"Remy, you don't understand." She pauses, the hand clutching Dian's shirt frozen halfway to the incinerator. When he doesn't speak again, she finishes the movement and drops the piece of clothing into the flames, watching as they devour the cheap cotton fibers, the flickering firelight dancing over a face that is so much more tired than he had ever seen it before.
"What exactly don't I understand, Aldebourne?" she asks quietly. "They escaped on my watch. For the second time. Even if I didn't have a hand in it this time, the fact that they made it out is enough reason for the higher-ups to want me out of the picture." Gilbert Aldebourne shakes his head and presses his glasses into the bridge of his nose, thinking, searching for another way to save this woman, this brilliant, wonderful student of his for nearly ten years now.
"They want to kill you," he manages, finally lifting his head and looking at her. She closes the incinerator door and turns to offer him a small, bitter smile.
"That's what 'out of the picture' means, Aldebourne," she replies gently. "Don't think I don't know how this facility works. I've been here for almost as long as you have, remember?" Aldebourne scowls and shoves his hands into his lab coat pockets, leaning against the wall-and clenching his teeth as the cold metal of the gun in his belt presses against his back. The corner of Remy's mouth quirks up at his expression, and she sits at the lab bench with a soft laugh.
"I also know it's too late for me to even attempt to escape. The fact that you're here is proof enough of that." She props her chin up on her hand and looks around her tidied up lab area, the belongings of the four children all either tucked away in a reference drawer or lying in ashes at the bottom of the incinerator. The sight of the eerily clean lab makes him sick to his stomach; it looks like the room of a person preparing for suicide, without a single speck of dust or box out of place. And that's what it is, of course. Remy Dohrine is no idiot, and she is obviously aware of his real reason for visiting her, as well as the reason for why she heard more than just one set of shoes approaching her room before he opened the door. She intends for this room to be her coffin.
Aldebourne forces himself to relax. Remy Dohrine will not die. He won't allow for it. His plan has been cleared by the higher-ups, and everything is ready. He reaches behind him and pulls out the gun, hefting it in his hand before raising it slowly up to Remy's face, schooling his features into an expressionless mask as he meets her eyes.
"They want to kill you, Remy," he repeats. "And I can't let that happen." That same bitter smile stays on her lips until he shifts the gun down and shoots the tranquilizer dart into the flesh of her shoulder. Only then does he see the shock, and pain, the disbelieving horror in her face as she looks from the dart embedded in her skin back to Aldebourne, meeting his eyes for one last time before the drugs take over and she slumps over the lab bench. Aldebourne lets out a shuddering breath and falls back against the wall, letting himself slide down to sit on the floor.
That's it, then. He presses the comm nestled in his ear and makes sure to keep his voice steady as he calls in the doctors. Somehow he can't bring himself to move as they swarm around Remy and transfer her to a wheel cot so she can be moved into the experimental ward and prepared. He can only sit there, and watch, and wonder what kind of hell he may have just admitted his best pupil to.
"You suggest that she be used as a test subject?" Aldebourne took a shallow breath and reevaluated his opinion on whether or not this was worth it. He was 100% sure that Remy would violently object to this plan if she were present, but luckily this matter was between him and the Executive Board. This plan was his last effort to keep her alive. If they didn't approve it...then that was it. Remy would be disposed of.
But that was something he could not allow to happen.
"It's a waste to simply kill her off, sir," he explained. "With the escape of our only four successful experiments, we will be needing new test subjects, and if Remy Dohrine is now disposable, we might as well start with her. If the experiment fails, then there is no harm done, but if it succeeds then not only will we have made enormous advancements to our cause, but we will have done it with one of the most brilliant minds to grace this generation. Sir," he added hastily. His superior made a thoughtful face, and he pressed on. "We will keep her confined in a semiconscious state while the tests are conducted so there is no chance of escape. In addition, by sedating her consciousness, the serum rejection rate should fall. In all honesty we should have done it with our previous fifty test subjects, but our resources are...lacking in that respect," he said carefully. "However, with only one woman, we have more than enough personnel and technology to carry out this revised experiment. I have high hopes for its success with Remy Dohrine as the subject as well, sir."
The head of the Board gave Aldebourne a long look. "I do believe," he remarked, bringing his elbows on top of the desk and examining Aldebourne over the tips of his bridged fingers, "That the optimal age for this procedure is childhood to adolescence, between 6 and 21 years old. Where, may I ask, do your high hopes come from with an overage subject?" The director's eyes sent a chill down his spine, and Aldebourne felt a cold sweat break out on the back of his neck. But he shook it off; he was prepared for this question.
"Her blood was taken a few weeks ago for the annual medical examination, and after recent testing we have found that her DNA is highly compatible with the serums, and the chances of acceptance are extremely high despite her age, sir," he responded. "The age range is only an approximation in the first place; even a year or two over the supposed limit, with her DNA it should not be a problem." Aldebourne finished and waited with well-concealed anxiety as the head discussed with other members of the Board in hushed voices. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he turned back to Aldebourne.
"Very well," he stated. "You may save Remy Dohrine's life. But make sure there is steady progress, or we will pull the plug and end her. Do you understand, Gilbert Aldebourne?" There was a sly smile playing around the director's lips, and Aldebourne cursed him silently even as he bowed his head in thanks.
"Understood, Director. Thank you very much."
And fuck you, he thought bitterly.
When he enters the room, they're in the process of attaching the tubes responsible for transferring the serums and nutrients into her blood and keeping her alive for the next few years. The tank is of course already prepared, the pale green fluid inside casting a ghostly shadow over the doctors and machines that will monitor her health. As he surveys the scene, the pit of self-loathing that has been sitting in his gut since the Board meeting slowly envelops him, and he exits the room before anybody notices him, barely making it into the next hallway before he slams his fist against the wall, tears streaming down his face. God damn it. Seeing her like that, stripped bare with tubes and wires poking out of her and a respirator over her mouth-he can't take it. This is his doing, this is what he has chosen for her instead of offering her the solace of death. And yet-as much as he despises himself for turning his own student into a guinea pig, as much as the thought of her floating like a dead rat in that tank wrenches at his heart-he can't say that he regrets it.
At least she's alive. That's all that matters. Alive, she at least has a chance of returning to-
To what, hm? a voice in his head whispers. She would have to live out the rest of her life here, shut away in some dark room, taking tests every day, until she started deteriorating like all the other failures-
"But at least she's alive now," he mutters, saying it out loud to shut up the doubts now crowding his mind. Alive is better than dead any day of the week. He's done the right thing; he can worry about the future when he comes to it. For now, he's saved her life. Two or three years from now, when Remy Dohrine wakes up, she might not thank him for it, but that's okay. As long as she was alive, she could learn to understand.