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The Covenant was a religious hegemony of multiple alien species, controlling a very large portion of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. More specifically, the Covenant's government system was a hierarchical theocratic oligarchy, having a caste system and being ruled by a group of specific individuals. They waged a genocidal campaign against humanity until they were defeated due to many factors, the most pressing of which was internal conflict. While the Covenant was dealt devastating blows in quick succession, with most of their leadership either lost during the Flood infection of High Charity or the Battle of Installation 00, it still continued to exist in at least some form. Exactly what capacity it continued to operate in remains unknown.
The name "Covenant" was taken from the binding pact that forged the peace between the Elites (Sangheili) and Prophets (San 'Shyuum). They allied with each other after a long war, with millions of casualties. They are combined forces of alien races, and act as the main antagonists in the Halo universe. The war which had devastated their respective races for years was fought over the Forerunners artifacts on the Elite home world, Sanghelios, with the Elites wishing to preserve them, and the Prophets wishing to use the artifacts to activate them. The Elites held a distinct strategic upper hand, as their militaristic society was ready for a war, but the Prophets had one massive advantage; an immensely powerful Forerunner construct known as the Dreadnought. After the Prophets decided to use the Forerunner Dreadnought against the Elites, the Prophets destroyed the Sangheili forces, while the wise and prudent Elite Commanders, realizing their peril, had their warrior priest dissect Forerunner technology to strengthen their ships. Eventually they realized there was no need to fight as the main point of the conflict was now moot. When the Prophets found evidence of the Forerunners and their "Great Journey", hoping to create a peace between them, told the Elites of their discovery and promised to find the means of the Forerunners' transcendence. The Prophets would share this knowledge with the Elites who in turn would protect the Prophets from harm as they searched for transcendent Forerunner artifacts to activate all the Halo Installations. These ideas would be put into the Covenant's founding document, the Writ of Union. At first, the Covenant was only a loose non-aggression pact of two races held together by a common need to avoid mutually assured destruction. But, as their society advanced, so did their technology, culture, and religion. By the time of the Halo games, the Covenant controlled a large part of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. They discovered and conquered various races. Their society had evolved into a complicated caste system, with the Prophets governing the Covenant, and the Elites put in charge of the military. The Covenant was a theocracy, based on prophecies about the sacred rings and The Great Journey. The primary belief of the Covenant was that the Halos will allow them passage into the "Divine Beyond", where they might join the Forerunners as gods, while those who did not believe in the Great Journey would be left behind to die by the power of the Halo Rings.
The Covenant is governed by the High Council, which is led by a trio of Prophets and consists of lesser Prophets, Legates, and very high ranking Elites, which are known as Councilors. However, near the start of the Covenant Civil War, the Prophets began to replace the Elites with Brutes in various positions within Covenant society, including the protection of the Hierarchs and command of the Covenant Fleets. The Prophets of Truth and Mercy used the Prophet of Regret's assassination at the hands of Master Chief as an excuse to replace the Elite guard with Brutes. The Prophets then secretly ordered the Brutes to commit genocide against the Elites, and thus leading to the beginning of the civil war.
Numerous Ministries exist within the Covenant government as well, each of which possesses a single role.
The Covenant Government suffered a blow in November 2552 after the Battle of Installation 05. The Covenant split into 2 different fractions, the Separatists led by Thel 'Vadam and the Loyalists that continued to follow the Prophets.
|Known Governmental Branches of the Covenant|
Ministry of Tranquility | Ministry of Concert | Ministry of Conversion | Ministry of Fortitude | Ministry of Etiology
Council of Concordance | Ministry of Penance | Council of Deed and Doctrine | Council of Masters
The Covenant society is based around a caste system of the species below. Many of the alien species conquered by the Covenant are conscripted into, or gradually become part of the alliance. However, during the first contact with the Humans, The Oracle on board the Forerunner Dreadnought revealed to Truth and Regret that Humans are "My Makers", as shown by its luminary. Since the entire Covenant was based on the belief that the Forerunners had transcended, Truth and Regret knew if any of the other races found out what the Oracle told them, the Covenant would break apart.
As the highest caste, the San 'Shyuum, or Prophets, lead the Covenant and exert complete control over all religious and political affairs. Physically weak, Prophets wield power through absolute command of the Covenant and through scavenged Forerunner technology, leaving the task of conquest to the Elites and the other races. Their higher understanding of the Forerunners gives them great ego and religious influence over the Covenant. The fact that the Covenant is religious zealots makes it all the more easy to control them. They are addressed as "Hierarchs", "Noble Hierarchs", "Holy Ones", or "Exalted" by the other races of the Covenant. Prophets enforce a misguided theology based on the belief that firing the Halo Array will herald some kind of sublimation event called the "Great Journey", which they believe will lead them to the Forerunner's final destination, but it was unknown to them that it would in fact lead them to their death. The most recent and final Hierarchs were Regret, Mercy and, Truth.
Hailing from Sangheilios, Sangheili, or Elites, served as the military leaders of the Covenant before the Great Schism in 2552. While Prophets often had the final say, it was the Elites who organized military campaigns and naval engagements. Ship Masters commanded ships, while Fleet Masters commanded fleets, and Field Masters commanded the vast armies and the higher commanders such as a supreme commander commanded the larger fleets and armadas . Elites maintained the military structure of the Covenant and ensured the Prophets' orders were followed, as well as their own. They also had a diverse rank structure which was based off how many foes an Elite had killed. Elites also wore different colored armor to signify their rank within the Covenant. They were a major component of the Covenant and were the only caste able to maintain the military hierarchy as well as having a voice within the High Council. Later on the Elites would be tested and shoved aside from their zealous role as Covenant military leaders by the Brutes. As the Prophets and Brutes attempted genocide of the Elites, the angered Elites left the Covenant, causing a civil war within the Covenant which would end with the Covenant Loyalists adding them to their list of enemies, and the Elites forming the Covenant Separatists along with many of the Grunts and Hunters. The Separatists then became allies with the UNSC in their fight against the Covenant. They are called "Sangheili" in the Covenant language. An "ee" at the end of an Elite name, such as "'Zamamee or 'Vadumee", would signify that that Elite is a part or was part of the Covenant military, although, after the Great Schism most, if not all, Elites removed the "ee" from their names to show that they had left the Covenant.
Jiralhanae, known as Brutes to Humans, are one of the newer species to the Covenant and are the only race that has obtained equal status to that of one of the founding "clients" of the Covenant pact, the Elites. They have an incredible natural resilience to damage because of their tough rhino like skin that makes up for their lack of energy shields (be it noted that later in Halo 3 they get power armor), and use a number of weapons and vehicles based upon their pre-Covenant technology. This technology is primitive compared to other Covenant weapons, but they are still incredibly lethal, with most Brute-developed weapons having blades attached to them. Some chieftains in Halo 3 and Tartarus from Halo 2 are also equipped with invincibility. As opposed to standard Brute combat, Brutes sometimes will go "berserk", and will try to and usually kill anyone or anything in its path. This shows the brutal nature of the Brute, and the little tolerance they have when they are cornered. The said Brute will charge mindlessly in the event of its armor being destroyed, it's companions being killed, being stuck with a plasma grenade (like Elites), or several other circumstances. Brutes have their own ranks going up to War Chieftains who usually wield plasma cannons, fuel rod guns, or Chieftains who usually wield gravity hammers. The Brutes always work in packs of 3-8 when possible. Brutes are unlike Elites in that they do not have a problem using Human weapons, as shown in the books and Halo 2. After the Elites were replaced for failing to protect the High Prophet of Regret from the "Demon", they took over their role as personal bodyguards of the Prophets and also now make up most of the Covenant military. They have a hairy, ape-like appearance with rough, rhino-like skin and a highly resilient body.
Mgalekgolo, or Hunters, are thought to be giant monsters, but they are actually an assemblage of worm-like entities called "Lekgolo" that create a communal, armor plated form. In this form, they are known as "Mgalekgolo". They always fight and travel in pairs known as "Bond Brothers" (which technically means that not all of the colonies of worms were able to fit within one set of armor), and are the strongest Covenant fighting units. They wield powerful assault cannons and a massive shield resistant to any small arms fire which may also be used as a melee weapon due to its sharp sides and the Hunters' great strength. This is why if you are close enough to a Hunter, they will run at you, and swing their shield at you, which can cause major damage, but this can easily be dodged, since Hunters are relatively slow. They are usually used as shock infantry, and are only deployed on the battle field when in need of a heavy force. Their political and religious motivations are completely unknown. Their weaknesses are their exposed orange flesh, which is located on their backs, stomach, and neck. In Halo 3 the leadership offered more protection by covering their stomachs with more armor. Their main weakness is when their back is turned, because of the lack of armor they have there. They are one of the most powerful Covenant foes, challenged only by the Brutes in Halo 2 and the Elites in Halo 3.
These flying, insect-like creatures referred to as Drones served almost exclusively as engineers, but were replaced by the Huragok. They became the second Covenant species with the ability of flight. In combat it seems that their weapons of choice are the needler, which can cause a good amount of damage if allowed, and the Plasma Pistol, which is weak, unless it is a charged shot, which can bring down your shields drastically. Their ability to fight on the wing makes them an excellent strategic weapon against ground-based opponents. Unlike most other Covenant races, the Drones do not require an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere or a methane environment, as Grunts do, to survive. They are called Yanme'e in the Covenant language. Some people believe that Drones had joined the Covenant some time in between Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. This can be proved false, as they appear in the novel Halo: Contact Harvest, which was the first Human-Covenant contact. They are similar to the drones in the first Marathon game.
Due to their superior senses, the Kig-Yar, or Jackals are the scouts and marksmen of the Covenant military. They are about 5'6" tall and due to their lack of physical durability, they carry a portable energy shield generator during combat. Jackals are employed mainly as sharpshooters with their excellent vision and dexterity, and are also deployed to defend strategic areas. When a Jackal is under fire, it will cover its head with its hands and trot away to another position from which to fire from. The first Human contact was between Staff Sergeants Johnson and Byrne on a Human freighter as Jackal pirates tried to board the ship. Jackals have never been seen using grenades except in the book Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. This is probably because they wield both their weapon and their shield, and so cannot throw grenades while dual-wielding. Jackals were the first Covenant race that the Spartans encountered, as seen in The Fall of Reach.
There is also a subspecies of Kig-Yar known as the Skirmisher. The Covenant uses them as close-range combatants, attacking in packs and using flanking tactics. Currently, they are only known to have been used during the Battle of Reach.
Hailing from Balaho, Unggoy, known as Grunts among Humans, are both the most common and lowest-placed caste of the Covenant, as the name implies. Despite their notable cowardice and ineptitude, they are quite dangerous in large numbers, which may have been why an Arbiter was needed to quell the Grunt Rebellion. They breathe a methane mixture and thus must wear a large tank on their back full of the methane to survive on other planets. They fight well on plasma turrets and use the plasma pistol and needler, sometimes wielding the fuel rod gun as well, though this may have been included simply for comedic purposes. In Halo: Combat Evolved, Grunts wielding fuel rod guns exploded upon detonation. In addition, Grunts are known to be extremely deadly with the plasma pistol; capable of firing it at speeds sometimes exceeding that of the plasma rifle. If their leader is killed, Grunts will run away or they may go Kamikaze by activating two plasma grenades (one on each hand) while charging at you and shouting random noises, and Heretic Grunts will fearlessly charge the enemy when their leader is dead. Their discipline is dependent upon strong leadership and strength of numbers; however, when leaderless, they will present significantly less resistance, often cowering. They are called Unggoy in the Covenant language. Unggoy have a considerable amount of physical strength, enabling them to wield large weapons in the Covenant arsenal. Grunts are approximately 5 feet tall. They have learned many Human languages from intercepting transmissions between Human vessels, a fact that they apparently take great pride in. During the Covenant Civil War they, as well as the Hunters, did not fully support either side, though most sided with the Elites, remaining extremely loyal to their "savior", The Arbiter. Their speech is high and squeaky. They find nothing wrong with this, but most other races that have come in contact with them find it comical. The Grunts also have a knack for making comments when other members of their squad are killed or they are under fire.
Huragok, or Engineers are actually an artificial species created by the Forerunners. They will only converse with the Prophets or individuals who learn their language. This indicates Engineers are very high in the caste system, however ONI believe them to prisoners or slaves. It is believed that the Engineers helped the Covenant to understand how to use the Forerunner technology effectively, which aided their advancement. In military terms, they are generally a non-militant race. However, at times in the Human-Covenant War they have been placed on the battlefield either as repair workers or suicide bombers.
The Covenant society and culture is based solely on worshiping the Forerunners and recovering their sacred artifacts. Because of this, they often have to turn to war to achieve their ends, and so the Elites, and later the Brutes, have a very high place in their culture as they protect the Prophets from external and internal threats. In Covenant society, personal vendettas are not tolerated.
Because of the Prophet's links to the Forerunners, they possess superior technology, and this, combined with the unique abilities of the client races, helped to push the ever-growing war machine of the Covenant. The client races are nearly enslaved by the Covenant, forced to live a completely different way of life. Their past cultures are all but erased, and the only practical way for them to relive their former cultures is through dreams. Most races are only kept for their varying skills to be exploited, rather than to be a part of a flourishing empire. Hunters, for example, are indomitable ground forces, and so they were conquered by way of orbital bombardment to help the Covenant in close-range combat, rather than from star ships.
The Forerunners, a long-since vanished and utterly mysterious civilization, are revered as gods by the Covenant, although their original nature was certainly not divine. The Covenant belief system is underpinned by the existence of numerous abandoned Forerunner artifacts, objects and installations. Of these, the most notable are the seven Halo rings, said to be the locations at which the Covenant belief of the Great Journey will begin. The evident technological perfection of Forerunner objects, and the awesome and unknown purpose for which these artifacts exist, has powered the Covenant theology for millennium.
It appears that the Covenant's faith is solely qualified by finding the Forerunners' abandoned technology scattered throughout the galaxy. However, much of this Forerunner technology is as obtuse as it is arcane. It can only be guessed at what its true purpose and origin might be. That said, they have been able to incorporate some Forerunner advancements into their weapon and transport technology. The Covenant, then, are mainly driven by their fanatical devotion to religion. The client races are held together by a common belief; the slave races are driven by the religion which they have been forced to accept.
The Covenant divided their history into eons called Ages. There are at least seven ages, although their exact order is uncertain. The Ages are named according to things that have happened or are happening in them. This also means that the lengths of the Ages vary, with some longer than others. Halo Wars, Halo: Combat Evolved, and Halo 2 take place during the 9th Age of Reclamation, which began during the events in Halo: Contact Harvest.
Covenant technology is repeatedly referred to as more imitation rather than innovation, unlike their human enemies. Some may say that their technology is far more advanced than that of humanity. Their technology is based largely on mimicry and reverse engineering of the leftover Forerunner artifacts they have discovered; their weaponry is mostly plasma based and most of their vehicles are capable of hovering. Most of the Covenant's hand-held weapons (except the Fuel Rod Gun, Needler, Carbine, Brute Shot and later the Mauler, and Spiker) use magnetic coils to direct the usually unstable plasma.
While Covenant technology is far more advanced than humanity's, the Covenant seem to be ignorant of how precise or powerful their technology can be. Covenant slipspace engines, for example, are more precise and faster than a human engine, but the Covenant use their engines slower and less precisely than they can be used. This is because the Covenant don't bother to learn the principles behind the technology they use. Cortana used this to her advantage on the captured Covenant Flagship Ascendant Justice by reconfiguring the electromagnetic shaping coils to shape the plasma into a thin, sustained beam that, while very effective, consumes plasma at an astonishing rate. These plasma torpedoes are said to be a much more powerful torpedo, breaching a larger Covenant ship's shields and hull in one shot. These were seen in the book Halo: First Strike. Covenant starships use Repulsor Engines for propulsion in space, rather than traditional reaction drives presumably used by the UNSC. It seems that the Covenant also have a reasonable understanding of herbal medicines.
Only two Covenant A.I. have ever been found. One was a rampant AI that was stationed aboard the Ascendant Justice and destroyed by Cortana, while the other was The Seeker, sent to infiltrate UNSC systems and alert the Covenant to the location of Earth. Given their continued scarcity, and the Prophet's traditional ban on artificial intelligences, it is unlikely that they are anywhere near as common as UNSC A.I.'s. However, Cortana's copy references several A.I.'s being present in the Unyielding Hierophant system when the Spartans infiltrate the base.
Covenant architecture is known for its curved, organic and sophisticated looking style, likely for the aesthetic tastes of the higher-ranked castes. Constructed of distinctive purple or white metal, these colors are the main focus of Covenant design and distributed throughout their starships, vehicles, and weapons. The metal they use is unknown to the UNSC but is very strong and resilient.
Like other civilizations, the Covenant maintains a permanent armed forces branch, used to enforce order, conduct atmospheric and space combat operations, and generally project the Covenant's power onto others. Formerly led by the Elites prior to the Covenant Civil War, the Loyalist branches are now led by the Brutes. The military comprises of the Covenant Navy, the Covenant Army and the Special Warfare Group containing the Special Operations Division (SpecOps). It may be noted that even though their technology is far more superior than the Human's and their numbers are much larger as well, as ground warriors the Covenant are much less capable and are often defeated, at which point they usually retreat to space and glass the planet.
The Covenant boast a large arsenal of directed-energy weapons, largely plasma-based (though they also utilize lasers and particle beam weapons). Most of the Covenant's weaponry uses a form of magnetic channeling that humans can only match with the MAC cannon aboard starships and the Warthog mounted M68 Gauss Cannon. The plasma that is used in Covenant weapons is mined from deep inside the Unggoy planet Balaho. When it was depleted, the devices of cloning was already advanced, so they were capable of making millions of tons of plasma in a single day.
Plasma-based weaponry is extremely effective against the Covenant's own energy shields. The amount of shots that can be fired tends to be very high, but power cannot be recharged without a recharge station nearby, and firing many shots in a short duration can cause the weapon to overheat, which reduces energy efficiency as well as forcing a temporary cooling period in which the weapon cannot be fired. Once the Plasma reserves are used up, the weapon is useless. As is evidenced in some of the game files, recharging is possible, although this technology cannot be used by the Master Chief or the Arbiter in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, or Halo 3.
With the introduction of the Brutes as the major military caste within the Covenant, their weaponry has found widespread use. Utilizing crude projectile-like metal spikes in place of plasma, human-based hand-held shotgun-like "Maulers", explosive grenade-like launchers, and sharp blades, they are more primitive, yet brutal - fitting, considering the nature of their creators, the Brutes.
There are three known types of dedicated melee weaponry used by the Covenant. The first, and certainly most well known, is the energy sword, used solely by the Elites. Creating a solid blade of superheated plasma, it has both ceremonial and martial value to the Sangheili warriors, and its possession is closely monitored. Secondly is the Gravity Hammer, used by Jiralhanae, which seems to be the cultural equivalent to the sword. But rather than using a blade of plasma, it can generate a gravitational field, doing devastating damage. The third has not yet been seen in a game, but is used by Unggoy and Kig-Yar – an Energy Cutlass, a crystal similar to those fired by the Needler, used in melee combat, capable of embedding in a target and exploding. The Jiralhanae Brute Shot, Mauler and the Spiker are extremely capable in melee combat.
Covenant Vehicles use advanced anti-gravity technology for propulsion, as well as utilizing Plasma Cannons and fuel rods as offensive weaponry and are mainly being constructed out of a high-strength purple metal. Though often faster than their UNSC counterparts, Covenant vehicles are more unstable over uneven terrain where the sudden changes affects its handling. All Covenant vehicles are made from a purple or dark blue type of metal (excluding Brute vehicles), said to be much more advanced than any alloy known to Humans, and all Covenant vehicles are nicknamed after some kind of supernatural entity by the UNSC, except for Scarabs and Locusts. The reason behind this form of naming is not known. Recently, Brute vehicles and technology have been incorporated into the Covenant's arsenal. Though more primitive, they serve the Brutes' need for power. Brute vehicles are not named after spiritual entities, and rather than being a series of Covenant vehicles are regarded as native Jiralhanae technology.
|Ground and Air Vehicles of the Covenant|
|Light Combat Units||Ghost • Spectre • Chopper|
|Armored Units||Prowler • Shadow • Wraith • Anti-Air Wraith • Honor Guard Wraith|
|Walkers||Locust • Scarab|
|Transport Aircraft||Spirit • Phantom|
|Combat Aircraft||Banshee • Vampire • Seraph|
Oth Sonin System
Prophet Homeworld - Currently Unknown
Y'Deio System (HD 69830)
Decided Heart- Sangheili Base planet
Weeping Shadows of Sorrow- Covenant Penitentiary world
|Covenant Starship Length Comparison
|Covenant Supercarrier||5,354 metres (17,570 ft)|
|Covenant Assault Carrier||5,346 metres (17,540 ft)|
|Reverence-class Cruiser||3,000 metres (9,800 ft)|
|Covenant Battleship||2,000 metres (6,600 ft)|
|Covenant Carrier||1,455 metres (4,770 ft)|
|CCS-class Battlecruiser||1,782.2 metres (5,847 ft)|
|Covenant Destroyer||1,500 metres (4,900 ft)|
|Covenant Carrier||1,455 metres (4,770 ft)|
|Covenant Frigate||1,000 metres (3,300 ft)|
|Covenant Stealth Corvette||485 metres (1,590 ft)|
|Covenant Light Cruiser||300 metres (980 ft)|
|Seraph-class Starfighter||27.8 metres (91 ft)|