The Valhalla Mountain Research Facility, Colorado…
Private Genis-Vell is in full action against Von Strucker’s resistance. The interdiction unit comes down in tight formation. Renowned throughout the galaxy for their fighting skills, Genis sees it is an honor to be a part of them. Though many have questioned if it’s an honor Genis serves, he strives to do the best he can. It’s hard enough to be him, but when Genis sees her in action, his insecurities get worse.
“Her” is Carol Danvers. She is the Earth woman who gained super-powers from long-hidden Kree machinery. She gained powers saving Genis’ father’s life and defeating the renegade Kree Colonel, Yon-Rogg. Carol eventually went on to become the current Captain Marvel and is now the world’s greatest hero.
Carol herself is busy fighting the Radioactive Man. She doesn’t understand his motives. She asks Dr. Chen why he has joined Strucker’s cause and why he’s wasting the potential he has performing criminal acts as the Radioactive Man. Chen laughs when he hears Carol speaking about potential. He asks her what to do about the potential of the human race as a species; Carol’s status quo will doom to extinction! While striking out with a power blast at some troops, Strucker calls Carol a traitor to her own race. He promises to crush her with his Satan’s Claw as easily as he brushed the aliens away from him.
Genis notices that it’s only Strucker’s zeal that makes him and his followers an actual threat. He mentions that though their planet is on an evolutionary cusp and, rather than to embrace it, some segments of the human race, like Strucker, seem willing to risk planetary annihilation over obsolescence.
Andrea fears that there might be too many aliens for them to defeat, but Andrea tells his sister to keep fighting, as they can’t let their father down.
Genis recognizes Strucker’s children. They are supremacists, whose original vision of Aryan superiority has been refocused by the struggle for human survival. But these two children are mutants themselves, so Genis has to wonder why they are fighting against their own kind. Genis knows that he could take them both down easily, yet he hesitates. Why? He takes out his gun, but then gets attacked by none other than… Flashback!
Flashback tells Genis he just made a wrong move, and that one second is all he’s going to get when the Private is going to face an opponent who can cut time apart. Genis recognizes Flashback. He can pull additional versions of himself from the timestream. As they spiral, Genis feels at first two hands on him, then four, then eight… and so on. But, through the pummeling, beyond the pain (and embarrassment), Genis also feels something else. Something that scares him. Genis can feel time and space. He doesn’t just see it; he can feel it as well. With a tangible smell and taste, Genis sees a glimpse of heroes, yet they live somewhere… somewhen… else.
Flashback gets literally pulled apart: something is happening! He knows his powers don’t work this way and angrily calls out to Genis, demanding to know what he’s doing to him! Genis recalls that Flashback is a river of time and he is a rock lodged in his current. Ripples flow around the Private, washing over him. Ripples of Flashback’s flesh and soul, as the villain himself dissipates into nothingness (and everything). Then, Genis sees another world, which is so different that the one he knows, yet for some reason… it feels so… right.
Genis, though it pains him, sees the world… as it should be? (As it will be again?) And worst of all (or is it best of all?) Genis can see himself in that world… he sees himself as someone powerful and important… someone who’s very existence will determine the fate of a universe! And, he’s part of a special team of people. Genis screams from the onslaught, the surge, the cosmic awareness. But more, the overwhelming sense of dread that, in this vision, he was not saving the universe, but… destroying it? He collapses.
Carol worries and asks him what happened, and to where Flashback disappeared. Captain Atlas takes charge, and kills Baron Strucker! Andrea and Andreas panic, and hold hands. The alien troops form a defensive circle around them, but the twins won’t surrender and keep on fighting for their birthright, no matter what. Suddenly, Andrea gets shot in her head, and a few seconds later so gets Andreas!
The culprit is none other than Major Erik Josten. And he thinks that the Strucker twins were nothing more than idiots. Genis wakes up to see a human above him, who is surrounded by other human soldiers and looming like a giant, carved in granite. Genis recognizes Josten as the leader of the near mythical human fighting force, the Howling Commandos.
In the ten minutes that it takes Kree medics to examine Genis, Josten and Captain Marvel have already cleared the battlefield. Josten takes some distance from Genis and takes Carol with him. He wants to know what happened to the Private. Carol doesn’t know yet, but something happened when Flashback attacked him. She reminds Josten that Genis is Mar-Vell’s son. Josten doesn’t care much. He tells Carol that in case she hadn’t noticed, Mar-Vell never would have never let himself get ambushed like that.
Genis can hear Josten’s disdain. He knows he should have gotten used to it by now but, now, it’s different. Genis actually feels it, like an emotional punch. Josten goes back to the Kree doctors, and asks for a status report. They suspect that unknown photonic energies course through Genis’ body. As the doctors continue to talk, Genis can barely hear their words. He doesn’t need them to tell him something bad has happened to him. He wants to know what he really saw. Genis wants to know how that one strange vision suddenly changes the way he sees everything. He wants to know why none of this seems real to him now.
He overhears Carol talking to Josten that Strucker claimed he was with the human underground resistance. Josten doesn’t believe that, as Strucker didn’t care one bit about the H.U.R. He was just another terrorist. Carol corrects that some might think it’s a fine line between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. Josten mentions to Carol that she doesn’t want anyone hearing what she just said. She is just trying to be objective. Josten wonders about the answer.
While starting to fly away, Carol remembers how much the world changed for the last few decades, though it was for the best. But, it would be foolish to deny that baseline humans have a justified fear of becoming extinct. Carol doesn’t know what the answer is: she guesses they’ll just keep fighting for what’s right.
Josten agrees, but wonders who’s going to define what’s right. Genis notices that Carol leaves without saying goodbye to him. He doesn’t think she’s comfortable around him. But he doesn’t know if it’s because he reminds Carol of his father, or because he doesn’t. Genis recalls all the rumors that swirled around Carold and his dad. His father had told Genis’ mother that nothing ever had happened between him and Carol. But Genis thinks about it, and he feels himself in, that moment, in their moment. He feels their lips pressing together, his protestations, her longing as he flew away. It’s a passion nearly consummated, clinging to Carol’s very being like thick tar.
It happened years ago, but Carol’s taste is on Genis’ lips, his father longing his gut. How can he seem to know everything, or reach out to hear the thoughts of everyone around him? How they control so much power and still have no control over his own life?
Ronan thinks that “innocent until proven guilty” sounds a little excessively lenient. Killgrave reminds the Judge Advocate there are ways to… manipulate that statement. They pass a guard, Sunder, who asks them both for their security passes. They are approved, and Sunder lets them enter through a formerly locked door. Ronan asks Killgrave if what he sees is really Zebediah’s greatest collection of scientific minds. Killgrave corrects that it’s actually just a few of them.
Zebediah Killgrave is some kind of politician called lobbyist. He serves as a puppet, pulled between the whims of governments and corporations, consisting out of both humans and mutants. His words were meant to impress Ronan. Though it didn’t quite work, apparently.
Ronan takes a good look at the working crew below him, and recognizes Abe Jenkins, Forge, Orgre, the Mole Man, Thinkerer and Wendell Vaughn. Forge informs Wendell and Abe that they have been registering absurd amounts of tetaspatial energies over the last fifteen minutes. He wants to know if their sensors are working properly. Wendell thinks they appear to be. Abe, while clicking on a pen, explains that the photonic surges are now being scanned. Wendell reveals that this new energy signal seems to be odd, as the photonic energy should be ambient and not isolated into such a self-contained area.
Wendell asks Abe if he could stop clicking on the pen. He apologizes, as it’s a nervous habit. Wendell continues to explain that the readings almost seem to emulate a quasar pulse. He’s finding a locus point for the activity and reports it back to Forge. And it seems to be coming from inside the base! Abe starts clicking his pen again, and wants to know what Killgrave and the alien are doing there. Wendell mentions that word is they’re going to sign a new treaty with the Kree to include a military alliance against the Shi’Ar Empire. From what Wendell heard, the Kree need them, because the Shi’Ar have been advancing into their territory for years.
Meanwhile, Dum-Dum meets up with Josten. He thinks they can’t scuttle the delegations meeting with Forge, as it would draw too much attention on them. Erik knows that, but he doesn’t want the mutants do this, as it will crush the last of their hope. Dum-Dum warns Josten to be quiet, as they’re passing some guards. They salute each other, and walk through a door. Dum-Dum asks Josten if he didn’t taught him patience back in the day. Erik confirms, and jokes that the lesson coming from Dum-Dum, it was pretty ironic. Dum-Dum takes out a pen from his jacket… and also starts clicking it! An unseen person tells him to stop it, as they’re secure in there.
Erik tells the person to show General Dugan some respect. The person refuses, and wants to know if Josten got the thing. Josten did, and shows a experimental tube, which holds some Kree blood he got from the Private. He warns Sanders that he’ll better be able to do this. Sanders quickly runs towards Josten, and takes out a drink. He reminds Erik that he has hidden him and his super-speed from plain sight for a good reason. Sanders knows that his major wants him to find a bio-agent that will kill every Kree on this planet, and he will get the job done. But he has got to tell Josten that, based on the Intel Jenkins just passed along through the intercom morse-code system, it might be a moot point because something the Kree brought along with them looks like it could tear all of reality apart!
The Valhalla Mountain Research Facility, Colorado…
In the aftermath of the battle, common to soldiers on all worlds, comes bonding. The relief to be alive and the sense of camaraderie that transcends nationalities, or even species. Genis is not a part of this. His heritage has made it hard for him to be “one of the guys.” And, as usual, he turns inwards, and once again, he can see… a strange combination of what once was… what is… and what might be? Genis can see his father. When he was on Earth, when he found the Nega-Bands, and a strange uniform, which Genis thinks his father never wore. And suddenly, his father’s hair changes from grey into… blonde?
Genis can also see himself, carrying on some kind of… legacy… but… HE NEVER DID THAT! What is going on here? Genis freaks out and flies away!
Ronan takes a look on the big viewing screens and recognizes Genis flying away. But he leaves a strange light trail behind, something he never did before. Forge explains that the energy readings they detect are coming from Genis! He’s not using his propulsion boots to fly and, somehow, he’s folding photons around him. Folding space, to propel himself! Ronan sends out his troops to follow Genis.
Throughout the confusion, Genis can feel the troops have started following him. There are so many random thoughts, like jealousy and fear, but why does he feel support, too? Someone, a Terran, a friend of his father’s? At his bedside when he died? (But Mar-Vell died in battle). And, Genis wonders, this person was a friend of him as well? They were… conjoined… he can feel this person’s thoughts inside him, almost as if they were his own.
Genis hurtles through the skies, dragged as much as anything, feeling a pull, being subconsciously drawn to this spot, where Genis knows he’ll be able to find this mysterious Terran. And with a welcome sarcastic edge, he’ll be able to tell Genis what he needs to know, help him to understand all of this.
Genis lands in a graveyard, in front of the grave of… Rick Jones! Genis wonders who Rick was. Genis unleashes an awful amount of energy into the open sky, demanding to know why this all feels so wrong?!
Outside the base…
Dum-Dum wants to know what that was. It felt like everything just… stopped! Forge is working on it. It seems as if, for one second, everything kind of collapsed, like an accordion. Josten doesn’t think that even Magnus is powerful enough to do that. Ronan confirms that it was his private. According to their healer’s examination, Private Vell has become a kind of spatial conduit. He thinks they must find him soon. Josten wants to know what will happen if they fail at that. Ronan claims that or else, this entire universe might disappear in the blink of an eye!
While Ronan and his troops depart, Josten thinks they need to scramble some cover out of Andrews. They can’t depend on aliens to save them. Forge thinks that the major is correct, as, after all, he mocks, that would almost be as bad as depending on mutants, wouldn’t it? Forge suggests that he’ll contact the Council to determine who’s available for help. Killgrave quotes that, after all this world has gone through, the mutants still walk around with a giant chip on their shoulder. He mocks that perhaps Dugan and Josten shouldn’t think of Private Vell as a threat, but rather… an opportunity? He takes out a pen from his pocket and starts clicking it.
A few moments later, Josten and Dugan have reported the events to Sanders. He confirms that of course he did it, as the solution accelerates their metabolism, dehydration, organ failure, heart attack… the works. He explains that the second can slow them down to a near state of hibernation. Coming up with the poisons was easy. The hard part is, Sanders asks Josten, how he plans to deliver them. Erik and Dum-Dum look at each other with a serious look on their faces.
Again, a few moments later, Josten, Abe and Dugan are driving at full speed in Josten’s jeep towards action. Abe doesn’t like it, and tries to make Josten understand that their experiment hasn’t even been tested yet. Abe still has so much work to do on the cybernetic interfaces, repairs on the gyroscopes… Josten could fly it into a mountain! Josten corrects Abe that if the experiment works, he’ll be able to fly it through a mountain.
They stop in front of a cave. Abe takes out a device, which allows him to do a remote reboot, but he warns the major it’s a dirty upload. Abe wasn’t ready. He didn’t think any of them were ready for tipping their hand on this kind of scale. Erik doesn’t think they’ve got much choice, so they enter the cave. He mentions that the only hope for human survival is to start fighting back!
Genis can feel them coming for him. Mutants, humans and Kree combined. As always, they are mutually assured destruction brings all races together. Genis is aware that they come to destroy him. He doesn’t know it for sure, but maybe the soldiers are right to do that. He doesn’t know anything. That’s funny, since Genis always thought he knew everything.
While floating in mid-air, Genis experiences more visions, and sees him in alternate forms. Ronan arrives, and calls out to his private, begging that he lets them help him. He warns that he’s bisecting time and space for five hundred kilometers around him! But, Genis can even see Ronan in another version of himself. He can’t stop it. Their world, everything they know, it’s all so… wrong. Every fiber of Genis’ being is trying to turn it back the way it should be. He is sorry.
Suddenly, Genis explodes! The shock of the attack bounces most troops back. Genis turns to Rick’s grave again, and wants the guy to talk to him. He wants to know if this is so wrong why it feels so right. Genis wants to know if the alternate forms he saw of himself are the way his life should be? He wants to know what if this reality is worse for the planet Earth, but better for him?
On that very moment, an energy beam strikes! Luckily, Genis manages to dodge it just in time. It’s Josten, and he’s controlling a flying Sentinel! Genis knows that humans used to built these mechanical machines to hunt down and destroy mutants. However, Magneto stopped them long ago and saved the entire world from annihilation, thereby changing the evolutionary course of this planet. The human rebellion had found and secreted the prototype of an Atlas-class Sentinel mutant-hunter.
Josten calls out to Genis, telling him that the only hope he has of saving his fellow Kree people is by joining the Human Underground Resistance! Genis doesn’t think so, and tells Josten that his plans are useless. He was going to kill the Kree to initiate an alliance with the Shi’Ar, so that they would come to eradicate the mutants. But, Genis thinks that even if Homo sapiens do destroy Homo mutants, Josten surely can’t stop evolution. It’s a natural process.
The Sentinel blasts upon Genis and he gets hit. Josten shouts at Genis that he isn’t a part of this. He won’t let Genis come between humans and mutants and screw this up. His plan is too important to ruin. Suddenly, Josten starts changing in his former Atlas self, and he freaks out! What is happening to him?! Genis attacks the Sentinel, and explains to Josten that he is divided between what was, what is and what could be. On this world, Josten matters: he is a man of honor and conviction. Though on the other world, Josten exists in a worse situation. Which one would he prefer?
Genis really wonders who Josten would prefer to be: a good man on a world doomed to extinction or a bad man on a world filled with potential? Josten feels Genis’ attacks and gets a headache. He jokes that, if he survives this, he and Abe will have to figure out a way to cut that pain-receptor link. Genis flies closer to the Sentinel. He knows that Major Josten has the means to kill him. But in doing so, he might accelerate the powers he is manifesting where all of this reality will cease to exist. On the other hand, if Josten uses the bioagent that slows down Genis’ metabolic rate, Josten’s plot against the Kree will be exposed, he will be executed for treason and his entire Human Underground Resistance will collapse. On a world restored to its proper place, Genis tells Josten, he would live on as a deeply flawed man of weak and wavering principles. Though on the Earth they are currently on, Josten would die a man of honor and a hero to billions, even as they lose all hope.
Josten takes out some blasters out of the Sentinel’s armor. Genis concludes that the choice lies with Erik. Josten wants to know why Genis can’t decide, if he has so much power. Genis doesn’t know for sure, but thinks it’s because his decisions have always been wrong. Genis thinks that maybe, he chose this reality for himself so he wouldn’t have to live with so much responsibility. Genis waits for Josten’s response.
He is furious and thinks that Genis is just another weak alien. Life is responsibility! And he isn’t going to risk every single life on this planet just to advance his cause, but he also isn’t going to stop trying to do what’s right either. That’s something Genis’ old man would have understood.
Genis knows that he could stop Josten, but what are his options? Live and risk destroying this world, or die and risk destroying this world. Neither option guaranteed a return to both Genis and Josten’s real world, which was in the hands of others. Josten didn’t know, how hard a choice it was for Genis to do nothing. Ensuring he would live on a world where Genis gladly accepts being less, rather than returning to this world, where he has failed trying to be more. Josten fires the cannon.
Genis’ body has survived the attack, but a healer reports that his body is in a comatose state. His photonic fluctuations have subsided. But, they can minimize Genis’ R.E.M. state to avoid simulation during his dreaming. Ronan thinks it’s ironic. If Forge had not developed a biotoxin against the Kree, Private Vell might have destroyed this world. Forge explains that, if they didn’t develop that toxin, the humans would have! Ronan sarcastically smiles, and mentions to Forge that, to “them aliens,” the habitants of Earth are all humans. Killgrave smiles, and watches as Ronan and his troops march away.
Forge mentions to Dugan that Josten was just found driving a stolen vehicle outside of Phoenix. He asks Dugan if he has any idea how Josten might have gotten there. Dum-Dum hasn’t, as Josten has been AWOL for hours now. Forge also wants to know if Dugan knows anything about an explosion fifty miles away that consumed a damaged Sentinel. Much less how a lone Sentinel arm was found at this scene? Forge wants to know that, as they have found no records of Sentinels being build at this place. Dum-Dum, while looking at a partly destroyed Sentinel arm lying nearby, claims that he has no idea.
Killgrave mentions that it is rumored the Human Underground Resistance had been trying to attain abandoned Sentinel technology to use against them. Forge wants to know what Killgrave means with “them.” Killgrav explains that he has always likened himself to being a mutant, with the gift for purple prose and the power of persuasion. Forge thinks that would be a very dangerous power. He orders General Dugan that he has to find out everything he can about Major Erik Josten. It would be a shame if he would come out as a traitor, but an even greater shame should be if Josten took Dugan along with him.
As Forge takes off, Dum-Dum tells Killgrave he didn’t have to sell Josten out. He should have…! Killgrave finishes the sentence, thinking that Dugan should have watched a network they worked very long and hard to develop and come undone. Dum-Dum wants to know what Killgrave means with “we.” Killgrave walks away, telling the general ,that sometimes, the best way to pull the strings, is to play the part of the puppet. He takes off, and starts clicking a pen again.