BLAZE OF GLORY

It was an informant who had revealed that the country club, located there in the Hampton area of Baltimore County, Maryland, was being used as a hideout for that horrid esoteric terrorist group known to eternal infamy as Spectral Paranormal. This informant, who remained anonymous in the message that he had sent to our downtown headquarters, had claimed outrage at the terrorist organisation for which he worked having kidnapped a girl named Lori Logan, daughter of a prominent local politician. It was presumably the intention of the evil agents to brainwash the young lady in order to have her available as an insider during her father’s upcoming bid to run for President of the United States.

I had made my way across the country club grounds that late-spring morning, dressed as I was in my usual finery -- including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, sunspecs, and panama hat -- and entered the central building of the establishment. All had seemed quiet, with no one about, but I knew it likely that Spectral Paranormal agents were watching me whilst maintaining the ruse that the club was not yet open for the day.

I found Miss Lori Logan tied to a bed in one of the rooms. She was quite pretty, with dusky hair and eyes inherited from her South Korean mother, and still clad in the uniform of the elite private school from which she had been abducted. As I began to untie her, she stirred from the hypnotic sleep in which she had lain.

“What… ?” she muttered. “What’s going on? Who are you?”

“Worry not, Miss Logan,” said I, helping the teenager to sit up. “I am Dr. Rumanos and I am here to rescue you. Your father knows about what has happened, and…”

I heard a noise and swung around to face a large man in black jeans and a matching t-shirt -- the horrid cult symbol of the three interlocked triangles that was printed thereon marking him as an operative of Spectral Paranormal. He was holding an old-style revolver on me.

With lightning-fast speed, I kicked his hand and sent the gun into the air. He recovered quickly, and began to reach out his hands as if to throttle me. I ducked under them and hit him with a barrage of Daemonian kung fu blows, ending with one to his head that sent him immediately to the floor in unconsciousness.

Whilst this was occurring, Lori Logan had reached under the mattress of the bed and had retrieved a long, vicious-looking dagger. As I concluding knocking out the criminal agent, the girl approached me and prepared to plunge the knife into my back!

“Daniel, look out!” I heard a familiar voice warn me.

I turned around just in time to see my assistant, Miss Millie Drake, grab Lori Logan around the waist and pull her back away from me. I quickly took hold of Miss Logan’s wrist and squeezed it hard, causing her to drop the knife. However, before I could further help Millie in subduing her, the kidnapped girl kicked me in the stomach with a strength that belied her size.

“Millie,” I groaned. “She is still under hypnosis and therefore has greater than normal strength! Be careful if she… !”

Nonetheless, Lori Logan had already broken free from Millie’s hold and was attempting to find the knife. Then, before she could proceed further, a beam of sharply-focused light came from across the room and hit her squarely in the middle of her chest. She fell backwards onto the bed, stunned by the nose-laser of my mobile computer.

“Good shooting, Kit-10!” exclaimed the exceedingly-beautiful Millie Drake, petite and perfect as she is with her luxurious chestnut hair, enchanting violet eyes and sun kissed skin. She straightened the tight, short, rose-coloured dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender adolescent figure.

“No problem, m--,” replied the pleasantly-feminine voice of the robot that resembles nothing more or less than a mechanical cat. In fact, one of Kit-10’s rather catlike qualities is her total inability to openly show respect to anyone. The closest she ever gets is referring to me by a slight “s--” sound (for “sir”) and to Millie by “m--” (for “ma’am”).

“So you were right, Daniel,” said Millie, “that this was a set up by Spectral Paranormal.”

“Of course it was, Mills,” I agreed. “The ‘informant’ was a loyal agent of theirs, and they hoped that luring us here to presumably save Miss Logan would lead to our assassination.”

“They hypnotised her to murder you!”

“Yes, but she is not responsible for her actions,” I explained. “We must take her back to headquarters and ‘deprogram’ her before returning her to her parents in Annapolis. I know some definite techniques that should bring her around.”

“Of course,” giggled Millie Drake. “If there is anyone who is the greatest expert at influencing the minds of young girls, it’s you!” …

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 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!!! …

It was a short time after we had safely returned Miss Lori Logan to her parents that Millie Drake, Kit-10, and I were once again at our headquarters, located as they are in the golden trapezoidal roof of a Baltimore skyscraper, the ground floor of which is a pizza parlour.

Inside our secret HQ is a veritable museum of artefacts that I have collected during my long and storied career, including pieces of alien technology and obscure objects from numerous different historical periods. Nevertheless, by far the most amazing piece in this collection is something resembling a “Roman column” that is, in reality, my DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere) -- one of those incredibly-advanced combination Spaceship-and-Time-machines that are only useable by my people, the Watchers of Algol.

Also therein is a system of monitors and scanners that keep track of any possible threat to the planet Earth, and it was these that I was checking on during the day that our next adventure began.

‘By the Stellar Trinity!” I swore. “Millie, look at this.”

I was seated behind my worktable viewing some of the security relays. Miss Millie Drake came over beside me, now dressed in a flowered sundress of the tight, short-skirted type she favours.

“What is it, Daniel?” enquired the lass, then noticing the view-screen I had been examining. “Oh, it’s that asteroid!”

“Indeed it is,” I agreed. “The huge asteroid that has been detected approaching Earth. It has been determined that it will miss the planet and do no harm, but the astronomer who discovered the thing nicknamed it ‘Blaze of Glory’. A bit of dark humour, hmmm?”

“So what is it doing now?”

“It seems to be continuing its course, and is still far outside of the orbit of the Moon, but our instruments -- which, as you know, are much in advance of anything else on Earth -- have picked up something strange about it. Something strange indeed. Take a look.”

The girl gazed at the readout and let out a cry of surprise.

“Is that what I think it is?” she enquired. “There is some kind of machinery at the centre of the asteroid?”

“So it seems, love,” I informed. “We are definitely picking up signs of technology therein. Exactly what it is, or what is its purpose, we cannot tell from here.”

“So we should investigate, right?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” said I, quickly retrieving my hat and the opera cape I wear when travelling. “Millie, Kit-10, let us be off!”

A porthole-type aperture appeared in the DiTraS and we entered the machine. A few moments later, the odd gasping moaning noise of the ship’s engines was heard as it faded from view into the Space/Time Current.

Within the cafĂ©-like control room of the DiTraS (which exists in a different dimension and is thus of a much larger size than the vehicle’s exterior), I stood at the main console.

“I have set the coordinates for the asteroid,” I informed Millie, who was standing beside me. “Ah, here we are! We have materialised inside of it. It is indeed an hollow cavity, in which is some advanced machinery and computer equipment!”

“But what could it be, Daniel?” queried the girl. “Who put it there, and why would it be inside this asteroid?”

‘”Well, there is only one way to find out. Our scanners are showing a breathable atmosphere.”

“Recommend caution, s--,” advised Kit-10.

“Of course, old friend,” I agreed. “We can stay near the ship, but we must find out the facts concerning this mystery!” …

Little did we know that we were being watched, monitored from the command deck of a silver rocket-ship flying through near by Space.

“He has arrived, Controller,” said a tall, silver being shaped like a man, its voice an emotionless electronic whirr.

“Excellent,” said the other, of the same type but even larger, and with bronze highlights on its metallic form. “All is going as planned. He will be destroyed. We will use the asteroid to wipe out the human race, but first we will kill Dr. Daniel Rumanos, that he will no longer be able to interfere with our programmes. We, the Replicants of Leknii, shall then be unstoppable.” …

My companions and I exited the DiTraS, and found ourselves within a circular chamber lined with computer banks, controls, and monitors.

“It looks like another spaceship!” stated Millie.

“Indeed it does,” I said. “Apparently, someone has decided to use this asteroid as a mobile device, hmmm? I wonder if…”

“Caution!” interrupted Kit-10. “Danger approaching!”

Millie Drake and I turned around to see what had startled the computerised cat. We soon beheld what it was. Entering the chamber via a sort of service duct were several small silver creatures resembling robotic rodents. They began to glide quickly across the floor to-wards us.

“Oh my goodness!” exclaimed Millie with a shudder of horror whilst huddling up close to me. “I know what those are!”

“Yes,” said I, as the metallic creatures approached us. “Repli-Rats!”

These things, known as Repli-Rats, are service robots of the Replicants of Leknii, that horrid race of cyborgs that seek to convert all humanoid life-forms to their own soulless and loveless kind. The Repli-Rats contain a kind of potentially-fatal poison and are thus used for defence of Replicant ships and bases.

Before the terrible mechanical rodents could approach us further, I reached into my pocket and retrieved the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument about the size and shape of a writing pen), immediately aiming the device at them.

Upon my activating the transonic, the Repli-Rats halted and began to shudder, with strange sparking sounds emanating from them.

“Kit-10!” I called. “You know what to do!”

With this, the robotic feline quickly blasted each of the Repli-Rats with her nose-laser. At its making contact, each of them shattered into countless microscopic shards -- this being a safety measure of all Leknii technology in order to prevent its parts being cannibalised.

“Good work, Kit-10!” I praised. “I always knew you would be a fine mouser!”

“This unit is not a cat, s--,” protested the robot.

“So it really is the Leknii Replicants behind all of this!” said Millie Drake.

“So it seems, love,” I acquiesced. “That kind of sheds a new light on things, hmmm? The Replicants would only so equip this asteroid for one reason -- they intend to divert its course and crash it into Earth in order to wipe out the human race!”

“But why would they do that? I thought they wanted to assimilate humans, not destroy them.”

“The Kosmikos has actually been suspecting something like this from them. The Leknii are aware that human soldiers from the future were successfully used against them in the Replicant Wars, and they are now planning to cleanse Earth of all human life in order to prevent that even happening!”

“Your transonic turnscrew,” said the girl. “It worked to help disable the Repli-Rats. Will it work against the Replicants as well?”

“It should be of some assistance, my dear. Remember the last time we faced them, on Saturn? They were attempting to destroy all shipments of that rare spice, vlooj, to which they are highly allergic. It gets in their respiratory systems and suffocates them. Well, I have programmed a setting of the transonic turnscrew to emit a type of synthetic vlooj. It is not as strong as the real thing, but it should work to disable any Leknii we may encounter. That is, until they find a way to upgrade and remove the flaw that makes them susceptible to it.”

“So is there a way to stop them from using the asteroid against Earth?”

“There is always a way, love,” I assured the lass. “Success is just a process of finding it and implementing it. I need to take a closer look at the machinery here, and then…”

Then a terror happened all at once. Within a moment, I beheld the form of a Replicant rocket-ship upon one of the view screens -- coming into sight right beside the asteroid -- I heard Kit-10 warn “Danger, s--!”; I heard Millie scream; and  saw a shimmering light as two silver Leknii Replicants appeared in the chamber via a matter transit beam.

Before I could react, one of the Replicants -- its bronze highlights signifying it as a Controller -- grabbed Millie Drake by the arm and pulled her away from me as the other one punched me squarely in the face with its huge metallic hand.

I went careening across the room, losing my grip on the transonic turnscrew. I heard it clatter across the floor whilst I struggled to keep my balance.

“You are finished, Rumanos of Algol,” announced the Replicant Controller as Millie trembled helplessly in its grasp. “You are finished, and the human race you are sworn to protect will now be destroyed.”

I recovered my footing and saw poor Millie faint from the horror of the situation as she stood in the Controller’s cruel hold. The other Replicant was just beside me, its huge silver hands held out menacingly.

“Do nothing to oppose us,” warned the Controller, “or I will end the life of this child. The controls are already set that will take this asteroid on a collision course with the planet Earth. They are locked and cannot be altered. You will be taken prisoner aboard our ship, after which your execution will be broadcast to all sectors of known Space, as a warning to others who would in any way stand in the way of Replicant domination of the Cosmos.”

“You cannot get away with this, Controller,” I retorted. “The Watchers of Algol will not allow your kind to convert all humanoid life-forms. We will…”

“The Watchers can do nothing to stop us,” interrupted the Leknii Controller. “It is only because your kind is not suitable for conversion that we have not already absorbed your society. When you are gone the Kosmikos will be crippled in this region, and the Algolites will not be able to move against us without exposing their violations of their own rule of non-interference.”

Whilst all this was occurring, Kit-10 had not been idle. She had activated a function that had magnetised herself, and the transonic turnscrew had moved quietly across the floor until it attached itself to her side.

“I implore you,” said I, continuing to stall the Replicants. “Stop this madness. Leave Earth alone. The humans of this time are not those who fought against you in the wars. They are innocent. Leave them be.”

“That will not happen,” replied the horrid Controller Leknii. “We will wipe out humankind and change the outcome of the wars. There will be no future Earthlings to fight against us. We will be victorious, and shall go on to assimilate all suitable humanoid life into our kind.”

It was just the that Kit-10 released the transonic turnscrew, sending the device flying through the air. I reached out and caught it, quickly activating the vlooj setting and turning it on the Replicant that was just beside me. The thing shuddered and sputtered, emitting a coughing sound as the synthetic spice entered the respiratory grating on its metallic chest. Unable to breath, the cybernetic horror shattered into countless shards.

At the same time, Kit-10 did as I had expected, turning her nose-laser against the Controller, aiming to-wards its head, well away from the unconscious Millie Drake. Even though my catlike robot’s blaster was not powerful enough to pose a serious threat to the Replicant, it was enough of a surprise to make the thing drop the girl from its grasp. She fell to the floor, now clear of its hold.

I turned the transonic to-wards the Controller, hoping to kill it with the vlooj. The Replicant raised its arm and shot a blast of its inbuilt energy weapon. It did not have sufficient time to aim, however, and the burst landed at my feet as I stepped quickly away from it. Then, before I could get a lock on the cybernetic terror’s respiratory grating, there was a blur of shimmering light as the Replicant Controller utilised the matter transit beam to return to its ship.

“Thank you, Kit-10,” I said as I hurried to check on Millie.

“No problem, s--,” replied the computerised puss.

The lass was recovering from her faint and I helped her to her feet.

“Are you all right, love?” I queried.

“I’m okay, Daniel,” replied Millie. “What is happening?”

I glanced at one of the monitor screens just in time to see the near by Replicant rocket-ship engage its warp engines and leave the area. Then there was a sound of machinery turning on within the asteroid, and I looked at another view-screen on which, at the centre of an eldritch dark, was a tiny blue-green disk that I knew to be the planet Earth. To my horror, I noticed the disk starting to become noticeably larger, nearer.

“The planned system is underway,” I said. “The asteroid is heading directly to Earth at near light-speed!”

“What can we do?” Millie cried. “It will destroy the human race!”

Do you recognise the terror, forsooth the unspeakable horror of this dilemma, my dear readers? That asteroid was heading on a collision course for Earth, with the machinery within it programmed to a trajectory that would wipe out all of mankind!

“The Replicant said that the controls are locked,” I said. “They were likely set remotely from the Leknii ship and cannot be reprogrammed from here.”

“But Daniel,” implored Millie Drake, “isn’t there some way to override them, and change its course so it misses the planet?!”

“Possibly,” said I, examining the control boards, “but even if I had the time to do so, we are going in too fast. If the asteroid were to suddenly reverse its course, or even swerve to the side, it would cause a gravity reversal that would cause the planet’s atmosphere to be sucked out into Space! All life on Earth would perish!”

I looked at the monitor screen as the planet grew closer and closer. The speed the asteroid was achieving was incredible.

“By the Eternal Spires!” I swore. “Of course! That is it! The speed we are reaching! If I can just…”

I started to quickly program a sequence into the control console of the asteroid’s machinery. In a few moments, a loud grinding sound was heard as the asteroid shook convulsively whilst the image on the screen faded and the swirling grey mists and multicoloured spirals of the Space-Time Current briefly appeared before the screen once again resolved into a view of the planet Earth.

“Yes!” I exulted. “That has done it!”

“But what have you done, Daniel?” asked Millie.

“I performed a modification on the engine, upgrading it to minimal Time-travel capabilities. Then I took us back to the Earth of just over sixty-five million years past, where the asteroid can crash without doing what the Replicants had intended. One thing, though… We need to get out of here before it reaches the planet’s atmosphere!!”

I hurried Millie Drake and Kit-10 into the DiTraS and activated the ship’s engines. With a gasping moaning noise, we dematerialised from the interior of the asteroid.

In the DiTraS control room, I guided us to a safe distance in near by Space, and activated a monitor to let us view the planet Earth. We saw a flash of light as the asteroid entered the atmosphere and caught fire -- followed by a tremendous shaking of the planetary sphere as it slammed into the world’s surface.

“A blaze of glory, indeed,” said I.

“But won’t it still do horrible things to life on Earth?” enquired the lass.

“Yes, it will indeed,” I concurred. “Its impact will send dirt into the upper atmosphere, blocking out sunlight and causing a long period of cold that will change the entire seasonal cycle of the planet. In other words -- it will do exactly what it always did!”

“What do you mean?”

“Think, Millie,” I counselled. “Sixty-five million years ago. What does that bring to mind? Something you learned of at school, hmmm?”

“Well, at the Academy, we learned about…”

“No, not at Daemonia Academy. I mean at regular old elementary school on Earth, before you knew that you were an Algolite.”

“Oh, of course!” realised the girl. “The dinosaurs! That’s when they went extinct!”

“Exactly, love,” I praised, “and that was the asteroid that caused it. You see, I realised that we could use the doomsday plan the Replicants had devised and turn it against them. In stead of destroying mankind, it wiped out the dominant saurians of the prehistoric ages, therefore allowing mammals to flourish and evolve into that very same human race!”

“That’s wonderful!” smiled the lovely lass. “But wait… Didn’t the Replicant Controller get away?”

“Unfortunately, yes, so we will be hearing from them again. We must be certain to be ready for them next time.”

“I love you so much, Daniel,” proclaimed the gorgeous Millie Drake as she threw her arms around me.

“I love you too, Mills, my little Daemon-Starlet,” I told her. “I always have, and I always will.”

As the girl and I embraced, we noticed a small whimpering noise coming from the floor. It was our catlike robot friend.

“Awww!” exclaimed Millie. “I think she’s feeling kind of left out.”

“Worry not, Kit-10,” I stated. “We both love you as well. Right, Millie?”

“Of course,” giggled Millie Drake. “Everybody loves Kit-10!”

And with this, the mechanical feline began a sound not unlike a contented purring, and I turned to programme the flight sequence of the DiTraS as we travelled on to new adventures.

***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “THE BRAIN OF SARTORIUS”