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.
Everything around Rance quivers and shakes. He drops to his seat and wraps his arms and legs around a railing support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just two left.
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.
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.
Looks like we’re on our way back up.
We’ll be crushed.
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.
[next pt 57]