|This article, New Covenant (War of Vengeance), is currently under active construction.|
- ""Creatures of the Covenant - the path is broad, and we shall walk it side-by-side." Those were the words of the Prophet of Conviction, first Hierarch of the Covenant, as he welcomed the Sangheili into the fold. Those words ring today as true as they did all those centuries ago, though the Sangheili have forsaken the path we follow. But do not worry - they shall come around, in time. For every path leads to the Great Journey that we all tread."
- ―Prophet of Objection
Much has been made of the fragmentation of the Covenant at the end of the Human-Covenant War, and parralels have been drawn to past events of similar nature. The Sangheili point out the various internal empires that fragmented against an external threat, while humanity most often compares it to the breakup of the old Soviet Union. The analogy is not an unfit one - like the USSR, what the galaxy was left with was a large number of "Covenant" factions who paid barely lip service to their name, rapidly developing in different directions and ways, until they barely resembled the hegemony they had once belonged to.
If anything, though, the New Covenant remains largely true to the original, especially its latter phase, as it incorporated the Jiralhanae into its upper echelons. Unlike other Covenant factions, neither the San'Shyuum not Jiralhanae sought to gain superiority over the other, preferring to rely upon each other as the San'Shyuum and Sangheili once did. If anything, the balance of power is more evenly distributed - the loss of the majority of the San'Shyuum species has forced them to allow the Jiralhanae greater freedoms in civilian areas of government.
During the Great Schism, what was left of the Covenant was held together only loosely out of the sheer skill of the Prophet of Truth. His political expertise, adept application of manipulation, and his ability to inspire zealotry in his commanders allowed the Covenant to survive longer than it otherwise would have - long enough for his own purposes, at any rate. His death at Installation 00 left the Covenant without a guiding force, and it began to fracture.
Into that breach stepped the Prophet of Objection. Though certainly no Truth, he limited the damage that was being done, cobbling together a remnant force that could at least hold it's own against the various other rival factions, reinstating the rule of the Prophets. Though wary of the Prophets after the disaster at Earth and the Ark, the Jiralhanae remained loyal, pledging their allegiance to the Prophets and the Great Journey. The same cannot be said of other races - while the Huragok have never particularly cared who they worked for in the past, they began to defect en masse to the UNSC and Sangheili, fleeing the New Covenant in droves. Unable to stop so many refugees, Objection was forced to institute martial law over Huragok colonies, and patrols of Unggoy and Kig-yar kept more of the valuable creatures from escaping. Objection at least stopped the Jiralhanae practice of using the Huragok as suicide bombers, easing some fears, and improved relations between the Huragok work teams and the San'Shyuum handlers, once again restricting the creatures to the service of the Prophets.
Likewise, the Unggoy and Kig-yar fractured again, though for different reasons. Many Unggoy still believed in the Prophets and the Great Journey, but others were not so confident. Loathe to recognise the sovereignty of the San'Shyuum and return to the brutal yoke of the New Covenant, many Unggoy hijacked merchant traders, setting up small colonies on or near methane-rich planets beyond the reach of New Covenant law. Though they risked raids by roving pirates and warlords, the gain of their independence seemed an acceptable trade. Likewise, many of the Kig-yar saw the opportunity for further profit outside of the New Covenant - some offered their services to other factions, such as the Blood Covenant, while still more set themselves up as private enterprises, raiding merchant ships and small colonies opportunistically. Even the Lekgolo had their misgivings, and with Te in Sangheili-controlled territory, many chose to leave the New Covenant and ally themselves with their old commanders.
The only race to remain totally and unswervingly loyal was the Yanme'e, and their Queens were rewarded by a seat amongst the High Council, alongside the San'Shyuum and Jiralhanae. Though limited in numbers and abilities, the sudden rise to power of the Yanme'e changed many of the political dynamics of the New Covenant, and their participation in the military was expanded dramatically.
Objection consolidated what little power he had with what little resources he had available. At first, less than a dozen worlds remained loyal to the New Covenant, with a fleet of less than a hundred. Choosing his military commanders carefully, preferring skill over zeal, he crafted the New Covenant military into a finely honed weapon, using it to make conquest after conquest, shattering and reabsorbing more than a dozen breakaway factions. Executions for treason became a commonplace occurance, with the leaders and warlords shown little mercy. Their forces, on the other hand, were shown nothing but forgiveness, and most readily joined the New Covenant to start again as soldiers in its military, eager to show their loyalty for the new regime. As the influence of the New Covenant grew to encompass system after system, Objection realised that he would have to accept help on a more even capacity, and set his political machinery in motion to handpick exactly who he wanted to serve alongside him as Hierarchs - Protestation and Devotion. Expanding rapidly, the New Covenant soon came into conflict with some of the more established former Covenant factions - dissatisfied with Prophet rule, many Jiralhanae rallied around the Blood Covenant under the banner of Master Chieftain Hephaestus.
War of Vengeance
The details of the New Covenant-Blood Covenant War are few and far between. The New Covenant would not come into contact with the Sangheili Armed Forces or UNSC until 2561 in Operation: LAMENTATION, where elements of all three factions attacked the last major Blood Covenant stronghold, and New Covenant diplomats have been loathe to come into contact with their human or Sangheili counterparts, but some things have been gleaned from recovered information from Kig-Yar pirates and privateers, captured Blood Covenant files, and a few rogue Unggoy traders - prior to the Battle of Unmoving Virtue, New Covenant diplomats had arrived to negotiate a cessation of hostilities, and investigate the possibility of an alliance against the Sangheili. These diplomats were greeted, and the unsuspecting politicians welcomed - and then slaughtered down to the last warrior. The mutilated and desecrated corpses of the two Prophet diplomats were sent on an automated shuttle into New Covenant space as the Blood Covenant reply - the rest of the party were consumed as a victory feast. The death of Hephaestus in the subsequent Operation: TACK HAMMER did nothing to quell the New Covenant's outrage, and the continued practice of Blood Covenant-sponsored Kig-Yar privateers on vital shipping finally brought the still wounded New Covenant into the fray. For the duration of the War of Vengeance, the Blood Covenant fought a war on two fronts - on one side, the SAF and UNSC allied forces destroyed shipyards, isolated colonies, and assassinated leaders; on the other side, the New Covenant glassed world after world, pushing inexorably but steadily towards the core of Blood Covenant space. When they finally reached Expansive Judgement, the New Covenant force unintentionally found itself in the middle of a battle already raging between a small Sangheili fleet and the entire Blood Covenant Navy. The demonstration of Sangheili battle tactics, and the improved nature of UNSC warship construction, forced the New Covenant to agree to a temporary ceasefire negotiated between Fleet Master Erebus and Supreme Commander Xuro Dun 'Xoramee - after the confusion was sorted out, the New Covenant proceded to wipe out the last Blood Covenant defences and glass the planet, destroying all ships attempting to flee the system, leaving no survivors.
Though there were factions within the New Covenant that longed to wipe out the Sangheili, and others that still insisted that humanity was an abomination against the Gods, Objection and most of the High Council realised that they still lacked the military strength to wage a conclusive war against either power, nevermind a strongly united combined effort. To pacify the council, Objection declared that the operation of slipspace operable ships was to be restricted to the New Covenant Navy - technically this statute had been in existence since the incorporation of the Kig-Yar into the Covenant, but Objections restatement of it was tantamount to a declaration of war against the hundreds of Kig-Yar pirate factions that still preyed on it internally. For the next decade, the New Covenant Navy busied itself hunting down and destroying piracy, having the triple advantage of securing the New Covenant's shipping, occupying the military forces, and honing their space combat skills. Anticipating a massive conflict against the Sangheili, either defensive or offensive, Objection reached out to the Governors of Contrition, a breakaway Sangheili sect that still held true to the Covenant's beliefs, even if their loyalty to the Prophets was questionable, in an attempt to cultivate a spy network. In hindsight, this may have been Objections most damning mistake - attempting to bring even a few Sangheili back into the fold of the New Covenant would anger the Jiralhanae, and the Governors themselves would set about plans to take control of the New Covenant, restoring Sangheili dominance, and returning to beginning the Great Journey.
Even as Objection readied the New Covenant for war, he made arrangements for peace, signing the Unmoving Virtue Non-Aggression Treaty, establishing an embassy on the planet to facilitate limited economic and diplomatic links, even if only to gain a small informational advantage over the Sangheili. The UNSC never traded with the New Covenant, and even kept their involvement to the Sangheili to the barest minimum, and all attempts at setting up a spy network in human space inevitably failed - religious fanatics converted to the Covenant cause, while enthusiastic, were never in any position to be of any use to Objection. A shipping route was set up, with New Covenant and SAF freighters exchanging metals and gases as needed. It is ironic that all of Objections attempts to ready the New Covenant for war only drew it closer to a lasting period of peace, or at least a cease fire.
Rise of The Governors
Alas, this period of stability would not last. The Governors of Contrition had planted operatives on Hallowed Sanctum, the new home of the Covenant capital, and with a paltry few shots had assassinated most of the New Covenant High Council and capturing the remaining Prophets in the line of succession. Using the Prophet of Piety as a puppet leader, the Governors declared that the New Covenant would immediately mobilise for war against humanity and the "heretic" Sangheili. Many Jiralhanae responded unquestioningly, springing into action with the haste that is typical of their species - New Covenant warships suddenly turned on Sangheili freighters and escorts. A small number knew that the few remaining Prophets were merely being manipulated by the Governors, and a small battlegroup managed to secure the other two Hierarchs, Protestation and Devotion, speeding them out of New Covenant space to the safety of Victorious Avowal, forming the core of a "Loyalist" faction against the Governors. Realising that elements of the New Covenant remained loyal to the Prophets and opposed them, the Governors moved quickly - launching a fleet to Victorious Avowal, the battle was long and bloody, but ended with the arrest of the Prophet of Protestation and the escape of the Prophet of Devotion, the capture of the planet, and the deaths of millions of loyalist New Covenant warriors.
Finally believing that their only chance for survival lay in their former enemies, Devotion took his small battlegroup deep into Sangheili space, alerting them of the actions of the Governors. While the deaths of Prophets and Jiralhanae troubled them little, their declaration of a renewed effort to begin the Great Journey alarmed the Sangheili and UNSC greatly, and quarantine forces aroud Delta Halo and the ruins of Alpha Halo were bolstered immediately - and rightly so. Governor-controlled fleets arrived mere weeks afterwards, seeking to capture the ringworlds and activate them, fended off by the combined UNSC-SAF defenders only narrowly. Realising that any attempt to activate the Halo Array directly would be stopped by the SAF-UNSC, even if it tool a phyrric victory to do so, the Governors turned to another ancient Forerunner series of Installations, one more mysterious - Labyrinth Array. Leading the charge, a UNSC battlegroup headed to Mu Arae, the last confirmed location of a surviving Forerunner Labyrinth world, catching a New Covenant fleet as it entered the system. Though the UNSC warships fought tenaciously, the Governors deployed ground forces onto Juno, part of the Labyrinth destroyed in 2552, and managed to extract information on other facilities. In the process they uncovered a buried Forerunner fleet, accidentally activating it - the reactivated behemoths quickly set to work "securing" the system, starting with the New Covenant fleet. A handful of ships escaped, carrying the coordinates to another Labyrinth world, but two hundred ships would fall to the automated war machines, ignoring the human fleet. The UNSC battlegroup dispatched a pair of Prowlers to follow the Governors, arriving at a star in the Praesepe Star Cluster, containing a third Labyrinth World.
The battle for this Labyrinth world would be a minor engagement compared to the rest of the war - with the Governors intent on beginning the Great Journey they had been promised for so long, they soon returned to their efforts to gain control over a Halo Installation with renewed vigour, bolstered by oblivious Jiralhanae commanders, Unggoy and Kig-Yar recruits, and press-ganged Yanme'e hives. The return of the Yanme'e soldier class into an active combat role was recieved poorly by the Yanme'e Queens, and rumours began to circulate that the Yanme'e were preparing to leave the New Covenant in a similar schism to that of the Sangheili - and as before, the leaders cut down the leadership, scattering the main body, and quickly moved against the threat. Unlike the Sangheili, the Yanme'e had no access to the ships and fleets that gave them their edge, but their technical skills would become invaluable. Eventually, a sizeable portion of the Yanme'e hive queens splintered off - while they would remain separate from the Loyalist faction, they would still resist Governor encroachment, using equipment that was either stolen, bought from the Kig-Yar black market (with considerable difficulty), or recommissioned from the Virtuous Herald ship graveyard. Initially, the force was merely a handful of scraped-together ships, barely capable of protecting Palamok. Within a few years, the Yanme'e separatists had assembled a fleet large enough to repel Governor forces from Yanme'e held space. Contact with the Prophet-led Loyalists in 2570 would lead to the Yanme'e entering the war against the Governors in a full capacity, hoping to free their hive-queen brethren from the Governors practice of using leaders as puppet commanders.
The actual war would rage throughout the Orion Arm, on a scale that would outmatch even the Human-Covenant War, which was restricted mostly to human-colonised space and little else, a total radius of perhaps 300 lightyears at its furthest points. The Covenant had encompassed thousands of lightyears, and millions of colonies in hundreds of star systems - and so many of these would become battlefields. UNSC forces were obliged to intervene out of solidarity with their Sangheili allies, but had been weakened by years of peace and the diversion of resources to reconstruction, resettlement, terraforming and colonisation efforts in an attempt to return humanity's former interstellar empire, resulting in massive cuts to the military budget. While well-intended, and certainly effective at rebuilding humanity from the ashes of destruction, it left it vulnerable to attack, and when it came it was devastating.
- "Objection is a masterful manipulator, a skilled politician, and ruthless as anything, but he's no Truth. Without his skill and ability to create coherency where none should exist, all he could do was was as the Old Covenant fell apart. I'm sure he'd tell you that it was merely cutting away the dead wood from the healthy tree. By the time it was done, there were a lot of branches lying on the ground, that's all I can say."
- "Take a Jiralhanae from the New Covenant and Blood Covenant, and look at them side-by-side. The New Covenant one at has a sense of honour, even if it is as warped and perverted as themselves, and an education - he is more sophisticated in his brutality, at least. A Blood Covenant Jiralhanae is little more than a Mercenary - after the loss of Unmoving Virtue , and the devastation of Pious Ascension, a lot of them joined the New Covenant."
- "Objection is certainly no fool. While I'm sure Truth or Regret would have insisted we Sangheili and humanity were a heresy to be stamped out immediately, the New Covenant simply hasn't the resources available to start another holy war so soon without falling apart all over again. And so we sign treaties not worth the paper they are written on, and pledge neutrality in conflicts that are not our own, and pretend to be civil as we work our machinations around each other. I never liked politics - at least on the battlefield you just kill your enemy or he kills you, and its over. No warrior wields a weapon as terrifying as bureaucracy."