Lane was surprised at how big the plane part of the ship actually was. She and the captain walked through what felt to her endless corridors which once they had left the residential parts were all metal walls, pipes, thick ropes of multicoloured wires. An oil refinery looked festive in comparison. For a change the passed through a large cargo hold that was mostly empty. There were a few crates and metal containers there fastened to the floor with thick cargo belts. Captain Idris interrupted their search of Monica to have a look at them. She asked Lane to help her with it. She was to look for any kind of damage. Especially bullet holes. Scratches were fine but as soon as you could look inside she should tell her. They spent the next twenty minutes doing a rather convincing re-enactment of two very forgiving art-critics visiting the worlds most boring contemporary art exhibitions.
"Did you find anything?" asked the captain.
"Not even a scratch really." said Lane.
"Great. Let's try to find your friend again."
They continued locking for Monica finally finding her in one of the upper decks. At least Lane thought they were in an 'upper' deck. They had climbed a ladder and some stairs to get here but by now she had lost all sense of direction. They might as well have left the plane part a long time ago and where now walking through some strange inner sanctum hidden away in the heart of the Zeppelin.
Monica had a two large gas bottles slung over her shoulder a red one and a blue one, welding something in the ceiling above her being very careful to not stand directly under the seam. It looked as she had not noticed them approaching, the light of the welder was blinding surprisingly noisy. Before they could come close to touching distance she turned towards them, moving the welding mask up while holding the welder it's pilot flame dancing playfully in front of the main in their general direction. While Lane was still deciding if that was a good sign. Monica let the welder sink.
"There were bullet holes up here?" Idris asked.
"No." said Monica, "The hull was cracking here. So I closed the cracks and just to make sure I added some reinforcing metal strips. I'm not an expert but if this was a body that," she pointed at the ceiling, "was in need of some stitches."
Captain Idris looked up and shook her head. "We need to get her to a proper airport soon or she won't be the Unconquered Sun for much longer. Can you keep working on the hull?"
"I can. Most damage can be patched up easily. There a few bits were I will need some help. I also found several broken wires which you might want to check. Those you will have to repair yourself though, this is already outside my field of expertise," she gestured to the ceiling, "and the only thing I know about life wires is to never touch them."
"Don't worry about that and continue closing all the holes. You're doing good work. Thanks."
Monica just shrugged flipped her mask down again to continue her work.
"I can help you with the cables." said Lane.
"You can?" said the Captain.
"As long as it is nothing to intricate but I did all the wiring in my apartment my self, I can even do some soldering." Lane said her pride making her almost an inch taller.
Captain Idris arched the eyebrow under her eye patch to creepy effect. "Very well then, I think I have work for you too." She led Lane around again until the reached a very small utility closet which contained tools. The captain pulled out a tool belt and started handing Lane all manners of pliers, screwdrivers, a voltmeter, insulating tape in different sized and other things what would make working with wires easier.
"Do you know how to reconnect a co-axial cable?" Idris asked.
"Are you trying to insult me?" Lane asked back.
A few corridors later they were standing in front of a bunch wires ripped out of a wall sending merry sparks all over the place. Lane examined the damage from a safe distance. After the captain had shown her where to find the circuit breakers she left Lane alone with her task telling her that she would be back in about half an hour. She also asked her if she knew how to get back to her quarters, when Lane shook her head Idris told her to stay there and wait for her to return in case she was done faster than that.
She wasn't. There were to many cables that looked very much the same and she had to rip out quite a few of them just to see where they came from. So when captain Idris returned she was done with the most obvious and some more dubious options and asked the captain for help with the trickier ones.
The next few hours she spend with wire repair in several spots in the ship. When ever she was done the captain would return sooner or later and take her to the next bit. The first task was thankfully the hardest. She had not done stuff like this for a very long time. She remembered how Martin had gone through several shades and flavours of hysteria when she had connected their new electric stove. 'Bad memory. Bad, bad memory' she thought deciding instead to focus on learning some basic electric engineering from her mother and watching her work building little controller units for the house. That memory made her smile making her work all the more pleasurable for it.
"Ho long will that take to finish?" captain Idris asked who had somehow materialised right behind Lane startling her enough to drop the heavy pair of pliers she had been using to cut off the frayed end of a thick bundle of wires. It fell on her foot. Of course. It hurt. A lot. After she was done screaming and hopping around like an idiot she faced the captain who was pretending that nothing had happened. "This one is easy, just a lot of work. Maybe 20 minutes?"
"Right. I will send Monica to look for you in 15 minutes in case you are done early. The sun is about to set, we need to hurry. I'll be in the bridge we need to fly into the temple."
"Why can't we just stay outside?"
"Right now we are taking the smallest risk. Most sane people would never enter the valley of the Hunter in Daylight during the day. In the night the temple is safe as far as I can tell. We will go and hide inside. If any of our friends are looking for us they might have a peak in here after nightfall. They will probably not dare to enter the temple and even if they do we have the advantage. The Unconquered Sun will be well camouflaged in there we also have to option to fly almost silently at least compared to the helicopters who would be able to come after us. The most important part is that we need to repair as much of the Envelope as we can and for most of that work we need something to stand on outside of the ship. Something that we will only find inside the temple. Now work. Chop chop. The day is always over." Idris turned around walking away not even waiting for an answer.
Lane kept working on her cables thinking unhappy thoughts remembering the dark opaque colour of the light of her little torch. She suspected that that was the equivalent of a Geiger counter not making a crackling noise but instead starting to hum the tune of Once Upon a Time in the West.
"Are you done?" asked Monica. Lane shrieked another smaller pair of electronic hands slipping from her grasp, this time she jumped back a bit so that instead of her foot only her dignity was hit. "Why," Lane asked, "do you all keep doing that!"
"Force of habit I guess?" said Monica.
"No it's not." said Lane. "I always heard you approaching in the corridors back in the office, I can actually tell you apart from other people just by your footsteps."
"This here feels like a mission." Monica said. "So I guess that triggers my training, especially when walking through metal corridors. They make so much noise if you aren't careful."
"Aren't they?" said Lane. "How great that you instead chose to go all silent running and scare the shit out of me."
"Sorry? I will try to be more hippoish in my walking habits the next time I approach you?"
"It's OK. Just try not to startle me like that."
"So how long?" asked Monica.
"Preferably until the day I die." said Lane.
"No I meant how long until you are done."
"Oh." Lane looked at the wires. "Not long only two left. A couple of minutes."
"Cool. I'll wait."
Lane felt Monica staring over her shoulder. At first it annoyed her having that other presence lurking behind her, but this was not the gaze of someone waiting to let go some snide remark. It was a gaze of curiosity. So Lane started to explain what she was doing. She was half way done with the last cable, having just fitted a short piece of wire to it after she had cut of the frayed ends when the turbines of the Unconquered Sun came to life. She paused for a moment but then kept going just raising her voice so that Monica could hear her over the noise of the engines.
When they walked towards the bridge they felt the ship start rising slowly and then shaking slightly when the earth anchors broke free of the ground. Reaching the bridge they saw that the ship had covered about half the way to the temple.
"You haven't missed anything interesting yet." said captain Idris who was steering the ship using the large ship's wheel again. "Dusk is almost over, as long as it'S not proper night we don't need to hurry."
Lane craned her neck looking out of the window trying to catch a glimpse of the sky above. "How do we know that night has fallen."
Captain Idris grinned broadly. "You will know. Trust me." she said.
As the Unconquered Sun approached the temple the structure kept expanding until everything they could see out of the bridge's window was a forest of columns. Now that they were high in the air Lane could also see that inside the temple was filled with giant statues, platforms, stairs, all manner of structures. Some of the pillars inside looked lie they had buildings carved into them complete with windows and sometimes entire terraces of houses carved into them. While other columns had buildings growing out of them, sometimes like tiny barnacles on the hull of a super freighter, sometimes resembling the crowns of cubist trees. The temple looked like it was filled with villages and cities stretching in all three dimensions. The styles in which they were built were wildly divergent, the only things they had in common was that they were all built out of the same pale yellow stone and that there was no sign of life anywhere.
As the ship approached the outer limits of the temple captain Idris slowed it down until it came to a stop, drifting ever so slightly back.
"Why are we waiting?" Monica asked.
"It's not safe yet." Idris said. "It is no proper night."
"Is there some kind of secret signal we are waiting for?" said Lane.
"You could say that. Yes." said captain Idris.
They waited floating in front of the temple as the remnants of sunlight slowly disappeared from the valley, taking the view of the temple with them. It was when Lane wasn't sure any more if she could still see the building in front of her or was just imagining things that the temple reappeared. Every surface of it started to glow in a rippling golden light.
"Night," Idris said, "has fallen." she pushed the throttle forward the Unconquered Sun lurched forward gaining speed by the second vanishing inside the Temple of the Hunter in Daylight.