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Shining Light of the Quasar

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Bar Harbor, Maine

May 1977

Under a tranquil sunset in a hot summer day, two teenage girls, one blonde and the other brunette, were sitting behind a tree that overlooks a vast ocean bay. The two were in the backyard of the blonde's house laughing and making pleasant conversation.

The two girls, Carol Danvers and Avril Kincaid, seemed to be a normal pair of best friends at first glance. While this is true, there is more to their relationship than meets the eye.

Avril laughed. "No! Really? Did he really?"

Carol nodded. "Yup! He did!"

"Louis Lee actually tried to bribe you with free donuts to make you go out on a date with him?", Avril asked.

"Yeah, he did. And they were the good donuts too. His family recipe with glaze and chocolate sauce. I was really tempted to say yes so that I can get my hands on them, but then I realized that it would be a real jerk move to toy with a guy's feelings for free food, so I said no. Unfortunately, Louis started crying."

"Man, that must have been really awkward," Avril hummed amusingly.

"I actually feel kinda guilty about it. I've been teasing Louis ever since we were little kids. I probably gave him the wrong signals or something."

"Don't feel too guilty, Carol," Avril said with an encouraging nudge to the shoulder, "You turned him down, because you didn't want to be his girlfriend. You shouldn't apologize for that."

"I know, Avie," Carol nodded in agreement, "I just feel bad that I had to hurt his feelings a little. He's a friend, you know."

"At least it's an honest hurting," Avril stated firmly, "Is he over it?"

"Not totally, but he's getting there," Carol said with an optimistic smile, "I told him that I'll always be his friend, and that we could go out platonically as friends to that nerdy movie coming out this weekend. 'Star... Combat' I think it was called? He hugged me when I said that, so I think we're gonna be okay."

"Good on him," Avril nodded with approval before sighing, "Why can't all the boys in school take rejection well like him? Instead, we have a collection of jerks and jocks like Billy Loomer. Ugh!"

"Ah yes, I remember his little tantrum when you said you weren't interested in him. He called you... well, a lot of things," Carol said hesitantly.

"Bitch. He called me a bitch," Avril said more frankly, "And then you socked him across the jaw when he wouldn't leave me alone. Sorry you got detention, though."

Carol shrugged. "Don't be, Avie. You... you're worth it."

She stared at Avril solemnly and with a very loving glace. Avril blushed. 'A loving glance'... was Carol looking like her in that way? Avril so wanted that to be the case, but she wouldn't dare act on these feelings. They weren't proper. Girls weren't supposed to like other girls.

Right?

Avril blushed and looked away shyly.

A pang of regret ran through Carol. "Did I mess up?", Carol thought before asking aloud, "Avie, I... are you okay? I didn't make you uncomfortable, did I?"

Avril shook her head. "No, no. Why would I? You gave me a compliment. Why would I feel uncomfortable about that? You're my best friend. I love you."

Avril immediately covered her mouth once she realized what she had just said. She shied away from Carol's shocked gaze as she internally chastised herself for slipping up.

Carol asked, "Avie... are you... do you really mean that?"

"M-Maybe...", she responded hesitantly, "If... if you want me to. Um, do you want me to?"

A million thoughts were racing through Carol's mind at the moment. Some of them wanted her to slow down. To think before she acts, or else they might get in trouble. Most of them, however, wanted to throw caution to the wind and give these weird and wonderful emotions a chance.

If Carol was being completely honest with herself, she has been in love with her best friend for the longest time. Out of all her friends, Avril was the one whom she shared the most intimate connection with. She was pretty and smart, but more than that, Avril was a good friend who was always there when Carol needed her whether it was by being a patient ear when she complained about mean girls and chauvinistic jocks or as a shoulder to lean on when her father hit her.

To Carol, Avril was everything she ever wanted in a romantic partner. None of the boys she knew came close to her level in her mind. It was sad and infuriating to hide these feelings from her, but maybe now...

Carol took a deep breath and smiled. She cupped Avril's cheek like she would a thousand times in her dreams. "I want to, Avie. I... I love you too."

"Carol...", Avril said breathlessly and with disbelief.

The two friends stared at each other for moment with love and hesitation in equal measure in their eyes. They both want this. They both want to be more than just friends to each other. But no one in their town could ever understand what the two feel for one another. Would they even want to? With the threat of ridicule and ostracism looming if they were ever exposed, would this love be worth it?

Carol answered this question by closing in and claiming her best friend's lips with her own. When Avril returned that kiss with equal passion, the world seemed to fade away at that moment and everything just felt... right. Like nothing could ever go wrong.

Until they did.


Three Days Later

Carol laid in bed for the entire morning, curled up into a ball and crying her eyes out. Everything that she had feared about being outed turned out to be far worse than she imagined.

Her father had walked into her and Avril kissing behind the tree. To say that he was furious was putting things lightly. He couldn't step in to break up their moment faster as she pushed Avril away from Carol. He landed a couple hits on Avril in his rage, the kind of treatment he would usually reserve for his kids when they required "discipline". He yelled at her, called her all manner of slurs and insults as he told her to stay away from his daughter as if he actually cared for her. Joseph even went so far as to threaten to beat Avril up if she didn't get out of his property this instant. Carol tried to intervene and beg her father stop hurting the love of her life, only to get the back of his hand for all her trouble.

Avril had to leave after that, and Carol spent the rest of the day alone to wallow and curse herself for letting her love get hurt like that. This incident could've just been another in a long list of Joseph's silent abuses, but the man just had to escalate matters. Because loving someone from the same gender was so much more horrendous than abusing your own children for years, right?

At least, that's what Joseph thought when he told Avril's parents about what he saw.

Carol wasn't around when Avril's parents confronted her about her... preferences. She didn't even know that they knew until a couple nights ago when her best friend snuck out of her house to tearfully confide in her. Carol didn't know how it exactly went down or what was said, but she knew what had happened.

Avril's parents had disowned her. They said that she was going to Hell for feeling the way she does and that she wasn't their daughter anymore.

She was basically dead to them now, and they spent the next day arranging for her to move in with her uncle in New York.

Avril just felt... lost after that fateful meeting. Broken. Carol and her friends tried to cheer her up on her last day in town by going to the movies and doing whatever she wanted. However, no matter how much Avril wanted to pretend that everything is fine, she couldn't. Because her life will never be the same again. She felt like less of a person because of this, and Carol could see it in her eyes.

And it broke her heart all over again.

Carol was there to see Avril off the next morning. They exchanged heartfelt goodbyes to one another before she went inside her parent's white car and left Carol's life. Probably for good.

Needless to say, the event put Carol in a dark mood, perhaps the darkest in her young life. When her father began to sanctimoniously lecture her about how wrong her feelings were, Carol couldn't help but yell back and blaming him for getting rid of the one good thing she had in this town.

"I hate you!", she remembered yelling at him. Carol had wanted to say that to his face for a long time, but she never had the courage, or perhaps the raw vitriol, to do so until now.

Joseph responded by slapping her and calling her an ungrateful brat. He told Carol that she should consider herself lucky that he didn't out her as well and ruin her reputation.

Emotionally exhausted and having nothing left to say to that man, Carol ran off and locked herself inside her room. She had been crying and wallowing in her misery for about four hours now.

Carol rubbed the red mark that her father made on her cheek when she heard a knock on her door. She sniffed and called out to whoever was outside. "Go away..."

"Carol?", a softer voice called back, "I heard about what happened."

"I just wanna be alone, ma," Carol said facing away from the door, "I don't want another lecture..."

"Carol, honey, I know you don't," Marie said as gently as she could, "I'm sorry about what happened. I just... I wanted to make sure you're okay. If you wanna talk... well, you can vent on me if you want. You'll talk and I'll just listen. I care about you, sweetie."

Carol lied there for a moment or two, internally debating with herself. She ultimately decided to get up and walk towards the door. She unlocked the door and opened it to see her mother, looking down on her with gentle blue eyes and a sad expression.

Carol rubbed her reddened eyes and walked back to her bed. Marie closed the door behind her as she followed her daughter. She sat next to Carol, who was slumped down and suppressing her tears.

Marie told her, "I'm sorry about what happened to Avril. What happened... it wasn't fair. To either of you."

"I loved her, ma," Carol said sorrowfully, "I... I loved her."

"I know, dear."

"Why did she have to go away? She was a good person, a good friend. Is... is what we have so wrong?"

"Sweetie...", Marie said wrapping her arm around her daughter's shoulders, "It isn't. Of course it isn't."

"Then why did Avie's parents say that she was going to Hell?", Carol said feeling the anger within her chest rise, "Why did Dad have to hit me? Why did he call me a...", she then sat down in silence for a moment as she let her tears stream down her face, "I don't get it. None of this would've happened if Avie was a guy. Why was it so wrong that I loved a girl?"

"Carol, I...", Marie said stumbling to say the right words for her hurting daughter, "There's nothing wrong about your feelings. Your love for Avril is just as valid if you had loved a boy. It's just... many people just don't understand the love you two have for one another. And what they don't understand, they fear and eventually hate. I know it's not fair, but that's just how it is."

"I don't care about all that!", Carol shouted still sniffling, "I just want Avie back! I want my best friend back! I wish... I wish I didn't screw everything up! It's all my fault, ma! I kissed her, and now... now I ruined her life!"

"Oh Carol, come here...", Marie said as she wrapped her daughter in a warm embrace and let her cry into her shoulder. Marie whispered to her softly, "I'm so sorry you have go through this. I wish... I have the words to make all of this right, but I don't. All I can say is that I love you. No matter what happens, no matter who you choose to love, I'll love you regardless. And I promise... things will get better one day. I know it will."

Carol stayed silent as she continued cry. She held her mother tightly as let out the sorrow that she had kept inside through her tears. All Marie could do now was caress her daughter's hair and stay with her for as long as she needed.

In her heart, Carol hoped that what her mother had said is true. But at the moment, she doubted her and would continue to hate herself for letting all of this happen.


Galador

October 1997

"Ms. Danvers, you can come in now," a voice called from behind the door.

Carol shook out of her thoughtful daze as she entered the veterinarian's office. She saw a human-looking alien with a blue undercut and doctor's coat. She was standing next to her pet flerken, Goose, who was laying down on a bed.

Carol asked the Galadorian vet, "So what's wrong with her, doc?"

The vet caressed the fur on Goose's back, making her let out a satisfied pur, as she told Carol, "She just has some minor throat pains. Nothing serious. I have to ask, has Goose been eating any green vegetables recently?"

Carol picked her brain for information before saying, "Well, I think my daughter has been feeding Goose her veggies while I wasn't looking."

The vet nodded in understanding. "I see. Well, I have to tell you that the chlorophyll in green vegetables acts as an allergen for flerkens."

"I thought the interdimensional portals inside their stomachs allow flerkens to break down anything," Carol said as if it's the most normal thing in the world.

"Yes, but the chlorophyll often sticks to their respiratory tract, which can produce minor redness and pain," the vet then gave Carol a plastic bag, "I have some medicine to help with her pain. Just follow the instructions I provided for the dosages. In the future, please make sure that Goose doesn't eat any more green vegetables."

"Got it, boss," Carol said as she hung the bag around her wrist. She then walked over to the bed and gently carried her alien cat in her arms. She whispered to her, "Let's go, girl."

Goose let out a meow as she settled in her master's arms.


After buying some cat toys from the clinic's store, Carol walked out of the building and into the shuttle lot (the space version of parking lots for smaller space vessels). She carefully removed one of her arms from Goose to pick up the keys to the green rental Talos loaned her. Carol unlocked her shuttle and opened the front door.

"Come on, Goose. Settle down on the passenger seat this time," Carol remarked.

Goose opened her eyes and glared at her master for a moment. She let out a low growl, as if saying, "Don't tell me what to do, human," before jumping out of her arms and pouncing on the passenger's seat as instructed before curling up into a ball and resuming her nap.

Carol chuckled. "Lazy cat..."

She placed her two plastic bags in the floor next to Goose's seat. Before she could step inside the driver's seat, a most curious sight caught Carol's eye.

She saw the vet from earlier stepping out of the clinic. Carol guessed that her shift had just ended. The vet walked towards a particular shuttle in the front row. She eyed a Skrull woman leaning next to the shuttle. They both have happy smirks on their faces as the Galadorian vet leaned into the Skrull woman before placing a passionate kiss on her lips.

Carol spied on their moment from afar, feeling a pang of jealousy in her heart. If she ever kissed Maria like that in public, her beloved would've been fired from her job for violating Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would make it harder for Maria to find another job with that on her record, and Monica would be forced to live with the stigma of having two mothers and may even be kicked out of her private school. The hiding was a sad but unfortunately necessary part of their lives. However, that's not the case in Galador.

Here, men and women were free to love whomever they want, regardless of gender, without fear of ostracism. Those two women are allowed to love each other without the fear of losing their livelihoods over it... or fear being rejected by their own families.

Carol didn't want this to bother her. She wanted to feel some level happiness for the alien couple for having a freedom that she and Maria might never enjoy. However, she can't help but feel envious. She couldn't help but be jealous that those two women never had to restrain themselves in public, fearing that one wrong look from the wrong person might cost them everything. And Carol can't help but think about her doomed relationship with Avril Kincaid, her best friend whose life she ruined when Joseph caught them kissing.

Carol didn't want to feel this way, but she couldn't help but fear about what her love may cost Maria and Monica or how it hurt Avril.

Carol sighed wistfully before sitting on the pilot's seat of her shuttle. She slumped into her seat to brood for a moment. Goose seemed to sense her master's sudden sorrow as she got up from her nap and walked up to Carol. The flerken rubbed her head against Carol's arm, purring, as if to comfort her.

Carol looked down and met her cat's gaze. She managed to crack a small smile and rub the back of Goose's ears.

"Glad to know you have my back, girl," Carol said softly. Goose then meowed before swatting her paw down on Carol's arm and returning back to her spot to resume her nap. Apparently, the flerken has spent her allotted 'good cat seconds' for the week. Carol shook her head and mumbled amusingly to herself, "Never change, Goose."

Carol started her shuttle's engines when she received an incoming transmission from the built-in screen on the dashboard. She smiled when she saw that the call is from Earth and on Maria's frequency number.

Carol tapped the answer button right away and said, "Hey babe, what's up?"

Maria's face displayed on the screen as she said, "I'm just calling to ask what's wrong with Goose. Monica's been worried sick over her all day now."

Carol tisked playfully. "And here I thought you were calling because you miss little old me. I'm hurt."

Maria smirked back. "I just saw you this morning, Carol. I like you, but I'm not that clingy."

"Really? I guess I'm not as charming as I thought, huh?", Carol joked.

"In your dreams maybe," Maria remarked before asking, "So, what's the prognosis for Goose?"

"Oooh, it's bad. I don't think she's gonna make it," Carol teased, "I think we might have to put her down."

Goose quick rose from her nap to shoot her master a quick glare and a displeased meow before going back to sleep. Both Carol and Maria chuckled at this.

"Seriously," Maria started to say, "What's wrong with her?"

"It's just a small allergic reaction. Apparently, flerkens are allergic to the chlorophyll in green vegetables," Carol explained before shrugging, "Who knew?"

"Damn. Really?"

Carol nodded. "Yup. Apparently, the most dangerous cats in the galaxy can survive having a radioactive space box shoved inside their stomachs, but leafy greens are enough to make them sick. Kind of a weaksauce weakness if you ask me."

"I'll say. Looks like I got to break the news to Monica that she actually has to eat her vegetables for now on."

"Make sure to tell the Lieutenant as gently as possible, alright?"

"I don't know. I should probably lecture her about the importance of eating your vegetables, and tell her how wrong it was to try to weasel out of your responsibilities..."

Carol then put on a sad pout for the screen. The kind of sad pout a puppy does to guilt trip its owner to do what it wants.

Maria winced. "Come on. What are you? Five? Please stop..."

Carol ignored her love's orders and continued pouting.

Maria sighed. "How is it that you're both the love of my life and the bane of my existence?", she said under her breath before saying, "Fine! I'll lay off for the lecture for now. But just so you know, if I find any lettuce in the trash bin, I'm blaming you."

"Noted," Carol nodded. A notification then blinked on the top right corner of the screen, catching her attention. From the strip of text accompanying it, Carol could see who it was from. She said to Maria, "Talos is calling. I gotta take this, hun."

Maria nodded in understanding. "Okay. Just make sure you come back with a souvenir after you save the galaxy again. Monica's birthday is coming up soon, and she's obsessed with anything alien."

"Yes ma'am," Carol said with a coy salute. She then took a couple seconds to really take in her beloved's beautiful brown eyes. In that moment, love and fear filled Carol's heart in equal measure. Love for the woman that captured her heart and for the family they had made for themselves. But also, Carol feared losing everything that they had built together, and that wasn't the kind of fear that she could solve with a punch or an energy blast. A torrent of emotions flowed within Carol, and all she could do was gaze at her love and say, "I love you, and I always will. You know that, right?"

Taken off guard, Maria replied, "Uh... yeah. I love you too. Stay... stay safe out there, okay?"

Carol nodded solemnly. "Roger that."

She then closed the transmission. Carol took a deep breath to calm herself down before putting on her casual hero face and pressing the notification button to pick up Talos' call.

The Skrull high chancellor filled the video screen as he greeted Carol, "Hello Danvers. Ready to save the galaxy?"

"Always," Carol hummed playfully as her brooding romantic thoughts were forcefully shoved into the back of her mind, "What do you have for me today, boss?"

"A group of Kree are trying to escape the empire and defect to Xandar. I want you to make sure they get to Xandarian space safely."

Carol raised her brow. "I didn't know you care so much about random Kree."

"These 'random Kree' happened to have been my inside source into the empire's activities in the war. Their intel helped save almost as many lives as you, Carol."

"Really? I can't say I appreciate having competition for the title of 'most helpful Kree defector'. I thought I'm supposed to be your token Kree friend, Talos."

He laughed. "Well, I'm sorry to say that you're not that special. But in all seriousness, I want to make sure that these Kree cross over the border safely. Think of it as a personal favor for a friend."

"Okay, I'll bite. What's so special about these Kree that would bump up this mission from 'standard fare' to 'special favor'?"

Talos took a deep breath. "These Kree are a part of a noble house..."

"Oh yes, nobles," Carol scoffed, "Give me another reason why I should leave those snobs high and dry, Talos. I'd appreciate it."

Talos rolled his eyes and continued, "They are part of House Vell. As in Mar-Vell's family. She gave so much for our cause. She saved my family... at the cost of her own life. It's only fair that I save hers. They're my family too, so please, keep them safe for me."

Carol sighed as she dwelled in her thoughts for a moment. Mar-Vell, whom she knew best as Wendy Lawson, was something of a mentor figure to Carol. She was the person Carol admired the most, even above her own mother. She had given Carol and Maria a chance to make a difference when no one else in the Air Force wanted to. Lawson was always there to encourage Carol to always keep flying no matter what, even if it felt that the entire world wanted to keep her grounded. She gave Carol's beloved the leave she needed to have their daughter, and when she discovered their relationship, Doctor Lawson accepted Carol and kept her secret from the rest of base. In a weird way, Doctor Lawson was the parent Carol wished her father was.

Then she died, and Carol couldn't save her.

"Another person I've let down...", Carol thought ruefully before facing Talos again and saying, "Alright, you convinced me. Where are they?"

"During my last talk with the head of House Vell, she mentioned that her family will be using a rather obscure network of jump points known as the Dragon's Path. They are using a frigate class starship for this voyage. I believe it's called the Martyr."

"The Martyr?", Carol said disbelieving, "They are trying to get out of Kree space alive on a ship called the Martyr? Are these guys trying to tempt fate?"

Talos shrugged. "I guess so. You know how Kree are. They just love plastering their grim-dark attitude over everything."

Carol opened her mouth to try to object to that, but then she remembered that Kree idea of fun was dying for the empire and her suggestion on taking a vacation from the war was met with baffled looks from her former Starforce squad. The kind of look you give to someone who told you that they hate weekend breaks.

She shrugged. "Yeah, you're right."

Talos smirked. "I recommend you enter the Dragon's Path via the jump point near Knowhere. From there, you should snake through the trail until you find the Martyr. Escort the ship from the Path to the Vekta Nebula in Xandarian space. I made arrangements with the Nova Corps to meet them there."

"Got it, boss," Carol hummed before engaging her shuttle's flight controls.

"And Danvers...", Talos started to say before his nerves started to get the better of him. After a moment, he just sighed and said, "Take good care of them, okay?"

Carol nodded. "Don't worry. I will."

The transmission ended there.

As Carol's shuttle roared and began floating off the ground, she looked over to the side to see Goose still curled up in a ball. She gently stroked her back and asked, "Are you up for a little adventure, girl?"

With her eyes still closed, Goose let out an irritated meow before scratching Carol's arm. Carol's superhuman strength made sure that the flerken's razor-sharp claws only lightly bruised her arm, but she still winced back her hand.

She glared at her grumpy alien cat. "A simple 'no' would've sufficed."


After arriving in the Knowhere system, Carol flew her shuttle over to a nearby pitstop station in another system to park her vehicle and let Goose nap in peace. The toll per hour was pretty reasonable, and Carol was reasonably sure that the small space station was safe enough from thieves and shipjackers. Even if some of Knowhere's miscreants decided to pay the station a visit, Carol was confident that Goose would make short work of anyone trying to steal her ride.

After making a quick visit to the gift shop to buy a Ravager statuette for Monica, Carol changed into her uniform and flew out the station in a bright gold aura, surprising a few of the less experienced travellers. She flew straight towards the nearby jump point at supersonic speeds. Putting on her helmet, Carol pushed through the jump point and launched herself over several lightyears.

Going through a jump point was hard enough for humanoid bodies when they are behind a shielded spacecraft, but interfacing with it directly should be impossible or at least be a one-way trip for any fool attempting it. However, Carol Danvers was no ordinary human.

She endured the intense gravitational pressure and reality warping of the jump point through her own immense strength and stamina before popping up on the other side no worse for wear.

"Bleegh!"

Well... mostly.

Carol gagged and threw up half her stomach's contents into the void. She shook her head due to the nausea caused by the jump as she watched the greenish brown liquid that was formerly in her stomach turn into smooth spheres and float serenely into space. Despite her near invulnerability, a direct jaunt through a jump point had its side effects.

"I suppose I should be lucky that all it did was make my stomach sick," she said grimacing.

Carol then steeled herself as she began flying all over the region of space she found herself in. Hopefully, the Martyr managed to make it far enough that she wouldn't need to go through any more jump points...


Unfortunately, the universe decided that it wanted to toy with Carol Danvers in the cruelest way possible. The Martyr wasn't in the space sector that Carol found herself in. Nor was it in the second sector... or third, fourth, or fifth. After hours of traversing several lightyears of space, Carol couldn't find a black and red Kree frigate anywhere.

Well, she did find one in the Kay'oh quadrant, but Carol doubted that the Martyr, personal starship of noble house Vell, would be piloted by a drunk Groot and staffed by dirty looking aliens in red leather jackets. And she was only guessing here, but Carol was pretty sure that such a distinguished ship wouldn't have a giant painting of a red haired Terran woman in a skimpy chainmail bikini plastered on its broadside.

Yeah, Carol had no luck finding the Martyr in the last five sectors. To make things worse, she had to go through six more jump points with the other two times being when she went off the wrong direction. As a result, Carol felt like a kid with motion sickness going through a roller coaster only a hundred times worse.

After going through her latest jump point, Carol vomited for the fourth time before deciding to give herself a short break. She floated off to the opposite direction of her vomit and dimmed her bright glow. She laid back and allowed herself to float aimlessly into the universe like she would in a pool.

Carol closed her eyes and tried to will her body and mind to get their acts together. All the while, she cursed to herself, "Damn you, Goose! You're off sitting comfortably in my shuttle, while I'm forced to puke out my guts on these damn jump points! Ungrateful cat! I take you to the vet, paid for your expensive medicine, and this is how you repay me?! Oh wait... you hate both those things. I guess I did have this coming. But I'm still pissed that you hogged the shuttle to yourself!"

Carol let out a big sigh as she stared into the void. "Though, the stars do look pretty from out here, don't they? They're a lot brighter here, and they feel... closer. Like I'm in a shower of white light or some other poetic crap like that. I wish I had my camera. Maria would've loved this. And so would Monica. And Avril...", Carol closed her eyes and tried to shake off a different kind of uneasiness, "Damn it, Carol... why did you have to go there? Just be happy that you got your happy ending with Maria and get on with your life. The happy ending Avie never..."

Tears began flowing down Carol's cheeks as a sharp pang of guilt gripped her chest. Gritting her teeth, Carol wiped away her tears and realigned her body into her flight position before blasting off into space faster than before.

In that moment, Carol forgot her mission as she tried to outrun her feelings, her pain, and especially her guilt. The guilt of costing her first love her relationship with her parents. The guilt of letting her Avie get ostracized for being true to her heart. And the guilt of having the happy ending she always wanted despite her role in ruining Avril Kincaid's life.

It got... intense at points.

Carol only remembered her mission when her wrist device picked up a faint transmission. Stopping in place, Carol briefly slapped her cheeks to get a grip on herself before lifting up her wrist to hear the transmission, which came from a male voice.

"This is the refugee craft, the Martyr. We under attack. I repeat, we are under attack! We are being chased by Kree Accusers, and we require immediate aid. The entirety of noble house Vell is on board, and we will compensate any who would..."

That was all Carol needed to hear. She pressed a few icons on her wrist device to track the signal of the distress beacon. When it was done, Carol used the map interface in her helmet's HUD to help race towards the Martyr as soon as possible.

Carol crossed a few lightyears in under a minute as she blazed a golden trail across the stars. When she was within a few klicks of her intended destination, she slowed down to see a rather disturbing sight.

It was the Martyr, and it was currently held in stasis by a pair of tractor beams. The beams came from two battlecruiser class Accuser ships (which admittedly were a lot smaller than the planet cleansing dreadnoughts that the Accusers were infamous for), who surrounded the smaller ship from both its front and its back like a pair of bullies cornering their victim in an alley. The Accuser ships were currently pelting the Martyr with volleys of missiles, which exploded with enough firepower to decimate an entire city. Thankfully, the nobles of House Vell were rich enough to equip their escape ship with high-quality shields before leaving Hala, but Carol could see that this relentless assault has drained those shields to the low five percent range. When those shields go, then the Accusers will have an easy time tearing up the Martyr with their heavy weapons.

Fortunately for House Vell, their hero has experience dealing with Accuser ships.

Carol was ready to charge in and deal with the nearest battlecruiser with an energized punched when that ship suddenly exploded from the inside. The imposing Kree war machine burned in a bright blue ball of flame before it bursted open and shredded the ship into a million pieces, which shut off one of tractor beams holding the Martyr.

Out of the smoke was a humanoid figure, a female, flying straight into the last Accuser ship in a bright azure glow at speeds faster than the most advanced fighter jet. Carol entertained the thought of suing this woman for copyright infringement as she took a closer look at this female champion.

She was a Terran woman with long brunette hair tied into a braid. She wore a blue cape with a hood attached along with a sleeveless blue and black outfit with a white star on her chest and a pair of blue bracers that glowed in a way that made Carol think that they were the source of this heroine's powers.

Carol could step in right now, but the multiple jumps made her a little bit too queasy. This female champion also seemed to know what she's doing, so Carol was hanging back to let her do her thing. She could always pitch in if the newbie was having trouble.

After seeing what the female champion had done to its companion, the remaining Accuser ship launched a wave of fighters from its hangars to try to shoot this new enemy. The woman simply responded firing azure energy blasts from her fists, easily blowing up any nearby fighters in her way, as she continued to fly at the bigger ship at high speeds.

However, when the fighters began firing back, the female champion had to slow down dodge the oncoming flurry of laser bolts headed her way. Eventually, the remaining fighters began circling around the woman like vultures, surrounding her, as they began firing lasers and missiles at her.

The woman had to stop outright and shift herself up in an upright position as flipped and swayed to dodge all the projectiles flying at her. Despite her distressing situation, the champion had an aura of serene calm about her as she gracefully moved her body away from the weapons fire and even the charging bodies of the fighters themselves with the grace of a ballerina. Eventually, she did a backflip to dodge a missile before curling up into a ball as her bracers glowed and formed a protective blue sphere around her body.

With their enemy seemingly stationary like a sitting duck, the Kree fighters stopped circling around the woman to hover in place and begin fire unrelenting volleys of automatic blaster fire. Despite the overwhelming firepower in display, the champion's shield held despite the laser bolts sparking against its surface. After a half of minute of non-stop laser fire, the woman's protective sphere held and even glowed brighter with each passing second.

The sphere glowed brighter and brighter like a brilliant azure sun before it suddenly exploded like a supernova that consumed all the fighters in cosmic fire. The explosion shredded the fighters, reducing them to burnt scrap metal, allowing the champion to continue flying towards the Accuser ship.

The battlecruiser deactivated its tractor beam as it devotes its focus on firing everything it has at the flying woman like a desperate and cornered animal. The ship seemed to unload its entire arsenal at the female champion from photon torpedoes, heavy laser bolts, plasma shells, and even its anti-fighter missiles at her. But the woman seemed to anticipate every projectile before it could hit her as she danced through the void with ease, avoiding every attack as she blazes a trail through the dark like a shooting star.

Once she's at striking distance to the ship, the champion managed to manipulate her azure energy to create an intricate sword construct. She dove down the nose of the ship before blasting off along its undercarriage. As she does so, the female champion dragged her sword construct across its hull, slicing open the metal like a hot knife through butter, sparking small explosions on the belly as damaged mechanisms start to short circuit wildly. When the woman made it to the other side of the ship, she turned around and saw that her sword created a deep trench into Accuser ship, which had embers that burned a bright orange.

She then transformed her sword construct into a shoulder-mounted photon cannon about the size of a small car. The champion aimed her massive weapon over to where the engine room should be and fired a devastating wave of azure energy. The energy wave pierced through the weak point that the champion made with her sword as it punched through the metal with ease and tore the ship from within, vaporizing anything and anyone its path. When the blast reached the ship's engines, the energy collided with the combustible fuel of the ship and triggered a chain reaction that caused the battlecruiser to split in two and explode in a fiery ball of death.

Carol sat back and watched this spectacular sight both astonished and slightly intimidated that another overpowered woman exists that could give her a run for her money. The woman flew out of the smoke cloud as she panted in exertion and looked back at the wreckage she had made. A small frown etched her face as if she regrets that she had end so many lives today.

Carol floated closer to her. The woman felt her coming near, so she turned around to face the famous Captain Marvel.

With the champion's face clear for her to see, Carol held her breath as she realized who this person is.

"Avie?", Carol said before her helmet retreated back into her suit, exposing her face.

Avril took a moment to a look at Carol's shocked face. When she realized who she was looking at, Avril smiled and said, "Hey there, Ace. Long time no see."


Once the Martyr had been saved, the two superheroines flew into the frigate, where they recieved a hero's welcome by the crew. Genis-Vell, the man who had sent out the distress signal, led the two women into the breakroom to wait as he went to fetch the head of House Vell to greet their saviors properly.

This gave Carol and Avril plenty of time to catch up.

The two were sitting on a couch as they waited. The two hadn't talked since coming inside the Martyr, so an awkward silence ensued.

Thankfully, Carol broke it by saying, "So... you have powers now?"

Avril sighed as she explained, "Not quite. It's all in these bands that I'm wearing. The Quantum Bands. They channel energy from a dimension called the Quantum Realm, and they allow me to fly and manipulate energy among other things," she then took a quick look at Carol's outfit, "So you're the famous Captain Marvel that I've been hearing so much about. You've certainly come along way from being the local tomboy."

Carol laughed. "Yeah, the last few years have certainly been interesting. I was actually an Air Force pilot first."

"Congratulations," Avril said with a warm smile, "It must be nice to achieve that dream."

Carol shrugged. "Well, the dream wasn't what I thought it would be. Half the time, I felt that no one wanted me there. Too many sexist pigs in important places. You know how it is," Avril hummed in agreement, "But it wasn't all bad. My last boss was actually pretty cool, and the gig did lead me to better things."

Avril chuckled. "Like becoming female Luke Skywalker?"

"That and...", Carol then hummed with a soft fondness, "It led me to my girlfriend... and our daughter."

A proud smile then graced Avril's face. "I'm so happy for you, Carol! That sounds... I'm so glad you get your happily ever after."

"Yeah. It's not always easy being together, but... being with Maria and raising Monica are worth it. And I believe it with all my heart," Carol's smile then dropped as she rubbed the back of her neck and asked sheepishly, "So... did you find anyone special?"

Avril shook her head. "No. I can't find the time. Too focused on my career, I guess."

"Being a superhero?"

"That and my day job working for my uncle's security company," Avril let out an exhaustive sigh as she slumped into her couch, "Between him and Eon, free time has become a scarce commodity, you know?"

"Eon?"

"He's an otherworldly being who lives in the Quantum Realm. He made the Quantum Bands, and actually talks to me through them. He gives me some sage advice sometimes and alerts me to cosmic threats."

Carol shook her head with an amused smile. "Speaking of, how did you get to be like... this? You're like blue me, but less..."

"Reckless?", Avril teased.

"I was gonna say 'explosively awesome', but that works too," Carol snarked back.

Avril explained, "Believe or not, these Quantum Bands are a family heirloom. Uncle Wendell was the first person to wield these bands, and with them, he became the intergalactic superhero, Quasar. That's my codename too by the way."

"Quasar... it has a nice ring to it. I like it," Carol nodded.

"Thanks," Avril continued, "He saved my life, you know. A month after I... moved away, I was approached by a stalker. I rejected his advances, of course, but then he pulled out a knife. I was so scared. I thought I was gonna die, but then Uncle Wendell flew in as Quasar and blasted him away. Non-lethally, of course."

"That creep was lucky he didn't have me to deal with," Carol muttered, "I wouldn't have been as forgiving."

"I believe it," Avril hummed as she remembered all the times Carol stood up for her, "After that moment, he became my hero. I guess he was my hero before that, but I didn't realize it until then. He took me into his home when my parents didn't want me anymore. He never judged me for being... you know. And to top it all off, he saved my life and was actually a freaking superhero this entire time! That's when I decided that I was going to be like him when I grew up. A hero."

"And... you did," Carol said smiling.

"Yeah, I did," she nodded, "It didn't happen overnight obviously. For the longest time, Uncle Wendell didn't want me to have any part of his business. You know how parents are. So, I started to train. I took self-defense classes, trained in martial arts, and basically did everything I could to toughen myself up and prepare myself for the gig. I guess Uncle Wendell relented after a while, because he offered me a job at his security company after I graduated. He said he needed someone to take care of things on Earth while he was in space, so I stepped up. I really wanted to make him proud of me. I guess the security job was his way of training me, because one day, my uncle told me that he was getting too old to be Quasar. So... he gave the Quantum Bands to me. And... here I am."

"Yeah...", Carol hummed, "I guess life has been good to you since, well... everything."

Avril lowered her head. Her smile disappeared off her face as she explained, "Not at first. The first months of the move were... they were rough for me, and I was... I wasn't in the best state of mind. I didn't make any new friends, and rumors floated around that I was lesbian, so I was... not very liked. My parents wouldn't respond to my letters, so I just felt... lost. Like I was worthless... and wrong. So wrong on the inside for my... my feelings. Uncle Wendell was very supportive, but there was nothing he could say to make me feel better."

The guilt returned with a vengeance within Carol. She bit her lip as she chastised herself for letting her best friend and first love have to go through this.

"Avie... I'm so sorry about that day," Carol said as she tried to hold back her tears, "If I hadn't kissed you..."

"You don't have to apologize, Carol," Avril held her friend's shoulder as she said, "It wasn't your fault that my parents disowned me. It's all on them, and no one else."

"If it wasn't for me, your parents would've never sent you away..."

"And I wouldn't have come to live with my uncle or get the Quantum Bands. I admit, I would've liked having a normal, happy childhood with parents who didn't hate me, but that's not what I got. I did make peace with that, though. Eventually. And I made do with what I got. So please, don't feel bad about what happened that day. I'm okay now, and I believe that I'll get something even better one day. Like what you have with Maria."

"It's just... I've never stopped thinking about that day. I never stopped thinking about what I did wrong or what I should've done instead or..."

"Yeah... me too," Avril interrupted more calmly, "But the past is the past. There's no changing it. What matters is the present and the future. And my future looks bright. So please, stop worrying about me. I'll be fine."

Carol sighed. "I... I've been carrying this guilt for so long. And I've had so many regrets over the years. I try not to think about it, but I'm not sure I'll ever get past any of it."

"But you will," Avril stated firmly, "I know you will."

"How do you know?"

Avril smirked. "You've always been the stronger one out of the two of us, Carol, and... I have hope."

A small smile crept up in Carol's face. "I miss you."

"I missed you too," Avril said before the two friends went in for a warm hug.

When the two separated, Carol asked, "So, how did you managed to find your way to the Martyr?"

"The head of House Vell asked me to help protect her family in this journey. You?"

"Talos, the Skrull high chancellor, sent me here to do the same thing," Carol said before humming, "What a coincidence, huh?"

Avril shook her head. "Or maybe this is the universe wanting us to have this little reunion."

Carol shrugged. "Nah, this is probably just one big coincidence."

"Maybe, but I like my theory better," Avril remarked.

It was then that the head of House Vell, a white skinned Kree with white hair, entered the room. The two heroes stood up and walked over to greet her, but the Kree woman simply rushed over to Avril and said, "I was told you took on those two warships on your own. Are you okay? Did you get hurt?"

"I'm alright, Phyla. It was nothing that I haven't already done before," Avril said with a reassuring smile.

"I was just worried. I should've handled the situation better, you know. I should've seen those tractor beams coming, and I wish I didn't have to put you in so much danger all the time..."

Avril hushed her rambling by saying, "I'll always be there to come to your aid, my lady. You're important to me. Your safety, I mean."

"You're... important to me too. Av... Lady Quasar," Phyla said. As the two awkwardly stared at each other, Carol, who had been standing silently the entire time as a third wheel, loudly cleared her throat to remind them that she still exists. Phyla looked over at Carol and clumsily said, "Oh... I'm sorry. I... I appreciate you coming here, Captain Marvel. I'm Phyla-Vell, the captain of this ship and current head of noble house Vell. I'm glad Talos was able to send you to us."

"It was no trouble, though I didn't do anything. Quasar here did all the heavy lifting. I just watched. She was pretty amazing out there."

"I know she is," Phyla said taking a quick glance at Avril, "Well, feel free to explore the ship. I've made sure to let the staff know that they're at your disposal. Please, enjoy our hospitality. I'll go back to the bridge. If we run into any more trouble, you'll be the first to know."

"Got it, ma'am," Carol nodded.

"Thank you, Phyla," Avril said.

Phyla-Vell blushed when Avril glanced at her. "If you want talk with me more... please feel free to."

The head of House Vell then left to leave the two heroines alone.

Carol looked at her friend with a playful smirk. "So... you and Phyla-Vell seem... friendly."

"I guess you can say that. She used her position to give me info for my missions, and I do favors for her every now and again. It's a... mutually beneficial relationship."

"In more ways than one, I imagine," Carol teased.

Avril blushed in embarrassment. "It's... it's nothing like that! Don't get me wrong, Phyla is an amazing and beautiful woman, but we're just friends."

"Aw, you think she's beautiful!"

Avril shook her head as she walked towards the door. With a frown, she said, "You're the worst, Carol!"

Carol laughed as she followed her friend into the hallway.

Once the two superheroines helped escort the Martyr to Xandarian space, Carol told Avril about a Halloween party that Maria was hosting in her house next week. She extended Avril an invitation to meet her girlfriend and even offered her to stay over for a day to meet their daughter. Avril said that she will try to fit it in her schedule before they went their separate ways.

After everything they had went through since that day in Bar Harbor, Carol was glad to have her best friend back in her life. Although the pain of that day will always stay with the two women, its sting would fade with each passing day as they both lived their lives as best they could, knowing that they are right where they're supposed to be.

Carol flew back to her home with a more content heart than when she had left. However, she can't help but think that she forgotten something.


Back in the pitstop station in the Knowhere sector, a pair of Kree deserters had just arrived in a stolen shuttle after pissing off a Ravager boss. To avoid her wrath, the deserters decided to ditch the shuttle that they had been using and steal another one to fly as far as they could from her territory.

The Kree deserters, a man of the white skinned ethnic group and another of the blue skinned ethnic group, were skulking around to look for a functional shuttle that they can hotwire. After a good minute of searching, the two Kree found an inconspicuous green shuttle in the corner. It was a cheap model, and it was relatively easy to hijack. So like vultures, the Kree approached the vulnerable vehicle.

One of the Kree, a skinny blue guy with long black hair, knelt down and started to pick the lock of the driver seat as his partner, a bald and bulky white guy with a shank in his hand, played the lookout. As the scrawny guy fiddled around with the lock, the muscle man shook nervously as he watched out for bounty hunters.

He yelled at the skinny guy, "Will you hurry it up?! I can practically feel the Ravagers breathing down my neck!"

"Don't rush me!", the guy yelled back, "This shit is harder than it looks!"

The big man continued to watch over the lot with a twitchy look when he heard a loud click. The skinny guy smiled as he put his lockpick back in his jacket and opened the door.

"See? Told you I got this. Now give me a minute to slice into this sucker's shuttle and..."

The big man interrupted him as he pointed to the passenger seat. "There's something over there."

The two Kree stared at the orange furred flerken sleeping on the passenger seat.

The big man cooed. "Aw... it's adorable," he then licked his lips, "I wanna eat it!"

Her partner laughed. "Looks like we're eating good tonight! Haha!"

A groggy Goose then reluctantly opened her eyes as she was stirred from her slumber. She looked over at the two Kree who had opened the shuttle door. Seeing that neither of them were her master, Goose stood up and began snarling at them.

"Oh look, it's trying to act threatening!", the big man chuckled.

The two Kree took a moment to laugh at the silly cat before the big man moved inside the shuttle with shank in hand. Unfortunately, Goose was done being considerate to the two ignorant humanoids. She opened her jaws wide and grabbed the two criminals with her monstrous tentacles.

Their screams echoed throughout the shuttle lot for a brief moment until they were suddenly silenced.

Goose burped out one of the Kree's boots before using her tentacles to shut the door and resume her nap.