A Luminary is a Forerunner device designed to scan for and identify Forerunner relics. The Covenant reverse-engineered their own Luminaries, modeled and sculpted after an original Forerunner device recovered from the Covenant-controlled Forerunner Dreadnought. The Luminary is an essential piece of equipment on all Covenant vessels.
A standard Covenant Luminary is shaped like a series of three silver pyramids: two smaller ones supporting an upside down larger one in the center. There are apparently several models of Luminaries, more advanced versions (presumably a better reconstruction of the original Forerunner devices), as it was noted that primitive versions of Luminaries led the Covenant to discover the Lekgolo, shortly after the formation of the Covenant.
Luminaries are of great religious significance to the Covenant and tampering with them was punishable by death. A Holy Writ, essentially the Covenant equivalent of folk wisdom, concerns the Luminaries, namely, "A Luminary does not lie." A writ (either the Writ of Sanctity or the Writ of Security) also ordered the destruction of any luminaries onboard a ship that was compromised in battle, so that they would not fall into enemy hands.
As the presence of a Luminary is required on all Covenant vessels, there are likely at least tens if not hundreds of thousands of them in existence, depending of course on the number of ships the Covenant control. The Luminary of the Minor Transgression is significant as it led the Covenant to the UNSC colony Harvest, and precipitated the Human-Covenant War. It identified Harvest with several thousand Forerunner glyphs (referred to as Luminations in this context and called relics by the Covenant) that led the Covenant to believe the world held innumerable Forerunner treasures. Unfortunately, they misinterpreted the sign as "Reclamation," rather than the actual translation, "Reclaimers."
Although the newly appointed Prophet of Truth was aware of the mistake caused by this "misinterpretation", he refused to let the Covenant know of the human ties with the Forerunner and instead used this as motivation to begin the Human-Covenant War in order to ensure the survival of the Covenant, as the very basis of their faith is that there are no more Forerunners alive. Instead, he claimed that the Luminaries were all incorrect, despite a Covenant mantra stating that a Luminary does not lie. As a result, he claimed that the "filth" were out to destroy the holy Forerunner relics and most importantly, the Halo rings. He also planned to use this as a means of getting the location of all the humans so he could exterminate them.
On very rare occasions, the Covenant would also find original Forerunner Luminaries pointing to specific artifacts of high importance. For example, Mken 'Scre'ah'ben's expedition party discovered a Forerunner Luminary pointing to the Halo rings' locations on Janjur Qom, only for the device to be lost before the expedition could return to High Charity. In 2551, Covenant forces under the Prophet of Regret's command discovered a Luminary on Meridian pointing to Installation 00 and the Portal on a planet known as Erde-Tyrene. Seeking to outdo his fellow Hierarchs by claiming the monumental discovery for himself, the Prophet of Regret took the Fleet of Sacred Consecration to the Portal's location, unaware that Erde-Tyrene was actually humanity's homeworld, Earth.
The UNSC developed the VECTOR-class Mjolnir armor based on Covenant technology, for Spartan-IVs to commune with Luminaries. This was notably used to seek artifacts among the debris of Alpha Halo on Basis.
List of appearances
- Halo: Contact Harvest (First appearance)
- Halo Wars (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Broken Circle
- Halo 2: Anniversary
- Halo: Fleet Battles
- Halo 5: Guardians (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Shadow of Intent (Mentioned only)
- Halo Mythos (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Smoke and Shadow
- Halo: Renegades