The whole rooftop of Metro Tower had been turned into a giant concert stage; gigantic speakers were stacked on top of one another, with a microphone mounted near the front. The sound became a thunderous roar--we could hear nothing but that goddamn music, played at full crank.
Wytch and Red threw us at the same time. Bonesaw and I hit the rooftop and rolled; a moment later and a bolt of lightning tore through the skies and struck the speakers.
Sparks flew. The music didn't stop, but the volume went down. I could see the singer, now--some thick-shouldered man dressed in black leather. His skin was granite-gray and his eyes were smoldering red coals--he had a guitar slung over his shoulders. When he saw us, he grinned.
The guitar crackled with lightning.
"This is ridiculous," I shouted, and that's when Wytch and Red descended in a fury of lightning and wind.
Rockstar soared up to meet them; there was an explosion of noise, a screech of guitars, and then everything above us was chaos. In front of us, I could see the stairwell bursting open.
Two women emerged.
One had shaved head and was covered in swirling tattoos; the other was tall, blonde, and looked like she'd been torn out of the pages from a swimsuit magazine. When the latter one saw me, she grinned.
"Finally," she said. "The Skull!"
"Excuse me?" I asked over the roar of lightning above us. "Do I know you?"
Both women charged. Bonesaw sprouted her blades and met the girl with the tattoos head on; meanwhile, the tall blonde leapt through the air, did a backflip, and proceeded to jump-kick me in the face.
It was like getting hit with a car. My upper body snapped back; I rolled half a dozen feet across the ground, scrambling for purchase across concrete. When I finally stopped, the woman cartwheeled in front of me and brought the tip of her high-heel down against my chest.
"The name is Victoria Noble," she said. "Sound familiar?"
"Nope," I replied, and I grabbed her ankle, squeezed, and twisted.
Her skin and bone resisted the force that the Skull-Buster's gauntlets applied; it was like trying to twist a girder of steel. I still managed to throw her off balance, which lead to her somersaulting through the air and landing in a cat-like crouch.
I threw myself to my feet and assumed the position. She grinned up to me, sinking lower.
"Nearly a century ago," she said. "Alexander Noble. My father."
"Oh, right," I said, lying through my teeth. "That guy."
"Your predecessor launched him. To the moon."
"Did he survive?" I asked.
"Of course, you twit," Victoria responded, and then she pounced. She was fast--quick--and skilled. Her hands blurred forward in a series of punches; I managed to block maybe two out of six. Each hit hammered through my helmet and suit, forcing me back toward the building edge. "We are the Nobles. We cannot be killed."
I felt my foot catch the edge of the building's railing; I dropped low, grimaced as her fist slammed into my left chest, and darted my hand out to catch her by the shoulder. And then I squeezed with every ounce of might that I could manage.
"Immortal, huh?" I said, and I shifted--pulled--and proceeded to throw her over my back, hurling her off the tower's edge. "Good to know."
She screamed out several curses before she disappeared into the cityscape below.
Bonesaw was still dealing with the woman with tattoos. I figured she must have been Hex, one of the ones Sumerset had warned us about. She was a teenage magician--someone who had turned her body into a conduit for demons and otherworldy powers. In exchange, they gave her incredible strength, endurance, and magic.
Some of her punches gouged through concrete and metal. One swing missed Bonesaw only to crumple an iron air-vent.
I rushed in hard. When I hit, I hammered into her chest with my shoulder and threw her down. She rolled across the ground, turned to both of us, and spat out a tongue of flame.
I crossed my arms over my face and moved in front of Bonesaw to take the hit. The fire licked at my shoulders and chest, but didn't pierce the suit. When it was over, Hex hit me, and I felt the exoskeleton beneath the suit give just a smidge.
"Crap," I muttered, forced back.
Bonesaw had taken the opportunity to move behind us. Just as Hex was reeling back for another blow, she screamed with pain; Bonesaw's elbow-blades had both come down and stabbed straight into her shoulders. Bonesaw proceeded to slam her knee into the back of her spine and pull.
Hex arched back, yowling. It was more than a little gruesome, but it got the job done. I stood back and started hitting her.
After the sixth blow, she was out.
Bonesaw retracted her bones and let Hex slump to the ground. We both looked up to the battle raging over our heads--just as a streak of white-and-black speared through and knocked Rockstar to the ground.
He hit the rooftop with an earth-shattering crash; a network of cracks splintered outward from where he had landed. Above him floated Sovereign, with Rockstar's guitar held in his hands.
"Concert's over," he said, and he snapped the instrument in half.
"Sovereign!" I yelled. "Trap!"
Sovereign looked up at me--as if to say something--just when it happened. The roof beneath him gave way; long metal pincers snapped up and seized him in their grip. An immense, skeletal-like machine rushed up from below. It was something like a mix between a steam-powered spider and a crab--one with what looked like a television for a head.
"THE ENTIRETY OF YOUR FACILITIES ARE IN OUR POSSESSION," the machine said.
"Tech-Head," Anna's voice buzzed in my ear. "Holy crap, that's Tech-Head."
"Where is Wytch and Red?" I asked, stepping back.
"Rockstar threw them both into a nearby building," Anna said. "They're okay, just recovering. You need to get out of there. Tech-Head's only a Class 4, but it looks like someone upgraded him. And with Rockstar--"
A guitar riff screamed across the sky. Rockstar flew up from the hole Tech-Head had made and hammered his fist into the grappled cape. The blow was so hard I could feel it; Sovereign's entire body snapped back.
Tech-Head threw Sovereign down into the core of the building--the entire tower shook as Sovereign crashed down through floor after floor.
"Get Arsenal here now," I said. "Anyone else, too. We can't take these guys on without some serious back up."
"They're on their way," Anna said. "What are you going to do in the meanwhile?"
"Buy some ti--" I started to say, just before I was cut off by a single, thin red blade.
It shot straight through my back and emerged from between my breasts, neatly penetrating the armor as if it wasn't even there. I stared down at the blade, dumbstruck; I felt myself being lifted off the ground.
"Shit," Bonesaw said. "Sue!"
Scourge was behind me. His red hand was held out, with his fingertip extended into a needle that was over twenty feet long; he had neatly speared me on its tip. Without another word, he swung me around, retracted the blade, and threw me off the tower's edge.