Abathur – Co-op Commander Lore

starcraft 3 - Abathur - Co-op Commander Lore

Hey folks!

Back again with another commander lore thread. This week we’ll be looking into a favorite for both zerg fans and co-op speedrunners, the evolution master of the Zerg Swarm, Abathur. There’s a lot to draw from with Abathur, so let’s get into it.

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Link to previous Co-op lore episodes


The Evolution Master

When the zerg’s central intelligence, the Overmind, defeated its xel’naga creators and left Zerus, he discovered that there was a species also shaped by the xel’naga named the protoss, whose genetics could perfect the Zerg Swarm. Thus he carved a swath across the galaxy as it moved toward where he thought the protoss was, assimilating all species with desirable traits into its hive mind. Yet, the Swarm would not benefit from randomly assimilating species, and thus a central creature was needed to decide which traits would be taken from the creatures they assimilated, which traits needed to be pruned, and how the Swarm could adapt them. This mind would need to be wholly focused on one goal: perfect the Swarm, assimilate and evolve.

From the genetics of many species, the Overmind created a single creature named Abathur. This beast could manipulate the genetic strands of creatures and weave them into the core genetic strains of the zerg, allowing them to spawn these new traits from larva. The beast was given some element of creative thinking and intelligence but was bound entirely to its hive mind.

When the Overmind needed a weapon to defeat the protoss and combat the potential return of his creator, the xel’naga Amon, the Overmind gave Abathur a terran female named Sarah Kerrigan, seeking to utilize her psionic power. Abathur painfully reshaped her to be zerg, using ancient zerg sequences, and according to the ambiguously canon Retribution, potentially a xel’naga relic named the Argus Stone, to create the most powerful individual weapon the zerg had ever created.

However, the Swarm would soon be shattered when the protoss destroyed the Overmind. The Swarm fell into infighting as Kerrigan fought the Overmind’s cerebrates for control of the Swarm, and the Swarm’s primary hive on Char was thrown into disarray with the cerebrate’s attempts to create a new Overmind were seized by the terran United Earth Directorate. Abathur wandered the tunnels beneath Char, lacking any control, attacking anything that wandered too close. At the end of this Brood War, Kerrigan was victorious, and reclaimed the evolution master.

After the Brood War, Abathur and Kerrigan sought to sharpen the Swarm into a new and fierce weapon to use against their many enemies, adding new strains and pruning obsolete ones. To replace the old cerebrates, Abathur modified the queen strain to create broodmothers, creatures who could think laterally and command the many broods. All these changes were to prepare for a final war, as Kerrigan had discovered her former second-in-command, the infested terran Samir Duran, was actually a xel’naga manipulating events to facilitate Amon’s return. She spent four years building her forces, until she discovered he had planned something involving an ancient xel’naga relic named the Keystone. Kerrigan unleashed Abathur’s creation across the galaxy, ravaging the Terran Dominion in her search for the pieces of the Keystone. However, this relic turned out to be her undoing, as Duran manipulated the terran Jim Raynor into using the Keystone against her, purging her of infestation and once again shattering the Swarm.

Abathur, on Char, was once again feral. The broodmother Zagara attempted to claim dominion over him, but was not strong enough to control the evolution master. He fled to Kerrigan’s leviathan, alongside her advisor Izsha, and waited out the conflict until a terran Kerrigan returned, seeking to kill the Terran Dominion emperor Arcturus Mengsk. Abathur aided Kerrigan as she launched this new crusade, modifying the Swarm with new and deadlier strains from his evolution pit, seeing her become zerg again. Abathur’s evolutions destroyed Korhal’s defense network, allowing the zerg to overrun Augustgrad and kill Arcturus Mengsk.

However, over the conflict Kerrigan learned that Amon had returned to the material universe, and now seeks to wipe the universe clean of all life. Abathur now must field the deadliest and mightiest zerg strains against this new threat, fielding massive genetically optimizes monstrosities to devastate the thralls of Amon.

The Coup

Normally I stop at the End War, but I like telling the full story when it comes to Abathur.

After Amon’s defeat, Kerrigan gave Zagara control of the Swarms, as well as a set amount of xel’naga essence that could be used to regrow worlds devastated by the war. Zagara, now granting more free will to the higher command strains, had Abathur create a new, non-zerg species from the essence of a xel’naga and a species that could house it. This new creature, the adostra, could passively speed up the growth of plant life on even plants that had been purified by the protoss, which she hoped to use as a peace offering to the terrans and protoss, as all three races were in an uneasy peace.

Abathur however was enraged by this. Formed by the Overmind, Abathur saw conflict as the only means to perfect the Swarm, and that they needed to assimilate new species to be the zerg. This peace counteracted what it meant to be zerg. To make matters worse, Zagara had ordered the zerg to make a species that would contain no zerg traits, an abomination in the eyes of Abathur. Thus, Abathur prepared a means to respark conflict and destroy the accursed adostra.

First, as Abathur was not designed for tactical thinking, he modified a queen named Mukav to do deeper planning for him. Then, Abathur used a portion of the xel’naga essence to create a new, psionically empowered zerg strain named the chitha, or psyolisk, which wielded powerful xel’naga powers that could disrupt protoss psionics and terran communications, as well as seize control of zerg broods. These were modified to look similar to the adostra, and he used constructs modified after terran vocal communication devices to command them without psionics.

During peace talks between the three races regarding to adostra on the planet Gystt, Abathur unleashed the chitha on terran and protoss forces on the surface, luring them to the adostra’s nests. In the crossfire and confusion, two of the three adostra nests were destroyed, but a terran/protoss survey team managed to control the situation before the final nest was destroyed. The team then took Zagara to the leviathan Abathur sought to escape on, and after a brutal battle, Zagara and her allies slew the Mukav and the remaining chitha and tore Abathur limb from limb.

Abathur remained alive but brutally injured, as Zagara still had need of him as the evolution master, but she sealed him away where he could do no harm. A joint Dominion/zerg task force named the Zerg Compliance Ground-Force Unit was founded to watch Abathur and make sure he could do no harm to the peace treaty between the races. However, undoubtably Abathur still stews in his prison, planning ways to break free, and new ways to plunge the sector back into war, and bring to the Swarm to its true purpose.

  • Swarm Queen: An offshoot strain of the queen, these were evolved from the Great War era flying strains, but given protoss and terran essence, as well as essence from the Queen of Blades herself, to be more humanoid. These queens are smaller than their regular counterparts, but serve in a much more martial role to the regular queen’s hive tending duties, forsaking the ability to generate larva for more healing and combat capabilities.

    • Rapid Transfusion: Queens can mutate a thick, protein-based substance that facilitates cellular growth, which is expelled as a liquid that can heal organic matter. The swarm queen has perfected this ability, allowing it to heal quickly nearby allied bioforms.
    • Creep Tumor: Creep is the biological carpet that serves to transfer nutrients to the various bioforms of the hive. Zerg forces also “skate” across its surface, allowing them to move with shocking speed in zerg controlled territory. Initially, the spread of creep was done via creep colonies, but this role was relegated to a tumor in the creep that queens could generate.
    • Bio-Mechanical Transfusion: Zerg have issue with the deeper functions of terran technology in terms of interchanging with it due to factors such as language, but have found creative ways to circumvent a number of these issues. They can utilize infested terrans to use computers and hardware for them, and sometimes mutate the terrans themselves into a device in order to better interface with it. Early in the Great War, this was used to interact with terran communication devices.
  • Roach: Created from the zantar slug of Garraxax, the Swarm modified the unassuming creature into an armored tank for the Swarm. Using the potent acid of the slug, roaches spew and acid that can melt terran neosteel. The roach can not only take a beating, but quickly regenerate from wounds after taking fire. Roaches can burrow to absorb compounds from the soil, and are one of the few strains that can break down solid rock and metal around them to move while burrowed in the ground.

    • Glial Reconstitution: The ravages of the acid of the roach requires much modification on the part of the roach’s body in order to make sure it does not break itself own. This upgrade enhances its legs to operate more efficiently under these conditions.
    • Tunneling Claws: During the Second Great War, Abathur evolved a series of spiracles into the carapace of the roach. This allows the bioform to tear through terrain while burrowed, as well as draw additional nutrients from the soil they passed through.
    • Adaptive Plating: Abathur struggled to improve the already thick roach carapace, but was able to redesign an alternate plate array in which the roach’s armor was made from modular plates. When the roach would get wounded, the plates would react to the flow of blood and thicken.
    • Hydriodic Bile: Working from the chemical compound of the zantar slug, Abathur created a new concoction that could melt tissue, flesh and bone more efficiently on contact, and created ducts in the roach’s salivatory glands that could produce this new substance. This bile was particularly effective against poorly armored foes.
  • Ravager: After the Second Great War, the roach genome was twisted and fine tuned into a massive, hulking artillery beast. These armored creatures could use short range plasma, as well as launch corrosive bile over large distances, slamming into enemy fortifications with a deadly burst.

    • Potent Bile/Bloated Bile Ducts: Designed to break open entrenched positions, the Corrosive Bile was made to fill a needed gap in the zerg arsenal. After storing a fluid in its back, the ravager can launch it as a slow moving deadly mortar. This ability is slow, however, and forces with early warning can dodge the burst.
  • Swarm Host: The swarm host started as a primal zerg strain, created in isolation of the Swarm on Zerus. But when Kerrigan began her crusade to claim Zerus, Abathur took the template of this strain and created a new zerg monster capable of spawning near infinite waves of temporary locusts. The swarm hosts holds millions of larva in its blood strain, which quicken into eggs that rise into its large mushroom-like back. However, the swarm host itself is largely without a means to fight back against enemies. The chaotic primal sequences of the swarm host caused no small aggravation on the part of Abathur as he tried to modify its genetics.

    • Pressurized Glands: The locust launches its acid spit using a buildup of solvent fluids. Abathur increased the amounts of these fluids in order to increase the pressure behind these attacks, allowing the spit to be launched at an incredible height, able to hit even air targets.
  • Mutalisk: Taken from the Mantis Screamer, the mutalisk has become the core harassment flier of the Swarm, propelling itself with two wings on the ground and through gaseous expulsions in space environments. A curious quirk of its evolution was that when the Screamers were assimilated, parasites in their eggs also absorbed. These became the glave wurm, the living ammunition of the mutalisk, which can home in and bounce off targets.

    • Rapid Regeneration: During the Second Great War, Abathur saw the fragility of the mutalisks, and restructured them from the core down in order to improve their survivability. He created a series of cells that, when activated, would regenerate the mutalisk to its base form rapidly. However, this requires nearly the full concentration of the mutalisk in order to activate.
    • Viscious Glave: Due to the simplicity of the glave wurm genetics, Abathur was able to mutate the cartilage of the wurm in order to increase durability when outside of the mutalisk, thus increasing the number of times the wurm bounced.
    • Sundering Glave: Abathur evolved a configuration of the glave wurm with baneling genetics to create explosive payload, smashing into its initial target for high damage, but not bouncing.
  • Guardian: Evolved from the nesting form of the mantis screamer, the guardian was the core artillery strain of the Swarm during the Great War and Brood War. With thicker armor, the guardian was more durable but much slower. The guardian could lob globs of acid at a massive range at ground targets, but had no natural defense against air attackers. This largely meant they were relegated to hive defense roles, and after Kerrigan seized control of the Swarm, they were replaced by the brood lord for the zerg’s aerial artillary. However, many guardians remained among feral and fringe hives.

    • Prolonged Dispersion: The greatest strength of the guardian was its range. For how large its payload was, guardians could fire at targets at large distance with pinpoint accuracy, though as one Dominion marine pointed out, "Easy to be accurate when you're splashing everything in 100 yards."
  • Devourer: The devourers were a deadly addition to the Swarm designed to take down armored capital ships. Their corrosive bile can eat through any known substance (as of the Brood War), which can splash onto adjacent units. While they largely appeared in the Brood War, devourers are an older zerg strain that have shown up in the Great War as well. Even after being replaced by the corruptor, the Zerg Swarm maintained a number of devourers under Zagara’s reign.

    • Corrosive Spray: The acid of the devourer is its greatest asset. It was bred to tear through heavy armor, and can eat through any known substance, wearing it down steadily. The dispersion of the acid allows it to spread onto nearby targets, eating through their plating and preventing them from cloaking.
  • Viper: Like the swarm host, the viper was designed from a primal zerg strain of very similar function, before being assimilated into the Swarm by Abathur. Integrating the DNA of the defunct defiler strain, he created a viscous support flier that could disrupt enemy defenses, and first tested them in a joriun extraction operation on Brokas Hur, and used its deadly abilities to defeat the Dominion’s fortifications. While the viper itself lacks much in the way of defense, it can exude a pheromone that makes it seem nonthreatening to potential enemy fighters.

    • Abduct: The viper can regurgitate its intestines as a long, firm rope with a muscle structure capable of even moving capital ships. This proboscis can be used to move single enemy targets out of position and into the claws and spikes of an oncoming swarm.
    • Disabling Cloud: Inside the abdomen of the viper is a microbial soup, which can be sprayed into the air to nullify the effectiveness of enemy armaments. Initially, this only worked on projectile weapons, but the strain was modified to confuse and nullify all forms of enemy combat under the cloud.
    • Parasitic Bomb: Not much is known about this ability, though it seems a holdover from its defiler DNA, emitting a plague of deadly microbes that can damage an air target and those around it.
    • Devour: When fatigued, the viper and break down nutrients from nearby zerg hive structures, turning them into a nourishing fluid which serves as a catalyst for the microorganisms that give the viper bioelectrical energy. This appears to be a holdover from the defiler it was based from, which could consume lesser zerg bioforms to regain energy.
    • Virulent Microbes: Like the defiler before it, the viper’s power comes from the millions of microbes through its body that generate its energy, and that it can launch at enemies to disrupt their tactics.
  • Brutalisk: The ultimate zerg ground assault unit, the brutalisk is an evolved strain of the ultralisk, but has been so heavily modified it barely resembles its namesake. It can use massive blades to shred through masses of ground targets, as well as spew acid high up into the air to take down aircraft.

  • Leviathan: The capital ships of the Swarm, the leviathans are the largest single zerg bioforms in the entire Swarm. Many speculate they are evolved from the original manta-like zerg supercarrier, the behemoth, but that is not confirmed as of yet. The leviathan has a massive hide that can store and entire zerg invasion force within it, a single leviathan able to launch a planetary invasion. In combat, it can use its massive tentacles to take down ground targets, and spawn mutalisks, brood lords, and scourge to take on other ships, as well as living ammunition named bile swarms. The leviathan can also discharge a burst of bio-plasma that can devastate even the largest of targets. Kerrigan utilized a central leviathan as her command center in the Second Great War, which contained an evolution pit from which Abathur evolved the Swarm.

  • Toxic Nest: This ability is not directly from StarCraft, but rather from Abathur’s Heroes of the Storm appearance, where he could plant toxic nests around that were cloaked and would detonate when stepped on.

  • Mend: A great advantage of the Swarm is its ability to regenerate itself. A hive will remain viable unless every last structure is destroyed, and a zerg bioform, if not killed, will eventually regenerate back to full health. May also be a callback to Abathur’s ability to heal allies in Heroes of the Storm.

  • Level 1 – Biomass Harvester: The catalyst for Abathur’s experiments are the biomass, or genetic material, of other organisms. Through biomass, Abathur can pull useful strands of DNA for use in specific zerg subspecies, or use biomass to create a new zerg species altogether.

  • Level 2 – Ultimate Evolution: Another Heroes of the Storm reference, Ultimate Evolution one of Abathur’s level 10 abilities that allows him to clone another hero for a time.

  • Level 10 – Symbiote: Yet another ability that got its start in Heroes of the Storm. In the game, Abathur’s main function is to put a bug hat symbiote on top of other heroes, from which he can act from. Much like in Heroes, the symbiote in Co-op can shoot spikes at enemies and grant Abathur’s ultimate units a shield.

  • Level 13 – Locust Injection: Again with Heroes of the Storm, Abathur’s passive ability is that his body will occasionally spawn a locust that will push a lane. This was always curious, as while Abathur did create the swarm host, he also stated that it and its primal sequences were a frustration for him to work with.

  • Level 14 – Roach Empowerment: Vile: The vile roach was created by Abathur after forced roaches to the planet of Mehlus IV to consume the microbe infested water there. Many roaches died. Those that did not formed a symbiotic relationship with the microbes which modified their acidic split, forming it into a constrictive agent, slowing enemy attacks. As new layers were applied, the old layers would harden and tighten on the enemy.

  • ”Opposition: protoss. Good. Biomass for experimentation.” – The zerg, in most cases, are unable to process protoss biomass and DNA, though there are some exceptions where protoss infestation has been successful. Abathur has largely been unsuccessful in doing so, but as Izsha says, “likes to try.”

  • ”Evolution complete.” – The classic zerg upgrade line, also said when Abathur evolves a strain in the campaign.

That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll get into everyone’s favorite, Alarak and his Tal’darim. Should be fun, so see you then!

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