Owly screamed in pain as he hit the brick wall. I immediately reached out and grabbed him again by the throat, yanking him back and threatening to again bash him against the unyielding pavement of that dark Baltimore city alleyway.
“One more chance, scum,” I warned him. “Tell me the name of the organisation you work for or I swear by the Stellar Trinity you shall die in extreme pain.”
“No!” he screeched. “No! I can’t tell you that! I can’t! They’ll kill me!”
The man known as “Owly” -- so nicknamed due to the wide, staring eyes of his pale, pockmarked face -- was thin and about forty years of age. He was clad in a black t-shirt, ripped blue jeans, and sneakers. I had already lifted the small handgun he had concealed in his waistband and deposited it in a near by sewer grating.
I was of course dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, panama hat, and one of my favourite opera capes. That very night I had tracked Owly, a local street hustler and pimp, to his usual neighbourhood hangouts in the city’s red-light district known as “The Block”. Owly was himself unimportant, but word on the street was that he had over the last few months become a contact for a much larger group, a criminal syndicate that intended to control all vice in the city of Baltimore. More so, it was an organisation that was also said to have a shadowy connection to the area’s infamous occult underground and to be empowered to conjure certain extraterrestrial forces as protection.
“It is either them or me, filth,” I informed Owly. “I guarantee that if you do not give me their name, then your death will be agonising beyond belief.”
With this, I cast him down hard to the pavement. He gasped and shuddered until he got his breath back enough to speak.
“They have powers,” he groaned. “Powers to call up… things. Terrible things.”
“And you think that I do not?” I rejoined, again lifting him up and throwing him back down. “I am growing quite impatient with you, scum. Tell me their name, now!”
I then kicked him hard in the stomach. By now blood was flowing profusely from his nose and mouth, and his voice was growing weak. He was obviously suffering from numerous ruptured internal organs as a result of my efforts as well as from his years of drug use, and I knew he was not long for this world. Knowing I needed to get the information from him forthwith, I bent down to listen closely to his answer.
“Okay…” he murmured. “Okay… I’ll tell you…”
He then paused, obviously attempting to overcome the fear inside him; the fear of the obscene criminal society to which he had sworn loyalty.
“Well?” I said, lifting him up again and looking straight into his grotesquely wide eyes. “What is their name?”
“FKR,” he gasped. “They’re called FKR… eff-kay-arr…”
“Your use to me is now ended, you ungodly filth,” I informed him.
“No!” he screamed, seeing my intention. “You promised! You promised if I told you that you would let me live!”
“I made no such promise, Owly,” I answered him. “I simply said you would not suffer much pain.”
Then, with a lightning-fast karate chop to his Adam’s apple, I mercifully ended his life.
I left Owly’s corpse in a rarely emptied garbage dumpster there in the alley. As I left the area, I briefly mused as to how many rats would feed from it before the remains were taken to the incinerator, unnoticed, with the rest of the trash. …
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!!! …
Returning from my questioning of Owly, I parked my canary-yellow Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) in the garage beneath the downtown Baltimore skyscraper in which is my headquarters. I took the lift to the official top floor of the building, then triggered the hidden switch on the wall that opens the door to the small spiral stairway leading to the secret suite of rooms hidden within the structure’s golden trapezoidal roof.
I entered the main room of headquarters, a chamber filled with computer equipment along with numerous alien artefacts that I have collected in my long and storied career. Seated behind a near by table, idly thumbing through a pop-music magazine, was a beautiful teenage girl with luxurious chestnut-coloured hair, lovely violet eyes, sun-kissed skin, and luscious red lips. She wore a tight, short, royal blue dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her enticingly petite-and-perfect young figure.
“Hi, Daniel,” she smiled, looking up from her magazine. “Did you get the information?”
“Indeed I did, Millie,” I informed her. “It took a bit of persuading, but fortunately I was up to the task.”
“I bet you were,” giggled the girl, Millie Drake, she who is my assistant and indeed so much more. “So, what are they called?”
“They are known as FKR. I have heard whispers of that name before, but the connection was not made until now.”
“‘FKR’?” repeated the lass. “Does that stand for something?”
“Not actually,” I responded. “It is supposed to appear to be an abbreviation for some German title or some such, but in reality it is just used as a vaguely-obscene cover moniker.”
“So what do we know about them?”
“We now know from Owly’s activities that they are interested in taking over all prostitution, illegal pornography, and related vice crimes in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. That would be bad enough, hmmm? Nevertheless, what really concerns us is FKR’s alleged connections to the occult underground. That would explain why they are interested in Baltimore. As you know, the area is built over the ruins of a certain outpost of the lost city of Atlantis, and the energies lingering here from the ancient Atlantean technologies are an aid to the conjuring of certain alien forces.”
I then looked over to Kit-10, our mobile personal computer that resembles nothing more or less than a small mechanical cat. As usual when we are not out and about on assignment, she was resting near by the computer banks.
“Kit-10,” I said, “please access the main computer system and extract all data on the criminal syndicate known as FKR, along with all pertinent connected information.”
“Of course, s--,” replied the robotic feline in her simulated but pleasantly-feminine voice. “Accessing information now.”
(It should be noted here that Kit-10, amongst her other catlike characteristics, is possessed of the total inability to openly show respect to anyone, the closest she ever comes to it being her tendency to address me by a slight “s--” sound -- for “sir” -- and Millie by “m--” -- for “ma’am”.)
“Just condense the data, Kit-10,” I told her. “We only need to know some facts concerning the group’s origins and actual purpose.”
“The criminal syndicate known as FKR,” said the computerised kitten, “has its origins in several occult societies that once flourished in northern Europe. They are also rumoured to have ties with white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies.”
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Millie Drake. “Nazis!”
“FKR is also said to be especially dedicated to the ancient Germanic god known as Loghe,” continued Kit-10. “The syndicate leader is said to have certain superhuman powers due to being partially possessed by this pagan deity.”
“Loghe?” said I. “That is an heathen god of fire that was remembered in the Norse mythologies as Loki, the god of evil.”
“But does it really even exist, Daniel?” queried Millie.
“After a fashion, love,” I explained. “You see, Loghe was one of the ruling class of the Wotan Star System, and they did indeed come to Earth and visit the northern part of the European Continent at one time, very long ago. Loghe’s older brother, Torr, was leader of the expedition, and there was apparently some sibling rivalry between them. The other Wotanians left Earth, but Loghe stayed behind to continue their research into certain seasonal changes. He is said to have been able to warm the atmosphere and trigger an early thaw, hence his being remembered as a ‘fire god’, hmmm?”
“So what happened to him?”
“Eventually, Loghe, without the other Wotanians to supervise him, became rather a dictator. He enslaved the Nordic people for several generations. In time, his influence faded as his physical form decayed, but he is said to have never really died. The Wotanians, like most advanced Space-faring races, have a strong psyche-mentalist presence.”
“So do you think these FKR people will be trying to revive him?” shuddered the lass.
“It seems likely that that is their purpose,” I pondered. “The sexual energies of the vice crimes are probably being stored for utilisation in a conjuring of Loghe. Kit-10, do we have information on the current leadership of FKR?”
“We do, s--,” returned the robot. “It is unverified but there are photographs available.”
“Put them up on the main view screen.”
A photo then appeared on the monitor. It showed a decidedly ugly, bald-headed man who yet seemed to have a certain intelligence in his hard unyielding gaze.
“This man is known as Goring,” announced Kit-10. “He is said to be the current leader of the FKR syndicate, with a long criminal history in sex trafficking, distribution of illegal pornographic material -- for the which he operates the ‘dark web’ internet sites known as LayPal and NetFux -- and related vice offences. He has made himself immune to prosecution by payoffs, blackmail, and intimidation.”
The picture then changed to one of what appeared to be a very large, dark-haired man, his face one of utterly cruel brutality.
“This one is called Maximilian,” continued the robotic puss. “He is rumoured to be the organisation’s top-level security officer and enforcer, personally responsible for the deaths of over two dozen men.”
As the photo then faded from the screen, I thought deeply on the information received, and about what steps needed to be taken.
“We need to get on this right away,” I said. “There are a few places around town where I can ask if anyone has seen these two individuals. If they are indeed here, they would have had to do business in certain sectors.”
“Can I come with you, Daniel?” pleaded Millie Drake. “I’d really like to help.”
“Of course, love,” I acquiesced, “but be careful and stay close to me, as this could be a quite dangerous mission. You had better tag along too, Kit-10. We could have need of you.”
“Of course, s--,” agreed the little robot.
“Come along then,” I said as I headed to the door. “It is almost sunrise, so we can stop for some breakfast before continuing our investigation, hmmm?” …
On that same eldritch night, in a secret location somewhere in the city, two men sat in a furnished office having a discussion -- forsooth a discussion that would be of extreme importance to my attempts to destroy the obscene criminal organisation for which they were the leading agents.
“I appears we have a new enemy,” said the first -- a short, bald headed man of decidedly ugly visage, yet obviously possessed of a keen intelligence. He sat behind a large wooden desk and was dressed in a rather outdated style of business-wear. His voice betrayed a German accent, and on his lapel was a pin on which was engraved the horrid symbol of the swastika. “We need to eliminate him. Your size and strength will come in handy, Maximilian.”
“Whatever you say, Goring,” replied the other, himself an hulking monster of a man, black-haired and cruel of countenance, clad in a dark polo shirt and slacks. His voice was like unto a sepulchral Teutonic growl.
“The one we serve has revealed the information to me,” announced Goring. “Our new enemy is the Algolite agent known as Doctor Daniel Rumanos. The one we serve will guide us to his location that he may be destroyed.”
“I look forward to choking the life from the meddler,” grinned Maximilian.
“He will be destroyed, and then nothing will stand in the way of FKR dominating the Baltimore underground,” said the man known as Goring, standing up in pride from behind his desk and glanced at an antique sword displayed on the wall behind it. “Then we can reveal our true purpose -- to perform the final conjuring that will bring back the power of Loghe himself, so that we can spread our influence and our control over the entire planet Earth!”
As he spoke, Goring’s eyes began to glow with a strange, otherworldly radiance -- a blood-red effulgence of obvious alien origin! …
The morning sunlight was somewhat obscured by a cloudy, low-hanging haze as I drove Millie and Kit-10 to a diner in the Inner Harbour area and found a parking space for Lizzie in the lot just outside of it. We left Kit-10 in the car and entered the restaurant.
We then ordered breakfast. Millie had the blueberry pancakes, whilst I enjoyed the Belgian waffles along with side orders of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon and hashed brown potatoes. We both drank orange juice and shared a large pot of highly-caffeinated coffee.
“This is so nice, Daniel,” smiled the girl. “The food is good here.”
“Quite so, Mills,” I agreed. “One thing these all-American diners know how to do well is a big full breakfast, hmmm?” …
Outside, a black automobile of late-model German manufacture entered the parking lot. Its windows were darkened and its occupants were unseen until they emerged from the vehicle. The driver was the hulking Maximilian, and with him was Goring, that leader of the FKR syndicate himself.
As the two men went into the restaurant, they did not notice Kit-10’s catlike head turn slightly from her vantage point in Lizzie. …
I had just paid the bill for our meal and was leaving a generous gratuity for the waitress. Millie had gone to the ladies’ room and I settled back in my seat to await her return.
Then suddenly he was upon me. A man grabbed me by my collar and lifted me up from the seat, quickly throwing me to the floor before I could even react. I looked up to see the giant looming over me, and recognised him as Maximilian, the notorious FKR enforcer.
“Hi there, Algolite,” he sneered with a sadistic gleam in his eyes. “The one we served helped us to track you down, and I have orders to break you.”
I have often pondered how the seeming need to boast whilst one should be fighting is an oft-encountered failing of such types as this. When he was delivering the final word of his announcement, I delivered a kung fu kick to his groin, causing him to retreat a couple of steps and to bellow in pain.
He recovered very quickly, and lurched to-wards me in anger. Fortunately by then I had regained my feet, and I swerved to the side, executing a quick wrestling move to send him over my shoulder. He crashed into a near by table that was fortunately not in use.
Maximilian again recovered with amazing speed, and ran directly at me with his huge hands outstretched.
By now Millie Drake had emerged from the powder room, and she screamed in horror when she saw what was happening. The other patrons of the restaurant had scattered and stood off to the sides in fear and confusion. No one was then in the way when Goring suddenly picked Millie up and threw the petite lass over his shoulder.
Maximilian had managed to grab at my throat, and only my thumb to his left eye had prevented him from choking me. We now stood grappling, my strength against his. From across the diner I could see Goring attempting to abduct the furiously struggling girl.
Kit-10 then entered the establishment and, seeing my predicament first, began to move over to-wards where my fight with the huge Maximilian was occurring.
“Kit-10!” I called to her. “Help Millie!”
This distraction was just enough for my opponent to gain an advantage, and he delivered a fist to my face that sent me flying to the back of the diner. I landed on the floor just short of the plate glass window overlooking the harbour.
Kit-10 had turned to pursue Goring as he abducted Millie Drake. The poor wee lass had by now fainted away from fright as the villain exited the front door of the diner with the robotic cat in pursuit.
Outside, Goring hurried to his car whilst carrying the now-unconscious girl. Kit-10 emerged from the restaurant and fired a blast of her nose-laser at him. Of course, she was careful to not hit Millie, and this necessary precaution caused her to miss striking Goring, the laser ray hitting the pavement just below his feet. Before Kit-10 could again fire, Goring tossed the girl into the automobile and took the driver’s seat, slamming shut the door and immediately starting up the car and turning it to exit the lot.
As the vehicle zoomed away, Kit-10 fired another laser shot at the car. It seemed to strike underneath, but did nothing to stop the automobile from racing away at top speed into the city, soon losing itself amongst the traffic.
Millie Drake had been kidnapped!! …
I was prepared when Maximilian leaped over the table on top of me. I had my foot ready and kicked him hard to the chin as I slid out from underneath him. Then, before he could recover, I reached down and heaved up his huge bulk, propelling it through the plate glass window. He smashed through the windowpane with a resounding noise of shattering glass. His form then hurtled through the air and soon fell with a gigantic splash into the harbour. I do not know if the man had been rendered unconscious by my efforts, or if he just could not swim, but he soon sank under the water to his death in the deeps.
“Maxed out,” said I.
I then ran out into the parking lot and hurried over to Kit-10, quickly sizing up the situation.
“Did you get the license number of their car?” I enquired of her.
“Of course, s--,” responded the mechanical kitty, “but I have already checked it according to all available records and it appears to be fraudulent.”
“By the Eternal Spires!” I swore in disgust. “It would be. We need to find a way to track down that vehicle and save Millie.”
“My laser did manage to do some damage to the automobile’s underside,” announced the little robot. “The vehicle should now be leaking motor oil.”
I peered out across the parking lot to the street. There was indeed what appeared to be a broken line of oil stretching away into town.
“Excellent work, my dear friend!” I told Kit-10. “Now, we must hurry!”
The robot cat and I then boarded Lizzie and sped away, following the line of leaked motor oil through the winding streets of Baltimore City. …
Having soon arrived at the secret lair of FKR, Goring had deposited the still-swooning Millie Drake on his desk, quickly tying up the girl’s wrists and ankles with shipping cord. He then took the ancient sword from the wall and stood over her.
“A shame,” said Goring as he gazed at the beautiful young girl. “You would fetch quite a price on the street market. But the one we serve, the mighty god Loghe, will have you as a blood sacrifice in stead. That will enable his power to become completely manifest, that I may use it to rule this world!”
With this, the evil Goring raised the sword up and pointed its cruel blade directly to-wards the helpless girl, whilst chanting an horrid heathen prayer in an archaic proto-Germanic tongue.
As he proceeded with this the room around him began to be filled with a blood-red radiance -- this denoting the presence and growing power of the terrible alien god! …
I parked Lizzie out front of the small office complex to which the trail of motor oil had led. The black car was parked just outside of an unmarked but obviously occupied suite. I pondered that Goring must be planning some incredible show of power in order to not hide his whereabouts any better than this.
I hurried to the entrance with Kit-10 close behind me. The lock yielded quickly to my escapology skills and we entered the building. There was no one in the outer room, but I heard the sound of a low chanting coming from the adjoining chamber. It then became obvious to me what was occurring.
Then, just as I was about to rush into that room in my attempt to save Millie Drake from an unknown but obviously horrible fate, I suddenly found myself blasted off my feet by a wave of heat -- forsooth a surge of rushing fire of not completely physical origin.
“It is the power of Loghe,” I muttered as the blood-red psychic flame enveloped me. “The fire god is being summoned!”
Whilst the searing paranormal heat continued to surround me, I felt my consciousness beginning to slip away.
Do you see the complete and total terror, in truth the utter and absolute horror of this situation, my dear readers? Miss Millie Drake, my assistant and my love, was about to be sacrificed to the alien deity known as Loghe -- in an attempt by the international felon known as Goring to gain superhuman abilities that he could then use to create the greatest criminal empire of all time -- and I was being prevented from stopping this mad outrage by the extraterrestrial power of the supposed god; an immensely heated psychic fire that even now was surrounding me and causing me to lose conscious awareness!
“You must retain consciousness, s--,” said Kit-10, who had retreated slightly so the fire would not overheat her circuitry. “The force of the fire does have a degree of heat, but it is manifest by way of a mentalist projection, not a physical reality.”
The sound of my robotic friend’s voice was just enough for me to focus on, enough for me to use to break through the heat and flame and to force myself into the office chamber. I entered just in time to see Goring with the horrible ancient sword poised over the frail, helpless figure of Millie Drake. The girl had recovered from her faint and now screamed in absolute mortal terror at realisation of the peril she was experiencing.
The robotic cat had now entered the room and stood beside me.
“Kit-10!” I called to her. “The sword!”
The computerised feline aimed a blast of her laser and hit the horrid weapon, sending it flying through the air, out and away from Goring’s grasp. Whilst this was happening, I vaulted over the desk and then gave him three hard punches to the gut, nose, and jaw. He stumbled backwards and collided into the red flame that was still surrounding the chamber.
I heard Goring shriek in pain and outrage as the psychic fire covered him.
“No, Loghe, no!” he bellowed. “I am your servant! I am… !”
It was then that Goring, that horrible criminal, international pimp, and top syndicate crime boss, died in agony. His charred remains fell to the floor as the flames then faded away to nothing. Within seconds, it was as if he had never existed.
I turned and quickly released Millie Drake from her bonds, then taking the trembling little lass into my embrace.
“All is now well, my love,” I assured her. “Goring has failed in his service to Loghe, and the alien god has claimed the right of revenge.”
“Oh Daniel,” sobbed the girl in relief. “I’m so glad you made it! I was so afraid, but knew you would be here!”
“Always, my dear little Mills. Fortunately, I had Kit-10 to help me track down where you had been taken -- and to help me get through that psychic flame!”
“Thank you too, Kit-10,” added Millie.
“Of course, m--,” returned the metallic pussycat.
From outside we now heard the sound of approaching sirens.
“Sounds like the Baltimore Police Department has arrived, hmmm?” I said. “They will have traced us from the diner via the city’s security cameras, and will no doubt have quite a few questions about what has been going on. I shall talk to our old friend, Captain Hurley, and explain matters. I am sure they will then be quite relieved to hear that the horrible vice crime syndicate known as FKR has now been broken."
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “THE NEPTUNIAN CONNECTION”