“Limoncello?” asked Lazaro as he proffered the carafe filled with the lemony sweet liquor.
Draeka sniffed and then licked his scaly lips. “Sssertainly my good sssir. Not too mussch. What isss the alcohol content?”
Lazaro smiled and said, “No more than twenty-eight percent ethanol. Perfectly compatible with Xichung biology. As is the citric acid with honey, which we both know your species absolutely loves.”
Taking the glass, Draeka took a sip and sighed sibilantly. “Aaah, esssquisssite!” He took a larger sip and then set the thin glass on the table. “I ssshouldn’t drink too mussch of this. Both the ethanol and sssucrose have intosssicating effectsss on my ssspecies. One would think that you were trying to get me drunk.” His slitted pupils looked accusingly at the human, who poured himself an ample amount of limoncello.
Sitting back, Lazaro looked out the window on Greenbeak Parish, a small town on the colony world of Rigi c, also known as New Pallas. It was a coastal town, on a world with only forty-six percent water. The brackish sea lolled onto the shores under a 7.85 m/s^2 gravitational acceleration. Desal plants busily converted the brine into salt and potable water. This little colony wouldn’t have existed otherwise. The lemons that went into the limoncello were hard won prizes turned into a liquor prized across a dozen worlds. Yet…
“We are at a bit of an impasse,” said Lazaro as he sipped his drink. “Our colony is doing well. We have six settlements that are slowly growing. They would grow faster if we had more potable water.” He took another sip, while Draeka watched him silently.
“If we had access to the poorest of rivers that flow from the interior of this continent…” he gestured broadly, “we would be able to grow much faster and produce much more in terms of trade goods. Something your people clamor for, I might add my dear Chamberlain Draeka.”
Governor-General Lazaro Delmarr leaned forward, proffering the carafe filled with the honey yellow liquid, “What is it your government wants from us?”
Chamberlain Draeka sipped his limoncello and smiled…
What does Chamberlain Draeka want for himself and the natives of New Pallas? Access to human markets? Access to humans? (Of course that’s such a stereotypical a trope, we can safely ignore it… right?) How technological are the Xichung? Do they hold their own against the humans or is it that they survive because they pose no threat to them? Questions that need answers.
Written by John H. Reiher Jr.