Unlike yesterday, he had an entourage stepping out of the line of SUVs with him. T'Challa wore the white suit he had on the day before, with a striking gold tie and pocket handkerchief. The cameras were immediately on him, loaded, personal questions hurled at him in an overwhelming, indistinct noise, and a squad of tall, burly men in suits pushing journalists away. "King T'Challa! King T'Challa! How are you coping with your father's death?" one journalist shouted.
"Do you think the relationship between Wakanda and the UK will recover after Kilmonger's terrorist attacks and your absence during them?" another harpy screeched.
"With Doomfist out of jail again, do you think it is a matter of time until he stages another coup and do you expect our help after your prisoner attacked our country?" a shrill voice cried.
"Is it true that you personally sold Vibranium to your allies to defeat political opponents abroad?"
"Is it true you know the secret identities of the other Avengers?"
T'Challa dismissively pushed aside the microphones shoved in his face as he walked under one of the many pristinely kept Westminster Abbey arches and into a tall building connected to the inside of the historic site. He walked up multiple flights of stairs to a set of grand oak double doors with golden handles and opened them, stepping into a cool conference room where the press and politicians of parliament sat in wait for him in rows of chairs. There was only one window with a clear view down the street to the other side of Westminster and to the top of Big Ben. A shared podium waited for him in the front, along with a stern, pale woman with short, gray hair, brown eyes and wearing a navy blue suit. She extended her hand first. "Your Highness," she said politely but her expression not faltering.
"Prime Minister," he said, returning a hardy handshake.
They turned toward the crowd, each standing in front of their respective flags. The Wakandan flag popped out, being a red stripe in between two green ones, a black circle in the center and a red panther in the circle with glowing yellow eyes, shrouding T'Challa in an intimidating presence he carried with his regality. Out in the crowd of the press sat Angela with a group of EMTs and doctors waiting, he noticed, staring up at him with slight aggravation on her face from not telling her such a vital piece of information about who he was. They locked eyes for a brief moment before T'Challa cleared his throat. "Good afternoon, everyone," he said, his voice holding such authority that within an instant the chatter ceased. "First of all, I would like to say how elated I am to be here with Prime Minister May, my father respected and admired her in his later years and I will do the same. Recently, as you may know and have strong feelings about, people carrying the banner of my people brought harm to you while I was not there, and I denounce them again in front of you- Wakanda's best interests are for the inclusion and harmony of all mankind everywhere, and through this time of adversity, we must strengthen our ties, not cut them. Under strong leadership from the prime minister, the UK has buckled down on terrorism domestically and abroad, and we see the world in the same way. We will continue to push back Russian and North Korean aggression, we will continue to fight cyber terrorism, and we will end the efforts of any remaining Null Sector militants who wish to take up arms with men inside our countries to prevent any attack like the one aforementioned, ever again. In a time of great international and societal strain, despite recent, turbulent, events from Earth or space, we will stand strong with you." He nodded toward the Prime Minister. "Theresa."
"Thank you," she said, "I'm glad I was able to see you rise to such a stage within the web of world power and I know we will stay good allies- we share the same values of freedom, liberty, and tolerance, and especially intelligence and technology. Our partnerships are vital in the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and degrading their presence here as well to keep the streets of Britain safe. Its finances are being hit, its resources drained, its leaders killed, its soldiers deserting, and thanks to Wakanda's efforts, their Libyan sects have been depleted to the point of nullification. However, we must be aware that they will try to find a safe haven wherever they have not gone before, therefore it is the effort of the global power community working together to keep them from stepping over the line, which England is at risk of, every day. His father, both the king and the Black Panther, fought alongside us in the Omnic Crisis in calming King's Row in order to cultivate the last bastion of hope on either side of the war, Wakanda was there for us then and his son carries the spitting image, all the same values with a new virility, but I digress. Onto today's matters, mainly the import of vibranium, we have time to discuss it all and have time for questions at the end."
She cleared her throat, hearing some coughing in the back of the room. T'Challa recognized it as a choking cough, and soon, the entire back row was stricken with the same attack. Immediately, Angela stood up with several other elite medical professionals and turned around. "Everyone, get down!" Angela shouted. The blood of everyone in the room went cold as a thick, gray smoke filled up the room from the back. The glass in the windows shattered and the sounds of many heavy footsteps put the room into a hacking frenzy. Two gunshots rang out clearly from the center of the room, stunning some into silence and others into a wild, screaming panic.
T'Challa and the prime minister were on their stomachs on the ground, both keeping their cool enough for Theresa to call an ambulance and the police through frightened whispers. "Do not worry," T'Challa assured her.
"Stay down," a deep, raspy man hissed through the smoke, "you may not see me, but I can see you. Anyone who wants to be a hero will die like one."
The room was struck by silence.
"Good, this won't take very long," he said. The smoke cleared quickly, as if it was retracting from the mask of the tall, lean man wearing a long, black, oilskin duster with a cloak and gray, shining steel mask in the design of a distorted skull with wide, slanted slits for eyes. He was armed to the teeth and wore heavy, black metal boots, with two single-barreled, sawed off shotguns with glowing red sights. Underneath wraps and slings holding ammo and burning red canisters that seemed like some type of grenade was a sleek, black leather combat suit. Whoever this man was, it was obvious he was no rookie to this.
"Why are you doing this?" Theresa asked, keeping her face hard and unmoving for the sake of everyone else in the room. "Whatever it is you want, I assure you that nothing you do here today will give it to you."
"I am not here for you to give," he said, stepping past her and lifting the king up to his knees in surprising strength. A cold barrel end pushed into T'Challa's head. "I am here to take."
T'Challa's expression was cold and uncaring, saying nothing.
"You and your friends have caused quite the stir among my colleagues this past year," he said, "and frankly, everyone's impressed, by you especially, sadly, you'd be a hindrance to our goals- my boss apologizes in advance, and he promises to send his regards to your mother."
T'Challa stared into the black pits he had for eyes. "You are only going to make this more humiliating."
The assassin laughed, cocking his gun. "Tell me, how long did you know you were a dead man walking, T'Challa?"
"Reaper!" Angela called out, pulling his finger off the trigger. "Gabriel, stop it! It's me you want, you will only dig a deeper hole for yourself if you end that man's life!"
Reaper kept his stare on the king. "I'm already dead, Mercy, yes, my job is to haunt you for the rest of your days, but I too have orders." He cocked his second gun pointing it back at the doctor in scrubs and a white lab coat. "Any last words?" he asked, drawing the second gun and aiming it at the king's heart.
"Yes, actually," T'Challa said, his voice low and dangerous. "The Black Panther has been a protector of Wakanda for generations," he said, "and now, it is time to show the outside world who we are."
Reaper squeezed both triggers, granting not the slightest response to the king except for two booming gunshots. Angela and the Prime Minister clutched their chests in fear, however the sound of the blast crunching wood instead of bone turned fear into disbelief. Reaper looked down, seeing the king leaned out of the way of his barrel just before the blast.
"It's just always a pity," T'Challa said rising like a snake, trapping both arms and twisting the guns from his hands with such speed not even a bullet could keep up. Reaper looked down at his guns sprawled behind the king and back at his target again with his arms open and his stance wide. "Because someone must take the fall to do so."
The palms of Reaper's hands glowed bright red and the shotguns flew to his hands. "You're not leaving here alive!"
T'Challa moved with impeccable speed for his size, planting a sidekick into his chest so hard he flew out of the room. "You wanted Wakanda, yes?" he shouted, everything he wore turning black and shining, with silver lines outlining his muscles and drawing diamond motifs on his chest. Around the neck were multiple pointed crafts of silver around the neck like a built-in royal necklace, and his black gloves popped out claws for each finger. His shoes were jet black as well, his footsteps silent like a stalking predator. Finally, a black helmet in the shape of a mouthless panther with shining, silver eyes phased onto his face from the thin force field he used to conceal his costume. "Then you will get Wakanda!" The bystanders flattened themselves to the walls while Angela ran alongside the king.
"First you're the king of Wakanda, then you're Black Panther," Angela said with a slight annoyance, stopping just in front of the elevators and diving behind a steel trash can for cover.
"And you know this man," he replied.
"Difference is that I was upfront about it!" Angela shouted, kicking the trash can forward and lunging.
T'Challa darted behind the trash can, kicking it harder and shielding her from the shotgun blasts. "And yet I still do not know who you are," he said, leaping forward and kicking Reaper in the face. Reaper stumbled back through the wide lobby of the conference room into the elevator doors and took a strong right hook to the face. The king winced in pain at a point-blank shotgun blast to the chest. T'Challa rolled back and rolled to the side and dodged a second blast.
"I will tell you about it at dinner," she said, seeing the shotgun spread drop from his stomach. "You've been hit!"
T'Challa pounded his chest. "So tonight is still on?"
"Die, die, die!" Reaper shouted, charging forward and firing shot after shot. T'Challa kept his distance, bouncing off the wall and coming down hard with a spinning drop kick. His foot fell straight through Reaper as his form dissipated into a mass of black smoke.
T'Challa heard the click from behind him and he ducked, throwing an elbow back through another pillar of smoke. The smoke rose, holding onto the chandelier and depositing into Reaper again. "I am not a doctor," he said, dodging shotgun blasts as if he could see where they were coming from before Reaper even aimed, "but isn't that bad for your lungs?"
"I'm dead," Reaper said, turning into smoke and appearing at T'Challa's side. "And soon you will be too."
"Well, you said the first part correctly," he said, yanking the assassin toward him and planting a knee strike. He went in for another but kicked through mist, turning around to the barrel of a shotgun in his chest. Another shot rang out and the king stumbled back, naturally feeling a sharp pain shock his ribcage and sternum.
"I never half-ass my answers," Reaper said, turning into the black smoke again in T'Challa's face. "It's just only a matter of time before your armor fails and I turn you into a rug."
T'Challa ducked just before a bullet took his head off. He threw Reaper over his shoulder, grasping only smoke by the time he hit the ground. He heard quick and light footsteps around the room. "Angela, please do not interfere! I'm making him work for his money!"
However, Angela was long gone from the room, but he could hear her voice shouting over the hysteria in the room as she saved lives. He ran toward the assassin slowly backing toward the staircase and jumped as shotgun blasts bore holes just in front of his feet. He ran on the wall and leaped forward, landing a devastating jump kick in Reaper's face and knocking him down a flight. T'Challa leaped again after the tumbling man, nimbly racing down the railing and cutting across his face with shining claws. Reaper faded into smoke and T'Challa whipped around, taking the butt of one shotgun to the face and a shot that would have split his leg in two had he not kicked Reaper into the staircase. A roaring pain went through T'Challa's knee anyway as the impact terribly bruised it.
"You are a man who chooses to run when the opportunity is presented to fight with honor," T'Challa said, walking toward the gunman clicking desperately, "the worst kind of man."
Reaper pushed himself to his feet. "And what good is being a good man if we all end up in the same place?" he said, hopping over the railing and darting down the stairs.
Black Panther fell over the side, landing behind Reaper like a shadow and kicking him in the back. Shotgun shells spread all about the ground, with Reaper following them on his face in the wide foyer with the sound of a helicopter and heavy gunfire outside. "It seems your getaway didn't live up to its name either, Reaper, that is what you go by, yes?"
Reaper scoffed. "It's a title," he said, whipping around with both shotguns cocked and ready, this time smoke surrounding the barrels before firing, "but I prefer the last words opponents like you would hear is 'Death Blossom.'"
A bullet flew past his head immediately and another punched his chest hard, flattening him into the wall. Reaper turned into a mist but still held the guns, firing round after round far faster than a shotgun should. Black Panther darted around the room trying to stay calm with every near miss, but it was every bare bruising hit that edged him toward fighting for survival rather than justice. "What's the pattern here…" The mist swirled around him, hitting at every corner faster than T'Challa could dodge. He heard a click right by his head and ducked, slashing through the mist with a kick. A second click at his shoulder forced him to lean back as the flash passed over his chest and a third click was aimed just above it. He rolled to the side and rose with an uppercut, hearing a fourth click and spinning out of a leg shot. He heard the click aimed at his head again and sidestepped instead, darting forward and yanking the gun over his shoulder. "Got you!"
Reaper rolled to his feet and turned around but he wasn't nearly fast enough, taking a front kick that flattened him to the doors. He aimed his other shotgun at the charging hero, seeing a sleek, snarling black panther instead of a king before a fist cruised into his ribcage. He roared in pain and T'Challa could feel it reverberate through his fist as he crushed six ribs in one punch that broke down the doors. Reaper slid down the row of anxious reporters and looked up, weakly firing one more shot before clutching the right side of his chest, feeling bones shattered like glass.
The police had their weapons aimed at T'Challa as he stepped outside, picking Reaper off the ground with ease. "I might offer you mercy if you tell me who sent you," he hissed.
"He's very interested in you." Reaper's form slowly faded into smoke once again, dropping the other shotgun. "You will meet him soon enough, Black Panther," he warned him, dissipating into nothingness.
T'Challa looked at his hands, seeing the smoke thinning out. "Damn it," he cursed, feeling that this wasn't the last time he would have to fight Reaper. He also had a feeling he knew who sent him. He looked up at the other source of chaos, seeing a helicopter shakily escape from an angelic woman burning white and carrying a long staff in the shape of a winged caduceus. "Well," he said, seeing the staff form a green shield around her to absorb gatling rounds while she fired back with a blue plasma ray. "This will make for some interesting dinner chat." He whipped around and leaped onto the wall of the building, his fingers and heels glowing blue and allowing him to scale the side of the building at superhuman speeds. He hopped back into the window Reaper blew out, seeing Theresa bravely console and calm the journalists shakily snapping photos of the mayhem. He backed up, seeing stray rounds zip through the floor. "So, they call you Mercy?" he shouted, taking a great leap off the side of the building in a lunge past Angela.
She wore a white and gold angelic outfit similar to a Valkyrie, a white torso plate with shoulder pads and arm guards with undersides fading from a bright gold to a warm brown and black from her shoulder to her hand, brown spandex pants with black knee and leg armor that melded into black boots with brown bottoms, and white waist guards on her sides that protected her thighs and her pelvis and behind in longer pads that cascaded from gold to brown. Long, thin chinks were present in every piece of armor allowing her to move freely, but the chinks weren't nearly big enough. To further sell the valkyrie, her black neck guard was fastened to a golden halo set above her ears and jutting forward and upward over her head, and her wide, layered wings glowed gold. She watched T'Challa zip past her, sailing through the helicopter and slamming the gunman into the fire extinguisher on the wall. The pilot was tossed to the back and the helicopter whipped around, getting flown onto the top of the adjacent rooftop. "And you're not only the king of Wakanda, but an Avenger at that."
"You sound aggravated," T'Challa said, dragging the men out and sliding them across the rooftop unconscious.
"I would have prefered you would have said something about being T'Challa back at the airport," she said.
Black Panther chuckled. "I wanted you to meet me first, not my title."
"Yes, but it would have been nice to know that you at least had a name," Angela said.
"Fair enough, secret flying angel woman with a force field staff," T'Challa said, "but speaking of important information, why was Reaper after you?"
"We can talk about that later," she said, landing on the roof and her wings folding.
"So we are still on for tonight?" T'Challa asked.
"I was going to bail," she teased, "but now we have something to discuss." They both hopped back into the conference room to the bright flashes of numerous elated cameras. "Avengers don't seem to be the type to stick around- where will you go when the dust settles here?"
"I have an address to give," he said nonchalantly, tapping on his mic. "The rest, I'll pick you up at eight, unless you have plans tonight."
She smirked. "You work fast."
"See you soon." He winked, strolling back to his podium next to Theresa's as Mercy flew away.
"Sorry for the brief interruption, work called," he said, rousing a nervous laugh as he turned to the prime minister, "but that's all sorted out for now- we must continue with this address, or else we risk legitimizing their movement."
Theresa smiled, joining him back at the podium to an applause. "I couldn't agree more, but I think our audience has had enough for one day?"
"Well," he said, taking off the mask. "I still have time for any questions."
OKAY SO AS YOU SEE
REAPER GOT BUFFED TO SHIT TO KEEP UP AND HE STILL GOT HIS SHIT ROCKED
WHAT ARE MATCHUPS/SHIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE?!
I KNOW SPIDEY WASN'T IN THIS CHAPTER BUT HE'LL BE IN CHAP 4