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 Beatrice Prior, 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.”
“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.
THE PAIN SUBSIDES to a dull ache. I slide my hand under my jacket and feel for the wound.
I’m not bleeding. But the force of the gunshot knocked me down, so I had to have been hit with something. I run my fingers over my shoulder, and feel a hard bump where the skin used to be smooth.
I hear a crack against the floor next to my face, and a metal cylinder about the size of my hand rolls to a stop against my head. Before I can move it, white smoke sprays out of both ends. I cough, and throw it away from me, deeper into the lobby. It isn’t the only cylinder, though—they are everywhere, filling the room with smoke that does not burn or sting. In fact, it only obscures my view for a few seconds before evaporating completely.
What was the point of that?
Lying on the floor all around me are Dauntless soldiers with their eyes closed. I frown as I look Uriah up and down—he doesn’t seem to be bleeding. I see no wound near his vital organs, which means he isn’t dead. So what knocked him unconscious? I look over my left shoulder, where Lynn fell in a strange, half-curled position. She’s also unconscious.
The Dauntless traitors walk into the lobby, their guns held up. I decide to do what I always do when I’m not sure what’s going on: I act like everyone else. I let my head drop and close my eyes. My heart pounds as the Dauntless’s footsteps come closer, and closer, squeaking on the marble floors. I bite my tongue to suppress a cry of pain as one of them steps on my hand.
“Not sure why we can’t just shoot them all in the head,” one of them says. “If there’s no army, we win.”
“Now, Bob, we can’t just kill everyone,” a cold voice says.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I would know that voice anywhere. It belongs to Eric, leader of the Dauntless.
“No people means no one left to create prosperous conditions,” Eric continues. “Anyway, it’s not your job to ask questions.” He raises his voice. “Half in the elevators, half in the stairwells, left and right! Go!”
There’s a gun a few feet to my left. If I opened my eyes, I could grab it and fire at him before he knew what hit him. But there’s no guarantee I would be able to touch it without panicking again.
I wait until I hear the last footstep disappear behind an elevator door or into a stairwell before opening my eyes. Everyone in the lobby appears to be unconscious. Whatever they gassed us with, it had to be simulation-inducing or I wouldn’t be the only one awake. It doesn’t make any sense—it doesn’t follow the simulation rules I’m familiar with—but I don’t have time to think it through.
I grab my knife and get up, trying to ignore the ache in my shoulder. I run over to one of the dead Dauntless traitors near the doorway. She was middle-aged; there are hints of gray in her dark hair. I try not to look at the bullet wound in her head, but the dim light glows on what looks like bone, and I gag.
Think. I don’t care who she was, or what her name was, or how old she was. I care only about the blue armband she wears. I have to focus on that. I try to hook my finger around the fabric, but it doesn’t come loose. It appears to be attached to her black jacket. I will have to take that, too.
I unzip my jacket and toss it over her face so I don’t have to look at her. Then I unzip her jacket and pull it, first from her left arm, and then from her right arm, gritting my teeth as I slide it from beneath her heavy body.
“Tris!” someone says. I turn around, jacket in one hand, knife in the other. I put the knife away—the invading Dauntless weren’t carrying them, and I don’t want to be conspicuous.
Uriah stands behind me.
“Divergent?” I ask him. There is no time to be shocked.
“Yeah,” he says.
“Get a jacket,” I say.
He crouches next to one of the other Dauntless traitors, this one young, not even old enough to be a Dauntless member. I flinch at the sight of his death-pale face. Someone so young shouldn’t be dead; shouldn’t even have been here in the first place.
My face hot with anger, I shrug the woman’s jacket on. Uriah pulls his own jacket on, his mouth pinched.
“They’re the only ones who are dead,” he says quietly. “Something about that seem wrong to you?”
“They must have known we would shoot at them, but they came anyway,” I say. “Questions later. We have to get up there.”
“Up there? Why?” he says. “We should get out of here.”
“You want to run away before you know what’s going on?” I scowl at him. “Before the Dauntless upstairs know what hit them?”
“What if someone recognizes us?”
I shrug. “We just have to hope they won’t.”
I sprint toward the stairwell, and he follows me. As soon as my foot touches the first stair, I wonder what on earth I intend to do. There are bound to be more of the Divergent in this building, but will they know what they are? Will they know to hide? And what do I expect to gain from submerging myself in an army of Dauntless traitors?