“I’ve got your back, John,” Cassie said.

His displays flashed with recommendations and target locks.

“Never doubted it for a second,” Christensen said and sprang back to his feet. He lined the rifle in his right hand up on one enemy quad, waited a moment for the display to flash a target lock, and pulled the trigger. The secondary barrel glowed with electromagnetic energy for an instant before spitting out a single high explosive round that shot across the Martian landscape faster than the speed of sound. The kinetic energy alone was enough to breach the armor of anything but the heaviest enemy tanks. He would have needed a proper armor-piercing warhead to take one of them out, but the unarmored quad and its rider were an entirely different matter. It was akin to beating a piñata with a sledgehammer.

The other quads opened fire and rounds bounced off his armor or sent showers of red Martian dirt into the air all around him.

Christensen rode the recoil and turned away from the exploding quad. He stepped up onto the rim of the small crater, bringing the heavy rifle in his left hand to aim at another target. He pulled that trigger, kinetic energy flashed, and his second target exploded. He rode the recoil once more and brought the first rifle down on a third target. A stream of enemy rounds smashed into it and sparks filled his view. Powerful electromagnetic coils crackled their energy all over the Martian landscape. His display flashed red warning signs as the rifle fried itself to death in his hand.


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