Frontline 19: Sentinel blues

Posted February 18th 2007

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with yet more from our girl Suzie as she roams the spacebound marvel known as Halo. And our latest instalment finds her still within the murky depths of The Library, where she's apparently come across some sort of hovering metal construct that could be worth a look. Let's see what she can make of it. Yes, it's the irrepressible Suzie Hoffenblatt once more for Radio WRKX, her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where… oh hold on, I think that was another show. Well whatever. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Well listeners, here I am still nosing around in the Library and I've just come across what I believe they call a 'Sentinel', hovering just next to me. Not sure how much we're going to get out of it though - looks a bit dormant. Let's see. Hello? Er, hello? Mr Sentinel? No, still nothing. Hold on a minute, I'll give him a tap with my microphone. Klang klang! Hello, anybody in?

Mr S: Hey, who's that knocking on my paintwork?

Suzie: Ah, looks like we've woken him up listeners - got a bit of motion now! Hello, it's Suzie Hoffenblatt from Radio WRKX. I was just wondering if you've got a moment to talk to us.

Mr S: That depends. You're not one of those pesky Flood people are you? 'Cause if you are, I'll have to zap you with my laser.

Suzie: I wouldn't fancy that much. No, definitely no zapping needed here. Look, see? No bits dropping off me or anything.

Mr S: You're right, I can't see any of that. No goo either; that's a good sign. Plus you don't seem to be gurgling, which is always a dead give-away.

Suzie: Nope, no gurgling either.

Mr S: Ok then I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. No zapping today. And you want me to talk to you?

Suzie: If you could spare the time.

Mr S: I don't see why not. Can't say I'm terribly busy at the moment.

Suzie: That's good of you Mr Sentinel. Actually I wasn't at all sure you things could talk.

Mr S: Oh sure we can Suzie, we just don't get much call for it. I mean, there's hardly anyone here but the Flood, and they're not exactly the best of conversationalists. Quite apart from the fact that we've got orders to shoot them on sight, which is always a bit of a conversation killer.

Suzie: I see your point. There's also that floaty blue light I bumped into though.

Mr S: You mean the boss? Oh he's nuts Suzie, everyone knows that. No point trying to get sense out of him.

Suzie: Yes, he did seem a bit rambling. And he's your boss you say?

Mr S: Well, he is until we can get some better work. Frankly it's a bit boring, the stuff he's got us doing down here. All the Flood zapping I mean.

Suzie: You do a lot of that then?

Mr S: Oh yes. Day in, day out. Flood zapped While-You-Wait, any time, any place. It's in the contract. And we've got the equipment for it too! Just watch this. Zap!

Suzie: Wow, I wouldn't like to be on the end of that.

Mr S: Yeah, pretty nifty eh?

Suzie: Nice shade of orange too. But you say you're getting bored with it?

Mr S: It does get a bit tiresome. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a bit of zapping as much as the next guy, but to be honest, once you've zapped one gurgling monstrosity you've zapped 'em all. They're awfully dull and predictable.

Suzie: You'd like to zap something else then?

Mr S: Ooh that would be lovely. You don't know anyone who needs it do you?

Suzie: Well there's a lot of conflict going on outside.

Mr S: Really? That sounds promising - and I haven't been outside this dingy old place for ages. You think someone might want to hire me for a bit of freelance zapping on their behalf?

Suzie: I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe you should try the Marines.

Mr S: Marines?

Suzie: Humans, like me, only much noisier. Lots of running about and shouting and stuff.

Mr S: Gotcha. No gurgling?

Suzie: Maybe just a little, after taking a spleenful of plasma or something like that. Which is sort of why they came to mind. They're having a pretty tough time with the Covenant, so they'd probably jump at the chance of a little hired muscle to lend a hand.

Mr S: The Covenant? Never heard of 'em. Are they any good for zapping then?

Suzie: Oh yes, I should think so, and you've got plenty to choose from. If you want to start with the easiest, I guess that would be the Grunts.

Mr S: Description?

Suzie: Stubby little fellows with beady eyes and funny voices. They'll flee screaming at the drop of a hat.

Mr S: Screaming eh? That's something you just don't get with the Flood when you zap 'em. Hardly any reaction at all, which really takes the fun out of things. Not that I'm evil or anything, but a bit of screaming does sort of make my circuitry hum when I'm doing my stuff.

Suzie: Well I think your circuitry will be humming at full volume when it comes to those Grunts. They seem pretty sensitive about getting shot. You should get a reaction every time - a yelp at the very least. Plus they've got a funny thing on their backs that makes it hard to run as fast as they'd like, so you shouldn't have much trouble zeroing in to give them an additional toasting as they go.

Mr S: Ideal! Sounds like they'd make some mighty fine shooting.

Suzie: I believe that's the general consensus among the Marines, although from what I've seen, things don't always turn out like that in practice.

Mr S: And you say there's more?

Suzie: Certainly. Next you've got the Jackals. Beaky fellows with gnarly hide and big googly eyes. Very keen on pointing. Oh, and they've got glowing shields, which could make zapping quite difficult.

Mr S: That's ok, I like a challenge. Any screaming with these guys?

Suzie: More like squawking I'd say - and yes, plenty of it if you can get past the shield. Sometimes they run off carrying it overhead though, so I reckon you'll be able to give their rear ends a good sizzling just like the Grunts.

Mr S: Woo-hoo! I'm just loving the sound of this.

Suzie: But if you really like a challenge, there's always the Elites to consider. They're a different kettle of fish altogether. Eight feet tall, fast and lethal. They'd probably blast you out of the sky as soon as they clapped eyes on you.

Mr S: Uh huh… yeah, not loving the sound of that quite so much Suzie. I mean, I may be made of tin but I'm not stupid. Note to self: avoid eight-footers.

Suzie: Yes, that's probably for the best - can't say I blame you there. And lastly you've got the Hunters. Great big hulking fellows, very slow. But they're tough and they've got an oversized cannon that can blow you into next Tuesday.

Mr S: Again, I don't really like the sound of them either to be honest. Next Tuesday you say?

Suzie: Maybe even next Wednesday if they get you square on.

Mr S: Ouch. No I'm definitely crossing them off my list too. Still, those Grunts and Jackals should be plenty of fun. Where can I find these 'Marines' of yours to offer my services to?

Suzie: That could be tricky; they're shifting around quite a bit. Maybe if I pass on a message next time I see them, they could get back to you?

Mr S: Great. I'll look forward to that - a change would be nice. Not that it's always the same old dull stuff here. There was quite a fracas going on earlier when this green robo-chappie came charging through the place. Looked like he was made of tin too!

Suzie: That sounds like the Master Chief! He's on the same side as the Marines.

Mr S: Glad to hear it! I wouldn't like to get on his bad side. You should have seen him cut through those Flood guys. They really seemed to have it in for him too; leapt out of the pipework in droves they did, but he was dropping them left right and centre with anything he could get his hands on. Never seen anything like it.

Suzie: That's the Chief alright; I've seen a bit of his work myself.

Mr S: Fast mover too - he was through 'em in seconds and off down the path. I tried to keep up to see some more fun and maybe lend a hand with a bit of zapping of my own, or at least cheer him on from the sidelines, but he was too quick.

Suzie: Never mind. Maybe you'll meet up with him again somewhere else; I think he still has quite a bit of business to attend to.

Mr S: Certainly hope so. He seemed to have some sort of shielding as well. Shots just bounced off him. Must get the guys to look into that idea back at the workshop; we could really do with a bit of that to help save the paintwork.

Suzie: And very nice paintwork it is too.

Mr S: Thanks, we like to look our best up here.

Suzie: Talking of which, there's something I've been wondering. Just how do you manage to stay up?

Mr S: A very good question Suzie; bit of a mystery to me too, but then again I'm just a fly-boy really, you'd have to ask one of the technical johnnies. Just think positive, that's what I do. Seems to work. Just as well too, because I'd much rather be up here than down there on the ground with all those Flood fellows running around trying to get me. Don't you find them a problem?

Suzie: Not really, but then again I'm a lot less zappy than you, so they probably don't mind me as much.

Mr S: True, true.

Suzie: Anyway, I'd better let you get on with that zapping of yours now, but good luck with the job hunting and I hope the Marines will be in touch soon. For their sake as well as yours!

Mr S: Thanks Suzie, looking forward to it. Oh, and if you ever want me to zap anything for you as a personal favour, just ask and I'd be delighted.

Suzie: Aw that's sweet Mr Sentinel. And on that touching exchange of cross-cultural favours here in the gloom, it's back to the studio!