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I WAKE TO a headache. I try to go back to sleep—at least when I’m asleep, I’m calm—but the image of Caleb standing in the doorway runs through my mind over and over again, accompanied by the sound of squawking crows.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
Why did I never wonder how Eric and Jeanine knew that I had aptitude for three factions?
Why did it never occur to me that only three people in the world knew that particular fact: Tori, Caleb, and Tobias?
My head pounds. I can’t make sense of it. I don’t know why Caleb would betray me. I wonder when it happened—after the attack simulation? After the escape from Amity? Or was it earlier than that—was it back when my father was still alive? Caleb told us he left Erudite when he found out what they were planning—was he lying?
He must have been. I press the heel of my hand to my forehead. My brother chose faction over blood. There has to be a reason. She must have threatened him. Or coerced him in some way.
The door opens. I don’t lift my head or open my eyes.
“Stiff. ” It’s Peter. Of course.
“Yes. ” When I let my hand fall from my face, a lock of hair falls with it. I look at it from the corner of my eye. My hair has never been this greasy before.
Peter sets a bottle of water next to the bed, and a sandwich. The thought of eating it nauseates me.
“You brain-dead?” he asks.
“Don’t think so. ”
“Don’t be so sure. ”
“Ha-ha,” I say. “How long have I been asleep?”
“About a day. I’m supposed to escort you to the showers. ”
“If you say something about how badly I need one,” I say tiredly, “I will poke you in the eye. ”
The room spins when I lift my head, but I manage to put my legs over the edge of the bed and stand. Peter and I start down the hallway. When we turn the corner to get to the bathroom, though, there are people at the end of the hallway.
One of them is Tobias. I can see where our paths will intersect, between where I stand now and my cell door. I stare, not at him but at where he will be when he reaches for my hand, as he did the last time we passed each other. My skin tingles with anticipation. For just a moment, I will touch him again.
Six steps until we pass each other. Five steps.
At four steps, though, Tobias stops. His entire body goes limp, catching his Dauntless traitor escort off guard. The guard loses his grip on him for just a second, and Tobias crumples to the floor.
Then he twists around. Lurches forward. And grabs a gun from the shorter Dauntless traitor’s holster.
The gun goes off. Peter dives to the right, dragging me with him. My head skims the wall. The Dauntless guard’s mouth is open—he must be screaming. I can’t hear him.
Tobias kicks him hard in the stomach. The Dauntless in me admires his form—perfect—and his speed—incredible. Then he turns, training the gun on Peter. But Peter has already released me.
Tobias reaches for my left arm, helps me to my feet, and starts running. I stumble after him. Each time my foot hits the ground, pain slices into my head, but I can’t stop. I blink tears from my eyes. Run, I tell myself, as if that will make it easier. Tobias’s hand is rough and strong. I let it guide me around a corner.
“Tobias,” I wheeze.
He stops, and looks back at me. “Oh no,” he says, brushing my cheek with his fingers. “Come on. On my back. ”
He bends, and I put my arms around his neck, burying my face between his shoulder blades. He lifts me without difficulty and holds on to my leg with his left hand. His right hand still holds the gun.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
He runs, and even with my weight, he is fast. Idly I think, How could he ever have been Abnegation? He seems designed specifically for speed and deadly accuracy. But not strength, not particularly—he is smart, but not strong. Only strong enough to carry me.
The hallways are empty now, but not for long. Soon every Dauntless in the building will rush toward us from every angle, and we will be trapped in this pale maze. I wonder how Tobias plans to get past them.
I lift my head long enough to see that he just ran past an exit.
“Tobias, you missed it. ”
“Missed . . . what?” he says between breaths.
“An exit. ”
“Not trying to escape. We’d get shot if we did,” he says. “Trying to . . . find something. ”
I would suspect that I’m dreaming if the pain in my head wasn’t so intense. Usually only my dreams make this little sense. Why, if he was not trying to escape, did he take me with him? And what is he doing, if not escaping?
He stops abruptly, almost dropping me, as he reaches a wide hallway with panes of glass on either side, revealing offices. The Erudite sit frozen at their desks, staring at us. Tobias pays no attention to them; his eyes, as far as I can tell, are fixed on the door at the end of the corridor. A sign outside the door says CONTROL-A.
Tobias searches every corner of the room, and then shoots at the camera attached to the ceiling on our right. The camera drops. He shoots at the camera attached to the ceiling on our left. Its lens shatters.
“Time to get down,” he says. “No more running, I promise. ”
I slide off his back and take his hand instead. He walks toward a closed door that we passed already, and into a supply closet. He shuts the door and wedges a busted chair under the doorknob. I face him, a shelf stacked with paper at my back. Above us, the blue light flickers. His eyes roam over my face almost hungrily.
“I don’t have much time, so I’m going to be direct,” he says.
“I didn’t come here on some suicide mission,” he says. “I came for two reasons. The first was to find Erudite’s two central control rooms so that when we invade, we’ll know what to destroy first to get rid of all the simulation data, so she can’t activate the Dauntless’s transmitters. ”
That explains the running without escaping. And we found a control room, at the end of that hallway.
I stare at him, still dazed from the past few minutes.
“The second,” he says, clearing his throat, “is to make sure you hold on, because we have a plan. ”
“According to one of our insiders, your execution is tentatively scheduled for two weeks from today,” he says. “At least, that’s Jeanine’s target date for the new, Divergent-proof simulation. So fourteen days from now, the factionless, the loyal Dauntless, and the Abnegation who are willing to fight will storm the Erudite compound and take out their best weapon—their computer system. That means we’ll outnumber the traitor Dauntless, and therefore the Erudite. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“But you told Jeanine where the factionless safe houses were. ”
“Yeah. ” He frowns a little. “That is problematic. But as you and I know, a lot of the factionless are Divergent, and many of them were already moving toward the Abnegation sector when I left, so only some of the safe houses will be affected. So they will still have a huge population to contribute to the invasion. ”
Two weeks. Will I be able to make it through two weeks of this? I am already so tired I’m finding it difficult to stand on my own. Even the rescue that Tobias is proposing barely appeals to me. I don’t want freedom. I want sleep. I want this to end.
“I don’t . . . ” I choke on the words and start to cry. “I can’t . . . make it . . . that long. ”
“Tris,” he says sternly. He never coddles me. I wish that, just this once, he would coddle me. “You have to. You have to survive this. ”
“Why?” The question forms in my stomach and launches from my throat like a moan. I feel like thumping my fists against his chest, like a child throwing a tantrum. Tears cover my cheeks, and I know I’m acting ridiculous but I can’t stop. “Why do I have to? Why can’t someone else do something for once? What if I don’t want to do this anymore?”
And what this is, I realize, is life. I don’t want it. I want my parents and I have for weeks. I’ve been trying to claw my way back to them, and now I am so close and he is telling me not to.
“I know. ” I have never heard his voice sound so soft. “I know it’s hard. The hardest thing you’ve had to do. ”
I shake my head.
“I can’t force you. I can’t make you want to survive this. ” He pulls me against him and runs his hand over my hair, tucking it behind my ear. His fingers trail down my neck and over my shoulder, and he says, “But you will do it. It doesn’t matter if you believe you can or not. You will, because that’s who you are. ”
I pull back and fit my mouth to his, not gently, not hesitantly. I kiss him like I used to, when I felt sure of us, and run my hands over his back, down his arms, like I used to.
I don’t want to tell him the truth: that he is wrong, and I do not want to survive this.
The door opens. Dauntless traitors crowd into the supply closet. Tobias steps back, turns the gun in his hand, and offers it, handle first, to the nearest Dauntless traitor.
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