THE XEL?NAGA AND THE FIRST BORN
Although only fragmented documentation remains, ancient Protoss texts speak of a highly advanced race that ruled over thousands of worlds in the galaxy, tens of millions of years ago. This enigmatic race, often called the Xel?Naga, or ?wanderers from afar?, was rumored to have seeded and cultivated thousands of various species on the cold and barren worlds within their domain. Protoss traditions hold that the Xel?Naga were a peaceful and benevolent race, utterly consumed with the study and propagation of sentient evolution within the universe. Nothing is known of the origin of the Xel?Naga, save that they were not native to the galaxy over which they held sway. Obsessed with fashioning the perfect life-form, the Xel?Naga labored to create a creature that would be defined by a distinct purity of form. For thousands of years they carefully steered the delicate evolutionary processes of their budding species. Although their protracted experiments produced many intriguing deviants and mutations, the races that the Xel?Naga cultivated always fell short of their enormous expectations. Despairing at last, the Xel?Naga focused their frustrated efforts on the most promising of their engineered worlds. Aiur, a massive jungle-world on the galaxy?s fringe, had borne a race of highly advanced beings.
These beings were incredibly adaptable to harsh natural conditions and climates. Their strength and speed were unparalleled amongst the other races known to the Xel?Naga. The race had even developed a rudimentary tribal society based upon group-hunting and warrior rule. However, their most distinct aspect was that they communicated with each other through a very complex method of instinctive telepathy, allowing them to operate communally with striking efficiency. The Xel?Naga were pleased with the progress of their latest creation and conceded that the new race was the first of all their experiments to evolve beyond the feral constraints of baser life-forms. To signify their ascension in the galactic order, the Xel?Naga gave the new race the name of Protoss, or ?the First Born?. The early Protoss lived in harmony and seclusion upon the world of Aiur for hundreds of generations, never knowing of the Xel?Naga who watched over them from afar.
Although the Protoss were the most advanced species to arise, the Xel?Naga were still unsatisfied with their slow progress and saw fit to drive the Protoss? evolution even further. The Xel?Naga spent yet another millennium subtly guiding the steps of their children, eventually succeeding in leading the Protoss to the state of total sentience and awareness. The First Born gradually became highly intellectual and introspective, achieving great heights in not only their cultural advancements, but personal, individualistic advancements as well. Exhilarated by their seeming success, the Xel?Naga finally made themselves known to the Protoss, never suspecting the chaos that was to come.
THE DEPARTURE AND THE AEON OF STRIFE
The Protoss civilization spread across the face of Aiur within only a few thousand years, eventually culminating with the warring Tribes settling under a centralized rule. In an attempt to discern the full extent of their creation?s evolution, the Xel?Naga had come down from the heavens and integrated themselves into the Protoss culture. The arrival of the Xel?Naga seemed to bring the scattered Tribes even closer together as the overjoyed Protoss looking to their wizened creators for new truths and insights. The Xel?Naga marveled at how driven the Protoss were to plumb the mysteries of the universe around them. The Protoss harbored an insatiable lust for knowledge that led them to develop radical, progressive strains of scientific and meta-neural study. As their understanding and personal awareness grew, the Protoss became exceedingly proud and began to see more value in personal achievements than communal advancement.
The more successful Tribes began to isolate themselves from one another, each seeking to define their own roles, not only within their immediate society, but within the greater universe as well. As the Tribes grew further and further apart, the Xel?Naga reeled in frustration. They speculated that perhaps they had pushed the evolution of the Protoss to far, marring the purity of their creation. Many Xel?Naga believed that the Protoss had lost their greatest strengths, as individual egos arose to overpower the once primary communal link. The Tribes, driven by individualistic pursuits, rekindled their own ancient principles and rites in order to set themselves even further apart from their brethren. Where once there was only awe and reverence for their creators, suspicions began to brew amongst the Tribes regarding the interests of the Xel?Naga in their affairs. As months passed on Aiur, the Protoss began to shy from their Xel?Naga teachers, and each Tribe cultivated wild and unsubstantiated rumors of their creator?s supposed treachery. Attempting to completely sever themselves from the rest of their race, the Tribes began to lose the connection to their primal psychic link. This breakdown in the inherent empathy of the Protoss for one another did the most to dissolve the last remnants of unity and brotherhood amongst them.
The severing of the psychic link was also the greatest sign, to the Xel?Naga, that the Protoss had tragically lost the most fundamental element of their greatness. Believing that they had made a grave mistake in pushing their failed creation too fast, the Xel?Naga made to depart Aiur forever. The suspicious Protoss, at hearing of their creators? departure, reacted with a rash, violent attack upon the Xel?Naga?s world-ships. Many hundreds of Xel?Naga were murdered by the raging Protoss, who only decades before had worshipped them as gods. The Xel?Naga fended off the Protoss? reckless attack and sorrowfully launched the greater number of their massive ships into the trackless void beyond Aiur. The Protoss Tribes, left confused and abandoned in the wake of the Departure, turned on each other in despair. What followed has been recorded as the bloodiest, most violent civil war ever recorded in galactic history: The Aeon of Strife.
The raging battles waged during the Aeon of Strife were fought by countless generations of Protoss, all bent on perpetuating the guilt and blame for their abandonment. Although few actual records remain from this ?lost period? of Protoss history, it is clear that the First Born devolved into frantic legions of merciless killers. Driven by centuries of unthinking hatred towards their brethren, entire generations of Protoss lived and died without ever knowing the legacies of their past or of the primal psychic bond that their forefathers had once shared. It is legend that even the greater land-masses of Aiur were devastated by the epic struggle between the maddened Tribes. It seemed that the whole of the once glorious Protoss culture was precariously poised upon the precipice of total annihilation.
KHALA: THE PATH OF ASCENSION
Although there were many different factors that led to the ending of the Aeon of Strife, one unprecedented discovery is cited with bringing about the radical changes of the Second Age. As the ancient, vicious blood feuds continued to take their toll upon yet another generation of Protoss warriors, one eccentric mystic stumbled upon a pivotal insight. The mystic, whose true name has been forgotten in the annals of history, was eventually named Khas or ?he who brings order?. Khas, having studied the archaic, forbidden teachings of the Xel?Naga, unearthed ancient, monolithic artifacts known as the Khaydarin Crystals. The Crystals, left behind by the Xel?Naga, were fundamental in facilitating their proto-genetic experiments. Khas was able to channel the primal energies of the Crystals through himself, allowing him to access the primordial, psychic bond of his race. For the first time in thousands of years, the primal c
hord of the Protoss was tapp
Flooded by emotions emanating from every member of his race, Khas became aware that the Protoss had not lost their primal link, but had simply forgotten how to attune themselves to it. Horrified by the warring emotions that had been tearing his race apart for countless centuries, Khas began to search for a way to heal the searing pains of his people. Khas, gathering many young Protoss together, was able to teach the new generation of warriors how to access their latent psychic bond. These young ones, suddenly free to distance themselves from the horrendous strife around them, were able to see clearly that the conflict of their race was folly. They believed that the Xel?Naga had been right to abandon them and that because their racial essence had been corrupted by the rise of ego, they were indeed a failed creation.
They maintained, however, that because their inherent failure was not of their own doing, the inner conflict of the Protoss and racial turmoil was baseless and hollow. Khas developed a radical system of psychic progression that he hoped would discipline the new generation and keep them from repeating the tragic mistakes of their ancestors. His theory, known as the Khala, or ?Path of Ascension?, called all Protoss to forsake their own whims and strive to reunify their once might, communal race. The greatest hope of Khas was that the Khala would instill a new sense of essence and vitality within the Protoss race. Slowly, many Protoss gave up their ages-old feuds and rallied behind the ever-growing legions of the Khalai. This marked the true turning point in the Aeon of Strife and led to the rise of the Second Age. As the terrible wars subsided and the Tribes once more began to heal and bond, the premise of the Khala began to permeate even the deepest, most fundamental roots of Protoss society.
DAE?UHL: THE STEWARDSHIP
The Khala, primarily meant to define a rigid system of behavior, also called for a shift from Tribal society to a Caste system. All members of the Protoss Tribes were split into three new castes: the Judicators, the Khalai, and the Templar. This shift worked to remove the last remnants of the old hostilities between the Tribes and strengthen the resolve of the Protoss to embrace a new beginning. The Judicator caste was comprised of Protoss elders and statesmen, with its main responsibility being the governing of the Protoss under the dictates of the Khala?s Law. The Judicator Assembly was ruled over by a small group of Elders known as the Conclave. The second Caste, known as the Khalai, comprised the greater bulk of Protoss society. The Khalai caste represented the driving industrialists, scientists, and workers who continued to rebuild their homelands after the harsh conflicts of the Aeon of Strife.
The third caste, called the Templar, were the holy warriors and defenders of Aiur, who followed the Khala?s disciplines to achieve ever-escalating pinnacles of psionic power. Under the new leadership of the Conclave and their Judicator Administrates, and armed with the zealous might of the Templar, the Protoss soon rebuilt their decimated world of Aiur into a bustling paradise. With their growing prosperity leading them to rediscover many of the sciences and studies they had lost, the Protoss learned to travel amongst the stars. Over the course of only a few hundred years, the Protoss conquered hundreds of worlds within their corner of the galaxy, and spread the fruits of their great civilization to many of the more advanced races that they encountered. All in all, the Protoss inadvertently succeeded in reclaiming an eighth of the worlds once presided over by the Xel?Naga. In keeping with the strict codes of the Khala, the Protoss took upon themselves the burden of the Dae?Uhl, or ?Great Stewardship?.
Following the ancient traditions of the Xel?Naga, the Dae?Uhl called for the Protoss to protect and safeguard the lesser races that lived under their shadow. Unlike their predecessors, however, the Protoss refused to manipulate or interfere in the evolutionary processes of the lesser races under their protection. Ever vigilant against xenomorphic threats, the Protoss kept a close watch over their unsuspecting wards. But, much like the Xel?Naga many millennia before, the Protoss kept their presence hidden from the lesser races in their care. Many hundreds of species grew and thrived on the various worlds within their space, never knowing that they were secretly guarded from on high.
THE DARK TEMPLAR
Although their new enlightened civilization grew and thrived, the Protoss Conclave kept a dark, shameful secret hidden from the masses. There were a few dissident Tribes who refused to embrace the Khala, believing that their individual identities would be erased to further promote the Judicator rule. The Rogue Tribes were not hostile or militant, but they believed that the Conclave?s communal agenda would be the eventual doom of their race. Thus, the knowledge of the Rogue Tribes was kept hidden, for the Conclave believed that their aberrant influence might spread throughout Protoss society and destroy all the Khas had accomplished. Convinced that the Rogue Tribes constituted a palpable threat to the new order, the Conclave ordered the Templar forces to eradicate the dissidents. The Templar, led by a young warrior named Adun, could not bring themselves to slaughter their wayward brethren.
Instead, the idealistic Adun attempted to hide the Rogue Tribes away from the sight of the Conclave. Adun believed that he could convince the Rogues of the Khala?s truth by teaching them how to manipulate their own latent psionic powers. Although their powers equaled those of the mighty Templar, the Rogues still refused to submit their passionate, free spirits to the Khala. Without the discipline of the Path of Ascension, the powers of the Rogues spiraled out of control and unleashed horrible devastating storms across the fields of Aiur. The Conclave, shocked that the Templar had not destroyed the Rogue Tribes, attempted to salvage the desperate situation. If the Conclave punished Adun and the Templar for their insubordination, it would be forced to publicly admit the existence of the Rogues. Thus the Conclave decided to banish the wayward Tribes from Aiur forever. The Templar under Adun were sworn to silence as the Rogues were loaded onto an ancient, but functional Xel?Naga ship and launched into the void of space. Forever after the Rogue Tribes would be known as the Dark Templar.
Over time, the legend of the Dark Templar spread across the face of Aiur, sparking the imaginations of many young Protoss. To show their disdain for the Conclave and their Judicator lackeys, the Dark Templar ceremoniously cut off their nerve-appendages, effectively severing themselves from the basic communal link that all Protoss share. It was widely rumored that since the shadow Hunters were cut off from the primal chord of their race, they were forced to draw their psionic energies from the dark, cold void of space. This tale, above all others, worked to incriminate the vagabond warriors for all time. Hunted and feared by their own brethren, the Dark Templar led a solitary existence within their space-faring vessels. Traveling throughout the cold void of space, they never abandoned their love for Aiur, and thus worked to safeguard their long lost Homeworld in any way they secretly could.
HUMANITY AND THE COMING OF THE ZERG
The Protoss bore silent witness to the portentous arrival of Humanity to their edge of space. Although the Protoss were uncertain of the vagabond origins of the Terrans, they knew that these volatile, short lived humans would prove to be interesting study. Two centuries passed as the Protoss watched over the budding Terran colonists. The Terrans had succeeded in building up rudimentary colonies on over a dozen worlds within the Protoss? borders. Although the technology of the Terrans was inferior to that of the Protoss, they adapted to the worlds upon which they lived and thrived. The Protoss found the Terrans to be fa
scinating in that they constantly fo
ught against one another, yet still flourished and advanced their technologies and industries by leaps and bounds.
The Protoss were alarmed at how quickly the Terrans were to access and drain the natural resources from their various worlds. It seemed to the Protoss that the Terrans had no respect for the delicate balance of nature, as they recklessly sped from one world to the next, leaving nothing but barren wastelands in their wake. Bidden by the strict dictates of the Dae?Uhl, the Protoss were forbidden to directly interfere with the reckless Terrans, no matter how much they wished to do so. This disjointed relationship lasted for many years between the two races. Yet a routine Protoss scouting mission found evidence that spelled certain doom for the hapless Terrans.
The High Templar Tassadar accompanied by his renowned Templar expeditionary force, found a number of small biological constructs floating near the borders of Protoss space. Upon close inspection, Tassadar deduced that the rather nondescript alien organisms were in fact deep space probes. Although Tassadar could not discern their point of origin, it was clear that they were heading towards the Koprulu sector of Terran colonies.
Tassadar brought the living probes back to Aiur for immediate study. The strange aliens were unlike anything that the Protoss had ever seen before. The respective phsiologies of the probes were apparently engineered for deep space travel and reconnaissance. In an attempt to discern their primary quarry, the Protoss focused the energies of the Khaydarin Crystals through the tiny minds of the probes. The Protoss were shocked to discover that the alien probes responded quickly and naturally to the powerful energies of the Crystals. Their shock was garnered from the fact that only creatures born of the Xel?Naga?s proto-genetics could properly process the energies of the great Crystals. More alarming was the vague thought stream that kept repeating, over and over, through the tiny brains of the probes; ?Find Humanity???Eradicate???Learn???Evolve??
The Protoss speculated that the probes were the harbingers of a bold new threat to their section of the galaxy. If the creatures were engineered with Xel?Naga technologies, they would be very advanced and extremely powerful. It seemed clear to the Protoss that this new race constituted a palpable danger to all living beings, and that wherever the greater bulk of the race was, it must still be searching for the unsuspecting colonists.
The Protoss began to send out advance scouts to scour the surrounding space-ways for any sign of the alien invaders. Tassadar claimed that under the dictates of the Dae?Uhl, it was the chosen responsibility of the Protoss to protect the races under their watch. The Conclave, however, argued that if the ?worthless? race of Terrans had already been infested by some new threat, they must be put to the flame and eradicated. A great debate began between the Judicators and the Templar as to how they should involve themselves in the Terrans? imminent plight.
The one fact that both castes agreed upon was that the creatures were undeniably engineered through Xel?Naga sciences. And if they were indeed created by the Ancient Ones, the Protoss had best be on their guard. It was agreed to send Tassadar and his expeditionary force to monitor the Terran worlds and attempt to discern the severity of the impending danger. To this end, Tassadar led his command ship, the Gantrithor, and an escort of massive Protoss warships towards the Terran sector of Koprulu.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Upon arriving in the Terran Sector, Tassadar?s scouts found evidence that the mysterious alien threat had already begun to take its toll upon the Terran colonies. Upon closer inspection, Tassadar found that the fringe-colony of Chau Sara had indeed been infested by alien organisms. The entire surface of the colony had been covered with a thick, toxic substance that continued to erode the planet?s crust. To make matters worse, the aliens themselves had either infested or slaughtered most of the human colonists. Tassadar, horrified by the colony?s devastation, could only wonder why the Terrans had not already rushed to aid their besieged world.
The Conclave, hearing of the colony?s fate, immediately ordered Tassadar to burn the entire planet of its infestation. Knowing that the burning would eradicate all life on the planet, Tassadar sorrowfully obeyed his masters. The lumbering Protoss warships powered up their weapons and opened fire upon the unsuspecting colony, This costly ploy was successful in destroying the alien infestation, but there were still a few neighboring worlds that had no doubt been infested as well. Tassadar was ordered to burn those worlds and any other Terran settlement that had even the slightest possibility of infestation. While moving his fleet to the second infested colony of Mar Sara, Tassadar began to doubt the morality of his orders.
The Terran warriors, caught completely by surprise by the initial attack of the Protoss upon Chau Sara, launched a fleet of starships to intercept Tassadar?s fleet. The Terran fleet prepared to defend the colony from the Protoss, just as Tassadar commanded his ships to pull away and withdraw. Tassadar, struggling with his inner doubts, could not bring himself to destroy Mar Sara or the fleet that had come to protect it. He sought a way to defeat the aliens without arbitrarily wiping out humanity in the process. Thus engaged, Tassadar refused to follow the genocidal orders of his masters. Remaining with his fleet, far outside the range of Terran sensors, Tassadar waited and watched as the alien presence continued to encroach across the Terran wastelands.