Cinder races to the quarantines as fast as she can and finds Peony, whose whole body is covered in dark splotches. As Cinder tries to get Peony to sit up to drink the antidote, Peony goes limp. Cinder begs her to stay awake, but she knows that Peony has died. She rocks her stepsister, telling her that she wanted to save her and that she got Kai to promise he would dance with her. Pain rips through Cinder’s head, but it passes, less severe than the last time.
Peony’s death is another tragic turning point in Cinder’s life, particularly because Peony was Cinder’s only ally within their family. This makes the reader (and Cinder) more aware of the high stakes of finding a cure for letumosis and helping society, knowing that so many other people are experiencing the same pain and sadness that Cinder is here.
Cinder sees a med-droid coming to take out Peony’s ID chip—but before it can, she grabs the scalpel, jams it through the android’s sensor, and then takes Peony’s chip out herself. As Cinder leaves, she sees Sunto, Chang Sacha’s son, on a bed nearby. She takes out the vial and gives it to him to drink. As Cinder leaves, a voice comes over the speaker, informing Cinder that Adri has labeled her a runaway cyborg—their orders are to apprehend her by force and return her to Adri.
While Cinder didn’t arrive in time to help her stepsister, she wants to make a difference for Sunto, just as she promised Chang Sacha. Even though Sacha treated Cinder terribly, Cinder proves her kindness once more. Given the chance to save someone Sacha loved, Cinder chooses to take it rather than being vengeful.