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“QUIET DOWN, EVERYONE!”
Jack Kang lifts his hands, and the crowd goes silent. That is a talent.
I stand among the crowd of Dauntless who got here late, when there were no seats left. A flash of light catches my eye—lightning. It’s not the best time to be meeting in a room with holes in the walls instead of windows, but this is the biggest room they have.
“I know many of you are confused and shaken by what happened yesterday,” Jack says. “I have heard many reports from a variety of perspectives, and have gotten a sense for what is straightforward and what requires more investigation. ”
I tuck my wet hair behind my ears. I woke up ten minutes before the meeting was supposed to start and ran to the showers. Though I’m still exhausted, I feel more alert now.
“What seems to me to require more investigation,” Jack says, “is the Divergent. ”
He looks tired—he has dark circles under his eyes, and his short hair sticks out at random, like he’s been pulling it all night. Despite the stifling heat of the room, he wears a long-sleeved shirt that buttons at the wrists—he must have been distracted when he dressed this morning.
“If you are one of the Divergent, please step forward so that we can hear from you. ”
I look sideways at Uriah. This feels dangerous. My Divergence is something I am supposed to hide. Admitting it is supposed to mean death. But there is no sense in hiding it now—they already know about me.
Tobias is the first to move. He starts into the crowd, at first turning his body to wedge his way between people, and then, when they step back for him, moving straight toward Jack Kang with his shoulders back.
I move, too, muttering “Excuse me” to the people in front of me. They draw back like I just threatened to spit poison at them. A few others step forward, in Candor black and white, but not many. One of them is the girl I helped.
Despite the notoriety Tobias now has among the Dauntless, and my new title as That Girl Who Stabbed Eric, we are not the real focus of everyone’s attention. Marcus is.
“You, Marcus?” says Jack when Marcus reaches the middle of the room and stands on top of the lower scale in the floor.
“Yes,” Marcus says. “I understand that you are concerned—that you all are concerned. You had never heard of the Divergent a week ago, and now all that you know is that they are immune to something to which you are susceptible, and that is a frightening thing. But I can assure you that there is nothing to be afraid of, as far as we are concerned. ”
As he speaks, his head tilts and his eyebrows lift in sympathy, and I understand at once why some people like him. He makes you feel that if you just placed everything in his hands, he would take care of it.
“It seems clear to me,” says Jack, “that we were attacked so that the Erudite could find the Divergent. Do you know why that is?”
“No, I do not,” says Marcus. “Perhaps their intention was merely to identify us. It seems like useful information to have, if they intend to use their simulations again. ”
“That was not their intention. ” The words are past my lips before I decide to speak them. My voice sounds high and weak compared to Marcus’s and Jack’s, but it’s too late to stop. “They wanted to kill us. They’ve been killing us since before any of this happened. ”
Jack’s eyebrows draw together. I hear hundreds of tiny sounds, raindrops hitting the roof. The room darkens, as if under the gloom of what I just said.
“That sounds very much like a conspiracy theory,” Jack says. “What reason would the Erudite have to kill you?”
My mother said people feared the Divergent because we couldn’t be controlled. That may be true, but fear of the uncontrollable is not a concrete enough reason to give Jack Kang for the Erudite wanting us dead. My heart races as I realize that I can’t answer his question.
“I . . . ” I start. Tobias interrupts me.
“Obviously we don’t know,” he says, “but there are nearly a dozen mysterious deaths recorded among the Dauntless from the past six years, and there is a correlation between those people and irregular aptitude test results or initiation simulation results. ”
Lightning strikes, making the room glow. Jack shakes his head. “While that is intriguing, correlation does not constitute evidence. ”
“A Dauntless leader shot a Candor child in the head,” I snap. “Did you get a report of that? Did it seem ‘worthy of investigation’?”
“In fact I did,” he says. “And shooting a child in cold blood is a terrible crime that cannot go unpunished. Fortunately, we have the perpetrator in custody and will be able to put him on trial. However, we must keep in mind that the Dauntless soldiers did not give any evidence of wanting to harm the majority of us, or they would have killed us while we were unconscious. ”
I hear irritated murmurs all around me.
“Their peaceful invasion suggests to me that it may be possible to negotiate a peace treaty with the Erudite and the other Dauntless,” he continues. “So I will arrange a meeting with Jeanine Matthews to discuss that possibility as soon as possible. ”
“Their invasion wasn’t peaceful,” I say. I can see the corner of Tobias’s mouth from where I stand, and he is smiling. I take a deep breath and begin again. “Just because they didn’t shoot you all in the head doesn’t mean their intentions were somehow honorable. Why do you think they came here? Just to run through your hallways, knock you unconscious, and leave?”
“I assume they came here for people like you,” says Jack. “And while I am concerned for your safety, I don’t think we can attack them just because they wanted to kill a fraction of our population. ”
“Killing you is not the worst thing they can do to you,” I say. “Controlling you is. ”
Jack’s lips curl with amusement. Amusement. “Oh? And how will they manage that?”
“They shot you with needles,” Tobias says. “Needles full of simulation transmitters. Simulations control you. That’s how. ”
“We know how simulations work,” says Jack. “The transmitter is not a permanent implant. If they intended to control us, they would have done it right away. ”
“But—” I begin.
He interrupts me. “I know you have been under a lot of stress, Tris,” he says quietly, “and that you have done a great service to your faction and to Abnegation. But I think your traumatic experience may have compromised your ability to be completely objective. I can’t launch an attack based on a little girl’s speculations. ”
I stand statue-still, unable to believe that he could be so stupid. My face burning. Little girl, he called me. A little girl who is stressed out to the point of paranoia. That is not me, but now, it’s who the Candor think I am.
“You don’t make our decisions for us, Kang,” says Tobias.
All around me, the Dauntless shout their assent. Someone else yells, “You are not the leader of our faction!”
Jack waits for their shouts to die down and then says, “That is true. If you want to, you can feel free to storm the Erudite compound by yourselves. But you will do so without our support, and may I remind you, you are greatly outnumbered and unprepared. ”
He’s right. We can’t attack Dauntless traitors and Erudite without Candor’s numbers. It would be a bloodbath if we tried. Jack Kang has all the power. And now we all know it.
“I thought so,” he says smugly. “Very well. I will contact Jeanine Matthews, and see if we can negotiate a peace. Any objections?”
We can’t attack without Candor, I think, unless we have the factionless.