Queen Ororo, also known as the X-Man Storm, is taking part in a visit to Wakanda’s rural districts. Her advisor M’dira believes appearances like this go a long way to getting average Wakandans to understand how much Ororo cares about their welfare. Ororo has less faith in PR, but accedes. She gives orders to leave the security detail outside. She doesn’t want the people to think she needs protection.
A speaker introduces her as X-Man and wife of their king.
The crowd unexpectedly admires her. It’s good to be king! a young man sighs. This is a pleasant surprise, Ororo whispers to M’dira, who explains that the rural Wakandans love the royal family.
Storm addresses the people, rather than boring them with a lecture she’d rather take their questions. The crowd asks about how she and T’Challa met and her family to questions when she is going to get pregnant.
The next moment, they point at the sky, shouting the king is returning. They recognize his ship this far away? Storm wonders.
However, something is wrong with the ship which gives off an automated mayday signal but doesn’t answer to radio contact. It heads for the city, about to crash.
Ororo flies upward, trying to use her winds to brace the ship but it moves too fast and crashes within the city. The army and the ambulances arrive soon, as does Storm. S’yan holds her back. He knows she wants to blast that thing open, but let the professionals do their job. Helplessly, she asks if he is in there. Let’s hope not, he replies darkly.
She steps in after them, and finds her injured husband muttering, it was an ambush. They never stood a chance. No! she cries heplessly as he sinks down.
Five hours ago:
King T’Challa, accompanied by his bodyguards / ceremonial wives-in-training, the Dora Milaje, was in his highspeed ship which landed in front of an old European castle somewhere at the foot of mountains. They see the person they’ve come to meet swimming in as fast as they are flying.
The Black Panther is welcomed by a butler and he and the Dora Milaje are led to a pool within the castle out of which King Namor flies up. He welcomes T’Challa as a friend. They shake hands as Namor tells him he appreciates him coming on such short notice. They have much to discuss.
The Wakandan royal castle. T’Challa’s mother Ramonda hurries outside, telling her daughter Shuri to hurry up or she is leaving without her. A highspeed vessel takes them to the hospital, where Ramonda is furious when she learns the doctors won’t release any information on her son’s current state. Where is he? she asks the politicians. S’yan asks her to let the doctors do their work. Move! Ramonda orders.
Suddenly, Ororo enters, telling them it’s okay and to let Ramonda in. As if they could stop her she huffs. Shuri asks what’s going on: They see for themselves a moment later: the badly injured T’Challa with the doctors working on him. Who did that? is the question.
Four hours ago the two heads of state sat down to talk as Namor reminisces that much has changes since they last talked. T’Challa agrees. Then he knows of whom he speaks, Namor remarks. Norman Osborn, T’Challa replies. His rise to power is a curious development, even by western standards. Which is why he called him here, Namor replies. Osborn has reached out. Made certain offers, certain overtures and a few of them have accepted. Doom, Loki, Emma Frost, the Hood, Namor himself.
He finds himself in interesting company, T’Challa observes. Osborn is a madman, comes the reply. The alliance will not hold. Which is exactly why he wants the Black Panther at the table, so that when things inevitably fall apart, leveller heads might guide the course of action.
T’Challa reminds him he did not join the Illuminati – an alliance of honorable men. Why would he join their Cabal? For Wakanda’s sake, Namor replies. A fickle wind blows, a storm is coming that will envelop everything within its path, even the sturdiest trees.
The Panther replies that weeks ago Skrull soldiers proclaimed themselves a hurricaine that would erase Wakanda from the map. Wakanda made widows of their wives and orphans of their children.
Namor gets up, he asked T’Challa here out of respect for their friendship. He hopes he will rethink his position while there is still time. His past allies are weak. In this new world Wakanda will be an island. They shake hands. Wakanda has always been an island, T’Challa tells him. Namor tells him goodbye and leaves.
At the hospital Dr. B’gali comes to give the waiting ones the news. It’s too early to tell, he admits. T’Challa is in critical condition and currently in a coma. They are doing everything they can. Ramonda orders up-to-the minute reports. She wants to know any change in her son’s condition. Ororo looks at the tank holding her husband and turns away crying.
Sy’an tells the others it is time to have the conversation no one wants to have. Ramonda refuses at first, stating they don’t know yet. Here’s what they do know, he insists. Their king is in a coma. His bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, are missing or dead. And whoever did this to him must know he is too incapacitated, possibly dead, and might be ready to storm at Wakanda’s gate any moment. No one wants to discuss the worst case scenario, but they cannot avoid the obvious. As of this moment Wakanda has no Black Panther. What is he getting at? Shuri asks. He replies they must initiate the protocols. The queen mother knows he is correct. She agrees. Tradition and the safety of their nation demand a new Black Panther. The only question is who?
Three hours ago:
The Black Panther and the Dora Milaje stepped out of the castle to face Doctor Doom and several of his robot creations. Unsurprised, T’Challa remarks he takes the wild guess Doom is not here to recruit him. Why bother? comes the reply. Doom knows what his answer would be. Then again diplomacy never has been his strong suit. Or T’Challa’s, he might add. Both of them have always preferred the direct approach.He’d hoped his wife could be here for this but he supposes his concubines will have to do.
The Dora Milaje draw their weapons as T’Challa warns Doom they are more than he can handle. Is that so? Doom asks. They are about to find out!