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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

TOBIAS TELLS ME this story:

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

When the Erudite reached the lobby stairwell, one of them didn’t go up to the second floor. Instead, she ran up to one of the highest levels of the building. There she evacuated a group of loyal Dauntless—including Tobias—to a fire escape the Dauntless traitors had not sealed off. Those loyal Dauntless gathered in the lobby and split into four groups that stormed the stairwells simultaneously, surrounding the Dauntless traitors, who had clustered around the elevator banks.

The Dauntless traitors were not prepared for that much resistance. They thought everyone but the Divergent was unconscious, so they ran.

The Erudite woman was Cara. Will’s older sister.

Heaving a sigh, I let the jacket slide from my arms and examine my shoulder. A metal disc about the size of my pinkie fingernail is pressed against my skin. Surrounding it is a patch of blue strands, like someone injected blue dye into the tiny veins just beneath the surface of my skin. Frowning, I try to peel the metal disc away from my arm, and feel a sharp pain.

Gritting my teeth, I wedge the flat of my knife blade under the disc and force it up. I scream into my teeth as the pain races through me, making everything go black for a moment. But I keep pushing, as hard as I can, until the disc lifts from my skin enough for me to get my fingers around it. Attached to the bottom of the disc is a needle.

I gag, grasp the disc in my fingertips, and pull one last time. This time, the needle comes free. It’s as long as my littlest finger and smeared with my blood. I ignore the blood running down my arm and hold the disc and the needle up to the light above the sink.

Judging by the blue dye in my arm and the needle, they must have injected us with something. But what? Poison? An explosive?

I shake my head. If they had wanted to kill us, most of us were unconscious already, so they could have just shot us all. Whatever they injected us with isn’t meant to kill us.

Someone knocks on the door. I don’t know why—I’m in a public restroom, after all.

“Tris, you in there?” Uriah’s muffled voice asks.

“Yeah,” I call back.

Uriah looks better than he did an hour ago—he washed the blood from his mouth, and some of the color has returned to his face. I’m struck, suddenly, by how handsome he is—all his features are proportionate, his eyes dark and lively, his skin bronze-brown. And he has probably always been that handsome. Only boys who have been handsome from a young age have that arrogance in their smile.

Not like Tobias, who is almost shy when he smiles, like he is surprised you bothered to look at him in the first place.

My throat aches. I put the needle and disc on the edge of the sink.

Uriah looks from me to the needle in my hand to the line of blood running from my shoulder to my wrist.

“Gross,” he says.

“Wasn’t paying attention,” I say. I set the needle down and grab a paper towel, mopping up the blood on my arm. “How are the others?”

“Marlene’s cracking jokes, as usual. ” Uriah’s smile grows, putting a dimple in his cheek. “Lynn’s grumbling. Wait, you yanked that out of your own arm?” He points to the needle. “God, Tris. Do you have no nerve endings or something?”

“I think I need a bandage. ”

“You think?” Uriah shakes his head. “You should get some ice for your face, too. So, everyone’s waking up now. It’s a madhouse out there. ”

I touch my jaw. It is tender where Eric’s gun struck me—I will have to put healing salve on it so it doesn’t bruise.

“Is Eric dead?” I don’t know which answer I’m hoping for, yes or no.

“No. Some of the Candor decided to give him medical treatment. ” Uriah scowls at the sink. “Something about honorable treatment of prisoners. Kang’s interrogating him in private right now. Doesn’t want us there, disturbing the peace or whatever. ”

I snort.

“Yeah. Anyway, no one gets it,” he says, perching on the edge of the sink next to mine. “Why storm in here and fire those things at us and then knock us all out? Why not just kill us?”

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

“No idea,” I say. “The only use I see for it is that it helped them figure out who’s Divergent and who’s not. But that can’t be the only reason they did it. ”

“I don’t get why they have it out for us. I mean, when they were trying to mind controlthemselves an army, sure, but now? Seems useless. ”

I frown as I press a clean paper towel to my shoulder, to stop the bleeding. He’s right. Jeanine already has an army. So why kill the Divergent now?

“Jeanine doesn’t want to kill everyone,” I say slowly. “She knows that would be illogical. Without each faction, society doesn’t function, because each faction trains its members for particular jobs. What she wants is control. ”

I glance up at my reflection. My jaw is swollen, and fingernail marks are still on my arms. Disgusting.

“She must be planning another simulation,” I say. “Same thing as before, but this time, she wants to make sure that everyone is either under its influence or dead. ”

“But the simulation only lasts for a certain period of time,” he says. “It’s not useful unless you’re trying to accomplish something specific. ”

“Right. ” I sigh. “I don’t know. I don’t get it. ” I pick up the needle. “I don’t get what this thing is either. If it was like the other simulation-inducing injections, it was just meant for one use. So why shoot these things at us just to put us unconscious? It doesn’t make any sense. ”

“I dunno, Tris, but right now we’ve got a huge building full of panicked people to deal with. Let’s go get you a bandage. ” He pauses and then says, “Can you do me a favor?”

“What is it?”

“Don’t tell anyone I’m Divergent. ” He bites his lip. “Shauna’s my friend, and I don’t want her to suddenly become afraid of me. ”

“Sure,” I say, forcing a smile. “I’ll keep it to myself. ”

I am awake all night removing needles from people’s arms. After a few hours I stop trying to be gentle. I just pull as hard as I can.

I find out that the Candor boy Eric shot in the head was named Bobby, and that Eric is in stable condition, and that of the hundreds of people in the Merciless Mart, only eighty don’t have needles buried in their flesh, seventy of whom are Dauntless, one of whom is Christina. All night I puzzle over needles and serums and simulations, trying to inhabit the minds of my enemies.

In the morning, I run out of needles to remove and go to the cafeteria, rubbing my eyes. Jack Kang announced that we would have a meeting at noon, so maybe I can fit in a long nap after I eat.

When I walk into the cafeteria, though, I see Caleb.

Caleb runs up to me and folds me carefully into his arms. I breathe a sigh of relief. I thought I had gotten to the point where I didn’t need my brother anymore, but I don’t think such a point actually exists. I relax against him for a moment, and catch Tobias’s eye over Caleb’s shoulder.

“Are you all right?” Caleb says, pulling back. “Your jaw . . . ”

“It’s nothing,” I say. “Just swollen. ”

“I heard they got a bunch of the Divergent and started shooting them. Thank God they didn’t find you. ”

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

“Actually, they did. But they only killed one,” I say. I pinch the bridge of my nose to relieve some of the pressure in my head. “But I’m all right. When did you get here?”

“About ten minutes ago. I came with Marcus,” he says. “As our only legal political leader, he felt it was his duty to be here—we didn’t hear about the attack until an hour ago. One of the factionless saw the Dauntless storming into the building, and news takes a while to travel among the factionless. ”

“Marcus is alive?” I say. We never actually saw him die when we escaped the Amity compound, but I just assumed he had—I’m not sure how I feel. Disappointed, maybe, because I hate him for how he treated Tobias? Or relieved, because the last Abnegation leader is still alive? Is it possible to feel both?

“He and Peter escaped, and walked back to the city,” says Caleb.

I am not at all relieved to find out that Peter is still alive. “Where’s Peter, then?”

“He is where you would expect him to be,” Caleb replies.

“Erudite,” I say. I shake my head. “What a—”

I can’t even think of a word strong enough to describe him. Apparently I need to expand my vocabulary.

Caleb’s face twists for a moment, then he nods and touches my shoulder. “Are you hungry? Want me to get you something?”

“Yes, please,” I say. “I’ll be back in a little while, okay? I have to talk to Tobias. ”

“All right. ” Caleb squeezes my arm and walks off, probably to get in the miles-long cafeteria line. Tobias and I stand yards away from each other for a few seconds.

He approaches me slowly.

“You okay?” he says.

“I might throw up if I have to answer that one more time,” I say. “I don’t have a bullet in my head, do I? So I’m good. ”

“Your jaw is so swollen you look like you have a wad of food in your cheek, and you just stabbed Eric,” he says, frowning. “I’m not allowed to ask if you’re okay?”

I sigh. I should tell him about Marcus, but I don’t want to do it here, with so many people around. “Yeah. I’m okay. ”

His arm jerks like he was thinking of touching me but decided against it. Then he reconsiders and slides his arm around me, pulling me to him.

Suddenly I think maybe I’ll let someone else take all the risks, maybe I’ll just start acting selfishly so that I can stay close to Tobias without hurting him. All I want is to bury my face in his neck and forget anything else exists.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to come get you,” he whispers into my hair.

I sigh and touch his back with just my fingertips. I could stand here until I go unconscious from exhaustion, but I shouldn’t; I can’t. I pull back and say, “I need to talk to you. Can we go somewhere quiet?”

He nods, and we leave the cafeteria. One of the Dauntless we pass yells, “Oh, look! It’s Tobias Eaton!”

I had almost forgotten about the interrogation, and the name it revealed to all of Dauntless.

Another one yells, “I saw your daddy here earlier, Eaton! Are you gonna go hide?”

Tobias straightens and stiffens, like someone is training a gun at his chest instead of jeering at him.

“Yeah, are you gonna hide, coward?”

A few people around us laugh. I grab Tobias’s arm and steer him toward the elevators before he can react. He looked like he was about to punch someone. Or worse.

“I was going to tell you—he came with Caleb,” I say. “He and Peter escaped Amity—”

“What were you waiting for, then?” he says, but not harshly. His voice sounds somehow detached from him, like it is floating between us.

“It’s not the kind of news you deliver in a cafeteria,” I say.

“Fair enough,” he says.

We wait in silence for the elevator, Tobias chewing on his lip and staring into space. He does that all the way to the eighteenth floor, which is empty. There, the silence wraps around me like Caleb’s embrace did, calming me. I sit down on one of the benches on the edge of the interrogation room, and Tobias pulls Niles’s chair over to sit in front of me.

“Didn’t there used to be two of these?” he says, frowning at the chair.

“Yeah,” I say. “I, uh . . . it got thrown out the window. ”

“Strange,” he says. He sits. “So what did you want to talk about? Or was that about Marcus?”

“No, that wasn’t it. Are you . . . all right?” I say cautiously.

“I don’t have a bullet in my head, do I?” he says, staring at his hands. “So I’m fine. I’d like to talk about something else. ”

“I want to talk about simulations,” I say. “But first, something else—your mother thought Jeanine would go after the factionless next. Obviously she was wrong—and I’m not sure why. It’s not like the Candor are battle ready or anything—”

“Well, think about it,” he says. “Think it through, like the Erudite. ”

I give him a look.

“What?” he says. “If you can’t, the rest of us have no hope. ”

“Fine,” I say. “Um . . . it had to be because Dauntless and Candor were the most logical targets. Because . . . the factionless are in multiple places, whereas we’re all in the same place. ”

“Right,” he says. “Also, when Jeanine attacked Abnegation, she got all the Abnegation data. My mother told me that the Abnegation had documented the factionless Divergent populations, which means that after the attack, Jeanine must have found out that the proportion of Divergent among the factionless is higher than among the Candor. That makes them an illogical target. ”

“All right. Then tell me about the serum again,” I say. “It has a few parts, right?”

“Two,” he says, nodding. “The transmitter and the liquid that induces the simulation. The transmitter communicates information to the brain from the computer, and vice versa, and the liquid alters the brain to put it in a simulation state. ”

I nod. “And the transmitter only works for one simulation, right? What happens to it after that?”

“It dissolves,” he says. “As far as I know, the Erudite haven’t been able to develop a transmitter that lasts for more than one simulation, although the attack simulation lasted far longer than any simulation I’ve seen before. ”

The words “as far as I know” stick in my mind. Jeanine has spent most of her adult life developing the serums. If she’s still hunting down the Divergent, she’s probably still obsessed with creating more advanced versions of the technology.

“What’s this about, Tris?” he says.

“Have you seen this yet?” I say, pointing at the bandage covering my shoulder.

“Not up close,” he says. “Uriah and I were hauling wounded Erudite up to the fourth floor all morning. ”

I peel away the edge of the bandage, revealing the puncture wound—no longer bleeding, thankfully—and the patch of blue dye that doesn’t seem to be fading. Then I reach into my pocket and take out the needle that was buried in my arm.

“When they attacked, they weren’t trying to kill us. They were shooting us with these,” I say.

His hand touches the dyed skin around the puncture wound. I didn’t notice it before because it was happening right in front of me, but he looks different than he used to, during initiation. He’s let his facial hair grow in a little, and his hair is longer than I’ve ever seen it—dense enough to show me that it is brown, not black.

He takes the needle from me and taps the metal disc at the end of it. “This is probably hollow. It must have contained whatever that blue stuff in your arm is. What happened after you were shot?”

“They tossed these gas-spewing cylinders into the room, and everyone went unconscious. That is, everyone but Uriah and me and the other Divergent. ”

Tobias doesn’t seem surprised. I narrow my eyes.

“Did you know that Uriah was Divergent?”

He shrugs. “Of course. I ran his simulations, too. ”

“And you never told me?”

“Privileged information,” he says. “Dangerous information. ”

I feel a flare of anger—how many things is he going to keep from me?—and try to stifle it. Of course he couldn’t tell me Uriah was Divergent. He was just respecting Uriah’s privacy. It makes sense.

I clear my throat. “You saved our lives, you know,” I say. “Eric was trying to hunt us down. ”

“I think we’re past keeping track of who has saved whose life. ” He looks at me for a few long seconds.

“Anyway,” I say to break the silence. “After we figured out that everyone was asleep, Uriah ran upstairs to warn the people who were up there, and I went to the second floor to figure out what was going on. Eric had all the Divergent by the elevators, and he was trying to figure out which of us he was going to take back with him. He said he was allowed to take two. I don’t know why he was going to take any. ”

“Odd,” he says.

“Any ideas?”

“My guess is that the needle injected you with a transmitter,” he says, “and the gas was an aerosol version of the liquid that alters the brain. But why . . . ” A crease appears between his eyebrows. “Oh. She put everyone to sleep to find out who the Divergent were. ”

“You think that’s the only reason for shooting us with transmitters?”

He shakes his head, and his eyes lock on mine. Their blue is so dark and familiar that I feel like it could swallow me whole. For a moment I wish it would, so that I could escape this place and all that has happened.

“I think you’ve already figured it out,” he says, “but you want me to contradict you. And I’m not going to. ”

“They’ve developed a long-lasting transmitter,” I say.

He nods.

“So now we’re all wired for multiple simulations,” I add. “As many as Jeanine wants, maybe. ”

He nods again.

My next breath shakes on the way out of my mouth. “This is really bad, Tobias. ”

In the hallway outside the interrogation room, he stops, leaning against the wall.

“So you attacked Eric,” he says. “Was that during the invasion? Or when you were by the elevators?”

“By the elevators,” I say.

“One thing I don’t understand,” he says. “You were downstairs. You could have just run away. But instead, you decided to dive into a crowd of armed Dauntless all by yourself. And I’m willing to bet you weren’t carrying a gun. ”

I press my lips together.

“Is that true?” he demands.

“What makes you think I didn’t have a gun?” I scowl.

“You haven’t been able to touch a gun since the attack,” he says. “I understand why, with the whole Will thing, but—”

“That has nothing to do with it. ”

“No?” He lifts his eyebrows.

“I did what I had to do. ”

“Yeah. But now you should be done,” he says, pulling away from the wall to face me. Candorhallways are wide, wide enough for all the space I want to keep between us. “You should have stayed with the Amity. You should have stayed far away from all of this. ”

“No, I shouldn’t have,” I say. “You think you know what’s best for me? You have no idea. I was going crazy with the Amity. Here I finally feel . . . sane again. ”

“Which is odd, considering you are acting like a psychopath,” he says. “It’s not brave, choosing the position you were in yesterday. It’s beyond stupid—it’s suicidal. Don’t you have any regard for your own life?”

“Of course I do!” I retort. “I was trying to do something useful!”

For a few seconds he just stares at me.

“You’re more than Dauntless,” he says in a low voice. “But if you want to be just like them, hurling yourself into ridiculous situations for no reason and retaliating against your enemies without any regard for what’s ethical, go right ahead. I thought you were better than that, but maybe I was wrong!”

I clench my hands, my jaw.

“You shouldn’t insult the Dauntless,” I say. “They took you in when you had nowhere else to go. Trusted you with a good job. Gave you all your friends. ”

I lean against the wall, my eyes on the floor. The tiles in the Merciless Mart are always black and white, and here they are in a checkered pattern. If I unfocus my eyes, I see exactly what the Candor don’t believe in—gray. Maybe Tobias and I don’t believe in it either. Not really.

I weigh too much, more than my frame can support, so much I should fall right through the floor.

“Tris. ”

I keep staring.

“Tris. ”

I finally look at him.

“I just don’t want to lose you. ”

We stand there for a few minutes. I don’t say what I’m thinking, which is that he might be right. There is a part of me that wants to be lost, that struggles to join my parents and Will so that I don’t have to ache for them anymore. A part of me that wants to see whatever comes next.

“So you’re her brother?” says Lynn. “I guess we know who got the good genes. ”

I laugh at the expression on Caleb’s face, his mouth drawn into a slight pucker and his eyes wide.

“When do you have to get back?” I say, nudging him with my elbow.

I bite into the sandwich Caleb got me from the cafeteria line. I am nervous to have him here, mixing the sad remains of my family life with the sad remains of my Dauntless life. What will he think of my friends, my faction? What will my faction think of him?

“Soon,” he says. “I don’t want anyone to worry. ”

“I didn’t realize Susan had changed her name to ‘Anyone,’” I say, raising an eyebrow.

“Ha-ha,” he says, making a face at me.

Teasing between siblings should feel familiar, but it doesn’t for us. Abnegation discouraged anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable, and teasing was included.

I can feel how cautious we are with each other, now that we’re discovering a different way to relate in light of our new factions and our parents’ deaths. Every time I look at him, I realize that he’s the only family I have left and I feel desperate, desperate to keep him around, desperate to narrow the gap between us.

“Is Susan another Erudite defector?” says Lynn, stabbing a string bean with her fork. Uriah and Tobias are still in the lunch line, waiting behind two dozen Candor who are too busy bickering to get their food.

“No, she was our neighbor when we were kids. She’s Abnegation,” I say.

“And you’re involved with her?” she asks Caleb. “Don’t you think that’s kind of a stupid move? I mean, when all this is over, you’ll be in different factions, living in completely different places. . . . ”

“Lynn,” Marlene says, touching her shoulder, “shut up, will you?”

Across the room, something blue catches my attention. Cara just walked in. I put down my sandwich, my appetite gone, and look up at her with my head lowered. She walks to the far corner of the cafeteria, where a few tables of Erudite refugees sit. Most of them have abandoned their blue clothes in favor of black-and-white ones, but they still wear their glasses. I try to focus on Caleb instead—but Caleb is watching the Erudite, too.

“I can’t go back to Erudite any more than they can,” says Caleb. “When this is over, I won’t have a faction. ”

For the first time I notice how sad he looks when he talks about the Erudite. I didn’t realize how difficult the decision to leave them must have been for him.

“You could go sit with them,” I say, nodding toward the Erudite refugees.

“I don’t know them. ” He shrugs. “I was only there for a month, remember?”

Uriah drops his tray on the table, scowling. “I overheard someone talking about Eric’s interrogation in the lunch line. Apparently he knew almost nothing about Jeanine’s plan. ”

“What?” Lynn slaps her fork on the table. “How is that even possible?”

Uriah shrugs, and sits.

“I’m not surprised,” Caleb says.

Everyone stares at him.

“What?” He flushes. “It would be stupid to confide your entire plan to one person. It’s infinitely smarter to give little pieces of it to each person working with you. That way, if someone betrays you, the loss isn’t too great. ”

“Oh,” says Uriah.

Lynn picks up her fork and starts eating again.

“I heard the Candor made ice cream,” says Marlene, twisting her head around to see the lunch line. “You know, as a kind of ‘it sucks we got attacked, but at least there are desserts’ thing. ”

“I feel better already,” says Lynn dryly.

“It probably won’t be as good as Dauntless cake,” says Marlene mournfully. She sighs, and a strand of mousy brown hair falls in her eyes.

“We had good cake,” I tell Caleb.

“We had fizzy drinks,” he says.

“Ah, but did you have a ledge overlooking an underground river?” says Marlene, waggling her eyebrows. “Or a room where you faced all your nightmares at once?”

“No,” says Caleb, “and to be honest, I’m kind of okay with that. ”

“Si-ssy,” sings Marlene.

“All your nightmares?” says Caleb, his eyes lighting up. “How does that work? I mean, are the nightmares produced by the computer or by your brain?”

“Oh God. ” Lynn drops her head into her hands. “Here we go. ”

Marlene launches into a description of the simulations, and I let her voice, and Caleb’s voice, wash over me as I finish my sandwich. Then, despite the clatter of forks and the roar of hundreds of conversations all around me, I rest my head on the table and fall asleep.

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