Han and Horner – Commander Lore

starcraft 9 - Han and Horner - Commander Lore

Hey folks,

Last episode in this series sadly (at least until BlizzCon if we get another commander), we’ll be rounding things out with a dive into the most unlikely of couples, Han and Horner. The two of them combine the might of the Dominion Armada with the ruthlessness of the insane mercenaries and outlaws of Dead Man’s Rock. Should be a fun one, so let’s dig in one more time!

Usual plug, there’s a
PnedPHw - Han and Horner - Commander Lore

StarCraft lore discord for people who want to keep discussing the nuances of the universe.

Link to previous Co-op lore episodes (maybe actually updated eventually)


We’ll divide this between the two, then wrap it back together in the end.

Matt Horner: Rebel and Idealist

Horner hailed from a wealth Tyrador IX merchant family, and lived a quiet life away from some of the more chaotic elements of the sector. Young and seeking adventure and action, Matt Horner was an easy target for recruiters of the fledging revolutionary movement of General Arcturus Mengsk, the Sons of Korhal, who sought to overthrow the corrupt Terran Confederacy as vengeance for the nuking of the planet Korhal IV. They guided him to join the Confederate Navy in order to gain training from them, and the young Horner excelled as a pilot. With training gained from his enemies, Horner quickly defected, and became the second-in-command of the blockade runner, the Cormorant. He gained a reputation for his dependability and cleverness.

Soon the Great War broke out between the Confederacy, Zerg Swarm and Protoss Empire, and Horner found himself aiding the Sons of Korhal as they sought to use the conflict to push their cause against the Confederacy. When the colony of Mar Sara began to be overrun by the zerg, Horner was one of the pilots who aided in evacuating the colonists. There he met the colony’s marshal, Jim Raynor. Horner continued to fly missions for the Sons, notably transporting Raynor and the Sons’ second-in-command Sarah Kerrigan to raid a facility researching psionic humans. Through the conflict Horner became a close friend to Raynor, seeing him as an honest and brave man.

Then came Tarsonis. Arcturus Mengsk used superweapons developed by the Confederacy, psi emitters, to lure billions of zerg to the planet, slaughtering the civilian population of the world. When Kerrigan spoke out against him, he sent her against the protoss who arrived to purge the zerg, then abandoned her to the zerg that overran her position. Abhorred at the genocide, Raynor rallied survivors and like-minded Sons of Korhal abhorred with Mengsk’s brutality to rally against him. Matt was one of the first to volunteer. Mengsk reformed the shattered Terran Confederacy into the Terran Dominion, and Raynor and Horner created Raynor’s Raiders to oppose him.

As the Dominion rebuilt, Raynor struck at their primary shipyards on Dylar IV, stealing Mengsk’s former capital ship, the Hyperion. Matt became its captain as it quickly became the center of the Raider’s operations. But time passed with little headway against Mengsk, until Raynor began to receive strange dreams regarding Kerrigan from the fringe planet of Char. Horner and the Raiders investigated, but found the planet overrun with zerg. Zerg boarders hit the Raiders’ ships, forcing Horner to do an emergency jump away with the Hyperion, stranding Raynor and his forces on the surface of Char. The jump damaged the ship for numerous weeks in deep space.

Yet, handy as ever, Horner and the Raiders were able to repair the ship and return to Char, and rescue Raynor, who had allied with protoss under the former executor Tassadar and Dark Prelate Zeratul as they were chased by a now-zerg Sarah Kerrigan. Matt rallied with Raynor and his new allies, and together the two aided the protoss in their crusade against the zerg, helping in their final encounter to kill their hive mind, the Overmind.

While we never see him directly, Horner and the Hyperion seem to have been with Raynor all through the events of SC1 and Brood War, aiding Raynor against the Conclave, Overmind, renegade zerg, the invading United Earth Directorate, and finally weathering a betrayal from the infested Sarah Kerrigan. By the end, Kerrigan stood victorious, and though Raynor tried to exact revenge on her, he failed. Raynor, Horner and the Raiders returned to their core focus: deposing Arcturus Mengsk from his throne and liberating terran space.

Yet, over the years Raynor found himself worn down by constant harassment from the Dominion. Matt Horner’s keen tactical skills kept them afloat, but ceaseless propaganda and a lack of resources put the Raiders on the brink of collapse. Raynor turned to drinking, while Matt tried in vain to keep his moral compass straight and eyes on their goal.

Mira Han: Army for Hire

Mira Han’s past is largely unknown. She rose to power seemingly after the Brood War, starting with a cadre of mercenary marauder armored troops she convinced (or blackmailed) to join her. Operating out of the lawless fringe haven, Dead Man’s Rock, she formed Mira’s Marauders, a group of desert fighters with a near-suicidal tendency matching Mira’s own insanity.

Dead Man’s Rock was a land of debauchery and hedonism for the fortunate, and brutal slave-like conditions for everyone else, but its distance from Dominion authorities made it a common haven for Raynor’s Raiders. One day when visiting the port, Matt Horner entered a poker game, not knowing the prize behind it. Skilled at cards, Matt won, only to find that the prize was Mira Han’s hand in marriage. Appalled, Matt fled the port with Raynor. Knowing Horner hated the idea, Han found great joy in mocking him for it, referring to him as her husband and lover, and even taking the alias "Mira Horner." While largely in jest (in her own, absolutely insane way), Han did have a great respect for Matt, and with hints of genuine feelings for him under the insane love.

In 2503, Dead Man’s Rock’s principle power, the mercenary lord Ethan Stewart, was killed, and the Rock was invaded by a massive swarm of zerg. The power dynamics on the Rock were shaken up, and Mira and her Marauders found themselves in a much more powerful position than before. Around her war began to break out as the Second Great War began, forcing the Dominion in opposition with the zerg. The conflict sprung Raynor’s Raiders, and by extension Matt Horner, back into action.

While the war raged on, the Raiders found themselves at Dead Man’s Rock once again, having found an old Confederate adjutant that contained information Mengsk wanted buried. Raynor used the encryption expert Colonel Orlan, but when Orlan found out the adjutant contained data linking Mengsk to Tarsonis’s slaughter, he decided to try to sell it to the Dominion and hired Mira Han to stall the Raiders. But Mira Han liked Raynor and Horner better (and knew she could force them to pay more), so she took the Raider’s offer of minerals, and turned on Orlan. They took the adjutant back, and Mira took Orlan as a prisoner, keeping him for free as a favor to Raynor. Horner and Raynor would publish the information in the adjutant, spreading chaos through the Dominion.

Han meanwhile found herself in a more powerful position as the war raged on, with refugees fleeing to Dead Man’s Rock en masse. Mira’s Marauders became the major controlling force on the planet, taking assets from old crime lords who used to control the haven, and though brutal mercenaries did what they could to ensure the refugees of their small kingdom were fed and provided for.

Things were shaking up in the war however, as Raynor and Arcturus’s son Valerian Mengsk invaded Char and purified Sarah Kerrigan of her infestation, only to have to flee as Arcturus sent his fleets to crush the weakened victor. They went to the one place they couldn’t be followed: Dead Man’s Rock, and Mira took in Raynor, Valerian, Matt and Kerrigan as they got their footing to meet up with Valerian’s contact, Dr. Emil Narud. However, the defection of one of Mira’s lieutenants and the Raiders bartender caused mercenaries to ambush Raynor, Mira and their forces. Matt was shot in the crossfire, and was bleeding out, but Mira ensured they made it back to the Hyperion. Delirious, Matt kissed her on the way out, shocking even Mira. As they departed, Mira then turned to the mercenaries who betrayed her, ensuring they would be bloodily dispatched and made examples of to anyone who would ever dare to cross her.

”The Horners”

Though Horner and Raynor fled to the terran nation of the Umojan Protectorate, Mengsk could not be stopped, and he ambushed them in a research lab. Raynor was captured, and Kerrigan left, leaving Horner and Valerian to pick up the pieces and try to lead the Raiders to gain any headway against Mengsk. Months passed with little progress.

But soon Kerrigan returned, now leading the zerg and infested with new zerg genetics, saying that Raynor was alive, but she did not know where. Horner and Valerian decided that the only one who could find him was Colonel Orlan, who was in the care of Han. When Horner tried to get Orlan from Mira, she told him that the contract said only Raynor could release her, which posed an issue as they needed him to get Raynor. Matt knew at this point there was only one language Mira would speak: violence. He set the Hyperion against her mercenary fleets and automated starports, eventually destroying her central space station. Unable to win, Mira handed over Orlan.

Horner and Kerrigan found and rescued Raynor, and together they assaulted Mengsk’s capital of Korhal. Horner and Valerian evacuated the population while the zerg swarmed Mengsk’s defenses, eventually smashing into his palace. Kerrigan slew Arcturus, ending his reign, before departing with her zerg for parts unknown. Valerian took the throne as the new Emperor of the Terran Dominion, with Raynor and Matt helping him rebuild. Raynor became a commander in the Dominion Armed Forces, while Horner took over the Dominion Armada as its admiral. Together, they worked to establish a fairer regime from the ashes of Arcturus’s tyranny.

Yet, a threat from beyond would soon return. Amon, the xel’naga who uplifted the protoss and the zerg, arrived with an army of protoss/zerg hybrids, who controlled swaths of mind controlled terrans set on the wanton slaughter of all life. They assaulted Korhal, and Raynor and Horner came to its defense, but it was a stalemate until the arrival of protoss allies under Hierarch Artanis. They helped Horner push back Amon’s forces, though the cities below were devastated.

As the war continued however, Horner found they the Dominion were losing numbers. He got a call from an unexpected source, his “wife,” Mira Han, who told him that she was upset he didn’t think to consult her, and that she knew he needed more forces to combat Amon. Horner relented that it was necessary, and joined up with Han. Together, the two now field the might of the Dominion Armada and the brutality of Mira’s Marauders against an alien god, as one of the last bastions against annihilation.

  • Assault Galleon: These units are one of the few fully new models in Co-op, but seem to be based off of Mira’s mercenary starports from the mission “With Friends Like These…”, which also spawned units regularly. Its attacks seem similar to her ordinance towers from that mission.

    • Install Drone Hanger: The model of the assault drones launched are taken from the Griffins, small drone fighters that Horner fights when he has to take on Mira. In the mission, they use the portrait of an old Confederate adjutant.
  • Reaper: Reapers are jet pack assault infantry, trained from the most psychotic of criminals. While most criminals would be resocialized, implanted with false memories to make them loyal to their government, some terrans are immune to the process, and those criminals who couldn’t be controlled were taken to the Reaper Program with the promise their crimes would be forgiven if they completed their service. Very few ever survive that long. Many reapers, being psychotic criminals, tend to abandon the Dominion at first opportunity, and flee into the wanting arms of mercenary groups. Mira’s Marauders are famous for their number of reapers, as well as their distinctive armored mohawks.

    • KD8 Charges/LD9 Cluster Charges: D8 Charges were given to Dominion reapers in order to disrupt enemy structures, but soon the Dominion found these charges were just as likely to be used against their own forces in robbery and escape attempts, so they were given less in the way of explosives. Mira’s Marauders however have no such compunctions.
    • Combat Drugs: As reaper safety is of minimal importance compared to combat effectiveness, a cocktail of cell stimulants and growth hormones were given to reapers upon the program’s initial founding. This allowed them to recover from wounds quickly, but caused a number of growth-related side effects (including, as one marine reports “face tentacles.”) Under Valerian the use of these drugs was no longer mandated, though many mercs lacked such care for safety.
  • Widow Mine: During the Guild Wars, Kel-Morian fighter Victor Kachinsky revolutionized use of spider mines in combat, refitting them with advanced AI to ambush Confederate positions. When Mengsk founded the Dominion, having seen Victor’s work first hand during his time in the war, he had him killed and his research taken back to the Dominion. From his work came the widow mine, a robotic walking missile launcher that could burrow and fire a sentinel missile at targets, and after a short time rebuild and rearm itself.

    • Executioner Missile: Mira’s Marauders experimented with their mines, with the side effects being rather explosively destructive. This led to widow mines with more weapons and armaments crammed into their design.
  • Hellion: Hellions were outfitted scouts created after the Brood War, in order to replace the dangerous vulture bike. Usually, these durable buggies were given powerful flamethrowers to deal with enemy zerg formations. Mira’s Marauders however outfitted theirs for desert fighting, and instead utilize infernal grenade launchers to bust up enemy armored targets. They are designed to get their drivers out of bad situations quickly and look dangerous in the process.

    • Aerosol Stim Emitters: Stimpacks are a dangerous and addictive drug cocktail common through the sector, especially in the deadly life of a mercenary. Mira’s hellions are very tight lipped as to weather they utilize illegal stim emitters in the hulls of their outfitted buggies. Out of universe, this is very much a reference to the chrome spray from Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • Hellbat: Hellbats were an invention in the second half of the Second Great War, transforming the buggy into a bipedal walker. With armor focused on the front, hellbats could ward away swarms of energy attackers, and their flamethrowers were shortened to be a shorter range but wider dispersal cone. Mira’s hellbats are outfitted with deadly explosives that will disrupt enemy positions with the driver and his mech meet their doom.

  • Theia Raven: Ravens were initially drones designed to survey the fringe worlds, but soon found a place in the Dominion’s naval forces, replacing the supermassive and bulk science vessel which proved a deadly target for enemy attackers. It worked as a mobile factory, able to replicate auto-turrets, drones and even missiles on the field, all while controlled from an operator miles away. Its advanced sensors are able to detect cloaked and burrowed units kilometers away, which appears to be more the focus of this model of raven.

  • Asteria Wraith: Wraiths replaced the Confederate fighter, the Avenger, after the Guild Wars, and became a staple of terran fleets. It was outfitted with an advanced cloaking system, powerful Gemini Missiles for aerospace combat, and burst lasers to strafe ground targets. Its generalized role was largely replaced by the more specialized Viking and Banshee, but the Wraith continued to be used by the powers of the sector well after it supposedly faded out, even nearly half a decade after the End War. These wraiths appear to be more powerful variants, augmented with Mira’s technology to enhance their cloaking and burst lasers, though lacking a Gemini Missile payload against air targets.

  • Deimos Viking: The Viking was a craft made to replace the Wraith and Goliath in their anti-air roles, being a transforming mech that can be a ground fighter with his Gatling Cannons, or an air fighter with devastating Lanzer Torpedoes. Diemos Vikings are augmented by technology from Mira’s Marauders, who are known for Vikings with augmented engine that give an intimidating roar when revved.

    • Shredder Rounds: This ability seems to be a reference to the straight-line shot ability of the Archangel (an advanced Viking prototype) in Heroes of the Storm, where it fires a similar piercing attack in its role as a map boss on “Braxis Holdout.”
  • Sovereign Battlecruiser: The iconic hammerhead battlecruiser is the flagship style of the Dominion Armada, outfitted with multiple laser batteries, a primary Yamato Cannon, and various other payloads, these ships server as the command centers for many terran operations. Not much is known on the Sovereign Battlecruiser, though its base design appears to be based off of the advanced Moirai-class battlecruiser used by the Dominion Special Forces. When upgraded, it is given the deadly looking design of Mira’s battlecruisers, which outfit supermassive blades on their side wings in order to intimidate their prey and look cool doing it.

    • ATX Laser Batteries: The default payload of the Soverign Battlecruiser, this was a technology that canonically would show up years later when Nova Terra raided the research base of the Defenders of Man. During that time, this allowed the battlecruisers to shoot multiple targets around them at once.
    • Mini Yamato Cannon: The powerful Yamato Cannon is a concentrated plasma burst with the payload of a small nuke, concentrated via a series of magnets. It appears that through overcharging the battlecruiser’s reactor, much smaller Yamato bursts can be fired in rapid succession, keeping the pressure on targets with only some major potential danger to the battlecruiser.
  • Tactical Jump: Warp drives is the technology of which ships navigate the cosmos at faster-than-light via a pocket of space named warp space, but it is a dangerous prospect, as unplanned jumps can heavy damage the ship if not properly plotted, or run them into a star or gravity well upon exit. However, tactical uses of jumps were found to be effective, and a second very short-range warp drive was outfitted into battlecruisers to let them move between warfronts or avoid enemy ambushes. This technology appears to also be outfitted into other advanced ships of the Dominion Armada.

  • Mag-mines: Mag-mines are a defensive explosive used by Mira Han to protect her mineral asteroids in deep space, as well as to defend her space platforms. They magnetically lock onto intruders, then shoot a powerful payload in a straight line that deals damage in an area.

  • Precision Strike: Not much is known about strike fighters, as they were introduced in Co-op, though these fighters appear to be able to focus down targets using high speed bombing runs on key positions.

  • Call in the Fleet: Having command of the Dominion Armada, Horner can call in a large number of ships to strafe an area and soften up the position for ground forces to take control. The centerpiece of this fleet is the massive Gorgon-class battlecruiser, the largest ship created by the Dominion, which became key in Valerian’s control of Dominion Space after his rise to power.

  • Space Station Reallocation: Mira controls Dead Man’s Rock and the space around it, and has access to many scrapped space stations, remains of fleets from space battles, and other junkyards. By strapping a jump drive to a ruined space station, Mira can turn her trash into a powerful weapon, able to smash into enemy positions. These stations are outfitted with automated Griffin fighters, and on rare occasions, a nuclear payload.

  • Han: “Well, you like it rough don’t you Matthew?”: A reference to her quote to Matt during the mission ”With Friends Like These…” When Matt assaults her space station and says she never made things easy for him, she says “I thought you liked it rough.”

  • Han: ”My reputation demands no less.”: In Heart of the Swarm, Mira refuses to give Orlan over to Matt, as it does not meet the exact wording of her contract with Raynor, and she refuses to besmirch her reputation by breaking a contract.

  • Horner: ”The Raiders will never let me live this one down…”: Raynor and his crew (Raynor’s Raiders) were known to pick on Matt every time they visited Dead Man’s Rock for his “relationship” with Mira.

  • Han: “I haven’t felt this happy since I won you in that poker game!”: A bit of revisionist history on the part of Mira, it was Matt that won Mira in a poker game, though Mira likely sees herself as the winner.

  • Han: ”Never go against a mercenary when marriage is on the line.”: A reference to The Princess Bride, with the quote “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”

  • Han: ”I did not receive the death sentence in 12 star systems because I am easy to talk to.”: A reference to the Star Wars: A New Hope quote, “I received the death sentence in 12 systems.” This was reference earlier when Raynor first meets Mira in Wings of Liberty before “Cutthroat,” where the screen says the same fact.

  • Matt Horner is the first commander to have been fully introduced from the books before making the jump to the games (barring Vorazun, Alarak and Nova who were introduced in short stories and books in preparation for a game release that they were announced for first), having been introduced in the novel Queen of Blades as the captain of the Hyperion before Chris Metzen decided to use him for Wings of Liberty.

  • Horner’s Starport is attached to Mira Han’s tech lab. The description for the tech lab says it appears to be welded to the side of the starport, preventing it from lifting off.

  • In Wings of Liberty, Mira’s Marauders were initially named “Mira’s Mercs.” This was later changed. Mira’s Marauders also used the standard Wings of Liberty recruitable mercenaries for her army.

  • Horner’s units start with the Dominion Special Forces skin (with the exception of the Asteria Wraith, which uses the default model) before they are given their first upgrade, but upon being upgraded they are changed to have Mira’s skin.

    • Similarly, Mira’s supply depots start with Mira’s skin, but are given Horner’s Supply Drop after the player reaches Level 8.
  • The music that plays when Call in the Fleet is uses is a distorted version of

  • Initially, Horner appeared as part of Raynor’s Hyperion calldown, which had his portrait and quotes. After Horner’s debut as a commander, this was changed to be Jim Raynor piloting the Hyperion.

  • During early development the team considered giving Horner a command ship, but developers thought this was too close to the Hyperion, and development gradually shifted to mix Han and Horner. Data exists for them being able to build Warhounds, Valkyries (campaign variant), Griffons, and Ordinance Towers. A “Han Marine” unit exists, which appears to be the trooper from Nova Covert Ops. Starports and science facilities could also be built.

That’s all for this batch! This is the last commander for a while, at least until BlizzCon if we do get a commander there (I’ll be going if anyone wants to say hi). I may do other mini episodes, but may move to a more visual format since the MSPaint lore facts seem to go over better than longform text. But I haven’t abandoned these entirely and intend to keep the up each launch. So I’ll see you all around!

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