Both amps reptured beneath the weight of a single note. The sound rippled outward into two waves, crashing together at my precise location.
I felt it in my teeth. I felt it in my bones. I felt it in my goddamn brain. Every molecule in my body was set to spinning; nausea and vertigo swelled up from my stomach and exploded in my chest.
My knees buckled. Sharkface ripped off his headphones and swung an aluminum baseball bat at my head.
It made a sharp, distinct CLINK as it hit; for a moment, I was briefly thankful that the neck on my costume didn't move. Rather than snapping my head to the side, the blow threw my entire body back; I tumbled down the stairs, crashing down to the base.
Sharkface landed on top of me, aluminum baseball bat in hand. He started taking swing after swing, grinning all the while. Each blow sent a brief spurt of pain up through my face--my arms--but none of them were penetrating the armor.
I reached up and seized the bat in one hand. Then I squeezed.
It crinkled like a cheap soda can.
"Holy shit," he said, and then I head-butted him. He stumbled back, momentarily dazed; I took the opportunity to charge at him, shoulder first. When I hit, I felt something snap--something give. I pushed him straight into the stairwell.
The stairs buckled and collapsed. I threw him to the floor, watching as he groaned and squirmed. Despite his opening salvo, this was going to be a very one-sided fight. I was in a tank and he was throwing rocks. Big rocks, sure--but still just rocks.
"Okay. How do I take him out without breaking his skull?" I whispered. I didn't want to hit him again. I was afraid of snapping him.
"Backpack," Sumerset said. "Cattle-prod built into 'em. Basically a taser. Hit him with both of them."
I broke out the sticks, remembering the motion from the dark suit. With a single stab, I drove both sparkling tips into his torso.
He snarled as spittle formed on his mouth. For several seconds, he could do nothing but spasm and growl; finally, he fell still. Threads of smoke spilled out from his mouth.
I tried checking for a pulse, but I couldn't feel anything through the gloves. When I noticed his chest rising and falling, I felt a sense of relief flood through me.
"Get the screecher," Sumerset said.
I moved up the steps, finding the device on the floor. As I picked it up, a thought occurred to me.
"I thought I was immune to this thing."
"Not at that volume. No one is," Sumerset said. "It's a pitch that disrupts the functions of the brain. You had minor surgery to prevent you from being able to hear it properly. Lots of capes get it done. Everyone else? Pain, convulsions, possible stroke."
"Stroke?" I asked.
"Yeah. In some rare cases."
I crushed the device in my fist.
"The hell?" Sumerset said.
"Strokes can be fatal," I said. "This thing shouldn't even be in the suit."
"Christ, starling, if you can't handle a little controlled risk--oh, crap."
"Oh crap. Oh, goddamn. Just caught something on the scanner. Get out of there," he said. "Move."
Something about his tone set me on edge. I turned, moving toward the exit.
The scorching hot beam of a spotlight stabbed through a window, hitting me head on.
I hadn't even heard the helicopter approaching. Judging by the stream of curses breaking through the radio, I guessed that Sumerset hadn't either."
"Police?" I asked.
"Worse," he replied. "Cape-busters. Run. Now."