Mark realizes that only the clearing is going towards the sky. It is a manmade platform that swings on a kind of pivot. He and Alec jump to safety. The circular cutout provides a landing spot for Bergs. Alec and Mark decide to climb down the Berg shaft into the darkness. As they do so, Mark looks up and sees a Berg preparing to land in the hole. Mark loses his balance and crashes into Alec. The chamber closes and darkness sets in. Alec takes out the workpad; they use it to light up their way through the dark passage. Alec says that this is probably a place that was used to protect government officials in the past. They have to wait for a bit before moving because of the Berg that is coming in. They hear the people from the Berg disembark, and follow the voices. Alec and Mark hear the voices talk about the people they caught during the previous night, as well as the mutation of the virus, and the new name of the virus–“the Flare.”
Alec and Mark walk farther down the hallways searching for their friends. The hallways are dark but most of the doors are open, and eerily lit here and there. They come across a bunk room, where a single old man sits on a bed. He is clearly depressed and tired. They talk to him, trying to get information out of him. The old man, revealing his name to be Anton, tells them a lot of general information, but nothing related to their search. Anton seems to just keep talking, and not answering Alec’s or Mark’s direct questions. Anton reveals that he is against his coworkers now. His coworkers are downstairs plotting. His coworkers support searching for an antidote, but Anton knows it is useless. Anton was part of the crew that chose Deedee’s village as a test site, but seeing Deedee alone survive the dart made Anton realize how terrible a thing they had done. Anton falls asleep. Alec urges Mark to sleep as well so that they can be well rested. As Mark sleeps, he dreams of the past again. His flashback picks up when the water began pouring in the tunnels during the sun flares. He and his friends struggle to get away from the water, which is boiling hot. With intense struggle, they all manage to make it to the upper edge of the landing.
Alec and Mark wake up. Alec accidentally left the workpad on, and so it is now out of battery. They explore the winding passages and finally reach the sounds of a meeting. They find Anton’s coworkers meeting in a large auditorium. There are maybe forty or fifty people watching and listening to a man on stage. The man is obviously already half-crazy. The energy in the room is borderline insane. The man, named Bruce, reveals information about this crazy group of people’s plans. They want to walk through a Flat Trans portal to the Post-Flare-Coalition’s headquarters in Alaska, and make the officials there give them a cure for the virus. In his speech he also reveals what made Anton so upset: Bruce and his people gave Deedee, Trina, and Lana back to the crazed cult villagers. As Alec and Mark prepare to leave after gathering information here, Bruce announces that he has spotted Alec and Mark. He says they are spies, and the entire crazy group charges after them. After a chase, the insane group catches Mark and Alec in the dark. They fight through the group and make their way through a door that has a wheel-closing mechanism. Although they spin the wheel tight, they know that the group on the other side can also eventually make their way through.
Alec and Mark find that they are now in the Berg hangar. They decide to try to fly out the remaining Berg. As Alec takes over controls, they hear the hatch opening again. One of Bruce’s people is still coming aboard the Berg. As Mark goes to check it out, he fights off the two original pilots of the Berg, a man and a woman. Mark takes out the woman quickly, but he and the man engage in a long fight. He can hear the man’s insanity in his words; however, Mark feels a rage build up in himself as well. His rage builds up to a very high intensity. As Mark begins to win over the man, he lets this rage take over him. He closes the hatch on the man, torturing the pilot to death. It is only at this moment that Mark realizes what he is doing, and he quickly boots the man out of where he is stuck in the hatch. Mark is terrified by what he has done, realizing that he, too, has the Flare–the symptoms are beginning. As Mark and Alec fly out, one last pursuer swings a hammer in the windshield of the aircraft. To fight the person off, Mark is yanked half out of the Berg. The Flare-infected pursuer hangs on to Mark’s hair, putting him in great agony, but Alec manages to remove the person.
Mark and Alec find a Berg hangar that is a part of an underground hangar, and Mark at this point comments that there are plants on top of the landing spot that opens for the Bergs. He asks Alec why the dirt and plants aren’t sliding off of the ground that has just shifted (153), to which the more experienced Alec tells him that the plants are probably fake. Mark hadn’t even thought of that. Alec says that they are probably “fake as a rubber glove,” a rubber glove being another manmade creation, just like the Berg (ibid.). Mark still thinks that the plants look very lifelike, and marvels at them. In fact, the whole understanding of the plants as fake is indicative of a more important concept in the story: just as the beautiful fake plants decorate the outside of an ugly bunker—with even uglier people and meetings going on inside—so Mark will find out that the government has cloaked ugly things with an embellished outside.
Mark and Alec also overhear the Berg pilots saying that the virus from the darts already has a nickname. Alec, who is more knowledgeable about things like this, remarks that this is not good, because a nickname means that the virus is already a big thing (162). This is almost ironic, because a nickname is usually associated with being a diminutive form, like a pet name. However, when it comes to something like a disease, a nickname means that it is already important enough to even earn a nickname.
As they tiptoe farther into the bunker, Mark “[decides] to be a little braver” (162), and boldly goes up to press his ear up to a door. Alec tells him this is not a good idea. However, slowly but surely Mark is gaining more bravery as he journeys along solo with Alec. Mark still has to learn to be careful, but in the past he probably would not have boldly gone up to the door like that.
When Mark and Alec find Anton in the bunker just a little bit afterwards, Mark again gushes out his many questions to the old man (167). Anton even replies to Mark, immediately: “So many questions.” All of these questions just seem to addle Anton more. Anton is not angry, just confused and overwhelmed. In a sense, Anton displays how the world has really beaten someone down. He is a reflection of what totally giving up looks like. Mark and Alec could have chosen this route as well, but they still have their friends to live for; Anton, in contrast, does not believe he has anything left to live for. This is why hope is so important—as is the presence of loved ones.
Complete inspection of the bunker leads Mark and Alec into being chased by the crazy group led by Bruce. Mark and Alec reach the Berg and are about to fly away when the Berg’s real pilot catches up. Mark can tell that this pilot is also affected by the Flare, but he does not realize that he too has it, until he violently and sadistically kills the pilot. This is one of the most interesting moments of the story, because the narrator delivers the entire ordeal from inside Mark’s mind, describing the rage that rises up from inside Mark. Despite Mark’s sadism and rage during this fight, he is also able to immediately afterwards recognize that he has the Flare—and he is able to accept it, too (209). The rest of the story, readers now know, will be told from the perspective from someone who is slowly going crazy. However, having an omniscient narrator prevents the narration from becoming actually and totally unreliable.