4648/The Vibranium Black Market

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The Vibranium Black Market
Date of Scene: 08 January 2021
Location: Docks somewhere in NYC
Synopsis: While in pursuit of some smuggled vibranium, Black Panther encounters Free Lancer, an unknown who has already come upon the would-be thieves.
Cast of Characters: Millicent Keller, T'Challa

Millicent Keller has posed:
    They called themselves the "Sure thang gang" because they're fucking morons, six men who's greatest criminal accomplishments prior had been a few armed robberies and an attempted kidnapping. Still even a blind dog finds a bone given enough time and a little luck, and these hoods were no different. One had heard about a shipment being smuggled, and without really contemplating the sort've heat they'd get knocking over smuggled Vibranium (and without a buyer) they struck. Not that they'd struck well of course, in the shoot out between the gang and the Smugglers they'd already lost one and another had taken an injection of high velocity lead to the stomach. It was his incoherent screams which filled the van now, amidst hushed arguments over what to do next.

    Beyond driving their ratty panel van with expired plates and a busted tail light back to their lair, that is. These idiots weren't thinking about the police now though, not with all that screaming. They sure as hell weren't thinking about the consequences of trying to kidnap the daughter of a rich investment banker, or wondering about that woman in a suit who'd put a stop to it. Never the less the Van skids to a stop in an empty parkinglot just off the docks as a full blown argument begins to erupt over what to do about their injured comrade.

    It's one more mistake in a very long list of them just tonight, because they fail to take note of the figure who steps into their headlights. Kite shield held low in one arm, sword held casually against her shoulder with the other. She waits for a few moments, before bringing that sword down to bang the flat against the shield with a rather loud -CLANG-CLANG-CLANG- that's sufficient to bring the fools in the van to silence. Her stance widening as she slowly brings that shield up and extends that sword behind her. Chin lifting somewhat as she gives a shout.
    "Take up arms you bandits, it's time to earn the honor of my blade! Come all, so I can break your mother's hearts!"

T'Challa has posed:
This would probably not go down in the annals of history as one of T'Challa's proudest days. The smuggling of vibranium is a seemingly never-ending problem that rears its ugly head from time to time. Wakanda's vast amount of wealth and riches stems directly from the sale of that special ore, much more than the front presented of diamonds and other resources alone.

It has spread around the world to be used in small amounts, but this has been highly controlled by the nation it comes from. Still, some ambitious residents of the African nation have sought their own personal wealth by attempting to sell it on the black market. It happens, and when it does, the Black Panther is ready to deal with it. When a pound of vibranium alone can sell for close to $5 million, it is vital to track it in every way possible.

It is a good thing the case, which was locked tight, had a hidden tracker built in. This was something T'Challa had put in place himself to make it easier to trace smaller quantities of the metal. The thieves would find opening the case itself to be a more difficult thing than they imagined, but that was secondary to simply getting it back.

He didn't have to go far, either. A hideout a few blocks from the area he'd gone to, and he used the city's rooftops to obtain a better view of what he'd be dealing with. It could be a military-level force, or it could be some random nobodies.

The roll of the dice seems to come up with the latter this time around. All right. Fine. Intimidation alone would probably do it, but one never knows what will happen when someone is in a panic.

Eyes narrow behind the Panther mask, for there is now another before the van, whacking a sword against a shield and challenging the ones inside. The parking lot by the docks, with a few warehouses overlooking it, now has the Black Panther there with a hand briefly covering the front of that mask. "You could have let Shuri handle this, you know," he tells himself chidingly, but maybe that was never going to be the case. He /always/ wants a look at someone trying to steal vibranium.

With a forward roll off the roof of the building, he lands with all the silent grace of his namesake, rising to stride toward the van and whoever it is before it, the costume dark as night with a few accents to it.

Millicent Keller has posed:
    A shot rings out from inside the van, and yeah that sort've settles things. The soft lead finding the edge of a shoulder plate and skidding off into the warehouse beyond. There isn't so much as a blink, until the Free Lancer gets into the swing of things. She explodes fourth from her dead stop, closing the distance entirely too fast for any mere mortal. Another string of shots ringing out as she Slips down the driver side of the van, and pivots on a heel.
    That sword lunges foreward through the door just below the window, ploughing through the thin sheet metal and driving into the driver's ribcage just below his armpit. Thats when the screaming starts, and the crooks come spilling out of the van. Some still wearing their ski masks, and all armed with a motley collection of shotguns and pistols. None of whom turn to rescue their comrade bleeding out in the back of the van, or the man screaming in the driver seat. Not so much as a glance spared, when she withdraws that sword and terminates his cries with a quick jab right below the ear.

T'Challa has posed:
Black Panther's expression draws taut behind the mask. He has arrived in the midst of an encounter that has already begun. This means he doesn't know the entire situation, can only react to what happens.

Once the gunshot rings out, the attack from the person in the armor is swift and lethal. It leaves an immediately sour taste in the mouth of the King, but there's nothing to be done for the one who was run through with the blade. Right now, there are three others fleeing the van and headed right in his direction.

His head tilts slightly to one side, as though sizing them up, and one of them draws a handgun and fires it at his chest. At least he's shooting at the right spot, if not the head itself, but the impact is absorbed with little more than a twitch, a purple glow rising and fading from the point of contact.

"You should not be doing this," is all he says in response, his accent notably foreign. "Lay down your weapons." The other two have theirs out as well.

Millicent Keller has posed:
    She withdraws that sword with a twist, and an audible crack before circling around the back of the van. She gives that blade a shake to clear at least some of the gore free, and swings her visor around to locate her fleeing prey. She catches sight of the Panther as he makes his entrance, and immediately grinds to a halt. It takes a full moment to switch gears of course, before she starts forward again. Approaching all but casually, as she sweeps around to their right to help herd the remainder towards the King.

    "Throw down your arms and live you currs, obey his majesty and live!"Once again that shield comes up, and that sword slowly transitions back into the lowguard oncemore. Visor fixed firmly on the Panther, as if awaiting his orders. Instinct built up over a few hundred years, is rather difficult to shake of course. After all this time, here she is flushing "Game" for another royal.

T'Challa has posed:
Whatever can be seen of their faces, there is fear in the lowlifes. This is far beyond anything they've dealt with, well past whatever they expected to see tonight. Two already dead, a third possibly headed that way, and the rest about to face a decision that could determine how many more of them meet with a similar fate.

They see no bad result from the gunshot that struck Black Panther, and he does not immediately launch into an attack. He does, however, extend a hand toward the woman, as if to indicate for her to hold. "There need be no more killing tonight," he states, as if he holds more concern for the three remaining thugs than anyone else. "I will tell you this now. Nothing you have can harm me. It would be foolish to continue."

One of them, with the shotgun, doesn't take the hint. "F-fuck you, man! I know who you are! You're the Black Cat!" And he fires, blasting T'Challa with a large amount of buckshot. It actually forces him back a few feet, with multiple points of purplish glows again showing in his suit before they fade, now more of a dull glow spreading from there.

"Close, but incorrect." He moves in swiftly now, low and out of the way of the gun, then he jabs an equally quick kick with pinpoint accuracy at one of his hands, hitting it hard enough that he can't hold the weapon. A chop follows to his other shoulder, hitting a pressure point to incapacitate the limb, and the guy doesn't look like he knows what hit him.

The Wakandan monarch says, with a touch of impatience, "I am the Black Panther, and I will not repeat myself another time. Surrender." They certainly look like that display has made an impression on them, now.

Millicent Keller has posed:
    With the King busy with one, the Lancer rushes in to join in. A sprinting leap and she's right in close, a single downward swing of that shield enough to sweep one handgun away and send the crook wearing it to the ground. The remaining crook is, well an idiot of course. He actually turns to try and get that gun trained on the Panther, despite what little good it did the first time. In doing so he's missed just how close the Lancer's gotten and, yeah that's not a brilliant move.

    That sword flashes under his arm as she sweeps in close, lifting his arm at the shoulder joint as she kicks his knees out from behind him. He hits the pavement with a dull grunt, that blade point parked precisely against his throat. "You dare raise a hand to the king who just spared your life, you filthy whelp?"That pistol is dropped immediately, which is about the only smart thing he's done all evening. All the same that visor swivels around, leveling on the King oncemore. Those pale yellow eyes glowing ever so faintly as they await direction.

T'Challa has posed:
Just after she's put the man down and has the business end of the sword at his neck, she might feel a gloved hand at her shoulder. Claws retract back into the fingertips, an indication Black Panther considers any potential fighting to be finished. "Be at ease. I may be a King, but I am not their King. They do not seem to know any better." The sense of the contact there is enough that she could tell he is seeking to get her to remove the point of the sword from the guy.

"You killed one of them. Was he really a threat to you?" he now asks her, while ensuring the men cannot surprise them with anything else. That means checking them for other weapons, knives, and so on, and removing them. "They have something that belongs to Wakanda. That is why I am here."

Millicent Keller has posed:
    "As my code demands, I announced myself and gave pause to allow them to surrender. He willingly took arms against me, so I gave him a warrior's death."And slowly that blade is lowered, though she does use his shoulder to wipe that blade clean before finally stepping away. "I apologize if my conduct was unpleasant or inconvient your majesty, had I known they were yours to hunt I'd have stayed my sword entirely."And finally she gives that sword a rolling flourish, before letting both sword and shield "melt" into a simple white spike with a loop on the end.

    "Of course your Majesty, I'd have been happy to fetch it for you had I known."Theres a faint little nod at that, content to merely stand and watch over the poor fools. "Your subjects or not, the lesser should yeild to their betters. They are most fortunate you have shown them mercy, and still I hear no cries of thanks."

T'Challa has posed:
With the mask over Black Panther's face, it is impossible for one to see an expression, only the cemented one the mask itself presents. "These are not warriors. These are boys playing the games of men, perhaps driven to it by the conditions they live in. They are criminals, but they are perhaps also victims. Killing them? That is something that should be held as a last resort," says the King, clear that while he does not seem unwilling to kill, he does seem unwilling to go directly to that point first.

"I do not know your code, but you take the appearance of a knight and I assume you know chivalry." The apologies for potentially inconveniencing him suggest such, and a dip of his head indicates acceptance of that much, though there is a curious tilt that follows when the weapon and shield shift. "Interesting."

He adds, "I will retrieve it myself, if you would bind them. The fact remains they will have their time with the police. I do not require their thanks, only what is mine." He doesn't need any of the Wakandan technology to know the case is in the van, which he strides in the direction of. It gives him a few more seconds to think about things.

Millicent Keller has posed:
    "Aye your majesty, I am spellbound to obey a chivalric code. Though not one the church approved, of course."And well when asked to bind, she gets to it immediately. Taking a knee and sourcing a length of rope from her belt, before tying wrists and ankles without complaint. "Once arms are taken up, I am obligated to act in accordance with my vow. Their lives become forfeit, unless they throw down their arms and beg mercy. I am out of the respect your crown demands, pushing the letter of that quite far. These men would have fallen under my sword otherwise."

    Slowly the Lancer rises, examining a now unreasonably short length of remaining rope before casting it aside. "As you wish your Majesty, I am happy to satisfy my obligation to obey."Casually letting that dull yellow glow swing down to her gauntlet, before casually wiping the blood onto her short cape. Nevermind the fine misting left elsewhere. "I'm afraid I have very little leeway in many of these matters, but would posit that Age does not differentiate legitimate combatants. I took up the spear when I was seven, I slaid my first before I turned ten. Actions above all, define the nature of a person."

T'Challa has posed:
"And who do your vows serve?" asks Black Panther, once he's returned with the case that holds the vibranium in question. "Who do you swear your fealty and loyalty to?" This seems an important enough matter to him to ask about, likely to help guide what he may say or do next.

Looking the captives over, he taps something at a wrist, looking like a small band of beads, which gets the police en route to the area after he says, "This is Black Panther of the Avengers. I am sending you a location where there have been gunshots and theft, and evidence of a smuggling ring. There have been fatalities. I will be here when you arrive."

To her he adds, "I do not believe I have your name, but I am afraid your experiences are not much like those of the ones here. I will tell the authorities you acted in self defense, which is true, but while I agree with you about actions often defining a man's nature, I disagree that it is the main factor. I hold no sympathy for the actions of these men, but I wonder if they could have been led along a better path."

Millicent Keller has posed:
    "I was the knight-attendant of Her Grace the lady of the stars, of the Fey Winter court."She lets that, just sort've hang out there for a moment. "With shame It was decreed that I and my peers were no longer of service, and as per my vow I have no lord. I am obliged to work by contract, A sell sword. I claim no moniker for myself, but I am often called the Free Lancer Sire."Atomic bombs potentially, casually dropped.

    "With respect your majesty, I do not lead men down better paths. I am the dead end, it is to others to steer them away from me. My obligations are not negotiable."Still she takes a knee and bows her head all the same. "It was a pleasure to fight beside Royalty once more, and a delight to fight beside a Royal so deserving of his station."

T'Challa has posed:
What T'Challa hears, not all of it he likes. "You are akin to the ronin, a samurai without a master, a lord," he states with patience, if not some level of caution. There is something more at play here with what she did with the sword and shield, which are no normal sword and shield. The mention of the Fey Winter Court is something he will need to look into further. Later, not now.

"This means the code you follow is currently your own. You determine that you are their end. Be cautious, for there are many here who do not agree with death as an early result, if at all. I am unafraid of doing what must be done, but it is not something I treat lightly. Now, please stop kneeling. I am not your King." He says this in a way that manages to balance a cordial and lightly casual nature against a stern and serious one. "I do not require you to bend the knee, and I will not tell you how you must act. I simply warn you as I have, that you ought to be mindful of your tactics here. Others with good hearts may mistake you for a greater threat."

Millicent Keller has posed:
    And so she rises, nodding mutely "I thank your majesty for his wise council, but must affirm that I am obliged to obey."She glances back towards the docks, and the growing police sirens. "Ronin I believe failed their masters, I did not. As far as I know my Mistress is alive and well, and I would return to her service were it legal."She takes a single step back, waiting to be dismissed. "The night grows short all the same your majesty, and I suspect we both prefer to work under cover of darkness."

T'Challa has posed:
Black Panther dips his head toward the lady knight, keeping his tone neutral. "Well met in that case, Free Lancer. I am sure this is not the last time our paths will cross." What's left unsaid is what the others on the team will make of this once he's reported it, and whether those encounters are on the same side or might lead to something more problematic.

For now, he has what he came here for, the ones involved are subdued one way or another, a few will live through it, perhaps one more as he checks the man's wounds, and soon he will be giving his report to the police.