348 kilometres (216.2 mi)
Numerous concealed weapon emplacements
October 2552 (UNSC)
- "Shall we let the Flood consume our holy city? Turn High Charity into another of their wretched hives? No enemy has ever withstood our might. The Flood too shall fail."
- —The High Prophet of Truth
High Charity, also known as the Holy City of the Covenant or the Prophets' Holy City, was the Covenant's mobile capital city and center of government. It was a massive space station, home to millions of individuals from each of the Covenant's member species. As it was the Covenant's major religious center and capital, High Charity was enormously sacred to the Covenant. It was thought that true believers should visit it at least once in one's lifetime, though few of the Covenant could afford to do so. Home to the Hierarchs and the High Council, the city was full of San'Shyuum and Sangheili High Councilors, and the general leadership of the entire alien hegemony.
Design and construction
High Charity was a massive mushroom-shaped structure, about 348 kilometers in diameter. It was partially constructed from an enormous chunk of rock that had been blasted away from Janjur Qom by the Forerunner Dreadnought, with the rest of the superstructure being built around it. Inside the hollow dome of the station was a massive multi-leveled city, and within the foundation rock was a honeycomb structure of hangar bays and weapons platforms. The dome itself was overlaid with a strident energy shield known as "Plaon's Gaze", due to it being powered by minerals extracted from Plaon, Janjur Qom's moon. Underneath this shield was a shroud sewn of dust taken from both Janjur Qom and Sanghelios referred to as the "Skin of the First Worlds". Surrounding the open nave at the dome's crest was the high seat of the Prophets, known as the "Fount of Light".
An "artificial star" at the peak of the dome simulated natural sunlight within the city, and its glow would periodically dim and intensify to simulate day and night cycles. A typical day on High Charity was roughly comparable to 265 units, or one cycle (equivalent to 265 Earth hours). The interior artificial environment on the station was Earth-like, with a generated gravity of 0.95 G, a nitrogen-oxygen-argon atmosphere of 1.03 atmospheres and a temperature range of 10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75°F). The "stalk" beneath the dome was a mass of some 8,930 semi-rigid umbilical docking tethers.
The station received the majority of its power from the Forerunner Dreadnought, the ship at the center of the city. The city was completely powered by the engines of the decommissioned Forerunner vessel. The Dreadnought's engines were powerful enough to run the city on a fraction of their potential output. However, the station also possessed a set of backup auxiliary reactors that were capable of generating enough power for slipspace travel.
In the internal hub of High Charity lay an extremely large capital city with a population of just over 23,800,000 San'Shyuum and millions more of the Covenant's denizens making their homes there. At the center sat the Forerunner Dreadnought, embedded within the city after the formation of the Covenant as a symbol of conviction and peace between the Sangheili and the San'Shyuum.
The city itself contained many locations sacred to the Covenant such as the High Council Chamber, the Sanctum of the Hierarchs and the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. As a construct, High Charity was very similar to the Unyielding Hierophant, a repair and refit station, though it also served as a mobile command post. Unlike many small Covenant vessels and their UNSC counterparts, High Charity contained many courtyards and other non-essential spaces which gave the station a terrestrial feel. The interior of High Charity was filled with the Covenant's unique architecture, of a lighter tone than their naval vessels. All of the structures within the city floated above a methane-rich field in which the millions of High Charity's Unggoy dwelled. The massive towers around the dome were gigantic spires of volcanic rock from the city's base, interwoven with metal supports and covered with decorative alloy. They were used by the San'Shyuum as offices and private residences. Further in the bedrock of the planetoid were subterranean warrens, which served as living quarters for the Sangheili and were nearly airtight and self-sufficient.
Along the outer wall on the inside of High Charity were several towers, each containing their own rooms and hallways. Two of these towers were referred to by Cortana as the Mid Tower and the Far Tower. Most of these towers were connected to the two surrounding towers by the Hanging Gardens and the Valleys of Tears, but the towers containing the High Council Chamber and the Mausoleum of the Arbiter were both notably only connected to the sections between them. Hanging far above the Mausoleum of the Arbiter was a part of the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, a large chamber decorated with shards of glass from worlds glassed by the Covenant. The districts located within the towers were collectively known as the Tower Districts, while the regions below them were referred to as the lower districts. The lower districts were home to most of High Charity's vast Unggoy population, as well as factories where Covenant war matériel was produced, such as the Assembly Forges and the Sacred Promissory. Populations of Kig-Yar and San'Shyuum were also native to the lower districts.
High Charity was surrounded at all times by its own defense fleet, which consisted of hundreds of battleships, carriers and cruisers. Some of the biggest fleets in the entire Covenant armada defended the city, such as the Second Fleet of Homogeneous Clarity. It was also capable of refitting and housing thousands of vessels ranging in size from personal fliers to cruisers on its umbilical docks and within its internal hangar bays. Hidden within the station's founding bedrock were carefully shielded weapons platforms which boasted firepower unrivaled by even the largest Covenant battleships.
In addition to its enormous defense fleet and impressive firepower, it was also guarded by a rapid detection network of slipspace probes. Anything larger than a millimeter in diameter that drifted too close was engaged and obliterated, including ships that failed to transmit the proper clearance codes within a millisecond of being hailed. The clearance codes that granted access to High Charity's space were also updated on an hourly basis.
Despite its considerable defense assets, High Charity was unable to prevent the Flood from infiltrating its interior, due to the Covenant civil war. The Flood-captured UNSC In Amber Clad made a precise slipspace jump into the interior of the station, bypassing the station's defenses.
Long before the formation of the Covenant, the San'Shyuum Schism between the Reformists and the Stoics ended when the Forerunner Dreadnought launched from the San'Shyuum homeworld, Janjur Qom. The ship's launch ripped a huge chunk of rock from the planet in the process, which was carried with the Dreadnought during its escape. This chunk would later form the foundation of High Charity.
The construction of the station began during the San'Shyuum-Sangheili War, and when the two races allied with one another with the ratification of the Writ of Union in 852 BCE, High Charity was made the capital of the newborn Covenant; a physical representation of the alliance between the two species. The Forerunner Dreadnought was stripped of all known weapons and permanently installed inside the center of High Charity, its engines providing power to the entire station. The station's construction lasted for over two centuries, concluding in 648 BCE; the city's dome was not yet fully erected by the time of the Taming of the Lekgolo in 784 BCE. While the dome was under construction by both organic and robotic labor, the city was gradually settled, its atmosphere held in by forcefields.
Due to many years of peace for the Covenant, the growing Unggoy population on High Charity forced many of the Kig-Yar to relocate their homes and nests. The relocation caused stress for female Kig-Yar that were going through their incubation cycles, and Kig-Yar infant mortality rose on High Charity and the birth rate declined. In response, radical Kig-Yar shipmasters poisoned the Unggoy infusion supply, leading to the sterilization of many male Unggoy. After the Ministry of Concert failed to act accordingly, the Unggoy revolted on High Charity. Eventually, the rebellion was put down when an Arbiter partially glassed Balaho. Prior to the Human-Covenant War in 2525, High Charity was almost destroyed when the Forerunner Dreadnought was powered up by Mendicant Bias, who was galvanized by the discovery of "Reclaimers" by the Covenant. Bias attempted to reach Harvest to transport the occupants to the Ark. It was inadvertently deactivated by a Lekgolo who were used by the Covenant to probe the Dreadnought's machinery; a worm short-circuited the ship during the launch sequence.
The Sacred Rings and the Great Journey
Upon the discovery of Installation 04 by the Covenant, High Charity was supposed to perform a slipspace jump to the ring along with its fleet, where the Hierarchs would activate the ring to send the Covenant on the Great Journey. The Fleet of Particular Justice, led by then Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee, had already made its way to the ring while chasing the Halcyon-class light cruiser UNSC Pillar of Autumn, but they were unaware of the Flood's presence on the installation, and did not expect interference from the UNSC. When High Charity and its fleet arrived at Threshold, they found that both Installation 04 and most of the Fleet of Particular Justice had been utterly destroyed.
In the early stages of the Battle of Earth, the High Prophet of Regret sent the coordinates of Installation 05 to High Charity. The planetoid and its fleet arrived just in time to watch John-117 and a group of Marines assassinate Regret. It then held position over Installation 05 until hostilities erupted between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae, as the Great Schism began in November 2552.
Fall of High Charity
- Main article: Fall of High Charity
At the same time, the Flood made their own entrance, using the captured UNSC In Amber Clad to perform a slipspace jump into the interior of High Charity, bypassing its exterior defenses. Once inside, the Flood used Pelican dropships to spread both combat and carrier forms around the city. The Flood ravaged the Jiralhanae and Sangheili forces, who were already embroiled in conflict. John-117 was unfortunately caught in the middle of the battle, but eventually managed to escape.
Eventually, High Charity's Dreadnought took off, with both the Prophet of Truth and John-117 inside, leaving Cortana behind to detonate the crashed In Amber Clad's reactors to destroy the city if the Flood proved unstoppable. Remaining loyalist and separatist forces either evacuated from the city—likely to be destroyed by the Sangheili quarantine fleet—or were consumed by the Flood, as they overwhelmed all remaining opposition in the city. The Gravemind took complete control of the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, using the High Council Chamber itself as his "throne room". The Gravemind made drastic modifications to the former holy city in order to enable it to function without the Keyship that used to power it and to more effectively act as a carrier of the Flood parasite by altering and optimizing the native Covenant technology as well as applying its Precursor-derived knowledge.
Quarantine of High Charity
As High Charity and Installation 05 rapidly fell to the Flood, a massive battle between Sangheili- and Jiralhanae-held ships continued in the space around the city. The Sangheili eventually succeeded in driving away the Jiralhanae, or they possibly retreated on orders from Truth to assist in the conquest of Earth. However, this led to the fall of High Charity to the Flood under the command of the Gravemind, who used this as his second base and gain significant amount of ships. He sent one infected cruiser to Africa, with the intent of infesting all of Earth.
The Sangheili fleet formed a large perimeter and quarantined High Charity and Installation 05, attempting to prevent the Flood from infesting any other systems. Presumably all Flood ships—except for Indulgence of Conviction—were destroyed, according to a Sangheili Major that was deployed to assist the John-117 and incumbent Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. The pursuing Sangheili ships glassed parts of Africa to prevent further contamination.
On November 18, 2552, High Charity arrived in the Sol system and made a slipspace jump bound for the Ark near Mars at 1545 hours. The Gravemind was able to perform the jump under the city-station's own power rather than using the Portal at Voi due to the major modifications it had made and its knowledge of the esoteric techniques the Precursors once used. During the Battle of Installation 00 at the Citadel, High Charity appeared, disgorging Flood dispersal pods—one of which pierced Rtas 'Vadum's assault carrier Shadow of Intent—and crashed on the installation, having been weakened by the Gravemind's desperate ad hoc transit measure. Covered with Flood biomass and with the interior transformed into a Flood hive, High Charity was almost unrecognizable.
After stopping Truth from activating the rings, John-117 returned to the Flood-infested High Charity on a mission to retrieve Cortana. After successfully locating and retrieving her, he overloaded High Charity's backup reactor core and maneuvered back through High Charity to meet the Arbiter and reactivate a crashed Pelican dropship to escape the explosion. High Charity was almost completely destroyed in the resulting explosions, with only the outer structure remaining when Installation 04B was fired, its debris showering the inactive installation and the Ark below. The Gravemind managed to escape, and immediately began rebuilding itself on Installation 04B.
In other languages
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- High Charity is roughly 1/75 the size of a Halo installation. In the final cutscene of Halo 2, High Charity is shown as a small dot at the upper portion of the ring when Installation 05 deactivates.
- On January 18, 2524, a telescope on Mars captured the first known human image of High Charity while looking at the Rosetta Nebula. A colleague of Doctor Catherine Halsey sent a photograph of High Charity to her, unable to identify it but remarking that it was clearly alien and that it was larger than anything humanity had previously encountered.
- Connor Brien, a xeno-linguistic expert, stated that he was able to explore High Charity to a limited degree. However, exactly when or how he explored the Covenant holy city was not explained, though it is likely that this was before the Flood invasion of the holy city.
- Early concept art by Eddie Smith suggests that High Charity was originally going to be a Covenant flagship of a more streamlined design similar to other Covenant warships.
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide lists the population of High Charity as 23,831,346. According to the Bestiarum, however, this is the total pre-Great Schism San'Shyuum population, a notion supported by Halo: Contact Harvest, in which it is stated that there were "a little more than twenty million" San'Shyuum in the Covenant prior to the Human-Covenant War. Since not all San'Shyuum resided in High Charity and because the holy city had major permanent and transient populations of the other client species (including Unggoy habitats in the lower districts), the Visual Guide's claim can be considered erroneous.
Early concept art showing High Charity as a flagship for Halo 2.
High Charity at the beginning of the Great Schism.
Concept art of High Charity for Halo 3.
The Flood-infested High Charity during the Battle of Installation 00.
A size comparison between High Charity and the Forerunner Dreadnought.
Concept art of the battle in High Charity for Halo 2: Anniversary.
An overview of the Covenant's Holy City within High Charity in Halo 2: Anniversary's terminals.
A San'Shyuum scribe admiring the Covenant holy city.
List of appearances
- ^ The Flood repurposed High Charity as their main hive after successfully occupying and taking control of the city from the Covenant forces.
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 93
- ^ a b Halo 3, campaign level, Cortana
- ^ Halo Waypoint, Hero-Fortitude
- ^ a b c Halo 2, campaign level, High Charity
- ^ a b c d Halo 3, campaign level, Floodgate
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 304
- ^ Halo Waypoint: High Charity
- ^ a b c d Halo: Contact Harvest, page 145
- ^ a b Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 262-264
- ^ Halo Mythos, page 112
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 31
- ^ a b c d e Halo 2, campaign level, Gravemind
- ^ a b Halo: Contact Harvest, page 148
- ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia, page 306
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 149
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 146
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 86
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level, The Arbiter
- ^ a b Halo: First Strike, page 338 (2003 edition); page 405 (2010 edition)
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 261
- ^ Halo: The Essential Visual Guide
- ^ a b Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 150-152
- ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 6
- ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia, page 294
- ^ Halo 2 Anniversary, Terminal 8
- ^ Halo: Broken Circle, page 20
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 30
- ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 10
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 276
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 381
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level Heretic
- ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 13
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level, Regret
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level, Epilogue
- ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: The Halo Bulletin - 9.24.14
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 195
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Query - Catalog
- ^ a b Halo 3, campaign level, The Covenant
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level, Halo
- ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 205 (print), page 178 (Google Play edition)
- ^ Size comparison between Delta Halo and High Charity by Stephen Loftus
- ^ Halo: Reach, Dr. Halsey's personal journal
- ^ Halo: Evolutions, "Stomping on the Heels of a Fuss", page 92
- ^ Visualatrium, Concept Drawings. Traditional pen and marker. Project: Halo and Halo2
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 262