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Webcomic / Cassiopeia Quinn

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Cassiopeia Quinn is a Webcomic written by Gunwild and drawn by Psudonym.

Cassiopeia Quinn is a space pirate renowned for her complete disregard for the rule of law, her own safety, and pants, who plunders everything from trinkets to whole starships with the help of her best friend, Zeke the robot cowboy. Captain Madison Vrax is a young, up-and-coming officer of the Prime Galactic Navy, currently at war with the honorable warrior race known as the Vanaa. Their first encounter spawns strange alliances, new friendships, and a pursuit across the galaxy. The universe will never be the same...

Cassiopeia Quinn contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Mr. Kwah, having seen a dramatized museum exhibit about one of its fellow vanaa sacking a human colony, says "My self enjoys this propaganda. It has good ideas."
  • Alien Catnip: Starch is to Vanaa what tobacco is to humans — it's even packaged similarly.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Aquarioon race mostly stay in their home ocean, but supposedly deploy a "planet guard" that protects worlds across the galaxy. Outsiders find this confusing, as the only Aquarioons that travel regularly are the all-female entertainment group the Doll-Fins. The Doll-Fins, for their part, find their jobs to be rather boring.
    Captain: Sisters! The Lavadon in this planet's mantle has broken loose once more! We dive into battle!
    Cascade: Ugh. Again?
    Glimmer: See? Nothing new ever happens!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Vanaa's alerts when their ship is being hacked.
    Comrades, do not enter the zoom tubes! They are zooming erroneously! Doors are closing on their own! My cup-holder has disengaged!
  • Badass Adorable:
    • The Vanaa are colorful, rounded blobs of living gelatin with short, stubby arms and very simplified faces. They're also far stronger and more durable than their squishy appearance would suggest and a civilization of skilled and honorable warriors.
    • Skriptkity, a hyper-intelligent cyber-organism-dealie-thing, capable of making mincemeat out of high-level security systems while talking like a lolcat.
  • Badass Bystander: Dr. Botz's duel with Vrax is cut short by the random Doggo civilian Botz was holding in her hand, who frees himself and incapacitates her. He's even immortalised in Vrax's "nearly-life-sized" statue.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Cass set up her casino heist by tricking security she was a legit technician in this manner.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: All over the place given the setting, but standouts include the Vanaa's jelly-based biology and Theira's species, whose members incorporate genetic material from their environment which is expressed through successive moultings. Since Theira's spent her whole life with/near humans, her biology is bizarre to her own species. Xerran puberty also tends to be delayed until strong romantic feelings are developed for someone and to be milder.
  • Bland-Name Product: Gel-Oh.
  • Blatant Lies: Paloma Feti claims that her basket-hilted Schiaviona is "purely ceremonial". This is very unconvincing, never mind that she's been shown duelling Vrax and chopping up numerous galactic criminals with it.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: That made with "Redshift Reaper" chilies. Ashley, being some sort of demon, absolutely loves it.
  • Cyborg: Cyborgs are very common in the setting, ranging from people with comparatively minor augmentations (such as Katya Kreuz's mechanical limbs) to much more heavily modified ones (such as Dr. Botz and her bevy of augmentations) to full-conversion 'borgs with only minor organic components left (such as Zeke and Motor Minx).
  • Code of Honour: A complex aversion, or possibly inversion, involving Madison Vrax. Vrax's cap was given to her by her former commanding officer, before he was killed in a Martyrdom Culture duel. Vrax inherited his post, making enemies in the process who arguably have a better claim to it. Vrax later meets her commander's opponent in a fencing tournament, where she inadvertently provokes her opponent to wound her before the signal to restart and so forfeit the tournament, followed by a brothers in arms handshake. The clear implication is that Vrax's self-restraint is superior to her opponent's Honour Before Reason attitude, but this is by no means universally agreed in-universe and doesn't address whether Vrax really is unsuitable for her post.
  • The Chooser of the One: Wrenn was tasked by her grandmother with continuing her work locating the lost ruler of the Xerran people, who is almost certainly Vrax.
  • Culture Police: A new faction among the Vanaa, who are seemingly responsible for restricting extra-cultural influences from influencing Vanaa civilization.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Ashley, one of the "space orphans" Cassiopeia takes a shine to, would be a perfectly ordinary Cheerful Child if it weren't for her purple skin and horns curling around her face. She's supposedly the daughter of some sort of demon lord from a horrifying Grimdark dimension.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Rathians, the terrifying-looking, four-eyed reptilian race to which Headhunter belongs, are actually descended from an entirely peaceful society, and Headhunter is clearly the exception rather than the rule.
  • Dem Bones: Apparently, the Vanaa naturally resemble humanoid skulls, and one, who revels in that, has what appears to be a hopefully fake skull floating around in his head.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Triterrans, a three-armed species, determine their social rank by which side they have more arms on. Having two right arms is seen as a sign of intelligence and strong morals, and affords a higher social standing; having two left arms is seen as a sign of a sinful nature, and results in ostracism and discrimination.
  • Feudal Future: Regency basically has aristocratic titles for its officers, especially the members of Admiralty such as Senchel (an Earl) and Toyn (a Duke).
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: Full-conversion cyborgs co-exist with Ridiculously Human Robots, with only the presence of limited organic material distinguishing them. The minor antagonist Dr. Karla Botz hopes to start a galactic robot uprising to dominate all organics, despite only being a cyborg herself. Notable examples include Zeke, who's pared down to a human brain in an otherwise purely mechanical body, and Motor Minx, who has a partly organic head and is entirely mechanical from the neck down.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The nefarious Headhunter has a scar across one of his eyes. Admiral Senchel, who has ambiguous goals but firmly supports Madison Vrax, has a face covered with what are presumably multiple Dueling Scars.
  • Good Versus Good: The story's main conflict is between Madison Vrax and Cassiopeia Quinn.
  • Government Conspiracy: There's more and more evidence showing up that there's a good deal of corruption in the upper ranks of the Regency, and that the corrupt individuals supplied Headhunter's operation of kidnapped scientists with resources, and maybe even manpower, with the prisoners Vrax took then being secreted away where she can't question them. Once she becomes aware of this, Vrax becomes rather despondent since her hands are tied by her strong senses of duty and honor, and later seems to decide to start working with Cass to take them down. It's eventually confirmed that Lord Admiral Toyn is paying Headhunter to build up a private army of mercenaries and actually try to win the good-natured, honor-governed conflict between the Regency and the Vanaa.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: As one of the main alien species can interbreed with humans to create cobalt blue-skinned hybrids, these are quite common — Madison Vrax, of course, is herself the most prominent example in the story. There's also Talps the Vanaa, who can shape her gelatinous body into a green and transparent humanoid form.
  • Had to Be Sharp: The Vanaa became a Proud Warrior Race because they were at the bottom of the food chain on their homeworld, and thus learning how to use weapons was rather essential.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Humans can interbreed with Xerrans to produce viable hybrids, and numerous characters — such as Madison and Kettlehead — are part Xerran themselves. In point of fact, almost every Xerran alive has at least traces of human ancestry by the comic's present.
  • Happily Adopted: Strongly implied with Madison Vrax. Ashley (the Space Orphan) is adopted in a mini arc.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Defied by this Doggo who rescues himself and Vrax.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Parodied:
    Theira: Gimme a gun that shoots straight, and I can blast a Terran Buffalo out from between its wings! (I'm thinking of the right animal, right?)
  • Human Aliens: The Xerrans. They were found in stasis in abandoned ships a few hundred years ago; no one, not even them or their hybrid descendants, knows where they're from. The initial theories of their origins were that they were either a lost colony of humans who genetically modified themselves or an alien race's attempt of creating a facsimile of human. Besides their coloration, though, they're able to interbreed with normal humans, to the point that it's uncertain in-setting if there are any non-hybrid Xerrans left, there are several physiological differences between Xerran and normal humans, which get less pronounced with further interbreeding, namely an inability to digest sugar without adverse side-effects, their secondary sexual characteristics have their development delayed until pair bonding is initiated (and their puberty tends to be milder in general, in addition to occurring later), and they tend to have a generally lower height and weight.
  • Implied Love Interest: It's vaguely hinted that Farring and Ison might have feelings for each other, with the latter asking the former to carry her back to the ship at the end of "Seat of Your Pants", and the two seeming to spend most of their time together when the crew is off-duty, but there are never any serious hints that they're anything more than good friends. In fact, the creators Lampshade this in a reply to a comment asking about their relationship, claiming that they prefer to leave the reader guessing.
  • In Medias Res: The comic begins with Cassiopeia floating in space amid a space battle between the Regency and the Vanaa Empire, having briefly blacked out after getting hit by stray debris. It turns out she's there to steal a Regency spaceship, though we don't learn this for several pages.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Theira's species, the Kyre, normally resemble gigantic, monstrous arthropods. However, they have remarkable ability to absorb the DNA of other species into their own, which is the reason Theria looks like a just-about-human Cute Monster Girl, having spent years in the proximity of humans and Xerran hybrids.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Fully-sentient machines are easily created in the setting, to the point that self-aware children's toys (Quinn's bee-bot) aren't at all uncommon.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Between Kettlehead, a human of Xerran descent, and Talps, a Vanaa.
    • Two of the racers, Skarf and Lark, likewise a three-armed alien and a Vanaa respectively.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Dr. Biter, a Doggo who acts as Paloma Feti's Science Officer, occasionally relies on Cookie (her Operations Officer) to carry him around, and refers to her as "Landing Vehicle". She doesn't exactly appreciate this.
  • Killer Rabbit: Farring initially holds this view towards all Vanaa, due to an encounter with the Old Salt. The latter's appearance in the race arc shows that this is not unsubstantiated. They also, like rabbits, were very low on the food chain before developing weapons.
  • Lilliputians: The planet in "Big Trouble" is populated by tiny dog-like people shorter than a human finger.
  • Little Bit Beastly: The tiny people from "Big Trouble" are a borderline example — they have canine ears and coloration.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Kettering and Talps maintain a romantic relationship despite being light-years apart most of the time.
  • Love at First Sight: Downplayed: while it's not immediate, Kettering and Talps appear to fall for each other after spending (at most) a few minutes together.
  • Ma'am Shock: Upon receiving a Mother's Day card from Ashley (alongside her adoptive mother and the caretaker of her orphanage), Cass is privately dismayed at the implication that she's too old to be considered a Cool Big Sis.
  • The Man Behind the Man: As it turns out, Lord Admiral Theophilius Toyn is the one giving Headhunter orders.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Botz, a recurring antagonist that has attempted to take control of multiple planets.
  • Mirroring Factions: The Regency (which is mostly composed of humans) and the Vanaa are at war because humans and Vanaa are fairly unique among space-faring races for being naturally inclined to conquest. It's a rare-but-consistent plot point that maintaining the codes of conduct and sense of diplomatic civility needed to keep the war largely bloodless takes a lot of work.
    Vanaa King: The typical Vanaa believes that we are in opposition to the humans because we are too different. Because our appearances are different. Because their reproduction is different. Because even their food can kill us. The truth is that we fight because we are so similar.
  • Mobile-Suit Human:
    • The Pelagians are aliens resembling miniature octopi who, due to their need to remain submerged in liquid ammonia, get around in aliens worlds by driving around androids where they floating in a tank of ammonia replacing the head. See here.
    • One of the bounty hunters seen during the Big Race chapter is a Vanaa with a suit of Powered Armor that resembles this, with their jelly body poking out the top as the "head". It also comes equipped with an ejector seat.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Green Men have four arms; Triterrans have three, two on one side and one on the others. One of the racers, a Triterran, uses two for driving and the third for a weapon.
  • Naughty Tentacles: Played for Laughs — when Old Salt's ship deploys several metallic tentacles to capture Quinn, this is her response (while grimacing). Nisa later makes a crack about Zeke being the only machine allowed to 'paw' Cassiopeia.
    "Oh, not tentacles! Seriously, no!"
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: The space war between the Prime Galactic Navy and the Vanaa is fought using robofighter drones with actual direct conflict and loss of life being rare. The losers of the battles are allowed to retreat with their enemies saluting them as worthy opponents. It's been noted a few times that maintaining the diplomatic connections, codes of conduct, and general sense of civility to keep the war from averting this trope hard is not easy.
  • No OSHA Compliance: In The Body-Snatchifiers Dr. Botz disapprovingly lampshades that a robotics lab she's being forced to work in averts this trope, complaining about how diabolical lairs shouldn't have things like railings or comply to fire codes. Ironically, she's defeated at the end of the chapter when Cass and Vrax shove her heavy, petrified body against a fragile glass railing, which shatters under Botz' weight and sends her plummeting into a chasm. Her last words are to hypocritically lament this same trope being played straight.
    Botz: Why wasn't this railing up to cooooooooooode?
  • Nose Art: Vrax's replacement ship, the Ophiotaurus-class bomber Cobalt Caroline, is decorated with the image of an attractive Xerran-hybrid woman on the right-hand side of the nose.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Maddie and Cassiopeia were both bright kids with dreams of going to space, and both applied to join the Regency naval academy. However, only Vrax had the right connections to get in — she lambasts this and remarks that they could have been friends in a different life.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Such behaviour is enforced by the Prime Galactic Navy through a strict Code of Honour, which (among other things) involves treating every enemy as a Worthy Opponent, and never allowing another to sully your reputation. 'Dishonorable' behaviour will get errant officers disciplined if they're lucky, and on the reciving end of a duel if they're not. They even enforce the 'gentleman' bit too, as all officers seemingly receive titles on commission, and rise in the hierarchy as they rank-upnote .
  • Official Couple: Cassiopeia and Zeke, though Cass will gladly flirt with just about anyone.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Downplayed with the Tournament Sword. Anyone can wield it, but when the rightful heir to the Xerran civilisation picks it up, hidden systems strip the patina of rust from its blade.
  • Open Secret: Cass is the silent partner of a public ice cream parlor run in the colony founded by Zeke's old android co-workers. It's a legitimately run business that she even pays taxes on.
    "You think I want them after me for a crime as boring as tax evasion?"
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Aquarioons are all-female, finned and aquatic humanoids who, being unable to come onto dry land, are permanently stuck in the water and unable to join in the air-breathers' adventures, instead always being stuck fighting against monstrous submarine creatures and whatnot.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Theria and Kettlehead seem to spend most of their free time gaming together, and Theria is an enthusiastic Shipper on Deck for his relationship with Talps.
  • Pronoun Trouble: The Vanaa apparently do not have pronouns in their native tongue. The proper use of first-person pronouns is a sign of eloquence among Vanaa.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Most of the headhunters and mercenaries hired to capture Quinn count (Old Salt is a notable exception). Clawlossus is a real standout, being a huge intelligent crab with good financial sense and terrible luck.
    Clawlossus: THIS IS TERRIBLE DAY!
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter:
    • The Vanaa are a species of adorable jelly blob creatures. However, their cute appearance can be deceiving due to their military prowess.
    • The Doggo are a species of miniscule puppy-like aliens allied with the Prime Galactic Navy. After Vrax saves them from becoming the slaves of Dr. Botz, they repay her with an "almost life-size" statue - which only really comes up to her knee. Apparently, similar cute statuary is one of their main cultural exports.
  • Robosexual: Multiple characters, including Cass, Dr. Botz, and Motor Minx's girlfriend Penny, have consistently show sexual and/or romantic attraction towards robots and full-conversion cyborgs.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Alina "Cupcake" Ison comes from a planet of peace, prosperity and politeness.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The dynamic between the considerably calmer, level-headed Zeke and the hyperactive Quinn.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker:
    • Averted; Vrax wants her crew to do this when Quinn takes her hostage. They refuse as protocol dictates that her life is too valuable to risk and they abandon the ship for Quinn to take.
    • Upheld; The next time an event like this happens, Vrax has already set standing orders for them to take the shot.
  • Shout-Out: All over the place.
    • The Alt Text present for all strips consists of quotes taken from a variety of science fiction stories.
    • The gelatin blobs the Vanaa are seen eating in one page include one containing a tiny metroid.
    • When asked how many famous "space people" she's met, Cassiopeia recalls an encounter with the Fourth Doctor, is one of the bounty hunters present when Darth Vader sent them after the Millennium Falcon and stealing scientific secrets while witnessing an argument between Hakubi Washu, Rick Sanchez and Doctor Farnsworth.
    • This page is a giant Where's Waldo? of sci-fi references, with people visible in the casino crowd including a krogan, Farseer Taldeer, Lilo & Stitch and Hedonism Bot.
    • When fighting Dr. Botz on a planet of Lilliputians where the buildings come up to their shoulders at best, Theira lets out a loud Skreeonk.
    • When the orphan kids are tasked by their teacher with selecting a book for class study, Nisa picks The Lord of the Rings, which she mistakes for a historical novel.
    • The "Smug Magazine" title page for Party All The Time references "Silverhand remixes".
    • One of the alien species present in the galaxy is the Green Men, Ares tarkas, four-armed, tusked, green-skinned humanoids from Barsoom.
  • Space "X": In one strip, Cassiopeia refers to a group of orphans she's hosting on her ship as "space orphans". Her conversation partner remarks that, given how they all live in space anyway, she can just call them orphans.
    Cassiopeia: Well, that just sounds depressing.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Talps and Kettering, no thanks to Krad's meddling.
  • Stripperific: Not just Cassiopeia Quinn, many outlaws in the comic's universe tend to wear less clothing.
    Madison: And here you are, gambling the proceeds away in a game of... strip poker!
    Dealer: Actually the gentleman and lady entered dressed that way.
  • Strip Poker: Misdiagnosed by Madison Vrax. When she discovers Cassiopeia Quinn and Luc Antoine Duchance Lefyne playing poker in very little clothing, she assumes she wandered into a game of strip poker. The dealer quickly corrects her.
  • Tempting Fate: It's something of a Running Gag that, whenever a character comments on how things are going pretty well right now or it's smooth sailing from then on, something bad will happen and the more Genre Savvy characters will berate them for it.
  • Theme Naming: Madison Vrax's Operations officer is nicknamed "Cupcake". Paloma Feti's is nicknamed "Cookie".
  • Third-Person Person: Kag always speaks in the third person.
  • Visual Pun: Cassiopeia decides to operate the medical craft's interface — which is intended for Vanaa — using her butt. As the chapter's title put it, she's literally flying by the seat of her pants.