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ISO scientists attempt to understand Space Pulse technology
ISO scientists attempt to understand Space Pulse technology.

X61 The Price of Glory

[G-F #35: The Shadow of Death Approaches G-1]

The scientists at the ISO are still trying to understand what Cybercon is creating in space, but answers are hard to find. Dr. Keane worries that they don’t have enough information to know what the Space Pulse is, much less how to manipulate it.

Turns out that Happyboy has his own team of scientists working on the same thing. He wants to know what Cybercon plans to do with the Space Pulse as well. A giant computer with a large blinking red light (bearing a strong resemblance to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey) informs Happyboy that no further extrapolations can be made. This is the most powerful technology that ever existed, but Happyboy doesn’t know how to use it. Vax suggests that they attack the ISO to get the rest of the data. Happyboy admits it’s risky, but their best option at the moment.

Cybercon’s massive metal pyramid appears, laughing at Happyboy and telling him that he should have consulted Cybercon about the Space Pulse, instead of ‘some archaic computer’. Cybercon locks up the CPU of the Hal-like computer, calling it ‘second-rate technology used by a third-rate leader’. A strong wind blows through the computer room, sending Vorak goons flying away while Cybercon tells Happyboy that he is ‘not up to this task’.

Cybercon is angry that Happyboy has been trying to keep his investigations secret from Cybercon. Happyboy counters that he was planning on sharing everything with Cybercon about the Space Pulse once he understood it. Cybercon retorts that the Space Pulse is too complex for Happyboy to understand. Happyboy is clearly over-estimating his abilities.

“What? Do you think I’m some single-celled stooge of yours?” Happyboy yells.

Apparently, this does the job, because Cybercon pulls Happyboy into himself, bragging about his intellect, and then spilling the beans.

Cybercon has seven Vorak space stations working on an anti-matter planet. Happyboy knows what happens when matter and anti-matter collide, doesn’t he? Yes, Happyboy knows: both planets will be destroyed. Cybercon tells Happyboy that the anti-matter planet is locater a quarter parsec away from Earth: far enough away not to be detected, but close enough to serve its purpose. Now Cybercon will give Happyboy a ‘primer about Space Pulse technology’.

But Happyboy interrupts. Cybercon has always promised him that Happyboy will be emperor of the Earth. What about that? Cybercon quickly switches gears, telling Happyboy that the humans will be scared into evacuating, and then the planet will belong to Happyboy without its being destroyed. Happyboy doesn’t quite believe this, which is just as well, as Cybercon is clearly lying through his virtual teeth.

Now Cybercon talks again about the Space Pulse. It is a wave-form byproduct of creating the anti-matter planet. Happyboy asks if there is a way to store this energy for use later, so he can use it to conquer the Earth.

“You seem to have found a newfound enthusiasm for our mission!” Cybercon declares, surprised. But he continues on, saying, “Eliminate the Eagle Riders, or I shall decide to test the Space Pulse on you!”

“You wouldn’t really use the Space Pulse on me, would you?” Happyboy begs. Cybercon reminds Happyboy that when he was Mallanox, Cybercon punished him by sending his mother (Dr. Aikens) into deep space. “There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, but that does not mean that I won’t smash you like a bug, if you do not comply with my orders, understand?” Cybercon rants.

But Happyboy doesn’t know when to quit. “I really do apologize, Cybercon, but by combining the Space Pulse with my forces, we’d win faster.” he points out. Cybercon’s anger seems to be gone by this point, as he doesn’t really respond. Happyboy pledges himself to Cybercon again, and Cybercon sends his blue minion off with a gentle, “Go forth and terrorize.” Ah, what a healthy relationship these two have!

Back at the ISO, the scientists are receiving new data. Dr. Keane theorizes that the Space Pulse isn’t a natural phenomenon, and that it might be a byproduct or a catalyst of some other process. The data is, at best, inconclusive. But wait! The computer has located the emanation point of the Space Pulse. It’s about a quarter parsec from Earth’s orbit. If the ISO can just somehow decipher the Space Pulse’s digital transmission, then they might be able to run a chromonagraphic (Is that a real word?) test on it, and discover its true origin. Of course, they don’t have a spectroscope out there close enough to get accurate information.

Dr. Keane notes that this whole Space Pulse thing could be a riddle concocted by Happyboy, and while the ISO is preoccupied with it, the Vorak could attack. This whole ‘project’ could be a ploy to draw the Eagle Riders out of position, leaving the Earth unprotected.

An emergency report from Underground Station 17 comes in. Waves of seismic activity are jumping off the chart. Something manmade must be responsible, and whatever it is, it appears to be heading toward the ISO headquarters. It will be there in twenty minutes. Dr. Keane orders all available tank forces to surround the building, because as we all know, tanks are an excellent defense against seismic activity. Riiiight.

Dr. Keane also calls a Red Alert for the Eagle Riders, telling them that underground Vorak forces have been spotted nearby. That’s stretching it a bit, but close enough. All civilians are to be evacuated, but they should get to the ISO as soon as possible.

A massive Centipede robot breaks through the ground in Gateway City. It smashes a building for fun, before meeting the tank forces. The Ultra Eagle 5 shows up, and Hunter immediately declares, “It’s jettison time!”

Faster than you can blink, Hunter is in his Super Hawk and engaging Delta Power. Hunter draws his Phase Foil, and slices the Centipede in two. But he has only destroyed its outer coating. Another one is underneath! This one will require a round two.

But just as Hunter prepares to go at the centipede again, he grabs his helmet, screaming in pain, all while standing on top of his flying plane. Kelly notes that Hunter is in trouble, and Joe suspects that he might have sustained a blow to the head. Ollie urges Hunter to return to the Ultra Eagle. Hunter does, but he is still weak and holding his head. Kelly suggests that Hunter is just tired from so many missions, but Joe worries about what will happen if there truly is something major wrong with Hunter.

As the Eagle Riders worry, the new, smaller Centipede is back attacking the ISO. It pushes its arms into the building, and from the arms emerge Gods of War and Vorak androids. The Scorpius Force quickly takes over the 8th and 11th floors. Dr. Keane orders all personnel to be evacuated as fast as possible. But, didn’t he already do that?

The Vorak have already cut the circuit between the main control room (where Dr. Keane is) and the data analyzing room. The ISO personnel have no control of their system door locks. Dr. Keane asks the scientists with him to arm themselves because the Scorpius Force could be there at any moment.

Hunter is weak, but pulls himself together to attempt another attack, even as the Scorpius are wandering through the ISO, destroying computers willy nilly. The Vorak break into Dr. Keane’s control room. Happyboy emerges, pointing a gun at Dr. Keane.

“It’s nice to meet a man of your ‘caliber’.” Happyboy jokes. Groan.

“Oh, Happyguy.” Dr. Keane practically rolls his eyes. Clearly he wasn’t impressed with the joke either.

“It’s HappyBOY, please.” Happyboy responds. He thinks Dr. Keane must be under some kind of job-related stress not to remember his name.

Their conversation is interrupted by a flash hitting Happyboy’s hand, making him drop his gun. The Eagle Riders have (literally) dropped in to pay Happyboy a visit. There is a big fight in the control room, and the Eagle Riders make mincemeat of the Vorak, before running away with Dr. Keane. What about all of the other scientists? They have apparently been abandoned.

“Don’t run away! Where are you going? I was going to serve lunch!” Happyboy begs the Eagle Riders. He sends his men after them. The Vorak all run down the hallway, Happyboy trailing behind. After they have gone, the Eagle Riders and Dr. Keane drop down from a hiding place in the ceiling.

Dr. Keane surmises that based on what he has just seen, Happyboy plans to eliminate any data the ISO has on the Space Pulse, and kill Dr. Keane as well. Hunter admits that this is his fault. If the Phase Foil command hadn’t failed, none of this would have happened.

Dr. Keane is shocked that this occurred. Dr. Keane orders Ollie to go to his office and get a DIS tape to E1, right away. Dr. Keane orders everyone else to create diversions, so he has time to examine something important. Hunter is about to run off with the others when Dr. Keane asks him to stay behind.

“What for?” asks Hunter.

“Dr. Keane probably needs you as a bodyguard.” whispers Joe, patting Hunter on the back in a condescending manner. Good one, Joe!

Once the others are gone, Dr. Keane tells Hunter that the easiest way to get to E1 without being seen is through the ventilation system. Hunter shoots open the wall panel with a gun, and the pair crawls inside.

Joe, Kelly and Mickey come across three Vorak androids. Joe defeats them, saying that they can put on the goons’ green uniforms to move around undetected.

Ollie arrives at E1 to find Dr. Keane and Hunter waiting for him. Ollie delivers the tape, and Dr. Keane asks how the fight is going. Ollie reports that the Vorak and the ISO men are in a stalemate situation, but the Vorak ‘have got us pinned down’. Ollie thinks the ISO men can hold for three hours at least, unless the Scorpius decide to step in and squeeze a little harder. Ollie’s going back to help them out.

Dr. Keane puts the tape in and begins examining the data. Hunter asks if he shouldn’t be out helping with the fight. But Dr. Keane counters that since the Phase Foil is the most effective weapon against the Vorak robots, if its effectiveness is compromised, they must know why, now. Dr. Keane tells Hunter to lie down on the sensor pad to be examined, and Hunter finally clues in that Dr. Keane thinks he is the problem. Turns out, Dr. Keane can find no mechanical issues, so all Dr. Keane can assume is that there’s a problem with the Phase Foil operator.

Dressed as Vorak androids, Joe, Kelly and Mickey approach the arm of the centipede robot that has embedded itself inside the ISO. Other androids are guarding the open hatch. The three disguised Eagle Riders approach.

“Hey, his Happiness sent us to get another bazooka.” Joe tells the guard, and the guard tells some others to get a bazooka for them.

“That’s all right, they look busy. We’ll just get it ourselves.” Joe responds.

“Hey, you’re all right!” the guard grins. Clearly courtesy is scarce in the Vorak regime. The guard even tells them where to find the bazookas.

After Joe’s brilliant infiltration, Kelly walks by, saying, “See ya!” to the guard.

“Boy, oh boy. I’ve never seen a female Vorak. Hmm…” the guard muses.

Hunter realizes that Dr. Keane is right and there is a problem with him. He is being examined on the table, and a glowing orange-yellow nimbus surrounds him. Dr. Keane asks Hunter if he is in pain, and Hunter replies that his muscles ache somewhat.

Dr. Keane explains the Delta Power phenomenon. An energy pulse is sent form the G1 Generator through Hunter’s body. Since Hunter’s body is mostly liquid, it is an excellent conductor for the super-charged energy created in the transference. This explains why it is so easy to cut through any metal. Hunter’s body’s natural heat is amplified one hundred times, to create a Phase Beam that has a temperature of almost 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dr. Keane discovers that Hunter is suffering a massive breakdown on a cellular level. If this continues, Hunter will be too weak to even walk within a week. Dr. Keane feels that it is a shame that after facing so many fearsome foes, that Hunter is now being undone by his own body. Hunter asks Dr. Keane how things look, and the Doctor admits that it’s not so good. He asks Hunter if he has had any headaches lately, and Hunter admits that he has, just before using the Phase Foil. Dr. Keane suspects that Hunter’s brain function is being affected.

The analysis is interrupted by a nasty laugh. Happyboy and his men are standing in the doorway to the E1 lab.

“When I didn’t find you on the golf course, Doc, I knew you had to be examining someone.” Happyboy jokes. I think he’s trying to come up with something better than his previous ‘caliber’ joke. Keep working on it, Happyboy.

“Oh, Hunter, not feeling well?” Happyboy asks condescendingly. “Perhaps my specialists can help you out with a ‘physical’?”

Hunter jumps off of the examination table and draws the Phase Foil. He is not daunted by the twenty-to-one odds, even when those twenty are Gods of War.  But at that exact moment, there is an explosion inside the centipede robot. The fiery blast rips through the walls of the ISO building and through the E1 lab. The Gods of War are blasted away, although Happyboy is off to the side and unharmed. The blue one decides to leave.

“Come on men!” Happyboy calls. “Men?” I guess he didn’t see them get blown away like Hunter and Dr. Keane did.

Happyboy takes this as his cue to exit, and he runs away laughing, being chased by Hunter. Happyboy boards the Centipede robot, and Joe physically holds Hunter back, to prevent him from following. Hunter protests that he wanted to get Happyboy himself, but Joe explains that he, Kelly and Mickey set up a bomb on the robot and it’s going to explode any second now.

Indeed, the Centipede robot detaches from the ISO building and almost immediately explodes. The giant drill on its bottom detaches and heads off underground. Onboard, Happyboy slams his hand down in frustration. The Vorak destroyed the Space Pulse data and wrecked the ISO lab, but the Eagle Riders are still a threat to them.

Happyboy has escaped again, and Hunter knows that it is his fault. This puts him in a difficult position. The Eagle Riders need a leader they can depend on without question, and Hunter isn’t sure he can be that person anymore.

In the ruins of the E1 lab, Joe is staring at a still-working computer screen.

“This data can’t be right!” he mutters. “Hunter has been suffering for us! All of this damage… can it be stopped?” Joe’s shoulders shake with grief as he contemplates the price Hunter is paying to defend the Global Good.

Happyboy's scientists are also examining the Space Pulse
Happyboy's scientists are also examining the Space Pulse.
Happyboy faces an angry Cybercon
Happyboy faces an angry Cybercon.
Hunter slices the Centipede robot with the Phase Foil
Hunter slices the Centipede robot with the Phase Foil.
Everyone watches Hunter use the Phase Foil
Everyone watches Hunter use the Phase Foil.
Hunter prepares to use the Phase Foil again
Hunter prepares to use the Phase Foil again.
Another Centipede appears from underneath the first
Another Centipede appears from underneath the first.
Hunter is in pain when the Phase Foil command fails
Hunter is in pain when the Phase Foil command fails.
Everyone is concerned for Hunter
Everyone is concerned for Hunter.
The Eagle Riders discuss their options
The Eagle Riders discuss their options.
Hunter insists that he is 'just fine'
Hunter insists that he is 'just fine'.
Joe is suspicious of Hunter's sudden illness
Joe is suspicious of Hunter's sudden illness.
The Vorak Centipede robot attacks the ISO Building
The Vorak Centipede robot attacks the ISO Building.
Happyboy is pleased to meet a man of Dr. Keane's 'caliber'
Happyboy is pleased to meet a man of Dr. Keane's 'caliber'.
The Eagle Riders show Happyboy what they think of his bad jokes
The Eagle Riders show Happyboy what they think of his bad jokes.
Kelly attacks the Vorak infiltrators
Kelly attacks the Vorak infiltrators.
Mickey jumps to attack the Vorak goons
Mickey jumps to attack the Vorak goons.
Hunter strikes a Vorak goon
Hunter strikes a Vorak goon.
Ollie and Mickey take out a God of War
Ollie and Mickey take out a God of War.
Joe encounters Vorak androids in the ISO Building
Joe encounters Vorak androids in the ISO Building.
Two goons at once doesn't phase Joe
Two goons at once doesn't phase Joe.
Joe takes out a Vorak goon
Joe takes out a Vorak goon.
Joe suggests using the Vorak uniforms as a disguise
Joe suggests using the Vorak uniforms as a disguise.
Kelly, Joe, and Mickey disguise themselves as Vorak goons
Kelly, Joe, and Mickey disguise themselves as Vorak goons.
Ollie delivers the DIS tape that Dr. Keane requested
Ollie delivers the DIS tape that Dr. Keane requested.
Hunter wants to go join the fight
Hunter wants to go join the fight.
Dr. Keane analyzes why the Phase Foil command failed
Dr. Keane analyzes why the Phase Foil command failed.
Dr. Keane examines Hunter
Dr. Keane examines Hunter.
Happyboy arrives to kill Dr. Keane
Happyboy arrives to kill Dr. Keane.
Hunter prepares to defend Dr. Keane
Hunter prepares to defend Dr. Keane.
Hunter is angry at seeing Happyboy
Hunter is angry at seeing Happyboy.
Hunter chases after a fleeing Happyboy
Hunter chases after a fleeing Happyboy.
Joe prevents Hunter from boarding the Vorak robot
Joe prevents Hunter from boarding the Vorak robot.
Joe sees Hunter's diagnosis on a computer screen in the destroyed lab
Joe sees Hunter's diagnosis on a computer screen in the destroyed lab.

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