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Home > Four: The Traitor (Divergent 0.4)(4)

Four: The Traitor (Divergent 0.4)(4)
Author: Veronica Roth

“Eric is as involved in initiation as he is because you refused to follow orders last year—” Last year, in the training room, I stopped all the fights before the injuries became too severe, against Eric’s command that the fighting only stop when one person was unable to continue. I nearly lost my position as initiation instructor as a result; I would have, if Max hadn’t gotten involved.

“—and I wanted to give you another chance to make it right, with closer monitoring,” Max says. “You’re failing to do so. You’ve gone too far.”

The sweat I worked up on my way here has turned cold. He steps back and opens his door again.

“Get out of my apartment and deal with your initiates,” Max says. “Don’t let me see you step out of line again.”

“Yes, sir,” I say quietly, and I leave.

I go to see Edward in the infirmary early in the morning, when the sun is rising, shining through the glass ceiling of the Pit. His head is wrapped in white bandages, and he’s not moving, not speaking. I don’t say anything to him, just sit by his head and watch the minutes tick by on the wall clock.

I’ve been an idiot. I thought I was invincible, that Max’s desire to have me as a fellow leader would never waver, that on some level he trusted me. I should have known better. All Max ever wanted was a pawn—that’s what my mother said.

I can’t be a pawn. But I’m not sure what I should be instead.

The setting Tris Prior invents is eerie and almost beautiful, the sky yellow-green, yellow grass stretching for miles in every direction.

Watching someone else’s fear simulation is strange. Intimate. I don’t feel right about forcing other people to be vulnerable, even if I don’t like them. Every human being is entitled to her secrets. Watching my initiates’ fears, one after another, makes me feel like my skin has been scraped raw with sandpaper.

In Tris’s simulation, the yellow grass is perfectly still. If the air wasn’t stagnant, I would say this was a dream, not a nightmare—but still air means only one thing to me, and that is a coming storm.

A shadow moves across the grass, and a large black bird lands on her shoulder, curling its talons into her shirt. My fingertips prickle, remembering how I touched her shoulder when she walked into the simulation room, how I brushed her hair away from her neck to inject her. Stupid. Careless.

She hits the black bird, hard, and then everything happens at once. Thunder rumbles; the sky darkens, not with storm clouds, but with birds, an impossibly huge swarm of them, moving in unison like many parts of the same mind.

The sound of her scream is the worst sound in the world, desperate—she’s desperate for help and I am desperate to help her, though I know what I’m seeing isn’t real, I know it. The crows keep coming, relentless, surrounding her, burying her alive in dark feathers. She screams for help and I can’t help her and I don’t want to watch this, I don’t want to watch another second.

But then, she starts to move, shifting so she’s lying in the grass, relenting, relaxing. If she’s in pain now she doesn’t show it; she just closes her eyes and surrenders, and that is worse than her screaming for help, somehow.

Then it’s over.

She lurches forward in the metal chair, smacking at her body to get the birds off, though they’re gone. Then she curls into a ball and hides her face.

I reach out to touch her shoulder, to reassure her, and she hits my arm, hard. “Don’t touch me!”

“It’s over,” I say, wincing—she punches harder than she realizes. I ignore the pain and run a hand over her hair, because I’m stupid, and inappropriate, and stupid . . .

“Tris.”

She just shifts back and forth, soothing herself.

“Tris, I’m going to take you back to the dorms, okay?”

“No! They can’t see me . . . not like this. . . .”

This is what Eric’s new system creates: A brave human being has just defeated one of her worst fears in less than five minutes, an ordeal that takes most people at least twice that time, but she’s terrified to go back into the hallway, to be seen as weak or vulnerable in any way. Tris is Dauntless, plain and simple, but this faction isn’t really Dauntless anymore.

“Oh, calm down,” I say, more irritable than I mean to be. “I’ll take you out the back door.”

“I don’t need you to . . .” I can see her hands trembling even as she shrugs off my offer.

“Nonsense,” I say. I take her arm and help her to her feet. She wipes her eyes as I move toward the back door. Amar once took me through this door, tried to walk me back to the dormitory even when I didn’t want him to, the way she probably doesn’t want me to now. How is it possible to live the same story twice, from different vantage points?

She yanks her arm from mine, and turns on me. “Why did you do that to me? What was the point of that, huh? I wasn’t aware that when I chose Dauntless, I was signing up for weeks of torture!”

If she was anyone else, any of the other initiates, I would have yelled at her for insubordination a dozen times by now. I would have felt threatened by her constant assaults against my character, and tried to squelch her uprisings with cruelty, the way I did to Christina on the first day of initiation. But Tris earned my respect when she jumped first, into the net; when she challenged me at her first meal; when she wasn’t deterred by my unpleasant responses to questions; when she spoke up for Al and stared me right in the eye as I threw knives at her. She’s not my subordinate, couldn’t possibly be.

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