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It has already been stated that the Xel’Naga will appear in StarCraft II, and it is a given that the Hybrids which Samir Duran has been working on will also appear. Furthermore, we've been following a trail of breadcrumbs left by the three, trying to decipher the mystery behind them. Join StarCraft Legacy as we analyze all we know of the enigma that is the Xel'Naga and perhaps unravel its answer before they return.

Four Temples

The first temple we see is on Aiur, created when the Xel'Naga first set foot upon Aiur. This temple rested on a nexus of cosmic energy. Upon placing a shard of Khaydarin Crystal there, the Overmind was able to manifest in material form. However, this occured after the temple had already been destroyed, so while we have an idea of the type of power that the temple had been built over, the powers of the temple itself are a mystery.

Another temple is found on the backwater colony Bhekar Ro in Shadow of Xel’Naga. This temple is revealed to house a powerful creature of energy that uses the temple as a sort of egg – it absorbs life through the temple, all life, until it grows enough to emerge and break free. It absorbs the life from the soil, preventing planets from growing well, and it also absorbs the energy of Protoss and Zerg. However it is only interested in the latter two and in a sense “regurgitates” Terrans alive and well.

The temple on Shakuras requires two types of psionic energy – Void or "Dark Templar" energy, which we know to be similar to Zerg energy, and Khala or "High Templar" energy. Although it is not 100% confirmed that these psionic powers go hand in hand with the purity of essence and the purity of form that the Zerg and Protoss possess, it would not be a bad assumption to make at the same time. This temple apparently scoured the planet of Zerg, but left the Protoss unharmed.

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The final temple on Nemeka in Firstborn is similar to the temple of Bhekar Ro. It is stated that at an unknown time prior to the novel, this temple also housed an energy creature, as evidenced by the charred hole found in the temple’s roof where it escaped. Jake Ramsey comes to the conclusion that the temple was an egg meant to incubate the energy creature – this is concurrent with what the Dark Templar Xerana states in Shadow of the Xel’Naga. Thus, it is also safe to assume that this temple could absorb Protoss and Zerg as the first did, at least until the energy creature left it behind.

What Is In A Name?

The name “Shadow of the Xel’Naga” must be considered. Does it mean that the Xel’Naga and their legacy are looming over the events of the novel? Perhaps; or, does it mean that the energy creature itself, is a shadow of the Xel’Naga? The novel refers to the creature explicitly as a Xel’Naga hatchling but doesn’t confirm one way or the other if it is a Xel’Naga itself or something created by them, the term "Xel'Naga hatchling" could be interpreted either way.

The Scholars Of Twilight

Thus far, the Protoss are largely in the dark over their masters – they know they exist, but until Zeratul made his connection with the Overmind, there is minimal evidence to show the Protoss even knew the Zerg were created by the Xel’Naga. They seem to have suspected it, but did not truly know.

Beyond this, it is indicated that even with their considerable intellect, the Protoss simply do not have the same grasp of the workings of the universe as their masters did. The Dark Templar studied the Xel’Naga temple on Shakuras for years but the full extent of their findings is unknown. The Dark Templar scholar Xerana in Shadow of the Xel’Naga was also having difficulty following the ruined clues left by them, although she had pieced enough together to make some sort of unrevealed discovery. Although they obviously use Khaydarin Crystals to amplify their psionic energies through the psionic matrixes of Aiur and Shakuras, the Protoss still lack a full grasp of their abilities, as the Overmind states. The preserver Zamara’s mysterious mission is thus far unrevealed as well and may also tie into the Xel’Naga. Furthermore, the Dark Archon Ulrezaj considers Zamara, and all other Preservers, dangerous because they "know too much" and took great pains to eliminate them. Protoss Preservers hold the knowledge of all dead Protoss in their minds, even those of demi-gods like Khas and Adun. What dark secrets could Zamara hold that Ulrezaj fears? Could they also tie into the Xel'Naga?

It is up for debate if Kerrigan is in any better state than the Protoss. We know the Overmind knew a great deal about the Xel'Naga, but how much, if any, of that knowledge was retained by Kerrigan is unknown. We do know she sent Zerg to investigate the temple in Shadow of the Xel’Naga and she sent Zerg to investigate the powers of Jake Ramsey in Shadow Hunters. We also know, through Blizzard’s lore exclusive with StarCraft: Legacy, that Kerrigan is beginning to piece together the mystery surrounding Duran. Although she likely has not grasped the full scope of these things, it is obvious that the Queen of Blades knows that something grand has or is about to occur.

The Cycle

Countless references from every corner of the StarCraft lore indicate that a great cycle is nearing completion, and while Zeratul is apparently frightened of what this means, the templar Zamara is not so scared and Samir Duran is elated. The meaning of this cycle has been an intense subject of debate – what type of cycle, what will happen when it completes, and so forth. What is obvious is that a great event will occur that will drastically alter the status quo in the Koprulu Sector and possibly spell the doom of the Protoss and/or Zerg. This is commonly assumed to refer to the return of the Xel’Naga, or the awakening of the Hybrids, or both.

The Culmination Of Your History

What do these many pieces mean? The temples, the cycle, the energy beings, the Hybrids, the Xel’Naga – these are all pieces of a puzzle, and like any puzzle they must all fit together to make a coherent whole. How do these things link to each other?

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What is a Hybrid? For that answer, we must consider what we know about the union of Protoss and Zerg energy. Zerg energy and dark templar energy are apparently similar, so we could also apply what we know of dark and light psionics to this. Tassadar harnessed such energy, and his power was too great – it destroyed the Gantrithor, along with himself and the Overmind. This is the same thing that happened to Adun – he manifested dark and light psionic energy at once and was consumed in a blaze of light. In Dark Origins, Zeratul sees what is obviously a physical being, as it possesses DNA and is inside a stasis cell. We know the energy creatures in the temple also absorb light and dark psionic energies, and that this apparently increases their strength.

The concept of a Hybrid goes beyond simple genetic structure - if it didn't, then it would be easy to call a Hybrid, an Infested Protoss or an Assimilated Protoss, all the same type of creature. But this is not the case. The concept of a Hybrid goes beyond restrictions of physical flesh, into the realm of psionic and spiritual existence. A true Hybrid is not merely just a being with a body that is both Protoss and Zerg, but the power of both as well, the power of light and dark psionic energy.

Thus, StarCraft: Legacy submits for your consideration, the following theory:

The energy creatures of the temples are the Hybrids. The creature seen in Dark Origins was a “larval” Hybrid, one freshly birthed and not yet at its full power. However, at a later date this larval Hybrid would absorb Protoss and Zerg specimens and break the bonds of its fleshly form, becoming an energy being. We know the Hybrid combines purity of form with purity of essence – what greater form of purity is there than pure energy? This is what happened to Tassadar and Adun – they manifested Protoss and Zerg energy at once and inadvertently tapped into the same power of the Hybrids, consuming themselves in storms of energy their physical bodies couldn’t contain.

The cycle that nears its completion is the life cycle of the Hybrids – through the conduits of the temples, they have begun to absorb Protoss and Zerg and grow, and soon they, as a whole, shall be strong enough to manifest as energy creatures, a Hybrid’s “mature” form. The temples of Bhekar Ro and Nemeka are designed to house and feed one Hybrid, but the temple of Shakuras operates by absorbing many Zerg at once, which is what happened when it was activated; the Zerg were absorbed and their energy sent to the incubating Hybrids elsewhere. Under this theory, presumably somewhere there is another temple somewhere that absorbs Protoss energy.

The Xel’Naga have worked in secret over the centuries, carefully seeding Hybrids everywhere and stepping back to let their creations grow, until the Hybrids were ready to feed. That time has come, and the Xel’Naga have returned to gather the final Protoss and Zerg subjects needed to let their Hybrids mature and awaken.

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