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Sandbox / Schlock Mercenary R To Z

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  • Painting the Medium: Characters routinely lean on or brace themselves against panel borders.
  • Peeling Potatoes: parodied here.
  • People Jars: At one point, the author gets away with a full-frontal nude shot of Elf in a regeneration tank by making her too nude to have skin. "I'm as naked as the day I was born. And then some."
  • Perpetual Poverty:
  • Perpetual Storm: Book 14, "Broken Wind", features a planet-sized gigahabitat that rotates to provide gravity. The resulting coriolis force has produced a permanent "sideways hurricane" in one part of the habitat, when a pair of baffle walls designed to prevent just that are intentionally knocked down.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Ennesby has a habit of doing this. Words, phrases, quips, and puns. Ye gads, the puns...
    Schlock: Ennesby gave me a shorter word to say all that, Sir. 'Assassineated'.
    Tagon: Ennesby needs to stop inventing words.
  • Phrase Catcher: Schlock's faster than he looks. Finally lampshaded:
    Pau: Don't worry about me! Worry about that turd-tentacled monster! He's faster than he -
    Schlock: Say "Looks."
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  • Physics Plus: Gravity manipulation (but not generation — ships are built around spheres of neutronium as sources of gravity to manipulate), a process which is as well developed as electronics, and playing the result to its natural conclusions; ubiquitous flight, Deflector Shields, traversable wormholes (one example which Justifies a Time Travel storyline), and quantum teleportation. Some find the easy nanotechnology a bit of a stretch.
  • Plasma Cannon: Schlock's signature BHG-9000 plasguns, plural because they tend to explode at the drop of a hat.
  • Population Control: Earth has a gene pool protection act that required Doctor Bunnigus's parents to have a Designer Baby.
  • Portal Network: with an incredibly dark secret; It copies everyone who uses it each time they use it. The Gatekeepers then interrogate the copies and kill them. They know everything about everybody without anyone's knowledge. Seven million people every minute. For hundreds of thousands of years. Technically, they meant well - the Pa'anuri made it clear that either the Gatekeepers would prevent the use of Teleporters and Transporters or they'd kill the Milky Way Galaxy.
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  • Powered Armor: Besides the standard stuff, the Toughs are equipped with low-profile (to the point of invisibility) armor built into their uniforms that helps diffuse energy weapons and lets them fly.
  • The Power of Friendship: A twisted sort of application of the trope. The Toughs can't count on their allies, because they're mercenaries and your allies might be the guys you're hired to kill tomorrow; they can't count on any of their respective home governments, for pretty much the same reason; they certainly can't count on their employers, who are frequently known to try to backstab the Toughs since, well, they hired a band of mercenaries to begin with, so why not add "screwing over those who make a living with violence"? But they know they can count on their friends (which, admittedly, is usually limited to "each other", but the sentiment is there).
  • Private Military Contractors: The Toughs and much of their competition that isn't a star nation's military.
  • Projected Man: most of the shipboard AIs; also, Ennesby before he joined the crew and got a body of sorts.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Pi's paranoid delusions are sometimes right on the money.
      Pi: But the plan is absurd. Suborning Gavcorps would be terribly expensive, and no military will admit to having genocidal nanotech on hand...
    • Karl Tagon's response to seeing Kaff Tagon's nanite-riddled girlfriend start having a seizure - put his suit-helmet up in case of bio-weaponry. His wife wasn't so lucky...
  • Psychic Powers: It is stated early on by the narrator that someone with "psychic sight" can see the bullet destined to kill someone. This is dropped in favor of harder sci-fi, but psychic powers such as (radio) telepathy get referenced every once in a while.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Probably the best description of Schlock's attitude. He does show care and loyalty to his friends despite his status as a sociopath, but enjoys fighting too much to care about the blazing hot maimery he spews from his plasma cannon on anyone but his friends.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër:
    • The F'Sherl-Ganni typically have three apostrophes in their names
    • And they call a certain enemy the Paan'uri, or is it Paa'nuri, or Pa'anuri?
  • Pungeon Master: Ennesby, being an entertainment AI, used a databank of puns across 50 languages.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat: A notable exchange occurs after LOTA teraports New Credomar out of the cannon barrel.
    Kevyn: If you say "I told you so," I get to say "my sarcasm is more accurate than your paranoia."
    Ennesby: That's fair.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The misfits and more exotic alien members of the team are all assembled in a squad led by Schlock himself. Tagon and his command staff treat them as an elite force they don't so much deploy as unleash.
    • And barring some of the only remaining founding members of Tagon's Toughs (as seen at the start of the strip,) they represent the longest-serving and most experienced members of the company (experienced as Toughs, anyway.) The command staff tend to listen when they speak, even if they vastly outrank them. (It doesn't hurt that Sgt. Schlock once literally owned the company, and still owns as much or more stock as the command staff.))
  • Razor Floss: Tagon's "Dorothy System" which strings a razor-sharp monomolecular wire between his boots when he clicks his heels together.
  • Recursive Ammo: Referenced once, but beam attacks tend to be more common when battles occur.
  • Recursive Canon: The very inaccurate Show Within a Show licensed adaptation of the Toughs' adventures, which inappropriately chibifies the crew and exaggerates Schlock's abilities.
  • Recursive Reality: In the library at Tinth-Pilkra, as part of an Old Media Are Evil joke, on a shelf in the foreground can be found compilations of early twenty-first century webcomics, including Sluggy Freelance... and Schlock Mercenary itself.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Justified. The Toughs are a mercenary company anywhere between several dozen and a few hundred strong, not all of them identified. Introducing a new character can and has been as simple as giving one of them a name and a job that lets the audience know what he does.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: When M'Conger is boggling at the sheer size of a mere portion of the artificial environment they're exploring, Legs dismisses it as no big deal.
    Legs: You weren't with us for the Buuthandi. Engineering feats lose their punch after you've popped the containment system somebody built around a star.
  • Retcon: Due to trademark issues, the Big Book of War of the series needed to be retitled. Formerly "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates", it is now "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries".
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: It's not clear what sort of democracy Shufgar promoted, but his methods aren't much better than those of cannibalistic aristocracy he fights.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Human in basic emotions, very not human in every other part of their outlook.
  • Right Behind Me:
    • Captain Tagon falls victim to this trope when he starts to badmouth General Xinchub, only to have Massey point out that the general is right behind him.
    • Captain Gasca tells the admiral how the current intelligence chief is too cautious. And that's when said chief appears to remind him that if her predecessor had been more cautious, he would be less dead.
    • Kevyn gets this pulled on him with the Gav ambassador aboard the Touch and Go, thanks in part to a "helpful" Tagii.
    • Karl Tagon gets the drop on one of the Parkata Urbatsu performers, who finds out that Karl resents the "nice" part of "nice old man".
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: This Qlaviql ore freighter captain is in command of the only ship able to respond to an attack on his homeworld by a frigate armed with a powerful plasma lance. With guts and a "dream mess" created from the ore mined from asteroids, the frigate is destroyed. This ultimately results in his being declared the leader of the planet.
  • Right on Queue: A whole story arc is based around this. Luna's bureaucracy was so slow, and the queue so immensely long, only the oldest people in line remembered it ever moving. There were religions dedicated to the idea of reaching the front. The Toughs thought they'd been hired to disperse a crowd of rioters, but found that it was just the line for the bureaucracy.
  • Robots Think Faster: AIs in have a seemingly logarithmic scale of CPU speed. The larger shipbrains often affectionately refer to organics as "meat-glaciers".
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted. The alien population is extremely diverse and well worth studying if you'd like to break out of that anthrocentric mold. The title character doesn't even have a head or a bipedal humanoid form. It's even played for laughs sometimes.
    Bounty Hunter: Everyone lie down, and put your hands behind your head!
    Tetrisoid: I can't lie down.
    Uplifted elephant: I don't have hands.
    Unioc: I don't have a head.
    Bounty Hunter: It's times like this I start feeling really, really bigoted.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: All sports, from Ballet to Deathball, share a league. One where spiking the ball with high explosives is allowed. Rugby is not permitted.
  • Rule of Funny: "[One interpretation of this scene is that] the Universe required a punchline (which it does, every day) and warped physics in such a way that the conversation was audible."
  • Running Gag:
    • The most enduring example is that Schlock looks like, well, a giant pile of crap. Nearly everyone who sees him for the first time mistakes him for a moving pile of poop. And when not, they still say it.
    • Der Trihs ending up as a head in a jar; Kevyn surviving repeated deaths; Schlock crawling, or squeezing, through air vents and pipes; the names of the ships in Petey's fleet; the Toughs killing lawyer drones on sight; the Gavs. In Book 11, the recurring question What Would Schlock Do? Schlock later shows up to deliver a superb "Show Not Tell" answer. "This."
    • Every time Kathryn gets her bus repaired, the Toughs hijack it frequently enough that its story is delivered as a running gag.
    • It's almost impossible to keep track of the amount of times when kitties are involved and Schlock tries to eat them. Fortunately for the kitties, he never does.
    • Schlock being faster than he looks, much to the surprise of those facing him.
    • The Vomiting Cop in "A Hand of Acey's." Yes, the Incredibly Lame Pun is Lampshaded.
    • The in-universe Schlock Mercenary TV show, it comes around every now and then to overshadow the protagonists and causes them inconveniences.
    • There's also recurrent phrases mostly from the "Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries," such as "Pillage, then burn" or "There is no overkill. There is only 'open fire' and 'time to reload.'"
    • One that was used heavily early on but shows up less frequently in later strips are the use of numerous variations on Open Mouth, Insert Foot.
    • Schlock's plasma cannon getting blown up. especially when he and the people he's with are in desperate need of heavy weaponry.
    • Due to time travel duplicates, split-personality cyborgs, at least one alien whose consciousness is split between two bodies, and various other shenanigans, someone remarking about needing to invent new pronouns.
  • Sapient Ship: it's a rare exception when a capital ship is flown by a human pilot or even a mobile robot. Almost every armed starship we see is inhabited by its own AI, who "is" the ship and considers the whole structure its body.
  • Sarcasm Failure: You know the situation is dire when Ennesby neglects to make a fart joke about "Broken Wind".
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Regularly.
    • Such as with Renault clumsily hitting on Elf prompted her to "fill in some key details".
    • Tagon didn't agree with an employer on some important terms. His solution is to quit and then ask Pibald for "his favorite" (which is bound to be colorful) scenario for a potential attack, inducing the employer's security chief into their little Club Properly Paranoid in seconds.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Implied as the reason behind the Ob'enn's war-like nature.
    Psycho-Bear Lieutenant: Talking to inferior species beats getting killed by them.
    Psycho-Bear Captain: Don't let the chaplain hear you say that.
  • Scenery Censor: gets to ridiculous levels in The Sharp End of the Stick, when the Toughs wind up naked after being captured and stripped of their clothing and armor. Lampshaded in the note to this strip, where Schlock's arms being spread wide for a yawn cover the lower areas of Elf and Kevyn.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Cheerfully lampshaded: The narrator will go into great effort to describe exactly how big the universe/galaxy/star system is, and how abysmally low the chances of some event happening are, and then the event will happen. A lot of these are Justified much, much later.
  • Scoundrel Code: The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: This is what the structure the Toughs were defending in "Random Access Memorabilia" (Osiri) is thought to be at first, a Precursor prison containing a dark matter entity. The truth turns out to be a lot more complicated.
  • Self-Deprecation:
  • Serial Escalation: Approaches this at times. How many times can you get paid for a single job? Tagon's Toughs' current record is five.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: When Kevyn travels back and therefore the Bad Future is erased, this is effectively conveyed with a panel that imitates the look of loading a saved game in DOS.
    Your current game will be lost. Reload from previous save? Y/N
    > Y
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shoulder Cannon: The Powered Armor developed by Tailor for the Toughs has the option of mounting a cannon on each shoulder of the suit, which can also detach and function on their own as "Paul-drones".
  • Slasher Smile:
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Quite cynical.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Despite the cynicism of the strip, it rarely takes itself seriously.
  • Smart People Play Chess: AIs play chess for fun. You can tell when one of them is seriously outclassed because his opponent will be able to predict the entire game before the first move is played.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Murtaugh combines this with Gratuitous Latin here. Working out the translation shows that it also adds in Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • Stomach of Holding: Schlock is this. Overlaps with Hyperspace Arsenal, given that he's been known to keep a substantial number of large weapons, and on occasion an armoured spacesuit big enough to fit himself in...
  • The Soulless: The Reverend doesn't think that AIs have souls. He mentions this to Schlock, who observes that's he's an artificial life form too, and wonders whether one might acquire a soul by eating someone else..
  • Space Based Weapon Has Cutoff Range: Averted here, where the note for the strip explains that the beam will essentially continue on until it hits something more substantial than interstellar dust.
  • Space People: The F'sherl-ganni/Gatekeepers, to the point of being able to survive vacuum.
  • Sparse List of Rules: The Maxims, of which there are seventy but only about 35 have been revealed.
  • Spit Take: Kevyn gets several in a row, starting here.
  • Spy Speak: In this strip, Maximillian Haluska's use of field operative terminology gave away he was more than just a well-equipped thug. The "Aunt Amy" and "Uncle Bob" thing comes up again here, in conversation with Para Ventura.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: In chapter 15, a sinister conspiracy uses one to initiate a Civil War on Earth. They launch a False Flag Operation on the Proletariament and use Clone by Conversion Nanomachines to convert the entire police force into their own agents. They then use Do Not Adjust Your Set to announce a revolution for the "people", accusing the Plutorliament of being behind said False Flag Operation and claiming that the noble police force has joined their side.
  • Starfish Aliens: Schlock is really, really weird. Most of the others we meet at least breathe oxygen, and a lot of them are something vaguely resembling humanoid. But the Pa'anuri are the weirdest of all, consisting of dark matter that can't even exist in this dimension.
  • Stealth Cigarette Commercial: The in-universe Plasma Cannon Safety Coloring Book, printed jointly by Magic Dreamland Entertainment and Strohl Munitions.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Petey could deal with most of the issues the heroes face on a whim. He has purposely done things in a less efficient way just to give them something to do in a few storylines since his ascension to Fleetmind.
  • Stripperiffic: Parodied.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Used several times:
    • Once the Fleetmind starts interfering in governments:
      President Mancala: I'll send you the full report. This kind of opportunistic militarism cannot be tolerated. The United Nations of Sol and allied planetary Governments will not stand idly by while sovereign galactic powers are overthrown, crushed, or assimilated by the Fleetmind.
      Ambassador Breya: What's our plan, Mister President? Do I need to deliver a declaration of war, and then withdraw the embassy?
      President Mancala: Don't be ridiculous. Your job is to lodge a protest, using the strongest possible diplomatic language.
      Ambassador Breya: Ah. And how is that different from "standing idly by?"
      President Mancala: If we were standing idly by, we would not be lodging a protest.
      Ambassador Breya: Wow. We are fearsome.
    • And just to rub it in:
      Note: The League of Galactics is a millennia-old body of diplomats and other ne'er-do-wells representing almost two hundred thousand different governments throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. It has a rich and varied history, liberally garnished with back-patting tales of heroic diplomacy — studies conducted, sanctions administered, statements released, and reprimands served.
      It has about as much effect on key galactic events as central Asian rainfall has on the mean high tide in the Gulf of Mexico. Brandishing a reprimand from the League of Galactics is only marginally worse than threatening to cut off one's access to the Ron Popeil Shopping Channel.
    • ''I'm here to lodge a protest. I'll let you read it yourself. The formal document uses some of the strongest words you can write in Galstandard West without violating grammatical checksum.''
    • As far as Schlock himself is concerned, the words "temporary restraining order" mean "come back with guns."
    • Subverted on one occasion however.
      Ennesby: Fine. I've forwarded [the nasty-gram I sent to Xinchub] to you for your expert critique.
      Some time later:
      Tagon: I see you've just been exposed to Ennesby's Weapons-Grade Vocabulary.
  • Subspace Ansible: The Hypernet is able to reach anywhere instantly, unless it's being specifically jammed.
  • Super Senses: Schlock has superhuman senses of vision, hearing, and smell. Part of what makes him so dangerous.
  • Super Serum: Soldier-boosts; illegal if done without a license, but that doesn't stop anyone.
  • Super Soldier: Several, with the Doyts being particularly notable.
  • Super Spit: One of the abilities the Magic Cyrokit gives Doythaban.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Implied in the form of Maxim 24: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a really big gun."
  • Take Our Word for It: The artist knows full well that sometimes the readers' imaginations can come up with a far more epic scene than whatever he might've had planned, so he employs this.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted, here, due to one character having far less time to chat than he thought.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Most characters employ this (even the supposedly dumb ones) to some degree, but Kathryn in particular is an artist. No small wonder, considering her background. Case in point here, talking her way out of being held at gunpoint.
  • Tank Goodness: Flying Tank goodness for the win.
  • Technology Uplift: While hiding out on a primitive planet the company chaplain convinces Kevyn to build a robot to uplift the natives, unfortunately they throw it in a volcano.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Teraport Area Denial systems were introduced within days of Kevyn making the blueprints for the Teraport open-source. Removing the Tough's massive tactical advantage.
  • Tempting Fate:
  • Theme Initials: all of the PD Fleet ships have names with the initials 'P.D.'[1] Their fleet of warships contains, among others, ships named Pterodactyl, Perjurious Discourse, Pretentious Drivel, Predictably Damaged (I-VI), Priority Delivery, Painstakingly Defenestrated, Polysyllabic Designation, and more.
  • The X of Y: All the Ob'enn ship names follow a strict pattern: The [Object] of [Pretentious Adjective] [Pretentious Principle]. If it is a defensive ship, the object will be a piece of armor or article of clothing; if offensive, a pointy handweapon of some sort. Lampshaded when Tagon was told his recently-acquired fabber is of Ob'enn manufacture:
    Tagon: Let's slap a drive and crew quarters on it and christen it the Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance.
    Kevyn: Making fun of Ob'enn ship names is like shooting fish in the barrel of circular swimming.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Routinely. Discussed in this strip.
    • Maxim 37: is "There is no overkill. There is only 'open fire' and 'I need to reload'.
    • And Maxim 34: "If you're leaving scorchmarks, you need a bigger gun." (First mentioned here, sans number.
    • After Karl Tagon and Timeclone Kevyn are kidnapped, the Toughs have the following exchange:
      Thurl: Whoever took him was not subtle.
      Kevyn: Broken furniture?
      Thurl: Craters.
  • There Was a Door: Petey tends to use unorthodox methods of entering spaceships, seen, for example, here.
  • Three-Point Landing: Tagon here, particularly impressive in that he also did a flip.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Both Petey and Lota are willing to threaten to use this tactic. Of course, Petey's version is more a teralock, but still...
    Lota: Should you so much as approach those systems Lota will be required to fire you.
    Kevyn: Okay, I get it.
    Lota: Out an airlock.
  • Third-Person Person: Lota not only refers to Lota in the third person, but insists that everyone else does so as well.
  • This Ain't Rocket Surgery: One plotline invokes both halves of this in quick succession.
  • Time Abyss: The Really Old Dude and Very Old Guy, members of the species that originally created the amorphs.
    Fobottr Tenant: Are you claiming that your people have been on the surface for over ten million years?
    Rod: Oh, my people have been down there for much longer than that. No, I was just talking about me, personally.
  • Time for Plan B: Recurring.
  • Time Travel:
    • Kevyn manages it in the effort to stop Captain Tagon from being killed, by jumping back to before it happens to stop it.
    • The Command and Conquer chapter returns to the time travel concept, giving hope that time travel can be performed using 140 character messages.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: A duplicate of Kevyn Andreyasn created by time travel meeting his past self results in pronoun trouble as well as the verb tense issue.
  • Title Drop: The seventh strip. The individual physical book collections also have their titles dropped at some point during the events portrayed within.
  • Toilet Humor:
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the Oisri story arc, a Hauling robot operator, whose hands followed his own in motion, was bragging he was good enough he could throw boulders with the same hands he could pick his nose with... and in the process of demonstrating, pinched his own head off with the robot's hand.
  • Too Much Information: Comes up from time to time, often related to Schlock's biological functions.
  • Torture Technician: U.N.S. Colonel DeHanns served Admiral Emm as her chief interrogator during the book "The Body Politic", until he got eaten by Schlock.
  • Totem Pole Trench: In This strip Andy, Legs, and Schlock disguise themselves as a single tall creature, Legs riding on Andy's middle set of shoulders while Schlock has spread himself out into a sheet to drape over them like a robe.
  • Try Not to Die:
  • Tsundere: Most of the female cast has their moments, but Elf is the most prominent example, especially earlier in the strip.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Referenced, and rejected by a gate clone of one man's wife, here.
  • Unfortunate Names: "Uniocs" are only known as such because they decided it would be preferable to being known by the name of their home planet, Oth. Unioc, meaning "One-Eye" is merely a bit silly. But being called "Other" would have been politically difficult, having a meaning similar to "foreigner".
  • Unit Confusion: Being reasonably hard SF, it's usually pretty good, but with the occasional slip-up.
    • Especially early on, "watt" would occasionally be used as a unit of energy instead of power.
    • Kerchak made this mistake as late as 2010, but that time the author claims it was intentional.
    • Upon getting his head around that one, Tayler made the different error of using "terawatt-nanoseconds" to mean "an incomprehensibly huge unit of energy"note .
    • Gav once refers to the "radius" of a Negative Space Wedgie where the author probably meant "diameter" (a slip-up from him being a bit less plausible than one from Kerchak), since a later strip has it swallowing a ship at a bit over half the "radius" given.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: An employer of Tagon's Toughs is the Oafan, whose current space station is as large as a planet, is big enough to stuff the planet Mars inside, and has a docking area big enough to dock battleplates, the largest spaceships the U.N. has. How many battleplates could dock inside? "All of them."
  • Unsound Effect:
  • Unusual Euphemism: Used rather often, and often to hilarious effect.
    Tagon: (discovering he's just been stabbed in the eye with cutlery) Oh. Fork.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Invoked in this strip, where Gasht'g'd'g'tang explicitly says he's not going to discuss F'sherl Ganni plans, especially with the narrator, as "nefarious plans must remain secret".
  • Unwanted Assistance:invoked
  • Uplifted Animal: Humans have uplifted elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, and possibly others.
  • Virtual Celebrity: The New Sync Boys.
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: Creating a simulation in which the subject has escaped and begun musing on how he got into such a mess is the first phase of the infamous Mind-Rip.
  • Visual Pun: Check out the "waldo".
  • Vomiting Cop: Exaggerated as part of a CSI parody arc. The cop in question has been a forensic specialist for 3 years and still vomits at every case like a rookie — as well as any mere graphic description. On the other hand, he's helped put away 16 murderers and lost 40 pounds.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Credomar.
    Pi: Hyperspace Death-Ray. That's what Credomar is.
    Lota: Correction: "Credomar" is a city-state full of coddled humans who currently reside on a habitable moon of their very own. The remains of their station...THAT is a hyperspace death-ray.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Sergeant Schlock favors an impressively large plasgun which powers up with an ommmmmminous hummmmmmmm and a glowing barrel. It is quite dangerous but its ominous hum is the most important feature. When he goes in to get a new one, he discovers that improvements in technology have led to it being replaced with a small, silent, and more powerful model. He rejected it because it was small and didn't hum. He storms out, appalled, as the salesman desperately calls after him, claiming that they can give it an impressively large cosmetic casing and a speaker to simulate the hummmmmmm. As Schlock is a mercenary, intimidation is part and parcel of the trade. The hum is a proven deterrent, and the glow of doom from the barrel is nothing to sneeze at, either. It's like selling an intimidating Hand Cannon without a hammer to Cock Dramatically or a Laser Sight to show someone exactly which part of their body it will blow off.
    Schlock: Grumble...Mount you in a big round case...
    Narrator: Arms dealer, know thy market.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Ennesby gives the trope its name here in a message sent to Xinchub after his attempt to have the Serial Peacemaker destroyed with an extra terapedo snuck into the ship's armaments.
    Ceeta: My stomach is in my throat right now. It's trying to spit acid on the parts of my brain that remember reading his message.
  • Webcomic Time:
  • We Are as Mayflies: Humans have much shorter lifespans than many alien races, as even Xinchub will admit.
  • We ARE Struggling Together:
    • In the original timeline, the galaxy is destroyed because the governments are bickering and fighting over minor intelligence leaks instead of banding together to save themselves. Luckily, things go more smoothly the second time around, though only because Petey first blackmailed them and then assimilated their fleets.
    • Book 13 (Random Access Memorabilia) involves two different UNS intelligence agencies fighting over the Gav-owned artifact Oisri. Those under the command of Admiral Emm try to capture the artifact by hacking the Gav's backups so that they'll resurrect as loyal soldiers, while the second group tries to stop them.
    • Book 14 (Broken Wind) has the mercenaries themselves having severe chain of command issues. The Toughs are loyal to Captain Kaff Tagon, the Parkata Urbatsu team is loyal to General Karl Tagon, and the emancipated warship Bristlecone they're riding on is loyal to Para Ventura. Then there's the fact that the former owner of Bristlecone, Alexa Murtagh, is (possibly unconsciously) making a subtle power play by issuing challenge coins to the Toughs. Liz, Nick's girlfriend and the chef's new assistant, is the first one to notice this.
  • Wham Episode: Schlocktoberfest in general. When it's Halloween time, the story often takes a darker turn and characters will die. (Though, not always permanently.)
  • Wham Line:
  • Which Me?:
    • The wormgate system creates a perfect duplicate of anyone sent through it, which is kept for interrogation by the Gatekeepers, who then kill the clone. The first characters who suffer from this problem are Doythaban and his gateclone Haban II, but this later becomes a galaxy-wide problem when billions of these clones are released. However, no-one suffers from it more than Gav, who clones himself 950 million times to escape, leading to an truly epic case of this trope.
      Gav: There are still over nine hundred million Gav clones out there. My activities of the last year can only be understood statistically.
    • At one point the Terran government tries to charge Kevyn with treason for mass-releasing the teraport designs. He points out that it was his now-deceased clone who released that information, not him, and thus he can't be charged with anything.
    • It also leads to some rather bizarre court cases since there are some legal issues where the gate clones are not always considered separate individuals. In one case, a person had two death penalties against him for Manual Operation under the Influence. When his gate clone turns up, the judge rules that, since the clone was created after the commission of the crime, it is perfectly legal for them to apply the second death penalty to the gate clone.
      Judge: Oh, and you used up all your appeals the first time around. Sorry.
    • In the "A Hand of Acey's" storyline, a gate clone attempts to murder the original version of himself, but instead gets killed by the original acting in self defense. Since the clone and the original are legally the same person in that particular jurisdiction, the final police verdict ends up being attempted suicide.
    • The Gavs eventually found a way to differentiate themselves from one another, to the point where they are barely recognizable as Gav-clones. Especially the females.
    • Kevyn has to go through this again, during his attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Subverted to death with the Ob'enn, and summarized here.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Usually subverted, in that it's not being non-human that makes killing someone acceptable. It's getting in the way of the Toughs completing a contract.
  • Whole Plot Reference: When Tagon's Toughs are on shore leave on a resort planet, they run afoul of the same Obstructive Bureaucrat types as seen in Jaws.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Variant. After regaining their full intelligence, memories, and lifespans, the practically-immortal oafa work to perfect and distribute the immortality project Terrans had been struggling with for generations, in order to have actual peers.
    Squid-Sophont: The Plutorialment will question your motives.
    Oafan Ambassador: They are a deep breath too young to understand our motives.
    Squid-Sophont: Old age makes you generous?
    Oafan Ambassador: Longevity is a curse if one has no friends with which to share it.
  • World Shapes: the Bu'uthandis are a variant of a Type I Dyson Sphere (see also Hollow World), while the Zoojacks are literally shaped like toy jacks, and the Tinth look like giant subway sandwiches
  • World's Shortest Book: Inverted:
    Tagon: Vog, you're about a zillion years old. What you don't know can probably be written on the back of your hand.
  • Worrying for the Wrong Reason: In this strip, when Elf is about to be arrested by the police during the HTRN takedown storyline Ennesby and Captain Tagon have the following exchange:
    Ennesby: Uh-oh. Those look like real police.
    Tagon: Uh-oh. Elf is smiling at them.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: In this strip a Hypernet News Network story item goes into detail about a zoo brontosaur projectile vomiting over 300 people, and then only gives a brief blurb about the possible deaths of millions of people by the collapse of a damaged Space Elevator.
  • Worthy Opponent: Pranger's Bangers. Much ass-kicking ensues when they team up on a mission.
  • Writing for the Trade: Not so much in the earliest days, but now, oh yeah. The Massively Parallel storyline started on March 02, 2009 and ended 637 strips later.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Schlock either sent Jud to hire reinforcements or to an early death. According to Chelle, "We can hope for both right?"
  • Yellow Peril: Professor Pau. Prefers to wax his 'tache rather than go for the traditional Fu-Manchu style, however.
  • You Are in Command Now: Happens a couple of times during really bad crises, like during the HTRN takedown story arc which left Elf in command when more senior officers were unavailable.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: After accidentally blowing up King Lota Lt. Pibald asks if the guy who blew up the king gets to be the new king. Lota survived the blast.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame
    Petey: I know I've hit a rough patch when a violent, amorphous sociopath is my best character reference.
    Tagon: He's the only reference I'll trust. What's that say about me?
  • Your Mom: ...weighs six tons and kisses with two meters of muscled trunk.
  • You Monster!: Captain Tagon is called a monster by one of the Parkata Urbatsu members, when he informs them that there will be no video of the big chase scene involving them and the Toughs because all the PU cameras were destroyed before the actual pursuit began.
  • Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My: Referenced in this strip by D'amico, in regards to Petey.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Sooner or later, they all seem to do this.


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