The Cultures of the Covenant

Within the various installments of the Halo Franchise, we’ve explored the Human Race in the Twenty Sixth Century, the insane power of the Forerunners, and the Over-Religious hegemony of the Covenant…

But we’ve only scratched the surface of the Covenant…

Only the Sangeili Culture has been even remotely explored, the other races have only been generalized as evil…

But do all Aliens have to be evil? Does anything extra-terrestrial instantly have to be hell-bent on our extermination?

So far, we’ve learned that the Kig-Yar only fight for the side that pays them. We’ve deeply explored the Sangheili’s honor driven society. We’ve barely engraved the slave-like lives of the Unggoy. We’ve been taught only a grain of sand about the war-like Jiralhanae. We know that the Legkolo share a deep personal bond with their pairs. The Huragok will even die for the protection of Forerunner Technology. The San’Shyuum used to pursue beauty, but now they follow Prophets. The Yanme’e see themselves above other races…

But what about the lives of these species?

How do they live, what do they enjoy, how do they mate, how do they view life itself?

What are the dying Cultures of the Covenant?

It would be awesome to explore the cultures of the different Covenant races.

However, considering how human-centric the Halo storyline has been recently, I doubt we’ll get a more in-depth look at the Covenant species.

I’d love to see more Covenant worldbuilding. Maybe something written from the in-universe perspective of Professor Phillips?

Not a bad idea to expand on the universe… As long as Karen Traviss doesn’t write about it, it’ll be cool.

Here’s an extract of a little piece I’m working on that aims to tell the story of the 2540s and 2550s from the perspective of a Grunt writing in about 2700. The aim is to be creative and to make a lot of stuff up, but to stay within canon and not contradict anything canonical. If folks have some ideas they’d like me to implement into this (and I have already taken note of some theories circulating on this forum) then I’d be very happy to oblige!

The Deacon’s Chronicle
A History of the Halo Universe according to the Unggoy Deacon Michik.

This being the history of the Deacon Michik, child of the Totospi of Palaporos(1), to tell the story of the Great Schism of the Covenant Empire and the Restoration of the Faith.

FIRST GRAND CYCLE(2)OF LOYALTY, NINTH AGE OF RECLAMATION
(Tuesday February 20th 2525- Tuesday January 14th 2527)

SECOND GRAND CYCLE OF LOYALTY, NINTH AGE OF RECLAMATION
(Tuesday March 20th 2542- Tuesday February 11th 2544)
HIGH PROPHET OF MERCY: 15 GRAND CYCLES, GC 10
HIGH PROPHET OF REGRET: 15 GRAND CYCLES, GC 10
HIGH PROPHET OF TRUTH: 15 GRAND CYCLES, GC 10
IMPERIAL ADMIRAL XYTAN ‘JAR WATTINREE, 9 GRAND CYCLES, GC 3
JIRALHANAE CHIEFTAIN TARTARTUS: 15 GRAND CYCLES, GC 10
YANME’E HIGH QUEEN P’RS’TRIK’: 4 GRAND CYCLES, GC 3
BARBARIAN FLEET ADMIRAL HOOD: 7 GRAND CYCLES, GC 2

In this cycle the heretic Thisla Miran moved his forces to the colonies of Bisval, Orgenzh and Mial-Maroo, and there he persuaded the local Jiralhanae to join his wicked band of murderous scoundrels(3). The Prophet of Regret set out against the heretics with a fleet, but he was defeated and retreated to Hesduros, a most backward and unhappy planet of the Sangheili, where he sat and lamented his misfortune for cycle after cycle. At this time there were rumours of plots in the Ruling City(4). Passers-by paused and spoke of discord between the noble Hierarchs, and all around feared crisis and rupture: but the Gods saw fit to spare our Covenant from yet more pain in this cycle. At length Regret returned to the city, and Truth went out to meet his brother and bound up his wounds.

Thereafter the arrogance of Miran knew no limits, and his tricksters were sighted even on Tranquil Glory (5) spreading their foul message of confusion and dissent. The Unggoy of the world stood firm, but the Kig-Yar, ever a race of devious tricksters and cowardly fraudsters, interested only in their wealth and not their souls, recorded a number of defections(6). Miran’s fools tried to enlist the barbarians’ own heretics in an attempt at an alliance, but there was misunderstanding and the heretics of the barbarians fired on our own heretics(7). Truly, the Gods did not bless these ingrates with the gifts of knowledge and foreboding!

All had hoped to celebrate the failure of the most cursed Miran, but our thanks turned to dust soon enough. The barbarians sent a warlord Parest Culamee(8) to our bounteous colony, the nursery of the Kig-Yar, at Psi Serpentis. Against the violent invaders, the Imperial Admiral sent two fleets, and entrusted them to loyal deputies, but the result was a most shameful abomination, as the barbarians tricked and deceived our warriors, and scattered our fleets to all corners. And the admirals of the fleets were brought back to the City in disgrace, and there they were scourged, and beaten, and whipped before the Council, and their broken bodies sacrificed to the Sharquoi(9). The Jiralhanae were granted ships, and the odour of shame hung over the Sangheili.

As the Grand Cycle ended, seven councillors voted that the time was ripe for a new Age, with seventy one against and two abstentations.

  1. Palaporos IV is a primarily Unggoy inhabited planet in orbit near to the centre of Covenant space. The Totospi are one of six leading Unggoy dynasties on the planet.
  2. A “Grand Cycle” is the Covenant term for a year, comprising sixty three “Cycles”, or High Charity days (though to the human mind, a “Cycle” is better understood as a length of time equivalent to a week, made up as it is of 265 roughly hour-length units). One day on High Charity is equivalent to 11 days on Earth: therefore, one Covenant year is slightly shorter than two Earth years, at 693 Earth days.
  3. Thisla Miranee was a former Sangheili admiral who defected following a series of events culminating in his being passed over for promotion early in the First Grand Cycle of Obedience (May 2540). Two GC later he had amassed a large fleet of some fifty ships, largely thanks to his firm allegiance with the Jiralhanae royal pretender Atius.
  4. High Charity. Michik’s wording here is obscure, but it is possible that Truth considered moving against Regret late in 2542, with the UNSC apparently in disarray.
  5. Tranquil Glory was the most inhabited planet of the Covenant Empire, and one of the few with a truly mixed population. Were it not for the existence of High Charity, Tranquil Glory would in all likelihood have served as the Covenant capital.
  6. Michik is obviously letting his personal xenophobia spill out here.
  7. An attempt by Miran to enlist human insurrectionists into his ragtag army ended badly, it seems.
  8. Vice Admiral Preston Cole: Michik is assuming human admirals would earn an honorary “-ee” on their names, in the way Sangheili warriors did.
  9. The Sharquoi are a canon species of the Covenant that we know almost nothing about.

> I’d love to see more Covenant worldbuilding. Maybe something written from the in-universe perspective of Professor Phillips?

Not by Traviss though, by someone who actually cares enough to research and go into detail

Something where the word Human isn’t brought up once. That way we can get a look at the Covenant whilst avoiding anthropocentric and misanthropic rubbish, which is all the Covenant seem to exist for these days.

> > I’d love to see more Covenant worldbuilding. Maybe something written from the in-universe perspective of Professor Phillips?
>
> Not by Traviss though, by someone who actually cares enough to research and go into detail

Eric Nylund.

Really would like to see more of how the covenant worked before they met humans, how they indoctrinated and dealt with all the races.
It was nice to see a bit more of elite culture in thursday war and cole protocol, but I really wanna know more about the hunters. They seem like the most mysterious, yet intelligent members of the covenant. That and they can morph themselves into pretty much bloody anything if they wanted.

With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.

I feel the Great Schism was too clear-cut. It makes sense that the Brutes weren’t allowed in Jul 'Mdama’s faction, but where is everyone else? Where are the drones? Where are the engineers? Why don’t we have an explanation on that? Even if there was an explanation, I doubt an entire species would join the same side. It just seems downright silly. That also makes me wonder why some Elites didn’t stay with the original Covenant Empire in Halo 2 and Halo 3. They seem to magically re-follow their beliefs now…

> With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! <mark>I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.</mark>

Because those are easier to shoot and kill than creatures we can relate too.

> > With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! <mark>I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.</mark>
>
> Because those are easier to shoot and kill than creatures we can relate too.

I feel that would be a better in-canon explanation. But with the Covenant split up, hopefully we’ll see more “good guys” that aren’t just Elites.

> > > With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! <mark>I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.</mark>
> >
> > Because those are easier to shoot and kill than creatures we can relate too.
>
> I feel that would be a better in-canon explanation. But with the Covenant split up, hopefully we’ll see more “good guys” that aren’t just Elites.

That’d be nice, but it wouldn’t quite fit the “Humanity rules, -Yoink- yeah!” narrative.

> > > > With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! <mark>I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.</mark>
> > >
> > > Because those are easier to shoot and kill than creatures we can relate too.
> >
> > I feel that would be a better in-canon explanation. But with the Covenant split up, hopefully we’ll see more “good guys” that aren’t just Elites.
>
> That’d be nice, but it wouldn’t quite fit the <mark>“Humanity rules, -Yoink!- yeah!”</mark> narrative.

And that is exactly why the Humans are destined to FAIL the Precursor’s test.

We put our own greed and desires before everything, even if it requires the genocide of an entire race, or the if it requires enslaving the ones that are inferior…

We kill off the Sanghieli in masses as we spread our lust throughout the Galaxy, we enslave unwilling species that act out of fear, we stamp out those who disagree, and last… We are blinded by our pride and nobility…

The Humans will fall under their own confidence, they will succumb to the next stage of evolution…

Unity…

> FAIL** the Precursor’s test.
>
> We put our own greed and desires before everything, even if it requires the genocide of an entire race, or the if it requires enslaving the ones that are inferior…
>
> We kill off the Sanghieli in masses as we spread our lust throughout the Galaxy, we enslave unwilling species that act out of fear, we stamp out those who disagree, and last… We are blinded by our pride and nobility…
>
> The Humans will fall under their own confidence, they will succumb to the next stage of evolution…
>
> Unity…

As if that is any different than the Precursor’s. Because of the Forerunners threatening their control, everybody is going to be consumed by the Flood. Failing their self-righteous test is the least of humanities worries.

> > FAIL** the Precursor’s test.
> >
> > We put our own greed and desires before everything, even if it requires the genocide of an entire race, or the if it requires enslaving the ones that are inferior…
> >
> > We kill off the Sanghieli in masses as we spread our lust throughout the Galaxy, we enslave unwilling species that act out of fear, we stamp out those who disagree, and last… We are blinded by our pride and nobility…
> >
> > The Humans will fall under their own confidence, they will succumb to the next stage of evolution…
> >
> > Unity…
>
> As if that is any different than the Precursor’s. Because of the Forerunners threatening their control, everybody is going to be consumed by the Flood. Failing their self-righteous test is the least of humanities worries.

After the Forerunners wiped out 99% of their species, I don’t think the unknown remains of the Precursors are very concerned about them.

In the end, the Forerunners finished the Precursor’s job of wiping themselves out with the Halo Array, so now it is time for the next candidates of the Mantle to be judged…

And when the Humans fail their self-righteous test, the Precursors will once again release the Flood into the Galaxy… Cough The Gatekeeper Cough

Kind of on a side note, I hope in Halo 6 when humanity is given the mantle (I assume thats when its going to happen), Chief just goes f*** it, and decides to share it among the Humans, Elites, Hunters, Grunts and Jackals. The idea of the mantle always seemed a bit too draconian, having one race be above all the others.

> > > > > With the games, they make it as if the Elites and Prophets are the only sentient species–which they are not! Grunts can be smart, Jackals can be smart, Drones can be smart, Lekgolo can be smart, and even Brutes can be smart! <mark>I don’t understand why they want us to ignore them like they’re barbaric, hell-bent creatures.</mark>
> > > >
> > > > Because those are easier to shoot and kill than creatures we can relate too.
> > >
> > > I feel that would be a better in-canon explanation. But with the Covenant split up, hopefully we’ll see more “good guys” that aren’t just Elites.
> >
> > That’d be nice, but it wouldn’t quite fit the <mark>“Humanity rules, -Yoink!- yeah!”</mark> narrative.
>
> And that is exactly why the Humans are destined to FAIL the Precursor’s test.
>
> We put our own greed and desires before everything, even if it requires the genocide of an entire race, or the if it requires enslaving the ones that are inferior…
>
> We kill off the Sanghieli in masses as we spread our lust throughout the Galaxy, we enslave unwilling species that act out of fear, we stamp out those who disagree, and last… We are blinded by our pride and nobility…
>
> The Humans will fall under their own confidence, they will succumb to the next stage of evolution…
>
> Unity…

In spite of creating fiction this dumb, the writers still seem to think that Humanity’s place is at the top of the food chain, and will succeed. So as all of this nonsensical stuff plays out, I doubt we’ll see 343i’s take on Humanity fail (As much as I’d love it to. It’s so immature).