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Psionic potential and intelligence of undefinable scale
Symbiotic coalescence of dual species embodying purity of form and essence
The xel'naga were a highly advanced race.
Described as "the most powerful species the universe has ever known," the xel'naga have been referred to as "wanderers from afar," but it has also been described as being their true name. The protoss referred to the xel'naga as the "Ihan-rii", the "Great Teachers", the "Makers", and the "Guardians", during the Aeon of Strife, and prior to it, worshipped them as gods. Some protoss still refer to them as such.
- 1 History
- 2 Biology
- 3 Culture
- 4 Technology
- 5 Prophecies
- 6 Xel'naga Worlds
- 7 Known Xel'naga
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
History[edit | edit source]
Origins[edit | edit source]
Originating from the Void, the xel'naga were incredibly long-lived even by protoss standards, but not immortal; eventually their species would come to an end. In the interest of survival they planned to create new xel'naga by uplifting two species. A pair of qualities was required and these were defined by the xel'naga as purity of essence and purity of form, and each uplifted species would be targeted for one of them. Over an extraordinarily long period of time, the two species would naturally come together and merge, forming the next generation of xel'naga and beginning the cycle anew.
The cycle was repeated in numerous universes; at the start of a universe's creation, the xel'naga would take on physical form and enter the universe, seeding it with life. The cycle repeated so many times that time itself was affected by it.
However, some among the xel'naga resented being uplifted into their god-like forms, and saw the Infinite Cycle of the xel'naga's reproduction as horrid, relying on the conflict of others for the benefit of the xel'naga. Under a powerful xel'naga named Amon, this rogue group of xel'naga sought to undo the xel'naga's work, purge the universe of their creation, and make a new perfect universe without the strife of the cycle.
Arrival in the Milky Way[edit | edit source]
Using khaydarin crystals, the xel'naga carefully and indirectly steered the delicate evolutionary processes of their budding species for millennia, keeping a detailed genetic history of each race. Their protracted experiments produced many intriguing deviants and mutations, but the races that they cultivated always fell short of their enormous expectations.
The following section contains timeline information which isn't necessarily in chronological order.
During their journeys, they learned of the Voice in the Darkness, a Void-based entity which consumed entire civilizations. The xel'naga, who cherished life, imprisoned it with an Argus crystal beneath a barren world at KL-2.
The xel'naga found or created a powerful relic, the Argus Stone, which they valued over other artifacts, but left it on the world of Aridas. The zerg believe it had been used to create entire races.
The Firstborn[edit | edit source]
The xel'naga slumbered within the Chamber of Ascension as the universe grew, waiting for the two destined races to assemble the Keystone and find their way to Ulnar. Seeing their opportunity, Amon and his followers left Ulnar and sought to personally uplift the evolution of two species to gain the xel'naga's purities.They focused their efforts on the jungle world of Aiur, one of the xel'naga's engineered worlds. Pleased with the progress of its most advanced native life-forms, the renegade xel'naga conceded that their latest creation was their first of all their experiments to evolve beyond the feral constraints of baser life-forms. They gave the new race the name of protoss, or 'the firstborn.'
Unsatisfied with the slow progress of the protoss, Amon and his allies accelerated their evolution and spent a millennium subtly guiding their steps. They used devices such as the Kassia crystal to enhance their rate of reproduction. Eventually, Amon's xel'naga succeeded in leading the protoss to the state of total sentience and awareness. When the protoss became highly intellectual and introspective, Amon and his followers were exhilarated by their seeming success. Attempting to discern the full extent of protoss evolution, they made themselves known to the protoss and integrated into their culture.
The protoss were united by their fascination with these new "gods." They called their new benefactors the Ihan-rii, the "Great Teachers", the "Makers", and the "Guardians". Amon's xel'naga marveled at how driven the protoss were to plumb the mysteries of the universe around them. However, they reeled in frustration when the protoss tribes grew further and further apart. At first, Amon's xel'naga were intrigued by this ideological development, and conducted an experiment to see what effects the diverging tribes might have on khaydarin crystals. They created twin crystals, the Khalis and Uraj, from a monolithic crystal and gifted them to the Sargas and Akilae Tribe respectively. The crystals' powers and appearance diverged with their tribes.
The Departure[edit | edit source]
Amon's xel'naga speculated that perhaps they had pushed protoss evolution too far. As individual egos arose to overpower the once primary communal link, many of Amon's followers believed that the protoss had lost their greatest strengths. With the loss of the primal psychic link, which the xel'naga considered the most fundamental element of their greatness, they 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 a failed creation as a result of their sentience being pushed too quickly. Amon's xel'naga were already done with the protoss, and needed to work on a new species. Hundreds of Amon's were killed in a protoss attack when they tried to leave, but they were fended off long enough for the greater number of their worldships to be launched. They left behind khaydarin crystals and at least one ship.
Broken Cycle[edit | edit source]
Amon and his followers traveled to Zerus, where they dismissed their tenets of physical form and focused chiefly on the pursuit of a distinct purity of essence. They labored to advance the evolution of the zerg, which was the most insignificant life form on Zerus until their proto-genetic manipulations enabled the zerg to survive the torrential firestorms and thrive.
The zerg ultimately developed the ability to assimilate other races into themselves, and Amon knew that they had achieved their goal when the zerg became conditioned to survive the harshness of space. However, the xel'naga were alarmed to discover that the original races assimilated by the zerg were almost unrecognizable after only a few generations of their inception. Amon desired their ability to steal essence, but the zerg were independent. Remembering their failure with the protoss, Amon's xel'naga attempted to waylay the potential hazards of differing egos by structuring the collective sentience of the zerg into a unified, amalgamated hive mind, creating a separate entity called the Overmind to control the swarm. They kept a constant watch on the Overmind via a psychic link.
Feeling an absence within the Void itself as the protoss created the Khala, the other xel'naga were disturbed from their slumber. Discovering Amon and his followers at Zerus, a war erupted among the xel'naga; in response, Amon unleashed the zerg. The xel'naga attempted to stem the tide of the ever-advancing onslaught, but the reinforced hulls of their worldships were battered by wave after wave of zerg swarms with no signs of abatement. The xel'naga defenses were overrun within a few hours and the greater whole of the xel'naga race was consumed, an action which threw the xel'naga plan into turmoil. A fraction of the xel'naga remained within Ulnar, however, and Amon himself was felled in the final confrontation. He was thrust back into the Void and twisted it with his hatred, though the zerg continued to feel his influence. One of his surviving servants thereafter sought a body to sustain Amon.
Creation's Vacuum[edit | edit source]
During the Golden Age of Expansion, Khyrador became home to the Uraj crystal. However, it was later abandoned during the Discord when a series of violent psionic storms rocked Khyrador and drove away its protoss settlers.
A fanatical sect of the protoss took on one of the xel'naga's titles, the Ihan-rii. These protoss believed themselves the one true descendants of the xel'naga, and utilized much of their technology for their own constructs and vessels.
Believing terrazine to be a gift from the xel'naga, Tal'darim mystics set up altars on Bel'Shir to collect what they called 'the Breath of Creation'. The Tal'darim also guarded pieces of the Keystone on Monlyth, Xil, Typhon XI and a derelict xel'naga worldship in the Sigma quadrant.
When the Nerazim found a temple which the xel'naga had constructed above a nexus of powerful cosmic energies, they decided to remain on Shakuras to study it. During the Brood War, the temple grounds were infested by two cerebrates. The protoss scoured the infestation then secured the Uraj. On Char, several cerebrates locked onto the Khalis' energies and nested near it, but it too was retrieved by the protoss. The protoss used the crystals to channel the temple's energies. The resulting explosion obliterated the zerg on Shakuras.
Shortly before the Brood War, the xel'naga temple on Bhekar Ro was unearthed. The temple housed a strange "phoenix-like" energy creature which absorbed the essences and genetics of both protoss and zerg.
Duran used genetic manipulation to create protoss/zerg hybrids on a thousand different worlds. At the end of the Brood War, Dark Prelate Zeratul encountered Duran on a dark moon. He continued to seek answers for what manner of being Duran truly was, and what dark future he was working toward. However, he was suffering mentally for numerous reasons, such as the death of Matriarch Raszagal at his hand. Years after his discovery, Zeratul was located by a preserver, Zamara, and her terran "host", Jake Ramsey. They restored Zeratul's mood and exchanged information. According to Zamara, Samir Duran's experiments are a "perversion", and if his attempts to "unify" the species become successful, "a monstrous and powerful perversion of both protoss and zerg will be set loose upon the universe, and all that [the protoss and terran] know and cherish will fall in their wake".
Return of the Xel'naga[edit | edit source]
After uncovering a revelation somehow related to the xel'naga, Zeratul sought additional clues to unravel the mystery. Both he and Sarah Kerrigan were drawn to Ulaan to uncover a prophecy, rumored to foretell the return of the xel'naga, that was divided into three fragments, each kept at separate shrines. Zeratul gathered the fragments and had them deciphered by the preservers of Zhakul.
The Dominion went to Mar Sara to excavate a piece of the Keystone. For months, Dominion engineers excavated it at White Rock Base. The Dominion forcibly shipped citizens there from Backwater Station to dig it up. As they were getting ready to move the artifact off-world, it was seized by Raynor's Raiders.
Fearing the Keystone's power, Kerrigan dispersed the zerg to search for the various pieces. After Raynor's Raiders had collected the other Keystone fragments, it was assembled and the engineer corps moved it to the base of the primary hive cluster on Char. The terrans protected the artifact while it charged. It then extracted the essence that forged Kerrigan into the Queen of Blades. Narud used that energy to release Amon from the Void.
The xel'naga wished Kerrigan restored as leader of the Swarm, and had Zeratul (by this point serving their interests, or at least what he perceived as the greater good) guide her to Zerus, where she was reborn as the Primal Queen of Blades, free of Amon's influence. Xel'naga relics which housed genetic information were also collected by Kerrigan on Zerus.
Narud battled Kerrigan at Amon's temple, which he had built Skygeirr Station on top of. Alexei Stukov deactivated the five xel'naga temples that were amplifying Narud's power. Kerrigan killed Narud in the heart of the temple, but by this point Amon was alive again.
Legacy of the Void[edit | edit source]
Whispers of Oblivion[edit | edit source]
Zeratul, together with the forces of Praetor Talis, reached Atrias and faced the Tal'darim to access the Temple of Erris. Inside the temple, Zeratul discovered that Amon was communicating with Highlord Ma'lash through a void catalyst. Zeratul destroyed the catalyst, at which point Ouros told him that the Keystone would "usher you unto hope," showing its location on Korhal. Zeratul escaped the temple, despite Amon's efforts to stop him.
During the Reclamation of Aiur, Amon corrupted the Khala, tethering the Khalai to his will. At the cost of his own life, Zeratul freed Hierarch Artanis from Amon's control by severing his nerve cords.
Ulnar[edit | edit source]
The Keystone guided Artanis into the Altarian Rift to Ulnar, where he and Kerrigan entered the Temple of Unification and, in accordance with the prophecies, worked together to seek out the Halls of Revelation. Upon entering the Chamber of Ascension, however, they found that those who slumbered within had been slain.
Into the Void[edit | edit source]
Amon planned to return as his hatred festered within the Void. Ouros called to Kerrigan, who led an expedition into the Void with Artanis and Commander Jim Raynor. Narud was defeated by their forces, then finished off by Stukov.
Ouros urged Kerrigan to merge with his essence and she agreed.
With Ouros having given his life, the Infinite Cycle came to its end. Kerrigan ascended as xel'naga.
Children of the Xel'naga[edit | edit source]
Xel'naga corpses were gathered by the Daelaam for study, who gained insight into their biology. The Terran Dominion was unable to recover any bodies, but Emperor Valerian Mengsk desired to request the findings of the protoss. The Zerg Swarm also gathered what xel'naga essence it could from the corpses at Ulnar.
As part of her parting gift to the Zerg Swarm, Sarah Kerrigan gifted Overqueen Zagara with the ability for the zerg to choose their own destiny, as well as the location of a sentience species who could house xel'naga essence. Zagara, seeking to have the zerg undo the damage of the past decade, had the Swarm take only a sufficient number of this species, and tasked zerg evolution master Abathur create a new species named the adostra, which could regenerate life on planets, from mixing xel'naga essence and the essence of the species that could house it. The life spawned on planets would also show signs of xel'naga essence within them. However, Abathur was displeased with the use of the Swarm to create non-zerg species, as well as the peace Zagara desired, and also used the essence to create chitha, psionic creatures of equal part zerg and xel'naga that could control nearby zerg, disrupt psionics and halt communications. Abathur sought to have the Dominion and Daelaam destroy the adostra, sparking a war between the factions to return the swarm to its former state. However, his plot was revealed, and his chitha were destroyed.
Biology[edit | edit source]
Xel'naga biology varied based on the creature. Many, such as Ouros, Amon, and those depicted in the xel'naga temples showed a large squid-like creature with a bulbous body. Others such as Narud were large hunched creatures, similar to void thrashers. Sarah Kerrigan's xel'naga form was that of a flaming human with large wings.
The xel'naga, and creatures that contain xel'naga essence, are able to passively facilitate the rapid growth of life around them, and cause extreme growths of flora and fauna even in dead worlds. Their genetics contained a depth of molecular and quantum complexity not understood by the races of the Koprulu Sector.
Culture[edit | edit source]
Technology[edit | edit source]
The xel'naga made liberal use of khaydarin crystals and other such crystals in their technology. One such crystal, the Kassia crystal, was used to regulate protoss fertility during their development.
These artifacts are sought by protoss. The Nerazim especially have made efforts to track these down. To the protoss, much of the xel'naga's technology is akin to magic, and some of their shielding technology is immune to the psionic powers of the Khalai.
Still more temples have appeared on worlds such as Nemaka, Aridas (where the powerful Argus Stone was stored) and Bhekar Ro; the latter disgorged a strange energy creature which collected protoss and zerg genetics for unknown purposes.
Some pieces of xel'naga technology are immune to conventional weaponry. However, some xel'naga technology can disrupt the functions of other xel'naga technology, creating an opening for it to be dismantled or destroyed.
Prophecies[edit | edit source]
Braken Prophecies[edit | edit source]
There are prophecies relating to the planet Braken, a protoss world with religious significance. These prophecies claim that "he who harnesses this world will someday wield a great power, sanctified by the ancient ones".
Kerrigan and Zeratul's Role[edit | edit source]
Kerrigan bantered with Zeratul on Char as a prelude to combat, where Zeratul told her: "Your coming has been foretold... You are part of the culmination. But not the end of it. You shall show the way, the path that must be taken, the realigning of old truths no longer valid. Yours is not the hand, but your very existence provides necessary instruction." Kerrigan did not treat the pronouncement seriously at the time.
Xel'naga Worlds[edit | edit source]
The following are worlds known to have been visited by the xel'naga, many of them possessing relics of their presence:
Known Xel'naga[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The xel'naga were not a playable race in StarCraft II, as only the original three races can be played. Storywise, they form the backbone of the trilogy.
- The xel'naga may have played a different role in the trilogy originally. An early cinematic depicted Zeratul warning Jim Raynor of the xel'naga's linkage with alien artifacts, that they were the key to their return. For the release of Wings of Liberty, this content was replaced with Zeratul giving Raynor information about Kerrigan.
- As of BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard Entertainment has devised no artwork for the xel'naga, as they wanted to keep their options open. Artwork had been designed by BlizzCon 2014. Their appearance, and position as godlike beings, bears resemblance to creatures of the Cthulhu mythos; a fiction horror universe written by H.P. Lovecraft.
- In the 2013–2018 period, the xel'naga article was the fourth most visited page on the wiki, putting them even above the popularity of the playable species.
Development[edit | edit source]
The following section contains information from a previous version of StarCraft II which is no longer valid.
- A development version of the map "Echoes of the Future" identifies the xel'naga as the ones who manipulated the Overmind to destroy the protoss: Overmind: The Xel'Naga had created me to eradicate their failed children - the protoss - in a battle neither species would survive. The Overmind also created Kerrigan to stop the return of the Xel'naga: Overmind: Yet my...daughter...remained. She alone would break the cycle. She alone would forge a future devoid of the hated Xel'Naga.
- The xel'naga were considered to be a possible playable race in StarCraft II. The xel'naga keeper was an early look at a 'minion unit' for the faction. However, the idea was dropped, for as the lore was developed, it was decided that the xel'naga would be too powerful to be a playable faction. While some xel'naga units appear in Legacy of the Void, they are not a playable race in the traditional sense. The hybrid ended up becoming a 'xel'naga proxy' in the campaign.