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From Eroica With Love #8

Veni, Vidi, Vici


This story begins shortly after the end of Hallelujah Express. Klaus, Dorian, and their respective followers have arrived in Rome, and Klaus is waiting impatiently for the real action of the mission to begin. As he explains on the phone to the Chief, the work is being delayed by Dorian, who has been happily playing tourist since their arrival and refuses to settle down to the serious business of breaking into the Vatican Palace vault.

The Major is in a rotten mood (even for him.) The Chief is nagging him, Dorian is unmanageable, and the Italian coffee doesn't compare to his favorite Nescafé. Mr. A procures some Nescafé, which helps a little, but when Mr. B reports that Dorian is lounging in the hotel's Roman bath, Klaus is completely fed up and storms off to find him.

Dorian has the bath -- a sunken affair on the order of a smallish swimming pool -- all to himself, save for the attendance of James, who is hanging around to scrub his back and complain about his using too much soap. Having had his fill of sightseeing, and realizing that Klaus' mood is reaching the danger point, Dorian decides it's time to get started on the job. After he finishes his bath, of course.

Klaus bursts into the room, causing James to flee in terror, and demands that Dorian get out of the bath and get to work at once. Dorian agrees to get out in a minute, and Klaus, approaching the bath, states his intention of waiting there until he does. A bar of soap rests on the edge of the bath, and a deft flick of Dorian's finger sends it scooting right under Klaus' foot. As Klaus slips and tries to recover his balance, Dorian tugs at his trouser leg and tumbles him headlong into the water.

Klaus is soaked and sputtering, but Dorian cheerfully suggests, "Why don't you take a bath before work, too? You can get to it feeling refreshed, you know." Chattering happily, he removes Klaus' tie and gets his shirt unbuttoned and partway off before the Major recovers from his shock sufficiently to begin struggling. Interestingly, he doesn't respond by hitting Dorian, or take the simple expedient of drowning him, but simply tries to get away, yelling, "I don't want a naked man to touch me!" He only gets as far as the edge of the bath, with Dorian gamely clinging to him and pulling the shirt farther off his shoulders. Cornered, Klaus stares like a deer in the headlights as Dorian moves in very close to him and murmurs, "Jet black hair...the color of wet crow's feathers.... Very sexy.... You're dripping wet, and it gives me a tingle in my spine just to watch you drip.... Major...."

Klaus apparently makes a final, successful bid for escape, because in the next panel we see him standing well across the room, his back resolutely turned to Dorian, and complaining of "chills". Dorian, all innocence ("Weren't you going to wait here until I get out of the bath?"), is toweling himself off.

[Click here to see scanned pages from this scene.]

Freshly dressed, Dorian emerges from the bathroom and suggests that the dripping Klaus go change his clothes while Dorian has breakfast in the hotel restaurant. James resurfaces and orders a huge breakfast (so he can last without any later on), but he and Dorian have barely ordered when Klaus, now dry, comes charging in and nags them to hurry. He smokes a cigarette and taps his foot impatiently, while James drinks coffee straight from the pot and Dorian decides that he's lost his appetite. They leave the restaurant, James neatly passing the check to Klaus on the way out.

Klaus insists on accompanying Dorian on the job, but has second thoughts when he sees Dorian's car -- a very flashy red Ferrari. With an air of martyrdom, Klaus finally gets into the car and they drive off into the chaotic Roman traffic. Dorian rhapsodizes about the history of Rome, James whines about keeping to the "economic speed", and Klaus gripes about how he'd rather be driving on the Autobahn in a Benz.

They are interrupted by a barrage of honking from a car behind them -- a black hearse. Klaus, irritated, yells, "Stop honking, you geek!" whereupon the hearse passes them and then swings in front, forcing them to stop. The driver gets out to confront them, demanding, "Who called me a geek? Say it again, will you?" He is a tall, blond man with a prominent scar on his left cheek, wearing a rather loud striped suit, and is accompanied by a short, bald fellow dressed as a priest.

Dorian and James appear to recognize the man. Klaus doesn't, and is pointedly unimpressed, obligingly calling him a "geek" several more times. The man looses his temper and reaches for a gun in a shoulder holster, but the priest stops him and begs him not to make a scene. "Do as the priest says," puts in Klaus. "If you show that off too often, it'll look cheap." Behind him, Dorian whispers that the man is from the Italian police, and suggests that they leave. They drive off, leaving the man glaring suspiciously after them while the priest records the car's license number.

Dorian explains that the man is Franco Giuliani, or "Detective Casket" of the Italian police. His sidekick, Fra Angelico, is described as an "ex-priest", and the two of them pursue their cases in the hearse, with a casket in the back which is used to hold captured malefactors. Klaus tells Dorian to be careful, since it would endanger the mission if he were caught by the Italian police. Dorian replies that he wouldn't want to be caught by a man as vulgar as Giuliani anyhow.

According to a copy of an ancient document which Dorian has studied, there is a secret passage into the Vatican Palace from one of the catacombs along the Appian Way. After dark, Klaus and Dorian arrive at the entrance to the cave which contains the catacombs. They are accompanied by James and agents A and B, who remain on watch at the entrance while the other two venture inside. As they head into the cave, James calls out after them, "My lord! Please don't rape the Major in the dark!" This triggers a fit of paranoia in Klaus, who hadn't considered that possibility, and he makes Dorian swear to God not to "do anything indecent in the catacombs." They then continue inside, Dorian commenting offhandedly, "By the way, Major, I happen to be an atheist." "So am I," replies Klaus.

Dorian and Klaus proceed through the skull-heaped catacombs, occupying themselves as usual by bickering. They finally reach a cramped, dead-end tunnel. Dorian says that the Borgia Apartments in the palace should be just above them, and Klaus starts to dig through the tunnel's ceiling. He is not pleased at being spattered by the dirt and rocks which fall down on him, but Dorian tells him, "Take a bath when we get back to the hotel. I'll wash you myself." [Dorian has apparently decided that baths are a promising environment for what he has in mind.] Klaus threatens, "I'll get to you when this mission's over!" but just then, the shovel hits something solid -- the floor of a building overhead. The hidden door which Dorian claims should be there shows no inclination to budge, so Klaus breaks through it with the shovel.

Climbing through the hole into a brightly lighted room, Klaus freezes in astonishment when he sees where he is: a bathroom occupied by a young woman, wearing a towel and nothing else. She's even more stunned than he is, and after a moment's shocked silence she opens her mouth to scream. Klaus grabs her and claps his hand over her mouth, while her struggles threaten to dislodge the towel. He tries to hand her over to Dorian, who has emerged behind him, but Dorian panics at the idea of holding onto a naked woman. Suddenly, a young man enters the room and demands to know what they are doing to his sister. Klaus and Dorian make a rush for the door, leaving the girl to scream, and go charging through the house, down the street, and over a wall to escape.

Klaus contacts A and B by radio and orders them to leave the catacombs and go back to the hotel with James. He berates Dorian for his blunder, and Dorian says the manuscript he looked at must have contained errors from being recopied over 500 years. He plans to check the original documents to see where they went astray. Meanwhile, he notices a red smear on Klaus' hand, and asks whether the woman has bitten him. Klaus realizes that it's her lipstick, and is revolted. He refuses to wipe it on a handkerchief ("It'll get dirty!"), and instead tries to wash it off in the nearby Tiber River. While he scrubs at his hand, Dorian fantasizes about the Renaissance and how bodies of assassinated kings and nobles were thrown into this very river. "If you'd lived in that time, you would've been a very scary monarch who'd constantly make wars everywhere," he tells Klaus, and imagines himself as "the gorgeous thieftain who terrorizes midnight Rome." [I'm not at all sure "thieftain" is a word, but it's in the translation and I like it.]

Klaus is unimpressed by dramatic fantasies. Looking out at the river, he exclaims, "Hey, there's a body floating over there!" When Dorian turns to look, Klaus says "Oh, it's here," and neatly pushes him into the water. "Indulge in a fantasy of wops 500 years ago there," he adds. "My thanks for the entire day today." He stalks off, leaving a dripping and annoyed Dorian to muse over what will happen between them when this mission is over.

At a police station, Franco Giuliani and his colleagues are discussing the report turned in by the young woman, Lucrezia, and her family. The descriptions have enabled them to identify one of the intruders as Eroica (his photograph is in his file), but the police are puzzled as to what Eroica could have been after, since there was nothing of artistic value present. The other man is still a puzzle. A police artist has produced a sketch from the descriptions, and while the artist has made the face far too "pretty", Giuliani recognizes the man in the Ferrari he had confronted earlier. The girl heard Eroica address him as "Major", and this and the sketch are all they have to go on. Giuliani, however, vows to capture them both.

At the Vatican Library, we see a group of nuns approach. Their leader -- suspiciously tall and with a very familiar face -- tells the monk in charge that they are from the Cecilia convent, and they are allowed to proceed into the library. The last one in stealthily hangs up a sign saying "The library is closed today for rearrangement," and locks the door behind them. Inside, a couple of librarians tell the nuns they may not go into a certain room without a special permit, but the nuns (Eroica's gang, of course), placing masks over their faces, release a soporific gas which quickly renders the other occupants of the library unconscious. The gang proceeds efficiently through various old volumes, researching the location of the secret passage. All except for James, that is -- wearing a habit covered with patches, he is happily collecting vases, candlesticks, and anything else he might be able to sell, until Dorian catches him, retrieves the objects, and boots him out of the library. Outside, James sets up a shoeshine stand and garners a few cents by telling tourists they may not enter the Chapel with dirty shoes.

Near the fountain at St. Peter's Piazza, Klaus is waiting impatiently for Dorian, who had left a message that morning saying to meet him there at 3:00. Klaus hears a voice call, "Major!" and turns to see a nun, whom he does not recognize. "Have you forgotten? It's me, look!" says the nun. Klaus, mentally recalling various nuns he has met, is still drawing a blank. "Are you really an intelligence agent?" Dorian asks, and Klaus finally catches on.

Dorian reports that he's discovered the true location of the secret passage. In fact, it is directly under their feet -- it runs underneath St. Peter's Piazza. The entry is in the basement of a department store, but is blocked with concrete. They have no choice but to dig in the Piazza itself, but have to be able to do so without exciting suspicion. Dorian details his plan....

Night: we see a helicopter, manned by some of Klaus' subordinates, hovering over St. Peter's Piazza. They are very hesitant about what they're being asked to do, but Klaus orders them to get on with it.

The next morning, news reports detail the act of vandalism which occurred during the night: someone has painted a large, fluorescent pink kiss-mark on the stones of St. Peter's Piazza. The paint resists any kind of solvent, and the Papal Palace has announced that it will have the affected flagstones removed and replaced immediately.

Dorian is quite pleased with the way things are going, but Klaus is dreadfully embarrassed by the graffiti, created with special ultra-durable paint obtained from NATO. The Eroica gang assume their disguises as nuns again and head out to waylay the trucks of the construction team heading for the Piazza, while Mr. Z tries to reassure Klaus.

The construction workers are flagged down by a group of nuns, who explain that their car has fallen in the river and ask for help. The workers are willing to be of assistance, but are taken by surprise when "Sister Eroica" pulls out a gun and demands their trucks.

At the Piazza, several priests are awaiting the arrival of the construction crew. They are relieved when the trucks pull up, and readily agree to cooperate when the foreman -- Klaus -- asks them to stay out of the area while the work is going on, for safety. The workmen, consisting of both the alphabets and Eroica's gang, erect a scaffold around the graffiti with sheets stretched over it to hide the construction area. Inside, Klaus orders the men to start removing the stones to hunt for the underground passage. Operating a jack-hammer himself, he tells Dorian, "If we don't find the passage this time, you'll be dead meat."

One of the alphabets comes running up to announce that they've discovered the passage. Klaus orders the team to keep pretending to work until he returns, and not to let anyone come near. He and Dorian drop down into the tunnel (after first changing out of their construction-worker clothes; Klaus is in a suit again, and Dorian in one of his close-fitting black thieving outfits), and Klaus gets nervous again when Dorian lands right behind him. They squabble a bit, then head down the tunnel toward the Palace.

This tunnel turns out to be the real thing. At the end of it, they find an ancient iron-barred window which leads into the Palace. The grating is old and rickety, and Klaus has no trouble removing it. As they walk through the Palace, Klaus comments that at least there are no naked women around. Then he happens to look upward, and is horrified to see naked men painted all over the ceiling. Dorian explains that it's a mural by Michelangelo, but Klaus thinks it's disgraceful and indecent.

Dorian asks Klaus to stay behind and wait for him to carry out the theft. Ever suspicious, Klaus doesn't like this idea at all, but Dorian assures him, "I won't screw up at this point, for the sake of my own reputation." Reluctantly, Klaus agrees to remain in the chapel, disguised as a monk in prayer. Dorian, meanwhile, has changed into the uniform of the Swiss Guard. (He carried a bag with him through the tunnel, which presumably contained the clothing as well as other equipment.) They synchronize their watches and Dorian departs, promising to return by 20 minutes after midnight.

Klaus paces up and down the chapel, thinking, "I'm glad I'm a monk. If he'd brought a nun's drag, I'd have knocked him down flat." He glowers at the offending paintings overhead, and finally sits down and lights a cigarette. Almost immediately, he hears the steps of an approaching guard and hurriedly puts out the cigarette and waves away the smoke. The guard looks in, but leaves after seeing only a praying monk. Klaus, realizing that the guard won't be back any time soon, re-lights his cigarette, thinking that it reminds him of his schooldays, smoking while hiding from the teachers.

Dorian is working. We see him gain access to the room which houses the vault entrance, and manipulate the controls to turn off the infrared sensor. He knows that the time lock on the outer door of the main vault opens for ten minutes at 12:00 midnight, and has timed his visit accordingly. The doors open right on schedule, leaving Dorian to work on opening the inner vault door.

Back at the construction site, the two teams pretending to work on the excavation are startled to see a hearse pull up. Detective Giuliani approaches them and tells them he's looking for information about two men, giving them the photograph from Eroica's file and the artist's sketch of the Major.

Dorian has completed his work in the vault, just in time for the time-lock to close the doors again. Pocketing the microfilm capsule, he notes that the next ten minutes are his alone, according to the bargain he'd made with Klaus, and he sets out in pursuit of his own target.

The alphabets and Eroica's gang are denying any knowledge of the two men Giuliani is inquiring about. Agents A and B are rather aghast at the romantically beautified sketch of the Major (though Mr. G likes it). Giuliani tells them the sketch is of a "rapist maniac with thirteen previous convictions." Fra Angelico protests this fabrication, but Giuliani tells him, "Citizens won't cooperate unless we bluff 'em up a bit." He tells the crew to report to the police if they see anything of either man, and then departs in the hearse.

In the chapel, Klaus is noting that Dorian is a minute and 35 seconds late, and wonders whether something has gone wrong. He is startled when a voice behind him asks, "Is a monk permitted to smoke, Fra Eberbach?" Klaus starts frantically waving the smoke away before realizing who it is and greeting Dorian with the usual snarl of "Idiot!" Dorian cheerfully hands over the microfilm. He apologizes for being a bit late, saying, "It took me longer than expected to carry this," referring to a large bundle wrapped in tapestry which he claims is "The one-and-only best theft of the century." Klaus is uninterested in whatever Dorian's been pilfering; now that he has the microfilm, he just wants to get out of there. He carefully picks up his cigarette butts, and they depart back through the tunnel.

We see the construction trucks hastily departing from the Piazza. There is a period of silence, then -- sirens start to blare, guards, priests, and nuns rush about in consternation at the Palace, and police cars go whizzing by. Back in the hotel, Klaus wonders what could be going on to create so much noise at that time of night. He's only mildly curious, though; his mission is over, and he can go back to Germany. He amuses himself by wondering whether he should hand Eroica over to Interpol, a thought which puts him into an excellent mood. It doesn't last long, though -- he sees his men huddled around a piece of paper, and demands to know what it is.

Dorian (still carrying his unwieldy, wrapped bundle) and James, walking down the hotel corridor, are startled by a bellow of "IDIOTS!" They enter the room to find Klaus in full roar and A and B cowering: it seems they were looking at the police sketch of Klaus, and he caught a glimpse of it. He is, to put it mildly, not pleased with the way he was depicted, and he indignantly shows the sketch to Dorian, who studies it for a minute and then asks if he can keep it for his "sexy Major coloring book." Predictably, this does nothing to improve Klaus' mood, but Dorian tries to soothe him down by reminding him that the mission is over and he can go back to Germany and forget about the petty Italian detective.

"By the way, Major, take a look at my harvest," says Dorian, starting to unwrap his bundle. Just then, Klaus gets a phone call from the Chief, and is talking to him with only half his attention on Dorian, who continues to unwind the tapestry while the alphabets and James crowd around him curiously.

The last layer unfolds, revealing the prize. There is a stunned and horrified silence, broken only by the Chief, on the phone, querulously demanding to know what's going on.

Klaus finally recovers his voice: "Y-y-you stole the POPE?!" And yes, that's just what Dorian has done. His bundle contained the Pope, unconscious, presumably from one of Dorian's soporifics. General panic erupts among the alphabets, but Dorian remains serenely pleased with himself: "Don't you think I'm the very first thief in the world to steal the Pope?"

The rest of them realize what all the commotion outside is about. The Chief orders Klaus to return the Pope immediately, and never let anyone know NATO was involved with this. Dorian, playing innocently with his curls, says, "I just picked him up as a souvenir for sneaking into the Palace. Was it that bad?" Klaus explodes at him, and Dorian agrees to return the Pope. The question is how to do it; Klaus has already blocked the passage they used with concrete (to discourage further depredations by Dorian). James suggests they just "leave him around somewhere", but Dorian has a better idea: "If an important object's stolen, it should be reported to the police, shouldn't it?" Klaus doesn't want to deal with "that morgue detective," but then Dorian explains what he has in mind. "You really are a man of pure malice, aren't you? What a nasty trick," says Klaus -- then tells him to go ahead.

[Click here to see scanned pages from this scene.]

Detective Giuliani is out cruising around in his hearse, discussing the kidnapping with Fra Angelico. Suddenly a motorcycle zooms by; the rider is Eroica, all decked out in black leather, who waves tauntingly as he passes. Giuliani recognizes him at once, and sets out in pursuit. The motorcycle enters a cemetery and takes off through the tombstones, where the car can't follow. Giuliani and Angelico are about to follow on foot when they see James approaching on a ramshackle, squeaky bicycle. They promptly confiscate the bike and ride off on it, leaving James (whom they don't know) wailing in protest. After a minute, Klaus emerges from hiding and tells him to shut up. James continues to lament; the kindhearted Mr. Z feels sorry for him, but Klaus is unsympathetic. Mr. A reports to Klaus that he has called the police, as instructed.

Giuliani and Angelico return to their hearse on the squeaky bicycle, having been unable to find Eroica. As Fra Angelico puts the bicycle in the back of the hearse, he notices that the lid of the casket is ajar. Before he can investigate, a whole squad of police cars come roaring up, sirens wailing. The Superintendent emerges from one of them and orders Giuliani to move away from the casket, saying they've received information from a "good citizen". They carefully lift out and open the casket, to reveal the missing Pope, who is just waking up. The Pope is puzzled; Giuliani and Angelico are horrified.

Back at police headquarters, Giuliani is being questioned. He frantically denies having had anything to do with the kidnapping, and blames it all on Eroica. Before anything can be resolved, Giuliani is summoned to the Papal Palace for further questioning. He vows revenge against Eroica and the mysterious "Major".

The Piazza is crowded with people murmuring about the recent kidnapping. Dorian and James have come out to have a look around, and they meet Klaus there. He tells them the Papal Palace has summoned all the intelligence agencies for a meeting, and he will have to attend to represent NATO. He is not at all pleased about this, and threatens, "I'll get you, Lord Gloria," before stomping off toward the Palace, leaving Dorian looking wistfully after him.

His reverie is interrupted by the now-familiar siren of Giuliani's hearse, which is just pulling up. James starts to run toward it, intent on retrieving his precious squeaky bicycle, but Dorian restrains him. A crowd of representatives from the Palace are examining the hearse as Klaus walks by with some other intelligence agents. Giuliani catches sight of him and immediately starts clamoring at the Superintendent that Klaus is Eroica's partner, the man in the sketch. "He doesn't look one bit like him," says the Superintendent, looking at the sketch, and adds that Klaus is an officer with NATO intelligence -- "If you mess with him, you'll be in big trouble." Giuliani is still certain that this is the man, especially after the Superintendent refers to him as "Major Eberbach".

A couple of plainclothes officers are keeping watch over the hearse, with the bicycle standing near it. James, whose one-track mind is fixated on recovering the bicycle, sneaks up, makes a sudden dart, and rides quickly away on it. The police are puzzled at anyone wanting to steal the thing, but take off after him anyway. James heads straight for Dorian, who is relaxing on a bench. The officers running after him see Dorian and recognize him from the search directive as Eroica. He starts to make a run for it, but the police grab James and threaten to kill him. Dorian stops and surrenders.

In the Papal Palace, representatives of various intelligence and government agencies are conferring. They are puzzled by the kidnapping, since the Pope was returned without the kidnappers having made any demands. Klaus suggests that perhaps it was intended as a warning, and that there will be more abductions of high officials soon. The discussion is interrupted by Giuliani entering the room. He orders Eroica brought in, explains that this is the prime suspect in the kidnapping, and accuses Klaus of being his partner and accomplice.

Klaus turns to Dorian and asks, "Why do you always muck around near me? The police even think I'm your partner 'cause you hang around me." Dorian hesitates, asking, "Can I really say it? You won't like it, though," but Giuliani urges him to speak out. So, Dorian gives Klaus his answer: "'Cause I love you...."

"Good reason," says Klaus, absolutely deadpan, as he tosses away his cigarette. Without further ado, he lands a vicious right cross to Dorian's jaw, knocking him halfway across the conference table. Klaus collars him, yelling, "How many times have I got in trouble because of you?!" but before he can inflict further violence, Giuliani intervenes and starts to remove Dorian from the room. "Never show up in my sight -- understood?" says Klaus, before the door slams.

[Click here to see scanned pages from this scene.]

The conference is thoroughly disrupted by all this commotion, and the various representatives break off to chatter about it. They are much amused by Eroica's being in love with Major Eberbach, and seem quite convinced that the latter had no part in the kidnapping plot. There is one exception, though: a KGB agent who tells Klaus it was "a very interesting show," but makes it clear he regards the whole scene as a piece of dramatic acting. "I will avenge for Misha the Cub," he says, before walking away.

Klaus is concerned that Dorian may reveal what he knows about the mission to the police. He orders agent B to obtain the structural plan of the police headquarters, and to find out where Dorian is locked up. Mr. A brings him a newspaper which features an account of the kidnapping case and a prominent picture of Dorian. "I should have hit you a few more times," mutters Klaus, staring intently at it. Shortly thereafter, Mr. A is startled to see his superior vigorously punching the photo in the paper.

In his jail cell, Dorian is recovering from Klaus' punch. The swelling has gone down, but he's still sore and a bit depressed. James, who has been tossed into the same cell, is ranting against Klaus; he can't see why Dorian didn't admit to everyone that Klaus was his partner and get him into trouble, too. Dorian points out that if he did that, they wouldn't get the 100 million marks. James promptly changes his mind, begs Dorian not to reveal anything, and occupies himself trying to dig out of the cell with a spoon. Dorian assumes that Klaus, caring only for his mission, has by now headed back to Germany.

A guard fetches Dorian from the cell and takes him to an office for interrogation. He is roughly questioned by a group of Italian detectives, led by Giuliani, but they are interrupted by the entrance of the Superintendent General, who orders Dorian to come with him (over Giuliani's protests.)

The Superintendent General tells Dorian he has a visitor -- a "very scary friend". Dorian is excited at the thought that it must be Klaus, but when they enter the Superintendent's office the visitor is revealed as Gian-Maria Volovolonte, a powerful Mafia boss who also happens to be an admirer of Dorian's. [We met him previously in Dramatic Spring.] Volovolonte greets Dorian affectionately, and promises to help him. He has an "understanding" with the police, and has already made it clear that he wants Dorian freed; the Superintendent isn't happy about it, but says he can't neglect a request from a boss as powerful as Volovolonte and promises to make arrangements.

The KGB agent who spoke to Klaus earlier is watching the police station and sees Volovolonte leaving. He tells his subordinate that they must not let the Mafia rescue Eroica -- the KGB wants him to provide evidence which will destroy Iron Klaus. Meanwhile, agents B and G are observing the KGB men, and report their presence (and Volovolonte's) to Klaus.

While Klaus mulls over the situation, a television in the background plays a news broadcast about the kidnapping, featuring a picture of Eroica. Klaus stares at it and picks up his gun, but Mr. A jumps between him and the TV, begging him not to shoot at it and create a disturbance. Klaus denies that he had any such intention, but to himself he thinks, "Shit! He interfered!" Further talk about Eroica on the broadcast arouses his ire again, but Mr. A is on the watch and once more obstructs the line of fire. Klaus considers sending him to Alaska: "He knows too much about his boss's behavior patterns."

Protest groups, which show every sign of turning into a lynch mob, have gathered around the police station where Dorian is being held. Klaus observes them from a nearby corner, and notes the KGB agent is also in the crowd.

At two o'clock in the morning, the crowd has dispersed and all is quiet. The Superintendent General has Dorian and James brought from their cell, telling Giuliani that they're to be taken to the public prosecutor's office now, to avoid the mob. Giuliani complains about the move, but is allowed to accompany them. They set out in a car, and Mr. Z, observing nearby, reports their departure to Klaus -- and the fact that the KGB men are following. Klaus, driven by Mr. A, sets out to intercept.

On a deserted road in Borghese Park, the police car is stopped by a burst of gunfire from a line of trenchcoated men blocking the way: Volovolonte's henchmen. They order the Superintendent to release Eroica. He complies, but Giuliani has conniptions and is not at all inclined to let his prisoner get away so easily. Meanwhile, the KGB agents watch from behind some bushes.

As Dorian and James approach the Mafia men, Giuliani suddenly whips out his gun and fires at them. The two dive for the ground, and the Mafiosi assume Dorian has been shot. They promptly open fire on the police car, with the Superintendent, Giuliani, and Fra Angelico hiding behind it and attempting to return fire. Dorian and James, actually untouched, try to crawl over to the bushes and escape. They are spotted by Giuliani, who starts to fire at them, but the KGB men -- not wanting Eroica damaged -- join the fray and start shooting at Giuliani, who dodges. [No one in this entire scene, with one predictable exception, shows any signs of marksmanship at all. Bullets are flying everywhere, and no one even gets nicked.]

Dorian and James try to run away through the trees, but they are pursued by the furious Giuliani, who has evaded the KGB gunfire. He closes in to where he has a clear shot at Dorian; he aims and prepares to fire, when another shot rings out and his gun is blasted out of his hand. This is too much for Giuliani, who demonstrates the better part of valor and runs for it, followed by a few more shots.

Dorian is left standing in the clearing, watching his latest rescuer approach: Klaus, his automatic in his hand and a grimly determined look on his face. He comes closer and closer, raises the gun, and points it at Dorian's head, almost touching his face. They stand there in silence for a minute, staring at each other; then Klaus lowers the gun and puts it away. "Guess not," he says. "'S different from a TV screen."

Much shaken, Dorian starts laughing weakly and collapses to the ground for a minute. "Finally, this time," he thinks, "I thought you really were going to kill me..." Klaus orders him to come on, and they leave in Klaus' car, dragging along James (who has opportunely fainted.) They head for the air base, hoping to get out of the country while the police, Mafia, and KGB are still shooting at each other.

[Click here to see scanned pages from this scene.]

Dorian comments on Klaus not having returned to Germany, but Klaus insists it was only because he was afraid Dorian would talk to the police. Dorian is offended at the idea, but takes the same tone and points out that if he'd talked, he couldn't have collected the 100 million marks.

They pass a statue of Julius Caesar, with "Veni, Vidi, Vici" written on a plaque below it, and Dorian likes the phrase as a description of their own victory on the mission. Klaus is unimpressed. Dorian adds, "When I was caught by that Detective Casket, the moment I saw you standing in the dark, I knew I'd won. You seemed to me the god of victory, or the war-god, Mars..." This, Klaus brushes off as "exaggeration and flattery," but before he can say anything else, he spots a car following them: the KGB has caught up. Klaus yells at Dorian to duck, as a couple of bullets shatter the back window, and tells Mr. A to speed up. Leaning out the door with a machine gun, Klaus quickly dispatches the KGB car, which plows into a tree.

Back in the park, the battle has wound down. Neither the Mafia nor the police can find Eroica, and Giuliani is left grumbling about the case being abandoned, unsolved, as a military plane soars by overhead. The lead KGB agent is also watching the plane depart. He thinks, "Iron Klaus, we shall meet again. Next time in a cold country..."

On the plane, Klaus hands a case containing the 100 million marks to the delighted James. When Mr. A reports that they're over England, Klaus tells Dorian and James to "get out," pointing to the door of the still airborne plane. They are taken aback for a minute, but then Klaus relents and gives them parachutes to put on.

Dorian offers to shake hands ("I know I can't ask for a farewell kiss,"), but Klaus refuses and says, "Go while I'm still in a good mood." At the door of the plane, Dorian turns to say, "Then, from Eroica with lo -- " but is interrupted by Klaus peremptorily kicking him out the door. "A severely unromantic man," comments Dorian. James is similarly launched, and Klaus throws the case with the money out after him. As James clutches it, though, it opens and the 100 million marks scatter to the four winds. James has hysterics. Back on the plane, Mr. Z once again feels sorry for him, but Klaus tells him not to sympathize, saying that James will eventually collect every note of the money, if it takes him all his life.

One of the men, looking out, reports that Dorian is sending them a "victory" sign. He is holding what appears to be a belt, and displays it in triumph. No one is sure what that is supposed to mean, and Klaus doesn't care -- he enjoyed booting those two out of the plane, and is looking forward to returning to Germany and a new mission.

Suddenly, however, he realizes that something doesn't feel quite right about his clothes. His favorite ox-hide belt has vanished, and he is horrified at the thought that Dorian has taken it right off his waist.

The narrative concludes, "The British sky that morning was filled with the peacefulness of the spring sunshine." Dorian, belt in hand, waves "Good luck!" as the plane (and Klaus' ranting) disappears into the distance, James continues to shriek, and thousands of notes in German currency drift through the air.


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