The Butler, At the Helm (その執事、 運航, Sono Shitsuji, Unkō) is Chapter 52 of the Kuroshitsuji manga.
On the first class passenger deck, Elizabeth Midford, in tears, hugs Ciel Phantomhive joyfully. She is ecstatic that he has decided to partake in the voyage, despite his refusal to earlier. Francis snaps at Elizabeth, scolding her for displaying indecent behavior publicly. Alexis Leon, Elizabeth's father, and Edward, her older brother, are there as well. Edward agrees with his mother before losing his composure and yelling at Ciel, telling him he still has not acknowledged him as his brother-in-law yet, so he should get off of Elizabeth. Ciel sighs and asks Edward why he is still saying that before being distracted by Alexis' intense and prominent stare. Abruptly, he hugs Ciel tightly, greeting him as his future son-in-law while noting he is still as cute as ever.
Ciel then eats with the Midford family. Sebastian and Snake have their hair combed back by Francis. Elizabeth asks Ciel to escort her to the dinner party, and he agrees. Edward glares at Ciel, infuriated since he was the one supposed to escort Elizabeth.
Three days later, Elizabeth and Ciel are in the passenger lounge where Elizabeth prompts that she will get some cake for Ciel and runs off without his confirmation of wanting any. Ciel is dejected, complaining that nobles do not do anything important, but socially gather to talk about irrelevant things, feeling stupid for having abandoned his work to come here. Sebastian serves him a plate of food and foreshadows that "it's tonight". Ciel says that the signal of the opening of the Aurora Society's meeting is a waiter walking around the hall, carrying empty glasses that the attendees would take and go to the meeting place. Ciel warns Sebastian not to overlook the signal as some nobles disparage Snake of his anomalous skin, stating that the place is turning into a freak show.
Snake tells Ciel that people would laugh at him for being together with Snake since he looks different from everyone else. Ciel asks what of it and says that, of course, Snake would look different since he is another person so he should not be ashamed. Ciel then adds that he is free to be with whomever he wants and no one can tell him otherwise. Sebastian agrees and pats Snake's shoulder, reminding him that he is now a footman of a distinguished noble family, so he should be more confident in himself.
Ciel and Sebastian notice the signal after a man takes an empty glass and begins to walk upstairs. Ciel thrusts his unfinished plate towards Snake and tells him to clean up, following Sebastian in his pursuit of the man. Snake stares at the plate in his hands blankly before taking a bite and noting that it tastes delectable.
Ciel and Sebastian approach the first-class smoking room after disguising themselves. The man from earlier has to pay an extravagant price for a glass of water to show that he is qualified enough to enter. Sebastian says that, in order to be permitted into the Aurora Society, they must also know the fixed greeting. Ciel scolds him for not saying this sooner and asks what the greeting is. Sebastian whispers it into his ear and Ciel becomes shocked and horrified.
Sebastian pays for the expensive glass of water and they both enter the room. An aged man approaches them and inquires if they are first-timers. Ciel begins to recite the greeting and, much to his reluctance, declares he is a Phoenix and poses as one along with Sebastian, with their arms raised and left legs up and tucked. Ciel is embarrassed and starts to doubt that this is the correct greeting, but the man responds, posing as a Phoenix as well, welcoming them to Aurora Society, while giving them their membership badges. While Ciel is in his state of mortification, vowing he will never do that again, Undertaker appears and laughs at Ciel.
Sebastian questions why the Undertaker is here and he says it is his job and that the hospital is his regular customer. Ciel informs him that they are investigating the illegal human experimentation said to be going on in the Aurora Society, asking the Undertaker if he knows anything relevant to the case of reviving the dead. The Undertaker asks Ciel to repeat the Phoenix pose as compensation for his information. As Ciel protests, Aleistor Chamber walks over to them. Ciel, still traumatized and disgusted with him since the Jack the Ripper incident, hides behind Sebastian as he and Aleistor exchange a light conversation. Aleistor asks if he has met Ciel somewhere before, to which Ciel strongly claims the negative. Aleistor then proceeds to note how pitiful it is for Ciel to have a bandage on one of his beautiful eyes. Ciel notices the Undertaker is missing, but before he could delve deeper, Aleistor exclaims the show is starting.
Aleistor identifies Rian Stoker as the founder, while four men bring in a coffin and set it down ostentatiously on a table. Rian recites the greeting and poses as a Phoenix before saluting the audience. He thanks them for coming to his research presentation of the Aurora Society's "complete salvation of mankind through medicine". He then vivaciously explains how marvelous health, i.e. salvation is.
Rian then states that there is a horrendous kind of health issue that is inevitable, which he defines as death. He claims that the one thing that would save them all from the imminent catastrophe is the Aurora Society's medicine. The coffin is lifted and Rian identified the corpse as Margaret Connor, a seventeen-year-old girl. Rian experiments the artificial medicine on the corpse. The corpse begins rising from the coffin and Margaret's parents rush in to embrace her out of happiness.
Margaret, however, suddenly opens her mouth widely and bites into her mother's neck viciously. The crowd screams and runs in terror, realizing the newfound peril. Ciel and Sebastian remove their disguises, and Sebastian deftly throws knives at Margaret in order to stop her terrorizing. Despite stabbing her through the heart, she still continues to move and attack.
Characters in Order of Appearance
- Elizabeth Midford
- Sebastian Michaelis
- Ciel Phantomhive
- Francis Midford
- Alexis Leon Midford
- Edward Midford
- Ronald Knox
- Sophie Smith
- Aleistor Chamber
- Rian Stoker
- Margaret Connor
- Susannah Connor