The many copies of Robert Johansson have spread out from Sol, exploring the universe and identifying habitable worlds for humanity. While a number of Bobs work on helping colonize the closest planets, most begin ranging farther and farther, not really interested in hanging around the "ephemerals." It's beginning to make the older generations of Bobs a bit worried.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian probe Medeiros is still out there, fortifying star systems in the name of a dead nation. Worse, the alien "Others" are slowly attacking every star within range, one by one, collecting all their resources—including any life that might have developed in the habitable zones. They have declared war on the rest of the universe, and the Bobs have no choice but to take up arms. However, the Others are technologically and numerically superior, so there is a very good chance that the first interplanetary war could end badly for the entire universe.
This book contains examples of:
- Apocalypse How: Class 6. Once the Others are done stripping a planet bare, all that's left is a brown-gray ball of dirt. They've done this to at least 5 different biospheres.
- Alien Abduction: Inverted. Phineas and Ferb abduct 20,000 citizens of Delta Pavonis 4 in the middle of the night to get them off-world before the Others arrive.
- Aliens Speaking English: Played with. The Others captured the Chinese Von Neumann probe and learned how to speak Mandarin from it.
- The Bobs continue their tradition of studying the language of aliens and building a translation program to communicate when they visit Delta Pavonis.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Do NOT hack one of Bobs. Or kill/plot to kill a large population. They will find you, and it will not end well.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Others are confused by the idea of cooperation. They will consume everything in their path, and there is nothing anyone can say that will convince them otherwise.
- Butt-Dialing Mordor: The Others learn of the Sol system from the Chinese probe and of Bill's skunkworks in Epsilon Eridani because he's been broadcasting his Subspace Ansible plans periodically to every star system in the neighborhood.
- Downer Ending: The Bobs have experienced their first real defeat at the hands of the Others and have been upgraded from 'food' to 'pests'. They were unable to stop the Others from consuming the system of Delta Pavonis and very nearly driving the Pav to extinction. On the home front, the Bobs have been hit hard by the inevitability of death for the ephemerals. Howard fell in love and lost to another ephemeral, his best friend who then died a few decades later. Bob 1 was driven out of Deltan society and forced to watch Archimedes grow old. As a Hope Spot, the Bobs were able to get in a few licks against; they have time and ideas for the war to come; they were able to save 20,000 Pavs from the coming extinction; they've already recruited Butterworth to become a new replicant; and Howard may still have a shot with his girl.
- Driven to Suicide: Homer can't live with what he was forced to do when VEHEMENT hacked him, so he deletes every backup copy of himself and blows himself up.
- Dyson Sphere: Gliese 877 plays host to a planet that is either entirely encased in metal or made of metal (the Bobs aren't able to conclusively rule out the latter). The Others are also in the process of encasing the star itself with a sphere.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The "Cupid Bugs" of Vulcan lay their eggs inside of other creatures. When the larvae hatch, they go straight for the heart.
- Guilt-Free Extermination War: The Others have no concept of mercy, peace, or individual worth. As far as they are concerned, everything exists to be consumed in service of the Prime. If there was another Prime, the two hives would war until only one remained. They are stripping every system in range their home system of metal and life to feed their industry and their people. Sol and the other human systems are in range, but the Others don't see the need to attack them ahead of schedule.
- Hive Mind: Variant. The Others are individually sentient, but they have no concept of individual worth. They all serve the sub-primes, who serve the Prime, and that's all there is to it.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The self-replicating ants that the Others use to strip-mine worlds.
- No Biochemical Barriers: The colonists of Vulcan and Romulus have no issues eating the local wildlife (and vice versa). "Bronto burgers" quickly became a favorite on Vulcan when introduced.
- Out-of-Character Alert: Riker finds it strange when Homer gets all serious and stops with all the jokes. He initially assumes it's because he's really involved with his space farming project. He eventually figures out that VEHEMENT has hacked Homer and has been carrying out sabotage of space-based structures using him. Riker and Charlie manage to clear out the virus and fix Homer, but he's badly shaken up by the And I Must Scream ordeal.
- Planet Looters: The Others strip-mine entire solar systems with the goal of harvesting enough metal to build a Dyson Sphere around their home system's star (and enough protein to feed their hive).
- The Right of a Superior Species: The Others have two ways of categorizing other species: prey (which they consume), and pests (which they also consume, but as a higher priority).
- Self-Destructing Security: After the Bobs encounter Medeiros in 82 Eridani and learn of the Others, they rig every probe and ship with SCUT communications or other advanced technology to explode if it even seems like the Bobs are going to lose control of it.
- Single-Biome Planet: Poseidon is not only completely submerged in water, but lacks any undersea mountains that come even close to sea level.