Halo- Countdown to Zero
Author: AtinMando

Chapter 10
Everything to Lose

UNSC HighCom Building, Washington D.C.

Atin strode into Lord Hood's office and didn't even salute. “Sir, we have a problem.”

Hood looked at him. “Well, it had better be a big one, Commander.”

Atin cleared his throat. “Sir, Section Zero is going to activate Halo. Kill all of us because they don't think we can survive another attack by the Brutes.”

Hood buried his face into his hands. “Damn. I figured that they would do something stupid like that. All right, I'll give you all the ships I can manage. I will ensure that they will be ready by 0800 tomorrow. Do you need anything else?”

Atin looked down. “Besides a miracle, sir? Nothing. But I do wish that John was here. He would know what to do.”

“We all wish that the Master Chief was here. But I am relying on you. One last thing.”

Atin looked. “Sir?”

“Give them hell.”

Atin entered the squad's bunk. “All right, we're gonna get some more ships by 0800, then we strike. Any questions?”

The squad chuckled slightly. “No sir.” Nikki said.

“Ok, then. Get some sleep. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day.”

Atin would be stupid if he thought that the squad would be able to sleep on a night like this. He couldn't even sleep. So he went down to the training room and began a training session in hand to hand combat. “Solipsil, create 7 hostiles for me, please.” 7 holograms of soldiers appeared, and surrounded Atin. He rolled, and threw one soldier onto another. Two down. He kicked another, viper-quick, and he disappeared. He lunged at another, and took him down. The others all fared the same. When he was done, he took a deep breath.

Kami started clapping. “Good job. Bravo.”

Atin looked up. “Can't sleep?”

“No. I don't think anyone can.”

Atin walked up to her. “Walk with me.”

They were walking alone a wide window, with the beautiful vista of stars in space outside.

Kami stopped. “Are you sure we can do this?”

Atin looked at her. “Do what?”

“Stop Section Zero. I mean, they have nothing to lose. Their ultimate goal is mass suicide. They will just fling themselves at us. And we have everything to lose...”

“This is going to be hard. But we have something that they don't. The future. And comrades. And each other.”

Kami looked at Atin. “I can't say I'm not a little scared.”

“I'm a little scared too. It's natural. But we can face it together.”

Kami smiled. “Thanks.”

Atin put his hand on Kami's shoulder and smiled at her. “Get some sleep, Kam'ika.”

“Atin. Wake up. It's 0500.” Solipsil's voice stirred Atin from his sleep. But he still felt like his head was in a fog. “Jon. Wake up. Wake up, Jon. Damn.” Atin threw a magazine at him. “Suit up. We leave in a few hours.”

Jon got up, but he was still groggily. “Wha-whats going on?” He looked at the magazine Atin threw at him. “12 mil by 40? You keep your special M6C under your pillow?”

“I figured that having an M6G would be overkill for personal defense in a bunk.”

“Yeah, and you wouldn't want anyone to think that you overkill things. So, give me a sitrep.”

Atin looked annoyed. “We're getting ready to suit up. The new ships are already ready. 50 of them. 30 frigates, 18 destroyers, and 2 carriers. The Stonewall is almost ready too.”

Jon instantly woke up. “So this is it, isn't it? Where Section Zero makes it's final stand?”

“Yep. Where we hold the line, and push them back into hell.”

Jon smiled. “Good. It's time to end this.”

When Atin and Jon made it onto the bridge, a couple of the crew, including Nikki was there. “Good morning. I was beginning to wonder about you.” Nikki said, not looking up from her station.

“Sorry,” Atin replied. “Some of us had a bit of a late start.” he said, tilting his head to Jon.

“But where do we stand?” Atin walked over to the Command Chair.

Nikki turned to face him. “All Archers have been filled, MAC system verified. Kinetic Shields at 100%, and engine shakedown has been completed. All other ships reporting ready for combat. We're ready as soon as you give the signal.”

Atin nodded approvingly. “Very good. Have all crew report to General Quarters. I'd like to get under way ASAP.”

Kami walked into the bridge. “Good morning.” Atin told her when she walked in.

“Good morning.” She still looked a little shaky, but she had that hard determination in her eyes. She was ready for anything.

Atin turned on the intercom. “Today is the day we turn the enemy back. If Section Zero wants to activate Halo, they have to go through us to do so. And that will not happen. This is the time.”

Nikki, at the NAV console, said, “All ships reporting ready for slipspace transition. Initiating countdown. 10 seconds and counting.”

Atin stood by the Command Chair. His mind was still clouded with....something. It wasn't right. It felt like they were walking into something. But, they were ready for pretty much anything. There was no running anymore. It was time for offense.

Before he knew it, the timer to slipspace transition went from 1 to 0. Atin felt the usual feeling of nausea and the fleet traveled into the 11 nondimensions of slipspace.






“A leader must be ready to send soldiers under his command to their deaths.

Duty. Honor and self-sacrifice. Death does not diminish these qualities in a soldier.”

Chief Mendez.


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