SUPPORT STRUCTURE – SOMEWHERE UNDER THE FORT
Ben and Riley wend their way through a vast network of wooden beams, all braced together, arranged around a central cylinder and attached at regular intervals to huge barrels. Ahead, Ben keeps in view, glimpses of a section of wall studded with iron ladder rungs.
Not long, now.
Where are we?
(he stubs a toe on one of the barrels)
And what is this monstrosity?
A slightly larger version of what Lon used to float that ironclad over the shallows.
Our ticket to riches if we can figure out how it works.
They arrive at the ladder, but the lights on the ceiling continue on down another passage.
What now, boss?
I’ll take the ladder, if it’s a dead-end I’ll come looking for you. And vice-versa.
THE FORT AREA
Morgan prods Abigail along, while Horatio leads the way through the gates and into the compound.
Welcome to New El Dorado, Mrs. Gates.
Where the skies are not gloomy all day.
I’m serious, we owe you a debt of gratitude.
Call me a skeptic, but somehow I don’t think you’re going to repay my “good deed” in kind.
Sarcasm is hardly becoming, Mrs. Gates.
Mrs. Slidell comes up from behind them, and reaches up to kiss Horatio on his forehead, much to Abigail’s horror.
Do I get things done, or do I get things done?
Horatio draws her into a bear-hug and lifting her off her feet, swings her in a circle.
Yes, Momma, and all our dreams are becoming reality.
Morgan looks on, wishing he were a part of the celebration.
The South shall rise again!
Once we’ve set up our empire, nothing will stop us.
Spare me your nutjob rantings. I don’t see you in the vault yet. Or are you setting up this empire on credit?
Mrs. Slidell spins around and slaps her, then turns back to her less favored son.
And what are you doing about this?
My men are on the way.
A CLOSET OFF OF THE GUARD HOUSE OF THE FORT
Ben emerges out of a trapdoor in the floor of the closet. He looks through the loophole toward the parked artillery. Some of Horatio’s men are packing explosives down through the avenue of cannons.
He walks to the door, and freezes when he sees Abigail in Morgan’s clutches.
THE FORT AREA
As Horatio directs the positioning of the explosive charges, Morgan guards Abigail. Ben saunters up.
I’ll thank you to take your hands off of my wife.
No, darling, the prize idiots are our friends here. They’ve just set charges on top of the largest deposit of gunpowder in the Western Hemisphere. And I don’t want you in the same state when it goes off.
And I suppose you thought those cannons out there were just for show?
A confused Morgan looks to his brother. Horatio beckons to one of the soldiers.
It is Rance, all spit and polish in his combat fatigues.
What do you think, Rance, could this place be mined?
(looks at Ben)
But I’m willing to bet that he knows another way in. We just got to make him talk.
My thought exactly. We’ve got the leverage.
Morgan tightens his grip on Abigail.
We needn’t do anything rash…yet. Perhaps we can strike a deal.
Right! How about first of all you return that NSA museum gold…
Ah? You figured that one out?
And while you’re at it you can cough up that stolen shipment that I was blamed for.
Ever the smart one.
Sure. And why not the French treasure trove?
(Ben’s turn to be surprised)
I see you didn’t know about that one.
As you see we have a corner on the market, and you cornered. How about you keep your lives and join us?
Hesitation and a moment of decision.
Sure. Why not?
Ben! How could you?
Ben turns to Mrs. Slidell.
The way I see it, you owe me. Seeing how your carcasses could just as easily have been decorating the walls right now. And I do admit to being a little curious.
Then you’ll help us?
Let me just get the lay of the land.
Though Mrs. Slidell beams with pleasure, Morgan and Rance look none too happy.
[next pt 48]