Hero's Diary: Day 1, Part 15
11/02/16 at 14:02 EST

"Stop it!" Maria cried out to me. "It's so hot! Stop making me chase you!"

"Um, look, that's fascinating and all," Etranger told Pirohiko. "I'm sure robotic arms would make him less of a wimp. I really am. But shouldn't you be helping him?" She swung her arm out to the scene that was in progress. "Give him some advice? Maybe, I dunno...Mentor him? Do something useful?"

"You can do it!" Pirohiko then shouted to me. "As long as you don't give up, you can overcome this!"

Does being killed by a lunatic robot count as giving up? Without a definite answer, I wasn't about to take that chance.

"Um," he mumbled to himself, realizing his pedestrian encouragements didn't actually do anything. "Stop that robot, and...I'll buy you a drink!"

I came to a sudden halt. Was he serious? Was that the best he could offer? I throw my life away for a cold beverage? I glared back at him. He was in a difficult position - not any more difficult than mine, of course - but maybe it wasn't fair for me to lose my cool. Other than the fact that he forced the responsibility on me, he sent me to my death against that giant lion-man creature, he sent me into this dungeon, he drew enemy attention to me and he forced the task of saving Maria on me, he was kind of being put on the spot.

"A drink?" I heard Maria echo. The robot had caught up to me, getting ready to destroy me in such a fashion that would ensure the local custodian had work for the next month. "It's so hot in here...I need an iced cappuccino!"

The robot raised one of its arms. The metallic claw for a hand began spinning rapidly, sharp fingers becoming the blur of a saw blade. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists. I was going to die, but at least I made it to the end of the cavern. That's a feather in my cap.

I continued to wait for the end of my precious skull. Nothing had happened, which made me wonder: how will I know when it kills me? Supposing it's instant, what'll happen? I'm assuming I'll lose the ability of conscious thought, but I don't know for sure. What if I end up as a wandering soul, unaware of the fact that I've been killed. Or worse, what if I end up like Pirohiko, making some poor bastard's life a living nightmare? I can't let that happen. I have to put a stop to this war machine!

Maria let out a scream. I opened my eyes and looked up. The robot's hands continued to spin, gradually slowing to a stop. The eyes no longer possessed that eerie glow. It started smoking, and without warning the legs buckeled, dropping it to the ground. When the formerly-floating sphere at the base struck the rock floor, the entire robot broke apart, metal fragments falling all around. Maria was left looking very uncomfortable, covered in some light brown sludgy stuff. "Agh!" she screamed again, wiping as much of it out of her fur as she could. "Ouch..."

"Maria!" Gaspacho cried, running to her. "You...you saved my Maria!"

Etranger leaned in toward Pirohiko. "...No, he didn't. What just happened?"

Pirohiko folded his arms and grinned. "Don't you see, Etranger? That's the power of a hero's spirit! Unyielding Ranger!"

"What happened in there, Maria!?" Gaspacho asked, holding his granddaughter.

"I don't know, I don't know!" she replied. "It broke when I tried to use the cappuccino machine! It wasn't my fault! And now it's all over me!"

"It's all right. Let's go home." Gaspacho turned and took one last look. "Young man, I was wrong about you! Thank you for saving my Maria!" After that, the two of them were gone.

I can't help but feel like I'm being led around. Once again people are attributing events to my lack of involvement...at least it was positive this time. I turned to Pirohiko, who was beaming with pride. Etranger looked distracted, like she was in another world and unaware of our presence.

Pirohiko walked up to me. "Great work out there!" he congratulated me with a slap on my shoulder.

"So now you owe him a drink," Etranger spoke up, finally.

Pirohiko backed off. "Yeah, I sure do..." He stuck his hands in his pockets. "...Can I borrow some money?"

Par for the course.
Tagged under: ZHP
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