In Thunder's Wake
Orphaned boy granted the power of the gods; reluctant hero
Game stats to be determined.
10-year-old homeless orphan Billy Batson should have been more careful what he wished for. All he wanted was to be bigger, stronger, and more grown up, so he could avoid bullies and help out the street people who protected him. But then one day five years ago, as he was looking for a place to sleep in the San Francisco subway tunnels, he got lost and found himself in a spooky, mist-filled cave. On the walls were monuments to the Seven Deadly Sins, and sitting on a throne in front of him was the oldest, most decrepit looking man Billy’d ever seen.
The old man, mumbling in a strange language and apparently on the verge of death, reached out to Billy, and Billy rushed forward to help him. As their hands touched, Billy felt a surge of power paralyze his body, and was sure in that instant that he was about to die.
But he didn’t. In a flash, it was over, and the old man finally said something in English. “I cannot wait any longer, Billy Batson. I wish I could have called upon you after you’d become a man, but the world no longer has time; the darkness is coming. You carry within you the purest, noblest soul I have seen in 5000 years, and I can only pray you are ready for the gift I have given you.”
The old wizard coughed blood then. Billy helped him lie down. “Just hold on, mister. I’ll get help.”
But before Billy could leave, the old man seized him by the wrist, a grip as strong as steel. "No, William. You must listen. The darkness is coming. " More coughing, and more blood. “Whenever you are in trouble, or see others in distress, you need merely say the word ‘Shazam,’ and you will be granted the power of the gods. You may also share this power with those who are worthy, but be warned… the power can be too much for those with weaker souls than yours. Be careful, Billy Batson. The darkness is coming, and I have waited too long…”
The old man’s final breath wheezed out of his lungs. Billy, frightened and alone, couldn’t help but cry, trying to wake the old man. And then, without thinking, he did what the old man had asked him to do when he saw others in distress. He said the word “Shazam.”
In a flash of lightning and thunder, Billy Batson transformed into the mighty being called Captain Marvel. Finally, Billy was bigger, stronger, more grown-up. And none of that enabled him to help the old man. And so Captain Marvel, too, cried over the poor old wizard’s emaciated body.
Eventually, Captain Marvel found his way back to the earthly realm, and Billy learned quickly that he is the most powerful being on Earth, gifted with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. He has witnessed, and in some cases been party to, the emergence of other super-beings and costumed heroes across the world, serving as inspiration to some, nightmare to others.
The wizard’s magic took its toll on Billy, though. It appears to have slowed his aging process; an enchantment that, given to a man in his prime, would be a great gift. But it has trapped Billy in a 10-year-old body, and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever truly grow up without saying “Shazam.”
And he can’t get the old wizard’s dying words out of his mind.
“The darkness is coming…”