The strong African sun showered down on the blessed land of Bandari, amber fields swaying in the gentle breeze, the warm winds carrying into the jungles of the small nation. Ushundi, the capitol city of Bandari, was bustling, busy with work to do, sites to see and lives to be lived. Populated by people who had just recently been freed of endless suffering and impending death, the city was thriving, joyful and alive in the early morning.
People strolled the steps of the capitol building, venturing into the white stone edifice. Over the passageway were engraved in Latin the words, "Acquiritur Discordia", "Acquired by Strife".
On the top floor was the office of Akube Mahatu, President and founder of this nation. Despite his democratic position, many of his people still fondly referred to him as 'King Akube', regardless of how it vexed him. Still, they were simply showing their gratitude. He was beloved, but his popularity came with a price. In the last ten years, countless attempts had been made on his life. Fortunately, the dignified leader of Bandari doubled as its protector. The people of Bandari knew that he was the man behind the mask, but the rest of the world had been lead to believe that the man in black was merely Akube's bodyguard.
Akube worked diligently at his desk until Amala, his adviser, entered, draped in a kaftan, her hair rapped in fine cloth. Akube wore less traditional clothing, a tan short-sleeve dress shirt, a white undershirt, khakis and his bifocal sunglasses. His hat was rested on his desk. He glanced up from his work as he heard her come in. "What is it, Amala?" he asked.
"The Chief of Security is here to speak with you." she replied. Needing no further introduction, in strode a man with arms like trees, chest encased in a thick bulletproof vest. His green cargo pants were tucked into his combat boots and the hair was shaved completely from his head. He eyed Akube with eyes black as coal, yet filled with respect. This was Koba, leader of the nation's security force, an elite group that served in place of a formal military. They were assembled by Akube to compensate for the fact that he couldn't be in two places at once. They protected all of Bandari, and Akube trusted them with his life.
"Greetings, sir." Koba said politely, "I'm afraid some bad news has arisen, and as a matter of security, it seemed fitting that I be the one to tell you."
"Very well, then, Koba, what is the problem?" asked Akube.
"Last night, between midnight and one A.M. by our estimate, the three on-duty border attendants were murdered in their station. The attacker came from outside. I've ordered my people to patrol the borders in case this was the beginning of some form of attack, but no evidence has pointed to that."
"And what do you believe it is, Koba?"
"An attempt on your life, sir. So many assassins have failed, I now believe that they are playing at you psychologically. Of course, outsiders have no idea what you are capable of, and they have not yet learned to fear me." he clenched his gloved hand into a fist as he spoke.
"Stay on high alert, Koba, but don't rouse any panic among the people. I don't want another Burchek Street fiasco."
"Yes, sir." answered Koba, turning to leave just after Amala.
"Koba..." called Akube just as the soldier was about to leave.
"Yes?" he answered, looking over his shoulder before turning to face his leader once again.
"You know how I hate that weapon." said Akube, gesturing with his eyes down at the kukri sheathed at his waist.
"My apologies, sir." Koba replied with a nod, "But my orders are to protect you, to protect Bandari. If I fail in my duties, you may destroy our enemies however you wish."
"Not destroy, Koba." Akube stated firmly, "Never destroy."
"Very well." said Koba, turning once again and walking away, "Stay safe, Mr. Mahatu."
As Koba shut the door behind him, Akube sighed, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. He opened the bottom right drawer of his desk and peered down at the armored shirt he so often called his skin, reached into his pocket and took out the mask he so often called his face. He closed his eyes and thought of his childhood, of the parents he had left behind, the brother who never got a chance to grow up. He remembered everything that brought him to this moment, every memory that cried out for him to keep fighting, that told him there was a purpose to all this madness. The people needed a champion, he needed a persona that could fight back against everything from his past. In the end, everyone needed the man in black more than they needed Akube, even him.