Shanhara

The third and last character appearing in the first episode of Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe is actually someone we already saw, albeit not on its own. The first time we see Aric answering to the MI6‘s call he’s accompanied by a floating sphere, that when touched becomes his armor. The sphere/armor is actually a sentient alien being, the other half of the superhero X-O Manowar, and goes by the name Shanhara. In the rebooted continuity, we learnt more of the alien suit’s origins, and it turned out she hadn’t always been that shiny and mighty. Let’s see together.

At the beginning, the Shanhara Armor was Shanhara the little girl, and she was born on a distant planet named Gennin. When she was still a child, Shanhara contracted a lethal bone disease that would have killed her in a matter of years. The girl’s father was one of the greatest scientists on Gennin, and he dedicated all his skills and intelligence to solve his daughter’s problem. Eventually, he created an armor that was the perfect synthesis between organic and artificial, a plant-tech hybrid meant to stabilize Shanhara’s conditions and heal her disease. Unfortunately, the armor did much more than that: it bonded with her on a molecular level, and started overruling the girl’s body. Unable to reverse the process, her father put Shanhara on suspended animation, and worked for decades on a possible solution… only, there were none. He woke his daughter up, telling her to let herself go: the armor completely absorbed her body, but her conscience still lived within it. To keep Shanhara safe, perfectly aware that many on Gennin would have tried to exploit the armor’s offensive and defensive abilities, the man sent her to another planet, Loam, inhabited by insectoids known as the Vine. Here, the Shanhara armor became object of legends, and the Vine even started a religion revolving around her. Time passed, and Shanhara stayed quiet and dormant.

According to the Vine’s religion, Shanhara was a gift from the gods sent to them to make their people strong and free: their sacred texts recalled a legendary hero known only as the Sole Wanderer who had received the armor from a sacred tree, the Hara Vine, and donned it to free the Vine from their enemies, the Torment. Millennia had passed since then, and the Vine were still waiting for another worthy warrior who could don the armor: everybody who had tried, in fact, had been mauled by Shanhara, who didn’t want to bond with them. While awaiting for their champion, the Vine became a people of warlords and slavers in turn, and caught many races under their dominion, collecting slaves from primitive worlds. As Shanhara was being transported in a shrine on a battleship to be led to the new warrior claiming the honor of wearing her, a human slave from Earth, a Visigoth named Aric, started a riot on board. Followed by the Vine and cornered, looking for the means to repel his enemies, Aric ended up wearing Shanhara… and the armor allowed it, choosing him as her new host. Shanhara (whom, oblivious to her story and true nature, Aric simply called Good Skin) helped Aric defeat the Vine and escape the warship, and much to their surprise, the Vine started worship him as their new champion and savior. After changing the Vine’s government into a juster one, Aric and Shanhara came back to Earth, where the two of them, known collectively as X-O Manowar, became one of the most powerful heroes on the planet. Aric’s barbarian nature, however, soon led him to do some things that weren’t exactly up to his state of “worthy” of wearing the armor, and Shanhara had to make decisions…

Shanhara is a girl doomed to live with her conscience bonded to a techno-organic suit, but she exerts enough control to be the one who decides who’s worthy of wearing her and who isn’t. As the X-O suit, she’s virtually indestructible, she can fly, she can interface with other electronic devices and with the brain of the user, and she can modify her appearance at will; she also grants several abilities to the user, including flight, superhuman strength and durability, energy projection, invisibility and enhanced visual spectrum; she instantly translates every language she hears to the user’s brain, and she also provides him or her with extensive knowledge over science, history, engineering and everything else is needed; she also heals the user’s wounds. A sentient weapon like the universe has never seen before, Shanhara seeks to change the galaxy for the better with her abilities, but to achieve that, she has to make sure that the one she chooses to be her wearer always uses her for worthy and noble purposes.

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