Four years after the end of the Brood War, Jim Raynor and the Raiders (among them idealistic Captain Matt Horner and gruff, inventive Chief Engineer Rory Swann), had become dedicated freedom fighters. Traveling between worlds on the Hyperion, they inspired revolution against Emperor Arcturus Mengsk, who had slowly reasserted control of Dominion space in the Koprulu sector through propaganda and fear.
Alone with his regrets – his inability to save Sarah Kerrigan from her infestation, his part in Mengsk’s rise to power, and the impossibility of overthrowing a galactic dictator – Jim found himself sharing a drink with his old friend, escaped convict Tychus Findlay, who suggested they recover a particular group of alien artifacts and sell them to eager buyers in the Moebius Foundation. Since Mengsk had criminalized transportation of the selfsame artifacts, Jim agreed.
As Tychus and Raynor uncovered an artifact on Mar Sara, the Zerg, nearly unseen since the Brood War, began assailing the world, triggering a three-way race between the Dominion, the Raiders and the returned Queen of Blades to recover more artifacts. Kerrigan’s presence agitated Raynor and intrigued Tychus, who seemed particularly interested Jim and Sarah’s relationship.
When Captain Horner uncovered that the Dominion had a low-security supply train running on Tarsonis, the Raiders deployed Diamondback hover-tanks, outflanked the trains and made off with their cargo, including an ancient Confederate adjutant, a data-storage and communication-focused AI. The decrypted adjutant contained transmissions from the fall of Tarsonis – including evidence of Mengsk’s use of the Zerg against Terrans. Now, the Raiders had a weapon that could truly counter the dictator’s propaganda.
Raynor also retrieved a pair of artifacts on the planets of Monlyth and Xil, where they were guarded by the Tal’darim, violent Protoss extremists unaffiliated with the Khalai or the Dark Templar. Though Raynor was increasingly interested in retrieving artifacts, he was also disconcerted by the reverence the Tal’darim displayed towards them – and the renewed presence of the Zerg in Terran space.
Wracking his brain to suss out the connection, Jim found a surprise visitor on board his ship – the Dark Templar prelate Zeratul.
Raynor and Zeratul had not seen in each other in years, but their reunion was hardly warm. The Protoss greeted Jim with a warning of doom, delivered through an ihan crystal that contained his recent memories. The crystal was more than a record; it allowed Jim to relive Zeratul’s memories.
Following rumors of a prophecy involving the Xel’Naga, the ancient aliens that uplifted Protoss and Zerg in the distant past, Zeratul had arrived on the planet Ulaan – as had the Queen of Blades. The two battled, but Zeratul escaped with fragments of a tablet describing the prophecy in detail, and headed to the planet Zhakul to ask the preservers, a caste of historical archivists, to translate them.
On Zhakul, Zeratul encountered one of the frightful hybrids, a mature version of the abomination that he’d seen years ago under Duran’s care. The Dark Templar’s forces avoided the near-invincible hybrid and reached the preservers, whose interpretation of the prophecy revolved around a “Great Hungerer.” This led Zeratul to Aiur, where he sought answers from the corpse of the Overmind.
On Aiur, Zeratul’s attempts to commune with the Overmind brought him into contact with a being whose spirit was closely connected with the creature – his old ally, Tassadar, who had perished slaying it. Tassadar imparted a terrible truth: the Overmind had created the Queen of Blades to liberate the Zerg. The Overmind foresaw a future where a being called the Fallen One used the Zerg to destroy Protoss and Terran utterly, and so it had mutated a Terran to try and exempt its species from a future of servitude. Shaken, Raynor realized that Kerrigan, murderous as she was, was the only hope of preventing the Zerg from exterminating all life in the sector.
Meanwhile, the Raiders had hatched a plan to publicly discredit Mengsk – hijacking the Odin, a titanic siege mech planned to parade through the emperor’s square on Korhal. During the ultramech’s rampage, the Raiders were able to broadcast evidence of Mengsk’s corruption throughout the Dominion worlds.
Shock and outrage erupted in the Dominion; several worlds seceded. Mengsk’s rule was shaken.
As Jim turned his attention back to gathering artifacts, he received word that Tyrador, home of the Moebius Foundation, was under attack by the Zerg. Not wanting to lose his buyers, Raynor arrived on the planet to evacuate Dr. Emil Narud and recover the Foundation’s data. The Queen of Blades herself commanded the attack, leading Narud to speculate that she feared the source of the artifacts: the ancient Xel’Naga.
Shortly after spiriting most of the Moebius scientists off-planet, Raynor found himself contacted by the head of the Foundation, Valerian Mengsk – Arcturus’s son. Valerian insisted that the Xel’Naga artifacts could be combined into a whole that, when activated, would restore humanity to the Queen of Blades. Though initially distrustful, Jim agreed to work with Valerian. He’d wanted to stop the Zerg and allay his guilt over Sarah’s transformation; now he had a chance.
The Raiders retrieved the last artifact pieces from the dying planet Typhon and a mysterious Xel’Naga world-ship populated by Tal’darim zealots before initiating Valerian’s plan: an assault on Char, led by General Horace Warfield, to un-infest the Queen of Blades. Success in this endeavor wouldn’t just restore Kerrigan – it would prove, Valerian hoped, that he was a suitable successor to his father.
The battle for Char was brutal, with massive losses of life among the fleet, but, after establishing a base on the surface, Raynor installed the reassembled artifact near Kerrigan. The full fury of the hive world descended on the Terrans, but the artifact pulsed with energy, dispersing the Zerg and melting away Kerrigan’s zerg-like features. As the Queen of Blades lay stunned, Raynor ran to recover her
……and Tychus followed the orders that freed him from jail in the first place – Mengsk’s orders – leveling his gun and attempting to slay the de-infested Queen of Blades. Stunned, Raynor made the split-second decision to shoot his friend before Tychus could take Sarah’s life.
With her humanity seemingly restored, and the swarm fracturing behind them, Raynor helped a weary, amnesiac Sarah off of Char. Had the Second Great War been brought to an end?