I still have Starcraft on the brain. As such I feel like talking about Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades.
A while ago, before this website existed, I did a number of tribute drawings for my personal five most influential female characters in gaming when I was young. Kerrigan was one of them.
Starcraft is a sci-fi story that takes place in a far future setting, where certain human colonies in space had broken off from the home world, and taken on lives of their own. The Terrans share that sector of space with two other alien species: the insectoid, hive-minded Zerg; and the ancient, far advanced Protoss. Their are no real good guys in this story, nor any single, world threatening villains. Almost all factions in the sector are full of jerks, and all you can do is try to stay alive while being as little of a jerk yourself as you can. For this reason, Starcraft was probably the most mature story in a video game I experienced as a child.
Sarah Kerrigan was a psychic special-ops soldier, known as a Ghost, fighting for a militant rebel group known as the Sons of Korhal. Arcturus Mengsk, the group’s leader was set on overthrowing the Confederacy, the ruling power of the sector. He helped rescue Sarah from a life of being experimented on by the Confederacy, and so earned her loyalty. Later Mengsk would lure hordes of Zerg to ravage Confederate planets, and leave Kerrigan behind to die. His methods would earn him the position of Emperor. However, Kerrigan did not die at the hands of the Zerg. Rather they transfigured her into a Zerg-Human hybrid, unshackled her psychic powers, and tied her to the Zerg Overmind’s will. When the Protoss forces later destroyed the Overmind, Kerrigan was released, free to get revenge on all who wronged her.
No matter how hard the writers of Starcraft II would later try, Sarah Kerrigan is not a redeemable character, nor is she a tragic hero. She is a villain, plain and simple. While under Zerg control the Protoss Templar, Tassadar used her predictability against her. “You are your own worst enemy.” he told her. And she took that lesson to heart. Once freed she hatched a plan to destroy the Overmind for good, and get vengeance on Mengsk. She united the Terran and Protoss factions of the sector against the recently arrived United Earth Directorate forces, only to whirl around and betray her pawns once they had outlived their use. She killed Mengsk’s best military leader, and left him to rule what little rubble there was left of his old empire.
“Oh, come on, Arcturus. Did you really think I’d allow you to come into power again? You practically fed me to the Zerg on Tarsonis! You’re directly responsible for the hell I’ve been through! Did you honestly think I’d let you get away with that?“
“But you said revenge was secondary to defeating the UED!“
“I lied. I liberated this planet because it was the UED’s primary staging point, not because I was under any obligation to you. I used you to destroy the Psi Disrupter. And now that I’ve got my Broods back, you’re no longer necessary for my plans. I think I’ll leave you here, Arcturus, among the ashes of your precious Dominion. I want you to live to see me rise to power. And I want you to remember in your most private moments that it was you who turned me loose in the first place.“
In the same day she would also kill Fenix, a Protoss warrior who fell in battle, and was placed into a mechanical body, called a Dragoon, so he could continue to fight. He had proven to be a resourceful warrior, even in his weaker state. So he too needed to be dealt with.
“This is a betrayal, most foul, Kerrigan! We were fools to have gone along with this charade!“
“You’re right Fenix. I used you to get the job done, and you played along just like I knew you would. You Protoss are all so headstrong and predictable, you’re your own worst enemies.“
“That’s ironic. I can remember Tassadar teaching you a very similar lesson on Char.“
“I took that lesson to heart, Praetor. Now, are you ready to die a second time?“
“The Khala awaits me, Kerrigan. And although I am prepared to face my destiny, you’ll not find me easy prey!“
“Than that shall be your epitaph!“
With Fenix dead, Mengsk’s empire in ruin, the UED fleet crumbling, and her former close friend, Jim Raynor swearing revenge, the Queen of Blades had insured her position.
“It is done, Cerebrate. They’ve all been destroyed. Let us return to Tarsonis to rest. For the first time since my transfiguration I am wearied of the slaughter.“
As I mentioned, Starcraft II would continue to try and strip Kerrigan of her complexity, her independence, her character, and any clothes she wore previously. She was retconned into being in a romantic relationship with Raynor, who would go on a mission to cleanse her of her Zerg transfusion and her evil intent simultaneously. But as far as I am concerned none of that happened. It could not. No magic artifact could undo the Queen of Blades, because no one made her either. She may have been betrayed by Mengsk and infested by the Zerg, but all she did after, she did of her own free will. She slaughtered millions, ravaged worlds, used and betrayed those once close to her, and all without the slightest sign of regret (excluding perhaps that one line above).
She is no hero. But she is easily one of the most influential female character in gaming from my childhood, and I maintain: in my eyes the most badass villaness, strike that, villan in gaming to this day. The heroines of my childhood showed me the good that strong women had within them. Kerrigan is a constant reminder to me of the power they have at their disposal, should they ever give in to their own lust for power and payback.
“You see, at this point… I’m pretty much the Queen Bitch of the Universe. And not all your little soldiers or space ships will stand in my way again.”
DeviantArt link here!