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Home > Four: The Traitor (Divergent 0.4)(11)

Four: The Traitor (Divergent 0.4)(11)
Author: Veronica Roth

“If you’re not careful you won’t have to imagine anything.” He reaches the end of the food line and turns to me. “Competitive environments create tension, Four. It’s natural for that tension to be released somehow.” He smiles a little, stretching the skin between his piercings. “An attack would certainly show us, in a real-world situation, who the strong ones and the weak ones are, don’t you think? We wouldn’t have to rely on the test results at all, that way. We could make a more informed decision about who doesn’t belong here. That is . . . if an attack were to happen.”

The implication is clear: As the survivor of the attack, Tris would be viewed as weaker than the other initiates, and fodder for elimination. Eric wouldn’t rush to the aid of the victim, but would rather advocate for her expulsion from Dauntless, as he did before Edward left of his own accord. I don’t want Tris to be forced into factionlessness.

“Right,” I say lightly. “Well, it’s a good thing no attacks have happened recently, then.”

I dump some milk on top of my cereal and walk to my table. Eric won’t do anything to Peter, Drew, or Al, and I can’t do anything without stepping out of line and suffering the repercussions. But maybe—maybe I don’t have to do this alone. I put my tray down between Zeke and Shauna and say, “I need your help with something.”

After the fear landscape explanation is over and the initiates are dismissed for lunch, I pull Peter aside into the observation room next to the bare simulation room. It contains rows of chairs, ready for the initiates to sit in as they wait to take their final test. It also contains Zeke and Shauna.

“We need to have a chat,” I say.

Zeke lurches toward Peter, slamming him against the concrete wall with alarming force. Peter cracks the back of his head, and winces.

“Hey there,” Zeke says, and Shauna moves toward them, spinning a knife on her palm.

“What is this?” Peter says. He doesn’t even look a little afraid, even when Shauna catches the blade by the handle and touches the point to his cheek, creating a dimple. “Trying to scare me?” he sneers.

“No,” I say. “Trying to make a point. You’re not the only one with friends who are willing to do some harm.”

“I don’t think initiation instructors are supposed to threaten initiates, do you?” Peter gives me a wide-eyed look, one I might mistake for innocence if I didn’t know what he was really like. “I’ll have to ask Eric, though, just to be sure.”

“I didn’t threaten you,” I say. “I’m not even touching you. And according to the footage of this room that’s stored on the control room computers, we’re not even in here right now.”

Zeke grins like he can’t help it. That was his idea.

“I’m the one who’s threatening you,” Shauna says, almost in a growl. “One more violent outburst and I’m going to teach you a lesson about justice.” She holds the knife point over his eye, and brings it down slowly, pressing the point to his eyelid. Peter freezes, barely moving even to breathe. “An eye for an eye. A bruise for a bruise.”

“Eric may not care if you go after your peers,” Zeke says, “but we do, and there are a lot of Dauntless like us. People who don’t think you should lay a hand on your fellow faction members. People who listen to gossip, and spread it like wildfire. It won’t take long for us to tell them what kind of worm you are, or for them to make your life very, very difficult. You see, in Dauntless, reputations tend to stick.”

“We’ll start with all your potential employers,” Shauna says. “The supervisors in the control room—Zeke can take them; the leaders out by the fence—I’ll get those. Tori knows everyone in the Pit—Four, you’re friends with Tori, right?”

“Yes I am,” I say. I move closer to Peter, and tilt my head. “You may be able to cause pain, initiate . . . but we can cause you lifelong misery.”

Shauna takes the knife away from Peter’s eye. “Think about it.”

Zeke lets go of Peter’s shirt and smooths it down, still smiling. Somehow the combination of Shauna’s ferocity and Zeke’s cheerfulness is just strange enough to be threatening. Zeke waves at Peter, and we all leave together.

“You want us to talk to people anyway, right?” Zeke asks me.

“Oh yeah,” I say. “Definitely. Not just about Peter. Drew and Al, too.”

“Maybe if he survives initiation, I’ll accidentally trip him and he’ll fall right into the chasm,” Zeke says hopefully, making a plummeting gesture with his hand.

The next morning, there’s a crowd gathered by the chasm, all quiet and still, though the smell of breakfast beckons us all toward the cafeteria. I don’t have to ask what they’re gathered for.

This happens almost every year, I’m told. A death. Like Amar’s, sudden and awful and wasteful. A body pulled out of the chasm like a fish on a hook. Usually someone young—an accident, because of a daredevil stunt gone wrong, or maybe not an accident, a wounded mind further injured by the darkness, pressure, pain of Dauntless.

I don’t know how to feel about those deaths. Guilty, maybe, for not seeing the pain myself. Sad, that some people can’t find another way to escape.

I hear the name of the deceased spoken up ahead, and both emotions strike me hard.

Al. Al. Al.

My initiate—my responsibility, and I failed, because I’ve been so obsessed with catching Max and Jeanine, or with blaming everything on Eric, or with my indecision about warning the Abnegation. No—none of those things so much as this: that I distanced myself from them for my own protection, when I should have been drawing them out of the dark places here and into the lighter ones. Laughing with friends on the chasm rocks. Late-night tattoos after a game of Dare. A sea of embraces after the rankings are announced. Those are the things I could have shown him—even if it wouldn’t have helped him, I should have tried.

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