”
“Sandcrab, I strongly suggest you and any survivors from the building evacuate the area immediately.” Socrates replied, with added urgency in his a computerized voice.
The next moments were a blur of activity — each of us scrambling to get out of the building and to ‘save’ those agents we’d just defeated from being destroyed in an impending explosion — the source of which was unknown.
In that moment, I opened cosmic portals around two agents, WindWalker, and myself and teleported us all into the open parking lot outside the bank...from where we had originally tunneled into the warehouse.
I could hear over the comms the others attempting to evacuate and save the remaining unconscious agents. In mere seconds, a series of building explosions erupted — smoke and debris expelling outward in all directions. Sandcrab and Field Effect escaped into different directions, but Cypher appeared in the parking lot very close nearby.
With adrenaline still rushing and smoke now billowing into the sky from the collapsed buildings, I grabbed the closest COIL agent and shook him awake,
“I can either portal you fifty kilometers into the air and let you figure things out...or you can give me a name. Who are you working for?! Your choice.”
The agent was terrified and barely conscious, but he answered with single word, repeating it and then drifting off, “Boomslang...boomslang...boom...slang.” And then he fell unconscious again.
I turned around at that moment to see Cypher and WindWalker standing face to face with an unidentified super — WindWalker’s pink lightsaber drawn again, defensively.
The unidentified super growled low in her chest, a deep warning rumble. Suddenly her head turned, slightly, as if she had become aware of something behind her. She spun about on a dime, facing away from WindWalker just as Stevie and Cypher came into view.
But then she seemed to relax a bit, settling back on her her heels and smirking at Cypher and WindWalker and they began to speak out of my earshot. When I approached more closely, I could hear the conversation.
In a deep, gravelly voice she spoke, “If I was a friend of Destroyer, I have a really bad way of showing it, would you not say? Do you not speak American...? I answered your question — on wether I was friend or foe of the one you call ‘Destroyer’”
WindWalker's face looked less tense as she began to twirl the pink wand of light in her fingers. "Nah, If she wanted to bust us up, she should have moved by now..."
“Good, you speak American”, the gravely-voiced super retorted.
"English," Cypher corrected, "It's English"
“No. The English speak English.....unless you are English? You do not seem to have the accent”, she quipped.
At this point, I interjected myself into the conversation, “I was also listening just now...‘If you were a friend, then you have a really bad way of showing it.’”
I pressed her logically, “We just narrowly escaped an explosion, also barely avoiding taking the lives of these foolhardy agents in the blast. So I’d consider this a fair line of questions. If you are no friend of Destroyer — assuming the typical way of showing friendship — then why did you set the explosion?”
The unidentified hero turned toward me, glancing once at the collapsed COIL agent at my feet and then speaking, “You answer your own question; because I am no friend of his.’
Looking backward, she glanced in the direction of the buildings, “As to the collateral damage; that was unintended. I...lets say...miscalculated”
In the moment of her pause, WindWalker chuckled and the unidentified super looked back at her, showing the tips of fangs...or maybe it was a smile.
Wind walker twirled her pink, glowing blade faster — showing off a bit before she let it fade out...and then she flashed a Mona Lisa smile.
With the tension of the moment becoming more obvious, I tried to calm things down, “Well, I can promise you I don’t want to be judged for my miscalculations. And a foe of Destroyer is a friend to me. But trust is more important than friendship right now. Are you willing to extend us a bit of trust?”
I paused and extended my hand toward the unidentified super — continuing with my verbal offer,
“Will you allow me to portal you into my private residence for a quick chat over some of my best scotch and possibly a cigar, if you are so inclined? WindWalker, you are welcome as well sans the vices. But I think we need to get out of here quickly.” WindWalker couldn’t have been older than sixteen years...

Then looking at Cypher , I admitted, ”At this point, I think this is a safer alternative to riskier locations. Do you agree?”
Cypher agreed.
But the whole situation was laughable to WindWalker, as she made a face, "Cigars? Hope you have a snack with that Scotch"
And to this, I laughed out loud...a welcome relief to the tense moments still unfolding all around.
“Cypher, you are more than welcome to join us for this conversation.” Continuing to look at the unidentified super, hand still outstretched, I repeated, ”What do you say?”
Cypher looked over at her and offered agreement “I will join unless you feel you are being outnumbered?”
The unidentified hero stood upright, pivoting toward me, looking down at my hand. A slow snarl slipped past her barely parted lips, “Trust goes both ways. We will see if you earn mine”
She took hold of my hand while smirking backward at Cypher,
“Outnumbered? There are only three of you.”
With things settling down, I touched the comm in my ear and shared with the team over the DarkR web “Team — Cypher and I are going back to my vault so that we can chat with WindWalker and a new super we’ve encountered”.
Stopping for a moment mid-sentence, I looked at the wary unidentified super, “In this form, I go by the name ‘Runeforce’, what is your name?”
She responded plainly, “You can call me Wildthing.”
Over DarkR comms, Field Effect asked incredulously, “New super? I thought WindWalker WAS the new super?! One sec, I need to punch this guy, he's waking up. Ok. What was that?"
I tapped my earpiece again, “Yes, we have met another super who goes by the name ‘Wildthing’ and have decided to chat more with her over scotch and cigars...and away from the burning buildings and approaching sirens.”
WindWalker reached out for my other hand at the same moment and said wryly, "Since you're driving..." Giving Wildthing a friendlier look, she added, "This is getting to be a real party."
Wildthing sighed and said under her breath with some irritation, “...humans”
Responding back over the comms, I added one final offer, “FE, do you want to come with? I think you could join with us for this jump, if I push it...I’ll just need to take a breather when we get there.”
Field Effect responded hesitantly, "Ummm, where are you meeting? I can make it there. Taxi's exist. Assuming you're staying in town."
With that curious response, I clarified, “We are meeting at the Sharpe Mansion Vault. We’ll see you there soon. I’ll tell the house staff to be expecting you.”
Wildthing glanced around at the men strewn about the parking lot, and spoke aloud, “Is it your intention to leave them here, without restraints? I doubt they will obligingly wait here for the ‘authorities’”?
“Yes. When the ‘authorities’ arrive, they’ll be released anyway. And if we are still here at that time, it’ll be us they attempt to restrain.”, I explained.
With that, I began to concentrate intently as portals opened around us all. In one moment, the night sky faded away. In the next moment, the vastness of the cosmos appeared — countless stars and solar systems visible in clear display. And then, only a third moment later, Wildthing, WindWalker, Cypher (and Stevie) and I were standing around a table in the cavernous Sharpe Mansion Vault.

The major events and journals in Aaron's history, from the beginning to today.

Justice Never Dies

I always tell my daughter, Sarah, that Justice never dies if we keep fighting for it. But for months after Destroyer took over, I only ranted about his antics. I didn’t really fight for justice. In my normal fashion, I made some inflammatory posts on...

05:12 am - 09.06.2020

DarkR Web Pillars

The Dark Web was always a source of cybersecurity threats for Xplore Corp. Before Destroyer’s takeover, we had teams of security analysts - red teams, blue teams, purple teams — and probably other teams I don’t even know about — focused on identif...

04:09 am - 10.06.2020

Day Zero

As of tonight, there are now four — maybe even five — heroes on the secure network we now call the “DarkR Web”. The network is designed with proximity encryption to cover the devices (including voice calls) of those with FOBs. I’ve even created ...

03:19 am - 14.06.2020

Maximum Resistance Joins the DarkR Web

Runeforce Meets Maximum Resistance The last message still on the screen was “>...Working...” This in response to my rashly typed command to “+join Cypher” to the DarkR Web. But now, freshly appearing on the screen was a new message: >SCRT: +...

04:29 am - 16.06.2020

Not According to Plan

Even with the best preparations, our first coordinated mission together didn’t feel very “prepared”. Isobar, Faust, Field Effect, Cypher, Maximum Restiance, and I worked late into the night discussing how we might trick the computer systems at t...

06:00 am - 21.06.2020

Connecting The Dots

Several days ago, while we were attempting to infiltrate the power plant, I noticed something curious about my runes. Particularly, as I was portaling toward the direction of the building where Isobar had been, I noticed a much warmer — maybe even “ho...

07:41 pm - 23.06.2020

Falling Apart & Coming Together

At some point, probably just a month after the superheroes vanished, Destroyer began eliminating world leaders. News reports were almost daily. I remember the first headline clearly, “German Chancellor Murdered by Destroyer”. I was scheduled to fl...

06:41 am - 01.07.2020

COIL No Longer Exists

The day the Power Plant mission, I worked throughout the day in my lab, breaking for a moment to help Sandcrab with a test at Homestead, but then returning quickly afterward — attempting to build a new DarkR FOB for Beth Schroeder, my contact at the Dep...

05:38 am - 04.07.2020

Working Through The Night

I couldn’t think clearly. Beth was doing well but had warned me to be careful. Surely she didn’t know anything about the power plant mission...? There was no way she could’ve connected any of it to me anyways. I was just being paranoid. Still, I nee...

03:56 pm - 05.07.2020

The Death of Soal

My dreams were vivid last night — more spectactularly vivid than I’ve ever experienced before. And, to be honest, it didn’t feel like a dream. I’ve experimented with all types of drug-induced, lucid dreaming in the past — trying to fight my inne...

03:55 pm - 06.07.2020

A Glowing Space Plane and A Star Capsule

Jamie called me a few minutes after I woke from the vivid dream/memory of Soal’s death. I answered the phone immediately, because I <i>always</i> answer Jamie’s calls. “Hey Jamie...” I responded, groggily. “What’s up?” Jamie has been ...

02:31 am - 11.07.2020

Runes Etched Into The Wreckage

After an hour-long drive, we arrived at the Xplore Corp secure storage facility at around 2PM in the afternoon. Regina had prepared some sandwiches and packed a few bottled waters for us to share with Jamie, so we ate together in the park overlooking the ...

06:05 am - 17.07.2020

A Warehouse Explosion, A New Superhero, and a Wildthing

Sandcrab had been investigating what happened to COIL after Beth Schroder, my close confidant at the Department of Defense, offered the ominous morsel of information to me over drinks at the Town Pump Tavern, “COIL no longer exists”. Beth didn’t ...

01:55 am - 24.07.2020

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