Bodil lowered the glasses, staring at Ellie.
She was about to say something but just then, from way overhead came the sound of a crackling thunder and the bleachers behind her erupted into cheering.
A glance at the crowd showed Bodil that all attention seemed to be directed to the left and down the avenue of aircraft, whoever it was they belonged to,
towards the way she and Victor had just come from. Bodil followed their gaze, looking vaguely upwards. She expected to see, something.
Vertibirds? She had seen huge ones that could carry many tons of cargo.
The noise, though, suggested something other, maybe the big brother of the flying wing design she had seen float past her window in her dream.
However, when it did come into view, slowly descending and following the line of the broad avenue towards them, the sight of it exceeded her expectations in the spine tingling,
jaw dropping way that, up until now, had been reserved for the best of the best archaeological finds.
Getting over the original wtf moment, it took a few seconds for the professor to determine the scale of the thing coming towards them.
Her brain was telling her that it had to be a hundred metres in length at least,
which made it twice as long as any commercial airliner she knew of and much bigger than the biggest of the vertibirds. But it wasn't just the length of the aircraft that tingled her tingly bits.
If it was a hundred metres long then it was easily forty metres wide and twenty metres high. And it was wingless. She had no idea how it was even flying.
Whatever the technology was, it was beyond her.
Bodil managed to drag her eyes away long enough to turn to Ellie, as if for confirmation that what she was seeing was real. Ellie, though, sat stony faced.
A thin, tight lipped mouth under the blank black stare of her ever present sunglasses. At that moment Bodil would have given anything to see the other woman's eyes.
To get some idea of what she was feeling. She turned her attention back to the approaching aircraft.
Now the slowly moving bulk of the thing was so close that Bodil could actually feel its presence. Like some great whale from the oceans, it floated above them.
The crowd behind Bodil had gone quiet now, awed into silence by its closeness.
The white hull shone in the sunlight and, what Bodil had first assumed to be broad stripes of contrasting black paint that ran most the length of the fuselage,
were revealed to be heavily tinted 'glass'. Bodil's breath caught in her throat as she made out the dim shapes of people behind the glass.
The whole effect reminded Bodil of nothing less than a cruise ship approaching a dockside.
But instead of tugs nudging the great white hull Bodil saw crackling blue cones of electric fire flickering on and off along its length.
The forward momentum diminished and the whole ship floated downwards as the bow edged into the area of the vacant square, directly in line with the stairs of the presidential stand.
Then there was a loud hiss and the whine of motors and three enormous landing legs slowly extended and kissed the concrete. The ship had berthed.
Cheering erupted again behind Bodil and, across the square, the presidential stand, too, joined in the excited applause.
Dozens of figures now began to emerge from the squat concrete buildings to the west and south of the square and run to the ship.
Vehicles raced across the concrete and the base of the docked vessel was soon surrounded by a cloud of service personnel taking care of the needs of the new arrival.
As the applause and the cheering subsided, Bodil turned to Ellie.
"This," She waved a hand in the direction of the leviathan. "That, is incredible."
"It's certainly impressive."
"Impressive? I've never seen anything like it. Who built it?"
Ellie drained her water glass and waved it in the air.
"I believe it was built by a company called Saud-Kruger. You won't have heard of them."
The waiter appeared and Ellie asked for a beer. He turned to Bodil. The unfolding events called for something considerably stronger than water.
"Whiskey, please. A large one."
The waiter disappeared and Bodil was about to ask another of the many questions that were starting to build up behind her teeth. But Ellie was no longer looking at her.
She was looking towards where the front landing strut led down from under the bow of the ship to the ground. She was smiling too.
Bodil looked. At fifty metres away, and in the shade of the hull it was difficult to make out the figures descending the steps that were integrated into the structure of the strut.
She reached for her binoculars and brought them to bear.
The electronics of the binoculars compensated for the variable light quality around the targeting reticule.
"By the Mother's shiny silk knickers... What is that?"
Although Bodil was intrigued by the procession of colourfully clad men and women descending from the belly of the ship sized aircraft,
the optically magnified and electronically enhanced image settled on a creature that was easily as tall as Ellie's bodyguard Gregor and every bit as impressively muscled.
But, though it stood upright like a man the, whatever it was, was covered in a thick grey-blue fur that shimmered and flowed as the creature moved.
Bodil could see no chain, no collar even, but suggestions of clothing decorated various parts of its apparently feline body. This interpretation was in no way diminished by the head.
Eyes, Jaw, ears. All very cat like. Bodil's best guess was that this was some hitherto unknown mutation from one of the still-being-rediscovered parts of the world.
a flash of animated whiteness in the lower field of her binocular's vision distracted her attention from the exotic looking beast now standing at the foot of the steps and looking around.
She tried to bring the glasses to bear on what had caused it but is was moving too fast.
Ellie's terse warning made Bodil give up on the glasses. It took a second for her unaided vision to refocus on the thing streaking towards them across the concrete.
She just had time to register white fur, long lithe limbs and the upright, forward pointing ears of a predator before Gregor's bulk intervened.
There was a high pitched snarling yowl as the charging animal leapt.
Gregor's upper half took the brunt and his flailing arms desperately tried to contain the lighting fast movements of white furred sinew that climbed and twisted all over his chest,
his back and his shoulders.
Bodil's seat crashed backwards as she desperately tried to put as much space and as much table between her and the fight.
It was only when she was looking around for an escape route through the bleachers that her shocked brain started to take in the fact that the crowd weren't screaming, but laughing.
And that Ellie, her dark mood gone, was clapping her hands in apparent glee like a little girl who'd just won a pony.
Just then Gregor, his suit rumpled and his earpiece dangling, plonked the still agitated animal down on the table.
Despite having a body over a metre long, four powerful looking limbs and a tail that swished and twitched and coiled its own almost metre length,
Gregor held it down with one hand while he used the other to pick up the half full jug of iced water.
For a moment Bodil thought he was going to smash it down on the creature's skull but instead he just held it a few centimetres above its head. There was a warning inflection in Gregor's voice.
"Hen a chiewu Poppy. Di ma hen a mah-ey. Ma hen a mah-ey!"
The animal stopped moving at once. Even the tail stopped. The ears went down flat to its head. The response was an almost keening wail.
"Hen na a mah-ey Poppee!"
Bodil stared. Never taking her eyes off the white-furred beast, she sidestepped closer to Ellie.
"Did... Did it just, talk?"
Ellie took Bodil's hand and gave it a little squeeze.
"It's okay professor. Yes, she just asked Gregor not to pour the water on her head."
Ellie leaned in closer to the now very cowed looking creature on the table.
"Poppy? It's lovely to see you again, but what did we say about jumping on people?"
Bodil doubted the feline ears could get any flatter but it tried.
"Ad et ba..."
"English please Poppy."
The golden eyes scrunched up in concentration.
"Poppee not to do that only some."
"Good girl." Ellie flicked a glance at Gregor who put the jug down and then slowly let go of his captive.