When they got to the dining hall, where there were tall, floor to ceiling windows every few feet on two sides of the room, they figured out it was eleven o'clock in the morning. There weren’t any drones cooking in the kitchen because they were all still being reprogrammed, but there were leftovers from breakfast that morning.
“Mmm, reheated cinnamon rolls,” Jake said, taking a bite of his third. “Yum.”
“Yuck,” Z said, taking a bite of her sweet cereal. The cinnamon rolls were only good fresh. After that, they dried up. “You may as well eat clumps of sand.”
“They taste good, though,” he said.
“Yeah, well, anything would taste good after that ordeal. How long were we down there, anyway?” she asked. Jake shrugged. Z couldn’t tell, either. Sitting down and being still, she realized that excluding the few hours in the cell, she hadn’t slept since before the last attack, which explained the waves of fatigue that washed over her. That seemed like it was years ago. Thinking about it, she yawned.
“Tired?” Jake asked. She nodded, wiping tears that had surfaced in her yawn out from under her eyes. “Me too,” he said. They both looked the part too. Dark circles under their eyes, tousled hair, wrinkled clothes.
“I don’t want to sleep, though,’ Z said, taking a sip of the bitter coffee she’d made for them. “I can’t, not until the drones are done and I know Creep isn’t around.” She had to know that her castle and everyone in it was safe.
Jake nodded, understanding. “ZIP should be back when they’re done,” he said. He looked at his watch. “It’s been nearly an hour, it shouldn’t take too much longer, should it?”
“No, it usually takes longer, but with such a small amount of drones...could be any minute now,” she said. She thought for a silent moment before saying, “I hope they find Creep, but I also don’t.”
Jake looked at her questioningly. “Well, which would be better?”
“Well,” Z said, putting down her spoon and resting her chin in her hand. “If they find him I’ll know that he’s cut off from the rest of the Alliance, so they’ll have less information. And I’ll be able to kill him, which will be nice after all that torture he put us through. But if he’s not, then there’s a possibility he won’t know that we’ve escaped yet, which might give us a little bit of time to recuperate and get the element of surprise. And, that way, I don’t have to deal with him yet, which is definitely a plus.” She traced her fingers along the dark woodgrain of the table as she spoke.
“If they find him and you don’t want to deal with him I’ll kill him for you,” Jake offered.
Z looked up at him and gave a small smile. “Thanks, I might take you up on that. I was thinking of maybe doing it in the courtyard. Bullet in the head, execution style, in front of the Queen, you know.”
Jake raised an eyebrow. “Think about this much?”
“I had plenty of time to think while every beat of my heart sent jolts of pain through my body,” she said, cringing at the all too vivid memory.
“Well, can’t blame you there,” he said with a shudder. “I’m a little surprised you aren’t going for torture, actually.”
Zee shrugged. “I don’t want him around for any longer than necessary. Learned that lesson the hard way. This all could have been avoided if I’d just killed him on Valentine’s Day.”
“So the moral of the story is...kill guys who ask you out?” he asked jokingly, though while looking at her with an unreadable face of vague scrutiny.
She laughed. “I’d say more like ‘take no prisoners’,” she replied smoothly.
“I see,” Jake said.
Z was spared having to come up with a response when the doors to the dining hall burst open and ZIP walked in. “Almighty Z,” he said. “Update. All rogue drones have been eliminated. Josh the Great is not currently on the planet. Replacement of all destroyed drones has begun according to protocol and will be completed in an estimated six hours.”
A wide smile spread across her face. “Thank you, ZIP.”
“Ah, good,” Jake said, smiling as well. “This means we can sleep.”
“Yeah,” Z said, yawning again at the thought of curling up in her own soft, comfy bed as opposed to rock. “Sleep sounds good.”