Don't Be a Punchbag
“You’re just a little purple Grundo,” the recruiting officer barked. “Your puny arms probably couldn’t even hold up an Attack Pea and you want to enlist in the Meridell Army?”
Mongo felt dejected but stood his ground. This was his fifteenth visit to the Meridell recruiting office in a week and he knew the routine. The large Lupe Sergeant was being gruff, but at least she was talking to him now; he had spent the first three days just sitting on the benches being ignored.
“Fine, fine, I’m tired of you blocking my office door every day. Go out back and pick a fight with Punchbag Bob. You win and I’ll sign you up. Let me see your weapons... SNOWBALLS!!!!! You can’t beat Punchbag with... never mind. Just go do your best, kid, and don’t come back until you’ve won.”
Mongo made a goofy smile and an even goofier salute and shouted, “Yes, sir.” Mongo ducked just in time to dodge the clipboard full of paperwork that the Lupe threw at him.
“I’m a ma’am, YOU LITTLE NEWB, GET OUT! And don’t come back until you have a Punchbag Bob trophy!” It sounded like a chair hit the door behind Mongo as he fled toward the training yard but he didn’t stop to check.
The training yard was just down the road from the recruiting center and next to the Meridell Army Barracks on the north wing of Meridell Castle. There were several other recruits and hopefuls taking their turn training with Punchbag Bob so Mongo checked in with the training officer and got in line. When it was finally his turn, he launched his attack. Two snowballs sailed through the air and hit Bob square in the nose, then two more direct hits, followed by one suspiciously yellow snowball that hit Punchbag in the eye. Punchbag creaked a little bit in the wind and the sun quickly melted away the last bit of ice, leaving Punchbag none the worse for wear.
The training officer shouted from behind the safety line: “Keep going, kid, we don’t have all day.”
Mongo turned around, a little embarrassed. He had just used all of his snowballs and was out of weapons. “I don’t have anything else to fight with.”
“Then you’re done, newb. Back of the line, Mango.” The officer gave him the reject thumb as he checked his roster. “Frontal the Kacheek! You’re next in line; get up there.”
Mongo was barely out the front gate when Frontal caught up with him; he had already finished beating Punchbag Bob and had a shiny new trophy in his hands. He flashed Mongo one of those famous Kacheek smiles and said, “You should check out Battle Chat Alley; you can really get some good advice there and they’ll help replace those snowballs with something that won’t disappear. Come on, I have stuff to do, but I can show you the way.”
Eventually Frontal disappeared into the crowd and Mongo soon found himself inside the busy carnival that was Battle Chat Alley. Shops and booths lined both sides of the street and pets of all shapes and sizes were shopping, chatting, and generally having a good time. There were some pets younger than him, plenty of new Meridell Recruits who were still wearing their slightly over-sized uniforms, some sword-wielding members of the Royal Guard and the biggest Halloween Nimmo that Mongo had ever seen. Mongo was glad that the Nimmo seemed wholly distracted by the day’s Food Club bets and didn't notice Mongo staring. Mongo was especially taken aback by the dejected looking pets sitting in corners holding signs like “MSSP or SuAP please”. He figured they were hungry and just wanted some soup but the scariest looking pet was a Scorchio holding a “Let me steal your intelligence” sign; Mongo quickly darted past him and found himself in a park full of benches. Just a little way from the hustle and bustle of the crowd was a group of old Battledome veterans playing Kacheekers. One of them noticed Mongo and waved him over:
“Hey boys, it looks like we have a new guy that needs some advice.” This seemed to be what they were all waiting for and they immediately turned their attention to Mongo to see what he needed, well all except one Draik that Mongo noticed was rearranging pieces while his opponent was distracted. Mongo retold them about his disastrous fight with Punchbag Bob and how his snowballs had disappeared after he used them.
“What you need are some sparkshooters,” said the Pteri that had waved Mongo over.
“Yes. Yes! Sparkshooters! That’s what you need,” the group agreed.
“They never melt, them sparkshooters do,” chimed in a friendly looking Elephante.
Mongo remembered seeing a shop selling sparkshooters further back in the alley. He thanked the grizzled vets for their advice and headed off to pick up his new weapons. He remembered the sparkshooter seller because of the peculiar looking green Uni that kept yelling “SQUAWK” every time somebody walked past. Mongo quickly purchased two shiny new sparkshooters and headed back for another go at Punchbag Bob.
“Ahh... Mango, back for more, eh?”
“It’s Mongo,” Mongo said stoically, “and I have better weapons this time.”
The training officer looked confused for a second but quickly recovered. “Sure thing... Smongo, get in there. The crowds are gone so Punchbag is yours for the rest of the night.”
And it did take the rest of the night; in fact, it was near dinner time when the training officer finally came back and was shocked to see Mongo still battling. Punchbag was a little beat up, but Mongo was probably only half way to winning.
“Are you still at it, Smongo?”
“Are you using both weapons every time?”
Mongo nodded again.
“Are you being fierce every time? Being fierce with your two weapons really helps.”
Mongo passed out.
The officer helped Mongo to his feet. “Why don’t you take a little break? Hey, I need to file some paperwork with the Status Paige at the castle, little Moehog fella wearing read and blue, you can’t miss him. Why don’t you run this over to him and you can pick up with Bob when you come back.”
Mongo was getting a little bored after hours of fighting and this seemed like a good idea so he set off towards the castle to find the Status Paige. He was barely out the gate of the training grounds when he collided with Frontal the Kacheek, who was stopping to pick up a codestone from the ground.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” Frontal asked as he picked himself up from the ground.
“I’m running a special errand for the Status Paige at the castle, very important.”
Frontal applied his palm directly to the forehead as he realized Mongo had fallen for the old Status Paige trick. “You never go to the Status Paige, NEVER! That’s the third rule of Punch Club.”
“What’s Punch Club?” asked Mongo as he picked up his sparkshooters that he dropped them during the collision. Frontal snatched the sparkshooters away from Mongo and pointed back towards the training grounds. Mongo looked back towards Punchbag Bob and instead of seeing a half beaten Punchbag, there was a shiny new Punchbag Bob that was fresh and ready for a new fight.
“If you leave the arena during a fight, you have to start over; what were you thinking? And why do you have dual sparkshooters? You’ve never been to the Mystery Island Training School, eh? Go home and meet me back here tomorrow morning... we have chores to do; weapons and training.”
“But I don’t have any more neopoints,” said Mongo sheepishly. “I spent it all on the sparkshooters.”
“Not a problem; meet me in front of the Fashion Fever store tomorrow and we’ll take care of that too.”
After a few hours of folding clothes and stocking shelves at Fashion Fever, Mongo and Frontal were headed out the door 900 neopoints richer. Frontal showed Mongo where to find the Shop Wizard (a shady little JubJub who knew the best deals in town) and Mongo had two new Unstable Slimes.
“I know they’re not the coolest looking weapons,” said Frontal as he cautiously packed away the new weapons. “But they’re really good and never run out like snowballs. Just don’t shake them too much or something bad will happen.”
Frontal showed Mongo how to sneak onto the Mystery Island Ferry Boat and they were soon in front of the Training School. Frontal paid their way with the codestone he found on the ground earlier and they sat down to listen to the wisdom of the Techo Master:
“Against overwhelming odds, you will lose!”
Mongo didn’t think that was very helpful, but he appreciated any help he could get and left the Training School that night feeling a little stronger, and more importantly, he left with a plan. He would keep saving the neopoints he got every day from Fashion Fever and buy codestones so he could train his strength and endurance at Mystery Island. Equipped with his trusty and surprisingly powerful Unstable Slime, Mongo eventually defeated Punchbag Bob (in a timely manner), got his new trophy, and joined the Meridell Army. He would go on to serve Neopia well during the Battles of Meridell, but that is a story for another time...
Mongo’s Notes for Beating Punchbag Bob:
- Don’t use one-use weapons (like snowballs).
- Don’t think a weapon is good just because it was recommended; test it yourself.
- Unstable Slime is cheap and good (but test it yourself to make sure).
- Always buy your weapons from the Shop Wizard so you don’t overpay.
- Find a way to make neopoints; even a simple game of Fashion Fever will help.
- Train with codestones; a higher strength will make the fight go faster.
- Use two weapons and fierce attack or berserk attack every time.
- Never NEVER go to the Status Page during a battle unless you want to quit the fight.