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The Sangheili (also known as Elites) are a saurian species of fierce, proud, strong, agile and Intelligent warriors, as well as being skilled combat tacticians. Due to their skill in combat, the Elites have became the backbone of the Covenant military for almost entirety of its existence. They had a very strong rivalry with the Jiralhanae (Brutes).
The Sangheili are promoted to their next rank based on their skills, abilities and the number of casualties they inflict upon their enemy. This is usually measured in scalps. A high-ranking Elite may have personally massacred hundreds and thousands of enemies through the military career. The armor of Elites becomes more complex when they are promoted and the armor's color changes such as blue, red and gold.
All who walk the blessed path will find salvation...even in death.
~ Minor Mantra
The physically and pragmatically least experienced warriors of the Sangheili, having only the standard issue weaponry and the lowest grade of energy shielding. Since the Sangheili are high up in the Covenant; even Elite Minors are higher than the highest-ranking Grunts, Jackals and Drones. They are roughly equivalent to UNSC Marine Sergeants. When a Minor is killed, his subordinates will flee from their enemy. When a Minor is neither promoted nor killed during their first campaign, they will commit suicide to regain their lost honor. They are mainly distinguished through wearing blue-colored armor.
Station and salvation both command a heavy price.
~ Major Mantra
Medium-low ranked warriors in the Covenant military. They command Minor Elites and lower castes such as Grunts and Jackals. In addition to commanding ground forces, Majors can also occupy the position "second master" on a Starship, effectively acting as the Shipmaster's second in command. Majors commonly wear bright red or orange armor and are more agile than Elite Minors.
On the blood of our fathers. On the blood of our sons. We swore to uphold the Covenant!
~ Ultra Mantra
Officers who command specific operations and are direct subordinates to Zealots. Ultra Elites gain much more stronger shielding and gain more heavy and powerful weaponry such as Concussion Rifles, Energy Swords, Fuel Rod Cannons and Plasma Launchers. They are deployed on high-priority missions such as the invasion on Reach and defending the Scarab on New Mombasa.
Victory is secured, not from the throne, but from the front lines.
~ General Mantra
The highest ranking infantry soldiers for the Sangheili race within the Covenant Empire. Each General is charged with leading hundreds and sometimes thousands of soldiers into battle. They often fight on the front lines and personally lead their soldiers. Generals are usually seen overseeing an important tactical location or leading large groups of Covenant soldiers into battle. The weapons they commonly wield are either Concussion Rifles, Plasma Launchers, or Fuel Rod Cannons in which they fire with deadly force. They report directly to a Field Marshal or even sometimes a Supreme Commander.
Out of darkness, these blades will light our way.
~ SpecOps mantra
Special Operations Elites are members of the Covenant Special Operations branch of the Covenant Special Warfare Group. Elites of this rank are extremely skilled warriors and are sent in to accomplish some of the most dangerous and difficult missions. They are similar to Stealth Elites, as they both possess Active camouflage technology.
Glory and honor guide our ascension.
~ Ranger mantra
Elite Rangers are primarily deployed for fighting in zero or low-gravity conditions, but can also be used in normal gravity environments. When fighting planetside Rangers are often used as an extremely mobile infantry force, performing unconventional warfare and specialized reconnaissance missions, or can even augment existing combat teams.
I still have nightmares about the Stealth Elites...they would come out of nowhere. You had to look very, very closely; you could see the air move just before they jump you. But then it was usually already too late...
~ Pvt. Roger Alfarsi
Stealth Elites wield active camouflage that allows them to be temporarily invisible. The Stealth Elite corps operates standard battlefield units who participate in all major ground-side operations, while SpecOps Elites work independently in small teams.
The protectors of the Covenant High Council. They are the most skilled Elites and are hand picked for the duty of guarding the prophets. Their armor is mainly distinuished by a red color that is detailed with ceremonial ornaments. They mainly wield Energy Staves throughout cutscenes but during gameplay they will not use Staves and instead fight with Plasma Rifles, Covenant Carbines and Energy Swords.
Honor Guard Ultra
The true devotee honors our name with actions, not words.
~ Zealot mantra
High Commanders in the Covenant Empire who lead one or several ships. Zealots are significantly more challenging to fight than other Elites. Zealot squads are tasked with the location and analysis of any information which might lead to a reliquary site. Once located they are then charged with its recovery, typically through apostolic intervention by force, though no measure is considered too extreme.
With this sacrament of blood we journey into the Divine Beyond.
~ Field Marshal mantra
Despite falling under the Zealot Class,they outrank regular Zealots. Field Marshals command large scale operations and lead small strike teams of Zealot Officers into battle. They also command Covenant Task Forces.
The Taming of the Hunters, the Grunt Rebellion. Were it not for the Arbiters, the Covenant would have broken long ago.
~ Prophet of Mercy
Bestowed upon an Elite by the Prophet Hierarchs during a time of great need. Arbiter is possibly the highest known title for an Elite to achieve. It is said that the Arbiters appear to be the will of the Hierarchs as well as their blade. The current Arbiter is Thel 'Vadam.
"According to our station! All without exception!"
"Even to our dying breath!"
"We shall grind them into dust!"
"Leader, there is no doubt: the storm will strike the facility!"
"Engage Active Camouflage! Reveal yourselves only after the Arbiter has joined the battle with the enemy!"
"You may wish to do the same, Arbiter, but take heed, your armor system isn't as new as ours. Your camouflage won't last forever."
"Sentinels, the holy warriors of the Sacred Rings. Why have they sided with the Heretics?"
"Arbiter, clear the hangar and open this door, so I may drop the second Lance!"
"Hold position, I am making my approach."
"The Heretics have weapon emplacements all over the facility. We'll take them out, one by one, until we find the Heretic Leader."
"That was the last of them...but there's more ahead!"
"By the Rings. What is that?"
"It's moved on. Quickly, before it returns, lets find the Heretic Leader and finish him off!"
"What happened here?"
"Close your jaws, or I shall bind them shut!"
"Heretic fools! What have they done?"
"This place is filled with the parasite, not even Heretics deserves this!"
"We should have brought weapons to burn these bodies. Every one is a potential vessel for the Flood!"
"Leader, the storm is about to hit! We cannot maintain our position!"
"May our Lords guide you."
"We shall not forget your sacrifice."
"Forerunners be praised! The Arbiter! This Quarantine Zone has been compromised! We must do whatever can we can against the Flood! Our Commander has landed further in! Let us join him!"
"The Flood is upon us!"
"Enforcers, to the vehicles, we'll need their heavy guns. Onward to the Sacred Icon!"
"What? The Paratise controls our vehicles? No matter, they will die all the same."
"They have a Wraith, the filthy muck."
"Commander, we have found a Human Vehicle!"
"Forward the Icon! The Parasites ranks swell as we draw nearer to the Library. Steel your nerves, we're not turning back."