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CHAPTER SEVEN

TRIS

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CHRISTINA TURNS A black stone over and over in her hand as we walk. It takes me a few seconds to realize that it’s actually a piece of coal, from the Dauntless Choosing Ceremony bowl.

“I didn’t really want to bring this up, but I can’t stop thinking about it,” she says. “That of the ten transfer initiates we started with, only six are still alive. ”

Ahead of us is the Hancock building, and beyond it, Lake Shore Drive, the lazy strip of pavement that I once flew over like a bird. We walk the cracked sidewalk side by side, our clothes smeared with Edward’s blood, now dry.

It hasn’t hit me yet: that Edward, by far the most talented transfer initiate we had, the boy whose blood I cleaned off the dormitory floor, is dead. He’s dead now.

“And of the nice ones,” I say, “it’s just you, me, and . . . Myra, probably. ”

I haven’t seen Myra since she left the Dauntless compound with Edward, right after his eye was claimed by a butter knife. I know they broke up not long after that, but I never found out where she went. I don’t think I ever exchanged more than a few words with her anyway.

A set of doors to the Hancock building are already open, dangling from their hinges. Uriah said that he would come here early to turn on the generator, and sure enough, when I touch my finger to the elevator button, it glows through my fingernail.

“Have you been here before?” I say as we walk into the elevator.

“No,” Christina says. “Not inside, I mean. I didn’t get to go zip lining, remember?”

“Right. ” I lean against the wall. “You should try to go before we leave. ”

“Yeah. ” She’s wearing red lipstick. It reminds me of the way candy stains children’s skin if they eat it too sloppily. “Sometimes I get where Evelyn’s coming from. So many awful things have happened, sometimes it feels like a good idea to stay here and just . . . try to clean up this mess before we get ourselves involved in another. ” She smiles a little. “But of course, I’m not going to do that,” she adds. “I’m not even sure why. Curiosity, I guess. ”

“Have you talked to your parents about it?”

Sometimes I forget that Christina isn’t like me, with no family loyalty to tie her to one place anymore. She has a mother and a little sister, both former Candor.

“They have to look after my sister,” she says. “They don’t know if it’s safe out there; they don’t want to risk her. ”

“But they would be okay with you leaving?”

“They were okay with me joining another faction. They’ll be okay with this, too,” she says. She looks down at her shoes. “They just want me to live an honest life, you know? And I can’t do that here. I just know that I can’t. ”

The elevator doors open, and the wind hits us immediately, still warm but woven with threads of winter cold. I hear voices coming from the roof, and I climb the ladder to get to them. It bounces with each of my footsteps, but Christina holds it steady for me until I reach the top.

Uriah and Zeke are there, throwing pebbles off the roof and listening for the clatter when they hit the windows. Uriah tries to bump Zeke’s elbow before he throws, to mess him up, but Zeke is too quick for him.

“Hey,” they say in unison when they spot Christina and me.

“Wait, are you guys related or something?” Christina says, grinning. They both laugh, but Uriah looks a little dazed, like he’s not quite connected to this moment or this place. I guess losing someone the way he lost Marlene can do that to a person, though that’s not what it did to me.

There are no slings on the roof for the zip line, and that’s not why we came. I don’t know why the others did, but I wanted to be up high—I wanted to see as far as I could. But all the land west of where I am is black, like it’s draped in a dark blanket. For a moment I think I can make out a glimmer of light on the horizon, but the next it’s gone, just a trick of the eyes.

The others are quiet too. I wonder if we’re all thinking the same thing.

“What do you think’s out there?” Uriah finally says.

Zeke just shrugs, but Christina ventures a guess. “What if it’s just more of the same? Just . . . more crumbling city, more factions, more of everything?”

“Can’t be,” Uriah says, shaking his head. “There has to be something else. ”

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“Or there’s nothing,” Zeke suggests. “Those people who put us all in here, they could just be dead. Everything could be empty. ”

I shiver. I had never thought of that before, but he’s right—we don’t know what’s happened out there since they put us in here, or how many generations have lived and died since they did. We could be the last people left.

“It doesn’t matter,” I say, more sternly than I mean to. “It doesn’t matter what’s out there, we have to see it for ourselves. And then we’ll deal with it once we have. ”

We stand there for a long time. I follow the bumpy edges of buildings with my eyes until all the lit windows smear into a line. Then Uriah asks Christina about the riot, and our still, silent moment passes as if carried away by the wind.

The next day, Evelyn stands among the pieces of Jeanine Matthews’s portrait in the Erudite headquarters lobby and announces a new set of rules. Former faction members and factionless alike are gathered in the space and spilling out into the street to hear what our new leader has to say, and factionless soldiers line the walls, their fingers poised over the triggers of their guns. Keeping us under control.

“Yesterday’s events made it clear that we are no longer able to trust each other,” she says. She looks ashen and exhausted. “We will be introducing more structure into everyone’s lives until our situation is more stable. The first of these measures is a curfew: Everyone is required to return to their assigned living spaces at nine o’clock at night. They will not leave those spaces until eight o’clock the next morning. Guards will be patrolling the streets at all hours to keep us safe. ”

I snort and try to cover it up with a cough. Christina elbows me in the side and touches her finger to her lips. I don’t know why she cares—it’s not like Evelyn can hear me from all the way at the front of the room.

Tori, former leader of Dauntless, ousted by Evelyn herself, stands a few feet away from me, her arms crossed. Her mouth twitches into a sneer.

“It’s also time to prepare for our new, factionless way of life. Starting today, everyone will begin to learn the jobs the factionless have done for as long as we can remember. We will then all do those jobs on a rotation schedule, in addition to the other duties that have traditionally been performed by the factions. ” Evelyn smiles without really smiling. I don’t know how she does it. “We will all contribute equally to our new city, as it should be. The factions have divided us, but now we will be united. Now, and forever. ”

All around me the factionless cheer. I just feel uneasy. I don’t disagree with her, exactly, but the same faction members who rose up against Edward yesterday won’t remain quiet after this, either. Evelyn’s hold on this city is not as strong as she might like.

I don’t want to wrestle with the crowds after Evelyn’s announcement, so I weave through the hallways until I find one of the staircases in the back, the one we climbed to reach Jeanine’s laboratory not too long ago. The steps were crowded with bodies then. Now they are clean and cool, like nothing ever happened here.

As I walk past the fourth floor, I hear a yell, and some scuffling sounds. I open the door to a cluster of people—young, younger than I am, and all sporting factionless armbands—gathered around a young man on the ground.

Not just a young man—a Candor, dressed in black and white from head to toe.

I run toward them, and when I see a tall factionless girl draw back her foot to kick again, I shout, “Hey!”

No use—the kick hits the Candor boy in the side, and he groans, twisting away from it.

“Hey!” I yell again, and this time the girl turns. She’s much taller than I am—a good six inches, in fact—but I’m only angry, not afraid.

“Back up,” I say. “Back away from him. ”

“He’s in violation of the dress code. I’m well within my rights, and I don’t take orders from faction lovers,” she says, her eyes on the ink creeping over my collarbone.

“Becks,” the factionless boy beside her says. “That’s the Prior video girl. ”

The others look impressed, but the girl just sneers. “So?”

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“So,” I say, “I had to hurt a lot of people to get through Dauntless initiation, and I’ll do it to you, too, if I have to. ”

I unzip my blue sweatshirt and toss it at the Candor boy, who looks at me from the ground, blood streaming from his eyebrow. He pushes himself up, still holding his side with one hand, and pulls the sweatshirt around his shoulders like a blanket.

“There,” I say. “Now he’s not violating the dress code. ”

The girl tests the situation in her mind, evaluating whether she wants to fight me or not. I can practically hear what she’s thinking—I’m small, so I’m an easy target, but I’m Dauntless, so I’m not that easy to beat. Maybe she knows that I’ve killed people, or maybe she just doesn’t want to get into trouble, but she’s losing her nerve; I can tell by the uncertain set of her mouth.

“You’d better watch your back,” she says.

“I guarantee you that I don’t need to,” I say. “Now get out of here. ”

I stay just long enough to see them scatter, then keep walking. The Candor boy calls, “Wait! Your sweatshirt!”

“Keep it!” I call back.

I turn a corner that I think will take me to another staircase, but I end up in another blank hallway, just like the last one I was in. I think I hear footsteps behind me, and I spin around, ready to fight the factionless girl off, but there’s no one there.

I must be getting paranoid.

I open one of the doors off the main corridor, hoping to find a window so I can reorient myself, but I find only a ransacked laboratory, beakers and test tubes scattered across each counter. Torn pieces of paper litter the floor, and I’m bending to pick one up when the lights shut off.

I lunge toward the door. A hand grabs my arm and drags me to the side. Someone shoves a sack over my head while someone else pushes me against the wall. I thrash against them, struggling with the fabric covering my face, and all I can think is, Not again not again not again. I twist one arm free and punch, hitting someone in a shoulder or a chin, I can’t tell.

“Hey!” a voice says. “That hurt!”

“We’re sorry for frightening you, Tris,” another voice says, “but anonymity is integral to our operation. We mean you no harm. ”

“Let go of me, then!” I say, almost growling. All the hands holding me to the wall fall away.

“Who are you?” I demand.

“We are the Allegiant,” the voice replies. “And we are many, yet we are no one. . . . ”

I can’t help it: I laugh. Maybe it’s the shock—or the fear, my pounding heart slowing by the second, my hands shaking with relief.

The voice continues, “We have heard that you are not loyal to Evelyn Johnson and her factionless lackeys. ”

“This is ridiculous. ”

“Not as ridiculous as trusting someone with your identity when you don’t have to. ”

I try to see through the fibers of whatever is over my head, but they are too dense and it is too dark. I try to relax against the wall, but it’s difficult without my vision to orient me. I crush the side of a beaker under my shoe.

“No, I’m not loyal to her,” I say. “Why does that matter?”

“Because it means you want to leave,” the voice says. I feel a prickle of excitement. “We want to ask you for a favor, Tris Prior. We’re going to have a meeting tomorrow night, at midnight. We want you to bring your Dauntless friends. ”

“Okay,” I say. “Let me ask you this: If I’m going to see who you are tomorrow, why is it so important to keep this thing over my head today?”

This seems to temporarily stump whoever I’m talking to.

“A day contains many dangers,” the voice says. “We’ll see you tomorrow, at midnight, in the place where you made your confession. ”

All at once, the door swings open, blowing the sack against my cheeks, and I hear running footsteps down the hallway. By the time I’m able to pull the sack from my head, the corridor is silent. I look down at it—it’s a dark-blue pillowcase with the words “Faction before blood” painted on it.

Whoever they are, they certainly have a flair for the dramatic.

The place where you made your confession.

There’s only one place that could be: Candor headquarters, where I succumbed to the truth serum.

When I finally make it back to the dormitory that evening, I find a note from Tobias tucked under the glass of water on my bedside table.

VI—

Your brother’s trial will be tomorrow morning, and it will be private. I can’t go or I’ll raise suspicion, but I’ll get you the verdict as soon as possible. Then we can make some kind of plan.

No matter what, this will be over soon.

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