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"The Hunter had a clear shot and took it. Then it took a second. Then a third, and a fourth, and though every single one was on target, Jenkins just kept going, apparently completely impervious to impacts that would have pulped any other species."

The Jenkinsverse is the shared setting for several related series of "Humanity, Fuck Yeah!" Web Original fictions, hosted on r/HFY. Named for the human deuteragonist of "The Kevin Jenkins Experience", it is a space opera detailing the events surrounding humanity's first contact with alien life, and the discovery that we are, relative to everything out there, total badasses.

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By the standards of all nonhuman civilisations, the planet Earth is an incredibly dangerous and difficult place to live, belonging to a class of planets known colloquially as "Deathworlds." Characterized as they are by high gravity, extreme weather, deadly predators, horrific diseases and other violently dangerous phenomena, it has been an article of common knowledge among the interstellar powers that it is not possible for intelligent civilizations to evolve on Deathworlds, and they are largely ignored.

The existence of the human race, therefore, comes as something of a shock. Humanity's evolutionary heritage means that the average Homo Sapiens is faster, stronger, tougher and more agile than the citizens of any spacefaring culture, not to mention (usually) more intelligent.

The setting is open for anybody to write in, with canon status being as much a function of popularity as Word of God. Notable entries include:

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The Jenkinsverse contains examples of...

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. No one has figured out how to make an AI yet, and the only way that works is by doing a brain upload. This succeeds... to a point. Without the biological impulses telling it to keep living, the uploaded mind will eventually shut down. The Igreans and the copy of Ava get around this in their own ways- the Igreans by sponging off the survival instincts of the races in whose implants they live in, and Ava's copy by being born of the raw, pure, undiluted survival instinct of a Deathworlder.
  • Achilles' Heel: Human brains are especially vulnerable to Nervejam attacks, being able to feel the pain from their detonations at ranges where aliens don't notice it. As such they are one of the most reliable ways for aliens to fight and win against humans, especially since their relative toughness doesn't matter.
  • Action Girl:
    • Jen Delaney's life on Earth was that of a hopeless nobody, stuck in a dead-end I.T. job, whose only track record of romantic success was a single ill-advised drunken fumble at the office Christmas party. Being abducted by aliens seems to have agreed with her, as she's since blossomed into a self-described Space-Babe and Pirate Queen, has bested assassin robots and heavily-armed alien mercenaries in combat and rigged up traps which caused serious problems for a Russian Spetsnaz team.
    • Xiù meanwhile was an aspiring Kung-Fu Movie actress back on Earth, and her much-practised martial arts skills have come in handy more than once. She's by no means a warrior though - She may excel at wreaking havoc on even the Hunters, but she's a peaceful soul by nature.
    • On Earth, Allison Buehler was a barista and mechanic who worked off her job-related stress down at the gun range. Post-abduction, she's a sassy, confident sharpshooter who perhaps derives a bit too much enjoyment from being one of the dreaded "deathworlders."
  • A Death in the Limelight: A Wounded Rabbit in the Xiù Chang series addresses the fate of Triymin, the hunters' slave who delivered the ultimatum. Turns out nobody wanted anything to do with her after that, and as she spent nearly her whole life as a slave of the hunters, she was almost incapable of doing anything unless ordered to. She ends up being taken in by Xiù briefly, before performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save Xiù.
  • Adipose Rex: King Carl of Carltopia.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Shorty after "Dude" was adopted, his new "owner" Vtv tried to feed him an assortment of alien foods. When it was discovered that "Dude" would eat a lettuce-like plant called Cqcq (literally the third item shoved in Dude's face), he promptly named him Cqcq'trtr. Roughly: Lettuce-eater. Everyone except Vtv thinks it's a stupid name, although they avoid saying so to the kid's face.
  • Admiring the Abomination: the chief scientist of the Hunters and the Alpha of Alphas both reluctantly admit that humans are incredible while in private, though for different reasons.
  • Adult Fear: Xiù is an attractive young woman who goes missing while walking home alone one night. Her parents, not knowing that she was snatched by alien scientists, are very soon beside themselves with worry.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • After "Dude" gets a universal translator, Xkkrk is surprised that he'd nicknamed her family back when they couldn't communicate. When she asked what he'd named her, he was too abashed to tell her. "Mama Giraffe." At that point, just "Mama"
    • On the meta level, the protagonist of Humans Don't Make Good Pets is popularly known as "Dude" because we don't know what his real name is.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Xiù crawls through a Hunter ship's air vents, specifically comparing it to Alien. It's also noted that the main reason that this works is because Hunters are much bigger than humans, so it takes them a while to consider the possibility of someone hiding in the (comparatively) small vents.
  • Alien Abduction: The Corti do this to all pre-FTL species so as to learn everything they need to sell advanced pharmaceuticals, cybernetic implants and other wonders to them. Most of the human protagonists in the JVerse were abductees at some point... and they've been doing this for a long time. The first one was a soldier of the Roman Empire, and a Corti probe encountered a human back in the stone age (though this one left him alone).
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated:
    • Amir claims this is averted, and that other species' cultures aren't as rich and varied as Earth's. However, it's also implied he hadn't been looking very hard, since he was trying to make a point that Humans Are Special. Xiù notes that Gaoians have a rich culture, but as she spent most of her time there learning the language she never got past their version of Sesame Street.
    • Inverted with the Gaoians, many of whom have picked up a liking for Buddhism and the teachings of Zen.
    • Also averted with the Gaoians, who are not a Planet of Hats. Some of those who are getting too enthusiastic about humanity are shunned by traditionalists.
  • Alien Kudzu: Inverted, of course. See Apocalypse How, below.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause:
    • The Dominion has the Office for the Preservation of Indigenous Species. Given that life forms which have not yet developed warp travel are legally considered to be non-sentient indigenous fauna rather than sapient life, the "preservation" in this case is treated more like animal conservation. In practice, the Office has practically zero power to prevent interference, and the only thing stopping aliens from meddling in the affairs of pre-Contact species is that typically the "primitives" have nothing that an interstellar civilization might want. Nevertheless, the Dominion does monitor upcoming young civilizations and reserve their home system and any nearby star systems for their future expansion and use. Averted in the case of the Hunters, who have no problem with raiding and hunting on pre-Contact worlds.
    • Really averted with the Hierarchy. They will deliberately seek out uncontacted worlds and try to meddle with their development so that they won't pose a threat. In cases of low-class worlds, this means "make them more docile and stop that silly religion stuff." In case of Deathworld civilizations, it's "Make them kill themselves off."
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel:
    • Or, rather, the gun: black powder weaponry is too heavy and recoils too hard for aliens to use effectively: They were never able to develop a version that could fire accurately which wouldn't also harm the weapon's operator. For this reason, only humans have invented ballistic weaponry, firearms and effective defences against firearms.
    • The Corti skipped over nuclear fission technology pretty quickly; they did some basic experiments, but decided it was too dangerous to use ethically. This was before they bred their morality out; once they were past that point, they already had better technology anyway. Other races were presumably the same. This means humans are the only ones with access to nuclear weapons.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: Or more accurately, they datamine the Internet.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Corti were abducting humans for a long time. Apparently the first human abductee in history was from the Roman Empire, and the first time an alien met a human was back when humanity was still located entirely in Africa. Subverted when Julian, Allison, and Xiú visit a Deathworld and find intelligent life in a pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer state.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Hierarchy.
  • Anyone Can Die: Terri Boone, Trycrur (sort of), Margerita, Hrbrd, Treoffa, Bekmer, "Mama Giraffe" Xkkrk, Sara Tisdale, Amir, Legsy, Mwrmwrwk, Roy Vinther, the vast majority of the Guvnuragnaguvendrugun, Dr. Anees Hussein, Bedu, Dr. Michael Ericson, Ayma, Vemet, several billion Gaoians, and Rebar ...So far.
  • Apocalypse How: As of chapter 18 of the main series, Cimbrean is in the midst of a Biosphere Extinction due to the trace amounts of life in Jen Delaney's poop. The colonists have no choice but to attempt a full terraforming of the planet if it is to be habitable at all in the future, but that means making it another deathworld.
  • Artifact Title: While the name of the overall 'verse is "The Jenkinsverse," Kevin Jenkins doesn't actually show up all that much. He does so more in the original part of the Deathworlders story, but is relegated to a few cameos later on as the focus shifts more towards Gao, Cimbrean, the SOR, the Triple of Xiu, Julian, and Alison, and the Ten'gwek.
  • Artificial Gravity: Discovered, and then exploited to create variable-gravity gyms and training facilities, as well as the rather more mundane use of making the surface gravity on Ceres and for the inhabitants of Folctha feel more like home.
  • Asteroid Miners: The Hephaestus LLC is a consortium of large corporations who take advantage of the sudden availability of alien engine technology to get in on the vast mineral wealth of the asteroid belt first. Asteroid miners are safety-conscious professionals who spend more time checking that their spacesuits are actually fit for purpose than they do mining.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Aliens generally don't have a grasp of tactics more advanced than a frontal assault, with the occasional use of cover. They don't even understand basic flanking until humans teach them.
  • Author Tract: In "The Kevin Jenkins Experience," Kevin goes on a long rant about how stupid religion is. Hambone would end up including a warning-slash-apology in his foreword to the first chapter of the story.
  • Ax-Crazy: Cameron White.
    • Also, Bill Briggs-Davies.
  • Badass Boast: More of a Badass Statement of Fact for Kirk when he says, of the human who has him by the throat and has already broken his arm and who physically outmatches him in every conceivable way "I'll try to leave him alive." He does.
    • Adam, when some random drunk picks a fight and tries to stab him in a bar. “Cabron, I have literally scraped bigger men than you off my boot.”
  • Badass Crew: The Spaceborne Operations Regiment (SOR).
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Allison and Julian. Both are hugely attracted to each other but neither know how to show it in a healthy way. Allison's approach is aggressive flirting with a touch of mockery, which makes Julian feel like he's being toyed with and just makes him angry. Their relationship improves dramatically once they actually start talking with one another.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Bozo is a big, goofy and well-behaved eternal puppy - albeit an enormous puppy - who is always happy and considers everyone a Friend. That is until Briggs, a Cruezzir powered psychopath, tries to kill Julian and Bozo rips out her throat. Up to that point humans on full-fat Cruezzir had proven all but unstoppable.
  • Big Eater: Humans need an astronomical amount of calories compared to most other races, to the point of seriously threatening shipboard supplies.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: The SOR's regimental mascot, "Bozo." Described thus: "[A] mutt, combining all the important features of a mastiff, a Staffordshire terrier, several breeds of 'big, scary dog,' an Irish Wolfhound, a Great Dane and an M1A2 Abrams. His paws were as big as saucepan lids and he looked strong enough to pull a wagon."
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology:
    • The Hunters view all other intelligent life as prey, and define the world in purely hierarchical terms: prey at the bottom, then the different social ranks of Hunter - Omega, Beta, Alpha and so on - and finally up to their undisputed leader and ruler, the Alpha-of-Alphas. Hunters do not have personal names and communicate purely through direct communication of their state of mind via cybernetic implants.
    • Humans are a downplayed version. Since most aliens come from herd species (or at least herbivores), they have vastly different instincts. One human single-handedly terrorizes a space station because the aliens don't really understand how to deal with a predator. Jen has to teach them basic things like "keep your eyes open and cover each other."
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Some species have sexual dimorphism and live birth. Others lay eggs. The Corti have long since moved over to artificial gestation, and Hunter reproduction revolves around spawning pools, slain prey and the self-destruction of an individual Hunter.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: A fair amount of humanity's supposed strangeness comes from the completely-literal translations that seem to be the norm, especially regarding obscenity. Many aliens are rather confused when angry humans intersperse their speech with references to copulation, for example.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Hunters again. Within their system of morality, symbolically devouring the future of another species by consuming their young females is a good deed, while the existence of another species besides themselves which the "prey" fear - namely, Humanity - is a tremendous evil. Jenkins almost calls the trope by name when discussing the Hunters' morality:
    Jenkins: You know how most people see the world in black, white and shades of grey? Well, the Hunters see it in purple, orange and shades of fucking tartan.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Dude's initial attempts to prepare a meal using Dizi rats result in a Vomit Indiscretion Shot when discovered by his "owners," and for good reason.
  • Body Snatcher: The Hierarchy.
  • Boring, but Practical: Humans spend some time trying to come up with an alternative to guns, since they are too powerful and liable to blast holes in the weak alien ships even when you don't want them to. They come up with a number of designs, and consider remaking the kinetic pulse rifle from the ground up. In the end, they just change up the ammo they use; alien infantry gets birdshot, bigger things get buckshot and the occasional slug.
    • Human toughness and strength also counts, as they can accomplish things that other aliens would require complicated (and traceable) machines for. For instance, one human manages to raid a military base and get away with a number of advanced technologies just by grabbing them and running away. The aliens aren't prepared because they would expect a wouldbe thief to bring drones and a getaway vehicle, which they do have countermeasures for. The idea that a potential thief could run twenty miles without dying from exhaustion is just unbelievable.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. While unlimited ammo is one one of the primary advantages of kinetic pulse weaponry, human guns with their superior stopping power are prone to running out of bullets. Adam spends one firefight in chapter 22 desperately trying to keep his buddies supplied with ammo, and the main selling point of the GR-1d gauss rifle is its incredible magazine size.
    • Toyed With: WERBS - Weaponized Einstein-Rosen Bridge System, a minigun firing a warehouse of bullets into a jump-portal anomaly discovered mathematically, Watson controlled targetting and no expectancy of defence allows "PAIN TO THE SWARM!" Explosions and radiation in abundance.
  • Brain Uploading: The Hierarchy do this, with their numbered agents routinely archiving copies of their mind-state in case their mission should go wrong. Their old bodies are still around- they're the Hunters.
  • Break the Badass: Captain Owen Powell is a veteran special forces officer and one of the most no-nonsense, tough characters in the story. Witnessing Sara Tisdale's death Leaves him with a case of PTSD, and it takes one of his subordinates telling him off to make him finally relent and seek counselling.
  • Brick Joke: Dude lets the other members of his unit think his name is "Human" during his tour of duty in the Celzi-Dominion War. This causes a rather amusing exchange when he and a squadmate finally encounter another of our species.
  • Broken Pedestal: Kirk confesses this in regards to Kevin Jenkins, expressing his disappointment that the human who inspired him to do something with his life turned out to be kind of a selfish jerk.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: As Kevin explains in the first chapter of Deathworlders, planets are rated on a more-or-less decimal scale — with 1 being a "Garden of Eden" literally any lifeform could thrive on without issue, and a 5 or 6 being galactic baseline. A 10 is an inhospitable Death World. Earth is a 12.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Allison and Julian. Described by their crewmate as "the craziest fucking badasses I've ever met", bond over their shared love of Disney movies.
  • Camp Gay: Nofl, a Corti who lives on Cimbrean, acts like this. When someone called him out on it, he admits freely that yes, Corti can't be gay or camp, but he likes acting that way and has fun doing it.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Given that Julian spent six years alone on the most dangerous planet in the known galaxy, his completely ineptitude with women in general and Allison in particular is forgivable. For her part, Allison is also guilty of this towards Julian.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Following the reverse-engineering of alien thrusters and forcefield technology, it becomes so incredibly cheap to get into orbit that the Hephaestus LLC successfully launch a greater tonnage of material into space in two years than was managed by the entire NASA space program, and for much cheaper.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Casual, but slow and fraught with danger. Even the fastest ships in the galaxy can take weeks to travel between civilized worlds, and must stick to "lanes" cleared of interstellar dust and gas in order to travel safely at high speed. Predation by Space Pirates and the Hunters is a constant threat. Played straight with wormhole drives, which are instantaneous, but require beacons at the endpoints.
  • Catchphrase: The Hunters have "Meat to the maw!"
  • Characterization Marches On: Initially, Gaoians are portrayed (in Xiu's story) as being tougher than Corti, but no match for some of the larger and stronger (non-deathworld) races. By chapter 40, at least some of them are capable of fighting hand-to-hand (and winning) with humans, and gunpowder weapons are seen used multiple times by Gaoians.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: More than a few aliens have been bewildered at how frequently human tirades are peppered with in mentions of copulation.
  • Colony Drop: 65 million years ago, the Igraens destroyed the V'Straki empire by dropping asteroids on every known colony, including their homeworld, Earth.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Humans compared to every other species, both tactically and strategically. Dude manages to turn a major rout into a victory with some absolutely basic tactics. While some of his tricks (such as Dressing as the Enemy) might be considered war crimes, he manages to clear out an entire base by himself just by averting Mook Chivalry. Likewise, the reason the battle had been going so poorly for his side in the first place was because the Celzi Alliance had discovered they could lie to the enemy, baiting them into a massive ambush. Sun Tzu said "all warfare is deception," but to aliens warfare just means running straight at the other guy and shooting.
  • Crapsack World: The major political powers are a hidebound corrupt bureaucracy and an alliance of military expansionists, both controlled by impersonal, cruel corporations that treat their employees as expendable and have perpetuated a long and grinding war for profit. These corporations are in turn ruled from behind the scenes by the Hierarchy. Meanwhile, the Hunters treat other sapient beings as prey and sport, interstellar civilisations inevitably fall into decline and go extinct, and every sapient life form other than mankind that ever evolved on a deathworld has nuked itself into extinction.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: In chapter 41, there is a Corti that was shunted off to the side when he professed his belief that cybernetic implants were holding the Corti back from their true potential. He's suddenly very popular once the humans make their pronouncement about the Hierarchy and Corti implants are hijacked to kidnap a human ambassador on their doorstep, seeming like a visionary.
  • Culture Clash: Even the species that are cooperative with humans often have a few stark differences in culture that cause friction. Gaoians see a certain amount of male-on-male violence resulting in disfiguring scars as completely normal, and their clan-based structure and breeding customs steer uncomfortably close to race realism. Meanwhile the Corti government has a caste system that, among other things, determines who is allowed to reproduce, which several human characters express misgivings about.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Humanity enters the galactic spotlight when Kevin Jenkins single-handedly dismantles a party of Hunters, considered the bogeymen of the stars, with minimal injury to himself. This prompts the Hunters to launch a publicly broadcasted raid on Earth to repair their reputation, but they only succeed in getting mulched by a hockey team and providing humanity with its first taste of alien technology to reverse-engineer.
  • Cycle of Revenge: "Dude" killed Xiavo, leading Valur to swear vengeance on Dude. Valur kills Mama, leading Dude to promise to avenge her death.
  • Death World:
    • For the sake of convenience, there is a galactic standardized system for quantifying the ease with which a notional "average" being can survive on a given planet: the higher the number, the more inhospitable the planet, with anything higher than 10 being a Death World, visited only by the suicidally reckless. The most hellishly dangerous life-bearing planet in the known galaxy is a Class 13 known as Nightmare. Earth is Class 12.
    • It's even pointed out that Earth, despite the classification, may actually be worse than Nightmare, since Nightmare is a single-biome world due to the radical shifts between seasons and Earth has so much variety that it can be awful in way more ways than Nightmare can be.
    • In chapter 40, the Dominion changes Gao's classification to that of a Deathworld, purely for political/Hierarchy reasons. Later, a captured Igrean agent reveals that prehistoric Gao and the Gaoians would have rated mid-Class 11, but the Hierarchy effectively hamstrung their entire biosphere with a gamma ray burst and genetically engineered the remainder away from those heights. They're getting better!
  • Designer Babies: The cornerstone of Corti civilization. Including Julian's ancestors
  • Disability Immunity: Humans with rheumatoid arthritis can fight off Arutech nanomachines at the cellular level, preventing them from being converted into drones. It still makes the symptoms flair up something bad, though.
  • Ditto Aliens: Averted. Most alien races have plenty of individual variation in their appearance, and can be readily told apart by anybody who bothers to memorise their features. Jen Delaney exploits this effect when she shaves her head, confident that without her distinctive hair, most aliens will not recognise her.
  • Ditzy Genius: Adrian Saunders is no slouch in the intellect department, and has a hands-on, practical working knowledge of nonhuman technology that allows him to rebuild a starship and make it spaceworthy in less than two weeks. He's also acutely short on common sense, dangerously reckless, confuses the hell out of even other humans with his constant obscure pop-culture references, and is hopelessly in love with Jen Delaney.
  • Double Meaning: "Deathworlder" becomes one in Chapter 18 of the main series. The original meaning is "life form from a class 10+ world", colloquially known as deathworlds for how dangerous they are. Earth is a class 12. As of chapter 18, Cimbrean is in the midst of a Biosphere Extinction, originating from Jen Delaney's "bathroom breaks" when she was stranded in the wilderness. Thus, Death Worlder can also mean one who can kill a planet by living on it.
  • Doorstopper: The main plot "Deathworlders" is over 58 chapters long, with chapter lengths increasing over time. The current main storyline is now well over 1,000,000 words in length.
  • Dragon Ascendant: The Alpha Builder, after being demoted and punished by the Alpha-of-Alphas for letting the data on WERBS by destroyed, decides to usurp control of the Hunters. A raid on the Builder Hive by the humans gives it the opportunity, and by the end the Alpha Builder has literally eaten its former master's brain.
  • Dying Race: Every spacefaring civilization, without exception, eventually declines and goes extinct. Despite the best efforts of the galaxy's scientists to determine why, the reason for this remains unknown. It is eventually revealed that this is by design; The Hierarchy meticulously manipulates spacefaring civilizations so that they never reach the point where neural implants become obsolete, allowing the Hierarchy and the rest of Igrean culture to sponge off the survival instincts of physical beings to prevent their own collapse as a species. The Hierarchy have gone through thousands of species over countless millennia in this fashion.
  • Egopolis: Carltopia. Later renamed to New Askitoria. Every suggestion for a "better alternative" has been something along these lines, too.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The cyborg Locayl twin mercenaries in 'A Wounded Rabbit.' It's noted that twins of their species have a very strong bond, so it's strange for them to have such dangerous jobs, as it risks one dying. Their love for each other is enough to stop Xiù's Roaring Rampage of Revenge before she kills anyone.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Arutech nanomachines cause an overpowering artificial stench in their hosts, to the point where dogs and Gaoians notice instantly that something's wrong.
  • Exact Words: Two Corti scientists are trying to get Zane from breaking into their ship and killing them, so they tell him that unless he wants to find out what happens when someone is next to or under a starship taking off, he will leave. He does... and then the Corti reveal to themselves that he would have found out that thanks to Kinetic Drives, nothing happens if you're in that position.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Most nonhuman species hail from comfortable, hospitable planets. While clothing is useful for protection and warmth on Death World Earth, elsewhere in the galaxy clothing would have just been unnecessary effort in creating and cleaning it for no real benefit. Most alien species are therefore rarely clothed, except for some packs, bags and holsters in lieu of pockets.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Rylee Jackson claims that she would happily have sex with aliens if she could, claiming to be attracted to personalities rather than to appearance or even species. This is mostly academic speculation, however - the insurmountable physical differences involved mean that her open-mindedness is never put to the test.
  • Eye Scream: Adrian Saunders has his eyes severely burned by an anti-human weapon. His super-serum-saturated system rebuilds them much better than before, but grows an opaque protective membrane at the same time which must be removed for him to see. Adrian is immune to painkillers and anesthesia, and is forced to go through the operation awake and feeling every cut. He screams. A lot. As do the people restraining him.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Huh seem to serve as this; a small metal object that entrances anyone who holds it while messing with their hormones. It was designed this way by the race that made it- they noticed that the more they relied on implants, the more lethargic they became, so they designed the Huh in order to kick their hormones into gear long enough to find the problem. It doesn't work in that case, but it causes problems when introduced to a ship full of humans, who nearly degenerate into cavemen before they figure out what's wrong.
  • First Contact: The exact date of the human race's first contact is questionable, and not just because it happened before accurate dating systems were invented. The first time that a human met something from another world was thousands of years ago, when a young caveman child destroyed a Corti probe. The first human abductees came from ancient Rome, Egypt and China at around about the time of Christ. The first event which solidly confirmed the existence of extraterrestrial life to the majority of Earth was when the Hunters attacked a hockey game in Vancouver, and that was as a result of Hunters attacking an abducted human earlier. Diplomatic channels with the Dominion and Alliance were only established after humanity's first test of an FTL starship.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: All-around average early-teenager Adam gets tangled up in too many Hierarchy operations that cost him his city and loved ones while sparing his life by pure luck, and the experiences motivate him to join the military and eventually become Warhorse, the single biggest and strongest human to ever exist.
  • Genius Bruiser: Adrian Saunders seems to have mastered the art of restoring badly damaged alien tech, and thanks to the permanent side-effects of the high-tech medicine that was used to save his life at the beginning of the series, as big as a bodybuilder and as strong as a man can get.
  • General Failure: Basically all aliens. Most species in the galaxy have no real understanding of how to fight at any scale. Since they come from paradisaical worlds, they're mostly non-violent herbivores, and while they are perfectly willing to go to war when the situation calls for it, they simply aren't very good. They have no understanding of simple tactics like flanking and deception, no understanding of higher weapon technology like missiles and combat drones, and have difficulty adapting quickly to sudden changes in the battlefield. No one even uses explosives for combat in any form, just for mining. Humans, who come from a Death World, have a much better understanding of war than anyone else. Even Jen Delaney, who was a bored IT tech on Earth, becomes famous for brilliant tactics that are little more than "keep your eyes open and watch each other's backs."
    Jen: How did space even work before we got here?
  • Go Mad from the Isolation:
    • Lewis fears this will happen if he doesn't come up with a plan to use the abandoned station's nanofactory to help humanity quickly, since Kirk and Vedreg can't really empathize enough with him to form the social bonds a human needs. When he finally gets some human company, he is so relieved that he bestows upon the large and intimidating Major Owen Powell the unlikely description of "good news fairy."
    • This also becomes a problem for Vedreg, once it really sinks in how tight a grip the Hierarchy has on his people.
  • Harmless Lady Disguise/Hiding in a Hijab: While in exile, Xiù pretends to be a Gaoian female with an embarrassing skin condition that she hides with a full-body robe. She also starts mimicking the movements and physical quirks of her gaoian "sister" Ayma.
  • Heavyworlders: Humans are heavyworlders in comparison to the rest of the galaxy. The difference between Earth's and galactic standard gravity is comparatively small, but just enough for natural selection to favor our denser and harder bones, and simpler but stronger muscles over the equivalents found in most aliens. In turn the Ten'Gewek are heavyworlders compared to humans, originating on a deathworld with gravity about twenty percent higher than Earth's, making them correspondingly tougher and stronger (and shorter).
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Hierarchy agent Six has one objective: preserve the existence of the Igrean species. After a botched operation on Earth though, his plans to accomplish that involve cooperating with humanity at times, and secretly establishing the Cabal to eventually usurp the Hierarchy—as he's convinced that the Hierarchy will lose a war of extermination to the humans if they stay the course. After the fall of Gao fails to accomplish its intended goals, the Cabal is reintegrated into the Hierarchy to come up with a new plan, and Six becomes a manipulative antagonist once again.
  • Hero of Another Story: One Running Gag is characters from one story meeting other characters (or at least hearing of them) and immediately hating them. Powell views Saunders as an insubordinate criminal, while Saunders views Powell as an ill-prepared idiot who keeps trying to bully him into compliance; the fact that Saunders is completely unfazed by said bullying doesn't help. Jenkins blames "some idiot human who fought in the war" for unintentionally teaching the galaxy about humanity's weakness to nerve-jam grenades, clearly unaware that Dude was conscripted against his will. And many people complain about how someone taught aliens how to use missiles and basic combat tactics. For Irony, they usually complain about this to Jen, who was one of the people who did the teaching.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partner: Valur and Xiavo, to the degree that, when Dude kills Xiavo during combat, Valur goes insane to a degree only humans typically achieve.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Corti. Their self-important attitude is rarely justified however, even if their technology *is* far in advance of anybody else's (except the Hierarchy).
  • High-School Sweethearts: Adam and Ava.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Moses Byron uses honesty as a brand. As he says, he already has all the money he'll ever need for himself, and the best way to make a profit in the long run is to do the right thing the first time so you don't have scandals later. Some characters express doubt at how much of it is sincere versus how much is PR, though.
  • Honor Before Reason: Shows up a few times in alien warfare. Many of the cultures are so set into their procedures and the lofty "rules of civilized warfare" that many of the more underhanded tricks and subterfuge, such as hijacking enemy vehicles and hiding your uniform colors, just don't occur to them. That said, plenty of soldiers and officers are all too glad to adopt a winning strategy when they see one, so it's not like they're too attached to their honor.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Hierarchy agent Fifteen, no doubt having personally committed a genocide or three, reacts thusly when Adam keeps going through the overclocked gravity plates, estimated to be upwards of 6 Gs: "Just what in creation’s name had the Hierarchy picked a fight with?" The Entity muses that it was "the religious terror of a man who'd come face to face with God only to learn that God was angry".
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Several aliens with extended exposure to humans have picked up many of our unique linguistic habits and have developed far greater capacity for flexible thinking than their peers. They are also adopting many of our weapon concepts.
    • Regaari finds himself wanting a human-style romance with Ayma, despite the fact that sex and reproduction among Gaoians is normally so businesslike that the two of them get funny looks just for being friends.
    • Gyotin, a Gaoian stranded on Cimbrean, founds his own clan based around buddhist teachings (modified for his own species; for example, the celibacy requirement to be a monk is dropped entirely due to their biology and culture).
    • This becomes a bit of a problem when Humanity discovers the Ten'Gewek, a race of Deathworlders who are still in their "cavemonkey" stage of civilization; the issue is that we want to help them, but we risk showing them too much of our own technology and culture, and overwriting theirs in the process, just by virtue of being around them. The mere act of showing them how to forge steel and make knives from it is treated with the same gravity as handing them nuclear weapons, and for much the same reason.
    • Even the Hierarchy, sworn enemies of Deathworlders as a whole and Humanity in particular, are not immune to appreciating the efficiency of human expressions to convey a thought.
  • Humanoid Aliens: for the most part averted. There's only one alien race that resembles humans, and even then it's only loosely (and their race is so fragile that most forms of contact between baseline humans and them would kill them). For the most part, aliens in the Jenkinsverse are widely varied in body plan and design. The Ten'Gwek are definitely more humanoid, but they come across as more ape-like in many ways, including a tail and more hunched-over posture. They also have no noses.
  • Humanity Is Insane: This is the consensus opinion of most alien races, though this attitude is largely due to the fact that the first taste the galaxy got of the human race was the unfiltered opinion of a cynical antitheist who painted humanity's religions in the worst possible light. Subsequent impenetrable pop-culture references and desperate plans have done little to dispel the idea, and it's true that humanity is more prone to delusion and mental illness than other races, but there is still a large element of fear and prejudice involved.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Subverted: Humanity's progress, while rapid, has come from reverse-engineering alien technology. And in fact, the period of time between the start of the human Information Age and the flight of Earth's first warp-capable starship was still longer than the same interval for the Corti. Humanity remains at a lower technology level than most other species in the galaxy.
  • Humans Are Divided: Russia has unilaterally sided with the Alliance while the UN would prefer neutrality. China has condemned NATO's development of armed spacecraft, and Canada has become the focus of world attention - and hostility - thanks to its monopoly on captured and salvaged alien technology. Then again, the alien civilizations are no more cohesive.
  • Humans Are Survivors... of our own home planet. Which by extension makes us well-equipped to survive practically anywhere else in the galaxy.
  • Humans Are Superior:
    • Earth is, by nonhuman standards, an insanely dangerous place to live, and by extension anything which does live there must also be insanely dangerous. Such is the case with humanity, who are stronger, faster, tougher, more agile, more inventive, quicker-witted and more perceptive than any other species in the galaxy.
    • Borders on Deconstruction in many works. Humans, and everything associated with them (diseases, etc), are so much stronger than galactic norm that even basic interactions become problematic, if not dangerous. Without the proper precautions, a human can kill a ship or a world just by being there. This causes most races to want to avoid associating with them, especially in the wake of the Hunters' ultimatum.
    • Similarly, while human biochemistry is far more efficient in many ways than the galactic norm, it also operates well under a much smaller set of circumstances. Humans require a comparatively oxygen- and water-rich atmosphere, and start suffering from dry membranes and altitude sickness in conditions which would be comfortable-to-tolerable for nearly every other species. Disease due to micronutrient deficiencies is also unknown among other species than humans. Gaoians use alcohol as a seasoning, but it has no other effect on them, and they casually tuck away quantities that leave Xiu blasted.
  • Humans Are Ugly: but then again most aliens think that practically every other species look ugly as well. The galaxy is a cosmopolitan place on the whole, and there are other reasons for a human to stand out in the crowd than that we're short, mostly hairless, and have an uncomfortably predatory appearance.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Or at least, are biologically capable of being very, very good at it. We're largely immune to Pulse Rounds, can suffer what would to other races be catastrophic injuries and walk them off, and have high-density muscles stronger than anyone else's. We also have very innovative styles of combat... which actually proves to be a problem once the Hunters start watching humans and reverse-engineering human technology to make themselves more dangerous.
  • Humans Are White: Thoroughly averted. Kevin Jenkins is mixed-race, Rylee Jackson and John Burgess are African-American, Xiù Chang is Chinese-Canadian, Adam Arés and Ava Rìos are Latino, the SOR's Wilson Akiyama is third-generation Japanese-American and Julian Etsicitty's ancestry is a blend of white, Navajo and French-Ojibwe. White characters are in the minority among the main cast.
  • Humans Kill Wantonly: Mostly averted. The unnamed protagonist of "Humans Don't Make Good Pets" starts out this way, but gives himself a What the Hell, Hero? moment later on in the series. With the notable exception of Cameron White, most of the other times a human has unleashed their impressive capacity for violence, it was done out of self-defence or to protect their friends or nearby innocents. Generally, when one of the major characters is interacting with an alien, the text shows that they're taking great care to not hurt them. The exceptions being in combat situations, of course, or other Deathworlders.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Humans are nearly universally regarded as being at best strange, and at worst dangerously insane.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The Xiù Chang Saga uses the chinese zodiac in its titles.
  • Important Haircut: Jen Delaney shaves off her distinctive mane of red hair, so as to avoid recognition by aliens who probably won't be able to identify her by facial features. The act also symbolizes her commitment to rejecting an easy, peaceful and boring life back on Earth. Adrian Saunders also gets a haircut and shave at around about the same time, marking the moment when things start to turn around for him, and he's able to regroup, clean up, and start fighting back.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: following the failed Hunter attack on Vancouver, humanity is able to successfully reverse-engineer the secrets to force field technology and faster-than-light travel from the alien drop pods and guns, and set out in search of more alien gizmos to take apart.
  • Innocent Aliens: Most aliens are ordinary citizens, working their day jobs, making a living, looking after themselves and their families, or just following orders. They tend to get nervous around humans simply because of humanity's fearsome (and in some cases, well-earned) reputation.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Humanity has relied on clothing for protection from the elements throughout most of its history, and as such has a mainstream taboo against nudity. Hailing as they do from much more comfortable cradle worlds, aliens have never needed such protection and most simply don't wear clothes. Exceptions are the Gaoians, who wear practical overalls for the pockets, and the Qinis who wear them for purely decorative purposes rather than concealment.
  • Interspecies Romance: Subverted. The very idea is disturbing and incredible to nonhumans. And to be fair, none of them are remotely sexy by human standards anyway. Nor would they survive the romance.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Xiù never drank alcohol on Earth, so she didn't notice it in a Gaoian drink known as *talamay*. Apparently only deathworlders get intoxicated by alcohol; Gaoians just like the taste. The Tem'Gwek consider it a point of pride that they pass out after a whopping three beers.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Dude usually ends up painting the room in orange blood every time he tries to eat the incredibly fragile Dizi rats.
  • Jerkass: Corti tend to come in two varieties; jerks who will work with others for their own self-interest, and jerks who think everyone else should just shut up and do what they say.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Regaari was promoted to serving the Supreme Mother to stop him from criticizing his superiors. He retaliated by being really, really good at his new job and earning even more recognition. He even jokes when threatened that if they do the same thing again, he'll be made Emperor.
  • Kill and Replace: The Entity does this to Hierarchy agent 665. And later, 20.
  • Kill the Cutie: Fourteen year old Sara Tisdale was born to doting parents from whom she inherited a happy, Hippie, breathtakingly innocent outlook on life. The kind of intelligent, brave, and naive person who rushes into mortal peril to try and help without realizing just how dangerous it really is. Horrible Reality Ensues.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Zigzagged. Energy weapons are recoil-less, ammoless, highly configurable, lightweight enough for an alien to carry, won't punch through a ship's hull (with personal weapons), and powerful enough against most spacefaring races. On the other hand, they're nearly useless against Deathworlders- Kevin Jenkins and Xiu manage to walk through repated, focused Pulse Rifle blasts with little more than mild bruising. Kinetic weapons are far more potent, but most are too heavy and recoil too hard for an alien wielder to reliably use them, not to mention the weight of ammunition. At least one Gaoian noted that another advantage to bullets is that you can have a variety of payloads, whereas energy weapons can only really have one type.
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare:
    • Humanity's arts are varied enough that most aliens can find a niche genre they enjoy. Ayma is fascinated by Riverdance, and Krrkktnkk A'ktnnzzik'tk likes classical music, Jackie Chan films, and Star Trek, hence his preferred nickname: "Kirk." He also quotes and analyses Macbeth in Deathworders Chapter 24.
    • Since contact with the humans, Buddhism has spread among the Gaoians, and Myun openly describes herself as a fangirl of humanity. Ever since Xiu introduced them, Pancakes have been all the rage among the female clan and the cubs.
  • Knowledge Broker: The Contact, a Corti who shows up in several stories.
  • Laser Blade: Fusion scythes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have the benefit of being lethal at any speed, making them one of the few weapons aliens can employ against humans.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The number of main characters easily rivals that of A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Made of Plasticine: Most alien species, but special mention goes to Dizi rats. As the most common domesticated meat animal in a galaxy where most predators would lose a fight to a human child, they tend to burst into gore at the slightest provocation and have a habit of dying of shock when even remotely threatened.
  • Magikarp Power: A quirk of Gaoian biology is that their bodies respond very well to intense physical training, possibly thanks to latent deathworlder genes. When some Gaoians begin military training with humans, the gap in physical ability shrinks rapidly, almost vanishing.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: Humans are so strong that any interspecies hookup would involve a real danger of serious injury or death for the nonhuman partner. The only exception to this would be the Ten'Gwek and (possibly) Gaoians who have undergone intensive physical conditioning, since both races are Deathworlders themselves.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Literally in the case of the Gao. This is even said nearly word-for-word by a Mother in the wake of the attack on Gao, since normal birth rates of males vs. females have skyrocketed to ten-to-one in favor of the men. They blame this on the stresses of the past year and a half meaning that their bodies are making more men to serve as soldiers to protect the females, and they suspect the balance will shift the other way after a few years of stability.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Hunters and Vulza. Human smiles are uncomfortably toothy and predatory to most species as well.
  • My Brain Is Big: The iconic Corti large-headed appearance is the end product of a eugenics program which has vastly increased their race's brain size and intelligence. While their detractors claim that this has also atrophied their senses of compassion and empathy, in truth the Corti never had much of either to begin with. It's subtly implied that the Corti are like most races in that they slowly stop being compassionate and focus on improving tech that the Hierarchy wants improved, such as the Implants.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dude. In fairness, he was effectively conscripted into a horrible meat-grinder of a war, and would be justified in not accepting moral responsibility for many of the deaths - he was just being a good soldier. Being a good soldier doesn't sit well with him, however, and he blames himself for failing to stop and think about what he was doing and why.
  • Mysterious Past: Allison. She dropped out of high school and had a baby, and was too ashamed to talk about it.
  • Naked First Impression: Jen meets the thirty Special Forces soldiers who are supposed to guard her new colony when she's walking around the palace naked after her bath. She immediately intimidates them all with a glare and demands clothing.
  • Named After Their Planet: Some species do this, some don't.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • A human vessel is damaged above a Dominion world, and they try to capture it, leading to the humans disabling all but one of the Dominion fleet, before leaving. Unfortunately, the Hierarchy decides that this would be a major PR coup for them, and summons the Hunters down on said world (which is very heavily populated) and has a disabled fleet in orbit. The end result is insane casualties from the Dominion fleet and millions either dead from new Hunter Weapons (reverse-engineered from seeing human weapons in action) or from being grabbed by Hunter teams to be... "Meat For The Maw." Public opinion rapidly shifts against the humans.
    • Lewis and his team, with great reluctance, create a self-replicating robot probe to seek out deathworlds for potential colonization (setting many safeguards and limits on how it can replicate). The argument that convinces them is that with programming and the common nanofactory, all the pieces are there for someone to start a logarithmic Von Neumann disaster, and the only way to defend against it is to get a head start. Not only is one of the probes witnessed by the Hunters, giving them the idea to start trying to make their own, but Six catches wind of the project, and instantly abandons the idea of working with Humanity. One of the Hierarchy's purposes is to keep self-replicating technology from being developed, and by doing it Humanity has shown themselves to be dangerously stupid in his eyes.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Six decides that a great way to spend the time would be to take a captured copy of Ava Rios' mind and decompile it over and over again. Basically, brutally killing her and eating the digital remains to discover what, exactly, makes her keep showing up where he does (turns out it's coincidence). Unfortunately, he gets sloppy, and some bits of the mind aren't as destroyed as he thought. The survival portion of the mind- and remember, this is the pure, undiluted instinct of survival for someone who evolved on a class twelve death world- manages to gather enough scraps of mind to form a new mind around itself, and then goes on a rampage through the Hierarchy, looking for a way to kill them all.
    • Thanks to Hierarchy Influence, the entire Sol System is encased in an impenetrable force field, effectively sealing the humans inside. What no one knew was that Jump Beacons, which can be used to escape said fields, were smuggled in beforehand, meaning that the way the galaxy intended to keep the Deathworlders locked up instead gave them an invulnerable fortress that no one can attack.
    • The Hunters, incensed that humans are more feared than they are, decide to attack Earth. They attack a hockey game, on live national television. Not only does the hockey team suffer no casualties or serious wounds, they manage to curbstomp the hunting party, and reverse-engineered Hunter Tech provides Earth with the means to escape their home planet.
    • To a lesser degree, humanity to the Hunters. Humans are strong, yes, but they can still get killed by Hunters. So humanity pulls out new, innovative tricks with the tech they have. Cue the Hunters reverse engineering humanity's tricks and applying it to themselves, making them even more dangerous.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Xiù spent months living among the Gaoians and came to view them as family. When forced to hide from a Hunter patrol only to find herself in a walk-in fridge full of pieces of Gaoian strung up to be butchered, therefore...
    • What Six does to Ava Rios' copies.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted. While humans and aliens can eat each other's food, they have to be careful about what, exactly, they are putting into their bodies, as some of the side effects can be nasty.
    • Disesases seem to zig-zag the trope; only one out of a hundred or so possess the right characteristics to affect an alien species, and often do so at only fractional efficiency. Unfortunately, the average human carry hundreds of disease strains (bacteria, parasites, viruses...), so some will slip through. Worse, the fact that gal-standard immune systems are significantly less efficient than Earth-standard means that they get impacted far worse. (Especially where it comes to viruses, as the standard defense mechanism is laughably slow and outwitted by anything that can mutate.) A simple cold is deadly.
  • Non-Humans Lack Attributes: Averted. Aliens have "attributes" alright, they just think that humanity is weird for getting so hung up on concealing said attributes. Not that the attributes in question may be identifiable as such to human eyes anyway.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: The SOR invent the "HELLNO Jump", which involves using their spacesuit's forcefields in place of a parachute to land at a hard but safe velocity. In Adam 'Warhorse' Arés' case, the first time he does this he lands directly on a hostile biodrone. While the impact is perfectly safe for Adam himself, given that he weighs about a third of a ton when in his suit he immediately becomes a Blood-Splattered Warrior.
  • No-Sell: Aliens start to take notice of humans after former bartender Kevin Jenkins gets shot by Hunters half a dozen times and only suffers a black eye. When Xiu and a clan of females are abducted, the Gaoians decide to let Xiu do most of the fighting when they see her not only shrugging off Pulse Gun fire, but getting up from that and throwing her attackers into walls hard enough to liquefy their internal organs.
  • No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: Deliberately played straight with some species, averted with others. Human culture, with its vast and varied artistic output and hyperactive pop culture is confusing and disturbingly alien to many species. This is not true for all species, but most of those which do have a pop culture have long since learned to politely avoid making pop culture references to other species, as they are inevitably met with confusion.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus:
    • Aliens are surprised by the notion of religion, having either never developed it or put it aside so long in the past that it no longer plays a part in their cultures. Curiously, the only aliens seen practicing religion are other deathworld species, though this may be attributed to their more primitive cultures.
    • This is later averted with the Gaoians in a few ways. Gyotin, after finding and reading books on Buddhism and Meditation, founds "Clan Starmind," a group of Gao that believe in rediscovering and spreading spirituality. It's not copy-pasted, though; Gyotin makes sure to change things and make it uniquely Gaoian. The spiritual stability and compassion helps the refugee camps on Cimbrean in the wake of the Hierarchy assault on Gao by a significant degree. Daar and other Gaoians also find evidence that Gao used to be spiritual in their own way, but the Hierarchy nudged them- like they have most of the galaxy, actually- to be less spiritual and more focused on scientific advancement that would benefit them in the long run. Daar is furious and starts trying to recover these bits of the past to undo the Hierarchy's damage.
  • No Warping Zone: Weaponized ones, in the form of the Gravity Spike. Used to pin ships down to slower-than-light travel so that they can be shot at, boarded or otherwise menaced.
  • Overly Long Name:
    • The Guvnuragnaguvendrugun are fond of this.
    • A medical researcher studying "Dude" is named Qttvrr'xxkxtvn'zztktkqn'qr'zvpptrnmct. "Mama Giraffe" Xkkrk finds it courteous when she is told she can "just" call him Qttvrr'xxkxtvn.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Grickas are feral, savage predators from an unknown deathworld, kept by militaries as biological weapons or by foolhardy individuals looking to prove their bravery by attempting to tame and cohabitate with them. Known to humans as the common housecat.
  • Pig Latin: Adrien and Jen frequently use it when diguising themselves as the fictional "Uman-hay." They are endlessly amused at how much it works. Their Corti companion is dismayed that such a simple code manages to flummox peoples that had been in space "back when humans were still discovering that poop was not good to eat."
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • Humans are the strongest and toughest sapient race in the known universe. We are also one of the shortest.
    • The Ten'Gwek tend to be even shorter and stronger. Though they are from a Deathworld that is even higher gravity than Earth.
  • Plot Technology: Averted. Reverse-engineered alien engines, forcefields and warp drives all wind up in the private sector within four years of the Vancouver Incident, leading the Second Space Race, and Stasis Fridges are the latest household appliance, guaranteed to keep your food exactly as fresh as it was when you got it home.
  • Polyamory: Xiù, Allison and Julian eventually become a "triple" (think a couple, but with three members rather than two).
  • Power at a Price:
    • Humans have insurmountable physical advantages over other species, but with some serious downsides. Earth's comparatively dense, warm and humid atmosphere means that humans can suffer from altitude sickness if they exert too hard in the thinner, cooler and drier atmosphere preferred by most species. Humans must eat and drink more to stay healthy, have a whole battery of dietary needs that, if not met, lead to malnutrition, scurvy or Beri Beri. The human nervous system, being efficiently fine-tuned for high performance relative to those of nonhumans, is vulnerable to things such as intoxicants or hallucinogens. While this may sound like a case of Cursed with Awesome - humans are the only species capable of getting drunk and enjoying recreational drug use - things like the standard fire suppressant foam found on all starships can drive a human into a paranoid frenzy before they go catatonic.
    • Then there's the SOR, whose training consists of working themselves to and past the point where the human body tears itself apart. Then they use alien drugs that allow them to rapidly regenerate, their bodies all the stronger from having been pushed so hard. They're the closest thing to superhuman, and can die of malnutrition if they're active in their gear for too long, due to the sheer impossibility of eating enough calories to fulfill their bodies' energy needs during such activity.
    • The Ten'Gewek have the same problem but worse. Corti discussing their biology note that they really need all those huge game animals to satisfy their nutritional needs, and there's the possibility of them starving to death in as little as three days. Given Men like Yan grow even bigger and stronger, but it eventually causes a neurological disorder similar to Alzheimer's.
    • Anyone who ends up with Cruezzir in their digestive tract is doomed to insanity Zane, Bill, arguably Adrian and Jen Delaney, though not Julian because of nearly lifelong exposure to Cruezzir precursors followed by direct ingestionand likely not for his children
  • Powered Armor: One of Lewis's ideas to help humanity was a powered suit of armor for soldiers, but after making a mock-up he dismisses the idea as unworkable as seen in the likes of fiction. He talks about how even super-advanced alien technology can't invent a mechanism that can fit in the dimensions of armor, give a significant strength boost to humans, and not sacrifice flexibility all at the same time. Plus it needs to carry a battery to power itself, and all realistic interface technology is hopelessly laggy between the wearer's movement and the suit's. The HEAT's EV-MASS suits end up being a more practical application of this trope — they have some powered systems, and their structural toughness provides a little help in the strength department, but the seemingly superhuman physical feats of the HEAT operators come from themselves and not their equipment.
  • Private Profit Prison: The Celzi Alliance runs its POW camps this way, handing control over to private corporations so that the government can save money. The corporations then use the prisoners for cheap labor, but insist it's not slavery because the prisoners are "paid" in privileges and tokens. Adrian is pissed when he finds out. Of course, this also means that the corporations are invested in making sure the war runs as long as possible to maintain their bottom line.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Word of God from Hambone has it that many background details, including several true facts about the human body, have been omitted from the actual stories because the facts and numbers involved, while entirely true-to-life, would jolt the reader out of the story.
    • Allison, Julian and Xiù were originally supposed to need months of rehabilitation after being exposed to the vacuum of space. Instead, and true to real life, their injuries were almost completely healed inside the first two weeks.
    • The exact statistics of just how massive and strong the men of the SOR really are have not been revealed, but they are apparently well within what the human body can achieve, if only theoretically.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: The only form of meat that widely available in galactic society is something known as a "Dizi rat." Usually for feeding carnivorous pets. Dude thinks they look like it half pig, half rat, and all derp.
  • Required Secondary Powers: The EV-MASS armored space suits used by the SOR don't have a layer of air around the wearer's body. Rather, they are so absurdly snug that there is no air between the wearer and the suit. Because of how much pressure the undersuit needs to form that seal, and the material toughness so it can bear that pressure, it's one reason the SOR need to be so ridiculously strong—so they can breathe and move while wearing it.
  • Revenge Myopia: "Dude" was effectively conscripted into the Dominion military and not given a say in the matter about where to go and who to fight. Valur's quest to exact vengeance on the "bloodthirsty monster picking on weaker beings who couldn't defend themselves" is thus really not justified.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Valur's approach to making "Dude" pay for Xiavo's death is not a subtle one. This is especially notable because Valur appears have gone insane, something only humans are supposed to do.
  • Running Gag: Everyone thinks "Cqcq'trtr" is a stupid name.
  • Sexy Walk: Funnily enough, a simulation of the re-engineered Corti female walks like this, thanks to gaining a wider pelvis to enable physical birthing. The scientists discussing this can only muse in bewilderment that "Apparently, Humans find it attractive".
  • Shout-Out: Xiu tries to beat the Corti scientist that was holding her and the Gaoian females hostage, when she's confronted by his bodyguard... Earthworm Jim. He's described as looking exactly like Jim does, from the tiny worm sticking out of the humanoid body suit, his eyes, his mouth, and the guy's name is "Captain Mij."
    • At one point, several Gaoians watch a copy of Guardians of the Galaxy. They're quite amused at Rocket Raccoon, which they describe as "A Gaoian if he was from a Deathworld."
    • One of the Robalin ensigns trying to subdue Dude is named WilHelm. His passing is marked with a very distinct scream.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: A Corti tries to lecture Dude on the savagery of his species compared to the more civilized races of the galaxy. However, by this point Dude has gotten tangled up in pirate raids, bioweapon plots and a full-on civil war, so he isn't convinced. He retorts that galactic races seem to be every bit as "savage" as humans, and the only difference is that they aren't very good at it.
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • Alien muscles have a wide range of motion. Human muscles can only move in one direction (pull), but the simplicity allows human muscle to be far stronger and more durable than any alien equivalent.
    • The WERBS for certain values of "simple". Using a warp field intersecting a wormhole, the WERBS converts any matter entering on one end into pure energy on the business end, such that a bullet sent through comes out on the other side as an explosion comparable to a nuclear bomb. And they use a minigun to provide the bullets. Move over, Newton; Albert Einstein is now the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Unsurprisingly, the members of SOR (but Owen "fooking" Powell stands out, if only for getting a lot of lines). More surprisingly, Ava.
  • Skewed Priorities: Furfet, a diplomat, notes with amusement that when the Hunter attack on the hockey game was over (resulting in a lot of dead Hunters and no dead humans), the biggest complaint that the audience had was not "Wow, Aliens are real, how do we deal with this," but "Hey, those aliens messed up the ice, now the game can't be finished."
    Xiù: ...my people take hockey seriously.
  • Skinny Dipping: The Cimbrean teenagers, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and innocence. Sara sees it as the logical way to avoid having to carry home wet towels and swimsuits and has little patience for people who get hung up on the nudity. Adam Is willing to try, and decides that he enjoys it after a little initial awkwardness. Meanwhile it takes a near-death experience and an epiphany for Ava to finally join in.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • In-universe, Ava Rios is this for Father Gyotin. A chance encounter at Cimbrean's Faith Center led to Ava referring to the then-Clanless Gyotin as a "furry zen master"; and when Gyotin, unfamiliar with human religion, expressed confusion at what Zen actually was, Ava suggested he take the opportunity while he was in a place of faith to study it. While this is their last meaningful interaction for many years, Gyotin takes her advice, which leads to him adopting Zen Buddhism for himself, adapting it for other Gaoians, and the eventual founding of Clan Starmind, Gao's first Clan specializing in spirituality. Clan Starmind then goes on to have a major stabilizing influence on the Gaoian Refugees in the wake of the Hunter attack on Gao.
    • Kevin Jenkins, actually. While yes, he did save Kirk from a group of Hunters, Kevin then decided to go back to Earth and wanted to stay there. Kirk, on the other hand, was inspired by Jenkins, becoming humanity's biggest ally for years to come, recovering lost and abandoned humans all over the galaxy.
    • While her role was larger, Xiu rescuing members of the clan of Females from Gao ultimately had huge repercussions on Gaoian society, leading to them becoming one of Earth's closest allies.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": Alien names are difficult if not impossible for humans to pronounce, resulting in loads and loads of nicknames. Notably, Krrkktnkk A'ktnnzzik'tk introduces himself with his nickname "Kirk" when meeting humans. Gaoians, confronted by their adopted sister Xiu (Chinese-Canadian human), get this in reverse, since they can't pronounce her name, and settle for calling her "Shoo."
  • Space Fighter: Many and varied, based on who built them. The first generation of human starfighter is the TS/2 "Firebird", which wins over the technologically superior alien models mostly by behaving in a completely different way on the battlefield, and by being piloted by Deathworlders with hugely superior reflexes and G-force tolerances.
  • Space Pirates: A persistent problem, with the navies of both the Interspecies Dominion and the Celzi Alliance being too busy fighting one another to patrol the trade lanes properly. Pirates are typically inclined to just shoot everybody on board their target ship. Jen Delaney makes a much better living by gaining a reputation as a "merciful" pirate who will only steal your cargo but let you live, and introduces the Dominion to the concept of a "Privateer" (someone who will accept pay from a government to only attack one's enemies) in the process.
  • Spanner in the Works: Davi escapes his abductors, and in the process of making himself comfortable hiding in the vents he inadvertently cripples the ship and drives the crew to a collective breakdown.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Averted. While human navies and air forces retain their traditions in terms of fleet composition, alien civilizations have different traditions, giving rise to Shiplords, Shipmasters, Fleetmasters, Swarmships, Broodships, and so on. Where a term like "cruiser" is used, it's usually because a human character has decided that it's the closest fit.
  • Stealth in Space: Cloaking devices abound, but first-generation human starships prefer to rely on being very small and very distant, using heat sinks and radiating their thermal energy away in a coherent beam towards the local star. Throw in radar-scattering stealth material and an extremely low albedo, and cubic light-seconds of space become quite easy to hide in.
  • Stun Guns: The Irbzrkian shock gun is a less-lethal short range weapon designed to pacify humans. It is emphatically not a less-lethal alternative when used on anybody else.
  • Superior Species: The Corti certainly like to think this is true of themselves.
  • Super Prototype: Earth's first two warships, Myrmidon and Caledonia. The reason that even a decade after they're put into service, they're still the best comes from that they're actually two captured Hierarchy ships, with some technology that humanity can't reverse engineer- specifically, the keel and superstructure, which are made of a super-alloy that mankind can't figure out. As such, after Caledonia is destroyed by the Hunters in the conflict of Gao, humanity retrieves the wreckage and fully expect it to be put back into service (after they finish fixing it in a few years).
  • Superweapon Surprise: The WERBS system is hinted on several times from its discovery in chapter 6.5 but it's never used. That is, until chapter 40.4 - and it completely lives up to the hype.
  • Talking to Themself: As Jen Delaney grows and becomes a more independent and headstrong person, she sidelines her timid, hopeless former self. After inhaling the hallucinogenic fumes given off by starship fire suppressant foam before spending four months alone hiking across the surface of an alien world, "Old Jen" develops into a fully-fledged voice, complete with her own opinions, and "New Jen" regularly carries on conversations with her old self.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: Dizi rats, according to Dude.
  • Technology Uplift: The Allebenellin and the Versa Volc are both limbless species similar to worms or slugs which mobilise through the use of mechanical exoskeletons. Given their lack of any hands with which to manipulate tools, the only sensible explanation for this fact is that they were uplifted by another civilization.
    • One of humanity's big questions is if they should do this to the Ten'Gwek or not, considering their nature as targets of the Hierarchy.
  • The Captain: Major Owen Powell, Spaceborne Operations Regiment (originally of the Special Boat Service). Possibly a subversion in that, while he has to date taken part in a few missions, he did so only because he was the only officer available, and stuck to a command role.
  • The Greys: The Corti are the quintessential big-eyed bulbous-headed grey aliens.
  • The Nicknamer: Dude.
  • The Unpronounceable: Most alien words. Notably, the language of the Vzk'tk and the Rrrrtktktkp'ch sounds like a series of clicks.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: A gentle example in Chapter 20 when Xiù Chang throws Zane out of an airlock... when the ship's hovering only four meters above a river.
  • Time Skip:
  • To Serve Man: The Hunters, by preference, exclusively eat the meat of sapient lifeforms rather than that of unintelligent animals. Human meat is the most prized of all, but also by far the hardest for them to acquire.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Astim decides that the best way to acquire Xiu as a brood mother for a new generation of humans to use as supersoldier shock soldiers is to take her loved ones hostages, when he openly admits that she's more dangerous than the bounty hunters he hired, and the news is full of reports of Hunter Strike Forces getting curbstomped by lone humans. That he gets out of there alive is a miracle... until Regaari tosses him out the airlock.
  • Translator Microbes:
    • Universal translators exist in this universe, but they generally have to be programmed for specific languages. Julian, Allison and Xiù can't immediately communicate with Vemik and his people, but the translator can pick up on their syntax and vocabulary rather quickly. However, both Dude and Jen Delaney are able to communicate with their primitive deathworlders instantly, most likely because they carry the more advanced implanted version.
    • Most species have the translator implanted in their brain, with humans (and some Gaoians) being the odd ones out again, preferring to carry it as a separate device. Even despite the implanted version having several advantages over the external one. This is because Hierarchy agents can snatch your body through the implant anytime, unless it has been specially fortified by Askit.
  • Unblockable Attack: There's no known way to block a Nervejam pulse once it's gone off, at least one that's feasible to use in a real scenario. The only way to survive is to get far away from the detonation.
  • Undying Loyalty: A noted trait of Gaoians, to the point that as soon as Ayma and Regaari hear that Xiù has been rescued and returned home, they arrange an extremely dangerous visit to Earth just so they can see her.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: The Interspecies Dominion tries. Oh how it tries. It lays claim to every planet, asteroid, moon and star in the galaxy and theoretically regulates who may settle upon and exploit them. In practice, however, its core power is concentrated in a volume only three or four thousand lightyears across and much of the galaxy has never been visited by a Dominion naval patrol, or even explored. By and large the Dominion's role is that of a neutral meeting ground rather than an actual government.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Tired of being humiliated by humans, the Hunters issue an ultimatum: All stations and planets are to be rid of their human occupants at once or face a visit from the Swarm of Swarms. Almost everybody caves immediately, despite many humans being fantastically helpful to have around. The lucky ones are given ships and time to pack their things; many are simply blown into space.
  • Virtual Ghost:
    • Trycrur/Trix re-enters the story as one of these in Chapter 68 of Salvage.
    • A crueler example occurs in Chapter 26 of The Deathworlders when Six scans Ava's brain so that he can "decompile" a virtual copy of her over and over again so as to gain a complete understanding of the events leading up to his capture in Chapter 14. She begs for her life every time, and as of chapter 29, this has happened "one thousand and eighteen times." Meanwhile, the original Ava carries on with her life oblivious that this has even happened.
  • Weak Sauce Weakness:
    • Humans go into paranoid psychosis and eventually a coma when they breathe in the vapor from standard spaceship fire-suppression foam.
    • Due to our neural chemistry, we're also the only ones who are affected by things like Alcohol or Nicotine.
    • Most aliens are... well, it ranges between "Unable to fight against a fit adult human," to "Incapable of posing a threat to a child." Xiu, who is a short teenager with only a few years of martial arts training under her belt, manages to turn a Locayl wrist to gravel by grabbing it.
    • Gaoians are some of the most dangerous sentients besides humans and can even give humans a run for their money with proper training, but their immune systems... not so much. In particular they are extremely vulnerable to fungal infections, to the point where a single small cut almost killed Daar when he was on Earth.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 15 of the Kevin Jenkins series ends with Hierarchy 72 being discovered, and he reacts by uploading his memories, then using a micro wormhole to transport 5 kilograms of antimatter into the heart of San Diego. The resulting explosion scars the face of Earth permanently.
    • After a lengthy absence, the Hunters return in force and attack the Dominion capital station, showcasing new weapons and twisted new physiologies designed to let them fight humans on a more even footing.
    • Chapter 17 reveals that the Hierarchy now live permanently in cyberspace via various neural implants. Their old bodies are still around - they're the Hunters that have plagued galactic society for millennia.
    • Chapter 40 - Gao is attacked by the Hierarchy and the Hunters, and the Hierarchy resume their extermination efforts on Akayawentuo as well.
    • Chapter 40.4 - the Swarm of Swarms descend on Gao. The humans respond by launching the WERBS system, which was created as a hobby project back in chapter 6.5. And it's glorious.
  • World's Strongest Man: Adam is probably the strongest human ever, dwarfing his fellow HEAT operators who themselves make heavyweight wrestlers and bodybuilders jealous. Yan has the same status among the Ten'Gewek. As does Daar with the Gaoians. All three share a friendly rivalry as the only organisms in the galaxy who can compete with each other to their very limits.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Adrian Saunders has, on at least two occasions, rendered the women in his life unconscious: one so as to save her life, the other so as to steal her spaceship.
  • You Are Number 6: All members of the Hierarchy are known only by their rank, which is a number. The closer to One a member is, the more authority they have, and the less personal responsibility in their collective mission. There is also Zero. Word of God has it that the rank of Zero is given to applicants who are not yet fully-fledged members of the organisation. Given that they hold no rank, they do not get a positive integer.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Xiù returns to Earth after spending two years among the Gaoians, three hiding in exile pretending to be a Gaoian and five stuck in a stasis pod. This leaves her unable to relate to her family and friends back home, but unwilling to return to Gao, as it would put them in danger from the Hunters. In the end, the only people she feels at home with are fellow abductees Julian and Allison, and it's not long before those feelings turn romantic, and are reciprocated.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Ava

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