THE OUTER VAULT AREA
A stone fort rises from the center of a spherical cavern, hewn from the very rocks of its surroundings. Avenues of access radiate from it like spokes of a wheel, and weapons of all kinds are stacked row upon row between them; stands of rifles and carbines; and artillery parks of light and heavy cannon. The ramparts of the fort are festooned with banners and battle flags, and two Gatling guns in towers flank the entrance.
Lon strides purposefully down the main avenue his red leather map-case slung over his shoulder.
TWO GUARDS, armed with rifles and fixed bayonets, snap to attention and step aside for Lon. As he mounts the stairs that traverse the gate, the MUFFLED CLANG of hidden machinery commences deep beneath his feet and a column begins to rise in the center of the fort.
THE FORT AREA
The column reaches its limit, disclosing another entrance. Lon pauses to check that he is alone before plunging through the opening.
THE FORT ENTRANCE
The two guards again come to attention at Louis’ approach.
(returning their salute)
What’s all the commotion?
Commander Turner is in the vault, sir.
Louis tries to push pass them, but they lock rifles and block his way. At this affront, Louis’ knife hand twitches.
Sorry sir. No one is allowed in, when the Commander is present.
By whose order?
The highest, sir. You can wait here if you like. He shouldn’t be long.
Be pleased to inform the Commander that I beg to see him in the guardhouse.
THE VAULT INTERIOR
Lon deposits his map-case on a shelf of a safe. He swings the door shut, and twists three dials. With a sigh of relief he departs.
THE FORT ENTRANCE
At Lon’s KNOCK, the two guards open the gate to him, just as Jonah and another arrive, suited up for guard duty.
Just in time for the change of the guard, I see.
The guards exchange positions and the original duo are about to march away.
Lieutenant Toussaint left a request to see you in the guardhouse.
Lon and Jonah warily watch their retreat.
All’s secure, sir. The workers have been liberated and are now on the way to the rendezvous.
Excellent. Pass the signal to blow the train entrance. I’ll lock down the vault and throw away their “key,” so to speak. All that after I send our friend Louis away.
Why? Why not leave him here?
I know he wouldn’t hesitate to abandon us, but I can’t do the same to him.
Let’s hope we don’t live to regret it.
[next pt 41]