Remembering back to when we’d been on Renewal Island and bugging Armory’s lab, I’d seen one of the True alongside a clone of Cassie’s father visiting to check on mechs Armory was building for the Nine.
“I do,” I told him, watching his expression. “Tara is the daughter of people who defected from the True.”
His eyebrows furrowed, “The True?”
Tara sat down in a wooden chair, one with a leg that was just slightly shorter than the other three. “Did you think we were all clones the Nine made?”
He eyed her, “I didn’t know, but I knew you were the Nine’s soldiers.”
Tara nodded, “That’s true—here. I’m not from this universe.”
Uncle Steve stared at her, “Other universes are real?”
“They are. I grew up in a city where they meet,” she grinned as his jaw dropped.
“This is beyond my security clearance. I’ve heard rumors about Infinity City, but it’s better if I don’t know too much. I’ve got a block, but it’s better that I don’t know too much.”
With a nod, Tara said, “I think you’re right, but you should know that what I’m good at is understanding a lot based on a surprisingly small amount of information. Could you please tell me everything you can about working for Armory? I’m going to interrupt you to ask questions and it’s important that you tell me everything you can. I know you’ll be tempted to hold something back, but the small details are what will help me understand and help keep you alive.”
She delivered the question in the warm, sometimes high-pitched voice she normally used instead of the monotone that she used when she let her most analytical side run the show. She might be keeping that less obvious since Uncle Steve didn’t know her.
Uncle Steve frowned, “I shouldn’t, but this isn’t just about government secrets, it’s about my family.”
Then he nodded, “Go ahead.”
She gave him a bright smile and had him walk through the whole process of starting to work there with special attention to details about what kind of attention they paid to him. Did they regularly have him pee in a cup to check for drugs? Did they take any other fluids? Yes, blood. Could he describe any visitors to the lab? He could. What were his coworkers like? Who were they? He answered in detail. Even though he didn’t try to, he’d gotten to know a few.
It took more than an hour for him to get through the story when all of her questions were included.
In the end, she said, “You’re very good at what you do. Then Nine had operatives planted in Armory’s lab. They didn’t realize that you were working for the government—at least while you were working there. I don’t know what they think now, but my guess is that they still don’t know. They’re still going after you, but not because they think you’re a spy. It’s because they’re going after every engineer that worked for Armory to keep their designs secret.”
Uncle Steve took a few breaths, becoming calmer as he did, “That’s what I was worried about. I was hoping it was just a worry. There isn’t any chance that could affect your analysis, is there?”
She shook her head, “I notice that kind of thing. In this case, it was Sven that was the Nine’s observer in your group. He wasn’t willingly doing it. He was controlled. That’s why they killed him too. They couldn’t risk it wearing off. They’re going to send a team of supers specialized in cleaning up potential security leaks, probably a team of three that will definitely include a telepath or a Dominator.”
Vaughn leaned toward me, talking in a low voice, “That sounds like our other project might have to go on hold.”
I shook my head, “I don’t think it can. We need to find and contact those people. I think we’ve got enough people here that we can handle a team of three even if you and Amy are out looking.”
Uncle Steve glanced over at us. I decided not to go into more detail. He didn’t need to know about the immortals.
“Sorry,” I said to him, “we’ve got at least one more thing going right now.”
He nodded, “I’m sure that’s true.”
Meeting Tara’s eyes, I asked, “Do you know when they’ll get here?”
Tara shook her head, “It’s hard to say. Steve said there were more than fifty engineers working there. I didn’t get any hint that he’s high on their list. It might be a few months from now. It might be tomorrow, but I think he has some time. At least a few weeks.”
“Alright,” I said. “I think that we can pull in the Mystic to see if he can get more. Plus, we can have you sleep here or even in the base itself. Assuming they don’t have a way to sense where you are, that’s not where they’ll look.”