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Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft)

Kerrigan in concept art by Chris Metzen.

Sarah Louise Kerrigan,[1] Queen of Blades, is a major character and the predominant antagonist in Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft series of video games and novels. The character was created by Chris Metzen and James Phinney,[2] and her appearance was originally designed by Chris Metzen.[2] Kerrigan is voiced by Glynnis Talken Campbell in the real-time strategy video game StarCraft[3] and its expansion Brood War.[4]

Kerrigan originally appears in StarCraft as a twenty-six year old female Terran psychic, trained as an expert espionage agent and assassin both physically and mentally.[5] Initially the second-in-command of the Sons of Korhal, a revolutionary movement headed by Arcturus Mengsk against an oppressive Confederacy of Man, she is captured by the insectoid Zerg and infested, turning her into a human/Zerg hybrid completely under the control of the Zerg hive mind. She becomes one of their most powerful agents and eventually seeks dominance over the galaxy.[6] In the strategy games, Kerrigan's in-game unit changes to mimic her transformation. Kerrigan's life before her infestation is further explored in the novels Uprising and Liberty's Crusade while Queen of Blades elaborates on her infested character. As one of the major characters of the series, Kerrigan has been critically praised for her believability and character depth; she is ranked as one of the fifty greatest female video game characters ever by Tom's Games,[7] and a survey by GameSpot put Kerrigan as the second best villain in video gaming.[8]

Character designEdit

The character of Kerrigan was created by Blizzard Entertainment's Chris Metzen and James Phinney,[5] with her physical appearance designed by Metzen, although other Blizzard artists, Samwise Didier[9] and Glen Rane,[10] have exhibited influence on her portrayal in later works. Kerrigan was not originally intended to be a major character, but was only meant to appear on a single level. Initially based around the character Tanya Adams in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series, Kerrigan was named after Nancy Kerrigan, who at the time was involved in a feud with Tonya Harding. However, Kerrigan's character grew on the developers, who decided to give a far greater role to the throw-away character.[11]

Many of the aspects of Kerrigan's infested character, especially her hair, are inspired by the Greek gorgon Medusa.[12] At one point in StarCraft, Kerrigan declares to the Protoss dark templar Zeratul that "her stare can reduce him to ashes"; one of the powers reputed to Medusa was that her gaze could turn men to stone. In addition, prior to its announcement StarCraft II was codenamed "Medusa".[13] Kerrigan's self-proclaimed title is the Queen of Blades, which is gradually introduced to other characters to the point where it is synonymous with her. Chris Metzen has explained that it was meant to be an honorific title; a blade is a weapon designed to rip enemies to pieces, making the title fitting for Kerrigan, evolved to be the greatest agent of the Zerg Overmind.[14]

In an interview, Kerrigan's voice actor, the author and voice artist Glynnis Talken Campbell, described Kerrigan's change in personality during her infestation as "going from good girl to bad girl", and has said it was more of a change in personality than voice when providing her voice work. Kerrigan's voice also consisted of many grunts, growls and screams, and her unique infested voice was provided by doubling up Talken Campbell's voice. She has also claimed that, were she to pen a StarCraft film or novel, she would rather have Kerrigan's relationship with Jim Raynor—the series' primary male protagonist—portrayed as one of admiration, sacrifice and "them saving each other's butts" than actual romance due to StarCraft's action-oriented nature.[15] Talken Campbell has also confirmed that she will return to voice the character in StarCraft II.[16]

AttributesEdit

PersonalityEdit

Having been conscripted into the Confederate ghost program as a child due to her psychic potential, Kerrigan is described in the manual for StarCraft as never being given the chance for a normal life. Her rigorous training and the use of neural implants to control her mental abilities leave her a withdrawn and introverted woman.[5] Despite this, Kerrigan exhibits qualities of courage and daring,[12] and is an effective tactician. She is also described as a moral character, exemplified in her opposition to Arcturus Mengsk using the Zerg against the Confederacy.[17] However, after her transformation by the Zerg, Kerrigan is freed from her inhibitions—as well as her neural conditioning—and indulges her darker traits. Her attitude is described by the publication WomenGamers.Com as "spiteful, conniving, mocking, double-crossing [and] flamboyant",[12] which when combined with her natural intelligence makes her extremely calculating and manipulative. Kerrigan has also become far more physically aggressive, relishing in close quarters combat so much that one point in the novel Queen of Blades she begins absent-mindedly licking the blood of her victims from her fingers.[18]

DepictionEdit

Prior to her infestation, Kerrigan is described as being a graceful and deadly woman, exceedingly agile and athletic,[19] possessing jade-green eyes and brilliant red hair usually worn as a ponytail.[20] The novel Queen of Blades describes her facial features as being too strong to be classified as beautiful, but instead as striking and completely fitting for her personality.[21] Kerrigan is rarely seen out of her armour, a form-fitting hostile environment suit specifically designed for ghost operatives and equipped with a personal cloaking device,[21] but when off-duty she is described as wearing a soft work shirt, worn cotton pants with a dusty leather jacket and high leather boots. Even then, it is uncommon for Kerrigan to be unarmed: she is always equipped with at least a combat knife.[22]

Kerrigan's infestation by the Zerg signals a major overhaul for her appearance. Despite maintaining her stature, build and facial features, she is described in Queen of Blades as having mottled green skin, covered in a glossy protective carapace. Kerrigan's eyes are bright yellow as opposed to her natural green, and her hair has transformed into stalks, described as being segmented like an insect's legs.[23] Kerrigan's fingers are stated to now contain extendable claws.[24] A pair of wings have also grown from her back, consisting of elongated segmented spikes that reach down to the level of her knees.[25] Kerrigan is seen using these wings as a melee weapon, literally tearing opponents apart.[26]

AppearancesEdit

StarCraftEdit

The first appearance of Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft comes half way through the first chapter of the game, in which she and Jim Raynor are tasked by Arcturus Mengsk, the leader of the militant rebel group Sons of Korhal, with starting a revolution on the fringe colony world of Antiga Prime by assassinating the presiding officers of the ruling Confederacy of Man.[27] In response, the Confederacy blockades the planet as the insectoid Zerg Swarm begin to invade the surface, and Mengsk orders a skeptical Kerrigan with planting a psi emitter—stolen Confederate technology that attracts Zerg to it—to lure the Zerg into breaking the blockade, allowing the Sons of Korhal to escape.[28] The Sons of Korhal then directly attack the Confederate capital world Tarsonis. During the attack, Mengsk, without consulting his officers, uses the psi emitters to ensure the complete destruction of the planet by the Zerg. The Zerg are subsequently attacked by the Protoss, a race of psionic aliens who attempt to stop further Zerg advancement and conquest. Kerrigan is sent with a detachment of troops to stop the Protoss from interfering with the Zerg rampage, but her position is overrun by the Zerg and she is abandoned by Mengsk.[29] As Raynor deserts Mengsk in disgust, Kerrigan is presumed dead.[30]

However, Kerrigan does not perish, and as the second chapter begins the player is charged by the Zerg hive mind, the Overmind, to protect a chrysalis it claims will be its greatest creation. The chrysalis eventually hatches on the Zerg world Char to reveal Kerrigan having been infested with Zerg DNA, making her a powerful hybrid of both Zerg and Terran genetics. Raynor, drawn to Char by psychic dreams cast by Kerrigan during her incubation, fails in an attempt to rescue her but is spared as Kerrigan does not see him as a threat.[31] After breaking into a Terran science vessel and reversing the neural conditioning from her training as a psionic agent,[32] Kerrigan is able to sense the presence of the Protoss fleet commander Tassadar on Char. Tassadar diverts Kerrigan's attention long enough for his companion Zeratul to assassinate Zasz, one of the Zerg commanders, with psionic energies the Zerg are unfamiliar with.[33] This causes a temporary mental link between Zeratul and the Overmind, who uses this momentary contact with Zeratul's memories to locate the Protoss homeworld Aiur. The Overmind immediately launches the bulk of the Zerg Swarm in an invasion, although Kerrigan remains behind on Char to hunt down Tassadar and Zeratul.[34]

StarCraft: Brood WarEdit

Sarah Kerrigan Refined (StarCraft)

Kerrigan's infested appearance has been refined by other concept artists since her initial depiction.

Kerrigan's character is more central to Brood War, as in the wake of the Overmind's death at the hands of Tassadar in the conclusion of StarCraft, Kerrigan regains her independence from the Zerg hive mind and dedicates her efforts to becoming the sole leader of the Zerg Swarm. She presents herself on the Protoss colony world Shakuras, where she informs Zeratul and the Protoss of a new Overmind growing on Char,[35] manipulating them into destroying Zerg forces running rival to her goals.[36] She also gains an ally in an apparently infested Samir Duran, who infiltrates the newly arrived forces of the United Earth Directorate and attempts to sabotage their mission to enslave the Zerg and seize control of the sector of the galaxy. However, the UED is successful in capturing the new Overmind, and Kerrigan exploits the threat of the UED to forge an alliance with Mengsk, Raynor and his new Protoss allies, turning around the war against the UED. However, Kerrigan quickly betrays this alliance and strikes at the armies of Raynor and Mengsk, heavily damaging both groups.[37] Accompanied by Duran, Kerrigan returns to Shakuras to abduct the Protoss leader Raszagal, using her to blackmail Zeratul into killing the new Overmind on Char, after which all Zerg fall under Kerrigan's control.[38] Zeratul attempts to rescue Raszagal, but kills her when he realizes her mind has been destroyed by Kerrigan's brainwashing. Kerrigan, surprised by his actions, allows him to live.[39] Soon after, Kerrigan's position on Char is attacked by a vengeful Protoss fleet, the remnants of the UED's invasion force and a mercenary fleet commanded by Mengsk. Despite being outnumbered, Kerrigan's forces prevail, crippling her enemies and eradicating the UED fleet, thereby securing a dominant position in the sector.[40]

StarCraft IIEdit

Kerrigan is to appear in StarCraft II, and as such is visible in several trailers as well as in concept art. At the BlizzCon event in August 2007, Chris Metzen explained that in the years after Brood War, Kerrigan relocates to Char, pulling back most of the Zerg, and has since been quiet. She has the power to wipe out all her enemies but has not, creating a tense state of peace in the sector. Metzen also indicated an interest in exploring if there was any humanity left in Kerrigan or if she is beyond redemption in her current state.[14] In a special interview with Chris Metzen by the site StarCraft Legacy, it was revealed that Kerrigan's withdrawal has little to do with any suspicion she has of Duran, who is revealed towards the end of Brood War to be conducting secret experiments on creating a Protoss/Zerg hybrid;[41] she does not know much about him, but in the time after Brood War she is beginning to piece together the puzzle surrounding his motives.[42] At Blizzcon 2008, Kerrigan made two brief appearances in cinematic trailers, one during an attack on a Terran city that was captured on video, and again in a series of caverns where Zeratul was studying ancient runes; in the latter, Kerrigan implies she has been waiting for his arrival.

Other appearancesEdit

Kerrigan appears in several StarCraft novels that greatly expand her backstory before the first StarCraft game. The novel Uprising portrays Kerrigan's training as a ghost assassin from an early age, where she is subjected to intense psychological abuse from her Confederate trainer, Lieutenant Rumm. When she was a young girl, an accident, most likely involving her powers, kills her mother and puts her father in a vegetative state. Consequently, Kerrigan is terrified to use her psionic abilities.[43] As a result, Kerrigan refuses Rumm's demands to show her power, even when he threatens to kill her father. Kerrigan is eventually subdued with mental implants and used as a top Confederate assassin until she is rescued by Arcturus Mengsk.[44] Kerrigan is also given a love interest in Somo Hung, one of the Sons of Korhal marines, but he is killed in the course of the novel.[45]

The novels Liberty's Crusade and Queen of Blades provide novelisations for Kerrigan's actions in Episodes I and II of StarCraft respectively. Liberty's Crusade develops the implied relationship between Jim Raynor and Kerrigan,[46] while Queen of Blades serves to demonstrate Kerrigan's complete transformation by the Zerg, her removal of her inhibitions and morality and its effect on her former love, Raynor.[47]

In addition, Kerrigan briefly appears in Gabriel Mesta's Shadow of the Xel'Naga, set between StarCraft and Brood War, in which she attempts to secure a Xel'Naga artifact on the independent colony world Bhekar Ro, but fails when it eradicates her forces.[48] Kerrigan is also observed in Shadow Hunters, the second novel in The Dark Templar Saga, a trilogy that acts as a precursor to StarCraft II. After sensing a nexus of joined human minds caused by protagonist Jake Ramsey at the end of the first novel Kerrigan sends Zerg to its location, infesting the half-dead body of a Dominion-funded black marketeer, Ethan Stewart.[49] As the attack is the first Zerg activity for years, it inadvertently raises the suspicions of Arcturus Mengsk, who wonders what could have motivated it.[50]

ReceptionEdit

Kerrigan's character was received with positive reception from both critics and fans. The online publication WomenGamers.Com described the character as "one of the most convincingly tragic and enjoyably "evil women"... ever seen in a computer game", citing that although Kerrigan could easily be classified as a "bad girl stereotype", her troubled and conflicted life give her more complexity than it might first seem, resulting in the character eliciting "both sympathy and hatred from the player". The site also gives high praise to the quality of Talken Campbell's voice acting, rating the character with a score of 8.4/10.[12] In their review of StarCraft, IGN drew note to the evolution of Kerrigan's character through the story, labelling it as unforgettable and describing her transformation as "chilling".[51]

A reader's poll by GameSpot put Kerrigan as the second best villain in a video game. The survey compliments the character for Kerrigan's drastic transformation, her fierceness and her manipulative political abilities as well as giving commendations to Talken Campbell's voice acting.[8] Kerrigan was also rated as one of the fifty greatest female characters in the history of video games by Tom's Games, describing her "sexy, sinister and sympathetic" personality as amounting to one of the "most fascinatingly complex and memorable characters of all time".[7]

External linksEdit


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