DC Universe: Challenge of Shazam, Chapter 4: Darkness at the End of the Tunnel

by Arcademan and Blackwolf247

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Andrea Thomas looked into the sky and thought to herself, There seems to be no way to escape your destiny.

Quickly ducking to the side of the college building, Andrea looked around to make sure no one was spying on her and spoke aloud.

“Mighty Isis!”

A shining light arose around her, and where once stood Andrea Thomas now stood Isis, dressed in white and wearing the sacred ruby amulet, with a jeweled tiara on her head.

“Zephyr winds that blow on high, lift me up so I can fly!”

Once the powerful incantation was spoken, she levitated up into the cool morning sky and began to fly in the direction she had seen the Black Adam wannabe carry Freddy Freeman.

If this person is as strong as any of the Marvels, then I’ll be in for a real fight, thought Isis. Maybe it’s time to summon some help of my own. And after a moment’s thought she came to the conclusion. If there’s a family of Adams, then I will summon the family of Marvels — the Lieutenant Marvels.

First stop was Tennessee, where the Mighty Isis landed in front of a trailer. Within, one Billy Batson was sitting in front of the television, watching some old shows.

“Hill Billy Batson, you are needed!” said Isis.

Before Billy could utter a sound, they both disappeared.

Second stop was Texas. There, another Billy Batson was waiting for his next impersonation gig to cover the rent, when suddenly Isis appeared in front of him.

“Tall Billy Batson, you are needed!”

As Billy gasped, the both of them disappeared.

Third stop was Brooklyn Memorial Hospital, where a third Billy Batson was laying in bed, trying to recover from a coronary episode brought on by obesity. His eyes fluttered open to see the Mighty Isis. Standing on each side of her were the two other Billy Batsons.

“Fat Billy Batson, you are needed!” she said.

Fat Billy looked up at the three and said, “Sorry, guys. I’m not in the position ta help out this time.” His voice sounded weaker with each passing moment.

“Fear not, friend Billy,” said Isis in a calming tone, then uttered an incantation.

“Magic lightning from the sky, strike down to deliver their powers nigh!”

And at the same moment, all three Billy Batsons yelled out, “Shazam!” When the smoke cleared, there stood once again the three Lieutenant Marvels.

The Mighty Isis recapped what she had witnessed earlier over at Columbia University to the Marvels. Tall Marvel came up with the only possible solution.

“We’ll split up, and using our super-speed, we should be able to find them and bring our friends back home.”

All three then flew off in different directions. As they did, they all heard the voice of Isis within their minds.

“If you find out the location of our captured friends, let us all know. This has all the makings of a trap, and even our combined powers may pale in front compared to our unknown foes. Be careful.”

***

The newest member of the Black Adam Family, Black Athena, flew into the hidden cavern where Billy Batson, Mary Batson, and Freddy Freeman were bound and gagged. She deposited Caitlin O’Malley and Uncle Dudley, likewise bound and gagged, next to the first three captives. She made a sweeping bow toward Black Adam and the old wizard.

Black Adam looked at his captives and sneered. “Well, the mighty Marvel Family. So much for the mighty part. You now see who has the world’s mightiest family… nay, the mightiest family in the universe!

All four members of the Black Adam Family laughed out loud.

The evil wizard put his hand on Black Adam’s shoulder. “We have some unfinished business to deal with, if you know what I mean.”

“Ah, yes,” said Black Adam, “the old wizard himself. I’ve been waiting for this day since he banished me from this world. Finally, my revenge will be complete!” Adam then turned to his family. “You three — keep an eye on these fools. If they so much as move, kill them!”

And upon his command, both the evil wizard and Black Adam disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

However, their exit from the cave produced a faint flash of magic light that was seen by Tall Marvel. He rushed to gather the other Lieutenant Marvels and Isis to tell them what he had just witnessed.

“Right here, guys — and you, too, ma’am — right above a cave on the outskirts of town here.”

Fat Marvel looked at the others. “Here we were flying all over the world looking for our buddies, and they were in Fawcett City all along.”

“Well, what are we all waiting for?” said Hill Marvel. “Let’s go get them out, already!”

As the four heroes arrived at the opening of the cave, the Mighty Isis spoke out once again.

“Powers of Ra, in great force, help us free our friends from their evil source!”

On cue, the entire side of the cave came crashing down, revealing the three members of the Black Adam Family, as well as their captives.

“Up and at ’em, Marvels!” yelled Hill Marvel as each Lieutenant Marvel took on an opposing member of the Adam Family.

Isis ran to the captives. “Ropes and cloths that bound my guess, fly off and rescue them from this mess.”

Almost instantly, the ropes and gags that held Billy, Mary, Freddy, Uncle Dudley, and Caitlin began to unravel themselves.

Billy was the first to talk. “Free at last! Thanks, Isis!”

The five stood up and yelled out all at the same time the name of the ancient wizard, “Shazam!” While Freddy shouted the name of his hero, “Captain Marvel!” But the magic lightning was intercepted by a flying figure.

“I don’t think so!” The magic lightning was absorbed before it reached the Marvel Family. The flying figure then unleashed bolts of her own, aimed at all the members of the Black Adam Family and the Lieutenant Marvels. They were instantly converted back to their mortal forms. Before they could react, they were rendered unconscious with a second blast of normal lightning. Before Isis could come up with a spell to shield her, she, too, was knocked out.

As Billy looked up, he saw floating above them the figure who had absorbed the magic lightning and then knocked out the combatants. “Hi, guys. Remember me?”

Mary spoke out. “Chain Lightning! What are you doing here?”

“I’ve been seeing all of these beautiful, powerful bolts of lightning striking all around here, and I figured, hey, I sure can use a pick-me-up, and I can get rid of you brats all at the same time.”

Freddy turned to Billy, Mary, Dudley, and Caitlin. “Quick! Say the words!”

“Shazam!” and “Captain Marvel!” yelled the group.

Nothing.

Chain Lightning pointed straight up into the sky outside of the cave, and it was pitch-black. There were no sun or stars, but eternal unending darkness in every direction.

“Did I mention the little friend I brought along — Darkling?”

Billy knew he escaped from one kind of danger right into another kind. Darkling’s powers came from Satan himself, a cloak of darkness so dense that even the magic lightning couldn’t penetrate it. With Mighty Isis and the Lieutenant Marvels unconscious, and the magic lightning blocked, they were surely in a pickle now.

***

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Fawcett City, Jim and Susan Barr were enjoying a rare moment of free time and having a picnic in the park when Susan pointed toward the sky over the city.

“Jim, the sky — it’s suddenly turning pitch-black. What’s going on?”

“Only one person I know can create such darkness: Darkling. Quick! Into our costumes!”

Moments later, two figures streaked across the sky with the speed of bullets, toward Fawcett City and the darkness.

Bulletman and Bulletgirl were well aware of the power of Darkling, and they activated their Shazam’s Squadron of Justice emergency beacons as they flew. Minute Man answered. He, Spy Smasher, and the new Mister Scarlet and Pinky the Whiz Kid were just beginning a combat training session, and in the Gyrosub they could be there in minutes. So the Bullets slowed their headlong flight and waited for reinforcements.

That was probably not their best choice, as Chain Lightning saw the Gyrosub coming and called in her own reinforcements. She blasted Black Dionysius, Black Athena, and Black Sheba with magic lightning, and they regained consciousness as they changed. Chain Lightning pointed out the approaching Squadron of Justice. “Take ’em out, or go back to sleepy-land!

Bulletman and Bulletgirl both quickly figured they were in deep trouble when they saw the chaos in front of them. Both immediately leaped into action, and their attack was countered by Black Dionysius and Black Sheba, who quickly used their strength to take the heroes out.

Minute Man, Mister Scarlet, and Pinky the Whiz Kid rushed in to help, and within seconds they were also unconscious, or so the villains thought. Pinky was a sly kid; she feigned unconsciousness, and when they weren’t looking, she maneuvered over to Uncle Dudley, who was relatively unhurt. The two of them snuck out the entrance to regroup.

Bulletman rebounded fast and started punching Black Dionysius, but to no avail. The young villain enjoyed the feeling of someone hitting him without him feeling it. Laughing, he swatted the hero and sent him flying. Bulletgirl groaned, and Black Sheba kicked her in the head.

Darkling looked over the remains of the battle and shrugged. Two powerless ones had escaped; well, they would be no problem. An old man and a girl who had no known powers could hardly equal any of this crew.

“Gather around, troops! Let’s take these fallen ones back to, well, a certain location — one the Confederation of Hell has prepared for this event.”

***

Elsewhere, the wizard Shazam and the visiting Ibis the Invincible watched events unfold in a large crystal ball.

“It does not look good, my friend,” Ibis said. “For the first time in years, I fear for our friends.”

Shazam looked thoughtful. “I have an idea. Hopefully, there is time.”

Ibis the Invincible nodded, knowing that the old wizard could always pull both rabbits out of hats and hats out of rabbits.

Shazam went over to his personal altar and had begun a chant, when Black Adam and the evil wizard suddenly appeared. “Boo!” shouted the evil wizard, feeling gleeful.

Ibis raised his Ibistick, preparing to cast a spell, but was swiftly cold-cocked by Black Adam. “None of that, magician!” the black-clad villain exclaimed.

Shazam had vanished while the evil ones’ attentions were on his old friend.

“By the powers of hell, that Shazam cannot escape me long!” Black Adam looked at his new mentor. “Could he be invisible?” he asked, then felt a tingling and passed out.

The evil wizard picked up his protégé, and with a wave of his hand, they both disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Regaining visibility, Shazam went to check on Ibis the Invincible.

***

Elsewhere, Pinky and Uncle Dudley watched their friends being carried away.

“I wish I could do something! Anything!” the teen crime-buster sputtered, feeling totally frustrated with her inability to act.

Uncle Dudley nodded. “There has to be something we can do, but what? I can’t think of another super-hero that could handle this bunch. What with the most powerful of them already taken prisoner, and my Shazambago acting up big… What?” He pointed at a strange shimmering in the air. “Pinky, something odd is going on here.”

A young man appeared before them. “My brother and his friends have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, but I have connections elsewhere. Shazam called me in. And my underworld connections tell me where we can go.”

“Egads!” exclaimed Uncle Dudley. “Well, shut my mouth and call me Harpo! I totally forgot about Kid Eternity!”

Dudley felt something else, too. His body felt wonderful, like it hadn’t since about 1928 or so. He felt strong and powerful. “What the–? My, uh, Shazambago seems to have worn off! I feel like a new man.”

Kid Eternity looked at Uncle Dudley. “Somehow, you yourself have gained the power of Shazam! How, I don’t know, but come on — let’s go kick some butt.”

“If we can. And we probably can!” Pinky exclaimed, quietly wishing that she, too, could somehow gain some sort of power.

***

The evil wizard slapped Black Adam to consciousness. “How could you allow yourself to be taken like that, you fool?”

“Me?” Black Adam. “I don’t see the wizard or the magician in your clutches!”

“If you had not been so incompetent, they would be joining their colleagues even now. I warn you, Black Adam! Do not let it happen again!”

The evil wizard did not see Black Adam’s fist clench. But before the Egyptian warrior could say or do anything, the other members of his family and their two new allies entered their cave with several prisoners.

“I brought them all,” said Darkling. “We should be able to have some fun with these fools!”

“Yes, and we shall, as soon as we take care of the three now coming toward this location. Since one is a weakling girl and one a foolish, powerless old man, that will be simple enough for the young ones. And I shall dispose of Kid Eternity once and for all!”

All the evil ones laughed at the thought of what they could do to their helpless victims, all unaware that the Mighty Isis had regained consciousness and was even now making plans.

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