Home > World-Building > Day One Hundred and Ninety-eight: The Guardian Corporation

Day One Hundred and Ninety-eight: The Guardian Corporation

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!

——————

At one point, pretty early on in my project, I decided that I needed an Evil Corporation.

Full disclosure: in my brain, that’s almost a tautology. I realize that corporations are important to the modern economy, and that without them our lives would be vastly reduced in both the physical objects we have and the access and comfort those things give us. So you will not see me saying that we have to get rid of them all, or that the only thing they’ve brought us is pain and suffering.

The problem I have with corporations is that with that potential to change the world for the better comes the potential to change it for the worse as well. Since corporate entities generally have more resources and reach than individuals, they have more power. And with great power, as someone once said [1], comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, there is really no good mechanism to hold corporate entities responsible for what they do. For the biggest – and most powerful – governmental fines and lawsuits are a slap on the wrist. A $15 million court settlement is nothing at all when your company is pulling in billions of dollars. They have access to lawmakers and policymakers, they own entire landscapes of media, and are, for all intents and purposes, largely unaccountable for their actions.

I’ll stop myself here out of courtesy to you. Long story short [2], I have an innate distrust of corporate entities, which is probably why they’re such good villains. But when Cerbecorp first appeared, I had no idea how far-reaching it would become. Here are the stories that feature or mention Cerbecorp, and what they say about it:

13: Star-Crossed

  • Cerbecorp is a medium-to-large sized company that makes… something. Tod Piskel, an engineer, is working on some kind of power system.
  • Justine Sekigawa is a high-ranking salesperson.
  • The company had a Mandatory Sexual Harassment Seminar at least once.

21: Delay

  • Cerbecorp exists in the far future (at least past the late 22nd century).
  • It employs time travelers to go into the past and secure patents for the company. Specifically to “three of the most popular home utilities in modern history.”
  • It is not very straightforward about the effects of time travel.

33: Monsters

  • Cerbecorp Security Enterprises pilots a personal security program, donating “donated officers, vehicles and body armor” to the family of Paul Barbeau, who were under almost continuous attack.

44/102: The Devil Went Down to Friday’s (Redux)

  • Lou Hoban is a Cerbecorp engineer.

65: Amanuensis

  • Abraham Jordan is the President of the company. He is in a vegetative state, kept hooked up to machines in the bunker he’d built ten floors under the Cerbecorp headquarters building.
  • Cordell McCandlish is Jordan’s only trusted secretary. When his brain was working, Jordan was borderline paranoid.
  • Jordan’s office in built to withstand nearly any kind of attack. He has guards at his door at all times. McCandlish is admitted through DNA analysis – a blood sample is drawn from one of ten spots on his body, chosen randomly at the time he wants to enter the room.
  • Jordan has a son, Than Jordan, who has squandered the trust his father set up for him. He knows his father isn’t really alive, and he may have to be killed to ensure his silence.
  • Cerbecorp specialized in security: “What Cerbecorp offered, better than anyone else, was security. Whether it was physical security, data security, financial security, it didn’t matter. If you had something you needed to keep safe, Cerbecorp was the first place you went to.”
  • Jordan had been risk-averse before meeting McCandlish, taking few chances with the company. With McCandlish’s help, the company grew quickly into a juggernaut.
  • Cerbecorp attempted to buy Munin Scientific.
  • Cerbecorp has built a subterranean research complex in New Mexico.
  • Barbeau Pharmaceuticals is asking for a “cooperative agreement” with Cerbecorp.

73: Ink

  • Cerbecorp worked with Albeth and Halding to develop nano-particle tattoo ink for unique employee IDs.

127: Last-Ditch

  • Cerbecorp worked with Munin Scientific to build a high-security vault in the Munin headquarters. It’s said to be impenetrable to anything less than a commando team.

187: Up, Up, and Away

  • Cerbecorp Tower is located in a major American city. Probably the headquarters.

We have a pretty good picture of the company at this point – it’s a company that focuses on security, and it’s very good at what it does. Not surprising for a company named for the guardian of the gates of Hades – Cerebus.

The company is, like all companies, fundamentally amoral – it doesn’t care about doing the “right” thing, but only doing what is in its interest. It’s always trying to make advances in security and stay ahead of thieves and hackers and terrorists and the like. It hires creative people to come up with new ideas, which has led to things like the encodable nano-particle ink that it provides to Albeth and Halding for their employee ID system. The events in Delay suggest that the company will change its focus somewhat in the long-term future, mucking about with time travel in order to secure patents for itself.

At some point, though, Cerbecorp will have to stop being just the Evil Company lurking in the background. There are stories to be told here, I’m sure.

For example, the founding of the company. Amanuensis hints at a rather shaky beginning, with Abraham Jordan torn between his desire to run a company and his paranoia in dealing with other people. How, then, did McCandlish gain his trust and help him turn Cerbecorp into a giant?

His son is clearly an entitled little brat, whom McCandlish is ready to have killed by now. How did Than Jordan turn out the way he did, and will he be able to survive the machinations of his father’s right hand man? For that matter, what would happen if he did reveal to the world that one of its largest corporations has had a vegetable as the President for years now?

What are they building in New Mexico, and why?

Does Cerbecorp have any rivals? If so, who are they and what are they doing? If not, why not? Where are they buried?

How on earth do they get into time travel, and how does that jive with the apocalyptic future that Barbeau Pharmaceuticals is going to one day unleash?

So many questions that need answering. I also have to figure out where their headquarters are. I want to say they’re in Corsair City, but I can’t be sure yet…

Anyway, I expect that Cerbecorp will come in handy more and more often as I figure out what it does and what it’s capable of.

Anyone want to design a logo for it? I have an idea, but haven’t made a nice clean design yet.

——-

[1] I’m sure it’s in the Bible somewhere.
[2] Too late.

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