The man’s black-gloved hands moved deftly over the control dials. Clad in a one-piece bodysuit of ebon hue, he stood before the machine there in that darkened chamber lit only by the equipment readouts and several view-screens amongst the room’s various mechanisms and metallic cabinets containing electronic equipment.
He peered at the images upon the monitors. One was of a creature that seemed to be a mass of sallow tentacles intertwined with metallic enhancements. Another was of an huge apelike monstrosity, whilst a third showed two tall, silver men with expressionless, mask-like faces.
Nevertheless, it was what could be seen on a fourth screen that received most of the man’s attention. It was a slim, human figure, blurred and indistinct as if seen through a lens to the far past. Concentrating upon this form, the man manipulated the dials. In a few seconds, the figure vanished from the monitor screen.
Behind the man there was then a glow as of a bright orange and blue radiance. It only lasted a moment, and was accompanied by a sound like a far-off trumpeting. When the light faded, a new figure had appeared in the chamber: a slender, youthful figure that could be seen to tremble slightly from the affects of the machine.
It was a girl, full-breasted and teenage, a tall brunette with luminous blue-green eyes and a wide, sensuous mouth. She was wearing a pink halter-top and a blue miniskirt.
“Daddy?” she said, “Where am I? Daddy, is that you?”
With this, the man turned around to face her. He appeared to be of middle years, his face still showing signs of handsome distinction despite bearing the marks of lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness. His hair was long and dark, and his visage was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with an absolute hypnotic glare.
“Yes, Stacy, it is I,” returned Don Wingus, his voice a tone of command mixed with utter madness. “I have brought you here, my child, to witness my ascension to the office of supreme overlord of the Universe, and to aid in the destruction of our most hated enemy -- Daniel Rumanos!!”
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 "The Girl From Beyond" 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 a dimly-lit corridor, a strange gasping moaning sound was heard as an object materialised into view. It appeared to be a Greco-Roman “Ionic column”, but was actually much more. This was the DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress’” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere) one of those incredibly-advanced combination Spaceship/Time-machines only available to that mysterious race of beings known as the Watchers of Algol.
A porthole type of opening appeared in the DiTraS and three figures emerged from it. The first was me, Doctor Daniel Rumanos, clad as I was in my usual finery (including a ruffled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, panama hat, and one of my favourite opera capes). The second was Millie Drake, a beautiful young girl with luxurious chestnut hair, lovely violet eyes, sun-kissed skin, and luscious pink lips. She was wearing a tight, short, cherry-red dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender adolescent figure. The third was our mobile personal computer, known as Kit-10, who resembles nothing more or less than a small robotic cat.
“So what was it the DiTraS detected here again?” enquired Millie as we looked around the darksome corridor.
“I am not certain, love,” said I. “It seemed to be traces of Algolitish technology, but there was something odd about it. Something bizarre and elusive. What it could be doing here, in a barely-functioning and seemingly-abandoned Space-platform between galaxies, is rather troubling to contemplate.”
I took the transonic turnscrew, an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a large writing pen, from my jacket pocket, utilising it to scan the area as we walked along the eldritch corridor.
“The transonic is not showing anything,” I announced, returning the device to my pocket. “What about your sensors, Kit-10?”
“Negative, s--,” replied the little robot in her pleasantly-feminine voice. “There is definitely technology present, but no positive identification markers can be perceived.”
(It should be noted here that amongst Kit-10’s other catlike characteristics is her total inability to openly show respect to anyone. The closest she ever comes to it is by addressing me by a slight “s--” sound, for “sir”, and Millie by “m--”, for “ma’am”.)
“Do you think it could be another DiTraS?” queried Millie Drake. “Remember that Don Wingus escaped the last time we encountered him.”
“Yes, I am keeping that in mind, love,” I assured her. “However, he would surely have safeguards in place to mask the presence of his DiTraS. In any event, the technology our ship detected has to be something else, and, judging by the looks of this place -- something very old.”
The corridor was illuminated only by a series of blue lights along the wall near the floor, likely marking the entrances to a series of service ducts.
“But what could this place ever have been used for?” asked the lass. “I mean, if it really is an Algolite construction?”
“One shudders to think,” I admitted. “If this place is a relic of the dark times of our civilisation’s history, then there are several possibilities -- none of them at all pleasant.”
As if on cue, we then perceived something approaching us from far down the corridor. It was hovering about a metre from the floor and moving very fast. Millie grasped my arm in fear as the being approached.
“Daniel, is that really a… ?” gasped the girl.
It was about the size of an human torso, but that is where any resemblance to anything of sane creation ended. It was like unto a mass of sallow-hued tentacles intertwined with metallic materials, and at the very centre of the thing were two slits of ebon-black -- eyes that seemed to openly communicate the extreme fascist hate that was the obscene creature’s only emotion!
“You are enemies of the Mynver,” it announced in its harsh, distorted voice. “You must be eliminated!”
It was a Mynverkossian Mutation!!
I immediately threw my hat to-wards the thing, and it landed directly over the alien monstrosity’s eyes.
“Vision impaired! I cannot see!” screeched the Mynver. “Vision impaired! I cannot see!”
The Mutation then began randomly firing its crimson death-ray in all directions, as it continued to struggle in an attempt to free itself from my panama hat over its eyes. I moved in front of Millie to shelter her from being accidentally hit by the rays, and quickly took the transonic turnscrew from my pocket.
“Kit-10!” I called. “Concentrate your laser on the Mynverkossian’s middle, hmmm?”
I aimed the transonic at the horrid Mutation and activated it to a setting that was intended to overheat the thing’s metallic parts. At the same time, Kit-10 fired her nose-laser at the creature as I had instructed her. In a few moments, the Mynverkossian horror burst into flames and fell to the floor dead, the resultant movement freeing my hat and sending it spinning through the air. I reached out and grabbed it, then returning it to my head.
“Are you all right, Mills?” I enquired concernedly.
“Yes, I’m fine now,” answered the girl, although I could perceive that she was still trembling with fright. “Could the Mynverkossians be behind all of this?”
“I think not, love,” I said. “We saw them all destroyed, remember? I think that Mutation was brought here, abducted and forced through Time and Space. I believe that the technology the DiTraS detected is something that can do just that!”
“Wait, I know!” exclaimed the girl. “At Daemonia Academy we learned of something that existed during the dark times of early Algolite culture, a machine that could snatch beings from any point in Time and Space and then bring them to its location.”
“Yes, it was called the Time-stalker, and it was used to bring alien beings together for combat games during a very decadent time in our history. Eventually, the games were banned by the Absolute Convention and all the Time-stalking machines ordered destroyed.”
“But if one of them survived and someone is using it… ?”
“That could indeed explain things, love,” I agreed, “and as operatives of the Kosmikos it is our duty to find the machine and shut it down as soon as possible. In fact…”
“Danger approaching from behind!” interrupted Kit-10.
Millie and I looked back down the corridor to see what further horror we had to face. What was lurching to-wards us was like a monster out of legend. It was nearly eight feet tall and covered with coarse black hair, being like unto a missing link between ape and man.
“That…’” stammered Millie. “That looks like… Bigfoot!”
“It is Bigfoot, my love,” I told her. “Well, after a fashion. It is a robot of the type utilised by an extraterrestrial force known as The Intellect. If it has been Time-stalked here, it will be completely out of control!”
The apelike monster continued to bound in our direction, its bestial face and grunting growls showing that it indeed intended to kill.
“Millie,” I counselled, “when I say to run, you run!”
I pointed my transonic turnscrew to-wards the ceiling of the corridor and activated a certain setting. In a second, a sheet of metal detached itself from the ceiling and fell directly onto the robotic Bigfoot.
“Right, run!” I said, taking Millie by the hand and hurrying away, with Kit-10 close behind us.
As we ran down the corridor, we heard the monster howling in distress and indignation at the part of the ceiling that had fallen upon it. Eventually, the sound faded into the distance.
As we continued on, the corridor ultimately debouched into a large chamber that looked like a sports complex or gladiatorial arena.
“We were correct, love,” I said. “This is indeed one of the Space-platforms used for the games of the dark times! This is where alien races were forced to fight to the death for the amusement of the crowd!”
“But who is now operating the Time-stalker?” wondered the lass.
“I have a sneaking suspicion,” I rejoined, “but for now we have to contend with whatever other terror may suddenly appear.”
“Daniel, look!” screamed Millie, indicating the far side of the arena.
There now stood in that location what appeared to be two tall metallic men, their faces mask-like and expressionless. Of course, we recognised them immediately; we recognised them as members of that horrible race of cyborgs that we had fought before in hard-won battles that were indeed some of the most dangerous and perilous episodes of our career as agents of the Kosmikos.
“Oh no,” said I, “Leknii Replicants!”
The closer of the two cyborgs raised its arm and fired a potentially-lethal bolt of energy at me. It was only my superior Algolitish speed and reflexes that enabled me to dodge it, and the weapon blasted a groove in the part of the floor on which I had just been standing. I again moved over to shelter Millie from the attack.
Kit-10 fired beams of her nose-laser at the Replicants. They had little effect, only causing the cybernetic terrors to halt briefly as they began to stride to-wards us. Fortunately, however, the mechanical feline’s continued blasts at least kept them from being able to concentrate enough to again fire at us.
I hurriedly fetched the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and programmed it to the setting that emits a synthetic form of vlooj, the rare alien spice that is generally lethal to Leknii. I prayed that these Replicants were not from some earlier point in their history, before they had developed this allergy, or from a later period in which it had been overcome.
Kit-10’s laser was by now starting to weaken, and I aimed the transonic to-wards the nearest of the cyborgs, activating it at full-force.
The Replicant shuddered and then disintegrated into countless microscopic shards -- this being a pre-programmed response of theirs upon defeat, in order to prevent their technology from being cannibalised. In any event, the synthesised vlooj had been effective.
I then began to turn to-wards the other Leknii, but was not quick enough. It fired a bolt of its energy weapon that sent the transonic device from my hand to clatter several metres away upon the floor.
I heard Millie scream in horror at this predicament. Kit-10’s energy resources were now too low to utilise her laser anymore, and the transonic turnscrew was far out of reach. Forsooth, we were now seemingly defenceless as the remaining Leknii Replicant approached us!
Then something truly bizarre happened. We heard a growl of challenge from behind us and saw the cyborg halt as it beheld what had entered the arena. It was the Bigfoot, which by now had freed itself from the metal ceiling portion that had fallen upon it and had then proceeded to bound down the corridor in a rage.
The Replicant fired a bolt of energy at the robotic Bigfoot. This had little effect on the latter, only causing the thing to become still more intent on showing its dominance. It approached the Leknii and delivered a blow to its head with its massive fist!
“Millie!” I called to the girl. “You and Kit-10 return to the corridor! It is safer than here! I shall recover the transonic and join you presently!”
Millie obeyed and, along with the robotic cat, ran to the shelter of the corridor as the battle continued between the Leknii Replicant and the huge Bigfoot. The cyborg shot off another blast, missing its opponent completely to in stead hit the wall above the entrance to the passageway in which the girl and Kit-10 had just absconded. Terribly, this caused a fall of material from the wall that completely covered the entrance -- effectively separating me from my friends!
I looked back at the battling monsters. The Bigfoot had now gotten the Replicant in its grasp and seemed intent on squeezing the life out of it. The Leknii got off one last shot of its energy weapon, with its arm right up against the other creature’s chest, before it itself exploded into fragments.
The Bigfoot then shattered back, a gaping cavity in its midsection, then it fell motionless to the floor.
I ran over to the entrance to the corridor, which was now covered completely with debris. I knew that the Kit-10’s nose-laser could eventually cut through this, except that her energy reserves had to recently been weakened by firing at the Replicants.
“Millie! Kit-10!” I called to them. “Go back to the DiTraS and wait there. I will find another way back!”
“All right, Daniel,” replied Millie Drake. “I love you!”
“I love you too, Mills,” I affirmed.
“Come on, Kit-10,” I heard the girl’s voice.
“Of course, m--,” replied the mechanical pussycat as their voices receded into the distance.
I quickly retrieved the transonic and then immediately began a survey of the walls of the arena and, on the opposite side from which we had entered it, I found another passageway, this one smaller and leading down a short corridor. At the end of it, I entered a chamber in which was what I recognised as ancient Algolitish machinery.
“We were absolutely correct,” I said to myself. “The Time-stalker!”
It was then that I saw her. A young girl was standing at the other side of the control room. There was something oddly familiar about her.
“Hello, Doctor Rumanos,” she purred. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Of course,” said I in realisation. “Stacy Wingo -- the daughter of Don Wingus, who went by the name ‘Donald Wingo’ upon Earth. So he is indeed behind this outrage.”
I knew that Wingus had to have brought Miss Anastasia “Stacy” Wingo forward in time, because she had been dead for many years, murdered in an horrid satanic ritual of the Spectral Paranormal cult -- a ceremony intended to grant her father supreme power by using her as a sacrificial offering!
As the girl slinked to-wards me, I scanned her with the transonic turnscrew. I wanted to make certain that she was real, actually organic, because Wingus had at one time attempted to beguile me with a cybernetic duplicate of his late daughter, a duplicate created by utilising an enhanced form of the technology of the Leknii Replicants.
“By the Triple Star!” I swore, looking at the results of the scan, which showed the lass to be only a few weeks younger than she had been at the time of her death. “You are real enough, hmmm? This is no deception…”
“I want you,” said the teen temptress known to eternal whoredom as Stacy Wingo. “I want you so much.”
It could be said with some degree of truth that Stacy Wingo was not a great beauty, but there was nevertheless something intensely alluring and attractive about her. I thought of this as I stood across from her there in the control room next to the ancient Time-stalker technology.
It was then that Don Wingus entered the chamber.
“Oh bravo, Rumanos, bravo,” he mocked. “Nice to see you and my little cutie here together, you old satyr. I can now use this fact for blackmail purposes, if necessary.”
“So is that what all this was for, Wingus?” I retorted. “How cliché.”
“Oh hardly, Rumanos, hardly. This was all but a test; a trial run of my mastery of the Time-stalker technology -- a technology I shall now use to bring armies of extraterrestrial life-forms down through Time; armies that shall be under my command to use in my conquest of the entire Universe.”
“Daddy,” interrupted Stacy, “you won’t hurt Dr. Rumanos, will you? Please don’t hurt him, daddy. I love him!”
“Stop being ridiculous, Stacy,” replied Wingus. “You have served your purpose, and will be rewarded. I will now keep you with me in stead of sending you back to your death in that ritual chamber. As for Rumanos, he will be kept where he cannot interfere, and allowed no visitors. We have ways of extracting knowledge from him; knowledge I can utilise to further my plans.”
“Oh please, daddy, no!” begged the girl, grasping her evil father’s hand in supplication. “I would rather die than lose the Doctor!”
“Stacy, no!” I warned her. “Stay away from him, or he will… !”
“You little slut!“ bellowed Don Wingus as he viciously slapped his daughter’s face, sending her reeling to the floor. “How dare you disobey me!”
“Wingus, you fiend!” I said, springing to-wards him. “You ungodly fiend!”
None the less, before I could reach him, Don Wingus activated one of the dials on the Time-stalker control board. With a sound as of far-off trumpets, Miss Stacy Wingo then faded from view. I knew that she would have no conscious memory of what had occurred here. The helpless girl had gone back to that time, that time so long ago. In sooth, she had gone back to her scheduled doom!
I pulled Wingus away from the controls before he could do further harm. He struggled against me, but I managed to flip him up and over me, sending him hurling to the other side of the console. I jumped over it after him, only to find that he was no longer there. A brief search around the chamber yielded no evidence of his whereabouts. Had he escaped or found some place of concealment -- or had some other fate overcome him? There was no time to find out.
I then ran back to the control panel and manipulated the Time-stalker to find the DiTraS just after Millie and Kit-10 had gone aboard, about twenty minutes earlier. I then turned the dial and, with the same noise as of a distant trumpeting, my ship appeared beside me in the chamber.
I pointed my transonic turnscrew at the centre of the Time-stalker machinery, programming it to overload. There was a small explosion at the control board, and soon flames began to develop around the room.
The porthole appeared in the DiTraS and I passed through it. Then, with its odd moaning gasping sound, the ship dematerialised just as the control room erupted into a fiery conflagration.
Little did I know that, as soon as my ship had vanished, Don Wingus appeared from behind the machinery where he had been hiding, quickly escaping from the flames by passing through a porthole that opened in the side of a part of it -- a portion of the control room equipment resembling a tall metal cabinet that was in fact his own disguised DiTraS! Then, with the same sound of an Algolitish Time/Space engine, his ship also dematerialised into the void. …
I was in the inter-dimensional café-like control room of my DiTraS, together with Millie Drake and Kit-10, as we watched the monitor-screen, viewing Space-platform that had housed the horrid Time-stalker explode into worthless fragments there in the depths of intergalactic Space.
“Well, that is the end of that, hmmm?” said I. “I am not certain what happened to Don Wingus, however. He had been on the platform long enough to know any possible hiding-places, and may have escaped!”
“I’m just glad you’re all right, Daniel,” announced Millie, the dear little lass hugging me tightly. “Say, did Wingus bring anything else through the Time-stalker against you before you could stop him?”
“Oh, nothing I could not handle, love,” I assured her as I returned her hug and then turned to set the DiTraS coordinates for our next destination. “Nothing I could not handle.”
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN "LITTLE GAMES"