|This article, Raak'ezh Warrior Creche, is currently under active construction.|
Nobody can doubt the effectiveness of the SPARTAN-II and SPARTAN-III Programs, both in terms of military performance and as psychological deterrents and morale sappers. Among the Covenant, who treat all such creatures with a nearly supernatural regard, they acquired a reputation as Demons, and were the only warfighters to ever give the Sangheili, a warrior race that prides itself on its fearlessness, reason to hesitate in their battle plans against humanity. Their existence single-handedly allowed humanity to survive the Human-Covenant War, holding back the Covenant onslaught long enough for the Great Schism to begin, shattering it forever and giving humanity respite.
It is therefore understandable that the Covenant sought to render the threat the Spartans posed them neutralised. Assembled in 2542, the Raak'ezh Warrior Creche was one of dozens of Zealot strike forces assembled by the Covenant to hunt down and kill UNSC special warfare operators, managing to kill a number of Spartans and other augmented personnel, taking part in actions on half a dozen human colony worlds, especially on Hope. It would continue to operate through until the start of the Schism, when it was officially deactivated as the Sangheili Armed Forces formed its grudging alliance with humanity. Unofficially, it would continue to hunt down and kill enemy targets, this time among the Blood Covenant.
After the conclusion of the War of Vengeance, the Raak'ezh would be recruited by the Governors of Contrition as a mercenary force, once more (and gleefully so) deployed to kill Spartan targets during the Second Great War, managing to kill Oliver-B112 during the Second Battle of Cloistering Expectancy in 2569 during the joint SAF and UNSC defence of the planet, an important armoury and resupply base for both factions. This act would be its downfall - Kukri Team, of which Oliver was a member, would go semi-rogue, hijacking an ONI Prowler and hunting down every single member of the Raak'ezh Warrior Creche, concluding with the death of its leader while attempting to flee for his life in 2571. Kukri were later pardoned for this action, but it would be the final end for one of the Covenant's most ferocious and feared Zealot strike forces.
For the early years of the war, the Covenant made the mistake of regarding the Spartans as mere rumours. For the most part, the blame for this lay with the Sangheili - admitting that humanity, a species that was meant to be intellectualy and physically stunted and spiritually barren, could produce warriors that could not only go toe-to-toe with the Sangheili's best warriors but win was a fact that no Sangheili wanted to admit. By denying their existence, however, they allowed the myth of the "Demons" to gain traction in the psyches of thousands of Covenant soldiers, proving a potent psychological deterrent. As the war progressed, the Sangheili would be presented with concrete evidence that the humans were not as weak as they had told or they believed, and many grudgingly swallowed their pride and conceded the existence of a small group of human warriors who had struck such terror into the Covenant's warriors.
Even after this concession, progress was slow despite Sangheili urging, with the Prophets demanding more proof before regarding rumour as fact. The assassination of a Prophet on Heian would be the final key, the death of a San'Shyuum at human hands shocking and outraging the Covenant. The revelation of their vulnerability, both of the Prophets themselves physically, and of their protectors, would be a huge psychological blow, far more so than the conductors of the raid anticipated, but it would inspire the creation of the most ferocious and devastating strike teams ever assembled and deployed by the Covenant against humanity - the Zealots.
Chosen for their religious zeal and devotion to the Prophets and their orders, the Zealots are regarded almost as sub-Arbiters, but with no need to regain lost honour. No concrete dates can be given for the formation of the Zealot strike groups - the Prophets had already begun assembling and deploying specialised teams for specialist actions even before Heian - but at least one was formed in 2542, the Raak'ezh Warrior Creche. Many Zealot teams would be sent into human colonies by the Prophets ahead of Covenant invasions to locate and secure Forerunner relics or information pertaining to them, preventing their destruction during the subsequent conflict, and this would be the most common function of the Zealots. Others, such as the Raak'ezh, had much different mission objectives, under thei Sangheili portion of the military high command: the tracking and killing of "Demons", neutralising the threat they posed to the Covenant's plans. Under the command of Field Master Jotu 'Fazhezhee, the Raak'ezh would be immediately deployed, "gifted" a corvette, the Relentless Pursuit, for their exclusive use along with Spirit and Phantom dropships and a small complement of Seraph fighters for assault and defence. Unusually, the creche were also allowed a complement of Huragok, intended to be used for maintenance of the ship and the onboard weapons, vehicles and other equipment, effectively making them totally independent except for food, water and updated information. Ready for battle, eager to hunt down the enemies of the Covenant, the Raak'ezh were deployed with the blessings of the Prophets.
Emerald Cove (2542)
The first deployment of the Raak'ezh would not be as glorious as they had hoped. Boarding a captured UNSC freighter, the Cunning Man, the Raak'ezh would use their Huragok to try to piece together the destroyed navigational core of the ship. While the equipment was far too damaged for a full recovery, they did manage to hack the ship's black box, gaining details of the ship's trajectory and transit time, roughly calculating the point of origin of the ship - the UNSC colony of Emerald Cove. Excited at the discovery of another "infidel" world, the Relentless Pursuit made an immediate slipspace jump, hoping to scout out the planet for invasion.
What they found, however, was not the glorious campaign they had anticipated. The colony had already been largely abandoned years ago by the UNSC, though a few straggler Insurrectionist communities still struggled to survive on the scattered islands, with almost no military presence. Frustrated at the absence of the human military, and the Spartans who improved their potency so, the Relentless Pursuit would bombard the communities with plasma, with Phantom dropship-assisted strike forces hunting down the few survivors. By the time the Raak'ezh left seven days later, Emerald Cove was once again devoid of human life. Lacking the firepower to glass the planet themselves, and unwilling to admit to such a humiliating first deployment, the creche did not contact the Covenant high command to report the presence of a human world - after their departure, Emerald Cove would remain intact until its post-war recolonisation.
Although the Raak'ezh's searches would prove fruitless over the next two years, culminating only in the capture of a few Insurrectionist ships and the glassing of remnant Outer Colonies the UNSC had already abandoned, their second major deployment would be the true start they had been denied - stumbling upon the Battle of Miridem in progress, the Raak'ezh would offer their aid to the local Covenant fleet attacking the planet, hoping that during the course of the action they would be able to locate and kill any local "Demons". Their efforts would be a success - to their total surprise, they would discover the presence of a number of Demons, as well as the actual creator of the SPARTAN-II Program, Doctor Catherine Halsey. Pursuing Halsey and her Spartan escort, Sheila-101, the Raak'ezh reported their actions to Supreme Commander Luro 'Taralumee, expecting only congratulations. To their outrage, 'Taralumee would send a force of his own warriors, led by Major Thel 'Lodamee, killing Sheila and taking Halsey prisoner within a cryonic storage tube.
'Fazhezhee would protest the decision to 'Taralumee, pointing out that he was separate from the Covenant chain of command and had orders that came directly from the Council of Masters to kill Demons, and that as their creator Halsey could be included as one. 'Taralumee would respond that Halsey was more valuable as bait, to lure more Demons into a trap. Although the two certainly shared the same sentiment, they disagreed on exactly how to stage the trap, and how - 'Fazhezhee proposed returning Halsey to the planet, and for his warriors to lie in wait as more Spartans arrived to rescue her. 'Taralumee would reject this in favour of a fleet operation, pointing out that the Spartans would be suspicious of a single human on a planet that was glassed, and that knowing that the Covenant had her they would expect her to be aboard a ship. Outraged further by 'Taralumee's complete, if justified, disregard, 'Fazhezhee would withdraw his offer of their assistance, leaving the combat theatre. Halsey would eventually be rescued by a small Spartan strike group despite the efforts of both 'Taralumee and 'Lodamee, a fact that provided 'Fazhezhee with no end of satisfaction, though the strike group would lose Arthur-079 and Solomon-069.
Frustrated again by their inability to kill a Demon, the Raak'ezh would spend the next two years tracking down UNSC leads, having learnt to leave Insurrectionist targets to the regular military. In the course of their investigations, they would conclude that the UNSC had spaced out its wartime production infrastructure among various planets for compartmentalisation, in order to prevent the Covenant ever destroying any one major part, and they immediately set to work planning an attack on one of these, hoping to select a target that was vulnerable and critical. Their gamble would pay off handsomely, discovering the UNSC's advanced research and development bases on Algolis. Allowing 'Fazhezhee total command of the theatre, an unusual move, the Council of Masters gave them command of two legions, a pair of cruisers, and a complement of special operations troops - they were determined that this battle would not be a lost opportunity. The ground battle would begin flawlessly, with the destruction or capture of much of the ground infrastructure, and the majority of the evacuation transports would be shot down before they could reach safety, rendesvousing with a UNSC frigate in orbit. Only the intervention of a UNSC Marine Engineer using a prototype suit of powered armour turned the tide of the battle enough so that the survivors could escape, and his self-destruction would annihilate half a legion or warriors, the base and its valuable data, and anything else the Raak'ezh had hoped to gain.
However, the real focus of the Raak'ezh was the space battle. Using data captured from the ground campaign, the Relentless Pursuit and two other ships would stand by at preset coordinates, and catch the destroyer UNSC The Heart of Midlothian in a hail of withering but pinpoint fire, knocking out its defences, thrusters, and sensors in precision strikes, with the Raak'ezh sending boarding parties to secure the ship. Having determined the absence of Spartans in the theatre, they planned to board the destroyer, gaining intelligence on the whereabouts of other vital targets, planning to be there to hunt any Spartans that may have been present. Huragok were brought aboard the ship to assist, and Unggoy and Kig-Yar forces patrolled the now otherwise lifeless ship, ensuring that the human crew were completely dead - until a single Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, Michael Baird, managed to activate the ship's AI, who in turn activated the ship's self-destruct sequence, killing the boarding party, destroying several nearby ships, and damaging the Relentless Pursuit.
Humiliated once again by such failure, 'Fazhezhee offered his resignation to the Council of Masters. On the one hand, he had lost a number of ships, and failed to gain any usable data from either Algolis or The Heart of Midlothian, and the creche had yet to fulfill its purpose - the death of Spartan operators. Other groups had already inflicted casualties, killing SPARTAN-II and III, TROJAN, VOLSUNG and other human supersoldiers, albeit at a high cost, and so far the Raak'ezh had yet to take any. At the same time, however, 'Fazhezhee had proven a capable tactician and strategist, and the creche had participated in two successful invasions of human colonies, inflicting thousands of casualties on the enemy. Nevertheless, he was given a warning by the Council of Masters - produce results, and soon, or punishment would be dealt out.
In the history of the Raak'ezh, the Battle of Skopje is ranked as the most momentous because it marked the first successful slaying by the team of UNSC augmented soldiers. While UNSC forces evacuated the colony, the Covenant fleet had begun landing invasion forces to finish the conquest of the planet. UNSC CENTCOM had approved the deployment of several Spartan teams - Indigo and Baselard, from the II and III generations respectively, as well as three VOLSUNG augmented Army Special Forces teams, to sabotage the landing of these forces. Snipers were posted, target designators set up, and coordination with the single orbiting Orbital Defence Platform was prepared to launch a concerted strike, using a ground-detonated HAVOC nuclear warhead to inflict the initial damage and lower the shields of the cruisers and carriers, and a follow-up strike by the platform to deal the killing blow. If successful, the plan would have seen the destruction of a dozen Covenant warships and thousands of warriors, and bought the UNSC time for evacuation efforts.
Unfortunately, they had failed to take into account the presence of the Raak'ezh. Anticipating that the beachhead they had established would be a natural target, the Zealot team had lay in wait as the Spartans and Volsungs readied their attack, gaining a good idea of their position and defences, and launched their attack. Taken by surprise, the human forces were forced on the defensive, losing a large number of Volsung operators in the unexpected attack. Faced with determined warriors, and now with Phantom and Spirit dropship reinforcements en route, Yuri-B413 volunteered to hold off the Zealots long enough for Indigo, Baselard and the surviving Volsungs to plant and arm the HAVOC, holding off the Zealots long enough for the team to reach their Warthog vehicles. Unable to prevent the rest of the force from penetrating the shields of the encampment, they ordered Banshee strafing runs and Wraith artillery, hoping to catch them in the hail of fire. The assault team would lose another three Volsungs, but would succeed in planting the nuclear warhead, evacuating via a massive dropship and gunship airlift operation - detonating the warhead after they had escaped the blast radius, the initial blast would destroy a cruiser, lower the shields of the rest of the battlegroup, and kill thousands of Covenant already on the ground. Orbital bombardment by the platform would completely destroy the surviving ships, leaving the final confirmed kill count in the hundreds of thousands, with the loss of twenty seven Volsung soldiers and Yuri.
Nevertheless, the Raak'ezh had succeeded in its mission - they had killed a Spartan and several Volsungs, losing only two warriors in the process at the hands of Yuri-B413, who was stabbed to death moments after the detonation of the HAVOC warhead. Surviving the blast, but now without a means of extraction, the creche was forced to make their way across the planet on foot to the second landing zone, reuniting with Covenant forces.
- Main article: Operation: HELLSCAPE
Having proven themselves in combat, the Council of Masters assigned the team to the Fleet of Enlightened Benevolence for a secret operation against a UNSC colony world. Unusually, their mission objectives were not to kill Spartans - with the increasing effectiveness of UNSC military forces, casualties had reached a point where the Covenant were forced to withdraw elite specialist teams to fulfill conventional special operations roles. Deployed to the Delta Pavonis theatre of combat, the Raak'ezh were tasked with capturing the administration infrastructure of the colony's capital city, an encapsulated arcology, rather than merely shattering the containment dome and expose the inhabitants to vacuum. Infiltrating through one of the city's maglev tunnel networks, the Zealots completely bypassed Colonial Militia chechpoints and killzones, proceding through the city and staging an assault on city hall. Slaughtering the civilian law enforcement present and rounding up the government officials for interrogation, the creche would also secure several computer terminals, gaining access to the local human communications, misdirecting militia units and coordinating further Covenant invaders, leading to the slaughter of thousands of civilians and militiamen as they tried to evacuate the city. Unable to penetrate the databanks of the system thanks to the efforts of Superintendant-class AI Pendragon, the Raak'ezh requested the presence of their Huragok from the Relentless Pursuit. Ferried to the planet aboard the Phantom dropship Unmatched Purity, the Huragok would be dropped off within the compound amidst tense fighting as militiamen attempted to stage a counteratack to retake the administrative centre.
Effortlessly fending off the attacks, and with no success penetrating the network, the creche decided that eventually the humans would bring heavier firepower to bear and they wouldn't be able to hold the position long, choosing instead to demolish the building, destroying Pendragon and bringing the invasion of the city to a grinding halt. With nothing left to offer, the Covenant simply withdrew their forces and destroyed the city using plasma torpedoes, killing the few remaining civilians and militiamen. Reassigned to pursue the surviving militiamen holding off the Covenant ground forces as they followed the survivors to the mine tunnels they planned to use for safety, the creche would do so with ruthless efficiency, using Phantom gunship strikes to destroy surviving armoured vehicles and insert infantry warriors to harry the enemy. Using their dropships to literally herd the militiamen as they covered the retreat of the civilians, the Raak'ezh would effortlessly slaughter dozens, using their active camouflage to close with the enemy and engage at close quarters, where their sheer size, physical strengtha nd speed, and energy shields gave them the overwhelming advantage. Their focus on the rearguard was fierce and merciless, but it allowed the civilians to reach the mines, where they would establish nearly impenetrable defences using the tunnel networks and drilling equipment to stage a successful guerilla warfare. For all their prowess, even the Raak'ezh could not penetrate, forced to contend with collapsed or flooded tunnels, pockets of gas, and preset explosive mines.
When UNSC reinforcements returned to the system, the Raak'ezh creche were part of the Covenant response force, engaging Marine landing forces and staging assaults against UNSC artillery positions. This battle would also be the second where they faced Indigo Team - as the Spartans defended the entrance to the mines while the civilians were evacuated, the Raak'ezh would respond quickly, hurrying to engage. They would narrowly miss Indigo, who had been redeployed to a relic recovery site, where they and ODST forces would capture valuable materiel and intelligence. With both the UNSC and Covenant withdrawing from the colony, the Raak'ezh would stage one last attack, on the evacuation zone, engaging the remaining Pelicans as Indigo attempted to evacuate. The Raak'ezh would lose seven members, with Indigo safely evacuating - a failure for which it would suffer. Now absent of Forerunner relics or human defenders, the Raak'ezh abandoned the colony, the last Covenant forces to do so.
- Main article: Operation: HOT GATES
Details of the Minorca Campaign, especially from the Covenant perspective, are hard to come by. Nevertheless, the Raak'ezh warrior creche seem to have been present on the planet, the second team to operate independently with their own stealth corvette, evading UNSC sensors and operating independently from the local Covenant chain of command. The Office of Naval Intelligence keeps information pertaining to the year-long campaign, but it is known that a number of SPARTAN-II and III teams, as well as VOLSUNG, TROJAN, AEOLIA and MYRMIDON personnel, took part in the campaign, losing members to Covenant action, and if the Raak'ezh were present then it is probable that at least some of those lost were at their hands. They evidently survived the end of the Minorca campaign, though when they next appear it is in depleted numbers.
- Main article: RP:Losing Hope
The Reek'ezh creche would participate in their last engagement of the war on Hope in the Epidateus system. As with Minorca details of this operation are classif-
War of Vengeance
- Main article: War of Vengeance
The end of the Sangheili's war against the humans, and the collapse of the Covenant, would bring many changes. During the Great Schism, the Raak'ezh would be one of thousands of Covenant military units to denounce the betrayal of the Prophets, declaring a war of retribution against them and their replacements, the Brutes. Nevertheless, events may have proceded in a much different direction - while the Raak'ezh declared themselves the enemies of the Prophets, they argued against the Arbiter's decision to ally with humanity, still regarding them as heretical weaklings not worth such honour. They would not be the only ones to hold such an opinion, and found support among the newly established Sanghelios High Council. Despite fierce protests by the Raak'ezh and members of the anti-human voting block, the Council would vote overwhelmingly to join the humans in their resistance against the Covenant, and continue as military allies against whatever remained of their shared enemy.
As part of the Sangheili/human alliance, the Raak'ezh were redeployed with new orders - to hunt down and capture or kill the Jiralhanae Chieftains that formed the Blood Covenant's power base, crippling their military chain of command. As a light, mobile unit performing small-scale strikes deep behind enemy lines, neither UNSC nor Sangheili sources can accurately determine a precise timeline, though it is estimated that the Raak'ezh were responsible for the deaths of forty nine Chieftains, an impressive number. Maintenance to their ship, the Relentless Pursuit, was performed twice during the conflict, and records show evidence of plasma strike, both on small and large scales, as well as structural weaknesses that required further internal bracings. The Relentless Pursuit would be the last ship repaired at the Morhekan Orbital Shipyards before its destruction by a Blood Covenant fleet.
The only battle at which their presence can be confirmed is at Triumphant Declaration. One of many ships to respond to the unprovoked attack by a Kig-Yar privateer fleet, the Relentless Pursuit emerged from slipspace during the opening plasma salvo, taking heavy damage. Forced to withdraw from combat for fear of destruction, the corvette made an unguided atmospheric landing, effectively a crash, finally taking the Relentless Pursuit out of service. The warriors of the Raak'ezh would ravage enemy Kig-Yar forces, disproportionate even for Sangheili warriors, staging a daring boarding action of a Kig-Yar held Covenant Frigate, the Shield of Valour, claiming it as their own and turning its weapons upon its former allies. The actions of the Raak'ezh during the recapture of the colony would become the stuff of legend, and after the war it would prove a formidable psychological weapon.
Of note is the fact that SPARTAN-III Gamma Company teams sent behind Blood Covenant lines of attack suffered an unusually high mortality rate, with the few teams lost suffering 100% casualties. While some military analysts have argued that their unique Gamma Company augmentations, as well as their relative inexperience, both combined to create such conditions, others have wondered whether the Raak'ezh secretly continued their anti-Spartan operations independent from the Sangheili Armed Forces, or even ordered to do so by members of the SAF who still opposed humanity's status as an ally. Whatever the case, of those teams attacked no survivors were left to corroborate the story, though recovered bodies usually show the hallmarks of plasma weaponry, favoured by the Sangheili but nevertheless still used by the Blood Covenant.
Second Great War
- Main article: Second Great War (Sith'ari/Specops)
With the end of the Second Great War, the Raak'ezh creche found itself in danger of being disbanded. With humanity as an ally of the Sangheili, and a non-aggression pact signed with the New Covenant, the Sangheili were left without a long-term high-priority enemy for its Zealot forces to hunt and attack. Other Zealot units would be deployed in low-intensity conflicts against Sangheili secessionists and in tracking down Jiralhanae chieftains who had escaped both the SAF and the New Covenant, but the Raak'ezh were recalled to Sanghelios for reevaluation - their success during the War of Vengeance had earned them a formidable reputation as Brute-killers, and on a political scene where a Jiralhanae-dominated faction were an enemy that they could not fight outright, their mere existence was still a huge source of propaganda material for the Sangheili. Redeployed in 2563, the Raak'ezh were tasked with hunting down rogue members of the Governors of Contrition, who advocated breaking ties with humanity and still retained much of the Prophets' dogma.
Instead, the SAF would be shocked by the Raak'ezh's defection to the Governors, and their renewed declaration of humanity as an enemy of the Gods. The exact reasons for this defection are disputed: some historians claim that it was motivated by the creche's continued dishonour from the Human-Covenant War and their failure to kill Spartans that were within their reach, supported by their actions during the ensuing hostilities - tracking down a variety of Spartan-II and III teams, especially Indigo, Baselard and Kukri, as well as several Gamma Company units, and the deaths of Spartans in action against the Raak'ezh would be the first casualties of humanity's involvement in the Second Great War. Others insist that it was theologically motivated and that, while the Raak'ezh detested the Prophets themselves, they still held much of their religious teachings to be true, mistrusting revalations made by humanity or the Arbiter. Regardless of their motivations, now under the Governors of Contrition the creche would be rapidly expanded to almost a hundred, given more resources to pursue their quarry, and redeployed against the enemies of the New Covenant puppet government.
Tau Ceti (2565)
The overwhelming assault of the New Covenant on Tau Ceti would include the Raak'ezh warrior creche. While records list the creche as being "deployed" by the Governors, a better word would be "unleashed" - finally able to return to their Spartan-killer roots, the Raak'ezh would furiously storm UNSC military barracks in the orbital shipyards, slaughtering UNSC Marines and soldiers in their hunt for local Spartan forces. They would succeed in their mission, finding and engaging Gamma Company units on the platforms as they attempted to withdraw, Falcata Team would give their lives covering the withdrawal of an unwilling Fauchard Team, killing more than seventeen Raak'ezh Zealots but eventually succumbing to a hail of fire. Kukri Team, present in the combat theatre, requested permission from local CENTCOM to break off their own evacuation operations, leaving it to Army troopers, and engage the Raak'ezh creche, arguing that their continued presence constituted a force multiplyer. Their request was denied, much to Kukri's irritation, but it would serve their purpose - triangulating their position, but unable to translate the human communique, the Raak'ezh would converge on Kukri. Rather than a small fireteam-size unit of Gamma Spartans, however, they would encounter a heavily armed and experienced group of seven Beta Spartans, fending off the attack while taking only one casualty, the wounder Jennifer-B313, drawing the creche's attention long enough for two corvettes to evacuate top UNSC researchers from the shipyards.
Continuing their relentless pursuit, the Raak'ezh would give chase as Kukri withdrew from the facility, leaving demolitions charges in their wake, narrowly avoiding the blast as the Spartans detonated the facility in the dual hope of destroying valuable intelligence and killing their attackers. Pursuing in Phantom dropships, the creche would harrass their dropship until it entered the frigate UNSC ANZAC Spirit - and confronted the ship with their own ship, the Shield of Valour, hoping to halt their retreat long enough to board. With the two ships trading blows, the creche's dropships attempted to board, but were repelled by Claymore fighters and CIWS turrets. Heavily damaged, the ANZAC Spirit entered slipspace, following a random vector in a revival of the Cole Protocol, losing the creche. Frustrated at losing more Spartans, despite their success against Falcata team, the creche would continue with cleanup operations in the system, slaughtering the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen unlucky enough to be left behind.
Straw Man's War (2565-2567)
Believing the UNSC to be crippled, the next two years would be used by the Governors of Contrition to hammer the SAF's defences, ignoring humanity. The Raak'ezh, however, disagreed with the Governors' position, arguing that as long as there were Spartans still alive humanity would pose a threat to their goals and very existence. Their words would prophetic later, but during this period they were uncharacteristically restrained by the Governors', who used them against Sangheili targets - warlords who defied the SAF would rally to their banner, while those who refused the advances of either found themselves enemies in both factions. During these two years, the creche would murder seven high profile warlords, intimidating some into joining the Governors or driving others into the arms of the SAF.
That isn't to say that they did not encounter any Spartans. Operations on Divine Clarity would lead the Governors to New Basra, supposedly a UNSC staging ground - in actuality, one large trap. With the New Covenant fleet engaging UNSC and Sangheili naval forces, the creche were launched groundside in the hope of annihilating ground commanders. Instead, they would run headlong into the combined forces of Indigo, Kukri and Fauchard teams, the two groups hammering the creche until they could be evacuated. Fauchard would lose one member, Michael-G111, to enemy fire, but the two combined teams would inflict sixteen casualties, a devastating loss for the life of only one "demon." Forced to withdraw, the Governors would wipe the event from their records, deeming it a humiliating defeat - the Raak'ezh creche would take the defeat personally, devoting themselves to finding and killing Indigo, Fauchard and Kukri teams in the future.
The Battle of Perhab would be considered a major tactical victory for the Raak'ezh warrior creche and the larger Fleet of Penitent Embrace that supported it - the destruction of the orbiting UNSC battlegroup and subsequent invasion would result in the deaths of thousands of UNSC sailors and Marines, all stationed on the Unggoy Star Empire colony to protect the Unggoy presence on the planet. Deemed a vital target by the Governors, it was a major mining and manufacture centre for the fledgling Unggoy empire, and with UNSC support the colony may have become a centre of Unggoy industrial power. As such, the Governors sought to deny this asset to the UNSC and to intimidate the Unggoy into neutrality. Better still, intelligence gained indicated the presence of Demons - SPARTAN-III Anelace Team. Deployed alongside the fleet, the Raak'ezh would first destroy the space elevator terminal with antimatter charges, and then engage UNSC ground forces. Taking Anelace by surprise, the Spartans would give their lives defending Unggoy personnel desperately trying to send a distress call to UNSC, USE or SAF space - the call would not be sent, as the creche slaughtered the work crews. Hoping to send a signal to the Unggoy, the fleet would glass much of the planet, carving heretical runes upon its surface and desecrating places deemed sacred to the Unggoy.
While it did deny the UNSC and Unggoy the mineral wealth of Perhab, it also had the unintended side-effect of rousing the Unggoy. Finally determined to show their former masters that they could no longer be bullied, the USE would declare a state of war against the New Covenant and the Governors of Contrition, raising both militia and professional military forces to fight against their new enemies. Although often equipped with second-hand weaponry and armour, and using out-of-date human and Covenant warships, the Unggoy would prove to be a devastatingly potent force, using their sheer strength of numbers to overwhelm the Governors' forces. Drawn into the war by the Unggoy, even the Brotherhood of Ruskt would also enter the war, using better equipment and armour but in significantly lesser numbers. Ultimately, the Battle of Perhab would be deemed the worst mistake of the Second Great War, perhaps their ultimate death-stroke.
Illuminated Majesty (2568)
The entry of the Brotherhood of Ruskt and the Unggoy Star Empire into the conflict would radically change the military plans of the Governors. Neither group had been expected to enter the conflict, even taking into account the unprovoked attack on the Unggoy colony of Perhab, and forced the Governors to devote resources that would normally be used against the UNSC and SAF to countering attacks by the Brotherhood and the USE. Fortunately for the Raak'ezh creche, they were not part of this restructuring, and would continue to participate in strikes against Sangheili dissidents and hitting SAF leadership, including the daring assassination attempt to kill Arbiter Thel 'Vadam in 2568.
A SAF defector had also brought with him valuable information pertaining to SAF battle plans, including the schedule of the Arbiter, who would be visiting the Illuminated Majesty staging area and colony to bolster local morale and rally troops intended to strike deep and hard into Governor-controlled territory. acting on this information, the Governors launched a massive fleet to strike the colony, hoping to crush the offensive and kill the Arbiter, dealing a potentially crippling blow to the SAF. As part of this, Chieftain Tiberius personally requested the presence of the Raak'ezh creche. Although irritated at being placed under the command of a Jiralhanae, the Raak'ezh nevertheless took part in the battle, and would insert covertly, bypassing the SAF orbital defence grid using captured clearance codes. Once on the ground, the frigate was landed and stealthed with the creche making their way to the Arbiter's location in dropships. At first believing them to be part of the SAF buildup, the local defences nevertheless grew suspicious, and opened fire on the dropships - inserting the Zealots into the heart of the colony's capital, the dropships would procede to hammer the anti-air artillery pieces with plasma cannons as the Zealots cut their way through a SAF legion. Halted by the R'runu Warrior Creche under Ultra Qur'a 'Morhek, the creche would be helpless to prevent the Arbiter's evacuation to a nearby cruiser, and were forced to withdraw. With the city's AA defences down, however, the city would be destroyed by plasma bombardment as the New Covenant fleet arrived, engaging the SAF fleet and striking ground targets in the wake of invasion. The Raak'ezh would continue to fight on the planets surface during the invasion, and when the SAF finally withdrew they were involved in the execution of units left behind, brutally killing those unfortunate enough to be left behind, as they had done at Tau Ceti to human stragglers.
Second Battle of Cloistering Expectancy (2569)
The First Battle of Cloistering Expectancy, during the War of Vengeance, had been over the local Huragok population, which had been killed by Sangheili forces in 2558. Afterwards, it would become a rallying point for the Huragok, and an ideological focal point for the savant-like creatures - a symbol of their servitude to the Covenant. Depopulated earlier, repopulation efforts were made by several groups, with some assistance from the UNSC, and by 2564 it had once again become home to a small Huragok population, which set about uncovering the original reason the planet had been inhabited - a Forerunner structure. Ostensibly, the UNSC Army garrison was present to ensure the Huragok could survive on their own, and prevent further attacks. In fact, the soldiers were there to observe the uncovered artefact, record anything of note, and ensure that the Huragok's work remained uninterrupted. The effort was kept a secret from SAF allies, a fact that the Huragok appreciated.
But even the UNSC's security countermeasures were not enough to stop the Governors of Contrition from learning of its existence, and in 2569 they deployed a battlegroup to the planet to claim the Huragok and the relic they tended to. The orbiting UNSC battlegroup engaged the intruders, holding the enemy off long enough for reinforcements to arrive in the form of a second battlegroup - carrying Kukri Team. Sent groundside to deal with any New Covenant ground forces, Kukri would once again run into the Raak'ezh creche, waging a pitched battle for the structure. Kukri member Oliver-B112 would lose his life in an ambush, the last Spartan to fall to the hands of the Raak'ezh - the victory of the UNSC in orbit would see the Governors' forces retreat. Forced to withdraw, the creche's frigate performed an emergency pass over the ground forces, hoping that the dropships would be able to dock in time, a hope that was foiled by a THOR strike from the Ajax-Class Heavy Frigate in orbit. Losing more than half of their members in the strike, the survivors scattered across the battlefield by the blast, only a handful of members reached the safety of the ship - the rest of the Zealot force were hunted down by gunship forces, and by the vengeful Kukri team. The Shield of Valour would be hit by MAC strikes while leaving the planet's atmosphere, crippling the ship as it entered slipspace. The remnants of the creche were the last to leave the combat theatre, and afterwards a UNSC fleet would enter the system, making an attack impractical.
Hunters Hunted (2570)
Officially, historians regard their devastating defeat at Cloistering Expectancy to be the end of the Raak'ezh warrior creche. Nevertheless, the few members who had survived were deemed by both UNSC HIGHCOM and the Sangheili High Council to constitute an unacceptable threat to the security of either faction. Worse still for the Raak'ezh, the catastrophic defeat of the New Covenant during the events of the Labyrinth Nexus had shattered the Governors of Contrition, both militarily and ideologically - the loss of their largest fleet at the hands of those they assumed to be their gods was a blow that they could not recover from, and even an offensive in the Unggoy-controlled Qari sector could not return them to the path of victory. Subsequent offensives by the combined Allied Powers, notably the UNSC's Operation: ECHO and the combined invasion of Victorious Avowal and its reoccupation by the True Covenant, would further shatter the Governors. By 2572, the New Covenant was falling apart without Allied pressure, with fractures occuring almost weekly. In this time of fragmentation, the UNSC feared that the former leaderrs of the Raak'ezh would be able to cobble together a loyalist following, reforming their old creche and staging desperate strikes against Spartan forces. They struck first.
Codenamed Operation: EQUUS, two Beta Company SPARTAN-III teams used a captured New Covenant corvette to infiltrate the remnant of Governor space. Using old contacts among the Kig-Yar from the War of Vengeance, Baselard and Kukri Teams would locate the surviving members of the Raak'ezh creche and target them for destruction. Major Use 'Veltash was killed in his home, the Spartans storming the complex. Field Marshall Frath 'Klorvatem was assassinated during operations against Brotherhood of Ruskt invaders on the Unparalleled Might staging ground, the Spartans inserting covertly and avoiding all contact with Brotherhood troops altogether, extracting unnoticed by the Jiralhanae faction. A dozen others were similarly tracked down and killed, the last remnants of a once-glorious Sangheili combat unit. The last member, the commanding officer Jothu 'Fazhezh, was killed by Kukri team leader Liam-B306, finally avenging the death of Oliver-B112. With his death, no survivors remained of the elite Spartan-killing unit that had earned such fame and infamy - the Raak'ezh warrior creche.
The existence of elite Spartan-hunter teams would serve as a warning to the UNSC that even their most elite supersoldier units were not invulnerable. Attacks by Zealot groups against SPARTAN-III operators would provide further incentive for ONI to scale up production of MJOLNIR powered armour for assignment to Gamma Company, the first S-III unit to be given the advanced powered armour from their first deployment, trained in their use by SPARTAN-II members. Certainly the use of MJOLNIR dramatically improved their survival ratio, at the same time preventing ONI from deploying them as simple fire-and-forget weapons at high value enemy targets - the Raak'ezh unintentionally made the younger Spartans too valuable to waste, and their deployment was in significant numbers, well armed and equipped, and reinforced by UNSC Navy, Marine or Army reinforcements.
The existence of the Raak'ezh creche and other similar units was never declassified. The admission of Spartan deaths, and the success such enemy units enjoyed, would have been absolutely devastating to the UNSC from a propaganda perspective. Nevertheless, rumours of their existence and operations they took part in would circulate among UNSC personnel. By the end of the war, they had achieved a status normally reserved for ghosts, or gremlins - few believed they existed, but many feared that they did. ONI did nothing to discourage these notions, finding them useful for their own purposes.
Opinions on the Raak'ezh are mixed among the Sangheili. On the one hand, they were an extraoprdinarily successful Zealot group, claiming the lives of at least seven SPARTAN-III personnel, not to mention unconfirmed kills, as well as TROJAN, VOLSUNG and AEOLIA victims, all considered by Sangheili to be extremely worthy foes. On the other hand, their betrayal of the SAF, and renewed campaign against the Spartans even after the UNSC/SAF alliance, is regarded as an intolerable act of shame. Before their betrayal, plans had been drawn up by high-ranking military commanders to reform the Zealot creche into a full legion of five thousand warriors - such plans were abandoned as the Raak'ezh defected to the Governors of Contrition.
The Raak'ezh are generally remembered among Unggoy as the perpetrators of the attack on Perhab, their first and most important colony since the foundation of the Unggoy Star Empire. The deaths of Anelace Team at their hands while protecting desperate Unggoy calling for help would be remembered for a long time, and cement diplomatic and military relations between the UNSC and USE during the war, until the start of the UNSC-USE Cold War. Even after their destruction, the Raak'ezh would still be considered examples of the arrogant contempt most Sangheili displayed during the Unggoy's years in the Covenant, and even long after its fracture, souring relations between the USE and SAF.
- Jothu ‘Fazhezhee
- Frath ‘Klorvatemee
- "Kind of ironic that they only ever killed one Spartan during the war when they were our enemy, and after the Elites made peace with us they killed so many more."
- "They can't seem to decide what they are. Are they SpecOps? Are they Spartan killers? Are they infiltrators? They seem to do all three, but the Covenant and then the Elites formed specialist teams for each function. I guess that's what happens when you give a bunch of religious warriors unfettered authority."
- "Most of their victims were Gamma Company members, just deployed - kids. No wonder Kukri and Baselard went after them with such a vengeance."
- "As they hunt, so are they hunted. Demons are wily prey, and more often than not escape our blades. But they are persistent, and they are skilled, and they are vengeful."