Exiles #31 – The Coal Tigress

I don’t know what depths of Marveldom I was exploring where I found an alternate version of the Black Panther that was named the Coal Tiger.  I know it joked about there not being any tigers in Africa.  That just made me think that, because it’s an alternate reality, there could be tigers in Africa.  There could even be a subspecies that was all black the way panthers are an all black subspecies of leopards.

I’ve been sitting on that for a while and I’ve been reading Infinity lately.  Needless to say the lady Black Panther has been an interesting character.  Flawed in many of the same ways as her brother, she also seems noticeably younger and wilder.  It was easy enough to make my idea for a Coal Tiger into a Coal Tigress.  And when I found out she’s running around with Black Knight’s Ebony Blade, much of the story fell in place.  So, here you go, the Coal Tigress, from a world where not only are there tigers in Africa, there are all black ones, too.

Coal Tigress

Shuri

Fighting: AM

Agility: IN

Strength: EX

Endurance: RM

Reason: GD

Intuition: RM

Psyche: EX

Health: 140

Karma: 60

Resources: AM(50)

Popularity: 66

Powers:

Infravision: The Coal Tigress has excellent infravision and can see well on moonless nights. However, she cannot see well in absolute darkness.

Tracking: The Coal Tigress’ keenly honed senses give her Amazing Tracking ability. Outdoors, she can follow a trail up to 12 hours after it was made. In a city environment, the time limit is six hours.

Ebony Blade: The Coal Tigress’ is made of Unearthly strength material, and in her hands it inflicts 20 points Edged damage or 26 points Blunt damage with the flat of the blade. The sword’s anti-magical properties allow it to detect spells and energy as if it were a shield of Unearthly strength, as well as cut through mystic barriers and enchantments as if they were normal materials. It can affect normal energies as a power stunt; the sword can cut through energy barriers, and can deflect non-magical energy. It can also absorb energy blasts, which may be flung back at the assailant as an attack of equal rank. The sword has a blood-curse on it; if the wielder takes a life, she becomes bloodthirsty (Psyche FEAT roll to avoid this.)

Through complete concentration (red Psyche FEAT) the Coal Tigress may summon her sword to her or teleport herself to the sword with CL3000 ability, crossing time and dimensions to do so.

Body Armor: The Coal Tigress wears a full suit of polymer armor that includes Wakandan vibranium woven into it, which provides her with Excellent protection against physical attacks and Good protection against energy attacks.

Talents: In combat, the Coal Tigress uses Martial Arts A, B, C, E, as well as Acrobatics and Tumbling Skills. She has Excellent reason in regard to physics and electronics. Shuri is a weapon specialist with the Ebony Blade (+2CS.)

Contacts: In addition to her membership in the Avengers, the Coal Tigress is a close friend of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Strange. In her youth, she befriended Storm, of the X-Men. In addition to this, she has diplomatic immunity in the United States.

Background: Shuri was the daughter and youngest child of T’Chaka, king of the African nation of Wakanda. When her father was slain by Ulysses Klaw, a lawless American ivory hunter who sought to possess Wakanda’s Vibranium mine, the young Shuri and her brother T’Challa swore vengeance. The two of them succeeded in thwarting Klaw’s raid. T’Challa, as the oldest was then sent off to be educated at the finest schools in Europe and America.

While he was gone, Shuri trained for and underwent the two tests required to become the guardian of the Wakandan people, the Coal Tiger. The first test was to triumph against six of Wakanda’s greatest warriors in unarmed combat. The second was to obtain the secret heart-shaped herb that grants great physical strength and heightened senses.

She completed the tests and donned the mantle of the Coal Tigress, just in time. Klaw returned with a band of super powered mercenaries in tow and only the abilities granted to her by the heart-shaped herb allowed her to narrowly overcome them. Many of them were captured, though Klaw escaped.

One of the mercenaries she captured was Nathan Garrett, the Black Knight. She claimed his Ebony Blade as a trophy.

Possession of this blade took her into a new realm of danger and adventure as she came to the attention of the mystical community. Morgan le Fey attempted to possess her body in the hopes of being reborn in modern times, but between the Ebony Blade and the power of Bast, the cat goddess who protects Wakanda and uses the Coal Tigers as her champions, she was able to fight off the sorceress.

Dr. Strange also recruited her into his Defenders, depending on both her skills and her sword to fend off incursions from mystical attackers. This quest kept her away from Wakanda for months and when she returned, T’Challa had taken over the mantle of Coal Tiger and Klaw was attacking once more.

Klaw was able to overcome T’Challa and the Coal Tigress arrived just as Klaw was about to strike the killing blow. She managed to deflect the attack with her blade but was not able to completely stop it. T’Challa lived but was crippled by the assault.

Shuri was infuriated by her failure and Klaw’s audacity and she struck him down, little knowing of the Ebony Blade’s curse. Killing someone with the blade instilled a magical bloodlust in the Coal Tigress.

As queen of Wakanda, she led her nation on a much more aggressive path than they had undertaken in the past. She began to lead her people in conquest of many of the surrounding nations, beginning with those who had threatened or tried to invade Wakanda in the past. Soon, the tiny hidden nation had occupied a significant portion of the African continent.

This brought the Coal Tigress and her nation to the attention of the international community but assistance came from an unexpected source. Two, actually. Victor von Doom and Namor, seeing something of a kindred spirit in the rogue leader of Wakanda offered her alliances. Prideful as she was, Shuri recognized that her nation could not stand alone and accepted.

Dr. Doom provided legions of doombots to bolster Wakanda’s military while Namor provided unquestioned dominance of the oceans and the use of some of the gargantuan creatures of the deep. In return, Shuri exported supplies of her nation’s precious vibranium to both rulers as well as training their organic warriors in Wakanda battle techniques.

With their combined abilities and the power of their nations behind them, Wakanda, Latveria and Atlantis slowly began to literally take over the world. In a surprising display of understanding and putting aside of pride between the three of them, and after a great deal of negotiations, it was decided that Doom would claim Europe, Asia and North America while Shuri would claim Africa, Australia, South America and Antartica, including the Savage Land. This gave her access to an entirely different form of vibranium, one which she quickly set her nation’s scientists to researching and incorporating into their technology. She also used it as a personal safari ground, going there to hunt the dangerous prey there as a form of relaxation.

Namor neither desired, nor requested any surface lands though he garnered an agreement from them both that they would not impinge on his undersea realms and that they would stop the pollution of the oceans by the lands they conquered.

Namor and Shuri also found themselves attracted to each other and began a romantic relationship, though a rocky one, at best.

It was not long until they had conquered the entire world except for North America, which only held them back because of the unusual number of superhumans in residence there. They had massed their forces for an assault on New York, the hub of this superhuman activity.

Before they could start their attack, the Exiles arrived to bolster the defenses. Even this addition would have hardly shifted the balance but, alongside the Exiles, the Sorceress Supreme of Otherworld, Lady le Fey entered the Coal Tigress’ dimension.

She had sensed the corruption of the Ebony Blade in this dimension and sought to cleanse it. She did not go to Shuri, though. Instead, she visited T’Challa, offering him the chance to redeem his sister.

T’Challa, who had always blamed himself for not taking the mantle of the Coal Tiger himself and saving Shuri from a life of strife, agreed. Morgan called upon the power of Bast, the patron of the Coal Tigers and healed T’Challa’s injuries and imbued him with the power of the Coal Tiger.

She then took him to New York to face his sister. T’Challa tried to reason with Shuri but the curse of the Ebony Blade was too powerful and it drove her to attack him. Their battle was heated but T’Challa really had no chance of victory. Shuri had years of experience on him and he was trying not to seriously injure her.

She seriously injured him but when the moment came to finish him off, she found that she couldn’t. Her psychic conflict over killing her brother was enough to break the blood curse and she abruptly came to her senses. She swore then and there never to kill again.

Horrified by the bloodshed she had caused, she immediately called for the withdrawal of the Wakandan forces from the attack. Not a few of them refused, especially as the Latverians continued their assault.

Shuri appealed to Namor, however. The King of Atlantis had begun having second thoughts as well, his fury toward the surface world cooling in the face of the suffering caused by him and his companions.

He, too, ordered his forces to withdraw. Doom, not one to take betrayal lightly and with his usual foresight activated his failsafe. His doombots turned on the Wakandans and Atlanteans and all of the technology that he had provided them self-destructed, often killing its users.

Coal Tigress, Namor the Sea Scourge and the Exiles struck straight at the heart of Doom, assaulting him in his Latverian stronghold. Doom was able to subdue Namor quickly, having prepared for just such an occurrence and setting up a number of traps that would dehydrate the monarch of the seas.

He had much more trouble with Coal Tigress and the Exiles. After breaking her curse, Shuri’s fighting style became much more controlled and less savage and the traps Doom had set up depended on her weakness and desire for blood. The Exiles were, of course, complete wild cards.

Again, the Coal Tigress found an opponent at her mercy and, though Doom deserved her revenge as much as anyone, she remembered her vow and spared him. Namor was revived but in the confusion involved, Doom escaped.

Though Shuri felt an obligation to remain and undo the wrongs she’d done, she was also extremely ashamed of her actions and felt a duty to repay Lady le Fay for freeing her from the curse. T’Challa, who had been healed by the powers of the Heart Shaped Herb, reassured Shuri that he would lead Wakanda in her absence and Namor promised her that he would ally with her brother to stop Doom’s advance on the world.

Believing that she could better atone for her sins with the Exiles, she left her home dimension with them, joining their ranks. She serves particularly as an agent for Lady le Fey when she needs tasks done in the mystical realms.

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