Frontline 2: A good point

Posted May 16th 2004

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with more from the enigmatic ringworld Halo. And as you join us, ace reporter Suzie Hoffenblatt finds herself in a lush green valley of cliffs and streams, eyeball to eyeball with a genuine reptilian nasty at the entrance to a narrow canyon. Frontline stories from across the Galaxy, here on Radio WRKX. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Mr Jackal, welcome, it's good of you to talk with us.

Mr J: Anytime Suzie. Nice to meet you. How do you like the place?

Suzie: Oh very pleasant and rustic. Have you been here long?

Mr J: A few hours. Had a bit of a stroll around. Have you seen the stream? That's a lovely feature.

Suzie: Er, yes, actually I fell into it briefly on the way over. Wrong shoes.

Mr J: Dear me. So you don't normally look like that?

Suzie: Not if I can help it, no.

Mr J: Course we never really have that 'wrong shoes' problem, what with the hooves and everything. Very hard-wearing they are, and more grippy than you'd think. How about the waterfalls? Quite a few around here. See that hillock way off in the distance?

Suzie: I can just make that out, yes.

Mr J: Big waterfall just below that. Got a few mates over there too, walking about keeping a lookout. That's Jake on the hilltop. And see down to the right here? Another waterfall there. Goes straight off the edge, real sudden. Vooom! Down for miles. You wouldn't want to slip overthere!

Suzie: No absolutely, that's a monster.

Mr J: Sure you're not thinking of my pal Jake? Hah hah! Bit of an in-joke there with us Jackals. Never could resist that one.

Suzie: Yes, very witty. So here you are in the middle of, well, nowhere frankly. My question has to be: why?

Mr J: Not entirely sure to be honest Suzie. But if I see anything, I'm pretty damn sure I'll point at it.

Suzie: Yes… is that effective then?

Mr J: Very rarely, to be honest. In fact, more often than not you get a bullet in the hide before you've even finished, which is seriously annoying. Downright rude as well. But we live in hope. Once in a while you'll psyche 'em out. Cos it's not just any old pointing you know. We put years of training into it. I mean, when we point at you, you really know you've been pointed at!

Suzie: Really.

Mr J: Oh yes. Friend of mind pointed at me once, and I nearly wet myself. And he was half way across the valley! He's one of the best though - came second in the last year's nationals. Some of the younger chaps haven't a clue. Got one lad down here on cadet training; cannot point for his life! Hopeless he is. You'd think he was just waving a claw in the air. Never scare anyone off like that.

Suzie: Dear me, that's poor. Would you show me how it's really done?

Mr J: Would I? Suzie, I'd be honoured. Haven't pointed at anything for a couple of days now actually, so I could really do with the practice. Just stand back a bit…

Suzie: Will this do?

Mr J: That's it. Now, act all innocent like you're just walking over here without having seen me…

Suzie: Ok here I come…

Mr J: And, wait for it… now I'm going to point!

Suzie: Oooh my goodness gracious! I see what you mean. That really sent a shiver down my spine. And back up again I think.

Mr J: Ah, the coveted 'double-whammy!' So I haven't lost my touch after all.

Suzie: No indeed, that was an excellent demonstration. And if only this had been TV and not radio, it would have made sense to bother with it. But never mind, I'm sure our listeners will take it from me that it was really quite genuinely scary.

Mr J: The pleasure was all mine, Suzie.

Suzie: I'm sure. But if I can bring something else up, there seems to be a canyon entrance behind you there.

Mr J: A canyon what? God you're right! That's enormous. Nicely spotted Suzie. You've got a pretty keen pair of eyes for a human then.

Suzie: Well, the vast enormity did give me a bit of a clue. Not to mention the two giant blue flashing neon lights just there.

Mr J: The flashing what? Oh geez, you're right again! You know, once this is all over and we've wiped you out and everything, there could be a job for you in scouting and recon. You're a natural. Any good at pointing?

Suzie: I could work on it I suppose, although I'm thinking that it may be difficult on account of the 'wiping out' clause you mentioned. But as I was saying, there's a canyon entrance behind you, and I was wondering if that might be why you're here perhaps.

Mr J: You know, I think you might be right Suzie. I'd forgotten about that, I'd been standing here so long. Yeah, it's coming back now. I'm guarding the entrance. So, I guess my work's a bit better defined then. I'll point first, and then if that doesn't work, I'll have a go on the old plasma pistol.

Suzie: Sounds a formidable plan. And this glowing dustbin lid affair you've got, will that come into it?

Mr J: Oh you mean the shield? Hah, I see what you mean: dustbin lid, that's a good one. I'll tell that one to Jake later. Yeah I'll probably use the shield as well. Actually it comes in damn handy when somebody's trying to kill you, which is pretty often when you've got a face like this, to be honest. Got these little holes in the side too, so you can shoot out of 'em.

Suzie: That's ingenious.

Mr J: It is. Got designed specially at Bungli Studios over on Dremnod 5 just before we came out.

Suzie: Bungli Studios? Are they any good?

Mr J: The best. And they did a top notch job with this gizmo I can tell you. It can really take a whacking. And just look at these glowing wavy patterns you get across it.

Suzie: Oooh those are lovely.

Mr J: They are. Gives us something to look at sometimes when we're standing around forgetting what we're doing there. And look here, try giving it a knock…

Suzie: Is it dangerous?

Mr J: Nah, go on, whack it with the microphone.

Suzie: Ok… hey it went ping! And sort of all flashy.

Mr J: Yeah, nice eh? Actually maybe a bit too nice if you concentrate on it too much when you're looking through it. Friend of mine hypnotized himself that way once when he was under fire on Spogglehop 3. Almost got his head blown off before we snapped him out of it. Anyway, we might be getting a new design soon actually. I just hope we can still use 'em for Frisbees.

Suzie: Yes, that would be useful. But coming back to the canyon entrance you're guarding, have you any idea what's at the other end?

Mr J: Oh, I seem to recall there's some sort of fracas going on. It was something to do with extermination, I remember that much.

Suzie: Oooh dear.

Mr J: I imagine it'll be over soonish. I heard a dropship going over a while back; that'll probably do the trick.

Suzie: Although you can never be too sure…

Mr J: Oh I think we've probably got this one in the bag Suzie. If the Elites don't get 'em then the Grunts will bite their kneecaps off. Vicious little blighters. In fact I've got half a mind to bunk off early and have a splash about in that stream.

Suzie: Yes, I think you'll find it quite bracing if recent memory serves.

Mr J: Still, I suppose I'd better stay here in case one of the Elites turns up to check. They can be awfully strict about things like that you know. Shouting and everything.

Suzie: You could always point at him…

Mr J: Are you kidding? He'd blast my head off! You don't mess with those fellows, I'm telling you. Especially the reds. I don't know what those guys eat for breakfast but whatever it is, it seems to put them in a hellishly bad mood for the rest of the day.

Suzie: That's a pity. Still, you've got your friends over the valley, so it's not all bad.

Mr J: Not all bad no. A lot of standing around doing nothing, but it's not all bad. And another thing… Hold on, listen to that! Gunfire! Heh, I bet that's our guys stickin' it to those scumbag earthlings. No offence.

Suzie: None taken I'm sure. Although, I have heard reports that there's something loose in the valley that's a bit too hot for "your guys" to handle.

Mr J: No way! We'll sort it.

Suzie: Well, from the sound of that approaching gunfire, I'm fairly sure that something is going to get sorted shortly. So at this juncture I think I'll make a hasty departure after saying thanks again for your time Mr Jackal.

Mr J: Suzie, it's been fun.

Suzie: Oh, and Mr Jackal?

Mr J: Yah?

Suzie: Don't forget to point…