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Webcomic / The Probability Bomb

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Crossing over both Tales of the Questor and its spinoff, Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger, The Probability Bomb is a Kickstarter-funded comic by Ralph Hayes, Jr. It's set in the Empire of the Seven Systems to which QQSR is home. It can be read here.

The Probability Tropes:

  • Back-to-Back Badasses: This page. Sadly, it's ONLY that page, as is Questor!Quentyn's usual luck...
  • Berserk Button: For the Dracon, messing with Time Travel, apparently due to fear of a Reality-Breaking Paradox. This leads to them yanking the time-displaced Quentyn off of the Rangers' ship as soon as they detect him. Unfortunately for them, they happen to strongly resemble intelligent dragons, and they've just yanked an armed, extremely dragon-phobic Quentyn into their main lab... thus pushing his Berserk Button, since he is now surrounded by creatures that look a lot like something that almost killed him twice over.
  • Chained Heat: The two Quentyns, being two parts of the same timeline, are unable to move more than a limited distance apart before temporal effects cause Ranger Quentyn to be teleported instantly to within range of time-displaced Quentyn. Apparently the earlier portion of the timeline is dominant.
    • Now counts as Weaponized Teleportation, as civilian Quentyn walks out into the midst of the mercenaries who have them pinned down — only to have Ranger Quentyn teleported right next to him, fully armed.
  • Deus ex Machina/Diabolus ex Machina: The Heisenberg drive radiates improbable coincidences for exhaust. And Dr. Blackfoot wants to rig it to explode.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Doctor Blackfoot was horrified at what the Nihilists did with their weaponized Heisenberg drives.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When explaining Blackfoot's plan, Ranger Quentyn mentions that there's a microscopic chance that the Drive's explosion could create a chain reaction that could devastate the galaxy, and of course, and, as Quentyn realizes, the drive makes small chances bigger...
  • Godzilla Threshold: Invoked. The infobroker figures that whatever Dr. Blackfoot is up to must be really serious if the Space Rangers need to resort to pretzelating the timeline and getting ahold of Quentyn Of Freeman Downs to deal with it.
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  • Gory Discretion Shot: Played with. While Commander Wanderer doesn't get one for having his brains spread on the nearest bulkhead, it's not really a very messy depiction in the first place. Sgt. Angeline, on the other hand, gets a very polite one as her cybernetics come tumbling back without her.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Blackfoot, insofar as he can be called a scientist. He intends to use the titular bomb to create life in such a way that witnesses (if any survive) will know for sure that life could have begun without God. Of course, such life would still come about by means of a preexisting intelligence....
  • Not the Intended Use: The Drive being weaponized like the Nihilists did was not something Blackfoot wanted.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Quentyn of Freeman Downs wakes up naked in a futuristic medical chamber (rather unlike any medical practice from his own time), he undoubtedly assumes that whoever put him there doesn't mean well for him. He might even be thinking of the cult of Rosad Beither, known for unethical biological experimentation.
    • A double dose, since (as the Rangers figure out later) they contravened one of the customs of Quentyn's period: Never trust someone who tries to take your weapon. Given they'd disarmed him, his response was — from his point of view — logical.
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  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Both main characters are named Quentyn, after all.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: While other methods are hinted at, the time travel for this story is actually an accidental side effect of the Heisenberg drive, which makes infinitesimally small chances much more likely. In this case, a million-to-one shot that causes the Ranger's ship's drive to yank Quentyn Quinn's ancestor out of the past.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Inverted. It's made quite clear that atheism is the all-but-universally-outgrown superstition.
  • Red Shirt: Oh, and how. The lowest-priced "appearance" slot of the Kickstarter. Ironically, such characters are actually getting more screen time and character development than the character type for which the slot was named.
  • Shout-Out: If the concept of the Heisenberg "probability drive" sounds familiar, that's because it bears a slight resemblance to the Infinite Improbability Drive. Only a slight resemblance, mind you — the Heisenberg Drive uses probability alteration to convince the universe that it's much more likely to be at its destination than at its starting point, so the universe agrees and moves it. Judging from some of the side effects, getting the universe confused may be a bad thing.
  • Straw Nihilist: At first glance, the self-named Nihilists appear to be this. They're actually a subversion. While the members may or may not believe that existence is meaningless, their preferred method of operation is to infiltrate a pre-spaceflight society, convince them that everything is meaningless, and make off with the valuables when the bombs begin to fall. They are currently bankrolling Blackfoot's theft of the probability drive, theoretically to kill off religion by "proving" that life has a chance of coming into existence without Divine Intervention.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Mercilessly averted. It seems Space Rangers don't take kindly to being offered terms for surrender....
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: The Drive works by altering probability, lowering the probability of the ship it's in being at the starting point and raising the chance of it being at the endpoint until the vessel quantum shifts through space. Unfortunately, it's not limited to just location, and can make extremely improbable events (like, slipping on a bannana peel and destroying a space station improbable) much more so, even likely.
  • Writer on Board: Standard Operating Procedure for this author.


Example of: