The Crew as a WholeThe Machito is a scout vessel crewed by a small compliment of Captain Taneel's former command (a battleship).
- Badass Crew: They're not a ridiculously overpowered crew by any means; in fact they each seem to be typical for their species. It's just that the roles they have played and are playing make them incredibly well suited to their current task.
- Skitter is one of only two of his species operating in human space, apparently the only species capable of truly piloting without risk at FTL speeds.
- Orla appears to be unexceptional for a member of the Jinyiwei, except insofar as she has transferred her loyalty to the crew and their goals rather than to the Jinyiwei. Oh, and "unexceptional" means "able to take on four fights to the death in a row where each one was intended to kill her... in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome".
- Nosh is typical for a Veetan: big heart, big fun, big appetite for life, big appetite for learning, and just a big appetite. However, in addition to being a very capable science officer (really; ignore the accent) and getting
- Captain Taneel is on the outs politically, having been loyal to the former (recently assassinated) emperor, and having been long estranged from her member-of-the-secret-police-of-the-secret-police husband, and harboring the person accused of killing the emperor (Nosh) who she broke out of prison, and having the former emperor's strongly-hinted-to-be-heir on her crew... but she was also the commander of an imperial battleship and both inspires fierce loyalty in and gives fierce loyalty to her crew.
- Cuddow is typical for a Fillipod: really smart, way too dedicated to bad poetry, and super goofy. He also happens to be one of the few Fillipodans trusted with the secret that the Fillipods did what the humans couldn't in understanding the Drive as well as trusted with the knowledge of how it really works, and further developed a number of improvements and applications that the Continuum hadn't thought of.
- True Companions: The story opens with Taneel and crew breaking into a prison planet to get Nosh out, as they had saved one another's lives over the course of an evening. She takes her crew seriously. Even relatively late arrivals Skitter, Orla, and Cuddow very quickly adopt the same attitude.
The MachitoThe Machito is a very small, very old, very smell (formerly) scout ship.
- The Alleged Car: When we first enter the series, it's made clear that the Machito is a thoroughly subpar vessel. And it stinks. But the emperor gives it a full retrofit when he sends the crew to find the rest of Skitter's species.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Kind of early for mid-season, but still appropriate. When the Emperor learns about Skitter's abilities as a pilot, he demands the crew go find more like him and gives the Machito a full remodel. Including real leather in the captain's chair.
"Skitter"A small lizard creature with a case of amnesia. Remembers nothing before waking up in prison, though Nosh says he took a nasty hit while defending him.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: His "mohawk" crest allows him to sense gravity, pick up heartbeats from a distance, and communicate telepathically with other telepaths or "bonded" humans if the member of his species with the Tres Primos is any indication, sometimes it borders on New Powers as the Plot Demands. He also has two hearts.
- Easy Amnesia: Skitter woke up on a prison planet with no recollection of who he was or how he got there, and was informed he took a nasty hit trying to protect Nosh. Lampshaded.Nosh: ... You are like bad episode of Gilligan's Island.
- Unfortunate Name: He wanted to call himself Steve, but that's also the name of Captain Taneel's ex-husband. Still, it might've been worse. Nosh's ideas were "Pablo Picasso", "Mr. Fancy Pants", and "Boopsie-Diddle".
Skitter: ... Skitter it is?
Taneel: Skitter it is.
NoshA Veetan scientist, falsely arrested for the murder of the previous Emperor. His old crew broke him out of prison, and he insisted on bringing Skitter along, as payback for protecting him earlier.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Gets stung by a Vinn-infested Fekk Dragon.
- Beware the Nice Ones: As he demonstrated against a Tesskan guard that was talking smack about Captain Taneel.Nosh: Show respect to my captain.
Tesskan: ooOOooh... whatcha gonna do, pacifist? Punch me?
Nosh: No... but I am very good hugger. [picks Tesskan up from behind with a "hug"]
- Big Eater: Comes with being a Veetan. Even when Vinnified, he thinks with his stomach.
- Big Fun: An Amusing Alien from a heavyworld, and a staunch pacifist until suficciently upset. Hobbies include eating, reading Russian poetry, and playing board games.
- Completely Missing the Point: Fairly often.Taneel: Wonderful. So they're bigger and faster... and I'm flying the dang car I had in high school.
Nosh: Wait wait wait wait... you saying your car in high school smelled this bad? I find hard to believe.
- Came Back Strong: after getting safely de-Vinned, he is his old self again, but with neato superpowers.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: More a Genius Ditz than moron, but Nosh fought off a bunch of mooks on his own.Nosh: [mid-fight] Maybe you forget why you lost the war, Tesskan. You didn't lose because of the humans... you lost because you made my lovely, joyful, peace-filled people... PISSED OFF.
- The Dog Bites Back:
- In his backstory, he scared the shit out of a Russian gangster extorting his adopted parents.
- He also whups a platoon of Tesskan guards in Madrid. He isn't much fazed by their insults to him, but he does not stand for them backtalking Captain Taneel.
- Frame-Up: Emperor Cruz had the former Emperor's death pinned on him.
- Genius Ditz: Nosh is the science officer of the crew, interested in all types of science, but lacks common sense.Nosh: I am researching lung capacity of common earth-wolf.
Taneel: Good lord...why?
Nosh: Pique of my interest, mostly. I read in earth story how wolf able to bring down house with massive lung capacity...
Taneel: ...Did the aforementioned wolf happen to "huff and puff" before he blew said house down?
Nosh: Yes! Amazing creature, no?... I research the pig construction techniques, next.
- Gentle Giant: Nosh, and apparently most Veetans. It's one of their hats, according to their entry in the Enciclopedia Xenobiología.Nosh: Is too much anger in Monopoly... Share the railroads! Everyone benefits!
- Happily Adopted: By a Russian couple back on earth. He also considers Captain Taneel a mother, and he's like a son to her.
- Jabba Table Manners: Watching him eat is a nightmarish experience.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Like most of his people, he has an insatiable desire for knowledge of any sort.
- Shock and Awe: After infection by the Vinn he gains bioelectrical powers, which he retains after being cured.
- Trademark Favourite Food: Has a special place in his heart for piroshki. He's also a big fan of Baba Ganoush, a rice dish.
- Twitchy Eye: Nosh, upon learning the crew's next destination is Tesskil, and later when he finds out that a Continuum Dreadnought ship is pursuing them. His eyes eventually shut outright, which he claims "is one long twitch".
Captain TaneelThe captain of the Machito. Once captain of might battlecruiser, she's now stuck with a third-rate scout, answering to an Emperor she hates, unhappily divorced and getting on in years. Taneel isnt what you might call a very cheerful woman.
- Punny Name: She's named after the music duo Captain & Tennille.
- Must Have Caffeine: She's rarely seen without a cup of coffee in her hand.
- Parental Substitute: To Nosh, with whom she has a very parental relationship, even referring to him as "my boy".
FernandoThe previous Emperor's 14-year-old grandson, and head engineer of The Machito, by virtue of only members of la Familia being allowed to know how the pinch drive works.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: He wants nothing more than to live a normal life, without the intrigue, politicking and danger that come with being part of la Familia. Sadly, this can never happen, as he's the rightful heir to the throne, and cannot ignore this without putting his life in immense danger.
- King Incognito: The Tres Primos imply that he's supposed to be Emperor, not Cruz. Confirmed by his cousin Sebastian.
Orla O'MalleyThe Machito's xenobiologist, appointed by the Emperor as part of the ship's mission to find Skitter's homeworld. She's more than she appears.
- The Mole: It's heavily implied she's a Familia plant working for the Emperor. Turn's out she's worse — she's also a member of the Jinyiwei, the Imperio's Secret Police.
Senior Adviser Cuddow
- Cunning Linguist: Fluent in six languages; Fillipod, Hybrid, Old Spanish, and three unidentified ones. He's also attempted the Makers' language.
- Oh Wait!: After he reveals to Fernando that the Fillipods know how the Ring Drive works.Fernando: Do you know what my family will do to your people when they find out??
Cuddow: What, crack our planet in half? Oh wait.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: A catterpilar-like alien, Cuddow resembles nothing so much as a living plush toy.
- Beware the Nice Ones: An info page lists the Tesskans flash-bombing a Veetan planet as the critical error in the three year Tesskan/Human war. The resultant mobilisation of the Veetan Defence Force resulted in Tesskil being conquered a week later.Nosh: Show respect to my captain.
Tesskan: ooOOooh...whatcha gonna do, pacifist? Punch me?
Nosh: No... but I am very good hugger. [picks Tesskan up from behind with a "hug"]
- Big Eater: Placid as they usually are, they're voracious and ferocious eaters. There's an in-universe poem about the sight of a Veetan eating. It ends with "A Veetan eating is not joy, but more like abject fear"
- Heavy Worlder: Veeta has heavier gravity than Earth, and Veetans are ridiculously strong and durable as a result, as demonstrated when Nosh shrugs off steel I-beams falling on his head and beats the crap out of a dozen Tesskans. Unfortunately, they also suffer from chronic hip and joint problems and live just twenty-five years at most.
- Perfect Pacifist People: Veetans are taught that fighting wastes the life they could spend searching for knowledge.
- Abusive Alien Parents: They're an r-selecting species and abandon their offspring to the wild, eventually allowing the survivors to rejoin the pack when they gang up on and kill the pack's oldest member.
- Lightning Bruiser: They're terrifyingly fast and strong, as well as incredibly sturdy. The logistical advantage the drive imparts may as well have not existed when it came to a direct war between the Empire and the Tesskans, as the Tesskans were overpowering in actual battle. This is demonstrated handily by those captured by the Continuum, who swept the single largest ship in the galaxy before the Makers could manage even a token defense. The only thing that's stood successfully against them is the Empire-backed Mighty Glacier of the Veetans.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: They're an entire culture of fops and dandies obsessed with terrible poetry, but they're also one of the most technologically gifted species in existence.
- Gadgeteer Genius: They're extremely good with technology — they went from zero manufacturing to space travel in two generations, and are the only race to have successfully reverse-engineered Ring Drives — unlike the humans, who simply build and maintain but don't understand them.
- Skewed Priorities: They're rather poetry obsessed, and tend to break out in overly long poetry if not forced to work on more important things, like dealing with invasions. When their Tesskan masters are mostly killed and their human masters forced to shift away all forces and oversight, they choose to take advantage of this precious strategic time of autonomy... by hosting a slam poetry contest.
- Starfish Language: The Fillipod language is an extremely complicated, musical tongue that most other species cant physically speak, since their mouths cant make the "wild undulations" that the Fillipod language relies on.
- Abusive Alien Parents: They have hundreds of pups, which the adults require to prove their worth to their family. When Orla catches a pup stealing, his father kills him with his bare hands for getting caught.
- Abusive Alien Parents: They reproduce asexually and rapidly if they want to — Makers can produce dozens of pre-Makers in a day should they need to — treat their progeny as cannon fodder with nothing but a number to identify them, form no emotional attachments to them whatsoever and emotionlessly dispose of them as punishment for transgressions. One in thousands survives the heat of battle and becomes a Maker.
- Ban on A.I.: One of the Continuum's oldest and strictest laws. Ahmis, one of the most brilliant makers the Continuum had ever seen, was sentenced to death for building one and became The Heretic.
- Enemy Mine: Offered, but ultimately rejected. The Grasskans stole several spirits (the Makers' term for original technology) from the Continuum and fought bitter wars with them over it. When the Grasskans get Curb Stomped by the Vinn, they try begging for an Enemy Mine with the Continuum to work against the greater threat to the both of them. While new Maker Prime feels that the Vinn threat is big enough to at least consider it and respects the Grasskans as a Worthy Opponent, the rest of the Colegium prefers Revenge Before Reason and overrules him. Due to being insular and still carrying a grudge, they decide that they would rather take their chances and watch them die.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Their hat is that they invent things; the creation of new, unique technology is the greatest accomplishment a member of the species can aspire to, and experienced makers are very good at it. Ahmis is able to fix a completely ruined hover tractor and build an unspecified farm machine within one night.
- Higher-Tech Species: The Continuum is one of the most advanced civilizations in the galaxy to still exist, but not by an overwhelming margin.
- Luxury Prison Suite: Only high-ranking members of the Continuum even get jail as opposed to execution; as such, Makers that have been charged with a crime are usually made comfortable.
- Poor Communication Kills: Literally. Their language is so complex and nuanced that traditional translator devices can't decipher the whole thing. This leads a Tesskan to decapitate a Maker out of frustration when trying to talk, and human/Continuum relations are severely hampered by the fact that they humans genuinely have no idea what the Makers' messages even contain.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: They can be friendly under the right circumstances, but if you offend their religion by stealing their technology they will attempt genocide unless and until you give it up.
- We Are as Mayflies: Continuum Makers can live for several centuries but most other species have lifespans comparative to humans.
- Enemy Mine: Offered, but ultimately rejected. They stole several spirits (the Makers' term for original technology) from the Continuum and fought bitter wars with them over it. When the Grasskans get Curb Stomped by the Vinn, they try begging for an Enemy Mine with the Continuum to work against the greater threat to the both of them. While new Maker Prime feels that the Vinn threat is big enough to at least consider it and respects the Grasskans as a Worthy Opponent, the rest of the Colegium prefers Revenge Before Reason and overrules him. Due to being insular and still carrying a grudge, they decide that they would rather take their chances and watch them die.
- Taking You with Me: They get brought to the verge of extinction at the hands of the Vinn. Since the Continuum refuses to help, they kill all of their stars, deciding that its better for all of them to die then let their families be remade by The Virus.
- Throw-Away Country: The Grasskan Empire is barely even mentioned before the Vinn invasion, and once they realize they've lost that war they destroy their own stars.
- The Worf Effect: They're an old starfaring empire, and one strong enough to fight even the Continuum to a stalemate. As soon as the Vinn are given FTL travel, they completely Curb Stomp the Grasskans and wipe them out.
- Abusive Precursors: Most species remember the ancient Sill as warlike conquerors who subjugated their ancestors in ancient times.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Enlightened Sill perceive death as this, which is why the last remaining Sill monks are not too fussed about dying out and losing all remaining presence on the physical plane. One of them implies that their minds continue to live on in the Great Quiet.
- Benevolent Precursors: Oddly, while most species remember the ancient empire of the Sill as warlike Abusive Precursors, the Fillipods have a much rosier memory of them. For some reason the Sill never conquered Tesskil, and instead taught the Fillipods art and poetry.
- Fantastic Drug: Telepathy can be used to reach a state the Sill religiously refer to as the "Great Quiet". It produces an absolute ecstasy that makes the "noisy" material world difficult to pay any attention to, which has resulted in their race dwindling towards extinction since they barely maintain their bodies or produce offspring. The few remaining monks only keep themselves alive at all to offer this path to others.
- Precursors: They were the most advanced race the galaxy has ever known and the only one to ever reach a type 2 Kardashev civilization; they ruled a significant swath of the galaxy, and through their trading and wars left profound influences on almost every sapient species they encountered. When they discovered Telepathy and modified themselves to be able to use it, one of them discovered that it can be used as a religious Fantastic Drug and their entire civilization got addicted. Now all that's left of them are some impressive ruins and some slowly dying monks.
- Telepathy: They were able to modify themselves with the ability to hear and speak to the minds of others shortly before their civilization collapsed.
Arboreal creatures capable of sensing gravity fields. Skitter's species.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: Their mohawks can detect gravity fields, allowing them to maneuver around obstacles nobody else would notice until too late and perceive otherwise unnoticeable objects. They use them on their homeworld to identity invisible airborne predators.
- Telepathy: They're natural telepaths, something implied to be extremely rare. Considering how their planet is a Death World with invisible airborne predators, it's implied that they needed telepathy to defend against these predators, allowing them to alert each other to them.
- Tree Top Town: They live in houses built in the treetops of the forests that cover Ashteet.
The VinnHave their own folder below, because they're not really a species/race.
Emperor CruzThe supreme ruler of the Imperio, who got his position by murdering his uncle, the previous office-holder, and framing Nosh. At the start of the comic, he charges the crew of the Machito to find Skitter's homeworld, as his species' ability to sense gravity disturbances would make them superb starship pilots and a massive asset to the Imperio.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: His eyebrows are so big, they jut out from the sides of his brows and can even be seen from behind his head.
- Dead Person Conversation: Has a habit of talking to his predecessor's statue when things are going poorly.
- The Emperor: The absolute ruler of the Imperio, which keeps its rule secure through liberal use of force and Secret Police, Cruz got his title after having the previous office-holder assassinated.
- Evil Uncle: To Fernando, though the available data suggests he's technically his second cousin (as Fernando's grandfather was his uncle).
- Last-Name Basis: Thus far he's only been referred to by his title and the family surname.
- The Napoleon: He's extremely short, and if his preference for appearing through giant holograms is any indication he may be compensating for it just a bit.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He was originally planning to dispose of the Machito's crew as part of The Purge of the previous emperor's loyalists, but due to its captain's reputation for competence and her good fortune to find exactly what he needs to win his war with the Continuum, he agrees to give them amnesty in return for finding more pilots like Skitter.
Sebastian CruzThe Proconsul of Du Fu, Sebastian receives the Machito's crew when they land there on orders of the emperor, although he has his own pressing reasons for wanting to speak to them.
- Verbal Tic: He tends to repeat words two or three times, as in "mustn't-mustn't", "quickly-quickly" or "but but but!"
- Beneficial Disease: The Vinn parasite causes all sorts of neato superpowers to develop within it's host: cytotoxic venom, a sixth sense, chromatophores, the ability to throw thunderbolts from the palm of one's hands, etc. The only drawbacks? The infested lose all memory, becoming an entirely different person. They also lose the ability to reproduce.
- Big Bad: So far shaping up to be the main driving force behind the story's larger conflict, as their religious desire to spread their disease and the revelation that the Vinn parasite makes its hosts unable to reproduce threaten the existence of all life in the galaxy.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Vinn are actually a number of species infected with a parasite, but this parasite spreads a number of useful genetic traits across each of those species. So most Vinn tend to have "bioelectrogenesis, venomous necrotoxins, chromataphore cells in their skin/hides, sharp vision due to minimal diffraction of incoming light, and shark-like electroreception".
- Cure That Kills: The "Daisy Cutter" weapon can kill the Vinn parasite, but the shock to the host usually kills them as well. The Jinyiwei eventually develop a slower treatment that kills the parasite but leaves the hose intact and allows them to recover their memories.
- Deflector Shields: They eventually develop these to shield their ships from Daisy Cutter particle beams, much to the dismay of the Jinyiwei.
- Have You Seen My God?: The Vinn religion revolves around finding their "Lost Gods", which in truth are an extinct race that genetically engineered them in an attempt to cure a disease that was killing them. It's a doomed quest — the Vinn parasite killed its makers more effectively than the disease ever did, and the few survivors nuked themselves into oblivion in a failed attempt to destroy the Vinn. It's implied that the Makers are the descendants of one of these "Gods" who managed to use the Ring Drive to escape their doomed homeworld.
- Mark of the Beast: Vinn all have black squares around their left eyes. It goes away when the parasite dies.
- No-Sell: The Vinn manage to re-create the containment field on the weapons specifically intended to fight them, and turned it inside-out to protect their ships.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Their biology revolves around a virus that infects other creatures' nervous systems and rewrites their minds and most of their biology to create a new creature to spread the Vinn infection.
- Super Intelligence: One of the gifts of the parasite. A typical Fekk Dragon struggles to learn (let alone understand) a word. A Vinn!Fekk is goddamn eloquent.
- The Virus: The Vinn aren't actually a single species but at least 14 species all infected with a common parasite that bonds to the nervous system and restructures the brain, resulting in an entirely new, unique mind. Most, possibly all, Vinn are trying to spread across the galaxy in an attempt to find their "gods", who developed the parasite as a misguided cure for an unknown affliction, although it's described as a "cancerous malady".
- You Will Be Assimilated: The Vinn are like what you'd get if you crossed the Zerg with the Covenant: a religion of parasite-infested Super Soldiers who constantly evolve and have "spread our Beneficial Disease" as a form of evangelism.
The Tres PrimosThree cousins and members of the Familia, the Tres Primos rejected their family's tyrannical rule, stealing a ring ship and becoming freedom fighters, fighting from the rich and powerful to help the poor and the oppressed.
- Captain Ersatz: Robin Hood, Little John, and Friar Tuck In SPACE. No mention of the other merry men, Sherwood, etc, however.
- Alternately, The Three Amigos.
- Cool Uncle: Three of them, to Fernando. To the rest of El Imperio, they're Black Sheep.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: They do this to Fernando while he is alone on the Machito.
Ahmis a.k.a the Rogue MakerA Maker of the Continuum who was cast out from his people for inventing AI. His rebellion and escape from the Continuum proved to be the Inciting Incident that indirectly leads to the rise of El Imperio. Thought to be dead, he was actually sealed in a stasis pod unbeknownst to all, but has been awakened in a time not his own.
- Badass Boast: When a Prahsitt farmer asks him if he can really repair a broken vehicle and create a machine to increase his harvest six-fold overnight, this is his response.Ahmis: My friend, I will build worlds with these hands.
- Broken Pedestal: He is widely admired as one of the most brilliant and inspiring Makers ever seen. But he is also regarded as one of their worst heretics, leading the Continuum's current leadership to have very mixed feelings about putting him on trial.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": His real name is Ahmis, but most refer to him as "Maker".
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Predates the Empire. He was thought to be dead, but was actually sealed in a stasis pod. When he awakens, he has no knowledge of the human Empire, or its war with the Continuum, or the Continuum's war with the Grasskans or basically anything for the last couple centuries. As Nosh puts it:Nosh: OOOF! That is heck of nap!
- The Heretic: In his efforts to impress the Continuum, he invented an artificial intelligence, a spirit that can create spirits. The Continuum regarded his invention as an abomination and hunted him down. At one point while on the run, he attempted to create a new religion. He has also called Shen, the first maker and the founder of the Continuum, a liar. He still holds the Continuum's ideal that the Drive is theirs alone when confronted with the Machito.
- Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished: He passed the Test of Tests, which was supposed to take nearly a week, in an hour. Largely out of petulance, no less.He could have took another day. Added some art to the design. They told him he would get no sustenance until he was finished. That made him angry. He wanted a sandwich.
- The Mentor: To Kik, after the young Prahsitt impresses him with his understanding of complex technical concepts and a gift of a hand-made pendant.
- Super-Speed Reading: Possesses this skill, and he is able to use it to learn foreign languages. According to Kik, Ahmis could read through a whole dictionary in "two minutes, tops."
KikA young Prahsitt whose family farm the Rogue Maker crash-landed on, he eventually tags along with him as he goes to investigate the Vinn.
- Audience Surrogate: Generally, his role in the story is for the Rogue Maker to have someone in-universe to exposit to, by extension providing a good narrative reason for him to exposit to the readers.
- Born Lucky: According to Prahsitt superstition, anyway. He's Green-Born — one of the rare Prahsitt born with green skin — and as such he's held by Prahsitt folk belief to be fated for a more momentous and interesting life than others. Considering his association with Ahmiss...
- Genius Ditz: Kik talks like your stereotypical deep south hick, and behaves in general like an untraveled rube (his first reaction to seeing humans for the first time is "I ain't never met humans a'fore, but I seen y'all in mah pitcher-books!"). But he makes Ahmis a fine piece of jewelry from scratch and is able to keep up with the Maker when Ahmis explains complex technical concepts like how the ring drive functions. He actually impresses Ahmis so much that Ahmis actually takes him on as a student.