178/The Wakandan Situation

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The Wakandan Situation
Date of Scene: 28 February 2020
Location: Wakandan Embassy
Synopsis: T'Challa talks to Steve and Natasha on Wakanda and American Politics
Cast of Characters: T'Challa, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff

T'Challa has posed:
While the Avengers Mansion may be as a secure a facility as the Wakandan Embassy, some meetings, official meetings, desvere the embassy's treatment. This is one of those meetings. Having sent invitations to Steve and Natasha to visit, T'Challa made sure the staff set the meeting room for the pair.

And they did. A breakfast repast has been set up, and the rich smell of a chocolate, earth, and spice as Wakandan coffee is on the brew and ready to be poured. The room itself has every appearance of the standard meeting room. Plain walls, table. Monitor. A few Wakandan decorations. T'Challa is already in the room, a cup of coffee in his hands as he is looking over his files.

Steve Rogers has posed:
JARVIS relayed the message to both Avengers in his usual brusque, precise manner not too long ago. Given their propensity to be ready to react at the drop of a hat, both Steve and Natasha arrive at the Embassy in one of the many sleek cars stashed away in the mansion's garage.

Steve, at least, is dressed in a black button-down and beige slacks, loafers rather than combat boots, all in a nod towards the propriety and respect towards the Wakandan Embassy and its occupants. Greeted by staff and greeting in turn, the pair is escorted to the meeting room. The scents of breakfast on the air reach them before they arrive.

"Smell good," the Captain idly comments towards Natasha on a glance. "Your highness," he says more loudly towards T'Challa in particular. "Good to see you again."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha steps out of the car in a black blazer, skirt and nylons over a scarlet red shirt, with short heeled black shoes. Impractical, but gotta look the part. She's not really used to being *invited* to embassies - at least without the inviter being deeply confused about who she is - so this is novel!
    She's polite enough to passing staff, but has no particular interest in them aside from passing threat assessment until she arrives in T'challa's office, giving a bit of a subtle courtsey and putting on a gentle smile. "King T'challa." she says at the same time as Steve's 'your highness', and lets him do the proper greeting.

T'Challa has posed:
"Please, my friend, it's T'Challa. At least when we are alone. You both look well." Black Panther offers with a wry smile as he goes over to shake Steve's hand and then Natasha, "And you look ready to travel. Please, make yourself comfortable. There are a few things I wish to discuss and get your thoughts on." he offers to the pair as he carries his coffee over to a spot in the room. Once he's settled, his hand moves over what at first appears to be blank space.

Then a holographic pad forms beneath his fingers, and with a sweep of his hand, the room's contours shift and move, bringing them to a virtual version of the fields of southern Wakanda and then the hospital, where they join the meeting room there. "They are here, W'Kelkek." he offers as he steps aside. The older man, dressed in his doctor's garb offers a Wakandan salute of both arms crossed over his chest to the three. "Your Majesty, distinguished guests. As you may know, the Wakandan relief camp for Genosha has been on steady run since the attack on the 13th and we came on line on the 15th. It is now the 28th... and has been two days since there have been any survivors spotted in country." he offers grimly. "I have asked the King when we should bring down operations, and he wanted to dicuss it with the both of you."

With that, T'Challa sighs, and looks between the pair. "We had prepared for 25,000 refugees for a month. As of today, we have treated how many, doctor?"

The holographic doctor on the other side of the world answers with no lag.

"536. 80 of those were brought in by the Green Lantern."

Steve Rogers has posed:
Steve returns the handshake with the usual polite pressure and poise. "Certainly don't mind a cup of coffee." His outer winter coat, slung over his forearm, is moved to the arm of one of the chairs tucked to the table with its spread of food and drink alike. Once the Captain does have a steaming mug of the dark brew (black, no sugar, just like in the trenches) does he presume to turn his full attention to what T'Challa does.

The room shifts in a flawless virtual mirroring of a meeting room thousands of miles away. Steve glances around in quiet appreciation for the peerless technology on display, but otherwise makes no comment. The good doctor's greeting is returned with a deep nod of the Captain's head. He then listens, brows knitted, lips slowly thinning.

"I remember fielding that report," Steve says quietly of the Lantern's attempt to enact aid. "It might seem like a small number, but to be able to aid any survivors after that..." His voice falls out. Shaking his head, Steve looks between Natasha and T'Challa. "The Howling Commandos and I spent weeks hunting for pockets of survivors in the war. Even after it seemed useless, we kept at it. Found handfuls here and there. The winter would've gotten to 'em if we hadn't. If it isn't going to strain your resources, your highness, consider at least another week if not two. We've given those 536 people hope. Why stop now?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha shakes T'challa's hand gently and responds to his travel comment with a single soft closed-mouth chuckle "Hm." She adds a soft, "Thank you." at the offer, but makes no motion towards the offered goods. Tempting, but Natasha has hangups about food she hasn't seen prepared, for... various reasons.
    Natasha's brow raises at the display of holographic technology, betraying that much of her impressed reaction, at least, but keeping the rest of it under lock as usual.
    As the pair of Wakandian's speak, Natasha slowly crosses her arms, letting out a slow breath through her nose. The situation is... hard to swallow in a lot of ways. Just the numbers being thrown around are too staggering to process.
    Natasha watches Steve quietly until he finishes speaking, then turns to T'Challa. "You're not alone, at any rate." She says in a muted, professional voice, "SHIELD's devoting resources to the rescue efforts, and is working towards identifying the perpetrators." Albeit one may be a higher priority than the other, but she's not at liberty to say one way or the other, "... Seems to be plenty of metahumans working pro-bono, which is... worrisome, but not worthless. And Wanda was off-site, which is..." Natasha chews on a variety of words and settles on, "Lucky. In some ways. She seems to be trying to manage the whole crisis herself. I'd like to keep as much of that off of her as possible."
    Is that concern for an ally, or concern for the mental fragility of a very powerful woman whose full power hasn't been quantified?
    It's Natasha, so it's probably complicated.

T'Challa has posed:
536 out of 16 million. Dishartening is too soft a word, really.

"I am in agreement that it could be opened longer. But I am prepared to dismiss the Doctors without Borders and other aid, if it looks to be maintained as small of an operation as this panned out to be." he explains as he nods to Natasha. "It is not a matter of strain or stress."

It's something else. Something that the other two people in this room are keen on. "Thank you Doctor. Maintain operations for now, and I will get back to you with a decision." Salutes changed, the screens derez and move them into the heart of the palace and the exceptional view of Birnin Zara.

"Already, there are questions on the nature of how Wakanda was able to provide the response it has. After all, I believe that one response to our announcement was 'will be sharing the fields with the goats?'. That pulls an amused smile to his features, though it borders on a smirk.

"I have been weighing the thought on my mind. Since the Alien Alliance. Of Wakanda's place on the world's stage. As you both know, right now, our place at the table is very minor. And to be honest, I don't want to be at that table. France. Russia. Britian. America. Taking a place there? Can you imagine what that would do should the American President realize that Wakanda could easily buy out the whole debt of the United States?" he asks the pair.

"I have an interview request from Lois Lane. On Wakanda. Should I let this be Wakanda's coming out party?"

Steve Rogers has posed:
Steve nods agreement before he adds, on the tail of Natasha's response, "Wanda's a strong woman, but Natasha's right. It's not all on her shoulders to carry. We're here in every capacity we can manage to help." He's heartened to hear that operations will continue. Even only one more pocket of refugees found and rescued is a strike against the very heart of the entire disaster.

More of his coffee disappears in a silent slurp as the room itself shifts once more. Steve's eyes return to T'Challa himself and linger upon the King. It's one of those token Rogersian gazes: intense without being too personal, weighing, kind if keen. He glances briefly over at Natasha before letting out a quiet sigh.

"Publicity's more something 've been used to for a long time. I'd trust Miss Lane to be tactful about your decision if you decide to let the world know. Only more compassionate writer I know out there is Clark Kent, same paper," he notes. "You're not wrong though: letting the world know's going to shift a few paradigms, though not necessarily for the worst. Might be a good time right now. World can use any positive it can get." His gaze then slides to Natasha thoughtfully.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha blinks a lot more than is strictly necessary as T'Challa speaks and she realizes where he's going, which as about as much that escapes her control to hint at the fact that she is completely reeling right now.
    It's probably overstating things to say she now has a say in directing the course of global politics, but to have even this much input with no warning and no opportunity to report im for orders is... a lot. Whose best interests should she support here? Wakanda's? America's? The world's?
    Because she's pretty sure there are different answers involved in each.
    Natasha feels a bit like she'll be going rogue no matter what answer she gives. As Steve finishes, Natasha shakes her head slowly and says, "I'm... sorry Steve, I don't agree." She says, and looks to T'Challa, speaking in a diplomatic tone, "... Wakanda has been a great ally to us; and it's been able to do it without endangering itself, or even changing itself from a system that's worked for ages. If you were to go public now, every opportunist on the planet is going to come swarming in. Could you do more if you were public? Long term? Probably. Could you do it while fighting off a million vultures whispering in a million different ears?" Natasha sighs. "That's not really a question I'd like to see answered." She lets a moment of silence pass, and shakes her head, "That's my opinion."

T'Challa has posed:
T'Challa nods as he takes in both of their answers, and the King chuckles. "It seems that we're at a wash, then, and it's still on me. I'm not sure how to measure my response to what Miss Lane want to know." he responds, though he gives Natasha a reassuring smile. "Should you ever find yourself without SHIELD, I think you will want to know there will always be a place with you among the Dora Malaje." That's said teasingly, as he folds his hands around his cup.

"You both know the truth. That's why I asked you. Honestly. My concern is Tony." he finally comes to it. "I know he is not above using leverage. And he knows of Wakanda. The real Wakanda. Part of me is wondering if I should step ahead of the bus before it runs Wakanda over in the effort to prove that he knows better as a Presidential candidate."

And he lays that out on the table for the two to consider.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha breathes out a short "Ha." in response to the offer - sincere or otherwise - and puts on a soft smile, "I'd be honored." She says, and leaves it at that. She doesn't think she'd be a good fit, but never say never in the spy business.
    Natasha's expression falls a bit, nodding thoughtfully and echoing "Stark..." in a slightly rueful tone. She thinks on this for a moment and says, "... Stark is... a lot of things." She very nearly puts a period at the end of 'a lot', but resists. "... but I don't believe he's the type to double cross you. Not on purpose. Not if he thinks you're on his side." She realizes she's adding a lot of qualifiers to this and shakes her head, getting to a point, "I don't think I'd take his advice on Wakanda's future, but... if you made him understand what you want, I think..." Natasha sighs, "... I think he'd *try* to keep his mouth shut." A rueful look comes to her face and says, "I wish I could offer you something more concrete but... these are the people you're stuck dealing with."

T'Challa has posed:
"I'm not on Stark's side in this." T'Challa admits finally, honestly as he sets aside his cup to turn to face Natasha, turning his attention from the skyline to the agent of SHIELD, and he lets out his breath as his arms settle around his midsection as he considers the options. "I was being honest when I said I would be above the politics of this election. Because we do not know who will be running against Tony Stark yet." he explains. "...and it is truly not my place to have opinion. It is why I released the statement I did on the eleection, after the way Princess Diana was ambushed for a statement."

"Not to mention, it is not as if being King and Protector of Wakanda does not come without it's own issues. There has been an upswing in demand of my people for a democratic government. That perhaps the Black Panther should not be King. That perhaps, not even a King. Or at least, only a King as a figurehead."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "I don't know how long you'll have to worry about Stark." She admits softly. "If he doesn't sink his own ship, two or three of his girlfriends probably will." Harsh, but not as harsh as what's she's willing to admit. She figures his opponent would have to be... apocalyptic for him to seem like he has more than money and bluster to offer."
    Natasha's lips form a tight line as she listens thoughtfully to the issues developing in Wakanda - filing them away for later, naturally - and she shakes her head. "... I wish I knew how to help, but... once a collective people get an idea in their heads, it's hard to shake it." She'd know. It was her job to smother plenty of ideas before they could grow, in the old days. People don't really need to know that, though. With a gentle effort at humor, Natasha offers: "Best case scenario, maybe a good look at one of our election years will dissuade them. But apart from that..."

T'Challa has posed:
"I'm not sure if this is one of those 'I want help' things, or more... I need someone to just listen to me for once." comes the quiet admission and T'Challa slumps into his chair in thought. "Without it being about digging for secrets or deciding if they might be wanting to feel me out to be the next Queen of Wakanda." There's a smirk at that. "In this case, I believe I'm slightly safe on both counts."

"Does SHIELD have any leads on who caused this? Or why one of the sentinels was... larger than the others, and bore a caticature of Magneto upon it?" he asks finally.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha gives a sympathetic smile which... may or may not be hiding a twinge of guilt on one those counts. There are certain parts of her brain she can't easily turn off.
    She folds her hands in front of her and nods once, quietly saying, "Of course, I apologise."
    In regards to SHIELD's intel, Natasha shakes her head. "Not that they've told me. The strike happened quickly, and communications were out long enough that trails were cooling down even without the... scale, and the rescue operations needed. And the Sentinel..." Natasha wrinkles her nose for a split second, "... is an ongoing effort. I'm not involved. but I'd guess that no one wants to poke it while there may still be survivors."

T'Challa has posed:
"How did something that large. That many. How did they manage to get there and attack without any warning, among that many mutants." T'Challa sighs and lets out his breath as he gives her a little smile in response. "I don't know if it was something that was within Genosha already, or..." he shakes his head. "It's all conjecture at this point. But I will make you this offer."

"I know that SHIELD can't be in all the places all of the time. But if you need to use Wakanda to assist in the Genosha investigation, I will make it available." he offers to her. "Just no shopping trips with the girls into the city." It's said teasingly, but she knows the underlying tone. No sharing the secret of the cities.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's eyebrows rise slowly as she takes in the subtle magnitude of what he's offering, a bemused smile coming to her face at T'Challa's... 'joke', and she answers, "Of course," and makes a point of adding, "I... appreciate that very much, King T'Challa." Appreciated in a very literal sense, but what's being offered and what's being asked and expected... with a bit of formal addressment to show she takes it very seriously.
    So help her god, if Natasha just became the SHIELD liason to Wakanda on top of the Avengers, she will never have a minute to herself again.
    "I'll let my superiors know as soon as I can, I'm sure we'll be in touch shortly." Through someone, or through her, one way or another.

T'Challa has posed:
"Sounds good." T'Challa responds with a chuckle. "But you can shop if you find the need. And check in on my little sister, make sure she hasn't burned the place down." Because introducing Natasha to Shuri won't end up in disaster, right? There's a smile, before he decides to change gears.

"And you. I know this must weigh heavy on you." On SHIELD et al. "...if you ever want to talk, spar, chat... whatever..." he shrugs. "Wakanda holds you in high regard, Natasha Romanova. As do I."

And he's going to leave it at that.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    That's a mistake.
    That's the thought that comes unbidden to Natasha's head and causes her eyes to flutter briefly, but otherwise her expression barely changes as she keeps it under wraps, like most everything else she thinks in all but the most selective company. Assets and liabilities. Entrances and detonation points. Those are the filters her perception puts on her every thought as she struggles to just feel flattered or warmed like she ought to. But she can affect those emotions as she smiles and says - with enough hesitation to seem somewhat flustered - "I'm honored. And I will." while the gears turn unbidden.