Dragonback is a sci-fi series by Timothy Zahn.
Jack Morgan is fourteen, has been framed for a crime involved with the biggest corporation this side of the Orion Arm, and is very, very alone. With the exception of his uncle Virge, a AI emulating his late Uncle Virgil, he is completely isolated. That is, until a feirce Space Battle occurs right above his head. When the scuffle ends in a spectacular crash for one of the ships, Jack explores the wreckage to encounters the Sole Survivor - a K'da Warrior Poet named Draycos. After escaping the landing party of the mysterious other fleet in the aforementioned Space Battle, The pair come to an agreement (albeit a reluctant one on the part of Uncle Virge, with his self centered outlook). Draycos would do his best to help clear Jack's name. In return, Jack would help Draycos save his race from a planned genocide.
- Action Girl: Alison and Taneem.
- Air Vent Passageway: Even spaceships can't resist making man-sized vents.
- Actually, they were K'da sized.
- Catch Phrase: Jack says "Skip it." when Earth slang goes over Dracyos's head.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Neverlin. Not Braxton, however. He even joins in the final battle.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jack and Alison, who snark at each other often. Draycos can sneak some subtle snarking in as well.
- Death Ray: Even called the Death.
- Enfant Terrible: Her Thumbleness.
- Food Chains: Panjan Gazen attempts to give Jack food laced with a "squatter poison" so that he would be completely dependent on whoever buys him for the antidote he would need for survival.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Braxton.
- Humans Are Special: Humans turn out to be better hosts for the K'da than any other race. This is because Earth is the K'da's original homeworld and humans were their original hosts.
- Master Actor: Jack, to the point it creeps out his friends.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The K'da might be a dragon race, though they don't breath fire. What more than makes up for it is their ability to cling to hosts like tattoos, as they can only last six hours alone before dying. In addition, they can see through thin walls.
- Pardon My Klingon: Frunge!
- Posthumous Character: Jake's parents, Uncle Virgil.
- The Reveal: Being a Zahn novel there are several. One early one is that Jack is living alone, his uncle and guardian is dead, and the 'Uncle Virge' he talks to is just a computer AI that mimics his uncle's personality.
- Sssssnaketalk: Draycos's voice has been described as snake-like, though he's a protagonist.
- The Symbiote: The K'da. Basically a tiger-sized dragon that can turn into a tattoo, and must do so at least once every six hours. The K'da gets a host, the host gets a powerful guardian, and both get the other's companionship.
- Themed Aliases: Jake Morgan always uses aliases beginning with the letter M, to make it easier to remember.
- Tomato Surprise: Not so surprising, though, if you know what *Dhghem meant.
- Warrior Poet: Dryacos still creates poems while being a warrior; the poems have become plot points at times.
- Xanatos Gambit: Tons of them.