The Lush of Lichtenstein
A Venus 1888 Adventure
Sissi was having an incredible dream. Strong, rough, confident hands caressed every nook and cranny of her body. They stroked her thighs, her breasts, her stomach, her face, probed her private parts, her mouth, her ears, her nose!?
Sissi opened her eyes and spied a crowd of the bare-breasted natives pawing her naked body. They were covered in blood and left smears of it on her skin. The women touching her froze. One, who had her hand between Sissi’s legs, made eye contact. Sissi screamed.
The woman Sissi had originally communicated with, who she took to be their leader, appeared with a heavy, flat club studded with sharp shards of stone and, in a single stroke, sliced off the head of the woman Sissi started at. It fell away and blood fountained from her neck all over the assembly before the legs gave way and it fell out of Sissi’s view.
The other women stepped back, and the Princess got a good look at them. They were all strong, muscular women with dark hair and coffee-colored skin. They wore only loin cloths made of woven leaves. Some had necklaces and arm bands made of bone of colored stones. But all were scarred and blood seeped from fresh wounds.
Sissi sat up, and everyone around her immediately fell to their knees and touched their foreheads to the floor. She was perched on a stone table covered by a woven cushion. It sat underneath a woven awning atop or a stepped pyramid in the center of a small village composed of stone structures.
The pyramid sat in the center of a large square, which was currently sectioned off in layers of squares with partitions. Around the partitioned areas, crowds massed to watch pairs of figures fighting. Sissi watched one contest. The combatants were both women, and they fought a bloody and desperate duel.
Sissi noticed that the leader was watching her intently, and she cast her own gaze to the pair the Princess was watching. When one of the women struck her opponent hard on the back of the head with one of the club-like weapons, the other dropped unceremoniously, and a roar rose from the spectators.
Sissi had read about the natives of Spanish America who were known for violence and stepped pyramids. She recalled that they fought with other tribes to capture sacrifices to their pagan gods.
* * *
Timapuri watched as the victors took their turns sharing their souls with the goddess, who lay motionless on the throne. Her warriors fought for the honor of being first in hope that Axaxe would bestow her blessing on them and make them pregnant after the next pilgrimage to the Holy City. It was a great portent that the Goddess of Fertility should come to visit the Aklete in person. Great things were on the horizon for the tribe.
Suddenly the goddess sat up and screamed. Ikal had touched Axaxe’s sacred place, and the goddess was displeased. Timapuri stepped up and decapitated the infidel on the spot.
Axaxe looked over the assembled champions, and then down below where the current challenges played out. Her attention focused on the contest between Citlamina and Sakneate. As she watched, the latter dealt her opponent a solid blow to the back of the head with the flat of her sword. Citlamina fell to the ground and did not move.
Timapuri nodded to the herald who blew the victory horn. In an instant, Sakneate vaulted up the sixty-six steps of the temple, saluted Timapuri, and knelt at the goddess’ feet.
* * *
The leader nodded to another woman who blew a horn. A moment later, Sissi saw the victor run up the steps of the pyramid, past a line of bloody women who she realized were waiting for their opportunity to smear their blood on her. The newcomer climbed the steps effortlessly, nodded to the leader, and then kneeled at Sissi’s feet.
“Ah-SHAH-say,” the woman said reverently, her head bowed. “Sahk-nee-AH-tay,” she said, tapping her chest.
“Sahk-nee-AH-tay,” Sissi repeated and the woman smiled, though her head was still bowed. “Fran-CHESS-kah,” she said, tapping her own chest. The warrior looked confused.
“Ah-SHAH-say,” Sahk-nee-AH-tay repeated, and everyone else repeated, “Ah-SHAH-say.” Sissi realized that her name was Ah-SHAH-say to these people, and apparently she had selected this woman for something.
* * *
Yashada led the blood coats up a narrow trail on the side of the mountain. The chokawa were hunting now, but the Bev-ER-lee had commanded her to take the foreigners into the territory of the Aklete. Yashada obeyed. The blood-coats held the sacred lodge of the ancestors, and she did not want to anger them. As long as she and the rest of her tribe obeyed the blood-coats, her forebears would be safe.
They treated Yashada better than a slave, but not by much. She was forced to sleep outside and required to conceal her true self beneath one of their blood-coats. They allowed her to carry a spear, but forbade her from returning to her village. Yashada, who the blood-coats called “SHAY-dee” for some reason, was their property for now.
The chokawa hunted during the bright time. When the dark time came, climbing the steep slope would be much safer. But the blood coats had heard the sound of boomsticks from the top, and she was obliged to take them to investigate. They would probably find nothing. If the chokawa caught whoever had made the noise, they would have taken their prey back to their nests.
* * *
Beverly scanned the trail ahead. She was slightly taller than Shady, so she could see easily enough. The enormous, bright, hot sun did not help things. There were nearly two months by Earth reckoning before the twilight season started, and then there would be six whole months of darkness, illuminated only by the reflection of the sun off of Neith, the sole satellite of the planet, which always orbited on the side opposite of Venus from Earth.
The pterodactyls were out in great number, but most flew out to the sea, where the flying reptiles dove into the water to pluck out enormous fish. Others disappeared over the plateau. A few, however, scoured the cliff face, and Beverly was wary should any show an interest in them.
Behind her, Privates Cathaway and Harcourt followed with their rifles at the ready. Beverly liked the two and kept them close by. Cathaway would be good in a fight, capable with both blade and bullet, while Harcourt was level-headed and a quick thinker. Beverly was waiting for an opportunity to promote the pair, but so far, neither had seen any action.
Suddenly, Shady signaled and they all pressed themselves low against the rock. A pterodactyl was flying leisurely toward them along the side of the cliff. Apparently the pterodactyls did not see the red of their coats well against the hues of the cliff face, so as long as they did not move, the beast would probably pass them by.
Beverly heard the quiet click of the levers on her troops’ Martini-Henry carbines. She hoped that Lewis had sufficiently drilled patience into the girls, but this would be their first test. She slowly drew her revolver, though she knew that she would need to be right on top of the creature to harm it.
The flying lizard used the long sail at the rear of its head to steer, turning its whole head toward or away from the wind to change course. Every so often, a gust of wind would rise from below and push the creature higher unless it turned its entire body vertical and dove, which they did not do often. As the creature approached their position, Beverly heard quiet sounds of panic. Keep your heads, she thought. The beasts were not pack animals, but a cry from one of them would attract many more.
A shot thundered when the pterodactyl was just within range. Beverly swore under her breath. The beast had not yet seen them. The shot missed, and the creature turned in their direction. Beverly watched it scan the cliff face. Its gaze passed right by them. It continued closer, and one of the troopers, Templeton, Beverly thought, cried out and fired. Her shot also missed, but was quickly followed by a thunderous volley. The pterodactyl’s wings folded, visible holes showing in the in the leathery membrane, and it plummeted downward.
“Move! Move! Move!” Lewis shouted from the rear, and Beverly started up the path as fast as the unsure footing allowed. Shady was already a dozen paces ahead. As the native passed between the cliff face and an outcropping, Beverly spied another pterodactyl approaching.
“Rear guard, ready weapons,” Lewis cried from some distance back. Beverly looked to see the last five troopers and Lewis aiming their rifles at the airborne predators. Just as she joined the native guide at the outcropping, their shots rang out.
There was a piercing cry, and Beverly knew that they were in trouble. The creature was calling to its peers. The patrol would be swarmed soon and would be picked off easily hugging the cliff. She scanned the way ahead of them, and noted that they were only a short distance from the top.
“Point guard,” Beverly shouted to the troopers nearest her, “ready weapons to cover the rear! The rest to the top!” She nodded to Cathaway, who saluted crisply, and then ran after Shady who was already disappearing over the lip.
TO BE CONTINUED…