Lore Tuesdays #2 – Raynor’s Raiders
Hey all, in the second installment of this series we'll be looking at the rebel group campaign players will know from Wings of Liberty, but has actually been around through the entire franchise. Raynor's Raiders have been a force of change for the sector since the protoss and zerg arrived in the sector, and have fought for the protection of the common terran in a time of clashing superpowers. I'll try to give the a rundown that’s full but not inaccessable, but I want these to be accessible to those who only have a basic understanding of the lore. But I’ll warn everyone, this is a long one.
For those multiplayer only players, Raynor's Raiders is sort of the “default” terran. The default terran decal, the three pointed symbol is of their group. Jim Raynor also shows up on the boxart of Wings of Liberty, and is probably the most important terran figure of the series. So we'll go into what exactly they are, and what they accomplished.
Raynor's Raiders pulled from a bunch of different groups displaced by the evils of the Terran Confederacy and the coming of the protoss and the zerg. Former marshal and outlaw Jim Raynor and the Mar Sara Colonial Militia were among those abandoned by the Confederacy on Mar Sara as it was overrun by the zerg. They were saved by the Sons of Korhal, a rebel group lead by the revolutionary Arcturus Mengsk who sought to bring down the Confederacy. They gave Raynor a commanding role, and gave him his own elite unit that could adopt the name of Raynor's Rangers from those loyal to him. The group took part in several major strikes against the Confederacy, finally aiding in the ground attack during the final strike against the Confederate capitol world of Tarsonis.
However, that's when Mengsk revealed his plan to unleash the zerg on Tarsonis using psi emitters to lure them to the surface. Billions died, including Mengsk's second in command and Raynor's lover Sarah Kerrigan, who was abandoned. Enraged, Raynor broke with the Sons of Korhal, swearing to get revenge for Tarsonis. Raynor's Rangers stole the battlecruiser Thunder Child and moved on the surface, rescuing what few Confederate holdouts could. However, he could not find Sarah Kerrigan. Finally, with little time left, Raynor escaped Tarsonis with the few survivors he had, fighting through General Duke's forces and a large Ion Cannon that attempted to stop him from leaving. Mengsk's forces rallied the remains of the Confederacy, the Kel-Morian Combine and the Umojans under one banner; the Terran Dominion. Raynor, knowing Mengsk's cruelty, swore to bring this new government down.
Against the Zerg and With the Protoss
The Raider's first order of business was to strike Mengsk's fleets as they were forming. Using the Thunder Child, the Raiders attacked the Dylarian Shipyards, where Mengsk had sent his fleets. Before they could react, the Raiders stole Mengsk's former flagship, a powerful Behemoth-class battlecruiser named the Hyperion.
Numbering about 300, the Raiders lacked direction on how exactly to bring down the new Dominion. They drifted about winning small victories until Raynor received a vivid dream of a volcanic world, a psychic call for help. Raynor and his new second in command Matt Horner narrowed it down to the world of Char, but when they arrived they found the zerg swarming there, fighting the new Dominion forces of General Duke. Raynor tried to land a force to find the source of the psychic distress signal, and dove into the caves of Char. There he found the truth; Sarah Kerrigan had been infested by the zerg, and he was too late. After a short battle where she killed a number of the Raiders, Kerrigan allowed Raynor and his men to live, for now.
The battle in space went less well, and the Hyperion was forced to jump away, stranding Raynor and his forces on the surface. Raynor and his men survived, forming an alliance with protoss forces who had also come to the world under Executor Tassadar, later meeting the dark templar under Dark Prelate Zeratul. They managed to avoid being killed by Kerrigan and strike a blow by killing a zerg cerebrate, but unknowingly that gave the zerg the location of Aiur as its Overmind touched minds with Zeratul. Soon however, the new Executor Artanis arrived to arrest Tassadar for working with the dark templar. Raynor stood with Tassadar, and helped them escape Char and return to Aiur.
After meeting back up with the Hyperion, they found Aiur in a state of civil war over whether Tassadar was correct or not. Raynor's Raiders aided with those loyal to Tassadar when he was captured and imprisoned in a stasis cell, and working with the Praetor Fenix, they broke Tassadar out. The group put a plan in motion to stun the Overmind by killing its cerebrates and strike the final blow. Raynor's Raiders helped in the final push against the Overmind's form, but they began to be pushed back by the zerg. Finally, Tassadar rammed his carrier into the Overmind's husk, using Void and Khala energies to destroy the creature once and for all. However, the now rampant zerg still rampaged across Aiur. The victory came at a cost for the Raiders, and infested terran structures could be seen across the surface of Aiur from their battle years later.
The Brood War
With their homeworld overrun and the fall of the protoss government, the Conclave, Zeratul and Artanis prepared to evacuate Aiur and flee to the Nerazim (dark templar) world of Shakuras. Meanwhile, Raynor's Raiders alongside the forces of Fenix held the warp gate as the survivors evacuated the planet. They were pushed back, which allowed the zerg to get through the warp gate, but managed to reclaim the gate and shut it down. Though this stopped the flow of zerg to Shakuras, they were now stranded.
Help came from an unlikely source; Sarah Kerrigan, who had been freed from the Overmind's control. She told them of new threats, of a new Overmind growing on Char that could control her if it matured, and that the forces of the terran homeworld of Earth, the United Earth Directorate, had come to invade the sector. Only working together could they defeat them. Reluctantly, the Raiders worked with Kerrigan to rescue their archenemy, Arcturus Mengsk, from the UED. After Korhal fell to their invasion, the Raiders and the protoss fleet arrived and saved him, using the protoss's dimensional recall to take him to Aiur. But the UED followed them, and blew through the protoss ranks to destroy the Raider's command center. However, the betrayal of an agent of Kerrigan in the UED's ranks, Samir Duran, allowed the zerg to stall the UED long enough for Raynor, Fenix and Mengsk to escape. The warp gate was destroyed behind them. The UED later took control of the Dominion and the new Overmind, giving them the control of the renegade broods that created it.
Now safe on Tarsonis, the Raiders helped Kerrigan strike as a key UED target, the psi disruptor on Braxis that allowed the UED to disrupt Kerrigan's control of the zerg. The Raiders hit the disruptor's power generators, allowing Mengsk to use his psi emitters to lure zerg to Kerrigan's hives. The combined forces were able to destroy the psi disruptor. After gathering enough resources, the combined might of Raynor's Raiders, Kerrigan's zerg, the Dominion remains and Fenix's protoss attacked Korhal, with the Raiders hitting outlying bases around Augustgrad. The UED and their slave zerg were driven from the planet.
However, Kerrigan had her own plans; with Korhal taken and her broods back she no longer had need for her terran and protoss allies. While they were recovering from the battle, Kerrigan attacked the bases of General Duke and Fenix, killing them both. Raynor swore that he'd kill Kerrigan for Fenix and all the lives she had taken in her quest for power, and departed Korhal.
Soon the Brood War ended, the UED was scattered, the Overmind destroyed, and the Dominion and protoss beaten by the zerg. Kerrigan withdrew her broods to Char, but Raynor was still out there, and his goals of bringing down Mengsk and Kerrigan had not been forgotten.
When the Dominion reformed from the ashes of the Brood War, Raynor's Raiders was now public enemy number one. Raynor's connections with the protoss had not been forgotten however, and Artanis, now leader of the unified protoss, called on his aid. The UED Vice-Admiral Alexei Stukov had been infested by one of the last renegade cerebrates named Kaloth on Braxis, and he needed Raynor to help deliver a nanite solution to “cure” him. Working alongside the first dragoon Taldarin, Raynor's Raiders and the protoss fought through Kaltoh's brood and Stukov's mercenaries, injecting the nanite cure into him and escaping the planet. Braxis was then purified from orbit, ending the threat of the last cerebrates. Raynor then reflected that if there was hope for Stukov, there may be hope for Kerrigan.
At some point, Raynor attempted to attack Char and kill Kerrigan. This failed so spectacularly that Raynor had given up hope of accomplishing killing Kerrigan, opting instead to focus on the Raider's main target; the Dominion.
The Raiders jumped from planet to planet, hitting Dominion targets and vanishing. They usually hid on zerg infested planets the Dominion would be too afraid to commit forces to, and often the protoss aided in defending Raynor from Dominion persuers. One group named the War Pigs were tasked with killing Raynor, but after being betrayed opted to join him instead. These strikes won him public support among those dissatisfied with the Dominion, but it was an uphill battle as the media turned the public against him and casualties mounted.
Along the way Raynor recruited some other valued team members for the Raiders. Though he was on good terms with the terran nation the Kel-Morian Combine, when they attacked a small mining revolt by Rory Swann Raynor's Raiders swooped in to evacuate the survivors. Swann then became Raynor's chief engineer. At the criminal haven of Deadman's Port, Raynor rescued the ex-Dominion scientist Egon Stetmann from execution, and he became one of their head scientists.
As people became disenfranchised with the tyrannical rule of Arcturus Mengsk, the Raider's numbers began to swell. However, the Raiders couldn't face the Dominion head on, and though the tactical genius of Matt Horner managed to keep them afloat the Raiders were losing battle after battle against the Dominion. Raynor himself became so depressed by this turn that he turned to heavy drinking. By 2504, four years after the Brood War, the Raiders had been brought down to just a skeleton crew of volunteers in their core force.
The Second Great War
Luck would shine on the Raiders, as Raynor's old stomping ground of Mar Sara would become forcibly claimed by the Dominion after it had been recolonized by the Kel-Morian Combine. The people of the settlement were ready to revolt, especially after large numbers were forced into digsites, and Raynor returned to help the revolution. After returning to his old home and reminiscing on times passed, Raynor lead a strike at Backwater Station, destroying the Dominion's logistics headquarters. Soon after their victory, Raynor would be contacted by his old friend from his days as a bandit, Tychus Findlay, who came with an offer on behalf of the Moebius Foundation, a research group. They wished to gain alien artifacts contraband by the Dominion, and would pay Raynor to do it. Raynor and his forces raided a digsite were an artifact was being uncovered, gaining the support of the separatists in the area. But after they claimed the artifact, Kerrigan's zerg arrived on Mar Sara as part of a massive attack on the Dominion. Raynor's Raiders held out in time for Matt Horner to arrive in the Hyperion and allow them to escape the planet with the artifact and separatists in toe. The Second Great War had begun.
While there isn't a direct timeline order to these, Raynor accomplished many major achievements during the conflict:
The planet of Agria had been hit hard by the zerg, and had to evacuate. The Raiders held the evacuation route long enough for her people to escape the planet and go to the Kel-Morian refugee camp on Meinhoff. However, that soon was infested by a new zerg virus, and the Raiders were forced to burn the infested to save the surviving refugees. Those that made it went to the planet Haven in protoss space, but a number of infested among the refugees forced the protoss under Executor Selendis to attack the colony. Raynor fought his old allies, destroying their Purifier mothership and saving the colony.
Raynor was contacted by ex-Ghost and former spectre (the next generation of ghosts from a failed new program) Gabriel Tosh, who offered him piracy jobs. He led Raynor to Redstone to find Jorium crystals, and to the planet of Bel'Shir to raid a gas called terrazine from a group of fanatic “renegade” protoss named the Tal'darim. Finally, Raynor lead an attack on the New Folsom prison, rescuing Tosh's spectre allies as well as thousands of political prisoners from Mengsk.
During his operations, Raynor was given a memory crystal by Zeratul, saying he had to see his memories to believe that Kerrigan needed to not be killed. The crystal showed that Zeratul had been looking for a prophecy from long ago of the return of a fallen xel'naga after he had discovered that Kerrigan's former assistant, Samir Duran, had been making protoss/zerg hybrids in service to a greater power. His search lead him to the corpse of the Overmind, where a figure that took the shape of Tassadar revealed to him a vision of the future without Kerrigan, the hybrid were the heralds of an End War where a fallen xel'naga would destroy all life in the galaxy (or universe, it kept going back and forth). In order to prevent this timeline, Kerrigan had to live.
On Tarsonis, the Raiders uncovered a salvage operation where the Dominion had found something important. After raiding their trains, they discovered that it was a Confederate adjutant that had overseen planetary security, but was locked down. They took it to a criminal named Colonel Orlan, but after he decrypted it Orlan tried to sell it to the Dominion. Raynor and one of his mercenary contacts Mira Han attacked Orlan and took back the adjutant. They discovered the adjutant had records showing Mengsk orchestrated the zerg attack on Tarsonis. Matt Horner revealed a plan; they would steal a new Dominion war machine named the Odin, and use the chaos of its attack during a parade to upload the data into the UNN (Dominion central media's) databases. The plan went off without a hitch, and revolts began across the Dominion. However, during the conflict the Raiders uncovered documents about a secret Dominion lab. There they discovered the truth; the protoss/zerg hybrids that were part of Zeratul's visions were being bred by the Dominion.
As this was going on, Raynor collected artifacts for the Moebius Foundation, all part of set called the Keystone. They fought through the zerg and Tal'darim under the crazed Executor Nyon to retrieve them, and helped Moebius after Kerrigan invaded their world. After retrieving all but one piece, the true benefactor of the Moebius Foundation revealed himself; the son of Arcturus Mengsk, Valerian Mengsk. He revealed that the artifact could make Kerrigan human again if pieced together. Raynor agreed to help in the attack on Char to save Kerrigan, much to the distaste of his crew, who talked of mutiny for working with the Dominion. Raynor managed to keep them together, and got the last piece of the artifact from a xel'naga worldship, killing Nyon in the attack.
Finally, the Raiders and the Dominion attacked Char itself, in a brutal and costly landing on the planet's surface. They took out the zerg's nydus worm tunnels, allowing ground forces to advance on Kerrigan's main hive. There they charged the Keystone, holding off against heavy zerg attacks lead by Kerrigan herself. The defense was a success, and Kerrigan was purified. But just then Tychus revealed he was working for Mengsk, and his suit would kill him if he didn't kill Kerrigan. Raynor then shot Tychus, and escaped the planet.
Soon, the other half of the Dominion fleet arrived, and Mengsk demanded that Kerrigan be handed over to him. Valerian refused, and after a tense debate the Dominion fleet turned in on itself, half loyal to Valerian and half loyal to Arcturus. However, Arcturus had the edge of not having fought the zerg, and began to destroy Valerian's forces. The Raiders and Dominion renegades fled, being tracked around the sector by the Dominion, being betrayed by spies in their own ranks (namely the Raider's bartender) and gaining aid from Mira Han as they attempted to rendezvous with Valerian’s Moebius contacts. They made it to a Moebius Foundation base where the head of the foundation, Doctor Narud was stationed. There he took the artifact that cleansed Kerrigan, and revealed he too was working for Mengsk. He released the hybrid on them as the Dominion attacked the Raiders, but due to the intervention of Kerrigan the Raiders were able to escape to the terran nation of the Umojan Protectorate, though they suffered heavy losses both from their enemies and from Kerrigan’s unrestrained powers.
Arcturus's Fall and a New Dominion
After fleeing to the Umojan base of XT39323, the Dominion renegades and Raiders were safe for a time, and tried to figure out how infested Kerrigan still was. As the tests ended the Dominion found them and attacked. The Raiders managed to escape, but Raynor himself was captured by ghost agent Nova Terra and reported dead. Matt Horner and Valerian attempted to find him but were forced to flee, and Kerrigan went her own way.
The Raiders drifted aimlessly for a while, attempting to gather support though they had been struck a heavy blow and now were virtually leaderless. Months later, they were contacted by a now infested Kerrigan who came back with the Swarm, who revealed Jim was alive. She needed to find him in the Dominion's datanet. The Raiders attempted to get Orlan, the one man who could do such a hacking, back from Mira Han, but she refused without Jim. The Raiders fought Mira and reclaimed Orlan, and discovered Jim on the prison ship Moros. Kerrigan busted him out, but Raynor was appalled she had become infested again, and refused to contact him.
Not long later, the Zerg prepared to attack Korhal, and Kerrigan notified Valerian and Horner. Valerian stated he would evacuate the civilian population if she set down her hive outside of the city, which would make the attack harder but save millions. Kerrigan reluctantly agreed, and while the zerg attacked Korhal the Raiders prepared a mass evacuation of the population. While this happened, Raynor himself took a force to attack Arcturus's main capital building of Korhal Palace. The two broke through the Dominion's Elite Guard, and Mengsk was killed. A long cycle that had started with the fall of Tarsonis had come to a close, and the Raiders had gotten their revenge.
However, this was only the beginning. The Raiders were committed not just to the destruction of Arcturus but the construction of a new a better Dominion. Raynor's Raiders became part of the new Dominion Armed Forces, with Matt Horner becoming new Admiral of the Dominion Fleet and Raynor becoming a commander. They strove to rebuild Korhal and redo the damages done by the war, creating more progressive reforms and allowing free speech.
This wasn't to last, not a year later the remains of the Moebius Foundation returned from their strange absence, with a large fleet under the thrall of the hybrid. The dark xel'naga from Zeratul's prophecy had returned, Amon. The Raiders attempted to fight off their fleets at Korhal, but were losing. Soon, Artanis arrived with the remains of the protoss not under Amon’s control in the powerful arkship the Spear of Adun, and helped the fight off Moebius's forces and their hybrid. He retrieved the Keystone from Korhal, which Zeratul found would be the key to stopping Amon, and wished Raynor luck in rebuilding the Dominion.
Though Moebius Corps was pushed back, the Raiders and Dominion still had the protoss's Golden Armada, a fleet of ships originally built to reclaim their homeworld of Aiur, to deal with, as it purified Dominion worlds. The Raiders fought a losing battle until they were recalled to Aiur; Artanis's plan to force Amon back into the Void had worked.
Two years later, the Raiders and protoss were called by Kerrigan for a final task; kill Amon in the Void. Lead by Raynor and Matt Horner, the Raiders alongside their mercenary and spectre allies moved into the Void, killing Samir Duran once and for all and defending Kerrigan as the last (possibly) xel'naga channeled his essence into her, making a new xel'naga that could defeat Amon. The Raiders, protoss and zerg fought a final battle against Amon, killing him and ending him as a threat once and for all.
Raynor vanished shortly after the conflict, and the Raiders became part of the Dominion. Horner maintained the fleets during an insurgency by the rebel group the Defenders of Man and when the zerg Abathur attempted to spark a war between the zerg and Dominion and protoss. Swann continued to be one of the head engineers of the Dominion, and many Raiders held high ranks among Valerian's government. It took years, but the Raiders may have accomplished their goals of a better future for the terrans of the sector, and may have created a lasting peace.
Trivia and Fun Facts
The symbol for the Raynor's Raiders was first established in the StarCraft Board Game back from shortly after Brood War's release. It's been kind of modified since then, now white instead of yellow.
There have been several sources that have gotten Raynor's Raiders's name wrong. Raynor's Riders is one that shows up a few times in the comics.
The symbol of Raynor's Raiders shows up in the Overwatch reveal cinematic on the back of the kid's hoodie. It also shows up in a variety of places in Heroes of the Storm, including any “Raider” themed skins, on both StarCraft battlegrounds, and in a lot of Raynor's kit.
The Raiders have one of the best SCV engineering corps in the sector, named the SceeVee Special Engineering Corps under Bill “Pearly” Bousquette. They draw from tradesmen and skilled backwoods handymen and artisans with real world experience, as opposed to the Dominion and Umojans who draw from academies that teach engineering theory.
Welp, this was one of the longer ones, I swear the next few will be shorter. I'm mostly feeling around to see what kind of things you all want to see, so feedback and ideas are appreciated. I have some other ideas but I think I'll try to alternate between heavy lore ones and the trivia lore behind things multiplayer people can relate to.
If you have any lore questions post them here, I’d also like this to either be an impromptu QA or something that could leapfrog into new episodes. But otherwise, I’ll see you all next week!