"On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons! We swore to uphold the Covenant!" ~Rtas 'Vadumee, saying the Holy Murals of the Covenant.
For more than forty millennia, the Covenant has endured amongst the stars. They are a relic empire, a mere remnant, with a few thousand worlds scattered across Segmentum Solar. Still, unlike most governments, the Covenant is unusually a fleet based empire; highly nomadic and constantly on the move to acquire new prey to conquer. Although their remaining planets are used for political and industrial purposes, the reality is that the highly mobile fleets of the Covenant makes them extremely difficult to intercept. It is of this reason that Covenant astro-territories is constantly in flux. Thus, although the Covenant claim they encompass a vast majority of space, their physical planetary territories are spread thinly. According to the legends of the Covenant, long ago the gods rose from primordial chaos to rule the universe for many strange aeons. Then, the hated enemy, the Parasite, arose to wage war upon the ancient gods. In their last act, the gods ascended from this materium of mortality and decay to the true eternity. They left behind them the way of holiness, the Halo, so that their children might follow their ascension. The most ancient histories of the Covenant record that Mankind in his wickedness annihilated Halo and for this reason they have sworn war unending with the race of Man.
At the time of the Great Crusade, the Covenant encompassed tens of thousands of worlds but near all fell before the might of the Space Marine legions. Only the betrayal of Horus prevented the extinction of the xenos alliance. To this day, the Covenant fears to openly challenge the Imperium and have fortified each of their planets with a formidable defensive network. The Covenant is 'closed.' It has since antiquity included a number of xenos species but considers all others impure and unworthy of fellowship. It may tolerate a conquered race for the slave labor provided but, when practical, it prefers to cleanse outsiders. It operates on a rigid hierarchical basis, with the Prophets and Sanghelli ruling over the other castes. Infrequently, the Sanghelli must crush Brute uprisings. The Kig-yar jackals often operate independently as merchants, privateers and mercenaries. They have been known to work in conjunction with human pirates. During the battle for Hyperion Hive, Imperial governor Laslo Feldt hired an army of Kig-yar which successfully repulsed the Orkish invaders. Unfortunately for Feldt, the Inquisition executed him for this ten years later, by which time the jackals had long moved on.
The Covenant exhibits a fatalistic outlook. Having long believed that Humanity destroyed the way to paradise, they are merely waiting for the apocalypse which will at last grant them oblivion. They know of Chaos but none of the Covenant species exhibits psychic ability. The prophecies say their ruin will not come from the powers of long night but with the return of the most ancient enemy. They see in the arrival of the Tyranids not a new force but the most ancient of all evils returned in a yet deadlier form: the Parasite. Hive Fleet Kraken devoured the last known Covenant planets in Ultima Segmentum and the surviving splinter fleets crawl unflinchingly towards Segmentum Solar. The last Arbiter has been anointed in New High Charity and the Covenant stands ready for the end.
There will be no hesitation. There will be no surrender. There will be only death.
Covenant Member Races
The Covenant coalition unites several different Xenos under one banner. The Covenant teems with brutality and cruelty, with the strong lording over the weak and the weak serving the strong. This by no means ensures a life of ease for the upper castes, for they must be at the forefront of every battle and the war grows more desperate every century. The Jiralhanae and the Sanghelli consist almost exclusively of warrior societies, with labor either automated or performed by slaves of the lower castes. Covenant doctrine teaches that all the species must serve. Any rebellion or splinter group earns swift punishment. Indeed, the Covenant has waged many campaigns to track down and eliminate secessionists.
San'Shyuum: Once the foremost power in the Covenant, this fabled species vanished long before the rise of the Imperium. A special class of priestly Elites study their many prophecies in an attempt to divine things past, passing and not yet passed. Some of these priests receive dreams and visions of the San'Shyuum whilst ordinary pilgrims hope to glimpse their ghosts at holy sites.
Sangheili: The warrior Sangheili dominate the Covenant. Taller, stronger and more agile than a human, they are consumed by a ritualistic honor-code of combat. They have been known both to spare a worthy defeated foe (though few are counted as such) and to throw away their lives rather than commit craven acts. Their tradition of taking trophies leaves them keen to engage with the most dangerous foes, such as the Adeptus Astartes. One-on-one, a Sangheili has little hope of besting a Space Marine but their concept of honor does not depend on fairness. Rather, it revolves around a warrior displaying utmost courage and skill and respecting his enemies who do likewise. Thus, the Sangheili often 'soften up' Astartes with artillery bombardments and waves of lesser troops before moving in for the kill.
Jiralhanae: These ruthless savages have earned such moniker as Brutes, Kongs and Hairy Ogryns amongst those Imperial Forces which they have encountered. They are tougher, more cunning and better armed than Ork Boyz, if nowhere near as numerous. In such Imperial Stormtrooper schools as cover the Covenant in their curriculum, the Jiralhanae are considered comparable to Ork Nobs. They revel in carnage and fail in every artistic instinct except for crude tribal insignias and totems. They award importance only to those in their packs and status in Jiralhanae packs centers around constant brawls, so none of the other Covenant races (all physically weaker) can join. For this reason, they often despise the Sangheili, even sometimes rebelling against them, but never successfully. Their rivals simply understand warfare better.
Jiralhanae often strike out from the Covenant to find new worlds free from the rigid ritualistic influences of their peers. New High Charity sanctions many of these expeditions, with the theoretical understanding that the new holdings will rejoin the main Covenant when support fleets arrive. Other expeditions set out without permission and will fight to keep their independence.
For protracted conflicts, Covenant commanders often seed rugged regions with Jiralhanae warbands, expecting them to rampage, loot and generally disrupt the enemy over a wide terrain. Their opportunistic feeding patterns and durable constitution allows them to operate long term in such theaters.
Huragok: Although seemingly organic, these silicon-based lifeforms are in fact artificial living computers. Covenant doctrine teaches they were gifts from the gods in ancient days and accords them religious reverence. The Huragok maintain the Covenant's technological base, even repairing equipment in of battle. They will not fight in any circumstances so deployed units require bodyguards. In the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Ordo Xenos procured a number of these strange creatures but learned they can only work with Covenant technology.
Lekgolo: These armored behemoths fulfill both a long ranged support role and a close-quarters attack role. Schola Progenium War Manuals recommend engaging these xenos with meltas, plasma weapons and flamers. Xenologist dissections reveal that the creatures consist of a bundle of worm-like creatures fused together by foul flesh-alchemy to create a single sentient organism. They carry plasma cannons into battle--earlier classified as fuel rod weapons. Yeest's Apocrypha Aliena (M34) suggests the Sangheili created the Lekgolo from worm creatures rich in neural matter as a servant race but Covenant legend tells of them already having their own culture at the time of their introduction to the xenos alliance.
Sharquoi: Coming from an unknown world, the Sharquoi is a large massive behemoth of unimaginable strength. These Xenos have a uncanny appearance similar to that of the ancient, monstrous lizards called Dinosaurs of ancient Terra long passed by. What makes them stand out from the usual Covenant infantry however, is their colossal size, massive natural occurring 'spike fists', a jaw-less head and one massively stubborn hide that could even shrug off blows from a Tyranid Bone-Scythe. Because of these attributes, the Covenant use them as living, breathing battering rams and walking siege-engines of gargantuan strength that could crumple a Imperial Tank without much impunity. However don't let their savage appearanced fool you, they are still as intelligent as a fully grown man.
Yanme'e: These aliens appear insectoid in nature but possess an internal skeletal 'lattice' structure. The exoskeleton only develops after the organism reaches maturity. In their natural state, they are capable of short hops but, bolstered by anti-gravity pods, attain to flight, where they soar over the battlefield in teeming swarms, attacking and disorienting the enemy from multiple vertical directions. Their eusocial mental patterns tend towards extreme dogmatism and group mentality, making them easily the most fanatical race in the Covenant.
Kig-Yar: Opportunistic, aggressive and self-reliant--only extreme practicality keeps Kig-Yar within the Covenant, for they realize that without the muscle and technology of the upper castes, their kind faces ill odds in a hostile galaxy. The Kig-Yar practice terror attacks and an offensive version of scorched earth wherein they raze territory after looting as much as possible. They particularly seek out civilians for the slaughter, with the logic that 'burning the seed is easier than burning the stalk.' Many Kig-Yar do set out as pirates or mercenaries where they have achieved several notable successes. Warlord Torrin Darkchance summoned the aliens to help him overthrow the Agri-World of Castor VI but, after executing the Imperial Governor, failed to pay the agreed price. The aliens responded by storming the governor's bliss-palace, kidnapping the new despotic administration (including Torrin), and selling them to the Dark Eldar. Kig-Yar always carry handheld energy shields into battle which provide protection analogous to carapace armor.
- T'vaoan: Cousins to the Kig-Yar and hailing from T'vao, the T'vaoans have evolved to be much more stronger, tougher and faster then their more known cousins, making them more arrogant in that regard. Sprouting a mane of feathers and plumage which covers their entire heads and bodies, as well as achieving a more well-formed beak with eagle like eyes, they resemble more like actual aves then the more saurian Kig-Yars; the resemblance in turn, cause some Xenobiologists to compare the T'vaoans with Ancient Terra's earliest evolution of birds to the divergence of Abhumans from evolutionary norm. Due to this, the T'vaoans are often nicknamed by Imperial Guardsmen as "Vultures", analogous to the Kig-Yar's "Turkeys". However, such 'humorous' nicknames are often not to be underestimated, being much more physically superior to the Kig-Yars, the T'vaoans are notorious for their blinding speed and agility, so much so that they can run circles around even the obscenely fast Astartes. This, coupled with the fact that T'vaoans are usually situated in infiltration and covert warfare within the Covenant, will cause chaos and distraught if they are not located and caught immediately.
Unggoy: Feeble-minded, cowardly and mentally weak, this slave race occupies the lowest place in the caste system. Little more than cannon fodder, Covenant commanders deploy vast numbers of Unggoy as meat shields to distract the attention of the enemy. Their natural cowardice leads them to prefer defensive combat. The Unggoy breed rapidly but more are always needed for the eternal war. They must wear complicated breathing apparatus to fulfill their unique methane ingestion needs. In accordance with their honor code, Sangheili have been known to adopt the most promising Unggoy as 'shield-bearers,' in this way even allowing the slave race to rise to the rank of Special Ops. This distracts enemy fire from the Elites.
Covenant Planets and Colonies
Only a few dozen Covenant worlds remain. The Great Crusade saw them reduced to three worlds, each of which believed itself the last survivor, saved only by the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. During this titanic conflict, Covenant fleet elements regathered and reconquered two hundred worlds, strategically falling upon planets which had sent their Imperial Army contingents elsewhere or to planets crippled by Traitor-Loyalist infighting. During the Forging, the Hierarchs swore a secret deal with Roboute Guilliman that they would go to war with the Ork Empire of Gorgarok, if he spared them the vengeance of the Space Marines. The agreement lasted two thousand years. Since then, the fortunes of the Covenant have both waxed and waned, but the prophecies have clearly shown that the end is very soon.
High Charity: The most well known Covenant base, city and mobile moon. High Charity is one of the most heavily defended worlds in the Covenant as it carries the last known Forerunner ship called a Dreadnought-Class, that uses its mighty engines to power the moon itself. Bristling with over hundreds of Covenant Assault and Super Carriers, and armed with weapons so ferocious that it can eat through an entire Imperium Crusade fleet. The city itself resembles a flying giant purple mushroom, and is in-fact, constructed on the last rocks of the former homeworld of the San'Shyuum, called Janjur Qom.
Janjur Qom: The lost homeworld of the San'Shyuum, Janjur Qom is said to hold the great secrets of the gods or, in some tales, to be the place of paradise for all who find it, of any species.
Sanghelios: Sanghelios was the homeworld of the Sangheili, a dry and arid wasteland. It fell to human forces in the Dark Age of Technology. The Covenant regained it during the Age of Strife, only to lose it again to the Iron Warriors. Presently, it hosts a thriving Imperial Hive world, but, with the return of the Parasite, the Sangheili are mustering an apocalyptic armada to take it back.
Doisac: The Jiralhanae's homeworld and a classified Death-World, the planet suffers from extreme gravity, unpredictable magnetism, mass volcanism and massive tidal waves that engulfs half the planet every month or so. Infamous to the Tau, since it was the sight of the Kroot Blood-Massacre, where five entire Kroot War-Spheres crash landed on the planet. Within moments, all the Kroots saved for seven Kroot Shapers, were butchered, slaughtered and eaten by the planets violent and carnivorous natives.
Te: This is where the Lekgolo and M'galekgolo originated from, although it looks like a gas-giant at first, it is in fact a planet with solid ground. This was also the site of the Taming of the Hunters where the Covenant subdued the Lekgolo after they found out that some of them were eating the artifacts of the Holy Forerunners, and others were not. Nowadays crossing the surface of Te is considered so dangerous, that not even the Catachan Jungle Fighters can survive it.
Eayn: The homeworld or, more accurately, the homemoon of the Kig-Yar is a Terra-sized body orbiting the gas-giant Chu'ot. It is dominated by a single massive Super-continent that covers almost the entire surface of the moon and surrounded by asteroids the size of mountains. The Imperium attempted to take the world in the Righteous and Harmonious Fists Campaign, grinding over 95% of the population with the inexorable might of the Imperial Guard. Due to circumstances elsewhere, the Imperium had to withdraw and Eayn has since been repeopled. The system is more than ever a lair of alien pirates and a menace to the regions surrounding.
- T'vao: An asteroid and Kig-Yar colony that is orbiting the same home-system as Eayn, this is where all T'vaoans, the cousins of the Kig-Yars, can trace their ancestry here. Because of their different gravity and environment, the T'vaoan has evolved to be tougher, faster and stronger then their light-weight cousins.
Balaho: A chill, dreary and poisonous world--home of the Unggoy. Aggravating its native harsh clime, reckless pollution has so stained the surface that corrosive storms now scourge the atmosphere. The industrial resources have been mostly depleted, with the surviving Unggoy clinging to life vast underground shelter complexes. Orks arrived in M39 and have occupied large stretches of the planet ever since. With little of value on Balaho, the Covenant does not wish to expend its resources taking it back. Instead, it sends raw troops there to 'blood their claws.' The Orks have largely gone feral and are endemic rather than a serious threat, but should another Waaaagh arrive, will likely overwhelm the defenses.
Palamok: The Yanme'e Hive-World (Quite literally), over twice the size and gravity of Holy Terra, Palamok may resemble the old Terran records of the Ancient Carboniferous-era. This planet teems with hostile insects and amphibians of tremendous size.
Joyous Exultation: This airless moon was once an important mining facility and Imperial Navy shipyard. During the Righteous and Harmonious Fists Campaign, the Imperium invaded the Kig-Yar homeworld of Eayn. Rather than reinforcing Eayn, the Hierarchs elected to strike at the campaign staging point and supply line. A Covenant Armada descended upon this moon, pulverized the garrison fleet and engaged in mass warfare with the Imperial Navy's CCCVIXth Lunar Vacuum Corps across the lifeless rocks. Even before the conclusion of the war, the Shipmasters had already converted the facilities to manufacturing Covenant vessels. Using Joyous Exultation as their own staging point, the Covenant have waged wars of wrath upon several Imperial planets, reducing them to feral worlds void of any industrial capacity. For its part, the Imperium considers the reconquest of Joyous Exultation necessary to security in the sub-sector and will launch an attack as soon as is practical.
Obsidius: A timeless world brought into being by the will of the gods, Obsidius boasts incomparable weapons built into the very skin of the planet. Many Covenant took refuge here during the Great Crusade, as the Emperor's minions were utterly unable to approach without being vaporized. To this day, Imperial star charts label the system as Perditus, so that none may approach upon pain of excommunication and death. Seven times in history, Ork Waaaghs have attempted to make planetfall, each time suffering incineration before even touching the atmosphere. In 958M41, a Necron Blight Swarm fell upon the system. Although the ancient weapons wreaked ruin upon their fleet, their weapons also rained down ruination from orbit and numerous phalanxes teleported to the surface. Unprepared for anyone getting past their 'divine defenses,' the Covenant nonetheless mustered an army to challenge the invaders. War scourged the surface for months, with the Necrons sabotaging every piece of pre-Covenant technology they encountered. With the ancient mysteries wrecked, the metallic invaders departed. Obsidius is no longer protected by incomparable weapons but the Imperium does not know this and the Covenant have rebuilt it into a daunting conventional stronghold-world.
Rtam Oldo'ra: This Sangheili garden-world and recruiting post lay on the fringes of Ultima Segmentum. Hive Fleet Kraken swept in in 988M41, brushing aside the few cruisers and orbital platforms which opposed them. The Tyranids descended upon the surface, devouring all opposition. On land, the Covenant army won several victories but the great devourer encircled and choked them out. The remaining Covenant ships retreated to the world of Musk Angelos, where they hid in the outer system out of range of Imperial batteries. Having consumed Rtam Oldo'ra, the Tyranids followed and fell upon Musk Angelos. At this moment, the Shipmasters struck, catching the devourer between the defensive batteries and their own weapons. It was not enough. All the Covenant vessels were torn apart.
Having received a message about the terror of the Parasite's return, a much greater Covenant armada arrived to find both Rtam Oldo'ra and Musk Angelos as lifeless husks. The fleetmaster had been born upon Rtam Oldo-ra and he swore sure vengeance upon the great devourer. The armada hunted the splinter fleet, at last catching it in empty tracts of the vast void, and fighting a vast hit-and-run battle over months, whittling down the Tyranids where they could not replenish themselves. When they were down to ten hive ships, the Tyranids responded by scattering each in a different direction. The fleetmaster split the armada into three, with orders to rendezvous after destroying their prey.
The Weaponry of the Covenant Army has been known and studied throughout the Imperium, however their alien nature of their weaponry still eludes even the top Imperium Xenologist and Tech-Seers. One major difference in the Covenant Weaponry is their main use of Plasma Weaponry, however unlike certain races such as the Tau or even the Imperium themselves who uses actual Plasma, the Plasma utilized by the Covenant is completely different. Dubbed as "Arcano-Plasma" by Tech-Priests, these unnatural state of matter has been shown to 'eat' through objects and materials rather then the instant vaporization more commonly seen from other plasma weapons employed by other Xenos. These are the list of Covenant weapons recovered by the Imperium for study.
- Covenant Plasma Rifle: One of the most common family weapons of the Covenant Army and the most iconic.
- Covenant Needler: Specialized weapons that use ammunition of unknown property, homes on targets and explodes.
- Beam Rifle: Covenant Particle Accelerators, includes other weapons in the same category such as the Focus Rifle.
- Covenant Carbine: Uses highly concentrated radiation rounds, launched at hyper-sonic speed.
- Covenant Mortars: The Plasmic mortars used by the Covenant.
- Jiralhanae Guns: The list of rifles, pistols and grenade launchers used by the Jiralhanae.
- Covenant Hand-Held Weapons: The multiple close-combat weapons used by the Covenant.
- Covenant Concussion Rifle: The answer to a Imperial Auxiliary Grenade Launcher.
- Covenant Plasma Launcher: Shoots out four homing Plasma Grenades.
- Covenant Apocalypse and Starship weaponry: Weapons found on the most massive Covenant machines.
The Covenant and its Children
Covenant technology has progressed since antiquity. Just as the bolter far surpasses the puny slug-weapons of M2, so do needlers, fuel rods and plas rifles far exceed their obsolete historical counterparts. Covenant warp-drives skim the edge of the immaterium, making short hops from place to place and avoiding most of the danger. However, their drives rapidly recharge, allowing for a succession of quick hops across vast spans of lightyears. Their ships pose a danger even to Imperial warcraft, although naval admirals have often argued they should be considered slightly inferior on account of armaments and shielding.
Unlike Mankind, none of the Covenant species display any psychic ability, so those few who would bend the knee to the Ruinous Powers must travel to places like the Eye of Terror or collect warp artifacts. Yagaron's Dark Disciples, a Sangheili cabal, have laid their energy swords at the feet of Huron Blackheart and he has set them to lead one of his many armies of human cultists. The Unggoy have also been known to form secret rites based on the worship of chaos, on occasion even summoning daemons to 'deliver' them.
As a tiny Empire, the Tau have made no contact with the Covenant. However, the Tau hired a roving band of Kig-Yar mercenaries during their 3rd Sphere Expansion and incorporated them into the Sept of Ksi'm'yen. The reptilian xenos accepted the greater good and flourished for several decades. When a Genestealer cult broke out on the Sept, the Kig-Yar abandoned their oath, disobeyed the Ethereal's orders to suppress the rebellion and fought their way through both sides to the spaceport, where they commandeered a ship and escaped from the planet. They resumed their old thieving ways and have been a scourge to Tau shipping ever since.
Many of the Covenant species have established independent enclaves across the galaxy. The Hateful Haven is based in Ultima Segmentum around the accretion disk of a young star. A motley assemblage of Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, Tarellian Dog-Soldiers and Kroot band together to conduct raids and harass shipping. They are feared in five sectors. Recently, Genestealers have infected numerous asteroids in the system and piratic attacks on shipping have decreased as the Hateful Haven seeks to cleanse itself of the infestation.
The Imperium is unsure of the extent of the Covenant. Official Departmento Munitorum documents indicate that they may have only a few dozen worlds remaining. Inquisitor Czevak of the Ordo Xenos believes this entirely wrong and states the xenos still possess a few thousand planets. The possibility remains also that a great amount of their strength may be fleet based and they do turn up in unexpected places. Macharius stumbled upon a Covenant pocket empire in the course of his crusade. When the Covenant do attack, they do so in force, with armies comparable in size to the Imperial Guard, although they lack the corresponding ability to reinforce.
The Covenant fill the blank role in 40k of 'ordinary alien species.' The galaxy is full of undead robots, cthulu gods and evil space elves with poisoned lasers, but it lacks a playable 'scifi-staple' xenos force. Even the Tau show extreme technological aptitude and uncharacteristic dynamism. In essence, the Covenant are the steady guys whose presence highlights the madness found everywhere else. Why they shouldn't have psykers.
The galaxy is an enormous place. Quite easy to retcon in the Covenant rather than use that hideous Spacebattles cliche about colliding universes. If the Covenant have always been present, this also allows us to scale their weapons to the universe, rather than being grossly under/overmatched.
You can look at fan-made shot stories for the Covenant, right now there is only one, and is still under-construction.
Codex - The Covenant
If you want to go back to the Crunch, here is the link:--> Codex - The Covenant