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  • About the Author
  • About the Comic
  • Krek
  • MechaSentients
  • Nissimgrai
  • Rah'li
  • Thilsh
  • Humans
    Politics & Geography
  • The Core Systems
  • The Fringe Systems
  • Planetary Chart
  • The Chit
  • Space Travel

  • Beyond the 4th Wall

    The Author
         I've always heard it's polite to introduce yourself, but it seems a little odd doing so with a pseudonym. No, "Kieve R. Svetnikov" is not my actual name - would that I were so interesting. But it's my universal online alias, and one I've been using for quite some time.

         On- or off-line, I'm your average twenty-something caucasian male with an excess of creativity and a distressing lack of focus that makes seeing those little creations through to completion a little difficult. In some ways, starting MechaSentient is a stress-test of my attention span - I've got a LOT of story to tell, and it won't happen overnight. (Also, since I began colorizing my strips, they've taken considerably longer to do). I'm not one of those wretched souls who feels a need to inform the world of every excruciating detail in my personal life, so if you really want to know specifics about me, your best bet is to use the contact info on the main page and ask me directly.

         That said, I encourage you to, because I enjoy meeting new people. ...that, and it'd be nice to know someone's actually reading this.

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    The Comic
         MechaSentient began as one of those niggling little ideas that wouldn't go away. I've been reading various webcomics for a while, and I have more than a few of my own characters that I draw regularly. So, when I decided I was going to buckle down and start my own comic, I didn't use any of them.

         Well, that's not entirely true. Rivet, Rachet, and Frank appeared in a trio of stupid "doodle-bot" comics I drew at work a while ago. They were mildly amusing, and given the world I was creating I figured they'd fit right in. I don't know if Sy would agree with me on that.

         MechaSentient takes place in an "alternate universe" future - which is to say, not only does it happen four centuries from now, but that none of the locations, names, or events are meant to correspond with our current knowledge of space. Also, I'm too lazy to go digging through NASA's star-charts to keep my settings technically accurate.

         My main goal with MechaSentient is to tell a story. I like to have an element of cynical humor in things, so you'll see that crop up repeatedly, but overall MS isn't meant to be a "funny" comic, but a tale told in a graphical medium. My secondary goal is to improve my art skills - I particularly enjoy the challenge of putting recognizeable expressions on alien features (such as Sy's single eye and mouth-vents).

         I'm also one of those weirdos who prefers to have an established setting to work from, which is why the rest of this "About" section is devoted to background details about the fictional universe of MS. As things unfold in the comic, you can expect these sections to grow as well. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to raise your hand.

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    Racial Profile: Krek
    Homeworld: Ashkrist
    Language: Krekken
    Society: Utopian Socialism
    The Krek are the original spacefaring race of the Systems. Though little is known or documented about their homeworld or its society, their relations with other races has invariably been diplomatic and peaceful. Popular belief states that the Krek have reached a utopian plateu on Ashkrist, with no further ambition but the need to expand outward and extend their influence. This is best seen in their initial encounter with the Thilsh, and the subsequent restructuring of their timeline.

         After establishing contact with Tiestro, the SSC dating system was adopted by both races, continuing in the same pattern five cycles later when the Krek welcomed the Nissimgrai into space and set about establishing the Core Systems Collective, a centralized government to help regulate the expansion and colonization of planetary systems. Though the Krek generally play a mediating role in the Collective, they are not without backbone.

         Despite the Nissimgrai penchant for reverse-engineering, Krek energy weapons are known to be the most effective in the whole of the Systems. This raises some questions as to why such a benevolent race posesses such deadly technology, but the Krek have always insisted such devices are for defense and protection only - to this day, there is no recorded instance of Krek employing their weapons offensively.

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    Racial Profile: MechaSentients
    MechaSentients ("Meksen")
    Homeworld: (None)
    Language: Binary
    Society: (Various)
    Core-1, The First Generation - The first MechaSentients appeared aboard Krek vessels in 122-ssc, as piloting and navigation assistants. Originally, they were classed as intelligent hardware and regarded as no more than a piece of advanced equipment. Whether by accident or design, however, the Krek programmers had out-done themselves. After only one or two cycle's worth of operation, a Core-1's learning algorithm brought it to the point of being self-aware, often creating conflicts within its internal systems as it gained a perception of "self." As the creation of Core-1's advanced, new coding was introduced which helped minimize these problems. Most Krek found the Core-1's "semblance of life" lacking, however.

    Core-2, The Emotional Wreck - The second generation of MechaSentient, the Core-2, began around 185-ssc. Cycles of research and study were pooled into the creation of a synthetic companion whose base intelligence was on par with other sentient life. They were redesigned to be more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing than the bulky Core-1, with upgraded memory banks and more articulated joints. The Core-2 was put through rigorous tests, and entered production in late 201-ssc. Unfortunately, for all their focus on intelligence, the Core-2's designers had neglected to account for its emotional responses. Early Core-2 MechaSentients suffered from a host of emotional disorders, rapid mood-swings, bipolar issues, and many experienced at least one nervous breakdown within their first quarter-cycle of operation.

         All emotional programming for the Core-2 generation was disabled, and the code completely erased for meksens constructed after 203-ssc. This did not stop the bad press from spreading, however, and even up to the current time, Core-2 meksens are generally regarded as being basket-cases. After the creation of the Core-3 line in 253-ssc, construction of Core-2 meksens was phased out, ceasing altogether in 263-ssc.

    Core-3, The Foreign Prodigy - Despite the Core-2's emotional instability, the Krek and Thilsh were quite pleased with the existance of their mechanical compatriots. However, the Nissimgrai have forever sought a technological edge over everything else, and so turned their attention to the Core-2 line and all of its deficiencies. By 253-ssc, they had successfully reprogrammed a Core-2 with emotionally-stable coding, applying their own sense of visual aesthetic to their subject in the process. The news that a MechaSentient could behave as naturally and amiably as an organic sentient came as a bit of a shock to the Core Systems, and in less than a decade, the Nissimgrai had sold the secrets of the Core-3 to meksen production centers across the Systems.

         MechaSentients were officially granted full "Sentient" status in 219-ssc, and today an equal mix of all three generations can be found throughout the Systems, going about their daily lives alongside their organic counterparts. While they are recognized as citizens within the Core Systems Collective, they do not constitute a significant portion of the populace and have not made any attempt at a centralized society.

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    Racial Profile: Nissimgrai
    Nissimgrai ("Grai")
    Homeworld: Nissa
    Language: SSL
    Society: Capitalist Republic
    Nissimgrai are by nature territorial and self-serving. They will rarely do anything without personal gain, and can be exceptionally unscrupulous in their dealings "if the price is right." Under these circumstances, it is remarkable that the Krek were able to convince them peacefully to join in forming the Core Systems Collective and adopt an SSC timeline. However, overpopulation had become a critical factor for the Nissimgrai in the cycles prior to Krek arrival, and the promise of new planets for colonization and Transplacement Drive technology was likely all the convincing the Grai needed.

         The Nissimgrai have a talent for reverse-engineering existing technology and improving upon it, a feat which has put them in fierce competition with non-Grai manufacturers in nearly every market. After gaining inter-system jump capabilities, they have expanded outward at an alarming rate, colonizing and industrializing worlds throughout the Systems - currently, they control nearly 20% more territory than either the Krek or Thilsh, with that margin growing every cycle.


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    Racial Profile: Rah'li
    Homeworld: (None)
    Language: SSL
    Society: (None)
    The Rah'li have been a part of Nissimgrai society for the entirety of documented 'Grai history. Genetically engineered and grown in bio-acceleration canisters, they were originally born of a need for inexpensive labor. With the inclusion of Nissimgrai into Systems culture however, the 'Grai soon found it was more cost-effective to hire Thilsh workers for their heavy labor. For several cycles, the population of Rah'li fell into serious decline, as their relatively short life-spans and harsh living conditions were no longer offset by new "crops."

         In 38-ssc, an enterprising biogen facility took a second look at the genome of Rah'li being grown and began modifying it to a new standard. They extended the lifespan of Rah'li while making them more physically pleasing to the other races of the Systems, and further emphasized the subservient conditioning during the growing cycle. The end result was a companion similar in many aspects to early MechaSentients, though the Nissimgrai took several steps to ensure that Rah'li would not grow as self-aware and independant as the Core-1's had.

         The new Rah'li were marketed as a hybrid of pet and caretaker, ideal companions for the young of all races as well as those in need of company in the quieter reaches of the Systems. Today's Rah'li have an expected lifespan of approximatley 50 cycles, and are especially prevelant in upper-class areas and Fringe worlds. Due to their limited learning capacity and genetic conditioning, they remain classified as "non-sentient" and are regarded as personal property.

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    Racial Profile: Thilsh
    Homeworld: Tiestro
    Language: Thillish, SSL
    Society: Theocratic
    The Thilsh homeworld of Tiestro is a humid, nitrogen-rich planet frequently engulfed by heavy fog or rain. These wet conditions make most forms of industry exceptionally difficult, as ferrous metals rapidly oxidize and corrode. Though civilized and socially advanced, it was only with the assistance of the Krek that Thilsh were finally able to reach the stars and expand outward - a feat which quickly presented a host of new challenges for the amphibious pseudopods.

         The biggest obstacle was the ability to breathe in space. Thilsh respiration occurs through a set of wing-like gills on their back; males posess an extra, smaller set at the base of the neck. These must remain moist in order to function. However, the same corrosive issues that initially prevented industrialization also plagued early Thilsh vessels. It was not until 16-ssc that backpack-humidifiers came into use. With all moisture contained locally the Thilsh were able to pressurize their ships in a more stable fashion, as well as board Krek vessels comfortably.

         Though achieving space travel nearly three centuries ago, the Thilsh remain largely a theocratic culture. Nearly 80% of all Thilsh remain bound to the mandates of "The Universal" - something they describe as an omnipresent mind which guides them in difficult or challenging situations. Though docile and respectful of the Core Systems central administration, the majority of Thilsh regard The Universal as a higher authority and would defer to the latter in events where the two conflicted.

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    Homeworld: ???
    Language: ???
    Society: ???
    Though the Systems officially catalogued the presence of other space-faring races beyond the Fringe worlds, the appearance of these smooth-skinned bipeds came as something of a shock to the outer systems. Efforts are still being made to classify them in the central databases - however, only limited information is available at the present time.
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    Politics & Geography

    Core Systems:
         The Core Systems encompases a broad ring of systems within a 240 light-year radius around the Krek homeworld of Ashkrist, including both the Thilsh and Nissimgrai homeworlds. While these systems have some relative autonomy, they are maintained and regulated as part of the Core Systems Collective, a council with three representatives from each major system and presided over by a panel of thirteen delegates - four each of Krek, Thilsh, and Nissimgrai, and one MechaSentient.

         The primary purpose of the CSC is to regulate trade and growth among the planetary systems, as well as to oversee the chartering of new colonies. The Collective does maintain a small military force for policing and peacekeeping reasons, but has rarely called on it in the three centuries since its foundation and it exists mostly from a sense of caution, rather than necessity.

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    Fringe Systems:
         The Fringe Systems are an outer ring extending 120 light-years beyond the Core Systems. While the Core is relatively stablized, with regular shipping and established industry, the Fringe is
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    Planetary Chart of Systems Territories
    Planetary Chart
    *Author's Disclaimer: An entire network of planetary bodies and jump distances is somewhat overkill for a simple webcomic. This section will be added on to as needed.
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  • 1024 Chits = 1 K-Chit
  • 1024 K-Chits = 1 M-Chit
  • 1024 M-Chits = 1 G-Chit
  • The Chit:
    All monetary transactions take place electronically, in the form of transferred credit. "Chit" refers to both a single credit and the card-like device used for transfer.

    The Chit was adopted as the universal standard of payment in 5-ssc, after the inclusion of the Nissimgrai and the formation of the Core Systems Collective. Though the Thilsh and Nissimgrai homeworlds both maintain their own economy and track the necessary conversion rates, all colonies beyond these home systems and the CSC as a whole use chits as the sole method of currency.

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    Space Travel: The Transplacement Drive
         The key to interstellar travel, the Transplacement Drive is a warp-engine that links two coordinates of space, instantaneously transferring the drive and anything caught in its field to a location up to 40 light-years away. All ships capable of interstellar travel are fitted with a trans-drive, which must be calibrated to the mass and dimensional size of the vessel. Originally designed by the Krek, the Nissimgrai have since turned their engineering skills on this technology as well, making huge leaps in energy efficiency and jump-capacity in the last few cycles.
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