Honestly, waking up this morning he was expecting them to stop some evil plot a crazy villain conjured up. He was expecting people to be saved. He was expecting to be targeted and minions, if involved, to be coming at him.
What he didn't expect that the attack of today was going to take place in the middle of the ocean on a cruise ship.
Why? Kaldur, at this point, didn't care.
Plus side though, water was at his reach.
"You kids really think you can stop me?!", shouted the villain of the day, which was Captain Cold with the addition of the other Rogues.
"Just because you didn't any free tickets to a cruise, doesn't mean you could attack one!", taunted Superboy, dodging a blast of ice his way.
"Ugh! This is ridiculous!", hissed Miss Martian, telekinetically throwing back a guy.
"Just focus! Nightwing, look to your left!", shouted Aqualad, having to take a dodge of his own before he became an icicle. He growled, annoyed at this point.
The Rogues really tested it hiring goons.
He got some satisfaction though seeing Beast Boy turn into a kangaroo and kick two of them unconscious. "This would be easier if you give up.", the young hero sassed.
Cold turned up the blast level on his guns before firing.
Zatanna was knocked to the side by Blue Beetle, him taking the shot of ice to the side. He fell to his knees, clenching his right side as Impulse sped to him.
"Beetle, are you okay?"
"Fine. Just probably a bruise at most.", he assured before creating a shield to block a goon's attack.
"Well, thank you for taking the bruise for me! Worht ffo taob!", Zatanna chanted, aiming for the goons running at them. They were lifted into the air and thrown into the water. Wonder Girl peeked over the railing and chuckled seeing them pop out the water.
"You dare mock, child?!"
The Team looked up, hearing a boom of thunder above them. Superboy growled, throwing up his arms.
"Everyone, take cover!", shouted Aqualad just as the Weather Wizard shot down a bolt of lightning. He took shelter under a table, narrowly dodging a blast.
'Could this day get any worse?!'
Whatever Nightwing was warning him about was interrupted by a hot blast of flames his way. Thinking quickly, he knocked the table on its side so the surface of it caught the attack. He hissed when some of the flame touched his hand, burning it just a little.
In the mind link, he heard Tigress ask if he was okay.
"I'm fine! Just irriated more like."
He noticed that Heatwave literally turned up the heat, resulting in the table to get hotter and move closer to the aquatic male. He began to back away, getting ready to dive in a nearby pool. Unfortunately, a more metallic silver beam stopped him. He hissed, knowing it was Mirror Master.
"Come on out, fishy! We have a nice fish bowl for you! The morgue!"
"Well, that was definitely offensive!", Blue Beetle remarked, shooting at Heatwave.
Aqualad, admittedly a bit sweaty, backed from the now scorched table. That's when he felt rounded metal. Looking down, he realized that he was pressed against the ship's railings, the water just many feet over and below.
"Boomerang, Cold, Wizard. You should give up now. We defeated all your goons and Heatwave and Mirror Master are already down for the count.", Zatanna pointed out, Impulse tying up the latter after Beast Boy successfully knocked him out. Heatwave was being held up, tied by Superboy.
"Yeah. Just give up."
"Hmmmm. You know, anything is up for discussion. Except that!", Captain Boomerang hissed before throwing multiple boomerangs.
Wonder Girl blocked each one, the weapons bouncing off her gauntlets. Unfortunately, since they were boomerangs, they flew in other directions.
Miss Martian narrowly missed one as she tried to take care of Weather Wizard. Kid Flash almost tripped, and if he did he would fell in Red Robin.
"Hey, Wondy! Um... Yeah! Almost got stabbed!", the older speedster pouted.
"Sorry!", she called back, blocking last one.
And that one... flew right at Aqualad. Being dizzy from the overtime of heat exposure, his reaction time was delayed which resulted in a blow to the head. The not so sweet icing on the fruitcake was that instead of falling forward or the side at least, he fell right over the railing. Into the water. Which wouldn't have been bad if he had been conscious.
"Come on! The one time Lagoon Boy would have been useful!", Kid Flash sighed, speeding at Boomerang and taking him out.
"I got him!", Beast Boy volunteered, running to jump in the water. However, Weather Wizard had a different idea set.
He created tornadoes, huge and blocking the shifter and anyone else.
Zatanna sighed. "This day is gonna be a long one."
Waking up, he realized he was a lot more cooler. Also, whatever he was settled in was both soft yet somewhat gritty.
Opening up his eyes, he spotted green. Bright green and other vibrant colors. Once his sight cleared, Kaldur could see he was laying in rather fertile dirt, hence it being next to a wide river, and that he surrounded by trees and other vegetation. The flowers he saw were very animated, colored different shades of violets, pinks, blues and others.
He could hear the chittering and growling of nearby animals, probably watching him and guarded if he was going to do anything.
Getting to his feet slowly, Kaldur looked from his right to left for anything or anyone.
It was only the jungle and its animals.
He tried focusing on the mind link, disappointed when he couldn't get a message through. Wherever he is, it's too far from the others. So, Kaldur decided to just hike from here.
Carefully, in case there was some animals vicious enough to pounce on him, he began his trail.
The group winced, not even surprised at the expected shout of panic.
"We lost him. He got knocked out, fell into the water, and disappeared. Trust me, while some of us got the passengers safe and the Rogues tied up, we searched the waters. He's just... gone.", Nightwing had explained.
He knew that by saying that there was going to be some flipping out by someone.
Of course, it would have been by someone close to Kaldur. Someone who valued him probably more than anyone else did because they were pretty much family. Someone who looked up to Kaldur. Someone who understood him.
"What... How... Why... Urgh!", La'gaan groaned, falling face first in the nearby couch. The rest of the noises he made were, thankfully, muffled by the pillows.
"Sorry. It just... happened.", Artemis sighed, somewhat ashamed. She and the others did their damnest to not meet with the JL's eyes. Especially Aquaman's.
Said king had noticed it, acknowledging that they felt guilty about what happened. He wasn't going to blame them for the incident. He remembered just how long it took them to return, even after taking the Rogues to Belle Reve to be dealt with. They did search for their missing teammate.
"Look, none of you are going to be blamed for this. You were just doing what had to be done. You even looked for him before coming to us about it."
"And since you have told us, there's now increased number to help. We'll just continue off from where you last looked and take on other parts.", Wonder Woman voiced, placing a hand on her protege's shoulder.
From where he sat perched on the table, Tim frowned. He eyed La'gaan who didn't look any calmer. "I hope we find him soon."
"What if he got eaten by a shark?! We have to check all the sharks?!", Garfield gasped, panicked.
"That actually is less likely to happen. Remember when he rode one during that one attack like a month ago?", Conner reminded.
"Wait. I didn't know about that.", Black Canary said, blinking.
"Anyways...", Batman had started, not wanting the subject to go offhand. There was a half-Atlantean that is urgently needed to be found. "We should check the nearby countries where that attack happen. Scanners, the subs, everything we need to find Aqualad pronto."
"La'gaan and I will go to Atlantis in case he went there.", Aquaman said, going over to where was La'gaan was moping.
"I really hope he didn't end up somewhere really hot. Like a dessert or something.", Bart whined.
"Let's not even think about that!"
Time didn't feel to be going by fast right now.
Wherever he was, it was still bright in the sky, signifying that it wasn't even evening yet. Maybe.
The air was admirably fresh though and oddly enough it had been peaceful. Nothing or no one had bothered him. Yet it was unsettling, too.
Kaldur had followed the river, figuring he might come across another form of life. He wasn't successful in that. Not yet.
Though, at least with the sounds of animals peacefully chittering, tweeting and purring assured him that he wasn't somewhere lifeless and scarce.
Honestly, this place appeared straight of perfection. Surely, there would a few flaws, but good did outweigh bad.
Regardless, he wanted home.
The sudden shift of scenery did startle Kaldur, resulting him to reach for his waterbearers out of instinct. Unfortunately, they were absent, possibly lost from the incident.
He had let out a quiet curse in his native language.
Well, what a shock.
"LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!"
That was followed by an angered whirring, the sound of an engine starting. Kaldur looked up in time to dodge an oncoming jeep. Somehow he managed to catch sight of five panicked men inside, two of them armed with guns and shooting back at whatever the threat was. The Atlantean took cover behind a thankfully large tree, watching as a large spear came into view, flying past him and stabbing through the back left wheel of the vehicle. Impressively, the jeep swerved, crushing against a tree. The men was practically thrown out, landing in the dirt semi-conscious.
"Did you really think you could escape so easily?"
"And with such primitive weapons. Sad really."
Kaldur spotted two women approach the men. He noticed that they walked with power and pure strength, familiar with such an aura. They were similarly dressed, adorning a vivacious red and bright gold clothing and armor. One of them had short dark red hair, the other bald.
The redhead had came over to one of the men, kicking his gun away before putting a sharp circular blade to his neck. "Try it. Now, you will come with us peacefully and answer to the king and council for your crimes."
The other woman picked up the spear that was thrown earlier. She grinned down at another of the fallen group. "But if you do have the urge to test us, feel free. I promise you however that the consequences are more unimaginably severe."
These women were ultimately badass.
"Fuck you!", came the expected response.
"I'm not surprised. Nakia, call for the jet please."
The now known Nakia nodded, fiddling with a rather shiny tech bracelet on her wrist.
After a couple of moments, contemplating to himself, Kaldur decided to ask the women for help. Best case scenario.
Worst case was being stranded.
Alright, why he kept going back to that?
The duo turned, stopping briefly from tying up the men with their own rope, no less, seeing Kaldur coming closer. The Atlantean caught the spark of caution in their eyes. They were right to be cautious. They didn't know him and he didn't know them. After all, they just took down a group of criminals who trepassed into their territory. Who else could be out there?
"I apologize if I may come off as an intruder, but I am just lost."
"Lost, you say?", the bald woman questioned.
"Yes. I got separated from my companions. We were... dealing with an issue."
Both women continue to eye, seeing if he would try anything or lying.
"Hm. How long ago was this issue?", Nakia asked just when a sleek black ship could be heard arriving.
"Unfortunately, I am not clear on that. I expect hours ago. I was just unconscious."
"You are not of this place.", the bald woman stated, eyes narrowed in curiosity.
The door of the ship opened, three other red and gold clad women coming out and loading the men up.
Kaldur had blinked, somewhat baffled. She must have noticed his gills. She did notice his gills.
She pointed at her own neck, signifying the clue.
"I noticed the features embalmed into your neck. They're rather abnormal."
"Ayo!", Nakia gasped.
"I don't mean it as a rude thing!"
"It's okay.", Kaldur assured. "She is right. I am not of this place or any other of the surface world."
At his words, their eyes widened, obviously intrigued. They shared looks, mentally discussing the next course of action for a few moments. Seemingly, their decision came to a conclusion when they looked back at him.
"Come with us. Our king may be welcome to allow assistance for you to find home."
She hadn't been there when the mini JL had delivered the news of Kaldur missing. If she had been, this search would have started two hours ago. She might have been found the missing Atlantean.
In fact, they all would've if they remembered one simple fact.
She possessed the powers of all animals.
Which also meant she had better foresight to locate Kaldur.
Most of the JL was either scouting nearby placed or looking from the Watchtower's scanners. They even somehow convinced the Team to just sit at the Hideout to calm their nerves. Well... that was understandable. You have to be emotionally and mentally composed to complete a task, not just physically. The Team did immediately look for their friend the moment they got the chance. So Vixen took it upon herself to take up the mantle to ease their worries once Beast Boy, her precious protege, informed her.
At the moment, she was hovering over the Indian Ocean waters, using the acute sight of a hawk to locate anything that could have been missed.
And true to her guesses, Vixen was able to find a broken waterbearer floating in the water. With a frown, she picked it out, noticing that Kaldur's scent was almost absent from being drenched for so long. Yet, it was still there.
"Hm. If I was unconscious person floating away who would mostly likely not drown due to my Atlantean heritage where in the hell would I be after many, many hours?", she pondered to herself. She took in what was left of Kaldur's scent and began to track where it was leading off to. Her eyes trailed back and forth until she spotted a nearby coast. "I would be on any nearby land like any other person or thing would be!"
She flew over within top speed, seeing as she got closer there was vegetation. Much like someone before her.
Vixen sniffed the air, catching a familiar hint of fresh seawater that only two young heroes possessed. It wasn't a guess as to who brought the scent there, since only one of them is with Aquaman.
"Okay, okay. Now I have a clue where you may be. Let's hope I can find you before something bad happens."
Admittedly, he didn't think all the time he has spend on the surface he'll ever find a place that could match his underwater home's natural beauty.
He did and he wouldn't mind to confessing about it.
Wakanda was a sight to behold, an even greater one while looking out the window of a plane that could beat Batman's Batplane. Kaldur wasn't one to get too excited about something, but this was truly magnificent. The greenery in the forest was beautiful, oh it is. But it seemed the further you reach into the country the more vivid the color became.
As they flew, they passed by huge waterfalls that not only looked refreshing, but cool and adventurous. He wouldn't mind swimming there.
During the flight, Ayo had explained a bit of Wakanda. Its tribes, roles, little things. He noted that she didn't say everything, just the necessary things. He respected that. He was an outsider, after all.
"I warn you, you might not be taken to at first. The people of Wakanda are protective.", Nakia said as the plane began to take a landing.
Kaldur nodded. "I understand."
She shot him a small smile. "Good. Follow Ayo. She'll take you to the king."
At the mention of her name, the woman went over and tapped at the Atlantean's shoulder.
He began to trail behind her, stepping off the plane and onto the smooth runway.
"Stay close, too. If you venture off too far, one of the Dora Milaje may find you. The end result would not be so pleasant.", Ayo had added as they walked closer into the hangar of the impressively gigantic palace. Kaldur knew it had to be a palace. It was much larger and even sleeker than other buildings they passed overhead. He could imagine how many rooms could be inside. How spacious the throne room may be.
"If I got lost before in the jungle, I am assured I could get lost in the palace. It would be best to stay close.", he agreed teasingly and cautiously.
Ayo gave a look, not one of disapproval, but of amusement.
"Witty, yet wise. You could fit in around here.", she smirked, pressing a button for two doors to open. Kaldur had recognized it as an elevator once they boarded it. However, the design was more... lavish than any one he had seen before. It was even faster than others he realized since it didn't take long for them to reach a higher floor.
Ayo had been the first to step out, Kaldur following off just as soon as a soft whooshing sound and a shout could be heard.
"Out of the way! Out of the--- Ayo!"
Kaldur has blinked at the sudden arrival of a young girl zooming in closer at what looked to be a... flying wheelless skateboard?
"Shuri, what are you doing?", Ayo questioned, crossing her arms sternly, but her expression remained kind.
The now acknowledged Shuri jumped off her... whatever it was. "The usual! Testing an invention!"
"And that is?"
Shuri shrugged, her eyes catching sight of Kaldur. "Well, I haven't came up with a name for it yet. It's a board that hovers."
"It seems to do more than that."
"Yeah... Who's this?", the younger questioned with a gesture.
"This is... I haven't caught your name before. I've forgotten to ask.", Ayo realized, sighing.
"That is fine." The Atlantean stepped closer to Shuri, careful to not seem too out of place yet respectful. "I'm Kaldur'ahm. Or Kaldur, if you prefer."
"Shuri. Princess Shuri. Younger sister to the king and local inventor! What brings you to Wakanda?"
"Mere accident. I was out at sea and was unfortunately knocked unconscious and fell into the water. I washed up on the shore. That is the short version.", came the answer.
Shuri winced. "That is unfortunate. I'm guessing you need help to get home."
"Yes. Where is T'Challa?", Ayo asked.
"Throne room. Or library. He had a meeting earlier, but it should be over."
Ayo began to walk away, signaling for Kaldur to follow again. Shuri decided to tag along, carrying her new toy.
It started off quiet for a few moments. There wasn't even the sound of their footsteps.
"So... you're an outsider?"
"Shuri!", Ayo scorned, similarly how Nakia did her earlier.
"I'm just asking. I don't mean to offend him or anything! It's just that...", she started off, eyebrows raised and a finger aimed at her neck.
Kaldur mouthed an "Oh", understanding her curiosity. "I am."
"Those are gills. They look so... real."
"Oh, they are real. Very real."
Shuri's eyes couldn't get any bigger. Her mouth hung open, just a little. Obviously, she was shocked, intrigued. "N-no..."
"Kaldur'ahm, how did you get gills?", Ayo asked, leading them into another hallway. Kaldur can spot two of the Dora Milaje standing at an entrance to a room. By the size of the doors, it was an obviously important room. Ayo opened the rooms, revealing that he had been correct, seeing there was a throne, a very clean and sleek floor with huge windows towering and pouring sunlight in the room. There was also a man sitting lazily on that throne with a book in his hands.
The man had looked up, a bit alert from the sound of the doors opening, but relaxed a split second later. He smiled, closing his book and getting to his feet. His stand leaked class, authority and wit. Also possible sarcasm. He adorned black robes with hints of rich silver and... were those sandals?
"Shuri, my sister.", he greeted, crossing his arms over his chest briefly.
Shuri had repeated the action, which was now acknowledged as a salute. "T'Challa, my brother. Why are reading a book here?"
"It was quiet."
"So is the library."
"There's not sun in there."
Ayo had let out a soft chuckle, shaking her head. "My King, you have truly embraced your feline nature."
"Be silent, Ayo.", the man hissed, without venom, but more amusement. He spotted Kaldur, his expression becoming skeptical as he looked him over. "And who might you be?"
Shuri had beat him in answering the king. "His name is Kaldur'ahm. He was knocked out in an accident out at sea and washed up on our shore. That's the short version."
Kaldur didn't not to comment on that.
"Kaldur, this is my brother, current holder of the Black Panther mantle and king of Wakanda, T'Challa."
The Atlantean wasn't sure to bow or do the arm thing or any other salute since he was aware that each place with a monarchy differentiated in greetings. Ultimately, he was just still being cautious. He already dealt with attacks today. He didn't need anymore.
"So, Kaldur'ahm, you were involved in an accident?", T'Challa questioned, stepping forward.
"Within the nearby sea. My companions and I were dealing with an attack on a cruise ship."
T'Challa's face changed from suspicion to bafflement.
"Yes, I know it sounds strange."
"I don't know. My brother has seen a man grow into the size of a building, so I don't think he can be surprised by anything else.", Shuri teased, ignoring the look her sibling shot her.
Kaldur blinked. "Wait. What?"
"Yeah. He seen a man do that. Is that weird for you?"
"On the contrary, no. I have seen a woman do the same thing. And a man. I also came in contact with a flying dog before."
Shuri and T'Challa blinked, Ayo appearing lost in thought as she tried to picture such a thing.
"Okay... You just live an unusual life, Kaldur'ahm. You have gills..."
"I'm sorry?", T'Challa practically gasped.
"He has gills, my King.", Ayo added, gesturing to Kaldur's neck.
"But he never said how. I mean it's okay if you don't want to. For personal reasons and whatnot.", Shuri added.
"No, no. That is alright.", Kaldur assured. "I was born with gills. And webbing between my fingers and toes. Where I am from, it is not too common, but it happens."
"Where is that?"
Kaldur watched for any change in their demeanors, finding that they were... perplexed. He wasn't surprised. Being on the surface, he have realized that some people were shocked to hear that Atlantis did exist, even if Aquaman and on some occasions Aquawoman were out and about.
He waited for any of them to speak, a bit humored at it.
"I thought Atlantis was just a myth.", Ayo spoke up first.
"Well, many people believe Wakanda the same for a while, but here we are.", Shuri reminded. "Now it makes a lot of sense. I read an article not too long ago about... Aquaman. Yeah, Aquaman."
"My mentor.", Kaldur added.
"He's a king, too, right?"
"Of Atlantis, yes. His mother was our previous ruler, our queen. His father was of the surface world. Something we have in common apparently."
"I read about that, too! But you said that's something you have in common?"
"Yes. My mother is from Atlantis. My father is human." Kaldur almost tensed at the thought of his biological father.
"I see. Shuri, what did you read about Aquaman?", T'Challa asked.
For a second, Kaldur pondered if the king was trying to coax more information out of him, but that look in his eyes didn't match.
"He's part of the Justice League."
"Ah." T'Challa looked back at Kaldur, hands crossed behind his back. "I'm taking a wild guess and saying that the attack you mentioned was an attack by a villain or two that the Justice League was handling."
"Close. My companions I spoke of earlier are also learning under the League and we were taking care of the attack. I was hoping to get help to contact them to let them know I am okay and head back home.", Kaldur admitted.
T'Challa nodded. He gave Kaldur a welcoming smile. "Well, I'll be happy to offer you assistance."
Vixen immediately felt urgency and relief when she realized where Kaldur's scent had led her to. She's been here before. She recognized this place.
"Wakanda. Well, at least he didn't land somewhere like a dessert.", she muttered to herself. Vixen had a feeling that wherever Kaldur was in Wakanda he was safe. Being the kind of person he was, someone would have taken a liking to him and keep him out of harm's way. Her best bet right now was to go to the palace and seek help to find him. She chuckled to herself, thinking how she could find someone faster than Batman and Superman. And the Flash.
"Oh, damn. My day has been made."
"Can't believe we have to stay here."
"Wally. Wallace. That's the twentieth time you said that.", Artemis groaned from the kitchen, putting filled mugs of hot chocolate on a tray. She walked out, heading to the gathered group of young, distressed heroes.
"Well, yeah, it's the truth. Our friend is, out there somewhere, probably scared, hurt and lonely while we're here just drinking hot cocoa like it's no big whoop.", the speedster frowned.
"The JL wanted us to have clear minds. You can't do anything with a clouded mind. So right now, calming down is the best thing to do.", M'gann advised, getting a mug off the tray.
"But this is still... ugh!", Conner growled before angrily sipping on his hot chocolate.
Garfield sipped his with a nod. "I know you feel useless. But if we're in luck, Aunt Vixen will probably find Kaldur before the rest of the JL do." He took another sip. "Sometimes, I think the JL over think things. Like don't they know animals have acute senses that can locate people? I'm surprised I didn't find Kaldur."
"Oh yeah. I feel like... like...", Zatanna started.
"We are horrible friends?", Dick tried.
"I wouldn't say so. We're sitting here, yes, but we're worrying for him. Look! My hands are practically shaking!", Cassie whined, holding her hands out that were indeed shaking.
"Why are we even listening to the League? Have we ever?", Jaime sassed, standing up. "If Wally, Dick and Kaldur had listened to them Conner wouldn't be here."
"True. And that's why we're gonna do our own thing and get going.", Bart said, getting to his feet, too.
The discussion with T'Challa was a surprisingly easy one. He agreed to help Kaldur and even offered to let him stay a few days depending on how long it took. But given how advanced the technology was here, Kaldur suspected it might just take a few hours, a day at the most.
Ayo had led him to a guest room, close to the royal rooms. "Hope it's to your liking."
When Kaldur peeked his pale greens inside the room, he was ultimately impressed. It was bigger than the rooms at Hideout II, probably bigger than the rooms at Wayne Manor. Everything was sleek, neat and luxurious.
"It's better. Thank you."
"Someone will bring you some spare clothes. Anything you prefer?"
"No, I'll be fine. Anything that is brought is fine.", he said, walking in.
Ayo gave a small nod before taking her leave. Now alone, Kaldur glanced around the spacious room. He spotted a door, just as fancy as the room. Opening it, he saw that it was the bathroom... with a rather fantasizing clean pool-like tub. Again, he is not one to get giddy about anything, and naturally he wasn't materialistic. But this was something else.
"I never wanted to stay and swim in a tub so badly.", he muttered to himself, a bit humored and embarrassed.
The Team would tease him for days.
"So he's settled into the room?", T'Challa had asked once Ayo reappeared. She nodded.
"Yes. I suspect he would be getting washed up now."
"I'll bring him some clothes!", Shuri volunteered.
T'Challa crossed his arm, giving his sister a teasing look. "And why's that?"
"Because you'll bring him some awful shoes. Nobody likes those sandals, T'Challa!"
"I like them."
"Of course, you do. You're a strange cat."
T'Challa just rolled his eyes, picking up the folded bundle of clothing and boxes of shoes, hoping it would fit their Atlantean guest. He walked out into the hallway, heading to the guest room. He heard running water as he got closer, meaning that Kaldur was in the bathroom. He snuck into the room and placed the clothes and shoes onto the bed before waiting out into the hall. He waited for only a few minutes before Kaldur had opened the door, dressed in just a black sleeveless shirt and simple, yet fancy black pants. And sandals.
He was startled a bit when the king cleared his throat. Since his arms were shown, T'Challa could see the black of his tattoos brighten to a white-blue.
"Oh sh... Your Highness.", he greeted, calming down and letting his tattoos fade back to black.
T'Challa glanced down at his feet, resisting a smirk. Kaldur noticed and shrugged. "I just prefer sandals. They're more efficient for my feet."
Anyone could have swore a happy cat face appeared on T'Challa's face with matching black cat ears. "I'm pleased to hear that." He began to walk down the hall, gesturing Kaldur to follow. The Atlantean did so, staying close. "Shuri thinks of them as a curse."
"My friends think my choice in footwear is weird, too. However, it's the most comfortable for me. The clothes are, too. Thank you, Your Highness."
It was silent between for a while. And given that they were both trained in stealth, their footsteps were quiet. It wasn't until T'Challa spoke up again that something was heard.
"Your markings. They turned blue before.", he pointed out.
Kaldur glanced down at his arm for a second, looking back at T'Challa. "It happens when I use magic. In Atlantis, there's training for it. Our tattoos appear when magic is in use. However, I didn't complete my training since I left to be Aqualad. In result, my tattoos are still visible and glow when I use magic."
"Ah, come on!"
The duo stopped, looking to their right to see Ayo standing over a man, staff in her hand and a grin on her face. Nakia and Shuri was there, both clapping for her. There was another woman, similarly dressed like Ayo, with a smirk on her face, too.
"Still leaving openings.", she sighed, shaking her head in amusement. The man just stayed laying on the ground, groaning.
T'Challa and Kaldur walked further into the training room, the king chuckling and catching their attention.
"Once more, the Dora Milaje reigns."
"Team Dora Milaje!", Shuri agreed, her eyes drifting to Kaldur's feet. She gasped, betrayal written on her face. "T'Challa, you told him to wear those, didn't you?!"
"It was his own choice, my sister."
Shuri glared at him, glanced at Kaldur with a pitying look, and glared back at her brother. "I don't believe you."
T'Challa just shrugged. "I would expect no less."
The woman had stepped up, careful not to step on the man still on the floor. She looked over Kaldur, skeptical as he expected. "Who is this?"
T'Challa placed a hand on Kaldur's shoulder, which gave him some comfort. "Okoye, this is Kaldur'ahm. He was brought here by the ocean to Wakanda by accident. And probably faith. Kaldur, this is Okoye. General of the Dora Milaje."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am.", Kaldur greeted politely. From the hard stare Okoye was giving him, she was obvious looking for any sign of a threat. Also expected.
"Hit on the head, dropped in the ocean, brought here, already corrupted by my brother's horrid love for sandals. That's the gist.", Shuri said.
Okoye looked down and shot T'Challa a look. "Really?"
"His own choice.", the king deadpan.
"It is. I just prefer sandals to other footwear. Most of the time, I am barefoot.", Kaldur admitted with a shrug.
Okoye's stare softened. "You're not from here.", she stated.
"So I have been told.", came the quick reply. It wasn't harsh, but Kaldur realized that it may came off a bit sassy and Okoye could kick ass. He didn't think she could. He knew just by looking at her. He opened his mouth to apologize, but Okoye had let out a chuckle.
"Witty. I like him already. He could fit nice around here."
"I told him that!", Ayo reminded, twirling her staff.
"It's your accent. It's not American, per say. But it doesn't sound like Wakandan either. You also have a warrior's build, gills and your tattoos are shaped like eels.", Okoye continued.
"Oh yeah, we noticed the gills.", Shuri laughed, taking pictures of her brother and Kaldur. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all.", the Atlantean answered. He turned to Okoye. "I am from Atlantis. Shayeris, Atlantis to be exact. And by Atlantean standards, I could be considered a warrior."
"Well, that's perfect!"
"Then spar with us.", Ayo offered, already passing a staff to Kaldur.
T'Challa winced, watching Ayo's previous opponent leave. Probably to medical. "I don't think that's a good idea."
"I won't hurt him... too much.", the warrior chuckled.
"He was unconscious hours ago."
"It is fine, Your Highness. I heal fast and I feel okay enough to spar.", Kaldur insisted, twirling the staff effortlessly like Ayo had done. "Besides, I think I should try someone else in sparring."
T'Challa shrugged, taking a spot next to his sister as she readied her camera.
"This is going to be fun.", the inventor smirked.
The sparring between Kaldur and Ayo so far lasted for two hours. And it didn't seemed to tire out anytime soon. With each passing second, the rounds were just getting more exciting.
Okoye was keeping score, impressed that Kaldur had managed to even be only a point behind Ayo.
"Yup. T'Challa, I like this one."
"If he decides to stay here, I'll be happy with that.", Shuri agrees, fiddling with her camera. She had taken a lot of pictures and videos. So far, her favorite had been when Kaldur accidentally broke both their staffs when the weapons smacked against each other. Now, the two were engaged in hand to hand combat.
Ayo almost had Kaldur in a headlock, but he managed to block the upcoming squeeze, taking hold of her arm and flipping her on her back on the ground.
"Tied up now.", Okoye announced, grinning at them. "Ready to call it quits?"
"Not really. I finally have a challenge!", Ayo answers, quickly getting to her feet.
Kaldur looks visibly embarrassed at the comment. He wasn't too exhausted to continue sparring, and his muscles weren't so achy. But...
"T'Challa? Can we get some lunch? Watching these two badasses really works up an appetite.", Shuri questions with a giggle.
The king nodded, feeling the hunger, too. "I guess it is time for lunch. Any requests?"
"I got a request."
Okoye, Ayo and Kaldur jumped into defensive stands, Shuri blinking and looking up and T'Challa, too, getting into a defensive stance, covered in his suit instantly.
Shuri had been looking up, seeing who talked while the other four looked for a threat. "Hey, up!"
They looked up, just as the source of the voice jumped from a pillar. Seeing who it was, they relaxed.
Vixen chuckled, seeing T'Challa's unimpressed stare. "What?"
"Mari, by Bast, don't do that again."
"Couldn't help it." She looked at Kaldur and pointed at him. "Found you. You've been missing for quite time."
"I know." Kaldur goes up to her and hugs her.
Vixen hugs back, smiling. "I'm glad to see you are okay. I got worried when Garfield told me what happened."
"Is the others okay?"
"Yup. They're more worried about you really." Vixen turns to Shuri. "Hey, baby girl. I see he's wearing sandals. T'Challa got to him?"
"Oh yeah.", the inventor answers, ignoring T'Challa's mutters of protests.
Kaldur noticed how familiar Vixen talked with her, how comfortable she is right now. Quirking an eyebrow, he asked, "Aunt Vixen, have you been to Wakanda before?"
"Yes actually. Mission. Handling animals. The usual."
"Mari's a good ally of ours.", Ayo said.
The Justice League eventually gathered back at the Hideout II to give the news they disappointed their younger partners that they didn't find Kaldur.
Batman was voted to give the news.
Because he's Batman.
"Kids, I...", he started once they spotted the younger heroes. However. He spotted short once he realized quickly that not only they were in their uniforms, about to take off somewhere no doubt, but that on the screen in front of them was Kaldur and Vixen.
Both of them were grinning, visibly okay.
"You're where now?!", they heard Wally ask.
"Wakanda. It is impressive here. I like it.", Kaldur said, chuckling.
"We'll be here for a while.", Vixen added.
La'gaan had rushed closer to the screen, relief on his face. "KALDUR, YOU'RE OKAY!!!"
"Yes, La'gaan. I'm fine. I apologize that you were worried for me."
"Just as long as you are okay!"
"Vixen, when did you find Kaldur?", Flash asked as they joined their proteges.
"About two hours ago. Faster than you! And Bats! And Superman! Ha! I'm so hanging this over your head!", she teased.
They heard an unfamiliar voice from behind her say something.
"Yes, it's them.", Vixen had answered back.
The group watched as a bald woman appear on the screen, her expression serious. "He's ours now. We're taking Kaldur'ahm."
"General Okoye, I will have to return soon to my Team.", Kaldur reminded.
"No, you don't."
"Anyways, we will be returning tomorrow."
"No! T'Challa, tell him he's a prince of Wakanda now!", another feminine voice piped up.
"Shuri, calm down.", a masculine voice sighed.
"We'll just be going on! Bye!", Vixen said before ending the call.
The proteges and their mentors stood there, pondering about what they just witnessed. It was quick, but clear.
"Well... at least he's okay.", Dick said.
"Did I hear 'prince'?", Aquaman questioned.
"Where is Wakanda?", M'gann asked.
"Northeastern Africa. From what I'm aware it's a monarchical country, with its current ruler being King T'Challa. Most likely from what we witnessed, Kaldur is now adopted.", Batman stated.
"I got to know why?", Wally questioned with his voice a little squeak.
"Don't know. Well, find out when he and Vixen comes back tomorrow. If they do."