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M'Baku's Lament

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M’Baku stood transfixed as he watched men and women, warriors and family, slowly dissipated into ash before his very eyes. There was a silence across the battlefield. Such silence only came in times of complete and total defeat. Yet… they won, hadn’t they? All of Wakanda came to beat back the beasts and the aliens. A brother nearby began to fall, and M’Baku instinctively moved to catch him… and he vanished into a cloud of ash before M’Baku could touch him.

He stared down at his hands.

They were… shaking. He was afraid? What… what was happening?

T’challa.

He blinked and found his body reacted before his brain fully comprehended. He was running -- no -- pelting across the now very sparse field toward the trees. M’Baku remembered seeing a bunch of those Avengers running that way as he fought back the invaders.

T’challa was there.

M’Baku jumped over brush and fallen trees, hurrying to… he didn’t know where.

“T-t-t’challa!” He shouted. His voice waved, coming out ragged. He was heaving, his heart pounded harshly against his chest. He could hear it in his ears… he could feel it everywhere. “T’challa!”

He came to a stop, thumping footsteps on soft earth.

Okoye stood still, her eyes closed and head down as if she were in prayer. Now was not the time for prayer, didn’t she see that? Where was her king as she stood there doing nothing.

M’Baku rushed to her, bringing her to face him as he grasped both of her shoulders with strong hands. “Where is he? Where is T’challa?” His eyes flashed from her face, to the America fellow. The woman… Black Spider? She stood behind him looking sick. The man was knelt down beside a gun. The gun the other American had... the guest T’challa kept. Ash was in a pile at the man’s feet.

And the talking raccoon stared down at his own pile of ash.

The fear never left, but now it came bubbling to the surface once more. Worry and panic struck him like a spear to the chest. He couldn’t wait for Okoye to recover from whatever this was. He needed to know. He had to know.

“Where is he? Okoye?! Where is T’challa?! Answer me!” He shook her, his voice broke...

She shook her head so subtly M’Baku barely caught it.

He looked over her head and saw a pile of black ash unattended.

It was scattered.

M’Baku slowly let go of Okoye, stepping around her. It felt like he was moving in slow-motion. He couldn’t move faster. His legs felt like lead as he approached it. He fell to his knees, gently reaching down and grasping at the ash. It fell through his fingers.

It took minutes to realise he was screaming. His eyes were wide in shock and disbelief, his hands shook palms up as if he held T’challa in his arms. Tears were falling hard and fast down his face. M’Baku wailed, his hands grasping at his head. “T’challa!” He screamed over and over again. Shaking his head as if he were possessed. “T’CHALLA!”

M’Baku bent completely forward, crying loudly. “No, no, no, no, no…”

How long had he been like that? Minutes? Hours? Days? He would stay there for decades, until he faded away into nothing.

A hand gently touched his back.

M’Baku was brought back to the present a little. His screams had become silent unintelligable murmurings, and through them he could hear Okoye close to him whispering a prayer. Something soothing for him -- and for her.

T’challa was gone.

And there was nothing to bury.