| San 'Shyuum|
Long necks, humanoid features
- "Who would doubt the Prophets? What have they foretold that has not come to pass?"
- —Prophet of Truth
San 'Shyuum (Latin Perfidia vermis, meaning "worms of treachery"), also known as Prophets by humans, are a nearly extinct species native to Janjur Qom that formerly served as the leadership caste of the Covenant. The San 'Shyuum exerted complete control over the Covenant's religious and political affairs.
The contemporary San 'Shyuum civilization developed on a planet rich in artifacts left behind by the Forerunners, whom the Covenant would later revere as their gods. Prophets derive their legitimacy as leaders as well as their colloquial names from this connection. According to the San 'Shyuum, their world was destroyed some 3200 years ago, circa 648 BCE, as the result of a natural stellar collapse. Because of this, they elected to make their home on the mobile planetoid station High Charity.
The San 'Shyuum waged a fierce and bloody war against the Sangheili at one point, halted only by their realization that the war would never come to an end. The two races united to learn their secrets, forming a mutually beneficial arrangement that would eventually become the Covenant, although they usually saw themselves above the Sangheili. The Sangheili became the protectors of the Prophets while the Prophets dedicated themselves to studying their "gods" and learning the secrets behind the "ascension" they left on.
After the activation of the Halo Array and the subsequent reseeding, the San 'Shyuum population has diminished. While their population at the time of the reintroduction was 500,000,000, there were only 23,831,463 living San 'Shyuum by 2552. After the Flood invasion of High Charity, the majority of their species was consumed, leaving less than a thousand alive. The few survivors soon vanished inexplicably.
 Human-San 'Shyuum alliance
- Main article: Human-San 'Shyuum alliance
Early on in their first spacefaring civilization, the San 'Shyuum mined the clouds of cometary material surrounding their home system for starship fuel. Later, the San 'Shyuum achieved remarkable technological sophistication, and after encountering the prehistoric human civilization, the San 'Shyuum and the humans formed an alliance, based on the planet Charum Hakkor, forming a major power in the Orion Arm of the galaxy. During this period, they encountered the Flood for the first time, but the spread of the infection was successfully pushed back by their human allies while it was still relatively minor. The empire later collapsed when the San 'Shyuum surrendered during the human-Forerunner wars.
Abandoning their hedonistic life styles for guidance under religious elders, the San 'Shyuum were allowed by the Forerunners to colonize one other world but were kept in quarantine under the Confirmer and the Fortress-class vessel Deep Reverence. But as the Confirmer grew lax in his duties, the San 'Shyuum began stockpiling weapons.
During the Forerunner-Flood war, the Librarian visited Janjur Qom to secure specimens of San 'Shyuum for preservation from the Halo Array. The San 'Shyuum elders correctly guessed that a catastrophe was imminent, and launched a short-lived uprising against their Forerunner overseers. All San 'Shyuum on the planet were subsequently killed when a Halo was fired on a low power setting nearby.
 The Ark and reseeding
The San 'Shyuum would be reseeded on their homeworld following the firing of the Halo Array. Having lost nearly all memory of the Forerunners, they discovered Forerunner technology on their homeworld and based their religion around the artifacts they found.
 San 'Shyuum civil war
- Main article: San 'Shyuum civil war
The San 'Shyuum who would later found the Covenant left their homeworld Janjur Qom due to a brutal civil war on their home planet. The conflict began when some San 'Shyuum believed that they should enter into the Forerunner Dreadnought present on their planet and learn from its technology, even though much of the population believed that the ship was a sacred artifact and should not be interfered with. The two sides fighting in this war were the Stoics, or the San 'Shyuum who refused to enter and desecrate the Dreadnought, and the Reformists, who wanted to develop new technologies by entering and studying the Dreadnought.
In 2100 BC, at the climax of the war, about a thousand Reformists broke into and commandeered the Dreadnought. The outraged Stoics were unable to take action, since even their fury toward the Reformists could not bring them to destroy the object of their reverence. The Reformists then took flight from the planet, breaking off a massive chunk of rock in doing so. This piece of rock would later become the foundation of High Charity, the Holy City of the Covenant.
Although the Reformists had achieved victory and left the Stoics (who sent out communication messages threatening that they would be damned for their impudence toward the gods) behind, they realized that they were doomed due to the small number that had joined their cause to control the Dreadnought. With an extremely small gene pool, they enacted strict controls around mating to prevent potentially disastrous inbreeding.
 Sangheili-San 'Shyuum war
- Main article: Sangheili-San 'Shyuum war
The war between the Sangheili and the San 'Shyuum began soon after their first encounter in 938 BCE. As with the San 'Shyuum Stoics, the Sangheili believed that Forerunner technology should not be touched or used for personal gain, while the San 'Shyuum believed that it should be reverse-engineered to further their own technology. Their first meeting resulted in a bloody engagement. Physically, the Sangheili were far superior - one Sangheili warrior was the equal to at least ten San 'Shyuum. However, technologically, the San 'Shyuum had the advantage: they had the Forerunner Dreadnought which proceeded to wipe out the Sangheili armada using hit-and-run tactics. Eventually, the Sangheili realized that their only chance for survival lay in using the Forerunner relics on their planet to engineer more effective weapons. This forced the Sangheili to abandon their convictions, and with the core reason of their conflict now gone, the two races united in 852 BCE to form the early Covenant, with the San 'Shyuum as the head religious leaders and the Sangheili as the military backbone and defenders of the Prophets.
 Fall of High Charity
With the outbreak of the Flood and its subsequent arrival on the holy city High Charity, the San 'Shyuum will have had two extinction events visited upon them within a single great cycle. Only those individuals who were permanently posted somewhere other than their ersatz homeworld are certain to have survived. Even those who held some position within the Covenant fleet have no hope for survival, as the entire fleet was present at Installation 05 when the Sangheili quarantined it. This is also impacted by many Elites killing the San 'Shyuum in an act of vengeance and/or honor. Their current total population is now estimated at less than one thousand.
With their population at dangerously low levels following the loss of High Charity, and now having to contend with the wrath of their former guardians, the San 'Shyuum gave their new Jiralhanae protectors access to all the technology they had. Immediately following the collapse of the Covenant and the end of the Human-Covenant War, however, the remaining San 'Shyuum apparently vanished. The Sangheili had heard rumors that the San 'Shyuum went on the Great Journey, but most disregarded them. As this coincided with the disappearance of most Huragok, others believed that the San 'Shyuum may have taken the Huragok with them when they fled.
 Anatomy and physiology
San 'Shyuum are a gangly, bipedal species, with very long necks and limbs. They evolved on a planet with low gravity, and tend to have some degree of difficulty moving in higher-gravity environments. Although young San 'Shyuum are significantly stronger and more mobile, the majority of San'Shyuum in the Covenant are very elderly, and this combined with a life of physical inactivity leaves most of the Covenant's San 'Shyuum withered and weak. As a result, most San 'Shyuum elders wear some form of anti-gravity device. However, they are capable of moving unaided, if only for a brief period of time.
Prehistoric San 'Shyuum were typically very lithe and muscular; both the Forerunners and humans considered the San 'Shyuum to be very beautiful. After their surrender in the human-Forerunner wars, the San 'Shyuum began to place their trust in the wisdom of often-paraplegic elders, though their warriors retained the musculature for which their species was renowned. Eventually, after the firing of the Halos, the entirety of the San 'Shyuum transitioned to this new, sedentary lifestyle.
San 'Shyuum have distinct, often fur-covered lobes of skin hanging underneath their chin similar to a beard, known as "wattles". San 'Shyuum also have hanging appendages on either side of their head; despite their resemblance to ears, San 'Shyuum actually receive sound at the back of the head.
San 'Shyuum have three digits on each hand and are able, though typically unwilling, to use handheld weaponry. Their prehensile feet have two toes each, which are bent backward so that a San 'Shyuum's weight is balanced on the knuckles of its feet. This unconventional foot structure further complicates their movement when they are not being supported by anti-gravity systems.
The lifespan of a San 'Shyuum is extensive, largely as a result of advanced medical technology intended to ensure longevity. Such a process began in about 1552, approximately one thousand years before the collapse of the Covenant. Currently, more than a quarter of their population are now super-bicentenarians. The San 'Shyuum were also remarkably long-lived by the time of the Forerunners; the First Prophet, for example, was over nine thousand years old by 100,000 BCE.
During the time of the Forerunners, the San 'Shyuum culture was centered around the pursuit of beauty and pleasure. They were known throughout the galaxy for their hedonism, their beauty, and their skills at manipulating other races with their nearly universal appeal. Following their surrender in the human-Forerunner wars, however, their culture became centered around the guidance of elderly religious leaders known as prophets.
Before the Covenant was formed, a thousand or so Prophets called Reformers, who believed in using Forerunner technology for their use and wished to explore the Forerunner Dreadnought they had discovered, left their homeworld, leaving the Stoics (those who only wished to worship the technology and not explore the Dreadnought) stranded. The resulting calamity meant that the Covenant San 'Shyuum population was reduced to a few thousand, forcing the species to carefully manage their gene pool to prevent the loss of beneficial genes and the introduction of undesirable traits, with individuals possessing negative recessive traits placed in the Roll of Celibates to prevent their breeding. The Prophet of Truth is on such a list. However, if they should have such sexual urges, the Prophets will use concubines. If such a pregnancy should occur, however, they must be aborted, or the children will be killed at birth and the father sterilized.
It is known that the fertility cycles of female San 'Shyuum are short and few and far between, which would make it difficult for San 'Shyuum to have children. As a result, they would have a celebration called a Birthing Period when a child was conceived, which was very uncommon.
With regards to naming practices, each San 'Shyuum has a given name and a family name. However, once they rise to a certain level in the bureaucracy, they prefer to be addressed by their title, or be known by a trait they claimed to possess. Upon their ascension, Hierarchs may select a regal name from a list of former High Prophets. For example, the Prophet Hod Rumnt is always addressed by his titles, such as Philologist, or his regal name, the Prophet of Mercy.
 Role in the Covenant
The San 'Shyuum hold a vital position in the Covenant because they are responsible for studying the holy Forerunner artifacts and using them to develop new technologies, and also because they manage political affairs and maintain order in the Covenant. They hold many seats on the Covenant High Council, formerly sharing this responsibility with the Sangheili and later the Jiralhanae.
At any given time, the Covenant is headed by a triumvirate of Prophets, known as the Hierarchs. The Prophet triumvirates known in recent years were Obligation, Tolerance and Restraint, and most recently Truth, Mercy, and Regret, all of whom are now deceased.
As the representatives of the gods, the Prophets held a great amount of power over the other races of the Covenant, earning reverential titles such as "Holy One" and "Eminence". They are protected at all times by the mighty Legions of Honor Guards, and rarely involve themselves in combat, preferring to dedicate themselves to studying Forerunner artifacts. However, important events to the Covenant usually require a high-ranking Prophet, such as a Hierarch, to be present.
The majority of the San 'Shyuum use anti-gravity belts or anti-gravity chairs to support themselves, a more advanced form of the wheeled chairs they used before the activation of the Halo Array. Higher-ranking Prophets, such as the Hierarchs, use shielded anti-gravity thrones to support themselves. These however, are not so much for support as they are for personal defense - they are fitted with holographic emitters, an energy shield generator, a teleportation device, and built-in assault cannons. In the event of assassins getting past their guards, they are able to defend themselves quite well with the assault cannons.
 Known San 'Shyuum
 High Prophets
- High Prophet of Restraint (Deposed)
- High Prophet of Tolerance (Deposed)
- High Prophetess of Obligation (Deposed)
- High Prophet of Mercy (Deceased)
- High Prophet of Regret (Deceased)
- High Prophet of Truth (Deceased)
- Unidentified Hierarch (Sanghelios) (Unknown)
 Lesser Prophets
- Prophet of Supposition
- Prophet of Pity
- Prophet of Disdain
- Prophet of Objection (Unknown, probably Deceased)
- Prophet of Stewardship (Deceased)
- Unidentified Prophet (The Babysitter) (Deceased)
- Prophet of Conviction (Deceased)
- Prophet of Candor
 Pre-historic Prophets
 Titles held within the San 'Shyuum society
|Hierarchs||Leaders of the High Council, the Hierarchs are the High Prophets of the Covenant and leaders of the alien hegemony. They are elected by the Council, and ascend at the beginning of a new Age. There are three Hierarchs during each Age.|
|Lesser Prophet||San 'Shyuum representative to the Covenant High Council, they are the ones to use the traditional "Prophet of..." naming scheme, and are highly ranked members of Covenant society. They rate full powered gravity thrones.|
|Minister||The heads of Covenant ministries, Ministers manage the bureaucracy of the Covenant and serve on the High Council. They rate full powered gravity thrones.|
|Vice Minister||Deputies of the full Minister, and substitutes for the Minister when necessary. They rate gravity thrones that can travel in groups of three.|
|Senior staffer||Senior aides to the Minister and Vice-Minister. They rate gravity thrones that can travel in groups of seven.|
|Junior staffer||Entry level Ministry workers, Junior staffers are the lowest members of a Covenant Ministry, and rate the weakest gravity thrones, which require groups of twenty to travel effectively.|
|Philologist||Leader of the Ascetic priests who tends to the Oracle on High Charity, the Philologist is necessary to the ascension of a new set of Hierarchs.|
|Cleric||San 'Shyuum who perform religious and medicinal duties. They only warrant stone gravity thrones.|
|Vice Cleric||Subordinate to Clerics.|
- The High Prophets' names are almost always ironic counterpoints to their behavior. The Prophet of Truth was prone to lying, the Prophet of Mercy was very harsh towards others, the Prophet of Regret was headstrong and unapologetic, and the Prophet of Restraint stepped down as a result of high sexual exploits when it was forbidden for him to do so, therefore showing a lack of restraint.
- The San 'Shyuum are the only Covenant species that does not appear in Halo: Reach.
The High Prophet of Truth
Regret in Halo Wars.
The Prophets are most often seen by their followers through their sermons via Portable holo-pedestals.
 List of appearances
- Halo 2
- Halo 3
- Halo Wars
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Mentioned only)
- Halo: The Fall of Reach (Mentioned only)
- Halo: The Flood (First appearance)
- Halo: First Strike
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Contact Harvest
- Halo: The Cole Protocol
- Halo: Cryptum
- Halo: Glasslands (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Halo Graphic Novel
- Halo: Uprising
- Halo Wars: Genesis
- Halo Legends
- Halo: The Thursday War (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Silentium (Mentioned only)
- ^ a b c d e f g h Bestiarum
- ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia: page 118
- ^ HBO Forums
- ^ a b Conversations from the Universe
- ^ a b c d Halo 2
- ^ a b Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, The Return
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 256
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 143
- ^ a b Halo: Cryptum, page 113
- ^ a b c Halo: Contact Harvest
- ^ a b Halo: Contact Harvest, page 262
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 147
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 215
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 147
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 216
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 170
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 183-184
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 264
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 119
- ^ Halo: The Flood
- ^ Halo: First Strike
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 211
|Member and client races of the Covenant|
|San 'Shyuum • Sangheili • Jiralhanae • Huragok • Lekgolo (Mgalekgolo) • Yanme'e • Kig-Yar (Skirmisher) • Unggoy|