MS. MARVEL #40
THE  APOTHEOSIS
PART TWO: Carol in Wonderland 
CAST:

MS. MARVEL (Carol Danvers):
Former NASA security chief and magazine editor, Carol Danvers gained the powers of a Kree warrior after being subjected to the effects of an alien machine. As Ms. Marvel, she fought alongside her fellow AVENGERS for a time, before her powers and memories were temporarily stolen by the X-Man Rogue. Her powers were somewhat restored; she represented the height of merged Human and Kree genetic potential. 

1. A Flash in the Darkness

    Though familiar with the sensation of free fall, Carol Danvers had yet to experience it in quite the way it was occurring at the present. Slowly she tumbled head-over-heel down an earthy tunnel, feeling as though she were falling over the moon. The sides of that tunnel had objects embedded in it amongst the rocks and tangled roots, things that looked like: books, pamphlets, dishes with half eaten food, stuffed animals resembling various football team mascots and super heroes, toy pistols, shelves with papers and office equipment on them, half-empty/half-full liquor bottles, lingerie and ribbons, broken televisions that flashed pictures of strange animals and assorted other refuse from the late 20th century. She shuddered at the nonsense of the articles embedded in the walls and at their familiarity too. The view of both above and below her disappeared into darkness yet at a radius of about 20 feet, the diameter of the tunnel, around her was a soft light that seemed to emanate from nowhere in particular. There was the sound of a rushing wind all about although the air was still; in some strange distance whether above, below, or behind the walls of the tunnel were gibbering voices that carried the sinister impression of familiarity, that of people she knew although she couldn't make out the words. It was like a waking nightmare; after she had pinched herself, Carol was still convinced this was anything but a bizarre fever dream.

    "Curioser and curioser", muttered Carol, partly to comfort herself as she fell down the tunnel in this bizarre and somewhat insane situation. Until recently, Carol had possessed vast superhuman powers of the kind that made her fearless when confronted with the unknown, but now those powers were gone and so was part of her mettle. She silently cursed the foolhardiness that made her leap into a mirror in pursuit of an enigmatic mist shrouded thief- an absurdity that she chose not to dwell upon at the moment. Once again Carol Danvers found herself possibly far from Earth in an incredibly bizarre situation. This time was different though, because the formerly superhumanly powerful Carol Danvers was merely human and this condition made her a bit afraid... but not enough to fail to go into action!

    "O.K. Danvers pull yourself together! You're used to this kind of crap!" she thought as she attempted those somewhat reversed analogue of swimming moves that she'd learned when she had possessed the ability to fly under her own power. Never-the-less, for all the maneuvering of her athletic form, all the attempts to reach the tunnel walls, all her skill, she could not escape the middle area of the tunnel.

    "Some kind of force field", she thought with the determined precision of an intelligence agent, "Possibly gravitational in nature. I guess I'd better wait this out," Adding with mirth, "Damn! Wish I could reach one of those bottles of hooch."

    After this blithe yet tragic comment, Carol turned her thinking around as per her martial background. She cleared her mind as she positioned her body in half crouch position simultaneously relaxing her muscles for readiness of impact. Facing the direction in which she fell, Carol was ready to land from the fall, and if she survived; if an enemy awaited below she would be ready to fight!

    While waiting to do so, and as the hours dragged on, Carol found herself slowly lulled to sleep by the effects of her weightlessness and the immensely bizarre and dream-like quality of her current predicament.

    When she awoke Carol found herself face down on a soft dirt surface, powdery and gray brown; the scent of loosely packed garden soil assailing her nostrils. Spitting dirt, she groggily started to push herself upwards suddenly bolting upright into a standing position with the realization of her situation. All around for miles stretched an endless plain of the loose brown dirt she had awoken in; overhead was a jet black sky, starless and bible black. Though the landscape was enormous, the place made Carol feel extremely claustrophobic; an imposing and nightmarish tension was in the air. Also there was some light source because she could see but it was diffuse with apparently no particular source. Despite the wind that whipped about chaotically, the temperature was warm, a relief to Carol because in her admittedly irrational impulse to follow the strange thief who had stolen her gem, she had jumped through her mirror (or inter dimensional portal at the time) barefoot and dressed in only in her nightshirt.

    "Good thing there's no rocks here or I'd need a podiatrist...", she thought to humor herself. Then grimly, "If I ever get back home."

    She felt like shouting but knew that she might not want to attract anything that might be living in this barren, forsaken place, if anything did live there. The vastness stretch on monotonously for what seemed like an eternity all around her; there was no way to tell where she should go. Still feeling like she wanted to scream, Carol closed her eyes and... it happened! She had a flash, like a burst of light, in the direction of her immediate left. She didn't know what it pertained to and it was gone before she ascertained it's nature within her mind but she knew that sensation, that phenomenon: it was a "Seventh Sense" flash, something she hadn't had in years.

    Her Seventh Sense was a sort of after-effect of the Psyche-Magnitron explosion that she and the alien Kree warrior Mar-Vell had been caught in years previous. The strange machine had flooded Mar-Vell with energy from another dimension and, for reasons still unknown, that energy leached over into the form of the woman he was attempting to protect: Carol Danvers. Various analogues of Mar-Vell's superhuman abilities were transferred to her at that point, as well as strange Kree ancestral memories. Mixed into this cell scrambling stew was Carol's human potential for mutagenetic change and thus were gained the powers she had formerly possessed. Many tests had been performed upon her after that by such genetic and biological experts as Dr. Hank McCoy, Prof. Charles Xavier and Dr. Henry Pym but nothing had been conclusively proven. Recently, and just as inexplicably, her various powers had disappeared and she had returned to being a normal, non superhuman woman.

    "Something's leading me on here," Carol whispered to herself, "If I remember correctly that flash means danger, but it's better than nothing, damnit. Here I go."

    Thus Carol Danvers started trudging across that gray and lifeless plain towards what she knew to be imminent danger.
 

2. Wonderland

    About an hour- or so it seemed- into her trek across the dust, Carol started to see changes in the landscape, small grasses appeared in the dust and the light in the direction she was heading in was growing brighter, turning yellowish. Then came small shrubs, small trees and soon, thirty or so minutes later, she was walking through an idyllic forest with soft green grass underneath foot and a warm yellow tinted sky overhead. The place smelled of fresh rain and there was a cool breeze blowing through what looked like poplars. Carol also noticed the ever-increasing sound of insects and birds: the nightmarish quality of the dusty plain was being replaced with the dreamy sensation of having just woken up.

    She saw an apple tree nearby and suddenly remembered that she hadn't eaten in a very long time. Though slightly hesitant as to the nature of the food, her great hunger made her choose to take the risk so she plucked a small green apple from a low-lying branch. It tasted good, like any normal apple, so after two more pieces of the fruit, she resumed her progress through the forest leaving the apple rinds near a small patch of dandelions that broke the monotony of the green, green grass. A hallucinatory quality was descending upon her mind with these sights; she thought that it could definitely be a dream or, she thought with bitter humor, maybe she had succumbed to an alcohol overdose and was comatose in some Seattle hospital.

    Soon the ground began to rise a bit and became a bit more uneven as the trees began to vary in type and appearance. A little later as the ground evened itself out, she came to a small glade, a break in the woods, and saw several deer milling about a stream that ran through it. Slowly she crept up to the rivulet and bending down to it took a much needed drink, all the while not disturbing the deer. Into her third gulp of water, the nearby animals started and burst out of the clearing into the woods. Still crouching Carol waited to see what it was breaking into the clearing that had startled the deer.

    What she saw was a man-like creature wearing what looked like a vest with odd mechanical objects on the front stumbling into the clearing and muttering to itself in a language she could not understand. It was covered in what looked like soft, white fur and moved with a loping gait; in it's hand it held a watch like device- the creature appeared to be part human, partake and part rodent or rabbit. It passed the glade near the stream without venturing over it. He- the creature was vaguely male- glanced at Carol and kept going, apparently not noticing Carol, who was somewhat hidden in the tall grasses near the stream.

    After the white man-rodent disappeared into the woods, Carol sighed and, bounding over the small stream, began pursuing the strange creature. It was faster than she thought it would be so Carol could only keep up for what was probably half a mile before she started to tire a bit. Normally the athletically inclined Carol Danvers wouldn't have succumbed so quickly to fatigue but both her ordeal in this strange place and, Carol admitted to herself, her alcohol habit was wearing on her body at that point. Right when Carol thought she had lost the man-sized rodent creature, it's figure, as seen through the distant poplars, stopped and it disappeared into a thick area of woods. When Carol had gotten to that particular spot she saw that what seemed like intense undergrowth was really a large hedge-row with a small, gate like opening in the side. Pausing for a breath, Carol peered into the portal and saw that the hedge was rather thick and it's surface was covered in garlands of strange yellow, dark blue and red lotus like flowers. Looking though the portal she saw that the hedge was some 10 feet thick; through the other opening she saw figures milling about in the distance and more of the strange kind of gibberish that the white rodent spoke. Slowly she crept through the short hallway in the hedge and peered out the opening on the other side; what she saw was startling.

    Standing, moving around and cavorting about a large open field was the strangest assemblage of creatures that she had ever seen, some familiar and some not so familiar. What she saw was a smattering of the many strange alien and extra dimensional beings that she had encountered during her life as a superhumanly powered adventurer and some that she had never seen: a bizarre and disturbing sight. Few humans had ever seen or even believed these alien beings existed and here many of them were as she remembered from both personal encounter and top secret files she had read: green skinned reptilian Skrulls from the Andromeda Galaxy, amoeba-like Formhaulauti, dour blue skinned Kree of which she shared ancestral memories, the featherbedded humanoid Shi'ar, hulking yellow humanoid Aakon, a few beings that looked for all intents and purposes human, etc. The rest of the creatures she could not recognize, nor could she gain much from the strange squeaking language they all seemed to speak. What was going on looked like some sort of ceremony, albeit a chaotic one, with many of the beings wearing cardboard-like suits with strange markings much like playing cards, carrying lances made of green wood and standing in formation. The smaller creatures such as the snail-like Ciegrimites, and the smaller Skrull sub-species cavorted about in vaguely jester like garb juggling pieces of fruit while other guadily-dressed members of the motley alien assemblage danced about and partook of various dubious social activities. Acrobats and fire-eaters were there too and folk spinning both plates and large pieces of fruit on the end of poles! A cacophony was heard everywhere by her now, for musicians playing bizarre instruments that were both primitive and electrical wandered the grounds. It was all kind of like the hallucinatory version of a carnival she once went to as a child; the thought of this made her shut her eyes for a while, only to open them again to see that it was all real or at least real to her.

    Set at the end of the giant field opposite from her, Carol saw a large pavilion overlooking the Heironymous Boschian madness she was now witness to. It was some 10 feet off the ground, 20 feet high and some 50 feet wide with amphitheater seating. At the front of the pavilion sat a small group of the mixed alien creatures, all wearing gaudy clothing and baubles: a giant creature a "Toad" as known in the nearly unfathomable lore of the galaxy, a female Badoon who wore a crown of some sort, several indeterminate insect creatures, and the funny white rodent man!

    "Here you go again," Carol Danvers thought to herself, "Curiouser and curiouser, indeed!"
 

3. Bizarre Behavior

    Though very bewildered, Carol none-the-less quickly figured that she might actually blend into the crowd with all it's motley qualities. She hadn't bathed other than throwing water upon herself at the stream for what must have been close to a day and her night-shirt was torn in places; this would have helped her in disguise. Though beautiful, she rarely thought of herself in such a manner yet she knew that she was capable of attracting attention of an amormous nature. Although she saw only one being who looked human in the crowd, a toothless old man who was drinking from a bottle near the pavilion, she wanted to blend in as well as possible inorder to find out what kind of place this seemingly insane land was.

    "At least this thing isn't too skimpy," Carol thought with a laugh, "I wouldn't want anybody to think I was a 'harlot', especially this bunch, though if I bare a shoulder maybe that old guy will give a drink!"

    Out of nowhere the strange feeling of another seventh sense flash came over her, something was watching her; that's all she felt. The intense wave of insight was gone in an instant leaving her somewhat shaken. In order to regroup, she faded back into the tunnel. The danger's present were obvious so the bizarre sense flashes couldn't have been related to the immediate environment. The seventh sense flashes often dealt with what was to be or phenomenon not immediately perceivable like energy signatures and distance objects. Before she could press onwards, another more immediate sensing came to her. "It's happening more frequently. Why?" she thought, turning around, "I haven't been able to do this in years!"

    What she saw, some 10 yards away, was a strange couple of what could only be called large white colored spiders, with additional red and blue markings, and they saw her at the same instant as she saw them! Rather than menacing the 5 foot tall creatures were somewhat comical and ungainly letting out a sharp trill in unison when they saw her and stopped dead. Then they haltingly came forward towards her.

    "O.K. What is it you guys want?" Carol yelled out, standing her ground not only for any possible trouble but because she was now surrounded.

    About 10 feet away from her, the strange creatures stopped and threw themselves on the ground and starting the shrilling again. It was obvious that they had prostrated themselves in a worshipful position. Perhaps they considered her some sort of deity and were praying, despite the alien appearance of the spider creatures this seemed the case. Carol backed into the corner of the hedge when she saw a few other aliens: a blue-finned Alpha Centaurian, a shell-backed Procyonite, a humanoid blue Kree with protective helmet, the elderly human-who also spouted gibberish, and others of an indescribable nature, come forward out of the tunnel immediately throwing themselves on the ground and chanting in that strange language the "white rabbit" had been using. Soon, a small crowd was gathering at the entrance to the carnival field when, suddenly, it parted and the reptilian Badoon "queen" came forward flanked by two spear wielding Autochron who darted forward with incredible speed seizing the tired and bewildered Carol Danvers by each arm very roughly. She had read about Autochrons in the Avengers files years earlier: they were an iron-based alien race unlike Earth-life which was carbon-based; they were creatures of immense strength. Having once possessed immense physical strength herself, Carol decided to fight anyway and after a few futile kicks at the steel-hard bodies of the Autochron "soldiers", she received a sharp knock-out blow to the head for her troubles.
 

4. A Reunion of Sorts

    The back of her head aching, Carol awoke in a dark, dark place, dank and musty with a pool of foul water near her head.

    She just sat there for a while trying to get her eyes adjusted to the the lack of light. She was hungry again and, worse, she craved alcohol with a passion. Her sense of detatchment was now greater than ever; she knew there was a profound sadness deep within her. She wanted to cry more intensely than she had ever done so in her whole life, but that old feeling of being apart from her surroundings and far away from her true feelings was back. Carol Danvers did the only thing that seemed to help in that black, dungeon-like chamber on a world that was possibly light-years away from her home, Earth. She screamed like a banshee and cursed her captors to the point that it would have made a U.S. Marine blush!

    As if to answer her enraged outburst, the one light spot at the far end of the room that her eyes had adjusted to erupted in red-hot rays and into the dank chamber lurched two hulking figures: obviously the Autochron servitors.

    Once again she was rudely hoisted up, and this time she had neither the strength nor the will to resist. It felt like she was at the end of the linefor her. Furthermore, she was experiencing an overpowering deja vu' that frightened her more than the brutish jailers who bore her could ever scare her.

    Her eyes made out only the swift sensation of the brutal journey through torch-lit alien tunnels of dark earth and strange crystalian overtones until the Autochrons brought her to a large cavern, brighter than the halls due to the incredible amount of fiery torches within. She was thrown to the gravelly ground at the end of the chamber wherein she saw before her a 20-foot or so diameter pit, raised with earthen lips to about 5 feet up from the ground, that glowed a strange- and yes- unearthly bluish color. Standing before it was the Badoon "queen" who wore a crimson robe, the "Toad" and the white rodent-man and they proceeded to spout more of the animated gibberish to each other as the Autochrons rudely threw Carol at their feet.

    Looking up from her crouching position at the unlikely group with a fierce gaze through stringy, filthy Medusa-like hair, that made even the Autochrons back away, Carol once again found the strength to curse her captors. She howled, "Damnit! Will you freaks even try to speak English! What the hell is going here? What do you want from me?"

    As the Toad and the Autochrons tensed-up while the now angry, reptillian Badoon woman began her repudiation of Carol's outburst, a loud and commanding voice interupted, bellowed up from the bluish, glowing crater. All head turned as a figure slowly rose, as if levitating, out of that pit. It was the star-speckled, glowing thief that had stolen Carol's gem worlds away back in Seattle!

    "Stop Red Queen! Your jealousy is now plain for all to see. You know she is the One yet you deny it to the point of torturing her," came the powerful male voice in halting English. "Carol is to be treated with great respect. Please get up, Ms. Danvers, I apologize for the treatment so far; I assure you it will end now." Carol knew that voice but could not quite place it.

    As the rabbit-man, the toad-alien, the "Red Queen" and the two Autochrons back up and away from the crater with noticeable fear and awe, the glow that surrounded the man-like figure began dissipating like silvery sparkling smoke, revealing the last person Carol Danvers ever expected to see again. It was man powerfully built, wearing a body-suit of dark blue and red, a shock of blonde hair burst from atop his masked head and the eyes set in his stern lantern-jawed face seemed to look right through her. On his chest was the eight-pointed star of legend.

    "Captain Marvel," was all that she could choke forth, "Mar-Vell..."
 

NEXT ISSUE:
 ZERO HOUR!

READ: MS. MARVEL #39 - COMING SOON: MS. MARVEL #41!


     

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