Life Unexpected

                                                     Banner By Taibhrigh

Title: Life Unexpected
Fandoms: Black Panther, Alien vs Predator,
Characters/Pairings: Ababuo/Sebastian da Rosa, Okoye/Nakia, Ghost and Darkness Clan members, Medjai Clan members, Vampire Council members, Original Characters
Ratings: PG-15
Word Count: 6,396
Summary: After being kidnapped from her family, Ababuo never expected to be a parent again, but while traveling through North Africa carrying messages to her old Clan, something happened to change that expectation.
Author’s Note: A huge THANK YOU to BJ Jones for allowing me to play in her ‘verse over at Sylum Clan. THANK YOU to Taibhrigh for the terrific banner art for my Sylum stories.
Disclaimer: Except for the work noted as being originally mine, all works of fiction and characters thereof belong to their original creators/studios/producers/publishers. No money is being earned, and they are used without permission. I apologize for any typos I missed.

Story is the song of a person’s life. We need to sing, and we need someone to hear the singing. Story told, and story heard.Story written. Story read creates the web of life in words.                                   …Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher

~ School, Wakanda Royal Palace,Spring 2017 ~

“In the year 1770, the noonday sun beat down upon my village as our warriors showed their lion spirits against the white men who would steal us from our home and put us in chains. We were many, but the men with chains brandished powerful weapons that threw pieces of lead through flesh and bone against our spears and arrows.” Twenty sets of dark eyes fixated on the Dora Milaje General. “Many brave warriors, both men, and women, fought the bad men to allow their families a chance to flee into the jungle. Fear ran through our ranks as our wall of fighters fell to the slavers’ guns and swords. When it seemed the battle was lost, there was a flash of black and silver on horseback we believed to be the Irunmole come to take their vengeance on the white men. That Olodumare answered our prayers for help and protection. The last of the slavers died under the flash of silver swords as the last of my family died from their wounds. When the faces of our saviors were made known …” General Okoye paused for effect. “Before us stood the female warrior we knew only as Umkhosi Wachaza Umfazi (Warrior Marked Woman). There were many stories of a woman who bore warrior scars and wielded her swords with a speed only known to the Gods, but none had believed them true.”

“What happened after all the bad men were dead, General?”

“It turned out that the warrior woman was a Hunter from The Ghost and Darkness Clan. They were traveling through the lands of my tribe on their way to the lands of The Medjai in Egypt. She and the members of her party helped us care for our wounded and dead. They were generous with their provisions to people they did not know. They found the boats the men had used to come up the river from where their ships were anchored in the bay. We liberated their supplies and boats burning what was not fit for use. I have to say I was not impressed with their hard bread and salted meat but could see the necessity as they traveled great distances across the oceans.”

Okoye smiled as she felt the humor coming across the Bond she shared with her Mate. As much as she wanted to leave her audience to greet her Mate, she couldn’t disappoint the children.Their lunch break would soon be over, and she would be free to find Nakia, who had been on a mission for King T’Challa.

“As my family had perished in the battle, I opened my home to the warriors until they were ready to continue their journey. I learned the name of our benefactress was Ababuo. She thanked me for the hospitality of my home, and complimented my courage in battle, Ababuo asked about my plans now that I was without the protection of family. I was only a short time into adulthood according to the traditions of my tribe, but I had no wish to place my life in the hands of the headsman. He coveted me and my sisters, but my father refused to accept a bride price for he was a hard-handed man and a bully. I was offered a place in their party to travel, learn, and become whatever I wished. Overwhelmed with the ability to become more than a junior wife to the head of our tribe, I agreed and asked my new mentor to help me negotiate with the men of the tribe to receive a fair price for my parents’ herds. That was the beginning of my journey to become a General of the Dora Milaje.”

“Tell us more about Umkhosi Wachaza Umfazi (Warrior Marked Woman).”The children demanded.The General smiled at their enthusiasm. Vampires were an open secret among those working at the palace since they were descendants of the original Chosen Ones.

“Perhaps another day. This General must return to her duties and I am sure there are classes to which you need to return.”

“Yes, General Oboye.” They chorused.

Oboye smiled as they dutifully trooped back inside their classrooms. Perhaps it was time she called her Sire and invited Ababuo and her Mate, Sebastian da Rosa, to visit Wakanda. It had been many turns of the year since they had spent time together.

~*~*~*~

Leaving her sated Mate sleeping, Okoye moved to the office in their palace apartment. Nakia’s mission had left her hyper-vigilant and exhausted, so Okoye had made sure a Chosen One was available when she finished debriefing the King and his advisors. Clean and fed, Okoye proved to her Mate how much she had missed her the three months she had moved among the neighboring tribes collecting information and establishing a network for the continued flow of information. Office door closed to keep from waking Nakia, she made good on her thought to contact her Sire. As she pulled Skype up on her computer, Okoye hoped Ababuo was at the Reserve, and not traveling with her Mate.

“Okoye, it is good to see your beautiful face.” Dilios greeted her with an expansive smile. “What can we at the Reserve do for you today, General?”

Arching an eyebrow at the Spartan, Okoye was leery of his effusive greeting. “I did not think you would be at the Reserve … I wish to speak with my Sire.”

“Of course. She happens to have returned a short time ago from patrol. Give me a moment to call their bungalow.” She waited patiently while the archivist made his call. “While we are waiting …” Dilios started innocently. Okoye glared across their connection. “You and your brethren in Wakanda are among those which I don’t have very many of your stories. I would consider it a huge favor if you would share your story and encourage your Mate and king to do the same.” Dilios’ smiled innocently.

“I am surprised you did not show up on my doorstep yourself, Old Man.” Okoye teased.

“I would, but Robert fears that it would be many years before he would see me again.”

She blessed him with one of her wide smiles at the thought of the grumpy gamekeeper. “My duties come first, but I will give your request consideration.”

“Thank you, General.I will be returning to Geneva tomorrow, so you can send your correspondence in care of The Council.” Dilios winked as he relinquished his seat to Ababuo.

~*~*~*~

“Alafia, omo ti okanmi (Peace, Childe of my heart). I see from the Archivist’s giddy expression you have promised to fulfill an item on his wish list.” Ababuo smiled as she settled in front of the computer.

“Iya (Mother), I promised to consider giving him my story.”

“There are few things that make him happier than a story from an umgcini webali(storyteller) as skilled as yourself.”

A hearty laugh came from Okoye. “Just an old soldier telling tales around the fire after a long day of training and dealing with bureaucratic idiots.”

“I thought Wakanda had banned idiots.” Ababuo teased her Childe.

“A few slipped through the cracks, but I did not call to talk about Dilios’ obsession with Vampire histories. I realized how long it has been since we have spent time together,and I wanted to extend an invitation to you and Sebastian while you are in Africa.”

Ababuo looked surprised as she recalled it had been several years since her last visit to the kingdom. Modern travel often bypassed old friends and allies, as well as kept you out of the range of your enemies. “Too true. With the many happenings in Italy and America, there has been little time for relaxation. As we seem to be in a lull, I believe now would be an excellent time for Sebastian and myself to take a vacation. I will email you with our travel details.”

“Nakia and I look forward to your arrival.”

“Ibukun, ilera, oore ni ile rẹ, Ombinrin mi (Blessings on your house, Childe of mine).”

Feeling more settled, Okoye, headed for the master suite in hopes Nakia might be done napping.

~*~*~*~

Two weeks later, a single-engine bush plane landed at the Wakandan airport. The pilot would be returning to Nairobi the next morning, but for now,palace staff grabbed everyone’s luggage while Nakia greeted Ababuo and Sebastian. Hugs and kisses exchanged, Nakia walked between her in-laws as they headed for the palace’s guest rooms.

“I have two weeks downtime until I rejoin the Dora Milaje.” Nakia explained as she directed Ababuo and Sebastian to their suite.

“I am certain that Okoye will appreciate having her right hand back at her side.”

A chuckle escaped from the younger Vampire. “I believe we will have a bit of an adjustment period as the General, who is now plagued by Aje, becomes used to the return of my voice to her planning sessions.”

Ababuo turned to her Mate as Sebastian joined Nakia laughing over their warrior Mates reactions to them adding their opinions into their best laid plans.

“We Mates must stick together when it comes to being the voice of reason to those who would leap before they look.” Sebastian gave his glaring Mate a kiss on the temple.“ Right, honey?” He wisely stepped out of his wife’s reach as he shed his jacket.

“Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to practice with Okoye or Nakia while we are here. You are becoming complacent sparring with me all the time.” Ababuo smirked as her husband groaned at the suggestion.

Laughing, Nakia told them dinner was at six and to treat the residential area of the palace as though they were home. As the door snapped shut, Ababuo turned to Sebastian with a leer on her beautiful face.

“Whatever are we going to do until dinner with no schedules or interruptions?” She strutted toward the bed, divesting herself of bits of clothing as she stalked her Mate.

Stuttering at the mixture of love and lust coming across their bond, Sebastian began backing toward the bedroom. “Uh … I am sure something will come to mind.” Blue eyes went wide as his Hunter wife pulled a slim blade from he didn’t know where. “Nonono … This is one of my favorite outfits.”

“Then I suggest if you want it to remain intact that it disappear from your beautiful body, Husband.”

Sebastian da Rosa was a highly intelligent man, so rapidly left his favorite vest, shirt, and pants on the highly polished tile floor of their bedroom. He barely kicked off his pants when the lithe body of his wife was shoving him backward on the bed as she captured his mouth in a deep, wet kiss. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend their time until dinner, and then he couldn’t think at all.

~*~*~*~

It was a good week. Reconnecting with Okoye, Nakia, T’Challa, and stepping away from their duties for Ghost and Darkness and Lealta Clans. Looking back over the past few years, Ababuo and Sebastian realized that since ‘That Night’ at the Vatican, there had been little time for this. The Hunt for Galileo and betrayers within the Clans took time and precedence.

Nakia and Okoye had dutifully reported the latest information they had acquired, but this week had been about them as Sire and Childe … Family … Not betrayals, Rogues, or information pertinent to the Clans.

They were coming to the end of their visit, and Ababuo and Sebastian would need to spend the last few days on official business with T’Challa before they left to head for Geneva and Rome. As Wakanda was near the end of the rainy season, the nights were cool enough that a fire to warm the night air was always appreciated. Sitting in the living area of Okoye and Nakia’s apartment, everyone relaxed with their after dinner libations.

Nakia always loved to hear stories of before Okoye had come to Wakanda, had taken advantage of her downtime to place a camera, so she could record the two older Vampires telling their stories. If she was feeling generous, she might even share her treasure with a certain Spartan. She winked at Sebastian, who hid a smile behind his wine glass.

“When you were telling your story to the children, you did not say why your tribe’s leader let you leave. You said he was most anxious to add you to his household, Uthando (Love).” Nakia prodded.

Ababuo and Okoye looked at each other and began to laugh. “The expression on his face was priceless.” Ababuo said in between chuckles.

“Having seen, Iya’s prowess with her swords, no one dared not give me a fair price for my family’s herds.” She wiped the tears from her eyes. “The headman, what was his name?”

“Gbolahan. It means:  show off wealth. He certainly was a show-off.” Ababuo stood, grabbing one of the decorative staffs leaning against the fireplace, thumped it against the floor. “I am the leader of this tribe. I make up the rules as I choose.” She waddled across the floor toward Okoye. “You are too young to be alone. You will comeinto my household where you will be protected, and you will give me everything that belonged to your family for that protection.” She intoned in a tenor voice. “He was the only fat man in the tribe. He tried to stand over Okoye to intimidate her, but she was tall enough that he had to look her in the eye.” She returned the staff to its place. Taking up her wine glass, Ababuo leaned into Sebastian.

“Did you pay Gbolahan?” Nakia asked. She’d only ever gotten bits and pieces of Okoye’s story over the years they had been together.

“He tried to demand bride price since the tribe was losing a valuable member. I told him to consider the fact he was still the head of the tribe to be all the bride price he would be receiving. I imagine after we left he was properly challenged for leadership since he did not participate in the defense of the tribe.” Okoye and Ababuo shared a smirk.

“I am sure neither of you examples of the demur female had anything to do with the men of the tribe wanting to overthrow their leader.” Sebastian tweaked his wife’s nose.

“Where did you go?”

“I, and my Chosen Ones were on our way to Egypt, so I invited Okoye to travel with us.” Ababuo grabbed the hand that tweaked her nose and kissed the palm.

“I found some items in my mother’s things that told me she had belonged to a tribe over a moon’s travel east on the shores of a great lake. I still have pieces of her jewelry made from some of the gemstones for which Wakanda has gained renown.”

“But you were leaving your tribe to travel with a legend across Africa.” Nakia insisted.

“I was a young adult who’d just lost everything. We were nearly to the Medjai compound before I pulled myself together. Ababuo or one of the Chosen Ones would give me lessons in fighting after we made camp each night,and I would usually be too exhausted to do a lot of thinking. Iya was very kind to a grieving girl.”

“Then you were thrown into the crazy that was the Medjai compound. Netjerikhet would steal her from Shepit and Nefertiti. He said it was to keep her from withering away from being cooped up in the house. He had found a new partner in crime, and Ardeth wouldn’t yell too loud at him while Okoye was in earshot.” Ababuo laughed at the flush creeping up Okoye’s face.

“There were so many wonderful things. Books, languages, beautiful buildings, and crowds of people. I admit it took some time for me to become accustomed to men with white skin that respected me instead of trying to put me in chains.”

“When did you learn about Vampires?” Sebastian’s curiosity was now getting the better of him. Both women were notoriously close-mouthed about their past. He learned most of his Mate’s history from Clan members. Ababuo being two millennia older meant there was a lot of history.

Some things she would share willingly, but a lot she shrugged off by saying it was a different time where Humans lived closer to the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs than the top. It always caused a smile that his fierce Hunter wife thought to protect his delicate Victorian sensibilities. As an archaeologist and anthropologist, he researched and studied cultures from the most bloodthirsty to the most pacifistic. Counting the most ancient of their kind among his friends and Clan members didn’t shield him from those mindsets. He’d often heard Hannibal threaten to raid the Reserve for elephants to re-enact his march across the Alps on Cape Town and Johannesburg when the South African politicians tested his temper.

“We were traveling back to the Reserve. Over the years, we set up a system where Ghost and Darkness Chosen Ones would often travel by boat to visit their families left behind at Medjai, so we constantly had news and supplies traveling back and forth. We also set up waystations along the overland route between Medjai and Ghost and Darkness to ease the burden on our Chosen Ones that traveled with us. I was with three Chosen Ones when we came across the attack on Okoye’s village. When we left the Medjai compound, we were bringing a caravan of supplies and several new bulls to add new blood to our herds. We would go overland to Zaafarana,where we were taking one of Sinbad’s ships to Maputo where we would be met by someone from the Reserve with a string of asses to haul the supplies back to the compound.” Ababuo snickered at Okoye’s expression. “It would be Okoye’s first time on a ship.”

“It was also my first time around camels … Ugh.” She wrinkled her nose at the memory.

When the laughter died down, Nakia jabbed her Mate in the side. “Seasick?”

“No, but it was a near thing. It did not take long for me to gain my sea legs.” Okoye swatted at her Mate.

“The trip was going well until we were set upon by pirates as we neared Kenya. The battle was fierce, but we won the day. Sinbad’s sailors have always been exceptional, and they earned their gold that day.”

Sebastian and Nakia both looked at Okoye. “It was a bloody mess. Decks slick with blood and water. Animals panicked at the shouting, smell of blood, and gunpowder from the pistols. People were trying to kill you from all directions. We had boarded the pirates’ ship …” She rubbed a hand over her shaved skull. “The battle was nearly done when the pirate captain surrendered. When the first mate realized he had been bested by women, he took leave of his senses and charged toward me. I was near the end of my endurance and had relaxed my guard. Iya stepped between us, taking a sword through the side as she took his head. She tightened her sash to bind the wound until we stripped the pirates of their goods and weapons before setting them adrift.” She glared at her Sire. “It seemed once we were underway, the crew attempted to keep me busy helping the injured and taking inventory of what we’d taken from the pirates. After a time, I managed to slip away toward our cabin. I saw a crew member leaving the cabin looking a little pale but smiling like he’d spent the night with his favorite bed mate. Looking in the door, I saw Ababuo embracing the ship’s navigator with her face buried in his neck and he looked like he was about to pass out from pleasure. She looked directly at me. Her eyes were the color of old gold, and she had fangs.” Okoye’s voice was breathless as she remembered the first time she watched her Sire Feed. “It was erotic and terrifying at the same time.”

“Why did you need such a heavy Feeding, Love?” Sebastian tightened his hold on his Mate.

“The pirate’s sword did a bit more damage than Okoye was aware. I sent Dedi back to his charts as I grabbed Okoye before the shock wore off. I told her I would explain everything as soon as we got the ship and crew set to rights.”

“It was a good thing we were in the middle of the ocean, I would have probably tried to swim to shore.” Okoye chuckled. “I had known all these people for a year and had no clue.”

“Once we were back underway, I drug Okoye to the galley to find something to hold us over until breakfast, which we took back to our cabin where she got Vampire 101.”

“Then what?” Nakia leaned forward.

“We finished the trip to the Reserve somewhat peacefully … Okoye became a Chosen One … She continued to learn and train. After a few years, she came to me wanting to be Turned.”

“What about after your Turning, Okoye? Did life change a lot?” Sebastian was surprised when Nakia handed him a mug of coffee. He glanced at his watch, surprised to see it was almost midnight. “It is getting late. Maybe we should do this another time.” He offered.

“Tomorrow is the General’s day of rest. She will be called if there is a problem. If we do not finish the story tonight, it might be another 100 years before I hear it.” Nakia stated primly.

Okoye huffed when Nakia flopped into her side on the overstuffed sofa. “Fine.” The General rolled her eyes at her sassy Mate.

“Life did not change terribly much after my Turning. In addition to my usual training, I began training to be a Hunter. While we had been with the Medjai, I had begun the study of history with Scheherazade, who told me of the great military leaders that were a part of Ghost and Darkness. When Hannibal and Scipio came to the Reserve on their way to the Medjai, I took Scheherazade’s advice. It has been a great honor to be a student of some of history’s greatest Kings and Generals, in person and through my greatest teacher, Dilios. He has collected most of our stories, so whether it is an enemy the likes of Hassassin, or a Captain Jack Aubrey, their stories will never be forgotten so long as Dilios’ library remains. Our Clan’s databases can tell us a Vampires’ deeds during their life, but Dilios’ stories tell us who they were. It has shaped the General that I have become.” Okoye excused herself and escaped to the kitchen. Nakia rose to follow, but Ababuo shook her head.

“Give her a moment to collect herself. Those times were difficult for her. Reconciling her hatred of white slavers with the respect and caring she received from the white members of the Clans took time. I am forever thankful she was here in Wakanda when we were going through the education of Quartermain’s Mate. If she had met Thomas Sawyer before Tess got a hold of him, I fear our Second-In-Command would be short a Mate, and Okoye would have gotten up close and personal with Macumazahn.”

“Seriously? The few times we’ve been at the Reserve since Allan brought him home, he has been nothing but polite.” Nakia frowned.

“Thomas has changed a lot in the three years since Allan brought him to the Reserve. Those of us who have been watching his progress expect to see him reach a major cusp soon. It will probably be messy, but paradigm shifts usually are. Anyway, after a few years, Okoye got restless patrolling the Reserve and hunting slavers. I would often find her meditating holding pieces of her mother’s jewelry. I thought she was looking for guidance from her ancestors, but it turned out she was looking for clarification of her dreams. She came to me several days later telling me she was going to find Wakanda. As she had just seen her first decade as a Vampire, I insisted we travel together. The monthly courier would be leaving for Maputo in a week, so we began pulling together supplies and Chosen Ones for the journey.”

“Did you really need to travel with Chosen Ones with the improvements in transportation in the 1800’s?”

“We were two black women traveling through 1784 European colonial Africa. Though we dressed as Medjai warriors, it was always wise to travel in numbers. Roads and railroads were undependable or non-existent. We could have Fed without problem in the cities, but once we got into the countryside it would become problematic. One starving Vampire could easily lose control of a Feeding and cause a village’s warriors to go on the hunt for a killer … Two could wipe out the village.”

“So, once you got to Somalia or Ethiopia, you were just going to ride around until Okoye’s brain pinged her this is Wakanda?” Sebastian sounded skeptical.

“That is exactly what I wanted to do.” Okoye returned from the kitchen with a tea tray. “My dreams were very clear in what I was to do.” She served everyone, grabbing a kiss from her Mate before settling into her seat. “We traveled on the supply ship from Maputo to Mogadishu. We spent the night at the Clan’s house in the city before loading the pack animals and heading out early the next morning. It was a very stressful six weeks. We not only had to be on guard against the white slavers but also the Somalis and Ethiopians. If you relaxed for a minute you could find yourself sold off to the Arabs, or on a ship to the Americas. Then one day we are riding toward the Kenyan border when we encounter what looked like a wall of fog.”

“That wonderful phenomenon that no one can explain.” Nakia chuckled.

Okoye pulled her Mate back against her chest. “It is probably what kept slavers of all ilks from invading Wakanda. Superstition has its place as a protection strategy. The feeling as I rode through the veil was one of welcome and returning home.”

“It is interesting you say that. The feeling I, and our Chosen Ones got from the veil was one of wary tolerance as though it was weighing our intentions.” Ababuo added.

“How can that be, cara? It is fog?”

“You are not calling your wife a liar, are you Sebastian?” The glare on his Mate’s face almost caused him to move to the opposite end of the couch.

“I promise you I am not, my exquisite huntress.” The Italian crooned.

“Bah. You Italians and your silver tongues.” Ababuo poked him in the ribs.

“When I crossed the veil the first time it was as though something was waiting for me to arrive.” Nakia’s tone was shy. She had only ever shared her feelings about her first time through the veil with her Mate.

“I promise I will give my full attention when next we pass through the fog.” Sebastian promised.

“You would not be the scientist I know and love if you did not do a proper study.” Ababuo teased.

He placed a quick kiss on the scarred cheek. “Please continue your story, Okoye.”

“We knew were being watched. The watchers remained out of sight, but they could not escape Vampire senses. We traveled on as though unaware. As was our practice, we left as small a footprint as possible, took only what we needed from the land, but Iya and I waited until we were hidden from our watchers by the dark of night to Feed since we had no way to know if they were aware of Vampires and the Clans. The first night we camped near the Omo River that feeds into Lake Turkana.”

Ababuo took over the conversation to get a dig in at her Mate. “I noticed each time one of us mentioned a direction, everyone’s head would turn to the south as though something was prompting us on our route.”

“I surrender.” Sebastian chuckled. “We have been away from primal Africa too long. I have willfully begun to ignore the mysteries that lay in the heart of your land.” He chuckled as Ababuo’s unsubtle teasing.

“About half a day’s ride … South …” Okoye grinned at Sebastian. “We encountered our first village. We were fortunate in that we and the village guards spoke Xhosa. They directed us where to find the village and their Council of Elders. I noticed one of the Elders wearing beads like in my mother’s necklace, so I asked about them. She explained only people who worked in the royal compound received such beads. She asked how I knew about the royal beads, so I showed them my mother’s necklace and gave them her name … Fezeka.”

Seeing the emotions pushing her Childe even after all these years, Ababuo again took over the story. “Turned out Fezeka’s people lived in the village near the palace. Many of the tribe’s people worked for the Royal family for generations. The meeting broke up soon after. They fed us lunch while the Council talked as privately as they could around Vampires. Our Chosen Ones excused themselves to make sure the horses and pack animals had proper care and fodder as we waited for the Elders. When they returned, we were informed the ancestors approved of us being sent onto the capital city. Cebisa, the Elder who had been speaking for the Council, handed Okoye a string of beautiful trade beads. ‘Give these beads to Khutala. She is my equivalent in the palace village. If the spirits are right, you will have much to discuss with her.’ Cebisa hugged Okoye to her bosom.”

“It is a good thing I did not have to breathe … It was quite a bosom I was cleaved to.” Everyone laughed as Okoye seemed to have regained her composure. She looked at the clock.Feeling Nakia’s hand on hers, she exchanged a look with her Mate. “Okay, I will finish. You can turn down the doe eyes.” She looked over at her Sire. “Iya?”

“We are good. There will be sleeping until lunch, but we are almost done. I am sure Dilios will be pleased with your sneaky Mate and her camera.” Ababuo pointed at Nakia as the younger Vampire flushed.

Okoye frowned at the smaller woman, who rolled her eyes. “That look has not worked on me since we Mated.” Nakia stuck her tongue out.

“How old are?” Okoye teased.

“Forever young.” Nakia giggled.

“Anyway … Back to the story … It was a two-day ride to the capital.The scenery was and is beautiful. The rugged cliffs along the river valley, the lush forests full of the sounds of native fauna would have been orgasmic for Owen. We followed the river valley and lake shore into the city. It was an odd mix of ancient Africa and technology of the day but without the smoke and soot. They were already harnessing the power of the river and the wind to fill their power needs. The palace would have rivaled any that I had seen or read about in the Clans’ vast libraries. We stopped in the marketplace to replenish our supplies and inquire for a place to rent rooms before traveling to the south side of the city. Leaving our Chosen Ones at an inn not far from our destination, Iya and I continued on to the village. When we approached the gate, I was amazed at how the houses reminded me of the home my father built for my mother in his village. Dismounting our horses, I asked the warrior guarding the gate about the woman named Khulata,using Cebisa’s name to soften my being a stranger. At his skepticism, I showed him the beads Cebisa had given me. At the sight of the beads, he called for a young man standing inside the gate. Whispering in his ear, he sent the boy running through the village. The horses were starting to doze when they and we jerked around hearing a commotion coming from the center of the village. We were ready to reach for our swords in case things turned ugly when we saw a group of villagers led by a slim elderly woman who was all of five foot nothing. Her white hair was braided elaborately with more beads and bangles than a Maharani on her wedding day. The surprising thing about the petite woman was she was the picture of my mother. Once she stopped hugging me and rambling in Xhosa and Arabic, we figured out she was my grandmother.” Okoye stopped as her emotions once again clogged her throat.“ After 200 years, I should not be such a watering pot. I know my ancestors walk with me, so there is no reason for sorrow.”

“You believed you had lost all your family when your parents and siblings was killed. To find that your family did not end that day will always be emotional, and to know that your family’s descendants still walk through Wakanda would choke up anyone.” Ababuo consoled her Childe.

“Very eloquent, my love.” Sebastian kissed his Mate’s knuckles.

“Besides, your Dora Milaje would never believe us if we told them their stone-faced General had a heart of marshmallow.” The ancient Vampire teased.

“Thank you for your kindness and understanding, Iya.” Okoye gave a watery chuckle.

“Needless to say, we were welcomed into the village. Once things settled and it was polite to do so,I returned to our lodgings to retrieve Okoye’s belongings. Two days later, she came to tell me she would not be returning to the Reserve with me … That she had found her home. After a discussion about the logistics of staying in Wakanda, two of our Chosen Ones who were also brothers asked to stay.”

“Their families are still counted among our Chosen Ones.” Nakia wrapped herself around her Mate.

Okoye dried her eyes. “Dilios better consider us even after all this emotional bloodletting.” She grumbled.

“I am sure he will, intliziyo yam (my heart).” She nuzzled above Okoye’s neck rings.

“We stayed three more days gathering supplies and making sure everyone was settled before heading back to the Reserve. I was somewhat cranky after leaving my Childe behind.”

“You were back in six months with a pack train of our belongings.” Okoye chuckled.

“There you were living in the palace as part of the king’s protection detail. Khutala was a fount of information about your exploits.”

“The old girl did not bat an eye when I told her about Vampires.”

“You could only keep it secret for more than six months?” Sebastian sounded surprised for the General was notoriously close-mouthed.

“She wanted to know which brother was to be my husband. I told her neither though they were fine young men and would make any woman wonderful husbands. She kept pressing about why I was seen ‘walking out’ with them every few days, so I had to tell her.”

Ababuo walked over to where the two younger women sat. “You have done me and the Clan proud with your accomplishments … Both of you. I could not be prouder if you were children of my loins instead of my heart.” She hugged both women then called her Mate to her side. “Now we shall retire to our room for what little is left of the night. Do not look for us before lunch.”

“T’Challa wants us to have dinner tomorrow … Well, today in the family’s apartments.”

“We will be there. We fly out to Nairobi the next day. We can drop off a copy of your video to Dilios when we are in Geneva.”

“We have not yet got the Internet throughout all of the city, but we could ask the king to use the Royal cloud account.” Nakia suggested.

“Do not dare. I want to be there when he watches it, and I can deliver Okoye’s message.” She threw over her shoulder as they headed for the door. “Later, ladies.” The couple waved as the door closed behind them.

~*~*~*~

Leaning back in her seat on the small bush plane taking them to Nairobi, Ababuo let her mind drift over their stay in Wakanda. After an overnight stay in Nairobi, they would catch a flight to Geneva, and their meetings with Lamont and their Clans’ representatives, Henry and Giuliano. Dilios, she was saving for after her and Sebastian’s business was concluded. After the emotional roller coaster that Okoye rode to tell her story, these few days of no demands on their time were good for them.

Sebastian looked over where his Mate was deep inside her own thoughts. He could feel the sadness at leaving her Childe. With the demands of his position as the Spy Liaison for two Clans and the increase in the number of Rogues appearing across Africa and the Middle East, now was not a good a time for them to be out of touch. With Ababuo being the most mobile of the Hunters for both Clans put her in high demand, but perhaps they could squeeze out more time to spend in Wakanda. They could finish setting up the remainder of their information network across North Africa and into the Middle East. It might do good to visit with Marjanah when they returned from their meetings in Europe to pick the Medjai Spy Liaison’s brain about their plans.

Both Vampires were jolted out of their thoughts when the pilot’s voice told them to fasten their seat belts. Sebastian took Ababuo’s hand in his as the plane began its descent. She gave him one of her sweet smiles that were reserved solely for him.

“Can we visit …”

“We can try to visit Okoye and Nakia more often.” Sebastian got the last word in for once.

~ Finis ~


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