Summary of Chapter 8
Rio decides to see if the money her sister left for her will be enough to purchase a tank of air to take her to the surface. She asks one of the vendors who sells recreational air, Ennio, but he replies sharply that he doesn't sell anything like that. He adds that it would cost a thousand coin at best, and that the air canister might be empty or improperly pressurized. Either way, he warns her that it is a stupid plan to try to swim Above. Rio leaves, pleased with the new information she has gained.
At the swimming lanes, Rio is frustrated to see that she has not been chosen to participate in any of the races. Aldo explains that this is because she is a new racer and her skills are unknown; the bettors are reluctant to put money on her. Rio is frustrated - how is she supposed to improve her skills for the journey to the Above and earn money if no one will bet on her?
Suddenly, Rio has an idea. She uses a bit of the money that her sister left for her, and decides to stage a spectacle to attract viewers. She steps into the swimming lane in her heavy machinist's suit, and swims despite the heavy clothing. Her odd stunt draws a crowd, and the spectators applaud after she finishes a lap. She has gained enough public interest to come back to the swimming lanes tomorrow.
On her way home, Rio sees vendors selling jewelry and other items, and then sees a very familiar object. It is a ring, inlaid with wood and turquoise, precious materials from the Above. It is Rio's mother's ring, and it is engraved with the names of Rio's mother, Bay, and Rio herself. Her mother was supposed to be sent up through the floodgates wearing this ring, but Bay forgot to bring it. Rio tells the shopkeeper that the ring belongs to her, but the shopkeeper replies that she bought it from a young man and it is her property now; the description of the young man matches that of Fen Cardiff exactly. As Rio argues with the shopkeeper, a man brings a tiny jar of water and the shopkeeper puts the ring in it; the ring is believed to hold the power to bless things.
The shopkeeper introduces herself as Cara, and explains that many people want to seek Oceana's blessing from her ring. Cara explains that some people worship Oceana, which stuns Rio. Rio is tempted to use her siren voice to command Cara to give her the ring, but resists this temptation. Cara offers to sell Rio the ring for the same price she paid for it - five hundred and seven coin, the exact amount of money in the bag that Bay left for Rio.
Rio immediately seeks out True, who is selling the small mechanical fish he makes after his work on the gondolas is done. Rio is entranced by the beauty of these exquisite little fish. She quickly reveals her purpose for seeking out True - asking about Bay and Fen. She suspects Fen of stealing Oceana's ring from Bay, but True replies that he wasn't that kind of person. Rio agrees to work with True to find out why Fen and Bay went Above. She also buys a few of True's lovely mechanical fish, to his great joy.
Summary of Chapter 9
Rio decides to use the fish to create a kind of obstacle course in the swimming lanes; spectators bet money on how many fish she will bump into during her swim. She also thinks this will prepare her for dodging the mines during her swim to the Above. She is surprised to see that True has come to the swimming lane; he tells her that she swims beautifully.
Consulting with Aldo and True, Rio ponders ways to draw more of a crowd. She decides to rig an electrical charge to the fish, so that they zap her every time she touches one of them. Not only will this train her to avoid the mines, but it will also be a novelty that brings in more money. True is worried for her safety, but Aldo is excited about the money that this will bring in.
Later, True tells Rio that he understands why she is taking so many risks. Rio thinks that he has discovered her plan to reach the Above, but True thinks that she wants to earn enough money to buy her mother's ring back. True says he will help her with this task because he wants her help finding out why Fen and Bay went Above. He once saw them kissing, but they could have stayed in the Below and had a happy life together. Rio is stunned that her sister didn't tell her anything about her romance with Fen.
True says that Fen's younger brother said he used to come home late at night with wet hair. It is possible that he had been participating in the late-night deepmarket races, which are dangerous but very lucrative. True also thinks that Bay and Fen started looking for something, perhaps the cause of Oceana's death.
True and Rio gather up the fish, giggling happily. Despite his sorrow at losing his friend, True says that he can't help being happy, because he's alive. Rio admires him for this, but knows that she will only feel alive when she has reached the Above.
Summary of Chapter 10
Rio goes to the temp to attend the Minister's monthly broadcast, despite her suspicions about Nevio. In his speech, Nevio says that Atlantia faces a serious situation - what to do with the sirens. He says that the last known siren was born twenty years ago, and the time of the sirens is coming to a close. Rio is stunned by this revelation - does this mean that she is the last siren? Is this one of the reasons her mother kept her true identity a secret?
Nevio continues. The miracle of the sirens belongs to Atlantia, he says, and Atlantia must keep the sirens safe. As the time of the sirens comes to a close, the people can expect the third miracle to arrive soon. As she leaves the temple, Rio wonders what Nevio's mysterious words might mean, and realizes that Nevio might be the one behind her mother's untimely death.
Rio runs into Justus, and asks him what it was like to undergo testing by the sirens during his candidacy for Minister. He says that he was able to resist all of them except Maire; he dislikes her for this, and believes that Maire brought down Oceana.
Suddenly, Nevio appears, causing Justus to leave abruptly. Nevio speaks compassionately to Rio, acknowledging the losses of her mother and sister. He comments that Justus shouldn't be telling Rio about the Council's suspicions about Maire's role in Oceana's death - he already said this to Bay. Nevio notes that he wasn't surprised when Bay decided to leave Atlantia after that revelation.
But Rio has caught Nevio in a lie. She remembers the shocked expression on Nevio's face when Bay chose to go Above. She realizes that Nevio is a siren, though a slightly different kind from all the others. This breaks the law of Atlantia, because the Minister is not supposed to be a siren. Nevio is able to use his subtle powers of manipulation to influence people, including Rio. Rio realizes how different Maire is from this icy manipulator - Maire always lets you know exactly what is happening when she manipulates you.
Nevio remarks that the guards thought someone was with Maire the night she was arrested, but Rio denies all knowledge of this occurrence. She leaves, wondering if Nevio might know more about Oceana's death than he lets on.
Following the advice of the note in her mother's file, Rio uses the black-and-white shell to ask Maire about the history of the sirens. In a voice that imitates Nevio's overblown manner, Maire explains how during the Divide, every person who stayed Above had at least one loved one who went Below, which ensured their loyalty. Many of those sent Below were children, because multiple adults would agree to a life of suffering in the Above to protect a single child.
Rio interrupts her, asking if there is another history. Maire explains that there is - one that she has heard in the siren voices that were absorbed by the walls of Atlantia. These voices told Maire that the children and all the others in the Below were full of despair and missed their loved ones Above. As the children grew up, they became strong but they did not harden their hearts. As they began to have children of their own, some of these were born sirens. The siren's voices brought peace and beauty to Atlantia, and the sirens told the people to feel joy. The sirens saved Atlantia.
Rio also asks her aunt where she can get a pressurized air tank for he journey above. Maire begs her not to go, but because she promised to help Rio in her real voice, she cannot break her word - she tells Rio that Ennio in the deepmarket has air tanks. Ennio will do this favor for Rio if she invokes Maire.
Though Rio has many, many other questions, she ends the session with Maire. She picks up Bay's shell to listen to her voice.
Summary of Chapter 11
True has developed a new creation - mechanical eels. Rio is delighted to use these in her swimming performances. In order to up the ante, Rio cuts off her wetsuit so that the electrical charges from the eels will strike her harder. True tries to prevent her from undertaking this risky act, but this stunt gains her even more money.
Rio has a moment of despair, fearing that this stunt will fail to gain her money and not prepare her for swimming past the mines. Still, Rio only takes a few hits as she swims. As she bundles up the mechanical fish and eels with True, he asks her how many more risks she is going to take. She replies that she doesn't know.
Summary of Chapter 12
At work, Rio has been promoted to the ocean room, where she will work on more damaged drones. After work, her co-workers throw coins into the wishing well for Rio. Desperate for money, Rio notices that there are 53 coins in the pool, quite a fortune. However, money in the pools is destined for the people Above.
Suddenly, Maire sits down next to Rio on the rim of the pool. Maire explains that the Council released her from prison after she performed a favor for them.
Rio asks Maire how the sirens went from being loved to being hated; Maire answered that they were worshipped in between. The gods of Atlantia were actually just statues brought down from the Above for decoration, but the sirens were so miraculous that people created an entire religion around them. Even the first Minister of Atlantia was a siren.
Rio asks Maire to teach her to impart her voice to a shell. Maire explains that one can use her siren powers to command inanimate objects, but she needs to be near the object and to not be afraid. Maire leaves. Rio is stunned to find that the coins are floating on the surface of the pool, a demonstration of Maire's powers. Rio gathers them up.
On her way home, Rio slips in a puddle of water that comes from a leak in the protective bubble around Atlantia. This is a dangerous sign, but Rio is fascinated by the salty water from outside the city.
Rio tries out her siren voice on the mechanical fish and eels. She finds that she can make them come and go, and wonders if she can control the mines as well. Her joy at this new accomplishment is dampened when she discovers that Bay's shell has gone silent - she can no longer hear her sister's voice.
Somewhat ironically, Ennio undermines himself by naming the price and dangers associated with buying a tank of air. If he truly wasn't involved in selling such an illegal item, he wouldn't know exactly how much it cost.
We now know how Bay earned the money that she left for Rio - she sold her mother's ring. This mystery is solved, but raises another - what did Bay want Rio to do with this money? Bribe a Council member, buy an air tank, give the money to Maire?
Rio discovers Nevio's true nature - he is a siren of some kind who is able to persuade people to do things, which is why she so meekly accepted her exile from the temple. It may also be why he became Minister (though it is illegal for a siren to be a Minister), and why the people accept his characterization of Atlantia's sirens as a "situation."
Maire reveals to Rio the true history of the sirens - they were the saviors of Atlantia, and with their powers they told the people to feel happy and the people had to obey them. Not only were they loved, they were also worshipped. Something terrible happened to bring this to an end, but Rio does not yet know what it is.
Rio also learns that the religion of Atlantia was not passed down for centuries, but was developed shortly after the Divide and further inspired by the appearance of the sirens. At the time of the Divide, Maire notes, people did not really believe in anything at all, and the statues of the gods which are now so revered were once considered mere art objects. This religion is peculiar: it is clearly designed by humans, but it also provides the only rationale for a number of miracles (the bats, sirens, trees that lose their leaves during times of upheaval in Atlantia, and so on).