In Captain Marvel's thoughts:
“We are made of star stuff” Carol Danvers remembers that quote and reminds herself that Carl Sagan dropped that Big Bang truth bomb on “Cosmos”, her old favorite show. But when she finally got to NASA, she figured out that they know squat about star stuff – or even their own galaxy. And as for the Magellanic Cloud, home to the planet Hala, the Kree civilization, and her powers – even less than squat. 'Who am I? Who are they? Who knows? Half my identity is built on questions I'll never be able to answer... but no matter what, I carry that mystery – and that star stuff – inside me wherever I go' Carol thinks to herself.
She recalls that when Hala was destroyed, she accepted that parts of her would stay lost forever, and even Stark with all his fancy research labs could only tell her what she already knew – for example, she knows that when she was exposed to the Kree Psyche-Magnetron, her human DNA fused with Kree genetic matter. She knows that gravity cannot ground her, that physics cannot bind her – that there is no attack she cannot deflect, no energy she cannot hold. That she is undefeatable – the last dream of a lost planet – her own force of nature – that she is power itself. 'That I am... I am...' her train of thought suddenly trails off.
Somewhere in the Antarctic Permafrost. 'Where... am I? Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel wonders as she floats in freezing water beneath deadly ice. She is cold, and cannot move. She wonders if a mountain fell on her, and tells herself to think, recalling the ice mountain, when she was looking for Stark's lab. Carol wonders if she caused an avalanche – are her powers that out of whack? She supposes this is more karmic payback for a tough year – one last wake-up call from the universe?
Carol tells herself that she is already buried under more enemies than friends, an underfunded space station, a crap TV show and a Chitauri threat – so why wouldn't the universe drop an iceberg on her? Energy crackles around Carol's fingers as she asks herself 'Then again... since when did an iceberg stop you? So yeah...”screw... you... universe”!' Carol exclaims as an energy-glowing hand pushes up through the ice. She opens her eyes, which burn with power, and she bursts forth from her icy prison, where a voice calls out 'When you say “universe,” could you maybe be a titch more specific?'
'Huh?' Carol asks as she lands on some nearby firm ice. The voice calls out again, 'See, you say “screw you” and I hear “screw who?” There's what, a hundred billion galaxies in the universe? With, let's say, a hundred billion planets each?' the voice tells Carol. 'WHAT?' Carol calls out, annoyed. 'We're talking 1x10^22 planets in the observably screw-you-able universe. More or less' the voice points out.
Carol turns and sees someone in a Stark Industries jacket standing behind her, remarking 'So I gotta ask, who are you really screw-you-ing here, Air Force?' as Carol goes wide-eyed and asks if she is halllucinating. 'You're sure?' the voice asks her. 'You're... here?' Carol replies. 'Heya, Spaceface!' Tony Stark waves at Carol as he pulls back the hood of his jacket. 'NO!' Carol declares. 'Yehhhp' Tony replies. 'Nonono-' Carol utters, but Tony tells her 'Hundred percent'. 'Is that – are you... Tony?' Carol calls out, as Tony replies 'In the flesh. Except for, you know, the flesh'.
Carol flies over and embraces Tony, who has a strange shade of blue and is hovering over an icy chasm. 'I can't even... this is... you're amazing!' Carol exclaims. 'Obviously' Tony replies. 'But... how?' Carol asks, pulling away from him. Tony explains that when she snow-crashed his arctic lab perimeter, she triggered his network emergency protocols, his custom-designed, personally programmed, robustly featured – some would even say artisinally crafted – Tony Stark A.I.
'Your what?' Carol asks. 'You're welcome' Tony tells her. Carol asks him if he remembers when they were here last. 'The lab's just beneath us... er, me... right?' Carol asks. Tony A.I. informs her that the Stark Permafrost Retrovirology Station (SPRS) is fifty meters down, at least, it was before she avalanched it. Carol asks if there are staff, to which Tony tells her that it is mostly automated. 'Great' Carol replies, before asking him to call up the ice elevator like he – or rather, Tony, did last time. The Tony A.I. tells Carol that he would, but that there is one little hiccup. 'Hiccup?' Carol asks. 'IRL – me seems to have revoked your all-access pass' the A.I. explains.
Suddenly, Carol is knocked backwards as the ice around her starts to rise. 'What the -' Carol begins, while the Tony A.I. declares that this is awkward, as there is no override for their perimeter defense system, which is going to seal off the place in three... two... one.
Carol looks up as a large ice monster looms over her, growling. 'That thing is your perimeter defense system?' Carol asks the A.I., adding if he thought “awkward” was the best way to describe it. 'Awkwardly large and lethal?' the A.I. suggests. 'You're getting warmer' Carol tells him, while the A.I. informs her that she is about to get colder, he thinks.
Carol flies towards the large monster, telling it that she hates brain-freeze and starts to blast it. 'See the blue sparks?' Tony A.I. asks, as some small blue sparks can be seen in the ice monster as Carol continues to blast it. 'I don't know... where all this energy is coming from' Tony A.I. tells Carol as the ice monster smacks her to the ground. 'Oh, come on!' Carol exclaims, while the ice monster reforms itself, and opening its mouth, blasts an ice-beam towards her. 'That’s... cheating! You... suck...!' Carol exclaims as she throws a force field around herself. 'Technically, I believe he blows' the Tony A.I. replies.
'You do not wanna get in a snowball fight with me, buster. Nobody survives my back bay booger ball...besides, I heard we're looking at an early spring thaw... super early...!' Carol calls out as she intensifies her force field into a powerful surge of energy, 'Now don't go soft on me, snow cone...' Carol calls out as she blasts the ice monster apart, creating a large crater in the ice where it rose from. Carol looks down at the crater and asks Tony if he couldn't have just put up a little barbed wire like everyone else. 'Believe it or not, our friend Frosty there usually presents as a fast-rising yet fangless five-meter sheet of vertical ice. I'd run a diagnostic but you... uh, grilled him' Tony A.I. replies. Carol sighs and tells him that she is sorry, explaining that is why she is here – she is in major malfunction mode herself.
There is a rumbling noise, and some sort of aquatic tank with Stark Industries printed on the side rises from the ice, and a voice calls out 'Epic snowball fight...' and a bearded man emerges from it, announcing that he has never seen their system do that. 'What with the whole... grrr... thing' he smiles.
Carol looks over to him and tells him that they have met before – last time she was here with Tony. 'This is Harper' Tony A.I. tells Carol. 'It's Hopper' the man in the tank corrects Tony, adding that Tai is just messing around. The Tony A.I. hovers over the tank as Carol starts to climb into it and declares 'The name isn't Tai, Harper' but Carol gets it, Tony A.I. - Tai for short, and declares that she loves it. 'You don't get to rename my files... for short' Tony A.I. snaps. The tank sinks beneath the water's surface, and Hopper announces that he is initiating the dive. 'You might want to hold on...' he suggests, but Tony A.I. declares that he will be fine. '...Captain' Hopper concludes his sentence.
Soon, they have arrived at the lab, and the tank sits outside as Captain Marvel, Hopper and Tony A.I. sit in some sort of kitchen, as Hopper tells Captain Marvel that he remembers her, and that she blew him away with her Kree DNA. 'Really? That's the line you're going with?' Carol replies. Tony A.I. tells her that they don't get a lot of visitors, and Hopper asks her what she expected, as he is a paleo-virologist. 'That's why I'm here' Carol informs him, asking him how his alien virology is, as she has a few questions. Hopper assures Carol that he will try, and reveals that they study the fossils of ancient viruses, which include most ancient alien civilizations. 'Look...' he begins as a red holo-panel appears, displaying a strange sample. Carol asks what it is, and Tony A.I. informs her that it is an HLA marker – a genetic anomaly. Hopper explains that it is now appearing in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial populations where they have never seen them before, that it looks like some kind of evolutionary change is about to go down – with a whole new biological rule set.
'New rules?' Carol asks, pointing out that is what she is feeling – her powers aren't behaving the way they always have. She asks why it is happening now, and why the sudden appearance of these HLA things. Hopper guesses that there is a massive energy disruption, something strong enough to have a ripple effect across the universe and act as a change agent on a certain subset of DNA it encounters. 'Think of it as a genetic remote control' Tony A.I. suggests. Carol asks of an invading alien race could do that – the Chitauri, for example, but Hopper tells her that they are talking about pure energy – an electric tsunami, like another big bang. Carol asks them what could release that much energy, except an extinction-level event. 'An exploding planet. A dying star. A booger-balled snowman...' Tony A.I. jokes, while Carol asks if Hala, the Kree homeworld could have set this off when it blew. Hopper confirms that it is possible, and reveals that they have recovered HLA samples in most of the United Nations alien refugee camps, even among the Kree.
Carol asks Hopper and Tony A.I. if they think these HLA markers could have anything to do with why Hala children are being stolen from those camps. 'Hala children? HLA children? You think the Kree kids have the markers?' Tony A.I. asks Carol, who tells him that she thinks at least someone believes that they do. 'Or that we do...' she adds, to which Hopper asks Captain Marvel if she thinks she has an HLA marker. Carol replies that she isn't sure, but that something is wrong – and either way, she wants to know what Hala has to do with all her star stuff. Hopper leans forward on the table and rests his head in his hands, as he tells Captain Marvel to “hold up” and asks if she just dropped Carl Sagan on him. 'Are you, like, the perfect woman?' he asks. 'Don't flirt with me, son. I'm old enough to be your -' Carol begins. 'Girlfriend' Hopper smiles, while Tony A.I. looks at him and snorts. Carol tells Hopper that if he was blown away by her Kree DNA, then there is more where that came from. 'You ever make house calls... I mean, shuttle calls?' Carol asks. 'I do now' Hopper smiles.
An hour later, back on the surface, an Alpha Flight Space Station shuttle descends, while Carol, Tony A.I. and Hopper look up at it.
'Lay her down nice and gentle-like, Squatchy...' Carol calls out. And once landed, Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck and Dr Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch carry some supplies from the research lab into the shuttle. 'What's virus boy got in here? Rocks?' Puck asks. 'Nerd stuff is...heavy' Sasquatch adds. Hopper is lifting some boxes too, while Carol talks with Tony A.I. away from the others, and Lt. Wendy Kawasaki stands with Bean, swooning, she looks at Hopper and tells Bean 'That's a rugged if reclusive researcher with a fanfic-worthy, beautiful... mind. And, snow' Wendy tells her. 'Snoo-oow?' Bean asks.
Carol looks away from the Tony A.I. as she starts to talk to him. He tells her not to worry, and informs her that this emergency protocol will disengage when she leaves the perimeter. 'I wanted to tell you...' Carol begins. 'You realize I'm just his A.I., right?' the projection tells her. 'Seriously? Can you let me do this?' Carol asks. 'Do I have a choice?' the A.I. responds. Carol asks the A.I. to do her a favor and give other other guy a message. 'Can you remember to do that?' she asks, The A.I. boasts that his memory is 16 terabytes of perfect. So, Carol asks the A.I. to tll him thanks, and tell him she knew he would come through, even though, even though she knows that the A.I. isn't him. 'Tell him nobody is' she adds. The A.I. replies that he will shoot him an email. Shortly, the shuttle rises and the A.I. calls out 'Emergency protocol disconnecting in three... two... one... goodbye, Danvers. See ya, Spaceface'.
It's early evening at the old Danvers home in Boston's Back Bay. Carol and Hopper sit in the yard, going through some boxes and books, while Wendy and Bean sit on the stairs of the shuttle. 'Bos... ton? Boston... Bean' the young Kree alien remarks. 'Smart Bean, aren't you?' Wendy replies. Bean asks if she can go out, but Wendy tells her she can't, and that she has to keep her close, as the Captain is worried that shape-shifter is still tracking her. Hopper informs Carol that, ideally, he would like a DNA sample from before she was Captain Marvel, as well as one from after, and then they will compare both to a sample from Bean from today. A shed door is open, and Carol remarks 'Look at this shed... brought to you by the Danvers hoarder gene... I mean, come on... the Chicopee cousins have been in Gran Danvers' house for years now...' to which Hopper asks 'Wait, your cousins are chickpeas?' Carol ignores the comment and asks Hopper if he thinks there is enough DNA in the dried spit on her old report card envelopes. Hopper asks her if she has any baby teeth, and reveals that he kept his molars in a piggy bank like a credit line with the tooth fairy. Carol informs Hopper that her pops was not the sentimental type. Carol then finds something – she made a pact to stay up all night until they saw Santa, her blood brothers and her. 'Will that work?' she asks. Hopper suggests they find somewhere to secure the shuttle and take a look.
Shortly, on the roof of the Ivy House Boston Hotel, the shuttle has landed, and Puck and Sasquatch are on the rooftop, seemingly dancing along to music. “Keep an eye on her, Puck” Judd quotes Captain Marvel. 'Why? Who would want the little Squatch climber... who has that kind of time?' Judd asks, as Bean sits on Sasquatch's shoulders, 'Hammertime!' she exclaims, while Sasquatch sings “I'm dope on the floor and I'm magic on the mic...”
Inside the shuttle, 'There. Are you seeing this?' Hopper asks as he looks through some magnification device. 'Who could miss it? You're...that's so intense' Wendy replies, swooning. Hopper smiles at Captain Marvel as he tells her that he is tracking an extreme reaction, even on a cellular level. 'Meaning?' Carol asks. Hopper declares that it is conclusive – the Kree kid has the HLA marker, but Captain Marvel conclusively does not. 'You're...that's incredible' Wendy coos, while Carol asks 'Then why do I feel so janky?' Hopper tells her to look, and explains that when they move the kid's slide next to hers, Bean's marker triggers a deferred reaction, not in her cells, but in Carol's. 'You're...that's genius' Wendy swoons. Carol leans closer to Hopper and asks if she has this straight: 'I'm allergic to kids?' but Hopper tells her that it isn't all kids, she reacts to certain genetic materials carried by certain kids. 'Look...' he adds as an image appears on the screen. Hopper explains that in the presence of the HLA trigger, Carol's cells lose the ability to control their own responses. 'Why is that blob thing kind of hulked out over the whole slide?' Carol asks. 'That hulking out is your nucleas going nuclear... so to speak... starting a chain reaction' Hopper tells her.
Puck, Sasquatch and Bean poke their heads up through the underhatch, and Puck calls out 'Recap: Are you saying the Captain loses it arouuind the sticky beard puller?' to which Sasquatch asks Like, beast mode?' while Bean sings “You can't touch meeee...”. 'Aren't you supposed to be keeping watch?' Carol asks. 'Fine' Puck mutters, telling Carol that he guesses she doesn't want to know that the moon came out while they were waiting. 'Huh?' Carol asks. 'Or that it circled the block three times and landed in the alley' Puck adds. Carol realizes that he is talking about the moon-shaped pod that the shape-shifting bounty hunter uses. 'Did she just say... shape... shifter?' Hopper asks. Wendy tells him that he will get used to it.
Carol leaves the shuttle and flies out over the alley, where she sees the pod. Carol supposes that in coming from below, the shapeshifter probably thinks he can surprise them. She announces that she will head it off before it gets back out, and instructs the others to stay with Bean. 'Copy that' someone replies. Carol flies down to the entrance of the hotel and enters – which gets the attention of people inside. 'Look who's here!' one of them exclaims. 'Captain Marvel? For real? Can I get your autograph?' another asks. 'She's a total fake. Look at that phony costume' someone else remarks, before another asks 'Wait, are you the super hero balloon animal lady?' 'Aw, balloon animals again?' I heard it was wax hands...' another complains. Carol looks at the crowd and thinks that of all the lousy hotels in Boston, they had to pick the one with the super-hero themed bar mitzvah. As the party rages before her, Carol isn't able to tell whether it is an enemy attack or just what a room full of 13-year olds sounds like. She wonders if she really is allergic to kids, and knows that either way, she better do something.
Moments later, Carol knows that the shape-shifter has to be hiding in here somewhere, and realizes he made a smart move, letting her chase him into a kid's party – even a shifter knows she won't risk the lives of all these kids. 'Come out come out wherever you are...' she thinks to herself, lifting a kid on a chair up above her. The kid calls down 'Wait... you're Captain Marvel for real?' to which Carol tells him 'Yeah, you know what they say. Always be yourself, kid'. 'You know what else they say? Careful what you wish for...' the boy declares as the shape-shifter takes his true form, and gets down from the chair, smacking Captain Marvel with it. 'That was so not a mitzvah...' Carol utters as she falls back, while one of the crowd asks where the boy went. 'Who cares? That fight almost looks real!' another exclaims, while a third declares that they totally saw strings. Carol crashes to the ground, and someone declares that this is the best bar mitzvah ever.
As she is knocked into a table of food, Carol tells the shapeshifter that she almost forgot about him. 'You're no standout yourself' the shape-shifter replies. 'Hey, you stepped on my s'mores!' someone exclaims, while Carol asks him what the deal with this shape-shifter thing is. 'Is this some kind of identity crisis? Are you a soldier or a Kree or a Flerken cat? A TV director or a boy...?' Carol asks. 'Whoa – for a second I thought that was real wax -' someone calls out as the shape-shifter kicks something which spills towards Carol. The Shape shifter turns and walks away, introducing himself as Mim. 'And maybe I'm just Team Tony...or maybe I just don't like your haircut...'
Carol rushes after Mim as he makes his way up a stairwell, telling him 'Maybe I don't like a villain who attacks during the hora...' to which Mim responds 'Villain? Is that what you think I am?' He points out that if he was a villain, he would already be at her shuttle. Carol warns Mim to stay from the Kree kid, in fact, stay away from all the kids.
They reach the rooftop, where Mim's moon-pod has risen to. Mim reminds Carol that he said he was not a villain. 'You could say I'm a collector...on deadline. One short on a gold-label contract for a dozen Kree blues...' he adds. 'Let's see...disruptive genetics... moral ambivalence... and deep pockets? Smells like Hydra' Carol declares. 'Pays like them, too' Mim responds. Carol asks him why it is the Kree, and what they are needed for. Mim tels her that they might be source material for some weapon – he didn't ask for blueprints. 'Yeah, but see, now I'm asking...' Carol calls out as she grabs Mim, who suddenly shifts his form into a copy of Captain Marvel. 'There's talk that this thing they're building...it's not just a weapon. It's a monster. Although I've walked around in enough skin to know...we're all beasts' Mim replies. 'Is this feelings talk? Save it for my shrink...' Carol tells him.
'Give me the Kree. You can't win this one' Mim warns Carol, when suddenly, the shuttle bursts into life, and Sasquatch can be heard informing Captain Marvel that they are going to hit the shape-shifter with the thrusters. 'Squatch, no! We need her al-' Carol replies, before the energy emitted from the thrusters strikes both Carol and Mim. One of them falls to the ground, apparently Mim, still posing as Captain Marvel. 'Holy crap. She's dead. Holy crap crap crap -' Carol utters, while Sasquatch informs her that they have to get out of Boston.
Later that night, aboard the Alpha Flight Space Station, Carol walks down a corridor, holding Bean in her arms, she wonders what she really knows about herself. Gravity cannot ground her, physics cannot bind her – there is no attack she cannot deflect, no enemy she cannot defeat. Except one. 'Me' Carol tells herself, as a cut with a glowing substance oozing from it can be seen on just below her neck, and suddenly, her eyes glow blue....