Shuri, as the Black Panther, finds herself confronted by Ohyaku and her armed cronies. Ready for round two? Ohyaku grins. As a matter of fact she is, Shuri replies. It’s been a real bitch of a day and she could really use some recreational violence…
Ohyaku is happy to hear that. The kill’s no fun without a struggle. “Says the mouse to the cat,” Shuri retorts and attacks her foes with a flare grenade. Next she goes for Ohyaku. The other woman tries to strangle Shuri with one of her steel tentacles. Instead, Shuri maneuvers her to take her own man’s fire, then takes out the two cronies when Ohyaku attacks her again. Shuri takes her out with her bare hands, telling her she isn’t as scary as she thinks.
Meanwhile in Wakanda, anchormen M’Toka and N’Dega are again discussing Shuri’s speech. M’Toka points out she addressed the financial crisis and laid out the government’s step by step plan to deal with it.
N’Dega dismisses it as well written. But clever words are not what this country needs right now. They need real leadership that’s not phoned in! Does it really matter if Shuri wasn’t physically here to deliver the speech? The content matters. M’Toka opines.
N’Dega points out the world press are frying Shuri for what they are calling stunt politics. As a result, Wakanda has gone from global power to punch line.
M’Toka points out that Princess Ororo has been sent to deal with the farmers’ problems. She’ll set things right. Yes, the weather witch is coming to the rescue, N’Dega remarks sourly. Was she actually sent by the princess regent? Or is this another example of scramble tactics by whoever is left at the palace holding the ball?
Doctor Doom calls the Broker to inform him the match is lit. Wakanda is ready to burn. The Broker congratulates him on taking Storm and T’Challa out of action. Only one player left on the board. Doom replies he’s managed a clean sweep.
Storm has arrived at the stricken Wakandan fields. A scientist explains that they are seeing this problem all across Wakanda. Phytophthora infestans has devastated almost thirty percent of the potato crop and sixteen percent of the hybrid huckleberries. Stem blight disease has virtually wiped out the sweet potato harvest for this season. And they may lose the entire corn crop to Turcicum. These blights have never been seen on the continent before. They’ve used every specific and broad spectrum fungicide they have… they’ve consulted agricultural specialists in fifty nations. This is madness!
It’s unnatural, Ororo spells out. They should be in the middle of the harvest. This should be a time of abundance and celebration. Instead, every day hundreds of families are applying for food assistance. Something has to be done before Wakanda becomes a blighted desert. Dr. Deraja pleads he didn’t know who else to call.
Storm creates a thunderstorm, trying to clear the blight away. She realizes this is just a start. There are thousands of fields like this. It’s a wonderful start, he exclaims. Yes, agrees Doom, who secretly watches from afar. A wonderful start.
Shuri contacts her people, informing them her foes are dead. Someone must have remote-activated their inferno fail safes. However, she was able to place a telemetric uplink on them before they flared out.
Flea patches her through to Zakra and M’yra in Philadelphia. But they weren’t lucky either. Their target was ready for them and had twenty pounds of semtex strapped to him. He shouted some obscenities about Shuri. Before he detonated he said one word: “Desturi” Shuri guesses. Same thing happened with her. Zakra and M’yra identify the word as Swahili meaning “custom” or “tradition,” though M’yra has heard it used for other purposes. Something she heard after she left the Dora Milaje…
After she was injured and dismissed, she knocked around the continent for a while, did some mercenary work. Every once in a while, she’d be approached because of her skills and training. Sometimes because of her connections to the Wakandan royal family. You travel in certain circles, you tend to meet the wrong kind of people. Extreme type. For years, there’s been very quiet dissent in certain quarters… people who don’t like the way things have been run in Wakanda. Who don’t like that King T’Challa married a foreign-born woman. That don’t like the fact that vibranium and technology based on it have been sold to foreign governments and to vigilante groups like the Avengers and SHIELD. These people feel that Wakanda has moved away from its ages old connection to tradition and customs.
end of narration
Shuri summarizes that “Desturi” has become a watchword for a movement that wants to return to older traditions. It’s disheartening to know that an enlightened people such as their own can succumb to paranoia so thoroughly that xenophobia becomes their ideology. My’ra begins there is more than that. Shuri isn’t surprised.
In a tent in Wakanda, T’Challa sits cross-legged, while the shaman Zawavari writes runes on his body. Several Dora Milaje watch critically asking what language that is. Zawavari explains these are incantations and protective spells from a race that died out so long ago nobody remembers their name. Where did he learn them? In a dream.
The Dora Milaje Anake tells T’Challa that she doesn’t like this, they are warriors, not tricksters. He gets up and informs her if the war changes so must the warriors. He is ready for this.
He is surrounded by several sorcerers, Zawavari’s best acolytes, who are told to show no mercy. Doom showed him that mercy has no place in this kind of war. He tells them to try and kill him and they attack with their spells.
On the plane, Shuri is informed about the Wakandan harvest problems by Storm, who calls them unnatural. She’s brought rain to eighty fields so far, but something is badly wrong here. The rainfall sinks into the ground but the root system won’t hold it. They continue to wither as if they are in a drought. It doesn’t just go against science, it goes against nature.
What does T’Challa say about it? Shuri asks; he is the scientist in the family. He has barely said ten words to her since returning from limbo, Ororo confides.
Are they having problems? Shuri asks. She doesn’t even know if it’s about them, Ororo replies. Since he’s returned, he’s become reclusive… distant. Not just to her but to everyone. He spends most of the time in the gym doing endless rehab or in the library, reading old books or walking in the jungle.
And he still hasn’t said who attacked him? Shuri asks. Not to her, Ororo replies. To Shuri? He took her aside and gave her some advice and gave her a list of friends of his she can contact for advice. Beyond that nothing. He is keeping Shuri in the dark as much as Ororo. He has become a stranger to her as well.
The wizards attack T’Challa. Anake orders Zawavari to stop this. He chides her for her lack of faith. She calls this unholy darkness. What does she know of darkness? he scoffs. He’s walked through nightmare lands that would tear the sanity from her. He’s squatted in dripping lava in the bowels of the earth to palaver with eyeless toad things. He’s sacrificed his own boon, that he could listen to the faintest whispers of the elder gods. And why? Because T’Challa is his king, no matter who sits on the throne of Wakanda. And he has need of what only the darkness may offer. To save him, to save Wakanda, Zawavari has embraced darkness. To learn the secrets he needs he has become darkness.
Enough! he calls, and the attacks stop. He addresses T’Challa as “majesty.” Have the magics of his strongest acolytes hurt him? He is not dead, T’Challa replies. In fact he has never felt more alive.
In the USA, after a shower, Shuri asks her team if they have cracked the code on the hard drive. She is informed that the Broker or whoever he’s working for managed to plant a spycam on the royal quinjet. The video feed is spotty, however, so they can assume the onboard jamming system is interfering with it. The audio feed is almost completely incomprehensible. The digital images are inconsistent, jumbled. The time code verifies the footage was taken seconds before the shipboard system went into partial shutdown probably when the quinjet was attacked at 18:07:51.
The data is fragmented and out of order. However, a fragment contains a piece of the time code. He was able to go though each fragment and reassemble them in the correct order. There are gaps but they have clear images in the seconds leading up to the ambush.
They are shown a fragment from seconds before the attack. They unclearly witness the quinjet under attack. The next part does come through again. They replay the sequence. One thinks he understand the name “Namor.” Blood of the Panther God! Shuri exclaims.
She informs Reed Richards, who is troubled. He has been trying to contact Namor but he doesn’t reply. Perhaps he’ll take her calls, Shuri announces grimly. As another head of state.
Richards points out that despite Namor’s cold and ruthlessness he prizes honor and he and T’Challa have been friends and allies for years. Shuri doesn’t put much faith into old alliances. Look at Fury and SHIELD! Look at Tony Stark!
Richards asks her to bear in mind what he said. Has she learned anything from Ohyaku? Has she been able to verify the connection with Namor? Shuri replies she’s unable to answer questions that moment. Reed points out that she is flying into a dangerous situation without any reliable intelligence. Is that wise?
Shuri replies she needs answers. Reed suggests back-up. Storm perhaps. If she could wait for a day, he could come with her, and the rest of the FF… Shuri refuses. She wants to speak to Namor as a peer, not with an army at her back. Besides, she’s just going there to asks some questions. And if he refuses to answer? Reed asks. Her new weaponized uniform ready, Shuri announces she’ll insist.
Watching everything that is going on, Doom remarks “perfect”…