Chapter Two


Commander Mayson checked his watch again.  He considered checking again with his secretary, but knew it was unnecessary.  His staff would alert him when his new agent arrived.  While Mayson waited, he checked and double-checked the information from his agents.   He hoped it was enough to give MaryAnne a fighting chance.

MaryAnne walked down the hall, catching curious glances from a couple of agents as she passed. She ignored it and marched on to the outer office of Commander Frank Mayson.

She walked in and made eye contact with the secretary. "I'm here to see Commander Mayson. My name is MaryAnne Coltrane."

The secretary hit a buzzer, and the doors to the executive office of the Atlanta Bureau opened for MaryAnne.  Mayson guided her inside and made sure the doors were closed securely behind her.  "You made it," Mayson said for a greeting. 

MaryAnne snorted. "Yeah...I made it..." 

Mayson walked around behind his desk and opened a drawer.  "I wish I could give you more time to acclimate yourself to the mission," he said apologetically.   "But time is of the essence."   Mayson placed a Federal badge on the desk.  "First things first," he said as he straightened his posture.   "MaryAnne Coltrane, you're about to undertake the responsibilities of a Federal Agent.   This is your last chance to back out, should you have any reservations."

MaryAnne looked at the badge. She was very quiet as she pondered over the decision she was about to make. Unfortunately, the point of no return had been crossed more than 36 hours ago. She shook her head. "I ain't backin' out."

"Then as the Commander of the FBI regional offices of Atlanta...."  Mayson picked up the badge.    "I hereby designate you as Special Agent Coltrane. Agent Coltrane, do you swear to uphold the law of the United States Government?"

MaryAnne nodded and spoke truthfully and sincerely. "I do."

"Then serve your country with honor, Agent Coltrane."  Mayson handed MaryAnne the badge, which was neatly tucked into a flip-wallet with MaryAnne's agent identification card.   When MaryAnne took it, Mayson saluted her gravely.

“Thank you, Commander," she said with courtesy and gave a nod.  She looked at the badge and id card and then tucked the flip-wallet into her shirt pocket. A badge was a badge...

Mayson got down to business.   "Anything you need in the way of weapons, communications and vehicles can be supplied to you by the bureau,"  he began.  "If you're comfortable with your own equipment, simply register it with the defense clerk downstairs." He walked over to a chart on the wall.  "The last information we received from our Syndicate insider pinpoints two surviving factions of the old organization.  It comes down to Frankie Tyler's gang - formerly exiled - or to the current Syndicate, operating under one of Mancini's officers.  Placing you undercover in either organization has inherent risks."  

MaryAnne sat down in one of the chairs that was in front of the Commander's desk. She looked at the chart and then leaned back and crossed her arms. "Yes it does. But which faction is more important to you?"

“The one that gives you the best chance for survival,"  Mayson said directly.  He turned back to the chart, pointing to the list of businesses and names grouped under Frankie Tyler.   A few names were crossed out in red pen.  "Our information tells us that you wouldn't last long in Frankie's gang.  It's because of you, directly or indirectly, that he lost the leadership of the old Syndicate to Mancini.  Since then, Frankie's survived on the fringe, running his operations on a much smaller scale.  He owns several liquor stores, warehouses, and dance clubs -"  Mayson pointed to a city map.  "But none of them infringed on Syndicate territory, until recently."  

"Meanwhile, the Syndicate, under a man called Spade, has not only survived, but has started to flourish."  Mayson pointed to the other side of the chart, were several names were crossed off from the top.  Among them were Mancini, Duece, Dirk, Coltrane, and several more.  Mayson cleared his throat and moved down the list.  "Mancini was thorough in his knowledge of business law.  His largest "fronts" are legit businesses, and all of them were in corporate trusts.  We made a dent in it, but apparently underestimated his holdings.”

"Spade's loyalty to Mancini seems to have been one of pragmatism.  Since Spade owes his current status to Mancini's fall, we believe your best chances are with his organization.  I cannot, however, assure you of any degree of safety."   Mayson sighed and turned to MaryAnne. 

MaryAnne smirked a little. "And here I thought I'd get to see Frankie's smiling face once again." She chuckled to herself and looked at the chart for a moment. "This Spade fella, according to Brian, likes to toast cops to make a point. What does your information tell you about that? And what makes you think Spade is gonna want anything to do with me, irregardless that I'm now a 'crooked' cop."

Mayson looked uncomfortable, but he hid it well and returned back to his chart.  "As you can see, most of Mancini's elite staff and enforcers were taken out of the picture during the last round of arrests.  While it's true that Spade has no love for the law, he may be willing to accept you into his Syndicate, if you approach him under the guise of wanting revenge."   Mayson turned back around.  "Our last agent indicated that Spade was against Mancini's Federal connections...and that Spade, personally, did not have any issues with your "late" cousin."  Mayson gave a short cough as he tried to find words for the rest.  "The fact that you are related to a Sheriff on the take, and that you are related to a known criminal, should help."

MaryAnne rolled her eyes. "I'll remember to thank Rosco and Brian for that," she said softly. She looked at Frankie's side of the chart. "You said that none of Frankie's operations infringed on the Syndicate, until now. What's The Big Man up to?"

Mayson went to his desk and picked up some photographs.   "Frankie seems to be picking up some of the Syndicate's old customers, including one or two prominent local figures."   Mayson handed the black and white photos to MaryAnne, which showed Frankie Tyler trading a briefcase with a well-dressed gentleman.  "We suspect he's using contacts through City Hall to gain inroads for his own smuggling operation. His dance clubs and liquor stores are small-scale outlets for contraband, and they don't produce nearly enough volume to sustain his overhead.  He's taken more risks lately, including an attempted hit on the Syndicate headquarters themselves."

MaryAnne thumbed the pictures, taking a moment to study each one. "Frankie Tyler bumped off a state Senator. I don't think 'risk' is a word in his vocabulary."

"True,"  Mayson agreed.  "He's also desperate to expand his territory.  At first, the Bureau was willing to let Frankie and Spade chew each other to ribbons, thinking that the victor of such a conflict would emerge too weak to be a threat to the city.  However, after the recent loss of our last undercover agent, and the disappearance of several predecessors, we realize that their respective strengths have been underestimated.  That, and the city is losing revenue as Frankie and Spade muscle downtown hotels, parking garages, anything they can to claim it as territory."

MaryAnne paused in thought, digesting the information. She nodded slowly, still looking at the chart. "So what's the Bureau's objective now? Other than the obvious..."

"Our main concern is twofold:  First, to accurately gauge the Syndicate's strengths, primarily in regards to smuggling contraband.  We know Spade and Tyler are moving drugs into the city; we don't know how.  Secondly...we must find out how Spade intends to eliminate his competition, namely Frankie and his gang.  If we cannot stop this mafia war, the least we can do is try and limit the public casualties."

MaryAnne nodded. "So that's what y'all want me for? To go in, look around, get what information I can and feed it back to you? All without getting my head blown off..." She paused and had another question but waited for the Commander's answer to her first few.

Mayson nodded.  "Yes.  And to gather what evidence you may, concerning the fate of our agents who are missing in action."

"How many agents have you lost on this, Commander?"

The FBI Commander took a moment to answer.  "Between Frankie's gang and the Syndicate...we have lost seven agents.  I can tell you that the Atlanta Police Department and the State Police have had their own casualties as well."

"What have been the circumstances surrounding these agents and officers being lost? Or do you even know? Don't tell me they're just fallin' off the face of the earth..."

Mayson paled.  "In some cases, Agent Coltrane...that's exactly what's happened.  In others...we've recovered a body, but not the badge."

MaryAnne sighed heavily. "Wonderful..."

"Obviously, for these reasons you'll want to make sure you don't have on a wire-tap or your badge unless the situation is secure.  Now then...." Mayson flipped the chart up to reveal a large photo of a downtown building.  "Your first assignment is to infiltrate the Syndicate.  Their stronghold is here, at a bar called The Jigsaw." The photo showed an old-fashioned, corner hotel several stories high, with a tavern occupying the first floor.   "You're best bet is the direct approach.  After all, you're a Coltrane, and where angels fear to tread...."

"Fools walk in?" she finished, eyebrow raised. Her expression then returned serious. "So I'm to walk into this bar and announce my intentions of revenge against the FBI for what happened to Brian?"

"I would suggest slightly modifying that approach. Ask to see Spade; tell him you left law enforcement for your own reasons, not the least of which involved the loss of your cousin.  Tell him you're looking for work - tell him that you heard of him from Brian.  Tell him anything you think will work, just be careful."

MaryAnne sighed and nodded. "I suppose Spade is aware of the rumors of my resignation and my 'intention to pick up where Brian left off' that you spoke of a couple days ago? I can't just show up." 

"The Atlanta Police Department spread the news about your resignation on their own.  Our agents have planted the seeds of suggestion about the rest.  You're as prepared as you're ever going to be, Agent Coltrane."

MaryAnne nodded. "I suppose so..." She would have to face it, whether she was prepared for it or not. She wondered what kind of work Spade would want her to do..."I'm assuming the Bureau has a nice apartment...or cardboard box...all picked out for me?"

Mayson gestured back at the photo of the bar and hotel.  "If all goes well, Spade will offer you residence at the Jigsaw.  The hotel is used as a Syndicate boarding house, among other things."

MaryAnne nodded, amused. "Won't that be cozy..." She sighed and stood up. "When I do I attempt to infiltrate?"

"As soon as possible."  Mayson shifted uncomfortably.  " the event that things don't go as we'd like them you have your affairs in order?"

"All but one last request."

Mayson didn’t smile at her choice of phrasing. "Which is?"

"If something happens to me…Rosco and Brian, not to mention a lot of other folks back in Hazzard, are going to want answers. You better provide them with as much of an answer as you can."

"I will,"  Mayson promised.  "You can be sure of that."

MaryAnne nodded. "Thank you." She paused. "How do I contact you, and when?"

"We have street informants that you can pass information to.   They also happen to be businessmen that pay "insurance" to the Syndicate, so your presence will not be overtly suspicious.  When you have information to report, go to Tyrone's Liquors or Lou's Deli.  They're a few blocks from the Jigsaw."

MaryAnne nodded, mentally recording the business names. "Very well then," she said. "I guess you'll hear from me again when I have something to say."

"Then good luck, Agent Coltrane."   Mayson went back to his desk.  "One last thing. Spade may require certain "tests" or demonstrations of loyalty from you.  Your status as an agent gives you immunity from any legal repercussions...but all the same...use caution.  The Atlanta Police will not be aware that you're undercover."  

MaryAnne nodded. "I understand."

Mayson dismissed MaryAnne and watched the door shut behind her.   The odds were high against his new agent, and Mayson looked forward to her next communication with slim hope. 

*****                          *****                          *****

Rosco, meanwhile, was sitting at the booking desk with the phone to his ear. He had tried to raise MaryAnne on the CB several times, using both the police channel and the regular channel, but the Songbird never sang. Now, Rosco figured he was going to have to resort to some hardball and even though his tatics could be debated, Rosco was determined to find MaryAnne and get to the bottom of everything.

He watched Brian pace before him, the young man moving quickly. Brian's edginess was catchy and Rosco found himself turning a pencil one end over the other on the desk, waiting to be connected to the State Police.

"Uhh...hello, this is Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane of Hazzard County," Rosco said when the call was abruptly connected. Brian stopped pacing and looked over at him.

"I want to place an APB on a blue, 1978 Ponitac Firebird, tag C-L-T-R-N-E. Last seen in Hazzard County.....what's that?...uhh, speedin'....I'll hold."  Rosco looked at Brian, who was staring at him aghast.

"You're tellin' 'em to bust MaryAnne?!"  Brian said, figuring it out. 

"I'm gonna tell 'em to find her and hold her for questionin'...." Rosco suddenly looked at the phone. "I'm sorry?...Arrrre you kiddin' me?? Whadya mean that tag don't go with that car? I saw it with my own two eyes! Been seein' it for a couple of years at least!..." Rosco listened and then started scribbling on the notepad underneath his writing hand.  "It was registered to that car today??....Jit jit! No, I don't wanna cancel the APB. It's a blue 1978 Firebird...ya know, like what Burt Reynolds drove?? It's a got a silver hood bird on it and a pretty young woman drivin' it. I want it found and I want her held for questionin'! Yes, I’m aware of that...Thank you." Rosco slammed the phone down.

"Registered to what car?"  Brian asked.

"A 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado," the Sheriff replied, indignant. "Dang car ain't run for almost eight years...."

"She switched 'em! She switched the plates! She knew you'd try this!"  Brian couldn't help the note of admiration in his voice.  "Damn, for a cop, she makes a pretty good outlaw."

Rosco's looked at Brian a bit dejected.  "Thanks a lot..." The Sheriff tore his note off the pad and stood up, grabbing his hat.

"You're not a half-bad as an outlaw yourself," Brian added.  "All I'm sayin', is that the best cops know how to think like criminals, whereas most criminals can't think like a cop."

Rosco was halfway to the booking room doors when Brian spoke. He stopped suddenly, an idea popping to mind but he quickly dismissed it. Naw..she woulda told me...    The Sheriff adjusted his hat and looked at his kin. "You wanna ride with me to Finchburg and see if she left any other clues there?"

"Can I drive?"

Rosco nodded his head. "Yeah. C'mon..."

“On my way."  Brian was to the booking room doors in a few long strides. They marched out of the courthouse and came to a stop on the sidewalk. The only vehicle parked there was Rosco's patrol car. He turned to Brian.

“You still wanna drive?" he teased.

"Rosco, I've sat everywhere in a patrol car except behind the wheel."  Brian held his hand out for the keys, grinning.

“Khee!" Rosco pulled his keys from his pocket and handed them to Brian.

Feeling like a kid again, Brian got in the driver's seat of the patrol car.  "Just gotta see how the other half lives," he joked as he buckled in and turned the key.  He made sure Rosco was settled in, then punched the gas.  

Across the street, Cooter watched the patrol car tear off.  Then the mechanic rubbed his eyes, blinked, and walked over to the CB in his truck.  "Breaker one, breaker one....ya'll check yer thermometers, 'cause I think hell's startin' to freeze over."

Rosco and Brian didn't hear Cooter's announcement, but the Duke boys did. They looked at each other across the General's engine and then both came out from under the hood and went to the windows of the Charger. Luke reached in and grabbed the CB mike. "Come again, Cooter?"

"Look, y'all, just do yourselves a favor and stay off the road for awhile, 'cause either I'm havin' a wakin' nightmare, or I just seen one Brian Coltrane behind the wheel of a patrol car."

Both boys snorted. "Brian??" Bo said.

Luke pushed the talk button. "Brian Coltrane?? Was he alone?"

"Naw, Rosco was with 'em, but does that really give y'all any comfort?"

Luke chuckled. "Not much. Hey, listen, you seen MaryAnne 'round town at all?"

"Ain't seen hide nor hair of 'er.  I heard Rosco callin' for her on the CB, over n' over, and I figured he finally gave up."

Bo and Luke looked at each other. That bothered them, and the expressions on their faces mixed with the reflecting colors of the Southern Cross on the General's roof.

Bo offered the only thought of comfort. "Luke, she's at least answered him on the radio. Albeit a short answer."

Luke nodded. "Cooter, which way were Rosco and Brian headin'?"

"Looks like they were takin' Highway 36 west."  Cooter chewed the direction over.  "They got an old homestead out by way of Finchburg County, don't they?"

"Yeah, they do," Luke replied. "Maybe they think MaryAnne's hold up over there." I hope she's hold up over there... "Me and Bo are gonna try to catch up to 'em, see what's goin' on. Thanks, Cooter."

“But-"   Cooter sighed and hung up the CB, scratching his head.  "I called 'em to tell 'em to stay off the road.  Dukes will be Dukes..." Cooter turned back to his work, silently wishing his friends luck.

Bo and Luke quickly finished their adjustment to the General's engine and where soon off towards Finchburg County.  A few short cuts, creek jumps and field-crossings later, the orange Dodge Charger was within spitting distance of the white Plymouth Fury.

"Hey, I got an idea," Bo said. "Whaddaya say we give Brian a run?" The blond Duke grinned.

Luke paused. "Hmm...temptin'...very temptin'. But I don't think now's the time.”

Bo nodded. "Yeah, you’re right."

The patrol car continued on it's course to Finchburg, it's driver unaware of impending Dukes.  Brian had experimented with the lights and siren as soon as they had hit the open country, enjoying the novelty.  "Now if I only had your hat," he joked to Rosco.

"You ain't gettin' this hat," Rosco chided. The Sheriff suddenly became very quiet and looked out at the passing scenery. 

Brian understood his cousin's pensive answer, remembering the photos he'd seen of MaryAnne as a kid.  If the hat would ever pass to anybody, it would be to MaryAnne.  "We'll find her," he said quietly to Rosco.

Rosco nodded and then sighed. "I didn't mean to snap," he said. "I just..." The Sheriff's words drifted and Rosco didn't finish his thought.  He glanced at the side mirror and saw the General Lee coming up behind them. "We got company..."he said, turning in his seat to look out the back window.

Brian checked the Plymouth's mirrors, and his pulse quickened at the reflection of the orange car behind them.  He gripped the wheel tighter by reflex, fighting the urge to spin the squad around and chase the Dukes up the nearest tree.  "Damn," Brian muttered, keeping the squad on course.   "Don't them two have a farm to run or somethin'?  What are they doin' out here?"

"Why don't we find out." Rosco picked up his radio mike. "Awright fellas, I see ya back there. If yer lookin' to pull a trick with Brian here drivin' my patrol car, you can just fergit it."

"Rosco, we ain't lookin' to do no such thing," Luke replied. "Cooter saw y'all leave, and had to tell us that Brian was driving a Hazzard County patrol car. But that ain't why we're followin' ya. We asked him if he'd seen MaryAnne, and he hadn't. He heard you callin' for her on the CB and all, and when he told us you were headin' towards Finchburg…we figured you were lookin' for MaryAnne. We just want to help.”

"She ain't gonna be there, I already know that," Rosco replied.

Bo gave Luke a questioning look.  The older Duke spoke for both of them. "Then why you two goin' out there?"

"I'll explain when we all get there."

As Rosco hung up the CB, Brian punched the gas.  Nothing said he couldn't give the Dukes a little workout on the way to Finchburg.  Besides, it seemed practical to know how fast a Hazzard County squad could really go.  The trip to Finchburg was soon accomplished, and Brian found the home of Eli Coltrane with some help from Rosco.  Pulling into the old place again gave the ex-criminal an errie feeling.  The boarded-up windows, the burnt and matted lawn were stark reminders of the Coltrane's last stand.  

Brian parked the squad, got out, and forced himself to look at a certain upstairs window.  He looked away quickly, the memories of the too-close call shaking him up.  Covering his distraction, he turned to watch the Dukes pull up and climb out of the General Lee.  

Rosco looked at the house with a mixture of sadness and guilt. He stepped out of the car and looked away from the house towards the barn.   

Bo and Luke just stared at the old house. They had heard about the shoot-out that had taken place here, but seeing the remains made them realize just exactly what Rosco, MaryAnne and Brian had gone through. They wondered if that was why Rosco knew MaryAnne wouldn't be here. Certainly she wouldn't want to return to such a place.

The boys looked towards Rosco, waiting to learn why he and Brian had come here at all. The Sheriff walked over to the barn, and the boys and Brian followed.

Rosco grabbed a hold of one of the massive doors and started to pull it open. Luke stepped to the other door and pulled that one open as well. A black 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado sat in the middle of the barn, it's cover half off. Behind it, another car was parked covered completely by a tarp.

Rosco looked at the front of the Oldsmobile and it's personalized plate. Bo and Luke looked too. "Wait a minute," Luke said, "I thought that plate was on Maverick?"

Rosco turned to the boys. "It was. She switched 'em."  He stepped towards the driver door of the Tornado and peered in, while the boys looked at Brian, lost.

"Rosco put out an A.P.B., " Brian explained.  "Tryin' to get somebody to find her, and hold her for questionin'..." he found himself unable to mention the gun that MaryAnne had with her.          

"Then she registered that car with that plate and musta got a new one for Maverick," Luke said, vocally putting the pieces together. He looked over at Rosco, who was pulling something off the front seat of the Tornado. The Sheriff walked to the front of the car and reached into the duffle bag and pulled out the deputies’ shirt.

"Guess that wasn't all she switched..." Bo said softly.

The small reserve of hope that Brian had was drained away by the sight of the discarded uniform.  "That blue shirt and badge meant everything to her," he said aloud, feeling his throat tighten up.

Rosco's eyes were already clouded over. He continued to stare at the shirt and the Hazzard County patch, even though all he could see was a blur of blue, black and yellow.

Bo and Luke were quiet too. Like Brian, they knew how much that uniform had meant to MaryAnne. The question of why burned deep. Why had she been acting strange? Why had she given Rosco such a hard time? Why did she give up being a deputy?

Rosco shoved the shirt back into the duffle bag, and put the bag on the hood of the Oldsmobile. He blinked his eyes and avoided looking at the boys and Brian.  He quickly wiped away a tear and closed the barn doors.

"It don't make sense,"  Brian said to himself, starting to walk back to the patrol car.  "It don't make sense for her to quit, to leave Hazzard, to do this to..." he looked over at the grief-stricken Sheriff, then at the worried Dukes. "All of us."  

Brian cast his dark-eyed gaze over the ruined farmhouse once again.  It stood in front of them like a monument.  He remembered how he'd begged MaryAnne and Rosco to run for it, to leave Hazzard and take their chances on the road, rather than face the Syndicate, it's allies, and the impossible odds.  But MaryAnne had refused to run. "What would make her run now?"  He spoke aloud without meaning to. 

"What if she ain't runnin'?" Bo asked. He looked towards Luke and then at Rosco, a little apologetic. "I mean...what if she's not runnin' away from something?"

"What're you gettin' at, Duke?"  Brian's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Look, I know me and Luke here haven't known MaryAnne as long as Rosco has, but we do know enough about her to know that if she does something, she usually has a pretty damn good reason for doin' it. What I'm sayin' is, what if she's facin' something...some kind of threat, and she feels she has to do it alone?"

"Maybe there was more to her bein' called to Atlanta then she let on about," Luke said. He looked at Rosco, who was now regarding the boys with red eyes. "I know you said you called the Atlanta Police to find out if she was there, and she hadn't been...." Luke's thought drifted. If she hadn't gone to the police department...where'd she go?     

"Y'all are on to somethin'," Brian admitted, taking a step closer to the Dukes, reading the honesty in their blue eyes.  "She told you that cryptic message in town about ‘keepin' her friends alive’, and then she said on the CB not to believe anythin' we hear about her."   The ex-criminal turned slightly towards Luke. "You think the answer's in Atlanta...but if it is, I sure as hell don't like the question."

"I ain't so sure we'll like the answer either," Luke said. He looked at Rosco who was lost in thought. "Rosco?"

The Sheriff was quiet for a long moment. He then looked at the Dukes and Brian. "What threat? What thing could make her ditch her badge and throw away her career? What in the world could possibly require her to act the way she's been actin'?!"

Bo's gaze dropped to the ground. Luke and Brian still looked at Rosco. Luke spoke without flinching from the Sheriff. "Maybe it's like she said. Maybe she's doin' all this to keep us all alive..."

"Rosco...." Brian spoke suddenly, and his voice was strained and urgent.  "MaryAnne's never been a liar, has she."

The Sheriff shook his head and sniffled. "No. Never. She'll shuck 'n jive ya...but never lie..."

"Then she didn't lie to you about goin' to Atlanta."  Brian looked at the shot-up farmhouse again.  He stared at it, thinking of what had happened here, finding it more than coincidence that MaryAnne returned to this scene.  He mentally backtracked MaryAnne's behavior and their conversations with her, trying to find the thread that tied it together.

"She seemed normal when she came back from Atlanta that day,"  Brian said to himself.  "She seemed okay, we were horsin' around in the kitchen, we even sang a bad rendition of the Eagles..."

"She started askin' questions," Rosco said suddenly. He looked at Brian. "She started askin' about...the Syndicate," he finished softly. The Sheriff's eyes were alive with fear.

"The Syndicate?" Bo repeated, loudly. "You don't think she's...?"

"Oh, Lord..." Luke said to himself.

"And I told her everythin' she wanted to know," Brian said miserably.  "Who's next in line, and who's the runner-up...oh God, Rosco... what if the ‘old case’ she told you she was in Atlanta for, wasn't that old."

Rosco shook his head, defiant. ", she wouldn't be involved with any of that again..."

"If she was askin' those kind of questions," Luke said, "and if it does have to do with a case of some sort, it'd most likely be the FBI." The older Duke cousin paused. "I dunno, might be right."

"No!" Rosco hissed. "After all we went through?! How...? How?!"

Brian turned away from his cousin, not knowing what to say.  He knew Rosco's wrath wasn't personally directed at him, but he felt responsible nonetheless. The presence of the Dukes at this moment only reminded the ex-criminal of the trade-offs of his past decisions.  All of them.

Brian lifted his head and gave the Dukes a glare.  But none of it was their fault, and when the two farm boys only looked back at him with sympathy, Brian sighed and shut his eyes.  "I'm gonna find her," he said softly.  "Atlanta's no place for a Coltrane...anymore."

"You ain't goin' by yourself," Rosco said.

"MaryAnne told us not to follow her,"  Luke reminded them.  "Now, whatever she's involved in, could be dangerous.  No offense to either of y'all, but if she couldn't tell you where she was goin' exactly n' why, then maybe ya'll best stay in Hazzard."

"And wait for them to ship her body home in a casket?!" Rosco snapped. The Sheriff shook his head. "No way. If the FBI's got her in something, they're gonna git her out!"

Brian nodded sharply. "Damn right...the Coltrane's have given enough blood to the cause.  We're gonna go back to Hazzard long enough to get Diablo, and then we're gettin' MaryAnne the hell out of Altanta."  Brian walked over to the patrol car, but stopped before he climbed in.  The Dukes were looking at him and Rosco with expressions of undisguised worry, but it was tempered by silent understanding.

Brian made another decision. "Bo...Luke...listen, take care of the dogs for us, will ya?"

The Dukes nodded.  "Thanks," Brian told them. "And one more thing.  It's over...I got no fight with ya'll."  With those words, Brian got in the patrol car and started it up.

Rosco yanked open the passenger door and started to get in when Bo took a step towards the patrol car. "Rosco--"        

The Sheriff paused and looked at the young Duke. "Listen careful..." Bo's voice softened. "Bring her home..."

Rosco nodded. He then got into the car and shut the door and Brian stepped on the accelerator, turning the car around.

"Lord, bring 'em all home," Luke added in a whisper.

*****                          *****                          *****

Chapter Three...