In Wakanda, the statue of the great Panther is brought down. The workers check all the statues after the destruction of the palace. Their king had enemies, one of them states. But he always faced them without fear. They saw the news reports. Who knows what might have happened next, if not for Ororo, Wakanda’s new queen?
Her people rejoice, one of her servants tells her. She thanks him, but part of her still wishes she’d come here by a different path. Her humility does her credit, he replies, but the course of all their lives are written by the hand of fate. Silently, she thinks that she refuses to be defined by the so-called laws of men or the whims of the gods.
Until recently, Storm stood alongside the X-Men, her closest friends. Until she murdered Wolverine. Kitty Pryde confronted her about it and clawed her face, a scar Storm still bears. The X-Men also discovered Storm was allied with a secret society calling itself the Consortium. With her former teammates on the verge of capturing her, the Consortium decided Storm had outlived her usefulness and tried to eliminate her. Storm took flight…
Flashback to months ago:
The night Storm fled the X-Men, the Consortium debates what to do. A blonde woman, Amelia Trask, announces they are tracking Storm from orbit. She is headed for Africa. Other members swear this is a disaster. Thanks to that wretched mutant, their entire New York operation has been jeopardized! Trask reminds them she warned them. So why is she holding back now? the man asks. They need to find a way to eliminate Storm.
Trask accuses them of trying to compound what is already a disaster. The Consortium has had a brilliant run. They’ve amassed power and influence through the world over the course of generations but, thanks to their foolishness, the secret’s out. The question is what to do about it. The man suggests she use her daughter’s Sentinel project. Trask considers that a mistake and calls him a fool. The X-Men rise to every challenge. She wonders if Storm is returning home or looking for something else.
The African nation of Wakanda:
The weather is going bad. King T’Challa aka the Black Panther is meeting with his advisors, one of whom informs him his enemy, Erik Killmonger, is active again. Some people never learn, he sighs. Can they now please talk about the education budget?
Suddenly, there is lightning and thunder and Storm breaks through the skylight. One of the Dora Milaje – the King’s guards – considers this an attack. T’Challa tells her to sheathe her blade. He has nothing to fear from one of his oldest friends.
The next day, the Black Panther receives a call from another old friend, Nick Fury, who warns him that Storm isn’t who he thinks she is. T’Challa asks Fury to give him a bit of credit. They’ve run the full spectrum of DNA scans and genetic analyses. Storm passed every test. Fine, but she still has to answer for what she’s done, Fury insists. T’Challa points out he has reports from Interpol and SHIELD itself that contradict Fury’s findings. Can he explain that? Fury replies he has a gut instinct. No less than he, T’Challa retorts. In his case though the instinct of a man in love, Fury accuses him. Freely admitted, T’Challa replies, is that so bad a thing? Fury asks him that he help them find the truth. T’Challa believes he already has.
Storm awakes in a luxurious bedchamber and hears voices arguing. It’s T’Challa with his sister and aunt. The women point out that the evidence against Storm is impressive. She was accused by a telepath. T’Challa firmly takes Storm’s side. As Storm eavesdrops, she silently recalls he promised he’d always defend her.
T’Challa sister muses she met her in Kenya before she joined the X-Men. She can’t believe what they say about her now. Their aunt points out that his feelings are blinding him. A panther must be guided by his feelings, he replies.
Storm knows he is a man of honor, and in love. She is told that she is given sanctuary, but must not leave Wakanda. Beyond that, a global fugitive warrant is in effect. Storm settles quickly in the life of Wakanda. She falls into the patterns of her days farther north from before she joined the X-Men. She cares for the land and protects the people from the elements that are beyond their control, as well as from those who see themselves as predators. So she helps the Black Panther capture one of his enemies: Killmonger. She prevents crime and settles disputes. She becomes a hero of Wakanda, second only to the Black Panther.
One day, he finds her on the veldt, musing. He tells her the family loves her, his sister adores her and the people worship her. And what does he say? she asks. His heart says what it said when they were young. She reminds him he didn’t listen to his heart. He wasn’t free to make a choice, he replies. He had obligations. She is not the girl she was back then, Ororo muses. He can see the cost of the path she chose etched across her face. It’s just a scar, he tells her. She retorts the one he left was no less deep. Always it seems she is hurt deepest by those she loves most. Not him, he protests. Especially him! She sees it in his eyes! There is something about her he cannot explain and will not trust!
T’Challa takes her hands and tells her she is wrong. A Panther learns to trust his instincts; a man must trust his heart. They kiss.
The Wakandans are happy to learn of the wedding plans. Fury is less so. He calls Everett Ross, asking him to talk sense into T’Challa. He tried, Ross replies. He’s a man in love and Storm has won the hearts of the Wakandan people. This is going to end badly, Fury fears.
On the day of the wedding, Ororo asks her servants to get her wedding robes. As she checks herself in the mirror, Killmonger surprises her and puts a necklace around her neck that prevents her from using her powers. She sinks into his arms.
The Black Panther enters, shouting what has he done! Killmonger taunts that, when T’Challa is dead, she will sit beside him as his queen. Not while he lives! T’Challa vows. Killmonger throws Storm at him, then punches him. The Panther hits back, deciding his mistake was to deal with Killmonger by Avengers rules. He should have made him pay for his treachery with his life!
Pushing him against a pillar, Killmonger retorts his failure to do so is why the time has come for both his life and his lineage to end. He tosses him out of the window, shouting he killed his family and most of the government. He drags him up. T’Challa vows the people will fight him. They are sheep, he is told and Killmonger skewers him.
T’Challa is dead! he shouts. Wakana is his! To the conqueror the spoils! Ororo waits as he steps inside. He has done what he promised? she asks. Killmonger replies T’Challa always knew this day would come between them; he just expected a different ending. He removes the power dampering device and hands her the knife.
He kept her helpless, Storm remarks. He doesn’t take chances, he replies. She was counting on that, she states. She loved T’Challa but stands second to no one! She will not share this throne! Not with the Black Panther and certainly not with his murderer! She stabs him and uses her weather powers to cause an explosion within the castle.
The devastation is immense the entire palace leveled. Finally, Storm is found. Immediately, she asks for the Black Panther. She shouts they were attacked by Killmonger. The workers inform her he is dead and notice she is wearing the royal signet. Storm explains that T’Challa and she exchanged their vows in private. He insisted they stand before the people as equals. When she sees his corpse, she cries. The workers believe her show and shout she should succeed him.
She protested, of course, but not too much and not for long. There was after all so much to do. The nation was in turmoil. The government had been savagely decimated. Storm went to work and now has her answer. Whatever others beyond those borders think of her, she is now a head of state and as such must be treated with respect and courtesy. In time she will have her revenge. Against the Consortium. Against Fury and Xavier and Sabretooth and especially against her “beloved” Kitten.
The giant Panther statue is replaced with a statue of Storm.
That is a dream for tomorrow. For today, she finds it enough to simply be the Queen…