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Literature: Jack Blank
A trilogy written by by Matt Myklusch, who used to work for MTVu, the twenty-four seven running show of MTV for college students.

Jack is an orphan raised in the most depressing, repressive orphanage on the New Jersey turnpike known as St. Barnaby's Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten and Lost. One of the few things that make his existence there bearable is his comic book collection, which he keeps a secret. One day, an aggressive Robo-Zombie from one of his comics rises up to kill him. Jack defeats this robot, only to find another strange visitor: an Emissary who will take him to a secret country that serves as a refuge for the extraordinary: the Imagine Nation. A love-letter to superhero comics and high-impact action flicks, it may seem clichéd at a first glance, though it manages to have good humor and surprisingly well constructed plot twists.

The first book, The Accidental Hero (originally published as Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation) shows Jack's first arrival in the Imagine Nation and his preliminary tests to enter the School of Thought.

The second book, The Secret War, takes place a year after the first. Jack Blank has five days to develop a cure code before a looming Rüstov threat engulfs Empire City.

The third book, The End of Infinity, takes place a year after the second, where all-out warfare has embroiled the Imagine Nation.

These books contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The drainage tunnels under Lowtown are sufficiently large enough to comfortably hold at least six people in one place. They're also lined with lead so X-rays can't penetrate them.
  • Accidental Hero: It's the title of the first book, and an accurate description of what Jack did in the first chapter. He's considered a hero for beating Revile the Undying, when all he did was blow up a school generator when he panicked and Revile got caught in the blast. He didn't even know he was a technopath at the time.
  • Achievement Test Of Destiny: Jonas Smart puts a lot of pride in his Total Personality Test, which has questions for everything and anything one could think of and lasts four hours long. He goes beserk when Jack takes the test and his test result is incomplete.
  • The Alcatraz: Securimax prison in Lowtown (the nickname for the seedier underside of Hightown) is a prison that doesn't even have a single door leading in or out. Entry and exit is only allowed by using a phase resonance frequency code; you have to be wearing a machine that corresponds to this to allow you to phase through the wall. This code changes every minute.
    • The large, abandoned prison Jack finds in the Outlands is this. It was previously used to hold hundreds of suspected Mecha traitors; it's an Elaborate Underground Base with a large hub room going levels and levels deep, loads of monitors and monitor stations, turrets on each monitor station, loads of cells and even barracks and break rooms for all the Mooks who used to serve there.
  • Alien Invasion: What the Rüstov do to every planet they come across.
  • Aliens Speaking English: All the extraterrestrials speak English. The Rüstov have their own language that barely anyone can understand, but they can speak English just fine when it suits them.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Jack gets this reaction from a lot of people because of his latent Rüstov infection. Many believe him to be a Rüstov spy, conspirator, or if he's not one now, will eventually become one.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Jonas Smart invented a majority of the high-tech devices in use in Empire City. Played with as Smart apparently owns several front companies outside the Imagine Nation that put out the same toys but not the ones as advanced as the Imagine Nation's.
  • Amnesia Missed A Spot: Secreteers are able to make people forget things that should remain secret, including the identities of Secreteers. Jack manages to remember Hypnova's appearance and form of transportation correctly, even though his friends disagree on those points. Hypnova believes Jack managed to keep his memory after she wiped it because his Rüstov parasite remembered, and she didn't bother to wipe his memory.
  • And I Must Scream: Revile is indestructible to the point of shrugging off massive amounts of ammo and can regenerate very quickly. In order to ensure he remains down for the count after his sudden return, they shoved his body back into the Infinite Warp Core Engine on the wreck of the Rüstov mothership and kept it running so that he'd be stuck in a loop of destruction and regeneration.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Jack finds out that Jazen is mechanical for the first time, and calls Jazen a "robot". Jazen tells Jack he doesn't like the term "robot" and says all the mechanical people in the Imagine Nation are independent and self-programmed, and that they are called Mechas.
  • Angrish: When Jack finds out that Smart had lied to him about his birth certificate file being infected and encrypted it instead, he uses a lot of words that Jazen couldn't find in his vocabulary.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Jazen implies that the reason Jonas Smart exerts so much economic control over Machina's businesses is because he gives veiled threats that anyone who refuses would be accused of being a Rüstov conspirator.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Jack suspects Midknight of foul play, but Midknight assures his innocence. Jack asks Midknight to remove his mask to prove he's not a Rüstov. Midknight obliges, and his face is clean. No fuss is made over Midknight's identity.
  • Appropriated Appelation: Jack never had a last name, so he'd leave a blank after his first. The name Jack _____ morphed into Jack Blank, and it stuck.
  • Artificial Human: Lorem Ipsum was created as one. She says that Smart was trying to make an entire army of people like her so he wouldn't have to rely on outside help to fill his Peacemaker ranks.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Peacemaker Cyberai has one. When the Rüstov Jack captured escapes from prison with one leg that Skerren cut off, he kills Cyberai and steals the leg.
  • Ass in Ambassador: Ambassador Equa of the Calculan delegation isn't particularly rude, but he is very fickle regarding whether or not his people should side with Earth. This is chalked up to alien Values Dissonance; they make their decisions by calculating the odds and factor in many factual variables that lead them to believe siding with the Imagine Nation wouldn't be prudent because they are still fighting amongst themselves.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Inner Circle is made up of Empire City's most famous and most powerful heroes.
  • Barbaric Bully: At St. Barnaby's, Rex Staples fills this role. He hunts Jack to rat him out, he stole Jack's calculator and blamed Jack when it exploded, he's bigger than average and drinks coffee. It was predicted that in the future he would become a hired hand for a criminal organization.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Jazen successfully pulls this off to Calhoun so he can take Jack away from St. Barnaby's.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Valorians look exactly like silver-skinned humans. However, the male Valorians can fly and shoot energy from their hands, while the female Valorians are capable of stretching their shape and altering their consistency from leaky liquid to diamond solid.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: St. Barnaby's doubles as one of these in addition to being an Orphanage of Fear. It's motto is "Crushing the Spirit of Childhood", it is slowly sinking into a swamp with new rooms being built on the roof, and it has an electric fence surrounding it.
  • Body Surf: Rüstov need hosts to live, but they can discard bodies and infect new ones at will. This trope occurs several times in End Of Infinity, especially because Rüstov nobles prize purity of hosts and will discard a host as a hand-me-down when the first signs of decay set in.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Jack takes out a Rüstov carrier by dropping a train on them, Allegra invokes this trope. She makes a line about the Rüstov catching the train, but tells Jack to stop after he uses lame lines with the verb definition of "train".
  • Bonding Over Missing Parents: Jack, Allegra and Skerren remark that the Rüstov had made them all all orphans.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: For a given value of "daughter", Lorem Ipsum to Jonas Smart.
  • Breath Weapon: Averted. Skerren asks Zhi why his dragons don't breathe fire. Zhi explains that that his dragons are Chinese dragons.
  • Captain Crash: Jack. When he pilots Smart's Hyperjet to Wrekzaw Isle, he crashes it. When he pilots Solomon Roka's starship Harbinger, he successfully drives it through hyperspace, and then crashes it. When he rides one of Zhi's dragons, he crashes it as well. When he steals Noteworthy's hovercar, he manages to drive it safely through a a war zone and Chaos Architecture, but crashes it on purpose so he and his passenger Skerren black out so Jack doesn't have to fight him.
    • Subverted with the Vision, the first vehicle Jack drives. Jazen gives the helm of the boat to Jack and says that in order to reach the Imagine Nation, Jack has to drive himself there. Jack successfully drives the boat through the heart of a fierce storm to their destination, but realizes that he's dangerously close to driving toward the world's biggest waterfalls. Blue asks to take over before Jack crashes.
    • Jack also crashes the medical evacuation shuttle he's piloting with Allegra, but it wasn't his fault: War Hawks had broken in and sabotaged the engine while they were flying.
  • Car Fu: Jack uses his powers to control an entire fleet of unarmed, unmanned ships in an effort to crash them into enemy fighters. He also uses a tow cable to derail a train and drop it onto a Rüstov ship.
  • Cassandra Truth: An alien robo-zombie rose out from the swamp water, fired at Jack with lasers, and chased Jack through the swamp until the power generator exploded and blasted him away. No one believes Jack when he relates this story; they suspect that he Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality as a result of reading too many comic books. However, Jack trusts Jazen when he relates the story to the emissary, and Jazen doesn't doubt him.
  • Casual Car Giveaway: Jazen takes Jack away in a brand-new sports car and drives it as far as the harbor before handing the keys to a parking enforcer and giving the car to him.
  • Chaos Architecture: The entire borough of Cognito changes positions every hour like clockwork, making it very difficult to navigate. Directions given to find anything in Cognito have to be precise to the minute or they'll be completely useless.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Though More Dakka and Jetpacks
  • Chekhov's Gun: Quite a few.
    • Smart's extra tests on Jack. Jack originally consents to this to get Smart off his back. Smart uses the results to develop power nullifiers in tune with Jack so he cannot use his technopathic abilities.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Stendeval is alive, though he had gone missing immediately after the first Rüstov invasion.
    • The first time Jack's father is mentioned, it turns out to be a Bait and Switch. He eventually turns up, but Solomon Roka never knew he was Jack's father due to Secreteer interference.
  • Child Soldiers: Jack and his friends may be superheroes (in training), but that doesn't change the fact that they are thrust full-force into the war against the Rüstov starting at the age of twelve. Jack even lampshades this when trying to help Allegra with her fears on Wrekzaw Isle; even if Valorians are supposed to know no fear, they're still only children and even the bravest of children get scared.
  • Chrome Champion: With their silver skin, all Valorians look like this.
  • Chronoscope: Jonas Smart invented one of these, which looks like a telescope ending with a hole in the fabric of reality. He states that this was how he came up with the solution for his heart complications by looking it up in the future. But the further into the future he looks, the fuzzier the image gets.
  • City of Adventure: Empire City is this, and it is massive, consisting of six wildly different boroughs in one.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: This is the only way to properly find and reach the Imagine Nation.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: News broadcasting about a Rüstov attacking the Peacemaker Cyberai in Karateka ends up on Jack's television. It's lampshaded that Jack didn't even turn the television on but the news came up automatically.
    • Jack invokes this trope in End of Infinity. He hears that Jazen was captured by Smart and was being held prisoner, and confirms this by using his powers to grab a floating advertisement screen and change the channel to the news, showing a Hostage Video of Jazen and an interview between Smart and Virtua about the situation.
  • Collector of the Strange: Stendeval's home looks like an overcluttered storage closet from a long-running theater company and is full of props of strange origin. Given that he's been around for 500 years, he's had plenty of time to accumulate possessions.
  • Comic Books Are Real: Played with. While many of the characters featured in Jack's comics are real, Prime tells Jack that when authors and artists hear about their stories, they often embellish the stories (this is in response to Jack asking about a plotline where Prime had undergone a Rüstov infection despite being told later that it's instantly fatal). Jazen also mocks Jack for thinking Captain Courage is real because he's completely fictional.
  • Composite Character: Matt Myklusch stated that Jazen was originally a human character who would disappear after Jack arrived in the Imagine Nation, and Jack would spend the rest of the book being escorted around by a robot butler-type person. The author thought that that Jazen was being wasted and the robot butler was boring, so he combined the two.
  • Cool Boat: The Vision. Jazen tells Jack that he has to drive this ship in order to reach the Imagine Nation.
    • Also, Hypnova's flying pirate ship in the second book, with stained-glass windows and a multicolored hot-air balloon attachment.
  • Cool Ship: A few, including the Hyperjet Jack flies at the end of the first book, Midknight's ship Knightwing in the second, and Solomon Roka's ship at the beginning of the third.
  • Cool Train: A superfight at the beginning of the second book takes place on one of these.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Prime doesn't appear in The Secret War because he's out appealing to other alien races to unite with Earth against the Rüstov. It pays off in End of Infinity.
  • Corporal Punishment: Mrs. Theedweck carries a yardstick wherever she goes. After she's done with Jack, he thinks he wouldn't be able to sit down for a week.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The Peacemakers are all sponsored by Smart Corporation.
  • The Corruption: A Rüstov is a parasite, but End Of Infinity plays this very straight. Jack struggles with his body growing more and more mechanical by the minute due to a Rüstov implant, but his friends who do get caught by Rüstov are infected immediately without struggle.
  • Cowardly Lion: Allegra jumps and panics at everything in the first book, and she's ashamed of this because she's a Valorian, and Valorians are supposed to know no fear but she spent her formative years alone on a refugee ship while fleeing Rüstov space, knowing nothing but fear. She gains more courage by the second book to the point where Jack takes notice how much she's grown in a year.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Rüstov against just about every civilization in existence as demonstrated by the sterilization of Mars and the destruction of the Valorians.
  • Curse Cut Short: Jazen, twice. In the first book, Jazen responds to Smart's actions by saying "Son of a..." and stopping mid-sentence. In the third book, when Jazen is on hostage video, he tells Smart that when he gets out, he's "going to shove my fist so far up your-" only for the video to cut before he can finish.
  • Cyberspace: Virtua invited Jack to her home in cyberspace so they can speak in private. Her cyber-home resembles a gilded palace worthy of a sultan and is overloaded with pillows.
  • Dean Bitterman: Ross Calhoun, the head disciplinarian at St. Barnaby's. He is said to have only smiled four times in his entire life. The news of Jack being sent away causes the fifth.
  • Death by Origin Story:
    • The Legendary Sacrifice. Empire City even installed a giant statue in the town square in honor of it.
    • Skerren's parents were infected by the Rüstov and subsequently cut down by his mentor, Hovarth, right in front of him at an age no older than six or seven.
    • Allegra lost her mother shortly after she was born to ensure she got on a refugee ship as far away from Rüstov space as possible.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Jazen claims to work for The Department of Departmental Affairs the beginning. Bonus points for saying it was part of a Division of the Divisional Office
  • Dies Wide Open: And with a smile on his face. Virtua makes a point of closing the dead body's eyes.
  • Disney Death: In End of Infinity, Jack's poor riding gets one of Zhi's dragons killed. He's extremely sorry but Zhi tells him not to worry about it because his dragons are mystical; they can get hurt and fade away but their deaths aren't permanent.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: You can't walk more than a few feet without finding a part of Empire City that Smart Corp. hasn't touched. Most Smart products have their name on them, the company employs much of the city, and many media outlets all state that they are "Powered By Smart Corp."
  • Distressed Dude: Jazen for most of End of Infinity. Jack also in the same book on two separate occasions.
  • Divide and Conquer: This is the Rüstov's primary battle strategy. They use psychological tactics to cause unrest and division among the people of the planets they intend to conquer before they move in so the people there are too busy fighting among each other to unite against the Rüstov. This strategy is so effective that it easily won them most of the battles of their infinite war.
  • Doorstop Baby: Jack appeared at St. Barnaby's sitting in a cradle with "Jack" written on the handle. There was no last name provided, so after his name came nothing leading to his adopting the name Blank.
  • Dragon Rider: In the second and third books, Zhi Long is able to control seven mystical Chinese dragons and allows his friends to ride them.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: In End Of Infinity, Jack can still use his powers to great effect, but the influence of his parasite actively prevents him from using his technopath sensing on Rüstov directly. Once this limit is removed, it instantly becomes a Story Breaker Power.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jack is a very reckless driver who has a tendency to bob, weave, and crash into things and shrug it off. Luck, stellar safety engineering, and Plot Armor usually means that he and his passengers tend to survive without injury.
    • Skerren has a lot of trouble controlling Allegra's airskimmer while battling in Karateka.
  • Dual Wielding: Skerren has two swords, which he always uses together.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Averted. the Rüstov are not foes to be dealt with lightly and battles with them usually are a Curb-Stomp Battle, and victories against them often come hard-fought and with heavy losses. Subverted when Jack gets a good look at what a Rüstov-infected heart looks like, which could not be done earlier because The Magus and Khalix were blocking Jack's senses to probe them, and then Jack uses this knowledge to instantaneously use his technopathic powers, evict all Rüstov soldiers from their hosts and crush them to bits with a wave of his hand.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Stendeval, who uses Cryptic Conversation, always believes in lateral thinking and emphasizes personal learning experiences and coming to one's own conclusions. Figure It Out Yourself is his primary response to most of Jack's questions.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Jack notices that Jazen has a tendency to twitch and stall in the middle of his actions. Jazen is ashamed and assures that he never glitches. The "glitches" Jazen experiences are signals that he had contracted a Rüstov spyware virus and was broadcasting all the things he saw and heard right back to them without his knowledge.
  • Emancipated Child: Jack never gets officially "emancipated" in the text, but in The Secret War, it's outright stated that he's been living alone and supporting himself for a year at the age of thirteen. In The Accidental Hero he's in the care of Emissary Jazen Knight, but Jazen is not his official legal guardian; he's only acting as host to Jack while he settles in after immigrating to the Imagine Nation. It makes one wonder when the legal age is in the Imagine Nation, given that Skerren was adopted by Hovarth after the death of his parents and Allegra was claimed as a ward of the Valorian Guard.
  • Empty Chair Memorial: There are seven seats in the Inner Circle, one for each Circleman of each of the six boroughs of Empire City, and a seventh that is appointed at their discretion. One seat is empty because it was formerly Legend's seat. The other empty seat belongs to Stendeval, Circleman of Cognito, who went missing around the time Legend died and no one in Cognito bothered to replace him. Stendeval later turns out to be alive and ready to fill his seat again.
  • Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: Prime is a high-ranking title in the Valorian military, and everyone refers to him as such. If he has a name, it's not mentioned.
  • Everyone Is a Super: Not necessarily everybody in the Imagine Nation, but all people who live there are considered extraordinary in at least one way, not necessarily due to being Badass Normal or Badass at all. That being said, a large portion of the population is super.
  • Eye Scream: The first sign of a Rüstov infection. A dark ring forms around the right eye coupled with a line down the cheek. Also qualifies as a Red Right Hand. Many find it notable that while Jack tests positive for an infection, he doesn't show these signs at all.
  • Fake Memories: In addition to memory-wiping, Secreteers can make a person believe whatever the Secreteer wants them to believe.
  • Family of Choice: Jack considers Jazen to be his big brother even though Jazen is an android. He also considers his other friends to be his family. Lorem states outright that being a family is about more than blood.
  • Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Kazellian Floovberries, which are rare and can only be found in the Kazellian Nebula. Jazen makes flopflips (read: light, airy blue pancakes) out of them.
  • Fantastic Racism: Because Silico the infamous Great Collaborator was a Mecha, all Mechas like him were considered suspects by association and regularly targeted and abused in years following the first Rüstov invasion, akin to the Japanese in America during WWII. However, they are considered ordinary citizens with full rights otherwise.
    • Jack feels he gets this because he carries a Rüstov infection in remission, so everyone immediately assumes him as one of them or that he will become one of them.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Villainous version. In End of Infinity, the Magus addresses the people of the Imagine Nation telling them that he has decided to claim Earth as the Rüstov's new throneworld, and will promptly rename it "Rüst", just like their old one.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Stendeval mentions this trope when Jack and Skerren first meet and refuse to get along. Neither boy agrees with Stendeval at first, but they do eventually become this.
  • Five-Man Band: Among the Inner Circle:
  • The School of Thought also works this way.
  • Floating Island: The Imagine Nation not only floats, but it roams, too.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Comic books are extremely high on the list of banned items at St. Barnaby's. Naturally, Jack kept his comic collection hidden there. When the comics were found in the donation bin, they were ordered to be destroyed, but since they ordered Jack to destroy them, he took advantage of this to secretly hide the comics and read them for himself.
  • Forced to Watch: What the Rüstov did to Jack in their theater of war. They taped his eyes open and rapidly played films of thousands of earlier Rüstov conquests on multiple screens in high definition and surround sound. At first Jack thinks this is horrible, but later chooses to think of it as Chekhov's Lecture.
  • Forgot About His Powers: In-Universe example. To prevent the kids from interfering, Obscuro uses his memory powers on Skerren and Allegra so they forget how to use their powers, and threatens to Jack that he could make them forget everything unless Jack stands down.
  • Free-Range Children: This trope is played with. The News Nets say there's trouble in downtown Karateka. Jazen leaves and tells Jack not to go, but Jack sneaks out anyway. He calls Allegra to come with him, and she didn't even need to sneak out because the Valorian Guard thought she was overcoming her fears and acting bravely by going out alone at night. Skerren is also out there, but he was already allowed to go.
    • Most of The Secret War is about Jack and his friends wandering around the Imagine Nation by themselves in various dangerous situations. They get away with this by being superhero students; no one seems to care that they're children.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Jack contains a Rüstov infection, which combined with his technopathic abilities made him very valuable to the Rüstov as a weapon. They turn him into Revile.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Not entirely. While the Rüstov are declared unanimously as enemies by many alien species and the Rüstov themselves have declared war on all non-Rüstov races as stops in their intergalactic feast, Jack does feel some guilt fighting them because he knows around every Rüstov soldier is an innocent infected host body like himself.
  • Hannibal Lecture: The Magus gives one of these addressed to all the people of the Imagine Nation, telling them to surrender because there is no use in wasting their lives fighting, so they should just devote them to a worthier cause as Rüstov hosts.
    • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Jack responds in kind when the Magus reiterates his lecture a second time after they refused to listen the first time. He says that the Rüstov have thirty seconds to withdraw from Earth or he would come in rampaging and destroy them all.
  • Hard Light: Every computer console and TV screen is like this. Also, the ubiquitous Smart Paper is a sheet of hard light with all the functionality of a laptop computer.
    • Virtua's holographic avatar works this way so she can interact with the "unplugged world".
  • Hauled Before The Inner Circle: Jazen gets Smart to call a meeting of the Inner Circle as a delaying tactic to save Jack. Being infected by a Rüstov parasite means Jack technically has no rights and Smart was ready and willing to execute and dissect Jack right then and there, so Jazen suggests bringing Jack in to discuss his rights and fate.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Swords are Skerren's weapon of choice and the primary source of his powers. Jack is featured on the cover of The Secret War holding a sword, but the only time he uses it is near the end when Hypnova hands him a sword to defend himself against a mob of Rüstov soldiers, and it's hardly effective.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the first Rüstov invasion, the hero Legend grabbed Revile and shoved both Revile and himself into the Infinite Warp Core engine of the Rüstov mothership. It was the only way to stop Revile from regenerating.
    • Jazen makes such a sacrifice at the end of The Accidental Hero. After being outed as the one who had been feeding the Rüstov with intelligence, albeit unintentionally, Jazen stops it by grabbing the Rüstov attackers who reveal this to him and jumps out of the window, which is near the top floor of Smart Tower and is over 400 stories above the ground.
    • Virtua and her people do this at the end of The Secret War. Knowing that the time when the Rüstov computer virus goes active is drawing near, she has a wall constructed around Machina and orders all Mechas to download an update that will force a temporary shutdown while Jack attempts to cure the virus. If Jack fails, then Virtua issued a backup plan: an EMP blast will engulf Machina and destroy every Mecha within it beyond repair so none of them could become the Rüstov's Unwitting Pawn. Hovarth commends Virtua on her bravery, even though he rarely sees eye-to-eye with her.
  • Jack's opposition in End of Infinity insist that he do this to prevent a Bad Future, and he'd be remembered honorably. Jack vehemently chooses to Take a Third Option if he can figure out how.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: In The End of Infinity, Jack and Roka need to commandeer a vehicle to get away from hostiles. Jack jacks a hovercar, which Roka remarks is very impressive and he even likes the color. Neither of them mind that the car's owner, Clarkston Noteworthy, is currently sitting inside it.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Jack gets this constantly. People suspect and fear him due to his Rüstov infection and is regularly accused as a spy or villain before he even makes any actions because of it.
  • His Name Iz: Jack figures out that Agent "Jason Knight" isn't what he's expected to be when he reads that his name is spelled "Jazen" on his badge.
  • Homeless Hero/An Odd Place to Sleep: Lorem Ipsum's "home" is a bed within the staff barracks of an abandoned prison buried deep underground.
  • Human Popsicle: Jack's state in the epilogue of The Secret War. His body has been taken prisoner by the Rüstov and is en route to their throneworld, Rüst. His parasite Khalix taunts him by saying if Jack were awake instead of in cryosleep, he could look out the window and see the beautiful sight of Jupiter's moons.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: In End of Infinity, Roka's spaceship is damaged in an escape from Rüstov space. Jack uses his technopathic powers to drive the ship through hyperspace manually, noting that a split-second false step could end their journey very quickly.
  • Identity Amnesia: Solomon Roka was once Solomon Noteworthy, brother of Clarkston Noteworthy and black sheep of the Noteworthy family. He had fallen in love with the Secreteer Tabula Rasa, and this relationship was frowned upon so the other Secreteers made Roka forget who he was. But he never forgot about Rasa no matter how many times they tried.
  • Immune to Bullets: Smart's War Hawks fire many rounds to attack Jack, but his friends Jazen, Allegra and Blue manage to form a protective shield around him because the three of them can shrug them off.
  • In the Hood: Jack tries this at the end of The Secret War after trying to obscure his identity with a baseball cap didn't go so well at the beginning of the book. No one bothers him when he wears the hoodie, but it's equally likely that it's because there are much more important conflicts going on that require attention than a local celebrity.
  • Inept Aptitude Test: Jack is less than impressed when his result on the Potential Mapping Test telling him he's only suited to become a toilet brush cleaner. He even wonders if such a career exists because most people just throw old toilet brushes out.
  • Instant Expert: Jack's technopathic powers allow him to simply talk to any machine about how to work it, and he can use it like a pro in seconds.
  • Insufferable Genius: Jonas Smart tries to remind others of his genius any time he can. He wrote an entire book praising himself. His name is on nearly everything his company makes and still is upset that it's not on Maglev roads.
  • Intangible Man: Using a device called a Ghost Suit, Solomon Roka manages to sneak about the Rüstov mothership and phase through walls to avoid detection.
    • A similar device is the only way to enter and exit Securimax prison: there are no doors leading in or out and a resonance frequency code that allows one to pass through the walls is changed every minute.
    • Solomon Roka's ship, the Harbinger has its own device of this kind called the Ghost Box, which is activated so that his ship doesn't collide with anything during hyperspace jumps.
  • It's All About Me: At the end of End of Infinity, a celebration is held in honor of all the heroes that fought the Rüstov, but Virtua agrees that Jack alone is the hero being honored. Jonas Smart calls the celebration a travesty because he's not the guest of honor and he also made significant contributions.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Virtua accuses Smart of doing this toward her people, the Mechas, but has no proof. Smart says that if he did, he only used techniques such as circuit-boarding and energy-deprivation, which he claims are both perfectly legal procedures.
    • Smart does interrogate Jack in the first book, giving Jack an electric shock every time he answers, but it's subverted because Smart isn't torturing Jack for the information Smart asks Jack for. Smart ran all those experiments Jack consented to undergo to isolate Jack's "thought-print", and built power nullifiers that would prevent Jack from using his technopath abilities.
  • Just a Machine: When Jack takes his first trip into cyberspace, Virtua decides she won't turn it on automatically and leave it to Jack to use his powers to enter cyberspace. She suggests using his powers to ask the machine nicely to help him out. Jack initially gives this response, but Virtua insists that both she and new his best friend Jazen Knight are machines too and Jack respects them, so he should be able to open his mind to communicate with others.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: Solomon Roka is a space pirate who raids Rüstov transport vessels and frees Rüstov prisoners for money. That's not illegal in itself, but he usually operates without a license or permit, and he was working in the Calculan sector, who are all about rules and regulations. The Calculans sentenced him for 942 years, but were willing to erase Roka's sentence if he would volunteer to rescue Jack from Rüstov.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: This is the essential trope that runs The Secret War outside of Inventor's Block. Keeping secrets is what causes Jack's allies to lose faith in him very quickly, as well as several misunderstandings.
  • Killer Robot: Smart's War Hawk drones.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Inverted. The Rüstov spy Glave is impatient with the scientist who would carry out the experimental operation to create Revile, but does respect him. The doctor does not respect Glave, and also makes an insult about Glave's mother as Glave walks out.
  • Kneel Before The Magus
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A Secreteer specialty. Their memory powers are so laser-guided, they can give out "memory cards" that only appear blank; they have the recipient forget what's printed on them until the time is right.
  • Last of Their Kind: The Valorians who were the galactic police until a surprise attack by the Rüstov wiped out all but the battalion responding to the Rüstov decoy signal. They were extremely ecstatic to find Allegra on a refugee ship that escaped from a Rüstov body farm.
  • Late for School: This is how The Secret War begins. It's been a full year since Jack single-handedly defeated Revile, and he's such a hero that people stop him for adoration and autographs even when he's trying to keep a low profile. He is chastised for this, saying he should be capable of handling adoring fans by now, and is punished by being made "it" in their game of anti-gravity tag.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Jack starts out as a nobody with bad publicity, but in the second book he's a beloved celebrity. He becomes a much more polarizing figure in the third.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Smart was diagnosed with a terminal heart conditions, and multiple transplants had failed. Instead of giving up and dying, he had his heart removed and invented a system of magnets that pump his blood around; every day he eats iron-fortified foods to magnetize his blood. He's literally "heartless".
  • Logical Weakness: Jack and his friends are following behind Midknight and Noteworthy, suspecting the latter two of treachery. Midknight doesn't want the kids following them, so he throws a gadget that traps them. Jack can't use his powers against it because it's made from Organic Technology.
    • Skerren is Genre Savvy enough to invoke the same later on. The Varagog villagers are more than ready to place Jack in the stockade, but Skerren knows that while technology doesn't work in Varagog, Jack's powers still do and Jack can telekinetically control anything with moving parts, including a simple lock. Skerren suggests that the villagers instead tie him to a pole with a rope.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The Calculans sentence the Space Pirate Solomon Roka to 942 years in prison... for operating without a license. The length of the Calculan year isn't known, but 942 is still a lot of them.
  • Loophole Abuse: The School of Thought is playing a game of tag and Jack is "it". Chi shoots an arrow and declares that the arrow is "safe". Jack responds by stealing the arrow, placing it in another spot and babysitting it. When his classmates protest, Chi says that Jack's move is not only legal, but is also very clever.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: As a strategy to sow discord and gain points, Jonas Smart declares that Clarkston Noteworthy is Jack's father. Noteworthy proceeds to declare that while he did lose a son that would have been Jack's age during the first Rüstov invasion, he tells Jonas That Thing is Not My Child!. Jack decides that even if he doesn't know Smart's telling the truth or not, he refuses to think of Noteworthy as his father. The truth is much more complicated. Noteworthy isn't Jack's father, but Jack's father's brother, meaning they are technically related by blood if not directly. Jack's actual father didn't even know that he was Noteworthy's brother or that he had a son.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Growing up in St. Barnaby's, Jack was repeatedly called bad names such as "Ugg Boy" and "Weirdo Face". When he arrives in Empire City for the first time, Skerren calls him "Rusty".
  • Meaningful Name: Jack's last name, which actually came from his school papers. Whenever we wrote his name, it would only have Jack after it.
    • The third book reveals that Jack's mother was a Secreteer named Tabula Rasa. That means "blank slate" in Latin.
    • Many Secreteers have names like this, including Hypnova, Oblivia and Obscuro.
    • Lorem Ipsum's touch forces everyone to speak lorem ispum speech. Overlaps somewhat with Steven Ulysses Perhero.
    • Zhi Long commands dragons.
    • Virtua is not only virtual, but she also preaches and admires virtue.
  • Medieval Stasis: Enforced in Varagog. The borough sits in a time-pocket that makes every year 1404 down to the weather, and no futuristic technology can function within its borders.
  • Mega Corp.: Smart Corp.
  • Men Can't Keep House: In The Secret War, at the tender age of 13 years, Jack moves into an apartment with a makeshift computer lab in the lower room, all by himself. It's barely furnished, it's disorganized and half the equipment is broken, and moldy takeout is lying around everywhere.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Stendeval doesn't die in End Of Infinity, however Stendeval attracts attention from the Magus because of Stendeval's Swiss Army Superpower that allows him to make himself one day younger every day. The Magus wants that power to add to his own as well as remove the need for him to keep discarding old host bodies in favor of fresher ones, so he moves in and takes Stendeval's body for his own.
  • The Mole: The Great Collaborator, Silico, led the Rüstov to the Imagine Nation and opened its defenses to attack. He didn't do this willingly, however. The Rüstov implanted Silico with a computer virus so he would do their bidding. Jazen Knight is revealed to have been a mole in the same exact way at the end of the first book. It's taken Up to Eleven in the second: if Jack doesn't find a cure for the Rüstov computer virus, every Mecha in Empire City would become this.
  • Monumental Damage: In an air battle, Jack is using his powers to fire missles at a Rüstov transport ship, but loses concentration. Stray missles destroy the statue of Legend by accident. Jack grumbles that everyone's going to think he did that on purpose.
  • Moses in the Bullrushes: Allegra's origin story compares very closely to Superman. Her race usually fights to the death, but her mother chose to be taken captive because she was pregnant with Allegra at the time, and fought hard to ensure her baby daughter could get on a refugee ship away from Rüstov space. It was many years before Allegra finally arrived on Earth and was subsequently adopted by the remnants of the Valorian Guard.
  • Motive Equals Conclusive Evidence: Subverted. Jack's logic believes ever since the first invasion of the Rüstov, Smart had sworn to protect the people of the Imagine Nation by implementing a lot of brutal practices, including Sinister Surveillance of the population and perpetuating Fantastic Racism against Mechas, since The Great Collaborator, the one who betrayed the Imagine Nation by opening it up to the Rüstov, was a Mecha named Silico. Jack and Jazen come to the conclusion that Smart had orchestrated the whole Great Collaborator thing and pinned it on Silico to gain emergency wartime powers and keep them secure. When they bring this up to Smart, he's downright disgusted that they believe that of him because he would never even think of siding with the Rüstov, and he is quick to point out that they have absolutely no proof supporting their accusations. In short, Jack and Jazen had no proof and were also dead wrong.
  • Multiarmed Multitasking: As Jack and Jazen arrive in Virtua's data center, she tells Jack not to worry that he's seeing multiple copies of her avatar (as well as a large number of other epileptic lights). She's just running multiple processes in the background trying to update her operating system while she's talking to them.
  • My Future Self and Me: At the end of the third book, Jack already succumbed to his infection but the Revile from the first book still exists getting fried by the Infinite Warp Core engine. Jack wakes up Revile to help him defeat the Rüstov.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Revile has this reaction after being responsible for many of the victories of the Rüstov's infinite war. and manages to break free from their control.
  • Never Found the Body: Averted with Jazen, as they do find his twisted remains as the bottom of Smart Tower. See Not the Fall That Kills You below. Played straight at the end of the third book where many people go missing as a result of the all-out warfare that took place.
  • New Neighbours as the Plot Demands: Lampshaded by Stendeval. Cognito's Chaos Architecture means that the locations of residences move every few hours, but since the people of Cognito pride privacy and secrecy above all else, they usually don't worry about neighbors. When one of the daily twists sets Jack's and Stendeval's homes right next to each other, Stendeval says he's lucky because he just wanted to talk to Jack and now he doesn't have to go far to reach him.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: With alien zombie robots! How about that?
  • No Paper Future: Smart Paper, Hard Light sheets with all the functionality of a computer, have made paper obsolete. However, Stendeval still sends paper letters, and Jack keeps all his notes on mechanics inside paper notebooks. When his friend Trea calls him out on the inefficiency of using real paper when she has to leaf through every single page, Jack stands by his decision because he doesn't want to use any Smart products. He also wishes he could rip up Smart News when it displays slanders against him but since it's printed on a hologram it can only be deleted, not torn.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: Wading through a river causes all the inventions Jack packs in his bag to short out and become worthless.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Jazen falls off the top floor of Smart Tower at the end of the first book.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Imagine Nation's borders are not officially closed, but Jazen laments that so few new people arrive that they don't even staff the immigration line. By the time someone does come to assist Jack, he acts a lot like this.
  • Older than They Look: Stendeval is centuries old (see Really 700 Years Old below), but looks like he's in the prime of his life.
    • Revile claims he has spent thousands of years laying waste to thousands of inhabited worlds, but under his mask he has the face of a teenager. His regenerative powers have kept him alive since the day he had underwent the process that made him the Rüstov's primary Super Soldier.
    • A part of Midknight's powerset: he only ages during the day, not at night. He's a veteran in his fifties but is still active in superhero work and even attempted a campaign for Circleman of Hightown, only to have lost to Clarkston Noteworthy.
  • Once Green Mars: Provides the page quote. The Rüstov had ransacked Mars before coming to Earth, and Smart uses it as an example.
  • One of Us: Both Jack and the author are this, both being lovers of comic books.
  • Only One Name: An ironic example. Jack, being a foundling, is supposed to be just "Jack", but his Appropriated Appellation Blank gives him two. However, Jack's friends Skerren and Allegra are referred to by only one name, and their parents' identities were known.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Magus is the biggest and most powerful Rüstov, but he doesn't do much in the way of actual fighting. His influence involves a lot of mental control: he controls all his troops with his mental influence and negatively affects Jack's ability to keep his infection in remission with that power as well.
  • Outside Ride: To hitch onto Hypnova's airship without being noticed, Allegra grabs the side of the ship, forms into a pocket and has Jack and Skerren ride with her.
    • Jack does this in End Of Infinity in a space dogfight with Rüstov Shardwings. Since Rüstov technology is very disorganized and cobbled together, the sides of the Shardwings have handles he could grasp onto.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: Allegra falls off the outside of a car during a high-speed chase and lands on top of another car. Because she's Made of Iron, she's perfectly fine, but the car she lands on is not.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Jack wasn't conscious for a year in Rüstov captivity. In End of Infinity, he keeps getting troubled flashbacks about being on the operating table and experimented on, as well as viewing hundreds of planets die in the Rüstov Theater of War, courtesy of his parasite attempting to break Jack's will and take control.
  • People Farms: Allegra was born in one. The Rüstov are known to spend years on a conquered planet consuming it with little care until nothing but a barren husk remains and simply move onto the next; where they keep these farms is not known.
  • Perma Stubble: Solomon Roka is first introduced with three days worth of stubble on his face.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: When Lorem Ipsum first appears in The Secret War, she's using her phone to text her friends rather than supporting the supercriminals she's tagging along with. The next time she's seen, she's using her phone as an MP3 player and could care less about what Jack's problems.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Jack loses the confidence of his friends Skerren and Allegra when he lets Lorem Ipsum in on a secret plan and doesn't tell the others; Lorem was previously an enemy and Skerren and Allegra are his closest confidants. It gets worse when the plan backfires and Lorem betrays Jack anyway. Skerren chews him out for doing this. Allegra is also mad enough that she tries to throw away the communicator watch Jack made for her, but hesitates.
  • Power Nullifier: Smart builds lots of these to stop Jack's technopathic powers, and they often get in the way at the worst moments.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Invoked by Stendeval when testing Allegra. He shows her an elaborate stained-glass sphere he owns, claims it's very old and very valuable and has a lot of sentimental value to him, and instructs Allegra to hand it to him... while he floats across the room, forcing her to use her stretching powers to do it. Allegra grows nervous, her hand turns to liquid and drops it, but Stendeval just calmly uses his powers to fix it as if it were never broken.
  • Projected Woman: Virtua is an AI stored within a Big Labyrinthine Building that serves as her data center, and she has an image caster named Projo who projects images of her avatar; an attractive woman.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Valorians are known for fighting bravely; a true Valorian knows no fear and they usually fight to the death. However, they are also a peaceful people and usually fight to protect others.
    • Exaggerated with the Rüstov, who pride themselves for living in a constant state of never-ending infinite war so they never stop fighting and strategizing.
  • Psycho for Hire: Every member of the Peacemakers is implied to be like this in one way or another.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until She Turned to Evil: Midknight states that Lorem Ipsum was once a student of the School of Thought and worked alongside him until she had dropped out because her father wanted to take full control of her training. Lorem is not "evil", but she is introduced as an accessory to a crime and working against the heroes.
  • Space Pirate: Solomon Roka is called one, but he insists on the term "high-risk entrepeneur".
  • The Spock: Jonas Smart is heartless literally and is about as calculating as Stendeval is caring.
    • The third book has a group of aliens called the Calculans who make decisions based on probability rather than emotion. They would rather leave Earth to die and write it off as an acceptable loss if they had a better chance of fighting the Rüstov that way.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Every morning, the first thing Stendeval does with his powers is make himself one day younger. He's been doing this for the past 500 years.
  • Red Herring: There's a big one in each book.
    • In The Accidental Hero, Jack suspects Jonas Smart of being The Mole to keep his emergency wartime powers secure. He's way off the mark; Smart's nasty but he's not siding with the Rüstov. The Mole is Jazen, but not by choice.
    • In The Secret War, Jack suspects Clarkston Noteworthy of being the Rüstov agent Glave because Noteworthy uses a glave as a weapon of choice. Once again, he's dead wrong. Noteworthy's innocent and Glave is actually Obscuro, who had secretly been infected by the Rüstov Glave before the book began.
    • In The End of Infinity, Jonas tells everyone that Clarkston Noteworthy is Jack's father. Neither Jack nor Noteworthy believe Smart, but Noteworthy did lose a son around the time Jack was taken away and the Calculans declare that the two must be related. Jack's right this time. Noteworthy isn't is father, but he is related to Jack; he's Jack's father's brother. Jack's real father is Solomon Roka, who never knew he had a son due to memory loss.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Clarkston Noteworthy fills this role, but when he's introduced he does have a day job as the Circleman that replaced Jonas Smart after the last election. However, Noteworthy is more concerned about socializing than doing his job as a politician.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Jazen looks indistinguishable from a human unless you run him through a metal detector or X-ray machine.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Jack in The Secret War, but out of fear more than laziness. He could have finished his big project at the beginning of the book rather than at the end, but he was too afraid of using his powers to reach out to his own parasite in case it would wake up and take control, so he kept meandering around it by trying to find another source of Rüstov tech or focusing on other distractions to delay having to connect to his parasite.
  • Robo Romance: Virtua spends much of End of Infinity acting very possessive of her newly-promoted Commander Jazen Knight when he gets in trouble. It isn't revealed until the very end that the two became a couple between books because they felt there were more important things to worry about. It's especially notable because in this trilogy, Everyone Is Single and there aren't any other romantic pairings.
  • Robot Buddy: Jazen to Jack.
  • Robot Republic: Machina is only one of Empire City's six boroughs, but it's populated entirely with mechanical folk, and they can elect their own representative to the Inner Circle.
  • Robotic Reveal: Right at the beginning, Jazen sets off a metal detector's alarms at the New Jersey harbor, and Jack discovers that Jazen is a android when he passes through an X-Ray machine in the hall of records, and opens up his arm to reveal the mechanisms inside it. Jazen didn't want to tell Jack right away because he didn't want to blow Jack's mind.
  • Rousing Speech: Stendeval delivers one of these for the Dedication Day festivities, and decides to re-name the holiday Rededication Day. Since no one in the Imagine Nation had seen the beloved hero for over a decade, his return received a very positive response.
  • Royal Brat: Jack's parasite, Khalix, is the son of the Magus, which makes him the Rüstov prince. And he spends every moment trolling Jack.
    • Surprisingly, not Skerren, despite his adoption by Hovarth. It's only barely implied that Skerren would be Hovarth's heir given that the king is otherwise childless, and Skerren himself is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Hovarth is the warrior king of Varagog village, and he always leads his people in combat.
  • Sacrificial Planet: A throwaway line in the first book shows that the planet of Mars once was as green as Earth, and that the reason it's as barren as it we know it is because the planet-consuming Rüstov already finished with it, and they are presently attempting to invade the Earth.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Rüstov.
  • Science Hero: In line with his technopathic abilities, Virtua encourages Jack to study physics and engineering to get a much better grasp on how machines work so he can interact with them better. However, while he does build his own inventions and work on his secret projects, his friend Trea still mocked him because she found more than half of his scientific data from his notes incorrect. Part of Trea's power set is super-intelligence, which Jack doesn't have, and trying to understand things beyond college and at the super-intelligent level isn't automatically easy for him being only thirteen without super-enhanced intelligence, but having technopathic abilities helps out a lot.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Every Rüstov Para-Soldier is equipped with one. They use the Omega Protocol as their way of avoiding capture. Revile attempted to use the Omega Protocol to end the first Battle of Empire City before Legend intervened.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Everywhere, from flying Smart Cams to Peacemaker teams in the streets. The people of Machina especially have no privacy.
  • Soft Glass: During Jack's escape from a battle, Jack drives a hovercar through a building and crashes it out through a window. None of the passengers are harmed and the car is still perfectly drivable afterward; Roka's only upset that Jack didn't give any warning that they would go through a window because he was driving a convertible.
  • StableTimeLoop: Double-subverted. Revile attempts to kill Jack as a child so Jack never gets the chance to become Revile. Going back in time to kill Jack the first time puts special attention on Jack so he was sent away and protected as he grew up. Revile's second attempt to kill Jack called more attention to the boy, which brought him back to the Imagine Nation and nominated for training in the School of Thought. Revile's last-ditch attempt to stop Jack from realizing his future is to stop the Rüstov from kidnapping him and taking him to Rüst for processing, but since Revile doesn't disappear, he only believes that only delayed the future rather than preventing outright. Eventually, Jack does succumb to his Rüstov infection, but he doesn't stay Revile long enough to commit the millenia of atrocities Revile feels guilty for, and through the future Revile's help he actually manages to defeat the Rüstov and has his human body restored, effectively meaning the time loop was broken and somehow Revile exists even though he isn't chronologically supposed to.
  • Stock Superpowers: On a Floating Island where everyone is a super person of one kind or another this is guaranteed.
  • Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe example. On Jack's first trip into Machina, he is stopped by a holographic help agent named Shortcut more than once. He's already being guided by Jazen, and neither of them need Shortcut so they always decline. After the third declination, Shortcut gets offended and doesn't bother them again.
  • Strawman News Media: Smart News is painted as this. It regularly only tells Jonas Smart's side of the story, makes him look good, and uses Manipulative Editing to make Rüstov-infected Jack look bad.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: the Rüstov and the Valorians.
  • Superhero School: The School of Thought is one, however it's not really so much a "school" as it is an educational program that's generally improvised by the Inner Circle.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Jazen's job is to bring people to the island and escort them around. He's capable of neutralizing 72% percent of any threats that they might encounter. Jack doesn't find that assuring at first, but in the Imagine Nation, 72% covers a lot of potential situations. Jazen is a lot tougher than he appears, being downright bulletproof, able to stop super-speedsters with his hands, scan areas for potential threats and the hydraulics in his legs can allow him to leap across large gaps between rooftops.
  • Supreme Chef: Jazen can cook really well. He has 2.7 million recipes stored in his databank, including flopflips made from Kazellian floovberries and scissor shark steaks. Doubles as Deaf Composer when Blue remarks how someone without tastebuds can cook so well.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Subverted. Jack manages to break into Smart Tower with Jazen's help by crashing through a window. They instantly meet up with Speedrazor, but Jazen subdues and impersonates him on the comlink to avoid suspicion. Jack then covers his eyes and other parts of his body that biometric scanners would pick up and uses his technopathic powers to ask the kiosks to guide him where he needs to go, and he does so successfully. However, when he finally reaches his destination, Jonas Smart is already there waiting for him; he was tracking Jack's progress the whole time and allowed him and Jazen to break in to lead them into a trap.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Jack does this, and it's apparently coherent enough that his friends manage to hear the whole story about what the Rüstov did to him in captivity.
  • Teleportation Sickness: Jack feels this the first time Stendeval uses his powers to teleport him, the other prospective School of Thought students and the rest of the Inner Circle to Mount Nevertop. Chi tells Jack that he'll get used to it over time.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Jack doesn't have a family, but is very curious to learn who they are. The first time he has a chance to read his birth certificate, the file ends up corrupted, then deleted before he can read it. The second time, he hears from Obscuro that he knows about a father, but he was referring to The Magus, the father of Jack's parasite, Khalix. The third time, Jonas Smart declares and insists that Clarkston Noteworthy is Jack's father, but the two deny the familial relationship and have nothing but enmity for each other. It's not until the very end that Jack finds out his real father is Solomon Roka, whom he had grown to become close friends with throughout the third book, and neither of them knew it until then.
  • Temporal Paradox: Revile attempts one of these to ensure he will never become what he is. He attempted to murder Jack three times but had failed: the first because Stendeval intervened and believed in Infant Immortality, the second because Revile hesitated and got blasted away by Jack's powers on accident, and the third because Jack creatively used his powers to defeat him. He manages to at least delay the time of his transformation but in the end it is the actions of Jack and others who prevent Revile from ever winning a single battle for the Rüstov. Even the future Revile helps Jack out.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Revile is hunting Jack, and knows precisely where to find him: at St. Barnaby's. Afterward, Jazen appears to collect Jack, saying he got a note from Stendeval telling him where to find Jack. Justified. Revile is Jack's evil future self, and Stendeval reveals later that he was the one who placed Jack in St. Barnaby's to hide him from Revile.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Revile goes back in time to prevent his future from ever happening. He dies in the attempt. Jack carefully examines Revile's remains and uses his findings to ensure Revile's future never happens. Revile's remains don't disappear. Where did they come from?
  • Tragic Dropout: Lorem Ipsum, because her father wanted to take her out of the School of Thought and train her himself. Implied with Trea's former classmates: she's the only one in her year because the others dropped out, but the text doesn't mention who they are or how many of them there were.
  • Tribal Carry: What the Varagog villagers do to Jack after he crashes the medical evacuation vehicle in their borough.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: As a hologram, Virtua employs this. She can wear a different outfit when she projects herself in a different place. She even can change color when she wants to.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Lampshaded in the first book. Jack doesn't know what's more surprising: the constant superfighting outside or that he's actually getting used to seeing them.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: This is what a Rüstov parasite does to its host: circuits rise from under the skin, flesh and bones turns to rusted metal, blood turns to oil, and the longer a Rüstov stays in a host body, the more advanced this technological transformation gets. Ironically, the Rüstov themselves don't see this as desirable either. Rüstov pride purity and freshness in their hosts; having mechanical imperfections appear as a result of feeding off the host is referred to as "decay", and Rüstov nobility would discard bodies as hand-me-downs to the lower class because the slightest sign of decay is not presentable.
  • Unwitting Pawn: See The Mole, above.
  • Virtual Celebrity: Not a musician, but a politician. Virtua, the Circlewoman of Machina, is contained within a large data center and uses a Hard Light projection in the "unplugged" world.
  • Virus Misnomer: A Rüstov infection is regularly referred to as a "virus". It's actually a Puppeteer Parasite that burrows inside a person and slowly transforms the host into a walking pile of rusted scrap metal shaped like the host and isn't a virus at all. The only part that vaguely resembles a virus is that it manifests in the form of tiny nanites before the decay sets in.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Jazen's body gets badly crushed after falling off Smart Tower at the end of Accidental Hero. Jack manages to repair him by the end of Secret War with upgrades included.
  • Weekend Inventor: Jack becomes this in The Secret War, having spent a year developing new gadgets for himself to use.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Jonas Smart only wants to keep the Imagine Nation safe from the Rüstov and make sure they are prepared in the event of another invasion, however his methods of doing so are often brutal and invasive.
  • When Trees Attack: In the second book, harming Gravenmurk Glen causes hostile golems made from plants and earth to rise up and defend themselves.
  • Where It All Began: Not as an ending, but as a beginning. Accidental Hero has Jack leaving behind St. Barnaby's after they failed to believe his Cassandra Truth about a robo-zombie. At the beginning of End Of Infinity, Jack crash-lands a starship right next to St. Barnaby's by accident, and they still have trouble believing he's returned and that his friends Allegra and Jazen are real.
  • Wuxia: The borough of Karateka is loaded with ninjas and kung-fu warriors. It's not your ordinary Friendly Local Chinatown.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The Rüstov subscribe to the ideology that every battle in their infinite war is a form of manifest destiny: no matter how hard their targets fight, the Rüstov will always win, and they use this as a psychological tactic to demoralize opponents.
    • Revile begins to subscribe to this when his efforts to create a Temporal Paradox fail, but that only makes him want to try harder.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Lorem Ipsum's hair is purple.
  • You Have 48 Hours: The second book has rogue Secreteer Obscuro issue a warning that the Rüstov will attack and that Empire City will be doomed in exactly five days.
I Want To Go Home!Children's LiteratureJacob Two-Two
Ixia and SitiaFantasy LiteratureJason Cosmo
I Want My Hat BackLiterature of the 2010sJack Rodman

alternative title(s): Jack Blank
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