Harold “Ace” Gibson

Harold Gibson fits the dictionary definition of “nerd” and “geek.” Unfortunately for the almost 16-year-old student at T. R. Malthus High School in El Peep Ynamoot, Washington, USA, the abundance of geeks and nerds refuse to accept him. They have standards and Harold doesn’t rise to them. That makes him the equivalent to geeks and nerds what geeks and nerds once were to athletes and the popular kids.

Harold maintains a steady 2.0 grade-point-average. Like most teens, he could do much better in school if he would only apply himself—a fact frequently expressed by most adults. Unfortunately, Harold’s interests do not include academics. His interests include internal combustion engines, computers, curvaceous prom queens, and whatever the latest SimPlay (virtual reality simulation games) module is. Lately that has been “Hot Rod City,” a game set in the 1950s and featuring lots of powerful internal combustion engines and curvaceous prom queens and drive-in waitresses. Some of his other favorites are “Cosmic Rangers,” a space combat simulator featuring bug-eyed monsters and curvaceous space queens; and “Knights of the Musketeer,” a swashbuckling adventure game featuring sword-wielding villains and curvaceous maidens in distress.

Most of the time, when Harold isn’t in school, and he isn’t hooked into his SimPlay console, he’s at his uncle’s antique store where he spends most of his time rebuilding ancient computers and sweeping the floor. The rest of the time he’s in the T. R. Malthus High School science lab with Professor Emelio Xylander, where he sweeps the floor and occasionally helps the professor build some weird machine.

Physically, Harold is average. What distinguishes Harold from other students is the fact that he dresses in faded blue jeans, flannel shirts and t-shirts that are all a size too big. He keeps his brown hair slicked back in a DA like a character from Hot Rod City, and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses that are too small for his head frame his brown eyes. When he was 10 years old he game himself the nickname “Ace.” To this date he remains the only person who uses the name.

Stella Finkbinder

Stella Finkbinder isn’t the most beautiful girl to grace the halls of T. R. Malthus High School or the streets of El Peep Ynamoot, Washington. In fact, the prevailing assessment among her peers is that Stella has stellar looks — she looks like something that has been hit by a comet. Comments like that do not bother Stella much, mostly because she knows that beauty is only skin deep.

Stella is rather self-assured, which probably comes from being the oldest of four children, as well as being the child of the extremely popular owners of EL Peep Ynamoot’s organic food store. Stella is all about saving the Earth, and because of this she wears organic clothing, never wears makeup, and spends every spare moment furthering a string of vital causes.

Stella isn’t just a follower, though. She’s a woman of many hats: editor and investigative reporter for the T. R. Malthus High School Blade (the school newspaper); editor of the T. R. Malthus High School Population (the school yearbook), Secretary of the T. R. Malthus High School Student Council, and founder and Charter President of the SETE (pronounced “seet”) — Students for the Ethical Treatment of Everything.

Professor Emilio Xylander

Emilio Xylander is an odd man to be found teaching high school general science, but he has been doing just that for three years. No one in El Peep Ynamoot knows much about Xylander, except that he’s a bit overqualified for the job. He holds Ph. d.’s in a number of fields from some very prestigious institutions and is known to have worked on a government project or two when he was younger. No one has become curious enough about Xylander to ask him what he is doing in El Peep Ynamoot.

Xylander is nearly exactly what you would expect a scientist to be — about 40 years old, balding, and the advancing years beginning to reveal themselves as bulges around the middle and a certain grayness on the edges. He has glasses, but he hardly ever really needs them — except when he spends too many hours staring at blueprints and reading books. Beyond this, nothing is known about Professor Emilio Xylander.