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 The Covenant

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PostSubject: The Covenant   Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:03 pm

The Covenant is a religiously Zealous Hegemony of multiple alien species, controlling a 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.

Background
The name "Covenant" was taken from the binding pact that forged the peace between the Elites and Prophets. They are combined forces of alien races. 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, laid their arms aside and conceded defeat, also doing away with a hatred towards the Prophets. 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. These ideas would be put into the Covenant's founding document, the Writ of Union.

At first, the Covenant were 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. The Covenant control 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 left in charge of the military. The Covenant was a theocracy, based on prophecies about the Sacred rings and The Great Journey.


Society

The Government
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. In addition to the High Council, there are three other Councils: the Council of Concordance, the Council of Deed and Doctrine and the Council of Masters.

Numerous Ministries exist within the Covenant government as well, each of which possesses a single role.


Species
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.

Prophets
As the highest caste, it's the Prophets who lead the Covenant and exert complete control over 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 powers over the Covenant. The fact that the Covenant are religious zealots makes it all the more easy to control them. They are addressed as "Hierarchs", "Noble Hierarchs" or "Holy Ones" 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 unbeknownst to them it would lead them to their death if the Halos were activated. They are called San 'Shyuum in the Covenant language. The most recent and final Hierarchs were Regret, Mercy and, Truth. Prophets will abandon their allies at any moment, as they regard their own self preservation over everything else.

Brutes
Brutes are one of the new 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, and use a number of weapons and vehicles based upon their pre-Covenant technology. As opposed to standard Brute combat, Brutes sometimes will go "berserk", and will try to and usually kill anyone or anything in its path. Brutes have their own ranks going up to War Chieftains. The Brutes always work in packs of 3-8 when possible. They have a hairy, ape-like appearance with rough, rhino-like skin and a highly resilient body. They are called Jiralhanae in the Covenant language. It was said that the brutes were doing something to the Grunts to make them more resilient and stop them running away, they were probably putting something in the methane the Grunts breathe or the Brutes were giving them threats.

Elites
Elites served as the military leaders for the Covenant. While Prophets often had the last say, it was the Elites who organized military campaigns and naval engagements. Ship Masters commanded ships, Fleet Masters commanded fleets, and Field Masters commanded the vast armies. Elites maintained the military structure of the Covenant and ensured the Prophets' orders, as well as their own, were carried out. They also had a diverse rank structure which is based off how many foes an Elite had killed. Elites 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. They are called Sangheili in the Covenant language. An "ee" at the end of an Elite name, such as "'Notodee," would signify that that Elite is a part of the Covenant military.

Hunters
Hunters are actually an assemblage of worm-like entities called Mgalekgolo that create a communal, armor plated form. In this form, they are known as Lekgolo. 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. 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. 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.

Drones
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. Their ability to fight on the wing makes them an excellent strategic weapon against ground-based opponents. Unlike most other Covenant race, 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.

Jackals
Due to their superior senses, 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. They are called Kig-yar in Covenant language.

Grunts
Grunts are 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 backs full of the methane to live. If their leader is killed, Grunts will run away or they may go Kamikaze, charging at you and yelling gibberish, 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. They have learned many Human languages from intercepting transmissions between Human vessels, a fact that they apparently take great pride in. Their speech is high and squeaky, they find nothing wrong with this, but most other races find it comical.

Engineers
In military terms, they are the lowest as they are a non-militant race. They are needed to maintain the Covenant war machines and will only converse with the Prophets (also Grunts who learn their language). This, however, indicates Engineers are very high in the caste system, probably because the Covenant are aware of how much they are needed and that the Engineer's grasp on Covenant and foreign technology, constantly examining or repairing any nearby technology regardless of affiliation or taking things apart and then reassembling them either to original shape or something new. Most of the Covenant's technology is either scavenged or stolen. It is believed that the engineers helped the Covenant to understand how to use the technology effectively. Engineers are actually an artificial species created by the Forerunners, which could contribute to their high status. They are called Huragok in the Forerunner and Covenant language.


Religion and Culture
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. 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.
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