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ERUDITE AND DAUNTLESS forces are concentrated in the Abnegation sector of the city, so as long as we run away from the Abnegation sector, we are less likely to encounter difficulty.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I didn’t get to decide who is coming with me. Caleb was the obvious choice, since he knows the most about the Erudite plan. Marcus insisted that he go, despite my protests, because he is good with computers. And my father acted like his place was assumed from the beginning.
I watch the others run in the opposite direction—toward safety, toward Amity—for a few seconds, and then I turn away, toward the city, toward the war. We stand next to the railroad tracks, which will carry us into danger.
“What time is it?” I ask Caleb.
He checks his watch. “Three twelve. ”
“Should be here any second,” I say.
“Will it stop?” he asks.
I shake my head. “It goes slowly through the city. We’ll run next to the car for a few feet and then climb inside. ”
Jumping on trains seems easy to me now, natural. It won’t be as easy for the rest of them, but we can’t stop now. I look over my left shoulder and see the headlights burning gold against the gray buildings and roads. I bounce on the balls of my feet as the lights grow larger and larger, and then the front of the train glides past me, and I start jogging. When I see an open car, I pick up my pace to keep stride with it and grab the handle on the left, swinging myself inside.
Caleb jumps, landing hard and rolling on his side to get in, and he helps Marcus. My father lands on his stomach, pulling his legs in behind him. They move away from the doorway, but I stand on the edge with one hand on a handle, watching the city pass.
If I were Jeanine, I would send the majority of Dauntless soldiers to the Dauntless entrance above the Pit, outside the glass building. It would be smarter to go in the back entrance, the one that requires jumping off a building.
“I assume you now regret choosing Dauntless,” Marcus says.
I am surprised my father didn’t ask that question, but he, like me, is watching the city. The train passes the Erudite compound, which is dark now. It looks peaceful from a distance, and inside those walls, it probably is peaceful. Far removed from the conflict and the reality of what they have done.
I shake my head.
“Not even after your faction’s leaders decided to join in a plot to overthrow the government?” Marcus spits.
“There were some things I needed to learn. ”
“How to be brave?” my father says quietly.
“How to be selfless,” I say. “Often they’re the same thing. ”
“Is that why you got Abnegation’s symbol tattooed on your shoulder?” Caleb asks. I am almost sure that I see a smile in my father’s eyes.
I smile faintly back and nod. “And Dauntless on the other. ”
The glass building above the Pit reflects sunlight into my eyes. I stand, holding the handle next to the door for balance. Almost there.
“When I tell you to jump,” I say, “you jump, as far as you can. ”
“Jump?” Caleb asks. “We’re seven stories up, Tris. ”
“Onto a roof,” I add. Seeing the stunned look on his face, I say, “That’s why they call it a test of bravery. ”
Half of bravery is perspective. The first time I did this, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Now, preparing to jump off a moving train is nothing, because I have done more difficult things in the past few weeks than most people will in a lifetime. And yet none of it compares to what I am about to do in the Dauntless compound. If I survive, I will undoubtedly go on to do far more difficult things than even that, like live without a faction, something I never imagined possible.
“Dad, you go,” I say, stepping back so he can stand by the edge. If he and Marcus go first, I can time it so they have to jump the shortest distance. Hopefully Caleb and I can jump far enough to make it, because we’re younger. It’s a chance I have to take.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
The train tracks curve, and when they line up with the edge of the roof, I shout, “Jump!”
My father bends his knees and launches himself forward. I don’t wait to see if he makes it. I shove Marcus forward and shout, “Jump!”
My father lands on the roof, so close to the edge that I gasp. He sits down on the gravel, and I push Caleb in front of me. He stands at the edge of the train car and jumps without me having to tell him to. I take a few steps back to give myself a running start and leap out of the car just as the train reaches the end of the roof.
For an instant I am suspended in nothingness, and then my feet slam into cement and I stumble to the side, away from the roof’s edge. My knees ache, and the impact shudders through my body, making my shoulder throb. I sit down, breathing hard, and look across the rooftop. Caleb and my father stand at the edge of the roof, their hands around Marcus’s arms. He didn’t make it, but he hasn’t fallen yet.
Somewhere inside me, a vicious voice chants: fall, fall, fall.
But he doesn’t. My father and Caleb haul him onto the roof. I stand up, brushing gravel off my pants. The thought of what comes next has me preoccupied. It is one thing to ask people to jump off a train, but a roof?
“This next part is why I asked about fear of heights,” I say, walking to the edge of the roof. I hear their shuffling footsteps behind me and step onto the ledge. Wind rushes up the side of the building and lifts my shirt from my skin. I stare down at the hole in the ground, seven stories below me, and then close my eyes as the air blows over my face.
“There’s a net at the bottom,” I say, looking over my shoulder. They look confused. They haven’t figured out what I am asking them to do yet.
“Don’t think,” I say. “Just jump. ”
I turn, and as I turn, I lean back, compromising my balance. I drop like a stone, my eyes closed, one arm outstretched to feel the wind. I relax my muscles as much as I can before I hit the net, which feels like a slab of cement hitting my shoulder. I grit my teeth and roll to the edge, grabbing the pole that supports the net, and swing my leg over the side. I land on my knees on the platform, my eyes blurry with tears.
Caleb yelps as the net curls around his body and then straightens. I stand with some difficulty.
“Caleb!” I hiss. “Over here!”
Breathing heavily, Caleb crawls to the side of the net and drops over the edge, hitting the platform hard. Wincing, he pushes himself to his feet and stares at me, his mouth open.
“How many times…have you…done that?” he asks between breaths.
“Twice now,” I say.
He shakes his head.
When my father hits the net, Caleb helps him across. When he stands on the platform, he leans and vomits over the side. I descend the stairs, and when I get to the bottom, I hear Marcus hit the net with a groan.
The cavern is empty and the hallways stretch into darkness.
Jeanine made it sound like there was no one left in the Dauntless compound except the soldiers she sent back to guard the computers. If we can find Dauntless soldiers, we can find the computers. I look over my shoulder. Marcus stands on the platform, white as a sheet but unharmed.
“So this is the Dauntless compound,” says Marcus.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Yes,” I say. “And?”
“And I never thought I would get to see it,” he replies, his hand skimming a wall. “No need to be so defensive, Beatrice. ”
I never noticed how cold his eyes were before.
“Do you have a plan, Beatrice?” my father says.
“Yes. ” And it’s true. I do, though I’m not sure when I developed it.
I’m also not sure it will work. I can count on a few things: There aren’t many Dauntless in the compound, the Dauntless aren’t known for their subtlety, and I’ll do anything to stop them.
We walk down the hallway that leads to the Pit, which is striped with light every ten feet. When we walk into the first patch of light, I hear a gunshot and drop to the ground. Someone must have seen us. I crawl into the next dark patch. The spark from the gun flashed across the room by the door that leads to the Pit.
“Everyone okay?” I ask.
“Yes,” my father says.
“Stay here, then. ”
I run to the side of the room. The lights protrude from the wall, so directly beneath each one is a slit of shadow. I am small enough to hide in it, if I turn to the side. I can creep along the edge of the room and surprise whatever guard is shooting at us before he gets the chance to fire a bullet into my brain. Maybe.
One of the things I thank Dauntless for is the preparedness that eliminates my fear.
“Whoever’s there,” a voice shouts, “surrender your weapons and put your hands up!”
I turn to the side and press my back to the stone wall. I shuffle quickly sideways, one foot crossing over the other, squinting to see through the semidarkness. Another gunshot fires into silence. I reach the last light and stand for a moment in shadow, letting my eyes adjust.
I can’t win a fight, but if I can move fast enough, I won’t have to fight. My footsteps light, I walk toward the guard who stands by the door. A few yards away, I realize that I know that dark hair that always gleams, even in relative darkness, and that long nose with a narrow bridge.
Cold slips over my skin and around my heart and into the pit of my stomach.
His face is tense—he isn’t a sleepwalker. He looks around, but his eyes search the air above me and beyond me. Judging by his silence, he does not intend to negotiate with us; he will kill us without question.
I lick my lips, sprint the last few steps, and thrust the heel of my hand up. The blow connectswith his nose, and he shouts, bringing both hands up to cover his face. My body jolts with nervous energy and as his eyes squint, I kick him in the groin. He drops to his knees, his gun clattering to the ground. I grab it and press the barrel to the top of his head.
“How are you awake?” I demand.
He lifts his head, and I click the bullet into its chamber, raising an eyebrow at him.
“The Dauntless leaders…they evaluated my records and removed me from the simulation,” he says.
“Because they figured out that you already have murderous tendencies and wouldn’t mind killing a few hundred people while conscious,” I say. “Makes sense. ”
“I never knew a Candor who was such a liar. ” I tap the gun against his skull. “Where are the computers that control the simulation, Peter?”
“You won’t shoot me. ”
“People tend to overestimate my character,” I say quietly. “They think that because I’m small, or a girl, or a Stiff, I can’t possibly be cruel. But they’re wrong. ”
I shift the gun three inches to the left and fire at his arm.
His screams fill the hallway. Blood spurts from the wound, and he screams again, pressing his forehead to the ground. I shift the gun back to his head, ignoring the pang of guilt in my chest.
“Now that you realize your mistake,” I say, “I will give you another chance to tell me what I need to know before I shoot you somewhere worse. ”
Another thing I can count on: Peter is not selfless.
He turns his head and focuses a bright eye on me. His teeth close over his lower lip, and his breaths shake on the way out. And on the way in. And on the way out again.
“They’re listening,” he spits. “If you don’t kill me, they will. The only way I’ll tell you is if you get me out of here. ”
“Take me…ahh…with you,” he says, wincing.
“You want me to take you,” I say, “the person who tried to kill me…with me?”
“I do,” he groans. “If you expect to find out what you need to know. ”
It feels like a choice, but it isn’t. Every minute that I waste staring at Peter, thinking about how he haunts my nightmares and the damage he did to me, another dozen Abnegation members die at the hands of the brain-dead Dauntless army.
“Fine,” I say, almost choking on the word. “Fine. ”
I hear footsteps behind me. Holding the gun steady, I look over my shoulder. My father and the others walk toward us.
My father takes off his long-sleeved shirt. He wears a gray T-shirt beneath it. He crouches next to Peter and loops the fabric around his arm, tying it tightly. As he presses the fabric to the blood running down Peter’s arm, he looks up at me and says, “Was it really necessary to shoot him?”
I don’t answer.
“Sometimes pain is for the greater good,” says Marcus calmly.
In my head, I see him standing before Tobias with a belt in hand and hear his voice echo. This is for your own good. I look at him for a few seconds. Does he really believe that? It sounds like something the Dauntless would say.
“Let’s go,” I say. “Get up, Peter. ”
“You want him to walk?” Caleb demands. “Are you insane?”
“Did I shoot him in the leg?” I say. “No. He walks. Where do we go, Peter?”
Caleb helps Peter to his feet.
“The glass building,” he says, wincing. “Eighth floor. ”
He leads the way through the door.
I walk into the roar of the river and the blue glow of the Pit, which is emptier now than I have ever seen it before. I scan the walls, searching for signs of life, but I see no movement and no figures standing in darkness. I keep my gun in hand and start toward the path that leads to the glass ceiling. The emptiness makes me shiver. It reminds me of the endless field in my crow nightmares.
“What makes you think you have the right to shoot someone?” my father says as he follows me up the path. We pass the tattoo place. Where is Tori now? And Christina?
“Now isn’t the time for debates about ethics,” I say.
“Now is the perfect time,” he says, “because you will soon get the opportunity to shoot someone again, and if you don’t realize—”
“Realize what?” I say without turning around. “That every second I waste means another Abnegation dead and another Dauntless made into a murderer? I’ve realized that. Now it’s your turn. ”
“There is a right way to do things. ”
“What makes you so sure that you know what it is?” I say.
“Please stop fighting,” Caleb interrupts, his voice chiding. “We have more important things to do right now. ”
I keep climbing, my cheeks hot. A few months ago I would not have dared to snap at my father. A few hours ago I might not have done it either. But something changed when they shot my mother. When they took Tobias.
I hear my father huff and puff over the sound of rushing water. I forgot that he is older than I am, that his frame can no longer tolerate the weight of his body.
Before I ascend the metal stairs that will carry me above the glass ceiling, I wait in darkness and watch the light cast on the Pit walls by the sun. I watch until a shadow shifts over the sunlit wall and count until the next shadow appears. The guards make their rounds every minute and a half, stand for twenty seconds, and then move on.
“There are men with guns up there. When they see me, they will kill me, if they can,” I tell my father quietly. I search his eyes. “Should I let them?”
He stares at me for a few seconds.
“Go,” he says, “and God help you. ”
I climb the stairs carefully, stopping just before my head emerges. I wait, watching the shadows move, and when one of them stops, I step up, point my gun, and shoot.
The bullet does not hit the guard. It shatters the window behind him. I fire again and duck as bullets hit the floor around me with a ding. Thank God the glass ceiling is bulletproof, or the glass would break and I would fall to my death.
One guard down. I breathe deeply and put just my hand over the ceiling, looking through the glass to see my target. I tilt the gun back and fire at the guard running toward me. The bullethits him in the arm. Luckily it is his shooting arm, because he drops his gun and it skids across the floor.
My body shaking, I launch myself through the hole in the ceiling and snatch the fallen gun before he can get to it. A bullet whizzes past my head, so close to hitting me that it moves my hair. Eyes wide, I fling my right arm over my shoulder, forcing a searing pain through my body, and fire three times behind me. By some miracle, one of the bullets hits a guard, and my eyes water uncontrollably from the pain in my shoulder. I just ripped my stitches. I’m sure of it.
Another guard stands across from me. I lie flat on my stomach and point both guns at him, my arms resting on the floor. I stare into the black pinprick that is his gun barrel.
Then something surprising happens. He jerks his chin to the side. Telling me to go.
He must be Divergent.
“All clear!” I shout.
The guard ducks into the fear landscape room, and he’s gone.
Slowly I get to my feet, holding my right arm against my chest. I have tunnel vision. I am running along this path and I will not be able to stop, will not be able to think of anything, until I reach the end.
I hand one gun to Caleb and slide the other one under my belt.
“I think you and Marcus should stay here with him,” I say, jerking my head toward Peter. “He’ll just slow us down. Make sure no one comes after us. ”
I hope he doesn’t understand what I’m doing—keeping him here so he stays safe, even though he would gladly give his life for this. If I go up into the building, I probably won’t come backdown. The best I can hope for is to destroy the simulation before someone kills me. When did I decide on this suicide mission? Why wasn’t it more difficult?
“I can’t stay here while you go up there and risk your life,” says Caleb.
“I need you to,” I say.
Peter sinks to his knees. His face glistens with sweat. For a second I almost feel bad for him, but then I remember Edward, and the itch of fabric over my eyes as my attackers blindfolded me, and my sympathy is lost to hatred. Caleb eventually nods.
I approach one of the fallen guards and take his gun, keeping my eyes away from the injury that killed him. My head pounds. I haven’t eaten; I haven’t slept; I haven’t sobbed or screamed or even paused for a moment. I bite my lip and push myself toward the elevators on the right side of the room. Level eight.
Once the elevator doors close, I lean the side of my head against the glass and listen to the beeps.
I glance at my father.
“Thank you. For protecting Caleb,” my father says. “Beatrice, I—”
The elevator reaches the eighth floor and the doors open. Two guards stand ready with guns in hand, their faces blank. My eyes widen, and I drop to my belly on the ground as the shots go off. I hear bullets strike glass. The guards slump to the ground, one alive and groaning, the other fading fast. My father stands above them, his gun still held out from his body.
I stumble to my feet. Guards run down the hallway on the left. Judging by the synchronicity of their footsteps, they are controlled by the simulation. I could run down the right hallway, but if the guards came from the left hallway, that’s where the computers are. I drop to the ground between the guards my father just shot and lie as still as I can.
My father jumps out of the elevator and sprints down the right hallway, drawing the Dauntless guards after him. I clap my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming at him. That hallway will end.
I try to bury my head so I don’t see it, but I can’t. I peer over the fallen guard’s back. My father fires over his shoulder at the guards pursuing him, but he is not fast enough. One of them fires at his stomach, and he groans so loud I can almost feel it in my chest.
He clutches his gut, his shoulders hitting the wall, and fires again. And again. The guards are under the simulation; they keep moving even when the bullets hit them, keep moving until their hearts stop, but they don’t reach my father. Blood spills over his hand and the color drains from his face. Another shot and the last guard is down.
“Dad,” I say. I mean for it to be a shout, but it is just a wheeze.
He slumps to the ground. Our eyes meet like the yards between us are nothing.
His mouth opens like he’s about to say something, but then his chin drops to his chest and his body relaxes.
My eyes burn and I am too weak to rise; the scent of sweat and blood makes me feel sick. I want to rest my head on the ground and let that be the end of it. I want to sleep now and never wake.
But what I said to my father before was right—for every second that I waste, another Abnegation member dies. There is only one thing left for me in the world now, and it is to destroy the simulation.
I push myself up and run down the hallway, turning right at the end. There is only one door ahead. I open it.
The opposite wall is made up entirely of screens, each a foot tall and a foot wide. There are dozens of them, each one showing a different part of the city. The fence. The Hub. The streets in the Abnegation sector, now crawling with Dauntless soldiers. The ground level of the building below us, where Caleb, Marcus, and Peter wait for me to return. It is a wall of everything I have ever seen, everything I have ever known.
One of the screens has a line of code on it instead of an image. It breezes past faster than I can read. It is the simulation, the code already compiled, a complicated list of commands that anticipate and address a thousand different outcomes.
In front of the screen is a chair and a desk. Sitting in the chair is a Dauntless soldier.
“Tobias,” I say.
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