Frontline 20: All the fun of the fair

Posted February 25th 2007

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with a special report from the battle-weary Halo. Ever resourceful, our ace reporter Suzie Hoffenblatt has tracked down the smouldering wreckage that was the once proud 'Pillar of Autumn'. I wonder what she's found inside. Bringing you the latest sizzling news from the embers of destruction, it's Radio WRKX as always. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Well here I am on the Pillar of Autumn and I have to report that it's looking somewhat the worse for wear. I've just been through most of the ship and it's safe to say that the old bird is going to need more than just a few tins of paint before she flies again. The Covenant and Flood seem to be fighting all over the place, and the Monitor and his hovering minions are in on it too, making things a pretty chaotic three way free-for-all. I've just taken a ride up in a huge elevator and… hold on a minute, what's this up ahead? Seems to be a bay of Warthogs, and there's a gurgling freak walking around with a megaphone.

Mr F: Roll up, roll up! Crazy stunt dodgem course! All the fun of the fair! Everyone aboard who's coming aboard! Free bag of crispy-fried Grunt nuggets with every ride - get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely!

Suzie: Er, hello? Mr Flood?

Mr F: Aha! Another customer! And who might this lovely young lady be?

Suzie: Uh, Suzie Hoffenblatt reporting for Radio WRKX.

Mr F: A reporter eh? Delighted to see you missy, and you're in luck: still half a dozen working Warthogs left! Care to pick one out for the ride of your life? Better hurry, the carnival can't last forever.

Suzie: The carnival?

Mr F: Carnival, fair, call it what you like. Yeah, we like to have a bit of winding-down time up here, us and the covies. Got a few of ol' Sparky's hovering laser-boys to join in too. I mean, usually it's nothing but shooting and gurgling all day long on this ship, and it does get a bit tiresome to be honest, so we rigged up this little thrill-ride for a bit of fun when we want a break.

Suzie: How enterprising. And they put you in charge?

Mr F: Sure did. Well, I already had this megaphone see?

Suzie: That's a whopper.

Mr F: Absolutely. It's a Gurglemaster 3. Top of the line for extra-loud gurgling. You can gurgle for miles with this thing!

Suzie: I bet you can.

Mr F: So anyway, fancy a ride then? Love to have you along, we don't get many celebrities here. No charge - I'll drive you myself.

Suzie: Well, I suppose that's an offer I can hardly refuse. Is it safe?

Mr F: Oh yes, very safe. Only five punters killed so far.

Suzie: You call that safe?

Mr F: Hey don't knock it. On a ship like this it's good odds. Come on, choose your hog.

Suzie: Well ok then, how about this one?

Mr F: Old 'Spluttering Betty' eh? That's a mighty bold choice missy, I admire your pluck. Not many would've dared to ride with a choppy engine and loose wheel nuts. Still, if I keep the pedal down and we pray for dear life, we should have at least a fifty-fifty chance of clearing the jump at the end.

Suzie: Ah. This may have been a mistake listeners.

Mr F: Nonsense Suzie. Besides, it's not as if the wheels have fallen off that often. Here, let's get you into the passenger seat. There we go. Buckle up!

Suzie: Um, that's a bit difficult - there's no seat-belt.

Mr F: Hah, yeah you get all the thrill of the open road with these babies eh? Oh, and I almost forgot, here's your free bag of crispy-fried Grunt nuggets.

Suzie: Mmm, yummy.

Mr F: Now let me just radio ahead to get things ready. Calling all stations, calling all stations, this is Gurglefreak One. Be advised, fresh rube coming through, and she's a reporter so let's make a good impression people. Flood buddies, I want to hear some major gurgling! Covie freaks, let's see that plasma fly. And hover-boys, get those lasers zapping, let's give the lady a good show. Over and out.

Suzie: Plasma? Lasers?

Mr F: All part of the thrill Suzie. You're ok at ducking, right?

Suzie: Ulp. Heads down listeners, this could get nasty.

Mr F: Besides, it's the explosions you should worry about.

Suzie: Explosions?

Mr F: And we're off! Hold on Suzie, sharp left coming up!

Suzie: I see it… yow, that was sharp. Hey, Covenant and Flood ahead. Looks like they're fighting each other, and we're driving right into the thick of it!

Mr F: Pretty realistic eh? That actually takes a lot of practice you know. Nice work guys, appreciate it!

Suzie: Yes, very good. Looks like a steep climb ahead. Hey, we're heading for a wave of your little bubble folk now.

Mr F: Yeah we've got 'em swarming down the slope just as the ride goes up. Nice timing eh? Very dramatic. Watch out fellas, here we come!

Suzie: Look out!


Mr F: Oops, got one. Oh well, plenty more where that came from. Ok, levelling out now. Steel tunnel coming up. Couple more of my pals up there above the entrance. And… duck!


Suzie: Pals who are shooting at us!

Mr F: Aw don't worry about them Suzie, that was just a lucky shot. They couldn't hit the side of a barn door from six paces.

Suzie: That's almost reassuring. Hey, watch out for those carriers waddling along the tunnel.

Mr F: Aha, spore-daddies, right on cue. Actually I think it's them that need to watch out for us Suzie. Comin' through!

Suzie: Just missed them.

Mr F: Don't worry, I'll get 'em next time, heh heh. Ok, bit of a flyover coming up; better get a bit of speed up for this ramp or we'll never clear the gaps.

Suzie: Gaps? Oh lordy, when you said it's a bit of a flyover you weren't kidding were you!

Mr F: Not to worry, it's only a thirty foot drop if we don't make it.

Suzie: Is that all? Well, that's ok then.

Mr F: That's the spirit. Up we go and whoosh… made it across the first gap.

Suzie: That explosion almost blew us to kingdom come!

Mr F: Yeah, we've got a few of those laid on for you. Good stuff eh? Sloping down across another gap now… wheeee… and into the tunnel. Hey, you going to eat any of those Grunt nuggets or what?

Suzie: I'm not sure I'd be able to keep them down to be honest. In fact I may be getting a second look at my breakfast pretty soon at this rate. Would you like a nugget?

Mr F: Thanks, don't mind if I do - they're delicious. Of course, normally we reform Grunts into those waddling great spore-daddies, but now and again we like to do a bit of a slice 'n dice, and fry things up nice and crispy for a snack.

Suzie: Tasty.

Mr F: Damn straight. Actually we're thinking about marketing them once we get off this ring. Hey, double jump coming up; this is a good bit, plus we've laid on a bit of a light-show for you. Check out the hover-boys zapping our guys with their lasers.

Suzie: Don't they mind?

Mr F: Nah, they just tickle a bit. Nice work people; looks great! Go on, give 'em a wave Suzie.

Suzie: Er, thanks everyone, nice meeting you!

Mr F: And here we go up the first ramp: Wheeee… and the next. Hope you're enjoying this.

Suzie: Mostly I'm just holding on for dear life.

Mr F: That's what we like to hear. This is one heck of a ride eh?

Suzie: Pretty wild yes. It's jolly lucky all these ramps and tunnels were here on this spaceship. Almost like someone wanted us to use it as a stunt course.

Mr F: That is lucky now you mention it. Hey, curvy section coming up; got a bit more fighting laid on for you too. So anyway, I'm wondering about slogans for the marketing campaign. How about "Grunt nuggets - grunty goodness in a bag"?

Suzie: Not bad.

Mr F: Or how about "Mmmm… fresh and grunty…".

Suzie: That has a certain ring to it.

Mr F: Or maybe "They're finger-lickin' good".

Suzie: There may be a copyright issue with that one. Watch out for those pillars!

Mr F: Gotcha. So I figure we'll run some commercials with a catchy jingle, and we'll have a close up of the all those meaty chunks getting fried up. Or how about a before-and-after sequence? We'll start off with a happy little Grunt toddling along without a care in the world, then suddenly half a dozen Flood buddies leap out and chop him up into little pieces. Then it's out with the frying pans, and before you know it, he's crispy-fried nuggets in a bag.

Suzie: That's some pretty appetizing imagery alright.

Mr F: Can I put you down for a few boxes then?

Suzie: Er, it's tempting but, um… hey look out, Grunts with needlers!

Mr F: Heh, speak of the devil. Special-ops guys too - they make the best nuggets of all!

Grunt 1: Ooh I heard that! Let him have it boys! Ftt-ftt-ftt-ftt-ftt!

Grunt 2: Everybody duck!

Mr F: Uh-oh, wasn't expecting that.

Suzie: Incoming!

Mr F: Hold on Suzie, got a bit of swerving to do.


Grunt 3: Casualty!

Suzie: Oh dear.

Mr F: Roadkill! That was fun eh? Nothing like a bit of surprise to get the juices flowing. Ok we're through 'em now.

Suzie: But I think there's more. Isn't that an Elite up ahead in a Shade turret? He doesn't look too happy with us.

Elite: Arrrr… roboman!

Mr F: Gah, how many times have I told him? I am NOT roboman, you toothy fool! Just because I'm in a Warthog and driving like a madman. Honestly Suzie, that guy is as thick as two planks. I've been through here a dozen times and he still hasn't got it. Ok better duck, here comes the pink plasma.

Pdoosh doosh doosh doosh!

Suzie: Yow!

Mr F: Hah, never touched us! Back to the firing range for you, squid-face!

Elite: Arrrr!

Suzie: Looks like we're still in one piece listeners. Maybe I'll live to broadcast another day after all. Hold on, what's this coming up now? This looks a bit more peaceful.

Mr F: Ah, the open-air section; I call it the 'promenade'. You'll like this. Here, I'll slow up so you can admire the view.

Suzie: Wow, it's a long way down - and I can see all the way outside.

Mr F: Yes, this is a great place for an evening stroll. Very relaxing after a hard day's gurgling. I don't suppose you'd be interested in a saunter later on, just the two of us?

Suzie: Er, thanks but I think I've got some other commitments.

Mr F: I'll throw in an extra bag of nuggets.

Suzie: Ooh that's mighty tempting, but sadly I think I'll have to deprive myself of that pleasure; I've got to be somewhere else.

Mr F: Anywhere in particular?

Suzie: No, just somewhere else really.

Mr F: Aw nuts. Well, I just figured I'd ask. I mean, ok you don't have tentacles or anything, but for something that isn't green and gooey you're not all that bad looking in the right light.

Suzie: Gee thanks a bunch, gurgle-boy.

Mr F: Don't mention it honeycakes. Anyway, let's hit the gas again then; not far to go now. Through this hole and down. Long straight coming up now. Hold on, this gets a bit bumpy.

Suzie: Y-You d-don't s-say.

Mr F: Ok we're past it. Heh, you almost lost your Grunt nuggets there.

Suzie: No such luck. Fancy another?

Mr F: Don't mind if I do thanks. Talking of which… cue Grunts!

Suzie: Hey, three special-ops guys with oversized bazookas dead ahead; and one of them is lining up for a shot!

Mr F: No sweat Suzie, I'll do a bit of dodging. Hold on!


Suzie: That only just missed!

Mr F: Nice try shorty - better luck next time!

Grunt: Heh, that was me. Me!

Mr F: I like to give the little fellas some encouragement. Them critters look real cute with those whomping great bazookas eh?

Suzie: Oh sure, and I particularly enjoyed the way they tried to blow us to pieces with them.

Mr F: That's the spirit - you're really getting into this eh? Ok, down this bit… and here's more of my Flood buddies now, leaping out of a side passage. Listen to that Suzie - is that some top quality gurgling or what?

Suzie: I've heard better.

Mr F: Oooh, harsh. Still, haven't got time to argue - here comes the big jump. Gotta keep the pedal down. At top speed we might just make it.

Suzie: I think I want to get off now.

Mr F: And miss the best bit? Nonsense, here we go. Woo-hoo!

Suzie: Yipes! It's been nice knowing you listeners… Ooooff!

Mr F: And we're down! Wa-hay, we made it! I never thought old Betty had it in her. HONK HONK!

Suzie: We're still breathing? I'd better be getting a bonus for this.

Mr F: Up the tunnel and over we go - second jump's a doddle.

Suzie: Can I open my eyes now?

Mr F: Sure Suzie, it's all plain sailing from here. Hey, you don't look so good.

Suzie: That makes two of us then, goo-face. Just hurry up and get this over with before we both get reacquainted with that breakfast I mentioned.

Mr F: No trouble. Look, there's the hangar up ahead. Want me to skittle those drums over for a laugh?

Suzie: Heck, why not, we've got this far.


Mr F: And… stop. End of the line Suzie.

Suzie: Exactly what I was thinking a moment ago. Let me get off this thing.

Mr F: What a blast eh? How was that for you?

Suzie: Pretty memorable I think it's safe to say. Ah, hello sweet ground.

Mr F: Excellent, that'll please the guys when I tell 'em. We like a satisfied customer. Now how about… hold on, where's she gone? Suzie? Oh, there you are. What are you doing down there on your hands and knees?

Suzie: Just reacquainting myself with the novelty of being in firm contact with the ground.

Mr F: Plenty of time for that later surely. As I was saying, how about a go on the merry-go-round? I've got one of my buddies running that, and you get a free tub of Jackal nuts with every ride.

Suzie: Jackal nuts?

Mr F: Heh, don't ask.

Suzie: Urp. Well if it's all the same to you Mr Flood, I think I'd like to keep both feet on the ground for a while thanks. Maybe curl up into the foetal position for a bit, we'll see how it goes. Another Grunt nugget? Plenty left.

Mr F: Yum yum.

Suzie: Quite. And on that finger-lickin' note of culinary delight, that's all from me folks. At least until I stop my head spinning.

Mr F: And then the merry-go-round?

Suzie: Urrghh…