VOODOO CHILD

I had gotten a call from my special friend, Miss Kitty Parn. Her neighbours had asked her to look after their son, four-year-old Billy, whilst they spent the evening at the cinema. Kitty had been happy to oblige, and had begun the evening by doing her homework whilst the young boy slept. However, the relative peace of the young girl’s first job as a babysitter was suddenly ended when she went to check on her charge -- and beheld him levitating several feet above his bed!

This, along with an ungodly odour that smelled like a mixture of rotten eggs and excrement, and a strangely far-off howling sound, convinced Kitty Parn that something quite out-of-the-ordinary was indeed occurring. The girl had immediately telephoned me, knowing from some former adventures we had experienced together that I was one of the few who would have any idea how to deal with such strange phenomena.

I hurried over to the suburban home located in the Timonium area of Baltimore County, driving my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) and dressed in my usual finery -- including a frilled poet shirt and my favourite purple velvet dinner jacket.

Kitty Parn had met me at the door. She was even more beautiful than I had remembered; petite and perfect with rich auburn hair and eyes the deepest shade of blue; her skin as the purest white of alabaster. She was clad in a cream-coloured halter top and powder-blue miniskirt. After warning her to stay in the living room, I entered the young boy’s bedroom and began speaking the appropriate rite of exorcism. You see, I had immediately recognised young Billy’s trouble as the latest of a series of possessions I had been encountering recently; possessions by the Shaitans, those disembodied spirits of the horrid race of beings that had at one time inhabited the now-lost planet Eblis. Exactly why this series of Shaitanic infestations was occurring I had as yet not determined. It was as if it were a side-reaction to something; something big and horrendously dangerous on levels physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Something approaching. Something that had as yet not revealed its true import.

Billy rose up and glowered at me, his eyes glowing ebon-black with the force of the demoniacal control. I spoke the final words of the ancient exorcism formula:

“By the power of Allah-ha-Shem, the Maker of Worlds, I do cast you out!!”

With this, the hideous host of black Shaitan spirits issued forth from the lad, and, giving forth a noise like unto the baying of a thousand infernal curs, immediately vanished -- condemned by my rite to the inter-dimensional prison that is known as Hell or Gehenna. 

“Weird adventures in babysitting,” said I.

After the last echo of this horror had faded away, I checked on Billy. He had returned to normal and was sleeping peacefully. I covered him with his blanket before returning to join Kitty Parn in the living room.

The girl was watching television (some animated children’s show) whilst munching on popcorn out of a large plastic bag. She turned around expectantly when I entered, a look of intrigue in her lovely eyes.

“Did you do it, Doctor?” she enquired. “Are they gone?”

“Yes, love,” I assured her. “The demonic forces have been exorcised, and all is now well.”

“Cool!” she exclaimed. “Will you sit down now and watch TV with me?”

Unable to resist the exquisitely lovely tweenager, I took a seat on the sofa. Kitty immediately slinked herself onto my lap.

I kissed the girl softly a few times on her cheek and neck. She giggled and I felt her warm figure move slightly as with increasing desire whilst she sat against me. I took a piece of popcorn from the bag and held it in front of her pretty face, focusing on the cherry-red sweetness of her luscious lips.

“Here,” I teased. “Let me put this in your mouth.”

“That’s what you always say,” smiled the little beauty. …

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 was still cuddling with Kitty Parn, kissing her softly on her lovely lips whilst my hands explored the slender curves of her pubescent pulchritude, her bare skin glistening in the light from the television whilst my desire again firmly arose, when something being said on the broadcast suddenly grabbed my attention. The programme had changed, and it was now some local news show about happenings at an inner city church.

“The atmosphere is exciting here at West Baltimore Covenant Church tonight,” announced the thin, suit-wearing African-American newsman. “We are waiting for the excavation that will in just a few minutes uncover this wall, behind which is rumoured to be relics of a former congregation’s delving into the dark arts of voodoo!”

“Wait a minute!” I said, suddenly tearing myself away from what was obviously turning into another passionate embrace with the girl. “Did he say ‘voodoo’?!”

“Earlier today,” continued the announcer, “we spoke with Reverend Sematerie, the current pastor of this church. We asked him about his opinion, as a man of the cloth, about the strange magic said to have once been practiced here, which is said to have involved the worship of a mysterious ‘serpent-god’.”

The broadcast then changed to a pre-recorded video of a microphone being held up to the face of a man in a clerical collar. His countenance was as of one of middle years, his visage still quite handsome despite being somewhat marred with the effects of lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness. His hair was dark and rather long, and his face was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with a diabolically-hypnotic gaze.

“Hey, isn’t that…?!” stammered Kitty

“Don Wingus!” I verified. “So he did escape from Edalpo. I should have known he had something to do with the recent increase in demonic activity!”

“We do not believe in voodoo,” stated Wingus in his guise as Rev. Sematerie. “Such things have no power in the world today. However, I am sure the little archaeological dig we have helped to fund will be of great enjoyment for your viewers. We hope they will remember it was brought to you by West Baltimore Covenant Church, Charm City’s most truly dedicated…”

“I need to get over there right away, Kitty!” I said, interrupted the fake pastor’s spiel as I stood up and quickly retrieved what I had removed of my clothing, having to extricate it from the tangle of the girl’s discarded skirt and top. “I do not know as yet what exactly Wingus is up to, but his evil must be stopped! I…”

“Hey, what they hell is going on here?” shouted an angry male voice from the front door. This query was accompanied by a woman’s scream.

I turned and beheld the man and woman, obviously little Billy’s parents having returned early from their cinema outing and shocked to find an unknown man in their home where they had only left the young girl to look after their child -- the same young girl who was now lying nude upon their sofa! …

At that same time, at west Baltimore Covenant Church, the news broadcast had continued.

“And the excavators are breaking through the wall now,” said the newsman. “Soon we will see if the secret room really contains evidence of voodoo worship and…”

His voice was suddenly cut short by an uprising of wind and rain, a sudden squall with near-hurricane like conditions. The broadcast would have to stop, and it would be officially attributed to one of the small but severe sudden storms that sometimes occur in the Mid-Atlantic region. …

Nevertheless, the true cause of this tempest was something else indeed. For at that moment, in a secret and lofty cellar beneath the church, was gathered a group of worshippers; worshippers not of any deity of goodness but rather worshippers of unspeakable satanic evil. There were twelve of them, and they all wore black, hooded ceremonial robes as they stood before a stone altar upon which were numerous black candles and an incense burner upon which were heaped unlawful herbs.

Standing before them all was Don Wingus, alias “Rev. Sematerie”, clad in his own black ceremonial vestment upon which was embroidered an inverted pentagram.

“Come forth, O great one!” chanted Wingus as he spread out his hands in unholy supplication. "Come forth, O serpent god and grant me thy power! Come forth, ancient dragon of lore! I, Master Don Wingus, by my rights do call thee to come forth! Come forth, horned snake from a distant star! Come forth, O Damballah!!”

It was then that all hell broke loose, the storm outside being a mere side-effect. For in this chamber, above the altar of blasphemous madness, began to be descried the nebulous shape of a gigantic serpent, glowing with an ebony-blackness beyond any darkness known to the world of rational sanity!

Looking upon this, the evil Don Wingus laughed a mirthless laugh of triumph and of unnameable wickedness.

Then, it was over as quickly as it began. Outside of the church, the news crew had already left the area when the storm subsided. In the secret chamber, the image of the horrid serpent faded from sight.

“The Lord Damballah has blessed us with his image,” announced Don Wingus to his followers. “He will return later tonight at our second summoning. That he may stay and bless me with his supreme power, we must prepare an offering for him! Hear me and obey!”

“We hear and obey, Master,” repeated the cult. “We hear and obey.” …

Kitty and I had hurriedly dressed and exited to avoid questioning from Billy’s parents. The girl had insisted upon staying with me, despite the dangers of my mission. She had more dreaded having to face her own family if they heard about what had occurred, and thought it would be best to stay away for a while until things calmed down over the matter.

We raced in my car, Lizzie, to the inner city area of Baltimore. It was just around midnight, and the particular neighbourhood to which we were going was rather deserted at this hour, due to concerns about street crime.

“So, what is it, Doctor?” Kitty asked along the way. “What is this voodoo thing about?”

“The ‘voodoo serpent god’ is Damballah,” I explained. “In reality, Damballah is an extraterrestrial, one of the Snakepeople of the constellation Draco. Many aeons ago, Damballah led an uprising among the Draconians, believing that they should leave behind their peaceful ways and become conquerors, as legend said their most distant ancestors had been. He had a dream of establishing an empire across the Galaxy. My people, the Watchers of Algol, of course opposed this. A network of twelve spies was sent from our planet, disguised as Space-going traders, to infiltrate and sabotage the rebel Draconians led by Damballah; but they found more than they bargained for. It appears that Damballah had managed to reactivate within himself some ancient serpent powers found deeply in the psyche of his race. They were dangerous and incredibly potent ‘psychic-spiritual’ abilities, forsooth abilities that the Draconians had suppressed by their philosophy of peace. The Algolite spies were nearly discovered, and, in order to keep Damballah from finding a way to integrate our technology into his own powerbase, and unable to return to Algol without alerting the serpent of our opposition to him, they gave up their own inherent powers as Watchers and went into hiding, scattered throughout the Galaxy. They have never been heard from since.

“Following this, the Draconian government secretly partnered with the Absolute Convention of Algol to defeat the Damballah rebellion. All of his cohorts were killed in the ensuing battle, but Damballah himself escaped. We later ascertained that he had come to Earth and set himself up as the ‘serpent god’ later remembered by so many religious traditions: The Midgard of the Norsemen, the Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs, and the one of the Afro-Caribbean voodoo traditions. After a time, his influenced waned. We hoped he was dead, but it has always been known that he could have just been in a slumber, a slumber lasting for many thousand of years. As such, Damballah would by now be near the end of his natural lifespan anyway, and would be looking for someone to whom he could pass on his power.”

“Oh  my God!” exclaimed the girl. “Do you think that Don Wingus is trying to become that person? "

“Horribly enough, that is likely the case,” I replied. “If my old foe Wingus has discovered the slumber-place of Damballah beneath that church, he could very well be planning to acquire the serpent-power as part of his own bid to conquer the world!”

Just then, something bizarre occurred. Lizzie’s engine suddenly sputtered and died!

“What on Daemonia!” I exclaimed. “What could have happened to overcome the special modifications I have made to Lizzie? Her engines should be invulnerable to anything.. Well, anything from this planet!”

“Do you think this ‘serpent’ thing could have affected her?” queried Kitty.

“It seems likely, love,” I said. “Here, let me check.”

I left the driver’s seat and opened the car’s bonnet, then taking the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen) from my pocket, I did a quick engine scan.

“Yes, that seems to be it,” I announced. “If I can boost the fuel intake through the auxiliary guidance circuitry, I should be able to repair…”

“Doctor!” suddenly exclaimed Kitty, who had stayed in the passenger’s seat. “Look out!”

I stood up straight and whirled around just in time to behold several individuals in black, hooded robes approaching us down the city street. Before I could react, one of them raised his hand and sent forth a crimson blast of energy directly at me!

In immense pain from the intensity of the sudden attack, I felt my consciousness start to slip away.

“That is the power of the alien mind parasite that Don  Wingus formerly introduced to some of his followers,” I said to myself, attempting to stay awake. “A few of them must have survived, and are now part of this ‘voodoo’ cult.”

Forcing away the pain and making myself stand erect. I aimed the transonic turnscrew at the cultist who had blasted me, then activated a certain setting on the device.

The cultist, along with two of his cohorts, shuddered and cringed. I saw their faces begin to rapidly age.

“I have been ready for this since my last encounter with the mind parasite,“ I told them. “The transonic is tuned to the frequency with which it has attached itself to your brains. As I force it through its natural life cycle, it tales you with it to old age and death.”

The faces of the three cultists soon rotted away into skulls, and then I soon saw their entire bodies crumble away into dust.

Nevertheless, there were a couple of other cultists who had not been among those affected by the alien parasite. One of these had sneaked up behind me and was just about to deliver a blow to the back of my head. I turned just in time, delivering a Daemonian jujitsu move that sent him crashing to the ground unconscious.

“Kitty,” I said, “we need to…”

I stopped short in horror when I saw the empty passenger’s seat. I looked around frantically in all directions, but there was no sign of her. Kitty Parn was missing!!

Do you recognise the extreme terror of this situation, dear readers? That helpless young girl, the beautiful Miss Kitty Parn, was gone -- obviously having been kidnapped by members of the voodoo cult of Damballah!

All was quiet on the street as I straightway drove my car, having quickly finished the repairs, to the location of West Baltimore Covenant Church. The huge neo-Gothic edifice of the building loomed before me as if itself part of some eldritch dread from another time.

I parked Lizzie and entered the church, finding its interior to be only dimly lighted by a few streetlamps shining through the stained-glass windows. I began to look around, searching for a passageway, an hidden door, something, anything that could serve to give me entrance into whatever hidden ceremonial chamber Don Wingus, alias “Rev. Sematerie”, was utilising for his horrible attempt to raise up the Draconian horror known as Damballah. This was the ritual of satanic fear that I hoped to prevent -- especially since I realised that the cult had kidnapped Kitty Parn in order to make the poor wee lass take an important (if unwilling) part in that hideous and utterly-mad ceremony!

As I explored the interior of the church, I was suddenly aware of the presence of a force, a power otherworldly. I felt it rising and seemed to hear around me a sound as of the hissing of serpents, and to feel the sensation as of the coils of these creatures surrounding me! …

Below the church, in the hidden ritual chamber, Don Wingus resumed his unholy chant as the power continued to grow around him. The remaining members of his cult stood in obeisance, all of their attention focused at what was on the altar -- young Miss Kitty Parn, helpless and in a swoon, as Wingus held aloft over her form a cruel ceremonial dagger!

“O great Damballah,” intoned the villain, “accept this sacrifice and come forth to grant me thy power! O serpent god of the magic of voodoo! Lost greatness of the Draconians! By the blood and life of this child I do bring thee forth!!”

And with this, the evil Don Wingus plunged the sacrificial knife to-wards the heart of the defenceless young girl!!!

Just in time, the form of little Kitty slid off the altar, causing the ritual blade of Don Wingus to clatter uselessly upon its stone surface.

I held the girl in my arms (having pulled her by her leg) and felt her start to revive from her swoon.

“Doctor,” she gasped, “what happened?”

“Fortunately, I was able to follow the presence of the serpent power to this location,” I told her, “and not a moment too soon!”

“You have done nothing, Rumanos,” sneered Wingus as the powers continued to swirl around the satanic chamber. “Damballah shall still come forth! He will just be angry that you have deprived him of the proper offering! The calling has been effective, for the hour is three, and you know what that means!”

“Time to go cruising for eighth graders?” I supposed.

“No, you nympholeptic nuisance,” snarled Wingus. “Not three PM; three AM! Ayy-Emm! The true ‘witching hour’!”

“Of course. The time that most humans are asleep, therefore clearing the psychic ‘airwaves’ for the most effective inter-dimensional callings.”

“Exactly! Now, listen and see, as Damballah comes forth!!”

Indeed, at that very moment the rising power reached a crescendo, and, coming into view above the blasphemous altar was the hideously-nigrescent shape of the serpent god himself! The phantasmagorical form grew strong and clear, and then the dark, deep, hissing voice of Damballah himself filed the chamber.

“Who has dared to call forth the greatest of the Draconians?!” he bellowed. “I am Damballah, and I may only be summoned by one worthy to receive my power!”

“It is I who have called thee, O great serpent god,” announced Wingus, "I, the Reverend Sematerie, leader of the rites of voodoo! I, Master Don Wingus of Algol!!”

“You are in truth not of this planet,” returned Damballah. “You are superior to them and indeed could use my power wisely.”

“I would use it as thee did; to rule over all.”

“That is the correct statement,” approved the Draconian serpent. “However, there is another here who is not of this world. Perhaps he would wish to have my power?”

“No!” I exclaimed, knowing it was obviously me to whom he referred. “I do not want the power! Why can you not leave the people of Earth in peace, Damballah? Why must you have someone to continue your attempts at conquest?”

“Because it is what I am!” retorted the horror. “I am the serpent god, bringer of the Draconian Empire, which must endure forever! The dissolution of my physical self is near. I must pass on my power that my imperial greatness shall go on!!”

“Then you will give thy power to me?” enquired Don Wingus expectantly.

“Yes,” affirmed Damballah. “My power -- the power of the serpent god of Draco -- shall be yours!”

“Damballah you cannot do this!” I insisted. “You cannot give the Draconian power to this execrable individual!”

“You would dare to oppose me?!” spat the serpent deity. “I am Damballah! You have already robbed me of the proper offering, and now you would stand in the way of the transfer of power?! That shall not be! For this insolence you now must die!!”

Then something unexpected occurred; something amazing; in sooth, something absolutely wonderful. For at that crucial moment Kitty Parn suddenly ran out from where she had been sheltering behind me.

“No, don’t do it!” screamed the girl. “Don’t hurt the Doctor! He is a good man and he is my friend! I love him! Please don’t hurt him! Take me as a sacrifice if you want, but please don’t hurt the Doctor!”

“What is this?!” shouted Damballah. “This little one would give her life to save another?! That is against all of the most ancient principles of Draco!! This world has become infested with the same contagions of ’love’ and ‘kindness’ as mine did! I have no place here! I have no place… anywhere! No! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

Straightway, at this declaration, the black powers of the serpent imploded upon Damballah. I hurriedly put my arms around Kitty and held her close, using my Algolitish physique to shield her from any backlash of the phantasmal energy. There was a boom like the tolling bell of another world, as of the final passing of a most hoary and ancient evil, and the hideous snake-god then quickly blinked out of view.

The chamber was silent as I looked around. There was no sign of Wingus and his followers.

“What happened, Doctor?” queried Kitty.

“Well, you did, love,” I smiled at the pretty preteen. “Your willingness to sacrifice yourself for another was too much for the evil of Damballah to bear. He simply self-destructed, taking the cult members with him into permanent oblivion.”

“What about Don Wingus?”

“I am not certain,” I pondered. “As an Algolite, it is possible he could have survived the implosion, as I did; and as you did due to my shielding you. None the less, Wingus has weakened some of his Algolitish powers over the centuries by certain misdeeds, so it is also possible that he was swept away along with the humans.”

“I hope so,” said the lass. “He was a bad man. I hoped we’ve seen the last of him.”

I looked at the exquisitely beautiful tweenager, the lovely Kitty Parn. I reached over to stroke her silky hair and kissed her on her luscious hot lips.

“I say, Kitty, it is almost sunrise,” mused I. “What say you we take Lizzie over to the Baltimore Place Hotel? They have an excellent buffet, and after we regale ourselves of that we can check in to their best suite for a much-needed rest.”

“That sounds cool, Doctor,” giggled the girl. “You don’t really want to rest though, do you? After breakfast, wouldn’t it be even better to use the hotel bedroom to get back to more of what we were doing on the sofa earlier?”

“Of course, love,” I agreed as the sexy little lady and I left the church hand-in-hand. “That, after all, is truly the only real magic!”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “SHUT UP AND DANCE”

ALICE DAY

It was a transmission only seen and heard in a very few places, a subspace broadcast that was only sent in desperation by the man who made it -- a man whose face appeared on the blurry video to be that of one in his late-thirties, sandy-haired and handsome despite a rather haggard look obviously born of much recent hardship and turmoil. What could be seen of his clothing, a white coverall garment of a material resembling vinyl, was torn and shredded in several places. His grey eyes narrowed with intensity as he spoke the following:

“This is Agent Lewis Day of the United Earth Space Security Agency, broadcasting from the planet Carrollon concerning our investigation into the mysterious activity rumoured to be occurring here. I have not been able to make a transmission until now. My fellow agents, Twain and Alger, are dead; killed by contact with the poisonous plant-life that infests this planet. Also, at this moment I am being pursued by something far worse, something not native to this world and far more deadly than anything even this jungle hellhole could engender. It is an alien force that is behind the disturbances here. We managed to uncover an entire fleet of spaceships on this planet and our scan identified them as being Mynverkossian. I repeat: We have uncovered an entire fleet of Mynverkossian spaceships entrenched upon the planet Carrollon. They are preparing an invasion! From the intelligence our scans intercepted it appears they are planning to take the fleet to Earth, and may already have spies within the Solar System! It appears that they have invented some sort of secret weapon that they feel will assure their conquest! Repeat: The Mynverkossians are preparing an invasion of Earth! They have detected my presence here and are pursuing me. I will not be able to evade them much longer. Please… please tell my wife and our little girl that I love them both. I wish I could…”

The man’s voice trailed off and his stalwart expression fell somewhat at what he saw. He swallowed the fear down hard and recovered his voice.

“They’ve found me,” he continued. “The Mynverkossian Mutations have found me. Anyone who receives this, please warn Earth! Please inform the Agency and our government officials! It is vital that we are prepared against… !”

His voice was then drowned out by another; an harsh, distorted voice that intoned one horrendously dreadful word:

“ELIMINATE!”

There was a flash of energy, a crimson-red glare of death that surrounded Agent Lewis Day. He convulsed in agony before crumpling lifelessly to the ground.

With this, the transmission ended. …

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, 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!!! …

In the luxury hotel suite was heard a strange moaning, gasping sound as an unusual object appeared there. The object resembled an old “Roman column” but was actually much, much more; for this object was none other than a DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress”) or Dimensional Transport Sphere, an amazingly-advanced Space and Time travel machine created of a technology only available to the Watchers of Algol.

From within the DiTraS (the interior of which exists in another dimension and is of immense size) I stood before the control panel, which was made to resemble the counter of an old-style diner or coffee shop. I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and a purple velvet dinner jacket.

I adjusted the controls, which appear as a series of multicoloured lights and shapes upon the counter, and a large video monitor screen appeared above me. The screen showed the outside of the DiTraS.

“Ah! So it is a Space hotel,” I said to myself, then reading the date displayed at the corner of the screen. “25 April, 3000 AD. Not a bad time. By now, the human race has made peace amongst itself and Earth is one great Free-World government. There are occasional disputes with some of the other species of the Solar System, but nothing of any major threat. According to the archives in the Daemonian Library, humans have by this time actually explored a sizeable portion of the Galaxy, utilising further modification of the ‘Space-Warp’ technology that was invented centuries before. Now, why has the Kosmikos sent me here?”

Indeed, my assignment for the Kosmikos or Cosmic Intervention Department had given very little information, being as it was just a psychic summons to enter the DiTraS (this interrupting a brief holiday that I was enjoying with a couple of beautiful young girls in Atlantic City) with the order to properly deal with the situation that would then be revealed to me. The controls had been set remotely from Kosmikos HQ on Daemonia, and this is where it had taken me -- to an Outer Space hotel circling Earth far beyond the orbit of the Moon.

Deciding there was no time to waste, I exited the DiTraS through the porthole-type doorway that appeared before me. I found myself in the hotel bedroom and heard a yelp of surprise as someone entered the room from behind me.

When I turned around I saw whom it was: a pretty girl of perhaps twelve or thirteen years. She was petite and perfect, with lovely auburn hair and mist-grey eyes. Her skin was of the purest white, and her lips were like lusciously-ripe cherries. She was dressed in a thin, nearly-transparent cream-coloured nightgown that only went down to just below her hips, showing her gorgeously-slender legs. On her feet was a pair of fuzzy pink slippers.

“Who are you?” she enquired. “How’d you get in here?”

“Please do not be afraid, Miss,” I returned. “My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos, and I am an operative for a certain agency that…”

“Oh, I understand!” she interrupted. “You’re from where my dad works. He’s been missing, and I did hope they would send someone. My mom went out a while ago to try and get a meeting with one of the agents. Did she send you here to talk to me?”

I decided it was best to let the wee lass think that to be the case.

“Hey, what’s that?” she queried, pointing to the DiTraS.

“Oh, that is my transport device,” I explained. “It is in disguise.”

“Of course,” she giggled, her smile highlighting the true beauty of her young and innocent face.

“So, you say your father is missing?” I asked her. “Well, I promise I shall do my best to find him, Miss… ?”

“Oh, I forget to tell you my name. To be sure, you know,” she answered blushingly. “I’m Alice. Alice Day.” …

At that same time, so many light-years away, a small Space-going shuttlecraft entered the thick atmosphere of the planet Carrollon. It was of a recent make and design, but from it all insignia and identification markings had been removed. The craft landed silently in the steaming-hot jungle that covers the planet.

An hatchway soon opened in the side of the shuttle, allowing its one occupant to emerge. It was a tall, very heavy-set man dressed in a colourless robe-like garment. He was bald-headed and full-featured, and the slightly orange hue of his skin showed that he had some Jupiterian ancestry despite his obvious Earth-origin.

The man waited impatiently whilst several other beings emerged from the cover of the jungle. They were about the size of an human torso, but that is where their resemblance to any sane creation ended. They hovered about a metre from the ground, and each of them was made up of a mass of quivering sallow tentacles intertwined with strands of metallic material. From deep within each of them, two ebon-black, narrow eyes glowered hatefully. 

“We are the Mynver,” announced the first of them, its voice an harsh, grating, electronically-enhanced noise. “You are Hadd Mettar, President of United Earth?”

“Yes, I am,” answered the man, “and I have brought the shipment of the Liddellium element, as per our deal.”

“That is good,” returned the Mynverkossian Mutation. “The element will be used as planned, to energise our Time Destroyer, that we may use it in our invasion of Earth.”

“And you will keep your side of the bargain?” queried Hadd Mettar. “You will keep me in place as President? "

“Yes. The people of Earth will not be eliminated. They will be made slaves to the Mynver under your continued guidance. However, all humans elsewhere throughout the Galaxy will be eliminated.”

“That is fine,” stated the President. “I have always opposed having people spread out across Space. It makes them impossible to control.”

“A place has been prepared for you here,” continued the Mynver, its horrid voice gradually rising in volume and intensity. “You will be kept safe until we return you to Earth following our conquest. Our ships are ready, and the Time Destroyer will soon be armed with the Liddellium you have provided. It will be used to return the technology of your planet to a more primitive stage, so that there can be no possible resistance to us. Then we, the Mynver, shall prove to all that we are truly the supreme race of all the Universe!” …

I had taken Miss Alice Day aboard the DiTraS and, after a brief and simplified explanation of the inter-dimensional engineering of my ship, had set about attempting to find anything that could be evidence concerning the facts of her father’s disappearance. I set the computer for a search of all audio and video transmissions containing the words “Agent Lewis Day”, an attempt that soon resulted in the message that he had sent via subspace appearing in the results. I put the file on the main monitor screen and we began to watch it.

“That’s him!” exclaimed Alice. “That’s my dad!”

At first rather delighted to see evidence of her father being presumably safe, the girl grew less hopeful as she realised the distress with which he was suffering. She was trembling as her hand sought mine.

Whilst I listened to Agent Day’s account of what he had discovered, a feeling of dread entered my mind. Realising what it was inevitably leading to, I reached my free hand into the pocket of my jacket in which I keep the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument about the size of a writing pen). I quickly activated the transonic to stop the transmission before little Alice could see what I knew would be the fate of her father.

“What happened?” enquired the girl when the monitor screen went blank.

“I do not know, love,” I lied. “Perhaps his transmission equipment was damaged by the humidity of that planet.”

“Oh, I hope he’s all right!” cried Alice. “What was that he was talking about? A fleet of spaceships belonging to what?”

“The Mutations of Mynverkoss,” I explained. “They are a species whose planet was devastated by generations of nuclear war, resulting in them becoming creatures of pure hate; grotesque fascist mutants that seek to conquer the Universe itself by completely eliminating all other beings.”

“But… can they be stopped? And can we find my dad?”

“I promise to do all I can, love,” I assured the maiden. “I have fought the Mynver before. However, I must find out more of what exactly their plans may be. They would not suddenly invade Earth unless they had a definite strategy; some specific tactic or device that they believe will assure their success…”

I was then suddenly interrupted by the moaning, gasping sound of the DiTraS engines starting up.

“Spires of Daemonia!” I swore. “We are dematerialising! I did not set the controls, and they are not being remote commanded by the Kosmikos!”

“So what’s happening, Doctor?” enquired Alice.

“It appears that someone or something has attached itself to the ship’s Time/Space engine system,” I explained. “They must have been lurking near by when I left Earth, and followed me here. Now they have managed to reverse control and are dragging us through the Time Current! But to where?!”

I attempted adjusting the controls, but could not so easily manage to break the outside influence.

“In order to get free, I would have to reboot the entire system, which is much too dangerous when we are within the Current,” I continued. “Only Algolite technology could have such an influence, and the only individual I know who would be likely to so misuse our technology is… No, it could not be…!”

The sound of the DiTraS’s materialisation sequence then echoed through the control room.

“Have we landed?” asked the girl.

“It appears we have materialised, yes,” I answered. “Let me check the guidance banks to see if I can ascertain where we are. Ah! We have arrived on Edalpo, a desert planet orbiting an unnamed dwarf star some thousand or so light-years from Earth. Well, we are still in the 31st Century, anyway.”

The monitor screen showed the sand and rock-filled wasteland of this world, and its hot red sun burning in its eternally-rainless sky.

“What can we do, Doctor?” queried the lass. “Can we go out and see who it was?”

“I suppose we will have to,” I said. “It would be too dangerous for me to leave you alone in the DiTraS as long as there is the possibility of the ship leaving without me. So come along, Alice, but stay close to me. We do not know what dangers we will be facing!”

Alice and I exited the DiTraS, the girl holding my hand. I was impressed with her courage. I have so often found that the best in the human race is to be seen in its young people, especially the most innocent of them. It is often only experience and hardship that breeds cowardice and fear, despite what some philosophies would lead us to believe.

The air of Edalpo was dry and the temperature was not as hot as I had expected, most likely due to the rarefied atmosphere. There were only a few scrubby growths of bush-like plants to show than life existed at all on this barren world.

Then, stepping out from behind the concealment of a large boulder just a few metres distant was the figure of a man. He was tall and dressed in a shiny-black suit that appeared to be of Victorian-era style. His face was of one of middle years, strong and distinguished despite being marked with the obvious effects of lifetimes of unspeakably profligate evil. His hair was long and dark, and his visage was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with a wickedly hypnotic glow. It was a countenance of pure and unadulterated iniquity, forsooth that of one whom I had hoped and prayed to never have to deal with again.

“Hello, Rumanos, and your latest preteen plus-one,” he smirked, his voice dripping with authoritarian arrogance. “I hope you enjoyed the ride.”

It was Don Wingus!!

“You!” I exclaimed. “I should have known. So you did escape from the Warfox.”

(When I had last encountered the evil Don Wingus, in a century long before the one with which I was currently involved, he had disappeared after failing in his attempt to start World War III by firing off a rocket programmed to hit the White House -- this being a plot by which he had planned to take over Earth amongst the ensuing chaos, setting himself up as supreme ruler and unchallenged dictator.)

“Oh indeed I did,” answered Wingus with a wicked chuckle. “But I was there when that missile fired, there right below the blast of its searing-hot rocket fuel.”

“So, how did you survive?” I enquired. “Also, how did you follow me here to the 31st Century, and manage to latch onto my DiTraS engines for long enough to bring us all to this desert world?”

“With this,” he retorted, rolling up a sleeve of his suit just enough to reveal a golden bracelet-like object upon his wrist.

“Your old Time Bracelet?” I exclaimed. “Ah, I see! You managed to temporarily reactivate it by utilising the energy from the rocket blast!”

“Indeed I did, Rumanos,” he boasted, “and then I waited from within the Time Current to attach onto the first DiTraS engine that came along; which happened, of course, to be yours. When you materialised again, I stayed just outside of your reality while reprogramming your controls via the psychic link.”

“Doctor, who is this person?” asked Alice.

“Oh, forgive me for not introducing you,” I apologised. “Miss Alice Day, meet my old friend and most bitter enemy, the one who likes to be known as ‘Master Don Wingus’ -- though he has been known and abhorred by many other names, including SATAN in some places.”

With this, the poor damsel trembled with a wave of fear and stepped closer to me.

“So, what are your plans now, Wingus, old chap?” I enquired of him. “Just to stand here forever and bore us all to death?”

“Not quite, Rumanos,” he returned. “You see, when I was attached to your ship’s control system I did something else as well. I contacted the Mynverkossian forces currently hidden on the planet Carrollon and informed them as to your location!”

At that same moment, as the evil Wingus made his revelation, there was a sound louder than thunder. I looked upwards and beheld what had caused it. It had been the sound of several disc-shaped Mynverkossian spaceships entering the atmosphere of Edalpo!

Do you recognise the supreme unadulterated terror of this situation? The hideous Mutations had been apprised of my presence and were here in force against me!

I had to act quickly, as the ships were descending and would be landing within moments. I took the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and pointed it to-wards Don Wingus. There was a flash as of an electric spark from the Time Bracelet on his wrist. It caught fire and he hastily moved to remove it before the flame could spread to his clothing.

Whilst Wingus was thus occupied, Alice and I ran back to the DiTraS. I quickly closed the entrance porthole behind us and engaged the engines. …

Outside, Don Wingus blanched as he heard the DiTraS engines start up and saw the ship fade away from view. He had not had a further chance to react to this when he heard another sound, that of the Mynver spaceships reversing their own engines. He glanced upwards just in time to view them disappearing from the skies of the desert planet.

“No! Nonononononono!!” shouted Don Wingus in desperation. “Rumanos has permanently disabled my Time Bracelet! I am marooned! Marooned here on this wretched wasteland of a world!” …

On board the DiTraS, I was standing at the controls.

“We have managed to enter the Time Current,” I announced to Alice. “We can only hope that Wingus’s activities have not done any serious damage to the systems.”

“Doctor, will you tell me something?” enquired the girl quietly.

“Of course, love,” I replied. “What did you want to know?”

“Those things, the aliens you call the Mutations. They… They killed my dad, didn’t they?”

“I’m afraid so, Alice,” I confessed. “I am so very sorry.”

With this, the poor wee lass burst into tears and ran into my arms. 

“I think I know how you feel, love,” I said quietly as the little lady cried in my embrace. “I had a family once, a long time ago. They…”

I had hoped to give her some further words of consolation, just to let her know that I understood the pain that she was experiencing and that I would do all I could to be certain that her father had not died in vain, when something further occurred. The DiTraS suddenly lurched and shook severely. I had to grab a hold of the control console with one hand to keep the girl and myself from losing our footing.

“What on Daemonia is that?” I exclaimed. “It feels like we are being hit by firepower!”

I switched on the monitor screen and saw what it was. Behind us, racing through the eldritch clouds of the Current, were the Mynver spaceships; and they were firing a barrage of crimson-red energy bolts directly at us!

“Incredible!” I said. “They Mynver have developed the ability to enter the Time Current! By the Stars, this changes things!”

The interior of the DiTraS continued to shake and rattle, and I held tightly to the damsel to prevent her from being hurt.

“Doctor!” she shouted over the din. “What can you do?”

“The DiTraS was already weakened by the interference that Don Wingus perpetrated,” I returned. “The shields cannot take the pummelling. What is more, this is actually a scientific research vessel, not a warship, so we cannot fire back at them. There is only one way. I need to lock in the coordinates for Carrollon and let us crash-land there!”

I hastily made the necessary adjustments upon the control panel.

“I am also shutting down all unnecessary systems in order to reroute needed power to the temporal landing gear,” I continued. “It is going to be rough, Alice, so I need you to trust me with something.”

“Of course, Doctor!” rejoined the girl. “I trust you. What do you need me to do?”

"The Time/Space crash will be more than an human body can endure,” I explained to her. “I need to give you a dosage of Algolitish DNA. It will strengthen you long enough to survive the landing.”

“All right,” she agreed. “But how do we do that?”

“Well,” I said, “like this.”

I pulled the girl to me an kissed her fully and deeply on her luscious cherry-red lips, pressing myself hard against her firm young figure. She submitted without any show of resistance, putting her arms around my neck and accepting my embrace with an obvious show of pleasure.

As the DiTraS gave a final lurch and began to fall to-wards its inevitable collision with the surface of the planet known as Carrollon, Alice Day and I sank down to the floor in our continued embrace. We were going down!! …

It was dark and silent in the DiTraS. I reached over to the console and reactivated the lighting.

Alice was sleeping quietly on the floor next to me. There was a slight smile on her face. I touched her shoulder.

“Wakey wakey, Little Alice,” I teased.

The girl gave a muffled moan that sounded like the echo of a cry of ecstasy. She opened her beautiful eyes and licked her lips.

“Mmmmm,” she said. “That taste. It’s like…”

“Ambrosia,” I answered. “The nectar of the gods. That is where the myth comes from. It is the remnant of the Algolite DNA you received from me.”

“So we made it, Doctor?” she enquired as I helped her to her feet.

“Indeed we did,” I informed, checking the readings upon the control board. “We are on the planet Carrollon. The infusion I gave you should last long enough to protect you from any harmful effects of the poisonous plant life here, so it should be safe to explore, as far as that is concerned. With the Mynver now having inter-dimensional capabilities, it is still too dangerous to leave you alone in the DiTraS.”

Alice and I exited the DiTraS and found ourselves in the middle of the hot, steaming jungle for which Carrollon is famed. The bizarrely shaped, strangely-coloured plant life surrounded us on all sides of the clearing in which the DiTraS had materialised.

Before we could explore much, a man stepped out from the jungle. He was large and dressed in a ceremonial type of robe. He was bald-headed and his skin showed a somewhat orange hue.

“That’s President Mettar!” exclaimed Alice in surprise.

“The young person is correct,” announced the man. “I am indeed Hadd Mettar, President of United Earth. You would be Dr. Daniel Rumanos, I presume?”

“Indeed I am, sir,” I affirmed. “What exactly is the Earth President doing on the planet Carrollon, a world now known to be the headquarters of a alien invasion force poised to attack the very civilisation that you are sworn to serve and protect?”

“I have made an agreement with the Mynver that will assure my continued ability to do just that,” claimed Mettar. “They have promised to spare the lives of the human race so long as service is rendered to the Mynver as governmental overlords. I will continue on as President for life, with the powers of my office increased.”

“You are a traitor, sir!” I charged him. “You have sold out the planet, the human race, to a fascist alien power that sees them as nothing but an infection to be eliminated! Moreover, why have you done this? For political power! Nevertheless, it shall not be!”

“Now, do not attempt any show of heroics, Dr. Rumanos,” retorted Mettar. “The Mynver have developed a weapon that will assure their domination of Earth, and ultimately of the entire Universe. It is the Time Destroyer!”

“That is impossible,” I returned. “In order to power such a device would require… Oh my word! You sold them Liddellium as part of your deal, hmmm? That horrifyingly-dangerous element, only found on a very few of the asteroids that orbit between Mars and Jupiter. It is like a form of super-Uranium, a sextillion times more powerful than Plutonium!”

“Some stores of it have been secretly kept by the Earth government for decades, in case of war. As President, I was one of the very few who even knew of it.”

It was then that the very object of which we were speaking came into view. It was hovering far above us in the sky, an huge spherical weapon at least a full five kilometres in circumference. It was flanked on all sides by Mynverkossian spaceships.

“The Time Destroyer,” announced President Mettar. “The very thing that shall assure that my great and unmatched wisdom will continue to govern Earth!”

“You sold Earth to the things that killed my dad!” screamed Alice Day. “You are a traitor to us all!”

“I will have no insubordination from you, child,” sneered Mettar, “nor from any part of humanity. I am President Hadd Mettar, and this is how I deal with unruly subjects.”

As I stood in absolute horror, before I could react, Mettar pulled a disintegrator gun and fired upon little Alice Day. Her body simply vanished, blinked out of existence by the yellow energy blast of the weapon.

“Alice!” I cried. “No!!”

I charged upon Mettar before he could level his gun at me, giving him a Daemonian jujitsu blow that sent him hurtling out of the clearing into the jungle brush.

I looked around in anguish. It was so difficult to believe that Alice Day, that beautiful young girl with whom I had already shared a number of amazing adventures, was gone. I then caught a glimpse of several Mynverkossian Mutations approaching through the brush, and I quickly retreated into the DiTraS, closing and locking the porthole behind me. …

President Hadd Mettar had regained his footing and was fleeing through the jungle away from me. In his haste, he stumbled into a large, sickly-hued plant. His body was immediately covered with a viscous poison that spouted from the vegetable. At the same time, the approaching Mynver located him.

“Help me,” pleaded Mettar. “You must have some cure for this poison. I feel it eating away my body. It will only be moments. Please… help me!”

“Your services are no longer required,” announced the lead Mynver. “You are weak, as are all life forms other than us. You will be eliminated, as we will eliminate all the people of Earth. ELIMINATE!”

The Mynver then activated its crimson-red energy weaponry, engulfing what was left of Hadd Mettar, silencing the traitorous politician forever. …

On board the DiTraS I watched this scene on the monitor whilst adjusting the controls and entering the Current.

“There is one chance,” I said to myself. “One chance to stop the Mynver. If I can attach the psychic circuitry of the DiTraS to the Time Destroyer, I just may be able to… Ah! Yes!!”

I concentrated deeply, linking my mind through the DiTraS systems. I saw the interior of the Time Destroyer, the horrid device that could assure the fascist Mynver domination of all Time and Space. …

In the skies over the planet Carrollon, there was an explosion. It was an explosion of an intensity that could only be matched by the powers of divinity. It was the end of the Time Destroyer, and it took with it the entire Mynver fleet and all of their forces. In a time less than nothing, all traces of the fascist threat --forsooth, the threat that so menaced all of Creation -- were no more. It was, in truth, literally as if it had never existed. …

I wiped the perspiration from my face with a large canary-coloured handkerchief. I looked up at the DiTraS monitor screen and saw that the Mynver, and their horrible Time Destroyer, were gone forever.

“Gone forever,” I said. “Gone forever.”

None the less, there was something else much more on my mind; something else I had attempted when in psychic contact with the Time Destroyer device.

“If I managed to change events in recent history,” I continued. “If I did it just right, then maybe she is not gone forever! Just this once; just this once, by the Stellar Trinity, let it be!”

I programmed the monitor to access the security camera of one of my previous locations.

“I hope it has not been too long since I was there for me to access it and see. I know she probably will have no memory of me, but that is not what is important. I just must know if it worked. I must know if she is…”

It was then that the scene I had most hoped and prayed to behold came upon the view screen.

“It worked!” I shouted. “It worked! Recent events were changed, and she is alive! Alice is alive!!”

On the screen, I saw little Alice Day back in her hotel room. The door opened and a woman entered, a woman of about thirty. Her face and hair made her look like a more mature version of Alice.

“Mom!” exclaimed the girl. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re back!”

“So am I, Alice,” said the woman, “and look who I’ve brought with me!”

With this, Agent Lewis Day came out from the corridor where he had been playfully hiding.

“Dad!” shouted Alice in absolute delight as she ran into her father‘s embrace, “Oh, Dad, I’m so glad you’re all right!” 

“I am, dear,” answered Lewis Day, “That last assignment turned out to be nothing, and now I have some really good news. We aren’t going to be apart as much anymore. As I’m sure you’ve heard, President Mettar sadly died when his private shuttle collided with an asteroid. The new President has made some changes to the Space Security Agency. As part of this, the Agency has reassigned me to a permanent executive position on Earth. We are going home!”

“Oh, Dad, that’s so great!” replied the girl. 

“Now, we need to get our things packed and catch the next ship to Earth, Alice,” added Mrs. Day. “So hurry, all right?”

“I will. It’s just that I… I…”

“What is it, dear?” said her dad. “Your eyes make it look like your thoughts are of something so far away.”

“It’s nothing, I guess,” answered the lovely little lass. “It’s just like that just for a second I thought I had forgotten something… or someone. Someone… someone wonderful.” …

I shut off the monitor. I realised that the lives of this happy family were not mine to view. Nevertheless, I could not help thinking one thought as I programmed the DiTraS with the coordinates to take me back to Atlantic City.

“I shall miss you, Alice Day,” said I, wiping a tear from my eye. “I shall miss you.”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “VOODOO CHILD”

LOVE AND ROCKETS

At the north Baltimore headquarters of the “child advocacy group” known as Maryland Children’s Alliance, a strange tableau was being played out. Around the table in the conference room of this organisation were seated a dozen or so individuals, men and women, most of whom were wearing conservative business suits. A couple of them were in police uniforms.

Nevertheless, it is the person seated at the head of the table who is of most interest to us. He was clad in a satin-black suit of a style resembling that of the 19th Century. His hair was long and dark and his face was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. His countenance showed him to be apparently of middle years, quite distinctly handsome despite showing the undeniable effects of lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with an absolutely hypnotic glow.

“I am glad to welcome all of you this day,” he stated, his voice dripping with intense arrogance. “It is a pleasure indeed to have you here, for the first time, as both disciples of Spectral Paranormal and as members of the Maryland Children’s Alliance. The pact that we have made will assure that we shall be enabled to protect our children, the most precious commodity, from the grasp of the predatory sexual offenders that prowl and lurk about, seeking to coerce them into situations that they can then use to satisfy their own perverted lusts. It is these monstrous individuals, the chief of which being the one known as Dr. Daniel Rumanos, against whom we must go on crusade.”

“We hear and obey, Master,” spoke the assembled persons in slavish unity. “We must protect the children!”

At this time, a thin young man of obvious homosexual leanings appeared beside the table, dressed in tight black slacks and a matching short-sleeved shirt and carrying a tray upon which was a large pitcher and numerous glasses. The pitcher contained some liquid of an hideously blood-red colour.

“As I have previously made known to you, to assure the success of our crusade against Rumanos will require more than human strength,” continued the one addressed as Master. “It is for this purpose that I have prepared this elixir. It will infuse you with powers beyond anything you have ever before experienced. Powers to fight, powers to win, powers to succeed.”

As the speech continued, the servant poured the liquid into the glasses, placing one before each of the assembled parties.

“So now, my friends, my disciples, my crusaders for the protection of our children,” continued the Master, “drink deeply of this potion. It tastes only like fruit punch, but is really so much more. Receive its powers into your bodies, into your very beings. Allow it to strengthen and inspire you; take it inside, that it may strengthen and inspire you to battle and to defeat the notorious paedophile and child predator known as Daniel Rumanos! I, Master Don Wingus, do promise and proclaim it! We must protect the children!”

“We hear and obey, Master Wingus,” repeated the assembled company as they raised the liquid to their lips. “We must protect the children! We must protect the children!” ...

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, 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!!! …

It was one of the most eventful days in human history, but most people who remember it at all only remember it as being partly sunny. I had gone that morning to the Warfox Research Installation, located as it was in the East Towson area of Baltimore County, to gather information on the ultra-secret missile system that was being developed there.

The installation was a large, grey, rather faceless affair, with a prominent and obvious rocket silo in its centre. I went to the front door and pushed the buzzer.

“Yes?” came a woman’s voice over the system.

“It is Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” I informed her. “I am here to see Dr. Ignow. He should be expecting me.”

The door opened automatically and I walked in. The entrance chamber was stark and furnished with only a couple of rather uncomfortable-appearing chairs. A woman was entering the room from the other doorway. She was middle-aged and frumpy, with greying hair and dressed in a business suit.

“Good morning, Dr. Rumanos,” she said. “Welcome to the Warfox. I’m Ms. Denton.”

“Thanks for letting me in, Ms. Denton” I replied. “Dr. Ignow should be expecting me.”

“He is,” she said. “We have been informed of your arrival.”

I noticed that her manners were rather overly-efficient and decided to query her a bit.

“So, Ms. Denton,” I began. “Are you part of the team working on the new rocket? I already know it is government funded, and is supposed to be the most precise mathematically-controlled missile system ever. I am certain that, given that, they would not allow anyone access to this facility without proper scientific clearance.”

“Oh, I’m qualified to be here,” she informed me. “I’m from the Maryland Children’s Alliance.”

“That child advocacy group?” I enquired. “I hear they do good work, but what does that have to do with the new rocket system?”

“The team has a member who is still a minor. A young girl from Japan who is said to have a genius-level ability in mathematics. I was assigned here to keep an eye on her and to assure that she was not exploited or abused in any way.”

“Ah, of course,” I rejoined, attempting to not allow the woman to see me roll my eyes.

“So,” I continued, “what about Dr. Ignow? I was hoping to get a chance to discuss the missile system with him. Scientist to scientist, you know.”

“Dr, Ignow is currently at the centre of the facility,” she went on. “Being the one who designed the system, he is making some last minute adjustments.”

“‘Last minute’?” I repeated in surprise.

“Yes, we’re doing a test-firing later today.”

“But that is impossible,” I said. “There has been no authorisation for a test-firing!”

“Dr. Ignow has decided that we need no authorisation,” she announced. “We hear and obey him.”

A cold chill of dread went through me as I heard these words; and as the true import of them filled my mind with memories of horror and battles against forces of extreme evil in this world and beyond.

“Stand aside, Ms. Denton,” I demanded. “I need to see Dr. Ignow this very moment. I cannot allow him to go through with an unauthorised test-firing of the Warfox Rocket. That would be considered an act of war by several foreign powers, especially considering the peace conferences currently going on in Washington. It could plunge America -- indeed all of mankind -- into the beginning of Word War III!”

It was then that something of eldritch otherworldliness occurred. Ms. Denton looked straight at me and I beheld that her eyes were glowing with an horrid blood-red effulgence. Before I could even react, there burst forth from them a blast of alien energy, a crimson discharge that hit me with an incredible and painful power.

As I crumpled to the floor in anguish, I heard Ms. Denton utter two words:

“Silence, paedophile.”

Do you truly perceive the horror, the unnameable terror of this event, my friends? That woman, the “child advocate” known as Ms. Denton, was possessed, completely taken over by an alien force, an extraterrestrial creature that had granted her otherworldly powers that were now being wielded against me!!

Whilst I struggled against slipping into unconsciousness, I vaguely beheld a thin figure coming up behind Ms. Denton. I could tell from the shape that it was a young girl and that, with a lightning-fast series of martial arts moves, she quickly sent the older woman sprawling across the floor.

I stood up and attempted to shake off the effects of the blast. Fortunately, my Algolitish constitution gave me a degree of immunity to an attack that would have likely been fatal to most human beings.

“Eiko!” I shouted to the girl. “Be wary! She is infected with an alien mind parasite!”

“Yes, senpai,” returned the girl obediently, taking a position slightly to the side and behind mine.

I quickly took the transonic turnscrew (a technologically-advanced scientific instrument physically resembling a writing pen) from the pocket of my jacket. After a quick adjustment, I turned the device to-wards Ms. Denton.

By now, the woman had regained her feet and was preparing another blast of the extraterrestrial energies, her eyes still glowing with an hideous crimson radiance.  I managed to activate the transonic before she could attempt it, however, and her body started to shudder. 

“I have programmed the transonic to the wavelength of the parasite,” I said as an aside to Eiko. “It should be able to speed up the thing’s life-cycle, leading to an early death. Unfortunately, this woman has been completely taken over by the creature, so it will not be a pleasant sight!”

As I spoke, Ms. Denton began to age rapidly, her skin cracking with the fast-oncoming of wrinkles and drying skin. She shrivelled and fell to the floor, then giving the final gasp of death before her now-corpse began to decay quickly away, soon becoming no more than a pile of dust.

I deactivated the transonic turnscrew and ran over to the young girl.

“Good work, Eiko!” I praised her. “Your use of the Daemonian jujitsu moves I taught you was the best I have ever seen in an human.”

“Thank you, senpai,” said the lass with an humble bow. “You do me too much honour.”

Eiko Toshiba, age thirteen, was my latest protégée. An exceptionally-gifted student from Tokyo, we had met some time before when she had assisted me to unravel the cause of a mysterious death at a local Asian restaurant in the Charles Village neighbourhood of Baltimore -- this being a particularly odd affair that is found in my secret files under the title of “Murder at the Orient Express”. The girl was ravishingly-beautiful, with hair like shiny liquorice and a wide, sensuous mouth with luscious lips the colour of ripe strawberries. The “sailor” type of school uniform she wore perfectly accented her slender, gorgeously-pubescent figure.

“So, have you met this so-called ‘Dr. Ignow’?” I enquired.

“Not yet, senpai,” said the girl. “He is said to be busy at work on the rocket. He sent me some work to do on the computer. Some mathematical formulae having to do with the rocket launch. There does not seem to be anybody else here.”

“The alien creature that so thus possessed this Denton woman gives credence to my theory that Spectral Paranormal is involved in this. However, what operative of that intergalactic terrorist organisation could Dr. Ignow actually be? With his advanced knowledge of rocketry, I would almost think…”

“Senpai!” interrupted Eiko. “Look!”

I whirled around to face the person who was now coming through the door that led further into the facility. It was a man in a white lab coat with a nametag declaring him to be the supposed “Dr. Ignow”. Despite this, both the sleek laser gun he was holding and his face revealed his true identity, for it was a countenance all too well known to me, a visage that brought back memories of so many hard-won battles against the evil that it represented -- forsooth, the supremely-infamous evil of the most wicked and iniquitous criminal in all of Space and Time!

It was the face of one I had thought dead; an individual I had hoped that I would never have to face again. It was DON WINGUS!!!

“You!” I exclaimed. “I should have known. So you did escape from the Source.”

“Oh indeed,” rejoined Wingus with a wicked chuckle. “I have been back for quite a while, and you shall find my plans far too in advance to be easily dismantled by your interference. No, not this time. By the way, I cannot say I did not pretty much expect you when the Nipponese nymphet here suddenly showed up. Whenever there is a young teen beauty, Dr. Daniel Rumanos is right there behind her -- or in front of, or on top of, or underneath, as the case may be.”

“So you are now infecting your disciples with mind parasites, Wingus?” said I. “Nearly microscopic but unspeakably dangerous creatures like the ones from the outer planets of the Centauri systems? Horrible things that attach to their hosts’ brainwaves and manifest extraterrestrial powers through them. Even well-meaning people, like this Ms. Denton, whom you have corrupted with your hypnotic abilities and taught how to hate.”

“Oh, indeed,” returned Wingus. “These human crusader types have always been quite easy to influence. I only need convince them that my authority will help with whatever ridiculous ‘social justice’ cause to which they have so dedicated their worthless lives.”

“But how did you introduce the mind parasite into them?” I enquired. “Those things must be taken internally, and willingly.”

“Just an infusion via a draught of fruit punch,” he grinned.

“Oh, of course. It figures you would be giving your cultists the ‘Kool-Aid’ eventually! So, I suppose your intentions now are to blackmail the entire planet by threatening to launch this Warfox Rocket?”

“Oh hardly, Rumanos, hardly,” rejoined Don Wingus. “Even after all these centuries, you continue to underestimate me. I fully intend to launch the rocket.”

“You fiend!” I told him. “You godless fiend! What do you intend as the target?’

“Why, the White House, of course. The President is meeting with several world leaders there today for a peace conference. When they are all killed, the nations will all blame each other and threaten war. The ensuing chaos will cause the disenchanted people of America to seek and choose a new leader, which will of course be me. I will become President of the United States, then Emperor of Earth. Then I will augment the technology of this planet to build a fleet of Space-going warships that shall overrun the Galaxy! I shall in time make myself supreme ruler of all existence!!”

Whilst speaking to him, I had surreptitiously been moving closer. So slowly had I crept that Wingus, overcome as usual by his own egotistical arrogance, had not even particularly noticed.

“Senpai, look!” shouted Eiko at the prearranged moment, indicating a direction to the side of the room.

This caused Don Wingus to flinch for just a fraction of a second, distracting his attention just long enough for me to give him a short series of jujitsu blows. His laser-gun went clattering to the floor as he slipped into unconsciousness from the effects of my pummelling.

“He will not be out long, Eiko,” I said. “We need to find a place to secure him whilst we work on dismantling the missile.”

“There is a group of storage lockers in the rocket silo, senpai,” the girl informed me.

“Excellent idea, love,” said I has I hoisted the unconscious Don Wingus onto my shoulder. “Show me the way.”

Eiko Suzuki then led me down a corridor to the centre of the facility. It was an huge launch-pad upon which sat the gigantic red missile known as the Warfox Rocket. I went to the adjoining storage area and secured Don Wingus in one of the lockers.

“Now, we have to find a way to disarm the rocket,” I said to the girl. “If only we had the mathematical codes for the ignition sequence, or at least for the trajectory.”

“I have them, senpai,” said Eiko. “The trajectory codes.”

“You have the trajectory codes, Eiko?” I stammered in surprise. “Where?!”

“In my head, senpai,” she explained. “As I said, when I first arrived, Dr. Ignow sent me a radio message saying that there was a last-minute adjustment to the trajectory, and he was too busy to make it. He had me do it for him. He gave me both the old and new trajectory codes, as I had to enter the first to access the computer.”

“Of course; that is a basic security measure, not programming the true trajectory sequence until near launch time,” I realised. “I am sorry you have been exposed to so much danger, but it is good for the future of the human race that you were assigned to this project, Eiko. So, you actually remember them? The trajectory sequence code numbers?”

“Of course, senpai,” returned the lovely Asian lass. “I always remember all numbers exactly.”

“Ah, so that will be something that ‘Dr. Ignow’ -- actually Don Wingus! -- did not count on,” I reasoned. “Obviously, the new trajectory is the one to the White House. The computer will be locked to accept no other than one of the two codes that Wingus originated. Eiko, you need to reprogram the computer to the old trajectory. That will redirect the rocket. We cannot know to whence it will then send it, but at least we will save the President and the other world leaders!”

“IGNITION SEQUENCE INITIATED,” announced a voice.

“By the Stellar Triplicity!” I swore. “That is the launch sequence! He had it pre-programmed to start now! We have only minutes at most!”

Eiko Suzuki ran to the computer terminal and began entering a series of digits.

“PLEASE CLEAR THE LAUNCH PAD AREA,” said the automated voice.

“Quickly, love!” I urged. “We need to get away from the blast! If we are here when the missile launches, the heat could burn us into oblivion!”

“I am working on it, senpai,” answered the girl, still entering numbers into the near by terminal keyboard.

“COUNTDOWN INITIATED,” proclaimed the pre-recorded voice of the automated launch sequence. “IGNITION IN TWELVE… ELEVEN… TEN…”

“Eiko, come on!” I insisted.

“NINE…”

“Just a few more digits, senpai” said the girl.

“EIGHT…”

“We need to get to cover, Eiko,” I went on. “Come on!”

“SEVEN…”

“All right,” she replied. “Just a couple, more…” 

“SIX…”

“Eiko!” I said, laying my hand on her shoulder.

“FIVE…”

“There!” she said. “I have finished the redirect, senpai.”

“FOUR…”

“Come on then,” I answered. “We need shelter from the blast!”

“THREE…”

I grabbed her and ran for one of the metal storage lockers, quickly slamming it shut when we were both inside.

“TWO…”

“Close your eyes, and put as much of your body against me as you can,” I explained, turning my back to the coming blast and pulling the girl close, putting as much of my jacket around her as possible. “It is the only way you might just possibly be saved from the heat of the launch.”

“ONE…”

Despite her brave show of stoicism, I felt Eiko Toshiba’s young form trembling with fear as I wrapped my arms protectively around her.

“ZERO…”

After the countdown ceased, there was a pause of less than what could likely be called an instant. Yet it seemed like an eternity. An eternity of waiting and bracing for the coming of the heat and the noise that I knew would accompany the missile launch. Then it happened.

The noise of the blast was beyond imagining; a sound so loud that it was well-nigh impossible to believe, for the moment, that anything else existed in the world. Nothing else could be. Nothing but that all-encompassing and omnipresent noise. It was only when the heat hit us that we knew otherwise.

Even within the cramped, metal-lined storage locker, the heat was immense, searing, otherworldly. Its intensity cut through my body and caused me to grind my teeth together to prevent myself from screaming. I felt Eiko’s body slump into a swoon, but held all the tighter to her in order to shield the poor girl from the blast.

Then, more quickly even than it began, it was over. There was no sound, and the relative coolness of the air seemed downright cold by comparison. The rocket had launched and was on its way. But to where?

I reached back and opened the locker door, still cradling the unconscious girl in my arms as I stepped out onto the now-bare launch pad. A large scorch-mark and the scent of burnt fuel were the only signs that the Warfox Rocket had ever even been there.

I quickly lay Eiko Suzuki on the floor and began to work to awaken her. I only knew of one way to do it as quickly as was necessary. I kissed her.

When I pulled back, I saw a smile on her lovely lips. Then she moaned slightly as if with pleasure, and her beautiful eyes flew open.

“Are you all right, love?” I asked concernedly.

“Yes, senpai,” she replied. “I feel like… I feel like I am.”

Fortunately, being shielded from the blast by my Algolitish physique had saved her from suffering any permanent damage.

“We need to find out where the rocket is going,” said I whilst helping the young girl to her feet.

“If it was going anywhere near by, it will have already reached it, senpai,” Eiko informed me. “The Warfox was optimised to reach ‘mach five’ speed within a quarter-second of launching.”

“Then we need to see what has happened,” I insisted. “If it has hit any government or military installation, we must immediately inform the powers that be as to the facts.”

“I will find out, senpai,” said the girl as she removed her mobile telephone from the hidden front pocket of her schoolgirl uniform.

Eiko quickly found a live-stream from a local news outlet. The rather dour bald-headed and moustached African-American anchorman was making an announcement.

“We repeat,” he said. “An explosion has taken place at the headquarters of the Maryland Children’s Alliance in northern Baltimore City. It is unknown as yet if anyone was in the building when the explosion occurred. Fire department officials have announced that they believe the incident to be the result of a gas leak at the ageing building. The earlier reports of some onlookers, that a projectile was sighted approaching the building just prior to the explosion, have been discredited. The President has sent his condolences to the child advocacy group from himself and on behalf of the others currently taking part in the Washington peace conference. In other news…”

“So that is it,” I said. “Of course! Wingus rigged the rocket so that, if his plans failed, it would destroy all evidence of the location he was using as the temporary headquarters for Spectral Paranormal!”

“Look, senpai!” interrupted Eiko. “He has gone!”

I turned and saw that the storage locker in which I had left Don Wingus had been forced open, its lock broken.

“So, he did indeed manage to get out,” I said. “But did he leave the facility in time, or was he caught in the rocket blast? There is no sign of him here, but that incredible heat could have burned his body into nothingness!”

“How can we find out, senpai?” queried the lass.

“Only the future will tell, love,” I answered. “We will know if either Wingus escaped or if any of his cultists survived if and when they continue their terrorist ways. All I know for now is that I must be prepared to face them at all costs!”

“I am sure you can do it, senpai,” said Eiko Suzuki. “You are powerful and filled with wisdom.”

“You know what?” I said to her. “You are truly a beautiful young lady, Eiko.”

“Thank you, senpai,” bowed the lovely Japanese girl in modesty. “But I do not know that. Some say that my mouth is too wide.”

“Well,” I said with a wink, as I embraced her, “I must say that it looks to be just the right size for me.”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “ALICE DAY”