THE FINAL GAME

“I am convinced that only with a girl not older than fifteen I can experience delight and it is worth giving my life for.”
(Valentin Samsonov) …

Matt Macklin parked his dingy grey van outside of Happy Hills Middle School and waited. Macklin, age thirty, was short and obese, clad in jeans and a t-shirt that advertised some trashy “doom metal” band. His hair and scruffy beard were the colour of excrement.

Upon his left bicep was a tattoo of three interlocking triangles.

As he watched the various students exiting that public school there in the Rosedale area of Baltimore County, Matt Macklin found his hand straying to his crotch. It was the young boys that attracted him. Not that he was a “paedophile”, mind you. That specific predilection would have been far too refined for him. Macklin was attracted to boys and men of all ages. He was a closeted but ardent homosexual of the type that would have at one time been burned alive for his unnatural desires.

Nevertheless, Matt Macklin concentrated on his mission. He knew his master would be angry if he allowed his thoughts to wander away from that which he had been assigned to accomplish. For what Macklin was waiting for, according to his master’s commands, was not a boy. It was a girl.

His master had said that this girl was just the type. Just the type that his master’s enemy would find irresistible. Just the type to use as bait in order to trap and ensnare that enemy in something that would finally be the end of him.

Macklin’s master had looked through the school records of so many local students in order to find the one, and was certain this one was it. Even the girl’s name was perfect, his master had said. Her name was “Lalita”.

Just as Macklin thought upon this, the girl came out of the school. She was thirteen years old, tall for her age, a true beauty with auburn hair and blue eyes. She was dressed in a short blue skirt and a pink tank-top. On her legs was a pair of candy-striped stockings.

Matt Macklin jumped out of his van and approached the girl.

“Hey, Lalita,” he said. “You want a ride home?”

“Umm, no thank you, sir,” answered the girl warily. “I just live down the street, so I can walk.”

“No, your mom said I should drive you,” Macklin lied. “Get in the van.”

A look of fear then entered little Lalita’s beautiful eyes. She was going to turn and run away, but it was already too late. Matt Macklin had by now grabbed her and covered her mouth and nose with a washcloth. The girl slipped into unconsciousness as the chloroform took effect.

Holding the girl in one arm, Macklin opened the backdoor of his van and thrust her inside. He closed and locked the door and then quickly returned to the driver’s seat. He started up the motor and quickly left the vicinity of Happy Hills Middle School.

Matt Macklin smiled a smile of sick accomplishment. He knew his master would be pleased. …

My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Extraterrestrial Espionage Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in fact several thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- the most intellectually-advanced race in all of the known galaxies, whose technology is so sophisticated it often appears to be “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. “Plausible deniability”, and all that.

Currently assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. I am the living icon of Algol upon this world. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

I had been off-world for a while, seeing to my friend Millie Drake’s enrolment at Daemonia Academy. Millie, a beautiful young Hollywood starlet who had only recently discovered her own Algolite heritage, had been in wonder as I showed her around a few of the sights of our home planet. She had then stayed to take the entrance exams whilst I returned to Earth in order to check on other concerns. As proud as I was of young Millie Drake, and especially at her own determination to matriculate at my own alma mater, I already missed her terribly and looked forward to the next time I could see her, feel her, hold her in my arms.

I had returned to Earth in my Time-Space vehicle, the DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for “Dimensional Transport Sphere”) and had immediately discovered a message that required my attention. It was an email from Dr. Jacob Morantz, the retired archaeologist and now special collections curator at the Walters Art Museum. He claimed that a certain rare item had recently been stolen from the museum’s collection, and that he believed it was something within my particular area of expertise.

I left my headquarters, located as it is in the golden  trapezoidal rooftop of a downtown Baltimore City skyscraper, and drove to the museum in my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”).

Clad in my usual finery (including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket), I entered the office of Dr. Morantz and was greeted by him. He was a quiet, elderly gentleman, one who had obviously devoted his life to the collection and preservation of antiquities from around the world. He was dressed in a plain grey suit, the tie loosened.

“Thank you for coming by on such short notice, Dr. Rumanos,” he said as he motioned me to a chair.

“No problem at all, Dr. Morantz,” I affirmed. “I am honoured that the Walters would enquire after my opinion on the matter. So now, what is this antiquity that has been stolen?”

“It is a certain red stone that was found some decades ago in the ruins of a Toltec temple,” Morantz informed as he sat behind his desk. “It does not seem to be of their manufacture, however. The stone was obviously an object of worship and extreme veneration by that Mesoamerican people. Here is a photograph of it.”

Morantz handed me a postcard-sized photo of a stone deep blood-red in colour. It was on a table next to a slide-rule that showed the object to be about eight inches in length.

“By the Stars!” I exclaimed. “That appears to be one of the Crimson Crystals of C’sem 6! Surely you have not had this on display to the public here?”

“We did at one time,” he answered. “But it was removed after numerous patrons claimed that it sometimes seemed to glow with an odd light of its own. Some of them even complained of seeing strange visions after viewing it.”

“Visions of what?” I queried.

“Well, of spiders,” replied Morantz. “Just fleeting glimpses of very large spiders.”

‘Ah, that would serve to confirm that is indeed from C’sem 6,” I said. “That is a planet many light-years distant. It is a volcanic world, and the eruptions sometimes thrust material into Space. The stone probably arrived on Earth meteorically.”

“But what of the strange glow?” asked the old archaeologist. “The spiders?”

“The crimson planet known as C’sem 6 is indeed inhabited by a species of large arachnid,” I informed. “They have developed intelligence due to the influence of the radiation present in the planet’s rocks. Now, a very few of the stones found on C’sem 6 are said to be of particularly extreme power, even supposedly allowing those who exceptionally connect with them to transport bodily across Outer Space and to travel to other worlds.”

“Incredible,” exclaimed Dr. Morantz. “Absolutely incredible.”

“So, you say the crystal has been stolen? When did this happen?”

“It was burgled from the auxiliary storage room just two nights ago. Here, I have the security camera footage.”

Dr. Morantz then turned the computer monitor on his desk to-wards me. On it was video footage of a dimly-lit room in which was shelving containing many boxes and items. As I watched the recording, a figure was seen to enter the room. It appeared to be a tall man dressed entirely in black, an hood obscuring his features. I could not suppress a cold chill at the realisation that there was something bizarrely familiar about the figure’s movements. He walked over and briefly rummaged through the shelves, soon taking one object from them. I could tell from a brief glimmer of red light that it was indeed the crimson crystal.

As the dark figure then exited the room, he turned his face slightly to-wards the camera, briefly revealing his features. His countenance was as of a man of middle years, still handsome despite being marred with the marks of lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness. His hair was dark, and his face was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most of all, his eyes shone with a weirdly-hypnotic effulgence.

Forsooth, it was a visage that I knew all too well.

“Don Wingus!” I exclaimed. “I should have known. So he did escape from Damballah.”

“Who is this person, Dr. Rumanos?” enquired Morantz.

“He is none other than the most notorious outlaw in all of Space and Time,” I informed. “He is an utterly insane miscreant who will stop at nothing to establish his own dictatorship over all of Creation. If he intends to use the powers of the Crimson Crystal of C’sem 6 in his designs, then this world -- along with many others -- is in extreme peril!”

“Can he be found and the Crystal recovered?”

“That is what I must see to,” I proclaimed as I stood up to hurry from the office. “Thanks for the information, Dr. Morantz. I shall let you know, as soon as I possibly can, what happens.” …

At that same time, in a location elsewhere in the city of Baltimore, the intergalactic criminal known as Master Don Wingus stood in a chamber that had been decorated in antique Victorian splendour. He was clad in a suit made of black silk, and he stood before a table upon which was the Crimson Crystal of C’sem 6 itself.

Wingus focused his mesmerising gaze upon the crystal, concentrating deeply. In response, the red stone began to glow with an eldritch light, a pulsating effulgence of phantasmagorical and otherworldly power.

Then, on the other side of the room, a certain thing began to coalesce into physical appearance. It was more than a metre wide and an horrid ebon-black in hue. It was covered with short, bristly hairs and possessed eight horrid eyes and eight legs.

“Welcome, Ambassador of the Ruling Rachadnis of C’sem 6,” said Don Wingus when the horrible creature had come clearly into view. “All things are going as planned. I have prepared the trap for the only one who could oppose us, Dr. Daniel Rumanos. All will be ready for your invasion, and for the complete fulfilment of our designs.”

“This is good,” answered the thing, its voice an high-pitched shriek of unholy madness. “Your assistance will be rewarded. Soon, the Rachadnis will overrun this planet. Then we will go on to other worlds. The Universe will be ours!”

The horrid monstrosity shook as of with evil glee as it spoke. The thing was a living nightmare. It was a giant spider!! …

After leaving the Walters Art Museum, I had immediately returned to my headquarters and initiated a scan for alien technology in the area. I was soon rewarded with results. There was something emanating from an address in the city’s Hampden neighbourhood, a psyche-physical pulsation that likely indicated the presence of the Crimson Crystal itself. I accordingly drove Lizzie to this location forthwith.

It was evening when I arrived. The Sun was setting in Baltimore, and a forebodingly-unnatural darkness already seemed to hang over the city.

The address turned out to be that of something called “Yoga Tree Baltimore”, yet another of those trendy hipster establishments that claim to teach Eastern mysticism to individuals with far too much time and money on their hands.

It was past business hours and the door was locked. I took the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen) from the pocket of my jacket. The lock yielded to it in less than a second, and I quietly entered Yoga Tree Baltimore.

I took out my small electric torch in order to see my way around the place’s darkened front room. It was typically-decorated with posters showing the chakras and various yogic positions, along with others offering ridiculous feel-good affirmations that would be recognised as absolutely-ludicrous by any actual Tibetan monk.

Suddenly, I heard a plaintive cry from the back of the shop.

“Help me…” sobbed a faint female voice. “Please, somebody help me…”

I opened the inner doorway and entered the large storage room behind the shop. I found it to be incongruously decorated with antique 19th-Century furnishings, but that was far from being the strangest thing about this room.

It was lit by a central radiance coming from its centre, where there was a table on which was one object -- the Crimson Crystal of C’sem 6 itself. However, it was what this red glow revealed that was most truly bizarre.

Behind and above this table was an huge spider-web, stretching from the ceiling to the floor and from one wall to the other. In this web was caught a beautiful young girl, an exquisitely lovely teen, slender and perfect with rich auburn hair and skin of the purest white. She was wearing a pink tank-top and a short blue skirt. On her legs were candy-striped stockings that ended just above the knee, exposing the tempting flesh of her thighs.

“Please... help me…” she repeated faintly.

“Worry not, love,” I consoled. “I shall free you from this outrage.”

I took the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and held it above the strands of the webbing around the girl. When she began to come free, I lifted her out from it carefully in my arms, then carrying her across the room away from the horrid web.

“Thank you,” she gaped as I laid her down, propped up against the corner of the wall. “I don’t know how I got here. Some guy kidnapped me from school. I think he drugged me. When I woke up, I was in that… thing. Is that really a spider’s web? How can… How can it be so big?!”

Her soft blue eyes were innocent and plaintive, and the cherry lips of her wide, sensuous mouth served to intensify the feelings of protective desire I was feeling for this ravishingly-gorgeous young maiden.

“Just try not to worry,” I soothed. “I am the Doctor, and I am here to help. What is your name, love?”

“Lalita,” she answered.

“Well, Lalita -- and that is a beautiful name that certainly suits a truly beautiful little girl like you -- I promise I shall  do all I can to keep you safe.”

“I believe you, Doctor,” she smiled faintly as I helped her to her feet. “But… what’s going on here?”

“Well, just to explain quickly,” I said, “you see that glowing red stone? It is called the Crimson Crystal of C’sem 6, and a certain very evil person is obviously using it to bring the Rachadnis, a species of giant spiders from another planet, here to Earth.”

“Ewww!” shuddered the girl. “Why would anyone want to do that?”

“I suspect they want power,” I explained. “Power to take over this world and rule it for themselves. To subjugate the human race and use them as slaves. He has joined himself with them in his own lust for such power.”

“But what do I have to do with it?”

“I am not certain,” I answered her. “Perhaps you were just put here to…”

“To keep you busy, Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” interrupted a rough male voice from behind us.

I whirled around and faced the speaker. It was a man of about thirty years of age, short and obese, with his hair and scruffy beard the colour of excrement. He was clad in black jeans and a t-shirt promoting some trashy “doom metal” band. There was a tattoo on his left bicep, an horrid tattoo of three interlocked triangles -- in sooth, a symbol that I recognised as the hallmark of the most dangerous terrorist organisation in existence.

“You are an agent of Spectral Paranormal!” I exclaimed. “You are a lackey of Don Wingus himself!”

“My name is Matt Macklin,” proclaimed the man, “and Master Wingus has given me special powers to destroy you!”

And with this, the man known as Matt Macklin moved with a speed superhuman and struck me with his fist -- a blow that sent me reeling to smash against the far wall of the chamber, bashing the back of my head against the unyielding plaster.

I then beheld Macklin bounding to-wards me, and I heard Lalita scream as I began to sink into unconsciousness. 

As soon as Matt Macklin was within striking distance, I ended my feint and kicked to-wards his stomach, delivering a series of Daemonian jujitsu blows to him. They had some effect, but not as much as they would against most human beings. He still managed to get in a few punches back at me, showing a strength beyond the norm.

“Your strength has indeed been augmented,” I said. “Wingus has given you temporary abilities above those of an Earthling.”

“The Master has blessed me with his majesty,” intoned Macklin, his sick eyes filled with unholy devotion. “He has filled me with his glorious essence and…”

“All right, all right,” I interrupted in disgust. “I do not want to hear the details of your unnatural liaisons with that perverted villain. It is an abomination, an infernal mockery of all that is pure and good!”

“You are homophobic, Daniel Rumanos,” accused Macklin. “The Master tells me about your obsession with little girls. That is why we brought this one here to lure you to your doom!”

I glanced over and saw that Lalita was huddling in fear against the wall. The Crimson Crystal of C’sem 6 continued to glow its eldritch glow, filling the room with its grotesque illumination whilst my fight with Matt Macklin continued.

The light from the stone caused me to think of the fact that the shop’s own lighting was not on. I made a quick glance at the switch on the wall near me, and then manoeuvred around so that it was just within my reach.

Macklin made another charge to-wards me and, just before he could reach me, I unleashed a kick to his stomach, sending him reeling across the room directly to-wards the target I had intended. He hit it full force. It was a jumble of exposed wiring from the establishment’s electrical system.

Before he could disentangle himself, I turned on the light-switch. The resultant illumination was barely noticeable alongside the phantasmal glow of the Crimson Crystal, but the electricity had its effect. Matt Macklin shrieked in pain and then fell silent as the resultant power surge took the life from his body. He slid to the ground, dead from the shock.

“An electrifying performance,” said I.

I ran over to Lalita and the beautiful little girl fell into my arms, still trembling with abject fear.

“It is all right, love,” I told her. “I just need to find a way to drain the power from the alien stone and then all will be safe. If there were only some way to absorb it that would not be lethal, and…”

Nevertheless, things were not going to be even that simple, for at that very moment, the glow from the Crimson Crystal suddenly intensified and a swirling red radiance filled the room. Lalita and I were surrounded by it, and I then felt a sensation of transportation through my body.

“Doctor!” exclaimed the lass. “Doctor, what’s happening?!”

“We are being taken from Earth!” I said. “The power of the Crimson Crystal is transporting us through an inter-dimensional corridor to transverse the depth of Interstellar Space. We are being taken to another planet!”

The sensation of transport then faded and I looked around, with the poor girl still clinging to me in fear. As our new surroundings became clear, I had to guard against showing my own horror at the situation in which we now found ourselves. We were in an immense cavern, glowing blood red from the Crystal that had been transported with us. The cave was filled with webbing, and at its centre was a spider at least thirty metres wide, its eight long horrid legs quivery with malignant life, and its terrible eyes focused upon us.

“Welcome to C’sem 6, Rumanos of Algol,” announced the thing, its voice a thing of high-pitched echoing madness. “I am the Ruling Rachadnis and you are now our prisoner. The planet Earth will now be ours, and you cannot resist us. Then, we will go on to conquer other planets, solar systems, galaxies. This is our inescapable snare -- this is our Worlds Wide Web!!”

Around the gigantic arachnid was a brood of other spiders, and then I beheld, approaching from the side, the figure of a man in a black silk suit.

“You will not stop the Rachadnis, Rumanos,” he said, his voice one I knew far too well. “I have made a deal with them, a deal that assures my position as co-ruler of Earth and the other planets of its system. A deal that includes your total and ignominious defeat!”

And then this individual, the intergalactic arch-criminal known as Master Don Wingus, laughed a laugh of unspeakably demoniacal madness!

“‘Come into my parlour,’ said the spider to the nympholept,” Wingus went on in mockery. “I knew you could not resist hurrying to save the cute little damsel in distress.”

“You are mad, Wingus, utterly mad,” I announced. “These spiders will not prove trustworthy. They will destroy you as they would ravage worlds.”

“It will not work this time, Rumanos,” retorted the villain as we stood face-to-face, “We have played the final game, and you have lost!”

I then hit him with an unexpected upper cut to the chin, sending him sprawling on the floor. Before he could recover, I took the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and aimed it at the Crimson Crystal.

“I am switching the stone’s polarisation,” I explained whilst activating the transonic device. “All the power that it has emanated will now be drained back into it.”

I then heard the Ruling Rachadnis scream in pain as its strength began to be drained into the Crimson Crystal. The monstrous spider’s body began to shrivel up and die.

“Lalita, stay behind me!” I shouted. “There will be a backlash when the Crystal fills with energy! It will release a fatal burst of radiation, but I should be able to absorb it and keep you safe. You will then automatically be transported back to Earth!”

“Alone, you mean?” queried the girl concernedly. “Without you?”

“That is the only way, love,” I affirmed. “The radiation will prove deadly to even my Algolitish physique. You will be safe, though, and that is what matters.”

“No, Doctor, no!” she shouted back. “Don’t kill yourself for me! I’m just a little girl! I don’t matter! Please don’t die, Doctor!”

Then something extraordinarily odd occurred. Don Wingus looked at us, at the beautiful Lalita and at me, then he looked at the Ruling Rachadnis. He beheld the horrid creature with which he had allied himself, now shrinking away in defeat, and a sudden look as of realisation came across his features.

“Stand aside, Rumanos,” said Wingus, as he moved to stand directly in front of the Crimson Crystal. “Old friend, this is my concern.”

It was then that the backlash happened. The spiders were by now dead, all the energy of their very selves drained into the red stone, and its radioactive content was overloaded. The radiation suddenly rushed forth out of the Crystal, and I looked on as Don Wingus absorbed the full force of it into his body. It was too much for even him, and I saw Wingus wince and shudder in extreme pain before his entire form simply dissolved -- dissipating away into nothingness as if he had never really existed.

As Lalita clung to me, I reached out and grasped the now-powerless stone, straightway secreting it in my pocket. The sense of transport then returned, and we found ourselves travelling back down the inter-dimensional corridor to-wards Earth.

Within seconds, the girl and I had returned safely to the backroom of Yoga Tree Baltimore. I looked down at the lovely lass, the beautiful Lalita, as I held her still-trembling figure in my arms.

“It is all over, love,” I assured her. “The Rachadnis brood is now extinct, and Earth is safe… for now!” …

After a welcome meal of cheeseburgers and vanilla ice cream at a local all-night diner, Lalita and I had ridden in Lizzie to a point overlooking the city, were we could be alone. It was now after midnight, and I looked up and beheld the stars, bright and wondrously stretched across the sky.

‘So, which one are you from, Doctor?” enquired the girl. “Which star, I mean?”

“You see that blue one rising far above the horizon?” I indicated. “The one that appears to be winking? That is it -- Algol, the Daemon-Star.”

“It’s so beautiful,” she said. “Hey, could you take me there some day?”

“Perhaps so, love,” I replied. “Perhaps some day. As for now, I must return the Crimson Crystal to the Walters Art Museum in the morning. It is harmless now.”

“So what happened, really?” she asked. “Why did that Wingus guy sacrifice himself to save you -- after you had saved me and everybody else?”

“I am not certain, really,” I confessed. “He was mad, after all, but maybe it was more than that. Perhaps he realised the true horror of the life that he had made for himself and just could not take it anymore. Perhaps he just remembered our old friendship, and had a moment of nostalgia. I suppose we will never truly know.”

“I thought you were going to say that he was secretly your evil brother or something,” said Lalita.

“Not quite, love, not quite,” I corrected her. “Nevertheless, as Algolites you could say we shared a type of familial relationship. Our minds were part of the same linked matrix of Time/Space computations. We were like two parts of the same being.”

“Doctor, I don’t really understand that,” said the lovely little lass with an embarrassed smile.

“To put it another way,” I attempted to explain, “Don Wingus was an amalgamation of my own dark side. He was a product of my own ignoble desires and impolite thoughts. He was created out of all that I rejected -- hate, intolerance, bigotry -- in order that I might stand for universal love and peace.”

“Oh, okay,” said the girl as she turned her lovely eyes to look into mine. “I think I know what you mean. He was like the Devil. But then… who does that make you?”

I thought it best not to answer, and in stead focused on the beautiful young girl, her gorgeous little figure, her rich auburn hair and beautiful blue eyes, her sensuous cherry lips…

“Anyway, he was the bad guy, and you’re the good one,” she continued with a smile. “Well, I’m glad I’m here with you!”

“I am glad you are here with me too, Lalita, my love” I said as I pulled the dear little lady close for a kiss, the first of a thousand we would share on that night of enjoyment. “Very glad, indeed.”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “THE GIRL FROM BEYOND”

THE VIOLATION

I left my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) in the parking garage below Dulles International Airport and hurried with all possible haste to-wards the terminal. There was no time to lose.

Dressed as I was in my in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket, I took the lift up several storeys and then proceeded down a long corridor. I then stopped short in front of the automatic door leading into the ramp to the terminal gateway. It had a sign on it that was marked “Out of Order”. I knew that there was absolutely no time left for me to go back and find another means of entrance.

I took the transonic turnscrew -- an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen -- from the pocket of my jacket, then aiming the device to-wards the broken doorway. Within a second, the door was repaired, and opened before me. As I walked through it, I removed the sign and crumpled it up, tossing it in the next garbage receptacle that I passed along the way.

The terminal was quite crowded, with long lines standing in wait for the necessary security checks before being allowed to board their flights. I rushed past them all in my hurry to get to the gate where the passengers were already disembarking from the seven-hour flight from Los Angeles. I fervently hoped that I was not already too late.

I peered through the crowd looking for her, knowing that her fine, wondrously-petite figure would perhaps be hidden behind the other passengers. I was just about to become a bit anxious when I saw her and I felt my heart leap with joy  -- and forsooth, with love.

There she was. Oh -- By the Stars! -- yes, there she was. She was even more beautiful than I remembered, slender and absolutely perfect with rich chestnut hair and enchanting violet eyes. Her skin was gorgeously sun-kissed from her time in southern California, and I thrilled at the sight of the hot-pink lips of her wide, sensuous mouth. She was wearing a short electric-blue dress that showed off her stunningly-faultless adolescent legs -- the same legs the touch of which I had so longed to feel during the months she had been away.

When she saw me, her already gorgeous face lit up with a look of wondrous happiness and of desire, a strikingly-lovely smile brightening her countenance beyond any possible description of ravishingly-ideal attractiveness.

And with this, the exquisitely-beautiful young actress Millie Drake ran down the ramp from the gateway into my waiting arms. …

My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Extraterrestrial Espionage Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in fact several thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- the most intellectually-advanced race in all of the known galaxies, whose technology is so sophisticated it often appears to be “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. “Plausible deniability”, and all that.

Currently assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. I am the living icon of Algol upon this world. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

I drove Millie Drake to-wards downtown Washington, DC, trying my best to keep my eyes on the road whilst my thoughts kept straying to her gorgeous preteen pulchritude.

“I’m so glad to be back,” she said sweetly. “We just finished the last shots of the film yesterday, and I got a flight back as soon as I could.”

“I am so glad you did, Millie,” I told her. “I really have missed you, you know.”

“I missed you too, Daniel,” she purred. “So what are we going to do in DC? I’ve never been here before, so it’s really exciting!”

“Yes, ‘Our Nation’s Capital’ and all that,” I agreed. “I booked a nice hotel suite for us, and I am certain you will love it. It is at the Four Seasons.”

“Oh my God, yes!” exclaimed Millie in approval.

“Tomorrow, though,” I continued. “I have an appointment at the Frazier Industries corporate location.”

“The computer firm?” she enquired.

“Yes,” I answered. “They are the top supplier of computer equipment in North America. It is said they are even giving the Japanese a run for their money. However, that is not why I am visiting.”

“What is it then, Daniel?” queried the girl. “Something mysterious?”

“Rather so,” I acquiesced. “There is a scientist there named Dr. Vincent Tobias. He is a psychiatrist, and has developed something called the ‘Emotion Stimulator’, a device that he claims can generate emotional reactions remotely in any human subject.”

“Wow!” she exclaimed. “But isn’t it kind of strange for him to be doing that kind of work at a computer parts factory?”

“Indeed it is, love,” I said. “Indeed it is. That is what I want to investigate.”

“You mean ‘we’, don’t you?” teased the gorgeous girl. “I want to go with you.”

“Well, if you insist, Mills,” I smiled. “I hoped you would not mind so mixing business with pleasure.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” said the little beauty as she laid her lovely head on my shoulder. “I’m sure we will also have a lot of pleasure.”

We checked into the Four Seasons Hotel and were soon enjoying the dinner I had ordered from room service -- porterhouse steak and lobster tails with baked potatoes and side salads, accompanied by hot buttered rolls and the finest champagne.

After dessert, which was an excellent chocolate mousse, Millie was feeling a bit dizzy-headed from the sparkling wine, it being a new experience for her. I picked the beautiful young starlet up in my arms and carried her into the bedroom.

I undressed the girl slowly, savouring every soft curve of her pristine pubescence with my hands -- her lovely legs, her perfect hips, her budding breasts. I savoured the tingling sensation of the vestiges of the champagne in her mouth before laying her down on the bed and penetrating her sweet little girlhood. I made love to her deeply, fully, passionately. She cried softly in ecstasy, biting her lower lip as if against the most exquisitely pleasurable pain.

I pulled out and returned to her mouth. She was more awake now, and accepted me eagerly. Just before I finished, I took my superhuman manhood out and pointed it at her face. Some of my extraterrestrial ejaculate splashed across her lips.

I was glad to be able to show her this experience in such a luxurious hotel suite. In order to book it, I had had to call in  a favour from a local friend of mine, a gentleman who lives in a certain white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Even then, it had not been easy, as the Four Seasons was fully booked due to its currently hosting an FBI convention. …

At that same time, at the headquarters of Frazier Industries, Dr. Vincent Tobias was in one of the conference rooms. He was a man of about sixty, grey haired and serious of countenance, clad in a white lab coat and wearing thick spectacles.

“All is going as planned, Controller,” he stated to another. “The Emotion Stimulator is ready and will be unstoppable when we release its power. The population will be totally under its control, and nothing will stand in the way of your converting them.”

“That is excellent,” said the other, its voice an emotionless electronic whirr. “We are waiting in the proper locations around this population centre, that all will be prepared when the machine is engaged. Our Prime Ship is approaching the planet with all necessary reinforcements. The people of Earth will be converted, and all of this planet will become as we are.”

With this, the figure stepped out from the shadow in which it had stood. It was nearly seven feet in height, looking like a metallic man, silver with bronze highlights. It was a Leknii Replicant!! …

The next morning, Millie Drake and I arrived at the Frazier Industries headquarters, located as it was on the outskirts of Georgetown. She had changed into a purple dress that matched my jacket. I amused myself for a few moments, making faces and waving at the security camera as Millie laughed, before we were buzzed through the entrance doorway.

We were met in the reception hall by Dr. Vincent Tobias. Nobody else seemed to be at the facility, which was as quiet as a tomb.

“Thanks for coming by, Dr. Rumanos,” said Tobias as we shook hands. “I was honoured to hear of your interest in my work. I’ve heard of some of the assistance you’ve given the forensics lab of the Baltimore Police Department.”

“Yes,” I acquiesced, “I have been involved in investigating some of their… stranger cases.”

“Well, you should be interested to know then,” continued Dr. Tobias, “that the Emotion Stimulator I have developed will revolutionise law enforcement even more than it will psychiatric care. In fact, it will make police, as we know them, to be superfluous.”

“A fascinating idea, Dr. Tobias,” I mused, “but I must say, a rather dangerous one.”

“Not at all,” he continued as we walked down the hallway to-wards the main laboratory area. “My device, when properly duplicated and put into positions around the world,  will give us total remote control over human emotions. There will be no conflict, no anger, no passion-driven disputes; and therefore no crime.”

“It doesn’t sound like there will be any fun, either,” chimed in Millie.

“My young friend has a point,” I agreed. “Without passionate emotion, will you not be robbing people of love and other strong yet positive sensations?”

“I do not think I will be ‘robbing’ them of anything,” retorted the psychiatrist. “I will be giving them the chance to live lives without fear, without emotional pain and anxiety. I will, in short, be converting them into a new form of life, a superior form without the things that have made this world noisy and fretful. I will be creating a new level of being.”

We had by now entered the main laboratory and stood before the Emotion Stimulator. It was a large rectangular box of shiny metal, covered with numerous control buttons and switches and topped by dual antennas.

“Fascinating,” I said whilst examining the device. “Why, some of this technology looks positively unearthly. I would almost say it resembles…”

“Daniel, look out!” I heard Millie cry out. But her warning was too late.

I felt a great pain in the back of my head. I managed to turn slightly as I slumped to the floor. Before I passed out, I saw Dr. Vincent Tobias standing over me with a crowbar in his hand. …

I awoke to a feeling of nausea. Opening my eyes, I found  myself in a small room lit by a single light bulb hanging from the centre of its ceiling. I struggled up to my feet and looked around. Upon one wall was a video screen. As I looked, it switched on and I saw Dr. Tobias back in the laboratory.

“Hello again, Dr. Rumanos,” he said. “The walls of your cell are laced with Evaerlium, as was the metal of the crowbar I used to knock you out. Yes, I know it is a radioactive element detrimental to your Algolite kind. I could not be certain of finding a way to kill you, so imprisoning you was the next best thing. You cannot escape.”

“Tobias,” I said, struggling against the waves of pain I felt. “Evaerlium is a very rare element. Where could you have obtained it?”

“Oh, my benefactors brought some along when they arrived,” he informed. “They knew you would be attempting to interfere, and made it available so that you could not.”

“By the Triple Star!” I swore. “Your ‘benefactors’ -- are they… ?!”

In answer to my query, the camera angle zoomed out to reveal the Replicant Controller standing next to the insane psychiatrist.

“You cannot do this, Dr. Tobias!” I told him. “The Leknii Replicants would assimilate the human race, turning everyone into unfeeling cybernetic monstrosities, just as they are!”

“Indeed, they will take away all pain and suffering,” rejoined Tobias. “They will make this world an emotion-free place of quiet and safety.”

“On the contrary, Tobias, on the contrary! What you are speaking of is a violation of all that is truly good about the planet Earth! The Replicants will take away all that makes the human race great! Love, passion, determination…”

“Oh, that reminds me,” he went on. “In order to further assure that you will make no attempt against us…”

The camera angle then again changed. In the corner of the lab room, I saw Millie Drake tied to a chair by ropes. She was in a swoon of fear. I had hoped against hope that they had just forgotten her. That she had somehow escaped. But no…

“Dr. Tobias, no!” I shouted. “Let the girl go! She has nothing to do with this! She is just a child! Let her go and do not harm her!”

“Your girlfriend will be unharmed as long as you do not attempt to escape your cell or oppose us in any way,” said the madman. “Otherwise, her life will be terminated immediately.”

“If you harm one hair on that little lady’s head, Tobias,” I intoned, “I swear by the Spires of Daemonia I will find a way to claw my way out of here with my bare hands and will rip both you and that silver Leknii terror to shreds!!”

“No chance of that, Dr. Rumanos,” said Tobias calmly. “It is already too late. The Replicants are in hiding throughout the District of Columbia, and the Controller here is preparing to release them.”

“It is prepared,” droned the Replicant Controller in its emotionless monotone. “They are being released now. Soon our Prime Ship will be entering the atmosphere.”

“A Prime Ship?” I repeated in horror. “That will have thousands of Replicants on board…”

“And to assure that the people of this city will show no resistance,” continued Tobias, “we have the Emotion Stimulator…”

With this, the mad scientist known as Dr. Vincent Tobias turned on the device, adjusting its controls to a certain frequency.

“Tobias!” I insisted. “Tobias, what are you doing?”

“I have programmed the machine to emit a wave of absolute cringing fear to the population,” he explained. “No one, not even law enforcement or military forces, will be prepared to do anything except to calmly agree to conversion by the Leknii.”

At this pronouncement, the video screen changed to show various security camera angles from around the city of Washington. I remembered that the fact of Frazier Industries being the top supplier of such cameras had made this possible.

The first angle showed a manhole cover being thrust up from the ground as if it were made of cardboard. From the sewer issued forth a Replicant. Then another, and another.

Several other cameras showed Leknii Replicants marching down the streets and sidewalks as they emerged from their hiding places around the city.

The view then changed to the various monuments and government buildings of Washington, DC. The Replicants were everywhere, absolutely everywhere -- a complete and seemingly-unstoppable invasion right in the very centre of the most powerful nation on the planet.

I shuddered in eldritch disgust and extreme trepidation as I beheld what was next. A thing of unspeakable terror. It was a group of Replicants marching down the steps of the Capitol Building!!

Can you perceive the absolute unmitigated horror of this? The Leknii invasion force was right there in the heart of the capital city of the most powerful nation on Earth, and the human race was powerless to stop them due to the influence of that device known as the Emotion Stimulator!

“Replicant Controller, listen to me!” I insisted, still talking through the video screen of my cell. “The Kosmikos will not sit still for this! When they see what you have done here, they…”

“You are the only Kosmikos agent assigned to this planet,” answered the Controller. “We will have this world before any action can be taken. Resistance is useless. The human race will be converted, and the planet utilised for the manufacture of Leknii technology.”

From the corner of the room, Millie Drake was recovering somewhat from her swoon.

“Kosmikos…” she whispered. “Daemonia… The Triple Star…”

“Dr. Tobias,” I said, turning my attention to-wards the scientist. “Did you hear what the Replicant said? They will turn Earth into one large factory for the manufacture of their ships and weaponry. It will not be the quiet, peaceful place you imagine. It will be a centre for the making of weapons of war, of conquest, of death. No beauty, no love, no peace. It will be like their home-world was. A wasteland of industrial pollution, uninhabitable by any but their cybernetic kind!”

“What!” exclaimed Tobias. “He’s right! You didn’t mention this before, Controller! I thought you would just eliminate emotions; the ones that cause pain, suffering, sadness, depression. The things that so plagued the patients whom I’ve spent my life trying to cure. In stead, you would turn our planet Earth into a world of cold steel and polluted air! I can’t… I won’t allow you to do that!!”

With this, Dr. Tobias turned back to the Emotion Stimulator, shutting down the controls. Seeing this, the Leknii Controller raised its arm and sent a flashing energy burst into the psychiatrist, causing him to crumple to the floor in death.

It was then, at that supreme moment of decision, that something truly wonderful happened; in sooth, something more wondrous and fantastic that anything that I could have hoped for on that fateful day. For it was then that Miss Millie Drake suddenly stood up from her chair, her bonds falling away to nothing. The beautiful young girl then faced the Replicant Controller directly and raised one of her frail hands to-wards it -- sending forth a powerful wave of bright orange and blue energies directly at the metallic monstrosity!!

“By the Stars! Millie!!” I exclaimed as I watched the view-screen in wonder. “That is pure Algolitish power! I did not transfer it to you! The Evaerlium would have blocked any mentalist link that I could have forged anyway!”

As I watched, the Controller shattered into countless tiny shards. The screen switched back to the views around the city, and I beheld that the Replicant invasion force was similarly disintegrated, a safeguard of their type that is triggered upon defeat, in order to prevent any cannibalisation of their technology.

I then heard the security locks of the facility click open. Realising I was now free, I opened the door from my cell and made my way down the corridors back to the laboratory.

I found Millie standing alone in the centre of the room as if in a daze. There was blood flowing profusely from her nostrils. I took a large, canary-coloured handkerchief from my pocket and gave it to her to staunch the blood. At the same time, I helped her into a near by chair.

“Daniel, what did I do?” she sobbed. “It hurts. Oh my God, it hurts.”

“I know it does, love,” I comforted. “Believe me, I know.”

I then turned quickly to the computerised monitoring system of the laboratory, attempting to activate a video scan of the area of Space immediately surrounding Earth.

“They said that there was a Prime Ship approaching the planet,” I said. “It will have thousands of Replicants on board, completely unaffected by the defeat of the smaller invasion force we have just seen. It is far beyond anything the human military could deal with. They must be stopped! But how?”

An image then appeared on one of the video screens that only served to confirm that all I feared was indeed true. It was a live image of an huge Leknii rocket-ship, and it was already entering the atmosphere of Earth in its direct course to invade the planet!

“That is the second biggest Replicant ship I have ever seen!” I exclaimed at the sight of this.

I then noticed the lifeless corpse of Dr. Vincent Tobias lying upon the floor near to the Emotion Stimulator. It gave me an idea.

“I truly hope you have atoned for your sins, Dr. Tobias,” I said. “You meant well, after all -- and you may have provided us with just the thing necessary to defeat the Replicant Prime Ship!”

I ran over to the Emotion Stimulator and began to program the controls.

“The Leknii Replicants do have an organic humanoid component,” said I. “If I can set this device to interfere with their emotional control, and then boost the broadcast signal so it can reach their ship…”

I took out the transonic turnscrew from my jacket pocket and aimed it at the Emotion Stimulator.

“Ah, that should do it!” I exclaimed. “Yes, the signal should reach their ship in a few seconds, and then…”

I looked at the view screen that showed the Prime Ship. It started to waver and then suddenly it began to turn.

“It is working!” I said. “The Leknii should be feeling a complete lose of purpose as their emotions go wild. They will forget their mission and…”

I watched the screen as the Leknii rocket-ship began to accelerate away from Earth.

“They have reversed course and are heading directly to-wards the Sun at top speed!” I stated. “The extreme gravity should work to smash them up!”

There was then a flash of light on the screen as the Replicant Prime Ship exploded into countless shards.

“Yes!” I cheered. “They have broken up! The Replicants are destroyed and Earth is safe from their invasion!”

I turned back to Millie Drake. She had recovered somewhat. Her beautiful eyes were clear and there was a faint winsome smile on her lovely young face. She handed back my handkerchief. It was stained with her blood. I kissed it like an holy relic before returning it to my jacket pocket.

Mille Drake then stood up and I held her tightly, comfortingly, lovingly, as she trembled slightly in my arms. …

Later that evening, Millie and I were back in our suite at the Four Seasons, seated on the sofa after having enjoyed a welcome repast of spaghetti and hot coffee. I scanned her thoroughly with the transonic turnscrew.

“The system is showing that you now have a fully Algolite physique,” I informed her. “All bodily functions are proper to one who is fully a Watcher, most likely Daemonian or Daemai. However, the specific powers you manifested should not return. They were a one-time thing to signify the activation of your apparently-Algolitish heritage. Except in a very few circumstances, only members of the Absolute Convention can have such powers, due to their link to the Outermost Barrier. They were at one time available to Kosmikos operatives as an auxiliary function, but proved to be far too dangerous. None the less, love, you are now as much of a Watcher of Algol as am I!”

“But how, Daniel?” she enquired. “If I’m an alien, how did I never know it? How did I get here?”

“I have never met your parents, Millie,” I confessed. “Can you tell me about them?”

“I… I don’t know,” stammered the lass. “I can’t… I can’t remember my parents. I just remember being an actress and meeting you when you were asked to be technical advisor on that local science fiction film I was in.”

“Yes, I remember. It was as if I had always known you somehow.”

“I felt the same way,” agreed Millie. “Like I knew from the first moment that we would… be together.”

“It was an Algolitish meeting of minds,” I explained. “The unique mentalist abilities of our people; the legendary psychic contact of the Watchers.”

“But who were my family then? Even if they were Watchers of Algol, why can’t I remember them?”

“Well, it could be…” I stopped in sudden realisation. “Of course! Your surname! ‘Drake’! As in DRACO! Millie… you are most likely a descendant of one of the twelve lost spies who infiltrated the Draconian uprising and then had to go into hiding in unknown parts of the Universe. They would have even had to mentally mask their essences, and to alter their DNA in order to avoid detection. They disappeared; never heard from again -- until know!”

“Twelve lost spies?” she queried. “Twelve? That’s my age, you know. Could that have something to do with it?”

“Possibly, since that is the age that you physically appear to be. But realise, Millie, that as an Algolite you are actually ageless. You could really be any age whatsoever, and you need never appear any older than you do right now. Actually, the sudden manifestation of your extraterrestrial heritage was likely the result of our… activities here last night.”

“You mean you popped my Algolite cherry?” giggled the girl.

“Do not be vulgar,” I smiled. “It would be more proper to say that I initiated your Algolitish puberty.”

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “This is too much! It’s scary in a way, but it’s also so… wonderful!”

“Indeed it is, Mills, my dearest,” I agreed as I took the lovely little lass into my comforting arms and kissed her luscious hot-pink lips.

“I love you so much, Daniel,” she admitted sweetly.

“I love you too, Millie,” I said whilst gazing into her gorgeous violet eyes.

“I’m so happy,” she cooed. “But it’s all so much. I can’t go on just being a ‘movie star’ after knowing this! What should I do now?”

“You will have much to learn; much to experience; indeed, much to remember,” I counselled. “It is an entirely new world for you. All of Space, all of Time. I promise to always be there to help you, my love. As Watchers, the crossroad of eternity and infinity is our playground, and also our responsibility. Millie Drake -- you are an Algolite!!!”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “THE FINAL GAME”

SHUT UP AND DANCE

It was long after midnight when the strange light streaked across the sky over the city of Baltimore, Maryland. No one paid any particular attention to it as it splashed into the waters of the harbour just offshore of the Locust Point neighbourhood. It was just one of those late night happenings that go unnoticed in a city already beleaguered by crime, violence, and corruption.

Shortly after this, Casmir Grimsom strolled out of the backdoor of a local “all ages” discothèque known by the name of “Shut Up and Dance”, as the neon sign on the building’s façade proclaimed. He was the club’s owner, middle-aged and dark-haired, clad in a polo shirt and slacks.

Cas Grimsom was annoyed at having to put up with being a nightclub entrepreneur in order to earn a living. The joint had been denied a liquor licence by the city due to Grimsom’s criminal record (some charges related to possession of narcotics many years earlier). He had thought this meant the enterprise was doomed until the club’s disc-jockey, Vince, had made the suggestion that they just not serve alcohol and make the disco open to patrons of all ages. Having no other options, Grimsom had agreed to this.

Of course, Cas Grimsom had assumed that Vince liked the “all ages” idea because it would facilitate his meeting young girls. He had been disillusioned of this one night when he discovered Vince in his DJ booth with his trousers down around his ankles and an underage boy kneeling in front of him. But whatever.

Grimsom walked down to the waterfront, glad to be away from the pulsing music and flashing disco lights of the club. He was worried about expenses, and realised that once again profits had only barely been enough to pay expenses for the month.

It was when Cas Grimsom was musing over whether he should get back into the narcotics trade when he was distracted by something odd. He noticed that just offshore, from deep under the waters of the Baltimore Harbour was a pulsating light far stranger than anything that any discotheque had ever seen. It was a sickly, pale sea-green in colour, and seemed to move with a bizarrely-organic life of its own.

Grimsom stood at the very edge of the water and squinted in an attempt to see what it was. He noticed a disturbance at the surface of the harbour, as if something were about to emerge. Then, Casmir Grimsom, former drug pusher and now struggling nightclub owner, knew an horror beyond anything from this world -- an horror of eldritch darkness and of something out of the unspeakably vast gulfs of Space. For at that very moment a long tapering tentacle merged from the water and wrapped itself around his throat. Before he could even cry out, Grimsom’s body was devastated by a powerful electrical charge that took his life away. The hideous tentacle then dragged him into the harbour, his corpse disappearing quickly beneath the surface. …

My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Extraterrestrial Espionage Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in fact several thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- the most intellectually-advanced race in all of the known galaxies, whose technology is so sophisticated it often appears to be “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. “Plausible deniability”, and all that.

Currently assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. I am the living icon of Algol upon this world. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

I ran down the sidewalk in downtown Baltimore, holding the transonic turnscrew -- an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen. I was chasing a homeless person, a scruffy, grey-bearded man in rags who was possessed by Shaitans.

Now, the Shaitans are disembodied life essences of the race of evil beings that once inhabited the now-lost planet Eblis, which had orbited in the area of what is now the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. They had been active recently as a side-effect of the activities of my archenemy, Don Wingus, in his attempts to harness the powers of a certain other ancient evil. The details of this plan, and of the things I had to do in order to stop it, are found as a part of that entry in my case-files which is entitled “Voodoo Child”.

Following the abatement of the plans of the wicked Wingus, I had been left with the task of cleaning up the remaining Shaitan spirits, after tracking down the several individuals who had suffered cases of possession from them. This homeless beggar was the last of them.

So there I was, hurrying down the street chasing an hobo whilst clad in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket. I had programmed the transonic turnscrew with a recording of the proper exorcism sequence to cast out the evil spirits, and now aimed it directly at the afflicted individual before activating it.

The man shuddered and then fell to the ground. I then beheld a stream of ebon-black entities exit his form, letting forth a cacophonous howling sound before vanishing into the void. The exorcism was complete.

I checked on the poor homeless chap. He was asleep, snoring steadily as if in just another alcohol-induced stupor. The few passers-by who had even noticed our brief melee had already returned to their own concerns. It was just another evening in the big city.

I immediately walked back to the parking garage where I had left my car. I paid the attendant and got into the vehicle, my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster affectionately known as “Lizzie”. Another assignment awaited me, an assignment concerning a possible alien ship splashing down in the Baltimore Harbour just offshore of the Locust Point area. My instruments had detected its presence the night before, but had been unable to determine the ship’s origin. Was it a potentially-hostile force, an invasion, a group of extraterrestrial conquerors intent on enslaving or wiping out the human race? This is what I had to determine and, if so, take appropriate actions to protect the planet Earth from any menace.

I appropriately drove Lizzie to-wards the establishment closest to where the alien ship had been detected, a discotheque that went by the name of “Shut Up and Dance”. …

At that same time, in the cellar below the dance club, old Reuben had come to work early. Reuben, the elderly African-American man who did janitorial duties there, usually did not come in until it was near closing time. He had arrived sooner this night in order to enjoy a supper of fried chicken wings that he had picked up at a local Chinese take-away.

Reuben had just sat down to his meal, with the loud dance-music of the club clearly heard from overhead, when he noticed something odd. There was a strange flashing from the near by electrical room. He got up to investigate.

What Reuben beheld when he walked through the door of the electrical room was bizarre indeed. It was the disco’s owner, Cas Grimsom, standing with his hands grasping a mass of exposed wiring and allowing the energy to flow directly into his body!

“Mr. Grimsom!” exclaimed old Reuben. “What’s you doin’? You can’t do that! You’ll be hurtin’ youself!”

Grimsom then let go of the wiring and turned to face Reuben.

“Whuuuh…” stammered the old man. “What’s wrong, Mr. Grimsom? What’s that in you eyes?!”

Grimsom’s eyes were indeed glowing with a sickly sea-green effulgence as he reached forth his hands and grasped Reuben’s head between them. The old janitor let out a brief scream of pain before the electrical shock from Cas Grimsom’s hands took the life from him. …

I entered Shut Up and Dance, finding it to be the common type of teen discotheque that have remained in existence since their heyday in the 1970s, the only real change being the addition of laser-lighting to the usual flashing strobes. The music was a throbbing, bass-heavy rhythm accompanied by synthesisers and the occasional funky guitar, overlaid with vocalisms filled with a preponderance of heavy breathing and numerous sexual innuendos.

There were fewer than twenty patrons. A smattering of them were girls, but they were mostly men and boys of a decidedly homosexual caste. Some were on the dance floor, others lounging around the bar or tables.

I walked over to the bar and sat down next to a particularly attractive young girl with dusky hair. The bartender came over, a rather grotesque bottle-blonde whose tight black dress only served to highlight the fact that she was way past her expiration date.

“I shall have a vanilla cola,” I said, “and please give the young lady another of whatever she is having.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the girl, tilting her head with a look of joyful surprise. “You’re so thoughtful.”

The lass was exceedingly lovely, apparently of Middle Eastern origin, with honey-coloured skin and deep tawny eyes. Her hair shone like licorice in the flashing disco lights. She was barely in her teens, and the short, navy-blue dress she was wearing showed off the slender curves of her newly-pubescent figure.

“No worries, love,” I replied. “I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos. Just call me ‘Doctor’.”

“I’m Jasira,” she replied in her sweetly-accented tenor.

The bartender brought our drinks; the girl’s being a grape soda.

“‘Jasira’, did you say?” I addressed the lovely teen. “That is a beautiful name.”

“Thank you,” said the nymphet, sipping her drink with her luscious cherry-red lips. “It’s Jasira Ibrahim. My family is from Turkey, and my parents and I just moved here a couple of years ago. My dad is Muslim and my mom is Christian, so we had to leave our old country to escape bigotry.”

“Understandable,” I sympathised. “Religious persecution is particularly unpleasant. In fact, of all the reasons that humans employ as excuses to hate each other, I have always thought the worst to be disputes over how to properly address the Almighty.”

“So, you’re a doctor?” Jasira queried. “Are you a physician? A scientist?”

“Actually, I am an extraterrestrial secret agent here on a mission to investigate a possible invasion of your planet by hostile alien forces,” I confessed.

“You’re funny,” giggled the girl. “I like that.”

Just then, we were interrupted by a man coming up behind us. He was middle-aged, dark-haired, and rather pale of complexion. He was clad in a grey polo shirt and black slacks.

“Welcome to ‘Shut Up and Dance’, kids,” he addressed us with what appeared to be a rather forced smile. “I’m the owner, Cas Grimsom. I hope you have a good time tonight.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” replied Jasira.

‘Yes, thanks for your hospitality, Mr. Grimsom,” I added. “This seems like a very interesting establishment you have here. I…”

Whilst addressing Grimsom, I had turned to face him, Upon beholding me thus, his countenance had fallen somewhat, and from his eyes had briefly flashed a weird sea-green glow. Without uttering another word, he quickly turned and walked away.

I turned back to my drink and resumed chatting with the girl, all the while secretly contemplating the implications of the oddity that I had just experienced.

A few minutes later, there was a sudden power outage. The music ceased and the room was plunged into darkness save for the red glow of the emergency exit signs. I heard the patrons utter groans of disappointment as they made their ways to the door.

I turned back to the girl, but she was gone as well. I felt a feeling of disappointment, as I had hoped to get to know her much better. Nevertheless, I supposed it was good that she had left, as I perceived that there was danger here, danger that I alone would be prepared to face.

I took a small electric torch from my pocket and began to explore the now-quiet nightclub. The bartender and whatever other staff the establishment employed had apparently exited as well. I was just about to begin making a scan for alien technology when it happened.

For it was at that very moment the door leading to the disco’s basement area burst open, broken clear off its hinges by the shambling otherworldly horror that emerged from it. The thing was about four feet tall and five in width. It had slimy flesh of a sickly sea-green hue, and at its top and centre glowed one great eye fully as large as an human head. From it waved eight horrid tentacles, writhing continuously in obscene eldritch animation.

I stood there as this hideous alien horror continued to creep to-wards me!

“So, who might you be then?” I addressed the creature. “Squid Vicious? The Octodad? Ah, I know! Grimsom the Jegrodis!”

“You know of our kind?” suddenly responded the monstrosity, its voice an indescribable low-pitched screech.

“Enough to know that you must be finally losing that interminable war with the Dojjolye,” I replied. “Nothing else would bring you to Earth. Your ship was damaged in battle and you crash-landed here, hmmm? Your race feed upon electricity. That is what brought about this power outage, eh? You planned to absorb enough to then go back and share with your comrades who are repairing the ship.”

“You are correct,” affirmed the Jegrodis. “Your knowledge proves that you are not of this planet.”

“I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos of Algol,” I admitted. “You recognised me as not being a local when you were disguised as the owner. Yes, I know that you Jegrodis have rudimentary shape-shifting abilities. I also know you have to kill the person first in order to create a psyche-physical mockery of their DNA sequence. Your unexpected encounter with me disturbed your concentration, causing you to shift back to your natural appearance.”

Just then, the door of the disc-jockey booth burst open and a very young and nearly-nude boy emerged from it. He struggled into his clothing whilst running out of the front entrance of the club. Behind him was a man in his mid-thirties, tall and thin with sandy hair. He was shirtless, and strolled non-chalantly out of the booth whilst buckling the belt of his jeans. He was facing the wrong direction to see the monstrous Jegrodis.

“Oh, hi. I’m Vince, the DJ here,” he lisped. “What’s going on with the power failure? Is it… ?”

By this time, Vince had turned just enough to observe the octopoid alien. The pederastic DJ then shrieked a brief shriek of utter terror before the deadly tentacles reached out and grasped him, fast filling his form with an electrical charge that left him a charred, blackened corpse. …

Unbeknownst to me, at that same moment was occurring something that would have an effect on my future, forsooth an effect of lasting and ongoing importance. For at that time, in a secret location somewhere in the State of Maryland, a scene of bizarre consequence was occurring.

Upon the wall of the room, which was furnished in antique Victorian splendour, was a symbol made up of three interlocking triangles -- the horrid sigil of that occult terrorist organisation known to ungodly infamy as Spectral Paranormal!

Before this unholy sign was seated a man in a large chair resembling a throne, He was dressed in a black satin suit also of 19th Century fashion. His face was like unto one of middle years, still showing signs of handsome distinction despite being marred with the effects of lifetimes of absolute profligate evil and wickedness beyond all sane imagining. His hair was long and dark, and his countenance was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with the look of an irresistibly hypnotic gaze.

“Master, what is your will?” enquired the one attending him, a short, rather obese man of about thirty, his hair and unkempt beard both the colour of excrement. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt advertising some trashy “doom metal” band.

“My will concerns you, Matt Macklin, my servant,” returned the evil one, his voice dripping with absolute satanic arrogance. “It concerns a part you shall play in the upcoming plan, the plan that shall at last bring about that for which Spectral Paranormal was founded, and that shall establish my absolute power for all of eternity.”

“Oh yes, Master! I hear you and obey.”

“Drop your trousers and bend over, Macklin. The time has come for you to receive my glorious essence.”

“Yes, Master!” exclaimed Matt Macklin as he hurried to obey. “Oh yes!”

“Soon the final game will begin,” intoned the dark lord, as he unzipped himself and took his position behind Macklin. “The girl-loving pervert Daniel Rumanos shall be destroyed, and I, Master Don Wingus, will at long last take my rightful place as supreme ruler of all existence!!” …

Back at the discotheque, I stood still facing the horrid Jegrodis. The thing was glowing its sickly green electric glow after having killed Vince the resident homosexual disc-jockey.

“Jegrodis, I am giving you one chance only,” I insisted. “You and your kind must stop this outrage and leave the planet Earth in peace. I cannot allow you to continue to drain its energies and murder its inhabitants.”

“You cannot stand against our power,” claimed the monster. “I have discovered that this world has much of the resources we require. When I return to my comrades, we will inform Jegrodis Central Command of this fact. Soon entire battalions of our warriors will be here, and we will use this world as a feeding place and as a base from which we will achieve final victory over the accursed Dojjolye Star Empire!”

Suddenly, from the bar area came to noise of shattering glass.

“Bismillah!” came the sound of a feminine voice as Jasira Ibrahim slid out on the floor from behind the bar. She had been hiding there since the beginning of the power outage, but had slipped from her crouching position on a wet spot of spilled beverage, thus upsetting a line of glasses as she attempted to reach out and steady herself.

Jasira then looked up and fully beheld the Jegrodis for the first time. The poor wee lass let forth a scream of absolute horror as the creature’s eight slimy tentacles reached their deadly lengths out to-wards her!!

Do you perceive the terror, the extreme unnameable fear of this situation, dear readers? That alien monstrosity, the electrified octopus-like horror known as a Jegrodis, was reaching out its potentially-lethal tentacles to-wards the helpless young girl!

I took the transonic turnscrew from the pocket of my jacket and straightway aimed it at the Jegrodis. As I activated the proper setting, the horrid monstrosity shuddered and quaked, its unspeakably-dangerous tentacles stopping mere inches from the terrified damsel. The glow from the creature then gradually subsided, and I saw the thing begin to shrink away into nothingness until all that was left of it was a viscid puddle of slime upon the dance floor.

The lights of the discotheque then came back on as I ran over to Jasira, taking the girl comfortingly into my arms as she sobbed quietly.

“It is all right now, love,” I assured her. “I switched the polarisation of the neutronic stream, draining the power from the Jegrodis and putting it back into the electrical system of the club.”

“Doctor, you were telling the truth!” cried Jasira. “About aliens and all that! I thought… I thought you were joking!”

“Oh, I never joke about alien monsters,” I told her. “Well, I do sometimes make fun of them a bit. It helps to take the pressure off.”

The lovely young lady laughed slightly at this, and I knew that she was going to be fine.

“Why did you stay, Jasira?” I enquired.

“I don’t know,” said the little teenage beauty. “I guess I just… I wanted to be near you.”

At that moment there was a sound. It was a sound as of the high-pitched wine of an huge engine, combined with the splashing sound of something emerging from the water.

“What is that, Doctor?” asked the girl.

“That, love, is the Jegrodis ship emerging from the harbour,” I explained. “I cannot allow it to escape or they will just go elsewhere to drain electricity -- and likely also to murder more innocent people!”

“But what can you do?” asked the gorgeous Arab girl. “Do you have a way to stop them?”

I looked up at the disco lights and a thought straightway occurred to me.

“Of course!” I realised. “The possibility is all right here! If I can manage to combine and boost the energy of these lights amplified by stimulated emission radiation sequencers, I can then proceed to focus them into the equivalent of a laser cannon! It will be a bit crude, but it should just work!”

I lifted the transonic turnscrew to-wards the ceiling, activating it to fuse together the power of the various laser-lights and to increase them by a forced rerouting through wires to the filaments of the largest disco bulbs.

“Now, I just have to set it to focus directly upon the alien ship,” I said, changing the transonic to another frequency. “Ah, done! We had better leave the building, Jasira. Just in case they get a chance to fire back!”

I took the girl’s hand in mine and we ran out the front door into the city night.

“Doctor, look at that!” shouted the little beauty as she beheld what was occurring above the Baltimore Harbour.

Steadily rising higher above the water was an huge rectangular shaped object, glowing with its sickly sea-green hue.

“The Jegrodis ship,” I affirmed. “It is in range, so the laser should be activating any second now!”

From the neon sign proclaiming “Shut Up and Dance” there now shot force a bright, sharply-focused laser beam that hit the Jegrodis spaceship. The craft soon exploded with a loud crackling noise and a tremendous flash of light. The glare then quickly cleared, showing that the ship had been completely obliterated. The only sounds were the cries of a few annoyed seagulls.

“A direct hit! Well, that should certainly be the end of that,” said I. “Strange creatures, the Jegrodis. Their ships are like massive fish-tanks… or rather, octopi-tanks.” 

“Doctor!” suddenly cried Jasira with distress. “I can’t see! I’ve gone blind!”

“Worry not, love,” I assured her. “It is just a temporary effect from seeing the flash from the ship exploding. My Algolitish vision prevents me from suffering the same. It should clear up if you just blink a few times.”

She did so, fluttering her lovely eyelashes until her eyes focused upon me.

“Is it all right now?” I queried.

“Yes,” she answered with a sigh of relief. “I can see again now.”

I looked closely at Jasira Ibrahim and noticed something new, something that was now different about the beautiful Arabian girl.

“I say, your eyes have changed colour,” I informed her.

“Huh?” she stammered. “Really?”

“Yes, it is a more permanent effect of the flash,” I explained.

“What colour are they?” she enquired.

“Blue,” I answered. “I must say, it is quite fetching. Though you are indeed a ravishingly-lovely young lady in any event.”

With this, little Jasira smiled a wonderful smile and put up no resistance as I pulled her close, right there at the waterfront on that fateful night. The teen beauty put her arms around my neck and trembled with pleasure whilst I clasped her gorgeous young figure against me and passionately kissed her hot, cherry-red lips. …

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “THE VIOLATION”