Hero's Diary: Day 1, Part 14
11/02/14 at 13:18 EST

As I had assumed, the warning shot amounted to nothing more than the waste of a bullet and further drawing attention to myself. Thanks to the generous size of the magazine clip, however, the cavern arena became a lot less congested: apart from the were-cat creature and the floating jester robot, who seemed more interested in watching their comrades get shot than getting shot alongside their comrades, all the other monsters had been shot. And a good thing, too, because the gun clip had been depleted in the process and any hostility demonstrated from the remaining two would have to be dealt with head-on.

"Good work," Pirohiko declared, stepping over one of the bodies and turning around to face me. "Now that you've heroically dispatched this threat, we can continue our search!"

"Where?" Etranger followed after him. "There's nowhere else to go from here. We're at the bottom of the dungeon, and there's still no sign of Maria. We must have missed her - probably when you two ran ahead!"

"Excuse me?" The were-cat overheard Etranger's finger-pointing and approached us. "Were you looking for me?"

"Um..." Etranger tilted her head. "Are you Maria?"

"Yes, I'm Maria. What are you doing here?"

"We should ask you the same thing," Pirohiko stepped in. "What are you doing in such a dangerous place? Don't you know what this place is?"

"Of course I do," Maria answered confidently. "This arena is the Boss map! It's the perfect place for -"

"Mariiiiaaaa!" Just then, Jose Gaspacho came barreling down the stairs. "Maria, I've finally found you! What are you doing in such a dangerous place? You must come with me, back to where it's s-"

"Grampa!" Maria exclaimed, excitement in her voice. "Look at me! I've become a Boss, just like you've always wanted."

"Maria?" Gaspacho sounded both shocked and confused. He's an old man, so it could also be amnesia, I suppose.

"Yeah! I ran into some superhero guy who said he could make my dreams come true," she explained in a manner that was sure to lead into more trouble for me. "He gave me this robot!" She gestured to the jester. "With Francoise by my side, I have the power to be a Boss! Isn't it wonderful? She follows orders perfectly!"

"Superhero?" Etranger asked. "That doesn't sound like -"

"A double-espresso, please!" Pirohiko interrupted her, turning his focus on the robot. Everybody else stared at him. "Is there a secret code word I need to give her before she'll do it?"

"No, you dummy," Maria replied. "Francoise is a war machine, not a coffee maker!"

"Wars are founded on chemical imbalances caused by caffeine highs!" Pirohiko retorted. "War machines are therefore required to have an Espresso Machine installed on every model!"

"What the HELL kind of wars have you been involved in?" Etranger asked.

"Would you all stop it?" Gaspacho demanded, swinging his hammer. "Get away from that thing, Maria, it's dangerous!"

"No it isn't, Grampa, watch!" Maria turned to the robot. "Francoise! Let's show him our combination attack!"

The robot's eyes grew brighter. It made a mechanical laugh as the entire torso bent backward, revealing a single-user cockpit. Maria climbed inside, and the robot's torso expanded to fit around her, expanding hidden chambers to allow for her arms and legs. "I know it isn't much," Maria called to her grandfather from within the machine, "but I can show you how well we work together by defeating this wimpy-looking hero-type character."

"That robot can transform!?" Etranger blurted in surprise.

"Oh, oh, oh!" Maria cried from within the robot. "It's hot in here! Nevermind, I want out! I want out! I can't control it!"

"She's trapped inside!" Pirohiko declared, thrusting a finger dramatically in Maria's direction.

Etranger, in agreement with Pirohiko, turned to me. "Listen, you need to stop that thing! But be careful not to over-do it, because Maria's still inside. You can't let her come to any harm if we're going to fulfill the mission."

"She's right," Pirohiko responded, also in agreement with Etranger. "And salvage the robot if you can. Think about how cool it would be if we could re-purpose it to work for you! Walking Tech Ranger!"

"There is more than one thing wrong with that," Etranger replied, "and one is enough to make me want to kick your teeth in."

Pirohiko then began to explain his idea to Etranger. I wish I could listen in, but I'm busy running away from a crazy out-of-control war machine while an equally-crazy old man is shouting death threats at me if I manage to live long enough to disable the killer robot.
Tagged under: ZHP
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