|This article, Empire of the Covenant (Repentance), was written by -AR-. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "So full of hate were our eyes that none of us could see. Our war would yield countless dead, but never victory. So let us cast arms aside, and like discard our wrath. Thou, in faith, will keep us safe, whilst we find the path."
- ―Covenant Writs of Union
- "According to our station! All without exception! On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons, we swear to uphold the Covenant! Even to our dying breath!"
- ―Covenant Military Creed
The Empire of the Covenant, commonly referred to as the Covenant, was a religious hegemony of several alien species, possessing large amounts of territory in the Orion Arm.
The Empire of the Covenant traced its origins to 852 B.C.E., the First Age of Reconciliation, in the aftermath of the devastating Sangheilio-San'Shyuum War. It was established as a partnered alliance between the Grand Empire of the San'Shyuum and the United Republics of Sangheilios, as part of a mutually beneficial relationship; the San'Shyuum, with their greater knowledge of the Forerunners and their technology, would abolish their military entirely in order to dedicate themselves to research and religious practice, while the Sangheili would in turn dedicate their Armed Forces to the defense of San'Shyuum interests. This mutual defense agreement would eventually set the basis for the Empire of the Covenant itself and its stringent caste system, and would also affect both San'Shyuum and Sangheili society greatly; the San'Shyuum, due to their duties within the Covenant, would become a comparably frailer species, while the Sangheili, in comparison, would become progressively more militarised in culture.
Benefitting greatly from the reverse-engineering of recovered Forerunner technology the Covenant would spiral from a pact of alliance to a full-fledged government, and as Covenant society and religion developed, the Sangheili and San'Shyuum became exponentially more powerful. With the Age of Conversion the Covenant would expand from its two Local Clusters and conquer new solar systems, in the process defeating and converting the various member species that would later characterize it. Among its conquests and conversions would be the Unggoy, Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, Lekgolo, and Yanme'e, firmly establishing the Covenant as an intersystem Empire.
The Ages of Doubt, however, would mark turbulent periods in Covenant history, pockmarked with loss of faith and internal conflict. They ended officially in the 23rd Age of Doubt, with the discovery of the Human race and the beginning of the Age of Reclamation. The Human-Covenant War would bring about a massive resurgence of the Covenant Religion among its constituents, one that would last until the Great Schism of 2552 C.E. (which would ultimately tear the Covenant asunder, and set the stage for the rise of the Sacred Covenant ("Loyalist," later "Remnant"), Great Truth ("Separatist"), and Monolith movements).
The Covenant Military, formally known as the Sword and Shield of the Covenant, represented the offensive and defensive arm of the Covenant Empire, carrying out its conquests and defending the Empire from foreign and domestic threats. It was primarily separated into two branches: the Grand Army of the Covenant (colloquially Imperial Army), which maintained planetary military garrisons, shipboard and fleetwide security forces, and shipboard expeditionary units, and the Grand Navy of the Covenant (colloquially Imperial Navy), which provided spaceborne defense to the Covenant Empire, in addition to ferrying Army combat forces to areas of conflict and providing them with aerial support assets.
The Armed Forces of the Covenant drew upon a constant flow of fresh recruits provided by the Empire's constituent member species, each of which (with the exception of the San 'Shyuum, Kig-Yar, and Huragok) were required to meet regular reinforcement quotas. Brevis Kig-Yar and Aigoree Kig-yar were largely exempt from standard recruitment procedures in accordance with the terms of their assimilation, instead being contracted as privateers and hired mercenaries in exchange for commissions paid by the Ministry of Tranquility. Recruits were trained proficiently in military occupations best suited to their individual performance, although recruits could be trained in other military professions in the event of occupational shortages. In accordance with Sangheili meritocratic policy, noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers within the Covenant Military earned their promotions and commissions in accordance with performance in the field, and, for the most part, led units comprised of other members of their own or "inferior" species.