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- "The true devotee honors our name with actions, not words."
- — The Sangheili Zealot's mantra.
Zealot is a military rank of high-ranking warriors in the Covenant military, as well as some of its splinter factions during the Blooding Years. They were supervised and deployed by the Ministry of Fervent Intercession, with their organization divided into multiple chapters. Zealots were among the most devout worshipers of the Forerunners. After the dissolution of the Covenant and the abandonment of its religion, some continued Forerunner worship.
- "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, this title is almost exclusively used by the most resilient and powerful Sangheili fighters. Although all Sangheili males are trained in the arts of combat from a young age, Sangheili believe future Zealots are born with an innate desire to kill.
Roles and responsibilies
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 forces, effectively making them the groundside counterpart to a Fleet Master or Supreme Commander; Field Marshals are also occasionally tasked with leading Zealot strike teams. Sangheili Zealot Assassins are specialists who operate with teams of stealth troopers.
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. Within the Ministry existed a number of chapters (such as the Devoted Sentries), many of which adhered to particular interpretations of ancient codes of honor or debt-packs. Some of these chapters traced their lineage back to long before the rise of the Covenant. The Zealots' internal structure, rankings, and equipment varied from chapter to chapter and from fleet to fleet. 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. Artisan-armorers of the Covenant sometimes allied themselves particularly with the Zealot orders, and would produce specialty equipment such as the Suspa Al-pattern drop pod specifically for only the most pious of commanders. When deploying into battle, only warriors from within the Zealot ranks, or those seeking to aspire to join them, would be permitted to employ these insertion pods.
After their betrayal by the High Prophets, some worshipped the Foreurnners without belief in the Great Journey, while others forsook the religion all together. The role had become a more general rank of combat specialization, similar to how Sangheili Honor Guards forsook their original purpose after the Prophets had betrayed them. By 2558, some Zealots continued to serve within various Covenant remnant factions, including those which remained religiously devoted to the Forerunners following the hegemony's collapse. Despite still having a combat niche, these Zealots served in political and social leadership positions (at least within Jul 'Mdama's Covenant), filling all roles previously occupied by the San'Shyuum. Zealot loyalties remain divided amongst the Covenant successor states, and now exercise less discretion in judging the worthy to join their ranks.
- Catherine Halsey: "Zealots? You're certain?"
- Jorge-052: "Their armor configuration matched."
- SPARTAN-B312: "Shield strength, too."
- — Catherine Halsey, Jorge-052, and SPARTAN-B312 during the Fall of Reach.
Zealots have access to a variety of armor types and styles, including the Ceremonial battle harness or even the Infiltration harness (which is used by Special Operations and Stealth Sangheili), and reflecting the multiple roles encompassed by those who hold the title. The armor worn by a Zealot can be reflective of his chapter or fleet assignment. Their suits have also variety of coloration, including blue, although Zealots most commonly wear ornate maroon armor that, while intricate, is more subdued in design than the suits worn by Sangheili of lower ranks. By 2558, the silver-white color scheme (with black trim) may have been also worn by Ultras, although whatever this color configuration is used as the Ultra variant for the Zealot-class internal ranking structure is unknown.
Zealot Field Masters in command positions, including those attached to regular Covenant military forces, wore armors distinguished by their gold coloration (indicating a command role) and the nearly peerless durability of their energy shields, like the suits worn by lower-ranking Generals. Despite the availability of specialized armor styles, many Zealot Field Masters wore gold-colored typical combat harnesses during the war with humanity. Like harnesses worn by Special Operations and Stealth Sangheili, Zealot armors are equipped with active camouflage.
Field Marshals wear a dark magenta-colored modified version of the Ceremonial battle harness; the front of the helmet has two horn-like prongs and the pauldrons are wider. Zealot Supreme Commanders may wear a similarly colored doarmir fur cloak with their armor.[Note 1]
Danzhau-pattern intrusion harness
- Main article: Danzhau-pattern intrusion harness
Another armor type is derived from traditional designs worn on Hesduros, and bears some similarities to the Infiltration harness. This style was in use by 2526, though the prevalence of its issue relative to other wartime models is unclear. This suit has a very organic, almost chitinous appearance, reflecting its origin on Hesduros. The helmet, which encompasses most of the wearer's face, vaguely resembles those worn by the Ascetics and Covenant Special Operations forces. A cross-shaped pattern of purple, or blue, insets faces outward from a central point on the helmet; the helmets worn by Merg Vol and Jul 'Mdama emit distinctive holograms, perhaps produced by their aforementioned insets. A blade-like "talon", derived from the armor worn by kaidons on Hesduros, is located on the inner toe of either boot. The harness also has protective hand-armor, and raised foil-arcs on its back. It is commonly worn by Zealots serving various remnant factions in the wake of the Covenant's collapse, most notably the body led by Jul 'Mdama, which was formed on Hesduros. In addition to the standard maroon coloration, this version is also produced in blue and gold.
Weaponry and vehicles
Sangheili Zealots were typically armed with Type-1 energy sword, although in some instances, they made use of other weapons, such as at least one plasma rifle, a concussion rifle, a fuel rod gun, or a carbine. Various Zealot veterans also did often pilot gold-colored specialized vehicles, such as ornate Temple variants of Wraith, Ghosts and Banshees, with the latter used by the sky-chevaliers.
- Jora 'Konaree – A Zealot who fought in Thel 'Vadamee's Zealot team in 2535.
- Jul 'Mdama – Leader of a Covenant faction allied with the Ur-Didact as of July 2557.
- Lat 'Ravamee – Shipmaster of the Truth and Reconciliation, part of the Fleet of Particular Justice.
- Merg Vol – Leader of the Covenant faction that attacked Draetheus V in 2554.
- Rho 'Barutamee – Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Valiant Prudence and leader of the Devoted Sentries.
- Saal – A Zealot in Thel 'Vadamee's team.
- Unidentified Sangheili Zealot (Circinius IV) – led the Covenant ground assault on Corbulo Academy in April 2526.
- Unidentified Sangheili Zealot (Sedra) – responsible for a terrorist attack on Sedra City in February 2556.
- Zhar – One of the Zealots in 'Vadamee's team.
- Thel 'Vadam – Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice; later became the Arbiter and leader of the Swords of Sanghelios, who allied with the UNSC during the Great Schism.
- Veer – One of the Zealots in 'Vadamee's team.
- Sali 'Nyon – Leader of a mutiny within Jul 'Mdama's faction in July 2558.
Unlock: Achieve Captain.
- Description: The true devotee honors our name with actions, not words.
Halo: Fleet Battles
Covenant Type-28 Boarding Craft (Elites)
- Flight slots: 0
- Movement: 12"
- Damage track: 6
- Security detail: 3
- Systems loadout:
- Assault specialist (1)
- Heroic save (Zealot)
Halo: The Essential Visual Guide page 100 mentions the existence of a hypothetical Kig-Yar Zealot rank - something which is at odds with the way the Kig-Yar have been presented in all other sources before and since- there are currently no known Kig-Yar Zealots mentioned in the canon. This misconception originates with the character of Zhar from the book Halo: Contact Harvest, who was once thought to be a Zealot, but this was based on a misreading of an insult directed toward Dadab, an Unggoy Deacon. This original misconception was later reproduced on Halopedia, and ultimately made its way into this sourcebook. Given the title has no basis in canon except for this original misconception, and has not been indicated to exist since with books such as the Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition) only reinforcing the title of Zealot as one of exclusively Sangheili usage.
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- The plasma rifle-wielding Zealots of Halo: Combat Evolved do not perform melee attacks. 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 Gadulo-pattern 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 Type-33 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 a Protoss infantry unit known as the zealot; these warriors also wear golden armor and wield powerful energy blades. In Halo Infinite, the zealot tip in the loading screen is titled "My Life for Hire"; a reference to the zealots' "My life for Aiur" line.
- Seven Zealots are fought 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), and four (including the Field Marshal) at the end of The Pillar of Autumn.
- One of the loading screen tips in Halo Infinite makes a reference to Sangheili Zealots, leading many to initially believe the sword-wielding purple armored Elites in the game are Zealots. However, according to Halo Waypoint's January 2022 Cannon Fodder, the purple armored Elites in Halo Infinite are canonically classified as Spec Ops, not Zealots.
Concept art and artwork
Concept art of a Sangheili Zealot in Halo 4.
Rho 'Barutamee, a Zealot Supreme Commander in Halo: Fleet Battles.
A Zealot Field Master in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A Zealot Field Master brandishing his energy sword inside the Silent Cartographer in Halo: Combat Evolved.
A Zealot Field Master issuing orders to an infantry lance.
A Zealot Field Master in Halo 2. The armor is a palette-swapped version of the standard combat harness.
A Zealot Field Master issuing orders to his subordinates in Old Mombasa.
A Zealot attacking SPARTAN-B312 from the latter's perspective.
A Zealot Field Master in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Closeup of a Zealot's helmet in Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.
A Zealot charging a Spartan-IV.
A white Zealot conversing with Jul 'Mdama during the Battle of Aktis IV.
A Sangheili Zealot Field Master in Halo 2: Anniversary.
A Zealot Field Master participating in the Battle of Installation 05.
John-117 fighing a Hesduros Zealot aboard Argent Moon.
A Zealot Assassin on Raid on Apex 7 in Halo 5: Guardians.
A Zealot Assassin firing a Kelos'vaarda-pattern storm rifle.
A cloaked Zealot with a T-56D Needler on Attack on Sanctum.
List of appearances
- The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor depicts Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee (a Zealot) wearing purple armor and a purple cloak while in command of his fleet; this was in fact the first time purple was associated with the Zealot class. Halo 2: Anniversary's terminals instead depict 'Vadamee wearing a gold combat harness during the same timeframe, though the cloak's color is unchanged.
- Halo: Reach
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Clarity & Grace (Retrieved on Nov 8, 2020) [archive]
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 60
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Fighting Words (Retrieved on Nov 8, 2020) [archive]
- Halo Encyclopedia (2011 edition), page 134
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 142
- Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level The Truth and Reconciliation
- Halo Graphic Novel - The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor
- Halo Encyclopedia (2011 edition), page 135
- Halo 5: Guardians Official Game Guide, page 320: (Collector's Edition)
- Ultra Combo, Arbiter’s Colors & Accessories (Retrieved on Nov 8, 2020) [archive]
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 138-139
- Halo: Warfleet, page 66-67
- Halo Waypoint, Halo 4 Interactive Guide (Retrieved on Apr 30, 2013) [local archive] [external archive]
- Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 49
- Halo: Reach, campaign level ONI: Sword Base
- Halo: The Cole Protocol
- Halo: Nightfall, episode 1
- Halo: Escalation, issue #15
- Halo: Combat Evolved: Prima's Official Strategy Guide, page 16
- Halo 2: The Official Strategy Guide, page 141
- Halo: The Art of Building Worlds, page 52
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Halo 2
- Halo 2: Anniversary
- Halo 2: Anniversary: Terminal 2
- Halo: Reach, campaign level Tip of the Spear
- Halo 4
- Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, episode 4
- Halo 4: Spartan Ops
- Halo: Escalation, issue 14
- Halo: Spartan Assault
- Halo 5: Guardians, REQ card: Temple Wraith "In the distant past, Zealots alone had the terrible responsibility of destroying parasite-tainted Forerunner gifts that ran amok after activation. Masterwork Wraith with hardened armor, improving handling, and a faster rate-of-fire for the plasma mortar."
- Halo 5: Guardians, REQ card: Temple Ghost "Driven by veteran Zealots who have mastered their impetuous natures, the Temple Ghost is a rare treasure worth its weight in lesser warriors. Masterwork Ghost with hardened armor, improving handling, and plasma cannons that can shoot while boosting."
- Halo 5: Guardians, REQ card: Temple Banshee "The sky-chevaliers of the Zealot orders reappeared during the Sangheili civil war. Masterwork Banshee with hardened armor, improved handling, and upgraded fuel rod cannon with reduced fire delay and ability to fire while boosting."
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 197
- Halo: Fleet Battles
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Foundations: "Those rad-looking purple Sangheili in the sleek armor? They’re classified canonically as Spec Ops, not Zealots. It’s important to remember that oftentimes enemy or character tags that you might find within game files are development shorthand and not necessarily final." (Retrieved on Jan 12, 2022) [archive]