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CHAPTER TWELVE

TOBIAS

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

MY ARM THROBS like a second heartbeat from the bullet graze. Tris’s knuckles brush mine as she lifts her hand to point at something on our right: a series of long, low buildings lit by blue emergency lamps.

“What are those?” Tris says.

“The other greenhouses,” Johanna says. “They don’t require much manpower, but we grow and raise things in large quantities there—animals, raw material for fabric, wheat, and so on. ”

Their panes glow in the starlight, obscuring the treasures I imagine to be inside them, small plants with berries dangling from their branches, rows of potato plants buried in the earth.

“You don’t show them to visitors,” I say. “We never saw them. ”

“Amity keeps a number of secrets,” Johanna says, and she sounds proud.

The road ahead of us is long and straight, marked with cracks and swollen patches. Alongside it are gnarled trees, broken lampposts, old power lines. Every so often, there is an isolated square of sidewalk with weeds forcing their way through the concrete, or a pile of rotting wood, a collapsed dwelling.

The more time I spend thinking about this landscape that every Dauntless patrol was told was normal, the more I see an old city rising up around me, the buildings lower than the ones we left behind, but just as numerous. An old city that was transformed into empty land for the Amity to farm. In other words, an old city that was razed, burned to cinders, and crushed into the ground, even the roads disappearing, the earth left to run wild over the wreckage.

I put my hand out the window, and the wind wraps around my fingers like locks of hair. When I was very young, my mother pretended she could shape things from the wind, and she would give them to me to use, like hammers and nails, or swords, or roller skates. It was a game we played in the evenings, on the front lawn, before Marcus got home. It took away our dread.

In the bed of the truck, behind us, are Caleb, Christina, and Uriah. Christina and Uriah sit close enough for their shoulders to touch, but they are looking in opposite directions, more like strangers than friends. Just behind us is another truck, driven by Robert, which carries Cara and Peter. Tori was supposed to be with them. The thought makes me feel hollow, empty. She administered my aptitude test. She made me think, for the first time, that I could leave Abnegation—that I had to. I feel like I owe her something, and she died before I could give it to her.

“This is it,” Johanna says. “The outer limit of the Dauntless patrols. ”

No fence or wall marks the divide between the Amity compound and the outer world, but I remember monitoring the Dauntless patrols from the control room, making sure they didn’t go farther than the limit, which is marked by a series of signs with Xs on them. The patrols were structured so that the trucks would run out of gas if they went too far, a delicate system of checks and balances that preserved our safety and theirs—and, I now realize, the secret the Abnegation kept.

“Have they ever gone past the limit?” says Tris.

“A few times,” says Johanna. “It was our responsibility to deal with that situation when it came up. ”

Tris gives her a look, and she shrugs.

“Every faction has a serum,” Johanna says. “The Dauntless serum gives hallucinated realities, Candor’s gives the truth, Amity’s gives peace, Erudite’s gives death—” At this, Tris visibly shudders, but Johanna continues as if it didn’t happen. “And Abnegation’s resets memory. ”

“Resets memory?”

“Like Amanda Ritter’s memory,” I say. “She said, ‘There are many things I am happy to forget,’ remember?”

“Yes, exactly,” says Johanna. “The Amity are charged with administering the Abnegationserum to anyone who goes out past the limit, just enough to make them forget the experience. I’m sure some of them have slipped past us, but not many. ”

We are silent then. I turn the information over and over in my mind. There is something deeply wrong with taking a person’s memories—even though I know it was necessary to keep our city safe for as long as it needed to be, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Take a person’s memories, and you change who they are.

Swelling inside me is the feeling that I am about to jump out of my own skin, because the farther we get outside the outer limit of the Dauntless patrols, the closer we get to seeing what lies outside the only world I’ve ever known. I am terrified and thrilled and confused and a hundred different things at once.

I see something up ahead of us, in the light of early morning, and grab Tris’s hand.

“Look,” I say.

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