“She looks like she’s about twelve,” muttered Officer Jon Chesterfield to himself as he watched the girl walk down the street on that foggy evening.
Chesterfield, an handsome, sandy-haired man in his early thirties, had parked his Baltimore Police Department squad car behind an old dumpster in order to watch the young girl. He had been keeping an eye on her for three evenings in a row, and had noticed how she always appeared at the same time, shortly before sunset, carrying a white paper bag, and then entered a vacant lot there in the city’s Remington neighbourhood.
The girl was very beautiful, with luxurious chestnut-coloured hair and enchanting violet eyes, her lips hot-pink. She was dressed in a short, purple dress that served to show off her slender pubescent legs. Officer Chesterfield vainly attempted to ignore the throbbing in his groin as he watched her.
Attempting to keep his mind on his duty, Officer Chesterfield had determined that this time he would follow the girl and find out where she went behind the tall wooden fence that enclosed the vacant lot. After all, he had convinced himself, she is likely some missing and exploited child that is being taken advantage of by one or more sexual predators. Yes, Jon Chesterfield told himself, he was just being a good, upstanding police officer by following the girl.
He watched as she disappeared into the lot, her slim figure easily slipping between a slight gap in the fence. Chesterfield got out of his police car and quietly walked over.
The vacant lot had at one time belonged to a used car dealership, and was very large. Unable to find an opening in the fence, Officer Chesterfield used his nightstick in order to pry two of the slats apart, just far enough to permit his entry.
The policeman’s first thought upon entering the lot was that the girl had just vanished. There was nothing in sight behind which she could be hiding. Then he realised there was something there after all. Something odd indeed. Something totally incongruous.
At the centre of the lot was something resembling a column -- exactly the sort of column that Chesterfield had seen in a film about the Roman Empire. He walked over to the column, wondering what it could be doing here.
Chesterfield walked around the column. There was no sign of the girl. Where was she? She could not have just disappeared -- could she?
Intrigued, Officer Jon Chesterfield stretch out his hand to touch the column. To his surprise, it was strangely warm, warm like a motor in idle mode, and he felt a steady vibration emanating from the thing.
“What the hell?” whispered the police officer.
Officer Chesterfield then carefully put his ear up to the column. He heard a humming noise, the sound of something that he could only think sounded like -- an engine! …
My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Extraterrestrial Espionage Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in fact several thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- the most intellectually-advanced race in all of the known galaxies, whose technology is so sophisticated it often appears to be “miraculous” to lesser beings.
Whilst most Algolites live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. “Plausible deniability”, and all that.
Currently assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. I am the living icon of Algol upon this world. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia.
I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …
“Who are you then, hmmm?” I enquired as I stepped through the fog. “What do you want?”
At this, the uniformed police officer whirled around and almost reached for his gun. He stopped himself and then just looked at me in wonder.
“Sorry to startle you, officer,” I continued, clad as I was in my usual finery (including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet dinner jacket, and one of my favourite opera capes), “but that is my property, hmmm?”
“What exactly is going on here?” queried the cop. “I’m Officer Chesterfield of the Baltimore Police Department. Who are you, and what is this thing?”
“My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” I returned, “and, as I said, this ‘thing’ is my property.”
“Daniel, is that you?” came a female voice from within the column.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” said Chesterfield. “You have that little girl trapped in there!”
“I assure you a do not ‘trap’ little girls, officer,” I told him. “Now, if you will kindly step out of my way, I have work to do.”
“‘Work’?” enquired the policeman. “‘Work’ where? In that thing?”
“Yes, my good man, ‘in that thing’. Now, step out of my way, hmmm?”
“Oh no,” he insisted. “I’m taking you into the station! You’re under arrest!”
“How utterly ridiculous,” I exclaimed. “On what charge?”
“Suspicion of kidnapping,” he said, “and possible child sexual abuse.”
“Nonsense,” I retorted. “Complete and total nonsense.”
Just then, a round “porthole” type of opening appeared in the side of the column. I made a move to step into it, but Officer Chesterfield suddenly thrust me aside with his nightstick and rushed in ahead of me. I quickly recovered and followed him through the porthole.
I stepped inside into a large chamber that was decorated to look somewhat like a café or tearoom. The girl was standing next to the “counter”, upon which she had put down the bag.
“Millie,” I said to her, “it appears we have a visitor.”
“Oh, that’s just the cop who’s been following me around for the last three days,” she stated unconcernedly. “He thought I didn’t see him. By the way, I did pick up that egg foo yung you wanted for dinner.”
I turned to look at the Officer Chesterfield. He was standing wide-eyed at the sights around him.
“What the hell is this place?” he asked breathlessly. “We were outside in the middle of that abandoned lot! There was nothing like this there! What the hell?!”
“Now, calm down, old chap,” I consoled him. “I did try to keep you out, but you insisted.”
“But it just looked like a… a…” he stuttered.
“A Roman column, I know. But it is really something else entirely.”
“I guess you might as well tell him, Daniel,” offered Millie.
“Officer Chesterfield,” I stated, “the young lady’s name is Millie Drake, and you have come aboard our spaceship!”
“What… ?” stammered the cop. “‘Spaceship’? What the hell? That’s crazy!”
“It’s called the DiTraS,” Millie explained. “That is short for ‘Dimensional Transport Sphere’.”
“You see, officer,” I added, “the inside of our ship exists in a different dimension than the outside, hence the size difference.”
“But, why does it look like a coffee-shop?” queried the officer.
“Oh, just my choice of themes, you know,” I answered. “Some of the people of our civilisation have become quite enamoured of your Earth café culture.”
“Your ‘civilisation’?” he repeated. “So you saying you’re from Outer Space?”
“Quite so,” I assured him. “Millie and I are part of an advanced extraterrestrial culture known as the Watchers of Algol. Our technology is far beyond anything you have seen before.”
“Yes,” added the girl. “Our home planet is ninety-three light years from yours.”
“Your ‘home planet’?” said Chesterfield incredulously. “You expect me to believe this?”
“My good man,” I said, “it is no concern of ours what you believe. You forced your way on board when we were here performing an investigation.”
“An investigation into what?”
“Into certain signals that have been detected in this area,” explained Millie. “Signals that seem to be travelling through time from the past.”
“Oh, so now you’re going to tell me some craziness about time travel as well?” asked the police officer, rolling his eyes. “It just gets worse and worse.”
“Indeed,” I said, “the DiTraS is perfectly capable of travelling through Time as well as Space.”
“Daniel, look!” Millie suddenly interrupted, indicating a readout upon the counter -- which is actually the control panel of our spaceship.
"Ah, that is it then!” I stated. “Our instruments have tracked the temporal source of the signal! I say, it is from approximately ten-thousand years before the common era!”
Suddenly, the entire ship shuddered and shook, and a deep gasping, moaning sound began to echo across the interior.
“What the hell is that?!” exclaimed Chesterfield.
“The engines are engaging!” said Millie. “We’re being taken into the Space/Time Current!”
“By the Triple Star!” I swore. “The DiTraS is remotely seeking the temporal location of that signal!”
“Doctor, do you mean… ?” stammered the policeman.
“Yes indeed, Chesterfield,” I assured him. “We are travelling back in Time! But to where?!”
We all experienced a certain sensation of dizziness due to entering the Space/Time Current so suddenly. Nevertheless, Millie and I both continued our attempt to explain matters to Jon Chesterfield. Fortunately, the stalwart police officer seemed to be starting to accept things as they were.
Millie activated the view screen above the controls, and it did indeed show the swirling grey mists and multi-hued spirals of the inter-dimensional Current through which we were travelling. I made some attempts to calibrate the control system, but it was being remotely controlled, most likely by the Kosmikos of Algol, that interstellar secret service organisation for which I am a semi-official Operative.
Finally, we heard the sound of the engines again, as they initiated re-materialisation at our new location.
“We’ve landed,” announced Millie Drake.
I looked at the readout on the control board.
“Yes, we are indeed just over ten-thousand years before the common era of Earth civilisation,” I said. “According to this, we are in the north-eastern part of the Continent of Africa!”
“Daniel,” said Millie excitedly, “that means we are in Ancient Egypt!”
“Yes, ‘ancient’ indeed,“ I agreed. “In fact, thousands of years before the first known dynasty of the pharaohs! Let me see if I can get an outside view on the screen.”
I adjusted the video controls, and there appeared on the screen a sight like unto what would be found at a tropical resort, with many tall palm trees and other colourful foliage.
“That doesn’t look right,” chimed in Chesterfield. “Egypt is a desert, isn’t it?”
“It is in your time, old chap,” I informed him, “but in this era, its climate was still much more humid and the land was lush with vegetation and animal life.”
“Can we go outside?” enquired Millie.
“I suppose we should,” I said. “We have to see what has brought us here. There have always been rumours of an advanced civilisation existing in Egypt long before the First Dynasty. Could that be it? Anyway, stay close to me. That means you too, Chesterfield, and do see that you leave your weapons behind! I will not have any accidents happening!”
I opened the porthole and the three of us stepped out. It was indeed warm and tropical, with many colourful birds flying overhead and perched in the trees, their strange cries filling the air with an indescribable music. I also perceived the sound of lapping water, obviously from a large near by river.
“We are along the banks of the Nile,” I announced. “No sign of human habitation as yet, but it cannot be far if that signal was indeed from here.”
“Daniel, look!” interrupted Millie.
The girl was pointing upwards, over the trees. There was an huge, looming structure, miles distant, of which we could see the pointed summit. It seemed to be made of pure glass, and the sunlight was reflecting brightly from it in all directions.
“Isn’t that a pyramid?” offered Chesterfield. “I mean, if we really are in Egypt.”
“Yes,” I pondered. “Yes, I believe it is. Fantastic! So the theories were correct, and the Great Pyramid of Giza was indeed built far earlier than is generally accepted. As you can see, it was covered with highly-polished, reflective stone. It would it visible for many, many miles around, and even from Space!”
“But what was it for?” asked the police officer. “Surely not just a tomb, like people think?”
“Could that be where the signal was coming from?” pondered Millie.
“Yes, that indeed seems likely,” I said. “Of course! The Ancient Egyptians -- or ‘Khemites’ as they were called -- were said to have had a priesthood that preserved some of the technology of Atlantis. The passageways within the Great Pyramid were then indeed arranged like the circuitry of a radio transmitter!”
“But why?” enquired the lass. “Who were they trying to contact?”
“Perhaps just anyone who could receive them,” I speculated. “Just to see if there were other civilisations out there, I suppose. Typical human curiosity, hmmm?”
“Doctor!” Chesterfield suddenly exclaimed. “Somebody else is here!”
Emerging from the foliage were several men. They were strongly-built and bronze-skinned, with noble aquiline features and shaven heads, dressed in garments that looked like a form of peplum tunic. The one who seemed to be in charge had a sword in a leathern scabbard. He stepped forward to us.
“I am Prince Suth of Khemet, Commander of the Royal Guard,” he announced, his dark eyes narrowed with suspicion. “You are unknown to our realm. From whence do you come?”
“Greetings, Prince Suth,” I said. “We are travellers from a far away land, and we come in peace.”
“‘Travellers’?” he repeated warily. “You will be taken before the king. Come with us and show no resistance.”
We marched along with them down a path through the trees until we came to a city, vast and gleaming with stone structures. The local citizens eyed us as we passed. Men and boys were especially interested in Millie, but respectfully kept their distance. We finally came to a large palace at the centre of town and were taken inside, down a long passageway until it opened into a lofty chamber decorated upon its walls with jewelled ceremonial masks, spears, and swords. At one end of it was the royal throne.
“Hear me, O King,” intoned Suth. “These strangers have been found trespassing upon our realm. The claim to be travellers who come peacefully.”
“And you have brought them here as if under arrest,” answered the king from his throne. “Really, Suth, I do wish you would learn some tolerance for strangers. You are my brother, but we are so much different.”
The king was kindly of countenance, clad in a garment similar to his subjects, but replete with gold and silver jewelled necklaces, bracelets, and rings on all of his fingers.
“I am King Asir of Khemet,” he continued, turning to us. “If you are friends of our land, then you are welcome here.”
“Your majesty,” I said with an appropriate bow. “We do come in peace to your glorious kingdom. I am Doctor Daniel Rumanos of Algol, and this is my companion, Miss Millie Drake. That is our friend, Officer Chesterfield of Baltimore.”
“Asir, my brother,” interrupted Suth. “I do not trust these strangers. There have been rumours of sedition following the untimely death of your wife, our queen. These foreigners may be spies from a nation that would benefit from your majesty’s death or dethronement.”
“What would you have me do, Suth?” enquired the king with some annoyance. “Have them imprisoned or executed just for being strangers to our land? That would be an act of tyranny for which we would not want Khemet known.”
I saw Prince Suth start to grip his sword, but he restrained himself before answering.
“According to the traditions of the realm,” he said, “they should be tried by… The Guardian!”
“Oh, very well,” acquiesced King Asir, passing his hand over his face as if in shame.
With this, Suth made a sign to the royal guard, and two of them went to a large side passageway in order to open the wide ornate curtain with which it was draped. We then immediately heard the heavy breathing of what was obviously a very big beast, and Millie clung to me in fright even before it appeared.
When it did appear, it proved to be far more bizarre than anything that we could have expected. It was like unto an enormous lion, larger than any usually found upon the planet, yellow in colour and with a rich mane of ebony-black. Nevertheless, it was the thing’s head and face that were the most horrible of all, for they were as that of an ape or primitive man, huge and grotesque in their simian anthropomorphism. The creature roared -- a monstrous sound that shook the building to its very foundations.
“What the hell?!” exclaimed Chesterfield.
“Daniel,” shuddered Millie, “isn’t that… ?”
“Yes,” I said. “The Sphinx.”
Do you see the horror of this, my friends? That huge monstrosity was none other than the original of the Sphinx, that fabled creature of ancient myth and lore!
I took a device resembling a writing pen from my pocket and held it up to-wards the monster, activating the gadget for a certain function. A whirring sound came from the device, and the gigantic Sphinx suddenly just sat down on its haunches and started to give forth with a sound of contentment like a cross between a cat’s purring and the happy humming of an happy child.
“Doctor,” said Chesterfield, “what’s that thing you’re using?”
“It is called the transonic turnscrew,” I informed him, “it is an highly-advanced piece of technology, and I have just programmed it to emit a signal to the Sphinx’s brain, keeping the animal docile. What a fascinating beast it is. Obviously a relic of the old Atlantean genetic experiments.”
“King Asir!” then exclaimed Suth. “The leader of the strangers has enchanted the Guardian! This is an affront to the Realm of Khemet! The strangers most be executed for this impertinence!”
“Uncle Suth, stop it,” suddenly came a female voice from the back of the throne room. “Can you not see that the Guardian likes them? Father, I pray you give the strangers their freedom!”
We all turned to see the girl who had entered. She looked to be about Millie’s age and was quite beautiful, bronze-complexioned and with hair like shiny liquorice, dressed in a garment similar to what the men wore, except with a bare midriff showing off her slender adolescent loveliness.
“The Princess Neptys is correct,” affirmed the king. “The strangers have passed the test of the Guardian and are now welcome here.”
“Thank you, my father,” smiled the princess.
“Of course, my beloved daughter,” answered King Asir. “I would like to hear more from these strangers, to learn of the lands from which they come and to… and to…”
Then the king suddenly fell to the side, sliding off the throne onto the floor.
“Father!” cried Princess Neptys in fright as she ran to him. “Oh, Father, what is the matter?!”
I noticed that Suth had by now suddenly exited the room.
“Your highness,” I said to the princess with a bow. “If I may be allowed to examine him. I am a doctor, after all.”
“You are a healer?” enquired the royal lass. “Can you help him?”
“I do promise to do all I can,” I said as I hurried to examine the now-unconscious king.
His breath was short and uneven, and I noticed grey patches forming upon his skin.
“What is wrong with him, Daniel?” asked Millie, who had accompanied me to the side of King Asir.
“Why, it looks like the effects of some kind of poison,” I said. “Could something have been slipped into his food or drink?”
“All his food is only handled by our trusted chef,” answered Neptys, “and even he is watched by a guardsman.”
“A guardsman under command of Prince Suth,” I suggested. “Princess, if you do not mind my asking, is this similar to the way your mother died?”
“Yes,” she affirmed, choking back tears, “she took sick and died within one day.”
We had by now laid King Asir on some pillows at the foot of the throne, and covered him with some silks.
“It is best not to move him,” I said. “I believe he has been affected by some poisonous berries known to be found in this region. They have a detrimental effect on the kidneys. However, I should be able to mix up an antidote. I will just need a…”
“You will do nothing, stranger,” said a voice from behind me, a voice I recognised as that of Suth. “With my brother the king now… indisposed, I am in command here.”
I turned and beheld Suth with his sword drawn, a troop of guards behind him.
“Uncle Suth, no!” exclaimed the Princess. “As long as my father lives you cannot command the guards to do anything against his orders, and he said the Doctor and his friends were to have freedom here.”
At this, the guardsmen backed off several paces. Prince Suth’s face grew livid with anger.
“King Asir is weak,” pronounced Suth as he raised his sword. “He must die for the preservation of our realm -- and so must his offspring!”
Suth then rushed forward and began to bring his blade down savagely to-wards the helpless figure of Princess Neptys!!
At the last second, before the sword could reach the defenceless girl, it was met with the blade of another. Jon Chesterfield had taken one of the ceremonial swords from the wall and was using it to defend the beautiful princess from her treacherous uncle, Suth!
“Your friend is a brave man,” said Princess Neptys, her eyes wide with admiration.
“Oh, I can assure your highness,” said I, “Officer Chesterfield here is known in his own land as ‘Baltimore’s Finest’!”
“Do they teach fencing at the police academy?” whispered Millie to me.
“As an elective,” I said. “Now, if I can just have a few crucial ingredients, I should be able to prepare a diuretic that should cure the king of his illness.”
As Chesterfield and Suth battled, various liquids and herbs were brought to me by the palace servants, and I soon finished the proper antidote and applied it to King Asir’s lips.
Jon Chesterfield proved a fine combatant, but it finally appeared that Suth would have the best of him, having backed him into a far corner of the chamber. Then, an amazing thing happened. The monstrous Sphinx, that had been docile since our encounter, suddenly sprang up and, with a roar as of animalistic indignation, it reached out one of its enormous paws and struck Suth to the floor, the beast’s mighty claws tearing open the villain’s skin and killing him instantly.
“The Guardian has made judgement!” announced Princess Neptys. “Uncle Suth has received the punishment due to him for his plot against our king!”
The rest is easily told. King Asir recovered and returned to ruling the land of Khemet in peace. Chesterfield received a truly wonderful reward for having defended the realm -- he was offered the hand of the beautiful Princess Neptys in marriage and the command of the royal guard. These he accepted, and therefore decided to stay behind in Khemet -- forsooth Egypt thousands of years before the earliest historical records -- whilst Millie Drake and I returned to the DiTraS to resume our travels in Space and Time. …
After a final audience with King Asir, Millie and I had taken our leave of the royal family of Khemet and had made our way back to where the DiTraS had landed, there in the tropical clearing beside the Nile. We stood for a few moments viewing the Great Pyramid as it loomed in the distance.
“I read a book about Egypt when I was little,” said Millie. “I remember the names of some of the gods they worshipped. Daniel, could they be… ?”
“Could Asir be Osiris and Suth his evil brother Set?” I said. “It seems possible, although those could be very commonly-found names in African antiquity. Still, who knows? It is indeed quite possible.”
“They must be extremely important, if the Kosmikos sent us here to make sure that King Asir lived,” stated the girl. “Are all the pharaohs descended from them or something, do you think? Ramses and King Tut and all that?”
“Maybe not the pharaohs, love,” I returned, “but it appears that someone is indeed descended from the family of Asir -- forsooth, someone even more important to the history of Earth.”
“What do you mean?” questioned Millie. “Who?”
I reached into my pocket and took out an object.
“King Asir gave me this in private,” I explained, “as a present for having preserved his life. It is a symbol of the Priesthood of the Pyramid.”
The object was a disk of pure gold, on which was carven a six-pointed star inlaid with precious stones of various colours.
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Millie. “That looks like… the Star of David!”
“Yes, indeed,” I agreed. “You see. The Priesthood here are monotheists, not pagans at all. They are the people of the One True God. Therefore, it seems the royal family of Khemet are the ancestors of the biblical Patriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve Tribes of Israel. Also of David and Solomon, and the rest of the Judaic line of kings.”
“That’s wonderful, Daniel!”
“Indeed it is, Mills, my love. Nevertheless, for now, let us return to our ship, where some leftover egg foo yung awaits us!”
And with this, we entered the DiTraS, and there was soon heard the strange gasping, moaning sound of its engines, as the ship dematerialised and we went on to new adventures.
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN "SUGAR AND SPICE"