Author : Waldo van der Waal

The Boeing 747-400 sat glittering on the tarmac, resplendent in the blue-and-white colours of the Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij. The bold letters of KLM seemed almost too crisp against the rest of the pure white fuselage. From high above, the twin suns, Ttarp and Slorr, beat down on the gleaming skin of the majestic aircraft.

Commander Thgirw of the Second Historical Unit wandered around the ‘plane. His tentacles left a trail of slime as far as he ambled, together with a smell that would have had the humans that originally built the magnificent aeroplane retching in the gutters. “Orttkls, tktktk spee,” he bubbled towards his companion, who was clearly lower down the pecking order than the Commander. “Rroossi riwwasser,” came the reply. Thgirw bounced his rear-most tentacle up and down briefly, accepting his subordinate’s explanation.

Of course, there were no humans present at this auspicious presentation of the 747 aircraft, so continuing to report on the bubbles of the Atrrk Commander and his wingman is pointless. Had they been speaking English, however, the rest of their exchange would have gone something like this:

“Remind me again, Yentihw, where did we find this thing?” from the Commander.

“It was dug up, esteemed great tentacle, on the third orbiter from the star out in the boondocks,” came the reply.

“And how big was the artefact?”

“Approximately one four hundredth the size of the beast in front of you, Great Tentacle.”

“And you believe it to be a flying machine of some description?”

Yentihw looked uncertain, or rather, if you knew exactly what to look for, you would’ve realised that he was uncertain. But his answer was sure and clear:

“Our historians scoured the planet. We found many pieces that point to these machines being used as transport for the inhabitants of the long-dead planet. And as you yourself have said, it is our mission to understand the races that have perished.”

“Very well,” said the commander. “It doesn’t look anything like a flying machine to me, but if the people from that planet used it as such, and you were able to recreate the entire thing just from the small artefact, I am intrigued.”

Yentihw was clearly eager to please his boss: “Great Tentacle, this is a great moment for us. Bringing this machine back to life is proof that our studies, no, your studies, are worth it. It shows that we have a great deal to learn from those that came before us.”

The commander was clearly soothed by the words of his subordinate. He squished off to a safe distance, and reclined onto one of his tentacles. “And you are sure it will fly?” he asked finally.

Instead of answering, Yentihw waved a slimy tentacle towards the 747. Moments later the entire craft started shaking gently, as a low hum rolled over the Commander and his subordinate. The hum built into a high-pitched whine and seconds later the massive aircraft lurched vertically into the sky, and shot off over the horizon at nearly fourteen times the speed of sound. The commander cheered.

Even Yentihw allowed himself a small bubble of joy: “See, I told you it would fly.”

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