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CHAPTER THREE

TRIS

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“I THINK YOU’RE all idiots. ” My hands are curled in my lap like a sleeping child’s. My body is heavy with truth serum. Sweat collects on my eyelids. “You should be thanking me, not questioning me. ”

“We should thank you for defying the instructions of your faction leaders? Thank you for trying to prevent one of your faction leaders from killing Jeanine Matthews? You behaved like a traitor. ” Evelyn Johnson spits the word like a snake. We are in the conference room in Erudite headquarters, where the trials have been taking place. I have now been a prisoner for at least a week.

I see Tobias, half-hidden in the shadows behind his mother. He has kept his eyes averted since I sat in the chair and they cut the strip of plastic binding my wrists together. For just for a moment, his eyes touch mine, and I know it’s time to start lying.

It’s easier now that I know I can do it. As easy as pushing the weight of the truth serum aside in my mind.

“I am not a traitor,” I say. “At the time I believed that Marcus was working under Dauntless-factionless orders. Since I couldn’t join the fight as a soldier, I was happy to help with something else. ”

“Why couldn’t you be a soldier?” Fluorescent light glows behind Evelyn’s hair. I can’t see her face, and I can’t focus on anything for more than a second before the truth serum threatens to pull me down again.

“Because. ” I bite my lip, as if trying to stop the words from rushing out. I don’t know when I became so good at acting, but I guess it’s not that different from lying, which I have always had a talent for. “Because I couldn’t hold a gun, okay? Not after shooting . . . him. My friend Will. I couldn’t hold a gun without panicking. ”

Evelyn’s eyes pinch tighter. I suspect that even in the softest parts of her, there is no sympathy for me.

“So Marcus told you he was working under my orders,” she says, “and even knowing what you do about his rather tense relationship with both the Dauntless and the factionless, you believed him?”

“Yes. ”

“I can see why you didn’t choose Erudite. ” She laughs.

My cheeks tingle. I would like to slap her, as I’m sure many of the people in this room would, though they wouldn’t dare to admit it. Evelyn has us all trapped in the city, controlled by armed factionless patrolling the streets. She knows that whoever holds the guns holds the power. And with Jeanine Matthews dead, there is no one left to challenge her for it.

From one tyrant to another. That is the world we know, now.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone about this?” she says.

“I didn’t want to have to admit to any weakness,” I say. “And I didn’t want Four to know I was working with his father. I knew he wouldn’t like it. ” I feel new words rising in my throat, prompted by the truth serum. “I brought you the truth about our city and the reason we are in it. If you aren’t thanking me for it, you should at least do something about it instead of sitting here on this mess you made, pretending it’s a throne!”

Evelyn’s mocking smile twists like she has just tasted something unpleasant. She leans in close to my face, and I see for the first time how old she is; I see the lines that frame her eyes and mouth, and the unhealthy pallor she wears from years of eating far too little. Still, she is handsome like her son. Near-starvation could not take that.

“I am doing something about it. I am making a new world,” she says, and her voice gets even quieter, so that I can barely hear her. “I was Abnegation. I have known the truth far longer than you have, Beatrice Prior. I don’t know how you’re getting away with this, but I promise you, you will not have a place in my new world, especially not with my son. ”

I smile a little. I shouldn’t, but it’s harder to suppress gestures and expressions than words, with this weight in my veins. She believes that Tobias belongs to her now. She doesn’t know the truth, that he belongs to himself.

Evelyn straightens, folding her arms.

“The truth serum has revealed that while you may be a fool, you are no traitor. This interrogation is over. You may leave. ”

“What about my friends?” I say sluggishly. “Christina, Cara. They didn’t do anything wrong either. ”

“We will deal with them soon,” Evelyn says.

I stand, though I’m weak and dizzy from the serum. The room is packed with people, shoulder to shoulder, and I can’t find the exit for a few long seconds, until someone takes my arm, a boy with warm brown skin and a wide smile—Uriah. He guides me to the door. Everyone starts talking.

Uriah leads me down the hallway to the elevator bank. The elevator doors spring open when he touches the button, and I follow him in, still not steady on my feet. When the doors close, I say, “You don’t think the part about the mess and the throne was too much?”

“No. She expects you to be hotheaded. She might have been suspicious if you hadn’t been. ”

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I feel like everything inside me is vibrating with energy, in anticipation of what is to come. I am free. We’re going to find a way out of the city. No more waiting, pacing a cell, demanding answers that I won’t get from the guards.

The guards did tell me a few things about the new factionless order this morning. Former faction members are required to move closer to Erudite headquarters and mix, no more than four members of a particular faction in each dwelling. We have to mix our clothing, too. I was given a yellow Amity shirt and black Candor pants earlier as a result of that particular edict.

“All right, we’re this way. . . . ” Uriah leads me out of the elevator. This floor of Erudite headquarters is all glass, even the walls. Sunlight refracts through it and casts slivers of rainbows across the floor. I shield my eyes with one hand and follow Uriah to a long, narrow room with beds on either side. Next to each bed is a glass cabinet for clothes and books, and a small table.

“It used to be the Erudite initiate dormitory,” Uriah says. “I reserved beds for Christina and Cara already. ”

Sitting on a bed near the door are three girls in red shirts—Amity girls, I would guess—and on the left side of the room, an older woman lies on one of the beds, her spectacles dangling from one ear—possibly one of the Erudite. I know I should try to stop putting people in factions when I see them, but it’s an old habit, hard to break.

Uriah falls on one of the beds in the back corner. I sit on the one next to his, glad to be free and at rest, finally.

“Zeke says it sometimes takes a little while for the factionless to process exonerations, so they should be out later,” Uriah says.

For a moment I feel relieved that everyone I care about will be out of prison by tonight. But then I remember that Caleb is still there, because he was a well-known lackey of Jeanine Matthews, and the factionless will never exonerate him. But just how far they will go to destroy the mark Jeanine Matthews left on this city, I don’t know.

I don’t care, I think. But even as I think it, I know it’s a lie. He’s still my brother.

“Good,” I say. “Thanks, Uriah. ”

He nods, and leans his head against the wall to prop it up.

“How are you?” I say. “I mean . . . Lynn . . . ”

Uriah had been friends with Lynn and Marlene as long as I’d known them, and now both of them are dead. I feel like I might be able to understand—after all, I’ve lost two friends too, Al to the pressures of initiation and Will to the attack simulation and my own hasty actions. But I don’t want to pretend that our suffering is the same. For one thing, Uriah knew his friends better than I did.

“I don’t want to talk about it. ” Uriah shakes his head. “Or think about it. I just want to keep moving. ”

“Okay. I understand. Just . . . let me know if you need . . . ”

“Yeah. ” He smiles at me and gets up. “You’re okay here, right? I told my mom I’d visit tonight, so I have to go soon. Oh—almost forgot to tell you—Four said he wants to meet you later. ”

I pull up straighter. “Really? When? Where?”

“A little after ten, at Millennium Park. On the lawn. ” He smirks. “Don’t get too excited, your head will explode. ”

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