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Min had ducked behind a nearby table, having watched everything from around a chair. With Chet now apprehended she sighed in relief and rose up, then approached the three men. She stood close to her dark haired rescuer, a warm smile coming to her face.

"Well...looks like I owe you one." Her gaze shifted to Chet and the blond man a moment before returning to the man in black.

"When you get through collecting your bounty on this scoundrel, you know where to find me. I'd love nothing more than to..." Her grin deepened a moment, her teeth flashing.

"Show you my appreciation."

With that said she turned and headed to her room, she cast a heated glance over her shoulder at the dark haired man, a look that promised he would be duly rewarded for his deeds.

Alex watched this and raised an eyebrow. "That's reason enough to make our trip to the Sheriff a short one."

He chuckled then that smile faded as he grabbed the dark haired kid by one of his arms and shoved him a little towards the swinging doors.

"As for you...you best hope we don't find a tall tree on the way to the Sheriff, might just save him the time and trouble of having to lock you up."

He glanced at Brian and gave a nod. "Let's get this kid to the Sheriff before something else happens. Are we going to turn in those horses I tucked away?"

Alex reached out and gripped the kid by the scruff of his neck not giving him any chance to make a break for it. The barrel of his gun dug into the back of the varmit's coat, insuring his cooperation as Alex waited for Brian to answer his question.

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"Hell no," Brian answered quietly, being sure he wasn't overheard. "The bounty is on the cowboy, heah. Not the horses. We'll sell 'em to a racketeer on the racin' circuit or somethin'."

The three men walked out of the saloon and down into the street. Their boots stirred up dust as they made the walk towards the jailhouse. Chet was forced to lead the way, guns at his back.

Brian considered the misery of their captive. The rustler was at the end of the trail, unless some miracle came along. The odds of that were slim. As at outlaw himself, Brian felt some slight sympathy. He walked up next to Chet, and felt compelled to offer a few words of comfort.

"Don't worry. Rosco knows what he's doin' when it comes to a hangin'. Ah don't think you'll twitch on the rope for longer than...oh, five or six minutes. And ol' Rosco will give you a right proper burial, too. Deep enough so the coyotes can't dig ya up."

Chet didn't look comforted. Brian made an abrupt decision. "Oh, and that scrawny horse of yers....we ain't takin' him with us. He'll be left at the livery stable. You can have the Sheriff deliver 'em to yer next o' kin, or whoevah you want."

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Alex walked beside Brian, he turned his head to hear what the dark haired man had to say and nearly stumbled at the words. He squeezed his eyes shut and bit his lip, trying not to burst out into laughter. Lucky for him that the dark haired kid had his back to both men.

He cleared his throat, hoping his voice didnt quiver.

"I dont know Brian, considering what we saw this kid pull on Rosco in that alley with that gun to his head, he might not be so professional. He might just measure that rope a might too long if you know what I mean." Alex wrapped his hand around his own throat and made a gagging face.

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A steady trickle of blood ran down out of Chet Dukes back hair, his head hatless an his mismatched eyes revealed to the world. He was dragged to his feet half conscious after the blow to the by the whiskey bottle, his feet stumbled an he felt weak for a few minutes then he quickly regained his composure.

Furiously he hissed at Alex an snarled as the blond man grabbed him by the scruff of his neck non too gently. Somehow someway he would find a chance of escape, but in the mean time he would make it a chore for these to slicks to drag him to the sheriffs jail. His first attempted of struggle was not at all friendly.

With a fierce glare at Brian he stopped abruptly an planted his left foot firmly on the ground and raised his right foot bending his knee. He didn’t care about the gun jammed into his back, his chances of living were slim anyway. With all the strength that he possessed in his right leg he struck Alex in the knee cap with the spur on the back of his boot driving the gold hard steel into the flesh.

“Hmmmmph! Im not convinced†Chet snarled an stepped to the side striking out at Brian’s knee with his heavy boot.

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Alex fell to the ground on his butt, his knee aching from the kick. Luckily though the tan chaps he wore and the thick denim beneath them had protected his kneecap from the sharp spurs. He glanced down at his leg, seeing only a thin line where the spur had grazed. Scowling he got up fast and kicked the kid in the butt, sending him down to the ground.

"You like to kick? How's this?" Alex drew his leg back and let it fly, connecting with the dark haired kid's side; he cried out in pain, the force of the blow rolling him in the dirt.

"Son of----!" He did it again, the fire of his temper now beginning to burn. His breathing ragged, he watched the dark haired kid moan, writhing on the ground in pain.

(cue Brian)

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After wincing from the spur-jab, Brian saw Alex mercilessly kicking the stuffing out of Chet. He let it go on for a bit, as a good roughing up was a part of frontier justice anyway, and the rustler had more than asked for it. But there was no sense letting it go on beyond reason.

"Easy, Alex! He's had enough." Brian rested a hand on the blonde drifter's shoulder. "That ain't no way to get back at a man. Let him breathe and recover himself. His hands are tied and we've both got guns...he ain't gonna get far no matter what."

This spoken, Brian relased Alex's shoulder and walked around Chet's dust-covered form, which was currently face-down in the dirt. He spoke to the rustler, his drawl holding an edge. "Boy, you've just drawn your last spade from the deck."

Abruptly, the casual demeanor of the black-clad Coltrane was gone. There were folks that deserved another chance, and there were folks that would never change. And in the court of Brian's own mind, a verdict had been reached.

He walked past Chet, declining to take a free kick at him. Brian's dark eyes glanced up to Alex. "Watch this hombre', and if he tries to move from that spot...shoot 'em in both legs."

With that, Brian quickly walked back towards the saloon, and unhitched Damascus from from the post in front. He took the coil of rope from the saddlehorn and measured it in his hands, finding it long enough. He mounted Damascus and guided the horse's direction with his legs, as his hands worked the rope into an expert noose.

Brian halted his horse beneath a stout tree, not far from Alex and the foolish rustler. He dismounted and tied one end of the rope securely around the saddlehorn. The end with the noose was pitched high over a strong branch, the loop end dropping down far enough to be reached.

It was crude, but it would be effective. Chet wouldn't get the honor of sitting on a horse. He'd be lynched from the ground up. It was just a matter of sticking Chet's head in the noose, and walking the horse forward a few steps. It would be slow, brutal...but clean. No mess in the street would be made, and the body would be recognizable enough to collect the bounty.

Brian adjusted the noose, then turned and hollered for Alex. "Bring that @#$&*% sidewindin' @#$%& spit-makin' @#$%&*$ cowchip OVER HEAH!!"

( cue Alex. Then we'll see what Chet has to say for himself.)

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Alex heard the rather colorful shout and gripped his gun firmly. He bent over the dusty form and grabbed the kid by the back of his coat and hauled him to his feet.

"Come on you, looks to me like you're getting a one way ticket to Hell." He guided the kid over to where Brian was, keeping his gun jabbed into the now doomed rustler's back and a hand on his shoulder. Gazing up at the now dangling rope Alex gave a nod.

"Nice noose. You best keep him covered while I get him ready."

With that, Alex tucked his gun away; Brian had the varmit covered and in a matter of seconds the hanging noose had been snagged and put over the dark haired kid's head, pulled taut enough to do the job once Brian's big horse was nudged into moving.

Stepping back Alex went over to where Brian sat on his horse. He glanced up at the dark haired man seeing he had a firm grip on the big horse's reigns. The determined look in Brian's eyes said that he was about ready to give those reigns a flick and send Damascus into a slow easy walk that would stretch the rustler's neck.

"He's all ready to meet his maker Brian."

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(Oh, I've got something to say, I asure you. Dont ever say I disapointed ya'll. ~Chet)

Although his knees felt weak Chet forced himself to stand on his own two feet with the noose around his neck. His eyes were low and he licked his lips, they were dry, cracked and caked with dirt, he spit on the ground an tugged at the bandanna around his hands.

His back stayed straight and strong despite the fact that he knew he was going to die.

“You will never be a true outlaw!...Neither of you!†He snarled and spat on the ground again an raised his mismatched eyes to glare at the duo. “Your nothing but sniveling coward, outlaw wanna-bees. In cahoots with the local law....†Chet cleared his throat.

Chet gave a low whistle an waited, Red perked his ear by the hitching rail and jogged down the main street towards his owner. He came up to Brian, Alex an Damascus an pinned his ears, snorting an baring his teeth at the three and he pawed the ground.

Suddenly the ground beneath there feet began to rumble an shake as if an earth quake was about to shadow the earth. From the end of the main street people screamed and scattered fearfully as a huge herd of horses galloped there way down the main street heading right for the tree that Chet was about to swing from.

A rifle shot echoed through the street and a gang of 5 riders appeared chasing the band of enraged horses, an one on a roof top nearby. The roped around Chet’s neck went slack and he crumbled to his knees reaching for his hidden hunting knife under his chaps as the 5 riders rode closer. They forced the wild horses down the main street an drove them down on Brian an Alex, the 5 riders faces concealed by red bandanna’s.

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Alex saw the horses coming upon them and drew his gun, the stampede of galloping horses was approaching fast and as he watched them come closer, a wave of instinct encompassed the blond man. Instinct he hadn’t used in a while that suddenly came screaming back, his spine stiffening.

Quick as lightning his arm shot straight out when he saw Chet freeing himself, the handkerchief Brian had secured around his hands had been nearly worked off, dangling from one wrist. Taking aim at the soon to be escaping rustler he lined the barrel up with Chet’s midsection and fired.

He watched the rustler cry out in pain and grab his stomach as he keeled over onto his side; a crimson stain began spreading from between his clenched fingers.

Going over to the fallen man, Alex scooped up his hunting knife and tucked it into his own belt.

His chin elevating slightly a cold look came to his face; his dark eyes deadly they held no pity or mercy for the now fallen rustler.

Turning back Alex quickly pulled out another gun, one of the ones that Chet had surrendered in the bar. Raising both arms, he aimed at the thundering herd. Walking toward them Alex began to fire the guns, the loud shots echoing.

The noise caused by the gunshot blasts scattered the horses, the herd parting like the Red Sea around him sending the huffing beasts into many directions, the wind from their escape blowing back his long hair and the open ends of his tan coat.

The fleeing horses didn’t phase him, he quickly dropped the now spent guns and pulled two more of Chet’s pistols out from beneath his coat, the barrels pointing at the approaching gang.

(Cue Brian)

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With chaos breaking loose around them and hell coming in fast, Brian reacted instantly. The crack of the rifle shot came just a second before the rope snapped. Brian felt the loss of tension in the rope and knew two things: that Chet was on the ground, and that a gunman from on high had provided the service.

Brian pivoted Damascus towards the direction of the shot, his pistol in hand. He heard a second shot and saw smoke from Alex’s gun, but he was forced to ignore this at the moment.

Alex’s shot caused new attention from the gunman on the roof, and at the gunman’s movement, Brian’s eyes found him. Sunlight glanced off a rifle barrel as the gun was aimed down at them; Brian lifted his pistol high and took a fast aim. The shot was true, and the gunman on the roof clutched his chest and pitched forward, falling.

It couldn’t be watched. The thunder of the stampeding horses demanded attention. Brian pivoted Damascus again, who was getting excited with the gunsmoke and noise. Alex was now firing into the stampede of horses, forcing them to cut away, one animal giving a horrible squeal as it fell to a bullet, and the other horses shied away from the blood.

The masked riders came on, even as the herd veered away.

Brian did some quick math. 5 riders, and he’d spent one bullet on the man on the roof. Having started with 6 bullets, every shot had to count, but the odds were playable. Alex was about to draw the fire of the riders upon himself, and Brian knew they were outnumbered and outgunned. So he did the only possible thing.

“HYAAAAAH!!†With a savage yell, Brian kicked Damascus’s flanks and the large beast leapt forward, galloping towards the armed riders. Gunfire was going off in every direction, bullets were screaming past his head, but Brian picked his target and stayed focused on it. The lead rider, seeing the challenge coming, fired hastily in defense.

Brian fired once, and the man fell from the saddle. The riderless horse careened away, bucking. Brian guided Damascus to the next closet rider. By now, he was farther away from Alex, and the riders were fixing their attention on the threat on horseback. It was 4 to 1.

The next rider wasted his bullets on wild shots. Brian waited until he was close. BLAM! Three to 1.

But the next shot wasn’t Brian’s. BLAM! He jerked once in the saddle, managing to stay in it. He fired back, sending a bullet between the rider’s eyes. BLAM! Two to 1….

The last rider was ignoring Brian and was heading for Alex instead. Brian fired…BLAM! - but the rider was running a zigzag and the shot was a hair too slow. Cursing, Brian urged Damascus to give chase, hoping to cut the rider off before Alex was gunned down.

Just as Damascus had nearly closed the gap, the remaining rider spun his own horse around and aimed at Brian. The move had been a trap to draw Brian in, who now had to fire his last bullet while in a full gallop. The enemy rider was too close now, and Brian was coming in too fast. He saw the squint of the rider’s eye over the barrel of the .45.


(cue Alex)

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The gunshot rang out and the last rider fell from the saddle. He hit the ground with a heavy thud, a large gaping bullet wound in his back oozing blood. Alex lowered his arm, the barrel of one pistol smoking, the other had been emptied and put away. His breath came in fast pants as he looked around, making sure the coast was clear.

Brian watched the last rider go down just as he galloped by. The enemy shot had never been fired, and Brian knew who to thank. He slowed Damascus and rode over to Alex, reaching up to tip the brim of his black hat at him.

"Mighty kind of ya."

Alex gave a nod. "You were about to save my backside from this rider, the least I can do is return the favor." He quickly tucked his pistol away and retrieved the two he had dropped earlier.

"I took care of Chet, the pesky varmit was almost free." He looked back at the saloon and saw Showdown tied there.

"We need to get out of here Brian. The whole damn town's bound to have heard all that. Let's get Showdown and make a break for it."

Brian turned in the saddle and looked at the litter of bodies in the street. He then looked at Chet.

"Is he still breathin'?"

Alex followed Brian's gaze, glancing over his shoulder.

"I don't know, and we don't really have a lot of time to find out. The Sheriff was heading this way before all the commotion started. Let's get Showdown and then get out of here. I've got some money in the saddlebags we're going to need to lay low for awhile."

"I hear ya." Brian pocketed his gun, and took a boot from the saddle stirrup, gesturing for Alex to use it to climb up behind him.

"Nevahmind how it looks, we're in a hurry."

"A big hurry!" Alex took Brian's outstretched hand and hopped up in the saddle behind him. They rode over to Showdown and Alex climbed down and as calmly and nonchalantly as possible he untied the buckskin from the hitching post and climbed up on him.

"Which way do we go?"

"It don't matter....." Brian looked back at the town once more. People were starting to mill around and look at the mess. Everyone had seen them leave the saloon with Chet....and now the local rustler was probably dead, or would be shortly. Chet's friends were already attracting buzzards.

Brian tucked his left elblow in tightly to his body. He turned Damacsus so that his right side was facing Alex.

"Maybe we should split up. This wasn't your fight, man, ah started in with that rustler, and you backed me up is all."

Alex watched Brian's movements and raised an eyebrow.

"Chet stared at both of us in the saloon and spied on us. I think it's safe to say we're in this together." He guided Showdown closer and looked at Brian's dark clothes a moment, narrowing his eyes as he stared at Brian's left side.

A droplet of red dripped down from within Brian's open coat, to stain against the black hide of Damascus. The tucked-in arm was hiding a saturated stain of the coat, as well as the wound beneath it.

"Ride," Brian said quietly. "G'wan."

"I'm not leaving you like this." Alex said firmly, shaking his head.

"We saved each other's butt's a moment ago. You took down some of those riders that were gunning for me." He looked around and touched the pockets of his coat pulling out a bandana, folding it in a square he passed it to Brian.

"I know of a place we can lay low on the outskirts of town. It's the same place I stashed the horses and we can take care of your wound there, all right?"

Brian accepted the bandana, and tucked it within his coat, pressing his left arm against his side to hold the material in place. "Ah appreciate the thought. But you've done enuff. Go get those horses and hightail it outta Hazzard County. Ah'll lead a trail away from ya."

Leaving no room for arguement, Brian reached to his holster beneath the coat, and brought up his gun. He spun it in hand once, and pointed it at Alex. "Go. Ah've got one bullet left, and if it's the only thing that keeps you from the law's reckoning....ah'll use it."

The hammer clicked back.


Alex stared down the barrel a moment and sighed. There was no disputing that Brian was going to get his way on this despite the best arguments that could be offered. Turning away, Alex coaxed Showdown to take off kicking up a dust trail as he headed for the outskirts of Hazzard.

Brian watched as Alex rode off. Satisfied that the blonde drifter was taking the smart route, Brian turned Damascus to ride out of town in the opposite direction. He purposely backtracked and rode through the scene of the crime, letting himself be noticed. Just to be sure the trail was hot enough, Brian dropped the blood-soaked bandana as he hit the edge of town. He then cantered Damascus down the dirt road towards nowhere in particular, leaving a trail of hoofprints - and the occassional drop of blood - to follow.

(Cue anyone!)

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Chance had also left town, just before the shootout occurs. But being dropped off at the saloon, she went straight to the stables, got Gambit and took off. Given her luck in Hazzard, she thought a new locale would be in order. Maybe New Orleans, or...

A bit of red on the ground caught her eye, a red bandana lay in the dirt, surrounded by hoofprints and a spot of darker red. Chance felt a chill, there was no mistake what that stain was.

If she had been smart, she would continue on her way. But something compeled her to follow the trail until the back of a familiar blaclclad form come into view.

Coaxing the mustang into a trot, she came up beside Brian.

"Bad day, huh?"

Her eyes took in the glaze of pain on his face and the hunch in the shoulders. Although it will probably get her killed, she felt she needed to help.

Reaching over, she grasped Damascus's reins. "I can help with that wound."

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Hazel eyes flickered between the two men riding their separate ways. Attention turned to the town’s law officers walking up to the still alive Chet. Why couldn’t the little rascal have just been patient for once? She didn’t wait for a verdict on his condition.

Chatter of folks discussing what to do now sounded where mayhem had been moments before.

Shakily, she went to where Examiner was. She undid the reins. Maybe this was a crazy thing to do but she decided to follow the one who had tried to be nice to Chet in the saloon. His actions had been so vivid and precise, like a painter working on a masterpiece. If it wasn’t for him being in that time and place, who knew what Chet and the rogues would’ve done.

Happy that his mistress had returned, Exam broke into a trot before Daney could stop him. A weary smile came over her lips. She grabbed a handful of crushed hay from the ground, then ran toward the brown stallion. He galloped away. His movement and a hot wind tousled his hair.

Daney walked slowly. By the time she caught up with Exam, the hay had been dropped. She looked curiously at the Morgan staring down. Carefully, she retrieved a pair of gloves from the saddle bag, preceded along Exam’s left side.

Examiner’s right hoof kicked the square material, tossing it for his owner to catch. He tilted his head. Big brown eyes saw her amused expression at his find. He rested his head on her left shoulder. The damp bandana was in her right hand.

Daney’s posture tensed at the implication that the dark haired man had been injured. He hadn’t done anything wrong and that was the thanks he was given?

(cue Chance Walker)

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( since Chance spoke to me in her last post, I'll answer and then turn the cue to her again)

Damacsus halted at the pull of the reins. Brian rocked back in the saddle and lifted his dark-eyed gaze to the lady gambler. "No," he answered quietly. "Circumstances bein' what they are....you don't wanna be caught with me."

Leaning slightly, Brian reached down and plucked the lady's hand from Damascus's reins. His face grimaced with the movement, but he otherwise made no acknowledgement of the injury. Brian nudged Damascus forward again, and the black horse cantered with a rolling gait. It wasn't fast enough to escape a possee; and the way the black-clad rider tucked in his arm against the wound, faster travel didn't seem possible for him.

Or perhaps the pace was by design. Uncharacteristic of any fleeing outlaw, Brian was staying on the dirt road, making no attempt to hide his trail....

( Cue Chance Walker )

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Sighing, Chance lead Gambit to walk along side. She grabbed the reins again, this time pulling both horses to a stop.

"Circumstances being what they are, you don't have a choice. You're bleeding badly, and I can help. Don't be a fool." She quirked a half smile. "Besides if I was worried about whom I was seen with, I wouldn't be a gambler and be friends with a saloon girl." Chance thought for another moment. "...And Min would have my guts for her next garter belt if anything happeaned to her new favorite customer."

(Cue Brian)

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(Im sorry to cut in, but i have waited all day to post this and i dont know how long i will be around this evening. Im also rather far behind.)

At last possible moment Chet looked up at Alex just as he leveled his gun, but it was too late, Alex fired the shot and the lead bit into his stomach. He cried out in pain as the hot lead bore itself deep into his flesh, reflectively he curled onto his side pressing his hand over his wound.

His eyes squinted shut tight and he ground his teeth down hard withering in the deep pain racking his body. There was nothing worse then being gut shot, it was a wound well known for almost always being fatal. The world around him became a blur an his mind retreated in attempt to bare the pain.

The stage masters daughter dashed around the corner, she had herd the rumble of the horses an then the numerous gun shots. She ran into the main street an made her way through the mingling crowd that was quickly surrounding the scene of the gunfight.

“What’s going on? What has happened?†Brandie said as she burst through the crowd.

Her voice caught in her throat an she cried covering her mouth at the site of Chet laying on the ground, sprawled on his side. Blood soaked the back of his duster dripping onto the ground steadily were he lay in the dirt with his back towards her. His breath so shallow that his bruised and battered ribs meekly rouse with each gasping breath he took.

“No! No!†She cried shaking her head in disbelief.

Tears streamed down her cheeks, hesitantly she knelt down beside him and rolled him onto his back tenderly taking his head into her lap. Her eyes landed on his hand clutching his wound, the blood seeping steadily through his fingers, she shuddered at the severity of the wound.

Barely conscious Chet laid his head back into her lap unable to keep it from lolling back and forth. His mismatched eyes gazed at her open only a slit an weak looking, he blinked an swallowed acknowledging her.

“Brandie...†Chet’s voice withered in a wave of pain an squinted his eyes shut.

“Shhhhh....shhhhh....don’t speak....†Her tears washed over her face an she nearly choked on her words.

Brandie hugged Chet around his head with one arm an she pressed his duster back with her free hand, she pried his hand away from the wound and pealed his blood soaked sky blue shirt away. More blood poured down his side, she cried harder at site of it an frantically pressed the side of her apron over the wound.

“Somebody get a Doctor! Please!.....Please....†Brandie cried out hugging Chet close to her. “Hold on Todd.....just hold on.â€

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Brian raised an eyebrow at Chance's comment, but he was too weary to offer a smile. "Lady, follow me if you want. But there's at least six men dead back in town, maybe seven. You're lookin' at one of the reasons why."

Brian leaned over to pluck the reins away once again. He gritted his teeth against the pain, and fought an onset of dizzyness that came with the motion. He straighed up with effort, holding the reins tightly in his right hand, his left arm pressed against his side. "Ah can't stop here, at any rate," he breathed out. "Gotta put a few miles between me and town."

The words were followed by the touch of boot heels to Damascus's sides. Brian rode on, letting the lady gambler follow or not, as she would.

(cue anybody )

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"Only six or seven, huh? Must be a slow day." Chance rode along aside Brian, her mustang keeping pace easily. "I know of a place a ways from here, somewhere safe that you could hole up in while I fix that bullet hole."

She moved her horse a bit ahead of Brian, showing she would lead him there. Damascus, sensing this was help, fell into behind Gambit's lead, following the mustang into the forests of Hazzard county, where safetly and rest could be found.

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Brian allowed Damascus to follow the mustang. The pain was getting to him, and he wished dearly for a whiskey bottle to crawl in.

He doubted that the lady gambler could be trusted. This was the same woman who had smashed his shotglass with a bullwhip just a few hours before. Maybe she had trailed him out of town in order to help him expire and empty his wallet. Maybe she was leading him into the woods in order to do just that, and then hide his body. Best of all, she would get away with it scott-free, as it would appear that the gunfight in town had been the cause of demise.

The paranoia darted in and out of Brian's mind like a kitchen rat. There was also the likelihood of a posse taking pursuit. And having a single bullet left, Brian knew he couldn't shoot his way free if trouble came calling. The best he could do, was use it for himself, and ensure he was never taken alive.

Damascus seemed to be leaning to the side. With a start, Brian realized that he'd been tilting over in the saddle. He shook his head from the shadowed musings and straighted again. He turned his thoughts towards the blonde drifter who had befriended him, and hoped Alex had made good on escape. Brian had done all he could to further it. The rest was up to luck.

( cue anybody )

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(forgive a little control , Brian. If its too much, just let me know)

Brian and Chance's destination was a small, unused cabin far back in forest, unknown to anyone but Chance. Even Min, who prefered the town living, didn't know of the private retreat her partner had stumbled upon. Chance herself prefered living off what nature could provide, but that didn't always produce enough to live off of. That's where the gambling and pickpocketing fell into play.

She pulled Gambit to a stop, and the big black followed suit, sniffing the green around the run-down cabin curiously. The rocky ground had hidden their tracks for a while now, so there wasn't a chance of them being followed. Another reason Chance chose such a location.

Chance helped Brian off the horse and into the cabin, despite his numerous protests. At least here they wouldn't be found until the outlaw regained some of his strength.

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Scavengers began to circle in the sky over the dead bodies, an the body of a young black haired Duke boy fighting for his life. The town Sheriff and his deputy approached the brutal scene and paused placing his hands on his hips as his deep blue eyes glanced around. He made his way through the mingling crowd an came up to the young Duke boy and the pretty girl sitting with his head in her lap.

Rosco looked at Brandie, her face was tear reddened, her hands and apron stained freshly with the young Duke’s blood. The Sheriff looked at Chet and shook his head as he knelt down beside him and the girl.

“Is he alive?†Rosco asked sincerely.

“Yes.....†Brandie replied through her tears and choked voice, she hugged Chet tighter. “Please Sheriff....†She pleaded more tears washing over her face. “Please help him....â€

Grimly Rosco pulled her blood smeared hand from the wound in Chet’s abdomen, he sucked air in through his teeth and frowned more deeply. It was bad....real bad. The old Sheriff turned to his deputy and shouted at the man.

“Enos! Run...get the doctor.†Rosco paused looking over the mingling crowd around them.

He pointed at two good sized cowboys and ordered them. “You two, carry this boy over to Dr. Applebees office. “ Rosco instructed with much authority.

The two men did as they were told, one man lifted Chet under the arms and the other picked up his feet. Together they carried him across the main street an into the Doctors office, who with warning from Enos was prepared.

They laid Chet down on a exam table, the Doctors well aged nurse began to strip Chet of his clothing and sent Brandie out of the room. There was no reason for the young girl to be in there, doing nothing but crying and fussing over the wounded cowboy.

The Doctor came in and immediately began to accesses the boys wound, the bullet had gone all the way through, it had entered just to the left of his belly button and exited low to the left of his back bone. Applebee shook his head in distaste, Chet was losing blood fast an immediate surgery would be the only way to prevent him from bleeding to death.

“Prepare him for surgery, make sure his entire back and stomach is cleaned with alcohol and take the rest of his clothes off. He can’t afford any infection if he survives this, I’ll get my tools.†Dr. Applebee kindly instructed as he stepped into another room.

He gathered the things he would need to preform surgery on the young Duke boy. He took care in seeing to it that each and every one of his instruments were carefully boiled and soaked in alcohol before each use to prevent infection. Often it wasn’t the wound that killed, it was the infection caused by the wound.

When he returned to the exam table his nurse had done exactly what he had asked, his patient lay covered by a sheet up to his waist, his back and stomach completely clean, and she held a fresh cloth over his wound. Her other hand pressed a small Ether soaked cloth over his nose and mouth to bring him under for surgery.

Meanwhile Brandie sat out side on the boardwalk, her face burried in the stage maters shoulder as she cried. Rosco had gone on to take care of business, but said he would stop back soon to check on the young man.

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