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I TRY TO get Tobias alone after the rankings are announced, but the crowd of initiates and members is too thick, and the force of their congratulations pulls him away from me. I decide to sneak out of the dormitory after everyone is asleep and find him, but the fear landscape exhausted me more than I realized, so soon enough, I drift off too.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I wake to squeaking mattresses and shuffling feet. It’s too dark for me to see clearly, but as my eyes adjust, I see that Christina is tying her shoelaces. I open my mouth to ask her what she’s doing, but then I notice that across from me, Will is putting on a shirt. Everyone is awake, but everyone is silent.
“Christina,” I hiss. She doesn’t look at me, so I grab her shoulder and shake it. “Christina!”
She just keeps tying her shoelaces.
My stomach squeezes when I see her face. Her eyes are open, but blank, and her facial muscles are slack. She moves without looking at what she’s doing, her mouth half-open, not awake but seeming awake. And everyone else looks just like her.
“Will?” I ask, crossing the room. All the initiates fall into a line when they finish dressing. They start to file silently out of the dormitory. I grab Will’s arm to keep him from leaving, but he moves forward with irrepressible force. I grit my teeth and hold on as hard as I can, digging my heels into the ground. He just drags me along with him.
They are sleepwalkers.
I fumble for my shoes. I can’t stay here alone. I tie my shoes in a hurry, pull on a jacket, and sprint out of the room, catching up to the line of initiates quickly, conforming my pace to theirs. It takes me a few seconds to realize that they move in unison, the same foot forward as the same arm swings back. I mimic them as best I can, but the rhythm feels strange to me.
We march toward the Pit, but when we reach the entrance, the front of the line turns left. Max stands in the hallway, watching us. My heart hammers in my chest and I stare as vacantly as possible ahead of me, focusing on the rhythm of my feet. I tense as I pass him. He’ll notice. He’ll notice I’m not brain-dead like the rest of them and something bad will happen to me, I just know it.
Max’s dark eyes pass right over me.
We climb a flight of stairs and travel at the same rhythm down four corridors. Then the hallway opens up to a huge cavern. Inside it is a crowd of Dauntless.
There are rows of tables with mounds of black on them. I can’t see what the piles are until I am a foot away from them. Guns.
Of course. Eric said every Dauntless was injected yesterday. So now the entire faction is brain-dead, obedient, and trained to kill. Perfect soldiers.
I pick up a gun and a holster and a belt, copying Will, who is directly in front of me. I try to match his movements, but I can’t predict what he’s going to do, so I end up fumbling more than I’d like to. I grit my teeth. I just have to trust that no one is watching me.
Once I’m armed, I follow Will and the other initiates toward the exit.
I can’t wage war against Abnegation, against my family. I would rather die. My fear landscape proved that. My list of options narrows, and I see the path I must take. I will pretend long enough to get to the Abnegation sector of the city. I will save my family. And whatever happens after that doesn’t matter. A blanket of calm settles over me.
The line of initiates passes into a dark hallway. I can’t see Will ahead of me, or anything ahead of him. My foot hits something hard, and I stumble, my hands outstretched. My knee hits something else—a step. I straighten, so tense my teeth are almost chattering. They didn’t see that. It’s too dark. Please let it be too dark.
As the staircase turns, light flows into the cavern, until I can finally see Will’s shoulders in front of me again. I focus on matching my rhythm to his as I reach the top of the stairs, passing another Dauntless leader. Now I know who the Dauntless leaders are, because they are the only people who are awake.
Well, not the only people. I must be awake because I am Divergent. And if I am awake, that means Tobias is too, unless I am wrong about him.
I have to find him.
I stand next to the train tracks in a group that stretches as far as I can see with my peripheral vision. The train is stopped in front of us, every car open. One by one, my fellow initiates climb into the train car in front of us.
I can’t turn my head to scan the crowd for Tobias, but I let my eyes skirt to the side. The faces on my left are unfamiliar, but I see a tall boy with short hair a few yards to my right. It might not be him, and I can’t make sure, but it’s the best chance I have. I don’t know how to get to him without attracting attention. I have to get to him.
The car in front of me fills up, and Will turns toward the next one. I take my cues from him, but instead of stopping where he stops, I slip a few feet to the right. The people around me are all taller than I am; they will shield me. I step to the right again, clenching my teeth. Too much movement. They will catch me. Please don’t catch me.
A blank-faced Dauntless in the next car offers a hand to the boy in front of me, and he takes it, his movements robotic. I take the next hand without looking at it, and climb as gracefully as I can into the car.
I stand facing the person who helped me. My eyes twitch up, just for a second, to see his face. Tobias, as blank-faced as the rest of them. Was I wrong? Is he not Divergent? Tears spark behind my eyes, and I blink them back as I turn away from him.
People crowd into the car around me, so we stand in four rows, shoulder-to-shoulder. And then something peculiar happens: fingers lace with mine, and a palm presses to my palm. Tobias, holding my hand.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
My entire body is alive with energy. I squeeze his hand, and he squeezes back. He is awake. I was right.
I want to look at him, but I force myself to stand still and keep my eyes forward as the train starts to move. He moves his thumb in a slow circle over the back of my hand. It is meant to comfort me, but it frustrates me instead. I need to talk to him. I need to look at him.
I can’t see where the train is going because the girl in front of me is so tall, so I stare at the back of her head and focus on Tobias’s hand in mine until the rails squeal. I don’t know how long I’ve been standing there, but my back aches, so it must have been a long time. The train screeches to a stop, and my heart pounds so hard it’s difficult to breathe.
Right before we jump down from the car, I see Tobias turn his head in my periphery, and I glance back at him. His dark eyes are insistent as he says, “Run. ”
“My family,” I say.
I look straight ahead again, and jump down from the train car when it’s my turn. Tobias walks in front of me. I should focus on the back of his head, but the streets I walk now are familiar, and the line of Dauntless I follow fades from my attention. I pass the place I went every six months with my mother to pick up new clothes for our family; the bus stop where I once waited in the morning to get to school; the strip of sidewalk so cracked Caleb and I played a hopping, jumping game to get across it.
They are all different now. The buildings are dark and empty. The roads are packed with Dauntless soldiers, all marching at the same rhythm except the officers, who stand every few hundred yards, watching us walk by, or gathering in clusters to discuss something. No one seems to be doing anything. Are we really here for war?
I walk a half mile before I get an answer to that question.
I start to hear popping sounds. I can’t look around to see where they’re coming from, but the farther I walk, the louder and sharper they get, until I recognize them as gunshots. I clench my jaw. I must keep walking; I have to stare straight ahead.
Far ahead of us, I see a Dauntless soldier push a gray-clothed man to his knees. I recognize the man—he is a council member. The soldier takes her gun out of her holster and, with sightless eyes, fires a bullet into the back of the council member’s skull.
The soldier has a gray streak in her hair. It’s Tori. My steps almost falter.
Keep walking. My eyes burn. Keep walking.
We march past Tori and the fallen council member. When I step over his hand, I almost burst into tears.
Then the soldiers in front of me stop walking, and so do I. I stand as still as I can, but all I want to do is find Jeanine and Eric and Max and shoot them all. My hands are shaking and I can’t do anything to stop it. I breathe quickly through my nose.
Another gunshot. From the corner of my left eye, I see a gray blur collapse to the pavement. All the Abnegation will die if this continues.
The Dauntless soldiers carry out unspoken orders without hesitation and without question. Some adult members of Abnegation are herded toward one of the nearby buildings, along with the Abnegation children. A sea of black-clothed soldiers guard the doors. The only people I do not see are the Abnegation leaders. Maybe they are already dead.
One by one, the Dauntless soldiers in front of me step away to perform one task or another. Soon the leaders will notice that whatever signals everyone else is getting, I’m not getting them. What will I do when that happens?
“This is insane,” coos a male voice on my right. I see a lock of long, greasy hair, and a silver earring. Eric. He pokes my cheek with his index finger, and I struggle against the impulse to slap his hand away.
“They really can’t see us? Or hear us?” a female voice asks.
“Oh, they can see and hear. They just aren’t processing what they see and hear the same way,” says Eric. “They receive commands from our computers in the transmitters we injected them with…” At this, he presses his fingers to the injection site to show the woman where it is. Stay still, I tell myself. Still, still, still. “…and carry them out seamlessly. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
Eric shifts a step to the side and leans close to Tobias’s face, grinning.
“Now, this is a happy sight,” he says. “The legendary Four. No one’s going to remember that I came in second now, are they? No one’s going to ask me, ‘What was it like to train with the guy who has only four fears?’” He draws his gun and points it at Tobias’s right temple. My heart pounds so hard I feel it in my skull. He can’t shoot; he wouldn’t. Eric tilts his head. “Think anyone would notice if he accidentally got shot?”
“Go ahead,” the woman says, sounding bored. She must be a Dauntless leader if she can give Eric permission. “He’s nothing now. ”
“Too bad you didn’t just take Max up on his offer, Four. Well, too bad for you, anyway,” says Eric quietly, as he clicks the bullet into its chamber.
My lungs burn; I haven’t breathed in almost a minute. I see Tobias’s hand twitch in the corner of my eye, but my hand is already on my gun. I press the barrel to Eric’s forehead. His eyes widen, and his face goes slack, and for a second he looks like another sleeping Dauntless soldier.
My index finger hovers over the trigger.
“Get your gun away from his head,” I say.
“You won’t shoot me,” Eric replies.
“Interesting theory,” I say. But I can’t murder him; I can’t. I grit my teeth and shift my arm down, firing at Eric’s foot. He screams and grabs his foot with both hands. The moment his gun is no longer pointed at Tobias’s head, Tobias draws his gun and fires at Eric’s friend’s leg. I don’t wait to see if the bullet hits her. I grab Tobias’s arm and sprint.
If we can make it to the alley, we can disappear into the buildings and they won’t find us. There are two hundred yards to go. I hear footsteps behind us, but I don’t look back. Tobias grabs my hand and squeezes, pulling me forward, faster than I have ever run, faster than I can run. I stumble behind him. I hear a gunshot.
The pain is sharp and sudden, beginning in my shoulder and spreading outward with electric fingers. A scream stops in my throat, and I fall, my cheek scraping the pavement. I lift my head to see Tobias’s knees by my face, and yell, “Run!”
His voice is calm and quiet as he replies, “No. ”
In seconds we are surrounded. Tobias helps me up, supporting my weight. I have trouble focusing through the pain. Dauntless soldiers surround us and point their guns.
“Divergent rebels,” Eric says, standing on one foot. His face is a sickly white. “Surrender your weapons. ”
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