Attempting Ultimate Bullseye
"He obviously didn't like that joke."
"Well, what did you expect? You told a joke about OLIVES."
"Eating olives can be funny, Kal. He'll like it one of these days."
As the Uni rolled his eyes, I popped a sniddberry in my mouth from our round of Pick Your Own. "So where to now?"
Kalstrade's fuzzy nose was drifting over to my berry-filled hand, obviously intending to snatch up one of my prizes, when his brown ears perked up. "There's some music up ahead. Lots of trumpets and flutes. I wonder what... wait a second!"
I looked over, and Kalstrade neighed excitedly. "I know what we're doing now!"
"It's a great target-shooting game!"
"Targets? I don't know, Kal, I'm not good with aiming-"
"Oh, it's fine. If you just position the arrow right-"
"Well, what did you think the ballista launches, doughnutfruit? That would be a terrible game." He paused for a second. "Actually, it might be pretty-"
"BALLISTA? No. No, we are not doing this. I'm gonna hurt myself, or someone around me, or hit the castle!"
"Trust me," the Uni interrupted, "you are not that good of a shot. Let's just do it. It will be fun! We can get some neopoints!"
I sighed as Kalstrade galloped ahead of me. By the time I caught up with him, he was speaking to a Turtum and a Buzzer next to a gigantic wooden thing. Fortunately, Kal was right. From here, there was no way I could hit the castle. The three of them looked up as I approached.
"Ten shots, three extra if you hit a bullseye on the last shot," the Turtum said in a bored voice. "You get a powerup if you hit a bullseye. Balloons multiply your score if you hit one and then the target, and if Bob shows up, hit the apple on his head for double points. Crank the lever to raise or lower the ballista, hold down this switch for power, release when you're ready. Any questions?"
"Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get a slushie." The Turtum waddled away, mumbling about Tangy Tropic flavor, and Kalstrade nudged me up to the terrifying-looking contraption.
I was definitely going to regret this.
"C'mon! You've gotta crank it higher than that! It's just hitting the grass!"
"Ugh!" I flopped onto the ground, my arms achy. "If it's so easy, why don't you do it?"
"I guided us through that awful Geraptiku tomb last weekend, remember? There were arrows there too, and this is nothing compared to that!"
I shook my head. "I can't do it."
The Buzzer, as always, patiently put up another target for my third restart. Kalstrade nodded at him, and then looked sternly down at me lying on my back in the grass.
"Listen," he huffed. "Aim higher than the target, and shoot with less power. If you try for a straight shot, it's a lot harder. You don't want to blast the arrow at high power and have it miss completely!"
I was staring lazily up at the blue Meridell sky as he spoke, and suddenly his big brown face was blocking my view. "Use the powerups strategically, too. It's best to save certain ones for the last shot, in case you can get another three out of it."
"Great, Kal. Good advice." I gestured in the general direction of the ballista. "You do it."
"I have hooves. I can't. Get back up and let's do this." His breath smelled like berries. He did steal some, after all.
I grumbled the whole way across the lawn, and tried to remember his advice. Otherwise, I'd never hear the end of it. I judged the distance as best I could, aimed higher than I thought I needed to, and fired. To my delight, it hit the target!
"Three points," the Buzzer called.
"That's better. Now try for points that will actually get us a high score," Kalstrade said, happily munching a loveberry in the grass.
"Hey! That's mine. All you dug up was dirt."
"Consider it my reward for putting up with your awful jokes."
"Olives are funny!"
I shot two more times, with a three-point and five-point hit. I'd never admit it to my Uni, but I was actually starting to enjoy this.
Just as I was getting ready to fire again, a red balloon floated down, hovering in front of the target.
"Ooh! Hit the balloon and then the target and we'll get a lot of points!"
Kalstrade hefted himself to his feet and trotted over to me. "You want to hit the balloon," he instructed slowly, "and then- with that same arrow that went through the balloon- hit the target."
"Okay. Sheesh. I got it." I cleared my throat nervously and aimed up a bit. Kal walked off and snorted. "If Quenrade were here, he wouldn't be nearly so patient as I am. I think I deserve another berry for this."
I guessed that with the balloon situation, I'd need more power than normal, so I cranked up the pressure. When I let go, I squeezed my eyes shut.
There was a thud, and the Buzzer called, "Thirty three points!"
"Wahoo!" Kal was so excited his wings carried him a few feet off the ground before he settled again. "You may actually want to post this score!"
"Yeah. I only have forty four points, though, and six shots left."
As I looked up, the Buzzer wasn't moving the target backward or forward as usual, but upward.
"Hey, where's he taking the target?"
Before Kal could answer, a ragged Punchbag Bob with an apple on his head plopped down where the target had been. "Twenty points if you hit the apple," the Buzzer called.
I had to take a minute to think of how to align the ballista, and fired high so that the arrow dropped down and sunk into the apple from up top.
"Twenty points!" the petpet called.
I missed the target on the next turn, hit for a measly 1 point, and then hit a bullseye. I was now up to seventy seven points.
I didn't have a whole lot of points, but it was better than nothing. The Buzzer started to shift the second-to-last target back, and Kalstrade nudged me with his soft nose.
"Say 'catapult,'" Kal whispered.
"Say 'catapult.' You'll get an extra powerup!"
I looked over at the stone wall with pictures of various powerups to the right of the contraption. There was a '1' next to a picture with fire on it. I supposed that was the powerup I got.
"Umm... catapult," I said.
The number next to the blue-looking target became a one.
"Now use the fire one on this shot, and the blue one on the next."
I did as I was told, and the Buzzer, with a sigh, carefully placed a hoop on the ground and lit it on fire. His job was a lot more dangerous than I'd first given him credit for.
I had to hit my arrow through the hoop and hit the target, and I'd get double the points.
I hit a three, so it became a six. Eighty three points total.
As the Buzzer exchanged the usual red target for my final shot, a blue target, Kal was over my shoulder again. "Now this powerup reverses the points for the target. You'll want to hit the BOARD this time, NOT the target. It will count as a bullseye."
It sounded difficult at first, but this shot was actually a lot easier, and I hit the board.
"Bullseye," the Buzzer said. "You now have three more shots."
Kalstrade whinnied at me. "Wow! You're good at missing! Maybe we can do it!"
"We?" I said sarcastically. "Yeah, it's been real tough for you lying around eating while you watch me play."
"Geraptiku," Kal replied smartly. I stopped arguing.
The Turtum was waddling back, contentedly slurping a huge, delicious-looking Lime Time Slushie.
"I thought you were gonna get Tangy Tropic one," I said enviously, staring at the cup with wide eyes.
"I did. How's the game going?"
"Almost done," the Buzzer said.
I managed to tear my gaze away from the Lime Time, and two shots later, I'd shot a five and a one, and was up to one hundred and five points.
"Last shot," the Buzzer called.
I aimed high, took a deep breath, and hit the final target for another five.
"One hundred and ten points! Game over!"
I turned my head, and Kalstrade was dancing on the lawn. His tongue was pink from the berries, and his blue eyes were sparkling with delight.
"Neopoints!" he said.
The Turtum walked up and handed me my coins, still slurping his drink. "Thanks for playing."
As we walked off, the sun was setting. My arms were tired, but I felt pretty pleased with our game.
"Look at all the neopoints we got!" I showed my Uni the impressive pile. "What do you want to spend it on?"
Kalstrade looked up at the sky thoughtfully. "I'd say we should deposit it in the Neopian Bank for later, but..."
He glanced at me. "I kind of want a slushie."