Sarah Kerrigan, former Terran Ghost and later the Queen of Blades, leader of the Zerg, was a major character in both the Starcraft I and Starcraft II video game series and has appeared in several novels that followed: Liberty's Crusade, Queen of Blades, Shadow of the Xel'naga, and Shadow Hunters.

Why was she abandoned on Antiga Prime by Arcturus Mengsk and left to be infested by the Zerg?

  • I assumed it was because Kerrigan's position was being overrun and Mengsk didn't want to expend the resources to dig her out. But the cut-scene where that occurs doesn't explicitly say so, and Mengsk's body language seems almost smug when he gives the order to move out.
    – Ellesedil
    Nov 6, 2015 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


Having just replayed StarCraft 1 up to this betrayal, it was very apparent why Mengsk did it.

In the 3 missions preceding the betrayal Kerrigan she was told to use the psi-emitters to lure the zerg to a smaller confederate outpost. She did it but under heavy protest.

Kerrigan - I'm having doubts about this, Arcturus. I just don't think anyone deserves to have the Zerg unleashed on them.

Mengsk - I know you have personal feelings about this, but you can't let your past cloud your judgement. Carry out your orders, lieutenant.

later at the end of the mission.

Kerrigan - Psi-Emitter in place. Just promise me we'll never do anything like this again.

Mengsk - We will do whatever it takes to save humanity. Our responsibility is too great to do any less.

In the very next mission we make a breach in Tarsonis' defences, presumibly to send a strike force down to the planet. instead after the Breach Mengsk again deploys psi-emitters, and lures billions of zerg to the planet. This causes a major rift between with Kerrigan/Raynor on one side, and Mengsk on the other.


This is Duke. The emitters are secured and on-line.


Who authorized the use of Psi-Emitters?


I did, lieutenant.


What? The Confederates on Antiga were bad enough, but now you're going to use the Zerg against an entire planet? This is insane.


She's right, man. Think this through.


I have thought it through. Believe me. You all have your orders. Carry them out.

Following Kerrigans damming of Mengsk he sends her on 1 more mission, a mission to stop the Protoss who are unknowingly defending the remaining confederates on Tarsonis.

Mengsk :

If they engage the Zerg, the Confederates may escape.
Commander, send Lieutenant Kerrigan with a strike force to
engage the Protoss. Captain Raynor and General Duke will stay behind with the command ship.

Raynor :

First you sell out every person on this world to the Zerg, then you ask us to go up against the Protoss? And you're goin' to send Kerrigan down there with no backup?

Mengsk :

I have absolute confidence in Kerrigan's ability to hold off the Protoss.

Raynor :

This is bullshit. Kerrigan, are you reading this?

Kerrigan :

I heard. I'm going down there. Arcturus knows what he's doing. I can't back out on him now.

Raynor :

Funny. I never thought of you as anyone's martyr.


Why are you doing this, Kerrigan? Look. I know about your past. I mean, I've heard the rumors. I know you were a part of those
experiments with the Zerg; that Mengsk came and saved you, but you don't owe him this! Hell, I've saved you butt plenty of times.


Jimmy, drop the knight-in-shining-armor routine. It suits you sometimes. Just not ... not now. I don't need to be rescued. I know what I'm doing. The Protoss are coming to destroy the entire planet, not just the Zerg. I know that because ... well I just know it. I am a Ghost, remember? Once we've dealt with the Protoss, we can do something about the Zerg. Arcturus will come around. I know he will.


I hope you're right, darlin'. Good huntin'!

This mission is clearly a set up for Kerrigan, with Raynor stating, your going to send her in by herself, with no support, and Mengsk replying, dont worry she'll be fine. Obviously at the conclusion of this mission Mengsk again pulls a fast one and states, uh, cant get to her sorry Jim.


This is Kerrigan. We've neutralized the Protoss, but there's a wave of Zerg advancing on this position. We need immediate evac.


Belay that order. We're moving out.


What? You're not just gonna leave them?


All ships prepare to move away from Tarsonis on my mark.


Uh, boys? How about that evac?


Damn you, Arcturus! Don't do this.


It's done. Helmsman, signal the fleet, and take us out of orbit. Now!


Commander? Jim? What the hell's going on up there-

So with the books and extra material aside, they make it clear in game that Mengsk betrays Kerrigan because she is quickly becoming a tool he can no longer use, with her arguments and opposition to his plans.

  • 4
    This really makes we want to spend next weekend playing through the SC/BW campaign. Dangit.
    – user31178
    Nov 8, 2015 at 19:29
  • 6
    I'd have made this the accepted answer... While the other one makes a lot of sense and is a good answer, that novel was written a good while after the game and (canon or not), it's doubtful that was in the minds of the creators when they were making the game, this answer clearly depicts Sarah becoming a "loose end"
    – komodosp
    Mar 15, 2017 at 9:21
  • 1
    This must be the accepted answer. Purely relies on the original game, includes all conversation texts. Cleared my mind about the same question after years. Good piece of work.
    – Hakan
    Mar 17, 2017 at 11:12
  • I agree with the comments here that this should be (and is) the accepted answer. I have upvoted both answers though.
    – Efreeto
    Jul 19, 2020 at 9:26
  • Here is that episode in StarCraft 1: Starcraft Remastered Sarah Kerrigan Betrayal HD - YouTube
    – Ooker
    Mar 20 at 15:56

Sarah Kerrigan, during her time as a Confederate Ghost, assassinated Mengsk's parents and sister.

When Korhal declared itself independent from the Confederacy, taking out the Mengsk family was one of their first actions, before they carpet-nuked the place as well. Kerrigan led the team.

While Arcturus later retrieved her from an experimental facility (some of the initial tests confirming the link between Zerg and psionics like Ghosts were done on Kerrigan), she had only fragmentary memories of her time as an assassin at best. She didn't recognize Arcturus or his name. He did. He befriended her and invited her to join the Sons of Korhal. Over time some of her memory returned, and Mengsk used her to take out the other Ghosts who had performed the kills, but supposedly forgave her once the others were dead.

He was content to use her as a highly effective tool against the Confederacy that once employed her against him. Once his victory over the Confederate capital Tarsonis was assured by psi-summoned Zerg, however, he coldly took his revenge by positioning her to assure the Zerg's success and then abandoning her. That it saved some of his forces the effort of killing Zerg that were killing Confederates probably didn't hurt.

The Mengsk's assassination is covered in the tie-in novel I, Mengsk along with some of Arcturus' family history. The start of Kerrigan and Mengsk's working relationship is shown in Starcraft: Uprising.

  • 1
    This is mainly coming from wikia; I was familiar with the reason but not the details. I'm trying to confirm the novels the events were covered in. Will link soon.
    – Radhil
    Nov 6, 2015 at 0:14
  • +1 The assassination is verified at starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Arcturus_Mengsk: "He (Arcturus) told Kerrigan she was the third ghost, and the most important one - the one who had cut off his father's head. Yet he found her useful and kept her as a loyal member of the Sons of Korhal. Kerrigan's loyalty to him increased." So at this point, we have motivation, but not a validated canon reason. Still, this is more than I knew before. Nov 6, 2015 at 1:20
  • I like your answer, but must relocate the green check mark. Mar 17, 2017 at 23:45
  • 1
    @MajorStackings - fair enough, I gave the other answer an upvote myself.
    – Radhil
    Mar 17, 2017 at 23:49

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