Project Update: New Hero Update — Darkstrife & Painstake
Good morning, Sentinels!
Sorry about the delay in the release of this update — several people here at GTG have tested positive for Covid in the last 24 hours, so we’re making sure everyone is as healthy as possible and prioritizing people over productivity in the short term here, leading to me having to handle some logistical things this morning before posting this update. But I’m here now! Thanks for the patience.
In putting this update together, I realized I should have posted this update tomorrow instead, as the characters in this update were created on April 5th, 2022 — one year ago tomorrow. Oops! Oh well, you’re getting them today, instead!
Darkstrife & Painstake
Zane Sarkar and Akari Okada are an unlikely pair — Akari is a nice, normal girl from Kyoto, Japan, and Zane is an infernal princeling of Æternus! Or, at least, that is how they appear. The truth is far more bizarre than that…
Zane’s mother was trapped in Æternus while she was pregnant, tormented by the demonic denizens of that foul domain. She didn’t know she was pregnant, and the nature of Æternus accelerated that process, causing her unborn child to grow alarmingly rapidly; she gave birth in 9 days, rather than 9 months.
At the same exact time that the first human child ever was born in the realm of Æternus, a demon in Kyoto was destroyed, returning its essence to Æternus, but also spawning a new demon larva, which is left behind on Earth. Due to the unique nature of a new human life coming into existence at the same moment as a new demon, they were linked across realms.
The human boy grew up in Æternus, adopted by the demons as one of their own, and the demon larva imprinted on a human family, shifting its shape to match the toddler it first encountered. Not knowing its true nature, the demon larva grew up as a normal human girl — her adopted parents gave her the name Akari, and she and her adopted sister stayed very close as they got older.
When young Zane reached his teenage years, he longed to visit the human realm. So many of his peers had been given opportunities to bring torment to the material plane, but he’d never left Æternus. It wasn’t fair! Just because he happened to have a human soul, that shouldn’t mean he didn’t get to engage in the Æternal torment that the other demons so enjoyed. He never even felt or used the soul! It just happened to be a circumstance of his birth. So, when he finally got his first opportunity to go on a torment mission, he was shocked to feel a twinge from his soul upon interacting with a teenage girl in Japan.
Akari was shocked by the appearance of this dark-skinned, white-haired, flame-wreathed man before her. More of a boy than a man, on second consideration — his eyes betrayed his uncertainty, even while he gave a clearly rehearsed speech about bringing torment to the human realm. But the closer he moved, the more his eyes waved, and the more Akari felt a stirring from both inside and outside herself. For some reason, this demonic but also human boy was deeply connected to Akari, and she felt a demonic writhing within herself, not unrelated to the strange dark thoughts she worked so hard to dispel.
Akari and Zane interact too many times for their meetings to be pure coincidence, each of them fleeing from the other and from the resulting strange feelings — Zane strived towards darkness and torment, and being near this girl brought a hope and light into him that he’d long ago locked away, while Akari struggled with the darkness inside her, but being near Zane gave her a reason to hope that she might be able to truly banish it. However, with that hope also came knowledge. When she first reverted entirely to her true demon form, it almost eliminated the shreds of her humanity. With Zane’s help, she learned to maintain her preferred form, which Zane helped her with by drawing Æternal power from her. Over time, they realized the depths of their connection, striving to learn the nature of their shared soul and the familial bond between them. They also learned how much Æternus had worked to keep them apart. They fled from their “families”; Zane knew he had to get away from Æternus before it reclaimed its hold on his spirit, and Akari knew the best way to protect her adopted family was for her to be far from them, for now at least.
They are on the run from Æternal forces, hiding their presence from its dread malevolence, but also fighting against its encroachment into the world they call home. Zane is known as Darkstrife, using the Æternal power that he trained his whole life to wield, but drawing it from his sister Akari rather than the realm of Æternus itself. Akari goes by Painstake, taking the pains of the world upon herself, using her connection to a human soul in conjunction with her magical nature to heal, nurture, and control… though when she’s in conflict, she’s never far from unleashing her true demonic form!
Darkstrife and Painstake are the edgiest heroes in the pages of Sentinel Comics, and they’re also the newest heroes to join the ranks of the Sentinels of the Multiverse!
We’ve talked about them a few times in the last year on The Letters Page podcast:
- Episode #208: the creative process episode in which they were created entirely, live on air
- Episode #230: a creative process episode about making up foes for them
- Episode #237: an issue of Justice Comics featuring a notable foe of Darkstrife & Painstake
Darkstrife and Painstake each get their own Hero character card!
But they have one shared deck between them!
In their deck, they have cards with the “Æterna” keyword, pulling power from Akari and/or the dread realm of their origin.
They also have “Soul” cards, which use their joint soul to power their effects.
There are also some… other effects…
Darkstrife & Painstake have a lot of flexibility, given the breadth of their powers, but they’re also vulnerable Heroes. They will depend on each other to stay in the fight, against all odds.
Besides their First Appearance variants, they also have variants from their notable “Soulseekers” story, as well as variants from Disparation stories of when they embraced their Æternal roles.
Thanks for joining us for the penultimate deck-revealing update! Until tomorrow, keep on saving the Multiverse!