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I can feel it as I walk the cafeteria line with my tray, and see it in the huddled heads of a group of factionless as they lean over their oatmeal. Whatever is about to happen will happen soon.

Yesterday when I left Evelyn’s office I lingered in the hallway to eavesdrop on her next meeting. Before she closed the door, I heard her say something about a demonstration. The question that is itching at the back of my mind is: Why didn’t she tell me?

She must not trust me. That means I’m not doing as good a job as her pretend right-hand man as I think I am.

I sit down with the same breakfast as everyone else: a bowl of oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar on it, and a mug of coffee. I watch the group of factionless as I spoon it into my mouth without tasting it. One of them—a girl, maybe fourteen—keeps flicking her eyes toward the clock.

I’m halfway done with breakfast when I hear the shouts. The nervy factionless girl jolts from her seat as if stuck with a live wire, and they all start toward the door. I am right behind them, elbowing my way past slow-movers through the lobby of Erudite headquarters, where the portrait of Jeanine Matthews still lies in shreds on the floor.

A group of factionless has already gathered outside, in the middle of Michigan Avenue. A layer of pale clouds covers the sun, making the daylight hazy and dull. I hear someone shout, “Death to the factions!” and others pick up the phrase, turning it into a chant, until it fills my ears, Death to the factions, death to the factions. I see their fists in the air, like excitable Dauntless, but without the Dauntless joy. Their faces are twisted with rage.

I push toward the middle of the group, and then I see what they’re all gathered around: The huge, man-sized faction bowls from the Choosing Ceremony are turned on their sides, their contents spilling across the road, coals and glass and stone and earth and water all mingling together.

I remember slicing into my palm to add my blood to the coals, my first act of defiance against my father. I remember the surge of power inside me, and the rush of relief. Escape. These bowls were my escape.

Edward stands among them, shards of glass ground to dust beneath his heel, a sledgehammer held above his head. He brings it down on one of the overturned bowls, forcing a dent into the metal. Coal dust rises into the air.

I have to stop myself from running at him. He can’t destroy it, not that bowl, not the Choosing Ceremony, not the symbol of my triumph. Those things should not be destroyed.

The crowd is swelling, not just with factionless wearing black armbands with empty white circles on them, but with people from every former faction, their arms bare. An Erudite man—his faction still indicated by his neatly parted hair—bursts free of the crowd just as Edward is pulling back the sledgehammer for another swing. He wraps his soft, ink-smudged hands around the handle, just above Edward’s, and they push into each other, teeth gritted.

I see a blond head across the crowd—Tris, wearing a loose blue shirt without sleeves, showing the edges of the faction tattoos on her shoulders. She tries to run to Edward and the Erudite man, but Christina stops her with both hands.

The Erudite man’s face turns purple. Edward is taller and stronger than he is. He has no chance; he’s a fool for trying. Edward rips the sledgehammer handle from the Erudite man’s hands and swings again. But he’s off balance, dizzy with rage—the sledgehammer hits the Erudite man in the shoulder at full force, metal cracking bone.

For a moment all I hear is the Erudite man’s screams. It’s like everyone is taking a breath.

Then the crowd explodes into a frenzy, everyone running toward the bowls, toward Edward, toward the Erudite man. They collide with one another and then with me, shoulders and elbows and heads hitting me over and over again.

I don’t know where to run: to the Erudite man, to Edward, to Tris? I can’t think; I can’t breathe. The crowd carries me toward Edward, and I grab his arm.

“Let go!” I shout over the noise. His single bright eye fixes on me, and he bares his teeth, trying to wrench himself away.

I bring my knee up, into his side. He stumbles back, losing his grip on the sledgehammer. I hold it close to my leg and start toward Tris.

She is somewhere in front of me, struggling toward the Erudite man. I watch as a woman’s elbow hits her in the cheek, sending her reeling backward. Christina shoves the woman away.

Then a gun goes off. Once, twice. Three times.

The crowd scatters, everyone running in terror from the threat of bullets, and I try to see who, if anyone, was shot, but the rush of bodies is too intense. I can barely see anything.

Tris and Christina crouch next to the Erudite man with the shattered shoulder. His face is bloody and his clothes are dirty with footprints. His combed Erudite hair is tousled. He isn’t moving.

A few feet away from him, Edward lies in a pool of his own blood. The bullet hit him in the gut. There are other people on the ground too, people I don’t recognize, people who got trampled or shot. I suspect the bullets were meant for Edward and Edward alone—the others were just bystanders.

I look around wildly but I don’t see the shooter. Whoever it was seems to have dissolved into the crowd.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I drop the sledgehammer next to the dented bowl and kneel beside Edward, Abnegation stones digging into my kneecaps. His remaining eye moves back and forth beneath his eyelid—he’s alive, for now.

“We have to get him to the hospital,” I say to whoever is listening. Almost everyone is gone.

I look over my shoulder at Tris and the Erudite man, who hasn’t moved. “Is he . . . ?”

Her fingers are on his throat, taking his pulse, and her eyes are wide and empty. She shakes her head. No, he is not alive. I didn’t think he was.

I close my eyes. The faction bowls are printed on my eyelids, tipped on their sides, their contents in a pile on the street. The symbols of our old way of life, destroyed—a man dead, others injured—and for what?

For nothing. For Evelyn’s empty, narrow vision: a city where factions are wrenched away from people against their will.

She wanted us to have more than five choices. Now we have none.

I know for sure, then, that I can’t be her ally, and I never could have.

“We have to go,” Tris says, and I know she’s not talking about leaving Michigan Avenue or taking Edward to the hospital; she’s talking about the city.

“We have to go,” I repeat.

The makeshift hospital at Erudite headquarters smells like chemicals, almost gritty in my nose. I close my eyes as I wait for Evelyn.

I’m so angry I don’t even want to sit here, I just want to pack up my things and leave. She must have planned that demonstration, or she wouldn’t have known about it the day before, and she must have known that it would get out of control, with tensions running as high as they are. But she did it anyway. Making a big statement about the factions was more important to her than safety or the potential loss of lives. I don’t know why that surprises me.

I hear the elevator doors slide open, and her voice: “Tobias!”

She rushes toward me and seizes my hands, which are sticky with blood. Her dark eyes are wide with fear as she says, “Are you hurt?”

She’s worried about me. The thought is a little pinprick of heat inside me—she must love me, to worry about me. She must still be capable of love.

“The blood is Edward’s. I helped carry him here. ”

“How is he?” she says.

I shake my head. “Dead. ”

I don’t know how else to say it.

She shrinks back, releasing my hands, and sits on one of the waiting room chairs. My mother embraced Edward after he defected from Dauntless. She must have taught him to be a warrior again, after the loss of his eye and his faction and his footing. I never knew they were so close, but I can see it now, in the gleam of tears in her eyes and the trembling of her fingers. It’s the most emotion I’ve seen her show since I was a child, since my father slammed her into our living room walls.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I press the memory away as if stuffing it into a drawer that is too small for it.

“I’m sorry,” I say. I don’t know if I really mean it or if I’m just saying it so she still thinks I’m on her side. Then I add tentatively, “Why didn’t you tell me about the demonstration?”

She shakes her head. “I didn’t know about it. ”

She’s lying. I know. I decide to let her. In order to stay on her good side, I have to avoid conflict with her. Or maybe I just don’t want to press the issue with Edward’s death looming over both of us. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell where strategy ends and sympathy for her begins.

“Oh. ” I scratch behind my ear. “You can go in and see him, if you want. ”

“No. ” She seems far away. “I know what bodies look like. ” Drifting further.

“Maybe I should go. ”

“Stay,” she says. She touches the empty chair between us. “Please. ”

I take the seat beside her, and though I tell myself that I am just an undercover agent obeying his supposed leader, I feel like I am a son comforting his grieving mother.

We sit with our shoulders touching, our breaths falling into the same rhythm, and we don’t say a word.

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