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THAT AFTERNOON I join a group of Candor and Dauntless cleaning up the broken windowsin the lobby. I focus on the path of the broom, keeping my eyes on the dust that collects between glass fragments. My muscles remember the movement before the rest of me does, but when I look down, instead of dark marble I see plain white tile and the bottom of a light gray wall; I see strands of blond hair that my mother trimmed, and the mirror safely tucked behind its wall panel.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
My body goes weak, and I lean into the broom handle for support.
A hand touches my shoulder, and I twitch away from it. But it’s just a Candor girl—a child. She looks up at me, wide-eyed.
“Are you all right?” she says, her voice high and indistinct.
“I’m fine,” I say. Too sharply. I hurry to amend it. “Just tired. Thank you. ”
“I think you’re lying,” she says.
I notice a bandage peeking out from the end of her sleeve, probably covering the needle puncture. The idea of this little girl under a simulation nauseates me. I can’t even look at her. I turn away.
And I see them: outside, a traitor Dauntless man, propping up a woman with a bleeding leg. I see the gray streaks in the woman’s hair and the end of the man’s hooked nose and the blue armband of a Dauntless traitor just beneath their shoulders, and recognize them both. Tori and Zeke.
Tori is trying to walk, but one of her legs drags behind her, useless. A wet, dark patch covers most of her thigh.
The Candor stop sweeping and stare at them. The Dauntless guards standing near the elevators rush toward the entrance with their guns lifted. My fellow sweepers back up to get out of the way, but I stay where I am, heat rushing through me as Zeke and Tori approach.
“Are they even armed?” someone says.
Tori and Zeke reach what used to be the doors, and he puts up one of his hands when he sees the row of Dauntless with guns. The other he keeps wrapped around Tori’s waist.
“She needs medical attention,” says Zeke. “Right now. ”
“Why should we give a traitor medical attention?” a Dauntless man with wispy blond hair and a double-pierced lip asks over his gun. A patch of blue dye marks his forearm.
Tori moans, and I slip between two Dauntless to reach for her. She puts her hand, which is sticky with blood, in mine. Zeke lowers her to the ground with a grunt.
“Tris,” she says, sounding dazed.
“Better step back, girl,” the blond Dauntless man says.
“No,” I say. “Put your gun down. ”
“Told you the Divergent were crazy,” one of the other armed Dauntless mutters to the woman next to him.
“I don’t care if you bring her upstairs and tie her to a bed to keep her from going on a shooting spree!” says Zeke, scowling. “Don’t let her bleed to death in the lobby of Candor headquarters!”
Finally, a few Dauntless come forward and lift Tori up.
“Where should we . . . take her?” one of them asks.
“Find Helena,” Zeke says. “Dauntless nurse. ”
The men nod and carry her toward the elevators. Zeke and I meet eyes.
“What happened?” I ask him.
“The traitor Dauntless found out we were collecting information from them,” he says. “Tori tried to get away, but they shot her as she was running. I helped her get here. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“That’s a nice story,” says the blond Dauntless man. “Want to tell it again under truth serum?”
Zeke shrugs. “All right. ” He puts his wrists together in front of him dramatically. “Haul me away, if you’re so desperate to. ”
Then his eyes focus on something over my shoulder, and he starts walking. I turn to see Uriah jogging from the elevator bank. He is grinning.
“Heard a rumor you were a dirty traitor,” Uriah says.
“Yeah, whatever,” says Zeke.
They collide in an embrace that looks almost painful to me, slapping each other’s backs and laughing with their fists clasped between them.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell us,” says Lynn, shaking her head. She sits across from me at the table, her arms crossed and one of her legs propped up.
“Oh, don’t get all huffy about it,” says Zeke. “I wasn’t even supposed to tell Shauna and Uriah. And it sort of defeats the purpose of being a spy if you tell everyone that’s what you are. ”
We sit in a room in Candor headquarters called the Gathering Place, which the Dauntless have taken to saying in a mocking way whenever they can. It is large and open, with black-and-white cloth draped on every wall, and a circle of podiums in the center of the room. Large round tables surround the podiums. Lynn told me they host monthly debates here, for entertainment, and also hold religious services here once a week. But even when no events are scheduled, the room is usually full.
Zeke was cleared by the Candor an hour ago, in a short interrogation on the eighteenth floor. It was not as somber an occasion as Tobias’s and my interrogation, partly because there was no suspicious video footage implicating Zeke, and partly because Zeke is funny even when under truth serum. Maybe especially so. In any case, we came to the Gathering Place “for a ‘Hey, you’re not a dirty traitor!’ celebration,” as Uriah put it.
“Yeah, but we’ve been insulting you since the simulation attack,” Lynn says. “And now I feel like a jerk about it. ”
Zeke puts his arm around Shauna. “You are a jerk, Lynn. It’s part of your charm. ”
Lynn launches a plastic cup at him, which he deflects. Water sprays over the table, hitting him in the eye.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” says Zeke, rubbing his eye, “I was mostly working on getting Erudite defectors out safely. That’s why there’s a big group of them here, and a small group at Amity headquarters. But Tori . . . I have no idea what she was doing. She kept sneaking away for hours at a time, and whenever she was around, it was like she was about to explode. It’s no wonder she gave us away. ”
“How’d you get the job?” says Lynn. “You’re not that special. ”
“It was more because of where I was after the simulation attack. Smack-dab in a pack of Dauntless traitors. I decided to go with it,” he says. “Not sure about Tori, though. ”
“She transferred from Erudite,” I say.
What I don’t say, because I’m sure she wouldn’t want everyone to know, is that Tori probably seemed explosive in Erudite headquarters because they murdered her brother for being Divergent.
She told me once that she was waiting for an opportunity to get revenge.
“Oh,” says Zeke. “How do you know that?”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“Well, all the faction transfers have a secret club,” I say, leaning back in my chair. “We meet every third Thursday. ”
“Where’s Four?” says Uriah, checking his watch. “Should we start without him?”
“We can’t,” says Zeke. “He’s getting The Info. ”
Uriah nods like that means something. Then he pauses and says, “What info, again?”
“The info about Kang’s little peacemaking meeting with Jeanine,” says Zeke. “Obviously. ”
Across the room, I see Christina sitting at a table with her sister. They are both reading something.
My entire body tenses. Cara, Will’s older sister, is walking across the room toward Christina’s table. I duck my head.
“What?” Uriah says, looking over his shoulder. I want to punch him.
“Stop it!” I say. “Could you be any more obvious?” I lean forward, folding my arms on the table. “Will’s sister is over there. ”
“Yeah, I talked to her about getting out of Erudite once, while I was there,” says Zeke. “Said she saw an Abnegation woman get killed while she was on a mission for Jeanine and couldn’t stomach it anymore. ”
“Are we sure she’s not just an Erudite spy?” Lynn says.
“Lynn, she saved half our faction from this stuff,” says Marlene, tapping the bandage on her arm from where the Dauntless traitors shot her. “Well, half of half of our faction. ”
“In some circles they call that a quarter, Mar,” Lynn says.
“Anyway, who cares if she is a traitor?” Zeke says. “We’re not planning anything that she can inform them about. And we certainly wouldn’t include her if we were. ”
“There is plenty of information for her to gather here,” Lynn says. “How many of us there are, for example, or how many of us aren’t wired for simulations. ”
“You didn’t see her when she was telling me why she left,” says Zeke. “I believe her. ”
Cara and Christina have gotten up, and are walking out of the room.
“I’ll be right back,” I say. “I have to go to the bathroom. ”
I wait until Cara and Christina have gone through the doors, then half walk, half jog in that direction. I open one of the doors slowly, so it doesn’t make any noise, and then close it slowly behind me. I am in a dim hallway that smells like garbage—this must be where the Candor trash chute is.
I hear two female voices around the corner and creep toward the end of the hallway to hear better.
“. . . just can’t handle her being here,” one of them sobs. Christina. “I can’t stop picturing it . . . what she did. . . . I don’t understand how she could have done that!”
Christina’s sobs make me feel like I am about to crack open.
Cara takes her time responding.
“Well, I do,” she says.
“What?” Christina says with a hiccup.
“You have to understand; we’re trained to see things as logically as possible,” says Cara. “So don’t think that I’m callous. But that girl was probably scared out of her mind, certainly not capable of assessing situations cleverly at the time, if she was ever able to do so. ”
My eyes fly open. What a—I run through a short list of insults in my mind before listening to her continue.
“And the simulation made her incapable of reasoning with him, so when he threatened her life, she reacted as she had been trained by the Dauntless to react: Shoot to kill. ”
“So what are you saying?” says Christina bitterly. “We should just forget about it, because it makes perfect sense?”
“Of course not,” says Cara. Her voice wobbles, just a little, and she repeats herself, quietly this time. “Of course not. ”
She clears her throat. “It’s just that you have to be around her, and I want to make it easier for you. You don’t have to forgive her. Actually, I’m not sure why you were friends with her in the first place; she always seemed a bit erratic to me. ”
I tense up as I wait for Christina to agree with her, but to my surprise—and relief—she doesn’t.
Cara continues. “Anyway. You don’t have to forgive her, but you should try to understand that what she did was not out of malice; it was out of panic. That way, you can look at her without wanting to punch her in her exceptionally long nose. ”
My hand moves automatically to my nose. Christina laughs a little, which feels like a hard poke to the stomach. I back up through the door to the Gathering Place.
Even though Cara was rude—and the nose comment was a low blow—I am grateful for what she said.
Tobias emerges from a door hidden behind a length of white cloth. He flicks the cloth out of the way irritably before coming toward us and sitting beside me at the table in the Gathering Place.
“Kang is going to meet with a representative of Jeanine Matthews at seven in the morning,” he says.
“A representative?” Zeke says. “She’s not going herself?”
“Yeah, and stand out in the open where a bunch of angry people with guns can take aim?” Uriah smirks a little. “I’d like to see her try. No, really, I would. ”
“Is Kang the Brilliant taking a Dauntless escort, at least?” Lynn says.
“Yes,” Tobias says. “Some of the older members volunteered. Bud said he would keep his ears open and report back. ”
I frown at him. How does he know all this information? And why, after two years of avoiding becoming a Dauntless leader at all costs, is he suddenly acting like one?
“So I guess the real question is,” says Zeke, folding his hands on the table, “if you were Erudite, what would you say at this meeting?”
They all look at me. Expectantly.
“What?” I say.
“You’re Divergent,” Zeke replies.
“So is Tobias. ”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t have aptitude for Erudite. ”
“And how do you know I do?”
Zeke lifts his shoulder. “Seems likely. Doesn’t it seem likely?”
Uriah and Lynn nod. Tobias’s mouth twitches, as if in a smile, but if that’s what it was, he suppresses it. I feel like a stone just dropped into my stomach.
“You all have functional brains, last time I checked,” I say. “You can think like the Erudite, too. ”
“But we don’t have special Divergent brains!” says Marlene. She touches her fingertips to my scalp and squeezes lightly. “Come on, do your magic. ”
“There’s no such thing as Divergent magic, Mar,” says Lynn.
“And if there is, we shouldn’t be consulting it,” says Shauna. It’s the first thing she’s said since we sat down. She doesn’t even look at me when she says it; she just scowls at her younger sister.
“Shauna—” Zeke starts.
“Don’t ‘Shauna’ me!” she says, focusing her scowl on him instead. “Don’t you think someone with the aptitude for multiple factions might have a loyalty problem? If she’s got aptitude for Erudite, how can we be sure she’s not working for Erudite?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” says Tobias, his voice low.
“I am not being ridiculous. ” She smacks the table. “I know I belong in Dauntless because everything I did in that aptitude test told me so. I’m loyal to my faction for that reason—because there’s nowhere else I could possibly be. But her? And you?” She shakes her head. “I have no idea who you’re loyal to. And I’m not going to pretend like everything’s okay. ”
She gets up, and when Zeke reaches for her, she throws his hand aside, marching toward one of the doors. I watch her until the door closes behind her and the black fabric that hangs in front of it settles.
I feel wound up, like I might scream, only Shauna isn’t here for me to scream at.
“It’s not magic,” I say hotly. “You just have to ask yourself what the most logical response to a particular situation is. ”
I am greeted with blank stares.
“Seriously,” I say. “If I were in this situation, staring at a group of Dauntless guards and Jack Kang, I probably wouldn’t resort to violence, right?”
“Well, you might, if you had your own Dauntless guards. And then all it takes is one shot—bam, he’s dead, and Erudite’s better off,” says Zeke.
“Whoever they send to talk to Jack Kang isn’t going to be some random Erudite kid; it’s going to be someone important,” I say. “It would be a stupid move to fire on Jack Kang and risk losing whoever they send as Jeanine’s representative. ”
“See? This is why we need you to analyze the situation,” Zeke says. “If it was me, I would kill him; it would be worth the risk. ”
I pinch the bridge of my nose. I already have a headache. “Fine. ”
I try to put myself in Jeanine Matthews’s place. I already know she won’t negotiate with Jack Kang. Why would she need to? He has nothing to offer her. She will use the situation to her advantage.
“I think,” I say, “that Jeanine Matthews will manipulate him. And that he will do anything to protect his faction, even if it means sacrificing the Divergent. ” I pause for a moment, remembering how he held his faction’s influence over our heads at the meeting. “Or sacrificing the Dauntless. So we need to hear what they say in that meeting. ”
Uriah and Zeke exchange a look. Lynn smiles, but it isn’t her usual smile. It doesn’t spread to her eyes, which look more like gold than ever, with that coldness in them.
“So let’s listen in,” she says.
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