They swarmed out of the ground.
We’d been moving through a forest, the dogs ranging ahead and falling back as they were wont to do when they stopped close to a small rise.
A heartbeat later and the earth was thrown aside, revealing one of the finest hides I’d ever seen.
Men raced out of the revealed doorway, bringing their guns up as they came out. One of them called for my surrender, and the Colts answered.
I stood my ground, feet wide and the Colts thundering in my hands.
The first to die was the one who had wanted my submission. He, as far as I could tell, was the one in charge, and so he died with the top of his head missing.
His death caused the others to hesitate for a fraction of a second, and that was all I needed.
Those who tried to bring their weapons to bear went down with holes in their chests and their bellies. Those who tried to run were herded back by the dogs, all three of the canines deftly avoiding the haphazard, panicked firing of the would-be killers.
The men I saw as I gunned them down were soldiers.
But they weren’t skilled, and they were afraid.
As they should have been.
To their credit, not one of them tried to surrender, and they mastered their fear as they saw their bullets punch through my legs and stomach.
Realizing that their guns had little effect upon me, the last few decided upon a desperate bayonet charge as I reloaded the Colts.
The dogs raced forward, tripped up the men, and as the soldiers stumbled and tried to right themselves, I killed them all.
The dogs and I stood still, taking stock of the situation. Several of the men were wounded, and rather than waste any bullets, I picked up one of the rifles and gave the dying men the bayonet. Dirty work, to be sure, but practical.
In the still aftermath of the fight, I went from corpse to corpse, gutting them and pulling out the bits the dogs preferred.
I cleaned up as best I could, and I smiled. The sun was up, the day was warm, and the men were dead.
Humming to myself, I took out my skinning knife and harvested my scalps.
When I finished, the bag was heavy on my hip, and the bitter tang of blood hung in the air.
Yes. It was a good day.