Frontline 16: Head Monstrosity

Posted March 9th 2006

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with a special report from onboard the Flood infested 'Truth and Reconciliation' located somewhere on the surface of that deadly ring of danger, Halo. And this time our courageous reporter Suzie has pulled out all the stops to track down the unfortunate Captain Keyes, decorated veteran commander of the fallen Pillar of Autumn, now missing presumed captured for the second time. And by the sound of it, he's not in the best of shape. Deep inside the ship, our gal with the mike has found some sort of oversized gurgling monstrosity splashed across a control panel. Could this be him? The latest breaking developments, brought to you only by Radio WRKX. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Captain Keyes?

Keyes: In a manner of speaking, yes.

Suzie: I wasn't sure at first. You look a bit different from what I was expecting.

Keyes: It's true, I am out of uniform just at the moment.

Suzie: Out of uniform, yes, but actually I was thinking more of all the green goo and the tentacles growing out of your disembodied head.

Keyes: Oh, you noticed that?

Suzie: Well, you learn to pick up on the little details in my job. Suzie Hoffenblatt, Radio WRKX.

Keyes: A reporter eh? We haven't had many of those around here. It's mostly just my Flood buddies. See any of the guys on your way here?

Suzie: Oh lots; they gave me directions. But they didn't say anything about this new look of yours.

Keyes: Yes, it wasn't something I'd planned, but after I got caught by the Flood they explained their side of things and in the end we were getting on so well that they offered me a job as Head Monstrosity with complete control of this ship. So here I am.

Suzie: …melded to the control panel.

Keyes: Absolutely. Got everything under direct control from neural impulses here, which is great. No need for any huffy little AI construct questioning my every command like before. God she used to annoy me sometimes!

Suzie: I had no idea.

Keyes: Oh yes. I told her to recalibrate the sensors once, and would she do it? Like hell she would. Just started complaining about being taken for granted or something and went on about how I never said "please". This from a glorified chunk of computer code! So then I really snapped and threatened to download her into the recycling unit.

Suzie: Oh dear. Bad move.

Keyes: I'll say! She was on strike for a week after that, glowering at me from her holographic projection unit, tapping her foot, arms folded. Wouldn't say a word. Just drifting in space we were, at the mercy of her shipwide control. No running water, no power for the mess canteen stoves, no nothing. Whole crew had to live off cheese and crackers from the emergency supplies.

Suzie: Gosh, that was some huff.

Keyes: Jumped-up little binary strumpet!

Suzie: Er, quite. But you eventually made up?

Keyes: I'm not sure that's quite the right word for it, but yes she did get back to work again. But only after I promised her a top-of-the-line new projection unit and some new hairstyle subroutines to play with. Talk about vanity. Plus I had to address her as "Princess Cortana Your Grand Imperial Highness" for a month, which sounds completely ridiculous when all you want to ask for is a sensor sweep or something. Made me the laughing stock of the crew.

Suzie: Dear me, that must have been galling.

Keyes: That's putting it mildly Suzie. Snickering behind my back all the time they were. So anyway, you can see why I jumped at the chance of a new ship.

Suzie: Oh absolutely. A captain needs some respect.

Keyes: Damn right, and I get plenty here. Splendid place too. Gotta hand it to the Covenant, they really know how to kit a place out.

Suzie: Yes they've done an excellent job. Maybe they went a bit heavy on the purple.

Keyes: Possibly, possibly.

Suzie: But overall very nice. Are they still around? I didn't see any.

Keyes: Oh they're still here alright Suzie, but with a good deal more tentacles and stuff growing out of them.

Suzie: Ah, your 'Flood buddies' gave them the once-over eh?

Keyes: And the twice-over in some cases; they're awfully keen. In fact we're pretty much on a major recruiting campaign. Did you see the posters in the corridor?

Suzie: "You can be goo too"?

Keyes: That's the one. Tempted?

Suzie: Not immediately no, but if I ever want to change my image I'll be sure to keep the offer in mind.

Keyes: Not completely sold on it eh?

Suzie: Well, the 'goo and tentacles' look isn't really in fashion at the moment, but you never know what they'll come up with on the catwalks next season.

Keyes: That's the spirit. I'm sure a couple of tentacles would look super on a girl like you. And maybe if we offset your head at right angles and give you the full gloopy once-over like me… yes, I just can picture it now and it's looking mighty good. You know, there'd be room on this control panel for a good-lookin' goo-ball like that, if you're interested.

Suzie: That's awfully flattering Captain Keyes, but no I think I'll steer clear of the whole tentacle thing for now. Rest assured, if I change my mind you'll be the first to know.

Keyes: I came on too strong didn't I.

Suzie: It was a bit sudden. I'd say start with flowers first.

Keyes: Right, I'll remember that. Flowers first, tentacles later. Got it. Oh well, it was worth a try; a captain's life can be a lonely one. Still, it's a pity we can't tempt you; you could've come with us.

Suzie: You're going somewhere?

Keyes: Oh yes. That's why they recruited me. I'm busy coordinating shipwide repairs so we can get this thing off the ground and start the expansion into space. A galaxy of goo, that's what we're hoping to create.

Suzie: A whole galaxy! Sounds ambitious.

Keyes: Very ambitious Suzie. That's why I found their offer of a job so hard to refuse. Well, that and the fact that half a dozen spores were nibbling on me at the time. Heh, gotta love those little guys eh?

Suzie: Actually I had to introduce a few of them to the business end of my microphone on the way here. They're awfully jumpy.

Keyes: Yes, there's no keeping those guys down. Very playful.

Suzie: I suppose you could put it like that. But this repair work; I didn't see anyone who looked like they'd be terribly handy with a monkey-wrench or anything.

Keyes: Yes, that is a bit of a problem I have to admit. Most of the guys wouldn't know a monkey-wrench if you whacked them across the head with it. That's if they've got a head of course. But luckily we've got a few ex-engineers, and although they're a good bit greener and gooier now, they can still just about cope with the basics. Should be enough to get us off the ground.

Suzie: I see. So, how long before the work's done?

Keyes: Oh, it shouldn't be more than a few days before we're gurgling off into space. Can't wait.

Suzie: The Covenant might not like you taking their ship though; you could be in for a fight before long.

Keyes: No trouble Suzie. Got some of our top combat gurglers on board, all ready to dish out a hiding. They should make pretty short work of anyone who turns up. We've got things lurking all over the place.

Suzie: I noticed. But I've got an idea Master Chief might be trying to stop you at some point as well; the UNSC frowns on space-borne goo.

Keyes: That oversized tin can? Huh, I'd say he's well past his sell-by date. When I thawed him out of the freezer he was supposed to save the Pillar of Autumn, and we all know how that turned out. Never did want him on board really. Seems to me like all he did was run around lobbing grenades about and generally wrecking the place. You should see what he did to some of the paintwork! Damn hooligan.

Suzie: You sound bitter.

Keyes: Well, just because he comes with a metal coating and a shiny visor, he gets all the attention. Hero my gooey ass! I did my best to keep the damage down by starting him off with nothing but an empty pistol, but would you believe it, he stumbles into a spare ammo clip just around the corner, and Blam! Blam! Blam! - he's off like a bull in a china shop.

Suzie: Dear me, that does sound excessive. But I suppose he was just making up for lost time after such a long while in the freezer.

Keyes: Not long enough if you ask me! Mind you, on the positive side, he did give me an excuse to finally get that stroppy AI out of my hair. Fed the little viper straight into his battle suit first chance I got, heh! She'll be driving the poor sucker crazy by now I shouldn't wonder.

Suzie: Actually I think they get on rather well together.

Keyes: Gahhh! Can't catch a break! Well, we'll turn him into Flood goo anyway. That'll take the shine off his visor.

Suzie: It certainly would. Well Captain, you're obviously a busy many-tentacled ball of gloop, so I'd best get out of your way now and let you get on with it.

Keyes: Been a pleasure Suzie. Hey, be sure to take one of those posters with you in case you change your mind. And if you see your friend Mr Cyborg Hero and his other half, send them right along and we'll soon see who has the last laugh.

Suzie: We will indeed Captain, we will indeed.