Chapter 5: Punchbagikarp
As I landed on top of the skyscraper, Morpheus looked seriously at me.

“Now, Neo, is time for…”

“Wait,” I said, because there was a more important question burning on me. “Was that why you told me to jump out of the window? Because you were sure I would discover my wings and just… fly?”

“Yes. The rules of the Type Chart allow Flying types (and those who have Levitate) to fly, whatever they think they can do or not. Well, since you were no good at flying, you could just have slowed yourself down like you just did. Anyway, you would most likely have survived the fall.”

“Most likely?” I asked in this ridiculous squeaky voice that made me want to bang my head against one of those Ferraris down there. Wait a minute – Ferraris?

“Whoa!” I yelled as I looked down onto the street again. Every single car driving past was something really expensive and fast. Too bad they weren’t real. And I’d never be able to touch them, due to the state of my arms. Curse you, stupid scythes…

“Anyway,” Morpheus decided to continue what he was originally going to say, “it’s time for your training.”

“Training?” I questioned. “Won’t that take ages?”

“No,” Morpheus said with a grin. “Not with… Punchbagikarp.”

“Punchbagikarp?” I asked blankly.

“I programmed it,” Trinity said.

“What is it?” I asked irritated.

“It’s a level 255 Magikarp program,” Morpheus explained. “A level 255 Magikarp that knows Splash four times program, to be exact.”

“Magikarp,” I muttered, searching my brain for information on the word. “Oh, yeah… number 129 by National pokédex, evolves into Gyarados…”

“Yes, we know,” Trinity interrupted. “The point is: level 255 means some experience, even though it’s a Magikarp. And Splash four times means that unless the 160 attacks you have before it can use Struggle won’t do, you’ll beat it and get that experience.”

“Yeah,” I said, feeling confident enough.

“Only problem is, you’re level one,” she commented.

“It still can’t hurt me, can it?” I asked.

“Nope,” said Trinity. “That’s the thing about it: any loser at all can beat it.”

“Are you calling me a loser?” I asked, feeling slightly offended. Not as much as I would have if she weren’t this cute, though.

“Yes,” she said. “Is it bothering you?”

“No,” I said without meaning to say it. Trinity was with her mind tricks again.

“Anyway,” said Morpheus, “before we can recall you into the Punchbag ball, we need to pop out of the Zephyr balls we’re in right now. There’s nobody at the other end to send us out there, you see. So we have to pop out by ourselves. Of course me and Trinity know how to do it, but you need to learn.”

I nodded.

“Well, first you need to concentrate. Imagine that the whole of you is stuck in your eye.”

“Ouch,” I said. My imagination is too powerful for this sort of thing.

“Just imagine you’re all in one little spot, approximately the size of a golf ball,” he sighed. “Then just… burst out. Imagine that you were actually stuck inside a little golf ball and then break it by sort of inflating …”

“No thanks, I’m fat enough already,” came out of my mouth.

“TRINITY!!!!” I yelled. “STOP DOING THAT!”

“Sorry,” she giggled. She really got on my nerves. Actually, she had lost some of her physical attractiveness in my eyes over the last few minutes.

“Anyway,” said Morpheus, “ready?”

Now, this was a lot easier than flying. No need for a Google Search this time. Maybe because I hate golf and it was a pleasure imagining I was breaking golf balls. Really, I don’t get it. Why do people beat up balls that haven’t done anything to them? Same with all those other sports too. At least these trapped me inside them, so I did have a reason to break them.

Once back, Morpheus found a new ball for this. It had a picture of what I could identify as a Magikarp on it. He took two of those and pointed one at me. I felt myself being sucked into it as Morpheus pointed one at himself too. Trinity was apparently not coming with us to train using Punchbagikarp. Or maybe she was just managing the program.

I reformed on some kind of a small battle arena. The floor was brownish-orange, shining like it was newly polished; it still wasn’t slippery. The walls were columnar, brown and had an extremely smooth surface I could see my own reflection in, too.

But what instantly caught my attention about the room was that in the middle of the floor, there was a hole. Above it, in the ceiling (which was made out of the same stuff as the floor), there was another hole. The holes were around a foot in diameter, and some bright blue yet transparent substance flowed like water between the two holes – just upwards. And in the middle of the stream was a Magikarp, staring stupidly into the air. The power of the flow of that energy apparently canceled gravity out exactly, so the Magikarp was just floating there.

Well, my point is, this was stupidly dramatic for a simple training program, especially one called ‘Punchbagikarp’. I looked questioningly at Morpheus, who gazed at the dull-looking fish like the eighth wonder of the world.

“Impressive, isn’t it?” he asked me.

“Impressive… yeah,” I replied. “Way too impressive, if you want my opinion.”

“Shhh, don’t say that,” Morpheus whispered. “This is Trinity’s world, and she can make anything happen in it at all.”

He didn’t really have the need to say that last part; I already had an electric shock from the floor.

“At least – why does it have to hover in mid-air?” I asked quietly, hoping Trinity wouldn’t feel offended by that.

“Oh, you know – if it lay on the ground, it would be a bit hard for many pokémon to strike it,” Morpheus answered. “Plus the floor would be under constant attack, seeing as there would be Flamethrowers all over and stuff – much better to have it like that.”

I just nodded; I doubted it was wise to mention the floor or walls.

I walked slowly up to the energy flow. The flashing patterns formed by the stream weren’t likely to be seizure-inducing; the light was mild like it was fluorescent. I slowly reached forward with my right scythe and moved it carefully into the flow. It was pretty weird; it didn’t feel like anything more than normal air, and I certainly didn’t feel any power drawing my scythe upwards. I took it out again.

“What now?” I asked, turning around and looking at Morpheus.

“Attack it,” he simply said. “With Quick attack.”

Quick attack. For some reason, although I had never performed the attack before, I knew exactly how to do it. I walked a few steps back, my wings started buzzing and then I flew forward at top speed and tackled the Magikarp in mid-air. I went right through the energy flow, but the Magikarp, despite having been tackled hard enough to smash into the wall, was somehow left in the middle of the stream.

“Karp?” it said when it finally noticed it had been attacked. It helplessly splashed around a bit, but nothing happened at all. I was getting confident.

I did it again, harder this time. Oddly enough, it was fun to attack that little creature. The adrenaline got me into a natural euphoria as I enjoyed hurting the nonexistent fish as much as I could. I have no idea how long I went on; Morpheus just stood there by the wall looking pleased.

In the end, I was getting exhausted. The Magikarp didn’t appear very hurt at all, but taking the levels into consideration, that was no wonder.

“What can I do now?” I asked. “I don’t have the energy to use Quick attack again.”

“Leer,” he simply said. “It will also make the Magikarp more easily hurt, so you’ll benefit from it.”

Leer. I glared evilly at the Magikarp, which seemed frightened. I went on for a bit of time, but then Morpheus interrupted.

“That’s enough, Neo. It won’t get any weaker than this.”

Well, yeah, he was probably right. The Magikarp was at least shaking like a mouse in the claws of a cat, waiting to be eaten.

“Here,” Morpheus said as he threw a spray bottle to me. I somehow managed to grab it with my scythes without cutting a hole on it, and read from it.

“ELIXER.” I looked at Morpheus. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“Spray it on yourself,” he answered. “It will give you energy.”

Doubtfully, I sprayed a bit of it into my face, but the effects were incredible. It smelled extremely fresh and natural, like 100% pure ice-cold water, and was just so replenishing that I immediately sprayed it over the rest of my weary body. My stiff muscles loosened up instantly.

“Man, that was good,” I breathed as I stretched and put the bottle on the ground. “I’m ready for more!”

I used Quick attack again, and the Magikarp did seem a lot more hurt from that than before. Likewise, it was more enjoyable. It was weird to enjoy hurting somebody this much, but… well, enjoyable.

I did it again and again, and this time each time I attacked I noticed the Magikarp getting weaker. I needed the Elixer again and again, but the stupid thing just wouldn’t faint.

“Uh oh,” Morpheus said. “Magikarp’s run out of Power Points… NO, NEO! DON’T ATTACK IT!”

I learned what that meant the hard way, because when I was about to hit the Magikarp, it hit me back. It looked weak from the outside, but all I know was that I got the biggest blow in history and was smashed head-first into the wall. Then I lost consciousness.

“Ow… that… hurt…” I groaned when the room was fading back into focus. I saw Morpheus standing over me holding a spray similar to the Elixer, but it said REVIVE.

“You truly are the One, Neo,” he muttered.

“Why?” I asked, my body aching.

“You’re still alive.”

I fainted again.

For the second time when I regained consciousness, Morpheus explained to me that the total damage of the Magikarp’s Struggle had been 972 but my total HP had only been 12, meaning that 960 damage after I fainted should have killed me and the only possible reason why I survived must have been that I was the One. I wasn’t sure I believed him and I didn’t understand most of his mathematical explanations, but at least I was still living. Only problem was, I was clearly not in the state to keep battling.

“You have to go out of your ball and then go right in again,” Morpheus said. “I will use an Elixer on the Magikarp so it will be capable of using Splash again, then you should be fine. When you go out of your ball, it will stop aching, and it won’t start again once you’re back in.

I concentrated on the golf ball again and as I got back to… erm, wherever that was, anyway, my pain was gone.

“What a loser,” Trinity muttered, but I ignored it since she would just change my answer into ‘Yes, I’m a total loser’ or something. However, I had a hard time picking up the Punchbag ball. I managed to in the end by picking it up in my mouth. Stupid, stupid scythes.

Once back into Punchbagikarp, I immediately started attacking the Magikarp for revenge. Morpheus already ‘refreshed’ it with the Elixer and now it could only use Splash again. I only needed a few Elixers before I dealt it the final blow, the stupid-looking fish eyes went blank and it stopped moving at all. I felt my power greatly increase; the phrase ‘Focus energy’ got a special meaning and overall I simply felt much stronger.

“Great;” said Morpheus and used a spray called MAX REVIVE on the Magikarp. “One more experience point would get you to level nine now, but that can’t be helped. After beating the Magikarp once again, you’ll be level 11. Then 12, then 14…”

But I was already charging for an attack. I instantly felt how each individual strike was much more powerful than before.

“Neo!” Morpheus called. “Use Leer and Focus energy, it will help you beat it faster!”

I stopped and glared at the Magikarp to intimidate it like before. After I felt the Magikarp was getting nervous enough, I stopped it and thought ‘Focus energy’. It instantly rang a bell. I concentrated hard to focus my power. For some reason that caused me to shiver, but I felt a lot more powerful afterwards. Time to beat the Punchbag better…

I certainly hit harder and better after this. It took nowhere near as long to beat the Magikarp this time. We went on and on for hours, and I loved every moment.

“Level eighteen!” Morpheus finally announced. “Now you know False swipe.”

False swipe. Yup, sounded familiar, in the same way as the other attacks. I walked up to the energy flow and raised my scythe, but something held me back.

“Can it… like, feel pain?”

“Yes,” Morpheus answered. I suddenly felt like a murderer.

“But…” I hesitated. “Why?”

“Because you will be facing things that can feel pain, you can’t be held back by the thought that you’re causing pain once you’re put up against an 00ber. You have to get used to it.”

“It’s not… real, is it? I mean, it isn’t a real pokémon you put here to…”

“Of course not!” said Morpheus offended. “What do you think we are? Of course it’s a program. It’s just one that can feel pain.”

Just to be sure, I pushed my shades down. It was still a Magikarp, while Morpheus now appeared in human form. I pushed them back in their proper place and swallowed hard, but I still couldn’t get myself to do it.

“False swipe it, you idiot!” Morpheus hissed.

I was just too afraid that the False swipe wouldn’t be false at all, but I apparently just underestimated my precision, because I accurately swung my scythe at the exact right angle. My confidence returned and (since I was counting), I did it thirty-seven times. The Magikarp was on the edge of fainting.

“False swipe can never beat the opponent, Neo, so you need to use Quick attack for that,” Morpheus commented. I nodded and moved a few steps backwards to get the proper charge for a Quick attack.

Just as I flew forward, however, the Magikarp started glowing bright white. It somehow grew at incredible speed and managed to inflate into a giant sea monster I recognized as a Gyarados.

“HOLY MOLY!” I yelled when I called up its stats into my brain, but I couldn’t stop myself. The Gyarados was charging up a Hyper beam in its mouth…

“Neo, don’t slow down!” Morpheus shouted. “If you strike first…”

But I already struck.

The Gyarados roared terribly as I hit it. I hurried back to Morpheus so it wouldn’t fall on top of me, because it certainly was falling. It collapsed with a lot of noise, and lay there.

Very carefully, I walked forward and touched it. At that very moment, I gained more experience than ever before. Actually, I think I almost had an overdose of power. At least, I got a bit dizzy and had to lay down for a while.

“Congratulations,” Morpheus just said. “You’re level 24 now, if my calculations are correct.”


“Sorry,” came an overwhelming voice out of thin air that echoed around the walls. “I just made it grow a level… eh, it was an accident…”

She snickered a bit.

“But this,” said Morpheus and patted my back, “is definitely the proof that you are indeed the One.”

I just rolled my eyes.