Radio Logs

CHAPTERS

Prologue
1. Blast Off!
2. We’re in Trouble…
3. Crash Landing on Mars
4. Stranded
5. First Contact
6. The Gift and the Game
7. The Vanishing Martians
8. The Glowing Rock
9. A Sneeze in Time
10. Message of Doom
11. A New Friend?
12. Tunnels of Terror
13. Sabotage!
14. Danger Above and Below
15. Escape Impossible
16. The Test
17. A Message from the Past
18. Lobster Dinner?
19. Quest for the Biodium Scrolls
20. Washed Away
21. Of Mobs and Mazes
22. Mean Green Martian Machine
23. Bye Bye Biodium
24. Search for the Solar Explorer
25. Time to say Goodbye

PROLOGUE

With the hope of establishing a science base on Mars, the National Science Board assembles a group of four brave astronauts to travel to the red planet. Scientist Doc, Captain Mac, one assistant and BB, the student winner of the Space Lottery, will be travelling to Mars in the Solar Explorer-the very latest in Rocket Ship technology.


BLAST OFF!

With the hope of establishing a science base on Mars, the National Science Board assembles a group of four brave astronauts to travel to the red planet. Scientist Doc, Captain Mac, one assistant and BB, the student winner of the Space Lottery, will be traveling to Mars in the Solar Explorer-the very latest in Rocket Ship technology. We wish them a safe voyage.

BB’s Journal

Hey, It’s your friend BB, writing you from on board the spaceship Solar Explorer, bound for Mars. Sorry I haven’t written before this — things have been so busy since I won the Space Lottery and this trip to Mars.

Right after I arrived at Mission Control, I met the crew I’m traveling with. The captain of the ship is Mac, and he’s a real hero. He’s been on more space missions than any other astronaut, plus he’s an expert on the T3-Trike and the other vehicles on board. Mac’s assistant has been showing me how the ship works. And Doc is a famous scientist who’s on board to find out if it’s possible for Earth people to live on Mars!

We all got in the rocket ship and waited for the countdown. It felt like forever before they started! Then the engines roared to life and the ship started to shake. 3…2…1…blast-off! The ship shot up, and gravity pressed us into our seats — it felt like my body weighed ten tons! I couldn’t move a muscle! Then we were out in space…and floating!

There’s no gravity in space to hold you down on the ground, so you can float all around the ship. It took me a while to get used to it — I kept bumping my head on the ceiling! It’s hard to describe what it’s like to look out the porthole and see outer space. It’s bigger than anything you can imagine — when you look up in the sky at night, you’re only seeing a tiny bit of space. From up here, Earth looks so beautiful (I looked, but I couldn’t see my house from so high up!) Anyway — there are millions of stars and planets everywhere you look. Space is black, and the stars really do twinkle — it looks like a million beautiful diamonds floating in a dark sea.

Mac thinks we’ll reach Mars soon. I wonder what we’ll find there? Maybe we’ll meet some Martians! I hope so, although Doc says no one is sure if there really is life on Mars.

I’ll write soon, and — oh, no! The emergency light’s flashing! Something’s wrong…really wrong! Mac says I have to get back in my seat and strap in right away! What’s going on????


WE’RE IN TROUBLE…

Last Message: Blast Off!
BB, winner of the space lottery, takes off with the crew of the Solar Explorer, bound for the red planet!

Captain’s log

We’re in trouble! The Solar Explorer has hit a space storm. Hurricane winds and meteors are bouncing off the sides of the ship. It’s hard to keep control. The computers are going crazy! Jumbled messages and strange symbols are flashing across the screen.

Hold on. The warning lights have stopped flashing… It seems the danger has passed… But wait…what’s that there…A huge asteroid the size of a planet coming straight at us! And another one! We’re dodging all over the place to get away from them. We are trapped in the middle of an asteroid belt.

As I weave a zigzag course, the crew is holding on trying not to fly out of their seats. Small meteors are cracking against the Explorer.

The lights are out. We’re in total darkness now…A large meteor has slammed into the ship. Flames are shooting from the fuel tank and in the flickering light we see Mars approaching fast.

This may be our last transmission. Solar Explorer is on a direct collision course with the red planet…


CRASH LANDING ON MARS

Last Message: We’re in Trouble…
Mission to Mars space craft is hit by meteor. Crew must change plans.

Captain’s Log

Solar Explorer is on a crash course with Mars. We have dim emergency lighting only and no computer back up. The fuel tank is still on fire and choking smoke is filling the cabin.

Solar Explorer is entering the Martian atmosphere. The ship feels like she’s breaking apart. Control is difficult to maintain. The planet surface is rushing closer and it’s up to me to land the ship safely.

Can you steer Solar Explorer to a safe landing on Mars?


STRANDED

Last Message: Crash Landing on Mars
Solar Explorer Crashes onto Red Planet.

Captain’s Log

We were lucky. The ship made a safe, if rocky, landing on the surface of Mars. Doc reports no one was hurt, though BB was pretty shaken up.

The Solar Explorer didn’t survive the crash quite so well. There’s a tear in the side of the fuel tank and not a drop of rocket fuel left. Unless there’s an all-night rocket fuel station over the next hill… we’re stranded here. I don’t even know if this broadcast is reaching Earth, but I’ll keep transmitting. Doc, BB, and I are heading out to search for water – without it, we won’t last long on Mars!

Captain’s Log – Supplemental

We were only about a kilometer from the ship when we were hit by a violent dust storm. Our helmets protected BB and me, and Doc was safe in the T3-Trike. But we couldn’t see a thing and had to go slow to avoid falling into craters. Doc says Mars gets these storms from time to time – he once tracked a storm as big as the whole South Atlantic Ocean!

When the storm cleared out, I saw that BB had disappeared. We forgot about the water – we have to find him! His tracks in the dust head west, so we’re following them. But the terrain is rough and dangerous – a single mistake and we could be in even worse trouble!


FIRST CONTACT

Last Message: Stranded
The Solar Explorer is badly damaged. The Crew is stuck on Mars.

Science Log

While searching for water on Mars, we encountered a violent dust storm. When it was over, BB was gone, and Captain Mac and I have been seeking him ever since. We have been following a trail of huge, square footprints, like nothing I have ever seen before. There can now be no doubt: someone, or something, is with us on Mars.

“What do you think it is, Doc?” Mac asked me.

“I have no idea,” I answered. “Oh, there is plenty of proof that life once existed on Mars, very simple life. But this… it could be a very tall Martian, or it could be some strange alien creature!”

Mac shook his head. “I sure wish it was a rescue party from Earth.”

Just then, the dust began to swirl again. We slowed and then stopped. Mac pointed toward a low hill and shouted, “Someone’s coming!” I strained to see through the bubble dome of the T3-Trike. Yes, there was someone there… small… running very fast… it was BB!

“I found them! They’re real!” BB was shouting. “Run!”

But it was too late to run. Suddenly, we were surrounded by alien robots, some red, some blue and gray. In the cockpits sat strange little beings who were trying to signal us through the robots’ radios. The words were garbled, and I frantically adjusted my translator to try and understand what they were saying!

Can you help Doc unscramble the Martian message?


THE GIFT AND THE GAME

Last Message: First Contact
After adjusting Doc’s translator, the crew was able to communicate with the Martians.

Captain’s Log

What the Martians were asking us to do was crazy! Take off your space helmet on an alien world? No way! But I knew that if they wanted to harm us, they could have done it already. We were surrounded by their robots after all.

I took a deep breath, undid my helmet, lifted it off, and —

I was still alive! There was air to breathe, something there shouldn’t be on Mars. I looked at Doc, and he was as shocked as I. He looked at his wrist sensor and said, “A little oxygen rich, but safe. Strange, though … there’s only air in this small area.”

“This is our gift to you,” one of the Martians said. “Please tell us how you came to our planet.”

“In a rocket ship,” BB said. “A big one!”

The Martian shook his head. “Oh, yes. Well, we knew you would visit us sometime, even though we kept breaking the other things you sent up here.”

“Why?” Doc asked. “Why did you break our probes and our spacecraft?”

“How would you like alien spacecraft dropping on your planet at all hours? We finally got tired of hiding from all your cameras and sensors, and decided to start playing a game. As soon as an Earth craft landed, everyone would race to be the first to break it.”

“Are you going to break our ship?” BB asked.

The Martian turned away with what I guess was a smile. “No need. It’s already broken, isn’t it? Now follow us… and we will show you some of our technology.”

We started walking, with Martian robots in front of us, behind us, and to the sides. We could still breathe, so I guess the air was traveling with us somehow. But the further we got, the more I kept thinking – if this Martian didn’t know how we got here… how did he know our ship was broken? And was he leading us back to his base, or into a trap?


THE VANISHING MARTIANS

Last Message: The Gift and the Game
The Martians demand the crew follow them back to their base.

Science Log

With no other choice, Mac, BB and I followed the Martians. Where were they taking us? Were we guests, or prisoners? There was no way to know. All we could be sure of was, surrounded by Martian robots, there was no way to escape.

Suddenly, the robots stopped dead in their tracks. BB almost walked right into one! Mac turned to me and said, “What’s going on? Did they lose power?”

I shook my head. “No, I still hear the hum of their power packs. I don’t like this, Mac. I don’t like it at all.”

The top half a large blue and gray robot swiveled in our direction. For a moment, I thought surely its cannons were going to blast us to atoms! Instead, the cockpit opened to reveal one of the Martians. He tossed something to me, a small, flat-screened viewpad.

“When switched on, humans, that will display a map to our base,” the Martian said. “We must leave you here, and you can find your own way.”

Mac walked right up to the robot and looked up fiercely at the Martian. “Is this how Martians treat guests? Stranding us in the middle of nowhere?”

“If you make it to our base, you will be our guests,” the Martian replied coldly. “If not, we will send a search craft when we can… in one of your weeks, perhaps.”

“A week?” Mac exploded. “Hold on there!”

But it was too late. A sudden mini-sandstorm enveloped us, and when we could see again, the Martians were gone! There weren’t even any tracks in the sand to follow!

“I don’t understand how they disappeared like that, Mac,” I said. “But we had better find a way to follow this map, or we will be lost on Mars forever.”

Can you help Mac, Doc and BB solve the mystery of the map?


THE GLOWING ROCK

Last Message: The Vanishing Martian
The crew is abandoned and left to wander the planet’s surface in search of the Martian base.

Captain’s Log

I hated to admit it, but BB was right. As he, Doc and I peered over the crater into the Martian base, it surely did look like they were getting ready for war. Pilots climbed into sleds and were fired and at great speed through massive tubes, only to land in the cockpits of their ships. Without wasting a moment, they launched their craft and vanished over the mountains.

“What do you think it means, Mac?” Doc asked me.

“I think it means they’ve got trouble,” I replied. “That means we have trouble, too, because we’re stranded here.”

“Maybe we should – ”

BB cut Doc off. “Look!”

He was pointing toward a group of Martians down by the base. They were unloading a glowing rock off one of their machines, then carrying it to the hangar. It wasn’t so much their efforts that made it interesting – it was the armed guards all around them. What could make a rock so important it had to be guarded?

“Amazing,” Doc muttered. “I wonder what makes it glow like that? If only I could get a sample…”

I thought about that. If we had something the Martians wanted, maybe we could get them to help us fix the ship. “Doc, I need you to build something that can carry one of those rocks back to the ship. Can you do it?”

“I have some spare parts in the T3-Trike… yes, I can. But how will we get close enough to grab a rock?”

“Leave that to me.”

I slid as quietly as I could down the slope of the crater. No one saw me. A blue and gray robot stood at the outskirts of the camp, with its Martian pilot keeping his eyes on the hangar. I slipped behind the robot and went to work.

I didn’t understand their tech, but I knew a service hatch when I saw one. I used some tools from the Trike to pop it open and started playing with the works inside, pushing buttons, throwing switches, whatever. My big brother always used to say, “When in doubt, hit every button, and hope you’re somewhere else when it all goes kablooey.”

It worked! The robot hummed to life, started moving, blasters firing into the air. The pilot frantically tried to regain control as the robot turned itself into a flying machine and started whizzing all over the camp. Every Martian in the place was watching the robot run wild… now if only Doc could get that transport done in time!


A SNEEZE IN TIME

Last Message: The Glowing Rock
The crew is arrested for spying, after the Martians caught them with the stolen Biodium.

Science Log

Stranded on Mars… and now arrested by the Martians as rebel spies! How could things get any worse?

Mac, BB and I were escorted under heavy guard back to the aero-tube hangar. I told the Martians that we weren’t spies, but they refused to listen. They threw us into a small cave that had a barred door on it. When that door slammed shut behind us, I confess I never thought we would get home again.

“Snap out of it!” said Mac. “We have to get out of here. If they think we’re working for these rebels, they might wreck our ship and we’ll never get off this planet!”

“But what can we do?” BB said. “There’s a guard right outside the door, and Martians everywhere! Even if we could open the door, we’ll never get away! And… and… ah-choo!!” BB let out a great big sneeze… and suddenly I had an idea.

“BB, my boy!” I shouted. “Sneeze again!”

“That won’t be hard,” BB replied. “It’s so dusty in here, I… I… ah-choo! Ah-choo!”

Just as I hoped, the Martian guard heard the noise and came to investigate. “What’s going on in there?” He unlocked the cell door and came inside. BB continued to sneeze up a storm.

“I’m afraid it’s very bad,” I said, trying to sound worried. “He has the sneezing sickness. It’s a terrible plague on Earth. Spreads like wildfire and there’s no cure.”

BB, bless him, caught on right away. “Right! I feel like I’m going to sneeze my head off! Ah-choo!!”

“Oh, no, that’s the final stage!” I shouted.

The Martian looked worried. He looked even worse when Mac and I started sneezing! “Oh, no! Now we have it!” I shouted. “Ah-choo! Ah-choo!”

I’ve never seen anyone run so fast as that Martian did. He didn’t even think to lock the door behind him! Next thing we knew, he was telling all the other Martians what he’d seen and heard. All three of us walked out of the cell, sneezing, as the Martians ran away in panic.

“This won’t fool them for long,” Mac growled. “Come on!”

He led us to one of the abandoned Martian robots and we all climbed inside (a tight fit!) Somehow, he hit the right buttons, and the next thing we knew, we were flying! Martian craft chased after us, but Mac outflew them. We soared over the mountains and came in for a landing on the rim of a canyon.

“We’re safe!” Mac said.

“I don’t think so,” I said, pointing down into the canyon. “That’s another Martian base down there. That flag they’re flying doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. Mac, I think we’ve found the Martian rebels!”


MESSAGE OF DOOM

Last Message: A Sneeze in Time
Thanks to BB, the crew narrowly escapes a Martian prison, only to stumble upon the Rebel Headquarters!

Captain’s Log

I hated to admit it, but Doc was right. We had stumbled on the headquarters of the Martian rebels!

“Let’s get a closer look,” I said. “BB, you stay here and keep an eye out for any Martians who might be chasing us. Doc, you’re with me.”

Doc and I scrambled down the canyon, keeping low so the Martian guards wouldn’t see us. They weren’t dressed any differently than the Martians we had just escaped from, but their strange flag and hidden location made me sure they were the rebel force.

“I wonder why they’re rebelling?” Doc asked.

“Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the UFO,” I growled. “How should I know? Take a look over there – recognize that?”

Doc peered over the rocks. A whole crowd of Martians were coming out of a cave, carrying the same kind of glowing rocks we had seen before. Whatever that rock was, both groups of Martians were working hard to get it.

“If only we knew what it was,” Doc whispered.

“Well, we can’t walk up and ask them,” I said.

“Maybe we can,” Doc said. He was looking off to our left. There was a big pile of Martian junk over there. Pieces of robots, tangles of wire, various other odds and ends. “I think I see pieces of something that looks like it could be a mini-computer. If I could get it back together, maybe…”

“We have one chance – nobody guards junk. When no one’s looking, run for the pile!”

Doc and I took off as fast as we could. We dove behind the junk pile just as some Martians went by. He went to work right away trying to fit the right parts together to make the mini-computer work.


A NEW FRIEND?

Last Message: Message of Doom
Doc and Mac discover Rebel invasion plans!

BB’s Journal

Doc and Mac had gone down into the Martian rebel camp, leaving me to keep watch. Boy, I wished they would get back fast! I’m no chicken, but crouching down watching for giant Martian robots was giving me the shivers.

I looked and looked, but didn’t see any signs of Martians hunting for us. After a while, I checked to see what Mac and Doc were doing down there – but they were gone! I figured they must have just gone into some other part of the camp, so I started circling around the rim of the canyon.

I was almost to the other side when somebody knocked me down from behind. “Hey!” I shouted. “What’s the big idea?”

I looked up. A Martian girl was standing over me, looking plenty mad. “Be quiet, Earthling! The rebels will hear you!”

“Who are you?” I whispered.

“My name is Cassiopeia,” she replied. “I was working at that base you and your friends escaped from. I followed you here. We have to stop the rebels before they overthrow Riegel and conquer Mars!”

I was going to argue with her – heck, I’m just a kid, how was I going to stop a bunch of Martians? But she didn’t look like someone you wanted to fight with, so I just said, “Okay. How? And why me?”

“We’ll scout over this way. Maybe we can sneak in and steal their plans or something. I need your help, because… well, because you’re the only one here! Come on!”

We both started running along the ridge, trying to keep low. But I guess I must not have been low enough, because I heard someone down below shout, “Look! An Earthling! Get him!”

“Run!” Cassiopeia shouted.

I ran as fast as I could, and so did she! We ran too fast, though, because we never saw the hole until we were falling, falling, falling, down deep into the darkness…


TUNNELS OF TERROR

Last Message: A New Friend?
BB encounters Cassiopeia, a female Martian who’s out to stop the Rebels. They decide to work together, but before they can act, they fall into a deep hole in a Martian mountain!

Science Log

My, my, my, where to begin? Mac and I were in the rebel Martian camp – we had just discovered that the rebels planned to seize all the biodium on Mars and then invade Earth! As always, Mac had a plan.

“We’ll have to get back to our ship,” he said. “Maybe the Assistant has fixed the radio. We can warn Earth!”

The Martians had other plans, though. “Look! Earthlings!”

Next thing we knew, a whole crowd of rebel Martians was running toward us. We ran as fast as we could, but they still caught us! We were dragged to the cave opening and tossed inside.

“Now you can dig for biodium!” one of the Martians growled. “There are guards at the opening, so you can’t escape.”

“That’s what he thinks,” I whispered.

“What have you got in mind, Doc?” Mac asked, as we started digging.

“This is a natural cavern, not a mine. That means there could be another way out. We just have to find it.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Then I hope you like digging biodium, Mac, because we’ll be doing it a long time.”

As soon as the guards turned away, we dropped our tools and ran deeper into the cave. It was pitch-black, narrow and winding. More than once, I bumped my head on the ceiling. At least the rebel Martians didn’t seem to be following us. But now and then… now and then, even in the darkness, I could swear I saw the rocks… moving.

Was I worried? Oh, yes, indeed. If I was wrong, and this cave had no other opening, we would have to go back to the Martians… or risk being lost in these tunnels forever. Then who would warn Earth? Who would save our home planet from invasion?

We had no choice. We had to find the way out!


SABOTAGE!

Last Message: Tunnels of Terror
While Doc and Mac were escaping from a Rebel mine they found BB and Cassopeia in a large cavern filled with Biodium!

Martian Hyperlog, XK.7

Mizar recording. It has only been a short time since the Earthlings escaped from their cell, heading toward the mountains to the south. We immediately launched a search, but without success. Worse, Cassiopeia has not yet returned!

Riegel was furious. He’s convinced the Earthlings are working with the rebels and wants them captured! Meanwhile, the entire aero tube hangar is on alert against possible rebel sabotage.

“Send out the Red Planet Protectors!” Riegel shouted. “Man all the Recon-Mechs! I want every Red Planet Cruiser in the air! ”

“I pity those Earthlings,” I said to my friend Altair. “Imagine having to breathe all that oxygen, and do homework, and not even have a space cruiser in every garage. I bet they don’t even have canned jellied ralonna wings to eat! No wonder they came here! ”

“I don’t think the Earthlings mean any harm,” Altair said. “But they did head south, toward where we think the rebels are hiding. Maybe they were captured!”

I didn’t have time to argue with him. I climbed up onto the aero tube hangar, past where the biodium is processed. Then I climed into the hypersled, like I have a thousand times before. An instant later, I was flying down the aero tube toward my ship.

I cruised over the rocky surface of my home world of Mars until the sun went down, and saw nothing. If the Earthlings had been captured by the rebels… well, they might never see Earth again.

I flew back to the hangar and was on my way through the tube when – catastrophe! A piece of biodium exploded, sending fragments down the tube. I knew if those fragments struck my ship, it would be a disaster!! I had only one chance – to try and catch the fragments as I flew by them in my hypersled!


DANGER ABOVE AND BELOW

Last Message: Sabotage!
Rebel explosions send Biodium fragments flying through the Aero Tube Hangar, leaving Mizar to save the day on his hypersled. Meanwhile, the crew is trapped in the underground biodium mines.

Captain’s Log

When I was a kid – not much older than BB – sometimes I’d run up against something too big for me to handle. I’d get frustrated and want to quit. But my Dad would look at me and say, “Well, thunder and steerheads, Mac, you’ll never get anywhere by giving up! You just keep trying and you’ll find a way to beat this thing!”

I thought of that as I stood in that Martian cavern with Doc, BB, and BB’s new Martian friend, Cassiopeia. We’d escaped from our rebel Martian captors, but we had nowhere left to run. The only exit was a little hole in the mountain, way above our heads.

“If only we had a rocket pack,” Doc said.

“Or a hovercar,” BB said.

“Or even a rope,” Cassiopeia said.

“Well, we don’t,” I growled. “So we make do with what we have. Look around for something we can use to make it up there.”

“And hurry!” Doc said. “I hear Martians coming through the caves!”

Everyone looked around. The walls were too smooth to be climbed, and there weren’t any vines hanging down we could climb. I couldn’t see a thing that would help us!

I heard the sharp sounds of Martians shouting to each other from somewhere in the tunnels. “They’re coming!” Cassiopeia cried. “We have to get out of here!”

“There’s only one chance,” I said. “We’ll form a human – and Martian – ladder. Once the people on top are through the hole, they can reach down and help the rest of us.”

“But we’ll have to be careful,” Doc advised. “If we come tumbling down, the rebel Martians will be sure to hear!”

“Let’s get to work,” I said. “The faster we finish, the faster we can get out of this cave, get back to the ship, and get off this crazy planet!”


ESCAPE IMPOSSIBLE

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THE TEST

Last Message: Escape Impossible
The Crew meets Mizar and rebuilds a damaged Recon-Mech RP to avoid the Rebel Patrols.

Science Log

Somehow – don’t ask me how – we made it back to the Martian base. Cassiopeia introduced us to Riegel, who she said was the leader of the Martians. Standing beside him was another Martian, a rather sinister looking fellow.

“This is Arcturus,” Riegel said.

“He was the leader of the Martians some 60 or 70 years ago, Earth time,” Cassiopeia added.

“Really?” I said, laughing. “Why, that was around the time Earth people panicked, thinking Martians were invading. You must have thought that was funny!”

“No,” Arcturus said. “We were invading. And we would have won, too, if Earthlings hadn’t used germ warfare against us!”

“They all got the sniffles and had to come home,” Cassiopeia explained. “That was the last time we sent an invading army out without their rain hats.”

“Bah!” said Arcturus as he stalked away.

“So you say you are Earthlings?” Riegel said. “Are you an intelligent species?”

“Of course we are!” Mac said. “We built a rocket ship and came here, didn’t we?”

“You came here, but maybe you didn’t build the ship. Maybe you are just test animals. After all, some Martians believe that creatures with – ugh! – hair on their heads must be stupid, since the sun never warms their brains enough.”

I looked around. All the Martians had bald green heads, even Cassiopeia. I imagined we must look pretty funny to them. “How can we prove we’re intelligent?” I asked.

“There is a very simple test – any Martian child can pass it. Of course, Martian children know advanced physics at 4, can build a gabbium defarshtinator at 6, and know all the words to Earth TV show theme songs. So your young one – BB – will take the test.”

“Ulp,” said Mac.

“Big ulp,” said BB.

“Let the test begin!”


A MESSAGE FROM THE PAST

Last Message: The Test
Riegel, the Martian General, asks the crew to prove their intelligence, and BB is put to the test.

Captain’s Log

So there we were, Doc, BB, and I, along with our new Martian friend Cassiopeia, standing in front of the leader of the Martians. Riegel had just finished saying he thought maybe we could help his people with a crisis. But we had a crisis of our own: fixing the ship and getting back to Earth!

“A rare mineral, biodium, is what allows us to survive on Mars,” Riegel was saying. “It gives off a strange combination of gases that we can breathe. It’s what has kept you alive here, as well, Earthlings. But the rebels are stealing more and more of our biodium – soon, we will run out and be forced to surrender!”

“And if the rebel Martians take over, they’ll invade Earth,” I said. “Okay, Riegel, what do you want us to do?”

The Martian leader walked away and we followed. He led us to a big hole that seemed to have no bottom. “While digging for biodium yesterday, we found a cave with strange artifacts and symbols in it. Our scientists believe it is evidence of an ancient Martian civilization. They also think the carvings might have something to do with an undiscovered source of biodium!”

I didn’t have to wait for the rest. We were going to have to climb down into the darkness and risk our necks again. The Martians lowered us down on ropes and Doc lit a torch to have a look around. Sure enough, there were plenty of carvings on the wall – but I couldn’t make head or tail out of them.

“Amazing!” Doc said. “Why, the Martians had already built cities back when dinosaurs were still walking the Earth! See that picture of the glowing rock? It’s biodium for sure! Now what do these carvings mean…? Hmmmm, perhaps this stone over here is a key to the language.”

Doc got to work translating the message while I scouted around. Maybe there would be something down here that could help us get off Mars and make it home!


LOBSTER DINNER?

Last Message: A Message From the Past
The crew decodes an ancient Martian message which reveals the Martians once knew how to make their own Biodium.

Science Log

My, my, things certainly happen fast on Mars! One moment, I was deciphering an ancient Martian message that revealed biodium could be made in a lab – the next, a giant, white lobster-like creature was attacking… and me without any nutcrackers or melted butter.

“Get down, Doc!” Mac shouted as he knocked me to the ground. A second later, a big, sharp claw swung just over my head.

“What are we going to do?” BB said. “That big monster will get us – and then it will go after the Martians!”

It certainly seemed that way, as the creature charged, swiped, and retreated, again and again. It was so powerful that each blow took out a chunk of the rock wall. It turned from side to side, its antennae waving in the air, and then charged again. This time, Mac barely got out of the way.

“I have an idea!” I shouted. “It lives underground, doesn’t it? So it probably isn’t used to bright sunlight!”

“Right!” Mac said. I knew he would catch on right away. “BB, Cassiopeia – help me gather up some of that Martian mining equipment, especially those big lights!”

Ducking, diving, the two youngsters managed to retrieve a number of parts without being caught by the creature. But how to stop it from attacking while we built our secret weapon?

“Mac, it hears better than it sees,” I said. “You and Cassiopeia make noise, distract it. BB and I will build a light tower to blind it temporarily!”

Mac went to one side of the chamber… Cassiopeia to the other… and they took turns making noise and then ducking out of the way. Meanwhile, BB and I went to work – I don’t think I’ve ever built faster!!


QUEST FOR THE BIODIUM SCROLLS

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WASHED AWAY

Last Message: Quest for the Biodium Scrolls
Mac races to the top of Olympus Mons to get the first of the three Biodium scrolls.

Science Log

We had found the first part of the biodium scroll, but there were still two more! Riegel told us that the second was hidden at the lowest point on Mars. That was Hellas Basin, a huge bowl that was 1,800 kilometers wide! Mac, BB, and I set out to retrieve the scroll.

At first, everything seemed to be going well. We found the basin (well, you can’t miss something that big), and scrambled down to the bottom. Mac and BB began to dig for the scroll, while I strained my ears listening to a strange sound.

“Do you hear that?” I asked. “Sounds like… the roar of an ocean.”

“Ocean? There’s no ocean here,” Mac said. “You’re imagining things, Doc.”

“Maybe so, but…” I slid down to join my two friends. “It sure sounds like water!”

“Forget that,” BB shouted. “I found the scroll!” Sure enough, he pulled the second scroll out of the red soil. As he did, I noticed what looked like the gleam of metal underneath the dirt.

Then there was no time for celebration! One… two….three explosions went off, and suddenly tidal waves of water were pouring in from the sides of the basin! We were trapped at the bottom of Hellas Basin as it began to fill with water – and if we didn’t hurry, we would be drowned!

Scrambling up the sides was impossible, as the red dirt turned to mud. There was no way to stop the water, either – it poured out as if gigantic pipes had burst in the sides of the basin. Then I remembered the metal I had seen.

I scrambled back to the bottom and began to dig in the mud. More metal appeared… then more… until I had uncovered a hatchway leading to – where? I didn’t know, but anyplace was better than Hellas right now.

“We have to get this open!” I shouted to Mac and BB. “It’s our only chance! Hurry!”


OF MOBS AND MAZES

Last Message: Washed Away
The crew barely escapes drowning at the bottom of a large basin.

Captain’s Log

Where are we? One second, we were being washed down an enormous Martian drain, and the next…

Is it a shopping mall? A museum? All around us, scores of Martians pass by carrying packages or hurrying into buildings. Some stop and chat with each other, or peer through the windows of the shops. Here and there, strange plants grow out of the pavement, and they seem to be humming a tune…

It doesn’t take long for a crowd to gather around us. After all, how often do Martians have three astronauts come crashing through their plumbing?

“What are you doing here?” says the tallest of the Martians. “Who are you? Someone call the security squad!!”

Doc tells them that we are friends, but they aren’t buying it for a second.

BB tries to find out where we are and is told that we are in the great Martian city of Lacfff! The crowd seems angry that we don’t know this city. A few people are suggesting that we are responsible for stealing the city’s Biodium. The penalty for theft on Mars is life in the mines, digging for Biodium…

The Martians are closing in us. But suddenly I hear a familiar voice shouting, “Stop, in the name of Riegel!” It’s Cassiopeia. She’s saying, “These humans are our friends, not our enemies! They’re trying to help us all!”

But another Martian is shouting, “No I saw them stealing Biodium! Get them!”

While the Martians are trying to make up their minds, Cassiopeia takes off with us following behind. “The canyon Martians want you out of the way,” she is saying as we run. “But I know where the third piece of scroll is hidden – it’s in the western part of the city, in the heart of a heavily guarded maze!”

I think I know what to do. I tell Cassiopeia and the others to wait until the mob gets close, and then run east as fast as they can. While the mob is chasing them, I’ll go into the maze and get the scroll!

Cassiopeia knows there is no time to argue. “Good luck, Mac! See you soon!” she says as she leads my friends away.


MEAN GREEN MARTIAN MACHINE

Last Message: Of Mobs and Mazes
In an underground Martian city, Mac recovers the final Biodium scroll.

Science Log

At last, we had the complete formula for Biodium. Things were looking up, even if we were on the run from a mob of canyon Martians! Reviewing the Biodium formula, we found that we had all the ingredients but one – Jeffium, a highly rare and highly explosive mineral.

Fortunately, our Martian friend, Cassiopeia, had an idea. “They say that in the old royal palace, there’s a huge vault. They say there’s jeffium inside, but no one has ever been able to open the vault and find out!”

“We’ll open it,” Mac said. “If we don’t find a way to make Biodium, the canyon Martians will capture all the Biodium on Mars and use it to take over the planet. So show us how to get to this palace.”

The palace turned out to be in the center of the city, and you could tell no one had lived there for a long time. It was dusty, musty, and covered with cobwebs… it looked like something out of a horror movie! Cautiously, we slipped through the broken door and went inside.

“Who dares enter the palace of Yelib the Wise?” said a booming voice. It came from the tallest Martian I had ever seen, and the ugliest. He was ten feet tall if he was an inch, with a face like a hippo and a big club in his hand.

“We have to get to Yelib’s vault,” Mac replied. “The safety of all Mars depends on it!”

“No one may enter!” said the giant. “You will have to be destroyed!”

The giant raised his club and brought it down toward Mac. I couldn’t bear to look! Then, amazingly, the club stopped short just an inch above his head. “Destroyed… destroyed… destroyed….” said the giant, mechanically.

“He’s a robot!” I shouted.

“And a broken one, thank goodness,” said Mac. “Let’s go!”

We found the vault without too much more trouble. But the “lock” was a strange picture puzzle that no Martian had ever been able to solve. Would we be able to do any better?

We kept flipping the tiles on the vault lock. “Wrong again!” I muttered. “I’ll just have to keep trying until I get it right!”


BYE BYE, BIODIUM

Last Message: Mean Green Martian Machine
Doc unlocks the Jeffium vault in the tomb of King Yelib.

Captain’s Log

Now that we have all the pieces of the Biodium scroll and the Jeffium, Doc is ready to start making synthetic Biodium. There’s only one problem – We have to stop the canyon Martians before they conquer Mars.

Cassiopeia has an idea. “I’ve been thinking. The canyon Martians are such a small group but they have managed to anticipate our every move. There’s got to be one of them working as a spy inside the Martian High Council.”

“Well in that case, I have an idea”, I say. “Hey, Doc… before you make the synthetic Biodium…do you think you can make some that doesn’t work? You know, totally fake stuff?”

“I suppose. Why?” said Doc.

“I’ll tell you later. Cassie, you come with me. We’re going to the High Council!”

The High Council of Mars was already in session when we got there. Riegel sat at the head of the great table, carved from red Martian rock. Next to him sat Arcturus, the former leader of the Martians. Eleven other Martian elders filled out the Council.

“I have important news!” I said. Everyone turned to look at me. “Doc says he’ll be done with the synthetic Biodium in another day. As long as the canyon Martians don’t get here by tomorrow, we’re fine.”

I watched as all the Martian leaders celebrated the good news. All except Arcturus, who slipped out of the back of the room.

“There’s your spy — follow him!” I told Cassiopeia. “He’ll lead you to the canyon headquarters. Radio back when you know where it is.”

While Cassiopeia trailed Arcturus, Doc and I loaded the phoney biodium he had made onto vehicles. When we were done, Cassiopeia radioed that the canyon Martians were getting ready to launch an attack. We sped to their base just as the Biodium conveyors started to move, carrying the precious energy source into the canyon ships.

“Come on, Doc! The more fake Biodium we can substitute for the real stuff on those conveyor belts, the faster our Martian friends will be safe!”


SEARCH FOR THE SOLAR EXPLORER

Last Message: Bye Bye, Biodium
Mac disables the canyon fleet with his new batch of synthetic Biodium.

Captain’s Log

Riegel’s news was shocking. Arcturus and Mizar had disappeared while searching for stolen biodium and the Solar Explorer! But his next words were even more surprising:

“You and your friends can take some of our Martian craft to search for your vessel. My people will use Red Planet Protectors to search the surface.”

“You’re willing to let us fly your ships?” I said, astounded.

“You have risked your lives to help save all of Mars,” Riegel said. “You have shown you are our friends and allies. Now we will show that we are your friends, as well.”

I reached out and shook the hand of a Martian for the first time. Then Doc, BB, and I climbed into Martian ships to search for our Solar Explorer.

Fortunately, even with the constant sandstorms, we were able to spot the tracks of Arcturus’ and Mizar’s robots. They ended at a large hole. Some of the Martians climbed down and returned moments later with their two missing comrades. A second later, our ship radios crackled to life.

“Mac, this is Mizar. Your Solar Explorer is in a cave, guarded by two canyon Martians. If you’re careful, maybe you can retrieve it without a fight.”

It would be tricky, but maybe we could do it. We flew low over the surface of the planet until we came to a small crevice. Our trackers indicated the Solar Explorer was down below. Doc and I landed and lowered ourselves through the crevice using Martian cord. Down below, we could see our ship and the canyon Martians guarding it.

“Easy does it,” I whispered. “We’ll lower ourselves into the cockpit.”

Inch by inch, we slid down the cord until we were seated in the Solar Explorer cockpit. The ship was still pretty banged up from our landing on Mars. Would the engine work? Would we be able to take off before the canyon martians noticed we were here?

“We’re only going to get one chance at this, Doc,” I said. “If the engine starts and stops, they’ll know we’re here!”

“I know, Mac,” Doc replied. “Let me at the controls!”


TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

Last Message: Search for the Solar Explorer
Mac and Doc recover the Solar Explorer with the help of Mizar and Antares.

BB’s Journal

It seems like just last week I was writing a letter to my best friend on Earth to tell him about my trip to Mars. So much has happened since then! We crash-landed on Mars, met real Martians, and helped stop a plot by Martian rebels to take over the planet. Best of all, we made friends with some of the Martians here.

Now, though, it’s finally time to go home. Doc was able to turn the synthetic biodium he made into rocket fuel, and the Assistant patched up the holes in the ship. All that was left was to say goodbye to the friends we made here.

“Well, Riegel, it’s been an adventure,” Mac says to the ruler of the Martians. “If you’re ever on Earth… well, maybe you better call before coming. Earth people are still kind of nervous about UFOs, you know?”

Riegel laughs. “Yes. We wouldn’t want to wind up as a special on one of your cable networks. You have done a tremendous service to all of Mars, Mac. You have shown us that it doesn’t matter what planet you’re from, what species you are, what your language or your skin color or your beliefs are. What matters is what’s in your heart – or, in the case of we Martians, hearts.”

“None of us were sure what to make of Martians when we first arrived,” Doc says. “But now.. as much as I want to go home, it is hard to say goodbye.”

“Then let’s not,” Cassiopeia suddenly says. “I would love to see Earth. Let me go back with you and learn about your planet!”

After a long moment, Riegel nods. Mac smiled and shrugged, saying, “Okay, Cassie. But it’s going to be a rough ride.”

With a last goodbye, we all pile back into the ship. I’m excited to be going home, but nervous too – we are going to have to pass through the asteroid field again, the same one that damaged our ship the first time. If we don’t make it through, we could be stranded on Mars forever!

With a last wave goodbye to our friends on Mars, we rocket off into the sky!


 
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