Chapter 5: Cassia
Cassia rides the train home from work, feeling hazy and confused. She asks a girl in a gown if she was Matched that night, even though it’s obvious that she was. She realizes suddenly that she might’ve been administered a red tablet, and feeling the remember slip of paper up her sleeve, discovers that it’s true. She gets off at the next stop even though it’s not hers, feeling shocked and despondent at her lack of immunity. She believed strongly that she was immune like Ky, Xander, and Indie. She begins running through what she can remember. She is wearing her red dress because Ky is coming to see her. She has her poems, and recalls how she came by them.
A few days after arriving in Central, she walked along the white wall encircling the stillzone, thinking of her time in the Carving, of Indie and Eli, and her younger brother, Bram. She wrote an E in the snow for Eli, even though writing by hand is expressly forbidden. She broke dead branches off of a tree and hid them in her clothes, likening them to an exoskeleton. A woman approached her and asks her to come with her to complete a trade. Cassia followed her through an abandoned restoration site. At one point, the woman blindfolded her as they headed into the Archivists’ main trading hub. With Cassia unseeing, they went underground. Cassia thought of the I did not reach thee poem. Upon arrival, the woman took off Cassia’s blindfold, revealing a room of long, empty, metal shelves. In front of her was a package filled with the poems they took from the Carving. She spent some time examining and feeling them. The woman returned and told Cassia that she could leave without a blindfold now and return if she wants to trade with them. She’ll be a trader, though not a more expert Archivist. Cassia asked the woman if they accept spoken poems, but she says they don’t anymore. Cassia asked to trade for a fireproof, waterproof box in which to keep her poems.
In real time, she processes more memories, including that she hid her box of poems in the lake nearby, and that that’s where she was supposed to meet Ky. She heads there, but he isn’t there. She remembers that they’d written one another in code to make their messages harder to read. She is shocked to find that the lake is full of dead fish and wonders who would be poisoning the Society’s water. She hopes Ky arrives before she gets too cold to stay.
Chapter 6: Ky
As they approach Grandia Province, Ky attempts to write down his plan to escape to Central on a napkin for Indie to read, but they’re interrupted as the Pilot’s voice comes over their speakers. The Pilot says that he plans to address the entire nation soon, but that those participating in the Rising’s first wave should be addressed first. He informs them all of the plague infecting thousands around the Provinces. Ky is shocked and remembers that Eli said his parents died of a mysterious illness in Central. The pilot continues that the plague was created by the Society for the Enemy but that it’s now been repurposed. Those in flight now carry the cure aboard their ships and must deliver it to the most heavily infected cities, including Grandia and Central. Indie immediately mouths to Ky that they’re not detouring to Central just for Cassia’s sake.
The Pilot informs them that they are paired with people they know and care about to avoid going off track for their own selfish purposes, like bringing the cure to family and friends, since they don’t have an excess amount to spare. Ky observes aloud how similar this seems to the Society, and the Pilot, as if answering him, says, “We are not the Society” (p. 74). The Pilot says that the plague has reached a peak, irreparably interfering with Matching Banquets all across the Provinces. When he finishes, Indie reassures Ky that Cassia will be fine.
Indie brings them in for a smooth landing outside Camas City Hall. She stays with the ship while Ky and Caleb run cases of red-tubed cures inside. As they do, they hear the Pilot singing a mournful rendition of the Anthem of the Society over the ports. Ky catches sight of a patient as he heads out again and hates how still he looks. He feels a bit of loyalty to the Rising for the way they’re saving people from such a state. When they finish delivering cases and return to the ship, Caleb curiously still has one with him, which the commander over the speaker tells Ky and Indie is approved. They take off again and head back to Camas to get more. Indie assures Ky that others will bring cures to Central, to Cassia. They fly higher and Ky notices how far away the stars really are.
Chapter 7: Xander
Rising officers come into City Hall, where Xander is being kept, and release him along with others. Xander hears the Pilot’s voice for the first time and thinks it sounds exactly how it should. He is escorted out, and realizes that Official Lei is not coming with him; she’s not part of the Rising.
Outside, some Officials are attempting in vain to fight back against the Rising rebels. A ship overhead shoots warning shots to deter them. The Pilot sings the sad Society Anthem over speakers. Xander heads into the medical center, where he rids himself of his white Official uniform in favor of a black Rising one.
The head physic instructs Xander on how to divide up the sick and administer the cure. Xander worries that Cassia might not be part of the Rising; if he was wrong about Official Lei, he could be wrong about her, too. He hopes Cassia’s alright. He’s asked to begin administering the cure while they wait for more medics to arrive, a task the Society never would have permitted. He begins the task as the Pilot’s voice continues speaking from the ports.
Chapter 8: Cassia
Still out in the cold, Cassia worries that Ky is not coming. She talks herself into wading into the dead-fish-filled lake and retrieving her box of poems. However, when she does, she discovers that it is empty; all of her poems have been stolen. She wishes she hadn’t come to the lake at all.
As she heads home, she realizes that everyone in the City seems awake; ports are on and glowing in all the windows. She heads home to her apartment and is horrified to see that her port is displaying images of hundreds of bodies sick with the plague. She thinks she recognizes one and realizes that these bodies are in Central. The Pilot begins speaking, and Cassia confesses her disappointment in not recognizing the voice. She wonders if she subconsciously expected it to be her dead grandfather. The Pilot explains the plague and its origins as a weapon used by the Society against the Enemy, though the latter is now gone. He describes how some are immune and there is a cure for the rest, and says that this rebellion “will begin and end with saving your blood, not spilling it” (p. 95). He finishes by warning that those who run may not be saved from the plague. In spite of herself, Cassia cries for the death of the Society that used to keep her safe.
The next day, Cassia goes to the Archivists and asks the head if the plague is real. She confirms that it is. Cassia admits that her poems were stolen. The head is disheartened to hear it, and tells Cassia that the Archivists are wary of both the Society and the Rising. She gives Cassia a paper with a poem describing a “physic fading” and a plague going by (p. 98). Cassia wonders if the physic is the Leader of the Society, but the Archivist corrects her that the Society is run by committees of Officials, not one leader. Cassia asks is she can be notified if her poems surface, or if she can trade poems she’s written. The head declines both requests. Cassia then proposes a new line of trading where people exchange art that they’ve made, like paintings or poetry. The head dismisses this idea as well. She reminds Cassia that she still has two paid-for items on the way, and finishes by saying that some things will be valuable regardless of those in power, but that the currency will shift, and that “it is always…so interesting to watch” (p. 101).
Chapters 5-8 Analysis
In Chapter 7, Xander observes the less formal way in which the Rising treats its rules and members when he is asked to perform temporarily the tasks of a medic. While this would never have been sanctioned by the Society, he describes the Rising’s encouraging it as “lines… becoming blurred” (p. 86). This is among the first of many immediately observable differences between the policies of the Society and the Rising, and sets the expectation that more leniency and freedom are yet to come.
The changes are not all positive, however. Ky makes the observation in Chapter 6 that in many ways the Rising thinks and operates similarly to the Society, particularly with the manipulative way they pair up pilots who care about one another to avoid either veering off course for their respective interests and the interests of their loved ones. The Pilot’s nearly perfectly timed rebuttal when Ky likens the Rising’s decisions to those of the Society is somewhat ominous, evoking the tone of a Big Brother type figure who detects and squanders dissent in its tracks.
Cassia’s visceral reaction to the death of the Society is a powerful demonstration of her complex, fractured identity. She sheds tears “in spite of herself” for the fall of the state that did, at one time, make her feel very safe (p. 96). Despite all its faults, she’s been naturally conditioned to associate the Society with home, having grown up under its protective control for her whole life. To see it fall, however necessary, is an enormous change, and her real sorrow may in fact come from her conflicting desire for that change, desire forced upon her in in realizing the Society’s cruelty and fallibility when she once considered it safe and reliable. This conflict is only exacerbated by the graphic images of sick bodies on her port screen, images that she wishes didn’t have to exist, and that would’ve have existed if the Society hadn’t been challenged.
Part 1 ends on a curious note, with the head Archivist describing the changing of currency, correlated with changes in power, as “so interesting to watch” (p. 101). This description implies that the change in power from the Society to the Rising is a recurring process, one that she has seen before, possible many times. This has endless implications for the events to come. Is she referring to when the Society originally gained power? Or have there been other shifts in power? Will the Rising one day fall the way the Society did? Such possibilities evoke the story of Sisyphus described prior to Chapter 1, the way he piloted a rock up the hill only to have it roll back down every time. The Archivist’s statement serves to draw the reader into Part 2, seeking answers to such a mysterious notion.