Lost in Wakanda: Part I

April 15, 2016:

After vanishing into a jungle undergrowth, Caitlin finds her in the wild spiritlands of Wakanda.

Wakanda Spirit Wilds

The wild spirit fields of Wakanda, nestled in the cracks around reality.

Characters

NPCs: The Gods of Wakanda

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"Hello? Steve? Julia?"

Caitlin hangs on to a tree branch and cups a hand to her mouth. "ANYONE!" she screams, in a leaf-rattling bellow. She listens to the shuddering echoes of her cries fade away, and sags in frustration at no response. The sky overhead looks oddly bright and clear, and there's no sign of the civilization of Wakanda save for the most ancient Temple in the distance. More troubling for Caitlin, she's got no cell phone signal, and with a frustrated expression, she turns her phone off to save the battery.

"Well, guess that rules out begging Twitter to save me."

She hops down off the tree, plummeting sixty feet to the ground and landing ankle-deep in the soft loam. She steps out of the dirt and kicks it from her boots, and with a scowl at the sagging material of her outfit, starts stomping towards the Temple. "Bad enough I don't have a phone, now this stupid unstable molecules are getting all… unstable, and I'm so friggin' lost… this suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks," she whines, stamping her feet a few times.

"Lost, are you? Perhaps I can help you find your way…"

A whisper on the wind, a soft purr accenting every syllable, someone or something speaks. The source? Not readily apparent, though the jungle is thick and dark, the sunlight trapped high above in the treetops.

"The question is…"

The voice purrs again, drifting by Caitlin's ear as it sounds from behind her. Where once the jungle was empty, there now stands a tall, elegant woman dressed in armor that wouldn't be out of place in ancient egypt. On her hip rests a single khophesh sword, and across her back is slung a hunting spear. Perhaps most striking of all, however, is her face. Like the rest of her body, it is covered in soft, golden fur, and it possesses the angular shape of lioness' head.

"Are you willing to follow?"

Caitlin's eyebrows climb up into her mussy bangs when the creature appears. Because it -is- a creature— there is a sense of power and magic about her that is unlike anything Caitlin's felt, even from her unique associations in the Justice League and Avengers. Except from one— Diana. And she's basically a goddess-in-training.

"Uh….yyyyyyyyes." Caitlin hedges, then nods. "I am most definitely willing to follow anyone who can get me back to the Temple and a hot shower. I am gross and sticky and I don't like being gross and sticky," she assures the lioness with a sword. "Apokalips was at least a dry heat. This is awful."

"Er, not to, like, dump on your jungle. It's really nice," she apologizes a beat later. "Super pretty. I just don't like humidity. Iowa gets humid a lil' bit but it's mostly either cold or windy or just, crazy stupid hot. We only have two seasons, winter and summer. And road construction," she amends.

The Lioness' eyes remain locked on Caitlin as she speaks, but they slowly narrow. Her elegant, regal pose slumps fractionally and she slowly seems to grow vaguely dissatisfied with her reception from the non-Wakandan.

When Caitlin finishes, the cat-woman lets the silence hang for half a moment before purring out her reply; "Quite." Still, she drifts forward with soundless steps, the jungle seemingly parting before her noble stride to allow her through unmolested by branch or foliage. "Which temple were you looking for, Outsider?"

"The one with a shower?" Caitlin supplies, helpfully. She isn't being flip about it, either. "Or a bath, I mean, that'd be fine, too. I mean— I kind of assumed that it'd be a temple. Wakanda's an absolute monarchy with strong theocratic tribal overtones," Caitlin informs the lioness, with just entirely too much bubbling cheer and self confidence. "So it stands to reason the seat of temporal authority would be in, near, at, or -the- Temple. And because Wakanda's crazy sophisticated, I figure, where there's advanced technology, there's showers."

She eyes the lioness a bit apprehensively as the strange figure draws near, a coiling tension lining one thick leg as Cailin surreptitiously shifts her weight onto her rear foot. "Or… did I … misread the travel dossier?" she asks, her tone a bit weak as the prowling goddess draws near.

Unconcerned with the apparent combat readiness of Caitlin's stance, the lioness continues to stalk forward until she's well and truly invading the heroine's personal space, at which point she glides right on past her. Her feet carry her elegantly forward while she sends a soft, "This way," over her shoulder and slips into the jungle.

While the woman seems to effortlessly walk on some unseen path when the jungle parts before her, it all snaps back in her wake, leaving the way forward unsteady and thick with jungle growth. After a moment, whether Caitlin is speaking or not, the lioness' voice drifts easily back through the dense jungle…

"The place you speak of is the home of the Panther god and her cult. Their high priest, the Black Panther, currently rules this country, but their are more gods than his alone. The Gorilla god, Gheke, for instance, is a brutal god obsessed with strength, as are his outlawed followers."

Caitlin relaxes a little when the lioness stalks past her, and falls obligingly into line. If she notices the sudden rough going, it doesn't show. The girl doesn't seem slowed by razor-edged plants, thornvine, or even trailing cables of plant life. She sets a forced march through the jungle, her footsteps a perfectly measured metronome of one hundred steps per minute.

"Hah! Called it, temple," Caitlin says in a satisfied tone. "Okay, so Panther God, Gorilla God. You must be the Lion God," Caitlin observes in that irritatingly enthusiastic and too-helpful tone. "Unless you are also the god in charge of preventing wardrobe malfunctions, 'cause I did -not- pack out enough extra clothing," she asks the Lioness. She reaches up to her hair and pulls her hairband down over her brow, bangs sticking up high as she converts it to a comfortable sweatband. "What's up with this Gheke? Why's he such a raging buttmuncher?"

"A change of attire can be arranged," the Lioness claims, snapping her fingers. Suddenly, a powerful wind surges between the tree trunks, billowing onwards until it collides with Caitlin with the strength of a hurricane. For several moments it continues, howling past her until eventually it dies and in her hands appears a set of armor reminiscent of that worn by the women warriors who attacked her earlier that day. The only difference is that it also sports a magnificent mane of golden fur along the back of the top.

"My name is Sekhmet, and as you have correctly guessed, I am the Lion of these lands. I have brought you here to prepare you. Ghekre has taken an interest in your great strength, and has decided to test you to see if you are worthy of him. Instead, you will take his test, succeed, and when you are close enough, strike a blow that will render him vulnerable to me."

Caitlin blinks rapidly at the onslaught of the wind, and then starts emitting giggling peals of laughter as the magical forces buffer her frame. "Aauauaugh ahhhaha oh my god that tickles!"

The breeze dies as abruptly as it showed up, and Caitlin peers down at herself— turning back and forth to admire the outfit, then immediately turning crimson, starting from her high cheekbones and percolating down. "Oh, it's… um. Very… uh, easy to move in," she stammers, trying not to hide behind the very brief attire. "Thanks."

She strokes the mane absently when Sekhmet starts telling her what the plan is, and her green eyes open wide. "Wait, why is he gonna test me? I'm not here to fight anyone," she informs Sekhmet. "I'm just here to help Captain Rogers out and maybe rescue the pilot, and -possibly- because someone suggested that there was a hot prince who isn't married who lives here," she tells the goddess, a bit defensively.

"Wait, -you're- gonna test me too? What's the test? Is it multiple choice? I'm kind of weak on essay questions."

Sekhmet turns her head to peer through narrowed eyes back at Caitlin. When the wind draws only laughter from her, the feline's lips draw downwards slightly, but she responds to her questions all the same.

"I've already told you, Outsider. Open your ears. Strength is all Ghekre cares about, something you clearly have in excess," she claims, stepping out into a clearing that leads up to a large hill. Her steps carry her towards the top, and though the hill looked mild from the bottom, it seems to grow steeper and steeper with every footfall. "You will know the test when you see it," Sekhmet claims, walking completely perpendicular to the practically vertical slope of the hill in denial of all the laws of physics, "and you will fight, or you will never leave this jungle."

Caitlin starts falling back a little, step by step, as the hill gets steeper. She's deceptively heavy, and the loam and rocks are ill equipped to suit her weight.

"What? Who?"

"Hang on!"

"Hup! HaaaaayUP!" There's a huge surge of motion and Caitlin goes flying past Sekhmet's position in a pinwheeling array of flailing arms and brown Wakandan hunting leathers, landing substantially higher up the hillside. "Oh wow, that's WAY faster!"

Utterly ignoring the fact that the mountain's ostensibly a metaphyiscal representation of the struggle to climb, to achieve, to excel, even, Caitlin bypasses the labored efforts of generations of Wakandan royal youths and leaps skywards by measures best applied to a football field, using the sturdy, immortal trees for launching pads.

"I'm not really a fighter, though!" Caitlin calls to Sekhmet, clearly enjoying her summitting of the steep hill. "I always play a mage for tabletop night! Maybe we can just like, talk it out or something?" she offers.

"Or perhaps, you will not…" Sekhmet breathes out in minor irritation as Caitlin's shadow passes over her and bits of soil and vegetation fall on her from above.

"Ghekre is not much for words," the Lioness claims from beside Caitlin the moment she lands on top of hill, somehow beating the leaping redhead to the summit. "Your only options are to submit to his test, or be trapped in this realm for eternity." To punctuate her point, Sekhmet turns and points out across the vast, vast expanse of trees that seem to continue on into the distance with no sign of stopping. Periodically, large boulders drift through the air well above their position, and in the distance a massive tree with a trunk the width of a skyscraper extends up past the multicolored clouds.

"What is your answer, Outsider? Will you fight to return home, or wander these endless jungles until you die?"

Caitlin huffs and eyes Sekhmet balefully. "Maybe it's 'cause I hang out with Diana and Carol too much, but I'm not wild about the idea of 'submitting' to any gorilla-dude," she informs the lioness, a bit primly. She surveills the expanse of endless trees and gravity-defying boulders, and her broad shoulders slump a little.

"…that being said, Feminist Caitlin is marching fast surrender to Needs A Shower Caitlin," the redhead says, grimly. "So… I guess I might as well get this over with. Whatever this is." She gives Sekhmet a sidelong look, not seemingly perturbed by the lioness' presence. "Why are you helping me, anyway? Why do you care about me and Gorilla Buttlicker's little feud?"

"It is simple," Sekhmet answers as she surveys the landscape beside Caitlin, clearly enjoying the view. She doesn't explain what part, exactly, is simple, though, at least not until she turns and begins walking back down the hill towards the massive tree in the distance.

"When you have made him vulnerable, I will kill him and take his worshipers for my own."

Caitlin frowns at Sekhmet, and this time the expression is more thoughtful than confusion. "Uh… I'm not.. wild about that idea," Caitlin informs the lioness. "Like, I'm not gonna stand around and let him smack me around or nothin' and I really do want to get home."

"But… I'm not from Wakanda. I don't know nothin' about your religion or your customs. So I'm sure not going to kill someone I've never met, 'specially if this is all some kind of weird internicine religious war that I don't know two toots about."

"I will kill him," Sekhmet replies, stressing the fact that she will do all the dirty work. "You simply need to pass his test. I do not ask for your permission, Outsider. Your options are to stay here forever, die in Ghekre's test, or succeed, survive, and escape this world, back to your own." Despite Caitlin's apparent apprehension at doing the Lioness' dirty work, she continues to stride towards the massive tree in the distance, assuming the woman will keep up.

Caitlin frowns. "If I weaken him, and then you kill him, I'm just as responsible for killing him as you are," she points out. She keeps moving along with those big hops and leaps, approaching the terminus of the seemingly endlessly tall hill. "I'm not gonna do it for you," she repeats, a bit more stubbornly. "I'm not gonna let him -kill- me but I'm not gonna help you just because you asked me to."

"So, where's he at?" Caitlin exhales, with a huff. "And what stupid test is he gonna have?"

When the slope steadies out and Sekhmet reaches the very bottom, she points towards the towering tree. "There is his realm. Climb the tree and you will find him at the top." Whatever his test is, she doesn't say. When Caitlin's attention inevitably turns back away from the tree, she'll find her guide gone, vanished without a trace or a word as suddenly as she came.

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