Halo- Countdown to Zero
Author: AtinMando

Chapter 8

UNSC HighCom Building, Washington D.C.

Back in Washington D.C., Atin and the squad headed to the Office of the Chief of Special Operations. Atin sat in his chair and inserted Solipsil's chip into the system. “Solipsil, try to get me an appointment with Lord Hood as soon as possible.”

“I can get you in in 30 minutes, Chief.”

“That soon? All right, that'll work. Thank you. Squad, while I'm gone, I want you to help Solipsil try to intercept Section Zero's transmissions. See if you can find anything out.”

“Yes sir.” Nikki replied.

Atin walked back to the elevator and went one floor higher. Even one floor higher, Atin still needed an appointment. When he got to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, he immediately saluted to Lord Terrance Hood. “Sir! Commander Spartan 38, reporting sir!”

Hood saluted. “At ease, Commander. What did you want to tell me?”

Atin tilted his head slightly. “Well, sir, we have a breach in security. A big one.”

“Commander, if you could, cut through the crap. Tell me straight. What did you need to make a private appointment to tell me?”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Permission granted.”

Atin nodded. “Well, let me start out with the mission to Covenant Station 42-Alpha. When I put Solipsil into the system, we found that the information we were tasked to retrieve had already been destroyed, along with the entire memory system wiped, with the exception of a UNSC footprint.”

“Are you sure it belonged to the UNSC?”

“Absolutely, sir. Attempts to identify it led to the discovery of ONI Section Zero.”

Lord Hood shook his head. “Impossible. There is no Section Zero. We would know about it.”

“At first, I thought so too. That is why I did not include it in my mission log. Also, if I know anything about ONI, they like to keep things secretive. Maybe it was a secret weapons program. However, that brings me to my next point. You are aware of the attack on the city Trivert?”

“Of course. No one knows who attacked, but you destroyed the attacking ship, correct?”

“Yes sir. We did. But the attacker looked extremely simalir to a UNSC Chameleon-Class Prowler. However, we did destroy it after it opened fire on us. After the attack, Solipsil identified the same routing code connecting Section Zero to the attacking Prowler.”

Hood looked uncomfortable. “So is it possible that there is a Section of ONI that we don't even know about?”

“If there is, they cut off from ONI some time ago. They also seem to work independently from the UNSC. And, as I learned, against it too. They were behind the attack on Skyview Facility in Montana.”

“How do you know?” Hood asked.

“I had the....displeasure of meeting it's leader. An Axton Masanus.”

“Hold on. I'll check on the database. Yes. There was a Colonel Axton Masanus in the UNSC. He went missing during the fall of Coral. It says that he was involved in some shady activities, but not enough to warrant a full search.”

“Interesting. Yes, the picture on the file matches. He asked me to join Section Zero, and when I declined as politely as possible,” Hood smiled and almost laughed. “he launched a Nuke at us. We were able to destroy it with a Mass Driver shot. Also, you might want to know that Solipsil learned that they have been researching Forerunner artifacts, like the crystal on Reach and the Sigma Octanus IV Stone. We don't know if this is relating to their plan, but we do know that they must have a central plan. Because of this, I am asking you to add some ships to my fleet, and also to have outfit those ships with more weapons, both conventional and nuclear.”

Lord Hood nodded. “Your request is granted. If you need anything else, just tell me. I will rearrange any plans I have to see you. Good luck on this.”

Atin sauleted. “Thank you, sir. Will do, sir.”

When Atin returned to his office, Nikki said, “Atin! We found it! Section Zero's headquarters!”

Atin ran to the desk. “Really? You found it? Where?”

“It's on Tasur IV. A volcanic planet. A real..vacation.”

“All right. We're going there. Load up. Also, we received some new ships. Destroyers and frigates. We need time for them to get set up. In the mean time, I think I'll go see how Charlotte's doing.

“That's a good idea.” Kami said. “Tell her we said hi.”

Atin nodded. “Will do.” After that, he left.

Nikki sat in Atin's chair. “Ok, lets go to the shipyard and see how those new ships are doing.”

Atin knocked on Char's door and entered. “How are you?” He asked.

Charlotte smiled when she saw him. “I'm doing better. Still sore as hell, though. I'll be back on my feet in 3 weeks.”

Atin smiled. “Thats good to hear. We found Zero's headquarters. We're assaulting it tomorrow. With any luck, Section Zero will be wiped from the face of the galaxy by 2100 tomorrow.”

“Cheers for that.”

“Got that right.” Just then, Atin's comlink rang. “Atin!” Nikki said over the link. “You gotta come and see the new ships!”

Atin sighed and told Char, “I'm sorry. I gotta go.”

She smiled. “It's all right. Go kick some ass.”

“You know it.”

At the shipyard orbiting Earth, Atin walked to the level that his 20 new ships were waiting at. When he got up to the level, his mouth dropped. “Impressive, aren't they?” Nikki walked up to him. “Very. What kind of modifications do they have?” Atin asked.

“Well, to start with, the frigates have extensive upgrades to the engines, allowing them to increase speed by another 70% in a pinch. The Archer pods have been increased to 20 missiles per pod, and the Titanium-A plating has been added to. Also, the autoturrets have had new loading systems added, increasing their rate of fire, and entirely new turrets have been added also.”

“Wow. Very nice. And the destroyers?”

Nikki nodded. “The Archer pods have been increased to 25 missiles per pod. It has pods A through F with 10 pods per letter. The armor has been added to, and turrets have been added. The MAC system has also been upgraded, with the charging time dramatically decreased.”

“Wow. Thats amazing. 7 destroyers, 13 frigates. Thats doing pretty good, considering that ships are tight with the war just ended.”

Nikki was very happy with the new improvements with the ships. “Yeah. And with the mods, they would be even harder pressed.”

“I agree. Well, lets get back to the Stonewall. We need to get our weapons in order.”

“What do you think? AR or SMG?” Nikki asked Atin in the armory of the Stonewall.

“AR has better range, and it's also good in CQC. If we get into mid-range, we're gonna need better accuracy than the SMG.” Atin replied. Nikki picked up an AR and put into her weapons tray.

“Someone's gonna need a sniper. I'll let Jon handle that. He's pretty good. And Kami should take along a shotty.” He picked up a M90A and placed it on Kami's weapon tray. “I'll take along my BR55 HB-SR. And also, I think I'll take a Spiker too.” Humanity had a surplus of Brute weapons after the war, and ammo wasn't scarce.

“All right, I think we're ready. Lets go kick Section Zero's ass.”


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