The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 13 - The Riddle of Steel

When the group disembarks at Sharn, T'challa - the hero Black Panther, ruler of the Xen'drik nation of Wakanda, and friend to the Extranormal groups known as The Defenders and the Avengers - awaits them on the dock. His friends, The Avengers, have come up missing following the Defenders' trail in search of the great missing heroes the League, and he hopes to gain information and stick with this new band to possibly aid them, if only a little, in their quest.

T'challa is surprised when the first few of the companions brush past him as if he were standing there, in costume, for his own good. The king is able to get one of the girls to stop and talk to him, but Bennet and Kurt both walk right by, separately, on their ways to see Magnus.

While the Black Panther explains to the remainder of the team that his companions, the Avengers, went missing in search of Dr. Strange and his Defenders, Kurt makes it to Magnus' floating base first and questions the powerful Extranormal about the Conclave that took place before Cyre was destroyed, including who was being held captive, who was there that he doesn't know about, and what the Conclave's purpose was about. Magnus gives guarded, but useful answers, and Kurt - satisfied - leaves, walking out the door as Bennet arrives.

Bennet, in contrast, gives Magnus a status report as to the mission, noting that his companions are not those he might otherwise have chosen. Magnus, in so many words, reminds him that no one would search harder for Xavier than his own students, and that is why things have happened how they have. Bennet then asks Magnus if he might contribute more knowledge to the leads they have thus gained, but Magnus points out that he only knows what has been shared and reiterates again (the last time nudging when the group was in Aundair) that he thinks their best bet is finding the metallurgist that helped construct the component that caused problems at the start of their adventures.

Both having returned to the rest of the group, Bennet and Kurt then hear T'challa's tale, and when the group further discusses their plans, the foreign king offers them a ride aboard his airship to Trolanport, to save them time, since it might be the only aid he will be able to give. The heroes agree and, after informing the captain of the ship they had traveled to Sharn in, make for the tower where the Black Panther's airship is docked.

As they approach the boarding ramp, something slams against the docking tower, shaking the thing slightly. When everyone looks, they discover it to be a young human male, perhaps still under 20 years of age. He slowly picks himself up and wipes his mouth as a hideous purple monstrosity that once was a troll, but has been modified, magically or biologically, to something much more disturbing and dangerous looking. Both exude an air that lets the band know that they are Extranormal, and they leap to engage each other as soon as the purple one lands.

Though neither one of these new arrivals are known to anyone gathered on the docking platform, the youth sports a distinctive 'S' symbol on his clothing, prompting the PCs to jump to his aid, in hopes that he may be able to shed light on the whereabouts of the man who is more well known to wear the symbol - the Super Man.

With the combined might of the heroes, including the Black Panther and this new young man, the purple troll-beast is taken down quickly, and while the group stands about discussing what to do with the thing, guards wearing odd-looking uniforms show up on a large soar-skiff and claim the thing, explaining that it was simply an escapee of a laboratory facility, and will need to be returned to its rightful place. Though dubious to the purpose of this laboratory and its practices, the heroes wish to reach Zilargo soon, and brook no resistance to the guard's right to claim the beast, but stand close with the young man, who has already explained that he, also, had made his escape from a facility sounding similar.

Our heroes board the airship and make for Trolanport, arriving much earlier than anticipated, and T'challa wishes them well and good luck on their quest, excusing himself so that he may return to his nation and his duties. The PCs give thanks and then immediately proceed to the local Cannith Guildhouse, so that they may meet with Irons.

After some awkward exchanges with reception, the group make entrance to a grand workshop, featuring many of House Cannith's greatest wonders, including Warforged titans! On a small workbench just inside the room, Irons is caught off-guard and awkwardly covers up what he is working on, failing to keep the heroes from seeing what, at first, appears to be a Warforged, but the guildsman recognizes some of the heroes and uncovers his work, revealing both visually and verbally, a suit, complete with weaponry and sporting the S-shield of the Super Man, whom Irons explains was his spiritual inspiration for the suit, with Dr. Pym, a former Cannith artificer living near the mountains in Zolanberg, as the technical inspiration.

The heroes are impressed and intrigued, but steer the conversation toward the component and what role he had in its manufacture. The metallurgist tells the band of the alloys used and why they are important, as well as what else he knows about the thing, bringing up Henry Pym again. Before the conversation can go any further, however, the skylight of the workshop hangar is busted open and several figures begin to descend into the area!

Next issue: Hammer Time!

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 7|Wilder 7  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 7|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 2 -Taylor
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Lesser Tiefling Rogue 3/Fighter 3|Totemist 2/Wizard 3/Telflammar Shadowlord 1 - David 
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Human Wizard 6|Ninja 6 - Sam
Connar Kent [Superboy], Kryptonian† 4|Fighter 4 - Paul
T'challa [Black Panther], Catfolk Noble 4|Fighter 4 - Steve
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 3|Fighter 5 - G2

Kryptonian is a race that can be leveled up, based on rules presented in the Savage Species. The chassis for the race was the Astra Deva, with abilities and powers altered to better fit the theme of a hero from Krypton, or a clone thereof, in this case. The Kryptonian may be presented in detail  as a bonus feature when I catch up with action reports.

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