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(Joint Post)

Despite pushing Gambit as hard as she could, Chance didn't arrive in town until everyone had gathered inside the jailhouse. In fact, to the two girls the entire town looked deserted at this time of night. Chance herself felt easy, they had no way of knowing if the confrontation went down and who had lived, and who had survived. She pulled the blowing mustang to a slow walk as they neared the jailhouse.

"I don't like this Chance, if Chet got here before we did…" Min whispered as she turned and gazed towards the saloon, even that lively place seemed lacking its usual charm and vast amounts of staggering cowboys going in and out of it. She leaned over a little and pulled her skirt up partially, enough to slip her hand inside and remove the small gun she kept in her garter belt.

"Just in case." She gripped the small gun in her trembling hand as Gambit stopped right in front of the jail.

"If anyone is hurt, it'll be the last mistake Chet made." Having been deprived of her own weapons, Chance angled Gambit so Min could have a clear shot of the jailhouse if need's be. "Shall we knock and see if anyone's home?"

Min nodded and swallowed hard. "Let's just take things slow and easy." She whispered to Chance. "I've never really had to use this gun except to scare rowdy cowboys that want more than they paid for. I really hope I don't have to use it now." Gambit came to a stop and Chance got down from him and tied him to the post beside the other horses. Then it was Min's turn to get down and she did so, her feet hit the ground and her knees wobbled a bit but after a second she managed to stand up straight.

Chance snorted. "After all Chet has done to me, I don't need a gun. I'll rip him apart with my bare hands."

"Great, then you can go in first." Min moved to stand behind her friend as the two women made their way to the door.

"You're all heart, Min." With a smirk, Chance opened the jailhouse door, no way of knowing what to expect to find inside.

(cue anyone!)

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"I make sure to get all sides of the story, Mr. Chet," MaryAnne said as she applied a clean dressing to Chet's wounds. "I've gotten their side of things, I'm very curious to hear yours." MaryAnne finished fixin' the clean dressing over Chet's wounds. "Which is why I'm patchin' ya up. It's a lot easier to interrogate folks when they're alive." MaryAnne grinned and then turned to look to see who had entered the jail.

"Hmm....full house tonight." MaryAnne collected Chet's weapons and stepped out of the jail cell just as Rosco came in.

"There you are! Where the hell you been? I got outlaws fallin' off roofs and yer out galavantin' somewhere!"

Rosco blinked. "Whatya mean out galavantin'?! I'm the Sheriff, I don't galavant!"

"Awright then, do me a favor. Get a statement from everybody in this room, including the two ladies here and we'll see if we can sort this thing all out!"

(cue anybody!)

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"I'm sure they have told you alot Mam... all considering whats gone on." Chet looked at the other two outlaws glaring somewhat.

He knew alot of what had happened was his falt, but if they had simply stayed out of his business and left him alone everything would have went smoothly. So what he 'questioned' that ornery female gambler... he hadn't hurt her, sure he'd threatened.

Chet paused his thoughts realizing how much truely was against him, all these people would give there two cents worth against him. He'd fought back to protect his outlaw ways and protect himself against the law.

"An as your considering whats gone on you should also take into consideration that its one outlas word to another!" Chet pratically spat the words at Brian and Alex.

The Duke boy crossed his arms over his chest in a defensive mannor. "It also has occured to me, that being as these to appear to be your friends that you may already have your mind set to hanging me. And if indeed hat is the case, then I will save my breath...." Chet paused his voice drawing deep. "But dont think for one moment that I will be easy to kill... even in being hung."

(Cue anyone who dare :-P )

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Chet's arrogance infuriated Brian, and it was by sheer strength of will, and respect to the law's presence, that he didn't put an end to Chet Duke then and there.

"You sidewindin', egg-hatchin', crosseyed polecat," Brian growled. "Hangin's too good for ya!!" He whirled to MaryAnne, fists clenched. "Cousin, let me n' him settle this the ol' fashioned way. I'll face this varmint in the street at high noon, if he's got the guts!! And I'll bet that a single bullet from mah gun, will be more e-ffective than that arsenal of hardware he drags around! Ah've nevah seen anybody that needed killin' so bad in mah life!"

(cue anybody!)

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Literally wincing as if being punched in his wounds by Brian's words, the 21 year old Duke boy drew his knees up to his chest and hugged his arms around them. He hung his head and rounded his shoulders, his cold half blind eyes stared down at the cot he sat on. Feeling as he had always felt, alone, entirely wrong, but this time he was caged in and surrounded by people against him.

Chet audioably sighed and ran his hand through the length of his short black hair, he knew he was guilty of stealing those horses and kidnapping not one but two women. He'd returned the women unharmed, an the horses had been turned over to the law. Quickly Chet made his mind up to answer Brian, he raised his eyes as hard as it was now to look the other man in the eye. His posture still curled up, an it was safe to say by the mannor that he raised his head that he was willingly cowering before Brian Coltrane and the law.

"I do not deny what I have done, I did steal, I did kidnapp and I did cause one hell of a ruckus in the saloon." Chets voice had softened to a nearly pleading tone. " An I was watching you and your pal in the saloon, I was afraid that the two of you would drive me outta this town or worse find out what I had under my hat. The stolen Thoroughbreds, an like I had feared you did figure me out, but only after I kidnapped that gambling women over there..." He nodded his head towards the female gambler. "An questioned her to see if she knew who the two of you were, an when she didn't know who you were I kidnapped the painted lady, because I knew damned well that she did know who you were."

Chet lowered his eyes again an looked at the floor, this was the hard part, every thing had blown up in his face, even his own friends had left him behind.

"What you don't know is, that the gang that charged into this town when I was about to be hung by you and your pal, were not my friends. They were out to kill me as much as you were, an that made you there enemy since I was there quarry from the start of this mess. I returned to town to hide from them for a night or two until I could get the horses to a safe place to be sold and meet up with my gang." Chet paused to allow all of what he had said to sink in.

"I left the horses in the livery an rode out to warn the gang that I rode with that the gang that you two killed was hot on my trail. But my gang high tailed it with the other 6 horses and left me behind, which they later came here to get me and the remainging horses. They quickly learned that I had been shot an they took me from the Doctors and we ran, they must have figured that I was dun for becasue i was very weak. One of he men planted a bullet in my chest and left me in the dirt to die..."

Gritting his teeth Chet knew this was gonna be the hardest thing he had ever said and it was going to be twice as hard to stay in check an up hold it.

"You can shoot me where I sit.... but Im not facing you in the street, I leave it in the hands of the law to decide what happens to me. I ment no disrespect in saying that I asumed that she had already planned on hangging me. But I'm a stranger to her and the Sheriff, an she has more reason to believe what you have said then me, even if our stories are relevant to each other."

Chet glanced at Alex with a steady but unthreatening gaze, he then glanced around the room, taking all the people who had arrived in. His attention then returned to the female deputy and the sheriff.

(Cue Anyone.)

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"Becareful Mam, I blow hot more often then I blow cold. Exspecially to people that don't like me."

Chet stated blunty, feeling alittle less threatened he relaxed but kept his knees bent and rested his elbows over them. Carefully he took note of the jail cell door, left open by the female deputy.

(Cue Chance or anyone.)

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Alex stood on the sidelines listening to the exchanges with the now unarmed and captured horse thief. Chet's less than surrendering tone had riled Brian and despite his confession to his crimes and sudden change in attitude...he still seemed like the same old rustler that had blinded both Alex and Brian with beer mugs and had somehow miraculously survived two gunshot wounds.

"Yes Chet, you're the pillar of virtue--" Noticing where Chet's gaze had drifted to, the blond man went over to the open cell door and pushed it closed, the metal hitting metal with a loud clang.

"I wouldn't want you to tarnish your halo by escaping." He said as he stared through the bars at Chet.

"I'm sure you don't mind me closing this door. After all...you're surrendering and there are a lot of folks in here that don't want to become your next kidnapping victims or handy hostages."

(Cue Anyone!)

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Fearlessly Chet stood up from sitting on the cot and stepped up to the bars and looked Alex in the eye, his temper barely staying in check. He stared coldly at the other outlaw and crossed his arms over his chest.

"I may have admited what I dun, but you an I..." Chets yankee voice bellowed coldly. "We got business of our own to settle."

Slowly Chet backed away towards the cot again, there was nothing he could do right now, he needed to wait and see what the law had to say. "In good time you damned slick... in good time."

(Cue Anyone.)

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Chet's words caused a snarl on Brian's expression. His teeth were clenched with the effort of holding his tongue; his black-clad frame was stiff-backed and high-shouldered with tension.

Yet silence held him. He would say nothing damning in front of his kin, the law....

...but his dark eyes were cold with a terrible, silent vow. He stared at Chet Duke for several seconds, and Hell itself seemed to be in the shadows of Brian's eyes.

Finally, he turned away, glancing at MaryAnne as he did so. And though he said nothing more....Brian's feelings were perfectly, utterly, and forebodingly clear.

He had his own ideas of justice.

( cue MaryAnne...)

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MaryAnne looked at Brian and then at the other faces gathered in the jail. Hell may have been shadowed in Brian's eyes but it would find a worthy opponent within the sharp blue of the deputy. Finally, she turned to look at Chet.

"I don't have any friends," MaryAnne said cooly, responding to Chet's earlier comment about Alex and Brian apparently being her 'friends' and thus she would take their side of things. "That's one of the joys of bein' a deputy...."

She turned so that she could look at everyone in the jailhouse. "Now, if our three distinguished outlaws will stop lookin' at each other crosseyed for a moment, I'd like to remind y'all that you are in the Hazzard jail. And we have some guilty parties here. Sheriff, you mind telling our contestants what they could win for being guilty of horse theivin'?"

"A hangin'!"

"Kidnappin'?"

"A hangin'!"

"Causing a ruckus at the Boar's Nest Saloon?"

"A hangin'!"

"Receiving stolen horses?"

"A hangin'!"

"Causin' a general all around ruckus in this town?"

"A hangin'! Uh... MaryAnne? Every crime we got on the books is punishable by hangin'. Remember? We did that to streamline things...."

"So we did. Well folks, there you have it. You three could all be swinging by sun up!" MaryAnne paused, seeing the pasty white on the outlaws faces. "Or..." she continued, "given I'm in a sickingly generous mood right now, the three of you are escorted to opposite sides of this town and you leave. What happens beyond the jurisdiction of this town is not of my concern. But if I catch one of you back in town again, you'll rot in jail. I catch all three of you on the same day, you'll swing." MaryAnne looked at each of the outlaws seperately, silently asking the question: Any takers?

(cue anyone! Muhahahahaha.....)

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"Hell yes! I'll take your offer to be dumped at any edge of this town and ride away an never return!" Chet spat out quickly and got to his feet.

He approached the side of the cell closest to the female deputy and the sheriff, his eyes and expression eager. There was already enough supplies in his saddle bags to get him to the next town, maybe to the next state depending on the direction he went.

Chet nodded, he would go North, it had always been an area of his fancy and he knew people up North that could get him back... he slipped a side ways grin and pressed the rest of his thoughts to the back of his mind.

"Granted that you kindly return my six guns and my horse I will ride away and not even spare you and your town a glance over my shoulder!" Chet said and took a few short, eager paces steps back and forth.

He quickly buttoned up his short and checked his chaps to make sure they were secure for travel and hard riding. Turning away from a moment he grabbed his heavy duster from the cot and returned to the side of the cell, his mismtached eyes watching the law eagerly.

(Cue Anyone. )

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Alex watched Chet as he got ready to go, wasting absolutely no time at all taking the Deputy's offer. Chet stood fully dressed and ready to hit the road, walking back and forth in his cell all too eager to leave.

Not that any of the three men had much choice in the matter, it was either a one way ticket out of town or to Eternity...

"Me too Deputy--" Alex spoke up as he glanced at moment at Brian. He didn't want to leave his friend but again, there weren't a whole lot of options at this point. The most he could hope for was the two of them would meet up again in the next small town on the trail.

(Cue Anyone!)

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It took Brian a moment longer to answer. MaryAnne's words had dealt him a sobering blow. I don't have any friends, she said...

The law came first, as it must. Brian had always known it. Hearing it spoken aloud, however, unsettled him.

MaryAnne was giving them better than they deserved. She had all the facts she needed to dispense ultimate justice. In allowing them to ride away, she was giving them a free spin of the wheel.

And yet for Brian, exile was not a pleasant prospect. Hazzard had become his home. Going on the lam for awhile to live down a shenanigan was one thing; but knowing that he could never return upon pain of incarceration or worse, made him almost pick option 1.

Almost. There was yet a purpose to fulfill; a destiny to answer. And then...he would return to Hazzard, truely fated to never leave it again.

His purpose was in the stone-set of his jaw as he looked at Chet Duke. Brian's vow burned in his dark eyes, and his chest heaved as he thought of everything this errant Duke had cost him.

Finally, Brian slowly turned to face MaryAnne. He met her eyes, acknowledged the blue flame within them...and nodded gravely.

(Cue MaryAnne.....)

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MaryAnne nodded curtly and looked at the outlaws. "Very well." She looked at Chet. "You can settle down, Chet, y'all ain't leavin' until the first light of dawn." MaryAnne looked at Alex and Brian and gestured to the other cells. "Free room and board for the evenin' gentlemen. I suggest you take it. You're going to need a good night's rest because you're going to have a very long ride tomorrow....."

(cue anyone!)

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With a deep sigh Chet Duke sat back down on the cot in the jail cell, going to sleep was out of the question. He didn't like the tight jawed look that Brian had given him, an he couldnt help but glare back daringly.

As he sat there, his head down and his eyes low as he pondered deeply he realized what he would be up against the moment he was released at the edge of town. He'd already made a threat to Alex that he wasn't going to get away with shooting him in the stomach. Slowly he raised his mismatched cold eyes to glance at the blond haired slick, an he couldn't help but watch him.

Although he had made a threat to Alex, it was not Alex that entirely concerned him, his gaze ceased upon Alex and returned to Brian's dark, looming shadowy appearence. The look in his eyes was one that Chet had seen before, in other outlaws who hungered for his blood to be spilled on there hands and in the dirt.

What would he do as soon as he stepped foot outta this town and was on his own again, with both of them dogging him. Chet weighed his choices on his mind, there was no doubt that no matter how far away he went they would follow. Feeling hopeless now he looked up an gazed out a small window on the other side of the cell, the suns powerful rays were just barely beginning to warm the horizon.

(Cue anyone.)

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At the Deputy's invitation, Alex chose the cell next door to Chet's and sat down on the small cot. With his back protectively to the wall, he watched the horse thief like a hawk and Chet returned the less than friendly gaze. When the dawn came, the three outlaws would seeminly part ways, but what happened once the three men reached the outskirts of Hazzard, and the law's jurisdiction, it was every man for himself.

But what did that mean?

The question kept Alex's mind racing as he waited out the night. Would it mean that Chet would come after him and Brian or lay in wait somewhere and ambush them one at a time?

Chet's previous threats and promises came back to him...the horse thief had made it crystal clear he wanted revenge for the piece of hot lead in the gut courtesy of Alex's gun. But would the varmint be hell bent enough to come after him?

And what about Brian?

Chet and Brian hadn't been bosom buddies either, sure Brian hadnt shot him but the cold gaze he had seen on his friend's face earlier dictated that things weren't over yet between the two men. Between the three men...

Alex sighed and shook his head, tipping his head back to touch the wall. Whatever was going to happen, the three men would find out with the approaching dawn...

(Cue Brian or anyone!)

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For himself, Brian had taken the remaining cell at MaryAnne's gesture. He turned and faced her as the iron bars closed shut, his expression remaining a stone mask. There were no sympathies shown between the blue eyes and brown, the iron seperating kin as surely as the deeds.

The lanterns burned down low and the jailhouse was soon empty, except for the incarcerated. Restless for the dawn, Brian paced the small confines of his cell, his spurless bootsteps falling quietly on the hard floor. And so he measured the minutes into hours, his black-clad shape moving wraithlike within the darkened cell. He indulged himself in a cigarette, the red ember glowing hot with the intake of his breath, dimming again as the smoke was expelled to linger in the moonlight.

Only when the night was at it's darkest, and the dawn less than two hours away, did Brian stretch back on the wooden bench and put his hat over his eyes. The short sleep would ensure that he'd wake up crankier than hell. But the night's pacing had kept his muscles and his mind limber; he would be fit for the long ride in the morning.

The direction of which, was only known to himself. No matter which way he was pointed out of town....

(Cue MaryAnne )

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Rosco had remained at the jailhouse during the night, to keep an eye on the outlaws. MaryAnne had gone home and slept there.

With the morning light, the Sheriff stirred and was soon up and about, tending to the first duties of the day. After that, he began to fix a pot of coffee and he looked in to the cells of each of the outlaws. They were all awake, he could tell, despite their sitting quietly.

A few minutes later, MaryAnne came in, placing her rifle down on her desk. She looked at Rosco.

"Just gotta wait for Enos," she said.

(cue Enos! Val, I know you're out there. =)

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After seeing the camp fire glow in the distance, he took note of it's position and the position of the glow of town. It had to be the ruffians' camp.

"Justice, I think if we get any closer they could spot us. We best head back to town and tell the Sheriff of the location." Enos spoke aloud to the horse. He hoped inside that his sister was alright alone there with Chet Duke. He then turned the gray horse around and back to town.

By the time he reached town the sun was just starting to break the horzion in the east. Ridding up to the jail he noticed there were five horses tied outside of the jailhouse. A tall dark horse which appeared to have some kind of draft influnce, a buckskin colored horse and a tall red horse, along with the Sheriff's white mustang Lightening and MaryAnne's appaloosa Phoenix. He dismounted from Justice and pulled the dapple gray gelding up to the rail and tied his reins loosely to the rail near Phoenix. Morning was now comming to light, he took his gun with him and yawned as he walked up the wooden steps to the door. The door creeked and the deputy sheriff entered inside.

"Hey MaryAnne what's cookin'?" then glancing over at the cells he seen the three outlaws in their pens, "What's up with these guys? Wait a minute... that's Chet Duke."

This new information now blew Enos's mind. Reaching up and scratching his head from under the boulder hat he pondered, "Why he's suppose to have been on the outskirts campin' out with Val cause he's too injuried to ride. Possumonagumbush! If he's here... and not there... then where's Val? Why are these other guys here? MaryAnne what's goin' on?"

(cue MA)

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"Well, he rode into town sometime last night and attempted to kill off Brian and Alex here and basically it's just been one great big mess and I finally decided to dispense some justice---" MaryAnne stopped suddenly and looked at Enos. "Val was campin' out with this dude?!?!" She then looked at Chet.

"Awright mister....you better not have hurt or done anything to Val or you can just forget about bein' escorted to the edge of town...."

(Cue Chet or Val)

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The peices of the puzzle were now starting to fall into place. His jaw went slack as he stared at the younger man in the jail cell. Slowly he closed his jaw and gave Chet a cold and hurt felt stare. He spared Chet from his sister's gun so he could face a fair trial, only to have the tables turn on himself. For all he knew Chet could have killed Val then ran back into town to get his revenge on the blond drifter who shot him first. A wave of guilt and betrayal spread over him.

"How could..." He bit off the rest of his words and turned to MaryAnne, "MaryAnne, Val and I found Chet Duke on the outskirts of town with yet another bullet in him'em.... I tell you MaryAnne that boy got's more lives than an alley cat. Val was gonna shoot him after he took a pot shot at us. Neither of us was hurt, but ..."

Enos stopped and took a deep breath before continuing, "I decided he should stand a fair trial. He was gonna bleed to death if Val and me didn't help him. Then I made a second mistake by going off looking for the thugs who shot'em... leaving Val alone with him. I didn't think he'd have the stregthn enough to ride that night. I'm real sorry MaryAnne... Not only have a neglected my duty by givin' this snake compassion but it probably cost me my sister."

He took a deep breath and hung his head.

(Cue Chet or MA)

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Wordlessly Chet leaned back against the cell wall and took a cigarette paper from his pocket, along with his pouch of tobacco. He'd become so acustomed to building a cigarette that he could do it without even thinking about it. His mismatched eyes looked up from his makings, there cold stare now a teasing flicker as they landed on MaryAnne.

Chet couldn't help but wonder, how long would MaryAnne take his silent treatment before she

demanded him to answer the question. He placed the rolled cigarette between his lips and drew a match from his pocket, his eyes never leaving her, there intense stare daring her. The flame from the match lit up his face and he exhaled his first drag through the corner of his mouth.

Silently he shook the match out and tucked its remains back into the front pocket of his shirt, his eyes never leaving her. How smart was she he wondered, could she take all that she had heard from everyone in that room and put it together. Chet hadn't harmed anyone of the three women he had run into through his hardships of the past days. The Gambling women at first, the painted lady at the saloon and then again the Gambling women. Even after he had been stricken in the nose by one he never harmed her, he'd threatened just to get them to back off but he hadn't laid a hand on any of them.

Just like he hadn't laid a hand on Valerie Strate, after all she had helped him, her and Enos had saved him from bleeding to death. Chet's eyes drilled into MaryAnne's wondering what she could see and feel deep inside him from just the intense gaze he was offering.

He took a slow drag from his cigarette, taking his time to enjoy it since he had noted with his fingers that his makings were dwindling down. Yet still his eyes never ceased there deep stare unpon the female deputy, there was something about her that made him try to anolize her past what he could see on the out side.

"What do you think I did?" He asked coldly. "What do you think I did with a women who had just saved me from bleeding to death?"

(Cue MaryAnne or ANYONE.)

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MaryAnne had waited patiently while Chet rolled his cigarette and then when the outlaw's gaze met hers she hardly blinked. She wore an expression of stone, her eyes revealing nothing. If he wanted to keep his mouth shut, she didn't really care either way. Eventually she would get bored with the stare down and would continue on with the business of the day and ignore Chet until such time he decided to answer the question that had been posed to him.

MaryAnne wasn't stupid and hadn't become a deputy just because she looked good holding a Colt .45. She was already pretty sure Chet hadn't hurt Val, as he hadn't hurt any of the other women involved in this fracas. But in fairness to Enos, MaryAnne had to put the question out. And Chet had a lot more riding on the answer than even he realized.

Finally, when the answer came, and in the form of a question no less, MaryAnne merely snorted. "Just checkin'..." she said. She turned to Enos. "You don't have to worry about Val, she's fine Enos. In the meantime, our three outlaws here are leaving town this morning, by escort. You'll be escorting Alex there...." MaryAnne pointed to the blonde drifter. "Rosco will be escorting Brian, and I'm gonna escort Mr. Charming over here." She jerked a thumb back to the cell that held Chet. "Alex goes east, Brian goes north and Chet here will be going west. The escort is to go at least two miles and from there our outlaws continue on and the three of us should keep watch until they're long gone from sight."

MaryAnne looked back and forth between Rosco and Enos. "Any questions?"

(cue Enos or anyone)

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