Deep in the bowels of Kreludor incessant chattering permeated the air, radiating from a small nondescript building. Within said buildings walls was a cozy meeting room, plush seats lining the long ovular table, a small portable heater cranked up to a cozy medium despite the absence of any cold. The chatter came from a gathering of Grundos, each seated in one of the aforementioned chairs. Most of their shared words were nothing but small talk about the not-weather, while a few discussed the latest jet pack upgrade.
All voices ceased when a looming figure entered the room, door slamming shut behind them. With a flourish of his dark cape, Dr. Sloth strode to the front of the room with a grace afforded by the grandiosity of his evil. Or so he chose to perpetuate.
“I’m sure the lot of you wonder why I’ve asked to meet with you,” he drawled, booming voice reverberating off the walls. One of the Grundos whimpered. “I’m aware of a game the lot of you play, one in which you slingshot rocks with the hope of taking down my spaceship.”
All of the Grundos began shuffling nervously- they were well aware of the game, but it was all meant in good fun, certainly not as an insult to the hulking figure at the front of the room. One of them dared to pipe up.
“It-it is just a game, your evilness. No disrespect meant to you or your property. We don’t even always use rocks, sometimes we use Neocola cans or just spare parts we find laying around,” he assured, as though said knowledge would assuage the situation.
“Yes, yes, that is hardly my point. I’ve not come to chastise the lot of you, though I can’t deny the pleasure derived from doing so. Rather, I have come to you all with a proposition of sorts,” he finished, a malevolent twinkle in his eye accompanied by a flash of sharp canines. He continued.
“You see, many neopians enjoy this little game of yours, and I thought that perhaps I could use its popularity to my advantage. I would like for someone to quickly explain to me the logistics of the game,” he demanded, scanning the room for any raised hands. He quickly pointed to one of the few without their hand raised.
“M-me?” the poor creature mumbled. When he was met with the stone cold stare of the villain he swallowed and stammered, “W-well, it’s uh- it’s rather simple. We’ll use a rock or a can or something and we fire it with a slingshot. It has the potential to bounce off of meteors to help it on its way, but sometimes it’ll land in a crater or on a steam vent. If all of the ammo is destroyed then it’s game over.”
Dr. Sloth looked pensive, tapping his chin with a pointed finger. He ran his hand over his onion root resembling hair and flashed one of his signature smiles. “So what you’re telling me is that if the ammo lands in a crater or passes through a steam vent, it will be destroyed?”
“Or if it hits a bad meteor or gets stuck between pipes!” a Grundo at the back of the room piped up. Dr. Sloth’s smile only widened to unsettling proportions.
“Yes, of course. Now someone tell me, how likely is it for one of these fates to befall the slingshotted object?” The Grundos all cast glances to one another, a few shrugging their shoulders and murmuring.
“We aren’t exactly sure, but I think that we all agree that it’s more likely for the object to hit boons that speed it up on its way. Though admittedly these can also be bad, as they will occasionally give too great of a boost and send the object flying straight over the ship,” the creature stated matter-of-factly, pushing his glasses up despite his lack of a supporting nose bridge.
“I see. Well, that right there is our first problem. We need to increase the likelihood of the ammo’s destruction and increase the amount of boons near the ship to ensure an overshot provided the ammo makes it that far,” the villain stated, pacing with his hands clasped behind his back. He stopped before a chalkboard, taking the chalk and quickly scribbling some notes. He then turned back to the crowd of Grundos. “How can we accomplish this? You, Brainiac,” he called, pointing to the glasses wearing Grundo.
“Um, well, sir. To make it more likely for the ammo to be destroyed I think that we should directly incorporate a logarithm into the ammo that will either cause it to draw near to steam vents as it approaches the ground or even one that will cause steam vents to appear as it approaches. We could even have a timing element in there to ensure that the vent sprays steam in the instant that the ammo flies over to make sure it does not escape.”
“So then, like, a steam vent magnet,” the doctor muttered.
“…Yes, sir, a magnet.”
“Very good, that sounds promising. But I think I should like to amp up the evil, make it even more nefarious if possible. Any further suggestions?” he inquired, looking around expectantly. The Grundo who had been cold called before shyly raised his hand and was quickly given a nod by the villain.
“To expound on what Brent was just saying, perhaps we could tweak the logarithm a bit. Have it be set to where the higher their score is, the more likely they are to lose their ammo to a vent or other disaster. I believe that would cause extreme frustration.”
“You bunch aren’t as stupid as I believed you to be,” the villain proclaimed, the back handed compliment causing a few scowls. “I think that that sounds deliciously evil, to have them trying over and over again, having hopes even higher than their scores only to have them disintegrate like the ammo. Brilliant! What else? This is golden,” he stated approvingly, patting a nearby Grundo on the head who quickly shied away.
One of the Grundos who’d not yet spoken quietly piped up.
“I think it would be especially evil if we tweak the logarithm even further, to have it where it’s possible to win only if their score is not high enough for the avatar the game awards. If hitting the last ship would be enough for them to receive the avatar, then the code will call on a vent or meteor to appear right before the ship, making it impossible for them to evade seeing as a boost at that point would guarantee an overshot,” he concluded, looking quite pleased with himself.
There was a heavy silence in the room, the pure, unbridled evil of the suggestion stifling. None dared to disturb the dark miasma that had settled. Dr. Sloth slowly strode over to the Grundo who’d spoken, the soles of his shoes clacking on the linoleum. The Grundo averted his eyes, trembling when the dark shadow of the villain fell over him.
“You,” he grinned. “You should be working for me.” He turned to the side, addressing the group as a whole. “How long should I expect this logarithm to take to develop?”
“We can have it done by tonight, sir,” Brent piped up. A deep chuckle danced off the walls.
“Then let the games begin.”