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- A zerg thoughtstream(src)
|De facto leader|
None; control assured through a hive-like hierarchy
None; control assured through a hive-like hierarchy
None; control assured through a hive-like hierarchy
Zerg broods; at least billions of individual zerg
October 2500 (under Kerrigan's rule)
The Zerg Swarm is a terrifying and ruthless amalgamation of biologically advanced, arthropodal aliens. Dedicated to the pursuit of genetic perfection, the zerg relentlessly hunt down and assimilate advanced species across the galaxy, incorporating useful genetic code into their own.
Alongside the protoss and terrans, the zerg stand as one of the three dominant species of the Milky Way and are universally feared, hated and hunted as such. The Swarm in itself makes up a third of the power of the Koprulu Sector.
Creation of the Swarm
The xel'naga discovered the original zerg on Zerus. The xel'naga gifted the zerg with the purity of essence, making them the counterparts of the protoss, gifted with the purity of form; the zerg and protoss were intended to eventually merge to perpetuate the xel'naga lifecycle. At this point the zerg species diverged into two distinct branches; the Zerg Swarm and the primal zerg. The xel'naga created the Overmind to control the zerg swarm and prevent a repeat of the protoss' Aeon of Strife. The Overmind oversaw the zerg swarm's rapid evolution, created the cerebrates, and divided the Swarm into broods. The primal zerg, meanwhile, went into hiding to preserve their individuality.
The Overmind's purpose was subverted by the fallen xel'naga named Amon, who would become known as the Fallen One; the Swarm drove away the xel'naga, and embarked on an interstellar journey toward Aiur, the protoss homeworld, to forcibly assimilate the protoss. The Overmind was aware, but unable to resist Amon's influence. The Overmind knew Amon's ultimate goal would destroy the zerg.
The Great War
Having assimilated multiple species and evolved during the journey, the Swarm arrived at the Koprulu sector near the Protoss Empire. The Overmind ordered the assimilation of the terrans; their psionic potential was needed to fight the protoss. The protoss detected the zerg, learned of their xel'naga origins, and dispatched the Koprulu Expeditionary Force under Executor Tassadar to deny the zerg a foothold.
The Great War broke out with the zerg invasion of the terran worlds. Protoss purification, and terran internal strife, failed to contain the invasion. The terran rebel group, the Sons of Korhal, used and manipulated the invasion to overthrow the Terran Confederacy and form the Terran Dominion. The zerg captured Sarah Kerrigan at the Battle of Tarsonis and withdrew to Char to transform her into the Queen of Blades. The Overmind intended Kerrigan to succeed it as the Swarm's leader, freeing the zerg from Amon. It had no concern over the other races of the galaxy.
The zerg were attacked on Char by the protoss; a renegade Tassadar joined forces with Dark Prelate Zeratul on Char. Zeratul, wielding the Dark Templar's power of the Void, permanently slew Zasz. This created a brief mental link between Zeratul and the Overmind, through which the Overmind learned the exact location of Aiur. Kerrigan remained on Char while the Swarm invaded Aiur.
Resistance against the zerg invasion was hampered by the protoss Conclave's overconfidence and a short protoss civil war. The planet was devastated. The Overmind relocated to Aiur, where it was slain by the protoss. The protoss subsequently withdrew to Shakuras, the Dark Templar homeworld.
The Brood War
The Overmind's death left the Swarm divided between the cerebrate Daggoth and Kerrigan. Daggoth initiated creation of the second Overmind. Kerrigan sought to kill the Overmind before it could mature and resume control over the entire Swarm and her. The zerg civil war was complicated by the arrival of the United Earth Directorate Expeditionary Fleet in the Koprulu sector; the UED overthrew the Terran Dominion, and captured the second Overmind with the intent of using the zerg to maintain control over the Sector. The UED used the psi disrupter to fragment opposing zerg.
Kerrigan manipulated both anti-UED terrans and the protoss to destroy the Psi Disrupter, break UED control over the sector, and slay the Overmind, thus bringing the entire Swarm under her control. Zerg betrayal dissolved the alliances of convenience. The reformed Terran Dominion, UED remnants, and protoss attempted, and failed, to oust Kerrigan. The war ended with all sides withdrawing to rebuild; the zerg remained in control of previously infested worlds.
For the next four years, the Swarm avoided outright conflict with the terrans and protoss while slowly expanding and evolving. The remaining cerebrates died and were replaced by broodmothers.
As the first hybrids became active, signs of Amon's machinations reached Kerrigan. While searching for clues about the hybrids, Zeratul discovered Kerrigan was essential to prevent the Swarm from fulfilling the Dark Voice's apocalyptic plans; the dark templar instructed Jim Raynor, of Raynor's Raiders, to ensure Kerrigan's survival.
The Second Great War
The Second Great War began with the Swarm's invasion of terran space in search of a xel'naga device. Various terran groups used the upheaval to their own ends. Raynor's Raiders fomented rebellion against the Terran Dominion and, on behalf of Crown Prince Valerian Mengsk's Moebius Foundation, recovered the device before the Swarm. A joint Raiders and Dominion attacked Char and used the device to deinfest Kerrigan. The Swarm fragmented.
Kerrigan was doggedly pursued by the Dominion, which led to Raynor's capture and reported execution by the Dominion. Kerrigan began reuniting the Swarm as a tool for vengeance, both for herself and for Raynor. During this period, the Swarm journeyed to Zerus, where it was reunited with the primal zerg and Kerrigan became a primal zerg-human hybrid. Her new form was more powerful than the previous hybridization, and free of Amon's influence.
The Swarm discovered and destroyed a secret Dominion hybrid production facility led by Doctor Emil Narud, a servant of Amon. Kerrigan killed Narud, and learned of Amon's resurrection and the threat he posed to creation. She directed the Swarm to wage war against Amon after killing Mengsk.
The campaign against the Dominion was a success. Raynor was found alive and rescued from a secret prison. The Swarm invaded Korhal, and Kerrigan personally entered the Korhal Palace and slew Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. The Swarm departed Korhal to fight Amon.
A great deal of information has been ascertained as to the nature of zerg physiology and psychology, such as through the Terran Confederacy's Project Bellwood, and the Terran Dominion's Project Blackstone. All zerg breeds are efficient killers and/or possess abilities that will aid the Swarm in the destruction of its enemies.
When the zerg deviated from their primal counterparts, the Swarm reduced their physical appearance to essential fighting components. The zerg as a whole are extremely tough, tenacious, and deadly. Their natural armor and weaponry is comparable to modern technology in terms of toughness and armor-piercing capabilities. The zerg are extremely resistant to chemical agents, but their biological nature still renders them vulnerable to concentrated radiation, such as sigma radiation.
All zerg strains are capable of operating in a variety of environments, and some can operate in the vacuum of space. Most zerg are not adapted for space travel by themselves, but are carried by larger zerg such as leviathans. Space-borne zerg either have vast stores of oxygen or have been adapted to not require it.
Zerg must eat and rest, but do not require extended hours of sleep and have no set periods of inactivity. Left unchecked, zerg multiply at an alarming rate. Zerg strains gain nutrients from creep, but can consume other animals for nourishment if the situation demands it. Zerg do not die of old age.
Most zerg ground strains are also capable of burrowing and digging through virtually any surface, using groups of tiny muscles that vibrate at a low frequency and grind dirt and stone along their way, allowing them to "swim through the ground". This ability made them extremely deadly in ambush situations, as many terran or protoss forces suffered losses when suddenly being surrounded by a mass of enemy zerg units. All zerg ground strains move faster on creep than they do on normal ground due to microscopic filaments within the substance that allow them to 'skate' over it.
Before hatching, a zerg specimen has two cell types in general: Type A creates different mutations, while B cells hunt them to feed their own procreation (probably, the same is applied reversely). Upon hatching, the specimen of a certain strain is a result of the Darwin's theory of evolution on a cellular level; it is made of the strongest strain mutations that survived.
Zerg possess remarkable regenerative capabilities. Their alpha amino acids possess unique R groups that allow dead cell matter to be combined with normal proteins to create new cells. Under normal circumstances, zerg may regenerate indefinitely; a radically changing cell structure is a by-product of the process, as well as high quantity of energy in the process. Given time, even a gravely wounded zerg will return to full health. Thus, a zerg colony remains viable if even one creature or structure survives. Few zerg survive for more than a few minutes in a given battle, but those that do evolve during the battle itself, becoming more powerful every hour. The zerg constantly study their enemies and adapt accordingly.
Zerg structures are essentially giant organs and draw sustenance from creep, a thick carpet-like substance that integrates a colony's structures as one macro-organism. Compound B-5801 provides their structural basis.
The zerg are obsessed with detecting subtler motions and more advanced camuflauge techniques.
Like terrans and protoss, zerg genetic material consists of DNA, seemingly in the shape of a double helix. However, when a zerg strain's DNA evolves, it becomes less flexible. Apart from the overlord, every zerg strain ever encountered by terrans has been a custom mix of DNA, to the extent that no non-overlord strain bears much genetic resemblance to the organism(s) that spawned it. Dr. Talen Ayers theorized that the zerg are unwilling to too deeply alter the genetic makeup of organisms with psionic potential, as even the slightest of genetic changes can remove said potential. This would, in his mind, explain the genetic similarities in this case.
The zerg like to pit themselves against harsh climates, using a planet's harsh conditions to further their own evolution. In regards to assimilating the genetic material of other species, the zerg were initially very selective, assimilating only strong species at the top of their food chains and eradicating 'lesser species' lest they corrupt the purity of the zerg genome. Under Kerrigan, the situation changed, and the zerg were willing to assimilate any material they came across. The zerg genetic landscape is constantly changing, to the extent where using terms such as "mutant" (mutation being a permanant change to an organism's genetic code) can be considered to be a misnomer.
Zerg DNA is "antithetical" to protoss DNA and they cannot infest protoss under normal conditions. In addition, protoss psionic powers (Khala and Void) protect the protoss. The protoss are the only known species that the zerg have failed to assimilate. However, their DNA can be artificially combined, creating hybrids.
Hyper-rare mutant strains exist within the zerg gene pool.
It has been difficult for observers to determine the full extent of the zerg intelligence, but it is clear that they are a very cunning species, and they are capable of higher reasoning. Although they do not utilize technology, they demonstrate a clear understanding of it, and have been known to open airlocks and doorways in colonies that they have raided. As a group they also react intelligently to attacks and are adept at tactical combat. On an individual basis, though, the zerg seem to be hardly more than savage animals with little or no concern for self-preservation. Evolution is directed by "Alpha Zerg" strains, such as cerebrates and queens. Dr. Talise Cogan voiced the idea that the zerg, as a whole, can be considered to be a macro-organism. The zerg can be considered to be a "slave race" to whatever entity controls them.
The quest for perfection is rooted deep within the zerg psyche, and is a pseudo-religious concept for them. The core idea of this 'religion' is that there is a state that the zerg can reach where they would no longer need to evolve, that their evolutionary form would never have to change again because they could already adapt to any situation.
The amount of control exerted over a zerg force also impacts on their intelligence. Without this control, the zerg will become little more than animals, attacking everything on sight, at times, even their own kind. These zerg are referred to as feral zerg and can generally only operate at the lowest level. In contrast, primal zerg are intellectual individuals, with no links to a hivemind.
Zerg have the ability to sense psychic power and, being sensitive to it, often respond to it (to the point of rendering themselves temporarily out of the control of a leader) and seek it out. This ability has a greater range than that of wranglers, weakly psychic terrans employed to find other psychics.
- Main article: Zerg worlds
The zerg have demonstrated an ability to storm worlds, but are less well-equipped at holding them. After the Brood War, the Swarm pulled back to Char, but could have easily expanded to cover numerous worlds again. Over 100 worlds have been infested by the zerg. Currently, the Swarm is based in space as Kerrigan searches for Amon.
The following is a list of planets and moons that have been conquered by the Swarm, if only temporarily:
The original conception of the zerg in the StarCraft alpha had them named "Nightmarish Invaders" and later "zurg." This was later changed to "zerg" to avoid legal action from Pixar, as per the character of Emperor Zurg from Toy Story. Also in this version, the zerg were a race of bio-mechanical creatures.
Many zerg breeds have a pair of mandibles on the sides of their mouths that can close together to form a mouthguard of sorts. Examples include the hydralisk, the lurker, and the queen. Most other breeds have some form of tusks or mandibles on or near their mouths.
According to Samwise Didier, the zerg design process can be summed up as follows:
- 1) You start with lots of teeth.
- 2) You choose a troop type
- a) Melee attacker
- b) Ranged attacker
- c) Flying attacker
- d) All of the above (game designers don't like this option, as it's too multi-purposed)
- 3) Pick a form
- a) Decapod
- b) Hexapod
- c) Octopod
- d) Serpentine
- 4) Add 2 or more of the following:
- a) Poisonous spines
- b) More teeth
- c) Barbed tails
- d) Jagged claws
- e) Spiked back plates
- f) Insectoid wings
- g) Venemous tendrils
- h) Bat wings
- i) Acidic glands
- j) A lot more teeth
- 5) Choose a name prefix:
- a) Rage
- b) Omega
- c) Spore
- d) Ravage
- e) Blade
- f) Destruct
- g) Terror
- h) Any other word that sounds violent and exudes overall nastiness.
- 6) Choose a suffix:
- a) -ling
- b) -list
- c) -tor
- d) -zor
- e) -etc.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Zerg.
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|Dominant Zerg faction|
|Preceded By||Duration||Succeeded By|
Incumbent (as Kerrigan's Swarm)
|Dominant Koprulu faction|
|Preceded By||Duration||Succeeded By|
Incumbent? (concurrent with Terran Dominion)