2020-04-03 - Thank The Goddess


T'Challa always has a plan - this time it involves a surprise for his travelling companions.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Apr 3 05:16:58 2020
Location: Canada and Wakanda

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Theme Song



Canada. It's lovely. The air is crisp, the countryside is green, the people are apologetic. Unfortunately it is ALSO the alleged location of a somewhat nebulous network of HYDRA contacts and shady business that has the name 'Zemo' attached to it. Which is why T'Challa, Mari McCabe, Steve Rodgers and Melinda May have all made the trip.

It is of note that Canada gets pretty damn rural pretty damn fast once you get away from the urban centers on the river and the quartet have found themselves in the Quebec countryside on a state road some miles south of Lantier. All around them are gently rolling wooded hills which alternately conceal and reveal a series of small lakes. It would be much faster to fly, but as this is HYDRA and as a SHIELD quinjet or the Bus might tip them off and as SHIELD is not yet ready for them to be tipped off, they're driving.

Also, half of the radio programming is in French. Because Quebec.

T'Challa had NOT volunteered to drive suspecting that either Steve or May would prefer to do so. He is currently in the back working on a sudoku puzzle.

Up front, Steve has long given up on reading the book he brought along. It's an old, beat-up copy of 'The Once and Future King' with dog-eared pages and a spine worn and bent from being open time and time again. It now lies page-down split over his thigh as he leans an elbow on the arm-rest of the vehicle's door, his chin on his palm. His eyes track the endlessly changing scenery with an interest undimmed if admittedly slightly bored.

Not the first time he's been to Canada, but the first time in a long time he's had a chance to appreciate the glitter of the lakes beyond the hills and thickly-boughed pine trees. Normally, the approach to the country is by plane or by night. A glance over at the radio comes when a particularly amusing jingle repeats again in Quebecois. It makes him smirk to himself and then glance out the window once more. Memories come back of the Howling Commandos, specifically Dernier, and the smile deepens. Fond, fond memories, these.

There was no arguing about who would be driving. May simply claimed the keys before anyone else could. Deal. But hey, that means that whoever is sitting behind her driver's seat likely has PLENTY of leg room. And she's not once so much as mentioned anything about the radio. See how considerate she is?

Her eyes flick toward Steve for a very brief moment when he smiles at something — probably the music — but then her attention is back on the road. It's been pretty smooth driving thus far, but she doesn't take chances. A few moment later, and her eyes check on passengers in the back seat before again returning to the road.

Mari was quite happy to sit in the back and let Steve and May 'discuss' who was driving. The ex-model is dressed casually, in jeans, a shirt and hikers. She's reading some reports, while T'Challa is playing Sudoku. Reports and answering emails as they drive.

With a slight smirk, the dark skinned woman looks up out the windows "I think it's about now I say Are we there yet?"

"Don't," May promptly replies to Mari.

"You sure we're not there yet?" chimes in Steve in most bland manner, squinting at the surroundings again most innocently.

"I will kick you out of this car, and I won't bother to stop first," May says to Steve in exactly the same deadpan as everything else.

"Je ne sais." T'Challa chuckles as he looks up from his puzzle. It is at this point, as the timeless questions of 'there' and 'yet' are debated, that something hits the car. Hard.

It is a bear. But it is not just any bear. No. It is a GINORMOUS bear. And it is cybernetically augmented. Needless to say this is NOT the typical Canadian wildlife.

A huge, augmented paw comes through the window near Mari as the car is put on it's side. No reflection on May's driving skill. That thing was moving at Lambo speeds and is strong enough to LIFT the car if it wanted to. "Captain. So sorry about the mess." A speaker plays a voice with a slight germanic accent. It did apologize though so maybe it IS Canadian.

"Goddess, in thy great grace remove us from this place." T'Challa says under his breath.

And then… they're not in the car anymore. They're underground, in some place lit by pale blue light in a large dusty… circle? Like a town forum of some long buried and forgotten city.

Steve has a moment to glance back over his shoulder and shrug towards T'Challa as well. "Je ne sais pas aussi," he has time to reply before the sudden jostling of the car. Modern seatbelts, be praised; he doesn't have time to grab the battered copy of his book before it flies down into the open area before the seat. Up is down for a second and once the vehicle rights itself, the Captain has time to briefly react to the — giant bear paw bursting crackled glass into the back seat. With a grimaced grunt against one shoulder screaming concern and another at what must be a scalp wound from whacking his skull off the passenger-side window, he grabs hold of his seat edge and lunges out at the paw.

Frankly, it's a loosely-aimed swat at the paw, as if his fist might break one of the metal struts counting as tendons or bones, but it never lands.

Instead, Steve jolts in place as he finds himself seated in the sudden silent and drastically different environment of the underground. A cough and then he's taking a head count. "God…" he breathes, putting a hand to his head. A wince and then he gets unsteadily to his feet. "Roll call?"

Mari is jolted as the car is hit, thankfully she has her seat beat on but she'll be rather bruised. As the paw comes through the window, the spirit caller reacts instinctively and calls on the toughness of a rhinocerous. It's not much but it's something.

"T'Chall. We need to get you ou-" Her words die off as the King of the Dead sends up his prayer.

Shaken, finding it a little difficult to breath, the ex-model looks around. "McCabe checking in." She's already turning to check to T'Challa. "Remind me to thank Bast for her favour, T'Challa. And you clearly are in her favour."

That might not make much sense to the others.

May saw the attack coming, for about the fourth of a second between the gigantic bear appearing and the car getting bashed like a flimsy toy. Clearly, being the squishiest person in the car goes not go well for her.

When they all end up somewhere else, May is the one that doesn't reply immediately. She was knocked unconscious in the initial car impact and since that really was only seconds ago…

"I am here Steve. May is down, though. And I shall certainly do so, Mari." The Wakandan murmurs.

In an instant glowing blue figures appear all around them. Men and women, all apparently African by the facial features - skin tone is not really a thing for them - and one of them leans down to check May's pulse. Though this DOES look like he's putting a hand on her throat. Well he kind of is. Which might be a bit jarring for Steve. Or May, if she wakes up at this point. Mari likely knows what is going on.

An instant after THAT happens a eight more glowing figures who are clearly warriors by the spears and hide shields they hold, enter the circle from a doorway on the far side.

"Hold." T'Challa says. "These are guests." A flickering crown of ghostly blue flame appears above his head as he speaks.

Oh yes. There may be questions. Or mild panic. Or both. Um. These are ghosts. Are they all dead?

Even if he can feel the slick warmth of the scalp wound against his palm and his opposite shoulder twinges, not hearing May's curt report makes the Captain break into action. He does hear something about Bast, yes, but it doesn't compute, not when ghostly blue figures suddenly appear in the next blink. Steve is brought up short, but not for long: his stride towards the one touching May's throat is entirely in self-defense for the downed woman.

T'Challa's command appears to bring the entire phantasmal collection up short. It means Steve can kneel beside May now and quickly look her over as best he can manage. He grimaces; there's no telling about broken bones or potential traumatic brain injury with her unconscious, and he's loathe to pick her up and jostle her, but…she can't just lie there. It's cooler on the ground, hardpacked as it is.

"Respectfully, this doesn't appear much better'n the bear with the metal paw," the super-soldier notes drily. "We need a travois to move her, she's not gonna like being carried." Blood dries alongside his temple now as Steve looks between the living and the dead alike.

He does surreptitiously pinch himself: oh good, he is still alive. But what's this? Steve squints at his arm. There's a translucent golden torc wrapped around his bicep. He can't see the one about his neck, but both mark him as Einherjar in this spooky place.

The instant there's a hand touching her throat, one of May's hands swats it away as the other swipes out with a small knife, and then she's trying to both sit up and scramble back from the owner of the hand simultaneously, which really just succeeds in her backing up into Steve.

Still more disoriented than not, she tries to shove away from Steve as abruptly as she did the glowing blue figure, revealing the bruise already starting bloom along the left side of her face.

Mari moves to check May but stops when the ghosts start doing that. "My thanks, ancestors." She says as respectfully as she can, moving to check Steve and that blood. "Don't worry, they shouldn't hurt us. They're T'Challa's to command." It's funny isn't it, that she knows this about him but not the other?

"And Steve needs attention as well. Super soldier or not, a hit on the head is a hit on the head - and don't you go telling me how hard headed you are."

"May, they're friendly" the dark skinned woman says when she comes to. "T'Challa. Please tell me you have a plan."

"Easy, easy Agent May." T'Challa makes a hand gesture to the ghost and it drops back. "You are safe. Welcome to my Kingdom. I know it does not look like much, Steve, Mari is right. This is better. You are in no danger so long as you do not wander off toward the bottom of the city." This possibly sounds a little bit more creepy than it is meant to, given that they're in something that looks like a buried city or… a very elaborate city sized tomb. And given the fact that he has a ghostfire crown.

"Can you move, Agent?" Because if not Steve is right. They'll need something to carry her with. Which they can probably get but it'll be awkward. Steve himself gets a curious look.

"Interesting ornament you have there…"

More ghosts arrive and, yes. T'Challa has a plan. T'Challa ALWAYS has a plan. "Why don't we take this somewhere a bit more comfortable. Food for the guests, please. And drink." Ghostly servants scurry off and T'Challa gestures toward an absolutely cyclopean structure. "It would seem that we were on the right track. I shall ask the Goddess to take us back to Canada shortly but since we are here we may as well take advantage of some of the things I have down here. One of which includes some remote surveillance. Shall we?"

He begins to move, pausing to make sure the others can keep up. As he does, ghosts come up with platters of fresh fruit, bread and cheeses to offer to the people as they move.

Knowing better than to attempt to restrain May, the Captain merely braces in his kneel beside her and then lingers, giving the ghosts around them both very flat and moderately threatening looks. He does make certain to not toast Mari with his glare when he glances at her though, downgrading the expression to a frown of discomfit. "Heard that one before," he murmurs to Mari, pointedly ignoring the itch of the drying line of blood on his face. A roll of his shoulder makes him flinch at the corners of his eyes, but everything does feel intact if somewhat kinked up.

His attention flickers to T'Challa and lingers. "Einherjar." The single word is all that's volunteered for the moment given May's awake.

"It's Rogers, Agent May," he then says quietly to the woman. "If you need a hand, I can help you walk. T'Challa's got someplace better'n this to be."

Movement in his peripheral makes him glance over and minutely flinch at the sudden plate of cheese offered. "Um, thanks, but in a little bit," he says, attempting to be polite to the attendants despite the situation.

"I'm sure you have." Mari answers with the smallest of smiles. "Let us following T'Challa and get you both cleaned up." She's thanking Anansi at the moment she was wearing her seatbelt.

When the cheese platters arrive, she indulges. Of course. "Some water if you have it, please. "

The others' words do get through to May quickly enough and she takes a breath, closing her eyes to do a mental check. Bruising, nothing broken or sprained, maybe a hint of whiplash. It takes her only a few seconds to finally open her eyes and take stock of their surroundings as well as Steve, Mari and T'Challa. "Fine," she tells Steve quietly, making that knife in her hand disappear back into her jacket. She's not going to say no to help, though she caught the blond man's flinch when he moved his shoulder.

The sudden offer of platters of food has her looking at the ghosts with her version of incredulity. "Thank you, no." She knows better to eat something until she's sure she isn't concussed. Been there, puked that. Pass.

They do eventually make something that is akin to a great hall. Everything here is grey-brown stone and what light there is comes from guttering blue ghostflame torches but HERE there is what looks like touches of life. Actual furniture. Power lines. A computer. A worktable. And a joystick.

"Ah here we are." T'Challa begins to fire up his computer and pauses to toss Mari a first aid kit. "See to Steve, please, Mari? Agent May if I could have you over by the monitor and joystick. Wakanda has, don't tell the Canadians, some remote drones near the place where we were run off the road. If you could take a look, see if you can spot that bear and where it went?"

Drones. Well that makes sense. Wakanda is - so far as Mari knows - a poor country but it is not ENTIRELY backwards. Steve of course knows better and even May might have some inkling that the nation is not what it seems from SHIELD briefs, though those briefs ARE about eighty years out of date.

Eventually all of the ghosts go away as well except for two guards at each door. So… some privacy?

Offering whatever aid May deemed necessary, Steve does make it to this oddly juxtapositioned room complete with bluish werelight AND technology both. He makes certain May is able to do as she pleases before he steps off to one side, arms lightly folded.

"We'll keep the drones under wraps. That bear was…something different." Someone's already planning on informing his cybernetic husband about this particular bear and partially in hopes that Barnes will (unfortunately?) recognize the creature. Should Mari attend on him with the kit, the Captain will fall silent and patiently still for the cleaning of the scalp wound. It's not nearly as bad as it looks; super-serum will have it knitted by tomorow morning and gone by the next, though a bandage wouldn't be remiss.

Of course Mari sees to Steve, taking the kit and removing the sterile wipes from it. "As I suspected, it's not as bad as it looks - partially thanks to your hard head and the serum, I guess." She's gentle but firm and can't stop the sting of the alcohol as she wipes the blood away.

The torque and arm band get an interested look but she doesn't ask.

The setup has the ex-model looking around the room in interest. She knows that Wakanda has tech, she's seen T'Challa's rig back in New York but this … seems more than she expected.

"I didn't get a good look at the bear, just the paw that came through my window. Was it alive or some robotic thing?"

"Agent May, may I see to your injuries as well?"

May relents to letting Mari try to ply the first aid kit, but as she's not bleeding anywhere (obvious), there's not much to be done. The bruising on the side of her face is gonna be IMPRESSIVE in a few hours, but that's the worst of the visible injuries. She does give the darker-skinned woman a significant look followed by a glance at Steve's shoulder, then steps over to T'Challa and the computer system.

"I can try," she tells T'Challa, though she can't really promise anything. "Is this image in real time?"

"It is yes, so it might be a little choppy but the connection is generally good." May is probably familiar with this tech. It's not unlike flying a Predator or Reaper drone that the US Military, or SHIELD, might use. But it seems smaller and a lot more maneuverable. It doesn't take her long to spot the bear. It's throwing off heat like a bonfire and moving fast to the west. This WILL require some fancy flying though because where it's going she's going to need to be quite low to track it. So T'Challa leaves her to it and comes over to Steve.

"Someone knew our route." He says quite seriously, waiting for Mari to join them. "They knew our route and they planned an ambush. Do you think that we have a leak in SHIELD, or do you think they were able to trace us some other way?"

It's a good question if not a pleasant one to think about.

Now sans blood along his face but with a nice butterfly bandage to keep the skin closed, Steve eyes May at the controls until T'Challa comes over to speak with him. Another subtle roll of his shoulder as he glances over at the royal and then over at Mari.

"Can't hazard either way off the bat, though the voice was familiar. Heard it before…thinking it might have been Zemo himself. Some of the other unfortunates 've dealt with before had a stronger accent. That, 'nd he used my title; assumes familiarity. Dunno how they would've traced us unless there was something on the car. No way to check at this point," he sighs. Truly, the car's a wreckage somewhere in the vast wilderness of Canada.

There isn't much to be done about Mays bruising - except to apply a salve the Wakandan's have provided. It's amazing what some grass roots medicines can do. It will bring the bruising out far more quickly and ease the pain. It won't be pretty, but it won't be pretty for much less time.

"What did you do to your shoulder?" Mari hadn't missed the glance from May or the surreptitious roll of Steves shoulder. "Would you like me to call Bucky, for you?" Yes, Mari totally used that ploy against him.

"T'Challa are you uninjured?" He doesn't seem to be, but she'll check anyway. "A leak is an option. But maybe they're tracking one of us …" Without really thinking, she touches her pendant.

T'Challa just chuckles. He knows full well that Steve would not like Bucky to be called. Though the not-quite-Russian is probably going to find out anyway, more's the pity for Steve.

"I am unhurt yes." He was on the side of the car that got rolled but the airbag went off and they were out of the car shortly thereafter.

The Wakandan sees the gesture to the pendent and nods. That's a possibility. "You and I are also celebrities. We have tried to be discrete but it is possible we were seen. Still, to have been able to catch us on that particular road suggests an active mode of tracking us." The Wakandan sighs.

"Zemo, Steve, seems the most likely possibility. That means we've already been 'made' as it were. What do you two think we should do? May might be able to track the bear to something significant but whatever we do now, they are already aware they're being hunted and they will be prepared." Do they push on with just the four of them? Or retreat back to New York for help?

"Acute impact trauma. I already slipped the joint back into place. Sure, call Barnes. He'll tell you to tell me to walk it off," the Captain off-handedly replies, more focused on the situation at hand than his personal health. His eyes slide to one side of the room, idly tracking the electrical cables vining their way up the walls and exiting somewhere beyond in the shadows thrown navy-black by the eerie torchlights.

"We might be made, but while they had the bear, they didn't have…what you did, T'Challa, 'nd they're probably still reeling. Now could be a time to strike, while they're still trying to figure out what the hell happened to us all. 's'a small window though."

Mari offers T'Challa a small smile, moving to stand by his side when she finishes tending to Steve. "I'm sure he would and then he would likely give you curry when you got home." She teases Steve a little. Yes, she sees him giving the place a once over.

"Strike while the iron is hot, T'Challa. If you can get us back there now, we hit them. If we wait, we don't know when we'll get another chance and we might not be so … lucky next time."

"Fortunately there is a cat goddess that likes me a little bit. I am sure if May can find us a target, we can beseech her to get us there to smash it." After all someone tried to hurt her favorite Wakandan.

"Now, let us let May concentrate and I shall give you the tour of the Wakandan City of the Dead. Much better than the one in Egypt I assure you." The King motions for the others to follow him. Hopefully when he returns, it will be go time in T'Challa Town.

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