The Light of Venus

Interstellar jewel thief, Logan Bishop, is captured after stealing a legendary gemstone, when he must escape a ship of angry Venusians and a double-dealing agent, and return the prize to his beautiful but unforgiving client back on Earth.

—EXCERPT—

Logan recovered his blaster and retrieved the Light of Venus from Yuri’s pouch.  Having no place to carry it, he stuck the gem down the front of his under-daks, safely tucked away alongside his crown jewels.

He staggered through the ship, stumbled onto the bridge, and collapsed into the control seat.  Fighting to draw breath, he addressed the ship’s main computer.

“Victoria!  Fire up … the engines.  Blow the … C02 and give me … some bloody air.  Get us … out of here.”

“No worries, mate,” replied the ship’s computer.  Its sensual, feminine voice was soothing, and a bit naughty.

The ship’s lights flared on; the computer banks twinkled to life.  Air rushed through the vents, flooding the ship with sweet, life-giving oxygen.  He breathed deep.  His vision began to clear as his mind shrugged off its dream-like stupor.

“That was bloody close.”

As the Queensland Ripper rolled toward the Venusian vessel’s huge bay doors, the automated system slid the doors open.  The Ripper vibrated as its engines flared to life, propelling the ship into the safety of open space.

Logan exhaled and stood up, rolling his shoulders.  “Bring us back to Earth, luv.  I’m off for a few coldies and a cut lunch.”  Before he could draw another breath, an alarm sounded.

“Crikey again.  What now?”

“Visitors,” Victoria announced.

“Well, tell them to bugger off.”

The external monitors flickered on.  A blocky green ship, looking like a huge wedge of moldy cheese with antennas, appeared on the aft view screen.

“Venusian war thingo,” said the computer.  “Estimated crew ninety-something.  Weapons include—”

“I don’t want to know.  That reminds me—any luck with the engine repairs, Vic?”

“Sorry, Logan.  I was shut down shortly after they beamed you away.  I did have time to run a diagnostic whatsit.”

“Yeah?  So what’s wrong?”

The computer hesitated.  “You’re not going to like it.”

“I don’t expect to like it.  Tell me anyway!”

“Well, the, er … starboard tri-lithium crystal.  It’s sort of—cracked, a bit.”

Logan’s heart sank into his boots.  “How much is ‘a bit’?”

“Enough.  We can’t outrun them.”

“I see.  I don’t suppose we have any spares.”

“Um … no.  It was that or beer, remember?”

“Fine,” Logan sighed.  “Triple the aft shields and divert everything else to the engines.  Try to zigzag or something.  I’ll see what I can do.”  Logan ran to the engine room, skidding into walls, the Light of Venus jostling around his nether regions.

The lights flickered as a barrage of photons hammered against the aft shield, rattling the ship.

The computer’s sultry voice called out, “Estimated shield breach ninety seconds.”

“You’re not zigging enough, Victoria!”

Clenching his teeth, Logan removed the shield casing from the starboard crystal.  A beam of white light entered the top of a clear, fist-sized gemstone, exiting the bottom in a triplet of emerald rays, which were then reflected into the engine’s core by a ring of mirrors.  A fine crack ran along the length of the crystal, causing one of the rays to flutter.

They were, in a word, buggered.

The lights dimmed, the ship vibrating under the roar of the Venusian onslaught.

“Thirty seconds to shield breach,” the computer stated, sounding miffed.  “I’m zigging, but it’s not bloody helping.”

Logan slumped against the wall, his hands clenched.  He wanted to scream!  After all his careful planning, artful tricks, and fancy footwork, to have the gem taken away—it was too much to accept.  Not to mention he’d probably be killed, rather than rewarded for his cleverness.

“I tried zagging a bit,” the computer announced brightly.  “And that seemed to help.  Revised breach forty-five seconds.”

“Congratulations.”

Perspiration ran down Logan’s face as the battered shields heated up.  His pants, for some reason, seemed even hotter—and Vladmira wasn’t even around.  He glanced down to see his breeches glowing in the area of his googlies.

“What the bloody hell?”

He reached inside and withdrew the Light of Venus, whose warm, multifaceted surface glowed, projecting a rippling cascade of rich blue hues.

Logan tipped his hat back and whistled.  Was the gem reacting to the ship’s energy beam?  He leaped to his feet, grabbed a pair of insulated tongs, and lifted the cracked crystal from its housing.  The ship slowed with a complaining whine.

“Fifteen seconds to shield breach, Logan.  Sorry it had to end this way.  It’s been fun, cobber.”

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