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SCORPIA As A Whole
Julia Rothman: "They could have added kidnapping, blackmail, terrorism, drug trafficking and vice, but that wouldn't make a word. Anyway, we've got to be called something, and I suppose SCORPIA has a nice ring to it."
- Big Bad: Featuring in five of the eleven novelsnote (as well as later being revealed to be responsible for the events of Stormbreaker) and responsible for most of the series' backstory, with their disbanding at the end of Scorpia Rising meant to be one of the big indications the series was now over, SCORPIA are effectively the Big Bad of the entire series.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted in Scorpia Rising, as Razim needs Alex alive and without any physical marks on him. He also refuses to tell Alex what he is planning.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: An obvious instrument they use. Played straight in Scorpia Rising with Razim, who wants to create a measurable unit of pain and slowly kills people with various horrific instruments, like knives, syringes and many more, to measure the pain that they feel. He tortures a French spy; the author manages to spare the readers the details, though. ...Unless you want to read about that stuff...
- It's later mentioned that he does several more "experiments" with Julius. Again, the details are thankfully spared.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: SCORPIA's plot in Scorpia Rising.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sanity wise: SCORPIA condemned Damian Cray as a madman.
- Fun with Acronyms: SCORPIA: Sabotage, CORruPtion, Intelligence, Assassination. Yes, the P is a bit of a stretch. The narration remarks at one point that whoever came up with the name had probably been watching a little too much James Bond.
- Gaining the Will to Kill: SCORPIA runs an assassination school, so naturally, this is part of the curriculum.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Zeljan Kurst, leader of Scorpia.
- SCORPIA themselves.
- Internal Reveal: In Scorpia Rising, the reader is aware pretty much from the start that Alex's mission is a trap to deliver him to Scorpia.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: The plot of Snakehead, where Scorpia have to destroy a conference aiming to wipe out poverty but avoid the organisers looking like martyrs.
- Man Behind the Man: Scorpia's admitted to being behind book one's villain's plan by selling him the virus strain he implanted in the stormbreakers. It's very possible that they're behind some of the other villain's actions if not all of them.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: There's a Scorpia member named Dr Light.
- Nebulous Evil Organisation: Scorpia. They're the villains of three books.
- Only in It for the Money: They are essentially an elite terrorist-for-hire outfit that works for anyone who has large sums of money. In Scorpia, Julia Rothman claims to Alex that they are even occasionally hired by the intelligence services for dirtier jobs... though make of that what you will.
- Out of Focus: In Scorpia Rising, six new members are added to SCORPIA's executive board, replacing the ones who have been killed; three of the new members are the Big Bads of the next two books. This means that there are four members of the original board who appear in at least three of the books without even being identified by name.
- Red Right Hand: SCORPIA has a few.
- Resignations Not Accepted: The opening chapter of Scorpia has one of the titular organisation's senior members offed in this fashion. He refuses to participate in Scorpia's latest project: a biological weapon that specifically targets children. He is given a "retirement present" from his former co-workers, which turns out to be a box filled with deadly scorpions.
- The Syndicate: SCORPIA is basically the series's version of SPECTRE.
- Uriah Gambit: In Scorpia Rising, Zeljan Kurst has Levi Kroll killed and false evidence placed on his cadaver in order to lure MI-6 — and Alex — into a trap.
- Villain Decay: In-Universe example; Scorpia's credibility is seriously affected when a fourteen-year-old boy destroys two of their operations and (indirectly) kills two of their executives within a few months. The failure of their plan in Scorpia Rising results in the organisation disbanding.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Really wants to get even with John Rider and MI-6 for outwitting her and she thinks she can do this through killing Alex.
- Death by Looking Up: Killed by the hot air balloon she was using as a platform for her attack. Ironically she would have survived if she knew that the SAS soldiers were actually trying to warn her, not detain her.
- Faux Affably Evil: She appears every bit a polite and generous hostess to Alex, treating him to an expensive dinner at a luxury hotel. This despite planning from the start to use him to get even with MI-6 and then dispose of him with Invisible Sword.
- Genre Savvy: She refuses to tell Alex how Invisible Sword works at any point, even after she believes he has killed Mrs Jones, leaving him to try and work it out by himself. Although he does manage to do so, Rothman is the only Big Bad of any Alex Rider book whose plan isn't foiled because they explained every last detail to Alex.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Not uncommon for the antagonists in the series, Julia Rothman is flattened by the satellites on the hot air balloon needed to initiate Invisible Sword.
- Little Black Dress: In Scorpia.
- Manipulative Bastard: Isn't a big player in SCORPIA for nothing.
- Mrs. Robinson: Some of her comments to Alex are very flirtatious, fitting since she was in love with his father.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Well actually, her skin is more peach coloured but as far as the hair description.
- Shout-Out: Her death is like Alec Trevelyan's, the main antagonist from the James Bond movie Goldeneye.
- Unreliable Expositor: The actual truth about Alex's father, revealed at the end of Scorpia, leaves a question mark over how much - if any - of what Rothman says to Alex is true.
- Would Hurt a Child: Herod levels. She says she'd rather not, but if the money pays well...
- Death by Irony: He has a fear of heights, and ends up being knocked off a hot air balloon from a height of 100 metres after Alex realises what he's afraid of and uses it against him. To add insult to injury, he gets knocked off by a fireball that Alex sets off by severing the balloon's propane burner. How did he do that? By cutting through it with a sword Nile had thrown at him.
- Master Swordsman: They're his Weapon of Choice, though he's not above using other things available.
- Scary Black Man
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: When he kills a researcher, though later averted when he tries to kill Alex because he was crippled by his fear of heights. Though these are swords that are meant to be thrown, not normal swords.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: His biggest flaw is his crippling acrophobia.
Major Winston Yu
- Bond Villain Stupidity: A really bad case, as his plan for Alex doesn't even require him to be alive (aside from sheer sadism). And he may be the only villain ever to out-and-out state the best option is to Just Shoot Him and then not do it.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The earthquake caused by Royal Blue's early detonation hits his boat and breaks every bone in his body.
- Death by Irony/Hoist by His Own Petard: He's killed by the bomb that he would have destroyed Reef Island with.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: After she died, he went off the rails.
- Evil Cripple: While he's not technically disabled, he does have osteoporosis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. This ultimately does him in.
- Evil Old Folks
- Foil: To Herod Sayle, in that both are foreigners who came from dirt-poor families but, because of extraordinary circumstances, ended up receiving a top-rate education in Britain. While Herod's experiences led to him despising the Brits however, Yu became a huge fan of British culture.
- Immigrant Patriotism: Served with distinction in Northern Ireland but when he was consigned to a desk job at Mi 6, this went out the window. Still loves Britain however.
- In the Blood: His mother was a professional killer in the snakeheads.
- Smug Snake: He's too confident for his own good.
- Wicked Cultured: He has a very aristocratic behaviour.
- Worthy Opponent: Perhaps more than any other Big Bad in the series, Yu seems to admire Alex's intelligence and resourcefulness, and happily admits to Alex that he has underestimated his capability when Alex reveals he knows about the bomb.
- Yellow Peril
Dr. Bill Tanner
- Co-Dragons: With Ash, to Yu.
- Driven to Suicide: Possibly; it's known that he kills himself, but why he does is never explained (it's suggested that he was following orders from Yu after Alex escaped, which given the fate of de Wynter earlier seems likely).
- Faux Affably Evil: Remains polite even after threatening Alex with a slow and painful death.
- Mad Scientist: Dissects people to give their organs away.
- Smug Snake: He has to brag about how Alex "can't escape" and gives away how he can escape.
- Accidental Misnaming: His name is really Yasha. Sharkovsky misheard it as Yassen, since Yasha had just been beaten up by Sharkovsky's two bodyguards and his face was still swollen. After escaping, Scorpia ran with it. This was likely intended as a Retcon, as Horowitz named the character after someone he knew and was unaware that Yassen was not a Russian name.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: A rare male example, Sharkovsky orders his men to make sure the captured young Yassen has washed himself throughly before being in his presence as Yassen was living on the streets at the time.
- Blofeld Ploy: In "Eagle Strike", Damian Cray orders Yassen to kill Alex and Sabina. Yassen refuses, saying he "does not kill children". Flustered, Damian snatches his gun, and instead of shooting Alex and Sabina, turns the gun on Yassen.
- Book-Ends: Both Stormbreaker and Russian Roulette end with Herod Sayle's assassination by Yassen Gregorovich, but from the perspectives of Alex and Yassen, respectively.
- Bullet Holes and Revelations: The end of Stormbreaker: Sayle has a gun pointed at Alex and two shots are fired. But they went from Yassen's gun into Sayle's chest.
- Cultured Badass: The fourth book mentions that he listens to classical music and is learning nine languages.
- A Day in the Limelight: Is the focus of Russian Roulette, which delves into his childhood and how he came to be an assassin.
- Doomed Hometown: His home village was contaminated with an artificial strain of anthrax, and later destroyed by the Russian government as part of their quarantine/cover-up.
- The Dragon: Co-Dragons with Mr. Grin in "Stormbreaker" and for Damien Cray in "Eagle Strike."
- Even Evil Has Standards: Yassen is a professional assassin, but even he refuses to kill children and anyone not strictly on his list of targets.
- He appears pleased when Alex tells him that Cray has died, and says that he knew working for him was a mistake (and not just because Cray was directly responsible for Yassen's own death).
- Fate Worse than Death: He spent three years working as a virtual slave for Vladimir Sharkovsky.
- Foregone Conclusion: Of course he, Julia Rothman and John Rider will survive Russian Roulette.
- HeelFace Turn: Yassen, arguably, in the end of the fourth book when he tried to stop Damian Cray from killing Alex and got shot in the process. He dies in Alex's arms after Damian Cray dies.
- Ideal Illness Immunity: Yassen has never been ill once in his life. He attributes this to his parents giving him an antidote to a powerful strain of anthrax when he was a kid.
- It's Personal with the Dragon: For Alex, since Yassen killed his uncle.
- Killed Off for Real: Dies at the hands of Eagle Strike's Big Bad, Damian Cray.
- Made a Slave: For three years following a burgulary gone wrong, after he was caught by the rich man he tried to rob.
- Morality Pet: Alex seems to be this for Yassen, who in Eagle Strike first arranges him to "die" in a bullfight so that Alex can escape and then tries Please Spare Him, My Liege! on Damian Cray.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Yassen gives one of these in Russian Roulette when he talks about how people who couldn't afford vodka would use shoe polish as a drug.
- Professional Killer: He's an assassin.
- Punch-Clock Villain: In it for the money, and nothing else.
- Redemption Equals Death: He may have not liked John Rider trying to turn him away from being a assassin but when push comes to shove, he won't lay a finger on Alex and is willing to die instead.
- Retirony: He chooses to spare Damian and go through with the Eagle Strike project because after that, he can retire and return to Russia. Of course, he didn't expect Damian to shoot him later on.
- Russian Roulette: Sharkovsky makes him, as a fourteen-year-old, play it after he is captured. At the end of the book, he returns to Sharkovsky's mansion and plays it again - but this time with five bullets instead of one. He survives, and kills Sharkovsky and his son.
- Small Role, Big Impact: In the main series, he only actually appears in two of the books, twice briefly in Stormbreaker, and acting as The Dragon to Damian Cray in Eagle Strike before being killed off. Despite that, his actions continue to influence Alex's life for the rest of the series, in addition for being the one indirectly responsible for Alex being railroaded into the spy game from the very beginning (by killing his uncle). Thanks to that, he received his own spin-off novel focusing on his origins.
- Street Urchin: While he was a kid, he lived as one in Moscow.
- Unperson: Because of certain events in his childhood, there are no records of his existence anywhere in the world. It's this trait which makes him good at his job, since it's much harder to track him down.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: He has no qualms about working for an employer intending to kill millions of children, but objects to directly killing Alex and Sabina. Though this may be because Yassen worked with Alex's dad.
- You Are Not Ready: Scorpia sent him out to assassinate a New York lawyer. He had doubts; a Scorpia sniper killed her anyway. Scorpia knew that this was the case, so he wasn't killed like Grant was.
- You Killed My Father: Was responsible for the death of Ian Rider, Alex's uncle.
- Earlier, during his meeting with Aniston at the London Museum, he has several SCORPIA agents disguised as civilians or tourists there just in case things turn sour. Sure enough, the police attempt to capture him but most of them end up done in by the various agents.
- He's fully aware that one of his fellow board members might be considering avoiding the usual punishment for retirement by gunning them down when Scorpia begins to hit rock bottom, so he has snipers placed on the roof of the Scorpia riverboat to take them out. This is how Kroll dies.
- Greater-Scope Villain: He's the leader of SCORPIA, and the one who orders the Big Bads of Snakehead and Scorpia Rising to carry out their plots, though he never comes face to face with Alex.
- Man Behind the Man: In Snakehead and Scorpia Rising, for Winston and Razim respectively. He comes up with plans, the other Scorpia executives carry them out.
- The Unfought: Despite being a prominent member of SCORPIA, and responsible for setting the events of Scorpia Rising in motion, Kurst never even meets Alex or any other MI-6 member, with the final chapter stating that he was arrested offscreen in the aftermath of Razim's failure.
- Eye Scream: The result of his Pillow Pistol.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Managed to do this to himself before we first see him. He lived through it, though.
- Pillow Pistol: Until it went off.
- Too Dumb to Live: Pulls a gun on Zeljan of all people and gets assassinated for his trouble.
- The Unfought: Never comes face-to-face with Alex or any other major character outside Scorpia's executive board, despite appearing in three books and having a minor story arc that impacts on the events of the latter two books.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He knows retiring from Scorpia just leads to early death. Unfortunately, he misinterprets a comment from Razim as a suggestion that they should kill him, and ends up giving them reason to. Probably what Razim had intended, of course.
- Alliterative Name: His real name is Abdul-Aziz Al-Rahim.
- Ax-Crazy: The things he did while he was a child says a lot about how fucked up he was, and considering that the only development in this as he got older was managing to somewhat conceal this so that you won't be able to tell at first glance anymore, still is.
- The Chessmaster: He plays Alan Blunt like a chump.
- Disproportionate Retribution: As a child, he stabbed his nanny in the leg when she told him off for teasing his sister.
- Faux Affably Evil: Always goes with a polite and stoic demeanour, but it's entirely fake and just serves to make him even worse.
- For Science!: Takes no pleasure in his experiments. Supposedly.
- Kids Are Cruel: He was this as a child, strangling his dog and ratting out his parents to Saddam Hussein alongside his sister. Then he wanted to join the police force and start killing. The officer who was doing the whole "you did the right thing" talk to him wanted to gun him down there and then.
- Knight of Cerebus: The series was never light to begin with, but Razim takes it into its darkest moments pretty much single handedly.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: We're told his real name at one point, but he doesn't use it once.
- Self-Made Orphan: Indirectly; he rats his parents out to Hussein, but doesn't do anything to them himself.
- Spanner in the Works: He expects Jack to steal a knife when she and Alex are dining with him, as it's part of his plan to cause Alex emotional pain. Alex stealing a cigarette packet at the same meal is not part of his plan.
- The Sociopath: He is characterized by a complete lack of emotions or empathy.
- The Unsmile: At the end when he's fallen into the pile of salt and is pleading with Alex to throw him a rope. It's described as looking more like a hideous grimace than anything.
- Villainous Breakdown: He completely flips out when he finds out that Alex is still alive.
- Failed a Spot Check: Alex's plan to escape would have failed if he hadn't noticed the cigarette packet hadn't been there before Alex got into the van.
- Fallen Hero: It is suspected that this happened after leaving his hospital treatment. The suspicions are true.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Gunter is a fairly big part of Scorpia Rising, as Dragons go, but he is noticeably overshadowed in comparison to his monstrously evil boss and his primary Dragon.
- Smug Snake: He tells Alex more or less the whole plan.
- Back for the Finale: He hadn't appeared since Point Blanc.
- Cloning Blues: Double Subverted. He knows his genetic material is the same as his father's, but he doesn't mind, and when neither Julius nor his "father" knew who Alex really was, he was OK with becoming a clone of Alex Friend. But then once he figured out Alex's true identity...
- Demoted to Dragon: If one takes the view that the clones are Grief, which is mentioned several times in Point Blanc.
- Last of His Kind: Last of the Grief clones.
- Look Both Ways: Downplayed. Getting hit by a car doesn't outright kill him, but it does leave him wounded for Alex to finish off.
- Not Quite Dead: Remember the fire in Point Blanc? Yeah, he survived that.