As the chapter opens, Mr. Creedy stands over the Leader in a hospital. A doctor tells Creedy that it was pointless even trying to save the Leader’s life: half his head had been blown off. The entire Norsefire government is in chaos following the Leader’s death. Helen Heyer rushes into the hospital and asks Conrad what’s going on. Before Conrad can answer, Mr. Creedy makes an announcement to the hospital, where many party officials have gathered: following the Leader’s death, authority over the country will “naturally” pass to the Finger, headed by Creedy himself.
The name of this chapter is “vultures,” and the name sets the appropriate tone for the aftermath of a political assassination. The Norsefire Leader is dead, and the remaining government officials, such as Peter Creedy and Conrad Heyer, seek to claim the vulnerable state for themselves. They can’t see the plain truth, however—they’re fighting over something that’s already dead, thanks to V’s actions.
Creedy’s first order of business as head of the new government, he explains, will be to track down V, who no doubt is planning another terrorist attack. Before Creedy can continue, a voice says, “He’s dead.” The party officials turn: it is Mr. Finch, who’s stumbled into the hospital.
Finch has been isolated from the rest of the action for some time, as he took a leave of absence and left the city altogether. Here, he jumps back into the action, yet remains curiously distanced from the scramble for power, due to his experiences with V and LSD.
The panels cut back and forth. We see a staircase—the staircase of the Shadow Gallery, we gradually realize—smeared with blood, as though someone has tried to crawl up. In the other half of the panels, Helen and Conrad Heyer talk about V’s death. Though Finch is rumored to be insane due to drug use, Helen acknowledges that he is probably telling the truth. She tells Conrad that Creedy thinks he’s in charge of the new government—nevertheless, by the time night falls, she will have arranged a new government. Helen walks away from Conrad. A messenger then delivers a package to Conrad, and he studies it, puzzled.
Helen’s plans to maintain control over Norsefire parallel, but also fall short of, V’s plans to destroy the Norsefire regime altogether. Like V, Helen has orchestrated a complicated scheme, but V has more power and information than Helen does: we can sense that V will use his knowledge of Helen’s affair with Alistair Cooper to dismantle her plan. The package that Conrad receives (another good example of “Chekhov’s gun”) will presumably contain some important information.
Mr. Finch is taken to speak with Dominic. Dominic asks Finch, very gently, if he’s sure V is dead. Finch mutters that V must be dead: he lost an enormous amount of blood, from the look of it. Finch notes that V must have let himself be shot: he’s fast enough that he could easily have disarmed Finch. Dominic asks Finch where he killed V. Finch thinks of the Victoria station, but lies and says that he doesn’t remember. Dominic nods and attributes Finch’s forgetfulness to his drug use.
Although most of the government officials in Norsefire are frantically trying to maintain control over their people, Dominic seems more concerned with Finch’s personal well-being. Dominic may not be a tremendously sympathetic person, but he’s loyal to Finch, and respects him enough to follow up about V’s death. Even though Finch killed V, he’s not a loyal servant of the Norsefire regime anymore: he suppresses information about V’s location.
Back in government headquarters, Conrad Heyer opens the parcel he’s been sent. It contains a videotape, which he plays. He’s shocked to find footage of Helen Heyer having sex with Alistair Harper—the same footage that V recorded in an earlier chapter.
The plot is coming full circle: V is causing the destruction of the Norsefire government via the manipulation of its remaining members.
Throughout London, Peter Creedy announces himself the “Emergency Commander.” He explains that V has been shot and mortally wounded—if he doesn’t appear by nightfall, London should assume that he is dead. As this information is broadcast repeatedly, Creedy meets with Harper. Creedy compliments Harper on recruiting a private army, but Harper pays no attention. He produces a razor, which he then uses to slit Creedy’s throat, noting drily that he’s had “a better offer.”
In contrast to V’s careful, masterfully-planned maneuvers against Norsefire, the Norsefire officials are disorganized and constantly betraying one another. Norsefire’s belief in “strength through unity” is proven to be ironically true: the government’s unity is falling apart, and thus it’s becoming exceptionally weak.
In the Shadow Gallery, Evey sits waiting for V. Suddenly V walks into her room. Evey greets him, only to watch in horror as V collapses at her feet.
As we approach the end of the graphic novel, it’s unclear if V’s plan to destroy Norsefire can survive even after V himself dies.