The Great Schism, also known as the Covenant Civil War and the Great Betrayal, was a major civil conflict between the Covenant Loyalists against the Covenant Separatists. The conflict fermented on October 20, 2552 and broke out on November 3, 2552, after the Changing of the Guard.
Seeds of conflictEdit
Even long before the start of the Great Schism, the Prophet of Truth had plans to replace the Sangheili with the Jiralhanae, as he saw them as more willing and unquestioning pawns, whilst he doubted the Sangheili's reliability and loyalty. However, he kept these schemes strictly to himself, and waited until the time was right. After Truth learned the location of the Human homeworld, he secretly amassed a fleet of over five hundred warships, entirely commanded by the Jiralhanae, at the command-and-control station Unyielding Hierophant. However, this station and fleet was destroyed by a group of SPARTAN-IIs that launched Operation: FIRST STRIKE after learning its purpose, putting a temporary halt to Truth's plan.
Soon after, the Prophet of Regret made a move Truth did not expect: having discovered a significant Forerunner artifact on Earth on his own, but unaware of the fact it was humanity's homeworld, he took a fleet of fifteen ships to Earth. Immediately after Truth learned of this, he sent the remnants of the fleet he had amassed to Earth, and gave his Jiralhanae troops orders to forcibly eliminate the Sangheili in command of the remaining forces on and above Earth. When Regret retreated from Earth, his Sangheili-led ships in orbit still continued to engage the UNSC, but now without a leader. Only moments later, the Jiralhanae forces within the fleet and on the ground killed any remaining Sangheili forces, as Truth had ordered. They continued to hold New Mombasa until the reinforcements sent by Truth arrived. As High Charity and the rest of the Covenant Fleet were now on their way to the newly discovered Delta Halo, Truth's move remained a secret from the rest of the Covenant. Regret, who would arrive at Delta Halo some time before High Charity and the rest of the Covenant, would serve yet another purpose for Truth; the final stage in his plan.
After the Prophet of Regret was killed by John-117, the two remaining Prophets, most notably the High Prophet of Truth, reorganized Covenant society. Saying that the Sangheili could no longer protect the Prophets due to Regret's assassination, they replaced the Sangheili with the Jiralhanae as the Prophets' protectors. The Sangheili viewed this as a violation of the principles that the Covenant had been founded upon and threatened to resign from the High Council. They also argued that if Truth had not withdrawn the Phantoms that had been en route to Regret's location, the Prophet's death would have been prevented and the Demon would have been killed instead.
However, Truth further demoted the Sangheili by giving command of their Covenant Fleets to the Jiralhanae. Once enough Jiralhanae were in place, Truth instigated the war by secretly ordering the assassination of many ruling Sangheili. Truth also freed all of the Jiralhanae prisoners and pardoned them after release (Seen on the Halo Timeline Edict of the High Prophet of Truth). This was disguised as a Jiralhanae insurrection against the Covenant to the Sangheili, the Mgalekgolo, and most Unggoy. Loyalist factions were led to believe it was an Sangheili revolt. After the killing of the Sangheili Council members, war broke out on High Charity, the two sides polarizing quickly. However, the true split occurred when the Sangheili learned the truth about the Halos and the Great Journey. Their disillusionment changed their goal from reforming the purity of the Covenant to actively fighting against it.
The split was not cleanly divided either by race or faction. Loyalists followed the Prophets with their military now lead by the Jiralhanae, included Kig-Yar, Yanme'e, Unggoy, and Mgalekgolo. The Separatists followed the leadership of Sangheili shipmasters, and their official Commander-in-chief was the Rtas 'Vadum. Separatist forces were composed of the ejected Sangheili, with large numbers of Mgalekgolo and Unggoy. The Kig-Yar, being a mercenary race, also supported the Separatists playing a more supportive role than direct role. Few Jiralhanae joined the Separatist army believing that they served better under the leadership of the Sangheili. The only Unggoy who actually remained loyal to the Prophets were the most devout followers of the Covenant religion (e.g. Deacons). There is some evidence to support this since there are a number of Unggoy who commit acts that are anything but cowardly (e.g. Kamikaze Unggoy).
The shaky alliance between the Separatist and their former foes, the Humans, was forged entirely out of necessity. The UNSC forces were on the defensive, and they had two common enemies that wished for their extinction: the Covenant and the Flood. The Separatists, although moderately powerful, lost several important leaders including many Sangheili High Councilors. The Jiralhanae also had many troops on Delta Halo and had control of all the nearby ships. The ships that were still in the control of the Separatists were too busy engaging Jiralhanae ships at High Charity. The alliance of circumstance was forged in the control room of Delta Halo, when Johnson and the Arbiter were coerced to unite in order to prevent Tartarus activating Delta Halo and firing the Halo Array, which would have killed every sentient being in the galaxy, including himself and the rest of his race; Tartarus, and the rest of the Covenant Loyalists, still believed the array would only start the Great Journey. Together the Arbiter, Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes defeated Tartarus, killing him and deactivating the Installation, but not totally ending the threat the faction faced. However, the Arbiter persuaded the rest of the Sangheili to join the humans. While the two factions experienced some friction, due to their alliance being based on the enemies of my enemies are my friends principle instead of good political relationships, they learned to work with one another for their mutual survival.
The devastated UNSC Fleet in Earth's space were glad to accept the help of the superior Separatist Warships. The Sangheili' understanding of enemy equipment and Covenant's combat tactics proved invaluable in the Battle of Installation 00, where a fleet three times larger than that sent by the Sangheili's was completely destroyed by the smaller force. Recurrently the heroes of battle, the Arbiter and John-117 fought alongside one another many times in the desperate and long conflict. Together the two made an incredible team and the Prophet of Truth was finally killed by the Arbiter with John-117 deactivating the Halo Array, marking a some-what end to the Great Schism. Later, John destroyed the Flood-controlled High Charity and the Ark was severely damaged when he fired the new Halo ring created above the Ark which also destroyed the Flood. Unfortunately, John-117 and accompanying AI Cortana ended up drifting in space following the Battle of Installation 00. The Arbiter's presence at memorial services for John-117 indicated that in the wake of victory, Separatists and humans remained friendly to one another as they both had made tremendous sacrifices in order to stop Truth and the Loyalist forces, as well as the Gravemind and the Flood. Also, the Arbiter and Admiral Sir Terrence Hood parted amicably, even shaking hands signaling further peace. While Hood was unable to forgive the Arbiter and the other Separatists for what they had done, they had his thanks for standing by humanity and in particular John-117 until the end of the fight.
With Truth dead, High Charity destroyed, and the Ark essentially lost after Installation 08's firing, the remaining Loyalist forces remained active in at least some form, rebuilding their tattered strength to continue their war of conquest. Even though the Jiralhanae eventually collapsed into various civil wars, they still posed enough of a threat that Sangheili commanders kept up the offensive against them for at least another six years, even as they continued to lose irreplaceable warships and the war continued with no end in sight.
The Unggoy were too indecisive to continue the rebellion and the true political motivation of the Mgalekgolo, if any, remained a mystery. Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum stated that Truth's Fleet was destroyed. Had any of the Covenant Loyalists survived on the Ark or in the ruins of their Fleet, they were either taken by the Flood or killed when the unfinished Installation 08 fired and destroyed itself and heavily damaged the Ark.
- Installation 04 is destroyed by Human forces. Its Monitor, 343 Guilty Spark, escapes to Threshold. The Fleet of Particular Justice is wiped out. The Fleet's secondary flagship, the Ascendant Justice, is captured by Humans.
- A Covenant Artifact Retrieval team led by Sesa 'Refumee is investigating the Gas Mine of Threshold when he encounters 343 Guilty Spark. Inspired by Spark's revealing words, 'Refumee rebelled against the High Prophets of the Covenant.
- Thel 'Vadamee, the Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice, is tried before the High Council and sentenced to death. The High Prophet of Truth overrides the council and makes the Supreme Commander an Arbiter of the Covenant. Truth then sends him to kill Sesa 'Refumee and destroy his rebellion, which the Prophets have condemned as "heresy."
- Start of the Battle of Earth. The defeated High Prophet of Regret is forced to retreat to Installation 05, pursued by the UNSC In Amber Clad.
- Moments after Regret's withdrawal, Jiralhanae within the Covenant forces quickly kill all Sangheili and seize control of the Covenant forces on Earth.
- The Arbiter and a Spec Ops Commander, Rtas 'Vadumee lead a team of Spec Ops forces to Threshold, where they kill Sesa 'Refumee and successfully crush his rebellion.
- John-117 tracks down and kills the Prophet of Regret on Installation 05.
- High Charity and its Defense Fleet arrives at Installation 05. Witnessing the assassination of the Prophet of Regret, the Prophet of Truth replaces the Honor Guard Sangheili with Jiralhanae. Insulted, the Sangheili High Councilors threaten to resign from their seats on the High Council.
- The Arbiter and Tartarus are sent to retrieve the Activation Index. The Arbiter successfully takes the Index, but Tartarus tries to kill him and takes the Index from him, as he was secretly ordered to do so by the Prophet of Truth.
- Most of the Sangheili High Councilors are taken to the surface of Installation 05 where they are murdered by the Jiralhanae.
- The Prophet of Truth transfers command of the Covenant Navy to the Jiralhanae, while Tartarus declares war on the Sangheili, and the Battle of High Charity begins. Fighting between Sangheili and Jiralhanae forces breaks out all over High Charity. As word spreads, fighting takes place throughout the Fleet, as Sangheili and Jiralhanae controlled ships attack one another.
- The Flood invade High Charity in the middle of the battle by jumping through Slipspace in the UNSC In Amber Clad into High Charity and then afterward through the use of Pelicans to invade the rest of the city. The High Prophet of Mercy is attacked by an Infection Form and abandoned by the Prophet of Truth
- Tartarus attempts to activate Halo.
- Thel 'Vadamee, with the help of Sergeant Johnson and Rtas 'Vadumee, kills Tartarus.
- Miranda Keyes aborts the activation of Halo, placing the entire Halo Array on standby status. 343 Guilty Spark reveals the existence of the Ark.
- The battle in and around High Charity ends with the Flood in control of the city. The Jiralhanae and Sangheili Fleets remaining around the city-station continue to destroy each other.
- The Prophet of Truth departs High Charity for Earth aboard the Forerunner dreadnought, to join the Battle of Earth. The Jiralhanae forces there are already engaged in fighting with the UNSC. Unbeknown to the Prophet of Truth, John-117 is on the ship, with the intention of "Finishing the Fight."
- The UNSC prowler UNSC Dusk witnesses the battle between Sangheili and Jiralhanae held ships above Delta Halo, both fighting each other, pausing only to escalate an immediate outbreak of the Flood from the ringworld and links up with Battlegroup Stalingrad.
- Major Voro 'Mantakree kills his Shipmaster, Tano 'Inanraree, while he is attempting to allow the Flood to enter the ship. He then assumes command of the ship, the Incorruptible, and becomes the de facto leader of the Second Fleet of Homogeneous Clarity. He leads his new forces to Joyous Exultation, pursued by the Jiralhanae Gargantum and his ships.
- Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree plans to lure the Jiralhanae leadership to Joyous Exultation and plans an ambush for them. He deploys the newly promoted Fleet Master Voro Nar 'Mantakree to Onyx to recover the Forerunner technologies there and prevent the UNSC forces there from claiming it themselves. A NOVA bomb captured by the Supercarrier Sublime Transcendence devastates the planet moments after Mantakree's forces leave, the survivors joining Mantakree at Onyx.
November 8, 2552:
- The Forerunner dreadnought arrives in the Sol system, and proceeds on course towards Earth at near-relativistic speeds.
November 17, 2552:
- The Forerunner dreadnought enters Earth's atmosphere, and John-117 bails out, landing in the jungles near Mount Kilimanjaro.
- Battle of Voi. The Prophet of Truth uses the Forerunner dreadnought to activate the Artifact, and the Loyalist fleet follows it through the portal, marking the end of the Battle of Earth. The Flood infest Voi, only to be contained by the Sangheili fleet.
Late November through December, 2552
- Battle of Installation 00.
- All Loyalist vessels destroyed over the Ark by the Separatist Fleet.
- The Prophet of Truth, the last Hierarch of the Covenant, is executed by Thel 'Vadam with help from the Flood. John-117 stops the Ark from firing the Halo Rings.
- High Charity is destroyed by John-117 after he overloads the city's main reactors causing them to detonate.
- Rtas 'Vadum evacuates all humans and Sangheili via the Shadow of Intent, back to Earth.
- The Battle of Installation 08. Thel 'Vadam, John-117 and Johnson battle to the control room of Installation 08. Guilty Spark turns rampant, killing Johnson before subsequently being destroyed by John-117. Installation 08's Sentinels turn on John-117, Thel 'Vadam, and the Sangheili. The unfinished Installation 04 is activated, damaging the Ark and destroying the entire local Flood infestation including the Gravemind. These final events ended The Human-Covenant war.
- John-117, Cortana, and Thel 'Vadam escape but only Thel 'Vadam gets back to Earth. John-117 and Cortana, presumed KIA by the UNSC, are left drifting in the back half of UNSC Forward Unto Dawn for over four years before arriving at Requiem.
- The Humans and the Sangheili make a memorial near Mt. Kilimanjaro on planet Earth to commemorate those who were lost in the Battle of the Ark, while also serving as a small memorial for those lost in the Human-Covenant war. The memorial has the number 117 engraved on it in the corner.
After the Great SchismEdit
- Main article: Sangheili-Jiralhanae war
- A Sangheili splinter faction led by Jul 'Mdama engage UNSC forces at the Forerunner Shield World Requiem.
- The Great Schism rages on. While the Jiralhanae wage their own internecine wars, the Sangheili themselves are gradually losing their fleets in a war of attrition, having lost the technical expertise kept exclusively by the Prophets. However, in The Return, the Shipmaster mentions how the Prophets went into hiding at some stage, giving the Sangheili the upper hand due to the Jiralhanae's poor leadership.
- A Sangheili Shipmaster returns to the partially-glassed human colony of Kholo.
- The term "Great Schism" is taken from human religious debates over orthodoxy and power, most notably the East-West Schism, the Western Schism, and the Old Believers' Schism. The Sunni-Shia split is also often called a schism.
- In Halo: Contact Harvest, the Prophet of Truth foreshadows the Schism, noting that if the Sangheili ever separated from the Covenant, the entire government would collapse.
- In Halo 3: ODST, it is implied that the Office of Naval Intelligence was aware of internal conflict within the Covenant from early on. During the level Tayari Plaza which takes place on October 20, Buck asks Dare about the Sangheili bodies lying around the city, as they appear to have been killed by the Jiralhanae, to which Dare only responds with it being classified.
- Halo 2 (First appearance)
- Halo 3
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Halo: Uprising
- Halo Legends
- Halo: Glasslands
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, page ??
- ↑ Halo: Escalation Issue 1, page 14
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Halo 3: ODST - Multiple murdered Sangheili on the streets of New Mombasa.
- ↑ Halo 2 level Quarantine Zone
- ↑ Bungie.net – Type-25 Directed Energy Rifle
- ↑ Halo 3 - The Covenant (level) - Prophet of Truth and the Covenant were defeated on the Ark during the Battle of Installation 00.
- ↑ Halo Wars 2 GAMEPLAY - E3 2016 Interview (Interview with Kevin Grace) - "The Covenant are dead"
- ↑ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - page ??
- ↑ Halo Waypoint - Universe, Jiralhanae
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Halo Waypoint, "Ten Twenty" history article
- ↑ Halo 2 level Sacred Icon
- ↑ Halo 2 level Uprising
- ↑ Halo 2 level The Great Journey
- ↑ Halo 3 level The Covenant
- ↑ Halo 3 level Cortana
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Halo 3 level Halo
- ↑ Halo 3 multiplayer level Assembly
- ↑ Halo 3: Bestiarum
- ↑ Halo: First Strike, page ??
- ↑ Halo 3: ODST level Coastal Highway
- ↑ Halo:Ghosts of Onyx, pages 244-245
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 Bungie.net – Bungie Weekly Update: 01/23/09