St George and the Dragon

St George and the Dragon

I recently came across an old computer file on my PC, and realized it was the second draft of my first screen play.
The following is the first sequence that was dropped when I completely revised the next draft, switching the protagonist from George Whitefield to a young fatherless chimneysweep.
It is based upon a true incident in the life of the 18th Century Evangelist. Hope you enjoy it.

(Apologies in advance for the odd look to the formatting. I have not yet found a fix on WordPress).

FADE IN:

EXT.  A SCOTTISH MOOR – DAY   (1741)

Two figures on horseback crawl at a snail’s pace across the empty moor.

IAN

I dinna think you shoulda given money to that
there widow, Mr. Whitefield.

GEORGE

Come now, Ian, if the good Lord makes us aware of someone
in distress we should  relieve them.

GEORGE AND IAN

The young clergyman and his older companion slow their mounts as the road at this point steepens.

IAN

I be a-thinkin’ that four shilling would ha’ done for her.
Perhaps three e’en.

GEORGE

Her creditor was suing for a guinea and six. Less would
not gain back her furniture for her.

IAN

So she said.

They stop and dismount to lead their horses up the hill.

AT THE TOP OF THE HILL

A HIGHWAYMAN sits astride a horse keeping watch from behind an outcropping. He has a fine tricorn hat and lace at his throat, but his coat is faded and tattered. His hand rests on one of two pistols jammed in his belt.

HALFWAY UP THE HILL

George and Ian stop to rest.

IAN
(Panting)

Did ye ever stop and think of the debt you were
a-owing yerself?

GEORGE

The thought of that debt never leaves me.

IAN

And it never will if you persist in giving money away. Ye wit well,
the Lord commands us to be good stewards.

Ian picks up the reins of his steed and walks it onward. George remains at a standstill and casts his eyes up to heaven.

GEORGE
(In a low voice)

Vindicate me, O Lord.

TOP OF THE HILL

The highwayman backs his mount deeper into the cover of the outcropping. The horse snorts and paws the ground.

He puts a steadying hand to her muzzle.

He screws his face up in the effort to hear his approaching prey.

George and Ian crest the hill and draw near to his hiding place.

He takes the reins in his teeth and with his pistols at the ready, kicks his mount into action.

The highwayman at once blocks their path, drops the reins and shouts:

HIGHWAYMAN
(With larcenous relish)

Stand and deliver.

George and Ian stand beside their mounts stupid with surprise.

HIGHWAYMAN

Give me your purses.

George draws his purse out.

It falls with a TINKLE at the feet of the highwayman’s horse.

HIGHWAYMAN

Damn your eyes.  Pick that up and give it me proper.

George walks over, picks it up and hands it to the highwayman.

HIGHWAYMAN
(To Ian)

I’ll have yours, and be quick about it.

Ian grudgingly takes out his purse and hands it to George who passes it up to the highwayman.

GEORGE

Will you spare us the price of a meal?

HIGHWAYMAN
(Laughs coarsely)

No, but I’m much obliged for the price of mine.

The highwayman spurs his horse around and gallops away.

A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD

George’s face, wreathed in a smile, beams at his friend.

GEORGE

It’s much better that our widow has the money
than that outlaw, wouldn’t you say?

Ian GRUMBLES an assent.

At the SOUND OF HOOVES they both look round. It’s the highwayman again.

George and Ian huddle behind their horses. The highwayman charges to a stop.

HIGHWAYMAN

I’ve decided that you will oblige me by trading coats.

George takes off his coat and hands it up to the highwayman.

GEORGE

You have much more need of the coat of righteousness.

HIGHWAYMAN

Save your sermons, parson.

The highwayman puts on the fine coat and tosses down his tattered one, turns his horse and gallops off.

LATER

On the road now nearing a village, George pulls the tattered coat closer about him to ward off the cold. The pair rides on in silence.

Ian turns his head at the SOUND OF GALLOPING HOOVES.

IAN

It’s him, again!  Ride for your life!

George and Ian kick their horses into a gallop, and streak towards the village.  The highwayman BELLOWS in anger at them to stop.

George and Ian reach the village and the highwayman, reins in his horse and shakes his fist in rage. Then turns and flees back down the road.

THE VILLAGE

The village’s single street is empty, only by the curl of smoke from each of the chimneys do we know that the village is inhabited.

George and Ian stand beside their mounts to catch their breath.

IAN

I was sure he was a-meaning to kill us that time.

GEORGE

Aye. Thank the Lord we were so close to this village.

Ian eyes his companion with a wry smile.

IAN

You look a very scarecrow, Mr. Whitefield.

George lifts the hem of the coat, and feels the heft of a considerable weight.

He tears at the lining of the hem and takes out a small but heavy sack.

GEORGE

Bless my soul, Ian, will you look at this.

George pours the contents out into the palm of his hand.

IAN

Gold?

GEORGE

Aye!  It must have been what he came back for. With this I
can get some material to send to my orphans for winter clothes.

IAN

But…but..

GEORGE

I know..I know.. It could be used to pay the debt. But this
falls very short of what the orphanage owes and is
remarkably close to what the material will cost.

IAN

You’ll be returning to London without repaying that debt?

CUT TO:

The title sequence follows as the conversation continues against the backdrop of London.

Rebel Treasure fifty eighth post

Image

ABOVE THE IRONCLAD
With a final teeter, the ship falls forward onto the catwalk and begins to skid down this “track” straight for the swirling water.

BEN (O.S.)
Hang on! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The ironclad picks up speed and from the moment it impacts the water, the current takes hold and sucks her down and through the hole.

Her forward momentum puts her sideways to the current in the river tunnel, which proceeds to roll her over on her side.

FORWARD DECK
Bodies tumble en masse as the ship heels over. Only two manage to grab onto something solid. Ben and Rance have hooked onto the capstan and are now being hoisted in the air as they hang on.

Water gushes in from every crevice and gap in the outer shield, which drenches the two and threatens to wash them from their perch. Rance, having lost his handgun, tries to maul Ben and loosen his hold. But the steepening pitch of the ship carries Ben away from his reach.

But as the ship rights itself, Ben lets go with one hand, and strikes Rance full force in the face. And as the stunned Rance looses his grip, Ben retrieves the map-case and Rance bounces from the capstan.

THE ANTE-CHAMBER TO THE CAVERN
Is now smaller, the opening having been sealed by the bunker buster bombs. And a sea of water now covers the railroad tracks.

Out from the tunnel the ironclad serenely and regally floats on the smooth surface.

FORWARD DECK
Sadusky’s agents have things well in hand with agent Howie brandishing the Navy Colt revolver over the prisoners.

TOPSIDE OF THE IRONCLAD
Ben and Abigail, Riley and Sadusky check out the destruction from this higher vantage point.

Riley looks back from whence they came, and calls his companions’ attention to the golden hue of the water.

RILEY
I think I’ll take up panning for gold.

Ben looks off into the distance.

Final Jeopardy music.

INT JEOPARDY GAME SHOW SET
Applause. Ben smiles.

ALEX TREBEK
Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us today, Mr Benjamin Franklin Gates of Baltimore, Maryland.

More applause. Ben humbly lowers his gaze.

Abigail blows him a kiss. Riley, Sadusky and Dean Cargile join in the applause.

ALEX TREBEK (CONT’D)
Mr. Gates, we have you here today to offer our apology. We were wrong and you were right. We are going to reinstate your winnings and by so doing, we hope, your reputation.

From the back of the auditorium, the Pompadou sisters emerge. Marguerite holds up a salvage document and waves.

CECI
Riley Poo!

FADE OUT.

THE END

Rebel Treasure fifty seventh post

Rebel Treasure fifty seventh post

ON TOP OF THE IRONCLAD
Battered, but determined, Rance has worked his way up to the top of the casement. Crawling to the hole left by the detached cylinder, he peers down into the darkness. He sees nothing. Grabbing the edge of the opening, he lowers himself full length before dropping to the deck below.

UNDERWATER
The force of the water is eroding a larger opening and gushing into the passageway carrying the subterranean river, filling it completely.

The water commences to swirl, forming a vortex.

THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE

SADUSKY
Maybe, if we float free, we can maneuver her.

ABIGAIL
Maneuver her where?

BEN
(to Abigail)
He’s thinking of lining her up with the entrance to the lift chamber.

RILEY
Maneuver, how? There’s no engine in this beast. Not even any oars.

SADUSKY
Let’s do something!

A shudder runs through the deck, and all nearly topple.

INSERT
The keel of the ship settles into the center of one of the catwalks and is left teetering on the edge of a section that slopes down to the burgeoning hole.

BACK TO SCENE

ABIGAIL
We’re no longer rising? That’s good isn’t it?

Riley catches sight of the forming whirlpool through the slotted windows.

RILEY
Oh, oh!

Ben follows his gaze.

BEN
The decision is about to be made for us.

He bolts for the ladder, calling back:

BEN (CONT’D)
Get everyone aft, now!

FORWARD DECK
All of Sadusky’s agents and Morgan’s soldiers are seated on the deck, backs toward him, when Ben rushes up.

Rance, standing guard, trains one hand gun in their direction, and turns another on Ben.

RANCE
Ah, Mr. Gates. Please have a seat.
(sees the red map-case)
I’ll take that.

BEN
We can’t stay here!

RANCE
I agree, but for now–

Rance hands one gun to the Third Soldier and takes the map-case from Ben.

BEN
(seeing the others approaching)
No! Don’t!

Too late.

Rebel Treasure fifty sixth post

Rebel Treasure fifty sixth post

INT FORT AREA
A series of dull booms becomes a flashing ROAR, as the combination of explosions punch through a section of the dome. Spider web-like cracks spread in every direction. Then, pieces of the dome fall inward, bit by bit, until it becomes an avalanche, leveling the walls of the fort and anything in its path.

CATWALK
Everything around Rance quivers and shakes. He drops to his seat and wraps his arms and legs around a railing support.

POV RANCE
In contrast, overhead all looks steady and solid, until a jet of water spurts out from the area around the descending cylinder. The stream grows in volume and the ironclad’s descent slows.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
All aboard the ship have lain down on the deck in an attempt to secure themselves against being thrown about. The ship stops with a jerk.

RILEY
What was that?

Ben bounds to the gunport to look out, where he sees a veritable waterfall spilling down and filling the hollow areas around the silos.

BEN
Everyone! We’ve got to cut ourselves loose from the spiral staircase.

To make his point he springs to the latches holding the cylinder to the deck and commences swinging away with the fire ax. Abigail waves the others over to a tool box and passes out wrenches, saws, hammers, etc., to all comers.

CATWALK
Rance watches in disbelief as the water level rises up along the sides of the silos. A lot of hammering and similar noise fills the air above his head; and he notices the ironclad start its descent again, but this time swinging towards his end of the catwalk. He leaps to his feet and runs.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
With several attachments now loosed, the deck is listing and down by the bow.

SADUSKY
Just two left.

BEN
Hold off a sec. This is real dicey. Everyone forward we’ll let our weight do the work.

They all move forward away from the creaking cylinder.

ABOVE THE IRONCLAD
The ship hangs off center to its normal plane. With a tearing of metal, she slips free of the cylinder and falls to the catwalk, taking it at an angle, wrenching it from its anchors and forcing breaches in the tops of the silos.

The contents of the breached silos slide out into the water.

CATWALK
Hanging on for dear life, Rance rides the bouncing catwalk. Then, the section to which he clings, flips to the vertical, the upper end over the rear of the ironclad. Seeing his chance, he drags himself up and over the top and onto the deck outside the casement.

THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE
Ben, followed by Abigail, rushes to look out the forward slits. Riley and Sadusky join them from below. The water is rising rapidly and consequently contributing to the disintegration of the silos. The ironclad slides further forward, meeting the water and raising the bow.

RILEY
Looks like we’re on our way back up.

ABIGAIL
We’ll be crushed.

THE COUNTERWEIGHT
Snaps loose from its chain and plummets into the water. It strikes the out-of-position catwalk and caroms into the chamber wall, punching a hole through to the underground river on the other side.

Rebel Treasure fifty fifth post

Rebel Treasure fifty fifth post

EXT. IN THE AIR OVER NEW MEXICO
Six A-10 warthogs in echelon right formation advance low across the desert.

A-10 LEADER
At IP, coming around for our run.

A-10 WINGMAN ONE
Radar detected.

A-10 LEADER
Blind him.

A-10 WINGMAN ONE
Roger.

A-10 LEADER
I have the entrance, the rest of you up over the top.

INT. FORT AREA BY THE VAULT ENTRANCE
The doorway has just about cleared. Sadusky and his men have Morgan’s men disarmed and corralled.

Riley flicks his miner’s light on and enters.

SADUSKY
(to Agent Stewart)
You take the point with Riley.
(to their Neo-nazi captives)
You can remain here and take the consequences or come down with us and live.

They shrug and line up behind his men and enter the vault.

Sadusky brings up the rear, enters after his last agent, takes up a rope strung out across the fort to the guardhouse and gives a smooth jerk.

CATWALK
Rance has passed across the catwalk to the other end, looking for a way down. Finding none he paces the catwalk in frustration, trying to come up with a plan.

With a jerk of his head he looks back towards the ironclad and now has another factor to consider. It is now descending towards him.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
Riley and those following spill out onto the deck. Morgan’s men are herded over to one side and kept under guard. Riley runs to his friends when they appear from the forward section, and throws his arms around them.

RILEY
Am I glad to see you two!

ABIGAIL
Ditto here.
(looking around)
And a special welcome to you, Agent Sadusky.

BEN
(interrupting)
Not to be a stick in the mud, but I think we all better grab onto something solid.

EXT. THE APPROACHING A-10S
The lead A-10 slips back and vectors off towards the cavern entrance. Coming in low, it releases its munition, letting it fly at the target.

The other A-10s fan out side by side and bore in on the rock dome, release their payloads and scoot away.

As the fireball rises from the entrance, their five bombs are silhouetted against the conflagration.

Rebel Treasure fifty fourth post

Rebel Treasure fifty fourth post

INT. THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE
Two more SHOTS RING out. Abigail looks at Ben.

ABIGAIL
Think they all committed suicide?

BEN
No. I’ve a feeling the certified monster has taken over. We had better arm ourselves.

ABIGAIL
There was a fire ax below.

She turns to go, but Ben stops her.

BEN
Sorry, you’re not leaving my sight. We’ll stick here for now. There should be an arms chest around here somewhere.

They begin to scour the cabin. Ben crosses to the back bulkhead and raps on the wall. Hearing a HOLLOW sound, he moves to the moulding and feels around the edges. He presses against the panel, it depresses and slides to the side, revealing a large safe with three large dials.

BEN (CONT’D)
Jackpot!

ABIGAIL
The missing archives of the KGC?

BEN
A weapon or a bartering chip. I don’t care. Let’s find out.

He examines the dials. They are marked with letters rather than numbers. He takes the first and lines up the “J” with the other “J.” Then on the second, a “B” with a “P.” He tries the handle, but nothing.

BEN (CONT’D)
I just can’t remember any other letter combos that he used.

He takes a closer look.

At the bottom of the first dial an “R” has lined up with an “O.” On the second an “M” is over an “E.”

A grin splits his face from ear to ear.

BEN (CONT’D)
Lon. You left Romeo on guard!

He twists the third dial to line up the “O” with another “O.” He tries the handle again. This time the door moves, SCREECHING open on unoiled hinges.

A loud BANGING on the outside of the lower encasement echoes up from below. But Ben stares entranced by the sight of a red Morocco leather map-case.

ABIGAIL
What have we here?

He reaches in and removes the mapcase, while Abigail lifts out a Navy Colt revolver.

ABIGAIL (CONT’D)
John Wayne, eat your heart out!

BEN
I guess that leaves me with the ax.

The deck under their feet shudders and GROANS; and the ship commences to ascend. Ben checks his watch.

BEN (CONT’D)
This had better be a quick trip.

Rebel Treasure fifty third post

Rebel Treasure fifty third post

INT. BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE
All the third soldier can see through the basement windows are his comrades exchanging automatic gunfire with the Gatling gun in the tower next door.

BEN (ON THE TUBE)
Hello! Is there anyone there?

SOLDIER THREE
(picking up the speaker tube)
Hello! Mr. Slidell?

ON THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE
Ben slams the speaker tube back down.

BEN
Sorry, wrong number!

And picks up the next one, as Abigail pops up onto the bridge.

ABIGAIL
Those pollsters can find you anywhere.

He smiles and motions her to join him.

BEN (ON THE TUBE)
Is anyone there?

GUARDHOUSE

AGENT HOWIE
Boss, someone’s talking on this tube thingy.

The agent passes him the speaker tube.

RILEY
Let me have that!

BEN (O.S.)
Is anyone up there?

RILEY
Ben! It’s me, Riley!

BEN (O.S.)
Are you okay?

RILEY
Just fine. I’ve recruited some help. Sadusky and his crew. Is Abigail with you?

BEN (O.S.)
Yes. Can you get us back up there?

RILEY
Uh. I think we may be wanting to come down to where you are.

BEN (O.S.)
What?

RILEY
(to Sadusky)
How much time we got?

SADUSKY
The order should have been issued three minutes ago. It’s on the way. Say seven or eight minutes.

ON THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE

Ben and Abigail hold the speaker tube between them, both straining to hear.

RILEY (O.S.)
We’ve got a little situation. According to Sadusky, the whole mountain top is about to come down on top of us, courtesy of the US Government.

BEN
That’s extreme prejudice.

RILEY (O.S.)
Don’t take it personal. They don’t know we’re here.

BEN
Listen. The mechanism for raising the entrance is in the basement of the guardhouse across from the one with the ladder to the lower area.

RILEY (O.S.)
Gotcha. We’ll see what we can do.

BACK ON THE CATWALK
The Slidell boys clench each other, neither one strong enough to overpower the other, nor willing to back down. Rance charges up, kicking and screaming.

RANCE
We have no time for this!

In their blind fury they ignore him. Rance takes out his hand gun and fires once into the air. Horatio and Morgan break apart and scramble away from Rance.

RANCE (CONT’D)
Neither of you are worthy to lead the cause.

Rebel Treasure fifty first post

Rebel Treasure fifty first post

VIEW FROM ABOVE THE IRONCLAD
The ship nestles down into a web of catwalks at the center of the silos.

CATWALK
One by one they spill out of a gunport onto the catwalk, Mrs. Slidell first. One of the silos overflows with gold dust, which catches Mrs. Slidell’s eye. Rance, though, doesn’t seem interested in any of it. He stands staring intently at the entrance far above them.

MORGAN
What’s the matter?

RANCE
I don’t know, and I hate that feeling.

In the b.g., Mrs. Slidell kicks off her shoes and steps off of the catwalk and over the rim of the silo onto the “golden sands.” Morgan turns from Rance in time to see his mother beginning to climb the mound of gold dust.

MORGAN
Ma! NO!! Come back!

His cry rivets all eyes in her direction. She stops to look back at her son, and plummets from sight.

HORATIO
Ma!

The three conspirators rush towards the silo where she disappeared. Ben seizes the moment and Abigail’s arm.

ABIGAIL
What’s happened?

BEN
Later!

He hurls her back into the ship and follows after her.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD

BEN
She’s made a fatal mistake.

ABIGAIL
She’s dead?

BEN
Almost certainly. Remember what happened to that boy fooling around on top of that grain elevator?

ABIGAIL
Straight to the bottom?

Ben nods grimly.

ON THE CATWALK
Morgan charges his brother and slams him to the catwalk grate. Horatio looks up, stunned.

HORATIO
What are you doing?

MORGAN
You let her go out there!

Rance watches their exchange in hypnotic fascination. Horatio rises and kicks his brother’s feet from beneath him, then dives on top of him and they thrash about on the catwalk. Rance looks beyond them and catches sight of a safe like structure beyond the last of the silos. He leaves the two battling brothers and moves off to investigate.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
Ben and Abigail leapfrog from gunport to gunport locking them down. Between each one Ben casts about looking for something in particular.

ABIGAIL
How are we going to get her back up?

BEN
I’m working on that.
(pause)
I’m wondering if Riley might be up there with reinforcements.

ABIGAIL
You’re thinking the soldiers closed the entrance as a defense?

BEN
Yup.

He spots what he was looking for.

BEN (CONT’D)
You finish off securing the gunports. I think I found what I was looking for.

He pulls on a rope hanging from the ceiling and a collapsible ladder unfolds to the deck. No sooner does it touch down than he bounds up into the opening above.

Rebel Treasure fiftieth post

Rebel Treasure fiftieth post

THE SUPPORT STRUCTURE – LON’S STORY 1866 CONTINUED
The long line of refugees snakes over and under the wooden beams into the crystal chamber where it climbs up the path along the underground stream and into the passageway.

THE GROTTO
Louis watches from the shadows as Lon paces, puffing on a cigar. The last of the forlorn workers pass from the passageway into the grotto, with Jonah on their heels, laying down a gunpowder trail.

JONAH
(saluting)
All done here, sir.

Louis strains to hear their conversation.

LON
Good. The ring tunnel and the vault are locked down. Time to seal this entrance, too.

Louis’ eyes glow with hatred, his hand gripping the hilt of his knife. His discipline breaks, and he charges them. He catches Jonah on the side, propelling him into the pool, and goes for Lon.

Lon coolly fires the gunpowder trail with his cigar, and unsheathes his sword.

LOUIS
Traitor!

LON
To your cause, not to humanity!

In his rage, Louis cocks his arm and throws his Bowie with all his might at Lon.

Lon’s blade meets the blade of the knife, and controlling it with a circular motion slings it back at his adversary.

It sinks into Louis’ chest with a THUD. Louis falls to his knees and then collapses on his face.

JESSE JAMES’ RANCH – NIGHT
Jesse emerges from his ranch house clad only in his nightshirt to the glow of his barn in flames.

A frenzied RINGING of the farm triangle brings the ranch hands tumbling out of their barracks. They quickly form a bucket brigade.

Jesse runs to the corral, only to find it empty of horses.

And there is a flash of light from the mountain above, then the BOOM of an explosion rolling down the mountainside.

PRESENT – GUARDHOUSE CLOSET
Riley cautiously raises the trapdoor and peers out to see an empty guardhouse. He throws the trapdoor aside and climbs out, motioning those behind him to follow.

Sadusky sends the first two of his agents up the stairs to the tower above.

THE TOWER
The two agents overpower the guard on the Gatling gun and one drags him below, the other remains on guard.

GUARDHOUSE
Riley scans the grounds and sees a batch of soldiers milling around the elevated vault entrance.

RILEY
That’s where we got to go next.

Commotion erupts in the yard as they point to the tower above them.

SOLDIER ONE
Shut the entrance!!

BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE
The third soldier grabs the brake release and gives it a yank.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
A jolt quivers through the deck; all brace as the ship begins to descend.

BEN
(to Abby)
Looks like you were right, dear.

ABIGAIL
Well, duh.

Rebel Treasure forty ninth post

Rebel Treasure forty ninth post

BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE
Rance ushers the Gateses in behind the Slidells. They gather around a giant metal tread wheel situated in the center of the room.

MORGAN
What’s this? A giant hamster wheel?

BEN
Check to see if there’s a belt attached.

SOLDIER THREE
Negative.

Ben slips around to the back of the wheel.

BEN
Here it is, on the floor unhooked.

He picks it up and loops it around the wheel’s axle. Morgan climbs up into the wheel.

MORGAN
Which way does it turn?

BEN
Hold on while I throw the clutch.

Ben grabs the rail yard like switch and depresses it forward, then hops around to the front and joins Morgan. Nothing happens.

BEN (CONT’D)
(to Horatio)
Are the portals still open into this area?

HORATIO
One of them. What of it?

BEN
We need to shut it. Lon designed it so the outer doors couldn’t be open at the same time as the vault.

HORATIO
(to Rance and soldier three)
See to it.

MRS. SLIDELL
You’ll have to move the Hummer.

MONTAGE OF THE SOLDIERS
Ordered by Rance out through the portal.

They mount the Hummer and drive it off of the pressure plate and the portal slides shut.

Rance viewing it from the front gate tower calls down to the third soldier:

RANCE
Tell them all’s clear.

BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE

SOLDIER THREE
(to Horatio)
Portal secure, sir.

BEN
(to Morgan)
This way.

Ben and Morgan begin to walk and soon their walk becomes an all out run. From deep below them the GROAN of machinery answers the WHIR of the cage. Then, the sound of RUSHING WATER lights a smile on Ben’s sweaty face. He winks at Abigail, and sees behind her:

BEN’S P.O.V.
Through the cellar window, a cylindrical column rises from the central area, like the plug in a bathroom sink.

VAULT ENTRANCE
The Slidells, Gateses, and Rance ring the darkened entrance, staring into its gaping maw, none daring move.

BEN
Well, what are we standing here for?

He grabs Abigail’s hand and moves to step in, but Morgan and Rance quickly squeeze in ahead of them with the Slidells following.

MORGAN
Hug the outside. It’s a spiral staircase.

HORATIO
What kind of mechanism is it?

BEN
Lon Turner was somewhat of a hydraulic genius. A stream is diverted into a chamber below and raises a flotation device attached to the entrance.

MORGAN (O.S.)
Hey, there’s no access to the silos down here!

The rest arrive at the bottom of the stair and spread out onto the deck of ironclad warship, encased on all sides by iron armor.

HORATIO
What? There’s got to be! Keep looking!

Rance props open one of the portholes.

RANCE
There they are. About sixty feet below.

ABIGAIL
Maybe all of this is just an elevator or escalator or something.

Mrs. Slidell muscles Rance out of the way to get a look.

MRS. SLIDELL
They’re huge! I make out four here.

HORATIO
(from the other side)
And six more over here.

MRS. SLIDELL
And just think, this amounts to just one third of all the caches.

RANCE
But we’ll need the contents of the archive to lead us to the others.

PASSAGEWAY
Sadusky and Agent Dawes help the last of their party out of the tube tunnel.

SADUSKY
Which way?

Riley shines his light on the passage wall, revealing a group of stick figures carved into the stone, shown “walking” back down the way he came.

RILEY
Walk, don’t run to the nearest exit.

SADUSKY
(holds up an empty forearm)
What time is it?

RILEY
(checking his watch)
We’re pressing one PM.

SADUSKY
We had better run. We need to get to your buddy and hope his wife is already with him and get out of here.

Riley’s look questions his sanity.

SADUSKY (CONT’D)
In fifteen minutes we’ll be overdue and this place will be the target of six bunker buster bombs.