As Scootaloo dropped to the ground, bits of bone and grey matter showered the general area around the minotaur. The rather explosive display of violence had indeed registered in her mind but she had given something else more notice, along with the rest of the enemy squad. Whatever had caused that minotaur's head to explode, had sounded like artillery. It was also as loud as artillery meaning everyone present was clutching their ears as pain radiated from the sides of their heads.
Well, everyone but Scootaloo. Yes, she did hear the explosion but she didn't care about the pain coming from her ears. She was still staring at the minotaur's headless corpse. More specifically, she was staring at the gear that the corpse still wore. The first thing her eyes had taken note of was the enormous knife that the body was still wearing.
Without a second thought, she dove down on top of the corpse and ripped the blade out of its sheath with both hooves. Jumping back up on her hooves, she got up in time to see that the griffon who had sliced her flag patch off of her uniform had recovered and started raising his rifle. Heart racing, she stabbed forward with the knife. While meant for minotaur hands, it's heft combined with the adrenaline pumping through her veins had given her enough strength to drive the knife into the griffon's chest.
With the knife buried to its hilt in his chest, the griffon fell to the ground. Breathing heavily, Scootaloo looked at the enemy soldier she had killed for a split second which gave the rest of the enemy squad enough time to finally take note of what Scootaloo had started doing.
That was when the second thunderous explosion deafened everyone which was then followed by the other minotaur dropping to the ground. Unlike his compatriot, his head hadn't exploded but his chest turned into a geyser of blood as a gaping hole appeared where his heart had been. This explosion, while just as loud as the previous one, had only caused everyone to flinch.
Scootaloo, who was still looking at the body of the griffon that she had killed, reached down and tried to grab the weapon that he had been armed with. This time, she had tried using her mouth and her luck caused her to miss the griffon's rifle. She still managed to grab something but whatever it was, it didn't feel like a weapon. Whatever was in her mouth not only felt smaller but was hard, metal, and round like a coin except it tasted like iron and seemed to be missing its center.
There was no time to try again. Moving her hooves as fast she could, she started sprinting away from the remains of the enemy squad. Just as the remaining three had started firing, Scootaloo had managed to find cover... Except it was the same broken pillar she was hiding behind earlier.
At first, she didn't notice but when she did, she simply just sat back down and readopted the seated fetal position she was using her. Before she started crying again, she noticed that she still had that round metal object still in her mouth.
Spitting it out in her right hoof, she examined it. Like it felt in her mouth, it was round and metal. In fact, it looked a lot like a steel or iron ring. A very large ring in fact. For some reason, there was a long, flat wire wrapped around it...
Realizing what it was, she covered both of her ears as an explosion rocked the general vicinity. She was still breathing rather heavily but she got back up on her hooves and walked out from behind her cover.
Seeing the bodies of the dead enemy soldiers, she immediately grabbed the nearest firearm among the bodies. To her surprise, the griffon that was clutching the rifle shuffled. Shocked, Scootaloo fell backward on her rump. To her relief, all that the griffon did was shuffle and gurgle. Getting back up, she looked at the griffon and noticed the injuries that he had sustained.
His body was absolutely shredded from the shrapnel that the grenade threw in the explosion. Whatever was left of his uniform had now only served to soak up all of the life essence that his veins were releasing. The once deadly talons that he wielded were now broken and unusable.
When he finally died, Scootaloo picked up the rifle he was clutching. Like her service rifle, it was a bolt action rifle but much, much longer. Bringing it up, she shouldered it. The iron sights were still intact and were a simple V notch and post design. She moved her hoof towards where the trigger should have been and felt something round and hard. Looking at the rifle, she noticed that there was a protective metal guard surrounded the rifle's trigger and unfortunately for her, this guard was preventing her from pulling the trigger with her hoof. Grinding her teeth, she tossed the rifle to the ground and started searching for a better weapon but not before taking two grenades off of the griffon's body.
Looking at the other weapons among the bodies, she noticed that all of them were wielding rifles that all had the same guard around the trigger. Grinding her teeth even more, she walked over to where her service rifle was which was in the ownership of the minotaur who had been shot in the heart. Just as she reached down to pick it up, it went off with the bullet nearly hitting her in the leg.
By now, she was grinding her teeth hard enough to reduce a diamond into very fine powder.
Working the bolt, she expended the cartridge out of her rifle. She paused for a second before leaning down to pick up the casing, stowing it in a pocket.
With time to breathe, she finally relaxed. "Can't believe that really happened" Scootaloo said as she picked up her Equestrian flag patch from where it laid. The patch, once proudly the symbol of her country, was now dirty and damaged from the explosion. She also stowed it, the same place as where she had stowed away that spent casing from earlier.
'What now?' Scootaloo thought. She really didn't know what to do and had no idea where she was. Earlier in the day, she had been on a patrol with her squad but they were ambushed hours after leaving the safety of her home base. She had no map and compass but it didn't really matter as she also had no navigational skills. Even worse, her squad wouldn't check in until three days from now so no search party would be sent. She would have to do this alone.
And to top it all off, her ears were still ringing in pain from the explosion earlier... Wait, what had started all of that from earlier? Bringing her rifle up, she searched the surrounding area. If he or she had been friendly, they would have called out by now. If they were hostile, she'd be dead. Who had done it?
Her rifle, while only loaded with hopes and dreams, was pointed at every destroyed storefront, pillar, dirt mount, and generally anything that could serve as concealment for whoever had helped her out.
That was the telltale sound of a bolt action rifle being worked. Turning around, she found herself faced with a minotaur... Only it wasn't a minotaur. Whatever he or she was, it was definitely strange and she lowered her rifle as she stared at it.
This creature was standing on two long legs, while looking like it was natural for it instead of some awkward stance that ponies did. Its shoulders weren't as broad as a minotaur but were still broad enough to be imposing. Attached to the shoulders were a set of arms that ended with hands, just like a minotaur's only his was nowhere near as muscular.
That's where similarities ended. The legs that it stood on looked almost completely straight. There was no curve like a minotaur's or griffon's legs, nor did they have the rearward bend like a pony's rear legs when standing up. At the end of its legs were a set of boots that, for some reason, extended outward into feet.
The creature's head was almost completely featureless; To be fair, a good amount of it was covered. Strapped to its head was a thick helmet and a bluish grey cloth covered its neck. The helmet it wore meant that it had no horns and probably didn't have a set of ears like any normal pony. Whatever mane it had, it was either short or nonexistent. The creature's face was something that she'd never think of as it was completely devoid of fur, except for eyebrows of course. The creature's eyes were definitely a surprise. They were small, thin, and shaped almost like almonds with a set of eyeglasses protecting and assisting them. Centered on its face was a nose, smaller than any she'd ever seen.
The rest of the creature's body was completely covered up. It was definitely wearing a uniform and a strange one at it. It was wearing pants and a coat, both of which were covered in splotches of grey and light tan. In addition to the coat, it was also wearing a vest. This vest was not any normal vest. Like the rest of its uniform, it colored and done in the same pattern. Besides that, it appeared to be heavily padded and had pieces connected to it that covered its groin region and upper arms. Attached to the front and sides of the vest were several pouches, the contents of which being a complete mystery.
And in its gloved hands was an absolutely massive bolt action rifle. The rifle's stock was made of a grey laminated wood stock and was absolutely void of any damage. Then, she noticed the scope mounted to it. It was the largest rifle scope that she had ever seen! It had a few other minor bits like a bipod and a sling but that didn't change how imposing it was.
Then, whatever it was, started walking towards her. Instinctively, she got up on her rear legs and brought her rifle back up with it aimed at the thing. The creature paused before continuing to walk towards her. She tried her best to be threatening but she was the opposite of intimidating. The difficulty of which was further exaggerated with her height, being only a head above his waist.
Slinging her rifle, she went back down to all four legs. What was the point? There wasn't much she could do now and if it had wanted to kill her, it would have by now. It was also likely that it was the one who helped her defeat that enemy squad.
The creature stared at her for a second before it walked over to one of the dead bodies of the griffons. It slung it's rifle over its shoulder and picked up the bolt action rifle of a griffon. Scootaloo watched as the creature went through the motion of chambering a new round, working the bolt to do so. It repeated this many times until the rifle's magazine was empty.
Holding it in one hand, the creature opened up one of the pouches on its vest and pulled out a small block of metal. It unfolded the block of metal to reveal a pair of pliers.
What was it doing?
Then, Scootaloo watched as it used the tool to rip off the curved metal guard that had been protecting the trigger. Now, it turned around and walked back over to her. The two once again face to face, sort of, but this time, the creature held up the rifle that it had modified. "Grab some ammo and let's go" he said in a clearly male voice.