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Webcomic / Outsider

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Clockwise from bottom: Alex Jardin, Tempo, Beryl, and Fireblade.
"... The war had reached a stage where neither side would tolerate the continued existence of the other, and the allies of the loser could not expect much in the way of gentle treatment from the victor. We had to pick a winner. Humanity needed answers, and fast".

Written and drawn by Jim Francis, Outsider relates the adventures of Ensign Second Class Alexander Jardin, sole survivor of ECS-154 Bellarmine, and his interactions with his rescuers as the titular Fish out of Water. Discovering that humanity is uncomfortably close to a genocidal war between the Loroi and Umiak races, the Terran Colonial Authority dispatches a scouting mission to gather better information about both sides. When Bellarmine is destroyed by an unknown vessel in a contested system, Jardin is rescued by a Loroi warship... and promptly finds himself thrown in at the deep end of interstellar diplomacy.

While Outsider has suffered some Schedule Slip since its creation, the art is well-realized and Francis has put an admirable amount of forethought into crafting his universe and its internal logic.


This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship:
    • In the prologue, after Jardin and Ellen report in about Bellarmine being crippled, their superior in the damage control team decides to give an abandon ship order. However, this is for naught when the next strike blows up Bellarmine's aft section, throwing Jardin out into space and killing the rest of the crew.
    • In the wake of the first Umiak assault after Jardin is recovered, Stillstorm grants Torrent's captain permission to give an abandon ship order for the destroyer Thunderbolt, as it's pretty much dead in space due to battle damage.
  • Air Vent Escape: Lampshaded when Jardin, early in his confinement on the Loroi warship, ruefully notes the absence of convenient airways to escape through.
  • Alien Blood:
    • Soia-Liron species, such as the Loroi and Barsam, have blue, copper-based blood.
    • The Umiak have black blood, revealed when Jardin sees some dead Umiak in one corridor of their ship.
  • All There in the Manual: Francis has written a number of supporting articles detailing the Outsider universe, including many things the readers know (yet Jardin doesn't) or vice versa.
  • Backseat Driver: Talon snaps a bit at Jardin as he's asking questions while she's concentrating on piloting the shuttle to try to get away from the torpedoes closing in on them.
    This shuttle does not fly from the rear seat, enzin!
  • Beam Spam: Loroi ships' primary weapons are powerful beam cannons which they employ en masse against Umiak vessels, along with batteries of smaller laser cannons for point defense against torpedo attacks. Apparently most long-range offensive weapons are beam weapons, though the Umiak have shorter ranges on their beams and prefer the Macross Missile Massacre method.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Umiak. It should be noted, however, that they aren't true arthropods — biologically, they're closer to mammals with exoskeletons, and that's before their heavy self-modification. It's also a weakness of theirs; they don't like higher gravity worlds, since they weigh down their exoskeletons.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction:
    • Almost ninety percent of the Loroi species are female (and, apparently, all of them are hotties of one stripe or another), and their reproductive biology has some quirks.
    • Reproductively speaking, the Umiak have genetically, surgically and cybernetically altered themselves so much that nobody's really sure how or whether they reproduce naturally.
    • The Barsam are hermaphrodites who do not engage in traditional copulation. To reproduce, they regurgitate and exchange egg-like gamete sacks, which they then swallow to impregnate themselves.
    • The Pipolsid, a species of radially symmetrical and vaguely jellyfish-like creatures, reproduce by budding.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Downplayed. Male and female Loroi don't look drastically different from each other (aside from the obvious), but female Loroi average at around 170cm (5'7") in height while male Loroi are much shorter. A tall Loroi male rarely gets over five feet, with most being far below that, although apparently they're more even size-wise with human men in... other areas. Because of this size difference, as well as only making up about 10% of the population, Loroi men are viewed as a weaker sex in need of protection by the Amazon Brigade.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
    • A big problem for humanity in deciding which faction to join: the Umiak are imperialistic and enslave everybody in sight to feed their demand for ships and munitions, while the Loroi have twice committed xenocide against neutral or Umiak-aligned species. This contrast is brought up by Capt. Hamilton when he's interviewing Jardin, who would support joining with the Loroi and uses the Umiak's imperialism as his justification.
    • This applies to humanity as well. Jardin specifies in his monologue that humanity, rather than looking for the side which shares or acts most accordingly with human values, is looking for the side which is most likely to win since aligning with the loser will almost certainly result in extinction.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The outermost finger of the left hands of the Umiak takes the form of a claw that can be pressed back against the forearm to crush or extended for slashing and stabbing attacks. Some of their hardtroops posses a metallic version of this, sometimes entirely replaced by a long knife.
  • Body-Count Competition: Captains Ashrain and Moonglow are introduced in the middle of a running wager over whose ship can take out the most enemy vessels, including some quibbling over which kills do and don't count. It's later revealed that the prize of the competition was rights to refuel and resupply first for the victor's squadron.
  • Born Under the Sail: The Belerid Loroi of Taben, living on a dwarf, icy continent in an ocean world where violent weather made farming difficult and most food was in the sea, developed a proudly maritime culture focused on fishing, whaling, exploration, trade and piracy. The modern Tenoin caste, which consists of the Loroi forces' spaceship crews and navigators, has its origins on Taben and still maintains training facilities in Beleri.
  • Bug War: The insectoid Umiak have no concern for their individual losses and typically suffer disproportionate casualties against the Loroi. This is made up by their superior industrial capacity that lets them toss out astronomical numbers of ships year after year. Their warships even appear insectoid.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The projector for the Historian's avatar is taken off Tempest's bridge just before the battle begins. Later on, Jardin finds it among the cargo in Highland-Seven...and shortly thereafter, a "pocket Historian" downloads itself onto a data pad, telling Jardin that help is coming and warning him that he is in grave danger and to not trust the Loroi.
  • Common Tongue: The Loroi Trade language, which serves as the main lingua franca of the alliance. It has both spoken and written forms, but the latter apparently varies from species to species. When Jardin learns this, he gets a crash course in Loroi writing from Beryl, which also serves to introduce her to English.
  • Conlang: Ikkukhak, the Umiak language. Its details are given a full page on the site. Also the Loroi Trade language, which gets multiple pages.
  • Call-Back: The cover page of Chapter Two is a callback to offhand comments Jardin made about needing food and footwear in the previous chapter.
  • Color-Coded Castes: The specialized castes that compose the Loroi military each possess a specific pair of colors that marks their armor and clothing. The Doranzer wear cream and light blue, the Listel wear white and purple, the Mizol wear black and teal, the Soroin wear green and silver, the Teidar wear bronze and teal, the Tenoin wear orange and tan, and the Torrai wear gray and red.
  • Cool Starship: The Tempest, a sleek, 750 meters long alien warship (in a setting where the largest class of human ship is only 375 meters long), bristling with advanced weaponry, including a Wave-Motion Gun. To top it off, it's also the last surviving ship of its class.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Bellarmine gets the short end of one of these, being cut in two with one shot, and then pretty much obliterated shortly thereafter.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Loroi act very civil towards Alex and the races in their alliance, so they seem better than the Umiak. However, at least half of the races in the Alliance are only in it as a subjugated population or out of fear, as the Loroi have committed or attempted xenocide multiple times. There's a general, somewhat sinister "be nice to us or we'll kill you" tone to their interactions with others.
  • Deadly Dodging: With several torpedoes closing in fast and no other available options, Talon flies Highland-Seven at full speed through the open superstructure of the space station they'd intended to simply dock at, letting it take the torpedo impacts while the shuttle escapes.
  • Death Glare:
    • Jardin receives hostile glares from Stillstorm and at least one other officer while on Tempest's bridge, making the distrust and resentment toward his presence almost palpable at times.
    • Tempo allowing Jardin to remain on Tempest's bridge to observe the eventual destruction of Bellarmine's wreckage earns her a nasty glare from Stillstorm. She doesn't back down, and Stillstorm gives a revolted look; the implication is that there was a harsh telepathic exchange between them.
    • As the Loroi are starting their sneak attack on the Umiak cruiser, Fireblade gives one to Jardin when she sees that Beryl has given him her sidearm, which he gloats about a bit in his internal dialogue.
      That's right, dragon lady, the captive is now armed.
  • Deconstructed Trope: In regards to a lot of sci-fi tropes:
    • Not only are there numerous language barriers between the various races, but it's explicitly noted that pretty much all dialogue not between humans is in a Common Tongue, averting Aliens Speaking English. Some of the alien races can't even speak the Common Tongue, relying on translation devices to get their point across to other beings.
    • Alex eats alien food on the Tempest... and starts getting increasingly bad indigestion, harshly averting No Biochemical Barriers. The cover art for Chapter 2 lampshades this; he's unhappily looking at a piece of Loroi food and has written notes about his bad reactions to what he's tried on the mat under him, including that something made him throw up. A later page shows that Beryl has noticed that he hasn't been getting enough nutrients, and he makes it explicit that he can't eat a lot of their food.
    • There's no sound during space sequences, and space physics in general are adhered to strongly.
    • Word of God notes that despite their bizarrely similar genetic and body structures, humans and Loroi can't interbreed, so there won't be a Star Trek-esque Half-Human Hybrid later on in the story.
  • Designer Babies: The Umiak have been tailoring themselves to their environments for so long they might not have a natural reproductive cycle any more.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Talon, Spiral, and Cloud are first seen in #41; Talon doesn't reappear until #111, with Spiral appearing again in #113. Cloud is in a handful of panels as a background character, but isn't introduced to Jardin until #162.
  • Eating the Eye Candy:
  • Elective Mute: This is a tradition among the Unsheathed; they only speak out loud when danger is very near, to issue warnings or challenges.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Jardin was the Sole Survivor of Bellarmine, leaving him with the unenviable task of attempting to gather intel/conduct diplomacy with potentially hostile aliens on behalf of the entire human species.
  • Extra Eyes: Another of the Umiak's insect-like traits is that they have seven eyes, three main eyes on the sides and center of the head and two ocelli on each "cheek".
  • Extreme Libido: If what Beryl tells Jardin about male Loroi is on point, they need to mate frequently for their physical and mental health.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Loroi society is rigidly stratified and subdivided, with a Loroi's career and place in society being heavily determined by which caste she's born into.
    • Society as a whole is split into three main social groups — the warrior class, the civilians and the men. Warriors are the ones running the society and making up the government, while civilians are secondary in importance and position and the men are essentially sperm banks with citizenships.
    • The women's classes are further subdivided — the civilians are split between numerous trade guilds, while the warrior class is further divided into eight specialized castes: the Soroin (soldiers), Tenoin (spacecraft pilots), Teidar (psychic specialists), Torrai (commanders, admirals and generals, the title of Emperor being the caste's highest rank), Mizol (diplomats), Listel (scientists and analysts), Doranzer (medics) and Gallen (mechanics).
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Loroi names consist of three parts: the first denotes their caste, the second is their military rank and the third is their personal name. Beryl's full name, for instance, is Listel Tozet Eilis; "Listel" denotes her being part of the analyst caste, "Tozet" is a rank roughly equivalent to a tactical analyst, and "Eilis" is simply a word meaning "beryl".
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Ships travel faster-than-light using a hyperspace jump drive note  which works by "launching" a ship from one star system to another through hyperspace. As vessels cannot direct themselves in hyperspace, they're completely reliant on the speed and direction imparted by their launches — a successful jump requires precise alignment and calculations, and any misstep usually leads to the loss of the ship. Jumping is only possible between neighbouring star systems — attempting to "jump over" a star is essentially impossible due to its gravity affecting the ship — and conventional intra-system space travel is required to move between the best launching-off points. Travelling a distance of approx. 200 light years in this way takes weeks or months. The author provides an in-depth explanation of how FTL works in this universe on a special page.
  • First Contact:
    • Humanity's first contact with alien life was with a band of aliens who were trying to run away from the conflict.
    • Jardin is the first human to make contact with the Loroi.
  • Flipping the Bird: When Fireblade gives Jardin a hostile Eye Am Watching You, he responds with The Finger.
  • Foreshadowing: As the Loroi are setting up against the imminent boarding of Highland-Seven by the Umiak, Jardin is confused by Cloud leaving the area they're in without a pressure suit or helmet; as she leaves, she gives him a somewhat sad or rueful look. Later, Beryl reveals exactly why: Cloud sacrificed herself to fool the Umiak into thinking that she was the only Loroi on the shuttle.
  • Forever War: As explained by Tempo and Beryl, the war between the Loroi and Umiak has been going for around 25 Earth years, starting with small clashes along the borders of their territories and then exploding into full conflict when the Umiak ambushed Loroi fleets with hidden divisions. Humanity is now being forced to decide how to respond and who to ally with, in order to avoid becoming collateral damage when the fighting eventually reaches Earth.
  • Fragile Speedster: Loroi warships are very fast compared to those of the Umiak, but aren't as robust.
  • FTL Travel Sickness: Jardin is shown going through a hyperspace jump starting in #215. The experience isn't pleasant; he notes that the vibration can crack your teeth, time dilation can cause people to experience disturbing visions, and you feel like you have a serious hangover afterward. He also wryly notes that people not on duty should avail themselves of recreational drugs to distract them from the experience. Interestingly, the Loroi that are accompanying him don't seem to be affected by the jump at all.
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: The Umiak freely and unsentimentally modify themselves to meet whatever situations arise, and by the present day the vast majority of their population is vat-grown at need and many sport mechanical enhancements of various sorts. The most extreme examples of this are the hardtroops, highly specialized warriors than consist of little more than a nervous and digestive system inside of a large, powerful mechanical shell, which depending on the "model" can be further modified to sport any number of weapons and modified limbs to turn them into specialized shock troops and living weapons platforms. Notably, because all Umiak are artificially created to serve as living tools anyway, there isn't any great social divide between the hardtroops and their more organic fellow crew members.
  • Genetic Memory: Pipolsid memories are stored chemically, and are partly transferred to their offspring when these are budded off.
  • Gentle Giant: The Barsam. Despite being 2.3 meters tall and being built like grizzly bears with horned faces, they are a nominally peaceful and aesthetic race, who routinely engage in missionary work and value peace, cooperation and brotherhood above all other things.
  • Glass Cannon: Loroi warships have tremendous ranged firepower compared to the Umiak, but aren't as robust.
  • Glowing Eyes: When Loroi capable of telekinesis use their powers, their irises glow.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Invoked by Jardin in his internal dialogue when Beryl and Fireblade first approach him after the failed interrogation. Beryl introduces herself and says that she's taking him to see the ship's diplomatic officer, then introduces Fireblade and notes her title and role, and that she's in charge of overseeing Jardin's security.
    Beryl: [Fireblade] warns that though you are being allowed to move without restraint, she will not tolerate any misbehavior.
    Jardin: [internal] Ah. The old "good elf, bad elf" routine.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Loroi are essentially all-female space elves who come in various shades of light to medium blue, and all individuals seen on-page are depicted as some stripe of cute or beautiful. The author says in the FAQ that they're intended as a "homage to the 'Space Amazon' archetype", citing Master of Orion, Star Control and Space Battleship Yamato as examples. MOO 2 in particular is the source of inspiration for everything from names to uniform color schema to hairstyles.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Talon and Jardin share a handshake, Spiral doesn't join them since she's occupied with piloting while Talon's away from the helm. Much later, when the Loroi and Alex are setting up their makeshift sleeping station in the cargo hold, Spiral takes the opportunity to get around to that handshake.
  • Hand Signals: As Jardin and the Loroi are preparing for the Umiak to board Highland-Seven, Tempo gives a three-fingered gesture that confirms that's what's about to happen.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Historians are believed to have been the first species to have begun to rebuild after the collapse of the Soia and to never have lost the totality of their pre-Soia technology. While they still can't match the technological feats of the ancient precursor empire, they remain far and away the most technologically developed nation in the setting.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: The primary tactic for Loroi raider fleets, since their ships aren't sturdy enough to engage Umiak ships in stand-up dogfights.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: The Loroi associated with Taben occasionally use some culturally-specific terms in their spoken Trade. When Nova's cruiser is destroyed, Stillstorm says "Confirm that Winter Tide has foundered", a term which in English can mean "to break" or "to sink". Later, Talon's Cluster F-Bomb toward Clearbrook's comms officer ends with "Shred this tilted field!" and Spiral softly exclaims "Low tide!" when Jardin mentions consuming animal milk. All of these make sense for people from a mostly-ocean planet to use as negative expressions.
  • Hollywood Board Games: Jardin finds Talon and Spiral playing a holographic "capture the castle"-type game called Crossfire. A combo of observing them playing and Talon explaining the rules helps get him oriented, and he ends up beating Talon in their first game. This just goes to show Jardin's intelligence, especially when it comes to strategy-oriented games like Crossfire or chess.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Faster-than-light travel involves jumping between solar systems' gravity wells. Miscalculating the jump can result in colliding with the star whose system you're targeting, bouncing off of real space until you eventually re-embed, being stranded in hyperspace, or being liberated into negative hyperspace, from which no vessel is known to have escaped (and which the background information lampshades with "Libera te tutamet ex inferis"). There's also the side effect (in non-Soia-Liron organisms, such as humans) of bad dreams and nausea after a jump. The risk inherent in each jump tends to vary depending on the system you're jumping into — dense celestial bodies have deep, "steep" gravity wells, which are very difficult to jump into safely without overshooting and diving right into the central body. An Umiak force seems to deliberately attempt a deep jump into the Leido system, whose primary is a white dwarf; Talon can't believe they'd be dumb enough to try something that risky.
    Talon: Idiotic bloody husks! Deep jumping into a white dwarf system? I bet they lost half their ships!
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Downplayed. Loroi live for about 400 years; they reach physical adulthood at around eight years of age, but don't begin to age until very shortly before they die. Consequently, their lives consist of several centuries of physical health and outward youthfulness — the only reliable way of telling old and young Loroi apart is that elders have longer noses and ear-tips — capped by a short maturation at one end and a short period of failing health at the other.
  • Improvisational Ingenuity: Lampshaded when the "pocket Historian", forced to work out of Jardin's data pad, grouses about the limitations of the computing power available to it and says that it's having to make do with what's available to it. Jardin muses on how it can't really answer his questions but was able to perfectly grasp English.
  • Inertial Dampening: Highland-Seven, Stillstorm's personal shuttle, is a large vessel primarily set up for cargo hauling. Beryl notes as everyone is settling in that it's equipped with inertial dampeners, meaning they won't have to use a liquid breathing medium and will have a more comfortable ride. That said, when Talon accelerates to try to beat the Umiak incursion, there's still enough inertia to pitch Beryl off her feet and into Jardin's lap.
  • Infinite Supplies: Averted. Starships need a huge amount of resources and infrastructure to build, maintain, and supply. Large ships like cruisers are usually kept close to home in times of peace due to the astronomical cost of keeping them supplied over long distances. Unfortunately for the Loroi, the Umiak are so efficient it often evens out in their case.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Umiak are visually very reminiscent of arthropods, being six-limbed, multiple-eyed and covered in a chitinous exoskeleton in their natural state. Internally, however, they're more similar to vertebrates, as they need internal skeletons in order to support their own weight and complex respiratory and circulatory systems to keep their large bodies oxygenated. Their insectoid nature also impacts their language — as they have rigid mandibles and no vocal cords, they cannot pronounce vowels or labial sounds, and their vocal range is limited to a small group of mandible clacks, tongue-clicks, inhalations and chitters.
    Jardin: [as Kikitik-27 is talking to Stillstorm] The tinny voice speaking Trade seemed clearly to be synthesized... in the background there was a barrage of clicks and ticks, which I presume was the Umiak's own untranslated speech. The harsh sound made my skin crawl.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Downplayed example. While no outright disdain is present towards noncombatants, the Loroi are still a warrior culture and value martial life as "the epitome of civilization". As such, military castes that do not habitually participate in combat — such as the Listel scientists, Doranzer medics and Mizol diplomats — are given very limited authority and respect within the Loroi military. Unlike in real-life armed forces, where ranks are absolute — for instance, a low-ranking soldier is still expected to salute a high-ranking medic or diplomat — Loroi fighters and commanders refuse to give formal deference to noncombatants, regardless of their rank.
  • Language of Truth: Communication done through sanzai, the telepathy of the Loroi, is immediate, clear, and absolutely honest. Some Loroi prefer to use it exclusively, feeling that spoken and written language are inherently dishonest and untrustworthy. The issue is that sanzai is so absolutely truthful that it will not mask any nuance or feeling, meaning that tact is also impossible. Loroi diplomacy thus relies on specialized diplomats, who speak verbally to both one another and other species, while everyone else holds their tongues and keeps their thoughts to themselves... literally. While this keeps problematic people like Stillstorm from causing issues, it also becomes the main problem with Alex being among the Loroi—since he can only communicate via verbal speech, there are those who do not trust him since he is incapable of doing the perfectly honest telepathic communication.
    Tempo: Captain Jardin, you will find that tact is a foreign concept to many Loroi. Our sanzai communication is direct and truthful... a Loroi conveys what is on her mind without varnishment or consideration... indeed, she feels it is dishonest to do otherwise. It therefore may not surprise you to learn that Loroi history has been one of endless bloodshed. That is why we have developed rules that leave negotiations to those specially trained for the task... and require others to hold their tongues during the process.
  • Latex Spacesuit: Certainly not as egregious as many other cases, but Jardin does muse upon the reasons for the seeming Loroi preference for form-fitting uniforms, noticing that Fireblade's touch is cold and the ship's environment is much cooler than what he's used to. Later on, as he's putting on the inner liner of the pressure suit Talon gives him, he notes it's a tight fit but the fabric has a lot of give.
  • Lightworlder:
    • The Umiak come from a world about the same size and mass as Mars, which is a large part of how they can get away with being as large as their are with an arthropod's anatomy, and are consequently very poorly suited for handling Earth-normal gravity — on most inhabited planets, a unmodified Umiak would be barely able to walk. Consequently, almost all Umiak sent onto other species' planets are heavily genetically and/or cybernetically augmented in order to be able to bear their own weights. This is also why the Umiak have never used Space Fighters — even with liquid breathing mediums for cushioning, they simply can't handle the g-forces.
    • The Lurs, one of the Umiak's client races, are likewise thought to hail from a world with about .5 G due to their extremely tall, lanky frames and their observed discomfort under standard gravity. The fact that their homeworlds are primarily low-gravity planets is thought to be one of the main reasons the Umiak took them over.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Standard Umiak doctrine calls for bombarding Loroi battle lines with preposterous numbers of torpedoes, as the battle in Chapter 1 amply demonstrates. The Loroi employ torpedoes as well, but lack the Umiak's industrial capacity to truly spam them in large quantities.
  • Matriarchy: Due to Loroi men being much smaller than the women and only making up about a tenth of the population, Loroi society is highly matriarchal. Almost all vocations, including commerce and especially the military, are seen as the province of women. Men, in contrast, live in seclusion within specialized cloisters — the prevailing belief is that, as the rarer and weaker sex, they need to be protected and kept secure — and mostly serve to father new generations. Outside of this, there are few vocations open to them outside of certain philosopher orders.
  • Military Maverick: Downplayed by Talon and Spiral. They're both competent officers and highly skilled pilots, but they have a snarky attitude regarding some of the other officers on Highland-Seven, with Talon sarcastically calling Tempo "Mother" at one point and both of them poking fun at Tempo over the weirdness of her homeworld's cuisine, and their personalities are more easy-going and not nearly as professional as the other Loroi. While their initial meeting is a bit awkward, Jardin endears himself to Talon almost immediately when he asks her to call him Ensign (his actual rank) instead of Captain, an honorary rank bestowed by Tempo as part of his position as humanity's ambassador to the Loroi.
  • Mind over Matter: Psychokinesis, the ability to remotely exert physical force over objects with your mind, is a very rare ability among the Loroi — while all Loroi are natural telepaths, less than five percent are psychokinetics. This ability is very valued among the Loroi, and children who exhibit it are always inducted into training for specialized military castes.
  • Mind Rape: Shortly after awakening aboard the Loroi ship, Stillstorm has Fireblade and two other Unsheathed forcefully mind-probe Jardin for information when he doesn't answer questions to her satisfaction. Fortunately, a combination of him blacking out and the supposed unique human trait of telepathic immunity spare him from anything nasty.
  • Mighty Glacier: Umiak ships tend to be slower, but noticeably tougher and better suited (relatively, as far as space goes) for combat than Loroi vessels.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, the Loroi military trying to commit xenocide against the Mannadi after the last war with them horrified everyone so much that it nearly caused the other races in the Alliance to unite and wage war on the Loroi. Thankfully, the threat of their allies turning against them caused the Loroi to rein in their military and stop the attempted genocide.
  • Ms. Fanservice: None in the main story as of yet, but Beryl and Fireblade are the ones who are drawn most in the fanservice-y pinups in the extras page of the comic's website.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Most of the Loroi worlds are culturally and ethnically diverse, as the various populations and cultures that arose there over their pre-spaceflight history still retain varying degrees of presence in the modern day.
    • Deinar is largely divided between three broad racial groups: the tall and fair Barraid of the western highlands, the tall, dark-skinned Tadan of the central river valleys and the short, wiry and far-scattered Login. These were further divided between multiple nation-states, which warred extensively with each other and remain distinct cultural entities into the modern day.
    • The Loroi of Perrein, who are generally noted to be of medium height and with darker hair and larger ears than others of their kind, are divided between the ghost-pale people of the dense lowland jungles and the very dark-skinned natives of the highlands that reach above the planet's omnipresent fungal canopy.
    • The oceanic world of Taben is split between the natives of the dwarf continent of Beleri, who tend to light skin, yellow eyes, thinness and large noses and have a long tradition of exploration and marine raiding, and those of the Amenal archipelago, who have darker skin and developed an advanced, sophisticated culture early in the planet's history. It does not have a global government like the other Loroi worlds, being split between the Belerid nation and a federation of independent island-states in Amenal.
  • Naming Your Colony World:
    • In the named-after-the-star category, human colony worlds within the Alpha Centauri system are named Alpha (also referencing its status as the first extrasolar colony) and Proxima. Somewhat confusingly, Proxima does not orbit Proxima Centauri, but Alpha Centauri B.
    • In the the symbolic category, the human colony worlds orbiting Tau Ceti and 82 Eridani are named Aldea and Esperanza, meaning "Village" and "Hope" respectively in Spanish.
  • Neutrality Backlash: Not choosing a side in the war invites hostility from both sides. The Loroi mindset is spelled out in chapter 1: "if you're our ally, you're duty-bound to aid us." Tempo later explains that this comes from having several supposedly neutral nations turn on them in the past, combined with the Umiak's constant expansion.
    You may choose to be friendly with the Loroi or with the Hierarchy, but it is no longer possible for any nation to be friendly with both. [...] Those who do not actively oppose the enemy will inevitably end as their servants, one way or the other.
  • Nightmare Sequence:
    • Chapter 2 starts with a flashback to Jardin being interviewed by Capt. Hamilton prior to being assigned to Bellarmine, but it transitions into Ellen's corpse angrily chiding him for leaving everyone to die.
      "Ellen": Ghosts still have feelings, you know. Being dead hurts. A lot. Fine then. Wake up, if you can. Go on, wake up! Are you awake yet? How about now?
      *Jardin snaps awake, hearing Reed outside his cell asking if he's awake*
    • When Jardin and the Loroi are piled up with each other in the shuttle, after Jardin falls asleep, his normal nightmare transitions into him showing up on a devastated alien planet, encountering an adult and child Loroi with shaved heads and some kind of markings on their foreheads, and then being attacked and killed by two Umiak hardtroops. He wakes up just after the killing stroke.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Played with. Jardin so far has had no problem breathing the atmosphere on the Loroi ships he's been on. However, their food doesn't agree with him for the most part, giving him harsh indigestion and even making him throw up at least once.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Francis based many of Bellarmine's ill-fated crew on his friends and colleagues, with their blessing.
  • No Fathers Allowed: Since Loroi men make up only a small portion of the total population, they live in isolated, semi-monastic communities, and their interactions with the outside world are largely limited to mating encounters. Loroi women typically "meet" with any given man only once, as strong attachments to mating partners are frowned upon in Loroi society, and afterward return to their families to go through pregnancy and birth their child. Daughters are reared by their mothers, aunts and other female relatives, while the rare sons are reared in the cloistered male societies. Either way, fathers rarely if ever meet their children.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: Beryl and Talon give Jardin a Loroi emergency pressure suit after Highland-Seven is knocked out of commission. After being told that he should go ahead and put on the inner liner, he asks them if he can have some privacy to change. This puzzles Beryl, but she honors his request, pushing Talon out of the cargo hold with her.
  • Nondescript, Nasty, Nutritious: Jardin is relieved to learn that some MRE-type meal packets were recovered from Bellarmine's wreckage. When Talon asks about the one he's given, he says that it's beef stroganoff, but admits it's not very good. That said, after being deprived of human food for so long, he's very happy to dig in once it's prepared.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Jardin sees a mosaic on the Tempest showing a legendary warrior standing on a pile of skulls. Beryl explains that it's a depiction of Tempest, who the vessel is named after.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: After seeing Tempo use her mental powers to fool an Umiak hardtroop into ignoring Highland-Seven's passengers, Jardin begins to suspect that she has realized that his resistance to sanzai isn't airtight and that the nightmare he had about being on a devastated Loroi world and seeing Umiak hardtroops hunting Loroi may have actually been a mental scenario planted by Tempo to try to sway him even more into siding with the Loroi.
  • Our Humans Are Different: Humans have only recently become spacefaring and, consequently, lag far enough the other space empires in technology, numbers and infrastructure to be essentially non-entities except for two notable traits. Firstly, they very closely resemble the Loroi, which most non-human characters find suspicious to alarming. Secondly, they're the only known species in existence to be completely immune to the Loroi's Psychic Powers — some species have limited resistance, but humans are immune to the point that Loroi are unable to even psychically sense a human standing right in front of them.
    Beryl: [sitting in Jardin's lap] Your apparent resistance to our telepathy is perplexing... even at this close range, you are completely blank to me, as if you do not exist.
  • The Permanent Record: During Capt. Hamilton's interview with Jardin, he notes the behavior demerits on Jardin's record that kept him from being valedictorian of his class, and questions whether or not Jardin thinks discipline on a scout ship won't be enforced as strictly as it would be on a military ship. Jardin states that he's aware of the difference between school and actual work in space, but at the start of the story, he and Ellen were assigned to damage control due to some unspecified disciplinary issue.
  • Photographic Memory: Eidetic memory is a common trait of the Loroi's Listel caste. Beryl, for instance, can recall every word Jardin's said since they first met. This is used by the Loroi to make up for the fact that telepathy, their main way of communicating with each other, cannot be recorded; Listels essentially act as living libraries, perfectly memorizing important conversations and telepathic sagas for the reference of future generations.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Particle weapons are among the more common types of ship armaments; they do more damage than laser beams, but are prone to spreading out and losing power due to charged particles repelling each other and aren't much good in atmospheres.
  • Plasma Cannon: Ship-mounted plasma weaponry is employed by the Loroi, Historians and Umiak, and well beyond anything humanity has access to. Plasma weapons come with a number of disadvantages, as they require the use of a "carrier wave" to keep the beam from diffusing into nothingness before doing anything useful. Only the Umiak and Historians have mastered this technique, and Loroi plasma cannons are consequently fairly primitive in comparison; they have limited range, are easily disrupted by electromagnetic screening due to their net charge and are completely useless in atmosphere. On the other hand, they're far more powerful than the lasers and particle beams that make up the bulk of most ships' guns and are well-suited for penetrating ship armor, and the heavier variants are capable of overloading and shorting out defensive screens.
  • Porn Stash: Invoked. After Beryl examines Jardin's data pad and then returns it to him, he sees that the "pocket Historian" has disguised itself as a PORN icon.
  • Precision F-Strike: A couple of "Shit!"s are dropped in the prologue, when Alex and Ellen's superior realizes the hull has been breached and when Ellen sees that Bellarmine has been cut in two.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Loroi are first and foremost a warrior civilization. They respect martial values and skill above all other things — in their culture, military strength and individual combat prowess are the highest values civilization is measured by — and their society strongly reflects that. The Loroi Empire is an archetypal army with a nation: its civilian economy is almost entirely in place to support the military, and Loroi civilians have considerably less power and political clout than the warrior class, which is the one that runs the empire. Even in the military, influence is based on one's role in combat, if any — soldiers and pilots are broadly ranked above medics, diplomats and scientists in the Loroi army's complicated organization, while the highest government ranks — the Emperor and her chiefs of staff — are specifically the highest rungs in the space navy's command structure.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Some Loroi can learn how to disguise their mental signatures from others, making their minds impossible to detect or affect; this skill is know as lotai, and is very rare and difficult to learn. Humanity is unusual because it possess a permanent version of this an inborn trait.
  • Puny Earthlings: Because humans only became spacefaring in very recent times — the setting's major species were already in space during Earth's medieval period — humans lag far behind everyone else in everything, from their armed forces and technology to simple numbers. This becomes uncomfortably clear for Jardin when he witnesses a border skirmish between a small, under-strength Loroi strike group and a much larger, but still partial, Umiak force — and the strike group itself still contains more ships than the totality of humanity's combined space forces, and many of its vessels are armed with weapons that can one-shot a mid-sized human ship.
    Jardin's internal monologue: A full-scale clash between major fleets surely must involve many hundreds or even thousands of vessels, armed with weaponry that had made very short work of Bellarmine. I was having a hard time imagining how I was going to be able to make a case to the Loroi that Humanity could offer any kind of meaningful support in this war.
  • Ray Gun: As the Loroi are preparing their assault on the Umiak cruiser that's captured Highland-Seven, Beryl gives Jardin her sidearm when he says that he will help them. She explains that it's a particle beam weapon, and although it has a max setting of 8, she cautions him to not set it over 4 as they need to minimize damage to the actual ship.
  • Recurring Extra: Captains Ashrain and Moonglow, introduced here, show up occasionally thereafter, usually to jaw at each other in a way that indicates a good-natured rivalry including a wager over kills.
  • Recursive Precursors: Several ancient empires rose and fell over the galaxy's history, impacting its development to various degrees. They are discussed in the side blog at some length.
    • The earliest known civilization was active sixteen million years ago, and is known only from a large number of worlds bearing extensive cratering and having undergone mass extinctions at that time. Modern scholars believe this to be the testament of a devastating war between otherwise unknown powers, but nothing's known for sure.
    • The Fenrias civilization arose long after these conflicts, but still over a million years back. It spread through local space and either subjugated or ignored the primitive ancestors of the modern sapient species. The Fenrias split into multiple factions early on and warred extensively against each other, eventually diverging into numerous distinct breeds. Two modern-day species, the Delrias and Morat, are descended from Fenrias populations that survived the fall of their empires.
    • The Dreiman were small — lapdog-sized — but highly advanced aliens that arrived about a million years in the past from outside of local space and quickly wiped out the Fenrias nations, although a few fringe groups held on on the edges of their territory. They rarely settled planets and mostly remained in orbital stations, but engaged in extensive planetary and biological engineering — they seeded and terraformed multiple worlds, many of which remain habitable into the present, and seemingly uplifted many of the local pre-sapient species.
    • Around 500,000 years back, the Dreiman suddenly vanished and the remnant Fenrias nations all collapsed, to be replaced by the Soia. They were more advanced than the Dreiman and, like them, seem to have come from outside known space. They traveled in massive and heavily armed artificial moons that they used to enforce their rule and created numerous genetically engineered species, referred to as the Soia-Liron species; most were hyper-efficient food plants and animals, which are still found on multiple worlds, but at least five sapient species are known from Soia sites and may also have been created in this manner — the ancestors of the modern Barsam, Neridi and Loroi and two now-extinct species. The Soia are thus believed to have been a multi-species civilization, although whether these species were naturally occurring ones from a single world, artificially created or a mix of both, as well as whether any of these were the "true" Soia, isn't really clear. The Soia empire collapsed 275,000 years ago, seemingly in a devastating conflict that subjected every settled planet to devastating orbital bombardment and caused every sapient species to regress to the stone ages — galactic civilization is technically still climbing out of this dark age.
  • Red Shirt: Possibly played straight, albeit with color variation. Before the Umiak attack the Loroi fleet, Stillstorm briefs four of her officers commanding elements of her task force. Moonglow, Arclight and Ashrain wear red uniforms, while Nova has a green command uniform. Of the four, Nova is the one who dies; her ship takes heavy damage in the first Umiak wave and is later annihilated by a reactor failure.
  • Rock Beats Laser: In one of his Q&A answers, the author stated that, while humans are way behind the Loroi or Umiak, nukes are still nukes and kinetic energy is still kinetic energy. As such, human weapons can still do a number on either Umiak or Loroi vessels. The problem, of course, is in getting their outdated ships close enough to do that, particularly since slow-moving human projectiles have pitiful effective ranges compared to most Loroi ships, whose ranges are about that from the Earth to the moon.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
    • Both largely averted and deconstructed. Loroi look just like humans, except for the Pointed Ears, blue skin tones, odd eye and hair colors, and their men being smaller than and far outnumbered by their women. A very awkward exchange between Beryl and Jardin also confirms that female Loroi have functional breasts like female humans. This similarity is noted as a significant abnormality by everyone, considering that the rest of the races go from being notably physiologically different to being Starfish Aliens. The fact that humans also seem to be resistant to the Loroi's telepathy implies that this may be far more than mere coincidence, but when Tempo all but accuses Jardin of this, he testily counters that it would be extremely stupid for the Umiak to create a mole that sticks out like a sore thumb as much as he does.
    • An interesting detail revealed in the Insider posts is that there's another species, the Nibiren, that is to the Barsam — a species that, along with the Loroi, is part of a group of biochemically related organisms related to a powerful precursor civilization — what the humans are to the Loroi, i.e. different in coloration and a few physical details but otherwise eerily similar. Rubber Forehead Aliens to another alien species, essentially. The conclusion reached by the Barsam is that they were genetically engineered by the Precursors using the Nibiren as a model. If this is true, it might have interesting implications for the relationship between the humans and Loroi.
  • Saved by the Punishment: Jardin was Bellarmine's third-seat helmsman, but was working in damage control as a disciplinary action when it was attacked. Per #11, if he'd been at his regular station, he would've been killed along with everyone else on the bridge.
  • Scenery Censor: When Jardin awakens on the Tempest and it's revealed that he's in the sickbay, naked and shackled to the bed, one of the medics is conveniently standing right where her head is blocking his groin from view.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The very first aliens the humans have encountered were a band of refugees who were running away from the conflict when the Umiak devastated their homeworld.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: This is the crux of humanity's dilemma at the start of the comic — they're on the periphery of a major interstellar war between two starfaring civilizations, the Loroi and the Umiak, and inevitably will be swept into the conflict. They know very little about these two powers, but do know that both severely outclass them in technology, numbers and military power, that neither is willing to recognize other nations' right to remain neutral, and that both are willing to forcefully subjugate or exterminate nations that get in their way. Without knowing much about how either operates, beyond being aware that the Umiak essentially enslave their subject peoples, they need to very quickly figure out which power would be less dangerous to join up with — and to do it before one or the other finds them first and makes the choice for them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Jardin seems to have a thing for musical references. As he's broadcasting his distress signal after Bellarmine is destroyed, he quotes part of the lyrics to "Major Tom" translated into the Loroi Trade language, as well as the French line from "Lady Marmalade". Later, his final words in memorial to Bellarmine's crew are part of the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Club.
    • These are more prominent in the pin-up artworks featured in the miscellaneous materials on the comic's website. Examples include Tempo in Leia's slave girl outfit, Beryl in the science officer version of the female uniform from Star Trek: The Original Series, and Fireblade in a literal Chainmail Bikini reminiscent of Red Sonja.
    • The Historians are probably a nod to the Carmpans of Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: When Jardin is first brought onto the Tempest for interrogation, he's stark naked — he had to be cut out of his suit — and is only seen from the waist up until some Loroi cover him with a sheet.
  • Shown Their Work: The Outsider-verse follows realistic space physics very well, with very little Rule of Cool or Space Is an Ocean behavior. There's also a lot of work shown regarding biology.
  • Signature Headgear: The Unsheathed wear headdress-like devices called amplifiers, which boost their mental abilities. In Fireblade's case, it frames her face (unlike those worn by the other two Unsheathed present during Jardin's mental probing, which look more like fancy headbands) and has small tabs in the back that connect to plugs in the sides of her head. Jardin is a bit shocked when he sees them as she's taking off her outer suit and removes the amplifier. When he asks, Beryl explains that all Unsheathed go through the procedure.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Among the Loroi Sister Worlds, Perrein is a hot and humid jungle world covered almost entirely by immense fungal forests with canopies so thick that the forest floor is in perpetual night, while Taben is an ocean planet whose landmasses are limited to a small continent in the northern hemisphere and an equatorial island chain.
  • The Silent Bob:
    • A Zig-Zagging Trope for the Loroi as a whole. They generally play it straight, as they rely on their sanzai ability for normal conversation and speak aloud only in unusual circumstances but are quite "vocal" in their facial expressions, body language, and actions. However, during the initial battle, Beryl explains to Jardin that with everything going on, vocal communication is more efficient than sanzai, and its limited range makes vocal communication between ships necessary. Later on, Tempo notes that the Mizol caste is trained in spoken language and negotiation, to better serve their diplomatic function.
    • Justified by the Unsheathed's traditional vow to not speak outside of danger. Fireblade is a textbook example, as despite her silence it's very obvious through her body language and actions that she has a low opinion of Jardin.
  • Sleep Cute: Exaggerated when the Loroi pile up on Jardin to sleep. The justificationnote  makes sense, but the looks on Beryl, Talon, and Spiral's faces suggest they're happy with the arrangement for other reasons.
  • Space Elves: The Loroi are a mix of Types I and IV, combining the typical elfin features with blue skin tones, physical beauty, and mental powers like telepathy and telekinesis. Jardin even refers to them as elves at times (in his inner monologue, fortunately).
  • Space Fighter:
    • These used to be one of the Loroi's main offensive tools, often using liquid breathing mediums to protect their pilots against the massive g-forces they went through, but they didn't prove very suitable for the long war of attrition against the Umiak and are now mainly delegated to missile defense.
    • Umiak do not employ fighters since they evolved on low-gravity worlds and can't handle 30+ g's of acceleration; inertial dampeners are too big for fighters.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Mostly averted, as the Outsider universe follows actual space physics rather closely. However, Word of God acknowledges that some aspects of space physics were ignored in favor of Rule of Cool, human ship names and ranks are naval in nature, and the Loroi spacecraft pilot caste is descended from pre-spaceflight nautical traditions.
  • The Spartan Way: The way the Loroi raise members of any of their military caste — dumping them in the woods with bows and spears to learn proper warrior values and survival skills.
  • Starfish Language: The Umiak language is based on tone rather than words, and uses a "stack" structure where a statement ended with a specialized "posit" clause is placed onto a metaphorical "stack" for later reference, with later use of a "pop" clause being equivalent to speaking the entire statement again, either leaving the statement on the stack or removing it depending on which variant is used; a "pop" followed by a number signifies a reference to a statement that number of items further down the stack. Umiak conversations often begin with the speaker rattling off a tremendous number of disjointed thoughts and sentences and referring to them continuously throughout the conversation while adding new clauses to the stack, and understanding what's being said requires extremely good memory and the ability to perform flawless arithmetic in one's head. It's literally impossible for others to understand without a translator... and even that's a bit lacking.
  • Stock Star Systems: The six worlds settled by humanity include the Alpha Centauri A V (humanity's first extrasolar colony), Alpha Centauri B II (the second), Tau Ceti II and 82 Eridani VI.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Hyperspace is essentially the areas of the universe "above" and "below" realspace (on an x-y graph, realspace is the line at y=0, with indents caused by the gravity wells of large objects, while hyperspace is everything else). FTL travel is achieved by launching ships across hyperspace from one gravity well to another, which is compared to a cannon shot — the propulsion occurs only at launch, and the ship is ballistic over the trip. Hyperspace is innately turbulent, which affects the trajectories of ships and means that no launch is completely predictable; disturbances of very massive objects, such as black holes, can worsen this turbulence and make hyperspace almost untraversable. Beyond that, the nature of hyperspace isn't well-known, since travel through it is nearly instantaneous and, as ships are moving faster than light, they're blind during the voyage. There's also "negative hyperspace", which is what's "below" realspace, but since nobody who broke through into it has ever come back it's an even greater unknown.
  • Super-Soldier:
    • The Loroi use a special warrior caste, the Teidar (Unsheathed), who have lethal telekinesis.
    • The Umiak use specially bred and cybernetically enhanced warriors called Hardtroops.
  • Tanuki: The Tenuki, one of the Umiak client species, are transparently based on the raccoon dog youkai, as they're short, round and furry bipeds with bushy tails and feisty natures.
  • Technology Levels: The comic uses a modified version of the system present in GURPS, tweaked to account for technologies specific to the comic and described here, which quantifies the development of technological civilizations into several "tech levels" of increasing complexity that go from 0 (Stone Age cultures) to 16 (Sufficiently Advanced Technology). Modern humanity is in the early stages of TL8 (early cybernetics, railguns, bioengineering and 3D printing); humanity in the comic proper is in late TL9 (FTL, Inertial Dampening, Artificial Gravity, longevity treatments); and the major interstellar powers are in early TL11 (plasma weapons and force screens), with the reclusive Historians somewhere in TL12 (Reactionless Drive and AI).
  • Telepathic Spacemen: The Loroi are galactically known for this, to the point that Jardin identifies them as Loroi by observing an apparent non-verbal conversation. They can also pick up the thoughts of other species, even those that aren't naturally telepathic, which becomes a serious issue when they discover that they can't read Jardin's thoughts at all. Jardin is just as blind to their efforts, although he can perceive Fireblade as a flame-like aura shaped like her in his mind if he concentrates or she applies her mental powers, and there are a couple of instances that suggest that when his mind isn't fully conscious, some degree of mental bleed-over from the Loroi near him is occurring. He later begins to wonder if the latter is being done deliberately by Tempo after seeing her use her abilities against an Umiak hardtroop.
  • Themed Tattoos: Talon and Spiral trained together on Talon's home planet of Taben as part of a diral, a group of children of the same age and from the Tenoin caste. As a symbol of their group's training, they all got the same tattoo on their right cheek, a circle with a small curl below it.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Whoever destroyed Bellarmine was really trying to Leave No Witnesses — it was split in two with a massive beam attack, and each half was obliterated with a second beam of equal power.
    • A policy the Loroi have employed against "neutral" nations who couldn't enforce their neutrality. One example is the Tithric, a species whose governments were allowing the Umiak to pass through their territory to raid Loroi space. They were quite literally bombed back to the Stone Age and nearly wiped from the galaxy in the process.
  • Touch Telepathy: While Loroi sanzai works at range (and in fact their biggest military advantage is that they can use technology to boost it to interstellar distances), it works best with physical contact. Skin-to-skin contact allows them to establish a very strong and close psychic link, through which they can send much more information much more quickly than they can with remote sending. This is one of the reasons that the Loroi generally avoid touching each other except in rather specific circumstances.
  • Translation Convention: Explicitly used.
    • Jardin and his Loroi interlocutors speak in the Loroi Trade language, though the meanings of some unfamiliar words do get past him now and then.
    • When a translation system is finally seen in action during an enemy Umiak commander's transmission, it can only manage translations that are basically really long run-on sentences. The impression is similar to the quality of real-life machine translation available on present-day Earth, although admittedly Outsider's version does have to deal with Starfish Aliens...
  • Uncoffee: Played with. After food gets handed out, Cloud brings the Loroi bottles of noillir, a brown drink with (to Jardin) a pungent odor. Beryl describes it as a mild anodyne which the Loroi find soothing. Talon offers hers to Jardin; he finds its taste strong and harsh, but similar to some of the coffees he's had before.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: The last page of the prologue shows Jardin adrift in space and passing out from oxygen starvation as Tempest is closing in on him. When he comes to he's in the sickbay, naked and shackled to a bed, and is questioned by the crew. After their Mind Probing leaves him unconscious again, he awakens in a cell, this time fully clothed.
  • Volleying Insults: Talon and Spiral start zinging each other after Alex beats Talon in the game they're playing and she tries to start the next game instead of letting Spiral give it a go.
  • War Refugees: Alien ones were humanity's First Contact (an Umiak-dominated race known as the Orgus), serving not only to introduce humans to not being alone in the galaxy but impressing the realization of how grim the situation is.
  • We Have Reserves: The Umiak can replace their losses, both of ships and of troops, with extreme ease. As such, their battle tactics tend to revolve heavily around mass sacrifice of expendable troops, either to tie up the powerful Loroi vessels while more valuable assets maneuver into place or to attempt to tear through Loroi lines with brute force, and never mind the cost. They also think nothing of extremely risky maneuvers such as attempting a "deep jump" into the Leido star system, which potentially cost them large numbers of ships.
  • Weird World, Weird Food: When several of the Loroi are shocked by Alex mentioning drinking milk from a domesticated species in a discussion of human food, Alex asks if the Loroi know of animal husbandry. Tempo explains that Loroi from Taben and Deinar did not have any animal farming and culinary culture beyond meat and eggs and are thus comparatively tame. She also notes that her own planet of Perrein has a much more diverse food culture, but other Loroi generally consider it Foreign Queasine. Talon and Spiral's comments cement this, although they're clearly more amused than disgusted.
  • With Friends Like These...: A big part of Alex's reasoning for preferring to join the Loroi over the Umiak. While both sides have done terrible things in the war (with various justifications trotted out), the Umiak treat their "allies" as little better than slaves to feed the war machine. The Loroi do go on about their cultural superiority a bit and their interspecies alliance is clearly weighted in their favor, but at least they treat their allies as friends who deserve their own opinions.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: The Loroi have a wide range of hair colors, almost none of which — most visibly bright scarlet, purple, bright blue, navy and green — are normal for humans outside of an anime.
  • Younger Than They Look: Loroi mature much faster than humans. This fact is specifically cited in Talon's entry on the comic's cast page, noting that she's only 13 years old. Additionally, the GURPS profile for Beryl on the Outsider Insider page gives her age as 14, although like Talon, she looks to be around Jardin's age just by appearance.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo:
    • Early on, Jardin notices that the Loroi don't touch each other. Beryl later explains that casual physical contact is a cultural taboo, as their sanzai ability is distance-variant and skin-to-skin contact greatly amplifies the mental connection, even with aliens that aren't naturally telepathic. Beryl is anxious to test this with Jardin because of his apparent resistance to sanzai, which sheds some light on her seemingly hostile reaction to Jardin shaking hands with Talon. Unfortunately, when Jardin concentrates, he seems to be able to perceive Fireblade and not Beryl. Later on, just before the Loroi pile up on Jardin to sleep and he brings this up, Beryl notes that the necessities of their situation trump personal discomfort.
    • The Nissek are notable among the spacefaring cultures for having no taboos against eating carrion or the flesh of sapient creatures, including other Nissek.
  • Zerg Rush: The Umiak's primary strategy during wartime. In one battle, Umiak warships outnumbered the Loroi fleet nearly three to one. Later on, the Umiak begin to invade Loroi space with enormous numbers of ships of all types, which is referred to as a "gate-crasher" attack.