Special Agent-in-charge Kenneth McCormick looked over the four men before him in the pouring rain. Their grim faces were lit up by the jagged lightning that streaked through the sullen sky, their bodies trembling with the rolling thunder that shook the earth all around. “We’re going to get Prof. Latipso for sure this time,” the big FBI man growled. “Dead or alive!”

The men nodded, fedoras dripping. They climbed into the rumbling Ford Model A, McCormick behind the wheel and drove off into the storm-wrenched night.

The tip had come from an old prospector who’d been digging for gold up in the mountains: a man was holed up in a tent on the edge of Splithead Canyon. A prospector had identified the man as Latipso from the FBI Most Wanted poster he’d been shown.

The men sat in silence as the car roared along the deserted high desert road, listening to the monotonous flapping of the windshield wipers against the windscreen. The surrounding rugged countryside was shrouded in liquid darkness, except when a crashing thunderbolt tore the heavens apart. The professor had knocked over eight banks and gunned down three guards during his five-month crime spree. He’d vowed never to be taken alive.

Leopold Stotch dug around in the front of his suit jacket; his hand brushing the butt of his .32 revolver nestled in its shoulder harness. He found his pack of cigarettes, shook a coffin nail out and offered it to Kyle Broflovski sitting next to him in the backseat of the car.

Kyle shook his head, said, “Don’t smoke,” his knuckles white on the barrel of the shotgun cradled between his legs.

“These young guys are all into clean livin’ now, huh, Kenneth?” Leopold remarked. He nervously plugged the cancer stick back into the pack and put the pack back into his suit pocket.

“How many years you been in law enforcement, anyway, pops?” Big Eric Cartman asked the third man in the backseat.

Leopold snorted. “Pops! I’m retiring at the end of the year, as a matter of fact … sonny. Me and the wife are all set for the easy life – just bought a cottage on Lake Avery.”

“Not bad, old-timer,” "Latipso " Marsh commented, turning around in the front seat. “Me, I got some things to take care of before I turn in my badge.” He patted his left breast where his .32 was holstered. “Like the professor, for one.”

“Plus, you don’t have the dough to live on Easy Street like Leopold does,” Big Eric said, balancing a Thompson submachine gun on his plump knees.

“Playin’ the ponies like you do.”

Stan grimaced. “Yeah, I got a few debts to pay off, fat guy. But who don’t these days – with the Depression and all?”

Big Eric grunted. “Tell me about it. The bank the missus and I have been dealing at for the past five years just went under. Taking all our dough with it. And us with two kids to feed!”

“Why don’t you guys shut up already?” Kyle rasped. This was his first manhunt.

Kenneth glanced in the rearview mirror at the pale-faced young man in the back. “Easy, son,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We’ll get our man.”

Twenty miles on, they turned off the highway and onto a rutted trail that wound up the side of a mountain. Another hour of bone-jarring, rain-lashed driving brought them to within a hundred yards of the shack perched on the edge of canyon. Light leaked out from around the edges of the tent, smoke billowed up from the campfire.

“Big Eric,” Kenneth said, “you go around and cover the backside in case Latipso takes a tumble into the canyon. The rest of us are going through the door.”

The men piled out of the car and plodded forward. A bolt of lightning flashed and crackled almost directly over their heads, thunder exploding a split-second later.

Kenneth cocked his big, black .45 automatic at the flap of the tent. He nodded at his men, then reared back and slammed his huge shoulder into the flimsy door. “Put ‘em up, Latipso!” he roared. “It’s the end of the line!”

The thief leapt out of the chair he’d been dozing in, knocking over a table. A bottle and a tin plate crashed to the plank wood floor of the tent, along with stacks and stacks of stolen documents – and the Tommy gun the profesor had employed to get them. He stared at the FBI agents, dazed and unbelieving.

Then the lantern hanging overhead suddenly shattered, plunging the tent into darkness. Gunfire erupted like the thunder all around, muzzles blazing flame, wood splintering and glass shattering and men screaming amidst the hail of hot lead that seemed to pour from every direction.

Kyle lit the lantern he’d been told to bring with him and tossed it inside the tent, illuminating the carnage. The blasting ceased. The silence was deafening, acrid gunsmoke hanging heavy in the air. The men stared at the bullet-ridden body of Latipso slumped over against the far wall of the tent and the shredded bits of the formula scattered all over the floor.

“I got a slug in the gut,” Leopold grimaced from beside Kenneth.

“I took one in the shoulder myself,” the Special Agent-in-charge replied, fingering the small hole in his trench coat.

“I think a bullet winged my ear chief!” Big Eric yelled from the broken back window of the shack. “But I’m okay.” He was still outside the shack, but his machine gun lay inside on the floor. “I guess I dropped my Tommy in all the excitement,” the agent sheepishly admitted.

Kenneth looked at Stan crouched in a shooting position along the side-wall. “What about you, Stan?”

“I think I got a chunk taken out of my thigh. But that don’t matter. We got the crumb,” he gritted, glaring at Latipso’s lifeless body, “that’s all that matters.”

Kenneth glanced behind him. “You can come in now, Kyle.”

The young FBI man slunk into the room, clutching his shotgun. “I was, um, just keeping the front covered – in case the professor broke through you guys.”

Kenneth grunted, nodding at the bank robber’s gleaming black machine gun lying on the floor. “We got a lot of men shot, and shot at … considering.”

“Considering what?” Leopold groaned, holding his stomach.

“Considering Latipso never fired a single shot.” The FBI special agent grimly regarded his men, his .45 level and cocked. “Looks to me like someone else was after this formula besides Latipso. And I think I know who.”

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