The Lush of Lichtenstein
A Venus 1888 Adventure
Betty felt as if she had fallen from a great height. Her balance was unsteady as she rose from the seat and fanned herself in the intense heat. She glanced to the Princess, who was still unconscious. Betty tapped Sissi’s hand and then her cheek in an attempt to revive her, but the Princess remained asleep. Betty opened her eyelids and knew from experience that the Princess would be out for quite some time. She wiped the sweat from her eyes with her sleeve and suddenly realized how warm the chamber had become. Then she noticed her shadow across the gently snoring Pincess and turned to look out the great window over the console.
The landscape was tropical, with an orange-red sky. A large yellow sun blazed over a steep-sloped mountain range. The aethership sat in the center of a clearing as large as the entire exposition grounds. Betty saw giant flying creatures in the distance with what appeared to be long beaks stretching in both directions from their heads. As she watched in awe, she realized that the forward facing one was a mouth, and the rear some kind of sail. She watched as what must have been several hundred of the creatures perched in the distant cliffs.
“We are on Venus,” Betty said to herself. “The aethership must have launched itself somehow. She glanced back at Sissi, still motionless, her chest rising and falling in deep slumber. She had to get help.
Betty searched the cabinets along the walls of the control room and found a map. Looking out of the window, she searched for landmarks. When she spied what looked like identifiable features, she determined that the ship had arrived about 20 miles from the British settlement at Dromopyle. She resolved to go to the camp and bring back assistance.
In her searches, Betty also discovered some clothing more suitable for tropical climates. The blouse, tunic, and long skirt were all khaki in color, along with a khaki explorer’s helmet and knee high leather boots. Additionally, she found a utility belt that included a sheathed knife and full ammunition pouches for the Prussian rifle that the Austrian military used.
After exchanging her peasant dress for the more practical gear, Betty searched for something with which to leave Sissi a note, but found but found no writing implements. In the end, she opened the hatch expecting to see the winding stairway, and almost stumbled when she found a long step to the stony ground. The aethership’s three legs were bent so that the hull almost touched the surface.
It was very hot and humid. In a few minutes, Betty’s blouse was soaked with perspiration. She could hear the bird calls normally associated with the jungle, but there were also horn-like sounds and thundering roars. Checking that the rifle was loaded, she stepped out and closed the hatch behind her. Betty was not a military woman, but she had been raised among the fens of Dartmoor and knew the workings of a rifle from time spent hunting game fowl with her father.
Using the mountains as a guide, Betty set out, rifle at the ready, toward the nearest humanity on the planet.
* * *
Timahuri had sensed the arrival of more outsiders. The dark haired shaman rubbed the green ointment over her bare chest, her face, and down here arms and legs. Then she rattled her hollowed-out gourd noisemaker in the four directions and scowled. The sound changed when the gound was shaken toward the mountains. She shrieked and stood, and as she did, the gathered women around her stood and shrieked in kind, grabbing their stone spears and their hide shields. Timahuri and her escort mounted their Xokyne and the giant, sharp-beaked land birds sped off quickly. The women on foot followed at a run.
The newcomers took whatever they found, without even an offering to the gods. They dug great holes in the ground and took black rock from womb of Soliope. They defiled the dwellings of the ancestors and had taken the forebears of many tribes hostage to ensure their submission.
Timahuri would not let the Aklete suffer the same fate. Until now, the newcomers had not ventured out of the coastal plains. Or rather, few that did returned to warn off their kind. None had ever been so bold as to appear as they did on the Aklete plateau. These trespassers would have to be made an example to discourage any other attempts by the strangers.
* * *
Sissi woke with a throbbing pulse echoing through her head. Opening her eyes slowly, the only thing she seemed to recall was dancing in the hotel room with Betty and something about the Emperor. The light from the huge window blinded her. Cursing, she fumbled around on the control panel until a shutter closed over it.
She rose unsteadily and called for Betty. Then she glanced around the room looking for some clue as to where she was and found Betty’s clothes. At first she was annoyed that someone had taken her companion instead of herself, but then she realized that she was alone. The cabinets around the mysterious chamber had been rifled through, but the Princess could not tell if anything was taken.
One thing that she did find, however, was an unopened magnum of Champagne. Smiling and without hesitation, Sissi pealed the foil and expertly popped the cork, which ricocheted around the circular space until is landed in her lap.
Sissi took a long pull of the champagne and realized that the room was quite hot. She absently pulled off the peasant dress, leaving only her white corset and petticoat. The air was getting stuffy, so Sissi grabbed the bottle, wobbled over to the hatch, and turned the wheel.
As the space was again flooded with reddish-orange light, Sissi watched as a large crowd of bare-breasted women gathered in the large open space around the aethership. Most carried shields and spears and wore feathered headdresses. They made space for some who were riding giant, flightless birds. The latter rode up and stopped a fair distance from her, while the others fanned out around them. A sudden quiet rippled through the feathered ranks as the leader rose her club and looked to both sides as if about to give a command.
“Ach Scheisse!” the Princess blurted, hugging the bottle to her chest as she stared at the assembly.
* * *
Timahuri was surprised to hear the name of the goddess from the newcomer. She was pale of skin and dressed from her breasts to her feet in white, and golden hair billowed around her strange, rounded face.
“Ah-SHAH-say?” she asked in disbelief, lowering the club slowly and cupping her breasts.
* * *
Sissi realized that all the natives were female. They all had long, dark hair, dark, angular features, and slightly pointed ears like fairies were said to have. They were all naked except for their loin clothes and headdresses. Then it dawned on her. She was on Venus! Everyone on Venus was female. The atmosphere drove men insane. And this must be one of the native tribes that she had heard about.
* * *
One of the riders parroted her words questioningly and held her breasts. They had initiated communication. Sissi repeated the gesture and said, “Ah-SHAH-say.”
* * *
At once, the riders dismounted and all of the assembly fell to their knees in obeisance. Sissi smiled and raised her arms, thinking to herself, “If it’s one thing a Princess knows how to do, it’s making an entrance.”
* * *
As the natives rose, Sissi regally stepped onto the missing stairs and tumbled into blackness.
TO BE CONTINUED…