Blood made a mottled mask of the bearded face of the mucker. He could only glare in surprise at the words. Then their import struck home and he started for the little fellow.

Theres one thing in common with all muckers. They're usually muscle-bound. All their work is done with their shoulders and legs. Benton was no exception. He moved like a milk-heavy cow.

I whirled on my stool, sending a stiffened arm at the end of which was a very bony elbow, into the midriff of the big guy. He doubled up with a howl of pain. It was long enough for me to get to my feet.

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We were about the same height but the resemblance ended. He outweighed me by twenty pounds at least. And he was more muscular in the right places. But he was slow. And that was my ace in the hole, my speed.

I shoved my hand against the top of his head trying to get him off balance. It was a mistake which almost ended the fight before it had more than started. He shot both hands to the one I had on his hair, and jerked down, at the same time butting upward with his head.

I ducked, that is partly; his head caught me a glancing blow along the cheekbone and ripped the flesh as though he had used a knife. It was a good thing I was wearing cleated boots. Even as I went back I kicked sideways, the cleats catching him just below the kneecap and again almost doubling him up.

I heard the sound of Jennie's scream as my blood spattered the counter when I whipped my head to clear it of the pain-fog. Then I could see clearly again. And Bull was charging in. I danced out of the way and as he went past, I clipped him but good. He half-fell against the counter almost knocking it over. Once more there was the high-pitched sound of Jennie's voice. But I heard it only in the back of my mind. Because I was busy trying to wear my knuckles down on Bull's jaw. He grunted every time I hit him, but those thick legs of his kept moving him forward. His arms were high, he was wide-open, and I was slugging the hell out of the guy, but he kept coming in for more. I knew what he wanted, to get me in the circle of those arms. And what they'd do to me once they got me there.

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One eye was closed where I hit him with a straight right. But the other was staring with a fearful intensity into mine as he moved forward. I feinted with my left. Instinctively he blinked, and I started a right hook with all the power at my command, straight for the button... And fell over one of the spectator's legs. I landed hard enough to knock the breath right out of me.

And Bull was over me, his arms still hooked, his body bent at the waist. I could see he was going to give me the miner's knockout, jump on me with both cleated boots. And he wasn't going to hit me in the belly. It was my face he was after. I saw his tongue come out in curious concentration, saw his pants belly out as the huge leg muscles contracted in their jumping movement, and saw him suddenly topple sideways.

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Neural Network Novellas: Wanted - Dead Man #3