Walking up a set of marble-like white steps towards the Chief Curator’s residence, Oliver was hand-in-hand with Fynn after they had left the executive transport. Their evening with the Risian leader was just starting and Oliver couldn’t deny the fact that it continued to be an impressive array of high-quality service from their hosts. Speaking with Leonov earlier on that day, he had sought her counsel on meeting with the Risian leader. Both agreed it was worth the opportunity, as long as Oliver didn’t commit Earth to anything that would get them into hot water back home.
Both Risian suns were now settling down on the horizon, as such the tropical evening was beginning. The sweet aroma that was present on Risa continued to bring a calm atmosphere. The steps that the human couple were taking were flanked on either side by numerous lit candles and a stream of water that headed out into a nearby fountain and pond feature that was located at the main gates of the property.
Wearing extremely thin silk shirts (Oliver in navy blue and Fynn in a deep dark maroon), white three quarter length trousers (that were skin-tight) along with open-toed sandals, the couple appeared almost Risian in their appearance. The fact that Risians were not too keen on buttons had not evaded them either, their shirts were done up halfway, revealing their bare chests as intended by the design. Fynn had commented back at the place they were staying that the Risian people appeared to have jamaharon on the brain all of the time, even with their fashion.
Finally reaching the main doors they were greeted by what they guessed were servants for the Chief Curator, both of them were women and wore little clothing too. As part of the greeting, they sprayed both men with what smelt like a sort of mild zesty perfume and proceeded to place a loose silver chain around both of their necks. “All that is ours is yours.” They said before walking both men through to the main hallway and into a large state-like room. Waiting for them at the bottom of a large and wide staircase was a Risian man that wore similar clothing to them, while Captain Jarandis was by his side. Wearing a more formal evening gown, she wore her hair up in a large beehive-like style and had a lot of jewellery on too.
Jarandis started by making formal introductions between the two parties.
“Captain Campbell, First Lieutenant Trommler, welcome to my home.” Chief Curator Kevis said with a huge grin as he extended his hand toward them.
Oliver wanted to blink away at the brightly white his teeth were. Smiling at him, Oliver and Fynn walked up to them and shook their hand. Oliver was now getting over his astonishment at how just beautiful the Risian people were. Kevis had short brown hair that was styled into a sort of quiff, his chiselled jawline could probably break through the Endeavour’s hull plating and if that wasn’t strong enough then his huge muscular frame would do it. Noticing his husband was also almost gawking over the Risian leader, Oliver cleared his throat to give Fynn a verbal dash of cold water to focus on their task here. “Chief Curator Kevis, thank you for inviting us to your home this evening.”
“All that is ours is yours,” Kevis said in his deep husky voice with his winning personality. “When I heard we had a celebrity among our guests, I was eager to have you join us. Jarandis spoke very highly about you and your crew’s efforts in saving her.”
“I’m not sure we would go as far to say we’re celebrities, but we were pleased to render help to your people,” Oliver said smiling at Jarandis. “We’ve certainly appreciated the hospitality you’ve shown us in return though.”
“We certainly have,” Fynn confirmed. “The Nuvian masseurs you sent over this afternoon were extremely…flexible and accommodating with our needs.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Jarandis returned.
“Gentlemen, why don’t we start dinner and see what else the evening brings us?” Kevis suggested and then proceeded to gesture towards another room that had a large circular table.
Entering the room as a group, Oliver and Fynn found that one side of it was opened to the large gardens that surrounded the chief curator’s residency. What looked like another water feature at first glance turned out to be a pool instead. It was filled with an almost clear, white liquid. Fynn shot Oliver a worried look, showing he was hoping their hosts were expecting them to join them for a swim or any other water-based activity.
After being seated down together, both Oliver and Fynn faced Kevis and Jarandis. The first course of their meal came out and it appeared to be a salad of sorts. Drinks were handed to them and they were given a glass each of a Risan mai-tai, Kevis went on to make a toast to his guest and the future of relations between Earth and Risa. In the corner of the room a young Risan man, who was barely wearing much, was playing gentle music on a Risan lute.
“So Captain Campbell,” Kevis said as he started to tuck into the salad, “may I call you Oliver?”
“Please,” Oliver returned before he used the fork-like silverware to put what looked like an orange leaf of lettuce into his mouth.
“That is very gracious of you,” Kevis spoke, “I hear from Jarandis that you led the efforts on behalf of your people to formalise an alliance with the Kreetassans and you did so in such a short amount of time. That is impressive, the Kreetassans are a difficult people when it comes to diplomacy and wanting to relax.”
Appreciating the compliment, Campbell finished his mouthful and answered back. “We were fortunate enough that our actions in rendering aid to them after the Romulans brutally attacked them made them consider the need for such an arrangement. So far our partnership has brought further stability.”
“It also helped that we agreed to be involved in some ritual of theirs that required us to show them who we were as a people,” Fynn added. “Their leader pretty much put the two of us back together.”
“You were both injured?” Jarandis asked, confused and concerned at Fynn’s words.
Chuckling somewhat at the misunderstanding, Oliver cleared up what had happened and how the Kreetassans required him to show what type of man he was and how important they viewed partnerships. He explained how the mission had brought him and Fynn back together as a couple. “Chancellor Manazol was very convincing and I’d like to consider him a good friend of ours now.”
“I hope you’d consider Risa and myself one of them,” Kevis said straight away before he took a sip from his beverage. “We are keen to request military aid from Earth.”
“Military help?” Oliver questioned. “I wasn’t expecting to hear that tonight.”
Kevis placed his glass down and looked at both men. “Risa is not like any of your worlds, it’s not like Vulcan, Andoria or Kreetassa. We do not possess weapons to defend ourselves or the people who want to wage a war, but we are not fools either captain. We know that with the war raging between your people and the Romulans, we will be dragged into it.”
“The attack against my ship is only the beginning.” Jarandis commented.
“So are you looking to join the Coalition of Planets?” Fynn asked outright.
Sitting up more straight in his chair, Kevis looked between Jarandis and his guest before answering. “No, as I said the Risian people are not war-like. We do not possess an army. Our safety ministry is the closest thing we have and even still their primary objectives are providing security for our guests.” Kevis spoke candidly. “We cannot join your coalition as we do not have the resources to be a part of what your alliance stands for in regards to security.”
“Are you referring to the mandate, that ‘an attack on one is an attack on all’?” Oliver checked.
“Indeed, we would not be able to fulfil that, but what I am hoping is we could perhaps work together on other matters.” Kelvis offered. “Our weather control technology and our understanding and research of atmosphere science, like meteorology and climatology, outshines anything from any of your worlds. We’d be happy to share all of our knowledge in these areas and others.”
“And in return, what Earth and its coalition partners provide military aid packages to Risa?” Oliver asked as he leaned forward to take his beverage. “That’s a lot from our end Chief Curator, we’d be diverting vital resources to your planet that could be used to end the war with the Romulans sooner.”
“We’d be prepared to provide access to our repair and maintenance yards as well as our numerous and first-class health system.” Kevis was now trying to negotiate with Oliver. “You must understand and appreciate our dilemma. My role is Chief Curator, not President, Chancellor or Prime Minister. My people opted for the title of Curator as we wanted our government to reflect that those in leadership roles remember they are the keepers, the guardians and caretakers of what we have built here on Risa. My administration cannot be the last one and I cannot be the one who ends up surrendering my world to the Romulans.”
“Do you honestly believe that it will come to that?” Fynn asked in a baffled tone. He couldn’t believe that the Risan leadership genuinely believed that they were next as a target for the Romulan war machine.
“How can we not be when they have done so much damage to so many other worlds, most of them have been conquered. In time they will come for us, my people are not equipped or able to defend what is ours.” Kevis admitted. “Surrender may be our only option.”
“Maybe not.” Oliver quickly replied.
“I do not follow,” Kevis said back looking at Oliver with a confused expression. “What else could we do? I cannot see the Klingons wanting to come to our aide and the Vulcans or the Andorians are not interested in our practices. The United Earth Commonwealth is the only power in the region that shares similar values with us. Hence my proposal.”
“Our people are probably more alike than those you speak of, Chief Curator, but I think you don’t give your people the credit they deserve.” Oliver shared before explaining his idea further. “You said it yourself, your scientific research is extremely advanced. It’s what has made your planet the idyllic place it is. Use that to your advantage.”
“I don’t follow,” Jarandis stated. “How can we use our weather control technology against the Romulans?”
“By using it against them, don’t make Risa an easy target you are making it out to be,” Oliver remarked. “You turn the weather control system and all of your science against them so they see that if they did try to take your world from you they would find it a hard location to keep a foothold in. Make your stand on the beaches your guests relax on, fight them back with your knowledge of your world and that will be your advantage. If you can create a perfect sunny day, then surely your systems can be made to create powerful thunderstorms that cause trouble for their vessels to land any transports or powerful cyclones in the upper atmosphere that make it difficult to select a target. You and your guests may have to endure a bit of rain here and there, but that’s one consequence of keeping your homes.”
“The Romulans, to date, have not shown any interest in a world which can cause them more problems. They want worlds that will actually help their war machine,” Fynn indicated. “But that’s not to say they wouldn’t attack or try something.”
“Your proposal is interesting, but we do not have the minds or the experience to consider how to use our technology against them in the manner you’re speaking of,” Kevis countered, “we wouldn’t know where to start.”
“We could start your off.” Oliver offered. “Perhaps that could be the beginning of our partnership. Long-term, we may not be able to provide full public backing but I’m sure we could find a way around it.”
“Perhaps for some time, we need to consider reducing our galactic profile with our neighbours and guests,” Jarandis said. “If it means saving Risa then a reduction in our tourism may be required for a short-term purpose.”
“And I’ll do what I can to speak to our military leaders in seeing if we could avoid bringing further conflicts near to your space,” Oliver added. “How does that all sound?” He looked straight at Kevis.
“I think it’s a start,” The Risan leader said with a slight nod, “let’s continue with these ideas as we start our next course in our feast. I think we have a lot to discuss, plus we would be bad hosts if we did not treat you to an enjoyable reyamilk soak.” Kevis gestured to the pool behind his guests.
Oliver and Fynn looked at one another sheepish.
“How does one enjoy such a soak?” Fynn asked.
“Without clothes,” Jarandis replied, “obviously.”
“Obviously.” Oliver repeated and looked at Fynn with the same concern his husband had plastered across his face. “When in Risa…” He whispered before they returned to their meal after a deep breath.
“Captain’s starlog, April Eighteenth, Twenty-One-Fifity-Seven, we are preparing to depart from Risa after a relaxing four days and four nights visiting the various resorts. Our time with the Risans has helped further with relations between our worlds, perhaps more than I had expected. To support further continued relations, my chief engineer and chief armoury officer have volunteered to remain on Risa as cultural attachés. Their expertise will greatly aid the Risian people as a way of exchanging ideas between our two people. Starfleet Command has ordered for the Endeavour to return home at maximum warp at once to discuss the latest developments in the war.”