Dauntless

What if Tobias and Beatrice transferred to Dauntless in the same year? (Cover by the wonderful Rose)

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4. Four

 

I follow the crowd of Dauntless to the stairwell we climbed to get here. I always thought the Abnegation only used the stairs. When we reach the top of the stairwell, the Dauntless break out into a run. I try my best to keep up with them, a swarm of black descending the stairs, occasional dotted with grey, blue, and white. We are buzzing with life. The screams and shouts of my new faction surround me, complete and utter chaos. I lag behind with the other transfers, not used to the physical activity. In Abnegation, it would be seen as self-indulgent.

When we exit the Hub, we don’t stop. We run through the streets towards the train tracks. The trains run throughout the city, but only the Dauntless use them. The Dauntless born initiates are far up ahead and a few Candor and Erudite transfers are behind them. There are no Amity amongst us. It is only when I look behind my shoulder to see if I am the last one, that I see her, and remember that she transferred too. In the commotion of exiting the Hub, I had forgotten about the choice she had made. Her blonde hair has fallen out of her bun and the free locks dance in the wind as it blows on her face whilst she’s running. She looks exhausted and I know how she feels. When we reach the train tracks, we stand in a line, waiting for the train. I don’t glance beside me, but I can feel her presence making my heart flutter and my cheeks blush.

The earth rumbles beneath our feet and the blaring horn echoes in our ears to signal the train’s approach. The Dauntless start to jog beside the tracks, increasing their speed as the train comes closer. When the first carriage passes us, they break out into a full sprint. One by one, the Dauntless born leap into the carriages until only the transfers are left. Some of the Dauntless extend their hands as we run past, hauling us up onto the train. I reach for a pale hand in the carriage closest to me. But I’m not fast enough and the carriage pulls away. I rub my palms, slick with sweat, on my pants and stop for a second to regain my breath. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was stupid of me to choose Dauntless.

There are only a few carriages left before the train leaves for Dauntless Headquarters. If I don’t get into one, I will fail the very first stage initiation and that means I’ll be Factionless. I pick up the pace, as I watch the Erudite and Candor transfers successfully make it. And then, there are only the Abnegation left; the Stiffs. I don’t look behind me but I know Beatrice is there because I can hear her heavy breaths and her footsteps thudding along the pavement with mine.

“Get in!” A voice shouts from the carriage as a dark hand reaches out for me. This time, I am quick enough and I manage to reach for it. Inside the carriage, a dozen other Dauntless eyes fall upon me. The dark skinned boy who helped me in pats my back in congratulations, introducing himself as, “Uriah.”

I peek over the edge of the carriage to see if everyone made it. I need to see if she made it too. But she struggles for breath as she continues to run alongside the train, extending her hand but failing to grip anything and pull herself into the carriage. The train is about to leave her. I look around at the other Dauntless, but they seem to not care or notice. Without second thought, I extend my hand to her, as far as I can reach, and she holds onto it, her fingers interlocking with mine to get a secure grip. I haul her into the carriage, just as the platform ends. She pants heavily, her hand still in mine, and then our eyes meet and she pulls her hand away as she says, “Thanks.”

We ride the rest of the way without speaking to each other. It is a short ride to Dauntless Headquarters from there. Opposite me, Beatrice is speaking to a dark skinned Candor transfer. I close my eyes and embrace the wind that rushes through the open doorway of the carriage, thankful that I made it, that we made it. But, I am shortly awoken by the sound of Uriah’s voice announcing, “We’re here!”

I get up from where I was sitting and join the other transfers that have crowded by the open doorway. The train is still moving, though slower than before.

“They’re jumping!” A voice in front of the crowd shouts.

“We have to jump too,” says the dark skinned Candor girl, receiving a series of nods from the other transfers.

A Candor boy comes into view behind her, “Sure, Christina. If you want to die, then you go on right ahead. No one would miss you.”

“You’re such a jerk Peter.”

“Statistically speaking, there is only a 1 in 10 chance that you would die if you jumped,” Another faceless voice, though I can immediately place it as an Erudite.

“Guys! The rooftop is ending. We have to jump now!” This brings about another series of nods and then two by two, the transfers run and jump off the edge of the carriage, landing on the rooftop. I am paired with a bulky Candor boy who introduces himself as, ‘Al.’ Before us, Peter and another Candor girl prepare to jump. They count down from three, and then launch themselves off the platform. Peter lands first, but the girl who is much shorter than him fails to make the landing. Her fingers manage to grip the edge of the rooftop and she struggles to haul herself up with the little strength in her arms. But before anyone realises, her fingers slip and she plummets to her death many feet below. My heart beat picks up as Al and I take our positions. I steady my breathing as I count to three, and then I am running and I am leaping and I am closing my eyes in fear of knowing that I won’t make it. When my feet fall on solid ground, I am able to breathe again; I am safe. Just seconds after me, Al lands inches away. I help him up and we head towards the opposite end of the rooftop where the rest of the initiates have gathered. Just as the train pulls away from the rooftop, Beatrice and Christina leap off the platform, a blur of black, white and grey. Beatrice lands first, safely, and Christina just after her, only a few inches away from the edge of the platform. They both laugh as they roll around in the gravel. It is so nice to see her smile, hidden in Abnegation for far too long.

“Initiates!” A male voice arises from the other end of the rooftop. “Listen up!” I join at the back of the crowd and a few seconds later, Beatrice and Christina stand beside me. “My name’s Eric!” He is still yelling, although we can all hear him. I guess the Dauntless like to be loud all the time. “I’m one of the Dauntless leaders. This is the entrance to the Dauntless compound.” He looks down below, from the ledge he is standing upon. All the initiates exchange glances at one another. “Transfers have the privilege of going first.” His eyes pass over me, and the other transfers, a sly grin plastered on his pierced face. Eric is everything I expected a Dauntless to be. He bears piercings and tattoos on his skin, and his head is half shaved. He steps aside as he waits for a volunteer, but there is only complete silence amongst us. “Who’s is going to be?” He says.

“Is there water at the bottom or something?” An Erudite boy in front of me asks.

Eric jumps down from the ledge and makes his way through the crowd, “What’s your name?” He hovers over the boy, the corners of his lips tugged with a smug smile.

“Will.”

“Well, Will,” he says, “Why don’t you find out?” The boy shrinks. And then, Eric’s eyes fall upon me. “What about you, Stiff?” He spits out the word, his face is just inches away from mine, reducing me down to nothing.

He makes his way back towards the ledge. “Five seconds,” he says, five fingers raised in the air, “Until I start picking at random.” He counts down, with his back towards us. “Five. Four. Three. Two.” No one says a word. “Come on, who’s is going to be?” Still no word. “One-“

“Me.” At exactly the same time that he lowers his last finger, a voice beside me speaks up. It is so faint that I hardly hear it. She must be thinking the same thing too, because she raises her voice as she speaks again, “I’ll go.” I don’t need to turn to see who the voice belongs to.

The crowd parts to let her through as she stumbles towards the ledge. She hauls herself up, using her hands for support, standing on the ledge the way Eric had done a few minutes ago. She looks down below, but her back is towards us so I can’t see what she’s thinking. I can’t read the expression on her face to know if she’s nervous or terrified or something else entirely.

“We haven’t got all day, Stiff.”

This time, she turns her head back, to glance over her shoulder, at Eric, at the other initiates, at me. And then, she jumps. No sound escapes her as she does so. Just the sound of the wind as it carries her down. We wait in silence for a long time, unaware of what we are waiting for. But then, a voice below yells, “First Jumper! Tris!” and is accompanied by a round of cheering and applause.

Eric scans the crowd. “Who’s next?” He says. We line up in single file ready to take the plunge. We are more relaxed now, thanks to Beatrice. Thanks to Tris. Christina screams all the way down to the bottom. So does Al.

When it’s my turn, I don’t think. I just jump. It happens a lot quicker than I thought it would. As soon as my body hits the net, a pair of hands reach for me and place me on solid ground again. It takes me a while to realise that I recognise the face that stares back. My thoughts return back to my Aptitude Test. Amar looks surprised to see me and I don’t blame him. My test results did not qualify for Dauntless. But Abnegation and Erudite weren’t enough for me. I had to take a risk by choosing something else entirely.

“Welcome to Dauntless!” Amar says, patting me on the shoulder.

I can see it now. I can see myself living a new life in Dauntless. I can see myself learning to be strong, brave and free. Far away from the one person I hate and closer to the one person I love. I could rebuild myself here, the same way as her. We could rebuild ourselves, together.

We could.

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