Suddenly, Minerva’s laughter caught in her throat when her Seventh Sense alerted her to the approach of another cosmic presence.
A giant portal, powered by pure quantum energy, appeared in the sky, and through it, a man made his dramatic entrance. This man was slim of body and flaxen of hair, costumed in red, blue, and silver, with blue eyes which shone with both a childlike earnestness and a steely sense of purpose.
Minerva didn’t hesitate to fire her deadly cosmic beams at the intruder, who quickly constructed a shield of quantum energy off which the cosmic beams bounced off harmlessly. Minerva’s surprise gave the intruder a chance to fire quantum beams from his fingertips, which stunned Minerva and sent her into a tailspin.
The intruder descended until he was hovering in front of the Avengers vs. Kree fray below, in which the Avengers were floundering without a leader. "AVENGERS," he yelled, "DUCK!"
The Avengers did just that, as the intruder instantly created a quantum construct in the form of a giant boxing glove attached to a spring. It may have looked whimsical, but its force was not in doubt when it knocked down most of the Kree. The intruder then surrounded himself with a quantum suit of armor and jumped into the pile of Kree warriors. The Avengers were inspired to rally, and soon the tide was once again turning to the Avengers’ side.
A humiliated and exhausted Minerva picked herself up off the ground. Clearly, she realized, even her cosmic powers came in a limited capacity and needed to build up again. She made eye contact with the beleaguered Captain Atlas, and saw that they both knew what must be done. Even the proud Kree had to sometimes retreat from battle. But Minerva silently swore there would be a reckoning – between the Kree and the Avengers, and between her and the intruder.
Using every last bit of her remaining strength, Minerva projected an impenetrable force field around the Kree and their ship, allowing them to board, lift off, and escape into hyperspace.
Shortly, Thor appeared, looking much the worse for wear, and saying nothing, the blow to his pride written on his face.
The intruder floated down to the ground and faced the Avengers.
"Our thanks, stranger." said Namor, "And who might you be?"
"You can call me Quasar." he replied in a voice that was softer and higher than may have been expected. "My cosmic awareness alerted me to the incident which transpired here..." With those words, he turned his gaze to the smoldering remains of the cosmic entity and the prostrate body of Captain Marvel, which the Black Knight was already in the process of examining.
"I recognize you from the computer files." said She-Hulk, "You worked with Captain America and the Thing and others, then you disappeared. Your costume’s different and your hair’s a lot longer, but I still recognize you. Where have you been?"
"You’d never believe it." Quasar responded flatly.
The Black Knight looked up and announced, "She’s alive. But we have to get her back to Hydrobase immediately."
"If you give me the coordinates," said Quasar, "I can quantum-jump your quinjet and have you there in a split second."
"Thou art truly noble." said Thor. "The sooner we return to Hydrobase, not only will the good Captain’s survival be assured, but we shall make plans to take the battle to the accursed Kree."
"And maybe," interjected She-Hulk, "Quasar’s cosmic awareness thing might be able to help us figure out just what the hell is going on."
Mere minutes later, the Quinjets and Thor flew through Quasar’s quantum portal.
"I am NOT some fragile butterfly that will disintegrate if exposed to air!" yelled Marrina.
"You know very well that is not the issue!" barked Namor. " Until you learn to control your other side..."
"And how," Marrina interrupted, "am I supposed to learn to control my monstrous side if I am isolated all day, every day?? Do you truly believe that me sitting around alternating between worrying about you and being bored is going to help me???"
"I know what is best for you!" replied Namor, grasping for straws.
"You do not!! You are no better than my previous captor, the Master! You...arrrrrr..."
Marrina’s teeth began to sharpen, and her claws to elongate. She seemed as though she would lunge at her husband when, abruptly, she began to flail hysterically while screaming, "NO! NO!"
A split second later, she was back to normal, with tears streaming down her large eyes. "I am sorry, my love. So sorry..."
They embraced tightly, and held each other for what seemed like an eternity, until the moment was disrupted by Hydrobase’s public address system.
"All Avengers report to the control center."
"We shall discuss this further in the near future." whispered Namor. The couple then ran to join their teammates.
"Captain’s Marvel’s vital signs are stable," said the Black Knight, "but there’s nothing that indicates the possibility of her regaining consciousness anytime soon."
His grim words hung in the air like a foul odor. The Avengers and their guest, Quasar, stared blankly at each other."
The Black Knight broke the silence. "Before we proceed any further, we’ll need a deputy leader. Since Thor is our senior member with centuries more field experience than any of us, I nominate him. Any objections?"
The others answered with their silence.
"Our first order of business," declared Thor, "is, to paraphrase something She-Hulk said earlier, find out exactly what Kree treachery we are up against. Quasar, if thou would use thy cosmic awareness now..."
Quasar pressed his fingertips to his temple and went into a trance. Within a couple minutes, he began to speak.
"I see Captain Marvel’s predecessor, Mar-Vell of the Kree, in his prime, nobly siding with the humans he was originally meant to infiltrate, becoming protector of the universe, bashing Thanos the annihilator, then...rejecting a Kree woman, Dr. Minerva; she vows revenge and, with the Supreme Intelligence’s approval, begins a project to genetically engineer a living weapon that can out-power Mar-Vell.
"The Kree steal a portion of the power cosmic and fuse it with a test tube baby, who is then artificially aged to adulthood. Minerva attempts to break its free will through all sorts of horrible torture devices, but it resists, and the project goes way over schedule and over budget. Then word gets out that Mar-Vell has been diagnosed with the universal disease that we call cancer, and the Supreme Intelligence pull the plug on the project; the living weapon is turned into pure energy and cast out into the Darkforce Dimension. Minerva’s reputation is ruined, and she exiles herself to the Kree outland.
"Meanwhile, on Earth, a machine that can extract inter-dimensional energy is accidentally activated while Monica Rambeau is standing in front of it. She and the living weapon merge, but the living weapon has been so deeply traumatized by Minerva’s abuse that it takes months to begin to assert its presence within Monica, who has become the new Captain Marvel.
"Minerva has joined a Kree outlaw militia led by Captain Atlas. As much as Mar-Vell was hated by his people, his gaining cosmic powers awakened interest in reviving ancient Kree mysticisms which the Supreme Intelligence has tried to erase from existence. These renegades worship Garero, the Kree god of war, and want to invoke him into inhabiting this plane of existence.
"The first step of their plan was to come to Earth and reclaim and repair the Psyche-Magnetron, a Kree machine that gives people super-powers. The Avengers and me try to stop them, but Minerva, who has been empowered by the Psyche-Magnetron, separates Captain Marvel from the living weapon and destroys the living weapon, and the Kree get away.
"Now I see..."
And here Quasar’s voice began to hesitate and then tremble.
"...I see...Captain Atlas and four other renegades gaining super-powers from the Psyche-Magnetron. Now they plan to invade the Kree throneworld...overthrow the Supreme Intelligence...invoke Garero...and...and...conquer the universe!"
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART FIVE