GARGOYLES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN

Atop a skyscraper in the downtown area of the city of Baltimore, Maryland, is a building with an oddly-trapezoidal shaped roof. The said rooftop is golden in colour, and within it, in a secret chamber accessible only by a hidden stairway, is a room filled with oddities.

These oddities are items that I have collected during my long and varied career. They include things from other worlds, alien artefacts and bits of technology from incredibly advanced civilisations. They also include things invented by Earthborn scientists with unusually advanced minds; often geniuses driven to madness by their own intellectual superiority to the masses of humanity.

Nevertheless, it was not any one of these objects that was the subject of my interest on this day. What I was doing was adjusting the controls of a comparatively-prosaic monitor screen on a modern computer terminal, optimising it for a video chat with a special friend.

Upon the screen appeared the face of a beautiful young girl with wondrous violet eyes and luxurious chestnut-coloured hair. Her skin was sun-kissed, and her lips were a luscious shade of pink.

“Good morning, Millie!” I said, waving to her from my desk-chair; dressed as I was in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and velvet dinner jacket.

“Good morning, Daniel!” answered the girl with a lovely smile. “How are you doing?”

“I am doing fine, love,” I replied. “Even though I miss you.”

“Awww! I miss you too,” returned Millie Drake, the talented tweenage actress with whom I have already had several amazing adventures.

“So how is Hollywood treating you, beautiful one?” I enquired. “I hear you’re doing some final shots for that ‘occult detective thriller’.”

“Yes, we are, and everything’s going well; but it is hard work!”

“I am certain you are doing a fantastic job as always, my dear,” I assured her.

“Thank you,” she blushed.

“I say, how do you like the food out there?”

“Oh, it’s great! Taco stands everywhere! Oh my, I hope I don’t get fat!”

“Worry not, Mills. The infusions of Algolite DNA that I have given you will prevent any negative effects you could get from Earth foodstuffs.”

“Good to hear!” giggled the lass.

“So what is the film like, then?” I asked.

“Oh it’s really cool!” she replied. “But, you know, not as cool as those adventures you have! Hey, could you tell me about one of them? I miss hearing about them.”

“Of course I could, but you have experienced some yourself, like that time here in Baltimore with the monster Pederosis!”

“I know, but I mean one of those you had in Outer Space!” she insisted. “Oh, I would love to go there with you some day!”

“Well, perhaps you shall, love,” I said. “Though I must warn you it can be incredibly dangerous. Here, I shall tell you about an experience I had on a mission in Space not long ago! It started like this…” …

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 what looked like the cargo-hold of an old sailing ship [I told Millie Drake], was heard a strange gasping, moaning noise. With this, there appeared as of out of nowhere an object resembling a “Roman column” -- an object which is actually the incredibly-advanced Space/Time travel vehicle known as the DiTraS or Dimensional Transport Sphere.

A round portal appeared on the DiTraS and from it stepped two beings. One was myself, Dr. Daniel Rumanos of the Daemonian Kosmikos. The other was like a small man, his skin the colour of limestone, with pointed ears and prominently arched eyebrows. He was clad in a gold tunic and, despite his grotesque appearance, he had with him an air of wisdom and of peace.

“So, Gorschlitz,” I said. “I hope you are certain this mission will in no way interfere with your duties as Prime Minister of Mu. I would not want my old friend the Keeper to have to have someone fill in the position on a temporary basis. It just would not appear proper, you understand, and certain forces are always spying in an attempt to detect any weakness.”

“A problem it shall not be, Doctor,” Gorschlitz assured me. “Holiday leave I have received. That I am a few days off to a Space resort visit the official story is.”

“Gargoyles just want to have fun, hmm?” I joked. “Fantastic!”

As you may have ascertained, my associate Gorschlitz is no ordinary being. He is, in fact, an high-ranking representative of the Gargouellios or Gargoyles -- forsooth, a member of that legendary race of artificially-generated beings that ruled the Continent of Mu, which existed in what is now known to you as the Pacific Ocean during a time countless and untold ages before the earliest ancestors of the human race even existed. For many millennia, the Gargouellios protected the planet Earth from threats like the Ancient Ones of primordial Leng, the Lizard-Men of Lemuria, the Shaitans of Eblis, the Cult of Kuthalu, and indeed other eldritch horrors.

Gorschlitz had contacted me concerning some intelligence information that Mu had received concerning a disturbance in the future, and so we had taken my DiTraS to this Space station, orbiting in the very outskirts of the Solar System during what you would term the 22nd Century.

“Doctor!” suddenly exclaimed the Gargouellio, his eyes sparkling with multi-coloured lights. “Something from the corner of my eye I saw. Across the floor it seemed to dart.”

“Probably just a mouse,” I said. “Human Space travel has inadvertently brought them everywhere. It seems to be gone now, though.”

“Of course,” replied the Gargoyle. “We did not yet have that exact species in my time.”

“Well, it appears that we have materialised on the lower levels,” I said, looking around at the low-lit chamber. “The doors to the lift appear to be sealed. No worries, though.”

I took the transonic turnscrew (an advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen) from the pocket of my jacket and programmed it to unlock the sliding doors to the elevator mechanism. Soon enough, Gorschlitz and I were riding the lift quickly upwards to-wards the inhabited areas of the Space station. …

Little did we know that the station itself was, at that very moment, being closely viewed from a near by spaceship. The ship was small and efficient, and of a type that has wandered the Galaxy for centuries, bringing horror to humankind everywhere. Inside this ship, a tall being resembling a silver man was accessing the information being transmitted through a computerised security system.

“Intruders detected,” said the Leknii Replicant in its emotionless electronic voice. “Analysis confirms Algolitish physiology. It is an enemy and must be destroyed.” …

The Gargouellio and I exited the lift and continued down a hallway of the Space station.

“Odd that we have not as yet encountered anyone,” I said. “These stations are usually rather busy. It must be the result of the undefined disturbance your people perceived, Gorschlitz.”

“If only the facts of it we could find, Doctor,” returned the Gargoyle.

“Perhaps we can locate a restaurant or pub or something,” I suggested. “That is where humans tend to congregate and talk about local issues. If anyone is on board, we should certainly be able to find them there. Ah, here we go!”

The sign on the door said “Kuiper Kafé”. Gorschlitz and I entered this establishment, which was decorated to resemble an old Earth-style coffee shop or tea room. A video screen on the wall was showing some daytime soap opera type of programme. Only one of the tables was occupied, and it by two men in yellow security officer’s uniforms sitting before a repast of donuts and hot java. The both carried laser guns in their hip-holsters. We took the table next to them.

“Good day, officers,” I said to our neighbours. “I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos, but many people find that a bit lengthy, so I am usually just known as ‘The Doctor’. This is my friend, Gorschlitz.”

“Howdy!” said the older of the two officers, an heavy-set, florid-faced man with greying red hair and piercing grey eyes. (By the mid-22nd century, humans had begun to become accustomed to meeting various alien species, so my Gargoyle companion did not really register as particularly strange to the seasoned policeman.) “I’m Sergeant Brown of the Outer Solar System Security Department. This is my partner, Officer Eli. Haven’t seen you two before. How’d you get on board?”

“We just arrived,” I said. “Our transport is on lower decks.”

“Oh, OK,” replied the Sergeant. “I guess you’re the medical team we radioed for. Your ship is one of those new-fangled matter transmission things, I guess?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those. I hear they can end up scattering your body cells all over Space!”

 “I say, so what exactly is going on here?” I enquired. “We have not encountered anyone else on board the station until now.”

“It’s those rodent things all over the damn place,” rejoined Sgt. Brown. “Most of the people have been evacuated. Some others have actually died from the bites of those rats or whatever they are. It causes some disease that just rots them away. Somebody needs to send us a damned exterminator, if you ask me!”

 “Rodents? Really?” I said, a chill of all-to-familiar horror creeping up my spine. “What exactly do these rodents look like?”

“We have no idea,” said the other officer, Eli, a youth whose complexion showed him to be of Middle Eastern origin. “They move too fast and nobody can get a real look at them.”

“At least nobody who lives long enough to tell about it,” added Brown. “Most of the cameras and other security systems have been shut down by those things getting into the machinery. They’ve gotten to the weapons system, too.”

By now, the waitress had arrived with our menus. She was very young and quite pretty, with strawberry blonde hair and enchanting emerald eyes. The tight, short-skirted, white waitress’s uniform she wore did an excellent job of highlighting her slender, youthful figure. Her nametag said “Primrose”.

“Welcome to the Kuiper Kafé at Station 78, gentlemen,” she said with a lovely smile. “What can I get for you today?”

“I shall have an extra large iced vanilla latte, love,” I told her, “and a couple of scones.”

“What flavour scones would you like, sir? We have blueberry and cherry.”

“I shall have your cherry, love,” I replied.

“And you, sir?” Primrose said, turning to Gorschlitz.

“The same shall I have, Lady Primrose,” returned the Gargouellio, himself being rather unaccustomed to human foods and terms of address. 

“OK. Four cherry scones and two XL iced vanilla lattes,” repeated the girl. “I’ll get those for you right away…”

However, young Primrose’s summary of our order was cut short when she suddenly let out a piercing scream at what she had seen. The café door had opened and something was entering the room -- forsooth something that filled the poor wee lass with terror beyond belief.

Gorschlitz and I quickly stood up to face what was coming, as did the two officers. The waitress fainted into my arms.

What was entering the room were dozens of small, metallic creatures indeed like silver rodents. They quickly glided to-wards us and I could not repress a shudder as I fully realised the truth of what these creatures that had so infested the space station actually were.

“By the Stellar Trinity!” I swore. “These are Repli-Rats! It is a Leknii invasion!”

Do you recognise the horror, in sooth the unspeakable terror of this situation, my friends? Space Station 78, a remote outpost on the outermost edge of the Solar System, was infested with Repli-Rats -- obviously the advanced scouts for an invasion of the horrid Replicants of Leknii, for whom they function as service robots and killers of anyone that would get in the way of the Replicant forces; forces whose ultimate goal is to convert all suitable humanoid races to their own emotionless and soulless kind!

It was the two security officers, Sergeant Brown and Officer Eli, who immediately took action. They drew their laser guns and began firing upon the Repli-Rats. I could have told them it would be to no avail.

True, they did manage to hit two or three of the horrid metallic creatures, which immediately disintegrated into countless microscopic shards. Nevertheless, the Repli-Rats soon enough upgraded themselves, as is the goal of all Leknii technology, and could then easily avoid the beams of light from the officers’ weapons.

Then, before any further action could be taken, one of the small mechanical horrors suddenly jumped up and attached itself to Officer Eli’s throat. He made a brief cry of pain before falling to the floor; the Repli-Rat then gliding away from him.

“Do not approach him, Sergeant!” I warned. “He has been infected with their poison; an incredibly virulent venom which could spread to you! It is already too late for him!”

Indeed, within moments the young officer’s body was consumed by what appeared as a wasting sickness, a leprous decay that quickly erased all traces of his existence.

I noticed that the Repli-Rats had not attempted to attack the Gargoyle or myself -- perhaps realising that our non-human origin gave us a certain immunity to their poison.

“Gorschlitz, do you think you can you do it?” said I, holding the unconscious girl safely in my arms. “My hands are a bit full right now.”

“My best I shall do, Doctor,” replied the Gargouellio.

With this, I saw Gorschlitz close his eyes and concentrate, raising his arms as if in an attitude of crucifixion. Then, from his form emanated something truly wondrous to behold; forsooth, as a shower of myriad multi-coloured lights -- red and blue and green and argent and golden and purple and purple beyond purple; in truth, all the colours of spectrums known and unknown, seen and unseen -- a display that highlights the exercise of that power which is only wielded by the legendary Gargouellios of Mu!

The lights settled on the Repli-Rats and affected their systems, causing them all to shatter into shards. Within seconds, the room was clear of them.

“What happened, Doctor?” enquired Sgt. Brown. “What did your friend’s energy weaponry do to them?”

“It just scrambled their engines, Sergeant,” I explained. “None the less, all Leknii technology is designed to self-destruct if it finds itself disabled, in order to avoid allowing their enemies any cannibalisation of their parts.”

“Sickening little things,” spat the security chief. “Eli was a good man.”

"Sergeant, what exactly is the purpose of Space Station 78?” I asked him. “I mean, what is its actual function?”

“The station monitors Space radio transmissions from throughout the Solar System,” he replied. “It has the most advanced receiver available.”

“Of course!” I realised. “The Replicants want to use this station to gather information as to the defences available to Earth and the other planets. Then they can know what to expect and perform the required upgrades on their own weaponry. This is indeed a prelude to an invasion of the entire Solar System!”

By now, I had gently put Primrose down in one of the chairs. The girl was beginning to recover from her swoon. I knelt down and looked into her eyes.

“How do you feel, love?” I enquired softly. “We are safe for the moment, so worry not. I shall take care of you. I am a Doctor, after all.”

“I… What’s happening here?” she enquired. “What were those things?”

“Sorry to say, it is an alien invasion,” I confessed. “We are under siege by a race of cyborgs known as the Leknii Replicants. They are from a planet in the distant Galaxy 8675309. Their world was at one time quite similar to Earth, and they themselves were originally much like human beings. Then, generations ago, the planet Leknii began to become uninhabitable due to climate change caused by industrial pollution. In order to survive, the Leknii began to replace their body parts with cybernetics. They are more machine now than man, and roam throughout Space in their rocket-ships looking for any humanoids that they can make into their own kind.”

“That’s horrible!” answered the girl.

“Nevertheless, we will fight it,” I assured her. “I am sorry you had to be here for this, but I promise to protect you. In fact, you really do inspire me to face danger and win, you know. Never have I more desired to go down the ‘Primrose Path’.”

I was pleased to see her smile at this. She then reached over and took my offered hand.

“If you do not mind my asking, love,” I said. “What exactly is a beautiful young lady like you doing on a Space station like this?”

“You are so sweet,” she replied. “I ran away from home. I was just so bored living on my parent’s farm in Iowa. I stowed away on a cargo ship going to Ultima Thule. Then when I got there I realised I would have to earn some money, so I ended up working here. When they evacuated, I just had no place else to go.”

We were then interrupted by a noise. It was as if something had hit the side of the station. This was followed by another, then another.

“Doctor!” I heard Gorschlitz exclaim. “A view of this you should have!”

I stood up and whirled around. The Gargoyle and the Sergeant had gone over to the video screen. It was no longer showing daytime entertainment shows. In stead, it showed a silver Leknii Replicant seated on the bridge of their spaceship.

“They have hacked into the transmission,” I said.

“Attention, inhabitants of Space Station 78,” intoned the Replicant in its emotionless, electronically-modulated voice. “We are the Leknii. All of humankind will be converted, and all interference will be terminated. You will be as we are. Resistance is useless. You will surrender the station to us now, or it will be destroyed.”

The view on the screen them changed to one from just outside the Space station. A number of large rocks were hurtling to-wards it.

“Incredible!“ I exclaimed. “They have engineered a meteor storm!”

Then the noises began again as Space Station 78 began to be pummelled. We felt the entire station shudder and quake as the meteors began to take their effect.

“Meteors? They’ll break the station apart!” exclaimed Sergeant Brown. “Doctor, what can we do?!”

I took the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and aimed it to-wards the video screen.

“If I can catch a hold on the residue of their transmission wave,” said I, “I should be able to hack into the system controlling the meteors… Yes! There it is!”

The pummelling of the station then stopped, and the view upon the screen now showed the huge Space rocks changing their direction away from us.

“What did you do, Doctor?” enquired Primrose.

“I switched the polarisation of the neutronic stream,” I explained, “thus causing the meteor storm to reverse course and go harmlessly out into Space. I just had to do it quickly, before the residue of the transmission from their ship faded.”

Then the view upon the video screen again changed. It now showed the Leknii ship.

“Approaching they are, Doctor,” stated Gorschlitz. “Within minutes they will arrive if not done something is.”

“Damn it!” swore Sgt. Brown. “Those meteors will have weakened the force shields. If those Replicant things attempt to board the station…”

“If they get that far, there will be no stopping them,” I shuddered. “They could take over Space Station 78 and utilise it as a base to then invade the Solar System!”

“Doctor, please!” exclaimed the girl. “Do something!”

Then an idea entered my mind. Something I remembered the security officers saying suddenly came back to me.

“Sergeant Brown,” I addressed him, “did you mention something earlier about a weapons system? Does the station have one?”

“Space Station 78 is equipped with a laser cannon for defensive purposes,” he replied. “But it was disabled by those robot rat things!”

“I should be able to fix it,” I suggested.

“It’s controlled from the security centre,” continued Brown. “We can go over there and I can enter the access code.”

“We have no time for that!” I informed him. “The Replicants will be aboard before we could even get to the lift.”

“Doctor,” said Gorschlitz, who was watching the video screen. “Entering docking distance they are!”

“Sergeant, I need the security code,” I insisted. “I should be able to access the laser cannon control by hacking through the video system into the station’s main computer, but I need the security code!”

The officer hesitated.

“Sergeant! I need the security access code now!!”

“Yes, of course,” he said. “Sorry; my security training. It is ‘alpha432beta285gamma062delta105epsilon382billieboy’.”

“‘billieboy’?” I enquired whilst programming the code into the transonic turnscrew.

“My grandson’s nickname,” explained the security man. “I programmed the code myself. It changes whenever a new security chief is assigned to the station.”

“Doctor!” interrupted Gorschlitz. “Preparing docking-clamps the Leknii are!”

I again pointed the transonic to-wards the video system and activated it. From deep within the station, we heard the sound of a large mechanism initiating.

“That’s it!” said Sergeant Brown. “You’ve repaired and activated it!”

“Now if I can just get it to target the Replicant ship…” I said. “Ah… here we go!”

There was then the further sound of a tremendous energy blast and upon the video screen could be seen a beam of finely focused light hitting the spaceship of the Leknii Replicants. After a moment, the ship exploded, completely disintegrating into countless tiny metallic shards.

“You did it!” exclaimed Primrose. “You blew them up! We’re saved!!”

Then the lovely young girl ran into my arms and started kissing me.

“Well,” said Sgt. Brown. “It looks like you have! Good work, Doctor! I need to get over to the security centre and run a systems check. If all is well, should it be okay for people to return to the station?”

“It should be fine, Sergeant,” I replied, having to somewhat break away from the girl‘s show of affection in order to do so. “The Replicants are defeated.”

“And no sign in the vicinity is there of another Leknii spaceship,” added Gorschlitz.

Sergeant Brown then hurried from the room to get to his duties, leaving me there with the Gargouellio and the enthusiastic young beauty.

“Complete our mission is,” said Gorschlitz. “Return to the DiTraS we may.”

“You are such a hero, Doctor!” said the lovely girl as she again started to cover my face with warm kisses. “You saved us all!”

“All in a day’s work love,” I told her.

“Work…” she said. “Oh, I don’t want to go back to work here after seeing all this! It would be as boring as the farm! I wish I had… somewhere else to go.”

She then looked up into my eyes and gave a pleading smile.

“Are you saying you would like to go with us?” I queried with a smile. “Because I think that could be arranged.”

“Oh yes!” she squealed. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Then the gorgeous little lass hugged me tighter and kissed me even more warmly. As pleasant as this was, I had to admit it was getting a bit embarrassing, and it had come time that the three of us should be departing Space Station 78.

“Please, Primrose,” I teased as we all began to exit the café. “Not in front of the Gargoyle.”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “LOVE AND ROCKETS”

THE CHEERLEADER EXPERIMENT

Don Wingus, the most evil and corrupt being in the history of the Universe, is missing and presumed dead, killed when one of his wicked plots to establish his dictatorship over all of existence backfired upon him. Nevertheless, his disciples live on in the form of the horrid occult terrorist organisation known as Spectral Paranormal.

Evil thrives in concealment, and for some time the location of the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal was unknown to me. Recent events had changed that.

First, there was the disciple of Wingus named Joseph Wilson. When I had dealt with this hideous (and thankfully now deceased) individual, he was entrenched as a tour guide at the Baltimore Aquarium. As it turns out, this position had been secured for him by Don Wingus himself, both for purposes of infiltration and because Wingus found it expedient and amusing to indulge his perverted underling’s fetish for fish. Indeed, the administration of the Aquarium never realised that part of the froth found at the top of their tanks was, for a time, actually Mr. Wilson’s semen.

Before Joseph Wilson had been employed at the Baltimore Aquarium, however, he had had another job. He had been a disc-jockey and sound technician at The Depot Tavern, a Baltimore dive-bar so named due to its close proximity to the city’s main train station.

Further evidence was revealed after the death of the grotesquely-deformed woman known as Madame Temacula. A long-time Wingus disciple and Spectral Paranormal agent, Temecula herself had been from the mountains of West Virginia, but had been given two henchmen who had also been frequent patrons of The Depot Tavern, being would-be “heavy metal” musicians in some god-awful band.

The information concerning the identity of Temacula and her two deceased servants had been obtained for me with the help of my old friend Professor Clarence Quiltey, a forensics expert at Johns Hopkins University.

Therefore, I journeyed to The Depot Tavern one evening, entering the marihuana-smoke filled establishment and bracing my ears to the ridiculous onslaught of cacophonous garbage that is known as “Doom”, or some such nonsense.

I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket. As I approached the bar I was recognised by the bouncer, a large, disgustingly-plebeian type of the kind most usually seen at this place, dressed in the seemingly-requisite black t-shirt and dungarees. He grabbed me by the shoulder roughly.

“You’re that friggin’ Rumanos guy, ain’t you?” he spat. “You ain’t comin’ in here, you friggin’ paedophile weirdo!”

I wasted no time with this worthless individual, grabbing his wrist and flipping him over utilising my own mastery of Daemonian Jujitsu. He hit the wall and slipped into unconsciousness.

Before any other of the joint’s regulars could also accost me, I took the opportunity to fulfil my mission. Taking the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen) from my pocket, I proceeded to point it to-wards the row of sound equipment being used by the band. I had already programmed the transonic to overload the electric musical equipment, and now activated it.

Sparks of flame immediately erupted from the amplifiers and I heard the band’s lead guitarist scream in pain as an electrical current took the life from him. Fire began to burst from all sides of the tavern as the building’s rather-antiquated electrical system helped to spread it. Some of the patrons began to scatter and attempt to flee from the carnage, but it was too late for them. Spectral Paranormal operatives or supporters all, they had sold away their rights to be treated as human beings and it was now time for them to indeed face their doom!

I had by now left the building, having used the transonic turnscrew to seal the locks on the doors so that none could escape. Earlier, I had done a radar scan that had uncovered a hidden room underneath the bar -- a room that I knew had to be the secret lair previously used by Don Wingus as a place to plan and plot his evil schemes. I had made certain that the electrical conflagration that I planned to cause would reach to it, thus destroying the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal forever.

As I sped down that street in Baltimore City, driving my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) to-wards the downtown area in hopes of finding a late-night restaurant, I heard The Depot Tavern explode into fire and flame with a sound not unlike the clashing of steel.

“Heavy metal, indeed,” said I. …

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!!! …

The tortured man screamed one final scream of absolute horror, of terror and pain and anguish, before expiring. He was clad in a blue worker’s uniform, complete with a name-tag that declared his moniker to be “Fred”. Somewhat elderly of appearance, with greying hair and the deeply-lined face of a lifetime labourer, he lay on a table with his wrists and ankles held down by clamps.

“Useless,” spoke the creature standing over him. “Completely useless.”

The creature was like a short, squat man wearing a silvered coverall garment over his obviously thickly-muscled form, his head covered by something resembling a diving-helmet. He held a large, triangular device in one gloved hand, switching off the eerie light that had shone from it. He then raised his other hand and began to speak into another device upon his wrist:

“This is Adjunct Major Ttyffe recording. The Earth creature ceased living shortly after experiment began. Little or no resistance to fear. Body system seems weak and underdeveloped for facing conflict. Will do further tests on others, but must begin to conclude that this species is of no foreseeable opposition. Our conquest of this planet should be of no difficulty.” …

The young girl walked slowly down the steps into the basement. She had thought she was alone in the building. Her coach and the other members of the Parkville Middle School Cheerleading Squad had already left, and she had just been waiting for her older brother to arrive in his car to pick her up (and had just about concluded that he had decided to go gaming with his friends and had forgotten all about her) when she heard a noise.

“Oh my,” she had said to herself, her beautiful eyes wide with concern. “What could that be? I hope somebody isn’t hurt.”

It was a noise like a cry, a far off scream, as of someone in agony, seemingly coming from the school basement. Remembering the requisite Rescue/CPR training she had taken the year before, the girl had swallowed her fear and gone to investigate.

The lass was slender and beautiful, still clad in her short-skirted, bare-midriff cheerleader outfit, resplendent in its violet-and-cherry school colours. Her hair was like liquorice, her eyes the deepest shade of blue. The girl’s complexion was as the finest and purest white of alabaster, and her mouth was wide and sensuous.

The basement was dark, the only light coming from near by streetlamps shining obliquely through the high up windows. The girl crept along warily, careful to not trip over the various types of classroom equipment kept here in the dusty basement storerooms, and which she could barely see in the dim illumination.

The girl heard footsteps coming from an adjoining room and she quickly ducked behind a stack of old transparency-projectors. She carefully peered from behind them and her mouth opened in wonder at what she then beheld.

A short man in a strange coverall garment and helmet stalked out petulantly from a doorway. He continued over to where a breeze of air was wafting down from upstairs and began to remove the helmet. There was just enough light from the windows for the girl to observe his face.

What was revealed was to the girl a thing of complete eldritch horror and total otherworldly madness. The creature’s head was dome-shaped and hairless, with a thick spiny ridge reaching from his forehead to the back of his almost non-existent neck. He had three eyes, deep red in colour, and his small, cruel mouth seemed set at a perpetual snarl. His skin was coloured a dark grey.

Overcome by fear, by extreme terror and disbelief at this suddenly bizarre and unexpected situation, the young girl started screaming.

The alien creature whirled around at the sound and, in his haste, upset a store of gymnasium equipment. He was briefly distracted whilst a dozen or so soccer balls bounced around him.

The girl turned and ran, hurrying up the stairway into the darkened central corridor of the school. …

I had just arrived at Parkville Middle School (part of the Baltimore County Public School system) that evening, it being the night following my raid upon the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal. I was at the school to investigate, as a mission for the Kosmikos, reports that a Dojjolye was using it to perform experimentations upon human subjects. I had already ascertained that the alien warrior had left his spaceship concealed in a near by wooded area, and had then made my way to the school post haste.

Parkville Middle School seemed abandoned at first, as I used the transonic turnscrew to open the lock on the main doorway and enter the front hall. I proceeded down the corridor, which was illuminated only by the night-time security lights. Finding nothing, I was just about to begin a scan for alien technology when I saw someone running to-wards me.

A few seconds later, a beautiful young girl in a cheerleader’s uniform flew into my arms.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, whoever you are!” she exclaimed. “There’s something here, in the basement, something terrible!”

“Try to relax, love,” I consoled her. “I am Dr. Rumanos.”

“Doctor who?” she enquired.

“No, Dr. Rumanos,” I corrected her. “I have no idea why people so often make that mistake. But you can indeed call me ‘Doctor’.”

“I’m Dolly Byrd,” she introduced herself.

“You most certainly are,” I said. “Now, this thing you saw, would it happen to be a short, bald-headed alien soldier type?”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Well, actually, I know all sorts of things, Miss Byrd. You see…”

“Dolly.”

“I know all sorts of things, Dolly. You see, I am here looking for that alien. He is one of a space-going warrior race known as the Dojjolye. Forsooth, the Dojjolye are a clone race, bred only for war, and expertly-trained in all aspects of fighting and battle strategy. They are currently attempting to conduct a series of experiments on the people of Earth, in order to ascertain what level of resistance this planet could offer against them. Actually, the Dojjolye Star Empire has been at war with another alien race, known as the Jegrodis, for centuries. They now feel that this planet is in a good tactical position for them to use as a field command centre, but wanted to see what kind of opposition they might first have to face from its inhabitants. They are using a device called the ‘Adverse Thought Transmitter’ that causes the unfortunate subject to experience the emotions of extreme and uncontrollable fear by preying on whatever inherent phobias he or she may have, and making them appear to be real. Three of the Dojjolye, armed with these horrid devices, were sent to different regions of the planet, and I took care of the other two last week. One was in Scotland; the other was cruelly experimenting on a native tribe deep in the jungles of El Salvador.”

“El what?” she enquired.

“Salvador, Dolly. It does not surprise me that the third would be in the Baltimore area. This region seems to attract violence. By the way, I like your school colours.”

“Thanks,” she said, smiling sweetly at my attempt to calm her fears. “You like the cherry?”

“Very much,” I assured her. “Now, this Dojjolye -- where was he when you saw him last?”

“He was right behind me.”

“What!” I exclaimed.

I was then hit sidewise by the searing heat of the energy weapon upon the Dojjolye’s wrist device. I saw Dolly Byrd faint away in fear as I myself slipped into unconsciousness from the effects of the weapon. The Dojjolye strode into view and looked down upon our prostrate forms.

“Another two test subjects,” he sneered. “The experiment will now continue.” …

I awakened with a terrible headache, and found myself chained to a wall in what appeared to be the school basement. Dolly Byrd was near by, lying upon an examination table to which her hands and feet had been clamped. She was just recovering from her swoon.

I looked around the room. The Dojjolye was there, doing some adjustments on a triangular device about a half-metre long. I recognised it as that horridly cruel apparatus known as the Adverse Thought Transmitter.

Crumpled and discarded against the far wall was the corpse of a man, grey haired and clad in a janitor’s uniform.

“I see it’s too late to do anything to help that poor chap,“ I said.

“Oh my God!” cried Dolly in recognition. “That’s Mr. Fred, the school custodian! He was such a nice old man! He used to always sneak in pizza for the football team after practice…”

“The subject proved to be of an inferior type,” announced the Dojjolye. “This female of the species is much more interesting.”

“Well, I do agree with you there,” I said, “though I am certain that you impotent clones could ever truly appreciate the charms of a young lady,”

“I am Adjunct Major Ttyffe of the Dojjolye Imperial Army,” sneered the alien. “You know of our kind, Earthman?”

(So the Dojjolye had not as yet had a chance to perform a bio-scan on me, and still mistook me for an human. I decided to attempt using this to advantage.)

“Oh, I can assure you the Earth authorities know quite a bit about you, Ttyffe,” I lied. “We are prepared for your invasion, and the United Earth Space Fleet is prepared to blast your kind out of existence.”

“That is impossible,” rejoined the Dojjolye. “No one can stand against us. We are the most perfect military force in the Universe.”

“Nonsense!” I returned. “You have been at war with the Jegrodis for generations, and have not been able to prevail.”

“We will emerge victorious over the octopoid scum of the Jegrodis soon, just as we will prevail against your kind, Earthman,” insisted Ttyffe. “Our experiments will assure that.”

“‘Experiments’?” I mocked. “Since when do Dojjolye value science?”

“Science is only useful as a tool of war,” he replied. “War is the way of the Universe, and all that aids it is useful to us.”

With this, the Dojjolye held his Adverse Thought Transmitter device over the helpless Dolly Byrd and activated it, the effect of its eerie light sending thoughts of fear and phobia into the beautiful young cheerleader’s mind -- thoughts of snakes and of spiders and of falling and of darkness and of being alone. The girl screamed and I saw tears burst from her eyes.

Do you recognise the unspeakable and ungodly horror of this situation, readers? The Dojjolye soldier known as Adjunct Major Ttyffe was tormenting that helpless young girl, causing her to experience the loathsome terror of every dreadful nightmare usually held in the deepest depths of the human mind!

“Stop it!” I shouted. “Stop torturing that poor child, you unspeakable abomination!”

Ttyffe was turned away from me. In his haste to ignore my pleas, he had not noticed that I had managed to free myself from the chains utilising an advanced escapology method. I hurried over and gave him a jujitsu blow, flooring him, and sending the horrid torture device to smash to pieces against the far wall of the basement chamber.

I went over to Dolly and quickly used the transonic turn-screw to release the girl from her bonds.

“Dolly, can you hear me?” I whispered in her ear. “It is the Doctor.”

She nodded her head in recognition, weak but already beginning to recover from her fright with that alacrity that only exists in the very young.

“All will be fine if you just listen to me, love,” I continued. “Listen to me…”

Nevertheless, the Dojjolye known as Adjunct Major Ttyffe, bred and trained for battle of all kinds, had managed to recover quickly and rose up to face me. I knew I only had a matter of second before he would activate his energy gun.

“Ttyffe!” I confronted him. “These people upon which you have been experimenting are nothing. It is I who represent the true warrior race of this planet. As such, I now challenge you to unarmed, hand-to-hand combat. As an honourable warrior of the Dojjolye Space Empire, you cannot refuse!”

“Your challenge is accepted, Earthman,” returned Ttyffe. “But you do know that such a battle can only be to the death?”

“Of course, Dojjolye. I would not have it any other way.”

And with this, after a brief ceremonial bow akin to that performed by noble combatants everywhere, the Dojjolye warrior and I rushed upon each other to clash in a fight, a battle, a violent conflict from which I knew only one of us could possibly emerge alive!!

I was much taller than the Dojjolye, but he was bulky and incredibly hard-muscled. Our fight consisted of wrestling holds and blows and martial arts manoeuvres -- in sooth, it seemed to be a mixture of every type of hand-to-hand, one-on-one, unarmed combat known to civilisation.

Ttyffe would pummel me hard with his fists, and I would respond with a chop to his midsection that sent him briefly staggering. When I attempting to use this moment to gain the advantage, he would come back with a sudden barrage of kicks that necessitated my protecting my head area until I could return a roundhouse punch that temporarily stopped him.

Then, the alien soldier suddenly grasped me around the chest area and attempted to squeeze the life from me. The pain was intense and extreme as I struggled for breath, but I managed to reach out from the anguish and give Ttyffe a blow to the face with my elbow that caused him to relax his hold; to relax it just enough for me to hook my foot around his ankle and send us both crashing to the floor.

I leaped up quickly and stood facing the Dojjolye as an honourable fighter should, when he suddenly activated the energy weapon on his wrist device. Nevertheless, in stead of firing on me at point blank range, as was his intention, the gun backfired, causing a blast that enveloped his entire arm and caused him to cry out in pain.

“You have lost, Dojjolye,” I announced to him. “Your attempt to trick me and use your weapon was not the way of a worthy soldier. Your actions have proven that your people have no right to occupy this planet! Besides, it appears that you are now, well… ‘unarmed’.”

Ttyffe stood up, cradling his now-lifeless left arm in his right hand, and began to make his way to-wards the doorway.

“You have won nothing, Earthman!” he snarled back. “The great Dojjolye Star Empire will yet conquer this world!”

And with this, the alien warrior quickly stalked away. I soon heard his heavy footsteps echoing down the school corridors to-wards the outside.

Dolly Byrd then skipped over and handed me back the transonic turnscrew before then throwing her dear little arms around me. 

“Did I do it right, Doctor?” queried the lovely lass. “Did I push the right button?”

“Miss Dolly Byrd,” I told her. “I can assure you that you indeed push all the right buttons.”

“Umm, so how did you know he would do that?” she asked. “Try to use his gun, I mean?”

“The honour of the Dojjolye Imperial Army has always been that they are a purely military force, dedicated only to war,” I explained. “When I saw that they are now using scientific experiments as part of their strategy, I realised that they had compromised their own principles. Besides, no civilised being, even one dedicated to a life a wartime slaughter, would ever resort to torture, as they have now done! I thus realised that it would only take a little impetus for him to commit such a cowardly act as attempting to use his energy gun in what was supposed to be a barehanded combat. Not being able to do it myself without him noticing, I slipped the transonic to you and whispered what to do to make it cause his weapon to overload -- and you did it quite well, love; quite well indeed!”

With this, the gorgeous young cheerleader smiled and blushed and we shared a quick but especially warm kiss.

We were then interrupted by the sound of an explosion coming from the distance outside.

“What was that, Doctor?!” enquired Dolly.

“Oh, that was just Ttyffe’s ship blowing up,” I explained. “I paid a visit to it earlier, before I got here, and programmed the engine to self-destruct if he tried to engage the lift-off sequence.”

Dolly Byrd glanced then at her mobile telephone, on which she had just received a text message.

“It’s my brother,” she explained. “He says his car broke down and he can’t pick me up. Our parents went to some theatre thing tonight. How am I going to get back home? I can’t walk home in the dark!”

I looked at the girl, young Miss Dolly Byrd. She was exquisitely beautiful, a true nymphet, made for love.

“Worry not, sweetheart,” I assured her. “I shall get you home safely, but I do sincerely hope that you will do me the honour of joining me for dinner first. I know an excellent seafood establishment near here.”

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I would love it!”

“Fantastic! I suppose you would indeed be in need of a ride, since you apparently do not have a ‘Dolly Llama’.”

“A what?”

“Never mind. Come along then, Dolly, and I shall introduce you to Lizzie.”

“‘Lizzie’?” repeated the girl disappointedly. “Is that your girlfriend?”

“No, nothing like that,” I explained. “Lizzie is my car.” 

“Oh, okay!” Dolly Byrd said, flashing another lovely smile as she took my hand. “That’s good to hear!” …

A few days later, a strange figure walked into the North Baltimore headquarters of the “child advocacy” organisation known as the Maryland Children’s Alliance. He was tall and dressed in a black suit of Nineteenth-Century style. His face showed him to be apparently a man of middle years, his countenance still showing marks of distinction despite being marred with the signs of lifetimes of great profligate wickedness. His hair was long and dark, and his visage was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Around him there seemed to be an absolute aura of satanic darkness and acute decadent iniquity.

“May I help you, sir?” said a thin, pale, and obviously-homosexual young man serving as the group’s office receptionist.

“Yes, you most certainly can,” said the man in black, his voice replete with a tone of arrogant authority. “I am here to see the director of this organisation. We need to speak about some changes that will be immediately implemented.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” answered the receptionist. “You’ll need to make an appointment if you want to speak to the Director.”

“I need no appointment,” said the other as stared down at the receptionist with eyes glowing hypnotically. “I am Master Don Wingus, and you will obey me.” … 

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “GARGOYLES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN”

PEDEROSIS

The alien planet resembled a rock quarry with strange mists drifting across it, and an odd hum in the sky like an electronic battery. My companion and I walked across the landscape after having exited our Time/Space travel vehicle that looks like an old Roman column. I was clad in my usual finery -- including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket. My companion was a young girl.

(Why are we here? Why are we not discussing the mission? Is there any message from the Kosmikos concerning our assignment?)

She was a brunette, tall and well-developed for her age, with large pale eyes and a wide, sensuous mouth. She was dressed in a blue and pink striped skirt and matching halter top. Her name was Victoria Wingus.

(What! Is not Victoria Wingus deceased? Surely, she died sacrificing herself to save Earth from an alien invasion, did she not?)

Suddenly, from over the horizon marched an army of tall, silver men, striding to-wards us in their efficient and emotionless way.

“Leknii Replicants!” said I.

I moved forward and raised my hands, releasing a wave of bright orange and blue Algolitish power. My energies hit the Replicants directly, quickly burning them out of existence.

(How do I have this power? Such energies can only be wielded by members of the Absolute Convention of the Watchers. I did indeed have them on loan for some time a while back, but that changed when… Well, never mind.)

Immediately after our first assailants had vanished, another group of creatures approached from over the horizon. They were about the size of an human torso, but that is where all similarity to sane creation ended. For each of these beings was as a mass of tendrils intertwined with electronic material. Their eyes, ebon-black slits showing a gaze of pure hate, could be perceived from deep within their grotesque forms. They hovered about a metre above the ground as they approached us.

“Eliminate!” they threatened in their harshly-enhanced voices. “Eliminate!!”

“Those are Mynverkossian Mutations!” I exclaimed.

(Why are both these races of evil beings, old enemies of mine, here on this same strange planet?)

Then, Victoria Wingus raised her arm and sent forth a bolt of energy from it, an ability she had acquired when she herself had been one of the Replicants of Leknii. The Mutations quickly fell to the ground when the blast hit them, broken into pieces.

(Since when are Mynverkossian Mutations that easily defeated?)

Nevertheless, the greatest horror was yet to come. For at that moment, appearing from over the horizon of that strange world was the figure of a man, forsooth a giant seemingly hundreds of feet tall. He was dressed in a black vestment robe, the hood down. I looked up into his face.

It was the countenance of a man of middle years, still showing marks of distinction despite being blemished with the signs of extreme profligate evil. He had long dark hair and his gigantic visage was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most striking were his eyes, which shone with a bizarre hypnotic glow.

“Don Wingus!!” I shuddered, recognising this being, despite his great increase in size, as my oldest and bitterest enemy -- and as the estranged father of my young companion.

(But is Don Wingus also not dead? Was he not destroyed, utterly annihilated when one of his evil schemes failed? Or did he once again manage to escape? And how and why did he grow to this monstrous size?)

The giant Don Wingus then began to laugh, a sound without mirth, without happiness -- a noise of pure sin and unnameable iniquity beyond all imagining.

Then there were two of him. Then there were three of him.

Then I heard Victoria begin to scream… 

I awoke and sat up in bed, drenched in sweat. The room was dark except for an hint of moonlight shining through the draperies of a near by window.

“Are you all right, Daniel?” said a sweet female voice from beside me.

“No worries, Millie,” I assured her. “It was only a dream.”

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 a warm day, with intermittent clouds, as I drove my specially-modified, canary-coloured Edwardian Roadster -- affectionately known as “Lizzie” -- into the downtown area of Towson, Maryland. The Kosmikos had informed me that this area of Baltimore County was to be the site of my next mission, but had not given any further information. Apparently, the details of the matter were too dangerous to be broadcast on even the encrypted subspace transmission on which I had received the assignment.

In the passenger’s seat was my friend the Hollywood actress Millie Drake, who was visiting whilst awaiting news concerning a major film role for which she had recently auditioned. The beautiful tween starlet -- petite and perfect with luxurious chestnut hair, wondrous violet eyes, and luscious pink lips -- was wearing a short, low-cut dress navy blue in colour.

“So where are we going, Daniel?” enquired Millie. “This is so exciting!”

“Well, it actually could be quite dangerous, love,” I informed her. “I do hope you know and understand that.”

“Oh, I’m sure I’ll be safe with you,” she purred.

“Well, if you insist,” I acquiesced. “Nevertheless, even I am not certain what exactly we will be facing, so be prepared, eh?”

Then, as if on cue, something horrible came into view. It flew up from behind the buildings lining the street, its huge shadow blocking out the sun.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Millie. “Daniel, what is that?”

I looked up at the thing and found it difficult to believe the evidence of my own senses. It was like a gigantic flying reptile, coloured slate-grey, and rather like an incredibly-oversized airborne crocodile with a wingspan about 200 feet wide. It soared high above the town and opened its mouth with a raucous squawking sound that echoed around the area.

“No, it could not be!” I exclaimed. “That is Nodar!!”

As I attempted to drive Lizzie to somewhere with a degree of safety, the creature started to flap its wings vigorously, causing wind gusts equal to hurricane proportions. The windows of the near by buildings began to shatter and the pedestrians on the sidewalk screamed in horror and ran for cover. Numerous automobiles went out of control and began to crash into the sides of the local shopping complexes.

And then, before I could even consider what to do to remedy the situation, another monstrosity came into view -- albeit one of a decidedly more colourful appearance, and in its way even beautiful. It was flying in from the other direction and looked liked nothing other than a gigantic butterfly, red and yellow in hue. It perched atop the roof of the Towson Town Centre mall and began to spray a type of silken webbing around the building.

“It is Monarka!” said I.

“You know what these monsters are, Daniel?” asked the girl, nervous with fright. “You know their names?”

We had by now taken shelter behind the new cinema complex and alighted from the car.

“Yes, I do, Millie,” I answered. “But they are not something I had thought to ever see here and now! They are monsters from the first period of Earth’s formation, before even the dinosaurs. In fact, before anything you would recognise as natural life existed on this planet. You see, the radiation of Earth’s creation caused the coming into being of numerous gigantic monsters, themselves distorted forms of what would later exist on the planet -- reptiles, insects, mammals, and so forth. They reigned alone on this world for countless ages, well-nigh immortal, before finally going into hibernation deep within the planet. They are only dimly remembered in obscure legends, like of what the ancient Greeks called the “Titans”. Perhaps the Japanese mythology knows them best, where they are known as ‘KAIJU’.”

“So you mean somebody has woken them up?” queried Millie.

“Apparently. Now we just need to find out who would do that and why!”

But the answer to this, at least in part, was to come sooner than I had expected. For at that moment, the large video screen over the Towson Circle, which is usually utilised for advertising and local news purposes, suddenly began broadcasting a message. It was the image of a person wearing an ‘Anonymous’ mask and a black jacket, though I could tell from her shoulders and her black-haired wig that she was a woman. Her voice was electronically disguised as she spoke the following:

“We are EARTHCLEANSE, and you are witnessing the beginning of the end of your civilisation. We will cleanse the Earth and bring it back to the pristine glory of its beginning. The human race will be annihilated except for our chosen ones.”

“‘Earthcleanse’?” I repeated. “Sounds like environmentalism gone mad! I will deal with these eco-terrorist types, Millie, and…”

A wave of horror then passed through me as I realised that Millie Drake was gone. Sometime during the brief moments that I had looked away from her, she had vanished. There had been no time for her to have sought shelter. The only explanation is that she had been abducted -- expertly snatched by someone adept at such atrocities.

“Doctor Daniel Rumanos,” suddenly addressed the voice of the person on the screen. “We have taken your young companion. She will not be harmed as long as you do not interfere. Be warned, however, if you attempt any action against our crusade, the child will immediately be executed!

“But there is more,” continued the voice, now once again addressing all and sundry. “Much more. For we have waited until now to present to you the Lord of All Monsters, the very being that will ensure our victory and the cleansing of this planet!”

And with this, there suddenly descended from high in the sky a terror beyond all that had been seen up until now. It was hundreds of feet high and its feet were two enormous claws. It flew down on membranous bat-like wings. It was completely black in colour and it had three horrid reptilian heads that were atop long, snakelike necks that writhed in a constant hideous motion. The thing landed in the middle of Towson Circle with force that sent the concrete cracking in all directions.

“Citizens,” proclaimed the person on the screen, “welcome your Armageddon; welcome the Bringer of Storms; welcome… KING WINGOSUS!!!” 

The gigantic eldritch terror known as King Wingosus hissed from its three horrid heads. The resultant exhalations were a poisonous gas that began to affect the people who had not yet managed to flee the area. Some were only sickened. Others were rendered unconscious. Some of them, especially the elderly and the weak, died as a result of inhaling the fumes of the monster’s breath.

The other two monsters, Nodar and Monarka, had ceased their activities and seemed to bow down in obeisance to the three-headed horror.

Fortunately, my Algolitish physique gave me immunity to the noxious exhalations of Wingosus. I walked over to Lizzie, attempting to appear fearful and dejected in case I was being observed by members of Earthcleanse. I did not want to do anything that would cause them to fulfil their threat against Millie Drake, but I had to take some action against the horrors they were bringing upon the world.

“There is only one creature in all of existence that can deal with King Wingosus,” I said to myself. “PEDEROSIS!”

I took the transonic turnscrew -- an highly-advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen -- from the pocket of my jacket, and aimed it to-wards my car radio. I was programming it to emit a signal, a call that could only be heard by one being. 

I looked at the small video screen upon Lizzie‘s dashboard. It showed a scene far out at sea. The waters began to become tumultuous, as if some gigantic thing were rising from the depths. From this, I knew that my signal had been received. …

Near by, at the top level of a tall apartment building, young Millie Drake was being held captive in a sparsely-furnished but well air-conditioned room. Her kidnappers were three, one the masked woman who had appeared on the large video screen, the others were big, heavy-set men of a rather plebeian type, dressed in black jeans and t-shirts emblazoned with the logos of trashy “heavy metal” bands. They both eyed the girl lustfully as she sat huddled upon a sofa, but made no move to molest her.

“Remember, both of you,” said the woman, “do not harm that child. We must give Rumanos no excuse to take action against us.”

“Yes, Madame Temacula,” said the henchmen in unified conformity.

“But, at the first sign of covert activity from him -- send her to her death!!” …

Outside, Wingosus had continued to unleash his poisonous fumes from the centre of Towson Circle. The area was by now mostly evacuated, and there were some signs of a military presence starting to form in response to the situation. I knew, however, that their efforts would be to no avail. No weapon on Earth could be effective against these ancient monstrosities. Nothing could be, except…

Then, there was a sound. A noise as of a long, earthshaking roar of challenge. Standing at the opposite end of the street from Wingosus was a monster thirty storeys tall and green of colour. A flash as of fire came from his breath. He was like a gigantic, thickly-muscled, bipedal lizard with row of spikes down his back and tail. His eyes, large but subtly slanted, bespoke of intelligence and determination.

“Pederosis,” said I.

The challenge made, these two monsters, Pederosis and King Wingosus, their heads seemingly as high as the very sky, began to rush to-wards each other. It would truly be a clash of Titans, a battle of giants -- a fight from which only one of these combatants could possibly emerge intact! …

Inside the headquarters of Earthcleanse, the masked woman was outraged.

“What has he done?!” she shrieked. “Only Rumanos could have called that thing! That is Pederosis, the very monster of which the Master warned us! He said it was the only thing that could possibly stand against King Wingosus!”

“I knew Daniel would find a way,” said Millie Drake quietly as she continued to huddle upon the sofa, though somehow less frightened than before. “I knew he would.”

“Why you insolent little brat!” screamed the woman, then turning to address her associates. “Kill that accursed child! Kill her now!!”

“Yes, Madame Temacula,” said both henchmen in unison.

One of the men opened the large window of the top-floor flat, whilst the other reached down and picked up Millie from the sofa. He leered wickedly, enjoying the touch of her warm young body as he carried her over. He enjoyed her struggles, her cries, her fear. He even enjoyed a feeling of climax as he released her, throwing her directly out of that window to-wards the hard pavement below.

Screaming in terror, Millie Drake plummeted from the height of the building!

Do you perceive the horror, the extreme demoniacal terror of this situation my friends? Not only was the town -- and possibly soon the entire Earth -- being besieged by gigantic monsters, but now the supposed environmentalist extremist organisation known as “Earthcleanse” was attempting to murder that young girl, Miss Millie Drake, just in order to take revenge on me for having opposed their nefarious plots!

The poor wee lass fell screaming to-wards the unforgiving concrete. Then, just before she would have reached it and perished horribly, a canary-coloured blur appeared just below her. It was my trusty roadster, Lizzie, and I drove the car there in haste, arriving just in time for Millie to land safely and softly in the passenger’s seat.

“Specially-modified shock-absorbent seats,” I explained. “I invented the technology for it myself. Are you all right, love?”

“I… I’m fine!” answered Millie in amazement. “It just feels so good to be back with you! Those horrible people who took me away -- who are they really?”

“They are not real environmentalists, of course,” I explained as I drove the car to a place of comparative safety. “When they introduced the monster, King Wingosus, they kind of gave it away. You see, Wingosus is not one of the ancient Earth monsters that I told you about. No, it is something else entirely. In actuality, Wingosus is an alien hybrid horror formed in Outer Space during the time of the Galactic Wars! What is more, he was created by my old archenemy, one who even had the unholy arrogance to name the monster after himself -- the renegade Algolite known as Master Don Wingus!”

“Oh my God!” exclaimed the damsel. “You mean those people work for that disgusting Don Wingus?!”

“Yes, although Wingus himself is still missing and presumed dead, his satanic disciples live on and act to continue his evil plans.”

“The woman is called ‘Madame Temacula’,” Millie informed me.

“‘Temacula’?” I repeated. “Why, that is yet another derivative of ‘Wingus’! Both are related to terms signifying the intoxication of wine. But of course! Now I have no doubt that this ‘Earthcleanse’ is actually only a front for his occult terrorist organisation -- Spectral Paranormal!!”

I had by now parked the car behind the Towson Town Centre mall, and from this vantage point we could view the battle of the monsters. Wingosus and Pederosis continued to exchange blows, with Wingosus continuously biting his opponent with the fang-filled mouths of all three horrid heads, in between flying upwards on its membranous wings and descending quickly to grasp at Pederosis with the horrid claws of its feet.

Nevertheless, Pederosis more than held his own, pummelling his foe with karate-type blows and lashing his long, spiked tail at the horrible Wingosus, At times, he would unleash a blast of his radioactive fire-breath at the unearthly terror, causing the thing to retreat several paces before it could recover and continue the battle. 

Amongst it all could be heard the challenging roar of the mighty Pederosis and the hideous answering hisses of the demoniacal creature known as King Wingosus!

“So that giant lizard is a good monster then?” enquired Millie from our observation point. “Can he really defeat that Wingosus thing?”

“If anyone can defeat Wingosus, it would be Pederosis!” I rejoined. “You see, Pederosis was the greatest and most powerful of the ancient monsters; the Titans or Kaiju! He gained his extra powers by feeding on the radiations from the early days of the formation of planet Earth! He is the original ‘alpha predator’ -- the most dominant monster in all of Earth’s history!”

“So how did you get him here, really?”

“I summoned him by utilising a signal especially programmed for only this type of emergency! Pederosis usually sleeps in profound hibernation in the deepest chasms of the ocean, but he can be called up in most urgent times -- by one who knows!”

“Daniel, if these monsters and things like them exist,” queried the girl, “how is it that most people never hear of them?”

“Do you remember the Zedgonnim gambit with the Chesapeake Bay Monster; or the Bigfoot in the Baltimore Metro?”

I could tell by the puzzled look on the girl’s face that she had no idea what I was talking about.

“You see?” I continued. “The human race seems to have an infinite capacity to forget things that would mess up their complacent worldview. They make excuses; they cover it up without even really realising what they are doing.”

“But this! It’s so huge! All these monsters! When all this is hopefully over, it couldn’t just be explained away, could it?”

“We shall see, sweetheart,” I told her “We shall see.”

It was then that something terrible happened. The other two monsters, Nodar and Monarka, had up until now taken no part in the conflict -- but now that suddenly changed. For it was then that Nodar, that flying reptilian horror, took to the sky and flew up behind Pederosis, attacking him from behind!

“It is just a thing of nature,” I explained. “Nodar currently acknowledges King Wingosus as his alpha, and feels compelled to aid it against Pederosis!”

Indeed, and this caused just enough distraction that Wingosus was able to increase its own attacks on the heroic giant lizard.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Millie. “Daniel, it’s killing him! Look! Pederosis is dying!”

Bleeding and torn by the continued attacks of his now-two opponents, Pederosis began to fall down in defeat…

Can you see the terror in this, my friends? Pederosis, the last hope of Earth against the monstrous horror of King Wingosus, was beaten -- seemingly-defeated by the flying monster Nodar now having taken the side of the alien horror known as King Wingosus!!

It was then that something wondrous happened; in sooth something exceedingly delightful and amazing. For it was then that Monarka, the giant butterfly, suddenly flew up and began to spin her silken web-like substance around Wingosus! The three-headed monster was quickly covered by the silk, the substance hindering its movements.

“She is helping him!” I exclaimed. “Monarka is coming to the aid of Pederosis!”

“‘She’?” asked Millie.

“Yes, ‘she’ indeed,” I assured her, “and there is nothing better than having a beautiful lady by one’s side.”

With this, I put my arm around the lovely young girl, and she snuggled close to me as we continued the watch the battle of the monsters.

This interlude was enough time for Pederosis to begin to recover, and indeed the mighty monster used the moments well. He closed his eyes and seemed to concentrate, calling upon previously-unseen powers. His entire enormous body began to glow with a radioactive charge, a charge that healed and renewed him, and soon Pederosis was a glowing giant as of electric fire!

Pederosis then charged to-wards King Wingosus, bodily slamming the alien horror and burning it with the radioactive flame. Soon Wingosus was only a burnt, dying conflagration of matter, and its remains went soaring through the air.

The gigantic, burning cinders that were once King Wingosus wafted to-wards the buildings in which were the headquarters of the so-called “Earthcleanse”. The masked woman known as Madame Temacula watched in abject shock as the fire approached. Her two male henchmen had gone to the restroom to “relieve” themselves -- in actuality, the two redneck degenerates had gone to use each other’s bodies as surrogates for the sexual lust they had built up from having been in the presence of young Miss Drake!

The rest of the apartments had been evacuated. Madame Temacula was alone and there was no time to escape. All of the emergency alarms of the building were sounding in constant repetition.

“Master, please help!” she exclaimed, activating an hidden view-screen upon the wall. “King Wingosus has been destroyed, and… !”

The face of a man appeared on the screen. He was apparently of middle years, his countenance still showing signs of distinction despite being marked with the results of lifetimes of extreme profligate evil. His hair was long and dark, and a thin moustache and goatee decorated his visage. Most of all, his eyes glowed with a deeply-hypnotic effulgence.

“You have failed me, Temacula,” he said, his voice darksome and dripping with ungodly arrogance. “You have failed me, and the punishment for that is death.”

“No, Master Wingus!” she pleaded. “Please…”

“No excuses, you old bitch,” continued the villain. “I raised you up from being just a deformed hillbilly strumpet from the hills of West Virginia. I educated you and gave you the most supreme honour of being my servant, but now you have failed me and must perish!”

Madame Temecula then ripped off her mask to reveal a face of madness, of obscene inbred horror -- only one fully-formed eye, no nose, and a gaping, lipless mouth filled with only four very large, brown teeth.

Then the grotesque woman screamed one final shriek of unholy terror before the building went up in flames. …

Outside, the monsters Nodar and Monarka both bowed down before Pederosis, the latter (having now returned to his regular appearance) then unleashing a tremendous roar of triumph.

“Yes!” I exclaimed with delight. “Bow down all monsters, for PEDEROSIS is now Lord and King of the Kaiju!”

“Long live the King,” added Millie with a wonderful smile.

And with this, Nodar and Monarka flew away to find a way to go back into hibernation, and the mighty Pederosis stalked off into the distance, to return to his aeons-long sleep deep beneath the sea. …

A few minutes later, Millie and I sat in a near by parking lot, enjoying a boxed lunch of corned beef sandwiches and a big thermos of coffee that I had kept in Lizzie’s glove-box. A local television news broadcast was now being shown on the large Towson Circle video screen, which had somehow survived the carnage.

“Authorities are explaining the disturbance earlier today in the Towson area as an accident caused by a construction crew,” stated the rather dour African-American man, a well-known local newsreader. “It is all part of proposed plans to renovate and update the shopping complexes of that district, and…”

“You see what I mean?” I turned to the girl. “They have found a way to explain it all away already!”

Millie was not really paying attention. The little tweenage beauty was reading a text message that she had just received on her mobile telephone.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed.

“What is it now, love?” I asked with some concern.

“I’ve been chosen for the part in that film!” she beamed. “It starts shooting tomorrow, in Las Vegas!”

“Well, congratulations, Millie!”

“Awww, but it means I’ll have to go! I don’t want to leave you, Daniel! But to get there, I need to get to the airport right away and catch a flight to Vegas!”

“Nonsense,” I told her. “I can get you to Las Vegas in Lizzie faster than any aeroplane.”

“Really?” she said with a lovely and welcoming smile. “All right!”

“Come along then, Millie, my little ‘waifu’,” I teased.

“Another Japanese word?” she giggled. “What does it mean?”

“I shall explain later, love,” I assured her. “And I think you will like it!”

And with this, after a quick kiss from the beautiful Millie Drake, I engaged my car’s specially-modified engines and we sped off to-wards the west.

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “THE CHEERLEADER EXPERIMENT”