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Kevin Landon is the typical post High School slacker. After high school, he started a band and never moved out of his parents’ home. Kevin’s getting older, and everyone else but him thinks his life is going nowhere. When the band finally splits up, his Dad issues an ultimatum: go to college and get a business degree or move out and fend for yourself. Not ready to get a “real job”, Kevin chooses a school far from home, hoping to keep his parents away while continuing to live the “good life” on their “tuition” checks.
Brenna O'Reilly is socially inexperienced and attending college is her first step away from the security of her family. Her years of concentrated education as a shy home schooled child have bred obsessions with minor details and relatively unimportant short-term goals. Brenna is far more interested in art than in science, but her genius in the field of light (she has actually invented a new color) draws so much attention that she ignores her "calling" as an artist to concentrate on pursuits that will benefit mankind in a more practical way. Brenna is intrigued by Kevin and develops an immediate and deep attraction to him, but she doesn’t know how to act on it.
Shira Lieberman comes to Mad Science U to escape from an abusive father and a willfully ignorant mother who discouraged honest emotions. Shira hides her pain behind promiscuity and sarcasm. At first glance, she appears to be a fun-loving girl everyone would want to know, but a keen eye for bull and quick temper keep her from trusting or getting close to most people. Initially she believes Kevin can be as easily toyed with as the young rich boys she is used to, but she eventually realizes that Kevin's sincerity is real. By the time she recognizes that Kevin is the kind of guy she believes she can trust, she may have alienated him forever.
Zed Starlighter was born to a father who legally changed the family name to that of an obscure Star Wars character. Rather than be embarrassed by this, Zed developed the observation skills and intellect necessary to impress people and put them at ease. Though charming and witty when the mood strikes him, he can also turn obnoxious and will often do outrageous things just to get a reaction. It is far too easy for Zed to fall into the trap of believing that the world exists to entertain him and pander to his needs, so he is the most likely of the core characters to find himself on morally slippery slopes or to be operating on the wrong side of the law.
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