Courtesy of neural resocialization, the exact details of Melnikov's life are hazy.
Melnikov was born on the religious colony of Bountiful, situated away from the influence of the Terran Confederacy. At the age of nine, he greeted the Bradlaws, among who was Melani Bradlaw, who was a year younger than him. At first, he took little notice of her. Six years later however, when she began to go through adolescence, the formerly shy girl caught his attention. Melnikov was the first to approach her, the two developing a solid friendship.
At the age of nineteen, Melnikov's prospects were looking good. He had just graduated and his father's agriplots were highly productive. The possibility had been raised of Ardo receiving forty acres at the end of the homestead. Given his good prospects, Melnikov managed to summon enough courage to propose to Bradlaw (half seriously, but with completely serious intent). His dream was to live a long, peaceful life with her.
Whether Bradlaw would have accepted or not was something that Melnikov was never able to find out. Helaman Township's siren wailing and fireballs descending from the sky hardly left room for normal interaction. As such, he and Bradlaw ran to the township, hoping to find Melnikov's uncle Dez. Along with hundreds of others, they made it to the center of the township, only to find themselves under attack by the zerg. Confederate Wraiths managed to inflict damage on the Swarm, but it was little more than a holding action, only enough for a dropship to descend.
Keeping Bradlaw close, Melnikov headed for the dropship. Although they reached the dropship, Melnikov could not stop three hydralisks from grabbing Bradlaw, dragging her out of his reach. Almost simultaneously, the dropship took off, stripping Melnikov of his home, his life and his love.
- Confederate technician(src)
Melnikov was attached to the 417th Confederate Marine Platoon of the Confederate Marine Corps and shipped to Mar Sara, landing at its starport. While going through the register, he lost consciousness, confronted by the sight of rows of resocialization tanks. No matter; only "a few adjustments" had to be made, Melnikov thus being subject to an extreme case of neural resocialization (although had likely undergone the process before). Melnikov later emerged, disorientated, but ready to fight and die for the Confederacy.
Along with the rest of the platoon, Melnikov was briefed by Lieutenant L.Z. Breanne on their mission, namely to support the Confederacy evacuation at Bunker Complex 3847, recon for enemy (zerg) activity and "pick up a little bauble that command lost on the way." To this end, he and the platoon boarded the Valkyrie Vixen (a dropship) and roared off. Arriving at the outpost, Melnikov became acquainted with Sergeant Jon Littlefield, who would be his squad leader for the mission to the town of Oasis below it. Melnikov was assigned to Second Squad, serving alongside fellow marine privates Alley, Bernelli and Xiang, along with the firebats Cutter and Ekart.
Arriving at the bunker complex, Melnikov and his squad headed north. The progression was interrupted however by Melnikov falling down a zerg shaft, losing contact with his squad. He was not deprived of company however, a horde of zerglings rushing forward to greet him. Using his C-14 Gauss Rifle with precision, he gunned them down, yet for Melnikov, it was not a victory. He had robbed living creatures of their lives for the first time in his own, an act that, while something that training had prepared him for, went against everything that his upbringing had taught him. He began to break down emotionally, fortunately interrupted by his fellow marines finding him and bringing him to the surface.
After being debriefed by Breanne, Melnikov was left to help deal with the results of his alerting the zerg to the platoon's presence, said results being every zerg in the area bearing down on them. Killing zerg was no longer a problem and Melnikov performed the task aptly, although it also came to detonating Private Wabowski's plasma tanks, killing both the firebat and the zerg tearing him apart. Taking a human life was still something that brought grievance, a fact that Cutter rubbed in, his previous cordial relationship with Melnikov becoming far more strained.
By this stage the objective had been recovered (along with a female unconscious civilian), Melnikov helping Littlefield carry the former. Melnikov and the surviving marines fought their way through the zerg to the bunker complex, the zerg hounding them every step of the way. Climbing up the cliff face to the station was no easy task, while the zerg had no problems. Salvation would come in the form of a nuclear strike, eradicating the swarm in an instant. Free from pursuit, the platoon made its way up to the outpost.
Melnikov had survived his first day of combat. Many had not.
Completely abandoned apart from Sergeant Marcus Jans, the Confederate outpost was hardly welcoming. Regardless, Melnikov, along with Littlefield and Cutter was assigned to deposit the bauble and civilian, Melnikov being assigned to guard both. Left alone, the woman soon regained consciousness. Formal interaction quickly turned into something else. To Melnikov, her resemblance to Melani was unmistakable...
To Melnikov's grief, that was not the case, a fact that the woman made abundantly clear. Not only were there key differences in appearance, but her name was actually Merdith Jernic. However, the eerie experience did not end there, Jernic somehow knowing vague details of Melnikov's past; a past that she claimed was a lie. Even the revelation that the bauble was a psi emitter (a device used to lure in the zerg) or that Jernic was a member of the Sons of Korhal did not faze him. Melnikov wanted the truth, one which Jernic gave to him, instructing Melnikov to inform her of what had happened. He did so, Jernic pointing out inconsistencies in his account, his memory differing from what he had previously believed (marines often appearing in place of the zerg). Slowly, the truth dawned on him. It was not the zerg who had stripped him of his former life. It was the Confederacy.
- Ardo Melnikov(src)
Things went downhill for Melnikov from here, the knowledge that his entire past could be a lie not going down well with him. Things did not shape up for the platoon either, courtesy of a mutalisk attack, one which cost them dearly. Robbed of transport and the Confederacy evacuation in its last stages, the chances of getting off Mar Sara had become significantly reduced, given the fact that he saw there were not as many Confederate dropships in sight as the number present during his first day in Mar Sara. In the chaos, Jernic managed to slip out though Melnikov caught up to her. She informed him that the Sons of Korhal were bringing in their own transports to evacuate the planet. The cities however, could not be salvaged, given the speed of the zerg. Grasping the psi emitter however, Melnikov realized that they could be slowed down.
It took some effort but Melnikov's plan was eventually accepted (over Cutter's objections); use the psi emitter to lure the zerg in and save thousands of lives with their own. To Melnikov, facing death was not that difficult. His memories unlocked, lessons of the afterlife and the peace that awaited him trickled into his mind, filling him with resolve. He would need it too, considering that the zerg arrived early.
With Jernic and the remnants of the platoon, Melnikov fired from a bunker, helping keep the zerg at bay. Eventually they were forced to retreat to the inner perimeter. To keep the bunker operational, Jans suited up in an SCV, Melnikov and Cutter helping him in. However, hydralisks threatened to take the SCV out, by which stage, only Melnikov, Jernic and Bernelli were still alive. To buy time, Melnikov stormed out, keeping the hydralisks at bay.
As the last of his ammunition ran out, Melnikov looked up, seeing the Sons of Korhal transports making their way off the planet. They would never hear his name nor sing songs to praise him. He alone would know of his triumph. As the darkness closed over him, one which would lead to his almost certain death at the hands of the zerg, Melnikov smiled at his last thought. The contrails of the escaping ships were all golden...
Melnikov's personality was shaped mainly by his Christian upbringing, a background which had both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, his sense of right and wrong gave him a strong moral center, evidenced by his willingness to lay down his life to save the lives of others. On the other, it could be said to have given him oversensitivity to aspects such as death, evidenced when he first gunned down a zergling. Towards the end of his service he took on the 'natural leader' archetype, suggesting the plan to lure the zerg in and how best the complex could be defended.
Despite his background, Melnikov still possessed a strong desire for vengeance against the zerg, at least early in his 'career'. He also possessed a rather sarcastic demeanor, though this was only noticeable in his streams of thought rather than voicing such comments.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Hickman, Tracy (May 21, 2002). StarCraft: Speed of Darkness. Simon & Schuster (Pocket Star). ISBN 978-0671-04150-2.
- ↑ 2010-09-21, Galaxy Archives - StarCraft: Speed of Darkness. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2010-09-24