A SERPENT IN
Genis, Drax, and Ms. Marvel soared through interplanetary
space. Beyond them, in the distance, the great globe of
Saturn hung, larger than life, its magnificent ring
system dazzling in the darkness of the void. Closer in,
the orange-cloud-shrouded moon of Titan, so large as to
be a world unto itself, beckoned them on.
"Be careful," Genis stated suddenly.
"Titan now possesses a defense field surrounding its
entire surface, just beyond cloud level."
"But-- why would they need that?" Carol asked.
"Aren't they already protected by the entire surface
layer of the moon itself?"
Drax said nothing. Genis nodded, "Yes, they do have
that, but it was not enough to protect them from Thanos's
bombing campaign during his first attack, years ago.* So they added a further layer of
*As recounted in the epic
AVENGERS ANNUAL #7 -- Van
"How do we get through?" Carol asked.
"Simple!" Genis directed one hand down at the
cloudy haze beneath them, and at the invisible defense
field. A stream of photons sliced out, opening a
sparkling circular pathway toward the surface.
"Mentor attuned the shield to my nega-bands'
wavelength, among other things. It's like having a
Down through the clouds they dropped, then out over the
eternally hidden, cratered surface. Sparkling photons
trailed in Genis's and Ms. Marvel's wakes. Drax rocketed
on, oblivious to all but his objective in the distance:
The largest of all the craters in this part of Titan, it
loomed ahead of them; a fuzzy bulge in the terrain at
first, then quickly growing into a broad, flat mountain
with a crater instead of a peak. Over the lip they
soared, then down, down through the broad passage at its
center; through the tunnel, past the layer after layer of
Titan's surface, past the layer of living computer which
encircled the entire world, and down into the warm air of
the secret interior of Titan.
The artificial lighting glared brightly, meaning they'd
arrived at midday. The great Tree of Eternity towered to
their left, but they ignored it and continued on toward
Suddenly Genis gestured with one hand and stopped. Ms.
Marvel did likewise, even as Drax continued on and curved
back around in a broad arc.
"What is it?" Carol glanced at Genis
"There." Genis pointed. Ahead, just over the
horizon, what appeared to be, of all things, an ancient
Viking ship, floated in midair, its striped red and white
sail billowing in the breeze.
Carol blinked, stared. "What in the world?"
"In this world," Genis replied, "That
would be Mom."
The three visitors approached the floating ship and
settled to its deck, but no one emerged to greet them.
Yet even as they searched the ship, it began to turn back
in the direction from which it had come. Perplexed, they
waited, and moments later, the ship settled to the ground
before a broad Greek-style temple facade set against a
mountainside. Greek pillars adorned the manicured lawns,
while fountains sprayed water into the air. Carol looked
around in awe, while Drax narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"I know this place," Drax
breathed. "I have been here once before. This is
"Paradise?" Carol frowned.
"Indeed it is," Genis replied. "Mom's
private domain. But I just wonder where she is--"
Everyone turned, only to see the caped figure of Mentor
walking out from the temple. The master of Titan bowed to
them, and introduced himself to Ms. Marvel.
"Mentor," Genis asked nervously, "Where's
Mentor frowned. "Genis, I--" He looked away.
"She is not well."
"Elysius collapsed shortly after you last left
Mentor nodded solemnly. "Yes. She's experienced this
before, I'm afraid.* She was
probably afraid to bother you with it."
* First in CAPTAIN MARVEL
(Genis) #6 -- Van
"What's wrong with her?" Genis demanded.
"We've been trying to discover that very
thing," Mentor answered, "but as of yet, we are
"Why didn't you contact me?"
"We've been trying," Mentor replied. "You
haven't exactly been easy to track down. Fortunately, she
has remained stable. If things had turned for the worse,
we would have spared no effort in contacting you
Genis nodded. "Can I see her?"
"Of course." Mentor led the three new arrivals
through the temple facade, into the vast complex beyond.
"At least she seems stable," Carol noted as
they finally left Elysius's room.
"Yeah..." Genis stared at the floor, his hands
clasped behind his back.
Carol put a hand on his shoulder, squeezed gently.
"Come on. There's nothing more you can do." She
paused, unsure of what to say. Her warrior's nature
sometimes proved a hinderance in such situations.
"Just talking to her probably helped, Genis. Just
letting her know you were there."
Drax caught Genis's eyes. "I have spent a fair
amount of time in that woman's company, Genis. She is
strong. She will recover from whatever afflicts
Genis nodded hesitantly to both of them.
The solemn moment was disrupted by a crash from down the
hall. A tall figure in red and white strode towards them.
"Ahh, Genis, I'm glad you're back."
"Greetings, Eros." Genis nodded.
Eros smiled tightly, then noticed Drax and frowned. Then
he became aware of Ms. Marvel standing behind the other
two and the smile returned, broadened. "Well,
Ms. Marvel nodded back. "Hello, Eros. It's a
pleasure to finally meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine, milady," Eros
replied, bending at the waist and kissing her hand.
Genis raised an eyebrow; Drax wandered off,
"Milady, you simply must permit me to show you
around Paradise," Eros began, but paused as another
crashing sound came from behind him. He glanced at Genis.
"Ahh, I nearly forgot-- Genis, would you be so kind
as to restore a measure of decorum to our dining hall?
I'm afraid our other new guest has somewhat... different
ideas of proper behavior."
"'Other guest?'" Genis's face revealed his
puzzlement, but he jogged down the long hallway to
"Now, milady, as I was saying..." Eros took
Carol's hand before she could object, and led her in the
Genis stood in the doorway to the dining hall, his mouth
agape. Before him, seated at the closest table, was
Hercules, a huge goblet clutched in one beefy hand. On
the other side of the table stood a satyr, a jug cradled
in his arms. Other jugs lay in shattered fragments across
the marble floor.
"Genis, my boy! You're back!" Hercules's eyes
momentarily focused on him, then continued their
independent courses around the room.
Genis turned to the satyr. "Dionysus-- what are
Dionysus grinned. "What does it look like? This fool
thought he could outdrink me. Me! Hah!" The satyr
took another deep swig, wiping his mouth with one wrist.
Hercules frowned, jerked the goblet up, and held it out
before the satyr. "Fill 'er up," he bellowed.
"Then hold it still!" Dionysus struggled to
ring the wavering goblet, chasing it back and forth with
the jug as he poured. "There's nothing I hate worse
than spilling wine."
"Verily," Hercules exclaimed in between quaffs,
"the Lion of Olympus doth agree with you, friend
Dionsu-- Donisi-- my friend." He tossed back the
rest of the goblet's contents, then thrust it out before
the satyr again. "Sit, friend Genis, sit! Let us
enjoy one another's company! We-- err-- umm-- We--
urrrrrr..." With a last gurgle, Hercules slumped
forward, lying across the big oaken table, snoring
"Another fool learns the hard way," Dionysus
observed, taking a deep drink from his jug. "Even
your father could not outdrink me."*
* Sort of, in CAPTAIN MARVEL #60-- Van
Genis frowned at him. "But you cheated with Dad--
you drugged him."
The satyr sighed. "Details..."
Genis peered down at the slumbering former Greek god.
"What's Herc doing here?" he asked.
"I know not. But he arrived some hours before
you." The satyr laughed. "He will regret this
poor performance on the morrow!"
Genis stood behind Hercules, placing his hands on the big
Olympian's shoulders. "You are no doubt correct,
friend Dionysus. However, I need him in his right mind,
if what I suspect is true." With that, the
nega-bands on Genis's wrists began to glow. Photonic
sparkles spread out, covering Hercules's body, the
shimmering effect obscuring his entire form for a moment.
Then the lights faded, and Hercules slowly opened one
"Eh? What enchantment is this?"
"Merely sobering you up, Herc," Genis replied.
"We need you in good working order. So I used some
of the solar power my nega-bands carry, to help your body
more quickly metabolize the alcohol."
Hercules slapped a palm onto the top of his own head,
dragging it down slowly over his eyes. "Urrrr...
Genis, in truth thou art thy father's son. Only the
offspring of Mar-Vell would dare to disturb the Scion of
Zeus during a hangover."
Genis smiled, whacking Hercules on the back. "So,
why are you here, Herc?"
"In truth, were I to tell you now, you wouldst think
me still inebriated." The big god hesitated.
"But perhaps two words will suffice." Hercules
met Genis's eyes. "The Enemy."
Genis nodded grimly. "As I suspected." He
turned, walking out of the dining hall. "Meet me in
the central chamber in half an hour. If what I fear is
true, time is of the essence."
Hercules nodded absently, then pulled himself to his
"You let that kid give you orders like that?"
Dionysus asked in smart-alec fashion.
Hercules glared at him. "Give me no more of thy lip,
satyr. Thou hast accomplished more than enow for one
The Olympian strode toward the guest chambers. Dionysus
shrugged and reached for another jug.
Ms. Marvel sat on the edge of a marble fountain, within a
lush tropical glade, the water gurgling merrily behind
her. At her feet, on the grass, sat Eros, gazing up at
her in rapt attention.
"And you're saying that you and Mar-Vell
Carol stood and strolled across the grass, then stopped
and gazed up at the false sky. "We considered it...
Eros followed after her. "But--?"
She laughed. "I don't know... It just never seemed
right. I got a nice kiss out of him once, but that's
Eros smiled a devilish smile. "Indeed. For my own
part, I always found it odd that Mar-Vell did not
surround himself with beautiful women. Women such as
yourself..." He moved closer.
Carol met his eyes. "Eros," she said, "I'm
enjoying your company. It's nice to have a man pay me a
little attention every now and then." She smiled
sweetly, then leaned closer, reached out, closed her hand
around his collar, and suddenly Eros found that his feet
were no longer touching the ground. "But listen
well," she continued, her lips close to his ear, her
voice suddenly a dangerous whisper. "I do not-- DO
NOT-- like the idea of a man messing with my mind. Not
again. Not ever again." A half-smile crept over her
mouth, as Eros stared back, wide-eyed and dumbfounded.
"Now, I'm not saying that you are, or that you have
at all, done anything inappropriate. But I know what you
CAN do, what your powers include. And I know how you
operate. And I'm just warning you once-- ONCE. Don't even
think about it." With that, she set him back on the
floor and strode imperiously away.
Eros watched the blonde exit the glade, his eyes never
wavering from her black-swimsuit-clad form. After she was
gone, he slowly exhaled and started breathing again.
Smoothing his collar back down, he squared his jaw, and
thought of the worst curses he could possibly utter.
But instead, all that came out of his mouth was,
The gigantic space armada spread from one side of the
viewscreen to the other, a thousand twinkling lights,
brighter than the stars, amidst the velvet blackness of
At the center of the bridge, the man known to many only
as the Master, and to others as the Enemy, fastened the
last seal on his armor and raised his hands out before
him, accustoming himself to the feel.
"A perfect fit, sire,"
the Skrull technician observed.
"Yes. Thank you for the assistance."
The Skrull bowed low and shuffled away.
The Enemy peered at the viewscreen through his armor's
lenses. "Perfect indeed. For while my armies will
sweep the Terrans from the stars, I will attend to my old
nemesis--or rather, his offspring-- personally."
Energy crackled from the blue gauntlets, as the Enemy
clenched his fists and held them up before him.
"What is the status of the Titan defensive
sphere?" he demanded suddenly.
"Still active, sire," one of the officers
replied, "but our agent should be ready to deal with
The Enemy nodded, then turned back to the screen.
"Curse you, Mar-Vell," he muttered harshly,
"for succumbing to the Blackend and denying me my
rightful revenge." A cruel sneer crossed his face.
"But those who cared for you-- they will not be so
fortunate. Elysius will pray for death before all is
finished. And Genis-- he will suffer as none before him
have. So swears the designated Champion of Chaos! So
The call came from behind him, and the Enemy whirled.
"Our pawn on Titan is in place! All is ready!"
"Wonderful." The Enemy's eyes narrowed to dark
slits. He gestured with one hand, and the officer nodded.
"Then let it begin."
Having shed his red and blue outer garments due to the
near-tropical environment of Titan, and now clad in the
navy-blue single-piece uniform with a broad gold star
across the chest, Genis walked slowly into the main
control center. His thoughts remained with his
mother--he'd scarcely left her side since they'd arrived.
Looking around, he saw Mentor and Eros standing near the
large video screen, a screen displaying the darkness of
interstellar space. The two Titanians were discussing
technical matters with the holographic image of Isaac,
the computer, which stood nearby. Across the room, at a
broad table, sat Drax, while a number of other Titanians
busied themselves at their various tasks.
"Ah, Genis," Mentor called, turning. "We
are devoting our full attention to locating any anomalies
which might represent this 'Enemy' you seek."
Eros nodded. "No luck so far, but we do have
a--" he paused as Ms. Marvel entered and strode up
Carol smiled a wry smile. "You were saying,
Eros gathered his wits, as the others blinked in
confusion, at the thought that Eros would allow any woman
to so fluster him.
"Er--" Eros motioned toward the screen. "I
was simply saying that we are tracing a faint signal from
far out beyond the solar system. It is particularly
large, so it may be nothing but a passing asteroid storm.
Genis's expression blanked. His eyes grew distant, and it
seemed as if his complexion darkened, reflecting the dark
depths of the cosmos.
"Genis? Are you--?" Mentor started toward him,
followed by Carol and the others.
"The ENEMY!" He shouted, pointing at the
screen. "He is THERE!" Genis's expression
twisted. "And he is also-- HERE!!"
The others gaped. Across the room, Drax cried out, fell
to his knees, clutching his head with both hands. "NOOOOOOOO!"
"What--?!" Eros rushed towards the purple-caped
figure, but even as he did so, Drax leapt to his feet and
fired a powerful blast of energy at Eros, sending the
Everyone gasped. Even as Genis struggled to regain his
senses from the intense flash of cosmic awareness, Ms.
Marvel and Mentor dashed towards Drax.
They were too late. The Destroyer lived up to his name:
He unleashed a massive blast with both hands, the crimson
energy searing into a broad bank of computers and
controls, melting them instantly.
The Isaac hologram wailed. Mentor stared in horror at the
"What did he do?" Ms. Marvel called out.
"The defensive shield!" Mentor shook his head
in dismay. "He's destroyed our defensive
Drax the Destroyer bellowed a blood-curdling roar of
rage, fear, and pain.
Go to Chapter Five