Everybody knows you should love your neighbor and help those in need, but does that apply when you're in the middle of the biggest race of the year? That's what the ASTROKIDS find out in this book from Robert Elmer. It's time for the spacepod race and the ASTROKIDS are determined to win. Boys against girls sounded like such a good idea--and each side was convinced they'd beat the other. But when unexpected problems force them to work together or not compete, will they be able to put aside their differences?
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Robert Elmer is a graduate of St. Mary's College and Simpson College in San Francisco. He has written four series for middle-grade readers: ADVENTURES DOWN UNDER, THE YOUNG UNDERGROUND, PROMISE OF ZION, and ASTROKIDS. He got his writing start as a newspaper reporter but has written everything from magazine columns to radio and TV commercials. Now he writes full time from his home in rural northwest Washington state, where he lives with his wife Ronda, and their three busy teenagers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Go, Captain Cosmos!
Here’s Tag Ortiz, the famous Space Scooter Grand Champion better known as...Captain Cosmos!
He’s powering around the far side of Mars.
He’s through the last turn.
And he’s still ahead.
And, oh yeah, this is...
The Amazing Adventures of Captain Cosmos/Episode 1
And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the hometown crowd back on the space station is going bonkers. How does Captain Cosmos know? He can hear everybody on CLEO-7 through his nifty wrist interface.
"Yaay!" gazillions of people shout. "Go, Captain Cosmos! Go, Captain Cosmos!"
Now he’s zipping through space as fast as his slick silver scooter will take him. (How fast? Really fast. Whoosh!) He’s passing comets, asteroids, Star-Broiled space-burger wrappers, and everything.
And the gazillions of people back at the station are still screaming, "Pick up the garbage, please, Tag!"
No, wait—that’s what his mom tells him. Everyone else is yelling, "You can do it!"
Yeah, he can do it. Last year, he won the 2174 Solar System Challenge—in his sleep. Win it one more time for the Gipper.
Yeah, but who’s the Gipper?
Captain Cosmos shakes off the question. It doesn’t matter. What matters now is hanging on in the home stretch. He checks the control panel to make sure all is okay.
Magnet shield? Still on.
Nav systems? Check.
Fwump! His hyperspace boosters kick in, fwumping his head back against the seat. That had to hurt. But at least he’s picking up speed.
Twenty...sixty...eighty-K! Has anyone ever raced this fast? Only Captain Cosmos! Mars is behind him. Earth, the blue planet dead ahead, is closing in fast.
But what’s this? That pesky second-place scooter is right on his tail. A nano-second later, she’s bumping, pushing.
The second-place driver yells into her interface, "Tag!"
"Eat my afterburners!" he yells back. But he can’t hold off the challenger much longer.
Someone raps on the outside of the captain’s view bubble.
"Tag, are you in there?" It’s the voice of his long-lost sister, Princess DeeBee-dala. "Hand me that bio-welder, would you?"
Huh? Where did she come from?
In a microsecond, he loses power and drops out of hyperspace.
Magnet shield? No more!
Nav systems? Offline!
There’s nothing to do but bail.
Meanwhile, back at CLEO-7...
Okay, so Princess DeeBee-dala was none other than my big sister, DeeBee. She is sooo smart. The smartest kid on CLEO-7, easy.
But she can also be kind of bossy sometimes.
She looks just like Princess DeeBee-dala, too. Only I don’t think Princess DeeBee-dala would wear plain pink coveralls and work on a space scooter.
"You need something?" I pushed up the plexi-bubble and peeked out at DeeBee. She looked like she was trying to attach a couple of sensors to the scooter’s left wing.
"I said, are you going to help me with this, or are you going to pretend you’re Captain Cosmos all morning?"
"Pretend? Whaddya mean, pretend? I was just practicing my moves for the big race."
"Practicing, pretending. Whatever." She blew a strand of dark hair out of her eyes. "You are such a...boy. Now, about the bio welder. Do you see it up there?"
I looked around the cockpit of our homemade space scooter. This was a T-1 class scooter, so it had only one small seat, just big enough for an AstroKid. The half seat behind that could hold MAC, DeeBee’s vacuum cleaner-sized drone. (You’ll meet him soon, if you haven’t before.) In front of both seats, some controls were wired in. Some weren’t. Stuff like the nav displays and thruster controls were missing. We still had a lot of work to do before the race.
You may not know what those things are. Well, trust me, DeeBee knows. If anybody could build a space scooter out of spare parts, it was DeeBee. It might look homemade, but she could do it.
And if anybody could pilot this thing, it was me. But still, I wondered... Could she finish the scooter in time?
"You’re not helping much," she told me.
"I thought you’d want me to practice driving."
"I told you before, Tag." She sighed. "You’re too young to drive in the race. Maybe next time."
She must have seen my bottom lip stick out. My bottom lip sticks out sometimes when I don’t want it to. Like last week, when I caught my finger in a digital food copier door. I was just trying to get another Blast-Off Bar. But that hurt.
I didn’t cry, though. No way. Are you kidding? Have you ever seen a galactic pilot cry? Still, that lip...
"Aw, Tag." DeeBee reached over and mussed my hair. I tried to get away. "Look, I still have to find that bio-welder. Maybe it’s in the storeroom. You stay here. See if you can find me a couple more 333X diodes for the thruster assembly. I’ll be right back."
I nodded and pulled my lip back in. Right. Three-thirty-three-X diodes for the thruster assembly. And I was thinking...
What’s a diode?
The Amazing Adventures of Captain Cosmos/Episode 2
"It’s a trick!" The captain jumps to his space scooter, pulls the view dome over his head, and straps himself in. "We can’t stay here. Princess DeeBee-dala needs our help, before the welder-creature captures her!"
Diodes? Who needs diodes? A rescue is more important.
Captain Cosmos starts flipping switches. (He’s very good at flipping switches.)
Nav system? Check-check.
No time for warming up the engine. "Here we goooo—"
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