Command Performance is a StarCraft II short story written by Alex Irvine, designed to tie-in with Heart of the Swarm. It focuses on the Warhound. The story was later collected in StarCraft II: War Stories, and relates to the narrative of Project Blackstone.
Filming an ad for Axiom Ordnance's new Warhound is not the kind of situation that leads a man to his artistic destiny... or is it?
At first, notable holo director Ottmar Drenthe balks at the idea of creating an advertisement for arms manufacturer Axiom Ordnance’s latest product... but when he realizes the assignment’s unlikely opportunity to create art, he is more than willing to become part of the story he was hired to tell. After all, he is Drenthe.
Ottmar Drenthe, famed holovid director, was fuming over the low reviews his latest films had gotten, when his director pinged him with an opportunity to shoot an industrial film for the Axiom Ordnance, in which he would reenact a battle. Drenthe initially refused, but his agent revealed funding for his project, Heroes of the Periphery, had dried up, and that this would give him the funds he needed. Drenthe reluctantly accepted, and was told to go to Bukari V.
Drenthe, drunk off of Brontesian brandy on the transport liner, complained to a stranger that he was reduced to doing commercials from being such a prominent artist. The stranger said his name was Eli Balfour, and that he knew he was working on a project with the Warhound walker, and the people representing him would pay double in order for him to show a commercial painting the weaknesses of the walker. He stated that the Warhound would be use as an anti-insurgency weapon and was not designed at all for combat against the zerg.
Drenthe pondered this, before realizing that he was already creating propaganda, and to create propaganda within propaganda would be an interesting challenge, and a new piece of art, and he would receive double the credits with no agent commission. He accepted, and bought Balfour a drink.
The liner arrived on Bukari V, and Drenthe met with Dario Cerulli, head of the Axiom Ordnance's operations on the planet, who showed him around. He showed him the area Drenthe would shoot, and told him the style of the advertisement they would like. This ordering around annoyed Drenthe, but he nodded and accepted. They then noticed the massive protests outside of the factory, to which Dario tried to shoo him away from. Drenthe then noticed Axiom security forces arrive and used sonic stun weapons to disperse the crowd. This excited Denthe, as this was now also a tale of labor strife, and he had recorded it all on the myriad of micro camera he kept on his clothing. They then met Balfour again, who worked for Axiom as a consultant.
The next day, Drenthe met Balfour again while he was surveying the wasteland he was going to film on. Balfour warned him that the dummy armor would not fight like dummy armor, and actually fight in full combat capacity. He stated this was to get the commercial both of them wanted, to the annoyance of Drenthe. He viewed the factories, and the prototype Warhounds in development. He talked to Dario, who revealed the speckled past of the Warhound and its development by Yakov Iliev from the SCV prototype. Drenthe was able to figure out the prototypes were stolen from him by Axiom, which he stated he would add to his story.
He asked to direct the actions of the Warhounds directly, to which Dario responded the operators would do it. Drenthe then realized that Balfour was planning to orchestrate the slaughter of two dozen Warhound pilots, and potentially countless others. He came up with a plan of his own, refusing to be a pawn of Axiom or Balfour, Drenthe decided that he would show the power of the Warhound but also of the strife of the workers on Bukari V.
He wandered out, capturing images of the worker's town at night. He met with some of the protestors, who greeted him with hostility. They eventually took him to Ayla, who was the lead protestor, and he told her about Balfour's plan to corrupt the Warhound control systems. He told her that perhaps they could work together, and a squadron of Warhounds could help them in arguing against Axion for better conditions.
The next day, filming of the battle began. It went off without Balfour's sabotage, with the Warhounds destroying aerial drones. Balfour confronted Drenthe, saying they had a deal, but Drente stated he wouldn't massacre workers. The siege tank shells deflected off of the Warhounds without going off as Balfour planned, with Ayla contacting Drenthe telling him he had saved many lives. Drenthe was not interested in this. He was making a holo.
The Warhounds made it to the siege tank line, and tore apart them and the vikings. Ayla warned Drenthe that Balfour was coming for him with a gun, and Drenthe was unarmed. Balfour then blared the facilities alarms, and demanded Drenthe be detained and the test terminated. His directors booth was shot at, but Drenthe kept recording. Balfour pointed a gun at him and accused him of corporate espionage, but a Warhound piloted by Ayla came from behind, shooting a bolt at Balfour and incinerating him.
The Warhounds then moved toward the executive complex, destroying security vehicles along the way. Drenthe reflected that while Axiom would sell many warhounds, they were about to have other problems. Ayla reported she had locked down the security systems, and the warhounds were now destroying the structures in the complex. Ayla said that he had to go, and that there was a planet-hopper nearby. He took his recordings but left his equipment, though he regretted leaving his chair behind. Drenthe said that if Ayla came to Korhal he would have her star in his holovids, to which Ayla responded that he needed to contact Yakov Iliev to tell him he got his job back at Axion. He agreed, and left the planet with the material he had, ready to create the holovid as he wanted to tell it.