Taming of the Lekgolo
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The Taming of the Lekgolo was a war between the Covenant and the Lekgolo. First contact with the worm-like Lekgolo species during the Covenant's galaxy-wide search for remnants of Forerunner technology in one of their early Ages of Conversion led to a conflict between the Lekgolo and the Covenant, eventually resulting in the former's incorporation into the hegemony.
The Covenant's use of the term "taming" can be misleading, as the Lekgolo possessed a highly advanced, if alien, culture prior to their contact with the Covenant, having reached Tier 3 of the Forerunner technological achievement scale on their own. Despite this, their space travel capabilities were extremely limited, having developed at an exceedingly slow rate due to the difficulties resulting from their high-gravity homeworld Te.
In 789 BCE, during one of the Covenant's first Ages of Conversion, early San'Shyuum experiments with primitive, reverse-engineered copies of the Forerunner Dreadnought's luminary led them to discover Te in the Svir system, located relatively close to the Sangheili's native Urs system. Arriving in orbit around Te by 784 BCE, the San'Shyuum had hoped to find a treasure trove of Forerunner relics, but instead only found the Lekgolo worms, settled around the rings and moons of Te. It was in this year that they made first contact with the Lekgolo on Rentus, specifically with a powerful gestalt of the species known as Mgalekgolo. At the time of the Covenant's arrival, the Lekgolo were a Tier 3 race on the Technological Achievement Tiers, indicating space-faring capabilities.
The Covenant soon discovered that Te's rings of icy rocks were fragments of a destroyed Forerunner installation. The Lekgolo had consumed the installation over millennia, ingesting metal and rock and spitting it out as they made their tight and twisting burrows. The Lekgolo colonies had very differing diets, with some colonies only digesting Forerunner alloys, while others would only consume rock rich in crushed circuits. Only a rare handful of colonies would avoid such foreign objects altogether, carefully cutting around the battered remains of the Forerunner installation.
Covenant scripture dictated that any unauthorized contact with Forerunner objects was heresy, punishable by death. Appalled by the damage done to the Forerunner installation, the San'Shyuum declared war on the Lekgolo species.
Sangheili warriors were ordered to eradicate the Lekgolo, as well as take control of Te for its resources. However, the Covenant was met with a protracted and difficult resistance, as the Lekgolo's physiology gave them a tremendous fighting advantage on their own world. The Sangheili proved to be ill-equipped to combat the Lekgolo. Additionally, the Lekgolo sought shelter from the Covenant's wrath within fortifications built throughout the rings, hidden within the very structures the Covenant wished to preserve.
The Covenant was soon handed its first defeat in battle as conventional measures failed to wipe out the Lekgolo around the Rings of Te. The Covenant soon learned that waging a war of extermination against trillions of Lekgolo eels was a battle they could not win. The Mgalekgolo gestalt in particular proved to be an extreme challenge, as these hulking warriors were more than a match for the Sangheili in combat.
The Hierarchs eventually decided to dispatch Arbiter Jeht 'Lcmutee, who traveled alone to the Svir system and ventured across the surface of the moon Rantu, where he learned both the Lekgolo's strengths and weaknesses as he battled the Mgalekgolo. While on Rantu, the Arbiter discovered that while some Lekgolo were responsible for the destruction of the Forerunner installation, others were not and instead worked around the Forerunner materials. With this insight, 'Lcmutee proposed "taming" the Lekgolo and assimilating them into the Covenant, allowing the empire to put the habits of these Lekgolo to good use, capitalizing on the Lekgolo's excavation, transportation, and combat abilities.
While the San'Shyuum were eager to assert their moral authority, they reluctantly agreed that the Lekgolo, if properly trained, could be very useful when interacting with Forerunner technology and absolved the Lekgolo of their sins. The Covenant turned to negotiating with the Lekgolo, slowed by communication difficulty, where the Sangheili eventually threatened to destroy the Lekgolo with nuclear weapons. Faced with extinction, the Lekgolo surrendered and were welcomed into the Covenant.
The San'Shyuum hoped to use the Lekgolo to explore the Dreadnought and other Forerunner artifacts by creating minuscule tunnels for the eels to enter, allowing for the Lekgolo to gather data on their surroundings with micro-sensors ingested by the Lekgolo. After many ages of experimentation on lesser relics, the San'Shyuum finally decided to allow the Lekgolo to explore the Dreadnought itself, of which they currently had a limited understanding of for fear that their studies and research on the Dreadnought's processing pathways may damage vital systems. With great care, the ascetic priests carved a hole and slipped a chosen Lekgolo, gathering information while also hoping for a response from the Dreadnought's Oracle, a dormant fragment of Mendicant Bias. When the priests received no response, they gradually increased the amount of Lekgolo probes inserted into the Dreadnought. Over time, the process became rather mundane.
As Te now fell under the domain of the empire, the Lekgolo supplied the Covenant military with Mgalekgolo warriors, for each Covenant world must provide fighting troops. While the Mgalekgolo were only provided in relatively small numbers, this was accepted by the Covenant government as a necessary interaction with its most alien client. As the Lekgolo have little need for religion, the Lekgolo's affiliation with the Covenant was soley built on their need for viable space travel.
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