FROM SATURN WITH LOVE


***** A Weird Adventure from THE DANIEL RUMANOS CHRONICLES!!! *****


The light from the giant ringed planet Saturn glowed balefully through the high windows of the meeting room of the orbiting space station. Seated at the conference table were three individuals, two of which were natives of the planet that looked out over them. The first of these was the Director of Szmersszh, a government police organisation of the Saturnian Union. The other was his male secretary.

The word Szmersszh means something like “destruction of our enemies” and the group had served the socialistic state of Saturn for ages, dedicated to the elimination of any and all who would oppose the particular system of rule followed by the planet and its satellites. For the most part, Szmersszh had dealt with rebellious individuals among their own kind. The Saturnian Union, historically, had not practiced conquest of other planets, it being the belief of their ideology that the socialist system was the natural condition of all civilised beings, and that therefore all other peoples would come to their way of thinking eventually.

Recently, however, things had changed.

“You called this meeting, Capo Cuevas,” said the Director, his pale blue skin glistening with a hint of perspiration borne of an attempt to hide his nervousness, “but we have gathered through our own intelligence agents the same information with which it is concerned. Our plans for the invasion of the planet Earth, which were continuing in concord with your design, have been delayed.”

“Yes,” said the third being at the table. He was not a Saturnian, and unlike them was not at all what could be considered humanoid. He was basically a crustacean, rather like a large crayfish or distorted lobster of sickly greyish-green colouring. “Our instrument, the ‘Reverend O’Flaherty‘, who was one of those we have influenced to assist our designs by bringing chaos and blasphemy upon that planet, has been destroyed by the Algolite secret operative known as Daniel Rumanos.”

“So the Watchers of Algol are indeed aware of our intentions,” the Director interrupted. “This is troubling. Their power is immense and could be a serious detriment to our progress.”

“The Algolites will not directly interfere,” rejoined the Cuevas creature. “The principles of their Republic prevent them from doing so. This Rumanos is an agent of their secret service, an unofficial representative working surreptitiously to protect Earth. He must be halted.”

“We have quite a file on him already,” said the Director. “His meddling is constant and he seems to see himself as some sort of holy crusader, protecting his adopted planet even when the other Algolites do not fully approve of his actions. He has their approval at the moment, though. The Watchers feel they have reason to defend Earth, as its dominant religions are so influenced by their technology.”

The Cuevas spat in disgust. “All religious faith is our enemy! That is why I, Cuevas of Pluto, Capo of our world of darkness, have joined forces with the atheist government of the Saturnian Union to aid you in the conquest of the people of Earth!”

“And we appreciate your aid. For too long the SU has waited for Earth to put aside its beliefs and to totally embrace the ways of socialistic communism. But to return to point: our intelligence concerning Daniel Rumanos shows that he has one great weakness that we can exploit: his attraction to females. This attraction is in part, but not completely, of a sexual nature. It is a tradition known as ‘chivalry’ that he has apparently picked up from the Earthlings. He seems to feel protective towards young, attractive women.”

A hideous grin spread across the crustaceous face of the Cuevas. “Yes. We can use this against him very well -- to destroy him in a way which will embarrass and expose the Watchers of Algol.”

“We are already working on this,” replied the Director. “A young and very attractive woman of our Saturnian species has been chosen for this assignment. She is a cipher expert from my offices.”

“Excellent,” answered the sickening Plutonian. “This plan meets with my approval. Use the girl however you will to serve us. She must ruin Daniel Rumanos and thereby crush the influence of the Watchers of Algol. In fact, I’ll see to his final destruction personally!!”

*****

Emmos appeared soon after I had entered the swirling mists of the Space/Time Current, that amorphous area outside of normal reality, only fully accessible to my people, the mysterious Watchers of Algol.

“Greetings to you, Master Emmos,” said I.

“Greetings, Master Rumanos,” he replied. Emmos is my chief contact in the Daemonian CID (Celestial Intervention Department), that particular secret organisation within the Algolite government that deals with things with which the Watchers do not become officially involved. “We have received a communication from one of our operatives within the Saturnian Union.”

“Outstanding to hear,” I replied. “Any information on whom or what is influencing the Saturnians in their proposed plot to invade Earth?”

“Perhaps. Our operative has been contacted by a girl of the Saturnian people who works as a cipher expert for Szmersszh. She claims it is her wish to defect and says that she shall provide the information we seek only if we will assist her in absconding.”

“Interesting indeed, Emmos. Do you feel she can be trusted?”

“Considering the implication, we feel it behoves us to take the chance. However, the young woman had one very specific request concerning her defection.”

“And what would that be, then?”

“She requested,” Emmos told me, “in exchange for assuring her complete cooperation with our government, that she is to be accompanied and escorted to safety by you in particular.”

“Me? For what reason?”

“The girl has apparently seen images of you in the files of Saturnian intelligence reports, and has also read of some of your exploits. It seems that she has become quite… I believe the suitable word is ‘smitten’ with you.”

“Ha!” I could not help joking a tad at this bit of information. “From Saturn with love, eh?”

“This is no time for such levity, Rumanos,” answered Emmos in emotionless reproof. “The fate of planets is at stake.”

“So then,” I went on, “what is our plan?”

“You shall meet the girl at the platform of the Milky Way Express near the planet Jupiter,” stated Emmos. “You shall then guard her diligently while travelling to the resort areas of Galactic Centre. Our other agents will then contact you. The girl has promised to reveal all the information she has as soon as her protection and immunity at the Algolite Embassy there is assured.”

“All right,” said I. “Understood.”

“Be cautious and watchful, Rumanos. There is always the risk of subterfuge, whether or not the girl is to be trusted. Others within Szmersszh may have spied upon her communication with our agent. Also, our not yet knowing the type or extent of power available to whatever outside force is influencing the Saturnians adds an element of uncategorised danger.”

“I will certainly keep that in mind. By the way, what is the girl’s name?”

“She is called Nesztosszya.”

*****

The Milky Way Express is a space-train running from the outer edge of the spiral arm of the galaxy to the Galactic Centre resort areas. It is managed and maintained by a consortium of planetary systems that are served by it for both business and recreational purposes. I was to meet the girl Nesztosszya at Jupiter Station; that planet’s environs, due to its neutral position, being one of the few territories in the solar system where a Saturnian citizen would be allowed to go by their repressive socialist government. The girl was supposedly there to pick up some information discs that Szmersszh had received intelligence concerning, and which allegedly contained some secret codes of other planetary governments that the SU was spying upon for their own protection. This was, of course, a subterfuge that our operatives had planted within the Szmersszh organisation.

I accordingly found the young woman upon the train platform shortly before the Express was scheduled to depart.

“Nesztosszya?” I enquired. “I am Daniel Rumanos”

“Yes, I know,” she replied. “Oh, I have so looked forward to meeting you! I have read all the accounts smuggled into the Saturnian Union concerning your adventures.”

The girl was tall, slender, and exceedingly beautiful, with violet eyes and a wide, sensuous mouth. Her skin was almost pure white, with only a hint of the usual blue of Saturnian natives. This, along with her bright orange hair, showed her to likely be a descendent of the people of Saturn’s moon Phoebe. The Phoebeans, at one time, had considered themselves a race separate from (and perhaps superior to) the Saturnians. Such ideas however, along with all ethnic pride, had been banned and suppressed by the system’s socialistic government.

Nesztosszya and I settled into our private compartment as the train left the station. Our journey to Galactic Centre would take several hours, and we easily spent the first of these talking.

“I know you live on the planet Earth,” she eventually said to me. “I have heard so much about it! It would be a shame to let the SU destroy the culture there. Oh, I am so glad to be able to help prevent that! I especially have heard of a food they have there that is said to be so very delicious, and I do so wish that I could try it!”

“What would that be?” I said. “I know they have some Earth specialities in the dining-car. Perhaps we could get some.”

“It is something called ‘chocolate’.”

I smiled. “Yes, I am certain they would have it.”

“Oh, my!” she exclaimed. “Could you really get some for me?”

Hmmm, thought I, girls are alike all over. “Certainly. Stay in the compartment, though, and do not under any circumstances allow anyone else to enter.”

“Of course, Dr. Rumanos. Oh, thank you so much for being so nice to me, and for keeping me safe. You are truly such a brave and wonderful man, just as I have heard of you!”

I knew I would only be gone a couple of minutes, and that the Express, as well as our compartment, was safe from forced outside entry. I accordingly went to the dining car and picked up a couple of chocolate bars for the young lady and myself. What a delightful person she is, I thought!

As I was returning to our compartment I heard the scream. It was Nesztosszya. I ran back and threw open our door. She was gone. Where she had been sitting was a small communication device. A wicked voice crackled over it:

“Rumanos, we have the girl. You have failed in your mission.”

Then the device went silent. Buggers.

*****

There was one chance. If whatever ship Nesztosszya had been taken to had not as yet gotten too far away from the space-train, I could follow the trace of the transport beam that I knew had to be what was utilised in kidnapping her. I accordingly tuned my Algolitish psychical abilities to the remnants of the beam, and teleported out of the compartment. I was in such a hurry to save the girl I did not even stop to think of the absurd inconsistencies of what had happened: How had the supposed abductor known the exact time I was not with her? Who had switched off the compartment’s anti-energy protection shield, which could only be done from inside?

My teleportation followed the remnants of the beam and I reappeared aboard a small transport ship of Saturnian design. Again, in my haste I did not wonder exactly why the craft was still so close to the train. Any space vehicle used for such purposes could and should have been a vast distance away by then.

What was seated in the pilot’s chair of the tiny control-cabin of the spaceship was not a Saturnian -- but rather a being truly hideous of aspect. It was a fungoid greyish-green in colour and looked like a distorted crayfish about five feet in length. I immediately recognised the creature as a native of the dwarf-planet Pluto. Such monstrosities have bred there for ages in those darksome, horrid ice-swamps that have given their name as an alternate appellation for the world itself: Yuggoth.

Next to the creature, in the co-pilot’s seat, was the girl Nesztosszya. She was not restrained in any way. It is only when I beheld this that I realised the whole entire bloody thing had been a set up from the start.

“Rumanos,” said the horrible Plutonian, “I am Capo Cuevas. You have failed!”

Cuevas! Of course! The notorious crime family of Pluto, and this was their leader. The Plutonians have a surprisingly high level of psychic ability, and I could now understand that it was this creature who had influenced the Saturnians in their sudden bid to conquer Earth. Undoubtedly, the Cuevas Family saw an opportunity in making money from the results of this invasion.

However, I had no time to ponder these things at the moment, for the Plutonian nightmare was entering my mind with his powers, in an attempt to initiate the contest of mind-wrestling, that terrible battle that can end in the result of one of the participant’s very brains being torn to shreds.

I had been weakened from the psychic-based teleportation through space. I felt the alien Cuevas inside my head like an eldritch terror, and had to struggle greatly to fight back. I felt my body shudder as I attempted to reverse the intense mind-wrestling hold he had upon me.

“You cannot defeat me, Rumanos,” mocked the crustaceous gangster monstrosity. “It is over, and you will not interfere with my designs. Daniel Rumanos of Algol… now you will die!”

I know not for certain if my own Algolitish powers would have prevailed. I hope and prefer to think, for the sake of my sanity, that they would have. However, the contest was decided in another manner, a way that was indeed quite unexpected.

“No!” screamed Nesztosszya, who had been witnessing this battle without comment up until now. “No one told me you were going to kill him! I was told we were only going to embarrass him by having me kidnapped while under his protection! He is a good man! Stop! STOP!”

The girl threw herself between us and, before I could react, the sickening criminal Cuevas let go his hold on me and entered her mind instead. She fell dead almost instantaneously to his horrid hold being put upon her, only gasping with her last breath to me: “The code is one-thousand-and-one.”

Then, with a glance of loathsome hatred towards me, the alien gang boss suddenly pressed a switch on the side of his chair and disappeared, teleporting away from the ship. The disgusting monster mobster obviously had another spacecraft in waiting, likely a Plutonian ship, that quickly moved beyond the range that I could follow.

I piloted the transport back to the Milky Way Express and then programmed the Saturnian craft to collide with the nearest star -- therefore giving Nesztosszya an appropriate burial in space. She had deceived me, but had not been willing to see the Capo Cuevas murder me, even after she saw that I had now gotten enough information to uncover and stop the proposed conquest of planet Earth. She had even added the cipher code we could use to descramble the SU transmissions concerning the invasion. If she is any indication, there may indeed be hope for the people of Saturn, if they in time give up the fallacious creed of socialism and return to the ways of honour and dignity. Nevertheless, the dangerously beautiful Saturnian girl was an enemy spy, and so I could not grant her memory any further charity than this.

Back on board the space-train, I did not want to waste any time with the information I now had, and so sent it directly through the Space/Time Current, in the form of a psych-light transmission, to Emmos and the other Celestial Intervention Department Agents. After the intelligence concerning the Cuevas creature and the plot of the notorious crime family of gangland Pluto to manipulate the Saturnian Union, I added the following appropriate post-script:

“Nesztosszya will not be accompanying me to the rendezvous at Galactic Centre. The Saturnian slut is dead now.”