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Literature / The Four Horsemen Universe

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How Puny Humans evened the odds.
The Four Horsemen Universe is a Military Science Fiction Shared Universe set in a world dominated by Private Military Contractors, led by American authors Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey.

In the early 21nd century, First Contact didn't go so well for humans, at least initially. The MinSha glassed the Middle East in retaliation for terrorist attacks on alien visitors, and Earth turned out to have little of worth to the races of the Union, besides people. Even that was touch-and-go, as humans are possibly the least physically imposing spacefaring species in the known galaxy (except the Flatars), so when humans tried to break into the highly competitive mercenary business they proved little more than Cannon Fodder. Only four companies out of the first wave of 100 to leave Earth to take what became known as the Alpha Contracts actually returned home, obscenely wealthy by Earth standards but dragging many caskets behind them. By sheer coincidence these four companies, Cartwright's Cavaliers, Asbaran Solutions, the Golden Horde, and the Winged Hussars, all used horse cavalry in their insignia, and hence became known as "the Four Horsemen".

Then Dr. P. Mauser, an engineer at Mitsubishi (which later became known as Binnig through a merger), developed the CASPer, a weaponized steel shell that let humans take the galaxy by storm... or at least even the odds enough that battles with alien mercs weren't so one-sided anymore. The technology continued to improve, and a hundred years on, CASPers have become the preferred weapons among human mercs, and the mercs themselves are highly sought-after for wars of all kinds.

Books in the series:

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    The Revelations Cycle (Main Series) 
The first four books of the series form a single modified anthology, with each novel focusing on a single company after which the book is named, but serving an overall plot.
  1. Cartwright's Cavaliers (Wandrey, 2016): Bankrupted by his mother's financial shenanigans after the death of his father, Jim Cartwright, an overweight computer geek who flunked out of his mercenary aptitude tests, is forced to take control of the family company and rebuild it from the leavings of his forebears. Meanwhile, a major fluorine-11 find by an alien consortium attracts attention of the unfriendliest kind.
  2. Asbaran Solutions (Kennedy, 2017): A series of botched missions guarding a red diamond mine on the planet Moorhouse kills disinherited wastrel Nigel Sherazi's father and brother in quick succession and results in his sister being taken hostage. Sherazi must pull together whatever forces he can in a hurry to mount a rescue operation and regain the contract long enough to complete it.
  3. Winged Hussars (Wandrey, 2017): The Winged Hussars, the richest of Earth's mercenaries and the only human company to specialize in space combat, is under attack, and Commander Alexis Cromwell is forced to fight her way out of trap after trap in order to make it back to base.
  4. The Golden Horde (Kennedy, 2017): Following the attacks on the other three Horsemen, two things are clear to Golden Horde company president Sansar Enkh: that someone is trying to bring down Earth's mercenary industry, and that they're next. Her only choice is to try to spring the trap and unveil the attacker.

    The Omega War (Main Series) 
  • A Fiery Sunset (Kennedy and Wandrey, 2018)

While creating The Revelations Cycle, Wandrey and Kennedy solicited side stories from a number of authors. They got so many responses they ended up having to make three different anthologies.
  1. A Fistful of Credits: Stories from the Four Horsemen Universe (2017): Foreword by Charles E Gannon. Stories:
  2. For a Few Credits More: More Stories from the Four Horsemen Universe (2017): Foreword by David Weber. Stories:
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Merc: Even More Stories from the Four Horsemen Universe (2017): Foreword by David Drake. Stories:
  4. CASPer Alamo (2018): Duology of novellas by Eric S Brown and Jason Brannon



A Spin-Off series by Kevin Ikenberry starring Jessica Francis, a character who debuted in the short story "Stand on It".
  1. Peacemaker (2017): The Peacemakers Guild are the closest thing the nebulous and weak Union has to Space Police, ]enforcing its laws and mediating disputes. Jessica Francis is trying to become the first human to join the Peacemakers, but before she'll be allowed to, she'll have to defuse a potential planetary civil war.
  2. Honor the Threat (2018)

Standalone novels

  1. Assassin (Kacey Ezell, 2018)
  2. Sinclair's Scorpions (Paul Corcoran, 2018, unreleased)

Tropes in the Four Horsemen Universe:

  • Action Girl: A CASPer works equally well for either sex, so while it's not as common for human women to become mercs as men, they still appear widely (including most if not all of the Golden Horde's commanders, such as incumbent Sansar Enkh). A woman is as effective commanding a spaceship as a man, too, as Alexis Cromwell, commander of the Winged Hussars, attests.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Earth comes under alien military occupation at the end of The Golden Horde.
  • Anyone Can Die: Primary protagonists, especially commanders of the protagonist merc company, are usually pretty safe, but don't get too attached to other named characters: some of them will be killed, often when you least expect it.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: It's rare but not unheard-of for two human mercenary companies to be hired by opposing sides (one such incident happens in "Hero of Styx"). The Four Horsemen have a gentlemen's agreement not to take contracts where they'd possibly fight each other.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: The 'Verse uses an invented isotope of fluorine, fluorine-11 or F11 for short, as an Unobtainium to enable fusion reactors (and also to enable No Blood for Phlebotinum plots). The lightest known isotope of fluorine is fluorine-14, an atom with a half-life of 500 yoctosecondsnote ; its heavier isotopes are more stable rather than less with the most stable being fluorine-19. This is probably deliberate given the scientific rigor used everywhere else in the series.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Admiral Omega in Winged Hussars is a famed commander from a rarely seen species that practically invented the modern Space Navy, who wrote many of the tactical manuals that nearly every navy uses. The Hussars under the command of Alexis Cromwell ignore the manual and kill him by throwing an asteroid into his flagship at a measurable fraction pof the speed of light. Afterwards it's revealed that he's an Armchair Military admiral who learned everything secondhand and had never actually fought a battle before.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Asbaran Solutions. Nigel Sherazi retakes Moorhouse from the Blood Drinkers (wiping them out to a man) and completes its contract, sparing his company from bankruptcy and disgrace. However, they and the White Company have taken heavy casualties, and Nigel's sister Parisa is killed by her captors before she can be rescued.
    • Winged Hussars ends on a somewhat lighter note. Alexis Cromwell successfully rescues the entrapped Hussars Task Force Two, but Pegasus is badly damaged and suffers severe casualties to both crew and marines, and at least one of their trade secrets (Pegasus having hyperspace shunts) is now known to other mercs. Cromwell also decides it's not safe to take contracts for the foreseeable future and hunkers down at her secret base in the New Warsaw system.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Depik nervous system runs on dark energy, somehow. This is used as a handwave for their ability to turn invisible.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The galaxy is an anarcho-libertarian dystopia where government is weak and irrelevant, mercenary training and testing is part of basic education, war is profitable and constant, the rich are practically untouchable, and protagonists get to mount coups against city governments without consequence.
  • Blood Knight: Tortantulas love to fight, and being Giant Spiders with grasping hands and thorax-mounted eyes that give them incredible peripheral vision, are extremely good at it. They often pair up with Flatars, which ride saddle on the Tortantula into battle.
  • Blue Blood: The Sherazis trace their lineage back to a house of knights that served the Sassanid Empire before the rise of Islam.
  • Boring, but Practical: Mark 8 CASPers are the state of the art, but Mark 7s are still in common use and perfectly serviceable for companies that can't afford Mark 8s. They're also less cramped inside than the Mark 8.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Tortantulas can't lie due to being Literal-Minded, and as such can suffer Blunt Metaphors Trauma and sometimes need to rely on their Flatar partners to keep them out of trouble.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Depiks originated in the short story "Gilded Cage" by Kacey Ezell, and are brought into the main authors' storyline in The Golden Horde.
  • Career-Ending Injury:
    • The Winged Hussars have a Tortantula-Flatar pair, Oort and Jeejee, among their Space Marines. Jeejee explains to Alexis Cromwell that Oort lost part of a leg on a contract. It's not crippling but no Tortantula merc unit will hire a maimed one (probably because Tortantulas are Explosive Breeders and there's therefore no market pressure). Jeejee ran across her on a station afterwards and kept her from getting into the wrong prize-fighting ring; they joined the Hussars later.
    • Bjorn Tovesson III, the current commander of Bjorn's Berserkers, wanted to play pro football instead of entering the family business. Getting his arm bitten half off by a Kodiak bear on a vacation cost him the sports scholarships he was being scouted for.
  • Cowboy Episode: "The Last Guardsman" has a revolver-packing Bounty Hunter with a cowboy hat go on a hunt for an alien Serial Killer.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In Golden Horde, the ringleader of the plot to destroy the Four Horsemen is Peepo, a retired Veetanho merc whom everyone knows as the owner of the merc hangout Peepo's Pit on Karma Station. She isn't actually retired, and has been running a conspiracy within the Mercenary Guild to frame Earth's mercs, especially the Four Horsemen, for war crimes actually committed by her co-conspirators as a Pretext for War against humanity.
  • Family Business: Many human merc companies, especially the Four Horsemen, are family-owned, with leadership passing from parent to child.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: "Unto the Last—Stand Fast" is based on the Stand of the Swiss Guard, and doubles as a Whole-Plot Reference to Sabaton's song about the event, "The Last Stand".
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Ships enter hyperspace through stargates that dump them at fixed emergence points. More massive ships actually take less energy to move through hyperspace, so smaller ships often piggyback on them when they enter a stargate. Rarely, ships are equipped with hyperspace shunts that allow them to enter hyperspace without need of a stargate; the Winged Hussars flagship ECS Pegasus is one such vessel.
  • The Federation: There was at least one tighter-knit galactic government, called the Republic, in the last thousand years or so.
  • Feed It a Bomb: In "Surf and Turf" Bjorn kills the king crab by ramming an anti-armor missile down its throat and detonating it remotely. It costs him one arm from his CASPer as well as a piece of his own prosthetic arm.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: There are some laws of war in the setting, but the Union is more an idea and a guild system than an actual government and they're very poorly enforced. The most inviolate rule, the one that will guarantee retaliation if you're caught, is that you're not allowed to use Orbital Bombardment: you may only launch air attacks from below an arbitrary ten-mile limit. Besquith mercs are shown to have violated this rule in Asbaran Solutions, but the protagonists don't have enough evidence to get the Mercenary Guild's enforcement arm involved.
  • Four-Star Badass/Frontline General: It's very common for merc company commanders to take the field with their troops and kick tons of ass.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Vvremya" is Russian for "in time". The protagonists spend 97 years objective on a planet orbiting a black hole but only think they've been down there a few weeks.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Double Subverted with Tortantulas, a race of car-sized arachnids that are first introduced as Blood Knights in Cartwright's Cavaliers, known for loving to fight and eating their kills. In the next two books, though, there are Tortantula mercs in the supporting cast that often act as Comically Serious comic relief: as a race they are fairly Literal-Minded and so social interactions between them and mammals often take strange turns.
  • Geek Physiques: Jim Cartwright is a socially isolated computer nerd when he inherits control of Cartwright's Cavaliers. He's quite fat as a consequence of his sedentary lifestyle and inheriting a genetic predisposition to obesity from his mother's side of the family. His employees finally browbeat him into exercising regularly on grounds that high-g acceleration in space could actually kill him if he doesn't do more aerobics.
  • Gratuitous Latin: "Velut Luna" is Latin for "Like the Moon".
  • Grey Goo: The protagonist of "The Last Guardsman" is mortally wounded with a nanite-carrying bullet that eats him alive from the inside out.
  • Guy in Back: A Tortantula's Flatar partner acts somewhat like secondary armament on a warship, covering its six while the spider acts like a living tank, as well as helping the Tortantula to deal with personal interactions.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: The conclusion of "Angels and Aliens", sort of. Jim Hawkins, a Catholic chaplain, is held at gunpoint by a Tortantula and Flatar and reasons that, death being apparently inevitable, he'd rather spend his last moments praying. This actually interests the Literal-Minded Tortantula, who is curious to hear about Jesus. The Flatar is only interested in killing him, but merc Charlotte Wicza is faster and kills both aliens.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Raknars that Jim Cartwright accepts as partial payment on a contract are hundred-foot-tall robots designed by Precursors to kill canavars, genetically engineered monsters that devastated The Federation in a war ending in its collapse millennia before.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: A common form of alien in The 'Verse.
    • The Besquith are a man-sized wolf/wolverine/bear mashup with attitudes to match, and are the primary bad guys in the first two books.
    • Flatars resemble one-foot chipmunks.
    • Tortantulas are Giant Spiders with an extra ring of eyes around their thoraxes.
    • MinSha are man-sized praying mantises.
    • Oogar are giant purple bears.
    • Xiq'tal are giant crabs that carry weapons wired into their nervous system and are very effective at amphibious assaults. Their armor is resistant to antipersonnel weapons so human merc doctrine is to treat them as vehicles instead.
  • Interfaith Smoothie: "Unto the Last—Stand Fast" has a syncretic religion resulting from cultural exchange between Roman Catholic human colonists and Crystal Dragon Jesus Arritim colonists (they had inadvertently both colonized the same planet, fought over it, and then ended their war when they noticed the similarities in their religions). Both groups' home churches consider this faith heretical, and the Arritims' progenitors the Arezzo (same species, different church) are engaged in a crusade against it.
  • Ironic Name:
    • The Golden Horde is named after the 13th century Mongol khanate founded by Batu Khan, which invaded Eastern Europe from the Eurasian steppes under Uzbeg Khan. The Golden Horde company, however, are specialists in fortification and defense rather than offensive actions.
    • Many members of the Golden Horde are orphans adopted by the company, who all take the surname "Enkh", Mongolian for "peace". This is discussed when Dan Walker, a newcomer to the Horde, is informed that Sansar Enkh's given name means "outer space".
      Walker: I had heard her name meant peace, but I never believed it. It always seemed kind of ironic, you know? A merc, whose business is fighting, has a name like 'Peace'? I never knew she had chosen it, though.
      Mark Polanis: Nobody knows what her real name is, or what it was before she became a member of the Horde. She also took on the name 'Sansar' when she was adopted, too, which means, 'Outer Space'.
      Walker: So, the name of the leader of the Horde is 'Outer Space Peace'?
      Muunokhoi "Mun" Enkh: It is, and we bring it with us, wherever we go.
  • It's Raining Men: CASPers have jump jets that among other things let them do paratrooper attacks without needing actual parachutes.
  • Literal-Minded: Tortantulas. As such they don't understand humor or metaphors, can't lie, and are relatively easy to take advantage of. Part of the job of a Tortantula's Flatar partner is to keep the spider out of trouble off-duty.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: According to exposition there are a few thousand species in the Union. Of those, 37 species work as mercenaries and a few hundred more tend to hire them. The first two books of the main series alone name humans, Besquith, Veetanho, Zuul, MinSha, GenSha, Jivool, Flatars, Tortantulas, Jehas, Cochkala, Pendals, Duplato, and Fey. The short stories add Arezzo (and their subculture Arritim), K'Kng, Oogar, Depiks, Xiq'tal, and Avaka.
  • Loud of War: Jim Cartwright plays rock music on loudspeaker while piloting the raknar in Cartwright's Cavaliers, including "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool and Ray Manzarek's Carmina Burana.
  • Mini-Mecha: "CASPer" is an acronym that stands for "Combat Assault System, Personal". About eight feet tall and manned by a single crew member who has to take a nanite treatment to help heal from falls, it can equip an assortment of weapons including antipersonnel lasers, chainguns, MAC guns, and shoulder-mounted missile launchers. CASPers also have Jump Jet Packs that let them leap tall buildings in a single bound or make paradrops without needing parachutes. The big joke of the 'verse being, by alien standards CASPers only turn humans into heavy shock troops: they're still far from invulnerable, with enemy tanks being a particularly dire threat, and some aliens (notably Oogar) can fight a CASPer hand-to-hand and win.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • After Jim Cartwright takes over the Cavaliers, one of his new employees assumes he's gay because he's never dated any girls. Jim finally corrects him that he likes girls, "I just haven't found one that likes me back." (This is because he's severely overweight.)
    • In "Surf and Turf", Bjorn Tovesson takes cute waitress Talita's flirting with him to be a game, assuming she's a lesbian since he's repeatedly seen her tell amorous male customers that she doesn't like boys. After he comes back alive from a Xiq'tal attack, she plants one on him and finally explains that her flirting wasn't an act: "I don't like boys, but I do like men."
  • Neutron Bomb: Banshee bombs. Built by Besquith mercs, they're illegal due to being designed to be detonated at high altitude, as in above the legal 10-mile limit for air attacks. When detonated, they kill every living thing across a wide area; the Besquith themselves are more resistant than other species to the radioactive contamination they leave behind. The Blood Drinkers used them to take the planet Moorhouse, and a lucrative garrison contract, from Asbaran Solutions, but Nigel Sherazi can't prove it and so goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: A number of plots deal with fights over mines for rare mineral resources, ranging from uranium to red diamonds (used to back the value of the Union's currency) to the ultra-rare unobtainium fluorine-11 (a fuel used in fusion reactors).
  • Odd Friendship: On a species level between Tortantulas and Flatars. Flatar mercs will often ride Tortantula mercs into battle and act like a Guy in Back. The odd part is that, being two-foot-tall chipmunk-looking things, the Flatars look more like something the Giant Spider Tortantula would be having for dinner.
  • One-Product Planet: Entire species are often known as mercenary races, partly because only 37 of the thousands known work as mercs. Earth's government in particular is known to get most of its income from taxes on merc profits, in exchange for which it provides training and recruitment services in its schools.
  • Only in It for the Money: Played with a little. The mercs of the 'verse do indeed fight wars for the highest bidder but most have at least some professional standards (if mainly for practical reasons: e.g. killing surrendering soldiers, as many alien species do, means the other side is less likely to accept your surrender when the situation is reversed). Human merc units from impoverished countries also sometimes do public service for their nation, including the Golden Horde (Mongolia and Uzbekistan) and Kakata Korps (Liberia). Also, human mercs are sworn to help defend Earth if it comes under attack, as it does in the cliffhanger ending of The Golden Horde.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Exploited in the Golden Horde: since so many of their members are orphans adopted by the Enkh family, they use shortened forms of their given names for clarity's sake, e.g. referring to Private Muunokhoi Enkh as "Private Mun" instead of "Private Enkh".
  • Orbital Bombardment: One of the few hard-and-fast laws of war in the series is that this is illegal: you may only fire weapons at a planetary surface from ten miles' altitude or below. In Asbaran Solutions the protagonists discover that the Besquith have been covertly breaking this law: the Blood Drinkers took Moorhouse by using radiation bombs dropped from high altitude.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Downplayed. Religion itself isn't dead, but "Angels and Aliens" mentions that organized religion hasn't done well following First Contact. The viewpoint character is a scion of a mercenary family who became a Catholic priest and joins the Berserkers as a chaplain, to find that much of the membership are neo-pagans of various stripes.
  • Planet of Hats:
    • 37 species are known as primarily mercenary species, although it's a bit mixed (there are noncombatant members of all merc races, but the story is told from the perspective of humans who usually only interact with the mercs). It's inverted with humans, as most aliens know that most humans aren't mercs and therefore feel relatively free to (try to) take advantage of them in various ways.
    • The Depiks' hat is being Professional Killers, or "hunters" as they refer to themselves. This is a natural progression of their species' particular biological gifts, being small felinoids who can turn invisible.
  • Portal Network: Hyperspace travel works on a jumpgate system operated by the Cartography Guild, which picks you up at a gate, from whence you travel through hyperspace and then exit at a designated "emergence point" in your destination system. However, some ships, such as Pegasus, possess "hyperspace shunts" that let them enter hyperspace wherever they please (an advantage that the Winged Hussars go to great lengths to keep secret).
  • Powered Armor: The ubiquitous CASPers are Mini-Mecha, but "Angels and Aliens" introduces newfangled APEX armor for scouts to wear, which is lower-key but faster-moving than a traditional CASPer.
  • Pretext for War: In The Golden Horde, it's revealed that the attacks on the Four Horsemen have all been part of a conspiracy to frame them for violating the Fantastic Geneva Conventions as a pretext for invading Earth for its natural resources.
  • Private Military Contractors: The focus of the series.
  • Puny Earthlings: Of the 37 mercenary species, about the only one less imposing than an unarmored human is a Flatar. The first CASPers were constructed to even the odds.
  • Raised by Wolves: The Depik viewpoint character of "Lessons" is left to die in the wilderness as an infant and is taken in and raised by another intelligent (non-tool-using) species on the world, finally returning to her people as an adult and forming a tribe of her own.
  • Rags to Riches: Earth as a whole, at least by galactic standards. Poland sold off its entire strategic reserve of natural resources and its nuclear arsenal to fund the Winged Hussars for the Alpha Contracts, who are now richer than the GDP of entire Earth nation-states. The world government taxes mercenary profits to provide a living stipend to citizens.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Prices in spaceport cities on Earth are insane compared to elsewhere, with a night in a seedy motel costing several months' rent on the rest of the planet. Justified because Union credits are incredibly overvalued compared to indigenous Earth currency.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • In the backstory, the MinSha reacted to terrorist attacks on aliens by glassing much of the Middle East, including most of Iran (where the Asbaran family is from).
    • Nigel Asbaran versus the Besquith Blood Drinkers mercs in Asbaran Solutions. Justified: after they kill his father and brother and take his sister hostage, she strikes their base on the Besquith homeworld to gather intelligence, but also wipes out their home guard and nukes the place to get revenge. He then enlists the White Company to help him wipe out the rest of the Blood Drinkers on Moorhouse.
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: Besquith mersc are shown to frequently violate the setting's Fictional Geneva Conventions in such a way as to avoid getting caught. For example, mounting an Orbital Bombardment is illegal due to a law that says you can't use ordnance against a planet from more than ten miles up. The Besquith solution? Detonate a Neutron Bomb at high altitude and leave no witnesses.
  • Shout-Out: In Cartwright's Cavaliers, Jim Cartwright uses "Let's do this! LEEEEROOOOY.....JENKINS!" as a battle cry while piloting a Humongous Mecha.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: In-Universe example in Asbaran Solutions when the mercs complain that the Jeha engineers they've hired can't tell the difference between a tank and an armored personnel carrier.
  • Theme Naming: There's a lot of mercs in the Golden Horde with the surname Enkh. The progenitor of the Enkh line changed her name (Enkh, ironically enough, means "peace" in Mongolian) and the family frequently adopts orphans and raises them in the company.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: While defending the freighter Coronado from pirate boarders in Winged Hussars, Rick Culper is shot in the head with a laser at close range. Thanks to the ship's autodoc he survives, barely, though he suffers some long-term memory loss and damage to his amygdala that leaves his emotions almost nonexistent (which makes him literally fearless in combat).
  • 20 Minutes in the Future: By Word of God [1], First Contact happened between Earth and aliens in the 2020s. The series proper takes place in the 22nd century, per the blurbs on the Short Story collections.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: In theory there's a galactic Union that provides some measure of law and order, a successor state to The Federation which collapsed thousands of years ago. In practice the Union is little more than a weak guild system and wars over planets and resources are near-constant. In Winged Hussars Alexis once wryly remarks to herself that this nigh-on anarcho-libertarianism isn't the best form of government the Union could have picked, it's just the only one that works even this well.
  • Unobtainium: Fluorine-11 (usually just called F11), a fictionalnote  rare isotope of fluorine that is necessary for fusion reactors and therefore extremely valuable. It is only found amid supernova remnants, former gas giants whose atmosphere has blown away, and the accretion discs of black holes.
  • Uplifted Animal: Any species with the suffix "-Sha" in its name is the result of an uplifts.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: Twice in Asbaran Solutions, Nigel steals Blood Drinkers ships and uses them to get close enough to attack the enemy mercs on the ground.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Union credits are traded mainly in hard currency, which consists of standard sizes of red diamonds embedded in stackable plastic discs embossed with a face value calculated to be slightly higher than the market value of the diamond itself. Million-credit coins are mentioned, and the credit itself is worth a ridiculous amount compared to indigenous Earth currencies.
  • What's a Henway?: A variant in Asbaran Solutions when Sergeant Mason is paired with a New Meat private who gets bitten by a Flatar.
    Mason: You'll want to get that looked at. They've got some funky alien bacteria in their mouth you don't want in your system. It'll mutate and mess you up pretty bad. I've got antibiotics for it back at the hangar.
    Thunder: Do we have time? How long... how long have I got before I start turning into a... a whatever it is I'm going to turn into?
    Mason: Oh, don't be such a baby. It'll hurt so much you'll wish you were dead, but you're not going to turn into a werewolf or anything like that. You have to get bit by a dumfuk for that.
    Thunder: Wha... what's a dumfuk?
    Mason: You're a dumb fuck, now shut the hell up and guard the top of the ramp while I go find our target.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Unto the Last—Stand Fast" is a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart of the Stand of the Swiss Guard by way of Sabaton's song about the battle, "The Last Stand", even using lyrics from the chorus as a Trust Password.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Peepo by the end of The Golden Horde: though her attempts to destroy the Four Horsemen have largely failed in the short term, Cartwright's Cavaliers are still weakened from bankruptcy, she's framed Asbaran Solutions for using the very banshee bombs the Blood Drinkers attacked them with on Moorhouse (with Nigel Sherazi not having sufficient evidence to contest her claim), the Winged Hussars escaped her attacks but have gone into hiding, the Golden Horde are running for the stargate, and Earth itself is under siege by her.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: In "Vvremya", once they're told they're mining a planet in close orbit around a black hole, a Line in the Sand is drawn: those who don't want to take the risk of not being able to climb back out of the gravity well are allowed to stay behind in a shuttle stocked from the expedition supplies, to be picked up once the expedition has mined the valuable deposit of F11. The expedition leaders fail to account for Time Dilation, and while only a few weeks pass for the miners, on the shuttle 97 years go by and everyone aboard starves to death.