"When I first saw a Custodian, my mother insisted that I shouldn't be afraid of them. They might look strange, but they're really just parts of the city. Just an extension of the machinery underground, the Railways, and every other moving part in a seemingly endless series of moving parts. That's the prevalent attitude I guess. If you're the little kid who startles whenever a metal box on wheels rolls past your foot, you get laughed at in class. The Custodians are everywhere, just doing their jobs as you go about your day. Which isn't great, because I'm pretty sure they're more self-aware than we've been giving them credit for."-Luel, itinerant explorer
The Custodians come in many forms and sizes, but they are connected by common themes. First and foremost is their Raiment, a flexible set of solar panels draped across the torso of the Custodian. These panels serve as a secondary source of power, supplementing the internal battery and extending their operative time. Most any Custodian larger than a small dog possesses a Raiment. Secondly is the Antenna, a 7-cm tall wire that serves as a form of communicator, allowing the Custodian to communicate with its fellows and with the city overall. Thirdly, the rounded head and bulbous torso that houses the Custodian's brain, primary battery, and sensory functions. Depending on the size and function of the Custodian, these torsos can be mounted on a variety of lower bodies and encased in layers of sleek, protective armour. They are modular, and can be removed from their given bodies at any time.
- Mechanical, bodies composed mostly of silver and chrome-alloys
- Modular, limbs and chassis removable and highly modifiable
Genetics and Reproduction
It is rare for the Custodians to engineer new intelligences, so the species acquires new members at an irregular and infrequent basis. New cores are built in a specialized foundry, isolated deep in the City's sub-basements and protected from the outside elements, and will undergo a two-year testing period before they are properly "activated." During the construction of a new core, data is pulled from all active Custodians attached to the depot and compiled into a comprehensive database, forming the blueprint for a core without the flaws of its predecessors. This core is encoded with every subroutine the Custodian is expected to use over its lifespan, as well as a unique depot signature that will remain until it ceases operation. Once this informational groundwork is established, the core begins a process of awakening which can last up to several months. In this time, a framework for the machine's consciousness is established.
Ecology and Habitats
Entirely dependent on existing infrastructure to survive, the Custodian is rarely further than a few hundred kilometres from the nearest depot. They require replacement parts fabricated in a foundry and energy generated by a power plant, and need places to enter low power or activity modes. They tend to remain in sub-surface routes so as to avoid the independent lifeforms above, emerging only to make repairs.
Dietary Needs and Habits
All Custodians possess a central battery with enough energy for 24 hours of operation, depending on output. They supplement this battery with solar energy absorbed through the panels of their Raiment, allowing them to maintain consistent operation above ground. Should their charge ever drop below an efficient capacity, Custodians will quickly retreat to specialized charging stations underground to recharge. If a Custodian runs out of energy, nearby Custodians will cease their work and drag their powerless counterpart to the nearest power depot. Damaged Custodians will attempt to recover every part of themselves before retreating to a centralized hub for repairs.
Custodians possess an almost hive-like structure, oriented around the depots that serve as homes and organizational hubs for their kind. They possess a rough, utilitarian hierarchy, with simpler mono-task drones at the bottom and complicated "administrator" and "troubleshooter" variants at the top. On average, every Custodian Depot maintains at least two dedicated
Custodian heads serve more as an identifying feature than as a seat of intelligence. Their heads possess mechanical eyes, ears, and mouths, almost none of which are functional (as most sensory functions are housed either in the core or in varying locations across the center of the chassis) but which serve as identifiers of depot, position, and function.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Custodians gather in evenly-spaced depots roughly two hundred kilometers apart. The bulk of these structures are subterranean, roughly four stories down and connected to the surface by hundreds of access vents and tunnels. Each of these depots contains anywhere between ten to a hundred thousand Custodians of various makes and sizes, a number that fluctuates depending on activity.
Custodian intellects are split into two parts, the former related to task-completion and problem solving and the latter relating to free thought. This leads to two distinct modes of Custodial thoughts: duty and questioning.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Custodian cores are only equipped with two senses: sight and hearing. These basic senses are considered comparable to those of a human being in good health. However, specialized modules and frames permit the Custodians additional senses, usually whatever is required for the jobs they are assigned.
Civilization and Culture
Each Custodian possesses a unique serial number, assigned by the depot and tracked by the terminal network. This number is the Custodian's chief signifier, and is modified based on depot, length of service and function. Some Custodians use their current chassis-type as a qualifier after their service number. Each serial number is composed of several parts. First is the Manufacturing Foundry, and uses the Factory's two-letter identification tag as well as the year of manufacture. Second is the serial number itself, a unique five-digit code with a three letter suffix to indicate series. The third indicates a transfer, and consists of the Factory's identification tag as well as the year of transfer. This third suffix is only included if the Custodian in question has been transferred to a new Factory. As an example, an elderly Scuttler-drone Custodian from the Far Lake Foundry would be addressed as FL1779-43242AN-Scuttler. Should they be transferred to the High Garden Foundry, they would become known as FL1779-43242AN-HG2311-Scuttler.
The Custodians originate from the Eternal City. Their most sacred duty to protect its infrastructure, and obey its mighty Voice. They have fulfilled this duty for the past two thousand years of recorded history.
- Average battery lifetime: 4-6 years
- Average core lifetime: 30 years
- Core height: 0.5m
- Scuttler Chassis: 1-3m
- Utility Chassis: 1.6-2.1m
- Enforcer Chassis: 1.5-2.9m
- Transport Chassis: 2.0-5.0m
- Core weight: 13 lbs
- Scuttler Chassis: 10-50 lbs
- Utility Chassis: 150-200 lbs
- Enforcer Chassis: 130-180 lbs
- Transport Chassis: 2000-4600 lbs
- Core length: 50cm
- Scuttler Chassis: 70-120 cm
- Utility Chassis: 50-300 cm
- Enforcer Chassis: 70-100 cm
- Transport Chassis: 5-10m
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