MARK OF THE NEMESISTER

Of the many threats to the safety and peace of the Universe that I have faced in my long and storied career -- including the fascist terror of the Mutations of Mynverkoss and the horrible dreadfulness of the cybernetic Replicants of Leknii -- by far the most execrable is, of course, that notorious renegade of my own race, the evil Don Wingus. His wickedness is proverbial, his crimes endless, and his soul as one blasted beyond all hope of redemption.

At one time, Wingus altered his DNA and lived for some time amongst the people of Earth, calling himself Donald Jay Wingo and engaging in an extraordinary criminal career that spanned decades. This included a grave-robbing incident with a group of teenaged would-be “Satanists” in the area of Damascus, Maryland, which the then “Don Wingo” had perpetrated in order to achieve further power by utilising the ancient super-technology found hidden in an old “black magic grimiore”. Some time after this, Wingo had kidnapped and raped a six-year-old boy, again as part of a “magical” exercise involving sexual energies focused to-wards the achieving of certain nefarious goals. An innocent local man was charged and convicted of that crime, spending the rest of his life in prison whilst Wingo went free.

Don Wingo also became involved in the narcotics trade, smuggling illegally-obtained prescription drugs out of West Virginia into Maryland, once again as part of a far-larger plot -- in this case utilising the affects of the drugs to create an army of zombie-like followers who would obey the villain’s very command.

It was around this same time that Don Wingo founded Spectral Paranormal, that hideously-debased terrorist organisation that first gained recruits by preying upon the fears and superstitions of the uneducated blue-collar populace, particularly targeting their beliefs in the supernatural and the then-current “ghost hunting” fad.

Wingo eventually moved his headquarters to the town of Harpers Ferry in the previously mentioned state of West Virginia. There, he took up with an elderly woman by the name of Mary Adams, who ran a local junk jewellery shop. Don Wingo, finding that contact with the post-menopausal female was not in any way offensive to his innate homosexuality, accordingly traded his favours to the lonely old hag in exchange for the protective front she offered for his continued criminal activities.

Along the way, Don Wingo had become a father, artificially fertilising the womb of a drug-addicted Russian-American woman by named Diane Rizak in order to breed from her a daughter, who was then antichristened Anastasia Victoria Wingo. Rizak herself eventually went completely insane, dying of an intentional overdose of barbiturates in a trailer park just outside of York, Pennsylvania.

It was then that Wingo began making use of his daughter, instructing twelve-year-old Stacy Wingo to make obscene telephone calls to adult men and to set up illegal sexual relations with them. Don Wingo would then blackmail the men thus affected in order to ensure their cooperation with his wicked schemes. These include a certain politician in the Baltimore area, who shall here remain nameless, the failed carny stage magician Vince Wilson, and a certain Detective Garcia of the Howard County Police Department.

Nevertheless, Wingo soon found another use for his unfortunate daughter, one that led to her doom. In a secret satanic ceremony designed to contact the dreaded eldritch power of the Cacodemons of the Andromeda Galaxy, Don Wingo sat on an unholy throne and looked on in diabolical glee as a group of men, his cult members, did continuously rape young Stacy until the poor girl bled to death upon the horrible altar of obscene devil worship!

Soon after this, Wingo reclaimed his identity as Master Don Wingus of Algol, and it is then that our battles across all of Time and Space began in earnest -- battles that have forsooth formed a large part of these chronicles detailing my own career.

At this juncture, one may well ask: Could anyone exist, in all of the Cosmos, more evil, more ruthless, indeed more hideously sinful, than he who is known as Don Wingus? To this I must say, despite the unnameable shudders of extreme horror that the very thought brings about, that there indeed is one who could quite possibly outdo even the wickedness of Wingus -- if not in criminal ambition, then in calculating coldness and complete unfeeling disregard for the consequences of the actions she takes in her ungodly experiments.

That is correct; I said SHE. …

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 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. 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!!! …

The man ordered a beer and one could tell from the tone of his voice that he wanted it. Florid-faced and still dressed in his rather bedraggled work uniform from the Rubicon warehouse, he was tired after a long shift, his muscles aching from carrying heavy boxes across the warehouse floor.

“Right away, sir,” said the bartender, a somewhat-elderly, bald-headed man, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt (with a nametag that said “Tom”) and slacks. He drew a pint from the tap and slid it in front of the customer.

The bar area was decorated in a rather old-fashioned style, with reproductions of Regency-style paintings and tables and chairs of the same era. An old grandfather clock was against one wall.

“Ah, that’s good,” said the man, drinking deeply of the sudsy beverage. “Nothin’ like a cold beer after a long day’s…”

The man stopped his sentence short and lifted his hand to his forehead, blinking his eyes several times.

“What… What’s wrong with me... ?” he muttered, his voice weakening. “I feel like I’m gonna fall asleep…”

With this, the man’s head dropped down to the bar.

Tom the bartender walked over to a side door and knocked twice upon it.

“He’s out,” said the bartender simply, raising his voice only enough that it could be clearly heard from the next room.

A few seconds later the figure of a woman emerged from the door, dressed as she was in a long black dress that well-nigh resembled a shroud. A heavy veil covered her face.

The woman felt the pulse of the man at the bar. Then she took a small syringe-like object from a hidden pocket in her clothing. She held the device against the man’s right temple and activated it, the electronic needle then emitting a low humming sound as it filled up with a clear liquid substance.

“He will recover,” said the woman, her voice dripping with an haughty arrogance that was tinged with madness. “Put him in the alleyway as you have the others. When he awakens, he will only think he has indulged in too much alcohol. He will likely not even notice the slight mark the transonic hypodermic has left on his skin.”

The barkeep nodded in acquiescence as the woman disappeared back into the other room. He had already washed the glass the man had used, then drying it and efficiently setting it back on the shelf. …

“The Sparrows Point area of Baltimore County, Maryland” said I. “Once the home of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which shut down as the Industrial Age that birthed such industries came to its close. The old buildings of the steel mill are now used as warehouses and shipping centres for Rubicon, the world’s largest internet-based retail business.”

I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, and panama hat. I parked Lizzie, my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster, and alighted along with my companions.

The first of these was a beautiful young girl, petite and perfect with luxurious chestnut-coloured hair and enchanting violet eyes. She was clad in a short, tight dress of electric blue that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender, barely-adolescent figure.

The other was a small robot resembling nothing other than a mechanical cat.

“Rubicon,” I went on, looking around at the complex of looming warehouse structures on that warm spring day. “Interesting name for a company, hmmm?”

“Rubicon: signifies the ‘point of no return’,” stated the robotic feline in her pleasantly-feminine voice. “A point at which any action taken commits the person taking it to a further course of action that cannot be avoided. After the stream in northern Italy that Julius Caesar crossed illegally with his army in the year forty-nine BCE, making civil war inevitable within the Roman republic.”

“Quite right, Kit-10,” I praised. “The name was adopted by this company to signify that they should retail so many different items that everyone would have to order from them eventually.”

“Well, it seems to have worked,” added the girl. “I hear that the founder of Rubicon is now worth hundreds of billion of dollars.”

“Is he really, Millie?” I reacted. “That should make him quite popular amongst Earthlings, then. Their obsession with riches seem to know no bounds.”

“So why are we here?” enquired Millie Drake. The girl is a young member of my own extraterrestrial race who has become my apprentice as an agent of the Kosmikos. “We left headquarters so quickly to rush over here that you have not even had a chance to explain our mission.”

“My instruments picked up a brief murmur in the dimensional stability of the area,” I explained. “It was as if the Time-Space Current briefly opened.”

“You mean like if a DiTraS materialised here?” asked Millie. (Pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere, a DiTraS is a combination of spaceship and time machine only useable to our people, the Watchers of Algol.)

“Possibly,” I said. “If so, it was well-masked. The disturbance was so slight; it was probably nothing like that. It would take an absolute scientific genius to do such a thing.”

“Daniel,” said Millie with a shudder, “you do not think it could be Don Wingus again?”

“Not this time, love,” I consoled her. “I have the temporal signature of his ship saved in all our sensors, and it was not that. No, it was likely only a very tiny black hole passing through this area of the planet or something along those lines. Nevertheless, it is our duty to investigate and find out for certain.”

I took the transonic turnscrew, a technologically-advanced device resembling a writing pen, from my jacket pocket, then setting it to scan the area for alien technology.

“Nothing is showing up near by,” I said whilst viewing the instrument readout.

“But didn’t you say it could be masked?” queried the lass.

“Yes, but as I said, the intelligence it would take to hide something like a time-ship from our Kosmikos-enhanced tech would be immense. Why, even amongst Algolite families I only know of…”

“Be on alert, s--,” suddenly said Kit-10 (one of her catlike tendencies being her dislike of openly showing respect to anyone, the slight sound of “s--” being the closest she can get to addressing me as ‘”sir”, or “m--” to calling Millie Drake “ma‘am”). “Several human beings approaching quickly from behind.”

Millie and I whirled around just in time to see several working-class type men indeed hurrying to-wards us, all of whom were clad in uniforms signify them as employees of the warehouse. The lead one of them was wielding a large crowbar. Before we could even react, another one of them grabbed Millie and began to drag her off. She screamed and struggled but was unable to escape the man’s muscular grasp. I braced myself to spring after them and rescue her but was prevented from doing so by a sudden blow to my shoulder. It was the crowbar.

I fell to the ground and looked up to see the man lift the weapon, his obvious intention being to bring it down on my head!

I lifted my foot with a lightning-fast kick to the man’s stomach area. The crowbar clattered to the ground beside me and, before he could recover, I administered a Daemonian kung fu hold that cased him to sink into unconsciousness.

I jumped up and saw the other man who was attempting to abduct Millie. He was already several metres away, but I noticed my mechanical cat in pursuit.

“Stun him, Kit-10!” I called.

With this, a sharply-focused light shot forth from the nose of the little robot, hitting the man on the back of his head and causing him to sink to the ground.

I ran to Millie. Thankfully, she was unharmed. The other men had run away when they had beheld our particular self-defence techniques.

“Daniel, what happened?” stammered the girl. “Why did they attack us?”

“I do not know, love,” I admitted. “Apparently, we have somehow crossed the Rubicon.”

I went and examined both of the now-unconscious men.

“That is odd,” I said. “Both of them have a mark on their right temple area. It looks like the type made by a very highly-advanced hypodermic syringe.”

I took out the transonic turnscrew and scanned both of them.

“By the Triple Star!” I swore. “Both of these men have had their brains drained of the chemical that suppresses violent impulses! It is no wonder they have no self-control!”

“Who would do such a thing?” enquired Millie Drake.

“I wonder. Why, I have not seen experimentation of that kind since…”

I caught myself, not even wanting to consider the eldritch possibility that had entered my mind.

“I say, Millie,” I pondered. “Look over there. The local public house, hmmm? What say we have a drink and ask a few questions?”

Just off the edge of the Rubicon grounds, the place was called The Sparrows Point Inn and had a sign on the door declaring that it was `”Under New Management”. Millie, Kit-10, and I entered to find it a small but well-ordered establishment, decorated in a rather old fashioned style.

“Eighteenth Century?” wondered Millie. “Or early Nineteenth?”

“Regency, to be precise,” I declared. “British Regency, of course. This clock is a bit different, however.”

I examined the grandfather clock that was standing on one side of the room. My eyes briefly went wide with astonishment as I put my hand upon it and detected a vibration coming from within, a vibration of technology far beyond the clockwork gears one would expect to find in such an antique. I then put my ear to it and heard the definite sound of machinery -- forsooth, of an engine, an incredibly-advanced engine running in idle.

I took the transonic from my pocket and activated it, briefly aiming the device to-wards the clock.

“Can I get you folks something?” interrupted the bartender’s voice. He was a rather elderly, bald-headed man wearing a short-sleeved shirt and slacks. His nametag said “Tom”.

“Quite so, my good man,” I answered, going over to the bar. “I shall have a cherry-vanilla cola, and a ginger ale for the young lady.”

“Right away,” said the barman, then going to prepare our drinks.

“You seemed very interested in that clock,” whispered Millie to me. “Is there something the matter with it?”

“Only that it is not a clock,” I informed her. “It is really a…”

“Here’s your drinks, folks,” announced Tom the bartender.

“Thank you much, my friend,” I said whilst handing the man some cash, which included a substantial gratuity. “Please keep the change.”

“Thank you, sir,” he returned with a smile.

“Should we get Kit-10 a saucer of milk or something?” joked Millie.

“This unit does not consume beverages, m--,” retorted the metal cat.

“I could not help noticing that this place is under new management,” I stated to the bartender. “Hence the d├ęcor?”

“Yeah,” said Tom. “It’s that woman that took over the joint. Think she might be English or something. Likes this old-timey stuff.”

“How did she ever come to own the pub?” I questioned

“Don’t know really,” answered the barkeep. “The old owners just kind of disappeared. Retired, I guess. One day she just came in and announced she was the new boss. I like my job, so I don’t ask questions.”

“Any idea where she got that old clock, hmmm?” I asked. “I am sort of a collector myself, and have been looking for something similar.”

“I’m not really sure,” he said. “Come to think of it, she just kind of seemed to have it with her. It was just suddenly there when she said she was now in charge of the bar.”

“Daniel, look!” suddenly exclaimed Millie.

I turned around and beheld what I had most dreaded to see. It was a woman emerging from a doorway leading from the back room of the inn. She was wearing a long black dress that had about it the horrid air of a shroud. Whilst I looked at her, she lifted the heavy veil that had obscured her face.

She was of undetermined age, with noble aquiline features. Her hair was dark, and her eyes ebon-black with a look of command mixed with unspeakably-dangerous madness.

“As inquisitive as ever, I see,” she said, her voice highly-cultured and full of haughty pride. “Well, are you not going to introduce me to your friends?”

“Millie Drake, Kit-10,” I said, swallowing hard to control my voice from trembling, “meet -- The Nemesister!!”

“Ummm, hello,” said Millie, then turning to whisper in my ear. “Daniel, is that really her? I heard stories of her on Daemonia, but I never thought that we would…”

“It has been a long time, brother,” said the one known as Nemesister. “Nice to meet your little girlfriend and your ridiculous mechanical pussy.”

“This unit is not a cat,” retorted the robot.

“Kit-10 is my personal computer,” I added, “Millie is my apprentice and companion, and you are not to ever again address me as ‘brother’.”

“Always so sensitive,” sneered the Nemesister. “Just like back in our days at Daemonia Academy. Why, I remember that one time you went crying to the teacher about…”

“About the way you used my pet guinea pig in one of your experiments,” I retorted. “You filled the poor thing full of inter-dimensional radiation in order to see if organic matter could transcend temporal limitations without resorting to non-organic technology. The animal went mad and attempted to attack the Citadel of the Absolute Convention by shooting radioactive rays out of its eyeballs. It took the entire Conventioneer Guard to put the little cavy down.”

“Yes, I remember,” laughed the Nemesister. “Fun times.”

“So you two were actually at the Academy together?” enquired Millie.

“Of course, child,” replied the villainess. “I was a grade ahead of him.”

“Only because you are older than I am,” I quipped.

The woman winced briefly at my words then resumed her usual look of haughty insanity.

“So, why have you been experimenting on these men from the Rubicon warehouse?” I enquired. “You have been removing the chemical from their brains that allows human beings to have any control at all over their impulses. Obviously, doing this greatly increases aggression.”

“I need the chemical to administer to my subjects on Lerych,” she replied.

“Ah, the planet Lerych,” I said, “where you rule despotically as Supreme One. Have some of your subjects threatened a revolution? Is that it?”

“There are certain upstarts there who must be silenced. I can take this chemical and artificially enhance it, then release it into the water supply there, hence securing the complete and total servitude of all the citizens of Lerych.”

“You old she-devil!” I shuddered. “Not only are you experimenting on sentient beings without their consent, you do not even care about the affects that the increased levels of violence could have locally!”

“Oh, I do not think about things like that,” the Nemesister replied offhandedly.

“You have been drugging these men here at the bar in order to extract the chemical?”

“Of course. Just a bit of a sleeping drug in that silly lager drink they always order.”

“The people of Lerych are an humanoid race,” I wondered, “but not from Earth. How are you going to get this Earthling brain chemical to synchronise properly with their DNA?”

“Oh, I have a deoxyribonucleic acid manipulator,” she replied.

“What!” I reacted. “That is old Algolite technology from the dark times. How did you ever get your hands on one?”

“I took one that was on display as an antique in the chambers of the Absolute Convention.”

“Spires of Daemonia!” I swore. “What idiot could have been in charge at the time, that you could ever get away with that?”

“You were,” she grinned.

“You cannot be allowed to continue this outrage,” I changed the subject. “As an Operative of the Kosmikos, I am immediately placing you under arrest. You will be taken back to Daemonia to stand trial. The Watchers have ignored your crimes for far too many centuries, and…”

“Really, do you think that is going to happen?” replied the evil Algolite woman. “You only need look behind you to see that is not the case.”

“Look behind me?” I chuckled. “Do you really think I would fall for that old trick?”

“Daniel,” interrupted Millie, “she’s telling the truth! Look!”

“Danger, s--,” added Kit-10.

I whirled around and, to my horror, saw that Tom the bartender was aiming a shotgun directly at me!

Do you recognise the horror, the unspeakable terror of this situation, my friends? That evil Algolite woman, known to eternal infamy as the Nemesister, had that man in her employ, the bartender who was now threatening me with a very dangerous firearm!

Then something unexpected happened, something truly inspiring and of hope to the well-being of humanity itself.

“Stand out of the way, friends,” said Tom. “This is between me and her.”

We moved aside as the barman trained his shotgun on the Nemesister.

“You traitor!” she scorned. “You useless human barbarian!”

“I don’t care if you do own the place now,” announced Tom. “I won’t see you hurting these people.”

“Why, you worthless Earthling filth!” screeched the evil woman, as she prepared to leap forwards to-wards Tom, obviously with murderous intent.

With this provocation, the bartender fired the gun. It was a warning shot, and buckshot scattered at the feet of the Nemesister.

The wicked woman then turned away in disgust and leaped to-wards the grandfather clock. A type of portal opened in its side as she approached.

“Kit-10!” I called.

The robotic cat fired her nose laser at the Nemesister, but it was too late. The villainess had already vanished inside the supposed clock, and the blast was neutralised by an energy shield on its surface.

“The clock!” Millie realised. “It is really her DiTraS!”

“Indeed it is,” I agreed, holding up my transonic device to-wards the ship. “Worry not, Mills, I did some sabotage to it earlier. Watch!”

I activated the transonic and there was the sound of an explosion from within the clock just before, with the odd gasping, moaning noise of its inter-dimensional engines, the disguised DiTraS dematerialised, fading from view as it entered the void.

“She will not get away so easily,” I told Millie. “Do not worry, love. I shall explain later.”

We turned to look at Tom the barman, who was returning his shotgun to its place hidden under the counter.

“Thanks for your help,” the girl said to him.

“Quite right, Tom,” I added. “You have done a great and heroic deed.”

“I just couldn’t let her get away with what she was doing,” declared the bartender. “I mean, I really didn’t understand all of it, but I guess she was harming some good, decent, hardworking people.”

The telephone behind the bar rang, and Tom answered it. He hung it up again after exchanging a few words.

“That was the old owners,” he said with a smile. “They said they’ve just been away on a vacation they won in some sweepstakes, and will be back tomorrow!”

“Something she had set up?” whispered Millie to me. “To keep them away while she used this place for her experiments?’

“No doubt,” I replied. …

In the dark control room of her spaceship, the Nemesister was examining the readouts on her instrumentation whilst the ship quaked and lurched, seemingly in every direction at once, as it moved through the swirling grey mists and multi-hued spirals of the Time/Space Current.

“That bastard has disabled my directional control!” screeched the Algolite villainess in outrage. “I can no longer control my DiTraS! I am hurtling unstoppably to-wards the eternal blackness of non-existence!” …

“The Nemesister will not be able to regain control of her ship before it takes her far away from anything that could be termed ‘reality’,” I told Millie Drake and Kit-10 as I drove my car away from the area of the Rubicon warehouse. “I scrambled its systems with a special formula utilised by the Kosmikos. We will not be hearing from her again for quite some time -- if ever!”

“What about those poor men that she experimented on?” enquired the girl. “What will happen to them?”

“Without her influence, the chemical will naturally replenish itself in their brains,” I assured her, “and they will soon return to normal.”

“That’s good to hear, Daniel,” said Millie. “Say, is it all right if I ask you something else?”

“By all means, love,” I said.

“When she called you ‘brother’, is that just because you went to the Academy together or something? Or because you are both Watchers? Because I have never heard our people use the term that way. I mean… or is she really your… ?”

“I say, I am feeling a bit peckish, hmmm?” I quickly interrupted, changing the subject. “What do you say to us going to pick up some lunch?”

“Sounds great!” exclaimed the lovely lass.

“Indeed it does, Mills, my dear,” said I to the wonderful young lady. “I know of a nice take-away place near here, and we can get some pizza.”

***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “SEED”