Chapter 1:

Mission M-X8

Zero Continent

“Drrriiinnnggg! as the school bell of Athens High, Washington, Columbia rang, everyone packed their bags with a pumped-up, cheerful expression on their face. It was their last day of school before summer vacation, and some students ran towards Kasper Zimmermann of class 11-D, who was in the school cafeteria. He was peacefully eating his thick, multi-layered Tuna sandwich served by Miss Judith, the lunch lady. The students crowded on Kasper.

“Is this what they eat in space?” asked Tommy.

“How do you drink water in space?” questioned Mathias.

“What do you think happens if you fart in space?” quizzed Martin.

And several others started asking Kasper their questions related to space; Kasper was already tired of hearing his classmates’ thoughtless questions. He finally managed to escape his friends and started walking towards the nearby gift workshop accompanied by his childhood best friend, Tristan, to buy parting gifts for Kasper’s parents since he won’t be seeing his parents for the next two years.

“On a scale of one to ten, how hard are you gonna miss your parents?” asked Tristan.

“No idea but will surely miss them badly, but I think I can take care of myself,” replied Kasper.

“Isn’t that Clara Olivia from the next class?” asked Tristan as he pointed his finger towards a beautiful, reasonably tall well-toned girl with shiny black hair who held a basic violin and stood in front of the gift workshop.

Kasper’s heart started racing as he walked towards the shop, and It is not an unfamiliar truth that both Kasper and Clara liked each other since the last sports day festival as they were in the same team.

Clara noticed Kasper, and she smiled at him, Kasper smiled at her back, and they three happened to have a little conversation about what they will be doing this summer vacation.

“If you ever feel lonely after your parents leave, you can always text me, Kas,” Said Clara.

Tristan smirked at Kasper, “Thank you, Clara, that means to me,” said Kasper

As the three were chatting and cracking jokes, a man accidentally hit Clara, which caused her to drop the violin she was holding. The man was well dressed in a nice coat and suit, and he looked very young and handsome. He had his blonde hair combed neatly and slicked it back. Bookmark here

The man apologized for his actions and also gave enough cash to Clara as the violin was damaged. He did not look mysterious, but he sure was in a hurry. The man again started to rush his way in the pedestrian pathway.

After some time of conversation, Clara waved as she was leaving. Tristan accompanied Kasper in the gift workshop. After spending an hour of decision-making, Kasper chose to gift his dad a music player and his mom a figure of “Tyson Robot” from her popular TV series “Orion Mechs.”

After dropping Tristan in his apartment, Kasper headed to his home. His mom, Natalie and his dad Gilderic were waiting for him. Tomorrow was their big day!

Gilderic Zimmermann and his wife Natalie are the head astronaut commanders of NASA’s Mars-X8 mission, planned to launch the next day. Gilderic and his Crew have worked their butts off for eight whole years to make this a success.

The crew has successfully found answers to all the possible barriers that kept humanity from landing on Mars. They have discovered a perfect landing spot, an advanced spacecraft, and super suits to shelter them from the harsh Mars weather. The advanced spacecraft consisted of two rocket boosters, one large fuel tank, and a space shuttle. The space shuttle can operate both horizontally like a plane and vertically like a copter.Bookmark here

 This newly designed vehicle broke the limits of the previous spacecraft. Raymond Calvin, the space engineer, created this unique, innovative vehicle. Raymond was a very close family friend known from the start of the mission for eight years. Raymond was like an uncle to Kasper.Bookmark here

The whole world was going to witness the USA making history again in the field of astronomy. Kasper was proud of his parents as his dad will be the first person to step on Mars, so it is not surprising for people to ask imprudent questions about space to him.

The Zimmermann family spent their family time together as for the next two years, Kasper’s parents will be on the mission. Their trusted family butler Henry Marcs will take care of Kasper when his parents are out in the space. Gilderic and Natalie took the flight to Florida to reach the NASA hotel-like astronaut crew quarters facility as they will be spending their night there. 
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Gilderic Zimmermann (Head Commander), Natalie Zimmermann (Assistant Commander), Raymond Calvin (Head Space Engineer), Tobias Isaac (Secondary Space Engineer), Sebastian Bruno (Spacecraft Pilot), Victoria Jules (Spacecraft Co-Pilot), Ajda Melissa (Space Geologist), Irene Kjersti (Cosmonaut Researcher) and Andre Rodavan (Space Medicine & Psychologist) boarded the space shuttle as they were the nine crew members assigned for this mission.Bookmark here

The whole event was being streamed to the entire world through all social media platforms. The Rocket burned the propellants and pushed out the exhaust, thrusting towards the sky. The crew launched at 13:30 UT from the prominent Cape Kennedy in Brevard County, Florida.Bookmark here

The whole world was watching the USA create history again. People from different states and countries were watching this on their television and phones, including Kasper. Some countries were happy for America, and some countries were eagerly waiting for America to fail.Bookmark here

People monitoring the successful rocket launch from NASA HQ (Headquarters) were on top of the world with their happiness. They cheered, clapped, hugged, and were truly happy at their success, but this happiness didn’t last for long.Bookmark here

“This is Hudson from the HQ. Please respond. Roger. Over.”

“M-X8, do you read? Please respond. Over.”

“No Response. Over.”

The HQ team tried to connect, but there was no response from the space crew. The tension at the HQ gradually started to increase. The HQ team noticed that the spacecraft had left the earth’s atmosphere and was floating in space for 19 minutes. The team at the ground panicked. The interior cameras were also not operational until

“It’s back! It’s back! The cams are on!” shouted Hudson of the HQ as he put the cam view on the big screen, wide enough for all HQ members to take a look. The team was utterly frozen as their hands flew to their chests.Bookmark here

It was Tobias Isaac, the secondary space engineer. He seemed to be dead. In front of his motionless body, seven crew members were kneeling as their heads were aimed by guns held by two unidentified intruders with a different space uniform and Raymond Calvin, the space engineer himself. The HQ team seriously needed time to process what they were seeing.

“Did you turn the cams back on?” asked Raymond to one of the unknown intruders.

“Yes, sir, they are currently watching us.” the intruder replied back.

Raymond Calvin took a few steps and made sure he was at the center of focus of the screen. He stretched his arms wide, looking at the camera, took a deep breath, and dramatically announced,

“My beloved friends at the headquarters! Please allow me, Raymond Calvin, to present you with the world’s first spacecraft hijack! I assure you this will be a hell of fun.”
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