Convergent

Con-ver-gent, adjective: Coming closer together.
They say that something as simple as a flutter of a butterfly's wings can change the course of history. What if Tris never took over Caleb's mission? What if the mission failed? What if Caleb was the one to die? An alternative (extended) ending to Allegiant, obviously with some spoilers.

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5. Chapter 5

TRIS

We emerge from the abandoned Erudite headquarters into darkened streets. The huge glass-fronted building was empty, every book, computer and paper ripped from the walls and burnt in the streets. Even some of the internal walls had been destroyed, so that no room was left untouched. Worryingly, the serums lab was empty too, beakers and tubes smashed on the floor but none of the colourful liquid anywhere to be found. My heart catches in my throat as the implications of this revelation rise in my stomach like acid.

"Dauntless or rest up?" I turn to Cara, whose face is pale and withdrawn.

"Is there anywhere we can sleep? Anywhere safe?"

"Marcus knows we're here." I answer, feeling the weight of the gun in my pocket as I turn to face her. "The only places I can think of are too obvious, too dangerous."

"We're going to Dauntless anyway, right? Want to check it out?" Cara shrugs as she finds my eyes in the darkness, our pale and increasingly grimy skin shining in the moonlight.

We follow the moonlight to the tracks running through the city, but there are no trains running tonight. Instead we clamber up a tall and spindly ladder, rolling onto the gleaming tracks metres above the streets and beginning the long walk across the city.

Our footsteps are loud and metallic on the blackened grill of the tracks, echoing as our sneakers slam against the grid. The track begins to rise, but it's another half hour before we're level with the tall building that forms the back entrance to the Dauntless compound. From up here and without the momentum of the train to propel us forwards, the gap between the tracks and the building is immense.

We exchange glances and step up to the edge of the track, our toes hovering over the hundred-foot drop below us as I prepare myself to jump. The pavement, illuminated by the stars above our heads, wavers in the distance, the broken body of one of the fallen initiates materialising on the concrete.

Cara pushes my shoulder as I take a step back, her eyes wide and questioning. Finally, she bends her knees and launches herself from the tracks, her arms spread wide and straight. She soars over the gap like a bird, landing elegantly on her knees on the rough top of the building. "Come on!" She shouts at me, and I take another step back. My heel knocks against the first of the tracks, two metres from the edge. I take a deep breath and run forwards, taking two strides across the metal and flinging myself over the gap.

My chest hits the edge of the wall with a hollow thump, my arms quivering as I pull myself up and over the side. I lie on my back on the gravelled rooftop, taking deep breaths of the cool night air. "When did I stop being good at that?" I gasp, feeling the heat rush back into my cheeks as Cara pulls me to my feet.

"Hey, you were stabbed just a few days ago. Don't worry about it." I smile gratefully, but I know my failure isn't just due to my injuries. The motivation just isn't there anymore, and her excuses made up on my behalf hurt more than the physical wounds.

"Yeah… how good are you with heights?"

"I'm here, aren't I?" Cara smiles, stepping up to the edge of the building. I step up beside her, looking down into the black abyss waiting below like a gawping mouth. "After three?" When did the Erudite take charge? I nod, clenching my stomach against the reeling fear building like a wave. Something feels wrong, off. Suddenly, I don't want to jump.

"One… two…"

"Three." She opens her arms wide, turning around and falling backwards into the hole with a yelp of pleasure. I follow, letting the wind whip my hair around my face and ears as I plummet through the darkness.

Cara screams, and my heart freezes in my chest. I continue on my unstoppable descent until I hit the net, the ropes curling softly around my body. Hands from beneath grab at me as I scramble upright, trying to see Cara and the source of her scream. It's dreadfully silent, the hands sticking through the net and strangling my ankles as I claw at the ropes, crying out for freedom. It's not real, it's not real…

I kick downwards and meet a face with a satisfying crunch. A groan sounds from below and a pair of hands releases my legs, so I kick out again and again until finally I'm free. Skinny figures are hidden in the shadows on the small platform just past the net, and I run at them with my gun in my fingers. "Who are you?!" They shout, emerging from the darkness with weapons raised and ready to fire. "What are you doing here?"

I freeze in place as recognition flutters in my mind like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The dark skin, with sunken eyes and fuzzy black hair; the families of two of my best friends, drawn together in times of trouble and social unrest. I can see now why Cara and I are so out of place here, our pale skin glowing against their caramel tones. Their eyes bore into me, making me feel as small as a mouse while they and their metal guns tower over my heads.

"My name is Tris." I squeak, trying to straighten my shoulders and push my head up despite my sunken position, unstable on the bouncy net. "This is Cara. We came from outside. We want to help you."

I'm desperate to stay strong, but my voice cracks as I look into Zeke's eyes. "Zeke?" Cara pushes herself to her feet somewhere in the shadows at the edge of the net and bounces over to me.

"Oh god." She whispers, finding the fuzzy hair and wet eyes of Christina's mother. "Do they remember?"

"I don't think so." I whisper in reply, holding Zeke's age though my chin drops to my chest. Finally the courage comes, filling me with the strength to lift up my head and look properly at the families. "Christina. Uriah. Do the names mean anything to you?"

The adults shake their heads, but Zeke holds my stare. He remembers. I know he does.

"Why are you asking? What do you want?" Christina's mother steps forwards, her voice shaking as she holds out a gun in her trembling arm. Even in the darkness and from this distance, I can tell that the safety is on. For now at least, I am safe.

Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I slide my gun back into my belt and raise my hands. "They were friends of ours, joining us on our mission. We've lost them, that's all."

"How did you find us?" Zeke steps off the platform as the hands vanish from beneath the net, stepping onto the edge of the interweaved rope. "How did you get here?" My brain goes blank- how can I explain without telling him everything? "Where is my brother?"

His final question stabs me like a knife, the pain of loss rippling through my body. Tobias has already broken the news to him once- how can I stand here and watch as the grief cuts through him once again? "Zeke… I…" His face drops. He remembers- he knows. Like I with Caleb, he just hopes that the loss he feels is not real. "I'm sorry."

"They're okay. They're with us." He turns back to the crowd in the shadows, thicker now that the owners of the hands from below the net have joined us. "They're freedom fighters."

TOBIAS

I awake to the silence of an empty house, the tiredness of a disturbed night forming a crust on my eyelashes. Rubbing my eyes, I push aside the warm duvet and stretch in the familiar grey room, identical to my own. It's only when I take in the arrangement of the furniture that I take in with a harsh reality just exactly where I stand. I straighten Tris' pillow on her bed and flatten out her duvet, thinking about leaving her just yesterday. The cold of the air hits me and I shake my arms out to warm them up as I slip my shoes on, checking for the photographs in my jacket. They're still there, the blackened edges crushed to dust inside my pocket.

With my shoes untied and sleep still stuck in the corner of my eyes, I stumble from Tris' bedroom and down the steep staircase, wandering into the kitchen with a yawn. The cupboards are bare but for a few old tins of plain beans and peaches in sugared water. Simple food, the staple delights spread throughout the city as the bare basics to survive on. I fumble in the drawers until I find a knife and stab the top of the can of peaches, shanking the soft flesh of the sweet orange fruit on the blade and scooping the dripping half-spheres into my mouth. The sweetness floods my mouth with a sugary shock that shakes the last of the sleep from my body with a shudder, giving me the energy I know I need to keep moving. I can't stay here another night- besides, I have to find Marcus.

It's not long before I hear footsteps and soft voices on the street outside, murmuring as they approach the house. Through the window I spot a pair of women, their hungry hands fumbling at the front door of the house. The tin splatters peaches and sticky sugary water over the floor as I drop it in my haste to leave, my laces whipping around my ankles as I sprint through the back door and into the small yard behind the house. As I swing the back door to a soft close behind me, the front door opens with an almighty bang and the excited chattering of the two women fills the kitchen.

I peek through the back window as they step blindly over my spilt can and begin to rifle through the cupboards, withdrawing the tin of beans and some dry packets of rice and noodles. They split open the packets, throwing the rubbish onto the floor as they prepare to cook the food, smashing the wooden chairs against the solid floor and gathering the splintered wood into a pile in the centre of the kitchen. Smoke begins to fill the room, snaking over the windowpane like inky black tendrils as they heat up a pot of water to cook the food.

My heart contracts inside my chest as I step away from the blackening glass, slipping out of the yard through the tall wooden gate set into the grey walls. The photographs rustle in my pocket, and suddenly those few scraps of Tris' childhood become the most valuable things in the world. I straighten my back, pull the hood of my jacket over my head and march back into the city.

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