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“Easy Red, just keep comin boy.†Chet whispered to his horse that walked behind them freely as they walked into town and stopped in front the saloon.

He gazed at the saloon for a long moment, it was where his day had begun, his long over due day. Chet avoided looking at the black clad stranger, but he respected the fact that a gun was indeed pointed at him.

Chet only nodded at what the man in black said and stepped down from the Mustang and stood with his hands at chest height, his horse stood on the other side of the big black animal that the stranger was ridding.

A drink sounded good, but he wasn’t going to move until instructed to, there was know need for anyone to get hurt. An the possibility of some kind of bargain over the three remaining Thoroughbreds sounded worthy of a good talk over an ice cold beer.

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At Chet's nod, Brian dismounted his own horse, the gun in his right hand remaining out in the open. "Awright," Brian said when both men stood eye to eye. "You g'wan in first. You'll recognize that blonde drifter once yer inside. He's workin' with me, so don't try any stunts."

Brian motioned with the gun, having Chet walk into the saloon first. Once inside, Brian put his weapon away, but kept his long coat brushed back from the holster. He guided Chet to the end of the bar where Alex waited.

Chet was made to stand between the two men, who now had every outlaw advantage. Brian took a whiskey bottle from the bar and poured himself a shot. He let the captured horse thief sweat a moment in silence while the smooth whiskey was consumed.

Brian shoved the shotglass away and turned his dark eyes to Chet. "Time for you to spill the beans," he announced. "Tell us who you had lined up to buy those stolen horses. And don't leave nothin' out....'cause you're lookin' at a short future with a long rope."

(cue anybody)

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The dark haired Duke boy took a deep breath an coward some what under the wide black brim of his Stetson, an he leaned his elbows on the bar in front of him. His heart raced with nervousness, his brain pounded with each pulse of blood. Chet turned his head to the right, the black clad stranger stood on his right, on his blind side making it impossible to see him, and the blonde stranger stood on his left.

“Alright....†Chet sighed again and wiped some sweat an trail dust from his goatee. “There were nine horses. I left three in the livery while I took care of some business, the other six I left with the gang that helped me steal them.â€

It was time to stall a little, Chet felt it a good idea to make sure that he wasn’t going to get the neck tie party even if he did give all the information that these slicks wanted.

(Cue anyone)

“Can I build a smoke?†He asked motioning slowly towards his pocket. “There’s no gun in that pocket, I swear it on my horse.â€

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"No, you ain't gonna roll no smoke." Brian gritted the words. "And if you don't move your hand away from that pocket, real easy-like, I'm gonna do more shootin' and less listenin'."

Brian narrowed his dark eyes and scowled dangerously. "I've got three of your horses already...four, countin' that ansy thoroughbred you ride. I could sell them all right now, for enough money to keep me in women and whiskey for a month. Ah don't need you around to accomplish that. So ah'm beginnin' to wonder if this is gonna be worth mah time."

With one hand resting on the handle of his gun, Brian kept a steady stare on the captured horse thief.

(Cue anybody! What else is going on in town? Anybody in the saloon watching this? People up to something outside? Or is everybody waitin' for me to either shoot Chet or string him up? )

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Chet wrinkled his brow at the black clad stranger, he was serious, too serious about these horses. The future looked grim for Chet an he felt empty and alone inside, chances were even if he spilled everything about the horse he would still be dead before the next sun down.

He moved slowly, resting both hands on the bar palm down and flat. There was nothing he could do, the stranger had a point, just about anyone with a lot of money and some good breeding stock would by those horses for a beautiful price. Chet sighed feeling a little nervous, he didn’t want to die over this little misunderstanding. His voice mellowed an fell down with a deep melancholy.

“The gang that I ride with an myself were going to self the horses to a man on the southern boarder of Atlantic City, he said he would give us $15 grand a piece for the stallions and $10 grand a piece for the mares.†He paused feeling foolish and embarrassed. “Because of my delay here in town, trying to hide the three and all that the gang took the remaining 6 horses to the train station, sold them and ran with the money without me.â€

Chet tipped his head forward more an his eyes dropped down to the floor, this was the end, he had told all they would need to know. He glanced at his hands still flat on the bar, they were dirty and crested with thick calluses from his years of ridding and working with his hands. An soon they would work no more, his life would be over, his constant struggle would come to an end.

(I wanted to gives someone besides Brian and I a chance to post, but my author an I may not be around for a short time, her horse has fallin ill an needs more attention then usuall.)

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Alex heard what the dark haired kid said, then raised an eyebrow.

"15 grand for stallions and 10 grand for mares? That's a lot of serious bucks, race horses or not."

He glanced at Brian, a questioning in his dark eyes.

"What kind of man has THAT kind of money Brian? Or better yet, what kind of man is WILLING to fork out that kind of money to a gang of thieves?" Alex then looked at the kid, his hanging head had all the look of a defeated man, but was he really or was he simply giving his gang time to regroup and come back for the remaining three horses.

"What do you think Brian? Think he's telling the truth or just feeding us a load of bunk?"

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(coposted with Jax)

Chance's musings were interruppted by the voice of her rescuer...only to be find herself looking at the woman whose earrings she has stolen. She sighed and closed her eyes. Her name may be chance, but her luck was running low in Hazzard. But a ride back to town couldn't be turned down. So she smiled, hoping the lady would'nt put two and two together and realized who had picked her pocket.

"Yes, ma'am, we could use one. Kind of ya to ask."

She also flicked a glance at Min, absently touching one of her own ears, hoping her partner got the sign of who they were dealing with.

Min gave a nod in reply and put on her best charming smile. "We appreciate the ride ma'am." She then turned her gaze to Enos, who blushed hard and grew fidgety in his saddle. "Excuse me...we appreciate the BOTH of you helping us out like this."

(Cue Val! Thanks for the lift!)

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Valerie took in a deep breath as she helped the gambler up to her saddle with a outstreched hand. Soon the four were headed toward town again. Some how the butterflies wouldn't quit fluttering in her stomach.

"So um, is it alright if we drop you off at the saloon? We're heading into town to talk to some folks and will be passing by there." Val asked her passagner.

The gamber nodded as they continued on their way to town. The distance wasn't that far by horse back, but by foot the trip would have gruling. Soon the party was in front of the saloon.

Val and Enos allowed their passageners to dismount. Val glance at the gambler and working girl for a moment longer, then waved, "Take care..."

With that the twins were headed to the jail to see the Sheriff.

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It was like someone had dropped a rock into his stomach as Chet herd the words of the blond stranger, he didn’t believe him and there was very little or no way of proving that he was telling the truth.

“My horse isn’t worth more then $8 grand, he’s gelded.†Chet’s voice came in near a whisper, his head still bowed.

The Red gelding was more then just another race horse, he had grown to become Chet’s companion and his only trusted friend. But there was little he could say or do to prove that he was telling the truth, Jericho and the rest of the gang had left him behind convinced that he had finally sealed his own fate.

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"Possum on a gumbush! Ya mean there is a horse theif on the loose as well!" Enos exclaimed after he heard Rosco explain about the tellagram of the missing race horses.

"Wow, that sure is alot of money. You think they are in Hazzard?" Val asked Rosco.

"I had a tip off that they might be. Plus we ran into the cur in the alleyway. So I'm pretty sure we can get'em. Kehee, khee..." Rosco made a grasping motion with his hand.

"Well, thank you Sheriff. Oh here is what the earing looks like if you happen to find some one with something like it. They had jade stones." Val replied showing Rosco the clasp.

Rosco looked over the clasp quick then bid the Strate's farewell,"Jit, jit... remember there's horse theives out there so hang on to those pretty ponies ya both got."

"Yep, we sure hope to Rosco, thanks for the information." Enos replied as the pair were getting ready to leave.

(cue anyone)

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Meanwhile, back in the Boar's Nest Saloon....

Brian listened to Alex's words, then considered Chet's fate. The dejected horse thief seemed to be sinking through the floor, knowing he was beaten and the game was lost.

"That's a mighty high price for a horse," Brian drawled to Chet. "Even if yer exaggeratin' those numbers, ah figure we can sell the whole set of nags around heah for a ree-spectable sum. But tell me somethin'..."

At this, Brian's gaze hardened, and his expression flattned until his grin was little more than a thin line. "What's the bounty on yer head? Seems to me, it might more n' make up for any shortfall."

(cue anyone!)

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That was it, the book was about to close, an it dawned on Chet that he would not live happily ever after. The bounty on his head was a very large sum, he had earned it over a long period of time an it had grown.

He shook his head not raising his eyes... this was the end, Chet knew he was as good as dead.

" I dont know the exact amount.... but it is large." His voice came in near a whisper.

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“The Sheriff didn’t specify a preference, darling.†Daisy replied.

Daney stepped up behind the handsome black clad man, his blond companion and Chet.

Daney silently laid a wrinkled paper on the counter. "You may find this of some assitance in your decision, sir." She answered respectfully.

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It was like someone blew the whistle on the steam engine and woke Chet up from a sleep so deep he could have been considered the next Rip Van Winkle. He looked from Alex to Brian, and from Brian to Alex. These two fools were doing nothing but enjoying the site of him squirming and cowering right before there very eyes.

Did they have no honor or dignity among a fellow outlaw? They defiantly weren’t citizens of the town, in that case what the hell kind of outlaws were they? Chet glared! What the hell was up with these guys, it made no sense at all. A pair of gun slicks turning in another gun slick for the likes of a meager bounty, when all they had to do was rob a bank an triple the price of the lowly bounty!

Why go through all this trouble? Defiantly wasn’t for there health, messing with a outlaw such as himself was no game of poker even with a straight hand or a flush, the chances were too steep for that kind of half ass pay.

Chet lowered his eyes again, but this time instead of frowning, his wild eyed half smile crossed his face an it more often then not spelt trouble. A plan was forming in his head, an the racing of his heart had changed its tune from a fear filled gallop to an adrenaline rush of crow hops. It was one risky plan, an to a degree a stupid plan but it was better then standing there between two half ass outlaw wanna-bees. On top of it they were in cahoots with the law...good lord. Chet shook his head, how low were these slicks willing to stoop.

The bartender set two heavy glass beer mugs filled to the top with cold golden beer on the bar for one of the saloon girls to pick up an take to a near by table. Chet eyed the glasses for a moment, still keeping his wild expression low on the bar counter as his right hand sought the handle of one of the cups an his left did the same as though he were gonna take a sip of each.

With a furious, shrill shout of sudden effort he raised both glasses in lightening speed swinging both his arms out so that the heavy glass mugs connected with the side of each of his captures heads. He felt the glasses shatter as they made contact an he released them.

With a mighty grunt of effort he dove over the bar counter before him an hauled himself over the other side, Chet came down on the wooden planked floor on the other side of the bar with a hard thud and the sound of shattering glass. Quickly he scrambled to his knees and drew his .45 from his holster on his hip an another one from a hidden shoulder holster under his long duster.

Chet breathed like he had run a mile an his heart raced as he hurriedly leaned his back against the wall behind the bar counter giving him a wide range of view an the protection of the counter in front of him. A gun in each hand, he drew back the hammer on each an waited, calming his breath so that he could hear the gun slicks movements.

“You two aint taking me to the law while I’m still breathing!†He paused to listen for a moment, his voice deep. “ So we either come to some kind of agreement....or a lot of innocent people are about to get hurt.†Again he paused his voice to turn his left hand gun on the bartender who stood near by frozen in shock. “Starting with this fine bartender!†The depth of Chets voice was serious, this was no threat, it was a promise.

(Cue Alex or Brian.)

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From the other side of the bar, came a low growl. The black-clad Coltrane was crouched on the floor, recovering from the wallop, his back to the protective wall of the wooden bar.

"You wasted two perfectly good beers," Brian snarled. "And the reason why ah had brought you heah, insteada right to the Sheriff, was to figure out what to do with yer sorry ass. Ah mighta let you go, boy...yer peanuts anyway. But now....you've made the decision for me."

A deadly silence lingered while the words sunk in. The click of Brian's gun signaled that this insult would not go unanswered.

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Alex sat on the bar room floor, shaking his head out. He touched the side of his head where the beer mug had hit, lucky he hadnt been cut by the glass but his hat did little to cushion the blow either. His bell having been rung but good, he blinked a moment seeing Brian's angry face. He quickly shifted and drew his pistol, cocked it back and joined the dark haired man. His own anger began to build now at being blindsided by a mug of beer. Alex leaned with his back to the bar, his pistol pointed barrel up.

"How do you want to do this Brian? Take him from either side or what?"

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The young dark haired Duke tucked his hat down on his head tighter and readied his grip on his guns. He herd what they said, if they both came from a side they may very well have a chance of getting him, but not before he wounded or killed one of them.

"No agreement huh? Thats too bad, looks like I'm gonna have to kill this tender and anyone else who gets in my eye shot." Chet paused, this was crazy, over a bunch of race horses.....

"Can't we take this else where?"

Chet straightened his back against the wall and listened closely, if they came at him from each side, his right ear would hear one and his left eye would see the other. He didnt have to see them completely to shot, all he needed was a clue of exactly where they were.

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The choices began to weigh on his mind, stay there an face sheer death without question. Or drop his weapons and take a chance that in time a cahnce to escape before he hung would show itself.

A deep sigh came from the young Dukes throat and he set his guns on the floor and removed his black stetson, he was going to do something he hadn't done since he had left home. He sat up on his knees and clapped his hands together in prayer, bowing his head in hopes that somehow there would be mercy on him for what he had done.

After his silent prayer was over he picked his guns back up and slid them over the bar in surrender. Then he removed another gun from his other shoulder holster, slid that one acrossed the bar. with that he took the other two .45 that were jammed in his back waist band and surrended the last of his weapons over the bar.

With a final plea he whispered before his reply an complete surrender to the black Clad and the blond.

"God have mercy on me...."

He swallowed and readied himself. "Thats it thats all of them....you want my huntin knife too?"

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Just at that moment, the swinging doors opened and Min came into the saloon. Looking a tad worse for wears she gazed down at herself and began brushing some dust from her face and fancy dress.

"Paid a fortune for this! It's imported silk!" She muttered to herself as she headed for her room but then stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the two crouching men with their guns drawn and raised an eyebrow.

"Am I missing something boys?"

Min then gazed around the bar seeing the tense faces of the other patrons. Whatever was going on, she walked right into the middle of it...

(Cue Alex or Brian)

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Hearing the guns clattering on top of the bar, along with the implied surrender, Brian glanced at Alex and nodded. They would stand up at the same time, guns drawn, and take the risk. If this was a trick, one of them, at least, stood to be a wealthier man when it was all over.

Brian waited just a second to address Daney and Min. "Git back," he ordered. "Both of ya." No sense in giving Chet any free victims, if the guns on the bar were nothing more than a ruse. Wouldn't take much to grab one fast and point it into a face....

This in mind, Brian silently counted to three, cueing Alex as he did so. Brian moved his back away from the bar and stood up fast, his gun in his right hand and pointed directly at Chet. With his left hand, he swept the weapons down the bar towards Alex, getting them away from Chet's reach.

"Awright," Brian growled, his temper making his trigger-finger twitch. "You've proven two things. We can't take you on the trail with us, because you'd probably cut our throats in the middle of the night. We can't just leave you loose, 'cause you'll threaten innocent folk when the law gets close. Yer also too fond of kidnappin' people."

Brian kept the gun steady. He'd never wanted to pull a trigger so much in his life. "This saloon is chock-full of witnesses, which is the only thing keepin' me from killin' you heah and now." Grimly, Brian smiled. "But seein' as how ah'm a man of mah word, we'll just take you to the Sheriff. End ree-sult will be the same, ah reckon. First, tho'....I owe you a drink."

With that, Brian's left hand snaked out to grab a nearby whiskey bottle. He swung it and smashed it over Chet's head, watching in satisfaction as the rogue Duke crumpled to the floor.

"Keep a bead on him, Alex." Brian climbed over the bar, tucking his gun away and pulling out a handkerchief from his coat. Crouching down to the floor, he took advantage of Chet's groggy condition to secure his hands behind his back. Once the handkerchief had been tied into a solid knot around Chet's wrists, Brian stood up, hauling Chet up with him. "Gift-wrapped and ready for dee-livery."

Brian guided Chet out from behind the bar, pushing the doomed Duke in front of him. Brian drew his gun and kept it aimed at the rustler's back. They joined up with Alex. "You've been awright," Brian told the blonde drifter. "Take him in and claim the reward. I'll keep 'em covered."

(cue Alex or Chet, or anyone witnessing this in the saloon)

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