The man ran down the city street in haste, glancing behind him to ascertain if he were being pursued. For now, he saw no one.
He was tall and blue-skinned, as is the appearance of most inhabitants of the planet Uranus. He wore a business suit not much different from the type found on many worlds. Around him the floating capital city of his world was quiet, and far above several of its moons were visible in the night sky.
Suddenly, a beam of light hit near the man’s feet, barely missing him. Realising he had indeed been detected, he quickly altered his course, ducking down an alleyway.
“Run all you want, you miserable traitor!” called a rough voice from behind him. “You can’t escape The Corporation!”
The alley the man was running through soon debouched into a main thoroughfare. Seeing a metal post-box on the street corner, he took a large envelope from his jacket and deposited it therein, then continuing his fleeing in a different direction.
When his pursuers -- three men in dark clothing all carrying blaster-pistols -- emerged from the alleyway, they saw him running across the street. They spread out and hurried to ambush him from all sides, and he soon found himself surrounded.
The man stopped and stood still, resolving himself to his fate as the others approached with their guns aimed directly at him.
“This is it, traitor,” said the first of his pursuers. “The Corporation has ordered your execution.”
“It does not matter now,” said the man. “What your wretched Corporation is doing to our planet will be exposed, and your degradation of Uranus will be avenged.”
“Not going to happen,” replied the other with a smirk. “We have protection. The Corporation has something that will assure our dominance over this planet. The government will bow before us, and the people will tremble in fearful obedience when they see what we have. Kill him!”
And with this, all three of the pursuers activated their blaster guns, and the man only let out a brief shout of pain before the energy beams completely obliterated him. …
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!!! …
It was to a shimmering area on the outer reaches of the Space/Time Current that I had been summoned, having first heard the far-off trumpeting sound that signified the calling of a secret meeting between Agents of the Kosmikos, that espionage organisation of my people, the Watchers of Algol. I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, panama hat, and one of my favourite opera capes.
A moment later, a rather elderly gentleman with grey hair and lean aesthetic features suddenly appeared before me. He was wearing a silver coverall garment on his thin but commanding frame.
“Greetings, Master Emmos,” said I, recognising him as our Chief Operative.
“Greetings, Master Rumanos,” he replied. “I trust you are well.”
“Quite so, sir,” I replied. “I pray you are the same.”
“I am well. The Kosmikos has received intelligence concerning certain occurrences on the planet Uranus. There is a group known as ‘The Corporation’. It conceals itself as a business conglomerate, but its leadership has plans to incite a violent overthrow of the planet’s government and then to establish a dictatorship. An envelope containing documents exposing this plot was mailed to the Uranian Chancellor. It is believed that the Corporation employee who sent the information was then murdered.”
“Understood,” I said whilst pondering this information. “Could not the agencies of Uranus deal with the problem?”
“Not directly," replied Emmos. “There are certain political controversies involved, and the Chancellor needed to make sure that the operation was not revealed to the public. It is feared that a subculture of radical sympathisers to The Corporation could aid them in violent acts of sedition. That is why we are now involved in the case. We now need you to find out exactly what we are dealing with so the Uranians can take appropriate action before the situation escalates. You will be transported to the capital city of Uranus immediately after this meeting.”
“Will my trainee operative be assisting in this assignment?”
“You will find Mistress Drake nearby,” he assured me. “I trust you will be prepared to brief her quickly concerning the antecedents of this Uranus mission.”
“Of course,” said I. “I assure you I am quite adept at both briefing and debriefing her.”
“This is no time for levity, Rumanos,” admonished Emmos with a disapprovingly raised eyebrow at my perceived ribaldry. “Be sure you realise that this operation is imperative. Notwithstanding its own significance, it may have links to other matters of extreme importance.”
With this, Master Emmos vanished and I soon found myself standing on a city street corner. I looked around and beheld that the writing on the signs was of the Uranian language, and knew that I had indeed been immediately transported to the planet in question. Above me the Sun shone, much more dimly than it does upon the planet Earth, yet still brilliantly in the blue-green sky.
I realised I was in a sort of alleyway, and then immediately began walking to-wards the far end of it, from which I could hear traffic noises signifying it to be a more active thoroughfare. I hoped that it was indeed the correct direction where I would meet Millie Drake and fill her in concerning the details of our mission.
Suddenly, a beam of light hit the wall next to me. I recognised it as the flash of a blaster gun and it had missed me by mere millimetres. Someone was trying to kill me!
I ran quickly down the alley and turned the corner just as another blast hit near my feet. It was indeed a main street of the Uranian capital city, quite busy with automobiles and blue-skinned Uranian pedestrians. Buildings towered on both sides, the tallest of which was a skyscraper topped by a large radio antenna. On the building was a neon-type sign declaring it to be the central offices of The Corporation.
Several metres down the sidewalk I beheld Millie Drake. I knew that she would be considered a target just as I was.
“Millie!” I shouted as I ran to-wards her. “Look out!”
The girl is exceedingly beautiful, petite and perfect with chestnut-coloured hair, lovely violet eyes, sun-kissed skin, and a wide sensuous mouth with luscious cherry-red lips. The tight, short, hot pink dress she wore only served to highlight the elegantly-soft curves of her enticingly-slender and definitely very young figure.
I was very pleased to see that Millie had not been brought here alone. With her was Kit-10, our mobile personal computer that resembles nothing more or less than a small mechanical cat.
I grabbed the girl and shielded her from being caught in the blaster fire. I then quickly glanced back and saw my attackers. There were three of them, all of them being Uranian men in dark suits.
“Kit-10!” I called out. “Stun them!”
Before the men could again fire, the robotic feline went into action, hitting them with the beam from her nose-laser. Two of them quickly fell down unconscious, but the third then retreated, though Kit-10 did manage to hit his blaster-gun and send it flying from his hand. He quickly turned and ran around the corner, shouting behind him as he did.
“You cannot win, Kosmikos Agent!” he said as he disappeared back into the alleyway. “The Corporation has something prepared for you! Something big!!”
“Thank you, Kit-10,” I approved. “Good shooting as always. They should be out for awhile, hmmm?”
“Of course, s--,” replied the computerised puss in her simulated yet pleasantly-feminine voice.
(It should be noted here that, along with her other catlike characteristics, Kit-10 is possessed of the 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 Drake by “m--” -- for “ma’am”.)
Millie was trembling in fear as I continued to hold her close.
“Daniel, what’s happening?” she cried. “Kit-10 says we are on the planet Uranus and that we were brought here by the Kosmikos, but that she wasn’t given any other information.”
I quickly informed the girl concerning the details of our mission, and of the intelligence the Kosmikos had received concerning the nefarious activities of The Corporation.
“So they murdered one of their employees for exposing them,” she said, “and now they’re trying to kill us?”
“Indeed so,” I replied. “They are completely dedicated to bringing about a dictatorship in which The Corporation will be unchallenged rulers of the planet.”
“But what could make them so crazy?” enquired the girl. “To go so far as that? It just doesn’t really make any sense.”
“Political extremists never do, but I suspect there is another factor involved here. Something from outside The Corporation’s immediate concerns that is helping them in their plans, though likely for reasons of its own.”
By now, we had walked over to the unconscious forms of the two men. I took the transonic turnscrew, an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen, from my pocket and set it to scan their biological systems.
“By the Triple Star!” I swore upon looking at the resultant readouts. “It is even worse than I feared! These men are under the influence of… “
“Danger approaching, s--,” warned Kit-10.
Millie saw the thing before I did. She saw it and screamed. I whirled around and looked. At first I saw nothing, for what was approaching was not a other mere danger on the city streets. It was in the sky. For at that moment, descending over the city was an horror unimaginable, a thing of nightmare and of utter irredeemable insanity, in sooth a being beyond anything seen in the darkest and most horrifying of nightmares.
It was like unto an amorphous blob, a sickly blue-green of hue, miles wide and covered all over with a sickly unwholesome mass of writhing tendrils. As we watched, for the moment transfixed in complete and absolute revulsion, the thing reached its disgusting feelers down to-wards the very streets of the capital city of Uranus. The people who were still on those streets then began to shriek and bellow in supreme and unmitigated terror as they beheld this horror, this hideous and unholy monstrosity, this complete and absolute madness.
“Millie,” I said whilst taking the girl’s hand, “run.”
Millie Drake and I hurried into one of the street’s other side alleys with Kit-10 close behind us.
“Just stay still back here, love,” I warned the girl. “I need to assess this situation carefully if we are going to find a solution.”
“Daniel, what is that thing?!” queried the frightened lass.
“It is what is known as a Uranusite or Elder Thing,” I informed her. “They were the original indigenous inhabitants of this planet, gigantic beings that ruled this world for aeons until their society irrupted into civil wars. The resultant conflicts were so extreme, as the giant monsters battled each other for supremacy, that they are what led to the orbital axis of Uranus being shifted sidewise as it is to this day. The wars led to the end of Uranusite civilisation, as such things so often do. Modern Uranians, as you have seen, are an humanoid race descended from Saturnian colonists. The Elder Things are now largely extinct, although a few of them are indeed rumoured to still exist near the core of the planet. They have lost their intellect and are now just mindless animals.”
“But why is it here now?”
“It is what the Corporation employee warned us about,” I explained. “You see, the Uranusites respond to certain radio frequencies, so The Corporation has used a signal to bring it here, both against us and as a show of power.”
“Of course!” exclaimed Millie. “That radio tower! They’re broadcasting something from there that brought it here!”
“Indeed,” said I.
“Is there a way to shut it down?”
“We will have to get closer. I may be able to utilise the transonic to…”
Then my words were interrupted by Millie Drake’s screams. The Elder Thing had lunged its tendrils under the city by using the sewer system, and now one of its horrid feelers had suddenly burst forth from and quickly wrapped itself around the girl’s waist and was now dragging her away from me to-wards the gutter! …
At that same time, in the building housing the business office headquarters of The Corporation, the Chief Executive Office of that particular body was engaged in a conversation from his office -- forsooth, a conversation with something that spoke to him from a video screen.
“Those agents of the Algolite Kosmikos are here as you said would happen,” said the blue-skinned Uranian CEO as he sat in his desk-chair clad in his finely-tailored business suit. “The Elder Thing has been sent to deal with them.”
The thing on the screen was like unto a crayfish just over a metre in length. It sat in a metallic chair and its horrid red eyes glared evilly as if to pierce directly through the monitor.
“Those meddling Daemonian spies!” spat the creature. “They have interfered with the business of our Five Families of Pluto in the past. The one called Rumanos is himself personally responsible for the assassinations of my own father and grandfather. We must not let them succeed in stopping our plans.”
“I am sure there is no need to be concerned, Capo Cuevas” replied the CEO, vainly attempting to reign in his nervousness. “I am certain the Elder Thing will be able to take care of them.”
“If the Uranusite does not stop them then our deal is ended,” announced the Plutonian. “Do you understand me? It is ended! We cannot have your incompetence leading to things like this. We have supplied you with the cadebium to aid in assuring the obedience of your employees, yet the information still leaked out!”
“That could not be helped. He was apparently immune to the effects of the drug. But we did manage to eliminate him before he could do any further damage, and…”
“I will not listen to excuses, Uranian! We made the deal with you to aid in your taking over your planet’s government, that in exchange our own activities in the system would go unbothered by the Uranian authorities. Shipments of cadebium have been coming to Uranus long enough that many members of the population, including your employees, should have been completely under its thrall. This would have assured the success of your planned insurrection. In stead, you have failed in aiding its distribution and now we see the outcome. This is the last chance you are getting. Destroy the Daemonian meddlers or we will leave you to face all alone the consequences of your sedition and terrorism against the government of your own planet!!” …
I aimed the transonic turnscrew at the tendril that was dragging Millie away. The setting slowed the thing down just slightly but did not stop it.
“Kit-10!” I called.
The little robot was already in position, and fired a blast of her nose-laser that hit the tendril, causing it to quickly let go of the girl and retreat into the sewer.
I ran to Millie Drake and she fell into my arms still shaking with horror.
“Oh my goodness!” sobbed the girl. “That was so horrible! Thank you for saving me, Daniel.”
“Always, my love,” I assured her.
“Thank you too, Kit-10,” added the lass.
“Of course, m--,” replied the mechanical cat.
“Now is there a way we can get to the radio antenna?” queried Millie.
“We can but try, love,” I answered. “The Uranusite seems to have been brought here mostly as a sign of dominance by The Corporation -- a ploy to bring fear. Fortunately, that tendril was only a small part of it. Neither the transonic nor Kit-10’s blaster would have much effect on a larger section of that monster. If we can get down the street to the Corporation Tower without being again detected by it, we might have a chance. Mills, hold on to my hand and stay close, and we shall see if we can go down the sidewalk without attracting the thing’s attention, hmmm? You keep close by, Kit-10.”
We indeed continued on the sidewalk after emerging from the alley, attempting all the while to stay in the shadows, hopefully away from the awareness of the horrible Uranusite --- that hideous Elder Thing that even now loomed gigantically in the planet‘s sky, with its terrible tendrils thrust under the city through every available orifice. We had just reached the building next to the tower belonging to the corporation when all hell suddenly broke loose.
With the sounds of concrete bursting, an huge horrid mass of the Elder Thing’s feelers quickly broke through the pavement directly beneath us. Before we could even react, Miss Millie Drake, Kit-10, and I found ourselves shoved upwards, propelled to-wards the sky amidst the grotesque conglomeration of alien tendrils!!
Do you perceive the most extreme and completely unadulterated terror, in sooth the most supreme and totally unmitigated horror of this situation, my dearest friends and indeed most loyal readers? The young girl, the robotic cat, and I were now being raised upwards by the horrible writhing tendrils of the Uranusite -- that supremely hideous Elder Thing that is feared and shuddered about in the absolute darkest and indeed most horrifying tales that are to be found in that planet’s ancient history; in truth, that giant monstrosity and creature of complete and all-encompassing fear and terror, the very existence of which seems to speak of the total screaming madness and utter unhallowed insanity that all-to-often seems to underlie -- like an unsanctified basis upon which more wholesome things were then constructed -- the very foundation of Creation itself!
We continued up and up, until we had almost reached the height of the roof of the skyscraper next to the one on which was the radio antenna. Little Millie Drake was screaming in absolute total fear as I desperately held onto her in my attempts to keep her safe.
“Millie,” I said to the girl, “hold on tight and when I say ‘jump’, you jump with me.”
“I will, Daniel,” replied the lass.
“Kit-10, stay with us. Now, Millie -- jump!”
We then suddenly propelled ourselves across the space between the tendrils and the top of the building, landing on the rooftop roughly but none the less safely.
“Are you all right, love?” I then enquired concernedly.
“Yes, I’m fine,” replied Millie Drake, still trembling but bravely controlling her fear.
“What about you, Kit-10?”
“Systems undamaged, s--,” responded the little robot.
For the moment the Elder Thing, its animalistic instincts confused, had again forgotten of our existence. I looked across to the building next to us, the Corporation skyscraper on which was the antenna. The gap between the buildings was just too far to attempt crossing.
“Daniel,” began Millie, “are we close enough to change the frequency like you said?”
“We should just barely be,” I answered as I fetched the transonic turnscrew from my jacket. “We can but try.”
I aimed the device directly to-wards the radio antennae and activated it. In a few moments, a slight alteration of tone could be detected in the slight current from the antenna.
“That should do it,” I pondered. “Just… now!”
Suddenly, the hideous Uranusite began to shudder and shake and to withdraw all of its feelers from the city streets.
“Millie! Kit-10!” I called. “We need to get down the fire escape!”
We ran quickly down to street level just as the Elder Thing wrapped all it tendrils around the building that housed the business offices of The Corporation. …
Inside the building, the Chief Executive Officer of The Corporation shrieked in fear as the room around him -- in truth the entire edifice -- began to violently quake. He had no time to even rise from his chair before the roof fell in on him and ended his life. …
As Millie, Kit-10, and I watched from the comparative safety of street-level, the Uranusite gripped the skyscraper in its horrible feelers, causing the structure to totally collapse into a pile of dust and rubble, on top of which were the warped and twisted remains of the radio antenna.
It was then that the Uranusite, that horrendous Elder Thing from the planet’s darkest times, moved away from the city and then, with a sudden flash of eldritch blue-green light, the monster disappeared over the horizon.
“It is going back to its home in the planet’s inner atmosphere,” I explained. “We must pray that it and its kind are never again called up to threaten the people of Uranus.”
“What did you do to it exactly?” asked Millie Drake.
“I used the transonic turnscrew to switch the polarisation of the radio transmission. In stead of calling the Uranusite, the signal became a challenge to fight, causing the thing’s animalistic instincts to make it reach out and destroy the source.”
“So The Corporation’s plans are finished,” said Millie. “Everything is okay now, isn’t it?”
“It is true that their evil plot to become dictators of this world is now stopped,” I rejoined, “but there is still another factor threatening this and other civilisations within the Solar System.”
“What do you mean, Daniel?” queried the girl.
“You see, when I scanned those unconscious employees of The Corporation, it showed that they were under the influence of cadebium, a very dangerous narcotic drug that is ingested by the user either through smoking it or eating it. Cadebium is both physically and psychologically addictive, and opens the user to easy domination by outside influences. It is exported to the outer planets by criminal elements headed by the Crime Syndicate of the dwarf planet Pluto.”
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed the lass. “So The Corporation were using this drug to make people follow them so they could take over Uranus?”
“Indeed so,” I affirmed. “I really need to have to have a talk with Master Emmos about taking the activities of the Plutonian gangsters under serious consideration for future surveillance and possible sabotage. As for now, we shall have to go and speak to the Uranian Chancellor. After he is informed as to the facts of the matter, I am certain the planetary government will be able to handle things here from now on. Then our mission on this planet will be complete.”
“What are we going to do then?” queried Millie Drake with a look in her beautiful eyes that I know so well.
“Then, my dear little Mills,” said I whilst pulling the giggling girl close to me, “we can signal the Kosmikos to return us to Earth -- where it is almost Valentine's Day, and I indeed have a quite necessary debriefing for you, hmmm?”
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “BALTIMORE VICE”