It's late August in New York, and Krak and Heller are chilling out amongst the shrubs of the "landscaped terrace" of their penthouse. Krak's still worried, trying to get Heller to remember that a few days from now, the first warships from Voltar could be arriving, assuming they set off immediately after she and Heller broke into the palace to rescue the emperor. Heller continues to not give a lepertige's ass, wondering aloud about the day he gets out of the army, the last oil refinery being "decontaminated," and his and Krak's engagement party.
This spoken flashback gives way to a narrated recap of important past events we didn't need to see firsthand. They had a big-ass engagement party at Madison Square Garden, "three bands and a symphony orchestra, five chorus lines from Broadway shows." Despite Heller's protests, Babe got up and introduced him as Jerome Terrace Corleone, so I guess she really did adopt him. So now people think the widow Corleone was an adulteress bigamist secretly married to Rockecenter, which I don't think the supposedly devoutly Catholic mob boss has considered the implications of.
Also, the Manco connection: Heller has used his "Rockecenter heir" powers to have Babe's family tree rewritten, putting Prince Caucalsia of Manco at the top, who emigrated to Earth, founded Atlantis, fled to the Caucasus for whatever reason, and eventually the bloodline wound up in the Alps to produce Babe - she even has the same blood type as Krak. So Babe, beyond being boss of the mob bosses, is now going about in a tiara and being called Queen Babe by the press. And apparently nobody's asked where the hell Manco is, or laughed at someone being from Atlantis, or figured out that Babe's family tree starts on another planet, because there's no reaction to any of this beyond "she's a queen now!"
It's almost surreal. There's all these events taking place off where we aren't looking, and obviously they're happening if we're being told about them, yet nothing about them fits into how we know the world should work. People cheer when mob bosses take over a city, they don't ask questions that would inconvenience the heroes, and all the world's problems come to an end once you've killed the right guy.
The only shadow over everything is the possibility of that Voltar invasion fleet, and Krak's concerned that the intense media coverage of their engagement party, among over events, is painting a big spacebullseye on Heller. "And all during the weeks that followed Krak's arrival in New York this last time, she had had more than an uneasy feeling that they were going to get hit and hit hard."
But Heller is aggressively unconcerned, focused more on Babe's upcoming address to the UN, where she'll use her... mob ties? to get nuclear weapons banned. And then Congress will fix the country's drug problem by decriminalizing... whaaaaat?
So, uh, remember that "DRUGS ARE BAD" message we've been hammered with since Book Two? The tragic death of Mary, psychology using drugs to turn college kids into prostitutes, Babe being heroic for refusing to peddle such deadly delights, the Apparatus' evil plan to get the right people addicted to happy pills, and the near-death of Krak and Heller's monarch at the hands of the drugs? Well, Heller's apparently content to settle for decriminalization now. Once "the profit [is] out of the scene," things will get better, right?
I guess the best explanation for this is now that the Rockecenter-psychology-PR-Nazi conspiracy has been ended, nobody else will ever produce, sell, or use drugs? So drug laws aren't even worth enforcing?
Oy. Other good news is that the fuel situation is settled and gas is being phased out (no mention of how many lives were lost or the economic damage sustained during that energy crisis), the atmosphere is full of Heller's miracle "spores," and the planet's poles are stable now (no mention of Russia, either). Yep, all his hard work's paid off, and planet Earth is now worth living on. And only a hundred million people had to die.
But Krak's still worried. She's always worried. And then she leaps to the wrong conclusion, runs off, and scrambles somebody's brains. Which is why Heller should be trying a little harder to put his fiancee at ease, in my opinion.
"I don't like the situation. We're sitting ducks."
"Well, I must say," said Heller, "that you're a very pretty duck. Don't you think so, Mister Calico?"
Or he could call her a duck. That works too, I guess.
This hasn't been a terribly exciting chapter, so let's end with the butler announcing that Heller has a call on his "special phone" that nobody else is supposed to answer. Let that mystery sustain you, and fill you with anticipation for what excitement may await in the next chapter. It's mail.
Back to Part Seventy-Seven, Chapter Eight