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"A Prize for Three Empires"

A Prize for Three Empires

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28

This story is in progress.

More history, but maybe with a twist or two you haven't seen before. Hope you enjoy it. All characters property of Marvel Comics.

For Ms. Marvel, her early Avengers tenure was fast, furious, and interesting. Alongside legends like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Vision, she'd taken on heavy hitters and pulled her weight. The Absorbing Man. The Grey Gargoyle. Taskmaster. The Squadron Sinister. Powerful villains all, and the Avengers had taken them down. And she had been an Avenger.

She also had a fun gig stopping a military man gone bad, in an ad hoc team composed of her old friend Nick Fury, the Thing, and Wonder Man. On that one, all of them had found out just what a poker shark she'd learned how to be in the Air Force. Actually, her daddy had taught her about that somewhat, too.

But, in short order, the fun began to run out, in a big one-two punch.

The first blow was delivered by three mutant women. She had never met any of them. They wanted to kill her.

The mutant trio were members of the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Their precog member, Destiny, had a vision that indicated Carol Danvers would somehow harm Rogue, who was the foster daughter of Mystique, the chameleon-powered directress of the Brotherhood. That shook Mystique greatly, for she cared for Rogue quite a bit.

She cared for Rogue enough to kill Ms. Marvel, if the need arose.

As it was, Destiny's predictive power allowed the troika of mutant women to keep tabs on her. Mystique used her morphing ability to become the very image of Carol, and went to the office of her lover/psychiatrist, Dr. Mike Barnett, to lift the file he had compiled on Carol's psyche.

But Mystique's masquerade was not good enough. Barnett didn't know who "Carol" was, but knew that it wasn't Carol. That was a very, very unfortunate thing.

Because Mystique turned on him and beat him to death.

Then she went ahead and took the files on Carol, and left the remains of Michael Barnett for Carol and the cops to find, and soon learned from what she had taken that Carol Danvers was really Ms. Marvel.

This ratcheted things up another turn.

Mystique had the Brotherhood attack Ms. Marvel. They were beaten back, but escaped. For her part, Carol had to cope with another part of her life going to ashes, and cried hard tears for Mike Barnett. When she learned, soon after, that Mystique had been his killer, she cursed the fact that she had not known of this when she fought the Brotherhood.

Now Ms. Marvel and Mystique were bound by mirrored vengeance.

Carol had lost two jobs, her brother, and her lover. It was hard to put the mask and bathing suit costume on, now. It was hard to play soldier.

She cried over some long phonecalls at night to her mother and made arrangements to ask for time off at the end of the week. She was sure nothing could knock her lower than this had done, certain that, after this, God or whoever had something better in store for her.

In this, Carol was very, very wrong.

Before she even got around to asking Iron Man for some leave, or seeing if the Avengers could help her track down the Brotherhood, or just going after them herself, she had to help out on the battle with Taskmaster, and did. She aquitted herself well.

Then another of the very strange things which had a habit of happening to Carol Danvers happened to her again. On the way back from the Taskmaster battle, in the Avengers Quinjet, Ms. Marvel looked up and found that she wasn't in the craft anymore and her costumed friends were not beside her.

Instead, she was seeing the interior of a strange castle, whose walls and aspects seemed to somehow be in flux. There was a man before her, a rather handsome man, with jet-black hair, a mustache, and a beard. He looked about 25 years of age and was standing there before her, in a green jumpsuit, appearing to give her the once-over with his eyes.

She punched him.

He skidded across the wavering floor and she was about to follow up with another blow. He raised one hand and said, "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Carol," and unleashed energy from his hand which she could only perceive with her Kree senses.

She stopped stock-still. Then, since she was posed in an awkward position, she fell on her side. She couldn't even move her eyes.

The man in the green jumpsuit picked Ms. Marvel up, lay her on a couch, and proceeded to mess with her mind.

He discovered her memory of Mike Barnett's murder and, to pacify her, set about nulling and suppressing that, though the rest of her consciousness screamed out against him in horror. was like being under ether, somehow...and, after awhile...

...she wondered just what she had been mad about, before...

...then she even forgot to be mad.

"Nice, nice," he said, to himself more than to her. "So very, very nice."

The psionic lobotomy went on.

His name was Marcus Immortus and he was the son of the Lord of Limbo, who had fought the Avengers once and then aided them at other times. His mother had been an Earthwoman, whom the elder Immortus had loved for a time, before she vanished back into the Earth-plane. Then Immortus himself faded away. And Marcus was left alone.

He didn't like that.

He wanted to go to Earth.

But, thanks to the nature of his birth and the forces about him, he couldn't do that.

So Marcus hit upon the idea of encoding his mind and soul magically into what he called his "essence," which was in an area where most men have their essence. The difference was that Marcus's "essence" would have his consciousness, when he was born. He would be born with the memory and mental components of the earlier Marcus, though the earlier Marcus, as a result of this, would wither and die in a short time.

You always left some things behind after every stage, though.

The trick was to find some woman on Earth who could be induced...well, seduced, really, with the help of some psychosurgery...who would oblige him by taking on his "essence" and bringing him to term and birthing him.

There had to be such a woman on Earth. There were billions of women. Certainly he could find one who would be suitable. And he'd show her a good time, oh, yes, he would. He'd make her have a good time. It was all so, so important. And after he was born on Earth, why, he'd mature in a few days and then permanently fix his age at maturity and use his father's science to make a Golden Age on Earth.

Even if the woman didn't understand it at first, after it was all over, she'd be unutterably grateful to him for it all.

He was certain of that.

Since his father had been involved with the Avengers, he sought out the team on a time-scan and came upon them when there were several of them heading back in a Quinjet from some battle. There were a few women on board.

But one was a robot, and that made her no good at all to him.

Another was a woman called the Wasp, and his father had told him that she was married to an Avenger named Yellowjacket at that time, and he didn't think she ever had any children. Marcus didn't want her for those two reasons. It just wouldn't be nice to take a married woman away from her husband. Anyway, she probably couldn't help him.

But the third woman was a very pretty blonde woman in a black bathing suit costume that showed off a spectacular figure, and Marcus noted she had very pretty golden hair and could tell, even through the mask, that she had a very, very lovely face. Her name, at this time, was Ms. Marvel.

He was sure, in time, he could persuade her to call herself Mrs. Marvel. Or maybe just Mrs. Immortus. That would be nice.

So he plucked her from her time-stream and brought her to Limbo and, after that rather messy getting-acquainted-over-a-punch period, implanted things in her mind. Things to make her love Marcus Immortus.

Part of Carol Danvers's mind was screaming.

But a larger part of it was...kind of dreaming...thinking that this might just be a very, very nice dream...and what was she supposed to be mad at, anyway?

This nice young man in the green jumpsuit? She never knew just how sexy that a man in a green jumpsuit and a beard and a mustache could be. This, she thought, was strange, because she wouldn't have given this man too much thought before she had been brought here.

But perhaps this was just a dream, and perhaps it was an erotic dream.

She wasn't sure she wanted to get erotic right then. After all, even in a dream, she wasn't quite that kind of girl.

(He is violating me he is raping my emotions he is doing operations on my mind he is taking my rightful thinking away from me so that he can...

(He is...)

He was having a man he had taken from another century, a man in Elizabethan dress, write her a love-sonnet, and there was a strange look in the man's eyes, as if he really didn't know where he was, either. Then he was gone.

He was having a German fellow who didn't seem able to hear sit at a strange sort of desk with quill pen and paper and write a musical suite for her, which was then performed by an orchestra she couldn't see at all.

He was having a Frenchwoman design a ball gown for her, which was then magicked into existence, and at first she didn't like it at all, but then Marcus looked into her eyes and, a few seconds later, she couldn't wait to put it on.

Then the Englishman and the German and the Frenchwoman were gone, and they were dancing, dancing to the music that the deaf man had written for them. For her.

(The Avengers will find us oh God the Avengers will rescue me what's the matter with me why can't I break free oh God break me free)

And after awhile she let the man take her somewhere to a very palatial bed and implant his "essence" in her.


And Marcus thought that was very, very nice. Very, very nice, indeed.

Then he'd gotten her dressed in her Ms. Marvel costume and told her he had to send her back home again, which made her feel very sad. But he said that she shouldn't cry, because her memory of this place, and of him, would be lost as soon as she went back home. Anyway, she was going to have him as a baby very soon, and they would be together.

"That's nice," said Ms. Marvel.

(His baby oh God I'm GOING TO HAVE HIS)

"That's very, very nice," said Marcus Immortus.


Then Ms. Marvel had found herself on the Avengers Quinjet again.

For a second, she shivered, but couldn't discern any cause for it.

After all, there she was with good old Hank and Jan and Iron Man and Cap and all the rest sitting with her in the Quinjet, and they'd all just busted up Taskmaster's thug-training racket. She thought about asking Iron Man for a few days off.

But she couldn't figure out just why.

So she decided it must not have been very important anyway, and wondered what Jarvis would fix them for dinner that night.

A day or two after that, she was talking to the Scarlet Witch, telling Wanda she needn't worry about not having children, being an Avenger and being married to the Vision was bound to be enough. Then she took sick, right on the beach where they talked.

Wanda took her to the doctor and they found out she was three months pregnant.


She'd been on the Pill when she was with Michael. He'd used protection.


He was dead now, damn it. And she felt as though she should feel something more about it, but, somehow, she just didn't.

Pregnant. Three months.

She added it all up and then just screamed.

When she'd gotten her stuff together as much as she could, she unmasked before Wanda for the first time and told her that her real name was Carol Danvers. Wanda had been a dear then, and helped her keep it together, and took her back to Avengers Mansion, where, a day later, the guys had come back in and learned that Carol was not only pregnant, but now in approximately her seventh month. In less than four days.

The idiots thought it was great.

The Wasp, who, either through her fault, or Hank Pym's, or both, or nobody's, had never produced a child, was all smiles and support. The Beast had jokingly offered himself as a teddy bear when the baby was delivered, and ran out to buy a bunch of sporting equipment for it. Wonder Man had offered his congratulations.

What could she say?

She said, "Thank you all," finally, and let Dr. Don Blake, the Avengers' physician, escort her to her quarters.

It was impossible.

But her belly was distended, and she felt the infant kick, and she knew that within the next 24 hours her water would break and she would have a child.

At least she hoped it would be a child.

Part of her was numb and part of her wanted to grab a ball bat and chase the Avengers (except Wanda) around the mansion for grinning at her and saying what a really great thing it was that she was having a baby.

But she let Dr. Blake put her to bed and then, a few hours later, her water broke and she called Dr. Blake on the intercom and Dr. Blake and Jocasta, the lady robot, had come with a wheelchair and taken her to the emergency room within the mansion and put her on the table with her feet in some stirrups (the Avengers seemed prepared for anything, even pregnancy) and helped her deliver the child.

It looked like a normal, healthy child, and Dr. Blake had spanked its behind once and it--he--had breathed, normally and regularly, but not cried. Dr. Blake thought that was odd, but what the hell hadn't been, lately, and anyway, the kid was still breathing.

Wonder Man had wheeled Carol out of the delivery room afterward, and Jan, the Wasp, had rushed up to congratulate her. Carol had set her straight: "I've been used. That isn't my baby. I don't even know who the father is. So if you want to help me, please, just leave me alone."

Jan had looked astonished, but she nodded, after a moment, and Wonder Man had taken Carol back to her room.

Within hours, the child had grown hair, put on weight, God only knew from where, and started speaking. They fed him and fed him, and he didn't seem to eliminate much. He just grew and grew and grew.

Within hours, Carol herself was recovered from delivery, and her belly had shrunk back to its normal pre-pregnancy state without even a trace of stretch marks. She put on her Ms. Marvel costume. She wondered why.

Within hours, Manhattan was plagued by dinosaurs, knights, German World War I flying aces in Fokkers, Native American tribes from a century ago on the warpath, and strange airships from future eras.

The child grew to the form of a 25-year-old man with black hair and a mustache and beard. When Carol saw him as such, she felt strange stirrings in her body, a strange attraction, and was ashamed of herself for being attracted to her son, who called himself Marcus and said, "Hello, Mother," to her.

And somewhere in the recesses of her mind was a desperate woman screaming, running through a hall and banging on its doors, hollering for someone to hear her, to help her, to set her free.

But nobody really heard her.

Not even Carol.

While the other Avengers were out taking care of the dinosaurs and such, Ms. Marvel clung to her son as if he were her lover. Why was she doing this? She didn't really know, not at all. But she clung so closely to him that eventually Marcus, who was building a great machine in Avengers Mansion, had reached out a hand to her and touched her forehead and made her go to sleep.

That seemed very, very nice.

When she woke up, awhile later, the machine had been destroyed. Marcus was facing off against the other Avengers, and telling them he would kill them. She got up and told him, firmly, "No, Marcus, you'll kill no one." And he didn't.

Then she learned, and they all learned, that he was the son of Immortus. Carol was dumbfounded. She told him that she had never even met Immortus. Marcus told her that was true.

Then Marcus Immortus told them part of the story. Only the parts that wouldn't make the Avengers too mad.

When it was all done, they understood that they had smashed the machine that would allow Marcus to halt the fluctuations in the time-stream, and to halt his accelerated growth, and to do nice things to make a Golden Age for humanity. Now he would go back to Limbo himself, where he might survive, and live alone for the rest of his life.

And Carol had said, "No, Marcus, you won't be alone."

Because she still felt the feeling he had implanted in her and that feeling was seeing him more as a lover even if he was, in a way, her son.

Because part of her didn't want to remain with the Avengers.


Because she thought that going to live with him in Limbo might be very, very nice.

So Thor had whirled his hammer and pierced the dimensions for them and taken the two of them to live in Limbo. And that was where Carol had lived for a while.

The thing was, Marcus Immortus didn't live long at all.

His body didn't stop aging, even in Limbo. He couldn't stop it. Within hours, he was too senile to even think about stopping it.

At first, Ms. Marvel just thought it was rather odd. But she loved him.

Then, as she saw him die, she wasn't even sure she liked him very much.

Then, as his flesh decayed away and his skeleton was left and even that turned to dust in minutes, she realized that she hated him.

The desperate lady crashed through the last door in Carol's mind and wanted to give forth a scream, a scream of all screams, the biggest scream she had ever screamed in her life. So Carol helped her.

She didn't know how long she screamed.

It's hard to tell about such things, in Limbo.

But after she finished, she was still afraid. Very, very afraid. Because there was nobody in Limbo, or at least that part of Limbo, but her. The walls of Marcus's palace were in flux and she saw bits and pieces of other times through the windows outside and wanted to throw up. So she did, carefully, right on Marcus's ashes. She found something to sweep up all the mess with and gathered it all in a sheet from the bed where she had received Marcus's "essence" and tied up the sheet and dumped it out a window. She didn't know where or when it dropped, but it wasn't there anymore.

By then Carol remembered everything, including what Marcus had done to her and what Mystique had done to Michael. She was angered, she was anguished, she was more than a little terrified, and she was alone.

She threw back her head, her eyes shut tight, and hollered, "DAMN YOU, IMMORTUS!"

Somebody answered back.

"Why damn me?" said a man. "What have I done / will I do to you?"

She opened her eyes and there, standing before her, was a man in a green and purple uniform with a big purple helmet of some sort on his head. He was an older man, but his face looked familiar.

It was like Marcus's, only aged quite a bit.

Carol launched herself forward, found nothing where the man had been an instant before, and crashed into the fluctuating wall of Marcus's palace. She was hurt a bit, and whipped her head around and saw the man standing on the opposite side of the room. Carol gathered her legs under herself in preparation for another leap.

He held up his hand. "I can teleport away from you many more times than you can leap at me," he said. "And you will probably hurt yourself doing so. Let us talk. This is my son's house. Has he done something to you?"

Carol stood, quivering with effort, and fixed the man with the most baleful stare he had seen in eons.

"Your son raped me," she said. "And he raped my mind."

Immortus looked quite concerned. Then he materialized two chairs, facing each other, and sat down in one. He gestured to her. "Come. Sit, and tell me."

"If you try anything with my mind, I'll kill you," she said, and sat.

When she had finished her tale, Carol was gratified to learn that he seemed chagrined, just a bit. "This is not a thing I would have done," he said, though he did not delineate what he would have done, specifically.

She waited for him to speak again.

"I cannot undo what he has done. Do you wish to return home?"

"I insist on returning home," she said, quietly, staring at him.

"Do you wish your memories of this incident cleansed?"

"Not a bit," Carol snarled. "I want to remember this. I want to remember everything."

Which was quite ironic, in view of what came afterward. But if Immortus knew about that, he did not tell her.

"I will send you back to your plane," said Immortus. "But one oath I require of you: that you not tell the Avengers, or any other, of my involvement. It does not please me for them to learn of my continued existence at the time to which I will send you."

"I won't tell them about you," said Carol. "I'll say I got myself back, somehow. But, at any rate, you don't have to worry. I don't want to see the Avengers again."

To that, Immortus said nothing. So perhaps he did know something of what would happen to Carol when she went back to Earth.

Instead, he simply said, "Very well. Goodbye."

And Carol Danvers disappeared from Limbo, never to return.

She found herself back in her old apartment, some three months after the time of her leaving. None of her furniture was there, none of her belongings. Thankfully, no one was in at the time to whom Ms. Marvel would have had to explain her existence.

Carol went to a window, raised it, went out, closed it behind her, and flew to Boston. Her mother knew of her Ms. Marvel identity, even if her father didn't. So she approached Marie Danvers when Joe wasn't at home, and Marie had dropped the pan in which she had been making lunch, and both of them had hugged and cried on each other's shoulder for awhile.

Before Joe came back from work, Carol had changed into a dress that Marie provided, and found that her dad was also mighty glad to see her, so she gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and he hugged her back in his brawny construction-man's arms.

"Where've you been?" said Joe. "You weren't at home. We had to get your stuff. It's in storage. We couldn't even get a straight answer out of the number you gave us to call. Hell, we were about to get a lawyer and a private eye and start suing and searching."

"It's been awhile, Dad," said Carol. "I got a case of partial amnesia." She wasn't lying, and Joe knew it, but also knew that there was more than what she proceeded to tell him. Yes, she had been writing since losing her job at Woman. Finally, after some more evasion, Joe said, quietly, "Carol, it isn't a guy, is it?"

She bit her lip and nodded. "Yeah. But he's gone now."

"And is there some more stuff that's, you know--" Joe's voice left it hanging.

Carol said, "There's a lot of stuff that has to remain secret, Dad."

Joe looked at her and thought of the CIA, and neither Carol nor Marie would have dissuaded him from that belief. Heck, the Company probably asked her to do something else for them, thought Joe, and she ran into something pretty tough doing it.

Joe said, "You're not involved with that stuff anymore, are you?"

Smiling, Carol had said, "No, Dad. Never again."

And she thought that, after all this hell, she was due a little heaven at last.

In her statement, and in her thought, she was, of course, totally wrong.


Continued in Chapter 3.


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