Mr. Dimitri, one of the lead researchers of the program, heartily laughed as Miss Susan joked about the Compound's bland cafeteria food.
"You would think we're at the hospital!"
In an instant, the mood changed.
Mr. Dimitri glanced at me worriedly. I only stared back, my face emotionless. She was right about one thing though, the Grey Compound- formally named Anawim Laboratories, is like a hospital. A twisted version of it that is.
Miss Susan's face turned horrified when she realized what she said. She turned to me and then at Mr. Dimitri.
"I'm sorry, I didn't-" her apology was cut off when someone started to rapidly knock on the door.
"What is it?" Miss Susan asked with concern as she opened the door. I watched, from my glass encasement, as a younger man urgently spoke about a trespass that has happened. From memory, I remembered his name as Theodore. He had pricked my arm last week to draw blood samples.
"Did you find out if they took anything?" Mr. Dimitri asked right after Theodore explained the situation. The younger man shook his head.
"That's the thing, sir. Nothing was missing."
"I bet this is the Association's work. They are trying to tell us how easily they could break in here. We need to heighten security procedures," Miss Susan said. I saw Mr. Dimitri shake his head.
"We don't have time for that. We need to evacuate the area."
"But the test subjects! There are too many of them!"
"Then we must start the evacuation immediately," Mr. Dimitri said. He then turned to Theodore, "Inform everyone they have an hour to get everything sorted. I'll-" He was cut off by a loud bang. All three of them widened their eyes in shock.
"We have to leave. Now!" Mr. Dimitri exclaimed as the shouting started.
"But the-" Miss Susan started to say but was once again cut off as Mr. Dimitri opened the door.
"No time!" Miss Susan's eyes met mine. They were full of remorse. I only nodded in understanding. I saw tears form in her eyes as she tried to think of what she would do. Leave and get a chance of living, or save me and get a chance of getting killed.
Miss Susan is a vital part of Project Ceres: a top secret project that was trying to create a new hybrid of humans using biotechnology. She had discovered things no one else could ever find. She could not die. Not because of me.
Sweat trickled my forehead as the glass encasement I was in grew hot. I gave her what I hoped was a smile- I had seen them do it many times- and gestured for her to leave. She was more important. She could make more of me if she could survive.
Surprisingly though, she did the opposite. "Susan!" Mr. Dimitri screamed as Miss Susan ran towards the computer in the back of the room, frantically typing away. Mr. Dimitri called her three more times before giving up, running away with Theodore and a few other scientists. There were three loud beeps before the door to the glass encasement opened, exposing me to the outside.
"Sapphire!" Miss Susan yelled. "Get out of there!"
Sapphire was the nickname given to me, X32-A, by Miss Susan and the others. They said it was because my eyes held an unique resemblance to the said gem. "Hurry!"
Hesitantly, I stepped out of my encasement, a foreign sensation filling my senses as I did. I rarely left my encasement- it was like my room- and when I do, it was only for tests performed at other parts of the compound. I have never went beyond that.
I sensed the ceiling crack before it did. I made a move to go towards Miss Susan but she was on the other side of the room trying to save her research and did not notice when the ceiling above her began to collapse. I was too late.
There was thick cloud of dust that covered the room. I heard several coughs. I used my enhaced vision to find her location.
"Miss..." I knelt beside her, trying my best to lift the rubble. I saw her wince slightly as she tried to keep consciousness.
"Sapphire..." her voice was weak. "You have to get out of here. Fast. I don't have much time left but...They're coming, my dear- they're coming to get you. You cannot let that happen; not again. You have to save yourself."
"I cannot leave you, Miss Susan. It is not-"
"I know, my dear, I know. It is against everything you are taught to do. But you have to, Sapphire. You have to leave. You have to save everything... everything I have worked hard for. That's you. You are the future of humanity."
"But, Miss..." I tried to say, but was stopped when she said the words I knew I could not disobey.
"I, Susan Everhart, order you, X32-A aka Sapphire to leave this Compound now and never come back. Not now, not ever. You are to live the life we took away from you. Upon reliquishing my command, you will follow no more orders than the ones I had given you. You, X32-A, are now relieved from your duty. Now, go."
I stood up mechanically, not having much of a choice. She was freeing me by ordering me... but at the expense of her life. My throat tightened.
"Goodbye, Miss. It has been a pleasure serving you," I told her before I took off, not looking back.
From afar, there were the sound of gunshots from the other side of the compound and I felt an unfamiliar burn in my eyes. A tear streaked down my face. That was the first time I had ever cried.