1963-11-21 - Heart Shaped Legal Hole
Summary: Team Lawful Good teams up to rescue a mutant in immigration limbo.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: Angelique Kidjo - Malaika
tchalla jennifer 

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With the ratcheting concerns over mutants, there have been further incidents in and around Mutant Town, with citizens harmed by those hyped up on fear, or just arrogant stupidity. Most would never understand why that would bring out the likes of Black Panther to defend them, but she is here, stalking the streets and the rooftops, keeping an eye out for trouble. She has been spotted quite a few times, so it's not hard for others to know she must be around.

It doesn't help that there's an undercover Wakandan Embassy car down the block with a mobile phone, its two occupants remaining in the area as near their queen as they can without following her directly. After the incident at the Stark building, they aren't taking as many chances, nor giving her quite the wide berth they had been. Nevertheless, that phone provides an anchor of sorts for those who are looking for the Queen of Wakanda. A call to the Embassy would yield a transfer to that car, if the individual were on an approved list.

Queen T'Challa's expert International Law attorney would be one of those on that short list. One of the very few.


Mutants get the short end of the stick in the papers and society. Though with talk about aliens floating around, maybe it's all for the better. That embassy from another dimension that took over the Ed McMahon show certainly puts the girl who can turn green or a boy with spines into perspective. At least they are relatively human and know human laws?
That leaves Jennifer in perilous straits. She represents metahumans, she is one under the thinnest cover, and she still sometimes shows up in the spotlight. Her clients on the other hand do not. So while the city tries to decide about a pro-human or pro-mutant or pro-nothing stance, she gets to be proactive. That means visiting her clients anyways. Even clients sometimes fearful for their lives. So from a house in Mutant-Town comes a simple call. It's really that simple.

It boils down to a client in trouble: "She was born in Kenya but Kenya refuses to take her in. Something about an uprising. Her florakinesis is harmless. She can grow plants from nothing. Put her in a field, it's perpetually fertile. Is there anything you can do for her?"


The call reaches one of the two in the car. Once they know who it is and that someone needs to speak with the Queen, one of them holds the phone while the other seeks out T'Challa, up to and including bouncing about on rooftops until she is located and encouraged to come to the phone.

What a bother.

Eventually, however, the unmasked but still suited Queen holds the phone, listening to Jennifer as she speaks. "It would be best, Miss Walters, if I were to speak with her directly. There are questions you might find difficult to translate." T'Challa will need to ask after the other woman's tribal origins and progenesis. "I can come to you."

Half an hour later, at most - likely much sooner - the Black Panther arrives at the address in question, heralded by a knock at the door. Because that's not weird at all. Right?


The house in question barely qualifies as a house. Maybe once it was single family but now it seems to be subdivided into tiny apartments barely worth the cost. The largest of them is technically a one bedroom but would be a studio anywhere in the city; three people occupy the same space, practically tripping over one another, and the only way to know whose it is lies in the window boxes still blossoming with petunias in spite of the weather. It may be freezing, but those pink blossoms are altogether too jaunty.

Jen is squeezed at the bottom of the stairs because there is simply nowhere else private to do business. Or drink sweet tea and eat a cookie, as it happens, being harangued about 'demagoguery' and 'them aliens' by two elderly ladies. They don't look off, but the young woman with closely cropped, spiraling hair petting a sickly potted fern most definitely must be the one given the fern is weakly petting her back. It's actually quite charming.

The door opens… and there is the Black Panther in all her formal suitage. Suiting? The older women look up, assessing her like the elders in society have a right to do. Jen? She brushes a crumb off her suit and sticks out her hand with a smile. "Hello! Ambetsa, this is the friend I was telling you about."

The fern turns. The woman tips her head. Ambetsa gives a little nod.


T'Challa - bemasked as she is - bows her head slightly towards the elders. "< Greetings, Elder Sisters. I beg your pardon and leave to enter your home. I come in peace, and promise to go in peace, if you will have me. >" the masked, suited figure offers quite formally to the women, awaiting their judgement without hurry before turning towards Jennifer and her plant-petting client.

"Good evening, Ambetsa." T'Challa offers, still masked. So tall as she is - though not as tall as Jennifer when green - she stays just inside the door, giving as much room to everyone else as possible. She crouches down to face the Kenyan woman. "< I had a friend from Kenya. She taught me her language when I was younger. >" T'Challa comments, as she opens and lifts the mask, exposing her nearly bald head and her feminine, African features.

"< Can you tell me your tribes of origin? From whence your blood rivers flow? >"


"Be at peace," answers the older of the two, which amounts to a rather smoky voice for someone so clearly short. The elderly women nod and chuff among themselves, then go down the hallway to a ground floor room that smells quite heavily of coriander. The door slips open and clicks shut in a matter of minutes, long after their guests in a younger generation have departed upon their way.

Jen squeezes up against the wall, leaving room for Ambetsa to go up or down the stairs. This is not exactly easy given the house was probably built around 1915, for people infinitely shorter than healthily fed 1950s and 60s kids. Especially not Jen's other self, which prevents her from becoming too alarming. The attorney smiles and leaves them to it; she doesn't know a lick of any African tongue except fragments of Arabic, which isn't precisely African. Or, arguably, every word under the sun for coffee.R
Ambetsa speaks Luhya, and she practically leaps into the Bantu dialect without a pause. If Swahili is needed, it's equally as easy for her to shift into it. The woman might be thirty, tops, but her voice is girlish and her mannerisms equally as enthusiastic. "«I bid you welcome to our house. I am Ambetsa of the Abisukha, blessed guardians of the Kakamega Forest. Ikhongo Murwi show favour upon your tribe in these sorrowful days.»"


The Wakandan Queen speaks to Ambetsa in Luhya, though she could also do Swahili. "< And the blessings of the Panther upon you and yours, daughter of the Kakamega. >" T'Challa offers, with one of those rare ghost smiles of hers, there one second and gone the next, but how beautiful it was while it lasted!

"< Our daughter law-giver says that you need a safe place, and that your homeland law-keepers are refusing you passage. You wish to return to the Continent? >" T'Challa questions. Yes, she just referred to Jennifer as 'daughter law-giver'; it's the closest that tongue has to 'lady lawyer'.


Ambetsa keeps petting her fern, the drooping fronds desperate to grow a little brighter with some additional love. She cannot supply the sunshine, but she can perk up the dying foliage quite a bit. "«Thank you.»" Her smile is a touch tight, but she tries to be polite. The petting stills for a moment, and then the greening up accelerates enough to be noticeable without an instantaneous transformation. Given the Kakamega Forest is one of the great rainforests left in western Africa, perhaps this connection is less than surprising.

Her gaze flicks to Jennifer, who gives the woman an encouraging nod if nothing else. Some things transcend language. Ambetsa says, "«I do not like it here. This week, an angry crowd in Harlem said anyone with a gods-gift should be made to go away. They are not even animals or humans, but beings from the sky that will hurt them.»" Her lip curls, and she huffs. "«I did not own many things in Isukha. Maybe I had only three dresses and a small hut with my grandmother, but we were always welcome. I am scared and sad. But I cannot go to Abeingo lands. I am told that the people in Nairobi say it is not safe, they will not give me a document to travel. So there is no way I can go. Here I am a stranger. There my soil will not grow me again.»" Clearly, that's leaving her rather disgruntled.


T'Challa listens attentively. Then she reaches out gently to take the hands of the other woman in her own gloved grasp. "< The choice is yours, Daughter of the Kokamego. If you wish it, the Panther shall provide you with the papers of travel and documents, and send you home through the Panther's territory. The Kokamego lies outside our territory; we will be unable to guarantee your safety. But we would get you to our borders and give you what you need to attempt the journey. Or, if you wish it, if you can accept it, you would be welcomed within the tribes of the Panther, honored and treasured for the gifts blessed upon you. >" And she would be protected in Wakanda, as she could not be in her homeland. It is the best offer T'Challa has. "The decision is yours. You will have our support, whatever choice you make."


Ambetsa's brown eyes shine with something akin to hope, and she looks over her shoulder again. "This is not a joke? Can this happen?" she asks Jen.

The attorney has the gist of the English, if nothing else. "I have no reason to believe she would not keep her word. She says it will be done, then you can be on a boat or a plane as soon as you are ready." Sadly, no caravan of dolphins pulling a pearl chariot over the Atlantic, but Wakanda's landlocked anyways.

The Luhya woman almost slumps, her shoulders dropping. "«My grandmother has gone to the forest. I have my people there but they have not seen me in many years. They sent me to this country for a better education. I do not want to return in shame.»" Her fern droops and she pats it, the plant noticeably perkier otherwise. "«Do the gods-gifted face threats in your tribes? Are there not those who are angry that we are given what they do not have? No one seems to understand there is a price for these things. We are not blessed without a duty or an expectation. Ikhongo Murwi does not want me to let the Abisukha go hungry or the forest be sick. But to see the angry men and women with their signs, I am almost… almost dissolute!»"

Her eyes widen, round and dark. "«I know they are jealous and scared.»"


"Wakanda has never feared the different. We embrace those who are gifted." T'Challa explains. "Those with a gift for the magicks are taught, and given safety to learn and expand their minds and their talents. Those born with other gifts are just as welcome. Even we, the Panther, are different from others of the tribes, and we are honored for our potential and our service and sacrifice." Is that enough?

T'Challa eyes Jennifer and smiles. "Thank you for letting me know of this woman and her needs."


Ambetsa rubs her cheek with her fingers, leaving a faint streak of dirt on her rich nutmeg skin. Then she sighs. "«I will miss the grandmothers. They give me good medicine and wisdom. I won't live where I am afraid they come in one night and throw me from my home. I can try your tribe's land and see how easily I can grow into it. Maybe my people have a place. Maybe they don't but it is closer to Kenya than New York is.»" A nod is given tentatively at first. "«Thank you then. I am decided.»"

Jen leans lightly against the wall. "Of course, there's no thanks needed. Her predicament is, sadly, not unusual these past few weeks. Ever since the aliens in Times Square, the uptick in unhappy voices coming out of the woodwork has been fairly steep. Someone better be tracking this. It speaks to a bad mood in the public."


T'Challa nods. "Very well. Do you want to come now? Or should I come back tomorrow, when you can get your things together and say your goodbyes to the grandmothers?" It's that simple. She'll take the woman to the Embassy, have her issued a passport and visa, and then flown to Wakanda.

The Panther Queen nods to Jennifer, understanding. "I believe I know of someone who is watching, paying attention. But they are rather distracted right at the moment, as someone tried to kill their Director." And T'Challa was right in the middle of it all. Crazy, right?


"«Tomorrow. I ought to pack. And tell M-Town I'm going, my job here isn't very much but I owe it to do it properly.»" Ambetsa looks relatively dazed and has to kickstart her thoughts by tearing her gaze away from the Wakandan monarch to the wall, like that boots her mind into action. "«Tomorrow afternoon. I think that will be enough. I came with a suitcase. I can leave with a suitcase and a good coat. Imagine, warmth in November!»" Of course, a florakinetic mutant would appreciate sunshine and warm soil in winter.

Jen squeezes past Ambetsa, probably anticipating the mutant fleeing to start throwing her blouses and skirts into a battered old leather satchel or such. "I am hopeful that is the case. They need to know there's no easy answer and the fear breeds dangerous reactions. I am bound a little by responding to the press, and the media only listens to much. Reading doesn't stop people from throwing things or shouting they were unfairly treated, usually."

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