Black Panther and Storm
Through the Looking Glass
Chapter 7: Equalizers
Cape Town, South Africa, 2026
President T'Challa entered the Mount Nelson Hotel's lobby. The Mount Nelson Hotel is considered to be the most iconic luxury hotel in Cape Town situated within a sprawling lush garden estate in the heart of the city's vibrant cultural center and close to the bustling V&A Waterfront and some of Cape Town's best beaches. The Hotel boasts six individual accommodation wings, each with its own unique character, private gardens and facilities. The 201 spacious rooms and suites are individually decorated and feature the latest in 21st century conveniences. Fine dining has long been a tradition at the Mount Nelson Hotel. They proudly offer their guests a choice of venues, each with its own individual style, allowing them to enjoy the very best cuisine in Cape Town.
None of this however mattered in the least to the president as he took a quick inventory of the patrons and hotel workers as he moved stealthily through the crowd. At the end of the long hallway was a banquet room named after the first African president of a post-apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela. The sign by the door identified Queen Ororo Iqadi T'Challa-Munroe as the keynote speaker for the Unified African Liberation Party.
T'Challa slipped in the back of the overcrowded room. T'Challa was sure that people sitting, standing virtually on top of each other just to get a glimpse of the future president of the continent clearly exceeded the sanctioned capacity of the room. In fact, the faux wall dividers that separated the three banquet rooms were removed in order to accommodate the overflowing crowd of supporters. With well over six hundred people crammed into the three banquet rooms the only voice that could be heard was that of the speaker whose image was displayed on six screens strategically placed around the rooms for all to see. Not a sound could be heard from the crowd who sat and stood in near silence as Ororo delivered her speech. They were totally enthralled by her words and calm despite the obvious discomfort of being so close together and the sweltering heat inside the room even with the air conditioning pumping at full blast.
President T'Challa stood for a long time simply staring at his wife. She looked strong and graceful in her gold and white ankle length silk dress. The dress hung snugly on her long voluptuous frame gently caressing the contours of her body. The bodice of the dress was moderately cut and her neckline was beautifully accentuated by her mother's ruby necklace that lay enticingly above the heart of her cleavage.
As she started to speak all T'Challa could think about was how much he had missed her and how much he wanted to shower her with all the love and passion he held deep within him for the woman he's called his wife, his partner, his soul mate for twenty years. A woman who in fact he loved long before such a commitment was recognized or sanctioned by the Panther God himself.
She began, "On May 2, 1994 in Johannesburg Nelson Mandela gave his acceptance speech as the first African elected to a liberated apartheid free South Africa. He understood then as I do today the importance of a people's movement for change when he affirmed South Africa's righteous place in the world with these words," 'I watched, along with all of you, as the tens of thousands of our people stood patiently in long queues for many hours- some sleeping on the open ground overnight waiting to cast this momentous vote. South Africa's heroes are legend across the generations. But it is you, the people, who are our true heroes. This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy- pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such a calm, patient determination to reclaim this country as your own and joy that we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops - free at last!
I stand before you humbled by your courage, with a heart full of love for all of you. I regard it as the highest honor to lead the African National Congress at this moment in our history, and that we have been chosen to lead our country into the new century.'"
T'Challa looked around and anyone who had been sitting was now on their feet cheering, some had tears in their eyes remembering the long fight for an overdue and long denied justice under the Boer regime.
Ororo continued building on the emotional torrent now swarming through the crowd, "South Africa like the rest of the continent stand at a precipice in history. Any political leader who wishes to lead this continent in the 21st century must be willing to accept the challenge to build a republic in which all people - irrespective of race, color, creed, religion or sex - can assert fully their human worth. After the slave trade, colonization, debt, apartheid, and despotism of the oppressed our people deserve nothing less than the right to life, liberty and property.
This vision cannot be realized until South Africa and the whole of Africa can participate fully in world affairs. Recovering from the ills that has plagued the continent for far too long will be no easy task. Conscious of this difficulty, the Unified African Liberation Party is involved in developing those policies which will be necessary to take Africa into the new world order as a responsible global citizen."
The crowd was in a near hysterical state as Ororo's words struck their very core like a bolt of lightning hitting its target.
"We have always embraced the cry for democracy across the world and a united Africa will therefore be at the forefront of global efforts to promote and foster democratic systems of government.
This is especially important in Africa, and our concerns will be fixed upon securing a spirit of tolerance and the ethos of government throughout the continent. There cannot be one system for Africa and another for the rest of the world. If there is a single lesson to be drawn from Africa's postcolonial history it is that accountable government is good government. On Election Day vote for the future of our beloved Africa, vote for the future of your children, vote for all those who have struggled and died so you can be here today, vote for the Unified African Liberation Party, the only party that believes in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
The rooms erupted into cheers, whistles and applause. People started to rush the stage screaming her name like a mantra but were pushed back by the hotel guards and local Cape Town police officers called in to provide additional security for the occasion. Ororo's personal bodyguards surrounded her serving as a human shield. They escorted her off the stage and through a back door that led from the stage to a hall with a private elevator which they promptly loaded her into with a swift military precision.
President T'Challa watched all of this unfold. For a minute he had forgotten why he was there and became nothing more than a spectator. He too was moved by his wife's words for he knew that she meant every one of them. Ororo didn't have a speech writer not because Wakanda lacked excellent ones but because she felt that her speeches should be written by her reflecting her own opinions and thoughts. She use to say, "How can I ask people to allow me to take on the grand responsibility of leading the second largest continent in the world if I can't even take the time to write my own speeches?"
The president refocused on the task at hand and quietly left the banquet room and headed for the hotel's garage. He approached the two guards standing near Ororo's limousine who from the looks on their faces were very surprised to see him. They stood at attention and greeted their king. T'Challa proceeded to question the men about their security detail and was impressed by their thorough knowledge of Wakandan security protocols and the queen's overly scheduled itinerary.
Ororo had handpicked the young men herself. Ambiola was the son of one of T'Challa's council members. Amina Ambiola's mother was the only council members' wife who didn't treat Ororo as if she was a leper when she first married T'Challa. In fact Amina had gone out of her way to befriend Ororo and make her feel at home in Wakanda. As a result, Ororo and Amina developed into good friends and Ororo became like an aunt to Ambiola.
The other guard, Bohlale, was the son of Bassey a fisherman from Black Water Creek who was killed during the Skrull Invasion. After the invasion Ororo and T'Challa visited each family of the fallen warriors and Ororo was immediately taken by the young Bohlale who reminded her so much of her young cousin who lived in New York with their grand parents. In the intervening years Ororo had watched his education, growth, and military training with great interest and when she felt he was ready Ororo honored him and his late father with the great distinction of serving as one of the queen's personal bodyguards.
T'Challa's heart sank as he remembered the fate of the two young men. Bohlale, like Ororo, did not survive the car crash. His body was terribly damaged from the crash in an attempt to serve as a human shield for the queen. His efforts weren't totally in vain for the queen held on long enough for T'Challa to see her one last time in a Cape Town hospital before slipping into a coma from which she never awoke.
With serious injuries of his own Ambiola managed to pull his self free of the wreckage and call for assistance. To say that he survived the crash would be a mere technicality. He had absolutely no memory of events leading up to the crash or the crash itself. Upon learning of the queen's death Ambiola mourned her and cursed his inability to carry out his duty to protect the queen with his very life. He swore before the Panther God to allow no harm to come to her yet harm had and he couldn't even explain what had happened not to himself or to the Wakandan Board of Enquiry. Overcome with grief and guilt Ambiola engaged in an act that went against every Wakandan belief-suicide.
As T'Challa inspected the car for any sign of disrepair or tampering he realized that in saving his wife he would also save the young men who watched him patiently with unabashed awe. "Even more motivation," thought T'Challa as he closed the hood of the car and bid the men goodbye. T'Challa took the garage elevator to a penthouse suite where Ororo was staying.
T'Chaka tracked Jon Kasiya, better known as Amun, down at a sleazy Cape Town motel only forty miles south of the Mount Nelson Hotel. Amun had erected a perimeter spell which allowed him to detect anyone approaching the motel within a one mile radius. Judging by the speed at which the person was advancing on his location Amun prepared for the worse, stepped out of his motel room and hid in the shadows.
T'Chaka cautiously approached the motel. While he could not see Amun his heightened sense of smell and hearing soon disclosed the assassins' location. T'Chaka bolted towards the shadow where Amun had taken cover only to find that he had abandoned the spot a few seconds earlier.
Like T'Chaka Amun had exceptional speed one that would allow him to run up to 160 miles per hour more if he pushed himself to the limit. And right now with T'Chaka fast on his heels he was pushing himself to his maximum speed. The two men ran across the rural area of Cape Town in nothing more than a blur to the locals.
T'Chaka came within a few inches of grabbing Amun when he cast a barrier spell that knocked the young man flat on his ass when he ran into it going at full speed. Angry, dazed and frustrated with his self T'Chaka continued his pursuit. Heeding his father's words to make wise decisions T'Chaka stopped and listened. He could hear Amun running not away from him but doubling back in an attempt to catch him unaware.
As T'Chaka braced himself for the attack he was sure to come Amun emerged from the shadows shielded by a horde of metal ankhs thrown expertly at T'Chaka's head and chest. T'Chaka evaded most of the ankhs which moved at bullet like speeds only one making it past his defenses to land in his left shoulder. The vibranium suit absorbed most of the impact but it did manage to leave a gash in his shoulder just missing the tendon of biceps muscle. Wincing T'Chaka pulled the ankh out and propelled it back at Amun finding a home in Amun's left thigh.
Bleeding Amun removed the ankh and threw it to the ground and rushed T'Chaka. From his dossier T'Chaka knew that Amun was an excellent hand to hand combatant and that he would test all of his Black Panther training tonight.
Amun expertly executed a front snap kick followed by a front heel thrust both of which T'Chaka blocked. T'Chaka countered with a side kick to Amun's right rib cage which was partially blocked then a front snap kick of his own to the shin. This front snap kick when done correctly is designed to break or severely bruise the shin of the opponent. This would have been the case if at the last minute Amun hadn't yielded thus reducing the severity of the attack and pulling T'Chaka off balance.
Seizing the opening, Amun used his speed to get behind T'Chaka unleashing a quick front snap kick to his lower back which sent the boy to the ground in a jolt of pain. T'Chaka quickly recovered however and swept the legs from under Amun and executed a quick elbow strike to his chest as he landed beside him. T'Chaka attempted to level another elbow strike but was blocked by Amun who forcefully grabbed the offending arm and attempted to put him in an arm bar.
T'Chaka managed to wrench his arm free but Amun was able to maneuver himself into a half guard position. Not liking the ground position he found himself in T'Chaka stands in his opponent's guard, controlling both feet to avoid getting kicked or swept. He brings Amun's legs tightly together and starts to swing his right leg in a big counter-clockwise motion. The swing carries T'Chaka's leg across to the other side of Amun's body where he sits out and lets his right hip hit the ground. A final adjustment of legs and arms brings him straight into side mount.
Now in the mount position T'Chaka attempts a cross choke hold. Pressing his hips against Amun's body and digging his heels tight into his butt T'Chaka puts his left thumb against his collar and pushes all of his weight down onto Amun. Cutting off air to his lungs T'Chaka says in a harsh tone, "Submit or you'll die from suffocation or a broken neck, your choice."
انني افضل الموت على تقديم was his answer. T'Chaka knew many languages Arabic being one of them. The Egyptian assassin just told him that he would rather die than submit. Wrapping his arms tighter around his neck and pushing his full weight into Amun T'Chaka asserts again, "Submit before this goes too far and we both regret the outcome." This time Amun said nothing only attempted to reposition his body so he could get air and counter attack but to no avail. T'Chaka held him fast his air supply quickly diminishing the more he fought the inevitable.
Seeing that Amun would rather die than submit T'Chaka quickly shifted positions took hold of Amun's right arm and broke it in two places. The man screamed in pain and in one quick motion T'Chaka moved to his lower body, put him in a leg lock and broke the already bruised shin. T'Chaka then used his panther claws to cut ligaments on both sides of the ankle joint that help hold the bones together. More screams and curses were torn from Amun's lips. Finally, T'Chaka cut the large Achilles tendon which is the most important ankle tendon for walking, running, and jumping. For good measure he cut the posterior tibial tendon as well which attaches one of the smaller muscles of the calf to the underside of the foot. This tendon helps support the arch and allows us to turn the foot forward. Amun continued to scream from the pain until he passed out from shock and the sight of his own blood soaking the asphalt in a morbid crimson.
While T'Chaka saw no need to deny Amun his life he made sure that the Egyptian assassin could be of no further harm to anyone for the injuries he inflicted would permanently disable the man. T'Chaka checked Amun off of the list and went in search of the younger T'Challa.
T'Challa stood in front of Ororo's hotel room door for more minutes than he cared to count. The guards stationed there gave each other quizzical looks as their king seemed uncharacteristically flustered and afraid. Finally he used the key card provided him by the front desk clerk to let himself in. He entered to find Ororo lying on the bed in a darkened room lights off curtains drawn. He gasped and thought "Déjà vu."
He slowly approached the bed not wanting to disturb her rest when a sultry voice said, "I wondered how long it would take you to make it through the crowd and to my bed." Ororo sat up and pulled T'Challa down on the bed next to her.
Astonished he said, "You saw me in a crowd of over six hundred clamoring fans and I thought I was the one with keen vision."
Pulling him in for an embrace Ororo declared, "I haven't seen you in a month dear I would recognize that sexy body in a crowd of six thousand." Whispering seductively in his ear Ororo mock seriously asked, "Have you come seeking favors from the presidential front runner King T'Challa? If you have, I must tell you that a post in my cabinet will entail hard work, long hours, and task commitment. If you desire the position you can submit your resume now and I will evaluate your credentials." T'Challa blushed having forgotten how flirtatious and sexy his wife could be especially after spending time apart on business.
"I missed you," he managed to enunciate right before Ororo captured his lips in a passionate all consuming kiss. She held him tight pressing her warm body against his separated by his panther habit wishing he had far less on and making it her mission to rid him of the barrier with all deliberate speed.
An hour later they lay in the comfort of each other's arms basking in the aftermath of their lovemaking. For T'Challa all he could manage to remember before the bliss took hold of his mind and body was the sight of his wife impatiently removing his habit, her tongue exploring his mouth, his face, his chest, his sex, and her rhythmic and melodic sounds of pleasure as they took each other to heights of unbearable ecstasy. Then there was nothing but the bliss punctuated by thunder and lightning and the unbelievable warmth that encapsulated their bodies as they floated above the bed.
Kissing him on his cheek Ororo said, "I'm surprised you came all this way considering that I am scheduled to return home in only two days. Are the children alright?"
T'Challa assured her that the children were fine conveniently omitting that the twins were also in Cape Town. Knowing that he had to give her a reason for his sudden appearance in the city, T'Challa told her as much of the truth as he could omitting key facts that would only trouble her more. T'Challa knew he was being overprotective but he wanted to spare her the knowledge of her death and the impact of the loss on her family. The sobering truth of hired assassins was more than enough to put her on high alert and appreciate the comfort, support, and protection that a husband can bring to such a situation.
Taskmaster examined the floor plans of Mount Nelson Hotel as well as an abridged itinerary of Ororo's engagements while in Cape Town he located in the local newspaper and cross referenced against the Unified Liberation Party's website. An old feeling stirred in his experienced bones which made him halt his actions and reach for his bow and quiver. He cautiously crept out of the trailer he had rented and took cover behind the newly renovated home.
N'Dare started to descend from the sky only to be assaulted by armor piercing arrows. She used her flight ability to quickly evade the swirling death dealers and landed a little flustered but otherwise unharmed. Taskmaster maintained his position behind the trailer home preparing to launch another round of arrows but was caught off guard by N'Dare's challenging words.
"Stop hiding Tony Masters. We both know why you are here and while I'm sure 2 ½ million dollars may sound like a lot of money to you it is nothing compared to this butt kicking you are about to take."
N'Dare hoped that her arrogant and well chosen words would draw him out and get under his very experienced and capable mercenary for hire skin.
Taking the bait he dropped the bow and emerged from the shadows facial features calm with an unexpected and disturbing smile. Making a thorough examination of the young woman who stood in her vibranium Black Panther habit Taskmaster let out an obscenely loud and vicious laugh.
"So little girl you think you can best me? I have feasted on better opponents than you and have more in my bag of tricks than you have years to your life. There is nothing in your Black Panther training that has prepared you for the likes of me. You best be on your way before you make me angry," he hissed.
N'Dare loved being underestimated almost as much as she loved a challenge.
He waited for her to run or fly away but she remained rooted in the same spot, unyielding despite his mocking and threatening words.
Knowing full well that Taskmaster possessed photographic reflexes which enabled him to match another person's physical movement no matter how complex N'Dare decided to test this ability. She started with Akido strikes and defensive moves. He imitated her perfectly. Only her youth and speed prevented him from landing or doing serious damage. She switched styles and attacked him with vicious Tai Kwon Do attacks and counterattacks. He followed suit and met her measure for measure. They moved to Judo, Tai Chi, Capoeira, and finally Hapkido. Taskmaster expertly copied every move.
He eventually tired of the little follow the leader game she was playing and went on the offensive. From his many years of study he knew everything there was to know about Black Panther martial training. He had mastered T'Challa's moves a long time ago and couldn't imagine why anyone would send a child to do a man's job only equipped with a limited arsenal.
As soon as the thought fully formed in his mind he realized his grave mistake but it was too late. The air around him became unbearably cold and his blood started to boil. His eyes bulged from their sockets and he stared at the masked opponent. She stepped closer to him and slowly removed her mask. She formed a wicked smile and dropped the temperature around him even more.
"White hair, blue eyes," his mind kept repeating as his interior boiled and his exterior froze. His limbs ceased to respond to his mental commands and his heart beat uncontrollably as the fire reached the organ. He felt death approaching but was unable to forestall the inevitable.
"That's enough N'Dare," a familiar voice said to her.
"I'll say when it is enough and right now he needs to suffer."
"He has suffered enough sis. You hold his life in your hands. What will you do with it?
N'Dare closed her eyes remembering her mother's flower draped casket and her father's anguished and lost looked when he told them that the ancestors had called their mother home. A flash of anger rose deep within her and a fierce wind sent Taskmaster flying against the trailer from which he had emerged only 20 minutes earlier.
His body thumped to the ground hard bones shattering. He didn't move but N'Dare knew he was alive. As angry as she was she controlled the force of her wind the way her mother had taught her.
"I knew you would do the right thing little sister," said T'Chaka telepathically.
"Little sister," N'Dare huffed. "You are only 2 minutes and 42 seconds older than me."
"Like I said," he countered, "little sister."
They both laughed reliving an age old twin argument.
"Meet us as soon as you can N'Dare."
N'Dare checked Taskmaster off her mental checklist and took to the sky to meet her brother and the king.
T'Challa climbed the rear wall of a warehouse located in downtown Cape Town. He deftly avoided the security cameras and used his panther claws to cut the security wire on the window. He quietly entered the facility and used his heightened senses to determine that there were no occupants. He searched the facility and found one room with the best computers that money could buy.
T'Challa hacked into the main computer which revealed an enormous amount of information on Ororo's speaking engagements throughout the southern region. Her trips to Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe were all documented with alarming accuracy. T'Challa looked at the other five computers in the room each one streaming different parts of the city. The mechanical genius Arcade had hacked into all of the city's major systems including Traffic Control. This system maintained the traffic lights and all mechanical road signs in the city. From one computer Arcade had total control of anything in the system that used either public or private communication grids and airwaves.
T'Challa realized that within the comfort of this very room, Arcade could have very well caused the car accident that took Ororo's life. He simply needed to manipulate road signs and traffic lights and an unexplained accident would result. None would be the wiser but the puppeteer.
T'Challa's senses awakened as Arcade entered the warehouse. He ascended the stairs unaware that he was now a deer to T'Challa's panther. He opened the door to his lair and was quickly subdued. The Black Panther lifted the smaller man off of the ground and pent him against the cold hard wall with a forceful thud that shook Arcade's entire 140 pound body. He knew why the panther was there and gritted his teeth. He had no record of him being in the country not to mention the city limits itself. He was thorough with his intelligence and knew that T'Challa was home in Wakanda minding the store while wife was away. Or at least that's what he thought.
"Who hired you?" demanded T'Challa.
"I don't know. I received all of my information via e-mail," he said in an intimidated tone.
Unsatisfied with the response T'Challa shoved Arcade hard against the wall again.
"What do you know about the attempt to kill my wife and don't tell me you know nothing beyond your personal correspondence," T'Challa warned.
Arcade took a deep breath and explained to T'Challa that his surveillance of the Cape Town airport revealed Deathstroke and Boomerang conversing as if they were old army buddies. This made absolutely no sense to T'Challa. Yes he knew that both men had come to the city they were in fact on the list that he and the president and compiled. But what he didn't understand was why those two men would be working together. Deathstroke didn't like to work with anyone nor did he have friends. He was a solo act who liked it that way. As far as T'Challa was concerned there was no rational reason for the men to team up on this mission or any mission especially when there were 2 ½ million reasons for them not to form an unholy alliance.
T'Challa tied Arcade to his computer chair and called Cape Town Police Department. He left an anonymous tip about Arcade's plan to assassinate a head of state and left the way he had come in knowing that the evidence on the computers would be more than enough for the District Attorney to send him away for a very long time. T'Challa didn't envy where Arcade was going and thought that a quick death would be more merciful than spending years in a Cape Town jail from which few returned even in a post-apartheid South Africa.
"The Black Panther is here in Cape Town," complained Boomerang. "That will mess up our entire plan."
"No it won't," assured Deathstroke. "We simply need to make a few adjustments to our plan and we will still get what we want. Get your gear and let's go; we have a queen to kill and a man to destroy."
President T'Challa watched his wife as she ate her dinner entranced to the point that he ignored his own.
Laughing with shyness Ororo chided, "Stop staring at me and eat your dinner beloved. You act as if you haven't seen me in ages. While I appreciate the sentiment dear you are making me a bit self conscious."
"Sorry sweetheart I don't know what is wrong with me today." He gave her a sweet smile that belied his apology. It was the same smile he used on the plane ride to Wakanda after his marriage proposal. It was that same smile that had her in his bed soon after and the same smile that brought forth many wet, sticky, and exhausting nights of unforgettable pleasure in the ensuing years. He was dangerous when he smiled at her like that for that smile made her body ache for the sing song moans that only he could fill her with and bring forth like the annual inundation of the Nile.
He took one of her hands in his and kissed it slowly sucking on one finger then another and still yet another. Ororo watched him love her fingers and heat started to rise deep within her and she reluctantly pulled her hand away conscious of eyes invading their private but very public moment.
Speaking low enough that only her husband could hear she said, "I don't know what have gotten into you today T'Challa but if you keep doing that I may not be able to control…"
She trailed off letting out a soft moan when T'Challa slid his right hand under the table to sensually caress her upper thigh and teasingly run a finger across a most private area in a most public of places. She gasped at his touch surprised by his level of forwardness. Leaning in closer T'Challa whispered in her ear, "Let us go for a walk beloved and see what kind of trouble we can get into."
The Mount Nelson Hotel was surrounded by acres of green plush carpet of grass. The couple walked hand in hand as Ambiola and Bohlale kept a respectable distance behind them. They talked in quiet tones about home and their children. As they walked past a row of white rose bushes something rustled a few feet behind them and when they turned Boomerang let loose two reflexrangs at the guards which knocked them out instantly upon impact. He then focused his attention on the couple and sent a razorang their way but T'Challa pulled himself and Ororo out of harms' way and behind a sturdy oak tree as the bladed boomerang went buzzing pass into the darkness of the night.
From the other end of the courtyard Deathstroke quickly converged on their hiding place unleashing a battery of throwing stars. Ororo quickly erected a force field off of which the stars fell upon impact. Ororo turned to T'Challa smiled and said, "Is this the type of trouble to which you were referring dear?"
"I figured if we made ourselves a target away from witnesses they would make their move," responded T'Challa. Ororo gave T'Challa a soft kiss on his lips and said, "You have suffered a lot to be here with me today. He looked at her surprised by the revelation. She lovingly stroked his cheek and continued, "Your heart and eyes speak the words that your mind and mouth cannot. You came back for me, for us, for our family and we will rewrite our future together."
T'Challa paused allowing his wife's words to take hold of his heart and flow through his body. She knew him even when it at times he didn't know himself.
Boomerang and Deathstroke slowly started to close the distance that separated them from their target. Deathstroke said, "You will lose your wife today King T'Challa and will have to go home and see the look on your offspring's faces when you tell them that their mother is no more."
T'Challa now felt that this situation was very personal and had little, if anything, to do with the presidential election.
"Who are you?" asked T'Challa as he took hold of Ororo's hand and repositioned them so that they weren't directly between the two assassins.
"Our names are irrelevant King T'Challa but our heritage is very relevant for we are the sons of K'VVR and K'ARRN of the Skrull Empire."
As he spoke these words, for the first time T'Challa was able to lay eyes on the true face of the men that were behind the death of his wife. Like all Skrulls they were green-skinned reptilian humanoids with large pointed ears, red eyes, and corrugated chins. Both men just under seven feet tall.
"You killed our father, brought shame to our family, and destroyed our mother. She was never the same after his death or the deaths of his men in a battle that any Skrull commander should have won easily. Our father was supposed to return to us, Wakanda being his last mission but…" He let the sentence die for everyone present knew what had happened.
'Boomerang' spoke. "You King T'Challa will understand the depth of pain that comes with losing a spouse and your children a parent. We lived it and so will your children. We will make you feel our pain by taking away what you hold most dear."
T'Challa looked at Ororo then back at the brothers. He already knew the unbearable pain and heartache of which the Skrulls spoke for he lived and breathed it the last three years. He was not about to go through that again even he had to slay the whole damn K'VVR family, he thought.
T'Challa and the twins hid behind a row of very large trees and bushes and watched the events before them unfold. After hearing the threat against her mother, N'Dare started to rise from her hiding place only to be forced back down by T'Challa.
"Let go of me," she demanded but was unable to free herself from his vice grip.
"Calm down N'Dare and enjoy the show," asserted T'Challa.
Pulling the twins further into the wooded area he whispered, "Your parents are more than capable of taking care of themselves."
"But...," said T'Chaka.
"There is no 'but' T'Chaka. Your parents will handle the Skrulls. Has either one of you ever seen them in action?" he questioned.
They both shook their heads no. "Good then you are both in for a treat. In order for you to truly understand yourself you must first understand from whence you came." He pointed to the couple who stood thirty feet from them. "Now let us go see what made two fine warriors such as you." The twins thought about it for all of five seconds and quietly moved to a place behind one of the trees that afforded them an unobstructed view.
T'Challa turned to his wife and asked, "Are you ready?" She squeezed his hand and took to the sky. The Skrull brothers took off after her. One turned into a pterodactyl with a wing span over twenty feet. The flying reptile was lightly built with hollow bones, a long curved neck, long skull, and no tail. His wings were covered by a leathery membrane which stretched between its body, the top of its legs and its elongated fourth fingers, forming the structure of the wing. Claws protruded from the other fingers.
The second brother turned himself into a dragon with large yellow eyes, a row of dorsal spines and leathery bat-like wings with no legs but a long tail that whipped ferociously as he flew. The brothers flew after Ororo one taking the east and the other the west to converge on her location.
N'Dare once again jumped to her feet but was pulled back down by her brother. "Not you too T'Chaka," she complained. "It is 2 to 1, that's not fair. Let me go so I can help her. I'm the only one that can reach her. Let me go!!"
"She can take care of herself N'Dare like the king said. It's hard for me to sit here and do nothing as well but this is her fight. Those two Skrulls were responsible for her death. They were cowards they let others do their dirty work and she never even knew she was prey. Don't you understand N'Dare they are her prey now and they don't even know it."
N'Dare sunk back onto the grass concern subsiding.
"You see N'Dare," T'Challa said gently. "We came here not simply to save Ororo but to unearth the true mastermind behind the plot. There was no way those warlord idiots could have come up with all of this on their own or been brave enough to cross Wakanda by killings its queen. They were diversions mere puppets in the Skrulls grand plan. It would not surprise me in the least if the Skrulls had impersonated the warlords in order to indict them and cover their slimy tracks."
The young woman nodded her head in comprehension.
"However," T'Challa said, "Your father has moved on to part two of his plan."
"Which is?" asked T'Chaka with a raised eyebrow.
T'Challa laughed and said, "Part one was to remove all the barriers and threats to Ororo."
"We did that already," piped N'Dare, "except for the two Skrulls that are chasing her now.
"Yes but that was only half of the plan," corrected T'Challa. The president has moved onto part two which he named 'In the eye of the Storm.'"
T'Challa laughed again, pointed to the sky, and said, "Watch children and learn why one should never threaten an African goddess."
The twins looked up to see thunder clouds forming and lightning covering the sky like a night light on steroids. The brothers flew after Ororo in an attempt to cut her off and trap her between them. She allowed the wind currents to carry her lean body deep into the atmosphere and behind her thunder clouds seemed to roar to mark her arrival.
The dragon shot fire from his nostrils at Ororo as he ascended further into her territory. The pterodactyl used his long wing span to propel him forward but couldn't keep up with the two. The dragon saw a glimpse of Ororo and left his brother behind in an attempt to be the first to reach the golden chalice. He bolted through the storm clouds fire blazing wings flapping against the sudden fall in temperature.
Ororo stopped a few feet in front of him and his yellow eyes glared at her. He opened his mouth to unleash molten hot fire which he pulled from the depths of his soul. It moved slowly up his body and settled in his throat. He opened his mouth wide prepared to burn Ororo alive and exhaled. Just as the fire left his mouth a gale force wind with the accuracy of a thread being placed through the eye of a needle pushed the fire back down his throat with such ferocity that it consumed his dragon body. In that same instant Ororo encased him in a huge block of ice and he burned from the inside out unable to transform as the fire scorched through him trapped in a body of his own making. As his body burned the ice melted only to be consumed by the atmosphere-leaving nothing but burnt scales behind.
The pterodactyl finally reached his destination only to find Ororo gone and his brother nowhere to be found. He flew around in circles looking for them but the fog that Ororo created virtually blinded him. He flew aimlessly. He changed his eyes to that of an eagle but was still unable to see one foot in front of him. His heart started beating faster and faster as he flew away from the fog only to be chased and captured by it at every turn. He suddenly felt a weight on his back but before he could register the fact that Ororo had landed on him she slipped her vibranium knife from its sheath, bent forward, and stabbed him in the heart. He squealed in pain and she twisted and dug it in even deeper. She released him and his body plummeted to the ground and onto the white rose bushes soaking them in his blood.
As Ororo descended from the heavens like a goddess time shifted and they all disappeared.
Wakanda, King and Queen's Bed Chamber
"That's one hell of a story," Ororo said as she snuggled in closer to her husband. "I can't believe I killed them."
"You did what had to be done the same way we did when we killed Commander K'VVVR," replied T'Challa. "He would have killed us and destroyed Wakanda if we had allowed him to do so. I know you believe that all life is sacred but all life isn't equally valued or valuable. And I happen to think that your life and the life of our future children are much more valuable than the life of a Skrull."
Ororo rested her head on T'Challa's chest and said in a loving tone, "You are my anchor, my lighthouse in a storm, my soul keeper and protector. If this experience has shown me anything it's that love endures." She kissed him and smiled.
Returning her kiss, T'Challa breathed, "Our love is true and has an indomitable spirit like our future children." He rolled her over onto her back and said, "Speaking of which I think we are overdue for our practice sessions."
Ororo gave him a questioning look.
"If we are to have children I think we need to start practicing right now."
Ororo giggled and said, "Oh we have to practice the art of baby making."
"Yes and you know what they say," T'Challa stated playfully. "Practice makes perfect or in our case practice makes three."
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