The Queen of Blades

I still have Starcraft on the brain. As such I feel like talking about Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades.

kerrigan2

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.

Kerrigan

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.

kerrigan2This 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!

Remastered Marine and an essay on StarCraft

sc_genna

I was a huge fan of the internet personality Totalbiscuit (John Bain). He passed away this spring due to cancer. In his absence his Youtube and Twitch activities are being carried on by his widow, Genna. She had appeared in several of his gaming videos before (E.G. WTF is … Octodad), and they were always my favorites. The whole situation has obviously left her in a great deal of stress, so as a fan of the channel, and of her, I decided to show my support the only way I know how: by making a drawing. Keep it up, Genna!

Let’s now talk about StarCraft. Yet again we are talking about one of my favorite games, and wouldn’t ya know it, it’s a Blizzard game… My love-hate relationship with Blizzard stems from the dissonance between what the company gave me in the past, and what it has become nowadays. I know this can sound a lot like a “back in my day” argument, but personal taste aside, there are plenty of objective reasons to dislike the modern day Activision-Blizzard.

But that is off topic. I want to talk about StarCraft. A real- time strategy game that became one of the most prominent esports of its time. The expansion of the game, Brood War, is still touted to be one of the, if not the best competitive video game to date. I’ll leave the truth about that statement up to the experts, StarCraft was never that to me. I never competed in the online scene, I was there for its story.

Oh, yes! There was in fact a time when Blizzard wrote really compelling, mature stories, rather than the Saturday morning cartoons they create nowadays. StarCraft took place in the distant future, where societies of humans had broken off from Earth and created factions out in the farther sectors of space. Also inhabiting this area of space were the hive-minded Zerg, a race of giant, insect-like creatures bent on spreading all across the galaxy; and the Protoss, an ancient race of highly advanced aliens who saw themselves as superior to all others. There were no good guys here. The Zerg just wanted to consume all, the Protoss were bent on eradicating all life on Zerg infested planets indiscriminately, and the several Terran factions were just as bad as the others. Indeed, the Terran story of the game has you leaving the corrupt and incompetent Confederacy to join a militant group called the Sons of Korhal, only to find out that they too are just as vile as the ones before. This is why I found this game so intriguing. There was no single big galactic evil to overcome, just you and your buddy Jim Raynor trying to not be bad in a world of bad guys.

Not the first game, nor the expansion had any happy endings. Victory in the first game came only through the self sacrifice of the Protoss hero Tassadar. In the aftermath, the betrayed ghost operative turned infested Zerg psychic, Sarah Kerrigan enacted a plot to wipe out all other factions. Heroes like Alexei Stukov and Fenix lost there lives to betrayal. And if you have never played any of the games, than none of these names mean anything to you, but to me every mention of them brings back feelings. And the treatment of this beautifully dark and tragic story in the second game and its expansions invokes anger. I won’t go into detail here, know only that it was new Blizzard working on the story now. Characterizations were radically changed, what was once mature and interesting became dumbed down, and formulaic, relationships were altered to fit a simpler revenge story, and overall the whole thing just sucked. The game play was loved by everyone, and the multiplayer scene was huge, but as I said, the game was never that for me. But the truth is Activision Blizzard just doesn’t make games for people like me any more.

StarCraft did give me many things. Awesome gaming memories, one of the my favorite female characters in video games, beautiful music, and a fantastic story.

DeviantArt link here.