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Joe is frustrated that he can't sweat when he works out
Joe is frustrated that he can't sweat when he works out.

X25 K-3

[G-II #29: Life or Death: The Evil North Wall]

Joe is working out in the gymnasium with the rest of the team. He admires the way that the others push themselves to the limits of human endurance. However, Joe’s endurance goes beyond that, because he is a cyborg. He stays in top condition without any effort at all, and even after a strenuous run around the gym he has barely broken a sweat. He knows that many people would love to have a body like his, but Joe feels that it has come at too high a price: it has cost him his humanity.

Dr. Keane summons the Eagle Riders to a briefing. The Vorak have built a new base inside of the K-3 Mountain in the Himalayas. Ollie suggests that they just destroy it, but Dr. Keane is reluctant to do this, because the Global Security Council fears that there might be nuclear reactors inside, which could contaminate the area. The Eagle Riders need to get inside and disable the base from within.

However, the bad weather conditions make it impossible for the Ultra Eagle to fly there. Climbing teams have already been repelled from the southern, eastern, and western faces of the mountain, leaving only the north face left unattempted.

Ollie protests that the north face of K-3 is 8,000 feet straight up, and that no one has ever climbed it before. Ollie sure seems to know a lot about this! Dr. Keane agrees that no human could climb this mountain. Hunter correctly surmises that this means that Joe has been sent to perform this task alone.

Hunter gets angry and shouts at Dr. Keane, telling him that sending Joe on this mission alone is the same as telling Joe that he’s not part of the team: that ‘Robot Joe’ is just a weapon to be deployed when a job is too dangerous for a human to attempt. This is an incredibly insightful and coherent argument for Hunter to make. Even so, Kelly is upset by Hunter’s words, but Hunter insists that Dr. Keane was unfair to Joe by sending him on this mission by himself.

Joe is preparing to leave.  Dr. Aikens is nearby, and he refuses her suggestion that the rest of the team meet him at the base of the mountain. Joe takes off alone in the Falcon Tracker. He has time to think, and he regrets leaving his human self behind.

In the middle of a desert (Since when were there deserts enroute to the Himalayas?) Joe comes across the Ultra Eagle. The rest of the team has come to meet him. Hunter puts a friendly hand on Joe’s shoulder, reminding him that they are still a team and that they should all attempt this together. Joe rudely demands that Hunter remove his hand, and when he doesn’t, Joe leaps out of the Falcon Tracker and punches Hunter. When Ollie jumps to Hunter’s defense, Joe punches him as well. Mickey looks at Joe, horrified, and Joe threatens the boy too, before jumping back into the Falcon Tracker and taking off. Kelly is very upset by Joe’s attitude. Not to mention the rest of the team, who are moaning in pain and fright!

Joe drives along, thinking that the ‘old Joe’ would have been upset at hurting his friends’ feelings, but the ‘new Joe’ is incapable of feeling. Suddenly there is a flash, and the Falcon Tracker overturns, and Joe blacks out.

When Joe awakens, Kelly is there. She apologizes for throwing a concussion grenade at him, but insists that he needs to get rid of this macho, self-destructive attitude he is displaying. After calling Joe a ‘pouty self-pitying brat’ she offers Joe a topographical map of the mountain. Way to switch gears!

Joe rudely refuses Kelly’s help, taking off and nearly running her over in the Falcon Tracker in the process. Kelly fumes, but decides to help Joe anyway. It’s clear she has a vested emotional interest in doing so.

Joe has begun his ascent of K-3, and is climbing without any mechanical aid. He hears something behind him, and sees Kelly catching up. She tells Joe that she thought he might need some climbing equipment, unless he wants to do it ‘the hard way’. Joe thinks to himself that he had wanted to do it the hard way, which is why he had purposely left his climbing equipment in the Falcon Tracker. But Joe agrees that he’s making a lot less progress than he had anticipated, and gratefully accepts the offer of climbing equipment. Kelly is allowed to accompany him.

After climbing for some time, Kelly accidentally drops a small grenade, which detonates much further down the mountain. Inside the Vorak base, Mallanox hears the explosion, but doesn’t imagine that it could be anyone trying to find the Vorak base, saying, “That’s preposterous! A person would have to be insane to make an attempt on the North Face!” But just to be sure, Mallanox decides that it’s time to have another avalanche.

The Vorak-made avalanche hits Joe and Kelly, and afterward Kelly is hanging unconscious from her climbing rope. She wakes up, and the pair continue moving on, although Kelly is severely weakened.

At the bottom of the mountain, Hunter, announces to a surprised Ollie and Mickey that they will begin climbing.

Back at Gateway City, Dr. Aikens tells Dr. Keane that she is glad that the others went along with Joe. Dr. Keane says that he was wrong and Hunter was right. This is a rare event. Make note of this day! Dr. Keane goes on to say that the Eagle Riders work best as a team. By making so much of Joe’s special abilities, Dr. Keane almost lost track of that.

The altitude and the cold have taken their toll on Kelly. She can’t go on much longer. Joe pulls her to a safe ledge and desperately tries to talk to her as she lapses into unconsciousness. Joe emotionally asks her not to die because of him. He seems distraught at the thought that this could happen. Kelly is in bad condition, and Joe pulls her close to him, trying to keep her warm and wrapping her in his arms. Swoon…

Meanwhile, Hunter, Ollie, and Mickey have started climbing the mountain. They find one of Joe and Kelly’s pitons, and figure that the two of them should have entered the Vorak base by now. The fact that they haven’t means that something is wrong. How does Hunter know that Joe and Kelly aren’t in the base? I guess because the base hasn’t exploded yet?

Hunter tells Ollie and Mickey to bang their hammers against the rock, to let Joe know that they are coming. With his enhanced ears, Joe will hear their message. Joe does, but so does Mallanox. A Vorak android suggests that it sounds like someone is hammering on the rock. Mallanox calls the android a fool, stating that even if there had been someone there, the avalanche would have ‘taken care of them’. “Even if it’s the Eagle Riders?” the android asks. (This is a smart one, make more of this guy!)

“You have a point!” Mallanox cries, and they to go off check. To the Vorak Leader’s surprise and delight, he sees Joe and Kelly outside of his base, but Joe is so cold he can barely move, and Kelly is still unconscious. “I don’t know if it’s human beings, or a snowman!” Mallanox laughs.

Just as Mallanox is about to shoot Joe and Kelly, Hunter, Ollie and Mickey appear, fighting off the Vorak androids and entering the base to defeat even more androids. “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.” Hunter smirks.

The three Eagle Riders find the weapon in the base: a Thermomagnetic Climate Destabilizer that is capable of turning the entire planet into a ball of ice. Seeing that it is not a nuclear reactor, Hunter feels free to shoot it, and destroys the base.

Afterward, Hunter, Ollie, and Mickey go back to assist Joe and Jelly. Kelly wakes up, and tells Joe that he saved her because his body warmth kept her alive. In effect, his humanity saved her. Tears fall from Joe’s eyes, but he turns away, getting up and pushing Kelly into Hunter’s arms. Joe walks away, a tear still in his eye, and he recognizes that Kelly is right; he is still human after all. A human with an emotional attachment to Kelly.

The other Eagle Riders wonder why sweating is such a big deal
The other Eagle Riders wonder why sweating is such a big deal.
Kelly and Hunter aren't sure about Joe going alone on the K-3 mission
Kelly and Hunter aren't sure about Joe going alone on the K-3 mission.
Hunter lectures Dr. Keane for singling out 'Robot Joe'
Hunter lectures Dr. Keane for singling out 'Robot Joe'.
Kelly stops Joe before he reaches K-3
Kelly stops Joe before he reaches K-3.
Joe isn't happy about the interruption
Joe isn't happy about the interruption.
Joe punches Ollie in an attempt to get the Eagle Riders to leave him alone
Joe punches Ollie in an attempt to get the Eagle Riders to leave him alone.
Kelly climbs K-3, following Joe
Kelly climbs K-3, following Joe.
Joe is surprised to see Kelly below him
Joe is surprised to see Kelly below him.
Mickey and Ollie climb K-3
Mickey and Ollie climb K-3.
Joe shelters Kelly from the cold
Joe shelters Kelly from the cold.
Joe worries about Kelly's condition
Joe worries about Kelly's condition.
Kelly seems quite comfy in Joe's arms
Kelly seems quite comfy in Joe's arms.
Hunter is determined to climb up to the Vorak base
Hunter is determined to climb up to the Vorak base.
Joe seems pretty happy to be freezing with Kelly
Joe seems pretty happy to be freezing with Kelly.
Joe cries as he realizes how much Kelly means to him
Joe cries as he realizes how much Kelly means to him.
Kelly reassures Joe of his humanity
Kelly reassures Joe of his humanity.
Unable to deal with his emotions, Joe puts Kelly into Hunter's arms
Unable to deal with his emotions, Joe puts Kelly into Hunter's arms.

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