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Let the Dice Fly High

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"Hand over the pizzas nice and easy, and no one will get hurt."

"Um," said Ambrosius.

"Ha!" said Nimona. "I lied! I lured you to my lair and now I will kill you! And then I will reward myself with delicious pizza. Yessss."

"Ballister invited me over for game night?"

"Do you have the new Killer Bunny?"

"I ... don't know what that is. He just told me to bring pizza. I suppose they don't deliver to lairs of evil?"

"Wait here."

 

Ballister sighed. "She keeps wanting to play video games."

"I think that every citizen has the right to have pizza delivered to their door, whether they're mad, evil scientists or not. Your money is as good as anyone else's," said Ambrosius. "You should file a complaint."

"Most board games just aren't as much fun with only two people, but still."

"In fact, I'm surprised you haven't blown up their building, or put them out of business or something equally heinous. You're a super villain, after all - people should expect that sort of thing when they disrespect you."

"Video games will just ruin her eyes and mind. I want her to go out and experience the world and have fun."

"Not that I approve of that sort of thing, of course. I take acts of criminal destruction very seriously."

"Um," said Ballister. "What are you talking about? Is this still about that bank robbery?"

Ambrosius frowned. "I was just thinking: can't you make your own pizzas? You're a genius, after all."

Ballister frowned back. "Science is for serious things."

"Like making things go boom! and whoosh!, and killing lots and lots of screaming people," said Nimona. "Hey, if there's no more pizza, can we get this over with? I don't have all night, you know."

 

"Z-Y-G-O-D-A-C-T-Y-L. Zygodactyl. It's a word. You can look it up in the dictionary."

"I don't know, boss. Sounds a little hinky to me."

"I agree," said Ambrosius, rising. "We'll look it up, shall we? Where is your dictionary?"

"Ah," said Ballister. "Right. I forgot."

"I burnt it last game night. Also during Scramble. Now that I think about it, didn't I burn the board, too?"

"I bought a new one. Well, it's second-hand, but it looks as good as new."

"Hm," said Ambrosius. "Okay. I suppose we'll just have to let it slide, then."

"Ha! My turn! And look!Triple word value!"

"Nimona, I'm pretty sure Xhurplgfsik isn't a real word."

"It totally is! You can look it up in the dictionary! Wink-wink-nudge-nudge."

 

"This is a very nice game," said Ballister. "You collect various resources and then trade them with other players in order to build and produce things. For example, I use two bricks and a pile of wood to build a village right here. Now every time someone rolls an eight, I get grain."

Nimona siiighed. "It's all just paper. And the drawings aren't even that good."

"You simply have to use your imagination."

Nimona turned into a lizard and hissed at him.

"Now, Ambrosius, I see you have a lot of grain already, but no ore. So I offer to trade you one ore in exchange for two grain. Do you accept?"

Nimona shifted back. "Boss, no! You should really put the squeeze on him! Five for one, or no deal!"

"I'll take two for one."

"Thank you. Now, Nimona, would you like to trade one of your bricks for a pile of wood? That way, you'd have enough resources to build a village next turn."

"Alas, your woodcutters run into a fearsome dragon who burns down all the trees and their village, too! Disaster! Fire everywhere! Screams! Death and destruction!"

"Very well, then you won't get any wood, either."

"I'm a dragon! I don't need wood! Rawr!"

 

"The Game of Life?"

"How about the Game of Death? Do you have the Game of Death? The one who makes the other players die most gruesomely wins!"

"I'm fairly sure that game doesn't even exist."

"Well, we could invent it. And then the two of us could team up. Joint victory! So how do you think we should kill him? Burn him, freeze him, chop him into itty-bitty bits? I'm game for anything!"

"Anything except playing a simple board game while adhering to the rules, it seems. How about this one? The Turbines of Atlantis? You build a race-ship and look for treasures in a sunken city."

"Sounds science-y."

"Crazy Cabbages?"

"Sounds boring."

"Well, you pick something then. There's plenty of choice."

"I don't like him."

"Him? Oh. Ambrosius. Well, I don't always like him either, but we grew up together and he used to be my best friend. That's not something you can just put behind you, you know."

"How would I know? I didn't have any friends at all when I grew up."

"I'm sorry."

"Hey. Not your fault, right? Just ... if I'd grown up with someone and they betrayed me, then, best friend or not, I'd turn into a mammoth and step on them. Splat!"

"Ambrosius didn't betray me. (Well, maybe a little.)"

"Only I guess you can't, because you're not me, so then I would build a death laser. Zap!"

"There's no such thing as a death laser. You mean a death ray."

"Laser, ray, whatever."

"A ray and a laser are two completely different things. They're not the same at all. Haven't you been paying attention to a word I've been saying?"

"Aww, boss! I try really hard, but sometimes you just get so science-y, and I - I'm not science-y. Does that make you not like me anymore?"

"Of course not. What a ridiculous idea."

"Well, then what's the big deal? Laser, ray - it's all science to me."

Ballister smiled and shook his head. "Have you selected a game yet? It's not that I don't trust Ambrosius, but I'd rather not leave him by himself for too long."

"You're right. Maybe he'll go exploring and fall into one of the lethal traps you've set up all around the castle. And we'd be all like, whoops, it was an accident, you can't blame us, we're innocent. Except that on the inside, we'd be laughing."

"There aren't any traps, lethal or otherwise. Why would I set up traps in my own home? That's silly, not to mention unsafe."

"Aww."

 

Ambrosius hesitated in the doorway. "Ballister ... "

"Yes?"

Ambrosius hesitated some more. "That girl ... "

"Her name is Nimona."

"She's a bad influence on you. She has no morals, no conscience. She's violent. If you want someone to keep you company, why not pick someone more suitable?"

"I like Nimona. At least I know she won't leave me because you offer her more money."

Ambrosius winced. "All right, so that was a mistake. But, Ballister - "

"No." Ballister raised his hand. "I've made up my mind. There's no point trying to convince me otherwise. We're not that close anymore, Ambrosius."

"I - you're right. We're not that close anymore. We're on different sides now. Enemies."

"Well, I wouldn't go that far, maybe."

"I would," Nimona said, hanging out of the window. "You're lucky it was game night! We'll get you next time, Goldenloin! And then, expect no mercy! Woooh!"

Ambrosius sighed. "Well. I guess I'll see you around."

"Have a safe trip home."

"Yes! We wouldn't want anything to happen to you before we do, right, boss?"