Chapter 9: Xander
It has now been several weeks since the Rising took over. Xander administers the plague cure to a conscious man, promising him that he’s not dying when the man asks. He then heads to the conference room to welcome new Rising recruits to the medical center. Along the way, Official Lei approaches him and asks him to vouch for her. All Rising members are permitted to vouch for three non-Rising citizens who want to join the cause, a responsibility that requires care, as vouching for a traitor warrants an investigation. He agrees to vouch for her.
Xander addresses a large group of medically trained volunteers, welcoming them to the Rising. A woman calls out, wondering why the Rising didn’t immunize everyone before they contracted the plague. Xander explains that the Rising’s limited resources and the desire not to vaccinate people against their will was the reason, though vaccinating infants was deemed necessary. He reminds the group that they are there to help, not hurt, the Rising, and then explains the steps of protocol and administering the cure. He warns against an averse reaction to it that causes the patient to temporarily stop breathing, requiring intubation. He explains that the cure takes only a little over a week to fully heal a patient. He concludes his speech by welcoming everyone to the Rising again.
That night, in the sleeproom, Xander thinks of the people in his life who may or may not be in the Rising; his brother Tannen, Ky, Cassia. He recalls being tempted to leave the Rising when he and Cassia were Matched, though this changed when he realized that Cassia would only truly love him if the Society made her, which he didn’t want. When Ky was taken from their borough and she planned to go after him, he traded his silver box for a paper with his information on it, which he hid in pieces in the blue tablets. Coming by the tablets, he hints, was much harder.
Chapter 10: Cassia
Cassia heads to the Museum to make a trade. She’s now been immunized against the plague, and reflects on having more freedom and awareness about the Rising, though less certainty about the future. Matches too young to celebrate a Contract (a Society marriage, which happens at age 21) have been freed from their pairings. Cassia’s spoken with her family; both her parents and Bram are now immune, though Bram had initially contracted the plague. She hasn’t seen Xander, though she guesses his secret is that he’s in the Rising. She’s sent a message to him and Ky that she’s alright. She’s not yet received her two traded items in transit. She remembers that on the microcard detailing his life, her grandfather’s favorite memory with her was “the red garden day” (p. 118).
A woman meets Cassia outside the Museum to trade. The two notice a letter E written in the ground, which excites Cassia, though the woman doesn’t understand how someone could’ve written it. She offers Cassia a red-stone ring in exchange for green tablets to ease her son’s anxiety about the plague. All tablets have been taken away and the lack of green has troubled some. Cassia thinks of her mother lulling her to sleep with lovely descriptions of flowers. She advises the woman to try singing to her son before resorting to tablets. The woman likes the idea, but doesn’t know what words to use. Cassia writes down three couplets for her, and when the woman hesitates to take it, Cassia insists that it’s a gift, not a trade (this, she decides, is the best way to share art). She promises to get the woman green tablets if the song doesn’t work.
Cassia then heads to the Archivists’ hiding place, where she takes some paper from her secure box and confers with the head Archivist, telling the Archivist that her poem and grandfather’s microcard haven’t yet arrived. She goes to a nearby greenspace, writes the words “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” onto many slips of paper, and hangs them all from a tree. She likens the movements she makes as she does to dancing.
Chapter 11: Ky
Ky, Indie, and their squadron walk along a river through Camas. Many like to jump into it, including Indie, but Ky doesn’t “trust the water anymore” after Vick’s death (p. 130). Ky observes the barricade behind which the medics are forced to remain, knowing that Xander is stuck there. The lack of news from Cassia since the Rising broke out is driving Ky crazy.
A trader walking the other way swiftly hands him a message, apologizing for being “late” (p. 132). Indie asks why Ky didn’t take a tube from the Cavern. Ky says he didn’t need one. Indie then jumps in the river. Ky thinks about how beautiful she is, but still wishes Cassia were there. He reprimands himself for always thinking of Cassia when looking at Indie, reminding himself he can love both, in different ways. One of their squad members, a pilot named Connor, teases Indie about never being allowed to fly alone, and about her about wanting to be the Pilot someday. Indie agrees that she does, and accuses Connor of caring too much for how his flying looks to be good enough to be the Pilot. Connor leaves, put off.
Indie asks Ky who he’d bring back from the dead, given the choice. He thinks bringing people back is impossible, but Indie disagrees. Connor comes along and pushes Ky into the river. He attempts to keep Cassia’s message above the water, but its bottom gets wet. Later, he reads it and learns that she’s fine. She mentions the onset of spring, which has since come, indicating that the letter was written weeks ago. Below the end of her letter, she’s used a unique code to write a second message for Ky to deliver to Xander. Indie comes along, and Ky asks her if she took a tube from the Cavern. She confirms that she did, but that it was lost when she and Cassia capsized in the river. She doesn’t reveal whose tube it was. She has the idea to get Cassia’s message to Xander during one of their cure deliveries.
Chapter 12: Xander
Xander and the other physics watch a Rising ship land inside the wall to deliver cures. Ky comes in and hands Xander one of the cases. They have only a moment to converse. Ky slips him Cassia’s message. Indie momentarily introduces herself to Xander before she and Ky exit.
Xander recalls being around thirteen and waiting near Cassia’s house with Ky for her to come home. Their small talk gave away that they both loved her. Xander always wondered what happened to Matthew Markham, the boy before Ky. A night not long after Matthew’s death, his father went walking around the neighborhood in his sleepclothes, guiltily mumbling about his son’s death being his doing. Xander’s father talked him back inside. Xander doesn’t think Matthew’s father killed him, but suspects there’s more to the story.
Xander reads Cassia’s paper when his shift ends, wishing he knew how to write like her. The message says that Cassia’s fine and explains the true purpose of the blue tablets. Xander is shocked, especially that the Rising didn’t tell him. The message also explains that Cassia’s in the Rising and knows that Xander is, too. She begins to explain, “I love you, and I always will, but—“ and then the message cuts off where it got wet (p. 151). Xander is angry that it stops at such a crucial point and hopes it isn’t because Ky’s playing dirty.
Lei approaches Xander and asks about the red mark that infected patients get on their backs. Ky explains that it’s a small nerve infection indicating that they had or have the virus. She wonders if he’s seen variations of it, which he hasn’t, really. They share a moment of missing their respective Matches, and then a more tender one when Lei puts her hand on Xander’s face and likens his eyes to her Match’s.
Chapter 13: Cassia
A young girl, the daughter of the woman for whom Cassia wrote the original song, approaches Cassia outside the Museum and offers her a handmade green and brown bird. Its feathers are fashioned from a square of fabric that was part of the girl's green Matching Banquet dress, just like the one Cassia had. Cassia is amazed that she is not the only one writing and creating. She thinks the bird is too beautiful to keep for herself. The girl felt the same way about Cassia’s song. Cassia proposes a place where people can come and appreciate each other’s creations. The girl, who introduces herself as Dalton Fuller, knows the perfect spot: a marsh near the lake where sections of the white barricade are being taken as the plague wanes and the stillzone becomes smaller. Cassia thinks they can put art on the walls and build shelves for sculptures. Those who know how to sing could do so for others there. Cassia decides that this is something she has to do, thinking that her grandfather would understand.
Part 2, Chapters 9-13 Analysis
Part 2 gives the reader their first look at a Society that’s been more or less entirely usurped by the Rising. Cassia observes that citizens have more freedom now, being able to go to previously unapproved places at unapproved times. She also notes that they have more knowledge of the Rising and the cure. These gains stand in stark contrast to the rigid authority and ignorance on which the Society once relied for order. However, the changes have not all been immediately positive. Citizens are prohibited from traveling while the plague is still a danger to avoid spreading it, and there’s a general sense of uncertainty in the Provinces about what will happen next. This uncertainty is felt equally by the citizens and the reader, none of whom are made fully aware of the Rising’s longterm plans and intentions.
Part 2 gives us yet more insight into Xander’s mind, particularly his feelings about his Match to Cassia and his memories of Matthew Markham’s father after Matthew's death. Xander reveals a crucial truth about his Matching to Cassia that she herself has mentioned in the past: that their love is a direct order by the Society. To fully accept it and be romantic partners would be to acquiesce to the Society’s desires, something that Xander knew Cassia would never do once she lost her faith in the Society’s infallibility. Xander’s recollection of Patrick Markham’s guilt additionally hints that there is more to the story of Matthew’s death than we’ve yet been privy to, foreshadowing a potentially more shocking truth to be revealed.
In Chapter 11, we begin to see a new side to Ky and Indie’s relationship. In the past, even as far back as Crossed, Ky has thought of Indie as very beautiful, despite their being seemingly constantly at odds. This love is acknowledged for the first time in Chapter 11 when Ky reminds himself that it’s okay to love Indie and Cassia in different ways, especially since he longs for the latter far more. This chapter also demonstrates more ways in which they stand in opposition: Ky accepts the finality of death, whereas Indie wants to believe that people can be brought back, a testament to Ky’s hardened acceptance of things that are and Indie’s contrasting optimism about what could be.
Part 2 also marks the first moment when Cassia (and the reader) see that Cassia is not alone in wanting to create original things. Not being able to create has been a point of frustration for her since Matched, when Cassia writes a letter to her dying grandfather using words that are not her own, and when Ky later begins to teach her to write, a key element in the development of their relationship. There is certainly going to be some initial hesitation and confusion in creating new things, as we see when the woman with the ring fails to understand handwriting, but the desire to try is evident, especially as the woman goes on to admit that she “has [always had] music in [her]” (p. 122), as well as when Dalton creates the bird for Cassia.