Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


copyright 2011 Stratomiker Syndicate

To get all the chapters click on 'Eternal Flame' on the sidebar.


Rick and Sally stared at each other for a moment, exchanging worried glances. The war between the Olympians and Zaxxons was over, and the Zaxxons had won it! And even though the robot was still smiling, they knew he was extremely upset.

"This is terrible, Princess," ABL089 said into the communicator. "Where are the King and Queen? Why are you at your uncle's villa?"

"My mother and father are being held captive in the Royal Palace by the Zaxxons," came Princess Athena's reply. "I was lucky enough to escape when the soldiers came, and I rode one of the horses out here to Uncle Orion's villa. But he's gone too! He went to Zaxxonia in search of Apollo."

ABL089 looked at Rick and Sally and shook his head in frustration. "What in the name of Andromeda are we going to do?" he asked. Then, to Princess Athena, "But don't worry, Princess, I'll soon be with you. And the Earthlings are terrific young people, just like you and Prince Apollo. Together we'll figure it all out."

"I hope so, Abey. I'll be waiting here for you. Lock into my laser beam with your ship's computer for landing guidance. May good fortune be with you!"

"And also with you, Princess." ABL089 slipped the microphone back onto the panel and hurried over to the control desk. Rick and Sally watched as he flipped several levers and typed a code on the row of keys.

"Now Aristotle is on laser guidance," he said, "and the beam from Princess Athena's unit will guide us to our landing place at the Elysian Fields."

Sally anxiously drummed her fingers on the control desk. Her faint smile held a touch of sadness. She was like, "Oh, Abey! The Princess is in a whole lot of danger. If the Zaxxons have the rest of the Royal Family in captivity, they'll want her too!"

"Right," Rick readily agreed, his hands on his hips and his face grim. "We've got to think of a way to protect her."

"We definitely can't stay at Orion's villa," ABL089 said. "The soldiers will surely look for her there.  That's where they found Apollo. We'll have to flee, but I don't know where to!"

"Yo, what's up?" Charlie asked as he came into the control room. "Why do we have to flee?"
Rick filled him in on the sudden turn of events.

Charlie groaned, all, "Talk about radical! This situation gets worse every minute." He turned to the robot. "But don't worry, Abey. Rick will think of something. He always does."

Rick grinned at Charlie's expression of confidence. "I sure hope I can this time. How are the officers?"

"They finally all came to. But they're still pretty out of it. I told them what's happened and they agreed to stay in there and rest. But Captain Ion insisted we call him when it's time to land the ship."

ABL089 nodded. "I'll let them rest a spell before telling them about the dreadful outcome of the war. It'll be a while yet before we land."

Rick was gazing thoughtfully at the glowing planet of Teutron on the viewscreen. "Tell us about the Eternal Flame, Abey. Why is it so terrible that the Zaxxons have stolen it?"

"Whoever possesses the Eternal Flame rules the planet," the robot explained. "It's the tradition on Teutron and nothing could change it, not even a signed edict from the gods. The Olympians have held the Eternal Flame for thousands of years and, because they are peace-loving people, they have allowed the Zaxxons to be free. But now that the Zaxxons possess the Eternal Flame, they'll no doubt turn Olympus into a military state. There will be no freedom for the Olympians!"

Sally frowned. "But why is the possession of the Eternal Flame of such great significance that it gives control over the entire planet? It doesn't make sense, tradition or not."

"It's the War Law of Teutron," ABL089 said. "You see, thousands of years ago there was a great nuclear war between the two nations of the planet. The Olympians conquered the Zaxxons, who had begun the Great War. But almost every one of the planet's great cities had been destroyed, and millions of lives were lost."

"Yow, that's pretty dreadful," Charlie said. "Thousands of people all over Earth are calling for nuclear disarmament. The same thing could happen there!"

"It certainly could," the robot agreed. "And for the sake of your people, I hope it doesn't. After the Great War on Teutron, the rulers of both nations met and signed the agreements known as the War Law. It strictly forbids the production or use of any nuclear weapons on the planet, in times of peace or war. At this same meeting, the Eternal Flame, then used for the Annual Games in Olympia, was placed in a golden vessel and given to the Olympian King as a token of victory. It was taken to the new site of the city of Olympia, for the old city had been destroyed by the warheads, and enshrined in the Temple of the Sun. The War Law states that whichever nation possesses the Eternal Flame rules the planet, and throughout the ages this law has been respected and upheld."

"A wise decision," Rick said. "It probably saved Teutron from another nuclear holocaust."
Sally shook her head sadly. "But now the Zaxxons have the Eternal Flame, and with it the rule of the planet."

"And the Olympians will no longer live in freedom," ABL089 added.

Charlie growled in frustration. "If only there was something we could do!"

"There is!"

It was Rick who had spoken, and in a low firm voice. The others all looked at him and saw the grim determination on his face.

Then he was like, "When we land on Teutron we'll go and find this Eternal Flame!"

Charlie gaped at him quizically for a moment, then excitement flamed in his eyes. "Dude! Right! We'll find the Eternal Flame for the Olympians same as we found the missing Yukon expedition last winter."

Sally beamed too, catching their passion. She was all, "Totally! Ohmygod, it'll be huge! And we'll rescue Prince Apollo too. Then the Olympians will be sure to reward us by taking us back to Earth."

ABL089 looked pretty astounded. "Do you think you can do all that?"

"Of course we can," Rick said. "There's a way to accomplish anything that has to be done. We'll just have to figure it out."

Charlie put his arm around the robot's shoulder. "And we'll change the Olympians' opinion of Earthlings too. Completely!"

Sally pointed to the viewscreen. "Look, you can see the two continents of Teutron now."

On the screen was the image of the planet, its two great continents now clearly defined. In the northern extremities the two masses of land almost touched each other, separated only by a narrow channel of water. Southward, the waters widened into a mighty sea and the lower regions of the continents wrapped around the globe.

ABL089 pointed to the left side of the screen. "That's Olympus, and Zaxxonia is on the right. The Elysian Fields are in the northern tip of Olympus, near the channel separating the continents." He pointed to the location of the Elysian Fields and then to the site of the city of Olympia, not far west of it.

"There's a place called the Elysian Fields in the mythology of Earth's ancient Greeks," Rick told him. "It's supposed to be a beautiful land where those who lived good lives go after they die."

The robot looked fascinated. "Then it's similar to the Elysian Fields of Olympus. Ours is a delightful region populated mostly by retired folks. Unfortunately, we'll have to leave the district as soon as we land. We've got to take the Princess to a place where the Zaxxons can't find her."

Sally got up from her seat at the control desk. "Charlie, will you take over? There's something I want to do for the Princess."

"Sure." He took the empty seat. "What's up? What are you going to do?"

"You'll find out later." She smiled mysteriously as she left the control room.

Charlie shook his head as he eyed the controls. "Humphh! Girls! They always have to have secrets."

As the ship flew towards Teutron, ABL089 and the boys remained at the control station discussing the turn of events on the planet and the courses of action open to them after landing.

"Where's the last place the Zaxxons would look for the Princess?" Rick asked.

"Why, in Zaxxonia, of course," was ABL089's quick reply.

Rick nodded thoughtfully. "Then that's where we ought to go."

Charlie agreed. "Good idea. They'll never think of looking for her in their own country. And I'll bet that's where they've taken the Eternal Flame."

"And Prince Apollo too," Rick added.

"I think you've got the right idea," ABL089 agreed. "We can escape the Zaxxons and search for Prince Apollo and the Eternal Flame all at the same time."

Rick looked up at the viewscreen. "Abey, is there a way we can cross the channel from Olympus to Zaxxonia?"

"I'm sure we can find some means of transportation, Rick. Orion owns an airship, the latest model. Perhaps it's still at his villa."

"Perfect." Rick crossed his fingers hopefully. "I hope it's there. There's no time to waist once we land. We have to get Princess Athena out of Olympus as fast as possible."

When landing time was near, Rick and Charlie went to sick bay to inform the crew. Although still weak from their injuries, Captain Ion and Officer Polamus returned to the control room with the boys. The other two men were unable to resume their responsibilities and had to remain on the bunks.

ABL089 told the Captain and his mate about the recent occurrences on Teutron and that the ship would be landing at the Elysian Fields rather than at the Olympia spaceport. The officers took this news with the calm reserve common to military men and proceedings were begun for landing.
After entering the atmosphere, the spaceship was soon sailing smoothly over the surface of Teutron. Rick and Charlie watched the viewscreen as the craft flew over a rugged mountain range riddled with glaciers, and then down to a district of rolling hills and orchards.

"We're now flying over the Elysian Fields," ABL089 said from his post at the communications panel. "In a few minutes we'll arrive at Orion's villa."

Sally came into the control room and greeted the two officers.  "We're almost there!" she said excitedly.

Charlie eyed her curiously. "What have you been doing?"

"I was in the lounge. I baked more brownies and cookies with Aunt Bea's supplies. That spectra-wave oven in the galley is outta sight! It works ten times as fast as the microwaves we have on Earth."

Charlie gave her a dirty look. He was all totally, "Puh! Thanks for bringing me some to eat. I'm freakin' starving."

Sally wrinkled her nose at him. "Dude, you are always starving. They're for the Princess, anyway. I hope she likes them."

"You can count on it that she will," said Officer Polamus, who was sitting with the Captain at the control desk. "I've never tasted anything here on Teutron with that unique flavor in those food samples I found on Earth."

"You must mean the chocolate," Rick said. "It comes from the cocoa bean, the seed of the cacao tree that grows in the tropical Americas on Earth."

"I wonder if we have any such plant growing here on Teutron," Captain Ion mused. "Why don't you check it out, Abey?"

The robot nodded and closed his eyes. The others could hear the whirring in his head as he checked his memory banks. When his eyes opened, he said, "I have no data of a similar plant in existence on our planet. There's also no word for 'chocolate' in any of the contemporary Teutronic languages. It must be a commodity particular to Earth."

Charlie hooted, all,  "Man, do I ever feel sorry for Teutronites. Life without chocolate! Who could imagine? That's what I call majorly deprived."

"Well, get yourself prepared for deprivation," Sally told him. "That's just what we'll be experiencing when our supply of cookies and brownies is gone."

Rick smiled to himself. Here they were, landing a spaceship on a planet besieged by worldwide war, in a nation now occupied by a barbarian enemy, and they were all talking about chocolate.

"Some good might come out of this trip to Teutron after all," he said. "I think Charlie's going to lose those extra pounds he's been carrying around lately."

Charlie sneered at him. "Think so, huh? Don't count on it. I'll find something on this planet to eat!"

Just then, the spaceship approached a populated area and they all turned to look at the viewscreen. Scattered here and there amongst the rolling fields were large stone villas. Captain Ion guided the ship above them to an open field aside one of the homes, and then he and Officer Polamus brought the craft down to a gentle landing.

"Home at last!" ABL089 croaked happily as he left his post at the communications panel and crossed to the control desk. "Captain, I must report directly to the Princess. I'll take Rick, Charlie and Sally with me."

"Certainly." Captain Ion turned to Rick, Charlie and Sally and thanked them for their help in saving the ship and its crew from disaster. "Unfortunately, this is not a good time for you to visit Teutron," he added. "But King Pallas will be informed of the help you've given us and, should Olympus once again rule the planet, he will see to it that you are properly rewarded."

"The only reward we want is to be taken back to Earth," Rick told him. "Olympus must rule again. That's the bottom line!"

After leaving the control room, they followed ABL089 to the lounge. The robot took his flight bag from a cupboard and, after adding to its contents the cookies and brownies Sally had baked, they hurried down the corridor and out the lowered ramp.

Awaiting them in the field were several servants from Orion's villa. One of them, a tall woman dressed in a simple tunic-like gown, stepped forward to greet them.  "Abey! What good fortune that you have safely returned. Are these the Earthlings you told the Princess about?"

"Indeed they are," he nodded eagerly, introducing them to the woman whose name was Hestia, the housekeeper at Orion's villa.

With an expression of awe she greeted Rick, Charlie and Sally, welcoming them to Teutron. Then she turned and gave orders to the other servants who had been standing there gawking at them.

As the servants hurried up the ramp to carry out the orders and attend to the crew, Hestia gestured to follow her.
"Come, we must hurry. Princess Athena has already left the villa. She was afraid to stay any longer in case the Zaxxon soldiers came back looking for her."

ABL089 was dismayed. He was all, "The Princess isn't here? Where did she go?"

As they hurried across the field to the villa, Hestia told them that Princess Athena had gone to Elysia, a nearby resort town, and that she wanted them to meet her there at a night club called the New Wave Canteen.

"She rode her horse to Elysia," Hestia added. "There are four other stallions in the corral saddled and ready for you."

"What about Orion's airship?" the robot asked. "Is it not here?"

"No, he flew off in it yesterday to Zaxxonia, the old fool!" Hestia rolled her eyes in dismay. "He went alone to look for Prince Apollo, and we are all worried to death about him."

ABL089 groaned as well as his cheerful programming allowed. "Then we'll have to ride the horses. But first we must get some clothes for our friends. They can't travel about our planet in those Earth clothes!"

The villa was set into a gently sloping hillside and a series of  landscaped terraces led up to the entrance. They hurried up the stone steps and entered the sprawling house. After sending Sally off with Hestia, ABL089 led Rick and Charlie down a marble-floored hall and into a large airy chamber at its end.

"This is the room Prince Apollo uses when he visits here," he said as he pulled open louvered closet doors. "Good, some of his clothes are here. You are all three about the same size, so they should fit you. While you boys change, I'll go to the kitchens and pack some supplies."

"Yes, food! Lotsa food!" Charlie shouted after him.

He and Rick pulled off their clothes and piled them on a shelf in the large closet. Charlie burst out laughing as he slipped into one of Prince Apollo's tunics.

He was totally, "Why do they dress like this here? It's so queer. I feel like I'm wearing a mini dress!"

Rick cracked up, laughing at his friend. "Your legs sure ain't as nice as Sally's, bud. Hard to believe, huh? They had nuclear war thousands of years ago, but no one here has invented jeans and tee-shirts yet!"

"I feel like we're getting in costume for one of those Greek tragedies the Lake University Drama Club puts on," Charlie added.

Rick belted the tunic he had pulled on. "We are dressing for a tragedy. The one playing out now right here on Teutron. Sheez! I sure hate to think of the Princess out there all alone with the Zaxxons on her trail."

Charlie slipped on a pair of sandals and tied the straps that came up to his calves. "Ditto on that. I hope she'll be safe in Elysia till we get there." He gaped down at his feet, all, "Man, how nuts is this? Gladiator shoes!"

There was a backpack on the closet floor and they put extra underwear and a couple changes of clothing in it. Rick flung it over his shoulder and they left the room. They met Sally in the entrance hall. She was wearing a simple white tunic-like gown, and she also carried a backpack.

"This is Princess Athena's dress," she told them. "Pretty neat, eh? Hestia said that the weather here is almost always warm. You seldom have to wear anything heavier than these light garments."

Rick nodded admiringly. "You look pretty ultra," he said. "Just like an Olympian Princess."

"I'll say she does," ABL089 agreed as he entered the hall. "With her long golden hair, Sally's almost a double for Princess Athena."

The girl's eyes widened. "Yikes! Then I hope the Zaxxons don't see me!"

The robot was carrying two backpacks now. "I put some supplies in these," he said, handing one to Charlie. "You young people do know how to ride horses, don't you?"

Rick assured him they did, having grown up riding the horses at the Connors' farm. As they crossed the marble floor to the door, Hestia came running into the hall.

"You've got to hurry," she said in worried tones. "Zaxxon soldiers are approaching the villa. Their road vehicles are coming down the lane. They've come back again! It was so awful when they were here earlier and took Prince Apollo!"

"We're outta here!" Rick said. "Let's go!"

"May good fortune be with you!" they heard Hestia cry as they rushed outside.

As they ran down the terrace steps and across to the outbuildings, the rumble of the approaching Zaxxon vehicles could be heard. Rick turned to look down the tree-lined lane that led up to the house. He could see a formation of rocket-shaped tank-like trucks speeding toward them.

"I hope they don't see us riding off on the horses," he shouted. "They won't have any trouble catching us in those space-age trucks of theirs."

ABL089 looked at him with wide eyes. "No way, Rick. Those are ground vehicles. They can't fly."

"Fly? Well neither do horses," Sally laughed as they rounded the corner of a large stone barn.

The next moment she stopped dead in her tracks and stared ahead, her eyes wide with astonishment.

Charlie, too, came to an abrupt halt. He gawked ahead in total amazement.

"Dude! Raider! Do you see what I see?" he blurted.

Rick's grin was almost as wide as ABL089's.

He was all, totally, "I sure do, buddy. Those Zaxxons won't catch us now!"

In a corral directly ahead of them were four white stallions, each with a long flowing mane, and each with a pair of beautiful widespread wings.

ABL089 let out a shrill peal of laughter. "I take it the horses on Earth don't fly, eh? Well, you kids are in for the ride of your life. These are four of the fabulous flying Pegasi of Teutron!"

Coming next! Chapter Seven: THE FLIGHT OF THE PEGASI

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Rick Raider:

copyright 2011 Stratomiker Syndicate
To get all the chapters click on 'Eternal Flame' on the sidebar.


Rick Raider jumped to his feet, steadying himself against the swaying of the Olympian spaceship. It felt like his heart was in his throat, it was pounding so hard. It was too much to comprehend that he was being called upon to pilot an intergalactic spaceship in a battle with enemy craft!

"Yo! Let's get going," he called to his friends as he headed to the doorway. "This is like totally insane, but we've got to do it!"

Charlie and Sally, for the first time Rick could ever remember, were speechless as they  scrambled up and rushed across the room as the runaway craft careened through space.

"The Zaxxon warships are small and their phasers aren't as powerful as our quasar torpedoes," ABL089 told them as they hurried down the corridor.

"Then we stand a chance against them?" Charlie asked breathlessly, finding his voice once again.

"Yes, we can destroy the Zaxxons if we can get the ship under control."

Sally hurried on with her hands against the wall to keep her balance. "What happened to the crew members?"

"They were hurled against the walls and equipment, and injured," the robot said as they arrived at a red door at the corridor's end. He reached out his hand and the door dissolved.

"Captain Ion has a wound on his head and I fear his two assistants were further injured by electrical discharge. The blast short-circuited some equipment."

"What about the Quantae-drive engineer?" Rick asked.

ABL089 shrugged, his big smile incongruous with the dangerous situation. "He's down in the engine room. I tried to contact him but there was no response. We'll have to check on him later. Right now we've got to get this ship under control!"

The control room was directly in the bow of the spacecraft. In front was a large viewscreen showing the stars as the ship plummeted through them. Along the walls were computer stations and equipment, hundreds of lights flashing and blinking. The acrid smell of smoke was in the air. A man was slumped against a counter by one of the stations, and two others were sprawled on the floor in front of a large control desk in the center of the room. All three wore belted tunics of a military style.

Rick looked around quickly and assessed the situation. He never would have believed that one day he'd be commandeering a spaceship, but he set his jaw firmly and followed ABL089 to the control desk.

"Charlie, see if you and Sally can revive these men," he ordered. Then,  "Abey, what do we have to do?"

The robot sat down in front of the control station. "Just follow my instructions."

Rick took the seat next to him and looked over the myriad of controls. He could feel himself trembling, but he knew it was from the thrill of excitement as well as a tinge of fear.

"The ship is run by the computer, Rick, but now it's out of control." ABL089 pointed to a lever directly in front of him. "I'll pull this lever to reactivate computer control. Aristotle will take over again. You have to work those four instruments in front of you to direct our movement while we fight the Zaxxons. I'll control the ship's speed."

Rick ran his fingers through his hair. This was like a total video game nightmare. The real thing! And billions of miles into outer space.

He was like, "It's a cinch. Let's do it!"

ABL089 pulled the lever. Lights flashed up and down the control panel in front of them and the ship slowly returned to a more even flight. As Rick manipulated the controls, he looked up to the viewscreen and saw that they were now flying through the stars in a normal manner.

"All systems go," he grinned. "At least the phaser blast didn't do us in."

ABL089 nodded. "Not likely, Rick. It would take a lot more than one phaser to destroy this ship."

Rick chuckled. "I am so totally glad to hear that!"

The robot reached over to press a control that changed the viewscreen to a rear prospect. The image on the large screen immediately changed to one showing the three enemy warships once again closing in behind them.

"Oh brother, here they come again," Charlie muttered from behind.

Rick turned to look at him. "What's up with the Captain and his assistants?"

"They're totally out, man. All three of them. We dragged them back to the carpeted area by the door. Sally's with them, but they sure need a doctor." Charlie's eyes bugged out at the viewscreen. "Hey, we'd better get away from those Zaxxons!"

Rick glanced back up at the screen, his dark eyes hard and cold. "Give this baby some gas, Abey!"

The robot increased the speed and Rick guided the ship upward. The Olympian craft streaked high above the Zaxxon ships in a wide arc.

Charlie was all, "They're coming after us. Get behind them, dude! Let's show those Zaxxons a thing or two and blast them right out of space."

"That's exactly what we must do, boys," ABL089 said. "Those warships are manned by Zaxxon robots that are programmed to kill or be destroyed."

Rick's eyes widened. "You mean we're fighting for our lives against robots?"

"Right. But they're not nice ones like me," ABL089 assured him. "Nothing will stop them from trying to destroy us."

As if to verify his statement, one of the Zaxxon ships flew out ahead of the others and fired a phaser that streaked through space at them. But Rick guided the ship upward, escaping the phaser's path and then, suddenly, he flew off to port side. Again, just as quickly, he shot downward.

Charlie urged him on. "Max it, Rick. Yo, to the limit!"

The warships were no longer behind them, and ABL089 switched the viewscreen to its forward prospect as Rick guided the ship upward again.

Sally rushed up to the control desk from behind. Her green eyes shone with excitement. She was all totally, "Yay! Good going, Rick! We're behind them now!"

The Zaxxon warships were up ahead of them, flying in formation. Rick had his eyes pinned on them.

"Man the torpedoes!" ABL089 shouted excitedly as he manipulated several controls.

Sections of the control panel lit up and a bullseye marker was superimposed over the image on the viewscreen.

"Line up the ships in the center of that bullseye," the robot directed, "and we'll torpedo those lousy Zaxxon robots."

Sally looked questioningly at them. "Robots?"

Charlie explained that robots manned the enemy ships and that they were programmed to kill.

Sally placed her hands on ABL089's shoulders. "Whew! I am  so totally glad you're not like them, Abey."

The plastic-like man chuckled. "I'd rather have windmills in my head than Zaxxon microchips!"

Then Rick guided the ship close in behind the three warships. He worked the controls so that one of the Zaxxon ships was directly in the center of the bullseye.

"Charlie, you press that torpedo trigger," ABL089 ordered. "It's that flashing button right in the center of the panel."

Charlie eagerly reached between Rick and the robot and slammed the trigger. He was like, "Red death for you, buster!"

A fiery beam shot across the viewscreen and connected with the Zaxxon ship. The small spacecraft exploded in a brilliant flash of light. A moment later all trace of it had disappeared.

"Good shot!" ABL089 cheered. "One down and two to go."

Rick zeroed in on one of the two remaining ships. The pilot of the craft tried to get away by swooping off into different directions, but Rick followed closely. Soon he had the warship in the dead center of the bullseye.

Charlie slammed the trigger and the quasar torpedo zoomed ahead. It hit the Zaxxon ship squarely, and the enemy craft exploded.

Sally jumped excitedly. "Excellent! One more and we'll be home free."

The remaining enemy ship was far on the left of the screen. Rick went after it port side and ABL089 increased the speed.

"Go for it!" Charlie urged. "The darn sucker!"

"Just watch me!" Rick laughed, then followed the erratic flight of the fleeing enemy craft.

It swooped up, then off to starboard, back quickly port side, and then it spiraled downward. They followed it closely, keeping it within the bullseye.

"Get ready, Connors," Rick said tensely, beads of perspiration showing on his forehead. "As soon as that craft is in the center of the target, give it the gun."

Anxiously, the foursome watched the viewscreen as Rick made every attempt to center the enemy craft in the target. Slowly but surely he did as Charlie held his fist poised above the trigger.

"Now!" Rick hissed.

Charlie was all, "You are SO dead!"  And he banged down his fist.

Their eyes were glued to the big screen as the torpedo streaked to the center of the bullseye and hit its target square on. The Zaxxon ship burst into an explosion of light.

A spontaneous cheer rose up amongst them.

"Good fortune!" ABL089 squeaked. "I knew we could do it!"

"Awesome flying, dude," Charlie said to Rick as they slapped hands together in a high five.

Rick grinned with relief. He was like, "Hey, it was a slam dunk. Good thing I was playing Star Death last night. Who knew it'd prepare me for a real fight in space today?"

"And some people say that playing computer games is a waste of time," Sally harrumphed. "It sure helped save the day for us. Totally big ups to you, guys!"

ABL089 switched off the control for the target marker and it disappeared from the screen. Then he turned a series of dials and typed in a code on a row of keys along the top of the panel. The ship dipped and sailed in a wide arc before leveling off again.

"There!" He turned to the others. "Now the ship is under automatic computer control and Aristotle will guide us on a course to Teutron. We will arrive there shortly."

"We'd better see to the crew," Rick reminded them. "Jeez, We've got to give them some kind of first aid."

ABL089 got up from his seat. "Sally, the boys and I will carry the officers to sick bay. I want you to stay here and keep an eye on the controls."

"Gladly," Sally agreed, and he showed her how to change the views on the viewscreen so that she could watch for enemy ships.

He pointed to a red lever. "If you see any flying objects out there, pull this lever. It'll set off the sirens and we'll come running."

Leaving Sally at the control post, the boys and ABL089 carried the officers down the corridor into sick bay. Captain Ion had come to and he was mumbling groggily. After the men  had been placed on elevated bunks, the robot led the boys down to the engine room.

Officer Janus, the Quantae-drive engineer, was found sprawled on the floor. His forehead was bleeding where he had banged it on a large pipe after having been knocked off his feet by the phaser blast. After they had carried him up to sick bay, ABL089 examined the officers with an electronic device similar to a small microscope. It was attached to a machine that monitored the bodily functions.

"None of them seem to have been seriously injured," he said at length. "You know, sometimes I'm glad I'm not human. The blast threw me too, but it takes more than a hard knock to throw this plastic head of mine out of whack!"

He opened a cupboard and withdrew a number of first aid items, including a small vial. He instructed Charlie to clean and dress the head wounds of the Captain and Officer Janus, and to revive them and the other men with the chemical in the vial.

Captain Ion was mumbling incoherently. ABL089 looked at him. "Charlie, when the Captain is aware of what's going on, give him a full account of the situation. But insist that he stays here and rests with the others. Rick and I will be in the control room. I have to contact the spaceport in Olympia and let them know we'll soon be landing."

"Gotcha!" Charlie turned to the bunk the Captain was on and held the vial underneath his nose.

Rick followed ABL089 out of the sick bay and they hurried over to the control room.

"Everything is A-OK," Sally told them. "No more Zaxxon ships in sight. But I think someone was trying to make radio contact with the ship. Static was coming from the speakers. There was a voice too, but I could barely hear it. I couldn't make out what it was saying."

"That's very odd," ABL089 said, raising his bushy brows. "There wouldn't be static if the spaceport was trying to contact us. The Quantae-space waves can reach us clearly anywhere, especially now that we're so close to Teutron."

He looked at the viewscreen. It now showed a glowing planet suspended in the black void of space.

"Maybe the ship's communication equipment was damaged by the Zaxxon phaser," Rick suggested. "It might not be picking up the signal properly."

"That's easy enough to find out." ABL089 walked over to a communications station on the side wall. He manipulated several devices and lights flashed up and down the panel.

"Everything is all right," he said. "It's really strange to receive a weak transmission. There must be trouble in Olympia. I'd better contact the spaceport."

He picked up a microphone from the panel and was about to turn a dial on the board when a rush of static filled the room. It was followed by a voice:

"Explorer ship XZ89, do you copy? Do not contact Olympia spaceport or land your ship there. Danger in Olympia!"

Another rush of static followed the message. Then, dead silence.

Rick was like, "Uh oh." He felt a chill streak up his back. He turned to the robot. "Looks like we're heading into more trouble, Abey."

ABL089's big eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of his head. "Great Andromeda! That was the voice of Princess Athena!"

"The Princess?" Sally repeated, startled. "Oh, what's going on? I hope she's okay!"

"Shhh!" Rick warned as the static filled the room again.

The voice followed. "Explorer ship XZ89. If you copy, please transfer to laser beam communication. I repeat: transfer to laser beam communication."

ABL089 immediately began to work some controls on the panel. "The Princess is contacting us from a laser beam communicator," he said excitedly. "I'm now hooking into the beam coming from her unit so I can transmit to her over it."

When the connection to laser communication was complete, he spoke into the microphone. "Princess Athena, this is ABL089 speaking. We are now connected for communication."

"Abey!" The excited voice of the Princess now clearly filled the room. "Oh what good fortune that my beam located your ship! Are you safe? I was so worried about you! It's been reported that Zaxxon warships are patrolling the quadrant to destroy the returning explorer ships."

"We were attacked by three warships upon entering the solar system," ABL089 told her. "The crew's been injured but I was able to regain control of the ship and destroy the Zaxxons with the help of three Earthlings who accidentally stowed away on our ship."

"Earthlings!" came the stunned response of the Princess. "Well, there's nothing to do but to bring them here with you. I'm at my uncle's villa on the Elysian Fields, and you have to land the ship here. The city of Olympia has been occupied by the Zaxxons, and they have stolen the Eternal Flame from the Temple of the Sun!"

ABL089 looked at Rick and Sally, his mouth agape.

Then he was like, "They stole the Eternal Flame? But that means there is no longer any hope for the nation of Olympus!"

The voice of the Princess was very sad. "You are right, Abey. The war is over and the Zaxxons have conquered our nation. They now rule the entire planet of Teutron!"

Coming next, Chapter Six: THE ELYSIAN FIELDS

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Margaret Sutton signing a book for fan Joyce Wallner at the Coudersport
Senior Center in June of 1997.

Joyce Wallner in the country kitchen of the Dry Brook Hollow house, 1997.

One of the bridges over Dry Brook leading to the Dry Brook Hollow house.

In June of 1997 Margaret Sutton had come to Coudersport PA with a family member to speak at the Senior Citizen Center, as related in part 2 of this series of posts. This went over quite well. There was a nice crowd of fans and others who were interested, both children and adults, and Margaret spoke well for a person in her nineties. She talked about family life and her writing career and answered many questions put to her by the crowd. It was a very successful appearance.

After speaking, Margaret signed copies of the Judy Bolton books for fans, but her family member would allow her only to sign copies of the reprinted Applewood Judy Bolton books that were purchased right there at the Center that day. Signing of any other volumes was prohibited. Of course, Margaret did sign other books for fans she knew, but her companion was not happy with this. The push was to sell copies of the Applewood books.

These had been published a few years before and were facsimile copies of the original first editions - the first two books with dust jackets, and the last two books in the series, which were picture covers. I had personally met with Phil Zuckerman of Applewood Books at the Nancy Drew Conference at the University of Iowa in 1993 and planned for these books to be reproduced. I gave him the books to copy and hooked him up with Margaret Sutton to get her okay and take care of the business end of it.

Margaret was very happy to have these books back in print, especially the last two, Glowing Hand and Sand Castle, because they were pretty hard to find at that time and selling for hundreds of dollars each. Here were nice sturdy facsimile copies for under $20! She spoke about liking the new books and she also spoke about the 'illegal' copies printed by Aeonian/Amereon publishers on Long Island. She claimed that this publisher, whom she called 'the mad printer' did not have her permission to print her books. They were nice looking hardcover editions with facsimile interiors and sold for almost $30 each. She also claimed she was getting no royalties for them.

This company had contacted me trying to get copies of certain Chip Hilton books, hard to find and expensive, to reprint for lower priced selling. But I knew that the Chips were still copyright-protected and that the daughter of the author was updating the stories for publishing
, and when I talked to her agent about this I was told definitely not to send Aeonian/Amereon copies. So I was not surprised when Margaret's family member said that they would walk to the very end of Long Island (where the publisher was located) to get the royalties due. Apparently they did, or took care of the business without having to do all that walking, because the next year when Margaret came to town again, the Aeonian/Amereon books were available for sale and signing at the library where she spoke. And they are still for sale to this day.

Margaret had been invited for breakfast the following morning at the Kerns' house in Odin PA, which is the Dry Brook Hollow house in the Judy Bolton books. This house sits in a hollow in the lovely PA mountains halfway between Coudersport (Farringdon) and Austin (Roulsville) in Potter County. Margaret was born in this house, built by her father in the 1890s, and she lived in it until she was nine years old. This was the first time she had visited there in all those years.

The Kerns cooked a wonderful breakfast for a select group of fans and friends and my friend Fred and I carried Margaret in a chair made of our linked hands about five-hundred feet from the end of the drive across two bridges that span Dry Brook (Freeman Run) and up the hill to the house. Margaret was in great shape at that time and it was easy to carry her even such a distance as that. She had a great time and enjoyed her visit to her childhood home. We were surprised to learn that Margaret, at her advanced age, had stayed in a campground the night before in a camper! Had we known, we all certainly would have chipped in to get her a nice comfortable motel room.

In June of 1998, Margaret again returned to Coudersport, this time to speak at the Coudersport library. She was accompanied by all her children, all middle-aged adults. Again she did signing, but only the books that were purchased there at the library that day. Applewood editions and the Aeonian/Amereon editions were available. Beautiful reproduction dust jackets had been added to the Aeonian/Amereon editions, and they were hard to resist. I bought about a dozen of them myself, they were so attractive. These books can still be purchased with the repro DJs through ads in The Whispered Watchword and other series book fanzines.

However, Margaret's speech turned into a disaster. It was apparent almost immediately that her health and mind had failed quite a bit during the year since we had seen her last, and she could not concentrate on the topics she wanted to speak about. She kept going off on strange tangents and had to be prodded back on track by her kids several times. At one point she was particularly addressing a group of children sitting on the floor at her feet, and she was telling them and all the others how she had to entertain her husband's girlfriend at home years ago, and even cook for her. This riled up her kids, of course, and they tried to get her to change the subject, but Margaret was determined to tell everyone about it and continued with some really juicy tidbits until her children actually put an end to her speaking.

It was sad. It was obvious that Margaret was failing and that she was no longer fit to be speaking in public. Her children most probably didn't know this because none of them lived near the PA nursing home and may not have seen much of her in the last year to know that she had gotten so bad. It was the last time she appeared in public. Fans continued to visit her at the nursing home for a couple more years until she got too sick to have visitors, and she then passed away in 2001 at the age of 98. A memorial service was held in Coudersport for her on the Judy Bolton Day that October.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



In June of 1996 the first Margaret Sutton Day was held in Coudersport PA by the Potter County Educational Council in conjunction with Adelphia Communications, at that time the third largest cable company in the country and headquartered in Coudersport. I did not attend this event because I couldn't get away from work, but many members of the Judy Bolton Society and the Phantom Friends did, even though Margaret herself was not in attendance.

The main event was a reenactment of Judy and Peter's 'rainbow' wedding on the lawns of the Judge Lewis house, the Victorian mansion used in the books as the Farringdon-Pett mansion. This was the 50th Anniversary of the wedding which took place in the 1946 book The Rainbow Riddle.
Reverend Bob Merten, Margaret Sutton's friend and personal assistant to John Rigas, the billionaire CEO of Adelphia Communications, officiated at the ceremony. A cast of local young people played Judy and Peter and the members of the bridal party, and the bridesmaids wore gowns representing the colors of the rainbow, as did Judy's bridesmaids in the book.

This was a significant and well-attended event. Judy Bolton had by now become a civic pride icon in Potter County. The annual Judy Bolton Day weekends held in October were reported on in the local newspapers and radio stations; the mural depicting Judy Bolton characters, settings, and the books themselves had been painted in the Austin school cafeteria via a state grant; and all the county students had  been reading the Judy Bolton books as part of their curriculum for several years now. The beautiful mountainous and forested Potter County had been known for decades as God's Country. Now it was also being called 'Judy Bolton Country'.

A similar event was planned for the following year and it was hoped that Margaret herself could come to town to speak. She had come a couple years before to speak at the Austin School (Austin being Roulsville), when the mural had been completed. At the time, the mid-nineties, Margaret was living in a nursery home at nearby Williamsport PA, a couple hours drive away. Reverend Merten and several of the fans visited her there on a regular basis. It was not known if her children, all grown adults who lived at various places around the country, attended to her there. When she came to speak at the school, Adelphia was in charge of it.

Thus, we were happily surprised to hear the following spring of 1997 that Margaret Sutton Day would again be held in June and that Margaret herself would be there to speak at the Senior Citizen Center, accompanied by one of her children. We all looked forward to this because we did not know any of the family.

What a surprise we were in for!

When we met in Coudersport that June of 1997  Margaret Sutton was indeed there, accompanied by her family member. This person's attitude toward us fans was bossy, rude, and obviously with the notion that we were were somehow using Margaret to our advantage. We were told to stay away from Margaret, not to sit at table with her, not to take photos of her while she was drinking (water!). Some of us were also accused of being in cahoots with John Rigas of Adelphia, who had been forbidden by this person to attend any of the events even though his company was helping to sponsor them. Also we learned that Reverend Merten was banned from attending because it was believed that he had been trying to get Margaret to marry him so that he could get control of her copyrights (Judy Bolton and others) for Adelphia.

This was all pretty shocking to us and some of us did not take kindly to this rude treatment and the accusations. We had been good friends to Margaret, promoted the Judy Bolton books at our own expense, and had no iterest in making money from it. Margaret herself did not seem to be aware of any of this going on. She was into her nineties by then and we did not have the close access to her we used to have to quiz her about it. It was like she was being guarded!

We didn't know what her family had heard to give them such ideas. It was true that Adelphia had been looking into making Judy Bolton movies for their cable system, or so they had told us. We had put together two complete sets of Judy Bolton books for Mr. Rigas and his daughter, who ran a family entertainment company in New York City. They received these books at our expense and at that time it was very expensive to put together complete sets of the Judy Bolton books.

We had no one to ask 'What happened?" for we did not see Mr. Rigas that weekend. We did see Reverend Merten, however. He came to visit us at the hotel and showed us the typed letter he had received accusing him of trying to marry Margaret in order to control her copyrights and forbidding him to see her again. He was very upset about it and even he did not know how any of this had come about. All we could figure is that someone had told family members that Adelphia was trying to exploit Margaret, and they had acted upon it by forbidding the company access to her.

This development soured several of the fans in attendance to Judy Bolton collecting, and a couple did not come back ever again. Imagine being bitched at and accused of wrongdoing in front of everyone attending. We had done nothing but positive things for both Judy Bolton and Margaret Sutton, and it cost us money - we did not profit. We donated over 300 Judy Bolton books to the county schools and library so that the students could read them in class and at home. We got the first two and last two Judys back in print by hooking Margaret up with Applewood Books, and supplying them with the books to copy. Thus the Judy Bolton books were back in the bookstores all over the country, Borders and Barnes and Noble among them. This paved the way for the complete series being reprinted recently by Applewood Books.

The whole thing was very annoying, but most of us managed to ignore it as well as we could and enjoy ourselves anyway. More about this memorable weekend in part 3 of this series of posts...

The Judge Lewis house in Coudersport, better known to Judy Bolton fans
as the Farringdon-Pett mansion. It is here that the 50th Anniversary of Judy's
wedding was celebrated. The waterway in the front is the very beginnings of
the Allegheny River.

Click HERE for Part 3

Monday, July 11, 2011



Prosperous and lovely 'Coudy' high in the PA mountains.

Mike's warning on the window to let friends know
he's checked in the motel!

Margaret Sutton first returned to Coudersport in 1986 with some of the
members of the newly formed Phantom Friends.
(Click image to enlarge for reading. Then click URL at bottom left of image to enlarge further.)

Below is a page from Jupiter's Girl, Margaret's unpublished autobiography. It shows the Dry Brook Hollow house, the Smeed farm, as it originally looked with the two front doors. Margaret was born here and she returned for a visit in 1997, which you can read about in part 3 of this series of posts.
Click to enlarge for reading!

click HERE for Part 2



Yes, there is a Trixie #40 but it was never published because the series was ended and the manuscript returned. At some point in the 1990s it was copied in a book-like format and made available for reading to about 100 or so fans. It's a great book and based on a true story, as seen below.

I have a rare copy of the book-format manuscript and also a copy of the original manuscript. Too bad it never got published!

Click on images to enlarge for reading. Then click on URL on bottom left of image to enlarge further.

Thursday, July 7, 2011



A Rick Brant fan-written adventure from 1959, a sequel to The Phantom Shark.

To get all the chapters, click on 'Golden Dragon' under Labels on side panel.

Chapter Seven: SEA PIRATES!

All the chapters currently available are now on this alternate site:

THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON https://sites.google.com/site/rickbrantfanfiction/dragon