StarCraft

Alarak – Co-op Commander Lore

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Hey folks,

Another week, and this time we'll dig into one of the more popular new characters due to his snark and sexy voice, Alarak, Highlord of the Tal'darim, a plotter and schemer who helped engineer the downfall of Amon. The Tal'darim are re lively new, as least in their current iteration (they went through a lot of changes) but there's some deep stuff we can get into. So let's begin!

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Link to previous Co-op lore episodes


CHARACTER BIO: ALARAK
The Tal'darim

To get into Alarak, we first need to do a little bit of an overview of the Tal'darim.

Thousands of years ago, the protoss of Aiur were manipulated by a group named the xel'naga, in order to guide their evolution to the point where they gained great psionic power. These renegade xel'naga, under a powerful one named Amon, sought to make an army as powerful as the xel'naga to turn against his own race. Satisfied with his progress, Amon and his followers decided to reveal themselves to their “creation,” and were heralded as gods, known as Ihan-rii, or “great teachers.” The protoss, who were divided into tribes, devoted themselves to the lessons of the xel'naga, but some took this one step further. They forsook their tribal identities and devoted their existence to be stewards of the xel'naga. These guardians became known as the Tal'darim, which translates to “the Forged.”

Yet, the tribes of the protoss grew to distrust one another, and became isolated and cut off from one another. Amon and his xel'naga, beginning to see this project as a failure, and made plans to abandon Aiur. When word of this reach the tribes, they attacked the xel'naga in their worldships, killing many. The xel'naga departed the world, leaving the protoss behind to fall in upon themselves in a brutal, thousand year civil war named the Aeon of Strife.

But these xel'naga did not forget their stewards. Instead, those protoss loyal to them were taken up in their worldships, and sent to a section of space named the Sigma Quadrant. There Amon gave them the tenants of a new society, one ruled by strength, where all would be bound by a Chain of Ascension leading to Amon. Those higher on the chain ruled all beneath them with absolute power, but if one saw themselves as more powerful than their superior, they could challenge them to a rite named Rak'Shir, where they would do ritual combat with those above them, with the support of those supplicants who sided with them. If they won and slew their superior, they would rise on the chain to take their place. This chain led to a Highlord, who was second only to Amon.

The Tal'darim were brutal and warlike, but stayed mostly in their section of space. They thrived off of terrazine, a gas from the xel'naga's home dimension of the Void, which increased their psionic powers and allowed them to commune with Amon in the Void but made them unstable and erratic. When the Aiur protoss formed their mighty empire across the stars, the Tal'darim did hit and run tactics on them to steal their advanced technology. The Protoss Empire remained unaware of these attacks, though know of the existence of the Tal'darim. They considered them heretics, but left them alone.

Years later however a messenger from Amon returned. Amon, in his attempts to create another “perfect” race named the zerg, had been banished back into the xel'naga's home dimension of the Void. The last survivor of this experiment, a xel'naga who went by the names “Samir Duran” and “Emil Narud,” set into motion a plan to combine the protoss and zerg into super powerful hybrid. He recruited the Tal'darim to aid him, as he planned to use a xel'naga relic named the Keystone to absorb enough energy to pull Amon from the Void, and complete his true goal: destroy the universe the xel'naga shaped and create a new perfect one. The Tal'darim were lied to by Amon, and told they would ascend into Amon's new perfect universe when the universe was unmade, when in reality Amon sought to discard them with the rest of the prior universe.

Alarak Ascendant

The Tal'darim's brutality and warlike nature left little room for subtle manipulations. Yet, years later, one clever Tal'darim had eyes on the throne of Highlord. This was Alarak.

Early on he worked to manipulate the chain, trying to weed out all those rivals who could challenge him in his manipulations. Sometime after Duran reappeared to the Tal'darim, Alarak engineered a massive Rak'Shir, manipulating powerful Tal'darim into entering and combating one another. 800 Tal'darim died, and their fleets were crippled, but Alarak stayed out of the fight itself. When the dust settled, Alarak skyrocketed to Fourth Ascendant, the fifth highest rank in the Tal'darim.

But Alarak was taken aback when, on the eve of the Tal'darim moving to claim the Koprulu Sector for Amon, Highlord Ma'lash (ruler of the Tal'darim) was challenged by his direct subordinate, First Ascendant Nuroka. Nuroka pulled aside Alarak, and told him that in his meditations he had discovered Amon cared nothing for the Tal'darim and would discard them, and that he had created their rule of law as a means to mock them as they slaughtered one another. He wanted Alarak to help him depose of Ma'lash in Rak'Shir, who Nuroka suspected knew of Amon's true plans, and help him turn the Tal'darim against Amon.

Alarak instead engineered his own scheme. He convinced his direct lower link, Fifth Ascendant Ji'nara, not to enter the Rak'Shir to keep those looking for her spot out. He then waited as the top four leaders of the Tal'darim battled one another for new positions. When the second ascendant allied with Ma'lash killed the third, Alarak entered and killed the second ascendant, but immediately declared himself allied against Nuroka. He and Ma'lash psionically overwhelmed and killed Nuroka.

Alarak rose to First Ascendant that day, just beneath Ma'lash. Yet for his betrayal, Nuroka's revelation on Amon's true ambitions planted a seed of doubt in Alarak, and he decided he would need new allies in order to fulfill his ambition and get revenge on Amon.

When the return of Amon into the universe, the End War began, and the Tal'darim were ordered to begin to cripple the powers of the Koprulu Sector. Alarak himself was ordered to purify the Aiur protoss (now under a united protoss group named the Daelaam) research facility of Glacius. But Hierarch Artanis, leader of the Daelaam, arrived and retrieved the research in the base before Alarak could destroy it. The act impressed Alarak, who kept an eye on Artanis.

Soon Alarak was ordered to the xel'naga's central hub of Ulnar, a temple which led into their home dimension of the Void. There, Artanis and the zerg queen Sarah Kerrigan sought out the xel'naga who were against Amon, but it was all a trap by Amon, who had already killed the xel'naga within and opened a portal to the Void to destroy them. But Alarak saw this as his chance. He boarded Artanis's ship the Spear of Adun, and told his forces of Amon's trap and where Artanis was. Thanks to his intervention, the Daelaam forces rescued Artanis and Kerrigan and sealed Amon's Void portal.

Alarak met with Artanis, and formed a bargain with him. Artanis would help Alarak beat Ma'lash in Rak'Shir, and in return, Alarak would cease the Tal'darim's hostilities with the Daelaam. Reluctant to trust him, and disliking Alarak, Artanis tentatively agreed.

The two arrived on Slayn, the Tal'darim capital, and Alarak had Artanis slaughter Ma'lash's most loyal guardians, telling him it was part of the initial rite of Rak'Shir. This ended up not being true, something which enraged Artanis, but it did solidify Alarak's position against Ma'lash. Not long after Alarak and Ma'lash battled, and in a final confrontation, Alarak slew his superior. He was now Highlord. As his first act, he declared that Amon had betrayed the Tal'darim, and that the Tal'darim would now devote themselves to avenge their humiliation.

Alarak met with Artanis in the aftermath, and the two agreed to pool forces to defeat Amon. They struck at Aiur, where Amon's new body was being created, and destroyed it with a massive orbital bombardment. They then used a relic named the Keystone to drive Amon from the material universe, and back into the Void. For a time, Amon was defeated.

Yet, two years later, Kerrigan came to the protoss and terrans and told them that Amon still lived in the Void, and was still a threat to later generations. While Alarak was not seen during the attack, he committed Tal'darim forces and vessels. Kerrigan along with her allies drove into Amon, slaying him once and for all. At long last, Alarak had avenged the Tal'darim, and their former god was nothing more than a pile of ash.

The Sleeping Dragon

When Alarak returned to the material universe, Artanis offered him a position among the Daelaam, which he refused. He offered his Tal'darim one chance to stay with Artanis, before setting out to find a new homeworld, returning to the nomadic roots of the Tal'darim.

Years later however, Alarak had a fringe Tal'darim outpost come under attack by a terran group known as the Defenders of Man. They sought to provoke Alarak into attacking the Dominion, and Alarak sent Ji'nara, now first ascendant, with a fleet to destroy them. They arrived on the Dominion world of Tyrador IX, and purified the feral zerg attacking the planet before setting their eyes on a Defenders of Man base. However, in their base was sheltering civilians, and Terran Dominion forces under ghost agent Nova Terra, who were sent to investigate the Defenders, were forced to fight the Tal'darim to save them. They disabled her ship's shields, then destroyed Ji'nara mothership.

After the battle, Alarak boarded Nova's ship. He discussed a bargain with her, as both sought to destroy the Defenders of Man. Alarak would guide Nova to a source of the gas terrazine, which could undo the memory wipes the Defenders of Man put on her, in return for her leading the Tal'darim to their stronghold. Nova agreed, and the two went to the abandoned Umojan Protectorate colony of Jarban Minor. There Nova fought the zerg that infested the colony and Ji'nara, who sought to challenge her for the terrazine, but Nova came out victorious. Alarak said he would keep an eye on her for when she found the Defenders headquarters.

And using the terrazine, Nova did, discovering the Dominion general Carolina Davis was leading the Defenders in false flag attacks to discredit their emperor, Valerian Mengsk, for his part in the death of his father Arcturus Mengsk. Nova tracked her to the Dominion world of Vardona and arrested Davis and brought her out before a crowd, but as Valerian declared she would stand trial, Alarak struck. His ships bombarded the planet, killing Defender of Man and Dominion civilian alike. Nova mobilized her forces against the Tal'darim attack waves, and held the line against them. After a brutal battle, the Tal'darim were blasted back by the Dominion's firepower and forced to retreat. In the aftermath, Alarak warned Nova she had just made a terrible enemy.

It's unknown what the Tal'darim are doing now, though they remain a power in their own section of space beyond the sector. With Alarak in charge however, it's clear that they will not remain idle, and we will likely see them come again sometime soon to test their blades against the sector.


UNITS AND UPGRADES
  • Supplicant: Supplicants are those at the bottom of the Chain of Ascension, loyal to the concept of the chain over any one individual Tal'darim. They live for the hope that one day they too will gain the strength to challenge one Tal'darim on the chain, and rise above their station. They are seen as expendable, and provide life force for the ascendants above them.

    • Blood Shields: Tal'darim technology makes use of red crystals named bloodshards. These are similar to the Khalai khaydarin crystals, though with different properties. It's unclear whether this uses bloodshard technology or the actual blood of the Tal'darim.
    • Soul Augmentation: The concept of a “soul” exists among the protoss, though in previous works it appeared to be another word for consciousness. It is unclear what ascendants absorb when they consume a supplicant, whether it is some otherworldly soul, their psionic presence or their consciousness.
  • Slayer: Slayers are augmented from the stalker technology of the Nerazim. These are those powerful Tal'darim who desire no place on the Chain of Ascension, but wish only to revel in combat and perfect their ability to kill. These warriors transfer their consciousness into a robotic shell, in order to be better armed for war.

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    • Phase Blink/Phasing Armor: Like all Tal'darim technology, the Slayer's blink takes from the Nerazim's Void displacer, which allows the stalker to blink from one spot to another. This technology has been augmented by the Tal'darim to also enhance their particle disrupters, and make them better at slaying their enemies.
  • Havoc: Once sentries used by the Daelaam, these constructs were reprogrammed violently to serve more of a battlefield support role, discarding their shield generators as the Tal'darim had no use for them.

    • Force Field: One of the abilities of the sentry was to create barriers of solid energy, an impenetrable barrier able to split forces apart. It is mostly indestructible, though some weapons of large size can crush these barriers. The Tal'darim retained this functionality in their own variants.
    • Target Locked: In place of the generators sentries use to recharge shields, havocs use on-board targeting systems to aid Tal'darim warriors in focusing specific targets and their weak points.
    • Bloodshard Resonance: Bloodshards are a critical piece of Tal'darim technology that can split energy like a prism. Such crystals are often outfitted onto looted pieces of Daelaam technology.
    • Detect Weakness: Tal'darim society thrives on weeding out weakness within its own ranks. An elite order of stealth assassins, the Blood Hunters, exist solely to find those too weak to be on the Chain of Ascension and cull them from the Tal'darim.
  • Ascendant: Ascendants are those Tal'darim who have gained a spot on the Chain of Ascension, and are the most powerful of the Tal'darim. They are augmented with terrazine gas, and psionically are immensely powerful protoss. Ascendants constantly try to fight one another, using looted technologies to gain an edge on other ascendants, trying to find a moment of weakness to challenge their superiors to Rak'Shir or lead them to their untimely demise.

    • Psionic Orb/Chaotic Atonement: Ascendants can cast an orb of raw psionic (presumably Void based off of the red color and the upgrade name) energy at a target, devastating enemies in a path.
    • Mind Blast: Mind blast is one of the most powerful psionic powers a being can utilize. It has appeared in some terrans: when Nova Terra awoke as a psionic, she unleashed a mind blast that wiped out everyone in the skyscraper she was in and then some bystanders around it, killing hundreds. She was able to use this against the zerg two more times to halt their advance. Survivors of these sorts of mind blasts often find themselves mentally scarred and damaged. Spectre Gabriel Tosh has shown the ability to use this as a focused attack, which seems to be the variant that ascendants utilize.
    • Power Overwhelming: Ascendants can sacrifice a nearby supplicant, to add their life force to theirs. Similar to the psionic support given in Rak'Shir, such a sacrifice enhances the power of the ascendant, allowing them to combat their enemies better. The upgrade name is a reference to the archon quote and SC1 cheat code “power overwhelming,” as when ascendants gain more stacks they look more and more like archons.
  • War Prism: The war prism is a modified version of the Daelaam warp prism, outfitted with weapons. The use of such weapons is a hotly debated topic among the Fleet Lords of the Tal'darim. Such use of warp prisms harkens back to the Tal'darim's use of a titanic warp prism against the Daelaam on Ulnar, a massive transport with a core made from an unstable substance named solarite.

  • Vanguards: Among the Tal'darim, to fall in battle is one of the greatest shames that can befall a warrior. Those that survive and are crippled are considered failures in the eyes of their highlord. As such, they are placed an a modified immortal known as a vanguard, and given one final chance to redeem themselves by causing as much destruction as possible before dying in the name of their highlord.

  • Wrathwalker: After an incident named the Kalath Intercession, the Protoss Empire sealed away mighty AI walkers named colossi in vaults, as they were seen as too destructive. Such power was highly desired by ascendants, who would often dig up these mighty colossus from their vaults for use against their enemies. Many of these had their thermal lances replaced with charged pulse blasters, which did devastating damage to a single target. These became the wrathwalkers.

    • Aerial Tracking: Normally, wrathwalkers cannot focus on air targets, but some improvements to their targeting system allows them to target distant air units.
  • Destroyer: During the era of the Daelaam, the Tal'darim managed to steal a number of void rays from their protoss kindred, and heavily modified their powerful prismatic core. Bloodshards were places as the primary lens of the vessel, allowing them to channel Void energies that split itself between targets, hitting masses of units.

  • Mothership: Among the Protoss Empire, the mothership was the ultimate exploration vessel, a living city powered around a central khaydarin core. Some were outfitted with weapons, but their purpose was largely for research and discovery over war. After the Golden Age of Expansion however, the motherships were put into stasis for when they would be needed again. Some however were looted by the Tal'darim. These became the flagships of their Death Fleet, from where a Fleet Lord would rule over the Tal'darim's many ships. Their peaceful purpose was changed as the Tal'darim modified them to become weapons of war.

    • Thermal Lance: One of the devastating new purposes of the Tal'darim mothership, the thermal launce shoots a beam of thermal energy on a straight line from the mothership, destroying anything in its path (now that it's been buffed in Co-op).
    • Mass Teleport: During the Golden Age of Expansion, a flaw in the mothership's khaydarin core led to an accident where two motherships lost power and were destroyed in the gravity well of a neutron star, killing thousands of protoss. To ensure nothing such as that ever happened again, mass recall systems were designed into the mothership, but the accident also led to the construction of the supermassive arkships such as the Spear of Adun. It seems the Tal'darim retained this function in their own motherships.
  • Photon Cannons: Photon cannons are a defensive structure that fire bolts of antimatter at targets who approach a protoss fortification. The Tal'darim are known for being creative with their photon cannon usage, and will sneak probes into enemy positions to construct them next to their mineral lines.


ALARAK ATTACKS AND UPGRADES
  • Bane Blade: Alarak's ground attack. Bane blades are a Tal'darim variant on the protoss psionic blade. The Khalai use blue psi blades that draw from eternal willpower, while the Nerazim use green warp blades that draw from the individual protoss with augmented energies of the Void. The Tal'darim bane blades however draw fully from the Void, which give it a red color. Tal'darim mythology states that such blades were able to cut entire worlds in half.

  • Psionic Lightning: Alarak's anti-air attack. This is an ability that started in Heroes of the Storm as Alarak's E ability. Use of psionic lightning by powerful psionics isn't uncommon to hit distant targets.

  • Deadly Charge: A modified version of the standard zealot charge, Alarak can dash a short distance and explode in a burst of psionic energy. This became one of his ultimate abilities in Heroes of the Storm, though functioned at a much longer range.

  • Destruction Wave: Alarak is a superpowered protoss, who is empowered by years of terrazine use. He can send a literal tidal wave of psionic energy to knock enemies back.

    • Telekinesis: This upgrade is a reference to his W ability in Heroes of the Storm, which functions as a substitute for his Destruction Wave ability and can shift enemies around.
  • Empower Me: In Rak'Shir, two Tal'darim draw on the psionic energy of their supplicants to win the match. Though the supplicants cannot directly attack the main combatants, they can attack other supplicants. The animation of Empower Me comes from Alarak's Rak'Shir against Amon (and Ji'nara's against Amon's Champion).


QUOTES
  • ”Ah, the icons of Amon's betrayal. I will enjoy destroying them.” – One of the promises Amon made to the Tal'darim was that they would all ascend into hybrids, being Amon's perfect beings. This was a lie, and Amon planned to dispose of the Tal'darim after they had done their mission.

  • ”Defense is a losing strategy, but I shall seize victory nonetheless.” – Tal'darim dislike using defensive tactics, considering them something weaker beings cower behind. This is shown in their photon cannons, which they often use offensively, and their shield batteries, which they largely avoid using if they can help it.

  • ”The Tal'darim claim the primary battle line.” – During the Legacy of the Void mission “Salvation,” Alarak says that he will claim the primary battle line at the beginning of the level, as the Tal'darim hold the main approach to the Keystone. He will then always rush out and get himself killed three attack waves in.

  • ”I find your lack of defenses disturbing.” – A reference to Darth Vader from Star Wars in his famous quote “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Alarak is often compared to a “Sith Lord,” as he uses red blades and a generally black motif.


TRIVIA
  • The gem at the top of Alarak's top bar can be clicked, and it will make sounds every time the player clicks it. Enough clicks and Alarak will chastise the player for wasting time.

  • If Alarak is played on Chain of Ascension, Ji'nara's dialogue will be changed to lines specific to Alarak, as Alarak is her direct superior.

  • In the early development of Co-op, back when it was “Allied Commanders,” players would fight the Tal'darim when facing protoss opponents instead of the corrupted Khalai.

  • I always spend the opportunity to say this, but the Tal'darim has had a confusing history for lore fans. Initially, they were introduced in the Dark Templar Saga trilogy, as a faction of Khalai who were stranded from the war and rejected the Nerazim, but fell under the control of a powerful dark archon named Ulrezaj who wanted to destroy the Khalai. Then Wings of Liberty was released, and the Tal'darim were nothing like that, being an ancient order that used Nerazim technology and worshiped the xel'naga. Some statements were put out that these were still connected to Ulrezaj. Finally, Legacy of the Void gave them a firm backstory, and it was said later that the Dark Templar Saga Tal'darim were just named after the ancient stewards of the xel'naga. All connection to Ulrezaj in Alarak's Tal'darim was dropped.


That's all for this week! Next week we'll be digging into Nova Terra, probably the character with the absolute most lore for her individual character given how many books and comics they've made about her. So that should be a fun one. I'll see you all next week!

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