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|“||Creatures of the Covenant, the path is broad, and we shall walk it side by side.||„|
|~ The Prophet of Truth, one of the leaders of the Covenant Empire.|
The Covenant Empire, also known simply as the "Covenant", are a religious alien empire who worship the Forerunners as gods, using their technology to subjugate the galaxy to their liking.
Due to their influence and role, they serve as the main antagonistic faction of the Halo franchise. They are one of the two main antagonistic factions (alongside The Flood) of the original Halo trilogy, and a posthumous antagonistic faction in the Reclaimer Saga.
They are a theocratic military alliance of multiple alien races that seek to activate the titular "Halo" space stations, believing that they will send them on a "Great Journey" into godhood, when in reality they were intended to be a last-resort defense against The Flood and would destroy all life in the galaxy if successfully used. They worship the ancient "Forerunner" race, which created the Halos, but are oblivious to the true purposes of their creations even when Forerunner robots such as 343 Guilty Spark are still around who would gladly inform them.
They are at war with humanity because humans are actually the descendants of the Forerunners, and since the Covenant religion states that all the Forerunners went on the Great Journey and ascended to a higher plane of existence, this means that their prophecy is wrong and the leaders of the Covenant want to exterminate humanity so the other Covenant will never find out about this and cause the organization to fall apart.
One major practice of the Covenant is the orbital bombardment of enemy planets by their larger spaceships, known as "Glassing", which has an effect similar to a nuclear holocaust. This most notably happened to the planet Reach, which fell shortly before the first Halo game and was shown in the prequel game Halo: Reach.
The Covenant is comprised of at least 8 different alien races:
- Elites/Sangheili: The most skilled warriors of the Covenant, the Elites themselves are grey humanoid creatures with strange squid-like mouths, but they wear a variety of elaborate armor that always covers their bodies. They have a highly sophisticated culture and ranking system, and served as the highest-ranking zealots of the Covenant army. That is, until Halo 2, where an Elite named the Arbiter learns the truth about the Halo rings and the Prophets and leads his race away from the Covenant, joining the humans and later killing the Prophet of Truth personally. They only appear as allies in Halo 3.
- Grunts/Unggoy: The lowest and weakest of all the Covenant, these small creatures are identified by the large breathing apparatus they wear on their backs to survive in human environments, which resemble a shell. They have squeaky, high-pitched voices and their lines often provide comic relief during gameplay. They are usually deployed in as cannon fodder and even the highest Grunts fall under the leadership of the lowest Elites and Brutes.
- Jackals/Kig-Yar: Skinny orange bird-like creatures with very long heads who are relatively low in the Covenant hierarchy and usually serve as "scouts" and "snipers" in military operations. They usually carry round energy shields on their arms and often are trained as snipers. In Halo: Reach, a new variation of the species called Skirmishers are introduced, which are stronger and black in color as well as more agile and dangerous.
- Hunters/Mgalekgolo: Large blue mechanical monsters made up of a colony of small worm-like creatures called Lekgolo. They always fight in pairs. Hunters appear in all Halo games. The Hunters have shields and assault cannons, and are quite high in the Covenant hierarchy.
- Brutes/Jiralhanae: Hairy, barbaric, ape-like humanoids with incredible physical strength and powerful weaponry. They are led by Chieftains who wield powerful melee weapons called Gravity Hammers. Brutes are introduced in Halo 2, where they serve as the main enemies of the Arbiter after he turns good, become the personal bodyguards of the Prophets during the game's storyline and replace the Elites as the main enemies in Halo 3.
- Drones/Yanme'e: Relatively small flying insect creatures that rarely appear in battle and are always found in large groups when they do. Drone packs usually serve as isolated filler sequences that help break up the action during lengthier levels. Introduced in Halo 2. They willingly joined the Covenant by request, as a reward, the Drones were placed higher than the Grunts and Jackals. They were originally engineers of the Covenant, but become air units within the military when the Forerunner Engineers joined.
- Engineers/Huragok: Floating slug-like creatures that were actually created by the Forerunner and now serve the Covenant as slaves. A peaceful and simple race, they do not directly participate in combat and usually just provide psychic shields for other Covenant units, but are sometimes used as suicide bombers. Engineers were created for the original Halo: Combat Evolved but were cut from the game, and later appeared in the tie-in novels before being featured in the spinoff game Halo Wars and then in the Bungie-developed Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach. Since the Prophets and high ranking individuals speak to these creatures, they are very high in the hierarchy even though they serve as slaves.
- Prophets/San'Shyuum: The leaders of the Covenant religion, the Prophets are frail, old creatures who use floating chairs to move around. They are very few in number, and there are three main Prophets: The Prophet of Truth, the Prophet of Regret and the Prophet of Mercy. Ironically, all 3 of their personalities are actually the opposite of their names. Only one prophet is actually fought in the entire Halo series: The Prophet of Regret in Halo 2.
Ranks, Titles and Positions
- Hierarch: Hierarchs serve as the leaders of the Covenant's High Council.
- Lesser: Representatives of the High Council.
- Minister: Management of the Covenant's government ministry.
- Vice Minister: Assist Ministers.
- Senior Staffer: Assist Ministers and Vice Ministers.
- Junior Staffer: Entry level Ministry workers.
- Philologist: Leader of the Ascetic priests who tends to the Oracle on High Charity.
- Cleric: Performers of religious and medincinal duties.
- Vice Cleric: Subordinates of Clerics.
- Ultra: Field Officers to their comrades and wear distinctive white-lilac or silver armor. While they have some authority over lesser-ranked Grunts, they have no control over other Covenant members except for Jackals.
- Spec Ops: Experienced and specially-chosen, usually commanded by Spec Ops Elites, they are given jet-black armor. They are part of the Covenant Special Operations division of the Covenant Special Warfare Group. They are able to use Active Camouflage and are extremly skilled in combat compared to the lower-ranking Grunts.
- Heavy: Being similiar to the rank of Corporal, these specialized Grunts wear green colored armor and are often deployed for defensive actions. Their primary purposes are to give heavy support for their group and their most common weapons are Fuel Rod Guns.
- Unggoy Major: Similiar to the rank of Lance Corporal, they are more experienced than Minors, and wear crimson/red colored armor. They command several Minors and are slightly more skilled in combat and courageous.
- Unggoy Minor: The Covenant equivalent to a Private, they wear orange colored armor and are often the least dangerous.
- Shipmaster: Commanders of Covenant ships.
- Sniper: Snipers are the Covenant's foremost long-ranged combatents. They wield weapons like Beam Rifles, Needle Rifles, Focus Rifles and Carbines to snipe enemies with.
- Major: Majors are more experienced Jackals and are issued stronger point-defense gauntlets which can be colored Gold, Red and Purple.
- Minor: These are the lowest ranked Jackals and are armed with standard strength. They can have point-defense gauntlets colored Green and Blue.
- Champion: Champions are a specialized group of shock troopers comprising of more heavily built Kig-Yar, deployed on the ground for their viscousness and fierce tactics. They appear as leaders, not being specialists nor infantry.
- Commando: Members of this rank wear green armor and occasionally use holograms.
- Murmillo: Champions are a specialized group of shock troopers comprising of more heavily built Kig-Yar, deployed on the ground for their viscousness and fierce tactics. They appear as leaders, not being specialists nor infantry.
- Major: Majors have reddish brown armor.
- Minor: Minors are the lowest.
- Regular: Basic Infantry
- Gold: Hunter Officers
- Ultra: Higher-ranked Officers
- Major: Commanders of Minor Drones.
- Minor: Lowest of the Drones.
- Chieftain of the Brutes : The leader of the Brutes overall, Tartarus was the last known person to hold this position.
- Brute War Chieftain: The second highest rank in Brute social and military hierarchy, they command packs of Brute Stalkers and serve as commanding officers aboard Scarab. They wield heavy ranged weapons to eliminate foes.
- Chieftain: The third highest rank a Brute can achieve, Chieftains command packs and tend to lead packs comprised of half-a-dozen or more Brutes as well as several lower caste species.
- Brute Captain Major: Brute Captain Majors are the second highest ranking Captains in the Covenant military and the fifth highest rank overall, they wear in golden power armor and lead lances of Grunts and Jackals.
- Captain: A rank equivalent to UNSC Land Captains, Brute Captains lead groups of lesser Brutes, Grunts and Jackals into battle. Their rank is on the same level as an Elite Ultra.
- Brute Honor Guard: The replacement of Elites in the Covenant Loyalists, the serve as the protectors of the Hierarchs (Truth and Mercy) along with the rest of the High Council and high ranking officials such as Tartarus. They work in pairs or packs consisting of two or three guardsmen.
- Bodyguard:: Resembling a Brute Captain, they are responsible for guarding their pack's Chieftain and enforcing trible law and/or military law. They typically appear in groups of two to four.
- Stalker: Secret police of the Covenant, Brute counterparts to Stealth Elites.
- Jumper: Brute counterparts to Elite Rangers.
- Ultra: Leaders of lesser Covenant troops.
- Major: Leaders of Covenant Lances.
- Minor: The lowest ranked Brutes, they are the most common and inexperienced. They are the most common enemies in the Halo 3 campaign.
- Arbiter: Bestowed upon an Elite by the Hierarchs during a time of great need. It is said that the Arbiters appear to be the will of the Hierarchs as well as their blade. Arbiters are sent on various important missions such as, taming the Hunters, eliminating the Grunt rebellion, obtaining the Index, assassinating the Heretic Leader alongside his followers and re-activating a Forerunner fleet. Thel 'Vadam is the current holder of this rank.
- Honor Guard Ultra:
- Honor Guard: Hand picked, they serve as the guards of the Covenant High Council, mainly the Prophet Hierarchs. They typically hold Energy Staves but fight with Plasma Rifles, Covenant Carbines and Energy Swords. This position was later taken away from the Elites given to the Brutes as punishment for failing to prevent the murder of the Prophet of Regret.
- Field Marshall: Besides commanding large scale operations, Field Marshals are known to lead small strike teams of Zealot Officers into battle as well as commanding Covenant Task Forces.
- Zealot: High Commanders in the Covenant Empire, there are four sub-ranks: Field Marshal, Field Master, Shipmaster and Fleet Master.
- General:The highest ranking infantry soldiers for the Sangheili race within the Covenant Empire. They lead hundreds and even thousands into battle. Multiple Generals will often coordinate with each other during large-scale campaigns. They typically use Heavy Weapons but sometimes wield Energy Swords.
- Major: Officers who command groups of Minors as well as lesser races in ground combat situations. Majors can also take on the role as "second master" which allows them to become a Sangheili Shipmasters second in command of their ship. They appear to be equivalent to UNSC Lieutenants.
- Sangheili Minor: The lowest of all Sangheili soldiers. Despite being common and inexperienced they outrank the highest position of many alien races. They often seen leading squads of Grunts. Their armor is blue and have the weakest overshields of all Elite warriors.
- In a Biblical reference, the Ark of the Covenant represented the will of God, in connection with the quote: "Your destruction is the will of the Gods...and we are their instrument!". This references the Covenant's belief that they carry through the will of their Gods, the Forerunners.
- 343 Guilty Spark often refers to the Covenant as "meddlers" due to their constant disregard for containment protocols, and the misinterpretation of Forerunner language and technology.
- The Covenant have several similarities to the Hierarchy from Universe at War. For example, the Hierarchy leader, Kamal Re'x, is eerily similar to the Prophet of Truth, saying things of comparison: (Kamal): "The universe does not abide by weakness, and we are its ambassadors" (Truth): "Your destruction is the will of the Gods...and we are their instrument.".
- Members of the UNSC armed forces will often refer to the Covenant member species as a whole as "bugs" or "Covies". This can be heard in the quotes "Covie scum." and "The only good bug is a dead bug."
- The latter quote is taken from Starship Troopers and Aliens.
- Early concepts of the Sangheli resemble the Xenomorphs from the Alien film series, as with many other things such as Pelicans and Sgt. Avery Johnson.
- The Covenant is similar to the Universal Church of Truth as both are intergalactic religious empires.