Literature / Legacy of the Aldenata
The Legacy of the Aldenata
, sometimes known as the Posleen War Series, is a science fiction universe created by Military Science-Fiction
author John Ringo
. The series started in the year 2000 with the publication of A Hymn Before Battle
, set Twenty Minutes into the Future
. As you can imagine, it is now Alternate History
. The story starts with the Galactic Federation
, a coalition of seemingly, note the operative word here, benevolent races make first contact (not really though for numerous reasons) with Earth. That's the good news.
The bad news is that they are being invaded by the Posleen, or People of the Ships in their language, and for various reasons the Galactics can't fight worth a damn. This combined with humanity's long
history of military confrontation means that Humans Are Special
and get offered a job as Hired Guns
for the Galactics, defending them from the Posleen in exchange for advanced tech. Oh, and a chance to defend Earth from the Posleen which are headed our way. And the rulers of the Galactic Federation, the Darhel, are a bunch of Corrupt Corporate Executives
that want to turn all of humanity into slave soldiers to keep them in power. After the Posleen are defeated, however, The Federation
is invaded by enemies worse than the Posleen, and all the mismanagement and cynical manipulation done by those Corrupt Corporate Executives starts to bite them in the ass.
Between the top-notch military action, dark humor, political intrigue and back-stabbing, this series is one of the best works of Military Science-Fiction
Setting contains Examples of:
- Abusive Precursors: The Aldenata, long since vanished, are known to have meddled with every race aside from humanity, generally never with results for the better. And the other races aren't so sure that the humans haven't been messed with, too. To be more explicit? The Aldenata are the reason why the Darhel become comatose after killing something - anything - despite clearly having evolved to be very efficient predators; the adrenaline triggers the release of tal which seems to be an endorphin-equivalent - the problem is, the release triggered by killing is so severe the Darhel in question becomes functionally, permanently chemically lobotomized. Most of the other races are quite sure that the Aldenata used to use the Posleen as shock troops in a war of some sort. This worries people, since they have no clue why the Aldenata vanished, or who they would have been using the Posleen against. But the heel face turn of the Posleen in the latest book seems to shed some light. In The Tuloriad Aldenata meddling with the Posleen is further explained, as Tula'stenaloor seeks information about the Posleen past.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Galactics tried to design AIs to fight the Posleen, but the AIs tried to take over. Subsequently, the AI devices (AIDs) the Darhel provide to humans turn out to have backdoors that allow the Darhel to learn exactly what the humans are doing, and pass that information along to the Posleen. (On the other hand, an AID that went "insane" turned into one of mankind's staunchest allies.) Meanwhile, the best human-made AI devices, Buckleys, have highly unstable personalities and are prone to crashing if their AI emulation is set too high. the original Buckley wasn't too stable when he was alive though...
- Alien Invasion: The Posleen are this trope personified.
- Ancient Conspiracy:
- On the side of light, so to speak, are the Bane Sidhe and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who are working together against the Darhel, an evil Ancient Conspiracy aided by collaborationist humans.
- In Eye of the Storm, it comes out that the Darhel used to use humans as a labor force, with tame Posleen to train them in the ways of fighting. This turns out to form the basis for legends of Atlantis, and of ancient Greek centaurs.
- Animal Wrongs Group: "Greens" conspire with the Darhel to sabotage the war effort and let most of humanity die.
- Antimatter: Antimatter is the primary source of power for Galactic ships, and forms the core of the heavy artillery shells fired by SheVas and the primary weapon of the space dreadnoughts, a giant rail gun.
- Anyone Can Die: Few of the characters from the first book with any development at all survive to the current book of the series, and sometimes they die or are believed to be dead several times, and not just Buckleys (see Designated Victim, below).
- Apocalypse How: Multiple levels:
- Earth gets put through between a Class 1 and a Class 2
- The Posleen pull Class 5s so often they have a term for it.
- Arbitrary Maximum Range: Averted with the M-300 grav rifles carried by the ACS. The just-barely-sublight pellets have no real maximum range. The only practical limits are those of the targeting system. In Layman's Terms, if you can target it, you can reach it.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: O'Neal develops a series of "plays", like those used in American football, to describe basic maneuvers for ACS troopers to perform when on the battlefield, for the sake of short commands that can be spoken quickly.
- Author Appeal: Ringo likes S&M apparently. Other interests of contributing authors that make it into this series include devout Christianity (in The Tuloriad), Sluggy Freelance, favorite music (see Autobots, Rock Out! below), and attractive women with oversized endowments (Cally in her "Sinda Makepeace" body, Daisy Mae, Glennis LeBlancnote , etc.)
- Author Avatar: Michael O'Neal has a rather similar background to the Author. Including the same career, similar family structure, same hobbies and so on.
- Author Tract / Writer on Board: Watch is this according to the after-word, with the baby-eating lizards standing in for Islamistic Terrorists.
- Ascended Fanboy: When the Galactics contact Earth and tell them about the incoming Posleen fleet, Earth assembles a brain-trust to come up with ways to defeat the incoming horde. A large chunk of said team are science fiction authors; who are recruited because they actually think about this kind of crap all the time. They then get to help make some of their dreams reality. Then someone notices that the military suddenly recruited all these people...
- Autobots, Rock Out!: Michael O'Neal, Jr uses a lot of older rock for inspirational music before battle, as well as for pacing ACS marching, since the long, loping strides of ACS don't lend themselves to traditional marching cadences used by unassisted soldiers.
- Badass Adorable: Anne Elgars, a member of "The 600" and a captain in "The Ten Thousand", who was rendered comatose during the Battle of the Monument, only to have her mind and body rebuilt and upgraded by the Galactics. The resulting person is technically no longer Anne Elgars, but possessing a new personality, as well as the skill sets and memories of multiple Special Operations members. This includes being an expert marksman, master at hand-to-hand combat, and capable of rigging an entire hydroponics complex to blow up an underground city using only some spare parts found in a toolbox. Sadly, the experiments in perfecting the upgrading process made her think she was crazy. Elgars does make friends through Wendy Cummings, and many of her actions allow her to either make new friends, or protect what few friends she has.
- Badass Bookworm:
- Michael O'Neal, Jr is a self-professed geek who has written and published science fiction stories, who was working as a website designer before being called into service. His exploits in the story are numerous and varied, but hand detonating an impromptu anti-matter bomb, and surviving the resultant explosion (if not without some serious damage) is certainly at or near the top of the list.
- Another Badass Bookworm is Tommy Sunday, whose earliest appearance is as a computer geek and strategy gaming buff whose father is frustrated isn't going out for the football team. He is subsequently responsible for a number of combat simulation programs that are so good that they are used by the ACS itself.
- Badass Family: Michael O'Neal, Sr is the patriarch of just one of many families that prove themselves a credit to their species.
- Badass Normal: The Ten Thousand, an Armored Conbat Suit support unit composed entirely of non-armored humans using a mixture of Human, Galactic, and stolen Posleen weapons and tech.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The races touched by the Aldenata have interacted with humanity before. The Posleen formed the basis of several myths, such as centaurs, while the Darhel and Indowy became elves and dwarves, respectively. Furthermore, the Indowy once tried to create a weapon for the humans to use against the Darhel, but Siegfried, the hero of Germanic lore, betrayed the Indowy and slaughtered them all in their secret hideout, mirroring the heroism of the tales of Siegfried told by humans.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: In Gust Front, Tommy Sunday, Jr, and his future girlfriend make a promise that if one is unable to kill themself, the other will do it for them, instead of leaving them alive for the Posleen to find and invite for dinner.
- BFG: Way too many examples to list, pretty much anything carried by the ACS and the Posleen.
- Big Bulky Bomb: In Gust Front, the Fredericksburg Executive Building in Fredricksburg, Virginia is filled with propane for the purpose of turning it into a giant fuel-air explosive that, when detonated, completely levels the town, as part of a deception to keep the Posleen from locating the impromptu bomb shelter the townspeople are using to hide from the aliens.
- Big Damn Heroes: The ACS often serve in this role, particularly the units headed by Mike O'Neal, Jr. In one charge to the rescue in Gust Front, at the battle in Washington, DC he even plays Yellow Ribbon, the anthem for the US Cavalry, over the suit speakers.
- Bookends: One of John Ringo's writing quirks, which is most prominent in this series, is to have paragraphs from different perspectives or viewpoints connected together by shared words or phrases. For example, one character might say something at the end of one paragraph, then the character of the next paragraph, in a different location, might think or say something similar.
- Blade on a Stick: The Swiss Guardsmen's halberds from The Tuloriad.
- Blue and Orange Morality: "Aliens are alien! is pretty much a mantra in the Cally series. Pretty much ignored in the rest of the novels.
- Break Out the Museum Piece:
- Museum ships like old battleships are reactivated and upgraded to fight the invading alien Posleen. A WW2 cruiser, the USS Des Moines, is brought back into service and upgraded with Galactic Federation tech to help secure the Panama Canal region in Yellow Eyes
- Elderly retired soldiers are rejuvenated with tech from more friendly alien allies to fight as young soldiers again. The "rejuv" pills become a major part of the plot, especially when they run out before the enlisted men are called into action in a bit of Author Tract about the current U.S. military being top-heavy with officers. In Watch on the Rhine, the Germans break out the Nazis, albeit under protest.
- Brick Joke:
- Aelool makes the Posleen Tula'stenaloor "an offer you can't refuse" at the end of Hell's Faire... but it takes until The Tuloriad half a dozen books later for the outcome of that offer to be shown.
- In Watch On The Rhine, General Muelenkampf mentions offhandedly that the SS would have had a Jewish unit. Around halfway through the book, we are told that such a unit has now been formed.
- Canon Discontinuity: As Co-Authors came in, the Author's original list of surviving nations as published is retconned out of existence. Notably except for scattered survivors the original Arc ended with only the US and Canada between the Rockies and Appalachians being functional. Later books add at least survivor states for Germany, Switzerland, Panama, Scandinavia, Chile, Japan, China and Nepal. One of the co-author books, the farther-future-setting The Hero, was declared by Ringo to no longer canon, due to the epilogue of Watch on the Rhine and Eye of the Storm.
- The Cavalry: The end of Hell's Faire, when a Fleet/Fleet Strike task force, acting against Darhel orders, shows up just in time to not only save the 555th's ass, but to finish breaking the back of Posleen activity on Earth. Naturally, the Darhel react by killing or torpedoing the careers of every officer involved....
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted when the French troops involved with the expeditionary force on Diess are treated well by Ringo in Gust Front. Their political leadership suffers the same fate as most political organs in the series in Watch on the Rhine, however.
- Citadel City: New York City and any city deemed indefensible against the Posleen were fortified.
- Colonel Badass: Colonel Cutprice, a rejuvenated Medal of Honor winner and one of the most decorated Korean War veterans. Later he's leader of The ten Thousand, an elite fighting group arguably more badass than the ACS as a whole, as the Ten Thousand fight without the benefit of Powered Armor. It's explicitly stated that he refuses promotion above the rank of Colonel.
- Comically Missing the Point: In a very dark comedy way that combines with Poor Communication Kills. After the Posleen touch down on Earth, they are quick to discover that humans do not "fight fair" or "fight honorably" by fighting out in the open in massive formations similar to Napoleonic-era British tactics. The kessentai of the Posleen hordes regularly complain that the humans do not seem to understand the Path of Fire and Fury, a Posleen, not human, war philosophy, and are "monsters" because they use landmines, boobytraps, and other defensive materiel, as well as guerilla tactics involving deception, trickery, and liberal usage of indirect fire. What they constantly fail to understand is that, to the humans, the Posleen are the monsters because they eat other sentient lifeforms.
- Continuity Snarl: The recovery of the Des Moines is depicted in The Tuloriad as happening in 2013, but in Yellow Eyes and Eye of the Storm as happening after "decades", around 2060. Presumably this was because the authors later realized there would not be adequate time for the events in The Tuloriad (which was written last) to unfold unless the recovery was pushed up a few decades.
- Cool Ship: "Daisy Mae," even before her starship upgrade from a modernized Des Moines class heavy cruiser. The AI itself is the icing on the cake.
- Cool Starship: "Daisy Mae," after her upgrade. Arguably, the Federation Fleet warships qualify when used as intended. The performance of the Lexington IV in Eye of the Storm is probably a good example of how superdreadnoughts are supposed to be used in battle.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: the Darhels' major Hat.
- Cosmetic Catastrophe: In Hell's Faire, the thirteen year old Cally O'Neal attempts to make her self up like Britney Spears does, but the end result winds up as "raccoon eyes", and Papa O'Neal afraid that if she's seen by others like that he'd be accused of child abuse. Fortunately for Cally some of the visitors to the farm where she and Papa live are much better at applying makeup, and fix the problem.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: In When the Devil Dances, Mike O'Neal's custom ACS has a flamethrower installed. When the non-ACS Colonel Cutprice sees it demonstrated, he asks to give it a try. In this case, it means Mike using the 'thrower with it held up for the flame to make a torch, and Cutprice leaning into to light a cigarette without any ill effects from being so close to the flame.
- Covers Always Lie: All four of the main series covers are in some way different from what the books describe.
- A Hymn Before Battle is fairly accurate, but Elsworthy is the sniper, yet both solders are shown with the same oddly designed weapon. They are also wearing cut down BD Us - not good for camouflage.
- Gust Front shows an ACS that you can see through the faceplate off. It is repeatedly mentioned that Armoured Combat Suits have blank faceplates. Also, the landers don't look like 'flying skyscrapers' so much as giant pentagonal pillboxes.
- When The Devil Dances shows spherical C-Decs. They are repeatedly stated to be dodecahedrons. Also, there is a nuclear blast in the background. Cally is never standing up brandishing weapons out in the open during nuclear blasts, not least because being out in the open like that is an invitation to Posleen to shoot at you. Also, nuclear detonation in plain view. She'd be knocked over or at the very least blinded. Not only does the cover lie, but it makes little sense either.
- Hell's Faire. Oh dear oh dear, Hell's Faire. The Posleen are shown as green and not yellow, with red blood despite the fact that the blood is described as yellow almost as much as the World War series reminds us the Race have turreted eyes. You can see through the ACS faceplates, the suits look positively skinny despite ranging from 'muscular' to 'spherical' from books in the description, and the SheVa in the background looks nothing like the functional, non-aesthetic vehicle's 3D models provided at the end of the book. Still, the cover's SheVa does look a lot more awesome.
- Crapsack World: Earth, post-Posleen War, as explored in the Cally series (Cally's War, Sister Time, and Honor of the Clan). In addition to the nearly six billion casualties, the federal government is corrupt, deciding to not relinquish their emergency war powers due to a Posleen threat that is effectively suppressed, but still has most of humanity living in walled cities and communities along the East and West coasts of America, and the Sub-Urbs set up as shelters for the displaced refugees that are woefully inadequate for their intended purpose. Much of this is due to political manipulation by the Darhel, who are trying to keep humanity under their control.
- Crazy Enough to Work: In A Hymn Before Battle during the events of the defense of Diess, Lt. O'Neal had acquired a reputation for plans that sounded crazy but were thought to possibly work, due to the successes of his unconventional campaign against the Posleen.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: One of the Darhel's other hats, due to their predatory origins before the Aldenata modified them. The Indowy are very wise to the Darhel corporate capabilities to not only fight amongst themselves and set each other up for defeat, but also to screw over the Indowy workers that they treat as expendable. Humans, on the other hand, are total schmucks due to their relative naivete that the Darhel are their friends. This leads to many a situation during the Posleen War where various groups work for the Darhel to guarantee offworld transit for their families away from the war, most not entirely realizing that they are simply pawns in a much bigger scheme to enslave the humans in much the same way the Indowy are, so the survivors of the Posleen War are permanently indebted to the Darhel. To do this, though, the humans must win against the Posleen by the barest minimum, and the continued possession of the Earth by human interests may or may not be part of the Darhel plan...
- Door Stopper: Ringo's novels tend to be somewhat long but not long enough to qualify, in general; however, the last two books of the original set for the Posleen War Series, Hell's Faire and When the Devil Dances, were originally to be one novel. The events of 9/11 threw off Ringo's muse, according to him in the afterword for HF, and the work was broken up to get a book to the printers before it got ridiculously late (instead of the actual somewhat late). Had the two been printed together as originally planned, the resultant work would've easily cleared the lower limit for door stopper page counts.
- Deadline News In Gust Front, a reporter doing a feature on the human forces battling the Posleen on another world is witness to and victim of an unexpected attack that's deliberately shown on the air when the President of the US does a press conference announcing Humanity's First Contact and the pending Alien Invasion. The last scene shown, recorded by the camera that was dropped when the operator was killed, was one of the French Foreign Legion bodyguards shouting "Camarón!" note as he jumps into combat with just his knife, presumably killed off-screen.
- Designated Victim:
- The Real Life Joe Buckley's fate as Baen's DV started with this series, as an originally unnamed ACS trooper who had a hand blown off by a grenade, then part of a destroyed Posleen warship dropped on his head, plus other abuses until the character's final death in Hell's Faire. By the time of Cally's War there is an AI upload of him that's the only known semi-stable human AI. Under high enough performance levels and enough stress, the AI will hard reboot dozens of times a second, each reboot killing him off again and reloading a back up copy of the default personality.
- During Yellow Eyes, the Posleen God-King Guanomariok also qualifies as this. Minutes after landing on Earth, he has his hand seared by the barrel of a machinegun, and by the time he recovers, the fighting is over, meaning he has to go farm. A few years later, his small clan is forced into The Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia. Not at first understanding why this region is undeveloped, Guano quickly discovers as he and his clan is assaulted by mosquitos, leeches, tree ants, cayman (which results in part of Guano's reproductive member being severed), Special Forces snipers, and a vengeful native. Guano is captured by the latter, the only survivor of his clan, but is released and becomes a minor character in The Tuloriad.
- Dungeon Bypass: The "Screaming Meemie" units accompanying the 7000 ton "Bun Bun", in When the Devil Dances and Hell's Faire, tend to take full advantage of the passage of the SheVa smashing everything in its path flat. The resultant path is still impassable for wheeled vehicles, but for the tanksnote traveling through the impressions that each section of tread leaves isn't a problem, and a SheVa isn't going to be noticeably slowed down even if a small town happens to be in its path.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In Honor of the Clan, Matt Prewitt, hired for a hit on the family of a group that defected to the Bane Sidhe, has no problems with a contracted murder of the family, but when his immediate boss, a complete psychopath, knowingly leaves a baby to burn to death instead of taking the time to put the child out of her misery, Prewitt puts two rounds in the boss's head because of it, telling the now-corpse "even I wouldn't leave a baby to burn, you sick son of a bitch".
- Explosive Instrumentation: During the Posleen assault on the Rabun Gap wall, in When the Devil Dances, one of the consoles in SheVa 14, supporting the wall's defenders, explodes after a plasma gun hit penetrates into the command center.It's immediately lampshaded by the SheVa's commander. And then it turns out that it killed another crew member, who had been surrounded by monitors in an almost 360-degree circle. When the power surge hit "there were thousands of volts all of a sudden going nowhere." The poor guy was "carbonized".
- Expy: The Posleen are semi-reptilian centauroids who were genetically manipulated into become a xenocidal race... just like the Achultanni from David Weber's "Empire from the Ashes" series. Of course, Ringo and Weber are good friends and it is possible that Ringo was essentially say "Cool Idea bro, but I can do it better."
- Fantastic Religious Weirdness:
- Because of the wiping out of five-sixths of Earth's population and the need to repopulate not only has the Catholic Church decided to permit priests and nuns to marry it has also decided to allow polygamy.
- Also, somehow a Posleen manages to be ordained both as an Episcopalian and and a Baptist minister. This may be a case of the Catholic authors assuming all Protestants are the same.
- Five Rounds Rapid: Given Ringo's background, it's not surprising he zig-zags all over the place with this trope.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The super monitor class ship has a spinal mounted Mass Driver that fires a huge slug packed with a gooey antimatter center for taking on the battle globes of the Posleen as they enter. A single round is said to be able to destroy a significant percentage of the ships in the formation of hundreds.
- Fox News Liberal: A religious version in The Tuloriad which features a mullah whose main purpose seems to be to grudgingly admit how right Christianity is about everything. Played with if you consider being eaten political commentary. Several characters end up entrees after deliberately sabotaging Earth's defense effort.
- Framed for Heroism: The battleship USS Missouri, in the second book, fires a full salvo from one of its main turrets at a Posleen warship in a desperate attempt at destroying the vessel. The craft is destroyed, but it wasn't the battleship's rounds that did it: a nearby Planetary Defense Center armed with a gun designed to defend against those kinds of ships actually made the killing shot. However, from the perspective of the battleship's crew, their rounds were the fatal shot, as the PDC was completely destroyed by orbital bombardment from another Posleen warship immediately after firing. The notion of the battleship's rounds making the kill was ultimately responsible for the creation of the SheVa mobile artillery pieces featured in the third and fourth books.
- Gambit Pileup: Much of the plot's unfolding is due to many different Companies, Governments, and Secret Societies master plans thwarting each other. Bane Sidhe versus Darhel are quite notable, and human groups like the Cyberpunks or Waffen-SS that don't use the Aides. The groups normally tapping the Aides will either guess or use misinformation designed to lead the non-users into a trap.
- Genre Shift: While the main series and most spin offs are following the ground war, the Cally Arc is a Series of Spy Novels.
- General Failure: A few examples, in a subversion they usually aren't around long after proving their incompetence, mostly because they die rather soon afterwards.
- Groin Attack: Several of them, throughout the series:
- In When the Devil Dances, Captain Elgars disables an attacker with a kick to the crotch when ambushed in a Sub-Urb passageway.
- In Hell's Faire, Major LeBlanc punts the civilian technician helping run the damaged "Bun Bun" between the legs, for an earlier event caused by a wrong setting on a Geiger counter that resulted in the major stripping down for an anti-radiation wash-down, after being splashed by water that was thought to be highly radioactive.
- In Yellow Eyes, one of the named Posleen tromping around in the Panamanian jungles has a Cayman bite on its genitalia, to which a Normal replies with its Boma blade, only missing due to the victim's thrashing around, and cutting off part of the God King's member instead.
- Higher-Tech Species: The Galactics have a degree of manipulation of materials at the atomic level that makes much of its tech seem like magic to Earth before officially being contacted, but there are still practical limits to what they can do, even before considering the artificially induced inability of Galactic races to fight.
- Hollywood Silencer: In a fairly rare slip-up regarding firearms, in A Hymn Before Battle, Ringo has an assassin using a silenced Colt .45 with the shots described as "four rapid huffs", with no one reacting until the targeted people fall into the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument. However, the assassin was hired by the Darhel, who could've just engineered a more effective silencer.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Posleen breed like crazy, to the point of driving them into a self-induced holocaust when they consume all available resources that ultimately leave the worlds they infest nothing more than shattered wrecks.
- How Do I Shot Web?: All technology the Posleen have they inherited from the Aldenata and they have only a limited understanding how it works. This leads to some rather humorous scenes like when a fire control computer helpfully informs a Posleen commander of incoming artillery fire and he just stares at it like an idiot.
- Humans Are Bastards: The perspective of the Darhel and the Posleen towards humanity, though for different reasons:
- To the Darhel, humans cannot be allowed too much freedom in the Galactic Federation because, instead of being part of a species-specific caste system, humanity has the potential to be as good, or even surpass, any one of the Federation member races, even the Posleen, at their specialty,.
- To the Posleen, humans are ugly, primitive dual-gendered barbarians who live on a disgusting green world filled with vicious wildlife that do not understand the Path of Fire and Fury, the "honorable" Posleen philosophy on conducting warfare. Instead, humans indirectly launch stinging and eviscerating shrapnel at the Posleen, entangle them on concertina, boobytrap potential food sources (most of which are human corpses or humans that don't want to be eaten), and blow them up with antipersonnel landmines that chop up their victims without attempting to harvest the resources for later use.
- Humans Are Warriors: Prior to Eye of the Storm, humanity is the only sentient species besides the Posleen who can be reasonably expected to fight a war and have plenty of practice in doing so. All other species either have a legitimate biological reason and contribute to the war effort in other ways or have been engineered to effectively become invalids after an act of violence. The Hedren and their subjugated species add to the count of species capable of carrying out war in Eye.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Michael O'Neal, Jr's justification for ordering a massive nuclear strike on the continental United States; including an area where his father and daughter lived.
- Idiot Ball: Due to the fact that the Posleen come pre-programmed with the skills they need, they usually do not see any reason to learn or develop, especially the barely-sentient normal Posleen. About 5% of all kessentai, or "God-Kings", are intelligent enough to be able to learn, but they still struggle with having, at best, an understanding of tactics and strategy on par with the Greeks or Romans.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Posleen will eat just about anything, including each other, and guess what's at the top of the menu, at least on Earth. They are fully omnivorous, but they prefer fresh meat.
- Impact Silhouette: Lt Rogers, in Gust Front, is said to leave a "vaguely human shaped hole" in a building he deliberately ran straight through, at the battle in Washington, DC, when stopping to turn would have put the troops he was leading at a tactical disadvantage. As part of an ACS unit, the building was the clear loser of the event.
- Join or Die: In Gust Front, Mike O'Neal Sr is approached by an old acquaintance from his mercenary days, and offered a position in a shadowy Knight Templar organization with access to Galactic technology. The acquaintance was about to kill O'Neal if he declined the offer for knowing too much about the organization, until Mike was rescued by his grand daughter Cally, the acquaintance's brains being ballistically scattered around the room.
- Juggling Dangerously: In Gust Front, given the mess that the base in Indiantown Gap is in when the 555th Mobile Infantry members arrive they have to work their way through the chaos of the base to get to their quarters. In order to do so without getting caught up in a fight they'd rather avoid, James Stewart and several of his companions create a distraction that includes a juggling routine that includes knives and lit torches.
- Kangaroo Court: Pretty much how the entire Galactic Federation's judicial system is constructed, as shown in The Eye of the Storm. The accused is unable to view the proceedings, and is only brought into the courtroom to hear the verdict, which far more often than not finds defendants guilty if it suits Darhel needs.
- Kill It with Fire: A tanker truck, a fire truck, and an intentionally damaged bridge that the Posleen have to cross provides much fun for the humans defending Fredricksburg, in Gust Front.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- SS Sergeant Major Krueger was once a concentration camp guard at Ravensbruck, who loved raping the prisoners and never bothered learning any of their names. His commanding officer, SS Colonel Hans Brasche, married a Ravensbruck survivor some years after after WWII. At the end of Watch on the Rhine, Brasche gets his tank driver alone...
- In a different case regarding Tulo'stenaloor, the Posleen God-King was present on Diess and watched the humans rout his people from the planet with ease. He then proceeded to learn from the humans, adopting modern human strategies and concepts of warfare to outsmart the humans, and, if not for the intervention of the same commander that turned the tide on Diess, he would have broken through the Appalachian defenses and overrun the last major stronghold of mankind. His core staff given the choice of fleeing the human counteroffensive, they boarded a Himmit scout ship and fled back to Diess to repair a Posleen battleglobe for a journey to Hemaleen. On Hemaleen, Tulo'stenaloor found out that the local Posleen, mutated due to an Aldenata virus, were incredibly hostile. So, with swarms of Posleen assaulting his relatively smaller forces, he adopted human tactics and was made to defend against essentially the same types of en masse assaults he had planned against the humans.
- Latex Perfection: Played with in Sister Time. In order to dispose of a high-ranking Darhel male holding Cally's sister Michelle's debt, Cally has her face and voice modified to appear as if she was a female Darhel. The disguise isn't perfect, though, and that is mentioned several times, since the objective is to make the Darhel become aroused from the female "Darhel" and enter lintatai, the comatose-like state a Darhel will enter from the release of their adrenaline equivalent, tal. All Cally has to do is play an elaborate game of Keepaway.
- Lawful Stupid: In addition to various political entities and factions being subverted by the Darhel to sabotage humanity in order to gain offworld transport for their families to give them a chance to survive, the Darhel also have their tendrils in the International Criminal Court. In Yellow Eyes, they manipulate The Inspector and use General Manuel Cortez to capture war heroes for trumped-up war crimes, many of which do not technically apply to fighting the Posleen, since they are not human.
- Left Hanging: The fate of the transplanted humans on Ackia (and Julio and Unhat who were last seen ducking for cover), who come as part of a major revelation in the beginning of Eye of the Storm—but then vanish entirely for the rest of the book. Of course, there have been fairly significant danglers in the series before that were eventually addressed—for example, the fate of Tulo'stenaloor and his band was left hanging from the end of Hell's Faire until The Tuloriad half a dozen books later.
- Long-Running Book Series: The first book was published in 2000.
- Magic from Technology: The Indowy Zen manufacturing techniques.
- Meaningful Name: In Gust Front, we meet "town bicycle" Wendy Cummings, and geeky Tom Sunday. Subverted: Wendy is a virgin; all of the guys she's dated thought she would put out, and lied when she didn't, and Tom went to a military training camp where the teenage campers were screwing like bunnies. She loses her virginity to him, and they're still dating five years later. In the next book, she tells someone her name and winces at the anticipated joke.
- Mega Corp.: The Galactic Federation's society and culture is dominated by these. Unlike most however, they use a "cottage production" rather than industrialized method. There are economic, political, and in some cases religious reasons for them to use this method.
- Military Mashup Machine:
- The Tiger IIIs from Watch on the Rhine are land battleships, able to engage anything from Posleen hordes on the ground to their spacecraft in the skies.
- The SheVa unit "Bun-Bun" has added weapons and equipment to arguably make count as a land battleship, but it still isn't quite on the same level as the Tiger IIIs. Other SheVa units, however, are more akin to just really big mobile artillery pieces.
- Monumental Damage:
- The Pyramids of Giza, the Washington Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, in Gust Front. Subverted in the case of Arlington National Cemetery, thanks to Posleen spiritual beliefs regarding the dead.note
- In The Tuloriad, it is revealed that not much of humanity's historical sites survived the war, due to the Posleen tendency to destroy any existing structures to use their raw materials for their own settlements. Much of Rome's historical sites have been swept clean, though much of the Imperial Rome is being rebuilt. The office of the Vatican currently operates out of the Roman Catacombs, which, due to the combination of the reasons above for Arlington Cemetery surviving with the small size of the tunnels being just too big for Posleen to fit, survived untouched.
- More Dakka: Tons of it, since that's the only practical way of fighting the Posleen to a standstill, let alone defeat them. In particular, massed fire from troops is the only way for snipers to avoid being targeted by the insanely accurate targeting computers of God King saucers, by confusing the sensors with too many targets to track.
- Must Not Die a Virgin: Lampshaded, then carried out a few chapters later, with Tom Sunday Jr and Wendy Cummmings during the Fredericksburg engagement in Gust Front.
- Nanomachines: The main building block of Galactic technology, aka Gal Tech. Indowy use special swarms to construct items at the atomic level, allowing them to bend and subvert the laws of physics better than normal construction materials. However, the process is very resource and personnel-intensive for making a single item at a time over a long period, essentially making the Galactic manufacturing system, for all intents and purposes, cottage-level. On the other hand, these materials are built incredibly well, and are designed to last for centuries, and intended not to have to use spare parts.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: In Gust Front, Captain April Weston, commanding the frigate Agincourt, is said to curse two minutes straight without repeating herself, in reaction to an official e-mail.
- Nazi Protagonist: Watch on the Rhine and the sequels co-written by Tom Kratman features rejuvenated Waffen SS troops brought back from senescence to fight off the Posleen invasion of Germany, as much of the Bundeswehr off fighting on other worlds and what remains isn't up to the task. With a few rare exceptions, however, the revived SS troops have no particular love for Nazi ideology, and those exceptions for the most part wound up dead by the time of The Tuloriad.
- Neglectful Precursors: The Aldenata. You would think that they just might have realized their experiments on the Posleen and the Darhel might generate negative consequences. Afraid Not. The glossary in Yellow Eyes describes them as "Largely disappeared from the Galactic scene in sheer funk and shame at the damage they had, despite all the best intentions, wrought." They're off somewhere whining that they meant well. It's implied that Humanity will own them too should they ever show up, with Mike Jr. voicing a particular hatred of them for what they did to the Posleen.
- Nuclear Option:
- The Chinese used nukes to try to slow down the Posleen, but failed to slow them for more than a day, winding up not only destroyed as a fighting force, but poisoning the Yangtze River for thousands of years.
- In When The Devil Dances and Hell's Faire, deployment and use of nukes is a significant issue, thanks to a president that's very against them. However, they do eventually get authorized for use, as area denial weapons to kill large numbers of Posleen, after the Rabun Gap defenses are breached, including flushing the nearly the entire US nuclear missile arsenal to nuke the Gap, just to get some warheads past the absurdly accurate anti-air fire from Posleen hardware.
- Old-School Dogfight: The sole Space Fighter scene averts this trope. The fighters in question using guided missiles to engage the enemy, and there's even an evasive maneuver that takes advantage of being able to change the direction one's pointing without changing vector until thrust is applied. The few scenes with the larger ships also avert the trope, maneuvering as one would expect massive battlewagons to handle, and not more like really big airplanes.
- Older Than They Look: All rejuvenated personnel qualify for this, appearing to be in their early twenties, while dating back, in some cases, to World War II and earlier.
- One-Hit Polykill: Rounds fired from the rail guns used by the ACS, traveling not much slower than the speed of light, will rip through multiple Posleen before running out of kinetic energy.
- Planetof Hats: Played with. The Galactic Federation, on the surface, comes off as this. The Darhel are a bunch of pacifistic merchants and bankers leading the Himmit, a bunch of stealth experts who try very hard to not be detected, the Tchpth, bouncing crustacean-like beings that only seem to care about their own work, and the Indowy, expendable laborers who can communicate with nanites. However, the Galactic Federation races have interacted with humanity before, forming parts of our myths, and the Darhel and the Indowy and particular are not what they seem. On one hand, the seemingly peaceful and enlightened merchants are really a bunch of genetically-modified carnivores trying to maneuver humanity into being their corporate slaves. Furthermore, the Indowy, with help from the Himmit, have been able to create a passive resistance called the Bane Sidhe (Killers of Elves), though with humanity joining the resistance, they can go much more active.
- Point Defenseless: Posleen defensive hardware is very dangerous to anything flying under its own power (even if with stealth equipment), but completely useless against unguided rockets or artillery shells. Not even the heros, save Mike when he singlehandedly takes down a Battle Globe, are immune.
- Powered Armor: The ACS (Armored Combat Suits)
- Proud Warrior Race: The Darhel's former Hat. Some of them lament the days when they could indulge in violence and warfare, before the Aldenata modified them to be incapable of it, though it is suggested that they would have nuked each other into oblivion if they hadn't been modified. This led to them becoming...
- Proud Merchant Race: The Darhel's fake hat. AKA what the Darhel want humanity to think they are: a bunch of pacifistic merchants. Just like the Himmit are pacifistic spies, the Tchpth are pacifistic scientists, and the Indowy are pacifistic workers. The Darhel have found the constant competition of business, combined with the corporate subjugation of their client races, to be the closest thing they can get to their old warrior ways.
- Punctuation Shaker: Posleen names, as well as their language, demonstrated with the Posleen that get Character Development.
- Putting on the Reich: A fairly controversial subversion of this trope (i.e. the S.S. are actually "the good guys") is the entire plot premise of Watch on the Rhine, where the German Chancellor resurrects the Waffen-SS in order to save his country. There is also a great deal of discussion and infodumps on the history of the special forces units versus the special prison units (and Karmic deaths for those with the prison units), and the SS groups are deliberately kept out until the last possible second as a futile last hope and specifically sent on the worst missions to die. However their operational parameters make them more resistant to the sabotage occurring to rest of the army using the Aides.
- Sapient Ship: The USS Des Moines in Yellow Eyes, after the insane AID is installed as part of her upgrades to fight the Posleen.
- Self-Made Orphan: Mike O'Neal, twice — the first time when he mistakenly believes his father and daughter did not escape a nuclear blast he detonated to destroy attacking Posleen (they were rescued by Bane Sidhe, then went deep undercover), then when he unknowingly kills his own father during a raid on a Bane Sidhe base in Honor of the Clan.
- Sharpened to a Single Atom: The monomolecular blades used by the Posleen, which can even penetrate ACS armor if there's enough force behind the swing.
- Space Fighter: The Space Falcon, developed to supplement the makeshift frigates guarding the solar system. It's explicitly stated that they are not capable of operating in an atmosphere.
- Space Ship Girl:
- In Yellow Eyes, a US Navy cruiser, the USS ''Des Moines'' (CA-134), is converted to serve as a weapon platform for combating the aliens (it's a Sci-Fi novel, after all) and has a AID installed to control it. However the AI was left on while shipping to earth, and developed more sentience (and some mental instability, due to sensory deprivation) by thinking the human equivalent of 5000+ years (in real terms a month or so, because AI think fast). the AI then proceeds to buy a cloning device on eBay (a Running Gag in the book is that you can find anything on eBay) and the clothing of a famous actress for DNA, and creates a living avatar for the ship. This is more of a Ship Girl, though, because it is a wet navy ship.
- The AID's personality later merges with the "gestalt" of the original ship (basically a composite of the leftover traces of her crew's strong emotions, and in The Tuloriad she and several similar entities are rebuilt as starships using materials from the original ships because the non-AID portions of their "programming" make them resistant to several security flaws in the original AID design. Which proves to be of great benefit to humankind.
- Straw Character: Loads, almost entirely as obstacles for the protagonists to overcome.
- The Federation: The Galactics have a pretty nasty version, with the Darhel controlling it as an entire race of corrupt corporate executives, though it's implied that the Tch'pht would change that if they felt it was in their interests to do so.
- Tank Goodness:
- Eye of the Storm has SPACE TANKS. And the Hedren have 'Continental Siege Units.' If only the Humans had Bolos.
- Ordinary (if heavily upgraded) tanks also play a big role, earlier in the series. At one point, Mike O'Neal, Jr credits the conventional forces, which included German, French, and American tank units, with holding against the Posleen swarm until he could pull out the miracle that broke the Posleen army's back. And then there's the tank unit accompanying Bun-Bun in the final blitz of Hell's Faire, hammering the Posleen ground forces along with the upgraded defensive weaponry of the SheVa.
- Technical Pacifist: Thanks to Aldenata meddling the Darhel are this. The Indowy and Tch'pht border between this and Actual Pacifist. They won't, in fact can't, commit any violence themselves but are very reluctantly willing to let humans fight for them
- Tempting Fate: During the approach to Earth in Watch on the Rhine, the God King Athenalras says to a freshly destroyed Planetary Defense Center "Defy me now, little abat." Five nearby PDCs immediately do just that, hammering on the incoming forces.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Justified, as it's the only way to effectively combat the Posleen due to their nature. Posleen are hermaphrodites, meaning any 2 can make more, and they grow to maturity within 1-2 years. They are immune to every chemical and biological agent known to man, and a few humans don't know about. They are also immune to radiation, meaning one of the biggest dangers of a nuke for humans doesn't even faze them. They are also naturals at shooting unsighted weapons from the hip. Furthermore, for every 300-600 "normal" Posleen, there is a "God-King" (kessentai in their language) equipped with a flying saucer called a tenar that possesses heavy anti-armor weaponry, and an advanced sensor suite capable of detecting anything moving through the air under its own power. However, if kept rushing blindly at fixed defenses with mass fire, both direct and indirect, mowing them down as snipers take out God-Kings, Posleen can be defeated, as they struggle with natural obstacles such as rivers and mountains. Plus, while missiles and rockets have trouble against tenar sensors, artillery is practically invisible to them, meaning the Posleen have no defense against artillery shelling from behind the fixed defenses. Therefore, the only way to beat the Posleen is to turn them into yellow chunks of meat by the thousands, if not millions.
- This Is Gonna Suck: In A Hymn Before Battle, an ACS troopernote comments, just before getting his hand blown off by a grenade he had planted as part of an effort to escape from a collapsed building, "this is gonna hurt".
- Tired of Running: In novel Gust Front, this is one of the reasons given for why The Six Hundred defended Washington, DC, after a horrific rout, compounded by Darhel interference and loads of General Failures, shredded US forces.
- True Companions: Lampshaded. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. In years to come, men at home now in their beds will think of this day and do you know what they'll say? 'Jesus, I'm glad I wasn't with those poor doomed ACS assholes or right now I'd be dead'. But what the hell, that's why they pay us the big bucks. Board ships."
- The Vietnam Vet: Thanks to rejuvenation tech from the Galactics many Vietnam vets are returned to service against the Posleen. On seeing the utter chaos at the Indiantown training facility caused by monumental personnel screwups, Gunny Sgt Papas is uncomfortably reminded of the mess in Vietnam caused in part by low morale among the troops.
- The Villain Makes the Plot: In the first two books the main commanders of the Posleen forces are of average or below average intelligence. In the next two books the Manipulative Bastard Tulo'Stenaloor becomes the new Big Bad and nearly streamrolls the humans with his brilliant tactics. In addition to his individual brilliance, Tulo'Stenaloor explicitly tries to recruit as many intelligent Posleen as possible to increase the pool of ideas he can draw from.
- Warfare Regression: The Posleen point-defenses are so good it renders missiles and aircraft obsolete. However, artillery is unaffected, and results in the return of Battleships and the creation of big gunned, heavily armored Land Ships.
- We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: Subverted, as described in the page intro discussing the plot.
- We Have Reserves:
- This goes a long way to describing the Posleen's mentality at waging war.
- This is also Darhel philosophy towards Humans. specifically they want all but a small token minority that's under their thumb dead to prevent humanity from taking over the galaxy once the war is over
- To the Darhel, the loss of life among their Indowy workers is pretty much a non-issue, given that the Federation has a population of 18 trillion Indowy. Even a hundred billion Indowy deaths is irrelevant to the Darhel.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Aldenata's legacy is a sullenly-gleaming example of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
- Zerg Rush: The Posleen's biggest hat. Due to their physiology and ability to outbreed other sapient species significantly, they can easily create a mass of charging yellow centauroids in the thousands, if not millions, each one an expert at firing unsighted from the hip, and a God-King in a heavy weapons-equipped saucer for every 300-600 "normal" Posleen. The Posleen Battlenet, which divvies out loot and territory to God-Kings, even encourages this behavior, as the more proactive and aggressive Posleen tend to get the best stuff by capturing it first, as opposed to those who wait and strategize.