In 1943, a very strange document landed on the desk of one Ray Palmer. As the editor of sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories, Palmer was used to receiving all kinds of submissions. But this document - ominously titled "A Warning To Future Man" - was something entirely separate from the pulp mainstay.
The author, Richard Shaver
, had a hell of a story to tell. He revealed - as an item of fact - that a highly-advanced species had once ruled the earth, up until a nasty burst of solar radiation some ten millenia ago drove them away. Some of these beings had apparently remained hidden in their sophisticated cavern-cities far below the surface. A few, called "Teros", were human-like and noble-natured. But the majority had devolved into sadistic, perverted dwarfs called "Deros". Shaver said "Dero" stood for 'detrimental robot' - in this sense, robot meaning emotionless and cruel.
These horrid Deros were, according to Shaver, well at work terrorising us surface-dwellers. Using the arcane technology of the ancient race - which seems to have involved all sorts of "ray" machines - they were responsible for everything from flu outbreaks to massive earthquakes. A recurrent theme, one Shaver was most obsessed with, involved the Deros abducting women for all sorts of unpleasant reasons. He described numerous such scenes with considerable relish.
The Deros also found time to zip out in spaceships, to further their nefarious goals. At this stage Ufology was not yet popular; Shaver's use of them would become significant later.