THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Although technology and world culture progressed rapidly throughout the twentieth century, their advancements paled in comparison to the seemingly reckless leaps that would follow. By the end of the twenty-first century, mankind had seen bold and unprecedented changes within the world. Radical new technologies were surfacing at incredible rates, offering increased access to advanced computers and informational databases to even the most destitute nations of Earth. In the wake of the eradication of Communism from the Eastern Nations, nuclear weapons quickly became available in abundance. The international power structure, once defined primarily by the acquisition of capital and military superiority, was blasted apart as third-world nations rose to challenge the economic and military might of the world's super-powers.
As the manipulative sciences of cybernetics, cloning and gene-splicing rose steadily into the public forum, militant humanist and hard-line religious groups challenged the rights of private interest corporations who profited from genetic experimentation. Multitudes of people were being augmented with cybernetic implants while others began to manifest slight physical mutations ranging from heightened senses to advanced telepathy. These dramatic changes within the human gene pool caused widespread panic amongst many of the fundamental humanist factions.
Technology continued to evolve and spread, and population rates soared. Near the end of the twentieth century, there were six billion people upon the earth. Within three hundred years, the population had grown to an estimated twenty-three billion. Pollution and a lack of natural resources and affordable fuels added to the fire as world leaders sought ways to stem the growth of their nation's inhabitants. Popular sentiment held that the world was plummeting towards an inevitable catastrophe as overpopulation and genetic alteration swept across the globe.
Meanwhile, as tensions rose around the world regarding the use and capitalization of cybernetics and genetic mutations, many core international economic systems folded in upon themselves and shut down. Horrific acts of terrorism and violence erupted between the corporate sector and the humanist factions, resulting in forced police actions across the globe. Irresponsible media coverage of these atrocious police actions spurred the already rampant civil chaos in many of the larger countries. Ultimately, the precarious balance of world power exploded into international pandemonium.
THE NEW ORDER
On November 22, 2229, the United Powers League (UPL) was founded. The UPL was to become the ultimate incarnation of the vision of a unified humanity held by the now defunct United Nations. This new order encompassed and controlled close to ninety-three percent of the earths population, failing only to bring order to a few volatile South American states. The UPL was founded upon the basis of 'enlightened socialism', but often resorted to harsh, fascist police actions to maintain the public order. With its control lasting for nearly eighty years, the UPL began to devise a rigid agenda that would unify the various cultures of humanity for all time. Great lengths were taken to eradicate the last vestiges of racial separatism, and the Unitariate Commissions banned many of the world's oldest religions. English was designated as the common tongue of the planet, replacing many ancient languages that were subsequently banned in their native countries.
Although religions were officially banned by the UPL, the organization held an almost zealous belief in the supposed divinity of mankind'. This quasi-religious dogma called for the immediate eradication of any non-vital prosthetics or mutations amongst the pure-strain human gene pool. Hard-line UPL proponents and scholars argued that genetic alteration, cyber technology, and the use of psychoactive drugs all led to the eventual degeneration of the human species. The UPL leaders formulated a bold plan that would assure that humanity would persevere, unscathed by the tempting corruption of radical technologies.
THE GREAT PURIFICATION
Like the bloody Inquisitions that devastated Europe eight hundred years before, the UPL set in motion one of the harshest agendas ever conceived by humanity: Project Purification. This genocidal crusade was the Government's final solution to the matter of cleansing humanity of its more degenerate facets. UPL troops scoured every nation on earth, rounding up dissidents, hackers, synthetics, the cybernetically enhanced, tech-pirates, and criminals of every kind. This planet wide culling resulted in the eradication of nearly 400 Million people. The world-media, now under the strict control of the UPL, downplayed the horrific violence and kept the general populace of earth unaware of the scope of the atrocities being committed.
Despite their heinous acts, the UPL succeeded in advancing many core technologies. Fields of research that had lain dormant for decades were opened again under UPL control. The Space Exploration programs of the mid-twentieth century, abandoned by the American and Russian governments due to drastically reduced budgets and incessant political sabotage, became the basis for a new era of exploration for humanity. The coupling of cryogenic hibernation with warp-drive technology resulted in the ability to travel amongst the stars. Within the span of forty years the UPL founded colonies upon the moon and many other planets within the Terran solar system.
During this period, a brilliant young scientist named Doran Routhe made plans to consolidate his power within the UPL. Uninvolved with the vulgarities of Project Purification, Routhe was obsessed with founding colonies upon the world beyond the Terran Sector. Routhe was convinced that the discovery of new minerals and alternate fuel sources on the outlying worlds would make him one of the most influential men on earth. Through his political connections and personal fortune, Routhe was able to secure thousands of UPL prisoners to use as guinea pigs for his secret plans.
The prisoners, slated for mass execution under the edict of Project Purification, were transported to Routhe's private laboratories. Routhe, planning on sending the prisoners off to colonize the outlying worlds, had his science crews prep nearly 56,000 people for long-term cryogenic hibernation. Cataloguing the various mutations and cybernetic enhancements of the prisoners, Routhe input all of the data into a revolutionary supercomputer. This Artificial Tele-empathic Logistics Analysis System, known as ATLAS then processed this genetic information and was able to predict which of the prisoners should be able to survive the trial to come. Only 40,000 of the prisoners were deemed viable to survive the rigorous conditions. Those 40,000 were then loaded onto four gargantuan, automated deep-space supercarriers. As the prisoners were prepped for cryogenic 'cold-sleep', the ships were loaded with enough supplies, rations and hardware to aid them once they arrived at their scheduled destination. The navigation computer was then programmed with the co-ordinates of the outlying planet Gantris VI. All seemed in perfect preparation, but even Routhe could not have imagined that the prisoners would be launched to their almost certain deaths in the galactic rim.
THE EXILES AND THE LONG SLEEP
The ATLAS was installed into the first of the super carriers, the Nagglfar. Three other carriers - the Argo, the Sarengo, and the Reagan - were programmed to follow the Nagglfar as it was launched into the void of space towards Gantris VI. Over the course of this journey, which generations later would call 'The Long Sleep', ATLAS continued to monitor the humans kept in cryogenic stasis. Evaluating the numerous mutations and enhancements found within the prisoner's gene pool, ATLAS became aware of a powerful mutagenic strain that existed in some of their DNA. While this mutation was found to reside in less than one percent of the prisoners, it seemed to augment the latent psionic potential within the human brain. ATLAS calculated that, should the prisoners survive in their new environment many of them might benefit from this psionic mutation within only a few generations. These findings were recorded and relayed back to earth, straight into the logs of Doran Routhe.
Originally scheduled as a one-year trip, their voyage took a turn for the worse at some point during the journey the navigational systems linked to ATLAS shut down, erasing not only the co-ordinates of Gantris VI, but those of the earth as well. The four ships, carrying their hapless cargo in stasis, barreled blindly through space at warp speeds for nearly thirty years.
Eventually, the warp-drive engines of the four super carriers reached critical meltdown. After twenty-eight years of warp travel, the huge ships emerged into real space near the edge of a habitable star system. Some 60,000 light years from the earth, their engines destroyed and their life-support batteries nearly exhausted, the ships engaged their emergency protocols and plummeted towards the nearest habitable worlds in the system.
The Reagan and the Sarengo crash landed on the world that would be named Umoja. The Sarengo, which had suffered massive systems failures during its atmospheric descent, smashed into the planet killing all of its 8,000 passengers. The Reagan was more fortunate, making a controlled descent and landing safely. Once the ship had landed, the 'cold sleep' chambers were deactivated and the surviving passengers slowly awakened. The passengers, attempting to discern where they were and how long they had 'slept', found that the ATLAS system had somehow erased all knowledge of their journey from their computer banks.
The Argo landed upon the red world of Moria. Its passengers met with the same fate as those aboard the Reagan, as all information regarding their current status was erased. Only the passengers of the Nagglfar could access their ship's computer to discern their plight. They accessed ATLAS directly and confirmed their growing suspicions that they would never see the earth again, for although they had landed on the temperate planet of Tarsonis, the Nagglfar was damaged beyond repair. The surviving exiles, now spread across three worlds, began to salvage their wrecked ships in an attempt to find refuge in their new surroundings.
THE CONFEDERACY AND THE NEW WORLD
The inhabitants of each planet worked to survive in what they termed 'the New World'. Unaware that their fellows also thrived upon the other worlds in the system, the vagabond Terrans made do with whatever meager resources they could find. Having lost the means to communicate over interplanetary distances when their ships were stripped for essential materials, the Terrans lived in isolation for decades. In a relatively short amount of time, the three isolated groups of Terrans founded their sister colonies upon their respective worlds, and although it would be at least sixty years before the three colonies would be reunited by space travel, each of them grew into prosperous, self-contained communities. Tarsonis, the largest and most technologically advanced of the colonies soon developed second generation sub-warp engines. This allowed their ships to explore the myriad, barren planets of the surrounding star system and eventually led them to find the other survivors of the Long Sleep.
Once reunited, the three colonies benefited from mutual trade and commerce treaties. Although Tarsonis kept pushing Umoja and Moria to join in a conglomerated government, the two colonies steadfastly refused. The fleets of Tarsonis continued to explore the Terran patch of space that came to be known as the Koprulu Sector.
Founding prosperous colonies upon seven other worlds within the system enabled the military might of Tarsonis to grow by leaps and bounds. A new government, christened the Terran Confederacy, was founded by the Tarsonian colonies. The Morian colony, which had benefited from having the largest resource mining operations in the Sector, began to fear that this new Confederacy might attempt to move in and regulate their lucrative operations. Thus the Kel-Morian Combine was formed; a shady, corporate partnership that would supply military aid to any Mining Guild that was oppressed by Confederate policy. Tensions rose between the Confederacy and the Combine leading to the outbreak of the Terran Guild Wars.
The Guild Wars lasted for nearly four years, with the Confederacy eventually "negotiating" peace with the Combine. Although the Combine retained its autonomy, almost all of its supporting Mining Guilds were annexed into the holdings of the Confederacy. The Umojan colony, after seeing what blatant abuse the Confederacy was capable of, founded the Umojan Protectorate. This nationalized militia would work to keep its colony free from Confederate tyranny. In the final analysis, the Guild Wars assured the Confederacy its position as the dominating factor within the Terran power structure.
The might of the Confederacy continued to grow as its 'prospectors' claimed world after world with their reckless expansionism. Pirate groups and radical militia organizations began to spring up more frequently as Confederate enforcement agencies continued to abuse their citizenry. One of the greatest examples of revolt against Confederate policy was the Rebellion of Korhal.
THE REBELLION OF KORHAL
Korhal was one of the core Confederate worlds originally settled by Tarsonian colonists. A world of affluence and enlightenment, Korhal contributed greatly to the military and technological advancements of the Confederacy. Although the Confederacy benefited from Korhal's continued productivity, the citizens of the colony resented their forced affiliation with the often-corrupt Confederate Senators. Attempting to retain their independence, the citizenry of Korhal instigated numerous riots against the local Confederate militia. The Confederates responded in kind and declared martial law throughout the colony. This only seemed to agitate the populace even more, escalating the already rampant civil chaos. The Confederates believed that if their most treasured and pampered colony could turn against them, then all of their other colonies might revolt as well. It was decided that the crisis on Korhal would be ended by any means necessary. Korhal would serve as a chilling example to all of the colonies in the Confederacy.
A dynamic Korhalian Senator by the name of Angus Mengsk took it upon himself to formalize the sentiments of his fellow citizens. Their cry for freedom was undeniable when Mengsk actively declared war against the Confederates. Whipping the people of Korhal into a volatile, patriotic frenzy, the Senator succeeded in capturing all of the Confederate outposts on Korhal. Issuing statements declaring that the Confederacy no longer held any claim over the world of Korhal, Mengsk succeeded in garnering the respect and admiration of many other struggling colonies.
The Confederates, seeking to contain the situation, pulled their forces from Korhal and withdrew their fleet from its skies. Mengsk and the other leaders of the revolt, believing that they had won their independence, celebrated their victory over the Confederacy. The Confederates, knowing that a perceived loss to Korhal might instigate other colonies to revolt, planned to retake the planet through subtler means.
The Confederates sent three of their deadliest assassins, known only as Ghosts, to eliminate Mengsk and his supporters on Korhal. The Senators decapitated body, along with those of his wife and young daughter, were found the next morning on the private balcony of his towering, fortress-like headquarters. Mengsk's head was never found. While the assassination did much to weaken the revolt on Korhal, it also fuelled the fires that would eventually forge the greatest enemy the Confederacy would ever know...
Arcturus Mengsk, an accomplished Confederate Prospector and businessman, did not take the news of his family's death well. Having been a Prospector for years, Arcturus knew of the despicable lengths that the Confederacy would go to in an effort to reach its objectives. He was uninterested with greater Sector politics and was even alarmed and somewhat embarrassed by the actions of his estranged father on Korhal. He never dreamed, however, that his family would be killed merely to prove a point. Their deaths stirred something inside the young Arcturus, leading him to forsake his promising future and follow a lonely path of vengeance.
Rallying the various militant groups that had followed his father against the Confederates, Arcturus succeeded in fashioning an impressive, yet somewhat ragtag, army. Mengsk's followers struck boldly at various Confederate bases and installations, costing the Confederacy billions of credits in men, machines and equipment. With rumors spreading of a secret alliance between Mengsk's group and the Umojan Protectorate, the Confederate government quickly decided on a final solution to their problem. A salvo of one thousand Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles was fired at the planet of Korhal from the distant Confederate capital of Tarsonis. Over four million people were annihilated during the savage attack. In a single instant, the prosperous colony of Korhal was reduced to nothing more than a super-heated sphere of blackened glass and stirring phantoms.
The news of the holocaust reached Mengsk at a secret base located within the border of the Umojan protectorate. With nothing left save vengeance, Arcturus and those gathered with him on that sorrowful day pledged a sacred vow to bring down the Confederacy at all costs.
Calling themselves the Sons of Korhal, Arcturus and his renegade team of volunteers quickly made themselves as the most wanted fugitives in the Sector. Striking silently and swiftly, the Sons of Korhal won countless victories over the Confederacy. But with every battle won in the name of justice, Arcturus was portrayed as a madman and a terrorist by the Confederate-controlled media. Most colonies refused to house or provide services to anyone affiliated with the outlaw group. Yet, despite seemingly overwhelming odds and scandalous public opinion, Mengsk never gave up the fight against the Confederates. To this day, the Sons of Korhal continue to confound Confederate enforcement agencies as they work to bring about their mission of liberation for the Sector.
The various colonial powers and pirate militias continued to spar with the Confederate forces. Although many of the groups were constantly at odds with one another, the overall Terran presence within the Koprulu Sector continued to strengthen and expand. These petty squabbles would end soon enough as the Terran colonies found themselves in the midst of a struggle of epic proportions.
Without warning a fleet of fifty alien warships descended from the skies over the outlying Confederate colony Chau Sara. The massive ships opened fire upon the unsuspecting colony, continuing to decimate every inhabitant settlement on the planet. This unprecedented attack caught the Confederate forces by surprise, sending the shocked Terran fleets into disarray. Although they had never encountered alien species of any kind, they rushed quickly to defend themselves against this new, mysterious enemy.
The Confederacy launched a clumsy counter attack against the alien fleet as it made its way towards the second Terran planet of Mar Sara. The alien fleet, identifying itself as the Protoss, mysteriously withdrew its forces and spared the colony. Soon afterwards, a second, terrifying alien presence was discovered on the outskirts of Mar Sara. These new, insect-like invaders were very different from the Protoss that attacked the Colony just a short time before.
No Terran agency could account for the disturbing presence of not one, but two strange alien races within their colonies. Overcome by a collective, paranoid terror and encumbered by their own political infighting, the hapless Terran factions could only watch as an ever-increasing tide of alien invaders made their way towards the heart of the war torn Terran Sector.
THE GRAND EXPERIMENT
Driven to perfect their science of proto-genetic evolution, the ancient, enigmatic race known as the Xel'Naga traveled to the distant fringe-world of Aiur. The vast jungles of Aiur had produced the most advanced race that the Xel'Naga had ever seen. Believing that they could steer the race's evolution to the pinnacle of physical perfection, the Xel'Naga began to conduct their proto-genetic experiments. The race that the Xel'Naga would eventually name 'Protoss' advanced rapidly and gained what their creators termed 'a distinct purity of form'.
Unfortunately, the Xel'Naga pushed their experiment too far. The inherent essence and sentience of the Protoss developed far too rapidly, leading to bitter strife and division between them and their creators. The Xel'Naga deemed that the purity of form they sought to create had been sullied by a conflict of essence and thus decreed that the Protoss were, in fact, a failed creation. The Xel'Naga abandoned their children and launched themselves into the void.
THE BIRTH OF THE ZERG
Traveling thousands of light years into the burning core of the galaxy, the Xel'Naga eventually settled upon the volatile ash-world of Zerus. The Xel'Naga planned to continue their Grand Experiment of evolution, only this time they dismissed their tenets of physical and focused chiefly on the pursuit of a distinct purity of essence. Residing in their massive ships high above the fires of Zerus, the Xel'Naga began once again to challenge the wiles of fate.
The Xel'Naga were more successful with their second venture than they could have imagined. They laboured to advance the evolution of the most insignificant life form on Zerus, a race of miniature insectoids known as the Zerg. Through Xel'Naga proto-genetic manipulations, the Zerg survived the torrential firestorms of their world and thrived. Although extremely small, worm-like, and possessing no ability to manipulate their physical surroundings, the Zerg adapted to survive. They developed the ability to burrow into the flesh of the less vulnerable species indigenous to Zerus. Feeding off the nutrients contained within the spinal fluids of their hosts, the Zerg learned to parasitically merge with their host creatures. Once they became capable of controlling the metabolic and anatomical processes of their hosts, the Zerg used their new bodies to manipulate their surroundings.
As the Zerg incorporated more and more host creatures into their fold, they began to assimilate their various genetic strains and processes. Zerg chemistry began to mutate and adapt according to the volume of new genetic material being processed. However, as diverse as the range of host creatures became, there was always the undeviating drive to consume only the most evolutionarily advanced species encountered. The Zerg were innately selective as to which species they consumed, ensuring that at every stage of their development they were at the top of the proverbial food chain. Any race that the Zerg came across that was deemed unworthy of assimilation was eradicated to further purify the strains.
The Xel'Naga soon made an alarming discovery. The original races assimilated by the Zerg were hardly recognizable after only a few generations of their inception. Somehow the Zerg had developed the ability to supercharge and steer the latent evolutionary processes within their host creatures. The host creatures fell prey to the effects of gradual physical mutations that caused all of the various strains to grow armor piercing spines, razor-sharp limbs, and ultra dense carapaces. Over a surprisingly short amount of time, the strains grew to resemble a terrifyingly ravenous and unified race.
The Xel'Naga, remembering all too well that their failure with the Protoss was a result of pushing the sentience of the fledgling species too quickly, decided to follow a different path with the burgeoning Zerg. Attempting to waylay the potential hazards of differing egos, the Xel'Naga structured the collective sentience of the Zerg into a unified, amalgamated 'Overmind'. The Overmind coalesced into a semi-sentient being that represented the primary drives and instincts of all of the Zerg strains. As time passed, the Overmind developed the rudiments of personality and advanced intellect.
Although the Overmind directed the actions of every creature within the swarm, it did so through the use of secondary agents. The Overmind created a new strain of Zerg that could facilitate the communication of its whims. These Cerebrates were massive versions of the original Zerg insectoids and were engineered to process and carry out the various objectives of the Overmind. Each Cerebrate had a unique objective, such as 'Defend The Hive', 'Scout For Potential Strains', 'Produce New Warriors', or 'Eradicate All Life Forms'. The Cerebrates were then empowered to build their own Hive clusters and carry out their intended agendas. Over time they developed personalities that corresponded to their primary drives. However, the Cerebrates were still genetically incapable of ignoring or overriding the commands of the Overmind.
The Zerg chain of command lengthened as new races were incorporated into the Swarm. Cerebrates began to use secondary agents to communicate their orders as well. For the defence and productivity of the immediate Hive, the Cerebrates created Queens to further extend their control over the swarms. The Queens oversaw Drone activity throughout the resource lines of the Hives and kept a vigilant watch over the budding spore colonies of the collective. In times of battle, Cerebrates called upon the Overlords to directly relay their commands to the myriad of warriors of the Swarm. Overlords not only transported Zerg warriors into the fray, but also directed their attacks against the enemies. Just as the Cerebrates followed the Overmind, the Queens and Overlords were incapable of disobeying the commands from their Cerebrates. This rigid system of command kept the swarms at peak, savage efficiency.
As the swarms continued to grow and strengthen, the Overmind turned its thoughts towards its own future. It realized that within a few short centuries its race had assimilated all of the indigenous life upon Zerus. It knew that to further evolve the swarm, the Zerg would need to leave Zerus. The Overmind began to reach out with its senses, looking for something - anything - which would provide them with transport from this world. That opportunity soon arrived. A race of gargantuan, space-faring life forms passed through the Zerus system, and the Overmind called to them. Drawn by this beacon, they were quickly assimilated by the swarm. The inclusion of super-dense hides and the ability to exist in a vacuum bolstered the genetic pool of the swarm. Soon the Zerg warriors were conditioned to survive the harshness of space.
This pivotal moment in the development of the Zerg was not lost to the Xel'Naga. The Zerg, despite having an extreme physical handicap, had succeeded in not only surviving, but in retaining the purity of their terrible overriding essence. The Xel'Naga knew that they had achieved their goal.
THE FALL OF THE XEL’NAGA
The pride in their achievements proved to be the fatal downfall of the Xel'Naga. The Overmind, while slowly expanding itself into the void of space, became aware of the mighty Xel'Naga world-ships hovering ominously above the skies of Zerus. The Xel'Naga, having kept a constant watch on the Overmind, were horrified to find that it had actually severed their psychic link, effectively hiding itself from their view. With its need to consume driving its minions into a lustful frenzy, the Overmind launched the now space-faring Zerg swarms at the unsuspecting Xel'Naga. The ancient race did what they could to stem the tide of the ever-advancing Zerg onslaught, but in the end their efforts were in vain. Wave after wave of Zerg swarms hammered the reinforced hulls of the Xel'Naga's ships with no signs of abatement. Within only a few hours the Zerg overran the defenses of their creators and laid waste to the Xel'Naga fleet.
As the greater whole of the Xel'Naga race was consumed by the raging, genetic whirlwind of the Zerg, the Overmind gained the knowledge and insights of its masters. The Overmind processed thousands of sentient beings into itself, causing it to grow far more powerful than it had ever imagined. It learned the secrets of the sacred Khaydarin Crystals, and began to incorporate the energies of these Crystals into its own. Through the intimate knowledge of evolution and proto-genetic physiology gained from the Xel'Naga, the Overmind was able to increase the level of sentience in many of the higher Zerg strains, while still keeping them fully under its control.
Through dissecting the memories of the Xel'Naga, the Overmind was made aware of the myriad races that had at one time or another been influenced by the ancient race. The Xel'Naga had kept a detailed genetic history of each race, giving the Overmind a clear understanding of their respective strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the Overmind learned of an exceedingly powerful race that lived near the galaxy's fringe known only as the Protoss. The Overmind knew then that the Protoss and the Zerg would be caught in an inevitable, apocalyptic conflict.
The Zerg left the lifeless, burning world of Zerus and laid waste to every planet they found along their path towards the Protoss Homeworld. As they progressed slowly through the trackless dark between the stars, the Zerg assimilated only the strongest of the races that they came across. The swarm continued to build steadily, ever-increasing in size and power. As they progressed, the Overmind sent out numerous deep-space probes that scouted ahead of the swarm, searching for new worlds to plunder.
Despite innumerable victories, the Overmind was greatly disturbed. The Overmind was aware that the Protoss had become a highly psionic race, able to bend and warp the very fabric of reality to their whims. It sought a way to counter the awesome might of the Protoss, but found no answers among the genetic strains it devoured.
On the verge of despair, the Overmind made an amazing discovery. One of its deep-space probes had relayed the location and vital statistics of a race that occupied a series of nondescript worlds right under the shadow of the Protoss.
The new race, called Humanity, was mere generations away from developing into a formidable psionic power. But the Overmind also knew that Humanity was still in its infant stages, hardly capable of defending itself against the ravenous Zerg. Although a short-lived and seemingly frail species, the Overmind knew that Humanity would be the final determinant in its victory over the Protoss. If it could assimilate the psionic potential of Humanity, the Overmind would have the ability to combat the Protoss on its own terms.
Thus, the Zerg swarms slowly made their way towards the burgeoning worlds of Humanity. The journey lasted for sixty years, but eventually the massive, extended Zerg Swarm reached the outskirts of the Terran sector of Koprulu. Sending in a scouting Brood, the Overmind soon discovered that the Humans dwelt on over a dozen different worlds within the Sector. Seeding the atmosphere of the planet called Chau Sara with rudimentary Hive-spores, the Overmind began to unfold its master plan to enslave Humanity. The Hive-spores gradually drifted down to the surface of Chau Sara and saturated the ground with their denuding, alien toxins. Although the Human colonists had no idea that the Zerg had subtly infested the topsoil of their world, Zerg minions began to descend to the planets surface and construct their bizarre structures and Hive clusters. Once the infestation of the colony was well underway, the Overmind sent its voracious children to the other nearby worlds. Insidious and elusive in their tasks, the agents of the Overmind soon infested the colonial worlds of Chau Sara, Mar Sara, Brontes and Dylar IV, unnoticed by the denizens of those colonies.
Yet, from out of the cold void of space, a mighty fleet of Protoss warships emerged to combat the Zerg invasionary forces. The Overmind, anxious to learn what it could about the enigmatic Protoss, decided to let them hamper the initial infestation process. Holding its ravenous warriors at bay, the Overmind watched as the Protoss razed the colony of Chau Sara. Apparently, the Protoss were aware that the Hive Spores had already despoiled the planet and seeking to prevent further infestation, incinerated the planet.
Such decisive action pleased the Overmind, who could only marvel at how the Protoss wrought absolute devastation with such grace and power. Knowing that the coming conflict would be the greatest challenge of its existence, the Overmind pulled its forces back to observe how the Protoss and Humanity, would react next.
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 chord of the Protoss was tapped. 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 fascinating in that they constantly fought 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.