After Adri and Pearl leave for the ball, Cinder returns to the apartment to pack. She tucks Peony’s ID chip and Iko’s personality chip in her calf compartment before returning to the basement, where Peony’s gown is still draped over the welder. She rummages for parts should her own body or the car malfunction, and she sees her old, small mechanical foot: Iko must have saved it.
As Cinder packs, the objects in the basement remind readers how much she’s has already lost: her stepsister, her best friend, and even her foot. But her perseverance now allows her to make her escape in spite of these obstacles and tragedies.
Cinder then takes a knife out, planning to cut her ID chip out of her wrist so that no one can track her. But before she does, the direct link still loading on her netscreen pops up. Cinder accepts the link, and a girl’s image pops up the screen. The girl says that she needs to speak with someone at the palace. She starts to cry, saying that Sybil will kill her if she finds out she’s talking to Cinder—Sybil treats her like a prisoner and a slave. Cinder realizes that the girl is Lunar.
The girl communicating with Cinder through the netscreen is just one of many people whom Sybil and Levana are abusing and manipulating. As they do with so many others, they treat this girl like a slave and literally threaten her life in order to keep their political machinations a secret. But this is another example of how that manipulation backfires—the girl feels so oppressed and abused that she finds it necessary to betray the Lunars.
The girl reveals that Levana knows that Princess Selene is alive, and that Kai is searching for her. Once Kai and Levana marry, Levana is going to try to kill Kai and then brainwash the Earthens into following her. Cinder realizes that she has to warn Kai—she knows he’s likely going to announce his intent to marry Levana at the ball that evening. Picking up Peony’s dress, the small mechanical foot, and the silk gloves, Cinder resolves to go to the ball.
The book once again shows the lengths to which Levana will go to maintain and gain political power, killing people and causing massive political turmoil solely for her own benefit. Meanwhile, Cinder demonstrates her resilience in the face of obstacles as well as her self-sacrificing nature, as she gives up her chance for escape in order to warn Kai and save his life.