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Space Cadet is a science fiction timeline, written by Rvbomally (the author of Ad Astra Per Aspera and Vivere Militare Est) and originating on AlternateHistory.com. The TL can be summed up as a "sarcastic love letter to Science Fiction "- Essentially an attempt to play with, deconstruct and generally screw around with as many sci-fi tropes as is humanly possible.

The main setting is the far future (exact date unclear, though possibly in the 40000s). Humanity has spread far away from Earth and conquered the galaxy. But all is not well. After a devastating rebellion by the Cog Lords, the ancient Second Empire of Man has been destroyed and replaced by dozens of smaller factions, fighting to reunite humanity. The two biggest are the Third Empire of Man, a brutal feudal dictatorship and the United Galactic Federation a fanatical, hypocritical revolutionary state. The superpowers are locked in a millennia-old state of cold war, enforced by their huge arsenals of superweapons.

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In the shadow of the superpowers, lesser states pursue their own goals. The militaristic Citizens Alliance and the colonialist United Dominions of Avelov both seek to expand into alien space, driving them to conflict. The corporations of the Consortium of Sovereign Systems work to maximise their profits. Alien empires try to profit from humanity's weakness. Standing for peace and unity is the Protectorate of Mankind, who send their loyal and dedicated agents, the Space Cadets to destroy all threats to humanity and keep the peace between the human powers. At least that's the theory.

In practice, the Protectorate is a rotten, underfunded organisation, unable to make any serious progress for human unity. Left constantly deadlocked by nationalist rivalries and forced to rely upon the galaxy's criminals for recruits the Protectorate struggles to defend humanity. And with the Tick Swarm and the Universal Collective rampaging through human space, the Eldritch Stars throwing out new monstrosities and the Imperial Remnant destroying worlds for their own amusement, they have their work cut out for them. Not to mention that not all the Cog Lords have been destroyed...

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Space Cadet provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: The Coalition has this to a ridiculous degree.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Citizens Alliance kills every alien species they find. Duzhonev goes one better and also kills any humans who deviate from the baseline.
  • Abusive Precursors: For all that they are idolized by many in the modern galaxy, the Second Empire of Man was a brutal dictatorship with a fondness for fates worse than death.
    • The First Empire was hardly better, having genetically engineered numerous human subspecies for the sole purpose of enslavement (or worse), and unleashing the Tick Swarm.
  • Aliens are Bastards: Humans are most definitely bastards but the few alien species of any significance are no better. The Dyn in particular are very prone to irrationality, intolerance and xenophobia.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: The dominant religion in the Empire (and therefore most of the galaxy) is Rationalism, a monotheistic religion that worships scientific progress. Its holy text is heavily implied to be heavily altered translations of ancient (i.e. 21st century) Reddit threads, memes, and quotes from popular science advocates such as Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson.
    • Similarly several religions view the sculpture of the Four Kings of Myhrk (Mount Rushmore) as a holy relic.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The modern galactic powers believe this fervently, with interstellar law prohibiting any research that might lead to AI. Given their history, this is far from surprising.
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  • A God Am I: The Imperial Remnant regard themselves as gods and therefore believe they have the right to do whatever they please to other humans. Given how much more advanced they are than the other powers, this is not an entirely unjustified belief.
  • The Alliance: The Alliance, naturally enough, although they are increasingly centralized. The Consortium, the Vessel States, the Coalition and the Dyn are other examples of nations made up of multiple other states.
  • All Nations Are Superpowers: Averted. The Federation and Empire are the only superpowers but there are dozens of smaller powers with their own agendas.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in a Torment Engine- a virtual reality device designed for torture. The victim is subjected to their worst fears and has all of their psychological coping mechanisms disabled, while giving them the knowledge that they will be left there for eternity, with every minute as bad as the first. Luckily they all seem to have been destroyed in the War of the Cog Lords, although the Imperial Remnant may have some...
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Duzhonev Imperium is essentially run by Space Nazis.
  • Animesque: Nomoki is a civilisation based upon anime tropes.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Parodied with the Sokowuz Kingdoms, who are nonhumans convinced that they were responsible for all of humanity's achievements. Not only are they wrong, they wouldn't even exist without the First Empire's genetic engineering.
  • Apocalypse How: Many, many examples.
    • The earliest known event in the backstory is the Ash Winter- a series of nuclear wars that left humanity crippled for thousands of years.
    • Several human empires end up collapsing into civil war and warlordism, including the Solar Federation, the Terran Empire and the First Empire of Man.
    • The worst and most recent of these collapses is the collapse of the Second Empire in the War of the Cog Lords. Over 90% of humanity was wiped out and the remainder were left in a far more primitive state.
    • There are numerous planetary level apocalypses- worlds which have been stuck in barbarism following some catastrophe or other, worlds which have been destroyed by Imperial World Fortresses or Hyperlight weapons and worlds devastated by orbital bombardment.
  • The Assimilator: The Universal Collective
  • Bigger on the Inside: The ships of the Free Triumvirate are made of exotic matter, allowing them to be small on the outside but huge on the inside.
  • Brain Uploading: Imprinting is a technology which allows a person's brain patterns to be uploaded to a different body. It was used extensively by the Second Empire but by the present day has fallen out of favour with most powers- except for the Consortium who use it for infiltration.
  • Bug War: Given how inhuman they are, pretty much any war between humans and aliens (and there have been a lot of those) qualifies. The most literal examples would be the Swarm War and various subsequent wars against the Ticks, which span several millennia.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted for the majority of the galactic population. Members of the military and the rich and powerful can afford to travel between planets and systems on a whim but for the majority of people space travel is a once in a lifetime experience, something they usually have to spend their life's savings on to afford.
  • Corrupt Church: Several examples.
    • The Imperial Rationalist Church is more or less a part of the state and has used it's political power to stifle scientific development.
    • The Rationalist Churches of the Vessel-States are heavily involved in politics and often use their spiritual as a means to make money.
    • The Titanist Church of Avelov is highly ruthless and fanatical, with truly horrific fates in store for heretics.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Federation and the Solarian Community both appear to be bright and colourful happy places but are in reality horrifically dysfunctional societies.
  • Crossover: A dimensional-hopping Cog Lord is behind the Grey Swarm in Ad Astra Per Aspera.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted, for the most part. The majority of the population of the Consortium are cyborgs and while many of them are less than moral people, this is largely unrelated to cybernetics. Played straight with the Collective, however.
  • Darth Vader Clone: The Empire has an entire organisation of Darth Vader clones- the Order of the Architects, who belong to a human subspecies with power over the four forces of the universe. The Order's architects have been deliberately modified to make them crippled and dependent on the Empire.
  • Deadly Gas: The WMD of choice for Avelov is the Black Smoke, a devastatingly effective chemical weapon.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Free Triumvirate was formed by men and women who believed that the Second Empire was going to destroy itself through it's growing decadence. They turned out to be right, which makes them insufferably smug in the present day.
  • Deus Est Machina: The Grand Cogitator and it's "decedents", the Cog Lords.
  • Dystopia: Almost all of the human powers are quite nasty but Duzhonev is probably the worst, being a combination of the Imperium of Man, Nazi Germany and Oceania
  • Earth Is The Centre Of The Universe: Averted. Earth has become nothing more than a dangerous backwater. Not only that, but the majority of humans are actually descended from Martian colonists.
  • Earth That Was: Nobody is sure whether Earth actually exists anymore because damage from a reality warping weapon made the Solar System impassable.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Seeping Ink, a group of demonic creatures which come from the Eldritch Stars and are actually just appendages of a much larger extradimensional creature. The Void entities probably also count.
  • Eldritch Location: The Eldritch Stars, naturally. The Crazed Core and the Solar Anomaly are other places where reality has gone a bit strange. And then there's The Void.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: The Uniform Machine Code bans the development of AI and is vigorously enforced by the Protectorate and the major powers. The lack of AI also prevents present day humanity from recreating the Second Empire's technology.
  • Eternal English: Averted. English and all other 21st century languages are long dead and incomprehensible to modern day humans, who speak a variety of languages that are very distantly descended from Russian.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The leadership of the late Second Empire was mostly composed of higher-functioning sociopaths, who thought nothing of subjecting innocent people to horrible fates. Even they thought the individuals who would become the Imperial Remnant were a bunch of psychos.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The dinosaurs were resurrected through cloning and several species are still around in the present. The most notable are the Kerdin, who are heavily modified, sapient dromeosaurs.
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: The Sarmaks are a species of sentient cephalopods who serve Avelov.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Universal Collective is of the opinion that individuality and free will are standing in the way of humanity's progress. They decide to rectify this.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Dyn and male Zadrovzh wear clothing only when absolutely necessary, biological and environmental factors having made it unknown for most of their history.
  • Expy: Far too many to list. To keep it just to major factions:
  • Fantastic Racism: All of the human great powers aside from the Solarians and Coalition discriminate against aliens to varying degrees and even the more liberal ones are prepared to exterminate any civilization which might pose a threat. The various human subspecies don't always have it easy either. The most extreme example, however, is the Duzhonev Imperium which kills anything that isn't baseline human.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Or rather, sci-fi counterpart culture. Most of the states which aren't expies are this:
    • The United Dominions of Avelov to Victorian England and the Spanish Empire
    • The Principality of Nomoki to Japan
    • The Most Illustrious and Grand Duchy of the United Vessel States to Renaissance Italy, especially Venice.
    • The Sokowuz Kingdoms to the Aztec and Mayan empires.
    • The Empire to Tsarist Russia in some respects.
    • The Directorate and Muskiev are both expies of the US and USSR during the 50s.
    • Aeyrius Prime to Ireland.
    • Yrrakis is one to the Modern Day Middle East, mainly Syria.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: There are quite a few major conflicts that are rather familiar
    • The Tournament of Shadows is the Cold War, and is the main conflict as well
    • The Yrrakis War is based on the Middle East Conflicts, mainly in Syria.
    • The Arambi War is based on the Vietnam War, with the Empire taking the role of the USA
    • The Imperial-Nomoki War was one to the Pacific Theatre of WW2, complete with the atomic annihilation of the enemy at the end.
  • Feudal Future: The Empire operates under a feudal system, with different families acting as lords of the various systems and sectors, with all ultimately being vassals to the Emperor.
  • Fictional United Nations: The Protectorate of Mankind serves as a UN equivalent for humans. Various alien species have their own versions in the form of the Dynic Hegemony and the Galactic Council.
  • Flying Saucer: Commonly used by the Shortmen and the Directorate.
  • Food Pills: Shortmen eat these, along with food pastes. Their reduced ability of taste means they generally don't care that it tastes bland or disgusting.
  • For the Evulz: The only reason why the Imperial Remnant does anything.
  • Founder of the Kingdom:
    • Duzhonev the Wise to the First Empire of Man
    • Lem I to the Second Empire of Man
    • Vadim Dondrukov to the Third Empire of Man
    • God-Emperor Ankhov to the Duzhonev Imperium
    • Ixa Tangiroa to the Terran Empire.
    • Krimhulf I to the Solar Federation.
  • Free-Love Future: The Federation and the Solarians are both liberal on sexual matters to the point where it starts to become disturbing. The rest of the galaxy is rather more prudish.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Many normal, foodstuffs are prohibitively expensive, such as honey, chocolate, coffee, cow's milk, and beef. Many people eat mostly algae, fungi, and vat-grown meat, though their diet can be supplemented by imported produce.
  • Galactic Conqueror: Arekshav the Great of the Terran Empire, who established humanity as the dominant power in the galaxy.
  • Galactic Superpower: The First and Second Empires of Man were this during their heyday. The Empire and Federation both seek to become this.
  • God-Emperor:
    • Much like their inspiration Duzhonev worships their cryogenically preserved founder as the God-Emperor, the perfect human.
    • Sokowuz regards their monarch, the King of Kings as a direct representative of their deity
    • Nomoki regards their royal family as divine.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The return of the Cog Lords is the worst nightmare of every inhabitant of the galaxy. When an Imperial Remnant ship was mistaken for a Cog Lord ship, all the galactic powers ceased their conflicts in order to try and destroy it.
  • Gone Mad From The Revelation: The Tick Swarm was once just an anti-alien bioweapon, designed to be completely incapable of harming humans. Unfortunately they went into the Eldritch Stars and came back... changed. In turn, anyone who listens to their communications is driven mad.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Inverted. Neither is exactly virtuous but the Empire is marginally more moral than the Federation.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Deconstructed with the Call Folk, who are a human subspecies created to serve as sex slaves. Their oddly coloured skin is to make tracking escapees easier.
  • The Greys: The Shortmen are Space Cadet's version of the Grey's. They are a human subspecies, genetically engineered to serve as engineers on spacecraft. Personality wise, they're essentially a whole species of Hollywood Nerds.
  • Having a Blast: Strong nuclear architects can cause nuclear explosions on a whim.
  • Hive Mind: The Tick Swarm, the Universal Collective and the Lym all have hive minds.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Parodied with the Rationalist Church, which literally worships science and figures like Carl Sagan and Bill Nye, and actually stifles scientific progress due to their warped conception of and monopoly over the idea. However, it should be noted that their religion actually worships a Deist-like Watchmaker.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Tick Swarm is a particularly horrific example. Slightly played with in that they aren't alien: they're a First Empire bioweapon gone horribly, horribly wrong
  • Humans Are White: Averted. The majority of humans belong to the Galactic ethnicity, who look more like Indians or Latin Americans.
  • Human Subspecies: Numerous examples, filling the roles that would normally go to Rubber-Forehead Aliens. Most were created by the First Empire's genetic engineering.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: People are some of the prey on Second Empire game worlds.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Hyperspace itself doesn't seem to be all that dangerous but another method of Faster Than Light travel is to go through The Void, an Eldritch Location full of malevolent entities. The Second Empire, despite being the most advanced civilization humanity ever produced, was unable to travel through it safely. The Imperial Remnant and the Duzhonev Imperium can pass safely but only because the Void entities like the suffering they cause.
  • Keystone Army: AI regulations require that combat drones must be controlled at a central location, and said drones must shutdown if the location is destroyed.
  • Killer Space Monkey: The Arambi are a race of genetically modified gorillas who serve as analogues of the Wookiees and Klingons
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The Alliance certainly thinks so, being the only great power to use kinetic weapons more than energy weapons.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: By the time the Generation Ships sent out at the end of the 21st century arrived at their destinations, galactic civilization had already risen and fallen several times. At least, that's what their descendants the United Colonial Authority believes; there's no way to know if they actually originated on the real pre-Ash Winter earth or are actually the product of the Second Empire's interdimensional experiments.
  • Loan Shark: It is never a good idea not to pay back a loan from the Consortium. They can do a lot worse than take your house- as many Imperial lords have found out to their cost, they have no problems with repossessing entire planets, disassembling them into raw materials and selling the population into slavery.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Hedonic Engines, virtual reality devices which would make their users fantasies appear to come to life. They become incredibly popular in the late Second Empire, with most of the population spending all their time inside them. Eventually the majority of became dedicated to nothing but pleasure having modified themselves to become incapable of feeling negative emotions. Unfortunately this meant they were totally defenceless when one of their AI's was accidentally modified to turn on them.
  • MegaCorp: The Consortium of Sovereign Systems is an alliance of these, dedicated to maximising profit above all else. The guilds of the United Vessel States also act as the Clock Punk equivalent.
  • Motive Rant: Each of the major factions have given one of these.
  • Naïve Newcomer: The Interstellar Coalition only recently became a part of the wider galaxy and is generally rather more naive and idealistic than most other powers. Learning what a terrible place the rest of the galaxy is has started to change this, however.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Consortium is governed by an alliance of corporations.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Deconstructed. The Federation has a fanatical hatred of religion and ruthlessly suppresses it in all it's territories. The Alliance is also majority Atheist but they're a lot more relaxed about it.
  • The Plague: The First Empire of Man unleashed a deadly cocktail of viruses on its own population in a last-ditch effort to stop the Ticks. It worked (for a while anyway) but the plague quickly spread and destroyed their civilisation.
  • Planet Eater: One of the creatures commonly produced by the Eldritch Stars are the Devourer Worlds- living planets (or planet shaped creatures) which eat other planets. They can travel through Hyperspace, so there are few places in the galaxy beyond their reach.
  • Portal Network: The wormgate network, used by the Second Empire to hold the their realm together. Only a handful remain operational in the modern era.
  • Precursors: The First and Second Empires of Man serves as this to modern humanity. There were ancient aliens who dominated the galaxy in the past but they were wiped out millions of years before humanity evolved and don't play a major role in the setting.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Arambi and the Alliance.
  • Punk Punk: Many of the galactic powers were created in order to represent a particular genre of punk:
  • Putting on the Reich: Duzhonev's troops and officers have this look.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The first war against the Ticks ended with a human victory but at the cost of destroying the First Empire and killing untold numbers of humans.
  • Raptor Attack:The Kerdin are a civilisation of sentient Jurassic Park style Raptors. A fair number of them are feathered though.
  • The Remnant: The Free Triumvirate and the Imperial Remnant could both be considered the last remnants of the Second Empire. Neither has much interest in restoring it however- the Triumvirate believes that the Empire was fatally flawed and decadent and the Remnant just wants to have fun
  • The Republic: The Galactic Republic was a democracy and seemingly one of the more benevolent human societies. Unfortunately it grew corrupt and ineffectual as time went on.
  • The Reptilians: The Kerdin, who were genetically engineered from cloned Velociraptors in order to provide interesting prey for the wealthy on hunting worlds. The collapse of the Second Empire allowed them to escape and found their own empire.
  • Retro Rocket: The default ship type for the Protectorate.
  • Robot War: The War of the Cog Lords, which destroyed the Second Empire and killed over 90% of humanity. It should be noted that the actual warfare was conducted between the ultra-advanced Cog Lords; the 10% of humanity that survived were those fortunate enough to not be caught in the crossfire.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted. The "aliens" that look human are actually human subspecies. The genuine article are a lot weirder.
  • Sand Worm: Massive, mutated versions of regular worms are found on Yrrakis, serving a similar role to their Dune counterparts.
  • Schizo Tech: The denizens of the galaxy vary widely in various fields of tech. Some worlds are reduced to pre-industrial barbarism, while others have plasma weapons and starships the size of mountains.
  • Sci-Fi Kitchen Sink: The whole point of the setting.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Information about most of human history prior to the Solar Federation has been lost to time. A lot of things about the Second Empire are also mysterious.
  • Sinister Sentient Sun: The star vampires are enormous, monstrous creatures of serpentine plasma. They feed off normal stars, eventually resulting in the star's death.
  • Sliding Scaleof Robot Intelligence: AI come into three tiers in the Space Cadet universe; Weak, strong and superintelligent. The latter is the reason why the Second Empire fell.
  • Space Age Stasis: Justified. While technology has continued to advance over the millennia since the War of The Cog Lords it has done so at an extremely slow pace and is still nowhere close to the level of the Second Empire. This is because technological progress has been deliberately restricted in order to ensure that the technologies which nearly destroyed humanity are never recreated.
  • Space Cold War: The Tournament of Shadows between the Empire and Federation. It's been going on for ten thousand years and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
  • Space Elves: The Augments are a parody. They look the part but they are on average stupider than baseline humans and their culture is a collection of vapid nonsense.
  • Space Pirates: The Sovereign Thalassocracies.
  • Space Police: The Protectorate's Space Cadets are meant to serve as this, although they find themselves severely hampered by the power of local government. Ironically, most of them are former criminals.
  • Space Whale: Void Krakens, one of the species which emerges from the Eldritch Stars. Unlike most depictions of space whales, they are vicious killers rather than gentle giants.
  • Starfish Aliens: The actual aliens are all like this, with the more earthly species being human subspecies or uplifted animals.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Done intentionally by Duzhonevian death rays for psychological effect.
  • Super Supremacist: The First Empire and certain architectist groups considered architects to be superior to baseline humans, and thus the only ones capable of running the galaxy properly. Some even viewed the architects as living gods.
  • Synthetic Plague: Various plagues are used by the First Empire and the modern powers. The worst of these is the phage weapons, which convert people into violent monstrosities.
  • Tripod Terror: Avelov uses Tripods as an integral part of their ground forces.
  • Troll: The Remnant are essentially an entire civilization made up of psychotic internet trolls.
  • Ungovernable Galaxy: The difficulty involved in directly controlling hundreds of thousands (or, in the case of the Empire and Federation, millions) of systems means that a lot of the galactic powers are very decentralized. Even powers such as Avelov and the Federation, who have an ideological commitment to imposing their system upon others are forced to allow their periphery systems to do their own thing.
  • United Space of America: Several factions bear similarities to the United States of various eras
    • The Federation has a few things in common with both 1960's and 2010's America, although much of it's culture is wholly alien to the modern day.
    • The Alliance is very similar to Bush era America
    • The Coalition strongly resembles 1980's America
    • The Directorate of Free States is very much like 1950's America
  • Unobtainium: Certain factions need various forms of exotic matter for their tech. The Empire, along with anyone else using hyperdrives, need hypermatter. The Avelovans and Duzhonev need aether, the Vessel-States need alchemical elements, and the Protectorate needs trans-atomic elements.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: What happens to some prisoners of Duzhonev and anybody who gets captured by the Collective.
  • Uplifted Animal: The First Empire used genetic engineering to create sentient species from several animals, including creating the Arambi from gorillas and Kerdin from Velociraptors.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Multiple galactic powers use city and capital ship-destroying (and in some cases, planet-killing) superlasers. The Federation uses superphasers on some of their warships.
  • We Have Reserves: Since all the powers have billions of soldiers to draw upon,none are too concerned about their lives. The worst offenders however have to be the Federation and Duzhonev with their clone soldiers (in the latter case, the clones are considered so disposable that they are made without a digestive or reproductive system) and Sokowuz with it's slave soldiers.
  • Wetware CPU: Avelov, Duzhonev, and the Federation all use biological brains to do some of their computing.
  • We Will Use Manual Labour in the Future: A lot of civilizations make use of manual labour, free or unfree. This is because there are strong legal and cultural biases against a large degree of automation.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Used by the Federation as a means of social control. Anyone who starts having negative thoughts about the Federation is encouraged to go off and have sex to take them away.
  • Zerg Rush: The Ticks, being an unimaginably vast swarm of insects can easily overwhelm their enemies with numbers, to the point where energy weapons can run out of power before destroying a hive. The Federation also likes to overrun enemy positions with it's disposable clones.
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