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CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

TRIS

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I ARRIVE AT David’s office for my first council meeting just as my watch shifts to ten, and he pushes himself into the hallway soon afterward. He looks even paler than he did the last time I saw him, and the dark circles under his eyes are pronounced, like bruises.

“Hello, Tris,” he says. “Eager, are you? You’re right on time. ”

I still feel a little weight in my limbs from the truth serum Cara, Caleb, and Matthew tested on me earlier, as part of our plan. They’re trying to develop a powerful truth serum, one that even GPs as serum-resistant as I am are not immune to. I ignore the heavy feeling and say, “Of course I’m eager. It’s my first meeting. Want help? You look tired. ”

“Fine, fine. ”

I move behind him and press into the handles of the wheelchair to get it moving.

He sighs. “I suppose I am tired. I was up all night dealing with our most recent crisis. Take a left here. ”

“What crisis is that?”

“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough, let’s not rush it. ”

We maneuver through the dim hallways of Terminal 5, as it is labeled—“an old name,” David says—which have no windows, no hint of the world outside. I can almost feel the paranoia emanating from the walls, like the terminal itself is terrified of unfamiliar eyes. If only they knew what my eyes were searching for.

As I walk, I get a glimpse of David’s hands, pressed to the armrests. The skin around his fingernails is raw and red, like he chewed it away overnight. The fingernails themselves are jagged. I remember when my own hands looked that way, when the memories of fear simulations crept into every dream and every idle thought. Maybe it’s David’s memories of the attack that are doing this to him.

I don’t care, I think. Remember what he did. What he would do again.

“Here we are,” David says. I push him through a set of double doors, propped open with doorstops. Most of the council members seem to be there, stirring tiny sticks in tiny cups of coffee, the majority of them men and women David’s age. There are some younger members—Zoe is there, and she gives me a strained, but polite, smile when I walk in.

“Let’s come to order!” David says as he wheels himself to the head of the conference table. I sit in one of the chairs along the edge of the room, next to Zoe. It’s clear we’re not supposed to be at the table with all the important people, and I’m okay with that—it’ll be easier to doze off if things get boring, though if this new crisis is serious enough to keep David awake at night, I doubt it will.

“Last night I received a frantic call from the people in our control room,” David says. “Evidently Chicago is about to erupt into violence again. Faction loyalists calling themselves the Allegiant have rebelled against factionless control, attacking weapons safe houses. What they don’t know is that Evelyn Johnson has discovered a new weapon—stores of death serum kept hidden in Erudite headquarters. As we know, no one is capable of resisting death serum, not even the Divergent. If the Allegiant attack the factionless government, and Evelyn Johnson retaliates, the casualties will obviously be catastrophic. ”

I stare at the floor in front of my feet as the room bursts into conversation.

“Quiet,” says David. “The experiments are already in danger of being shut down if we cannot prove to our superiors that we are capable of controlling them. Another revolution in Chicago would only cement their belief that this endeavor has outlived its usefulness—something we cannot allow to happen if we want to continue to fight genetic damage. ”

Somewhere behind David’s exhausted, haggard expression is something harder, stronger. I believe him. I believe that he will not allow it to happen.

“It’s time to use the memory serum virus for a mass reset,” he says. “And I think we should use it against all four experiments. ”

“Reset them?” I say, because I can’t help myself. Everyone in the room looks at me at once. They seem to have forgotten that I, a former member of the experiments they’re referring to, am in the room.

that had a behavioral modification component, and the last one in Chicago was done a few generations before yours. ” He gives me an odd smile. “Why did you think there was so much physical devastation in the factionless sector? There was an uprising, and we had to quell it as cleanly as possible. ”

I sit stunned in my chair, picturing the broken roads and shattered windows and toppled streetlights in the factionless sector of the city, the destruction that is evident nowhere else—not even north of the bridge, where the buildings are empty but seem to have been vacated peacefully. I always just took the broken-down sectors of Chicago in stride, as evidence of what happens when people are without community. I never dreamed that they were the result of an uprising—and a subsequent resetting.

I feel sick with anger. That they want to stop a revolution, not to save lives, but to save their precious experiment, would be enough. But why do they believe they have the right to rip people’s memories, their identities, out of their heads, just because it’s convenient for them?

But of course, I know the answer to that question. To them, the people in our city are just containers of genetic material—just GDs, valuable for the corrected genes they pass on, and not for the brains in their heads or the hearts in their chests.

“When?” one of the council members says.

“Within the next forty-eight hours,” David says.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

Everyone nods as if this is sensible.

I remember what he said to me in his office. If we are going to win this fight against genetic damage, we will need to make sacrifices. You understand that, don’t you? I should have known, then, that he would gladly trade thousands of GD memories—lives—for control of the experiments. That he would trade them without even thinking of alternatives—without feeling like he needed to bother to save them.

They’re damaged, after all.

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