Note: The title of this article is based on conjecture
The Brood War
The lull was taken advantage of by the survivors to rebuild. The Terran Dominion recovered from its losses under Arcturus Mengsk; although the alliances with the Kel-Morian Combine or Umojan Protectorate ended, the Dominion emerged as the pre-eminent terran power in the Koprulu Sector. Attempts by Raynor's Raiders to foment rebellion against the Dominion met with little success. The protoss were occupied by the rapprochement of the Khalai with the Nerazim. Integrating the two cultures proved difficult and the protoss found themselves sliding back into tribalism.
What no party knew was that another force existed to be reckoned with. In the last days of the Brood War, the Dark Templar Zeratul stumbled upon a dark moon, where, under the direction of Samir Duran, a protoss/zerg hybrid project was underway. Duran gave Zeratul a cryptic warning, that the hybrid was the harbinger of the future and the completion of a cycle. Disturbed by the encounter and plagued with the guilt of Raszagal's death in the conflict, Zeratul set off alone to search for clues as to the truth behind Duran's words.
Four Years of Peace
Over the next four years, the zerg were relatively silent. They remained on worlds they had already infested and sent out forces to explore and exploit various worlds and assimilate new species, but refrained from engaging in overt hostile actions against the terrans and protoss. only taking part in occasional skirmishes. No expeditions to zerg-controlled worlds ever returned.
The Dominion deployed new munitions in anticipation of the next conflict with the zerg. New war machines such as the thor, Banshee, and Viking were pressed into service. However, Arcturus Mengsk spent a disproportionate amount on hunting down rebels such as Jim Raynor, leaving the Dominion Fleet neglected.
The Swarm Stirs
As time went on, there were noticeable signs of the zerg's belligerent intentions. On Sorona, the zerg lay siege to Cask for months, testing the species's adaptability while the Dominion stood by and gathered data at the cost of its citizens' lives. More telling was an open attack on the world of Dead Man's Rock, one that, as Arcturus Mengsk pointed out, had to be directed. By 2504 the Dominion was well aware that the zerg was active and sent Zeta Squad to Roxara's moon to act as guinea pigs in observation of the changeling strain. The Dominion Armed Forces undertook a trio of emergency drills to assess response times and defensive capabilities.
Although more easily observed and comprehended by its denizens, the tension in the Koprulu Sector were merely a canvas for the work of greater forces. The ancient Dark Voice, and its hybrids began taking a more direct role in galactic affairs in preparation for a total and apocalyptic restructuring of Creation.
Few knew of the existence of these shadowy players; fewer realized the threat they posed. One of the cognizant few was Zeratul, a prelate of the Dark Templar. Zeratul's interest in the hybrids stretched back to the end of the Brood War when he discovered a dormant, but complete, specimen created under the direction of Samir Duran. More ominous was the specimen was merely one of many scattered throughout the galaxy. During the interbellum, the prelate sought more information on the hybrids, their creators, and their ultimate purpose.
Eventually he learned of a prophecy he believed heralded the xel'naga's return, and tracked down its fragments to Ulaan. He was met by Kerrigan, who had arrived first while searching for the prophecy. Praetor Karass, leading a band of Daelaam, tracked the Queen of Blades to Ulaan and linked up with the prelate. Kerrigan ordered the zerg to hunt her old nemesis, and Zeratul barely escaped with the fragments.
Zeratul took the prophetic fragments to Zhakul where preservers could interpret the fragments. On Zhakul, he discovered that the local Zhakul Guardians, claiming to serve a "higher power", had been corrupted by a hybrid, Maar. Zeratul's Enslave defeated the Guardians and slew Maar, a task made more difficult as Maar could drain the energies of the preservers to restore himself.
Zeratul journeyed with even greater urgency to Aiur to extract memories from the dead Overmind. There prelate learned of the Dark Voice's intentions. His greatest fears were realized, but nonetheless resolved to fight on. Of particular interest was Kerrigan's survival was required to defeat the Dark Voice. Zeratul made to disseminate the information.
The effects of the Dark Voice's work also did not fail to escape Kerrigan's notice. An unsettling hunch at the end of the Brood War only grew to be even more foreboding and oppressive during the interbellum. Though Zeratul escaped Ulaan with the prophecy, the Queen of Blades knew enough to feel there was no hope for the future was apathetic.
In the Terran Dominion, two groups worked nearly independently to acquire artifacts, and for different ends. The first was driven by official policy banning the trading of artifacts. The Dominion annexed Mar Sara from the Kel-Morian Combine shortly before the war and in the final months of peace concentrated on excavating an artifact there.
The second nominally Dominion group was secretly sponsored by Prince Valerian Mengsk, in contravention to the decree by his father, Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. Valerian used the [[Template:Moebius Foundation]] as a front to locate and acquire artifacts. The artifacts would be assembled into a xel'naga device that Valerian believed would be able to deinfest Kerrigan.
It was Kerrigan, more aware of the greater conflict than the terrans, who ultimately precipitated a sector-wide conflagration. She ordered the Swarm to invade the Koprulu Sector and scour it for the artifacts. Preparations for such a mammoth undertaking were detected by the Dominion's Satellite 1 in the Char System. The Dominion Fleet was put on alert.
Course of the War
Not long before the war's outbreak, convict Tychus Findlay was released by Arcturus Mengsk, on the condition that his freedom would be granted if he assassinated Kerrigan. Findlay was also employed by the Template:Moebius Foundation as a contact between them and Jim Raynor in an effort to retrieve the xel'naga device's components.
- Main article: Skirmish at Backwater Station
Afterward, Tychus Findlay succeeded in tracking down Raynor and made the proposition of hunting down the artifacts the Moebius Foundation sought. Raynor agreed and the Raiders successfully retrieved an artifact from a Dominion dig site. UNN put a negative spin on these actions, trying to distract its viewers from the fact that Mar Sarans truely desired independence.
- Main article: Escape from Mar Sara
These events were quickly overshadowed by the zerg invasion of the planet; the Swarm landed near the abandoned dig site and tracked the component and the Raiders back to Backwater Station. The rebels were besieged but held long enough to be evacuated by Hyperion. Mar Sara was not an isolated case. The zerg were invading the entire sector; billions were killed early on and the Swarm established itself on multiple worlds. The war had begun.
The Dominion Front
The Fringe Worlds were left to fend for themselves. The Outer Colonies were forced to seek aid from mercenaries and outlaws, but this was insufficient and the colonists began evacuating their homes in the millions for the safety of the Core Worlds. The dispossessed received little aid from the Dominion; refugee camps on Meinhoff were crowded, low on supplies, and lacked adequate medical infrastructure. As the crisis deepened, the Dominion Fleet was ordered to turn away refugee ships fleeing to the Core Worlds; the flow toward the Core Worlds lessened as resentful refugees founded new colonies and declared independence from the Dominion.
The Dominion devoted its attention toward stemming the zerg invasion. Emperor Arcturus Mengsk recalled General Horace Warfield from retirement to lead the Dominion Armed Forces. One of the general's first tasks was to lead a counter-offensive into the Sara System. Munitions production and penal recruitment increased. Penal troops were supplemented by Core World conscription, not to mention a reduced minimum age of conscription. Nonetheless, the Dominion remained on the defensive. Some worlds fell while others such as Lakius held. The First and Second Fleets were merged to protect the Core Worlds and the Dylar System was the site of one such space battle. The zerg made advances across all fronts and the Dominion military suffered heavy casualties but the Swarm's advance was slowed, largely thanks to Warfield, who led five seperate counter-attacks against the Swarm in the conflict's early stages. However, over time, it became clear that the zerg's goal was not conquest, but something else...
On the home front, survivors underwent viral testing and new austerity measures were introduced. Interplanetary shipping was brought to a standstill, authorities impounded all privately owned vessels and Mengsk declared a moratorium on interplanetary travel. During the conflict, the Dominion's populace experienced some knee-jerk reactions to the threat of the Swarm. A reported zerg sighting on Korhal turned out to be a hoax and a rumor developed that zerglings were allergic to lemon juice.
The Dominion suffered a blow to public morale via Raynor's Raiders, who had uncovered evidence of Mengsk's war crimes against Tarsonis during the Great War. The Raiders infiltrated UNN Studios on Korhal using a Dominion experimental heavy siege walker stolen from Valhalla. The rebels transmitted the information across the Dominion using UNN's own broadcast towers. The result was as hoped. Dominion citizens expressed outrage against Emperor Mengsk in riots and demonstrations. Mengsk's approval rating dropped to a record low of 14%. Heavy handed censorship and arrests followed as the Dominion attempted to stem the damage. Numerous Fringe Worlds began open revolt, while Bountiful declared its independence.
Other Terran Polities
The Kel-Morian Combine was charged with perpetuating refugee massacres; a charge which it refused. The Combine attempted to hold on to its outlying worlds, but was forced to follow the Dominion's example and abandon them when losses mounted, such as on Redstone III. The Kel-Morian military's performance was criticized by General Martin and market confidence slumped. A zerg sighting was reported on Moria but this turned out to be false.
Mercenaries and Rebels
The war worked to the advantage of independent groups. Mercenaries were in great demand and the chaos only encouraged rebels and revolutionaries. Even as it fought the zerg the Dominion continued to fight sedition through covert means and propaganda.
Gabriel Tosh, a former Dominion ghost turned anti-Dominion spectre, hoped to use the fighting to mask the acquisition of jorium, terrazine, and suitable candidates needed to augment Project Shadow Blade.
Raiding the Ancients
While the Raiders resumed their anti-Dominion activities just before the outbreak of war, it was the contract with the [[Template:Moebius Foundation]] to collect the xel'naga device's components that directed them during this phase. This was first for money, and then as a way to strike against the zerg. Jim Raynor would additionally become motivated by the prospect of deinfesting Sarah Kerrigan.[note 2]
The device consisted of five pieces scattered across the Koprulu Sector. Four pieces were in the custody of the Tal'darim custody—one in a shrine on Monlyth, one was in a xel'naga temple on the dead world of Xil, another one in a vault on the old world of Typhon XI and the last on a xel'naga worldship in the Sigma Quadrant. The Tal'darim viewed the components as holy relics and appointed themselves guardians against all thieves.
- Main article: Battle of Monlyth
The Raiders first collected a component on Mar Sara, then moved on to Monlyth where the Tal'darim stood sentinel over another component. The Zerg Swarm arrived with the same objective as the terrans, and the Raiders secured the component while the Tal'darim were forced to split their forces against both invaders.
- Main article: Battle of Xil
As the Raiders collected the components, Zeratul appeared aboard Hyperion and spoke privately with Raynor. The Nerazim was injured and seemingly being pursued;[note 3] the prelate just stayed long enough to give the terran an ihan crystal recounting his discoveries since Ulaan, and a warning that Kerrigan's survival was necessary.
- Main article: Battle of Tyrador VIII
The Swarm struggled to keep up with Raynor's recovery effort. Eventually, the Queen of Blades struck directly at the [[Template:Moebius Foundation]]'s base on Tyrador VIII, the defenses of which had been criticized for lack of readiness. However, the Raiders intervened and insured the zerg failed to gain access to the Foundation's data cores and research, which would have enabled the zerg to locate the other pieces. Shortly afterward the zerg judged the race to the components as lost, and the impetus went out of the Sector-wide invasion.
- Main article: Battle of Typhon
The Tal'darim guarded on Typhon XI. The Raiders arrived to collect it, but both sides were interrupted by a supernova. The Tal'darim recognized the Raiders' interest, but specific preparations to stop the terrans failed. The Raiders made off with the artifact piece.
- Main article: Battle of the Worldship
The Raiders, now backed by a fleet of Dominion battlecruisers, moved on to the final piece. It was located in a vault on a worldship in the Sigma Quadrant. The worldship was defended by xel'naga-devised defenses. Despite massive Tal'darim resistance including a powerful mothership commanded by their executor, the Raiders were able to defeat them and make off with the final artifact piece.
"Because I can offer you what you've always wanted. A chance to rescue Sarah Kerrigan..."
- Raynor confronts Valerian Mengsk(src)
With component recovery continuing apace, Prince Valerian Mengsk decided it was time to reveal his involvement with the [[Template:Moebius Foundation]] to the Raiders. He went in place of Foundation representatives to a rendezvous with the rebel flagship, Hyperion, aboard the Dominion flagship Bucephalus. The rebels were taken aback by the appearance of Bucephalus and its battlecruiser escort and immediately attacked. Raynor boarded Bucephalus expecting to find and kill Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. Instead, he was doubly surprised to be met not only by the prince, but also the prince's offer of further cooperation.
Valerian discussed the goal of deinfesting Kerrigan with the xel'naga device. This meant fighting the zerg on Char, and the prince wanted Raynor's assistance to do so; while Valerian could muster the Dominion's military for the assault, only the rebel had knowledge of the Queen of Blade's methods and tactics.[note 4]
Raynor agreed to cooperate over the objections of his crew. Matt Horner and Tychus Findlay warned against allowing personal feelings for Kerrigan to draw the rebels into a Dominion trap.[note 5] The final component was retrieved from a Sigma Quadrant Worldship, a derelict xel'naga worldship.
The Raiders were hardly reciprocal to this alliance—to those less acquainted with the rebel leader, he had simply abandoned the revolution. Raynor argued the Queen of Blades was a dire threat to terran freedom and the temporary alliance with the Dominion was the best opportunity to deal with it. The crew was only convinced after Raynor beat a drunken Findlay in a bar fight. The Raiders were impressed by Raynor's resurgent conviction and doubts about his leadership were dispelled.
Battle of Char
- Raynor addresses his crew(src)
With the xel'naga device now completed, it had to be brought within range of the Queen of Blades on Char. Valerian requisitioned half of the Dominion Fleet without immediately informing the emperor for the assault. General Horace Warfield was placed in command; the general was not keen on working with the Raiders. Warfield planned a frontal assault against Raynor's advice.
The initial landing was a disaster and the terrans suffered heavy casualties. Only Raynor's initiative allowed a foothold to be secured. General Warfield's ship, Helios, was shot down. Warfield was rescued by the Raiders, and marking the beginning of a much improved relationship between the general and Raynor. Operational command was transferred from a wounded Warfield to Raynor.[note 6]
The invaders were in a precarious position. A quick push to the primary hive was essential before they were overwhelmed by the zerg.[note 7] There was time to launch one secondary attack to weaken the hive's defenses. Tychus Findlay recommended disabling the nydus network near the hive, while General Warfield was more concerned with striking enemy air power.
Raynor chose the target and the secondary attack was a success. The terrans struck quickly at the primary hive's weakened defenses and emplaced the xel'naga device at the base of the hive. The remaining terran troops dug in and held off the Swarm's attempt to take the device. The device's fully-charged energy burst crippled the Swarm in the area and deinfested Kerrigan.
Arcturus Mengsk made one final attempt to finish Kerrigan off. As she lay helpless, he ordered Tychus Findlay to kill her. Raynor, seeing this, used his own armor to intercept the bullet, then shot Findlay. The former convict did not survive.
Although Kerrigan was defeated, victory had come at a heavy cost and Arcturus Mengsk remained secure on his throne. A de-infested Kerrigan founded a new zerg empire and protoss civilization began to fracture into splinter factions.
- ↑ Conversation with Matt Horner after StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty cinematic, "Escape from Mar Sara."
- ↑ Scene proceeding StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty cinematic, "Heir Apparent".
- ↑ Conversation with Matt Horner after StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty cinematic, "Zeratul's Warning."
- ↑ Scene proceeding StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty cinematic, "Heir Apparent".
- ↑ Conversation with Matt Horner and Tychus Findlay after StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty cinematic, "Heir Apparent."
- ↑ Conversation with Horace Warfield after StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty mission, "Gates of Hell".
- ↑ Conversations with Tychus Findlay after StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty mission, "Gates of Hell".