Sam settled at his desk, his face neutral, but his heart torn. The Lecture had not helped bolster him at all, as it was designed to do. Instead, it had him tapping a fingertip on his nearly-empty desk.
What was it about this woman? He could not make himself think of her as a thing, as an Other. Most Others were panicked, fear-filled, or so serene in their beliefs that they were sentenced to death and maintained a smile the entire time.
Sam closed his eyes to take a breath, but the memory that flashed before him took his breath away.
Those same eyes that flashed a challenge and pity simultaneously…Isaac had had that same gaze. Sam jerked his own eyes open, but he could not stop the memories. Isaac as a child, telling him how he knew what Mother and Father were thinking; Isaac following what he wanted to do–become an art gallery director–at the risk of people finding out he was an Other; being in training and knowing that Sam’s Trainer would be investigating the family. The last flash was as vivid as the day it happened–Isaac being chained to the metal post, tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, the flames leaping around him, swallowing him before he could scream.
Sam’s Talker beeped loudly in his ear. “Interrogator, your heart rate is above normal. Are you well?”
He took a deep breath. “I am.”
The canned voice answered, “Report to the medical staff as soon as possible for a follow-up.”
“Understood.” He disconnected then brought up the woman’s file. Hannah. He stared into her 3-D image. The thought of turning her over to the next Interrogator, and knowing the torture that she would undergo…
Sam switched off the picture. He knew what he was going to do. He knew how many rules it would break. Hell, he could be killed for it. But the guilt of watching his brother burn had weighed far too heavily on his…not his mind, that wasn’t right. Isaac had called it “the part of us that never dies.” Whatever that part was, it was crying for Sam to help this woman.
He stood up from his desk quickly, ignoring the stares of the other Interrogators as he strode back to the room where Hannah was awaiting her fate.