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For almost a decade the Dragon War between the Principality of Arzon and the Queendom of Retrozia has ravaged over half a continent, leaving behind a barren wasteland, thousands of casualties and displaced refugees, and disillusioned soldiers who are forced to have their memories wiped so that they do not desert. It's not entirely foolproof, which is how Alice, an Arzonian deserter who has evaded capture for six months, escaped. All she seeks is an oft-whispered haven for deserters like her called Avalon, where she can be free to recover from the horrors of war. However, fighting for her freedom won't come easy and she can't do it alone - she may be done with the war, but the war is not done with her.

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Finding Avalon is her story.

Finding Avalon contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Alice and Zach stand out among names like Rolf, Jariina Segatta, Adarukh Rhan, Emenet Tiron, Madri Helemaiah, and the Meredi siblings Aleria Prysatya and Andrin Onsatya. It should be noted that Alice and Zach's names are derived from their actual names as implied by their character profiles, but their names are considered odd enough that at least one person in the story draws attention to them.
  • Arcadia: From descriptions, Avalon sounds like an idyllic countryside with rolling green hills, plentiful water and food, with space enough for dragons to roam free and not compete over territory or food, and places for the Riders to live. It sounds too good to be true which it is.
  • Arc Symbol: The Crest of Avalon shows up on the pillars of Ryveni ruins everywhere. Alice takes this as guidance towards Avalon itself.
  • Badass Crew: To wit:
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    • Alice, a scout who's been the only Rider to evade bounty hunters for more than six months.
    • Zach, a Rider with a bomber dragon who can cause devastation as easily as snapping his fingers (if he cared to).
    • Rolf, a young unassuming desert nomad who proves himself handy with nothing but a staff in close-quarters combat.
    • Jariina Segatta, a airship captain who can hold her own during dragon dogfights with a prosthetic arm.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The green, braid-like cord extending from directly under the occipital bone of Riders' heads is called the neural braid and allows Riders to directly communicate and guide their dragons via thoughts and emotions. It comes with an automatic release mechanism if the Rider's brain signals become too unstable and cannot be removed without killing the Rider, though the dragon would fare better. The braid allows for Neural Implanting; according to Alice the relevant knowledge Riders need is installed into their heads after every memory wipe and sometimes counts as the education they would have received in schools.
  • Common Tongue: Characters from different nations can understand each other because they're speaking the land's common language, Urudi, for the majority of the comic.
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    • Averted by Arzon and Retrozia in a weird way. Both were formerly one nation before their split and had only one language (Qaradia). Due to the split, an unreasonable amount of nationalism caused both countries to call their dialect of Qaradia by a different name and pretend it's an entirely different language the other country can't understand. Alice considers this stupid, and Zach after much persuasion eventually confesses to having the same opinion. Thankfully after the War it's implied that the rulers reconciled this one along with their differences.
  • Cool Airship: The airships are powered by Ryveni technology that is basically Magitek resembling Teslapunk, capable of carrying up to 200 people at a time. Eredan's airship force, The Silver Fleet, is a special mention, having had more research poured into them, and thus feature what is considered as cutting edge weaponry and engines for their time. Special mention to the following airships:
    • The Tribute is an experimental airship, having a core of crystallised magic as an energy source inside her engine. She bears special mention for having the first manned turrets armed with non-lethal ammunition as well as a fully detachable shuttle that can carry up to 4 passengers that automatically detaches the engine for its own use when deployed, in an emergency.
    • The Varsaraad. An airship of unconventional design incorporating the toughness of dragons, capable of being piloted by a skeleton crew, armed with a magitech gun that can deliver what essentially is a magic nuke. Its engine needs dragon blood to run!
    • The unnamed Ryveni ship used to chase after the Varsaraad. It makes the other airships look primitive, even moreso when a character reveals that it's a working prototype of a starship and has functioning hyperdrive capabilities with adjustable distances.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Though few, the ones Alice does manage to pull off are quite cutting.
    • "I would certainly stand up to give you a respectful greeting, but your war took my legs, you see." Ouch, Savaan.
  • Defector from Decadence: Alice and Zach defected from their respective armies due to their nations taking extreme measures to recruit and retain Riders, and misleading their own civilians with lies about the war.
  • Determinator: Alice really wants to find Avalon and a war isn't going to stop her. It does provide a worthy obstacle, however.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu??: Zach takes a moment out of his life to deliver a dressing-down straight to the face of the Queen of Retrozia for her arrogance, complete with swearing. His delayed realisation later was just the cherry on the cake.
    Zach: ...did I tell my own queen off?
    Alice: ...yes.
    Zach: I'm amazed she's not out for my head, then.
  • Dragon Rider: In this world dragons are actually non-sapient but highly intelligent social animals similar to horses, but their genetically engineered nature makes them easily skittish even when trained for battle. Hence a human needs to neurally synchronise with the dragon to keep it under control. The dragon benefits by developing near-human intelligence and understanding human emotion and language to an extent, while the human gets the awesome power of flight and a dragon's ridiculously acute senses, almost as if turning them into a temporary superhuman.
  • The Dragons Come Back: Somewhat odd variant that actual dragons were indeed extinct in this world, wiped out by an epidemic, but Arzon and Retrozia decided to genetically engineer closely-related chimaeric hybrids as part of an arms race. The rest, they say, is history.
  • The Dreaded: In-universe, the 'varsaraad' is a monster in a bedtime story that creeps up on unsuspecting children and eats them if they have been naughty, and then disappears as mysteriously as its arrival. Due to the airship exhibiting similar behaviour, people begin to associate the word to it and eventually it became the name of the superweapon.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Regardless of how much Alice and Zach help others, they are still universally hated since Riders have caused heavy casualties to both sides and innocents as well. Alice voices her weariness over the lack of gratitude but understands where it comes from. Zach is less passive about it.
  • During the War: The story is set in a fictional unnamed world during a war where genetically engineered dragons and their riders duke it out in the skies between two nations whose rulers started over 'sibling rivalry' and have too much pride to back down. It's been going on for a decade.
  • Dysfunction Junction: As a result of War Is Hell, most of the cast suffers from unresolved issues. Rolf has PTSD that he doesn't recognise as such, Zach is deep into depression borne of survivor guilt, Alice is creeping up on the depression herself, Rhan's... problems put everyone else's to shame. Jariina appears to be the only one consciously aware of this and the most well-adjusted despite her own mild trauma, and has to point out that Verhen subverts this trope solely because "he started as an asshole anyway".
  • Fictional United Nations: The Council of Nations is a peacekeeping organisation comprising multiple countries on the continent. Eredan is one of its members. Notable in that the Council tried to mediate between Arzon and Retrozia at the beginning of the war to try and defuse the situation, and when that failed they tried to stop the war. It is telling that the Dragon War has frustrated the Council so much they've abandoned the effort to stop it, with only Eredan still involved - and even then Eredan can only grant asylum to refugees thanks to its deal with the Sky Rogues.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the end of the story Alice, Zach, Rolf and Jariina are fast friends and colleagues, having good fun as they work together. Special mention goes to Alice and Zach, who despite their rocky antagonistic start, according to the epilogue remained close friends for the rest of their lives.
  • Foil: Adarukh Rhan to Emenet Tiron. Both are scientists who defected in protest of their respective nations' increasing wastefulness on military pursuits for what amounts to a sibling argument, who have lost loved ones to such pursuits due to being held hostage over their refusal to cooperate. Both are incredibly remorseful of their work being used in creating weapons of war. However Rhan takes it upon himself to shoulder the burden as if he's the sole man responsible, while Emenet intends to work with others to make amends. The consequences are... dire.
  • Foreshadowing: The Ryveni word used for the crest of Avalon means 'a grand lie', and is carefully foreshadowed by two pieces of information dispensed by the scientists. Firstly, any Ryveni word that is written asymmetrically usually has a negative meaning. Secondly, the word is written all over Ryveni ruins because the civilisation placed warnings on not being misled by hubris and schemes, including 'grand lies'.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The main cast.
    • The Cynic: Alice. Six months of surviving in the Silent Wastes, hated by nearly everyone and barely tolerated by the rest, she's become jaded and bitter, wanting the best but expecting the worst. She doesn't blame others for disliking her; rather she readily accepts that even if she's not personally taken the lives of loved ones, she automatically accepts that she has enough blood on her hands that it counts.
    • The Optimist: Rolf. Naive, kind and always looking for the best in people. He balances out Alice's cynicism, countering her self-blaming with hope and encouragement. He always looks to any horizon with enthusiasm, wanting to make the most of every new day despite his PTSD, and will try to get others to see things the same way in order to keep them going.
    • The Realist: Jariina, as befitting her role as captain of the Tribute, and then later the spokesman for the group itself. She's always level-headed and reasonable. Though she understands that the Riders accept being the black sheep of the world, she gives them credit where they're due and eventually is on board with them trying to do the right thing.
    • The Apathetic: Zach. Distant, aloof, easily irritated and for most of the story doesn't involve himself in the goals of the other three - he doesn't even have goals, as Alice later finds out. He's suffering from depression due to the knowledge of the memory-wiping and the loss of his squads too heavy to bear, even after he vents at his Queen about it. Eventually however he chooses to overcome this to help Alice stop Rhan, and in the epilogue it's all but stated that he's getting better with the help of therapy and working with his new friends.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The main cast wear goggles of different styles, initially to protect their eyes from the wind and sand of the Silent Wastes, and the smoke from dragons. Then Helemaiah gets them upgraded for the main cast so they have a helpful Heads-Up Display with communications channels between each other and the airships, and a guidance system where coordinates can be transferred between airship and wearer for quick directions.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • The President of Eredan was formerly a general who lost his ground troops and the use of his legs during the peak of the Dragon War. He makes his way around in a motorised wheelchair. Despite all this he leaps at the opportunity to command Eredan's fleet of airships to take down the Varsaraad and would probably have tried to do it personally had Helemaiah not been present.
    • Jariina Segatta puts other airship captains to shame with her ace flying despite having a prosthetic arm.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Riders are memory-wiped from the moment they're drafted, and must undergo regular mind wipes so as to not remember the atrocities of the fights they were in. Because it's a rather imperfect procedure that takes out unrelated memories, the relevant knowledge is then fed back into their brains via the neural braid, thus preserving the knowledge and skills they need to fight while preventing desertion - or at least an attempt to. The use of it has become increasingly unethical by the time of the comic.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • To literally everyone in the cast, Adarukh Rhan is just Rhan... except for Alice, who uses Full-Name Basis with him until she has to reason with him in the climax.
    • Madri Helemaiah prefers being called Helemaiah. Only President Savaan addresses them by their first name. This is mutual with the president, who's addressed as Yvon only by Helemaiah.
  • Lost Technology: The only reason why genetic engineering even exists is due to this. A vast ancient civilisation called the Ryven Dominion that once spanned the world had technology far beyond any found in the present day. According to legend they simply upped and left one day as spacefarers, and left behind the prototypes of their work for some reason. Present-day civilisations have only been able to decipher a tiny bit of their legacy and thus their own technological development is piecemeal. It's implied that the genetic engineering used to create dragons could also have been used to provide advanced universal healthcare in the time of the Dominion, but present-day people barely got to the 'dragons' part before they started warring and promptly forgot to use the rest of the tech to actually improve lives.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Rhan's using a revolver and most land transport is still cart and horse, when they have genetic engineering and airships. The reason for this is that their tech is developed in bits and pieces based on what they can translate and comprehend from ancient Ryveni blueprints and documents, and thus it's all a strange mix.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The dragons are specifically engineered to be bulletproof, fireproof, and knives do little against their scales. The Ryven Dominion got around these by chemically altering their fire and making their teeth out of a specific material that can pierce dragon hide, which means the literal weakness of a dragon is another dragon. As of Finding Avalon's time, the Sky Rogues have discovered that large caliber anti-artillery bullets have some effect, but it's still not as effective as another dragon.
    • Alice and Zach take several crash-landings and only have bruises to show for it. Falls from heights that would rightly kill a man result in heavy injuries instead, though it's implied their dragons also cushioned their falls. This high resilience seems to be normal; when Jariina lampshades this, the Riders merely shrug in response.
  • Magitek: The Sky Rogues are actively trying to promote the use of magitechnology to replace dragons by way of the crystallised magical cores mined from beneath the world's crust powering airships. If something when liquefied can provide enough power to keep a massive airship in the air, why not other technology?
  • The Medic: Rolf's knowledge of natural medicines comes in handy quite often, though for more serious injuries it's only enough to alleviate pain and stop them from getting worse until the injured receive proper medical treatment.
  • Micro Monarchy: Arzon is a Principality (ruled by a Prince) and Retrozia is ruled by a queen. Both were formerly one united nation until a succession crisis split the country in two. Both countries are implied to be the average size of one of Eredan's provinces; Eredan itself dwarfs both nations and then some. While both nations are much more powerful than the examples on the page, they're still comparatively tiny to the rest of the continent.
  • The Mutiny: Pissed off by Captain Segatta's humanitarian treatment of the Riders, including deploying non-lethal ammunition against them and giving them refuge, the crew of the Tribute stage a mutiny and cripple the airship, taking the crystallised magical core with them and leaving the airship to crash with the Riders, Rolf and Segatta on board. They were also being paid off by Rhan to do it.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Zach is on the receiving end of one by enraged villagers; it's only with the main crew's intervention and Sorya that he gets out of it alive, with just a broken arm and ribs.
  • Only One Name:
    • Alice and Zach, but that's all they can remember since the memory wipes have taken their full names. For all we know, those might not even be derivatives of their original names, considering that Riders are fed information and propaganda through their neural braids; Alice and Zach might just have been told that those were their names.
    • Rolf. His tribe dictates a name being the most important part of a person's identity and believed in evil spirits that could steal a person's name. He eventually does reveal his full name, which is not one word, but for most of the story he's simply known as Rolf.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Genetically engineered chimaeric creatures that have the intelligence of social animals like horses and elephants. They need the mind of a human synced with theirs to keep them under control, and come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the role they were engineered to do - a scout has a quick-firing plasma breath and is designed for high manoeuvrability, while a long-distance bomber can spew smoke to obscure the skies and throw boulders! They can in fact breed, but according to Alice they have yet to figure out how without human help.
  • Precision F-Strike: Swearing is almost non-existent. As a result, when Zach swears you know shit just got real.
    • He explodes the moment Helemaiah utters the words "[Tiron] didn't make it" with a forceful "That's bullshit!", though it's clear a second later it was an emotional outburst rather than actual denial.
    • His reaction on seeing the Ryveni starship is another one.
      "Oh shit."
  • Precursors: The Ryven Dominion, an ancient civilisation so advanced that they could have been a race straight from sci fi. They could regularly travel in space, had universal advanced healthcare with genetic engineering behind most of it and other such fantastic wonders. According to documents they'd left behind, they simply upped and left the world - and their technology - one day, taking all their current work but leaving behind prototypes and ruins. No one knows why. Their language hasn't even been fully deciphered, thus understanding them is still in progress.
  • Rage Within the Machine:
    • In the prelude comic Rider: Origins, Zach and Alice both started doubting their superiors' motives while still in their respective armies. Their eventual discovery of the truth leads to their defection.
    • Rhan and Tiron have a similar start to their defection. As their nations forbid the flow of information where it was once allowed, they rebelled by collaborating in secret until circumstances pushed them to defect.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • Of course, the main cast. A cynical former soldier, a desert jail warden, an airship captain and engineer, and a formerly patriotic freshly-deserted soldier from the opposing nation come together because fate decided they all meet up and suddenly have to face far more serious situations that they wanted to get out of in the first place.
    • The Sky Rogues however is the main representation of this. Originally comprising scientists who defected from Arzon and Retrozia, they were soon joined by people who were either agreeing with the Rogues' goal of building technology to fight back or are just damn tired of the war. This meant literally anyone joined it - Captain Segatta was originally a farmer, for one - and unfortunately the lack of enforcing their efforts to achieve a unified goal splits and crumbles the Rogues from within by the end of the story.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Zach delivers one directly to Queen Aleria's face and leaves her stunned.
    • Alice manages to give a more subdued version to Prince Andrin. To her surprise, he actually agrees with her.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Retrozia's nation crest is red and Arzon's nation crest is blue. Oddly, the two nations' approach to things is entirely the opposite of their colours; Retrozia is cool-headed and tactical while Arzon is aggressive and hot-blooded.
    • This is because the two nations reflect their rulers. The Queen is definitely Blue to the High Prince's Red.
  • The Republic: Eredan is a humanitarian, highly advanced nation with a democratic government and a reputation for looking out for others. They have had the resources to look after refugees of the war without much strain, and do so willingly because they consider it in their best interests to help those less fortunate.
  • The Reveal: Secondary to the plot, but important nonetheless - 'Avalon' is nothing more than a lie cooked up by Retrozia and latched onto by Arzon as a trap to capture deserter Riders.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • The crew of the Tribute that mutinied against Captain Segatta were sent home each with a bottle of aged Arzonian wine from Rhan - that turned out to be cheap alcohol mixed with corrosive dragon's blood. Their deaths were reported as "corpses missing their entire digestive systems lying in blood with an empty wine bottle".
    • Special mention goes to Verhen: Rhan betrayed him and shoved him into the Varsaraad's cannon. Tiron wrote down the results in his journal; only by people's reactions do we get to know that the results were apparently horrific.
  • Running Gag: Crash-landing seems to be a popular choice of meeting new people.
    • Alice meets Rolf after crash-landing outside his village.
    • Alice meets Zach after he wakes up from crash-landing in an open turret on Segatta's ship.
    • The whole group meets the President of Eredan after the Tribute crash-lands near Eredan.
    • Pretty much the only person in the main cast who doesn't personally crash-land at all in the story is Rolf.
  • Sibling Rivalry: The relationship between the Queen of Retrozia and the High Prince of Arzon, which extended to their countries and culminated in the Dragon War. The President even describes the War as such.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • This may have been unintentional, but Rhan fired at Alice just as Tiron reached her to escape. Tiron's pushing Alice out of the way by accident meant the bullet would have missed her entirely, but it hit him instead. He doesn't make it.
    • When Alice is barely able to keep out of the range of the Varsaraad's homing missiles, Zach body-blocks them with Alzar. He survives.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Alice briefly tries this to dissuade Rhan from nuking the two nations. She quickly realises he's too far gone to listen, but keeps trying anyway to distract him.
  • There Are No Therapists: Most of the cast have clear psychological problems that, by way of inaccessibility or just not recognising mental issues for what they are, aren't treated as they should be. Dealing with their problems is part and parcel of getting to know one another.
    • Averted by Helemaiah and Savaan, who mention they received therapy after they were discharged and Eredan offers said services to refugees and deserters alike; unfortunately the others just don't get time to spare.
  • Translation Convention:
    • The dialogue is English, but everyone is speaking Urudi. Even when Rhan and Alice converse in the Arzonian language, Eskalla, it's still in English.
    • Alice and Zach's profiles note that Alice and Zach's names are approximations of what they'd sound like in English, meaning that in the work's actual language their names sound remotely nothing like Alice and Zach. This most likely applies to the other characters as well.
  • Translation Punctuation: Because plain English is the language used in the work, Rhan and Alice's conversation in Eskalla is enclosed in angle brackets to differentiate it from Urudi.
  • Verbing Nouny: The title of the webcomic, detailing Alice's journey as she seeks a fabled haven for deserter Riders tired of the war like her.

Characters

    Alice 
The protagonist of Finding Avalon and an Arzonian scout Rider until she deserted. She's the only Rider alive who's evaded bounty hunters her nation sends to recapture her for over six months, though her reputation remains largely unknown since there's not many deserter Riders who are actually alive or known due to their hated status. Her mission to find Avalon, the idyllic paradise home to deserter Riders like her, is what begins and drives the story, though it doesn't stop her from trying to make up to people on her way there. Her dragon is named Sorya, a midnight blue wyvern.
  • Ace Pilot: She can perform ridiculous manoeuvres with Sorya that would make your head spin and still come up with the best strategy to outrace, outpace and outwit her opponents in the middle of all of that.
  • The Atoner: Alice does not allow the Riders' memory wiping to be an excuse for their decade of atrocities. She constantly reminds people that Riders still carried out their heinous acts and fully accepts being labelled as a criminal, clearly seeking to make up for it somehow.
  • Character Development: Her arc revolves around accepting responsibility for the consequences of her actions as a Rider but also moving on from the past and trying to make the future better. She eventually does by heading out to stop the Varsaraad, not just because she's a Rider but because she genuinely wants to try and change things around without anymore death.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Her military uniform is all black and shades of grey, but she's more optimistic than she lets on.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Her profile states she's naturally dark-skinned and spending all that time in the Wastes just made her tan a bit more. An additional note states that dark skin and red hair are common to Arzonians.
  • Determinator: She's going to find Avalon and God help you if you try to stop her.
  • Experienced Protagonist: By far she's the most experienced Rider we see, having spent six months in the harsh Silent Wastes surviving with none of her skills as a Rider deteriorating one bit.
  • Full-Name Basis: Other characters notice she's the only one who addresses Adarukh Rhan, the only other Arzonian in the story, by his full name because it's proper to do so in Eskallan. In the climax she addresses him as Rhan only, meaning she's speaking to him in Urudi.
  • Living Is More Than Surviving: Alice's major motivation for seeking Avalon. She's tired of surviving from one end of the Wastes to another, wanting to find a safe place where she can gather her thoughts and recover from the war alone with her dragon as herself. Her deep desire to know what it feels like to actually live spurs her into action as she wants to make something of her life and be useful under her own terms and choices for once.
  • Only One Name: Standard for a Rider.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: Given the Cyber Punk aesthetic for Arzon and Retrozia, Alice's short bobbed hairstyle with an undercut fits the bill. It's also a practical hairstyle as long hair would just fly everywhere when she's on her dragon. Unlike most examples of the bob haircut it's also messy and choppy, suggesting she has very little time to spare maintaining it in the Wastes and probably clumsily cuts it herself.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Has dark red hair and green eyes? Check. Major character? She's the protagonist. The only one with it? Check.
    Zach 
A Retrozian bomber Rider Alice meets by way of Captain Segatta's gunners shooting him out of the sky into an open turret during a dragonfight. To rub salt further into the wound, he was in the midst of deserting when he was shot at. He doesn't share Alice's opinion on making amends, preferring to care solely about himself and treating the war as everyone else's problem, much to the chagrin of his companions. Flies a white 'typical' dragon called Alzar.
  • Ace Pilot: Bomber Riders must withstand high heat, strafing manoeuvres and toxic amounts of smoke while coordinating bombing runs without missing their target; bomber Riders are rarely long-lived. Zach's jacket bears a Retrozian captain insignia, meaning he's both done his job well and survived long enough to be promoted. For this reason Alice considers Zach, a decidedly alive bomber, a skilled Rider even before he's demonstrated his abilities much to the scepticism of others. She's proven right later.
  • Character Development: It may largely be influenced by Alice's determination, but Zach goes from apathetic and distant to playing an active role in stopping the Varsaraad. His strongly nationalistic attitude towards her also changes to admit that his country was just as wrong as hers and having grudging respect for her because she genuinely cared for his wellbeing despite being on opposite sides, culminating in saving her and paying her back for stopping Verhen from throwing him off the Tribute.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: When he discovered that Riders were memory-wiped every time someone deemed them learning something they were not supposed to (or after every battle), and thus would not remember their own identities or their previous squadmates, he lost his idealism pretty quick.
  • Death Seeker: Before he takes the missiles meant for Alice, he answers "Like I should've done" when she tells him that the missiles will kill both his dragon and him if he does, referring to his escaping death when his squad didn't.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Everything about Zach is symmetrical except his hair. He has jaw-length hair on one side and an undercut on the other with a straight-edged cut only reaching his ear. We later find out that this is a side hazard of being a bomber; one side of his hair caught fire during a bombing strafe.
  • A Father to His Men: The reason why Zach is angry at Arzonians - and the war in general - is due to him caring about how the Riders will be remembered after the war, which started with his own squads. His angry rant at the Queen reveals that his primary source of grief is the deaths of the Riders under him, some of whom may not have been dead at all but had their memories and identities wiped all the same.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Thinks his Queen is an arrogant dolt but believed Retrozia is in the right and Arzon should admit fault with its mistakes. Until he finds out that Retrozia and Arzon were both equally complicit in the war, and eventually sheds this mentality, though he doesn't take it well at all.
  • Only One Name: As is standard for a Rider.
  • Survivor Guilt: Being the mentally-present sole survivor of two squads, one that was memory-wiped and the other that was killed, once his abrasive nationalistic exterior gets worn down after he lays into the Queen about it he clearly shows he's going through this. The epilogue implies he's recovering.
  • Taking the Bullet: When Alice can't shake off homing missiles Zach commandeers Alzar to fly between her and the torpedoes, shielding her with his much larger dragon and taking the hit so she can stop Rhan. Though he and Alzar sustain heavy injuries from the act, they both survive.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He does make the effort to punch Alice without hesitation when he wakes up, but it's justified as he's trying to hit her because she's the enemy.
    Rolf 
Alice's warden while she is imprisoned in the Belhannah jail, and who eventually becomes her friend because he doesn't agree with his village's practices of disposing of Riders due to Belhannah history. While he is the most naive in the cast, his experience of the wasteland, close combat prowess and survival skills make him invaluable to his companions during the numerous times they get stuck with nothing but the clothes on their backs in the wasteland. Follows Alice around on the basis that he hasn't got a clue where to go next after his village is destroyed by the Varsaraad.
  • Audience Surrogate: Rolf has no idea about the War except that it involves dragons and blew up his hometown. Alice explains to him, and by extension the audience, the history of the war.
  • Given Name Reveal: In Belhannah names have power, thus everyone goes by a nickname derived from, but not giving away, their real names. He finally lets his companions know his real name Raluf Urah but requests they continue calling him Rolf, as a show of trust. They do.
  • Parental Abandonment: Rolf's parents died when Belhannah was strafed by a dragon bombing run due to its strategic location near the border between Arzon and Retrozia.
  • Simple Staff: Rolf has a roughly hewn staff that he uses as a walking stick as well as a weapon. It also denotes that he has authority as a jail warden, as wood is rare in his village and only given to those in positions of power - the more elaborate the staff, the higher ranked the owner.
  • Trauma Button: Rolf shows clear signs of PTSD whenever mass destruction or dragons are involved, showing he hasn't recovered from his parents' death and Belhannah's destruction despite being a young child at the time. He insists that he's fine, but his freezing up or breaking down every time he's triggered says otherwise.
    Jariina Segatta 
First introduced as Captain Segatta, Jariina was a farmer right up until a dragon war erupted over her town and took her home, family and half her right arm from her. In defiance of the dragons she joined the Sky Rogues to help stop the War and promote magitech (but mostly to stop the war), and is known to be the first Sky Rogues captain to deploy non-lethal takedowns of Riders. Alice meets her when she and Rolf are arrested to explain the destruction of the village of Belhannah. Has a prosthetic mechanical arm powered by magitech.
  • Artificial Limbs: Emenet Tiron built a magitech-powered steampunk prosthetic arm that she straps to her shoulder, replacing the arm she lost.
    • Artificial Limbs Are Stronger: Downplayed; about the only feat of strength that makes her stand out is being able to withstand the recoil of a gun normal people wouldn't be able to use, and it tires her out eventually. She can also deck a man with it, but notes that it's only because she doesn't have to worry about breaking a bone.
  • Braids of Action: After becoming pyrophobic in the wake of the bombing run that destroyed her home, Jariina started wearing her hair in a braid. It also keeps her hair out of her face when she's getting her hands dirty with engines.
  • The Captain: While clearly hot-tempered and impulsive at times, she soon reveals her bark is worse than her bite - she's firm, respects others and is incredibly cool-headed in the middle of a crisis even when injured. Her posture as captain is so imposing that even after the Tribute had crashed, the Riders still address her as captain despite her insistence and only stop when Savaan affirms she is no longer a captain due to the loss of her airship. Unfortunately for her, her crew was under the pay of someone else and the respect she gives them definitely was not mutual.
  • Character Development: Jariina starts out being sceptical of Riders, condemning them as criminals who will never be free of the blood on their hands. When she learns about the 're-socialisation' of Riders she starts reconsidering her stand. With some help through Alice and Zach's actions in attempting to save Arzon and Retrozia, by the end she may not have forgiven them, but she's willing to give them a second chance to make it up to the world.
  • Foil: Like Verhen, she lost loved ones and her hometown, and strongly dislikes Riders. Unlike Verhen she doesn't use it to justify treating Riders as less than people, or getting revenge.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The escape shuttle built into the Tribute was specifically designed and constructed by her. She mentions picking up mechanical work after joining the Sky Rogues and finding she had a knack for it. She also takes to Ryveni pilot controls easily, something even Prince Andrin is surprised about.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Jariina received burns on her face from the bombing run that took her arm; the scars are neat and don't affect her day-to-day activities. She mentions that the ones on what's left of her arm are worse, though.
  • Handicapped Badass: Wearing a prosthesis doesn't stop her from piloting all manner of airships and shuttles with Ryveni technology, and gives her enough strength to deck a man much taller than her.
    Anasa Verhen 
Captain Segatta's First Mate, second in rank to her. Does not shy away from expressing his hatred for Riders often, and would have probably thrown Alice and Zach off the ship without their dragons if it were not for Segatta. His dislike comes from a similar reason as Segatta - he lost his friends, family and hometown in a bombing run despite trying to warn them, and hates the Riders vehemently for it.
  • Beard of Evil: Sports the neatly trimmed goatee and mutton chops variant.
  • Faux Affably Evil: For most of his appearance he's professional even if he comes off as a little unsettling. When he reveals his true colours it becomes obvious it's all an act as he chillingly executes a henchman for failing him without any change in tone or politeness and goes straight to borderline creepy when he politely asks Alice to 'please sleep' just as he's about to pistol-whip her.
  • Gun Nut: Carries the most guns of the entire cast - two revolvers, a rifle and a sawed-off shotgun. They are visible on his person at all times and he's never seen without at least one in his hands.
  • The Gunslinger: Jariina warns the Riders that Verhen is an expert gunslinger and would not hesitate to shoot if they misbehave. He gets to demonstrate his Trick Shot skills at one point, shooting off a loose bolt to dislodge an entire walkway that was already hanging by a thread from quite a distance.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Alice notes there's something unsettling about how Verhen's eyes tend to be cold regardless of expression or speech.
  • Large and in Charge: Averted. Verhen may be over six feet tall and towers over literally everyone else, but Segatta remains the captain of the Tribute. Then played straight when he reveals himself as the leader of the mercenaries that pose as the crew.
  • The Mole: Verhen turns out to be the leader of a group of mercenaries hired by Rhan to guard the Tribute.
  • The Mutiny: The mastermind behind the mutiny aboard the Tribute, partly because Segatta stopped him from killing the Riders and partly because Rhan was paying him to steal the magical core. It's revealed later that Rhan had planned for the mercenaries to mutiny so that he could have an alibi; the mercenaries' grudge against Segatta just helped him to get away with it and hide his identity as the pilot of the Varsaraad.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: According to Tiron's journal, Rhan never trusted Verhen from the start and got rid of him post-mutiny by tricking him to walk near the Varsaraad's cannon and pushing him into it during a testing. He was the only mutineer to die this way, suggesting that Rhan had intended to punish him this way all along.
  • Trigger Happy: One would think the very idea of shooting a Rider is constantly on his mind, with how his hand is always resting on one revolver whenever a Rider is present. He also makes thinly veiled threats about it.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Was on the verge of pistol-whipping Alice until Jariina clocked him square in the jaw. The expression on his face after suggests he would have still gone through with it if he hadn't been stopped.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When one of his henchmen fail to subdue either Zach or Alice and throw them off the Tribute, Verhen shoots him in cold blood without hesitation, stating he has 'no use for wretched failures'.
    Adarukh Rhan 
An Arzonian scientist aboard Segatta's airship who introduces Alice and Rolf to the wonders of magitech. He was one of the pioneers of the genetic engineering that brought the dragons to life in his homeland, but after being forced to work on his research for military purposes and watching casualties rise from both Riders and civilians he defected to the Sky Rogues to make amends.
  • Badass Bookworm: He is the scientist who spearheaded the genetic engineering of dragons and making them viable weapons of war. He's also a dab hand at firing a gun and piloting an airship while under fire from dragons.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Much like Alice since the traits are common to Arzonians, and they're the only two Arzonians in the cast.
  • Death Seeker: His plan to destroy the research he's left behind includes dropping the airship he built on the remaining capital city of the nation that doesn't get nuked. Since there are no escape shuttles on board the Varsaraad and he shows no sign of abandoning it, it's all but stated.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The answer Rhan gives to getting rid of his research and ending the war is to destroy the governments and rulers of the two nations via magical nuke. This would also have the side effect of killing every civilian in both capital cities.
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted. He attempts to destroy the Varsaraad along with his research and him aboard it. Alice stops him in time so he would be judged for his crimes.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The 'Eliya Process' was named after his daughter. Tiron later explains he'd wanted to name the airship after his wife, but then thought the Varsaraad was a much cooler name. Alice tries referring to his family to dissuade him from crashing the airship when she realises he still loves them.
  • Freudian Excuse: His wife and daughter were drafted against their will. That his legacy as a scientist is a secondary reason, but only after he realised how much damage the nation was doing through his research - it's implied he knew before then what his nation was doing to the Riders, but only really started caring when his family got involved.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: We find out his motives late in the third act.
  • Ignored Epiphany: When Alice tells him that Tiron is dead because of him, he clearly hesitates and shows guilt and doubt - only to continue with his plan because he's come too far now.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Rhan (35) is close friends with Tiron (72).
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Rhan constantly insults Tiron on the Varsaraad, blaming him for everything even when he hasn't done anything. Tiron notes that the Rhan he used to know is not what Rhan is now.
  • Moral Myopia: As pointed out repeatedly to him, killing thousands of civilians who had probably suffered just as much as he did and then some just to destroy his research is not exactly the high ground. He doesn't seem to care.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: As a child he wanted to be a scientist to carry out research that would help people. In his early years he was a well-mannered, empathetic man who had a loving family and would defy his nation to share knowledge with his peers even when forbidden to do so, for the sake of improving the quality of living. The Rhan we get to see proper is bitter, depressed and full of self-loathing.
  • The Smart Guy: One of the primary researchers behind reverse-engineering Ryveni genetic studies and later genetic engineering in and of itself, and later building an actual superweapon on his own. He also figures out Ryveni pilot controls easily.
  • Tragic Villain: As a scientist with the aim of improving people's lives with his work he sees his research turned into weaponry for warfare, leading to countless of deaths and even more casualties, soldiers involved being treated as nothing more than disposable and brainwashed, and his family taken hostage to force him to continue his work. When they're drafted against his will without his knowing and memories wiped, he decides that his legacy is too far gone to be redeemable and attempts to destroy the governments responsible - along with himself - to end the war that he blames himself for indirectly causing.
    Emenet Tiron 
A Retrozian scientist and the founder of the Sky Rogues. Renown to generally be a doormat right up until he refused to cooperate with Retrozia's increasingly aggressive military pursuits and progressively abusive treatment of Riders, wherein he stood up to his superiors and departed his homeland in a fit of rage. Despite that reputation he is a genuinely kind person who wants his work to save lives rather than kill.
  • Extreme Doormat: Tiron is known to do whatever he's ordered to do even if he's clearly uncomfortable with it, because he feels that he has no power to fight back. The biggest - and only - highlight of his life was standing up to his superiors when ordered to deliver further research to the military at the peak of its cruelty and defecting.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Shoves Alice out of the way when Rhan attempts to shoot her, getting hit instead. He does not survive.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Tiron (72) is close friends with Rhan (35).
  • Last Request: Asks Alice to stop Rhan from nuking cities with his dying breath.
    "Stop him. Stop Rhan. For his sake."
  • Nice Guy: Polite, sympathetic and genuinely well-meaning. When Alice drops by the Varsaraad to save Zach, Tiron had nearly beaten her to it as he'd recognised Zach as a fellow Retrozian.
  • Non-Action Guy: The reason why he's a doormat is because he legitimately does not know how to fight back with anything more than words.
  • The Smart Guy: One of the primary researchers behind the study of Ryveni linguistics, repurposing Ryveni mechanical engineering into magitech, and eventually the brains behind reverse-engineering Ryveni airship technology. It's implied that he had had enough knowledge to activate and decipher the instructions to pilot the unnamed Ryveni airship before Rhan took him hostage.
    President Yvon Savaan 
The President of Eredan, though he considers himself a figurehead and his parliament the real governing body. His nation was one of many that tried to stop the Dragon War when it first began; now Eredan is the last neutral nation involved. He was actively involved in the War right up until he lost the use of his legs, forcing him to take a backseat and play a more passive role; that said out of the three nation leaders shown he is the most reasonable ruler. Works with the Sky Rogues on magitech and airship development, providing funds and resources in exchange for completed research to help improve the standards of living in his country.
  • First-Name Basis: Helemaiah is the only one allowed to address him as Yvon.
  • Handicapped Badass: Losing the use of his legs during the Dragon War does not stop him from wanting to go toe-to-toe with the Sky Rogues. He only relents when Helemaiah expresses concern.
  • Last-Name Basis: Is addressed as Savaan by everyone who's not Helemaiah.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Being a visual and not audio medium, Savaan's first name appears as a male variant of Yvonne. It's averted by way of a small note on the same page as the first time Helemaiah addresses President Savaan by his first name.
    "Pronounced Ya-von."
  • Official Couple: With Madri Helemaiah.
  • Only Sane Man: Between High Prince Andrin, Queen Aleria and President Savaan, the president is the only ruler who has an outsider view of the war and actively wants it over with. He makes it clear to the Riders he's been trying to talk them into seeing that the entire conflict is a pointless waste of time and resources, and shooting themselves in the diplomatic foot so to speak. When the Riders get to hear him do this, he sounds like a father chiding his children.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: A President Personable type: genuinely polite, respectful and reasonable as a ruler of his country, which surprises the Riders since their own rulers are not exactly paragons of virtue.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite the general public's hatred of Riders, Savaan hears them out and heeds their warnings more willingly than anyone else would. He cares about the Riders' welfare, offering them therapy for post-war PTSD and choosing not to deport deserters because their countries would simply memory-wipe them again. When the Riders mention that they can't reach the Varsaraad's speed, he immediately authorises the use of a working prototype Ryveni starship that Eredan was researching that can get them where they need to go.
  • Retired Badass: A former general of the Eredan fleet. Was honorably discharged from service after he was crippled, then elected to serve his nation as its head of government because apparently he is that badass. Though he's not the military leader of the Eredan fleet, he has enough clout from within to mobilise the fleet on the mere suspicion that the Sky Rogues will hinder the Riders in reaching the Varsaraad.
    Madri Helemaiah 
President Savaan's deeply loyal secretary. Helemaiah is a former commanding officer who fought in the Dragon War, but was honorably discharged after the other nations withdrew their aid from stopping the War. They consider their service to the nation unfinished and thus continue to advise President Savaan on strategies of dealing with the Sky Rogues and the War.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Helemaiah is drawn in a way that does not reveal their physical sex to the audience, and they stay that way from introduction to conclusion. This is intentional, as Helemaiah notes that regardless of their physical sex or gender identity, they still wish to serve Eredan and the President, and thus considers it a matter too trivial to let it become an obstacle.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Helemaiah's profile lists their gender as "They" and gender identity as... "They". Helemaiah shows absolutely no typical traits associated with any gender, and any personality quirks they have such as being a Neat Freak ("Can you ease up on tidying my desk after every meeting?") can be attributed to both genders equally.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Their relationship is implied to have started with Helemaiah being attracted to Savaan, who was their superior at the time.
  • Last-Name Basis: Helemaiah is addressed as such by everyone except Savaan.
  • Official Couple: With President Savaan.
  • Older Than They Look: Helemaiah looks young compared to Savaan, but a casual mention from Savaan implies Helemaiah is roughly the same age. Then again Savaan also notes that he himself is actually younger than he looks, so it's just as possible the two are deceptive in appearance.
    Aleria Prysatya Meredi 
Queen of Retrozia and the elder half of the Meredi siblings. Her reputation for being calm and collected in most crises that would shake a weak-willed man is only matched by her cold pragmatism and obsession with getting in the last word. Her notable exploits include creating the 'bomber' dragon that has laid to waste hundreds of towns and villages important to Arzon, taking umbrage to her brother's use of underworld contacts and spies for information and trying to show her brother up when he asked her to share her research with his nation, leading to an arms war that preceded the Dragon War before it culminated in her attempting to show her might to Arzon in a poorly-disguised 'comeuppance' as a military display. This sparked the start of the Dragon War.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Zach's telling her off seems to make no difference towards her arrogance, but from that moment on she distinctly seems as if she's gradually stepping off her high horse. At the end she's seen working alongside her brother willingly, if awkwardly, helping to rebuild Arzon and Retrozia.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Played with. Her seizing the throne was in justified outrage that her birthright would be disallowed based solely on her gender; she's said to be an efficient, fairly capable ruler. It's just that she's so focused on getting the last word in with her brother that she simply won't back down. It takes a Rider verbally tearing her a new one to realise how much damage she was causing to her own citizens. So not outright malicious, just shortsighted and selfish. Eventually averted with wising up as a ruler, as stated in the epilogue.
    Andrin Onsatya Meredi 
High Prince of Arzon and the younger half of the Meredi siblings. Considerably more hotheaded and aggressive than his sister, though matched by his thirst for knowledge and information, and incredibly drive of competitiveness that makes him incredibly self-centred. His notable exploits include controlling the criminal underworld and making it his biggest spy network, being the more spoilt of the two, and getting competitive with the arms war that preceded the Dragon War before it culminated in him undermining her staged military display in a brilliant and equally underhanded move. This sparked the start of the Dragon War.
  • The Atoner: By the end of the war the prince is the more weary of the Meredi siblings and wants to end the war, considering the conflict too drawn out. He's the first to admit that his overreaction and subsequent selfish actions in response to his sister have caused too much damage, and that he feels guilty he hadn't thought of the consequences beforehand.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Prince Andrin does not consider his subjects too beneath him to communicate with, unlike his sister, and takes into consideration what Alice has to say on multiple occasions when she reprimands him for his hotheadedness.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: At the climax he acts as Jariina's navigator in the Ryveni starship, even sharing a little knowledge he's managed to glean off the black market about Ryveni technology. He comes up with using the starship as a shield due to its powerful energy force fields.
  • The Stoic: His slightly focused but otherwise blank expression stays mostly the same in public, which gives him a haughty prideful air.
    Viiya, Pyrel, Iden 
Three Riders who show up at the end of the story. They are part of the first batch to be sent for the Rider Re-Integration Joint Programme between Arzon, Retrozia and Eredan. Viiya has an undercut hairstyle and is the only girl in the trio, Pyrel is the tall man with the dreadlocks and Iden is the androgynous shorter teen.
  • Ambiguous Gender: What little screentime Iden gets is not enough to determine what gender Iden is. Viiya just says "Iden is Iden" and leaves it at that.
  • Genki Girl: Viiya is almost positively vibrating with joy at meeting the two Riders.
  • Hero-Worshipper: A trio of them, though it's implied that the rest of the batch of Riders are equally implicit - just not obviously so. Viiya does the lion's share of gushing over meeting Alice and Zach.
  • The Quiet One: Iden, who only expresses themself through body language when Viiya and Pyrel speak to Alice.
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