Chapter 2:

Fabio Lazarath

Zero Continent


The two rocket boosters of the spacecraft landed in the Atlantic ocean; the empty fuel tank has also been detached and burnt up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Only the space shuttle was now floating in the outer atmosphere and charging itself using well-developed solar panels.
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May 30, 14:32 UT. One hour after the launch.
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The cams and transmission were switched off after Raymond’s proclamation. After half an hour, the voice transmission was back. Hudson of the HQ sat on his chair, calmed himself, wore his headset, and was ready to negotiate with the hijackers as his higher-ups were guiding him from beside.
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“Raymond, this is Hudson. We need confirmation if Tobias is dead or injured. Over.”
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“Dead. Over.” responded an unfamiliar voice that was not Raymond’s. The HQ knew it must be one of the two intruders, but they decided to continue their negotiation.Bookmark here

“Roger. Is there any other member injured? Over.”Bookmark here

“The other seven members are not injured. Over.”Bookmark here

“Are you requesting a give and take? Over.”

“We do, but we will not be the one to conciliate. Over.”
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“Then who will be partaking? Over,” asked Hudson.
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“Wait for a man wearing a trench coat; he will also have a jar of ants with him for identification. He will be explaining what we want. Also, remember the shuttle is made of hollow walls filled with chlorofluorocarbons and other similar gases.” Answered the intruder, and immediately he cut the transmission again.
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The part about chlorofluorocarbons confused everyone. The HQ was now under the direct command of NASA’s Administrator, Benjamin Doyle, who reported everything to the US president. He had quick decision-making skills. Even though a space hijack has never happened before, he decided to call the authorities who assist when a plane hijack occurs. The authorities started their investigation on the ground to look for clues.
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The signals started to blip suddenly. The HQ members watched the space shuttle boosting back to the stratosphere and was around 20km about sea level. The spacecraft was at high speed. After 25 minutes of horizontal flight over Europe, it went back to float in space and started recharging. This bizarre flying pattern left the HQ confused.
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It didn’t take long for the media to find this hot confidential information. The satellites that belonged to other major countries also noticed that the M-X8 shuttle was floating in space, diverting from its mission. The news flashed all over the internet. There were confusions, discussions, quarrels, jokes, and even memes from other countries on how two unidentified persons sneaked into one of the highly protected space agencies.
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“Are Raymond Calvin and the other two intruders aliens?”
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“How was NASA so careless?”Bookmark here

 “So are the taxpayers’ money all gone to waste?”Bookmark here

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“How much monetary value are the hijackers demanding?”
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The media and public outraged their questions to the US government. The nation which supported NASA in this mission was now against them. As soon as Kasper saw the news on TV and found out Raymond betrayed his dad, he charged to the HQ, which wasn’t that far from his place. His butler Henry tried to stop him, but it was useless as he has never seen Kasper so anxious and enraged at the same time.
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The security allowed Kasper into the facility, and even the security was sorry for him. Benjamin Doyle, the administrator, immediately noticed Kasper and invited him to his office. Benjamin consoled Kasper and tried his best to keep him calm. The head authority who was looking after the investigation barged into Doyle’s office.
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“Sir, we were able to gather some information about the hijackers,” said the officer.Bookmark here

“Please proceed,” said Doyle. The officer placed a bunch of papers and reports as he started to explain,Bookmark here

“Sir, the MX-8 mission was organized and planned before eight years under the leadership of Gilderic, who was under your administration. Raymond Calvin was selected to be the Head Space Engineer who also designed the spacecraft, so it is not a surprise if he added special secret compartments to hide weaponry.”

“What about the two intruders? How in the hell did they sneak into a highly secured facility?” interrupted Doyle.Bookmark here

“This might come as a surprise to you, but this is the only possible explanation. The crew might have worked on the project for eight years, but this does not mean our facility gave complete security to the space shuttle for eight years. Our maximum protection was only provided for the last seven years. As for the first year of making, the space shuttle was still in its base model and was being transported to many facilities for mechanical parts. Raymond was developing it, so we can guess he created secret compartments big enough for even people to stay.”
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“Ar..Ar.. Are you saying that the two intruders hid in the spacecraft for ei.. eight years with food being secretly supplied by Raymond?” questioned Doyle in a stammering voice.
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“Yes, sir. As the reports tell, Raymond checked on the space shuttle regularly, and it’s possible for him to provide them with food supplies and build a built-in toilet where the wastes are redirected to the burning chambers.”'
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“If what you are telling is true, then these guys are absolute mad lads.” Doyle then dialed the president and reported the current situation of the investigation.
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Kasper was still in an unhealthy mental state as it was hard for him to digest everything. He was also in the same room when the officer was reporting, so he couldn’t believe that the man he barbequed with a few weeks ago is now a state enemy.
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“He is here! He is here! The guy with the jar of ants is here!” shouted a member of the facility, which made everyone come out of their office to the ground floor to take a look.Bookmark here

When Kasper reached the ground floor, he immediately recognized him as the man who accidentally barged into Clara the other day. Kasper was confused about why everyone was waiting to see him. Then he slowly realized that the man would be the one to propose the deal that will save his parents. Bookmark here

“My name is Fabio Lazarath. It’s my pleasur-“ Bookmark here

“What do you want from us?” interrupted Doyle in a loud voice.Bookmark here

“Well, you see, the deal has to be made in a place where all world leaders are gathered, or else the deal won’t take place.” Replied Fabio.

“Wait. What? No way in hell that is happening. Do you expect us to arrange a meeting with a hijacker and all the world leaders? You crazy bastard!” Doyle declined Fabio’s wish ferociously. Bookmark here

“I think you impure humans have still not understood the situation you are put in. If you consider we are only holding the seven crew members as hostages, you are dead mistaken,” said Fabio.
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“Other than the crew members, who are you holding as hostages?” shouted Doyle as he was slowly losing his sanity.

Fabio smirked and said, “Everyone, literally, everyone on this planet is held hostage! If you don’t believe me, you can turn the Television on.”Bookmark here

The HQ was once again heartbroken after watching the news. The media has stopped flashing the MX-8 hot news and was streaming live from Monaco as it was bombed by the non-nuclear bombs dropped from the spacecraft an hour ago when it came back to the atmosphere. Nearly 30,000 people lost their lives. The entire Monegasques race was almost wiped from existence.
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Doyle’s heart started to beat fast as he didn’t know what decision to make except for one thought. The only way was to sacrifice the seven astronauts and destroy the bomb-loaded spaceship to save humanity. Even that was not possible as humanity never nuked something out of the atmosphere. No one knows how many more bombs are loaded in. The spacecraft can bomb any other country and go back to recharging and repeat the process.Bookmark here

Doyle thought of destroying the spaceship if it comes to the stratosphere, but a fact struck his mind that even if the United Nations decides to destroy the bomb-loaded spacecraft, the Chlorofluorocarbons would leak from the hollow walls of the spacecraft and create huge holes in the ozone, letting the Ultraviolet rays. The UV rays will then cause cancer and eliminate the plant life in weeks and the animal life in months. The entire humanity will erase.
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Doyle thought to himself, “The situation is far worse, and humanity has never seen something like this. My mind is blank, and there are no other options left other than giving this blonde bastard what he asked. I really can’t believe I am accepting my defeat, but this is checkmate”.
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Zero Continent


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