2020-01-29 - To Bait A Trap


Mari and T'Challa catch up after a nights excitment

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Jan 29 07:45:01 2020
Location: Disaster Zone

Related Logs


Theme Song



Disasters are never very quickly recovered. That is the first and primary lesson of the Disaster Zone in New York. Even if the work CAN be done quickly it never will be. There are a dozen things, well meaning things, that will get in the way.

But the second lesson of the Disaster Zone is more hopeful. A few people with enough determination can make a difference. T'Challa is reflecting on just that lesson as he watches construction in progress. It's not all his doing of course. Not even all his or Mari's doing. There are a dozen other people and organizations involved. But it is largely thanks to them. He knows that.

And it's very gratifying. It's also very gratifying to be watching from the shade. Even in winter, it'd be hot doing that work.

Mari is also aware, and incredibly grateful, for the work and effort others have put in. The ex-model stands in shade with T'Challa watching the progress. "How does it feel, T'Challa, to see a vision coming to pass?"

The dark skinned woman smiles up at the man "Did I tell you that Oliver Queen is also working down here? He got one of our letters and arrived a few weeks ago when we were here." T'Challa had been unable to come that day. "The word is getting out."

"It always felt good. And it feels good today." T'Challa says, hands clasped behind his back. He smiles when he hears that the local business community is getting involved. "Good. That is good news. I do not underrate the efforts of government. I used to be a government after all." Literally. "However, people do not need to wait for it to act. They are powerful, and capable on their own. Look what we have done here?"

The prince turns to walk a little bit, motioning Mari with him. "I understand that you have organized another delivery of clothing and food. With winter here, I can imagine the people still there are suffering. Is there any word on possibilities of relocating those who remain?"

"Good." It's a simple statement Mari gives T'Challa, touching his arm as they turn and start walking. "It should. I am rather ashamed I hadn't done anything before you mentioned it. I am glad that I am now."

"Still, there is only so much we can do, as you've stated before. The red tape that stops these people regaining their identities, is a problem." Ah, T'Challa raises that very issue.

"Not a lot, no. Miss Potts is working on it and I discussed the issue with Mister Queen as well. We really need some leverage on the administration. There are some who are sympathetic of course, but 'regulations'." It's the way that things go. "And yes, I've sent in several deliveries in the last few weeks. Not just clothing, but blankets and heaters as well - though, power is a problem for most of those here."

That is the way it always is with bureaucracies. It's no one's actual fault. It's just the regulations. They're not responsible. They're just following the rules. It's a mentality that any large system seems to breed and while it's understandable, it's incredibly obnoxious.

"Not that there is much at the moment to use the power on." Most of the buildings are wrecks, and the ones that aren't are potential fire traps, which is why power is shut down to this area to begin with. Well that and the underground lines are damaged or cut in many places.

"With what you have told me of mercenaries using the ruin to run illegal businesses and Klaue taking up residence in the area, it is more important than ever that we get people out of there. It's much easier to protect them when they are not… off the grid."

"You know very well, T'Challa, that not all wish to leave. Even if we offer them alternate and better accomodation, they won't leave here. The memories, the lives they carved out for themselves. However, I believe Emma was doing something about that - which is another reason we need to see her soon."

It had been T'Challa that had intuited mostly correctly why many of the residence of the Zone wouldn't leave.

"Even with the things that go on here. They are scared, I suppose, they'll be treated even worse than they are here."

"Or too stubborn to leave for the reasons you outlined…" T'Challa sighs. He looks deeper into the zone and for a moment Mari can see his eyes glow a ghostly blue green. He's looking for, or possibly at, the spirits of the dead. Whatever it is that he sees makes him sigh once more.

"Things are not settling down in the realm of the deceased. I may need to go talk to my goddess. And I should like you to come with me when I do."

"Why would things settle down, T'Challa?" Mari watches the monarchs, ex-monarchs eyes - the colour really is quite lovely if strange. "What did you see to make you sigh so?"

Mari picks her way through the rubble on the street as they talk. There's been much clean up done but there's still so much to do.

"You want … me to see your goddess with you? May I ask why?" That's surprised her.

"Because that is very much a part of my life and you are very much a part of my life and if doesn't ask about you when next we speak it is only a matter of time. She will want to… inspect you, I suspect. But it would be good to be on good terms with her." The King of the Dead says.

"Sometimes things do settle down. But right now what I see is spirits milling about to and fro. No purpose to them. That means they are unsettled, if not being held here. And they are not behaving like they are being held here."

Mari turns to raise an eyebrow at T'Challa "Inspect me …" The tone is chiding, but in a teasing way. "Surely, you have had … friends like me before, T'Challa." Though what they have here is perhaps a little more serious.

"Is there anything I should know then, before you take me to meet …. your deity?" Mari doesn't show it, but she's apprehensive. "Is there something that would be more appropriate to wear? I shall have to think of an appropriate gift as well." Which means she's going to have to do some research.

It might be interesting that she doesn't ask T'Challa what that gift might be, it's important to her that this come from her.

"Why are the spirits still here, though? Shouldn't they have passed over? I would have thought that was indication enough they were being held here." There's much Mari doesn't understand about the spirit world. That much is clear by those questions.

"Actually no. One does not… fool around when one is king. It gets taken too seriously by the nation who is eager to see who their queen might be." T'Challa laughs. "And in any case I have a nosy sister." He does actually. Mari might not know about siblings but she has surely heard.

"They should have passed over yes. It is not uncommon for mass dyings to cause enough confusion to hold people over, or so I am told. But this is something more than I would expect. There is something… wrong with the underworld here. Perhaps it had to do with so many deaths at once. Perhaps it was something else. But they do not seem to be inclined or able to pass on, and thus far I am not really seeing any signs of outside tampering."

Which is disturbing. T'Challa takes a few more steps and looks about again. So much… death.

Mari gives T'Challa a look and grins. "You were a hardly a monk, T'Challa." She laughs in return. She knows what he means though and it makes her wonder a little, not that she says anything more on the matter.

She'll follow up on etiquette for meeting his goddess a bit later.

"Maybe it's just congestion …" she says quietly but doesn't believe it. "You said they're not being held here, so it's not an artificial anchor. Could they just be tied to the area - their homes and their families? Do they even realise they're dead?"

"I was worse. I was a king. Kings have no fun, I swear. It is far better to be a prince." Of course T'Challa is only a prince insofar as Wakanda the nation is concerned. He is still a king and his domain is infinitely trickier than a nation. He might well miss ruling Living Wakanda from time to time.

"It is possible the dead cannot move on because the living have not. Then again, it is also possible that the living are reluctant to move on because the dead have not. It is difficult to tell. But there should not really be an option. The afterlife should pull them or at the very least they should rest. That they cannot bodes ill."

"I'll take your word for it. I think, had I been in your court, you might have had fun." Mari grins unrepent. "And I don't mean like that…" There's a wink from saucy minx as they walk.

The lighthearted banter is shortlived and she soon sobers as T'Challa brings the discussion back to the spirits. "It could be a feedback loop, which might be why they're also unsettled. When do you wish to see your Goddess? Tonight? Tomorrow?" She gets the feeling this is quite important and the longer they leave it, the worse it might be.

"You can't detect any other … effects … in the area? I mean, I don't know if your …. powers do that."

"My ability is limited, I am afraid, to seeing things. And I do not at the moment see any evidence of outside tampering. Just a lot of ghosts, some of them quite angry, and no real indication that they are moving on as intended." The prince smiles at Mari as she lightens the moment. "That is what makes me think the problem lies deeper."

Which is something to consider. If there is an issue with the underworld here, might there be elsewhere? And if not, why here?

"In any case I intend to entreat Bast tomorrow. I can do it at any time but she is a goddess and thus a certain amount of respect and ceremony is advisable if it is not a dire emergency."

"Then I don't have much time to ensure I impress her, do I?" Mari looks back the way that they've come. "You didn't say if there was something I should be aware of, T'Challa. When meeting her."

There's a long moment of silence as the pair pick way through the ruins. "Did I tell you that I, Darkdevil and Green Arrow intercepted some thugs the other day? It seems that Klaues people have a sideline business going - and they're using the weapons he's giving them."

"I am sure you will impress her. And no. There are forms but she will not expect you to know them. What will be important is that you conduct yourself as you would with a royal. She still very much views me as one and she will judge your suitability for me on that basis."

To be fair T'Challa IS a royal. He's just a very low key kind of Royal. Well. As low key as one gets while still introducing yourself as a prince.

"Darkdevil? Interesting. And what were they doing with those weapons?"

"And if Bast determines I *am* unsuitable, T'Challa?" Mari asks. It mild but her tone conveys a lot. Worry foremost. Not that Mari is worried, she can rub shoulders with the best. "She might not expect me to know the forms, but I think it would speak volumes of the regard I hold you in, if I was to learn at least the basics, don't you think?"

She's saying that it's important to her, because he is important to her.

"Yes. He's decided that a good form of stress relief is to … beat on criminals and thugs." Mari manages to say that with a straight face. "Using them. They opened fire on all three of us. In addition to the usual ballistic weapons, these guys now have sonic ones. It's going to make them hard to beat for the average cop."

"Then she may give you some trouble. I am confident in your ability to handle it. Do not worry. She does not make THOSE kinds of decisions for me. She is not after all my mother. If you wish, I can teach you the basics this afternoon." T'Challa winks. "Though she is rather protective of her champion."

Possessive might be a better word but it is one that either does not occur to the Prince or that he chooses not to use.

"Mmmm. That will make it difficult when we encourage the police to try actively policing these areas again. Something has to be done about them. What business were they engaged in, if I may ask?"

"I'm sure I can handle trouble." Mari murmurs, offering another smile at the other assurance. "But it will make it easier if she doesn't take exception to me. And yes, I would like that, this afternoon." There's another smirk and Mari offers her arm to the Prince "I can understand being protective. Vixen might feel the same, you know."

"It will, yes. Make it difficult, I mean, which is why shutting Klaue down is so important." The ex-model shakes her head at the question "This time? I think they were just playing it tough in the area. We got out of them though, they are meant to be moving some goods from Red Hook via the new tunnels that have been made. Drugs, I suspect."

"Might she now?" T'Challa smiles. It's a short lived smile though as talk turns to matters somewhat more serious.

"Drugs. That makes some sense. Many of them will have done similar in the places they came from. It is not something that area needs though. Violent, heavily armed drug dealers will only make stabilizing the Disaster Zone harder. And we have to worry about what Klaue was up to last night."

How he bound those ghosts, or rather where the knowledge came from, T'Challa still isn't sure. He IS sure, however, that mixing Klaue with necromancy in any degree is bad news.

"For a side business it does. I don't expect the thugs that have been hired to be particularly imaginative. Though I do wonder what type of drugs are being bought in." Mari takes T'Challa's arm as they walk given he take her offer just then.

It's a sassy look she gives the Prince for a quick moment. "Vixen might, yes."

Then he has to go and mention last night. Mari sighs. "You two have history, don't you. More than you've let on. He's tormenting you, at the least."

"Klaue was a problem for me when I was King of Wakanda. So yes. We have history. He and Wakanda have history. I am almost pleased that it is me he is bothering and not the embassy though I do admit, if he were bothering the Embassy I could leave it to professionals and that would be nice." As it is he has to deal with it himself.

"The man is a maniac. Pathological. And quite dangerous. Sadly, he is also very resourceful and his plans, while grandiose, often are workable if enough things go his way."

"This is personal for him, T'Challa." Mari says quietly, stopping in the street and turning the Wakandan to face her. "Believe me, I know. He's fixated on you - wants to hurt you. He made that clear when he 'next time'. He's also a sadist, if I don't miss my guess."

Considering T'Challa's words, Mari lets out a sigh. "Not just resourceful but he also has resources at his disposable. It wasn't a coincidence we were attacked by spirits. Spirits that were bound there and told if they got you, your crown, they would be freed."

"And what do you mean, leave it to the professionals? Isn't that what we are? And it's not like you're doing this alone, is it?"

"I meant leave it to people who handle problems for the Kingdom. And who have resources beyond what I do. Wakanda may be a poor kingdom but it is rich than I am, after all."

The Prince chuckles and shakes his head. "But yes. We are professionals. And yes. It seems that Klaue has found someone who can give him mystical secrets or perform some manner of magic for him. That is, I assure you, not good news. He will use it again and next time it will be more expansive. This was very much a test run of some kind. It is important that he be dislodged from New York as quickly as is practical."

"It's not that hard, you know, to find a hedge witch. A spellcaster. Not in New York, if you know where to look. And it seems that Klaue is willing to pay. How do you want to handle this? We've already told Steve, involving the Avengers wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination …"

"It was a test, yes. To see … I'm not sure. They targetted me as well as you." And T'Challa had spared resources to protect her. Despite Mari growling at the Kingsguard to protect their master. "Did you want to seek assistance of the Arcane type?"

"Is it not? I would think that it would be a little challenging and that is not the sort of thing I would have put in Klaue's wheelhouse before." T'Challa admits. He's never mucked around with the mystical. Tech was always Klaue's thing. Which is why he suspects this is a contractor now. He doubts Klaue learned any spellwork or has the talent to do so.

"At the moment I do not know if we need to. I am capable of handling everything we have seen thus far. If we encounter more potent necromancy we might need a spell worker of some kind." He's no idea who that would be but he could certainly ask around.

"Yes, they wanted your pendant which suggests that they're still trying to collect a full set. Which means they must think they have some idea of where the others are."

"With the right contacts in the underworld?" Mari shakes her head. "Pay the right amount of money and get someone to do it for you. Of course, whether you leave them alive when they've finished the work is a good question. Is he the type to 'tie up loose ends', T'Challa?"

"There's rumours of a caster down in Harlem. Well, someone like that. If we need to, I'd start there." The dark skinned woman murmurs. Necromancy makes her skin crawl - not the type that T'Challa does but that other sort.

As to the pendants, Mari nods slowly "Your crown and my pendant. We have two pendants in our possesion, mine and the fire pendant. The Earth pendant is safe back with its owner. The others? We were told they weren't on the Continent, but Klaue can know where they are and be retrieving as we speak."

That is, if he doesn't have them already.

"He very much is, yes." T'Challa says quietly. He's seen that in action before. Its efficient and always leaves the irritating man a way to escape the justice that's coming for him.

"You found him once before. Perhaps we can be proactive about this and find him again. We need to disrupt his tempo. Break his patterns so he isn't the one calling the shots anymore. He's not quite as good at reacting as he is at making people dance to his tune."

Panther and Vixen found him sort of by accident. Can they do it again on purpose?

"Then it's unlikely he's left the caster alive. Or if he has, they aren't at liberty to ask questions of." Mari notes, moving closer to T'Challa so they're touching.

"That was an accident, really. He hadn't expected us. We hadn't expected him, so we weren't prepared." T'Challa can almost hear the gears in Mari's head. "He knows you and the Panther, so very well. He knows how you think - he'll anticipate your next move, fairly accurately. Both of you. Tell me, what would the Panther do next? Do you know?"

"Unless he still needs them in which case… they might still be about. Klaue will make nice with them until he shoots them in the back. That's more or less his way." T'Challa touches Mari's hand as she moves a bit closer.

"Look for him. The resources the Panther will have are not limitless though. So he will focus on what he can find, start ruining portions of Klaue's plan and try to force him to react."

That's not a hard move to predict in general really. The key is countering it. What will Klaue do to use the knowledge he has to counter that move? And CAN that move be countered or does the madman simply have to move his critical operations into another as yet undiscovered stream?

"We need to work out what he'd normally do, the Panther that is, and do the opposite of it. The only way we're going to beat Klaue is to not play his game, but our own." Mari answers. She's kind of good at this but that's easier said than done.

"Klaue wants to be found, I think, by you. He'd settle for the Panther, I think. I think it's time we use you both as bait."

"Or me. If he thinks he could hurt you through me, I think he would."

"I do not doubt that, yes." Klaue will absolutely hurt or kill Mari to get at T'Challa. And that is a disturbing reality that has to be accounted for. She is far from helpless, but she is human and she's not invulnerable nor can she be alert all the time.

"Well the opposite would be to ignore him, but I do not think that will help."

You both. Erm. This could get complicated. "What is it that you suggest?"

"We could ignore him. He'll try again to get at you. The problem with that, T'Challa, is that we will forever be on the defensive." Mari smiles, taking his hand as it touches hers. Gesturing for them to keep walking, she shakes her head.

"Use me as the bait. Let him come for me. Let him think I weak and vulnerable. If he is as arrogant as you say he is, that will be simple to do."

The danger, of course, is her pendant. "I'll have a replica of my pendant made and wear that. You can keep the real thing for safe keeping."

"If you don't like that idea … then we put yourself or the Panther out there. Let him think he can have you. Then close the trap, either way." beat "We know what he'll bite on, and the bait is delicious."

"Not ideal, I agree." Also ignoring Klaue lets him have free run of the disaster zone which will be, ahem, disastrous.

The Prince is deep in thought but he keeps his hand on Mari's. It's grounding and comforting. "I do not like any of those ideas but I agree that it is probably the only way to draw him out. And as much as I would like to put myself or the Panther out there, I think you are correct in that this is the only thing he will bite on."

It'll have to look real, not just the fake but the circumstances. But… they can do this. The question is can they handle what happens when they do?

"We'll do it, Mari. But do be careful."

Mari offers T'Challa what she hopes is a reassuring smile, something that is probably ruined by her next words. "When am I ever not, my dear?"

Like, nearly all the time.

"Come, you have some construction to check on and then, I believe, we have a date tonight. Tomorrow, will be soon enough to start on this."

"We do indeed have a date tonight and I am quite looking forward to it." That, at least, is honest and true. T'Challa very much enjoys Mari's company and it is one of the few things that can get him to stop working in one fashion or another and truly take the night off and relax. He… is going to need to figure out a way to… tell her.

Otherwise this is going to get very awkward indeed. But not yet. Not yet. Let them have their date tonight. They can visit the goddess soon enough after that.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License