Frontline 6: Cancel Christmas!

Posted June 11th 2004

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with another report from the ringworld Halo, last known destination of a badly damaged Pillar of Autumn and several lifeboats. A short while ago we brought you a frontline exclusive as WRKX reporter Suzie Hoffenblatt encountered a beak-nosed Jackal guarding a canyon entrance. But now, not far off, it seems that our girl on the ground has tracked down one of the lifeboats and located a stranded group of Marines beneath a plateau in some sort of rockslide. And she's got hold of the one they call Sarge, for some plain talking. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Sarge, it's a pleasure to meet you.

Sarge: The pleasure's all mine Suzie, and boy are you a sight for sore eyes! Hey men, get a load of this while you're still breathing; ain't she somethin'? She ain't wearin' no army issue, that's for sure.

Suzie: Er… no, enormous clodhopping boots aren't quite my style.

Sarge: We weren't expecting no visitors, except maybe a few real nasty ones come to kill us. How the heck did you find us Suzie?

Suzie: Well, I was out by the stream when I heard a Warthog roaring past, so I thought I'd check out where it was going. I came in past that smoking lifeboat. Looks to me like you're in a bit of trouble here.

Sarge: Ain't that the truth though. Lifeboat came down hard and almost killed us; we'd have all been gonners if it had slid much further. And now we're holed up in these rocks, hoping to high heaven that HQ sends in a bird to pick us up before the rest of the enemy finds us.

Suzie: And judging by these alien bodies and the gunfire I heard on the way in, it looks like you've already had a bit of a run-in with a few of them.

Sarge: Yeah, got jumped by this eight-foot freak here and a bunch of stinkin' finbacks. Could've been real nasty. But all of a sudden the Master Chief shows up in his hog - must've been the one you followed - and bam bam bam! Ugly sons of bitches never stood a chance. Cut 'em down where they stood he did.

Suzie: Gosh, I wish I'd seen that. I've heard about this Master Chief fellow. It all seems a bit hush-hush, but I gather he's some kind of cyborg super-soldier.

Sarge: Sure looked like it to us, the way he took care of 'em. Wouldn't mind a suit of that armour either!

Suzie: You don't have any of your own then?

Sarge: Well, they did issue us with reinforced kneepads, and this guy over here is wearing the squad helmet… Hey soldier! Don't get that thing scratched up y'hear? It's my turn next! …but that's about it I'm afraid.

Suzie: Oh dear. Still, kneepads could come in useful, especially if those Grunts start biting. In fact I think you may be needing them quite soon because I'm pretty sure I saw a dropship landing at the other end of the rockslide just as I was coming in.

Sarge: You did? Well maybe if we keep real quiet they won't find us 'till the Chief gets back. Listen up men! No hollerin' 'till I give the all-clear!

Marines: Sir yes sir! No hollerin' sir!

Suzie: Hmmm… So, was that the Chief in the Warthog, bombing off just as I came in then?

Sarge: Yeah, he cleared off almost before this alien garbage had hit the ground screamin'. Guess he reckoned there's other survivors in more trouble than us. God help any of the lifeboats with those whining candy-ass engineers in 'em! Hell, those guys wouldn't know the front end of a rifle if it got up and bit them on the butt, pardon my language ma'am. We ain't got none of those to put up with at least. We're all Marines here. Reckon we can probably hold out ok; we're a pretty tough bunch.

Suzie: I certainly hope so Sarge. Because I think I can hear another dropship coming in right now.

Sarge: Another? Damn. Yeah I wondered if things might get a bit nasty. Picked up some evil looking blips on the lifeboat sensors on the way down. Real ugly Covenant-shaped blips.

Suzie: Oooh, those are the worst kind. So what's your plan?

Sarge: Well, we'll try and keep 'em out of these rocks if we can. And if that fails, we'll fall back up to the plateau up there. That should make a pretty good defensive position.

Suzie: So, lots of rocks for cover up there then?

Sarge: You what now?

Suzie: You know, cover; so you don't get blasted by quite as much piping hot plasma and suchlike.

Sarge: Huh? Not following you Suzie.

Suzie: Well, you make sure the rock is between you and the bad guys, and that way their weapon fire hits the rock instead of various parts of your body.

Sarge: Hell lady, we don't need no sissy-boy hiding tactics here. We're Marines dammit. We eat piping hot plasma for breakfast! Am I right or am I right Marines!

Marines: Sir, yes sir! Piping hot plasma sir!

Sarge: Damn right.

Suzie: Hmmm, well then I suppose you can look forward to quite a tasty plasma snack later on; possibly a full-course banquet. So, apart from standing well out in the open to get your full dose of plasma fire, do you have any other tactics up your sleeve?

Sarge: Well, the main one is to stand real close together and roll around a lot. And if that doesn't do the trick, once in a while we'll pop a few rounds off if we're not too dizzy. Hah! They won't stand a chance.

Suzie: Well I'm pretty sure somebody won't stand a chance. Seems like you'd make a bit of a nice target for a grenade, standing together like that.

Sarge: Hell no, we'll jump clear. Well, most of us will anyway. A couple of the guys bunked off the grenade recognition course in training, which was probably a bad idea. But if anyone goes up in the blast, well hey, we can always do without a jackass like that huh?

Suzie: Quite probably. But won't you keep getting in the way of each other when you fire back, standing so close together?

Sarge: Yeah we do get quite a bit of the old friendly fire, but we'll shout "My bad!" or something, so there's no hard feelings really. It's quickly forgotten. Real quickly forgotten if you get killed by it; but hey, nobody said life was easy.

Suzie: No, they didn't, that's true. And this thing here is what you'll use for mowing down your compatriots is it?

Sarge: Ah, the 5B, yeah that's the honey. Here, I'll show you. Badda badda badda badda badda badda! Thing couldn't hit a barn door at a dozen paces… but it sounds great huh?

Suzie: Yes, very impressive. Also very loud, as I dare say those alien landing parties may've noticed.

Sarge: Oops.

Suzie: But it's also a bit worrying. I mean, I'm no military genius or anything, but I would've thought that a spot of accuracy would be quite useful.

Sarge: Yeah I guess it would help. But did you hear that rate of fire? You can't argue with that. Heck, this thing can put sixty rounds into the scenery almost faster than you can blink.

Suzie: Well I imagine that'll stop the scenery from bothering you at least.

Sarge: Damn right it will. And hey, don't forget the frag grenades. They're my favourite. Boom! "Cancel Christmas!" I'll say. Hah!

Suzie: It's always nice if you enjoy your work.

Sarge: Oh I love this job Suzie. If it ain't the sound of the 5B rasping away, it's watching those ugly alien sons of bitches get fragged and go sailing through the air screamin'. Quite looking forward to strangling a few of the suckers with their own living guts sometime too.

Suzie: Well golly, who wouldn't? But it's just as well you enjoy it so much Sarge, because I think that was another two dropships I just heard coming over.

Sarge: Another two? Damn, how many's that now? One when you came in, then another, now two more; Heads up boys! Five dropships on the warpath!

Suzie: Well, close enough. But I tell you what Sarge, I think I'd better see about quietly nipping off before things get ugly, and perhaps you and your men had better start getting your ammo ready. So thank-you for your time, and the best of luck to you; I think you may need it!

Sarge: Been a real pleasure Suzie. Ain't it been a pleasure men!

Marines: Sir yes sir! A real pleasure sir!

Sarge: Damn right.