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StarCraft: Evolution

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"It's been about a year since StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void concluded the epic saga of Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, and the war against Amon. You've devoured the latest missions in Nova Covert Ops, but you want to know more about what’s next for the Koprulu sector. Can Valerian Mengsk lead the Dominion to an enlightened new age? How will the protoss recover from the devastating loss of the Khala? What's Abathur been up to, anyway? All these questions will be answered in Timothy Zahn's new novel, StarCraft: Evolution, which releases on November 8 from Del Rey Books."

- Book description(src)

Evolution
Evolution Cover1
Author(s)

Timothy Zahn

Publisher

Del Rey Books

Published

November 8, 2016[1]

Format

Hardcover, e-book

ISBN 10

0425284735

ISBN 13

978-0425284735

StarCraft: Evolution is a StarCraft novel written by Timothy Zahn. It takes place after StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops,[2] and deals with the relationship between the three major powers of the Koprulu sector after the conflict.[3]

DescriptionEdit

Award-winning author Timothy Zahn pens the latest chapter in the stunning StarCraft saga, building on the game’s rich legacy to create an unforgettable new story.

After nearly a decade of brutal warfare, three mighty factions—the enigmatic protoss, the savage zerg, and the terrans, humanity’s descendants in the sector—have entered a cease-fire, but the peace is tenuous at best. When the sudden restoration of an incinerated planet is brought to light, tensions erupt. Neutrality swings back to hostility, and old enemies are accused of developing biological weapons to reignite the bitter conflict.

An expedition of terran and protoss soldiers and researchers is deployed to investigate the mysterious zerg planet and its inhabitants’ intentions. But the lush alien landscape is host to other denizens, creatures shrouded in shadow, and should they be unleashed, they will change the fate of the entire galaxy.[4]

SummaryEdit

At the sixth anniversary of the end war, marine and Master Sergeant Foster "Whist" Cray sat on an Augustgrad rooftop, reflecting on his service in the Second Great War and End War. He is joined by Lieutenant Dennis "Dizz" Halkman, a reaper who joins him in the reminiscing. The two realize they both served in the battle of Northwoods Forest, and before Halkman leaves he tells Cray to signal in a group of nearby reapers who are making errors in their training exercise. Cray does so, but the reaper squadron surrounds him, and Sergeant Stilson Blumquist, leader of the squad attempts to discipline Cray for embarrassing him. Before a fight could break out, Halkman returns, and uses his rank to demand Blumquist returns to his training exercise. Cray and Halkman then go inside for drinks.

Meanwhile, at the new Ghost Academy in Augustgrad, ghost Tanya Caulfield reflects on how she just resigned from the Ghost Program, and that it would only be a few days before it was officially processed. She felt that she was not being utilized as she wanted, as her psionic power of pyrokinesis was deemed too risky to lose on the frontlines. Caulfield psionically contacts her friend Ulavu, an exiled protoss researcher working for the Terran Dominion, before going to bed. However, she then realizes that Ulvau is not in the base. Caulfield contacts him, and Ulvau revealed he was in a bar named Dante's Circle, meeting old Chau Sarans remembering the loss of their planet twelve years ago. Caulfield took a hoverbike and sped to the bar, finding him surrounded by an angry crowd. Most were too afraid of Ulvau to move, except for one large drunk. Caulfield attempted to calm him and dissolve the situation, but he nearly attacked them both in a rage. In response, she tossed a bottle of liquid at the drunk, using her pyrokinesis to heat it to just under 50 degrees Celsius, enough to cause slight burning and stun him without any permanent damage. While he was distracted, the two escaped.

Meanwhile, in Korhal Palace, Emperor Valerian Mengsk underwent diplomatic negotiations with Umojan Protectorate Envoy Louise DuPre. She stated that though the Dominion was undergoing food shortages, droughts and massive troubles rebuilding from the End War, the Umojan Protectorate still saw the Dominion as a threat and would not aid them. The negotiations were interrupted by the arrival of a zerg leviathan in the Korhal system. Valerian dismissed the meeting, and went to his war room "the Bunker." There he, Admiral Matt Horner, Colonel Abram Cruikshank and Major Vitkauskas discussed the situation. The leviathan was sending transmissions on an old United Earth Directorate valkyrie frequency. On it, a queen named Mukav stated that Overqueen Zagara requested Valerian's presence on the world of Gystt, and that it was under attack by the Daelaam under Hierarch Artanis. This was curious, as Gystt was purified by the protoss soon after the destruction of Chau Sara. Valerian and his aids were skeptical of Zagara's intentions, but decided to investigate. Cruikshank ordered six battlecruisers, including the Hyperion, the 934th Marines unit, several detachments of reapers and his own goliath and warhound unit to support the Emperor should the talks go sour and it be a trap.

Emperor Valerian arrived to find that the planet of Gystt had been completely revitalized, and was now a lush world full of life. They found Hierarch Artanis and his fleet prepared to purify the planet. Valerian opened communications with Zagara, who stated that she wished to renew life on Dominion and Daelaam worlds the same way she had done to Gystt. Artanis and Valerian both were skeptical of her true intentions, and she offered to meet them down on the surface. After some debating, they agreed, on the condition that a survey team also be send around the planet to ensure her intentions were true. Zagara agreed.

Colonel Cruikshank set up a team to study the planet. Halkman and Cray, both being the only two with jungle combat experience, were picked, with Halkman's higher rank making him leader. In addition, Ulavu was chosen due to his knowledge of the protoss and zerg, and he stated he would so long as Caulfield was allowed to come too. Though she was unofficially resigned, Caulfield agreed. With them was researcher Doctor Erin Wyland, a xenobiologist and botanist who would study the planet's metamorphosis. The group landed on the planet, and Caulfield noted a strange, almost machine psionic signal coming from the planet. The group began to follow it.

Valerian and Artanis landed on the planet, with Artanis asking about Ulavu, who he refused to take back into the Daelaam years ago. Valerian did not press the matter. They arrived at a large zerg structure, made as a conference room and surrounded by strange plants. Valerian and Artanis both approached with caution, and Zagara, along with Abathur began to welcome them and explain her plans to aid the two. Artanis however asked for some time alone as he inspected the plants, which Zagara obliged. Valerian inquired as to what was wrong, when Artanis revealed he saw xel'naga essence in the plants. He then expressed distaste that Sarah Kerrigan, a hybrid of terran and zerg, had ascended to xel'naga and not a protoss. Valerian admitted he did not understand, but agreed to talk to Zagara about the situation.

Meanwhile, the survey team moved toward the signal, but were attacked by a group of roving zerg. However, the psi blocks they had been given slowed the zerg, allowing them to defeat them without much trouble. This was sent back to Valerian, who confronted Zagara about it. She stated that they had passed a zone between the control of two broodmothers, and the zerg there had reverted to their feral state. She then went on to explain that when Kerrigan left them, she also gifted the zerg the ability to choose their own path, as wepointed them to creatures that could house the essence of the xel'naga. The zerg took some of these creatures and what xel'naga essence they could salvage from Ulnar, but there was a limited amount.

Meanwhile, the group approached a large, wooden structure, the source of the signal. Halkman put Cray in charge of the group, a choice he found curious. However, the group then decided to investigate the inside of the structure, and knocked down one of the exterior trees to enter it. Inside they engaged the zerg in further attacks, curious as they were firmly in broodmother control now. As they moved further in, they found strange, cobra-like zerg creatures, named chitha (though they nicknamed they psyolisks). They overwhelmed Caulfield with a psionic blast, knocking her unconscious. The rest of the group was forced to fight without her, but Wyland was isolated. As things began to look bad, Ulavu revealed his warp blade, showing that he was a Nerazim. He turned the tide, slicing through the zerg attackers. The group was stunned, and Ulavu made them promise not to reveal his identity for fear of hurting Caulfield, who he had been deceiving and who he counted as a friend.

Tanya awoke, the the group investigated the main chamber. In there they found strange zerg creatures in sacs, similar to the chitha. Around them were a large amount of chitha, who refused to attack and seemed to be guarding them. When they approached the sac creatures, the chitha attacked, and they were defeated by Caulfield's pyrokinesis. Halkman, surprised, revealed he was an arsonist before he was a reaper, and stated that he had a plan to destroy the creatures in the sac. Using a combination of the flammable zerg corpses, grenades, and Caulfield's pyrokinesis, they could ignite the chamber. The group proceeded to do that, but on the way Caulfield noticed the zerg in the earlier chamber were killed by a form of psionic blade. She then concluded the Ulavu was hiding something from her, and felt betrayed, as he had lied to her.

The group then contacted Valerian, who notified Zagara. Zagara became enraged, and revealed the creatures in the sac were named the adostra, and were a combination of zerg and xel'naga essence that were what germinated the planet. However, there was a limited amount of essence, and they could not be reproduced. Abathur denied the existence of the chitha, and refused to believe the terrans. Artanis stormed out, refusing to believe Zagara and upset at her aggressive stance, but Valerian stayed to continue talks. Valerian ordered the survey team to go back and get samples, where they discovered that some of the pods were empty, just filled with liquid.

During this, Valerian noticed that Daelaam forces near the second of three adostra nests were under attack. Matt Horner dispatched Colonel Cruikshank with a third of their standing forces to reinforce them and defend the nest. The survey team meanwhile was ordered to move on the third point.

Cruikshank then moved to point two, initially hoping to engage the protoss when they refused to back down from destroying the nest. However, he found them being slaughtered by the zerg. Cruikshank met with the leader of the force Sagaya, who stated the only way to have any hope of victory was to detonate a disruptor inside of the nest. Though against his objective, Cruikshank ordered the disruptor to fire. The massive explosion destroyed the zerg, but also destroyed the nest, and in the aftermath only three protoss from the force survived.

Meanwhile, Valerian contacted Matt Horner in orbit. The two realized that the only way to stem the tide of zerg toward the third point was to use a psi emitter. Though risky, they hoped it would allow the team time to move on the third and final nest. The psi emitter was launched, and zerg began to flood toward the point. This was noticed by the ground team, who piled into a dropship set to leave for the nest. While preparing to move out, Ulavu confronted Caulfield, who was distant. She stated her feelings of betrayal, and he revealed his true purpose to scout out the terrans, and to find a telekinetic human that he could study to improve a new weapon named the warp disk. Though it did not fully assuage her feelings of betrayal, she stated that it at least helped.

As the emitter was deployed, the dropship was taken by mutalisks, who began to draw them toward the emitter. The group then did what they could to dislodge the mutalisks, and managed to dislodge them before they reached the site. The dropship was damaged, and forced to crash land. In orbit, the Dominion forces launched a nuclear missile at the emitter in a gambit to shut it off. This was successful, and the zerg in the impact zone were incinerated. The survey team were forced to walk to the nest.

Meanwhile, Colonel Cruikshank discussed a tactic with Commander Rahas, who was in charge of the protoss ground forces after Sagaya's death, which he relayed to Valerian. He wanted to make a buffer between the zerg straggler forces the survived the nuke and the survey team, allowing them time to reach the nest. Cruikshank met with the protoss ground forces, now commanded by a Nerazim named Alikka, who distrusted the terran. Rahas had been injured in a shuttle crash, and due to the devourer on top of the shuttle could not be moved. Thus the terran and protoss forces drew the battle line and waited.

Meanwhile, the survey team began to ponder the chitha situation on the way to point one. They concluded that either Zagara had betrayed them, or Abathur was behind the chitha, and was scheming to destroy the adostra. They came near the third point, but found chitha near it. They turned off their psi blocks and contacted Horner, who confirmed the Dominion nuked the emitter, and laid out the situation with Cruikshank's forces. They fought to the nest, only to find it was already open. As they went inside, they fought through a pack of zerglings, but found that the chitha were keeping some of them at bay.

In space, a devourer approached the Dominion fleet in orbit, and launched a projectile at them. This put them on red alert, but they then realized the projectile was a full chitha corpse that they could dissect. Horner brought the corpse aboard, and had Doctor Talise Cogan do the autopsy.

Meanwhile, Cruikshank and Sagaya's forces were taking heavy losses as the zerg began to slowly wear down their numbers. The colonel then noticed that after a certain point, some of the zerg broods became sluggish and slow. He concluded that that was the point in which they fell under broodmother control, and that they would benefit from falling back. However, he refused to leave Rahas, who was unable to be moved, behind. Instead, he came up with a new plan; he'd use the ion cannons of a crashed nearby phoenix to suppress the zerg attack. As the protoss were being incapacitated by the psionic interference of the chitha, he had a terran aim the cannons. The plan worked perfectly, and Cruikshank was able to defeat the oncoming zerg.

Inside the nest, the team investigated the area, finding a hole in the ceiling of the nest. They also discovered a strange biomechanical device using the same signal of the UED valkyrie the zerg had used on Korhal. Horner then contacted them with Cogan's findings; the chitha had developed speech centers, something only seen in higher order zerg creatures. They then concluded that Abathur used these devices to communicate with the chitha and relay orders. Outside, the zerg began to attack en masse.

Halkman, Caulfield and Cray attempted to hold the entrance, but there was a large number of zerg. After taking her samples, Wyland decided on a desperate move, she would use the perdition flamethrower she brought to clear the entrance. She did so, burning away the mass of light zerg units, but soon she herself was engulfed by fire. Ulavu dragged her from the fire, and severed the molten armor from her before it could cause deeper burns.

Soon, a protoss force arrived to provide aid, and Zagara moved in with skyrlings to clear the smoke from the fire, allowing clear air to give basic medical aid to Wyland. She stated that she could not find Abathur, and Valerian asked to meet her aboard the Hyperion. Zagara was confused but agreed, in reality the group had worked out Abathur and his chitha were aboard the one leviathan already on the planet. Valerian gave Caulfield a special canister rifle, and the group boarded the leviathan with Zagara.

Inside, they found Abathur and the queen Mukav. Zagara confronted Abathur, and he revealed that he saw the fusion of zerg and xel'naga in equal parts as an abomination; the zerg should always dominate the other, and absorb the essence of different beings. In addition, Abathur detested the idea of peace with the terran and protoss; the zerg thrived on war, and their goal was the assimilation of all life. To strive for peace was to betray what it was to be zerg. He would fly the leviathan away and respark a war between the three factions, as he assumed his chitha blocked all communications out. However, it was revealed that Caulfield's canister rifle was actually a communicator, and the protoss and terran were aware of his plans. Enraged, Abathur, Mukav and their chitha attacked. Zagara and Abathur engaged in combat while Mukav went for the survey team, and she was quickly downed in a flurry of bullets and a slice of a warp blade. However, the chitha began to overwhelm them. In a last ditch effort, Caulfield overwhelmed her neural inhibitor, and released a firestorm against the creatures. She then immediately passed out.

Caulfield awoke in the Hyperion medical bay, with Ulvau by her side. It had been revealed that she had destroyed the chitha, and that Abathur had been defeated, but not killed. Peace talks could now begin between the three factions with Abathur under wraps. Ulavu revealed that he would be returning to the Daelaam, as Artanis thought that Ulavu's true mission being revealed would cause distrust between the two factions. Caulfield revealed that she would not tell anyone of their secret, and that they would stay friends.

In the Hyperion officer's bar, Halkman and Cray drank and talked about the aftermath of the conflict. Halkman revealed he would be assigned to the new Zerg Compliance Ground-Force Unit, which was to aid in the relations between the Dominion and zerg, aid help hunt down any more chitha that may have survived. They both toasted to fallen comrades, and comrades that may have been saved in a war they prevented.[5]

CharactersEdit

ProtossEdit

TerranEdit

ZergEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Blizzard pitched the novel to Zahn, showing the general guidelines of what they were looking for. The idea was that a planet which was once barren suddenly bloomed back to life. Through hours of outlining, Zahn did some "consequencing," where he mapped out story events to see what they led to. When he got to something that felt solid and free of contradictions (and engaging), he spent several days writing a new, two to three thousand word outline, and sent it to Blizzard. The team shared their insights on the franchise, noted what they liked, and had him outline again. Zahn looked at the setting's characters in two lights—how he could make them recognisable, and how he could create his own flare. He created six more major characters for the setting.[2]

The novel's existence was confirmed as early as September 2015, but remained untitled during this time period.[6] As of November 2015, the novel's story had yet to be fully planned out. James Waugh speculated that it would take place after the events of Nova Covert Ops;[7] the timeframe was confirmed at BlizzCon 2016.[2]

Original DescriptionEdit

The original back-of-book description for the novel read as thus:

The war between the terrans, the protoss, and the zerg has been over for years, but the fight for peace is still being waged. As the Terran Dominion struggles to recover from the ravages of war, Emperor Valerian Mengsk has no intention of ruling in the same bloody manner as his father, the late Arcturus Mengsk. Instead of seeking vengeance, Valerian is determined to maintain the peace. So when he receives an urgent plea for aid from Zagara, Overqueen of the savage zerg Swarm, he agrees to hear her case despite his personal misgivings and the severe disapproval of Hierarch Artanis of the protoss.

Zagara claims that the Swarm has changed. No longer bent on destruction, they have revitalized the planet Gystt, once thought to be irreparable after its incineration by the protoss during wartime. Now the zerg wish only to live there in peace and nurture new life. But when Dominion agents—a hard-bitten marine, an unpredictable reaper, an idealistic xenobiologist, a former ghost operative, and an enigmatic protoss researcher—arrive to investigate the planet, they suspect that not all of the zerg are truly dedicated to Zagara’s dream of harmonious paradise. Gystt hides dark secrets, and should they be unleashed, it will mean disaster for the universe.[3]

ExcerptsEdit

An excerpt is viewable on Battle.net and another one at Random House.

ReferencesEdit

  1. StarCraft: Evolution, Amazon.com. Accessed on 2016-05-05
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2016-11-06, INSIDE BLIZZARD PUBLISHING. Blizzpro, accessed on 2016-11-11
  3. 3.0 3.1 Del Ray Books and Blizzard Entertainment Inc Announce StarCraft: Evolution by Timothy Zahn). Suvudu.com. Accessed 2016-04-27.
  4. StarCraft: Evolution, Amazon.com. Accessed on 2016-08-30
  5. Zahn, Timothy (November 8, 2016). StarCraft: Evolution. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0425284735.
  6. 2015-09-18, Blizzard Entertainment and Random House LLC Partner for New Novels. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2015-09-22
  7. 2015-11-06, STARCRAFT: THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. Polygon, accessed on 2015-11-18


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