Tris returns to the dormitory to find Al avoiding his family. He’s ashamed of his bad performance in training, and says he joined Dauntless because he thought courage meant standing up for people, not hurting them. Telling Tris she makes him feel braver, he puts his arm around her, but she moves away. At dinner, the initiates talk about the next day’s rankings and their aptitude test results. Tris tells them she didn’t kill the dog in her test and got Abnegation as a result. Back at the dormitory, Four explains the ranking process and reveals everyone’s placements. Out of the nine initiates, Tris has placed sixth, higher than she expected. Peter is second and Al is eighth. Molly has placed fifth due to her loss to Tris, so she threatens her with payback.
Back in bed, Tris wonders why her mother left Dauntless and why she wants Caleb to research the simulation serum. Suddenly someone screams, and when the lights are turned on, Edward, who was ranked first, has a butter knife sticking out of his eye. As Tris calms him, she notices Peter and Drew are missing. She and Christina agree that Peter did it, but they decide it’s no use telling anyone. They have the next day off, and Tris and Will discuss faction values before going to the cafeteria. When they return, Edward and Myra have both quit initiation, saving Al from being cut.
The next day, Tris avoids the dorm, observing that it still smells like blood even though she scrubbed it clean herself. A group of Dauntless-born initiates walks by, including a boy named Uriah who was on her capture the flag team. He invites her to come along on an initiation ritual, and she agrees, flattered and excited to hear the activity will be dangerous. They jump onto a train, and Tris is disappointed to learn that Four won’t be coming. A girl named Shauna tells Tris that when she and Four were initiates, Four taught her how to fight while everyone else was asleep, making Tris jealous.
They jump off the train and walk down Michigan Avenue to the Hancock building. They take the elevator to the 100th floor and climb to the roof. Tris is both terrified and excited to see that the initiation consists of getting into a body harness and zip lining down a cable. She loves it, and a Dauntless-born initiate named Shauna says they can’t call her “Stiff” anymore. She tries to downplay the experience when she returns to her other friends, but Christina seems resentful.
The transfers and Dauntless-born wait in a dark hallway to begin the second stage of training. Uriah, whose older brother Zeke was initiated several years ago, comments that no one can prepare for stage two. Four calls Tris’s name and explains she’s about to experience a simulation that will help her learn to control her fears. He’ll be injecting her with a serum that will create a hallucination, and her responses to it will be transmitted to a computer.
After Four injects Tris, she is transported to a field where a giant flock of crows attacks her. As the birds peck at her body, she swats at them to no avail. She remembers that she can only leave the hallucination by calming down, so she forces herself to lie down and relax. As the pain becomes overwhelming, she awakens in tears. She doesn’t want the others to see her, so Four walks her out the back. Although she feels like a failure, Four tells her she got out of the hallucination three times faster than anyone else. Tris admits she didn’t think initiation would be so difficult, and he reveals that six years ago, the Dauntless made their training methods more brutal. After the change, Four refused the leadership position he was offered and Eric took it instead.