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Ciaphas Cain

 Ciaphas Cain
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TVTItem
 Ciaphas Cain
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Ciaphas Cain
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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })Commissar Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! is the protagonist of a series of novels by Sandy Mitchell, set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Where Gaunt's Ghosts is Sharpe meets 40K, Ciaphas Cain is something between Blackadder and Flashman in the gothic SF world of 40K. Taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to the normally absurdly Grim And Dark 40K universe, the series follows the exploits of a cowardly, self-hating Commissar, in charge of morale and discipline in the Imperium's army, who has managed to not only survive the front lines of the ultimate Crapsack World, but prosper. Over the course of the series, Cain becomes a massively acclaimed Hero of the Imperium, partly through opportunism, skill and minor heroism, but mostly through sheer blind luck. Sent to progressively more insanely dangerous warzones as his reputation grows, Cain actually wants nothing more than to find a quiet place to hide from the fighting.Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })In short, he's the type of person guys in his profession are supposed to shoot.That is, if you believe him. The author himself has stated that even he doesn't know whether Cain is actually the Dirty Coward he presents himself as, or just doesn't give himself enough credit. If you're curious as to which is which, the best option is probably just to read the books yourself and draw your own conclusions.The novels are presented as sections of Cain's private memoirs, organized, edited, and footnoted by Inquisitor Amberley Vail, Cain's occasional liaison both professionally note he and his regiment occasionally help the Inquisition, either as cat's-paw or heavily armed backup, and she's the one he calls when he finds something that falls under the heading of "the Inqusition's problem" and personally.Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })Ten novels and nine short stories have so far been published. Many of the stories have been recompiled in omnibus editions.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_112daba0
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Retired Badass
 Ciaphas Cain / int_112daba0
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Those awesome four are hardly the only teachers in the schola, and Cain does mention that he wouldn't really bother with the rest of the faculty. And even with the above three, he doesn't really give a picture of their teaching styles.
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Strictly Professional Relationship
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1144041a
comment
Strictly Professional Relationship: Cain mentions that at the end of his first assignment working with Colonel Kasteen, they exchanged a look that could have led to more than just friends, but neither pursues it because they don't want to deteriorate their working relationship. Besides, he prefers blondes. And more to the point, Amberley Vail would kill him.
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All Men Are Perverts
 Ciaphas Cain / int_129749df
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Another mentions a woman running as setting off interesting oscillations in her uniform. This is while the ship they're on is exploding, mind you.
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Heal It with Booze
 Ciaphas Cain / int_12eee2cf
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Heal It with Booze: In Death Or Glory, Cain has a tracker who's helping guide their convoy to safety give his stash of whisky to the vet they've got working as a doctor (both because he's probably running out of antiseptic and because he wants to keep their tracker sober).
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_132d93f1
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Human Shield
 Ciaphas Cain / int_132d93f1
comment
Human Shield: Cain's professed motive for saving many people is that they will be between him and the guns. This is subverted in Cain's Last Stand, where he thinks that everyone between him and Varan is one more person for Varan to turn against him. Subverted Blazing Saddles-style in The Devil You Know, when during a duel Cain points his laspistol at his own head. It really does make sense; the Dark Eldar he's dueling freely admitted she wants to capture Cain for several years of Cold-Blooded Torture. When she thinks Cain's about to kill himself to prevent that from happening, she lunges forward to stop him and leaves herself wide open for a chainsword through the chest.
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My Friends... and Zoidberg
 Ciaphas Cain / int_13646b1b
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My Friends... and Zoidberg: Cain's Fake Ultimate Hero reputation causes him to regularly apply this to himself in his narration.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_149ff4b0
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Hilarity Ensues
 Ciaphas Cain / int_149ff4b0
comment
Inverted repeatedly throughout the books, as Cain tries to get himself assigned to a nice, quiet job where he doesn't have to be shot at all the time, but always winds up in the worst possible situations—which gets him a reputation for being a thrill-seeker, causing him to end up in even more of these! The one time he does get a relatively quiet job? He goes on a routine patrol, and Hilarity Ensues.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_14d633ed
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If I Wanted You Dead...
 Ciaphas Cain / int_14d633ed
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If I Wanted You Dead...: The Big Bad of Duty Calls says so to Cain.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_14ed6ab7
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Does This Remind You of Anything?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_14ed6ab7
comment
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Varan is a relatively short man with a huge ego, extraordinary charisma, astounding oratory ability, fanatical and twisted followers, and a tiny moustache? Subtle.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_1501b4a2
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Flamethrower Backfire
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1501b4a2
comment
Flamethrower Backfire: In For The Emperor a sniper accompanying Cain shoots the pack of a (already dead) genestealer cultist's flamethrower to create a barrier to cover their escape (although this is justified, since the sniper was armed with a LongLas, which would easily have been able to boil the fuel and make the tank explode). Averted in Caves of Ice where a flamer-equipped guardsman is killed by a bolter to the chest, though Jurgen takes out a Flamer-wielding Ork and causes it to detonate.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_15756c9d
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Where It All Began
 Ciaphas Cain / int_15756c9d
comment
Where It All Began: The plot of Cain's Last Stand, sort of. Perlia isn't his home, but it is where his reputation was first solidified and seems to be his favorite planet of all the ones he's visited in his long career.
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Tempting Fate
 Ciaphas Cain / int_15b2cab3
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Tempting Fate: Repeatedly, for example In Caves of Ice:
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Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
 Ciaphas Cain / int_16e94b0a
comment
In Choose Your Enemies, the 597th is deployed to a moon of an ice giant to drive away eldar raiders, who turn out to be from a craftworld hoping to reconquer the system entirely. Worse, they discover a cult of Slaanesh active in the mines, which are linked to a forge world in the heart of the system by the webway. The eldar, who blame themselves for Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll-ing Slaanesh into existence in the first place, pursue their own agenda throughout the book, alternately aiding and hurting the Imperials.
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Brainwashed and Crazy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_173909
comment
Brainwashed and Crazy: This is a plot point in The Last Stand. The book's Big Bad is an extremely powerful psyker who can overwrite your mind and turn you to Chaos just by looking at you. He even has a retinue of Sisters of Battle that he corrupted in this manner.
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Cool Old Guy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_17501df2
comment
By the time Cain's Last Stand was written though, the latter was forgotten; every named member of the faculty is ultimately shown to be a bit of a Cool Old Guy (or in one case, a Cool Old Nun), at least off duty.
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The Worf Effect
 Ciaphas Cain / int_178ca149
comment
The Worf Effect: Whenever Cain ends up facing Tyranids or their Genestealer agents, he will always make a reference to the time he was on the space hulk Spawn of Damnation and saw Space Marines in Terminator armour get shredded by a bunch of purestrains, as a shorthand of reminding himself and the readers of how dangerous they are. note This only applies to accounts set chronologically after aforementioned adventure in the space hulk, of course.
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Unreliable Narrator
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1869b4b1
comment
Unreliable Narrator: On so many levels. The series purports to be a set of memoirs, written by the titular Ciaphas Cain about a century after they happened. Ciaphas himself is very much an egomaniac and focuses almost exclusively on his own actions, but is also either an abject coward or a hero with extremely low self-esteem and a self-deprecating sense of humor, meaning that his accounts are rarely entirely reliable and often full of holes. There are three supporting accounts. The first is the memoirs of Jenit Sulla, who was one of Cain's subordinates during the events he describes. However, Jenit has entirely bought into the heroic myth surrounding Cain (which was one of the things Cain set out to dispel), writes in a prose so purple it's nigh unreadable and her narration makes it sound like Cain was a mentor-figure to her (Cain's narration makes it clear he considers her nothing more than another snot-nosed butterbar and finds her eager "Emperor-and-Imperium"-idealism extremely annoying). The second is a history of the sector in which Cain operated during the events in For the Emperor!, which gets a lot of the facts right and provides a very good overview of the area and events surrounding the plot, but the author is a Conspiracy Theorist who blames everything from toenail fungus to Exterminatus on a (quite likely non-existent) conspiracy of rogue traders. The third is Cain's official biography, which the man himself treats with an attitude varying from "confusion" to "amusement" to "would rather wipe my arse with a rusty poker than that rag", depending on which side of the bed he woke up on. Finally, the editor, Inquisitor Amberley Vail, was involved in the events and a frequent collaborator (as well as sometime lover) of Cain's, and, while she is generally impartial, she is not above a little judicious editing and inserting a few footnotes implying Cain's memory of certain events is flawed to make herself look better.
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Full-Frontal Assault
 Ciaphas Cain / int_18ce8f1d
comment
Full-Frontal Assault: In "The Little Things", three men try to kidnap Amberley (or possibly her wealthy cover identity) shortly after she gets out of the shower. Cain is able to take out two of them, but one gets the drop on him only for Amberley to foul his gun arm with her towel long enough for Cain to shoot him. Cain notes that his last sight was a memorable one.
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Title Drop
 Ciaphas Cain / int_18d15922
comment
Title Drop: "Cain's Last Stand" is used several times, as it's the name of one of the battles of his early career, the site of which he returns to in order to make another stand. Another character remarks on this, saying most people only get one of those. The Traitor's Hand, once as a quotation, once by Beije—see Malicious Slander.
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Dressing as the Enemy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_18dd6739
comment
Dressing as the Enemy: In Death or Glory, Cain and Jurgen have to infiltrate an Ork-occupied town in a stolen Ork vehicle. They go in at night to reduce visibility, Cain has to keep his head down, and Jurgen drives while wearing a bulky blanket over himself to conceal the fact that he is human. A few Gretchin try to hitch a ride, but fortunately Jurgen speaks enough Orkish to trick them. Later in the novel, Cain and his new allies are trying to get to a PDF supply base ... but they're all traveling in captured Ork vehicles, and nearly get blown away by the unit already there before proving they're really Imperials.
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Gone Horribly Right
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1994ba0b
comment
Gone Horribly Right: Cain explains Chaos cults thusly in Cain's Last Stand:
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Happy Fun Ball
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1ae71783
comment
Happy Fun Ball: The Shadowlight. The core of it is naught but a slab of dark stone roughly the size of an Imperial data-slate. It's really a psychic power-boosting Artifact of Doom.
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The Klutz
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1bdbbbae
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The Klutz: Penlan, aka "Jinxie."
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Obligatory Earpiece Touch
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1c4ab836
comment
Obligatory Earpiece Touch: "Comm-beads" apparently have the controls built into the earpiece, as Cain specifies tapping them on a regular basis. (And on one occasion, in Death or Glory, he doesn't realize he left his comm-bead behind until he tries to tap it.)
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_1c5002bc
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The Stoic
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1c5002bc
comment
The Stoic: Jurgen. When Cain writes an emotive scene where they're stuck in a corner, about to torn apart by ravening hordes of tyranids, Jurgen will placidly comment "Bit of a mess", as if he's offering Cain a sandwich. This also makes Cain keep his cool, as the commissar can hardly appear less composed than his aide. Malden the psyker, from the third book.
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Fictional Document
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1d029135
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Fictional Document: The assorted outside sources Vail sources in her footnotes.
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One-Wheeled Wonder
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1d515cb4
comment
One-Wheeled Wonder: One of the techpriests in Emperor's Finest and Caves of Ice had his lower body replaced with a single wheel. Made even worse by the fact that techpriests have huge metal dendrites attached to their backs and like to replace as much of their body with metal as possible, though Ciaphas mentions that he must have very good gyroscopes to work.
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Reality Ensues
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1d9a2764
comment
Reality Ensues: In The Greater Good, the Imperial Guard and the Tau military form a shaky truce, and they agree to send each other members of their groups to liaison with the others. Given Cain's good standing with the Tau after Gravalax, and his propensity towards both joining seemingly innocuous assignments and getting forced into knowingly dangerous ones, he'd be the obvious choice. Except he successfully palms the duty off to Donali, an experienced diplomat, with no blemishes to his reputation.
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I Surrender, Suckers
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1dd14f5a
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Cain's plan for taking out the big bad in Cain's Last Stand runs on this and I Surrender, Suckers.
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Everything Is an iPod in the Future
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1dd225c4
comment
Everything Is an iPod in the Future: In The Greater Good, this is used to contrast Tau technology - complete with rounded corners, icon-based touch interfaces, wireless projectors, and "thin, flat" portable computing devices - with the Used Future technology of the Imperium.
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Heterosexual Life-Partners
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1dfbbf31
comment
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jurgen becomes Cain's aide right at the start of his commissarial career and is still his aide over a century later in his retirement. Cain considers Jurgen the only person he's ever truly trusted.
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Flower in Her Hair
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1e0f3f12
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Flower in Her Hair: Amberley sports one briefly in Duty Calls.
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Stealth Pun
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1e7c47ab
comment
Stealth Pun: The author absolutely loves making these. See the Shout Out page for more details.
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No Hero to His Valet
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1ed05659
comment
No Hero to His Valet: Inverted; Cain actually is a hero to Jurgen, the closest thing to a valet he has. Amberley Vail's association with Cain has let her see the accuracy of his accounts, even though she thinks he may be too hard on himself.
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Back-to-Back Badasses
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1f19f198
comment
Back-to-Back Badasses: The cover art of The Greater Good has Cain doing this with a Tau Fire Warrior Atop A Pile of Tyranid Corpses. Of course, as is usual for this series, nothing like this ever actually happens in the book.
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Obstructive Bureaucrat
 Ciaphas Cain / int_1f799027
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Lord General Zyvan telling the Administratum people that if they aren't happy with his decisions they can bitch about it to the Tyranids.
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No Time to Think
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No Time to Think: During the Wire Dilemma, he is forced to guess because all the wires are the same color.
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The Hedonist
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2059a430
comment
When investigating a Slaaneshi hideout, Cain finds a room with a big pile of cushions in the middle, its purpose unclear. Amberley lampshades that Cain, a man of the galaxy, seems a little hypocritical here.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_2064626a
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Villains Act, Heroes React
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2064626a
comment
Villains Act, Heroes React: Cain is generally sent on missions to repel invasions or suppress rebellions, as opposed to conquering new worlds. As a result, the strategic initiative in the stories always falls on the villains, whose actions are the reason he gets sent to whatever world they threaten.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_20e6a6e7
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It Only Works Once
 Ciaphas Cain / int_20e6a6e7
comment
It Only Works Once: At the climax of The Greater Good, the heroes figure out how to broadcast a disruption signal being generated by a Tyranid cortical node they have captured for study. This breaks the Hive Mind's control of the Tyranid fleets assaulting the planet and leads to a crushing Imperial victory. Unfortunately, it also burns out the cortical node, and capturing another of those alive is going to be tricky. There was talk about experimenting to see if replaying data recorded from the original broadcast would work as well as a live transmission, but no mention of whether or not said experiment ever happened or if it worked.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_21309fd
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Reflexive Remark of Reverence
 Ciaphas Cain / int_21309fd
comment
Reflexive Remark of Reverence: The Sororitas characters and the Gavarronean militia automatically make the sign of the Aquila whenever the Emperor is mentioned.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_213dc284
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Closest Thing We Got
 Ciaphas Cain / int_213dc284
comment
Closest Thing We Got: Ariott is pressed into service as the caravan's medic in Death or Glory. He's actually a veterinarian. The same book also features two artisans (of unspecified trades) pressed into service as auto mechanics by the only real Tech-Priest; over the course of the book they start to carry Mechanicus iconography and act as Enginseers in all but name, and according to a footnote they formally joined afterwards.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_213e1088
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Losing the Team Spirit
 Ciaphas Cain / int_213e1088
comment
Losing the Team Spirit: Vail invokes it to explain why Cain would be a logical assassination target; Cain himself is oblivious to his effects on morale.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_21d70919
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Crapsack World
 Ciaphas Cain / int_21d70919
comment
Crapsack World: Oddly enough, despite Cain's dry panic and his constant placement on the hellish frontlines of a hellish universe, his and others' commentary reveals that the Imperium is somewhat less crapsacky than it's normally portrayed: he leads Imperial Guard regiments that aren't used as cannon fodder, the Imperium is (wearily) able to work with FILTHY XENOS to avert civil wars, Cain notes that stereotypical "shoot everyone for heresy" Commissars and Inquisitors do not last very long, and it's stated that on many Imperial worlds, ordinary people do enjoy a standard of living comparable to their counterparts on modern Earth. So while there is the risk of dying horribly at the hands of an invader, it's unlikely. Which makes sense when you realized that the events form the codexes (the main source of Grim Dark) are only the major ones and are often centuries apart. It's also explicitly justified several times. Most of the places Cain visits are such backwaters that the Imperial government in the sector mostly just ignores them, allowing the locals to carry on. The world in the first book, for instance, had been openly trading with the Tau for generations before anyone noticed. The one major world we see, the forge world in The Greater Good, is the setting's usual hellish hive full of slave labor and casual dismissal of human lives.
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Good Is Not Nice
 Ciaphas Cain / int_21f3aa44
comment
While subtle, there are a few casual lines thrown in that shows Cain has the typical xenophobic view of the Tau expected from most Imperials. Relatively speaking, he is still very tolerant of them, which can largely be attributed to professional respect and the overall lack of instances where the Tau have actively tried to kill him. Granted, as a well connected Commissar, he might also be privy to the knowledge that the Greater Good is not nice, which could also influence his views of them.
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Chekhov's Boomerang
 Ciaphas Cain / int_21f3e32e
comment
Chekhov's Boomerang: Jurgen's status as a "blank" is a significant factor at the end of For the Emperor, and throughout the rest of the books it often saves Cain's life in certain circumstances. In Duty Calls, it serves as a seal protecting Jurgen from being harmed by a Chaos Artifact of Doom when he picks it up—an artifact which ends up killing the rogue Inquisitor as he makes his getaway once he leaves Jurgen's area of effect. In Cain's Last Stand, Cain again uses it to his advantage when he confronts Warmaster Varan. Jurgen's presence nullifies the power of Varan's Compelling Voice, allowing Cain to wrong-foot and defeat him. When Cain and a small squad go into the Necron tombs to destroy the warp portal in Caves Of Ice, they get confronted by Pariahs. Most Freak Out, but Cain and Jurgen are unaffected due to having an acquired immunity to the psychic effect used by the Pariahs, since it's essentially the same thing as Jurgen's ability.
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Invisibility Flicker
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2221d1fc
comment
Invisibility Flicker: Saves Cain's life in Duty Calls.
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Chekhov's Gun
 Ciaphas Cain / int_22cf536c
comment
Chekhov's Gun: Whenever Jurgen's melta is brought along, it will probably be needed. (Of course, a melta being a melta, there are plenty of times when it would have come in very handy. It's a very "opportunistic" weapon). In "Traitor's Gambit", Cain finds a Tau-made gun and keeps it as evidence of their involvement. It's still at hand when he needs a weapon quickly and his laspistol is not convenient to draw.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_22eff5dd
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Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam
 Ciaphas Cain / int_22eff5dd
comment
Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: When the eponymous Commissar drives along a major highway on Perlia heading towards a town that was attacked some time ago to link up with reinforcements, the highway is jammed full of (wrecked) civilian cars that were attacked by the Orks who invaded the planet a few months ago. Cain notes that most of the cars stood no chance against the ordnance used by the Orks, mentioning the grisly sight of the occupants slouched dead in them, some of them killed weeks ago.
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Misaimed Fandom
 Ciaphas Cain / int_233d181
comment
Misaimed Fandom: invoked In-universe example—while Amberley is pleasantly surprised to find her publications of Cain's stories are unexpectedly popular among her fellow Inquisitors, she's slightly put out that many of them prefer to treat them as light entertainment rather than the "serious food for thought" she'd intended them to serve as.
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As the Good Book Says...
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2439b588
comment
As the Good Book Says...: Cain disdains "Emperor-botherers," but he does have some fondness for The Precepts of Saint Emelia and quotes it a few times throughout the series. In Duty Calls he's infuriated when the villain uses a Quote Mine of one of his favorite verses to justify his crimes. In The Emperor's Finest one of the Tech Priests frequently quotes trite platitudes that Cain doesn't recognize. Amberly's research reveals that they're from ''Soylens Viridians for the Machine Spirit," a book the priest wrote himself and was kind of bitter never got popular.
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Changing of the Guard
 Ciaphas Cain / int_245cb69d
comment
Changing of the Guard: Subverted. Young Donal in Cain's Last Stand is in many ways a dead ringer for a younger Ciaphas, and Ciaphas knows himself well enough to be watching the young cadet. As Cain's essentially upon his last great adventure, the reader might expect Donal to survive and take up the reins as a Generation Xerox. Unfortunately, Donal is badly wounded and attempts a You Shall Not Pass! moment, but is captured and mentally enslaved. Cain and Jurgen rescue him, but they are forced to test the extent of Warmaster Varan's mental domination, and when Donal feels himself slipping again he commits suicide.
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Fire-Forged Friends
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2493b31d
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Fire-Forged Friends: The entire Valhallan 597th in general. Kasteen and Broklaw in particular.
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Literary Agent Hypothesis
 Ciaphas Cain / int_24da7ff8
comment
Literary Agent Hypothesis: The series is presented as a group of extracts from Cain's memoirs edited by Inquisitor Vail. As such, he downplays his reputation for heroism, while she notes that he's being too modest. Vail also notes places where Cain seems to have mis-remembered the times of events, adds context and hindsight and edits out anything too specific about their relationship.
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Go Through Me
 Ciaphas Cain / int_25208c30
comment
Go Through Me: Invoked word for word in The Traitor's Hand by Magot, as she moves into a Commissar's line of fire to shield Grifen.
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Captain Ersatz
 Ciaphas Cain / int_25b5600
comment
Captain Ersatz: Cain is basically Blackadder (the Blackadder Goes Forth version especially) and George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman IN SPACE. A big difference however is that he never crosses the line from lovable scoundrel to outright villain like Flashman does. Cain may be a womanizer, but it's always consensual. Gunner Jurgen is probably based on another George MacDonald Fraser character, Private McAuslan, AKA the Dirtiest Soldier in the British Army. Like McAuslan, Jurgen is ugly, has skin problems, horrible breath, and body odor that causes revulsion in everyone he meets. Unlike McAuslan, he is a highly competent soldier, though he isn't terribly bright (yet amazingly good at planning ahead). Likewise, if Cain is one of Blackadder then Jurgen is one of Baldrick, probably the one from The Black Adder who was competent and had good ideas more often than not. Warmaster Varan is in many ways an Ersatz of Adolf Hitler, right down to the mustache, arm gestures, and speeches. Granted, he's an insecure, psychically-empowered mutant Ersatz, although this isn't revealed until late in the book. Amusingly, none of the Imperial forces are terribly impressed by his rhetoric, and Varan depends heavily upon his psychic ability to enthrall anyone he can speak with or has a line of sight to. Ariott, a minor character in Death or Glory, is an Ersatz of James Herriott, of all people, being a veterinarian and later writing an autobiography called All Lifeforms Large and Small.
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Kid Hero
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2673425b
comment
Kid Hero: In Cain's Last Stand, the students at the schola provide support.
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Legendary in the Sequel
 Ciaphas Cain / int_26b0a73
comment
Legendary in the Sequel: "Fight or Flight," the original short story, features Cain's very first adventure as a newly-minted commissar. The work which followed it, For the Emperor, features Cain as an established HERO OF THE IMPERIUM. Due to the series's Anachronic Order, subsequent works play up and down the scale.
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Funny Background Event
 Ciaphas Cain / int_26eb6287
comment
Funny Background Event: Amberley's psyker Rakel is present at a Guard briefing in For The Emperor, with the command staff informing Cain of the state of play while steadfastly ignoring her bizarre antics.
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She Cleans Up Nicely
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2740531a
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Cain mentions a few times that after being rescued from an Ork prison camp on starvation rations, getting some proper food in her has done wonders for Felicia Tayber's figure.
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Textile Work Is Feminine
 Ciaphas Cain / int_27705cf8
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Textile Work Is Feminine: One insult from the 301st was that the women of the 296th were doing needlework in the rear echelons.
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Oblivious to Love
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2848e7d2
comment
Oblivious to Love: Cain takes nearly half the book to figure out Mira's true objective in tagging along with him. And even when he figures it out, he still thinks she's trying to bag a Space Marine. When the full realization hits him, he wastes no time in trying to get rid of her. Too bad he'd already smiled and nodded his way through all her none too subtle hints, making it hard to suddenly explain his position makes it impossible to marry. Amberley lampshades how dense he was about getting the hint.
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Life-or-Limb Decision
 Ciaphas Cain / int_28848c12
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Life-or-Limb Decision: Cain nearly has to do this in The Greater Good, when a tyranid has his foot in its grasp. He'd lifted his sword to make the cut when the creature is killed in a well timed intervention by Space Marines.
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Food End
 Ciaphas Cain / int_28d87218
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Food End: To date, nine out of ten books have ended with a mention of food or drink, along with several of the short stories. The exception among the novels is Cain's Last Stand.
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I Meant to Do That
 Ciaphas Cain / int_293f8cd8
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I Meant to Do That: Most notably in Fight or Flight. The melee fight at the end of Death or Glory. A number of Cain's achievements involve things turning out better than expected for him, and then not correcting people who believe that he planned it that way.
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Lampshade Hanging
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2a090d00
comment
Played straight and lampshaded in the short story Echoes of the Tomb where the redshirts were troopers of the Adeptus Mechanicus — and they wore red uniforms. They're even called redshirts by Cain. And, despite cybernetic augmentations and hellguns, they are all slaughtered when the Necrons wake up.
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Mauve Shirt
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2ae277ab
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Mauve Shirt: Several, most notably Sergeant Lustig, Penlan and Magot.
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The Dreaded
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2ae29c0d
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The Dreaded: The Cain novels are more or less the only Warhammer 40K media that convincingly continue to portray Necrons as horrific monstrosities to be feared. Cain has only pulled off one win out of three encounters with the Necrons (and only by blowing them up from orbit), as opposed to his constant success against just about everything else. They are also the one threat thus far that he has adamantly refused to stand and confront, reputation be damned.
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More Dakka
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More Dakka: Cain insists on having a pintle-mounted heavy bolter put on any Salamander that he uses. Salamanders can mount a storm bolter or a heavy stubber in the game. Cain mentions that he tends to get heavy bolters mounted because they allow him to lay down extra cover fire if he needs to, and they look cool for the troops. They tend to get used a lot.
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Worf Had The Flu
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2c628d38
comment
Worf Had the Flu: Inverted in regards to the 597th; there's a number of reasons the regiment performs substantially better than the average Guard regiment. It's mentioned in an off-hand remark that the Administratum never did quite catch on to the merging of the 296th with the 301st. As a result, the 597th received double the usual amount of replacement recruits and equipment, to the point that it never really had to deal with shortages. This abundance of equipment led to the 597th issuing com-beads to every member of a squad, giving them much higher unit cohesion. Either we don't see it, or the 597th managed to escape the usual bureaucratic incompetence of the Administratum and subsequently was deployed frequently to iceworlds to fight Orks, tasks Valhallans both relish and excel at.
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Ax-Crazy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2d4fa515
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Magot, in one instance, led her subordinates into a melee charge at Khornate cultists, And slaughtered them without taking any casualties.
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Succession Crisis
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2d768e2d
comment
Succession Crisis: One is happening in the background during The Traitor's Hand, but Cain doesn't pay much attention to it (And given how little attention he pays to his briefing slates, may not have even known it was going on). Cain accidentally sets off another one in Death or Glory. When he kills Korbul, the rest of the Ork bosses become too busy fighting over who gets to take over the Waaagh to bother with minor details like stopping Cain and his refugees from escaping. It's clear that Cain wasn't expecting that result, it's also clear he's not objecting.
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Raised by Natives
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2d7f0748
comment
Raised by Natives: Gue'vesa Au'lys Devrae, Facilitator of External Relations, who shows it by shaving her hair into a scalp-lock. She is from the world of Ka'ley'ath, or "Downholm" to use its Imperial name, a world annexed by the Tau prior to the Damocles Crusade. Her entire family line is understandably completely assimilated into the Tau way of life, having been there for generations.
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Propaganda Hero
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2dbbe772
comment
Propaganda Hero: Cain's reputation is at least in part built on this (as well as on his extremely impressive—if accidental—actual heroism).
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Narrative Profanity Filter
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2eac5753
comment
Narrative Profanity Filter: A variation. The pornographic tapestries in a Slaaneshi brothel in The Traitor's Hand are left undescribed, other than one Guardsman wondering aloud if a scene depicted is even anatomically possible. Cain says it isn't and that even if it was, it would be against regulations.
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Hedge Maze
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2f2f5b3f
comment
Hedge Maze: The climax of Choose Your Enemies takes place at the center of the hedge maze in Governor Fulcher's orbital residence. Rumours of disappearance cling to the place despite the maze being "childishly simple" to navigate according to a retainer. It's where Fulcher's Slaaneshi cult holds rituals and sacrifices, ultimately summoning Emeli for another confrontation with Cain.
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The Nondescript
 Ciaphas Cain / int_2ffb4a4d
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The Nondescript: Malden in The Traitor's Hand. According to Cain, the most noticeable fact about him is the fact that he's not all that noticeable.
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Ramming Always Works
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3114c1e5
comment
Ramming Always Works: Attempted by an Ork in Death or Glory, didn't work because he's an Ork and Felicia just stepped out of his way (on a mecha, that is). Attempted by one of the other Schola teachers in Cain's Last Stand. It works, destroying the ram and the ship it hit, but it didn't destroy the ship they had hoped to. Attempted by Tau infiltrators in "Traitor's Gambit," who try to ram an Imperial warship with a planetary governor's yacht. The Imperials spot it well ahead of time and blast it.
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Recurring Dreams
 Ciaphas Cain / int_31898188
comment
Recurring Dreams: Flashbacks, even. One of them is actually a plot point, though turns out it wasn't a normal kind of dream.
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Even Evil Has Standards
 Ciaphas Cain / int_319e4a2f
comment
Even Evil Has Standards: Parodied in Duty Calls, where Cain considers Periremundian fashion (and PDF uniforms) so garish that even Slaaneshi cultists would find them in bad taste.
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Naming Your Colony World
 Ciaphas Cain / int_31b99a18
comment
Naming Your Colony World: While serious and usually Meaningful Name examples of Symbolica exist, e.g. Serendipita (where the Space Marines locate the Spawn of Damnation), Sandy Mitchell has a good time parodying this, such as with Nusquam Fundimentibusnote "arse end of nowhere", Simia Orichalcaenote "brass monkey", as in "cold enough to freeze the balls off of", and Sodallagain.
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Holy Water
 Ciaphas Cain / int_328445e
comment
Holy Water: In The Last Ditch, the 597th's chaplain helps to repel a daemon with holy water he'd blessed himself. It causes the demon's flesh to melt as if it had been covered in acid. Cain regularly references the occasion he charged a daemon of Khorne with nothing more than a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water. Since he survived the experience, it was presumably quite effective, with or without Jurgen's assistance.
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Unequal Pairing
 Ciaphas Cain / int_328b32
comment
Unequal Pairing: Cain and Amberley clearly care deeply about each other, but Cain is very aware of just where his place is in relation to her. On the other hand, two of the most frequently recurring themes in Amberley's footnotes are Cain's self-centered nature and his unawareness of the effect his reputation has on others. While Amberley is plainly not starstruck in the way that, say, Sulla is, Cain never seems to have considered the possibility that she found it just as difficult to refuse him as he did her, albeit for different reasons.
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Horde of Alien Locusts
 Ciaphas Cain / int_35d4beb4
comment
Done with the Tyranids of all things in The Greater Good. The Tyranids attacking the planet are from a different hive than the ones that the Mechanicus has on ice, and tear into each other every chance they get.
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Declining Promotion
 Ciaphas Cain / int_35fb4e55
comment
Declining Promotion: Ciaphas Cain is a downplayed example. It's mentioned in a footnote in The Greater Good that he would more than qualify as a "Lord Commissar" (which is technically a title connoting respect, since the Commissariat is made up of equals) but refuses to be called such. Downplayed because he still gets the respect and influence either way; he just does it as part of his Humble Hero persona.
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Mad Bomber
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3678fbfa
comment
Mad Bomber: Captain Federer, commander of the 597th's sappers, has quite a thing for big booms. Rumour has it that he was ejected from an Adeptus Mechanicus seminary because of it.
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The Men First
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comment
The Men First: Cain does this to inspire loyalty, which may extend his lifespan in battle.
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Ascended Meme
 Ciaphas Cain / int_36ed3e1e
comment
Ascended Meme: The cover◊ of Traitor's Hand certainly seems familiar...
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Hold Your Hippogriffs
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3722d66c
comment
Hold Your Hippogriffs: Frequent references to things "going ploin-shaped" (as opposed to "pear-shaped," a British idiom interchangeable with "going to hell in a handbasket," "brown trousers time,", and most importantly, "OH SHI—"). Amusingly, he also uses "Emperor's bowels" for that last one.
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Compelling Voice
 Ciaphas Cain / int_38f3321
comment
Compelling Voice: Warmaster Varan can turn anyone to Chaos if they can see and hear him—even Battle Sisters.
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Kill 'Em All
 Ciaphas Cain / int_398692d6
comment
Kill 'Em All: While Cain has an outstanding track record of coming back from missions almost unscathed, very rarely do many of his squad survive. Actually, Total Party Kill happened like four times in all the books. Usually a unit with Cain attached will take no or minor casualties. Hell, even the squad that passed through ambull tunnels, a necron tomb, and got into ork ambushes twice lost only half of its members. Such a mortality rate is very low by 40K standards.
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Boring, but Practical
 Ciaphas Cain / int_39b8d3d6
comment
Boring, but Practical: Cain reflects in The Last Ditch that many commissars favor bolt pistols as sidearms for their well-known loud and messy effects, adding to their intimidation factor. Cain contrasts this with his humble laspistol, which while not as impressive, is something he rarely has to worry about running out of shots for at an inopportune moment, making it better suited for keeping him alive in the field than an ammunition-dependent projectile weapon might be.
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Tomboyish Ponytail
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comment
Tomboyish Ponytail: Jenit.
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Conspiracy Theorist
 Ciaphas Cain / int_39ed1c8a
comment
The second is a history of the sector in which Cain operated during the events in For the Emperor!, which gets a lot of the facts right and provides a very good overview of the area and events surrounding the plot, but the author is a Conspiracy Theorist who blames everything from toenail fungus to Exterminatus on a (quite likely non-existent) conspiracy of rogue traders.
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Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb
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comment
Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Cain notes one cadet is not this in Cain's Last Stand.
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Foregone Conclusion
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3bc88a7f
comment
Foregone Conclusion: Cain will live, to write his memoirs. Vail will live, to edit them. Jenit Sulla will live, to poorly write her memoirs (and rise to the highest ranks of the Imperial Guard). Lord General Zyvan will live (at least) long enough to transfer Cain from the 597th to his personal staff, where Cain stays until (at least) three years before his retirement. In the prequel books, Jurgen becomes Cain's aide, he finds necrons in that tomb, Emeli is a Slaaneshi cultist attempting to sacrifice his soul and is promptly killed off, et cetera. There are also minor characters in some of the books whose later memoirs are quoted by Amberley in the same volume, which makes it clear that they survive the book, though one short story contains a excerpts from a manuscript by a minor character which was never finished, foreshadowing the fact that said character didn't survive.
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Noodle Incident
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3c0a4666
comment
Noodle Incident: Cain makes frequent cryptic references to his earlier adventures; some have been explored in short stories, others it is assumed the reader would have heard about. Cain's Last Stand has a ton of these due to being written well into the future of the series. Cain also tries to convince Kasteen and Broklaw that "Jinxie" isn't really cursed, like the time she fell into a tunnel that led to finding necrons, or the incident with the grenade and the latrine, or... He trails off once he realizes just how deep he's digging himself. One of the most hilarious/awesome of these, is when Cain is reflecting on some of the times that he took apparently crazy actions due to choosing the near-certainty of death over the certainty of death, and off-handedly mentions "the time I charged a daemon of Khorne with nothing but a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water."
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Room Disservice
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3c850ac7
comment
Room Disservice: The villains of "The Little Things", a group of kidnappers seeking to kidnap a rich young noblewoman for ransom. Unfortunately for them, the noblewoman was an undercover Inquisitor, the room service she ordered was for a dinner for her and Cain, and Cain figured out they weren't really hotel staff the moment he saw them.
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Curb-Stomp Battle
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3d699462
comment
Curb-Stomp Battle: In A Mug of Recaff, Jurgen shoots his way past a Chaos sorcerer and the daemon he was conjuring up in under a page because they had gotten between him and the kettle he needed for his boss' brew-up. The fact that he's immune to all direct effects of warpcraft and weakens daemons just by standing too close to them played a major role in this.
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The Greatest Story Never Told
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3e95582f
comment
The Greatest Story Never Told: The heroic exploits of Gunner Jurgen, acknowledged by few and told by none besides Cain himself.
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Captain Obvious
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3eee0728
comment
Captain Obvious: In The Beguiling This is one of Cain's frequent observations about Jurgen, often delivered with a great deal of Understatement and unconcerned stoicism.
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Strictly Formula
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3f1aadeb
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Strictly Formula: Said formula being old Victorian and early 20th-century juvenile adventures such as the Tom Swift series. Not that that's a bad thing.
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Cold Sniper
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3f6d2c98
comment
Cold Sniper: Sorel, in For The Emperor.
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Quote Mine
 Ciaphas Cain / int_3fbdb8aa
comment
Quote Mine: In-Universe example. In Duty Calls a rogue Ordo Hereticus inquisitor shrugs off shooting desperate civilians who tried to escape a tyranid attack on his shuttle with the line "The path of duty is often a stony one." Cain is apparently quite fond of that text and recognizes the Quote Mine, and Amberley's footnote reveals that the back half of the sentence changes the meaning completely:
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Woman Scorned
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4063acfd
comment
Woman Scorned: Taken to extremes in a manner only the 40K universe could in the third novel.
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Indestructible Edible
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comment
Indestructible Edible: Imperial ration bars: unknown composition, palatable only to the desperately starving, capable of surviving some forms of Exterminatus, and "tasting reassuringly like nothing that you could identify".
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Sword and Gun
 Ciaphas Cain / int_40ad4941
comment
Sword and Gun: Laspistol and a chainsword.
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Blatant Lies
 Ciaphas Cain / int_40bb59d0
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Blatant Lies: In Greater Good Cain claims that he "isn't easily startled". Amberly's footnote on that section consists of nothing but laughing.
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Manipulative Bastard
 Ciaphas Cain / int_40c57041
comment
Sulla, in For the Emperor, goes from showing opposition and dislikement of Cain's decisions on the regiment in front of other officials to eventually ask privately him in a rather nervous and shy way for a chance to show her value as a soldier. Cain of course takes the opportunity to act magnanimously, and get one more person disposed to cover his back, which makes Sulla all the happier.
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Spoiler Cover
 Ciaphas Cain / int_40d15d7a
comment
Spoiler Cover: The back cover for Choose Your Enemies is a seriously jarring example. A lot of the Cain books start with Cain and whichever military force he's accompanying being sent to deal with one enemy only to discover another more serious threat to be dealt with, but the blurb for Choose Your Enemies starts by describing how Cain and 597th start the story by putting down a rebellion of Chaos cultists. This overlooks that the discovery of Chaos involvement was actually the book's first big Bait-and-Switch moment, and the 597th were actually originally dispatched to deal with an attack of Eldar. The Eldar (who take up the first 70 or so pages of the book before the Chaos cultists even appear and are still being treated as the main threat more than half-way through) don't even rate a mention.
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Stylistic Suck
 Ciaphas Cain / int_415b3315
comment
Stylistic Suck: This pops up in multiple ways: Much to Amberley's chagrin, she sometimes has to fill in background information with extracts from the memoirs of Jenit Sulla (and always makes comments sniping at her "one-woman assault on the defenseless Gothic language"). Where Cain's are erudite and well-written, Sulla lacks any literary talent and fills her own with dreadful nonsense and Purple Prose. For The Emperor also features extracts from Purge the Heretics, most notable for its author's overwhelming hatred of rogue traders (he blames them for everything, and every excerpt is cut off just before he launches into another rant). For Death and Glory, set before Cain joined Sulla's regiment, we have the memoirs of Sergeant Tayber, which are nearly as unreadable. Which is funny, because Cain's official autobiography To Serve the Emperor: A Commissar's Life is supposedly as equally unreadable (much like Flashman's) because they are less candid. He would most certainly not admit to the public about how he views himself as a selfish man. Apart from two sentences at the start of Fight or Flight, we never get to read passages from this book, however.
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Tastes Better Than It Looks
 Ciaphas Cain / int_41f02f77
comment
Tastes Better Than It Looks: In Death or Glory, the breakfast Jurgen makes one day is described as "gray and lumpy". It smells appetizing, and Cain comments that after eating the whatever-it-was, he felt ready for anything the day might hold, so it must have tasted good.
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Left It In
 Ciaphas Cain / int_42064d3c
comment
Left It In: A Dubya-parodying character in one of the novels ends an atrociously bad speech with something like "You'll edit that out anyway... what do you mean it was live?"
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Vader Breath
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4230e681
comment
Vader Breath: Valhallan Janni Drere, who has a set of augmetic lungs that make an audible hiss! click! noise when she speaks.
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Downplayed Trope
 Ciaphas Cain / int_42c9f1ec
comment
Mira is a downplayed example. Cain is happy to sleep with her, but begins aggressively finding excuses to avoid her company when he realizes that she is hoping to make him her husband. It's not that he'd mind that either, the problem is that she thinks he's given his implicit consent already in no uncertain terms, and thus he'd have a very awkward time explaining to her the fact that it would be plain impossible for him to leave his position to marry.
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Demon of Human Origin
 Ciaphas Cain / int_438e4dd6
comment
Demon of Human Origin: In the short story "The Beguiling", Cain wipes out a Slaaneshi cult with an artillery strike after killing its leader, Emeli, when she tried to seduce him into being a Human Sacrifice. Several decades later in the novel The Traitor's Hand, Cain encounters Emeli as the final boss; she's been turned into a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince during her time dead.
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Court-Martialed
 Ciaphas Cain / int_43c5a4b7
comment
Court-Martialed: In For the Emperor Cain presides over the trials of six Guardsmen from the Valhallan 296th and 301st who had been involved in a Bar Brawl that resulted in the deaths of several Guardsmen and Imperial Navy personnel. The penalty is death, but Cain uses his authority as regimental commissar to commute the sentences to service in a penal legion. He then deals with the root of the problem by re-founding the two amalgamated half-strength regiments as one unit, the Valhallan 597th. The Traitor's Hand wraps up with Cain facing a Commissariat tribunal, basically a court-martial by a different name.
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Overzealous Underling
 Ciaphas Cain / int_449bebd0
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Overzealous Underling: In The Traitor's Hand, the Imperial Guard finds evidence of a daemon summoning ritual, though too late to find anything useful. Another site is discovered, but the overly puritanical Tallarn soldiers and their commissar Beije completely destroy the site before the psykers can examine it. Because Beije believes Cain to be acting traitorously (along with a big helping of resentment), he attempts to arrest Cain with a Tallarn squad as he investigates the final site, inadvertently providing Cain with reinforcements to defeat the daemon princess as she's summoned and character witnesses for his heroic behavior. In Duty Calls, a squad of Sororitas gets so caught up in burning Tyranids that they leave their position, leaving a gap in the line they're supposed to be defending and leaving the temple/refugee camp wide open. Cain gets them back in by pointing out that their noble sacrifices mean certain death for the civilians depending on them for protection.
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Big Dam Plot
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comment
Big Dam Plot: Cain destroys a dam to escape an Ork army in Death Or Glory. He later rigs another one (its replacement) in Cain's Last Stand, but it fails when Necrons arrive to claim the Shadowlight and jam the detonation signal.
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Pre-Insanity Reveal
 Ciaphas Cain / int_45390a1e
comment
Pre-Insanity Reveal: One of Amberley Veil's retinue is a permanently combat-drugged lunatic named Simeon who flinches every time he sees Cain's commissar uniform. When Cain asks what his deal is, she tells him he was in a Penal Legion, snapped under pressure and started executing men for failing to salute a superior officer... while on the receiving end of an artillery barrage. Cain nods sympathetically, but notes that preventing that sort of breakdown is why they have commissars in the first place. Veil then says Simeon was the commissar.
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Human Popsicle
 Ciaphas Cain / int_457655dd
comment
Human Popsicle: After an abortive encounter with the ork outbreak the 597th were sent to quell, in true Cain fashion the true enemy of The Last Ditch turns out to be tyranids from a previously unknown hive fleet that had crash-landed millennia before and gotten frozen into the arctic glaciers and buried. Cain's troopship crashing knocks some of them loose and they start digging out their compatriots.
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Little Did I Know
 Ciaphas Cain / int_46019790
comment
Little Did I Know: Practically Cain's catchphrase. Every book starts with a variation and he repeats it regularly, as well as his commenting that he'd be "gibbering in terror" if he only knew... It's greatly toned down in the 4th and 5th books, and is worded a lot better.
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Worthy Opponent
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4604fd4d
comment
Worthy Opponent: From the first line in The Greater Good:
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Giving Someone the Pointer Finger
 Ciaphas Cain / int_463084f4
comment
Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Amberley confronting Governor Grice at the end of For The Emperor. She was wearing a ring concealing a lethal weapon on it at the time, so it's rather more serious than most examples of the trope.
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Mission Briefing
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4691c64f
comment
Mission Briefing: General Zyvan gives a few of these, as do Colonel Kasteen and other officers.
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In-Universe
 Ciaphas Cain / int_469e3e2f
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In-Universe, "scumsucker" is apparently a very serious insult, at least in the hive Cain (may or may not) be from.
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Stranded with Edison
 Ciaphas Cain / int_46c7e7b8
comment
Stranded with Edison: In Death or Glory, their makeshift convoy/militia (made up from the rescued survivors/slaves from a town looted by Orks) has just enough specialists to survive (a tracker to help them find water and supply dumps, a vet to serve as an impromptu doctor, a technopriest to keep their vehicles running and enough former police, gang members and PDF troops to form a militia and a former not-so-Obstructive Bureaucrat to manage their supplies).
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You Have Failed Me
 Ciaphas Cain / int_474e3977
comment
You Have Failed Me: Cain fears he is going to be on the receiving end of this at the end of Cain's Last Stand after the dangerous artifact called the 'Shadowlight' falls into the hands of the Necrons, noting that whatever their relationship, Amberly is still an Inquisitor first and foremost, and he has technically failed in his assignment to keep the artifact out of enemy hands. Fortunately for him, Amberly concedes that while not ideal, the Shadowlight is safer in the hands of the Necrons than the forces of Chaos, and agrees with Cain's hypothesis that given how much effort they expended to recover it, the Necrons were clearly afraid of the Shadowlight's power, and thus likely have no plans to use it against the Imperium.
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Military Moonshiner
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Military Moonshiner: On his first assignment Cain jokes that the first thing most Guardsmen do when they hear their regiment is getting a new Commissar is dismantle the stills and get stores to tally with inventory for the first time ever.
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We Do the Impossible
 Ciaphas Cain / int_47bbbb28
comment
We Do the Impossible: Because of his reputation, Cain always gets the most important or dangerous tasks to accomplish, forcing him to triumph in suicide mission after suicide mission... which is exactly what he wants to avoid (the suicide missions, not survival).
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Intergenerational Friendship
 Ciaphas Cain / int_47d35854
comment
Intergenerational Friendship: Between Cain and Drumon, a Reclaimers Techmarine.
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Butt-Monkey
 Ciaphas Cain / int_47fea76b
comment
Butt-Monkey: Penlan, aka "Jinxie". It hasn't killed her yet. She's even been promoted. Additionally, she's rather popular with the regiment, as it's believed that all the bad luck in her squad gets attracted to her and leaves everyone else alone. Interestingly, this basically makes her the rank and file version of Cain, considering how often the latter manages to bumble into trouble just to bumble right out again through dumb luck. He just has better PR.
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The Resenter
 Ciaphas Cain / int_483152c4
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In The Traitor's Hand, the Imperial Guard finds evidence of a daemon summoning ritual, though too late to find anything useful. Another site is discovered, but the overly puritanical Tallarn soldiers and their commissar Beije completely destroy the site before the psykers can examine it. Because Beije believes Cain to be acting traitorously (along with a big helping of resentment), he attempts to arrest Cain with a Tallarn squad as he investigates the final site, inadvertently providing Cain with reinforcements to defeat the daemon princess as she's summoned and character witnesses for his heroic behavior.
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Sealed Evil in a Can
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comment
In Duty Calls, it serves as a seal protecting Jurgen from being harmed by a Chaos Artifact of Doom when he picks it up—an artifact which ends up killing the rogue Inquisitor as he makes his getaway once he leaves Jurgen's area of effect. In Cain's Last Stand, Cain again uses it to his advantage when he confronts Warmaster Varan. Jurgen's presence nullifies the power of Varan's Compelling Voice, allowing Cain to wrong-foot and defeat him.
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Glamorous Wartime Singer
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comment
Glamorous Wartime Singer: Amberley Vail's disguise when Cain first met her. Cain desperately tries to insist that she wasn't his type.
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Broken Ace
 Ciaphas Cain / int_48ca7c29
comment
Broken Ace: Ciaphas himself. Capable, intelligent, handsome—and a compulsive liar desperately trying to hide what he sees as his own fundamental lack of courage and decency in a culture obsessed with martyrdom. It's fairly obvious in his memoirs that Ciaphas is incapable of giving himself credit for any achievement, because he has to justify any noble act with ignoble intentions.
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Commissar Cap
 Ciaphas Cain / int_49a11c69
comment
Commissar Cap: Standard gear, though Amberley does note that Cain would probably prefer a helmet. It's humorously lampshaded near the beginning of Caves of Ice Also:
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Reassignment Backfire
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4a32f262
comment
Reassignment Backfire: Inverted repeatedly throughout the books, as Cain tries to get himself assigned to a nice, quiet job where he doesn't have to be shot at all the time, but always winds up in the worst possible situations—which gets him a reputation for being a thrill-seeker, causing him to end up in even more of these! The one time he does get a relatively quiet job? He goes on a routine patrol, and Hilarity Ensues. Played straight in the original short story Fight or Flight, which ends with Colonel Mostrue assigning the odorous Gunner Jurgen to Cain as his personal aide, obviously intended as a practical joke at Cain's expense. Jurgen goes on to not only be a more than able aide to Cain, but also turns out to be a blank whose powers save Cain's life countless times. Cain himself mentions that even heroes of the Imperium like himself are a dime a dozen compared to a blank like Jurgen.
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Leaning on the Fourth Wall
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4a3e547f
comment
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of Amberley's comments in The Last Ditch basically boils down to saying you should use the Lord Commissar rules to represent Cain on the tabletop. In The Emperor's Finest a decidedly meta footnote in Chapter 7: The irony of this statement seems to have eluded Cain entirely, though not, I suspect, most of my readers. In-universe this refers to fellow inquisitors but the passage this footnote refers to fits the most common complaint in RL about the Cain series. Amberley is disappointed that her fellow Inquisitors treat Cain's memoirs as light reading instead of food for thought. Given that the real world readers would have no idea who Cain was before they picked up the book, they wouldn't be overly surprised to discover he seems to be a self-serving coward which would greatly surprise people who have been watching his work for decades. Also, the books are much, much lighter than other 40K books whose grim setting is supposed to be dramatic and thought-provoking, often times to make people examine human nature or just for the shock value the setting provides. Comparatively, the Cain series is light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek which is more "light" then the darker material.
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Ping-Pong Naïveté
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4aafa707
comment
Ping-Pong Naïveté: When investigating a Slaaneshi hideout, Cain finds a room with a big pile of cushions in the middle, its purpose unclear. Amberley lampshades that Cain, a man of the galaxy, seems a little hypocritical here. Cain also takes a while to figure out Mira's reason for going with him on a campaign.
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Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4ae4e6e1
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Popcultural Osmosis Failure: A footnote in Caves of Ice has Amberley completely confused about why the Ice World the book takes place on would be named the Canis Latinicus version of "Brass Monkey".
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Advertised Extra
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4b0ef86e
comment
Advertised Extra: Apart from the conflict at the beginning before they can contact Cain, a few early scenes where they agree to work together with the Imperium to fight the Tyranids, the bit where El'Hassai accompanies Cain to a Mechanicus facility and an appearance in the epilogue, the Tau don't really contribute anything to the plot of The Greater Good, despite the book being named after their central philosophy. The scene on the front cover of Cain and a Tau Fire Warrior fighting back-to-back against a Tyranid horde never happens.
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Compromising Memoirs
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4c1ae434
comment
Compromising Memoirs: Cain wrote a set, which we're now reading.
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Blasé Boast
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4d74ae51
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Blasé Boast: Cain does this a lot. He makes sure to remind the reader that he only does it to seem like a Humble Hero.
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It's the Only Way to Be Sure
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4dcfdb68
comment
In Caves of Ice, upon discovering a dormant Necron tomb on Simia Orichalcae, Cain wastes no time in ordering a complete Imperial evacuation from the planet. While he admits (privately of course) his primary motivation is to save his own skin, Cain does correctly point out that the Necrons in the tomb likely outnumber the Imperials hundreds to one, and if they do wake up, the Imperials will find themselves caught between the Necrons and the Orks already invading the planet, so the best thing to do in the circumstances is get off planet, alert the Inquisition to what they've found and then call in an Imperial Navy flotilla to obliterate the tomb from orbit. It should be noted that this is one of the few times that Cain advises running away without going through the usual rigamarole of "Oh, I just want to get relocated back into the action," but openly states that "No, we don't stand a chance, we're leaving as soon as we can."
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Single-Issue Wonk
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4e324321
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Single-Issue Wonk: In For The Emperor, Amberley adds a wider view of the situation on Gravalax with excepts from a writer whose main failing is to blame everything on a conspiracy of rogue traders.
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A Friend in Need
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A Friend in Need: Kasteen and Broklaw, at the end of Traitor's Hand.
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Be All My Sins Remembered
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4e90e76c
comment
Be All My Sins Remembered: Played with. On the surface, the series is essentially one massive confession on Cain's part that he does not deserve the title of "Hero of the Imperium" with which he has been immortalized. The trope becomes subverted when you read carefully; more than once, Cain has done something heroic without thinking about it. Through most of the series, he appears totally selfish, but if something needs to be done, then it needs to be done. A specific example is when he jumps to save Amberley in Pererimunda and later reasons that he only did it because the pilot wouldn't have left without her, but one can see that he jumped first and rationalized later. This not only happens with Amberley, but also on other occasions, such as the time he sets the explosives in Nusquam Fundumentibus. He's pretty much sacrificing his own life to take out the tyranid infestation, but he survives thanks to some fast reasoning and Jurgen's proper use of a snowmobile to escape through tunnels previously dug by their enemies. As noted above, Word of God tells us that not even the author has defined if Cain is really a hero or not. Sometimes he's written Cain as entirely worthy of the title of "Hero of the Imperium", sometimes not.
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The Atoner
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4ef92d0b
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Played with in the same book. Certain Battle Sisters refuse to retreat to the line of their defenses because they must serve the Emperor; Cain finally points out that if the Tyranids outflank them, they will be responsible for the massacre of civilians in the Emperor's Temple. This not only persuades them to retreat, it causes one of them to thank him later, for reminding them of their duty, and admit that their zeal had led them astray. Later, this takes on a grimmer note. The sisters realize they have sheltered a renegade inquisitor. Even his deception does not ease their guilt; they realized their zeal had blinded them from seeing the facts. In atonement, they sacrifice their lives to ensure the escape of the Inquisitor who had told them the truth and her party.
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Tall, Dark, and Snarky
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4f292929
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Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Although Cain prefers to passes himself off as the Tall, Dark, and Handsome in public, at heart he is this, as his memoirs amply demonstrate.
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Beneath the Mask
 Ciaphas Cain / int_4fbc0887
comment
Beneath the Mask: The entire series is about a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM who secretly regards himself as a Dirty Coward whose every action was motivated by self-interest. Whether or not you believe that depends very much on how you interpret his true character. Inverted, in a fashion, for most of 40K's xenos races. In Cain's stories, we see these races as they would appear to someone who can't get inside their heads. We see the Orks as comic loonies because we can see through their eyes, but Cain sees them as ravening barbaric brutes. We see the Necrons as Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds because we know what their lives look like from the inside, but Cain sees them as omnicidal eldritch abominations. In short, Cain's stories allow us to see what 40K looks like when you can't see Beneath the Mask.
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Painting the Medium
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5009999d
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Painting the Medium: The shadowlight from Duty Calls is so ominous, it's never referred to with a capital letter and always in italics. This changes in Cain's Last Stand, where they actually use Caps as Shadowlight (might be ShadowLight).
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Pre-Mortem One-Liner
 Ciaphas Cain / int_508d91a2
comment
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Replete with them, usually right before Cain kills someone with his laspistol. "Sorry. I prefer blondes." (Cain to a Slaaneshi sorceress who tried to seduce him) Amberley Vail is blonde, but Cain says this before meeting her. "Consider yourself relieved of your position" (Amberley to the Genestealer-hybrid governor of Gravalax) "Blood for the Blood God!" "Harriers for the cup!" "Impersonating an inquisitor is a capital offense." (Cain to a Slaaneshi sorceress who'd unknowingly disguised herself as Amberley) "Commissar Donal sends his regards." Especially appropriate in that, as he said it, he was doing exactly what Donal had, as his last request, asked Cain to do. "Kick his arse for me." Let us reiterate: Cain killed a man by kicking him in the arse... over a large drop. Not just any man either, but a Chaos warmaster. Subverted in Duty Calls.
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Unresolved Sexual Tension
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Unresolved Sexual Tension: Subverted. While it's never said outright, statements peppered throughout the books, both in the text and in Vail's footnotes, all but confirm that the sexual tension between Cain and Vail is very much resolved. This is outright confirmed in the short story The Little Things, in which Cain arrives at Vail's hotel suite for a romantic rendezvous, only for unwelcome guests (read, incompetent hitmen) to make an appearance.
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Crazy-Prepared
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Crazy-Prepared Jurgen always seems to have whatever is needed in those pouches of his.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_50f66629
 Ciaphas Cain / int_515189ab
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Single-Biome Planet
 Ciaphas Cain / int_515189ab
comment
Single-Biome Planet: The Valhallans are ice-worlders and have a habit of setting their air-conditioning to levels that makes breath visible. Being assigned to Simia Orichalcae, the iceworld in Caves of Ice, brings them evident joy. It's mentioned in Cain's Last Stand, though that Valhalla is a justified case; All of the inhabitants live near the equator, and "Gone North" (their equivalent of "Gone South" or, "Gone ploin-shaped") arises from the fact that the Northern part of the planet (and the southern part, Amberley is quick to point out) is a place you really do not want to go. Adumbria is a three-biome planet, as it doesn't rotate on itself: one side is eternally dark Slippy Slidey Iceworld, the other a permanently-lit Shifting Sand Land, and a thin band of habitable terrain all around. Fortunately, the forces being sent there are Space Russians and Space Arabs.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_515189ab
 Ciaphas Cain / int_51d8f2e3
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Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
 Ciaphas Cain / int_51d8f2e3
comment
Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Between them, the techpriests and Administratum functionaries in Caves of Ice are well on their way to forming one before Kasteen gets annoyed and declares martial law (and Cain offers to shoot anyone who complains about it). Adumbria, in The Traitor's Hand, is being run by one of these thanks to a Succession Crisis. Zyvan tricks them into invoking the regent's emergency powers so he can shove them out of the loop. Just as well, as one of them was a Chaos cultist.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_51d8f2e3
 Ciaphas Cain / int_534793ae
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Methuselah Syndrome
 Ciaphas Cain / int_534793ae
comment
Methuselah Syndrome: Cain (and Jurgen) are well over 100 years old by the time of the events of Cain's Last Stand
 Ciaphas Cain / int_534793ae
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Ciaphas Cain / int_534793ae
 Ciaphas Cain / int_54321e11
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Innocent Fanservice Girl
 Ciaphas Cain / int_54321e11
comment
Innocent Fanservice Girl: Rakel the psyker is too crazy for ideas like modesty, and her attire is repeatedly described as inappropriately revealing. Most characters find the crazy too disturbing to appreciate it.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_54321e11
 Ciaphas Cain / int_54fbf23f
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Seeking Sanctuary
 Ciaphas Cain / int_54fbf23f
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Seeking Sanctuary
 Ciaphas Cain / int_54fbf23f
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1.0
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Ciaphas Cain / int_54fbf23f
 Ciaphas Cain / int_55f92df9
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Wire Dilemma
 Ciaphas Cain / int_55f92df9
comment
Wire Dilemma: In The Traitor's Hand, Cain discovers that the aircar a gang of Slaaneshi cultists had used to barge into General Zyvan's headquarters had been rigged to explode. When a techpriest tells him to disarm it by pulling the red wire, Cain has this to say:
 Ciaphas Cain / int_55f92df9
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Ciaphas Cain / int_55f92df9
 Ciaphas Cain / int_56c55ed8
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I Am Not Left-Handed
 Ciaphas Cain / int_56c55ed8
comment
I Am Not Left-Handed: In The Emperor's Finest Cain manages to get permission to use an Astartes training chapel to practice his weapon drills in (mostly to get away from a very socially awkward situation) and Drumon, the Techmarine practicing there, volunteers to spar with Cain. Cain senses that Drumon is just humoring him after easily deflecting a few of his strikes, so Cain starts downplaying his own abilities, and intentionally fighting poorly. He then steps up his game suddenly, bypassing Drumon's defenses and taking a chip out of his armor with the teeth of his chainsword. Drumon is both surprised and impressed, and decides to not repair the chip in his armor so as to leave it as a reminder not to underestimate his opponents.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_56c55ed8
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Ciaphas Cain / int_56c55ed8
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Divided We Fall
 Ciaphas Cain / int_56d5b88f
comment
Divided We Fall: Cain often uses this argument to get multiple factions to work together, typically because if they fall, so will he.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_56d5b88f
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Ciaphas Cain / int_56d5b88f
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5730ba86
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Pop the Tires
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5730ba86
comment
Pop the Tires: Happens by freak accident in one novel: a frag grenade goes off near one of his tank's treads, jamming it completely.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5730ba86
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5730ba86
 Ciaphas Cain / int_57b80b45
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Fantastic Racism
 Ciaphas Cain / int_57b80b45
comment
Fantastic Racism: Both used and subverted to a degree. Cain says he has trouble thinking of the Tau in For The Emperor as people, and the short story Traitor's Gambit makes his dislike of the Tau even more evident. Equally, he's shocked by (comparatively) friendly Tau behavior, being confused when a kroot saves his life when he is set upon by dissidents who support the Tau presence. Despite this, and remaining suspicious of multiculturalism or alien values, he gets on well enough with two comparatively cooperative Tau soldiers (a Fire Warrior and the aforementioned kroot), doesn't seem to bear most aliens any specific animosity, and almost shoots the two possibly-Genestealer-contaminated Tau soldiers to spare their comrades the trouble, only backing off because he couldn't be sure if they were infected (they had the usual symptoms, but as he notes, those symptoms could have been induced by exhaustion). He's also horrified by Amberley smiling at the possibility that the two were infected and inadvertently dooming their comrades. Note that even feeling any sympathy towards aliens puts him light years ahead of everyone else in the galaxy. He's also very egalitarian to the Tau diplomat working with the Imperials to coordinate their ceasefire in The Greater Good.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_57b80b45
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5989e3b6
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Enemy Mine
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5989e3b6
comment
Enemy Mine: In For The Emperor, Cain's recon team and a squad of Tau pathfinders briefly team up to scout out the terrorist base. Then they find a Bigger Fish and things get worse. Meanwhile on the surface, a Tau armored vehicle helps the Guard break through a rogue PDF position. The Greater Good also sees the Imperium and the Tau team up, on a larger scale: with the approach of Tyranid hive fleets large enough to destroy multiple worlds from both sides, the two empires agree to stop fighting long enough to stop the bigger problem. Kind of subverted, since the Tau expected that the fight against Tyranids would deplete the Imperial Fleet of the sector to the level where they will be able to capture dozens of systems without Imperial interference. And if the bulk of the casualties ended up being on the Tau side, the Imperium would gladly do the same thing to them. The Imperium-Tau agreement isn't so much an alliance as it is a ceasefire until their mutual enemy goes away. Choose Your Enemies features Eldar saving Cain's life a few times. This is what happens when the Farseer in charge of the Eldar unit knows if Cain dies, the Slaaneshi daemon Emeli will destroy both the Eldar and a large stash of soul stones.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5989e3b6
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Enemy Scan
 Ciaphas Cain / int_598c85e0
comment
Enemy Scan: In The Greater Good Cain is on the receiving end of one of these things. A squadron of Tau battlesuits keeps cornering him, shining a bright targeting light directly on him, which of course he tries to slip away from. In reality, it is not a scan to highlight weakness, but rather to get a clear picture of his face to confirm his identity against the Tau's files on him. They just wanted to talk to him specifically.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_598c85e0
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Ciaphas Cain / int_598c85e0
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Psycho Lesbian
 Ciaphas Cain / int_59ddd555
comment
Psycho Lesbian: Magot is generally able to channel her destructive tendencies in a productive way, being a regimental hand to hand champion and highly regarded as a soldier by Cain. She is also one of the worst troublemakers in the 597th Valhallan, a VERY robust driver (highlights include running over a Tyranid Lictor that was menacing Cain) and perfectly willing to hunt down and beat a man senseless for sexist vocal offense. Also, she will point her gun at anyone threatening Grifen, repercussions be damned.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_59ddd555
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Ciaphas Cain / int_59ddd555
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Call a Rabbit a
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5ac34441
comment
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Inherited from the game's setting, mostly. See ShoutOut.Ciaphas Cain for the best examples. A particularly interesting case occurs in regard to the alcoholic drink amasec, as there are two different "rabbits" in different parts of the galaxy. In the Cain series, it is fairly clearly whisky, explicitly mentioned as derived from grain. In the Calixis Sector, the word instead refers to a fruit-derived brandy. Although given that the galaxy is extremely large with literally tens of thousands of inhabited worlds, and how similar words can have wildly different meanings even on our own single world, some language drift is understandable.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5ac34441
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Slippy-Slidey Ice World
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5ad7c5fd
comment
Adumbria is a three-biome planet, as it doesn't rotate on itself: one side is eternally dark Slippy Slidey Iceworld, the other a permanently-lit Shifting Sand Land, and a thin band of habitable terrain all around. Fortunately, the forces being sent there are Space Russians and Space Arabs.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5ad7c5fd
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Million-to-One Chance
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5b12f598
comment
Million-to-One Chance: Cain, and his reputation, practically live on this. It's not always good examples either—in Caves of Ice, though it's not quite a million to one shot, the chance of Cain and his squad stumbling across a Necron tomb are pretty damn low. This is justified later on when Cain determines that the Adeptus Mechanicus deliberately positioned the mining facility over the Necron tomb, so finding it was just a matter of time.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5b12f598
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5b19cc1b
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Air-Vent Passageway
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5b19cc1b
comment
Air-Vent Passageway: Both used and subverted in Cain's Last Stand, where the air vents are exactly the place genestealers like to hide, but Cain takes the fact it works as a sign that the Tyranids aren't the only threat. He also readily uses maintenance hatches after learning of them in Death or Glory (he notes in the short story Traitor's Gambit that he tries to acquire their access codes in advance when possible).
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5b19cc1b
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5bcdb848
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"I Know What We Can Do" Cut
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5bcdb848
comment
"I Know What We Can Do" Cut: At the climax of Cain's Last Stand. Cain tells them what they can do, tells us that they opposed it, but does not tell the reader until he actually does it: he calls up Varan and proposes a meeting to discuss surrender terms. Specifically, terms for Varan's surrender.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5bcdb848
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5bdcc85a
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Disney Villain Death
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5bdcc85a
comment
Disney Villain Death: Cain kicking Warmaster Varan over a cliff in Cain's Last Stand.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5bdcc85a
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5bdcc85a
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5beef860
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Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5beef860
comment
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Necrons are to Cain what snakes are to Indiana Jones, and with good reason, detailed in the omnibus-exclusive short Echoes of the Tomb. They're the reason for his augmetic fingers.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5beef860
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5beef860
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5d4359fe
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No Blood for Phlebotinum
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5d4359fe
comment
No Blood for Phlebotinum: Caves of Ice sees the 597th deployed to protect a valuable promethium refinery from an Ork attack.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5d4359fe
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5d4359fe
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5e260ea6
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Conveniently an Orphan
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5e260ea6
comment
Conveniently an Orphan: Cain is a product of the Schola Progenium, schools which raise and educate the children of people who died serving in the Imperial forces.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5e260ea6
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5e260ea6
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5fb5be92
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Spot of Tea
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5fb5be92
comment
Spot of Tea: Valhallans really love their tanna, and so does Cain. Amberley tried it once, and was diplomatic about loathing it, noting that Cain describing its flavor as "delicate" was like calling a Baneblade "dainty". Given the Valhallans' Russian flavor, it's very likely that tanna is based on chifir, a Russian beverage that is basically very strong overboiled tea which is pitch black, very bitter (thus the acquired taste that Cain notes of tanna), has psychostimulant properties, and is typically consumed by prisoners because alcohol, nicotine and other drugs are strictly forbidden in Russian prisons.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5fb5be92
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Sacred Hospitality
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5fd14ab3
comment
Sacred Hospitality: The Adeptus Mechanicus is bad at it.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_5fd14ab3
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Ciaphas Cain / int_5fd14ab3
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60194b82
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Spanner in the Works
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60194b82
comment
Spanner in the Works: Cain is practically a walking one. For the rare situations where he himself isn't enough, there's Jurgen and his peculiar talents. Between the two of them there is practically nothing they don't bring to a gear-grinding halt. The trope is even mentioned by name.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60194b82
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Ciaphas Cain / int_60194b82
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60fa92ac
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Names to Run Away From Really Fast
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60fa92ac
comment
Cain's tendency to run into, and deal with, people whose ideas he regards as insane and suicidal. He is particularly leery of Tech-priests and those who dabble in technology (the two Necron Tomb incidents, the Reclaimers' insistence on boarding The Spawn of Damnation, and Kildhar's biological studies of the Tyranids from The Greater Good come to mind).
 Ciaphas Cain / int_60fa92ac
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Ciaphas Cain / int_60fa92ac
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I Take Offense to That Last One!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_61b576af
comment
I Take Offense to That Last One!: In For The Emperor, Cain needs to win over the members of a tribunal in a case, and goes over how to do so.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_61b576af
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Cooperation Gambit
 Ciaphas Cain / int_625e9470
comment
The first novel, For The Emperor, features a planet which is on the brink of civil war thanks to tensions between pro-Tau and Imperium loyalist factions. Since neither side wants war to break out, they often have to calm down their own examples. In the end it turns out that Genestealers have been serving this role the entire time to soften the planet up for invasion.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_625e9470
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Bavarian Fire Drill
 Ciaphas Cain / int_62fd5552
comment
Bavarian Fire Drill: Cain says in The Emperor's Finest that the surest way to bluff your way through a conversation is to act like you already know what you're talking about and be just vague enough that the other person hears what he or she wants to hear. He demonstrates this spectacularly in Duty Calls by bluffing his way into a rogue Inquisitor's hideout. The specific incident in The Emperor's Finest that Cain mentions this about involves, incredibly, marriage. To the heir to a planetary governor, of all people. It takes him days to figure out what he's agreed to. Amberley is bemused at how slow on the draw Cain was about that.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_62fd5552
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Ciaphas Cain / int_62fd5552
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Did You Just Have Sex?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_639aa0cd
comment
Did You Just Have Sex?: In Choose Your Enemies, Cain sees both Colonel Kasteen and Major Broklaw entertaining the attentions of local nobles at a banquet in the 597th's honor, and wryly thinks to himself that neither the CO nor XO are likely to spend the night in their own quarters. Sure enough, the next morning, Kasteen is "gulping recaff with the air of someone who was tired but still relishing the process of having got that way."
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BadassNormal
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6411dac8
comment
Badass Normal: Cain has faced down Chaos Space Marines, Genestealer Patriachs and Tyrants, and Ork Warbosses in single combat. The Guard, and sometimes the PDF, even though Cain usually regards the latter as nothing more than a joke.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6411dac8
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Heroic Sacrifice
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6439de78
comment
Astropath Clementine Drey at the climax of ''The Greater Good', who continually broadcasts a scrambling signal from a salvaged Tyranid bioship node to disrupt an invading fleet of Tyranids until the seizures she suffers become fatal. Her Heroic Sacrifice is specifically recognised and lauded as such afterwards in the histories of the conflict.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_6439de78
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6480c255
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Robbing the Dead
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6480c255
comment
Robbing the Dead: At one point in Choose Your Enemies, Cain discovers that the local militia has been ordered to take the spirit stones off Eldar dead and send them up the command chain so the local governor can use them in a daemon-summoning.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6480c255
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Dying as Yourself
 Ciaphas Cain / int_663b22d9
comment
Dying as Yourself: Commissar Donal shoots himself rather than re-succumb to Varan's brainwashing.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_663b22d9
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Too Kinky to Torture
 Ciaphas Cain / int_671a3e1
comment
Too Kinky to Torture: Lampshaded in The Traitor's Hand, where Cain observes (to himself) that "torturing a masochist is singularly unproductive." Beije attempts it anyway, with humorous results.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_671a3e1
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Blind Obedience
 Ciaphas Cain / int_674e8192
comment
Blind Obedience: Jurgen towards Cain, who thankfully doesn't abuse it.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_674e8192
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Ciaphas Cain / int_674e8192
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The Pardon
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6787588e
comment
The Pardon: Amberley offers one to troopers sentenced to a penal legion in the first book, by dint of accompanying the esteemed Ciaphas Cain on an Inquisitorial recon mission to the maze-like depths of the city sewers...that may or may not be swarming with a rebel faction who has the upper hand and something horriblebadevil. Cain doesn't like it, since he'd rather not have to go onto the field accompanying five guardsmen who might still hold a grudge over the sentence (and of several he personally saw stab people to death, and one of which scared him deeply), but can't object—mostly because when an Inquisitor wants you to accompany them, you accompany them.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_68424916
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Eating the Eye Candy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_68424916
comment
Mira means "Look at that!"note Literally, it's the imperative form of mirari, "to marvel at" in Latin. Cain certainly does, and then some.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_68424916
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Ciaphas Cain / int_68424916
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6977c45e
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Purple Prose
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6977c45e
comment
There are three supporting accounts. The first is the memoirs of Jenit Sulla, who was one of Cain's subordinates during the events he describes. However, Jenit has entirely bought into the heroic myth surrounding Cain (which was one of the things Cain set out to dispel), writes in a prose so purple it's nigh unreadable and her narration makes it sound like Cain was a mentor-figure to her (Cain's narration makes it clear he considers her nothing more than another snot-nosed butterbar and finds her eager "Emperor-and-Imperium"-idealism extremely annoying).
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Ciaphas Cain / int_6977c45e
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6a12837c
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Plain Palate
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6a12837c
comment
Plain Palate: Implied for the techpriests in "The Greater Good", when one can't figure out why Cain would prefer a steak to soylens viridiens because it provides everything he needs. When Cain says, "Except flavour and texture," the priest says in a baffled way, "Oh. Those."
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Legally Dead
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comment
Legally Dead: Cain had been declared legally dead many times (most prominently in Death or Glory) to the point where it was inverted—there is a specific edict that prevents bureaucrats from calling him legally dead, so now he forever remains in active service even after being buried with military honours.
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Serious Business
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6b35bdff
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Serious Business: Among the Valhallans; snow-sculpting, snow forts, Snowball Fights... pretty much anything involving snow and/or the killing of Orks.
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Lady Land
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6b4b3eba
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It gets gender-inverted in The Last Ditch when the matriarchal locals are extremely matronizing to the male officers; even Cain has a hard time being taken seriously, and the Governor makes several comments suggesting he and Major Broklaw are just there as Colonel Kasteen's eye candy.
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Uncanny Valley
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6b5a92dc
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Uncanny Valley: One of the short stories has a prostitute with elaberate tatoos all down her arms and legs. It looks attractively exotic... unless you notice that their primary purpose is to mask the fact her muscles are the wrong shape (she's a late-generation Genestealer hybrid).
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Supreme Chef
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6bccf2ba
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Supreme Chef: Zyvan employs one, and Cain often justifies accepting suicide missions because the alternative would leave him no longer invited to dinner by the general.
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Meaningful Name
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Meaningful Name: Ciaphas and Cain are the names of well-known villains from The Bible. One possible translation of "Caiaphas", according to The Other Wiki, is "rock that hollows itself out". The Single-Issue Wonk who wrote that Fictional Document in For The Emperor is named Stententious Logar, a slight misspelling of a word meaning "addicted to pompous moralizing". Inquisitor Vail's name could also be one; she is, after all, concealing ("veiling") Cain's true nature from the world at large. And her favorite investigation method starts off with "pick a cover identity to use". Mira means "Look at that!"note Literally, it's the imperative form of mirari, "to marvel at" in Latin. Cain certainly does, and then some. It gets downright silly with some of the merely mentioned minor characters, such as the fencing instructor "Miyamoto de Bergerac" note Presumably from Miyamoto Musashi and Cyrano de Bergerac and the author of a book about the fungus-like features of Orks "Migo Yuggoth" note In the Cthulhu Mythos, the fungoid insects known as Mi-Go come to Earth from Pluto, which they call Yuggoth.. See also the Shout Outs page for more examples of this sort. Emeli DuBoir's last name is a bastardization of the word "boudoir", which is a lady's bedroom. Given Ms. DuBoir's actions in the stories in which she appears, this seems fitting. The Ordo Dialogus representative in charge of translating tablets associated with the shadowlight in Cain's Last Stand is Sister Rosetta. Rogue Trader (and covert agent for Inquisitor Vail) Orelius's ship is named the Lucre Foedus, a good approximation of "filthy lucre" AKA "dirty money".
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Name's the Same
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6bedf674
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Inquisitor Malden is quoted on page 47 of the Omnibus: "You'll get more with a kind word and an excruciator than with just a kind word." A psyker named Malden shows up in Traitor's Hand to...extract information from a member of the council of claimants.
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No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6c0e5342
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No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Done to Cain by the Big Bad of Duty Calls.
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Tactful Translation
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6c7136b7
comment
Tactful Translation: "Frak this, for my faith is a shield proof against your blandishments!" is a bit more inspiring than "Frak this! My soul's my own, and I'm keeping it!" It's implied that Cain's official biography is this compared to his memoirs that we read. Then again, "I strode forth against the xenos in the name of the Emperor" reads a lot better to imperial audiences than "I looked for a way to escape danger, then fraked that up too."
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Driven to Suicide
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6d332aea
comment
Driven to Suicide: Shows up twice in Cain's Last Stand: Donal shoots himself when he realizes that he can't overcome Varan's brainwashing. When the brainwashed Battle Sisters acting as Varan's bodyguards have his control over them broken, they collapse into screaming hysterics, then throw themselves off a rooftop.
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Punny Name
 Ciaphas Cain / int_6d7026fa
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Punny Name: All over the place. Several planets, including the ice worlds Simia Orichalchae and Nusquam Fundumentibus—respectively, pseudo-Latin for "brass monkey" note from the British expression "It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" and "arse end of nowhere"note also British slang, for the middle of nowhere—as well as Sodallagain, a planet with apparently nothing of interest. In Cain's Last Stand, there's Orelius's ship, the Lucre Foedus... quite appropriate for a Rogue Trader. The Planetary Governor of Deepwater is named Landon Hoy. A lot of the Shout Outs also feature these.
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Understatement
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This is one of Cain's frequent observations about Jurgen, often delivered with a great deal of Understatement and unconcerned stoicism.
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No Ontological Inertia
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No Ontological Inertia: Averted, and specifically discussed in Cain's Last Stand. The people Varan controlled remain warped even after his death. Cain observes it would have been easier if they had been freed—"but this wasn't some comforting fairy tale...". In one rather extreme case, Varan's personal shuttle pilot was found dead after the final battle. He had been ordered by (the now deceased) Varan to wait for his return. The pilot took these orders literally and starved to death waiting for Varan.
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Asymmetric Dilemma
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Asymmetric Dilemma: Two examples in The Last Ditch: While fighting a Mawloc in Cain worries at length about the prospect of being digested to death, prompting a footnote from Amberley about how he'd die of physical trauma or suffocation first. She admits that it's not as reassuring as she'd meant it to be. Later, Cain marvels at a pile of demo charges that could take down an Ork Gargant. Jurgen agrees if the Orks had a Gargant... and if the Tyranids hadn't eaten all the Orks.
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Antagonistic Governor
 Ciaphas Cain / int_70d2bc73
comment
Antagonistic Governor: A couple examples: In For The Emperor, Governor Grice causes a lot of problems for Cain and the other Imperials because he's a genestealer hybrid. Averted in the other novels, where the governors are competent but hopelessly outmatched or a George W. Bush expy, none of them are actually ill-intentioned towards Cain (except for one after he ended up brainwashed by the villain). In one case, one even saves Cain from being married to a particularly pushy Girl of the Week). Double Subverted in Choose Your Enemies where the Planetary Govenor is helpful and effective right up until he is revealed as the Big Bad.
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Sensor Suspense
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Sensor Suspense The fourth book has this, when he's in an escape shuttle that's being attacked by an Orkish fighter (since it most likely has very close ranged weapons its appearance on the pod's radar is the same as it would be for a missile). Also present in The Emperor's Finest, which sees Cain boarding a space hulk alongside a chapter of Space Marines.
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Bar Brawl
 Ciaphas Cain / int_716d9138
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In For the Emperor Cain presides over the trials of six Guardsmen from the Valhallan 296th and 301st who had been involved in a Bar Brawl that resulted in the deaths of several Guardsmen and Imperial Navy personnel. The penalty is death, but Cain uses his authority as regimental commissar to commute the sentences to service in a penal legion. He then deals with the root of the problem by re-founding the two amalgamated half-strength regiments as one unit, the Valhallan 597th.
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Mistaken for an Imposter
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Mistaken for an Imposter: Played for Laughs—one of the few instances in Cain's later career where his name doesn't immediately evoke awe in the person he's introducing himself to is a moment when the other person thinks he's joking.
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Politically Incorrect Villain
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Politically Incorrect Villain: Beije is a textbook case of a secondary character who goes from a minor obstacle for the heroes to deeply unlikeable after spouting off at the mouth.
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Ermine Cape Effect
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7302acc9
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When Mira introduces herself, she is wearing a stylized outfit resembling a garish military uniform that is cut a little too tight around the chest for her endowmentnote  And being the daughter of a planetary governor, it was almost certainly deliberately tailored that way which she resolves by leaving the top several buttons undone. According to Cain, other items of her wardrobe tend toward being low-cut, so this is something of a stylistic theme with her.
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Covers Always Lie
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7315fd38
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Cain's chainsword and laspistol. In the first book, Cain declines to replace it with a more powerful hellpistol because he's afraid that the extra weight would throw off his aim. See Covers Always Lie above for what the general Imperial population believes is the case. Although this is justified as to why they think he carries around a bolt pistol- a) because the Bolt Pistol is quite often associated with commissars, who do use the weapons often (though Cain explains why he prefers the laspistol in "The Last Ditch,"), and b) because in The Greater Good, it's explained that Jurgen found a very, very nice bolt pistol, and Ciaphas uses this when posing for posters instead of his normal laspistol.
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What an Idiot!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_73dce7d
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Toren Divas, whose well-meaning enthusiasm gets Cain nearly killed at least three times that we know of.
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Total Party Kill
 Ciaphas Cain / int_73f7b5a5
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Actually, Total Party Kill happened like four times in all the books. Usually a unit with Cain attached will take no or minor casualties. Hell, even the squad that passed through ambull tunnels, a necron tomb, and got into ork ambushes twice lost only half of its members. Such a mortality rate is very low by 40K standards.
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Police Brutality
 Ciaphas Cain / int_744e3311
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From the same book, he also seems approving when the Arbites show up to beat the crap out of a handful of troublesome but otherwise peaceful pro-Tau humans.
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Easy Logistics
 Ciaphas Cain / int_745a226c
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Easy Logistics: The aversion is discussed in the first book. The Imperial Guard would rather not have to fight for Gravalax if they don't have to, as its status as a remote border system means that ensuring a secure supply line would tie up a lot of resources that are needed elsewhere. But on the other hand, if they don't fight for it, the Tau might take it as a license to keep on going and start grabbing other, far more valuable systems. It's played with in the 597th; they don't have the same problems keeping their numbers and equipment up that other regiments do because it took decades for the logistics branch to catch on that they were amalgamated and stop giving them two regiments' worth of supplies.
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See the Whites of Their Eyes
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See the Whites of Their Eyes: Averted and mocked in Death or Glory:
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Saved by Canon
 Ciaphas Cain / int_75c33176
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Saved by Canon: Inevitable due to the fact the stories are written out of order and have recurring characters. Inquisitor Vail and Ciaphas Cain are the most notable, since the very beginning of the first novel basically establishes that the novels could not exist without Cain surviving to write them and Vail surviving to edit them. Occasional one-book characters (and Sulla) also get this, as Vail could not possibly include excerpts from their memoirs if they didn't survive to write them. Averted, however, with one character's memoirs being listed as never being published foreshadowing the fact that he didn't live long enough to finish them).
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Belligerent Sexual Tension
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Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cain and Mira.
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It Began with a Twist of Fate
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It Began with a Twist of Fate: Nearly every important plot event stems from Cain looking for a quiet, routine assignment away from the front line. All it does is allow him to run into the secret cult/the backdoor entrance into their base/ the unseen flanking attack which only leads him into greater danger as a result.
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Admiring the Abomination
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Admiring the Abomination: This is a common failing of Techpriests when it comes to Necrons and their tombs, and the Cain novels are no exception: While searching the mines below a processing plant his unit's guarding, Cain discovers a Necron tomb. The Techpriest who accompanies Cain can't understand why he wants to blow up the tomb's entrance and call in the navy to bomb the place into oblivion. He changes his mind after he's the only survivor of a group of "Cogboys" who entered the tomb; he eventually gleefully helps drown the tomb in promethium. The short story Echoes of the Tomb chronicles Cain's first encounter with the Necrons after a group of Techpriests attempt to salvage what they believe is an inactive tombworld.
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Troubling Unchildlike Behavior
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Then there's the nursery rhyme, "The tracks on the Land Raider crush the heretics, crush the heretics, crush the heretics..."
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Absurdly Dedicated Worker
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Absurdly Dedicated Worker: In Cain's Last Stand, after Warmaster Varan is killed by Cain, his shuttle pilot is found starved to death in his cockpit. Varan's main superpower is psionic brainwashing, and the investigators surmise that he ordered the pilot to wait for further orders and thanks to Cain, could never give him different ones.
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From Bad to Worse
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7870735b
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At the climax of Cain's Last Stand, with their position about to be overrun by Varan's vengeful Chaos horde, matters swiftly go from bad to worse when a force of Necrons teleports in behind the Chaos forces and begin annihilating the heretics. Realising the Necrons fully intend to fight their way through the Chaos lines to the Imperial position, and aware they're in no shape to fight such an enemy, Cain wastes no time in ordering a full evacuation and orders the Mechanicus adepts on site to detonate the facility's self-destruct mechanism. The Imperials succeed in escaping, but the Necrons sabotage the self-destruct and escape with a powerful artefact the site was housing.
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Inappropriately Close Comrades
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comment
Inappropriately Close Comrades: Early in the first book, Cain struggles with the aftermath of a riot on a ship in which some provosts were killed. The captain of the ship is hellbent on having the murderers executed, even though it would be terrible for the morale of the regiment. Cain suspects his vehemence comes from having a relationship with one of the dead provosts that is beyond what would be appropriate for a commander, and Amberlyn confirms this to be the case in a footnote. The possibility of a relationship between Cain and Colonel Kasteen was mentioned by Cain, but neither pursued it as it could have given rise to the type of problems seen in the trope description (the fact that Cain is frak-buddies with Inquisitor Vail probably helped a little). That said, before he meets Vail he has no problem using his personal charm at any level of the Guard command, nor does he have a problem letting Kasteen go up the stairs before him so he can look at her ass (which incidentally saved their lives, as he wouldn't have noticed an incoming Attack Drone otherwise). The Valhallan 597th is a mixed-gender regiment created from two different single-gender regiments, so it's mentioned in passing that pregnancies happen often enough that Cain is familiar with baby behavior. Cain is also aware of a less-than-regular relationship between Corporal Magot and Sergeant Grifen, but chooses to stay well out of it, since he prefers to avoid being as much like harsher commissars (who tend to die of friendly fire far from enemy lines) as possible. This is a minor plot point in The Traitor's Hand, as Cain notes that Beije probably suspects that he's in this relationship with Magot because he's being lenient with her (to avoid damaging the morale of her squadnote And possibly a bit of favouritism since said squad's save his life several times.). Cain notes that even if she wasn't a lesbian, he already has enough dangerous women in his life (a clingy planetary governor's daughter, a daemon princess, and the aforementioned Inquisitor, who chooses to take it as a compliment).
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Consummate Liar
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Consummate Liar: Even before he knew about Jurgen, and afterward when he's not around, Cain was confident in his ability to fool mind readers—mostly by controlling stray thoughts. It is implied that he couldn't have defended himself from an actual investigation and is lucky that his memory has never been scanned before. But then again, Amberley is the first human being in his life whom he cannot fool no matter how he tried, and she's an Inquisitor.
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Battlecry
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7b0fddcd
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In The Traitor's Hand in particular, people mocking the Khornates' "Blood for the Blood God!" Battlecry.
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Distinction Without a Difference
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Distinction Without a Difference: Cain doesn't "charge the enemy". He "retreats forwards".
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Armor-Piercing Question
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Armor-Piercing Question: "When did you last have an augmetic upgrade?" turns out to be one for Magos Kildhar in The Greater Good. It makes her realize that she's been the Manchurian Agent all along.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_7bb1296b
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"Rashomon"-Style: For times when Amberley was there in person, she'll note when she remembers things differently than Cain has written them. The extracts from other people's accounts diverge even more, as Jenit Sulla never sees Cain as less than a mighty hero and a personal mentor (after he's spent a while griping about her, her gung-ho tactics and her horse-like face). Tayber from Death Or Glory is probably the biggest example of this, as Cain describes fighting off hordes of Orks until he and Jurgen believe they're cornered and their luck has finally run out, only to be relieved in the nick of time by a PDF unit, while Tayber's account has Cain roll into town, kick Orkish arse, forge the PDF and civilians into an army and go on to liberate the planet exactly as he planned.
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Smart People Play Chess
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7bd44eb9
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Smart People Play Chess: Cain is an expert player of 'Regicide' the 40k version of chess. Averted to a point with General Zyvan, who can't win a single game against Cain, despite being a far superior strategist.
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Earth-Shattering Kaboom
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7c7589af
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Earth-Shattering Kaboom: To deal with the necrons in Caves of Ice, Cain essentially turns an entire promethium refinery into a giant fuel-air bomb. The explosion would probably have been a mass extinction-level event had the planet not been an ice world, and the shockwave buffets Cain's ship in orbit!
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Let Us Never Speak of This Again
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7d4a47d1
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Cain occasionally mentions being held captive by Dark Eldar reavers, an experience he is apparently loathe to recount, even compared to all the other horrors he has experienced.
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Tsundere
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7ef728b1
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Tsundere: Sulla, in For the Emperor, goes from showing opposition and dislikement of Cain's decisions on the regiment in front of other officials to eventually ask privately him in a rather nervous and shy way for a chance to show her value as a soldier. Cain of course takes the opportunity to act magnanimously, and get one more person disposed to cover his back, which makes Sulla all the happier. Mira in The Emperor's Finest is definitely a Type A, bouncing from coy and flirty to snippy and sullen with Cain depending on whether or not she's getting her way.
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Impossibly Cool Clothes
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7f3be191
comment
Impossibly Cool Clothes: Mira owned a dress that was only held up by static cling. In Amberley's footnotes, she said that she used to own one of those, but it was wrecked in a firefight. She never bothered to replace it, because the few places you could hide a gun in a dress like that were rather uncomfortable.
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Unfriendly Fire
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Unfriendly Fire: Cain's main justification for treating the troopers well is avoiding this. He also suspects Colonel Mostrue, his first commander, of attempting The Uriah Gambit from time to time. In Duty Calls, he comes to suspect that some of the PDF did try this. He's right—and they had orders.
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Freak Out
 Ciaphas Cain / int_7fbe9a30
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When Cain and a small squad go into the Necron tombs to destroy the warp portal in Caves Of Ice, they get confronted by Pariahs. Most Freak Out, but Cain and Jurgen are unaffected due to having an acquired immunity to the psychic effect used by the Pariahs, since it's essentially the same thing as Jurgen's ability.
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Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
 Ciaphas Cain / int_808cbaeb
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She's also a terrible writer compared to Cain, often going on in excessive prose. Amberley often comments about this to her chagrin.
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Boarding School
 Ciaphas Cain / int_82d57ef5
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Boarding School: Cain makes the Schola Progenium seem less like a badass Military School and more like Tom Brown's Schooldays, complete with "scrumball practice".
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Big, Bulky Bomb
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Big, Bulky Bomb: Multiple instances: In typical 40K fashion, Cain improvises an over-the-top one of these using an entire refinery's worth of promethium to blow up a Necron tomb. The resulting explosion is felt from orbit. He pulls another stunt like this on Nusquam Fundamentibus, where he essentially triggers a volcanic eruption to kill a buried Tyranid bioship before it can summon more of its kind.
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BFG
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8344209e
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Averted in Caves of Ice where a flamer-equipped guardsman is killed by a bolter to the chest, though Jurgen takes out a Flamer-wielding Ork and causes it to detonate.
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First-Episode Twist
 Ciaphas Cain / int_83fb6177
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First-Episode Twist: For The Emperor runs on this. The 296/301 Valhallan is merged into the 597th (and are forged into a single force, instead of two mutually antagonistic units) and Kasteen and Broklaw become friends with each other and with Cain, genestealer cults are behind the trouble on Gravalax, Amberley Vail is the inquisitor, Jurgen is a blank...
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Inherently Funny Words
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comment
Inherently Funny Words: Played for Laughs. Amberley occasionally provides translations of Orkish phrases that give a much more sophisticated explanation to the words than the Orks probably could articulate. For instance, she translates an Ork ship named "'Ard 'Nuff" as "Battle-Ready" when a more literal translation would simply be "Hard Enough". She also elaborates on "zogoff":
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Made a Slave
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8437cb10
comment
Made a Slave: Cain occasionally mentions being held captive by Dark Eldar reavers, an experience he is apparently loathe to recount, even compared to all the other horrors he has experienced. Most of the civilian members of his force in Death Or Glory were made slaves by Orks before he (read: the PDF squad he met up with) rescued them.
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FrickinLaserBeams
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8491d51e
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In For The Emperor a sniper accompanying Cain shoots the pack of a (already dead) genestealer cultist's flamethrower to create a barrier to cover their escape (although this is justified, since the sniper was armed with a LongLas, which would easily have been able to boil the fuel and make the tank explode).
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Disposable Pilot
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8494bcb3
comment
Disposable Pilot: Warmaster Varan's (Brainwashed and Crazy, like all his minions) pilot is eventually revealed to have starved to death as he had been told to stay there until Varan's return. After Varan dies and Decapitated Army is noticeably averted, he continues to wait for orders that never come.
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Bait-and-Switch
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8797239c
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Bait-and-Switch: In Duty Calls, Cain mentions how dark the Inquisition's secrets could go. Zemelda Cleats, a new recruit of Amberley's, makes light of her new duties, comparing it with a children's game. All this sets up something terrible happening to her on Amberley's watch.. but Cain's not talking about Amberley at all. The dirty business refers to rogue Inquisitor Killian.
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Deadly Dodging
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Deadly Dodging: Cain making combat servitors fire at each other in Cain's Last Stand.
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Absurdly Spacious Sewer
 Ciaphas Cain / int_87e661e8
comment
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Since most cities in 40K are so old the undercities have undercities (and many of those have undercities of their own), this trope is somewhat justified. Both Lampshaded and played straight in Death or Glory. When Cain is trapped in a building surrounded by Orks, he remarks that having sewers and storm drains as a convenient escape route whenever he's trapped is not nearly as common as he would have liked. Played straight in For the Emperor when Cain and Vail go into the city sewers to hunt Genestealers. Played with in The Emperor's Finest, when Cain points out to the Astartes Commander that the tunnels running below an enemy artillery unit aren't spacious enough to fit Space Marines, but PDF troopers can move there just fine. However, after saving Cain and Mira from the Genestealer ambush, Space Marines proceed to hunt down the survivors in those very tunnels. In Terminator suits, no less.
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I Thought Everyone Could Do That
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I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Cain briefly forgets that not everyone has his tunnel instincts in an early book.
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Plague of Good Fortune
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8864056
comment
Plague of Good Fortune: Cain's entire career can pretty much be summed up as a repeating cycle of "Be thrust into danger" --> "Find greater danger while trying to escape first danger" --> "Become praised as a hero for defeating new danger." Naturally, as his fame increases, so do others' expectations of him, much to his chagrin.
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Badass Army
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8878f3be
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Badass Army: The Valhallan 597th. In contrast with typical portrayals of Valhallans as employers of Zerg Rush tactics straight out of the worst months of the Great Patriotic War, the 597th are a highly experienced, highly trained, and highly modernized mechanized infantry fighting force.
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Badass Back
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Badass Back: At one point in The Traitor's Hand, Cain attempts to elbow a cultist behind him, then switches to stabbing his chainsword under his arm into the cultist's chest.
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Stiff Upper Lip
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Stiff Upper Lip: Cain manages to successfully convince others he has this. (See also Pre-Mortem One-Liner.)
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Abhorrent Admirer
 Ciaphas Cain / int_88cee6e2
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Abhorrent Admirer: In a non-romantic example, Cain considers Sulla as this. She, of course, remains completely unaware of what he thinks, and sees him as a mentor. Mira is a downplayed example. Cain is happy to sleep with her, but begins aggressively finding excuses to avoid her company when he realizes that she is hoping to make him her husband. It's not that he'd mind that either, the problem is that she thinks he's given his implicit consent already in no uncertain terms, and thus he'd have a very awkward time explaining to her the fact that it would be plain impossible for him to leave his position to marry.
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Pull Yourself Down the Spear
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Pull Yourself Down the Spear: In The Last Ditch, an Ork Cain is fighting tries to do this when Cain impales it on his chainsword, but he cuts through its spine and kills it before it can get very far.
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Always a Bigger Fish
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comment
Always a Bigger Fish: The resolution of Cain's Last Stand depends on this. Most of the stories go this way—Cain and his unit are summoned to take care of one threat, but then an even BIGGER threat shows up. Fight or Flight (The very first Cain story) starts with the mopping-up of a fairly minor Ork incursion, with Tyranids showing up just as they're about to wrap things up and call it a day. For The Emperor starts out with tensions between humans and the Tau, with the real threat being Genestealers. Caves of Ice has the Orks at the start, with the Necrons as the real threat. That is before an Ork Gargant smashes through Necron Monoliths and threatens evacuation zone. Duty Calls originally has the 597th sent to deal with a routine civil insurrection, which turns out to have been started by genestealers, followed closely behind by Tyranids, but a much greater threat from renegade elements of the Inquisition and the Adeptus Mechanicus presents itself. The Emperor's Finest starts with Genestealers and Tyranids, but Orks also become a very prominent threat. Interestingly, the Tau and the Orks are frequently on the lower end of the threats that Cain faces, and are often used as the "Set-up" villains. The Last Ditch starts with Orks, but shifts to Tyranids. The Greater Good has Tau forces at first before shifting to Tyranids (again). Choose Your Enemies spends most of the book with the Eldar as the main threat, with the real threat of the Chaos Cult only becoming apparent at the climax.
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Humiliation Conga
 Ciaphas Cain / int_890d4ef2
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Humiliation Conga: Poor, poor Commissar Beije. First, he comes to arrest Cain for cowardice and desertion, only to find out Cain has his hands full trying to prevent a daemonic summoning. Then a (male) cultist kisses him as he tries to interrogate him. Then it turns out Cain was right, and is perfectly willing to talk back to a Greater Daemon. Then Cain defeats the daemon (Beije getting attacked in the process), earning the admiration and respect of the Emperor-botherers Beije had brought with him, undermining his authority further. Then, once Cain is put on trial, the jury not only clears Cain of all charges, but starts looking into charges of incompetence for Beije. And when they're out of the courtroom, Cain reminds Beije that they still have a duel to fight (Beije having referred to Kasteen as a "petticoat colonel"), so Beije is forced to hastily apologize to her. And finally (assuming he wasn't executed or transferred elsewhere), the Tallarns he was with have started a splinter cult worshipping Cain as the Emperor's will made manifest.
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Shrug of God
 Ciaphas Cain / int_89204ffb
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Shrug of God: Sandy Mitchell says he doesn't know whether Cain is the Dirty Coward he claims to be, or is selling himself short.
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Buxom Is Better
 Ciaphas Cain / int_89295a38
comment
Buxom Is Better: Evidently, the Warhammer 40000 universe as told by Sandy Mitchell. Considering the main game has few women that aren't evil, monstrous succubi, or generally (facially) unattractive nuns, some might gain a new appreciation for the setting after reading his novels.
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Adaptation Decay
 Ciaphas Cain / int_896459e2
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Everybody loves Cain and makes sculptures and whatnot dedicated to him, always wildly inaccurate. Cain hates the very existence of such art.
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Back from the Dead
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8967e17f
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Back from the Dead: Emeli.
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Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8ad43dc9
comment
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The penal squad in the first book. Not to mention the rest of the 597th Valhallan, at least at first. As well as Cain's Liberators from Death or Glory, who start out as just a squad of PDF and a few dozen civilians and end up with a few hundred troops and everything a mobile army needs but air support. Perhaps the most impressive is Vail's retinue in Duty Calls. Faced with a food vendor who had stumbled into some knowledge of the Inquisition—and picked up a gun when cornered by a Genestealer cult—Vail hires her. Others include a former commissar/member of a penal regiment, and a former arbite who had, while undercover, imploded a criminal organization with a judicious murder and frame.
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There Is No Kill Like Overkill
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8b606a51
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There Is No Kill Like Overkill: At one point in The Traitor's Hand, a World Eater Chaos Marine gets killed "with satisfying thoroughness" by two krak missiles and a lascannon blast, any individual one of which would be enough on its ownnote In the game, a single Krak Missile can cause instant death to any Space Marine character, as it's normally an anti-tank weapon. Same goes for the Lascannon. They effectively made Chunky Salsa of the Chunky Salsa of the berserker..
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Anachronic Order
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8b6e8d7
comment
Anachronic Order: The first three books are in chronological order, the fourth is a prequel, the fifth takes place between books two and three, the sixth takes place in the WH40K universe's "present day" long after the events of the rest (although the last three all focus on his part in a single larger story), the seventh takes place between book four and book one, and the eighth (which notably involves his second campaign on a specific world when the story of his first trip there has yet to be published) takes place after the third, but still half a century before the sixth, the ninth taking place less than a decade before the sixth and the tenth taking place several years after the eighth. The short stories are in equally random order, with two taking place before book four (Including Cain's first act of alleged heroism), one taking place somewhere between books four and seven, one taking place immediately before book seven, and one taking place roughly a decade before book six, and several that have so few reference points that one cannot reliably tell what decade they took place in. In-story, the Cain Archive Amberley is editing the stories from is described by her as "consisting merely of a single dataslate, stuffed full of files arranged with a cavalier disregard for chronology, and to no scheme of indexing that I've been able to determine despite prolonged examination of the contents." Also, the editing and release of Cain's memoirs is done at Vail's sole discretion, such as expanding upon Plot Holes in previous books (Duty Calls was used to resolve a dangling plotline in Death or Glory). If the novels are divided into groups of three (which the Omnibus editions do) each trilogy is in chronological order, with each of the latter two following Cain's (often peripheral) involvement in a single larger plot.
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Our Zombies Are Different
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8ba9512b
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Our Zombies Are Different: They can still talk and think and shoot lasguns, though they believe that loyalists are only following the False-Emperor rather than the "True-Emperor"...
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Big Beautiful Woman
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Big Beautiful Woman: Mira is described as having inherited a slight tendency toward plumpness from her father. She apparently carries that weight quite well.
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Didn't Think This Through
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8d0785d5
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Didn't Think This Through: Cain tells the ringleader of the pro-Tau terrorists he's facing in Traitor's Gambit essentially this; after she gives a long-winded rant about how they plan to use the commandeered yacht in a suicide attack to kill Zyvan and cripple the Imperial forces long enough for the Tau to annex the region, Cain shoots her down by pointing out that even if the terrorists succeed in their half-cocked plan, the chain of command will ensure a new Imperial general takes over and the Tau won't be allowed to gain a foothold. Cain also adds that unlike her comrades, who at least appear to believe in the Greater Good, the woman is nothing but a common thief using the situation to line her own pockets.
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Merciful Minion
 Ciaphas Cain / int_8e07d1b8
comment
Merciful Minion: In the first novel, a riot breaks out on the ship he's assigned to. In the aftermath he can't have anyone executed (since it would destroy morale, and more importantly make him likely to suffer an "accident" on the battlefield) but the captain wants blood (he was in a relationship with one of the military police killed in the riot). So Cain lets the captain hold a tribunal (the defendants of which are found guilty) and sentences them to "death" by transferring them to a penal legion to die in battle. Later on, Cain is press ganged by Amberley into going on a highly dangerous recon along with the most "expendable" soldiers she can find. Guess who she picks.
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Femme Fatale
 Ciaphas Cain / int_90b66e22
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Femme Fatale: Inquisitor Vail, and Colonel Kasteen to a lesser extent. Both are quite beautiful and very capable in combat.
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Laser-Guided Karma
 Ciaphas Cain / int_90e31482
comment
Laser-Guided Karma: Strangely combined with Karma Houdini: Governer Fulcher in Choose Your Enemies is revealed to the be the head of Slaanesh cult attempting to summon a daemon with gathered Eldar soulstones. While his death by Emeli who used his body and other cultists to form her own daemonic body is Laser-Guided Karma, his posthumous reputation is Karma Houdini, because the Inquisition's policy of covering up Chaos incursion means that they tell everyone that Fulcher is responsible for killing the Eldar leader with nukes in his orbital estate, thus driving the Eldar off. This is despite 1: it's Amberly's doing in order to cleanse Chaos taint, 2: The Eldar agreed to leave peacefully after Emeli's banished, and 3: Fulcher is responsible for nearly turning the planet into Daemon World.
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Children Are Innocent
 Ciaphas Cain / int_91672d3e
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Children Are Innocent: Even Cain is horrified in Duty Calls by the realization that Killian abandoned children to a Tyranid attack. To a different degree of "innocent", given the setting: Amberley recalls a book from her childhood where she always liked the pictures of burning heretics, and children are taught songs like this: A more conventional example in the aftermath of the fighting in Fidelis in The Emperor's Finest. As Cain and Jurgen head to the starport they pass a group of kids playing in the rubble of a wrecked building, who only break from their game to wave and squee at their passing Salamander.
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Apocalypse Wow
 Ciaphas Cain / int_91e8cd03
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Apocalypse Wow: Cain's Necron tomb-killing promethium bomb in Caves of Ice is powerful enough to launch debris into orbit, where it buffets his fleeing troop ship. That would probably manage to squeak onto the Class 0 minimum requirements were the planet reasonably civilized beyond the sole refinery (which was consumed in the blast entirely).
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The Squadette
 Ciaphas Cain / int_93311f8e
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The Squadette: The Valhallan 597th regiment Cain finds himself working with in the novels contains remnants from the all-female Valhallan 296th.
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Magic Feather
 Ciaphas Cain / int_93a38c9b
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Magic Feather: Cain credits his augmetic fingers for his excellent pistol aim, but Inquisitor Vail points out that most people with them lose ability with their hands. She suspects the real reason is all the time he spent training with a Space Marine right after getting them.
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Your Favorite
 Ciaphas Cain / int_94721d54
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Your Favorite: At the end of Caves of Ice, Cain has spent the last several days helping Amberley deal with the aftermath of his discovery, and destruction, of the Necron tomb. The last night before he leaves, he takes the liberty of ordering food, because she's been busy; he gets her ackenberry sorbet, which he indicated "hadn't been hard to remember" was one of her favorite foods. (Amberley, editing as usual, puts an abrupt end to Cain's narrative at this point, because though she admits that Cain continues for several more paragraphs, "it only covers personal matters of no interest to anyone else.")
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Working for a Body Upgrade
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9515716
comment
Working for a Body Upgrade: A large chunk of The Greater Good is set on a heavily-polluted forgeworld. "The Tithe Worker's Survival Guide" discusses the need for body augmentation to survive work on the surface (which pays better) and suggests workers talk to their supervisors about the procedure to repay the cost of those augmetics.
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Leeroy Jenkins
 Ciaphas Cain / int_95265081
comment
Leeroy Jenkins: Cain considers Lt. Sulla to be one, worried that in her eagerness to smite the enemies of the God-Emperor she is going to get herself and (more importantly) Cain killed. He also holds this opinion about Sisters of Battle, considering them so fanatical as to be unreliable at holding to a plan, saying the best you can do is point at the enemy, yell "Heretic!", and let them do their thing. In Duty Calls, Amberley's footnote to one such remark notes that though Sulla's platoons tend to have slightly higher casualty rates, they have even higher morale, because they get results. The Nusquam 1st (and the PDF they recruited from) were a entire regiment of these. This green regiment and their equally green Commissar considered the more effective tactics used by the Valhallan 597th to be acts of cowardice, ignoring Col. Kasteen's pointing out that the Valhallans were doing twice as much damage as the Nusquams while taking only a third as many casualties. They wised up eventually.
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God-Emperor
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9620c3a1
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Cain considers Lt. Sulla to be one, worried that in her eagerness to smite the enemies of the God-Emperor she is going to get herself and (more importantly) Cain killed. He also holds this opinion about Sisters of Battle, considering them so fanatical as to be unreliable at holding to a plan, saying the best you can do is point at the enemy, yell "Heretic!", and let them do their thing. In Duty Calls, Amberley's footnote to one such remark notes that though Sulla's platoons tend to have slightly higher casualty rates, they have even higher morale, because they get results.
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Pardon My Klingon
 Ciaphas Cain / int_973291cd
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People's tendency to swear a lot, especially Cain. One such instance in The Greater Good has him thinking that if he is about to die, that at least it would be among friends and that he should say something heroic. All he manages is yell "Frak off!" to a Tyranid.
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Tanks, but No Tanks
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Tanks, but No Tanks: In Duty Calls, A news report claims Cain used a tank to stop what was essentially the Hindenburg carrying an awful lot of promethium from crashing into a city. In reality, he used a Chimera (an APC). However, the Chimera's multi-role design and the Imperial Guard using slight variants on the same chassis for every common tracked vehicle in their arsenal muddies the issue a bit. In the game an APC is considered a tank, which gives them the very ability he used.
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Bug War
 Ciaphas Cain / int_97b5e1f9
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Bug War: For the Emperor, Duty Calls, The Last Ditch and the short stories Fight or Flight and Sector Thirteen are all campaigns against Tyranids and/or their Genestealer infiltrators. Cain's Last Stand starts with fighting against Tyranids. The Greater Good features them as a Greater-Scope Villain.
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Living Gasbag
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comment
Living Gasbag: An offhand remark in Death or Glorynote right after Cain managed to get himself and Jurgen ejected from their troopship in an Escape Pod mentions skywhales, which the accompanying footnote explains as a creature from Blease's World that lives on airborne pollen and produces hydrogen gas as a byproduct of its metabolism. The creatures are quite placid and the planet's human inhabitants have domesticated several subspecies to turn them into Zeppelins from Another World.
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Let Me Get This Straight...
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Let Me Get This Straight...: Cain invokes the spirit of this trope in For The Emperor, while counting the cost of the riot between the 296th and the 301st.
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Better to Die than Be Killed
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Better to Die than Be Killed: Commissar Donal.
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Not So Different
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Not So Different: It's surprising how close Cain and Vail are—both are apparently (by their own words) high ranking exceptions to the stereotypical, fanatical commissars and inquisitors who appear to care about the people in service to them, but are highly sarcastic in writing, and claim to only be acting heroic to gain benefits (or, in Vail's case, make sure the Empire does its duty). They both share a rather similar dislike for Sulla, as well.
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Cyborg
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Cyborg: A huge amount of humans and Orks have some sort of augmetics, purposes ranging from simply replacing a couple of lost organs and limbsnote Cain has two augmetic fingers for example to full-on conversion into a machine (Mechanicus and servitors).
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Unwitting Instigator of Doom
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It's mentioned in a footnote that the 12th Artillery, who Cain was stationed with in the short story that began the series (where he met Jurgen), was among the troops sent in. The question of whether Cain made a social call to his "old friends" is a further reference to Major Toren Divas, who Cain would probably rather avoid (thanks to what happened in For The Emperor).
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Industrial World
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Industrial World: Quadravidia is a Forge World depending on the proximity of Imperial fleets dropping by to rearm themselves for its protection. Ciaphas uses this as a bargaining chip to force them to allow a Tau diplomat on the planet: since they clearly don't need the Guard's help in fighting off the approaching Tyranids, they'll find somewhere else to make themselves useful and leave the cogboys to deal with the 'nids themselves.
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Sociopathic Hero
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9ac6b0c1
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Sociopathic Hero: Maxim Sorel, who ends up stabbing a man to death in a brawl simply "because he didn't see any reason not to". Following the court-martial for the above infraction he is sentenced to death by taking on a suicide mission alongside Cain. This does not stop Sorel saving Cain's life and makes him one of two convicts out of the original five who do not go rogue or get subverted by the enemy. Which doesn't leave a lot of options.
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Took a Level in Badass
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Took a Level in Badass: The Planetary Defense Forces on Imperial worlds are often disparagingly referred to as the "Imperial speed bump", a force that hopes it will hold long enough against any attackers for the Imperial Guard, Space Marines, or Sisters of Battle to show up and turn the tide. In Death or Glory, however, when separated from his unit by a mishap with an Escape Pod, Cain and Jurgen form up a convoy of refugees protected mainly by the remnants of destroyed PDF units, including a lone Leman Russ main battle tank and Earthshaker self-propelled howitzer, and leads them for months on a successful fighting retreat to Imperial lines.
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Kill It with Fire
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9c1f758a
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Kill It with Fire: The Salamander Cain often travels in is frequently equipped with a flamer, and it gets used frequently. at the end of Caves of Ice, several million gallons of promethium are ignited to stop a Necron assault.
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Stay in the Kitchen
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9cbf01d6
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Stay in the Kitchen: In the first book, this is the attitude the male soldiers of the pre-597th amalgamated regiment have to their female counterparts after the two regiments have been merged. Even Broklaw has this attitude towards Kasteen (at least partly because he resents her being promoted above him on a technicality). Cain naturally spends the first act resolving this. The female members of the 597th, including their Colonel, get this from a Tallarn regiment in The Traitor's Hand. It gets gender-inverted in The Last Ditch when the matriarchal locals are extremely matronizing to the male officers; even Cain has a hard time being taken seriously, and the Governor makes several comments suggesting he and Major Broklaw are just there as Colonel Kasteen's eye candy.
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Upper-Class Twit
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Upper-Class Twit: Cain's opinion of nobility in general and planetary governors in particular. It's played with throughout the series, but especially with Mira in The Emperor's Finest; while she's certainly arrogant, pushy, dense, and condescending, she's also capable of handling herself in a firefight, among other things.
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Unwanted False Faith
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Unwanted False Faith: Cain never found out, but one of the Tallarn witnesses to a battle where he beat down a Greater Daemon wrote a book about the experience and started a minor branch of the Imperial faith that worships him as a physical manifestation of the Emperor's will. Please note those words- "Minor Branch," and not "Heretical Cult." This group was supported by the official religion of the Imperium.
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Hand Cannon
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Hand Cannon: Cain deconstructs the usefulness of the Bolt pistol in The Last Ditch, noting that it uses physical rounds which can be eaten up fairly quickly, while the laspistol he favors can be recharged and by pretty much any means. In addition, he points out that its appeal among Commissars is mostly due to it being loud and flashy. In a footnote, Amberley says that this partly why Orks are attracted to Bolters, but she also notes that a Commissar would take offense to being compared to an Ork.
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Foreshadowing
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9d12bbc1
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Foreshadowing: In The Emperor's Finest, the assembled military leaders of the Serendipita system discuss possible threats related to the joint Astartes/Mechanicus expedition to a genestealer-infested space hulk taking place in their space. They agree that the Astartes themselves are probably safe, but a.) the Mechanicus tend to be way too crazy about the prospect of archeotech to take proper precautions, and b.) the Astartes salvage crew also includes a large number of chapter serfs which are entirely human. The Greater Good, set 60 years later, reveals that they were right to be worried on both counts.
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Official Presidential Transport
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9d473705
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Official Presidential Transport: In Traitor's Gambit, the Planetary Governor of Deepwater travels in his official space yacht, the Wavecrest.
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Continuity Nod
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Continuity Nod: A couple to Gaunt's Ghosts: A small blink-and-you'll-miss-it one in Duty Calls. When riding in a limousine, Cain notices a small cabinet made of naalwood, and comments that it was probably worth more than the aircraft he rode in on. This is because naalwood only comes from the planet Tanith, which was destroyed by Chaos half a millennia previously, and so is very rare and very expensive. There is an earlier nod in one of Vail's footnotes. In response to Cain making a comment about how he always gets command of ad hoc units on special duty, she comments that giving commissars command of special task forces is common practice, referencing one commissar who commanded a regiment for some years, though he was given the dual rank of Colonel to ease the paperwork. Commissar Forres hastily retracts an accusation of cowardice in The Last Ditch after she learned that the last time a Commissar insulted Colonel Kasteen, Cain challenged said Commissar to a duel. This was Tomas Beije, towards the end of The Traitor's Hand. The Greater Good has several; Cain mentions adjusting his hat to a "suitably heroic angle". He was shown how to do this by Mira in The Emperor's Finest. The plot is also set off by the Tau remembering him favourably from the events of For the Emperor. It's mentioned in a footnote that the 12th Artillery, who Cain was stationed with in the short story that began the series (where he met Jurgen), was among the troops sent in. The question of whether Cain made a social call to his "old friends" is a further reference to Major Toren Divas, who Cain would probably rather avoid (thanks to what happened in For The Emperor).
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UnPerson
 Ciaphas Cain / int_9ebd9c33
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Jenit Sulla gets around a cabal of them in The Last Ditch, among other things pressing back into service a small flotilla of shuttles that had been erroneously declared destroyed (to the relief of the crews, who had become Un-person) via her authority as an Imperial Guard officer under a martial law declaration. The situation is fairly absurd even for the setting; the shuttles were earmarked to help the regiment disembark; the ship the regiment was on crashed on arriving at the system; the administratum then declared them lost with the ship, even though they never left the spaceport. They then ordered the ships, which officially didn't exist, to vacate their berths to make room for ships that exist.
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Elite Mooks
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Elite Mooks: The PDF in Cain's Last Stand.
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Draw Aggro
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Draw Aggro: Cain and Jurgen confuse a combat servitor in Death or Glory by alternating shots at the thing. Each time it targets one of them, the other attacks and the servitor's targeting systems reset onto the new threat.
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Imposter Forgot One Detail
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Imposter Forgot One Detail: In "The Little Things", Cain realizes that the man bringing room service to Amberley's room isn't really a hotel employee when he notices that the man's uniform didn't fit, when every other employee of the hotel he'd seen was wearing perfectly tailored outfits.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a0b0840c
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More Expendable Than You
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a0b0840c
comment
More Expendable Than You: Cain's professed motivation in his very first adventure. Also inverted in that Cain's true intentions were exactly the opposite. Brought up in The Traitor's Hand, when Cain claims that the Imperium needs its generals but can always get another commissar. Zyvan disagrees: "Not like you, Ciaphas," a comment which genuinely surprises Cain. Similarly, in Duty Calls Cain expresses surprise that a psyker tried to assassinate him rather than Zyvan or the planetary Arbites chief. Amberley notes he doesn't seem to realize he's so popular with the Imperial Guard that his death would seriously damage morale. Another example is partially acknowledged by Amberley. Cain is extremely useful as an asset to the Imperium as a whole but competent heroes (whether or not their reputation is deserved) aren't especially rare. Ironically, Jurgen, as a blank, is far more rare and valuable (at least, to the Inquisition).
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a148f27b
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Living Legend
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a148f27b
comment
Living Legend: Cain really wishes he weren't (at least not the "legend" bit).
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Samus Is a Girl
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a18d407b
comment
Samus Is a Girl: Inquisitor Vail gets to pull one on Cain in Duty Calls.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a18d407b
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1b0c1c2
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Revealing Cover-Up
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1b0c1c2
comment
Revealing Cover-Up: In Duty Calls. In The Smallest Details, an attempt to kill Jurgen to prevent him from reporting the existence of a black marketing scheme (which he figured out was happening because the records were so scrupulously accurate) to the Commissariat resulted in it being discovered by the provosts. Jurgen actually had no intention of reporting the stolen goods; he didn't think that it was serious enough to be worth Cain's time.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1b141f4
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My God, What Have I Done?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1b141f4
comment
My God, What Have I Done?: The brainwashed Battle Sisters have a terminal instance of this once Varan's hold on them is broken and they realize that they were bodyguards to a Chaos agent.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1d70162
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I Just Shot Marvin in the Face
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a1d70162
comment
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In The Last Ditch, "Jinxie" Penlan accidentally discharges her lasgun while using its buttstock to try to unjam another weapon. Fortunately it hits an Ork (which then crashes its flier into the middle of a swarm of Orks), so it works out for her in her typical fashion.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_a1d70162
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a448674
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Gratuitous Latin
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a448674
comment
Gratuitous Latin: Shows up near the end of Caves of Ice. Cain and the tech-priest Logash are about to flood the mines with promethium. Important background note: Logash's superior Ernulph led a group of tech-priests into the mines a couple chapters ago to worship the Machine God in the middle of the Necron tomb, and Logash was the only survivor of that bit of idiocy.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a679184b
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Due to the Dead
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a679184b
comment
Due to the Dead: In Caves of Ice, when they have to burn a body to keep the Orks from realizing they're there, even Cain seems perturbed by it.
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Hollywood Tactics
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a6b14ee1
comment
Hollywood Tactics: The fresh-out-of-the-schola Commissar Forres seems more concerned with driving troops to show their valor and be willing to sacrifice themselves for the Emperor than actual efficient strategy. Kasteen calls her out on this, pointing out that using actual tactics tends to result in higher damage inflicted on the enemy while incurring fewer casualties, which in the long run counts more than just trying to show off one's courage.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7078cb5
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Bullethole Door
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7078cb5
comment
Bullethole Door: Jurgen's melta (a weapon designed to shoot through armored tanks) comes in handy for these.
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7078cb5
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7544a0f
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Beneath the Earth
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7544a0f
comment
Beneath the Earth: Cain often ends up in these types of environments. He's also the perfect man for the job with his "tunnel senses," much to his discomfort. Amberley notes that while he often claims to be from a Hive World, she can't find any record of such a thing. Of course, this being the Imperium of "lose a planet because of rounding errors," that's not so far-fetched.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a76d6304
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Data Pad
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a76d6304
comment
Data Pad: Frequent mention of dataslates is made throughout the books. In particular, Cain occasionally sees Jurgen looking at a porno slate, and according to Amberley, the entire "Cain Archive" was him putting all his adventures onto a single dataslate.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7aef9ff
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Obfuscating Stupidity
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a7aef9ff
comment
Also subverted in Cain's Last Stand with Bursar Brasker, who's also been using Obfuscating Stupidity "to conform to other people's expectations" and turns out to be something of a kindred spirit to Cain.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a839608e
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Trapped Behind Enemy Lines
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a839608e
comment
Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The plot of Death Or Glory.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a8dcb1d7
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Love at First Sight
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a8dcb1d7
comment
Love at First Sight: Cain explicitly denies believing it before admitting that he can, decades later, remember every detail of the first time he saw Amberley Vail.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_a9b10a62
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Think Nothing of It
 Ciaphas Cain / int_a9b10a62
comment
Think Nothing of It: Cain disclaims his own heroism, frequently, being aware that it will add the charm of modesty to his legend, and occasionally in an unsuccessful attempt to let him get by them and do something else. Sometimes, he is actually annoyed that Jurgen gets none of the credit he deserves, with all of it going to Cain.
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Mega Neko
 Ciaphas Cain / int_aa92a5d2
comment
Mega Neko: An offhand comment from Cain in The Emperor's Finest reveals that some Guard regiments use cats as attack animals and cavalry.
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Deliberate Values Dissonance
 Ciaphas Cain / int_aabe2fb
comment
Deliberate Values Dissonance: The xenophobia and authoritarianism of the Imperium are on full display, though Sandy Mitchell tends to use it for Black Comedy instead of plain grimdark. Now and again, especially when Cain is up against the Tau. Apparently, egalitarianism and open-mindedness freak him out, as you would expect from an Imperial citizen. From the same book, he also seems approving when the Arbites show up to beat the crap out of a handful of troublesome but otherwise peaceful pro-Tau humans. While subtle, there are a few casual lines thrown in that shows Cain has the typical xenophobic view of the Tau expected from most Imperials. Relatively speaking, he is still very tolerant of them, which can largely be attributed to professional respect and the overall lack of instances where the Tau have actively tried to kill him. Granted, as a well connected Commissar, he might also be privy to the knowledge that the Greater Good is not nice, which could also influence his views of them. Another example in Cain's Last Stand: glancing around the Schola grounds, Cain notes a black-painted truck bearing a load of prisoners for interrogation, execution and live-fire exercises, decides all is well and gets back to work. There's also the line about looking forward to a brisk round of target practice against unarmed demonstrators, but that one was probably a joke. He mentions organizing firing squads very casually as part of his duties in one of the short stories. Cain also appears to believe wholeheartedly in machine spirits and the rituals of the Mechanicus, although he doesn't care much for individual techpriests most of the time. (Given the two Necron tombs they hacked off while he was around that we know of, it's hard to blame him.) Finding a stolen Imperial-made gun mounted on an orkish buggy, he wonders if it will still work now that its spirit "has been corrupted by being forced into servitude". When it does, he reckons it's because it remains loyal to the Emperor. In the same book he makes a big deal about the courage and self-sacrifice of an escape pod's auto-pilot computer. He's quite put off by the secular way the Tau and their loyalists use their machinery, and wonders why the machine-spirits of the Tau don't simply stop working "out of sheer pique." In Cain's Last Stand, he sees that the Chaos forces are using Imperial wargear with Chaos runes daubed over the aquilae. He immediately decides that it will be too dangerous to ever put those weapons back into Imperial hands because they've effectively converted to Chaos, and orders them destroyed. Amberley Vail usually comes across as a fairly reasonable, likeable person. And then she mentions, in Caves of Ice, how she can never hold back a smile when looking at the amusing expressions on the faces of heretics being burned alive in a book from her childhood. She also seems quite pleased (enough to unsettle Cain) in For The Emperor when the Tau seem unaware that their wounded troopers they've just rescued are probably infected by Genestealers, and shows no inclination to warn them. In The Greater Good, when the Mechanicus finally comes clean about their Genestealer breeding/research program, one character at the conference points out that all the original implantees were male. Female prisoners scheduled for conversion to servitors were turned over to the implanted men so more hybrids could be produced, it's implied via rape. Though uncomfortable at the measures taken to study the Genestealers none of the Imperials at the table have any real problem with this although a visiting Tau diplomat is clearly appalled. Then there's the nursery rhyme, "The tracks on the Land Raider crush the heretics, crush the heretics, crush the heretics..."
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Unexpected Successor
 Ciaphas Cain / int_aaff69d0
comment
Unexpected Successor: The planetary governor in Old Soldiers Never Die was a journalist descended from a branch of the ruling family that had renounced any direct involvement with politics. After the various abuses of the main branch caused a civil uprising that required the intervention of the Guard to restore order, they put him in charge because he was the one member of the ruling house that had nothing to do with the mess they had to clean up.
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Modesty Towel
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ab1064b3
comment
Modesty Towel: Subverted in "The Little Things". The meat of the story takes place within the first couple of minutes after Amberley gets out of the shower, and she greets Cain wearing only a towel. However, she has to use the towel as a weapon to stop one of the kidnappers from shooting Cain.
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Dramatic Irony
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ab5eea65
comment
Dramatic Irony: The sorceress Emili sees the core of indulgent self-interest and potential for greatness in young Cain's heart and tries to convert him to worshipping Slaanesh, returning later as a classic Woman Scorned when he rejects her advances. He never figured this out, thinking he was just meant to be a sacrifice and that her later attention was just sour grapes because he won.
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Clean Cut
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ab6e01e
comment
Clean Cut: In Duty Calls, Cain manages to score one of these on an assassin using his chainsword.
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Robo Speak
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ab940e63
comment
Robo Speak: Lampshaded in Cain's Last Stand, where he actually uses a trio of combat servitors' tendency to repeat their directives out loud to track their locations.
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Corrupt Quartermaster
 Ciaphas Cain / int_abb15066
comment
Corrupt Quartermaster: In "The Smallest Detail", Jurgen and a local investigator catch a quartermaster who's selling food and weapons on the black market and fudging the records to hide this. Jurgen was content to ignore it, considering it harmless and so common as to be unremarkable, until the quartermaster panicked and tried to have him killed.
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Oh, Crap!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ad1db87c
comment
Oh, Crap!: Cain gets into this situation early in The Greater Good when on the losing side of a conflict with the Tau, separated from friendly forces, his salamander wrecked, Jurgen wounded, and surrounded by a team of closing Crisis Battlesuits with only his laspistol and no cover to hide behind, and he realizes that there is no way he is getting out of this one. Turns out that the Tau just wanted to ask him specifically to use his influence to get the beleaguered Imperial forces to agree to a cease-fire. Cain gets this bad in Caves of Ice while trying to advocate evacuating Simia Orichalcae and calling in a naval flotilla to wipe out the Necron tomb they found below the surface. The chief Mechanicus representative points out that even if they call in an orbital strike, it will take months for the flotilla to arrive, by which time the Necrons could be long gone. Kasteen and Broklaw agree that they have to destroy the warp portal inside the tomb to prevent that before they evacuate, and Cain, being one of only a handful who knows the tomb's location, grimly realises who's going to have to lead the demolition team back down there. In terms of affairs for the Imperium, the end of The Last Ditch provides one: based on Cain's findings on Nusquan, Amberly deduces that the Tyranids he encountered on that world had been in hibernation for over a thousand years, making them far older than either the Imperium's official first contact with the Tyranids or early encounters recorded by the Inquisition, suggesting that not only could the Tyranids have penetrated further into the galaxy than previously feared, other worlds in the Imperium could also have similar Tyranid presences in hibernation unbeknowst to them, the aliens simply waiting for others of their kind to awaken them.
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Emergency Authority
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ad331757
comment
Emergency Authority: The Imperium being what it is, the 597th often has to declare martial law in order to get the bureaucrats out of the way (typically because Cain is empowered to shoot them if they don't).
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I Can Still Fight!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ae087674
comment
I Can Still Fight!: Used by Cain after he suffers any apparent injury. Though subverted, because he knows that it will trigger admiration and sympathy in others, who will encourage him to take it easy for a while, which he will grudgingly go along with while inwardly reflecting that he just manipulated them into letting him stay out of danger without losing face. Of course, these novels being what they are, the universe contrives to put him in even more danger anyway.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_ae2b8366
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Possessing a Dead Body
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ae2b8366
comment
Possessing a Dead Body: The first step in creating a daemonhost appears to be providing a dead body for the daemon to move in to. In "The Beguiling", a Slaaneshi cult goes the Human Sacrifice route; in The Last Ditch a daemon possesses a servitor instead of one of the living crew members on the bridge. The Traitor's Hand strongly implies that Emeli sucked the souls out of her cultists before she could refashion their bodies into a suitable form for her.
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Deadpan Snarker
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ae3d6438
comment
Deadpan Snarker: Cain, in his comments on other characters. Amberley frequently does this in her footnotes and in her comments about some of the non-Cain texts she inserts pages from.
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Luck-Based Search Technique
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ae5ab58b
comment
Luck-Based Search Technique: Most of Cain's most pivotal discoveries are made when he tries to run away from something else. Another notable practitioner of this is "Jinxie" Penlan, who discovered an ambull tunnel in The Caves of Ice by falling through the floor into it and once triggered a landmine by throwing away an empty food tin.
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Phobia
 Ciaphas Cain / int_aee65648
comment
Phobia: Not a phobia, per se, but Cain is utterly terrified of Necrons, and absolutely will not confront them unless there is no other choice available (see Badass Decay in the YMMV tab). He also fears the Dark Eldar, often cringing from remembering the time he spent as a prisoner in a Reaver.
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Pillow Pistol
 Ciaphas Cain / int_af54b81d
comment
Pillow Pistol: Amberley says he does this everywhere.
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Bling-Bling-BANG!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_affa0e5d
comment
Bling-Bling-BANG!: Amberley's power armor is gilded so much it looks like it's made entirely of gold from distance.
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Catchphrase
 Ciaphas Cain / int_b01abe4f
comment
Catchphrase: Cain has a few. He enough says that someone did something "neat as you please." Due to his pessimism, he often says, "my earlier assessment of the situation turned out to be an exaggeration and was on the pessimistic side, but not by as much as I would have hoped." He'll often say "the coin dropped" when he puts the pieces together and has a Eureka Moment. If he thinks something is likely, his narration will say "It's credits to carrots."
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Convection Schmonvection
 Ciaphas Cain / int_b0a91b69
comment
Convection Schmonvection: Explicitly invoked and averted. Once Cain claims that a plasma bolt missed by a millimeter. Amberley points out that he would have suffered flash burns that close, so he must have been exaggerating.
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Selective Obliviousness
 Ciaphas Cain / int_b0bce7aa
comment
Selective Obliviousness: Mira, with whom Cain has spent the last few weeks being very close with, brings up with Cain how she is considering returning to her homeworld with a consort who is a heroic champion of the Imperium, discussing how this would be advantageous for her for succession and political reasons. Cain agrees with this assessment, showing support for the idea while completely ignorant that she was talking about him (he thought she was looking to bag a Space Marine), when this is otherwise transparent to the audience. Amberley lampshades Cain's missing this, saying that his experience with women to that point had been more "broad than deep", and he did not yet have much experience with the dynastic considerations of Imperial nobility. Also, he knows he can't simply resign his commission with the Commissariat. If he were to attempt it, they would shoot him, and not even a planetary governor would be able to stop them.
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Cosmic Plaything
 Ciaphas Cain / int_b15b6a35
comment
Cosmic Plaything: Cain repeatedly comments that if the Emperor is actually watching him, He has a sick sense of humor.
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Expospeak
 Ciaphas Cain / int_b15f2cdb
comment
Expospeak: Vail's footnotes frequently serve as this. During a briefing in The Traitor's Hand, Cain gives a concise but informative discussion of the Chaos Gods, focusing on Khorne and Slaanesh as their minions are relevant to the story.
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The Brigadier
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The Brigadier: Lord General Zyvan.
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RetCon
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Retcon: in the first story Cain implied Jurgen had died sometime between his adventures and the writing of the memoirs. In later books, Jurgen was there for Cain's funeral.
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Brains and Brawn
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Brains and Brawn: Played with. Cain is undoubtedly more clever than Jurgen, while Jurgen is much stronger than Cain. However, Cain's such an excellent swordsman that Jurgen can't even compare. Cain is able to best a Chaos Marine (well, more like "barely fend him off while making it look easy", mostly by taunting said Marine) in melee, an Ork Warboss (by shooting him in the face) and loads of pureblood tyranid genestealers (still in a very probable way), which results in Cain actually doing all the melee fighting, while Jurgen dispatches distracted enemies with heavy weaponry. And while Jurgen may be Book Dumb, he's certainly a talented scrounger. Also, Cain is an amazing shot with a laspistol from the hip, while Jurgen is a much better sniper.
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Genki Girl
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Genki Girl: Of all possible people, Magos Felicia Tayber, an Adeptus Mechanius tech-priestess. note The Adeptus Mechanius prefer to rise above emotion—or like to think so—to be more like machines. Whom Cain may or may not have slept with...
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Verbal Judo
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Verbal Judo: In For the Emperor, Cain defuses a riot in progress, when everyone's attention happens to focus on him so that he can't just sneak out, by confusing the participants by suddenly starting to give orders to clean up the mess.
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Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder
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Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: The superiors in this case may be completely innocent, but Colonel Mostrue often seems a bit too quick to call in artillery strikes close to where Cain is stationed during Cain's time with the artillery unit, and also frequently gets Cain sent off into dangerous situations. Cain suspects that Mostrue is aware of the fact that his first great triumph was really just a desperate attempt to get to safety and abandon the battery to its fate, but whatever Mostrue's intentions, his repeated survival of adverse circumstances only adds to the double-edged sword which is his reputation. Of course everyone else in high command does this too, they're just not aware of the fact Cain really would rather they didn't.
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Singing in the Shower
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Singing in the Shower: In "The Little Things", when Cain enters Amberley's hotel room, he can hear her singing in the shower, and hearkens back to when he first met her in her undercover role as, essentially, a nightclub performer.
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Dungeon Bypass
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Dungeon Bypass: Cain is on the receiving end of one of these in The Caves of Ice. Jurgen's melta is frequently used for this.
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Take That!
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comment
Take That!: Governor Merkin W. Pismire the younger's address. Also internally: Vail can't seem to resist taking the occasional stab at the other Inquisitorial Ordos (especially the Ordo Malleus) in the footnotes. In The Traitor's Hand, an overeager young soldier cries "Come on, men! Do you want to live forever?" before charging a tank. Cain, upon hearing this, groans about what a vapid and totally unrealistic cliché it is. He's also amazed when it seems to inspire his companions rather than causing them to run the frak away. The Last Ditch makes fun of the Tyranid Pyrovore aka the worst unit in the game.
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Shadow Archetype
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comment
Shadow Archetype: Lady General Jenit Sulla, to a certain extent. In battle, she's everything Cain is: decisive, (presumably) a deft hand with weapons and charismatic enough to get people to follow her into certain death. Both of them achieve high position and a fair amount of fame. Personally, she's everything Cain is not: selfless, dutiful and loyal. She does from selflessness what Cain does for manipulation. And the best part? He created her. It's just after their first conversation in For The Emperor that she begins her climb towards glory, spurred on by his (fake) confidence in her. And she does it by imitating him. And her rise through the rise through the ranks began when he made an offhand comment that unlike all the platoon leaders of fifth company, she hadn't dropped the ball when forced to take over for her wounded company commander. Colonel Kasteen interpreted this as a recommendation and breveted her to captain. She's also a terrible writer compared to Cain, often going on in excessive prose. Amberley often comments about this to her chagrin.
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Power of Trust
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Power of Trust: In general, Cain seems to be pretty cunning about this: he tries to build up trust with his subordinates because he knows that the more they appreciate him, the less likely they are to leave him hanging in a firefight.
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Hypocritical Humor
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As might be expected from him, Cain takes full advantage of this trope in The Traitor's Hand when he needs to get past a barricaded group of Slaaneshi cultists guarding a Daemon-summoning ritual. By chance a group of Chaos Space Marines in service to Khorne have the same goal and choose this exact moment to show up. Cain decides to hang back and let them break the barricade for him and distract the cultists. Unsurprisingly, Bejie calls him out on this and calls him a coward, to which he calmly suggests Bejie lead the way. Beije doesn't take him up on this offer.
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Blood Knight
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Blood Knight: Lieutenant Sulla is either laudably eager to destroy the enemies of the Emperor, or a borderline Leeroy Jenkins, depending on whom you ask. Cain definitely leans toward the latter view, but her eventual promotion to general officer rank, and more significantly her troops' high morale and confidence in her abilities, suggests that the former is more accurate. And the casualty rates in her units (which are the highest in the regiment) suggest the latter. The units' success rates and correspondingly high morale, meanwhile, suggest the former. Magot, in one instance, led her subordinates into a melee charge at Khornate cultists, And slaughtered them without taking any casualties.
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Emotion Bomb
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Emotion Bomb: A psyker in Duty Calls uses despair, Slaaneshi cultists spread lust around wherever they are, and Necron pariahs are "shrouded in horror"... over and above the reasonable reaction to Necrons, that is.
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Lantern Jaw of Justice
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Lantern Jaw of Justice: Most of the covers have Cain's Commissar Cap obscure the top half of his head, leaving only his Judge Dredd-esque chin to inspire the masses.
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Conspicuous Gloves
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Conspicuous Gloves: Cain wears gloves. Technically they're part of his uniform, but they also serve to hide his prosthetic fingers.
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Royally Screwed Up
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Royally Screwed Up: Cain assumes that this applies to all planetary governors until proven wrong. Going into book ten, roughly half of all planetary governors to be depicted are incompetent, evil, or involuntarily corrupted by Chaos, so he might have a point.
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Preserve Your Gays
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Preserve Your Gays: The implied lesbian couple in Caves of Ice are the only Red Shirts who survive nigh-certain death going through the titular caves as well as a Necron tomb. They do quite well afterward and are recurring minor characters in later books, and it's strongly suggested that it's specifically because of their love for each other that they make it through all of the various horrors they face.
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Fiery Redhead
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Fiery Redhead: Kasteen and Magot.
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It's All About Me
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It's All About Me A repeated gripe about Cain's memoirs from Amberley. Cain is of the opinion that this is the case with Mira. Amberley lampshades the irony of that sentiment.
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I Shall Taunt You
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I Shall Taunt You: Being a Combat Pragmatist, Cain isn't afraid to use this to his advantage if his plans to NOT have the enemy in his face go awry. For example, the amateur-ish assassin that gets sent after Cain in Duty Calls could have killed Cain if he'd just kept his mouth shut, as talking caused his psyker cloak to flicker.
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Knight Templar
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Knight Templar: Inquisitor Killian in Duty Calls is willing to stage a massacre and leave behind innocent civilians (and his own allies) to be massacred by aliens on the ground that what he is protecting is too valuable for the information to get out. Played with in the same book. Certain Battle Sisters refuse to retreat to the line of their defenses because they must serve the Emperor; Cain finally points out that if the Tyranids outflank them, they will be responsible for the massacre of civilians in the Emperor's Temple. This not only persuades them to retreat, it causes one of them to thank him later, for reminding them of their duty, and admit that their zeal had led them astray. Later, this takes on a grimmer note. The sisters realize they have sheltered a renegade inquisitor. Even his deception does not ease their guilt; they realized their zeal had blinded them from seeing the facts. In atonement, they sacrifice their lives to ensure the escape of the Inquisitor who had told them the truth and her party.
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Precision F-Strike
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Precision F-Strike: Lord General Zyvan telling the Administratum people that if they aren't happy with his decisions they can bitch about it to the Tyranids. In-Universe, "scumsucker" is apparently a very serious insult, at least in the hive Cain (may or may not) be from.
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Subverted
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Subverted in The Last Ditch. After the gang learns of the Tyranid presence, Amberley Vail pulls strings to get a Space Marine strike cruiser to Nusquam Fundimentibus. Cain wins the battle before the Bone Knives get there; the best they can do is collect him and Jurgen from the planet surface.
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Realpolitik
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Realpolitik: The Tau justification for partially occupying the planet in For The Emperor is the protection of their trading interests. Cain doesn't buy it, as the Imperium has used a similar justification to gain a foothold before taking over. Of course, it's his job to shoot anyone rude enough to point this out. Also, he's told that the Imperium are desperately keen to avoid having to defend Gravalax from outright invasion by the tau, as it would be a drawn-out war of attrition for a largely insignificant backwater, and a drain on resources needed to fight the tyranids and necrons, in contrast to the rhetoric that the Emperor's mighty forces will defend his territory anywhere in the galaxy. The broader background behind The Greater Good is that the Imperium and the Tau have realized they need to work together to defeat the Tyranid hive fleets, but at the same time each is trying to arrange things so that the other power shoulders the brunt of the effort so that they themselves can more easily sweep up whatever's left in the aftermath.
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Improbable Aiming Skills
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Improbable Aiming Skills: Lampshaded and subverted in the first novel, where Vail accuses Cain of "showing off" when he scores a headshot on an enemy Mook with his laspistol. He goes on to reveal that he was aiming for a torso shot and fired right when his target had ducked. However, Vail reveals in a footnote that Cain does possess an uncanny accuracy with a laspistol when firing at long-distance targets. He often attributes this to his augmetic fingers, but no other character with augmetics seems to share this skill. Amberley further addresses Cain's attribution of this to his augmetic fingers in a footnote, pointing out that the shaking is caused by heartbeat rather than the fingers themselves. She conjectures that his belief that his augmetic fingers give him better weapon handling is more psychological than physical. Of course, shortly after getting those fingers he did most of his laspistol practicing in an Astartes training chapel, a rare honor which had a strong positive effect on his self-confidence. In The Emperor's Finest he has Jurgen take a shot at a fuel tank which was too far for him to hit himself. Jurgen has to try a few times, but then it's revealed he actually aimed for (and hit!) the much smaller release valve, having assumed that was what Cain meant.
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Impossible Task
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Impossible Task: As others have pointed out, Cain's Last Stand shows that Cain has reached a state almost mythically impossible in the 40K universe: he reaches retirement. Cain will have you know that this has been his objective all these years.
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Sniping the Cockpit
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Sniping the Cockpit: Noted as an effective tactic against Ork flyers in The Last Ditch, especially since said fliers had no canopies to protect the pilots.
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The Neidermeyer
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The Neidermeyer: Assidiously averted by Cain to avoid Unfriendly Fire; played to the hilt by Beije. Notably, however, Beije only adheres to the strict religious protocols of his office. He's never seen abusing his troops, his Colonel respects him, and he keeps up with the men in combat well enough. He is simply, in Cain's words, "green-eyed jealous." which is foreshadowing for the story's real villain, who is green-eyed and petty to the extreme, far more so than Beije could ever be.
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Torture Is Ineffective
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Torture Is Ineffective: The aforementioned "humorous results"? Getting spontaneously kissed. By contrast Cain gets a captured smuggler to talk with a simple Good Cop/Bad Cop routine.
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New Meat
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New Meat: Referred to as "fungs", for FNGs (Frakking New Guys).
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Discredited Meme
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Discredited Meme: In-Universe. During The Traitor's Hand the Khornates Cain is fighting yell, "Blood for the Blood God!" so often that he gets sick of hearing it.
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Sliding Scale of Continuity
 Ciaphas Cain / int_bf996668
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Sliding Scale of Continuity: The novels are a fusion of level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic) and Anachronic Order, numbered thematically rather than chronologically. The first trilogy tells the story of how Cain became attached to the Valhallan 597th Regiment and their early campaigns. The second covers much more ground time-wise but is tangentially related to the shadowlight, a mysterious pre-humanity artifact discovered on Perlia. The third involves an over-arcing plot revealing a devastating weakness of the Tyranids, though it takes until the third book to bring the plot threads together.
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Rugby Is Slaughter
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Rugby Is Slaughter: Cain was a keen Scrumball player at the Schola Progenium and states that the only team that could regularly beat the Commissarial cadets was the Sisters of Battle cadets—not because they were better players, but because they seemed to be under the impression that the aim of the game was to hospitalise the entire opposing team. Beije never did well at it, possibly because he was enthusiastically tackled by everybody whether or not he had the ball.
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Snowball Fight
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Snowball Fight: With an Ork WAAAGH! due in a day or so, the Valhallans decide to spend their down-time having one. You can't really blame them, since its been a long while since the ice-world soldiers have found themselves in natural snow.
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Fun with Acronyms
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Fun with Acronyms: One of Amberley's footnotes explains the slang term "fungs" as a phonetic pronunciation of FNGs, or "Frakking New Guys". She then says that Cain told her that the Guard uses a lot of TLAs like that. TLAs meaning "Three Letter Abbreviations", which, she's almost certain he was pulling her leg... (He wasn't.)
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Car Fu
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Car Fu: One of Jurgen's specialties. Magot also once ran over a Tyranid Lictor with a Chimera to rescue Cain.
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Irony
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c335b9ec
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Irony: For all his claims to be an abject coward and fraud, Cain actually is very good at his job, if for the wrong reasons. At one point Vail notes that his unorthodox swordsmanship is some of the best in the entire subsector (presumably among regular humans, the books make it quite clear that 'among the finest in the entire Imperium' is still not in the same league as Astartes or heavily augmented humans or aliens). While he was no match for a Space Marine in strength and endurance, he has defeated Ork Warbosses and Chaos Marines in personal combat as well as holding his own against Tyranid leader organisms of various types. In the tabletop game a Lord Commissar, which he explicitly is even if he refuses the title, has a better weapon skill than any other regular human and most Space Marines.
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Boom, Headshot!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c3585f4a
comment
Boom, Headshot!: Maxim Sorel and Jurgen. The former suffers a direct hit, killing him, while the latter receives a glancing hit that merely leaves him comatose for a while.
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Soldiers at the Rear
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c3c0768c
comment
Soldiers at the Rear: Cain wants to be this; he's overtaken by events.
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Hope Spot
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c3c18143
comment
Hope Spot: In For The Emperor the Battle Couple among the Valhallan penal legion have apparently managed to miraculously escape the genestealer horde only somewhat disoriented...only for Cain to immediately execute them, recognizing their disorientation and impossible survival as telltale signs of genestealer implants.
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For Doom the Bell Tolls
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c4286511
comment
For Doom the Bell Tolls: Cain alludes to the Bell of Lost Souls tolling for him. Vail assures the reader that it was just a soldier's figure of speech since he couldn't have expected it to ring for him—then.
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Treachery Cover-Up
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c4c4004a
comment
Treachery Cover Up: One of these is set up at the end of Choose Your Enemies. Cain isn't happy about it, but knows better than to contradict two Inquisitors.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_c4c4004a
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5249c79
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Nice Hat
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5249c79
comment
Nice Hat: As a commissar, he gets a one as part of his uniform.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5474384
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Vow of Celibacy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5474384
comment
Vow of Celibacy: Averted. According to one of Amberley's footnotes in Cain's Last Stand, the Adeptas Sororitas are not actually required to be celibate, but most Sisters don't have many opportunities to take advantage so this trope is a common myth about the service. The footnote in question comments on Cain discovering that Sister Julien, one of his fellow instructors at the schola progenium, is in a relationship with the bursar.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_c5474384
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5a1fb94
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Hologram Projection Imperfection
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5a1fb94
comment
Hologram Projection Imperfection: So common among the Imperium's holographic projectors that Cain rarely bothers to mention it, assuming that the reader already expects that. When he goes to a briefing hosted by the Tau in The Greater Good, he points out that they avert this fairly strongly. He actually finds the high visual fidelity of Tau holograms and their projector's lack of a need for the occasional whack a little distracting.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5b47b36
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Offscreen Moment of Awesome
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c5b47b36
comment
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Several of Cain's Noodle Incidents, like the time he was fighting a Chaos Dreadnought, or charged a daemon with nothing but a rusty bayonet and a vial of holy water, since he obviously survived all of them.
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Mêlée à Trois
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c6695a49
comment
Mêlée à Trois: In Caves of Ice, the Valhallan 597th is deployed to defend a promethium refinery against an ork incursion, only to discover a necron tomb beneath the glaciers that attacks both sides. As might be expected from him, Cain takes full advantage of this trope in The Traitor's Hand when he needs to get past a barricaded group of Slaaneshi cultists guarding a Daemon-summoning ritual. By chance a group of Chaos Space Marines in service to Khorne have the same goal and choose this exact moment to show up. Cain decides to hang back and let them break the barricade for him and distract the cultists. Unsurprisingly, Bejie calls him out on this and calls him a coward, to which he calmly suggests Bejie lead the way. Beije doesn't take him up on this offer. In Cain's Last Stand, Chaos invades Perlia and clashes with the Perlian Defense Force and Cain and his students at the Military Academy. However, Cain becomes suspicious that the Necrons are active in the system as well. The necrons cut their way through the Chaos forces at the last minute, snatch up an artifact from the Imperial position, and then bug out, with the Imperials taking the opportunity to get the upper hand. In Choose Your Enemies, the 597th is deployed to a moon of an ice giant to drive away eldar raiders, who turn out to be from a craftworld hoping to reconquer the system entirely. Worse, they discover a cult of Slaanesh active in the mines, which are linked to a forge world in the heart of the system by the webway. The eldar, who blame themselves for Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll-ing Slaanesh into existence in the first place, pursue their own agenda throughout the book, alternately aiding and hurting the Imperials.
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Heroic Willpower
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c696f3ba
comment
Heroic Willpower: What Cain calls his 'survival instinct' looks uncommonly like this when it enables him to throw off Chaos influences or brings him to his feet with chainsword humming when death seems inevitable.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_c6b8d37a
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Cliffhanger
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c6b8d37a
comment
Cliffhanger: Hidden Depths ends with Amberley and her team escaping a firefight by going through an Eldar webportal, without saying anything about what's on the other side. This is not resolved until YEARS later, in Choose Your Enemies.
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Mini-Mecha
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c72af5a8
comment
Cain gets into this situation early in The Greater Good when on the losing side of a conflict with the Tau, separated from friendly forces, his salamander wrecked, Jurgen wounded, and surrounded by a team of closing Crisis Battlesuits with only his laspistol and no cover to hide behind, and he realizes that there is no way he is getting out of this one. Turns out that the Tau just wanted to ask him specifically to use his influence to get the beleaguered Imperial forces to agree to a cease-fire.
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You're Not My Type
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c737726c
comment
You're Not My Type: In "The Beguiling," Cain uses this as a Bond One-Liner when he shoots a chaos cultist who tried to seduce (and allow a demon to possess) him.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_c9868780
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Playing Possum
 Ciaphas Cain / int_c9868780
comment
Playing Possum: Cain uses a variation (with himself as the bait) in Caves of Ice in order to ambush an Ork advance party and keep them from reporting the Valhallans' landing to the main horde.
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Series Continuity Error
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ca95473c
comment
Series Continuity Error: In the earlier stories an auspex operator sees a large amount of warp portals opening, but is puzzled by the lack of metal, which alerts Cain to the Tyranid presence, since bioships contain no metal. Thing is, Tyranids can't enter the Warp at all (and thank the Emperor for that, otherwise they'd have already eaten the galaxy instead of moving at sub-light speed. However, an entry in the Tyranid Codex does speculate that some Tyranid fleets have entered the warp through things like the Eye of Terror or the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath, which would explain the appearance of Tyranids during the Great Crusade (10k years before the attack of Hive Fleet Behemoth). Still, they don't have conventional warp travel). Though Tyranids do have a bio-ship (the Narvhal) that can create a kind of corridor of folded gravity, allowing Hive Fleets to move at FTL speed (though it's still much slower than Warp travel). What the operator was detecting may have been the bio-ships emerging from this gravity corridor. Cain also tends to not have the best memories about things at times, for a great example of this, see the section where Amberley tries to figure out what type of ship he's on, but the contradicting details make her, an Imperial Inquisitor, throw her hands in the air and say "I give up."
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Taking You with Me
 Ciaphas Cain / int_caf89e54
comment
Taking You with Me: Subverted in-universe. On at least three occasions, Cain orders an Imperial force to lock in on his signal and hit it with every weapon they've got. The person on the other end of the vox always assumes Cain is pulling one of these. Meanwhile, Cain is bugging out at maximum speed. In the audio dramas, he leaves his vox-bead behind to act as a homing beacon, in The Beguiling he gives the artillery just enough time to get the weapon-lock before departing.
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Feed It a Bomb
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cb1f5db5
comment
Feed It a Bomb: In The Last Ditch Cain shoves a krak grenade into a barrel of promethium and tricks a tyranid mawloc into eating it. KABOOM!
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Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cb70651c
comment
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There are several cases that could be just good luck, but that sure look like the Emperor is giving Cain a hand. The most obvious in the end of Cain's Last Stand where a message that Imperial reinforcements are coming, which rallies the defenders and forces the invaders into an ultimately disastrous acceleration of their plans, turns out to be an echo from 60 years ago. While Cain shrugs it off as a coincidence, Vail points out how utterly unlikely the whole thing is. The fact that even Cain had earlier acknowledged that the stakes were high enough to justify the Emperor taking an interest adds fuel to the fire.
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We ARE Struggling Together
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cbdd9a55
comment
We ARE Struggling Together: Invoked by Inquisitor Killian in Duty Calls; when Cain asks why an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor sabotaged a project operated by the Ordo Xenos, Killian explains that while the Inquisition likes to project an image of being united in their struggle against humanity's enemies, in truth, the Ordos are a lot more fractitious and determined to one-up each other behind the scenes. Discovered to be the case in The Greater Good with Tyranids; when the Adeptus Mechanicus in charge of research allow two groups of hormagaunts from different swarms into one area, the two swarms start killing each other instead of working together as the tech-priests expected. Amberly theorises that if the Tyranids ever succeeded in conquering the galaxy, then the swarms would turn on each other until the strongest was left standing.
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Sour Supporter
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cbf9d0fe
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Sour Supporter: Kolfax in Death or Glory.
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Word of God
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cc4b45f6
comment
As noted above, Word of God tells us that not even the author has defined if Cain is really a hero or not. Sometimes he's written Cain as entirely worthy of the title of "Hero of the Imperium", sometimes not.
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Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cc4d190a
comment
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Over the course of the books, Cain defeats several daemons and a few Chaos Space Marines in close combat...with the aid of others, of course. Cain's reputation has gotten such a boost from these feats that the Imperial Guard has even made a drinking song about him kicking Khorne in the balls.
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Redshirt Army
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ccf46587
comment
Red Shirt Army: Played with: the books seem to take delight in never having the escorts' survival — or their total wipeout — taken for granted. Played straight and lampshaded in the short story Echoes of the Tomb where the redshirts were troopers of the Adeptus Mechanicus — and they wore red uniforms. They're even called redshirts by Cain. And, despite cybernetic augmentations and hellguns, they are all slaughtered when the Necrons wake up.
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Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ccffaa84
comment
Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: In The Traitor's Hand, how he stopped Beije from trying to arrest him.
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Space Is Noisy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cd2b8aa3
comment
Space Is Noisy: Mocked in The Greater Good.
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DoubleSubverted
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cd8ca67a
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Double Subverted in Choose Your Enemies where the Planetary Govenor is helpful and effective right up until he is revealed as the Big Bad.
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Lighter and Softer
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ce6555f0
comment
Lighter and Softer: This is a comedy set in the Warhammer 40000 universe. On top of which, Cain himself is a Lighter and Softer version of Harry Flashman IN SPACE!. Whereas Flashman really is a Dirty Coward and all around Jerkass (he raped a woman in the first book), Cain generally comes across much more sympathetically. It's not at all clear that Cain is the craven he bills himself as. On the other hand, Sandy Mitchell is also quite adept using GRIMDARK subtly rather than beating you over the head with it and running into A Million Is a Statistic like certain other 40k authors. As noted here and here (search on "page 111"), in Death or Glory for instance we see the aftermath of an ork attack where civilians were gunned down as they fled. Let no one say that Ciaphas Cain isn't serious or dark. (See also some of the points under Deliberate Values Dissonance above for further support.)
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Cool Teacher
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cf231d54
comment
Cool Teacher: Cain appears to have become one prior to the events of Cain's Last Stand (or at least he claims to be more relaxed, to the irritation of his colleagues). By the time Cain's Last Stand was written though, the latter was forgotten; every named member of the faculty is ultimately shown to be a bit of a Cool Old Guy (or in one case, a Cool Old Nun), at least off duty. Those awesome four are hardly the only teachers in the schola, and Cain does mention that he wouldn't really bother with the rest of the faculty. And even with the above three, he doesn't really give a picture of their teaching styles.
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Nightmare Fuel
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cf4d770
comment
Nightmare Fuel: invoked Cain has three literal sources: Necrons, his time as a prisoner of the Dark Eldar, and Emeli.
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Cassandra Truth
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cf92fea8
comment
Cassandra Truth: Cain does it to himself in Cain's Last Stand, continuously reassuring himself (despite recurring nightmares and overwhelming lack of evidence) that there are no Necrons on Perlia. Guess who shows up at the very end?
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Porn Stash
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cfbbd075
comment
Porn Stash: Jurgen is almost never without at least one "porno slate".
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Lord Error-Prone
 Ciaphas Cain / int_cfe25df6
comment
Lord Error-Prone: Toren Divas, whose well-meaning enthusiasm gets Cain nearly killed at least three times that we know of. Cain sees Sulla as this; she's really not that bad, just way too gung-ho for Cain's tastes.
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Badass Longcoat
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d01cffbc
comment
Badass Longcoat: Like the sash and cap, this is a standard part of Cain's uniform. The 597th Valhallan Regiment, since they're native iceworlders. Cain lampshades the irony of the Valhallans being known so well for their characteristic greatcoats, considering that many of them forgo wearing that part of their uniform most of the time in the field. While such a coat is essential in an arctic environment like their homeworld, most of their deployments are to warmer locations, where such a coat is unnecessary and very uncomfortably hot for the cold-adapted Valhallans.
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An Arm and a Leg
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comment
An Arm and a Leg: Cain does this to the pro-Tau terrorist leader in Traitor's Gambit: when the woman orders him out of the last escape pod at gunpoint, Cain orders Jurgen to shoot her. While she's distracted, Cain shoots her from the hip with a Tau-manufactured plasma pistol he acquired earlier, the force of the blast ripping her gun arm off and more importantly, blasting her back far enough to get the pod shut.
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Footnote Fever
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d05cf3f
comment
Footnote Fever: Each book contains about one footnote per five pages. In the foreword to the first omnibus edition, Sandy Mitchell commented that the typesetters were very glad no other Black Library books had such footnotes. (Incidentally, this is another facet picked up from the Flashman books, which are themselves quite well annotated, although those notes are at the end of each book rather than the bottom of the page.)
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Eureka Moment
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d129e13e
comment
He'll often say "the coin dropped" when he puts the pieces together and has a Eureka Moment.
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That Came Out Wrong
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d1affec1
comment
That Came Out Wrong: In For the Emperor Cain concludes a pre-battle briefing with the line "The harder and faster you go in, the better." This causes Sulla (of all people) to whisper something inaudible to her neighbor (presumably something along the lines of "That's What She Said") and giggle, prompting Cain to glare at her.
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Hobbling the Giant
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d229ed6
comment
Hobbling the Giant: During the final battle in Caves of Ice, Cain spots (presumably necron-caused) battle damage on the ork gargant's left leg and orders all heavy weapons to hit that area. The gargant falls over, squishing large numbers of the attacking orks, and secondary explosions finish it off.
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After-Action Patch-Up
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d2d09ff6
comment
After Action Patchup: Used, notably in The Traitor's Hand to stay out of the line of fire.
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Lampshaded
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It's humorously lampshaded near the beginning of Caves of Ice
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Hoist by His Own Petard
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Hoist by His Own Petard: Beije brings in a squad of Tallarns to bring Cain in on charges of treason, incompetence and cowardice. All it does is let the Tallarns see firsthand exactly why Commissar Ciaphas Cain is a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d39e327f
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What the Hell, Hero?
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d39e327f
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What the Hell, Hero?: Cain gets one of these moments at the end of For The Emperor, when he executes two Guard troopers—the only survivors of a "special mission" other than himself and Inquisitor Vail—without forewarning or explanation. As the rest soon discover—and confirming Cain's unvoiced hunch—the two executed troopers turn out to be carrying Genestealer implants. Cain, despite claiming he's only acting concerned so that the guardsmen don't shoot him dead, is not pleased at this.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d45c0b86
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Refuge in Audacity
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d45c0b86
comment
Refuge in Audacity: Cain uses this sort of logic to justify some of his more apparently "heroic" actions—confronting dangerous threats, while seemingly suicidal at the time, has a much better chance (he claims) of ensuring his survival in the long term than running away and allowing them to grow even more dangerous, not to mention adding to his reputation for heroism. For instance, the time in Death or Glory when he wanted transportation for the PDF squad he intended to use as bodyguards. He had them sneak into the enemy motor park quietly, while he barged in the front gate and started singlehandedly shooting the place up as a distraction (Jurgen was busy starting up the vehicles they'd take). Cain's plan for taking out the big bad in Cain's Last Stand runs on this and I Surrender, Suckers.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d4ba9971
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Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d4ba9971
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Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Cain defuses an argument between the Ordo Xenos and the Adeptus Mechanicus over which side caused the security leak that allowed Chaos agents to learn of the Shadowlight by blaming it on the long-dead rogue Inquisitor Killian. While he claims this was just so he could stop the argument and get people working on solving the problem, the logic he uses in naming his scapegoat is fairly plausible.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d525f857
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Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d525f857
comment
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: And a scale of something that isn't even fictional: one of the few problems with Sandy Mitchell's 40K-verse is that his armies are incredibly small. The Valhallan 597th are around 1000 troopers total, which is not so bad except that if that is the standard, would mean that Cain has defended planets of billions with a force around 5,000 people at the highest. During the events of the fourth novel, for example, he mentions that a few regiments were liberating the entire star system, so perhaps 10,000 soldiers. For comparison, the Grande Armee was around 800 000 soldiers. In later books, the 597th has about 4,000 soldiers, so it's not so bad, but it's still bad. The American military in World War 2 had ten thousand-man regiments, and that was when it had only a thirtieth of the planet's population of 2.5 billion. Especially aggravating because other Valhallan regiments in the fluff have over a MILLION soldiers.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d54b9eb3
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Interservice Rivalry
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d54b9eb3
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Interservice Rivalry: Between the Valhallans and the Tallarns in The Traitor's Hand, of which Cain's rivalry with Commissar Beije is partly a microcosm. The Tallarns are Holier Than Thou male chauvinists from a desert world, the Valhallans are a pragmatic mixed regiment from an ice world. Yeah, they don't get along.
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Ciaphas Cain / int_d54b9eb3
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Rabble Rouser
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d5f31c75
comment
Rabble Rouser: There's a particularly sinister variant in Warmaster Varan, who can instantly (and permanently) convert people to the forces of Chaos just by talking and being within line-of-sight of them. Oh, and it's mentioned he has a holy book that only makes sense to his followers, looks nervous when talking, and has a ridiculous little mustache... The first novel, For The Emperor, features a planet which is on the brink of civil war thanks to tensions between pro-Tau and Imperium loyalist factions. Since neither side wants war to break out, they often have to calm down their own examples. In the end it turns out that Genestealers have been serving this role the entire time to soften the planet up for invasion.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d7472e4f
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Kicked Upstairs
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d7472e4f
comment
Kicked Upstairs: Inverted — Cain wants a nice, quiet job with no real responsibilities that's away from all the action, but he's kept on the front lines because he's too good at his job despite his "best" intentions.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_d7b63718
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Space Cadet Academy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d7b63718
comment
Space Cadet Academy: Cain was taught how to be a commissar at the Schola Progenium, and later goes on to teach at one on Perlia (where he has a rather understandable 100% Heroism Rating after single handedly breaking the back of an Orc invasion there) after retiring.
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Thank the Maker
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Thank the Maker: An unnamed Tech-priest in The Greater Good sees Cain do something impressive and makes the mark of the Cogwheel while exclaiming, "The Omnissiah truly processes your data!"
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Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d9cf40fa
comment
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Cain has tried to pull this on numerous occasions to try and save his own ass. Most of the time it hasn't worked. In his first appearance, his attempts to escape a gargoyle attack on his regiment's position on Desolatia end up with him running smack bang into the main Tyranid attack coming from the flank. Fortunately, he is able to both get back to the regiment and raise the alarm, and manages to cover up his attempt to desert by claiming he suspected what was coming and went to scout the area. In Caves of Ice, upon discovering a dormant Necron tomb on Simia Orichalcae, Cain wastes no time in ordering a complete Imperial evacuation from the planet. While he admits (privately of course) his primary motivation is to save his own skin, Cain does correctly point out that the Necrons in the tomb likely outnumber the Imperials hundreds to one, and if they do wake up, the Imperials will find themselves caught between the Necrons and the Orks already invading the planet, so the best thing to do in the circumstances is get off planet, alert the Inquisition to what they've found and then call in an Imperial Navy flotilla to obliterate the tomb from orbit. It should be noted that this is one of the few times that Cain advises running away without going through the usual rigamarole of "Oh, I just want to get relocated back into the action," but openly states that "No, we don't stand a chance, we're leaving as soon as we can." At the climax of Cain's Last Stand, with their position about to be overrun by Varan's vengeful Chaos horde, matters swiftly go from bad to worse when a force of Necrons teleports in behind the Chaos forces and begin annihilating the heretics. Realising the Necrons fully intend to fight their way through the Chaos lines to the Imperial position, and aware they're in no shape to fight such an enemy, Cain wastes no time in ordering a full evacuation and orders the Mechanicus adepts on site to detonate the facility's self-destruct mechanism. The Imperials succeed in escaping, but the Necrons sabotage the self-destruct and escape with a powerful artefact the site was housing.
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Amazon Brigade
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d9d2c40b
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In Cain's Last Stand, while tutoring his cadets on how to spot heretical infiltrators in Guard regiments, Cain asks a surprise question to the cadet who is paying more attention to the Adepta Sororitas novitiates exercising outside.
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The Cavalry
 Ciaphas Cain / int_d9e9ad7e
comment
The Cavalry: In For the Emperor, the 597th gets stymied trying to break through entrenched traitor PDF units (the 597th are mechanized infantry, meaning they lack heavy armor or artillery to deal with entrenched opponents), but then the Fire Caste security presence at the Tau embassy sends in a unit of Hammerhead Hover Tanks as a Gunship Rescue, which blast a hole in the enemy lines. In Death or Glory, after decapitating the Ork WAAAGH! by killing the warboss but also mightily pissing off the Orks, Cain and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits flee for their lives, hoping to reach Imperial lines before the Orks catch them. Imperial warplanes get there first for a Gunship Rescue. Subverted in The Last Ditch. After the gang learns of the Tyranid presence, Amberley Vail pulls strings to get a Space Marine strike cruiser to Nusquam Fundimentibus. Cain wins the battle before the Bone Knives get there; the best they can do is collect him and Jurgen from the planet surface. A literal example in The Greater Good. Cain's shuttle is shot down by the Tyranids and crash-lands in the wasteland of a forge world. They're nearly overwhelmed by Tyranids before a Death Korps of Krieg horse cavalry company comes to their rescue. The Death Riders themselves later have to get bailed out by a Reclaimers land speeder.
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Fake Ultimate Hero
 Ciaphas Cain / int_da3043c5
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The entire series is about a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM who secretly regards himself as a Dirty Coward whose every action was motivated by self-interest. Whether or not you believe that depends very much on how you interpret his true character.
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Action Girl
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dae5c997
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Action Girl: The women of the 597th Valhallan Regiment, led by Colonel Badass Regina Kasteen, Inquisitor Amberley Vail of the Ordo Xenos, among others.
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BadDreams
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Bad Dreams: Cain is plagued by these; Amberley comments that Cain often awakens in the middle of the night from them.
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Battle Couple
 Ciaphas Cain / int_db39ccfd
comment
Battle Couple: Several examples: Cain and Amberley. Cain and Felicia to a lesser extent. Cain and Mira. Grifen and Magot. Vorhees and Drere, a Mauve Shirt couple from Grifen's squad in the second novel. Velade and Holenbi, Imperial Guardsmen from the first novel. This actually dooms them—the Genestealers infect them, specifically because they're in love. Any offspring would have eventually subverted the regiment and any places the regiment visited generations down, and when Ciaphas finds them showing signs of Genestealer infection, he shoots them.
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Field Promotion
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Field Promotion: Cain hands these out in The Traitor's Hand, Death or Glory, and Cain's Last Stand.
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Red Herring
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dbca2c99
comment
Red Herring: Several throughout the series. Maxim Sorel in For the Emperor for one. Cain thinks the punished soldiers will betray him and he actively fears Sorel. Turns out Sorel is the most loyal of the bunch. He just likes killing people or at least doesn't see any reason not to kill people.
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Contrived Coincidence
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dc579c91
comment
Gunmen in the case of the PVF fighters of Chilinvale in Cain's Last Stand. The village is mentioned to be the closest to the Valley of Daemons in the book. The book spends a long time on the volunteers there (which were Corporal Manrin, Ex-Imperial Trooper Jaq, 361st Coranian, and teenage girl Franka as well as other unnamed volunteers).note The fact the three were named at all was a definite hint. The trope is seemly subverted when the town is brought up again when Inquisitor Makan pretends to be the man in charge of PVF in Chilinvale, note This gave him a plausible excuse to be in the Valley in Daemons in the first place (the Shadowlight was a secret to everybody and people would be asking hard questions if they knew the Inquisition was there). only for Cain to indicate that neither him nor Makan seemed to want to call in those PVF. However, when the battle starts, Manrin just happens to lead the Chilinvale PVF to the battle and just so happens to meet Cain during a stealth mission which just so happens to be to the one transport carrying the now mind-controlled Donal. Which wrapped up not one, but TWO instances of Chekhov's gunmen with one event.
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Gracefully Demoted
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dc664499
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Gracefully Demoted: At the end of the short story "Sector Thirteen", the band of Military Mavericks Cain usually drags out of Arbites custody after overenthusiastic R&R have been promoted for their aid in defending against a genestealer cult. One of them comments that he finds the uniform uncomfortable, Cain reassures him by commenting he'll probably get demoted soon enough, which cheers him up.
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Tidally Locked Planet
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dcac10e4
comment
Tidally Locked Planet: Adumbria in The Traitor's Hand is mostly inhabited in the twilight zone, and its inhabitants have 37 different words for degrees of twilight. (Amberley Vail cites a Fictional Document titled Sablist in Skitterfall whose title derives from this. Witty wordplay to an Adumbrian, nonsensical to an offworlder.) Cain's Valhallan 597th, being ice-worlders, are assigned to the perpetual winter of the night side, while the Tallarn 229th, from a desert world, cover the sunward side.
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Ship Tease
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dcb9c541
comment
Ship Tease: Some of the later interactions between Kasteen and Broklaw seem to indicate that they've taken a liking to each other. Cain Josses any such implication between himself and Kasteen... assuming that he's telling the truth and Cain was the one who actually wrote that bit.
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Chekhov's Gunman
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dcbe8a6e
comment
Chekhov's Gunman: Inquisitor Vail, in the first book, is introduced to Cain incognito at the governor's palace. He doesn't discover her true identity until later in the book. The reader, however, should know who she is since her name and Ordos are revealed in the introduction. Warmaster Varan is first mentioned in The Traitor's Hand in one of the chapter opening quotes, those being his last words. It isn't until Cain's Last Stand that those words are spoken by the man himself, although in a slightly different context than their original use would have the reader believe. Gunmen in the case of the PVF fighters of Chilinvale in Cain's Last Stand. The village is mentioned to be the closest to the Valley of Daemons in the book. The book spends a long time on the volunteers there (which were Corporal Manrin, Ex-Imperial Trooper Jaq, 361st Coranian, and teenage girl Franka as well as other unnamed volunteers).note The fact the three were named at all was a definite hint. The trope is seemly subverted when the town is brought up again when Inquisitor Makan pretends to be the man in charge of PVF in Chilinvale, note This gave him a plausible excuse to be in the Valley in Daemons in the first place (the Shadowlight was a secret to everybody and people would be asking hard questions if they knew the Inquisition was there). only for Cain to indicate that neither him nor Makan seemed to want to call in those PVF. However, when the battle starts, Manrin just happens to lead the Chilinvale PVF to the battle and just so happens to meet Cain during a stealth mission which just so happens to be to the one transport carrying the now mind-controlled Donal. Which wrapped up not one, but TWO instances of Chekhov's gunmen with one event. Inquisitor Malden is quoted on page 47 of the Omnibus: "You'll get more with a kind word and an excruciator than with just a kind word." A psyker named Malden shows up in Traitor's Hand to...extract information from a member of the council of claimants.
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Crushing Handshake
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dd53c52b
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Crushing Handshake: Cain's augmetic fingers have given him the upper hand (ha ha) at least once in regards to this trope.
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Who Writes This Crap?!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dd891949
comment
Who Writes This Crap?!: Ciaphas wonders who comes up with space hulk names on learning he'll help clear out the Spawn of Damnation. Veil clarifies that usually it's the first Inquisitor to find it, and that yes, they do have a touch of the melodramatic when doing so.
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Emergency Refuelling
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ddc6244b
comment
Emergency Refuelling: Cain's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits have rigged a supply depot to explode so the orks can't use it, when a straggler tank that's low on ammo shows up. Against Cain's judgement, the tank crew restock as much as they can and bail before the pursuing orks can catch up, and then the depot explodes.
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Continuity Drift
 Ciaphas Cain / int_de86b894
comment
Continuity Drift: In For The Emperor it is mentioned that Cain has seen Astartes reclaim the geneseed after going back on the Space Hulk. However, in The Emperor's Finest he is far too sick from an emergency teleport to actually go back onto the ship, and in fact starts making efforts to get as far away from the hulk as possible. In For the Emperor Cain mentions that he mopped up the Space Hulk with an Imperial Guard unit which also did not appear in The Emperor's Finest; perhaps he returned, however reluctantly, with some support. Amberley does mention that the "Cain Archives" did need heavy editing, and was essentially a single very long document with events placed wildly out of order from one another. Such discrepencies could have their origins there.
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Male Gaze
 Ciaphas Cain / int_dfb71617
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Male Gaze: It goes with the narration being from Cain's particular perspective. One book had an assassination attempt foiled purely because he was looking the right direction while covertly checking out Colonel Kasteen's behind.
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Slave to PR
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e031b7ef
comment
Slave to PR: (Supposedly) one of the few reasons why Cain doesn't chicken out at the first opportunity is that doing so would cause him to lose his reputation as a Hero of the Imperium, with all the benefits that brings.
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Quickly-Demoted Woman
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e0a86167
comment
Quickly-Demoted Woman: Averted. At the formation of the Valhallan 597th by merging one all-male and one all-female regiment that received crippling losses, the appointment of the female regiment's commander, Kasteen, to overall command does not sit well with the officers of the old male regiment. However, the sticking point is that while Kasteen is technically senior to her male counterpart (because her superiors got themselves killed and needed a field-promoted replacement three days before Broklaw's did), she is still the commander of a garrison regiment, while her counterpart has commanded line infantry in the field, and gender doesn't even come into it. She goes on to acquit herself admirably in the first book and remains the commander of the 597th for many years afterward.
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Absurdly Sharp Claws
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Absurdly Sharp Claws: The tyranids' form the basis of a minor Running Gag/Noodle Incident where the first time in a book that the 'nids are mentioned, Cain invariably flashes back to a time he saw genestealers tear apart Space Marine Terminators like their armor wasn't there. We finally get to see it in The Emperor's Finest.
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Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e154ff08
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Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Subverted in The Traitor's Hand, where the captured Slaaneshi cultists seem to actually be enjoying the treatment.
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Call a Human a
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e16a12cb
comment
Call a Human a "Meatbag": At one point in Caves of Ice, the techpriest Logash (angry at being denied the chance to investigate a Necron tomb) bitterly refers to "Typical meatbag behavior". Given the massive Shout-Out quotient of the series, this is likely a callout to the Trope Codifier. Notably, throughout both the series and 40K in general, regular humans call techpriests "cogboys".
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Has a Type
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e24e15a6
comment
Has a Type: Cain prefers blondes (as he explains to Emeli as he shoots her, before she can mind control and sacrifice him).
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Mile-Long Ship
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e26c3c72
comment
According to Inquisitor Vail, most Imperial Guard commissars operate at a regimental level, but the Imperial Navy has a single man enforcing discipline for a Mile-Long Ship (or possibly several of them), and the PDF often has one commissar for the entire planet. Said individuals often spend their days getting drunk, leaving the men under them blissfully unaware of their existence.
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Explosive Decompression
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e26d8285
comment
Explosive Decompression: Partially averted in Death or Glory. Lampshaded by Inquisitor Vail in a footnote. However, Cain is noted to be holding his breath. This is not the right thing to do if you wind up in hard vacuum, unless you like having severe lung injuries.
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Hard Head
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e280b250
comment
Hard Head: Subverted in Duty Calls, where a minor concussion puts Cain out of commission for three days and enlivens his life with nausea and dizziness after. He plays it up and down according to what looks useful, and other character are anxious to remind him that he does not in fact have a Hard Head.
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Beleaguered Boss
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e2a622a7
comment
Beleaguered Boss: During his years with the Valhallan 12th Artillery Regiment, Cain was forever pulling Guardsmen out of Arbites cells for drunken brawling, indecent behavior and otherwise disturbing the peace. While most commissars wouldn't have hesitated in shooting the lot of them and inspiring discipline through fear, Cain always does his best to limit his discipline to prison, latrine duty and floggings so as to maintain his popularity with the men (as so many martinets end up dying heroic deaths suspiciously far away from the front line, which he notes more than once). As his reputation grows, this has the side effect of the troopers doing their job flawlessly while on duty: no one wants to be the one who disappointed Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium (he cites one man as preferring to take on a Carnifex with a broken chair leg rather than let Cain down). According to Inquisitor Vail, most Imperial Guard commissars operate at a regimental level, but the Imperial Navy has a single man enforcing discipline for a Mile-Long Ship (or possibly several of them), and the PDF often has one commissar for the entire planet. Said individuals often spend their days getting drunk, leaving the men under them blissfully unaware of their existence.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_e2f7ab99
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Assassin Outclassin'
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e2f7ab99
comment
Assassin Outclassin': Cain survives three distinct assassination attempts in Duty Calls.
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Authority Equals Asskicking
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e34ada78
comment
Authority Equals Asskicking: Exploited by Cain in Duty Calls when he realizes that the Battle Sisters are about to be overrun by Tyranids, which would have the effect of causing the entire defensive line to fold. He doesn't know who's in charge, so he picks the group of Sisters that have racked up the highest body count. He chooses correctly, as it turns out.
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Indy Ploy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e35ab565
comment
Indy Ploy: Cain pretty much makes everything up as he goes along, though he does try to plan to avoid getting into firefights and occasionally actually has a plan beyond "Get out alive", even if it rarely actually works out that way.
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Boarding Pod
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e3b72664
comment
Boarding Pod: In The Emperor's Finest Cain and Jurgen have to help repel ork boarders on the Reclaimers Strike Cruiser Revenant, who repeatedly Zerg Rush the ship with these. The Space Marines use their Thunderhawk dropships as a fighter screen but some get through.
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Call-Forward
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e3c36782
comment
Amberley Vail is blonde, but Cain says this before meeting her.
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_e3def52f
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Egopolis
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e3def52f
comment
Egopolis: A town Cain saves in Death or Glory (or more accurately, blows up with an ork army inside) gets rebuilt as "Cainstead." Amberley notes that he found this hilarious.
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Not Quite Dead
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e431c24c
comment
Not Quite Dead: A footnote in one of the books reveals that Cain has been listed as "killed in action" so many times that the Munitorum eventually gave up trying to keep track and decided to keep him on the payroll regardless—even long past his confirmed death and burial with full military honors. And even then they aren't sure he's actually dead. Of course, Vail isn't speaking...
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 Ciaphas Cain / int_e4b69188
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Very Loosely Based on a True Story
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e4b69188
comment
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In-universe there was a TV series called Cain's Heroes about Cain's adventures on Perlia. Cain hated it for a number of reasons, not least for totally ignoring Jurgen's involvement (as is always the case when people write about his adventures In-Universe).
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Five Rounds Rapid
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e4d5e4c0
comment
Five Rounds Rapid: Used word for word in The Traitor's Hand. Also said by Cain himself in For The Emperor when he thought Jurgen's melta would make too big a hole but two hellguns would be just right. Averted in the short story The Beguiling: faced with a daemon, he doesn't bother trying to use a normal gun, instead calling in a full artillery barrage on the location.
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Reconstruction
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e50987a9
comment
Reconstruction: Of the Warhammer 40,000 setting as a whole. The good Imperial leaders are portrayed as pragmatists who care about their troops and work to rein in the excesses of their more zealous compatriots, and there isn't a single Exterminatus called in. It also avoids issues with Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy by humanizing the tragedy of never-ending war, and even finds time to convincingly portray every side as badass, especially the Necrons, of whom Cain is flat-out terrified. It also seems that on "normal" Imperial planets (i.e. ones other than crazy-overpopulated Hive Worlds, super-polluted Forge Worlds, and borderline uninhabitable Death Worlds), citizens enjoy a pretty decent standard of living when there isn't a war going on in the vicinity.
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Cult
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e5411cdf
comment
Cult: There's the usual mess of Chaos cultists. Also, Vail reports a cult that worships Cain as the embodied will of the Emperor and quotes the Book of Cain. Fortunately, Cain never heard of it. Almost certainly picked up from Flashman, where there is a (historically accurate and very funny) scene referencing John Nicholson, a British officer in India in the 1840s who was worshipped as a god by several frontier tribes known as the Nikkulseynites. His response was to flog anyone who mentioned them; Flashman suggests taking up a collection instead.
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Destruction Equals Off-Switch
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e568bf17
comment
Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Jurgen tries to invoke this during The Greater Good. Unfortunately the Mechanicus doesn't believe in this trope, and the door stays locked.
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A Girl in Every Port
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e58a7b9f
comment
A Girl in Every Port: Cain mentions playing around a lot in his early career. He eventually stopped, partly because it kept putting him in danger (e.g. by dating a girl who turned out to be a Chaos cultist, or a stroppy spoilt heiress) and partly because he met the love of his life, Amberly (and since she's an Inquisitor, cheating would definitely put him in danger).
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Percussive Maintenance
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comment
Holograms flicker and require Percussive Maintenance.
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Artistic License – Ships
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e652089c
comment
Artistic License – Ships: Cain describes the Indestructible as an Armageddon-class battlecruiser in the beginning of The Traitor's Hand; a different work quoted in the book calls it a cruiser. This could be for a number of reasons (Armageddons are typically converted Lunar-class cruisers, or Cain's professed lack of interest in the navy). Or "cruiser" could just be short for "battlecruiser". Cain and a few other characters mistakenly thinking that any ship used by Space Marines is called a Battle Barge, as opposed to a distinct class. Cain is amazed at the size of a Space Hulk based on how small the ships he recognizes are in comparison to the whole, comparing it to a small moon. Amberley states that the hulk in question is only 4 or 5 kilometers across in any direction, which she describes as "quite big enough", being so big that an entire fleet anticipates taking months to destroy it. The problem is that in this setting an escort ship is from .8 to 1.5 kilometers long, and a standard cruiser is more than 5 kilometers in length (though this varies by game edition and writer). The hulk is referred to as containing battleships, any one of which would be twice the size as that given for the entire object. The distances and travel times when he explores it indicate an object at least ten times the given size, so this may just be a typo. In The Greater Good, Cain gives a number of details about the ship he was traveling on, each of which implies that Cain was on a totally different class of warship. After a while Amberley gives up on trying to figure out which ship he was on.
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The Load
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e68b72
comment
The Load: Zig-zagged in Caves of Ice with the tech-priest Logash, whose sole contribution is to tell them a little bit about ambulls before just hanging around. Some 70% of Cain's narration about him amounts to "What an annoying man he was" and/or "The mission would have gone smoother if I had thrown him to the Orks/ambulls/Necrons". However, he survived alone far better then any of the soldiers. In fact without him they wouldn't have escaped near the end, or been able to blow up the facility, stopping the Necrons and saving millions of lives.
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Humongous Mecha
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e6f18344
comment
Caves of Ice has the Orks at the start, with the Necrons as the real threat. That is before an Ork Gargant smashes through Necron Monoliths and threatens evacuation zone.
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Mildly Military
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e7c671f3
comment
Mildly Military: To various extents. Most of Cain's actual job description as a commissar consists of maintaining regimental discipline, but he's relatively laid-back about it since he's a decent guy who favors results over ironclad adherence to rules and regs. This especially includes Jurgen, a perpetually stinky and disheveled artilleryman whose surprising competence, literal-mindedness, and being a blank have saved Cain's ass many times. In Cain's Last Stand, though, even Cain rolls his eyes at some PDF fighter pilots who get a little carried away in a target-rich environment and have to be reminded what part of the enemy fleet they're supposed to be attacking. In The Traitor's Hand it becomes a major source of conflict when another Commissar becomes convinced that his more laid-back style is evidence of actual corruption. The man ends up interfering in operations several times as a result, nearly dooming the world they're defending in the process, and ends up bringing Cain before a tribunal on formal charges. Said tribunal calls said commissar an idiot and Cain himself has to call in favors to save the man from the fallout. It's also often mentioned (and shown) that Sentinel pilots have a pretty laissez faire approach to discipline and orders, disobeying the letter of their superiors' messages if they think they have a better idea and speaking rather more informally than is considered proper on official channels. Cain notes that this is endemic to most Sentinel pilots, and cracking down on them to bring them in line would restrict their effectiveness as recon and fast attack specialists; therefore, smart officers (and commissars) tend to look the other way in most cases.
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Borrowed Biometric Bypass
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Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Clearly known to work in-universe; when Cain and his cadets are escaping from the governor's mansion in Cain's Last Stand he puts a lasbolt through the genecode scanner that controls access to the escape tunnel specifically to prevent this.
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O.O.C. Is Serious Business
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O.O.C. Is Serious Business: A seemly minor event, but when Jurgen and Cain find the brain-washed Donal, Jurgen blank abilities start to free him from his mind-control. Jurgen hesitates and sheepishly ask Cain what's going on. He almost never does this even when he is fighting Chaos Space Marines, is in a Necron Tomb, or even when facing daemons. Actually, anyone mind-controlled by Varan is completely changed from Emperor loving citizens to Chaos worshiping fanatics in seconds. It's really quite disturbing.
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Kill It with Water
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e8bb3043
comment
Kill It with Water: In Death or Glory, he takes out a large Ork army by destroying a dam. Averted with Cain referencing a belief that witches have a problem with water. Amberley then notes that this is merely a folktale and has no basis in reality.
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Absolute Cleavage
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e964478a
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Absolute Cleavage: When Mira introduces herself, she is wearing a stylized outfit resembling a garish military uniform that is cut a little too tight around the chest for her endowmentnote  And being the daughter of a planetary governor, it was almost certainly deliberately tailored that way which she resolves by leaving the top several buttons undone. According to Cain, other items of her wardrobe tend toward being low-cut, so this is something of a stylistic theme with her. Rakel tends toward this as well, though with her it's (probably) accidental, the result of her clothing being a couple sizes too small.
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Exact Words
 Ciaphas Cain / int_e9e35e8f
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Exact Words: At the end of Cain's Last Stand, Cain lures Varan to a meeting to discuss "terms of surrender". At the meeting, he announces that it's to discuss the terms on which Varan surrenders. He does it again a few pages later by fulfilling Commissar Donal's final request, killing Varan by putting the boot to his ass.
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Casual Danger Dialog
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ea6fdefb
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Casual Danger Dialog: Kolbe, the Arbites praetor of Adumbria in The Traitor's Hand, calls Cain's commbead in the middle of a Khornate cultist invasion to tell Cain something, then before he can say it, tells Cain to hold on a second.
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The Vamp
 Ciaphas Cain / int_eae41a
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The Vamp: Emeli.
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Big Damn Heroes
 Ciaphas Cain / int_eb81c601
comment
Big Damn Heroes: Cain, Jurgen, and Amberley do this. A lot. Also, Captain Detoi and his troopers pull this off in Traitor's Hand, as do the surviving Reclaimers in The Emperor's Finest (sort of).
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Fire Keeps It Dead
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ecc99ac2
comment
Fire Keeps It Dead: The series references the Imperial practice of burning ork corpses to prevent re-infestation several times. In ''Death or Glory", Cain is rather confused at how insistent Jurgen is that they burn the corpses of the Orks they kill, and the accompanying footnote provides the trope's page quote.
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You Are in Command Now
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ed2bbf8a
comment
You Are in Command Now: Several people in the Valhallan 296th and Valhallan 301st got their ranks in the merged Valhallan 597th this way. Colonel Kasteen and Major Broklaw were the highest-ranking surviving officers of their respective units, Kasteen got the colonelcy based on three days seniority (in other works, Broklaw's superiors took three days longer to be eaten by the tyranids).
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Dwindling Party
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ed68bcc9
comment
Dwindling Party: In For The Emperor, Cain sentences five troublemakers in the nascent 597th to certain death in a penal legion. He ends up having to lead them alongside Amberly Vail into the city's Absurdly Spacious Sewer to get to the bottom of the local conspiracy. One deserts, later trying to off Cain only to get gibbed by Jurgen's meltagun. One takes a bolter round to the ribcage during the ensuing retreat from the 'stealer hordes. One gets His Head A Sploded by the traitorous governor. The final two have to be Mercy Killed by Cain himself after he realizes they've been infected by the Genestealers.
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Oh My Gods!
 Ciaphas Cain / int_edf8db61
comment
Oh My Gods!: Cain occasionally uses "Emperor's Bowels!"; the modern equivalent should be obvious. Felicia Tayber is fond of "Omnissiah's cogs!"
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The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
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comment
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Subverted. Cain is so different from the stereotypical commissar (leading by example [so to speak] rather than fear and intimidation, not being trigger-happy, etc.) that it would seem that he's ineffective at his job, but both Amberley's comments and the actual memoirs indicate that this is anything but true. Cain justifies this in his writings, noting that commissars who do lead via fear and shooting their own men tend to Die Gloriously in Battle (many [hundreds of]) miles from the front lines) more often then not.
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GRIMDARK
 Ciaphas Cain / int_ef0acc4a
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Which makes sense when you realized that the events form the codexes (the main source of Grim Dark) are only the major ones and are often centuries apart.
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Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like
 Ciaphas Cain / int_efbfe117
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Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: The ultra-religious Tallarns, or at least Asmar and Beije in The Traitor's Hand, call it blasphemy that Cain had his dropship land on part of a monastery because he was in a hurry to get there to save them. The part in question was the vegetable garden. Then they don't even help fix it, unlike Cain's troops (having been redeployed already). They are slightly mollified when the Valhallans offer to have the bricks blessed in their names.
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Rare Guns
 Ciaphas Cain / int_f15a53da
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Rare Guns: An in-universe example, in that twin-linked heavy bolters are not the standard turret armament on Chimera armoured transports, multilasers are. Downplayed, however, as forge worlds churn out billions of both, so not that rare. Also, the digital weapon Amberly uses is so rare in the Damocles region that nobody present even knows what it is until she uses it.
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Inevitable Mutual Betrayal
 Ciaphas Cain / int_f1a6c4f8
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Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: The temporary alliance between Cain and a Dark Eldar Succubus in The Devil You Know ends this way, to no one's surprise.
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Emergency Presidential Address
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Emergency Presidential Address: Played with, as the governor's speech is a complete failure (and not even rehearsed; he seemed under the impression it was the rehearsal), demonstrating just how out-of-it the governor is (and with a name like Merkin W. Pismire the Younger, take a wild guess who he's supposed to be...).
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Spider-Sense
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Spider-Sense: Cain's palms itch when his subconscious is realizing something's amiss but it hasn't hit the rest of his brain yet.
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Dangerous Deserter
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Dangerous Deserter: The first book gets some of its tension from whether the penal squad will decide they've got nothing left to lose and become these. Kelp does. No one follows, and he seals his fate when he attacks Cain.
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Mercy Kill
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Velade and Holenbi, Imperial Guardsmen from the first novel. This actually dooms them—the Genestealers infect them, specifically because they're in love. Any offspring would have eventually subverted the regiment and any places the regiment visited generations down, and when Ciaphas finds them showing signs of Genestealer infection, he shoots them.
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Powder Keg Crowd
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Powder Keg Crowd: The regiment, when he first joins it.
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Hover Tank
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In For the Emperor, the 597th gets stymied trying to break through entrenched traitor PDF units (the 597th are mechanized infantry, meaning they lack heavy armor or artillery to deal with entrenched opponents), but then the Fire Caste security presence at the Tau embassy sends in a unit of Hammerhead Hover Tanks as a Gunship Rescue, which blast a hole in the enemy lines.
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Never Found the Body
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Never Found the Body: Cain was declared KIA at the beginning of Death or Glory as the result of a space battle (in which not finding a body would be perfectly understandable). His record wasn't corrected to MIA (due to his radioing in a month after being declared dead) until around the time he managed to fight his way through the Ork army back to Imperial lines, and the revision to declare him alive didn't happen until after the campaign ended. According to Amberley's footnotes, this happened to him so many times over the course of his career that eventually the Munitorium stopped trying to keep track and declared that he would be listed as alive and on active duty at all times—even after his death from natural causes and burial with full military honors.
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Enemy Civil War
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Enemy Civil War: Done with the Tyranids of all things in The Greater Good. The Tyranids attacking the planet are from a different hive than the ones that the Mechanicus has on ice, and tear into each other every chance they get. The rivalry between two different Chaos powers is a plot point in The Traitor's Hand.
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Military Academy
 Ciaphas Cain / int_f5c6409a
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Earn Your Happy Ending
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Earn Your Happy Ending: Although we recognize it also depends of his luck.
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Battle Chant
 Ciaphas Cain / int_f68ac685
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Battle Chant: In The Traitor's Hand there's a parody of this with the Khornites' catchphrase by having someone (mainly Cain) snark back at them whenever they show up (e.g. "Harriers for the Cup!", "Well, he can't have mine" "I'm getting really sick of hearing that"). The same book also has a scene where the Valhallans start chanting Cain's name as he duels a Chaos Space Marine, to his embarrassment.
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A Way Out of a Cave-In
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A Way Out of a Cave-In: In Caves of Ice, an ambull is found wandering around the titular caves under a mining facility besieged by orks. A team is sent to investigate, as orks could easily use the backdoor into the facility. The fact that ambulls come from desert environments is brushed off until it turns out there's a dormant Necron facility with a working teleporter which the ambull probably wandered through... and then the Necrons start waking up.
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Weapon of Choice
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Weapon of Choice: Jurgen's meltagun. Cain's chainsword and laspistol. In the first book, Cain declines to replace it with a more powerful hellpistol because he's afraid that the extra weight would throw off his aim. See Covers Always Lie above for what the general Imperial population believes is the case. Although this is justified as to why they think he carries around a bolt pistol- a) because the Bolt Pistol is quite often associated with commissars, who do use the weapons often (though Cain explains why he prefers the laspistol in "The Last Ditch,"), and b) because in The Greater Good, it's explained that Jurgen found a very, very nice bolt pistol, and Ciaphas uses this when posing for posters instead of his normal laspistol.
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Insult Backfire
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Insult Backfire: The Guardsmen characters constantly use "cogboy" as a mildly derogatory term for Tech-priests. In Death or Glory we find out that the Tech-priests themselves use "cog" as a compliment for someone who is essential to the the smooth running of things but frequently not acknowledged. Given the Tech-priests assigned to the Guard are mechanics, most of them probably don't even know it's derogatory.
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Last Stand
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Last Stand: Cain's gotten at least two of them in the same location... and he seems a bit annoyed that people keep calling them that. The valley itself is called that by the locals after the first one, and it's the name of the book where the second one takes place. In other words: Cain's last stand in Cain's Last Stand takes place in Cain's Last Stand, so named because it was the site of Cain's last stand.
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Loving Details
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Loving Details: see Love at First Sight.
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Malicious Slander
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The Traitor's Hand, once as a quotation, once by Beije—see Malicious Slander.
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RunningGag
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Running Gag: Many. Holograms flicker and require Percussive Maintenance. Jurgen has noticeable body odor and halitosis and looks dirty. Jurgen randomly offering Cain food and drinks. Cain's obsession with tanna, along with Amberley wondering how anyone can drink the stuff. Shrubberies find themselves destroyed very often by Jurgen's signature driving style. Everybody loves Cain and makes sculptures and whatnot dedicated to him, always wildly inaccurate. Cain hates the very existence of such art. Cain has to do something brave to maintain his heroic reputation. Cain chooses between two missions—one investigative, one on the active battlefield. He chooses the former. It doesn't end well and he mentions that in hindsight he would have gladly chosen the latter if he had any idea. The artwork usually depicts Cain with a bolt pistol instead of his preferred laspistol. This can be justified both in and out of universe by the bolter being the signature human weapon, and it just plain looks cooler than a laspistol. The Greater Good actually reveals the origin of the specific bolt pistol on the cover and its eventual fate. In The Traitor's Hand in particular, people mocking the Khornates' "Blood for the Blood God!" Battlecry. Cain's lack of knowledge of space ships, his contradicting descriptions of them, and his tendency to leave out their names confounds Amberley to no end. She always tries to determine the name and class of the ship he is describing, just to edit and revise her conclusion so many times that she simply gives up trying. The Greater Good being a good example where she literally says she gives up trying to determine which ship Lord General Zyvan commandeered for his base of operations. Amberley's inability to determine Cain's planet of origin and determine his family history. Cain running away or trying to run away while also trying to make himself look good. Jurgen's simple-mindedness and his tendency to state the obvious. Cain's tendency to run into, and deal with, people whose ideas he regards as insane and suicidal. He is particularly leery of Tech-priests and those who dabble in technology (the two Necron Tomb incidents, the Reclaimers' insistence on boarding The Spawn of Damnation, and Kildhar's biological studies of the Tyranids from The Greater Good come to mind). Sulla being too gung-ho. Also, she looks like a horse. Cain or someone kills something only to force the person under it (often Cain) to roll away before it crushes them. Usually the person "just barely gets away" as it "lands where I/he/she was a moment/second before". Cain describing something as "too stupid to realize it's/he's/she's dead" at which point whatever it is (whether ork, Tyranid, human, etc.) collapses in a heap often with a stupefied/humorous look of its/his/her face.note In fact, one the times this is used for drama/horror is when a psyker uses her power to keep herself from dying from fatal wounds. It freaks Cain out for obvious reasons. People's tendency to swear a lot, especially Cain. One such instance in The Greater Good has him thinking that if he is about to die, that at least it would be among friends and that he should say something heroic. All he manages is yell "Frak off!" to a Tyranid.
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Gainaxing
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Gainaxing: A rare written example. On multiple occasions, Cain uses some variation of the word "undulating" to describe Mira in motion. Another mentions a woman running as setting off interesting oscillations in her uniform. This is while the ship they're on is exploding, mind you.
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You Killed My Father
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You Killed My Father: Cain, to the kroot. Only an allusion, not leading to Revenge. This also may have simply been a lie as well, strengthened by the following footnote mentioning that Amberley still couldn't find any confirmation of Cain's actual past and that he is exceptionally skilled at manipulating people. The Kroot shrugs it off and says he's sure they died well. Mind you, Cain doesn't care much for his parents.
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Wouldn't Hit a Girl
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Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The Tallarns in The Traitor's Hand, who refused to participate in an inter-Regimental hand-to-hand combat tournament because the 597th's team had women on it. To the surprise of exactly no one but the Tallarns and their commissar, the girl goes after their champion at the first opportunity. To the surprise of no one, Magot easily beats the warp out of the Tallarns' best fighter. He then gets in trouble because Magot has a higher rank than he does.
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Go-Karting with Bowser
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Go-Karting with Bowser: Por'el'hassai, the Tau ambassador that Cain saved in For The Emperor to keep a potential conflict from escalating, is nominally Cain's enemy (as much as any xenos is the enemy of the Imperium). Despite that, the two seem to have developed a distant if respectful rapport over the years. They even sit down in The Greater Good for a friendly game of Regicide.
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Orbital Bombardment
 Ciaphas Cain / int_fcaec6bf
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Orbital Bombardment: Not a surprise, as it's a standard tactic of many factions in The 'Verse at large. Duty Calls has the Imperial fleet supporting the Imperial Guard's ground operations against a tyranid invasion by blasting any 'nid-held locations they find out about. The planet's weather patterns make finding out about them difficult, unfortunately. In Cain's Last Stand Warmaster Varan's forces flatten the Perlian PDF headquarters with a battleship's lance batteries. The for-once-not-incompetent brass had already evacuated but we don't know the casualties.
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Brick Joke
 Ciaphas Cain / int_fe0330fb
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Brick Joke: Amberley's comment about marshmallows and meltaguns became a running gag that appeared in the first three books. In Caves of Ice, Scrivener Quintus, in his idiosyncratic minutes of a meeting to assess the Ork threat on the refinery, offhandedly mentions that Broklaw fired his bolt pistol into the air to call the meeting to order. Later on, when Cain arrives after learning of the Necrons, he gets freaked out at the large blast hole in the ceiling, which Broklaw refers to like an inside joke.
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Attack! Attack! Attack!
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Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Battle Sisters in Duty Calls, until Cain reminds them of other duties. Also, Orks, Tyranids, Necrons, and Khornates. One of Cain's (and the Valhallan 597'th's) strengths is recognizing that while yes, the Imperium does encourage the guards to attack and never stop, it's usually more effective to use actual tactics against foes. This is pointed out in The Last Ditch, when another Commissar points out that the 597th isn't "doing their duty to the Emperor" by charging and attacking as hard as they can. Officers of the 597th point out that by not following this trope, they've killed twice the enemies that the locals have and with a third of the casualties.
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HeroesWantRedheads
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Heroes Want Redheads: Averted. Cain tells Emeli that he prefers blondes before he shoots her, and later falls for the blonde Amberley. He does admit that he finds Colonel Kasteen, the red-haired colonel of the Valhallan 597th, to be quite attractive, but never follows up on it because of how that would complicate their working relationship. Finally, in The Traitor's Hand, Commissar Tomas Beije seems to be assuming that Cain is having an inappropriate relationship with Corporal Magot, who is also a redhead. He's very wrong; Magot's "preferences ran in an entirely different direction", and Cain "only has room for one lethally dangerous woman in [his] life."
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Talking Is a Free Action
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Talking Is a Free Action: A Tau diplomat instructs Cain on how to use one of the Tau's grappling and rappelling lines, which spool wire into the handle and can form a molecular bond from the handle to any surface it is placed on via a few buttons embedded into it. It is a simple device, and this would not normally take much time to explain. However, he explains it to Cain (at Cain's request) while Cain is desperately trying to fend off the attacks of a combat servitor with over-sensitive Friend or Foe programming.
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Thin Dimensional Barrier
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Thin Dimensional Barrier: In The Emperor's Finest, the Reclaimers Space Marines are able to track the space hulk Spawn of Damnation between star systems by locating the weak points it leaves in realspace when it transitions into the Warp.
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