Cia walks into a room to see Tomas Endress, Malachi Rourke, and Zandori Hicks (three of her classmates). There is also a man that Cia does not recognize. The man introduces himself as an official from Tosu City, and that Cia has been chosen for The Testing.
While Cia is packing for The Testing, her father advises her to bring survival items (sturdy outfits, boots, a pocket knife, and a tool from her brother.) Her father has been to The Testing, but has little recollection from it. What he does remember he shares with Cia. This inside knowledge helps Cia a lot.
Cia is given a tracking bracelet and is loaded onto a train with the other candidates. Cia and Tomas spark a conversation and have an instant connection. Cia warns Tomas to keep his eyes open and to only trust each other.
Tomas finds an oasis, but Cia warns him it is too good to be true. Tomas ignores Cia and the oasis explodes. Tomas is severely injured, but Cia heals him by sealing the wound with a heated knife. Tomas thanks Cia with a kiss.
Cia and Tomas find a female candidate dead via crossbow. They notice that she is wearing her bracelet. Cia removes it in solidarity but finds a microphone hidden within the bracelet. This is a turning point, as Tomas and Cia now know with certainty that they are being watched.
After Cia survives The Testing, and had her memory wiped, she receives a birthday gift from her family. Inside the gift are flowers, cards, and a pot. Zeen (Cia's brother) mentions in his card that he wants his tool that he lent her for The Testing back. Cia finds it in her room and notices a small engraving on the back. she manages to start a recording from her past self, revealing all of her memories of The Testing before they were wiped.