After the session with Xavier, Carol slept as well as she
had in weeks. The next morning, she was up bright and early
and joining the X-Men aboard Lilandra's yacht for the pleasure
cruise. To finally board an alien starship and meet persons
of yet another alien culture...that brought back some of the
thrill she'd experienced years ago when she started working
Unfortunately, it was a thrill of a different sort than she
She enjoyed her trip aboard the Shi'ar starcraft, getting
the grand tour, talking to the pilot, the engineer, and just
about anybody involved with the nuts-and-bolts running of
the ship. If this sort of technology could be duplicated on
Earth, the planet would cease being a backwards crossworld
for spacefaring races and would become a spatial power in
its own right. But she knew that the techstuff was far beyond
Earth science as it currently stood.
They arrived on the Shi'ar throneworld. At one point, Carol
was almost certain she detected the form of Deathbird. But
she shrugged it off. She'd been under a lot of stress lately,
and her memory was probably doing a spontaneous flashback
to an earlier battle. She accompanied the rest of the group
to a reception party in the capital city.
Of all of them, only Wolverine seemed discomfited. He grabbed
Carol's arm at one point and burst out that they were being
conned. She didn't understand it. But she chalked it up, at
least in part, to job stress, and asked him to dance. He looked
at her strangely, then subsided.
The others, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Kitty, and Nightcrawler,
all seemed to be having a fine old time with their Shi'ar
hosts. So Logan appeared to let it ride, and Carol prepared
to cut the equivalent of a rug with him on the ballroom floor.
But before they could begin, two of the aliens cut in, asking
Carol if they could do a bioscan on her. She was different,
they said, from their other guests, and they were curious.
"I'm not a mutant, if that's what you mean," Carol
said. One of the pair said that was precisely why they wanted
to examine her.
She wasn't sure how protocol worked with the Shi'ar. But
she was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. After
all, the X-Men had fought beside Princess Lil and Xavier was
her lover, so harming Xavier's guests would be a definite
faux pas. She touched Logan's shoulder and said, "Later,
pal." The two aliens had activated what appeared to be
anti-gravity controls and whisked her away from the ballroom,
to another chamber in the building.
Logan was yelling something at her for a second, but she
wasn't sure of what it was.
A few minutes later, they set her down in another chamber
full of equipment and manned by what appeared to be a number
of Shi'ar techs. The two guided her forward to a spot on the
floor, which appeared equidistant between two ceiling projectors.
She shook their hands off.
"My apologies, sirs, but I'm really not accustomed to
being pushed," she said. "A simple Stand here,
please', is all that would be required."
One of them looked at the other. The other nodded. The first
said, "Very well, then, honored guest. Stand here, please."
So Carol stood there. She was a bit wary, but nothing untoward
had been seen yet.
"Now. Lift your arms to shoulder height, and spread
your legs a bit. Please."
She did so, and they thanked her.
That was when an energy field was activated which grabbed
her roughly about the wrists and ankles, held her immobile,
wrapped itself around her body in a nimbus of gold-white power,
and lifted her several feet off the floor. "What in the--"
was as much as she got out.
She looked at the Shi'ar, who weren't Shi'ar anymore.
They had dropped their illusions. She was facing a horde
of Brood members. Insectoid forms of life outfitted with deadly
fangs, claws, and dual poisoned stingers on their tails. They
had no love for Shi'ar and even less for humans, or any sort
of animal life. Mostly, they used humanoids as nesting-beings
for their eggs, which they implanted in their living bodies.
When the eggs hatched, the Brood-beings--the X-Men called
them Sleazoids--physically took over and transformed the host-body
into their image, and retained whatever knowledge, skills,
and power their host possessed.
That was why they had projected the illusion. They had actually
brought the X-Men to the Brood homeworld, in a living starship.
They wanted to harvest the X-Men's unique powers.
But Carol Danvers's genetic makeup was not mutant. It was
part-human, part-Kree. That made her an interesting case.
So they conned her into the examination.
She screamed as the projectors forced energy bolts painfully
up and down her body. It hurt like hell.
The Brood scientists noted that drily in their records, and
stepped up the test.
In a way, she was a lot luckier than the X-Men. They ended
up with Brood eggs implanted within them. Save for Wolverine's
ability to destroy his inhabitant with his healing factor,
the team probably would have fallen prey to their foes.
But that perspective would have been mighty hard for Carol
to see just then. The blazing light-heat force wound its way
like a thread of red-hot iron through her every genetic helix,
mapping them out for the Sleazoids. She screamed until she
thought she couldn't scream any more, cursed them with every
epithet she knew, and was dumbfounded when one of the Sleazoids
asked her to translate one phrase for them.
Good god, she thought, when she had time to think
between pulses of pain. First Marcus Immortus. Then Rogue.
Then this? God, are we reenacting the book of Job here? Help
And when the pain didn't stop coming, she found that she
almost could get used to it. That was horrifying.
It wasn't as horrifying as what they started doing to her
They made random alterations in her DNA. They transformed
her momentarily from human into Brood-like thing, and back
again, several times. Then they morphed her into different
forms. They called it "evolutionary modification."
She had other names for it, and them, and flung them at her
captors as strongly as she could, however strongly that was.
While her mind stayed whole, her body repeatedly became things
disgusting to her psyche. It made her nauseous, frightened
her, and angered her. And she worried that, after any of the
morphings, they might not choose to revert her to humanoid
There was one more strange thing about it.
Carol did not give way to despair or defeatism.
She did not collapse into a well of fatalism or depression.
In her life, she had been brutally beaten by an alien female,
changed into a split-personality super-hero, endured numerous
physical battles, been psychically manipulated and basically
raped, had her memories and powers stolen, and somehow come
through it all alive and basically sane.
Thus, the Brood had chosen a tougher specimen than they could
have imagined. Carol's thoughts were not of how nice it would
be for the pain and her life to end. They were more along
the lines of: When I get out of this, and I will get out
of it, I'll find a way to make you pay. I'll change the shape
of your bodies for you...and then some. Just wait. Just wait...
Even the Sleazoid in charge admitted, "Her physical
form we can alter at will. What has proven most fascinating
is her psychic resistance."
What was even more fascinating, though the Brood did not
comprehend it, was how Carol's half-Kree genetics were reacting
with the energy matrix. They were bonding with it, reaching
out to cosmic energy sources, transforming the now-naked woman
in the field generators' grip. It would prove to be a lot
more than the aliens could handle.
But all that would only be of concern if she survived, and
the Brood were determined to push her beyond the point of
survival, just to find out where it was.
Enter Wolverine, claws unsheathed, body a little lumpy from
the effects of fighting off the egg's possession attempt.
He tore up the Sleazoids and their devices, and a weary, naked,
human-formed Carol tumbled into his arms.
She had become so used to feeling the pain that the lack
of it actually felt worse.
Logan held her up, draped a cut-down section of curtain about
her, and helped her fashion it into a makeshift dress. By
the time they were finished with it, she was standing on both
bare feet, unaided.
Her body looked normal. But she felt power pulsing inside
her. More, even, than she had known as Ms. Marvel. Carol didn't
know what she had become, but she was certain both she and
Logan would soon find out.
So she grabbed a Brood weapon from one of the dead Sleazoids
and accompanied Logan on a hunt for the other X-Men. Part
of her was trying to process all the information she'd taken
in over the last few days, of two alien races, one not in
the least human, and all their technology and non-Earthness.
The rest of her, which, thankfully, was dominant, was acting
like a secret agent and a warrior, and knew such things could
be contemplated later.
The two of them hooked up with the others, fought Broodlings,
saved Princess Lil, and escaped in her captured space-yacht.
But there were still eggs within the other X-Men, whose progeny
the Queen of Broodworld wanted to claim. So Brood starships
pursued them, and battle was joined.
While manning the weapons board of Lilandra's ship, Carol
had a spell of altered vision. Her consciousness was impinged
by a blast of color and perceived patterns that made her wonder
if the Brood hadn't dosed her with something on the order
of LSD. But it passed. At least, it passed the first and second
When it hit her the third time, there was no ignoring it.
The energy pulsing within her reached out to the stars, the
sources of cosmic energy, and transformed her into a red-hued
being of force, emitting fiery coronas from her body. She
was filled with power, and instinctively knew how to broadcast
it, and manipulate it.
So she took the gift of a thousand stars and blasted four
Brood ships out of existence with the equivalent of borrowed
stellar plasma. She felt the Broodlings within dying.
Somehow, she wasn't torn up too much about it.
I told you I'd pay you back, she thought.
Then she looked down at herself. She saw the energy visibly
exuding itself from her body, and knew that she had power
beyond anything Ms.Marvel could hope to claim. She also noticed
that she was nude, having burned off the curtain-dress with
Draping herself in any other sort of cloth, while she was
using her power (and another track of her mind was astonished
at her new might, and astonished that she wasn't more awestruck
by its existence), would probably be useless. Carol wondered
if the energy might be able to be manifested in some sort
of visual / tangible form.
So she thought, and it was done. She designed several different
forms of clothing, materialized them on her body, and discarded
them in the space of seconds, until she found one she could
settle on. It was a red-and-white outfit, with two stars on
her left breast, the symbol of her new power.
She had not been wearing it for over a minute when she heard
another voice in the chamber. "Hello? Is anyone there?
Can anyone hear me?"
"Kitty," said Carol, swinging around, bathing the
room in light.
Kitty, in a spacesuit, had looked up at her. "Carol!
Thank heaven. Is that...you?"
Luckily enough, it was. The two of them rounded up the X-Men
and Lilandra and Carol showed off her new power for them,
charging the yacht's depleted energy cells with her own energies.
The others were most impressed. Later, helping Colossus with
hull repairs, she told him what had happened to her.
"My old friend, Captain Marvel, was gifted with cosmic
awareness," she'd said through a communicator. "An
ability to become one with the universe. I think I've gone
beyond that. His was a spiritual merger. Mine is physical.
Somehow, when I use my power, I tap into a white hole. My
energy source is the primal fabric of a universe."
Piotr admitted, "Such abilities would be invaluable
to the X-Men. You are now a mutant, and you have always been
Carol shook her head. She had made her decision some time
before, and she chose to let Colossus know of it first.
She told him of how she had once hitchhiked off to see a
manned rocket launching at the Cape where she later worked
for a year. She had wanted to be an astronaut herself, to
discover new worlds and meet alien cultures. "As Ms.
Marvel, I almost made it," she admitted. But now such
a thing was within her grasp. And she meant to take it.
"Earth was Carol Danvers's home, Colossus. But I fear
it has no place for--Binary."
Nonetheless, she completed the adventure with the X-Men,
setting the soul of one of the Brood's living slave-ships
free and helping them and the Starjammers destroy Broodworld.
The X-Men's Brood eggs were neutralized. Professor Xavier
had such an egg implanted within himself, but even that turned
out for the better; his old body was transformed and destroyed,
while his mind was transferred into a newly-cloned body. The
new Xavier had fully-healed legs, but it would take much therapy
before he could use them normally.
Carol was not there for that incident, or for the X-Men's
battle with the Hellfire Club, Callisto, and the Morlocks
directly afterward. She had the Starjammers drop her off within
flying distance of Boston, leaving the mutant band to deal
with the Brood-Xavier. She needed time to think, time to wind
Time to spend with her parents.
So she left a fire-trail across the sky that had stargazers
rushing to see if they could be the first to pin their name
on a new comet, and made civilians wonder if the Human Torch
wasn't moving into town. She landed near Beverly, the Boston
suburb in which her parents lived, changed into a sweater
and pants (both synthesized for her aboard the Starslammer's
spacecraft), blinked out of her Binary self, and hoofed it
into town as plain old Carol Danvers.
As she treaded up the steps, she wondered how she should
greet Joe and Marie. A big hug? A cry of delight? Some other
She decided to hell with that, and voted to go with her natural
feelings, whatever they were. Thus, she rang the doorbell,
and was glad that the other houses on the block were fairly
Joe opened the door, in T-shirt, brown pants, and socks.
For home, Carol noted, he didn't dress formal.
He gaped at her, then had her in his arms before he even
finished saying, "Carol!"
Carol hugged him tightly and said, "Hello, Dad. It's
good to be home."
She hoped she could fake what love she lacked.
Several minutes later, Carol and Joe and Marie were on the
back patio digging into iced sherbet in bowls and trying to
catch up on what each other had been doing. But, even though
they tried to keep it light and familial, it was proving a
For one thing, Carol couldn't really tell them what had been
going on. She wasn't even sure how much she could tell her
mother, and Mom already knew she had been Ms. Marvel. For
another, she knew that her responses were off by a few notches,
that she wasn't the same woman they had known before, even
with all of Xavier's fine work.
"Carol?" said Marie. "Do you remember Nola
Cameron? You know, the one who used to live down two blocks
from us when you were in grade school?"
"Oh, yeah, Mom. Sure, Nola Cameron. Um, what's she doing?"
"She got married to Tom. Isn't that nice?"
"Sure," said Carol. "Tom. Bet he'll be good
After a pause, Joe had asked her, "Carol. What is Tom's
"I asked you, what is Tom's last name? Do you remember?"
She set the spoon back in her sherbet dish. "Dad. You
know darn well there's a lot of things I don't remember. The
answer is no. I don't remember Tom's last name, or probably
this specific Tom. Is that all right?"
"Oh, dear," said Marie, wiping her hands on her
apron to give her hands something to do.
"You don't even remember Nola, do you?" Joe stared
at her without wavering.
Carol sat back in her metal deck chair. "No. I'm sorry,
"Then why did you lie to me? And your mother?"
"Oh, for chrissakes, Dad."
"Carol!" Mom was indignant. "You may be a
grown woman, but this is still your father."
She put a hand to her forehead and rested her elbow on the
chair's plastic arm cover. After a pause, she said, keeping
her voice steady, "I'm sorry, Dad. And Mom. I was just
trying to make you happy."
"You wanna know how to make me happy, Carol?" Joe
waited for her answer.
Joe leaned forward in his chair. "Tell me about everything
this Xavier guy's been doing to you. And tell me everything
you've been doing. If you haven't been working for the Company,
Mom sat like a Dresden doll, not daring to intervene at the
Carol looked back at them both. "I can't tell you, Dad."
"Can't tell me about what? About Xavier, or about your
"About either," she said. "About, I don't
know, much of anything."
"Then why did you come here?" He spread his hands,
in emphasis. "You look like my little girl, you move
like her, you sound the same, but you're not the same. What
are you involved in, Carol? Dope? Worse? What? Tell me."
"Joe, please," said Marie, touching his arm.
"Marie." He looked at her. She subsided.
Carol shook her head, fighting back tears. "I thought--I
came back, and I thought that you'd be glad to see me."
"We are," said Joe.
"Of course we're glad to see you, Carol," said
Marie, moving to Carol's side. "You know that. No matter
what happens to you, you're my daughter, and I'd love you
even if...well, even if you married somebody from outer space
"Holy jeez," groaned Joe, rolling his eyes.
"Joe, that'll be enough," warned Marie. Then, to
Carol, she said, "We know something bad happened to you
in San Francisco. We want to believe this Mr. Xavier is, well,
helping you. But if we don't know what he's doing to you--"
"He's helping me, Mom!"
"He's helping you. He's helping you," said Joe,
making it sound as though he was cursing. "How the hell
is he helping you? What the hell is he doing to you? Either
you tell me, or I hire a private investigator and find out
myself. And, Carol. You have no idea how much it hurts me--"
"--to have to say something like this to my own flesh
and blood. Am I your father?"
"You know you are, dammit!"
"Carol!" warned Marie.
"Mom," retorted Carol, angrily.
"Then if I am your father, why the hell are you going
behind my back with so much? You've been keeping a large part
of your whole freaking life out there a big secret from me
for over a year now. If I didn't know you better, I'd think
you were really into something bad."
"Like what?" Carol stood over him, hands on hips,
fixing him with a laser stare, and reminded herself to keep
her powers in check. "Like junk? Prostitution? Spying
for the Russians? Selling insurance? Tell me, Dad, I wanna
"And I wanna know!" Joe was on his feet, staring
her down. "You've got a lot of explaining to do, young
"Not so young anymore, Dad--"
"--And you are going to start explaining, if you intend
to stay in this house."
Both swivelled their heads in Marie's direction.
Mom didn't raise her voice very often. But when she did,
even Dad knew to tread lightly till the storm was past.
"Whether you like it or not, Joseph Danvers, this is
Carol, she is your daughter, and she's mine as well. And I
have some say in what goes on under this roof, too. And I
am not going to let you kick my daughter, our daughter, out
in the street. Joe, tell me about the bids on the new Carleton
He looked at her with some irritation. "Marie, those
are sealed bids. I don't talk about them to anybody but my
"Oh? You're keeping secrets from me, Joe? I thought
I knew you better than that, after being married to you for
almost forty years. Well, Joe? Why are you keeping secrets?"
Carol rubbed the fingers of one hand together against her
palm, thought You go, Mom, and prayed that her powers
did not yet include telepathy.
"This is not the same thing, and you know it!"
"Oh, it isn't?" Marie stood facing him, hands on
hips. "Does she have to face you like some--some damned
Great Inquisitor or something, and tell you everything she's
done and everybody she's done it with since the last time
you've seen her?"
"Marie." He sighed, sitting down again, running
his hands through what was left of his hair. "Do you
know how much I care about Carol? Do you know how concerned
I am about what's happening to her?"
Carol sighed, shaking her head. "Dad. A lot of bad things
have happened to me, sure. But none of them because of Professor
Xavier. He's helped me. Given me...I don't know. I guess you'd
call it psychic therapy."
"Psychic whaaat?" asked Marie.
"Psychic therapy?" Joe was drop-jawed. "You
mean that bald-headed guy with the rod up his...uh...that
bald-headed guy is some kinda swami? Or a faith healer? Good
Lord, I knew it. You're in a cult."
"I am not in a cult!"
"You sure as hell act like one!" He unleashed his
anger now. "You don't call home enough, you keep your
actions secret, and, facrissake, you show up at our house
for a sleepover without even a friggin' packed bag! Tell me
the truth, Carol. And if you know, Marie, I want you to tell
me. Are you a Moonie?"
"Are you an agent of this government or any other government?
Or working for the Mob?"
"Then what? What?"
Carol looked at her mother. Her mother begged her with her
eyes to either tell her father the secret, or let her tell
him. But Carol would not allow either to be done.
"Dad, look. This much, I can tell you. My therapy with
Professor Xavier is just about over. It may already be over,
I don't know, I'm going to check with him before I leave.
He has helped me--lots. I've gotten a lot of my memories back,
thanks to him. I've managed to make a lot of emotional connections.
Not as many as I'd like, but a lot more than I would have
without him. It'll just take some time."
She waited, forming her next words, and then continued before
Dad could decide to get a word in edgewise.
"I've had--a really tough time lately. Part of it was
due to those--enemy agents--who hit me in San Francisco. Part
of it was due to something else. But I came through it, Dad.
Just like you would have wanted me to. They tried to hurt
me--but I guess you just raised me tougher than they expected."
Joe and Marie weren't saying a word. Carol sniffed, wiped
her eyes a bit, and continued.
"There's a whole lot I just can't tell you. I want to
have you be in charge of my bank account, and make sure my
royalty checks are deposited while I'm away. Because I'm going
away. Not forever, but...I've got a new job. And believe me,
it doesn't involve drugs, or hooking, or being in a cult,
or spying, or being in the Mob."
"Holy mother of...", Joe started.
"Joe, please," said Marie, cutting him off.
"I can tell you this much. You might be endangered if
I did stay here. One of the agents that did the hit on me
is still in circulation. When I leave--I'm going to see about
getting you protection."
"Oh, my," said Marie.
"Don't worry, Mom, this is just a what-if precaution.
With me gone, I don't think you'll be in any danger. But you
know how it is...just because you're out of the Company doesn't
mean the other side forgives you for what you've done."
For the first time since the conversation started, Joe nodded
"When I leave here, I'll be gone for a while. It might
be a long while. I'll be out of contact...you might even say,
in deep cover. But I'll check back whenever I can. And I'll
write. I promise I'll try to write. I won't be able to tell
you everything. But at least I'll let you know I'm there."
"Wherever there is," muttered Joe. Marie put her
hand on his shoulder, and he held his own hand over it.
"As for why I don't have a bag...call me a ditz."
Carol smiled. "As for what Professor Xavier's been doing
with me...well, let me give you a sample. Are you game, Dad?"
"Me?" He pointed a forefinger at his own chest,
incredulously. "You want to do some psychowhatsis with
"Uh, Carol, are you sure about this?" said Marie,
"Sure I'm sure," said Carol. "You think I'd
do something to hurt my dear old dad, who's probably got to
get up early in the morning and bust the nuts of some crete
and steel guys at the Carleton site? Not me, Mom."
"Carol, where you picked up that language I'll never
know," said Marie. "And I don't want to hear it
from you again while you're staying in this house. Agreed?"
"Agreed, Mom. Sorry."
"She probably picked it up from me, honey," said
Joe. "You're only wrong about one thing. I'll have to
bust their nuts about that a couple of weeks from now, when
the project's underway. Tomorrow I gotta do it about something
altogether different. But. What is this thing that you want
to do? Is it habit-forming?"
"Come inside, lie down on the sofa, and you'll find
So they went inside, with Joe muttering, "This had better
be good," and he lay down on the sofa with his hands
laced over his stomach. Carol lifted his head and sat down,
putting his head on her legs. Marie sat in a straightbacked
chair and watched.
Carol placed her hands on his temples, closed her eyes, and
went to work.
She had no psychic power to speak of, so the bit about giving
him a Xavier treatment was a white lie. But she did command
the powers of light, gravity, heat, and other solar-based
powers. The gravity and magnetic flows were what she manipulated
Carol radiated her sensory powers through her father's body,
and took note of his bloodflow, his magnetic aura, the state
of each component of his body. There was much she could do,
but much which had to be left to Nature.
Joe Danvers, lying closed-eyed in his daughter's lap, was
soon quietly amazed.
His overwrought heartbeat, cranked up by work worries and
fear over his daughter's fate, calmed and was made even, and
an irregularity in it was corrected.
Several tired muscles in his back unknotted, and an area
of his spine which was giving him a twinge of pain was attended
to, and eased.
His breathing calmed, and he appeared to take in the same
amount of oxygen with much fewer, better regulated breaths.
The redness left his face and a slight imperfection in one
of his eyes was corrected.
Joe Danvers couldn't detect all of what his daughter was
doing to him. But he had to admit to himself, If this is
what that crazy bald guru-guy is teaching her, I gotta learn
how to do it myself. And Marie, who was more attuned to
her husband than any other person besides himself, was wide-eyed
at first, sensing her husband's calm, and then grateful for
it. Carol apparently had developed a new super-power. She
hoped it ran in the family.
Finally, Carol opened her eyes. "Session's done, Dad.
How do you feel?"
"Great." He wiggled his toes, still encased in
socks. "Did you Rolf me, or Est me? Did I reach Clear?"
"Nope. Just a little Danvers Diddle. Think it'll sell
on the open market?"
"Honey, if you market this, I wanna be in on the ground
Both Carol and Marie were glad for the chance to laugh.
Joe finally said something else. "Just one more thing,
"Next time you come, don't forget your luggage. Okay?"
"Okay, Dad." She wrinkled her nose in a grin. "I
And a while after that, she slept in her old bed for the
first time in a very, very long time.
Continued in Chapter
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