Convergent (Part One)

Her: Chapter 18

"This is Charlotte Strong, executive leader of Candor. She outright supported the break outs and raids that have ravaged this city for months, including the one that occurred here a little over a week ago."

Mrs. Glas's voice drawls out over the conference-like room, steady yet demanding attention. I sit in the first row of metal chairs, staring at the same screen I watched people bleed on. But instead of the alleyways and surveillance tapes of people being gunned down, there's now an image of a short, blonde-haired woman, wearing white. Information branches off of the left, along with the Candor symbol hovering in the corner.

A few other people occupy the other chairs, heads drawn together, calculative, like they're absorbing every word that Glas says. I can only presume they'll be helping me do whatever Glas wants me to do, which I'm still unsure of. I know it has something to do with the city, but I have no idea what I can possibly help them with there. Maybe I just don't want to, but then I think back on those videos of people screaming, falling, dying and everything in me urges to help. To save them. To protect them from whoever is jeopardizing their safety.

And so far, as much as Glas unsettles me, I've been given no reason to believe anything else.

"Miss Strong is thirty two and married with a single son," Glas continues. "However, she's shown little outright concern for her Faction's security and has refused to cooperate with our extended propositions. She has proven to be an incompetent leader of her people and I see no reason why she is to be included in the reestablishment of Chicago."

"And what is the POA?" a man in the back asks.

I see Glas's eyes narrow in his direction. "Would you disagree that any careless person with little to no regards for their own district deserves to be in charge of lives?" she asks. I can practically feel the man curl in on himself from here. "Do you honestly believe that a person of that nature deserves to be where they are?"

"No," he replies instantly. I don't even think he considered her question. But those are the kinds of questions she asks; ones that aren't to be questioned.

"Then you would agree that person should be removed, correct?"

"Yes."

"And if they refuse, as Miss Strong already has, should that be allowed to stop all other progress into recreating this city's security measures?"

A shake of the head. "No."

Glas smiles. "So, would this plan of action's only final resort be to eliminate those who refuse to abide by our arrangements? It seems to me that an unfair and disagreeable leader who lacks the drive to sustain her own Faction, yet refuses to allow another to take over, should not be there. Would you agree with all that?"

"Yes."

"Well then," she says, finally breaking her gaze from the man to look back up on the screen. "That is our POA. We already know who will and who will not meet our terms and that is Charlotte Strong of Candor and Nathaniel Beugard of Abnegation. Amity, it would seem, has yet to finalize their decision."

"And what decision is that?" I ask before I can stop myself. I cross my arms over my chest as her eyes meet mine. I can feel the heat of them from here. "The decision to temporarily dismount from office until order can be restored by Erudite. Our faction advances are greater than the other factions and frankly, the only one willing to give the effort and fix what has been broken for too long."

"What if Amity doesn't?"

"Collateral damage can be a product of disagreement, Beatrice," she says. "However, if this is not resolved one way or another, there wont be any collateral, there will be a massacre."

I stare at her for a moment, trying to see past the red lips and sallow cheeks. I try to glimpse intentions, but all I catch is the expression on her face; determined and unyielding. I fidget in my seat. "So you're just going to take out two leaders?" I ask.

She sighs melodramatically. "Tell me, Beatrice, what would weigh on your conscience more heavily? Two liabilities that have had their chance to cooperate and settle this matter, or hundreds of innocent people that got no say?"

I break her gaze and stare at my lap. "How do you know their motives would have gone awry?"

I expect her to be angry at my questions, but to my surprise, she laughs. Or maybe scoffs. It's the kind of sound you'd make when you know someone is being ridiculous. "You've seen the film, Beatrice. The raids and break ins now should be enough to convince you. BUt if not, I have other records and videos if you wish to watch them..." she presses a button on the remote and Strong's face disappears, replaced by scenes of burning fields and broken windows.

"No!" I shout, squeezing my eyes shut. I can't look at it. I can't stomach it. I can't think of people dying, lying on the ground like felled trees.

The audio vanishes and I glance back at the screen. Miss Strong's face is there again, but what looked like a smile on her before, now looks more like a frown.

"I understand, Beatrice, that you are still adjusting. I can sympathize with that. But all I'm trying to do is restore order to a city that is suffering. You can help with that, but it is your choice. Unless you want this to continue...Unless you want more people to die." She clicks the screen to another image, of a middle aged man with a thinning hairline and grey shirt. He's not smiling and I can only guess that it's Nathaniel Beugard.

"You have the right to decide, Beatrice. If you help us, we can do the same for you. Give you answers and the things you have lost. Because this," she motions to the screen, "can either start a war, or you can help end it. But out of all our equipment and military aid, you are our greatest advantage."

"So, you're going to move in after you take out these leaders?" I ask, cursing my voice for trembling, just slightly.

Glass leans forward, as close to me as she can get with the distance that bridges us but it feels like she's right there, breathing in my face. That same lingers at the corner of her lips, even as she says, "Oh, I won't be the one removing them from office. That will be you. Because you're the only one who can do it without starting a war."

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