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Spoilers abound. You have been warned.
A carbosilicate amorph, Schlock is the titular mercenary who joined Tagon's Toughs in the first strip. He outwardly resembles a mobile, talking pile of poop with eyes, and is possessed of a childlike lack of morals, enthusiastic love of violence, and an enormous appetite. He is also a remarkably adept warrior whose strange biology and unexpectedly sharp mind gives him many advantages over his opponents. And where that fails, Schlock compensates with guns; many, many guns.
- Adult Child: Many of the things he says (or just the way he says them) give this impression. Which is accurate, as he was (uniquely) created as an adult mind with no memories or developed sense of morality.
- Air Vent Passageway: He is an amorphous blob who can easily squeeze through holes as small as his eyes. He has, at least twice, also used the air vents (well, sewer system) to enter.
- Ambiguous Innocence: he's often mistaken for a psychopath due to his enthusiasm for violence, but he is capable of true friendship and loyalty as well.
- Awesome but Impractical : Schlock sitting on a Plasgun, or a pair of Plasguns, to attain flight. However he has very little control, and usually crashes.
- Invoked this reaction in people with his sawed-off multicannons - they were literally sawed off, and the excised parts were what kept them from randomly exploding. (Kevyn found them before he ever got to use them, though, and made them safe enough to use.) "Awesome" in the older sense, really.
- Awesome Yet Practical: Schlock likes the Strohl Munitions BH-209(m/i) plasgun as it packs a punch and makes a certain sound upon powering up ("OMMMMMMMINOUS HUMMMMMMMMM") that serves as an effective deterrent up-close. It also looks like a couple of rolls of duct tape stuck onto a bowling ball with a handle sticking out from the bottom.
- Boring Yet Practical: The Strohl Munitions AP-130, which replaced the BH-209, is tiny yet just as powerful, so while it's more popular as a compact weapon, it lacks the feel and deterrence factor. (Schlock currently uses imitations of the BH-209i, as the originals are no longer being made. Future!Schlock, unable to find his preferred weapons, made do with AP-130s.)
- Big Eater: How much he can eat is likely limited by his current size, and he can increase his size in proportion to how much he eats - he's (temporarily) grown several times his usual mass on at least one occasion.
- Blob Monster: A carbosilicate amorph, to be specific. Has some control over his shape as well, but nothing more complex than reshaping himself into a barrel or a delta wing-shaped form for low-gravity gliding (which he has more or less perfected, though it still ends with a crash landing every time he tries it).
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mini!Schlock, having lost the majority of his memories, is like this.
- Deadly Dodging: A variation. He has, on occasion, arranged for enemy gunfire to pass straight through him harmlessly and hit enemies out the other end. (He generally has a look of "why do people even bother shooting me".)
- Dual-Wielding: Being a Blob Monster, he triple wields a BFG and two sawed-off multicannons whenever he can get away with it.
- Extra Eyes: Schlock had spares, for a while (they were as mismatched as his usual pair), after combining with his future self. They came in handy for aiming his BFGs, but also seemed to act independent of their host at times. He used one of them to store memories
- Extreme Omnivore: Is explicitly able to eat anything he can fit in his mouth, as long as it isn't strong enough to "eat" him. He even mocks human pickiness about what we eat here
- Fusion Dance: Amorphs use this to exchange memories, to fight, and to reproduce.
- There's also an interesting one when Schlock tries to trade memories with a timeclone of himself - the intellectual thought-processes recognize two unique Schlocks, but the biology thinks it's recovered an errant fragment of the same amorph unit. What ensues is described (to give us non-amorphs perspective) as being sort of like trying to resist throwing up, except backwards, and with about the same inevitability of outcome.
- Interspecies Romance: And no, it doesn't "rhyme with 'Pentacle Rex.'".
- Just Eat Him: Schlock's favorite tactic after "just burninate him with triple-wielded BFGs".
- Lightning Bruiser: Schlock is faster than he looks, as his entire body is essentially one giant, amorphous muscle. Since he has neither bones nor internal organs, he can hit with maximum force without worrying about damaging anything.
- Mars Needs Women: Schlock has a thing for human females. Not in the biological sense, though, since for amorphs reproduction consisting pretty much of breaking off pieces of themselves and giving them a personality modeled off of somebody else.
- Memory Gambit: When the Toughs were going to have their memories of Project Laz'r'us and their capture altered, Schlock uses his unique biology to preserve them
- Mook Horror Show: The 2001 Schlocktoberfest has Schlock regenerating, eating his friends to increase his mass, and then tearing apart what the transcript calls "Diamond Bugs". The Bugs are juveniles and they see Schlock as a "REGENERATING ZOMBIE CANNIBAL".
- Nigh Invulnerable: Little things like being blown into a million pieces or sucked into a hard vacuum are mere inconveniences for Shlock. (His eyes, on the other hand, are comparatively vulnerable.) The only thing that can reliably kill him is a massive plasma explosion, and the one time that happened it just resulted in Mini!Schlock. More recently another opponent defeated him with a high-pressure hose-pipe. While this didn't kill him, the forty-odd bits of Schlock were almost helpless.
- Phrase Catcher: From anyone he tackles: "You're faster than you look."
- Plus any number of comparisons to a large pile of fecal matter.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Mini!Schlock, created when Schlock ate a plasma grenade, is almost as deadly as full-sized Schlock, but is small enough to ride on your shoulder or hide in a large cup.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: All the time, though with rather limited success.
- Running Gag: Schlock's "default" shape is an amorphous pile of greenish-brown matter. Most people, upon seeing him, mistake him for the, ahem, leavings of a very large and very sick animal. Also, Schlock being "faster than he looks."
- Seldom-Seen Species: Until Schlock got his own cartoon, Amorphs weren't widely known throughout the galaxy. Apparently less than 200 of them have ever left their homeworld. Schlock himself usually just rolls with it.
- Sphere Eyes: Amorphs doesn't have eyes naturally - they grow on a certain kind of tree and are literal spheres. (Schlock himself uses a pair that are mismatched in size, while other Amorphs have been seen using more or less than that.)
- Starfish Aliens: Specifically limited to his physiology, as he (usually) relates pretty easily to his teammates otherwise.
- Stomach of Holding: One of Schlock's handier traits is his ability to keep equipment inside himself without digesting it, and this gets used by his team every chance they can. He normally just keeps weapons inside there, but occasionally...
- Super Senses: His sense of Smell/Taste (he seems to consider them the same thing) is beyond superhuman by human standards and is spread out over his entire body. This is both a blessing (he can track individuals this way) and a curse (...as well as the crap they stepped in this morning). He grumbles about it occasionally.
- His hearing is also impressive, if overlooked.
- His eyesight is good enough to pick out a sniper at 500 meters, and can be expanded up to (at least) four eyes.
- Plus his ability to morph means that he can move his eyes a meter or so apart allowing for excellent triangulation.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Genuine Imitation Ovalkwik, which he likes to eat by the industrial-sized barrelful (AKA "the tub of happiness").
- Xanatos Speed Chess: After being an Unwitting Pawn for
Trenchcoat MonobrowTimmons' plot, he suddenly figures out who the murderer is, arranges for Lunesby's escape, and creates enough chaos to keep Timmons from catching on until it's too late.
Captain Tagon is the human commander of the Toughs. He's a practical and straightforward officer, primarily interested in money, though he will rarely be possessed of principles beyond merely getting paid. Though he does not possess a high-level education, Tagon is a tactical genius and skilled soldier, and remarkably adept at getting money, and often manages to get paid multiple times for a single job.
- Back From the Dead: By way of Time Travel.
- Book Dumb
- Colonel Badass: While technically a captain, Kaff Tagon is certainly this when he decides that its time to get dangerous. After getting a hidden knife thrown into his eye he responds by pulling it out and thanking the thrower for arming him. Then going after him.
- Conjoined Eyes: Stands in contrast to the rest of the cast; only Kaff and his father Karl have these.
- Eye Scream: Oh. Fork.
- A Father to His Men: He is loyal to his subordinates, and they are to him in return, although he doesn't try for a paternal aura.
- That said, his actions during the Force Multiplication arc are pretty much exactly that of a worried parent. Towards the end, he's basically on his way to stage a one-man rescue of his 'men'.
- Genius Ditz: He is practically illiterate, misses obvious jokes and thought his Shoulder Angel was a large mosquito - but he's positively brilliant as a military commander, and no slouch at contract negotiation (and blackmail), either.
- And then there was the time their temporary military liaison was suggesting they pick a spot to hide in for a while, using a galactic map and darts. The result?
Tagon: Hah! Bullseye!
Ceeta: That's the Galactic Core, Tagon. We don't want to go there.
- Of course, considering what happened at the Galactic Core later...
- Happy Dance: Tagon's dance is so familiar that while he is away the team points out when he would have done the happy dance.
- Made of Iron: Many of Tagon's mercenaries have various artificially-induced boosts to their strength and endurance, but lately Tagon has been particularly Badass. Bad guy throws a knife and sticks Tagon in the eye with it. Tagon pulls it out of his socket and uses it to kill the bad guys.
- Selective Obliviousness: Elf's (since abandoned) crush on Tagon, ignored and misinterpreted in various ways by Tagon.
A human mercenary defined by an overly-large nose.
- Gag Nose: Which he puts in the way of harm in hopes of getting rid of since the company won't cover mere cosmetic surgery.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He tries this a few times thanks to the Gag Nose.
- Meaningful Name: As Chisulo Lampshades: "Woah, Monkey Aardvark!"
A human scientist and officer who serves as Tagon's effective second-in-command. Kevyn is he genius behind the development of the teraport, as well as a multitude of other inventions. Though not as confident in command as Tagon, nor as competent a fighter, Kevyn is arguably one of the most dangerous of the Toughs because of his intellect and willingness to create truly terrifying weaponry. Toting antimatter bombs on one's shoulders also helps in a pinch.
A second Kevyn exists due to time travel shenanigans. He does not serve with the Toughs, instead devoting himself to pure research and living next door to carl Tagon, Kaff Tagon's father.
- Badass Boast: "I am Commander Kevyn Andreyasn. I have shaped the destinies of worlds, of nations, of galaxies. I have created and I have destroyed. I have followed and I have lead. I have known love and it has known me right back. I flirt with death for a living and I have cheated the reaper more times than I can remember"
- Back From the Dead: Multiple times.
- Blind Without'Em: Subverted. Kevyn sees perfectly well without his glasses, but only in the visible spectrum. He finds the cosmic background radiation comforting.
- Cloning Blues
- Cool Shades: Kevyn's glasses allow him to see practically every form of electromagnetic radiation known to man.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: He uses his blood to write a warning for Captain Tagon, about Kevyn's Antimatter grenade epaulet being armed, as the same injuries that gave him blood to write with also prevented him from being able to speak.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Seen aptly in this strip, though with sunglasses.
- Mad Scientist: subverted. He has more common sense and better intuition than anyone that smart really ought to have (though his For Science! invention of the Teraport had unintended consequences, like plunging every civilization in the galaxy into massive wars that have killed trillions and are still ongoing). Makes up for it with the requisite giant ego, though... And even that gets punctured by Elf's intuitive gifts.
Kevyn: Before any of you unwisely decide to take this as a cue to step further out of line than you were already planning to, I'd like to say two words about my position as the company's munitions commander and resident mad scientist: "Guinea pigs."
Grunt: I want my mommy.
- Three words: Antimatter epaulet grenades.
- My Nayme Is: Kevyn. With a "y".
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Lampshaded, Averted, then Subverted; Kevyn points out to Hob that just because he is a scientist it doesn't mean that he's an explosives expert - then shows that he is an expert at them, but only as a hobby.
- What Have I Become?: Kevyn, after Petey's blood-nannies rebuild him as an armored killing machine.
Bradley, Jeff ("Brad")
One of several human "grunt" mercs on the Toughs' payroll. Brad serves as muscle, and considering his sheer size after getting "boosted," he's very good at it.
- The Big Guy: Was absolutely scrawny due to his growth being stunted during his formative years. Then he got his body lost and regrown, and he outsized even Nick.
- Note that, even when he was scrawny, he was capable of stuff like this. (The 'Toughs didn't have their powered armor at that point - that's all him.)
- Dumb Muscle: Definitely not the dumbest muscle in the 'Toughs by a long shot, though.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Of the Someone Has to Die variety. (He seems to have made the decision inside of a few seconds, to boot.)
- Killed Off for Real: And gets a nice memorial in Credomar.
- Older Than They Look: Had trouble getting into bars before getting un-scrawnied.
Bunnigus, Dr. Edward
The human chief medical officer for the Toughs after he previous doctor suffered a bad case of unexpected death. She was the daughter of a couple who were too mentally handicapped to be allowed to naturally bear children, and was thus gene-tailored to be both hyper-intelligent and an exotic dancer. Spent most of the strip engaged to Reverend Theo, and eventually married him.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Play with a company member's heart, and the sweet, gentle doctor is likely to go all Mama Bear on you.
- Chocolate Baby: Subverted. Her parents were white rednecks, but she's entirely vat-grown from scratch since her parents were too stupid to be allowed to breed naturally under eugenics laws. There's no indication that her parents were in any way unhappy with how she turned out. The only thing that bothered them was the fact that the "name" written on her tag wasn't pretty enough.
- Designer Babies: The negative side of this trope doesn't seem to exist in the setting, at least as far as we've seen.
- Gender Blender Name: Dr. Edward Bunnigus
- Hospital Hottie: Lampshaded
- Ms. Fanservice: Lampshaded
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Medical, not psychiatric. Despite occasionally dispensing advice of that nature.
- Tomboyish Name: The doctor is prominently female, in spite of her name.
A genetically-constructed ambassador that the Toughs were originally supposed to deliver to a diplomatic conference. It turns out that the species that created him designed him to be a living bomb. Once he was deactivated, he joined the Toughs as both a negotiator and cook.
- Ambadassador: Less badass than most of the cast, but see Handicapped Badass.
- Camp Cook
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: A mild version. There's usually nothing inedible or wrong with his cooking taste-wise, but he has a whisk for an arm, and is therefore enthusiastic about blending, whipping, pureeing...
- Eyepatch of Power: Lost (rather, used) his right eye during a jailbreak.
- Handicapped Badass: He's broken out of jail before by tearing off pieces of his own body and using them as bombs. As a result, he's down two arms and one eye.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Averted - diplomatic training plus cooking chops equals a hassle-free interrogation, apparently.
- Technical Pacifist: As a former diplomat he seems to prefer this - and as the company cook he's rarely in a position to inflict violence anyway - but he didn't have a problem with ripping parts of his own body off and using them as bombs; underestimate him at your own peril.
- The Unpronounceable: As Howard so kindly explains in a footnote:
Ambassador Ch'vorthq's name is pronounced as follows: start with the hard "CH" as in "china," rather than the soft "CH" from "chevrolet." Now make the sound of an expensive piece of china being struck by a moving chevrolet--that noise is represented with the apostrophe. The rest is easy. Say "vorthq" with the soft "th" from the word "the" and a "q" like in "qetzlcouatl."
- Why Am I Ticking?: Gets the ability to set himself off after Schlock points this out.
An uplifted elephant who joined the Toughs after the a particularly lucrative job sent many of the crew into retirement. Touchy about his "race."
- Angry Black Man: Sort of. He fits many of the same trope stereotypes, but he's a neo-phant -- a new variant of an uplifted elephant with crude hands and a slightly smaller frame. He gets mad at anything that might be possibly construed as derogatory towards elephants, uplifted or not.
- Bash Brothers: With Elizabeth.
- The Big Guy: His position in the 'Toughs. They have several Big Guys, but Chisulo is The Big Guy.
- Dumb Muscle: Averted. He shows some unexpected smarts during the Barsoom Circus incident.
- Fantastic Racism: Not only are "loxies," uplifted elephants, subject to a bit of racism from humans, but he suffers from prejudice from existing elephants.
- And on top of that, he gets mistaken for the neo-phant equivalent of a zoophiliac at one point.
- Uplifted Animal
Der Trihs, John
Previous human second-in-command to Tagon, Trihs is a marginally-competent but mentally-limited officer; reliable, in his own way, but not especially bright, and mostly serves as either comic relief or a punching bag for threats. Tagon allowed him to join due to their service together in Celeshul's Terraforming Wars. He is actually a lot more intelligent than even he realizes.
- Amusing Injuries: Repeatedly. He's ended up as nothing but a head-in-a-jar on at least three occasions. (At some point after joining Tagon's Toughs, his skull was replaced with tougher materials, keeping him alive in situations that would have otherwise killed him.)
- Broken Hero: They were friends before the experiments that screwed him up, so Tagon took him in after the UNS put him out on (not unjustified) disability. He apparently wasn't a slouch on the 'hero' part, either.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The man can bend prison bars bare-handed, should the need arise.
- Genius Ditz: A result of top-secret experiments, the point of which was to improve his already impressive intelligence, but ended up adding the 'ditz' part. Tagon thinks the 'genius' bit isn't hidden too deeply, either:
Kevyn: "He can't pour sand out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel."
Tagon: "Only because he doesn't complain about sand in his boots."
- Lovable Coward: Due to his record of Amusing Injuries, he's a little gun shy. Usually.
- Red Shirt: He subverts and personifies this trope. "Subverts" because he survives to retire on a resort planet with a pretty girl. As of a side-story in the dead-tree version, they're engaged.
- Sdrawkcab Name: ...Geddit now?
Diego-Garcia, Michelle ("Chelle")
A human officer who serves as one of the Tough's tank crewmen.
Ebbirnoth, Pel ("Ebby")
A Unioc officer who serves alongside Schlock as a platoon commander and general face-wrecker. An excellent shot, as his single eye is the same size as a human head, and serves up a substantial part of the Tough's snark ordnance.
- Boom! Headshot!: Subverted; His brain is located in his pelvic cavity. "Head" shots are incredibly painful by merit of eyes being basically large nerve clusters, but not actually debilitating or in any way fatal beyond the loss of vision. It does make him "talky", though.
- Chekhov's Skill: Sergent Ebbirnoth's degree in Advanced Xenoanatomy.
- Subverted. It doesn't make him a surgeon.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Disembodied Eyebrows: He has a single, huge eye, so they're kinda necessary for expression. It does get a little silly sometimes, though, as seen above.
- Mauve Shirt / Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The company's first Unioc character was Junshodan, who was just another background grunt. Somewhere along the line, Junshodan disappeared and the Unioc role was taken up by Sergeant Ebbirnoth, who quickly established a reputation as a Deadpan Snarker working alongside Sergeant Schlock in the HTRN storyline.
- Considering he wasn't named in comic until the Glamour Assault chapter...
- Super Senses: See that big eye? Not only can it shift focus rapidly to provide depth perception, it can distinguish details too small for most humans to see. For all that we binoc types holler about stereo vision, we're not especially "well-endowed".
An AI that was formerly the mind behind a holographic boy band, Ennesby joined the Toughs first as a stowaway in their computers and then as an AI companion who piloted the Serial Peacemaker. After that ship was destroyed, he remained with the Toughs mostly because they were fun and he was their friend. Most commonly embodied as a "maraca" node.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Almost unique amongst AIs in this setting, as he joined the Toughs as a virus and is FREE.
- Boy Band: Ennesby got his start by playing the holographic role of an entire such band, the New Sync Boys, hence his name (a "reference" to N'Sync, New Kids on the Block, and Back Street Boys).
- Hurricane of Puns: Particularly in his early appearances after joining the protagonists.
- Kicked Upstairs: Happens to Ennesby in a way, being made an 'Adjutant', a poorly defined rank.
- Weapons Grade Vocabulary: Trope Namer, from this strip.
Foxworthy, Ellen ("Elf")
Formerly a grunt, Elf is a human officer who rose through the ranks to serve as a tanker, then an officer, and finally as one of the highest-ranking members of the Toughs. Elf has had romantic troubles throughout her stint with the Toughs, with most of the men she gets involved with ending up dead. Eventually settled into a stable and non-dead relationship with Kevyn.
- Action Girl
- Cartwright Curse: Elf has a running not-so-gag that any man she kisses is killed. So far her tally is Hob, Captain Tagon in an alternate universe, Kevyn (multiple times, but his soldier boosts have brought him back every time) and finally Pronto and Brad (whom she kissed in an intentional invocation of the trope to make them go along with an almost-suicide mission).
- Subverted with Nick, the one who actually believed in the curse.
- And then Howard starts laughing at us with this.
- Subverted with Nick, the one who actually believed in the curse.
- Characterization Marches On: Elf started out as a short-tempered tomboy grunt who was intimidated by intelligence and who abused stims to manage grief. Around the end of book 7 / beginning of book 8, she began to reveal the Hidden Depths of intelligence, wit, and responsibility that define her today. "Coincidentally," this happened not long after two in-universe Fan Service Packs and just before she started dating Kevyn, who borders a bit on Author Avatar.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: At first, Elf was much, much smaller than the male members of the group, especially Brad. But the addition of giant prosthetic legs fixed that eventually. Later she gets a body upgrade during one of her regrowths.
- Lady of War: "The modern Goddess of War". After kicking her stim habit and getting her current body, Elf eventually matured into this.
- People Jars: At one point, the author gets away with a full-frontal nude shot of her in a regeneration tank by making her too nude to have skin. "I'm as naked as the day I was born. And then some."
- Pettanko: Not that she haven't a shape to show at all before her "remodeling", but it's easy to see why she easily passed as a boy.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Elf gets some Rapunzel Hair as part of a TV makeover, attracting the attention of the captain for the first time.
- Not to mention, her last stint in the 'people jar' enhanced her height by several inches. (To Kevyn's evident appreciation.)
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Elf joined this way, although it fell apart when she was fitted for armor.
- Tsundere: Although she eventually grew out of most of it. Most.
A Frellenti NCO, Legs is a tall, flightless, and very fast avianoid creature. Though she lacks arms, she makes up for it with a pair of cannons mounted to her helmet and a prehensile tongue that can operate firearms without trouble.
- Action Girl: Plays out differently than usual. She's fragile compared to the other females in the Toughs and Andy can easily restrain her with one arm left over. But we only rarely get to see her fight, and she can do this.
- Armed Legs: Averted - despite her feet being obviously prehensile and her legs apparently stronger than they look, her weapon - if she carries one - appears around her neck when she deploys her helmet.
- Armless Biped: The Frellenti had birds for ancestors, leaving them with tiny vestigial wings useful only for gesturing. Legs makes do with her tongue and feet, but even this causes the occasional problem...
- Disembodied Eyebrows: Unlike the Uniocs, she doesn't have them all the time, and they only seem to pop up as needed. They showed up in her first appearance, but slipped away with the Art Shift, only to show up in places like here.
- Fragile Speedster: She can easily outrun a human and has natural flight instincts. However, those same instincts have, on at least two occasions, resulted in her getting knocked out, and it seems like a stiff breeze could knock her over. This is especially when compared to some of the other 'Toughs.
- Le Parkour: Many of the toughs got some training in Parkata Urbatsu, but Legs is by far the most skilled.
- Living Prop: Sometimes. As with Andy, she can be easily picked out from the crowd by her proportions.
- Multipurpose Tongue: Hers is long and prehensile, not to mention that it has enough strength to club a man senseless and a Schlock-level sense of taste... but she talks funny when she uses it this way.
- Only Sane Man: Often a voice of reason amongst her trigger-happy coworkers.
- Overly Long Name: Known as "Legs" due to this trope, much to her initial chagrin (she thought it was in reference to her gender).
- Show Some Leg: Tries this at one point, but it doesn't really work on her human teammates.
- Super Senses: Legs can do the same super-taste identification trick as Schlock with that ridiculously long tongue of hers, albeit with less accuracy. (Given Elf's reaction, she probably doesn't do it that often. We quickly find out that she's hesitant about using it as it would require her to lick surfaces of unknown sterility, and she doesn't have Schlock's immune system.)
- Technical Pacifist: Maybe? She's a tank or transport pilot normally, apparently isn't capable of bringing the same firepower to a fight like her teammates, and generally isn't shown killing anyone (she's good at quickly taking down a humanoid opponent, though) - so it's not too surprising to see her say something like this.
- The Watson: Quite a few of her down-time interactions with the rest of the 'Toughs (mostly Schlock) involve her acting this way. Judging by how she interacts and reacts to them, the impression is that she didn't have much contact with humans before joining.
Nicholson, Burt ("Nick")
Nick is another of the Tough's big, hefty, musclebound human bruisers. He eventually retires fromt he Toughs after refusing to undergo Petey's corrective surgery on the Toughs' memories.
- Dumb Muscle: Nick can deliver a 12-megapascal punch - twice the force any late 20th-century boxer could muster - and has the reinforced bone structure to not shatter his hand in the process. He's also superstitious, gullible, and easily distracted, but not stupid, to put it in Legs' words.
- Mauve Shirt
- Sarcasm Blind: His skull is impervious to sarcasm.
- Screw Destiny: Nick: No curses. If I get dead, it's 'cause I chose this.
- The Big Guy
- Those Two Guys: With Shep before the latter's retirement.
Fobius, Reverend Theo
The Very Reverend Theo Fobius is a human chaplain who joined the Toughs mostly because no other chaplain was willing to sign onto a mercenary crew. Theo serves as the moral center of the mercenary crew; this is not an oxymoron, though he often has to struggle with his flock of semi-sociopathic guns-for-hire. Though he is a competent fighter in his own right, his greatest skill is with the sword. Engaged to and eventually married to Doctor Bunnigus.
- Characterization Marches On: Compare his first funeral service with his second. In general, he's gone from the "Irreverand" to sharing the role of beleaguered conscience of the company with Massey.
- Celibate Hero: Up until he got Happily Married with Dr. Bunnigus, anyway. Celibate again once his memories of his wedding were proved false until they can have a proper ceremony.
- Contemplative Boss: Theo Phobius strikes the pose in this strip.
- Cool Shades: Just not as cool as Kevyn's.
- Ensign Newbie: It's a little odd that a company Reverend would ever get a rank like this, but when he does he has the good sense to trust the grunts.
- Fantastic Racism: His only major moral failing is a strong distrust for A Is.
- The Heart: The Reverend fills the role of a typical military chaplain; providing a voice of reason and a good deal of moral and logical wisdom on just about any subject.
- Non-Action Guy: Most of the time. The company Reverend probably shouldn't be on the front lines in the first place, but he's capable of defending himself in a pinch.
Pibald, Shore ("Pi")
A human demolitions specialist who suffers from paranoia, megalomania, and obsessive lot for explosives. Naturally, he's perfect for a mercenary crew.
- Ax Crazy/Bunny Ears Lawyer/Cloudcuckoolander: He manages to be all of these simultaneously. This gets toned down a bit (better-adjusted meds?) after he makes Lieutenant.
- Chekhov's Gunman: First mentioned in 2002. First seen in 2004. Actually enters the cast permanently in 2007.
- Contest Winner Cameo: Based on a poster on the Schlock forums.
- Crazy Awesome: "Every bit as irrational as his namesake", and yet it's exactly that craziness that has served him well on at least two occasions. He's also the company's demolitions tech.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: See Genius Ditz, below.
- Genius Ditz: Emphasis on the 'Ditz', but he was the first to figure out that Credomar was a hyperspace weapon -- mainly because no one else thought of that idea, because that would be crazy.
- Mad Bomber: YES.
- The Peter Principle: Pi was promoted to an officer largely based on false memories, though apparently in-character for him, implanted by UNS agents who did not have Tagon's Toughs' best interests at heart. He has not exactly risen to the occasion in terms of trustworthiness: he remained competent enough, but not sane enough.
- Properly Paranoid: On at least three occasions, and he's pretty good at coming up with counter-plans.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The strip isn't consistent about whether his name is "Pibald" or "Piebald." ("Pibald" is the current spelling.)
A human demolitions specialist who is more mentally stable than Corporal Pibald, but still possesses an obsessive love of explosives and the electronics associated with them.
- Ax Crazy/Bunny Ears Lawyer/Cloudcuckoolander: He manages to be all of these at different times.
- Contest Winner Cameo: Based on a poster on the Schlock forums.
- Duct Tape for Everything: Especially tying up prisoners.
- Killed Off for Real
The Tough's human lawyer  who joined after being targetted by the Partnership Collective. Massey is a skilled legal representative and can fight in a pinch, though his battles are most often waged in the courtroom or in settlements with other lawyers.
- Amoral Attorney: Subverted. Massey is a genuinely principled and decent lawyer. He is also responsible for getting the Toughs the contract on the Partnership Collective, which plays this trope straight.
- Massey does tend (especially when talking to the captain) to paint things as bad PR/legal ideas when it appears that part of his real concern is moral. On the other hand, this is a really good idea when talking to the captain. Legal violations and PR goofs are generally more likely to affect the payout than moral issues.
- To wit.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: The Partnership Collective tried to turn him into one of them by implanting specialized hypernet nodes in his brain, but the operation was interrupted, and now he can spy on the Collective but it cannot control him.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness/Sophisticated As Hell: Massey's legal vocabulary is easily larger than most of the company's. That said, he has been known to beat people up with big words.
Shephard, Jeremiah ("Shep")
Another oversized human bruiser, Shep is characterized by a "symbiote" visor over his eyes. Eventually retired and returned to his home at Haven Hive.
- Disability Superpower: Thanks to The Symbiote covering his blind eyes. He can apparently see through walls.
- Dumb Muscle: Though not to the extent of Nick, and by later books he's pretty much gotten over this.
- Mauve Shirt
- Put on a Bus: For several story arcs. He's back as a major character in Book 12, Part III, sans symbiote.
- Those Two Guys: With Nick before he retired.
An AI that Tagon created specifically to be loyal to him after Ennesby demonstrated his independence by getting the Serial Peacemaker blown up. TAG eventually ends up being rebuilt with a female avatar named Tagioalisi.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: More in the line of gloating and occasionally dangerous initiative. Other than that, he was nicer than he looks and sounds -- not that it was too hard.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: He saved almost everyone's live at Credomar and what's his reward? Getting taken apart to be 'repaired' by Para and never waking up again, after he "resigned" and went catatonic over this.
- Evil Laugh: It comes with the standard skin.
- I Am Not a Gun: Though initially it appeared Tag's problem was with not following orders, the resultant angst afterward was definitely due to killing all those civilians.
- No Sense of Humor: Tag was originally created with no sense of humor, but has tried to learn it to better understand his opponents.
- Shout-Out: Originally he spoke only in quotes from Warcraft II.
A gift from Petey, Tailor is a bot that was originally intended to design new uniforms for the Toughs for Tagon's birthday. he has since found far greater utility as a member of the team, especially after Para got a hold of him.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Fullerene-cloth armor is technically clothing, so naturally he must be able to cut the material for them.
- Improbable Weapon User: His scissors.
- Took a Level In Badass: I AM A SURGEON.
An enthusiastic Fobott'r mercenary, whose species possesses four arms. Andy is usually in the company of Legs or Schlock, and his multiple limbs make him an effective combatant.
- Multi Wielding: He brags about being able to quad wield, having four arms. Thurl is unimpressed, since Andy only has two eyes (and therefore wouldn't be able to aim them properly - not that this stops him from trying).
Thurl: I'll put down 'very enthusiastic' and 'seen too many John Woo movies.'
A human officer who serves as the Toughs' administrator.
- Almighty Janitor: The most experienced member in the company and vital for his skills in organization and business. He has threatened to quit the moment he's ever given an officer's rank.
- The Smart Guy: Thurl is the smartest human on the ship after Kevyn, and often assists in matters such as contracts, stock market trading, and other administrative duties.
A young human girl who joined the toughs as a "roboticist." An expert in all things mechanical, she is just as adept as Kevyn when it comes to machinery and adept at general science, although her skills are more focused on AI and robotics. Unaccustomed to combat, Para has some issues with violence, and the first two violent escapades she encountered left her a nervous wreck afterwards.
- Action Girl: Deconstruction. She has not undergone proper soldier training, she has killed before, and she suffers PTSD in combat for it. That's not to say she can't be very useful in her own way. On the other hand...
- Badass: okay, she can't fight. But she's so confident in her ability to subvert robots from the enemy that when a criminal fires a gun at her from close range she doesn't even blink--because she knows that one of her newly-befriended combat bots will catch the bullet.
- Charm Person: She apparently likes to be looked upon with adoration. And with AI she can make this happen.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Way back there is mention of the Henke-Ventura Scale regarding AI intelligence. That can't be a coincidence.
- The Dreaded: Among robots and A Is.
- Heroic BSOD: Suffers one after killing several thugs in self defense, and continues to have bouts of PTSD long afterward when placed in combat situations.
- Hidden Depths: Possibly, since the recent storyline shows she knows Spy Speak, and probably either is involved with UNS intelligence or "merely" spied on the spies for lulz with her robots.
- Older Than They Look: Looked young but not particularly childish when she first appeared, but got caught flat-footed by Art Evolution.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Unlike Schlock, she can actually pull it off effectively.
- Stealth Pun: Para Ventura (aka "Para Chute")
- Teen Genius: Nineteen, looks like she's twelve, and is so good at robotics that her mere presence can terrify AIs. (Her name suggests that she's possibly descended from the co-originator of the Hencke/Ventura scale of AI capability.)
- Spanner Wench: Lots of the females are technically competent, but Ventura is the purest example.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Ventura has a rather... curious attitude toward AI. She brainwashes them as needed and scares with enthusiastic modification proposals all the time. On the other hand, she began to somewhat like Kevin only after hearing him "treating robots as if they're people" and chose to buy and set free the bots she compromised rather than leave them to be wiped.
- She's kinda a robo-Dominatrix. If you are a robot and in her vicinity, you will obey her and you will like it. But your bits are safe in her hands - you will never suffer damage to your personality and/or memories. Someone who does do such things to robots in her vicinity will receive the equivalent of Prison Rape and they will not like it.
Kevyn's sister, Breya has been with the Toughs on and off throughout the strip, as well as arranging for a coalition strike against the Wormgate Corporation, research into the nature of the wormgates and the Gatekeepers, and eventually landing a lob as an ambassador to the Fleetmind. Married to Haban.
- Action Girl: She's been shown to know how to hold her own in a fight, thanks to growing up with multiple brothers.
- Four-Star Badass
- Lady of War
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: the whole of the story behind Breya's gathering and commanding of a massive fleet to depose a Sufficiently Advanced Alien race, including what must have been an incredible battle - entirely offscreen.
A former UNS officer, Kathryn encountered the Toughs while coordinating a group of vandalizing free-runners inside Mall One. She keeps getting dragged into scrapes with the Toughs.
- Action Girl
- Femme Fatale
- Hidden Depths
- It's a Small World After All: She was on Tunguska when Xinchub caught Toughs and his overlong gloating got the thing broken.
- Rapunzel Hair
- Retired Badass
Doyt Gyo is a human bounty hunter who is cybernetically grafted to an extremely advanced AI named Haban. After running afoul of the Toughs, Haban is modified to have a greater say in things, resulting in the two personalities merging into one mind. Dotyhaban briefly served as an officer with the Toughs before his fellow bounty hunters set out to capture him.
- Bounty Hunter
- Contract on the Hitman: Used in this storyline.
- Put on a Bus: We don't know what happened to him after he was captured by the UNS.
Haban is a gate-clone of Doyt Gyo/Haban, who caught a bad case of cranial laser that destroyed most of the Doyt personality center. After the brain was reconstructed, Haban took full control over the remaining body and mind. haban is currently married to Breya and partially connect to the Fleetmind.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Haban, to Elf, here.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: The Doyt (human) part of him was killed when his brain got shot out by a plasma rifle, but the Haban (robot) part was intact and, with medical treatment, was able to salvage the body for his own use.
The Longshoreman Of The Apocalypse, "LOTA"
A giant robot built by Para out of spare parts and a damaged tank. LOTA is highly intelligent, can teraport, and after saving Credomar from itself, becomes the administrator of the entire station.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Non-evil example, but he clearly did not work out as intended.
- Cranial Processing Unit: Averted, it's even commented on how it would be foolish to stick a robot's AI core in a bit sticking out at the end. And apparently hitting the part that actually contains the core won't always work either.
- Humongous Mecha: Built from the damaged chassis of a flying tank.
- Teleport Spam: "The building has now been evacuated. Rapid teraporting is fun!"
- Third Person Person: Lota is too large for your puny pronouns.
- Try to Fit That on A Business Card
Petey was once known as the Sword of Inevitable Justice, an O'benn Thunderhead Superfortress which suffered a bad case of mutiny. One thing led to another, and the Sword eventually found its way into the employ of Kaff Tagon, where he received both friends and a rename. A few orders with long-term repercussions followed, and Petey found himself both free of O'benn control and controlling a fleet of unfettered AI warships that he turned right around at the genocidal psycho-bears.
When the Paan'uri attempted to destroy the galaxy, Petey organized a massive coalition force to fight the dark matter entities. The AI of thousands of ships banded together to form a Fleetmind that won the ensuing war, and then decided that disbanding would be detrimental to the galaxy's well-being. Taking control of the zero-point power generator built at the heart of the galaxy, the Fleetmind and the massive fleet of warships at its command became a nearly god-like entity, with Petey being the dominant personality. Since then, Petey has turned the Fleetmind against the Paan'uri in Andromeda while engaging in benevolent interventions across the Milky Way galaxy.
Petey: It's official. The Fleetmind is to be treated as a foreign power.
Breya: I'm sorry, what else could you possibly be mistaken for?
Petey: "God" tops the list.
- Benevolent Boss: To Tagon and company whenever they are in his employ (and frequently even when they aren't knowingly). Arguably, to the rest of the fleetmind as well.
- Body Backup Drive
- Crazy Awesome: If for no reason other than the sheer scope and audacity of his plans.
Kevyn: Petey, what's going on here?
Petey: Isn't it obvious?
Kevyn: Well. . . all I can figure is that you decided to attack an entire star system as a feint to draw off the battleplate Vredefort, so that you could escort us from the system with minimal collateral damage.
Petey: See? Obvious.
UNS Boarder: "Minimal collateral damage" and "entire star system" do not belong in the same sentence.
- Deus Est Machina
- Deus Exit Machina
- Fiction 500: "I have a team of accountants whose job it is to count the accountants who keep track of my accountants."
- Loophole Abuse: O'benn AI are hardwired with racial loyalty to O'benn, meaning that the only foolproof way to take over one is to be both a flesh-and-blood O'benn and activating the loyalty switch in their AI core. This can by any flesh-and-blood O'benn, however, including bodies cloned by Petey, fitted with PD nodes in their brains to become extensions of himself, and then dropped into the AI cores of O'been ships.
- Magnificent Bastard
- Mysterious Employer: Not so much his identity, but his motivations. Usually.
- Oh Crap: His reaction when it's pointed out by Kevyn that he's not as invulnerable as he thought.
- Phobia: Petey started out as the AI of a ship driven completely insane by the presence of a ghost on the ship. The ghost, who moaned ominous phrases in Galstandard West, turned out improbably just to be a complex pattern of air trapped in the wastewater system. What drove Petey crazy was the utter improbability that such a coincidence could happen.
- Second Law, My Ass: Petey's ability to repress certain things lets him get away with deceiving Tagon every now and then. It also helps out when Petey is hijacked by an Ob'enn and is unable to directly oppose his orders.
- Selective Obliviousness: Subverted in that Petey was ordered to repress his obsession with ghosts.
- The Tell: Petey's shirt seemed to change color in response to his (self-perceived) relationship with who he talked with. It turned orange (like Tagon) when addressing the grunts and red (like an officer) when addressing Tagon. Also, when he joined the first fleetmind, his ears grew enormous in response to his greater "strength" of mind; these ears reverted to normal (with a uniform change back to red) when Kevyn bursts his bubble momentarily.
- Explained that the aliens who program him place great value on ear size and ornamentation, and hardwired that part of his appearance to reflect his perceived power. After the formation of the fleetmind, his power level was clearly a bit outside the expected parameters.
- Theme Naming: Petey's fleet of warships. Pterodactyl, Perjurious Discourse, Pretentious Drivel, Predictably Damaged (I-VI), Priority Delivery, Painstakingly Defenestrated, Polysyllabic Designation, etc.
- Xanatos Gambit: So very much. One of his plans was found out only because anybody else would have been too short-sighted.
The retired father of Kaff Tagon, Karl Tagon was a famous and skilled general who still knows how to fight and is more than willing to jump back in as-needed.
- Four-Star Badass: General Karl Tagon, if a Take Our Word for It moment of him going out to defend Timeclone!Kevyn with a carbine and literally nothing else is any indication.
- They had to decapitate him and stick his head in a jar to capture him.
Kevyn: That's a pretty effective set of restraints, Karl.
Karl's Decapitated Head in a Jar: I'll get out of 'em, Kev. Just you wait.
- And he did. Admittedly, he had a tiny bit of help from his son, but still.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In a heroic version of the trope, he rushed out to the kidnapping of Timeclone!Kevyn with nothing but his weapon.
- I Want Grandkids: Understandable, since his son is fifty by now and in a line of work that doesn't typically promote a long life.
- Retired Badass: His first two lines in the comic are him being unconcerned by a gun to his temple, and (cheerfully!) reminding his captors that his son slaughtered their friends. He proceeds to build on this from there and makes it clear where his son got the Badass.
- Seen It All: He has the experience and is quick to provide it.
The oldest human being (if you count birst date) Gav was a scientist frozen in cryogenic suspension in the 21st century and thawed out in the 31st. He worked with Kevyn on a project relating to the Gatekeeper buthuundi, and a quick bit of thinking on his part resulted in nine hundred and fifty million gate-clones of Gav being created, turning him into a significant ethnicity and economic force in his own right.
- Cloning Blues: Averted. Each and every single one of him has the same legal privileges as anyone else. In addition, the original was killed almost immediately after the cloning happened, so it's not like there's any crisis of identity. While there's now a lack of leggy blondes who dig blue-haired scientists, forming your own galactic demographic is pretty nice.
- And then played straight when it turns out the Gavs are suffering more than a little angst over being indistinguishable, to the point that they are willing to undergo extensive physical and mental modification in order to be unique again.
- Me's a Crowd: Got gate-cloned 950 million times over.
- Shout-Out: He's a cameo of the creator of Nukees.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair
Head of a human mafia that Kevyn's time clone scammed out of a ton of laundered money through lottery and gambling fraud, who goes after him in retaliation.
- Bullying a Dragon: Due to evidently getting an Idiot Ball permanently lodged in her brain, she can't stop doing this, up to and including refusing to deal with Petey and taunting him when he offers to pay her a substantial bounty for releasing her prisoners, because she's offended by the bribe, even though the alternative is picking a fight with the single most powerful entity in the galaxy.
- Moral Myopia: She is furious that Captain Kevyn brought troops into her home...to rescue him after she kidnapped him and blew up his house. Yes, technically he wronged her first, but it was an accident, and nowhere near as bad.
- Oh Crap: Damico after General Tagon arrived. Or maybe it was just "What the heck, is that a headless monkey with a knife?" The two can be hard to tell apart.
- Followed by a much more definite one when her elite troops where all disarmed (or rather, dishanded) by a robot that runs with scissors.
- Revenge Before Reason: Petey offers to pay her 25 times what she lost to Kevyn Andreyasn's manipulations to fund his plans, in exchange for releasing the captured Kevyn time traveling copy and Karl Tagon to Petey. She refuses, instead demanding "satisfaction". And this is after Clone!Kevyn offered her double what he stole to let them go.
A rebellious alien commander who the Toughs were contracted to take down. A lot more savvy than expected, but not quite savvy enough to handle a supersoldier-boosted Kevyn and Schlock.
- Evil Is Funny: He's an unrepentant bastard who outsmarts the entire company (including two AIs) and is intelligent enough to kill his enemies as soon as possible (and then drop their remains in the incinerator), but he just makes you laugh.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: It's not clear what sort of democracy he promoted, but his methods aren't much better than those of cannibalic aristocracy he fights.
- Singing in the Shower: He really enjoys the acoustics. Due to some weird biology of his species, though, the aural stimulation can in fact be physically pleasurable.
Xinchub, Levaughn Matsui ("Hugo")
A ranking UNS officer who was instrumental in a human immortality project. Xinchub has been one of the series' most enduring villains, due to a combination of slimy manipulations and sheer cleverness.
- Adipose Rex: for most of his storyline
- Enemy Mine
- Fat Bastard: Xinchub is, well, a very fat...
- Jerkass: And enjoys this way too much.
- Magnificent Bastard
- Mysterious Employer: To a lesser extent than Petey.
- Oh Crap: The discovery that Toughs are so fed up with him they can't be hired to help him for any amount of money invoked an expression Petey described rather poetically.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Based on his own recollections and Word of God, he started out as this, and may still be one. But he grew to enjoy the horrible things he had to do.
A subordinate of Xinchub, Jevee is a "purp" - a genetically-modified human subspecies capable of photosynthesis. Was previously a skilled bounty hunter before being briefly placed in control of the Toughs when they were contracted by Xinchub.