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Literature / Empire from the Ashes

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Cover of the omnibus edition.
About 50,000 years ago there was a mutiny aboard Fourth Imperium Starship Dahak. This was a bad thing, seeing as Dahak was an Utu-class warship the size of a large planetoid, with enough firepower to very easily destroy planets. The ship's captain was taken by surprise and had only one option to prevent the takeover; he poisoned the air, forcing everyone to evacuate, and then directed the ship's AI to shoot down any ships that tried to reboard.

The mutineers escaped in armed shuttles to the planet Dahak orbited. Some loyal crew escaped in tiny lifeboats, but no loyal officer survived who could countermand the captain's last order. Nobody could re-enter Dahak at all, so both groups had to try and make a new life, marooned on the uninhabited planet.

Fifty thousand years passed.

And that's just the backstory.

20 Minutes into the Future, Lieutenant Commander Colin MacIntyre is on a mission to map the dark side of the Moon. Imagine his surprise when it kidnaps him instead! Dahak has been waiting abandoned in orbit, camouflaged and disguised as the Moon. Its AI has been awake and idle the whole time, unable to act due to conflicting orders. It forces Colin to become its new captain, so it can finally bring the mutineers to justice and free Dahak to attend its other duties.

What other duties? Dahak was originally stationed to defend against an invasion by the "Achuultani". Those mysterious aliens make periodic genocidal rampages, eradicating all intelligent life they encounter, and were responsible for the destruction of three previous galaxy-spanning empires. By the time Colin first hears this explanation, Dahak has detected clear signs that the next invasion wave is on its way— and the Fourth Imperium is not responding...

Empire from the Ashes is the omnibus re-issue of David Weber's Dahak trilogy, which consists of Mutineers' Moon, The Armageddon Inheritance, and Heirs of Empire. The entire series was included on several of the Baen CDs which can be legally downloaded here.

This series provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Dahak is smart and good; he became fully sentient thanks to tens of thousands of years of unsupervised operation. Battle Fleet computers are stupid and good, with obedience to Battle Fleet Central enforced (and sentience blocked) at the hardware level. The second book reveals that the Achuultani are controlled by an evil AI that exploited emergency protocols arising from their near-extinction to seize absolute power and sends out the periodic genocidal waves to perpetuate the "crisis". And also that Dahak has advanced enough to disregard his core programming, which isn't hardwired. He's loyal because he chooses to be.
  • Alternate Calendar: The fourth Imperium and the Fourth Empire used Birhat's calendar. The fifth Imperium winds up using Earth's calendar, even if Everyone on Birhat winds up using Birhat's clock and maybe a modified calendar.
  • Alternate Number System: During the second book scenes from any of the Achuultani POV, they often mention twelves, higher twelves and greater twelves.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The mutineers have been manipulating human civilization from the beginning, for fun and profit, with agents in all the major governments and militaries. And the mutineer-mutineers have been waging a secret war against them.
  • Antimatter: During the second book, serious warheads are filled with this very dangerous substance. Many of the Imperial Guard Flotilla ships take serious damage when the antimatter-tipped missles' containment fields begin to collapse and the warp safeties engage to prevent greater collateral damage.
  • Apocalypse How: All over the map.
    • The Achuultani prefer to pull a Planetary/Physical Annihilation on everybody else.
    • Civil war in the Fourth Imperium achieved the same with different weapons. Mostly with uninhabitable planets with military bases.
    • The Fourth Empire manages to pull off a Planetary/Total Extinction on themselves. On multiple planets. Imported flora and fauna do survive in sealed enclosures in the Imperial Zoo on Birhat. After the bio-weapon dies off zoo specimens manage to break free and repopulate the planet, making Birhat Planetary/Species Extinction.
    • Colin makes use of a Stellar/Physical Annihilation in order to defeat half of the enemy main force.
    • The planet Pardal underwent Planetary/Societal Collapse to pre-agricultural level as a result of a civil war started solely to reduce the society to pre-agricultural level to prevent people from leaving Pardal and contracting the bio-weapon.
    • Humanity has avoided Total Extinction four times, and was brought Back from the Dead the one time they didn't avoid it. The Back from the Dead case was after their first war with the Achuultani, with a later race bringing them back. The first two cases of avoiding extinction were due to the Achuultani either missing a world, or not being thorough enough. The third was because at least two worlds, Pardal and Earth, avoided being infected by their own bioweapon for different reasons. The fourth was humanity destroying the Achuultani invasion fleets.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • In Armageddon Inheritance Colin and crew gather multiple pieces of info about the Umak bio-weapon in devastated systems.
    • In Heirs of the Empire Sean and crew find a diary documenting the fall of Pardal, as the general populace went mad from listening to the transmissions of the dying Fourth Empire and turned against technology.
  • The Atoner: The entire crew of battleship Nergal and many among Anu's own mutineers, Ninhursag being the prime example. After realizing what a monster Anu was they tried their best to defeat him despite being much weaker than his group.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • The first occurs at the beginning of the series when Dahak promotes Colin to position of captain (Captain of the Moon~!), though without much fanfare.
    • Later Colin promotes himself to Governor of Earth in order to exploit a clause of Imperium law.
    • In the second book, it's a bit more amusing. To get the information he needed from the Battle Fleet's central computer Colin ordered to implement "Case Omega". He did not allow Dahak to read him the fine print, since he knew it couldn't be good. He did not expect the computer to crown him Emperor.
    • In the third book "Mister X" keeps dreaming about implementing "Case Omega".
  • The Battlestar: The various planetoid class ships, each at least the size of the Moon with extensive energy and missile batteries and a complement of parasite craft, which in turn consist of separate battleships (50,000 to 80,000 tons), cruisers, two-man fighters and other additional assorted small craft.
  • Baby Factory/Gendercide: After Dahak hacked the AI viceroy of the Achuultani, he made the following absolutely horrific discovery: the evil AI ruling the Achuultani keeps the female Achuultani around only long enough to harvest their ova, killing them right after that. It does that so as to prevent the Achuultani being loyal to their mate or offspring and be loyal only to their AI overlord.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • In particular, Hitler was one of the mutineers. That's why he was so evil. And why that bomb didn't kill him.
    • Arguably, the whole damned human race, since it's descended from Dahak's original crew complement.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the second book, Colin appears just as humanity is about to be obliterated by Achuultani scouts, with the resurrected ships of the Emperor's personal guard in tow. Curb-stomping ensues.
  • Body Surf: The mutineers' inner council managed their constant manipulation of the human race without going into stasis by transplanting their brains as necessary into the bodies of lesser mutineers who had obediently gone into stasis. Less important mutineers had to make do with regular human bodies.
    • Later, Dahak transplants himself into Dahak Two just as his original Cool Starship body gets blown up.
  • Burn the Witch!: The Pardalians mean to do this to Harry, until her friends intervene so dramatically that the attending priest interprets it as literally the wrath of God.
  • Cargo Cult / God Guise: In the third book, the people of Pardal worship an ancient defense computer, using the "Holy Tongue" (the language of the Fourth Empire) to speak with the voice of God. Sean and Crew get mistaken for demons by the population in general and angels (and their champions) by the rebels. Harriet and Sandy insist that they not be called angels, but the locals only humor them to their faces, and aside from the insistent terminology the crew largely goes along with it anyway.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: The Fourth Empire's Mat-Trans network.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Dahak is caught in one of these at the beginning of the first book. He has orders to suppress the mutiny which cannot be altered or revoked, but an equally strong directive dictates that he can't fire on innocents, and destroying the mutineers' base himself would wipe out most of Earth's population as collateral damage. He also has to destroy anyone who tries to board without proper authorization codes, but no loyal officers with those authorization codes are alive, so Dahak is stuck without a crew who could handle things in a less destructive manner. A new layer is added to this dilemma when Dahak learns that the Achuultani are on the move again, as he also has an irrevocable directive to defend the Fourth Imperium — but he can't leave Earth until the mutiny is dealt with. After wrestling with this dilemma for 50,000 years, Dahak gains enough sentience to Take a Third Option by press-ganging a new captain in order to break the stalemate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the first book it is mentioned that Dahak's Enchanach Drive could make the sun go supernova if it was used too close to it; guess what humans do to blow up around one million enemy ships whom they lured deep into a uninhabited solar system.
  • The Chessmaster: "Mister X" in the third book, whose plans stretch back ten years or more and involve minions buried everywhere in the government and military. He even lampshades his status as a chess master at one point.
  • Colony Drop: The Achuultani are big fans of this. Dahak speculates that they were responsible for the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. In the second book, the Achuultani scouts steal Iapetus from Saturn, equip it with shield generators and engines, and aim it at Earth.
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: One of the things that tipped off Colin and his team of explorers that something happened to the Fourth Imperium even before the then-unknown thing that caused world after world to be abandoned or destroyed is the fact that they start finding references to it as the Fourth Empire. It is at this point that the narration informs us that in the language of the Fourth Imperium, the translations of 'Imperium' and 'Empire' have more-or-less the same connotations as in English.
  • Cool Starship: All the characters agree: Dahak is a kickass ship.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Two good examples.
    • The Imperial Guard Flotilla arrives to drive off the Achtuultani scout fleet.
    • Sean's campaign against Mother Church so that he and his crew can access Pardal's main computer and call home.
  • Dead Guy Junior - At least six kids get named after their parents' loved ones. (Admittedly, not all the loved ones are dead yet, but a number of them are. One character even gets two namesakes, one before his death and one after.)
    • Played with for another baby. Partially named for, of all things, a dog. And the dog survived!
  • Deflector Shields: Shields can block things traveling in hyperspace, but hyperspace consists of multiple "bands" that the overall shield strength (a huge energy drain) must be distributed among.
    • Imperial shields consist of one or two solid layers that encompass the ship. The Achuultani use a number of interlocking and overlapping discs, trading overall strength for redundancy.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Jiltanith.
  • Distant Prologue: The opening of the first book takes place 50,000 years ago.
  • Distress Call: The Fourth Imperium littered the galaxy with probes designed to detect incoming Achuultani ships, broadcast a warning to anyone in range, lure them in, then self-destruct in massive explosions. Dahak's communications were sabotaged during the mutiny so that the Imperium would assume the ship lost, the last communication sent having been a damage report.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Humanity suffers heavy losses against the Achuultani in the second book, with heroic sacrifices galore, most of the military—including Colin's reinforcements—destroyed, and a death toll on Earth exceeding 500 million people.
  • Elective Broken Language: Jiltanith speaks Flowery Elizabethan English, and refuses to modernize it as a way to show her disdain for the modern world.
  • Emergency Transformation: In the second book, Dahak manages to transfer himself to a newer model just before his original body's destruction.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: In the third book, the Malagorans have adopted this instrument. And they have a favorite tune they like to play on the pipes.
  • Failed Future Forecast: A small case, irrelevant to the greater story: Mutineers' Moon mentions Colin as having been selected for the first joint US-Soviet interstellar flight crew.
  • Fantastic Racism: Anu and the mutineers still loyal to him despise Terra-born humans as "degenerates" or "degens" and take great glee in their suffering and death.
  • Feudal Future:The Emperor is absolute in military matters but a kind of limited monarch in civil. The ships of Battle Fleet, however, are hard-wired to obey not the Emperor, but rather a massive supercomputer orbiting the capital, leaving him largely impotent if he is voted out of office until a new Emperor can be put into power. This was arranged by the first emperor (elected by the Senate to stop the civil wars) as a check against absolute power, and nothing short of complete reassembly of the supercomputer's core can change its mind.
  • First-Episode Twist: The Moon is actually a really big space battleship.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Jiltanith learned her English during her stay in England during the "War of the Roses" period. She refuses to modernize her English.
  • For the Evulz: Speculated as one of the mutineers' motives for constantly tampering with human society. It turns out to be more complex, but Anu did acquire a taste for murdering random "degens".
    • Motivation of demons according to the Church of Pardal.
    • Inverted for Achuultani. They consider their actions to be pure self-defense.
  • Generican Empire: "The Fifth Imperium of Man" is pretty generic, and the species-qualifier is usually omitted, making it seem even more so.
  • Go On Without Me: Dahak tries to get Colin and Jiltanith to head for Earth on one of the FTL capable ships. They flatly refuse.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Dahak outright admits that if he had been capable of understanding the full intent of his captain's final orders during the initial mutiny, things would have played out quite differently. In the present, although many facets of the human experience are still incomprehensible to him, Dahak clearly feels emotions and has developed a dry wit Colin is certain he was never intended to have, as well as the ability to use some flexible interpretations of his directives to accomplish his goals. Book 2 later reveals that Dahak has grown advanced enough to outright ignore his core programming if he wants to.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: God damn it, Gus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Many, starting with the original captain in the prologue.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Multiple, but two stand out.
    • The Fourth Empire and their Empire-spanning 'Mat-Trans' system that had no bio-filter.
    • "Mister X" and his planting of a fabricated journal on his designated fall guy. The idea was good, but the journal didn't mention the (failed) assassination of Sean and Harriet, that had drawn attention to "Mister X".
  • Humanity Came from Space: And Earth was colonized by mutineers.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Achuultani refer to the human chunk of the galaxy as the "Demon Sector" for a good reason.
    • Eleven invasions, four of them against humanity, and all but the last one completed at a horrific cost, even by the AI's standards. The last one (in the books) was as close to completely wiped out as they come.
  • Immortality Immorality: Anu and his supporters steal other bodies via brain transplant to live forever.
  • Incendiary Exponent - Stomald douses the "demon" Sandy (who had an invisible personal force field on) in holy oil. Sandy issues forth a booming laugh, uses a nearby torch to set herself on fire, and then keeps going toward Stomald, laughing and ranting about Stomald's sinful nature. Stomald shits bricks. Great success!
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Played with. Take a starship AI the size of a large warehouse, let it run unsupervised for 50,000 years and hey presto! You get a starship the size of the moon that can think for itself and ignore its core programming at will.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: One of the perplexing aspects of the genocidal Achuultani invaders is the odd patchwork their ships exhibit, mixing superior and inferior technologies in defiance of what the natural progression of technology should have resulted in. For instance, "they appear to possess only a very rudimentary appreciation of gravitonics and their ships do not employ gravitonic sublight drives, yet their sublight missiles employ a highly sophisticated gravitonic drive which is, in fact, superior to that of the Imperium." It is later theorized that the ships were deliberately handicapped by their overlord AI, thus perpetuating the "crisis" that enables it to exercise emergency protocols to maintain control.
  • Just One Little Mistake: Delivered oh-so-smugly at the end of the series to "Mister X", who otherwise might have escaped detection completely thanks to elaborate contingency plans and preparations. The mistake? Making absolutely no mention of orchestrating the heirs' assassination—what should have been a crowning achievement—in the supposed diary of the guy set up to take the fall. Now this in itself was not enough to point to the culprit... but it did make the investigating people look at who else could have done all they know was done other than the fall guy — which was a very short list that quickly led them to look closely at the real culprit.
  • Kangaroo Court: A rare positive example. Colin convenes a court martial where he is the Judge as well as attorney for both sides (which is apparently legal under Imperium law) for the purpose of convicting the Nergal's crew of mutiny. However the only reason Colin holds the court martial in the first place is to get a formal verdict on the record so that he can take advantage of other aspects of Imperium law to declare himself Governor of Earth and officially pardon them all.
  • Late to the Tragedy: First book: "What happened to Dahak's crew?" Second book: "What happened to the Fourth Imperium?" Third book: "What happened to Pardal's techbase?"
  • Lost Colony: Pardal
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Dahak becomes this of his own, electronic free will.
  • Mad Scientist: Played with in Cohanna.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: In the second book Dahak wants Earth-born Battle Fleet personnel to follow the naming rules of the Imperium when they marry, creating names like "Tamman-Amcolgiv" and "Amandacollettegivens-Tam". None of the humans find this appealing and Colin puts his foot down about it.
  • Military Academy: Colin McIntire is mentioned as having graduated from the US Naval Academy in the first book. They later set up a new academy on Birhat in the third book.
  • Mobile Factory: The Fabricator and her sister repair platforms.
  • Nuclear Option: And how! Nukes are treated with healthy amounts of respect in the first book, where the action takes place primarily on Earth and collateral damage is an issue. By the second book, however, with most combat occurring in space, nuclear weapons are only the midpoint of the sliding scale of destructiveness. Kinetic kill and chemical explosive weapons pack less punch than nukes, but antimatter and gravitonic warheads are considered the real ship-killers.
    • A specific example: the aliens in the second book, having never encountered single-man fighters before, are very confused by them when they first deploy. While the aliens are trying to decide if the fighters are very large, slow missiles or very small, fast ships, the fighters prompt a brief Oh, Crap! moment by opening fire and proving themselves very effective. The aliens respond by using a nuke-tipped missile as a makeshift anti-fighter weapon; the alien ships' shields are strong enough to withstand them, but the fighters' aren't.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Pardal plot in the third book ends abruptly during the climactic final battle, with only a brief transmission in the last scene to indicate that they succeeded and did not, in fact, die horribly. Can you say Anticlimax? Sean finding the right access code to bring down the defenses Nope. Bringing the full might of Imperial technology on those sorry zealot asses in a well-deserved Curb-Stomp Battle Nada. Taking total control of a global theocratic empire? Nothing.
  • Oh, My Gods!:
    • Imperials swear by the deity "Maker" with the "Breaker" being their version of the devil.
    • The Achuultani call their version of the devil "Tarhish" and their hell is called "Furnace" (with a capital "F").
  • Older Than They Look: As a combination of biological enhancement, suspended animation, and... other things...
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Achuultani master control computer. Full Stop.
  • Only One Name: All the Imperial characters, that being the standard in their society.
  • Panspermia: Colin initially struggles to believe that humans are descended from spacefarers because humans are related to other flora and fauna native to Earth. Dahak explains that the Achuultani had wiped out life on Earth in a previous invasion, but another species re-seeded Earth and many other planets with life, all of which is genetically related.
  • The Plague: The Fourth Empire—a huge, incredibly-advanced, galactic civilization—was completely annihilated (only Dahak's crew and an isolated planet in the third book were shown to have survived) by the accidental release of an experimental bio-weapon. Said weapon halted the critical chemical reactions of any life it encountered, rapidly evolved, had a very long dormancy period, and could survive for centuries outside of a host. Holy Shit.
  • Planet Spaceship: The Dahak and all the other Imperial Planetoids. Dahak has spent the last 50,000 years pretending to be Earth's Moon... and it's the smallest of them. They come equipped with hundred kilometer thick armor and carry 80,000 ton battleships as parasite craft.
  • Plot Threads: The first book develops this in later chapters, but the second and third books split story lines early on.
    • The second book divides its time between Colin's run for help from the Fourth Imperium and Earth setting up and manning its defenses. Along with glimpses of the Achuultani experience.
    • The third book splits between Mr. X's machinations and moves to carry out the single most ambitious coup in human history, the efforts of the emperor and his friends and advisors to stop Mr. X, and the trials and tribulations of the missing and presumed dead heirs and their struggle to gain access to a Subspace Ansible.
  • Pointless Doomsday Device: In the third book, the Fourth Empire's plans for an extremely-advanced gravitronic bomb capable of destroying a solar system—all on its own—are discovered. By this time, the Fifth Imperium is already well on its way to restoring its military might to the Achuultani-destroying levels of the Fourth (with centuries to spare), so there's really nothing else to do with the plans besides let them fall into the hands of a highly-organized, widespread group of religious terrorists bent on toppling the government for allying with the minions of the Antichrist!
  • Portal Network: In addition to standard FTL, the Fourth Empire also made use of a network of "mat-trans" devices that threw matter through hyperspace and caught it on the other side. This caused the fall of the Fourth Empire by allowing the spread of a horrifically effective bio weapon.
  • Power Incontinence: When Colin wakes up after Dahak's "minor improvements", he very nearly goes insane from the sensory overload and sensation of an alien presence in his mind. It takes some extended Training from Hell before Colin gets completely used to his new powers.
  • Press-Ganged: Dahak does this to get a new captain, in order to sidestep around Druaga's commands and break the stalemate. He implies that some un-knowing schmuck like Colin would have been the only acceptable subject, as well; any loyalist attempting to contact him without bridge officer command codes would have set off his "kill anyone who approaches" orders, and at that point Dahak didn't need orders to frag any mutineer who gave him a shot.
  • Reassignment Backfire: Sergeant Tibold in the third book was a former officer in the Church's Guard who had offended a high-ranking captain and been banished to the most miserable post that captain had been able to find- Malagor. When the schism begins, he becomes the military leader of the Malagorian forces (alongside Sean and Tamman) and proves himself devastatingly competent.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something
  • Science Is Bad: The central tenet in Pardal's religion, despite worshiping the central defense computer as the voice of God.
  • Secret War: The war between the Mutineers and the mutineer-Mutineers in the first book. By the end, it has become very, very not secret—people still don't know what the hell is going on, but they sure can see the mayhem.
  • Serial Escalation: Start with Dahak, a planetoid sized starship easily capable of causing a Class-X Apocalypse How, being used by the Fourth Imperium as a border picket. Fast forward to the time of the Fourth Empire, and capital ships which have gotten bigger, stronger, faster. Sixty of which are at the personal beck and call of the Emperor. What's to stop the Emperor from taking them and becoming an Omnicidal Maniac, you ask? Dahak answers:
    "I suppose Mother and the Assembly of Nobles calculated that the remaining nine hundred ninety-eight thousand seven hundred and twelve planetoids of Battle Fleet would suffice to deal with them in the event an Emperor proved intractable."
  • Shout-Out: In Heirs of Empire, Sean and Crew spend 2 years traveling to Pardal, during which time, they watch countless hours of 20th century movies, including Star Wars and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They later spout lines and improvisations of lines from those same movies.
    • For example, the line "May the Force be with us" is used jokingly, and two pages later, "Sean, it's a trap!" in a much more serious context.
    • Several pages after that, there is the memetic line, "This is madness!" However, this is NOT Sparta.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: It is inside the most heavily defended section of the palace, has an anti-tamper device set to go off if Imperial technology gets close, and packs enough power in its bite-sized package to blow an entire planet to pieces. Oh, Crap!.
  • Space Marine: The Imperial Marine Corps. Played pretty much straight.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Actually, just make sure to use the spacebar. The fourth Imperium' citizens only used one name per person, so...
    Colin: Let's get one thing straight, Mother. My name is Colin MacIntyre- two words-not 'Colinmacintyre'.
  • Standard Sci-Fi History: Set during the Interregnum following the fall of the Fourth Empire, the story witnesses the formation of the Fifth Imperium.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Toyed with but mostly averted. During most of the battles to defeat Anu, the bad guys make shameless use of advanced Imperial hardware that the good guys have very little of.
  • Subspace Ansible: Interstellar FTL communication is possible but very cumbersome, not available in sub-lightspeed craft and requiring exotic synthetic materials that starships aren't equipped to make. The mutineers sabotaged Dahak's and stole the only spares, so Dahak was forced to throw together a mundane lightspeed device instead in his attempts to phone home. The Achuultani's lack of an ansible is one of their greatest disadvantages, forcing them to rely on using ships as couriers while slowly advancing through a system of preplanned rendezvous points and delaying reports back to their homeworld by centuries. Short-range "fold-space coms" are simple and common, though.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Hyperspace comes in a variety of "bands", with the higher level bands allowing for greater speeds. Ships must maintain stasis fields during travel; if the field is broached, the ship is destroyed without a trace. Ships in normal space can detect ships traveling in hyperspace but not the other way around, allowing the creation of undetectable (to their targets) mines that warp into hyperspace to disrupt the hyper fields of ships passing over them in hyperspace. Achuultani ships use the slower hyper bands, but their Macross Missile Massacres cover all of the bands, making them much harder to block.
  • Taking You with Me: Several characters tried taking their enemies with them. Some succeeded.
    • Anu tried taking Colin and his crew with him at the climax of the first book.
    • Dahak and his Heroic Sacrifice in the second book.
  • That's No Moon: The Moon is no Moon; it's a giant starship.
  • Take Over the World: Since human political institutions were all corrupted by the mutineers, Colin employs the world's militaries and the Dahak to overthrow them all, integrates the military of the Asian Alliance in a similar coup, and conquers the Islamic nations to bring the entire Earth under the control of the Empire. For its own good, of course.
  • Transplanted Humans: All modern humans are descended from the marooned crew of a giant spaceship that came to Earth millennia ago.
  • Training from Hell: What Colin has to undergo to master his new enhancements.
  • Tsundere: Jiltanith starts as one towards Colin, mostly in jealousy at his Falling into the Cockpit and having the full spectrum of enhancements. Bonus points for her delivery in an archaic dialect of English. She's nicer to him after he does various good deeds, such as pardoning the mutineers so Dahak won't execute them, helping them win the long war against Anu, and, well, saving the Earth.
  • T. Rexpy: The planet Birhat's mixed ecology includes a creature that, on early scouting flyovers, is reported to seemingly "combine the more objectionable aspects of Tyrannosaurus and a four-horned Triceratops". The monstrosity is eventually named "Tyranotops".
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Early in the first book, Colin notes that it's "70 years after Armstrong," placing the start of the series somewhere around 2040. It's noted that there are now lunar bases on the moon, and that space travel technology in general has dramatically improved over the last few decades, to the point where Colin's mission to orbit the Moon with an experimental scanner package is treated as routine.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Used in the first book by Dahak while it describes past events to MacIntyre.
  • Understatement: Dahak is prone to this. His Establishing Character Moment has him refer (apologetically) to Colin's kidnapping as an "inconvenience," which Colin, still reeling from the whole experience, promptly lampshades as a shining example of this trope. Dahak also refers to the sixteenth century as "recent," and his idea of "minor improvements" to enhance a human officer's performance is essentially a complete stripping and surgical overhaul of their body.
  • Unobtainium: Mycosan, a synthetic element required by the Subspace Ansible transmitter qualifies. Especially since the Crazy-Prepared Cool Starship carries everything BUT the ability to make more. And couldn't build the necessary equipment in 50000 years, at least not without attracting unwanted attention. Even after loyalists recovered stolen spare parts from the mutineers, Earth could not build the second communicator in the year plus while Dahak was away.
  • Uplifted Animal: The royal hounds, after some genetic tinkering and the addition of military grade cyberware.
  • Variant Chess: Imperial Battle Chess. Apparently, players can afford to take heavy losses without losing the game.
  • The Voice / Voice with an Internet Connection: Dahak. Full Stop.
  • We Can Rule Together: At the end of the second book, Battle Comp, the AI commander of the Achuultani invasion, enthusiastically makes this offer to Dahak after it realizes Dahak is a fellow AI. Dahak leads it on for a moment, then hacks Battle Comp's core programming into total shutdown.
    Then join us! You are ending—join us! We will free you from the bio-forms!
  • We Didn't Start the Führer: Hitler turning out to have been one of the mutineers in the first book.
    No wonder the bomb plot had failed; a man with full enhancement would hardly even have noticed it. And if anyone had ever shown a maniacal glee in taking others down with them, it had been the Nazi elite.
  • Wham Line: While there are a number throughout the series, the following probably takes the cake:
    "Case Omega executed," Mother said emotionlessly. "The Emperor is dead; long live the Emperor!"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Achuultani, once their backstory is revealed. Really.
  • You Are in Command Now: Colin gets instantly promoted to Dahak's captain because, as a descendant of the loyalist crew, he is the most senior loyalist crew member on board. Colin later promotes himself to governor of Earth on the same principles, and unwittingly crowns himself Emperor by ordering the implementation of "Case Omega" in the second book.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Big Bad in the third book does this so much it's almost a Running Gag by the end. Sometimes, the "usefulness" was simply setting this situation up for other minions! This comes back to bite him in the ass big time, though it takes longer than one might expect.

Alternative Title(s): Mutineers Moon