Mists Politics and Piezilla

March 28, 2017:

Barry and Stephanie try to take on the Piezilla challenge, only to be sidetracked by a Royal visitor from Wakanda, King T'Challa.

Piezilla Pizzeria

Another greasy pizza joint in New York.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Storm, Various Others

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Early evening outside of the Triskelion, a cool evening in the New York area has Barry at one of the numerous little restaurants in the area with Stephanie. In this case, it's a pizzeria, a Brooklyn sized monstrosity set before them called the 'Piezilla' and the promise that if the two of them can eat it within 60 minutes, they'll get their picture on the wall and the pizza would be free..

And a Piezilla T-Shirt. Come on, who wouldn't do it for the shirt?

The pizza is pilled with every topping in the place, and looks daunting enough, but as Barry glances at the pitcher of water, he gives a little smile. "So.. you have that shirt in a large, right?" he asks curiously, perhaps a little confidently as he glances across at Stephanie.

*

Stephanie can't help but rolls her eyes with an indulgent smile. The things he was going to do to that pizza was cheating, but also endearing, so Stephanie just gets a plate and cuts herself a more reasonable portion.

"Thank you," Stephanie says to the waiter oh just leaves with a knowing smile of his own. She looks back at Barry Black-hole Stomach Allen, smiling again.

"I really don't want my picture on the wall," she says softly as she picks for the toppings that aren't her favorite to set aside. She's still a bit tired looking and her appetite isn't what it normally is, as if she were just recovering from a bad cold.

*

It starts subtly.

A too-tall woman wearing a suit ensemble colored firmly in the shades of black and 'business power' opens the door for him. And that woman, she is not the sort or type that bears the mantle of beauty for show, as there is not a strand of hair on her head, the flash of earrings in the light being the only thing that commands any attention from her.

He is on occasion driven to appear in his ceremonial wear, but today, T'Challa wears no clothing more defensive or commandeering than a pullover.

Timing itself is adequate shield. Beyond this, a nod is given to his attendants, the one before and the one behind. They will take occasion to clear the room, offering to pay the remainder of meals and the like where appropriate. Words with the proprietors. T'Challa himself, of course, is patient for but a moment, waiting at the door, as the remarkable scent of oiled dough and greased meat, signature bouquet of Piezilla settles into his clothing.

Even so mildly discomfited, T'Challa will wait a few minutes before approaching the only people in the restaurant not being actively ushered, though whether it's from preference or the fact that a legendary quest is being undertaken.

*

"No picture? Sure, Steph, I don't have a problem with that, but I so want that t-shirt." Barry says with a wink, just as the manager sets the clock on the table and presses down the timer as on the speakers of the place a fake 'Gojira!' call goes out - really, a poorly recorded dinosaur roar from some movie, and the time starts.

Barry starts in eagerly on the first piece, that is before he notices that the place seems to be clearing out quickly. Well, quickly in a relative sense. To Barry, it's a slow clearing. As he finishes the first slice with gusto, and licks his fingertips, he's starting to take a sip of water, when he realizes that he and Stephanie are the only patrons left in the after the place has been cleared of all but him and Stephanie.

After setting down his water, he frowns. "I don't get a time out, do I?"

The manager shakes his head with a grin and a thick Middle Eastern accent. "No stopping the clock!"

There's a long siiiigh from the forensic scientist as he glances towards Stephanie. "I think someone has requested our attention." he says, noticing the gorgeous woman and the non-descript if well-built man with her. "Uh. Hi?"

*

It's orderly. Orederly enough for the batling to notice. Blue-green eyes flick up to one of the plexiglass partitions to take in the positions of the people clearing hte eatry in the poor reflection just before Barry says something out loud. The blonde's lips part in a Elle Woods sort of 'o' as she turns in her seat to look around.

"Ohmygosh," she seems to chirp, all wide-eyed school girl.

…in a Cheerbear t-shirt… and blue jeans… and tennis… and a ponytail.

*

The scent of sunlight-warmed fabric is hard to come by in the city, but when T'Challa has the room cleared and approaches, there is a distinct waning of the typical grime, monoxides and cheap Walgreen's colognes that usually suffuses the smell of congealed soda in the fountains of this place. Nothing but the grass and the rain. Very hard to replicate artificially.

His people gather at the door, not too far out of earshot. A moment stretches overlong, just enough to threaten discomfort, silence descending until the ticking of the clock is all that is heard. T'Challa himself studies the two, eyes moving from Stephanie (and her Cheerbear shirt) to Barry mildly, before the gravity sets in. A hand opens, to the monstrous pie.

"Please. I do not wish to interrupt," he charges Barry. "Please, continue. I am known as T'Challa, and I only need a moment of your time." He eschews a more fanciful introduction, for a reason he seems not at all interested in expounding on at the moment.

He does seem fully willing to let Barry eat in the interim, choosing to overlook the affair with some modicum of patience.

*

Barry Allen is your typical American nerd, he probably encapsulates all of those very things that T'Challa finds so.. wonderful about America. The young man considers for a moment and pauses. "Dad taught me it's not polite to talk with my mouth full.." he says, as he glances at the clock. 50 minutes. "…I have time." he says finally as he watches Stephanie's reaction.

"Are you sure you have the right person?" he asks, the scientist trying to decide if they're looking for Barry, or Stephanie, or the speedster, the batling, or even the maker of the giant pizza. "I'm Barry.. Barry Allen. And this is Stephanie." he offers in greetings, as he gestures to the chairs. "Want to join us?"

"If he eats, you disqualified!" the manager calls out.

"I'll get it next time then!" Barry calls back with a snort. "Sorry, they're.. strict about who can help eat this thing. Stephanie was my partner."

*

Under that veil of 'just another dumb blonde American chick' is a keen and studied mind. Barry had off handedly asked Stephanie how her Wakandian was. She had no context and was confused by the question. One search on the Batcomputer and DELPHI systems later and Stephanie had learned the basic bit of information about the King. She scoots over to make room for him, setting down a plate and Barry's rolled up silverware in a napkin (Because let's be real. Barry wasn't going to use a knife and fork in this place!). She doesn't say anything for the moment. Barry's asked a question, after all.

*

The king considers Barry a moment when being asked if he has the right person. His hands clasped behind his back, he never reaches a point where he seems truly at ease. At least, not in the American sense of the word. Studious only for a moment more, T'Challa breathes slowly inward, showing no distaste.

"Forgive me my trespasses… but I am rarely mistaken about the people with whom I elect to speak."

As if on cue, the manager crows behind him, and the faintest (however temporal) expression of annoyance crosses his face, a shadow in the dark. In that vein, the Wakandan picks a few of the most carefully chosen words one may hear spoken in a Piezilla.

"Please," he asks the manager calmly and without looking, "do not make the mistake of upsetting those with whom I have chosen." The words are punctuated with icy glares from his own retinue.

He spends a moment composing himself, smoothing out his slacks as he takes a seat. "My apologies. It is not my wish to deride your experience. With you, I am familiar," he explains, nodding once calmly to Stephanie, and then to Barry. "I and mine have had the occasion to review some of your talks concerning the recent troubles in various countries concerning the spreading of the dark mists."

He does not elect to eat, instead steepling his fingers in front of him. His stare is even and long-willed, but it is one that passes easily from person to person. The words are meant not even for just Barry. Even a school student is held to the same high standard.

"I assume I do not have to explain the basis of my interest….or who I am."

*

Now it clicks. "I.. wow. Sorry. Uh. Your Majesty? Highness? I mean, the only time I'm met a King or a Prince was when I was in a couple of D and D LARPS and SGA in college." Barry admits, reaching up to rub the back of his head. "Just caught me off guard, is all." Finally, the speedster's mind catches up with his mouth. "I mean, not that it's a game, you're the real thing!" Okay, stop nerding out. Though when he mentions he already knows Stephanie, Barry turns to look at her, arching a curious brow.

And then his attention turns back to the Wakandian leader. "Right, the Mists, and their affects on the African continent. Well.. I don't have my map here.. but!" moving quickly, he takes a plate, and sweeps away the most of the toppings on it to put a few pepperonis back in place. "As you know, the major attacks that Apocalypse carried out were on the country of Buranda Nyasir and in South Africa, upon the city of Johannesburg, as well as to your east, in the Sudan. The Sudan mists are not a threat for the most part, as wind travels with the rotation of the Earth of the most part." A bunch of olives are sprinkled on the Sudan to make it's Mists.

"However, the Mists in Buranda Nyasir can expand, and multiply, as there was such a high concentration of them." he says, using some green pepper slivers to lay out and show how the wind prevails. "Now, in the right conditions, can the Mists reach your borders? I fear, Your Majesty, that it will only be a matter of time as the very Terrigen essence created by the Inhumans multiplies. Princess Koriander.. Starfire.. has been sharing what information she has gathered from Buranda Nyasir with me, and I have been trying to create an accurate model. I know it seems that many people will view the Mists as a wholly /local/ problem, as it is heavily focused and the damage done to Metropolis in the attack.. but I do share your concern of the global issue, and the threat to your own home."

*

"It's certainly not a local problem," Stephanie comments softly, speaking up only afte Barry has. That T'Challa knew her was a tad bit concerning. Did he mean that he saw her next to Barry then Google-stalked her and found her YouTube channel…. or did he mean that he KNEW what her night job was? Let's hope for the former, prep for the latter, and just not mention either one!

Stephanie had plans to stay silent. Plans that the Girl Scout in her refuses to listen to. She looks to T'Challa, brows pinching together, inhaling like she's going to say something… but then no words come.

*

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To that end, T'Challa takes Barry's surprise in stride, though his response is hardly warm, nor is it particularly accomodating. Though he appears to be perfectly at ease and not at all offended by the reactions posed to him, for all other purposes his mood seems otherwise impenetrable.

The panther watches quietly, as the history and way of things are lid out for him, rendered in olives and pepperoni. He seems readily familiar with some of the principles set out to him already, though he doesn't seem to be impatient enough to broach that fact. Instead, he nods slowly, quietly, as Barry helpfully points out the burgeoning threat to Wakanda. But there is a thing that catches his ear, something that breaks his normally undeterrable thread of attention.

"Excuse me. But you said that the Inhumans generate this Terrigen. I will consult with my intelligence services later. But in the meantime and of your estimation… is the fault for the threat generated by the originator of the attack … solely his own?"

The implication is clear. With whom does the fault lie?

A few moments later, Stephanie may find herself the focus of the remainder of T'Challa's attention, the man's glance straying her way. Where exactly the extent of his knowledge about her ends lain aside, it may take her a moment to realize that he has read the look on her face as plain as day, trailing after her words draw his mind.
T'Challa is waiting for her to speak her full mind.

*

"That's one of the unanswered questions in all of this, your Highness." Barry admits. "The Mists are naturally occuring on Earth, if dormant." the scientist admits. "From what I've learned, and until I have confirmation, I do not want to commit to the idea that the Inhuman royalty has any fault in this, but for now, the attack by Apocalypse, and his attack alone, is what sparked this. The Inhumans, from what I understand, did not wish this to happen, but now that it has, they are resistant in allowing a control or destruction of it." To the point of threatening war is left unsaid for now.

"Terrigen, itself, is in a crystal form. That is why it was dormant for so long, it was stable in this form. Now that it has been broken and released, the Mists natural tendency will be to spread itself further and change humanity, for better or worse. I have more information, but until I get further verification, that's still in the theory stages, and I do not want to spread wild speculation. However, the Headmistress at Xavier's Academy, Ororo Munroe, has been caretaking for those affected in the States with this Mist, and could provide you further insight."

*

And none of what Stephanie had been thinking to say comes forth. T'Challa's question derailed it and Barry's answer made whatever she had been thinking scatter fully until she's left not even really sure what she had been thinking to add. Maybe it was asking how she could help, and really in her civilian clothes how bad of an idea would THAT be? Stephanie opts to chew on the inside of her lower lip instead.

*

T'Challa blinks slowly as Stephanie holds her tongue. He studies her for a moment overlong, as if trying to suss out her intentions and thoughts as they relate to Barry, someone whom is still very much under T'Challa's observations. There is a certain critical undertone in the way the king watches the other man; like the giant cats that Wakanda worships, it is very plain that T'Challa is listening very keenly for the faintest moment of indecision.

A space in which Stephanie finds herself in very closely.
"You are correct in that the mists cannot merely be considered a local problem," T'Challa comments as an aside. There is a distinct sense that the Wakandan is trying to gain a sense for the young woman's mind.

"But you must understand," he finally explains to Barry. "I am a man of science, and it is my wish to believe you. But… I am also a man of honor. And it has been my experience that there are many in these lands who believe that forcing others to be more like them is improvement, and not assimilation."

A beat passes, as if the point affirms itself, given time.

Or is it something else? Something Barry said. The mention of Xavier's Academy-or its Headmistress-seems to bring a new and sharpened steel to his voice. And when he speaks, he speaks in candor, perhaps sharing more of what may be necessary.
"Wakanda," he continues, placing a great weight on the word, "will not passively abide by the trespasses of others, whether they are lone terrorists or the designs of opposing nations. It is my hope that you will join me at our embassy, to share what you know with myself and other learned men."

*

"Of course, Your Highness. It is my hope to get the word out - to open the discussion.. to find a way to change and adapt to this new role and the change that has been foistered upon us." Barry considers, looking pensive for a moment. "I have tried to make direct contact with the royalty of the Inhumans to no avail. Perhaps. The weight of your words will bring more attention than those of my own." the scientist offers as he sits up a little more, emptying the plate of toppings back upon the pizza.

Though, with his altered perception of the world, he catches sight of the changes in the leader's opinion and reaction to the name he brings up. "I would be honored." comes the response finally. "And if you wish, I will share this invitation with others that have shown interest in this situation."

*

T'Challa nods. With the speed of perception that Barry is accustomed to, he may notice that there is no joy in the occasion for the panther. There is no part of him that smiles, or shows fear. Grave matters require his attention first and foremost, and even when his attention strays-by a name that he almost assuredly recognizes or by a memory that troubles him-his face seems no more or less figuratively cut from onyx, an expression just as dark and heavy to be read upon him.

The matter is only in degrees of things left unknown.

"My father said frequently that I would understand, when I became king. If this man, this royal, will not listen with his ears, then I will see to it he listens with his soul."

With that, the young king slowly pushes away the table. The movement is not abrupt, nor is his rise, favoring the fall of his sleeves and the hang of his pullover. The only thing that is not thought through about every move he makes is in the tell-tale pause that he gives before he speaks. It is very plain to someone who sees faster than most that it is the only time in recent memory that T'Challa has hesitated. The sensation feels new to someone like him.

"Invite who you like," T'Challa finally concedes, nodding to his attendants in silent order. "We will make the appropriate accomodations, in recognition of the importance of the work that you and the community are doing in light of the attacks…"

A moment passes as T'Challa's eyes settle on Barry.
"I trust you will not bring dishonor to us. Good night, and good luck."

A single deadly glance to the manager brings light to T'Challa's meaning.
He's talking about the pizza, and the minutes left on the clock.

*

Rising to his feet with Stephanie as well, the pair offer a polite bow. He starts to say more but the clock on Barry's table buzzes, and the manager crows. "Ha! You failed!" he says with a laugh. Though he immediately cows down a little at the glare of the young king.

"Just means I'll have to try again next time. I'm sure the homeless will appreciate the rest of the pizza. Can you box it up? Though my hands have been in it.. uh, toss it I guess. I'll pick up a sandwich on the way home." he says as he watches the King and his small entorayge depart and then drops bonelessly into his chair in thought.

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