1963-11-28 - Battlefield Audience
Summary: When an intra-Family arms deal goes horrifically wrong, two very different breeds of warrior intervene to contain the situation.
Related: War in the Kitchen Plot
Theme Song: None
cable tchalla 


Since the death of Paul Cavassini, New York City has been a hotbed of violent mob activity as the remaining heads of the Five Families shoot it out to settle scores and secure their futures. Even allies have turned on one another as opportunities are sensed, casting the things that some took for granted - such as protection, information, and a steady flow of income - into doubt.

It's in this climate of brutal uncertainty that associates of the Columbo family find themselves in the VIP room of Bonelli's, an upscale, East Harlem establishment. On the table, amidst a mostly finished meal that's been swept aside sit several crates of badly needed and barely inspected guns and ammo, one of which is missing a few units. On one side of the table, seven members of the Marchesi crew sit staring balefully across the table while the eighth's body cools atop his topped seat.

On the other, eight members of the Camino crew make sure that the Marchesi's hands remain nice and high, their leader smirking as he gestures a smoking .45 towards a heavyset Marchesi with a briefcase at his feet. "Just business, y' understand? Hard times out there; 'd be a hell of a lot easier if we had our guns and your money, y'know?" he explains.

Just a short hallway away, a restaurant full of diners stares at drapery that almost none of them have ever been allowed to breach, wondering whether tonight will be the night when the foreboding noises leaking from beyond it will spill out into the light; some call for their checks, unwilling to wait and see.

Two rooftops over, a tall man wearing an absurd, blinking mockery of a rifle across his back and a wealth of pouches lowers his binoculars with a scowl and unholsters his pistol. "Bodyslide by one," he murmurs.

"Fu— fuck you— !" stammers the Marchesi with the briefcase. "You got any idea the shit you just stepped in? You're dead— every last goddamn one'a— "


The remaining six Marchesi's eyes flick incredulously towards their defiant and dead fellow— and then two of them go for the guns at their backs, screaming and firing wildly. A Camino and a Marchesi both go down as the remaining mobsters scramble for cover or towards the door, some stumbling along the way.

In the dining room, nervous anticipation and morbid curiosity give way to something much worse as more polite diners race to find their servers and others just take the opportunity to flee; others still duck and cover beneath their tables. The darkness behind the drapery can no longer be denied, only escaped or survived.

Just off the hall, behind a locked door, the restaurant's owner sits beneath his desk, counting Camino money in shaking hands as he rocks and prays.


A gunshot heard. Just one. But herb-sharpened senses pick it up despite intervening walls, and the masked figure of Black Panther takes rooftops at a sprint, heading towards that sound. She protects the people wherever she may find them, but Harlem is special to her; it always will be. It has been the one place in this city where she, a lone black woman, could walk the streets unmolested, even respected, despite not being recognized as a head of state. The people here accepted and welcomed her, and though their culture is not that of purely Africa like Wakanda, it is still a place with a richness and texture she feels few other places in this foreign city in a foreign land.

Tracking that gunshot, T'Challa is leaping down from rooftop along the street when another gunshot rings out, and then she is sprinting, diving through the window of the restaurant even as other citizens flee through the door. "Run!" shouts the masked, black-clad figure as she surges forward, leaping from tabletop to open spot of floor, ready to cover any civilian she finds with her own vibranium-mesh-covered body as she tries to make towards the gunfire erupting behind that curtain.

"All of you, run!" the Black Panther shouts again. And then she comes slicing through the curtain …


No-one in the dining area needs to be told twice to run. Even the two couples frantically arguing with a couple of waitresses startle and flee when the masked woman bursts in and begins shouting orders.

Behind the curtain is a hall with three doors: the locked one at roughly the halfway mark with the praying/counting restaurant owner; the swinging one across from it that leads into the kitchen, where cooked food and fear mingle as cookware clatters with increasing loudness; and one flung wide-open at the opposite end, where a couple of Marchesi have just squeezed their way out of the killing field to face the claws of the Black Panther.

"Fu— " "Goddamn— "

A scuffle ensues as the two men strain against one another, each fighting to run in a different direction when shredded drapery reveals the daughter of Wakanda. Given a couple seconds of struggle, they get it together enough for one of them to get his revolver leveled more or less in her direction and squeeze off his last two rounds. Further mobsters still stream towards the door on their heels, as there's nowhere else for them to go but the ground; beyond them, several Marchesis have managed to get the table flipped over for cover and are trying to pick off Caminos ducking behind a plush, circular sofa.

As the shots are fired, the swinging door is nearly torn off its hinges when the steady clattering from the kitchen gives way to a white-haired man with an oversized firearm strapped across his back charging into the hall.


The two shots erupt from the revolver and punch into the black-clad figure emerging from the shredded draperies … and none of that slows her down. The Black Panther is not utterly immune to the punch of those bullets, but not even a twenty-first century body armor vest can rival a vibranium mesh weave for being bulletproof. It's a sting, not even a mule's kick, and she brings down her claws on the gun, slicing it to pieces as her elbow sweeps for the shooter's head.

"Down!" T'Challa shouts, hearing gunshots behind them and seeing their fear. Even as the white-haired man is coming into the hall she drops her hip to her left heel and spins, her right leg sweeping ot at their ankles with herb-heightened strength to knock them flat, making them much less likely to be caught by a stray bullet.

The threat of the white-haired man, clearly intent, well-armed and dangerous, leaves the panther torn: he does not appear to be one of the shooters here — yet — but he could become a very real threat to her. Training would dictate that she neutralize that threat as quickly as possible. But the young Wakandan queen's instincts guide her to a different path as she vaults sideways into a handspring cartwheel through the partially open door to the back, right into the midst of the gunfire there.

Should he follow, Black Panther have to figure out what to do about him later. For now, lives need to be saved!


Both of the men straining in the hall see the Queen of Wakanda surge through those bullets on her way down the hall. As their panic reaches new heights, they get another second of pushing against one another before she's among them, dancing.



Leaving gunmetal, polished wood, and harshly safeguarded men littering the hall, the Panther proceeds into the VIP area, which presently smells of hedonism and death. She is - at least initially - ignored as the two dwindling parties focus on their firefight. Considering that there are only two tables - albeit massive ones - it's a sprawling dining space in its own right with gold-framed portraits and family pictures hanging on the walls; and a chandelier casting light and shards all over the room as it swings madly about. There's a small bar set up in a corner of the room, near the plush, red, bullet-riddled chairs the Caminos are using for cover; the bartender has been huddled behind the wooden bartop since the first shot was fired.

If she's still visible after the first seconds of her arrival, one of the mobsters will eventually spot the mask and try to plug her pistol or machine gun bullets— and once that happens, the others will follow shortly afterwards as their anti-vigilante preservation instincts kick in.



— the two men who T'Challa took care to bring down for their own good catch wholly deliberate bullets as Cable proceeds down the hallway after her. Her handling of the men - swift, efficient, aggressive - doesn't tell him much at all about her relation to the situation as a whole, but it tells him enough about her that he tries to keep an eye trained on her even as he enters a free-fire zone.

Whether or not T'Challa managed to get out of sight, the entrance of a man made like a linebacker with an enormous— thing across his back is enough to trigger at least a couple of the mobsters to peel of from trying to kill each other in favor of the white-haired mutant, who staggers backwards a few steps as several bullets slam into and shallowly penetrate his bodysuit; other shells fall to the ground just a few feet from the guns that fired them, meanwhile.

Others still - two from a Thompson, to be exact - snap into the eyes of the man who fired them as Cable stalks back into the VIP area.


Black Panther does not take cover as she tumbles and vaults into the room; she made a spectacle of herself on purpose, and having the men firing at her means they aren't firing at - and killing - each other. Yet even as the masked vigilante is hailed with bullets, staggering only slightly before advancing on them, the sound of two shots in the hallway reaches her, and her head snaps away from the fight she's in towards that she left behind.

In spite of herself, T'Challa cannot fathom anyone killing two downed, disarmed men who clearly posed no threat to himself or to others. But she's not stupid enough to think that isn't what just happened. Imagine the physicist's thoughts if she knew it was a time traveler doing so!

Black Panther dives towards the tables being used for cover, trying to get herself to the bartender trapped in the corner, when more shots ring out, this time fired at the white-haired man. She cannot miss that many of the bullets never even hit him, but hover in mid-air, nor can she miss that two of them rebound off of nothing into the eyes of one of the shooters. But she completes her move, vaulting over the remaining shooters to get to the bar and the bartender huddled there.

"Stay down." the altered voice of the Wakandan queen growls as she covers his body with her own, trying to figure out which direction to run to get this poor man to safety. The gunmen have chosen their fate; it is the civilians she is trying to save. That and not to die herself from the stalking hunter now in the room.


"Which one'a you pricks hired the superfucks?!""US?! YOU thieving sacks'a shit hadt've done it!""Fuckin' who cares, I'm pluggin' him— " BLAM! "AUK!!"

If there's anything good about the white-haired, trenchcoated killer's appearance, it's that he and his guns are handily taking the attention off of Black Panther; a huge, armed man bearing down on them takes slight precedence over a masked woman who seems to have taken to hiding.

"What's happening no oh god i just work here i'm new please please, plea— ease…" tumbles from the bartender's lips in reply to the Queen, the smartly dressed young man shrinking himself into the farthest corner of his little station and trying to shield himself with his hands— even as she moves to shield him. He flinches, but doesn't struggle when she comes in close and doesn't hurt him; he then allows himself a brief look up through slitted eyes before ducking his head and twisting away, shuddering.

Despite their bickering, Caminos and Marchesis alike are united in their frantic desire to shoot the armed stranger, especially after he puts a huge hole in one of the Caminos' brows. One of them finds himself just about jerked out of cover when his gun flies out of his hand, however, while another tumbles out into the open after a slug rips through the back of a sofa and finds his heart. Others still manage to hit him despite the chaos, and most of their bullets draw blood; one striking his left arm notably not only fails to do so, but ricochets sharply into the chandelier. It helps that he's bearing down on the Marchesis' table with no consideration for his safety beyond eventually hauling himself behind it— which of course, leaves him just a few feet from angry, rattled men with guns.

After a couple seconds of gunfire, screaming, and scuffling, the center of the room becomes marginally safer as Marchesis cease firing across it in favor of trying to take down the mutant among them, and the Caminos in turn make a move to sneak out from behind their cover and get the drop on all of them.

A Marchesi comes flying into the drinks shelved above the bar, screaming, "Shiiiiii— !" until he's cut off by shattering glass and bone.

"aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAH!!!" goes the bartender.


Desperate, T'Challa considers her options as she covers the bartender. She wasn't going to do anything at all, until the mobster is thrown over the bar, threatening the very civilian she's trying to save. At that point, she has no choice.

"I'm going to get you out of here. But you have to run. I promise you, I will do all I can to protect you." the Black Panther's altered voice utters softly into the ear of the cowering bartender. Then she vaults up, clawed gauntlets seizing the mobster by his lapels and hauling him in front of her as she vaults herself up and over the bar, using him as a shield. "Now!" she shouts, as she chargets towards the white-haired gunman, taking the unknown risk of confronting him to give the civilian a chance to flee for his life.


The bartender surges to his feet after a brief delay, stumbles to a brief halt after getting out from behind the bar and getting a glimpse of the carnage, then sprints unevenly from the room, sweat and tears streaming the entire way.

A scream finds its way back into the VIP room when he encounters the bodies in the hallway. It is followed closely by a THUD!, and then more frantic footfalls.

The mobster in Panther's grip is barely conscious; he certainly can't fight back or hold his body weight up as he is carried into battle. He has yet to suffer any bullet wounds, but given the glass embedded in his body and the broken bones, there's precisely zero fortune there.

As the bartender run and the Panther advances, the Caminos find that Cable isn't quite as preoccupied as he may have seemed, nor do the bleeding wounds studding his toreso seem to be bothering him much: one's head is whipped back by a futuristic slug before he can even raise his weapon, while another slides backwards across the room before slamming against a wall, then sliding up it until his head is nearly against the ceiling. This leaves one more to squeeze off two clean rounds at the mutant's left shoulder in the hopes of disarming him— and both ricochet, landing in the walls and leaving the gangster to stare incredulously at his weapon for a beat before just flinging it at Cable, who flinches from the impact, then glowers at the man.

The remaining Marchesis lie at his feet, bleeding, bludgeoned, and barely breathing.

"I appreciate the survival instinct, but— "

He whips towards the charging Panther and the barrel of his weapon - a handgun, more or less, with a strip of flashing lights along the barrel that ends in a digital number display - is brought up to be pressed against her shield's forehead.

"— it's wasted: if the bullets didn't work…" His eyes narrow on the mobster and the woman behind him, his extended left arm providing an unusual amount of resistance should the Panther continue charging; he'll slide and shuffle backwards, just, slowly.

"Looking for a payday?" he asks of the woman he's barely gotten a clean glimpse of for all her acrobatics, tone tense and a little exasperated— especially if he and the Panther are moving. "If so: fifty/fifty split, safe egress from the police; take it or leave it. If not…"


When the resistance proves the Black Panther will be unable to proceed further, she reacts in that very instant, even as he is proclaiming her a mercenary here to kill for money, to launch the limp form of the hapless mobster at the gunman and drop once more, in a move that is both swift and powerful - and clearly well-practiced - to pull another of those legsweeps. It may not work, but there's a lot of force behind it, powered by incredible strength and a lot of speed.

Assuming the gunman is staggered at all, the Panther rolls to her side and then vaults up towards the doorway, planting herself between the door and the gunman, claws extended and the Black Panther very much on display, crouched and ready to fight.

That altered voice, with a clear accent - one few would recognize, but with clean diction and an incredibly erudite word choice - speaks without shouting, as there is no further need. "I want no money, butcher. The Black Panther is here to save lives. Sadly, now, far fewer than I intended. You even murdered unarmed, helpless men who posed no further threat to anyone." There is scorn and contempt in that tone, as the gunman's actions remind her of the butchers who have tried again and again to penetrate Wakanda and threaten her people.


Cable's size doesn't protect him from going down. If anything, the terrible weight across his back just pulls him that much harder, faster; the man from tomorrow his the ground with a metallic CLANG! and the mobster who tried to throw his gun at him takes advantage of this opportunity to— run behind the bar, because there's nowhere else to go.

Even when the Black Panther declares her intentions, he is not about to trust a mask his boss didn't hire— and even then…

Cable rolls, then flips up onto his feet, weapon raised and features locked to 'scowl'. "Same," he bites off as the man suspended against the wall slipping a couple inches lower, "only I'm approaching the job a little more selectively: not a lot of benefit to— "


"— letting these men— " Cable's brow knits further as curiously bleeds into his annoyance.

— did she say—

"— continue— to poison this city— " Beat.

"'The Black Panther'?" he lowly repeats, head canting to the side. The blue of his right eye briefly intensifies as its cybernetics scan the heroine's regal form. News footage of the Queen and other members of Act-F pops up in his field of vision after another beat.

The gun slowly lowers.


The Black Panther tenses as the white-haired killer's gun levels towards her, but for now she chooses not to flinch, trusting in her vibranium to save her from the death suffered by so many already She considers slicing the gun to ribbons, but as this foe is not yet attacking her, she wants to give everyone else a chance to run. Eating up time by letting him talk is her best option for that.

And then he stops. And T'Challa simply inclines her head briefly, her eyes hidden behind those lenses in her mask. "Yes. The Black Panther." She has even inspired the founding of a political movement in the city. "And what might I call you, butcher of the unarmed?" The advanced technology he has displayed worries her; could this be one of the alien killers? She doesn't think so, but she's not yet sure what to think. So she remains poised on the knife's edge, waiting the maximum amount of time until an opening appears.

And then the gun lowers. And T'Challa cannot help being confused. "You slaughter these men, and yet you lower your weapon now? Is it merely because they are already dead?"


"The name's Cable, and you aren't the enemy," he succinctly states while taking a slow step towards the briefcase, and then another. "This isn't honorable combat, either: it's another stupid, pointless battle in a stupid, pointless gang war. Anyone who leaves here today and doesn't end up with the police is going to have a high likelihood of finding themselves in another restaurant, or club, or warehouse, or dock somewhere, either pulling something similar to this, or having it pulled on them. The ones who don't, who manage to wait it out - survive - they'll go back to business as usual. Which I'm fairly sure means selling drugs to and stealing from people, for the most part."

Taking another step, he holds up his right palm to let her see that it's empty. His gun arm never quite goes parallel, but it is still - for now - firmly pointed away from the Panther or anyone else.

"A fraction might repent, at some point; maybe it'll be before they've had a chance to hurt anyone further, maybe it won't be. Either way: these are not men who need protecting; they're men who need protecting from."

His foot taps the briefcase, which he spares a brisk glance for.

"All that having been said, if you're still eager to take responsibility for them… by all means." He gestures around at the men behind the table with him and the one near the bar. "Dead footsoldiers'll slow this thing down some, but they're ultimately fodder: not my primary concern, here."


There's a snort of derision from the Panther. "I did not come here to save them. But stopping them, without becoming them, saves more lives and leaves less damage." she offers, advancing slowly after him, so that there is no real gap as he starts to pay attention to the briefcase. "The authorities in this land have made it clear they prefer their criminals captured, tried, and imprisoned, not murdered whatever the justice of the sentence."

That, if Cable has been paying attention, was the first report of the vigilante Black Panther in New York City: the papers connected her with the Spider-Man, and said that the two of them murdered a French Algerian businessman in Hell's Kitchen. An interesting point no one followed up on was the fact that said 'businessman' was in fact a mercenary tied to multiple questionable acts and even noted atrocities in conflicts throughout the African continent. Eventually, Spider-Man was cleared, but all mention of tha story seems to have ceased.

Almost as if someone very high up commanded that it stop.

Two months later, there's a Black Panther on the stage, introduced by President Kennedy to the world minutes before his murder as one of the Act-F team assigned to protect the world from alien threats. And then seen leaping to the Presidential limo, covering the wounded President with her own body as they sped to the hospital.

"You want the money." the Panther comments, simply. She has figured it out, what has to be in the briefcase. And she's watching. Waiting. Rather derisive, that tone. Mercenary.


"Wishful thinking," Cable lowly replies without derision. "You can't prove that they won't go on to ruin more lives anymore than I could prove the opposite, no matter how much either of us may believe we're right. Only difference is that my guess is based on their natures, their histories, while I'm guessing that yours stems from optimism, and maybe some belief in the essential goodness humanity. Which is admirable, but not something that I'm willing to put too much faith in, personally."

Newspaper clippings pop up alongside the video, but the biased coverage means that he only has part of the story. The businessman is a cipher to him.

"Ridding the world of organized crime is not my priority," he then notes, squinting slightly as he studies the media floating before him, "but as long as I'm among them - and as long as they continue to do whatever they like despite the threat of jail - I'm not going to lose any sleep over giving the ones I don't meet something to think about before they commit their next crime. I'm not 'becoming' anything— I am a soldier who happens to have an awful lot of well-dressed monsters and - yeah - briefcases full of money between him and his objectives."

He then hesitates for a tick before lowering his weapon all the way and relaxing, slightly.

"I— I— I'm just a community activist, I— I'm a businessman, just— I— " the man pressed to the wall stammers, drawing a brief, glowing glare.

"Not an ideal introduction," Cable then admits beneath his breath.


"I am not wishing for anything. It has nothing to do with my opinions. They aren't my laws. They aren't my citizens." Her citizens? The Black Panther does not explain, and has no way of knowing what this man may see in the privacy of his own mind; she is no telepath.

T'Challa says nothing more to the shooter. When the cowering mobster speaks up, she turns to him and just shakes her head. "The civilians are safe, now." Those lensed eyes focus back on Cable. "I am going to ask you to leave. I will not detain you for the authorities. I suspect that would result in only more injuries, and there has been enough bloodshed. But I am asking you to go, now. Go, and leave the briefcase. You are done here, this night." She steps to the side, opening the way to the door, the hallway, and the curtained exit or the kitchen. And she waits.


"They aren't mine, either, Your Majesty."

The gun goes into its holster and his eyes follow the Panther's mention to the case itself, momentarily.

"And I have yet to find a way to protect either without breaking a few." A hand disappears beneath the jacket, briefly, before coming up with card-shaped object made of liquid crystal and glass. Its upper left corner is slightly darker than the largely see-through object, but it's still translucent.

"Thank you for handling the bartender and the rest of the civilians," he sincerely says while flicking the card with just enough force to bear it to her hands— should she reach for it, anyway. "You may want to consider what to do with the owner, before the police arrive. He's locked up in the other room off the hall and waiting it out, because this one" he jerks his thumb at the man suspended against the wall "paid him off so he'd have a 'safe' place to ambush the rest of them. But I'm sure that someone's gotten to a payphone about this by now. Bodyslide by one."

Those last three words result in golden light budding seemingly from within his body, rapidly expanding until he's consumed by it.

"We're going to need to speak again," he states(or warns?) as the light obscures him. It's the last thing he says before it collapses into a bright point that then fades inevitably into nothingness, leaving an empty space and a terrible mess.

The suspended mobster tumbles to the ground with a thud and a low noise of pain.


Black Panther doesn't react visibly to the use of the title, but internally she certainly reacts. Few in the entire world outside Wakanda and its Embassies would know to name her such, and this is the first time she has ever seen or heard of a man like this. And yet he knows. There is concern, there, but not panic. Not yet. She does catch the card, though she is conflicted as to whether or not she will keep it. After all, what reason has she to trust this man, or an item he intends her to have?

And then he is gone. T'Challa says nothing more. She lets him disappear, and then walks around the bar, eyeing the last survivor of the gunmen. "You may consider yourself under 'arrest', if you wish. Or you may run away now. But if you do run, I will not follow to protect you." Simply that, and nothing more. She walks out the hallway and slices open the door to the office using her claws around the knob and lock.

Black Panther stands in the open doorway, claws gleaming. "The money you were given, you will divide amongst your employees, after paying the medical bills of anyone who was injured because of this. You will not profit from ensconcing murderers here, endangering everyone else." She does not ask. She commands. The point is clear, and disobedience will clearly have consequences.

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