My instructor gives me a slight nod. I am the first to hit the bull's eye. I throw another knife. Not quite the bull's eye, but it makes a satisfying thunk against the cardboard.
My breath is loud; heavy. It'll give me away.
I watch the girl, dressed in her yellow raincoat. She can't be more than seven. Before it happens, I see the man running at her with a gun, firing. I also know what I'll do before it happens.
I'll do what any other Dauntless would do, save her. For that is courage, and courage is what we are built upon.
I run out from my alley before the man can even be seen. I push myself into the air, in front of the girl. The bullet pierces right above my heart. Enough to hurt, but not to kill me. The pain's excruciating. I clutch at my chest, leaving my hands stained crimson. Oh, oh, is all I can think. The girl runs away. Good, I think this time, she won't be hurt. The thought nearly takes all of the pain away, reminds me why I am here. I am here because I am Dauntless.
The pain wasn't real, but I can still feel it. The stickiness of the blood on my hand, the pain above my heart. I'm told it doesn't go away.
One of the other initiates catches up to me, scowling. ''They told me to choose, and I did. I chose to stay in my alley. And now they beat me for it!'' He complains. It's Max. He is Dauntless-born and I am Erudite...was Erudite; but somehow we became friends.
''You didn't save her?'' I ask in surprise. I think of her sweet, haunting face and wonder how he couldn't. ''And risk my life? Of course not,'' he answers.
He turns to walk backwards, facing me. He grins. I once thought his grin was beautiful, a grin of a boy I'd like to know. But now it's only sadistic.
''When I'm a Dauntless leader, I'm going to take this out of the initiation process. It's useless.'' His voice is certain, and I believe him.
I quickly flit pass him, not wanting to think about him, or the future. ''Tori,'' he yells, ''Tori, wait up!''