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Webcomic / Terinu

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Clockwise from bottom right: Terinu, Gwen, Leeza, Melika, Rufus and Lance.

"I hope you're watching this Varn, 'cause you'd better get this through your green ugly skull... You don't own me!

Terinu is a black and white, full page web comic written by Australian native Peta Hewitt, featuring the title character, an alien boy whose race, the Ferin, were genetically engineered to serve as power sources for the Varn Dominion. Five hundred years ago they were wiped out as the races rebelled against the Dominion's control. Now the Dominion is hunting him down to recover their source of power and take the galaxy back, the space pirate who raised him wants to hunt him down to use him as her personal assassin and the Galactic Sapiens Alliance wants him either dead or dissected.

It's nice to be wanted.

An intricately plotted and well drawn and written comic series, set in six chapter arcs in a standard comic book format, mimicking the original dead tree editions.

Main Characters:

Terinu: Our Hero, a fifteen year-old alien boy with an understandably touchy temper and severe trust issues after being abused half his life.

Leeza Blake: A civilian starship engineer and daughter of the Fleet Admiral Erwin Blake. Her mom died sometime before the story began. Currently she's Terinu's legal guardian.

Ru Ofanius "Rufus" Brushtail: A vulpine star fighter pilot/mercenary/hidden noble. In other words a born swashbuckler.

Gwendolyn Freeman: Leeza's fifteen year old cousin and a cyberglider. Bounces between being irritated at Terinu and worrying for his safety.

Matt Townsend: Terinu's best friend in the universe.

Lance Freeman: A Space Marine demolitions expert and cousin to Leeza and Gwen. Tended to bump heads with Terinu at first, but has since mellowed towards the boy.

Melika Softpaw: Terinu's foster mother and his fiercest protector after Matt.

The Varn Gene Mage: Eight foot tall, green skinned, horned creator of Terinu's race. Tends to be Affably Evil when he isn't directly threatened.

General Oryon Gisko: Leader of the Galapados Warriors, a genetically engineered race created by the Gene Mage to match human aggressiveness. A nice iguana when he's not on the job.

Lady Mavra Chan: Self-styled Space Pirate noble, with an emphasis on the "Pirate" over the "Noble".

"Brutal" Brooks: Chan's second-in-command with all of her bad traits and none of her limited charm.

Princess Titalia: An Ardactavian (read: bug race) princess, currently plotting the overthrow of her mother, using Gwen as her pawn.

Admiral Erwin Blake: Chief of the United Systems Alliance fleet and determined to hunt down and kill Terinu to preserve the Alliance's safety. This makes for rather awkward relations with his daughter Leeza.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Combined with Naked First Impression. Terinu asks, and is given permission by Rufus, to climb a tree that happens to include Gwen's house in its rather large branches. Unfortunately for him, Gwen had chosen that particular moment to be sunbathing on the deck of her house, outdoors, and naked. His retort that he was raised in a cabaret and had seen women in even more compromising positions and Gwen was nothing special did not go well for him.
  • Affably Evil: The Gene Mage.
  • All There in the Manual: It's not actually required to understand the comic, but a run through the site's Almanac helps explain some of the universe's politics that underlie the characters' actions.
  • A Million Is a Statistic:
    • When tens of thousands of Vulpine are at risk from a deadly virus, we only really see the first two victims, Rufus and Melika.
    • However, when the Human Federation's genocide of the Ferin is revealed, Leeza is properly horrified. It doesn't hurt that when she makes the discovery, we see an obscured autopsy photo of one of the victims.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: And so can Teri thanks to his race's rather extreme modifications courtesy of the Varn Gene Mage. Well, not exactly breathe, but survive for a long time.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Teri and Gwen fit this to a T.
  • Berserk Button: Don't ever call Terinu a pirate, or insult Rufus' beloved starfighter.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Varn Gene Mage, Titalia.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Melika, backed up by a team of Badass Furries comes to rescue Terinu from Admiral Blake's minions in the most awesome way possible.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Leeza did this after discovering what happened to Terinu's race. It ended badly.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Practically every character with the exception of Galapados mooks is unique in some way.
  • Child Soldiers: Terinu was trained from the age of nine to be an assassin by Mavra Chan. His best friend Matt was sold at age eleven by his own father to the same pirate to serve aboard her ship.
  • Crapsack World: The supposed good guys' government practices indentured servitude of criminals, selling them to biological research companies as test subjects, space pirates run rampant through the universe and Terinu's best bet for safety is with the Big Bad.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Terinu has this one in spades. Being the last member of your race and raised by a psychotic space pirate will do that to you.
  • Distressed Dude: Terinu, frequently, given his status as both the hero and the Living MacGuffin.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Gwen's introduction to cybergliding by her "feral boyfriend" Cyeman plays out almost exactly like a young girl about to be deflowered by an older man.
    Gwen: (laying in bed clutching a teddy bear) "Will it hurt?"
    Cyeman: "Not at all." (sticks an interface jack into her port.)
  • The Dragon: The Gene Mage has Gisko, and Mavra Chan has her first officer "Brutal" Brooks.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Gene Mage, who helped in the original invasion of Earth and is at least partly responsible for the death of about a billion humans, is notably pissed to discover Titalia left Gwen and a gravely injured Terinu in a cell without food or water for a week.
    • Meanwhile Gisko has reservations about the Varn Dominion allying itself with Psycho for Hire Mavra Chan, immediately after she helps them massacre her fellow Space Pirates.
  • Everyone Is Bisexual: Or at least all the ferin are. It's part of their design.
  • False Flag Operation: Titalia used this tactic twice, in major Gambit Roulette fashion. First, she unleashes a vulpine specific genetically-engineered lethal virus intended to force the vulpine race to return to Ardactivian slavery or face extinction by spreading the illness through a third party. When this is thwarted by Terinu and Gwen, who not only took the cure data literally out of Titalia's hands but broadcast it to the Alliance before being recaptured, Titalia then goes with her "backup plan" of murdering her mother and framing the Alliance for it by forcing Gwen into a cyber-suit to shut down Ardactivan border defenses while human agents are nearby. This works like a charm due to the fact that Admiral Blake's black ops squad is foolishly tresspassing in Ardactivan territory while trying to exterminate Terinu.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Vulpine skirt this, dividing themselves into Farmer Lord (the Rulers), Military (the Fighters) and Commoner (everybody else). Fortunately there's some give to the system, with Commoners able to marry up into the Farmer Lord class, usually by gaining recognition during their mandantory military service.
  • Fantastic Racism: There are some notable entries. The Varn to pretty much everyone Non-varn with the possible exception of the Ardactavians. The humans to the Ferin. The space pirates, particularly Mavra Chan's group, to everyone non-pirate. The Ardactavians, particularly Titalia, to everyone mamalian to the point she's Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence, and thinks her people are entitled to enslave or exterminate them all, anything less means the Ardactavians are groveling and begging for scraps.
  • Fan Disservice: Seeing Gwen in her exotic dancer outfit, in front of two very tall aliens who make her look ten instead of fifteen years old.
  • Fanservice: Terinu getting naked or half-naked (usually against his will), shirtless furries and Gwen in her Exotic Dancer Barbie costume (but see above). Not to mention the December 2008 calandar image, with all the girls in bikinis on the beach (in the Land Downunder).
  • Fox Folk: The Vulpine.
  • From Bad to Worse: Text stories set a hundred years in the story's future have the ferin race rediscovered and integrated into Vulpine society, with Terinu as their leader but he's desperately lonely and there are uncounted thousands of ferin living as slaves, being considered non-sentient pets outside Vulpine space.
  • Genocide Backfire: The reason why Terinu is still around, possibly combined with Hidden Elf Village.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Viscount Ru-Ofanius "Rufus" Brushtail, a Vulpine (anthro fox) Ace Pilot who slums as a mercenary just for fun.
  • Groin Attack: Several times. Terinu suffered this at least twice. Once is when he accidentally catches Gwen naked, and another is when Mavra Chan catches up to him, and decides to make an example of him.
  • Happily Adopted: Terinu by Melika, at least until Mavra Chan tore him away from her to be Raised by Orcs, er, Space Pirates.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The Ferin were gene-gineered to be happy servitors to the Varn.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Teri and Matt spent half their lives as the abused slaves of a insane pirate warlord, with Matt stealing food to keep Terinu healthy and at one point cuddling with him in bed after Teri's powers were traumatically activated. Word of God has stated "They'd both rather be dead than see the other hurt."
  • Humans Are Bastards: Especially after committing genocide against the Ferin and then trying hunt Terinu down to finish the job.
  • Humans Are Special: At least five other races spent over a thousand years as slaves of the Varn Dominion, but after trying to conquer humanity the Dominion fell in less than a hundred years.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Matt for Terinu according to the Word of Gay.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Subverted. When the title character is badly wounded, he starts feeling warmer as he slips into shock, since his body is losing the ability regulate temperature correctly. The comic's author is a nurse, so this counts as a case of Shown Their Work.
  • Interspecies Romance: Terinu is falling for Gwen, a human girl his own age and possibly Matt in the past. In a canon text story by Peta, a human girl also apparently has a long running affair and eventually becomes engaged to a vulpine.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Depending on the circumstances, either Terinu himself or his nemesis Lance.
  • Knight Templar: Admiral Blake, and the Varn Gene Mage.
  • Lap Pillow: A rare male/female inversion, when Leeza falls asleep in Rufus' lap while they're sharing a cell. Doubly cute for letting her use his tail as a blanket.
  • Last of His Kind: Terinu is the only Ferin seen outside of flashbacks. But as the Gene Mage notes upon finding him, "Where there is one there must be others."
  • Made a Slave: Teri's childhood friend, Matt, who was indentured to Mavra Chan when he was eight to pay for his father's drinking induced debts. It says something about how sucktacular his family's life was that this was an improvement.
  • Mama Bear: His foster mother, Melika, a Vulpine female who took responsibility for raising him as a baby, having just met him less than five minutes before, just because she thought it was right. Later she helps steal a fighter and stages a jail break to help rescue him, culminating in her confronting a squad of Space Marines intent on killing him.
    Melika: Harm my cub and I'll paint this chamber with your entrails!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dream Stalker, Brutal Brooks, Fenris Storm.
  • Never Learned to Read: The Gene Mage never corrected the Ferin's built in dyslexia when he uplifted them, as a security measure when they served the Dominion.
  • People Jars: Happens a lot, between Ferin power cells, Galapados gestation tubes and Princess Titalia's non-sentient breeding clones.

  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Terinu's entire race was genetically engineered for this purpose, and to enjoy it.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The main character has the body of an acrobat and a seven foot long prehensile tail. Fans can work with that...
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: General Gisko, leader of the Galapagos, who even in defeat is respectful of his enemies.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Gisko again, given his upset about being called away while his wife is pregnant.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: That would be the Varn, yes.
  • Servant Race: Terinu's reason for existence. The Ferin were designed to serve the Varn as a genetically "pure" race of servants.
  • Shout-Out: Mavra Chan is named for Mavra Chang, a mercenary and pirate from Jack Chalker's Well World series.
  • Slave Race: Everyone who served the Varn Dominion, except the Varn themselves.
  • Son of a Whore: Terinu, in the "Raised in a whorehouse" variety. Except it was a cabaret. A really high class cabaret.
  • Space Fighter: Rufus' beloved Swift Wing model fighter, the White Knight. It has laser cannons and missiles, and Word of God states is about forty years old, but regularly takes out Galapados mook mobiles.
  • Space Pirates: Mavra Chan is definitely one, albeit of modern Somali type rather than the more romantic Yo-Ho-Ho sort.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The Gene Mage arguably, in regards to Terinu's whole race. Then again he did design them.
  • Tautological Templar: The Varn race, as a whole. They are all so utterly convinced that, thinking they're descended from gods, they are invariably good people, so everything they do is good, regardless of the consequences. Enslaving entire sentient species, completely destroying life-bearing planets, slaughtering innocents in the billions, is simply the unavoidable price of "improving" the lives of their victims, and taking a species able to generate bio-electricity, and making them sentient before reducing them to living batteries for their technology, and treating them as pets, is universally considered by them as improving the lot in life of said species. When Gwen gets a face to face chat with the Gene Mage, she not only chews him out for it but adamantly suggests that maybe all the sentient species the Varn have brutalized, especially humanity, might actually have a better chance of finding enlightenment on their own merits, instead of being rounded up and forcefully enslaved into it. The Gene Mage's reaction is equal parts disgust and fury that this pitiably ignorant Ungrateful Bitch just doesn't understand the Varn's "noble intentions" and never will.
  • Technology Uplift: The Varn used this as their justification for conquering most of the sentient species in known space. When they tried this on humanity, who was already more advanced than most of the Varn's previous clients, we fought back and incited rebellions among the other races.
  • There Are No Therapists: Despite a nightmarishly abusive childhood bearing obvious consesquences on his psyche, no one has taken Teri into therapy yet (not that they've really had time).
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: A rare villainous example, when Mavra Chan spears Leeza.
  • Training from Hell: What most of Terinu's time with Mavra Chan consisted of.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Rufus, who at one point pays off a debt Melika had been laboring to get rid of for ten years.
  • Understatement: "Princess Titalia is not having a good day". On that page, she is screaming for her underling's head.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Varn designed this in the Ferin race as a whole, on the genetic level. No matter what Admiral Blake and his crew did in the rebellion against the Varn, they could never get a Ferin to betray their Varn masters. While it has thinned over time, to the point that Ferin no longer consider Varn "masters" by default, a Ferin, like Terinu is genitically compelled to obey the orders of anyone he considers his "master."
  • Uplifted Animal: Ferin were uplifted from a non-sentient alien animal that had the ability to produce bioelectricity. And it's implied that Galapados were engineered from Galapagos marine iguanas.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Subverted in the first story arc, as the weapon belongs to the Dominion and used by the Varn Gene Mage to test Terinu's abilities and crack open a Creo asteroid colony. It's implied that they once had even bigger cannon, used to bombard the Earth when they invaded it 500 years ago.
  • Wham Episode: When Leeza confronts her father about the secret that Humanity committed genocide against the Ferin.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: With indentured criminals no less.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mavra and Brutal Brooks, most definitely, and Titalia is not far behind.