StarCraft

Nova Terra – Co-op Commander Lore

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Hey folks,

Been out of this for a while yelling about lore inaccuracies, but back for an episode on the lore of Co-op Commanders. This one’s a bit of a doozie, we have November Annabelle Terra, former daughter of the Confederate Old Families turned ghost agent. She was to be the protagonist of the console shooter StarCraft: Ghost, but that was infamously delayed for a decade and canceled. But even so she has two entire books, three chapters of a manga, and two games worth of lore to go through. So, I’ll go up to Legacy of the Void and bring her up to the point where she’s fighting Amon’s Forces, if you want to see her continuing story, there’s two more comics and a whole campaign about her. But for her origins, let’s begin.

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Link to previous Co-op lore episodes


CHARACTER BIOGRAPHY: NOVA TERRA

Longform story here.

Child of the Confederacy

November was born on the planet of Tarsonis, capital of the Terran Confederacy, to the esteemed Terra Family, one of the Old Families who ran the Terran Confederacy, both owning the majority of its businesses and having essentially complete control of the Confederacy’s political infrastructure. Nova herself, one of the younger daughters of the family, had a burgeoning psionic talent that manifested in a large amount of empathy. Her father however did not wish to turn her over to the Ghost Program, and used his contacts to keep her under their radar.

However, on Nova’s 15th birthday the Confederacy was in chaos. A three way war had broken out with the newly discovered Protoss Empire and Zerg Swarm, destroying the Confederacy’s Fringe Worlds. More of a threat was the revolutionary Arcturus Mengsk and his Sons of Korhal, who had gained momentum and targeted the holdings of the Old Families. Fearing for their safety, many of the children of the Old Families were sent to a safehouse on Tyrador IX, Nova set to be among them. But as Nova boarded the ship, she sensed something: her family was in danger.

She left the ship and ran back to her family’s skyscraper, and arrived to see her family executed by anti-Confederacy terrorists working for a Gustavo McBain. When they turned to execute her, the stress of the incident caused the full might of her psionic powers to awaken in an explosive burst. This mind blast killed everyone else in the skyscraper, leaving hundreds dead. Deeply afraid and now hearing the thoughts of everyone around her, Nova fled through Tarsonis City.

She arrived in the poorest part of the city, the Gutter, where she tried to find some peace, but was gradually being driven insane by the voices of those around her. When criminals tried to rape her, she fought them back with her psionics. This caught the attention of the crimelord who ran the Gutter, Julius “Fagin” Dale, who tried to recruit her into his syndicate. When enforcers failed, he tried to starve her out, ordering nobody in the Gutter to give her food. When this failed, he sent legions of children and drug addicts at her, their chaotic thoughts overwhelming her. He captured Nova, and used an anti-psionic device he got from the Confederate military named a psi screen to keep her from using her powers on him, as well as cause her excruciating pain.

Months passed, and Fagin grew more and more unhinged, using Nova to scan the thoughts of his men and psionically kill both his enemies and allies seemingly at random. What he did not know is the psi screen was meant to be used in short doses, and the use of it for months was damaging his brain and causing him to lose his memory and become unstable. But Nova was also being pursued by the Ghost Program, who noted her psionic outburst, and needed a weapon such as her to fight the zerg. They sent one of their wranglers, Malcolm Kelerchian, to hunt her down, but all trails went cold, until he discovered word of a blonde psionic being used by a crimelord.

Though the Sons of Korhal fleet threatened to siege Tarsonis that day, Kelerchian was granted use of a marine squad named the Annihilators, as Nova was still considered an extreme priority. They raided Fagin’s den, and rescued Nova, with Kelerchian informing her the Ghost Program could help her train and wipe the memory of all the horrible things she had to do under Fagin. Nova was ecstatic, and was taken off of Tarsonis… Just as the Sons of Korhal released their psi emitters, sending legions of zerg to annihilate the entire planet.

Ghost Academy

The Sons of Korhal took over the remnants of the Confederacy, reforming it into the Terran Dominion. After the Ghost Program’s reformation in the aftermath of the Brood War, Nova was sent for training, being assigned to Team Blue. Nova was fierce at her training, hoping to have the memory of her past wiped, but did not work well with her teammates at the start. Nonetheless, she began to befriend them, including Delta Emblock, a younger ghost in training, and Gabriel Tosh, a devout believer in Arcturus’s Dominion. The two had a brief romantic stint, but it did not last long. Team Blue butted heads with a separate Team Red, constantly getting the best of one another.

On a training operation to the Baker’s Dozen, Nova and her ghosts sensed a distress signal coming from one of the worlds. They discovered that Nova’s old friends, children of the Old Families, were locked in a safehouse surrounded by the zerg. Nova and her ghost trainees redirected their efforts to breaking through to the children, though the conflict had them suffer heavy losses. To allow them to escape, Nova unleashed a mind blast on the zerg, wiping out their advance, but seriously wounding Tosh.

As it would turn out, Mengsk had sent the zerg at that safehouse to kill the children. He had them quietly executed, and all ghosts involved, Nova included, mind wiped of those events. But it would turn out that Tosh’s damaged mind made him immune to the wipe, and he would remember everything of Mengsk’s treachery. He later would fake his death to escape the Ghost Program.

Nova meanwhile would graduate early, her skills, drive, and powerful psionic abilities (one of the few PI 10s ever discovered) putting her ahead of her comrades. As part of her graduation, she was sent to assassinate Gustavo McBain, the man who ordered her family’s death. She did so efficiently, and was rewarded with a mind wipe of her time before joining the Dominion.

Agent of the Dominion

Nova was assigned to a myriad of operations, fighting protoss and zerg, but largely assassinating Mengsk’s enemies, political dissentients, agents of other terran nations, and the remnants of the United Earth Directorate fleet. After each brutal operation she would have her mind wiped to ensure her loyalty.

However, soon ghost agents began to vanish, one of her old training mates vanishing when investigating a vespene refinery. Its explosion drew a number of zerg to the planet, and Nova was sent in with a marine squadron, under Nova Squadron (no relation to Nova) and their commander Jackson Hauler to investigate. She fought through the zerg, but instead of ghosts found her old wrangler friend, Malcolm Kelerchian. Though at first she did not remember him, something in the gas in the air began to undo her mind wipes.

With the zerg cleared, Nova investigated the planet, uncovering that psionics soldiers were involved, as well as something called “Shadowblade.” Not long after however they got word: Arcturus’s Mengsk palace was under attack by unknown psionic soldiers.

Nova and Nova Squadron were sent to the palace, and Nova infiltrated, finding that these powerful ghosts were named “spectres,” and led by Gabriel Tosh in an attempted kidnapping of Mengsk. Tosh and his forces disabled a number of Nova’s ghosts, and forced a gas named terrazine on her, which undid her memory wipes and caused every horrible event that she ever did to rush back to her. Tosh hoped it would open her eyes as to the atrocities of the Dominion. Yet she remained loyal, and warded Tosh and his spectres away, though at heavy cost.

Nova and Kelerchian met with Arcturus Mengsk, who explained to them to truth behind Shadowblade and the spectres: they were an offshoot of the ghost program to enhance ghost psionic potential, but the fact terrazine drove terrans insane and undid memory wipes forced them to shut the project down. However, some seemed to have returned and sought to overthrow Mengsk. Mengsk gave Nova one order: kill everyone involved in the plot; the spectres, their families, and anyone connected to them.

Nova and Kelerchian began to investigate the spectres, but shortly in their investigation were knocked out by a trap set on their ship. As it would turn out, Jackson Hauler, leader of Nova Squadron, was running the spectres, and was using his position as cover for his operations. He tried to recruit Nova by threatening Kelerchian, but she escaped. Eventually, she cornered Hauler, and the two had a showdown, but after it was revealed Hauler had killed one of Tosh’s teammates, Tosh turned on his former commander and helped Nova kill him. Nova allowed Tosh to escape and left the spectre platform with Kelerchian. The platform was nuked by Dominion forces, putting an end to Hauler’s schemes to overthrow Mengsk.

Yet, her hunt was not over, and Nova set about hunting down the remaining spectres, Tosh included. She soon discovered Tosh had allied with the rebel Jim Raynor and his Raynor’s Raiders. She tried to contact Raynor to convince him to help her get rid of the spectres. Here the player gets a choice, but canonically Raynor refuses her, and helps Tosh break into the prison of New Folsom to rescue political prisoners and the spectres imprisoned there. Raynor now had his own psionic army to combat Mengsk.

Nova would get her revenge not long after however, as she and her old training mate Delta Emblock would be assigned to capture Jim Raynor and the newly deinfested Sarah Kerrigan, who were hiding in the rival nation of the Umojan Protectorate. Nova broke into the base with a Dominion squad, and though Kerrigan escaped, she cornered Raynor and put a bullet through his visor. Raynor survived but was imprisoned.

Nova’s operations were not enough to stop Kerrigan’s return though. She came back leading the Swarm, freed Raynor, and besieged Korhal, devastating its defenses and killing Arcturus Mengsk. In his place, Arcturus’s son Valerian Mengsk took over for his father, promising a new and fairer Dominion. Nova was loyal to the Dominion and not a single person, and thus fell in line with the new regime.

But a year later, a massive armada led by protoss/zerg hybrid appeared, under the fallen xel’naga Amon, who created the protoss and the zerg. Mass numbers of the spectres Nova hunted were subverted to Amon’s will. The Dominion faced an unrelenting assault from all sides. Commanding the Dominion’s Special Forces, Nova now brings her elite squad and the best technology the Dominion has to offer to turn the tide against this new, brutal enemy.


UNITS AND UPGRADES

Some of these upgrades only have details after the End War (in Nova Covert Ops), so I’ll give what information we have on them even if it breaks the timeline a little bit.

  • Elite Marine: Marines are the standard frontline soldiers of the Terran Dominion, armed with flexible C-14 Impaler Rifles. Marines of the Dominion Special Forces are known to not stay in the service for long, but the constant action keeps many marines interested in the position.

    • Laser Targeting System: A standard loadout for marines of the Dominion Special Forces, this outfits their rifles with a targeting laser to shoot targets at greater range.
    • Super Stimpack: After the End War, the research staff of Rory Swann did research in ways to prevent the hostile side effects of consuming these stimulants. Such a variant was also designed for use by ghost agents, which formerly were generally discouraged from using stimpacks (though some did anyway).
  • Marauder Commando: The Marauder Commando powered armor is an improvement over the standard 5-4 Powered Armor of marauders. A survey was done to see what improvements could be made, and the results were universal among marauders: bigger guns. The researchers obliged.

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    • Suppression Shells: An enhanced version of the Concussive Shell, the principle remains the same: these shells warp gravity in a small area, slowing enemies caught in its blast.
    • Magrail Munitions: This technology was taken from the Eradicators war bots of the Umojan Protectorate after the End War, when Nova raided an infested Umojan colony on Jarban Minor. They first a small railgun burst to give the marauders some extra damage.
  • Spec Ops Ghost: To be a ghost in the Terran Confederacy and Arcturus’s Dominion was to serve as a brutal assassin, damned to be a soldier until you die, and prone to being culled at the first sign of disobedience (or if Arcturus decided he needed to purge the program). Under Valerian, reforms were done to the program, including allowing ghosts voluntary service and the ability to retire, and the ability to choose if they want to be mind wiped. This had led to recruits who are more loyal to the Dominion rather than constantly at risk of rebelling.

    • EMP Round: Ghosts can switch the ammunition in their weapons to suit the battlefield situation. Once outfitted on science vessels and replacing Lockdown Rounds, these EMP rounds drain the energy and shields of targets caught in their wake, shutting down computerized systems and allowing the ghost to clear the way to their target.
    • Triple Tap: Ghosts can psionically slow down their perception of time around them, and some can telekinetically “move” bullets from their guns mid-flight to adjust their course. This makes ghosts deadly and efficient snipers. This ability is also a reference to one of Nova’s level 10 abilities in Heroes of the Storm which nobody should pick.
  • Hellion/Hellbat Ranger: These variants were a redesigned version of the hellion buggy, given a sleek three-wheel design. Drivers of these buggies say they are more fun to drive than their standard variants.

    • Jump Jet Assault: The jump jets were initially designed by the scientist Reigel for use in Special Forces siege tanks to allow them to move up and down cliffs. However, they were refitted for use in hellbats, and let the mecha “jump” at targets.
    • Infernal Pre-Igniter: An upgrade for the standard hellion, a secondary flame is added to the hellion’s weapon systems, allowing it to ignite earlier in the process and meaning hellion pilots do not have to ignite a misfired flamethrower with a lighter. The blue color in an older upgrade is from the addition of thermite to the fueling process, but it is unclear whether it is still the case in this weapon.
  • Heavy Siege Tank: A heavily modified version of the standard siege tank, this improved design on the Crucio siege tank included reinforced plating and heftier cannons. Curiously, the cannons are not Crucio cannons, but rather Arclite cannons, used by the siege tanks of the First Great War and Brood War. It’s unclear if this was intentional, as they are based off the siege tank mercenaries from the campaign which WERE refitted Arclite siege tanks.

    • Spider Mines: Spider mines are a technology that dates back to Earth, and has remained largely unchanged. They burrow into the ground, and possess a targeting system that allows it to distinguish the movement of enemies. When it detects an enemy, it will unburrow and rush at them. The use of spider mines in siege tanks is likely a reference to the character Alabama Kowalksi (Sgt. Hammer) in Heroes of the Storm, who has it as an ability.
    • Graduating Range: There is not much lore on this upgrade, but it is another Heroes of the Storm reference to Sgt. Hammer, who has this upgrade as a talent.
  • Strike Goliath: Not much is known about the Special Forces variant of the Goliath. Its design appears to take from the walkers of the United Earth Directorate, which featured advanced missile pods and upgraded technology over their sector variants.

    • Ares-Class Targeting System: An upgrade for the regular goliath, the Ares-class targeting system is an AI that is designed to let the Hellfire Missiles of the goliath target more distant enemies, while also letting it better predict the paths of ground targets for its autocannons to strike.
    • Lockdown Missiles: The Lockdown Round dates back to the early pre-Great War era ghost loadouts, where the ammunition of their C-10s could be switched to round that exploded in a pulse that disabled enemy vehicles. These were largely switched to designated “lockdown devices,” but these missiles appear to be a variant on that same technology.
  • Raven Type-II: The type-II is an enhancement on the old raven, which was largely designed to patrol border colonies. It is said the Type-II can hear Kel-Morian miners whispering to one another from two kilometers underground. These ravens are outfitted with enhanced railgun turrets, a bio-mechanical healing drone to repair allies, and an enhanced Seeker Missile named the “Predator Missile.”

    • Enhanced Manufacturing: The raven serves as a mobile factory which can fabricate technology such as turrets or drones on the battlefield. As the Special Forces have the best technology in the Dominion, their ravens can be enhanced to further the capacity of these factories.
    • Covert Triage: Not much is known about the tech behind the Bio-Mechanical Healing Drone, but this upgrade allows them to cloak whatever they are healing, keeping wounded allied shrouded as they are brought back into the fight.
  • Covert Banshee: The banshee was an advanced project in creating the ultimate terran stealth craft, and its design was further improved for the Special Forces. The twin VTOL turbofans were upgraded, and a vertical stabilizer was added, improving a pilot’s control of the craft.

    • Advanced Cloaking Field: Even among regular banshees, the cloaking technology was considered to be invaluable among the Dominion. When one was downed, special teams were sent to either recover the cloaking module or destroy it.
    • Rocket Barrage: Banshees utilize Backlash Rockets to bombard ground targets before they can ever see them coming. Advanced versions, such as the Shockwave Missiles, were developed to hit enemies in a small area, dealing well with clumps of units.
  • Raid Liberator: The liberator is an aircraft designed from technology taken from the United Earth Directorate Valkyrie, creating a ship that can assault air targets with masses of rockets and turn into a “Defender Mode,” using a large Concord Cannon to assault ground targets. The Special Forces utilize a variant with improved neosteel plating and more complex plate designs, augmenting the ship’s transformation process.

    • Smart Servos: After the End War, Reigel developed an advanced servo system that could be used to augment the transformation time of forces. The liberator was the primary unit for which he designed this for, allowing it to switch forms nearly instantaneously.
    • Raid Artillery: The Special Forces variant on the liberator has cannons that can attack structures in Defender Mode. There’s no lore reason why normal ones can’t, so this is mostly a gameplay thing.
  • Special Forces SCV: Due to the unique nature of their opertions, the SCVs sent with the Special Forces on covert operations are outfitted with upgrades such as stronger utility clamps and laser extraction claws.


NOVA ABILITIES AND UPGRADES
  • Stealth Mode: Nova utilizes a C-20A Canister Rifle, an improvement over the standard ghost C-10 due to its different firing modes. Nova’s powerful psionics make her a skilled sniper, allowing her to predict where targets will be before they arrive and twist bullets to reach them. She also utilizes a Hostile Environment Suit named the Tactical Stealth Suit, optimized for extended periods behind enemy lines.

    • Tac Nuke Strike: Using their rifles, ghosts can place trackers for small tactical nuclear missiles, which lets them guide the nukes to key positions and alleviates the risk of the nukes being hacked to hit allied targets.
  • Assault Mode: In assault mode, Nova is outfitted with an advanced Phase Reactor Suit, created from the blink technology of the protoss stalker, and further augmented with the Iconic Force Field technology first created by Egon Stetmann during his time working for the Dominion. Nova also switches her C-20A to the Hellfire Shotgun, a shotgun designed to channel a small explosion through a reinforced muzzle to create a devastating arc of fire.

    • Holo Decoy: This holographic technology was initially developed as advanced communication tech by the Umojan Protectorate, but was assimilated into a zerg creature named the Blightbringer when their colony of Jarban Minor fell. Nova killed the Blightbringer during her raid on the colony, and Reigel augmented the technology to create a solid light decoy that can damage solid matter. The decoy here uses a replicant of a monomocular blade, a sword sharped by the psionic ability of the user to be sharp down to a single molecule at its tip.
  • Ghost Visor: The Ghost Visor is an advanced interface that allows agents to receive critical intelligence when on the battlefield. The visors can scan the surrounding area for hostiles, and create a map for the agent to use when in combat. Nova’s visor is enhanced to even detect cloaked and burrowed enemies around her.

  • Caduceus Reactor The technology of the Caduceus Reactor was first introduced to the sector by the United Earth Directorate invasion, which were used to increase the energy of their technologically advanced medics. This tech has since been appropriated by the Dominion for their own use.


CALLDOWNS
  • Defense Drone: As the Special Forces are few in number, advanced robotics have been designed to increase their survivability in combat.

  • Air Strike/Tactical Airlift: These upgrades utilize Nova’s ship, the Griffin. According to the concept art, it is a Condor-class ship that is utilized for stealth operations behind enemy lines. Nova used it as her home base when she was investigated the conspiracy surrounding the separatist group the Defenders of Man, and when she went rogue from the Dominion, she continued to use the ship as her headquarters.


TALENTS
  • Level 1: Covert Ops: The name of Nova’s campaign is Nova Covert Ops, which does describe her usual role as a covert operative. Her specific squadron of the Dominion Special Forces has been named the “Covert Ops Crew” by Valerian (though some think it’s more a general descriptor).

  • Level 7: Automated Refineries: The technology to automate vespene gas extraction without SCVs was first developed by Egon Stetmann during the Second Great War when he was researching protoss matrices for use in terran technology. This research was later applied to the Dominion Special Forces, who use refineries designed to produce 75% less noise.


TRIVIA
  • Some people think that Nova having the Griffin is one of the timeline inconsistencies in Co-op Missions, as Nova got it in Nova Covert Ops. This isn’t entirely a plot hole however, as nothing says she wasn’t granted access to it before Nova Covert Ops, though the game strongly implies that was her first time seeing the ship. At any rate, Co-op is of course not canon, and the bigger timeline issues come up in the upgrades Nova’s units have.

  • Each of Nova’s units has a randomly generated name you can see on their command card, and each unit is given a rank similar to that of their unit.

  • Nova has a lot of unused assets in the editor. She herself has data for most of her Nova Covert Ops gear, as well as new weapons like he Invictus Longshot. There is also data for her having reapers, cyclones, bunkers, and orbital command centers. Most notable is the fact that she seemed to, at one point, have the ability to summon the Odin as a calldown.


That’s all for this week. Next week (or whenever I do another one of these) is one of my all-time favorite characters in gaming, Alexei Stukov, so needless to say it’s an episode I’m excited to do. Hopefully you all liked this one, and I’ll see you all next time!

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