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MY MIND KEEPS tugging me toward my memories of Lynn, in an attempt to persuade me that she is actually gone, but I push away the short flashes as they come. Someday I will stop doing that, if I’m not executed as a traitor, or whatever our new leaders have planned. But right now I fight to keep my mind blank, to pretend that this room is all that has ever existed and all that will ever exist. It should not be easy, but it is. I have learned how to fend off grief.
Tori and Harrison come to the lobby after a while, Tori limping toward a chair—I almost forgot about her bullet wound again; she was so nimble when she killed Jeanine—and Harrison following her.
Behind both of them is one of the Dauntless with Jeanine’s body slung over his shoulder. He heaves it like a stone on a table in front of the rows of Erudite and Dauntless traitors.
Behind me I hear gasps and mutters, but no sobs. Jeanine was not the kind of leader people cry for.
I stare up at her body, which seems so much smaller in death than it did in life. She is only a few inches taller than I am, her hair only a few shades darker. She looks calm now, almost peaceful. I have trouble connecting this body with the woman I knew, the woman without a conscience.
And even she was more complicated than I thought, keeping a secret that she thought was too terrible to reveal, out of a heinously twisted protective instinct.
Johanna Reyes steps into the lobby, soaked to the bone from all the rain, her red clothes smeared with a darker red. The factionless flank her, but she doesn’t appear to notice them or the guns they carry.
“Hello,” she says to Harrison and Tori. “What is it that you want?”
“I didn’t know the leader of Amity would be so curt,” says Tori with a wry smile. “Isn’t that against your manifesto?”
“If you were actually familiar with Amity’s customs, you would know that they don’t have a formal leader,” says Johanna, her voice simultaneously gentle and firm. “But I’m not the representative of Amity anymore. I stepped down in order to come here. ”
“Yeah, I saw you and your little band of peacekeepers, getting in everyone’s way,” says Tori.
“Yes, that was intentional,” Johanna replies. “Since getting in the way meant standing between guns and innocents, and saved a great number of lives. ”
Color fills her cheeks, and I think it again: that Johanna Reyes might still be beautiful. Except now I think that she isn’t just beautiful in spite of the scar, she’s somehow beautiful with it, like Lynn with her buzzed hair, like Tobias with the memories of his father’s cruelty that he wears like armor, like my mother in her plain gray clothing.
“Since you are still so very generous,” says Tori, “I wonder if you might carry a message back to the Amity. ”
“I don’t feel comfortable leaving you and your army to dole out justice as you see fit,” says Johanna, “but I will certainly send someone else to Amity with a message. ”
“Fine,” says Tori. “Tell them that a new political system will soon be formed that will exclude them from representation. This, we believe, is their just punishment for failing to choose a side in this conflict. They will, of course, be obligated to continue to produce and deliver food to the city, but they will be under supervision by one of the leading factions. ”
For a second, I think that Johanna might launch herself at Tori and strangle her. But she draws herself up taller and says, “Is that all?”
“Fine,” she says. “I’m going to go do something useful. I don’t suppose you would allow some of us to come in here and tend to these wounded?”
Tori gives her a look.
“I didn’t think so,” says Johanna. “Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like. ”
She turns and walks out of the lobby.
Something about her words hits me. I am sure she meant them as a threat, and a feeble one, but it rings in my head like it was something more—like she could easily have been talking not about the Amity, but about another oppressed group. The factionless.
And as I look around the room, at every Dauntless soldier and every factionless soldier, I begin to see a pattern.
“Christina,” I say. “The factionless have all the guns. ”
She looks around, and then back at me, frowning.
In my mind I see Therese, taking Uriah’s gun when she already had one herself. I see Tobias’s mouth pressed into a line when I asked him about the uneasy Dauntless-factionless alliance, holding something back.
Then Evelyn emerges into the lobby, her posture regal, like a queen returning to her kingdom. Tobias does not follow her. Where is he?
Evelyn stands behind the table where Jeanine Matthews’s body lies. Edward limps into the lobby behind her. Evelyn takes out a gun, points it at the fallen portrait of Jeanine, and fires.
A hush falls over the room. Evelyn drops the gun on the table, next to Jeanine’s head.
“Thank you,” she says. “I know that you are all wondering what will happen next, so I am here to tell you. ”
Tori sits up straighter in her chair and leans toward Evelyn, like she wants to say something. But Evelyn pays no attention.
“The faction system that has long supported itself on the backs of discarded human beings will be disbanded at once,” says Evelyn. “We know this transition will be difficult for you, but—”
“We?” Tori breaks in, looking scandalized. “What are you talking about, disbanded?”
“What I am talking about,” says Evelyn, looking at Tori for the first time, “is that your faction, which up until a few weeks ago was clamoring along with the Erudite for the restriction of food and goods to the factionless, a clamor that resulted in the destruction of the Abnegation, will no longer exist. ”
Evelyn smiles a little.
“And if you decide to take up arms against us,” she says, “you will be hard pressed to find any arms to take up. ”
I watch, then, as each factionless soldier holds up a gun. Factionless are evenly spaced around the edge of the room, and they disappear into one of the stairwells. They have us all surrounded.
It is so elegant, so clever, that I almost laugh.
“I instructed my half of the army to relieve your half of the army of their weapons as soon as their missions were completed,” says Evelyn. “I see now that they were successful. I regret the duplicity, but we knew that you have been conditioned to cling to the faction system like it is your own mother, and that we would have to help ease you into this new era. ”
“Ease us?” Tori demands. She pushes herself to her feet and limps toward Evelyn, who calmly takes her gun in hand and points it at Tori.
“I have not been starving for more than a decade just to give in to a Dauntless woman with a leg injury,” Evelyn says. “So unless you want me to shoot you, take a seat with your fellow ex-faction members. ”
I see all the muscles in Evelyn’s arm standing at attention, her eyes not cold, not quite like Jeanine’s, but calculating, assessing, planning. I don’t know how this woman could have ever bent to Marcus’s will. She must not have been this woman then, all steel, tested in fire.
Tori stands before Evelyn for a few seconds. She then limps backward, away from the gun and toward the edge of the room.
“Those of you who assisted us in the effort to take down Erudite will be rewarded,” says Evelyn. “Those of you who resisted us will be tried and punished according to your crimes. ” She raises her voice for the last sentence, and I am surprised by how well it carries over the space.
Behind her, the door to the stairwell opens, and Tobias steps out with Marcus and Calebbehind him, almost unnoticed. Almost, except I notice him, because I have trained myself to notice him. I watch his shoes as he comes closer. They are black sneakers with chrome eyelets for the laces. They stop right next to me, and he crouches by my shoulder.
I look at him, expecting to find his eyes cold and unyielding.
But I don’t.
Evelyn is still talking, but her voice fades for me.
“You were right,” Tobias says quietly, balancing on the balls of his feet. He smiles a little. “I do know who you are. I just needed to be reminded. ”
I open my mouth, but I don’t have anything to say.
Then all the screens in the Erudite lobby—at least those that weren’t destroyed in the attack—flicker on, including a projector positioned over the wall where Jeanine’s portrait used to be.
Evelyn stops in the middle of whatever sentence she was speaking. Tobias takes my hand and helps me to my feet.
“What is this?” Evelyn demands.
“This,” he says, only to me, “is the information that will change everything. ”
My legs shake with relief and apprehension.
“You did it?” I say.
“You did it,” he says. “All I did was force Caleb to cooperate. ”
I throw my arm around his neck, and press my lips to his. He holds my face in both hands and kisses me back. I press into the distance between us until it is gone, crushing the secrets we have kept and the suspicions we have harbored—for good, I hope.
And then I hear a voice.
We pull apart and turn toward the wall, where a woman with short brown hair is projected. She sits at a metal desk with her hands folded, in a location I don’t recognize. The background is too dim.
“Hello,” she says. “My name is Amanda Ritter. In this file I will tell you only what you need to know. I am the leader of an organization fighting for justice and peace. This fight has become increasingly more important—and consequently, nearly impossible—in the past few decades. That is because of this. ”
Images flash across the wall, almost too fast for me to see. A man on his knees with a gun pressed to his forehead. The woman pointing it at him, her face emotionless.
From a distance, a small person hanging by the neck from a telephone pole.
A hole in the ground the size of a house, full of bodies.
And there are other images too, but they move faster, so I get only impressions of blood and bone and death and cruelty, empty faces, soulless eyes, terrified eyes.
Just when I have had enough, when I feel like I am going to scream if I see any more, the woman reappears on the screen, behind her desk.
“You do not remember any of that,” she says. “But if you are thinking these are the actions of a terrorist group or a tyrannical government regime, you are only partially correct. Half of the people in those pictures, committing those terrible acts, were your neighbors. Your relatives. Your coworkers. The battle we are fighting is not against a particular group. It is against human nature itself—or at least what it has become. ”
This is what Jeanine was willing to enslave minds and murder people for—to keep us all from knowing. To keep us all ignorant and safe and inside the fence.
There is a part of me that understands.
“That is why you are so important,” Amanda says. “Our struggle against violence and cruelty is only treating the symptoms of a disease, not curing it. You are the cure.
“In order to keep you safe, we devised a way for you to be separated from us. From our water supply. From our technology. From our societal structure. We have formed your society in a particular way in the hope that you will rediscover the moral sense most of us have lost. Over time, we hope that you will begin to change as most of us cannot.
“The reason I am leaving this footage for you is so that you will know when it’s time to help us. You will know that it is time when there are many among you whose minds appear to be more flexible than the others. The name you should give those people is Divergent. Once they become abundant among you, your leaders should give the command for Amity to unlock the gate forever, so that you may emerge from your isolation. ”
And that is what my parents wanted to do: to take what we had learned and use it to help others. Abnegation to the end.
“The information in this video is to be restricted to those in government only,” Amanda says. “You are to be a clean slate. But do not forget us. ”
She smiles a little.
“I am about to join your number,” she says. “Like the rest of you, I will voluntarily forget my name, my family, and my home. I will take on a new identity, with false memories and a false history. But so that you know the information I have provided you with is accurate, I will tell you the name I am about to take as my own. ”
Her smile broadens, and for a moment, I feel that I recognize her.
“My name will be Edith Prior,” she says. “And there is much I am happy to forget. ”
The video stops. The projector glows blue against the wall. I clutch Tobias’s hand, and there is a moment of silence like a withheld breath.
Then the shouting begins.