Frontline 8: Mr Rechargeable

Posted June 25th 2004

This is Radio WRKX broadcasting, with another exclusive report from the oddball ringworld Halo. And boy do we have a treat for you today folks. Ace reporter Suzie Hoffenblatt is poised and ready to intercept the man they're all talking about. Yes, green-helmeted hero and legend in his own lunchtime, it's the one they call Master Chief, negotiating his way through a tunnel complex beneath snowy wastes, and now approaching our girl at alarming speed, riding in some sort of hovering purple bath-tub. Frontline insights coming to you live, here on Radio WRKX. Take it away Suzie…

Suzie: Excuse me… oh I say, Master Chief, excuse me!

Chief: What the… look out lady!

Suzie: Oops. Golly you almost got me there. Good work with the brakes! It is Master Chief isn't it?

Chief: Uh huh…

Suzie: Delighted to catch up with you at last. Suzie Hoffenblatt reporting live for Radio WRKX. I wonder if you could just park up for a moment and have a quick chat for our listeners.

Chief: A quick chat?… Lady, I've got places to go and Marines to save. If I don't get a move on and unravel the inner mysteries of this infernal spinning doughnut, it could be curtains for the entire human race!

Suzie: Oh do have a chat, there's a nice man.

Chief: Well… since you put it like that, ok, maybe just for a couple of minutes. Let me get out a moment… Ok I'm ready, fire away.

Suzie: Gosh, I'll have to fire away with my head tilted backwards. You're awfully tall.

Chief: Yeah, height'll do that for you.

Suzie: Shiny too.

Chief: Thanks. Buffed myself up just this morning.

Suzie: And that's an impressive looking bath-tub you've got there.

Chief: This thing? Yeah, they call it the 'Ghost'. Alien job. Shifts along pretty nicely but it's awfully drafty around the ankles. Even if you've got enormous boots on.

Suzie: And you do have enormous boots on actually.

Chief: Exactly. And it's still drafty. But it's better than walking. Needs a pretty steady hand at the controls though; it's lethal in the wrong hands. I try to discourage the Marines from hopping in, but some of them just won't listen. Had to rocket some clumsy idiot earlier, just to stop him wiping out half the squad, including yours truly.

Suzie: Oh dear. Still, I expect he would've been violently killed at some point anyway.

Chief: Exactly. So it doesn't really matter too much. It's like I was just hurrying things along a bit, so to speak.

Suzie: I quite understand. So, it's been a tough battle so far?

Chief: Pretty tough, yeah. In fact I've just had seven shades of grief shot out of my best rechargeable underwear getting here, and that was even before Sarge and the boys went up in smoke along with the Scorpion. So if you don't mind my asking, how the heck did you manage to get here?

Suzie: Oh I just sort of smiled and asked if they wouldn't mind letting me pop through. Often does the trick. You should try it sometime. Here, like this: "Excuse me, could I pop through here please?". Go on…

Chief: I'll sound silly…

Suzie: Nonsense, go on and try it.

Chief: "Excuse me, could I pop this through you please?"

Suzie: Er… you may not have heard it correctly. "Excuse me, could I pop through here please?"

Chief: "Excuse me, could I pop your head off please?"

Suzie: Hmmm… still not quite getting it, but I suppose that's better than nothing. You certainly sound a bit more polite at least.

Chief: Thanks for the tip.

Suzie: Don't mention it.

Chief: Anyway, I wouldn't go back the way I came if I were you. Not a pretty sight any more, that underground bridge area. Come to think of it, things aren't going to be a pretty sight the way I'm going either, once I get there.

Suzie: No, I gather you're quite keen on blasting things and suchlike.

Chief: Very much so Suzie, yes. Keeps me fairly busy. Did you happen to notice if there's anything worth blasting up ahead?

Suzie: Oh plenty. For starters you'll find a few rather large gentlemen just around the corner with their own hovering bath-tubs. Had a brief chat with them actually. There's a few grunty types hanging around there too, but they look pretty dozy so I doubt they'll hold you up long. And then there's quite a few beaky fellows you'll meet on the way up the rise to the surface; you'll enjoy blasting them. Oh, and I hear that they're also expecting some new boys getting dropped in by air. So all in all, quite a bit of blasting ahead I'd say.

Chief: That's what I like to hear.

Suzie: But is it all blasting? Any PR work for example?

Chief: Not a lot of PR work really Suzie, but the brass do like to wheel me out occasionally to impress the politicians. Helps with the funding and stuff. And they like showing off the fancy armour work too.

Suzie: Yes, I hear that you can take a real whacking in that suit and still get away with it.

Chief: That's a fine tactical analysis Suzie. There could be a job for you in military planning.

Suzie: Really? Would I have to wear enormous boots?

Chief: They encourage it, certainly.

Suzie: Hmmm, well I think perhaps I'll stick to reporting after all then. But if I can probe further on the technical side of things, I know you're not allowed to go into too much detail but I understand that you were actually kept in cold storage on the flight out here.

Chief: That's right Suzie. Freezing it was. I mean, never mind these drafty ankles I've got, we're talking cold. Still, I guess it was good training what with all the snow outside. Could've done with ice boots a few times though; things are pretty darned slippery in places.

Suzie: Yes, I found that out a while back actually, though I think the bruising is going down now. And is it true that you carry a ship's AI downloaded into your suit?

Chief: Yeah that's right - Cortana. The little munchkin wonder's having a bit of a nap right now. Gets a bit tired of watching me blasting stuff all the time; can't really blame her. But she'll probably come online again in a while.

Suzie: Is she a lot of help to you then?

Chief: Oh sure, she keeps me informed about a load of stuff. And she's jolly useful for opening doors too. Got me out of a real scrape one time in an alien landing bay. Terrible trouble we had there. Almost got massacred, even with the ol' tin plating! Luckily she came up trumps with the security override; think I heard her mumbling about having to crack a 128000-bit modulating encryption key or something.

Suzie: Gosh, she's pretty hot with numbers then…

Chief: For a ship's AI she's pretty hot full stop actually. Voice like liquid honey. Don't tell her I said that mind - she's vain enough already; I wouldn't want to encourage her! But yeah, I leave the number juggling to her. I'll stick with the blasting thanks.

Suzie: Sounds like a cosy relationship! But talking of blasting, I actually saw you in action once, though I don't think you saw me. I was in a rockslide with a bunch of Marines having a spot of bother, when you came bombing along in a Warthog and ended up seeing off a whole heap of nasties.

Chief: Yeah I remember that fight; that was real intense. Got pretty dicey there for a moment! But hey, hold on; I heard about some crazy reporter that took down a Jackal with some fancy moves right at the end. Was that you?

Suzie: I'm blushing. Yes that was me.

Chief: Heck, I'd never have suspected it, to look at you.

Suzie: I think the Jackal got a bit of a surprise that way too. But like I told Sarge, we do have to deal with the occasional 'awkward' customer.

Chief: But as a reporter, shouldn't you stay a neutral observer?

Suzie: Well, up to a point. The point being when they start trying to blow my head off.

Chief: That seems fair enough. Well Suzie, I guess I should thank you; I thought I'd got 'em all! Sarge told me about it later. He was trying to explain how you did it but I couldn't quite figure it out. Something about a "three-hit combo"?

Suzie: Ah yes, my 'Jackal-whacker special'. Well, I whacked him with the microphone like this: Whack!

Chief: Ouch!

Suzie: …and then like this: Bap!

Chief: I say again, Ouch!

Suzie: …and finally I gave him a two-hander like this: Thwappp!

Chief: And for the third time but with more emphasis, I say Ouch!

Suzie: Oops, sorry Chief, got a bit carried away. Didn't think it would bother you much through that suit though.

Chief: I think I'll survive Suzie, but I may need a new paint job when I get back! I almost feel sorry for that wretched Jackal. Still, very impressive work with that microphone!

Suzie: It's one of my more robust interviewing techniques, certainly.

Chief: I can vouch for that. And you've got me thinking now. Perhaps I've been a bit one-dimensional in the whacking department. I hadn't actually thought of hitting someone in lots of different ways all in a row like that; I guess that could be fun.

Suzie: Sure is! Especially if they're ugly.

Chief: Heh heh! Yeah that always helps. Well thanks for the demo Suzie; I'll see about putting in some practice later and maybe coming up with some combos of my own. You know, I reckon Cortana and yourself would get along like a house on fire. I'm pretty sure she'd love to have the chance of doing some whacking like that; she does get a bit frustrated just watching sometimes. I think she'd see you as quite the role model. If you're interested I'll see if I fix up a chat between you sometime.

Suzie: Oh I'd be delighted. By the way, I did have a question about that rockslide battle. There was an odd moment when you seemed to be almost pulled into the Warthog just as you reached for a new clip; and it seemed to annoy you rather.

Chief: Oh god, you didn't see that did you? Yeah that's kind of embarrassing. I don't know quite what's wrong with me. I must have a wire loose in the head or something; or maybe it was all that time in the freezer, I don't know. But anytime I'm near a hog and I reach for a new clip, I just can't stop myself jumping on board. Same with alien gun turrets actually. It's like a reflex action. Can't explain it, can't fight it. I've just gotta get on! And it really makes me mad because I don't want to get on at all, and especially not when there's half the Covenant army trying to blow chunks off my armour.

Suzie: No, that would be annoying, I can see that. So I suppose that's why you subsequently riddled the Warthog with bullets and sent the thing up with a grenade for good measure?

Chief: Yeah, that wasn't strictly necessary but I felt a whole lot better for it, believe me.

Suzie: Entirely understandable Chief. It's good to work out your anger, and I'd say you did a fine job of it there.

Chief: Thanks, I've had a lot of training. Took a bit of explaining when the hog got picked up later though. I mean, the enemy doesn't have ARs, so I had to come up with a story about where all the bullet holes came from.

Suzie: Gosh, what did you say?

Chief: Oh that was easy. I just pointed out that there were a lot of Marines around shooting off their ARs, so naturally everything in sight got plastered.

Suzie: Hah, very good; yes I can see why they'd buy that. Heck, some knucklehead at the back almost shot my microphone out of my hand! Look at this!

Chief: Oooh, nasty dent!

Suzie: Well, I don't know why you bother with them sometimes.

Chief: Off the record Suzie, neither do I.

Suzie: …at which point I should perhaps remind you that we're live across half the known galaxy, with a popular following among the Marine Corps.

Chief: Oops! Oh well, I guess I can look forward to even more rounds in the back than normal from now on. Who'd be a cyborg hero eh Suzie?

Suzie: Who indeed. And talking of which, I suppose it's about time I let you get on with it. But I do hope we'll have the chance to talk again soon.

Chief: Anytime Suzie; pleasure was all mine, and thanks again for the combat pointers. Ok then, I guess I'll fire up this bath-tub and be off around the corner for a short discussion with those two large gentlemen you mentioned. But this time Suzie, it probably won't be the sort with words in.

Suzie: I didn't think so for a moment Chief. Not for a moment.