Covenant Honor Guard
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This article is about the Covenant Honor Guard. For other uses, see Honor Guard.
The Covenant Honor Guard were a special unit of Covenant warriors tasked with providing security for the High Council. They were traditionally composed of Sangheili members, but were replaced by Jiralhanae during the Great Schism.
After the War of Beginnings, the two sides formed the Covenant. The San'Shyuum were to be the governmental leaders and scientists, with the Sangheili as their protectors and main military force. The Covenant Honor Guards were established to protect the Covenant High Council and Hierarchs. The Honor Guard was formed as early as 851 BCE.
Between 2542 and 2552, the Honor Guard were charged with defending a Lesser Prophet on a Covenant-controlled planet that served as a major logistics base. Unfortunately for them, a team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers infiltrated the planet and assassinated the Prophet from a distance of two miles before the Honor Guard could intervene.
On October 20, 2552, Covenant military and naval forces invaded Earth. The High Prophet of Regret and his fleet came to Earth to find the Ark, a Forerunner installation where they could fire all of the Halo installations and complete the Great Journey. Being pursued by United Nations Space Command forces, Solemn Penance escaped by going into slipspace in New Mombasa, Kenya with Regret aboard.
When they arrived on Installation 05, Regret and his Sangheili Honor Guardsmen stationed themselves at a temple in the middle of a lake near the Quarantine Zone of the Library. Much to the Prophet's surprise, the human vessel UNSC In Amber Clad followed him to the installation. The UNSC forces aboard, led by Commander Miranda Keyes, initiated an assault on the temple with the intent of capturing or killing the Prophet. SPARTAN-II John-117 led the attack, infiltrating the temple and entering the Prophet's chamber. The Sangheili Honor Guardsmen fought furiously to protect the Hierarch, but ultimately could not prevent John-117 from killing the Prophet of Regret.
Changing of the Guard
Following the catastrophic failure of Sangheili forces in safeguarding Installation 04, the Hierarchs' confidence in the abilities of the Sangheili wavered. Their willingness to trust the Sangheili as their personal protectors declined even further when the Prophet of Regret's bodyguards failed to save him from death at the hands of the "Demon"—John-117. As a result, the High Prophets of Truth and Mercy ordered the Sangheili to step down as the protectors of the Prophets. This event was not approved of by the High Council and some Sangheili High Councilors threatened to resign from the Council. Truth had forged an alliance to rid the Covenant of the Sangheili with Tartarus and the Jiralhanae, and so Truth had the Jiralhanae fill in the void left by the disgraced Sangheili.
The Great Schism
At the Battle of the Quarantine Zone in November 3, 2552, Chieftain Tartarus retrieved the activation index from Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee, and moments attempted to kill the Arbiter by sending him falling to his presumed death. Meanwhile, the Hierarchs had a majority of the Sangheili High Councilors and former Sangheili Honor Guardsmen met in the Control Room of Installation 05 to begin the preparations for the Great Journey. However, Jiralhanae Captain Melchus led a large contingent of Jiralhanae into the Control Room and massacred the Councilors and former Honor Guards. These actions, charged to Tartarus and Melchus by the High Prophets, started the Great Schism, that would last for several years.
During the Fall of High Charity, the Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen were put into more of an infantry role fighting the Sangheili still on the capital world and on ships in orbit. Later during the battle on High Charity, the Prophets of Truth and Mercy along with their personal Jiralhanae Honor Guards fled towards a landing pad where they would leave on the Forerunner Dreadnought in the middle of the city. During this, the Flood, led by the Gravemind, begin their invasion of High Charity. A lone Pod infector that slipped past the Jiralhanae guards, grasped onto Mercy's chest and began his assimilation into a proto-Gravemind. Truth, not wanting any potential threat to his ultimate supremacy, prevented the Guards from saving Mercy and allowed the old Prophet to die.
The Jiralhanae Honor Guard continued to defend the Prophet through the final days of the Human-Covenant War, though by the time of the Covenant's final stand on The Ark, their ranks had been drastically depleted. With Truth's death, the fragmentation of the Covenant and the rise of the Swords of Sanghelios as the main governing body of the title's former bearers, it's highly likely that the Honor Guard has ceased to exist.
The members of the Honor Guard served as personal protection for the San'Shyuum and Sangheili High Councilors of the Covenant High Council. They were the most skilled of warriors and were hand-picked for the duty of protecting the High Prophets, as well as members of the High Council, from any danger. In accordance with their duties, they were unwaveringly loyal to the individuals they protected and would defend them to the death. Honor Guardsmen were expected to kill anyone who drew a weapon in the presence of a Hierarch. Honor Guardsmen were also found in the Ministry towers on High Charity, protecting the Ministry workers from any possible threats. Following the Changing of the Guard, the Sangheili High Councilors were unwilling to trust the new Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen and employed Sangheili serving in the Covenant military instead.
The highly ornate armor of the Honor Guard consisted of a red-and-black combat harness adorned with glowing orange panels. Honor Guards were typically equipped with standard Covenant weaponry such as Okarda'phaa-pattern plasma rifles and Vostu-pattern carbines. When they were not in combat, Honor Guardsmen would wield bladed energy staves. However, the staves were largely ceremonial and Honor Guardsmen would prefer to arm themselves with Type-1 energy swords. The armor was designed to indicate that serving in the position of an Honor Guardsman was a great privilege.
Although Guard service was a great honor, it was seen by some Sangheili and Jiralhanae as a merely ceremonial duty and its members were unlikely to experience combat first hand. Though moved to a specialist rank, the Honor Guardsmen retain their old armors, indicating that most Honor Guards are formerly Sangheili Majors, Sangheili Ultras, or Jiralhanae Captains. Wherever a High Prophet was located, an Honor Guardsman would always be by their side. There could be as many as three hundred Honor Guardsmen for each Prophet, as a chamber within the Sanctum of the Hierarchs seemed designed to hold three hundred Honor Guards.
The Lights of Sanghelios was a subgroup of the Covenant Honor Guard that represented the most adept and highest-ranking combat units within the Guard. These soldiers were typically charged with the protection of a San'Shyuum or a Ministry tower. The Sangheili within the unit often oversaw standard Honor Guardsmen in numerous battles and engagements. Sangheili Guardsmen serving in the Lights of Sanghelios were identified from other Honor Guardsmen by the bright-white armor coloring.
List of appearances