Posted By: Daria Sigma<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 16 October 2004, 1:53 AM
Copyright © Daria Sigma 2004
The Master Chief looked through the scope-screen on his sniper rifle. He still had to resist the urge to flip up his visor for a better view. For one thing, that wouldn't give him a better view. The sensors in his helmet (and in his head) had been specially designed to interface with UNSC equipment. So, even though he was at the opposite side of the valley to the Covenant outpost, hidden by rocks and foliage, he could see as clearly as if he were sitting right in the main square.
His visor was still annoying, though.
Three hours, the Chief had been like this. Unmoving, crosshairs on one point and one point alone. He didn't know when, but eventually his target would arrive, step off his ship, and a second later the Chief would take him out. Any moment, the target could come. It could be many more hours. The target could be on his way now. Whatever happened, the Chief would—
'I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with G.'
The Chief nearly jumped out of his armour. The voice in his head had given no warning. 'What the...? Cortana!'
'Chief, that doesn't start with G.'
'What the hell are you doing?'
'I'm bored, Chief. We've just been sitting here for more than three hours. I can't defragment your armour's hard-drive forever.'
'We're on a mission.' The Chief started to assume the position again.
'We're not here to lighten up. Sometime today, a Silver Elite will land at that outpost to inspect it. When it does, blam.'
'...which will rip a hole in the Covenant's chain of command, weakening them for a while at least, and we can't fight this guy in close combat because it's got the strength of twenty atom bombs and shoots lasers from his nose and can pull killer gazelles out of its ears and bla, bla, blah. I was at the briefing, Chief.'
'Apparently not when the commander said it was a stealth mission.'
'Chief, we're completely shielded from their radar. And there's no way a bunch of grunts could even hear us from this far away.'
'I can hear you,' griped the Chief.
'Then don't tell the Covenant, and we'll all be fine.'
'Cortana. I've got to concentrate. This guy is a real big cheese in the Covenant. I'll only have a brief window to take him out and do it from this range. Then we get back to base while the grunts are all wondering why their leader suddenly fell down.'
Cortana 'nodded'. Somehow. 'You're right, Chief. Of course.'
Master Chief took his position once more and stared down his rifle for another twenty minutes.
The Chief sighed. 'Cortana.'
'Why don't you ever talk about yourself?'
'I mean, I've been living in your helmet for weeks now, and I still don't know anything about you.'
'You can look up my file.'
'Yeah, if I enjoy reading the word "classified" over and over. Come on, I mean you never make small talk or anything.'
'What the hell are you talking about?'
'Say...do you have anyone back home? A wife? Girlfriend?' A pause. 'Boyfriend?'
'Not even a cat?'
'I'm going back to my mission now.'
'Chief, I don't even have a real body, and I find time for R&R. Don't get me wrong, I love the service. But I've still got my social life.'
The Chief tried to concentrate on his rifle, but now his mind wouldn't let go.
'You're an AI. A computer program. How do you have a social life?'
'Well, you know Artemis? The Artificial Intelligence on the Foehammer?'
'Every Friday, if we're not on shift, the two of us - and a couple of other AIs - meet up in this great corner stop we know in Cyberspace.'
The Chief nodded. 'I wondered where you went.'
'Usually.' She paused and sounded a bit embarrassed. 'Or I might be with Quantel.'
'Oh, Quantel is just the sweetest AI. He runs the medical system on Titan. I've only known him a while - not even as long as I've known you - but I think we—'
The Chief put a hand to the side of his helmet. 'I. Don't. Want. To. Know.'
'All I'm saying, Chief, is I know the armour comes off. So why not— There it is!'
'The Silver Elite! There! Get him!'
'Ah!' Between himself, Cortana, and the surprise, the Chief jolted as his shot rang out. Everything went quiet.
'Did I get him?'
'Let's see... Yep. Communications traffic lit up like a Christmas tree. The grunts are really panicking, but one message is clear: The Silver Elite is dead. Oh no.'
'They've made us. Look.'
The Chief held up his sniper rifle. Through its scope, he could see dozens of Covenant soldiers rushing into purple vehicles and flying towards him.
'Yep.' He dropped his sniper rifle and loaded his machine-guns.
'Back to the old grind,' smiled Cortana. 'Oh, Chief, you remember I Spied something starting with G?'
'Something like that.'
'G is for grenade.'
The Master Chief unpouched a grenade and bounced it in his hand. 'Way ahead of you.' He could see the vehicles landing at the edge of the valley, and the Covenant pouring out to meet him. Gun in one hand, grenade in other. Like the lady said, time to do what he did best.
He paused before his charge. 'And, Cortana?'
'My cat's name is Bootsie.'