THE FORTY

The gloom of the temple’s one chamber was relieved only by the illumination from the stone door that I had forced open in order to enter. The thick surrounding forest shut out most of the light from the planet’s blue sun. I stood staring at the central pedestal and the odd object that rested upon it.

It was a thing of cylindrical shape, smaller than the breadth of my hand. It was entirely covered with jewels and coloured stones.

Dressed in my usual finery -- including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, and panama hat -- I continued to look at the object. It was not attached to anything, yet I knew that there would be some type of security around it.

“Well,” I said to myself, “now or never.”

I reached out and quickly picked up the object, straightway wrapping it in my large, canary-yellow handkerchief and secreting it in one of the voluminous pockets of my jacket. I was somewhat surprised that there was no immediate reaction. All remained silent in the temple, the only sounds being the cries of strange birds and far-off beasts from the forest.

Then it happened. I heard a low grating sound coming from above and looked up. The temple’s stone ceiling -- all one-hundred-plus tonnes of it -- was descending to-wards me! I turned to sprint outside just in time to see the door slam shut with a loud crash. All became dark in the temple as the ceiling continued to descend in its course to-wards its goal of crushing the very life out of me.

I continued to run in the direction of the doorway, whilst fetching the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen) from my pocket. I aimed the device to-wards the door and activated it, the resultant small glow of bright-orange light giving me some illumination as it, along with a whirring sound, indicated that the transonic was indeed at work.

I glanced upwards and beheld that the ceiling was barely more than a metre from my head and still descending. Then the door suddenly sprang open.

I hurried out into the forest, hearing a tremendous boom behind me as the temple’s stone ceiling made contact with its floor.

Continuing through the wooded area, I realised that I heard the sounds of raised voices from some distance behind me. Glancing back, I saw them. It was a war party of the planet’s natives -- a primitive, dark-complexioned humanoid race dressed only in colourful jewellery. The were advancing to-wards me carrying strange spears that glowed with effulgent light.

Quickening my pace to stay out of their range, I entered the clearing in the centre of which was my goal -- something resembling a “Roman column” that was, in reality, my DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere), that incredible type of Time/Space travel machine usable only by my people, the Watchers of Algol.

A round, porthole type opening appeared in the DiTraS as I approached. I could still hear the enraged voices of the natives and new that they were gaining on me.

“Hit it, Millie!” I shouted as I jumped into a dive forwards through the opening.

A skidded to a stop on the floor of the ship’s large inter-dimensional control room just as the beautiful young girl standing at the controls activated the ship’s engines.

Outside, an odd gasping moaning noise was heard as the DiTraS faded from view. The very instant that it vanished into the void, a barrage of glowing energy spears hit the ground where it had been. …

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 “magic” and “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites tend to keep to themselves, preferring to live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe and thus merely observing the goings-on of the myriad races of the vast reaches around them, 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. You know, “plausible deniability”, and all of that sort of thing. It is our ongoing mission to defend the weak, the unfortunate, and the innocent from those who would harm or exploit them.

Currently assigned to Earth, I protect its people (both upon their planet and across the eternal void) from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as from alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. Assisted by my friends -- the beautiful Miss Millie Drake and our catlike robot, Kit-10 -- I am the living icon of Algol on this world. I am a Knight of the Eternal Spires. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia. I am the stellar swashbuckler.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

In stood up and brushed off my clothing, there in the café-like control room of the DiTraS.

“Good work, Mills,” I told the girl. “We dematerialised just in time.”

“Did you get the relic?” enquired Millie Drake, absolutely ravishing with her luxurious chestnut hair, sun kissed skin, and enchanting violet eyes. She was clad in a short, tight, hot-pink dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender adolescent figure.

“No worries, love,” said I, taking the handkerchief from my jacket and unwrapping it. “Here it is. The last remaining Gimwinkle Control Tube from the planet Gee-Cee. A relic of their once highly-advanced technology, before corruption reduced them to the primitive savagery in which they now live. I found it in the stone temple in which they had enshrined it as a religious icon.”

I placed the relic on the counter-like control console of the DiTraS and took a step back.

“Now,” I continued, “all we have to do is remove the various ornaments with which they adorned it to show their holy reverence, hmmm?”

I activated the transonic turnscrew and utilised it to begin pealing off the layer of multi-hued stones that covered the old cylinder.

“So this can really be used in our mission against The Forty?” queried Millie.

“I believe so,” I returned. “If the information is correct about what is their actual leadership, this should be of immense assistance.”

The Forty were a business conglomeration made up of representatives from forty different star systems within the Messier-13 Globular Cluster. Their activities had come to my attention some time before when they had hired Martian mercenaries to invade the planet Venus, in order to make that world give up the rights to its extensive mineral wealth. The plot had been stopped, but stealth investigations had uncovered that the corporation known as The Forty was indeed committing similar crimes elsewhere. It is thus that Miss Millie Drake and I, as Agents of the Kosmikos, had journeyed to M-13 in an effort to deal with the situation.

“Ah, here we go,” said I, having removed the ornamentation from the cylinder. It appeared of the colour of brass, and a mass of wiring and computer chips could be seen through a tiny transparent portion of the object. “What do you think, Kit-10?”

I held the old control device down to the catlike robot that stood near by, and a sensor extended from her metallic forehead.

“Systems show the device to still have some power in its electronic functioning,” answered Kit-10 in her pleasantly-feminine voice. “However, technology is too alien to determine if it is functioning within necessary and intended parameters.”

“Yes, well, we shall just have to hope for the best, hmmm?” I said. “Thanks for the expert analysis, old friend. You are a good kitty.”

“This unit is not a cat, s--,” replied Kit-10.

Despite her protestations to the contrary, Kit-10 does indeed have several catlike qualities, not the least of which is her total inability to openly show anything resembling respect to-wards anyone. The closest she can come is to refer to me by a slight “s--” sound (for “sir”) and to Millie by “m--” (for “ma’am”.)

There was a signal from the DiTraS control console and I examined the readings.

“We seem to have materialised,” I announced.

“So where are we?” queried Millie.

“At a space station near the centre of Messier-13,” I revealed. “It is the corporate headquarters of The Forty, as well as housing numerous shops and apartments.”

A few minutes later, I exited the ship along with Millie Drake and Kit-10. We were in a large corridor not unlike what would be found in a shopping mall. There were numerous patrons of the establishment browsing the shopping areas. The civilised inhabitants of the M-13 Cluster are mostly of humanoid shape, and would be indistinguishable from Earthlings should any of them ever visit that particular planet.

“The executive office of The Forty is at the top level of the station,” I told my companions. “Come along then, but be wary. I attempted to mask our arrival, but we may be recognised by the security systems.” …

Indeed, unknown to us, we were being watched on a video screen at that very moment by a rather nondescript man in a grey suit of clothing.

“They have arrived and are on one of the retail levels,” he said to someone behind him.

“Is it him?” came a bizarre, booming voice from the other side of the room. “The one who interfered with our plans on Venus?”

“Yes it is, Boss” replied the man. “It is Dr. Daniel Rumanos, the Algolite agent, along with his assistant and some type of service robot.”

“You know what to do,” announced the voice.

“Should we do it now or wait until they are in a less public place?”

“Do it now, Yoreee. Wipe them out, and let it serve as a warning to any others who would move against The Forty!”

“Yes, Boss,” obeyed the man known as Yoreee. “Right away.” …

As Millie, Kit-10, and I proceeded through the sales area of the space station, we suddenly found our path blocked by two enormous men in blue security uniforms. 

“Worry not, love,” I whispered to Millie, who was huddling close to me in trepidation. “I do not think they will…”

None the less, before I could complete my statement, one of the guards removed his ray-gun from its holster and pointed it directly at us. To my surprise, I then saw his finger begin to tighten on the trigger!

Kit-10 immediately activated her nose-laser, and a sharply-focused ray of light struck the security man’s gun just as he fired it. The harsh ray from the guard’s weapon harmlessly hit the floor near my feet.

I had just managed to take the transonic turnscrew from my pocket, and I aimed it to-wards the other security guard, who had by now taken out his own ray-gun. The setting I had chosen on the transonic caused the gun to overheat, and it clattered to the floor as the guard shouted in pain from his burnt hand. 

The two guards then proceeded to advance forward in an attempt to bodily apprehend me. I quickly pocketed the transonic and readied my hand-to-hand defences. …

Back in the office, the booming voice of The Boss bellowed an order to Yoreee:

“Do it now! While he is distracted! Take the female and secure her here. Just be certain that she is unharmed, so we can use her as a bargaining chip.”

“Right away, Boss,” obeyed the underling as he watched us on the view screen. His hands moved to some controls and programmed a certain sequence.

“If he somehow survives, this will lure him here,” continued the Boss. “We will pretend to make a deal with him for his assistant’s safety. Then we will kill them both!” …

I utilised a Daemonian jujitsu technique in order to flip the first of the two security guards over my shoulder. The man hit the floor with such force as to immediately render him unconscious.

Whilst this was happening, the other guard had managed to come up behind me. He twisted my arm behind my back and pulled it tightly. Ignoring the pain, I bent forward with such fast velocity as to send him over my head to land in front of me. Unfortunately, the haste with which I had been forced to do this had prevented me from putting much power into it, and the man recovered quickly, standing up and hitting me in the jaw with a blow from his fist.

It was then that, unseen by either Kit-10 or me, a shimmering light surrounded Miss Millie Drake, who then vanished from sight.

I returned the guard’s attack with a blow to the centre of his face, quickly adding a kick to his midsection. He stumbled backwards several paces.

“Stun him, Kit-10!” I shouted.

The mechanical feline’s nose-laser again flashed forth, hitting the security man square in his chest and leaving him as unconscious as his associate.

“Thank you, my good friend,” I told the robot. “Excellent work.”

“No problem, s--,” she replied.

I turned to survey the corridor. The patrons had all fled in fear as soon as the guards had begun to draw their weapons. No one was in sight. No one. Not even my young companion.

“Kit-10, where is Miss Drake?” I asked with concern. “Did you see anything that could give us a clue where she has gone?”

“No precise information available, s--,” replied the robot, “although sensors are showing the residue of a matter transportation beam. She was likely taken when we were distracted by the security guards.”

“By the Stars!” I swore. “It appears that agents of The Forty have kidnapped her!” …

In the executive office of The Forty, the man known as Yoreee was handcuffing Millie Drake to a post that reached to the ceiling.

“Do not worry, little one,” sneered Yoreee. “The Boss wants you unharmed -- for now!”

The girl had stayed silent, as she had been instructed to do in any such situations. However, as she was being bound, she was turned to face to-wards what was seated behind a large desk that dominated one wall of the office. Her eyes grew wide with terror at what she beheld there.

Despite her training, young Miss Millie Drake could not stifle a scream of absolute abject horror at the sight of that thing -- the one known as The Boss. …

Do you recognise the unspeakable dread, forsooth the unholy fright of this situation, my dear friends? My beautiful companion, Millie Drake, had been abducted by The Forty, that unspeakably-evil business consortium. I could only imagine what unmentionable eldritch horrors she was facing.

Of course, Kit-10 and I immediately went into action in an endeavour to find and rescue her. We made our way to-wards the top level of the space station, the level on which were to be found the executive offices of The Forty.

I found it odd that, along the way, we encountered no resistance. I attempted to remain positive as the thought nagged the back of my mind as to just how ominous this actually was.

On the top level, we found the large doorway that was the entrance to the office of The Forty. It was closed but unguarded, and I examined it closely before we made any attempt to enter.

“There is an unseen lock here, Kit-10,” I announced. “Can you do a scan to ascertain its parameters?”

The robot’s scanning sensor again extended from her forehead and touched the wall just beside the door. There were several seconds of electronic beeping noises as she studied the system.

“Parameters found,” relayed Kit-10. “Locking mechanism is of the electro-duality variety.”

“Ah, of course,” I realised. “So it takes at least two individuals to operate it, one of which must remain behind in order for the other or others to get through.”

“Affirmative,” said the mechanical puss.

“Kit-10, can you open the lock and remain here whilst I look for Miss Drake?” I queried.

“Of course, s--,” replied the robot.

A moment later, the door slid open and I hurried through. It closed quickly behind me, leaving Kit-10 on the other side. I was alone in the headquarters of The Forty.

I walked cautiously down the interior corridor to-wards the rather obvious office room at the end of it. I again received no resistance as I entered the office.

Everything of note was along the far wall as if in a tableau. To one side was Millie Drake, shackled to a post. Beside her was a rather nondescript man in a grey business suit who was holding a ray-gun to her head.

Millie gasped with a mixture of relief and trepidation at seeing me. I did not speak, but gave her a quick wink before turning my attention to the thing that dominated the room. It was a thing of nightmares beyond all sane imaginings.

It was seated behind a big metal desk. It was like an huge amorphous blob, grey and green and blue of hue. It sat in a puddle of viscid slime that was at once both its excrement and its sustenance. It had something like two grotesquely-small black eyes that peered at me with a mixture of hate and insane humour. Then it opened its long, grotesque slit of a mouth and spoke.

“Hello, Dr. Rumanos of Algol,” said the thing, its voice a booming mockery. “Welcome to the executive headquarters of The Forty. I am The Boss, and the person caring for your female is my office assistant, Yoreee. Now, do be careful to keep your hands where we can see them. We would not want my associate to get the wrong idea and think it necessary to execute your friend here, now would we? No, we have a little negotiation to make in stead -- a little business deal that will prove beneficial to us both.”

“What exactly did you have in mind?” I enquired, struggling to stay calm as I felt disdain seething within me.

“I have the documents already drawn up,” said The Boss, indicating some papers upon his desk. “As an Agent of the Kosmikos you have certain powers of negotiation. You will sign this form to agree that the Watchers of Algol will leave The Forty alone to pursue and expand our dealings throughout the Galaxy as we see fit. You will not move against us further. You will sign this agreement now, or Yoreee here is fully authorised to immediately end the female’s existence!”

“Daniel, no!” cried Millie Drake. “Don’t do it! Don’t let this thing continue to plunder the Galaxy!”

“Be quiet, girl,” said Yoreee. “There will be no further outbursts of that sort.”

I ignored them both and moved forwards to the desk. The Boss guffawed as I approached.

“A wise choice, Doctor,” it said. “A wise choice indeed. You will find a writing instrument to the side of the document. Please just affix your signature, along with your authorisation code number as an Operative of the Kosmikos, and our deal is done.”

I reached forward as if to grasp the pen that lay beside the papers, but then raised my hand slightly to-wards The Boss. It was then that a low vibrating sound was heard. With this, the horrid creature suddenly shuddered and groaned. I had activated the control device that I had taken earlier from the Gee-Ceean temple. It had been hidden in the palm of my hand since before I had entered the office.

“What!” bellowed the monstrosity in pain and outrage. “How did you know to use such a thing as that? I am The Boss! I am… !”

“I know exactly what you are,” I told the thing. “You are the last of the Gimwinkles, a form of animal life once found on the planet Gee-Cee. They were kept as pets by that world’s humanoid population, who had developed a technology that rendered you docile, such as is found in this old Control Tube. Nevertheless, by the time Gee-Ceean society entered its decadent period, the Gimwinkles had begun to evolve and develop intelligence. They soon overthrew the Gee-Ceeans, reducing them to the savagery in which they exist to this day. Then the Gimwinkles left that planet in the prototype spaceships the Gee-Ceeans had invented and abandoned. You spread throughout the Cluster and became business moguls, eventually forming The Forty. Along the way, your species developed some genetic defect that decimated your population. You are thus the last Gimwinkle in existence, and now…”

I touched the Gimwinkle Control Tube with my thumb and the vibration noise went up in volume. The creature shook violently and began to split open in several places.

“The device was only meant to keep your kind docile,“ I went on, “but I managed to make a little adjustment on my way up here. It is an adjustment that increased the power of the device in its effect upon your Gimwinkle nervous system. You see, your abducting Miss Drake crossed the line. This is no longer just a mission to stop your corporation from controlling all local business. Now this has become personal -- and now I bring your end!!”

By now, the thing known as The Boss, last of the Gimwinkles, had split open and oozed out its viscera like so much rotten fruit. Soon its convulsions settled, and I knew that the horrible monster was dead forever. I deactivated the control and slipped it into my pocket.

Meanwhile, Yoreee had put his gun in its holster and had removed the shackles from Millie Drake. The dear girl ran over and threw her arms around me.

“It is fine now, darling,” I assured her. “You see, I recognised Yoreee as soon as I entered the office, and knew he would not harm you.”

Yoreee came over and shook my hand.

“Excellent job, Doctor,” he said. “I will send a message to the Association right away, and they will surely be quite pleased.”

The man left the room and proceeded down the corridor, leaving me alone with Millie.

“So he was on our side all along?” queried the lass.

“Indeed he was,” I informed her. “Yoreee is a spy for the local Small Business Association, and has been working undercover to foil The Forty’s attempts to control all business in the Cluster.”

Millie then glanced over and shuddered at the sight of the putrid remains of the Gimwinkle, that horrid creature known as The Boss.

“So The Forty won’t be able to survive without that thing?” she asked.

“Indeed they will not, my dear,” I explained. “The power of The Forty was wholly bound up in the bizarre and unscrupulous business sense of the last of the Gimwinkles. Without it, they shall cease to function, and commerce here in the M-13 Globular Cluster should quickly return to normal.”

“We will return the control device to the planet Gee-Cee, won’t we?” questioned the girl.

“Of course we will, love,” I agreed. “We will also rebuild their temple for them. After all, we would not want the Gee-Ceean natives to lose their faith and become a lot of hopeless drug addicts or something, hmmm?”

By now, Yoreee had opened the outer door and allowed Kit-10 to enter. He was close behind her, having sent the message to his Association with information on how to contact me.

“It looks like your mobile computer has already received word from my superiors,” announced Yoreee. “They have received my encoded message concerning your success and wish to show their appreciation.”

“Really?” said I. “What do they say, Kit-10?”

“A message has indeed been received from the Cluster’s Small Business Association,” explained the metal cat. “They say that in respect of having stopped the monopoly of The Forty on the local commerce, Dr. Daniel Rumanos and company are hereby invited to a special banquet to be held in your honour.”

“Oh, they’re having some kind of awards dinner for us,” said Millie Drake. “But Daniel, are we supposed to attend something like that as Operatives of the Kosmikos?”

“Mills, my love, I suppose we need to get used to things like this,” I counselled. “After all, we are the most famous secret agents in the Universe!”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “BLAZE OF GLORY”

RAIDERS OF THE CORONATION STONE

Terror at the magic show! The audience had already fled -- fled in abject fear of what they were witnessing on that eventful evening. However, if truth be told, they most likely later rationalised it as “just part of the act”!

It was all happening at a venue known as “Illusions Magic Bar”, located in the Federal Hill neighbourhood of Baltimore City in the State of Maryland. The establishment’s proprietor, an individual named Spencer Horsman, stood before me with a strange grey glow surrounding his person like an eldritch halo.

“You will not succeed, Algolite,” proclaimed the alien consciousness that had possessed Horsman. “The Ennolis will take over the people of this world as our new hosts, despite any effort to protect them!”

Spencer Horsman, a man in his mid-thirties dressed in a cheap knock-off make of tuxedo, was short and thin with a pale complexion and hair dyed bright red. He saw himself as a stage magician and illusionist, and used the tavern that he had inherited from his late father as a showcase for his hackneyed act. He had never known much else in life, and it is likely this inexperience that had made him such an easy target for the alien invaders known as the Ennolis.

You see, the Ennolis are a race of beings from the Ken-Zo Nebula. After a long war had devastated their planet, they had set forth into Space to find a new home. Unfortunately, the biological weapons to which they had been exposed during the conflict had left them without faces or other identifying characteristics. In response to this, their scientists had developed a method by which the Ennolis could take over the bodies of other humanoid beings, and it is with this in mind that they had targeted Earth. The Ennoli possessing Spencer Horsman and another of their species were the first to test this possibility, with the remainder of their race -- all four billions of them -- waiting in their orbiting spaceship for the signal to invade Earth en masse.

“Surrender, Ennoli,” I warned, clad in my usual finery (including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, and panama hat). “Leave these human beings alone and I promise that I shall assist you in saving your people.”

“No!” shouted the possessed Spencer Horsman. “We need no help from you! We are the Ennolis, and we have proven our worth by surviving the war upon our home planet! We will take over this species and make their bodies into ours!”

With this, the Ennoli sent forth a wave of energy -- forsooth, the bizarre grey glow that was a result of their weird biological science -- straight to-wards me. It hit me hard, and I felt myself being forced backwards against the brick wall of the building’s interior.  …

Elsewhere in the tavern, Miss Millie Drake was in a similar predicament to mine. Millie -- a beautiful young girl with sun-kissed skin, luxurious chestnut hair, and enchanting violet eyes -- was wearing a short, tight, electric blue dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender, perfectly-petite figure. Facing Millie was a woman known as Caroline Gayle, a former street prostitute and current fiancée of the aforementioned Mr. Spencer Horsman. Bleached-blonde and chubby, Gayle was still clad in the sequined gown that she wore as the magician’s stage assistant. The grey glow surrounding her showed that it was she that had become the host of the other Ennoli.

“You will die, girlie!” screeched the alien-possessed Caroline Gayle at Millie Drake. “You will die for your interference with our conquest of this planet!”

As the Ennoli prepared to shoot its wave of energy, Millie stood still facing her.

“Kit-10,” stated the young girl, “now!”

Beside Millie Drake was what looked like nothing more or less than a small mechanical cat. At the girl’s call, the robot shot a beam of sharply-focused light directly at the Ennoli-possessed woman.

When the beam from Kit-10’s nose-laser made contact, Gayle jumped in pain and shock, her energies diverted for the moment.

“Good shooting, Kit-10!” exclaimed Millie Drake.

“Thank you, m--,” replied the robotic feline with a pleasantly-feminine voice.

(One of Kit-10’s catlike qualities is her total disability to openly show respect to anyone. The closest she ever comes to it is in referring to me by a slight “s--” sound, for “sir”, and to Millie by “m--”, for “ma’am”.)

“You will pay for that, you Algolitish child!” then stated Caroline Gayle the Ennoli as her grey energies began to again strengthen. “For that, you will be made to feel pain!” …

I fought against the wave of energy from Spencer Horsman enough to reach into the pocket of my jacket and retrieve the transonic turnscrew, an highly-advanced technological device resembling a writing pen. I pointed the instrument directly at him and activated it to a pre-programmed setting.

The Ennoli-possessed Horsman screamed in pain and outrage before his grey energy faded forever. Now spent of its alien power, the dead body of what had once been Spencer Horsman, Baltimore-based magician and tavern-owner, fell to the floor.

I ran over to where Millie Drake and Kit-10 were, and quickly performed the same manoeuvre on Caroline Gayle, silencing the other Ennoli forever.

“Come along, Mills, Kit-10,” said I, quickly taking the girl’s hand. “We have to disable the Ennolis computer bank before they can send further invaders to Earth!”

We hurried into the backroom of the tavern, in which the alien computer system had been set up. Indeed, it was our own instruments having detected the presence of this that had alerted us to the Ennolis presence on Earth to begin with.

I aimed the transonic at the strange wall of flashing alien machinery. There was a spark of fire from the Ennolis computer bank, after which it went dark.

“That will do it, love,” I assured the girl. “I have switched the polarisation of the neutronic stream, which will send the Ennolis spaceship into deep Space, between galaxies. They will not be able to reach any other planets -- or attempt to take over other species -- before their own kind has died out completely.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Millie with a smile. “That is awesome!”

“Indeed,” I mused. “I believe that it is known as ‘social distancing’.” …

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 “magic” and “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites tend to keep to themselves, preferring to live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe and thus merely observing the goings-on of the myriad races of the vast reaches around them, 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. You know, “plausible deniability”, and all of that sort of thing. It is our ongoing mission to defend the weak, the unfortunate, and the innocent from those who would harm or exploit them.

Currently assigned to Earth, I protect its people (both upon their planet and across the eternal void) from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Magister Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. Assisted by my friends -- the beautiful Miss Millie Drake and our catlike robot, Kit-10 -- I am the living icon of Algol on this world. I am a Knight of the Eternal Spires. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia. I am the stellar swashbuckler.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

Admiral Nicholas Murray (Royal Navy, retired) looked intently at us from across his desk. Heavy, grey-haired, and dressed in a conservative dark-blue business suit, he obviously had something of great import to relate. This was no surprise, considering the haste with which Millie and I had been summoned to the London office of MI9 -- that particular branch of the British Secret Service that deals with things occult and extraterrestrial.

We had been brought on a private overnight flight from Baltimore to London and barely given enough time to drop off our luggage at the St. James Hotel before the limousine ride to the building housing the MI9 headquarters, of which Admiral Murray was chief.

After our security clearances had been verified, we had been quickly ushered into the old man’s private office, with the short-skirted pink dress that Millie had worn for the occasion only receiving the requisite quick scowl of disapproval from the prim middle-aged receptionist.

“Thank you for coming on such quick notice, Dr. Rumanos, Miss Drake,” said the admiral. “I assure you we would not have interrupted your lives with anything that was not of the highest importance.”

“I am certain of that, Admiral,” I assured him, sitting in the comfortable leathern chair to which I had been waved. “MI9 has always had my highest respect.”

“Did you say that Buckingham Palace personally asked that we be informed of this case?” enquired Millie, who was seated beside me.

“Indeed, Miss Drake,” affirmed Murray. “The royal family is quite concerned about what has occurred.”

“Please fill us in, sir,” I requested. “We promise to help however possible.”

“Dr. Rumanos, it pains me to say it. It is an unprecedented crime in the history of the United Kingdom. The Coronation Stone has been stolen!”

“By the Triple Star!” I swore. “The actual Coronation Stone, also known as the Stone of Scone and the Stone of Destiny?”

“Yes, Doctor,” replied the old man. “It is usually only moved when a new monarch is crowned, and is otherwise kept under heavy security at Edinburgh Castle.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Millie. “So it is used in the coronation of kings and queens?”

“It was used for centuries in the crowing ceremonies of the kings of Scotland, Miss Drake,” explained Murray. “It has been used to crown the monarchs of Britain ever since the kingdoms were united.”

“It is even said to be much older than that,” I added. “According to legend, it is the very stone that Jacob, the biblical Patriarch, used as a pillow the night that he had visions of God. Because of this, it is said to be charged with immense power. It was later brought to the British Isles by the Prophet Jeremiah, who fled the Babylonian Captivity along with the daughter of the last King of Judah. She then became the ancestor of the royal lines of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.”

“It is the possible supernatural powers contained within the Stone that concerns the Palace, Doctor,” stated Admiral Murray. “The amount of mathematical knowledge and criminal expertise that would have been necessary to so steal the Stone from Edinburgh could have been used to easily rob any bank in the world, so the thief is not likely to just be interested in selling the piece on the underground antiquities market.”

“Quite right, Admiral,” I agreed. “Anyone who has gone to this trouble has a much larger goal. Indeed, if the legends of the Stone of Scone have any reality at all to them, the power it contains -- if it is properly released -- could be used to rule over worlds!”

“Do you know of any possible suspects, Doctor?” enquired Murray.

“Just offhand, I can think of eight different individuals who have the requisite knowledge, skill, and criminal history. However, none of them are known to be currently operating -- on this planet, at least.”

“Then who could have done it?” queried Millie Drake.

“Admiral, allow me to think this over tonight,” I requested. “I want to do some research, and we will definitely have some answers to the mystery by this time tomorrow.”

“Fair enough, Doctor, Miss Drake,” agreed the admiral. “Be assured the Crown will cover any necessary expenses. They see this as possibly the most vital moment in our nation’s history.”

Millie and I left the MI9 offices and returned to our hotel, quickly unpacking the small amount of belongings we had had time to get together before our hasty trip to Great Britain. Then, after an excellent fish and chips lunch at the St. James Restaurant, we settled down in the sitting room of our suite for the afternoon.

“It’s too bad Kit-10 couldn’t come with us, Daniel,” said Millie Drake as she sat beside me on the luxurious sofa. “She probably has something about the Coronation Stone in her computer files.”

Indeed, the robot had not been able to come along due to strict weight restrictions on the aeroplane.

“I am sure she does, Mills,” I concurred, “but our little robotic feline friend’s presence, although greatly missed, should not be necessary. I will be able to access some files via the transonic turnscrew that can…”

I was suddenly interrupted by a scream from Millie Drake. She had seen something approaching us, across the room from behind me. Something big. Something horrific.

I whirled around to face whatever it was just as two huge hairy hands -- or paws -- found their way around my throat. Whilst the very life began to be choked out of me, I beheld what my attacker was.

It was nearly seven feet in height and incredible muscular. It was covered with shaggy reddish-brown hair and had a face of grotesquely-ugly simian visage.

It was a gigantic orang-utan!

Just as the blackness of unconsciousness began to overcome me from the enormous creature’s grip, I heard a crashing sound from behind it. Mille Drake had hit the giant ape with a large table lamp. Unable to reach as high as its head, she had struck it in the centre of the shoulder area.

Now, this was not enough to seriously injure the monster, but it did cause it to relax its hold enough for me to take a breath and rally my strength.

I immediately gave the orang-utan several blows utilising my Daemonian kung-fu techniques. The horrid thing roared in pain and outrage and, after several seconds of reeling about, fell to the floor in unconsciousness.

“Oh my goodness, Daniel!” shouted Millie as she ran to me. “Are you okay?”

“I am now, love,” I assured her. “Thanks for the help!”

I knelt down to examine the giant ape, which was now lying so incongruously on the fine carpeting of the five-star hotel.

“It is an ordinary orang-utan,” I said, “albeit a particularly-large one -- and one well-trained!”

 “Where could it have come from?” shuddered Millie.

“Well, Borneo originally, judging by the species,” I decided, “but more recently it was likely stolen from some zoo. It is no coincidence that it showed up here. I am certain of that. The person who raided Edinburgh Castle and took the Coronation Stone knows that we are on the case!”

“So how can we find them?” enquired the girl.

“I have an idea. This animal’s mind should be exceedingly easy to read with my Algolitish mentalist abilities. Let me see…”

I pressed two fingers of my right hand against the orang-utan’s head and concentrated. Almost at once, images appeared to my mind’s eye; images of a large, Gothic-style church building, and of a stone passageway leading down beneath it.

“Of course!” I exclaimed. “Westminster Abbey, and the crypts below it. That is where the Coronation Stone has been taken. They must be planning to use the sacred energies inherent in that old house of worship in order to enhance and activate the powers of the Stone! Millie, we have no time to lose! We need to… !”

My voice trailed off in shock as I stood up and looked around. There was no sign of the girl. I quickly checked the other rooms of the suite and called her name several times, but to no avail. To my horror, I realised the hideous fact that I must now face: Millie Drake was gone!

I locked the big ape in the closet, pushing the sofa up against it, and then made a quick telephone call for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to come and fetch the thing. I then left the hotel and hurried through the streets of London to-wards my next destination: Westminster Abbey!

It was obvious that Millie had been kidnapped. Someone had used my having been occupied with reading the orang-utan’s mind in order to quietly abduct her; obviously someone who was an expert in such abhorrent outrages; the one who had sent the huge ape in the first place -- and, forsooth, the one who had stolen the Coronation Stone and who now intended to utilise it in order to gain power on the level only intended for divinity!

A light rain was falling upon London as I arrived at Westminster Abbey and found my way to the little-used entrance into the crypts that I had seen in the orang-utan’s memories. I followed the passageways through the deep gloom of the extensive series of catacombs that lie beneath the old church building, lit only by my tiny electric torch.

In my other hand I held the transonic turnscrew, having dialled up the setting to detect any near by energy emissions of otherworldly origin. I soon got a reading and followed it to its source, knowing that this would lead me to the Coronation Stone -- and, I prayed, to young Millie Drake!

The next all happened very quickly. I turned into one of the crypts and realised that it was lighted by candles. Pocketing my torch, I explored the old burial chamber and suddenly came upon the sight of the girl tied to a pillar that supported the ceiling.

“Millie!” I exclaimed. “Thank God! Are you all right?”

“Oh, Daniel,” replied the girl, “I knew you would come. Yes, I’m okay. They didn’t hurt me, but they took me from our hotel before I could even scream. I couldn’t see who they were because they were wearing…”

I had run over to free the lass from her bonds but now stopped short when I realised that we were not alone in the crypt. Several figures were emerging from the surrounding darkness. They were shrouded from head to toe in black, hooded robes and soon surrounded us.

“Predictable as ever, Rumanos,” came a voice from behind me. It was a man’s voice, a voice of highly-cultured mockery that I knew only two well. “We have been expecting you.”

I whirled around and faced him. He was clad in a finely-tailored suit of ebon-black satin. His appearance was as of one of middle years, his visage still quite handsome despite carrying the marks of lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness. His hair was long and dark, and a thin moustache and goatee decorated his face. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with a glow of absolute hypnotic evil.

It was Don Wingus!!

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

“Greetings, old friend,” mocked the villain. “Now, do not get any ideas of attempting to interfere with what is going to happen here. We have your little girlfriend all wrapped up, as you can see. Just imagine what some of my associates her would like to do to her if I will only give them leave.”

“Wingus, you ungodly fiend!” said I. “I swear you manage to sink deeper into madness and iniquity every time I encounter you. Do you actually intend to attempt what I think you are? To release the powers of the Coronation Stone?”

“Of course, Rumanos,” affirmed Don Wingus. “The energies inherent in this old piece of rock are immense and thus-far untapped. I shall use them as to obtain that which is rightfully mine -- I shall use the powers of the Coronation Stone to make myself supreme ruler of all existence!”

With a flourish, Wingus removed a black cloth that had been covering a near by sepulchre. This revealed the Stone of Scone itself, it being an oblong piece of red sandstone about the size of a writing table.

“You are completely and utterly insane!” I said. “Even we Watchers do not know the full extent of the Stone’s power. Its very origin is disputed. It may be a relic of some unknown alien technology, or it may be from outside this Universe entirely. In any event, there is no reason to think you will be able to control the energy once it is released.”

“I will control it, as I will control all!” insisted the intergalactic criminal. “I am Magister Don Wingus, and my will shall not be denied!”

“But how will you know the proper invocations?” I queried. “Any information on how the powers of the Stone were activated -- if indeed anyone ever did so! -- are long-lost.”

Wingus reached into his suit coat and pulled out a small yellowed parchment scroll whilst a smile of utter depravity spread across his face.

“One of my agents found this on the black market in Cairo,” he said. “It is in ancient Hebraic, and is evidently from the time of the Exodus, when the Israelites took the Stone of Jacob with them in their journey to the Promised Land.”

“Really, old chap,” I mused. “Even if there is any truth to that, do you not think that those neo-Nazi types you tend to socialize with might object to you using a Jewish ceremony, hmmm?”

“Now is the time for the ritual to begin, and you will have the honour of witnessing it!” gloated Wingus, ignoring my criticisms as he turned to his cultists and gave them an order: “Bind him!”

The black-robed henchmen then tied me to the pillar beside Millie. Whilst this was being done, Don Wingus briefly exited the room, returning having changed into the vestments of an High Priest of Ancient Israel -- the pure white robes, the lofty mitre, and the golden breastplate studded with the jewels of the Twelve Tribes.

“There, that is much more appropriate,” mocked Wingus. “What do you think of it, Rumanos?”

“On you, it looks absolutely blasphemous,” I replied.

“Thank you,” grinned the villain, then turning to-wards the Coronation Stone and commencing to read the archaic Hebrew incantation from the scroll, whilst copious amounts of burning incense filled the air with narcotic fumes, and the black-shrouded cult members looked on in adoration.

It was then that the light began to rise from the Coronation Stone -- a light of pure white brilliance beyond anything seen in this world, a light with which came a musical sound as of the chanting song of myriads of choirs -- a light that then began to fill the chamber and to flow through the form of the evil one known to eternal infamy as Magister Don Wingus!

“Yes, the power is mine!” exulted the villain. “The power of divinity! The power to rule over all Time and over all Space! Nothing is now beyond me! I shall be worshipped by all of Creation! I -- Don Wingus of Algol -- do now achieve the very Power of God!!”

Do you behold the horror, indeed the supreme demoniacal terror of this situation, my dear friends? Magister Don Wingus, that renegade Watcher of Algol who has become the most dangerous and abhorrent criminal the Universe has ever known, was activating the most ancient and divine powers of the Coronation Stone -- powers that he intended to use in order achieve his grotesquely obscene goal of becoming dictator of all the Cosmos!

The light from the Stone continued to fill the old catacomb, and Don Wingus laughed his evil laugh of obscenely criminal euphoria -- in very sooth, his grotesque ecstasy of triumph as he felt the divine powers flowing inside him. There was with this the sound of thunder. The drizzle outside had turned into a storm, a storm of majestic strength and import.

I concentrated deeply and remembered something -- something old; something important; something powerful.

“Millie, close your eyes,” I counselled, still tied to the pillar. “Whatever you hear, whatever happens, do not look until I tell you it is all right!”

“Yes, Daniel,” agreed the girl. “Whatever you say!”

I closed my eyes as well, but could still see the luminosity from the holy light. It was a scarce few seconds later that I heard the sounds that I had been expecting. They were groans and shouts of pain from the cultists, and convulsions of terror from them as the divine power swept through them, its deific virtue destroying those who had dedicated their lives entirely to sin and evil.

I even heard the wicked Don Wingus scream in total abject fear at what was occurring.

Within a minute, it was all over. The sounds of anguish ceased and I knew that the blasphemous cult was no more.

When the light faded, I opened my eyes and saw that the cultists had indeed vanished, robes and all, along with their wicked master, the godless madman known as Don Wingus. They had been swept away as if they had never even been there.

I had by now freed myself from my bonds, utilising my extensive escapology skills, and proceeded to untie Millie as well.

“You can open your eyes now, Mills,” I assured her. “All is well.”

Indeed, the sounds of the storm from outside had also ceased, and all was quiet except for the far-off sounds of the normal life of the great City of London.

“What happened?” asked the young girl.

“What happened is that I realised the meaning of the old proverb,” I explained. “The one that counsels to close one’s eyes to evil. What it really means is to just let go and let the power of God do its work, which is to wash away all sin and iniquity. That is what happened here -- apparently in quite a literal way!”

As I spoke, I picked up the old Judaic scroll from where it had fallen to the floor, and securely secreted the antique parchment in my pocket. It would later be deposited in my own private archives for safekeeping.

“I think I understand,” said the lass. “Don Wingus and his cult were evil, and the holy power could not possibly have been meant for them. Is that it, Daniel?”

“Quite so,” I agreed. “All we need now do is contact Admiral Murray, and let him know where to retrieve the Coronation Stone.”

“Good,” spoke Millie Drake with a lovely smile. “Then we can get back to the hotel in time for tea.”

“Indeed, my love,” I approved, “but I certainly do hope that the RSPCA has collected that orang-utan, or we will need to order service for three!” 

***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “THE FORTY”

THE HORROR AT MONTAUK

“Computer laryngitis,” said I. “An unfortunate diagnosis, but not a serious one. She should get over it completely in a few days.”

“Awww! Poor Kit-10,” said Millie Drake, reaching down to pet our catlike robot friend. “I miss hearing her voice.”

We were in the café-like control room of the DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere), our Time-machine/Spaceship. I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, and leathern boots. Millie, a beautiful young girl of my own race, the Watchers of Algol, is petite and perfect, with luxurious chestnut hair, enchanting violet eyes, and luscious pink lips. She was clad in a tight, short, flowered dress that only served to highlight the slender curves of her wondrously-pubescent figure.

An odd gasping, moaning noise came from the near by control console. I went over to check the monitor readings.

“We have materialised,” I announced.

“So, where are we?” queried the young lady. “Oh, and when?”

“Earth again,” I replied. “Specifically, the eastern tip of Long Island, New York, in the year 1983. By the Stars! We are at Montauk!”

“Montauk?” repeated Millie.

“A small town that is the location of Fort Hero, a former United States military station that was decommissioned just a few years previous to this time,” I explained. “There have been persistent rumours that it was used, during the 1980s, for certain experiments.”

“What kind of experiments?”

“Well, experiments in Time travel for one thing,” I mused. “Also with possibilities of manipulating the human genome, in attempts to create some kind of superhuman race or alien hybrid of some sort. There are myriad conspiracy theories concerning Montauk. I had always meant to come here at this time and have a look around, just to see what, if anything, was actually going on.”

“I looks like we are going to have a chance to do that, Daniel,” smiled the lovely lass.

“Indeed we shall, my dear Mills. Indeed we shall.” … 

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 “magic” and “miraculous” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites tend to keep to themselves, preferring to live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe and thus merely observing the goings-on of the myriad races of the vast reaches around them, 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. You know, “plausible deniability”, and all of that sort of thing. It is our ongoing mission to defend the weak, the unfortunate, and the innocent from those who would harm or exploit them.

Currently assigned to Earth, I protect its people (both upon their planet and across the eternal void) 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. Assisted by my friends -- the beautiful Miss Millie Drake and our catlike robot, Kit-10 -- I am the living icon of Algol on this world. I am a Knight of the Eternal Spires. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia. I am the stellar swashbuckler.

I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

We exited the DiTraS (the exterior of which resembles a Roman column and which is much smaller than the interior, the latter existing in another dimensional reality) and found ourselves in a corridor of what appeared to be a quite clean and sanitised building.

“Are you sure Kit-10 will be all right if we just leave her on board, Daniel?” queried Millie with concern.

“Of course, love,” I assured the girl whilst adjusting my panama hat. “She can just power down for a while and sleep off her electronic illness.”

I took the transonic turnscrew, an highly-advanced technological device resembling a writing pen, from my pocket.

“Hmmm, we are indeed inside the old Montauk military station,” I said. “The transonic is detecting one person here at the facility. This way…”

We strolled down the hallway until we came to a large doorway.

“This looks like the door to a laboratory, hmmm?” I mused. “With experience, one finds that they become quite easy to recognise.”

I opened the door and entered the room with Millie close behind me. It was a large chamber, indeed a laboratory of sorts, with a plethora of computer equipment -- some of which looked to be state-of-the-art for the era, along with other things that looked experimental and rather cobbled-together.

At one corner of the room was a man in a swivel chair. He had been examining some instrument readouts, but turned to face us. He was in his sixties, grey and balding and with intelligent blue eyes, dressed in a lab-coat over a casual suit.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, “I didn’t know anyone had entered the building. I’m Major Svehla. Are you the new lab assistants?”

“Well, yes we are, more or less,” I lied, thinking it best to play along and to not start any controversy. “I am Dr. Rumanos, and this is Miss Drake.”

“‘Doctor’?” he repeated. “So the agency has finally sent someone with actual qualifications? Excellent!”

“Something like that, yes. Pleased to meet you, sir.”

“Did you say you were a ‘major’?” enquired Millie. “As in military?

“I’m a physician and a scientist,” explained Svehla. “Shortly before I would have taken a position doing research at Harvard, I found myself drafted into the Korean War. I served in a MASH unit and then stayed with the army afterwards. After all the destruction and carnage I had seen, I just couldn’t see myself returning to the polite world of academia.”

“I know the feeling,” I related with some sympathy. “So how did you end up here at Fort Hero?”

“After the station was decommissioned,” continued the Major, “I was assigned here to do research by a national security think-tank connected with, I think, the CIA.”

“Research involving Time travel, genetics, and extraterrestrial technology, I take it?”

“Ah, so you were briefed concerning the work here?” queried Major Svehla.

“Not in detail,” I offered.

“Maybe you could fill us in some?” added Millie with a smile.

“Oh, of course,” agreed Svehla, warming some with the beautiful young girl’s interest in his work. “I’m the only one who has stayed here for any length of time, but there have been numerous types of experimentation in this facility. Most of it, I fear, is a bit ‘outside the pale’. The most recent thing involves Time travel. The theory has arisen that it can be achieved through the use of certain electromagnetic impulses utilised as a power source.”

“Interesting,” I said. “Have you had any success in the matter?”

“That’s just it, Doctor,” announced the Major. “Incredibly enough, we have! Several times, when I have engaged a certain sequence upon this machinery, there has appeared a sort of image at the centre of the room!”

“An image of what?” quizzed the girl.

“It is what I believe to be some kind of future technology that has detected our signal and is trying to come through. Here, let me show you!”

Svehla then immediately began to activate some dials upon the laboratory equipment. The entire chamber began to buzz and spark with a sound indeed quite otherworldly.

‘Wait, Major Svehla,” I implored. “First, I think we should…”

However, I was too late. The electromagnetic signal that was being sent out had already been detected. Detected… by something.

“Daniel!” cried Millie Drake. “Daniel, look!”

At that moment, at the very centre of the room, something was materialising into view. It was a disk-shaped object about the size of an helicopter. I heard the sound of an oddly-groaning engine as it came into view.

“That sound…” whispered Millie to me.

“Yes,” I said, swallowing down a gruesome wave of trepidation as the sudden realisation hit me. “It is a Time/Spacecraft exiting the Inter-Dimensional Current.”

“That’s it, Doctor,” announced the Major, who had not heard my comment, “and this is the clearest that it has ever come through!”

It was then that the terror was multiplied, multiplied indeed beyond anything that could be imagined by anyone outside of a state of total obscene and unholy madness. For it was at that moment that a porthole opened in the side of the disk-shaped craft and several of its occupants exited -- occupants of supreme and unnameable alien terror.

They were approximately the size of an human torso, but that is where all resemblance to anything of sane creation ended. Hovering approximately one metre above the floor, each of the things was made up of a quivering mass of sallow flesh -- basically a group of tentacles intertwined with strands of metallic technology. At the centre of each was a pair of oblique black eyes, glowering from deep within the being with a look of complete and unmitigated hate.

With the sight of these hideous monstrosities there came to me memories; memories of battles and terrors of the past -- forsooth, memories of my former encounters with these obscene and unholy creatures and the unspeakable evil that they represent.

“Daniel!” exclaimed Millie. “Are those what I think they are? Are they really… !”

“Yes,” I said as a shudder of extreme horror went through me. “They are Mynverkossian Mutations!!”

“Incredible!” exclaimed Svehla, jumping up and walking over to where the Mynverkossian things hovered.

“Major, no!” I warned -- but my voice, if heard, was ignored by the old army scientist.

“I am Major Svehla,” he said, bravely addressing the alien Mutations. “On behalf of the United States of America, I would like to welcome you to our time and…”

“We are the Mynver,” returned one of the things, its electronically-enhanced voice harsh and grating and filled with hatred. “We are the Supreme Race of the Universe. You are inferior. You must be eliminated. Eliminate!”

“Eliminate! Eliminate! Eliminate!!” answered back the other Mynver in an absolute chorus of hate.

Then there was a flash of blood-red light as each of the hideous Mutations turned its inbuilt energy weapon upon Major Svehla. The man had not even time to cry out before he crumpled to the floor in agonised death.

By now, I had taken the transonic device from my pocket and -- knowing it would have no useful effect on Mynver technology -- had in stead aimed it at one of the computer banks in the room. I activated it to cause a small explosion that distracted the Mynverkossians for just a moment. This was barely long enough for me to grab Millie’s hand and run out one of the doors leading to another corridor. Unfortunately, the Mynver had been in the way of us returning the way we had come, and thus to the DiTraS.

“The Mutations?” queried Millie as we ran along. “From the planet Mynverkoss? This is really them?”

“Yes,” I affirmed. “Creatures of extreme racial hatred and fascist tyranny. Mutated by generations of nuclear war on their home-world, they now seek only to enslave or eliminate all other life-forms.”

Then the horrid voice of a Mutation interrupted my thoughts.

“There is no escape this time, Rumanos of Algol,” announced the voice.

To my horror, I realised that the Mynver voice was not coming from behind us.

“Daniel, we’re trapped!” screamed Millie Drake, now trembling with fear as she sheltered herself in my arms.

The Mynverkossians were gliding down the corridor from both directions. One of them had detached itself from the others and approached us. Before I could react, it ejected something, a sort of gas, directly to-wards us. I immediately felt a sense of nausea and realised what it was.

“Daniel…” said Millie as we sank to the floor. “What was that? What is happening to… ?”

“Evaerlium,” I answered as consciousness left me. …

We awoke in a metallic chamber. It was dark except for a few flashing lights of numerous psychedelic-type colourations. I stood up and helped Millie to her feet.

“So that was really evaerlium?” queried the lass. “I thought it was fatal to Algolites.”

“It is potentially so, in large enough doses,” I explained. “They have a diluted gaseous form of that rare element that they used on us as a sedative.”

“But why? I thought the Mynver only believed in eliminating all other life-forms. What are they going to do to us?”

I looked around the strange chamber and with a pang of extreme and unmitigated dread I then realised where we were.

“By the Eternal Spires!” I swore. “This is the Mynver ship! We are being taken through Time and Space!”

It was then that the terrible voice of a Mutation came over a loudspeaker. 

“You will be taken to our planet for experimentation,” it announced. “You will be taken to meet our Imperator. You will be taken to Mynverkoss!”

Do you perceive the terror, indeed the unhallowed eldritch horror of this situation? Millie Drake and I were captives of the horrid Mynverkossian Mutations, and were being taken through the Time/Space Current itself -- our destination being the very home planet of those alien fascist monsters, the distant world known as Mynverkoss!

I heard the sound of the Mynver ship materialising and a previously-unseen entrance opened in the room. Several Mynverkossians entered and ushered us out of the ship.

We had landed in the centre of a wide and lofty chamber. It was a Mynver control room, filled on all sides with their incredible and bizarre technology, and lit by strangely-flashing strobes of truly grotesque colouration.

The Mutations had forced Millie and me apart, and I noticed they seemed to be surrounding her in a way quite menacing, but had thus far made no move to harm her.

At that time, my attention was suddenly riveted by what was stationed at the far wall of the chamber to which we had been taken. For it was there that something lurked that was beyond the levels of even the horrendous madness and extreme extraterrestrial terror to which we had already been subjected.

It was a Mutation, but larger than the others. The strands of technology attached to its intertwined tentacles looked more advanced, and continuously flashed with multi-hued colours. Some of them extended to a bank of computerised machinery that reached from the floor to a ceiling far above the sight of any normal being.

The thing’s eyes were like gashes of ebon-black, glowering from deeply within its quivering mass of horrid sallow flesh with a supremely hideous and grotesquely unholy look of total and unchecked hate.

Then it spoke. Its voice was like the other Mynver, harsh and grating and enhanced by technology, but it was deeper and more sonorous. It was a voice showing the presence of extreme intelligence, of a being plotting and commanding.

“Rumanos of Algol,” it said. “I am the Imperator of the Mynver. You have been brought to our planet according to my plans.”

“Spires of Daemonia!” I swore. “The entire Montauk Project was a trap, hmmm? All the rumours, the stories about it that circulated down through the decades? It was all a long game played by the Mynver in order to lure me in, so that you could capture me and bring me here!”

“That is correct,” replied the monstrous Mynver Imperator. “You have been brought here to our capital city for the purpose of experimentation. You will show no resistance. If you fail to comply with us in any way, your companion will be eliminated.”

“‘Experimentation’?” I repeated. “What by the Stellar Triplicity do you mean?”

“You have interfered with the conquest of all Space and Time that is the rightful due of the Mynver Race,” explained the Imperator. “You have shown yourself to have a unique ability against us. Now that we have you, your knowledge and abilities will be taken from you and added to us.”

“You mean you want to take from me all that I have used to defeat you so many times, hmmm?” I realised.

“Connect them,” ordered the Imperator of the Mynverkossians.

Two of the attendant Mutations began to attach strands of metallic technology to my head. They then attached the other ends of them to another Mynver that was hovering near by.

“Daniel, no!” cried Millie Drake. “Don’t let them do this to you! Please, no!!”

Nevertheless, I dared not move. The Mynver had their weapons trained upon Millie, and I knew that the slightest sign of resistance on my part could and would be used by them as a provocation to fire upon her. I realised that I could not let that happen, even to save the Universe; for I knew then that I truly love the beautiful young lady known as Miss Millie Drake and that I could never endure existence without her. I stayed still and let the Mynverkossian Mutations follow the orders of their Imperator and connect me for the experiment -- the experiment that intended to add my knowledge and abilities to that horrid race of ungodly fascist horrors, an experiment that could very well result in their being rendered unstoppable in their determination to enslave or eliminate all other species of the Cosmos!

“The one constituent that is within you that has caused our defeat will now be ours,” said the Imperator with a tone of mockery. “We will be invincible! With your abilities now part of us, we will achieve total victory!”

“Victory!” repeated other Mynverkossians. “Victory! Victory!”

With this, the machinery was activated, and a stream of bright orange and blue energy began to drain down from me into the hideous Mutation to which I was attached.

“In time, all the knowledge of the Watchers will also be added to ours,” continued the Mynver Imperator, its voice rising in horrid intensity. “We will use it as you never have. We will use it to conquer all. We, the Mynver, shall be the supreme rulers of all Eternity!!”

The data transfer was over quickly; being in essence the sending of a copy of whatever part of my personality had led to my having so often defeated the Mutations of Mynverkoss. The strands of technology that had connected me to the Mynver fell away as soon as the transfer was complete.

I felt a note of expectation in the room, as the Imperator and his subjects all turned themselves to-wards the Mynver that had received the data from me. Even the ones guarding Millie turned away somewhat.

The Mynverkossian to which I had been attached then moved slightly. It turned and focused itself upon the Mutation that was closest to Millie.

“Eliminate!” it cried. “Eliminate!!”

The Mynver then unleashed its weapon upon the one that had been most threatening the girl, destroying it in a blast of blood-red light. The others near to her quickly reacted by approaching it and firing back, and soon the one that had so briefly been in possession of a part of my essence ceased to exist.

I hurried over to Millie Drake, who half-fainted in my arms.

The Mynver Imperator had been silent for a few moments, as if in shock at what it had only just witnessed.

“What is this?!” it bellowed. “What is this outrage?!”

“You have failed in your experiment, Imperator,” I mocked. “You only succeeded in giving the test subject a sense of chivalry, for that is the element that is missing in you, the thing that shall always lead to your being vanquished!”

“This is an outrage!” continued the Mynver Imperator.

“Outrage!” repeated his subjects. “Outrage! Outrage!”

“You have now become irrelevant to us, Rumanos of Algol,” declared the Imperator. “Your existence ends now. You are an enemy of the superior Mynver Race and you must be… !”

Nevertheless, the Imperator’s order to eliminate me was never to be spoken, for then was suddenly heard a voice transmitting itself into the Mynver city. It was, strangely, the voice of another Mynver.

“You have betrayed the supremacy of the Mynver Race,” it announced. “You have attempted to bastardise our kind with the genetic material of inferior beings. You must be eliminated!”

“Rebel ships approaching!” announced an attendant Mynverkossian to the Imperator. “Rebel ships approaching from the other side of the planet!”

‘Fire upon them!” ordered the Imperator. “Eliminate them! Eliminate!!”

The entire Mynver city began to quake as the approaching ships commenced to rain down thermonuclear firepower upon it. The Mynverkossians under command of the Imperator fired back in what quickly became a continuous reciprocal barrage of mutually-destructive force.

“Daniel, what is happening?” asked Millie as she trembled in my arms. “Other Mynverkossians are attacking these?”

“Indeed they are, love,” said I. “It sounds like an entire fleet! There is another faction of Mutations on Mynverkoss; a faction that oppose the Imperator’s experimentation with other life-forms as being against their beliefs of total racial superiority. They oppose the idea of any other creature’s essence being mingled with theirs in any way! Millie, we are witnessing a Mynver civil war!”

The barrage continued. The sound was deafening, and the city -- forsooth the entire planet! -- shook with horrible intensity as the horrid weaponry of two Mynver factions pummelled each other with totally relentless force. I felt a jolt, a jolt as if the planet Mynverkoss had begun to crack open, indeed to be fractured from its very core.

“Those are mega-nuclear weapons they are unleashing!” I informed Millie. “They have compromised the integrity of the very planet!”

“The two Mynver factions will destroy each other!” said the lass. “They will destroy themselves!”

“Indeed they will,” I agreed, “and us as well, if we do not get away quickly!”

I noticed that the Mynverkossian Time/Spaceship in which we had been brought was still close by, and generally being ignored in the melee. Millie and I ran aboard it and I activated the controls for it to dematerialise, taking us away from the incredible destruction of the Mynver Civil War!

“Do you know how to fly this ship through the Time/Space Current?” asked Millie as we stood at the ship’s control area, its bizarre lights flashing all around us.

“I believe so,” I rejoined. “The interface is alien in appearance, but in essence it is quite similar to that used on some of the older Algolitish ships. I should be able to utilise its inbuilt quick return system to take us back to Montauk. Hold on!” …

Back in their city, the Mutations were being consumed in an enormous conflagration. They were indeed destroying each other, unleashing the full fury of the amazingly futuristic weapons of mass destruction that were at their disposal.

“Prepare my escape shuttle!” ordered the Mynver Imperator in desperation. “Prepare my escape shuttle!”

All around, the flames had risen higher, high above the very city of the Mynver, high above all the remaining life upon that planet that had birthed the greatest fascist evil that the Universe had ever known. …

From within our stolen ship, Millie and I watched the video screen and beheld the planet Mynverkoss disappear in a massive ball of flames as we entered the Current.

We arrived safely back in the laboratory of the centre at Montauk in the year 1983 and exited the Mynver ship.

“Stand back, Millie,” I said. “I programmed the ship to dematerialise again and thus move to the upper atmosphere, where it will then safely self-destruct.”

The sound of the Mynverkossian ship’s engines was again heard as it faded away. A few moments later, the noise of a far-off explosion indicated that my plan had succeeded.

“That is it, Mills, my love,” I assured the girl. “The Mutations of Mynverkoss have been defeated. Now we just have to disassemble the equipment here, so that no one else can ever find it and use it, and it will be safe for us to return to the DiTraS and leave.”

“But how can we be sure, Daniel?” questioned Millie Drake. “About the Mynver, I mean. If any of them survived, how can we be sure they will not just try again?”

“Millie, I checked the Time readings on that ship,” I revealed. “We were on Mynverkoss many millions of years in the future. That civil war -- it was later in the Cosmic history than the Mutations have ever been encountered.”

“So, you mean that was really the end of them?”

“Indeed, those were the last of the Mynverkossians. Their entire civilisation, that horrid racial supremacist philosophy that was the hate the Mynver represented, was never heard from again. It, and the Mutations themselves, were utterly annihilated. Millie, my dear, we have witnessed their final destruction!”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “RAIDERS OF THE CORONATION STONE”