Black Panther and Storm
Of Monarchies and Democracies
Chapter 2: Power Play
Cuba 6 Hours Ago
"How long has it been since we received their last distress call?" Ororo asked of Cyclops.
"Over an hour and I'm beginning to worry." He looked at the chronometer on the plane, "Estimated time of arrival everyone, five minutes. Storm, perhaps you and Wolverine should lead the way."
Storm and Wolverine jumped from the plane and were gently propelled to the ground on air currents to the Sierra Maestra mountain range. This mountain range, which many depowered mutants now called their home, runs westward across the south of the old Oriente Province from what is now Guantanamo Province to Niquero in southeast Cuba, rising abruptly from the coast.
The former mutants picked this place for many reasons the most important being the Sierra Maestra has a long history of guerrilla warfare. Starting with the resistance of the Tainos under Guamá, the Cimarrón Neo-Taíno nations escaped slave cultures, and the Ten Years' War and the Cuban War of Independence. They knew the people in this region had an honorable legacy of independence and self-determination similar to that of mutants. Here, they found a home; here they were safe, until today.
Wolverine quickly assessed their situation and knew the outpost was only a mile away but a dozen or so hostiles stood between them and their destination. He used his communicator and updated Cyclops who decided that he and Beast would go straight to the outpost and leave Storm and Wolverine to take care of the hostiles in their path. Cyclops and Beast would search for survivors and take out any hostiles that still remained in the small village. "Radio silence for now Wolverine," commanded Cyclops as he flew overhead towards the village.
"Just you and me 'Ro," Wolverine smiled, "just the way I like it."
Ignoring his obvious attempt at flirtation Ororo said, "Lets hurry up Logan, I have an engagement to get to and I don't want to be late."
"You always have an engagement to run off to," scowled Wolverine. "We never have time to just sit and talk anymore. You're always too busy."
Ororo laughed and shook her head, amazed at his gall. "How many times have I invited you to Wakanda, Logan?"
"And how many times have you taken me up on my offer?" questioned Ororo as she closed the gap between them.
"Once," grimaced Logan, regretting starting this conversation and not simply going for the hostiles that were now closing in on them.
"And if I recall correctly my friend," Ororo said smiling, "that once was when I married T'Challa." Now very serious Ororo asserted, "We are both very busy people, Logan, but I'm here with the X-Men. It would, however, be nice if my friends would make the same effort and spend some time in my new home with my new family."
Now feeling like a selfish ass, Wolverine parted his lips to reply but leapt at Ororo instead, knocking her to the ground. As they tumbled to the hard ground, several bullets whizzed past, barely missing them both. Wolverine jumped to his feet, claws sparkling in the afternoon sun, sharp eye teething showing as he ran in the direction of the unfortunate soul who fired at them.
Storm's eyes turned from a majestic blue to a frightening white as electrical currents sparked from them. She rapidly surveyed her surroundings and detected several heat signatures converging on her location. She suddenly felt other bullets move swiftly and accurately through the air which gave her just enough time to avoid their impact. She flew low and fast at the offending man dressed in green and black army fatigues who emerged before her. Her speed and dexterity shocked him, for she was on top of him in a matter of seconds. By the time he knew what was happening, Storm had disarmed the man and broke his shooting hand using a simple wrist take down and lock move she learned from many hours of sparring with T'Challa. She turned away from the man and melted the gun he was reaching for with his remaining good hand.
Storm catapulted herself quickly into the air and behind two more men dressed in similar gear as they attempted to catch her unaware. She released two quick electrical bolts into their bodies increasing the intensity when she realized they wore body armor. As the electrical currents worked its way through their protective gear and into their bodies, they convulsed in shock, frothing at the mouth before they succumbed to the pain and passed out.
Storm could hear men screaming in the background with each of Wolverine's war cries and tearing of metal, clothing, and flesh. The agonizing screams seemed to emanate from all around her and she knew Logan was expertly tracking and dispensing with his prey with a quickness and ferocity that reminded her of her husband.
Her mind wandered for only a second to thoughts of meeting her husband in Hawaii after three weeks of globe trotting with the X-Men from one mission to the next, and she smiled in anticipation then grimaced as pain from sharp metal pierced her side and warm blood started to decorate her uniform. She shrieked in pain as the knife was pushed deeper into her side and she instinctually called lightning from the heavens to descend upon her assailant and consume his body in glorious rays of blue, red, yellow, and white.
Ororo slumped to the ground in excruciating pain all the while chiding herself for engaging in such an amateur move of allowing herself to become distracted on a battlefield and for not wearing the vibranium weaved outfit T'Challa made especially for her. Had she been wearing the suit, she wouldn't now be pulling a ten inch blade from her side. All of a sudden, she felt her weakened and bleeding body float into the air and realized Wolverine was carrying her. He frowned down at her and said, "Can't take you anywhere. I just fought off eight men and if you think I'm gonna fight your husband because we didn't return you in one piece you got another thing comin' lady."
Ten men in scuba gear emerged from the water unaware they were being watched and analyzed by the Black Panther. They stripped off their wet suits, tanks, and goggles and replaced them with green and black army fatigues, automatic weapons and knives from a duffle bag they pulled with them from the water. They spoke silently in the night air but not silently enough that their plan, to converge on the building at the far end of the beach, which housed two hundred national and international dignitaries, including the newly elected president and vice president, wasn't heard by T'Challa.
T'Challa knew he was the only man that stood between the ten soldiers of fortune and a building full of unsuspecting elected officials and Fortune 500 CEOs. If they reached the building, they would massacre the bunch, leaving economic and political crisis in their wake in the days, weeks, and months to follow. T'Challa took in his attire and remembered he wore a tuxedo to the party instead of his panther habit. While such clothing had served him well 30 minutes ago when his wife easily divested him of them, right now he sorely missed his usual attire.
Old school it is, T'Challa said to himself as he slipped out of his shoes and socks. Having left his jacket and tie in the gazebo T'Challa now only wore his dress white shirt and black pants. He pulled the sleeves from the shirt and wrapped them around his forearms and tied his socks around his fists.
The ten men broke off into teams of three as they sought out the building with bright lights, loud music, and a fortune to be made with each pull of their triggers and stopped heart beats. But everyone knew the real prize, the Golden Fleece if you will, was President Barack Obama.
The team was still sour about their failure to execute the X-Men earlier in the day, especially the Queen of Wakanda. Her death would have not only paid them handsomely, but would have also guaranteed she would be one less obstacle on their Hawaiian mission. As far as the team was concerned, the queen was probably in some San Francisco hospital having her knife wound tended to and out of their hair. Beyond the president's Secret Service, the only real threat the team worried about was the Black Panther.
While they would love to have his head hanging from their wall, they just as preferred avoiding him all together and was unaware if he actually attended the function without his wife. No matter, the team leader thought. If he got in their way they would eliminate him along with the others. There was a bounty on his head, the same as his wife, and they were more than willing to collect on this beautiful Hawaiian winter night. The team leader smiled and said, "Like pigs in a straw house, here come the big, bad wolves."
The Black Panther stalked the first team in the silence of the night, moving effortlessly as he descended on their location in a blur of fists and kicks. He expertly disarmed the men of their weapons, breaking joints with each fluid movement and silencing their cries before they reached the air with pressure points to the neck, leaving the beaten and broken men unconscious on the white sand.
Seeing the other two teams move swiftly towards the building, the Black Panther redoubled his efforts to overtake team two. The Black Panther reached the clearing that overlooked the building before team two arrived and attacked them with cat like precision before they could get off one shot. T'Challa back flipped out of the way of a man wielding a hunting knife and could instantly smell his wife's blood on the knife. While the knife was now free of her blood, his heightened sense of smell could still pick up on the faintest trace of it that lingered on the handle.
Knowing this was the man who had hurt his wife, the Black Panther angrily lunged at the man with a forceful front kick to his chest, sending him flying off of his feet and onto the ground. Wincing in pain, but still holding the knife, the man tried to stand only to be kicked in the mouth and descended upon. The Black Panther took hold of the man's knife wielding hand and placed him securely in an arm lock, forcing him to drop the weapon silently onto the sand. T'Challa wrenched the man's arm until he heard a pop which sent the man into a fit of pain induced anger.
He fought desperately to free himself of the predator only to discover his own knife finding a home in his side. He screamed as Ororo had done earlier at the sensation of the cold metal tearing flesh and ligaments and the blood that now flowed freely, tainting the sand in its ugliness. Before knocking the man out with a pressure point to the neck, T'Challa said, "Every impulse in me wants to take this knife and plunge it directly into your heart for what you did to my wife. Count yourself very lucky she survived and have taught me I can't be judge, jury, and executioner outside of Wakanda, no matter how much I really want to," he growled.
Having defeated six of the ten mercenaries, T'Challa jumped to his feet to see the last team with guns drawn approaching the same patio doors he had come out of a mere hour ago. He could see Barack was no longer on the balcony and took a deep sigh of relief, hoping his Secret Service agents were as good as they were supposed to be. T'Challa took off in a sprint toward the building, hoping he would be in time.
Michelle and Barack Obama gracefully moved across the dance floor while most of the guests looked on in awe. They were definitely a sight to behold and the love they have for one another was visible with each smile, look, and touch they bestowed. Slowly other couples joined them and were lost in the music and the exuberance of breaking the eight year Republican strangle-hold on the country. Michelle whispered demurely, "Congratulations Mr. President," and received one of her husband's award winning smiles in return as well as a publically appropriate kiss on the cheek.
Just as Obama was about to tell her what he had planned for them later that night to show her his appreciation for her support and sacrifices through the long and tedious campaign season, one of his Secret Service agents interrupted them. "Mr. President, we need to get you and the First Lady out of here right away." Obama looked from the agent to Michelle and eventually a few feet away to Joe, who had been dancing with his wife Jill, only to see another one of their agents rounding up the Bidens.
"What's going on?" demanded Obama in a low presidential tone.
"There are two unauthorized helicopters that have been detected on our radar as well as six unconscious men on the beach," the agent informed the president as he moved him and his wife quietly away from the dance floor and towards a secure location.
"Your agents subdued six men Agent Wilson?" asked a frightened Michelle.
"No ma'am, one of my agents on patrol discovered the men. They were unconscious and clearly dressed and prepared for battle. They had schematics of this entire area as well as a list of guests on their persons," responded the agent as they reached their destination.
He loaded the president and his wife onto an elevator which took them to the basement of the building.
"If your agents didn't subdue the intruders then who?" asked Michelle, more to herself than to Agent Wilson who was clearly in no mood to entertain her questions. His mind was on getting the new president out of harms way as soon as possible.
Agent Wilson had served admirably for former president Bill Clinton and refused to allow any harm to come to Obama or his wife on his watch. Agent Wilson had all of his paperwork for retirement filled out when he was asked to serve for the incoming president. Obama needed someone who was experienced, no nonsense, and garnered respect from his or her peers. Wilson fit the bill and while he was looking forward to sleeping in and rising late, he couldn't refuse the honor. Agent Wilson genuinely liked and respected Obama and though he would never tell him, he voted for him and celebrated with tears of jubilation the election of the first president of color.
His cinnamon colored hands pushed the couple back onto the elevator as he drew his weapon. He drew down on one of the four remaining mercenaries and without a word of warning let out two bullets into the man's head. Michelle yelled in fright at the blood that spattered their black limousine and the half face man that fell onto and finally slid off of the hood.
Another pop, pop, pop rang out as the elevator doors closed and Agent Wilson took a bullet to the shoulder as he ducked behind a pillar.
The three remaining mercenaries converged on Wilson's location freely firing at the pillar that barely protected his bleeding form. Steeling his resolve, Wilson quickly moved from behind the pillar, letting loose consecutive rounds into the head and chest of the closest mercenary. Both the mercenary and Wilson went down in a hail of gunfire. "God damn it," Wilson swore as he saw blood gushing from his right leg.
He looked up to see the last two mercenaries barreling down on him and he began to laugh. One of the men asked angrily, "What the fuck are you laughing about? You're about to be one dead ass cop and you're laughing."
Agent Wilson continued to laugh and weakly raised his finger and pointed behind the men. The men turned to see a very furious Black Panther standing before them. With inhuman quickness, T'Challa head butted one of the men, took his hand gun and shot the other man in his leg and shoulder. Not missing the symbolism in the injuries given to the last mercenary, Agent Wilson continued to laugh as T'Challa grabbed the other mercenary by the neck and roughly forced him to the ground.
"Are you all right Agent Wilson?"
"I am, thanks to you, your highness," he said with a laugh that sounded more like a cough now.
The elevator doors opened again filled with Secret Service agents who upon seeing the downed mercenaries and the Black Panther holstered their weapons.
Two of the agents grabbed the last conscious mercenary from T'Challa and the others went to aid their injured comrade.
"We were only the opening act," mocked the captured mercenary. "Wait until you see the real show." At their confused faces, the mercenary laughed like Agent Wilson had done, knowing this time he was the one with the secret behind his back.
T'Challa understood the mercenaries' ominous words and took off toward the beach followed by several Secret Service agents. By the time they reached the front of the building, they could hear the helicopters in the not too far off distance. Frightened guests started to flee the building and flocked onto the beach. Some ran away in terror while others were too struck by the sight in the sky to move one millimeter.
T'Challa and the others looked up to see two helicopters rapidly approaching, gun ports open and a small female form flying directly in their path. "I thought you said Storm wouldn't be an issue," yelled one of the mercenaries to his commanding officer as he saw her blocking their path.
"She won't be an issue as soon as you shoot that mutant bitch out of the sky," responded the angry commander.
The mercenary took aim at Storm and unleashed a battery of bullets. She created an electrical force field large and strong enough to hold the onslaught of bullets at bay. Concerned that the armor piercing bullets would reach the guests that continued to flock to the beach, Storm increased the width of the field.
"Get people back inside the building," yelled T'Challa to the Secret Service agents. "She can't focus if she has to worry about blowback." Heeding the king's orders, the agents started rounding up the guests and moving them to the relative safety of the building.
"What else can we do?" asked Agent Jenkins. "It'll be another five minutes before our own fighter jets can reach us. Can she hold them off until then?"
T'Challa looked at his wife and could hear her labored breathing. He knew she was exhausted and hurt, but she would never let the helicopter pass.
"Aw hell," exclaimed Agent Jenkins, pointing to the sky.
The second helicopter was now only a few feet from Ororo and its gun ports were pointing in Storm's direction.
"Get everyone inside agent, prepare a triage room, and gather any first aid-supplies in the building," ordered T'Challa. Before Agent Jenkins left on her mission, T'Challa grabbed her arm and said, "She's going to need a medical doctor who can deal with extreme physical exhaustion and sew up a deep knife wound."
Agent Jenkins nodded her head and asked, "Will Dr. Ben Carson do? He's currently tending to Agent Wilson."
"Yes, now go quickly, she'll end this soon and we'll need his expert medical skills sooner rather than later."
T'Challa returned his eyes to the sky to see Storm's force field being pummeled by massive bullets from both helicopters now. She turned briefly to see that the beach was now clear of potential casualties and smiled when she saw T'Challa stood on the beach alone. He took off the remnants of his white tuxedo shirt and waved it in the air. This was their signal and she turned from him and to the helicopters and the mercenaries inside.
Her limbs were weak from overexertion and the cut Beast had meticulously sewn was now a gaping hole in her side, bleeding out down her side to her hips, to her right leg and foot and finally into the water below. She gathered all of her strength, focused her energy and shut down the power to the threatening machines.
"What the hell is going on?" asked one of the pilots as his propeller wound to a standstill and none of his controls responded to his commands.
The air machines started to fall from the sky but were quickly caught by two strong funnel clouds. Storm struggled with the helicopters weight. Not wanting to damage or disrupt the life forms that lived in the ocean, she refused to allow them to fall. This meant she had to tow two 22,000 pound helicopters to the shore using only the strength of the funnel clouds, which was given force and form by the diminishing strength of her own body.
T'Challa looked on in absolute awe at his wife. He knew the mental strength it took for her to do what she was doing now. Her mutant abilities, while powerful, were based on the strength of her mind and body. And right now, he knew, it was her strength of mind that was guiding the machines and their cargo safely to shore.
Ten Secret Service agents now accompanied by local police officers converged on Storm's location as she gently landed the machines on the beach only a few feet from the building. The mercenaries were efficiently and effectively disarmed and placed under federal custody.
T'Challa ran to Ororo who was now slumped on her hands and knees, breathing heavily and bleeding out onto the sand. He grabbed her in his arms, applying pressure to stop the bleeding, and quickly followed Agent Jenkins into the medical room she and Dr. Carson had prepared.
Three hours later, Ororo awoke to find T'Challa sitting by her side brown eyes gleaming in relief. She went to reach for him then winced when she felt the mild throbbing of pain in her side.
"How are you feeling?" asked T'Challa as he saw her grimace.
"As well as can be expected dear; is Barack and Michelle okay?"
As if on cue, the couple walked through the door with relieved smiles on their faces.
Michelle gently took Ororo's hand in hers and gave her a private thank you in her ear. "When I invited the two of you to spend a weekend with us, I didn't think you would be fighting off a horde of mercenaries hell bent on recreating their personal 9-11," exclaimed Michelle in an attempt to lighten the mood.
"Well," interjected Obama, "when people are afraid of change and those who are different from themselves violence is an easy avenue to take. I'm just pleased I have good friends, like the two of you, even if we," he looked directly at T'Challa, "don't always see eye to eye on the role and type of government needed to run a sovereign nation."
"Don't start Barack," smiled T'Challa as he lovingly stroked his wife's white hair in a soothing back and forth motion.
"By the way," asserted Obama, "you never did tell me how you knew what Ororo was wearing at the party."
"Whenever I;m late, T'Challa lays out my clothes for me," answered Ororo. "It's his way of saving me time when I finally arrive and," she looked at her husband coyly, "ensuring my attire is suitably pleasing."
Michelle laughed and said, "Meaning, he picks out very sexy outfits for you to wear for him, and if you don't like his selection then you best start meeting him on time."
Both women laughed as they looked at a stoic faced T'Challa.
"Okay, T'Challa, one last question," contended the president clearly preoccupied with one missing piece to his puzzle.
"I understand your heightened abilities allowed you to detect Ororo's presence through both smell and sound and I also now understand how you knew what she was wearing." Obama scratched his head in confusion and asked, "How did you know what style she wore her hair in?"
T'Challa looked down at his wife and then at Obama and said in a smug tone, "I guessed."