They should have known better.
As Dog and I approached the building, a trio of men came out. They walked with confidence and kept their eyes on me as they did so. One man, with most of his shirt off, bowed low, and I heard his voice in my mind.
“Welcome, Blood,” he said, straightening up. “I offer you this courtesy. Leave now and fear no retribution.”
I looked at the three men, and I shook my head. “Not ‘til I’ve spoken with Gao.”
“Our master does not wish to be disturbed,” the shirtless man replied. “Especially not by the likes of you. If you do not go, he will feast on you as he did your friend.”
The three men smirked as one.
I shrugged and drew the Colts as the men sprang toward me.
They were fast, faster than any man I’d ever encountered before, and my shots missed.
I’m not fast. There’s no denying it. But I’ve been killing longer than they’d been alive.
I dropped to a crouch as the shirtless man sprang over me, and I led the next man, clad all in white, by a good bit before pulling the trigger.
The .44 caught him in mid-leap and caused him to crumple. He hit the courtyard hard, rolled, and lay still as Dog trotted toward him.
An angry shout from the last man was meant to distract me from the shirtless fellow, but I’ve played this game before. I had both Colts up when the shirtless man slammed into me, and he took both barrels up under his ribs.
The rounds blew out through his shoulders and took most of his lungs with them.
The last man sprinted toward me as his comrade collapsed, and I reversed my grip on the Colts. I side-stepped his outstretched hands and smashed the butts of the revolvers into his temple, cracking open his skull.
Dog returned, his muzzle damp with blood once more, and glanced up at me. “Shall I, Blood?”
I shook my head. “No. I’ve questions. Perhaps one of them will answer.”
“And if they don’t?”
“Then I’ll ask hard,” I replied and reloaded the Colts.
I took my knife out of the sheath, checked the edge and asked, “Who is with Gao?”
Neither replied and so took hold of the shirtless man by the hair.
When I was comfortable, I asked again.
And I asked hard.