"You must now decide to surrender to fate - or resist and strive to persist. Myself, I choose to fight."
―Xytan 'Jar Wattinree, rallying the Sangheili at the beginning of the Great Schism.
With his imposing appearance and legendary tales which commanded worship from those under his command, Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree (Oracle Code: S18-T2131-7) seemed to have been destined to become one of the greatest Sangheili to live in recent years. A legendary figure whose true origins remained illusive to most, Xytan would exhibit extraordinary talent in administration and fleet command, which would reward him when he received the highest rank within the Covenant military. However, it was his charisma and later reformist mindset which would make him a considerable threat to the Hierarchs' power; coupled with his stance on the destruction of humanity, Xytan stood as the single-greatest being capable of inheriting a united Covenant. Only killed following the accidental detonation of a NOVA bomb, Xytan still remains an intensely-studied individual, with historians debating about his effect of galactic history for decades afterward.
Enrolling into the Covenant military in 2461 as per Sangheili custom, Xytan would endure the initiation-by-fire that was the Unggoy Rebellion. Despite not being tied by blood to any of the prominent families at the time, Xytan would rise through the ranks on skill and talent alone. He would subjugate the Yonhet and Jiralhanae, using these successes to spread his influence across the Covenant's dominion. However, he would steadily encounter resistance from both existing military commanders and the Prophets. As a result, he would slowly build up his political influence until finally he was chosen to lead the Covenant fleets in the upcoming genocide. However, while his mounting successes would earn him the highest rank the military had to offer, he would find his power threatened by the rise of the Prophet-backed Thel 'Vadamee. Finally exiled following Thel's strategic victory at Psi Serpentis, Xytan would be destined to patrol the Covenant frontier for the rest of his days. He used his time here to create his own fiefdom, building up until he could one day rise up against the Covenant. Fortunately for humanity, Xytan would perish before his plans would be completed, leaving the rest of the Covenant to fight over the remains of his once-formidable empire.
"[Saying that Xytan's upbringing] is an interesting topic is nothing less than an tremendous understatement, human. Up-starting Field Masters have a desire to learn much about him, to interpret his history to give them even a glimpse of his talents. Yet his upbringing is a curious topic, with even veteran archivists unsure of his exact origins - I cannot say if it was because of the destruction of the Covenant, or if it was a feat that was deliberate on his part."
―Sangheili Kaidon-turned-historian Zuva 'Dahom.
Even before the destruction of the Ascetics archives aboard High Charity, Xytan's upbringing was a difficult enigma to solve. Contrary to the plaque displayed before his statue in the Hall of Legends on Sanghelios, Covenant records cannot confirm that a 'Xytan of 'Wattinr Lineage' even exists within the birthdate given by his Oracle Code. Hundreds of clans across almost a dozen colonies claim otherwise, no doubt in an attempt to attract tourist revenue and fighters to assist in their efforts. Their stories on his childhood range from believable to outright absurd - for example, it's unlikely that Xytan originated as an adopted offspring of a thorn beast, who was accepted by the Sangheili clan despite having devoured dozens of missing youngsters. Some Ascetics have moved even further, cross-referencing children who disappeared before 'Xytan' first enrolled into the Covenant military. There are three stories that hold the most credibility among historians, although all have their contradictions that make it difficult to separate truth from fiction.
One of the skulls that the young Xytan supposedly carried when he first arrived in the clan.
The first originates from the relatively-young Sangheili colony known as Whispering Trees, from the 'Chekarv clan. They acknowledged the young Xytan wasn't raised there, having run from his family in the west. Brandishing a collection of animal skulls, they knew the boy had talent and brought him in, and allowed him to be trained by their most veteran warrior - the tyrannical Kaidon himself. He quickly became a star pupil, routinely beating his jealous peers into submission through his unconventional fighting style; in human terms, he was described fighting like a snake than a Sangheili. Eventually, his ambition and skills began to rival that of his master, unnerving him. To maintain his position, he allowed Xytan to become the youngest warrior to undergo the Trials of 'Nevamd, a rite of passage in which the warriors must recover a Lekgolo eel within the Citadel of Nebrask, home to a particularly-aggressive colony of Thranolekgolo. As soon as Xytan entered, the Kaidon ordered for explosives to blow up the exits, trapping his student within a mountain of rubble.
Xytan would supposedly be saved days later, when a grieving father, worried about how his son had never returned, journeyed up into the ruins and sifted through the rubble. Shockingly, Xytan was not only found to be alive, but had killed the gestalt completely by crushing it within a collapsed tunnel. Secretly nursed back to health, the boy would swear revenge. However, he knew that he was no match for his former mentor, and once again left his clan to fight new opponents in competitions and gather allies. Spending the time to gather master-crafted blades and armour, he would return almost three years later, again alone - most of those approached believed that it was little more than a suicide mission. After a couple of hours, he would emerge from the fortress with the head of the Tyrant. While the Kaidons of the lower keeps offered to reward him, Xytan declined. Instead, he marched away, desiring greater challenges.
Joining the Covenant
"I am the best in my class, I have proven to be unbeatable even compared to my seasoned instructors. And you must know I am on the skill of seasoned warriors. You should be in awe."
―Xytan, before his fateful duel with his future mentor.
However Xytan was truly brought up, he nevertheless joined the Covenant military on May 24th, 2459. He was immediately mocked by most of the Sangheili around him, who made fun at his lack of a clan name and his inability to discuss where he came from. The young adult endured these insults and applied the negative energy into his productive studies, beating his rivals into submission whenever he was ordered to duel with the others - which was regularly. He quickly became known as the very best student in his class, attracting the ire of the noble-born who trained their entire lives to fight and never seeming to make an attempt at making allies. On several occasions he was ambushed in dishonourable theatres as they grouped up to teach him a lesson. It was said he won these too, notably using shivs made out of glass and metal and dirty coward-attacks to beat them off. In the end, he was left alone, having earned the title 'Zaduma'Vil' (English translation: unpunished or unworthy lump of wood) or even 'the Jiralhanae.'
The duel between Ascetic 'Prowattinree and trainee Xytan was a vicious affair.
Eventually, Xytan would be noticed by the senior instructors at his academy, who tried to bring him into adulthood by adopting him into their clan. Xytan would reject all of these requests, finding that he wants to have as little to do with his own species as possible. This would attract the attention of Brother Ascetic Adul 'Prowattinree, a warrior-scribe who frequently joins the military on campaigns to receive a detailed list of a unit's history, who happened to be searching for new recruits into the Ascetic Guard. Noticing Xytan's early progress and his remarkable ability to defeat even his older instructors, Adul would watch him with great interest. In 2461, he would finally make his move by proposing a duel with Xytan: if Adul wins, Xytan must serve under his command for as long as he sees fit and adopt Adul's clan as his own. If Xytan wins, Adul will make him a private operatives of the Hierarchs themselves - a condition that Adul knew he couldn't fulfil. Accepting, the two would engage in a brief but vicious fight being watched by the entire academy. Originally, it was Xytan who was winning, putting the older warrior on the back-foot as he broke through his pitiful defence. However, after the clash, Adul seemed to wake up, parrying each of Xytan's blows effortlessly and sweeping the Sangheili to the floor. As he brought down his final blow, Xytan rolled out of the way, threw down his Curveblade, and keeled, saying he accepted Adul's offer. Putting away his blade and helping Xytan up, Adul accepted Xytan's submission.
"You are right, Xytan. My fellow Hierarchs do not recognise the threat these Demons represent - but I will not sit idly in the face of such a menance. As our fleets advance, more Demons will doubtlessly be sighted - and we must be ready. You recognise that by denying them their greatest weapon, the only tool that's dangerous to our Covenant, it will only guarantee our victory."
―The Prophet of Regret, granting 'Wattinree's proposal.
Even before the loss of the vital shipyards at Unsparing Profer, 'Wattinree was already harbouring some concern for the battlefield threat that the Covenant called "Demons, but the incident immediately verified them. Despite already using his already-powerful intelligence network to identify and track them, they had never appeared in such numbers to warrant consideration in his tactics, nor did they ever attack such a core part of his fleet's logistics. As a result, he was forced to begin seriously working out contingency plans in case a Demon is present while his forces regrouped, though their lack of information would continuously thwart his attempts. Because of this, he sent an official submission to the Hierarchs requesting the creation of a dedicated force aimed at studying, eliminating and even capturing these threats. It would unfortunately be dismissed; Mercy believed that their threat was blown out of proportion, while Truth was astonished at the sheer manpower he requested. Only Regret was silent on the matter.
'Wattinree was in the middle of reorganising his forces to independently to achieve such objectives when Regret arranged a meeting with him. Regret announced that he would secretly approve his request; while Regret claimed that it was based on his agreement on the Demon threat, 'Wattinree privately believed that the San'Shyuum wished to get back at Truth for his humiliation following the Rubble Incident.
"He had never been defeated in battle. He had never failed at any task, no matter what the challenge. He was never wrong."
Quite possibly the greatest threat presented to Xytan's power and influence, Thel 'Vadamee was a noble-born Sangheili who represented a considerable thorn in his side. Maintaining a stance as a very well-disciplined and focused warrior, Thel was best known for his unpredictable tactics that could on both the battlefield and the larger strategic map. This has made him extremely effective on the battlefield, breaking through even heavily-fortified worlds that gave Xytan trouble.
"Your empty words mean nothing to me Fleet Master - you are no true warrior. In my eyes you are nothing but a child playing dress up with our Covenant's hardware, for they are the only incompetent souls that would waste so much time and effort on this... Pitiful excuse of a fortress. You are worth less to me than my lowliest Minor, for even they know that time not spent fighting or destroying your enemies will only make you weak. Think of my words as you may, but if you want my respect, you will consider them law."
―Xytan humiliates Toru in front of his underlings.
Toru as a Fleet Master.
Before Toru's exile, Xytan only ever considered him an interesting curiosity. He mused that Toru was similar to himself in his youth; despite his poor family standing, he used his talents and opportunities given to him to ascend through the ranks of the Covenant military, and possessed a keen strategic mind. However, what set him apart was his ambition, which he correctly predicted may eventually allow him to become a threat to the Hierarches if he continues his current path. However, because of their massive difference in rank and experience, Xytan never considered him an equal and paid little attention to his progress.
It was not until Toru was promoted and exiled in 2547 that he began to seriously investigate him. While his ambition worried Xytan, as he learned that he would betray close friends if it guaranteed advancement, he saw him as a potential successor he could mould to his will. He admired his ability to turn what was a lax pirate haven on his doorstep into a well-patrolled and protected empire. He even restructured his forces to promote talent over political connections. This was all the more shocking when Xytan finally met with him on Iradu; he appeared content with his position, attempted to buy Xytan's favour with gifts and carefully-chosen words and lacked anything in the way of a backbone to challenge his critiques. Xytan immediately lost all faith in the idea that the Sangheili he met who would carry on his revolutionist work, yet his power and past meant that the Imperial Admiral took the precaution of installing spies within Toru's Covenant to inform him of his every action; a difficult operation given Toru's paranoia. However, Xytan wrongly believed that the Fleet Master would side with him should a rebellion take place. This underestimation of his mindset saw nothing being done to prepare himself in the case that Toru would rebel, though the placement of a spy close to his inner circle negated such a concern.