Almighty Z explained her plan.
“That might actually work,” Jake said, apparently impressed.
“What did you expect?” she asked. He shrugged. Z decided to dismiss this. “ZIP, send out an announcement to all ZORG that says-”
“-wait, let me activate my word processor,” ZIP said. A flashing cursor appeared on his belly. “Okay, go.”
“Attention all drones!” The words appeared on ZIP’s screen as soon as she said them. “There appears to be a glitch in some software causing drones’ internal cooling systems to malfunction, resulting in fatal overheating. Therefore, an immediate and mandatory drone inspection and software update has been put into effect. This is top priority. Repeat. Top priority. Please terminate all current and queued orders and report to your designated programming room immediately. Repeat. Terminate all current and queued orders and report to your designated programming room immediately. Thank you.”
“Is that all, Almighty Z?” ZIP asked, the full message displayed on his screen.
“Yep. Send it out and go oversee the inspections. Make sure no rogue drone is left behind. Also, don’t let any rogue drones actually do the updates. And keep them separate from the good ones. And triple check the previously hijacked drones for signs they aren’t allied with us. And seal off the planet. Red alert. If Creep is still on the planet, sent good drones to incarcerate him in his old cell. And he has to think he’s alone down here- no tangible or visible drones allowed. And give Jake your gun in case we need it. And make it all as quick as possible. Got it?”
ZIP saluted and handed over his weapon. He displayed the map with all the drones marked, and as soon as Z and Jake’s path was clear he carried them over the chasm and deposited them safely on the other side with a list of all the changed passcodes they may need. Then, he disappeared, leaving them to their own devices.
“Lead the way,” Jake said, gesturing with his gun.
Z put her hands up and said, “Don’t point that thing at me! I’ll have you fired!”
Jake aimed the gun at the ceiling. “No, you won’t,” he said, as Z punched some numbers in a keypad.
“That doesn’t give you permission to shoot me,” Z said, pushing open the door leading out of the chasm room and heading up the staircase.
Jake followed. “Good thing I’m not going to shoot you, then.”
“Glad to hear it.”
They made their way up and up the tightly wound spiral stairs before walking back through the first hall of dungeons, out the door, and into the hallway, which was blindingly bright in comparison to the dim glow in the dungeons. They stood and blinked in the light for a few seconds while their eyes adjusted before Z took off running down the hall. “Home, sweet home,” she said, a smile spreading over her face. “Good timing, too, I’m starving.”
“Yeah,” Jake chimed in. “After we do whatever we’re going to do in Command Central, can we eat?”
“Sure,” Z laughed. “Have I not told you why we’re going to Command Central?”
“If you did, I forgot,” said Jake.
She shrugged. “Remember those drones stuck in the Tealian weapons facility place?” Jake nodded. “We’re going to use their self destruct to blow them and the building up. It shouldn’t have been affected by the freeze command they’re under.”
He smiled. “You’re really into torching your own robots today, aren’t you?”
“It’s a war,” the Queen said, turning a corner sharply and disappearing behind a sliding panel in the wall. Jake followed, closing the wall behind him. “Blowing stuff up is half the fun.”
They charged through the winding secret passageways until Z stopped abruptly and opened up another wall panel, stepping out onto a staircase. “Don’t move,” she told Jake, jumping on some stairs in a specific pattern so a different part of the wall moved, revealing a fireman pole and a hole in the ground. “Okay, come on,” she called. “Follow me down the pole and close the wall before you come down.” She spun down the pole, spiraling her way gracefully to the ground and stepping out of the way for Jake, who landed at top speed, bending his knees to absorb the impact.
The round, grey room was gleaming, as always. Countertops white and perfectly spotless, all circling around ZED, in his center position. The familiarity nearly brought tears to Z’s eyes as she booted up the computer and directed Jake to the Drone Control holographic display.
“Authorizing access,” Z said, tapping in passwords off the sheet ZIP had given her.
“Identifying targets,” Jake said. “Got them all. Engaging self destruct.”
“Authorized. Thirty second countdown.” They watched the numbers on the screen silently click down to zero.
“Detonation,” Jake reported.
Z walked to the scouting display and pulled up galactic satellite feed of the Tealian’s planet. She showed the building going up in flames on the main viewscreen. According to the data the satellite provided, there would be no salvaging anything in that building.
“Mission accomplished,” she said, a grin spreading over her face. “That’ll be great in the headlines.”
“Cool,” Jake said. “Now let’s eat.”