A short time ago, the entity now calling herself Ahra was a minor superahra serving Paragon City in the Rikti War Zone's training facility. She, like most of the other heroes, had assumed that since the Rikti had been effectively fought off in several invasion attempts, they were no longer a major threat to the city's safety. She, and all the others, were tragically wrong.
The drop ships came in the middle of the night, invading suburb and urban locale alike, forcing heroes down crowded streets full of sleep-muddled citizens. Ahra, flying high above the streets, used her illusions and thermal radiation powers to try to confuse and drive back the Rikti, and for a few minutes it seemed that her efforts were working. She flew up higher to evade Rikti rifle fire from the ground, planning to change her tactics and attack the group from another angle; she did not see the descending Rikti drop ship until it was too late.
Ahra was hit and nearly divided in half by the sharp hull of the Rikti drop ship. Thanks to the combined teams of heroic and civilian healers, her body was able to be stitched back together, but doctors and Empaths alike feared that she would never regain consciousness. None of them could know the grand journey she was taking behind her closed eyelids.
To Ahra, it seemed that one moment she was starting to fly farther upwards, and the next, she was hovering in a cloud of palest pink, facing a vaguely humanoid shape made almost entirely of light, except for the eyes—a most unsettling and yet beautiful shade of sky blue.
This light-being spoke, and its rich, lovely contralto voice seemed to be resonating between her ears instead of in the physical space. "Have you decided, my child?"
"Decided what?" Ahra was confused. What was there to decide about? Rikti were here--they had to be stopped before they took the very buildings of Paragon City to pieces with their lasers!
"No need to worry about the Rikti, by the way," said the light-being. "They have been repelled, thanks in part to your sacrifice."
"Uh...what do you mean by 'sacrifice,' exactly?"
"For all intents and purposes, you are technically dead, my child. You were hit by a Rikti drop ship, and have been in a deep coma for nearly three months. But you helped cripple the drop ship, and the fireworks diverted the aliens long enough for several teams of heroes to rise up and overtake the invasion forces. There are no more Rikti in the skies for now."
Two forces of emotion tore at Ahra: jubilation for the successful repulsion of Rikti, and horror at discovering her own fate. How could she be the last to know she was dead?
After a few moments to regain composure, Ahra spoke. "So this is heaven?"
The light-being laughed melodiously. "No, no, my child. You are simply here with me, while I await your decision on whether you wish to be returned to life."
Ahra felt as if her jaw would unhinge itself. "You can DO that?"
"Yes." The light-being sounded as if the question need not have been asked. "But in order to do so, I need your cooperation. You see, I am part of an alien race, myself--the Kheldians. We are simply spirits...that is, until a regular superhero becomes available to us through crises, epiphanies, or near-death experiences, as you have. With the hero's permission, we infuse them with new life, and infuse them with our spirit and memories as well. We Kheldians, as part of the bargain, become physical beings with the help of superahraes just like yourself, and the superahraes we fuse with gain a totally new life."
As good as this sounded, at least on the surface, Ahra still had quite a few doubts. "So...I'll cease to exist and you'll take over my body. Is that right?"
The light-being appeared to shake its head. "No; you will gain my spirit and my memories, and they will be incorporated. You will still be yourself, just...shall we say, enhanced. There are two types of Kheldian spirits in this world; I am the type called a Peacebringer, born to protect the light. You will become part of our ranks if you decide to join us. And remember, you will be given back your life--you will be stronger than ever, with totally new powers. A gift from me, if you will."
Ahra wanted to live, desperately wanted to continue helping the city she loved. As nervous as she was happy, she nodded. "I accept."
The light-being came toward her. "What will be your new name, then, my child?"
"My new name?"
"You'll need a new identity--you are no longer a simple Controller, remember. What will be your new heroic name?"
She thought for a few moments, and smiled. "My name will be Ahra, like the word for dawn."
The last thing the newly christened hero remembered were her eyes being flooded with light, and then she awoke in the hospital bed, with her eyes glowing a strange, radiant blue.
Since her profound rebirth, Ahra has continued to protect Paragon City, albeit with a new set of light-based powers and a set of memories she vaguely knows are not her own. This does not trouble her as much as it used to; since the first moment she awoke, she knew her new fate would take her much farther than anyone could have ever expected from the little Controller who nearly died in the skies over Boomtown that autumn night.
I knew I wanted to create a Peacebringer character even when I began playing the game in early 2009, so when the time came that I was eligible to create one, I had already been turning the idea over in my head for some months. I knew just what I wanted her backstory to be.
Ahra exists as an honor to one of my best friends in high school, who suffered a side-impact car accident in 2005 that crushed her hips. Through sheer force of will (and lots of prayers), she recovered completely and regained the ability to walk, though she still has some pain from the healed injuries. The accident changed her in some ways--the energetic, wacky and fun girl I knew in high school gained a sort of serenity about life in general, and she has used it for positive change in other people's lives as well. What better inspiration for my fictional Peacebringer than this, the story of a real Peacebringer?
As intimated in Ahra's origin story, her name comes from the word "aurora" (as well as the word "aura"). I wanted her name to sound similar to the word for "dawn" because the Peacebringer's powers are based on light, and what light is more glorious than dawn light? Also, it is symbolic based on what Ahra went through in her origin story--a tragedy that cast her into darkness led to a new life, and new light.
Ahra can transform into both of the other Kheldian forms (the Nova form, also known as the "squid", and the Dwarf form, also known as the "lobster"). With this ability, she can be either a high-powered gun turret, an interesting Blaster/Scrapper combo, or an almost-Tank. Yet she's also a little team support, with her Medicine power pool.
As a character, I have been able to imagine Ahra's voice as I haven't been able to with many of my other ahraes. She is so definitely a genteel "Southern belle" in my mind that I can't imagine her speaking in any other accent. Random fact!