- The Presters are not infallible. Only I can be trusted to protect the Concordance Engines. Pontus was but the first. The Death Celestials will return. And Earth must be ready at all costs. Without the Engines, the universe itself will break. I am sorry... Goodbye.
Appearing in 1st story
- Black Panther (Shuri)
- Council of Antiquarians
- Prince of Orphans (John Aman) (Main story and flashback)
- Black Panther (T'Challa) (Mentioned)
- Protectors of the Engines
- Len MacKenzie (Only in flashback)
- Fen, Atlantean War-Princess (Only in flashback)
- Nemo, the Rogue Captain (Only in flashback)
- Ivar, the Strong (Only in flashback)
- Orissa Kravinov, the Aviatrix (Only in flashback)
- Farraday Bobbs, the Writer (Only in flashback)
- Musidora, the Thief (Only in flashback)
- Judex, the Shadow (Only in flashback)
- Death Celestials (Mentioned)
- Pontus (Mentioned)
- Queely Family Airship
Synopsis for 1st story
Black Cat infiltrates Z'Gambo but is caught almost instantly by John Aman, the Prince of Orphans. As he is about to take her life, he senses the approach of the Defenders, arriving from Wakanda in a desperate bid to neutralize Aman and prevent the two micronations from going to war. Aman releases Black Cat and heads off to deal with them.
The Defenders, particularly Iron Fist, are alarmed to see that Z'Gambo is nothing but bones. Aman appears and confronts them. In the meantime, Black Cat recovers and makes her way to Aman's cave of treasures at the center of Z'Gambo. She pockets a few things with glee before noticing the Defenders fighting below.
Cursing the Defenders for their ignorance, Aman holds off their attacks with ease. Black Cat intervenes to rescue Doctor Strange, but she quickly falls as Aman uses a poisonous attack intended to murder them all. Silver Surfer, who does not need to breathe, is immune, and he fires a cosmic blast which temporarily incapacitates Aman.
Over Paris, the Defenders meet the Council of Antiquarians in their airship and compare notes. The Council has apparently taken possession of all of Aman's treasures, though the man himself (contained in a purple bubble) will be sent to Wakanda as a prisoner. Strange tentatively broaches the subject of Concordance Engines, of which the Council appear to have some knowledge, but then Black Cat interrupts with the third Brass Frog.
The three Frogs, united, reveal the power of a Concordance Engine. Aman, seeing it, smiles and remembers his time with a special band of nine people who devoted their lives to protecting the Engines. Once, on the run from a Death Celestial, he hid an Engine in the form of three Frogs, modeled after those in a terrarium he used to enjoy on Captain Nemo's ship. Now reassembled, the Engine's power frees Aman from his bubble and bursts the heads of the Council of Antiquarians.
Aman tells the Defenders and Black Cat that he must guard the Engines in order to save the universe. He then apologizes and erases them from existence.
• INTO Z’GAMBO to face the menace of John Aman, Prince of Orphans!
• What secret is Aman hiding worth killing so many for so long? What is he protecting?
• And just HOW is the BLACK CAT going to STEAL IT?
- This issue is reprinted in the trade Defenders by Matt Fraction, Vol. 2.
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