A little while later, the three men were sitting around a table holding mugs of a hot, sweet substance – tè-dolce,Leroy had called it. It was made from some kind of bean, and tasted a bit like tea with too much sugar in it. “A long, long time ago…” Patrick began.

“In a galaxy far, far away?” Lee asked.

“Not really, Earth is only a few light years away, and it’s in the same galaxy.”

“Oh.”

 

Patrick told of how his kind began on Earth, as humans, but had always longed to fly among the stars. Around the fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci constructed a machine so powerful it could fly into space: the world’s first rocket. He laboured and toiled to improve his designs, until, finally, he built a gigantic version of his device, which he called Starsailor. With it, he, and a group of other humans, flew to a planet not far from Alpha Centauri, the star system they were in. They founded a city, which they named Spazionazione, or space country. Over generations the city grew in size. Now it was thousands of times bigger than when it was created, and there were several other, smaller cities on neighbouring planets. “So many of our words and traditions are Italian, because Leonardo da Vinci founded our civilisation. In fact, tè-dolce actually means sweet tea!” Patrick finished.

 

“Wow, that’s a really interesting story!” Lee exclaimed, captivated.

Leroy answered, “Yes, I know. Sometimes I wish that I was there, on that very first spaceflight – just imagine the excitement, the anticipation…”

Patrick brought them both back to the present: “Enough dreaming, you two – we need a plan. Are you going to come with us, back to Spazionazione, Lee?”

“I suppose I should, since you people probably know a lot more about this planet, so if I carried on my mission as planned, I’d pretty much just be rediscovering information that has already been known for years. I’ll need to tell Mission Control about what’s happened first, though.,” replied Lee. “Ah, I’m afraid you’ll have to get permission from the King to do that,” Leroy announced.

“You have a king?” asked Lee.

“Yup, a descendant of da Vinci himself!”

“Right. So, we go to Spazionazione, ask the King for permission for me to communicate with Earth, then see what my people say. Ok?

Patrick looked at Leroy, “Sounds all right to me,” he said.

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