Next Chapter - Interlude 2
During the first night of the cruise, a small ship stealthily approaches Entrance. An individual in a black diving suit swims up to Entrance and climbs up the side by using suction cups. On the balcony outside a room, he uses a winch to lift a container from the water. The cabin's occupant comes out and says that the individual, Life, scared him. Life replies in a mechanical tone of voice that he arrived on time, and was expecting someone on the balcony. The businessman says it would be suspicious to wait on the balcony; Life notes that fifteen rooms surrounding that one are occupied by their associates. The businessman retorts that Death was the strongest of them, to which Life agrees. He says the mission has little chance of success. The businessman says the Four Agonies just have to follow orders, and asks if the goods are there. Inside the cases are numerous firearms and grenades, and even an RPG. The businessman assures Life that the passengers won't have weapons, and that causing devastation should be fun like in movies. He leaves, and Life opens a container full of white Italian carnival masks.
Firo is amazed at the luxury of the Entrance, with so many quality restaurants, stores, and leisure facilities that the ship resembles a floating city. He decides to visit the casino while Ennis visits a beauty salon, and is impressed by the opulence. The casino is filled with rich patrons who aren't concerned about losing money. He decides to try his luck.
On the deck, Carnea, Bobby, and his gang are wondering how to find Firo on the huge ship. They ask Carnea who she is; she says she is looking for a man who is like a father to her so that she can stop him. Before she can explain, the group finds "Firo's little brother." They decide to follow him, in hopes that he will lead them to Firo.
Two hours after entering the casino, Firo has earned around a hundred thousand dollars by winning against inexperienced gamblers. Suddenly, Angelo takes a seat beside him and asks for a match. Firo recognizes that the man is likely not a law-abiding citizen, but stays polite. Angelo shuffles a deck of cards, slipping one from his sleeve in a way that Firo will see but nobody else can. Recognizing the skill, Firo shuffles with equal skill and returns the card. The two play a game of blackjack, which Angelo throws. Angelo introduces himself, and invites Firo to his cabin. Firo realizes that this was the intention all along. He considers whether Angelo is a threat from the past, but decides to visit out of curiosity and worry that brushing the man off will lead him to bringing trouble to Ennis and Czeslaw.In the movie theater, Illness reflects on her past. She believes herself to be sick and abnormal as a human being. She was born into a cult that worshipped pain, and her parents 'created' her for that purpose. Her body had countless scars from her flesh ripped out. Her parents told her that she wasn't doing anything wrong, while continuing to brutalize her. They lived in a manor in a forest. As she screamed, the people around her just kept praying in worship of those screams. Illness never asked for help, as she didn't know what it meant to be helped, to live in a world where she wasn't ritually tortured. Once, she was ordered to kill a girl her age who had been her friend for a year. The girl was rescued, and allowed to avenge herself on a tied-down Illness. She hadn't known any other life until she turned nine, when several slightly older children snuck into the manor. She became friends with them; they told her that she was strange, that they could never forgive the adults around her, and that they would try to save her. They were caught by the adults and killed, for which Illness blames herself. Even after a boy was offered to have his life spared if he gouged out Illness' eyes, he refused. Illnesses' parents realized that they needed to expose her to the world to increase the mental pain. A year later, her parents were killed by the Mask Makers, mercenaries hired by the father of the boy who refused to kill her. The Mask Makers were going to kill her, but when she asked "Am I a person? Or a God?", a Mask Maker decided to bring her out. They allowed her to stay with them on the condition that she kill people for them. Illness considers herself sick because of her belief that normal humans would not kill others out of fear for their own lives.
The seven theaters in the ship are showing films Claudia had starred in. Illness was watching a B-movie, "Attack of the Killer Edison". Despite its low quality, Claudia's performance in the film was excellent, and watching it brings Illness to tears. When the theater is mostly empty, someone asks her if she's okay. It is Czeslaw, who confirms that she's not immortal. His question about why she's crying makes her think of Claudia telling Illness "You must be a good person!" Illness, worried that Claudia would be hurt by the hijacking, told Claudia to get off the ship, or at least keep herself safe. Claudia wondered if Illness was a "good person or a bad person," and asked if Illness was planning to do something to the ship. Illness, unnerved by the question, accidentally admits that she has killed people and thus is a bad person. She is terrified that Claudia will spurn her as abnormal, only to be surprised when Claudia accepts this, saying she likes honest people and that she appreciates Illness' concern for her. Claudia states that even if the world rejects Illness, Claudia will accept her. Illness thinks of how this is the first time anyone has said something like this to her. Illness watched three films in which Claudia appeared, each showing a different side of her. No matter what, Claudia seemed blessed by the world. Illness was crying, whether because she had been accepted by such a talented person or self-pity at not being such a person. Czeslaw tries to cheer her up, offering to take her to her room. Illness laughs that Czeslaw has years to go before picking up girls. Czeslaw jokes he can try again in a century.
Czeslaw and Illness are walking to her room, when both independently realize they are being followed. Czeslaw again reflects on the similarity with the Flying Pussyfoot. Illness suddenly stops and identifies the followers as four boys and a girl and says she'll catch them. She launches off the ground, jumps off the handrail, and from there to the top of the stairs, seemingly running along the wall. Czeslaw thinks that a normal human can't do this, though he remembers individuals who could. Illness continues to jump off the walls and ceiling, as if trying to avoid gunfire. While he thinks of her similarity to the Rail Tracer, she tells him she got three of them.
Angelo and Firo reach the former's cabin. He receives a call from Demolisher; Angelo speaks innocuous phrases that tell Demolisher that a visitor is there. Demolisher says that he left a gun in the cabin. Angelo lies that the man is an uncle and offers Firo a drink. As they sit, Angelo asks if Firo has heard the term "Mask Maker." Firo is about to say that he doesn't, but memories awaken in his mind. It isn't from his life, or from Szilard, but from Gretto, whom Szilard had devoured. Further memories appear, these from Lebreau. Firo has resolved not to think of this person's memories. He is snapped to reality by Angelo drawing a gun, who judged by the expressions on Firo's face that he knows about the Mask Makers. Angelo demands answers about the Mask Makers, Firo's boss, and the person who ordered the death of Angelo's boss.
Falk Corner, the captain of Entrance, enters the bridge in response to a summons, and is promptly put under gunpoint. A dozen armed businessmen with masks are on the bridge, with one pointing a gun at the first mate. A businessman tells Falk that the businessmen have taken over the communications room, preventing anyone from sending an SOS, and that they have not told any of the passengers of the hijacking to avoid having a special operative who happened to be aboard become a hero and stop them. The business explains that they have filled the air ducts and ventilation system with remote controlled canisters of a potentially lethal gas. Falk asks what their demands are; the businessman admits money is a factor, along with a grudge from their boss. Falk says the cruise liner company won't give in so easily, to which the businessman says that they aren't planning on contacting the company. He reveals the extent of the plan: they have also taken over the sister ship Exit, reasoning that any individual hero can only be on one ship.Ennis returns to her cabin from the beauty salon. She was curious about how the beauticians would react to her skin, and was relieved that they didn't notice it wasn't human, although she doesn't know if the treatment makes her skin look strange. Firo enters the cabin, with bullet holes in his clothes. Firo doesn't say what happened beyond that a misunderstanding occurred. Czeslaw calls to say that he'll be staying elsewhere that night. Firo, remembering Czeslaw's innuendo, turns red and hyperventilates in shock. Ennis is concerned, but Firo calms himself down, and notices her skin, which makes her go red. Firo thinks of how cute her appearance is, and the two go to sleep happily.
Jean Claude Van Damme
Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit