Chapter Seven

Brian slowed the Chevy as the Duke farm came into view. He cut the engine altogether and let the car coast off the road, parking it silently near the farmyard. Brian opened his gun, checked the substitute ammo, shut it again and jammed it inside his pocket. He scambled from the car and kept himself low to the ground, stalking the farmhouse just as he had a few weeks ago. Except this time, I'm alone, it's broad daylight, and I've got a gun full of blanks. Swell. Put it on my long list of dumb moves, MaryAnne…

Brian quenched the thoughts with an angry shake of his head. He would finish this one job right. He edged his way to the barn, suspecting that the Dukes were watching and ready to play their way or another. He knew Deuce would be on the scene in moments, and it had to look good. Brian snuck inside the barn and found a kerosene lantern.

Thanks to his lighter, it was no problem to set ablaze and toss into the front yard. The dry summer grass crackled and caught, making a haze of gray smoke hang in the yard.

Another car was coming up on the road. Brian ignored it and used the smoke cover to move in closer. He ducked down behind the orange stock car and waited. His heart drummed against his ribs, and the smoke from the now-spreading grass fire stung his eyes. He had to rely on his left hand for shooting...and that, combined with the accuracy issue of the smoke, was going to make his job tough enough to look good. The noise of a car engine was getting closer. Brian almost turned to look, but right at that moment, the screen door of the farmhouse flew open.

The blonde one came outside first. Brian waited until the dark-haired cousin was also down the steps. He gave them a moment to look around and see nothing. Then he rose up just high enough so that his gun arm was resting over the General's hood. "TURN AND FACE ME, DUKES!"

They turned, arms half-raised instinctively, and Brian let their blue eyes meet his for a brief second. He opened fire before they could blink, squeezing off two rapid shots. The shock on their faces was real. Crimson appeared on the front of their chests and they fell to the ground. Brian remained in position a moment longer to make sure they didn't move.

Then he came out from behind the General, and kicked the body of the one called Luke. He didn't move. Brian then stopped down and pulled Bo's head up by a shock of blonde hair. No response.  Brian let go, and Bo’s face hit the dirt.

Agent Mayson ran like a bat out of hell to his radio. The lookout by the Duke farm just reported that shots were fired and the fields were burning.  “Hold your position until he starts to move out. Keep your eyes peeled for the others. I want these sons-a-bitches all caught at the same time!!"

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Brian heard a wailing sob coming from the farmhouse, and took it as his cue to leave. He put his gun away and ran quickly through the smoking field, his black boots stirring ash. There was little visibility in the acrid smoke, which became denser as he went along. Coughing and staggering, he finally saw the outline of his car. As he got closer, he saw another shape. It was tall and standing next to the Chevy. A voice spoke to him. "Nice job, Brian."

Something in Deuce's tone made him wary. "That you, Deuce?"

"Yeah. Saw the whole thing. Come on, Brian. Your work here is done." Deuce stayed behind the Chevy.  It was a similar stance to the one Brian had used on the Dukes.

Brian's hand drifted to his jacket pocket...and then he remembered that he had nothing more than blanks.

Another figure came to stand behind Deuce. The top hitman kept his eyes on Brian, who had seemed about to go for his weapon. "I got 'em," Dirk said without being quiet. "The Sheriff's laid out flat about five miles from here."

Brian's left hand drew his useless weapon. Deuce drew his own, which held live ammo.  Dirk put himself between them, his switchblade folded shut in his right hand. "Easy, Brian. You know Deuce is a better shot. Take it easy, man, the smoke's gettin' to ya." Dirk strode towards Brian at an angle. It forced Brian to divide his attention between Deuce and Dirk. Even with live ammo, Brian would have been hard-pressed to get both of them. With a sickening sense of defeat, he realized that he was the last of the Coltranes...and that he was about to come to the same end as MaryAnne and Rosco. The loss showed on Brian's face, and it made Dirk laugh. "The Syndicate thanks you for your business," he chuckled nastily, and clicked the blade open.

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All that waited for Rosco when he made it to the open door of his patrol car was disappointment. He saw the ripped wires hanging down from behind the CB and he closed his eyes, not believing his bad luck. Then again, he knew he should have realized that the hitman wouldn't have wanted him to get to radio to call for help. He wanted him to die.

The idiot didn't check the trunk tho...dang it, you mean I gotta crawl back there...?  Rosco tried to take a deep breath, but his wounded lower back screamed at him in resistance. He made a small sound of pain and opened his eyes, noticing things were getting darker and more blurred. He reached up to the ignition and pulled the keys out, slowly turning to go back to the trunk. 

Rosco got as far as the trunk and putting the key into the lock, when everything went swirling out from under him. He leaned against the chrome bumper, trying to blink away the blackness but it wasn't working. I've got to get to that emergency radio.... he told himself. I' to... He tried to continue to fight the sleep, thinking that there was too much he would be leaving behind if he let it take him. Folks he knew in Hazzard, the Dukes, MaryAnne. Especially MaryAnne...

"Sweetheart..." Rosco whispered. "I'm sorry..."

The last ounce of strength he had was gone. Rosco's hand slipped from the car and he laid himself down, the darkness covering over him like a blanket.

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"Goddammit, somebody call the Fire Department!! All our evidence will end up burning up!!"  Frank grabbed up his radio mike. "Unit 4, how many suspects are there?"

"One pulled up just before the shots went off. Three more just pulled in...there could be more but I can't see a damn thing with all that smoke!"

"Can you see the two Duke men?"

"I saw them briefly...they're on the ground. Frank, we gotta do something!!"

Frank hesitated for a moment. Why is the Syndicate standing around if they think the Dukes are dead???

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Back in town, Enos found himself going frantic in the booking room. He heard the FBI's transmissions and the fact that the Sheriff was not jumping in on any of them was giving Enos the worst feeling he'd ever had in his life.  He listened to the equally frantic transmissions of the FBI on the radio. The boys had been 'shot' and there was a fire burning, Sheriff Rosco was missing. The hitmen, however, were standing around for some reason.

"The Syndicate...doesn't trust me...since I blew the last job I had in Hazzard..."  Brians' words came back to Enos, along with the comment about how Deuce 'had his own reasons' for not breaking him out of jail the day before....

The radio crackled again. "Unit Four to looks like some kind of standoff...I can't see much with the smoke but I think they're having a not-to-friendly discussion with Coltrane."

Enos lunged to the radio set. "It makes sense! Brian said that the Syndicate doesn't trust him anymore after he blew the hit on the Dukes his first time in Hazzard! It's possible they're gonna dispose of him!"

"I think he's right!" the agent behind Frank exclaimed. "Our contact also said that there was a rumor that the Syndicate would be dumping Brian Coltrane when the hit on the Dukes was complete."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" Frank asked.

"Well...I...didn't think it was that important."

Frank growled. He then pushed the talk button on the radio mike. "Well they sure as hell ain't doing it on my watch. Units 5 and 6 get moving! Deputy Strate, you better get a fire truck out here!"


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Dirk continued to taunt Brian as he closed in. "Tell me where you want it, Coltrane. Lung, kidney, liver? Or maybe the spleen, where the Sheriff got it."

Dirk stopped just a few feet away from his victim, with nothing separating them but the thickening smoke.  "Nice thing about stabbing in the spleen, is that it's slow and messy. The Sheriff's probably still bleeding..." Dirk's harsh laughter was echoed by Deuce in the background. "See, that's why I knew you'd never make it as a hitman, Brian," Dirk added as he began to move again, now walking behind his target. "You don't enjoy your work."

Brian started to snarl a retort, but the smoke was making him cough. Dirk was a short distance behind him now. Brian knew that turning to watch Dirk would give Deuce a good shot at his back. There was nothing left to do.

Given a choice of waiting for it or keeping busy, Brian took the latter option. "I'll be damned if I'm gonna make this easy, " he said suddenly, and turned around to lunge at Dirk. When Brian moved, Deuce fired, but the hitmen were already grappling on the ground. The shot missed. Deuce was taking aim for another when the sirens broke in. He looked down the road and forgot about anything but his own hide. "FEDS!" he roared out to Dirk, and it was the only assistance the knife-wielder would get from him.

At the shouted warning, Dirk threw Brian off and made tracks for his own car. Deuce had tried taking Brian's Chevy, but the keys hadn't been left inside, and there was no time to hotwire. In the foot race for escape, Deuce had a head start, but the FBI was proving to be faster. Brian could hear the sirens, the screeching of tires, the warning shots fired by the agents, and the return fire of the Syndicate that was popping like firecrackers down the road. He half-crouched, half-crawled to his car.

With his eyes watering from the smoke and his throat burning from the dry heat, Brian made his way to the Chevy. He got in the passenger side and stayed low in the seat, pulling the door shut slowly in hopes of being unnoticed. He scuttled to the driver's side and stuck the key in the ignition. Taking a chance on his luck, Brian started the car and slammed it into gear, not daring a look over the dashboard until he was already in flight. Shots burst around him in reaction, the Chevy's quarter-panels pinging as the lead hit. Brian spun the car into a one-eighty after finding the road blocked. The FBI was nothing if not efficient, and to his dismay another roadblock faced him from this direction as well.

The grass fire seemed more attractive than the FBI. Brian took it, plunging the Chevy into the smoking field out of pure desperation. The black car was swallowed by the smoke, and it reminded him of driving through heavy fog...except that he couldn't breathe. That, and the risk of exploding tires forced him back on the road. But his luck had held, and no pursuit showed in the mirrors. He floored it, unwittingly heading back towards Hazzard. He'd gone ten miles or so when he spotted a white patrol car parked alongside the road, it's lights flashing in eerie silence.

Frank and the rest of his team had most of the Duke farm surrounded. Bo and Luke Duke were still lying face down in the dirt. The black Ford sat slumped to one side, Dirk now in custody of the FBI. Frank waved away the smoke as he looked over to where Deuce was being held, noticing the hitman had received two gun shot wounds to his right arm.  Fortunately, none of his agents were wounded. 

A couple of agents were using small fire extinguishers on the fire, trying to bring it under control until the fire truck arrived. Something was missing in the picture, and Frank turned to his second in command. "Where the hell's that black Chevy?"

The other agent just shook his head. "Went through the field there."

"Well, he must be back on the road!" Frank Mayson looked around frantically. "Johnson! Come with me." Frank looked back at his second in command again. "Get those two hitmen outta here. We'll add them to the others that Unit Three caught down the road a ways." He glanced at the Duke boys. "Make sure they're okay, too!"

"Yes sir!"

Frank ran back to this car with Agent Johnson joining. The grey sedan tore off down the road.

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Every criminal instinct Brian had was screaming at him to ignore the stranded patrol car. He might have been able to do so, but then he saw the uniformed body of the Sheriff lying near the trunk of the car. Brian swore and hit the brakes.

He got out, leaving his car running and the door open. There wouldn't be anything he could do for Rosco, but he felt compelled to check anyway. Brian knelt by the Sheriff and checked for a pulse. He found one, weak and unsteady. 

"Dammit..." Brian felt relieved and accursed at the same time. He lifted Rosco up halfway, and put pressure on the heavily-bleeding wound. "Sheriff....wake up..."

After a moment, Rosco came out of the blackness briefly. Slowly, he opened his eyes and looked at the blurry person who was next to him. There was no mistaking the black clothing and Rosco's fear resonated through every nerve. Was he about to be finished off?  "Brian...." Rosco pleaded and shook his head, "no..."

Brian hauled Rosco up and carried him towards the Chevy, a feat made more difficult by the Sheriff’s condition, and Brian's less-than-healed shoulder. "C'mon, Sheriff....just stay awake...."

"No...just leave me here..." Rosco protested meekly.

"Can't do that...just take it easy, c'mon...." Brian got Rosco inside and shut the door. The braying of distant sirens could be heard as Brian jumped in the car and threw it into gear.

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Meanwhile, Frank’s second in command, Roger Kelley, walked over to where Bo and Luke were still laying on the ground. The fire truck pulled into the yard and Roger kneeled down to the dark haired Duke. "Are you fellas all right? Two of the Syndicate men have been caught, the third one, Coltrane, got away but we've got somebody after him." Roger placed his hand on Luke's shoulder, waiting for the young man to move. "I'm agent Roger Kelley. It's okay for y'all to move." Please move.  He looked up as another agent came out of the house with the rest of the Duke family.

Luke moved slowly and pushed himself up off the ground. "Lord, that felt too real," he said as he gave Bo a hand up.

"You ain't kiddin'," Bo agreed, looking drawn and nervous. "I could hardly lay there with all that commotion goin' behind us..." Bo and Luke were interrupted by their Uncle Jesse and their cousin Daisy, who swarmed them with hugs and exclamations of relief. Daisy was trying to dry her tears and failing, but her smile more than compensated. Agent Kelley cleared his throat. "The FBI appreciates your bravery," he said solemnly. "But with Brian Coltrane loose, it would be safer for you to remain 'dead' until further notice."

Luke wiped his hand over the packet of stage blood that had burst open from the blank. It made him think of MaryAnne's wounds, which had been agonizingly real. The thought of even one hitman still roaming Hazzard upset him. He was going to say so, but Uncle Jesse beat him to it.

"What about Rosco? What about..." Uncle Jesse stopped short of saying MaryAnne. He doubted that Rosco had told the FBI the complete truth. "With even one hitman on the loose, everybody in this town's in danger..."

"The head agent went after Brian Coltrane with Agent Johnson," Kelley said. "I'm afraid all we can do is wait..."

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Rosco was fighting nausea and the velvet hand of sleep, all the while holding on to the door handle of Brian's speeding Chevy. His entire backside was a cross between numbness and stinging, burning agitation. He rolled his head to the side and looked at Brian. In a struggling breath he asked, "What...are you to me...?"

Brian's dark eyes were unreadable as they flicked once to Rosco, then returned to the road ahead. "You set me up, Sheriff," he said lowly.

Rosco swallowed, his face contorting in pain and disgust. "Guess I ain' stupid thought..."

Brian snorted and whipped the Chevy around a curve before answering. He seemed to have a destination in mind, though he didn't offer it aloud. "Oh, you're stupid enough. But I'm dumb myself, for buyin' your line of bull."

"Well then...why don't you stop the car...and finish this damn thing now..."

"Don't tempt me!" Brian gripped the wheel tighter. He thought he could still hear sirens, though they were too far back for the mirrors. "I'm already goin' down for MaryAnne's murder," he snapped. "You can damn well bet if Deuce and Dirk got busted by the Feds, that they're already plea bargaining'. Already tellin' the Feds that I killed MaryAnne, that I killed you! Hell, even if you manage to survive, now they're gonna find YOUR blood in MY car...goddamn...." Brian looked shaken.

"Then why...did you...pick me...up? You coulda...just back there..."

"Because I'm stupider than you are, Sheriff, which is sayin' somethin.'"

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Frank Mayson and Agent Johnson knew they were coming up to the intersection of Old Mill Road and Route 16 when they saw the lone patrol car at the side of the road. Frank suddenly got a bad feeling and he brought the car to a stop in the middle of the road. Both he and Johnson jumped out to investigate. Frank went to the driver's side as Johnson looked at the back of the car.


Mayson looked up from the bloodstain on the seat, then over to Johnson, who was looking down at the ground. The head agent walked over and saw the blood in the dirt.

"It looks like he got him," Johnson said softly.

"We don't know that for sure. It could have been Brian Coltrane, it could have been anyone of these damn hoodlums that are running around." Frank drew in a heavy sigh. "Dammit."

"Do we still go after Coltrane?"

"Got any idea of where the hell he went?" Frank asked angrily. "There's another road that intersects up ahead. He could have gone down any of the other forks." He looked at Johnson harshly. "We'll be lucky we find the Sheriff at all..."

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The Chevy was redlining. Brian watched the RPM gauge and the now-glowing hot light on the Impala's dash.  The side trip through the grass fire had been costly. Between watching the dashboard, the mirrors, and watching Rosco to make sure the Sheriff was breathing, Brian's nerves were shot.

For himself, Rosco was running out of strength and had pretty much decided that he didn't want to talk to Brian anymore and didn't want to be in his damn car either. So he made one last attempt at a request and figured if Brian wouldn't oblige, he’d just let the darkness take him. There was no sense staying awake to wait and see what Brian had planned. Rosco didn't care to find out.  "Brian...for cryin' out loud...let me out of this car...just leave me out here..."

Brian glanced over at Rosco again and noted the washed-out color of the Sheriff's face. It scared him. "Just stay awake," Brian said without hostility. He bit his lip and added another word. "Please."

Rosco almost couldn't believe he heard it...but he did...just before he drifted into unconsciousness.

Minutes later, Tri-County hospital was coming into view. "Hang on, Sheriff, hang on..." Brian screeched the Chevy into the hospital parking lot, making a beeline for the emergency wing.

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Back at the Duke farm, Agents Mayson and Johnson were returning from their unsuccessful pursuit. The Duke family and Agent Kelley approached the car as it came to a stop.  Frank shook his head as he stepped out. "I'm sorry, Brian Coltrane got away. We found the Sheriff's car down the road a few miles." He paused. "I'm afraid the Sheriff wasn't as lucky as you two." He looked at Bo and Luke.

"The Sheriff's dead?" Agent Kelley asked.

"He's missing, but there's evidence to suggest he was killed there and they took him." Frank scowled. "Knowing the Syndicate, we may not ever find him."

The Duke family seemed to wither at the news. Uncle Jesse shut his eyes and said a silent prayer, as he put an arm around his niece. Fresh sobs broke from Daisy. Bo and Luke exchanged dire expressions, realizing that their safety may have been purchased with another life.

Mayson turned to his subordinate.  “You’d better radio Deputy Strate and tell him what's happening."

"Yes sir." Agent Kelley looked at the ashen faces of the Duke family and then headed off to radio Enos. He shook his head. Despite the Dukes being safe, and all but one of the hitmen being caught, Kelley couldn't help but feel cheated by the whole thing. The loss of a lawman in the line of duty was never easy to take.

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Brian screeched the Chevy to a jolting stop in front of the emergency room entrance. With a honk of his horn and some shouts, he soon had medical personal rushing out to retrieve the wounded Sheriff. As Rosco was hustled inside, Brian followed to explain the nature of the injury to the ER doctor. Syndicate training was good for something, and Brian gave the medical staff a good idea as to the amount of blood Rosco had lost, the damage to the spleen, and the amount of time that had elapsed since occurrence. By the shocked faces of the emergency staff, Brian knew he was already accused. It was time to get out of Hazzard.

MaryAnne, meanwhile, punched the elevator 'down' button with her thumb and waited impatiently for the doors to open. Normally, she would have ran to the stairs, but her leg and hip were not up to the task, she had hobbled enough as it was to get down the hall. So she waited, rubbing her index finger and thumb over her forehead, in a vain effort to soothe the growing headache. I'm gonna lose my kin, my REAL kin...Rosco. Dammit all, this is all gonna end up bein' my FAULT!!

Having not liked being 'out of the loop,' MaryAnne had asked Dr. Michaels if she could have a police radio in her room, so she could listen in on what was happening. The Doctor allowed it and now MaryAnne cursed herself for having wanted it at all.

She had heard the FBI's frantic transmissions as events unfolded at the Duke farm. She heard them as they realized that the Syndicate was going to dispose of Brian and then she heard the agent call Enos to say that Rosco was missing and feared dead. At the description of how Rosco's patrol car had been found - the blood on the ground, the tires slashed, the CB ripped out – MaryAnne had nearly lost her lunch.
Then came the call the hospital made to Enos. The Sheriff had just arrived, severely wounded in the back, with possible damage to the spleen and considerable blood loss. MaryAnne got up at that point and limped out of her room, much to the protest of the nurses.

"Leave me alone!" she exclaimed, pulling her arm out of the grip of one of the nurses. "They just brought in my cousin, dammit!"

The head nurse gave the order not to try to restrain the patient and MaryAnne adjusted her sweatshirt and continued down the hall. The elevator doors swished open and MaryAnne stepped inside, jabbing the '1' button angrily. She held on to the railing for the ride, shaking at the thought of losing Rosco. "Lord, please..." she whispered. "Please help him...don't take him from me now..."

When the elevator stopped and the doors opened, MaryAnne hurried out, nearly colliding with an older couple. She quickly apologized and then walked as fast as she could with a limp towards the ER.

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At the same time, from one end of Hazzard, a white patrol car was speeding towards Tri-County hospital. From the other part of the county, a grey federal car was heading to the same destination.

"How the hell did he get to Tri-County?" Agent Mayson had exclaimed when Roger Kelley told him of the hospital's broadcast. The two agents then jumped into a car and tore out of the Duke yard, leaving the Duke family feeling like the rope in an emotional tug of war. First they're told MaryAnne's dead. Then they find out she's not. Then they're told that Rosco's missing and feared dead. Now they're told he's at the hospital...but not necessarily okay.

Daisy couldn't stand it anymore and sat down on the steps of the porch, burying her face in her hands. Bo, Luke and Jesse just looked at each other, a faint glimmer of hope passing between them for the chance that Rosco would be all right and would pull through.

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MaryAnne calmly walked through the waiting room of the ER. She spotted the doorway leading into the ER itself and with no one watching her, she stepped through the already open door.

The ER opened up into two different hallways. The hallway to her left led to where things were happening and she headed for the noise. MaryAnne began walking down the hall as quickly as she could. The ambulance entrance was directly in front of her, and as she got closer, people cleared out of her line of site and she saw the cursed black Chevy. MaryAnne suddenly saw red and marched straight to the entrance.

Brian was about to take his leave of the hospital and of Hazzard County, but he stopped a frazzled nurse to ask her a question. "Ma'am, the Sheriff in the ER...what are his chances?" The middle-aged nurse frowned in his direction. "We won't know that until he's out of surgery." She bustled away without a second glance. Brian took a last look towards the ER, where he had last seen Rosco. It was all he allowed himself as goodbye. Then he spun around and walked quickly away.

MaryAnne saw the nurse talking with the man in the black clothing. She didn't care if Brian saw her, knowing that he thought she was dead. She didn't figure it would jeoprodize her safety, seeing as he wasn't likely to go back to the Syndicate especially since they had tried to wipe him out. Hey, she's still alive. That's nice, you're dead. BLAM!

MaryAnne was ready to spit nails. She watched the nurse walk away and Brian turned and walk out of the entrance towards his car. She didn't say a word, didn't call out to him. She just hurried up behind him, grabbed him by the arm and spun him around to face him. She allowed only a split second for him to look at her before she let loose with a right cross.

Brian reeled back, taken entirely by surprise. He blinked at the crazy woman who had attacked him, rubbing his jaw. "Listen, miss, you got me confused with somebody else, I -"

MaryAnne grabbed the lapels of Brian's jacket and pushed him against the back fender of the Chevy. She stopped from hitting him again, not wanting to bring out any nurses or hospital staff and just looked at him, her eyes red with tears.

"Is this what you wanted?!" she yelled. "Did you want to wipe out your damn kin?!? Are you happy now?!? Rosco at least had the smarts to figure a way to keep me alive, even after I was stupid enough to let you go last time. I couldn't return the favor for him, but for Rosco I'm not letting you go this time. You're going DOWN!!"

Brian stared at the crazy woman with open-mouthed, stupefied shock. But there was no mistaking the bright blue eyes and the fiery spirit. "MaryAnne?" he said in small voice, afraid to believe it.

"Yeah, it's me, MaryAnne Coltrane. I'm back from the dead." She gave Brian a shove, causing the hitman to flinch from the pain in his shoulder. "Aww..did that hurt? Rosco shoulda planted that bullet about six inches to the left!"

Brian welcomed his cousin's raving. She was alive! Now if only she'd quit hitting him. "I didn't recognize you out of uniform, Deputy," he said with a slow, cautious smile. His dark eyes held warmth as he listened to her rant some more.

MaryAnne wasn't amused. "What the hell are you smiling at?!?"

Her tone made Brian's grin fade a little. "I know it's not mutual, cousin, but I'm happy to see ya." His eyes read the posture of her body, noticing that she displaced her weight more on one leg than the other. She stood straight enough, though, and her right cross had lacked nothing. "You okay?" he asked just to make sure.

"Not really! My leg and hip are all messed up, Rosco's in there fighting for his life and you're standing there grinning!"

The last of the smile left Brian's face. "I know." He stood there a moment, not saying anything in his defense. The reek of smoke and blood was thick on his jacket, and Brian figured he looked every bit the criminal he was. He moved to put a hand on the door of his car. "Goodbye, Deputy."

"Oh no. No, no, no, you ain't goin' NOWHERE mister!" MaryAnne tightened her grip on his jacket. "You already used your get out of jail free card and you don't get another one."

"Rosco an' me made a deal. I kept up my end of it. Let go."

"Nope. I wasn't a factor in that deal so what I decide to do has nothing to do with what you and Rosco agreed on." MaryAnne's eyes flicked towards the parking lot and she saw the grey sedan driving in. "And I highly doubt Rosco getting his back cut out of him was part of that deal."

"Neither was Rosco callin' the Feds on me. But the Dukes are still alive, thanks to me, Deputy. Whether you like it or not. I really wish I had time to give you my side of the story, but I don't." Brian removed MaryAnne's grip from his jacket, gently but firmly, and opened his car door.

"Oh ho no, thank yew, Brian," MaryAnne said in a nasal tone. "Thank yew sooooo much! We so much appreciate your god damn bravery! I don't want to hear your pathetic side of the story anyways. And I REMIND you that YOU were the one that suggested Rosco bring in reinforcements. You really think he was stupid don't you? Well he wasn't!! I hope the Feds fry your ASS!"

It was the most vicious rebuke that MaryAnne had ever handed him, and Brian was stunned. He simply looked at her, too stricken to respond. Then he sighed and got into his car, slamming the door and firing the ignition. He put his hand on the gearshift, put it in drive, but held his foot on the brake for a moment longer. He looked at her once more, and tried to find the right words. His mouth was dry and something felt like it was stuck in his throat. "Maybe you'll get your wish, cousin...." he said finally, and started to drive off.

"DON'T CALL ME COUSIN YOU SON OF A---" MaryAnne let her voice drop as the Chevy drove further away from her. The grey federal car was now making a beeline for the ambulance entrance and the black Chevy.

Brian saw a grey sedan rushing towards him and knew what it represented. He cursed himself for his sentimental waste of time and gunned the engine, swerving the Chevy wildly to shortcut through the parking lot.

"Nail him!" Mayson exclaimed. Roger turned the steering wheel hard and the sedan squealed around a parked car, darting after the Chevy.

The situation was desperate for Brian. His car had endured hard driving and damage that would soon take its toll. He saw his only chance in the one-way street that connected the hospital to the main road. He took it...going the wrong direction on purpose. Brian knew that police officers wouldn't pursue a car if it meant creating a dangerous risk to the public. He hoped the same was true of Federal agents.

Roger directed the sedan towards the helicopter pad, tearing over the grass and leaving tire marks on the white H. The sedan bounced through the grass on the other side and headed towards the lawn that separated the parking lot from the main road. The black Chevy traveled the wrong way on the one-way road, while the grey sedan tore up the tulips and daisies.

Drivers on the main road way swerved to the sides and stopped as the grey car came bouncing off the curb. A pick up truck started to turn onto the one-way road and saw nothing but the black Chevy barreling towards him.

There was exactly five seconds to react, and Brian needed six. He yanked the wheel hard to the right and narrowly missed the truck, but clipped the fender of another car. The Chevy took the damage and stayed in flight, but the engine was making a noise that Brian never heard before. He checked the mirrors and saw the grey sedan moving through the traffic.  He was being pursued.  Relentlessly. "They're crazy...."

"Stay on him, Kelley..." Mayson said. Roger maneuvered the sedan around cars that had slowed to a stop in the worst possible spots on the road. Blaring horns from other drivers and from the sedan filled the air. Kelley crossed the double yellow line several times and then finally got a clear run at the black Chevy.

As the grey sedan broke open in the mirrors, Brian found religion. He prayed his car would hold together long enough to let him escape. A check of the gauges showed Brian that his embattled car was starting to lose oil pressure.  He would be losing speed, soon.  Maneuvers were all he had left.

Brian threw caution to the wind and pulled one of the most dangerous stunts in the business. Instead of weaving around the other cars, he deliberately aimed for the oncoming traffic, playing chicken with every vehicle that had the misfortune to be on the road. His goal: force the oncoming cars to swerve out of the way, and send them into the path of the Feds. It would only take one over-compensating driver to spin out and block the road behind him.

One of Brian's hands held a death-grip on the wheel, and the other pressed down on the horn. The constant, blaring blast, combined with the sight of the large black car heading straight for them, caused instant panic with the other motorists. Several times, Brian cringed, thinking that one car or another wasn't going to move in time. But for now it was working, and the black Chevy speared through the traffic, leaving chaos in it's wake.

"God dammit!!" Kelley exclaimed as he swerved the sedan around other cars, trying to stay on the road and in sight of the Chevy. "He's a lunatic!!"

"Look, save the descriptions of his personality for a report. Just GET HIM!!"

"What the hell do you think I'm trying to do?!!"  Kelley managed to take the car another 20 feet before a car sent flying out of it's lane by the Chevy came swerving back in, blocking the sedan from continuing it's pursuit. Kelley slammed the breaks and he and Mayson watched the Chevy disappear down the road.

Frank picked up the radio mike. "This is Mayson. He's heading down Route 4, about three miles from Tri-County Hospital.  He just gave us the slip. Will somebody git their butt out here and STOP HIM!!"

"Frank, look!"

Frank looked where Kelley was pointing, and saw the white Hazzard County patrol car with it's lights flashing coming towards the Chevy.  "That deputy better git him...or I'm gonna be kicking tails from here to Siberia!" Mayson muttered.

The one things that Brian didn't want to see right now was a rack of flashing lights. Oncoming cars moved to the side of the road as the squad came up behind them. Too soon, it was just the lone patrol car and the black Chevy, bearing down on each other. Brian knew the road behind him was blocked. A memory flashed through his mind, unbidden, of the time he had played chicken with MaryAnne. She had won.

And this was another Hazzard County officer. There was no more time to think. "Sorry, Deputy Strate, but I got nothin' to lose." Brian held his course.

Enos was thinking pretty much the same thing as he kept his eye on the Chevy and let Brian think this was a game of chicken. The deputy had only one thought going through his mind. I'm doing this for the Sheriff, the Dukes and MaryAnne...I'm doing this for the Sheriff, the Dukes and MaryAnne... Enos kept the Fury's grill zeroed in on the battered Chevy.

At the last possible second, Enos swung the patrol car to the left, turning the body of the car across the road, leaving little room on either end for the Chevy to get through clear...not without hitting the patrol car and suffering more damage to itself.

The nose of the Chevy hit the tail end of the squad, sending it into a quarter-spin. The crunch of metal sounded like thunder, and it was immediately followed by another boom. With it, smoke poured from the Chevy's front end.  Smoke was also pouring through the dash vents and filling the interior of the car. Brian had no choice but to slam the brakes. The hard, screaming squeal of the tires could be heard for blocks. Brian jumped from the dead car and ran for it on foot.

Enos held on for the ride and when it was over he looked at the Chevy in time to see Brian take off in a sprint. Enos pushed open the driver door and took off after the hitman.  "Hey! HEY!!!" Enos called.

Brian ran like hell.

Enos followed Brian down the road and then across another parking lot. More tires could be heard screeching on the pavement behind the deputy and hitman as additional agents started to show up. Brian kept running, and Enos kept after him, pulling his gun out now. Behind him was another federal car. The chase went straight across the parking lot and Brian ran down the grassy embankment and jumped over the bushes. He ran through the front yard of the building and was back on pavement again.

The federal car that had been behind Enos swung around and went out through the parking lot's exit andup to the chase in no time.

Enos glanced behind him briefly to see the grey car coming up beside him. The two agents had their attention focused on the hitman and the car zoomed by Enos. The car then cut directly in front of Brian.

Brian jumped the hood and rolled across it, and as his feet hit the pavement again he turned and drew his weapon. Blanks or not, it was all he had. "GIT BACK! ALL OF YA!!"

The Federal agents were undeterred.  They were dedicated and brave, and Brian was not the first desperate criminal they’d ever faced.  They lunged toward him. 

With his bluff called, Brian discarded the useless gun and made his last stand. He gave the agents something to remember him by, before finally being subdued.  Fighting, cursing and struggling, Brian Coltrane went down as MaryAnne had predicted.

The agents wrestled with Brian and finally got a grip on his arms and turned them behind his back, nearly throwing him to the ground in the process. Enos stood by with his gun drawn, and watched as one of the agents pulled out a set of handcuffs and put them on Brian.

"You’d better get used to the jewelry, son. You're gonna be wearing it for a long time,” Frank Mayson said.

The fight left Brian and was replaced by overwhelming exhaustion. His bad shoulder pained him, and he winced as the agents pulled him back up. He lifted his head to look at Deputy Strate.

Enos offered no apology. He simply holstered his gun and stepped out of the way as the agents placed Brian in their car.

Brian slumped in the backseat, MaryAnne's last words to him ringing in his mind.

One of the agents leaned into the car and grabbed the radio mike. "This is Unit 6 to headquarters. We got him."

"Excellent! Take him to the jail in town and hold him there."


Mayson turned to Kelley. "Let's try and get this traffic back to normal and then get back to the Duke farm. I want them know the last of the hitmen have been caught. Then I want you to put a call into Atlanta. Tell them to bust the whole thing wide open." 

Kelley nodded and hastened to comply. 

The radio transmissions between the Feds had given Brian's present mood a turn for the worse. He could do nothing but wait in the backseat as the agents spoke of his capture and next destination.  The bastards made it sound like it was easy, he thought to himself bitterly.

The cool attitude of the law continued to annoy him. He listened to the chatter over the police frequencies, and heard enough to realize that the Feds were going to try to bust the Syndicate in Atlanta. Their timing was good, he had to admit. With the Don's top hitmen sitting in the cooler, the Syndicate's teeth were already half-pulled. Brian no longer felt any loyalty to the Syndicate, but he felt even less to the law.  Especially to certain Hazzard County officers who had betrayed him…

Chapter Eight