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They're not the heroes we wanted. They're just the ones we could find.
The Aurora Cycle is a series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, authors of The Illuminae Files. The first book, Aurora Rising, was published in 2019. Less than two months after the first book's release, it was announced that MGM Television had optioned the series for a TV adaptation. The second book, Aurora Burning, was published in 2020. The third and final book of the series, Aurora's End, was published in late 2021.
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The year is 2380. Tyler Jones, the star Alpha cadet of Aurora Academy, misses his graduation and the Draft that would have allowed him to pick out the best squadmembers because, unable to sleep the night before, he goes on a flight into the Fold and discovers the hulk of the legendary lost colony ship Hadfield, with one survivor among the cryo-frozen colonists aboard. As a result of his heroic rescue. Ty is stuck with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits for his squad, including his twin sister Scarlett and their childhood friend Cat Brannock, who turn down other offers to be on his team. They're joined by detached scientist Zila Madran, tech specialist with a chip on his shoulder Finian de Karran de Seel, and hot-headed warrior Kaliis Idraban Gilwraeth.

And that's not the newly-formed Aurora Legion Squad 312's biggest problem: When they're sent out on their first mission, an apparently mundane supply run, they quickly find that the girl out of time that Ty rescued, Aurora Jie-Lin "Auri" O'Malley, has stowed away on their ship. Because their real mission is protecting Auri from the sinister human military forces who are after her to silence her at all costs. Auri, you see, is not the same person she was when she went into stasis 220 years before, and has become the key to a war one million years in the making...

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Tropes present in this series:

  • Ace Pilot: The role of the Aces in Aurora Legion squads. Cat's nickname is "Zero" for the number of targets she missed in training.
  • Agony Beam: Saedii's favourite weapon is called an agonizer, which looks like a cross between a rifle and a crossbow and shoots coils of red crackling energy bands, which hook into the victim's neural network and painfully overload their nervous system, temporarily knocking them out from pain. Another kind of agony beam mentioned are "pain collars", which use nerve induction to create pain and are banned under the Madrid Conventions. The GIA use a pain collar on Tyler when they are trying to torture Auri's whereabouts out of him, with the pain Tyler feels described viscerally and in detail. He screams so hard that his vocal cords rupture, and he is left weakened and sore afterwards.
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  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played straight with "Magellan", Aurora's uniglass. It used to be Tyler's, until Scarlett downloaded a bootleg personality program into it from a shopping network. It came with a free handbag.
  • Alien Blood: Syldrathi bleed purple, Betraskans bleed pink, and gremps bleed magenta. Members of the Ra'haam gestalt bleed blue.
  • Alien Kudzu: The Ra'haam has supplanted all plant life on Octavia III's surface, and wishes to spread itself to all worlds.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Apparently a thing with Syldrathi warbreed women. The more Tyler shows his daring and badass side, the more Saedii becomes intrigued by him.
  • Alliterative Name: Jericho Jones, Scarlett and Tyler's late father.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Auri is overjoyed about a particularly cute pair of shoes Scarlett buys for her.
  • Anything That Moves: Fin expresses attraction to individuals of multiple genders and species. He eventually falls for Scarlett.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: After Tyler offers to give Saedii cover during a firefight, to give her a chance to escape, she kisses him on the cheek. Possibly intended to be a Motivational Kiss; possibly not.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Archon Caesan, a.k.a. the Starslayer, a mass murderer and Evil Overlord verging on Galactic Conqueror, is Kal's father.
  • The Assimilator: The Ra'haam is capable of infecting members of sapient species to become agents of itself, but only if those individuals stray onto one of the 22 planets it's incubating on. It wants to absorb everything else into its gestalt. In other words, they're biological versions of The Borg.
  • Bar Brawl: Ty, Auri, Kal, Scarlett and Zila get caught up in one on Sempiternity after a run-in with a group of Unbroken Syldrathi, made worse when an alert that Auri is now a wanted fugitive with a reward pops up.
  • The Baroness: Saedii, Kal's older sister, is an Unbroken Templar who tortures and murders people for fairly minor slights, or even for fun, and who fervently believes in both Archon Caersan and his mission.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Tyler spends much of the second half of the second book trapped in a detention cell with Saedii, Kal's older sister and an Unbroken Templar. They snark at each other a lot, but there is a clear undercurrent of attraction. In book 3 they have sex and Tyler discovers she's pulled to him, the same way Kal is to Auri.
  • Big Breast Pride: Scarlett has magnificent breasts, and is very fond of them.
  • The Big Guy: Tanks serve this role in Aurora Legion squads. Kal is Squad 312's, and as a member of the Syldrathi Warbreed Cabal, he's good at what he does.
  • Botanical Abomination: The Ra'haam, a thing that controls people by implanting plant-like growths in them, and wants to devour all life in the galaxy. And it's waking up from its million-year dormancy...
  • The Cavalry: After losing the Aurora Armada against the Ra'haam, Saedii comes in with the Syldrathi fleets to help Tyler.
  • Cast from Lifespan: For a Trigger, using the Weapon will kill you slowly, in fragments, with every use. Caersan has used it once, and it is noted that while one side of his face is normal, the other is deeply carved with lines like he is ancient.
  • Central Theme: Love doesn't just bring people together, it also guides them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's mentioned early on that part of the Octavia mission included sending chimps over as part of the biological research going on. The squad gets attacked by the Ra'haam-infested animals when they go to Octavia.
  • Cool Big Sis: Scarlett is Tyler's twin sister, elder by three minutes and 37.4 seconds, and she never lets him forget it. She eventually takes on this role with Auri and Zila as things progress, with shades of Team Mom.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Tyler Jones sees himself as having this, as his rescue of Auri led to him missing the Draft and getting stuck with a squad composed mostly of the rejects no other Alphas wanted.
  • Civil War: The Syldrathi are undergoing one between the faction who chose to make peace (Free Syldrathi) and the faction who didn't (The Unbroken).
  • The Clan: Betraskan society is divided into these. They tend to be very large.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The six streams of cadets and legionnaires of the Aurora Legion are denoted by different-coloured stripes on their blue-grey uniforms: blue for Alphas, yellow for Faces, white for Aces, purple for Gearheads, red for Tanks and green for Brains.
  • Command Roster: The initial team is a perfect fit.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Saedii is the daughter of Archon Caersan, a.k.a. The Starslayer. She is also an Unbroken Templar, one of the highest Unbroken ranks. It does not appear that she achieved her position through nepotism; she is a highly competent combatant, commander and tactician.
  • Dark Action Girl: Saedii wears black, is a very powerful and dangerous warrior, and cuts the thumbs off of her suitors if they are unable to best her in combat. She wears them as a necklace.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every main character has moments of snarkiness, but Scar (with her "scarcasm") and Fin take the prize for Most Sarcastic.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Saedii, although she doesn't defrost very far. She starts the second book willing to murder almost all of Squad 312, but by the end, she is an ally to Tyler, at least, who respects his bravery and tactical smarts and appears to feel some level of attraction to him.
    • In book 3, Love Redeems kicks in and she rushes to help him when Aurora Academy is set to make it's last stand.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • The Betraskans' colouration is completely greyscale.
    • In the Fold, everything is black-and-white.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Part of the Sempiternity heist involves Kal and Zila disguising themselves as a couple of fast-food delivery guys.
  • Demonic Possession: The Ra'haam infects people who encounter it on its incubation planets and takes them over. This happened to many of the Octavia colonists, including Auri's father and his co-worker Patrice, and it happens to Cat near the end of the first book. She makes them leave, knowing she's beyond help.
  • Dirty Coward: For all of his smug superiority, Eshvaren-given superpowers, grand fleets and terrifying reputation, the Starslayer is ultimately a huge coward. He didn't have the guts to use his power to destroy the Ra'haam, even though he was more than capable of doing so. Instead he used it to be a galactic version of The Bully and grind the non-warrior classes of the Syldrathi under his militaristic heel. He also comes across like a Psychopathic Manchild as he displays impulsive behaviour, a Never My Fault inability to own up to his mistakes and mannerisms more in line with an angry teen with too much power. He doesn't fight the Ra'haam until he is absolutely forced to and he doesn't grow out of his xenophobic behaviour until he meets his partially-Terran granddaughter.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: When Tyler and Saedii are trapped in the same detention cell, he briefly remembers sleeping with Cat. Saedii has telepathy from her Waywalker heritage, and is disgusted by his thoughts, calling him pathetic. Even after Tyler discovers her telepathy, he thinks about Saedii's attractiveness a few times, which she also notices.
  • Disabled Snarker: Fin has nerve damage, muscle weakness and impaired mobility, and wears an exosuit to help with movement. He hides his insecurities through snarkiness, with every other word out of his mouth being sarcastic.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After Saedii is tortured by the TDF, she reacts this way when Tyler tries to help her.
  • Doomed Hometown: Syldra, the homeworld of the Syldrathi, was destroyed a year before the series begins.
  • Dramatic Irony: In book 3 Caersan tells Kal "Your sister would never have shamed me so, to lie with a Terran maggot". In the very chapter before that Saedii has very passionate sex with the half-Terran Tyler.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Part of the squad's plan to steal the Eshvaren statue involves acquiring GIA uniforms, with their face-concealing helmets, for several members of the squad to wear.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Zila, when asked to lose the people tailing them, calmly asks the squad to secure their safety harnesses.
    The airvan screeches into Gamma Promenade in a spray of sparks, the turbines screaming like Rigellian opera singers. Choking black fumes are pouring out of the engine bay, several traffic cones are embedded in our ventilation intakes, and we’re trailing a large smoking banner that reads HAPPY 50TH LIFEDAY, FRUMPLE in Chellerian.
    Tyler: (muttered) Maker's breath, Zila.
    Kal: (respectfully) A formidable performance.
    Auri: (groaning) You should design roller coasters.
  • Dug Too Deep: The Octavia colonists encountered the hibernating Ra'haam during their geological excavations into the planet's mantle.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The squad goes through utter hell, but they get their happy endings. Cat is gone and Zila is separated from the team, but the former is now a willing and happy part of the reformed Ra'haam and Zila found true love.
  • Enemy Mine: Saedii teams up with Tyler towards the end of the second book, considering the Ra'haam too great a threat to ignore.
  • Enemy Within: Kal has something inside him that he calls this, and he struggles to hold back its bloodlust. In the second book, he reveals that it sounds like his father, Caersan.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Scarlett starts questioning her sexuality once she lays eyes on Saedii.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Zila favors gold hoop earrings, which she often changes to fit her mood or the mission.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Unbroken warriors' uniforms are black.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: The Fold, known as the Void to the Syldrathi. Its human name comes from the fact that it "folds" space to make distances much shorter.
  • Extra Eyes: Chellerians have four eyes.
  • Eye Colour Change:
    • Auri's right iris turns white when she first uses the telekinesis that comes with her Trigger powers.
    • Cat's eyes turning from brown to blue are the first visible sign that she's been infected by the Ra'haam pollen.
  • The Face: "Face" is the actual title of the diplomats who are members of the Aurora Legion. Scarlett is Squad 312's Face, and she's very good at reading and interacting with people. It is strongly implied in the second book that she actually has psychic powers due to being half-Syldrathi.
    Scarlett: (internally) Scarlett Isobel Jones is damn good at what she does. And what she does is People. [This man is] running on around four hours’ sleep. It’s been about six months since he was home, and he misses it. I can see one of his eyes is cybernetic, and from the blotching of veins on his nose, he likes a drink. Looking over his craggy face, his stance as he squares up to me, I can feel hostility. Disbelief. And a little bit of fear.
  • Faceless Goons: The soldiers of the Global Intelligence Agency wear armour and helmets that completely cover their bodies, which makes them intimidating and inhuman, especially as they're chasing our heroes. This also hides the physical signs of their possession by the Ra'haam.
  • Facial Markings: All Syldrathi have a tattoo on their forehead denoting which Cabal they're part of. The Warbreed Cabal's symbol is three crossed blades, while the Waywalker Cabal's symbol is a crying eye.
  • Fake Defector: During the heist on the World Ship, Cat plays this role as part of the plan, pretending to take up the offer from a squad of GIA agents who try to turn her.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Tyler does this with Kal when they sneak into Sempiternity's computer hub so Finian can install a leech when the two are nearly discovered by a computer tech.
  • Family Honour: Important to Betraskans as part of their clan system. Finian gets his cousin on Sempternity to help by offering to owe favours.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Ty studied famous generals like Sun Tzu, Hannibal, Napoleon, Eisenhower, Tankian, Giáp and Osweyo.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Kal is a practitioner of the Aen Suun (the Wave Way), a deadly Syldrathi martial art. His sister Saedii has also mastered it and is even deadlier with it than Kal, and their father, Caersan, taught them both.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Betraskan names are comprised of a given name, then two last names, the first denoting their immediate family and the second their clan, e.g. Finian de Karran de Seel and Danil de Verra de Stoy.
  • Fictional United Nations: The Aurora Legion is a joint venture between the humans, Betraskans and most recently Free Syldrathi that serves as a neutral mediating force.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the time they escape the World Ship, the members of Squad 312 have come to trust each other after the dangers they've gone through.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley spent 220 years in suspended animation aboard the Hadfield when it was lost in the Fold before Tyler rescues her.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The Eshvaren have been gone for a million years, but they left behind devices in the Fold that turned both Auri and Caersan into Triggers, the Weapon which Caersan used to destroy Syldra, as well as seemingly-decorative artifacts like the statue containing the map of the Ra'haam's presence.
  • Foe Romantic Subtext: Tyler and Saedii appear to be attracted to each other, despite falling somewhere between "active enemies" and "reluctant allies".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • First Auri, and then the other members of Squad 312, have dreams of blue snow falling on their homeworlds. The "snow" is actually Ra'haam pollen.
    • During the heist on the World Ship, Cat plays the role of Fake Defector by pretending to accept an offer to betray her teammates from some GIA agents. The agents are members of the Ra'haam gestalt. Guess what fate befalls Cat by the end of the first book?
    • The GIA claims to have "one thousand eyes". They meant that they can quite literally see through one thousand eyes. When she is infected by the Ra'haam, Cat notes that she can sense everything that the other entities in the Ra'haam gestalt can.
    • After the squad first meet Saedii and Kal warns them all not to let her get close, Tyler snarks, "If I have anything to say about it, the young lady in question will be kept at minimum safe distance from now on." Later in the book, Tyler is imprisoned in the same detention cell as Saedii, and during their escape, the two briefly end up in a compromising position. Minimum safe distance indeed.
    • Tyler and Scarlett's father used to say that they were almost telepathically close as kids and invented their own language. Their mom was a Syldrathi waywalker and one of their abilities is to read another Syldrathi's thoughts. The language they "invented" was just them speaking Syldrathi.
  • For Science!: Zila got reprimands for things like locking two classmates in a lab to test a serum she developed for a virus, and shooting another classmate repeatedly with a stun-gun. This seems to be her primary motive for a lot of things.
  • Fugitive Arc: Starting with their escape from the Bellerophon, Squad 312 is being chased by the human government, and possibly other governments, for their alleged crimes, while having to somehow save the Milky Way in the process.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: After Cat dies, the team consists of 3 girls and 3 guys.
  • Ghost Planet: Octavia III is covered in the unnatural flora of the Ra'haam, with every living thing on the planet now part of its gestalt, and the planet's one settlement now overgrown ruins. Additionally, the Eshvaren's unnamed homeworld is completely empty, covered in the dust of millennia, with such a thin atmosphere that winds of hundreds of kilometres per hour feel like a light breeze.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Or, rather, eye. Auri's white eye glows whenever her Eshvaren powers are active.
  • Good Bad Girl: Scarlett enjoys having sex, deliberately uses her attractiveness to manipulate people, is described as having slept with most of her Astrography class, and is also one of the kindest characters in the series, caring for her entire squad like they're family.
  • Good Luck Charm: Cat considers her stuffed toy dragon, Shamrock, a gift from her deceased mother, to be her lucky charm.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Auri says things like "biscuits" and "mothercustard" instead of real swearwords, to the puzzlement of others.
  • Government Conspiracy: It becomes clear by the end of the first book that the human military, and likely the government, is under the control of people infested with Ra'haam, who are carrying out its bidding.
  • Groin Attack: Saedii does this to Tyler, twice. It is not written as humorous; Tyler is on the verge of unconsciousness from pain, and suffers residual pain and bruising for some time afterwards.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: In the second book, it is revealed that Tyler's and Scarlett's mother was Waywalker Syldrathi.
    • Book three has Lae, Tyler and Saedii's daughter in the Bad Future.
  • Hate Sink: Caersan truly is a nauseating individual. A bully, an abusive father, an abusive husband, coward and manchild.
  • Hazmat Suit: The squad dons these when exploring Octavia III. Cat is infected by the Ra'haam when her suit is torn open during a fight with a monster chimp.
  • Heroic Willpower: Cat manages to hold the Ra'haam back for long enough to let the others escape Octavia.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: By the end of the first book, Squad 312 are fugitives from the human government, and likely have a bad rep with many other governments, but are the only ones who know of the threat of the Ra'haam.
  • Hive Mind: The Ra'haam, as it is indicated that all 22 planets where it's incubating are effectively the same entity, as are the people it controls. The Eshvaren intelligence in Auri outright calls it a gestalt.
  • Honey Trap: Scarlett sets up a double date with herself, Cat and two human security guards at the Bianchi Museum to knock them out and steal their uniforms for Ty and Kal to infiltrate the World Ship's computer hub.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Auri has telekenesis, some precognition and some telepathy as part of her Trigger powers but it takes some time to learn to control them. They are all significantly more powerful when actively controlled.
  • Humanoid Aliens: All sentient species in the galaxy are bipedal, carbon-based oxygen-breathers. This has affected religious beliefs in-universe, including the development of a religion called the Universal Faith with a god known as the Maker. In the second book, it is revealed that the Eshvaren created all sentient species as part of their war against the Ra'haam.
  • Human Popsicle: People above the age of 25 travel the Fold in suspended animation because traversing it conscious has deleterious effects on their brains. In fact, spending too much time in the Fold while conscious can negatively affect anyone.
  • Human Weapon: Auri has been transformed into the Trigger for a weapon the Eshvaren created to be used against the Ra'haam.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Tyler turned down Cat this way, and it's been something of a strain between them ever since.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Scarlett occasionally uses her "cleav" to get things she wants, including discounts on clothing.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: One of Tyler's reasons for turning Cat down was because that, as a future Squad Leader, if they're in the same squad he would be her superior officer.
  • Inconvenient Attraction: In the second half of the second book, Tyler finds his attraction to Saedii, Kal's older sister, to be incredibly inconvenient, given they are trapped on an enemy spaceship and Saedii is, at best, a reluctant ally. The feelings appear to be mutual.
  • Indestructible Edible: The shake-'n-heat ration packs. Flavours include Not Pork'n'Apple Casserole and Pie!TM, Just Like Fish Dumplings!TM, Beef "Stew"-n-MashTM and Just Like Real TacosTM. Magellan is unimpressed with them, advising Auri that the Not Pork'n'Apple Casserole and Pie!TM has neither pork nor apple in it, and that a meal like the Beef "Stew"-n-MashTM would be considered an act of war in some cultures. No mention is ever made of how they actually taste.
  • Interspecies Romance: One develops between Auri (human) and Kal (Syldrathi), beginning in the first book and continuing in the second. Also, Tyler and Scarlett's human father Jericho Jones had a relationship with a Syldrathi woman approximately nineteen years prior to the events of the trilogy, leading to their birth.
    • After the Ship Tease of the second book, Tyler and Saedii do indeed get together, birthing a daughter named Lae in at least one alternate timeline... and by the looks of it, the main timeline as well.
  • Irony: The series is dripping with it.
    • Saedii hates Terrans, Waywalkers and peace-seekers. Her be'shmai is half-Terran, half Syldrathi Waywalker and a peace-seeker. Futhermore, before they fall in love, a running gag is that she constantly knees Tyler in the balls when she's pissed off. She will later give birth to his daughter.
    • Nari Kim hates Betraskans with a passion and shoots Zila multiple times when they first meet in a timeloop. She founds Aurora Academy together with her wife, Zila and a Betraskan.
    • Caersan is disgusted that Kal would love a Terran and claims that his sister would never shame him so. In the previous chapter Saedii is getting it on with Tyler.
    • In an alternate future, Kal meets a Syldrathi girl called Lae. They get into an argument about family and Kal mentions that she has no idea what it means be part of a family like his. Lae's his niece.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Human ships are described as being of boxy designs that Kal finds rather ugly, preferring his own species' Shiny-Looking Spaceships.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The GIA personnel are referred to as "it" to emphasize how inhuman their full-body armour makes them. And thanks to the Ra'haam, they're not human anymore anyways.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: The gifts from Admiral Adams and Battle Leader de Stoy to the members of Squad 312 do not come with instructions and appear at first to just be nice trinkets. So far, three of the five gifts have proved to be more useful than first met the eye.
    • Tyler: black, heavy-soled boots. The heel contained a miniature EMP generator, which Tyler uses to escape with Saedii from their TDF cell.
    • Kal: an antique silver cigarillo or business card case. It intercepts a Kill shot from a disruptor pistol, saving Kal's life. Contained a note written in Fin's handwriting, reading "Tell her the truth", probably referring to Kal not telling Auri who his father is.
    • Scarlett: a chain necklace with a silver medallion, which reads "Go With Plan B" on one side and which has a diamond embedded on the other side. The message refers to Zila's plan to ram the Weapon with their spaceship. The diamond is actually an Eshvaren crystal. It is later used to get Scarlett, Finn, Zila and Nari Kim out of a timeloop.
    • Zila: gold hoop earrings with hawk charms. Any other use unknown as of the end of Aurora Burning.
    • Finian: a metal ballpoint pen. Scarlett uses it to save his life via a tracheotomy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Finian snarks at everyone and everything, but deep down he just wants to belong to a group, and he eventually finds it in Squad 312.
  • Last Kiss: At the end of the second book, Scarlett and Fin are about to kiss, before Fin realizes the significance of Scarlett gift from Admiral Adams.
  • Last of His Kind: The Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV is the last member of its species, having eaten all the others, and the pride of Casseldon Bianchi's menagerie. Until Auri destroys it.
  • The Leader: The members of the Aurora Academy's Alpha stream are trained to be this. Tyler was the top-scoring graduate in his year.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Scarlett's ex-boyfriend #34 was N1kk1 Gunzz, a drummer in a rock band.
  • Light Is Not Good: Princeps, the leader of the GIA agents chasing Auri and Squad 312, wears all white with a silver helmet.
  • Living MacGuffin: Auri is being hunted ruthlessly by the GIA and TDF, and Squad 312's real mission is to protect her from them.
  • Locked into Strangeness: The white streak in Auri's hair, and her right eye after it turns white, mark her as the Eshvaren's weapon.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Scarlett Jones has around 50 or so ex-boyfriends. Every one of them mentioned includes a pro and con, with the con indicated to be the reason she dumped the boy in question.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Weapon, created by the Eshvaren a million years earlier, has the ability to completely destroy stars and planets.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Auri's Trigger takes over and pops the Great Ultrasaur like a balloon.
  • MacGuffin: The Eshvaren statue that Auri brings them to Sempiternity to steal. The diamond embedded inside it contains a map of the Ra'haam's spread and current incubation planets.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Auri's skunk stripe and white eye mark her as being the Eshvaren's Trigger.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Betraskan families are extremely large. It's normal for people to have over one hundred siblings.
  • Mr. Exposition: Magellan, Auri's second-hand uniglass that Ty gave her with a quirky personality, pipes up with information on almost anything mentioned, often at inopportune times. The page-long interludes between chapters that describe the world are Magellan's "search results" for information about the world Auri is trying to learn... summarized by Magellan.
  • Mugged for Disguise: During the Sempiternity heist, two fast-food delivery boys are subjected to this by Kal and Zila.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Chellerians, Casseldon Bianchi's species, have four arms.
  • Mystical White Hair: Syldrathi all have silver hair.
  • Named After Their Planet: Syldrathi hail from Syldra, and Betraskans from Trask. To fit the scheme, humans are frequently referred to as "Terrans", and Earth as "Terra".
  • Negative Space Wedgie:
    • FoldStorms are one hazard of travelling in the Fold, and one such destroys the Hadfield as Tyler is rescuing Auri.
    • "Temporal storms" are mentioned as one reason to place a sector under Galactic Interdiction.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Auri regrets the fact that her last conversation with her father was her telling him how upset she was with him.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: There are dozens if not hundreds of sapient species in the galaxy. All of them are carbon-based, oxygen-breathing and bipedal; they are able to eat each others' foods, comprehend each others' languages, be infected by many of the same diseases, and at least some can interbreed. This is an intentional effect of the Eshvaren deliberately seeding the galaxy with proto-lifeforms in their own image.
  • No Gravity for You: Part of the Sempiternity heist involves deactivating the station's gravity.
  • Non-Action Guy: Fin has very fragile bones and has to wear a suit that helps him handle regular gravity due to an illness as a child, so he usually stays out of the front-line fighting. He does, however, happen to be a pretty good shot regardless.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Aurora Legion protocol. Tyler insists on this when Cat is infected by the Ra'haam, but she forces them to go without her because she knows she's a goner.
    • Subverted at the end of Aurora Burning, where Zila is forced to stay behind in the past to ensure the success of the mission.
  • Not Good with People: Finian would rather interact with technology than people.
  • Oh, My Gods!: In the future, people invoke the "Maker". Expressions like "Maker's Breath" or sometimes "Maker's Bits!" are heard when someone is especially irritated or upset.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: All but one of the chapters from Zila's POV in the first book, with the sole exception still only two pages. She gets a little more talkative in the second book, but her chapters still tend to be shorter than everyone else's.
  • One Steve Limit: Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley is rather bemused when she finds out that she's at the headquarters of the Aurora Legion, housing the Aurora Academy, named after the Aurora star system.
  • Only Known By Her Nickname: Cat Brannock isn't called "Catherine" very often, if at all.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Tyler does not curse and is all about clean living. In book 3, Auri and Kal meet an older Tyler from an alternate universe where the Ra'haam succeeded in their goal of conquest. That Tyler drinks and swears like a sailor.
  • Orwellian Retcon: The Octavia III colony was wiped from history, with the planet being listed as dangerous and off-limits, and historical records claiming the Hadfield was always headed to Lei Gong III, a completely different planet.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Syldrathi have drakkan, slender reptilian creatures with dark scales, bat-like wings and long serpentine tails topped with a stinger. They range from the size of a housecat to around twenty metres long.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Octavia colonists controlled by the Ra'haam have been dead for two hundred years, controlled by the unnatural plant growths on and in their bodies. The same applies for animals like the chimps.
  • The Paralyzer: The Aurora Legion is equipped with disruptor pistols, which are usually used to stun although can be set to kill.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Auri was upset with her father the last time they spoke because, after having headed off to Octavia by herself since her mother was bumped from the flight, he revealed he was now in a relationship with the woman who would have been her boss on Octavia.
  • Planet Terra: Earth is indeed called this, and humans are also frequently referred to as Terrans.
  • Portal Network: The Jump Gates are the only way in or out of the Fold. There are also the naturally-occurring FoldGates, which were the only way humans could access the Fold when they first discovered it. Human-built Jump Gates are titanium hexagons, while Syldrathi are teardrop-shaped and made of crystal.
  • Power Incontinence: Auri's Trigger powers in the first book, when she doesn't yet have control over them, burst out when she is unconscious or frightened.
  • Power-Strain Blackout: When Auri uses her Trigger powers, she usually passes out afterwards, until she learns better control over them midway through the second book. Also, inverted: in the first book, for some of her Trigger powers, she needs to be unconscious before the power takes over.
  • Precision F-Strike: Although there are other swear words in the first book, there is only a single f-bomb dropped, when Cat, infected by the Ra'haam and near death, begs Tyler to leave her behind on Octavia. It is noted earlier in the book that Tyler never swears, and indeed, this is the first and only time in the book that he says any swear words stronger than the occasional "damn".
    Tyler: I shouldn't have to remind you that I'm your superior officer. So if you're considering lying down here, if you even think of cashing out on this drop, I'm going to kick your ass so hard the lump in your throat will be my fucking heel, is that understood?
  • Precursors: The Eshvaren. Most species in the Milky Way don't believe they ever existed, except for the Syldrathi.
  • Preemptive Apology: Tyler does this to Kal before their Fake-Out Make-Out because Syldrathi view physical contact as being highly intimate.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: The Eshvaren remnant in Auri gives everyone in the squad dreams about the threat of the Ra'haam, most notably dreams of Ra'haam pollen falling on their homeworlds.
  • Psychic Link: Kal has a mild one with his sister Saedii, where if they are near each other, Saedii can sense where Kal is. Kal can also sense Saedii's location, though not as strongly or accurately.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Auri gets them when she uses her abilities as the Eshvaren's Trigger, especially when they take her over.
  • Psychic Powers: Species including the Syldrathi, the Ilesars and the Kelinrori have been recorded as possessing mental powers like telepathy, empathy and mild precognition. Auri, as the Eshvaren's Trigger, gains some precognition and powerful telekinesis. Scarlett, being half-Syldrathi, also has some empathy and telepathy; her twin brother Tyler does as well, although seemingly less strongly.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The Ra'haam.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Locations under Galactic Interdiction are deemed to be so dangerous that galactic law dictates any ship trespassing in an interdicted area be vapourized on sight.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Squad 312 is composed of a top-scoring Alpha whose missing of the Draft left him with the reject Legionnaires no other Alpha wanted; his twin sister, a cocky and sarcastic Face; Zila, a detached scientist described as a potential sociopath with excessive For Science! behaviour; Finian, a tech genius who has a chip on his shoulder and difficulties with teamwork; Kal, a warrior with anger management issues; and Cat, an Ace Pilot who has an unrequited crush on Tyler. And, of course, Auri, the Fish out of Temporal Water with strange abilities. All the Legionnaires are actually highly skilled in their fields, but their personalities don't mesh so well.
  • Really Gets Around: Scarlett has had at least fifty different boyfriends, and none of those relationships lasted longer than seven weeks.
  • Relationship Upgrade: It seems that every book has people deciding to get together.
    • The first book has Aurora and Kal.
    • The second book has Scarlett and Finian.
    • The third book has Saedii and Tyler.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Adams and Battle Leader de Stoy, two high-ranking officers in the Aurora Legion. They sent Auri with Squad 312, whose real mission turns out to be to protect her from the Earth authorities. In the second book, when Squad 312 is falsely accused of massacring the refugees at Sagan Station, Admiral Adams openly denounces them while secretly sending them a coded message of support.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In book 3, Caersan finally decides to act out of love. This leads him to sacrifice himself so Auri and his son can make it back to the normal timeline with the trigger.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Cat, in the second book, becomes one of the GIA agents chasing Squad 312, thanks to the Ra'haam infecting her.
  • The Reveal:
    • Book 1: The Trigger that Auri's alien side talks about isn't the statue, it's her.
    • Book 1: Princeps, the leader of the GIA agents and components of the Ra'haam gestalt chasing Auri, is what's left of her father.
    • Book 2: Kal is the Starslayer's son.
    • Book 2: The Starslayer is, like Auri, a Trigger.
    • B Ook 3: Zila is the true founder of the Aurora Academy. She is also the architect of the Ra'haam's defeat.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
    • Betraskans look like humans with completely white skin and hair and oversized eyes.
    • Syldrathi have pointy ears, silver hair and purple eyes, resulting in a rather elven appearance.
  • Running Gag: The various members of the squad yelling for Magellan, Auri's second-hand uniglass with an AI personality, to go on silent mode.
  • Send in the Search Team: After finding that Octavia III is one of the planets marked in red on the Eshvaren map, Squad 312 decides to go there, despite it being under interdiction, to investigate why the colony Auri knows was there has since been erased from historical record.
  • Shared Unusual Trait: Auri, after her right eye turns white. The Eshvaren statue also has a white right eye, indicating the connection between them. So does Archon Caersan, a.k.a. The Starslayer.
  • Ship Sinking: Tyler/Cat gets sunk for good in Book 3 when Tyler kills her Ra'haam body... with Saedii's knife.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Some Leg: Scarlett deliberately uses sex appeal to distract people several times. One example is during the bank infiltration on Emerald City where she wears skin-tight red PVC and a corset and pretends to be a dominatrix, seriously flustering both the bank manager and Kal, her extremely reluctant and equally scantily-clad "pet".
  • The Smart Guy: Aurora Legion squads have two: Gearheads focus on technology, while Brains focus on science and medical duties. Finian and Zila respectively serve these roles in Squad 312, and despite their personality flaws, are highly skilled in their respective fields.
  • Space Elves: The Syldrathi have pointy ears and silver hair, leading to Auri constantly calling Kal by the names of various elves from The Lord of the Rings. They also have a lifespan of several centuries.
  • Space Station:
    • The Aurora Legion's headquarters is located on one.
    • Finian was raised on a space station, due to its low gravity being beneficial to his medical condition.
    • Sempiternity, the World Ship, is made up of hundreds of ships connected together.
    • Emerald City is a station above a gas giant, named for the colour of the chlorine gas storm beneath it.
  • Splash of Color: The Eshvaren starmap is able to display the colour red despite the fact that it was in the Fold at the time.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: It doesn´t take long to realise it.
  • Star Killing: The leader of the Unbroken Syldrathi, Archon Caersan, is known as the "Starslayer" because he possesses a weapon used to turn the star Syldra orbited into a black hole, killing billions.
  • State Sec: Earth's Global Intelligence Agency, comprised of scary Faceless Goons hunting Auri. They are also part of the Ra'haam.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Scarlett is six foot tall, and considered exceptionally attractive. Saedii, Kal's older sister, is described as "two metres of Syldrathi warrior princess" and is absolutely gorgeous. To be clear, she is about 6 feet.
  • Stern Chase: For most of the first and second book, our heroes are pursued by the GIA and the TDF, under the aegis of agents of the Ra'haam, who want to capture Auri.
  • Suggestive Collision: While escaping from their detention cell in the Kusanagi, Saedii and Tyler are changing into marines' uniforms in a supply closet when the ship is attacked, and they fall prone, Saedii on top of Tyler. The way it is described makes it sound very suggestive, and it takes Saedii a while to get up, to Tyler's dismay.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Every chapter is narrated by one of the 7 main characters, with their name at the beginning.
  • Telekinesis: Generally considered to be fictional in-universe. However, Auri possesses it as part of her Trigger powers.
  • Tempting Fate: After discussing the chimpanzees sent to Octavia, Fin ultimately comes to the conclusion they don't exist... right before getting attacked by one.
  • They Know Too Much: The refugees at Sagan Station and the personnel of the Unbroken warship are killed because the Terran Defence Forces don't want anyone to know about Aurora O'Malley being in their custody. This nearly happens to Squad 312, but Zila points out that she's deduced this is likely to occur and persuades Tyler to lead an escape.
  • Thought-Controlled Power: When Auri gains full control over her Trigger powers in the second book, they are controlled solely by her immense psychic powers. If she focuses sufficently, she can split rivers, shatter boulders, fly on the wind and sense other people's feelings, intentions and powers. She sometimes uses Magical Gestures, but they don't seem to be strictly required.
  • Three-Act Structure: The first book. The first act ends with escaping from the Bellerophon, the second act ends with escaping from Sempiternity, and the third act ends with escaping Octavia.
  • Time Abyss: The Ra'haam is over a million years old at least. When Cat is infected by it, she feels its immense age.
  • Touched by Vorlons: During her time in the Fold, Auri was modified by a device left behind by the Eshvaren to become the Trigger for a Weapon they created to use against the Ra'haam.
  • Tragic Keepsake: After Cat's absorption into the Ra'haam collective, Fin makes sure the group holds onto her stuffed toy dragon, Shamrock. Even when urgently packing only the essentials for a quick getaway, he includes Shamrock.
  • Undercover as Lovers: In order to infiltrate the bank on Emerald City without looking suspicious, Tyler and Zila pretend to be a couple on a date. Auri acts as Tyler's wife happening across her cheating husband, instigating a loud and distracting argument.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When Squad 312 needs to steal an Eshvaren statue from crime lord Casseldon Bianchi on Sempiternity, the plan, which involves using the GIA agents who tried to turn Cat against the rest of the group and relies on them deliberately getting caught, is not explained until after it's been carried out, albeit with a few hiccups.
  • Unperson: The first sign that something is wrong comes when Auri finds that the Octavia colony and the Butler settlement have been wiped from the historical record, as were its residents, including her father.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Scarlett sometimes stores useful items in her bra, including money and the key to a spaceship.
  • Villainous Rescue: Squad 312 manages to evade the Bellerophon and land on Octavia III when Bianchi arrives in pursuit of them, wanting to retrieve his stolen property, resulting in a fight between the two forces that ends in the destruction of both, save for a shuttle from the Bellerophon carrying Princeps.
  • Viral Transformation: Beings infected with Ra'haam pollen gain flowers and plant life growing out of them.
  • The Virus: The Ra'haam propagates itself through its blue pollen, turning more beings into itself.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: The Terran government sends out alerts claiming that Auri is a dangerous fugitive and promising a reward.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Starslayer has one, the use of which turned the Syldrathi star into a black hole. It is the Weapon created by the Eshvaren to destroy the Ra'haam, for which Auri is a trigger.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: "Credits" are the main form of currency, which are contained on small credit chips. There is a brief explanation in the second book that credits are the de facto galactic currency, specifically created by a band of trade speculators (the Dominion) who recognised that there was no standard unit of trade and created its own, buying the currency of any known species and converting the currency to credits, taking a small fee for the trouble.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Zero, the spaceship left to Squad 312 by Admiral Adams and Battle Leader de Stoy, looks on the outside "like someone ripped apart six or seven vehicles, trawled through the wreckage to find all the least attractive parts, then welded them together." On the inside, it is sleek, high-tech, and designed perfectly for the squad right down to the galley containing their favourite drinks.
  • Wretched Hive: Sempiternity, the World Ship, is a massive space station frequented by pirates and run by a crime lord.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: One of Scarlett's many ex-boyfriends apparently called her by his mother's name once.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Within the Echo, a created memory of the Eshvaren's homeworld, Auri trains her Trigger powers for around six months, but only about twelve hours pass outside.
  • You're Not My Father: In the second book, the last thing that Kal says to Caersan.
    Caersan: So. You are still your mother's son.
    Kal: I am n-not yours.
  • Your Other Left: Scarlett has difficulty remembering which part of a ship is which. She calls the "stern" the "bow", and "port" becomes "starboard".


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