“She’s gone,” I say. “She saved me.”
Caleb closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
My father looks momentarily stricken and then recovers himself, averting his glistening eyes and nodding.
“That is good,” he says, sounding strained. “A good death.”
If I speak right now, I will break down, and I can’t afford to do that. So I just nod.
Eric called Al’s suicide brave, and he was wrong. My mother’s death was brave. I remember how calm she was, how determined. It isn’t just brave that she died for me; it is brave that she did it without announcing it, without hesitation, and without appearing to consider another option.
He helps me to my feet. Time to face the rest of the room. My mother told me to save them. Because of that, and because I am Dauntless, it’s my duty to lead now. I have no idea how to bear that burden.
Marcus gets up. A vision of him whipping my arm with a belt rushes into my mind when I see him, and my chest squeezes.
“We are only safe here for so long,” Marcus says eventually. “We need to get out of the city. Our best option is to go to the Amity compound in the hope that they’ll take us in. Do you know anything about the Dauntless strategy, Beatrice? Will they stop fighting at night?”
“It’s not Dauntless strategy,” I say. “This whole thing is masterminded by the Erudite. And it’s not like they’re giving orders.”
“Not giving orders,” my father says. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” I say, “ninety percent of the Dauntless are sleepwalking right now. They’re in a simulation and they don’t know what they’re doing. The only reason I’m not just like them is that I’m…” I hesitate on the word. “The mind control doesn’t affect me.”
“Mind control? So they don’t know that they’re killing people right now?” my father asks me, his eyes wide.
“That’s…awful.” Marcus shakes his head. His sympathetic tone sounds manufactured to me. “Waking up and realizing what you’ve done…”
The room goes quiet, probably as all the Abnegation imagine themselves in the place of the Dauntless soldiers, and that’s when it occurs to me.
“We have to wake them up,” I say.
“What?” Marcus says.
“If we wake the Dauntless up, they will probably revolt when they realize what’s going on,” I explain. “The Erudite won’t have an army. The Abnegation will stop dying. This will be over.”
“It won’t be that simple,” my father says. “Even without the Dauntless helping them, the Erudite will find another way to—”
“And how are we supposed to wake them up?” Marcus says.
“We find the computers that control the simulation and destroy the data,” I say. “The program. Everything.”
“Easier said than done,” Caleb says. “It could be anywhere. We can’t just appear at the Erudite compound and start poking around.”
“It’s…” I frown. Jeanine. Jeanine was talking about something important when Tobias and I came into her office, important enough to hang up on someone. You can’t just leave it undefended. And then, when she was sending Tobias away: Send him to the control room. The control room where Tobias used to work. With the Dauntless security monitors. And the Dauntless computers.
“It’s at Dauntless headquarters,” I say. “It makes sense. That’s where all the data about the Dauntless is stored, so why not control them from there?”
I faintly register that I said them. As of yesterday, I technically became Dauntless, but I don’t feel like one. And I am not Abnegation, either.
I guess I am what I’ve always been. Not Dauntless, not Abnegation, not factionless. Divergent.
“Are you sure?” my father asks.
“It’s an informed guess,” I say, “and it’s the best theory I have.”
“Then we’ll have to decide who goes and who continues on to Amity,” he says. “What kind of help do you need, Beatrice?”
The question stuns me, as does the expression he wears. He looks at me like I’m a peer. He speaks to me like I’m a peer. Either he has accepted that I am an adult now, or he has accepted that I am no longer his daughter. The latter is more likely, and more painful.
“Anyone who can and will fire a gun,” I say, “and isn’t afraid of heights.”
ERUDITE AND DAUNTLESS forces are concentrated in the Abnegation sector of the city, so as long as we run away from the Abnegation sector, we are less likely to encounter difficulty.
I didn’t get to decide who is coming with me. Caleb was the obvious choice, since he knows the most about the Erudite plan. Marcus insisted that he go, despite my protests, because he is good with computers. And my father acted like his place was assumed from the beginning.
I watch the others run in the opposite direction—toward safety, toward Amity—for a few seconds, and then I turn away, toward the city, toward the war. We stand next to the railroad tracks, which will carry us into danger.
“What time is it?” I ask Caleb.
He checks his watch. “Three twelve.”
“Should be here any second,” I say.
“Will it stop?” he asks.
I shake my head. “It goes slowly through the city. We’ll run next to the car for a few feet and then climb inside.”
Jumping on trains seems easy to me now, natural. It won’t be as easy for the rest of them, but we can’t stop now. I look over my left shoulder and see the headlights burning gold against the gray buildings and roads. I bounce on the balls of my feet as the lights grow larger and larger, and then the front of the train glides past me, and I start jogging. When I see an open car, I pick up my pace to keep stride with it and grab the handle on the left, swinging myself inside.
Caleb jumps, landing hard and rolling on his side to get in, and he helps Marcus. My father lands on his stomach, pulling his legs in behind him. They move away from the doorway, but I stand on the edge with one hand on a handle, watching the city pass.
If I were Jeanine, I would send the majority of Dauntless soldiers to the Dauntless entrance above the Pit, outside the glass building. It would be smarter to go in the back entrance, the one that requires jumping off a building.
“I assume you now regret choosing Dauntless,” Marcus says.
I am surprised my father didn’t ask that question, but he, like me, is watching the city. The train passes the Erudite compound, which is dark now. It looks peaceful from a distance, and inside those walls, it probably is peaceful. Far removed from the conflict and the reality of what they have done.
I shake my head.
“Not even after your faction’s leaders decided to join in a plot to overthrow the government?” Marcus spits.
“There were some things I needed to learn.”
“How to be brave?” my father says quietly.
“How to be selfless,” I say. “Often they’re the same thing.”
“Is that why you got Abnegation’s symbol tattooed on your shoulder?” Caleb asks. I am almost sure that I see a smile in my father’s eyes.
I smile faintly back and nod. “And Dauntless on the other.”
The glass building above the Pit reflects sunlight into my eyes. I stand, holding the handle next to the door for balance. Almost there.
“When I tell you to jump,” I say, “you jump, as far as you can.”
“Jump?” Caleb asks. “We’re seven stories up, Tris.”
“Onto a roof,” I add. Seeing the stunned look on his face, I say, “That’s why they call it a test of bravery.”
Half of bravery is perspective. The first time I did this, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Now, preparing to jump off a moving train is nothing, because I have done more difficult things in the past few weeks than most people will in a lifetime. And yet none of it compares to what I am about to do in the Dauntless compound. If I survive, I will undoubtedly go on to do far more difficult things than even that, like live without a faction, something I never imagined possible.
“Dad, you go,” I say, stepping back so he can stand by the edge. If he and Marcus go first, I can time it so they have to jump the shortest distance. Hopefully Caleb and I can jump far enough to make it, because we’re younger. It’s a chance I have to take.
The train tracks curve, and when they line up with the edge of the roof, I shout, “Jump!”
My father bends his knees and launches himself forward. I don’t wait to see if he makes it. I shove Marcus forward and shout, “Jump!”
My father lands on the roof, so close to the edge that I gasp. He sits down on the gravel, and I push Caleb in front of me. He stands at the edge of the train car and jumps without me having to tell him to. I take a few steps back to give myself a running start and leap out of the car just as the train reaches the end of the roof.
For an instant I am suspended in nothingness, and then my feet slam into cement and I stumble to the side, away from the roof’s edge. My knees ache, and the impact shudders through my body, making my shoulder throb. I sit down, breathing hard, and look across the rooftop. Caleb and my father stand at the edge of the roof, their hands around Marcus’s arms. He didn’t make it, but he hasn’t fallen yet.
Somewhere inside me, a vicious voice chants: fall, fall, fall.
But he doesn’t. My father and Caleb haul him onto the roof. I stand up, brushing gravel off my pants. The thought of what comes next has me preoccupied. It is one thing to ask people to jump off a train, but a roof?
“This next part is why I asked about fear of heights,” I say, walking to the edge of the roof. I hear their shuffling footsteps behind me and step onto the ledge. Wind rushes up the side of the building and lifts my shirt from my skin. I stare down at the hole in the ground, seven stories below me, and then close my eyes as the air blows over my face.
“There’s a net at the bottom,” I say, looking over my shoulder. They look confused. They haven’t figured out what I am asking them to do yet.
“Don’t think,” I say. “Just jump.”
I turn, and as I turn, I lean back, compromising my balance. I drop like a stone, my eyes closed, one arm outstretched to feel the wind. I relax my muscles as much as I can before I hit the net, which feels like a slab of cement hitting my shoulder. I grit my teeth and roll to the edge, grabbing the pole that supports the net, and swing my leg over the side. I land on my knees on the platform, my eyes blurry with tears.
Caleb yelps as the net curls around his body and then straightens. I stand with some difficulty.
“Caleb!” I hiss. “Over here!”
Breathing heavily, Caleb crawls to the side of the net and drops over the edge, hitting the platform hard. Wincing, he pushes himself to his feet and stares at me, his mouth open.
“How many times…have you…done that?” he asks between breaths.
“Twice now,” I say.
He shakes his head.
When my father hits the net, Caleb helps him across. When he stands on the platform, he leans and vomits over the side. I descend the stairs, and when I get to the bottom, I hear Marcus hit the net with a groan.
The cavern is empty and the hallways stretch into darkness.
Jeanine made it sound like there was no one left in the Dauntless compound except the soldiers she sent back to guard the computers. If we can find Dauntless soldiers, we can find the computers. I look over my shoulder. Marcus stands on the platform, white as a sheet but unharmed.
“So this is the Dauntless compound,” says Marcus.
“Yes,” I say. “And?”
“And I never thought I would get to see it,” he replies, his hand skimming a wall. “No need to be so defensive, Beatrice.”
I never noticed how cold his eyes were before.
“Do you have a plan, Beatrice?” my father says.
“Yes.” And it’s true. I do, though I’m not sure when I developed it.
I’m also not sure it will work. I can count on a few things: There aren’t many Dauntless in the compound, the Dauntless aren’t known for their subtlety, and I’ll do anything to stop them.
We walk down the hallway that leads to the Pit, which is striped with light every ten feet. When we walk into the first patch of light, I hear a gunshot and drop to the ground. Someone must have seen us. I crawl into the next dark patch. The spark from the gun flashed across the room by the door that leads to the Pit.
“Everyone okay?” I ask.
“Yes,” my father says.
“Stay here, then.”
I run to the side of the room. The lights protrude from the wall, so directly beneath each one is a slit of shadow. I am small enough to hide in it, if I turn to the side. I can creep along the edge of the room and surprise whatever guard is shooting at us before he gets the chance to fire a bullet into my brain. Maybe.
One of the things I thank Dauntless for is the preparedness that eliminates my fear.
“Whoever’s there,” a voice shouts, “surrender your weapons and put your hands up!”
I turn to the side and press my back to the stone wall. I shuffle quickly sideways, one foot crossing over the other, squinting to see through the semidarkness. Another gunshot fires into silence. I reach the last light and stand for a moment in shadow, letting my eyes adjust.
I can’t win a fight, but if I can move fast enough, I won’t have to fight. My footsteps light, I walk toward the guard who stands by the door. A few yards away, I realize that I know that dark hair that always gleams, even in relative darkness, and that long nose with a narrow bridge.
Cold slips over my skin and around my heart and into the pit of my stomach.
His face is tense—he isn’t a sleepwalker. He looks around, but his eyes search the air above me and beyond me. Judging by his silence, he does not intend to negotiate with us; he will kill us without question.