D-503 reads the morning’s State Gazette and decides everything has been a bad dream. The Gazette issues a statement informing ciphers that the only thing that prevents them from being as perfect and precise is their imaginations. According to the Gazette, happiness ends where sickness begins; therefore, the State has developed an operation to “heal” ciphers of their imagination, rendering them “perfect” and “machine-equal.” The Gazette calls on its readers to undergo this new Great Operation.
D-503 calls I-330 and tells her about the Gazette’s statement. She tells him to come by her place at 16:00, “without fail,” which pleases him. D-503 goes to work at the hangar. He strokes the Integral’s engine affectionately as he thinks about its test run tomorrow and about how he will betray it at 12:00 the next day. The Second Builder appears and tells D-503 that the test run has been pushed back a day because of the Operation.
D-503 feels affection for the Integral while thinking about how he will betray it, demonstrating how conflicted he continues to feel about his dual allegiance to I-330 and to the One State.
D-503 returns to his room, where U is sitting at his desk. He forgives her for her outburst about I-330 the other day. U tells D-503 how happy she is that he will soon be “totally healthy” again. She tells D-503 about how she took the children to the Operation. Once there, they resisted and had to be held down.
U forces the children to undergo the Operation because she values the welfare of the One State over that of individuals. The children’s resistance demonstrates the human urge to be free, and posits that predictability and perfection are not the default, ideal human condition, despite the One State’s contrary claims.
U leaves and D-503 heads over to I-330’s place. He goes to her and hugs her knees. A storm rages outside. I-330 says goodbye to D-503: he is sick, has committed crimes for her, and she assumes he will undergo the Operation to wipe his consciousness of such unbearable wrongdoings and obtain complete happiness. D-503 insists he will not undergo the Operation, as he cannot go on living without her. He agrees to help her steal the Integral at 12:00 the day after tomorrow. He walks home alone, apart from the other ciphers: “everyone was saved, but there was to be no saving me, I don’t want saving…”
D-503’s decision to forgo the Operation and continue suffering in order to love I-330 shows that he values love and interpersonal relationships over predictability, rationality, and painlessness. When he notes that “everyone was saved, but there was to be no saving me, I don’t want saving…” he finally admits to himself that he is actively making choices to behave freely and irrationally. He can finally accept that he’s not acting out because of his “sickness”: he actively wants to be free, act on irrational desires, and live life as an individual.