A Warrior's Greeting

August 17, 2017:

Jessica Jones tries to use her connection to Sizani to get one gift…but gets something entirely different instead…something that will, perhaps, ultimately be even more valuable.



NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes


Mood Music: [*\# malice]

Fade In…

Upon receiving Sizani’s message that she’d send a car, Jessica Jones had actually smiled. Wakanda has not exactly been hospitable, and the reminder that she does have at least one friend native to this land was nice. She has been wearing cargo shorts and tank tops since she got here, along with her panther tooth necklace, and doesn’t change for the outing…it’s just so hot out here that even she, mostly indifferent to heat or cold as she is, can’t bring herself to put on long pants or suit jackets or anything of the sort.

“Hey, man,” she says, closing the door to the car. Who is she talking to? Well, she thinks she’s talking to the driver. She’s looking down at her phone, texting her thanks to Sizani, letting her know she’s on the way. A few seconds later she says, “Not much of a talker? Yeah, you and the rest of the people in this—”

Then she looks up, and realizes the car is self-driving, and she nearly hits the roof. Thankfully this is figurative, but she does white-knuckle her seat and mutter:

“Oh my god, holy crap, holy shit, oh my god there’s no steering wheel, oh my god, how does someone take control, oh my god, what if it gets hacked, Jesus fuck why would anyone want a computer to drive a car? I mean don’t get me wrong, I like AI, I guess if like JARVIS were driving it this would be okay but…”

After about 40 minutes of one of the smoothest, safest drives of her life though, Jessica is sold. Computers are apparently smarter than people. Well, mostly sold. She’s still a raging control freak.

She’s nearly unsold again when the thing brings her to the middle of the jungle. “Seriously? This is a jungle,” she tells the car. “Hello, little robot car, this is a jungle…”

The car door pops open and there’s Sizani, practicing kata.

“Well, nevermind. That’s…two more points for our robot overlords I guess.”

She gets out of the car and leans against a tree to wait, figuring it’s only polite not to break the Dora Milaje’s focus. Besides. Sizani got to see her on her punching bag. She might as well get to watch some of the other woman’s death dance.

The blade of a spear cuts through the humid air, whistling in the shade of great trees that cast the Dora Milaje in some semblance of cover. But no tree could drown the color of her ceremonial garb, vivid red and gold that wraps around her bust and loops over her neck, leaving her long torso exposed on the way to a sarong in similar, yet reversed colors., tied off near the hip and trailing like a ribbon as she cuts through the air. A cartwheel, sends her closer to Jessica, the spear moving in a horizontal arc that ends with a diving thrust towards some imagined enemy.

Her hair is up, pushed into something resembling a mohawk, a mass of braids woven together and beaded for the trials to come. Or perhaps, just for one trial. A pivot of her hip brings the blade back and around, spinning and whirring through the air into defensive postures, every motion part of a greater, ceremonial dance. Sweat beads her skin, and every motion is as sincere and committed as real combat, as intimate and violent as a fight to the death.

It shows in her eyes, in the peculiar green, a killer's gaze turned to the task of showing her skill in something closer to art than combat. And yet, she cannot pretend with such things. No Wakandan can. Today she has killed her enemies, the ghosts of a dozen invaders, laid to pieces at her bare feet. The stain on her lips? As red as their blood once was, as red as the Rashka sands where forty thousand invaders died and stained the color of the ground forever.

Gold and silver hang from her ears, her nose, her naval, and her wrists, and though her motion was filled with fury, the chains and jewelry there barely made a sound. Slowly, her head turned from her focus off in the distance, as if suddenly aware of a real foe, cutting a burning hole into the form of Jessica, searing pale skin in all the ways she might wish a certain Devil might if he could look at anything at all.

It is momentary, a passion in her gaze meant for another, and soon enough it becomes the cold intensity she is better known for. A slow exhale, and the blunt end of the spear finds the ground. She will not dance for another this way until a very particular ceremony. No one else is meant to see it, and yet, she took Jessica's summons. Took her call, to this place where she could practice alone.

"You look as if Wakanda treats you well, Jessica Jones."

And it does. If not for special circumstances, Jessica would not be allowed here. Long is the history of those who have come here looking for answers. And those who came after, looking for those who came looking for answers, and so on, until someone wise in their wake got the hint. She will reach for a towel near the base of Jessica's tree, leaning her spear there as she waits for the detective to state her purpose in seeking her out. Since Jessica has arrived, Sizani has been otherwise engaged - purposefully, perhaps? Hard to say.

“Food’s pretty great,” Jessica comments, perhaps just because she’s given to making quips, and perhaps because she doesn’t really want to engage with the fact that outlanders are just spiked and piked in the normal course of things.

Even when Sizani had struck her with that deadly gaze the detective had not moved. She just stood there with one foot propped up, her arms folded, her gaze watchful. She thinks about her words, and she says, “I come for two reasons.”

She’ll get to the first, first, just in case. “First, I came to ask if you’d help me obtain Kimoyo beads. You already know for yourself how impossible it is to do pretty much anything here without them. Even this gracious gift…” she touches her necklace, “does not go as far as we both might like.”

Back in New York, of course, she had of course pursued Sizani’s money laundering case with the same dogged tenacity she uses on anything else, and had dug a lot of work up. She had also taken full advantage of Sizani’s training, which was another gift in its own right. Honestly she’s not entirely sure she’s right to come asking for more…the balance of the books between them seems lopsided, with Sizani having given more than Jessica, to be sure.

But she has to ask, because there is no choice but to ask, and there will certainly be, hopefully, days, months, and years of future association where Sizani will be able to call on Jessica in turn. There was certainly no expiry date on Jessica’s agreement to act in Wakanda’s interests, which means they could conceivably call on her to help the country again. Just…probably a hell of a lot more enthusiastically if they haven’t killed her friend unjustly, first.

The look that the Dora Milaje fixes on Jessica is not a promising one. There is a smirk, and her towel is dropped back to her bag after she dabs at her face with it, retrieving next a small skin of water. She drinks deeply, and centers herself following the dance, letting her mind wrap around all the possibilities that Jessica Jones wishes to explore.

"Few know the sacred bond our people have had with this land. Even now I stand in reverence to every leaf and branch and vine. Even now, I am humbled that it accepts me. This water is taken from a stream not twenty meters from here, one I do not hesitate to drink from because this place is one with me. It can only be so for those who come from it's dirt, and who have lived and died in it's defense. The necklace I gave you? The gift of a friend. Our people do not easily welcome outsiders, for we know all to well their motives. Even now you ask me for something you cannot have, because you ask for a piece of us. The Kimoyo and it's technology are bound in birth. Not only to make sure that metal and flesh can work as one, but so the bond can grow as it's owner understand's it's use. A constant companion. A wealth of knowledge. A connection to our history and our power, wherever a citizen of our land may go."

Finally, she turns to Jessica, her long answer more than a simple no, but it serves the same purpose. It is an impossibility because in Wakanda, all things have a connection that is forged in blood, and much of it's power is only as transferable as someone's soul. That is to say, not at all.

"But it does not worry me." Her brows lift, and her expression is almost bemused. Whatever she thinks she owes Jessica Jones, if anything at all, it does not show. Perhaps to her, this is all a game. Perhaps she has helped get Jessica this far because this is as far as she needs to go. Or maybe, just maybe, she is as insufferable as any Wakandan, who would see someone claw and climb their way towards their destination, just so they can feel the texture of the earth beneath them so they might truly understand their journey.

"It is only almost impossible. And you, Jessica Jones, are a creature of immense possibility and profound destiny. I have no doubt you will make due with your ingenuity. It has saved many lives already, after all."

Jessica Jones scowls. “My ingenuity isn’t as useful as the god damned Internet, Sizani. In fact, it’s quite a bit less useful.”

It’s safe to say that all of this talk about trees and the land and the water and the bond has kind of gone over her head. The woman is a creature of the city she spent most of her life in, and she doesn’t travel well to begin with.

She sighs. It’s not Sizani’s fault.

“But if you can’t, you can’t. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to run some Internet searches on my behalf? Public records searches? You weren’t directly told not to do that, I hope. And barring that, maybe you could give me a hint of what you saw when you were looking into the files for me? You could couch it as a riddle, I don’t care. Right now if your answer is ‘look to the ravens’ or some shit it would be more than we have right now.”

A pause. A beat. “We can challenge each other for it if you prefer. We’ve already fought, so maybe something non-lethal. We could play chess. Or Scrabble, your English is better than mine. Something, Sizani.”

The eyes of the Wakandan drop, and she recaps her water, ruminating as if she were trying to navigate a foreign language. Indeed, she is. The cityscape of a land far away almost permanently hangs around Jessica Jones like a shouldered weight, and Sizani's eyes pick at it. Finally, when she steps close, it's to slide a hand up and over one of Jessica's shoulders to offer her a reassuring squeeze. The touch is very important, because it is meant to soften her words, among other things.

"There are few challenges you could provide me, Jessica, and none you would wish to accept should the terms be offered. I promise you. Because I know you. I see through your armor, sister. I have tried to show you the way of Wakanda because it is not simply some other place that you may ply your trade. I deconstructed you before the trial in hopes of rebuilding you as an unfathomable barrier to your enemies in that court, making you immune to the grip of your past, for the sake of your brother's future. I cut you to the bone in the hope that you would understand my love for my country, that I was willing to die simply for a chance that it might know you as a Defender."

Her waterskin discarded, she reaches up with her other hand to curl it over her other shoulder, staring through her, every word purposeful. "I could make you cry with a whispered word. Scream with a passing touch. None of it would bring you closer should the challenge conclude, no matter it's form. Because in this place, Jessica Jones, things are not given, and a challenge is not the answer to every question. Our time there was no accident. Think back to our time in your city, where I moved among your people as if they belonged to me. A doorman? Barely an obstacle. Technology saved me time, but do you remember my walk? They moved from me because I was the predator. I was in Bast's divine favor, and in those moments when I needed information, I took it. I did not stand in front of a computer and search vain, vague strings of simple characters as if playing with a child's puzzle. I showed you how a Wakandan uncovers those things that she needs, and how that information, once acquired, is not resolved through widely available resources. It was solved with everything I might have were I in Wakanda."

She steps back, fingers sliding away, the motion familiar because it is similar to the way she disengaged from a computer terminal once, leaving behind the holographic points of interface that allowed her to conduct an information stream like a symphony after their less than perfect raid on a Hydra safehouse. Something she had a great deal of practice with, but certainly not in that embassy. The corners of her lip curl, there is a glimmer of something in her eyes, and she turns to move back towards her spear again, picking it up, and turning it over in her hands.

"You had a second reason for coming to see me?"

Well. She asked for a riddle, and she got one.

Jessica doesn’t answer right away. She spends some time trying to pick everything Sizani says apart. Sizani certainly did help her prepare for the trial, though her mouth tightens in resignation to know that someone sees past her armor. Armor is armor for a reason, and it’s not a good sign when someone can just look past it. Then again, Sizani is Sizani.

She opens her mouth to explain how, when she needs information, a public records search gives her a lot more than vain characters, but she shuts it again. She opens her mouth a second time to point out that Sizani did indeed have all those holograms. But she supposes the woman means how they went into the nightclub, broke into the kitchens, and gassed all the residents.

Which would be great. If she had the foggiest idea of a useful nightclub to go…own and take information from. Or a useful anything else.

“I sort of lumped both things into one thing. Though it’s good enough to see you in your own right. And in your own space, your own country.”

"And it is good to see you in mine. Though, for me, this is a dim view of my country. The Kupaa are people of the sky. Perhaps sometime soon I will take you to our skies in one of our jets. In the meantime, there are a great many places you can find a spectacular, often illuminating view. It is freeing, to look out upon the city from one of our observation decks. Just you, everything you need to rest your mind, and the sky."

She looks up from her spear, into the distance far away, and behind Jessica she can hear the car door open. "You will have to excuse me now. I have a purpose here that I must see to. Things I must prepare for. It was good to see you again, Jessica Jones." She stops with her spear turned over, then glances back over her shoulder, her brows lifted in quizzical contemplation. "I do not remember, and you did mention the many closed doors in front of you - did I ever tell you the way a warrior greets another in my country?"

She still does not look fully to her friend and sister in arms. her grip on her spear tightening and her eyes cast to the ground as she waits to see if Jessica can recall, to find out if she ever informed her at all.

Not in so many words. Jessica thinks back to the few times they’ve greeted each other, really greeted each other. There is only one time. The night they went hunting together. Sizani had given her the necklace, which is surely more uncommon than common, but she’d done something else.

“I don’t recall you telling me…” Jessica Jones is not really that shy about admitting she doesn’t know the answer to something. The truth is that her entire profession is built upon the idea that she does not, cannot, always know the answers to things. That she has to ask. But it’s also built on observation, so she hesitates.

She has no weapon, but she says, “But when we met the third time you kind of took your knife and did this;” she mimes. “And you inclined your head like this. At the time I thought maybe you thought I was there for another round of fighting, that you were prepping, but that wasn’t it.”

She smiles, in self-deprecating fashion. “Every other time we got together, as today, I rudely barged into whatever you were doing and just started talking at you, so I probably missed other opportunities to learn. I won’t miss the chance to take in the views as you have suggested, though.” She hates planes, but observation decks do sound like the roofs where she likes to take refuge. “Do you recommend any observation deck in particular?”

"None in particular. But find those in the great square who wear gold at their shoulders, they are guardians of important places. Find them and look them in the eye with your necklace clear as day, and let them know you are a fellow warrior by greeting them as we all do." She closes her eyes and takes in a breath, arms to her sides and her spear in one hand. She lets her mind wander to places of great deeds and to the first men and women to see smoldering Vibranium streak across the night sky. She thinks to the time before, to where their soul as a people was fragmented, but still strong enough to keep out any invader, because they knew each other.

Because, one way or another, they were all family and tied to this land through spirit. And though the Kupaa are known as icy, almost soulless people, marred by being the first tribe to brave the place where that Vibranium fell, even they knew the subtle motions, to small for most to see. The gentle hints at a course of action for an ally, even as a sea of enemies closed in. Silent communication of the soul, and when she speaks again it is with the utmost reverence.


Jessica is going to have to get a weapon. She can see that for herself. Or maybe Shoro is the greeting. Eff it, she’ll do both.

She emulates Sizani’s stance as best as an unarmed woman can, though. What does she contemplate? The bonds of friendship, mostly. Bonds that include Sizani. Bonds that brought her here to pursue what most people would see as a fruitless investigation. Most, but not all, as others are here too.

“Shoro,” she repeats, because when she thinks on it she can find reverence for that, as she can for nothing else.

Then…screw it. She suddenly steps forward and wraps Sizani in a hug. Spear and all. “We don’t really have a special warrior’s greeting in America, but. That’s how we generally tell our sisters that they rock and that they’re appreciated. That and cake, but I don’t know how to bake them and I don’t know where to get them in Wakanda. Do you guys even eat cake? Anyway…you rock.”

Awkward as ever, she steps back and looks at the car. “Do you um. Need that?”

The hug does not disjoin her from her meditative moment, nor does it topple her, but she is jostled somewhat, a slow blink coming to her as the hug presses to her back. It is not until Jessica has left her that her eyes open and her spear drops. She turns her head ever so slightly, and then shuts again, leaving her to her own devices as the dance begins again, her question answered by the silence of her spear. The twist of her hips. The bite of her gaze. She is every bit as fierce as she was when Jessica arrives, dancing a dance meant for another, for only one.

A dance she may never dance again.

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