I was visiting the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat just outside of Annapolis. The Retreat’s Superior is a friend of mine, the Very Rev. Harold Barclay, known affectionately as Father Hal. I had known him ever since that Independent Greek Orthodox Church had made me an honorary Archbishop due to some assistance I had given them in a certain “mystical” matter. Fr. Hal had attended the ceremony as a representative of his religious order. As I sat chatting with him in his office over a cup of excellent Italian coffee, I could not help noticing he did not seem quite himself. Perhaps, I rationalised, the difficult work of running the Retreat Centre was getting to him.
“I’m glad you came by to see us,” he said, smoothing back his grey hair. “There is another gentleman staying here for a while whom I think you might enjoy meeting.”
“Really, Father?” I replied. “Someone in my, umm… line of business?”
“Sort of! His name is Professor Travis Frasier and he is here researching the legends of Bigfoot in the area, or ‘Sasquatch’ as he prefers to call the thing. He’s half Native American.”
“Sounds interesting. I would like to meet the chap.”
“I’ll introduce you. I told him he should investigate that cave on the other side of the state park from here. Many of the locals say they’ve seen that big hairy beast lurking around there,” he added with a smile. “Perhaps you could go there together, Daniel.”
As the elderly priest got up to walk from the room and take me to meet this professor, I secretly slipped my Seal of Solomon amulet into the top drawer of his desk.
Prof. Frasier was a nice enough man, fifty-ish, obviously well-versed in the Sasquatch legends. I was quite glad to see he was not one of those redneck “Bigfoot hunters”.
“Maryland actually has more sightings than any other State,” he told me as the two of us walked through the park, “despite Sasquatch being more usually associated with the Pacific Northwest. But the local specimen has an odd peculiarity about it. We can tell from observing the many footprints that it has only four toes instead of the usual five!”
Bloody Hell, even Sasquatch in this State is inbred!
We reached the cave, which was about ten feet wide at its opening and well-secluded among the trees. We entered and lit our electric torches. The cave soon turned into a surprisingly large cavern as we journeyed farther underground. The ceiling was easily thirty feet high, and the numerous stalactites and stalagmites lent it a grotesquely antediluvian aspect.
Then we turned in alarm at the eldritch growling sound behind us. We beheld two apelike hominid giants, each fully eight feet tall and unbelievably muscular, covered with thick, dark-brown hair -- every bit of them in appearance the classic Sasquatch or Bigfoot itself! Their eyes beheld us with a look of extreme, darkly ominous anger.
“I don’t understand this at all, Dr. Rumanos,” whispered Frasier, always the scientist despite the situation we were in. “I always believed the Sasquatch to actually be a rather gentle, shy type of creature.”
“Professor,” I replied, “I think we may soon find that this is not quite what it appears to be.”
The two Sasquatch creatures slouched forward as if to usher us even farther into the depths of the uncanny cavern. We backed slowly away from them and soon found ourselves in a bizarre, well-lit room, filed with what could only be described as a network of odd crystalline objects, all interconnected and centred on one huge, clear crystal in the centre, which glowed with an hideously pulsating rhythm.
A deep, echoing voice issued forth from the central crystal, otherworldly in its cadence: “Beings of flesh, you have entered our abode. We are THE INTELLECT, the united mind of our now-extinct race. Countless ages ago, we merged into one to escape the destruction of our planet when its sun grew cold. We issued forth across the Cosmos, spanning countless galaxies of space and untold millennia of time. We have settled on this world and await the day when its dominant species has evolved to the point that it can house us within its flesh. Then our mighty race will be reborn to go forth into even greater glories.”
“Then these Sasquatch,” stammered Prof. Frasier, “aren’t the real thing?”
“No,” I told him. “They are Robots, servants of this Intellect. It has used the local legend as cover and invented them to guard its lair. They are its strong-arms or shock-troops, a Warhead from Space, you might say!”
The Intellect continued: “We have begun our invasion by possessing the body of the one which is called ‘Priest‘.”
“What!” exclaimed the Professor. “Does it mean they have possessed Fr. Hal Barclay?”
“Not any more,” said a voice from behind us -- Fr. Hal himself. “Thanks to the amulet His Grace Rumanos left me.”
Father, now cleared of his possession by having handled the amulet (which I had charged with a portion of my own Algolitish power), then deftly tossed it towards the ghastly central crystal. Several of the extraordinary structures on either side of it shattered as the Intellect disappeared, now dispersed into the depths of space. A sparking sound came from the two robot Sasquatch, which now fell into harmless inaction.
I did not stay much longer at Sacred Heart Retreat after the destruction of the Intellect’s plans. Fr. Hal is a good man, and I am all for exploring different spiritual systems, but you just shall not find me lingering for long anywhere that does not have hummus and young girls.
However, I did again speak with the worthy Prof. Frasier the next morning on the grounds around the Retreat.
“Well, Professor,” I mused, “you came here looking for Sasquatch and instead helped to uncover an alien Intellect using its technology in an attempt to take over humankind.”
“One thing I still don’t understand.” answered Frasier. “How did you know that Fr. Barclay had been possessed?”
“Quite easily, actually!” I replied. “He referred to me by my first name. Fr. Hal, true to the formal decorum of his Order, always calls me either ‘Bishop’ or ‘Your Grace’.”
“Well, I suppose I will have to continue my search for the real Sasquatch elsewhere, as I still have hopes I am not wrong about his existence,” said Frasier. “But tell me, Dr. Rumanos; is this Magic of yours a form of extraterrestrial technology as well?”
I thought it best to ignore the question, but I must admit that the Professor is indeed a quite perceptive individual! …
My name is indeed RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a strikingly handsome human gentleman, tall and muscular, with Anglo-Semitic features and long dark hair; I am in reality far more than this. I do carry within my blood the superior genes of the enigmatic Watchers of the Daemon-Star Algol, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear as “magic” to the people of planet Earth.
Although most Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the goings on of the Universe around them, I am an agent for an highly secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, made up of certain members of the ruling class of our home-world of Daemonia, and it is therefore my ongoing mission to utilise my alien gifts in order to defend the weak and the oppressed from those who would harm, harass, or exploit them.
I am greatly aided in this task by my beautiful and eternally-youthful wife, LADY KATRINA RUMANOS. Originally of a noble Scottish family, she now possesses, as a gift of the Watchers, the ability to generate and control the “Mystical Flame”, a wonderful vermillion and violet fire that can be used in defence and battle. She has thus become my companion and helpmate in the numerous adventures we share both upon the planet Earth and throughout the vast reaches of Space and Time.
Nearly a year after my initial encounter with The Intellect, I was to battle that alien evil and its ‘Warhead’ things again. It was a bizarre and harried experience that included -- SASQUATCH IN THE CITY!
I was enjoying a day with my lovely wife, Katrina, looking around the historical sites of the Mount Vernon area of downtown Baltimore, when a large but non-descript automobile pulled up beside us. An attractive, dark-complexioned young woman in a United States Navy Ensign’s uniform got out of it and flashed a U.S. Government-issued ID card.
“Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” she said curtly, “Military Intelligence requests your assistance in a certain matter.”
Katrina and I were ushered into the back of the car -- the windows were completely blackened over and a partition kept us from seeing the front seat -- and driven to a non-disclosed location where the young woman officer led us to a large but sparsely-furnished office. We sat down before a desk and the Ensign assured us that “The Captain” would be with us shortly and then left the room.
A few minutes later, a tall, handsome gentleman entered the room. He was about forty with brown hair and a well-groomed moustache. His uniform was immaculate.
“Dr. Rumanos… and Mrs. Rumanos, I see,” he said, offering his hand. “I’m Captain Jack Hickman, U.S. Navy Special Services.”
“OK, Captain Jack,” said Katrina, after we had both shaken his hand, “Would you mind explaining why we’ve been brought here?”
“That is,” I added, “If it is not too much of a breach of bloody national security or anything.”
Capt. Hickman took his seat behind the desk, completely ignoring my attempt at humour. He pushed a control button on his desk and a sliding panel opened on the wall to the right of him, revealing a large video screen. In the screen was the image of a dark, obviously underground tunnel filled with a glowing, cobweb-like growth.
“This substance appeared several days ago in the Baltimore City Metro Subway System,” Hickman explained, “and has been spreading ever since. We‘ve closed down the entire system, the official explanation being that the city is doing long-needed repairs on the railways. I sent a highly-trained detachment to attempt to get to the centre of the web, but they encountered several large, ape-like creatures guarding the way. These creatures have proven so far entirely unstoppable by any weapons we have tried on them, but one of them easily tore several of my men literally limb-from-limb.”
I felt an ominous feeling creeping up my spine as I asked him to show us an image of one or more of the “creatures”.
He pressed a button and the hideous image appeared on the screen as I had expected -- The huge, hairy, proto-hominid form of the Sasquatch!
I told the Captain what it was -- Not actually the organic Bigfoot/Sasquatch of legend, but robot servants of a vastly powerful extraterrestrial entity called THE INTELLECT -- The united intelligence of an ancient, physically-extinct race of alien beings who now wanted to use the human race as host-bodies for their return to physical existence, so that they could then go forth and conquer the Universe!
“Yes,” Captain Hickman answered in his unflappable manner, “that confirms what we have already been told.”
“Told by whom?” I inquired.
Capt. Hickman picked up his phone.
“Ensign,” he ordered, “send him in.”
A few seconds later who should enter the room but my old friend Professor Travis Frasier, the scientist whom I had met when I had previously encountered The Intellect and its mechanical-Sasquatch servitors.
“Hello, Professor,” I said, “Cannot say I’m really surprised to see you. Do you have any idea how The Intellect has returned?”
“Yes, Dr. Rumanos,” he answered, seeming a bit abashed, “I’m afraid so. I couldn’t help but to do some experiments with the remains of the two robot ‘Sasquatch’ that were left in that cave. After many trials, I succeeded in re-activating one! I feel fortunate to be alive after the way it swatted me out of the way like a fly! When I came to again, both of the Sasquatch were missing from my laboratory, presumably through the large hole now smashed in the wall!”
I sighed. I of all people could not fault the good Professor for scientific curiosity, but by doing this he inadvertently had given The Intellect the signal it needed to return to Earth and continue its plans to possess all of humanity. Now it was entrenched in the city subway system, sending its crystalline web out to spread its thoughts and continuously grow in power, all the while guarded by its monstrous, robotic creatures!
Just then, Hickman’s telephone buzzed. He answered it immediately.
“Right!” he said, standing up hastily, “Inform Washington of the situation and employ all available detachments immediately!”
“Further developments?” Katrina asked.
“Yes, you could put it that way!” answered the Captain, switching the video screen to a live feed.
On the screen was a view of the Metro station entrance at City Centre. From the doorway were lurching forth at least a half-dozen of the ghastly, gigantic Sasquatch creatures, which then began scattering out on to the streets of Baltimore!!
The large, robotic Sasquatch creatures -- indeed The Intellect’s Warhead From Space -- were pouring out of the downtown entrance to Baltimore’s Metro subway train system. Eight of the big hairy monstrosities issued forth from it in all and lurched forward hideously, spreading out to bring ghastly terror to the streets of the city.
“Right!” said Captain Jack Hickman into his telephone at the secret headquarters of the United States Military Intelligence Unit he was commanding, “I’ll lead the head detachment myself! Deploying immediately!”
He hung up the phone and turned to me.
“Dr. Rumanos,” he said, “we need someone to go underground who has the necessary knowledge to defeat this alien Intellect at its source.”
“Yes,” I replied. “By sending its guarding Sasquatch out into the streets -- likely in response to my presence here -- it has opened itself to attack as much as it is going to do, so I should go in now.”
“Ensign Jones will accompany you, along with a couple of my best men. Professor Frasier will continue to take care of tech matters here at H.Q., but I can only hope we can break through the defences of these Sasquatch creatures. So far, the only thing that has slowed them down at all in our previous encounters is the use of flamethrowers, but we haven’t been able to generate the type of intense heat apparently necessary to burn through their outer casing.”
“Well then, my good Captain, I think I know someone who can help with that particular problem.”
I looked at Katrina. She was already smiling.
A short while later I was entering the dark, underground tunnels of Baltimore City’s subway system, accompanied by the young Ensign and two burly seamen. I must admit it took some effort, but I managed to refrain from asking them if they knew that old Village People song, “In the Navy”.
We soon encountered the ghostly cobweb-like substance; the “Web of Terror” generated by The Intellect. It was constructed of countless tiny crystals that the phantasmal group-mind of the extraterrestrial intelligence used to transmit and focus its thoughts. The grotesque web glowed with a hideously eldritch, pulsating radiance.
Back on the surface, the military was advancing against the eight Sasquatch. Guns and hand-grenades did not even faze the creatures, however. Fortunately, I had given them a secret weapon.
Katrina walked out away from the well-armed detachment that had been escorting her. A moment’s concentration was all that was necessary for my beloved to activate her powers, as a jetting force of lovely-but-deadly vermillion and violet fire shot forth from her and she rose smoothly into the air. She is the Mistress of the Wondrous Flame -- She is Heaven’s Hell!
She dove down towards one of the robotic Sasquatch and shot out a blast of flame from her hands directly at its mid-section. The creature stopped and then recoiled a few steps, actually howling in pain and surprise at the intensity of heat from her fire, born as it is from the advanced magic-like science of the Watchers of Algol.
It was then that the unthinkable happened. The Sasquatch paused for a few short moments as it re-arranged its programming in communication with the Intellect commanding it. It then levitated straight upward and hovered face-to-face with Katrina. The other seven Sasquatch followed suit and the wonderful Heaven’s Hell soon found herself surrounded -- hideously threatened by all eight of the foul monstrosities in the air above the city skyline of Baltimore!
Underground, the eerie web was growing thicker as we approached the horrifying presence of The Intellect itself, and the bizarre group-mind from Outer Space was a fantastically palpable force in the dense atmosphere around us. I could feel its ancient, immensely powerful intelligence, and its totally evil disregard for anything or anyone who would stand in the way of its goal of regenerating the powerful extraterrestrial race of conquerors of which it was the mental depository.
I turned to the young woman officer standing beside me.
“So, Ensign Jones,” I said, “what would your first name be, then?”
“Martika,” she said, with a slight smile.
“Martika. That is a very nice name. Now tell me, Martika Jones: how long have you been under the control of The Intellect?”
Her dark eyes narrowed with a look of hate born of fear as an invisible force of energy shot forth from her body, knocking the two sailors unconscious before they could even raise their weapons.
The burst of energy hit me with a painful crunch, and I saw a shower of falling stars in my mind as my eyes closed and I sank limply to the ground.
It had been quite obvious to me that Ensign Martika Jones was under the control of The Intellect. For one thing, I was very certain it would not leave its central position, there on the large train platform of the Baltimore City Metro Subway System, unguarded. Then, when it sent its monstrous, robotic Sasquatch out into the city streets, I knew it must have some other means of security. Therefore, I was not at all surprised when she sent forth a burst of energy rendering the two Navy men with us unconscious. The blast hit me painfully as well, but my Algolitish psychic defences were prepared for it. However, I thought it wise to pretend to have been knocked out, so I closed my eyes and dropped to the floor.
Ensign Jones dragged me into the presence of The Intellect. Here, the spectrally-glowing web was thickest, reaching from the ceiling to the floor of the platform. In the centre was the huge pulsating crystal I had expected to find -- denoting the central existence of the immensely-powerful and unspeakably evil alien INTELLECT!
“Doctor Rumanos of the Daemon-Star!” said the deeply-toned voice of The Intellect that filled the air around me, and would have stirred me back to consciousness if I had not already been awake. “We have been waiting for you. Now you will be made to serve us, and nothing shall stand in the way of our total subjugation of the human species upon this planet, which shall now be used as hosts for the triumphant return of our most glorious race!”
“Ha! You know very well that I will never serve you,” I replied spitefully.
“You will BE us!” replied the Intellect. It then turned its thoughts to the Ensign, saying, “Prepare the Brain-Draining Helmet!”
Ensign Jones lifted a hat-like crystalline object from a nearby section of the web, touching a small switch upon it before placing it upon my head.
“Now,” continued The Intellect, “your very essence, your mind, your intelligence will become part of us! The very Knowledge of the Watchers of Algol shall be ours, so that no species of the Universe will be able to stand against us when we go forth to conquer all!!”
The crystal-helmet began to glow, throbbing with power as the hideous extraterrestrial intellect began the process by which it intended to drain all thoughts, memory, and knowledge from my head!
Outside, the battle raged against the grotesque Sasquatch creatures. My lovely wife Katrina, A.K.A. the wonderful Heaven’s Hell, had found that by generating the heat of her Flame to the intensity of a controlled atomic explosion, and then directing it to the centre of a Sasquatch, she could pierce the defences of the monstrosities enough that the military detachment could then fire a bazooka-shell into the grotesque thing, causing the robotic horror damage beyond repair.
The main problem Kat was experiencing now was having to dart around quickly enough to evade the grasp of the horrible creatures, and to prevent them from harming anyone else until she could get into the proper tactical position to destroy them one-by-one.
Meanwhile, back underground, the pulsating light of the bizarre Brain-Draining Helmet continued to grow with intensity as an electronic whining sound increased. Then, with shocking sudden volume, The Intellect shouted, “What? WHAT! Rumanos, how have you…? Our consciousness is separating -- weakening -- falling to pieces!!”
Earlier, when the young ensign was dragging my body into the presence of the alien Intellect, I had surreptitiously made a slight mentalist link with her, just nudging enough of a suggestion that she had switched the polarisation of the neutronic stream on the helmet before placing it upon my head. Now, instead of draining my knowledge and intelligence to merge with its own, it was causing The Intellect’s hideous consciousness to come to pieces, draining down into various portions of its spectral, crystalline web.
“No!” it continued. “This cannot be! How can your mind do this to us?! You are only one. We are The Intellect, the greatest group-mind of all time! NO! NOOOOOOOOO!!”
The voice of The Intellect then trailed off into a gurgling scream.
By now, The Intellect was weakened enough that it had been forced to sever its mind-control of Ensign Jones. Her military training then took over immediately, and she raised her assault rifle and fired at the large, central crystal of the extraterrestrial horror’s chamber. It shattered into countless tiny pieces. The ghastly, phantasmal radiance ceased, and the gruesome web lost all life within it, falling to dust upon the floor of the tunnels it had once covered.
The Intellect was now harmless, dispersed into deep Space. I could only hope that this time it would stay that way.
Back outside, all but three of the mechanical Sasquatch had already been destroyed by the combined forces of Heaven’s Hell and military weaponry. These three, now with no intelligence left to command them, stopped functioning and smashed to the hard concrete pavement of the city.
Katrina and I soon made ourselves scarce in order to avoid being asked a lot of questions and various official matters. The threat had been averted, and Professor Frasier would do fine in answering any scientific queries the military types could have concerning the matter.
A short time later, Captain Jack Hickman sat at his desk at headquarters. There was still much paperwork and clean-up to do, and he would be especially certain that Martika Jones got an honourable discharge from the service, but he knew it would be all right to relax for a few moments. He took out the smokeless, electronic pipe he liked to enjoy on occasion, and the scent of high-quality -- if simulated -- tobacco soon filled the room.
Just then, his telephone rang. It was with that special tone which could only denote a call from one particular person.
“Yes, Mr. President!” said the Captain, answering the phone with much haste.
“Captain Hickman,” said the familiar, friendly-but-authoritative voice at the other end of the secure line; the voice of the gentleman who was President of the United States in those days, “good work on that trouble in Baltimore. I hear you had some unorthodox assistance with it, but that, as with all of it, will be highly classified. The reason I’m calling you now is because it has become obvious that it is necessary to form a new, above-top-secret organization, answerable only to the Executive Office, which will serve to defend against extraterrestrial invasion and similar matters. This unit will be made up of the most elite military divisions we can put together, aided by the most advanced scientific technology at our disposal. I’m promoting you to the rank of Commodore, and choosing you to be its commanding officer.”
Thus was born the ESF (Executive Security Force), commanded by Commodore Jack Hickman!
DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN