Read a full summary of The Integer, book #2 in Adelaide Thorne’s Whitewashed series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Integer, then you are in the right place!
Special thanks to Adelaide Thorne—a new BSR contributor and the author of The Trace—who wrote this great recap! Visit her website to check out the books she’s written and to keep up with news about her new releases. See the end of the recap for links to her Goodreads and Instagram accounts.
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Integer?
The Tacemus have stolen Ella Kepler’s memories. Now she’ll remember everything she lost.
Two years before the events of The Trace, Ella and her best friend, Kara Watson, are at a school fair when Grifters wreak havoc and Ella is whisked away to a safe house by a guy named Sheedy. At the safe house, Agents Chang and Walker tell Ella she is a metahuman and in danger. A disbelieving Ella demonstrates her clumsiness and lack of telekinesis, perplexing the MTA’s Dr. Saini, who has Ella undergo a series of tests that she fails. Dr. Saini shows Ella a video of her parents signing a consent form in which they agree to raise Ella as a civilian.
Agent Walker then tells Ella a worse truth: Grifters have taken the memories of her parents and Kara. None of them remember who Ella is anymore. A distraught Ella tries to see her parents, who are in another room, but Agent Walker refuses and orders Sheedy to monitor Ella so she doesn’t sneak out. In walks another metahuman named Banks. Banks, who is Sheedy’s Commanding Officer, convinces the gullible Sheedy to leave the room.
With the help of Banks, Ella gets to see her parents and receives proof they’ve truly forgotten her. Dr. Saini drags Ella away and reprimands Banks, telling him he doesn’t even have authority to be at the safe house. Banks shows a clear disdain for rules, the MTA, and especially Sheedy.
Dr. Saini allows Ella to say farewell to her parents while they’re sleeping. Then they’re taken back home, and Ella is given two options for her future. She can stay in an MTA safe house and wait around for her parents to recover, or she can begin training as a metahuman. The second option seems absurd, since Ella has no apparent metahuman abilities, but when Sheedy throws a heavy weight and she automatically catches it, she begins to wonder if maybe she’s a metahuman after all. After a pep talk from Dr. Saini, Ella decides the best way to help Kara and her parents is to train.
Agent Walker drives Ella and Sheedy to a Segregated Preparatory Outpost (SPO-10), where Sheedy will train Ella for a two-week trial period. If she shows promise, she can continue training. If not, she’ll have to go to the safe house.
Ella dislikes Sheedy and his blunt, robotic personality. During the two-week trial period, she progresses very little. At the end, Sheedy tells her she has potential but she’s not putting in the effort. To prove his point, he pushes her off a towering pine tree. Motivated by her survival, Ella agrees to work harder and remain at SPO-10.
Weeks of training pass. Despite getting gradually stronger, Ella can’t use telekinesis, which every other metahuman can. After many failed attempts, she realizes she’s telepathic instead and can read Sheedy’s mind. Alarmed, she tells no one until Banks and a Tacemus named “One” arrive at SPO-10. The Tacemus are telepaths, so Ella privately tells him about her ability and asks for advice.
Banks interrupts their conversation and tells Ella that One is a hive-mind, meaning all the Tacemus share a telepathic connection with him. The Tacemus are the ones who wiped her parents’ and Kara’s memories. Banks explains he works with an undercover group of metas who are trying to expose the Tacemus for what they really are: traitors to the MTA. With Ella’s help, Banks and his allies might have even footing against the Tacemus. Ella agrees to work with Banks and promises not to tell Sheedy about her telepathy.
As Ella and Sheedy continue training together, she is plagued by guilt at not revealing the truth, especially now that she can read his mind. One evening, Ella and Sheedy are purchasing supplies from a local store when Ella confides in a random civilian woman named Mae Keane. Mae gives Ella the sympathy Sheedy never has. Mae also tells Ella she had a daughter named Bridget who died in childbirth 13 years earlier.
Encouraged by her conversation with Mae, Ella admits to Sheedy that she’s telepathic, though she hides the fact that she’s working with Banks. Sheedy, rather than being alarmed and put-off by Ella’s ability, agrees to help her harness it. He reveals his first name, Ethan, and the two finally begin a tentative friendship.
Banks and One visit SPO-10 again. Ella tells Banks she told Ethan about her telepathy. Banks is frustrated and warns her not to tell anyone else. He also gives her a journal they can use to secretly communicate.
A few months later, Ella and Ethan are in the city so Ella can practice reading the minds of civilians. They spot two Grifters entering a public library. Ethan says they need to defend the civilians and get rid of the Grifters.
Ella feels conflicted about the idea of hurting Grifters who haven’t done anything wrong. Instead of listening to Ethan, she confronts one of the Grifters. The two of them share a strange, telepathic bond. The Grifter’s name is Chron, and he’s a telepath like Ella. However, he’s inconsistent with the ability. Since Ella has become consistent at reading Ethan’s mind, Chron assumes Ella is more powerful than he is. He threatens to kidnap her, but Chron’s twin sister Helix talks him out of it. Ethan then arrives and helps Ella escape. In the commotion, Chron loses an arm.
Back at SPO-10, Ella finally tells Ethan that she’s working with Banks and that the Tacemus are just as bad, if not worse, than the Grifters. Ethan has no memory of Banks ever visiting SPO-10. Ella realizes One wiped Ethan’s memory twice, though she can’t understand why. Ethan, who used to be training partners with Banks, knows Banks is rebellious and untrustworthy. He’s hesitant to believe Ella.
The next morning, One arrives unexpectedly at SPO-10. He wipes Ethan’s memory of the entire conversation about Banks and the Tacemus. Ella hides, but One doesn’t wipe her too. Instead, he warns her this is what happens when she confides in people.
Ethan no longer remembers Ella is telepathic. This strains their budding friendship, as now Ella has to conceal even more things from him because she’s too afraid to tell him again.
Not long after the fight with Chron at the library, SPO-10 is raided by Chron’s Grifters. Ethan and Ella escape and are picked up in an aircraft by the MTA. Leader, whom Ethan reveres, tells Ella the MTA is still working on the cure for memory loss. One is on the aircraft and warns her not to tell Leader the truth about the Tacemus unless she wants Leader to get hurt.
Now at a training academy in Georgia, Ella follows Banks’ advice and avoids the Tacemus at all costs, afraid they’ll read her mind and find out she’s working with Banks. She is given a new mission by Banks and the secret metas he works with. Banks—who has graduated the MTA and is stationed at the academy as a mechanical engineer—tasks Ella with practicing her telepathy daily. Banks’ team wants Ella to be training partners with someone named Vires, but he is in the highest class in the academy, and Ella’s abilities aren’t progressed enough for her to pass the tests.
Banks and his team help Ella cheat her way through the MTA’s rigorous obstacle courses, which puts her in the highest level, with Vires as her partner. This causes another wedge between Ella and Ethan because Ethan knows she isn’t good enough for the tests. It’s also revealed the final obstacle involves killing a Grifter. Ella is unable to do it, so Banks interferes and kills the Grifter for her, reminding her to stay focused on her objective: defeat the Tacemus and go back home.
As a Level J and partnered with Vires, Ella falls into a new routine at the academy. Each evening, she sits on the roof and watches the cadets. She practices her telepathy on them, learning more about the cadets who become her friends: James Reynolds, Brittney McFarland, Simon Vires, Lydia Burnette, Tyler Griffin, and Bridget Keane, who is Ella’s roommate. Lydia, as Ethan’s former partner and closest friend, takes an interest in Ella’s inability to use telekinesis. Lydia is proficient at telekinesis and uses it for sniping. Ella senses a heavier weight in Lydia but doesn’t know what it is.
Banks’ team, whom Ella coins “Team White,” grows frustrated by Ella’s lack of progress with telepathy. Though she can read some people with ease, she can’t read everyone. Team White communicates with Helix, Chron’s twin sister, who offers to give Ella intel that will help her. Team White arranges a meeting with Helix, feeding Leader false intel so he sends a team of cadets to intercept what he believes is a rogue Grifter. Ella, the only one aware of the real plan, struggles to lie to both Ethan and Vires, her partner.
After separating from the cadets, Ella meets with Helix, who tells Ella about a Grifter king named “Durgan” who is willing to coach Ella in her telepathy. Helix also begs for mercy on Chron’s behalf, saying her brother has become too extreme and needs help.
Due to an accidental mishap, their meeting location catches fire. Ella and Helix hurry to escape, but Vires has come looking for Ella and gets caught in the fire. Ella and Vires run for safety, and Ella distracts Vires so Helix can escape. Since Ella and Vires have both suffered serious burns, Ethan calls off the mission and labels it a failure since they never found the Grifter they were looking for.
Vires, who risked his life for Ella, knows she ran off on her own and holds a grudge against her, which shatters their playful friendship. Worse, Lydia saw Helix and brings this to Ella’s attention, saying it’s her duty to tell Ethan. Instead, Ella lies and says there was no Grifter. Ethan believes Ella over Lydia, which hurts Lydia and causes a huge rift among the cadets. Lydia’s behavior worsens, and Ethan is forced to reprimand her in front of the entire school.
Ella, caught in a web of lies, grows more and more confused about what is right and what is wrong. Banks continues telling her to stay focused, especially once he guesses she has fallen for Ethan. Ella hides her feelings from Ethan, knowing there’s too much of a gap between them. At some point, she’ll return home and never see him again.
When a Tacemus randomly dies and Ella learns the Tacemus suffer from sporadic, unexplainable deaths, she asks the cadets why. None of them seem to know or care. Though Vires stays angry at Ella, he covers for her when she divulges she knows more about the Tacemus than the rest of the cadets. Vires warns her not to make the Tacemus her enemy. He also guesses she’s working with Banks and says Banks is completely untrustworthy. All he wants is a way to manipulate his way around the MTA. According to Vires, Banks actually cares about the Tacemus and wants to help them.
More confused than ever, Ella asks Brittney McFarland for help. However, McFarland has no clue what Ella is talking about, and she also doesn’t understand why Ella trusts Banks, who has always been a rebel and rule-breaker. Unsure what to do, Ella decides to tell Banks that Vires must be working for the opposite side of Team White. Before she can say this, Banks tells her Team White has finally contacted Durgan. At the end of the day, Ella will leave for Durgan’s. Though bothered by the timing, Ella conceals her misgivings and agrees to the plan.
That day, Ella’s class instructor, Tyler Griffin, is away on a mission with Lydia. Leader interrupts class with the sad news that Griffin was killed by Grifters. A student makes a comment that Lydia probably allowed Griffin to die because she wanted to take his position as teacher. Ella becomes worried Lydia might’ve acted rashly due to being hurt by Ethan, all because of Ella’s lie about Helix. Ella then faces a painful memory from her childhood, when she accidentally distracted Kara’s older brother Kyle while he was driving. A car hit Kyle’s and killed his mom. Ella’s dad told her to call an ambulance, but her fears paralyzed her and she did nothing.
Now, Ella realizes she can’t continue to be paralyzed by her fears. It’s time to come clean about the Tacemus and Team White.
She enters Leader’s office, where Ethan and Lydia are arguing about the mission. Ella admits she lied about Helix, but Lydia refuses to forgive her and says Leader already knew Ella lied because other people witnessed Helix. Ethan, paragon of honesty, can’t understand why Ella lied. Privately, they argue, and Ella apologizes for all the lies and says she’s now going to tell Leader everything. Ethan is impressed by her humility and tells her he cares for her. The two share a brief moment of happiness, then Ella leaves to meet with Leader, promising Ethan she’ll come find him right after. Ethan says he’ll wait for her.
Ella takes Leader to the place she and Banks have been using as a rendezvous point. It’s a meeting room disguised as a water tower. Banks is there, waiting to take Ella to Durgan. When he sees she brought Leader, he warns her not to tell Leader anything, but Ella doesn’t listen. After explaining to Leader that the Tacemus can wipe memories and that he’s in danger, she’s surprised when Leader then turns to Banks and calls him a crusader. Leader says Banks has been manipulating Ella, and Banks says Leader is a liar.
Unsure who to believe, Ella reads Banks, something she’s previously been unable to do. In Banks’ memories, she sees he has a friendship with the Tacemus and his primary goal is to help them. According to Banks, the Tacemus are under Leader’s control. Anything he tells them to do, they’re forced to obey. Leader is the one who tells the Tacemus to wipe memories. They have no autonomy, and Banks wants to free them. In order to keep Leader from finding out about Ella’s telepathy and Team White, Banks made Ella distrust the Tacemus so she’d avoid them and block them from reading her mind.
Worse, metahumans were never given to the MTA by their parents. The MTA, using the Tacemus to fabricate memories, tricks parents into believing their children died at birth. The MTA then abducts the children. There are no such things as Fallows—metahumans who were raised by civilians—except Ella. She was an anomaly, a glitch in the system. Once Leader discovered her last year, he took her and made the Tacemus wipe her parents’ memories.
After Leader doesn’t deny any of this, Ella realizes she made a terrible mistake. However, Leader is far more interested in Banks. The two of them argue, and Leader makes a cryptic comment about Banks’ mom. Just as Banks is about to attack, he suddenly goes flying backward. Agent Chang enters the water tower with a Tacemus. Defying the normal rules of telekinesis, Agent Chang is able to control people. Banks escapes, and Ella is left with Leader, Agent Chang, and the Tacemus.
Leader knows all about Team White and wants to discover who is working against him. He orders the Tacemus to read Ella’s mind. Ella tells the Tacemus to stop. Unexpectedly, the Tacemus obeys her. Leader and Ella realize she can control the Tacemus, too. Before Ella can do anything else, Leader takes the Tacemus away and tells Agent Chang to guard Ella. Agent Chang, using her telekinesis, keeps Ella stationary and says “Leader knows how to spot the special ones,” implying there are other metahumans like Ella and Agent Chang who can do more than the average metahuman.
Leader returns with a device he uses to test Ella’s DNA. The results shock him. “All this time,” he says. Agent Chang then knocks Ella unconscious.
Ella wakes up in a stasis chamber. She’s in a laboratory where there’s a crest for the “Andrews” family (Leader’s last name), along with a motto that says Saecula Saeculorum. Agent Chang unhooks her from the machine and tells her to get dressed. Ella is surprised to see her own clothes from home.
Leader and a Tacemus are waiting in a car that takes Ella to an airstrip. Along the way, Leader explains Ella has been too manipulated by Banks and will never trust him. He wants to keep an eye on her and give her a clean slate. A Tacemus will wipe her memories, and then she’ll return to the MTA. He’ll also manipulate her so she’ll start confiding in him over her own parents, who will never fully regain their memories. Once memories been removed, they can’t be restored. Nothing Ella can do will change that. Leader puts a mouth guard on her so she can’t speak and control the Tacemus. Ella realizes then that Leader doesn’t know she’s telepathic. She plans to mentally communicate to the Tacemus and order him not to wipe her memories.
Onboard the airplane, Ella is under tight watch from several MTA agents. The Tacemus says he’s One, the Tacemus who has been working with Banks, who wiped Ethan at SPO-10, and who’s been interacting with her. One is different from the rest of the Tacemus—he speaks in the first person singular, and he’s not in the same comatose, hive-mind state as the others. He also can’t be controlled by either Leader or Ella.
One tells Ella that Banks will find her after her memory is wiped and will re-introduce her to “Operation Whitewash,” which is the group trying to free the Tacemus and dismantle the MTA’s practices of kidnapping metahumans. If Ella can read Leader, she will be able to figure out how to free the Tacemus. However, since her telepathy is still inconsistent, she will train with Durgan first. One gives Ella a contact lens that plants a subliminal impression of the Society symbol and Banks, who will go by the name “Jimmy Daniels” and be a classmate at her school.
Ella tries telling One not to wipe her, but it doesn’t work. As he begins to wipe her, she focuses on Ethan, determined not to forget him. Eventually, he slips away, and she’s left with just the letters “E” and “N.” Ella then wakes up in her parents’ house with no recollection of the MTA.
Once this flashback ends, Ella mentally returns to where she was at the end of The Trace. She is at a military base in South Carolina after having just finished training with Durgan. Chron, Helix’s one-armed brother, has kidnapped both Kara and Ethan. Ella sets aside her confusion and focuses on rescuing her friends.
She and One escape the military base on a motorcycle. One says Ella can’t go after Kara and Ethan because Chron will probably kill her, and Ella is too important to die. He also explains that her parents have been given new identities and relocated to another state. This was done to protect them from the MTA. The downside is they’re farther away from Ella than ever. It turns out the parents she spoke to on the phone in The Trace were actually Agents Walker and Chang impersonating her parents, all so they could manipulate Ella and have her confide in Leader rather than them. One then tells Ella his story.
When Ella was born, One was the Tacemus sent to retrieve her. However, something happened when he touched Ella. He was freed from his comatose, hive-mind state. Realizing Ella was special, One hid her from the MTA. As she grew up, he would visit her often with other Tacemus, hoping she could somehow free them. It never worked. One decided to wait until she got older before telling her the truth, so he continued hiding her. The two of them formed a friendly bond until Ella got too old and One made her forget him. But One grew to care about Ella even though she didn’t remember him.
How did The Integer end?
Operation Whitewash still needs Ella to read Leader’s mind to figure out how to free the Tacemus. All the Tacemus are unable to read Leader’s mind, including One. However, One has the power to wipe Leader’s memories, which he did every time Leader got too close to discovering the truth about Ella. Unfortunately, every time One wipes Leader, a Tacemus dies. That’s the reason the Tacemus suffer from sporadic, unexplainable deaths.
Conflicted, Ella tells One that she simply can’t give up on Kara and Ethan. After reading One and discovering Chron’s location, she leaves One and drives to the forest where Chron’s Grifters live. There, Ella speaks to the forest ranger and realizes he works for the MTA, which means the MTA knows Chron lives in this forest and hasn’t done anything about it.
On her trek through the woods, Ella runs into Banks, who says Ella is being selfish. If she dies, the Tacemus have no chance at freedom. She has to let go of Kara and Ethan.
Ella makes the painful decision to go with Operation Whitewash. Feeling guilty, Banks says he’ll rescue Kara and Ethan instead. But Chron’s Grifters find them. In an effort to save Banks, Ella surrenders. The captain of the Grifter guard, an ally with Helix, lets Banks escape, though she won’t help Ella. The Grifters drag Ella into their lair and imprison her.
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