“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
(Old Earth Saying)
Thedinald Tromfiss rubbed his strangely-small hands together whilst pondering his plans. They were especially tiny (his hands, that is, not the plans) considering that he was the usual rather large size of a Jupiterian male. Well over six feet in height and heavy of frame, Tromfiss’s skin was a dull orange colour and his yellow hair was combed forwards in a vain and blatantly-obvious attempt to hide his balding pate. He wore a business suit of his planet’s latest fashion.
Tromfiss was seated in his office at the very top of Casino Giove, the vast gambling resort he had built orbiting his native giant planet. The casino was, indeed, larger than many of Jupiter’s moons, but its construction had taken only a very small percentage of the real estate fortune that Thedinald Tromfiss had inherited from his late father.
However, the Jupiterian businessman known as Thedinald Tromfiss had far larger plans than being just a gambling and entertainment mogul. For the very strategies he was pondering this day were those that he believed would make him President of the United Provinces of Jupiter, this being arguably the most powerful political position in the Solar System. Although he had no previous political experience, Tromfiss knew he had a very good chance in winning the upcoming election. Moneys had been deposited quietly in the right places, and possible rivals assured that certain foibles of their own pasts would be noised loudly abroad should circumstances not go in favour of Tromfiss. Even the famous Jupiterian media had been bought off in order to silence all mention of Tromfiss’s rumoured connections to certain Planetist organisations such as the notoriously fascist “Jupiter First Militia”. In addition, scandalous accounts of Thedinald Tromfiss’s own predilection for Martian insectoid prostitutes and the so-called “copper showers” (a reference to the colour of the urine of natives of the red planet Mars) had been squelched.
The buzzer on Tromfiss’s desk interrupted his musings. It was the signal that someone had arrived to speak with him. He saw by that the light on the system was blue, indicating that the visitor was his wife, Meszlansszoya.
Tromfiss pressed the door open switch and his wife entered. She was a tall, willowy woman, decades younger than he was. Her pale blue skin alongside the deep purple hues of her hair and eyes showed that she was from the planet Saturn. Indeed, Tromfiss had appropriated Meszlansszoya as a “mail-order bride” a couple of years before. She was now one of the very few individuals who would be easily allowed past Tromfiss’s bodyguard and into his private office.
“Good morning, Meszlansszoya,” said Tromfiss, not bothering to rise from his chair as she entered. He always called her by her full given name, and never used any terms of affection. “What brings you here today? I have much business to attend to.”
Forsooth, seeing his beautiful wife anywhere but in the bedroom, or appropriately hanging on his arm for news photographers at events, was actually quite an annoyance to Tromfiss.
“We need to talk, Thedinald,” said the lady. “Things have come to a crisis.”
“Oh, there goes that whiney Saturnian drama again,” he replied with a scowl. “Can we just get this damned discussion over with? I need to go over the press release my writers have drafted announcing my campaign for the Presidency.”
“This will not take up much time,” she answered, reaching her hand into the diamond-studded purse that hung by the side of her bright-red dress. “It has been far too long coming already.”
Tromfiss stood up now as he beheld what Meszlansszoya was holding. It was a small yet very powerful type of ray-gun, of a style available only to Saturnian secret agents.
“You bitch,” exclaimed the evil businessman. “My advisors were correct. You are a spy for the damned government of Saturn!”
“My leaders sent me here to gather information on you, Thedinald Tromfiss,” she said. “They knew that your sickening passions -- your nauseating lusts could be used against you. For all this time, I endured your disgusting embraces for the benefit of my planet. You are an insane and dangerous man, and the secret service of Saturn has now given me authorisation to eliminate you, for the sake of the peace and security of the Solar System.”
With this, Meszlansszoya levelled the gun at Tromfiss’s head, but her finger trembled slightly on the trigger. It is not that she would hesitate to kill him, being a trained agent and also knowing first-hand that he very much deserved death. Nevertheless, the thought, the memory, of the numerous perversions and horrors of which she knew this man was capable abashed her with fear of him, if only for an instant.
That instant of hesitation was just long enough for Tromfiss to reach behind his desk and press a hidden button. A slight hissing sound was heard as something was released into the air of the room.
Meszlansszoya immediately coughed and the ray-gun fell from her hand, noiselessly hitting the thick carpet. Brown blotches suddenly appeared on her once-flawless skin, oozing black pus.
“This…” she stammered. “Is it really…?”
“Ru-Ang Virus,” spoke Tromfiss, a grotesque smirk spreading across his face. “The ancient plague that nearly wiped out the damned people of Saturn millennia ago. Jupiterians are immune, of course, as are most other species.”
By now, the woman lay gasping upon the floor as the disease quickly spread throughout her body. She shook convulsively and her purple eyes rolled back in her head as life left her.
“Do you understand now, you gods-damned Saturnian whore?” queried the wicked entrepreneur, now shouting at the dead body of his wife. “You will not stop me from becoming President of the United Provinces! I am Tromfiss! I will make Jupiter great again! No one can stop me! NO ONE!!” …
“Holy Flapdoodle!” exclaimed the girl, her lovely blue eyes flashing like pale sapphires. “We won again, love!”
This beautiful young woman, tall and slender, with gorgeous ginger hair and diaphanous skin like purest alabaster, was seated at a gaming table of Casino Giove playing “Red Spot“, a Jupiterian version of roulette. She wore an elegant white dress with a short matching cape and small riding-boots. Beside her, his tall muscular frame leaning back in a chair with seeming complete coolness, was a singularly handsome man with striking Anglo-Semitic features, clad in a dark silk suit and military-style boots, along with a leathern greatcoat, dark glasses, and safari hat.
Both were wearing swords, this being the right and custom, according to ancient traditions, of all noble-blooded visitors to the environs of Jupiter.
“Congratulations, my friends!” said the somewhat elderly, orange-hued Jupiterian who was the table’s game-attendant. “Sir and Madam have had quite a run of good fortune! Is this your first time at our casino, Mr….?”
“Rumanos -- Daniel Rumanos,” I responded (for the man was indeed me), then indicating the girl beside me with, “and this is my wife, Katrina.”
“Aye,” added Kat, still smiling. “This is our first time here. It is such a wonderful holiday spot!”
“Marvellous!” added the Jupiterian. “You are very welcome. It’s just we don’t get many… Earthlings, is it? Their space program has had some funding problems, I hear.”
“I am a representative for Interplanetary Imports,” I lied. “So we get out a bit more than most… Earthlings.”
I briefly eyed the casino’s gaming floor. In addition to natives of Jupiter, there were blue-skinned Saturnians and Uranusites, six-eyed insectoid Martians, crustaceous dwarf Plutonians, snake-men from Draconis, furry Arcturusans, and members of a few other races among the patrons. They were playing the slots machines, card games, and various other contests of chance. Neptunian jazz played from the hidden speakers around the room, and a garish electronic poster dominating one wall advertised an upcoming appearance by “Mikkey Leitter: The Galaxy‘s Most Famous Frank Sinatra Tribute Artist“. The nearly-nude cocktail waitresses were all gorgeous blonde Venusians, their appearance similar to the Nordic type of human save for their obliquely-slanted eyes. Numerous potted trees and other plants, along with the artificial sunshine-like lighting of the huge room, lent an oddly forest-like aspect to the gambling establishment.
“Does Sir wish to play again?” enquired the attendant, interrupting my thoughts concerning the patrons on the gaming floor.
“Indeed, put it all on the black 11,” I told him before turning to my wife. “I shall return in a few minutes, darling. I just want to visit the coffee-bar.”
“All right, babe,” she said sweetly as we briefly embraced. I then turned and strolled away from the table. As I was about halfway across the casino floor I heard another exclamation of delight from Katrina, indicating that we had again won.
I found the coffee bar and ordered an iced cappuccino (shaken, not stirred). The attractive young Jupiterian barista, whose nametag said “Falixxa” and whose tangerine-coloured skin and flaxen hair well highlighted her enchanting green eyes -- just as her tight, short-skirted barista’s uniform did her excellent figure -- gave me a nod of recognition and, in a sotto voce as she served my drink, said, “He is in his office. I’ll see that the way is clear.”
I drank down the coffee and exited the gaming room via the door beside the bar. Nary thirty seconds had passed before an alarm was raised, in a particular tone that informed security that someone had been observed cheating at one of the Red Spot tables.
There was the expected general tumult of voices as the patrons reacted to this with a mixture of annoyance and amusement. In the centre of this commotion, Katrina stood up and suddenly -- burst into flames!
Now, this fire did not burn her. Far from it, for it was the fantastic vermillion and violet flame that is hers to command. It sparkled around her sultry form as a lambent gleam of wondrous brilliance.
This sudden show of odd power had its result, however. Numerous other alarum bells began to sound, the sprinkler system was engaged (which had no effect whatsoever on the psychically-controlled Heaven’s Hell flames of Katrina Rumanos), and the gaming floor was soon enough crowded with the muckle numerous burly Jupiterians making up the well-armed security force of Casino Giove! …
My name is indeed Dr. Daniel Rumanos, True Weird Adventurer and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Although I have an human appearance, I am actually far more than this. For I do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL. Whilst most Algolites remain aloof from the affairs of the other species making up the vast Universe, I am an operative for an Algolitish secret service organisation known as the Kosmikos. The purpose of the Kosmikos is to covertly intervene in situations in which the safety and balance of Space and Time are threatened. Such was the case involving Thedinald Tromfiss, real-estate tycoon, founder of the vast gambling house known as Casino Giove, and would-be President of the United Provinces of Jupiter.
Tromfiss’s bid for the UPJ Presidency would have certainly gone far below the notice of the Algolite Kosmikos had it not been for his connection with certain Planetist organisations -- those hideous fascistic fanatics who wished to ban all immigration to Jupiter. Tromfiss had even promised, if elected, to build a barrier around the planet barring all non-Jupiterians from entering without special authorisation, adding that he would somehow strong-arm the government of Proxima Centauri into paying for it. Tromfiss, knowing he could never overestimate the stupidity of his supporters, intentionally confused the Proximites with certain Terrorists from the Seven Planets of Trappist-1, only because there was some slight and completely-coincidental similarity in their ethnic appearance.
Now, Tromfiss himself had no background in politics whatsoever and it was obvious that his courting of such extremists was simply a tool in his insane bid for power. He certainly, for instance, had no problem with having non-Jupiterian patrons at his casino, and was indeed funding his Presidential campaign from the monies collected there. This Casino Giove, which Tromfiss had advertised widely as “The Most Luxurious Entertainment Complex in the Galaxy” (even though it in no way compared to the resort areas of Galactic Centre), was actually the first gambling establishment in the outer Solar System to not be owned by the crime “families” of Pluto. Even this fact had given the unscrupulous Thedinald Tromfiss a certain “moral” veneer that he certainly did not deserve, this greatly increasing his standing in the polls.
In any event, the possibility of Tromfiss becoming President of the United Provinces of Jupiter had been judged by the Kosmikos as a threat to Galactic security. Master Emmos, our Chief Operative, had given me the assignment with a curt and cold “Eliminate the problem.” In other words, my mission was to assassinate Thedinald Tromfiss, and my wife and I had arrived at the Casino Giove establishment by use of my Chrono-Band, the ring that I wear on the third finger of my right hand that enables travel through Time and Space under the authorisation of the Kosmikos.
The government of the planet Saturn had been concerned with halting Tromfiss’s grotesque rise to power as well. However, they had failed in their attempt to stop him for reasons that at the time remained enigmatic.
It was the especial duty of my exquisitely beautiful and eternally-youthful wife, Katrina, to create a disturbance on the casino floor in order to decoy the establishment’s security there. Originally from Earth, a young girl of the most noble Scottish descent, Kat had been granted special powers by the Watchers in order to stand with me in the numerous and varied adventures to which my continuing tasks as a Kosmikos Operative do indeed take me.
The lovely lass known as Falixxa was actually our contact within the Jupiterian Intelligence Agency, working undercover as a “barista” at the casino coffee-bar. She was a student from the University of Ganymede who had been drafted by the JIA due to her profound abilities in the field of computer-hacking. She had already shut down the security cameras everywhere in the complex save the casino floor, and had programmed the alarum system to alert all of the security guards concerning Katrina’s sudden show of unusual powers, thus clearing my way through the remainder of the building towards the top-floor office of the evil Thedinald Tromfiss.
I accordingly made my way upwards. The lift system had been disabled, but I quickly used the side stairways, utilising my alien powers for increased speed as I passed the numerous levels of shops, restaurants, and hotel suites of the large Casino Giove complex. Finally, when I entered the waiting room outside the office of Thedinald Tromfiss, I encountered my first true obstacle -- and it was a large one indeed!
Standing before me was a being known as Prooitt. He was Tromfiss’s private bodyguard, the one who would not leave his post under any circumstances whatsoever. This individual was a hulking, massively hard-muscled Jupiterian male of seven feet tall, his shaved-bald head adding an even fiercer aspect to his already hideous countenance. He let out a low growl of horrid hatred upon seeing me enter and before I could react, landed his colossal fist directly in my stomach, sending me careening across the room to the far wall! …
Meanwhile, on the gaming floor, Katrina was keeping the casino security force quite well occupied. The other girl, Falixxa, had helped by shutting down all of the artificial lighting -- the only illumination now seen being the flashing flames of Lady Katrina Rumanos deftly deflecting the energy-weapons of the guards! She had even playfully drawn her sword as she faced them with a teasing smile.
“A redhead with a sword,” mused the old table attendant, who had found shelter behind a near by slots machine. “Security is going to need reinforcements.” …
I stood up and shook off the effects of the blow I had received from the bodyguard Prooitt. The colossal Jupiterian was already stalking forward, his massive arms outstretched in preparation to attempt crushing me. I quickly cast a bolt of my Algolitish energy directly at his bald, orange-coloured head. The bullet of power caused it to explode, and the yellow pulp of my foe’s brain-matter splattered against the wall and floor.
“Smashing Pumpkins,” said I, and then strode forwards to force open the door of the office in which was my objective.
As I entered his office I beheld the execrable Thedinald Tromfiss standing behind his desk. The curtain had been opened from the large window that dominated the wall behind him, and from it was seen the looming disk of the giant planet Jupiter itself framing his form.
“Daniel Rumanos of Algol,” sneered Tromfiss. “Even the damned Watchers must be jealous of my success to send their most royal-blooded assassin here.”
I ignored his taunts and readied a lethal wave of my energies to use upon him. Before I could properly release it, however, the insane Tromfiss reached down and pressed a switch behind his desk. I was suddenly beset with nausea as I felt my Algolitish powers drain from me!
“You bloody caitiff!” I said whilst beginning to double over in pain. “Is that actually…”
“Oh yes,” riposted Tromfiss. “I have had my headquarters enforced with airborne defences against all the gods-damned planetary spy networks known to have agents in the area. Ru-Ang Virus for Saturnians; Bubonica for Neptunians -- and so forth -- and, for you damned meddling Algolites -- Evaerlium!”
EVAERLIUM! A radioactive substance known to have a negative and debilitating effect upon the Watchers of the Daemon-Star. It is said that Evaerlium is made of remnants of the structure of the very edge of the known Universe at that point of which our people first, untold aeons ago, entered into physical existence from whence we had existed since before the beginning of Time as the Aeturnusians -- those beings of pure ecstatic light that are known to some as “Angels“. However, this is controversial. In any case, Thedinald Tromfiss’s fortune had enabled him to locate and purchase a portion of this exceedingly rare mineral.
Nevertheless, the powdered Evaerlium that Tromfiss had obtained was not of the strongest type. It sickened me and temporarily drained my powers, but I managed to keep consciousness and concentration upon my mission. I drew my sword from its scabbard, and threw it like a javelin directly at the midsection of the evil entrepreneur known as Thedinald Tromfiss. The sword pierced his vital organs, and with a slight gurgling sound he crumpled dead to the floor.
I reached behind the desk and pressed the switch to clear the room of Evaerlium. I then felt my strength immediately restored, and pulled my sword from the wretched corpse of Tromfiss, would-be President of the United Provinces of Jupiter, then wiping his sallow blood from the blade with my handkerchief.
“Yellow-hearted coward,” I observed before returning the sword to its sheath by my side.
I immediately teleported back to the gaming floor and collected my wonderful Katrina, who was still expertly holding the establishment’s entire security staff at bay. We utilised the Chrono-Band to escape the environs of Jupiter, our assignment complete.
As for the denouement of all this, the government of the United Provinces saw that Casino Giove was sold to an harmless local hotel chain, whilst the Jupiterian Intelligence Agency spread the false report, well-aided by the computer-hacking expertise of the smart and stunning Falixxa, that the assassination of Thedinald Tromfiss had actually been a gangland-style execution by Plutonian mobsters, this being the result of his supposed plans to expand his business empire into their territory. Forsooth, in the world of espionage, much as in gambling, it is best to keep secret who is actually holding the trump card.
DANIEL RUMANOS WILL RETURN IN “QUANTUM OF URANUS”