CRIMSON SKIES

Episode Name: Goliath

January, 2006

Read Time:

1st Draft

INTRO PAGE/CREDITS

(VOICE OVER)

America, 1937. After years of depression, influenza, and prohibition, the United States of America fractures into a dozen pieces. Territories and rebel states battle each other for the remaining wealth of the nation.

With roads and railways rendered useless, the skies become the new arenas of conquest. Massive zeppelins cross the sky as bandits, pirates, and militias clash above the earth for the spoils of war.

The country has become a new world, rife with riches for those brave and daring enough to pursue them. Those who win earn victory - and those who fail plunge from the crimson skies.

CUE MUSIC/MONTAGE/CREDITS

EXT. HOLLYWOOD AIPORT - DAY

A TRACKING shot of a large commercial airport terminal. Various craft are taxing across runways and tarmac, ground crews prep planes and zeppelins for take-off. We CLOSE IN on a large bank of windows - through them we see a sitting area for passengers.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

PAN across rows of back-to-back seats for boarding passengers waiting for their flights. Children run through the aisles, men read newspapers. Fedoras and coats are the dress of the day, women in dresses and hats. We ZOOM in onto a particular passenger sitting alone at the end of one bank of seats.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

The PROFESSOR, in his mid-60s, sits alone, tightly gripping a briefcase. His hat is pulled down over his eyes. He looks about nervously.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

We CUT in tight on the PROFESSOR'S eyes. They flit side to side. A bead of sweat wells up from under his hat band and slips down his cheek. He checks his watch for the thousandth time.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

A SPEAKER broadcasts.

SPEAKER (O.S.)

This is the boarding call for
Flight 27, onboard the zeppelin
VENTURE. Stops in Arixio, Free
Colorado State, and onto the
Industrial States of America.
All passengers please present
your tickets to the agents at
Gate 3. We thank you for flying
Lockheed Air.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

The PROFESSOR immediately stands, checking over his shoulder as he WALKS directly to check-in GATE 3. He is the first to arrive at the GATE.

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL GATE - DAY

The young girl at a podium takes the ticket from the PROFESSOR and punches it. She smiles as she returns the ticket. The PROFESSOR grimaces and pushes past her onto the boarding gangway.

INT. ZEPPELIN LOUNGE - DAY

The PROFESSOR steps up into the lounge/viewing section of the zeppelin. A double row of seats lies on either side of the aisle, and a row of windows on each side gives a view of the tarmac and surrounding airport.

The PROFESSOR places his hat on the seat next to him, still clutching his briefcase. He exhales, closing his eyes in relief as the other passengers move into the lounge to acquire seats.

EXT. ZEPPELIN - DAY

The zeppelin, freed from its tether ropes, gently lifts into the air above the airport. It makes a graceful turn, rising on columns of warm air into the blue sky. Its propellers beat a steady rhythm of motion.

INT. ZEPPELIN LOUNGE - DAY

The PROFESSOR leans across the seat to examine the vanishing earth through the lounge windows. Passengers around him gawk and chatter at the miracle of flight, still so new at this time. The PROFESSOR allows himself a faint smile as the ship breaks from the rule of gravity.

EXT. ZEPPELIN - DAY

The zeppelin EXPLODES in an enormous fire-ball, fuel evaporating into the air like a mist. The metallic frame of the air ship is exposed in seconds, and then twists and melts. The flaming wreckage plummets to the earth, as we FADE INTO:

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM - DAY

A bed. On it lies RUSSELL FOX, early 30s, but looking worse. The bed covers are mostly on the floor, and FOX wears boots, khakis, and whatever shirt he was wearing when he passed out. From the light streaming through the blinds, it is probably closer to afternoon than morning.

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM - DAY

Rapid KNOCKING (O.S.)

A CLOSE UP on FOX. He cracks his eyes, squinting against the daylight.

Continued KNOCKING (O.S.)

FOX teeters but manages to get up. He stumbles into the HALL of the apartment, holding himself up by the walls.

INT. BUILDING HALL - DAY

The KNOCKING continues, and from the outside of the apartment we SEE it is being orchestrated by a female hand, thin and decked out in nail polish. The door cracks OPEN, and a bleary FOX grimaces out through the gap.

INT. APARTMENT HALL - DAY

We SEE the visitor from FOX's perspective. She is younger, maybe 25, and attractive. Dark eyes and hair, very presentable, she is the antithesis of FOX - a potent mix of poise and confidence. This is SARA ANDREWS.

SARA

Mr. Fox?

FOX

More or less.

SARA

Let's hope it's more. I've come
a long way to see you, Mr. Fox.

FOX

A fan of my previous exploits, perhaps?

SARA

I forgot my autograph book.
May I have a minute of your time?

FOX

We're already up to forty-five
seconds, and I'm still broke.

SARA

Keep talking like that and
I'll leave you that way.
Open the door for a lady,
won't you?

INT. APARTMENT HALL - DAY

Fox opens the door and SARA slips through into the APARTMENT HALL. He's impressed by her moxie, but he isn't showing it.

FOX

Miss, I've got a very important
hangover to get back to. So if
we can get to whatever it is
you want, I'd appreciate it.

INT. APARTMENT HALL - DAY

FOX stumbles his way back towards the BEDROOM. He doesn't invite SARA further, and she seems a little uncertain of what to do. She finally follows FOX back into the BEDROOM.

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM - DAY

FOX is back on the bed, sitting, but just barely. SARA takes a position near the door and leans on the frame, arms crossed in a mix of appraisal and criticism.

FOX

So what's the deal, Miss...?

SARA

Andrews. SARA Andrews. I've come
to offer you a job, Mr. Fox. A
paying one, at that. Are you interested?

FOX

I'm still awake, aren't I?

SARA

More or less.

FOX bristles at the rebuke. He lays down on the bed, covering his eyes with his arm to blot out the light.

FOX

Keep talking.

SARA slips a folded newspaper from her purse. She holds it out for him.

SARA

Have you seen the paper this week?

FOX

I only read the paper with my
eggs Benedict and a mimosa.

SARA

A passenger zeppelin exploded and
crashed after takeoff this week in
Pomona, out in the Nation of
Hollywood. My father was on-board. He
died. So did twenty-six other people.

FOX

I'm sorry to hear that, but
zeppelins crash. It's a fact of life.

SARA

Crash, yes. But this one exploded,
Mr. Fox. In mid-air. Does that
seem more or less common to you?

FOX
(considering)

Less. Commercial zeppelins are
filled with helium…it's the law, no
matter what territory you fly from.

SARA

My thoughts exactly. But this
zeppelin was filled with hydrogen.
The local officials in Hollywood are
trying to stonewall that fact,
but witnesses are talking about how
fast the ship burned out.

FOX

I'm not an attorney. If you want
a lawsuit, call a shyster.

SARA

My father was an engineer, Mr. Fox.
A very good one, and a very experienced
one, too. He spent the last twenty years
in the research department for Lockheed
Aviation. Accident Prevention, mostly.

FOX (laughing)

That's ironic.

SARA
(very cold)

Hardly.

She fixes her stare on FOX. He can almost feel her anger at the comment. He sits up on the bed and matches her gaze.

SARA
(continued)

My father was on that zeppelin
because he was coming to see me.
I haven't seen my father in years,
Mr. Fox. Years. For him to get on an
airship and come to see me after so
much time suggests something very
important was concerning him. I
think whatever it was he wanted to
tell me got him killed.

FOX

Your father was a safety
engineer. What could he possibly
know that would put his
life at risk?

SARA

I haven't the slightest idea.
But last week I received this…

SARA rummages through the purse again and comes up with a dog-eared piece of paper.

SARA
(continued)

…a letter. My father and
I don't talk, Mr. Fox. Previous
disagreements. But out of the blue,
I get this in the mail.

She walks across the BEDROOM and offers FOX the letter. He takes it, squinting to get his eyes working.

FOX

Nation of Hollywood postmark.

FOX
(continued, reading)

My Dearest Sara - Both years and
the past have conspired to keep
you distant and angry. I write you
now to tell you of a great danger
to my life. My work has revealed
a dangerous secret that I must
communicate to you in person. I
will arrive by zeppelin in New York on
the fourth. I apologize for the
suddenness of my appearance after
so many years, but I assure you
that the most desperate of
situations warrants it."

FOX

Sounds ominous.

SARA

Clearly it was, and more. I
want to find out who killed
my father, and why.

FOX

Leave it to the local
authorities in Hollywood.
They'll figure it out.

SARA
(angry)

Oh, sure they will. Because what
are the chances that somebody like
Lockheed Aviation would have any
influence with the locals out
there? You know as well as I do
that everyone relies on the
aviation companies in Hollywood for
their jobs, and that probably
half the government airline
investigators used to work for
Lockheed. They're already talking
about the witnesses changing
their stories about the explosion.
How many of them work for
Lockheed, or somebody just as big?
No, Mr. Fox. I won't believe
any conclusions unless I come
to them myself.

FOX

Whether they prove what you
want them to or not?

SARA

However you like it.

FOX

I like it quiet. Why are you
even telling me about this?

SARA

Because I want quiet, too. I
don't want a commercial flight
to Hollywood. I want somebody to
fly me out there, under the
radar so to speak, without
anyone knowing I'm on my way.
Somebody willing to file a
false flight plan and give a
phony name when we land.
Digger Talley at the Times
gave me your name.

FOX

You know Digger? You don't
seem like his type. What with
the talking, and all.

SARA

We have the same boss. I'm
with the Times, too. I mentioned
I wanted an impromptu flight
out West, and he mentioned
your name. He seems to think
you could use some regular
employment.

FOX
(gestures around)

And leave all this? I could be
persuaded, at the right price.

SARA

Digger tells me your plane
is in hock. I'll buy it back
and pay you $200 a day. You
get to follow me around and
be a good boy while I check
into things. Fly me back when
I'm done, and we're even.
Any problems with flying into
the Nation of Hollywood?

FOX

Probably not. Assuming a good
old-fashioned bribe or two won't
offend you.

SARA

I'm not that scrupulous.

FOX

And where do we stay when we
get out there?

SARA

Somewhere cheap and anonymous.

FOX

What a pleasant change. Listen,
I'd like to help, but there's no
chance I'm going to be able to fly
you in without proper documents.
Hollywood has clamped down tight as
a drum on anyone landing in their
neck of the woods. It's no good to
you if I get tossed into jail as
soon as we land.

SARA
(considering)

Alright, we'll risk filing a flight
plan here. So is it yes or no, Mr. Fox?

FOX

It's a yes. I'd fly you to
China if it'd get my plane back.

SARA

I'd hoped that would persuade
you. Do you need time to pack?

FOX rises from the bed and walks over to a cluttered office desk. He slips open the top drawer, and removes a six-shot REVOLVER. FOX cracks the gun, checks it, then closes it and slips it behind his back.

FOX

All done.

SARA smiles in spite of herself. She turns and exits the doorway. FOX shakes his head, following.

FOX (muttering)

Lady, I hope you're worth it.

CUT TO:

INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

A massive bank of windows rises from floor to ceiling. The office is spacious and full of grand furniture. We SEE a man (LOCKHEED) dressed in a fine suit, standing in front of the window with his back to us. He gazes across a magnificent view of a city, lit up in the darkness. A massive desk is behind him.

INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

We SEE an intercom speaker on the desk. It BEEPS, then a voice.

INTERCOM VOICE
(O.S., FEMALE)

Mr. Lockheed? Mr. Cutter
is here to see you.

INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

LOCKHEED doesn't turn; he stays gazing out of the window.

LOCKHEED

Send him in.

INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

We SEE the office door open, and CUTTER enters. He is thick and heavy, a cheap suit matched by a mashed hat askew on his head. He is sweating, as he always does.

LOCKHEED turns to see him. LOCKHEED is the complete opposite of CUTTER. Fit and healthy, his hair gone white but still dignified. He is every bit the corporate leader.

CUTTER slumps uninvited into a chair before the office desk. LOCKHEED remains standing.

LOCKHEED

I have to congratulate you,
Cutter. Twenty-six people killed,
along with one of my zeppelins.
A decent body count, even for you.

CUTTER
(sneering)

That's what you pay me for.

LOCKHEED

No. I pay you to clean up
problems. Not to annihilate an
entire airship and its passengers.
Is it possible you're unfamiliar
with the concept of finesse?

CUTTER

Finesse usually results in a
guy getting injured instead
of dead. I got your guy dead.

LOCKHEED

Along with my airline. Lockheed
stock is down twenty points
because of an unexplained air
disaster, and an investigation
into the accident is underway.
It took all my influence just
to keep my fleet from being
entirely grounded.

CUTTER
(laughing)

Well, that's why they pay you.

LOCKHEED

Indeed. We are both culpable here,
Cutter, myself as much as you.
But I can afford an excellent
team of attorneys. I can disappear
forever. I can afford to have
you eliminated, if the need be.

CUTTER
(urgent)

There's a letter! If
something happens to me…

LOCKHEED

Shut up, Cutter, and don't
waste my time. I doubt you
can even write, let alone
marshal your thoughts on
paper. I'll keep you in my employ
because you're loyal, if not
entirely dependable.

CUTTER
(relaxing)

OK, then. What do you need?
The job's already done. No more
scientist, right?

LOCKHEED

The investigation into the
explosion will be stifled. I've
already see to that, as costly as
it was. Your job now is to
eliminate the loose ends. We can't
be entirely sure that Andrews
didn't share his knowledge with someone
outside the company. I want you at the
airport monitoring any flights from Dr.
Andrew's neck of the woods. Anyone
comesin that looks suspicious, you let
me know.

CUTTER

I'll get right on it.

LOCKHEED

Do that.

CUTTER rises to leave. He gets halfway to the door.

LOCKHEED

Oh, and Cutter?

CUTTER turns, hat in hand.

LOCKHEED
(continued)

Get a better suit if you're
going to visit me at the office.

CUTTER sneers and exits the office door. LOCKHEED turns back to the window view, contemplating his world.

We FADE TO:

INT. HANGAR - DAY

A hangar, and not a good one. Various skeletons of planes lie scattered about, rack of tools stand half-filled, lots of stains on the floor.

FOX and SARA walk across the hangar floor towards a beat-up looking plane, a KESTREL. A mechanic (RATCHET) is half-inside the cockpit. A pair buttocks and legs protrude from inside.

RATCHET
(grumbling)

Stupid manifold gauge,
always getting pinned...

Stopping by the plane, FOX lifts a screwdriver from a nearby box, and JABS RATCHET in the rear end with it.

RATCHET
(yelling)

Ow! Who in the--

RATCHET pulls himself from the cockpit and stands on the plane's wing, rubbing his rear end. RATCHET is as skinny as a rake, and his overalls are almost as greasy as the rest of him.

RATCHET
(sees FOX, continued)

Fox? Just when I think you're
gone for good, you come back to
poke at me one more time.

FOX

Are you telling me
you don't deserve it?

RATCHET

Oh, I do...just don't
tell my missus.

RATCHET hops down to the hangar floor.

FOX

Ratchet, this is Sara Andrews,
my personal savior. She's here
to get me my plane back.

RATCHET shakes hands with SARA, but talks to FOX.

RATCHET

Your plane? I remember a full
house over three-of-a-kindn that says this
is my plane.Besides that, I love this
bird. She's my baby.

FOX

Sure she is. That's why you're
gut-deep in her and the manifold
is spread out all over the hangar floor.

RATCHET

Routine maintenance.

FOX

Routine as a heart attack. I'm
here to buy her back.

RATCHET

Sure, Fox, sure. 2400 bucks
and she's all yours.

FOX

2400? She was only worth
1200 when I lost her to you.

RATCHET

Don't remind me. But I know how
attached you pilots get to your
birds, especially these antiques.
Consider it appreciation value.

FOX
(angry, moves at RATCHET with the screwdriver)

"Appreciation"? Why you...

SARA

Gentlemen. As much as I'd love
to stand here and watch the two
of you play "Those Were The
Days" with one-another, I've
assured Mr. Fox here that he'd
get his plane back. So shall we
say $800, with another $200 if
you can put this hunk back together
in an hour?

RATCHET
(considering)

I could do that. Maybe.

SARA

For $1000 I want definitely,
not maybe. Or I'll let Fox
here go to work on you with
that screwdriver and see where
the negotiations ends up.

FOX jabs at RATCHET again with the screwdriver. RATCHET gulps visibly as we...

CUT TO/WITH MUSIC

EXT. DAY - SKY

The KESTREL purrs through the air, its twin propellers slashing through cloud and blue skies. FOX sits at the controls; SARA is in the jump seat behind him. Both are clad in heavy flight jackets and talk through head-set radios.

FOX

This old girl still flies great.
Whatever Ratchet did to it, it worked.

SARA

Assuming what he did wasn't trim
through the fuel line just a little
bit. Are you sure you can trust him?

FOX

No, but neither can anyone else.
He's an equal opportunity snake, which
makes him reliable, after a fashion.

SARA

Let's hope so. I left a lot
of money in his pocket.

FOX

I hope you got a receipt.

FOX leans forward and scans the ground. He spots a narrow runway ahead of them through the cloud cover.

FOX
(continued)

There's the strip. We'll be in
Hollywood country when we land.
Best to keep to ourselves. If
anyone asks, we're a couple
on vacation.

SARA
(mockingly)

Oh, really? How long have
we been married?

FOX

Six months. That's a
record for me, you know.

SARA

Me too.

FOX raises an eyebrow but says nothing.

FOX

OK, hold on...

FOX pushes the small plane forward into a dive, breaking through the remaining cloud cover. We dive down towards a large AIRPORT facility, with criss-crossing runways and hangar buildings. THE HOLLYWOOD AIPORT is surrounded by the rock and sand of a desert.

EXT. DAY – HOLLYWOOD AIRPORT

The HOLLYWOOD AIRPORT is bustling with activity. This is no small desert strip. Zeppelins bob and sway on their tether lines, fighters and passenger planes flit about like wasps. FOX touches the KESTREL down on a strip of runway, and taxis to a hangar entrance.

FOX idles the KESTREL to a stop, killing the props with a button. He cracks the canopy back, breathing in the fresh desert air. Members of a GROUND CREW kick wooden chocks under the wheels and toss throw ropes over the winds. FOX and SARA step out onto the wing, HOPPING down onto the TARMAC.

EXT. DAY – AIRPORT TERMINAL ROOF

We get a long-shot view of the TARMAC, as if seen through binoculars. We watch FOX briefly speak unheard to the GROUND CREW, and one of them gestures in a direction. We see FOX confer with SARA and she nods.

EXT. DAY - AIRPORT TERMINAL ROOF

We cut to a pair of binocular lenses, and see the previous view MIRRORED back at us. The lenses lower and we recognize CUTTER, grimacing at the scene on the TARMAC. CUTTER is standing on the TERMINAL ROOF, watching the arrival of the pair. He scans a clipboard with a list of incoming flights and names. He runs his finger down the list of times, and across to:

4:45 EXPECTED – FOX/ANDREWS - KESTREL

EXT. LATE DAY – CAR

FOX and SARA drive in a 1930's style roadster through the streets of Hollywood. The western sun is setting on them as FOX drives.

SARA
(contemplating the sunset)

It's nice out here.

FOX

Nice, how?

SARA

The sunsets, the open spaces. I'd
never seen a lemon grove before.

FOX

I crashed a plane into an avocado
plantation once, down in the Federation
of Dixie. Plane was green
for a month.

SARA

I'm just saying that it's
different than back East.

FOX

Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I
think the rot just smells better
out here, that's all. The whole
country's falling apart, only now
we're doing it one territory at
a time.

SARA
(pointing)

Slow down. Turn left here.

FOX makes the turn. He notices they are in a bad part of town. Run-down buildings and cheap houses abound.

FOX
(wary)

Uhh…is this where the hotel is?

SARA

No hotel yet. We're going to see someone.

FOX

And who is that, exactly?

SARA
Somebody from Lockheed Aviation.

(off of FOX's look)

And he's not expecting us, either.

FOX
(under his breath)

Great.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

From above the parked car, we SEE FOX and SARA exit and stand under the dim pools created by the streetlights. This is a rough part of town; houses sag under their own weight, garbage floats about. It's deserted, even this early.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

FOX

Nice part of town.

SARA
(scanning houses, points)

There. Number 171. That's
the one we want.

SARA heads right up the walk, heels clipping in the deserted streets. There isn't a single light on in the house. SARA approaches the peeling front door and knocks loudly. Waiting, SARA glances behind her at FOX. He is checking his pistol.

EXT. STREET – DOORSTEP

SARA
(whispering)

Put that away!

FOX

Sorry, we come as a pair.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

From across the street of the house we SEE the pair as they wait on the doorstep. We are inside a CAR, watching from behind a steering wheel. SARA and FOX don't notice the watcher's presence.

EXT. STREET – DOORSTEP

SARA continues knocking. The DOOR cracks slightly when she pauses. We SEE an eye pressed up to the crack.

SARA

Excuse me, but are you—

She never gets a chance to finish the question. FOX leaps forward, SLAMMING his foot into the flimsy door. It crashes inwards, throwing the occupant (WEBSTER) back into the hallway. FOX jams his way into the hallway and THROWS himself onto the prone figure. SARA pushes her way through the smashed entrance, following FOX.

INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT

SARA
(yelling)

What are you doing!?

FOX has WEBSTER pinned to the hallway floor. He struggles, but FOX has the upper hand.

FOX
(over shoulder)

Is this the guy?

SARA

What guy!?

FOX

The guy who killed your father?

SARA
(fuming)

How should I know? I wanted to find
out how the hydrogen got into the
airship instead of helium. He's a member
of the ground crew that was working
when the zeppelin my father was
on exploded.

WEBSTER
(muffled)

She's right.

FOX
(to WEBSTER)

Shut up!

SARA

Let him up, Fox.

INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT

FOX pulls the shaken and disheveled WEBSTER to his feet. WEBSTER is a grease monkey with stained hands clothes. His house looks very similar to FOX's apartment.

FOX
(to WEBSTER, forceful)

You heard the lady. The
hydrogen...how did it get
into the ship?

WEBSTER realizes he's on the end of a muscle job, and starts to get righteous. He pushes FOX off of him.

WEBSTER
(angry)

Get lost! This is my
house, and you two are—

FOX pounds WEBSTER hard in the stomach, doubling WEBSTER up. He nearly collapses but FOX grabs him by the neck and pulls him back to his feet.

FOX

The question - answer it.

WEBSTER
(scared)

OK, OK. The zeppelin was supposed
to get filled the day before
the accident with helium, just like
routine. But then we get orders
to fill it with hydrogen instead. We
told our supervisor, and he raised
a stink about it. Definitely not SOP,
you know? Then he gets a visit, and
the next thing we know, it fill
it or lose your job. So we filled it.

SARA

The orders - who gave them?

WEBSTER

A big guy who hangs around
sometimes…name of Cutter. He
works for the company. Not much
in the brains department, but
he's got a heavy hand. You follow me?

SARA

He's muscle for Lockheed.

WEBSTER

I don't know how connected he
is. But everyone knows you don't
jump to when Cutter talks, you get
your walking papers. Maybe worse,
from what I hear.

FOX

Where is he?

WEBSTER

What, he's a friend of mine? I
don't think so. All I know
is that I got suspended during
the investigation, and now
they're looking at us crew to
blame for causing the explosion.
Believe me, if I knew where Cutter
was I'd take you there myself.

SARA

Let him go, Fox.

FOX releases WEBSTER, who rubs his neck and looks petulant. SARA moves right into his face.

SARA

Cutter gets a heads-up we're looking
for him and it's your neck.
We'll come back here and
pay you a visit. It's tough
to hold a wrench with only four
fingers, you get it?

WEBSTER
(urgent)

I got it. Hey, don't sweat it, lady.
I don't owe the company anything!

EXT. DOORSTEP - NIGHT

FOX and SARA walk out of the HALLWAY and stand on the front step. FOX wrings his hand and rubs it.

FOX

Ouch. I'm a little out of practice.

SARA

I doubt Cutter is. Did I
back the wrong horse, Fox?

FOX
(indignant)

I'll be fine! Where do we
find Cutter, anyway?

SARA

I'm not sure. I think I want to
stop by my father's house
first. There may be something
we can use there. He was
very meticulous - if he was
onto something, he'd probably make
a record of it.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

We are back on the earlier VIEW, as FOX and SARA are being watched from across the street from behind a car wheel. FOX and SARA enter their car and pull away from the curb.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

We keep the same VIEW. The door of the car opens and closes. We SEE a hulking figure cross the street towards the house. A misshapen hat is balanced on the figure's head.

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

WEBSTER stands at the sink, drinking a glass of water. He SPINS, as he sees something O.S. approaching him.

WEBSTER
(panicked)

Hey, what are you doing here?
Look, I didn't them anything. There's…

A shadow falls across WEBSTER. He recoils.

WEBSTER
(continued)

Hey, no! Wait…!

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

We SEE the water glass fall to the floor and shatter. O.S. we hear the sounds of struggle. We stay on the broken glass, as we HEAR:

WEBSTER
(O.S., screaming)

No!

CUT TO:

INT. PROFESSORS'S HOUSE – NIGHT

We are INSIDE a darkened house. The door OPENS, silhouetting SARA and FOX on the doorstep.

INT. PROFESSORS'S HOUSE – NIGHT

SARA
(whispering)

Should we chance the lights?

FOX

Let's find out.

INT. PROFESSORS'S LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

The lights flare on. SARA and FOX are standing in a small, bungalow-style house. It is completed DESTROYED, with debris and the furnishing tossed about.

SARA
(stunned)

What happened?

FOX

Somebody was looking for something.
With this kind of damage they
probably found it, too.

SARA

I'm going to check the bedroom.

FOX

They may have somebody watching
the house. I'll stay on the door.

SARA moves into the house, out of our sight. FOX stays in the LIVING ROOM. He pulls his gun and closes the door.

INT. PROFESSORS'S BEDROOM – NIGHT

The PROFESSORS'S BEDROOM is in equal shape to the rest of the house. Mattress ripped up, furniture tossed about, drawers pulled open.

INT. PROFESSORS'S BEDROOM – NIGHT

SARA walks across to a BOOKCASE, from which most of the books have been tumbled. She scans the remaining titles, stopping on one. She slips the book from the shelf.

It is a text book. We get a CLOSE-UP on the cover.

SAFETY AND THE MODERN ENGINEER

By JAMES ANDREWS

INT. PROFESSORS'S BEDROOM – NIGHT

SARA flips open the book. She scans through the pages. As she turns another page, a sheaf of papers FALLS from the book onto the floor. SARA stoops and gathers up the papers.

INT. PROFESSORS'S LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

We SEE FOX peeping through the eye hole in the door. SARA approaches, holding up the papers.

SARA

Found what we were after.

FOX
(turning)

That's lucky. I found something, too.

SARA
(approaching)

What's that?

FOX

Car parked across the street.
Got here after we did, and the
driver hasn't budged. I can't
make out who it is, but we
should find a back door.

SARA

Can't we just find out who he is?

FOX

It's tempting, I'll admit. But
if there's more muscle around,
we'll end up putting our foot
into a bear trap. Better to give
him the slip.

SARA

We'll go out the back.

CUT TO:

INT. DINER – NIGHT

An all-night greasy spoon diner. SARA and FOX sit in a booth near the back, away from the windows facing the street. Only one or two other customers keep the waitress company at this time of night. The remains of a dinner are scattered across the table.

SARA
(satisfied)

That was good.

FOX

Better than eating bugs for 2000 miles.

SARA
(laughing)

I'll say.

FOX

At the house - you found what
you were looking for?

SARA

And more. I know why
my father was killed.

FOX says nothing.

SARA
(continued)

You still don't believe me?

FOX

No, I believe you. After seeing
your father's house I
didn't have much doubt left.

SARA

But?

FOX

Whatever you found, you're not
going to the police, are you?

SARA

I can't. They're probably dirty,
or under Lockheed's thumb. If
the company did it, you know
they'll get off. Even if they
do get found guilty, it'll take
twenty years of trials to do it.

FOX

I know. But I didn't get
hired to be an executioner.

SARA

I'm not asking you to be one.
When I get what I'll need I'll
put the story together for the
Times. If nothing else, I can
hurt the company and maybe get
whoever was responsible cut
loose from Lockheed's protection.

FOX

Is that justice enough for you?

SARA

No. But it's a step in
the right direction.

SARA
(pauses, then continues)

I loved my father, but I never
forgave him. He came to Hollywood
because of his work. He and my
mother were driving on the coastal
highway when they were stuck by
an on-coming car. My mother died
instantly, they said. But I convinced
myself that it would never have
happened if we hadn't come here
for my father's job. As soon as
I could, I moved to the I.S.A. and
never spoke to him again. He wrote
me a few times, but stopped after
the letters were sent back unopened.

The tears come again, slipping down SARA's cheeks. She wipes them away absently.

SARA
(continued)

I don't know why I opened that
last letter. It had been
a long time since he had
sent anything – maybe I was
curious. But when I read
what he had written, I knew it
was too late. I'd never get a
chance to talk to him or ask him
to forgive me for being so stubborn.
I knew he wouldn't talk about
being in danger if he didn't believe
it. I just wish he had told
someone he could rely on.

More tears. FOX reaches out to wipe them off of her cheeks. SARA grasps his hand, holds it against her face. Their eyes meet; something significant passes between them.

INT. DINER – NIGHT

(O.S.)

Can I get you two anything else?

It is the WAITRESS, standing table-side and holding a coffee pot. SARA and FOX break contact, a little embarrassed and taken aback. Whatever passed between them has gone.

FOX

Uh, no thanks. Just the check, please.

WAITRESS

No problem.

The WAITRESS shuffles off. SARA makes a show of composing herself.

SARA

Lockheed's developing a new line
of zeppelins. Nearly twice the
size of their current biggest
carrier and three times the
range. The Times business section
ran an article claiming that
Lockheed have invested almost all their
research funds into the project
for the past six years.

FOX

Serious money.

SARA

And more at stake, yet.
With a range that great, Lockheed
could establish a cross-country
route that would almost eliminate
the need for landing and refueling.
A zeppelin could move all the way
across the country with no need to
pay landing charges in adjacent
territories.

FOX

So you're thinking sabotage?
From a competitor, or maybe a
territory who was afraid of
losing landing revenue?

SARA

They didn't blow up a new zeppelin,
did they? No, they were after my
father because of what he found out.
The material for the zeppelin's
skin proved to be too porous to be
effective. That material was what
allowed the Goliath to weigh so little.

FOX

And make such a great flying range.

SARA

He estimated a thirty percent
failure rate on a design built
to these specifications.

FOX

That information would have
sunk the entire project.

SARA

And probably thrown Lockheed
into a tailspin. Loss of revenue,
no other significant advances in
development – shareholders would
have dumped the company into
the basement.

FOX

But the story never came out.

SARA

I just found copies at the house –
and they're incomplete. I'll need
everything on the Goliath project to
make a case for the paper.

FOX

Your father couldn't have
walked out with everything.
Somebody would have noticed.

SARA

I know. I need to get into his
lab and find whatever I'm missing.

FOX

Assuming the information is
still there. Why would they keep
it around with so much at stake?

SARA

I'm not sure they did. But I
have to know, one way or the other.

FOX

So, where to?

SARA

The Lockheed Safety Labs. In Pasadena.

CUT TO:

EXT. LOCKHEED SAFETY LABS – NIGHT

SARA and FOX are parked across from a three-story office building. We are in an industrial park, deserted at this hour. The building has its night lights on, glowing softly from inside curtained offices.

SARA

So that's it.

FOX

Doesn't look too bad.
Let's go have a look.

FOX cranks the door handle to go, but SARA puts her hand on his arm to stop him.

SARA

Give it a minute.

FOX and SARA survey the building. After a moment, a SECURITY GUARD idles along the front of the building, making his rounds. SARA cocks an eyebrow at FOX.

FOX

Hey, I can take that guy.

SARA

You won't have to. Give me
a map from the glove box.

FOX rustles around in the glove box, producing a battered road map. He hands it to SARA.

SARA
(continued)

Keep your head down.

SARA cracks the car door and closes it behind her. FOX scoots down in his seat, peering over the edge of the door.

We can't HEAR what is being said, but we see the following: SARA slinks towards the SECURITY GUARD, who stops in his rounds and acknowledges her. We see SARA indicate her car and then the map, then the SECURITY GUARD peruses the map. We see the SECURITY GUARD shake his head, but indicate that SARA should follow him inside. SARA follows the SECURITY GUARD. FOX sees her curl a finger behind her back for him to follow. FOX exits the car and trots to the door the pair entered through.

INT – SECURITY OFFICE – NIGHT

FOX eases open the door marked "Security". Inside we see SARA standing behind a desk, considering some paperwork. The SECURITY GUARD is on the floor, bound with a lamp cord and unconscious. A FIRE EXTINGIUSHER lies on the floor next to him.

FOX
(aghast)

You cold-cocked him?

SARA

He'll be fine. Shove him under the desk.

FOX pushes the SECURITY GUARD'S body under the desk. SARA considers some paperwork from the desk.

SARA
(continued)

According to the schedule, we have
about ninety minutes until the
next shift starts. He seems
to be the only one on duty.

FOX stands before a wall plan of the building and traces a route with his finger.

FOX

Labs are on the third floor.

CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

FOX and SARA walk down a HALLWAY, leading to a pair of window-less double doors. A sign proclaims "Safety Research – Limited Admittance". FOX readies his pistol, and pushes open the doors.

INT. SAFETY LABS – NIGHT

The labs are deserted, lit by half-power overhead lights. Various pieces of equipment sit silenced, assorted tables are filled with pieces of airplane and zeppelin parts. One entire wall is made up of a series of ceiling high filing cabinets.

FOX

Any chance that's going to be
organized alphabetically?

CUTTER
(O.S.)

Don't count on it.

CUTTER eases out from behind a cluttered desk. He holds a .45 pistol in his hand.

CUTTER
(continued)

Hands up, the both of you.

SARA and FOX comply.

CUTTER
(to FOX)

You, drop your piece.

FOX eases his pistol from his holster and drops it to the floor.

SARA
(to FOX)

There isn't supposed to be
anyone else on guard duty.

FOX

He's no guard.

CUTTER

You got that right. I've been on the
two of you since you landed yesterday.

SARA

Cutter. The one who killed my father.

CUTTER
(laughing)

I also collect coins. But the
other hobby pays much better.

SARA

You can't kill us.

CUTTER

No? Two criminals committing breaking and
entering into a private building,who have already knocked
out a security guard? I think I probably can.

FOX

There's evidence of what you did.

CUTTER

Sure there is. Except your flightcrew witness
mysteriously died tonight. And the files that were
here are already gone.

SARA

There's more.

CUTTER

No doubt. Whatever you found at
the professors house, I imagine. But
I also figure you probably have
it on you right now, don't you?

Let's have it.

SARA reaches into her jacket and removes the sheaf of papers. She holds them out to CUTTER. CUTTER eases himself towards her, keeping the gun leveled on the pair. When he is close enough, CUTTER snatches the papers from SARA's hand. He quickly peruses them.

CUTTER
(angry)

What is this? These aren't
safety results!

CUTTER scatters the pages across the floor. Enraged, he steps to SARA and thrusts the gun at her face.

CUTTER
(screaming)

Where are they!?

With great speed, FOX sweeps up a lab stool and arcs it down on CUTTER'S gun hand. CUTTER howls in pain, but manages to retain the gun. CUTTER snaps off a shot at FOX, missing him. SARA scoops up FOX'S pistol from the floor. FOX swings at CUTTER again, who manages to recover and scamper towards the back of the lab with his gun.

CUTTER fires once over his shoulder at SARA while running. A cabinet next to her buckles from the shot, but she aims and snaps off several shots of return fire. One of the shots catches CUTTER low, tossing him onto the lab floor with a grunt. CUTTER'S gun spins away from him.

SARA drops to the floor and grabs at CUTTER. She turns him over. Blood is flowing from his mouth, and he clutches at his stomach.

SARA

Cutter. Who took the plans?

CUTTER
(gasping)

The plans were bad.

SARA

We know. Where are
the rest of the plans?

CUTTER

Lockheed has them. At his
house in the Palisade Hills.

SARA leaves CUTTER. She puts FOX's gun into her pocket.

SARA

Let's go.

FOX picks up CUTTER'S gun from the lab floor.

FOX
(indicating Cutter)

He's dying. You want to just
leave him here like this?

SARA considers the writhing figure lying in a pool of blood.

SARA

It'll give him time to think about it.

SARA walks out of the lab. FOX considers CUTTER, then pulls the magazine on CUTTER'S .45 and clicks out the remaining rounds onto the floor. He slips one shell back into the magazine, and snaps it shut. He bends down and puts the gun next to the moaning CUTTER. He stands and follows SARA in exiting the lab.

FOX
(over his shoulder)

Make that count.

EXT. LOCKHEED SAFETY LABS – NIGHT

We see the Lockheed Lab building from outside. SARA and FOX walk towards their parked car. There is the sharp report of a GUNSHOT from behind them.

CUT TO:

EXT. PALISADE HILLS – NIGHT

SARA and FOX wind their car up the curving roads of Palisade Hills. This is an enclave for the rich and powerful of Hollywood. Big houses and properties abound. SARA pushes the car as fast as it will go. FOX eyes her as she drives.

SARA

Something on your mind, Fox?

FOX

You were right. I didn't
have to play executioner.

SARA (snapping)

No, but somebody had to. Should
I let you out right here, Fox?

FOX

Where did you put the files
from your father's house?

SARA

I never took them. I knew whoever
had been there wouldn't be coming
back for anything else. So I
left them there. I gave Cutter the
roadmap and a menu from the diner.

FOX

And wasn't he surprised…

SARA

Yeah, he was surprised right up
until the bullet that got him.

FOX

So you don't mind if I hold onto
my gun when we talk to Lockheed?

SARA says nothing, but slips FOX'S gun out and hands it to him.

SARA

Better reload.

EXT. PALISADE HILLS – NIGHT

SARA swings the car up the final turn in the hill. From here you can see the entire city of Pasadena twinkling alight. SARA stops the car at a driveway barred by two enormous iron gates.

FOX
(surveying the gates)

How do you know this is it?

SARA

It's the highest one on the hill.

FOX and SARA exit the car, and consider the gates. The first light begins to creep over the eastern horizon.

FOX

If Lockheed was expecting Cutter
to check in, he may have
already been spooked off.

SARA

Maybe.

CUT TO:

EXT. PALISADE HILLS – NIGHT

FOX and SARA skirt the outside of the estate's stone wall. They come to a break in the wall where a smaller iron gate blocks a path through the wall into the garden. FOX reaches through the gate and unhooks the lock, easing the gate open. SARA and FOX slip through.

EXT. PALISADE HILLS GARDEN – APPROACHING DAWN

Crouching, FOX and SARA skirt the gardens and hedges and approach the mansion walls. The sun is beginning to lighten the Eastern sky. There are several lights on within the building. SARA approaches a set of French doors and tries the handle. It's locked. SARA looks at FOX, who shrugs. She gestures, and he slips his gun into her hand. Rearing back, SARA smashes at one of the glass panes with the gun.

The pane tinkles in, and SARA thrusts her hand through the pane to turn the door handle.

INT. PALISADE MANSION – DAWN

SARA and FOX burst through the doors into the lobby of the mansion. A curved staircase flanks each side of the room, and the main doors are across from the pair. At the top of one of the staircases is LOCKHEED, wearing a housecoat over pajamas. He levels a SHOTGUN at the pair.

LOCKHEED

That's far enough.

FOX and SARA freeze in their places. LOCKHEED descends the staircase slowly, stopping near the bottom. He never wavers in his grip on the shotgun.

LOCKHEED
(continued)

When Cutter never reported in after
the lab, I imagined that I'd be
receiving guests before the night
was out. Cutter talked, didn't he?

FOX

Not so much Cutter as
the hole in his belly.

LOCKHEED

The man always was unreliable.

SARA

He did solid-enough work at the
airport last week, didn't he?

LOCKHEED

Hardly. My intention wasn't to spark an
investigation and a class-action lawsuit.

SARA

Just eliminate one of your employees.

LOCKHEED

A threat, my dear. Nothing more.
In this business, something or
someone is either an asset or
a threat. Not unlike yourselves.
I had hoped that Cutter put an
end to your investigations, but
now I may have to do that myself.

FOX

Don't you want to know why?

LOCKHEED

Why you're involved? It's of
no concern to me. The fact that
you have involved yourselves at
all is sufficient cause for me
to remove you from the situation.

SARA

Professor Andrews was my father.

LOCKHEED

Indeed? Then your family is about to
be dealt a second untimely blow.

LOCKHEED raises the shotgun at the pair.

FOX

Get down!

FOX pushes SARA to the marble floor as a nearby column EXPLODES in a blast of plaster dust. SARA levels the pistol at LOCKHEED, but he has already fled up the staircase.

SARA

We have to get after him!

SARA rushes up the staircase, with FOX on her heels. The top of the staircase leads to a hallway, and we see LOCKHEED slip through a door at the. SARA and FOX rush to the door. SARA pulls on the handle.

SARA

It's locked!

FOX

Stand back.

FOX rears back and SLAMS his foot into the door, smashing the lock. The sagging door reveals a staircase leading up to a trap door, opened to the early morning sky.

SARA

Heli-pad.

CUT TO:

INT. PALISADE ROOFTOP – EARLY DAWN

LOCKHEED sits in the cockpit of a gyro-copter, a small helicopter-like vehicle. Its blades whir furiously, as LOCKHEED adjusts some controls and checks some gauges.

SARA and FOX rush up from the trap door out onto the rooftop. They shield their faces from the wind of the gyrocopter's blades. LOCKHEED sees the pair, and jerks the stick back to lift the gyrocopter away. The copter lifts, but LOCKHEED pulls the small craft too far back, and the rear rotor clips the edge of the heli-pad railing.

The gyro-copter pinwheels in mid-air, twisting violently back and forth. Lockheed screams as he works the stick, the small copter lurching to one side and CRASHING to the grounds behind the mansion in a twisted pile of fire and metal. FOX rushed to the edge of the heli-pad, but it's obvious that no one could survive the crash. FOX shields his face from the fiery heat, watching as the thin metal of the copter melts into the grass of the estate.

INT. PALISADE ROOFTOP – EARLY DAWN

FOX

Let's get out of here, pronto.

There is the sound of a pistol hammer ratcheting back.

SARA
(O.S.)

Not you, Fox.

FOX turns. SARA is pointing his gun right at him.

FOX

SARA, what are you doing?

SARA

I'm letting you take the fall.

FOX

For what?

SARA

Industrial espionage. Cutter's murder,
Lockheed's murder. It won't be
overly tidy as far as frame-ups go,
but the cops will have a body and a gun
and that's usually enough for them.

FOX
(reeling)

What is all this about?

SARA

Goliath, Fox.

FOX

The zeppelin? What about it?

SARA

It's the future, Fox. And somebody
wants it bad enough to pay a
lot of money for the plans.

FOX

What about Andrews, your father?
He was killed by Lockheed.

SARA

Andrews wasn't my father. I
never even knew him.

FOX

What?

SARA

Andrews was an engineer. And
He did find a fatal flaw that
Lockheed had him killed for.
That just gave me a story to
hook you in with. I went to
Andrew's house to steal the
Goliath information, which I
assumed he had taken to prove
the Goliath was a danger. When
I saw it was just safety documents
he had stolen, I knew I
had to get to the rest of them.
Lockheed had already taken them
from the lab, but Cutter was nice
enough to tell me where Lockheed
had gone.

FOX

But the letter -

SARA

Faked. Oh, I did need a way
into Hollywood without attention
you were still helpful on that
account. I was going to dispose of
you after we landed, but once I
knew Cutter was on my trail I
figured you were still useful.

FOX

Maybe Lockheed doesn't have
the rest of the plans here.

SARA

True enough. But I'll have plenty
of time to look after you're dead.

FOX

And Digger? Did he set me up for this?

SARA

Digger? Of course not...he just can't
say no to a woman. I asked him
for a pilot desperate to take a
paying job on short notice, and he
gave me you.

FOX

So now what?

SARA

Now you take the fall for murder and
theft - just a small-time pirate
who attempted to steal Lockheed's
new airship blueprints. And I
take your plane back East to a
hefty payday.

FOX

My plane? Oh, that stings -

SARA (laughing)

I imagine it does. If it's any
consolation, I'll have to kill
that idiot mechanic for seeing
us together. Consider it my gift
to you.

SARA levels at FOX's chest and fires the gun. CLICK. The gun fails to go off. Stunned, SARA quickly fingers the trigger again. CLICK. CLICK.

SARA
(stunned)

How did you know?

FOX

I didn't. I just ran out
of bullets at the lab.

FOX crosses the heli-pad in a flash. He bunches his left hand into SARA's jacket, and his right fist CRASHES into her jaw like a freight train. SARA sags to her knees, and FOX drops her from his hand onto the heli-pad floor.

FOX

That's for making me
come out to Hollywood.

FOX picks his gun from SARA's hand, pocketing it in his jacket. FOX surveys the smoldering wreck of the gyrocopter and the dawn light breaking on the horizon.

CUT to OVERHEAD shot:

FOX leaves SARA prostrated on the heli-pad. He walks across the pad and down into the trap door.

MONTAGE - DAY

FOX driving the car down the curves of PALISADE HILLS as police cruisers rush up the other lane towards the house.

FOX searching the bedroom of the PROFESSOR'S house – discovering the safety plans left by SARA.

FOX depositing an envelope into a mailbox – the envelope reads HHOLLYWOOD POLICE on the front.

SARA being pushed into a police car at PALISADES GARDENS in handcuffs.

FOX throwing his gun off of a sea coast cliff into the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean.

FOX at the HOLLYWOOD AIRPORT, tossing his bag into the cockpit of his KESTREL, and heaving himself up onto the wing.

CUT TO:

WIDE SHOT of FOX at the controls of this plane, the stunning sunset of the west behind him, as he slips through the clouds of a brilliant red sky.

FADE OUT

END