The title of Chapter 007 is "Encounter."
Characters in order of Appearance
As Ennis drives Szilard Quates to his destination, she wistfully thinks on how wonderful it would be to lack a reason to exist—since without one she would be able to live her entire life for herself alone.
Szilard informs her if that the "liquor" has truly been completed they will dispose of those "useless fools," by which he means his elderly followers. Ennis acknowledges him before silently reaffirming that she is Szilard's tool; her reason to exist has been the same since her birth and will be until her death.
The pair arrive at their hidden underground meeting room, where Szilard's group of aging sponsors has gathered in anticipation for his arrival. The men greet him as he descends the stairs, and one of them calls out that it has been a long time since they last saw him. Szilard indifferently remarks that twenty years is not long at all, and the man leading him down the stairs notes that time passes differently for him than it does for them.
Szilard surveys the room and observes that Barnes and Stagen Heim are absent. The men inform him that Barnes is at the distillery, and that Stagen passed away the year before. Szilard is not surprised; the men have drunk the incomplete elixir, and as such are still susceptible to death by old age. Or at least, they have been thus far; Szilard thus announces that the liquor is complete. The men are overjoyed, but temper themselves when Szilard asks whether it is true that the blender responsible has died.
The man from the stairs sorrowfully explains that the blender was stabbed yesterday by a robber. Police superintendent Veld chimes in that the robber has just been arrested (by Edward Noah, per Chapter 006), and that he was not connected to any organization. Szilard muses that he should have given the blender the incomplete elixir, but another sponsor objects that the elixir would have been wasted on such a man—as opposed to the men in this room, the chosen few.
Szilard seems amused at the idea of the sponsor "giving orders" to him and, after the sponsor apologizes, supposes they will just have to find another blender. While Szilard asks if Barnes is keeping the elixir safe. Ennis thinks to herself that Szilard is a completely impartial man. Race, age, gender, ideology, she has concluded, mean nothing to him.
Szilard orders Ennis to fetch Barnes and the liquor, and to kill Barnes if he has drunk so much as a drop or otherwise failed to properly preserve it. Ennis continues musing that to Szilard, everyone is a disposable tool. Herself, and the sponsors too are all the same before him. Unless they die, they will always be under threat. One of the sponsors eyes Szilard and thinks to himself that even if they are granted true immortality, they will never be able to escape the man before them.
Szilard notices the grim looks of the men, and advises them to relax and enjoy their meal.
The scene transitions to the back exterior of the aforementioned storehouse, where Martillo Family executives Randy and Pezzo chat about the upcoming promotion party for Firo Prochainezo—their newly purchased cans of oil in a paper bag in front of them). Randy reminisces about how Firo's suit was two sizes too big for him when he first joined the Martillos around age thirteen. Excited for their fellow camorrista, they plan to 'raise the roof' at the party tonight with a good party trick or two.
Randy has a party trick in mind, and he smears oil on his leather glove, strikes a match, and sets his glove alight. Pezzo is alarmed, but Randy calmly says that everything is fine before extinguishing the flame by pressing his hand against the storehouse wall. Impressed, Pezzo opens another can of oil and douses his own glove-covered hand in the liquid. Randy realizes in horror that Pezzo's glove is made of cloth just as Pezzo sets his glove on fire.
Pezzo nervously observes that there is a lot more fire on his hand then there was on Randy's, presses his hand to the wall, and panics when the flame does not go out. Randy attempts to calm him down; Pezzo kicks over the opened oil can in his frenzy, spilling the oil. Pezzo manages to rip the glove off, tossing it to the side so that he and Randy can examine his singed hands. The two laugh in relief, only to trail off when they realize that Pezzo has set the pile of crates ablaze.
Pezzo snatches up the bag of oil cans. Randy checks the street for passersby, and they scarper off as fast as they possibly can.
Inside the storehouse, Barnes smashes a mallet down against a rat that he has tied to the counter, splitting its gut open. The blood slowly trickles back to the rat, and Barnes talks to himself in satisfaction over how the rat has not grown since he gave it the liquor, and how it has healed every time it has been harmed. Things have gone to plan, and a miracle is within their grasp—although, he did not expect the blender to be killed by a brigand. Perhaps the large reward had gone to his head.
Hearing a knocking sort of sound at the trapdoor in the ceiling, Barnes takes two lone bottles on the table and ascends the stairs, assuming his comrades have come for him. He wonders what "Master Szilard" will think of the finished product. When he opens the trapdoor, he is stunned to see the room aflame.
Outside the building, a street or so away, Firo sees smoke billow out from the top of the storehouse. He calls Maiza over to look, and they stare at the fire for a moment before Firo (holding a paper bag of bootleg liquor) walks off in the direction of the fire to get a better look at it. Maiza (clutching his own bag) urges him not to rubberneck—what if the police come? Firo assures him he is not that clumsy as he turns the corner, and Maiza sighs and mutters that they had just run into Edward after all. Heading off, he worries about the consequences should the police find the bootleg liquor they'd just bought.
At the scene of the fire, Firo stands with a crowd of onlookers to watch as the fire spreads. A car screeches to a halt near him, and a woman in a business suit (Ennis) steps out. She emits a sound of dismay at the sight of the fire, and pushes through the crowd to get closer to the scene. Firo notes her odd clothing, and wonders if the building was her home considering how shocked she was. Realizing that she might be planning to head into the inferno, Firo starts pushing his way through the crowd as well.
Ennis is indeed intending to do just that—she must make sure that the finished product is all right, since it is her job to transport it and Barnes to Szilard. Breaking through the crowd, she rushes forward to the open door—only for Firo to grab her hand with his own free hand, stopping her. In the next moment, a gigantic beam crashes in front of the door. He asks if she was really just going to go charge in there, and she turns to look at him. Struck by her beauty, he quickly withdraws his hand and admonishes her - she should not just run into fires like that.
"Why not?" She replies. Firo begins to answer "if you scarred up your pretty face..." only to gasp and cut himself off out of fear of it sounding like a pick up line. As he stammers an apology, Ennis' mind is focused on securing the finished product. She internally considers that her behavior probably does seem rash to an outsider, which is not exactly desirable. She had not been thinking.
She heads off down a side street rather than taking her automobile, much to Firo's confusion. He considers his hand—the one he had grabbed her with—as he clutches the bag of liquor to his chest.
Out of sight, Ennis starts running down the alley to look for Barnes.
- This chapter marks the first time that Superintendent Veld has been illustrated.
- What are the old men to Szilard?
- What plans does Szilard have for the completed elixir?
- Did Barnes survive? If so, where did he go?
- What became of Isaac and Miria?
- From Yen Press.