The wounded Joes and Cobras try to survive and escape in the Sierras, while plots and counter-plots are developed in Springfield.
In the Sierras Destro, Fred Broca, Spirit, Firefly and Airborne lie by the ruins of Snake-Eyes's cabin. A hiker comes by and brings first Spirit round. Destro has also revived and fires his wrist rockets at the old man who calmly uses his hiking stick to knock them aside without even looking. He takes off his goggles and hood to reveal himself as the Soft Master. Finding that Firefly's wounds are minor he tells Destro and Firefly to take Fred Broca with them, also giving them their guns as he is not afraid of them.
In Springfield Major Bludd drives the Baroness and Billy in a taxi through the rain, telling him that they know about his work for the anti-Cobra underground and they believe Cobra Commander needs to be assassinated. They tell him there will be a big Cobra rally that week when a troop of Cobra Youth will present Cobra Commander with bouquets of flowers. Billy is going to be one of the presenters and his flowers will contain a gun. At point blank range "you can't miss!" At the Pit Duke and Hawk confirm that the base is finished bar cosmetics. Clutch drives in with two new Joes - Recondo and Blowtorch - as passengers and a supply of ice cream and cola. He asks for news on Snake-Eyes and is told not to worry as Hawk sent Airborne and Spirit to keep an eye on him. This is news to Scarlett who asks why Snake-Eyes needs anybody.
In the Sierras Fred Broca has now regained consciousness and wants to go back and attack again, but Destro is cautious, having seen the Soft Master in action. Meanwhile by the ruins of the cabin the Soft Master extracts two bullets from Airborne's leg and explains he gave back the guns because the danger isn't the weapons but the people who use them. By giving them back their guns it means the Joes know how the Cobras will act. In an underground cavern in Springfield the Baroness and Major Bludd practice how Billy will assassinate Cobra Commander, teaching him to aim for the chest not the head. In the Sierras Spirit and the Soft Master clear away the fallen timbers of the cabin to reveal a trap door and open it. Nearby the three Cobras argue about whether they left with honor and how they might have won.
On a road outside Springfield Zartan is leading the Dreadnoks on their motorcycles but hasn't yet told them their destination. The Dreadnoks wonder if he's mad with them for their actions at McGuire Air Force Base but Zartan says he is just concentrating. Suddenly they see an Arbco Moving truck moving ahead of them. The rear doors open and a ramp lowers and Zartan leads them inside. There they meet Cobra Commander who wants them as his personal bodyguards. Zartan asks about Storm Shadow but is told the ninja was locked up in Alcatraz and even he can't escape. On the roof of the truck Storm Shadow listens as Cobra Commander explains he was getting too nosey and could have discovered something about his uncle.
In the Sierras Spirit and the Soft Master carry a concussed Snake-Eyes and Timber into the open air. They need shelter, warmth and food. Spirit then heads off to find food and firewood. Nearby Firefly wakes Destro to tell him that while they slept Fred Broca went back to the cabin. In Springfield the Baroness and Major Bludd watch as the Arbco truck arrives in the tunnels and the passengers disembark. Cobra Commander is suddenly confronted by Storm Shadow. In the Sierras Spirit has found wood when he sees an eagle which motions to a blood trail. In Springfield Storm Shadow tells Cobra Commander how he used his mattress spring to pick the lock on his cell then used a tube of rubber hose from the laundry room as a snorkel while clinging beneath a Coast Guard boat that took him back to San Francisco. Watching this Major Bludd worries that Cobra Commander is now too well protected but the Baroness has faith in Billy.
In the Sierras Firefly and Destro follow the blood trail, realizing Fred Broca is losing blood heavily, when they encounter Spirit who is standing still. He tells them to quietly walk away but the two Cobras think he's trying to psyche them out. They charge forward and Spirit curses them - they have awakened a giant bear! At the cabin Fred Broca arrives and declares he's come to kill them. The Soft Master responds that killing an old man, two wounded and an unconscious animal is murder, but Broca does not care. Despite Airborne telling him to run and save himself, the Soft Master declares if Broca wants to kill the others he'll have to shoot him first. Further down the mountain Spirit, Firefly and Destro climb a tree to escape from the bear. Firefly produces a satchel charge full of plastic explosive but Spirit grabs it and tells him if he throws it at the base of the tree it will bring the tree down while they're in it. Spirit drops to the ground and throws the satchel around the bear's neck then runs off, encouraging the bear to follow him. But instead the bear starts to climb the tree again. The charge explodes and the tree tips forward.
In Springfield Cobra Commander tells Storm Shadow the Baroness and Major Bludd have turned on him but it amuses him to have the Baroness running around and he's aware she released Bludd. With a lot of Cobras looking out for themselves Cobra Commander declares Storm Shadow is the only man he can trust to guard his life - because he knows the identity of the Hard Master's killer. So long as Storm Shadow keeps him alive until the end of the rally he will tell him. In the Sierras the tree finally topples over, with Destro and Firefly still in the branches, and slides don the mountain over the edge of a cliff. Spirit returns to the ruins of the cabin to find Fred Broca is dead. The Soft Master explains that the Cobra was only kept alive by the need for revenge but when he realized how unsatisfying the vengeance would be his will to live ended and he succumbed to his injuries. He turns to Snake-Eyes and tells him they need to talk about who really killed the Hard Master.
The tree hits a river and Destro and Firefly climb onto drifting timber. They note they are not the only survivors. At Fred Broca's home outside Fort Wadsworth a car pulls up and Fred climbs out. The kids rush forward but soon realize that even though he looks identical, the man isn't their father. "I am now," he replies.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
- None yet.
- Last issue there was no snow at Snake-Eyes' cabin. This month there are several feet.
- Maybe the explosion knocked it off the trees?
- Page 5: A speech bubble meant for Fred is pointed at Firefly.
- When the cabin blew up last issue, a wolf - presumably Timber, since Destro had thrown him outside - was shown outside. In this issue, Timber is shown in Snake-Eyes' bolt hole.
- A letter column several months later awarded a No-Prize for explaining this incongruity.
Items of note
- First Appearances: Blowtorch, Recondo, Ripcord, Lady Jaye, Fred Collins
- Lady Jaye's name is spelt "Lady J."
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Action Force #22, #23 & #24. The page showing Lady Jaye and Ripcord meeting Scarlett and Grunt was excised, as Jaye was already a regular character. However, this means Ripcord mysteriously appears in the next story with no explanation.
- No references.
Footnotes and References