Dr. Erland shows Cinder what is unusual about her biometrics: the letumosis microbes have disappeared. He tells her that she doesn’t have the plague, that she’s not going to die, and that she’s not contagious. Cinder, relieved, asks how this is possible. Dr. Erland explains that it’s possible that something in her DNA predisposes her immune system to fight off the disease. Cinder says that her stepfather Garan died of letumosis five years prior, when he adopted her in Europe. She says she can’t remember much from before her cybernetic surgery—they had to install a brain interface because she was in a hover accident.
Here, Cinder provides some context about what she believes about her own history. And while Dr. Erland remains intentionally vague about how her background could contribute to her immunity, the novel foreshadows how unique parts of Cinder’s background—including her cybernetic operation—might actually have provided her with advantages, even though most people view her as subhuman.
Dr. Erland tells Cinder that with her help, they could save hundreds of thousands of lives. They could also stop the cyborg draft, and he could pay her as well. Cinder thinks of Peony, hoping that what Dr. Erland says is true. She agrees to continue participating in the research, but only under the condition that she can leave any time she wants to. She also asks for payment, but in a separate account that Adri can’t access—and Peony has to be the first person to get an antidote. Dr. Erland agrees, but with one caveat: Peony can get the second dose, but Emperor Rikan must get the first.
Cinder’s sacrifice now becomes much more realistic, as she’s been offered a concrete way to save lives and prevent fellow cyborgs from being exploited. Still, both she and Dr. Erland are sacrificing much of their time and well-being in order to benefit society as a whole. There’s a great deal at stake here: their actions have ramifications not only for the health of Peony and other Earthens, but also for political reasons. If Emperor Rikan were to die, there would be political upheaval, and Dr. Erland also wants to avoid this outcome.