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Unaware of a darn thing other than his need to get to Hazzard and try to help Alex, Brian urged his horse to maintain a rolling gallop. The black-clad outlaw pictured various scenarios of doom awaiting the blonde drifter who had befriended him. If the law lynched Alex, Brian would never forgive himself.

And Chet Duke being alive, was one more problem in a deck of spades.

With MaryAnne returning to Hazzrad sooner than expected - and arresting Alex along the way - a spur had been thrown into what seemed like a profitable, harmless venture of selling already-stolen horses.

But even before that, stuff had started going wrong. Chet had pushed things...and pushed himself into being expendable...and then Chet's gang had tore up the town and ended up littering the street with their lifeless bodies. That was the drawback about crime; it tended to compound itself....going far beyond original intent.

And though the Hazzard law was his kin, Brian knew that he was not exempt from the reckoning of justice. It was damn awkward when everyone else in the family wore a badge.

Now, instead of having a pile of cash and time to waste it, Brian had a patched-up body and a friend in deep trouble. And somewhere out there, were the remaining members of Chet's gang. If that wasnt' enough, there was also the long arm of the law....which would soon be reaching his way.

The best strategy Brian had, was to ride fast into town and break Alex out of jail before anyone realized he was there. No one would expect an outlaw to ride up to the county jail. He only had to make it there in one piece, and in record time....

(Cue anybody!)

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Daisy saw Daney a little behind everyone else. She slipped from the crowd of folks and went over to her cousin. “What’s the matter?â€

“I was just thinkin’ about Boss.†Daney whispered.

“How come?†Daisy was a bit surprised.

“If Min is at that cabin, you left to go find her, everyone else is here,†Daney gestured toward the group. “Who is at the saloon?â€

“Maybe Val and Enos are watchin’ the place, or Jesse and Miss Tisdale.†Daisy shrugged.

“Possibly, but they don’t exactly offer the same services that-†Daney paused.

“Oh,†Daisy brought her hands to her face. “I see what you mean…â€

Daney nodded. “Thinkin’ I should go talk to him while y’all carry on with other business.â€

“Sounds good to me,†Daisy said. “Or maybe you should offer to watch the Sheriff’s station with everyone leavin’?â€

“Cletus can handle it.†Daney smiled. “I’ll leave Examiner for you. Take care, be careful.†Daney hugged her cousin. Daisy returned the embrace. “You too.â€

The two let go, Daney hurried away. Daisy rejoined the crowd.

(cue Garrett or anyone)

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Enos and Val looked startled at the fact that he was moving. A man in his condition would be close to taking a dirt nap. Once they were warned they drew up their weapons as well but didn't take aim, not yet.

Enos frowned at the Duke boy's command but decided to reassure him, "Look... we mean you no harm. Just let us come over to help ya. Ya can't just lay there and die. It's no way to go. Now, let Val and me check yer wound and get ya some help."

Watching the fallen horse theif lay against the tree, Val gave him no sign of weekness in her expression. She felt her job should be to standby and protect her brother as needed and do what the Hazzard deputy asked of her. Her fingers curled tighter around her sport rifle as she watched Chet.

(Cue Garett or some of the other folks on the other lines. Chet, I'm also giving you a direct cue for this line. Whoever wants to go or get to it first.)

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“BANG!!! BANG!!!â€

“Stay back Enos.... This is your last warning! The next two shots will be to you chest and I wont miss! Just stay back. I’ve been given all the help I can chew and more.†Chet Duke said drawing back the hammer on his gun again.

He winced and he sat up more against the tree, his shoulder and side aching him. The Red Thoroughbred’s nostrils flared angrily as he stood close by, his ears laid back in warning.

“If ya know whats good for ya you’ll just keep right on riding. I don’t care if I die sitting here! Im not going back to town just to go to jail and get hung!â€

(Cue Val)

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Enos flinched at the shots Chet made. He was spared but he looked to his sister. She was spared as well but her weapon was keyed in with Chet Duke in her sights.

"Why don't we save you the trouble and take you out now. If you don't get help you'll probably bleed to death. If you go back to Hazzard you're looking at a short rope. I could sure save the taxpayers of Hazzard some money and time if you took your last breath now." Val snarled with her finger tracing the trigger. "Don't ever threaten my brother."

"VALERIE MARIE!" Enos snapped and pushed her rifle down. He put his gun down as well, "Look... if ya want to die here, fine. I ain't gonna stop ya, now or end ya prematurly. Ya had yer chance for help. But... if you could do me a favor and give me a clue as to where the curs who done this to you were headed. Let me at least help you by catchin' them. Please... after all you've done, you have a chance to change it. Help me find'em Chet... We'll ride away and leave ya be, but please just let us find'em."

Enos swallowed hard. He grasped Val by the shoulder and pulled her back toward their horses. He hoped his plee for information was heard.

(cue anyone - preferly Chet on this line for response)

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It was like someone had stuck a red hot iron through him, a flare of burning pain suddenly came shooting up Chet’s body spreading from his gut and his shoulder. He groaned loudly, his hand dropping his gun to the ground and pressing firmly over his shoulder. The young outlaws eyes squinted tightly shut as he fought against the darkness of unconsciousness.

How foolish was he? Here was two people who cared enough to help him, an he was turning them away even though he was now facing death from lose of blood.

“Im sorry....†Chet cringed and wavered with dizziness. “ I’ve been through hell... the past two days.â€

Feeling weak and exhausted he leaned away from the tree and laid back on the ground, wincing as his back touched the dirt. Resting against the dirt he relaxed, no longer feeling threatened by Valerie and Enos Strate, and it was safe to say that he now silently welcomed there help.

“I know... I’ll die if I say here...†He paused his mismatched eyes staring up at the darkening sky. “But dying don’t sound half bad.....right now.â€

With his right hand pressed over his left shoulder he raised his left hand from the ground an tiredly waved with a flick of his wrist for them to come closer.

“Dun’ mind Red.... he’s just...†He winced squinting his eyes at a flare up of pain.â€scared...â€

(Cue Valerie or anyone)

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Enos had looked over his shoulder once the gunslinger started talking. He stopped when Chet spoke the words, 'I'm sorry'. It took a lot for Chet to say his apology, and Enos knew it. He then turned around, “So do you want help then?”

The pain filled his eyes and being but he nodded at the deputy for that chance at relief from it all. Enos turned back to Val and whispered, “Put the gun down and get yer pack.”

Val regarded her brother’s request and put her rifle away and retrieved a sack from her saddlebag. Then the twins came closer to the Duke boy to examine the wound.

(Cue Chet)

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(**Joint post by Valerie Strate and Chet Duke**Thanks for you help Val)

It was like someone through the young Duke boy a life line, he laid back and relaxed even though his body ached and screamed in pain.

"I didnt mean.... to snap at ya'll... but I'm at the end... of my road."

Enos looked into the mis-matched eyes as he knelt down beside Chet, "We know... ya don't have to explain Chet. We know. Now, where did they get ya?"

Val knelt down on the other side of Chet near his wound. Carefully she looked at the blood caked cloth of his shirt.

"My shoulder... right above my heart." Chet winced moving.

He unbottoned the first two buttons on his shirt and pushed the blood soaked sky blue shirt away. His wound revealed, a simple bullet wound, clean through and bleeding heavily.

"I guess they figured I was done for."

Val pulled out some bandages from her pack. She also took out a flask of clear liquid. Gently she poured some of the liquid over the bare flesh of his wound, "That should clean it out.""ARRAHHH!"

Chet shouted and suddenly sat strate up as the liquid touched his wound instantly burning something ferice. "That hurts!"

Slowly he laid back on the ground and panted, his eyes squinted shut tightly. "My horse agrees... Im retired... after this is all over!"

"Easy... Hold him Enos. I'm sorry Chet but we can't have you lay on the ground and risk getting dirt in that wound." Val then took some of the bandage rolls in the sack and rolled them around the shoulder. Enos helped steady Chet.

"That hurts...." Chet replied leaning against Enos for support, he swayed with dizziness. "What ya'll doing out here... any way?" Again Chet winced.

"I think we should camp here... evenings coming on..."

Val looked to Enos. Chet was not in the best of condition and it probably would be best if they didn't move him.

"Before we do... do you know where those fellas you were riding with were headed?" Enos asked.

Shaking his head Chet shut his eyes feeling waves of pain come over him. "There probably headed.... to Texas."

He breathed tiredly, it had been such a long evening already.

Enos took off his jacket and put it under Chet to allow him to sleep on it. He then got up hastly an went over to his horse.

"What are you doing?" Val asked her brother as she continued to monitor the Duke boy.

"I'm goin' to Texas..." Enos replied picking up his shotgun and making sure it was loaded, "I got a job to do."

"Enos! You can't go alone. Just look what they did to Chet! You'll be mince meat pie once they get done with you." Val pleeded. She noticed Chet was now resting and not stirring, "It's susicide!"

"Stay here with Chet. After a day's rest, you and him can come after me. But I got a hunch that the Sheriff is already on the trail of those guys. If I'm right... Sheriff Rosco and whoever's with him are already in pursuit. If I go now Val I can track the baddies down and maybe get back to Rosco. I'm not gonna confront them alone Val. Just track'em down, then get help." Enos replied.

Val bit her lower lip as she watched him mount Justice, "Becareful.... I love ya."

"Love ya too sis..." Enos called back as he spured Justice, "Yeeehaaaa!"

Val watched Enos ride off. She returned her attention back to Chet. Realizing she needed to build a campfire for the night, she got to work.

(Cue Anyone)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sometime during the early hours of the next morning, before sunrise Chet Duke awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the fire near by him crackling low with nothing left but coals. He opened his eyes and looked around, his hands wandered down his sides and touched his guns on his hips. Amazing enough there was very little pain in his shoulder and stomach, an he came to the assumption that it was safe to say that he was feeling better already.

Although he felt better he made his movement slow, first rolling over to see where Valerie and Enos were. His eyes landed on Val sleeping on her bed roll, but Enos was nowhere in site, Chet’s stomach sank to the pit. He had gone after the gang...

Feeling guilty now Chet quietly raised to his feet wincing a little as he twisted his stomach the wrong way. He knew there was only one thing he could do, it wasn’t the honest choice, or the lawful choice, but it seemed to be the only way that he would not swing from a noose if the Sheriff showed up.

“Psssst....†Chet whispered. “Red... come here.â€

In reply the Red horse standing near by slowly picked its way over to Chet and stood loyally, quickly Chet began to saddle the horse, being as quiet as he possibly could. After the saddling he took a lead pencil and a receipt from his saddle bags and jotted down a quick note on the back of the receipt to the Strates.

Dear Enos and Valerie,

I appreciate your help and I’m sorry I left like I did, but the best thing I can do is keep the two of you out of this whole mess. Please don’t try to follow me, tell the Sheriff that I’m dead. Tell him that you let my horse go free and that Im berried in the mound of dirt under the willow tree. Tell him that I died of multiple gun shot wounds, Im relying on you to keep me from swinging. I know that leaving was wrong, but the law would no doubt take my life for what I have done, so now Im off to make it right. I hope Enos makes it back alright. Im sure we’ll meet again someday, if we don’t, thank you.

Happy Trails ,

Chet Duke

With that said and done Chet placed the note under the tip of Val’s rifle barrel that lay near she was sleeping. Quickly Chet gathered as many rocks as he could find and built them into a makeshift grave, still being as quiet as possible. When that was done he took two large sticks from the near by woods and tied them together with a piece of string in the shape of a cross. With a warm coal from the fire he crudely printed his own name on the cross stick of the cross then jammed the cross down into the ground at the head of the grave.

One last look was enough satisfaction for him, as long as no one moved the rocks or dug there the empty grave would be left to look as real as could be without having a body in it. With one last glance at Valerie Strate he stepped into the saddle wincing a little he jerked his horses reins causing the horse to spin around. Feeling faintly guilty he squeezed his legs around Red and the horse galloped away into the dim lighting of the early morning.


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It was by sheer Coltrane luck that Brian rode into Hazzard without crossing paths with Chet, or with the gang of rustlers. Feeling as if his luck would hold, Brian guided Damascus towards the jailhouse.

The black Percheron-Arabian suddenly gave a shrill, happy whinny, bellowing a greeting to a herdmate. Damascus pulled on the bit, wanting to head towards the riders who were approaching.

Brian looked where Damascus was trying to go, and saw sunlight glance off a silver badge. "Oh hell...no, Damascus! You don't wanna go say hello to Phoenix right now! Turn around, boy! Come on, move!!"

(cue MaryAnne!)

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At the same time, MaryAnne's Appaloosa mare spotted Damascus and whinnied back in reply. MaryAnne pulled up the reins, stopping Phoenix and along side of her Doc and Alex stopped their horses too.

"Hey, there's Brian now," MaryAnne said. She raised an arm to wave in greeting but then suddenly realized that Brian was commanding Damascus to turn around.

"Brian, wait! Ugh, what the hell is he doing?!"

There was no choice now. The chase was on. MaryAnne nudged the flanks of Phoenix and the mare took off after the fleeing black clad cousin.

(Cue Brian, or Doc or Alex!)

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Alex had pulled Showdown to a stop; he had spotted the man in black at the same time MaryAnne had and a smile came to his face.

"Well that saves us the trouble of having to find him."

But the relief of finding his missing friend faded as he saw Brian trying to get out of there.

"Looks like he's heading in the other--" Alex started to say in reply to MaryAnne's question, but before he could finish his sentence the lady Deputy rode after her escaping kin. Glancing at the blond gambler beside him a moment, Alex shrugged his shoulders.

"We wanted to find Brian and there he went, so we better catch up."

Turning back towards the dust cloud that MaryAnne had left behind, Alex nudged Showdown to follow. The buckskin took off in a bright yellow streak after the pair of Coltrane cousins.

(Cue MaryAnne, Brian or Doc!)

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After convincing Damascus to gallop away from the cluster of riders, Brian hunched low in the saddle and leaned forward, urging his horse to hurry. Damascus, however, thought the whole chase was nothing more than a game of Keep Away From Phoenix, and repeatedly whinnied back at his appaloosa herdmate. Brian gritted his teeth and realized that even if he did outrun MaryAnne's posse, he'd eventually be found because Damascus wasn't going to shut up.

Brian glanced over his shoulder and saw the riders gaining ground. He recognized Alex and the lady gambler, Chance, riding with the law. With the grim paranoia that came from being an outlaw too long, Brian reasoned that Alex had turned against him, in order to save his own neck. And there was the lady gambler, with him.

It all fit like a pair of old boots. "A setup," Brian muttered to himself. "They get me buyin' that Alex is in trouble, so I run right into their arms! He's probably been workin' with that gamblin' woman from the get-go....and now I'm probably framed for eveythin'! Damn, ah'm a fool!"

Brian turned forward to try and coax Damascus into more effort. The black horse didn't have his heart in the escape, and had a tired gallop going. No amount of kicking to the flanks was making an impression. For the first time in his life, Brian regretted not wearing spurs. "@#$%!"

Another glance over the shoulder showed that precious ground was shrinking between him and the posse. He would have to make a stand, soon....or he'd be dragged back to town and strung up. Unless, of course, MaryAnne just shot him outright. It all depended on the mood she was in.

Brian figured on making her think about it first. He reached down and furled back the right side of his long black coat. His hand flashed down to his holster....and in a smooth, fluid motion, he withdrew the gun and spun the weapon in his hand, arm extended high in the air, sunlight gleaming from the barrel.

(Cue MaryAnne!)

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MaryAnne saw the weapon raised in the air and about had a coronary in the saddle. "What the hell is he running for?!"

Although surprised by her cousins showing of the weapon, MaryAnne was undeterred. If the dumb sodbuster was gonna shoot her out of the saddle just because she was worried about what had happened to him and wanted to make sure he was okay, let him. She figured Chance and Alex could explain it to him after the funeral.

"%*(#$" MaryAnne grumbled and kept after Brian, pushing Phoenix for all the speed the mare could give. MaryAnne loosened her grip on the reins and held on with one hand, while the other retrieved her rifle from the saddle bag. She continued to ride, one hand holding the riens while the rifle was pointed upward.

If Brian took a shot at her, MaryAnne would be more than happy to reply....

(Cue Brian!)

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Brian glanced over his shoulder to see MaryAnne hefting her rifle. His heart immediately felt like it was galloping ahead of the horse. There was no doubt in his mind, now....the law was after him and it meant business.

He had a choice. He could pivot Damascus around, and fire upon his kin....or...be fired upon.

With his left hand, Brian pulled Damascus's reins hard to the left, and pressed in with his leg. The big horse cut direction, turning and kicking up dirt with powerful hindquarters. Brian gave a yell and urged Damascus on towards the posse...."HYAAAAH!!"

His right arm was leveled and the pistiol aimed. If he was lucky, he could squeeze off a shot and shoot the rifle from MaryAnne's hand...

...unless she blew him out of the saddle first.

(Cue MaryAnne!)

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(Chance, Alex, please forgive the use/mention of characters)

MaryAnne saw the sudden turn of Brian's horse, and the unmistakable aim of the pistol. Damascus was barrelling towards them at full speed. Brian was hell bent for something. There was only way MaryAnne knew to find out for sure just how hell bent he was.

MaryAnne suddenly pulled on the reins and commanded Phoenix to a sudden stop. The rifle was brought down and laid across her lap. MaryAnne turned in the saddle just enough to face Brian and raised both hands in the air.

Chance and Alex had reined their horses to a stop as well and looked at MaryAnne, slacked jawed. For all they knew, they were about to witness the stupidest thing the deputy had ever done....

(Cue Brian!)

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Brian was mere seconds from firing when MaryAnne abruptly halted her horse. Just in time, he moved his finger away from the trigger, or MaryAnne's sudden change of posture might have resulted in disaster.

"@#$%&*!!" He yelled in surprise, reining in Damascus to a sliding stop. With his own horse just a few feet away from MaryAnne's, he stared at the possee as if all of them were crazy. MaryAnne, in particular, had confounded him. Brian kept the gun aimed for the moment and vented his feelings.

"Ah've heard of ree-verse psychology," he drawled, "But this takes the cake. MaryAnne, has it occurred to you that the law don't raise it's hands when makin' an arrest?! What kind of a posse is this?! "

The astounded looks coming back at him only perplexed Brian further. His dark eyes glanced from Alex to Chance. "Y'all might be new to this possee thang, but trust me, when you got the bad guy outnumbered three to one, that's not the time ya give up."

He then looked back at MaryAnne, who had kept her hands raised. There was something in her blue eyes that spoke louder than any words she might have offered....

(Cue MaryAnne....thanks for the rest of y'all's patience, we'll have an open cue soon)

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"It ain't?" Brian looked at MaryAnne, Alex and Chance and read the truth in their expressions. "Aw hell...."

Feeling awkward, he holstered his pistol and leaned back in the saddle. He cleared his throat and attempted an explanation. "Well....all I saw was the three of ya thunderin' after me, and with Chet shot and a bunch of rustlers dead in the streets....I....."

Brian paused, seeing MaryAnne staring at him. "Um.....awright, I thought Alex sold me out to save his own neck, and this lady gambler was gonna back up his story or somethin'! Last ah'd known, Alex was in jail, and then I see this, and...."

Shrugging, Brian broke off his explanation, and waited to see how much trouble he was really in.

(cue MaryAnne!)

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"Yeah, I already know about the carnage and chaos that took place in town. Alex here told me what happened. More than that, he told me you'd been shot! Chance here offered to show me where you were at, Alex here tagged along....tho' technically he's still in the custody of the Sheriff's department. Anyway, that's why we's was thunderin' after you. Tho' I can see where you could jump to the other conclusion." MaryAnne leaned back. "I'm glad you're okay. I'm also glad you didn't decide to blow me off my horse here and ask questions later...." the deputy grinned.

(Cue Brian!)

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"So am I, cousin. Woulda been the worst mistake of my life." There was an apology in Brian's tone, and he reached up and touched the brim of his hat in a salute-like gesture. He then nudged Damascus closer.

After a sober pause, Brian made a decision. "If Alex is in your custody.....then I am, too. Ah can show ya proof enough with the bullet I caught, that some of the ruckus was in self-defense. From there...we'll have to sort it out."

(Cue MaryAnne - then open cue)

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Chance had been watching all this silently and idly wondering if this was simply a normal afternoon in Hazzard. She had let a long breath when it seemed no bullets would be traded between the Coltrane cousins.

Then she remembered when Chet had first kidnapped her and made her an offer she had very easily refused.

She pulled her horse besides MaryAnne's.

"Deputy, would having a witness to Chet confessing his thievery be helpful?"

(Cue Brian, Alex or MaryAnne)

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Alex sighed in relief that the guns had been put away and the two Coltrane cousins were exchanging words, not bullets. He heard what Doc said and sighed in relief that the Deputy would have more to go on than his story alone.

Brian nudged his big horse closer to MaryAnne and Alex did the same to Showdown, moving the mustang to face the man in black and his horse.

"I didn't turn you in Brian, I was trying to find you and when Chance told us where you were, I wanted to get there to make sure you were all right. I'm just damn glad you're in one piece."

A smile came to his face as he stretched out his right hand, offering his friend a handshake.

"You rode wounded back to town at the risk of your own neck either with the law or Chet's gang and I appreciate that. It's something I won't forget."

(Cue anyone!)

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Brian leaned over in the saddle and shook Alex's hand, giving the blonde drifter a smile. "When I heard you were busted, I rode back to town to git you outta jail. So naturally, ah was a little confused, n' then alarmed, when I saw ya ridin' with the law. I shoulda known that you wouldn't have sold out, Alex."

With that, Brian released the handshake, and looked at MaryAnne. Chance had just asked a very important question to the Deputy....

.....and the answer meant a great deal to the futures of both Brian and Alex.

(cue MaryAnne!)

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