Tara bit her lip, and said, “Let’s talk about it outside.”
It didn’t take long to go outside. We passed the concrete lions without anything weird happening, and found ourselves standing on the grass next to the river again. Tara kept walking until we were out of earshot of any of the other people.
Well, out of normal earshot—Travis could hear every conversation on the lawn, and right then I was grateful for it.
Tara looked both ways before she said anything. “I was going to tell you about them. It’s a standard part of the tour, but with me being who I am, it gets… complicated.”
No one said anything while she paused.
“They call themselves ‘The True’. Most people in Infinity City call them the ‘Blues’ or the ‘Greens’. It’s because of their eye color. Otherwise it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. They’re from alternate universes far enough away from here that the politics and culture issues don’t make any sense at all.
“They were designed to be soldiers and police. Sometimes they were created to protect a group. Sometimes they were created to keep society under control. Either way, they were supposed to be perfect, or at least better than most people. In some worlds, they destroyed everybody but themselves. In others, they took over. The ones in this city are refugees from worlds where their uprising failed, or the last remains of the human race on a planet they destroyed.”
Rod nodded thoughtfully, but then frowned and asked, “What does all that have to do with eye color?”
“Nothing. It only shows a difference. They’re all clones, but they’re a little different from one universe to another. They notice the little differences and don’t trust each other. The Blues and Greens are almost the same, but they’re a little different philosophically, and in… eye color.”
Tara trailed off, not looking bubbly or enthusiastic. To me, she looked like one wrong word could leave her sobbing.
She had green eyes.
Travis put his hand on her shoulder. “If it bothers you, you can talk about it later.”
She shook her head, her eyes glistening around the edges, but not tearing up. “No, I’ll talk about it now, but thanks.”
She did a decent job of faking cheerfulness. Travis took his hand away, and glanced at me, frowning. I knew he didn’t believe her either.
I’d liked that about him. Even if his insight came from better than human senses, he paid attention to people.
“My mother was a Green. My father was a Blue. They ran away after Mom became pregnant with me, and we hid, moving from one version of the city to another until we got here.”
She stopped talking, and took a breath. Her voice became calmer, but unnatural for her–distant and remote. “The Greens caught up with us, and killed Mom, but the government took us in.”
Samita muttered, “That’s awful.”
Tara took another breath, and sounded more normal then she had. “I’m fine. It happened seven years ago. I’m okay now.”
I doubted it.
My next question was a step back from the personal questions. “If we run into them again, what are we facing?”
“It depends on the kind of True you’re facing. Most of them are stronger, faster, and smarter than a normal person, but not all the time. It’s based on a chemical trigger—a little like how adrenaline works.”
“You too?” I asked.
She nodded. Then she gave everyone a smile, and said, “Does anyone else have any questions? I’m supposed to have shown you more by now, and given you a little free time. We should try to catch up.”
No one had questions. Tara said, “Great. There’s a bus stop at the end of the block. Let’s start walking.”
Travis and I fell into step behind everyone else. Samita was asking Tara something as they walked, and Rod walked between the two of them and the two of us.
It felt a little strange. Travis and I hadn’t spent this much time together in years—not outside of practice, or a fight.
“So,” I said, “great field trip, right?”
Travis laughed. “Couldn’t be better.”
“I know.” I smiled up at him. “Are we safe?”
“Can’t sense it if we aren’t. No raised heartbeats. No one smells scared.”
That was saying something because it felt just like any big city. People were everywhere. I counted ten people walking ahead of us on our side of the street, and four were already waiting at the bus stop.
“That’s a relief.” I was about to ask him how the family restaurant business was going when my phone rang.
I pulled it out of my pocket. I had one of the League phones Nick made to pass as normal cell phones.
I checked the caller ID. It was my mom.