Halo- Countdown to Zero
Author: AtinMando

Chapter 6
Skyview

On board the UNSC Stonewall, en route to Skyview Facility.


“Ok, here's the plan.” Atin said. “We don't know if Section Zero managed to take control of the AAA, so we have to go in the fastest way possible.”

“Oh no, you're not saying what I think you're saying.” Nikki said.

“Sorry, but it's the only way.”

Jon looked confused. “What's the only way?”

Atin smiled. “Orbital drop.”

“With drop pods?”

“Afraid not. We need to maneuver if they have AAA set up.”

“We're going to drop. Out of orbit. With only MJOLNIR armor?”

“Yep. That's about right.”

“Damn. Thats just crazy.”

“You're right. Let's go.”

Kami said, “Will we finally get a chance to use our modifications?”

“Maybe. Depends on the situation.”

Jon looked confused for a split-second. “What kind of mods did you guys put on your armor?”

Atin replied, “Well, a couple things, actually. First-”

The intercom turned on. “Approaching Earth. All personnel lock down systems. Go to General Quarters.”

Nikki, Kami, and Jon stood up. “All right, lets do it.”

Atin stood and opened a reinforced case. “One more thing. ONI wanted us to try out a new weapon. A human version of the Covenant beam rifle.” Atin opened the case and took out a rifle with a white stock and black barrel. “It has a removable barrel extension for close range fights. It has double the penetration of a Battle Rifle, and a modified scope. The only problem? It's not quiet at all. Pretty loud. And it's bright. Not much of a sniper weapon. But it's our job to test this out and reply back to Section Three about it. There's one for each of us.”

Jon looked at it and appeared impressed. “Wow. So we actually managed to replicate Covenant technology.”

“Thats right. Maybe we can even make starship shields as powerful as the Covenant's someday.”

A voice on the intercom said, “ETA to Earth in 5 minutes. Zeta Squad, to Hangar Bay 5, please.”

“Well, I guess that's our cue. Let's get to it.”




“So, where's the drop bay?” Jon asked.

“This is it. When we get to orbit, the hangar door will open and we will get sucked out by the explosive decompression. We will have only a maneuvering thruster and a de-burn thruster for when we get in the atmosphere. We will also have a weapon holder for the new Beam Rifle. That is attached to the thruster carapace.”

“All right. I guess you're serious about this. Lets get going then.”

Atin opened 4 full length lockers and took out 4 black, bulky objects. He also took out a smaller plate with latches that hold weapons in place during the orbital burn. He attached the bulky part to the back of his armor and it latched on like a magnet. The same happened with the smaller plate. He attached it to the front of his armor and it stuck. Then, two shoulder straps and two side straps came out of the back plate and attached themselves to the front. “There. Thrusters on the rear plate, weapon holder on the front.” He attached the Beam Rifle to the front plate and pushed it down. A click confirmed that it was locked. “Once you are inside the atmosphere, a green light will appear on your HUD. That is the signal to activate the de-burn thrusters. When you are 100 feet from the ground, there will be a red light. That is the signal to grab your weapon, and dump the pack. Clear?”

As one, the squad yelled “Sir! Yes Sir!”

“Good. Suit up. We drop in 3 minutes.”

The intercom activated. “We have arrived at Earth. Zeta Squad Drop 2 minutes and counting.”

Atin's voice came on the Squad's armor. “All right, squad. Just relax and everything will be ok.”

“Zeta Squad Drop 1 minute and counting.”

“This is it. It's time to take back the Skyview facility.”

“30 seconds and counting.”

A timer appeared on Atin's HUD. The digital numbers seemed like they were counting too slow.

“20 seconds and counting.”

Atin looked at the TEAMBIO. All three squad member's heart rates were above normal, but not dangerously high. That was a good sign.

“10 seconds and counting.”

Atin found that his heart rate was going up. No matter how many times he did this, dropping from a starship to the planet below always seemed like a damn stupid idea.

The digital numbers on Atin's HUD reached the single digits.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

Then, the hangar bay opened almost instantly. The squad were sucked out of the hangar and tumbled out in space. “Squad! Fire maneuvering thrusters to align yourselves with the course!” Atin activated the thrusters and found himself tumbling again. He worked the thrusters again and straightened out. With a slight turn of his head, he saw that the other squad members were headed to the planet on a good course. A green light shined on in his HUD, and Atin switched on the de-burn thrusters. There was a bone-jarring jolt as the thrusters activated. He switched on a channel to the squad. “How's it going, squad?”

Nikki was the first to report in. “Going good, sir. How are you?”

Atin smiled at the fact that Nikki was able to talk like it was a normal day when they were barreling through the atmosphere.

Kami reported next. “Green, sir.”

Jon reported last. “Little bumpy, but good. Nice view.”

“Good. We're getting close to the 100 ft. mark. Once you impact, sprint to the building. Don't forget to take your beam rifle. Good luck.”

A red light flashed on Atin's HUD. He detached the rifle from his armor, and, before he could detach his thruster pack, a bullet flew dangerously close to his thruster pack. He activated the scope and found a single human figure on the roof. He took aim, and pulled the trigger. The rifle shot a thin, pink beam with a loud woosh. Through the scope, he saw the beam go straight through the figure's chest, and the figure fell. Atin smiled with the knowing that the new beam rifle was a success. He unlatched his thruster pack and threw it off. Then, he and the rest of the squad landed on the pavement. To a viewer from the school, it must have looked like 4 meteors landed in the parking lot. Once he landed, Atin sprinted to the school. To the squad, he yelled, “I'm going onto the second floor! Squad, you go to the first and meet me in the main office!”

4 soldiers taking an entire hostile building, fortified with an unknown number of hostile troops, seemed unbelievable. But they were Spartans. The unbelievable was normal for them.


Truth be told, Kami was worried about her friends. She knew that Atin and Nikki were too, but being the newest member of Zeta Squad, she hadn't learned to be as....detached, as they were. But, if she let this get in her way, this mission would not last long, and she couldn't be an asset to her team if she wasn't focused. She just had to keep an eye out for the active camo that they used on Char. Hopefully, she wouldn't need to use the modification that she installed in her armor. Kami watched Atin jump up the stairs and go up to the second floor, while she sprinted with the other 2 squad members to the entrance. She watched Nikki break down the glass, and guessed that surprise had been thrown out the window. Now that she thought about it, there was really nothing normal about 3 people in full body armor in a school. She smiled to herself, but just as she was beginning to feel good about the mission, she was shot at from nowhere and her shields flickered to ¾th.


Atin jumped up to the stairs that would take him to the second floor. He ran up to the second story balcony, and did a somersault through the glass and came up running. He stopped behind a brick pillar and looked for any hostiles. There was no way that nobody heard that. He looked around for the slight shimmer of light that meant active camo. Then, he remembered a trick that he learned when facing Brute Stalkers. “Team, switch to thermal imaging. Their AC generates heat. Look for that.”

He only hoped that the team heard him. He turned on his thermal filter on his HUD, and found two extreme heat signatures where, in normal vision, there was nothing. He took aim with his beam rifle, and fired. The beam shot forward with a loud thewwwww and the heat signature fell with a loud scream. “Damn. There goes the element of surprise. Oh well, I didn't think it would last.” He took aim at the other, and this time, he aimed at the head. He pulled the trigger, and the soldier was killed instantly. With that, he shot forward and leapt past the railing and landed on the first floor.


Jon always liked a straight-up fight where you could actually see your enemies. Not this. He hated this. The squad was forced to take cover, and whatever weapons they used were perfect with active camo. They had almost no flash, and the soldiers were moving position constantly. Also, it seemed that they were jamming communications, because the only way that he could talk to the others was through short-range directed single beam transmissions. Atin was out of range. This was going to be a massacre if it continued. Just then, a pink beam went through the air, and a scream penetrated the air. A figure materialized out if thin air and fell to the ground, dead. Atin ran to cover beside Jon. “Didn't you hear me? The active camo generates heat. Use your thermals.” Atin said.

“No. Our communications have been jammed. Only short ranged comlink works.”

“Oh, well, that complicates things a bit. But I have an idea. Squad! Harden Electronics! Prepare for shield drain!”

Nikki spoke up. “What are you planning?”

Atin took out a steel cylinder with blue details.

Nikki sounded impressed. “Gotcha. Go ahead.”

Atin threw the EMP Grenade towards the outlines of the Section Zero soldiers. When it detonated, a blue flash filled the entire school. Atin rebooted his MJOLNIR software and when he could see again, the Zero soldiers were disorientated. Atin took this chance to strike. He yelled to Jon, “Cover me! I'm gonna take one alive!” Jon turned and replied, “You got it!” Atin lunged at one of the Zero soldiers and knocked his rifle down, put him in an arm lock, and put his other arm close to the Zero's throat. Out of Atin's gauntlet, a blade sprang out. The soldier's eyes widened.

Jon asked, “Is that the modification you were talking about?”

“One of 'em.” Atin turned the soldier to face the other one. To his surprise, the free soldier fired on his ally! Atin was forced to turn to shield the captive soldier and take the bullet. His shields flared, and Atin yelled to Nikki, “Sis! Take him alive!” Atin threw the soldier to Nikki, and she shoved him in a corner and pushed a button on her gauntlet. A blue bolt was fired from her gauntlet and it expanded and covered the captive. Jon asked Nikki, “What was that you just did?”

Nikki replied, “ElectroMagnetic Net gun. My modification.”

Atin lunged for the gun that he knocked out of the captive's hands. He shouldered it and shot the other Zero soldier. “All right, squad. It looks like that's all there is for now. Let's go down to the facility below and start an interrogation.”



 

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