Anderson nodded and quietly began to tell his story.

+ + + + + + +

An hour away from Coral Canyon Buck dropped back letting Chris take the lead.

"How ya doin'?"Buck asked Josiah.

Sanchez nodded his gaze on the horizon,"The bullet just scratched me,brother.I'll rest easier once we clear JD's name."

Buck nodded as he struggled to keep his thoughts focused away from what JD might be going through at that moment.

Hell for all they knew Cooper could have killed the kid as soon as they got out of Four Corners.

Buck could only hope that Chris was right about Cooper.

If JD died there would be hell to pay.....starting with Cooper and ending with Richard Murray.

"All of us will,Josiah."Buck replied quietly as he watched the sun start to peak over the horizon,"All of us will."

+ + + + + + +

Even though they had all suspected it the truth still surprised Ezra.

"So Mr. Murray did set up Mr. Dunne to take the fall for the child's death."The gambler stated softly after Anderson had told them the events of that fateful day.

"Not intentionally,"Michael replied his brown eyes continously scanned the dark street as if he was afraid somebody would over hear,"One of Murray's gang was stationed on the roof of the general store next to the bank to act as a look out. The sniper was ordered to take anyone out who tried to interupt the robbery."

Vin shook his head sadly,"But JD moved and the girl took the bullet instead."

"Why didn't you tell anyone this?"Ezra asked.

"Look around you Mr. Standish,"Anderson replied grimly,"Murray had tried to kill me once, if I spoke against him I was surely a dead man. I am not proud of my actions. I was and still am very grateful for the stand your friend took but I still had my family to think about."

Ezra was about to reply when he saw Vin move away from them slightly his gaze focused on the horizon.

"Do you detect something Mr. Tanner?"Ezra asked as he came to stand next to the tracker.

"Might be trouble."Vin replied softly,"Ten riders maybe more, comin' in fast."

Colleen came up behind Vin following his gaze to the rapidly approaching riders,"There's no law here right now. It may not look like it right now, Mr. Tanner but Coral Canyon is a good town. We just let too many men like Richard Murray walk over us. If this new group is trouble I don't think they'll be much left of Coral Canyon for them to take over."

"We're about to find out."Ezra replied as he took Colleen by the right arm and pulled her over to the side of the alley.

+ + + + + + +

JD's heart sank as Coral Canyon came into view. He wasn't concerned for himself....he had committed a horrible crime and deserved whatever punishment that came his way.

Whether it was by the law's hand or Cooper's.

What worried him most was what Ezra or Vin would do to stop it.

JD didn't want any more blood on his hands, especially their's.

+ + + + + + +

Vin joined Ezra at the mouth of the alley as the group of riders entered the small town.

"We defintely have trouble."The tracker commented grimly as he doublechecked his ammunition.

Ezra glared at his friend,"Could you state something less obvious, Mr. Tanner?"The gambler had noticed the group was well armed.

Vin shook his head slightly as he gestured toward the back of the group,"They have JD."

+ + + + + + +

Nathan Jackson gratefully accepted the cup of coffee from Mary as he stood by the window of Orin Travis's hotel room.

"How is he?"Mary asked softly as she turned to look at the still form of her father-in-law.

"His breathin's a little shallow, but his heartbeat is normal so I don't think his breathin's anything to worry about."Nathan replied quietly.

Mary pulled her white shawl tighter around her shoulders,"Was he poisoned?"

"I wish I knew."Nathan replied as his dark gaze fell on the broken glass still sitting on the nightstand,"If it was poison who ever made it didn't intend to kill with it."

+ + + + + + +

Martin Cooper barely noticed the still smoldering embers of Coral Canyon's saloon as he pulled his horse to a stop in front of the bank.

Cooper nodded to the brown haired man next to him.

The man nodded and pulled a coil of rope from his saddlebag.

Cooper's gaze hardened as he glanced at the spot where his neice had fallen under the bullet's wrath.

Today he would get his justice.

+ + + + + + +

"They're wasting no time initiating their brand of justice."Ezra replied grimly as they watched two of Cooper's men haul JD to the roof of the bank.

Once they had JD secured on the roof Cooper joined his men and did the honor of placing the noose around the youth's neck.

Vin glanced back at Colleen,"Do you know who they are?"He asked as he lifted his rifle.

The tracker didn't want to think of how these men had gotten JD out of Four Corners. There was no way Buck would have let JD go without a fight......

Colleen's eyes were wide as she watched the group,"Yes, most are local boys."

"What about the leader?"Ezra asked as he double checked his own ammunition.

"Martin Cooper."Colleen replied quietly,"He owns a small ranch outside of town."

"The poor girl that was killed,"Anderson added,"Was his niece."

"Does this Cooper have any other family besides the girl?"Ezra asked.

Colleen shook her head,"Cooper's sister Martha who was the girl's mother left town shortly after the girl was killed."

Vin stiffled a sigh as he glanced at Ezra,"So much for doing this the easy way."

Ezra finished loading his derrianger,"Since when do we do things the easy way?"

Vin walked out from the protection of the alley his rifle trained on the rope that held JD.

Ezra turned back to Colleen as he handed her his spare pistol,"Take this and stay out of sight. No matter what happens here today."

Colleen shook her head,"You've seen what I can do with a rifle, Mr. Standish. I can help your friend."

Ezra smiled,"Even with your skills with a weapon we're still drasticly outnumbered. If this should turn badly not that I'm saying it will but if it does I need you to tell Chris Larabee what happened."

Michael Anderson was about to speak when Ezra cut him off,"Mr. Anderson make sure she stays put."

Anderson nodded as he ushered Colleen against the wall of the general store.

+ + + + + + +

"Cooper!"Vin called as he walked across the street,"Let the boy go, this isn't the way to bring your niece justice!"

Cooper laughed as he looked down at Vin and Ezra,"Justice ordered him hung,Mister. Doesn't really matter from where the rope is strung as long as he dies! And what better place then where the crime occurred?"

Ezra squinted against the morning sun that had just rose over the horizon,"Is this how your niece would have wanted you to remember her? Would she have wanted you to spend the rest of your life in jail?"

"Vin,"JD called,"Please,stay out of this!"

Tanner shook his head,"No chance,kid. You're innocent and we have a witness to prove it."

+ + + + + + +

The sun had fully risen by the time the trio of peacekeepers paused on a hill about a mile from Coral Canyon.

"So what's the plan,Chris?"Buck asked trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder. The hard ride had done nothing to help the bullet wound.

"Let's go in through the back door,"Chris replied,"Cooper's already spooked...I don't want to give him an excuse to do anything stupid."

Buck nodded,"I just hope Vin and Ezra haven't been run out of town by now."

+ + + + + + +

JD couldn't believe what he was hearing.


His eyes drifted closed as memories came flooding back....

The fear on the teller's face as Murray's gang dragged him into the street....

The smirk on the robber's face as he took aim at him....

The sound of the small girl's body as it hit the ground......

The smoke coming from his gun....

JD's hazel eyes flew open as he fiercely shook his head. Vin had to be mistaken.

Facts didn't lie, neither did his eyes.

He knew what happened.