I looked down at the bag, “The ping pong paddles and balls were kind of an impulse thing. We’ve got tables, but not an official ping pong table. I was figuring we could use one in the dorm, maybe? I really wasn’t thinking very far ahead.”
Emmy smirked. “Well normally, I’d have to give you a little lecture about taking swag just to take it, but with everything that’s happened, go ahead and clean out the closet. I don’t have to care anymore.”
I thought about it. “I could use some more pens.”
Tara tapped her foot and I reminded myself of why we were here. “Do you have anyplace for the of us to talk that would quiet and private? It’s important.”
Emmy looked over to Tara and then back to me. For a moment, I saw a flash of the same blank expression Tara had when she let her mind work. “I shouldn’t leave the desk, but no one’s here. Follow me, I’ve got a place.”
She led us through a room of empty cubicles and into an almost empty room. There were rolled up yoga mats leaning against one wall, a couple big TVs hanging on the opposite wall, and an exercise bike in one corner. The open concrete floor made the whole room feel unfinished.
When I’d taken in everything, I turned to Emmy, “What’s this?”
She laughed, “It’s almost an exercise room. When they renovated the building, we were supposed to have one, but the guy who led the project left and no one ever finished it. It was annoying. I wanted an exercise room.”
Then she asked, “What did you want to tell me?”
Tara pulled her mask off, “I wanted to talk to you.”
The two of them look at each other. Emmy was in her late twenties while Tara was in her early twenties. Tara stood at least a foot taller with leaner look to her face and more noticeable muscles on her arms and legs.
Still, they had the same dirty blond hair, same high cheekbones, lips, wide eyes, and high pitched voice.
They might not be twins, but no one could think they weren’t related.
Emmy looked her up and down, “Who are you?”
In a calm voice, Tara said, “My parents were refugees from alternate universes where someone cloned you, made your clones into soldiers with alien genetic manipulation technology, and used them to take over the world. Your talent for predicting what people are going to do is useful for fighting when it’s trained.”
Emmy stared at her, “That’s a lot to take in.”
She didn’t say anything more than that for a few seconds but then asked, “Did you say universes?”
Tara’s face showed a hint of a smile, “It’s a long story, but it’s happened more than once in different universes and it’s not always a version of you that gets cloned. I feel like you have to know though, because it happened here. Victor got samples of you and used them to create more of us and here he works for the Nine. I thought you needed to know and if you want help or want training, I can train you.”
Emmy looked up at Tara, “Training so that I can learn to whatever it is I can do on purpose?”
Nodding, Tara said, “Yes, but not if you don’t want to. I think it will work differently for you than it does for us, but I want you be able to use it. Now that there are clones of you using it out in the world, they might find you or someone else might look for you because they found one of them. I want you to have the best chance to survive that you can.
“You’re the closest I have to family here.”
Emmy took a deep breath and didn’t say anything for a little while. “This doesn’t seem real, but I believe you. You look more like me than members of my own family do.”
Then she frowned, “And Sandy told me about the birthing chambers. I can’t believe they used them on me. I’m not that special. Nick, you worked there, do you know anything?”
“I—,” I began, and then went into the version of the truth Tara and I decided on the night before. “I didn’t know they’d cloned you until afterward. I assumed it was because of Victor. Honestly, I think your abilities weren’t even on his radar. I don’t know too much more than that, but I’ve told what I could to the FBI.”
Emmy would see right through it if Tara ever did teach her to use whatever level of ability she had, but it was okay for now. It wasn’t even untrue. It just skipped a lot of details.
Hopefully Tara would tell us if Emmy ever did take her up on her offer. I’d want to know.