Matt sat in the gunning booth of the large zeppelin Decisive. He looked out from the booth into the perfect blue sky. The booth was located on the very top of the zeppelin and it was open to the elements. Matt was sitting in a metal seat welded to a large gun. The gun was operated using levers and a joystick that were in front of the seat. A primitive aimer was positioned about eye level. It wasn't much use, but it gave you an idea whee you were shooting. Most of the gun was coated in rust and creaked when it was rotated. The Decisive was a very old airship that was used as a warship many years ago.
A voice came from a rusted tube to Matt's left. The voice was nasally and familiar. "Hey Matt. We're venturing into a minefield thanks to our great navigator. It's coming up on the bow. Make sure to get them before they get too close," the voice said. It was Ed's voice. He was in the Bridge and overwatching the student navigators. These green navigators were on this voyage to learn.
"Alright," answered Matt. He grabbed the worn joystick and whipped the gun to face the bow. The zeppelin and its technology still amazed Matt. The body of it, coated in a tough fiber, housed room after room of helium filled cells. The tough, gray fiber was very hard to penetrate and took a long time to make. Warsips were hard to come by these days.
All at once, the before flawless sky erupted in a shining blast. The mine balloons had appeared. They were metal magnettic mines attached to a balloon that kept them floating. The Sun deflecting off the mines blinded Matt. He slipped his scratched up and worn goggles over his eyes. They blocked the light bouncing off the mines and gave him some eye protection. Now that he was ready, he waited for the order to fire.
"Let it go!" came a bellow from another metal pipe to Matt's right. It was the second mate and gunning instructor, Rick Fifer. Matt yanked on the trigger welded to the joystick and felt the big barrel begin to rumble and vibrate. Even though they were impossible to see, Matt could imagine the projectiles flying from the muzzle of the old gun. He watched where he was aiming and saw a quick burst of flame as the bullets entered into a mine's balloon. The mine then plummeted to Earth. There was no worry about civilian casualties because they were flying over water. Matt could hear other guns going off all around the Airship. Other men in their bunkers were taking aim and shooting down the rusted mines. Matt leaned back and casually fired his large weapon, listening to the music of the guns firing in unison. The music would be randomly punctuated by a loud crack as a balloon exploded and helium ignited.
Suddenly, he gun stopped firing and the music disappeared to be replaced by fear. He yanked again on the lever which served as the trigger and again was met with silence. The gun couldn't have run out of bullets, he had refilled the cartridge that morning! He got out of his metal chair and grabbed a wrench leaning against a wall in the corner of his bunker. He stck the end of it against the muzzle of the antique gun and twisted. The end was rusted and the wrench couldn't take it off. The wrench would just pop off and send a shower of rust into the wind. Matt grunted and tossed the wrench away. He looked up in frustration and saw a mine drifting lazily in the sky. the music of the guns had stopped and no sound came to his ear. There was nothing but him and the mine in the world. It floated slowly over him. For a second it was framed against the Sun and sparkled beautifully. Very slowly, almost invisibly to the naked eye, it slowed its course until it came to a complete stop about 50 yards from Matt's bunker. Then it began to come toward him.
Matt could only watch in horror as the floating mine got closer and closer. It seemed to be attracted to his gun. He bent down and picked up the wrench he had tossed aside before. He raised it and beat the barrel of the gun. Then he tried the trigger again. Nothing. He slammed the wrench against the barrel again. Nothing! He screamed in frustration and threw the wrench at the mine. It fell miserably short. Now he could only do one thing.
He turned away from his mangled gun and jumped onto the ladder in the corner. The ladder disappeared into the floor and into the confines of the flying zeppelin. He quickly and expertly slid down the ladder and landed with a clatter on the catwalk. His boots clanged and banged on the metal grate floor of the catwalk that was suspended 60 feet from the floor. He heard a very loud screech of sliding metal on metal. Then the explosion came. It picked Matt up and launched him through the air and into a hard unforgiving titanium door. The doors were the most advanced thing on the Decisive. He lay there for a second, breathing deeply. Since it had hit his bunker, there couldn't have been any helium cell damage. He sat up and propped himself up against the door. Sunlight was streaming through the large truck-sized hole in the tough gray fiber. He could hear wind whistling through the hole and the loud clang of metal boots coming from behind the titanium door. Matt got up and walked slowly, in a daze, the the destroyed area. He saw bits and pieces of his destroyed gun strewn across the catwalk.
Suddenly the door Matt had been leaning against was thrown open and six men came streaming in. They were holding five by seven inch bags that Matt knew contained sowing needles and extra fiber. These men were the Needlers. They fixed destroyed portons of fabric around the airship. They were known for their rough and worn hands. Most of the men bumped Matt out of the way in their hurry to get to the hole. All except one.
"Hey Matt. What happened here?" asked Jim, one of the Needlers. He had dark brown eyes and dirty blonde curly hair. Some whiskers protruded from his chin.
"My gun jammed and I couldn't fix it. Unfortunately, amine got a lock on me. It's just my luck," Matt answered with a shake of his head. Everyone who knew him knew he didn't have very good luck. The taunting started when he had gotten stuck in a porthole. To get out, he had had to be stripped.
"It's fine. We haven't had anything to do recently," Jim answered. Then: "I heard the Captain wants you." Jim quickly hurried over to do his task.
Matt stood outside the door of the Bridge and took several deep breaths. It usually wasn't good to get called by the Captain. Especially since he had just gotten some of the ship blown up. He put his sweaty hand on the handle and slowly turned it. Captain Roy Weathers was standing right inside the door.
"Hello Matt. Gotten into a little trouble I see," he said immediately on Matt entering.
Matt nodded and looked away.
"Well these things happen," he continued. "How would you like to put down in Lionsgate City? It's just ahead and we are going to need to resupply."
Matt smiled and nodded agin, this time happily. His and a lot of the rest of the crew's parents lived in Lionsgate.
Captain Weathers smiled back and said, "But there needs to be order on this ship, so yo are going to be on Unload duty when we get there. Now go back to your quarters and get some rest."
Matt left the Bridge feeling like he got off easy. Now it was time to wait.