Fate of the Lost King

April 28, 2017:

T'Challa senses The Dark Devil in her prison beneath Stark Tower, and the Tower's owner takes exception to the intrusion

Stark Tower

A cold grey room with a circular prison made of translucent, nearly unbreakable material.


NPCs: The Obsidian Butterfly, JARVIS, Friday



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The storm had passed more than a day ago, but it was not a normal storm. It was a storm that struck the soul, leeched energy from everyone and everything on some level. Cracks in brick widened. Potholes became sinkholes. A parking garage paid the ultimate price. Even precious vibranium, though perhaps impervious to these energies, might lose it's luster, and certainly during the storm it would have sung the song of an angel to counter the dance of the devil not so far away.

Now the sickly sweet stench of that magical energy of primal creation and destruction had formed a trail, one that those acutely attuned to such things could follow with ease. At least until they made it to Stark Tower.

Stark Tower.

Perhaps one of the most secure buildings in New York. The same could not be said for how it compared to other places in the world. But it had it's secrets. Like the elevator that was the singular avenue of entry and exit to a place some twenty floors below.

The room inside is made of something like concrete, squared off and unfurnished. Save for a chair, which sits outside the immense glass enclosure in the middle of the room. It is exceptionally clear, so much so that the double pane of six inch thick material barely seems like a well cleaned window.
Inside, the atmosphere roils. Not to any mundane sense, but to those who can feel matters of the spirit. Conflict. Rage. All bundled in a tiny form, on a tiny mat, one that seems to have risen from the floor itself.

A dim light hangs over her, dressed in but a tank top and grey pajama bottoms, if the signature of this creature holds true, this is like no form it has ever assumed. Without prompting, her head rises, as if she hears something, pushing herself up to a seated position, but she does not yet turn from her place to look out into the dimly lit room beyond her circular prison.

When the winds and the rain whistle and spray through the corridors of the concrete jungle, it is common that the minds of the vermin are drug to survival, roaches and rats moving to higher ground instinctively. Stray cats lift their heads and look to the far distance, attention pulled up. When the sky of the earth hangs at its lowest, all of the mundane creatures of the world take notice.

When the sky of the soul hangs at its lowest, all of the creatures of the spirit do.

He left the makeshift embassy at dusk, when the sun was lowest in the sky. The storm had past some time ago, but to those such as him, the air was still wet. Wet not with the waters of the sky, but with the spiritual desolation of something old and violent. The aftermath of that storm tasted more than a touch like tears. The sense was something he wasn't familiar with, but it was something described long ago, once in a dream.

"It has been some time since I've last tasted blood so clearly on a soul."
The young girl sitting in the center of the six inch thick hybrid reinforced polycarbonates cannot hear him enter. Of course, there are cues, the idea to look up will come from the absent ping of the elevator. There are no signs of forced entry, and to consider the man who enters, it could have truly been anyone. There are no computer screens to flash warnings, or malfunctions. But for the movement of the tailor-cut suit he wears, the sound is the only thing about him that seems to make a noise he does not consciously choose to make. There are no sounds of footsteps, no sound of muscle or skin. No sound other than his voice.

But that voice has an accent cut straight from the grasscloth of Wakanda.

The young man enters otherwise soundlessly, his stride marked with confidence and calm. It is worth noting that he does not have the same mannerisms as any other in New York, his stride even and measured, hands never in pockets or otherwise preoccupied with any projection that was not otherwise ordained. He stops, aside the chair, but never sits.
T'Challa has different tastes.

"To think that Stark believes he could hide you so easily is an offense to me.."

They move the same way, coiled muscle that slinks in that soundless ease, her thin blanket tossed aside, her crystal blues turning to meet her new and unknown visitor, picking him apart from head to toe. It is his mention of blood on her soul that drives her inward, but something else pulls at the thing inside her, melded to her soul, but not in all the right ways.

Perhaps it is a familiarity that sets in only when he draws close to the glass, her lean visible, eyes slightly wide as she looks deeper. Or maybe she isn't looking at all, but He is. Xiuhnel has risen to this challenge, to another predator, but he is still a Mad King of a realm he can barely perceive, except through the eyes of a woman who will not let him reign.

Her eyes close and her hands press to the glass, and she breathes him in. It is not often she finds someone with a spiritual core she can feel so easily. Zatanna Zatara is one such person, and she burns like a star against the darkness that is Xiuhnel's black hole. This is different. More human. More grounded. Somehow, more lethal.

And she remembers it.
"He's not hiding me. I put myself in here. But don't worry, I'm sure as fuck not going to tell you to not get offended by him. He's likely to offend you some way or another. It's why I like him." Azalea's eyes tick down, her mind reaches back into memories not her own. She looks like she might waiver, maybe fall over. "I remember… some of that blood you mentioned. Rivers of it, in a place lush and fertile while the world around it was a husk. I don't know why I remember that, right now. Something about you."

When she steadies again, her hands drop from that enclosure, and her eyes fix him with a stare that could move mountains. Perhaps even the Gods that often sit on them. It is far to much power and presence for such a small person, and in the spirit realm it seems ready to break free at any moment. "Who are you? What do you want?"

The young king moves in a method that resonates on the deepest levels, the parts of the body that have a memory the mind never had. For most, it is subtly disarming. A calm, yet mercilessly ambitious poise. It is the remnants of an unnerving stance that reflects of predators stalking through the underbrush. He is the same sort of thing that men needed to be wary of thousands of years before Christ. Now, in days dominated by glass spires that touch the clouds, it takes the place of the ability of an everpresent imposition. Motionless now, the effect is different than it is before. Even so, it is difficult to shake the feeling, as T'Challa raises a hand and hovers fingers over the surface of the almost-glass surface. He never directly touches it, but it is as if he feels more not doing so.

She protests his summation of the affair, saying she entered the prison of her own free will, and that she is not being hidden. To this, T'Challa's face draws long in the dark, the facade of an expression that may as well been cut from obsidian abandoned for the briefest moment to show a distaste that has a distant echo across generations.
"I am sure you think so."
The king is seemingly done with the subject for the moment. He does not react with surprise when she reflects, her strength sick and radiant like a dying sun, his attention more on the mechanism of her confine than the air that nearly chokes with the barest restraint of anger. The anger is something he feels as well. It emboldens a person to stand in the same fire as the man who accuses him. But this is different. The focus of his anger is not indignity or frustration. Different things motivate him, different things entirely.

"The thing that you feel is the weight of history," he explains absently, his eyes trailing the juncture where the glass meets the ceiling. His hand drifts away from it, falling to his side as discerning glare wanders her imprisonment first, then her. She is too young. "There is a sense that a warrior gets when he faces another warrior on the plain. A bandit will not feel this, nor will a merchant. They do not have the same sense of things. They do not hear their hearts tell them when they are in danger.."

Then he is struck with a feeling as if being pinned by a spear thrown from the underworld. It causes him to shift perceptibly, but not to shy away. The glare that he faces is the only thing that draws him eye to eye with the woman in the enclosure, his eyes focusing keenly on her. The thing pushes against him as if he were a mountain.

He is.

"You know who I am," T'Challa remarks finally. "As I do you. If you require more, search your blood. There, you will find the tale of us. I haven't the time or the inclination to waste impressing a gravity upon you which my ancestors already have."

No one talks about it the way she dreams about it. Axes and spears and swords, the instruments that let you feel someone die in an age of armor, so seldom used now. But before that, before killing with weapons, her alter egos killed with their hands. It is not something that hangs on someone in a common manner anymore, and she remembers what it felt like to face people like this. People like Him. Warriors. Killers. Not the bandits of this world. Not the merchants.

Nostrils flare, and she inspects the air as he inspects the cage. It reaches far into the ceiling. Farther into the ground. Two tubes layered against one another, one that likely pulls away into the ceiling, the other into the floor. Given how easily The Panther made his way down here, it is likely he can tell how isolated the control system must be. It was, after all, meant to contain something far more dangerous than she.

"That's right. History." She sounds breathless, and her head tilts ever so slightly. There is understanding, a vivid glare cast forward from the past to find her mind's eyes. "History and blood. Our blood. I remember now." Her breath has quickened, the split second before something leaps out of the shadows and attacks. But this is not something physical, or even spiritual.
"He walked among you and you fell apart, and he did not understand his clarity, or his power. The one like you, the brave one, stood his ground. The metal melted against his skin, but still he lived and fought with prayer on his breath. I wouldn't know her name, except for the gift she gave me."

When she speaks of herself, instead of Him, it is her reliving the moment and her smile is the counter to his calm. "Do you know what she gave me, King of the Cradle?" There is a slow lean, and her head almost touches the not-glass. Her lips part, and it's almost a growl, the predator's rise and the triumph of knowing, of being there. "She gave me one of you. She gave me the only one that was left to live in. He fought back against me, his honor, his principle, fucking.. just like.."

Distance graces her expression and once again, she looks harrowed and hallowed. "…I do." The recoil is visible, and she even takes a few steps back. She knows what happened to The Lost King, the one who stood his ground against a Devil on Earth and summoned Bast to save them all.

The young king takes to a slow stride, stalking around the circumference of the confinement, his hands drifting with the rhythm of his motion. As he trails wordlessly, the thing on the side of the glass agonizes over the memories in its blood, at once excited and frustrated to the point of release. He is a merciless king, and is content to let her struggle with her bonds and the thing behind her as long as is needed, his attitude distant and overseeing, like the watchful eye of the sun. That dead thing exults, the creature's voice dripping with a satisfaction that could never be total as it reveals to him an aspect of his people he would never had been aware of, had he never come here. The idea does not find him handled well. As dark as his skin may be, the shadow is always darker, and part of his face is unseen now in the black.

"Since the time of Bashenga," T'Challa points out with slow revelation, "Invaders have tried our land. For centuries stacked upon centuries, the Black Panther has been the only thing we have shared with them. The last and only truth that invaders will ever know of our lands. It is the only gift the panther god ever has need to give. Against a creature only a few centuries from falling from known history…"

T'Challa inclines his head, a crescent of light falling across his face.
"I hope you found him exactly as accomodating as you must have found the black butterfly."
There is a barrier between the two of them. It may as well be the film of a soap bubble for all the good it does. The scent that T'Challa picks up on is something that even six inches of glass cannot block, and the cruelty emanating from it hitches, in time to the hitch in the young woman's breast. To match, the young king's own mood grows tepid. Never warm, but the woman never bears the weight of his ice. "You are smaller than the rest," T'Challa continues, mild in that clipped and precise accent, as precise as his meanings and observations. "You have an terrible battle ahead of you. Know it is not in my interest to harm you. I only come this night to deliver a warning."
You paged Tony Stark with 'YOU STILL AROUND? Is it too late to make an entrance? We don't have to finish it all tonight.'

Just the mention of her, tall and dark and beautiful. The love that destroyed everything Xiuhnel was and drove him to madness, has her nearly in tears. She was not built to contain that kind of anger, that kind of sadness, because she was only mortal after all. Or maybe she was more special than she knew, for her ability to stand in his way, and to be different enough to care.

A hand presses to her face, rubs over it, showing all the weakness she could not have dared show moments ago. Her other hand braces, palm flat to the glass between them. For all the rage that roils in the back of her mind she pushes it all away with the memory of those that ground her. The people she loves here and now.

It is not until The King tells her his intention that she looks at him again. "He already knows to stay away. Your ancestor made sure he remembered, before breaking himself against the rocks, far away, near the sea. You understand? He made sure you don't have to deliver a warning, ever again. He won, by losing slowly. By torturing him with a conscience for as long as he could stand it."

Azalea Kingston does not have power over Xiuhnel, except to take what he knows, something meant to be a miserable blight on someone's line and turning it into the greatest badge of honor one could ever hope to have.

Of course, it is an assumption that brings her to this place. She understand the purpose of The Panther, and it was that connection that brought it all to the surface. Shared blood, and a story of myth that they now both know the ending to. She could only assume that he means to tell her never to come to his land.

But she is young, even if Xiuhnel is old. Desperate, to right his wrongs, even transient and brief in the form of conversation. Whatever might be hiding inside her, clinging to her soul, she is not him.

Azalea Kingston is still, somehow good.

High in a wall pannel at this point there is a soft silken sound of movment. Almost imperceptable as a tiny pannel no more than a foot wide slides open. Flush with the wall before, almost impossible to notice.

Out of that creeps a tiny little drone. Compact. Color shifting camo systems hiding it in the shadows as a single tiny lense fixes on the scene below.

To his enemies, he is hardly kind.
It's different from others, who are brutal in the arena but soft-handed on the sands. When T'Challa watches Kingston suffer the backlash from Xiuhnel's jealousy, rage and anger, his eyes do not soften. As she struggles titanically under the weight of a god's indignity, T'Challa does not show regret. To the drone's eye, the details coul easily be lost, the lack of sympathy easily conflated with cruelty.

Even so, it is necessary.

"I will have you stand, child," T'Challa commands without prejudice, his voice not inflecting displeasure at all. "If this much burden alone causes you to labor, then you will not last long. Persevere, and gird your spirit…" he notes, his face still limned in the dark. Only that thin band of light cast from the other side of the cell illuminates him, his eyes piercing even in the dark.

The subject is a river, flowing past any concern he might have shown for her well-being. "Everyone who has come to Wakanda with ill intentions has been taught to stay away," T'Challa responds. "A well trod path is use for traveller and bandit both," he explains, finally stepping away from the cell, leaving him to study the chair set outside it. "No. Foes know to stay away from Wakanda. I do not want his absence. I want his fear."

"This is a new world we live in. It is not the same as it was before," T'Challa continues, slowly and finally folding his arms behind his back. "Our spears are sharper now. Do you understand," T'Challa asks, eerily mirroring Azalea's own words. "He came once before, and his men were killed, but he survived. The same will not happen today."

"I came to tell him that the next time he thinks to use us for his ends… I would like him to think of the impossible feat, to dream the undreamable. Because if he offends us, I will honor my ancestor, and find the path to finish the job his butterfly started. I will kill him."

The little drone focuses on the scene a moment.

Signals are sent further up in the expansive tower. Those images seen by a man who was moments ago woken out of some of the few precious moments of sleep he could manage to get. Woken by JARVIS informing him of someone messing with systems and intruders in the tower.

When he sees who it is there is a few colorful moments of cursing in the half dozen lanuages Stark knows before he is stomping over to a emergency elevator.

Meanwhile. In the room downstairs…

Lights suddenly flare to life, blasting shadows out of existance as they illumate the strange cage. The large room. The two occupants.

Then a voice.

A familiar voice to some. Its echos from speakers in the room. Fast. Clipped. Not respectful at all.

"So. You know. Its kinda rude to just break into someone's house like this. Just sayin'. Messing with his stuff. Talking to his guests. Poking at his security AIs. Like some ass."

A door in the far wall hisses open. Hidden until now to reveal a small elevator. Only big enough for a person or two. Inside it is a single person, and a very large suit.

The red and gold of the Iron Man suit glints in the sudden light as Tony Stark himself steps out of the elevator.

He's not dressed to meet a prince. If anyone is wondering.
T-shirt that looks like it was slept in. Jeans that look the same. Hair just perfectly disheveled. Houseshoes that look to be fuzzy light up dragons.

…look its his house. He does what he wants. And the shoes are comfy.

"I mean don't you have diplomatic something or other?" The voice doesn't come from the speakers anymore. Just from the man himself. "You could have asked. Just sayin."

The change is slow. Xiuhnel creeps forward when T'Challa talks of Wakanda, and asks his host to stand. And so, she stands, every word pushing Azalea backward, twisting and spinning the Murdered God to the forefront, until finally the King of the Cradle speaks of fear. Xiuhnel responds with a smile, one split on he verge of laughter, but she does not reach that crescendo until he says that he will kill Xiuhnel, the Sky Serpent.

It echoes through the circular chamber, even as elevator doors open, and it is a panic cacophony of giggling dispossessed from reality, until her fist strikes the barrier between them.

It does not impact with the force of a mortal girl. It sends a much more ominous sound rebounding through the chamber at large, and shakes through the foundation of the building itself. Her breath heaves her chest, her head tilts down and her eyes cast the light of a predator, one that would dare hunt the top of the food chain.

"You cannot have what does not exist, even by royal decree, Cat-King. Fear is the mortal's coil, and all of you are trapped in it! You cannot kill what Gods cannot kill! Bubaste did not send me off with your blood because she preferred to see her chosen die, childling fool!" Her fist slams into the barrier again, and again it vibrates, rebounds, but does not break.

In all of Tony's tests it took sixty tons of force to get it to even move.

"I will show you what fe…" Her palm presses flat, her head bows, and Azalea releases a soul-crushing breath. Her voice lacks the vile intent of Xiuhnel when she speaks again. "…you can't intimidate him. He doesn't fucking care. He doesn't…"

Then, there is Tony Stark. With those fucking slippers.

It's time for her to laugh again, but this time the reason is oh so different. With a push she steps back from the barrier, because Tony makes it clear T'Challa should not be here, and her eyes go wide with the tension that forms in the air. Perhaps, even, amplified by the spiritual rebound of Xiuhnel's angry cascade.

It is a dangerous game, the young king knows.

There are a hundred shamans in Wakanda and more who would decry his actions as bordering heretical, to threaten a God in this fashion. Those men would bow as supplicants to the sacrifice the Panther God made ages ago. They would declare a new ring of tributes and sacrifices. In response to such a clear and bold threat, they would wring their hands and form councils.

That is why those men are not the Black Panther, and that is why those men are not king.

T'Challa does not flinch when the teenager slams her fist into the polycarbonates hard enough to threaten fracture, merely removing a small string of beast teeth from his pocket, running his fingers absently over the surface of the ivory between both hands. Though it is not a thing that Azalea may recognize, the familiarity of a land long past sticks in the mind, of tribes one would imagine to be long since extinct. He is thoughtful for a moment, considering the leather thing briefly. It is enough to be a long necklace on a broad shouldered man, enough to be a waist belt for a small girl.
He is quiet for a long time as Azalea curses, clearly struggling, suffering in the afterglow of the creature battling her. He steps up to the class, close enough so that she can see the polished surface of those teeth. They are clearly from a very, very large predator. "I find," he continues, in his intentionally clipped accent, "that many great creatures who drink at the small pond for too long may come to forget the ocean."

Kneeling, T'Challa sets the necklace on the ground, pooling the teeth at the foot of the cell. "Be stronger, child," the young king advises Azalea. "Gods can destroy entire civilizations at their whim and will," he points out, voice plain and matter-of-fact. "But do not let the thing control your mind as well as your body. If they can lust, they can love. If they can love, they can hate. And if they can hate, they can fear. Whatever fears, can die. This much even children know. Do not let a beast's empty tirade confuse the affair for you…"

At this point, T'Challa allows his train of thought to drift. This is because a new scent and a new person has arrived on-scene. "I find your presence profoundly disappointing, Stark," T'Challa replies lightly, the knife's edge of his eyes straying from the woman for only moments. It is a testament to how much he trusts Stark's engineering, even as much as the young king may disapprove of the billionaire on a personal level.

"I've decided to hold an audience with your guest," the young king finally explains, looking the superstar engineer up and down as if to take the size of him. The suit that flanks Stark is contemplated briefly. Against the set paradigm, T'Challa's suit between the girl and Stark's attire seems somewhat out of place. But only just so. Imperious, T'Challa addresses Tony and his slippers.
"An audience you are interrupting."

Tony Stark is used to people disapproving of him. Its a universal constant. So the young king and his look seems not to bother the engineer very much. He just stands there happily and lets T'Challa take it all in.

"If you take a picture it'll last longer." He quips. Since he doesn't intend to stand there /silently/.

Strolling out of the elevator he pauses a moment to look back at the Iron Man suit there and becon it forwards. It obidentaltly stomps out to stand near the wall as the door slides shut. Tony isn't an imposing man physically like some superheroes. In fact he might be considered short by some. Still his personality is that of someone three times his height. In one hand is a slush of some kind, likely grabbed before he headed down to see the king in his basement.

"Well you're intrupting a good nights sleep so I suppsoe we are even." He adds after a moment as he smirks towards the Panther. His irreverance flying in the face of just about everything T'Challa stands for, but sadly no more than most would expect of Stark. Man can't keep quiet.

"Normally, I mean I don't know how everyone does it, but normally. If you want to have an audiance with someone, who is staying at someone elses place, you usually call the owner. You know, I mean thats just polite." He adds with slight shrug of one shoulder.

The man's eyes flicker away from T'Challa for a moment as a holoscreen blips into existance. Stress points, possible fracture vectors, force to weight ratios. "Huh." Is all he says as he reads the reports of the impacts against the 'glass'.

There is a ripple in the top of the housing as what looks like a black-metalic wave of liquid slides out of a hidden casing to roll down the side of the glass and over where Az just punched it.

"Nanobots to repair any microfractures. Just as a precaution." He ass nonchallantly. "Anyway, I was asked by a friend of mine to keep her here. And she…" A nod here towards Az. "…asked me to keep her here. And you really don't seem to be doing great things to her mental state. I mean I'm all for you helping if you can. But…just might be nice if you go and give me a warning next time? Since. I do owe the place, and I really don't like people poking at my security systems."

The light flickers once in the after effects of it all, and as darkness cascades to the spot just to her right, she looks down at gleaming teeth in the form of a necklace. Hands slide against that polymer and leave streaks as she drops to her knees, eyes wide as she stares at this thing that stirs memories not her own as The Black Panther tells her the path to Xiuhnel's destruction. Of all the people to know it, she had thought she was the only one, but The Lost King knew it the same way. And so, it stands to reason Wakanda's memory of the God-Thing inside her is long and reflective.

When she looks up to the conversation taking place before her, her eyes go wide. Not for her, she thinks. Not over her. Or because of her. When she looks to the suit she shakes her head, teeth pressed together as the men face off in what might be called a battle of wills. She wants to tell Tony that it's okay, but how can she? This is his domain. She wants to tell The King that she is thankful for his gift, for his words, but Xiuhnel bucks at her mind.
From somewhere beyond the realm of human perception there is a scent like lilac, and The King of the Cradle will catch wind of it. Another after effect? One more thing Stark's machines can't perceive? No, this is something else entirely. This is the fluttering of wings from a realm beyond. This is the call of the Obsidian Butterfly, and her purview of the Heart, casting a scent upon them meant to make hearts beat faster. Meant to encourage passions. Increase adrenaline.

It is the siren call of someone pulling at two men, the call that has driven shy lovers to each other's arms and committed adversaries to war. All blown with a gentle kiss that escalates on the senses.

It is a very good thing that this cell has it's own ventilation, or Xiuhnel would bask as he had before in his old lover's gentle nudge, and gleefully dive off the edge of reason and into the God-Form that nearly destroyed Hell's Kitchen.

T'Challa's is a world of scent. Truthfully, he didn't need to turn and face Tony when he arrived, so clear was the man's appearance. The scent of fresh clothing absent of the dampened scent of a recent ironing tells him that Tony has no proper attendant to review his clothes. He can pick out the scents and oils in the shampoo Tony made use of. One of the more pop-culture oriented washes that are popular in this corporately dominated America, he surmises, but his unfamiliarity with the current vogue on this side of the ocean makes it a dicey proposition. Stark is, for all of his bluster, at least a tenth of what he says he may be, with his heartbeat even and no scent of sweat on his brow. Against an African king, he seems remarkably fresh faced. Of course, the oily suspension for the nano-scale repair automata reaches T'Challa's senses, and he inclines his head in response, though the apparent reason is from Tony's explanation. "Of course," the young king echoes, stepping forward, his fingertips touching together at his waist. The warrior is in waiting, and his patience, despite his monumental restraint in regards to Stark's continuing creek-stream of gentle patter.
"Do not think to lecture me with a child's argument," T'Challa counters at once, and without a lot of patience. "Do you think it does any good for a child to be imprisoned with a fire in her belly? Do you think that leaving her in isolation is at all leaving her alone?" he asks, cutting into Stark's line of thought with a coarseness belying the dignity of a panther. Though his tone questions, his meaning is judgmental. "How long do you think you can keep the world safe with a half-measure? For your sake, I hope you have better in mind."

T'Challa's world is built from the blocks of scent. Before he can build on his final mind, he becomes aware of an otherworldly scent, this one cut from a cloth he doesn't recognize, but whose thread comes from the same loom as the creature on the other side of the girl's eyes. One eye narrows as he catches it, the scent. Even then, it is too late, as his heart already begins to beat faster. A drive, a powerful one, compels him. This, he knows, recognizes it for what it is, even as chemical impulse floods his limbs. He glances at Tony.

This does not bode well.

T'Challa has been contemplating the presence of the suit since it arrived. While he had more tangent ways of dealing with it, circumstances force his hand. Literally. Stark will not recognize T'Challa's right cross. American boxing is a squared off stance, the same as it was in England. Under the Queensberry rules, there was an emphasis on padded gloves, which meant a fighter could absorb more punishment, making for a longer fight. That is why T'Challa fires from the furthest point, from a lowered Dambe stance.

Dambe is the African art of making one's hand a spear to kill the opponent. Men would wrap their hands in rope, glass, and whatever else was handy to elevate the striking hand into a weapon capable of levelling the opponent. Light filigree already slipping out from the edges of his clothing, T'Challa will in the same turn his fist into a weapon, moving to quickly pull Tony off balance, then strike him in the temple with his full weight in the seconds that Tony has to consult his readouts, and realize that a god is attempting to tamper with their minds.

If T'Challa's aim is correct, Tony will not get an opportunity to do something untoward under the goddess' influence.

T'Challa is not entirely sure what percentage of his response is modulated by reason and what is modulated by external forces, but he trusts himself and his reactions more than he does the scion of industry. As for the suit… well, he expects it to come to Stark's defense. Hopefully, Stark's body will be cover enough, giving it pause so that the Wakandan king can plan an appropriate escape.

T'Challa's aim is correct.

At least to a point.

Even as Tony tries to make sure that Az doesn't escape. Casually taking his eyes off the other man. "No I don't think isolation is a solution." He adds. "But the people who know solutions to the magic thing are busy at the moment and she, and her foster mom didn't want her out on the streets where things could get nasty again. Now when they get back in a day or two they might have some other answers for you. But you can break into their houses and ask them about it."

A pause.

"Are you wearing perfume?" He quips as the scent of something flowery hits his nose.

Right before T'Challa's first grab pulls him off balance. Honest supprise registers as he is pulled forwards and a hand comes up to throw a block towards the unstoppable weapon that is the Panther's hand. The block comes close to connecting, but Stark is no Steve Rodgers. No Bucky Barnes. He isn't a supersoldier.

The block is off as the strike sings past the wrist and into the side of the inventor's head. It doesn't put him entirely out though, one last twist. One desprite turn of the body means that the sweet spot wasn't hit.

But Stark sees stars. Tastes blood.

The sunglasses he was wearing fly off, revealing a multitude of electronic readouts inside those lenses. One of the readouts blinks brightly.

'Defensive Systems Activated'

The Suit itself suddenly raises its arms, stalking towards the two men as the weapons mounted in the palms spin up.

A voice, prim and very english, comes from said suit.

"Sir, I would much appriciate it if you ceased attempting to harm Mister Stark."

Even when there is a threat, JARVIS is polite.

The world shrinks away from her. In that moment when words become actions her heart pounds in her chest and the predator wants out. That's all it ever wants. To fuck. To fight. To win. And right now there is violence just inches away, and she can't get in the middle of it. Blood on the ground, but she can't feel how warm it is. Her palms hit the glass, sending another resounding echo through the room.

"Jarvis, let me out!"

It is unclear who has the most control here. Unclear if she is more girl or God in that moment, when her palms press hard, and her body shakes with effort to lift. The glass moves. Bare inches. Fingers reach down, curl underneath.

She touches the necklace and her pupils shrink away.

When she recoils it comes with her and the glass slams back into it's holding niche, cutting her off from them again, barely letting her taste the sweet scent in the air. It should be enough to push her over the edge, to send her spiraling through the barrier and into a metal man who would keep the peace.

But it does not.

Clutched in shaking hands the teeth rattle, because she has a sense that she has worn this before. Held in her hands, twisting against her knuckles, she draws it up, pulls it down and around her neck, and feels the power of someone long ago who was more a hero than she will ever be. It gives her strength from across ages, and brings the world back into sharp focus without the haze of Itzpapalotl's machinations."NO!"

Again she's against the glass, but this time, it is not with a need to fight. "Not over me!" The guilt is thick in her mind, and when she speaks again it is in T'Challa's language, blurting it out without thought, and not without some accent. "The prison keeper does not set the sentence, he only locks the door!" Her plea is perhaps not as clever as T'Challa's comparisons about the world, but he must understand: Tony Stark is not meant to solve this, just hold the line. For now.

A constellation of metal filigree traces a circuitous path around T'Challa. He expected that Stark may attempt to interrupt his meeting. Obviously, he planned for that. The network takes only seconds to deploy, ribbons of light flickering across the fabric he already wears and letting the fibers of his suit unravel, dissintegrating and giving way to the jet black of a vastly tougher weave. There are different versions of the Panther Habit for different situations. This one was not as strong as his hunting attire, but it would serve for his purposes today, if his intelligence was correct.

By the time the black helmet slithers into being around his head, he is the Panther.
The ascerbic commentary of the engineer aside, T'Challa has no overt interest in harming Stark any more than is needed, but the suit's defensive systems, and what he can only assume is the billionaire's amateur boxing practice make a clean knockout without any further injury a proposition with unclear odds of success. Even as the Panther lowers himself into Tony's stumbling shadow, the panther is calculating. In the moment Tony is still seeing stars, his suit responds instantly. The Black Panther is underneath no illusions that using Tony as a human shield will be effective—there are at least three or four angles which a shot could be placed off of the wall or even the glass to hit him in the leg, or the joint of his arm. But the Panther is not planning to make the shot impossible. He is merely lengthening the number of calculations needed to make it.

It gives hm time, and precious room to launch his next assault, one which he believes to be a triple kicking blow, sufficient to overwhelm Stark and leave the artificial intelligence in charge of the weapon. Then, he can engage it on far simpler terms. The next few moments are crucial to reduce the amount of time Stark is exposed to the…

T'Challa looks over his shoulder, as the sound of ancient Wakandan reaches his ear. The child wears the necklace, speaks the ancestor's words to him. The Panther's mask is expressionless, as it is with him as always: cut from onyx. His claws lengthen, extending from one of his hands. Then he whirls. It is as he intended before. Only this time he moves low. T'Challa is no longer looking to knock Stark out.

Hip lifting, he tries to kick Tony full across the room into the elevator he himself opened only a few minutes prior, then release the stranglehold his Kimoyo has over that section of the security system. It should be isolated, with its own discrete ventilation from the main room. Once the doors shut, Stark should be relatively compartmentalized and, somewhat paradoxically, safe. With his command and control relinquished over the building's security, JARVIS will have full control. The change in his strategy comes at a cost, however.

T'Challa won't have time to elude the Iron Man suit's inevitably very polite reprisal.

The glass bulges, warnings shrill. Stark's head snaps up as the alarms blare a moment as the girl in the cage impossibily moves the wall. He starts to force himself to his feet.

"You must really be protective of you're perfume." He grunts though blood and pain. "Anyway stop being more of an idiot she's about to get fr—"

…and thats when he gets kicked. Air rushes out of his lungs as he feels himself lifted off the air and flung backwards. He slams hard against the back of the elevator just as the door ding closed.

Head resting against metal of the wall he looks up at the celing.

"Yup," He says conversationally to the interior of the elevator. "I'm mad. JARVIS, keep him busy and send the Mk 36 down here. I have those new taser systems that need to field test anyway."

JARVIS just sighs. "Sir, violence is not always the answer. Perhaps he had a reason for that."

"Maybe his reason is that he's an asshole?"

"I think your logic is a bit off, sir."

In the large room itself the suits head follows Stark's flight for a moment before JARVIS simply sighs. "You have quite put Mister Stark out, sir. Please don't take offence." This said even as one of the repulsor beams spins up and flashes a lower powered blast towards the young king's chest.

In the cage itself a soft feminine voice, Tony calls her FRIDAY, sounds. "First level containment not sufficent. Proceeding to level two." The glass walls suddenly ratchet down further as the sides press together to remove any hope of a way to get fingers under the glass.

"Prepping Stage Three." The cheeful voice adds.

What can Azalea do as the field of battle unfolds before her, but watch? It drowns her senses to see T'Challa kick Stark into the elevator, so much so that she barely notices Friday coming online to escalate emergency containment measures. It is not until T'Challa is sent spinning that her eyes go wide, that her heart seems to stop.

She has so many questions about The Lost King, and The Young King is her only link to that part of Xiuhnel's memory that he'd rather just forget.


It comes out at a breathless whisper, one meant as a plea to their better natures, something she never would have imagined doing. But here, with a clarity of thought born from the King's keepsake, she knows fear even if Xiuhnel does not.

Azalea Kingston fears she will have destroyed them all.

Itzpapalotl fears she may not have done enough. But seeing The Panther leave is enough for now. Her presence fades, her work here done.

The black panther rolls in the air, his senses spinning.

Earth and sky mix interchangably with one another. Hyperaccurate as his senses may be, the Panther was able to feel the champion's hammer with complete clarity when the toy from Stark Industries fires off a repulsor blast into him. The blast is enough to knock him off of his feet, but the sound is met with a harsh reverberation as it collides with the mesh of his habit, the air shifting in strange ways as some portions of the force are displaced around him. Unprotected, the blast would have knocked out any other man.

T'Challa rolls in mid-air, turning earth to earth and sky to sky.

It takes some feet for his landing to arrest his momentum, his claws sinking into the ground beneath him. He forces through the haze. Pain is temporal… Muscles flex as force builds in his body, the panther a taut thing of force and readiness. The cell was being breached, this much he knew, and the artificial intelligence loomed over him, reminding him politely that he has gained the ire of the engineer entrepeneur. Seconds pass as T'Challa recovers, straightening. Slowly, he adjusts a control bead on the wrist of his suit, staying low as he unholsters a small hilt.

"Don't talk to me," he instructs the artificial intelligence.
Then he throws a six foot long energy spear at the Iron Man suit.

The spear is a prepared disruption device, made to attract and energize the sensory suite of offending machines. It is a simple, disposable device, but perhaps it may be enough to pin the suit down for a few moments. The few moments gained will allow T'Challa to leap straight up, to grip onto the ceiling. Though the Iron Man sensors may not work at the time of his attack, it may be clear what the panther intends to do. Cut straight through the ceiling with his bare hands, to make an escape into the complex's isolated ventilation system. Parts of it may not be isolated for long.

Did he plan for multiple avenues of escape?

"That is very rude to say si—FZZZZZZZZZZZZT."

That would be when the laser spear impales the center of the suit. The lightshow is impressive as the suit slumps over to one knee. The distraction more than enough for the young king to make it to the roof and the dubious nature of escape there.

Seconds later the elevator door hisses open again and out stomps a second suit. Broader of shoulder and chest, repulsors humming with a unique tennor that seems to be different than their usual whine. The weapons sweep the room to find…

…a kneeling suit and not much else…

Its head tilts back to angle towards the ceiling as he notes the shreadded vent cover. One hand raises to aim towards the ceiling and…

"Sir," JARVIS cuts in before Stark cuts loose. "Miss Potts would be very upset if you started blasting holes in the building."

Stark remains aiming for a few more heartbeats then…

"Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan." And he lowers his arm, the suit stomping once. "…this sucks."

A longer pause.

"…and would you prep medical. I think he might have broken a rib."

A longer pause.

"…worst night ever."

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