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Webcomic / Alice Grove

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Alice Grove is a webcomic by Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content, focusing on a woman named Alice. She's regarded as a "witch" by the locals in her small unnamed town, meaning she's highly respected and sometimes revered as a miracle worker. One day, after falling from a wind turbine she was working on, she's called to a nearby farm to deal with a strange occurrence: a nearly naked young man with pointed ears, blue skin and a tail, has appeared in a field, fast asleep. This strange man, Ardent, is soon joined by his sister Gavia, who is extremely pale and red-eyed, and floats in the air thanks to nanomachines.

The story's first chapters have little in the way of action, mainly focusing on character interaction and a small amount of world-building. Little exposition is given before the end of chapter two. A possible central conflict is revealed in chapter three, where things suddenly take a more dramatic turn.

Be aware that the comic overall is more or less Safe For Work, but a few pages near the end of the fourth chapter feature uncensored female nudity, and there are a handful of scenes of fairly bloody violence.

The comic started in September 2014, and concluded July 20, 2017.

Alice Grove contains examples of:

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    A - E 
  • Action Prologue: The comic opens with a man running along a dirt road, until he sees a woman at the top of a wind turbine. She climbs down, but her rope snaps, and she falls...
  • After the End: The setting is a post-post-apocalyptic Earth, millennia after a horrific war was "blinked" to an end. There are rustic towns in existence, with some level of electrical technology. Flora has largely reclaimed the apocalyptic landscape as well, but Alice notes that you don't have to look too far to find remnants of the war: there are plenty of nearly circular lakes all over the landscape that were explosion craters, and rubble can be found pretty much anywhere if you dig for it.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: There is supposed to be one between the surface and orbiting habitats, but Ardent somehow got around it, and Gavia went after him. Alice speculates they may have been deliberately sent there to meddle... until the Praeses-envoy the group finally encounters asks Ardent how he managed to do it...
  • Alien Sky: An unusually subtle one. The night sky looks like ours, except for two major factors: there's no light pollution, and the craters on the moon are wrong. It's Earth, but several thousand years in the future.
  • All for Nothing: Both Alice and Jesper. Alice's efforts to keep her town low-tech in order to prevent another war is invalidated by the Praeses' escapees "awakening" humanity within a few years, while Jesper's plan to bully the Praeses into helping him uplift humanity is rendered moot by those same escapees doing exactly what he'd hoped for... which he doesn't even learn about before Alice kills him.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Sedna rips off her own arm to stab Church with the protruding bone.
  • And I Must Scream: Subverted. Alice's threat to Sedna about burying her in molten magma? Turns out she actually did that to Church at some point before the Blink. He managed to break out, but it took thousands of years to do so, and he apparently still holds a grudge.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Sedna's trying to shoot Alice, Alice first busts the SMG, then a sniper cannon, a bazooka, a minigun, and a musket.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Averted, despite the Transhuman Aliens with nanotech running around. Gavia's first response to the idea of an intelligent machine is that it's impossible, and Alice doesn't argue with her. The A.I.s vanished when the world was reborn, and nobody knows where they went or why.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Praeses give Sedna a new plant based arm after she uses her old one to kill Church.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Alice and Church are able to exchange several punches in micro-gravity. Church also talks for the first time in a vacuum. Ultimately justified in that Alice and Church are both Maxwell's Demons, able to displace the effects of physics upon their body to the inside of a black hole at will.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Alice thinks that the A.I.s did this, used their new abilities to cause the Blink, and later gave Ardent his abilities as a form of reparations to help get mankind to a higher technology level again.
  • As You Know: Notably averted. Alice, Gavia and Ardent talk about Praeses, nanotechnology, and other concepts from the alien society with complete familiarity, leaving us to catch up.
  • The Atoner: Alice feels guilt for the terrible things she's done in the past, and is currently doing everything she can to protect her town.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Gavia never walks, always flying with her nanomachines. When she actually tries to escape something, she can't do better than a fast walking pace.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Without even having to do anything! Jesper Pate's attempt to strongarm the Praeses into helping him uplift humanity is rendered pointless, since the individuals that escaped from the Praeses are going to do what he wanted, anyway. Too bad he's too dead to appreciate it...
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Alice, Sedna and Church can all survive unprotected in orbit due to their abilities.
  • Beat It by Compulsion: Gavia taking Jesper hostage stops Church in part due to his compulsion to serve, installed to keep soldiers like him in line.
  • Berserk Button: Do not threaten, much less attack, Alice's town.
  • BFG: Sedna's favorite kind of weapon. Turns out that, since maintaining machinery and doing mechanical work is her programmed compulsion, finding and fixing old guns is her personal means of channeling it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The main characters all survive, and humanity will regain its technological standing due to the infection the Praeses escapees are spreading, but Alice has decided to leave Earth.
  • Blob Monster: At the end of ch. 6, the Praeses creates an envoy for Alice and the others to communicate with by dripping a big blop of something like sap into the chamber which forms into a green-skinned humanoid calling itself Laridia.
  • Breather Episode: This one follows immediately after a very mysterious set of comics involving a sentient cloud of creepy nanomachines, eyeless deer, disturbing carnivorous plants, and a cryptic revelation.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: After learning about Ardent and Gavia, one of the rocket archaeologists gets so excited and full of questions she loses control, metaphorically.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Almost literally, when Sedna kills Church, established as a considerably more powerful Humanoid Abomination than her or Alice, using her own severed arm as a weapon.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Gavia after losing her nanotech, though she's still not a baseline human, as demonstrated when she gives herself an insta-tan to avoid sunburn. She eventually regains her powers and then some.
  • But Now I Must Go: Alice decides that she's going to leave Earth before humanity enters its next stage.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Alice suspects Ardent may be intended to cause them. He has apparently been given a nanite payload that hyper-advances some technology. Alice suspects this was done by the Praeses to create resource imbalances that will ultimately lead to conflict.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Alice and Church sport inhumanly large and creepy grins when they are openly at their least human.
  • Complete Immortality: Alice demonstrates that she is apparently ageless, and tanks a lethally high fall off a wind turbine generator, a direct hit from a fireball, and a bullet to the eye with only mildly vulgar annoyance. Same with Sedna and Church; the latter even survived (well, physically at least) being entombed in hardened magma for who knows how many years. It's eventually revealed that this is due to the three of them being able to ignore the laws of physics due to their powers.
  • Cry Laughing: Alice does this as the horror of learning that all of humanity may evolve to a state similar to Ardent within a few years, nullifying her efforts for hundreds of years to keep her town low tech in an effort to avoid another war like the one she fought in truly sinks in.
  • Deface of the Moon: Not all of the moon's new craters are due to natural impacts. The Night Walker uses Gavia's nanotech to blast a new crater, and Alice later says that she somehow produced at least one up there as well.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: Ellie at the end of chapter five after being brutally killed by Mr. Church.
  • Demonic Possession: Subverted; Gavia suffers what appears to be a high-tech nanite version of this at the metaphorical hands of the Night Walker, but it eventually just removes her nanotech and leaves, blasting a new crater in the moon in the process.
  • Depower: Happens to Gavia, when the Night Walker strips away and absorbs her nanotech, then apparently zaps itself to the moon. Thanks to some tech on board the Ardent-boosted spaceship, she gets better.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Ardent came down to the Earth's surface without doing the proper research. Alice eventually speculates it wasn't really his idea to come at all, but that he's an unknowing pawn. This is later confirmed, though he's not the pawn of the Praeses, as believed.
    • Alice's "plan" to sneak away from the rocket-diggers camp ends with them still in the camp, Sedna badly injured and Ellie dead.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • While Gavia intentionally avoids harming anyone with her fake "attack" on the town, she really does try to kill Alice, even as Alice is trying to negotiate, solely because she thinks Alice looks scary. This is before Alice is revealed to be anything more than a normal human.
    • Alice threatens to publicly beat the shit out of a townsman because he "disrespected" her by questioning her wisdom of bringing Gavia back into town.
  • The Dreaded: Mister Church. Alice is scared of him, and with good reason, as he has the same abilities as her, down to the suit of armor, and is apparently even faster and stronger than her.
  • Elective Mute: Jesper's bodyguard Mr. Church can talk, but seems to choose not to. Until, oddly, he and Alice are fighting in the vacuum of Earth orbit and it's revealed what Alice did to him in pre-Blink times.
  • Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn: Averted; to keep from getting one, Gavia gives herself an instant tan, revealing that even without her nanotech, she's still more than a baseline human.
  • Emotion Control: The people who made Sedna, Alice, and Church built failsafes into them, compulsions that can be used to control them. For Sedna, who wasn't a front-line fighter but a support class, fixing up old guns is enough, but Alice and Church were given a need to serve. Church fills this need by serving his boss Jesper, who was, in Sedna's words, the most ruthless fucker of his town, while Alice manages to get around this by serving everybody.
  • Enchanted Forest: These surround the town where Ardent and Gavia land. They're full of such things as giant carnivorous plants, large flightless birds, eyeless deer that see heat, and an enormous nanotech construct.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Everything in the forest outside of Alice's little town, apparently. When the three take a sojourn out of the town, a "bat-sloth" creature lands on Ardent's head and Alice pre-emptively kills it in between pages, then details how it'd eat Ardent's face. Later he almost gets eaten by a giant chameleon, requiring Gavia to kill it with her nanofire. There's also the giant nanocloud Night Walker which initially is just eerie but turns out to be even more dangerous.
  • Exact Words: Amos considers peanut butter to be the secret to his longevity. As he later says, that doesn't mean he likes it.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • The first time Alice summons her armor, the helmet cuts off her ponytail.
    • Gavia and Sedna on the last page, illustrating the passage of time before everyone parts ways.
  • Eye Colour Change: Whenever Alice's type of Super-Soldier really manifests their power, their eyes turn blood red.
    • Sedna's eyes do this during her and Alice's fight, and when she takes out Church inside the Praeses.
    • Church's eyes go red just before he attacks Ellie and while he's fighting Alice.
    • Alice's eyes change just before she attempts to kill Jesper and during her fight with Church in the Praeses. Her left eye stays red afterward, possibly as a side effect of the damage Church did to her face in the fight.
  • Eye Scream:
    • When Church starts to crush Alice's face, her left eye visibly moves out of the socket.
    • Although it's in silhouette, Sedna appears to stab Church through the eye socket with her arm bone.

    F - J 
  • Face Death with Dignity: Ardent calmly accepts his fate when Alice decides he needs to be killed to stop his nanite upgrade effect (though she can't go through with it).
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jesper. He initially comes off as quite calm and reasonable but when he and Church catch Sedna and Alice trying to escape the gloves come off.
  • Fish out of Water: Ardent evidently didn't do enough (or indeed any) research on local culture before coming down from space. Case in point: his reaction to getting slapped in the face by a local girl? "Jeez, I only asked if she wanted to fuck!" Alice feels the slap was justified.
  • Flash Step: Alice's attempt to kill Jesper happens in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, Church moves between them and catches her wrist before she can land the blow.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ardent and Gavia, respectively. Ardent is a blithe idiot who wanted a vacation down with the primitives (somehow circumventing the all-seeing Praeses' non-interference clause with the surface), while Gavia is the fretful grouser who wants to get off the planet and back into their utopia (with her miscreant brother Ardent in tow).
  • Galactic Conquerer: Jesper wishes that humanity was colonizing the galaxy instead of stagnating on Earth.
  • Glass Cannon: Gavia throws around some big booms but folds quickly once Alice starts hitting her. Subverted as the booms were more sound and fury than anything else. No one got more than minor injuries.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Despite her status as the town's miracle worker and protector, Alice takes an almost disturbing delight in attacking, and later just creeping out Gavia. It stands out because she almost never smiles except for these moments. Also a moment where she cheerfully tells a group of children that if they had persisted in attacking Gavia they would have been horribly burned to death.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Ellie meets an unfortunate end after attacking Mr Church. All we see is an arm, a pipe and a lot of blood.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: When Church starts to attack after Gavia's blade in Jesper's chest vanishes, Sedna tears off her own right arm and then breaks it in two, stripping most of the flesh off to leave the broken bone exposed. She catches up to Church and stabs him through the neck, then apparently drives the bone into his head.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Gavia tends to treat every problem as a flammable nail to be incendiarily hammered.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Alice and Church's type of Super-Soldier were given a compulsive desire to serve, which the latter fills via his boss and the former by serving everyone.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Ardent has one which is at least good enough to regrow his tail when it's severed.
    • Gavia's nanites may give her one too, as she recovered from Alice's savage beating quite quickly. Whether or not this would've remained once her nanotech was removed was never revealed, as she was repowered while the group was in space.
    • After being injured by Church, Sedna tells Gavia that "[they] heal really fast." She wears a sling on her arm for a bit, but quickly sheds it, far sooner than someone who had their shoulder crushed would. Alice recovers from having her face partially crushed by Church in a matter of minutes, and Sedna survives tearing her own arm off and the resulting massive blood loss, although it takes her a few minutes to regain consciousness and the arm doesn't regrow.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted; Sedna appears to succumb to blood loss after killing Church but is shown to be regaining consciousness a few minutes later.
  • Human Aliens: Gavia looks like a red-eyed, pale-skinned human. Because she is one. Ardent looks different because he's modified himself.
  • Humanoid Abomination: As Alice notes, she, Sedna, and Church have been turned into variants of Maxwell's Demon—they have somehow been quantum-entangled with black holes in order to shunt their personal entropy into them. What this means practically is that the laws of physics are "optional" to them.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Unlike Ardent and Gavia's abilities/traits, Alice's abilities go completely unexplained for a large stretch of the comic, besides the hints that she was a Super-Soldier of some sort. Finally explained as her being quantum-locked into a state where normal physics do not apply to her. See the Humanoid Abomination example above for more details.
  • Instant Armor: Alice has the ability to summon a suit of sentai-esque armor in the blink of an eye. It has the side-effect of chopping off her hair beyond a certain length. Church also shares this ability; Sedna reveals that she was only meant for a support role, so she may not be able to do this like they can.
  • Jerkass: Ardent doesn't understand the culture he landed in, but Gavia makes zero attempts to even try, adopting a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. It's telling that between the blue guy and the mostly-human girl, some local kids thought Gavia was the demon.
    Alice: All right, fine, it's true, she's not a demon. She's an asshole.
    Kids: Ohhhh...
    Gavia: Hey!

    K — O 
  • Left Hanging: The rapid resolution of the comic's main arc and abrupt Time Skip ending left a lot of dangling plot threads and unanswered questions about the characters and setting.
  • Loophole Abuse: Alice deals with her compulsion to serve by serving everyone instead of a single master.
  • Lost Technology: It steadily becomes clear that the town Alice lives near is surrounded by the products of genetic engineering and very old nanotechnology. The town's inhabitants could be mistaken for living in the modern day, although in a very rural, even backwoods way (Alice mentions making Gavia clean her outhouse at one point). Ellie's settlement is attempting to recover tech via archeological digging.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Ardent's tail is severed almost to the base of his spine during Gavia's "attack", but he doesn't notice until it's pointed out. Apparently his pain receptors shut down almost immediately. Later, it grows back.
  • Nano Machines:
    • Gavia uses them to fly, create force fields, and similar.
    • "The Night Walker" is a giant swarm of nanites that assemble into a humanoid-shaped cloud to stare at the moon at night, retreating to shade in the forest in daytime. It eventually turns out it can infect and take over Gavia's resident nanites, and eventually removes them from Gavia before apparently departing Earth for the moon, or at least blasting a new crater in the lunar surface.
    • Ardent unknowingly carries nanites that can radically upgrade least, that's the best available theory.
  • Never Was This Universe: The setting initially appears to be a modern, fairly backwoods New England town. It's actually thousands of years in the future and after an event known as The Blink, in which most technology was eliminated and a number of other changes were made.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Alice gives one to Gavia after she attacks the village.
    • Gavia starts to give one to Ardent after she wakes up from the coma she was in after losing her nanotech, but only gets in a couple of good punches before passing out.
    • Mr. Church, Jesper's Alice-level bodyguard, administers a fatal one to Ellie, and gives one to Alice when they fight in space after locating one of the Praeses, coming within a second or two of killing her before being stopped by Gavia.
  • No Name Given:
    • The town Alice is guarding at the start of the story.
    • Jesper's bodyguard, finally revealed to be Church.
  • No Place for Me There: Alice says that being around when humanity enters its next phase wouldn't be good for them, and decides to leave Earth.
  • No-Sell:
    • Gavia fireballs Alice. Alice is unfazed. Gavia then throws up a forcefield. Alice punches straight through it.
    • Sedna's fusillade does nothing beyond anger Alice...which may have been Sedna's intent from the get-go.
    • Par for the course, Jesper's stoic silent bodyguard was completely unfazed by Ellie hitting him forcefully enough in the head with a metal pipe that the pipe was bent...because he's just like Alice and Sedna.
  • Noodle Incident: Alice is briefly mentioned as doing several things, like settling a dispute, stopping a con man, and creating a new crater on the moon.
  • Odd Friendship: Maybe "friendship" isn't exactly the right word, but Jesper gives absolutely no reason to have earned Mr. Church's vigilant protection. It's later revealed that it's due to Church's programmed compulsion to serve.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Alice is very startled by the big, emotionless gray-haired guy with heterochromic eyes who accompanied Jesper to the dig site. Sedna is just as startled when Alice describes him as "our level bad news."
    • Sedna has a moment while she contemplates how to sabotage Jesper's motorized carriage in the dead of night so they can't pursue our heroes... only to have said big guy loom up behind her.
    • This pretty much becomes Jesper's default expression starting from the moment when an abruptly repowered Gavia incinerates their spaceship while in orbit, and later plants an energy blade in his chest that will kill him if Gavia wills its phase to change. He gets back some of his arrogance when Gavia's plan falls through, but it vanishes again after seeing Sedna grievously injure herself in order to kill Church, and Alice turns her attention back to him after recovering from being badly hurt by Church.
    • Alice's wide-eyed reaction when she puts two and two together about the people from the other Praeses with the same abilities as Argent.
      Of course. Spread enough seeds and eventually you get a forest.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Gavia wrecks a giant chameleon that tried to eat her brother Ardent.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Praeses. They are obviously some kind of authority and/or habitat for the alien/orbiting society, but even having now seen they look like giant space-going trees we know almost nothing about them. They have stranded Ardent and Gavia for reasons unknown after possibly dispatching them in the first place as dupes with a hidden agenda, are theoretically unfoolable, and are explicitly not AI. The reveal that Ardent and Gavia's Praeses doesn't know how they got to Earth adds another layer of mystery.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At one point, Ardent is so worried about Gavia that he apparently fails entirely to notice the topless woman standing next to him.

    P - T 
  • Pastoral Science Fiction: The initial setting for the webcomic where Alice is fixing up windmills to give her community solar power. All the seemingly supernatural elements are rooted in (admittedly advanced) science.
  • Plant Aliens: The first description we have of the Praeses is "Talking Trees," and every Praesis Gavia calls out for is named for a genus or family of trees. When we finally see one, it looks like a rootless tree at least the size of a major city. It's eventually revealed to be Ardent and Gavia's home Praeses, called Cupressaceae, which happens to be the name of the family that cypress trees come from. Later, Laridia reveals that the Praeses travel space as seedlings, "taking root" on planets with life and creating inner realities based on that life.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Alice might very well be able to become one, as she tells Gavia that she'd personally see that any invasion on the Praeses' orders would suffer horrific losses. Everyone in her little town seem to just be baseline human and probably not a match against transhuman invaders. When she's trying to nerve herself up to kill Ardent she has flashbacks to a burning city and mass graves full of human bodies, with the implication she was responsible.
  • Planimal: Sedna casually mentions that she can photosynthesize in a pinch.
  • Playing with Fire: Gavia is very quick to bust out the nano-fire.
  • Pocket Dimension: Each Prases hosts multiple realities, ontologically identical to the main one (Jesper calls them simulations, but the Praeses's avatar says that the term doesn't do it justice. This reveal appears to surprise Ardent and Gavia, causing the latter to stop materializing the blade holding Jesper at bay.
  • Powered by a Black Hole: Alice and the other Super Soldiers like her are quantum entangled with black holes to fuel their strength, speed, and toughness. She invokes this in its reveal to Jesper:
    Alice: We are Maxwell's Demons. We are powered by black holes, and the laws of physics are optional for us.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Alice says that most of the 6 billion human deaths and 200 million AI deaths in the pre-Blink war were because of her before killing Jesper.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Alice is very protective about her little town of baseline humans, and may very well be more transhuman than either Gavia or Ardent, considering she's nigh-invulnerable and ancient. It is eventually revealed she has a built-in compulsion to serve, and satisfies it by serving "everybody".
  • Prone to Sunburn: Averted. You'd expect Gavia to not be able to handle the sun with her pale skin, but her ability to darken her skin avoids this problem.
  • Protagonist Title: Alice is the main character of Alice Grove, but the "Grove"'s significance was never revealed, as neither she nor the town ever used it.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Jesper's efforts to talk to the Praeses only ends up getting him and Church killed, and his goal of lifting humanity up would have happened regardless of what he did thanks to the nano-tech infection Ardent and the other Praeses inhabitants are spreading on Earth.
  • Reality Warper: Alice, Sedna and Church, on account of their being able to ignore the laws of physics thanks to being quantum-entangled with black holes.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Due to their powers, Alice, Sedna, and Church have been alive since well before the Blink, which is more or less revealed to have happened at least 5000 years in the past.
    • The Night Walker is thousands of years old according to Alice, who's been observing it for a looooong time.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
  • Reset Button: Apparently done in-universe thousands of years ago with the highly mysterious Blink.
  • Running Gag: "Weird dog!"
  • Shrouded in Myth: Alice is known as a "Witch", which for the local people appears to mean something like "miracle worker". There are apparently rumors she can make the sun go out. Given her Humanoid Abomination nature, it's no wonder that the locals would see her physics-defying feats as magic.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: When Alice decrees that Ardent must die to prevent his subversive nano-payload from wreaking any more havok, her past traumatic memories from the war before the Blink all come rushing back, and she can't follow through because she'd be killing another innocent.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Alice's and Sedna's relationship has shades of this dynamic. Sedna is introduced trying to shoot Alice with a variety of hoarded weapons, but they share Sedna's bed a little later in the chapter, with Sedna only clad in panties, and at the very end of the comic they part on friendly terms. The precise nature of their relationship is never revealed.
    Gavia: I bet they're sisters.
    Ardent: I bet they used to be a couple.
    Sedna and Alice: IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Alice gets a rather creepy one when she gains the upper hand in her fight with Gavia.
    • The expression on Church's face turns to one when he takes a pipe upside the head without flinching and his right eye goes red like Sedna's eyes did. Considering his completely neutral expression up to that point, it's very unnerving. It comes back when he attacks Alice while they're in space, and when he is lunging at her again after Gavia's nano-blade in Jesper's chest goes away.
    • Alice explaining her nature to Jesper is downright terrifying.
  • Small, Secluded World: The town is looking more and more like one; the inhabitants live in a relatively modern lifestyle surrounded by Lost Technology. Although it turns out there are other settlements around, including one that excavates for rocket technology.
  • Smug Snake: Jesper is a complete douche who has no problem with using Church as his tool to enforce his will. However, as noted above under Oh, Crap!, the moment things stop going his way his facade crumbles, and especially when Gavia puts his life in her hands. Although he does recover some of his arrogance once he's no longer floating unprotected in orbit but it goes away very quickly when Church is apparently killed by Sedna and Alice confronts him with her true nature.
  • Solitary Sorceress: Alice is called a witch, lives on her own in the woods, and chooses to help people with her special powers.
  • Speech Bubbles: Normal except for the only one from Church, whose text is written in an ugly, distorted font to indicate that something is very wrong with him.
  • Speech Impediment: The town elder Amos has a mild stutter.
  • Super-Toughness: Alice falls from a windmill without getting a scratch. Later, she is caught in an explosion and even her clothes aren't harmed. Later still, she walks through a hail of bullets as though they were nothing more than driving rain; even a direct hit to the eye does little more than sting, and the eye isn't even bloodshot afterward. This turns out to also be the case for the two others like her she later encounters; the only thing shown so far to be able to hurt any of them is each other.
  • Super-Soldier: Alice, Sedna, and Church are eventually revealed to be these in the wars prior to the Blink. Sedna was a support type instead of a frontline fighter, and Church's role is (so far) unknown, as he's stronger and faster than even Alice.
  • Takes One to Kill One: The only thing that can hurt someone as enhanced as Alice and Sedna is someone just like them, and Church is very capable of this, as he amply demonstrates. This goes both ways; Sedna's last-ditch self-mutilation provides the means to kill Church. Alice is amused that Sedna figured this out and she never did.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Alice and Sedna don't seem to get along at first (Sedna especially seems to dislike Alice for some reason) but they end up traveling together with Gavia and Ardent to find out why the siblings are there, and Alice shows obvious concern for Sedna after Church injures her.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: How Ardent, and presumably Gavia, arrived in town.
  • There Is Another: Every Praeses has had someone disappear to Earth, presumably with the same nano-tech package Ardent has.
  • These Hands Have Killed:
    • Gavia is a bit shaken up after she had to kill a giant chameleon creature that was trying to eat Ardent.
    • Part of Alice's PTSD is that she has this sentiment as well to the tune of millions of A.I.s and billions of human casualties.
  • Time Abyss:
    • The Night Walker, an enormous shadowy figure that strides through the forests. It's apparently very ancient nanotechnology, old enough that it's implied to remember when the moon looked different.
    • Both Alice and Sedna. Alice remembers the horrific wars that preceded the Blink and learned the age of the Night Walker through "years of observation and experimentation." Sedna later says that she's known Alice for 5,000 years.
    • Mr. Church is eventually revealed to be another super soldier like Alice, who she buried deep in a magma pit during the pre-Blink era, but somehow escaped a long time afterward.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Ardent and Gavia learn that their home is an alternate reality created by the Praeses.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Subverted with Amos, who says that peanut butter is the secret to his longevity, then reveals that he doesn't actually like the stuff.
  • Transhuman Aliens: Gavia and Ardent, and possibly Alice until Laridia describes Alice, Sedna, and Church as "radically engineered ancient humaniforms", implying that they were baseline humans before they received their powers.
  • Tree Vessel: The Praeses are vast, tree-like organisms of unknown origin who host civilizations of Transhumans in orbit above Earth. The climax reveals that the colonies and colonists are a virtual reality simulated by the Praeses, who have forgotten where they came from and why.

    U - Z 
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody bats an eye at Ardent when he walks around town, because Alice is with him.
    Alice: You're with me. That means you're none of their business.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Maybe. Alice suspects the transhuman siblings were used by one or more Praeses. Gavia was meant to hold Alice's attention, while Ardent unknowingly carried a nanomachine payload that hyper-advances any technology that fits certain parameters. Alice suspects the Praeses still have ideological bones to pick over leaving Earth alone, and may have done so to disturb the delicate balance Alice has achieved in resource management. The ultimate goal would be for resource imbalance to lead to conflict. At least one Praeses is claiming it didn't send them and has no idea how it happened and then its agent reveals that all the Praeses orbiting Earth have had someone escape to Earth.
  • The Virus: Ardent's abilities are the result of transmissible nano-scale machines, and though their effects are dormant in the ones it didn't originate from, they will presumably activate after a critical mass of humanity is infected.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ardent (mostly) only wears his red boxer briefs.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Jesper believes that human society has been stagnating on Earth since the Blink and wants to get the Praeses to help him pull humanity out of its current Medieval Stasis. Alice coldly puts paid to his ambitions once she can freely confront him.
    Alice: The last time [humans] had a purpose, 200 million artificial intelligences and 6 billion humans died. That was with minds far greater than yours in charge.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter five ends with Jesper's bodyguard Mr. Church injuring Sedna and messily killing Ellie.
  • What Could Have Been: In-Universe, the Praeses-simulated reality Gavia and Ardent come from apparently is what Earth might have been if scarcity could have been dealt with and the pre-Blink war never happened.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Alice is, simply put, bored. The transhuman siblings Gavia and Ardent are probably the most interesting thing that's happened to her in a long time.
  • Wrench Wench:
    • Alice, who is first encountered working on a windmill.
    • Sedna reveals that her mental compulsion is based on fixing machinery, which she channels into guns.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Gavia is horrified to discover that her way home isn't working, so she and Ardent are stuck on the surface indefinitely. They eventually find a working spaceship and return to orbit.
    • Until Ardent's infection is confirmed to be benign, he and Gavia can't return to their old reality.