By the time Velvet's mother became one of the "Connies," the government had learned to treat the sickness with an electro-shock collar connected directly to the brain. Connies then became docile enough to be returned to their families. In a moment of desperation as her mother's collar went into "Mercy Mode," an extreme electrical shock capable of killing the wearer, Velvet managed to remove it. Rather than the immediate death the government claimed would occur if the contraption was removed, her mother's condition miraculously improved. For several months, Velvet has been caring for her family in their old house well outside of town with her mother, little sister, a neighbor, and boyfriend Dillion, whom she recently married to get better rations and medical supplies. While it has been difficult, they have been able to get by, but the fear caused by the recent outbreak may soon make it impossible.