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By: Tomm Hulett

The red jet of flame exploded from its turret and licked at the blue armor of the hero. Megaman scowled and fired a plasma shot at the gun, blowing it to peices. Three more jets of the same nature erupted from various angles alongside the robot, he was struck by one of them.

"Argh," he growled, letting loose a few fully charged shots. He continued through the room at full speed.

Megaman had been inside the grim furnace of Torch Man for several hours, and it was beginning to wear on him. His first moments in the giant lair had been hellish; adjusting his circuits to the contrast from Sickle Man's freezing home. The flaming factory had been moderatly livable for the blue bomber until his overheating precautions had turned on. It had been downhill from there--as his inner anger wasnt' helping the situation much.

"Die.." he fired a few full bursts at some flaming robots that were hovering nearby. The roar of nearby lava flows exploded in Megaman's audio sensors. His brain chips were having some difficulty regulating certain functions due to the heat. With a great effort, the humanoid managed a leap over a nearby lava pit. He landed roughly and fell to one knee.

With angry resolution, the robot stood up and continued running, several charged shots storing up in his cannon. He let them loose quickly as a flame throwing droid flying via a propellor rounded the corner. Peices of the enemy exploded onto Megaman, peices which normally would be of no consequence knocked the blue robot back a few steps. He hurriedly charged a new shot and continued the sprint.

Leaping another fire chasm, Megaman barely gripped the edge of the platform and pulled himself up. A large column of fire exploded from the pool below and caused a sweltering gush of heat to collide with the Blue Bomber. Rage built up inside of his circuits as the emotion regulators shut down. He collapsed to the ground in overheated exhaustion. The last thing he saw before blacking out was a red and grey streak beaming down next to him.

* * *

"You alright, Megaman?" Protoman inquired, concerned.

"You overheated your systems," Doctor Light cut in. "We were worried."

Megaman sat up and rubbed his head. His helmet was off, and his epidermal sensors met hair. "I guess I did."

Protoman approached his brother. "You can't do that'll ruin yourself."

"So what if I do?" the robot asked. "Roll's gone..maybe I have nothing to live for."

"Justice," Light worriedly mentioned. "You need to achieve justice."

Megaman dropped the subject and appropriatly changed it. "Sorry for worrying everyone. I'll try not to overheat again; I guess I just got careless."

"Just the same," the doctor replied. "I'm sending Rush and Beat with you. That way you can save all your energy for the battle with the robot master."

"Don't let anger get the better of you," the crimson robot commented. "You're no good to anyone if you've flown off the handle."

Megaman smiled. "I'll be careful this time, Protoman. Thanks."

* * *

Rush's rocket jets propelled Megaman above the lava. It was still hot, but not quite as sweltering as it had been immediatly on top of the death stream. Rush's mouth cannon and Beat's crash attack kept most of the enemy droids at bay; Megaman kept any plasma bursts to an uncharged level.

A large metal fire serpent ascended from the depths. Spotting it, Beat swooped towards it immediatly. The small robotic bird smashed into it time and time again, causing as much damage as possible. Rush lowered to a safe level and fired at the monster as well. The beast soon exploded into fragments of metal, and a gate was revealed behind it.

"Looks like your job is done, guys," Megaman smiled. "I'll take it from here."

Rush gave the Blue Bomber a worried glance, and Beat whistled some concerned binary.

"Don't worry," the humanoid said in seriousness. "I've learned my lesson. I'm the model of calmness from here on."

For the most part satisfied, the two pets warped away in streaks of red and blue. Megaman hopped down to the gate and opened it, jaunting down the small hallway before opening a second gate and entering Torch Man's chamber.

The room was filled with large flickering flames. The heat was near overwhelming, and the heroic robot was increasingly glad he had cooled his systems down. Torch Man emerged across the room and scowled.

"Hot under the collar?" the robot master questioned. His fists were made of blazing fire, and the numerous flames of the room reflected off of his silver armor. The effect was meant for confusion, as even the most careful observer would be confused as to which direction the evil robot was moving. When stationary the silver served only as adornment.

Torch Man's spindly legs contracted as he leapt suddenly into the air. He landed near Megaman and fired a few flame bursts at the robot. The Blue Bomber rolled from the attack and fired some small return shots. "I need the right weapon," Megaman said to himself. "Pretty obvious the Ice Sickle is the choice." Turning lighter blue with areas of yellow, the warrior switched weapons. He brandished the scythe and leapt at his opponent, who also dodged.

"So you think you're hot stuff?" the fire robot growled. "Prepare to be burnt."

"So you're the one with the really cliche fire talk, right?" Megaman taunted while swinging his sickle once.

Megaman's assailant jumped back a few steps, then extended his flaming fists. The fire from his arms engulfed his entire body and he flew towards the hero, intent on turning Megaman into charcoal. The Blue Bomber was unnable to raise his weapon to block in time, and was struck full force in the chest. He rolled backwards, damaged, as Torch Man readied a few flame shots.

Megaman regained consciousness just as a flame exploded near him. He jumped towards the attacker and brought his sickle down full force. Torch Man was frozen in place for a few moments, and the Blue Bomber used this chance to get in a few more sickle strikes.

When the robot master escaped the frozen cocoon, he performed another flame dash. "You can't stand this heat," he said as he readied his attack. "Get out of the kitchen."

"Shut up, candle man." Megaman was able to freeze him fast enough this time, and finished the boss off rather easily. "This was fairly disappointing," the Blue Bomber frowned. "I expected more."

"Megaman," the robot's communicator squealed. "Come in, Megaman!"

"What is it, Doctor Light?"

"Just to make sure you're okay for the next area, I'm sending Protoman to assist you." The bearded man seemed honestly concerned.

"I understand, Doctor. Thank you for being concerned."

"Light out." Taken slightly aback, the good doctor signed off of the line and went to get Megaman's brother.

After running a diagnostic of the 'Flame Dash' weapon now in his system, Megaman teleported onward to the next location.

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