As she tumbled, Tara curled herself instinctively around the infant. I'm sorry, she said silently to the child, and to herself, and to the stupid deity who'd chosen to give her these abilities in the first place. I wasn't right for any of this.
She came down harshly on her left shoulder, which flared with pain. In the shock of the impact she almost let go of the child, but she managed to hang on as she bounced and then landed again, tumbling onto her side and shoulder-over-shoulder, the cracked concrete of the street scraping painfully at her extremities. She rolled until she struck the tire of one of the newly-arrived fire trucks, where she came to a sudden halt amidst the firefighters.
The next several minutes went by in a blur. The firefighters only let their surprise linger for a second; then the baby's cries broke through the din and they moved into a flurry of effort. Tara was helped into a sitting position and the child was carefully taken from her arms. One of the firefighters did a quick assessment of Tara and then tried to get her to stand. She did, albeit shakily, and allowed him to lead her to an emergency van.
A paramedic appeared by her side, intent on making a more thorough assessment of her injuries, but she waived him off -- not only because she couldn't stand the look of awe she already saw on the man's face, but also because she was fairly sure she didn't need any help. Her body had handled the impact from the fall far better than it had the heat of the fire. While her shoulder had flared with pain at the impact point, and she had bruises and scratches across her back and shoulders, she was almost certain that nothing was broken and she wasn't missing any vital limbs. Apparently her new body was built to take a beating, even if it wasn't fireproof.
And even her burns weren't as terrible as she had feared. Already her hands, which had felt near the point of blistering before, were merely red with pain. And while the burning in her lungs remained, it was subdued, and she assumed it would go away altogether in short order. Fast healing appeared to be one of the benefits of being Touched.
She felt a sharp pain as someone pulled on her left arm, and then found herself in the arms of Finn, his sunglasses off and his scruffy face full of worry. "There you are, babe," he said, "Are you hurt?"
"A little," she said, pulling away and rubbing her aching shoulder. "I'll be fine."
"Are you sure? Because you look like Hell. Plus, I don't think you'll ever be able to wear that shirt again."
She looked down at her ex's bright red shirt – or what was left of it after the fire and the fall – and gave a half-hearted shrug . "I didn't like it much anyway."
"Come on. We need to get you off the street. There's cops and reporters showing up and they're already asking questions about you. But don't worry, we've got a plan."
Tara looked confused. "'We,' who?"
Finn didn't answer, but instead took her hand and led her between two fire trucks, then down an alleyway, then around a corner, and then towards the back door of the Park District Temenos.
She stopped suddenly, yanking Finn to a halt so abruptly that he nearly lost his feet. "Why are we going back there?"
"Because I couldn't think of anything else to do. I don't know how the Touched manage to slink away so easily once the cops show up, but disappearing doesn't seem to be one of your powers. If we didn't get you off the street you were going to end up answering a lot of questions you didn't want to."
Tara was about to object, but just then the door opened and Tethys stepped out. She offered them her best customer service smile. "Welcome," she said chirpily. "We're so glad you've come back to us, Blessed One."
YOU ARE READING
The Trials of Tara TitanAdventure
They are called the Touched -- humans imbued with glorious superhuman abilities, claiming that their powers come from the gods and goddesses of old. Tara Titansky, tall and almost pretty, is fascinated by the Touched. She reads about them; she posts...