->"Civility requires that I say, '[[BlatantLies I hope, when all is said and done, that I won't be forced to execute you on the spot]].'"
-->- '''Commodore Hu Mavis'''

''Pay Me, Bug!'' is a series of {{science fiction}} {{web serial novel}}s by Christopher Wright, set in a {{shared universe}} informally known as "[[SharedUniverse The Foldspace Universe]]." It follows Grif Vindh, captain of the ''Fool's Errand'', and his crew as they get into trouble, get into more trouble, and maybe occasionally get paid for their trouble.

The first novel (now complete), also titled ''[[https://www.eviscerati.org/fiction/pay-me-bug/novel Pay Me, Bug!]]'', starts off just after Grif managed to pull off the crime of the millennium. He's stolen a shipment of anagathics[[note]]Drugs that greatly slow the aging process[[/note]] from Ur Voys -- [[TheEmpire The Empire of the Radiant Throne]]'s most secure facility -- and smuggled it out under the very noses of The Radiant Throne's [[{{Telepathy}} Swords]]. This one job has has earned him more than enough money to retire. Not that he wants to retire, mind you. He'd rather put that money into getting the very latest equipment for his ship.

It's a good thing, too. [[TheFederation The Alliance of Free Worlds]] has heard of his little adventure, and as it happens, they also want to steal something from The Radiant Throne -- something that is currently stashed in Ur Voys. And since they've been unsuccessful in stealing it themselves, they decide to blackmail Grif and crew to break in to Ur Voys ''again'' and get it for them.

The only problem is, [[MilesGloriosus Grif might not have told the whole truth about the first break-in]]...

The second novel (in progress), ''[[https://www.eviscerati.org/fiction/Rake-Starlight/novel A Rake by Starlight]]'', begins a year later. It's a typical day for the crew, illegally siphoning hydrogen from a gas giant to use as fuel, when they notice two Tylaris ships doing their level best to destroy each other. Grif's curiosity gets the better of him, and their investigation leads them into the middle of a massive plot to usurp power from the new Baron Tylaris. As if that wasn't enough, the closest thing to an ally they have, Baron Tyrelos, is facing a coup of her own.

----
!!The series as a whole provides examples of the following tropes:

* AffablyEvil: Commodore Mavis. Grif once bemoaned the fact that they were on opposite sides, when they could have been friends.
* AllNationsAreSuperpowers: There's [[TheFederation The Alliance of Free Worlds]], [[TheEmpire The Empire of the Radiant Throne]], and a collection of small "Free Trade [[RoyalMess Baronies]]" that only remain independent through economic power. That's it.
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: The [[TheEmpire Radiant Throne]] believes that {{Telepathy}} is a gift from God, and comes with a mandate to rule over non-telepaths.
* AsteroidThicket: Surrounds Tyrelos Station. It's a lot sparser than most examples of this trope, and [[JustifiedTrope justified]] by being the remains of a recently (in astronomic terms) destroyed moon, but still there.
* BadGuyBar: Dyorbid's.
* TheBattlestar: "Battlecarrier" class ships.
* CasualDangerDialog: A routine part of any plan to avoid being killed.
* ChurchMilitant: The Empire of the Radiant Throne is solidly theocratic, and completely authoritarian.
* CoolStarship: Grif's ship, the ''Fool's Errand''.
* CurbStompBattle: {{The mutiny}} mentioned below is an example. Final score: [[spoiler:Grif and crew]] eleven, [[spoiler:Velis and squad]] zero.
* DeadpanSnarker: Grif Vindh.
-->"Hello Morgan," Velis said. "You look well."\\
"Velis," Morgan said. That was all he could manage; he abruptly turned in his seat and devoted his attention to his station.\\
"[[ItsTheBestWhateverEver This is going to be the ]]''[[ItsTheBestWhateverEver best trip ever]]''," Grif muttered.
* DeflectorShields: Part and parcel for the [[SpaceOpera setting]]. Unusually for this trope, they're described as blocking all energy, including visible light and sensors, in ''both'' directions. Fortunately, there are systems that automate the process of dropping a single segment of the shield, firing through it, and bringing it back up. Also, a big part of [[StandardStarshipScuffle space combat]] is deciding, moment to moment, which shield segments to have down (for visibility), which to have up (for protection), and which to "pulse" on and off (for a little of both).
* TheEmpire: The Empire of the Radiant Throne. [[TitleDrop It's right there in the name]].
* TheFederation: [[NonindicativeName Despite its name]], The Alliance of Free Worlds is closer to being TheFederation than being TheAlliance.
* FutureImperfect: Most of the people who grew up on Earth like to ''claim'' that Earth is the original homeworld of humanity, but nobody takes them seriously.
* GrievousHarmWithABody: ''Each'' of Ktk's three tails are strong enough to pick up a full-grown human. That's right -- Ktk can [[DualWield triple wield]] ''people''.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: Routinely, with Grif being the most common offender.
* InWhichATropeIsDescribed: Every chapter.
* ItIsDehumanizing: Ktk, the titular "bug," insists that everyone call it "it," [[AvertedTrope because that's just the logical thing to call a hermaphrodite]].
* MadLibsCatchphrase: Grif likes to take a word or phrase he just said, and... "clarify" it by adding "and by ''X'', I mean ''Y''," where "Y" is a short rant that includes "X."
-->'''Grif''': Pure evil ... molded into the form of my dear [[SiblingYinYang sister]]. And by "dear" I mean "dear God, run away!"
* NamesTheSame: Very nearly, the Tylaris and Tyrelos Baronies. The fact that they are the richest and poorest (respectively) of the baronies is commented on in-universe.
* TheNicknamer: Ggrlsha have a tradition of nicknaming everyone they know. It's supposed to be an attempt to "know the essence of another's soul."
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: Averted. It's specifically mentioned that, while every known race can get drunk, the intoxicating substance varies from species to species. So, when you're getting drunk with other species, you need to be careful not to grab a bottle of something lethal to you. Carumjack is specifically mentioned as a popular beverage that's toxic to humans, but Morgan can't get enough of the stuff, so they're either drastically overselling its lethality or Morgan's [[AcquiredPoisonImmunity built up a tolerance]].
* NoGravityForYou:
** Part of the standard procedure for repelling boarders aboard the ''Fool's Errand'' is to turn the gravity on and off according to a prearranged schedule. Since any boarders wouldn't know the schedule, they would be unprepared for the sudden shifts in gravity. In addition, individual crew can have the bridge change the gravity in their specific section as an additional weapon.
** Because the ''Fool's Errand'' uses older gravity technology, they can't have the artificial gravity on while they're [[FasterThanLightTravel in tach]]. Well, technically they ''can'', but it would be dangerous to do so.
* OneNationUnderCopyright: According to the [[AllThereInTheManual Foldspace Guide]], the Free Trade Baronies started off as this. With the passage of time, they've evolved into standard governments, but most still have some of the trappings of their corporate past. For instance, most have powerful "executives" that that can, if need be, vote the baron out of office.
* PermaStubble: Grif is described as having "a fine layer of stubble that never quite coaxed itself into a beard."
* {{Precursors}}: The Prometheans were a species that predated every known civilization, only known by some ruins they left on Mars. Some people believe that they were just ordinary people who's civilization happened to die out. Others (especially "Terrans", people from Earth's solar system) believe they're ancient all-powerful god-like beings that created some modern races and engineered entire solar systems. The fact that [[spoiler:the [[MacGuffin mysterious and ancient artifact]] they're trying to steal has the same markings as the Martian ruins]] suggests that the latter explanation is more likely.
* PunctuationShaker: Ktk's full name is "[[UpToEleven Ktkt'tkkt'kktt'tkkk'tktk'ttkt'tkkk'kktt'kktk'tk]]."
* RoyalMess: The Free Trade "Baronies" are actually independent states.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: Zig-zagged. Most of the time, the author writes space very realistically. However, that all gets thrown out the window during combat, as [[StandardStarshipScuffle ships fight each other]] at a range that's too close to even be considered "spitting distance."
* SharedUniverse: Known informally as "The Foldspace Universe."
* SheIsTheKing: The leader of a Free Trade [[RoyalMess Barony]] is always referred to as "Baron", regardless of their gender. Similarly, the [[TheEmpire Radiant Throne]] currently has a female Emperor. The [[TheFederation Alliance]]'s leader's title hasn't been revealed, but based on the other titles, it's probably "President" or some such.
* SiblingYinYang: Grif Vindh is a smuggler, thief, and general ne'er do well. His sister, Velis Enge, is a high ranking officer in an Alliance black ops division.
* SideBet: [[TitleDrop The title of the series]] is a reference to Cyrus and Ktk's [[RunningGag continual bets with each other]] about the outcome of the mission, how long it will be until they wind up in trouble in this particular port[[note]]Neither one of them being brave enough to put money on "never".[[/note]], whether they will [[BreadEggsMilkSquick survive their current screwup]], etc. Every other member of the crew will bet with each other at the drop of a hat, but Cyrus and Ktk are the most frequent offenders.
* StarfishAliens: Ktk is described as a 2.5 meter hermaphroditic centipede with three prehensile tails.
* StarfishLanguage: "Bugtalk" is "a binary language that starts with the total sum of all knowledge and drills down through it until it isolates the specific thought or concept the bug is trying to say." This is emphasized in the story by the fact that Ktk is never quoted directly.
* {{Telepathy}}: All the [[TheEmpire Radiant Throne]]'s Swords are telepaths. Grif winds up hiring a telepath of his own.
* TimeForPlanB: A running gag throughout the series is that Grif's Plan B's tend to suck, so the phrase "time for plan B" is just another way of saying "start updating your will."
* TitleDrop: Ktk and Cyrus will bet on anything and everything. When Cyrus wins...
* TractorBeam: Called a "gravlock."
* TheUnpronounceable: Again, Ktk's full name. Even the ''abbreviation'' of its name can be hard to pronounce. [[InformedAbility We are told]] that its species' name and home world's name are even worse.
* WeWillUseManualLaborInTheFuture: We never see any actual slaves, but there are slavers, which would [[CaptainObvious tend to imply the existence of slaves]].
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: A telepath's power can drive them insane if they aren't trained to handle it early enough. The Radiant Throne's Swords are continually referred to as insane, but it's more that they're [[{{Telepathy}} telepathic]] [[KnightTemplar knight templar]] [[ChurchMilitant church militants]].

!!Tropes specific to ''Pay Me, Bug!'':

* AndTheAdventureContinues: The crew ends up having to take another job to pay for the damage caused by this one.
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: "Of course, all that comfort comes at a pretty hefty price. Ruled by [[{{Telepathy}} telepathic]] [[ChurchMilitant religious]] [[KnightTemplar zealots]], immediate execution for daring to say anything that might be construed as treasonous... church on Sundays...."
* BarBrawl: Some time in the past, some [[{{Cyborg}} cyborg]] [[WeWillUseManualLaborInTheFuture slavers]] tried to [[MadeASlave kidnap Grif's nephew]]. Grif objected, rather strenuously, causing some damage to their ship. They catch up to Grif in [[BadGuyBar Dyorbid's Bar]], and, well...
* TheCaper: The main plot of the story.
* {{Cyborg}}: The above-mentioned slavers.
* EmbarrassingOldPhoto: Grif finds some of Doma doing [[NoodleIncident something]] on Grenaris.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: When The Viceroy wants to destroy every Maximilian class ship on Varkav, because they believe one of them is the ''Fool's Errand'', Mavis talks him out of it.
* FellOffTheBackOfATruck: [[spoiler:The anagathics Grif "stole" from Ur Voys]] ''literally'' fell off the back of a truck. Of course, this truck was in the process of crashing and bursting into flames, so it makes sense that stuff would be falling off of it.
* GrievousBottleyHarm: A more realistic example than most. The bottle doesn't break, despite being swung with a human's full strength. It also does some serious damage to the target.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: There's some kind of coup in progress against Baron Minerva Tyrelos. Whoever is responsible gets nervous about the fact that Grif has figured out about [[spoiler:Baron Tylaris' assassination]], so they try to have Grif handed over to The Throne. We never find out who's behind it, what their ultimate plan is, or whether the Baron's plan to [[spoiler:have her brother publicly take the blame]] ever worked.
* IfIHadANickel: If [[https://www.eviscerati.org/fiction/Pay-Me-Bug/novel/Pay-Me-Bug-Chapter-12 Grif had one standard]] for every time someone explained a coincidence by saying "[[{{Precursors}} Promethians]] did it"...
* IKnowYoureWatchingMe: The Viceroy manages to pull this on the heroes, who are using [[EverythingIsOnline his own security cameras]] to spy on him.
* InfractionDistraction: Grif sacrifices their cargo of fine Varkavian whiskey to keep Mavis from looking closer, and maybe finding the anagathics. Of course, since none of the crew know about the anagathics, they all think he's gone crazy.
* IsThisThingStillOn: Doma, the communications technician ([[{{Nepotism}} and Grif's nephew]]), manages to accidentally broadcast the crew's impromptu strategy session to the ship they were running from at the time.
* JustLikeUs: The Alliance covert infiltration team gets a dose of this during the mission. It's also heavily implied that they've infiltrated the Radiant Throne before, so [[FridgeLogic they really should have already known]].
* MacGuffin: The artifact.
* MarsNeedsWomen: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] in [[https://www.eviscerati.org/fiction/pay-me-bug/novel/pay-me-bug-chapter-15 Chapter 15]].
-->"It's about time [[BadGuyBar Dyorbid]] actually hired an attractive waitress," Morgan said. Grif laughed.\\
"Well, hold on," Grif said, "let's be fair. The Murdec who worked here a few months back was very attractive... to other Murdecs."
* MilesGloriosus: Grif may have exaggerated the story of his break-in to Ur Voys just a tiny bit.
* TheMutiny: [[spoiler:Velis Enge]] organizes one against Grif. [[spoiler:It... doesn't go so well for her and her team.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The Viceroy. That's not a title, that's his [[SpellMyNameWithAThe legal name]], which he chose himself upon becoming a Sword.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: A little one, during the escape from [[spoiler:the hospital on Tyrelos Station]].
-->"Well I can't hold these guys off much longer." Grif tried to peer over the lip of the stairwell without exposing himself. "Sooner or later they'll realize it's just one pistol..."\\
From below someone shouted "It's just one pistol!"\\
"[[ClusterFBomb Damn it all to]] ''[[ClusterFBomb hell]]''," Grif muttered.\\
Amys rolled her eyes. "Nice work."
* NoodleIncident: Just what happened between Grif and Velis on Kinnar?
* OhCrap: "[[https://www.eviscerati.org/fiction/pay-me-bug/novel/pay-me-bug-chapter-01 Holy hell, that's a Battlecarrier]]!"
* OvertRendezvous: Getting [[spoiler:Meaghan Sythe]] out of [[spoiler:Ur Voys]] requires a meeting in a bar. Unfortunately, someone remembers seeing her there, which allows Mavis' agents to connect [[TheHeist the break in]] with the ''Fool's Errand'', and sets up the [[StandardStarshipScuffle climactic battle]].
* PantsPositiveSafety: As Grif is breaking out of the aforementioned [[spoiler:hospital]], he has to steal some clothes and a pistol. He doesn't have the chance to steal a holster.
* PsychicNosebleed: One of the dangers of having your mind read by a Sword.
* {{Technopath}}: An (extremely rare) ability of certain very strong telepaths.
* TwoShotsFromBehindTheBar: It should come as no surprise that Dyorbid, as the proprietor of a BadGuyBar, keeps a plasma rifle handy. It's just as useful for {{bar brawl}}s as it is for [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking people who ask to run a tab]].
* {{Vibroweapon}}: Amys' weapon of choice.
* WhatDidIDoLastNight: Grif and crew have a huge celebration with several of the other crews in port. They all get so smashed, the next morning, they can't remember what happened[[note]]except for [[BizarreAlienBiology Ktk]], but it won't say anything, since it's too embarrassed[[/note]]. This isn't the first such party, either: They've had to institute [[CapitalLettersAreMagic The List]], a [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin computer record]] of everyone's possessions that they had entered the party with, bets that were made, and the winners and losers of those bets.

!!Tropes specific to ''A Rake by Starlight'':

* CloningBlues: [[spoiler:Stebil Tanz]] admits to being a little bit defensive about not being the original, even though, legally, he is the same person.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: The coup against Baron Tyrelos, which only tangentially affected the plot of ''Pay Me, Bug!'', is a much more important factor in this story, especially once [[spoiler:the Baron's body double]] gets offed by a [[NukeEm small thermonuclear device]] while [[spoiler:the real Baron]] just happens to be on the ''Fool's Errand''.
* InadequateInheritor: Baron Tylaris knew that his son was an idiot, so he planned to have someone else take over once he died: [[spoiler:himself, via cloning]].
* InheritanceMurder: There's some speculation that Rolis Tylaris murdered his father, Baron Mogra Tylaris, in order to take the throne. Given how quickly he then joined The Alliance, there's speculation that he had their help to do so. ([[spoiler:Both of these speculations are exactly right]].)
* WordSaladTitle: If there's any deep meaning behind the phrase "A Rake by Starlight," it has yet to be revealed.
* TheWrongfulHeirToTheThrone: Rolis is lazy and borderline incompetent (although he is [[ObfuscatingStupidity smarter than he appears]], that's not saying much), not to mention that he [[spoiler:murdered his father]]. In an interesting twist, the rebels plan to [[spoiler:create someone]] who actually has a better claim to the throne.