Familiar Faces

by Twyla Jane

Welcome to Moose Jaw
Population: 165

The disclaimer is and always will be I don't own 'em and never made a plug nickel off 'em.

Wish I did.

This story is set in the modern day Moose Jaw AU- a slightly warped version of Time Trax and this is a crossover with Brisco County Jr.

A special thanks goes to Setcheti for planting the idea in my head, again for her and Dragon Elf's assist with the Japanese and to Kathy for the helpful info on Montana. 3/27/01

A shaking Standish gripped the gun with his wet and frigid fingers, jabbing the weapon under the young man's chin. Slowly stepping backwards, while trying to maintain a firm hold on the young deputy. Violent shivers coursed through his body. Hypothermia had already begun to set in. If he had had a chance to think about it he would have wondered how the day had gone so incredibly bad. Unfortunately Ezra's mind-set was devoted to the situation at hand. Someone else might have thought it odd that a small town sheriff and a recluse would be in a stand off with him of all people. He was definitely out of his element. Hell he didn't want to harm the young man Dunne had been nothing but kind during his incarceration. The two other men in the room he wasn't sure about, sure Wilmington seemed easy going enough. Well that was before he put a gun to JD's head. Larabee, he was certain, was the man to watch out for. Anger emanated off the hardened man as Chris glared down the sight of a rifle at him. To think all of this had started three days earlier as a favor for a friend. Ezra let out a ragged breath, trying to ignore that it was cold enough to see, made another step back on numb feet.

The heavy snow fell down in sheets, as the four men stood off the side of the Main Street for almost ten minutes involved in the standoff. Standish heard a gun cock next to him ear but never heard the gun bearer approach. A cautious glance towards had him gazing farther upward at a big angry looking black man with long tight cornrows. He was easily over six foot six inches tall and toting a sawed off shotgun his deep voice snarling out.

"Going somewhere little man?"

The only response Ezra could muster with his vision beginning to dim was a softly muttered. "Aw Hell..." weakly releasing his hold on Dunne before his body betrayed him by collapsing into the drifting snow. Next thing he knew was that rough hands were pulling him up and was slung like a sack of potatoes over a massive shoulder. Somewhere nearby Wilmington was talking to the young deputy.

"You okay?"

"Yeah... Buck, the gun wasn't loaded..."

"I know Kid..."

The sheriff voice was muffled and faraway.

The last thing his conscious mind heard was Larabee's words. "Wouldn't do it the easy way...had to do it the hard way..."

Three days earlier on the outskirts of Moose Jaw, Montana a lone vehicle sputtered to a stop leaving the petite blonde driver cursing the infernal car. She could see the steam billowing from under the hood. There wasn't much else she could do but start walking at least she was prepared for the frigid weather dressed in a heavy sheepskin coat jeans and warm hiking boots. Dixie Cousins flipped the emergency flashers on and checked the thirty-eight holstered in her handbag before stepping out of the rapidly cooling interior of the car. Wishing she had let her old friend Buck Wilmington, who was the law in Moose Jaw know she was coming. The last time she had seen the handsome sheriff was almost a lifetime ago, it had been ten years, back when she had worked in Vegas as a matinee singer. Briefly smiling at the memory as she started to trudge along the shoulder towards the small town, her thoughts quickly turned grim not having forgotten the reason for coming there.

The airport was almost empty when Ezra Standish stepped off the plane. A frantic cell call in the middle of the night had him on the first plane to Billings, Montana.

Breathing in stale air as he entered the arrivals concourse and stopped at the luggage carousel to retrieve his one bag before headed Rental desk to pick up the keys to his rental car and a map with directions to Moose Jaw, repayment of a favor sent Ezra driving out in the middle of winter towards a small town located in northwestern Montana.

A million dollars was on the line for the bond company but it was just another day for Tanner, he had met up with bail bondsman Roddy Taylor. Dixie Cousins had skipped out on the bail and Roddy wanted him to track down her down. Vin studied at the picture provided to him, she certainly didn't look like a murderer but he knew all too well that looks were deceiving. Silently wondering why someone would flee to Montana in the middle of winter. Didn't matter really thought Vin as he took another sip of coffee he was going to bring her back to Dallas.

"Hey Case..."

Dunne smiled shyly at the Lonigan's Grill's sole waitress as he walked in stomping the snow off his boots.

"Mornin' JD want yer usual?"

"Yep... Where's Mizz Nettie?" He asked as he shrugged out of his heavy uniform jacket.

"In back prepping for lunch... same as always."

The young woman's remark caused Deputy Dunne to blush. Try as he might he hadn't worked up the nerve to ask Casey Wells out on a date. They had had the same awkward conversation every morning for the past two weeks. Casey giggled as she disappeared behind the counter to make up the order.

An old faded red Ford pick up truck slowed down eventually stopping in front of the solitary figure walking along the road. Chris Larabee rolled down his window watching in his side view mirror as the woman approached. Headed into town to pick up supplies before the forecasted storm moved in he was surprised to see a car pulled off the shoulder on this stretch of road. That had been a mile back and Chris had been watching out for the driver of the abandoned vehicle. A person wouldn't last long out here in the dead of winter.

"You alright?"

"My car broke down..." Dixie smiled the best she could. Her face was growing numb from the cold.

"I can give you a lift into Moose Jaw..." Chris offered. The young woman studied him for a moment before answering.

"That would be great... Mr.?"

"Chris Larabee and it's no trouble I'm headed that way..." The woman walked around the front of the truck while Chris rolled the window. The pretty blond smiled as she climbed up into the truck's cab and stuck out her hand, which Larabee automatically shook.

"Name's Dixie."

"Okay Dixie... why don't you grab the blanket behind your seat." He said as he turned up the heat and waited as she settled herself in before pulling the truck back onto the road.

Wrapped up in the warm blankets and the comforting embrace of a lovely woman, Buck did his damnedest to ignore the early morning light filtered that into the bedroom but the shrill sound of the alarm clock couldn't be ignored so he roughly rubbed a hand over his mustached face as he sat up and hit the snooze button. Grinning as he glanced back at Suzanne Jenkins as she slept he patted her on her blanketed bottom, kissing her lightly on the lips before he slid off the bed clad only in boxers and shuffled barefoot across the floor heading towards the shower starting off another day.

Wiping the remnants of toast from his mouth JD shifted his walkie-talkie off the table and clipped it back onto his belt as he stood up giving a short wave to Josiah Sanchez as he walked into Lonigan's. The big man slid into the booth across from the young deputy as JD placed seven dollars under his empty plate.

"Well son?" The straightforward question caused the young man to flush healthy shade of red. Josiah's deep rumbling laughter filled the small diner.

"Buck's got a big mouth..." JD said under his breath not making eye contact with the proprietor of the Bar None ruing this aspect of small town life.

"A body would have to be blind not to notice your feeling towards Miss Casey." The older man smiled trying to ease the younger man's discomfort.

"Everybody knows?"

There wasn't the opportunity for Josiah to answer. Casey was headed their way with a fresh cup of coffee so he just nodded. The embarrassed Dunne shrugged his coat on and left almost bumping into Dr. Jackson as he stumbled out the door. Quickly apologizing JD headed for the safety of his cruiser.

"What's with him?" Nate chuckled as joined Josiah.

"Hasn't figured out how to ask me out yet?"

Casey deadpanned as she went to fetch another cup of hot coffee and while she was at she threw more bacon on the grill for Mr. Sanchez's breakfast. Thinking to herself, she knew that these folks showed up regular like clockwork and their orders almost never varied after a year waiting tables she could tell with a discerning eye and a good memory when that would be. Just like in a half hour the sheriff would be in to eat like he was every morning. Now if she could figure out JD, maybe she should just ask him out.

Somewhere in the streets of Billings, Ezra had parallel parked and was consulting his directions again. He wasn't lost. Just a bit bewildered as he sat in his rental car in front of a building, the address was correct but the agreed upon meeting place wasn't there. From the looks of the brick façade, this particular establish had been here for some time. He pulled out his cell phone, placed a call only to be forced to leave a message in the numbers voice mail.

"What the hell is going on?" He muttered to himself as he carefully folded the directions before pocketing them.

The final boarding call was announced as Vin Tanner strode through the airport scanners at the entry to the departure area. He grabbed his carry on off the security check's conveyer belt and got on line to board the small commuter jet that would take him to Butte, Montana. Days like these made him wonder why he still was involved in the cat and mouse game. He knew there were easier ways to make a living just none seemed as interesting and sure as hell they weren't as profitable.

Larabee's pick-up pulled up in front of Lonigan's.

"There's a phone inside..." His words fell on deaf ears because Dixie had caught sight of the sheriff and was out of the cab heading inside just as Chris opened his mouth. Shaking his head as he watched Buck get up and envelope the little blond in a big hug as he followed her into the grill.

"Dixie darlin' whatcha doing here?"

"Can't a girl look up an old friend when she's in town..."

"Take it you two know one another." Larabee's dry statement caused the pair to turn around.

"Hell yeah... Dix here used to work with my mama..." Buck smiled down at Dixie. "Lordy woman it's good to see ya."

Sitting within the idling cruiser parked just off the main thoroughfare, Deputy Dunne silently berated his own inability to ask Miss Casey Wells out for a simple cup a coffee.

Why was it so hard?

Now it seemed that everyone in town knew his intentions. These thoughts were running through his mind when he noticed something unusual approaching him. A procession of a half dozen black vans with tinted windows passed his position. He decided to call the strange sight in. JD pulled back onto the road and began following the unusual convoy from a reasonable distance.

Standing off to the side Chris Larabee looked on for a moment, as the apparently old friends hugged before he headed back out the door to pick up his needed supplies at the Potter's market. Buck noticed Chris' sudden departure but said nothing as he release Dixie from his embrace.

"What brings you out this way?"

The gregarious sheriff pulled out a chair for the petit woman at his table, which she gracefully occupied.

"Can't I come see an old friend?"

Miss Cousins purred the words "Dix..."

Smiling broadly as he said her name Buck's tone implied that wasn't the whole truth.

"The touring has been hell... I just needed some time off to relax..."

Her words rushed out. To Buck she did look tired and he knew how rough and exhausting the shows were for his own mother but he figured there was something more going on.

"And to hide out?"

The look she gave him confirmed his suspicions. Dixie didn't get a chance to respond.

"Buck." The name crackled out from the radio disrupting the unexpected reunion. "Hey Buck..."

"Duty calls..." Smiling Buck strode towards the front of the diner answering his deputy's call. "Yeah JD go ahead..."

"I'm just off the north end of route 40, there's something strange going on..."

The static slightly distorted Dunne's response.

"Mind telling me what?"

By that time Wilmington was pulling on his jacket slightly tense.

"A bunch of vans just drove past me..."

"That's is a bit odd but it could be someone moving or heading to a trade show..."

Although JD was still young he was clever and dependable Buck trusted his instincts. The deputy wouldn't be reporting if he hadn't thought it important.

"Yeah I might believe that too if they all weren't black with tinted windows and hadn't just pulled into an abandoned homestead. "

"Where are you right now?"

"I just passed the old Peterson ranch... that's where they went."

"I'm going to stop off at dispatch just drive by... find a place you can keep an eye on this but don't do anything until I call ya back."

"Darling I'm sorry duty calls... I..."

"Go on Bucklin... I'm a big girl and can take care of myself..."

Dixie gave him a reassuring smile as he left the diner. She stared after him for a moment before puling a cellular phone from his purse and began listening to her messages.

After completing the second circuit around the old Peterson place JD pulled the patrol car to a halt on a road that ran behind the property giving him clear view of the dilapidated barn that sat fifty yards down the slope. As the strange convoy neared the barn a lone figure hopped out of the first vehicle and opening both of the doors before quickly climbed back inside the van as it rolled inside disappearing in a brilliant blue flash the permeated through the old building ill fitting siding. Less than sixty seconds ticked by as the five remaining black vans followed suit entering the barn one by one until they too had vanished.

Inside the grocer's Chris Larabee watching as sheriff's cruiser tore out of town wondering what had happened. Even though he and Buck hadn't spoke more than a few civil words in passing over the past year it didn't stop him worrying about the man. Their longtime friendship was almost in ruins. Cast there by tragedy and Chris didn't know where to begin to patch up things with Buck or if he even could. Being sober more often than not lately gave him plenty of time to think over past sins. Nothing could be done about it at the moment, he thought to himself plucking a few more canned goods off the shelf and headed towards the register. Gloria Potter was busily packing the rest of his order into cardboard boxes.

"Can I get you anything else Chris?"

"No Ma'am I think that ought to do it."

After handing the money to Gloria for the supplies, Chris grabbed one of the boxes and carried it out to his truck. Watching the woman, Dixie is what she called herself, talking on a cell phone just outside the front door of Lonigan's he thought was a bit odd as he carefully placed the box of goods in the truck bed.

The shrill ring filled the car's interior as Ezra pulled the little phone from his jacket pocket.


"Sugar there's been a change in plans..."

"Where are you now?"

"Moose Jaw... trouble followed me."

"What do you need me to do?"

"Come here quick as you can...you can fly into Butte then drive from there."

"Soon as I am able..."

Snapping the phone shut, Ezra threw it up on the dash and pulled out into traffic heading back to the airport.

The sheriff's cruiser pulled up and parked along side the Peterson barn. Wilmington got out of the car after eyeing his young deputy.

"I thought I told you to stay put...where did the vans go?"

"They drove in... and disappeared...What's going on Buck?" JD's stood staring into the barn's interior trying to figure out just what he had seen. Buck took a few steps getting a closer look inside. Sure enough the tire tracks went into the old building but ended after a few feet into the dirt floor and stopped. Nothing else seemed to be disturbed. The barn was in the same rundown condition it had been for years.

"I wish the hell I knew."

"Ma'am would you like another cup of coffee?"

The young woman seemed to appear from nowhere startling poor Dixie. The woman bumped into the Casey and the coffee pot shattered on the floor sending Miss Cousins into rambling apology.

"I'm so sorry... please let me help..." The distracted blonde was kneeling on the diner's floor helping pick up the large glass shards.

"It's okay Ma'am..."

"Please everybody calls me Dixie... Ma'am is what folks call my momma..."

"Okay Dixie... I'm gonna get the dust pan...just don't cut yourself..."

Before they left the Peterson farm, JD related the bizarre sight he had seen to Buck. Although the entire incident was strange and disconcerting there was nothing Buck could do about except have JD record the particulars of the event in the dispatch log. It was well past noon when they returned to Lonigan's having first stopped by the small sheriff's office to write up the unusual report. The pair arrived together, Buck trailed JD inside the homey establishment, where he was a little surprised and greatly relieved that his old friend Dixie was still there. The Diner was almost empty the lunchtime crowd having come and gone, Miss Nettie and Casey were sitting at a table near the kitchen comfortably chatting with the longtime Vegas singer.

"Should I be worried?"

"Of course Buck darling, I'm getting all the local dirt...."

"Miss Nettie what have you been telling her?"

The older woman laughed at Buck's question while filling two cups with the coffee pot sitting on the edge of the table before sliding them over to the boys. The day continued to be both strange and amusing as favorite memories were shared over several cups of cooling coffee among old and new friends.

"Damn it..." An exasperated Larabee kicked the front bumper of his old truck. The timing belt went just as he was leaving town, he hadn't even got past the town's sole stop sign before the truck started clattering loudly and quickly wound down to a dead halt. Chris grabbed the keys out of the ignition and slammed the door shut. He was cursing the two entire blocks he walked to get to Yosemite's service station. The burly man was sitting behind the cash register thumbing through a three day old newspaper.

"Hey Mr. Larabee that old truck of giving you trouble again?"

"Yes it is..."

"Can't tow it in right now Len was the tow truck he went out to get that lady's rental car."

If Yosemite had thought to give the man a hard time about maintaining his vehicle he realized now wasn't the time to point it out. Last month he had pulled the same truck out of a ditch on Larabee's property when the brakes failed. Sometimes it was wiser not to talk.


"Even if he could... doubt if I could get any parts in today...tomorrow would be the earliest..."


Larabee was thankful that he had only purchased dry and canned goods so he did have to worry about anything going bad. The rest would be okay inside the garage overnight. He began to curse his bad luck knowing there was no way he would be able to get back to his place until his truck was fixed. He was still muttering obscenities under his breath when he stepped back inside Gloria Potter's store.

"Chris I thought you headed out already?"

"The truck died... you still have rooms available upstairs?"

"Just the one is the back, that nice young Miss Cousins will be boarding in the front room for the night."

"That's fine ma'am... I'll be back later after I get a bite to eat."

Five heads turned when Larabee entered Lonigan's for the second time that day.

"Chris what can I get you?"

Nettie asked as she watched Chris slide into a booth in the front of the small diner.

"Bowl of chili and a coffee for now..."

"Coming right up."

The gray haired woman shuffled back into the small kitchen. The animated conversation that had been going on at the crowded table in the back had stopped dead upon his arrival. Buck eyed him for a long moment before turning his attention back to his companions.

"You know him?"

Dixie asked as she delicately sipped at the fresh brew.

"I thought I did... that was a life time ago..."

"There's got a story to go along with that?"

"Look Dix I don't want to talk about it, 'sides JD and I have to make sure that the town is still secure..." Dixie gave him a strange look. "We left Boonie in charge of the station... my other deputy is a bit overzealous."

"Ain't the half of it... he gave Old man Markham a ticket for jay walking..."

JD added as he slid away from the table.

"Old Gus Markham is ninety, half blind and a tad senile..." Buck quickly explained to his old friend.

"Oh..." The young woman smiled as if that clarified the matter.

"I'll be off duty in a few hours darling and then maybe you can me why you're really here."

"Buck I already told you..." The pretty blond flushed at the implication.

"I'll see you later..."

"Bye Dixie it was nice to meet ya...ow."

The sly comment earned JD a slap in the back of his head as the pair headed out of the diner. Dixie stared after them for a moment before she settled her gaze on Chris who was quietly eating his meal and wondered just what Buck's comment was really about. It didn't really matter She didn't plan on staying long enough to find out.

The petit blond paid her bill and left her thoughts of Chris Larabee behind in the diner as she made her way to the upstairs room over Mrs. Potter's store. Fervently hoping she could stay out of sight. Because try as she might earlier she could get a straight answer from Buck or his young friend JD about what had happened out at the Peterson's place. That strange happening indicated trouble was coming for Dixie Cousins.

The Bar None owned and operated by Josiah Sanchez housed one full sized pool table and in a far corner housed a regulation dartboard stolen from a pub in Mildenhall a small town in North East England, one of the few souvenirs of his travels abroad. There was amateur dart tournament between the locals almost every Thursday night filling the establishment to its capacity. Making it seem like half the population of Moose Jaw showed up for the event. The Bar None had one full time employee the very capable Inez Receillos, with the seldom-used title of bar maid. Josiah Sanchez a former missionary was the unlikely owner who tended bar and lent an ear patiently listening to his customers' troubles. Inez's presence fit well into the laid back atmosphere easily dealing with the boisterous crowd with a wink and a wicked smile.

Leaning up against the bar Buck slapped a twenty down a shouted out his drink order to the big man. Josiah just nodded as he refilled another beer off the tap, and slid it across to Inez she quickly snatched it up with even turning around before trotting off to the far side of the room. Wilmington didn't know how the pair managed to communicate so well with out saying a word. Buck gave up trying to figure that out a long time ago instead he just smiled and went back his table to sit with Dixie, JD and Casey. The young woman had come along at Dixie's insistence. Even she had figured out that JD had it bad for Casey and thought she could match them up. For the first time since her arrival in town the petit blond looked relaxed as she chatted with the two young people in Buck's absence.

With the Dart tournament in full swing, everyone turned to see who was coming in when the door opened no one in town ever came in the middle of the match it just wasn't done. Deputy Boone stepped through the door a well-tanned man with long brown hair trailed behind him and headed straight for the sheriff's table a hush came across the room. Dixie paled slightly as the two men reached the table.

"Ma'am step away from the table and lace your fingers behind your neck...." Boone stepped in behind her snapping the handcuffs around one wrist before tugging it behind her back to linked with the other. "Ms. Dixie Cousins I have a warrant for your arrest for the connection to a homicide in the state of Texas...."

+ + + + + + +

An hour had passed since the deputy had led the pretty blond away. The attendees of the Bar None's weekly dart tournament had dispersed shortly after the woman was taken into custody. Vin Tanner walked out into the frigid night air away from the small sheriff's office it was almost ten and he was exhausted from the long trip. At least catching his bounty had gone smoothly, even if it wasn't exactly how he had expected to find the woman having drinks with the local law. Sheriff Wilmington wasn't at all pleased Miss Cousins was now residing in one of the two jail cells but since the all the paperwork had checked out there was little he could do. Tanner had left the perplexed man following the directions to the only room available in town. He tapped lightly on the side door and was greeted by Mrs. Potter. She smiled graciously as she let him in.

Vin had reached the top of the landing feeling like he was being watched turned and smirked a bit as he gazed at the slightly open door before entering his room for some needed sleep.

Within the darkened room, a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, Larabee watched the scruffy individual come in. He thought at first he had managed to do it unobserved but was mildly amused that the longhaired man had not only noticed his presence but found it humorous as well.

"What happened Dix?"

Buck was troubled by the charges against his friend. He leaned his head into the heavy bars that spanned the cell watching the conflicting emotions cross her delicate features. She hesitated for a moment before she finally spoke.

"Doesn't matter. Even if I tried you would have a hard time believing my explanation."

"So try me..."

He asked as he met her eyes. Buck was to understand what had gone wrong. Since being taking into custody she made no attempt to profess her innocence.

"I just can't..."

Her gaze faltered and dropped. Buck thought he knew his friend apparently that wasn't true. Looking at her for a long moment before he feeling disheartened finally left her behind and went home to a warm bed.

Morning came too quickly Vin Tanner would have been scheduled to escort Ms. Cousins back to Texas if she had committed a lesser crime but since the charge was murder he would have to fill out the necessary paperwork and leave her return to the local law enforcement. He had arrived in the sheriff's office just as the shifts were changing. The bounty hunter got he first good look at Boone in the day light and the aging redheaded deputy looked more uptight than he had the night before. The man was flushed red as he stammered unintelligibly to Wilmington only seconds after he went to check on the jail's only charge.

"Sheriff she ain't there..."

Tanner followed the pair as they raced to jail cell to find it wasn't empty. It merely no longer held Ms. Cousins within its confines instead a well dressed man occupied the cell's only cot as he idly shuffled a deck of cards. Noticing their arrival the stranger graced them with a dimpled grin and sparkling green eyes.


Nimble hands fanned out the cards, retracting them a second later to fluidly shuffle them in a seamless move as his stunned audience watched.

"Who the hell are you?"

That smile broadened revealing a gold tooth as the stranger raised an eyebrow but didn't respond to the question instead he settled back on an elbow watching the men before him.

The keys jingled in Deputy Boone's hands as he went to unlock the jail cell door. A brilliant burst of intense light lit up the room followed by a rumbling groan that vibrated the glass windows and shook the floors.

The entire incident lasted for thirty seconds.

Chris Larabee was crossing the street headed towards Lonigan's when the street around him flashed white disorienting him briefly as he tried to regain his bearings the cement sidewalk beneath his feet pulsated wildly causing him to stumble down to his hands and knees. The disoriented man waited for event to pass and when it did he found himself lying in the path of a large black van with tinted windows.

The concussion shook the buildings in the small town as Nathan Jackson stood outside in the cold morning air opening up his office located down the street from the sheriff's when the sudden burst of light temporarily blinded him. Leaving him completely disconcert and tightly gripping the door in front of him. Blinking rapidly trying to get his vision cleared Nathan had turned around to find the source of the bright light. The haze had cleared in time to see a glossy black van sped towards the hunched over form of Chris Larabee. The scene sent Jackson lurching down the sidewalk to help propelling himself forward with the horrifying realization setting in that he would not be able to reach the fallen man in time. He was stunned to see a man clad in a light tan colored coat bolt out from behind a car and pull Chris back. The van missed the pair by the barest of margins as it roared into town others following closely behind. Six in all broke formation and headed in various directions inside the town. One skidded to a halt in front of the sheriff's office, the vehicle's doors flew open and its heavily armed occupants rushed the building.

Inside the sheriff's department Wilmington and Boone were under siege from the moment they had left the cellblock trying to dodge the hail of bullets that flew over their heads while returning fire. Effectively trapped behind a row of file cabinets Buck caught sight of one gap toothed individual pulling out an unusual looking weapon before taking aim. Boone had unfortunately taken cover behind ducking behind the heavy oak desk was the intruder's target as the deputy charged towards the sheriff. A ball of light discharged from the strange weapon and caught Boone in the back propelling him into Wilmington. The abrupt collision of bodies sent Buck's head careening off the cabinets sending the lawman into oblivion as the redheaded deputy vaporized before his eyes.

"Boys I got 'em... I got 'em."

"Shut up Phil, Mr. Bly is gonna be pissed at you... how the hell can they tell us where Dixie Cousins is iffen theys dead... stupid idjiot."

"Sorry Gil..." Phil Swill hung his head in shame as his other brother Bill checked on Wilmington. The sheriff was unconscious and clearly unable to answer any questions at the moment. Brother Will went into the back to see if Miss Cousins was there. There was only one person back there and the man stared at him.

"Ah kind sir could you find it in your heart to effect my emancipation?"

The gruff looking man forehead wrinkled in confusion.

"You see a lady in here?"

"Other than the local law and yourself I haven't seen a soul..." Ezra Standish calmly answered successfully pushing back the alarm he felt as Phil and Bill carried in the limp body of the sheriff past their brother roughly dropping him onto a cot and locking within the adjacent cell. The odd-looking trio leaving Standish with unconscious lawman closed the door the led out onto the station floor behind them.

"The miscreants have departed...Mr.?"

A soft thud behind him caused Ezra to peer over his shoulder as Vin Tanner climbed out from his hiding place under the cot.

"Vin Tanner..."

"Standish...Ezra P. at your service...and now?"

The suave man waved a hand in Buck's direction. The odds were obviously not in their favor.

"We wait...."

Only running a few yards from his office Jackson was stopped mid-stride by a mountain of a man. Big Smith's blow had the doctor off his feet and flat on his ass a single jab to the chest. Nate's breath was stolen away as the air rushed from his lungs leaving him gasping like a fish out of water. He lay there on the icy ground painfully wheezing as he tried to draw unsteady breath in. Blinking rapidly as he awkwardly gazed upward at his attacker. Smith's mammoth hands reached down and hauled Jackson back on to unsteady legs, silently dragging the man across the street.

The strange of occurrence with the lights and the sudden arrival of the vans would have had JD Dunne calling into Buck but the young deputy was having troubles of his own. His morning meal was disrupted as four well-armed individuals stormed the diner before dark haired youth had managed to climb to his feet a shotgun was waved in his face. Nettie Wells had stepped in front of her niece fully intending to protect her as she saw fit. Outnumbered and outgunned Dunne had little choice but surrender. JD stood with hands held high as he endured the humiliation of having his service weapon taken from him taking one last look at Ms Wells and Casey before being roughly shoved out of Lonigan's as he was forcibly escorted towards the sheriff's department.

A hand gripped over his face held Larabee's mouth tightly shut during the takeover of the small town, unable to move as the gunfire began because two men held him in place in a cramped space between closely parked cars, forced to watch helplessly as several buildings were seized and as Dunne was shoved along the sidewalk in front of them. A wild glance to the right gave him a glimpse as the small town's doctor was dragged through the doors of the diner. Only after the gunmen had passed by did the men that held him speak in tense whispers. The huge African American man with the long tight cornrows leaned in closer and spoke.

"Gonna be quiet?"

Larabee glared at him and nodded slowly. When the hand was removed he hissed out. "Who are you and what the hell is going on?" The hands that held him in place loosened their grip but maintained their hold on him. The bewildered man took the opportunity to finally get a look at his rescuer. The dark eyed, dark haired man that he was being held by looked very familiar to Chris.

"Brisco County Jr.?"

"You know me?"

"I know of you... and your father..."

"This ain't exactly the time for a reunion Brisco..."

The gruff voice that interrupted their discussion was so close to his ear the warm breath that it caused Chris to turn his head and look at the large black man crouched close to him.

"You're right Bowler...but where do we go from here?"

"Get off and I'll show ya..."

County and Bowler released their hold allowing the blond man to lead them away.

The groaning of the tavern's support timbers woke Josiah Sanchez from a deep sleep in time to see the flash over. The stunned man fell back onto his bed until the disorienting feeling that overcome him had left. An idle glance into the street below revealed nothing leaving him determined to find out just what had happened. Quickly throwing on a sweater, jeans and footwear he jogged out of the studio apartment located over the Bar None down to where armed gunmen met him at the foot of the stairs. Josiah stopped and showed his empty hands to his captors. The big bar owner was motioned towards the business portion of the building. As he entered the bar he saw a thin pale man sitting at a table in the middle of the room carefully plucking off a pair of fine leather gloves never broke contact his Sanchez's eyes as he spoke.

"Barkeep, bring me a bottle of whisky."

"I want you tell me a story about a young woman named Dixie Cousins." JD twisted around to see who had asked the question. A gaunt blond with light green eyes stared at him as the young man was pushed down into a seat inside the sheriff's office. He caught sight of the scorch marks on the filing cabinets the growing feeling of fear turn to worry as he wondered what exactly had happened to Buck. He would only shrug at the man's questions. An unexpected blow snapped his head back blood began pouring unimpeded from his nose dripping from his mouth and down his chin. Even with his ears ringing Dunne could hear another voice.

"Gil... don't hit 'im so hard... if ya keep it up he'll be as useful as that sheriff..." JD slid further down in the chair as the man called Gil stalked off as he snarled at his inept kin.

"Throw the deputy in a cell..."

The door slammed opened neither man that hauled Dunne in noticed Tanner slip back under bed they were preoccupied by Ezra's antics. The man was expertly flipping cards into the sink the hung on the wall six feet from where the man lay. During the time Swill brothers had spent securing Dunne in the next cell he had tossed ten cards each successfully fluttered into the stainless steel basin. Phil stood slack jawed as he leaned against the bars in awe.

"Phil..." Bill called out to his mesmerized brother. "Phil come 'fore Gil gets pissed..." The pair left and the lock clicked firmly in place behind them.

"I thought they'd never leave..."

The young deputy startled at the softly drawled voice and staggered over to the bars that separated the two cells as Vin Tanner slid out from under the bed. The young man had recognized him from the night before.

"You okay kid?"

The dark mop of hair slowly bobbed up and down as Dunne leaned heavily into the bars.

"Thank God... young man could you check on your compatriot?" Dunne hadn't even stopped to think where the green-eyed man had come from before teetered across the smooth and sunk down on the bed next to Buck.

Dodging in between cars with Larabee in the lead County and Bowler followed as closely as they dared and still manage to stay out of sight of the vicious band of men that had invaded the small town. They darted down the two blocks it took to reach Yosemite's Service Station and slip inside the warm office. Papers were strewn across the floor. Chris had the uneasy feeling that the man had already been taken by force.

"Mind explaining what's going on?"

Larabee whispered as he watched the gunmen walking from building to building dragging bewildered citizens out onto the street. Brisco stood out of sight next to the storefront window Bowler had taken up a position on the opposite side.

"It's a long story..."

Letting out a pent up sigh as he spoke, Brisco had come to far to fail now and quick glance at Chris cut his oration short.

"See if ya can sum it up..."

The terse response from Larabee got a loud snort out of Bowler as the big man shook his head. That didn't seem possible for his long-winded friend.



The voice pulled Dunne from his stupor. The young man had been checking the wound on the back of Wilmington's head holding steady pressure on it when he briefly zoned out. The harsh whisper pulled him back to reality. JD shifted his gaze up to the longhaired Texan crouched by the bars.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

Tanner held out a damp bandana that Dunne took with his free hand and gingerly wiped the blood from his face.

"Thanks... "

"Vin Tanner... from the bar... last night."

"Oh yeah... who's he?"

Dunne looked at Standish's back, as the man stood precariously atop the bed trying to see out the barricaded window.

"That there is Ezra P. Standish..."

"Gentlemen let us not inadvertently advertise Mr. Tanner's presence to our captors."

Standish gracefully hoped down and took a position by the cell door.

"They ain't in the building right now...."

After securing their prisoners the Swill brothers had left to join the rest of the men in the sweep of the town. The outer room had been silent for the last ten minutes.

"Ah know..."

Shaking his head as he caught the mischievous glint in the southerner's eyes.

"Deputy how is your superior faring?"

"Uh..." JD took a couple seconds to check Buck again before answering. "He's breathing okay and his pupils are normal so I don't think he has a concussion. The gash in his head has stopped bleeding..." The young man shoulders slumped down a little as he abruptly stopped. "Casey..."

"Don't... we'll find a way outta of this."

"How can we? We locked in here..."

"Young man don't believe everything you see ..."

A light push from his fingertips and the cell door opened.

"How the hell did you manage to do that?"

"Never was locked..."

"But ..."

Gently pulling the door shut before turning to face his companions with a wry smile on his face.

"The timing of such a revelation would have been fool hearty..."

"We can leave..."

"I suggest that we bide our time here for the time being our sudden absence would not go unnoticed..."

"But they don't know Vin is here?"

"Precisely..." JD watched in amazement as Ezra removed two well-hidden weapons and a small cellular phone that had been secreted away on his person, deftly handing Tanner the revolver and the phone before slipping a tazer through the bars to the deputy. "Mr. Tanner... I suggest that you take this unexpected opportunity and depart."

Hesitating briefly as his gaze drifted between Ezra, JD and the oblivious Buck. He tucked the phone inside his jacket with one hand and firmly gripped the pistol in the other as he stole one last look at the men before silently slipping out the door.

"Do you play poker Ezra?"

"Why yes I do Mr. Dunne..."

"Name's JD..."

"Shall we play a hand or two? To pass the time?"

The slick southerner was trying to distract the younger man if just for a short time. JD nodded and Ezra carefully slid his cot closer and after a quick shuffle dealt the cards.

So far in their search Bly's men had failed to produce Ms. Cousins, but the people they did come across were either brought to Lonigan's or the Moose Jaw's town meeting hall. Close to twenty people were held within the confines of the diner, Nate Jackson watched mutely as Inez Receillos was dragged over and shoved into a seat across the table from him. He reached over and gave her hand a comforting squeeze as he saw a lone tear streak down her cheek. So far the only thing Nate knew for sure was that these men were looking for the woman taking into custody by Deputy Boone last night. The room around him was eerily quiet for the most part, there was the occasional brief conversation between the gunmen.

How could the day have gone so incredibly wrong and so quickly? Jackson wondered silently. He had thought he had left events like these when he moved from Illinois to Montana, leaving a large Chicago hospital emergency room after five mind numbing back breaking years to take over the small practice in Moose Jaw ten months earlier when Doc Martin had finally retired at the ripe old age of seventy-five and moved to Florida with his wife. A disillusioned Jackson had taken the job. Coming to work in the small town helped to remind him why he had gotten into medicine in the first place. Not that it mattered much at the moment as he sat held against his will with the other residents of Moose Jaw.

Staring passed a visibly frightened Gloria Potter as she huddled around a table with her two young children Nate watched as the first snowflakes fluttering down to the ground. A sudden movement across the street caught his attention. Incredibly a longhaired man has just darted from behind one car quickly taking cover under a pick-up truck as three gunmen passed by unaware of his presence.


Eyeing County intently Chris was confused as the man reached into his pocket and removed a platinum credit card setting on the table.

"Soc holograph mode..."

"As you wish Captain..."

The flickering image of a small red-haired man with glasses projected before them.

"Man no matter how many times I see that... that still gives me the willies..."

The big man backed away from the holographic image.

"Would you give...?" Brisco looked at Larabee who muttered his name. "Chris Larabee... a run down of our current situation."

Unlike the rest of the unsavory characters that had invaded the small town Brett Bones had all the outward appearances of a well-educated gentleman. His sudden appearance in the Bar None drew Josiah's attention away from preparing coffee behind the bar.

"Mr. Bly... LaCutte's boys found her... two miles outside of town they are bringing her in."

Bones brought the news to the unsavory groups leader.

"Good have them bring Ms. Cousins and the device to me."

With an evil glint in his eye Bly clasped his hands around the empty shot glass on the table. The suave gentleman shifted from foot to the other before relieving the rest.

"Boss she didn't have it..." A clenched fist slammed down rattling the small glass and Bones jerked back at the noise. John Bly was the only man that could unnerve him openly.

Sanchez stood back behind the bar under the watchful eye of Pete Hutter, calmly observing the tense conversation wondering just what this Ms. Cousins was supposed to have.

A low grunt was followed by a moan as Wilmington drifted towards consciousness. A throbbing pain in his head and bewildering recollections had his mind spinning as he tried to decide whether or not it was a good idea to open his eyes.


A familiar voice beckoned him. He wanted to answer but the words came out an incoherent groan. Another voice with an easy southern drawl spoke near by. "Is the sheriff rejoining the waking world?"

"I think so..."

Dark lashes fluttered open revealing dazed blue eyes as Buck stared up as the blurry form of his young deputy leaned over him.

"Kid..." The words were quietly breathed out.

"Yeah... you okay?" Dunne asked as he helped Wilmington sit up. The man leaned forward with his aching head resting in his hands.

"What the hell happened?"

For the first time noticing that he was locked inside his own jail.

"A rogue band of reprobates have taken over the town..." The easy voice behind him answered. Buck slowly pivoted around his head would not tolerate any fast movements and stared at the green-eyed man in the next cell.

"Who are you?"

"Does it matter?"

"You always answer a question with a question?" Buck muttered softly the sound of his own voice made his head throb. "A simple response would be nice."

"I suppose it would but my dear man it appears that we are little short on time so may I suggest since you have returned to the waking world we depart our current lodgings..."

Hate this

Tanner was starting to cramp up underneath the truck and the cold asphalt leeched away the little warmth he had as he waited for the men to pass. The snowflakes fell coating the world around him in a fine powdery layer of white. Vin counted ten seconds down then twenty before he slipped out and crawled away using the cars for as he moved down the street. Only one person took notice of his flight.

From his seat Nathan let out a sigh of relief as he watched the man move away unseen by the men who now controlled the town. If there was one person remained free there was hope.

"Captain... there is an individual rapidly approaching our current location." The hologram interrupted its explanation of Brisco's presence in Moose Jaw.

The cold air burning his lungs Vin sprinted down the street fearing any second he would be captured he moved towards the nearby service station. He had barely cleared the doorway when he was grabbed . A meaty fist slammed into his face. Momentarily stunned Tanner's knees let go and he slid towards the floor only to be roughly manhandled to an upright position. A calloused hand clamped over his mouth as he struggled futilely against the two men that held him. Vin stopped his frantic movements the moment he saw the lean blond step into view.

"Let the man loose he's on our side..."

The Texan was immediately released and the man ruefully rubbed his sore jaw.

"Damn Cowboy... hell of a way to greet a fella."

"And I suggest that we leave post haste."

"How do propose we do that?"

A wave of dizziness washed over Buck and he leaned farther over to ease the nauseating sensation. He wasn't in the mood for games.

"His door's open Buck..."

"Then why didn't you leave?"

"Did not seem advisable at the time..."

During the conversation he was having with the ailing sheriff Ezra had slip out of his own cell and into the one holding the lawmen pulling a playing card out of his pocket and passed it over the lock. The tumblers audibly clicked and released. The southerner lightly tugged on the door and it swung open stepped inside. He reached out and with JD's help managed to get Buck to his feet.

"Shall we?"

"Think yer going somewhere?"

Will Swill stood in the doorway with a rifle pointed at them. At his side was his brother Bill.

Without a word Standish abruptly released his hold on Wilmington and stepped away taking a position in front of the lawmen getting the undivided attention of the armed men. The sudden shift of sheriff's weight caused Dunne to falter and stagger back while trying to steady Buck against the wall. He heard a quiet snap and saw the small weapon drop into Ezra's hand just as the man was beginning to slowly raise them. Two successive flashes lit up the room and the Swill brothers were gone. Leaving Standish free to help Wilmington again.

"What did you do?" Still unsteady on his feet Buck asked as he jerked out of the grip and stared at Standish unsure where exactly the man's loyalties lay and left him wondering why Dixie had disappeared. "And where's Dixie?"

"It's best that we leave such inquiries until later... we really must go..." Taking a firm grasp under the man's elbow Ezra looked straight into the pained blue eyes waiting for him to relent and after a tense moment he did.

Together they moved out of the cellblock. Reaching the outer office he made sure made sure the sheriff wasn't going to fall over before taking a few quick strides across the floor to glance out the blinds onto the snow covered street. The flakes were starting to come down in earnest now but that hadn't stopped Bly's gang from keeping a patrol moving through town. One of the gunmen stepped out to greet the occupants of the van that drove into town and escort one of its passengers, small person with long blond hair, into the Bar None. The remaining men were heading towards the sheriff's office.

"Gentlemen I don't believe we'll be leaving through the front door... is there another exit? Perhaps one that does not lead out to the main thoroughfare... Time is of the essence." Ezra spoke to Buck and JD without taking his eyes off the approaching miscreants.

"Captain it would be pertinent at this juncture to move farther within this structure well away from the window..."

Socrates' image crackled and hissed as he spoke drawing Tanner's attention to the hologram's presence. The scruffy Texan looked for a second before shrugging off its oddity and padded quietly into the back room with the other men following closely behind.


Larabee eyed County for a moment.

"Soc... maintain surveillance..." Brisco couldn't help but notice that the most recent arrival to their happy little group was staring at him.

"Yer Brisco County Jr."

A grin spread across Tanner's face as he recognized the man he was with.

"How is it that you two know me?" An irritated grunt from Bowler stopped any further questions. Brisco knew he was right, now wasn't the time. "I'm here in Moose Jaw to capture John Bly and his men... to send them back..."

"How come I ain't heard of these boys?" Vin had asked the question he was leaning against the wall in the small room, the smirk that had been on his face faded as he gazed at Brisco.

"Those boys ain't from around here." Bowler muttered as he shifted uncomfortably in his cramped corner. County shot him an exasperated look. "Well they ain't...and this ain't the time to hold out on folks either. You were about to tell Larabee...why not... " Bowler gestured towards the Texan who quietly supplied his name. "Vin Tanner."

Blackbeard LaCutte pushed the woman through the Bar None's front door. She had her gloved hands tightly bound in front of her as she stumbled into the bar tripping over the entry rug. The blond managed stop her awkward descent by grabbing onto a nearby chair. Mustering what dignity she could and glared at her 'host'.

"You fool this isn't Ms. Cousins..." Bly hissed out at his man and turned to the woman who stood before him. "Ma'am... do accept my apologies... the men tend to get a bit over zealous..."

"That is an understatement."

The woman jerked away from LaCutte's hand as he tried to usher her farther into the room.

"My my you are a lively one..." Bly clucked as he toed a chair out as an invitation for the pretty blond to join him. "Leave her to me LaCutte..."

The gruff man shoved the woman into the proffered seat and stalked back out into the snow.

"May I ask your name?"

"Mary Travis."

The man Hutter leaned against the bar with a gun trained on the graying bartender to ensure that the man made foolish moves, so Sanchez was forced to watch the scene unfold. Leaving him to wonder in silence where this woman had come from and how the rest of the town was faring. There was little else he could do at the moment but pay attention to what was going on and pray.

"There's a door that leads out of the back of the building..." JD grunted out as he struggled under Wilmington's weight as the big man leaned heavily on him for support. The mustached sheriff's strength was waning as the seconds ticked by.

"Then I suggest that you and your compatriot depart while I provide a proper distraction..."

Standish didn't see the young man's eyes widened at the implication of his words instead he was focused on the rapid approach of the arm gunmen. Without another word Ezra placed his hand on the knob quickly opened the door and slipped out into the wintry white air beyond. Leaving JD lugging Buck towards the back.

"Mother damn you... I was not made to endure such barbaric conditions." Standish muttered under his breath, waiting for the appropriate time to break from the shelter of the doorway. He was poorly outfitted for the clime, the clothing he had chosen would have been adequate under normal conditions it was not meant for long term exposure to the elements. The two remaining Swill brothers were only ten feet from him and closing while he let the weapon drop into his rapidly numbing fingers and snowflakes dusted his coat sleeves white. Ezra strained see through the heavy snow fall, he had inched forward slightly when a flash of light enveloped his entire field of vision and the black oblivion that followed swept his consciousness away as he slid down boneless onto the icy cement.

LaCutte stepped over the crumpled form of Ezra Standish charging into the building. The reception area was empty. Noticing the door to the cellblock was slightly ajar Blackbeard headed there. Slamming the door into the wall as he made his entry. The jail cells were open and not a soul was in sight. Heads would roll because Bly would be pissed and LaCutte didn't want his to be one of them so he set about searching the rest of the small building.

"Gil, is he dead?"

"No... you dumb lummox ... now gimme a hand here..."

The pair tried to lift up Standish but Phil slid in the growing blanket of snow dropping the southerner's legs. The weapon that been clutched in Ezra's hand fell free but not before it caught Gil Swill's attention. He let go of his end of the burden allowing Standish to flop down to the frozen sidewalk as his thickly gloved snaked through the wintry mix after the object.

"It's a P.P.T..."

The self-proclaimed smartest of the Swill brothers muttered to himself as his brother crouched down to see what exactly he had found.

"Huh? That's one of them P.P.T.s."

The befuddled Swill brother hadn't seen what Gil held even though the man rolled it carefully over in his hands until he leaned in closer to get a better look.


An irritated Gil huffed into his brother's face.


"Shut up..."

This startling find did not bode well for them. . He groped through the unconscious man's clothing awkwardly turning out pockets checking for other surprises. There were none just a handsome leather billfold and a deck of well-worn cards. Gil grimaced as he pocketed the small weapon along with the other items before he and Phil hefted up Standish lugging the man through the heavily falling snow down the street.

The wind had started to blow giving a bitter feel to the air the Swill brother staggered as they covered the last few steps to the entrance of Lonigan's. Jack Randolph swung the door open for them as they hauled the unresponsive southerner inside the diner dropping him on the tiled floor the moment they cleared the threshold. Nathan started to get up but was abruptly shoved back into his seat by one of the gunmen.

"I'm a Doctor let me check on him..." Jackson's words were cut short as a rifle butt struck him in the mid section. Reflex had him doubled over trying to catch his breath and gasping through clenched teeth at the sudden discomfort. He feebly held onto the table top wondering if would be sick or not as the bile rose to the back of his throat. Through a fog Nate could hear of the men speak.

"Best let the doc look at him..." He looked up and saw it was gaunt blond that brought the injured man in. Unable to follow the conversation going on around him, Nathan closed his eyes and did his best to quell his erratic gasps forcing himself to take in slow steady breaths of air. A moment later he was hauled up on shaking legs and dragged towards the damp chilled figure sprawled out on the floor. Shoved to his knees Nate hands trembled slightly as he checked along the cool neck for a pulse

The fear flittered through Nate as he lightly pressed against the man's neck and felt nothing. He re-adjusted his fingers and felt an extremely slow but steady heart rate, just under thirty beats a minute. Too slow and the man's skin was pale and to the doctor's practiced touch its temperature was colder than normal.

"He's going hypothermic, need to warm him up...." Jackson cast a cautious glance to his captors.

"Phil... toss the doc a few of the coats off the rack... "

The gap-toothed man complied and brought over several of the garments dropping them on the floor by Nathan who had already began to remove the damp outer layer of Standish's clothing.

"What did you do to him?" Nathan's question was met with a scowl. "I need to know if you want me to help him..."

"Just zapped him is all..." Phil Swill's answer earned the man a swat to the head by his brother.

"Shut up Phil..." Gil snapped back

"He asked..."

"Just shut up..."

Ignoring the bickering duo Nate rolled Ezra onto pile of jackets before finally removing the icy boots thankful at least the socks were dry as he covered the still form up with remaining coats. He was at a loss as what was wrong with the man he didn't have all the classic symptoms of exposure. Just a slow pulse and low body temp, which made Nate wonder just what they had 'zapped' him with. Mustering up his tattered composure he looked up at Gil Swill as the gaunt man spoke.

"Well Doc?"

"Well nothing he's unconscious and I don't know why. What exactly did you zap him with?" His question was met with silence. Nate turned his attention back to Standish, gently running a hand through the wet hair checking over the scalp for any obvious signs of injury. "Can you at least get me the diner's first aid kit?"

A scathing glare from his brother had Phil Swill abruptly scurrying into the back to search for the kit.

After a few kicks the window finally shattered. Another chill ran through JD's small frame as he crouched down to remove the remaining shards of broken glass. The drastic change in temperature had roused the big man from his growing stupor enough for Buck to keep watch as the younger man cleared the opening into basement. A tap on the shoulder alerted him that it was time to climb through the small window, it was a tight fight but after a shove from JD he slid feet first through into the Potter's cellar. JD scrambled down and immediately began searching in the dim light for something to cover the window. After a moment he found a plastic bag filled with poly-styrine peanuts and jammed that into place cutting off the harsh wind. Buck hadn't moved since they crawled in, he was still sitting propped up against the wall. The young man eyed him carefully before shuffling through the shelves that packed the storeroom. After a moment of careful searching he found what he wanted. As he tore the plastic packaging off two of the blankets Dunne teetered back over to his friend nudging him with his knee and was met with a sluggish glaze. JD smiled slightly as he knelt down and tucking one of the quilts around the chilled man. "I'll be back in a sec..." He whispered as he wrapped the second quilt around himself and quietly stepped away.

Standing in the partially open doorway LaCutte stared out at the snow filled tracks that led into the back lot behind the sheriff's office as the wind whipped up in the snow haze that had visibility next to nil. He let out a frustrated scream as he shoved against the door again, the dumpster that had been wedged there barely inched back effectively blocking his exit. The only way to follow those tracks would be to go out the front, which wasn't the wisest of plans as the storm began to build in intensity and he didn't want to call this in.

Damn the Swills...

"The Fugitive Retrieval Program..."Socrates' image flickered and hissed as the hologram spoke. " was formed in 2193 after Dr. Mordicai Sahmdi with the aid of Trax helped 243 fugitives escape into the past..."

"You expect me to believe you're from the future?"

Chris interrupted and stared at Brisco as he spoke.

"An alternate future yes..."

The man returned Larabee's unwavering gaze.

"Why are they here?"

Tanner drawled from his corner of the room.

"Because Bly is after the orb...."

The man patiently continued to explain.


A little agitated Chris reiterated the word.

"We believe Ms. Cousins brought it here..."

Bowler rumbled out.

"Unless she could fit that orb into her handbag she didn't bring it into town..."

Tired of talking in circles Chris hissed out the statement.

"You sure?"

County looked a little dubious.

"Her car broke down. I drove her here..." Larabee's words drifted off as he stood up and slipped out of the cramped room. The same realization Chris struck the others, a second later they followed him into the garage in time to see him pop open the trunk and flip back the packing blanket to reveal the strange looking orb.

Phil Swill skittered out of the kitchen.

"I cain't find it..."

"You help him find it." Gil pointed to Casey. The young woman tensed as the man barked at her but slowly rose to her feet and following the elder Swill back into the kitchen. She returned a moment later with kit in hand and carried it over to Nathan as he knelt next the man swaddled in a half dozen coats on the floor, snapping open the case as she squatted down next to him and when asked silently handing him the smelling salts. Watching as the doctor broke open a package and waved under the pale man's nose.

A strong odor pervaded his waking senses causing him to first grimace and then struggle to turn his head away to escape the vile olfactory intrusion. When Ezra found he couldn't shift his face away he blinked open his eyes and realized a warm hand held it in place.

"Easy now..." The blurry form that hovered over him spoke to him in a quiet soothing voice. He weakly tried to squirm away until a hand was firmly planted on his chest temporarily quelling the uncoordinated movements. "Stay still... can you answer some questions?" Ignoring the persistent voice Standish rolled his head and took in his surroundings. It was a bit disconcerting to wake up on the floor with a room full of people ogling him.

When Standish failed to acknowledge the doctor's presence, Nathan loosely gripped the man's chin and gently redirecting the roving eyes slowly repeating the questions.

"Do you know where you are? Can you tell me your name?"

Instead of answering Ezra reached up and feebly tried to tug the dark man closer. Jackson leaned in close and the dazed man whispered into his ear.

"Yes... not here..."

"So if this is here... where is Dixie?" Brisco asked as he stared at the contents of the trunk.

"She was in the jail...up and disappeared 'tween last night and this morning..." Tanner asked as he gestured towards the rental car and the orb. "You after her too?"

"No... Dixie is one of our agents... the fiasco in Texas that cost the lives of two people had her on the move..." Brisco reached out at touched the orb.

"Oh and that jail cell hers weren't empty cause... some grinning idiot was sitting there flipping cards into the sink." A smirk played across the Texan's face when County gave him a quizzical look before letting out an exasperated sigh.

"It couldn't be him..." Bowler eyed his partner. "Nah... it ain't possible..."

For the first time since their arrival in the backwater town Bly's radio loudly beeped.

"Mr. Bly... Sir... we have a problem." Jack Randolph's distorted voice blared over the hand held radio that sat on the table in between John Bly and a defiant Mary Travis. He was in the middle of trying to question her.

"Then I suggest you find a solution." He growled back as he keyed the radio.

"Caught a man running through the streets toting around a P.P.T. and some how the Swill boys managed to lose the sheriff and his deputy."

Randolph's report was met with silence.

"Relax... that's it..." Standish quieted down closing his eyes. Nathan never let on what he had heard instead he started feeling down the man's limbs checking for any hidden injuries.

What the hell?

While Nate was checking Ezra's vitals he found made a confusing discovery that although the man's heartbeat was slow it was strong and his skin was already beginning to warm under Jackson's practiced touch.

"Bring him here..." The words were slightly garbled but intelligible enough for the doctor to look up at Randolph as the man listened for further instructions. "And find the sheriff and the deputy... they couldn't have gotten far in this weather."

The man paused for a brief moment before answering. "Swill zapped him...."Randolph nervously pressed the radio against forehead as he waited for Bly to react.

"Well when he wakes bring him here." As storm built in intensity outside the Bar None, inside the establishment Mary watched from across the table as the man calmly placed the radio down and spoke to the man Hutter as the man leaned against the bar behind Sanchez. "Fools... why am I burdened with fools?" Bly didn't expect an answer. A little over an hour had passed by since the initial take over of the small town. There had been little success in locating either Ms. Cousins or the orb.

Stepping through the darkened market JD Dunne tried to remain well out of sight until he reached the store's office. He picked up the phone but the line was dead. Atop the safe was the mainstay of communications in the local area a C.B. radio. The young man flicked the power on and slowly twisted the dial carefully listening as the device sputtered and hissed before a voice came in loud and clear.

"...they couldn't have gotten far in this weather."

Dang it... dang it... dang it

The young deputy didn't wait for the transmission to finish instead he snapped off the radio quickly and quietly leaving to room. He had to get back to Buck.

When JD reached the basement Buck was nowhere to be seen.

"Buck?" His ears strained to hear a reply, but he only heard the sound of the wind as it groaned outside. "Where are you?" He whispered again as he searched the shadows. Dunne jerked away as something lightly brushed against his shoulder.

"Whoa kid... it's just me."

The young man whipped around to see Wilmington standing there still wrapped in the quilt.

"Shit... don't do that... we gotta get outta sight they're still looking for us..."

"Who... never mind... got any suggestions?" Buck muttered back in the dim light JD saw as the older man's winced slightly as the memory of the morning events came back.

"Yeah as a matter of fact I do..."

The storm buffeted the region. Several inches of thick snow already blanketed the town and there seemed to be no end in sight. The high winds were causing the already snow-laden trees in the area to snap under their heavy burden. A large pine tree toppled over at the far end of town taking down a transformer with it. The explosion briefly lit up the sky before plunging the captive resident of Moose Jaw into darkness.

The lights flickered inside Yosemite's garage before going out completely.

"Power's out." Chris glanced up at the overhead fluorescent lights as they darkened.

"Which means Bly and his boys are going to be preoccupied with finding a way to stay warm." Brisco shook his head as Larabee glared at him.

"Most folks around here have generators?"

Tanner looked at Larabee, the man nodded.

"Think Bly will know that?"

On the floor of Lonigan's diner Ezra Standish played possum as the lights went dim. He knew something had happened but he never even fluttered an eyelash in response. He would have to wait until the time was right. The dark man still sat by his side and squeezed his arm lightly when the room darkened the grayish light filtered in from the large window that faced Main Street with the diner's name neatly painted on it. A slight mummer filled the area around him. The thirty or people crammed into Lonigan's were getting worried as the seconds ticked by. The noise was broken by an older woman's voice.

"I'm going downstairs to turn on the generator." If the gunmen had objected Standish didn't hear them protest he only heard the footsteps as they walked off.

"Casey could you get a few more coats?' The doctor quietly asked and there was movement by his side as the young woman rose up to do as she was bid. Suddenly he could feel the hot breath as a voice softly spoke in his ear.

"I hope you have a plan."

"No funny business..." Hutter growled out as he shoved the much larger Sanchez towards the cellar door. The older man had no such delusions at the moment. The presence of Mary Travis complicated matters. For now he would worry about getting the power back on and he slowly opened the basement door groping for the nearby flashlight.

Upstairs Mary tried to remain calmly as the man across the table ogled her from the shadows. Wondering if the story she had sought out was worth her life as she thought back to what had led her to this small Montana town. Perhaps Ms. Cousins had been telling the truth all along when she had professed her innocence back in Texas and indeed feared for her life when she escaped police custody.

Working as a freelance reporter Mary Travis had first stumbled across Dixie Cousins story two weeks earlier when the young woman had been arrested in Dallas at the scene of a double homicide. During that time Mary had obtained background information on the professional singer and when the woman eventually fled Texas she could took an educated guess as to just where Dixie would go. Today's events only confirmed what she had believed, that the woman was innocent, which didn't seem to matter at all if the young woman didn't survive and Mary began to wonder if any of them would.

The beam of light skipped down the stairs lighting the way for the two men. Josiah led the man Hutter into the Bar None's cellar leaving the man standing at the bottom of the steps. The generator was conveniently located across from the furnace. As the light shined along the wall Sanchez barely glimpsed the frightened face of a woman before she ducked behind the ancient furnace, her appearance went seemingly unnoticed by the gunman. Josiah trained the flashlight on the controls for the generator ignoring the young woman's presence as he flipped a few switches and the machine hummed into life. After a second the bare bulb that hung amongst the joists brightly illuminated the boxes of various liquors that lined the walls of the cellar briefly blinding the two men.

"Hey old man is that all ya gotta do?"

Josiah nodded silently wondering as he headed back up to the main floor of the bar how Buck's friend managed to get out of the jail and into his cellar.

Too afraid to move Dixie stayed where she was wedged behind the furnace and waited until the two men left before letting out the breath she had been holding since she heard them enter the cellar. The question if Ezra was still okay hung heavy in her mind.

The lights flickered back on inside the garage. Chris snorted apparently Yosemite had a generator that automatically kicked on during a power failure. Watching as County sighed deeply before he spoke "So much for a distraction."

"How many gunmen do you think there are?" Larabee asked.

"Two dozen at least maybe more... with the erratic pulse that went through the town I can't be sure."

"You hadn't counted on them being here did ya?" The words were drawled out. Despite the tense situation they were in the middle of Tanner some how managed to find the humor in it. "And you thought while you're here might as well take them all in... Mind telling us how you planned to do that?"

"Thought I'd make that part up as I went along..." The man smirked before he continued. "We really should scout around..."

"In this weather? Brisco, are you crazy no one would go out in this." Bowler's rumbling protest echoed through out the garage.


Lying still on the floor until his muscles ached Standish listened to the activity going on around him. The older woman had returned shortly after the power surged back on. At some point the doctor had shifted him on to his side in an attempt to make him more comfortable. As Nathan moved him the man took the opportunity to tell Ezra there were four armed individuals holding thirty of Moose Jaw's citizens inside the small café. The rest of the town's people had been taken from their homes and from what Ezra could glee from the sporadic conversations they were being held in various locations through out the town.

+ + + + + + + Some length of time had passed by, as he lay there swaddled in the layers of assorted winter wear Standish could not be sure of just how long. A commotion was brewing in the vicinity of his feet and tested his resolve.

"Come over here..." Ezra identified the speaker as Jack Randolph but he couldn't discern who the other party was.

"No." The defiant voice belonged to the young woman that helped the doctor earlier apparently had garnered some unwanted attention spurring Ezra to take action. He groaned loudly and reached with a shaky hand to his head waiting a few seconds before fluttering his eyes open. The room quickly went quiet around him as he blinked at Nathan's closely hovering form.

"Well... well look who's awake..." Standish squinted up at Randolph. "Mr. Bly will be pleased." The man's attention focused on him for a brief moment before looking down at Jackson. "Doc better get him dressed cause he's going for a walk." That said Randolph stepped away to make the radio call leaving Nate as he carefully checked over Standish before helping the man sit up with a supportive hand that never left Ezra's back.

"You up to this?" Nate's brown eyes locked with man's intense green ones and he received a tired nod. If Casey's sudden presence startled Ezra no one else in the diner noticed. She handed the man's boots to Dr. Jackson who in turn gently put them back on. Standish appeared dazed as he submitted without protest to the pair efforts to redress him as they listened to the one sided conversation that was going on in the front of the diner.

"Mr. Bly..." The radio clicked and beeped before Randolph hesitantly continued. " The man's awake we'll be bringing him over shortly..." The response was garbled the words transmitted were lost in the static but it was clear Standish would be sent to the ringleader as soon as he was dressed.

The sky had opened up and Mother Nature was determined to bury the upper part of northwestern Montana in a thick blanket of wintry white, as the snow began to come down two inches or more an hour making the short walk down the street a seemingly longer perilous journey as Ezra was dragged towards the Bar None. The man hung limp his unwieldy legs left a deep trench in the snow behind them as he was hauled along between Randolph and LaCutte as the trio trudged through the deep snowdrifts. Somewhere amidst the growing snow squall the three men were being watched.

Head bopping Ezra stared down at the snow covered street watching as white fluff was churned up as he was lugged across the main thoroughfare. An instant later LaCutte was falling away from him downed by a blow from a rifle butt as Ezra struggled to his feet eventually stumbling into a snowdrift as Randolph was lit up from a blast from a P.P.T. and his rapidly fading form quickly disappeared from view. Standish floundered slightly just as someone pulled him back to his feet and held him in place. Another body stepped into his field of vision. The man was dressed in a heavy winter parka with the hood obliterating the view of the man's face. Thick leather mittens grasped his face.

"You okay?"

"Quite..." For the first time Standish noticed the others. They were dressed in a similar fashion as the speaker.

"If you gentlemen don't mind I had an appointment I really shouldn't miss..." Ezra tried to pull away from the man that supported him, only to be held securely in place. "I assure you that if I do not appear in front of Mr. Bly post haste... These cretins will be aware of your presence and the fair citizens in town will be in further jeopardy." The hold was quickly released and he stood precariously on his own two feet. "Gentlemen it seems the stakes have risen drastically. I hope you have a plan because we are out gunned, out manned and running out of time." Snowflakes were beginning to cling to his hair as Standish wavered in the street. He never gave the men a chance to answer and he stepped away. "Can two of you kindly escort me to the bar before I am missed." Ezra didn't even glance back at them as he fumbled with numb hands through LaCutte's jacket and retrieved his weapon. He could barely hear what they were saying not that it mattered just from their body language he knew they would go along with his plan.

The decision was quickly made that Bowler and County who would escort Standish to his destination while Larabee and Tanner carefully scouted out the situation in the rest of the town. It wasn't an easy task in the heavy snow but the two men made their way around the backside of Potter's when a gust of wind whipped down alley stirring up the fine powder momentarily blinding them. Chris' vision cleared just as a pistol cocked behind him and he raised his hands slowly turning around to see the frosty features of Sheriff Wilmington.


The man didn't recognize him as he moved in to grab Larabee's weapon while and equally icy Deputy Dunne held them in their place with a double barrel shot gun. Larabee tried again when Buck got closer.

"Come on you old coon dawg it's me..."

"Chris? Dammit that you?"


The two burly men shoved the smaller man inside the bar quickly disappearing the foul weather outside. As Standish was thrust through the door he was unable to exhibit his usual grace as he slipped and slid along the floor on snow caked boots that gave him little traction atop the slick tiles before coming to an abrupt stop when he collided with a table.

Watching the scene as it had unfolded had Bly mildly amused.

"Ah Mr. Standish... fancy meeting you here."

Ezra uncharacteristically grunted as he finally managed to stand and face Bly. He remained silent as he steadied himself by gripping onto the table and glanced around the bar surprised to see a pretty blond woman sitting across from his 'host'. He recognized the gunman at the far end of the bar as Pete Hutter, watching as the man sauntered out from behind the bartender heading in his direction intent on obeying his boss before the man uttered a word motioning with the rifle to join Bly. Standish complied by taking a seat in the nearest chair to the woman.

Relaxing his stance slightly Buck lowered his weapon and Chris visibly relaxed.

"He with you?" The sheriff had to shout in Larabee's ear as he gestured towards Tanner. It was getting increasingly difficult to hear let alone speak over the sudden rushes of wind.

"Yeah." Chris shouted back. He was about to explain about County and Bowler when the two men rounded the corner and he found himself in the middle of a Mexican stand off.

"WHOA BOYS WE'RE ON THE SAME SIDE..." Chris stepped in between both parties and the situation quickly defused. Unable to speak over Mother Nature's din Dunne motioned for them to follow him as he led the way back inside Potter's store. One by one they climbed through basement window as the temperatures outside started to steadily drop. Once they were all in the cellar the young deputy plugged up the hole left by the shattered window.

Why did the light have to be on?

At when it was dark Dixie had a chance of not being caught. She looked at the luminescent dial of her wristwatch as she sat hunched behind the furnace. A couple hours have passed since the men turned on the generator. She hadn't dared to move but now her legs were numb and she had shooting pains up her spine. Worse yet she was hungry and had no idea what was going on upstairs. Dixie shifted one leg then the other but it did little to relieve her discomfort.

Inside Potter's cellar six chilled men crowded in between the stock shelves. No need to give away their position if someone should pop their head in for a quick peek. Hasty introductions were made to the new comers as they all the men shucked out of the heavy layers of winter wear. All except Buck who was leaning against one of the shelves for support as another dizzy spell got the better of him. For the first time

"Bucklin you okay?" For the first time Chris noticed the light film of blood that was smeared down the side of Wilmington's neck.

"Got conked so the head hurts." Buck faltered slightly as he tried the step away.

"Think ya better sit..." Surprising enough the big man didn't argue instead he accepted Larabee's help lowering himself to the floor. Listening to his old friend speak to the others in the tight quarters

"Want to know the run down?" He had looked at Brisco when he spoke. " Here's what it is...Our end of town... power's out, the occupied buildings are running off generator power and the telephone lines are down. Four gunmen are holding fifty plus souls inside the town hall's meeting room. Bly is inside the Bar None with an unidentified woman and the bartender... a single gunman. Let's not forget our man on the street. What about your end of town?"

"A dozen people are being held in the library by two gunmen and thirty approximately inside Lonigan's with two armed guards. Then there's the one we put out of commission neatly bound in the Laundromat's storeroom..."

"Let's not forget the fella that was vaporized..." Vin spoke up as he ran a hand through his damp hair trying to work out the knots.

"He wasn't vaporized just sent back to face his crimes."

Behind the Texan a calm Briscoe interrupted as he tried to clarify what the others had seen.

"Sent back?"

A mystified JD still stared at Brisco

"Vaporized... Shit... Boonie..." Buck groaned from the floor. "He disappeared before my eyes when these goons took over."

"They used a P.P.T. on him it's a Pellet Projection Tube but with TXP modified pellets... ah long story... but don't worry this Boonie is most certainly alive..." Brisco tried reassure the ailing mustached man.

"Well Ezra used that thing on those hillbilly rejects in the jail..." JD piped in as steeping back from the group as he tried to get a little more breathing room.

"Ezra." County repeated the name giving an odd look to Bowler.

"Our man on the street ... one Mr. Ezra P. Standish..." Vin supplied the man's full name. "He's also the one who helped Dixie Cousins escape from the jail..."

"Standish... ah shit..." Bowler muttered again giving County a sideways glance.

"Captain..." Socrates automatically activated in hologram mode startling Dunne cause the young man to back farther out into the open. "Deputy Boone has indeed been transported to Trax... my records also confirm that..." The flicker image halted its report. "We have unexpected visitors... two individuals have entered the upper level...I suggest we come up with an immediate plan of action..."

+ + + + + + + The unlikely duo of Big Smith and Brett Bones stepped over the threshold of Potter's market under orders to find Moose Jaw's missing sheriff and deputy. After a thorough search of the main floor the pair headed down the stairs in the basement and were surprised to find the young lawman standing in the middle of the store room staring doe eyed at them.

"Bly-san..." Standish regained his composure and politely greeted his captor.

"Maude-san wa ogenki desu ka? Samishigaru wo shimasu..." The elder man spoke, a sly grin tugged at the corner of his mouth clearly enjoying having the upper hand over Ezra. Mary sat mutely by eyes moving between Bly and Standish unable to understand the words as they were spoken.

"Okasan? Saikin no de Monaco...de ni-hyaku toshi..." The dimpled smile graced Ezra's face was followed by an equally bemused chuckle.

"That is a shame I do enjoy her company...Kuwawamasho, Standish-san." Bly also laughed then he made a sweeping gesture with his right hand.

"Moshikomi wo yuwaku suru..." Ezra's grin never left his face as he spoke. "None the less I have to decline..."

At a table in the far corner of the bar Sanchez had been listening to the conversation as well a fleeting smile crossed his face. The younger man was certainly bold.

"Oh Hi Guys.... I was down here looking for some candied yams...." The young dark haired deputy stared at the men who just entered the basement for a second before returning his attention to the shelved boxes of canned goods, tapping on the cardboard as he went down the shelving intent on apparently intent on finding something.

"Huh?" Big Smith grunted out his confusion.

"And this has to do with what?" Brett Bones wavered, more than a little confused by Dunne's behavior.

"Playing rabbit..." JD rolled his eyes and shook his head as if the men should have known better.

"Around these parts it's also called a distraction...." A relaxed voice drawled out. A chill went up their spines as the two men slowly raised their hands when they heard the ominous sound of several guns cocking behind them. "And ya would think these guys would be too smart to fall for this."

"Get those hands up where I can see them...that right nice and easy... hey kid..." Chris didn't have to say another word for the young man to spring into action. Dunne stepped forward and disarmed the men carefully checking for concealed weapons before giving the all clear. Bowler stepped from the shadows with a roll of strapping tape in hand.

"Suppose this means we are onto phase two?" The big black man rumbled out as he began to tightly bind Randolph's hands to his feet.

"That is a shame... it would be prudent to reconsider my offer..." A loud crash from the basement effectively silenced Bly's disapproving remarks against Standish as he turned his attention to his crony. "Hutter, go check that out and take the bartender with you wouldn't want any unexpected surprises." The order was clear and the man along with Sanchez disappeared from Bly's sight.

+ + + + + + +

Gil was starting to get nervous as the storm built in intensity outside. Since his last conversation with Mr. Bly the radio transmissions had steadily dropped off, he couldn't even get a clear message to the men stationed within the town. A view outside the diner was frigid wall of white visibility was almost nil the building across the street was lost in the falling snow. LaCutte and Randolph had failed to return leaving Phil and himself alone to watch over the captives, it seemed unlikely they would return amidst the squall. Yet as he stood by the gazing out the window he could just make out two figures trudging through the almost knee high drifts towards the diner.

+ + + + + + +

"The mere fact you are a mad man will not alter my decision in any way." Ezra spoke ignoring the rivulet of icy water that ran down his back exuding a sense of smug calm as he returned Bly's gaze.

"Still defiant I see, some day that warped sensibility of yours will be the death of you..." The man lightly chuckled as he drew out his weapon, Ezra recognized the palm sized P.P.T. "It seems today is the day to go back and face your demons." The door led to the basement slammed open revealing two men with their faces obscured by the faux fur lined hoods as they charged into the room with rifles drawn. Without a second's hesitation Standish managed to flip the table towards Bly, the heavy piece grazed the man's hip as Ezra hauled Mary away from the rapidly deteriorating situation trying to take cover behind the jukebox. A poorly aimed P.P.T. shot lit up the bar as Bly fled into the tempest that lay outside the bar with Standish hot on his tail.

Crouched behind the huge piece of nostalgia, Mary swore she heard one of the men mutter.

"Damn Idiot..."

But she didn't budge instead she listened. Mary could hear two more people come up the stairs and a relieved voiced cried out. "Dixie!!" A shadow fell over her and she looked up to see the immense form Bar None's bartender.

"Ma'am, are you all right?" He offered her his hand, which she immediately grasped and was gently lifted to her feet

" I am now..."

Phil held the door open as the snowy pair shuffled in and it wasn't until he was staring down the sights of a snub nose thirty eight did he realize there was something amiss.


"Not now Phil..." Gil's attention was glue to the snowy street outside. He could just make out two figures as they fled from the bar. "Something's going on in where Mr. Bly is...." So rapt in what he was watching he didn't notice the man step up beside him until he heard the hammer on the pistol click back. "Ah shit..."

The self-proclaimed smartest of the Swill brothers let his rifle clatter to the floor slowly raised his hands over his head. "Thanks a lot stupid... you could of told me..."

"I tried too... You didn't want to listen...." A slightly exasperated Phil responded.

"You didn't want to listen..." Gil did a high pitch parody of his brother. Which cause more than few people trapped inside the diner to chuckle. No one noticed the elder Wells woman left the room until she walked out of the kitchen carrying a tightly wound ball of cord and handed it to over to her slightly soggy rescuers.

A steady volume of random conversations grew townspeople watched on as Larabee and Tanner subdued the Swills using the packing twine provided by Mizz Nettie, more than a little surprised that Moose Jaw's former sheriff had come to their aid.

"Folks... I need your attention..." Chris waited until the occupants of the diner quieted down. "Thank you..."

Moose Jaw was wrapped in the veil of white as Standish slogged through the snow after Bly. Even though he could no longer see the man, he had no trouble following the trail the man left behind cut deep into the drifts. Slipping and sliding as Ezra pressed forward in the blinding snow.

+ + + + + + +

"I suppose this is where phase three is supposed to kick in...." Buck leaned heavily against the bar.

"You sure you're okay?" JD nervously eyed his boss and friend, noting that the man was still a little unsteady as he nodded.

"You better be..." Larabee words hung in the air as he entered the Bar None alone, grateful that his old friend was all right. "Have to get moving..."

Their plan insane at best was forcing them to move about in the full fury of Mother Nature.

"Yeah..." Wilmington gave Larabee a half-hearted smile before trudging across the floor to where Tanner and the others taken up a post just inside the door. "You know that crazy idiot went after Bly..."

"I know..." Chris was almost out the door when he met Sanchez's gaze and asked. "Josiah mind escorting the ladies back over to Lonigan's..."

The man gave him a quick nod before the group headed out into the storm.

The snow had already partial filled in the tracks left behind by Bly and Standish. The wind was cutting through the heavy layers of clothing leaving the County and Bowler feeling almost frigid to the core as they tried to follow the two men's trail. It seemed originally that Bly was headed to the Town Hall but the upturned snow radically changed directions and now veered towards the opposite end of Moose Jaw.

What hell is he thinking?

He kept moved despite being unable to feel his feet moving underneath him. Ezra's mind was set on the dark figure moving ahead of him ignoring the fact it hurt to breathe. Silently cursing as he once again stumbled and fell into the deep snow.

No, Ezra P. Standish wasn't meant for the cold... this type of life wasn't for a gentleman.

With that thought in mind he staggered back onto his feet.

When the tracks started to lead out into the hills Brisco decided to break off the pursuit, there were more pressing matters that needed to be handled. He tapped Bowler on the arm and motioning for the big man to follow. The pair headed back towards the center of town.

Six men rushed towards the town hall only to find its doors open and the building empty, vacated just long enough for the snow to have drifted inside the foyer. A quick sweep through the two floors confirmed what they already knew the gunmen and their hostages had disappeared. The question of when and how would have to wait they still had to retake the rest of the town.

One last desperate lunge was all he had left when he saw Bly vanish into a copse of trees. Ezra knew he was in trouble as he lurched through the snow. He stopped painfully panting as he squinted down at the ground. Only the pristine undisturbed white blanket of fine powder lay ahead, Bly's tracks stopped mid stride. Standish sank to his knees in the snow too exhausted to continue finally collapsing face first into the snow.

Outside the William Durant Library, Bowler and Brisco were intently peering inside through a frosted window. They almost missed the signs of the rapidly approaching men due to Mother's Nature's continuing onslaught.

"YO... IT'S US..." Chris shouted over the sound of rushing wind as Bowler and County whirled around weapons ready. Larabee and his group had followed the trail the pair had left in the snow coming back into town.

"THERE'S NOBODY INSIDE..." Brisco screamed out his own response.

"WHERE THE HELL DID THEY GO?" Larabee yelled back before muttering to himself as he pushed his way inside the old library. "Never mind..."

The others followed him into the building. A low level mechanical hum was coming from below them and Chris headed straight for the cellar door. He flipped the light switch by the door and slowly descended the stairs. He was surprised to find more than a dozen terrified souls huddled to together against the far wall in the basement but it seemed the gunmen were long gone. Leaving Chris to wonder.

How could these men vanish without a trace in the storm?

Strong gusts of wind had the snow coming down sideways. The wondrous sight went largely ignored by Standish he was intent on forward motion, desperately seeking out shelter. There wasn't a man made structure in sight, some how during his pursuit of Bly he got lost.

Cold ... Cold... hate the cold

The simple mantra was running through Ezra's head as he plodded through the wintry world. Stumbling and falling blindly through the storm trying no longer to figure out which direction the town lay.

The small group of residents they found had survived their harrowing ordeal miraculously unscathed. The fact they were left behind after such a show of force was more than a little unsettling. There was no trace of their abrupt departure outside the building. No tracks in the snow. Nothing to show which way they had gone. Chris was more than a little disconcerted his agitation was evident as he paced the room.

"I just don't understand where they went? How could that many people disappear for the town hall..."

"You try the passage?" The elderly woman asked. It was Miss Henderson the librarian who posed the question she was also a long time resident of Moose Jaw and was familiar with the town's history. All eyes in the room turned to her as she spoke.

"The what?"

"It's an old tunnel located underneath the mayor's office... leads to Hanover's place... there are several under the town.... that's how the fools got out of here."

For a brief moment no one else said a word.

"Miss Henderson... is there a lay out?" The woman nodded.


"JD could you help her?" The young man escorted the woman upstairs.

With Bowler in the lead the rest of the group followed them up to the main floor.

"We got to split up then..." Buck locked eyes with his old friend as Larabee grimly nodded. They were quickly running out of options.

Why couldn't Mother Nature be on his side for once?

At least he didn't feel cold anymore. Ezra didn't feel much of anything as he trudged forward. His attention was on the ground under his numb feet watching as the snow churned up with each step he took. Until he walked straight into a seemingly unmovable object, He blinked several times before he realized just what he had run into.

Why did everything have to be so difficult?

The parka clad individual stood mutely in front of him. He glanced beyond the man and discovered he was not alone. A stray thought skittered through his overtaxed brain.

Being a full time professional gambler seemed like a good idea now.

Standish had run into a half dozen of the gunmen in the middle of moving the hostages. The man he had inadvertently walked was shocked by his presence made no move to restrain him. Ezra took full advantage of the brief lapse in judgment, shoved the bewildered gunman to the ground and bolted away. For the first time noticing that buildings seemed to have sprung up around him. That fleeting realization along with the knowledge that he made it back to town was pushed to the back of Ezra's mind as he used the last of energy reserves trying to escape.

+ + + + + + +

A few seconds lapsed before the chase began. Ezra lurched through the deep drifts using the building for support as he desperately slogged around the corner, taking a deep breath before shouting.

"Bakayaro! Koko ni arimasu!"

Two of the gunmen were churning through thick blanket of snow heading straight for Standish as he once again summoned upon his numb limbs. He didn't need to look to realize the pair was gaining ground. His laborious flight took its toll as his legs began to fail him. Ezra could no longer hold himself up as he dragged himself around the building. The waning momentum he had was abruptly stopped when he plowed into an unsuspecting Wilmington. Tumbling into a tangled frozen heap as the snow whipped over them. Befuddled green eyes blinked at the mustached sheriff before the rolled back in Standish's head as the man collapsed. Buck groaned under the sudden weight.

Waking with a start even with his blurry vision Ezra knew he was in trouble.

Aw hell

His wrist was firmly handcuffed to the bed. Problem was he couldn't exactly remember how he ended up in this state. He felt physically drained and even though he lay flat on his back felt more than a little dizzy. An experimental tug caused the links to dully clatter against the bedpost rousing the only other person in the room.

Dunne's head snapped up at the noise he had been lightly dozing in a nearby chair. He moved slowly over to the bedside watching as the sweaty man shifted and groaned. The young man shook his head it was a shame they had to cuff a sick man but he just would not stay put kept trying to wander off.

"Mr. Standish? Ezra..." He whispered quietly leaning over the bed. JD wasn't ready for what happened next. In a fluid movement the cuffs snapped open and his weapon had been snatched from its holster. He was unable to wrench himself of the arm wrapped across his chest. Seconds later a dumb founded Dunne watched as the shells from his service revolver were dumped out on to the floor. The empty gun was now tightly pressed into his neck and he was being slowly propelled out of the room. Listening to Standish as the man muttered over and over they couldn't send him back.

A shaking Standish gripped the gun with his wet and frigid fingers, jabbing the weapon under the young man's chin. Slowly stepping backwards, while trying to maintain a firm hold on the young deputy. Violent shivers coursed through his body. Hypothermia had already begun to set in. If he had had a chance to think about it he would have wondered how the day had gone so incredibly bad. Unfortunately Ezra's mind-set was devoted to the situation at hand. Someone else might have thought it odd that a small town sheriff and a recluse would be in a stand off with him of all people. He was definitely out of his element. Hell he didn't want to harm the young man Dunne had been nothing but kind during his incarceration. The two other men in the room he wasn't sure about, sure Wilmington seemed easy going enough. Well that was before he put a gun to JD's head. Larabee, he was certain, was the man to watch out for. Anger emanated off the hardened man as Chris glared down the sight of a rifle at him. To think all of this had started three days earlier as a favor for a friend. Ezra let out a ragged breath, trying to ignore that it was cold enough to see, made another step back on numb feet.

The heavy snow fell down in sheets, as the four men stood off the side of the Main Street for almost ten minutes involved in the standoff. Standish heard a gun cock next to him ear but never heard the gun bearer approach. A cautious glance towards had him gazing farther upward at a big angry looking black man with long tight cornrows. He was easily over six foot six inches tall and toting a sawed off shotgun his deep voice snarling out.

"Going somewhere little man?"

The only response Ezra could muster with his vision beginning to dim was a softly muttered. "Aw Hell..." weakly releasing his hold on Dunne before his body betrayed him by collapsing into the drifting snow. Next thing he knew was that rough hands were pulling him up and was slung like a sack of potatoes over a massive shoulder. Somewhere nearby Wilmington was talking to the young deputy.

"You okay?"

"Yeah... Buck, the gun wasn't loaded..."

"I know Kid..."

The sheriff voice was muffled and faraway.

The last thing his conscious mind heard was Larabee's words. "Wouldn't do it the easy way...had to do it the hard way..."

For the third time that morning Josiah Sanchez hauled Ezra up the stairs to the room over Mrs. Potter's store. This incident was by far the worse. Luckily no one had been hurt. The big man gently laid the ailing Standish carefully on the bed. Nathan immediately sat at stricken man's side gently checking him over. Making sure the frantic foray hadn't done any further harm. The doctor sighed deeply Jackson was exhausted it was just too early for this and there didn't seem to be a way to reassure his patient that he was safe.

"He okay?" Sanchez's voice rumbled through the small room.

"He's no worse..." Nate shrugged frankly Ezra's condition was confusing and he had no explanation as to why the man was damn sight healthier than he had the right to be.

The storm had raged on effectively trapping everyone inside the small town. Although several of the citizens had tried they were unable to get in contact with the state police. Phone lines were still dead and cellular and radio transmissions were limited. The world outside of Moose Jaw remained unaware of what had transpired in the small Montana town. Many of the snow bound took refuge within the warmth and relatively comfort of Lonigan's, the Bar None and various other establishments through out the town. Some of their former captors were now residing in the jail. Because the whereabouts of the remaining gunmen was unknown lookouts armed with portable radios were posted throughout the town.

The town's rescuers had set up a command center of sorts out inside the sheriff's offices. Standish's distraction had been enough to get their hearts going. Buck was slouched behind his desk with his eyes closed. A firmly clenched jaw revealed the level of discomfort his headache was giving him. He had given up watching JD nervously pace it was beginning to make the big sheriff nauseous. The young man hadn't had a chance to check on Casey and he was worried despite the reassurances from Chris that she was indeed all right. Buck felt bad for his friend but they had their priorities like keeping watch over their prisoners while the others attended to Standish and the 'orb'. Wilmington didn't know what it was but he knew that Bly and his men went had taken over the town to get their hands on this 'orb'. For that matter how his old girlfriend Dixie was involved or where this Standish fit into the mix. Thinking about it made his head hurt even more.

The front door suddenly opened jarring Buck from his thoughts as he scrambled to his feet. Only to have to grasp the side of the desk as a wave of dizziness threatened to topple him to the floor.

Before he knew who had entered he was being steered back into his chair. A gentle touch loosely held his chin. Buck slowly blinked his eyes open to see the concern that was clearly etched into Nathan's face as he looked carefully into Buck's eyes.

"Moved too quick..." The explanation died half way through.

"You should be lying down." The doctor clucked as he examined Wilmington sure the man was suffering from one hell of a headache.

Dunne stood of to the side watching and looking more than a little worried.

"Can't don't have time for that at the moment...."

A look from Nathan quickly silenced the protest.

"You've been knocked unconscious twice in the last twenty four hours... so don't tell me you don't have time." Jackson was becoming more than a little irritated and was longer in the mood to reason with his patients. "JD, as soon as the others get back... make sure this fool lays down."


Nate lightly patted Buck on the knee and he left the sheriff's office.

Dunne stood staring at his friend for a moment before he spoke. "Ya'll right?"

"Sure kid... head hurts a bit is all...that Standish sure is crazy..." Buck snorted then winced when a sharp pain spiked through his head.

"Like you acted much saner..." The younger man pushed his heavy bangs off his forehead again and graced Buck with a sly grin, which only caused the man to laugh and grimace at the same time.

"Ah Sheriff...you better stop 'fore you hurt yourself." JD couldn't help but chuckle. "Wouldn't want a repeat performance."

Wilmington groaned and slid further down in the chair. He would never hear the end of it and cringed as he listened to the younger man snicker.

Inside Yosemite's Garage the four men stood by Dixie Cousin's rental car, just as they had the day before. Staring into its open trunk at the strange object loosely wrapped in a packing blanket. The other three watching as Brisco reached in a touched the device.

"What the hell is it?" Chris asked as County gently tugged at the orb, easing a brightly glowing iridescent purple rod from its core. Electric blue arcs crackled across the golden surface.

"The orb...wields great power... who ever possesses the orb possesses the power. That's why Bly and his merry band were after it."

"Are going to send it back?"

"Yeah about a hundred twenty years or so ..." County slid the rod back in place.

"I thought you said you came from two hundred years in the future?" Tanner softly drawled the question.

"I am... but the orb is going back to the 1880's..." The answer raised more than one eyebrow in the garage. "Suppose there is no time like the present... Soc visual mode."

The hologram of the red haired spectacled man flickered into view.

"Captain, the coordinates as you suspected earlier are indeed correct... teleportation should be in effect shortly."

A low drone filled the room just as the computer finished speaking. The office door began to radiate a slow light and an older gray bearded gentleman stepped through.

"Professor Coles." County stepped forwarded and greeted the man. He extended a hand.

"Brisco... a pleasure to see you again." The man grabbed the younger man's hand and pulled him into a hug, after a warm embrace released him. "

I'm sorry to hear about your father... he will be greatly missed..."

"Thank you."

"The orb?"

"It's right here..." Bowler carried it over to the professor.

"Mr. Lone Feather... It's good to see you too..."

"Same to ya Professor Coles..." The big man smiled and handed over the precious device. Coles smiled briefly before he walked through the portal. The door glowed for moment longer then stopped. County looked a little flushed, he remained quiet under the sudden barrage of questions.

"Who was that? What does this have to do with your father?" Only one of the queries was directed at Bowler. "Lone Feather?"

+ + + + + + +

For the first time in a while Ezra was warm. He no longer felt that bone chilling cold that had settled into his body for what seemed the longest time. He tried to move but his body failed to respond. A soft groan slipped out. Instantly someone was at his side trying to coax him out of the comforting darkness. His softly muttered words were badly slurred. The unknown person failed to understand them and asked him to repeat them again. And he tried to comply before drifted back into oblivion. The statement was although it was barely above a whisper was clearer.

"I'm not going back... "

Some how Bly had disappeared during the height of the blizzard, they would probably find his body as soon as the snow melted come springtime. Until then they couldn't be too sure that he hadn't escaped, the odds were against him but they had said the same of Standish yet the man still survived his ordeal.

The storm finally passed through the small town of Moose Jaw leaving two feet of snow in its wake. The citizens breathed a small sigh of relief before they began to dig themselves out. Upstairs inside Potter's Store Dr. Jackson had finished checking on Ezra Standish.

"Hey Nate, how's he doing?" Chris Larabee asked from the doorway while intently staring at the still form in the bed.

"Can't for the life of me figure out why but he should be okay... needs to rest."

"After yesterday nothing surprises me...want me to watch him?"

"Yeah... might as well because I want to look over Buck again... despite what he says the man still has a mild concussion..." Nathan muttered as he stepped out of the room leaving Larabee alone with Standish.

"He leave?" The quiet words slurred slightly causing Chris to chuckle.

"Yep... He's gone."

"Lord I thought the man would never leave..."

"Ya know he is looking out for your best interests."

"Well I would prefer to left to my own devices thank you."

"Damn fool stunt to pulled..."

"I can't go back..."

"Well you made that blatantly obvious... no one is sending you back... so come with me."

Chris helped the shaky man off the bed and to his feet.

Larabee closely followed an unsteady Standish over to the Bar None ready to assist if the man should suddenly falter. The establishment wasn't open for business but it was far from empty. He recognized everyone in the room. The sheriff and his deputy were there as well as the bounty hunter, the Bar None's Proprietor and even the town's doctor was there. Dixie Cousins sat at a table with the reporter, Ezra remember her name was Mary. The idle chatter and laughter that had been going on ceased the moment he crossed the threshold and turned to look at him.

Ezra remembered vaguely that someone, he wasn't sure just who, had tried to explain what had transpired during his lapse of consciousness.

"You're looking better..." Josiah commented from behind the bar, he laughed as Ezra stared back at him thoroughly confused.

Almost a full day had passed since they had dragged the gun wielding man from the middle of the stormy streets of Moose Jaw.

"Mr. Standish I believe you misplaced these..." JD idly tapped a deck of playing card

"Chris don't you help the man to a chair before he falls over." Nate was standing in the back of a bar his firm grip kept Buck in his seat. "You stay put..." He growled at the sheriff before he strode across the room. "Couldn't let him sleep could ya?" He spoke with an exasperate sigh while glaring at Larabee.

"He was already up just tired of you poking at him... leave him be." Chris' eyes revealed his own amusement.

A un-lady like snark came from Dixie, she not trying at all to contain her mirth as Ezra scowled while being settled into a chair. Buck was going to get up so that he could be closer to the conversation but was stopped before his bottom vacated the wood chair.

"I SAID STAY!" An aggravated Jackson barked across the room, the loud and abrupt sound made both Buck and Ezra cringe.

"Somebody's pissed off..." Chris chuckled.

"Shut up or you can deal with these idiots..." Nate snapped back at Larabee.

"I don't think Mr. Standish would be so cocky if he knew what he's been up to... You too Buck..."

The quiet remark got everyone's attention.

"Hey..." Wilmington protested no longer trying to move from his seat. "That wasn't my fault and who the hell gave you the tazer?"

"Ah Ez did," Admitted the young man.

All eyes turned to the bewildered Standish.

"Now Buck don't go blaming him he was 'bout frozen solid when ya tripped over him..." A relaxed Vin chuckled as he leaned back against the wall thoroughly amused by the proceedings.

Ezra blinked a few times as he sat there dumbfounded trying to figure out what was going on and why were these people being so familiar with his name.

"Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Ezra finally spoke up.

"Well while you were doing your impression of a fleeing human Popsicle you mowed over Buck here..."

"Bly!" Ezra blurted out as he suddenly remembered part of the previous day.

"He's gone along with some of his boys." Bowler grumbled from across the room.

"Ignore him... he's pissed off because everyone found out that we have a celebrity in our midst... though he's no where near as pissed as Buck though..." Chris smiled at a confused Ezra it was obvious that the man had gaping holes in his memory. "It was quite the spectacle really..."

"Shut up Chris..." Buck growled although he was annoyed he didn't budge from his seat. An irritated look from Nathan kept him in his place.

"Can you get to the point?" Ezra wearily asked. "What happened?"

It was then that Larabee began to weave his tale much to the chagrin of some of the men in the bar.

It was then that Larabee began to weave his tale much to the chagrin of some of the men in the bar.

"After ya flattened Buck, the two yahoos that were chasing you came tearing around the corner just as the sheriff here was getting up and got trampled again. Somewhere during the ensuing scuffle our fine deputy managed to jolt one of the bastards with a tazer...."

"Don't say it..."

"Unfortunately the guy flew back into Buck knocking him ass over tea kettle and he thumped his head on a dumpster... "

"I hope you're happy..."

"How about we get down to business while Ezra here is still conscious...." Chris patted the bewildered man on the shoulder before he pulled out a chair and sat down himself.

"I suppose that my cue..." Brisco spoke up. "Socrates located your personal data base Mr. Standish and we know why you're here..."

"Do tell..." Ezra leaned back slightly as he answered. The shock registered on his face for a flittering few seconds before his impassive mask slipped back in place.

"To change events..."County's expressive brown eyes locked with Standish's green ones. "You arrived here..." He made a sweeping gesture as he spoke. " A little over seven weeks ago from the year 2102... and immediately sought out Miss Cousins. You possess a P.P.T. and a Specified Encapsulated Limitless Memory Archive, which leads me to believe that you are part of Fugitive Retrieval." Brisco broke eye contact with Ezra and sought out the deputy. "JD?"

The young man tossed him the package of cards and removed the Ace of Spades.

A hologram of a well-dressed older gentleman flickered into view.

"Standish these kind people tell me that the first part of your assignment was successful..."

"Commander..." The name was barely a whisper. "It wasn't... Bly escaped..."

"Yes I understand that ... but what matters is he didn't gain control of the device." The projected image of Travis smiled. "This mission is much too large for one man to handle alone so I have enlisted the aid of some newly inducted members to assist in the monumental task of capturing the remaining fugitives."


"That would be us..." A voice spoke up from behind Standish it belonged to Chris Larabee. "And we'll be with you until this is over."

Standish was speechless and could only nod.

The commitment would change all of their lives and destinies.


Ezra was leaning heavily against the table, not entirely sure he could cover the require distance to collapse comfortably into a bed. It didn't help that Nate was fussing over him.

"Dr. Jackson I assure you I am quite well..."

"Uh huh... Josiah, want to give him a hand back to Mrs. Potter's?" The big man nodded as he stepped up and grabbed Ezra's left elbow.

"I'm here to assist those in need..."

"Why aren't you people listening to me?"

"Well when you say something sensible I might but until then...." Jackson just smiled.

" Make sure you tuck him in." Tanner's easy drawl could be heard across the room.

"Standish are you sure you want to stay here?" Brisco asked trying unsuccessfully to look as serious as he sounded.

"Aw Hell..."

"He don't sound like he wants to stay..." Bowler chuckled as he stepped up and patted the man on the shoulder

While it seemed everyone was pretty much preoccupied the young deputy took the opportunity to slip out of the bar. But his exit did go unnoticed and the others began to follow JD out of the bar.

Wilmington waited until Larabee walked passed him and reached out pulled him over to a quiet corner.

"Hey Chris are you okay with this?" Buck looked his old friend straight in the eye as he asked the question.

From anyone else it would have been an insult but their history was long and the man that stood before him had seen him fall. Remaining by his side during the dark days after the death of his wife and son until he had made it impossible for Buck to stay.

"Yeah I am for the first time in long while..." Chris held Buck's gaze knowing this was not a decision to be taken lightly.

"Good... glad to have ya back." Buck smiled and patted the older man on the back.

Mustering up his courage JD strode across the street straight into Lonigan's. The diner was nearly empty as the lunch crowd thinned out. With a quick look he spotted Casey clearing dishes off the tables. Taking a deep breath he walked over to her.

"Hi Casey..."

"Hey JD." She smiled at him as she looked up from her task. That's when JD lost it and stood there with his mouth hanging open. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Ah yeah...ah..." The words stammered out as he forgot his practiced lines and flushed red with embarrassment.

"JD?" Casey stared at him and a small smile grew as the young man began to get flustered.

"Would ya like to go out for to a movie?" The question rushed out and it almost sounded like one word but the young woman understood.

"Yeah I would like that."

"How about Saturday... pick you up at six?"

"That would be cool."

"Okay I see you then..."

JD about tripped over his own feet leaving the diner. He had just cleared the threshold when he heard an odd sound coming from the freshly shoveled sidewalk. Dunne turned three different shades of red when he realized what it was.


Eight men and two women stood there clapping, Buck even hoot and hollered a bit before yelling loud enough for entire town to hear.


"Oh you guys..." was the best he could managed before stalking off to the sheriff's department leaving laughter in his wake. When he got to the end of the block he could hear Ezra Standish protest.

"But I'm not tired..."

The statement was quickly followed by a frustrated howl from Nathan.


The young deputy snickered as he huffed down the sidewalk thinking that Moose Jaw was a strange and interesting place to be.

The end?