“So, the Great and Powerful King sent you to change my mind?” The voice boomed throughout the room.
Looking around the room filled with bones and animal hide, Okoye didn't know what to think of the large man sitting right in front of her.
“I am one of his greatest counsels, and I'm also his General. Why wouldn't he send me?”
“Well, my dear, I fear you've answered your own question. You are his General. What kind of king would send his best and brightest to carry out such a lowly task?”
“I don't expect you to understand as you think yourself superior to us anyway. I don't have to explain myself, but I thought it obvious.” She snarkily replied.
“Not to me.” He shot back.
“I'm the only one who feels what you feel.”
“Somehow, I doubt that.”
“Don't be so sure. We both adhere to and respect tradition.” Okoye explained. “The difference between you and I is that I see technology as a way of maintaining our tradition.”
“That's what word of mouth is for. The Jabari and I have kept ourselves abreast of the happenings of the kingdom, all without the use of technology.” He said with a flourish of his left hand towards the capital of Wakanda.
“Word of mouth can only go so far; word of mouth has a tendency of losing its reach as time progresses. Technology helps us to preserve our ways of tradition.”
M’Baku was a hard man to read, but Okoye could tell she gave him something to think about.
“Let's say I happened to agree with you. However, you and I both know we're opening Wakanda up to be destroyed if we allow those… people to infiltrate our borders.” He declared with a disgusted sneer of his lip.
“You're absolutely right. We opened up our borders to Killmonger, and it almost leveled the entire country.” She admitted.
“Now that I see that you understand my perspective, what is your purpose here?”
“My purpose is to get you to see a different side to the story. If we determine who gets to come in and how long they can stay, we can control the outcome.”
“I'm listening.” He said with a sniff before looking down at his nails out of faux boredom.
Okoye wasn't one to be discouraged. She simply smiled at his show of power.
“If we can vet the people who come in and monitor their movements, it's a win-win all around.”
“But doesn't that go against your moral code?”
“No.” Okoye said with a shrug. “Technically, they're not Wakandan citizens so it shouldn't matter.”
“Are you sure the king knows what you're doing? Your plan seems like a complete 180 from what your king proposes.”
“Well, it was a plan Nakia and I came up with, so I'm sure T’Challa will come around eventually.”
“The main objective is to ensure these people don't get so comfortable that they wish to live among us and alongside us.” M’Baku warned. “I've given a lot of leeway with respect to your technology but we cannot have colonizers live among us, even the clueless well-meaning ones like the one Nakia brought along with her.”
“Oh … him.” Okoye replied in disgust. “Something tells me that most Americans like him find a way to insert themselves into things that don’t concern them like Wakanda, for instance.”
M’Baku simply stared at her as he was suddenly overcome with even more respect for the woman. She saved his life, but even that wasn’t enough to fully sell him on the idea of trusting her or her Dora Milaje. But now he was starting to believe he was wrong about the competent General.
“I’m glad we agree on something, but you still haven't told me how this is a good idea.” He replied breaking their silence.
“You didn't let me finish, but the reasoning is pretty simple - it’s not up to us. We just have to accept it for right now.” She said before cutting her eyes back towards him. “Can we count on your love for Wakanda to dissuade you from ruining this project?”
“Who said anything about ruining your little project?”
“You don’t have to say anything. You like chaos, and you’re probably the most dramatic person I have ever met in my entire life. That would be right up your alley.” She said as she squinted at him suspiciously.
“Well, you never know.” M’Baku stated as he looked at his men still quietly lining the walls on either side of him ready to defend him. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?”
“M’Baku, I thought we already established your love for flair and dramatics. You and I both know you’re going to remain vigilant up here and not ruin our plans unless you need to interject.” Okoye said with a smirk.
"Fine. I'll agree with your plan for now, but know that I'm doing it for Wakanda. Not for your King." He said.
"I knew you would see things my way." She said with a smile.
“Well, if you knew I would agree to this, why did you come up here in the first place?” He asked.
“Oh, I just wanted to see this place. Shuri told me a story about the Barking Man and his fondness for animal fur that I had to see it for myself.” Okoye joked.
“If there’s nothing more for you to say, General, then I think it’s time you take your leave.” He said.
“It was a pleasure doing business with you, M’Baku. Just know that we’re watching you.” She said as she turned her back towards him and began walking out of the room.
“Likewise. And if you listen closely enough from Shuri’s lab, you may even hear my barking.” He shot back before gifting her with a large, booming laugh.
Okoye couldn’t help the smile that stretched across her face at his words. She was lucky that he couldn’t see her face or she’d never live it down.
M’Baku was a character, that’s for sure. It would be interesting to see how the tenuous alliance between he and T’Challa would pan out. She just hoped he kept his word about not sabotaging their outreach program, but something inside of her told her he could be trusted. She just had to listen to her gut feeling, because it's never steered her wrong.
But she couldn’t lie and say she wasn’t looking forward to seeing more of the dramatic man with the larger than life personality, because she definitely was.
She was wholly prepared for her life to get a lot more interesting with him in it.