Swords of Sanghelios

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This article is about the post-war Covenant splinter faction. For the Halo 5: Guardians campaign level, see Swords of Sanghelios (level).
Swords of Sanghelios
Swords of Sanghelios symbol.png
The symbol of the Swords of Sanghelios

H2A - Arbiter and Majors.jpg
Thel 'Vadam's modern restoration of the Swords of Sanghelios



Secular government


Thel 'Vadam

Head of state:


Executive branch:


Legislative branch:

Council of Kaidons[1]


Vadam, Sanghelios

Official language(s):


Notable event(s):

Technology level:

Tier 2

Historical overview


Pre-938 BCE (Original Swords of Sanghelios dissolved in 852 BCE)


After March 2553[2]


"The Arbiter's forces eventually consolidated their strength under a single banner, the Swords of Sanghelios, an ancient title of honor expressing their nobility of their cause: the unification of the Sangheili people."
Curator on the formation of the Swords of Sanghelios[2]

The Swords of Sanghelios[2] is an alliance of Sangheili keeps and the preeminent governing body on Sanghelios, as well as many Sangheili colonies. Originally an ancient Sangheili order, the Swords of Sanghelios was reinstated in the aftermath of the Great Schism by the latest Arbiter and the organization's leader, Thel 'Vadam.[3][4][1] Individual members of the faction identify themselves with the title Sword of Sanghelios.[5]

The Sangheili initially lacked organization after being cast out of the Covenant, leading various groups of Covenant separatists. Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum led a significant number of their forces in the deciding battles of the war,[6] although Thel 'Vadam would not formally establish the Swords until after the war's end.[7] After the Covenant's defeat, the Sangheili-led groups would split off into various different factions, with the Arbiter and his policy of cooperating with humanity retaining a solid following. However, many Sangheili disagreed with his ideals, planning to overthrow the Arbiter and rise against humanity.

In the wake of the Covenant War, the Swords of Sanghelios are often viewed as representing the Sangheili on the whole in their diplomatic relations with humanity.[7] Even though the Swords seek to distance themselves from the Covenant ideologically and culturally,[4] some humans have mistakenly referred to them as "the Covenant".[8]


Ancient Origins[edit]

Sangheili society in ancient times.

Groups known as the "Swords of Sanghelios" have existed in several incarnations throughout history. The first Swords of Sanghelios were a sworn brotherhood of kaidons dedicated to the overthrow of a tyrannical Arbiter judge-king who ruled the continent of Qivro centuries before the Sangheili became a spacefaring species. Their story of brotherhood, loyalty, honor, and sacrifice continues to resonate among the Sangheili. Ironically, the last incarnation of the organization prior to its current existence appeared in the tumultuous aftermath of the Covenant's formation to subdue the last opposition to the Writ of Union.[1]


"The Arbiter has united the keeps and formed a new alliance, the Swords of Sanghelios!"
Mahkee 'Chava to Fireteam Osiris[5]
Rtas 'Vadum, one of the leaders of the Swords of Sanghelios.

After the Covenant's defeat at the end of the war, the Covenant separatists split off into several different factions. The Arbiter and his followers formally established the Swords of Sanghelios, primarily as an alliance of keeps aligned with 'Vadam.[5]

The Swords remained friendly to humanity and wished to build a mutual peace, as they both had made tremendous sacrifices in order to stop Truth and the Covenant forces. On their homeworld, however, they were challenged by a resurgent faction of religious fanatics known as the Servants of the Abiding Truth. They viewed the Swords as "blasphemers" and began an insurrection, secretly supported by the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence, all the while resuming the conflict against the Jiralhanae in a two-front war. The Abiding Truth managed to gather a large amount of followers in a relatively short timespan; while the faction had a strong religious underpinning, many Sangheili had more practical motives for allying against the Arbiter, among them resentment toward humanity.[7][9] Meanwhile, 'Vadam planned to visit each state to make his case for permanent peace with the humans they had battled for so many years. These reforms did not meet with universal approval. By January 2553, there was great dissent among disparate Sangheili factions, especially from the more devout believers in the Forerunners' divinity.[10]

The Blooding Years[edit]

Swords of Sanghelios forces engaging other hostile Sangheili forces.
Main article: Blooding Years

Avu Med 'Telcam, leader of the Servants of Abiding Truth, decided that an immediate assault on the state of Vadam was necessary. Along with nine ships and forces from Nuan keep and Rtova keep, 'Telcam commanded the assault from the frigate Unflinching Resolve.[11] Eventually, however, the Unflinching Resolve suffered a direct hit and crash landed, though most of the crew, including 'Telcam, survived. Despite being caught off-guard it appeared as though the Swords of Sanghelios would be victorious, however, news spread that he allowed humans to land on Sanghelios; this caused many keeps to ally with the Servants of Abiding Truth and the tide turned in their favor. The Arbiter was caught off guard and when his own reinforcements couldn't arrive on time, he reluctantly accepted Admiral Terrence Hood's offer for help in fending off the attackers. The tide turned when UNSC Infinity arrived over Sanghelios and destroyed the rebel destroyer Defender of Faith before finishing off the rebel ground forces with a MAC round. The UNSC Port Stanley, posed as a Kig-Yar pirate ship, destroyed a few of 'Vadam's ships in order to maintain the stalemate between the two factions, leaving the Arbiter with a Pyrrhic victory.

After the battle, Thel 'Vadam was in talks to visit the UNSC Infinity while 'Telcam retreated to New Llanelli until he would be able to convince more keeps to join his cause.[12] At some point, the Ket-pattern battlecruiser Pious Inquisitor fell into the hands of the Abiding Truth. In turn, Kig-Yar pirate Sav Fel stole the Inquisitor, with the intentions to sell it on Venezia.[13] With 'Vadam occupied with the ongoing civil war, Kilo-Five was tasked with retrieving the Inquisitor with the purpose of reverse-engineering its energy projector for use against Sangheili-controlled worlds, though the ship was ultimately destroyed.[14]

In spite of the outbreak of civil war on Sanghelios, Thel 'Vadam was able to sway the majority of Sangheili colonies to join with the Swords of Sanghelios.[15] Over the next six years, the Sangheili continued to wage war against the remaining San'Shyuum and the Jiralhanae. At first, the Sangheili were at a major disadvantage, as millennia of depending on the San'Shyuum for technology meant that the Sangheili were unable to properly repair or replace the ships they lost in battle. The odds began to even out when the San'Shyuum vanished and the Jiralhanae began to fall back into internecine conflicts.[16] In addition to the conflict with the Jiralhanae, the Swords of Sanghelios also engaged Jul 'Mdama's Covenant in hostilities, which saw the flagship Shadow of Intent rendered combat ineffective.[15]

Peace talks[edit]

Thel 'Vadam, his escorts, and the rest of the peace delegation.

In March 2558, the Swords of Sanghelios attempted peace talks with the Jiralhanae chieftain Lydus and his clan on Ealen IV. Thel 'Vadam, with several Sangheili escorts, led the negotiations. Admiral Terrence Hood volunteered to moderate the talks between the two factions. However, the meeting was interrupted by a surprise attack by Covenant mercenaries under the command of Shipmaster Vata 'Gajat. Captain Thomas Lasky, Commander Sarah Palmer, and the Spartan-IVs defended the delegation and evacuated them from the chamber. When their evacuation ship was destroyed, the security detail proceeded to escort the delegates to a nearby parts depot.[17]

Inside the repair depot, 'Vadam notified Hood and the rest of an old fortified redoubt in which they could take refuge. Captain Lasky ordered Palmer and the protection detail to escort the delegation to the redoubt. As the party escaped the depot, they were intercepted by a Covenant Lich. Palmer quickly acted and threw her helmet filled with grenades and destroyed the Lich. The delegation stayed back as Fireteam Jackknife and their bodyguards went ahead to ensure the redoubt was safe for them to use as shelter.[18] However, as the delegates entered the redoubt, Spartan Scruggs of Fireteam Jackknife had killed the Sangheili and Jiralhanae escorts and ambushed the group, holding Hood hostage. 'Vadam queried Scruggs on what his demands were; Scruggs stated that they would discuss them once his associates arrived. With the Covenant bearing on the site in force, the ambassadors' security detail discovered a craft they could use to evacuate. Thanks to the sacrifices of Fireteam Bailey, the delegation, Lasky and the surviving Spartans made it aboard Infinity, which rallied the feuding Sangheili and Jiralhanae fleets and forced 'Gajat's forces into retreat. Due to Shipmaster 'Gajat's attack, the negotiations were left in a standstill and little progress was made in furthering the peace between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae.[19]

Battle for Sanghelios and Created uprising[edit]

"Hunt them to the last. Today we extinguish the Covenant's light forever!"
— Arbiter Thel 'Vadam, as the Swords of Sanghelios eliminates Jul 'Mdama's remaining Covenant forces[20]
The Arbiter rallying his forces.

Around October 27, 2558, following the death of Jul 'Mdama, the remainder of his followers attacked the Swords of Sanghelios on the Sangheili homeworld. The Arbiter received assistance from the UNSC's Fireteam Osiris, who were searching for MCPO John-117, in repelling the invasion. After intense battles along the coast in Nuusra, the Swords of Sanghelios eventually pushed Jul 'Mdama's Covenant back to their final stronghold: Sunaion, where 'Mdama's Covenant was finally defeated.[20] Meanwhile, a Guardian that had lain buried beneath the Csurdon Sea emerged and departed for Genesis. Eventually Thel Vadam was successful in leading the Swords of Sanghelios in eliminating 'Mdama's remaining Covenant forces in the damaged city, ending the battle. Later on the Swords provided safe haven for surviving UNSC forces when Cortana and her Created took control of most of Earth's colonies.[21] With the Sangheili resisting the Created's rule, Cortana sent a Guardian and Forerunner soldiers to pacify Sanghelios, starting with its major cities.[22] The UNSC reinforced the Swords of Sanghelios with its expeditionary forces, conducting joint patrols to monitor and defend the Sanghelios badlands from Created scouts and any remnant of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant still present on the planet.[23]


With the Created severely weakened at the Battle for Zeta Halo, the collapsing security situation at Suban prompted factions to begin fighting over the moon and forced the Swords of Sanghelios to intervene.[24]

Government and politics[edit]

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An alliance of Sangheili keeps, the Swords of Sanghelios is governed by a grand council of kaidons, with Arbiter Thel 'Vadam serving as the organization's formal leader. Although it was originally formed as an alliance of convenience, the Swords effectively became Sanghelios' world government during the Blooding Years.[1]

Foreign relations[edit]

Covenant remnants[edit]

Although they remained at war with Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, the Servants of the Abiding Truth, and several other Covenant remnants, the Swords of Sanghelios sought to build peace among the fragmented remains of the Covenant and remained as an ally to humanity.[17]

Unified Earth Government[edit]

Edward Buck: "Arbiter's an ally, so these dead here are our brothers as far as I'm concerned."
Holly Tanaka: "Agreed. Time for payback."
— Spartans Edward Buck and Holly Tanaka during the Battle of Nuusra[5]

A formal treaty was signed between the Swords and the Unified Earth Government, setting up the Joint Occupation Zones, which would be administered and defended by both the UEG and the Sangheili. In addition to joint military exercises against pirates in the Joint Occupation Zones,[15] the Swords and the UNSC made a cooperative effort to restore contact with remote human colonies after the war; the corvette The Lookout, crewed by UNSC and Swords personnel, embarked on such a mission in early 2553.[25] Several colony worlds residing in the Joint Occupation Zone were established under joint UEG/Sangheili governance. Among these was Carrow, a former Outer Colony abandoned during the Human-Covenant War.[26]

The UNSC and the Sangheili worked together on archival research on Sanghelios,[27] as well as joint investigations on Covenant weaponry, such as the Type-33 Needler.[28] Additionally, a major joint research project and settlement was established by the UNSC and the Swords at Trevelyan, the enormous shield world located at the former site of Onyx.[29] As part of the ANVIL initiative, Sangheili military personnel train with Spartan-IVs inside the War Games simulator aboard Anvil Station.[30]

By 2558, the UNSC's ambassador to them was Rear Admiral Horatio Temkin.[31]

Society and culture[edit]

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The Swords of Sanghelios look to pre-Covenant Sangheili culture and traditions as they seek to rebuild their civilization, unlike Jul 'Mdama's ideologically opposite reformed Covenant or many other groups seeking to reattain the hegemony's former glory.[4]

The Swords of Sanghelios have a peculiar relationship with religion, rejecting the Prophets' religion and holding questions about the Sangheili's traditional faith.[32] In general, most of the Arbiter's followers no longer revere the Forerunners as gods.[33] This has provoked the anger of many of their enemies, mainly the Servants of the Abiding Truth.[34] However, the Arbiter has never explicitly denied the Forerunners as gods, and has assured other Sangheili that they have not lost the gods.[35] In addition, the Ascetics appear to follow the Arbiter, having approached Usze 'Taham as a liaison between them and the Swords of Sanghelios despite the Arbiter's apparently secular government,[36] and at least one served as a bodyguard for the Arbiter and was killed during the Ealen peace conference.[37]

Military structure[edit]

A Sangheili Storm and Dimkee Hotay on Sanghelios.

While the Sangheili are the dominant race within the faction, the Swords of Sanghelios also includes other former members of the Covenant hegemony, mainly Unggoy who found themselves under Sangheili command as well as Kig-Yar and Lekgolo.[38][39] Notably, the Swords have forgone some of the Covenant's stringent species-based hierarchy, allowing even Unggoy of considerable capability—such as Stolt—to serve in positions of command over Sangheili.[40] Contrary to Sangheili tradition, the Swords also allow females to serve in the military;[5] this change was instated following the precedent of Tul 'Juran, who distinguished herself in combat alongside Rtas 'Vadum's crew against Tem'Bhetek and his forces.[41]

The Swords of Sanghelios has revived traditional Sangheili ranks such as Ascetic warriors.[17] Crimson and ivory,[42] or red-gold[43] armor indicates some form of affiliation to the Swords of Sanghelios, though there are armors painted in other colors, such as blue.[17]

The Swords of Sanghelios also established the Riftborn, a new special operations division, fully committed to joint military operations with the UNSC. These hand-selected operatives maintain a local presence on Anvil Station.[44]

Classes Sangheili Unggoy Kig-Yar Lekgolo
Ranks and type classes
Standard ranks Minor
Storm Storm Mgalekgolo
Specialized troops Ranger
Veterans Commander
Ratings Blademaster
Fleet Master

Military assets[edit]

The Swords of Sanghelios utilized much of the same equipment that the original Covenant used, but modified the designs due to the lack of restriction from the former Prophets. Most Unggoy used the Type-25 plasma pistol,[45] Type-54 plasma pistol,[38] Type-33 Needler,[27] and Type-56D needler,[38] while Sangheili personnel were typically armed with the Okarda'phaa-pattern plasma rifle,[46] Zubo-pattern beam rifle,[5] Gadulo-pattern needle rifle,[43] Elo'Nakada-pattern concussion rifle,[47] Vostu-pattern carbine,[48] Tufasumo-pattern plasma caster,[5] Kelos'vaarda-pattern storm rifle,[49] Mosa-pattern carbine,[49] Gespu-pattern fuel rod gun,[50] and the Type-1 energy sword.[49] Several of their energy swords, most notably the Prophets' Bane, were shaped in new designs based on pre-Covenant fashions.[51][52]

Like the original Covenant the Type-26 Banshee remained as the main aircraft of the faction for much of the Blooding Years.[50] Ru'swum-pattern Phantoms were used as the main troop transports, although these sported a green color instead of the usual purple and utilized active camouflage.[17] The Swords used orange-painted Rizsheda-pattern Shades[5] and Upisa'weri-pattern Shrikes[53] for static defense. As the Covenant fragmented and technology changed, the Swords began using more individualized craft. They began manufacturing Sword variants of the Type-54 Ghost, Kemu-pattern Wraith, and D'nomlhe-pattern Banshee, which had orange-painted plating and more durable armor than their Covenant versions.[50] The faction also used crimson-orange Kmiro'sish-pattern Liches and Mikpramu-pattern Phantoms, though it is unclear if these also had improved armor.[54][49]

The Swords' naval forces are composed of multiple CAS-class assault carriers, Ket-pattern battlecruisers, Sinaris-pattern heavy destroyers[17] and at least one Ceudar-pattern heavy corvette.[48] They also made use of ancient Sangheili ships, like Hekar Taa-pattern blockade runners, Lursu-pattern brigantines, Rwaru-pattern carracks and R'sikosh-pattern man o' wars.[55][20]


Fleet units

Individual ships

Ground forces


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Halo Waypoint: Swords of Sanghelios
  2. ^ a b c Halo Mythos, page 144
  3. ^ Halo Waypoint: Arbiter Thel 'Vadam
  4. ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: Sangheili
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Swords of Sanghelios
  6. ^ Halo 3, campaign level Floodgate
  7. ^ a b c Halo: Glasslands
  8. ^ Halo: Nightfall
  9. ^ Halo: Glasslands, pages 58-61
  10. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 130
  11. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 114
  12. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 122
  13. ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 329
  14. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 436
  15. ^ a b c Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction - Page 14
  16. ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "The Return"
  17. ^ a b c d e f Halo: Escalation, Issue #1
  18. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #2
  19. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #3
  20. ^ a b c Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Battle of Sunaion
  21. ^ Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder - Driving Force
  22. ^ Halo: Bad Blood, chapter 1
  23. ^ Halo Waypoint - Canon Fodder: Driving Force
  24. ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 230
  25. ^ Halo: Fractures, "Breaking Strain"
  26. ^ Halo: Fractures, "Oasis"
  27. ^ a b Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (post 2969317)
  28. ^ Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (post 2969311)
  29. ^ Halo: Fractures, "Lessons Learned"
  30. ^ Halo Waypoint - Canon Fodder: 2-20-15
  31. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #5
  32. ^ Halo: Evolutions, The Return
  33. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 62 (Google Play edition)
  34. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 20
  35. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 59
  36. ^ Halo Waypoint: Usze 'Taham
  37. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #2
  38. ^ a b c Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Alliance
  39. ^ Halo Waypoint Store - Swords of Sanghelios Tee
  40. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 24 (Google Play edition)
  41. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent, page 82 (Google Play edition)
  42. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 72
  43. ^ a b Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder 1-8-16: Annual Achievements
  44. ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 251
  45. ^ Halo: Shadow of Intent
  46. ^ Halo Mythos, pages 142-143
  47. ^ Twitter - GrimBrotherOne
  48. ^ a b Halo: Hunters in the Dark
  49. ^ a b c d Halo 5: Guardians
  50. ^ a b c Halo 5: Guardians, REQ card descriptions
  51. ^ Halo Waypoint: Prophets' Bane
  52. ^ Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 53
  53. ^ Halo Waypoint: Shrike Turret
  54. ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, campaign level The Heretic (Anniversary Prologue)
  55. ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Before the Storm
  56. ^ a b c Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Enemy Lines