It made Elizabeth a bit nervous that they were attempting their escape across an open area, in plain sight. But Murali seemed confident, and she felt she could trust him.
Even so, it didn't feel like they were getting any closer to the door. It's like light, she thought. No matter where you observe it from, it's still moving away three-hundred million meters per second relative to the observer, regardless of how fast the observer's moving.
Perhaps it was the nature of their circumstances, but Elizabeth just couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched. Or worse, followed. She glanced to Anya, who bit her lip and nodded: she felt the same way. They looked back at Murali for a moment; if he was at all apprehensive, he was very good at hiding it. His face stayed set in a determined expression, his eyes locked on his target.
After what seemed to be an eternity (Elizabeth was convinced she'd lost all conception of time by now), they reached the door. Murali worked his way around the gurney to the door.
"Don't touch anything," he warned in a low whisper. "Everything has a fingerprint scanner on here." Elizabeth and Anya nodded. He began to punch a string of numbers into a keypad by the knob.
"Access denied," a tinny, artificial voice said coldly.
"Try it again," Elizabeth suggested. "Maybe you made a mistake." He tried once more, going a bit more slowly.
"Access denied," the voice said again. Elizabeth could've sworn it was mocking them. There was something about it that seemed oddly familiar, too...
Anya's brow furrowed in frustration. "I thought you said you could get us out," she hissed.
"I did too," Murali hissed back, clearly distraught. "They must've changed the passcode or something."
"And by 'they' you mean Jason?"
"It is more than likely," an all-too-familiar voice said from a distance, "that's exactly what happened."
The three froze as the ruffled sound of multiple sets of feet crossing the grass met Elizabeth's ears. She didn't dare turn around just yet; visual confirmation of discovery would just frighten her more.
The feet stopped very close by.
"Turn around, you three," Jason's voice calmly instructed. "It's rude to not face your speaker, you know."
Slowly, begrudgedly, they turned. A group of six students, with Jason in the middle, had formed a semi-circle blockade around them. Elizabeth swallowed nervously.
"What kind of fool do you think I am? Murali was right in saying there aren't sensors in the exam rooms, but he missed one detail. What he should've said, had he known, was that he wasn't detecting any sensors that were in the main system. The audio sensors I have in there are directly wired to speakers, so there's no detectable interface which they can go through. Just wires."
Murali was shocked. A thin, mocking smirk curled Jason's lips. "But I digress. We have other matters to deal with at the moment. An escape plot is bad enough, but attempting to modify an out-of-commission android to spy and enlist help for escape?" He shook his head, taking a step forward. "This won't do, this just simply won't do. I expected better of my assistant and top student."
"I believe there are rules in place to deal with matters like these?" the student closest to Elizabeth asked coldly.
Jason's sneer widened. "There are indeed rules in place. Harsh rules. And violation of such rules require equally weighty punishment."
Anya audibly gulped.