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Chapter 21 Summary

As Book Three of Cinder begins, Cinder sits in her workshop worrying. Life at home is as hard as ever and her car is not yet ready to go. She hopes it will be ready in time for her to leave town on the night of the ball, when Adri and Pearl will be distracted—at least until morning.

The thought of the ball makes Cinder’s mind leap to Prince Kai. She knows that she was right to refuse to attend the ball with him, but she cannot help wishing she could have said yes. Life would certainly be easier if she were not a cyborg—and Lunar.

By now Cinder has accepted that she is Lunar, and she sees it as more reason than ever to run away. If anyone found out, Cinder would almost certainly be handed over to the authorities immediately. Idly, Cinder wonders what Adri's husband knew about her. Unfortunately, there is no way to answer such a question.

Cinder decides to distract herself with work, and she finally begins the repairs on Nainsi, Prince Kai’s android. While Cinder is working, Iko arrives wearing lipstick and a strand of Adri’s pearls. Iko explains that she has been imagining the ball. Cinder laughs, grateful as always to have such an unusually emotive android.

As Cinder continues examining the prince’s android, Iko notices something odd. Plugged into one of the many ports inside Nainsi's body is a chip made of an unfamiliar black shimmering material. Cinder examines it and figures out that it is a direct communication chip—a device that allows people to communicate without a net interface. Cinder wonders why anyone would want to use such an odd, archaic device in an android. She plugs the chip into a broken netscreen and tries to initiate communication, but nobody responds.

Suddenly, Nainsi switches herself back on. She immediately begins reciting a report about the possible whereabouts of the Lunar heir, Princess Selene. Cinder comprehends immediately that this is top-secret information not meant for her ears, so she orders Nainsi to stop speaking at once.

Nainsi scans her surroundings, then demands to know what is happening. Cinder explains about the odd communication chip, which apparently caused Nainsi to stop working. Nainsi has no memory of the installation of the chip, nor of the person to whom she was speaking at the time of her system’s crash. Cinder hopes that Nainsi was not forced to communicate with any of the prince’s enemies. She decides to return the android to the palace immediately.