And like all of the True, Tara stood out a lot. Unlike most superheroes, she had the physique women have in comic books—thin but with larger than average breasts, a look few women have in real life without plastic surgery. Female martial artists, for example, tended to be thin everywhere—though the ones that did look like Tara got a lot of attention online.
All of which is a long way to say that if I had to bet, I’d bet that the True’s designer was a straight guy.
On the other hand, I supposed that if the men were just as attractive, the designer might have been a gay man or a straight woman, making a female True’s appearance accidental.
I didn’t share any of that with Tara. When I stepped into the kitchen area, she put down her duffel bag next to her suitcases and stepped forward to hug me, talking quickly, almost into my ear even as she pulled me close. As high pitched as her voice went, that was on the edge of uncomfortable.
“Thank you, I’m so grateful to be here. I thought I’d never find a place to do my residency.”
Tara wasn’t as strong as either Haley or Cassie, but I felt the material in my shirt tighten to protect me anyway.
She noticed too and loosened her grip, still talking. “I didn’t mean to do that. You’re okay, right?”
I smiled at her as she let go. “I’m fine. Cassie sometimes punches me in the shoulder to get my attention. That hurts.”
She smiled back. “Okay, good. It’s not good that it hurts when she punches you, but I’m glad you weren’t hurt by me. Sorry, I’m so scattered right now. I could be more like I am in class, but I don’t like being that detached all the time.”
“That’s fine. Be comfortable. If things are anything like they’ve been for the past four years, you’ll spend more time fighting than you expect.”
I glanced over at Kayla who was watching the two of us. “Did you end up showing her around?”
Kayla shook her head. “You told me you’d do it or Vaughn would.”
I frowned, wondering where Vaughn was. It wasn’t out of character for him to be late, but he was generally better with something like this. Well, whatever, he was living at the house this year too. He’d be here eventually.
And anyway, Tara and I got along. We’d both assisted Lee in teaching fighting as well as attending his advanced classes at Stapledon. Showing her around wouldn’t be a big deal. She’d be spending the next year with us.
I shrugged. “Then I guess I’m doing it.”
Kayla let out a breath. “Good. Then I’m going back to my station. Marcus and Haley are going out on patrol tonight and they’re starting from campus. They might start early and I’ve got to be ready.”
She turned to Tara. “It was nice to meet to you. I’m sure we’ll enjoy working together. I hope they start you a little slower than they did me.”
Then she added. “At least you’re prepared for it. That would have been nice.”
After a look in my direction, she added, “Talk to you later,” and walked toward the big screen and computers on the other side of the room.
Tara watched her walk away and then looked at me, a hint of a smile on her lips. “She’s got a story to tell.”
I checked in Kayla’s direction. She was passing the first group of trophy cases. That ought to be out of earshot.
“We brought her along when we fought the Cabal with the idea that she’d help coordinate us. She was in powered armor and not in the front lines, but she was still too close to the action. They took her out. Plus, after she started working, we had the alien invasion and she was right in the middle of it. I only found out later.”
Tara took another look in Kayla’s direction. “She’s got a lot of spirit if that didn’t scare her off.”
I flashed back to another memory. “She kept her head during the dinosaur invasion. She was steady when we needed steadiness. She’s been better than we could have realistically hoped when Cassie suggested she could help.”
Tara smiled. “Good. I like her.”
“Well, yeah,” I said, “but you never say anything bad about anybody.”
Giving my shoulder a punch that was more of a tap, Tara grinned at me. “But she’s still nice. That’s a good thing.”
I showed her around HQ—the hangar where we kept the League jet (which was semi-secretly a spaceship) and the other vehicles, the command center across the room, the storage rooms (though I didn’t open the ones with Abominator weapons), the exits to the tunnels, and we finished in the lab. I pointed out the stairway down to HQ’s basement, a giant, long term fallout shelter from the Cold War.
“We don’t use it for anything,” I told her as we walked into the lab and pulled out stools. “It’s full of bedding and dehydrated food. Grandpa thought people might stay in here for a year or more if there were a nuclear war. We should throw it all out. The food might be edible, but it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll need it now.”
Her brows furrowed. If she wanted to, Tara could pull details that she’d never consciously noticed into detailed analysis. World events weren’t her strength, but she could try.
“You can throw it away. The kind of catastrophe that would force people to live here isn’t likely anymore.” Her voice came out flatter than usual, but then reverted to normal as she continued to talk.
“But that’s not what I’m really wondering about. Are you still thinking about quitting?”
The real strength of her power was to predict opponent’s next moves or guess at thoughts friends weren’t mentioning to anybody.
“Less now than when we got back,” I said.