Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Rick Raider:
THE SEARCH FOR THE ETERNAL FLAME copyright 2011 Stratomiker Syndicate

This is the second Rick Raider e-book. It was online for ten years and can still be found on some mirror sites on the Internet. In this story Rick and his friends accidentally stow away on a ship headed to a planet in another galaxy where they have an amazing adventure helping a young prince and his princess sister overcome the occupation of their country by enemy forces.


"This game is mondo huge!" Charlie Connors said excitedly, watching the space-age graphics on the computer in front of him. "Rick! There's another alien Grogg fighter coming on the screen. Frag that sucker!"

"Hurry, Rick!" pretty Sally Anderson urged from behind. "If you don't destroy that spaceship, it'll blast yours into a million tiny little pieces."

Rick Raider sat tensely in front of the computer keyboard in the den of the Raider home. His eyes were glued to the big monitor screen on the wall where a supersonic chase through three-dimensional space involving two spaceships was being depicted. Rick was controlling one of the ships with a joystick. The other was an enemy ship just coming out from behind a protective force field.

"All right, eat red death, sucker!" Rick laughed, unleashing his hyperblaster. "It's total curtains for you, buddy!"

The roar of missile fire blared from the speakers as tiny rockets of flame shot from Rick's spaceship's laser ports. They smashed into the enemy craft and there was a loud explosion as it disintegrated into a ball of fire. Color filled the screen as the debris floated away into nothingness.

Sally grinned. She was like, "Yo! Fragmented he is!"

"Way cool," Charlie agreed with a hoot. "Man, the graphics and sound effects on this game are insane. It all looks so real!"

"Star Death is the hottest  game you can get right now," Rick told his friends. "And this is just a trial version I downloaded from the Internet last night. You can't even buy it yet. It sure the heck is a challenge."

"I think all the computer games are really challenging," Sally said. "Even the easier ones. It takes a lot of practice to master them."

"They're fun too," Charlie agreed, nudging Rick's shoulder. "Come on, scoot over. Let me have a turn."

Rick checked his wrist watch. "We don't have time.  Comp Sci class begins in twenty minutes. We have to leave for campus."

Charlie groaned with major annoyance, but a moment later his eyes lit up. He was all, "Hey, why don't we bring the game disc with us? Maybe we can play it in class. Professor Manning likes to show the class new games, and this one has the new experimental 3D hologram graphics he's been telling us about."

Rick nodded. "Right. It's the first of it's kind and everyone is gonna go bonkers over it. It's so awesome the professor will probably drool when he sees it. Nobody expected there'd be one coming out like it so soon. The new hologram graphics are sure to change everything!" Rick had burned a copy onto a DVD,  and he now pulled it from the disc drive.

"Isn't it amazing?" Sally said. "All the information for the game is stored on that disc. I'll never really understand computers and how they work. It's all so incredible."

"Totally," Charlie agreed. "And even more incredible -  wouldn't it be something if  aliens like these Groggs actually came down here to Earth?"

Rick pressed the disc into its plastic case and pushed back his chair. "It sure would," he said as he stood up, grinning at his chum. "And if we're lucky, dorkboy, they'll take you back home with them!"

Sally groaned. "Rick! How could wish such a dire fate on those Groggs?"

Charlie made a face at them. "Go on, laugh all you want. But I sure wouldn't mind going to outer space right now. Things have been way too boring around here lately. It's time for some serious excitement!"

Rick nodded his head in agreement, knowing what Charlie meant. Life had seemed pretty dull the last couple months since they'd gotten home from Canada where they'd had a really fantastic adventure on the old Yukon gold trail.

But he couldn't help laughing at Charlie. "If you're hoping for an adventure in outer space, dude, you'd better forget it. No Groggs are going to land here in Lake City and take you away with them. Unfortunately, we do live in the real world."

"And it's really the freakin' pits most of the time," Charlie added. "How are we gonna drum up some adventure?"

Much to the boys' surprise, a fearful expression suddenly crossed Sally's face, and the fingertips of one hand flew up to her forehead as her mouth dropped suddenly open. "Ohmygod! Fellas, listen up a minute."

"What's wrong?" Rick asked, frowning, as Sally suddenly shivered uncontrollably and wrapped her arms around her shoulders.

There was an apprehensive look in her eyes, yet she managed a tremulous smile. She was like, "You guys are gonna think I'm crazy, but I just remembered something. All this talk about aliens. Last night a strange humming noise woke me up. It was coming from outside and I got out of bed to check it out. It was some kind of craft, flying low over the hills behind our houses, as if the pilot was looking for a place to land. I watched for a couple minutes, but figured it must be an airplane flying low because of atmospheric conditions or something. I was so sleepy, I just shrugged it off and crawled back into bed."

"The sky was perfectly clear last night," Charlie said. "I was up late looking at the stars through my telescope. If the craft was flying low, it's because it was looking for a place to land." He looked at Sally for a moment, then his eyebrows arched up. He was all, "Yow! Maybe you saw a UFO. And if it landed, there might be aliens out there up in the hills right now. Maybe creatures like the Groggs."

The three friends all lived on the same road on the outskirts of Lake City. Behind their homes stretched a vast area of hills and forests known as the Kirtland Hills. The hills ran north to the high cliff-like shores of Lake Erie.

Unlike his impulsive friend, Rick Raider was not one to jump to conclusions. "Yah, right. I'm sure you'd love it, Connors, if aliens were out there in the hills. But it was probably just a small airplane that needed to make an emergency landing."

Sally shook back her long blonde hair. "I don't know, Rick. It was pretty strange looking, now that I think of it. Nothing like an airplane. It was cigar-shaped and glowed, with rows of flashing lights all over it. I've never seen anything like it."

"Sure you weren't dreaming?" Rick asked.

"No way. It really happened. If I hadn't been so beat from studying all night, I would've called you right there and then to tell you about it."

"Don't worry, I believe you," Charlie said. He grinned teasingly. "You don't have enough imagination to think something like that up on your own."

Sally made a fist and went to punch him. "Ha! You have no idea the imagination I have when it comes to you!"

Charlie grabbed her arm, all, "Chill out, I'm just kidding. I believe you, and I think we ought to go up into the hills and investigate. Right now."

Rick started to laugh. "Sheez! You really are hungry for some excitement, aren't you?"

"Hungry?" Charlie rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "I'm starving, man. I'm suffering serious adventure-deprivation!"

"But, Rick, it's possible," Sally went on in determined tones. "Lots of people have seen UFO's, and many scientists believe there might be people living on other planets who have the technology to travel in space."

Rick sighed. "All right, I give. You two are letting your imaginations run wild. We can go look for the UFO after classes."

"Cool!" Charlie clapped Rick on the back. "If that ship landed in the hills, we'll find it."
Sally returned to her usual humor. "And when we do, Bozo, I will definitely ask the aliens to take you home with them."

"Okay by me." Charlie was not one to be bested. "It'd beat going to school here in Lake City. I'm ready and willing to go to outer space."

"You're already pretty far out," Rick gibed, as they gathered their school books from the desk.

Sally winked at Rick. "Tell me about it. If he gets any farther out, he'll be gone!"

Laughing and jostling amongst themselves, they left the den and hurried down the hall to the kitchen where the aroma of freshly baked cookies was thick in the air.

"Mmmmmm!" Sally's nose twitched as she sniffed.

Charlie's eyes darted around the room. "Something smells totally sublime in here."

"Well, here you are at long last," said Rick's Aunt Bea, who was standing in front of the oven. "I didn't think you were ever going to stop playing with that computer. It sounded like the entire trilogy of Star Wars was going on in that den!"

Rick smiled. His aunt was a sweet and jovial woman, almost always in a pleasant mood.

"I was showing Charlie and Sally how to play the new Star Death game," he told her. "It's the latest thing, about space wars, and it's going to revolutionize the entire computer gaming industry."

"Humphh!" Aunt Bea wiped her hands on her apron. "We paid a ton of money for that new computer with that huge monitor. It's almost as big as the screens at the cineplex! And what do you do with it? Play games!"

Rick was like, "You know we use it for a zillion other things too," he chided her. "Dad uses it for work, I use it for school. Man, just the research alone I do more than pays for it. And what about the program for your household accounts I set up?"

"Which is all but Greek to me," she snorted. "I'm lucky I can turn the darn thing on. And I don't need a computer to take care of household accounts, thank you. I've been getting along fine all these years without one."

"You'll see, Aunty," Rick winked at her. "When you get rid of your felt-tipped pens and paper tablets and decide to join the digital age, you'll love it. And, besides, I'll teach you how to e-mail Robert Redford."

Aunt Bea's eyes widened at that. "Well," she sighed, "that would be putting the computer to good use! And now that you've fought all those aliens, why don't you replenish your energy with some chocolate chip cookies? Something that your digital age devices just cannot come up with." She pointed to a platter on the kitchen table that was heaped with freshly made cookies.

Charlie crossed the room to the table where his eyes had been lingering the last minute. "You don't have to ask me twice, Miss Raider."

Aunt Bea's eyebrows arched in amusement. "Charlie, one never has to ask you twice when the question is in regard to food."

Charlie chuckled and helped himself to a handful of the cookies, biting into one and putting the others into the pockets of his baggy cargo jeans. Rick and Sally each took one of the cookies and nibbled on them as they went into the hall.

"Delicious!" Rick told his aunt. "As usual."

"Wait a minute!" Aunt Bea opened one of the cupboards and took out some lunch bags. "Don't think you and Sally are getting away with just one cookie each. I have another whole batch baking in the oven."

Rick groaned as they pulled their jackets on. "But you know we don't like to eat a lot of sweets. We're the athletic type."

"Nonsense!" Aunt Bea crossed to the hall and handed each one of them a bag into which she had put several cookies. "Athletes need food too. I don't want you to starve to death at school. All that studying takes a lot of energy."

She patted Charlie on the back, adding. "At least Charlie knows what's good for him."

The Connors boy beamed. "I sure do. I'll eat anything you bake, anytime!"

Aunt Bea's eyes lit up. "You will, eh? In that case I'll make some brownies after the next batch of cookies are done. Stop by after classes and you can have some."

Charlie grinned happily. He was like, "Gotcha! I'll be here."

"I don't know how you stay so slim," Sally said to Rick as they left the house. "Your aunt won't take No for an answer when it comes to food."

"My kind of woman," Charlie said. "What do you think I hang around here for?"

"For the food?" Sally gibed as they climbed into Rick's sporty black pickup truck. "And we thought it was to visit Rick."

Charlie was all, "Not! I come here to eat!"

Rick smirked. "Then you'd better stay away for a while, dude. You've been chunkin' up a little lately."

"Who me?" Charlie swelled out his chest and struck a muscleman pose. "You gotta be kidding. Look at this great bod!"

"Oh, for sure," Sally laughed, rolling her eyes heavenward as Rick backed out onto the road. "No wonder you've started wearing those baggy hip-hop duds. You know, they're starting to go out of style. The tighter look is in.""

Charlie screwed his mouth at her. "Please. If I wear tight clothes, the girls at school can't keep their hands off me."

Sally snickered. "Right, 'cause they want to grab you and toss you out the window!"

Rick grinned as he drove to the freeway, listening to the endless banter between the two. The three of them had grown up together since childhood on the dead-end road on the outskirts of town. Rick didn't remember life before Charlie and Sally were in it, and he couldn't imagine it without them. Ever since he could remember, the three of them had teased each other mercilessly. And Charlie and Sally were like addicted to it.

Several minutes later they arrived downtown at Lake University. The campus was the hub of the college town of Lake City, which was located on the south shore of Lake Erie in the midwest, about fifty miles east of Cleveland. There were many beautiful old buildings on the campus and as many, if not more, modern ones. Students strolled in the early spring sunshine, and others sat on the lawns and benches studying or talking with friends. Rick pulled into the parking lot by the ultramodern Science Center, and he and his friends jumped out of the truck.

"We'd better hurry," he said as they ran up the steps. "It's one minute to class time and Professor Manning doesn't like us to be late."

They rushed into the building and climbed the stairs to the second floor, arriving at the classroom just in time. But Professor Manning wasn't there and the other students were milling around talking to one another as they awaited him.

"Where's the prof?" Charlie asked, since it was highly unusual for Professor Manning to be late for class.

But no one was able to answer the question and, nodding hello to fellow students, they went to their seats at one of the tables. Each of the long tables in the classroom had several of the latest style personal computers on them with the big flat-screen monitors.

Their friend Debbie Ross was sitting at the table. She greeted them excitedly. "Hey, have you heard the news? Everyone on campus is talking about it."

Sally shook her head as she took a seat. "No, we just got here. What's up?"

"It's about the UFO," Debbie said. "Quite a few people claim to have seen it last night. I saw it too."

"No kidding?" Rick sat down next to Debbie. "Sally saw a strange craft hovering over the Kirtland Hills last night. It must be the same one."

"What did it look like, Debbie?" Sally wanted to know.

Charlie was all ears, hovering over them with an excited expression on his good-looking face.

"It was long and looked like a cylinder," Debbie answered. "And it glowed. There were flashing lights all over it. I went out on the front porch late last night before going to bed, and I saw it flying over the lake. I called my mom and she saw it too."

Debbie and her mother lived in a big house set on the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie. Rick and his friends had been there many times since having gotten to know the girl and her mom.

Sally was all, "Ohmygod! That's the very same craft I saw. Wow, this is pretty exciting."

Charlie leaned on the table, his eyes glaring at Rick. He was totally, "See! I told you. Aliens landed out there in the hills last night."

Debbie could see how excited he was. "You really think so?"

Charlie nodded. "Totally. This is huge. We ought to be out there right now checking it out."

"What do you think, Rick?" Debbie asked, looking at him with a confused expression.

Rick shrugged his broad shoulders. "Who knows? Charlie could be right."

"I wonder if the newspaper has an account of the UFO sighting," Sally said. "I didn't see this morning's edition."

Neither had the others, and Debbie suggested they check the morning news online.

"Good idea," Rick agreed, and he switched on the computer in front of him.

The computer was networked with the University's computer system and, in turn, he'd be able to access the Internet for the Lake City Press website. Rick booted up the computer and typed the password to access the network. The computer beeped and an error message appeared on the screen.

"Yikes! Not this again," Rick groaned. "It says 'Password Not Valid'."

"You could have typed it in wrong," Charlie told him. "Try again."

Rick again typed the password, being careful to do it correctly. A series of asterisks showed up in the password field and he clicked on the little OK box below it. Again the computer beeped and the error message popped up.

"The University's computer system must be down," Sally suggested, drumming her nails impatiently on the table top. "It happens now and then, you know."

Before any of the others could respond, the classroom door opened and Professor Manning rushed in. The young man was visibly distressed and he hurriedly called the class to order. The students went to their seats and Charlie sat down alongside his friends.

"Something unexpected has come up," the professor announced, "and I will not be here for class this morning."

Charlie nudged Rick. "Great! We can play Star Death while he's gone. These computers are the latest. They ought to be able to handle those hologram graphics."

"Shhh!" Rick kicked Charlie's leg under the table.

Professor Manning continued, pointing to a table at the back of the room that had several older-style computers on it. "I want you to work on your current assignments, but you'll have to take turns using those old computers that connect to the Internet through the telephone lines. Don't even try using the ones connected to the University's network and T-1 lines. The system's down."

He looked over to the table where Rick and his friends were seated. "Rick Raider, I want you to come with me. Take your books along for you won't be returning here."

Rick was surprised at the request. He nodded, grabbed his books and bag of cookies, and got to his feet. Sally and Debbie looked at him curiously, obviously wondering why the professor was taking him out of class. But Charlie wasn't interested in that. He had something more important on his mind.

"The game disc! Give it to me, will ya?" he hissed. He was all, "I don't want to work on assignments. We'll have a mega-blast fraggin' the Groggs."

"Numskull! It probably won't work right on those old machines." But Rick slipped Charlie the DVD case anyway as the professor hurried to the door. Rick followed, trying to suppress a grin. He knew the whole class would soon be in an uproar battling aliens with Charlie.

"Come along, Rick." Professor Manning walked out into the hall and urged Rick to follow. "We have to meet Professor Blaine in the faculty lounge."

Professor John Blaine was the head of the Science Department, a very eccentric elderly man whom the students called by the nickname 'old Einstein'. Arriving at the lounge, Professor Manning opened the door and ushered Rick inside. There was no one in the room but Professor Blaine, and he was pacing across the carpet in an agitated manner.

He looked at Rick and a smile tempered his harried expression. "Ah, Rick Raider! Just the person I wanted to see!"

Rick had absolutely no idea why the man wanted to see him. His brow creased in consternation. "What is it I can do for you, Professor Blaine?"

"We must contact InterTell immediately," the elderly man said. "I know your father is an agent because he's done security work for us in the past. I'm hoping you'll go down to the headquarters with Professor Manning and me."

Rick's dad, Randolph Raider, was a top-gun agent with the government's InterTell Intelligence Agency, an organization specializing in undercover espionage the world over. What the professor didn't know is that Rick worked for InterTell, too, on a work/study program. He was one of only a handful of students throughout the nation being groomed for the agency's future.

"Of course I'll go with you," Rick returned, wondering why in the world the two professors wanted to contact InterTell. "I believe Dad is down at headquarters now. What's wrong?"

"Ahh!" Professor Blaine threw his hands into the air. "Everything is wrong! Tell him, Professor Manning."
"The University's computer system is malfunctioning," the younger man said. "We can't figure out what's wrong with it. It's failing to respond to any of our attempts to direct or control it. It happened sometime during the night, but there's no sign of anyone having tampered with it."

Rick frowned. "Did you check out the entire system?"

"Yes, we checked the operating system software and reloaded the hard discs from mag tape, but nothing helped. At first we thought it was hardware failure, but all the internal diagnostics check the system out okay."

Rick's eyes widened. The computer was acting as if it had a mind of its own. "But how could such a thing happen?"

"We don't know," Professor Manning said. "And there's more. We contacted the newspaper offices a few minutes ago, and the very same thing has happened to their computer system!"

"What?" Rick looked at the two professors. "Talk about a coincidence. This sure is strange."

" I have a theory, Rick," Professor Blaine said, beginning to pace the floor again. "Last night a UFO was sighted over Lake City. I saw it myself as I was leaving the campus after a late meeting. It was around eleven-thirty. It came from the lakefront, passed overhead, and it hovered over the Science Center for several minutes. Then it shot away southeast of town in the direction of the Kirtland Hills. I called the television station on my cell phone to report the UFO. I was told that the object had been picked up by their weather radar."

Rick nodded. "I heard about the UFO. But what does it have to do with the malfunctioning computers?"

"Everything!" shouted the eccentric professor. "I believe the craft was an alien ship and, by some means, its occupants caused our computer and the one at Lake City Press to malfunction. Both systems had extensive data on the forthcoming NASA space travel conference to be held here in Lake City next month. The data is gone, Rick. Vanished! The malfunctioning will make it impossible to hold the conferences!"

Rick's mouth dropped open and for a moment he couldn't think of anything to say. "But .......can't you get some back-up tapes," he finally asked, "or download the necessary data from the NASA computers?"

"We could," Professor Blaine replied. "But it took a lot of string-pulling to get the data the first time, and NASA will have a fit if we can't explain the malfunction. Besides, there is a system hardware/software problem somewhere. Even if we could reload the data into the computers, it seems the same thing would happen again."

Rick let out a low whistle. It all seemed so incredible.
"And you think aliens in a UFO are behind this?" he asked.


"I agree with Professor Blaine," Professor Manning said. He looked very worried. "This appears to be a sabotage effort by an advanced intelligence that knows even more about computers than we do. It may be the first step in some kind of alien invasion!"

Rick was dumfounded. He felt his heart begin to thud in his chest. Could it be that Charlie was right and that Lake City was soon to be the target of invaders from space?

"Wait a minute," he said. "Couldn't it be another country, a foreign nation, sending their spies to steal computer data?"

Professor Blaine spoke in proud tones. "Lake University is foremost in computer technology and development. We were one of the first major links in the Internet and are always on the cutting edge, continually in contact with the leading developers in the industry."

He gazed intently at Rick. "No one on this planet knows how to wipe out data from a computer through the air. It's not a skill we have developed yet. There's not a hacker on Earth who can do it!"

Rick felt a sickening sensation in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't believe that this was really happening!

"Come on, let's go," he said to the two professors, gesturing for them to follow him. "My truck's out in the parking lot. We'd better get down to Dad's office. This is definitely a job for InterTell!"

Click HERE for Chapter Two: THE SPACESHIP