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CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

TOBIAS

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I CHECK THE screens before I go to meet Amar and George. Evelyn is holed up in Erudite headquarters with her factionless supporters, leaning over a map of the city. Marcus and Johanna are in a building on Michigan Avenue, north of the Hancock building, conducting a meeting.

I hope that’s where they both are in a few hours when I decide which of my parents to reset. Amar gave us a little over an hour to find and inoculate Uriah’s family and get back to the compound unnoticed, so I only have time for one of them.

Snow swirls over the pavement outside, floating on the wind. George offers me a gun.

“It’s dangerous in there right now,” he says. “With all that Allegiant stuff going on. ”

I take the gun without even looking at it.

“You are all familiar with the plan?” George says. “I’m going to be monitoring you from here, from the small control room. We’ll see how useful I am tonight, though, with all this snow obscuring the cameras. ”

“And where will the other security people be?”

“Drinking?” George shrugs. “I told them to take the night off. No one will notice the truck is gone. It’ll be fine, I promise. ”

Amar grins. “All right, let’s pile in. ”

George squeezes Amar’s arm and waves at the rest of us. As the others follow Amar to the parked truck outside, I grab George and hold him back. He gives me a strange look.

“Don’t ask me any questions about this, because I won’t answer them,” I say. “But inoculate yourself against the memory serum, okay? As soon as possible. Matthew can help you. ”

He frowns at me.

“Just do it,” I say, and I go out to the truck.

Snowflakes cling to my hair, and vapor curls around my mouth with each breath. Christina bumps into me on our way to the truck and slips something into my pocket. A vial.

I see Peter’s eyes on us as I get in the passenger’s seat. I’m still not sure why he was so eager to come with us, but I know I need to be wary of him.

The inside of the truck is warm, and soon we are all covered with beads of water instead of snow.

“Lucky you,” Amar says. He hands me a glass screen with bright lines tangled across it like veins. I look closer and see that they are streets, and the brightest line traces our path through them. “You get to man the map. ”

“You need a map?” I raise my eyebrows. “Has it not occurred to you to just . . . aim for the giant buildings?”

Amar makes a face at me. “We aren’t just driving straight into the city, we’re taking a stealth route. Now shut up and man the map. ”

I find a blue dot on the map that marks our position. Amar urges the truck into the snow, which falls so fast I can only see a few feet in front of us.

The buildings we drive past look like dark figures peeking through a white shroud. Amar drives fast, trusting the weight of the truck to keep us steady. Between snowflakes, I see the city lights up ahead. I had forgotten how close we were to it, because everything is so different just outside its limits.

“I can’t believe we’re going back,” Peter says quietly, like he doesn’t expect a response.

“Me either,” I say, because it’s true.

The distance the Bureau has kept from the rest of the world is an evil separate from the war they intend to wage against our memories—more subtle, but, in its way, just as sinister. They had the capacity to help us, languishing in our factions, but instead they let us fall apart. Let us die. Let us kill one another. Only now that we are about to destroy more than an acceptable level of genetic material are they deciding to intervene.

We bounce back and forth in the truck as Amar drives over the railroad tracks, staying close to the high cement wall on our right.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I look at Christina in the rearview mirror. Her right knee bounces fast.

I still don’t know whose memory I’m going to take: Marcus’s, or Evelyn’s?

Usually I would try to decide what the most selfless choice would be, but in this case either choice feels selfish. Resetting Marcus would mean erasing the man I hate and fear from the world. It would mean my freedom from his influence.

Resetting Evelyn would mean making her into a new mother—one who wouldn’t abandon me, or make decisions out of a desire for revenge, or control everyone in an effort not to have to trust them.

Either way, with either parent gone, I am better off. But what would help the city most?

I no longer know.

I hold my hands over the air vents to warm them as Amar continues to drive, over the railroad tracks and past the abandoned train car we saw on our way in, reflecting the headlights in its silver panels. We reach the place where the outside world ends and the experiment begins, as abrupt a shift as if someone had drawn a line in the ground.

Amar drives over that line like it isn’t there. For him, I suppose, it has faded with time, as he grows more and more used to his new world. For me, it feels like driving from truth into a lie, from adulthood into childhood. I watch the land of pavement and glass and metal turn into an empty field. The snow is falling softly now, and I can faintly see the city’s skyline up ahead, the buildings just a shade darker than the clouds.

“Where should we go to find Zeke?” Amar says.

“Zeke and his mother joined up with the revolt,” I say. “So wherever most of them are is my best bet. ”

“Control room people said most of them have taken up residence north of the river, near the Hancock building,” Amar says. “Feel like going zip lining?”

“Absolutely not,” I say.

Amar laughs.

It takes us another hour to get close. Only when I see the Hancock building in the distance do I start to feel nervous.

“Um . . . Amar?” Christina says from the back. “I hate to say this, but I really need to stop. And . . . you know. Pee. ”

“Right now?” Amar says.

“Yeah. It came on all of a sudden. ”

He sighs, but pulls the truck over to the side of the road.

“You guys stay here, and don’t look!” Christina says as she gets out.

I watch her silhouette move to the back of the truck, and wait. All I feel when she slashes the tires is a slight bounce in the truck, so small I’m sure I only felt it because I was waiting for it. When Christina gets back in, brushing snowflakes from her jacket, she wears a small smile.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

Sometimes, all it takes to save people from a terrible fate is one person willing to do something about it. Even if that “something” is a fake bathroom break.

Amar drives for a few more minutes before anything happens. Then the truck shudders and starts to bounce like we’re going over bumps.

“Shit,” Amar says, scowling at the speedometer. “I can’t believe this. ”

“Flat?” I say.

“Yeah. ” He sighs, and eases on the brakes so the car slips to a stop by the side of the road.

“I’ll check it,” I say. I jump down from the passenger’s seat and walk to the back of the truck. The back tires are completely flat, flayed by the knife Christina brought with her. I peer through the back windows to make sure there’s only one spare tire, then return to my open door to give the news.

“Both back tires are flat and we only have one spare,” I say. “We’re going to have to abandon the truck and get a new one. ”

“Shit!” Amar smacks the steering wheel. “We don’t have time for this. We have to make sure Zeke and his mother and Christina’s family are all inoculated before the memory serum is released, or they’ll be useless. ”

“Calm down,” I say. “I know where we can find another vehicle. Why don’t you guys keep going on foot and I’ll go find something to drive?”

Amar’s expression brightens. “Good idea. ”

Before moving away from the truck I make sure that there are bullets in my gun, even though I’m not sure if I’ll need them. Everyone piles out of the truck, Amar shivering in the cold and bouncing on his toes.

I check my watch. “So you need to inoculate them by what time?”

“George’s schedule says we’ve got an hour before we reset the city,” Amar says, checking his watch too, to make sure. “If you want us to spare Zeke and his mother the grief and let them get reset, I wouldn’t blame you. I’ll do it if you need me to. ”

I shake my head. “Couldn’t do that. They wouldn’t be in pain, but it wouldn’t be real. ”

“As I’ve always said,” Amar says, smiling, “once a Stiff, always a Stiff. ”

“Can you . . . not tell them what happened? Just until I get there,” I say. “Just inoculate them? I want to be the one who tells them. ”

Amar’s smile shrinks a little. “Sure. Of course. ”

My shoes are already soaked through from checking the tires, and my feet ache when they touch the cold ground again. I’m about to walk away from the truck when Peter speaks up.

“I’m coming with you,” he says.

“What? Why?” I glare at him.

“You might need help finding a truck,” he says. “It’s a big city. ”

I look at Amar, who shrugs. “Man’s got a point. ”

Peter leans in closer and speaks quietly, so only I can hear. “And if you don’t want me to tell him you’re planning something, you won’t object. ”

His eyes drift to my jacket pocket, where the memory serum is.

I sigh. “Fine. But you do what I say. ”

I watch Amar and Christina walk away without us, heading toward the Hancock building. Once they’re too far away to see us, I take a few steps back, slipping my hand into my pocket to protect the vial.

“I’m not going to look for a truck,” I say. “You might as well know that now. Are you going to help me with what I’m doing, or do I have to shoot you?”

“Depends what you’re doing. ”

It’s hard to come up with an answer when I’m not even sure. I stand facing the Hancock building. To my right are the factionless, Evelyn, and her collection of death serum. To my left are the Allegiant, Marcus, and the insurrection plan.

Where do I have the greatest influence? Where can I make the biggest difference? Those are the questions I should be asking myself. Instead I am asking myself whose destruction I am more desperate for.

“I’m going to stop a revolution,” I say.

I turn right, and Peter follows me.

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