So, much of this thread has been devoted to discussing the “should’ves, would’ves and could’ves” of our various Kupopolis plots and plans. Some of mine, which I was reminded of just this morning for some reason, were to do with the development of one of my newer (and favorite) Kupopolis characters, Troy Sordana. A lot of you probably won’t be all that familiar with Sordana, largely because he came about after many people had fallen off into inactivity (at the time, I believe that me, Travis and Jessica were the only regular contributors in Proper). He’s incredibly fun to write, hopefully equally fun to read, and I had plans for him. Big plans.
The need for creating Troy actually came about a good long while ago, during one of our last Iron Writers. Nick wrote a story (which remains, to this day, one of my favorite IW offerings) wherein the major AAA corporate heads of Tasnica are all drawn together to act out the old “Most Dangerous Game” trope (in fact I believe the name of the story was “The Most Dangerous Game”). Reading about the AAA corp leaders, going on their deadly adventure, made me recall how the whole corporation-y aspect of the story began. Why did these mega-corp leaders become such important parts of the story? Why corporations? A big part of the development of Kupopolis’ corporate sector is Travis’ doing, resulting from his longstanding love of the Shadowrun universe (because most of us, over Kupopolis’ lifetime, have lovingly stolen from all of our favorite RPGs at one time or another). But it’s worth pointing out that Travis and the Tasnican AAAs weren’t the first megacorps on the scene. Like Microsoft is to Apple, Damien Gavalian and Lofwyr followed in the footsteps of that which came before: Eusic Mori and Atreus, Inc.
Atreus was the original Kupopolis megacorp. While the big corps like Kuat and S-K often throw their weight around as if they’re nation-states (and, in Neo, DWG actually sorta was basically running Tasnica), Atreus actually was, at one point, a sovereign entity (with an entire PLANET to itself on Gate IV). The split between Guardia/Medina and Atreus (emblematic of the times, a plot action that mirrored a real life falling out of Eusic with the other Gate writers [i.e. me and Nick]) also marked the beginning of the end for Atreus as a major plot asset, and Eusic as a contributing writer. This culminated with Eusic having his main character killed off to signal his taking a hiatus (which turned out to last up to the present) from the story.
Reading “The Most Dangerous Game” made me think of Eusic and Atreus for the first time in a good long while. And it made me think: “It’s a shame Atreus and Eusic didn’t feature in that story.” This planted the seed of a much larger idea to bring Atreus back to some sort of prominence. I’d tried my hand at writing for a corporation before, years ago, with MerthCorp – and it was basically a failure. MerthCorp was something I’d designed, along with its CEO, Mace Merthor, to be a foil for my superhero, the Shield. But Mace and the Shield never quite hit it off; I tried several times to use Merthor and MerthCorp for things, but it just never quite felt right. So MerthCorp got quietly folded away and was never heard from again.
So there was the problem: how do I expect to bring about a resurrection of Atreus if my attempt at establishing MerthCorp had been such an abysmal failure? I decided that the first thing I needed to do was establish who my CEO was going to be. Merthor was two-dimensional and not very fun to write because I’d never put very much thought into his personality; he wasn’t actually a character, he was just sort of a name on a page (as the saying goes). I would really need to think about who I was going to have at the helm of a new Atreus, and make sure that it was someone I enjoyed writing for and not just a “name on the page” that’s there to hold down the corp.
What I ultimately settled on wasn’t my own original creation. The character that would become Troy Sordana is modeled, both physically and in terms of his personality (and, in fact, his origin story) on David Xanatos, the master schemer from the 1990s cartoon series Gargoyles.
The Xanatos Gambit
After getting a name I liked from the Knights of the Old Republic’s built-in name generator (pro-tip: there are a lot of RPGs out there that have halfway-decent name generators for people like us), I set out to construct my first Atreus post (“Atreus Rising,” in the Mana thread on the old Proper boards). Ahead of this, I had to fill in the blanks and decide what, exactly, had become of Atreus in the years since Eusic Mori’s death. The company is a shell of its former self, and it’s being run by a secretive board of directors who have conspired to murder most of the CEOs that came after Eusic, mostly to keep the company from returning to its old ways. Sordana shows up, reveals he’s worked for years to become the majority shareholder, and that he knows about the board’s tendency to kill its CEOs. In the end, he outbluffs them, but ends up killing off the board anyway. The central conceit of writing for Troy Sordana (which is what makes him so much fun) is that he’s all about the Xanatos Gambit. Google it, it’s an actual thing. Named for the character from Gargoyles, a Xanatos Gambit is any plan that’s worked out so intricately that it does two important things: it flawlessly anticipates every possible reaction of the players involved in the plan, and is worked in such a way that the schemer (in this case Sordana) always comes out ahead – even if he “loses.”
After assuming control of Atreus, Sordana solidified his hold by getting rid of the last possible remnants of opposition to him (in “Atreus Awakening,” also in Mana). He also engaged in a couple of plots, one where he was secretly involved in a robotic slaving ring in the Fringe (which also featured Barry Svensgaard, all groweds up and captaining his own GSF ship), and another where he sold specially insulated electronics (and weapons) to both the Dwarves and the Drow of Crystal’s Underground. But this was just going to be the tip of the iceberg.
Troy Sordana had an eye at restoring Atreus’ place within Gate at one point, and so embarked on this elaborate plan to establish either a Guardian or Medinan branch of the company. I only ever had part of this post written, and wasn’t really sure where I was going with it, other than that it had something to do with whatever he got out of the end of the robot slavery scheme (where, of course, even though Barry shut down the operation, Sordana had an angle by which he gained something valuable).
Troy and Osprey
At one point Troy Sordana was going to hire Osprey. This would have culminated a longstanding running gag where Osprey sent out resumes to practically every spy service in the Web of Worlds after being fired from ZAPS, and as it was the first real job offer Osprey had had in years he would have delightedly taken it. This would have caused friction between him and his friends Fara and the Shield, who would have simultaneously found out that Atreus’ branch in Albrook was up to something nefarious and bad, and Osprey would, of course, be in denial (because he’s so happy to be employed again). I can’t find my notes on my laptop about what this plot actually was, but it was really, really bad, I assure you. Osprey finds out and is none too pleased, but even when Osprey turns on Atreus, the end result of everything worked out to Troy’s benefit. Because.
Troy Sordana in White Cell
My plans for Sordana and Atreus involved playing both sides, naturally. When White Cell invades the Quad and lays siege to Olivawk, Troy Sordana sabotages the defenses of the city and surrenders to White Cell. Eventually he works his way to being in the inner circle. All the while, he is feeding information to the Grand Army through his connections – among the intelligence he gives to the GA are the secret plans for the upgrades to the Executor, which ends up being exactly what the GA uses to destroy the massive invincible starship. He ingratiates himself to White Cell by using his presence in the Sanctuary colony (Gate IV) to afford White Cell ingress and access to resources, while at the same time supplying Sactuary’s resistance forces with arms and supplies.
In the end, his gaming of the situation works out to two possible end scenarios: the Grand Army wins (in which case it is revealed that Troy Sordana was the White Cell mole, and he is hailed as a hero of the Web of Worlds [which actually happens]; the destruction of the SIege of Olivawk leaves much of the city in ruins, allowing Atreus to buy up land for development and expansion, extending the corp’s grasp on that city; likewise, the fighting on Mana IV causes a lot of destruction to the Sanctuary colony as well, and Atreus [which has a presence in the Sanctuary domes] offers to take over some of the ruined real estate to rebuild it [so benevolent!]), or White Cell wins (wherein Sordana is also hailed as a hero for his inaluable assistance to the cause of bringing White Cell’s order to the Web; Sordana does his best to make sure that Damien Gavalian is killed when Egmont is besieged, and Sordana benevolently offers to help rebuild Egmont… and use his connections within White Cell to take over Kuat assets [again, quid pro quo for helping White Cell during the war])
Troy Sordana in Legends
Yes! Troy was going to show up in Legends. This would have been a tricky proposition, because Legends wasn’t strictly a “same timeline” prequel. But because of the history of the Mana Dimension, and Troy’s place in it, the series of one-shot posts in which he appeared would have to have been posted in Legends, as they coudn’t ever have really happened in Proper.
Troy’s backstory and origins are lifted conceptually from David Xanatos’ story in Gargoyles. At one point in the series, it’s revealed that Xanatos, inspite of his father’s disapproval, is, in fact, a “self-made man,” with the help of time travel. The set up for Sordana in Kupop would have been similar to Xanatos’: the post series would have been called: “The Self-Made Man” (a callback to our earlier cycles of “Adjective Man” posts in old Kupop), and would have revolved around a meeting between Troy Sordana, Damien Gavalian and Belgememnon. Troy throws a charity gala in Olivawk, and arranges it so that Damien Gavalian has to attend. While there, Troy contrives of some excuse to get Gavalian alone, where he shows off a recent antique acquisition: Lucca Ashtear’s “teleporter” device (from the beginning of Chrono Trigger!). He activates the device and throws both himself and Gavalian back in time, where they meet Belgememnon and whackiness ensues. I hadn’t actually written any of this post, nor worked out the details, but I had pre-scripted Troy’s final soliloquy to Gavalian. I imagined the relationship between these two to be adversarial, although Gavalian doesn’t think very much of Sordana. Troy is clearly, always, jockeying to either earn Gavalian’s respect or destroy and supplant him (as in his “White Cell Wins” scenario), but Damien sees Troy as an upstart and non-entity (because his nemesis is Lofwyr). Among the reasons Gavalian doesn’t think much of Troy is the difference in their backgrounds: Troy was born into relative prosperity in a middle-class family in Northtown, while Gavalian grew up poor. Gavalian worked his way up to his current position of power, while Troy appeared to luck into his fortune through playing various marketplaces (he made an initial killing trading rare coins, then began to buy and sell stocks).
After their adventure in time is near its conclusion, Troy Sordana and Damien Gavalian have the following exchange:
[i]Damien watched as Troy handed the rider a twine-bound stack of letters, and with a wave and another secret-society-handshake, the Atreus CEO sent the rider on his way.
Damien folded his arms as Troy came back to him.
“Well,” Gavalian said, “What was that all about?”
Troy smiled. “Oh, nothing. Just sending off my personal instructions for the Oscuranatti society for the next two hundred years.”
Damien laughed. “Right. And they’d care because?”
“That man we saved was the second highest ranking Oscuranattus in this era,” Troy said. “His debt to us is no small thing. He will do as I request.”
“All right. What did you ask them to do for you, then, over the next two centuries?”
“I am so glad you asked,” Troy said. "I’m hardly sure where to begin explaining, except to say that my instructions are to be followed in phases – six letters, six separate deliveries. Starting in the year 28 WR, when the first letter will be delivered to a foundling Gate Dimension, into the hands of one Eusic Montressori, who would go on to shorten his surname to ‘Mori’ as he entered into his own private entrepreneurial enterprise. The letter includes the schematics for several of the weapons that earned Atreus its earliest successes – which I, as Atreus CEO, was able to retrieve from corporate archives. The result of that letter will be Eusic’s becoming the Web’s richest man, and one-third of the Web’s first Great Power.
"The second letter is to be delivered four years later, to ZAPS director Norstein Bekkler. It contains copies of Atreus internal memoranda, wherein Eusic Mori discusses with his board of directors the feasibility of selling Guardian technological secrets to Tasnica and its AAA corporations – also retrieved from corporate archives. The result of this, as I’m sure you can guess, is the falling out between Eusic and King Derik, and the subsequent exile of all things Atreus to the Mana Dimension.
"The third letter is to be delivered in the year 35 WR – to the Oscuranatti High Council. It details for them some of the more… questionable internal behaviors of one of their lower-echelon members: one Eusic Mori. As a result of this letter, Eusic will be assassinated – and his killers will, of course, never be apprehended. But more than that, this third letter would ensure the steady decline of Atreus stock for years to come.
"The fourth letter goes out in the same year, 35 WR, to a 21-year-old Web Literature major by the name of Troy Sordana. It contains a single coin – one of the very coins given to me as a reward by Belgememnon himself for the rescue of his ambassador. In this era, it’s not worth very much at all – enough, perhaps, to buy me a fresh cod’s head down at the fish monger. But give it about two centuries… and it’ll be worth about 300,000 GP. Just enough for a young Mister Sordana to lay down the foundations of a very, very wealthy financial empire.
"The fifth letter is delivered in the next year, 36 WR, again to Troy Sordana. It instructs him to keep his eye trained on Atreus stock prices, telling him that if he’s smart – and he is very, very smart, I will tell you – he will buy up as much Atreus stock as he can over the course of the next decade. It also warns him to be discrete about his purchases, and offers some strategies for going about a stealthy takeover bid. Knowing that Troy Sordana in the year 36 WR will be more than a bit skeptical at the reading of the letter, I include a few predictions that are sure to come true, and once he’s sufficiently impressed by the prognostication he will begin preparing for the conquest of Atreus.
“And then, there is the sixth letter. I received that one just last week. In it, I described the events that would lead up to this point – that would take us into the Tasnica Republic’s nascent past. That’s how I knew to set all of this up: how to begin the cycle again and preserve my place of destiny in the timeline.” Troy’s smile had grown when he recounted each phase of the master plan. “So you see, Damien… I am indeed a self-made man. Perhaps, even moreso than you. For while you were beholden to whatever fate or destiny had in store for you, I literally wrote my own destiny, and scripted my own fate. I had an active hand in the unfolding of history, guiding events in my favor, positioning men and their fortunes like chess pawns to get myself where I needed to be.”[/i]
Of course, his flourishing soliloquy fails to impress Gavalian – at least outwardly. The respect that Sordana sought to earn just isn’t there – though, perhaps, as a result of this encounter, Gavalian might think twice about discounting the threat that Troy and Atreus represent.
Troy and the "Kuper Heroes"
As the genius leader of a corporation, with some obviously villainous tendencies, Troy Sordana seems destined to be the arch enemy that the Shield has been waiting for. Clashes between the two seem almost inevitable. A lot of the ideas I’ve had for Troy in the past may end up being folded into future projects in Kupopolis Reborn; the post White Cell Web has a lot of opportunities for an ambitious man like Sordana… and it may fall on persons of a heroic sort to stop him.