Chapter 7 Summary
Dr. Dmitri Erland, the lead doctor for plague research in New Beijing, sighs with annoyance. His latest plague research subject is a man in his thirties who is only 6.4 percent cybernetic. This is not the sort of subject Dr. Erland is looking for—but he cannot admit that to anyone. He tells his assistant, a young woman whose name he cannot remember, to send the man home. He is too old to be a research subject.
Dr. Erland’s assistant is clearly angry about this. Thirty-two is not old at all, and she thinks Dr. Erland should use the resources he has. The cyborg draft is a good program. After all, cyborgs are not human, and the government pays large sums of money to the families of the subjects who die.
The assistant shakes her head in impatience and her black braid jiggles. Dr. Erland has a sudden hallucination that it is a snake about to bite him. He closes his eyes for a moment, and the “vision” disappears—but he reflects that these hallucinations are worsening. He cannot explain this to anyone, either.
At that moment, another assistant, a man named Li, steps into the room. Li says that a new plague research volunteer has just arrived, a teenage girl from right here in New Beijing. Dr. Erland is obviously thrilled.
Again Dr. Erland's female assistant seems angry. She points out that he keeps releasing male subjects, but he is always thrilled to work on the young females. He is clearly surprised by the conclusion she seems to have drawn about his sexism. He stammers lamely that young subjects are healthier than older ones.
Dr. Erland goes into an observation room and looks through a two-way mirror at the unconscious teenage girl, Cinder, on the examining table. He notes that her right hand and leg are both cybernetic. Neither limb has been covered by skin grafting, so he can see the tarnished metal of the mechanical parts. Li responds that, in spite of their unremarkable appearance, the cyborg technology in Cinder's body is excellent. It has “autocontrol and a four-grade nervous system.”
Dr. Erland asks about the restraints on Cinder's arms and legs. Li explains that Cinder's guardian volunteered her, but that she did not want to come. She fought the med-droids, who shocked her with 200 volts of electricity. Dr. Erland seems unfazed by this news. He says that she does not need to be conscious for them to begin their work.