Cia leaves the box and begins searching for the highest point in Chicago. She sees a spire and walks towards it, hoping that Tomas saw the same spire from his starting location. After a few hours without Tomas appearing, Cia explores her surrounding areas. She finds another candidate box and goes inside. As she is about to leave, she hears someone outside. She makes a run for it, hoping that the person outside will recognize her and call out. Instead, she is met with whizzing arrows from a crossbow. Cia pulls out her gun and starts shooting and hears a male voice curse.
Cia begins thinking about who the shooter could be, and she believes that only someone cold and calculating like Roman would be capable of killing another candidate in cold blood. She tries to exit the area again, careful to stay clear of the crossbow. When she reaches a river and tries to cross, though, arrows whiz by. She falls and manages to grab at the bank’s ledge when a hand reaches over and grabs her own.
The hand pulls her up, and she sees that Tomas has just saved her. They compare supplies, and Tomas mentions that he tried to grab things that Cia would not have grabbed: a tool kit, a detailed map, and a knife. They walk and then set up camp for the night. The next day, they strategize about their trip and find plants to eat with their breakfast. They know they need more water, though, so they set out in search of a lake or river.
Cia and Tomas come across a strange green oasis in the middle of the desolate nuclear wasteland. Tomas is excited to see life, but Cia is disturbed by how perfect and pristine the area looks. In her opinion, it is a test to see if the candidates would fall for such an easy trick. She asks Tomas to wait before setting foot on the grass so she can see if there are any other options. At the top of a hill, she sees a small river before feeling the earth shudder violently.
Cia runs down the hill and to the oasis, which has exploded into nothing but a gaping hole in the ground. Tomas lies unconscious nearby, a gaping wound in his side. Cia wakes him, and digs into her medical kit for antibiotics to stave off infection.
She thinks about sewing Tomas' skin back together, but the wound is too large. Instead, she comes up with a painful solution. She heats the hunting knife and uses it to cauterize the wound - to cleanse the area and burn the skin back together. Tomas is weak, but he manages to kiss Cia in gratitude. The two then walk slowly to the nearby river so Cia can test and purify the water to refill their supply.
The two candidates get back on track and travel a number of miles in a few days before coming upon a small cluster of houses. They look inside and find a few bicycles that are in need of repair. They are overjoyed that they no longer have to travel by foot the entire way.
As Cia spends time later that night thinking about how to best repair the bicycles, she and Tomas begin kissing again. However, in the middle of their kiss, they hear a girl’s scream nearby.
Cia’s crossbow killer is a mystery to her, though she believes that the person trying to kill her is Roman. After all, he has had an ulterior motive from the beginning in trying to get his fellow contestants eliminated.
Regardless of the killer’s identity, though, this is the type of person who Cia’s father and Michel warned her about from the beginning. These candidates believe that getting rid of their competition betters their chances of attending University, so they do whatever they believe is necessary to survive. Now, in this survival-type scenario, many candidates’ true natures will shine through.
In Cia’s case, she does not want to cross the line of killing. When she fires her pistol in the direction of the arrows, her intention is not to hurt her attacker, but to scare him or her off. In her mind, cooperation is the best way to make it back to the finish line. That is why it is so important for Cia to find Tomas. Though she knows she could make it alone, she would rather have the companionship, company, and support from someone she knows and trusts.
When choosing her supplies, though, Cia does not include Tomas in her plan. She is only thinking about herself and what she will need in order to survive in case she must make the journey alone. Her choices are indicative of the person she has become - methodically prepared and logical, yet cognizant of the stakes. Cia chooses the gun in addition to the water and medical kits because she heeds her father's warning. Cia has witnessed death first-hand, as well as duplicity. Even though she would never harm someone to get ahead, she knows she must protect herself. Any emotional or moral reasons are cast aside in the face of realism; she may not disagree with the way others play the game, but she will not let herself be prey. Tomas is somewhat disappointed in her choice, as he feels she no longer trusts people with her whole heart.
Tomas' choices were made under his assumption of making the trip with Cia. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative. Positively, it means that he trusts Cia and her judgment. He wants to be with her and knows that she will make smart choices for survival. On the other hand, though, Tomas’ choices are not strategically sound. Walking hundreds of miles would be incredibly difficult with just a map, a knife, and a tool kit.
Furthermore, Tomas can be a hindrance to Cia. Cia knew the oasis was too good to be true, but Tomas was so excited at an easy water source that he set aside logic and instinct. For that, he nearly died. Now it is up to Cia to keep Tomas healthy. She is using her resources to keep him lucid and free from infection, and they are moving at a slower rate than if she were on her own. Cia's transformation into a more calculating person may save them both.