"You had to stare at me longer, didn't you?" he said in a condescending voice.
Applejack glared back. So what if she had stared at him for a few extra seconds? It's not like it was the direct cause of the ambush they were dealing with (though it did provide the ambushers with enough time to find them). "Just shoot!" Applejack yelled, trying to get her voice through the auditory shroud of gunshots. A hole appeared in their cover (a brick wall) right beside her head, followed by a loud thunderous gunshot. "Fuck!" she cried as pulverized masonry showered her head. "Luna damned manticore rifles!"
"Manticore rifles?" her new ally said, puzzled at the mention of such an item. He kneeled down and poked his body out of cover (only slightly), firing his rifle at the general direction of their ambushers. "Bound up!"
Applejack stared at him. "What?"
Growling, he brought the entirety of his body back into the safety of cover. "Move up to a different piece of cover when I start firing!" he commanded.
She hated how she was being treated like she was wet behind the ears, but she needed the help. When her ally started firing out of cover (again), she sprinted out from the safety of the brick wall and to a pile of rubble. It was only ten meters, but it gave her an entirely different perspective on her attackers.
There were six of them total, two were minotaurs and the rest were griffons. All but one were armed with various bolt action rifles (pretty standard). The sixth, a minotaur, was armed with a manticore rifle. A manticore rifle (if you haven't guessed it by now) was a rifle designed for taking out manticores. They were typically double barrel rifles chambered in a round much larger than the ones used in normal military rifles.
The covering fire her ally provided had obscured the knowledge of her new position. Here, all six of them were exposed even when they were taking cover. Smiling, Applejack unloaded her shotgun and leaned it against the pile of rubble (her cover). Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes.
A single heartbeat later, her eyes shot open and she drew her Colt Single Action Army. In the time span of a second and a half, she fanned the hammer and emptied the six round cylinder of her Colt Single Action Army. Albeit hip firing, she hadn't missed a single shot.
Naturally, all four griffons succumbed to their gunshots. The minotaurs, on the other hand, barely flinched. "Oh shit" she deadpanned. Diving to cover, she barely made it as both minotaurs open fired. Heart racing, Applejack grabbed her double barrel shotgun and loaded a fresh pair of shells into it.
A stick grenade landed in front of her.
She stared at it for a second before jumping over the pile of rubble that she was hiding behind. Climbing back up to her hooves, she felt a bullet slam into her barrel. One of the steel plates inside her coat stopped the bullet but the impact knocked her to the ground.
"Get to cover!" screamed her ally. He brought up his rifle and pulled the trigger.
"Well fuck!" he exclaimed. He let the rifle drop flat against his chest before immediately drawing and firing a revolver. The one with the manticore rifle took the round to the chest but barely reacted to the impact. "Fucking die already!" he yelled while firing three more rounds.
Applejack immediately ran back behind the same pile of rubble. She hadn't noticed it earlier but both minotaurs were wearing armor. While they didn't wear helmets, some (usually officers) wore breastplates that protected their torsos. These were capable of stopping most rifle rounds. Both minotaurs started advancing towards her position, ignoring the clouds of buckshot that Applejack had sent towards them.
Her ally fired four more times from his revolver before he ducked down into the safety of his cover. "Fuck me," Applejack said as she exposed the breech of her boomstick. While reloading, two thunderous gunshots washed through her ears. Both were absolutely the single loudest gunshots she had ever heard, louder than the report of a manticore rifle!
She poked out from behind her cover, shotgun ready. "What in Tartarus?" Both minotaurs were dead, lying face first on the ground. From here, she could see two massive holes in their upper backs. A bullet, a big one at that, had punched right through their armor.
Standing behind both of the bodies was another member of whatever species her new ally was. This one was much taller and wore a similar uniform, only his was grey. Oh, and he was armed with an absolute artillery piece of a sidearm. Even from this far away, the revolver's bore diameter was apparent. She thought her .45 caliber Colt Single Action Army was a large caliber handgun but that thing? Well, her sidearm felt incontinent now.
Her new ally was surprised at the sight of his presence. "Tran?!" he exclaimed.
I lowered my revolver. "Eric?!" I exclaimed. Eric was my friend, someone that I had met in the Army. Unlike me, he was wearing the OCP version of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and his wasn't a flight crew uniform.
He was also not wearing the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) body armor, instead wearing the Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS). The SPCS was a much lighter alternative to the IOTV because it had a lot less features than the IOTV. The SPCS had no arm/deltoid protectors, groin protector, lower back protector, any kevlar whatsoever, and throat/neck protector. His SPCS had the front and back plate but appeared to be lacking the sideplates. The SPCS was 10 pounds lighter than the IOTV and much easier to move in. If you don't think 10 pounds is much of a difference, you've clearly never done a road march beyond 15 miles.
There was a rifle slung across his chest, most likely a variant of an AKs74 (well there's the source of those gunshots). It looked rather bare as there were no extra attachments on it, other than the polymer furniture and the skeleton side folding stock.
"Is that an AK74?" I asked him.
He holstered his revolver and grabbed it, swapping the current magazine. He chambered a round into the rifle and held it up. "Yeah. Funny thing, it's-"
"Your own personal one from home?" I said, cutting him off.
He gave me a questioning look but then noticed my hand cannon. "You too?" He let the AK fall flat against his chest before drawing a revolver. Both of us dropped the cylinder to our S&W revolvers and replaced the spent rounds. "Got that Smith and Weston R8 like I said."
"Wesson," I corrected. "Smith and Wesson."
"Tomayto, tomahto," he responded. He glanced at my revolver. "Is that the 500?" I smiled and nodded. "Jesus! What are you doing with that?!" I held it up to my eyes and shrugged. "So what else do you have?" I turned slightly to reveal the sniper rifle on my back. ".338 Lapua Mag?"
He holstered his revolver and took hold of his AK. "Okay."
I heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. I immediately pointed my revolver at the source. When I saw the orange pony (a stetson, really?), I lowered my handgun. "Hello."
"Hello," the orange pony replied. "Why in Celestia's name do you have that cannon for?!"