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Chapter 52: The Weakest Link
Chapter 52: The Weakest Link
Roll's two eyes stared into the one large red eye of the monster before her - the yellow devil. Also known as the cyclops bot, or rock monster. Luckily, she had heard about him before. As one of Dr. Wily's more ingenious creations, Rock had fought it, and an improved version, in two adventures previous. From listening to his retelling, she knew that this robot had an impenetrable exterior made of liquifiable litanium, and a single weak point - its eye. Her visor was describing the same information to her right now. This robot looked like the first version, with a slightly darker golden hue and dark crystalline eye looking down at her.
Calculating her distance from the beastly robot, Roll took out one of her pistols and shot straight at the eye. With only a slight movement, the robot bent its head down and the shot did nothing but sparkle away on its forehead. In retaliation it pulled back its beefy arm and backhanded Roll into the wall. The quick and strong blow made her feel like she was a fly that just got flicked away, slamming her spread-eagle on the metal slab. Being a robot she felt no pain, but her artificial intelligence made her react with an appropriate facial expression.
He's fast for a big guy, she thought as she slid down the wall. Just as she was about to collect herself and stand up the yellow devil grabbed her leg with two meaty fingers, swung her upside down and flung her away like a sack of potatoes.
"Whooooa!" Roll screamed as she flew through the air and skidded along the smooth floor. "All right, I'm getting mad now."
Away from the robot's range, she pulled out her twin pistols like a trained sharpshooter and held them in front of her. "Eat laser!"
She fired shot after shot, using her target enhancement in her visor, alternating shots between each pistol. The purple lasers popped around the cyclops' eye socket, but stopped at the litanium hide, never hitting the mark.
She momentarily relaxed her guns. "Damn, that eye's harder to hit than it looks," she said to herself. With no other recourse, she continued pummeling, backing away as the slow moving yellow devil moved toward her.
It reared back a giant fist and slammed it into the ground. Earth-shaking tremors rebounded through out the station. The floor seemed to undulate like ocean waves, toppling Roll off her feet and onto her back. Disoriented, she nearly dropped her pistols, and had to reset her balance calibration. "Unh, Rock never told me he could do that."
The monster walked forward around the curving corridor, heading towards her with arms raised, ready to grab.
"I think Wily's been doing some upgrades," she sneered and pulled up her gun again, now that he was in better range.
Still a fair distance away, the robot dropped its arms and thrust his fist out at Roll. The fist turned into a solid chunk of litanium and smashed through Roll's face. Her head flung back, nearly knocked off her shoulders. As the female robot reacted, the yellow devil's body continued disintegrating into chunks, peeling off at the arm, and flying through the air one after the other at Roll, and smashing into her body. Roll took each blow, swaying back and forth, whichever way she was hit, at the legs, the torso, the stomach, the arms, the head. The pieces of the yellow devil landed behind her, re-fusing together into its full body again.
Roll was knocked silly from the blows, highly disoriented and hurting. Knowing the robot was behind her, she ran forward, out of its range. If she were feeling better, she would have uttered a snarky quip at the foe, but now she was just concentrating on surviving. Rock had said the yellow devil was one of his more difficult fights, but Roll had never imagined anything as hard as this. Her power levels were depleting, her armor was getting chewed up. She looked back at the cyclops, who was starting to move towards her again. This called for desperate tactics.
Moving as fast as her pathways would allow her, she called Tango up out of her system. A green cat teleported down in front of her, sitting on her hind legs, and staring up at the monster.
"Go, Tango!" she yelled out.
The cat grew a ferocious expression, as ferocious as a housecat could muster, sloping out her back and bringing herself to the ground. It made a guttural growl/hiss at the enemy, then hopped into the air and tucked itself into a ball. The shingles of metal on her back splayed outward and the cat sped forward like a buzzsaw off its hinge. At once, she took off from the ground, rocketing around the room, bouncing off the walls and into the giant beast. Tango buzzed all around it, rebounding off its litanium armor only to come back down, with absolutely no effect. The cyclops slowly weaved around, trying to swat at the speedy thorned ball attacking him, but he was too slow.
"Aim for the eye! The eye!" Roll stressed, but the cat was already in such a frenzy it could pay her no attention. Tango's attack chip couldn't hit the yellow devil precisely enough to target the eye specifically. She was meant for melee situations. Roll called her back before her energy ran out and she was completely useless.
The annoyance gone, the yellow devil continued its approach. Roll tried firing her guns again, as the robot's red eye flashed and fired a lightning bolt down at her. Not expecting a ranged attack, Roll stood stupidly in place as the heavy laser shot her in the chest. She absorbed every bit of charge, sparks flashing from her body as she jittered backwards, grimacing in pain. Her options were limited. Tango was useless. She hadn't made a successful hit to the eye yet. And her enemy seemed to be pulling one trick after another at her.
She dropped to one knee, barely able to hold the pistol in her hand, breathing heavily. "This is gonna be tough," she muttered to herself.
"Hello? Hello?" Link's voice echoed in the square room. "Anyone here?" he called out. Great. A dead end. He was really lost now. That hallway he went through looked important, but apparently, all it led to was an empty room. What did they use this space for anyway? Storage? There wasn't a single thing in here, just a four distant walls, and a high ceiling with scaffolding and pipes with some sort of orange liquid being piped through. Link could see it through glass windows in the pipes. It looked like thin lava, but Link had no idea why anyone would make an irrigation system for lava, nor why they'd want to look at it through windows in the pipes, nor how they could make glass or pipes that weren't melted by the lava.
Anyway, there was nothing in here that Link needed or wanted, most of which was an exit. As soon as he started to turn to the door, a body dropped down from above and landed on its feet precisely. Link was startled but took no action. He recognized it as a robot, from the gleam of its metal skin. When it stood straight up, he saw that its body was similarly shaped to Mega Man's, but its armor was a darker blue & black. He wore a strange helmet with a giant razor-sharp metal star on its forehead and tapering to a point in the back like a blue jay.
"Human," it snidely said in a deep mysterious voice. "How did a human get in here? No human should have ever made it past the guardians."
"Actually, I'm Hylian," Link smirked.
"I only know creatures of the flesh," he responded. He made his hands into tight little balls and gently placed one into the other, torqueing them.
At that instant, Link knew he was talking to a malevolent robot. It must have been one of the robot masters Mega Man spoke of - special lieutenants of Dr. Wily who guarded the buildings he took over.
"Who are you?" Link asked.
"I am Shadow Man," the robot said. "What is your business here?"
"We're searching for the photon... something. The thing here that Wily wants. We need to keep it out of Wily's hands before he can finish his plan."
"Who is 'we'."
"Mega Man and I."
"Then he is coming," Shadow Man said with grim tone.
"And you mean to kill him?" Link asked with the same tone.
"I'm afraid I can't have that."
Link reached behind his back and slowly pulled off his sword and shield. Then he held them at the ready, spinning his sword with his wrist once to show his prowess. Shadow Man bore absolutely no reaction to Link's determined, threatening expression. He knew the effect the sword would have on his hide was nil. But Link was trying to appear that he had the upper hand, that he knew something the robot didn't. "I'm not letting you harm Mega Man," the Hylian said.
"Then I'll just practice on you!" Shadow Man yelled, baring his teeth. He grabbed the star off the top of his head and plucked it off, then flung it at Link like a boomerang. Link reflexively picked up his shield and held it over his face. Two of the sharp blades embedded in the iron metal, points poking through the other side. The third ripped horizontally through the bottom corner of the coat of arms, shredding off a chunk which clattered to the floor. Shadow Man generated another through his weapon system and threw three more rapidly. The Hylian used his guard to catch the first one, then dropped his shield, seeing its uselessness and used his sword to knock away the last two to the left and right.
Shadow Man picked out another shuriken and held it tightly as if it were a hilted weapon. He hopped over like a frog, dragging his feet. His altitude was not as high as Mega Man could jump, but he was gaining significant ground. As soon as he saw the robot heading for him with that razor-sharp blade, Link grabbed his hookshot out of his bag and fired at the ceiling. The grappling hook sailed up and fastened to a grated piece of scaffolding. He released the trigger and the chain pulled him up just as Shadow Man sliced forward.
The robot turned and looked up at Link hanging from the rafters like a bat. He threw the blade he was holding and Link dodged it, swinging to the side as it embedded itself in the metal. Link thought he could stay up her for a while, since the robot couldn't jump that high.
"Interesting fighting style," Shadow Man commented. "But I have no qualms about killing you. I follow none of the humans' laws."
He brought out two shadow blades, holding one in each hand, then threw them parallel, spinning in the air. The blades sliced through the section of grating the hookshot was attached to, separating it. No longer attached to anything, Link yelled in fear as he fell away and collapsed on the ground, rolling from his feet to his back.
Shadow Man grabbed the front of his tunic and held him up as if he weighed nothing. "Worthless sack of flesh." The robot punched him dead in the face with the cross of his free hand. It felt like a ramming metal hammer pounding on his jaw. This was one of the worst pains Link had ever felt. Wily's robot backhanded him with the same arm, knocking Link's head the other way. Then punched him in the stomach, and it took everything Link had to keep his stomach contents inside, let alone his actual stomach.
"So delicate," the robot muttered. "Even the slightest touch leaves a mark for all to see how damaged you are."
As Link breathed moaning gasps for breath, sounding like a stuck pig, Shadow Man grabbed the star from the top of his head and slashed downward lightly across Link's arm. Between wheezes, Link gritted his teeth in utter pain and grabbed the wound. Rivulets of blood ran down the hairs of his arm.
The Hylian knew this battle wasn't going to last long at this rate. He had to escape Shadow Man's grasp. Reaching behind him with his numbing arm, he managed to pull a bomb out of his sack, the only weapon that had proven at all effective against robots. Just as he pulled the fuse to light it, the robot whisked it out of his hands before he could blink.
"What's this?" Shadow Man said, holding the hissing globe in front of Link's swelling eye, as if he was disciplining the human. "What did you expect to accomplish with this? This would do far more damage to you than it would to me. It would barely scratch my exterior and render you lifeless. I'm not finished teaching you your lesson yet." He tossed the bomb behind him casually and it blew up on the other side of the room. "Firecrackers have no use here," he said, commenting about the weak explosion.
Shadow Man slapped him across the face with an open hand, leaving Link with the cutting sensation as if he'd been stung by a thousand bees.
"Fragile human." He slapped Link again. "Every action I make causes an unerasable mark. The more damage I do, the easier it is to cause it." He adjusted his shadow blade and ripped Link a short but deep cut across his cheek. Blood dribbled out of the scar. "Your skin is no thicker than a wire."
He lifted Link up higher and threw him overhead across the room. Link sailed through the air and barely twisted in time to avoid crashing headfirst into the wall like a missile. He ended up slamming his back against the hard metal and sliding down to the floor. Shadow Man stood in the middle of the room and slowly walked toward him, putting purpose behind each step.
"This is but a fraction of my true strength. I could flay the skin from your muscles, snap every limb like a twig. I am done with you. You are not the challenge you made yourself out to be." He slowly took the shadow blade off his forehead and approached. "I am going score your belly across the middle, so that your slippery organs will spill out. You will be able to hold them before you die."
Link peeked out from his blurry vision. His body ached all over, and his cuts hurt excruciatingly, like they were engineered to cause the most pain possible. But he hadn't lost all hope. He remembered what Mega Man had said. Every enemy could be defeated, even if he was just a fragile human. While the robot described the various ways he was going to perish, he was slowly reaching for his hookshot and putting it on his hand. He hadn't come this far to lose to a minion robot. He was banking all his hope on this one shot. He had to be precise. This was going to be tricky.
As soon as Shadow Man picked his foot up off the ground again, Link whipped his arm holding his hookshot out in front and fired. The spring-loaded grappling hook shot forward and embedded itself into the robots torso, latching under his chest plate. Shadow Man stood there with his hands on his hips, mildly interested to see Link to do something with this, daring him. Link couldn't pull the robot towards him with his weight, as he planned, so he let go of the trigger and held on tight. The grapple chain wound back up and Link flew towards Shadow Man.
The Hylian brought out his sword and concentrated the power therein, focusing all his emotions into the blade, energizing it with power and life. As he drew closer to Shadow Man, in that split second he had when the robot realized what was happening, he swung his sword in a horizontal arc, using the power of his spinning sword slash, shouting a battle cry.
Link didn't just stop at one spin, he let go of the hookshot and spun and spun like a ferocious tornado, slicing his blade through the air like a rotor, using every last ounce of strength he had left. The blade cut through Shadow Man's torso over and over again. After three or four spins, both the resistance of the metal and the dizziness overwhelmed Link and he collapsed to one knee, panting heavily.
While the fatigued Link kneeled before him, Shadow Man stood there, staring off into space with narrow pupils, stunned. He tried utter sounds, but only guttural sputtering came from his mouth. The top of his chest began sliding off the bottom of his body and fell backwards onto the floor, exposing the numerous wires and gears inside his body. The legs buckled to their knees, and fell to the side.
Link, in a hazy state from his last ditch effort, barely noticed what had happened. The pain in his body was beating as fast as his heart, overtaking his mind. The agony was numbing his thought process and he suddenly felt very sleepy. Unable to support his weight on his sword he sluggishly tipped to the side and collapsed into a fetal position.
He felt a cool darkness shrouding him from the hot lights and just before he lost consciousness he swore he heard a whistle, like his flute. A sad, bluesy whistle.
Next Chapter: The Wild Card