The English word "Covenant" means "a binding agreement." This name is used because of the "binding Covenant" formed between the Prophets and the Elites when the Elites promised to defend the Prophets as they searched for the Halos. Although the Engineers are sometimes thought of as one of the founding species, as far as anyone can tell, they were simply already allied with the Prophets, as they too seemed to revere the Forerunner. As the Covenant Empire grew over the millennia, more species were enslaved to their cause, although, up until the Covenant Civil War, none of them were quite as important to the Prophets as the Elites were.
At first, the Covenant were mostly held together by a need to survive, but, as their society advanced, so did their technology, culture, and religion. Now the Covenant control a large part of the Orion arm of the Milky Way galaxy, and their society is a complicated caste system, with the Prophets still on top, governing the Covenant along with the Elites. The Covenant is a theocracy, based on a Prophecy about the Sacred Rings and the Great Journey. The actual context of this Prophecy is unknown, but the Prophets' faith in it is the reason for their yearning desire to activate the Halos, to "all who are worthy along the path to salvation!"
The Covenant is governed by the High Council, which is led by three High Prophets and consists of lesser Prophets and Elites. However, at the start of the Covenant Civil War, the Prophets began to replace to Elites with Brutes. This civil war started after the Master Chief assassinated the Prophet of Regret, with the Exchange of Hats. Truth and Mercy decided that the Elites were unable to protect the Prophets, and needed to be replaced by the Brutes.
Many of the alien races conquered by the Covenant are conscripted into, or gradually become part of, the alliance. It is uncertain why the Prophets have purposefully chosen to ignore this pattern concerning humans, and instead attempt genocide on Humanity. The reason they give is that the humans blocked their access to sacred sites; however, a more probable reason for this is that the Prophets view humanity as a threat to their established authority.
Covenant society uses a caste system with the following races (names are rough translations by the UNSC):
- Prophets As the highest caste, it is the Prophets who lead the Covenant. Their higher understanding of the Forerunner gives them great egos and religious powers over the Covenant. The fact that the Covenant are religious zealots makes it all the more easy to control them. The only known word for them in the Covenant Language is Prophet.
- (Jiralhanae) Brutes are the only race that has obtained equal status to that of one of the founding “clients” of the Covenant pact, the Elites. Their strength can match and even surpass that of Elites. They have an incredible natural resilience to damage that makes up for their lack of Energy Shields, and use a weapon known as the Brute Shot. They are equal to Elites in battle and rank. After the Elites were replaced for failing to protect High Prophet of Regret from the Master Chief, they took over their role as personal bodyguards of the Prophets. They have a hairy, ape-like appearance. They are called Jiralhanae in the Covenant language.
- (Sangheili) Elites serve as the military leaders for the Covenant. While Prophets often have the last say, it is the Elites who organize military campaigns and naval engagements. Ship Masters command the mighty space fleets; Field Masters command the vast armies. Elites maintain the military structure of the Covenant and ensure the Prophets' orders, as well as their own, are carried out. Elites are a much needed species for the Covenant to function, they are the only caste who can build and command the star ships and have the military know-how to ensure successful victories and keep the lesser Covenant species in order. They are called Sangheili in the Covenant language.
- (Lekgolo) Hunters work hard in their role as Covenant muscle, and never disobey orders. Hunters are dismissive and contemptuous of their foes, and in fact, they will only associate with Elites, recognizing and respecting the similar warrior mentality. Hunters are deployed almost like heavy munitions. Due to their 12 foot height, extremely strong armor and strength, and their arm mounted Fuel Rod Gun, other Covenant will often clear the area of deployment, since Hunters are unconcerned with collateral damage, they may even purposely kill the lesser castes, simply for “getting in the way”. They are called Lekgolo in the Covenant Language.
- (Yanme'e) Drones are another race of the Covenant. Their physique is weak but they make up for it in their large numbers. They also have the ability to fly for short amounts of time, using wings concealed within their backs under folds of skin. They are very insect-like. The Covenant generally imploy them in zero-gravity operations, where they can fly for indefinite amounts of time, or in vacuum. This suggests that, unlike all other Covenant races, the Drones do not require an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. They are called Yanme'e in the Covenant language.
- (Kig-Yar) Jackals are the scouts of the Covenant, with their superior senses. They are 5'8" tall and carry a relatively weak, but nonetheless effective Jackal Personal Arm Shield and Plasma Pistol or a single Beam Rifle. Their appearance is bird-like. They are called Kig-yar in the Covenant language.
- (Unggoy) Grunts are the workhorses of the Covenant, as the name implies. Despite their obvious cowardice and stupidity, they are extremely large in 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 gas. They fight well in Shade plasma turrets and use the Plasma Pistol and Needler, sometimes wielding the Fuel Rod Gun as well. They are called Unggoy in the Covenant language.
- (Huragok) Engineers don't really fit in with the Covenant caste system. In military terms, they are the lowest as they are a non-militant race. They are needed to maintain the Covenant war machine and will only converse with the Prophets themselves. This indicates Engineers are very high in the caste system, probably because the Covenant are aware of how much they are needed and the Engineer's grasp on Covenant and foreign technology, is profound.
Therefore, they maintain their status as one of the highest Covenant castes. They are called Huragok in the Covenant language. These were removed from the final version of Halo: Combat Evolved, but are in some of the novels.
- Sharquoi? A term mentioned in Conversations from the Universe, speculated to be another race.
- Drinols are bosses that did not make it into Halo 2 and it is unknown if they will be featured in future products.
- Stalkers are a Covenant race that did not make it into Halo 2, seen in the Halo 2 Collector's Edition disc.
- Keelbugs are a deleted Covenant race seen in the Halo 2 Collector's Edition Disc. They were supposed to fly into the battlefield, cut dead bodies into sections, and fly off with them.
- Alien Troopers are a deleted Covenant race seen in the Halo 2 Collector's Edition Disc. It is unknown what this exactly seems to be. The only known data is that it was supposed to carry its weapon under its belly.
The History of the Covenant
Little is known about their history except that the Prophets and Elites' ancestors waged war on each other, but they formed the Covenant after finding evidence of the Forerunners and their "Great Journey".
One of the leading theories is that the Age of Abandonment was the time when the Forerunners left the Prophets and Elites to embark on the "Great Journey".
Elites and the Prophets began fighting each other in the Age of Conflict. It is not yet known why this war started.
In the Age of Discovery, the Prophets discovered the remains of the Forerunner technology, maybe with the help of the Engineers.
During the 1st Age of Reconciliation, the Prophets shared the information learned about the Forerunners with the Elites. The Elites and the Prophets made a truce to unite to form the Covenant with the Elites being promised salvation in exchange for their services as the military and protection. Presumably, this is when the Covenant Writ of Union was created.
The Age of Conversion was when the Elites and the Prophets started to conscript other races (such as when they "tamed" Hunters) into the Covenant through religious conversion or force.
The Covenant began to doubt the word of the Prophets during the Age(s) of Doubt, due to the fruitlessness of their search for Halo. The Grunt Rebellion probably occurred during this span of time.
During the Age(s) of Expansion, the Covenant integrated other races into their organization.
Halo 1 and Halo 2 take place during the 9th Ages of Reclamation. It is often speculated that this is a reference to the name that the Monitors give to humans: "reclaimers". Others, especially the Elites, wonder why the humans, a worthy opponent that have proven themselves in battle many times, were not given the opportunity to join the Covenant. Some within the Covenant even wonder what the humans have done to be an "affront" to the gods. This fact might be linked with humans presumably being the reclaimers.
Religion and Culture
It could be assumed that the Covenant society is based solely on war, and, to a certain extent, this is true. The Covenant started with a pact between two races, the Elites and the Prophets. The Prophets had the connections to the Forerunner and, as such, possessed superior technology.
The client races are nearly enslaved by the Covenant, having their past ways of life almost completely purged. Their past culture was all but erased. Most races were kept and exploited for their unique abilities, and helped to push the ever-growing war machine of the Covenant Empire. Hunters were conquered, for example, by way of orbital bombardment after they proved indomitable in ground engagements.
The Forerunners, a long-since vanished and utterly mysterious civilization, are revered as gods by the Covenant, although their original nature was most likely 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 transcendent Great Journey may be begun. The evident technological perfection of Forerunner objects, and the awesome and unknown purpose for which these artifacts exist, has powered the Covenant theology for millennia.
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, it is repeatedly stated, are imitative rather than innovative, unlike their human enemies. Their technology is largely mimicry of the leftover Forerunner artifacts. In the game, their weaponry is largely plasma based and most of their vehicles are capable of hovering. All of the Covenant's hand-held weapons (except the fuel rod cannon and the needler) use magnetic coils to direct the usually unstable plasma energy.
Their architecture is usually elaborate and favors a bright purple color.
While Covenant technology is (on the whole) far more advanced than humanity's, the Covenant seem to be ignorant of how precise or powerful their technology can be. Covenant 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 treated. Cortana uses 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. This was seen in the book Halo: The First Strike.
The Covenant boast a large arsenal of plasma based weapons. Most of the Covenant's weaponry uses a form of magnetic channeling that the human race can only match to the Magnetic Accelerator Cannon/MAC gun aboard starships and the Warthog mounted gauss cannon.
Plasma-based weaponry is very effective against energy shielding. The amount of shots that can be fired tends to be very high, but power cannot be recharged 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. It is not known if the weapon can be recharged, although this technology cannot be used by the Master Chief or the Arbiter in Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo 2
One of Halo's selling points is its implement of vehicles with realistic physics. Land based Covenant vehicles, unlike humans', are capable of hovering and are less prone to uneven terrain. All Covenant vehicles have a signature purple sheen, except for the Banshees used by the Heretics.
- Ghosts are one passenger reconnaissance and rapid attack vehicles, they hold one driver and have two plasma cannons. In Halo 2, there is a secondary boost function, but takes power from the plasma cannons.
- Banshees are one passenger airborne ground assault vehicles with high maneuverability and fair speed. They boast two plasma cannons and a fuel rod cannon. There is also a secondary boost function (in Halo 2), but like the Ghost, takes power from the plasma cannons. Aerial acrobatics can be enabled to effectively dodge weapon fire.
- Seraphs are the Covenant's main starfighter and first appeared in Halo 2.
- Boarding Craft are the Covenant's way of infiltrating enemy starships to capture them or any information on board.
- Wraiths are one passenger hover tanks, which make them surprisingly maneuverable but slow because of the near meter thick armor. Their sole weapon is a powerful mortar gun that fires in an arc similar to the Fuel Rod Gun. Other than this, they are fairly vulnerable to very close enemies. They are usable in the single player campaign of Halo 2, in which they are also armed with twin plasma cannons, although these cannot be used by the player. It has a temporary boost function, which effectively rams opponents in the way of the Wraith.
- Phantoms are a dropship-like aircraft similar to the human Pelican dropship. They are far more formidable than the dropship of Halo 1, armed with a trio of Shade cannons and can drop its occupants to the ground without having to fully land. First introduced in Halo 2]. The Shade cannons can be blown off and are remote targeted by Rocket Launchers.
- Spectres are small troop transport vehicles that appear to serve a purpose similar to that of the human Warthog. Like the Ghost and Banshee, it hovers. The vehicle also has a plasma turret mounted on top. Introduced in Halo 2. It can support a driver, two passengers, and a gunner.
- Shadows are the Covenant's main mode of moving large numbers of troops around on land. They can hold a driver, a gunner, and up to eight occupants, depending on species of Covenant. They're outfitted to carry Elites, Brutes, Grunts, and Jackals. They're equipped with a Shade cannon, but the main purpose is to deploy infantry. They cannot be piloted by the player, but their fixed turret can be used.
- Scarabs are different from most of the Covenant's other ground-based attack vehicles. Instead of using anti-gravity pods, it walks about on massive legs. It is highly mobile for a vehicle of it's size, and sports numerous turrets that shoot large shards of explosive crystals when piloted by the Covenant, as well as a massive, forward-firing plasma cannon.
- Spirits are the dropships of Halo 1. They were most likely troop and cargo ships to move around Halo easily due to its fork lift shape for cargo and The Covenants occupational state would mean a Phantom attack-style ship wouldn't be necessary. However when the humans arrive the Covenant soon find out these vessels are not good in combat. Features a driver and two "arms" for carrying troops, has a "gravity field" in between the arms for carrying vehicles and supplies and is armed with one shade turret. Looks like a giant tuning fork.
51 Pegasi-B System
- Pegasi Delta
- Joyous Exultation
|Covenant Starship Length Comparison|
|Covenant Assault Carrier||5346 meters|
|Reverence-class Cruiser||3000 meters|
|CCS-class Battlecruiser||1782.2 meters|
|Covenant Destroyer||1500 meters|
|Covenant Carrier||1455 meters|
|Covenant Frigate||1000 meters|
|Covenant Stealth Corvette||Less than 485 meters|
|Seraph-class Starfighter||24.8 meters|
- Combined Fleet of Righteous Purpose
- Fleet of Particular Justice
- Second Fleet of Homogenous Clarity
- High Charity - Covenant Holy City
- Unyielding Hierophant - Covenant Battle Station
- Sublime Transcendence
- Ascendant Justice
- Seeker of Truth
Reverence- class Cruisers
CCS- class Battlecruisers
- Purity of Spirit
- Sacred Promise
- Truth and Reconciliation
CAR - class Heavy Cruisers
- Bloodied Spirit
- Far Sight Lost
- Rapturous Arc
- Twilight Compunction
- Infinite Succor - Agricultural Support Ship
- Begotten Angel
- Commitment and Patience
- Pious Inquisitor
Important Covenant Events
- Taming of the Hunters
- Grunt Rebellion
- Human-Covenant War
- Civil War of the Covenant
- Dn'end Legion
- E'Toro Warrior Crèche
- R'Lan Warrior Crèche
- N'Noro Warrior Crèche