Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent 4) - Page 22

“Anyway,” I say. “Your fears are rarely what they appear to be in the simulation.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, are you really afraid of crows?” I grin. “When you see one, do you run away screaming?”

“No, I guess not.”

She moves closer to me. I felt safer when there was more space between us. Even closer, and I think about touching her, and my mouth goes dry. I almost never think about people that way, about girls that way.

“So what am I really afraid of?” she says.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Only you can know.”

“I didn’t know Dauntless would be this difficult.”

I’m glad to have something else to think about, other than how easy it would be to fit my hand to the arch of her back.

“It wasn’t always like this, I’m told. Being Dauntless, I mean.”

“What changed?”

“The leadership. The person who controls training sets the standard of Dauntless behavior. Six years ago Max and the other leaders changed the training methods to make them more competitive and more brutal.” Six years ago, the combat portion of training was brief and didn’t include bare-knuckled sparring. Initiates wore padding. The emphasis was on being strong and capable, and on developing camaraderie with the other initiates. And even when I was an initiate, it was better than this—an unlimited potential for initiates to become members, fights that stopped when one person conceded. “Said it was to test people’s strength. And that changed the priorities of Dauntless as a whole. Bet you can’t guess who the leaders’ new protégé is.”

Of course, she does immediately. “So if you were ranked first in your initiate class, what was Eric’s rank?”

“Second.”

“So he was their second choice for leadership. And you were their first.”

Perceptive. I don’t know that I was the first choice, but I was certainly a better option than Eric. “What makes you say that?”

“The way Eric was acting at dinner the first night. Jealous, even though he has what he wants.”

I’ve never thought of Eric that way. Jealous? Of what? I’ve never taken anything from him, never posed a real threat to him. He’s the one who came after Amar, who came after me. But maybe she’s right—maybe I never saw how frustrated he was to be second to a transfer from Abnegation, after all his hard work, or that I was favored by Max for leadership even when he was positioned here specifically to take the leadership role.

She wipes her face.

“Do I look like I’ve been crying?”

The question seems almost funny to me. Her tears vanished almost as quickly as they came, and now her face is fair again, her eyes dry, her hair smooth. Like nothing ever happened—like she didn’t just spend three minutes overwhelmed by terror. She’s stronger than I was.

“Hmm.” I lean in closer, making a joke of examining her, but then it’s not a joke, and I’m just close, and we’re sharing a breath.

“No, Tris,” I say. “You look …” I try a Dauntless expression. “Tough as nails.”

She smiles a little. So do I.

+++

“Hey,” Zeke says sleepily, leaning his head into his fist. “Want to take over for me? I practically need to tape my eyes open.”

“Sorry,” I say. “I just need to use a computer. You do know it’s only nine o’clock, right?”

He yawns. “I get tired when I’m bored out of my mind. Shift’s almost over, though.”

I love the control room at night. There are only three people monitoring the footage, so the room is silent except for the hum of computers. Through the windows I see only a sliver of the moon; everything else is dark. It’s hard to find peace in the Dauntless compound, and this is the place where I find it most often.

Zeke turns back to his screen. I sit at a computer a few seats over from him, and angle the screen away from the room. Then I log in, using the fake account name I set up several months ago, so no one would be able to track this back to me.

Once I’m logged in, I open the mirroring program that lets me use Max’s computer remotely. It takes a second to kick in, but when it does, it’s like I’m sitting in Max’s office, using the same machine he uses.

I work quickly, systematically. He labels his folders with numbers, so I don’t know what each one will contain. Most are benign, lists of Dauntless members or schedules of events. I open them and close them in seconds.

I go deeper into the files, folder after folder, and then I find something strange. A list of supplies, but the supplies don’t involve food or fabric or anything else I would expect for mundane Dauntless life—the list is for weapons. Syringes. And something marked Serum D2.

I can imagine only one thing that would require the Dauntless to have so many weapons: an attack. But on who?

I check the control room again, my heartbeat pounding in my head. Zeke is playing a computer game that he wrote himself. The second control-room operator is slumped to one side, her eyes half-closed. The third is stirring his glass of water idly with his straw, staring out the windows. No one is paying attention to me.

I open more files. After a few wasted efforts, I find a map. It’s marked mostly with letters and numbers, so at first I don’t know what it’s showing.

Then I open a map of the city on the Dauntless database to compare them, and sit back in my chair as I realize what streets Max’s map is focusing on.

The Abnegation sector.

The attack will be against Abnegation.

+++

It should have been obvious, of course. Who else would Max and Jeanine bother to attack? Max and Jeanine’s vendetta is against Abnegation, and it always has been. I should have realized that when the Erudite released that story about my father, the monstrous husband and father. The only true thing they’ve written, as far as I can tell.

Zeke nudges my leg with his foot. “Shift’s over. Bedtime?”

“No,” I say. “I need a drink.”

He perks up noticeably. It’s not every night I decide I want to abandon my sterile, withdrawn existence for an evening of Dauntless indulgence.

“I’m your man,” he says.

I close down the program, my account, everything. I try to leave the information about the Abnegation attack behind, too, until I can figure out what to do about it, but it chases me all the way into the elevator, through the lobby, and down the paths to the bottom of the Pit.

+++

I surface from the simulation with a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I detach from the wires and get up. She’s still recovering from the sensation of almost drowning, shaking her hands and taking deep breaths. I watch her for a moment, not sure how to say what I need to say.

“What?” she says.

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Crack the glass.”

“I don’t know.”

I nod, and offer her my hand. She gets up without any trouble, but she avoids my eyes. I check the corners of the room for cameras. There is one, just where I thought it would be, right across from us. I take her elbow and lead her out of the room, to a place where I know we won’t be observed, in the blind spot between two surveillance points.

“What?” she says irritably.

“You’re Divergent,” I say. I haven’t been very nice to her today. Last night I saw her and her friends by the chasm, and a lapse in judgment—or sobriety—led me to lean in too close, to tell her she looked good. I’m worried that I went too far. Now I’m even more worried, but for different reasons.

She cracked the glass. She’s Divergent. She’s in danger.

She stares.

Then she sinks against the wall, adopting an almost-convincing aura of casualness. “What’s Divergent?”

“Don’t play stupid,” I say. “I suspected it last time, but this time it’s obvious. You manipulated the simulation; you’re Divergent. I’ll delete the footage, but unless you want

to wind up dead at the bottom of the chasm, you’ll figure out how to hide it during the simulations! Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

I walk back to the simulation room, pulling the door closed behind me. It’s easy to delete the footage—just a few keystrokes and it’s done, the record clean. I double-check her file, making sure the only thing that’s in there is the data from the first simulation. I’ll have to come up with a way to explain where the data from this session went. A good lie, one that Eric and Max will actually believe.

In a hurry, I take out my pocketknife and wedge it between the panels covering the motherboard of the computer, prying them apart. Then I go into the hallway, to the drinking fountain, and fill my mouth with water.

When I return to the simulation room, I spit some of the water into the gap between the panels. I put my knife away and wait.

A minute or so later, the screen goes dark. Dauntless headquarters is basically a leaky cave—water damage happens all the time.

+++

I was desperate.

I sent a message through the same factionless man I used as a messenger last time I wanted to get in touch with my mother. I arranged to meet her inside the last car of the ten-fifteen train from Dauntless headquarters. I assume she’ll know how to find me.

I sit with my back against the wall, an arm curled around one of my knees, and watch the city pass. Night trains don’t move as fast as day trains between stops. It’s easier to observe how the buildings change as the train draws closer to the center of the city, how they grow taller but narrower, how pillars of glass stand next to smaller, older stone structures. Like one city layered on top of another on top of another.

Someone runs alongside the train when it reaches the north side of the city. I stand up, holding one of the railings along the wall, and Evelyn stumbles into the car wearing Amity boots, an Erudite dress, and a Dauntless jacket. Her hair is pulled back, making her already-severe face even harsher.

Tags: Veronica Roth Divergent Science Fiction
Source: readsnovelonline.com
readsnovelonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2023