Home > Divergent (Divergent #1)(11)

Divergent (Divergent #1)(11)
Veronica Roth

“Patrols for what purpose?” asks Will.

Four lifts a shoulder. “I suppose you’ll discover that if you find yourself among them. As I was saying. For the most part, those who guard the fence when they are young continue to guard the fence. If it comforts you, some of them insist that it isn’t as bad as it seems.”

“Yeah. At least we won’t be driving buses or cleaning up other people’s messes like the factionless,” Christina whispers in my ear.

“What rank were you?” Peter asks Four.

I don’t expect Four to answer, but he looks levelly at Peter and says, “I was first.”

“And you chose to do this?” Peter’s eyes are wide and round and dark green. They would look innocent to me if I didn’t know what a terrible person he is. “Why didn’t you get a government job?”

“I didn’t want one,” Four says flatly. I remember what he said on the first day, about working in the control room, where the Dauntless monitor the city’s security. It is difficult for me to imagine him there, surrounded by computers. To me he belongs in the training room.

We learned about faction jobs in school. The Dauntless have limited options. We can guard the fence or work for the security of our city. We can work in the Dauntless compound, drawing tattoos or making weapons or even fighting each other for entertainment. Or we can work for the Dauntless leaders. That sounds like my best option.

The only problem is that my rank is terrible. And I might be factionless by the end of stage one.

We stop next to the gate. A few Dauntless guards glance in our direction but not many. They are too busy pulling the doors—which are twice as tall as they are and several times wider—open to admit a truck.

The man driving wears a hat, a beard, and a smile. He stops just inside the gate and gets out. The back of the truck is open, and a few other Amity sit among the stacks of crates. I peer at the crates—they hold apples.

“Beatrice?” an Amity boy says.

My head jerks at the sound of my name. One of the Amity in the back of the truck stands. He has curly blond hair and a familiar nose, wide at the tip and narrow at the bridge. Robert. I try to remember him at the Choosing Ceremony and nothing comes to mind but the sound of my heart in my ears. Who else transferred? Did Susan? Are there any Abnegation initiates this year? If Abnegation is fizzling, it’s our fault—Robert’s and Caleb’s and mine. Mine. I push the thought from my mind.

Robert hops down from the truck. He wears a gray T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. After a second’s hesitation, he moves toward me and folds me in his arms. I stiffen. Only in Amity do people hug each other in greeting. I don’t move a muscle until he releases me.

His own smile fades when he looks at me again. “Beatrice, what happened to you? What happened to your face?”

“Nothing,” I say. “Just training. Nothing.”

“Beatrice?” demands a nasal voice next to me. Molly folds her arms and laughs. “Is that your real name, Stiff?”

I glance at her. “What did you think Tris was short for?”

“Oh, I don’t know…weakling?” She touches her chin. If her chin was bigger, it might balance out her nose, but it is weak and almost recedes into her neck. “Oh wait, that doesn’t start with Tris. My mistake.”

“There’s no need to antagonize her,” Robert says softly. “I’m Robert, and you are?”

“Someone who doesn’t care what your name is,” she says. “Why don’t you get back in your truck? We’re not supposed to fraternize with other faction members.”

“Why don’t you get away from us?” I snap.

“Right. Wouldn’t want to get between you and your boyfriend,” she says. She walks away smiling.

Robert gives me a sad look. “They don’t seem like nice people.”

“Some of them aren’t.”

“You could go home, you know. I’m sure Abnegation would make an exception for you.”

“What makes you think I want to go home?” I ask, my cheeks hot. “You think I can’t handle this or something?”

“It’s not that.” He shakes his head. “It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you shouldn’t have to. You should be happy.”

“This is what I chose. This is it.” I look over Robert’s shoulder. The Dauntless guards seem to have finished examining the truck. The bearded man gets back into the driver’s seat and closes the door behind him. “Besides, Robert. The goal of my life isn’t just…to be happy.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if it was, though?” he says.

Before I can answer, he touches my shoulder and turns toward the truck. A girl in the back has a banjo on her lap. She starts to strum it as Robert hoists himself inside, and the truck starts forward, carrying the banjo sounds and her warbling voice away from us.

Robert waves to me, and again I see another possible life in my mind’s eye. I see myself in the back of the truck, singing with the girl, though I’ve never sung before, laughing when I am off-key, climbing trees to pick the apples, always peaceful and always safe.

The Dauntless guards close the gate and lock it behind them. The lock is on the outside. I bite my lip. Why would they lock the gate from the outside and not the inside? It almost seems like they don’t want to keep something out; they want to keep us in.

I push the thought out of my head. That makes no sense.

Four steps away from the fence, where he was talking to a female Dauntless guard with a gun balanced on her shoulder a moment before. “I am worried that you have a knack for making unwise decisions,” he says when he’s a foot away from me.

I cross my arms. “It was a two-minute conversation.”

“I don’t think a smaller time frame makes it any less unwise.” He furrows his eyebrows and touches the corner of my bruised eye with his fingertips. My head jerks back, but he doesn’t take his hand away. Instead he tilts his head and sighs. “You know, if you could just learn to attack first, you might do better.”

“Attack first?” I say. “How will that help?”

“You’re fast. If you can get a few good hits in before they know what’s going on, you could win.” He shrugs, and his hand falls.

“I’m surprised you know that,” I say quietly, “since you left halfway through my one and only fight.”

“It wasn’t something I wanted to watch,” he says.

What’s that supposed to mean?

He clears his throat. “Looks like the next train is here. Time to go, Tris.”

CHAPTER TWELVE

I CRAWL ACROSS my mattress and heave a sigh. It has been two days since my fight with Peter, and my bruises are turning purple-blue. I have gotten used to aching every time I move, so now I move better, but I am still far from healed.

Even though I am still injured, I had to fight again today. Luckily this time, I was paired against Myra, who couldn’t throw a good punch if someone was controlling her arm for her. I got a good hit in during the first two minutes. She fell down and was too dizzy to get back up. I should feel triumphant, but there is no triumph in punching a girl like Myra.

The second I touch my head to the pillow, the door to the dormitory opens, and people stream into the room with flashlights. I sit up, almost hitting my head on the bed frame above me, and squint through the dark to see what’s going on.

“Everybody up!” someone roars. A flashlight shines behind his head, making the rings in his ears glint. Eric. Surrounding him are other Dauntless, some of whom I have seen in the Pit, some of whom I have never seen before. Four stands among them.

His eyes shift to mine and stay there. I stare back and forget that all around me the transfers are getting out of bed.

“Did you go deaf, Stiff?” demands Eric. I snap out of my daze and slide out from beneath the blankets. I am glad I sleep fully clothed, because Christina stands next to our bunk wearing only a T-shirt, her long legs bare. She folds her arms and stares at Eric. I wish, suddenly, that I could stare so boldly at someone with hardly any clothes on, but I would never be able to do that.

“You have five minutes to get dressed and meet us by the tracks,” says Eric. “We’re going on another field trip.”

I shove my feet into shoes and sprint, wincing, behind Christina on the way to the train. A drop of sweat rolls down the back of my neck as we run up the paths along the walls of the Pit, pushing past members on our way up. They don’t seem surprised to see us. I wonder how many frantic, running people they see on a weekly basis.

We make it to the tracks just behind the Dauntless-born initiates. Next to the tracks is a black pile. I make out a cluster of long gun barrels and trigger guards.

“Are we going to shoot something?” Christina hisses in my ear.

Next to the pile are boxes of what looks like ammunition. I inch closer to read one of the boxes. Written on it is “PAINTBALLS.”

I’ve never heard of them before, but the name is self-explanatory. I laugh.

“Everyone grab a gun!” shouts Eric.

We rush toward the pile. I am the closest to it, so I snatch the first gun I can find, which is heavy, but not too heavy for me to lift, and grab a box of paintballs. I shove the box in my pocket and sling the gun across my back so the strap crosses my chest.

“Time estimate?” Eric asks Four.

Four checks his watch. “Any minute now. How long is it going to take you to memorize the train schedule?”

“Why should I, when I have you to remind me of it?” says Eric, shoving Four’s shoulder.

A circle of light appears on my left, far away. It grows larger as it comes closer, shining against the side of Four’s face, creating a shadow in the faint hollow beneath his cheekbone.

He is the first to get on the train, and I run after him, not waiting for Christina or Will or Al to follow me. Four turns around as I fall into stride next to the car and holds out a hand. I grab his arm, and he pulls me in. Even the muscles in his forearm are taut, defined.

I let go quickly, without looking at him, and sit down on the other side of the car.

Once everyone is in, Four speaks up.

“We’ll be dividing into two teams to play capture the flag. Each team will have an even mix of members, Dauntless-born initiates, and transfers. One team will get off first and find a place to hide their flag. Then the second team will get off and do the same.” The car sways, and Four grabs the side of the doorway for balance. “This is a Dauntless tradition, so I suggest you take it seriously.”

“What do we get if we win?” someone shouts.

“Sounds like the kind of question someone not from Dauntless would ask,” says Four, raising an eyebrow. “You get to win, of course.”

“Four and I will be your team captains,” says Eric. He looks at Four. “Let’s divide up transfers first, shall we?”

I tilt my head back. If they’re picking us, I will be chosen last; I can feel it.

“You go first,” Four says.

Eric shrugs. “Edward.”

Four leans against the door frame and nods. The moonlight makes his eyes bright. He scans the group of transfer initiates briefly, without calculation, and says, “I want the Stiff.”

A faint undercurrent of laughter fills the car. Heat rushes into my cheeks. I don’t know whether to be angry at the people laughing at me or flattered by the fact that he chose me first.

“Got something to prove?” asks Eric, with his trademark smirk. “Or are you just picking the weak ones so that if you lose, you’ll have someone to blame it on?”

Four shrugs. “Something like that.”

Angry. I should definitely be angry. I scowl at my hands. Whatever Four’s strategy is, it’s based on the idea that I am weaker than the other initiates. And it gives me a bitter taste in my mouth. I have to prove him wrong—I have to.

“Your turn,” says Four.

“Peter.”

“Christina.”

That throws a wrench in his strategy. Christina is not one of the weak ones. What exactly is he doing?

“Molly.”

“Will,” says Four, biting his thumbnail.

“Al.”

“Drew.”

“Last one left is Myra. So she’s with me,” says Eric. “Dauntless-born initiates next.”

I stop listening once they’re finished with us. If Four isn’t trying to prove something by choosing the weak, what is he doing? I look at each person he chooses. What do we have in common?

Once they’re halfway through the Dauntless-born initiates, I have an idea of what it is. With the exception of Will and a couple of the others, we all share the same body type: narrow shoulders, small frames. All the people on Eric’s team are broad and strong. Just yesterday, Four told me I was fast. We will all be faster than Eric’s team, which will probably be good for capture the flag—I haven’t played before, but I know it’s a game of speed rather than brute force. I cover a smile with my hand. Eric is more ruthless than Four, but Four is smarter.

They finish choosing teams, and Eric smirks at Four.

“Your team can get off second,” says Eric.

“Don’t do me any favors,” Four replies. He smiles a little. “You know I don’t need them to win.”

“No, I know that you’ll lose no matter when you get off,” says Eric, biting down briefly on one of the rings in his lip. “Take your scrawny team and get off first, then.”

We all stand up. Al gives me a forlorn look, and I smile back in what I hope is a reassuring way. If any of the four of us had to end up on the same team as Eric, Peter, and Molly, at least it was him. They usually leave him alone.

The train is about to dip to the ground. I am determined to land on my feet.

Just before I jump, someone shoves my shoulder, and I almost topple out of the train car. I don’t look back to see who it is—Molly, Drew, or Peter, it doesn’t matter which one. Before they can try it again, I jump. This time I am ready for the momentum the train gives me, and I run a few steps to diffuse it but keep my balance. Fierce pleasure courses through me and I smile. It’s a small accomplishment, but it makes me feel Dauntless.

One of the Dauntless-born initiates touches Four’s shoulder and asks, “When your team won, where did you put the flag?”

“Telling you wouldn’t really be in the spirit of the exercise, Marlene,” he says coolly.

“Come on, Four,” she whines. She gives him a flirtatious smile. He brushes her hand off his arm, and for some reason, I find myself grinning.

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