The Swords of Sanghelios are a break-away faction of the Covenant, led by the Sangheili. It was officially founded after they learned the truth about the Halo Installations near the end of the Battle of Installation 05 in November 2552. The Separatists no longer look to the Prophets for leadership, and thus have no defined leadership save for the surviving Councilors, although Arbiter Thel' Vadam and a few other head Sangheili, such as Rtas 'Vadum and Xytan 'Jar Wattinree hold positions of power within their ranks.
In November 2552, the Prophet of Truth had the entire Sangheili species removed from their former position and replaced by the Jiralhanae as the Covenant's main military caste, resulting in an open war breaking out between the Jiralhanae-led forces loyal to the Prophets against the Sangheili-led forces. After the Sangheili learned the truth about the Halos near the end of the Battle of Installation 05, many of them allied with humanity on their mission to stop the Prophet-led Covenant. The Sangheili initially lacked defined leadership or organization after being cast out of the Covenant. Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum led a significant number of their forces in the deciding battles of the war, although Thel 'Vadam would not formally establish the Swords until after the war's end. After the Covenant's defeat, the Sangheili split off into various different factions, with the Arbiter and his policy of cooperating with humanity retaining a solid following. However, many Sangheili disagreed with his ideals, planning to overthrow the Arbiter and rise against humanity. In the wake of the Covenant War, the Swords of Sanghelios are often viewed as representing the Sangheili on the whole in their diplomatic relations with humanity. Even though the Swords seek to distance themselves from the Covenant ideologically and culturally, some humans have mistakenly referred to them as "the Covenant".
The first Swords of Sanghelios were a sworn brotherhood of kaidons dedicated to the overthrow of a tyrannical Arbiter judge-king who ruled the continent of Qivro centuries before the Sangheili became a spacefaring species. Their story of brotherhood, loyalty, honor, and sacrifice continues to resonate among the Sangheili. The last incarnation of the organization prior to its current existence appeared in the tumultuous aftermath of the Covenant's formation to bring the last holdouts to the Writ of Union to heel.
The High Prophet of Regret led a badly planned mission to Earth, against the wishes of the High Prophet of Truth, and inadvertently began the Battle of Earth, as he did not know that the planet was the human homeworld. He escaped to Installation 05, where he was assassinated by John-117. Regret's death was used as a justification by the remaining Prophets to replace the Sangheili with Jiralhanae as their protectors. However, this move resulted in great turmoil within the Covenant, with the Sangheili threatening to resign from the High Council. Truth then gave command of the Covenant fleets to the Jiralhanae, a post previously held by the Sangheili. Once there were enough of them in place, Truth secretly ordered them to commit a vicious genocide of the Sangheili (disguised as a retaliation to a Sangheili revolt against the other Covenant factions) so they may replace them in society. The Sangheili responded, with the help of Mgalekgolo and Unggoy loyal to them, and war broke out in High Charity with Jiralhanae and Sangheili fleets fighting each other in space around it. Later, most of the Sangheili Councilors were assassinated by the Jiralhanae at the behest of the Prophets. An initial Sangheili-led rebellion group was formed by the Sangheili Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree on the Sangheili fortress world Joyous Exultation shortly after the Prophets' betrayal on November 3, 2552. Wattinree's faction remained hostile to humanity as well, dispatching a task force to Onyx to prevent Forerunner technology from falling into human hands. However, this fledgling alliance came to an abrupt end with the detonation of a NOVA bomb above Joyous Exultation and the deaths of the majority of the Sangheili leaders gathered there, including Wattinree.
Once the Great Schism had begun, the entirety of the Sangheili species had left the Covenant. The ejected Sangheili did not have an official unified faction at this time, however they were unified in their fight against the Covenant that had betrayed them. Many Unggoy remained loyal towards the Sangheili when the Great Schism erupted, as did some Mgalekgolo. Within the ejected Sangheili, the forces under the command of Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum chose to ally with their former foes, the humans. The true political motivation of this shaky-to-steady alliance was forged out of necessity and revenge against the Covenant to some extent. The UNSC forces were on the defensive, and both factions had two common enemies that wished for their extinction: the Covenant and the Flood. The alliance of circumstance was forged in the control room of Delta Halo, when UNSC Sergeant Major A. J. Johnson and 'Vadam were coerced to unite in order to prevent Tartarus, Chieftain of the Jiralhanae, from activating Installation 05. After that, 'Vadam persuaded the rest of the Sangheili on the installation to join humanity. While the two factions experienced some friction, they learned to work with one another for their mutual survival. During the final days of the Human-Covenant War, the Sangheili under 'Vadam and 'Vadum's command fought alongside humans in battle and saved each other from destruction. The devastated UNSC Home Fleet defending Earth were glad to accept the help of the superior Sangheili warships. The Sangheili's numbers, understanding of Covenant equipment, and combat tactics proved invaluable in the Battle of Installation 00 and the survival of humanity. Recurrently the heroes of the battle, Thel 'Vadam and John-117, fought alongside one another many times in the desperate conflict.
After the Covenant's defeat at the end of the war, the ejected Sangheili split off into several different factions. The Arbiter and his followers formally established the Swords of Sanghelios, primarily as an alliance of keeps aligned with 'Vadam. The Swords remained friendly to humanity and wished to build a mutual peace, as they both had made tremendous sacrifices in order to stop Truth and the Covenant forces. On their homeworld, however, they were challenged by a resurgent faction of religious fanatics known as the Servants of the Abiding Truth. They viewed the Swords as "blasphemers" and began an insurrection, secretly supported by the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence, all the while resuming the Great Schism against the Jiralhanae in a two-front war. The Abiding Truth managed to gather a large amount of followers in a relatively short timespan; while the faction had a strong religious underpinning, many Sangheili had more practical motives for allying against the Arbiter, among them resentment toward humanity. Meanwhile, 'Vadam planned to visit each state to make his case for permanent peace with the humans they had battled for so many years. These reforms did not meet with universal approval. By January 2553, there was great dissent among disparate Sangheili factions, especially from the more devout believers in the Forerunners' divinity.
The Blooding Years
Avu Med 'Telcam, leader of the Servants of Abiding Truth, decided that an immediate assault on the state of Vadam was necessary. Along with nine ships and forces from Nuan keep and Rtova keep, 'Telcam commanded the assault from the frigate Unflinching Resolve. Eventually, however, the Unflinching Resolve suffered a direct hit and crash landed, though most of the crew, including 'Telcam, survived. Despite being caught off-guard it appeared as though the Swords of Sanghelios would be victorious, however, news spread that he allowed humans to land on Sanghelios; this caused many keeps to ally with the Servants of Abiding Truth and the tide turned in their favor. The Arbiter was caught off guard and when his own reinforcements couldn't arrive on time, he reluctantly accepted Admiral Terrence Hood's offer for help in fending off the attackers. The tide turned when UNSC Infinity arrived over Sanghelios and destroyed the rebel destroyer Defender of Faith before finishing off the rebel ground forces with a MAC round. The UNSC Port Stanley, posed as a Kig-Yar pirate ship, destroyed a few of 'Vadam's ships in order to maintain the stalemate between the two factions, leaving the Arbiter with a Pyrrhic victory. After the battle, Thel 'Vadam was in talks to visit the UNSC Infinity while 'Telcam retreated to New Llanelli until he would be able to convince more keeps to join his cause. At some point, the CCS-class battlecruiser Pious Inquisitor fell into the hands of the Abiding Truth. In turn, Kig-Yar pirate Sav Fel stole the Inquisitor, with the intentions to sell it on Venezia. With 'Vadam occupied with the ongoing civil war, Kilo-Five was tasked with retrieving the Inquisitor with the purpose of reverse-engineering its energy projector for use against Sangheili-controlled worlds, though the ship was ultimately destroyed. In spite of the outbreak of civil war on Sanghelios, Thel 'Vadam was able to sway the majority of Sangheili colonies to join with the Swords of Sanghelios. Over the next six years, the Sangheili continued to wage war against the remaining San'Shyuum and the Jiralhanae. At first, the Sangheili were at a major disadvantage, as millennia of depending on the San'Shyuum for technology meant that the Sangheili were unable to properly repair or replace the ships they lost in battle. The odds began to even out when the San'Shyuum vanished and the Jiralhanae began to fall back into internecine conflicts. In addition to the conflict with the Jiralhanae, the Swords of Sanghelios also engaged Jul 'Mdama's Covenant in hostilities, which saw the flagship Shadow of Intent rendered combat ineffective.
In March 2558, the Swords of Sanghelios attempted peace talks with the Jiralhanae chieftain Lydus and his clan on Ealen IV. Thel 'Vadam, with several Sangheili escorts, led the negotiations. Admiral Terrence Hood volunteered to moderate the talks between the two factions. However, the meeting was interrupted by a surprise attack by Covenant mercenaries under the command of Shipmaster Vata 'Gajat. Captain Thomas Lasky, Commander Sarah Palmer, and the Spartan-IVs defended the delegation and evacuated them from the chamber. When their evacuation ship was destroyed, the security detail proceeded to escort the delegates to a nearby parts depot. Inside the repair depot, 'Vadam notified Hood and the rest of an old fortified redoubt in which they could take refuge in. Captain Lasky ordered Palmer and the protection detail to escort the delegation to the redoubt. As the party escaped the depot, they were intercepted by a Covenant Lich. Palmer quickly acted and threw her helmet filled with grenades and destroyed the Lich. The delegation stayed back as Fireteam Jackknife and their bodyguards went ahead to ensure the redoubt was safe for them to use as shelter. However, as the delegates entered the redoubt, Spartan Scruggs of Fireteam Jackknife had killed the Sangheili and Jiralhanae escorts and ambushed the group, holding Hood hostage. 'Vadam queried Scruggs on what his demands were; Scruggs stated that they would discuss them once his associates arrived. With the Covenant bearing on the site in force, the ambassadors' security detail discovered a craft they could use to evacuate. Thanks to the sacrifices of Fireteam Bailey, the delegation, Lasky and the surviving Spartans made it aboard Infinity, which rallied the feuding Sangheili and Jiralhanae fleets and forced 'Gajat's forces into retreat. Due to Shipmaster 'Gajat's attack, the negotiations were left in a standstill and little progress was made in furthering the peace between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae.
Rise of the Created
Around October 27th, 2558, following the death of Jul 'Mdama, the remainder of his followers attacked the Swords of Sanghelios on the Sangheili homeworld. The Arbiter received assistance from the UNSC's Fireteam Osiris, who were searching for MCPO John-117, in repelling the invasion. After intense battles along the coast in Nuusra, the Swords of Sanghelios eventually pushed the Covenant back to their final stronghold: Sunaion, where the Covenant was finally defeated. Meanwhile, a Guardian that had lain buried beneath the Csurdon Sea emerged and departed for Genesis. The Swords provided safe haven for surviving UNSC forces when Cortana and her Created took control most of Earth's colonies.
Government and politics
Although they remained at war with Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, the Servants of the Abiding Truth and several other Covenant remnants, the Swords of Sanghelios sought to build peace among the fragmented remains of the Covenant and remained as an ally to humanity. Indeed, the Swords of Sanghelios is the only known Covenant group to maintain diplomatic relations with the Unified Earth Government or, more specifically, the UNSC. By 2558, the UNSC's ambassador to them was Rear Admiral Horatio Temkin. A formal treaty was signed between the Swords and the Unified Earth Government, setting up the Joint Occupation Zones, which would be administered and defended by both the UEG and the Sangheili. In addition to joint military exercises against pirates in the Joint Occupation Zones, the Swords and the UNSC made a cooperative effort to restore contact with remote human colonies after the war; the corvette The Lookout, crewed by UNSC and Swords personnel, embarked on such a mission in early 2553. The UNSC and the Sangheili worked together on archival research on Sanghelios, as well as joint investigations on Covenant weaponry, such as the Type-33 Needler. Additionally, a major joint research project and settlement was established by the UNSC and the Swords at Trevelyan, the enormous shield world located at the former site of Onyx. A notable example of trust and technological exchange between humanity and Sangheili is the Helioskrill armor, a variant of MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor, one of the most sophisticated pieces of human technology, which was designed by a Sangheili prodigy and manufactured by the Kolaar Manufactorum, a forge based on Sanghelios. As part of the ANVIL initiative, Sangheili military personnel train with Spartan-IVs inside the War Games simulator aboard Anvil Station. Despite the formal alliance between the UEG and the Swords of Sanghelios, not all humans and Sangheili were amicable towards coexistence. Some Sangheili, such as Jul 'Mdama, stood in opposition to the Arbiter and the Swords of Sanghelios due to their alliance with the UNSC and sought to continue the extermination of humanity. Meanwhile, the Office of Naval Intelligence worked from within the UNSC to undermine the Sangheili, against the UEG's official policy. Outside the UEG, a pro-human terrorist group known as Sapien Sunrise openly opposed the notion of peace with the Sangheili. In one notable incident, nine members from the aforementioned terrorist organization infiltrated Richard Sekibo's delegation at a peace summit on the colony world of Biko. They intended to assassinate Sekibo and a Sangheili delegation while framing the Sangheili of the crime. The assassination attempt was foiled by Spartan John-117 though Sekibo was mortally wounded. Unfortunately, the truth was covered up and John-117 was used as a scapegoat to hide the UEG's laxity towards preventing the attack, much to the frustration of the Sangheili delegation.
Society and culture
The Swords of Sanghelios look to pre-Covenant Sangheili culture and traditions as they seek to rebuild their civilization, unlike Jul 'Mdama's ideologically opposite reformed Covenant or many other groups seeking to reattain the hegemony's former glory. The Swords of Sanghelios have a peculiar relationship with religion, rejecting the Prophets' religion and holding questions about the Sangheili's traditional faith. In general, most of the Arbiter's followers no longer revere the Forerunners as gods. This has provoked the anger of many of their enemies, mainly the Servants of the Abiding Truth. However, the Arbiter has never explicitly denied the Forerunners as gods, and has assured other Sangheili that they have not lost the gods. In addition, the Ascetics appear to follow the Arbiter, having approached Usze 'Taham as a liaison between them and the Swords of Sanghelios despite the Arbiter's apparently secular government, and at least one served as a bodyguard for the Arbiter and was killed during the Ealen peace conference.
While the Sangheili are the dominant race within the faction, the Swords of Sanghelios also includes other former members of the Covenant hegemony, mainly Unggoy who found themselves under Sangheili command as well as Kig-Yar and Lekgolo. Notably, the Swords have forgone some of the Covenant's stringent species-based hierarchy, allowing even Unggoy of considerable capability—such as Stolt—to serve in positions of command over Sangheili. Contrary to Sangheili tradition, the Swords also allow females to serve in the military; this change was instated following the precedent of Tul 'Juran, who distinguished herself in combat alongside Rtas 'Vadum's crew against Tem'Bhetek and his forces. The Swords of Sanghelios has revived traditional Sangheili ranks such as Ascetic warriors. Crimson and ivory, or red-gold armor indicates some form of affiliation to the Swords of Sanghelios, though there are armors painted in other colors, such as blue.
The Swords of Sanghelios utilized much of the same equipment that the original Covenant used, but modified the designs due to the lack of restriction from the former Prophets. Most Unggoy used the Type-25 plasma pistol, Type-54 plasma pistol, Type-33 Needler, and Type-56 Needler, while Sangheili personnel were typically armed with the Type-25 plasma rifle, Type-27 beam rifle, Type-31 needle rifle, Type-50 concussion rifle, Type-51 carbine, Type-53 Plasma Caster, Type-55 storm rifle, Type-57 carbine, Type-58 fuel rod cannon, and the Type-1 energy sword. Several of their energy swords, most notably the Prophets' Bane, were shaped in new designs based on pre-Covenant fashions. Like the original Covenant the Type-26 Banshee remained as the main aircraft of the faction for much of the Blooding Years. Type-52 Phantoms were used as the main troop transports, although these sported a green color instead of the usual purple and utilized active camouflage. The Swords used orange-painted Type-26 Shades and Type-56 Shrikes for static defense. As the Covenant fragmented and technology changed, the Swords began using more individualized craft. They began manufacturing Sword variants of the Type-54 Ghost, Type-58 Wraith, and Type-54 Banshee, which had orange-painted plating and more durable armor than their Covenant versions. The faction also used crimson-orange Type-56 Liches and Type-57 Phantoms, though it is unclear if these also had improved armor. The faction's navy was composed of multiple CAS-class assault carriers, CCS-class battlecruisers, CPV-class heavy destroyers and at least one SDV-class heavy corvette. They also made use of ancient Sangheili ships, like Blockade Runners, Brigantines, Carracks and Man O' Wars.
United Nations Space Command