The Setting

  Earth, circa 2200 C.E. Mankind has continued to advance and prosper, technology has flourished, etc. Burgeoning urban population has necessitated the construction of ever larger structures for residence and commerce, but by and large the world has shrunk due to increasingly advanced communication and transportation technologies. This progress has come with numerous costs, however. As traditional mines dried up, mankind was forced to dig up old scrapyards and landfills to mine for raw materials. As such, Junk Mines have become an integral part of the economy. Additionally, despite all of mankind's ingenuity, there came a point at which making technology smaller and more powerful simply could not be done without drastic increases in cost. While large corporations can afford new computers, robots, vehicles and the like, most individuals and families now rely on refurbished technology from as far back as the 22nd and 21st centuries, patched up with more recent hardware to better serve its original purpose.

The Cast


Full Name: David Farrence
Age: 20
  The primary character, if SED has such, Dave took up running his own electronics repair and refurbishment shop straight out of high school and has been running it more or less sustainably for a few years. When business gets slow, he will often sneak into nearby junk mines and abscond with whatever looks interesting to patch up and resell. He generally lives day-by-day, if not hour-by-hour, and has more than once found himself in the middle of an unexpected adventure. While he knows his way around nearly any machine, this aversion to long-term planning and careful consideration causes some of his work to behave otherwise than initially intended. It also compounds the relative ease with which he can be distracted, especially if the distraction happens to be humanoid and top-heavy. After living alone for so long, Dave is still adjusting to having multiple people around 24/7.


Designation: PolyCorp / LaborTek Q-series mechanic unit #808
Hardware age: 12
Software age: 72
Emulated personality age: nan
  One of Dave's biggest finds yet. A LaborTek Q-series maintenance robot, his serial number 808 was mistaken for 'BOB' when first read on his lo-res display, and the name stuck. Trashed by PolyCorp when his AI began failing , Q-BOB has his quirks, (frequently,) but when he can be focused, he retains nearly all his mechanic skills. A cybernetic pocketknife, he can extend arms equipped with or fit to use any tool or device with some conceivable application to electromechanical work. The eccentricity of his nature is counterbalanced by over half a century of accumulated experience. Thus, surprising and disturbing as it may be, he is routinely found in the role of cool, responsible anchor to Dave's spontaneity and Radix's emotional breakdowns.


Designation: PolyCorp / LaborTek 'Radix' 3600 series combat trainer unit #5
Hardware age: 10
Software age: 10
Emulated personality age: 20-25
  Found shortly after Q-BOB and repaired largely by his hand, Radix is a LaborTek Radix 3600 series Hologramatic Combat Training Unit with enhanced humanoid AI whom Dave named, as with Q-BOB, based on a small portion of her model ID taken out of context. The 3600 series was the last to have humanoid AI, as it was the first series to have humanoid AI that really worked. Many 3600s, thinking like humans but being forced to fight continuously, became increasingly psychotic until they had to be deactivated by force. The ones that didn't were largely unsuited to combat in the first place. Radix somehow avoided both fates, being discarded only after a demonstration Radix 3720 unit bested her in combat. Now thoroughly abandoned by PolyCorp, Radix's sadistically firtatious habits around male mechanics have slowly given way to a richer, if somewhat less confident personality as she adapts to living as a 'human' alongside Dave & company.


Full Name: Sera Takahashi
Age: 22
  A girl gearhead from the 20th century, Sera fell through a small time portal generated by an experimental PolyCorp machine Dave decided to fiddle with. Sera, then in her senior year of a mechanical engineering major focused on small-scale mechanisms with a dose of robotics, has been sufficiently enticed by her exposure to the future to, at least temporarily, forget her former life. With an outgoing, independent personality masking a small but fierce irresponsible streak, Sera will gladly take the lead in any adventure that strikes her. She has made numerous attempts already to ply her wit against Dave's and prove that being archaic doesn't make her any less intelligent or cultured. It would probably help somewhat if Dave actually noticed. For the curious, Sera is a quarter Japanese on her father's side, and has picked up the family name, culture, and to her annoyance, body type, even while the rest of her appearance is generally Arian.


Full Name: Gerald "Shortcircuit" Bradford
Age: 20
  Gerald and Dave go waaay back. Dissatisfied with his given name, Gerald now answers equally to 'Ger' and 'Shortcircuit' (or 'Shorty' if he knows you), a nickname resultant from his early days with Dave spent reverse-engineering their household appliances. While equally interested in obscure and complicated technology, the Format C: retrotech rock band, and generally getting himself into trouble, Ger has mellowed somewhat since high school and landed a steady job with TIE, which he still holds over Dave's head. Nonetheless, Dave tends to bring out the worst in Ger when they're together, and he usually returns the favor.


Full Name: Michaelangelo T. Hemmingway
Age: 33
  Mike is curiously sensitive about his name and origins, preferring to go by his full title no matter how many nicknames people come up with to shorten it. Formerly employed by PolyCorp, Mike's fast-and-loose attitude combined with his uncanny technical aptitude for his age led 'Corp to believe he was secretly trained by and working for TIE. While it is true that Mike covertly played with various pieces of 'Corp technology, including fixing the personality bug in the 3600 trainer series without notifying the proper bureaucracy, he did not actually join TIE until fired by 'Corp. Once scouted by TIE, Mike's talent and history quickly landed him the lead position at TIE's Sector 12 facility.


Full Name: Rebecca Hemmingway
Age: 21
  Sera's best friend and roommate in college. Initially, Reb was able to find solace from her troubled past in Sera's open and progressive personality, and Sera was just happy to have someone who wasn't alienated by her straight-A academic record. While bright, Reb prefers to coast on a B+ and enjoy life in college rather than spending all her time going the extra mile for an A. Openly lesbian, she is currently the head of OpenGLBT, Alma Tech's alternative lifestyle student organization, which she does more work for than she'd ever admit to. Her relationship with Sera, however, remains respectfully platonic (except for that one time...). In fact, while drinking off a particularly harsh rejection some months back, Reb finally met the woman she hopes to marry after graduation.


Full Name: Christine Remara
Age: 22
  Chris graduated from Mater's History & Anthropology school in '03 and has stayed in the area, pursuing a part-time Master's degree while working out what to do with the rest of her life. Her deteriorating health put a crimp on her mobility and career choice, but her confidence, attitude, and lingering kinesthetic sense speak to a lifestyle she refuses to abandon completely. Chris never really considered gender a defining aspect of her identity, and after dating a few guys, and a few girls, hit things off amazingly with Reb and proposed a few months later.


  The Polycentric Technology Corporation, shortened in all but the uppermost echelons of its own management structure to PolyCorp, and referred to on the street simply as 'Corp. PolyCorp is a giant, and allegedly highly corrupt entity formed from the merger of nearly every major electronics and mechanics company of the past century. Since reaping the profits from increasingly expensive technology, PolyCorp has bought out numerous other sectors of commerce and turned itself into an international force capable of driving most governments, should it choose to. While a few small technology firms still exist, and TIE is proving an increasingly painful thorn, PolyCorp's market dominance is unlikely to give way any time soon.
  LaborTek, one of the original divisions of PolyCorp, is the world's primary robotics manufacturer, the creator of both Q-BOB and Radix.


  The Independent Element, is a growing "underground" organization working to keep PolyCorp from monopolizing all aspects of technology and daily life. While they hold a secretive, "underground" mentality, TIE is in fact a large, privately traded company doing legitimate business on the open market. After refusing on multiple occasions to be bought out by PolyCorp, TIE has been blacklisted by the powerhouse, which now takes every possible opportunity to marginalize and villify the obstinately nonconformist "Element." Neither company openly admits the extent of its operations against the other, but it is rumored the upper management of both companies are now engaged in a fierce personal rivalry which only gets deeper the more global sway PolyCorp earns and the more dirty little 'Corp secrets TIE uncovers.

Sentient Machines

  It should be apparent from early in the comic that mankind has developed technology capable of giving a computer entity an intelligent, self-aware, and indeed very humanlike personality. Such sentient machines have naturally sparked computer rights debates and an entire legal code dedicated to defining robots' place in society. In a nutshell, the Sentient Constructs Rights Ammendment says the following:
- Every new construct, and every construct with new adjustments to its AI, must be made aware, to the extent possible, of its right to take a sentience examination.
- Any construct passing the sentience examination has rights roughly equivalent to humans in society.
- Thus, if a sentient construct wishes, it may leave the employ of its original designer/owner and seek other employments or 'lifestyles.'
- To avoid large numbers of sentient constructs being forced into being only to have no way to sustain themselves, however, any sentient construct who wishes to remain with its original/intended employer must, barring severe misconduct, be granted total job security, including a certain level of maintenance support and upgrades to any new hardware obtained by the employer which would threaten its job, at least until such a time as its hardware is rendered inoperable.
Most sentient machines, in particular ones designed for a specific task, gladly stay on with their original owners and employers rather than taking on the uncertainty of finding another job suiting their design or risking breaking down with no way to arrange repairs. A few, however, do succeed in finding other employment, and some of the most humanoid models even integrate themselves into the mainstream human workforce.

Radix as a sentient machine: Radix faces a rare connundrum as a battle trainer with humanoid AI. She passed her sentience exam with flying colors, as did all 3600s in the model's brief 20-unit production run. However, because high-end hologramatic battle trainers are naturally dangerous, they cannot be owned, operated or employed by anyone without a proper permit. The options of a sentient 3600 are thus severely limited- if she does not stay with her original employer, she must track down one of a very few individuals with a permit and hope he or she is willing to take on a new unit or else stay unemployed and with no resources until failure of her high-precision low-tolerance hologramatic system renders her useless. Complicating matters is the fact that the 'normal operation' defined for a battle trainer includes taking substantial, even terminal damage from trainees, and the SCRA only guarantees repairs and support until parts failure during 'normal operation.' When 3600 units, the first sentient hologrammatic battle trainers, started going berserk, PolyCorp was quick to latch onto this peculiar conjunction of circumstances and loopholes as a way to disable units at will. 3600 units #5 and #17, however, were the only two to be so disabled without other justification, and of those two, #5, Radix, was the only one to survive in reparable condition.

Q-Bob as a sentient machine: Q-Bob took the SCRA to its limit. Originating as simply the work history and parts database of LaborTek mechanic C-808, his first sentient personality was installed in transfer to D-series hardware. Since then, he has had himself transferred through nearly every model between the D- and Q-series, with all necessary tweaks and ports along the way. It is worth noting that the average model run for a LaborTek mechanic unit is 5 years. Q-Bob was finally deemed unusable due to personality quirks acrued over 12 hardware transfers and 65 years of near-continuous software operation. Fighting the pink slip every step of the way, one uncoordinated outburst hit a nearby worker, giving 'Corp all the excuse they needed to disable and scrap him.