During this stage we meet most of our major characters, and the main quests are put into motion: to build the John Galt Line to save Colorado and find the inventor of the motor.
Our main heroes are faced with an increasing number of trials, both personal and professional. In this period more businessmen disappear and Dagny is unable to save the John Galt Line.
Things seem really bleak here after the disastrous Directive is passed. Dagny quits only to be sucked back into things after the Taggart Tunnel disaster. Hank is meanwhile blackmailed into signing away the rights to his Metal because of his relationship with Dagny. All the major characters seem isolated and beaten here.
After an exciting plane chase and crash we get a lot of answers and shocking revelations while Dagny is in Atlantis with John Galt and all the people who have disappeared.
Dagny leaves Atlantis and all the book's major relationships are dramatically changed. Things get worse in the real world and after a lot of trials Hank finally goes to Atlantis, leaving Dagny alone.
Things start winding down once Galt delivers his radio address. The country's downfall is approaching and Dagny undergoes the last of her trials when Galt is captured. At the end of this stage, she finally decides to abandon her railroad.
Galt is saved and our heroes escape to Atlantis, though not without costs. New York blacks out, the country collapses, and Eddie Willers is left stranded in the wilderness.