Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
The baneling is an explosive zerg strain, evolved from the zergling. It is a suicide bomber unit.
Banelings are created from zerglings following a brief chrysalis phase. In the new form, the zergling’s claws shrivel and become withered, and a swollen sac filled with volatile chemicals grows out of its back. The zergling’s skin is repurposed, stretching over newly formed growths while its bone plates soften to hold bulbous, pulsating acid sacs in place. Though the remains of the carapace offer no real protection, they allow for unhindered delivery of the baneling’s payload. The digestive and reproductory tracts are assimilated as nutrients to accelerate the process, and make room for the fleshy, mutated adrenal glands. These are re-purposed to produce and store large quantities of highly corrosive acid. Few materials can withstand this acid burst.
Because of its mass, the baneling’s legs are thicker than the zergling’s, in order to stabilize itself. Its feet are replaced by sharp spikes that allow them to navigate rough terrain, albeit at a slower pace. The Swarm was able to increase the baneling’s speed despite these imperfections. Yet due to their bloated nature, banelings are barely able to walk. They have been observed to tuck into a ball and roll. Banelings also possess a rudimentary sonar system—Dominion scientists have theorized that this is a degeneration of the zergling’s complex optical structure. This system consists of a transmitter in the center of the baneling’s skull, along with two evenly spaced receivers to the sides. The transmitter emits pulses that map the baneling’s surrounding area, and echoes back to the receiver, feeding the baneling with a continuous stream of spatial information.
Leviathan Brood banelings retain the spine-like growths of the zerglings that metemorphosed into them.
As all Soronan mold proteins exist in banelings , they are capable of surviving on minimal oxygen and moisture.
When a baneling gets close enough to an enemy, it triggers a reaction within its volatile chemical payload, causing the creature to explode with a shower of searing acid. The explosion destroys the baneling but also inflicts terrible damage to its enemies, highly effective against both structures and ground forces. In fact, a clutch of them is capable of wiping out a group of vehicles and infantry in the blink of an eye. The banelings’ lethality is further enhanced by the zerg predilection for burrowing. An apparently safe area can soon turn into a deathtrap as these monstrosities erupt beneath their foes, giving enemies virtually no time to react.
Banelings were first observed during the Siege of Cask on Sorona, in 2503. Its defenders held out against the zerg long enough so that it came to pass that only minor breeds such as zerglings continued to be spawned to be sent into battle. However, queens drove the development of a new strain, via zerglings incorporating an acidic native mold into themselves. These new banelings were thus sent against Cask, their spray of acid destroying its defenses and eradicating the terrans present.
During the same year, when other terrans encountered the baneling for the first time they thought it was a mutation of a previously unknown genus rather than a morph of the zergling. The baneling was duly added to the list of threats and scientists began an effort to develop chemical rounds to detonate banelings prematurely.
In 2505, Abathur used the baneling strain as a base for a mutation upgrade to the mutalisk, allowing its glaive wurms to explode on impact. After joining Kerrigan, Dehaka would selectively breed his pack to create similar strains of creatures among the primal zerg.