Cinder wakes up after spending all night pushing the old car from the junkyard to the apartment’s parking garage. As soon as she opens her eyes, she receives a notification on her interface that Peony has entered the third stage of letumosis. Immediately, she calls a hover for the first time in her life and travels to the quarantines. There, the med-droids largely ignore her—they’re not programmed to deal with healthy people in the quarantines.
Cinder shows just how hard she is willing to work in order to achieve her goals, as she stays awake all night in order to fix up the car. This is quite different from the original “Cinderella” story that Cinder is based on, in which a pumpkin is magically transformed into a carriage for Cinderella with ease. That Meyer chose to adapt the original fairy tale in this way sends the message that resourcefulness and perseverance are more admirable than relying on other people (or on sheer luck).
Hundreds of beds are lined up in the facility, with med-droids moving between them to deliver food and water. Cinder finds Peony asleep, shivering and sweating. Peony wakes and begs Cinder to take her home, but Cinder can’t. She assures Peony that Pearl and Adri are healthy and informs Peony that she (Cinder) is immune. She’s working with the letumosis researchers to find a cure, and Peony will be the first to get the antidote if she does. Peony begs Cinder not to let her die, reminding Cinder that she was going to introduce her to Prince Kai.
Cinder risks her safety for Peony—both in visiting her at the quarantines (she’s not sure whether they will let her leave) and in participating in the experimental research. She tries to assure Peony that she is working towards an antidote for society and also for Peony, thinking of her stepsister above all else.
Cinder promises Peony to return as soon as she can. As she turns to leave, she hears someone else call her name: it’s Chang Sacha, who is in a nearby bed. Sacha asks if Cinder can bring her son Sunto to her, and Cinder assures her that she will try. Then, she watches as the life fades from Sacha’s eyes. An android comes over, pulls out a scalpel, and presses the blade into Sacha’s wrist, taking out her ID chip and collecting it.
Whereas before, Chang Sacha discriminated against Cinder for being a cyborg, now Chang Sacha begs for Cinder’s help. Chang Sacha previously viewed Cinder as subhuman and warned Sunto to stay away from her—yet here, ironically, Cinder is the only person who can help because she’s immune. Cinder again demonstrates the value of prioritizing other people over oneself: rather than clinging to her pride, she decides to be compassionate, could help someone in a dire situation. But unfortunately, Sacha dies before Cinder is able find Sunto.