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“OKAY, WHAT THE hell are you doing here?” a voice demands.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

I sit on a mattress in one of the hallways. I came here to do something, but I lost my train of thought when I arrived, so I just sat down instead. I look up. Lynn—who I first met when she stomped on my toes in a Hancock building elevator—stands over me with raised eyebrows. Her hair is growing out—it’s still short, but I can’t see her skull anymore.

“I’m sitting,” I say. “Why?”

“You’re ridiculous, is what you are. ” She sighs. “Get your stuff together. You’re Dauntless, and it’s time you acted like it. You’re giving us a bad reputation among the Candor. ”

“How exactly am I doing that?”

“By acting like you don’t know us. ”

“I’m just doing Christina a favor. ”

“Christina. ” Lynn snorts. “She’s a lovesick puppy. People die. That’s what happens in war. She’ll figure it out eventually. ”

“Yeah, people die, but it’s not always your good friend who kills them. ”

“Whatever. ” Lynn sighs impatiently. “Come on. ”

I don’t see a reason to refuse. I get up and follow her down a series of hallways. She moves at a brisk pace, and it’s difficult to keep up with her.

“Where’s your scary boyfriend?” she says.

My lips pucker like I just tasted something sour. “He’s not scary. ”

“Sure he’s not. ” She smirks.

“I don’t know where he is. ”

She shrugs. “Well, you can grab him a bunk, too. We’re trying to forget those Dauntless-Erudite bastard children. Pull together again. ”

I laugh. “Dauntless-Erudite bastard children, huh. ”

She pushes a door open, and we stand in a large, open room that reminds me of the building’s lobby. Unsurprisingly, the floors are black with a huge white symbol in the center of the room, but most of it has been covered up with bunk beds. Dauntless men, women, and children are everywhere, and there isn’t a single Candor in sight.

Lynn leads me to the left side of the room and between the rows of bunks. She looks at the boy sitting on one of the bottom bunks—he is a few years younger than we are, and he’s trying to undo a knot in his shoelaces.

“Hec,” she says, “you’re going to have to find another bunk. ”

“What? No way,” he says without looking up. “I’m not relocating again just because you want to have late-night pillow chats with one of your stupid friends. ”

“She is not my friend,” snaps Lynn. I almost laugh. “Hec, this is Tris. Tris, this is my little brother, Hector. ”

At the sound of my name, his head jerks up, and he stares at me, openmouthed.

“Nice to meet you,” I say.

“You’re Divergent,” he says. “My mom said to stay away from you because you might be dangerous. ”

“Yeah. She’s a big scary Divergent, and she’s going to make your head explode with only the power of her brain,” says Lynn, jabbing him between the eyes with her index finger. “Don’t tell me you actually believe all that kid stuff about the Divergent. ”

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

He turns bright red and snatches some of his things from a pile next to the bed. I feel bad for making him move until I see him toss his things down a few bunks over. He doesn’t have to go far.

“I could have done that,” I say. “Slept over there, I mean. ”

“Yeah, I know. ” Lynn grins. “He deserves it. He called Zeke a traitor right to Uriah’s face. It’s not like it’s not true, but that’s no reason to be a jerk about it. I think Candor is rubbing off on him. He feels like he can just say whatever he wants. Hey, Mar!”

Marlene pokes her head around one of the bunks and smiles toothily at me.

“Hey, Tris!” says Marlene. “Welcome. What’s up, Lynn?”

“Can you get some of the smaller girls to give up a few pieces of clothing each?” Lynn says, “Not all shirts, though. Jeans, underwear, maybe a spare pair of shoes?”

“Sure,” says Marlene.

I put my knife down next to the bottom bunk.

“What ‘kid stuff’ were you referring to?” I say.

“The Divergent. People with special brainpowers? Come on. ” She shrugs. “I know you believe in it, but I don’t. ”

“So how do you explain me being awake during simulations?” I say. “Or resisting one entirely?”

“I think the leaders choose people at random and change the simulations for them. ”

“Why would they do that?”

She waves her hand in my face. “Distraction. You’re so busy worrying about the Divergent—like my mom—that you forget to worry about what the leaders are doing. It’s just a different kind of mind control. ”

Her eyes skirt mine, and she kicks at the marble floor with the toe of her shoe. I wonder if she’s remembering the last time she was on mind control. During the attack simulation.

I have been so focused on what happened to Abnegation that I almost forgot what happened to Dauntless. Hundreds of Dauntless woke to discover the black mark of murder on them, and they didn’t even choose it for themselves.

I decide not to argue with her. If she wants to believe in a government conspiracy, I don’t think I can dissuade her. She would have to experience it for herself.

“I come bearing clothes,” says Marlene, stepping in front of our bunk. She holds a stack of black clothes the size of her torso, which she offers to me with a proud look on her face. “I even guilt-tripped your sister into handing over a dress, Lynn. She brought three. ”

“You have a sister?” I ask Lynn.

“Yeah,” she says, “she’s eighteen. She was in Four’s initiate class. ”

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

“What’s her name?”

“Shauna,” she says. She looks at Marlene. “I told her none of us would need dresses anytime soon, but she didn’t listen, as usual. ”

I remember Shauna. She was one of the people who caught me after zip lining.

“I think it would be easier to fight in a dress,” says Marlene, tapping her chin. “It would give your legs freer movement. And who really cares if you flash people your underwear, as long as you’re kicking the crap out of them?”

Lynn goes silent, like she recognizes that as a spark of brilliance but can’t bring herself to admit it.

“What’s this about flashing underwear?” says Uriah, sidestepping a bunk. “Whatever it is, I’m in. ”

Marlene punches him in the arm.

“Some of us are going to the Hancock building tonight,” says Uriah. “You should all come. We’re leaving at ten. ”

“Zip lining?” says Lynn.

“No. Surveillance. We’ve heard the Erudite keep their lights on all night, which will make it easier to look through their windows. See what they’re doing. ”

“I’ll go,” I say.

“Me too,” says Lynn.

“What? Oh. Me too,” Marlene says, smiling at Uriah. “I’m going to get food. Want to come?”

“Sure,” he says.

Marlene waves as they walk away. She used to walk with a lift in her step, like she was skipping. Now her steps are smoother—more elegant, maybe, but lacking the childish joy I associate with her. I wonder what she did when she was under the simulation.

Lynn’s mouth puckers.

“What?” I say.

“Nothing,” she snaps. She shakes her head. “They’ve just been hanging out alone all the time lately. ”

“He needs all the friends he can get, it sounds like,” I say. “What with Zeke and all. ”

“Yeah. What a nightmare that was. One day he was here, and the next . . . ” She sighs. “No matter how long you train someone to be brave, you never know if they are or not until something real happens. ”

Her eyes fix on mine. I never noticed before how strange they are, a golden brown. And now that her hair has grown in somewhat, and her baldness isn’t the first thing I see, I also notice her delicate nose, her full lips—she is striking without trying to be. I am envious of her for a moment, and then I think she must hate it, and that’s why she shaved her head.

“You are brave,” she says. “You don’t need me to say it, because you already know it. But I want you to know that I know. ”

She is complimenting me, but I still feel like she smacked me with something.

Then she adds, “Don’t mess it up. ”

A few hours later, after I’ve eaten lunch and taken a nap, I sit down on the edge of my bed to change the bandage on my shoulder. I take off my T-shirt, leaving my tank top on—there are a lot of Dauntless around, gathering between the bunks, laughing at one another’s jokes. I have just finished applying more healing salve when I hear a shriek of laughter. Uriah charges down the aisle between the bunks with Marlene thrown over his shoulder. She waves at me as they pass, her face red.

Lynn, who is sitting on the next bunk, snorts. “I don’t see how he can be flirty, with everything that’s going on. ”

“He’s supposed to shuffle around, scowling all the time?” I say, reaching over my shoulder to press the bandage to my skin. “Maybe you can learn something from him. ”

“You’re one to talk,” she says. “You’re always moping. We should start calling you BeatricePrior, Queen of Tragedy. ”

I stand and punch her arm, harder than if I was kidding, softer than if I was serious. “Shut up. ”

Without looking at me, she shoves my shoulder into the bunk. “I don’t take orders from Stiffs. ”

I notice a slight curl in her lip and suppress a grin myself.

“Ready to go?” Lynn says.

“Where are you going?” Tobias says, slipping between his bunk and mine to stand in the aisle with us. My mouth feels dry. I haven’t spoken to him all day, and I’m not sure what to expect. Will it be awkward, or will we go back to normal?

“Top of the Hancock building to spy on Erudite,” Lynn says. “Want to come?”

Tobias gives me a look. “No, I’ve got a few things to take care of here. But be careful. ”

I nod. I know why he doesn’t want to come—Tobias tries to avoid heights, if at all possible. He touches my arm, holding me back for just a moment. I tense up—he hasn’t touched me since before our fight—and he releases me.

“I’ll see you later,” he mutters. “Don’t do anything stupid. ”

“Thanks for that vote of confidence,” I say, frowning.

“I didn’t mean that,” he says. “I meant don’t let anyone else do anything stupid. They’ll listen to you. ”

He leans toward me like he’s going to kiss me, then seems to think better of it and leans back, biting his lip. It’s a small act, but it still feels like rejection. I avoid his eyes and run after Lynn.

Lynn and I walk down the hallway toward the elevator bank. Some of the Dauntless have started to mark the walls with colored squares. Candor headquarters is like a maze to them, and they want to learn to navigate it. I know only how to get to the most basic places: the sleeping area, the cafeteria, the lobby, the interrogation room.

“Why did everyone leave Dauntless headquarters?” I say. “The traitors aren’t there, are they?”

“No, they’re at Erudite headquarters. We left because Dauntless headquarters has the most surveillance cameras of any area in the city,” Lynn says. “We knew the Erudite could probably access all the footage, and that it would take forever to find all the cameras, so we thought it was best to just leave. ”

“Smart. ”

“We have our moments. ”

Lynn jabs her finger into the button for the first floor. I stare at our reflections in the doors. She’s taller than I am by just a few inches, and though her baggy shirt and pants try to obscure it, I can tell that her body bends and curves like it’s supposed to.

“What?” she says, scowling at me.

“Why did you shave your head?”

“Initiation,” she says. “I love Dauntless, but Dauntless guys don’t see Dauntless girls as a threat during initiation. I got sick of it. So I figured, if I don’t look so much like a girl, maybe they won’t look at me that way. ”

“I think you could have used being underestimated to your advantage. ”

“Yeah, and what? Acted all faint every time something scary came around?” Lynn rolls her eyes. “Do you think I have zero dignity or something?”

“I think a mistake the Dauntless make is refusing to be cunning,” I say. “You don’t always have to smack people in the face with how strong you are. ”

“Maybe you should dress in blue from now on,” she says, “if you’re going to act like such an Erudite. Plus, you do the same thing, but without the head shaving. ”

I slip out of the elevator before I say something I’ll regret. Lynn is quick to forgive, but quick to ignite, like most Dauntless. Like me, except for the “quick to forgive” part.

As usual, a few Dauntless with large guns cross back and forth in front of the doors, watching for intruders. Just in front of them stands a small group of younger Dauntless, including Uriah; Marlene; Lynn’s sister, Shauna; and Lauren, who taught the Dauntless-born initiates as Four taught the faction transfers during initiation. Her ear gleams when she moves her head—it is pierced from top to bottom.

Lynn stops short, and I step on her heel. She swears.

“What a charmer you are,” says Shauna, smiling at Lynn. They don’t look much alike, except for their hair color, which is a medium brown, but Shauna’s is chin length, like mine.

“Yes, that’s my goal. To be charming,” Lynn replies.

Shauna drapes an arm across Lynn’s shoulders. It’s strange to see Lynn with a sister—to see Lynn with a connection to someone at all. Shauna glances at me, her smile disappearing. She looks wary.

“Hi,” I say, because there’s nothing else to say.

“Hello,” she says.

“Oh God, Mom’s gotten to you, too, hasn’t she. ” Lynn covers her face with one hand. “Shauna—”

“Lynn. Keep your mouth shut for once,” says Shauna, her eyes still on me. She seems tense, like she thinks I might attack her at any moment. With my special brainpowers.

“Oh!” says Uriah, rescuing me. “Tris, do you know Lauren?”

“Yeah,” Lauren says, before I can answer. Her voice is sharp and clear, like she’s scolding him, except it seems to be the way she naturally sounds. “She went through my fear landscape for practice during initiation. So she knows me better than she should, probably. ”

“Really? I thought the transfers would go through Four’s landscape,” says Uriah.

“Like he would let anyone do that,” she says, snorting.

Something inside me gets warm and soft. He let me go through it.

I see a flicker of blue over Lauren’s shoulder, and peer around her to get a better look.

Then the guns go off.

The glass doors explode into fragments. Dauntless soldiers with blue armbands stand on the sidewalk outside, carrying guns I’ve never seen before, guns with narrow, blue beams of light streaming from above their barrels.

“Traitors!” someone screams.

The Dauntless draw their guns, almost in unison. I do not have one to draw, so I duck behind the wall of loyal Dauntless in front of me, my shoes crunching pieces of glass beneath their soles, and pull my knife out of my back pocket.

All around me, people drop to the ground. My fellow faction members. My closest friends. All of them falling—they must be dead, or dying—as the earsplitting bang of bullets filling my ears.

Then I freeze. One of the blue beams is fixed on my chest. I dive sideways to get out of the line of fire, but I don’t move fast enough.

The gun goes off. I fall.

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