SHAUNA LIES ON the ground, facedown, blood pooling on her shirt. Lynn crouches at her side. Staring. Doing nothing.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“It’s my fault,” Lynn mumbles. “I shouldn’t have shot him. I shouldn’t have . . . ”
I stare at the patch of blood. A bullet hit her in the back. I can’t tell if she’s breathing or not. Tobias places two fingers on the side of her neck, and nods.
“We’ve got to get out of here,” he says. “Lynn. Look at me. I’m going to carry her, and it’s going to hurt her a lot, but it’s our only option. ”
Lynn nods. Tobias crouches next to Shauna and puts his hands under her arms. He lifts her, and she moans. I rush forward to help him pull her limp body over his shoulder. My throat tightens, and I cough to relieve the pressure.
Tobias stands with a grunt of effort, and together we walk toward the Merciless Mart—Lynn in front, with her gun, and me in the back. I walk backward to watch behind us, but I don’t see anyone. I think the Dauntless traitors retreated. But I have to make sure.
“Hey!” someone shouts. It’s Uriah, jogging toward us. “Zeke had to help them get Jack . . . oh no. ” He stops. “Oh no. Shauna?”
“Now’s not the time,” says Tobias sharply. “Run back to the Merciless Mart and get a doctor. ”
But Uriah just stares.
“Uriah! Go, now!” The shout rings with nothing on the street to soften the sound of it. Uriah finally turns and sprints in the direction of the Merciless Mart.
It’s only half a mile back, but with Tobias’s grunts and Lynn’s uneven breathing and the knowledge that Shauna is bleeding to death, it feels endless. I watch the muscles in Tobias’s back expanding and contracting with each labored breath, and I don’t hear our footsteps; I hear only my heartbeat. When we finally reach the doors, I feel like I might throw up, or faint, or scream at the top of my lungs.
Uriah, an Erudite man with a comb-over, and Cara meet us just inside the entrance. They set up a sheet for Shauna to lie on. Tobias lowers her onto it, and the doctor gets to work immediately, cutting the shirt away from Shauna’s back. I turn away. I don’t want to see the bullet wound.
Tobias stands in front of me, his face red with exertion. I want him to fold me into his arms again, like he did after the last attack, but he doesn’t, and I know better than to initiate it.
“I’m not going to pretend to know what’s going on with you,” he says. “But if you senselessly risk your life again—”
“I am not senselessly risking my life. I am trying to make sacrifices, like my parents would have, like—”
“You are not your parents. You are a sixteen-year-old girl—”
I grit my teeth. “How dare you—”
“—who doesn’t understand that the value of a sacrifice lies in its necessity, not in throwing your life away! And if you do that again, you and I are done. ”
I wasn’t expecting him to say that.
“You’re giving me an ultimatum?” I try to keep my voice down so the others can’t hear.
He shakes his head. “No, I’m telling you a fact. ” His lips are just a line. “If you throw yourself into danger for no reason again, you will have become nothing more than a Dauntless adrenaline junkie looking for a hit, and I’m not going to help you do it. ” He spits the words out bitterly. “I love Tris the Divergent, who makes decisions apart from faction loyalty, who isn’t some faction archetype. But the Tris who’s trying as hard as she can to destroy herself . . . I can’t love her. ”
I want to scream. But not because I’m angry, because I’m afraid he’s right. My hands shake and I grab the hem of my shirt to steady them.
He touches his forehead to mine and closes his eyes. “I believe you’re still in there,” he says against my mouth. “Come back. ”
He kisses me lightly, and I am too shocked to stop him.
He walks back to Shauna’s side, and I stand over one of the Candor scales in the lobby, at a loss.
“It’s been a while. ”Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
I sink down on the bed across from Tori. She is sitting up, her leg propped on a stack of pillows.
“Yes, it has,” I say. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I got shot. ” A smile plays over her lips. “I hear you’re familiar with the feeling. ”
“Yeah. It’s great, right?” All I can think of is the bullet in Shauna’s back. At least Tori and I will recover from our wounds.
“Did you discover anything interesting at Jack’s meeting?” she says.
“A few things. Do you know how we might go about calling a Dauntless meeting?”
“I can make it happen. One thing about being a tattoo artist in Dauntless is . . . you know pretty much everyone. ”
“Right,” I say. “You also have the prestige of being a former spy. ”
Tori’s mouth twists. “I had almost forgotten. ”
“Did you discover anything interesting? As a spy, I mean. ”
“My mission was primarily focused on Jeanine Matthews. ” She glares at her hands. “How she spends her days. And, more importantly, where she spends them. ”
“Not in her office, then?”
Tori doesn’t answer at first.
“I guess I can trust you, Divergent. ” She looks at me from the corner of her eye. “She has a private laboratory on the top level. Insane security measures protecting it. I was trying to get up there when they figured out what I was. ”
“You were trying to get up there,” I say. Her eyes flit away from mine. “Not to spy, I take it. ”
“I thought it would be more . . . expedient if Jeanine Matthews didn’t survive much longer. ”
I see a kind of thirst in her expression, the same one I saw when she told me about her brother in the back room of the tattoo parlor. Before the attack simulation I might have called it a thirst for justice, or even revenge, but now I am able to identify it as a thirst for blood. And even as it frightens me, I understand it.
Which should probably frighten me even more.
Tori says, “I’ll work on calling that meeting. ”
The Dauntless are gathered in the space between the rows of bunk beds and the doors, which are held shut by a tightly wrapped bedsheet, the best lock the Dauntless could muster. I have no doubt that Jack Kang will agree to Jeanine’s demands. We aren’t safe here anymore.Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)
“What were the terms?” Tori says. She sits in a chair between a few of the bunks, her wounded leg stuck out in front of her. She asks Tobias, but he doesn’t seem to be paying attention. He is leaning against one of the bunks, his arms crossed, staring at the floor.
I clear my throat. “There were three. Return Eric to the Erudite. Report the names of all people who did not get shot with needles last time. And deliver the Divergent to Erudite headquarters. ”
I look at Marlene. She smiles back at me a little sadly. She is probably worried about Shauna, who is still with the Erudite doctor. Lynn, Hector, their parents, and Zeke are with her.
“If Jack Kang is making deals with the Erudite, we can’t stay here,” says Tori. “So where can we go?”
I think of the blood on Shauna’s shirt, and long for the Amity orchards, the sound of the wind in the leaves, the feeling of bark beneath my hands. I never thought I would crave that place. I didn’t think it was in me.
I close my eyes briefly, and when I open them I am in reality, and Amity is a dream.
“Home,” Tobias says, lifting his head at last. Everyone is listening. “We should take back what’s ours. We can break the security cameras in Dauntless headquarters so the Erudite can’t see us. We should go home. ”
Someone assents with a shout, and someone else joins in. That is how things in Dauntless are decided: with nods and yells. In these moments we don’t seem like individuals anymore. We are all a part of the same mind.
“But before we do that,” says Bud, who once worked with Tori in the tattoo parlor and who now stands with his hand on the back of Tori’s chair, “we need to decide what to do about Eric. To let him stay here with the Erudite, or to execute him. ”
“Eric is Dauntless,” Lauren says, turning the ring in her lip with her fingertips. “That means we decide what happens to him. Not Candor. ”
This time a yell tears from my body of its own volition, joining with the others in agreement.
“According to Dauntless law, only Dauntless leaders can perform an execution. All five of our former leaders are Dauntless traitors,” says Tori. “So I think it’s time we pick new ones. The law says we need more than one, and we need an odd number. If you’ve got suggestions, you should shout them out now, and we’ll vote if we need to. ”
“You!” someone calls out.
“Okay,” says Tori. “Anyone else?”
Marlene cups her hands around her mouth and calls out, “Tris!”
My heart pounds. But to my surprise, no one mutters in dissent and no one laughs. Instead, a few people nod, just like they did when Tori’s name was mentioned. I scan the crowd and find Christina. She stands with her arms crossed, and does not seem to react at all to my nomination.
I wonder how I seem to them. They must see someone I don’t see. Someone capable and strong. Someone I can’t be; someone I can be.
Tori acknowledges Marlene with a nod and scans the crowd for another recommendation.
“Harrison,” someone says. I don’t know who Harrison is until someone slaps a middle-aged man with a blond ponytail on the shoulder, and he grins. I recognize him—he’s the Dauntless man who called me “girl” when Zeke and Tori came back from Erudite headquarters.
The Dauntless are quiet for a moment.
“I’m going to nominate Four,” says Tori.
Apart from a few angry murmurs in the back of the room, no one disagrees. No one is calling him a coward anymore, not after he beat up Marcus in the cafeteria. I wonder how they would react if they knew how calculated that move was.
Now he could get exactly what he intended to get. Unless I stand in his way.
“We only need three leaders,” Tori says. “We’ll have to vote. ”
. The more reckless I get, the more popular I am with the Dauntless.
Tobias looks at me. I can’t be popular with the Dauntless, because Tobias is right—I’m not Dauntless; I’m Divergent. I am whatever I choose to be. And I can’t choose to be this. I have to stay separate from them.
“No,” I say. I clear my throat and say it louder. “No, you don’t have to vote. I refuse my nomination. ”
Tori raises her eyebrows at me. “Are you sure, Tris?”
“Yes,” I say. “I don’t want it. I’m sure. ”
And then, without argument and without ceremony, Tobias is elected to be a leader of Dauntless. And I am not.
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