Summary of Chapter 22
Rio is stunned at True's sudden appearance at the siren transport. True explains that Nevio came to him and asked if he was a siren. True explains that he has the power to tell when sirens are lying, and when he told this to Nevio, the minister told him to come with the rest of the sirens to the Above.
Because of this ability, True was able to tell that Nevio was lying when he said the breach in the deepmarket was an accident. Rio asks who caused it, and Maire explains that the Council altered the pressurization system; though she knew about this, she did not help them. True says he believes her.
Nevio sent True on the mission because he thought True would be able to identify and stop any sirens who might have been trying to sabotage the mission. True wanted to come on the mission to go Above with Rio, to stay with her. Rio realizes that Nevio sent True with the sirens in order to get rid of him - he didn't want True to use his abilities to explain Nevio's lies to the people. Nevio does not plan on anyone in this transport returning to Atlantia alive.
Even as she has this terrible thought, Rio is overcome with excitement at the prospect of finally seeing the Above. Maire promises that she will protect Rio. True holds Rio's hands as they move up through the darkness to the Above.
Summary of Chapter 23
Rio is dazzled by the brightness of the Above, but she has little time to think before she is rushed to a beach. Maire points out a small inlet that leads to a cave, telling True and Rio that this is the way they will use to escape. Then the three join the rest of the sirens at a platform on the beach. A little distance away in the water, people of the Above are waiting in boats. Rio thinks they might be holding weapons, but she isn't sure.
The sirens begin to sing, using their magical voices to convince the people of the Above to resume their duty of providing sustenance to the people Below. On Maire's command, Rio conserves her voice. Suddenly the sirens begin to fall - the people in the boats are shooting them. Maire tells Rio that she loves her, and loves her sister Oceana. Maire gives Rio a shell containing the voice of Oceana, then distracts the people in the boats so that True and Rio can get away. Weeping, the two escape the slaughter of the sirens and take refuge in a cave nearby.
Summary of Chapter 24
In the cave, Rio listens to the shell containing her mother's voice. Oceana explains that the religion of the temples was made up, but then miracles started to happen, making it true. She also reveals that the air in the Above became clean enough to live in a few years ago, though it is still rather polluted. The people of the Above wanted nothing to do with the people of the Below anymore, especially when Atlantia's mines began to run out of ore. Oceana also explains that Atlantia is only one of many Belows, and their Above is also only one of many Aboves. The other Aboves have already flooded and destroyed the other Belows, and killed all of their sirens. Atlantia is the only surviving underwater city, and its sirens are the last.
The people from the Above will not accept refugees from the Below, and Oceana is at a loss for how to save her city and its sirens. Oceana also notes that only a pure siren (one who has never used her voice for the Council, who loves Atlantia as much as herself) can speak to the people of the Above and truly convince them. Even Maire, with all her power, cannot accomplish this task.
Stunned, Rio relates this information to True and then holds him in her arms.
Summary of Chapter 25
The two swim to shore, reaching one of the settlements of the Above. Rio is dazzled by the dusty, crowded city, and she delights in it.
The two reach the temple, which is oxidized green from the severe air pollution. They enter the temple and are stunned to see the gods of the Above, which take the forms of ocean creatures. She thinks of her mother and sister, and cannot help crying.
Suddenly, a man behind her says "Bay," and she sees her sister, standing in the middle of the aisle and gazing at her with amazement.
Like many characters in Condie's novels, True's name has special significance. He is able to tell when sirens are lying - in other words, he knows when what they are saying is true.
True's ability also explains his sudden appearance on the transport, but in a very unsettling way. Rio realizes that Nevio would probably want to get rid of anyone who could not only tell that he was a siren, but that he was lying. This information, along with Nevio's role in the deepmarket tragedy, cements Nevio's position as the primary antagonist of the book; he is a slick politician who manipulates others to serve his ends, even if it kills him.
Rio's journey up to the Above contains numerous examples of beautiful imagery. While traveling through the darkness, she imagines the animals swimming and walking in the Above; when she reaches the beach, she vividly describes the feeling of the sand on her feet and the sun like a coin in the sky. This use of metaphor makes sense; after all, Rio has never seen the sun before, and it makes sense that she would compare it to something she was more familiar with.
True and Rio take care not to speak when they are walking through the city in the Above out of fear that someone might recognize their accents and realize that they are actually from Atlantia. This parallels Rio's suppression of her siren voice; she must conceal her powers in the Below, but she must also keep entirely quiet in the Above.
The gods of the Below take the forms of land animals (such as tigers), while in the Above the gods are sea-dwelling animals. They are the same gods in both places, but the physical representation of the gods is supposed to put the worshipper in mind of the people in the opposite community. This was intended to draw together both the people of the Above and the Below, though as we shall soon see, this did not work very well.