Sovereign Authority

October 01, 2018:

Captain Marvel escorts an adhoc caravan of Demon Invasion survivors, hoping to find shelter for them in the Wakandan Embassy.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Wakandan delegation has gone quiet in the past days.

Always a party of few words, Wakanda's activities in New York have been at times infuriatingly noncommital to the American political and security concerns. While the enigmatic country has sponsored several outreach programs throughout the region, including the perpetually embattled Gotham City, relations on the technology trade have been frosted over since the Mizizi na Nyasi collaborative conference, which ended catastrophically with firebombing, initially attributed to the Winter Soldier, an event that led Wakandan agents to cross into American borders in an unauthorized hostile exfiltration. The details are hard to understand when dealing with the actions of the Wakandan sovereignity and an agent as elusive as the Winter Soldier, but intelligence communities agree the situation was far, far deeper than it appeared at first glance.

Since then, Wakanda's activities in the states have remained difficult to parse and hardly genial.

Which is why the distinctly Wakandan spear would appear out of place, a few blocks down from the Embassy itself, buried in the concrete as a signpost. While most New Yorkers would mill past it in aggravation, eager to get on with their day, the tribal markings in the wood stand as clear warning to all who stand near, in the ancient language of the Golden City. For those who cannot read the Wakandan language, the demon's skull posted atop the spear's haft provide the rest of the warning.

Energy crackles in a back alleyway, between the impromptu signpost and the embassy. A deep, unearthly howl and cackle fills the space under a second story shop's stairwell. A long, vicious shadow is cast across the far wall of the alley. And then the howl is cut short with the sound of steel entering bone. An awe-inspiring crunch is heard. And then, silence.

A screeching winged horror explodes out of the air, carried by a bolt of stellar incandescence. Raining battered and scorched pieces in a lazy arc to a distant city block far along the street.
"I said MOVE!" Captain Marvel orders the truck driver. Outstretched fist still crackling with power as her opposite hand flips the crashed taxi cab from the middle of the road. Tossing the one-ton vehicle as casually as flipping a thin wooden board as the already crushed vehicle flops onto a pair of parked cars at an awkward angle.

The multi-ton mack truck grinds into motion now that the Captain cleared yet another congested section of the New York roadway. Usually rigs of that size aren't allowed to along tight city streets but this is an exception. The hastily furnished flatbed hauls no less than a dozen families clinging to one another and mumbling in terror. Another smaller U-Haul quickly picks up speed behind it, filled with a few more refugees and several cases of bottled water.

Captain Marvel has been escorting a number of such impromptu, hazardous convoys since this disaster began. She has not slept, she has not paused. Her world has become a hellish carousel of diving into the fray to destroy demons and then helping another few handfuls of people out of the worst of it. There is no complaining or worry. No fear or regret. Only orders and execution. A soldier at war is little more than a machine. She cannot let herself be bogged down in the death and sorrow, not now. Right now there are lives to save, mourning and accusations will come later. Someone will pay for this, somewhere and sometime but that's a worry for another day.

This current shipment of humanity is heading towards the evac zone at JFK Airport further East into Long Island. At least that's Captain Danver's current plan. Plans, of course, are fluid. More than once she's had to alter courses and change directions depending on invader concentration or how fast she can clear wreckage. A few crashed cars or abandoned gridlock? She can toss that aside quickly. A half-collapsed building or trenched pavement? Not so much. While she does not fear for herself, if she charges a cloud of demons it's entirely possible they could circumvent her and reach the softer meat. A possibility she does not chance, thusly avoiding larger swarms if at all possible.

"Hey HEY! What the!" The truck driver roars as he lays on the air horn hard. Up ahead a single overweight demon screeches, tiny arms flailing over head as its corpulent form bounces toward the convoy straight ahead, "RAKINISHUUU!" Cackling mightily.

Captain Marvel turns to look ahead, with a grunt she closes both fists and opens fire. The very moment those twin stellar bars of golden energy strike the beast it explodes. It explodes with far more vigor than thought possible as the hellish suicide bomber detonates with the force of a bunker buster. Captain Marvel herself recoils, reflexively shielding her face as pulverized concrete and asphalt pelts her and the truck. The multi-ton vehicle grinds to a halt in front of the pit just beyond the upcoming four way intersection. This leaves two possible directions.
"Whatarewegunnado? WHAT ARE WE GUN-"
"CALM down. Shut it!" Captain Marvel barks and points to the man. Not accepting panic in any form. With a grunt she looks in both directions.. Eyes focusing on a spear in the middle of the street. Topped with a demon head.
She makes her choice in a second, "Left. Hard left. Move Move Move!" The Captain orders, darting over to the street corner and pushing two more parked cars and shoving an entire bus out of the way with a crumbled roar of metal. Making just enough room for the huge vehicle to make a hard turn through it all and head in the direction of the Embassy.

The road is small, part of the city street system not suited for heavy freight traffic. The ominous spear has largely been ignored by the common populace, as collapsed and partially destroyed buildings have much more purchase in the mind by now than the presence of a single spear in the asphalt. The work of some new Jamaican gang or something, certainly. The idea of the ongoing street level power struggle bringing some kind of peace to the community certainly offers an easy explanation for the relatively pristine condition of the areas beyond the spear.

Though the people still mill in and out of the neighborhood surrounding the spear, cars passing down and by the spear with no visible interference, the buildings behind the skull are without major damage, standing and whole when in comparison to the shotgun calamity beyond the skull, disaster peppered across the city. There is no visible police presence, no military, no signs of war or conflict. The entire notion of violence seems to end, precisely, at the point where that spear has been placed in the ground.

A flaming portion of the rotund demon sails overhead, still smouldering from the blast that propelled it almost straight skyward. The unidentified body part tumbles past on a sharp arc from Carol and the flatbed full of survivors, black brimstone contrail tumbling from it. Buoyed by the surging winds at that altitude through the city, the demon fragment kites over the spear and into the next neighborhood. It makes it only ten feet beyond.

A translucent blue field annihilates the fragment where it attempts to enter the airspace, easily a hundred feet up from the street. The rippling energy from the force fragments the smouldering debris into powder, the sheer meteoric force and speed of its own impact breaking it into pieces no smaller than a thumbnail, which slowly arc to the street level below. The impact causes the ripple of energy to echo across the surface of the barrier, curtaining directly downward in the briefest of cascades, right down to the hydrants at the street level. The barrier neatly cuts the street off, and though the field cannot be seen beyond that brief altercation, it clearly bars entry to at least some, as several well-armed automobiles discarded at the side of the road nearby prove. The oncoming truck is definitely not of the size expected down this street.

Yet, if that truck full of survivors reaches the terminal point of that wall, it will find absolutely no resistance to entering the zone so clearly demarcated, the invisible field suggesting no barrier to entry thicker than air. The truck encounters no resistance at all entering the neighborhoods beyond.

Carol, on the other hand.
If she is anywhere near the truck when it passes the field, she will have only a split second to notice before an expertly-aimed metal spear hits her from a nearby building, silently but with an unearthly force not dissimilar to a very small cruise missile.

Captain Marvel is making a bet. She's a fair hand at poker but when it comes to people's lives she doesn't like taking chances. In this case however, Carol is taking a chance. She's generally aware that relations between America and Wakanda have chilled in recent months due to the Trial of the Century with the Winter Soldier. They weren't exactly warm relations before that entire episode at that.
That said, Wakanda has always had a keen sense of justice and mercy.. At least that's what SHIELD reports generally underscore when dealing with the country. That spear is an old school message to the Invaders and Carol is making the bet that the Wakandans will not consider the New Yorkers demons.
At least she hopes.
The heroine flies forward at a cautious pace, keeping herself twenty feet ahead of the ad hoc rescue vehicle. She reaches to take the warning spear from the ground in order to let the truck pass it freely.. Only for her gloved fingers to pause inches from the grip. Her eyes dart to the demon bit bouncing off an invisible field.. Rippling briefly before extinguishing.

"Stop! STOP!" Captain Marvel yells, rising up and holding a hand to the driver who slams the breaks yet again. She leaves the spear where it is.
She has no way to know that the field will permit anything whatsoever. She knew Wakanda would protect its interests but she had zero clue they would go to such lengths.
"Well.. Damn." Squinting at the field in consternation as a hand goes to a point between shoulder and neck, activating her unseen communicator as she begins the process of trying to get into contact with the Embassy. Mentally preparing the report she'll need to file with SHIELD on this one.

When did they get a shield generator that powerful stateside? Did we know about that? How did they get it over here? What d-

A glint catches the corner of her eye. She turns her head just in time to see the vibranium spear strike her dead in the shoulder.

The impact is gloriously violent. The Captain's form is briefly crumpled into the asphalt as the sheer kinetic force drives her at an angle before exploding with the force of a super-modern anti-tank weapon. A hail of stone and rubble splashes at a hard angle, shattering windows and building facade a half-block away as Carol is bounced hard, spiralling end over end and thrown through a second story window across the street.

The mack truck driver watches the war unfold before his eyes and instantly panics. He cranks the gas in full reverse as the big rig starts to very awkwardly back up. The small U-Haul behind had also stopped, but only has a few moments to get out of the way as fast as it can.. Which isn't very. The driver only begins to back up as the edge of the flat bed clips the vehicle, shoving it into a series of parked cars. The families on the flat bed shriek and cling to one another and the jerry-rigged supports as the bed crookedly backs into the opposite series of cars before hopelessly lodging itself into the mess.

Meanwhile, Carol finds herself in an apartment. Laying on a couch that was shoved to the far wall by her landing. Arms and legs splayed as if waking from a nap. A picture on the wall had fallen down onto her head, leaving the frame hanging about her neck as some kind of necklace. Her shoulder.. Actually hurts. It's been awhile since she felt actual pain as she slowly sits up, looking over to her shoulder with a wince. There's an actual cut. She watches the glimmer of fresh blood with some confusion.
There isn't an awful lot that can hurt her anymore. That is a damned impressive spear.

With a grunt she rolls her shoulder, working the feeling back into her arm before she quickly darts out of the hole she made with her entrance. Hovering two stories above as she looks down to what the panicked truck driver had wrought, "Just stay there!" She orders! Pointing at him with some anger. Then looking back towards the embassy, eyes searching for her attacker.
That had to be Wakandan.. Demons haven't bothered throwing spears at her like that. At least, none of the one's she's faced so far..

As a fact little known to most of the established world, the Wakandans routinely monitor frequencies near their installations, and the Embassy at the very least maintains some manner of civil communications with City Hall, most of which is low interest enough to be easily subject to circumvention by extrapolitical interests in the area such as SHIELD itself. Of course, in a crisis scenario that's certainly the sort of luck that simply doesn't exist, at least not today.

The communications line opened to the Embassy is broken almost the moment it's established. Where normally there would be a human voice on the other end, there is only the unearthly crack and pop of a heavily distorted connection, a warbling in ancient Afrikaans heavily digitized and flanged repeating over and over. The sticks-and-shields of Wakandan text scrawl across the viewable surfaces of any device used to connect to the embassy, blazoned in white with thick red caution plate text.

Exactly which language Wakanda is using at any given time, for a country that standardly knows at least 7 languages and ostensibly many more, is difficult to place, but a warning rings true in all of them.

There is very little forensic evidence left behind by the spear, having annihilated itself in the blast, though it certainly doesn't seem to form for Wakanda to really take the stealth approach to the fight. Deep in her apartment, Carol will have the opportunity to review the field, just about invisible, for all of the imposition it placed on the fragments of the demon that crashed into it. Her attackers are nowhere to be seen. At least, not until the next volley. The Captain is very sharp, fast of eye and almost impossible to fool, so she'll see what happens next with very little question.

It seems like spears materialize out of nowhere from buildings on either side of the exclusion field. There is no visible damage to the concrete, nor are there visible open or broken windows. It is as if the brick facade itself had learned to regurgitate blades and spit them at offending passerby.

This time, it isn't a warning shot. Spears by the score sail into the sky, their high arcs thickening in the air until they form a shadow in the sky, slowly crossing the street until the shade reaches Carol's own comparably diminutive shadow. The first slams into the concrete below, passing only with an audible crack a few feet to Carol's left. It is only the first raindrop. The street is pelted in spears, areas near Carol subject to a vibranium rain that tracks her. Interestingly, she will find herself the sole target of these spears, and though a hiding New Yorker or two may be jostled by the landing of a spear too close, the spurt of blades is staccato, and will barely fall in areas where the population has not exactly cleared from the warzone. A shame, then, that Carol is certainly not the type to try to find that out.

In the end, the only thing that stops the rain of blades is a high, keening whistle that breaks the air, clarion and unmistakable.
The truck driver hears his own citizen's band click on, and the command of a foreigner rings calm over it.
"You are safe. Move forward slowly into the protected zone." The same echoes over the radio in the U-Haul.

The sounds of distortion and static across the line does not fill Captain Marvel with confidence. "-Try every number then!" She orders into her live mic, her team of SWORD operatives high above in the orbital station wiring every diplomatic channel Wakanda left available to the SHIELD organization. Direct lines to Wakanda itself across satellite communication. A hand hovering over her right ear as she listens in on the communication efforts.. Only to catch a glint of metal. This time she's paying attention. Immediately she darts away from the convoy, moving into the air with high acceleration before staying low. Only fractions of a second are allotted to her to react. Training tells her to move away from the civilian targets. If she goes too high, the hail of spears will arc into the distance and do who-knows-what damage to New York buildings. God forbid catching someone a few neighborhoods over.
She stays towards the center of the roadway, keeping away from civilians as much as she can while staying evasive. Rolling, swirling and darting back and forth as the driving metal rain stays on her trail with uncanny precision. The quavering vibranium tines ringing unlike any other metal of this Earth. A few hit her connect but only glancing strikes, leaving a faint scratch in their wake.. A testament to their deadliness considering the Captain is nearly as indestructible as a Kryptonian savior.

Captain Marvel snarls in frustration. She cannot risk counter attack. She can only guess somehow these spear-throwers are cloaked within the buildings somehow. Buildings that may harbor civilians. The only way she could take them out now is fullisades of stellar power that could bring unacceptable destruction to a region filled with the innocent.

The Captain is no longer measured in her communication efforts. She cranks her communicator to all bands and local networks. Shouting to anyone who's listening nearby on every frequency, as well as her own voice. "HOLD YOUR FIRE! There are civilians! HOLD YOUR FIRE!"
All she has left is to appeal to the Wakanda's humanity.

And then the whistle.. And the weapons cease.

Captain Marvel lands in a long slide, wheeling around on grinding heels until she halts a short distance in front of the crookedly parked mack truck. Steel blue eyes burn with outrage at the spear-warning post as if it was the source of all this mayhem.

The truck driver is startled by the CB radio in his cabin crackling to life and giving orders. A fumbling hand grabs at the corded receiver before stammering, "T..Ten f..four.."
But before he can get far into shifting gears back into forward, Captain Marvel rises up into view. Hovering at eye level in front of the man, holding out her red gloved hand in stop, "Stay there!" She orders him. The U Haul is completely helpless to move out until the bigger truck does, but there's already a honked horn for the massive vehicle to get going.

She puts her hand back on her right ear and glares back towards the Embassy structures, "This is Captain Marvel you were shooting at! I -demand- to talk to your ranking officer immediately!"
With this demonic invasion she was desperate enough to consider begging the unknown quantity of Wakanda. What she just experienced does not engender anything resembling confidence in how American lives will be treated and she is in no way about to let civilians walk into potentially an even deadlier trap.

Through grit and the evasion of a stardancer, blades fail to fell the Captain. Certainly, it is not for trying. The region has been converted to a battlefield almost instantaneously. Spears to match the very first litter the streets, some punched as much as a child arm's length into the asphalt. One or two water wells spray jets fierce into the air from where the spears have overpenetrated and have punctured the underlying water mains. Past the clarion, the area is quiet and still, the ambient only challenged by the sound of distant fighting, the fighting of districts far beyond.

The implication is clear: there is only one warfare permitted here.

In the clicks of the communicator, there is only that clear foreign warning repeated, on multiple channels and multiple frequencies. Those unfamiliar would consider it a by-product of a civilization primarily known for their goat farming and textiles industry, attempting to get ahold of a country whose most advanced communications may be as advanced as some of the best ham radios available. Carrier drops are only to be expected in that case, the product of an ailing phone network in a dilapidated region. Of course, there are those that know better.

In the background, the voice repeats over the radio, the command to proceed in English repeated in the exact same meter and tone. It may be a recording. Of course, this can barely be heard. While this happens, the Captain is turning away, taking the opportunity to demand audience with a CO, parley with the commander of an invisible enemy, who has to date not even seen fit to show themselves in person. Tactically, the only thing left for the indomitable captain to do is to yell into the dark.

And the dark whispers back.

The recording in the cab loops once, repeating its order to proceed forward. Though the imperative is barely higher than conversational, the sound is much, much louder than the nigh-soundless entry of the jet black form dropping down from the air onto the top of the truck cab. When he lands, the shocks of the truck barely register his impact, the faint rock of the cab no more alarming than a stray breeze might be. He stands, out of the view of the driver and overlooking the military genius looking away from him, towards the Embassy. A mouthless face betrays no emotion at all.

And when he speaks, his voice is like a sword on a whetstone.

"To whom do you make such demands…" the man wonders, his voice bridging on the faintest measured hostility. "I am the Black Panther, protector of all Wakandan peoples. Interdiction against the infernal incursion in the common lands. Stand down… I will take this survivors into my custody."

The moment the Sovereign of Wakanda speaks, Captain Marvel knows he got the drop on her. She does not fear for her life or consequence of potential ambush but she is concerned greatly for the lives the King looms directly above. Anger sparks but she forces it down her throat as she slowly holds up gloved hands, rotating in a smooth unhurried motion without tension or a look of a warrior moments from striking.

Carol did not think T'Challa himself would be here. SHIELD is widely regarded as the highest calibur intelligentsia and espionage agency as the world has ever seen.. And it still cannot pin down precisely where the Black Panther is at any given time. Files suggest he is a man of honor and relatively progressive compared to Wakandan rulers of the past.. For a country of herders and farmers. A facade the country has discarded of late.
What Carol sees as sheer violent belligerence on the assault on her person is beyond what she expected. Verbal warnings? Sure. A warning shot? Acceptable. The sheer destruction leveled at her person would have felled half the National Guard if it came in her stead. Only by the grace of her skill and exotic Kree nature did she live through that with lesser wounds. That the Wakanda Embassy would be on a war footing in the presence of this Hellish invasion she can understand.
A massive killing attack against a International security personnel ferrying combat refugees to safety is a war crime by any stretch of Captain Danver's imagination. Carol will not deal with that issue right now. Right now the Black Panther holds the lives of her charges in his hands. Trust has been struck from her reckoning but she realizes the moment she turned down this road.. She already put the lives of these people in T'Challa's hands.

Her eyes burn but as he issues a command in the form of a statement of fact, Captain Marvel slowly floats away. Wordlessly she regards the driver a moment and nods to him as she then drifts to the left and out of the way.

There is much uncertainty in the wake of the man's panic, his eyes darting about the fields of spears and destruction but he wants nothing more than to be out of here. He again turns the engine and the mack truck growls to life. Shuddering out of the car-bed it made as the flatbed rights itself in its passage. The flock of terrified New Yorkers huddle, murmuring in fear and confusion up at the dark figure taking their custody from the public and popular defender of humanity. Uncertain and afraid. The U-Haul behind also returns to the caravan, the front of its bumper and cabin dented and banged up from the earlier collisions but the vehicle yet lives.

"I will return for these people when this is over, Black Panther." Captain Marvel states with forced calm. Gaze burning in fierce promise to the man who might be carried on by the departing truck unless he dismounts.

Wakanda is a brutal state, leaving only some of the most famous names alive to leave their borders purely on the strength of their names. This much was known of the country even before Ross filed the select few reports to actionably furnish America — or really, most developed countries — with any intelligence about the state's capabilities at all. In ages past, Ross would never had made it out with their secrets alive. The changing times, urged by T'Challa's sense of global and social responsibility established the Embassy in New York, and the Mizizi conference in which Wakanda attempted to share its prosperity abroad.

Climatologists and medical scientists long decried the attacks on the conference as 'an assault on goodwill itself,' writing that the advances that would have been shared during the summits represented 'a potential paradigm shift to the convention of environmental and medical sciences, themselves worthy of ushering in a new epoch in the history of humanity.' To that end, the Black Panther's cavalier response only seems apropos.

The reason for the aggravated response towards Captain Danvers is never touched upon by the black-clad warrior king. The Panther, for all intents and purposes, has come in full regalia ready for battle, the absence of a visible weapon being the only buttress against an outright appearance of aggression. Even so, the fearsome visage of the panther etched across his mask betrays no other mien to the Kree genius, and if he is at all impressed upon by what her capacity to survive all that has been thrown at her, he does not show it. Warrior to warrior, the ability to persevere is merely expected.

Attentive, the Black Panther takes stock of the war-torn region, silently keeping his balance even as the truck lumbers to life beneath him shortly after Danvers gives her consent. Survivors are noted, those that may need aid later, and furthermore, the terrified eyes of those who do not know to what end they have been delivered, nor what lies for them in the future. He does not miss the fire in Carol's eyes as she gives him a promise more a warning than anything else. To this, he looks towards her. "You are welcome to come whenever you please, Captain," he speaks, his voice reverberating even over her communications system, so even a whisper carries with it the weight of kings. "But in war or peace, you will respect the sovereign authority of our lands." He responds to her with equal measure, the warrior king charged with the protection of all Wakanda's interests.

"Or I will return for you."

To the end, it is with a markedly different tone that T'Challa turns to those beneath him. It is the fearful eyes of the people that draw his attention, as the truck carries him through the curtain. Looking towards them, he lifts his hands to his mask, and detaches it at unseen clasps, revealing his head and stowing away the blood-chilling helm as he descends from the truck to the flatbed, descending amongst the terrified citizens. 'You are among friends here,' he assures them, with no further introduction.

We go to a safe place, free from harm.
Bring me your tired, your weary, your wounded.

Carol Danvers realizes now she needs to seriously re-read intelligence on Wakanda in more detail. To be sure, terrestrial nations are not her forte so much as those of extraterrestrial nature. Earth is her home but not her fondest interest. She was one to always look above rather than abroad. She had thought she had the bullet points of Wakandan nature but finds herself mistaken in several areas.

Captain Marvel gives the Black Panther the last word on the matter. Her eyes never straying from him as the caravan of innocence carries on, forced to bounce onto the curb roughly in order to evade the forest of vibranium spires peppering the road.
The gentle compassion T'Challa displays as he removes his war mask encourages Carol that she ultimately did the right thing here. The cost was .. completely different than what she expected but for now she has no further choice.
With a lingering look she simply rises higher into the air. Ascending above the skyline as a hand moves to her communicator, "Refugees are now in Wakandan custody. I'm returning to the front."

The SWORD operative questions over the line, ".. Are you sure about this, Sir?"

"No." Captain Marvel replies simply, "But I'll trust the Black Panther's people a lot more than those demons. Give me coordinates to the next target."

Once she rises to sufficient height, she whirls about and streaks in the direction of Stark Tower, racing across the distance of New York City in a matter of seconds. This was a complication but one Carol cannot dwell on. The War is not over.

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