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The original game, set in the Koprulu Sector of space, was like a Greek tragedy with spaceships. It had murder, betrayal and death, followed by yet more betrayal and death. By the end of StarCraft and its expansion Brood War, most of the original heroes had been killed off.
Four years after the United Earth Directorate’s failed attack and subsequent retreat of Jim Raynor and the Protoss from Char, the Zerg homeworld, the genocidal Zerg are dormant and eerily quiet. As Raynor lies embittered and despondent, the Protoss Zeratul returns to him with an ominous message: in the future lies oblivion, and there’s only one hope – the infested human and leader of the Zerg, Sarah Kerrigan. Confused? Of course you are. Read on.
The humans of the StarCraft universe are far from perfect. They began as the tainted winners of the Guild Wars under the Human Confederacy, and end the game broken into the United Earth Directorate and the Dominion. The former is based out of Earth and attempts to keep humanity’s rule of the galaxy intact. The larger, stronger and more aggressive faction, the Dominion, is headed by Emperor Arcturus Mengsk I.
Above: Sometimes it's scary being a Terran Marine
This grumpy southerner has a penchant for monologues and has a bloodlust that led to the destruction of the original Confederacy at the hands of a demented Zerg army. On the outskirts of this mild civil war lies Raynor’s Raiders, a ragtag band of mercenaries selling banned alien artifacts to the shadowy research organization, the Moebius Foundation. The Dominion remains the dominant Terran power.
Mengsk started StarCraft as part of a band of extremists, the Sons of Korhal, and fought against what he considered a tyrannical Confederacy. After banding together with Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan (his second-in-command), he helped band together several colonies before discovering the psi-emitter – essentially Zerg bait. He used the emitter on the Confederacy’s homeworld of Tarsonis to lure billions of Zerg to the planet, destroying its defenses.
Above: Nothing like a good podium-pounding to get the blood flowing in the morning
Mengsk then betrayed Kerrigan, leaving her for dead as the planet was ravaged by the aliens. With the Confederacy in ruins, Mengsk formed the Terran Dominion. After the defeat at Char, Mengsk had a kid, Valerian, who’s the heir to the throne and a major part of StarCraft II’s plot and, in his madness, has banned alien artifacts.
Born and raised on the planet Mar Sara, Raynor began StarCraft as a local marshal, until he refused a command from the Confederacy to destroy a Zerg-infested command center and was arrested. Freed by Mengsk, he helped the Sons of Korhal liberate colonies, eventually attacked the Confederacy, and fell in love with Kerrigan. That is until Mengsk betrayed Kerrigan and Raynor failed to save her.
Above: Photographer - "Okay, Jim, now stare wistfully out at the horizon"
Four years later, Raynor lives on the Battlecruiser Hyperion with Raynor’s Raiders, making money by selling illegal alien artifacts to scientists. He begins StarCraft II a bitter man: his family and friends mostly dead, he has no money and little to live for beyond beer. He’s brought back into the fold by the Dark Templar Zeratul, who tells him that the end of the universe is near unless he works with Kerrigan once more.
Created millennia ago by the Xel’Naga (the alien race that also made the Zerg), the Protoss are introduced in StarCraft as an enemy that wrought utter devastation on any colony the Zerg attacked, in an effort to stop further infestation. The Conclave, the main power of the Protoss species, sent Commander Tassadar to look into the Zerg threat. He happened upon Zeratul, the banished and supposedly evil Dark Templar.
In discovering the Dark Templar’s ability to destroy Zerg cerebrates, Zeratul discovered their secret and led the angry, spiky aliens to infest the Protoss homeworld of Aiur with an Overmind (the controlling force behind Zerg swarms). Tassadar sacrificed himself to destroy the Overmind while Zeratul and the remaining members of the Protoss escaped to the Dark Templar world, Shakuras.
Eventually, the remaining Conclave attempted (and failed) to betray the Dark Templars, leaving them as the dominant faction of the Protoss. With no more Conclave, but rival tribes vying for power, the Protoss begin StarCraft II splintered and in the midst of a civil war.
Nomadic, mysterious and somewhat baffling, Dark Templar Zeratul is a mighty force. The Dark Templars’ strength comes from the darkness the Zerg are borne of, making them extra powerful and doubly moody. Through the events of StarCraft, Zeratul had to kill the Dark Templar matriarch, Raszagal, leaving him mentally scarred and somehow moodier.
Above: Someone's feeling cranky
On a mission some time after the events of StarCraft, he happened upon Samir Duran who was creating Zerg/Protoss hybrids, and was warned of a coming apocalyptic darkness. When StarCraft II begins he contacts Jim Raynor and tells the Terran to unite with Sarah Kerrigan once more, handing him a Xel’Naga artifact and warning him of their return. Zeratul’s place in the game is to reconcile the differences of the warring Protoss tribes in the hope that their rage will be quelled and the their entire species won’t get wiped out. Again.