Halo- Countdown to Zero
Author: AtinMando

Chapter 2
Zeta Squad

Planet Draala, Hersher System

“Zeta 4, what's your status?”

“Arming bomb now. Running into some hostile trouble. Nothing I can't handle.”

“Copy that. I'm falling back to RV point Gamma. There's multiple waves of hostiles. You got 5 minutes before I have to fall back again.”

“I got it. Good luck.”

Copy that. Zeta 2, Over and out.”

The arming timer on the HAVOK Nuclear Warhead was counting down agonizingly slow. Zeta 4, Kami, let out a grunt of disgust as she picked up her M90A Shotgun and blasted a Brute back onto it's partner's back. The Brute snarled and charged. Kami just had enough time to pump the shotty and blast the Brute's head off. “Gotcha.” she said as she tossed a grenade and killed the other Brute. She checked the bomb , and smiled as she saw that it was now armed. “Zeta 4 here, bomb's armed.”

Zeta 2, Nikki, hung from a steel cord, wielding a MA5C Assault Rifle. She dropped a grenade and let loose a burst of lead from her AR. One fell, but it seemed like every one she killed, 2 more took it's place. “Zeta 2 here. I'm falling back to RV Delta. Copy that, Zeta 4?”

“No need, Zeta 2. I'm done here. Lets get out of this dar'yaim.”

Agreed, Zeta 4.” Nikki let her cord release and sprinted to the team's Longsword. As Kami came aboard, Nikki activated the power plant on the fighter. Kami strapped in, and the Longsword rose into the air and rocketed into the sky. Nikki took off her helmet. “Thats endex. Good job. Lets go home.”

The UNSC HighCom building in Washington D.C. was filled with people who weren't intimidated easily. But the way Atin and Charlotte were walking through the building with faces of angry determination made everyone move out of his way. When they finally reached the elevator that would take them to Atin's office, Charlotte said “All right, so whats the plan?”

“Well, first, we need to get the squad rounded up. Then we can brief them on Section Zero.” The elevator dinged, and the door opened to reveal the Office of the Chief of Special Operations. For an office, it was enormous. On the floor there was the Emblem of the UNSC. Behind the desk, there was a huge window, displaying the City of Washington D.C. Atin walked to the desk and put Solipsil's data chip into the holopanel. Her figure appeared on the desk.

“Solipsil, run a full system search on anything relating to Section Zero.”

Solipsil was an experiment put on by ONI Section Three to see what would happen if an AI was allowed to go rampant and not be destroyed. Solipsil was put in a controlled environment and allowed to do anything she wanted to do. Eventually, she went rampant. After more studying, she went stable. She was the first stable, rampant AI ever. With that, her loyalty to the UNSC was not hardwired any more. She was assigned to Atin's squad partly because she hacked the UNSC Mainframe, and eventually she grew to be one of the squad. She trusted Atin with her life, and would allow no one except for Atin to carry her in MJOLNIR armor.

“There's not much. No good leads. But I didn't think that it would be this easy. Just a scan wouldn't uncover much. Hey, Kami and Nikki are back.” The elevator dinged, and two SPARTANs walked in. “Hey. Welcome back.” Atin said.

“Good to be back.” Kami replied. “That last op wasn't that easy.”

Solipsil appeared on the holopanel. “So, the whole Zeta Squad is back together again. Good. Because we have something important to talk about.”

“And what's that?” Nikki inquired.

“Well, I suppose I should start with the mission that Atin and I were on. We were assigned with intercepting a Covenant signal from the source: a small Covenant space station. The mission went on smoothly until we got to the comm center. I got into the system to discover that the entire system was totally destroyed.”

“Totally destroyed? Like, the data was wiped or something?” Nikki asked.

“Exactly. Nothing was there. Except for a very well hidden footprint. A UNSC footprint. Upon closer scanning, I found out that it's origin was ONI. From a group called Section Zero. Thats all I found. We decided to leave and return to the ship. After that, we were attacked from 78 Covenant capital ships. Luckily, we were assisted from a Sangheili heavy warship. We were able to destroy most of the enemy ships.”

“So why would ONI do a mission, and then do it again?”

“We are thinking that they wanted to cover their tracks. But for what, we're not sure. Thats what we are trying to figure out. However, we really have no leads.”

“So what do we do? Search for leads?”


Atin considered for a second, then said, “Tread carefully on this one, squad. You all know how ONI can be. If they want you out of the picture, they take you out. As for their mission, we still don't know what they want, but even though they are still UNSC, don't trust them.”

The squad looked at each other, and as one, said “Got it.”

It was a beautiful day in the city of Trivert, on the planet Alpha Centauri 4. The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and Thomas Riverto wished that he didn't have to go to his job so he could stare at this perfect vista for the rest of the day. But, he had to earn his pay, which meant that he had to go to his job at the HoloVid Theater. The traffic was always horrible, he had to leave a whole hour early, even though the Theater was not that far from his house. When he finally got there, he was only 5 minutes late. But that didn't stop his boss from chewing out his ass for what seemed like the 50th time. After he got done with that, the day went so slow he could have sworn the clock was broken. But after he came back from his lunch break, he got a great idea. He would take everything that was of value at his office, and never come back. He was almost done cleaning out the cubicle when he found the old MA2B rifle that he got from his brother in the UNSC because there was heavy gang activity at night. His gut feeling told him to take it. He found 5 clips of ammo, plus the clip in the rifle already. He got in his car, and wished that he never had to go back to work again.

“Just my luck. Stuck in rush hour again. Damn.” The expressway was packed with cars going 5

MPH. Thomas was considering just laying on his horn when he heard an enormous BOOM!! He looked up and saw what looked like a huge slab of metal appearing from space. Once again, he had a gut feeling. It told him to take the MA2B. He grabbed the gun, and left his car. He saw....something coming. It looked like a ship. Then, it started firing things out of it's hull. One of them was coming his way. Then, suddenly, he recognized it. A UNSC Archer Missile. He jumped off the expressway seconds before it exploded in a ball of fire. His first reaction was to get to his family. He had no idea why the UNSC would attack one of its own colonies, but right now he didn't care. The only thing that mattered was escape.


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