Although his erratic pulse still pumps pure adrenalin through his bruised limbs, Sam forces himself to wait until he hears the hydraulic hiss of a door sliding shut behind him.
He knows he won't stand a chance without the element of surprise, and so he waits, grits his teeth and tries to swallow his heart back down from where it's pounding in his throat. A narrow hallway stretches out in front of him, lit by an orange glow. Rinzler's grip is firm around his arm, spreading a strange, gathering heat around the line of light on his suit, but Sam tries to ignore it, and slowly counts to ten in his mind.
He takes a deep breath, and another, and on his next exhale he brings his heel down on Rinzler's foot as hard as he can.
No bones crack under his heel, and Rinzler doesn't so much as gasp with pain—he's a program, Sam thinks wildly, recognizing the flaw in his logic too late, can he even feel pain?—but the grip on Sam's arm loosens a little in surprise, and that's all he needs. He drops into a crouch, slams his elbow back into Rinzler's stomach with as much force as he can muster, wrenches out of his grasp, and then he's free, sprinting down the hallway, the roar of blood in his ears drowning out everything else.
There is no way to go but forward, and although he expects a weight to slam into his back any moment, the push, when it comes, is a surprise. Before Sam realizes what's happening, he is whirled around and his already bruised shoulders collide with the wall, the impact knocking the air from his chest. Suddenly he finds himself face to helmet with Rinzler, his own distorted reflection staring back at him with shock-widened, defiant eyes, and he freezes.
His rapid exhales are fogging up the black plastic, but he can't slow his breathing, not with how his heart is thrashing in his chest like a trapped bird. Somehow Rinzler managed to grab both of his wrists with one hand alone, pinning them to Sam's sternum in a way that makes it hard to draw in air. His body is a thrumming line of concealed threats along Sam's front, his right foot pressed against Sam's, making it all too clear how easy it would be for Rinzler to kick his legs out from underneath him.
Sam stills in defeat, slowly, slowly spreads his hands to show his surrender, breath shuddering in and out in unsteady gasps. Defiance is still making his blood boil, but although a part of him would love to struggle against the iron grip on his wrists and arm until he might get the chance to knee him in the gut, Sam knows that he lost. Rinzler's touch is like a brand on his biceps, sending tendrils of sensation down his arm, a bit like the itch of sunburn but more, a rough prickle of heat that makes him dizzy.
There's a long moment where neither of them moves, suspended in motionless silence. And for some reason Sam finds his gaze drifting down, down to the sparsely scattered points of blazing red. The glow on Rinzler's armor is nothing like the bold lines of light on Sam's suit, but the pattern still looks— familiar, almost, though Sam has no idea where he might have seen it before. A faint stir starts up in the back of his mind, a long-buried memory stretching out slowly like an animal that's just come out of hibernation, its tiny hammering pulse speeding up.
Then the helmet dips, just slightly, and Sam snaps his eyes back up. It's not a nod, not quite a threat, but more like a— show of reluctant acknowledgement, perhaps. Like Rinzler would never have expected Sam to fight him still, and can't help but be impressed now that he has. Sam stares back mutely, not having the faintest idea what to do with that. His heart is pounding again, a rapid-fire staccato close to his throat, but this time, he's not sure why.
Two black-clad guards approach them, and Rinzler steps back and out of his personal space. For a moment, Sam is oddly transfixed by the way his distorted reflection disappears from the helmet, replaced by the hallway's orange glow, and then the guards are on him. They yank him forward and grab his arms to march him away, and he can't conceal a slight flinch, the harsh grip making the cut on his arm twinge.
In a way, the grim satisfaction he feels at that should probably worry him. But he can't help but think what this will look like, being led to whoever wants to see him, flanked by Rinzler and two guards. Like he put up a good fight, Sam thinks, a swell of defiant pride burning in his chest. Like he fought and damn well near won.