The demoralized Avengers, or what was left of them, anyways, gathered in the Wakandan council chambers.
The world was in shambles. Half of the population had vanished in a blink of an eye. The collateral damage- planes that crashed when pilots disappeared, trains derailing when engineers were lost, subways and LRT crashing when no one was left manning the wheel, people who died on the operating table when their surgeons vanished - numbered in the millions.
Thanos had not discriminated. Governments had lost their leaders, council members, army leaders and forces. In several countries, rebel forces were forming to fill the void left behind. Most nations had been under military law since the event, as the survivors desperately tried to make sense of it all.
Steve Rogers passed a hand over his eyes. He hoped, rather uncharitably, that that thrice damned Thaddeus Ross was among the dusted.
The way his luck had been holding, however, Ross would probably be found holding the reins.
"Steve..." Natasha touched his arm. "Shuri...Queen Shuri...wants to see us."
Steve nodded, and joined the rest of the group in front of the monitors.
"Captain Rogers." Shuri acknowledged his presence.
"Majesty." Steve responded.
"We've been talking about how to get word out about...Thanos...to the rest of the world." Shuri started. "People are beginning to connect the dots between the attacks in New York and in Wakanda. There are questions beginning to be asked."
"The damage...the world has never seen anything like this before, Steve." Bruce said quietly. "And we're only scratching the surface of who we've lost." He looked over at Natasha. "Where do we even start?"
"Have we heard from Tony and his group? Strange? That kid?"
Rocket Raccoon shook his head.
"I've boosted up Wakandan sensors and communications, but nothing." He sighed. "I can't even reach the Milano at this point, and if any of them were left, they'd be looking for me and...Groot." His voice broke.
"Okay." Steve thought for a moment. "Rhodes, you and Banner, you're probably our best representatives. The rest of us are still wanted. Depending on who they took..."
"Wakanda remains a refuge for you, Captain." said Shuri firmly. "My brother wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
"Thank you, Majesty, but that may not be possible for long." Steve sighed. "Once word gets out we lost, that we couldn't stop Thanos...we'll be the logical scapegoats."
"What are we going to do, Steve?" asked Natasha. "We can't fix this. We don't even know where Thanos went."
"Thor is tracking him." responded Steve. "As for us, we continue to do what we can, where we can. Protect. Try to rebuild."
"But where do we even start?" asked Bruce.
"I may have an answer for you," called Nakia, entering the room. She looked at the Avengers challengingly.
"Nakia..." warned Shuri.
"We did everything we could to stop him." Steve started.
"And T'Challa is still dead, Rogers."
"You're not being fair, Nakia." continued Shuri.
Natasha cut them all off.
"Let's play the blame game another day. What do you have?"
Nakia tapped on the tablet she held. Video of an urban landscape popped up on the screen.
"This is Chicago, 48 hours ago. Shortly after the initial attacks here.”
Panic and chaos filled the screen. A middle aged man, wearing a cape floated serenely in the middle of the street.
Rhodes’ eyes narrowed.
"I know that guy. From somewhere."
He lifted his hands and the road cracked upwards under his palms, rolling out towards the police cars encircling him.
As people fled the scene, pouring out of office buildings, a jet came into view.
Now it was Natasha who leaned forward.
"Is that...a Zephyr?"
She looked over at Steve.
A deep voice came over the speaker.
"Officers on the ground, first responders, this is S.H.I.E.L.D. We're here to help."
Steve`s eyebrows raised.
"SHIELD? Thought we killed it.”
Rhodes shook his head. “Nah. They resurrected it after Sokavia, was meant to deal with the new enhanced people popping up.” He snapped his fingers. “Damn me if that isn’t General Glenn Talbot. But I thought he had been shot by that Inhuman. Big SHIELD supporter, but noone’s seen him for ages.”
The team watched as the calm voice relayed instructions to first responders, then figures darted out into the buildings, coordinating rescues.
Nakia looked up from her tablet. ”Voiceprints match that to an Agent Alphonso Mackenzie. He’s wanted by your FBI almost as much as you, Captain.”
“Not surprised.” muttered Banner.
Then one final figure emerged from the jet. She turned and said, no yelled, something at the jet.
“Can you get that, Nakia?” Shuri asked as the woman put on a burst of enhanced speed and charged at Talbot.
Nakia’s brows furrowed. “Fly back..and..” she shook her head. “Missed that. The rest is clear. ‘We fought for you. We fought each other for you.’”
“That’s not ominous...” commented Natasha, as the woman helped the man to his feet.
“I’ve pulled up a list of Agent Mackenzie’s associates. That’s Agent Daisy Johnson...Quake.” noted Nakia.
Suddenly, Talbot lifted off with Quake. They watched as the two fell back to Earth, Talbot brutally body slamming Quake into the pavement, disappearing from sight into the crater that formed. Suddenly, Talbot shot up into the air, and the bruised Quake pulled herself from the crater, and leaned heavily against an overturned van.
”Don’t wait for him to come down.” said Nakia, turning off the video. “He doesn’t. Wakandan satellites tracked his body hurtling into outer space.”
“She sure would been handy here.” he observed.
Steve nodded. “If we had known about her, she would’ve. Nakia, is that it?”
Shuri stared pointedly at her friend.
”From a fighting standpoint, yes. The Zephyr returns, collecting Quake and her team. It looked as if they may have lost one of theirs, they were carrying a body. Then it takes off again.”
Nakia put her tablet down.
”And that is the last we have been able to find of Quake, Mackenzie, or their team.” She swallowed. “They may have been dusted.”
”How about the Zephyr?” asked Shuri.
”It has cloaking, but it has a unique energy field. Even we haven’t seen it before, my Queen.”
Shuri’s eyebrows shot up.
“Let me see!” she demanded.
As she scrolled through the data, Natasha made her way over to Steve.
”You wanted a place to start. Maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning.”
”SHIELD had the resources to fund a global network.” Natasha persisted. “We see who’s in charge, find out what their goals are, then we can decide whether to continue.”
As Steve hesitated, she finished, “We’re going to need them, Rogers. At least make sure they’re not HYDRA.”
”Fine. But I walk if it’s the same old Fury.”
”It’s not.” commented Bruce. “We have word from Clint, he’s securing his family.” He paused. “Fury and Hill were confirmed among the dusted.”
Natasha leaned against the wall, and passed her hand over her eyes.
”Are you sure?” she asked quietly.
“Confirmed by traffic cam.”
Shuri joined them.
”Nakia is right. This is new, even for us. Captain, Natasha, Wakanda would be in your debt if you were to check this out.”
”See Steve....you even have a quest given to you by a beautiful Queen.” grinned Rhodes.
Shuri glared at him.
“Sorry, Majesty. Tony would’ve said it.”
”He would have said worse.” sighed Steve. “Do you have the jet’s last coordinates?”
Nakia frowned. “The last ones are from a day ago. Then it disappears completely from Earth.”
She handed over the tablet.
”How do you feel about Tahiti?”