The Covenant are a religious alliance initially founded between the Elites (Sangheili) and the Prophets. Formerly at war
with one another, the discovery of Forerunner technology solidified a union whereby the Elites would provide protection for
the Prophets as they searched for the means by which the god-like Forerunner transcended this reality and found their "salvation".
(The exact nature of the Covenant Gods themselves is unknown.) On the way, they have converted (read: subjugated) at least
seven, though possibly more, species. These races include, but may or may not be limited to: Grunts (Unggoy), Jackals (Kig-yar),
Drones (Yanme'e), Hunters (Lekgolo), Brutes (Jiralhanae), Engineers (Huragok; from the novels), and Drinol Beasts (possibly
called the Sharquoi; seen only in concept art).
The Covenant have a relatively high level of technology, mainly accrued from excavated Forerunner installations. The seat
of their power, and the only homeworld they seem to have, is the planetoid High Charity, a tremendous semi-spherical habitat
and battle station dozens of kilometers across, powered at its center by an actual Forerunner vessel. Most of their weapons
are plasma-based, with the exception of their fuel-rod, particle beam, and needle ordnance. Their starships are much faster
than Human vessels, and are capable of pinpoint maneuvering while in FTL travel, as is made explicitly clear several times
in The Fall of Reach, when Covenant ships materialize right in the middle of a Human battlegroup. Their technological feats
seem coupled with what can only be described as a reverent ignorance; they seem unable, unwilling, and vehemently against
attempts (by Covenant or Human agents) to improve upon any Forerunner relics they come to acquire. To do so would be blasphemy.However,
this alliance is far from secure. The Covenant ranks have been rife with unrest, and even assassinations within recent years.
With the exception of the two founding races, all others have joined the Covenant through force and now exist as part of the
caste system with strict rules guiding their upbringing and socialization to prevent any true unity among the conquered peoples.
In the times of trouble and insurrection that have inevitably occurred, a chosen Elite has risen to become the Arbiter, "The
Will of the Prophets", and has inevitably reestablished the peace.Even still, though their hatred for those filthy primates
called Humans is both harsh and powerful, there remains some confusion over their precise transgression the Human race has
inflicted against the Gods. The details of this Holy War appear to be known only by the Prophets; there is confusion among
the Elites as to why the Humans, having proven there tenacity and worth in battle countless times, have not been offered the
sanctuary of the Covenant alongside the others. From where this hatred springs, how it relates to the Covenant's "Great
Journey", and more importantly, how Man may manage to survive them both, has yet to be discovered.
Halo, according to Cortana and the Covenant databanks, holds some deep religious power over the Covenant. They have searched
for these seven rings for some time, and it is through them, they believe, their Great Journey is to be accomplished. Needless
to say, they are profoundly important to them; so much so that they avoid firing upon the Pillar of Autumn for risk of striking
Halo 04. Upon the Human's arrival at Halo 04, the Covenant are already on the ring's surface, following course and scouring
the ring for technology they can adapt to their own purposes. What is odd is the discovery of the Flood. They were come across
and "released" (whether intentionally or not is unknown) by the Covenant; Human tinkering merely made the problem
worse. While terrifying, the Flood is not entirely unexpected to the Covenant. It seems that they have encountered the Flood
before, and may have quite a history with them.Spurned by the heresy of Halo 04's destruction, the Covenant juggernaut resumed
their search for the other rings and installations, unwittingly stumbling upon Earth in the process. Not knowing that it was
the Human homeworld, but only that it contained some Forerunner relic, the small fleet led by the impetuous Prophet of Regret
was repelled relatively easily, but not before a distress signal could be sent to the rest of the armada. By following in
the wake of his retreat, yet another ring was discovered, and it became apparent that the Great Journey so desperately sought
by the Covenant hierarchs was nothing more than the activation of the Halo network; their Journey would not bring salvation,
As these events unfolded, the ignorant ambition of the Brutes, coupled with some shadowy need of the Prophets to remove
the Elites, spilled over into bloodshed. What began with the replacement of the Elite Honour Guard with Brutes (under mysterious
circumstances) ended with the murder of the Elite Council members and total civil war. Sides have been drawn, with the religiously
disillusioned Elites, Grunts, and Hunters at odds against the Prophets, Brutes, Jackals, and Drones.Whether this conflict
will benefit Humanity as they continue to struggle against the still overwhelming Covenant armada at Earth remains to be seen.
In times of crisis, an Elite warrior is chosen to don the ancient armour, and assume the role of the Arbiter, "The
Will of the Prophets". The nature of the Arbiter's challenges (to quell threats and insurrections) guarantee his death,
but also his internment in the hallowed Mausoleum to sleep with the other Blessed.
And so, the Fleet Commander of the armada at Halo 04 was condemned to death for heresy, having failed at his charge and
allowing the Sacred Ring to be destroyed. His appeals on the grounds of the unpredictable nature of "The Demon"
(Master Chief) and of the struggles encountered with the release of the parasite (The Flood) were ignored. Following his public
torture, he was brought before Truth and Mercy and allowed the chance to redeem himself in concert with his execution. He
would become the Arbiter in order to quell a band of Heretics, but he would surely die in the process; the Council would have
their corpse. And yet, he survived time and time again.
Following the betrayal of the Elites, the Arbiter remained in shock and disbelief that the Prophets would turn on them
and that the Great Journey was a lie. Even his introduction to the Master Chief in the presence of Gravemind was not enough.
But as he continueed his quest for revenge, the pieces fell into place. In the end, only an alliance with Johnson and Miranda
allowed him the opportunity both to "stop the key from turning" and avenge his murdered comrades.
The lowest depths of the Earth, the realm of the dead, and in our case, the Chieftain of the Brutes. The Brutes are the
most recent amalgamation into the Covenant, and appear to be one of its most zealous members. Their affinity for violence,
their "brute" strength, and their unquestionable dedication to the Prophets have made them the favored race of the
Hierarchs. While Truth may hide some motive for replacing the Elites, Tartarus and his company are lead by a pure desire to
usurp the Elites and become the Prophet's honoured escort on the Great Journey. Tartarus schemed to acquire power and a place
for himself in this "salvation", but even his mighty hammer, the "Fist of Rukt", could not deliver him;
at his death at the hands of the Arbiter, he remained only a blind pawn.
Once locked in a bitter war with the Elites, the discovery of Forerunner technology quelled hostilities long enough to
form a pact where the Elites would protect the Prophets and facilitate the scourging of the galaxy in a joint attempt to discover
the mode of the Forerunner's ascension from physical reality (what they refer to as The Great Journey). Though formed through
mutual agreement and governed by a Council of both races, the three Prophets known as the Hierarchs ultimately control all
aspects of the Covenant's government, military, and theology. Whether their claim to have evolved on a planet laden with Forerunner
tech or their intrinsic skill at manipulation has secured this place as the Covenant priest-leaders is not fully known. Regardless,
the Prophets are by far the most subtle and mysterious of the Covenant races.
Though the Covenant is driven by religious zeal, not all have ascribed to it. Insurrections and rebellions have happened
often throughout the Covenant's long history: the Hunter problem and the Grunt Rebellion are just a couple that we know of.The
most recent organization against the powers that be saw Elites and Grunts rallying behind another Elite known only as the
Heretic Leader. Further encouraged by information volunteered by the rescued 343 Guilty Spark, the Heretics set up their base
on a Forerunner station and lab orbiting in the atmosphere of Threshold (that predates Halo 04 by several hundred years).
Though it is uncertain how long his movement had been going on, it is from this station that he intended to spread his message.
Whether the release of the Flood on the orbital platform was accidental or merely part of his plan to "make [the Elites]
see" is unknown. His death seems unnecessary now, and we can only hope that his onetime followers will hold no grudge
against the Arbiter, and rally behind the Elites left over from the now fractured Covenant.
Spec-Ops Leader "Half-Jaw"
Somber and professional, this high-ranking Spec-Ops Elite (nicknamed "Half-Jaw") leads his troops into battle
with a rare care and sensibility. He has been through a great deal, from quelling heresies to repeated skirmishes with the
Flood, but will find his greatest challenge yet as he fights against the betrayal and attempted annihilation of his race by
the Prophets and Brutes.