Apostolic delivery and coercion, reliquary acquisition
- "The true devotee honors our name with actions, not words."
- —Sangheili Zealot's mantra
Zealot is a category of high-ranking Sangheili warriors in the Covenant, as well as some of its splinter factions in the wake of the Sangheili civil war. They were supervised and deployed by the Ministry of Fervent Intercession. More of a philosophy than a rank, Zealots are among the most devout worshipers of the Forerunners, even after the dissolution of the Covenant.
- "The Path is strict, Jora — it brooks no deviation, no remorse. We are zealots. We serve the Way. These are our orders. We do not question them."
- —Thel 'Vadamee to Jora 'Konaree
Zealots are greatly experienced and unparalleled in combat skill. Equipped with advanced armor systems and equipment, they are also among the most resilient and powerful Sangheili infantry. Although all Sangheili males are trained in the arts of combat from a young age, Sangheili believe that future Zealots are born with an innate desire to kill.
Unlike the majority of the Covenant's conventional military forces, which fell under the authority of the Ministry of Resolution, the Zealots were a separate group that reported to the Ministry of Fervent Intercession. The ministry deployed small teams of Zealots during all significant engagements to locate, analyze, and amass intelligence regarding reliquary sites, as well as to recover Forerunner artifacts or otherwise important data. During the Human-Covenant War, many Zealots were assigned to battlefield duties in order to directly partake in the destruction of a species the Covenant viewed as heretical.
In addition to artifact retrieval, Zealots may serve in a variety of command roles ranging from Shipmaster to Supreme Commander. The rank of Field Marshal is exclusive to the Zealot class. Field Marshals hold supreme authority over Covenant land, effectively making them the groundside counterpart to a Fleet Master or Supreme Commander; Field Marshals are also occasionally tasked with leading Zealot strike teams.
As late as 2557, Zealots continued to serve within the reformed Covenant, which remained religiously devoted to the Forerunners following the hegemony's collapse. Despite still having a combat niche, Zealots now serve in political and social leadership positions, filling all the roles previously occupied by the San 'Shyuum.
Zealots have been seen wearing a wide variety of armor types and styles, reflecting the multiple roles encompassed by the rank. Most Zealots wear ornate maroon armor that, while intricate, is more subdued in design than the suits worn by Sangheili of lower ranks. It features a smooth, organic thoracic cage harness, large, sloping shoulder pauldrons, and a long, back-swept helmet with mandible guards. The helmet and pauldrons feature decorative blue bands. Zealots in command positions, including those who serve with regular Covenant military forces, wear the same armor, albeit colored gold like the suits worn by lower-ranking Generals.[note 1] Field Marshals wear a modified version of the standard Zealot harness; the front of the helmet has two horn-like prongs and the pauldrons are wider. Zealot Supreme Commanders may wear a similarly colored cloak with their armor.
Another armor design, which gained prominence following the end of the Human-Covenant War, is worn by Zealots serving under the reformed Covenant. It features a more angular harness and a fully shrouded helmet; this suit has a more organic, almost insectoid appearance, which is derived from armor designs worn by devout warriors on Hesduros, the birthplace of the reunited Covenant. The helmet vaguely resembles those worn by the Ascetics and Covenant Special Operations forces, and has a cross-shaped pattern of purple insets facing outward from a central point. Another unique feature is a blade-like "talon" located on the inner toe of the boot, which is derived from the armor worn by kaidons on Hesduros. Like the armor worn by Special Operations and Stealth Sangheili, this armor is equipped with active camouflage; this may indicate that it is a variant specifically intended for stealth operations.
 Known Zealots
- Thel 'Vadam - Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice; later became the Arbiter.
- Jora 'Konaree - A Zealot warrior who fought in Thel 'Vadamee's Zealot team.
- Saal - A Zealot in Thel 'Vadamee's team.
- Veer - One of the Zealots in 'Vadamee's team.
- Zhar - One of the Zealots in 'Vadamee's team.
- Lat 'Ravamee - Shipmaster of the Truth and Reconciliation, part of the Fleet of Particular Justice.
- Jul 'Mdama - leader of the Covenant remnant.
- The plasma rifle-wielding Zealots of Halo: Combat Evolved will not melee attack. This is because they are programmed to go berserk when they see the Master Chief and have no provisions for melee attacking while in berserk mode.
- In Halo: Reach, the Zealot armor is available as an Armor Permutation once the player has reached the rank of Captain. The game features a loadout called "Zealot" which gives the player a needle rifle, a plasma pistol, and two plasma grenades. There is another loadout available only in the third phase of Invasion called "Royal Zealot". This loadout is an improved version of the standard Zealot loadout. It provides a needle rifle, a needler, and three plasma grenades, although once the player uses the third grenade, they will be able to carry only two.
- The real-time strategy game StarCraft features an iconic Protoss unit known as the zealot; these warriors also wear golden armor and wield powerful energy blades.
- Aside from the Field Marshal, seven Zealots are encountered in Halo: Reach's campaign: two on Winter Contingency, one on Tip of the Spear, (who can be killed to unlock the Your Heresy Will Stay Your Feet achievement), three at the end of The Pillar of Autumn, and one in the final cutscene in Lone Wolf during Noble Six's Last Stand.
A Zealot brandishing his energy sword inside the Silent Cartographer in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A Zealot issuing orders to an infantry lance.
A Zealot issuing orders to his subordinates in Old Mombasa.
A Zealot attacking SPARTAN-B312 from the latter's perspective.
A Covenant remnant Zealot charging a SPARTAN-IV.
 List of appearances
- Halo: Combat Evolved (First appearance)
- Halo 2
- Halo Graphic Novel
- Halo: The Cole Protocol
- Halo Wars
- Halo: Reach
- Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
- Halo 4
- ^ In Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, Zealots wear a gold-colored version of the standard combat harness. This led to the long-held misconception that golden armor reflects a Sangheili's status as a Zealot. It was first implied in Halo: Reach and later confirmed in Halo: The Great Journey: The Art of Building Worlds that golden armor merely indicates the wearer's position as a field commander. Halo: The Essential Visual Guide states that all the golden-armored Elites seen in the first two games are Zealots; the color of their armor thus indicates that all Zealots in these games are field commanders rather than, (or in addition to), being artifact hunters.
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 60
- ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia (2011), page 134
- ^ a b c Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 142
- ^ a b c d e Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 138-139
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level The Truth and Reconciliation
- ^ a b Halo Graphic Novel, The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2011), page 135
- ^ Halo 4 Interactive Guide
- ^ a b c Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 49
- ^ a b Halo: Reach
- ^ Halo: The Great Journey: The Art of Building Worlds, page 52
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 197