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this is the style of sheet I will be using



YOINK.EXE HAS LAUNCHED


You and I have done this before. So, like you, I have an idea on the shelf. Going through the music of the period looking for ideas.

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| R O C K O F E T E R N I T Y

An arc of lightning traveled through the air. Splitting apart, the spark seemed to blossom into a column of light, which then faded into a roughly humanoid shape.

From out of the light, the equine alien emerged. Kymellians stood upright, with a humanoid frame that included standing upright on powerful legs with a reversed knee joint and large, hooved feet. His head was shaped like that of a horse, or a pony in his case, as Kofi was not yet full grown.

The young Kymellian was still attired in the blue costume with the golden lightning bolt and flowing red cape. In mid-stride, a bolt of lightning struck, reverting the alien child back into his normal clothing. It was similar to a sleeveless tunic or toga, leaving his arms bare, even as it dressed his torso in a shimmery, cloth-metal fabric that was unlike any substance found on Earth.

Glancing up, toward the throne at the top of the Rock of Eternity, the horse-like youth saw the raven haired human child seated there. Billy Batson was seated sideways, across the throne, with his chin clasped in one hand, and his gaze distant, staring off into a magical projection of the planet Earth, with any number of scenes playing out in bubble-like windows orbiting the illusion.

It seemed a lonely vigil. But also, perhaps, a fruitless one.

Kymellia had largely eliminated crime through education and social enrichment programs that had become integrated into their culture as they had advanced technologically over generations. Humanity, on the other hand, still managed a global average of 490,000 homicides a year, in addition to a litany of other crimes. Human trafficking, the sale of other human beings, remained a concern, as did illicit narcotics and piracy.

No matter how powerful any one individual might be, hero or not, those were larger social issues than any single person would be able to solve for the planet.

All Shazam could do is watch.

Kofi imagined that kind of vigil could take a toll on a person. “Have you even started on your homework?” the Kymellian asked, even as he rounded around to one side of the rotating globe.

Reaching up a hand, the horse-like youth expanded one of the balloon like visuals. Blood diamonds in Africa. Aptly named.

If they intervened there, then what about the ship that was capsizing off the coast of Jamaica? Or the earthquake happening in India?

They were forbidden from interfering with time. The possibility of igniting multiple parallel realities was replete with danger. It made it to where the moment and time of their intervention was paramount, because even Shazam could only be in one place at one time. “I can let you copy my math, but you’re on your own for the book report,” Kofi noted, dismissing the tragedy that was happening in the African continent for the time being and instead returning his attention to the boy on the throne.

Billy still hadn’t so much as acknowledged that he was here.

Arm outstretched, Kofi changed the topic. “I contacted the Technomancy. My people are handling Skratt and his crew. They’ll make sure to turn them over to the Zn’rx unharmed, but I think they’ll think twice before visiting your planet again.”

Had Billy even blinked? The human child just lay across the chair, brooding as he seemed to bore holes through the illusion of the globe with an icy glare.

HEY!

Kofi surprised himself, the snap more forceful than he’d intended. Yet, it seemed to have worked. Billy’s gaze flickered, moving from the planet hovering there in the midst of the Rock of Eternity to, at last, look down at the Kymellian.

“It is difficult to have a conversation when only person is talking,” Kofi noted simply.

Billy’s hand fell away from his face. The boy shifted his body so that he was seated upright, leaning forward with his arms resting on his thighs. “Why didn’t we do something?”

If the Kymellian seemed confused, then the reaction was genuine. “We did do something, Billy Batson,” the boy responded in a matter-of-fact tone. “And two people are ali...”

“We both saw Courtney in the school yard,” Billy stated, interrupting.

Kofi paused. For a moment, the reference almost slipped by him. Then he recalled. It had been an anomalous energy that the two had associated with Courntey as she had passed them. “We didn’t know what we were seeing,” the Kymellian answered. Which, was still the case now and seemed, in his mind at least, not associated with the Zn’rx incident. Had that energy been Zn’rx in nature, then Kofi would have recognized it. “It was not logical...”

Logic?

As soon as Billy had echoed back the word, Kofi realized that he’d made a mistake. A roar of thunder caused the temple to tremble as if in the grips of an earthquake, as Billy’s voice boomed from all directions.

A BOY IS DEAD BECAUSE WE COULDN’T BE BOTHERED.


Kofi winced in pain from the sound, even as he kept his footing. “You are having an emotional response,” the Kymellian snapped, chastising the sorcerer before him. “The knowledge you possess now informs a piece of information which you lacked in that moment in the past.” It was regret. A primitive emotion informed by hindsight and fueled by misplaced anger.

Any logical ought to have been able to rationalize their feelings.

However, Kofi had found humanity less than rational.

As though confirming that assessment, he found a rather shocking amount of venom in Billy’s tone as the boy spat back, “I suppose a guilt complex is also logical, is that it?”

Frustration was also an emotion. Once which Kofi found himself struggling with. Particularly since arriving here as Billy’s understudy. Burying his face in his hands, the Kymellian let his fingers run through his mane before he blurted out, “I do not understand how your species has managed to not destroy itself with these emotional outbursts!”

Turning, the horse-faced youth put his back toward Billy. “I came to inform you that the Zn’rx had been handled. I have done so.”

With that, Kofi walked away and prepared to take his leave. A magic circle formed at the boy’s fingertips, as he prepared to teleport away. Then, pausing a moment, looked back to ask, “I will see you at school tomorrow?”

Billy didn’t answer.

A pregnant pause lingered in the air, after which Kofi gave a sigh and raised the teleportation spell.

“Did the Zn’rx say why they were here?”

Kofi grimaced. Tempted to ignore the question and teleport away, as Billy had treated him in like fashion. However, the youth finally dispelled the runic circle and turned around to talk across the throne room at the boy seated there as Shazam. “Merely that they were attempting to recover something. Which I presume was a false pretext.”

Billy seemed to mull over that information, then gave the Kymellian a simple nod of acknowledgement.

Kofi gave a heavy sigh. “Good night, Billy Batson.”

“Good night,” Billy whispered in reply, dully watching as the Kymellian boy vanished into a column of light, which then zipped away as an arc of lightning.

After the Kymellian had departed, Billy stood up. A runic circle formed at his fingertips. As he stepped down from the throne, the illusionary Earth seemed to expand outward. By the time Billy had stepped off the steps of the dais, it was as though he were walking through the hallways of the Fawcett City General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and patients mulled about, as the boy peered in on Courtney.

A woman -- her mother? -- was sobbing as she hugged the girl.

A wave of Billy’s hand, and the building seemed to morph around him until he was standing in the morgue.

The man that had been with Courtney -- her father? -- had his head in his hands, a clipboard and paperwork in his lap, as he sat out in a hallway outside the cooler.

The man’s answer to Billy continued to echo in the boy’s mind.

I’m aware.

With a wave of his hand, Billy dispelled all the illusion. Save for the clipboard and the paperwork that had been in the man’s lap.

His name wasn’t Whitmore. It was Dugan.

Pat Dugan.

“Who are you, sir,”the boy asked quietly, as the clipboard faded from out of his hands.

And what did he have that the Zn’rx wanted?

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| L U N A
| Dark Side of the Moon

“Kill them.”

Billy just crossed his arms as the halbred-rifles were raised again. The assembled aliens started to take a step forward when Skratt called to them again.

No, wait. Kill the human. I want to take my time with the Kymellian.”

Casually, the young Batson turned his head. Crocodiles to the left of him, reptiles to the right. As the pole-like weapons were extended out toward him, Billy knew that he was surrounded by the dinosaur-like aliens. Claws clicked against some kind of trigger mechanism.

A strange sound echoed through the chamber, as bolts of some kind sailed from all directions, slamming into the child-like body of the crimson clad hero.

Through it all, Billy simply stood there, as bolts collided about his head and shoulders. No worse for the wear, as the volley continued for nearly a minute.

When the Zn’rx had finally ceased firing, a rather bored looking Batson at last looked back over at the one who had introduced himself as Skratt. The two held one another’s gaze, even as Billy addressed Kofi. “You want this?” the boy asked flatly, before adding, “Or you want to check those life signs?”

“The Zn’rx and my people understand one another,” Kofi answered, speaking from behind him. After all, this wasn’t Freddy Freeman, but his true horse-like appearance. That was likely to be something of a shock to ordinary people. Particularly if they’d been unexpected guests of extraterrestrials of another sort. As if reading Billy’s mind, the young xenomorph added, “Humans, on the other hand...”

Skratt’s claws flashed in the harsh light of the starship’s interior. A low, gutteral growl snapping as the crocodile-like monster barked, “You think us a joke?”

Taking a step back, Billy pivoted to look back at Kofi. Then, inclining his head to indicate the angered Zn’rx, merely offered, “All yours.”

A mystical circle seemed to appear in the air before the horse-like youth. A three-fingered hand gestured in the air, alternating a pair of symbols within the circle. With the simple flick of his fingers, Billy Batson suddenly disappeared into a quickly fading column of light.

“A joke?” the Kymellian echoed, reading his head back as the circle faded and Kofi found himself now alone on a ship full of Zn’rx. Pondering how Billy might have addressed the crowd clamoring for his violent demise, the youth dryly stated, “I am not as well acquainted with, shall we say, witty repartee as Billy. But, I would note that a joke is a humorous anecdote. And I am not amused.”

The assembled soldiers moved toward the small, horse-like being.

“SHA--”

The second syllable of the spell was lost in the thunderous explosion. A collision of light and energy that arced in a spectacular display as the lightning ripped through the alien ship. The massive crocodile-like creatures were knocked off their feet, sailing backward from the small form.

When the smoke had cleared, the Kymellian youth stood attired in a costume that closely matched that of Billy Batson’s, save that it was colored blue rather than Billy’s distinctive red.

After all, Kofi was the champion of Kymellia, whereas Billy was the former champion of Earth. And now it’s Shazam.

Lightning rolled from off the blue-clad hero’s frame, as the horse-faced youth looked up at the disheveled Skratt. “You said that you wished to take your time with the Kymellian.”

Arms outstretched, Kofi glanced around the smoking wreckage of the Zn’rx ship as he noted simply:

“Here I am.”


| M E A N W H I L E
| Deep Inside The Alien Spaceship

There was a momentary sensation of vertigo.

It had been so long since Billy had been teleported by another person, that he’d almost forgotten the feeling. Familiar, like putting your feet into a pair of old slippers.

...and feeling the worm larva between your toes.

It subsided as the room resolved itself in his vision. The same interior. The same ship, just a different part of it.

The smell was the first thing to hit him.

Blood. It was the smell of blood. It was as distinctive an odor as any that Billy had known, harkening him back to the woods of Europe in the bygone decades of the distant past.

It was a smell he associated with corpses.

A large shadow moved in the peripheral of his vision. The light briefly glinted off the claws, as they came at the boy.

A moment later, the massive frame of a crocodile-like alien was sailing through the air.

Taking a step into a vaulted chamber, Billy steeled himself as he traced the scent of death toward the source.


| G E R M A N Y
| April 4, 1945

A man dropped dead, right in front of him.

The teenage soldier shifted the rifle he carried onto his shoulder. His chest felt tight. His mouth hung open in abject shock.

Two men, in their sixties, too weak to walk, crawling toward a latrine -- if it could be described as such. The smell slammed into him. Blood and excrement, mingled with smoke.

The body of a child lay in the dirt. It was so emaciated that it could have been mistaken for a skeleton. A battered tin cup was in the child’s hands, still waiting in death for a charity that never came.

Shot through the back of the neck by the Nazi administration that had fled in anticipation of the American advance, as the German position continued to collapse against the combined arms of the Allies.


| P R E S E N T D A Y

The body of a young boy lay in front of him.

The memories of Buchenwald slammed into the young Batson. The taste of bile burned at the back of his throat, as the smell of ash and excrement seemed to return from the grave of memory.

His chest was tight. He couldn’t breathe.

“Who’s there!?”

The voices of the prisoner’s echoed in his mind. Some had tried to find the strength to lift the soldiers into the air. To celebrate their liberation as the American Army moved into the camp.

Most had been too weak to even stand.

Old men. And children. He could remember the look in their eyes...

“Is someone there!?”

A gasp escaped the boy, as he seemed to -- at last -- remember to breathe. That wasn’t a voice from his past.

But it was a voice that he recognized.

Making his way further into the chamber, the young Billy collided with some kind of forcefield. Taking a step back, he looked beyond the unseen barrier and could see where a man and a girl were segregated. And both looking worse for wear.

The girl, roughed up, her face lined with tears, seemed to scramble forward at the thought of rescue. Only to recoil slightly as recognition set in. “Billy?”

A pit sank in the young Batson’s gut. It was Courtney.

He’d known something was wrong earlier when he’d seen her in the courtyard. Why hadn’t he done something then?

“Where’s Mike?” the man -- Courtney’s father? -- demanded, bumping into another of the forcefields as the man tried to approach the costumed youth. “They took Mike.”

“He’s here,” Billy offered flatly, the emotion thick as he spoke. Then, clearing his throat, said, “Stand back.”

A mystic circle appeared at the boy’s fingertips. The various orbits seemed to shift and alternate, as the former sorcerer’s apprentice weaved a spell in the air. Then, with a flick of his wrist, the force fields snapped into existence and just as quickly vanished.

The man rushed past the red costumed youth.

“OH GOD.”

Courtney came barreling after the man. Stepping into her path, the young Batson spun the girl around and held onto her. “Trust me. Don’t look.”

She let out a wail that he knew only too well. He’d heard it before. He’d heard it too many times.

Her legs gave out under the weight of all the trauma that she had born. Gently, Billy guided her to the floor, as she sobbed in his arms and clawed at the arms that were still holding her. Until she just seemed to surrender and collapse into a heap.

“Who are you?”

There was an accusatory tone. One which Billy couldn’t find fault in, even as the boy turned his head to look back at the man who was now cradling the body of the boy.

Billy didn’t answer. Instead, he simply said, “I have to get you out of here.”

“How are you going to do--”

In mid-breath, the room seemed to shift and transform. There was a blur, as, for a moment, it seemed as though everything went out of focus. Then, when it had resolved itself and the world come back into view, the four of them were just outside of the Fawcett City General Hospital emergency room.

“--that, oh shit,” the man uttered, finishing the sentence even as the wave of vertigo slammed into him, as he experienced the disorientation that Billy was only too familiar with himself.

Sometime between when they had teleported and Billy rising to his feet, the figure of a young Adonis appeared in the red costume. He had the body of an Olympic demigod, with the lighting bolt on his chest crackling with an unearthly light. A sharp whistle turned several heads, as the once-and-future Captain Marvel said, “Excuse me, these people need help.”

Who are you?”

EMTs were running toward them with stretchers. A nurse and a couple of uniformed police officers were close behind.

Then, everyone seemed to freeze in place for a moment.

Everyone, that is, except for Billy and the man.

“I’m sorry,” Billy uttered. Which seemed an inadequate expression, at best. “Truly, for what your family has been through,” the costumed figure of Captain Marvel remarked, as his form faded back into the visage of the young Billy Batson once again. Candidly, the youth offered, “They’re not going to believe the truth, so this may be difficult for you and Courtney.”

Cradling the still body of the boy in his arms, the man’s jaw tightened noticeably. “I’m familiar,” he said cryptically.

Except, now the costumed boy was gone.

As though unaware they’d ever been paused in mid-step, the EMTs and first responders snapped back into motion, rushing up toward the three.
@IceHeart That's a nostalgia blast.


In the spirit of OOC discussion, I'm curious:

How many of you are schemers and how many of you write by the seat of your pants?



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| L U N A
| Dark Side of the Moon

The cylindrical ship had a roughly beetle or insectoid look to it. Hull armor shaped like a carapace, as jagged weapons emplacements jutted out as intimidating protrusions.

Concealed behind the moon’s shadow, the cosmic cockroach crept through the endless void of night. Within the interior of the spaceship, bulky and powerful looking aliens mulled about. Their reptilian forms were an odd mix of both alligator and lizard characteristics. Beastial and ferocious, cold and foreboding.

A gutteral language snapped back and forth, punctuated by clicks and whistles, as a series of alarms began to sound through the interior of the ship.

A series of sparks bounced off the walls in an arc of electricity, as the roughly humanoid shape seemed to form out of light. As the arc lightning faded, Billy Batson emerged, clothed in the crimson suit and white cape that were emblazoned with lighting.

As he outstretched his arms, a casserole dish materialized between them, holding the time honored Midwestern housewarming gift of the tater tot hot dish. “Hey there!” the boy chimed cheerily, even as a column of light materialized and vanished beside him. When the second light had faded, a young Kymellian stood beside the costumed human youth.

In short order, both Billy and Kofi were surrounded by the towering form of the crocodilian giants, armed with what Billy assumed was whatever passed as rifles, halberds, or some science fiction combination of the two.

Not to be dismayed or discouraged, the young Batson strolled over toward the nearest Jurassic Park looking dude and pressed the casserole into it’s hands. Or claws. Or, were they talons?

No judgement, my dude.

“Here, we brought you this,” the dark haired youth stated, flashing a Minnestora nice smile and then craning his head to look around at the interior of the brutal and severe architecture. Giving a low whistle, “So this is a space ship?”

“Of a sort,” Kofi murmured.

“Well, there’s no accounting for taste,” Billy offered lightly, giving a slight nod of his head in the Kymellian’s direction.

“What is the meaning of this trespass?”

Turning, the caped Batson stepped back as he pivoted to look over at where a rather imposing creature was standing.

That would be the dude in charge.

Or was that a chick? What would a woman of a crocodile-dinosaur lovechild alien race even look like?

On second thought, Billy didn’t want to know. So, sticking with dude.

“You speak English?” Billy chirped, almost wistfully. Then, breaking into a large smile, held his arms out as he beamed, Excellent! My alien is... eehh.”

“Very eehh,” Kofi affirmed.

Nothing like a good support system. Without breaking his stride, Billy kept his attention on the massive alien-crocodile-dude-fellow-whatever. “Anyway, we certainly don’t want to trespass. We just saw your ship up here and figured it’d be wrong not to come greet you as neighbors.”

The word seemed to send a wave of confusion through the assembled crowd. The long snout tilted to one side, rows upon rows of sharp teeth reflecting in the light before the imposing figure echoed back. “Neighbors?”

Placing both hands on his chest, as though to indicate himself, the boy continued. “Yeah, see, I’m Billy. I’m from Earth. Which is the planet that you’re currently orbiting...”

“Technically, they are orbiting a satellite which is orbiting your planet,” a snide, somewhat snobbishly certain that he was always correct, Kymellian voice interjected.

“See, this is why I bring Kofi along,” Billy remarked, without missing a beat. Then, using one hand to indicate the horse-faced alien youth, continued, “So this is Kofi. He’s not from Earth originally. But he kind of hangs out here now, and, uh... yeah, we’re just kinda wondering what it is that you’re doing up here.”

“Salutations to you, Billy of Earth,” the leader-looking-toothy-dude remarked. A gesture from his claw-talon-hand-things prompted the assembly to lower whatever those weapons were supposed to be.

“I am called Skratt,” the Zn’rx stated, eliciting a nod of acknowledgement from Billy even as the alien continued. “Be at ease, human. We are merely scientists on an archaeological survey of your world. We mean you no harm.”

“I was not aware that your people valued the anthropological sciences,” Kofi deadpanned dryly.

“The racism and abject bigotry of the Kymellians is known throughout the universe.”

“Is it?” Kofi quipped in reply. “Strange that sounds more like how I’ve heard the Zn’rx described.”

Billy raised an arm to silently quell the debate that had taken shape.“There is obviously some bad blood between your two races. It need not bring itself here,” the costumed youth noted flatly. Then, regarding Skratt again, said, “You mentioned that you were conducting a survey. If I can ask, what is it that you’re hoping to find.”

“Nothing of consequence to you or your people. Sacred artifacts of the Zn’rx long thought vanished into the void,” Skratt answered casually. “We believe that we found one of them on your world. No doubt brought here by a trophy hunter who hoped to hide it from discovery.”

“Recovering lost cultural icons,” Billy mused aloud. “I can respect that,” the youth added, with a note of sincere admiration. “We would be happy to assist you in recovering this artifact.”

“That will not be necessary.”

The look of disappointment was apparent on the boy’s face. “Oh,” Billy noted, as though trying to mask the rejection.

“We have recently re-acquired the object we believe is our missing artifact,” Skratt stated, before explaining, “In fact, we were preparing to depart, so that the artifact’s authenticity can be verified, when you arrived.”

“I’m sorry that this is both hail and farewell, then,” Billy said, arms by his side as he gave a shrug. So much for missed opportunities. “We take our leave and wish you good journey,” the caped youth offered, as he turned back toward Kofi.

Then, the sound of a hand giving a snap echoed inside the ship. Spinning back around, the white cape whipped around the boy’s slender red form as he chimed, “Oh, being that this is our first meeting, I wonder if I could see it.”

“See what, human?”

“The sacred artifact,” Billy replied innocently. “Call it curiosity. I don’t imagine many humans get the opportunity to learn more of Snark culture up close.”

“Snark?”

Pausing, Billy realized that he’d fumbled trying to say the name of the race. “Schtixs?” he uttered, trying a second time to replicate the way that Kofi said it.

“Zn’rx,” Kofi uttered, correcting him in typical Kofi fashion.

“That’s what I said,” Billy offered. Then paused and added, “I think.”

The horse-faced boy was just shaking his head at the attempt. “The shape of your tongue and the anatomical limitations of your nasal structure make it unlikely that your species is capable of producing the correct labial consonant.”

“That’s what I like about you, Kofi,” Billy stated with a nod toward the alien youth. “You’re nothing if not an optimist.”

“This is one of our sacred cultural icons. Not a trinket in a museum to be gawked at, human!” Skratt barked at the pair, dismissing them with a wave of his talons. “I will thank you to take your leave.”

“A moment, friend.”

“I’ve already asked you to leave, human.”

“I’m not trying to be disrespectful, after all we just met and I don’t know you, you don’t know me, and so I don’t want appear to suggest that you’re full of shit, but you’re awfully well armed for a bunch of scientists on a peaceful archaeology mission,” Billy noted, throwing his arms up as he gave a shrug. “Plus, I need to finish distracting you while Kofi completes his scan of your ship.”

“DECEIVER!”

“Stick and stones, my friend,” Billy murmured, before inclining his head to gaze back over at the Kymellian who was just one step behind him.

Kofi side-eyed the human boy. When he did, Billy tightened his jaw. It was not going to be good news.

“There are human life signs on this ship.”

“Well, that’s certainly interesting,” Billy remarked flatly, his eyes glaring up at the crocodile-faced Skratt. The whites of the boy’s eyes seemed to pulse with an ethereal energy that was not of this world. In the dead of space, a roll of thunder reverberated through the alien ship as Billy Batson took a step toward the towering alien and asked, “What kind of artifacts did you say that you were taking, again?”

“Kill them.”

Billy just crossed his arms as the halbred-rifles were raised again. The assembled aliens started to take a step forward when Skratt called to them again.

No, wait. Kill the human. I want to take my time with the Kymellian.”

Casually turning his head over toward the other boy, Billy noted, “Kymellians are kinda the alien kids who get beat up on the cosmic playground, huh?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

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| Armed Forces Retirement Home
| Gulfport, Mississippi

Patrick O’Toole had been a character in his youth.

A Brooklyn native who had lied about his age in order to join the Army during the Second World War, those who had served with him wouldn’t know a Patrick O’Toole. They knew Knuckles. Knuckles O’Toole, the Brooklyn brawler.

Officially, Patrick O’Toole had fought in the war in Europe, become a decorated sergeant, served as a drill instructor for a time before retiring from the Army. He didn’t really talk about it with his wife or kids, or grandkids, because that was how it had been. Loose lips sink ships. No one talked about the war, even though they’d all been living it.

What wasn’t in the public records was the fact that Knuckles O’Toole had been one of those enamored and foolish wartime youths who had been inspired by Steve Rogers and the Howling Commandos to form a group they’d called the Young Allies. Fools, the lot of them.

And no better friends.

Today, Patrick O’Toole was ninety-eight. The oldest living veteran inside the retirement home. Soon to be ninety-nine. His wife had passed five years earlier, his children had all moved away, and so he spent the twilight of his life as alone as when he’d snuck away to join the Army at fifteen.

Back then, in 1943, Knuckles had met one other kid who had snuck away to the war.

“We were...” the old man began, trailing off as he raised a spindly, frail arm. His skin was translucent with age and marked by spots. It was a far cry from the heavy handed mitts that once fought their way through ranks of Nazi soldiers. “Where were we?” the man asked, seemingly talking to himself, as he tried to recall the details of the memory that had come to mind. “Marseilles. We were in Marseilles and Tubby... you remember Tubby?”

Turning his head, the aging spectre of Knuckles O’Toole looked over and down at Billy Batson. A young kid with a bedhead mop of black hair and eyes that were as blue as the sky. Midwesterner, the sort who was Minnesota nice by nature, from Fawcett City, Ohio. In more than eighty years, that face hadn’t changed. “Yeah,” the boy said, wistfully, as though sharing in the memory of yesterday. “Yeah, I remember Tubby.”

“Tubby wanted to crawl up a... a...”

The old man stammered, his mouth falling open as the memory seemed to fade on his tongue.

“It was a church bell tower,” Billy supplied softly.

“It was a god damn church bell tower,” Patrick echoed, as though now invigorated. Arms outstretched, the man seemed almost a shadow of his former self as he said, “And there he is, with his fat ass, trying to shimmy up this wood scaffolding...” the man uttered, lapsing into a familiar laugh.

Then the laughter became a cough, which seemed to wrack the man’s entire body.

Reaching out with one arm, the boy placed a hand on the man’s back. The truth was, what Billy saw was more than just the shared memory. Pulmonary hypertension. He could see it. See the threads of time starting to fray and shorten as they extended out from Patrick O’Toole.

The man wouldn’t live to see his ninety-ninth birthday.

Could Billy change that? Reverse the ravages of time and ease the burden of age on Knuckles’ body? Yes. All that, and more. Restored youth. Renewed vigor. With but a whim and the word, Billy could change it all back to the way it was -- to the way that he remembered him -- with but a snap of his fingers.

He didn’t.

He wouldn’t. Which was not to say that it was not, still, more than a passing thought. After all, if one had the power to do something, to change something, wasn’t it at least worth a thought?

You are not entrusted with the Rock of Eternity that you may install yourself as a god, Billy Batson. You are the guardian of man’s mortal life. Never forget that. One before you once thought himself a god, and was brought low by it.

The lessons of the past. Which were no less the lessons of the present.

As the coughing fit subsided, the man emerged back into the cloud of confusion that had first greeted the boy. “Billy?” Knuckles uttered, as though looking at the youth for the first time. Then, seemed to have at least the wherewithal to realize that wasn’t true. “Who was we talking about again?”

A pained smile tugged at the sides of the boy’s face. “Tubby,” the boy supplied patiently. “You were talking about Tubby.”

Huh. Tubby,” the old man echoed, sinking back into the seat. “Ol’ Tubby...” he murmured, his eyelids starting to flutter. “He died in... seventy-nine?”

Had it been a question? Or a memory? In either case, Patrick’s head rolled back as the old man fell into a quiet sleep.

A heavy, wearied sigh slipped from out of the young boy. He remembered vividly the Brooklyn native who had taught younger Billy Batson how to fight. Like, really fight. The kind of fighting where your life is on the line. Because their lives had been on the line and it had been Knuckles’ strong hands that had carried their asses out of the fire on more than one occasion.

A hand brushed across his shoulder. Turning his head, Billy looked up to see one of the nurses motioning him out of the room. “He talks like you were there,” the woman -- Annie was her name -- remarked as the two stepped out into the hallway.

“He says I remind him of someone he knew then,” Billy answered cryptically. This particular ward of the retirement home was the assisted living section. It more closely resembled a hospice, with a nursing station monitoring the rooms.

Waiting for the inevitable.

“Anything you want me to help with before I leave, Ma’am?”

“I just appreciate your spending time with them,” Annie answered, as the woman made her way back behind the nursing station. “I know they appreciate it as...”

She’d glanced up then, trailing off as she realized that the boy was no longer there. Turning her head to the left and right, she was presented with an empty hallway.

“I swear that kid’s a ghost.”


| Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial
| Colleville-sur-Mer, France

“I saw Knuckles today.”

A tear slipped down the right side of the boy’s face. Craning his head back, the youth drew in a breath as, for a moment, the myriad of emotion seemed ready to overtake him.

He didn’t know what to say.

Should he say anything?

He was here. It seemed he needed to say something. “Seven kids, thirteen grandchildren, and now he’s got five great-grandchildren. I think he’s done well,” the boy said. Then, paused with a pained laugh as he added, “I think he’s done the best of all of us. Who’d have imagined, right?”

Another tear slipped down his face. He continued to stare up, but couldn’t help the fact that he was crying openly now. It was a pregnant pause before Billy found the courage to look down again.

At his feet was a simple headstone. It was identical to rows and rows of white marble headstones. He knew the names of many. Some better than others, but these had all been a band of brothers. The Americans who had died fighting in Europe against the Third Reich and Axis Powers.

Brothers and Sisters.

Elizabeth Lawrence
Women’s Airforce Service Pilots
Our Liberty Belle

“They’re everywhere!”

“Snipers in the bell tower! Toro, can you..?”

“I’m pinned down. We’re in a crossfire!”

“Billy, you have transform.”

“We’re too close!”

“They’re mowing right over us. IT’S A TRAP!”

“Billy, just say it!”

“I can’t.”

“You’re the only one who can! Billy, say it now!

“God... fuck...”

“BILLY!”

“Shazam.”

He remembered.

He remembered all of it.

He could still hear the echoes of the German machine guns. Shells exploding in massive clouds of earth, as the tanks had rolled into view, blocking their only escape. It was supposed to have been a simple assignment, a rendezvous with British intelligence.

The whole thing had been a set up.

But the sound he remembered the most was the thunder, when the flash from the lightning had cleared. And he would never forget what he saw when the smoke had cleared.

Billy had been the one who had pulled them out of the fire that day, but he’d only managed to save less than half of them. Toro. Knuckles. Tubby. Wash Jones.

The strength of Hercules. The wisdom of Soloman. The speed of Mercury. Billy Batson had the power of the gods themselves at his command. He was tasked to be the savior of humanity. And, in the end, he couldn’t even manage to save his friends.

Lizzie had been pressed up against him. They’d been pinned down, taking cover together with German fire coming from both sides.

It was different then. The power hadn’t been Billy’s, it had been the wizard’s. Billy would say the name and the power would come down and literally strike him like a bolt of lightning. Which was every bit as fearsome and destructive as it sounded. He’d learned early to be careful of when and where he transformed, or even adapted it to be a weapon when he’d had to.

“Billy...”

In mid-air, a holographic window seemed to appear, containing the image of a horse-like alien.

When Billy had looked up, he wasn’t sure just which of the two of them were more startled.

“...are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Billy tried to utter, though he’d choked on the word even as he brought his arm up to wipe at the tears running down his face.

He wouldn’t have believed him either.

Clearing his throat, he tried again. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Still wiping at his face, the boy straightened up to ask, “What’s up?”

“Friday just picked up some trace energy readings. We believe that there is a Zn’rx ship hiding on the dark side of your moon.”

Billy was still having trouble with Earth geography. And the hundred-however-many nations. Keeping up with the different alien nations in the galaxy was, frankly, more than his brain seemed ready to handle. “Is this bad?” the boy asked finally. Might as well get to the point of it. It was either a good thing... or it wasn’t.

With aliens, he honestly was never sure what constituted good or bad.

“Potentially. The Zn’rx are space-capable, but quite primitive even by human standards. I do not imagine that they are here to open peace negotiations.”

Great. If it wasn’t Hell on Earth, it was the threat of alien invasion. What ever happened to the days when stopping a single nation dictator was all that being a hero required?

The air around the boy seemed to shimmer. His clothing and form crackled with an electric energy, as a red costume emblazoned with a golden lightning bolt appeared. As a white cape draped over one shoulder, the boy said, “Well, we should probably ask them.”

“Are you certain that you are okay?”

“Just... catching up with old friends,” Billy offered cryptically, before glancing back up toward the sky. “Dark side of the moon? See you in a bit.”

The holographic window blinked out of existence, giving Billy another moment of privacy in which to glance around the cemetery and memorial one more time.

Then he turned his head back toward the sky.

“Up, up and away.”
| OPERATION LUMBERJACK
| January 30, 1945

You learned to listen for the whistle.

A boom followed by a whistle meant that the shell was outbound.

A whistle in the air, growing louder? It meant that the boom was incoming.

The young man should have still been in high school. He looked like someone who might have been the football team running back or maybe a track star. Possibly both. If he said he was sixteen, then he was lying about his age. As had many other youths in order to join the war effort that had claimed so many of their father’s and brother’s lives.

Bullets whizzed through the air, as the faint echo of something like thunder revealed German machine gun positions. Vaulting through the blown out window of what may have, at one time, been a storefront, the young American all-star flew from out of the structure. Rifle in arms, he tucked and rolled as he ducked behind a stack of firewood.

The structure he’d been in just a moment earlier blew apart in an explosion that momentarily stunned him.

A hand slapped down on his shoulder, roughly snapping the teen from out of his daze.

The boy wore the uniform of a U.S. Army private first class. The stencil on the chest read BATSON.

The hand that had shaken him belonged to a youth who was barely older. Maybe seventeen. He looked like he should have been enrolling as a freshman in college, not ducking German artillery on the Belgium border. The name stenciled on his chest was RAYMOND.

They all called him Toro.

The younger boy tried to breath, found himself choking on the acrid smell of smoke and gave a cough. Turning his head, he spit and then labored to catch his breath. When he finally looked up, he said, “I thought they said ‘lightly defended.’”

“The Soviets may have a slightly different definition of that than we do,” Toro quipped back.

Billy just gave a shake of his head as he sat up. Pulling his back against the wood pile. Cradling the rifle, the youth dared to peek out from one side. A flying flying by his head prompted him to quickly duck back again. “All right, I’ll go up the middle,” Billy announced, turning back toward Toro. “You go over top and...”

There was a strange sound.

It wasn’t thunder. And it wasn’t a mortar. It wasn’t a tank either. Glancing upward, the two youths were presented by the sight of a rocket taking off into the air.

That would probably be the rocket that they’d come to stop the launch of.

“Change of plan,” Toro announced. The smell of smoke grew strong, as flames started to appear along the teen’s form. Fiery eyes looked over at Billy, as the teen kicked his head to one side to indicate the German machine gun positions. “I’ve got this,” Toro announced firmly.

“And I’ve got that,” Billy uttered, giving a heavy sigh. Tossing his rifle to one side, the teen pulled himself into a crouching runner’s start.

Then he took off from the imaginary starting line. Bullets flew by, but a whoosh sound told him that Toro had started the fireworks to draw the German fire with some of his own.

Gritting his teeth, Billy’s boots dug into the earth as he put some more distance between himself and Toro, before he shouted, “SHAZAM!”

Lightning came down, arcing with a brilliant flash that enveloped the teen’s form. Thunder rolled as the light faded, revealing a red and gold clad figure with a white cape.

Transitioning from a sprint into a jump, the caped figure launched into the air. Another boom echoed a second later, as the figure accelerated like a rocket. In the town below -- or what remained of it -- glass could be heard blowing out as the figured sailed through the air in pursuit of the rocket.

The Soviets hadn’t offered a lot of information about just what this rocket was. Honestly, they probably hadn’t wanted to share any information at all, except it was clear that they were afraid of it and only the Americans had been in a position to engage the Belgian border towns.

Flying through the air, the youth slid up the rocket. Pressing his hands against it, the boy’s blue eyes peered around for options. Maybe he could pull it higher into the air and detonate it there?

No, they were about to go over the English channel.

Angling the rocket steeply downward, the crimson hero split off along the water’s surface as the rocket crashed into the ocean.

A violent water spout erupted a moment later, sending a light sprinkle of salt mist over the youth as he seemed to hover in mid-air.

Billy gave a heavy sigh, before looking back toward the direction that he’d left Toro.

Billy Batson.

The voice of the wizard.

There was a momentary feeling of vertigo, as though the youth were being pulled away to somewhere else. He felt his body starting to shrink, as he started reverting back to his true self. A now-familiar feeling of dislocation gripped him, the boy began to stammer, Notnow. Notnow. Notnow...

It was too late. When the feeling had subsided, the boy found himself standing inside of what looked like a temple hewn from rough stone. At the top of which was a dark skinned old man with a gnarled cane and an unkempt beard. “I gave you my power and you used it to fight a war,” Shazam uttered, his wearied, aged voice booming like thunder despite his physical frailty. “You must answer for your actions, Billy Batson.”

Looking down at himself, the sleeves of the Army fatigue shirt he wore extended past his arms. Comically, the boy in the military uniform that was now too big for him looked over and said, “My friend’s back there,” Billy barked, hand outstretched as though pleading as he added, “He could be in trouble...”

The familiar feeling of dislocation gripped him. The interior of the temple seemed to spin.

When it had stopped, Billy found himself standing in a square pulpit. A dias reared overhead, with three figures looking down at him.

Looking to his left and right, all that was missing was chains. As the scene resolved itself in his mind, Billy understood that he was on trial. In a very literal sense. Turning his head back up, he recognized Shazam in the center of the three. The other had the face of a horse, while the third was a woman with black hair pulled back into a high ponytail.

“Not to fight a war,” Billy offered, picking up on the wizard’s words. “To put an end to war.”

“Do you have any idea how many innocent lives the American bombing campaign has claimed?” the horse-faced figure demanded gruffly. “Can you truly claim to be the force of good in this conflict?”

Toro was probably still dodging bullets and these three talking heads wanted to have a philosophical debate? “War is war. Fighting to bring an end to hostilities is conflict,” Billy reasoned aloud, before adding, “It’s not perfect and neither are we.”

“You have known fear,” Shazam uttered, as the old man stared down on the youth.

Before he could answer, the woman added, “And you have known pain.”

“And you have known death,” the horse-faced figure intoned.

“Good.”

“Good?” There was a level of disgust in his voice, which the boy didn’t bother to attempt to mask or hide.“Good? That I saw men and women -- children -- their bodies...” Billy’s mouth hung open, but no words were forthcoming. He had no words that could provide any meaningful description. Hell. Hell on Earth was about as close as he could fathom.

Allowing his arm to drop by his side, the youth drew in a breath before saying, “You can’t imagine what I saw in Poland.”

“We have seen it,” the woman uttered coldly. “All of it, and more. Many times across countless centuries on innumerable worlds.”

“Did you think that humanity had a monopoly on atrocity?” the horse-faced figure asked sharply.

Billy looked up, a quizzical expression on his face. He looked away for a moment, then back toward the horse-faced judge. But he had nothing to say.

“Perhaps you do begin to understand,” the horse-faced figure noted dryly.

“He is ready.”

There was a certain finality to that statement that didn’t sit well with Billy. “Ready? Ready for wh--” he began.

The horse-faced figure interjected. “The boy is impatient.”

“So was I, if you remember,” the woman noted simply.

“There is nothing more he can learn from me.”

“Learn?” Billy echoed. What was he supposed to have learned? “You... you told me to say your name and then I just fought in the war in Europe,” the boy remarked, confused, as he turned his head up toward the old wizard. “I still don’t understand what it is that you chose me for.”

The question hung in the air. The woman stood and walked away. The horse-faced figure did the same. The courtroom seemed to fall away, the familiar sensation of vertigo gripping him as reality seemed to spin around until the boy was back inside of the temple.

Except the old wizard was no longer seated at the top of the dias.

Staring around the darkness inside the temple, the boy asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

That, Billy Batson, is the right question.



[ Start ] [ Soundtrack ] [ Next ]

| WASHINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
| Present Day

“Your human methods of education seem most inefficient.”

The last bell had rung. Car pools snaked around the front of the school, as kids and teachers filtered from inside and out of the public school complex that occupied this part of the city block.

Billy had slung his backpack down, organizing his books and materials as a boy leaning on a pair of crutches hobbled over to share the table with him.

A weak smile played at Billy’s face. “You say that, but I definitely don’t remember having this much stuff to memorize when I was going to school before the war,” Billy offered, even as he looked around to see who might be listening.

With most kids trying to get home as fast as possible. There were not a lot that were lingering in the school yard. And only a few that Billy even recognized.

“With all the interest in the shuttle launch, I’m surprised at the inability to comprehend the basic physics of a Lagrange Point when..."

As the other boy prattled on, Billy was mildly aware of a strange feeling. Scrutinizing the school yard more closely, at first he thought that he was imagining it, until he saw her.

“Billy?”

His name snapped him from out of his brooding. Looking over at the other boy, as though confused, Billy stammered a moment before he asked, “I’m sorry. What?”

“Is something the matter?” the deceptively-looking human boy inquired. “You were staring at Courtney.”

“Yeah,” Billy uttered. Then seemed to realize the implication and immediately recanted. “I mean, no,” he stammered. Then, trying to explain, added, “There’s something about her.”

The other boy just tilted his head to one side, as though slightly taken aback. “Your physical body hasn’t been outside of the Rock of Eternity in several decades. Are you experiencing pubertal development?”

“What?” Billy asked sharply. “No, I mean her corporeal form seems normal, but I’m sensing an energy from her that isn’t human.”

The other boy turned his head, glancing at the blonde-haired girl across from them in the school yard.

Then seemed to do a double-take.

“Right!?” Billy asked, finding both relief and vindication in the other boy’s reaction.

“You are correct. But it is too faint for me to discern the precise origin,” the other boy remarked flatly. Then, turning back toward Billy, noted, “In either case, our remaining here past the allotted education hours would be an impractical use of our time.”

“In other words, you’re ready to bail.”

The idiom seemed to almost irritate the Kymellian in human clothing. “That is what I have indicated,” the other boy stated, with a slight shake of his head. “Were you still planning to visit the geriatric care facility that you mentioned?”

“It’s called a retirement home,” Billy corrected lightly, before adding, “And yes. Once I figured out how to use that Google thing in the library, I think someone I know might be there.”

“You are soon to be a hundred years old, Billy Batson,” the other boy stated flatly. “Members of your species are not typically as long lived. I would encourage you to seek emotional detachment from the people of your former life. These emotional entanglements will only form distractions.”

Heaving his backpack from off the table, Billy slung it over one shoulder. “When have you ever known me to be distracted?” he asked, flashing the so-called Freddy Freeman a smile.

The Kymellian in disguise, picked up his crutches and prepared to shuffle away. “Would you like that list alphabetically or chronologically?”

Billy just gave a slight nod of his head. “You heading back to Friday?”

“Correct. I wish to complete the book report on this Great Gatsby and then check in with Kymellia.,” the alien boy noted.

“I’ll see you later, then,” Billy offered.

The two youths walked away from the table.

As Freddy Freeman passed behind one corner of the school, the boy seemed to disappear into thin air.

As Billy passed behind a tree, he seemed to do the same.
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T P R O P O S A L
C A P T A I N M A R V E L


W I L L I A M J O S E P H B A T S O N W I Z A R D R O C K O F E T E R N I T Y A V E N G E R S
C H A R A C T E R C O N C E P T:


"S H A Z A M !"

Billy Batson is the current Shazam, the guardian of the Rock of Eternity. During WW2, he fought alongside Steve Rogers and was a founding member of the Young Allies -- and was dubbed Captain Marvel by the media of the day. At war's end, he entered the Rock of Eternity to study and prepare for assuming the role of the Wizard. During the Chitauri attack on New York, Billy was alerted to the crisis and emerged, only then realizing how much time had passed. He now slips back into society as a young boy attending school in Fawcett City, Ohio while he tries to get reacquainted with the world and his place in it.

C H A R A C T E R M O T I V A T I O N S & G O A L S:

Billy Batson has always been a character distinguished by trauma, much like Batman or other Golden Age heroes. His being an orphan, his struggles with the foster care system, and his vulnerability as a child have always been contrasted by both the power of Captain Marvel and his optimistic personality. I want to explore a fresh take on Billy as the wizard, where he’s still the same vulnerable child at heart but burdened by the weight of decades and struggling to remain true to who he is in the face of his responsibilities as Shazam.

C H A R A C T E R N O T E S:

As the current Shazam, Billy Batson is the physical embodiment of the Rock of Eternity and, thus, is always empowered by it. He can alter his outward appearance, either by use of illusion or temporally displacing his physical body.

In this context, Billy is both Shazam and Captain Marvel. Shazam being the title of the guardian of the Rock of Eternity and Captain Marvel being the name that the newspapers gave him during the Second World War.

Supporting Cast
- Aelfyre Whitemane. The Shazam counterpart for the planet Kymellia. A longtime friend of the Wizard Shazam and one of Billy’s mentors. Aelfyre is the guardian of the White Room.

- Roma. The daughter of Merlin and the Shazam counterpart for the dimension known as Otherworld. Serves as the guardian of the Starlight Citadel and is another of Billy’s mentors.

- Kofi Whitemane (“Freddy Freeman”). Aelfyre’s nephew and his chosen successor, learning firsthand from Billy. He has an equine appearance, to include reverse knee joints on the legs. To blend in on Earth, he assumes a human guise as Freddy Freeman but feigns a physical disability to mask his different leg anatomy.

- Courtney Whitmore (Stargirl). A new heroine starting out as young as Billy had. She wields a cosmic staff.

- Smartship Friday. Kofi’s Kymellian spaceship, which doubles as his home on Earth (shared with Billy). When not in use, concealed within an abandoned subway station in Fawcett City.

- (Flashbacks) Elizabeth "Lizzie" Lawrence (Liberty Belle). A young WW2 heroine and a member of the Young Allies.

- (Flashbacks) Thomas Raymond (Toro). A young WW2 hero and the leader of the Young Allies.

Rogue’s Gallery
- Dr. Thaddeus Silvana. The aging patriarch of Silvana Heavy Industries, with a hidden obsession into Nazi occult research into eternal life.

- Blaze. Daughter of Mephisto and one of the Under-Lords of Hell.

- Micah Flint (Rock). An astronaut irradiated and transformed into a rock-like monster in a cosmic accident.

- Belasco. One of Earth’s most powerful sorcerers, banished to Limbo over a century ago by Shazam.

- Zn'rx (Snarks). A crocodile-like alien race.

S A M P L E P O S T:



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