Shiva and Kali
Part 4 of The Replacement
Captain Marvel battles a forgotten old hero who gives him the fight of his life, when Shiva returns to face the menace of Kali, his deadliest enemy and his wife!
A man in his late forties walked down the street in front of the WHIZ building. Martin Martine could have sworn he saw a flash of red descend into the alley beside the building, so he ran over to investigate.
Once there, he heard a voice say, “Shazam!” Why was that word familiar? There was a rumble of thunder on a cloudless day, and a bolt of lightning struck from the sky. Martine was knocked out cold. He would awake in a hospital.
Martin sat up in bed, instantly recognizing his surroundings as a hospital room. Noticing that someone else was in the room with him, Martine switched on a lamp in the wall over his bed to take a closer look. A boy dressed in a red sweater and blue jeans was sleeping in a chair at the side of the bed.
Quietly getting out of bed, Martin stepped into the bathroom. But as he looked into the mirror, he screamed at what he saw there. It wasn’t his soft, middle-aged features staring back at him. Instead, it was a three-eyed monster with blue skin and orange hair.
“Holey moley!” said the boy, suddenly standing at his side. “What’s wrong?”
Martin looked at the boy, and another image imposed itself on his consciousness. He recognized the person depicted. After all, who wouldn’t recognize the world-famous Captain Marvel?
What’s wrong with me? Martine asked himself, thinking he was going insane. Then something clicked in his head, and memories began to flood through his mind uncontrollably, many of them painful.
“What have you done?” Martin asked the boy. “What have you done?!”
“I-I don’t understand,” the boy said.
“I can’t tell you the damage you may have caused!” said Martin. And then the middle-aged man shouted a very strange word. “BVSSGG!”
The boy in the red sweater stepped back as the air began to vibrate and swirl in a cyclical pattern around Martin. Blue rain began to fall up from the floor, bathing the older man. As each drop hit, he became taller and bluer, while a third eye opened in his forehead, two extra arms sprouted from the bottom of his rib cage, his thinning gray hair became long and fiery red and stood straight up from his skull.
Martin’s hospital gown became a tunic of golden links. Silver bracelets, armlets, and anklets wrapped around his limbs. The transformation had taken only a few seconds.
“Holy moley!” said the boy. “What are you?”
“I am Shiva the destroyer,” said the figure. “You should have left Martine where he lay.”
“Shazam!” cried Billy Batson, calling on the lightning that caused his own transformation. Captain Marvel stood in the room when the smoke cleared.
“You have unleashed a menace on the world,” said Shiva, pushing past Marvel to get to the window.
“Hold on,” said the big red cheese, grabbing one of the other man’s four arms. “You need to explain yourself.”
“I don’t need to explain anything,” said Shiva. He twisted to bring Captain Marvel in front of him as another arm swung a large fist. The world’s mightiest mortal exploded through the window from the force of the blow.
Captain Marvel corrected his trajectory in mid-flight, but Shiva struck again. This time his red form was sent sailing into the street far below.
Pulling himself from the crater in the street, Captain Marvel watched as the four-armed giant had kept moving, soaring through the air with incredible speed. The Captain took to the air after the menace. He couldn’t let something like that run loose, not with the power that he had already displayed, and certainly not after he had referred to himself as the destroyer.
The blue-skinned man flew to the outskirts of Fawcett City, and Captain Marvel followed closely. Shiva, Martin’s alter ego, landed in front of a dilapidated farmhouse, and Marvel hovered over the scene as the other man pushed the door open.
Then Shiva flew through a wall, digging a trench in the ground. The building shook as it began to collapse in on itself.
Captain Marvel watched as monstrous tentacles ripped the house to pieces. A woman with shadow-black skin and four arms stood in front of the expanding monster. She laughed as Shiva climbed to his feet.
“I’m here to take my pound of flesh, Martin,” said the woman. “You and this world are about to suffer as never before.” She began to laugh.
“I don’t think so,” said the transformed Martin Martine, launching himself at the woman. In a moment, they became battling blurs as the weird thing continued to grow and stretch its limbs forth.
Captain Marvel realized instantly that it would be up to him to stop the growing monstrosity. Shiva and the woman were going at it full-bore. Marvel knew joining the battle with the creator of the problem would not solve the mess already made, so Marvel tried to gather up any of the tentacles he could reach. One flick sent him flying into the ground. His body dug a trench before he crashed into a tree and broke it in half. He shook his head to clear it.
“Holy moley,” he said to himself. He hadn’t expected that kind of power. Only the Anti-Monitor had struck him that hard before. Not even Black Adam or Superman had come close.
Shiva’s arms flashed as he battled with his nemesis. There was one answer to the problem. He had used it before, and would not hesitate to use it now. He just needed Kali to be distracted at the right moment. But how could he arrange a distraction for her?
Glancing around, his eyes fell on Captain Marvel picking himself up out of a trench in the ground. He smiled slightly. One distraction coming up.
Shiva waited for his chance. When he was able, he caught an arm in two of his hands, then instantly spun in place at the top of his lightning speed. He let go of his grip, sending the maddened Kali crashing into the ground at Captain Marvel’s feet.
The four-armed menace jumped to her feet, then swung at the big red cheese with a clawed hand. Captain Marvel blocked and blocked again as she came on.
“What is wrong with you?” he asked the woman. “Can’t you see that thing is going to keep growing until it wrecks the city?”
“I want it to,” the woman said.
Shiva hoped Captain Marvel was a match for his old foe. Otherwise, he had only bought a few seconds. He traced a pattern around the still-growing tentacle thing while ally and foe crashed against each other.
When he was ready, Shiva hovered over the creature and the chalk drawing. He began pronouncing unintelligible words quick and sure, and the traced pattern began to glow eerily.
“No!” said Kali, half-turning from Marvel in rage. “You won’t stop me again.”
That was an opening that Captain Marvel couldn’t let slip by. He slugged the four-armed woman hard. She flew into the wreckage of the house.
She picked herself up as Shiva finished his recital. “What have you done, husband?” she screamed as a black vortex began to suck her and her fellow captive away.
“I have returned you to exile, wife,” Shiva said, “as well as my other self.”
The vortex snapped shut on both creature and woman, and the pattern dispersed in a flow of wind.
“What just happened here?” Captain Marvel asked.
“You have saved the world one more time,” said the blue-skinned man. “What more do you need to know?”
“A lot,” said the big red cheese.
“I’ll tell you what I can as we fly,” said Shiva. “I only have a little time left to me.”
The two heroes flew through the air easily.
“In the ’50s, after you had been launched into space,” Shiva began, “other villains and threats still sprouted forth to do harm and wreak havoc in your absence. I was a young man at this time and noticed a tunnel underneath my school. I investigated to see where the tunnel led. It opened into a huge chamber lit by a brazier. An old man waited for me there.
“The old man said that a new champion was needed until you returned to take up your duties again,” continued Martin. “He gave me my powers, and I fought the good fight for some years. My wife — my future wife at that time — was also granted her powers by the old man. We were inseparable for a long time until our downfall.
“My wife began to delve into her powers and realized she could call forth those to serve her and remake the world in her image. I also possessed such powers and knew I must bind her and anything she summoned away from earth. I did so, with the provision that my loss of memory would hold her in place. So I gave up my other self and became an ordinary man again. Then I encountered your lightning, and remembered everything and thus inadvertently unlocked Kali’s cell to allow her passage to the real world.”
The two heroes landed outside a nondescript house on the other side of the city.
“What are you going to do now?” Captain Marvel asked.
“I’m going to forget again. Goodbye, Captain,” said Shiva. “BVSSGG!” the hero said, bringing back the blue rain one last time.
Martin Martine looked around. He was alone on the sidewalk in front of his house. He walked into his house, wondering to himself how he had got home. Maybe he’d figure it out one day.