Jul 'Mdama (formerly 'Mdamaee), known to his followers as the "Didact's Hand" or the "Hand of the Didact", was a Sangheili shipmaster previously in the service of the Covenant during its war against humanity. Fueled by hatred for humanity after the death of his wife, 'Mdama became the supreme leader and founder of a new Covenant faction in the wake of the Great Schism. Despite years of eluding the public light, his activities on the shield world Requiem established him as a highly valued target for the United Nations Space Command. Because of this, Spartan-IVs notably trained against a simulated version of him in Warzone.
Early life and military career
Jul was born on March 5, 2489, in the state of Mdama on Sanghelios. Years later he would marry Raia 'Mdama, with whom he had two sons, Dural and Asum. At some point he became the elder of Bekan keep in Mdama. During the last third of the Human-Covenant War he served in the Covenant military under the name 'Mdamaee as the shipmaster of a Covenant ORS-class heavy cruiser, the Blight of the Profane. While he was away he left the management of his ancestral estate of Bekan keep to Raia and her grandbrother, Naxan.
Like many other Sangheili, when Jul 'Mdamaee was forced out of the Covenant during the Great Schism, he abridged his surname to 'Madama, dropping the "ee" suffix and renouncing his service of the High Prophets.
After the end of the war and the fall of the Covenant, 'Mdama still felt mistrust and resentment toward humanity, comparing them to the Flood in some respects, believing the species would not stop their colonization efforts. He did, however, grudgingly admit that while they were not the best at anything, they were good enough at everything to survive. In January 2553 he attended a meeting with Kaidon Levu 'Mdama and Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. He asked the Arbiter what his plans were for the humans and expressed his desire to finish them off while they were still recovering. After 'Vadam announced he would try to make peace with the humans, Jul and his fellow shipmaster Forze 'Mdama decided that humanity would not change and that they must be stopped. Jul later met with Levu in private. Although the kaidon disliked humanity and believed they were a threat to the Sangheili, Levu did not believe that the Sangheili had the capability to wipe out the entire species and that peace was currently a better option.
On February 1, 2553, 'Mdama and Forze allied with Avu Med 'Telcam purely out of pragmatism, as his cult, the Servants of the Abiding Truth, were best equipped to assassinate 'Vadam. 'Telcam took them on a tour of the Temple of the Abiding Truth, pointing out symbols that may lead to the Halos. The three met with Buran 'Utaral, another member of the Abiding Truth and a former shipmaster. Together the four traveled to the Aanrar Shipyard to steal Buran's former frigate, Unflinching Resolve. After simply going to the bridge of the ship and stealing the vessel, telling the shipyard's dockmaster they were taking the frigate for assessments, Unflinching Resolve was brought to 'Mdama and hidden in Bekan quarry near Jul's keep. Shortly after, 'Telcam left to meet with his weapons supplier. 'Mdama suggested that they should move Unflinching Resolve to the planet where 'Telcam received his weapon shipments, but 'Telcam refused to reveal its name or location. 'Mdama became suspicious of 'Telcam's benefactors and secretly followed him to New Llanelli. After he discovered 'Telcam receiving weapons from the Office of Naval Intelligence, 'Mdama was discovered and captured by Spartan Naomi-010.
Imprisonment on Trevelyan
Detained aboard UNSC Port Stanley, Jul was interrogated by Professor Evan Phillips and the shipboard AI, Black-Box. 'Mdama was then transferred to ONI Research Facility Trevelyan, where he was placed in captivity under the supervision of Dr. Irena Magnusson.
Meanwhile, 'Mdama plotted his escape. While he no longer believed that the Forerunners were gods, he pretended to remain a devout follower of the Covenant religion as a cover for visiting Forerunner sites, enabling him to learn about various parts of Forerunner history. During his stay on the planet he was fed genetically modified versions of food from Sanghelios, causing him to feel very sick. 'Mdama had several conversations with his Huragok escort, Prone to Drift; he learned about the Didact and how he was sealed away on a shield world, Requiem, as well as that Requiem's location was kept from the Huragok. During this time he also learned of the Office of Naval Intelligence's plans to eradicate the Sangheili. He was later reunited with Professor Phillips. Jul asked Phillips for news about his wife Raia, whom Phillips had last seen in company with Forze. Phillips promised him that he would find out what had happened to her.
Eventually, after regaining his strength, he forced Prone to disable his explosive collar and to allow him through a malfunctioning portal that he found. This led him to Hesduros, a Sangheili colony world. Given the colony's isolation from the galaxy since before the Great Schism and its inhabitants' continued devotion to the Forerunners, Jul was able to win them over by portraying his experience on Trevelyan in a religious light. After contacting Sanghelios and learning of his wife's death, Jul was enraged by humanity's responsibility and grieved by the Forerunner ruins he had arrived in. He eventually identified the markings on the ruins as coordinates to Requiem and convinced the inhabitants of Hesduros to aid him in his search for the Didact and the eradication of humanity. Jul began to assemble a large fleet for his new faction, with the CAS-class assault carrier Song of Retribution serving as his flagship. It was here that Jul would establish a new faction, giving it the same name as the original Covenant.
Requiem and the Didact
'Mdama and his followers arrived at Requiem in 2554. Over the next three years his Covenant tried to enter the planet, but to no avail. In July 2557, several of his ships identified a human vessel, UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, drifting toward the planet. 'Mdama ordered his troops to board the ship and keep the humans away from Requiem. They were unsuccessful as the human and Covenant ships in the area were pulled inside Requiem's outer shell. Jul and his forces were eventually able to find their way to the core, where the Didact's Cryptum was located. Jul landed near the Didact's Cryptum and personally engaged Promethean forces under the Librarian's control. Spartan John-117 unknowingly opened the Cryptum, releasing the Didact. 'Mdama and his forces stopped fighting immediately to bow to the Promethean; Jul quickly recognized the Forerunner and called out his name. His Covenant later engaged the crew of UNSC Infinity after the ship's arrival and eventually followed the Didact to ONI's Ivanoff Station.
In February 2558, 'Mdama continued to lead the Covenant forces on Requiem, and due to his earlier alliance with the Ur-Didact, maintained some control of the Promethean Knights on the shield world. With his forces engaged in multiple conflicts, 'Mdama leaked his plans for Requiem to human intelligence services, planning to draw the UNSC into a war of attrition. Not only would this allow him to cement his control of the Covenant but also sacrifice those forces he did not feel were entirely loyal. ONI took the bait, with the UNSC Infinity arriving in February 2558. A Forerunner artifact secured by Spartan Fireteam Crimson and brought aboard Infinity transported Doctor Henry Glassman to a Covenant base on the planet. 'Mdama came to oversee his soldiers when Glassman, alive but injured, was brought before him by several other Sangheili. 'Mdama put Glassman to work at a Forerunner "shrine", which he correctly believed contained the remnants of the Librarian's consciousness in AI form. He intended to use Glassman to reactivate the shrine, allowing him to communicate with the Librarian and ask for her aid in reclaiming the Forerunners' technological wonders.
After Fireteam Castle were killed by Covenant forces the UNSC began searching for 'Mdama, now know by the epithet "the Didact's Hand". Fireteam Crimson was sent to 'Mdama's location, Two Giants; however, soon after Crimson engaged Promethean forces 'Mdama escaped through a slipspace portal. When Crimson followed him to the Fortress, he escaped through yet another portal to the Cauldron. When Crimson tracked 'Mdama through the Cauldron he tried to escape again, but not before Commander Sarah Palmer called in an airstrike on 'Mdama's location. He managed to escape, but not before dropping another Forerunner device. 'Mdama oversaw the Covenant's attempt to retrieve the device from Galileo Base with his lieutenant, Gek 'Lhar, but was only creating a diversion for the humans. 'Mdama was actually using the artifact recovered by Fireteam Crimson as a communication terminal, allowing Jul to anonymously communicate with Dr. Catherine Halsey via her datapad and to spy on Infinity. After Halsey was removed from the room by Commander Palmer and Captain Lasky, Glassman managed to activate something in the shrine, prompting all the present Sangheili (save him) to bow before the artifact. With his captors distracted, Glassman escaped from the antechamber. After the artifact's energy sphere rejected Jul, the Sangheili commander directed his fury at the now-missing Glassman; six Sangheili pursued the scientist in the tunnels but Jul held Gek back. Stating that Glassman's escape was unacceptable, Gek reassured Jul that he would deal with the matter personally, leaving Jul and his two guards alone with the artifact.
Some time later Dr. Halsey contacted 'Mdama, informing him that she had deduced he was her helper but that their alliance could free the Librarian. However, the ship's AI, Roland, was able to recover from Halsey's subterfuge and cut off the connection. After this 'Mdama ordered the Covenant and Prometheans to board Infinity through the artifact to capture Dr. Halsey. Despite significant losses the Prometheans managed to capture the doctor. She was then taken to "Librarian's Rest", where 'Mdama had her disable the shield previously erected by Doctor Glassman's attempts to access the shrine. As the shield deactivated she quickly entered the beam of light being produced by the shrine; she vanished, to 'Mdama's great anger.
When Halsey returned from the shrine she was clutching the Librarian's "gift": the Janus Key. She flew out right into 'Mdama's arm; he immediately grabbed half the half of the Key he saw her holding. Thinking that it was actually the whole device, 'Mdama seemed disappointed and frustrated that the gift he had sought at great length was nothing more than a useless artifact. At that moment, however, Spartan Fireteam Majestic infiltrated Copernicus Base and killed 'Mdama's guards, with Halsey quickly tossing to Thorne her half of the Key, leaving 'Mdama with only his stolen half. 'Mdama quickly summoned several Promethean Knights to protect him, just as Spartan Palmer arrived with orders to kill Doctor Halsey. She shot Halsey in the shoulder, wounding her, before 'Mdama managed to grab Halsey and summon another Knight to teleport him and Halsey away. Following this, 'Mdama put Requiem on a collision course with its star and announced that any Covenant who did not flee the planet would die with it.
After fleeing Requiem aboard Song of Retribution, Jul learned of the Janus Key's nature — specifically that the UNSC had the other half. He confronted Halsey over her betrayal, saying he should have let her bleed to death from her injury. Halsey retorted that the UNSC had tried to kill her and that he would need to offer her more than threats if he wanted her to help him. 'Mdama asked her what she wanted, to which Halsey replied that she wanted revenge.
Approximately one month after the destruction of Requiem, Infinity had yet to locate 'Mdama or Halsey. The destroyer UNSC Vociferous was given the task of tracking down 'Mdama while Infinity was reassigned to provide security for a diplomatic conference between Thel 'Vadam and the Jiralhanae on Ealen IV.
At some point while on Requiem, Jul's forces had recovered a Forerunner artifact that could "speak" to Infinity's engine systems. The artifact would be able to render the ship immobile and allow Jul to steal the other half of the Janus Key. On July 15, 2558, Jul's forces attacked Oban, a human colony in the midst of settlement. The attack was advocated by Dr. Halsey, who believed that a bold move was the only way to attract Infinity. After the attack failed 'Mdama's lieutenants called for Halsey's execution, though Jul defended her actions. After Infinity attempted to enter slipspace for Galileo II base, 'Mdama's Forerunner artifact forcefully brought it back into normal space and trapped the vessel in an uncharted system. Aboard a CCS-class battlecruiser, Halsey informed Jul that they did not need to attack the ship as Infinity's would now be willing to hand over the other half of the Janus Key directly. One of 'Mdama's commanders revealed to him that a group of mutineers had been discovered. While some were killed and one was captured, many of them escaped to nearby planet Aktis IV's surface. 'Mdama briefly interrogated one of the captives and learned that the Zealot Sali 'Nyon led the rebellion. Upon hearing this he killed the captured insurgent and ordered that all other rebels be killed on sight.
Meanwhile, at Halsey's urging, 'Mdama had a fake Forerunner artifact placed in a Forerunner structure on Aktis IV. Per Halsey's plan, Glassman and a team of Spartans discovered the artifact and believed that it was related to the Janus Key. Halsey and Jul watched Glassman's investigation from Song of Retribution; when 'Mdama expressed mock abhorrence at creating a copy of a "holy" Forerunner object, Halsey revealed that she knew Jul's public persona is a mere façade. Glassman requested for Infinity to deliver their half of the Janus Key to him on the planet's surface for further analysis. Anticipating this, 'Mdama had troops ready to ambush the UNSC convoy carrying their half of the Key. Much to 'Mdama's surprise, the dropship carrying the other half was shot down before he could give an order. In the confusion, the rest of the Covenant strike force began the attack. 'Mdama decided to scourge the Pelican crash site himself and ordered Halsey to remain aboard his carrier. Unknown to him, Sali 'Nyon was responsible for shooting down the Pelican and he claimed half of the Janus Key for himself. Upon arriving planetside, 'Mdama and his forces began to eliminate the traitors. Jul ignored a Zealot's suggestion for him to return to his carrier for safety. Upon learning that his forces had almost broken past the human fortifications, he ordered troops to kill all the humans once they gained access to their site; however, he told them to spare Glassman as a special punishment awaited him.
'Mdama later had Halsey brought planetside from Song of Retribution. Upon discovering the location of 'Nyon's base, Jul witnessed his forces lay siege to the base from afar. 'Mdama was informed that a defector from 'Nyon's forces had made contact with Halsey's convoy. The defector gave Halsey the half of the Janus Key he had stolen from 'Nyon and Jul diverted most of the Phantoms to deal with the UNSC forces elsewhere on the island, confident that the battle would soon be won. When the insurgent faction was eliminated, 'Nyon was captured, restrained, and brought before Jul by a Zealot. As punishment, 'Mdama decided that 'Nyon would be kept alive. Elsewhere on the island, Halsey's escort was ambushed by Spartans Sarah Palmer, Gabriel Thorne, and Naiya Ray. However, during the ensuring conflict, Halsey managed to escape with her half of the Janus Key. She contacted 'Mdama, who sent for a Phantom to return her to Song of Retribution. With both halves of the Janus Key in their possession, 'Mdama and his fleet fled the system. Jul and Halsey used the combined Janus Key to project a holographic map, which pinpointed the location of the Absolute Record.
The Absolute Record
With both halves of the Janus Key, Jul and his fleet worked to find the exact location of the Absolute Record, while hiding within the Urs system. Since the battle at Aktis IV, Jul's forces had grown and the losses from the previous battle were less severe than he had feared. Jul kept Sali 'Nyon in captivity aboard his flagship and personally interrogated him, though the failed revolutionist only implied that Jul will soon realize the amount of insurgents that remain in his ranks. On September 15, 2558, Halsey finished another analysis of the Janus Key and believed to have finally pinpointed the Absolute Record's exact location. Two days later, as the fleet prepared to depart for the Absolute Record, a Phantom carrying Spartans Palmer, Thorne, Holly Tanaka, Dr. Glassman, and Ayit 'Sevi—a mercenary and ONI operative within Jul's ranks—boarded Breath of Annihilation, intent on revealing the location of the Absolute Record to the UNSC. Jul's fleet arrived at an apparently artificial gas giant with a slipspace portal leading to the Absolute Record. Before the fleet could press forward, slipspace ruptures materialized around the fleet, destroying at least two ships and damaging Breath of Annihilation. Furious about the damage done to his fleet, 'Mdama threw Halsey into a bulkhead, blaming her for the fleet's losses. As the two argued about their situation, Halsey reminded him that the technology they discover at the Absolute Record will more than compensate for his losses. To further calm down the enraged 'Mdama, Halsey told him that once he is in control of the installation's "treasures", 'Mdama will be seen as a god.
'Mdama decided to make a second attempt to travel to the Absolute Record, though he determined that only Song of Retribution would enter the portal; the rest of the fleet would wait on the other side of the portal, with Breath of Annihilation making repairs at a nearby moon. Once they learned of 'Mdama's intentions, Palmer, Tanaka, and Glassman traveled aboard Retribution to follow him to the Absolute Record, while 'Sevi and Thorne remained behind on Annihilation. Meanwhile, rumors of a Spartan presence within the fleet reached 'Mdama, though his worries were dismissed by Halsey who did not believe that the Spartans could stop them. Retribution entered the portal and arrived at the Absolute Record's exterior. The carrier was observed by the site's custodian ancilla, who detected the humans aboard the ship. Arriving at the platform alongside dozens of Zealots, 'Mdama and Halsey encountered the AI. Halsey asked to be given access to the Absolute Record, but the AI denied her request and had its Sentinels transport the humans hiding aboard Retribution to the platform, much to the surprise of 'Mdama and Halsey. The AI intended to have each human explain their reason for accessing the Absolute Record before taking any action. However, an impatient Zealot attacked the Sentinels, leading to the constructs attacking the Sangheili and humans. Suddenly, the AI removed the platform from under the feet of the Sangheili with Tanaka, Palmer, and Glassman remaining on one platform and Halsey standing on another, while 'Mdama managed to grab onto Halsey's platform as his soldiers plummeted to their deaths. The AI then decided to use a more direct examination to decide who would access the Absolute Record.
The AI teleported the opposing parties to different locations, and gave them a morality test based on a hypothetical scenario: Whether or not to kill and harvest a sentient race that could provide a defense against the Flood. Although Jul personally thought it would be best to harvest the race, he suspected the correct answer was to spare it. Halsey, however, answered that she would sacrifice the species. Glassman, on the other hand, chose to spare the species. The AI told both parties separately that they had given the "correct" answer. It then asked each party whether it should incinerate the "losing" party or merely keep them contained. Jul began to ask the AI to strip the Spartans of their armor for study before incinerating them, but before the AI could respond, Halsey remotely disabled the construct, releasing everyone from confinement.
Halsey entered the Record alone, while Jul waited outside. During this time, Jul grew impatient and felt Halsey needed to be reminded that she worked for him. Halsey, however, decided to terminate their partnership and activated the defense systems, causing the nearby Sentinels to attack Jul and his followers. After defending themselves from the attacking Sentinels who then weakened in their attack, Jul decided that this was the moment to bring the Song of Retribution into position to glass the Absolute Record. Jul then gave the order, and in so doing, had the Song of Retribution destroy the Absolute Record, and all that it contained. Getting back on the Song, he ordered a slipspace departure. Unexpectedly, an incoming Phantom held the unconscious Dr. Catherine Halsey in it, delaying the departure by a few minutes.
Some time later, with the Breath of Annihilation now under Sali 'Nyon's control, Jul decided to retake his ship. However, it ended up in a stalemate with the two assault carriers battling each other. Presumably, the Song of Retribution survived, leaving 'Mdama and Halsey to plan their next course of action.
Death on Kamchatka
In October 2558, Halsey's usefulness to 'Mdama was rapidly drawing to a close. Realizing that her demise was certain if she continued to remain in the Covenant, Halsey led 'Mdama and his followers to the frigid Forerunner world of Kamchatka. Unbeknownst to 'Mdama, the trip to Kamchatka was actually a trap set by Halsey, who had contacted the UNSC and established a plan to rendezvous with UNSC Infinity in order to escape 'Mdama's Covenant. By this point, 'Mdama's Covenant had started to fracture, due to his former Promethean allies turning against him. Fireteam Osiris soon arrived on Kamchatka, having been deployed by Infinity to rescue Halsey and assassinate 'Mdama. After the Spartans succeeded in fighting their way through Covenant and Promethean forces battling their own war across the world's surface, Osiris located Halsey and 'Mdama at a temple. 'Mdama and his Zealot guards engaged the Spartans in a close-quarters fight, but they were easily defeated; after a brief fight with Jameson Locke, 'Mdama was fatally slashed across the stomach and stabbed in the abdomen and neck by the Spartan and quickly died from his injuries.
'Mdama's death proved to be one of the final nails in his dying Covenant's coffin, as the faction soon became destabilized and many defected to the Swords of Sanghelios. In the Battle of Sunaion later that month, they were utterly defeated due to the combined efforts of the UNSC and the Swords of Sanghelios. Following his death, a simulation of 'Mdama was recreated for the War Games simulation aboard UNSC Infinity. The opportunity to kill the simulated warlord became highly sought after by every Spartan-IV in the Spartan branch—particularly by those who took part in the Requiem Campaign.
Personality and motives
Jul 'Mdama's hatred for humanity initially stemmed not from any religious issues, but from a fear that humans will eventually overrun the galaxy and ultimately drive the Sangheili to extinction. He compared humans to the Flood in this regard. When Thel 'Vadam proposed making peace with the humans, 'Mdama was skeptical and insisted humans could not be trusted. His distrust and hate for humanity was only reinforced by his subsequent abduction and captivity by the Office of Naval Intelligence. After the death of his wife, however, 'Mdama's primary motivation for destroying humanity changed from a matter of species survival to personal vengeance for what he perceived as their role in her demise. Despite his hatred and distrust for humanity as a whole, 'Mdama was still willing to work with certain human individuals, such as Dr. Catherine Halsey, when necessary. Likewise, he also had no qualms over using human languages such as English if it will achieve his objectives.
Although 'Mdama often displayed typical Sangheili aggression and did not hesitate to use force or the threat of force to accomplish his goals, he could be both patient and highly manipulative at times. During his captivity on Trevelyan, 'Mdama placated his human captors by behaving according to their expectations of his species, while simultaneously gleaning information on ONI's plans whenever possible. He also convinced Prone to Drift to give him key information about Requiem and the Ur-Didact, later forcing the Huragok to aid him in his escape by threatening to detonate his explosive vest and damage the installation - something he anticipated Prone would be unwilling to risk. Later, during the Requiem campaign, 'Mdama deliberately allowed the crew of Infinity to take possession of the slipspace artifact, playing on their assumption that the Covenant wanted the artifact for themselves. The artifact later enabled his forces to board Infinity and abduct Dr. Halsey, at the same time physically binding the ship to Requiem. Prior to attacking Infinity, 'Mdama attempted to gain Halsey's trust by sending her anonymous messages offering information about the Prometheans. He further appealed to her scientific curiosity by delivering to her the "soul" of a Promethean Knight. He was surprised, though not overly upset, when Halsey contacted him and revealed that she had known his identity all along.
'Mdama was mostly disillusioned with the Covenant's religion. Not only did he no longer believe in the Great Journey, but he had come to accept the fact that the Forerunners were never gods. While he liked the comfort of his old belief that they were gods, he saw the fact that the Forerunners made mistakes as proof that they were not divine. He further reasoned that the Forerunners never expected or intended to be worshiped as gods in the first place. As such, 'Mdama had no qualms with exploiting or even destroying Forerunner artifacts to achieve his goals. He was also not averse to using human weapons such as the HAVOK nuclear warheads his forces captured on Requiem. He also demonstrated no regard for protecting Forerunner relics as he destroyed Requiem.
Despite his personal loss of faith in the Forerunners as gods, 'Mdama put on a convincing public image of a devout religious leader in the eyes of his followers. 'Mdama's awareness of the many loopholes and contradictions regarding Sangheili honor and religion allowed him to bend or circumvent cultural rules without sullying his reputation. On Hesduros he garnered support from the colonists there by touting his knowledge of the Forerunners and later playing on the colonists' belief that the "gods" had sent him. Though uncomfortable with this charade, he rationalized it by telling himself that not only is the deception necessary, but the only thing he was truly lying about is his own faith (or lack thereof), something he considered a personal issue. Later, when Halsey revealed in private that she knew about his lack of faith, he was surprised, but did not further press the issue.
As the leader of the Covenant, 'Mdama wore armor commonly used by the Zealots of the new Covenant order. However, it was painted blue similar to the coloration worn by less experienced Sangheili soldiers. His high position was indicated by a holographic symbol that hovers over the forehead of his helmet. His armor featured multiple painted white handprints with Didact's unbound symbols on the palm, indicating his status as "the Didact's Hand."
List of appearances