Literature / Pay Me, Bug!

Grif Vindh has just managed to pull off the crime of the millennium. He's stolen a shipment of anagathics from Ur Voys — The Empire of the Radiant Throne's most secure facility — and smuggled it out under the very noses of The Radiant Throne's Swords. This one job has has earned him more than enough money to retire. Not that he wants to retire, mind you. He'd rather put that money into getting the very latest equipment for his ship.

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

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

Read it here.

Provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Commodore Mavis.
  • All Nations Are Superpowers: There's The Alliance of Free Worlds, The Empire of the Radiant Throne, and a collection of small "Free Trade Baronies" that only remain independent through economic power. That's it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Of course, all that comfort comes at a pretty hefty price. Ruled by telepathic religious zealots, immediate execution for daring to say anything that might be construed as treasonous... church on Sundays...."
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Radiant Throne believes that Telepathy is a gift from God, and comes with a mandate to rule over non-telepaths.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Surrounds Tyrelos Station. It's a lot sparser than most examples of this trope, and justified by being the remains of a recently (in astronomic terms) destroyed moon, but still there.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Dyorbid's. Which leads to...
  • Bar Brawl: Some time in the past, some cyborg slavers tried to kidnap Grif's nephew. Grif objected, rather strenuously, causing some damage to their ship. They catch up to Grif in the above Bad-Guy Bar, and, well...
  • The Battlestar: "Battlecarrier" class ships.
  • The Caper: The main plot of the story.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Shows up every now and then.
  • Church Militant: The Empire of the Radiant Throne is solidly theocratic, and completely authoritarian.
  • Cool Starship: Grif's ship, the Fool's Errand.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Mutiny mentioned below is an example. Final score: Grif and crew eleven, Velis and squad zero.
  • Cyborg: The above-mentioned slavers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Grif Vindh.
    "Hello Morgan," Velis said. "You look well."
    "Velis," Morgan said. That was all he could manage; he abruptly turned in his seat and devoted his attention to his station.
    "This is going to be the best trip ever," Grif muttered.
  • Deflector Shields: Part and parcel for the setting. Unusually for this trope, they're described as blocking all energy, including visible light and sensors, in both directions. Fortunately, there are systems that automate the process of dropping a single segment of the shield, firing through it, and bringing it back up. Also, a big part of space combat is deciding, moment to moment, which shield segments to have down (for visibility), which to have up (for protection), and which to "pulse" on and off (for a little of both).
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Grif finds some of Doma doing something on Grenaris.
  • The Empire: The Empire of the Radiant Throne.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When The Viceroy wants to destroy every Maximilian class ship on Varkav, because they believe one of them is the Fool's Errand, Mavis talks him out of it.
  • The Federation: Despite its name, The Alliance of Free Worlds is closer to being The Federation than being The Alliance.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: The anagathics Grif "stole" from Ur Voys literally fell off the back of a truck. Of course, this truck was in the process of crashing and bursting into flames, so it makes sense that stuff would be falling off of it.
  • Future Imperfect: Most of the people who grew up on Earth like to claim that Earth is the original homeworld of humanity, but nobody takes them seriously.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: A more realistic example than most. The bottle doesn't break, despite being swung with a human's full strength. It also does some serious damage to the target.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Each of Ktk's three tails are strong enough to pick up a full-grown human. That's right — Ktk can triple wield people.
  • Hero of Another Story: There's some kind of coup in progress against Baron Minerva Tyrelos. Whoever is responsible gets nervous about the fact that Grif has figured out about Baron Tylaris' assassination, so they try to have Grif handed over to The Throne. We never find out who's behind it, what their ultimate plan is, or whether the Baron's plan to have her brother publicly take the blame ever worked.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: The Viceroy manages to pull this on the heroes, who are using his own security cameras to spy on him.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Grif, routinely.
  • Infraction Distraction: Grif sacrifices their cargo of fine Varkavian whiskey to keep Mavis from looking closer, and maybe finding the anagathics. Of course, since none of the crew know about the anagathics, they all think he's gone crazy for doing this, until the big reveal.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Every chapter.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Doma, the communications technician (and Grif's nephew), manages to accidentally broadcast the crew's impromptu strategy session to the ship they were running from at the time.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Ktk, the titular "bug," insists that everyone call it "it," because that's just the logical thing to call a hermaphrodite.
  • Just Like Us: The Alliance covert infiltration team gets a dose of this during the mission. It's also heavily implied that they've infiltrated the Radiant Throne before, so they really should have already known.
  • MacGuffin: The artifact.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Grif likes to take a word or phrase he just said, and... "clarify" it by adding "and by X, I mean Y," where "Y" is a short rant that includes "X."
    Grif: Pure evil ... molded into the form of my dear sister. And by "dear" I mean "dear God, run away!"
  • Mars Needs Women: Discussed in Chapter 15.
    "It's about time Dyorbid actually hired an attractive waitress," Morgan said. Grif laughed.
    "Well, hold on," Grif said, "let's be fair. The Murdec who worked here a few months back was very attractive... to other Murdecs."
  • Miles Gloriosus: Grif may have exaggerated the story of his break-in to Ur Voys a little bit.
  • The Mutiny: Velis Enge organizes one against Grif. It... doesn't go so well for her and her team.
  • Name's the Same: Very nearly, the Tylaris and Tyrelos Baronies. The fact that they are the richest and poorest (respectively) of the baronies is commented on in-universe.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Viceroy. That's not a title, that's his legal name, which he chose himself upon becoming a Sword.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A little one, during the escape from the hospital on Tyrelos Station.
    "Well I can't hold these guys off much longer." Grif tried to peer over the lip of the stairwell without exposing himself. "Sooner or later they'll realize it's just one pistol..."
    From below someone shouted "It's just one pistol!"
    "Damn it all to hell," Grif muttered.
    Amys rolled her eyes. "Nice work."
  • The Nicknamer: Ggrlsha have a tradition of nicknaming everyone they know. It's supposed to be an attempt to know the essence of another's soul.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: It's specifically mentioned that, while every known race can get drunk, the intoxicating substance varies from species to species. So, when you're getting drunk with other species, you need to be careful not to grab a bottle of something lethal to you. Carumjack is specifically mentioned as a popular beverage that's toxic to humans, but Morgan can't get enough of the stuff, so they're either drastically overselling its lethality or Morgan's built up a tolerance.
  • No Gravity for You:
    • Part of the standard procedure for repelling boarders aboard the Fool's Errand is to turn the gravity on and off according to a prearranged schedule. Since any boarders wouldn't know the schedule, they would be unprepared for the sudden shifts in gravity. In addition, individual crew can have the bridge change the gravity in their specific section as an additional weapon.
    • Because the Fool's Errand uses older gravity technology, they can't have the artificial gravity on while they're in tach. Well, technically they can, but it would be dangerous to do so.
  • Noodle Incident: Just what happened between Grif and Velis on Kinnar?
  • Oh, Crap!: "Holy hell, that's a Battlecarrier!"
  • One Nation Under Copyright: According to the Foldspace Guide, the Free Trade Baronies started off as this. With the passage of time, they've evolved into standard governments, but most still have some of the trappings of their corporate past. For instance, most have powerful "executives" that that can, if need be, vote the baron out of office.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Getting Meaghan Sythe out of Ur Voys requires a meeting in a bar. Unfortunately, someone remembers seeing her there, which allows Mavis' agents to connect the break in with the Fool's Errand, and sets up the climactic battle.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: As Grif is breaking out of the aforementioned hospital, he has to steal some clothes and a pistol. He doesn't have the chance to steal a holster.
  • Perma-Stubble: Grif is described as having "a fine layer of stubble that never quite coaxed itself into a beard."
  • Psychic Nosebleed: One of the dangers of having your mind read by a Sword.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Ktk's full name is "Ktkt'tkkt'kktt'tkkk'tktk'ttkt'tkkk'kktt'kktk'tk."
  • Royal Mess: The Free Trade "Baronies" are actually independent states.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Space combat occurs at basically point-blank range. At one point, one of the characters laments that their ship is too large to fit underneath the larger ship's shields, since that would have given them a free shot at her gravlock.
  • Shared Universe: Known informally as "The Foldspace Universe."
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Grif Vindh is a smuggler, thief, and general ne'er do well. His sister, Velis Enge, is a high ranking officer in an Alliance black ops division (and is, not incidentally, the leader of the team that's blackmailing Grif).
  • Side Bet: The title of the work is a reference to Cyrus and Ktk's continual bets with each other about the outcome of the mission, how long it will be until they wind up in trouble in this particular portnote , whether they will survive their current screwup, etc. Every other member of the crew will bet with each other at the drop of a hat, but Cyrus and Ktk are the most frequent offenders.
  • Starfish Aliens: Ktk is described as a 2.5 meter hermaphroditic centipede with three prehensile tails.
  • Starfish Language: "Bugtalk" is "a binary language that starts with the total sum of all knowledge and drills down through it until it isolates the specific thought or concept the bug is trying to say." This is emphasized in the story by the fact that Ktk is never quoted directly.
  • Technopath: An (extremely rare) ability of certain very strong telepaths.
  • Telepathy: All the Radiant Throne's Swords are telepaths. Grif winds up hiring a telepath of his own.
  • Time for Plan B: Discussed in Chapter 35, where it is mentioned that they hope Plan A works, because Grif's Plan B's tend to suck.
  • Title Drop: Ktk and Cyrus will bet on anything and everything. When Cyrus wins...
  • Tractor Beam: Called a "gravlock."
  • The Unpronounceable: Again, Ktk's full name. Even the abbreviation of its name can be hard to pronounce. We are told that its species' name and home world's name are even worse.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: It should come as no surprise that Dyorbid, as the proprietor of a Bad-Guy Bar, keeps a plasma rifle handy. It's just as useful for bar brawls as it is for people who ask to run a tab.
  • Vibroweapon: Amys' weapon of choice.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: We never see any actual slaves, but there are slavers, which would tend to imply the existence of slaves.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Grif and crew have a huge celebration with several of the other crews in port. They all get so smashed, the next morning, they can't remember what happenednote . This isn't the first such party, either: They've had to institute The List, a computer record of everyone's possessions that they had entered the party with, bets that were made, and the winners and losers of those bets.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: A telepath's power can drive them insane if they aren't trained to handle it early enough. The Radiant Throne's Swords are continually referred to as insane, but it's more that they're telepathic knight templar church militants.

Alternative Title(s): Pay Me Bug