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( Short version of Hierarch Artanis's address to the residents of the former Protoss Empire: )
En Taro Tassadar !
Fellow Protoss, sons and daughters of Aiur, wherever you are in the galaxy, listen …
I am Artanis, newly elected leader of the Protoss Hierarchy. I call to you from Shaquras, homeworld of the Dark Templar, and now … the new centre of the Protoss domain.
By now the news should have reached you ... Aiur has fallen. The most important sites in the history of our people now lay in ruins, ravaged by the Zerg Swarm, an enemy like none that the Protoss have encountered before.
The Great War did have some positive outcomes. We have finally united with our Dark Templar brethren, and we have also gained valuable allies in unexpected places. With their aid, we will build a new, brighter future for ourselves.
( pause )
However, we must realize that good fortune is not enough to ensure the safety of our people. The Zerg are still at large, along with other enemies eager to take advantage of the losses we had suffered in the Great War.
Clearly, the weapons and tactics we had used in the Great War were dangerously ineffective at handling the threats that our people are even now facing. I am sure most of you agree, that the ancient conventions that have controlled … limited our progress for generations, must now be revised. There are ancient technologies that we have nearly forgotten, that lay buried under cities where we no longer dwell, concealed under the soil of worlds on which we no longer tread, or drifting in the Void between the stars. In time, we will seek out all of those, and once again our history and science shall be complete !
Millenia ago, not long after the Dark Templar left the Homeworld in search of sanctuary, our people began building massive space-crafts. These … Motherships were sent out into the uncharted regions beyond our domain, for the purpose of exploration and colonization.
There you have remained, at the frontiers of the Protoss Empire's expansion.
I have felt you through the Link. The terrible dangers of the Beyond have not diminished your strength. Indeed, nothing built by any other species known to us comes close to the magnificent might of the Motherships.
And in these critical times, we need the might of the Motherships more than ever, especially in the Home Sector, where the forces that the Hierarchy has at its disposal, including what remains of the once-mighty Aiur Main Fleet, are as now only barely able to meet the challenges they face.
I understand that you hold your duty to the Dae'Uhl above all else, but as time goes on you will realize that even the principles of Stewardship need to be revised, this time for different reasons than the last reformation. We can no longer afford to just sit and watch the younger species evolve. Our complacency has cost us our Homeworld, our status as the dominant species, and nearly resulted in our extinction.
What experience I have has taught me that it is unwise to leave one task unfinished while rushing off to another. Thus, I advice that you wrap up all your important projects before setting off on your journey to the Home Sector.
I look forward to meeting all of you, brave explorers, engineers, and wise men from afar !
And do not be alarmed by the changes that have occurred to us in the aftermath of the Great War,
For did not The Bringer of Light teach us :
"All is One in the Khala !".
Executor Danesh opened his eyes but maintained his grip on the Ihan crystal.
By now, most of the Protoss working in this outpost had heard of the message from what was apparently the new supreme leader of the Protoss people, as well as the astonishing events that it described.
Danesh had cross-referenced it with past communications between the outpost and the Home Sector, and confirmed to his own satisfaction that this Artanis, despite his youth, was a capable leader. The actions that the new Hierarchy had taken reflected the idealism and boldness of his generation, qualities which Danesh knew were vital in building this "bright new future" that the survivors from Aiur had promised themselves.
The former Conclave, with its rigid laws, did have its merits, for it maintained an ordered society, preventing the Protoss from slipping back into the chaos of the Age of Strife. However, at this moment, the Protoss were in need of a different kind of order, one which Artanis understood well and seemed determined to realize.
Danesh felt eager to set off at once to Shaquras and meet the Hierarch in person, but before that he still had work to do.
Once again, he concentrated on the object still held in his palm, the pear-sized blue-grey crystal floating atop the middle of the bronze-coloured starfish-shaped device placed on the table before him.
Again, the crystal glowed, and Danesh closed his eyes, telepathically searching through the data stored within the device in the form of memories, which flowed and shifted as they were constantly updated from various sources within the Link.
And then he found what he was looking for.
( High Templar Atunir's report on the investigation of the armed conflict between the humans and the Navi … )
When the humans first landed on Pandora, we had ascertained that they were not hostile. Their interactions with the natives were well within tolerable bounds. It thus came as a shock to us when they sent their war vehicles against the Omaticaya tribe, destroying the latter's Home Tree in the process.
It came as another surprise, when various Navi tribes subsequently banded together and launched a counter-attack, eventually defeating the humans with seemingly primitive weapons.
During the final battle between the humans and the native Pandorans, we were able to infiltrate the humans' main facility, which was only lightly guarded, as the humans had devoted most of their forces into the battle. Most of the staff working in the facility were totally oblivious to our presence ( thanks to Judicator Pvadelon's psionic prowess ) and those that did notice us were subdued within one pulse ( from what we have observed of human physiology and the level of their medical advancement, they are unlikely to perish from the injuries we inflicted. )
We attempted to access their computer systems, but we did not understand their technology well enough to do so, and thus we have instead identified the data storage devices and taken those with us for later review.
Psychic Interrogation of the subdued human personnel proved more fruitful.
The following is a summary of our findings:
As we know, before the battle, some humans had begun living together with the Navi in the guise of the natives.
The latest of these "Avatars", named Jake Sully, had been tasked by his superiors to negotiate with the Omaticaya Navi so as to peacefully obtain a precious mineral buried under the latter's Home Tree.
After some time, the decision to attack the Omaticaya's Home Tree was made by the highest ranking military commander within this human settlement, one Colonel Miles Quaritch. This decision was not supported by all of his brethren. Sully was especially opposed to it, yet there are indications that Sully had indirectly caused it. As yet we are unable to find out the exact reason why Quaritch had given the order to attack.
After the initial attack, Sully had disappeared. Detailed analysis of the Navi's battle maneuvers revealed that they already had some knowledge of the capabilities of the humans' war vehicles. By examining the recordings from observers present during the final battle, we have also identified one "Avatar" who appeared to be the overall commander of the Navi forces. There is a high chance that this is Sully himself.
The details of our findings have been organized into …
Danesh skipped through most of the details, and only concentrated on the the main points, which were marked with a strong psionic imprint to indicate importance.
When he finally released his grip on the crystal, allowing it to dim and sink back to its resting position, he had a rough but adequate picture of what was going on.
"Foolish creatures." He muttered.
Well, at least this little conflict had not escalated to a level that required the Protoss to intervene.
For several generations, the Protoss had been following the Dae'Uhl, watching over primitive alien civilizations, while intervening as little as possible in the latter's development. And an important part of non-intervention is to ensure that the species being watched is unaware of the existence of their invisible guardians, until such time as the Protoss decided that said species was ready for contact.
Yet what if the Protoss could no longer watch over a world ? What if they had to leave before the planet's native civilisation had developed to a level where, by Protoss standards, they could be left alone ?
After pondering on this problem for a moment, Danesh settled into a relaxed, meditative pose, and opened his mind directly into the communal psionic link that all Protoss shared with one another.
"My brothers and sisters." He spoke telepathically through the the Link to all Protoss in the Pandora Outpost.
"This is a critical time in the history of our people. We must go to the aid of our brethren in the Home Sector.
However, we cannot leave our duty here unfulfilled . Clearly, the principles of Dae'Uhl alone cannot guide us through this dilemma.
It is time for a Shurah. Let the Khala decide our next course of action !"
Unlike the humans, the Protoss had little need to wear protection suits or use Avatar bodies when travelling through wild Pandoran terrain.
All that Zevura wore now were her white Judicator robes, belted at the waist, and a crystal-encrusted headband. Simple yet tough physiology, and a natural barrier of invisible plasma that surrounded her body protected her from an environment that was otherwise highly toxic to off-worlders.
As the young Judicator lay comfortably on the densely overgrown forest floor, the nerve-cords behind her head spread out and touched with the mat of blue moss underneath, and through this physical contact she became Linked to the vast and complex neural network that spanned the entire surface of Pandora and included every plant growing on it.
When she first came to this outpost from Aiur ( back when Aiur was still the thriving Protoss homeworld ), a group of older scientists had told her about the strange but wonderful flora and fauna living on Pandora, and that the inhabitants of this world possessed something akin to a crude, natural version of the Khala. Her curiosity had gotten the better of her and she had begged Judicator Pvadelon to bring her down to the surface so that she could see everything for herself.
Well, hearing about it was one thing. Actually feeling it was another level of experience altogether.
The entire biosphere was one conscious organism ! As Zevura first lost herself among the thought currents of this incredible ocean of a mind, she could see that the native Navi belief in their entire world as one living Goddess was far from mere superstition. Every tree, shrub, or patch of grass on Pandora was but a cell within the body of this super-organism, and even the animals were sometimes Linked into Her. The Navi knew how to interact with Eywa, but there was still so much more potential which the blue-skinned natives had yet to tap into.
When the humans came to Pandora more than ten cycles ago, the Executor had ordered that no Protoss was to stay for any length of time on the surface of Pandora unless he or she was on an important errand, like retrieving a malfunctioning probe. Zevura lacking the required skills to be sent on such missions, had to stay on the Mothership for most of her time.
Now that most of the humans had left the moon, she could once again visit these beautiful forests whenever she wanted.
There she lay, enjoying her communion with Eywa, until she was awoken by the psychic voice of the Executor calling for a Shurah.
With a sigh, she sat up, and was about to lift her nerve cords away from the ground, when she heard another telepathic message from Judicator Pvadelon.
'Keep them there, Zev. It would be interesting to hear from Eywa itself.'
Nodding happily, Zevura let the tips of her nerve cords fall again to the ground, then closed her eyes, and relaxed herself.
A deep tranquility settled over her as she, like every other Protoss on Pandora and the invisible Mothership in its orbit, merged her mind into the Khala.
After a few breaths, Danesh opened his eyes, and he nodded in satisfaction.
"It is decided, we shall make contact with the Navi. And then, we leave for Shaquras as soon as possible. "
From behind a tree, Neytiri stared at the strange figure sitting motionless in the clearing ahead. The latter wore clothing and ornaments, but appeared neither Navi nor human. Was it a Dream-Walker ? If so, it was unlike any Dream-Walker she had seen. Its face was child-like, dominated by a large round forehead and two big eyes, now closed. In comparison, its nose and mouth were unnoticeable. Its chin was small and pointed. Its head was elongated backwards, and from the back there sprouted long black cords which Neytiri assumed to be hair.
As she approached the clearing, making sure to crouch low so that she remained well-hidden behind the tall shrubs, she realized to her horror that this creature actually had no nose nor mouth at all !
Was it even alive ? Judging from the colour of its skin, and the fact that it was not moving at all, perhaps … it was a statue left by an ancient clan ? The Omaticaya rarely created images of other living things, but they knew about statues from other clans who lived outside the forests and were more knowledgeable at making tools. And of course, there were the Sky People, the humans, who could make statues that actually moved like living things.
The Sky People were gone now, returned back to their own world, except for those few which had shared a close relationship with the Navi, including her current mate, Jake Sully, now a prominent leader recognized by more than one tribe. Jake had declined the position of chieftain, preferring to stay as a hunter and explorer. At first, Neytiri was puzzled by this decision, but since then she had travelled with him and his friends to many places, which would not have been possible had Jake taken up the busy duties of a chieftain, and she had learned many things about this world that even she as a native never knew about.
Perhaps this was one of those things, something of this world that she had never seen before, but which, as the humans always said, "must have a logical explanation." Or was it even from this world ? Did it come from some other world, like the Sky People themselves ?
'Do I look strange ?'
Neytiri froze in surprise as she heard the voice. It seemed to sound right inside her head, not in recognizable words but in thought-forms. How was that possible ? That usually happened only during Tsaheylu, and her nearest bond-mate, the Pa'li which she rode during her hunting trips, was resting several trees away.
Before she could look around for the source of the voice, she saw the "statue"'s eyes open, and her own eyes widened as well.
Instinctively, she took a few steps back, and her left hand reached up to the bow case slung over her back.
The creature raised a hand and placed it over its chest, followed by beckoning gesture towards her.
"I am Zevura. What is your name ?"
This time, the voice sounded more tangible, and was clearly spoken by the grey-skinned creature before her. The tone had a soothing effect, and together with the sign of greeting, gradually calmed her fears, but still she hesitated, her hand not leaving the bow case.
Sighing, Zevura slowly stood up to her full height, almost as tall as Neytiri herself, and clearly taller than a human. The general outline of her body seemed similar to a Navi, but as Zevura stepped forward, Neytiri felt something strange about the way the former's legs bent, though she could not see clearly due to the white flowing robes covering said legs.
Neytiri was so mystified by Zevura's gait that before she realized it they were standing right in front of each other.
Neytiri looked up again, and was transfixed by the pale blue glow in Zevura's eyes. The dark purple freckles that were sparsely spread over Zevura's forehead, cheeks and neck were also visible as well.
"I see you !" Zevura repeated one of the polite Navi greetings that she had learned. "I am Zevura of the Shelak Tribe. Where do you come from, my friend ? How may I call you ?"
This time, Neytiri slowly returned the gesture, but she did not reply vocally, and from her expression one could tell that she was still stunned by everything she had seen in the last few minutes.
Zevura sighed and momentarily lowered her gaze. 'I guess normal speech doesn't work as well …'
"The Sky People have returned !"
Every banshee rider resting along the cliff edge turned their heads towards the source of the shout.
One of their comrades had just landed his flying mount upon the wide, flat-topped section of rock that jutted out from the cliff edge, and was running excitedly towards the giant amphitheatre-shaped cliff face which bent around the inner section of the natural landing space, with arches and caves leading towards other parts of the mountain.
And along this cliff face, a round of murmurs arose as all nearby Navi voiced their astonishment and panic at this latest news. The Ikrans they had been tending to sensed the faint distress in the minds of their bond-mates, and a chorus of croaks echoed across the cliff face as well.
And then in the middle of the gathering, a tall male Navi wearing a headdress adorned with brilliantly coloured feathers stood up and silenced his clan-mates with a wave of his hands.
"Calm down, my friends ! We have to make sure that what we heard is true." He then turned to look at the banshee rider who had just arrived and was now leading his Ikran towards its own roost.
However, before the latter could respond, a bright flash up in the sky, brighter than normal lightning yet not accompanied by any thunder, made the whole crowd look upwards.
Silhouetted against the Great Blue Moon which now dominated the sky, and hovering a tree's height above the cliff face was a giant flying beast which reminded the Navi of the humans' larger kunsips, due to the fact that it could remain in the air without flapping its wings. However, its colour was all wrong, a smooth bronze instead of tarnished silver or black like the human's machines. It also had several eyes along its sides which glowed pale blue.
A surprised gasp drew their attention to the front of the cliff face again, and was joined by a series of sharp inhalations from all over the place.
On the middle of the flat landing space there now stood two strange figures, wearing garments which the Navi had never seen, and appearing neither human nor Navi.
"Greetings. I am Judicator Jagatis." The unusually deep reverberating voice appeared to come from the figure on the left, who was dressed in simple white robes and wore a headband with a deep blue oval crystal set above the forehead. He Judicator placed one hand over his chest and dipped his head in a shallow bow.
"And this is Templar Tehanus." the Judicator gestured towards the one on the right, who was clad in an impressive metal war-suit, like that which the humans wore, except that this one was bronze-coloured and left certain parts of the body exposed, while sporting strange protrusions not seen on fully armed human warriors. The Templar copied his companion's gesture of greeting.
"Do not be alarmed, for we come in peace. We bear a message from Executor Danesh, overall Commander of the Protoss Outpost in this system."
At this moment, the male Navi with the feathered headdress shouted, "Are you of the Sky People ?"
Tehanus blinked and looked silently towards the Judicator.
Jagatis was silent as well for a moment, then he stepped forward, reached back with one hand, and brought a few of his nerve cords forward. "Let me show you."
As Neytiri disconnected her queue from Zevura's nerve cord, she felt terribly disoriented and would have collapsed into an awkward pose had they not been sitting down, with Zevera holding on to her shoulders.
She took a long deep breath and steadily regained her awareness. Her blurring vision sharpened and Zevura's face once again appeared close up in front of her eyes.
And then she recalled what she had seen through the Link, and she shivered involuntarily. She lay back and covered her face with both palms, hiding her expression. She shook her head slowly and whispered something inaudible.
Being psionic as she was, Zevura had guessed what Neytiri was trying to say, and she answered in the most reassuring tone that she could.
"You need not worry too much. You are the most united species we have seen. Even such things as Civil Wars will not trouble you, as long as you maintain your connection to each other. When you finally take to the stars, you will have a lot to teach the younger species, just as we did."
"Take to the stars … become Sky People …" Neytiri murmured, while still covering her face. "Not want…"
"Eventually you will … you must." Zevura reached up to her own forehead and took off her headband, then she bent over and tugged one of Neytiri's hands towards her, and placed the headband in said hand. The Navi woman stared at the elegantly crafted ornament with a mixture of surprise and fascination.
"We have chosen you. Besides us, only the Navi can understand our ways and methods. After we have left, your people will establish the new Dae'Uhl in this sector."
I'm not sure if I will extend this to a multi-chapter story. If you find the concepts interesting and wish to expand on them, go ahead and use them in your own fic :D
Believe it or not, my original idea was for the Protoss to come to Pandora and Purify the planet/moon, cos I was disappointed with the Avatar storyline. At the end of the movie I felt little sympathy for the Navi nor respect for the main hero. Still I recommend watching it for the awesome CGI ( and also to know what the hell I'm writing about XD )
About the story itself:
- the Shurah thing is not based on actual Starcraft fluff. Shura is Arabic for "consultation" and I just thought it a fitting name for the way the Protoss reach concensus through the Khala :)
- why do the Protoss here never use the name "Terrans" for the humans ? No big reason actually. I had wanted to use an alternative name cos this takes place far away from the Koprolu Sector but eventually I just left it as "humans" XP