He hit me in the face. Hard.
There was nothing graceful about his punches; nothing clever or quick. He lifted his fists and hammered me straight-on in the nose with the metal bracer around his fist; then I felt the far wall crumpling against my armor-sheathed spine.
Notes of pain rang up and down my face. The soldier didn't relent; he brought his fists down in a steady 1-2-3 combo, pounding into my torso until I could see nothing but hot white anguish. I felt the armor crinkling beneath his blows.
"You're all the same," he told me. "All think you're hot shit 'cuz you got some powers and an electric tin can. Well, son, I've got me a government issue can-opener."
"Flare," Sumerset said, and I started to raise my hand.
This time, the soldier was ready; he stepped back and flipped down a visor from his helm. When it went off, he grinned--and hit me so hard that I tore right through the wall.
I landed across the next flight of stairs. Warning lights flooded my screen; tiny beeps notified me that I was in it pretty deep. I gritted through the pain and tried to get up--just in time for the soldier to meet my face with his armored foot.
I flew up several steps, smashing down hard. He walked--no, strutted--up toward me. He seized me by my sides, using the extended 'arms' that flanked his biceps to hold my weight.
"Looks like I'm gonna have to clear a spot for a mounted skull on my trophy rack," he said, and then he squeezed.
More warnings flared up along the helmet. I heard something cracking and splintering--a list of malfunctions started flooding the bottom left corner of the screen. With a deep creak, the engine flicked off--and then the armored suit was as heavy as lead.
"Shit," Sumerset said. "He took out the engine."
"Options," I whispered, struggling through the haze of pain.
"You ain't got any," the soldier responded. And then he threw me up the stairs to the fourth floor.
Above me, the ceiling had an immense hole ripped into it--from God knows what. Probably another cape fight, or maybe part of the same police raid that had busted the front door. Up through it, I could see the night sky--along with the hovering helicopter that shined its lights on the rooftop. I started to get up, picking myself off the floor; the soldier was moving toward me.
"I'm going to completely disarm the suit," Sumerset said. "When that happens, it'll start to fall off. Take off whatever you can. You're faster than him--you can outrun him. Get to the roof."
But before I could even stand up, the soldier had me by the throat. My arms were as dead as lead--I could scarcely lift them, and the stab of pain that ran through them when I moved them told me that I probably had fractured something in that last fall. I could feel the dull aching throb of bruises on every inch of me--and thanks to my bent chestplate, it was getting progressively harder for me to breathe.
"I lied about the last Skull," the soldier told me, grinning beneath his visor. "I knew she was a woman, but that's about it. Never even met the bitch. Just thought you'd wanna know. Before I tear that obsolete chunk of hardware off you and take you into custody."
I was such an idiot.
My eyes briefly looked up into the sky--I could see the helicopter hovering directly above us, its floodlight stabbing straight down in the hole. We were bathed in the hot glow of that spotlight.
And that's when I remembered.
A cyborg detective plagued with countless malfunctions. I watched the cartoon a lot as a kid. My favorite bit was his extendable arms--how they'd always malfunction at the wrong time. 'Go-Go Gadget Arms!', he'd say, and then something horrible would happen.
Through the pain and anguish, I reached for the device. It snapped off from my arm with a click; it bore a vague resemblance to a gun. The soldier responded, instinctively--his free hand moving to snatch the offending weapon and pull it away from me.
I smiled beneath my helmet, letting him have it--but not before pulling the trigger myself.
"Go-Go fuck yourself," I said as the device fired--a single black thread lancing straight up into the night--and hitting the belly of the helicopter with a loud splat.
The soldier stared at me with confusion for only an instant. Then, the device whirred, yanking him up out of the hole and toward the helicopter with incredible force--causing him to drop me in the process.
I fell to the ground, watching him fly up into the night sky.