The majority of events in the story arc of the Halo series occur during the "Ninth Age of Reclamation." The Covenant's organization of time and dates is not elaborated on in detail in the game or during any of the novelizations; Bungie cinematic director Joseph Staten, in an interview on Halo fansite halo.bungie.org, said that the Covenant's date system is split into seven epochs, split into the following Ages: Abandonment, Conflict, Discovery, Reconciliation, Conversion, Doubt, and Reclamation.
The 2001 and 2007 novels Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Contact Harvest describe humanity's first contact with the Covenant in the year 2525. In The Fall of Reach, a lone Covenant ship bombards the Harvest colony with plasma, turning the planet's crust into molten glass. The lone ship, broadcasts the Covenant edict, "Your destruction is the will of the gods, and we are their instrument", and destroys several United Nations Space Command (UNSC) ships sent to attack it. Contact Harvest describes a lengthy ground engagement between human militia and Covenant before the total assault on Harvest. The Covenant claim that humans are an offense to their gods, but in reality, three Covenant Prophets have learned from a relic left by their gods, the Forerunners, that humans, who may possibly be genetically related to the Forerunners, have been chosen by the Forerunners as their Reclaimers. Realizing such a revelation would splinter the Covenant, the newly crowned Hierarchs decide to obliterate the humans instead and declare that a new Age of the Covenant has begun.
The Covenant's superior technology allow them to annihilate the outer human colonies within four years; the Covenant begin to destroy the inner colonies soon thereafter. As a defensive measure, the UNSC creates the "Cole Protocol"; human ships are prohibited from directly traveling to human worlds to avoid detection by the Covenant, and destruction of a ship's navigation databases and artificial intelligence if threatened with capture. In 2552, the Covenant track the UNSC ship Iroquois to the world of Reach, Earth's most well-defended colony, by a hidden transmitter. A massive Covenant fleet arrives at Reach and lays waste to much of the planet.
The Covenant's first appearance in the video games is in Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), which picks up towards the end of The Fall of Reach. A detachment of Covenant follow the human vessel Pillar of Autumn from Reach to Halo, a ring-shaped Forerunner relic that the Covenant believe sacred. Wary of accidentally damaging the ring, the Covenant are forced to fight the humans on foot, and accidentally release the Flood. The Flood, a virulent parasite that infests sentient life, attack human and Covenant alike and threaten to capture a Covenant cruiser to escape their prison on Halo. Meanwhile, the human "Spartan" supersoldier Master Chief detonates the Pillar of Autumn's engines, destroying the ring and the Covenant armada. The novelization of the game, Halo: The Flood (2003), describes additional events not seen in the game. In the novel First Strike, The Master Chief, survivors of the Autumn and surviving Spartans from Reach destroy a Covenant fleet they learn is preparing to strike Earth, and race home to warn of the impending attack.
In the video game Halo 2 (2004), a member of the Covenant Prophet triumvirate, Regret, arrives at Earth with a fleet. Most of his fleet is destroyed; Regret's ship flees to another ring, Delta Halo, inadvertently carrying the human ship In Amber Clad and the Master Chief aboard her. The Chief kills Regret before the majority of the Covenant fleet arrives at Delta Halo, along with the Covenant's holy city of High Charity. The death of Regret leads the remaining Prophets to promote the Brutes as their guards, replacing the Elites. The Elites, outraged, threaten to resign from the Covenant high council; in turn the Prophets give the Brutes carte blanche to kill the Elites, sparking a civil war. In the midst of these developments, the Flood are again released; the High Prophet Mercy is killed by the parasite, while the last remaining leader, Truth, flees to Earth in a Forerunner ship, entrusting the activation of Halo to the Brute Tartarus. The Elites ally with the humans of In Amber Clad to stop the firing of the ring, but inadvertently set all the remaining Halo rings on remote activation from a location known as the Ark, which was built as a "shield world" to protect certain species from the firing of the Halo rings, and also as a foundry to forge new rings, should one be destroyed.
By the events of Halo 3 (2007), the Flood intelligence known as the Gravemind infests and captures High Charity, while the Elites assist humans on Earth in defending themselves. Truth's forces excavate a portal to the Ark, located outside the Milky Way. The Elites follow Truth, and the Covenant Arbiter, or holy warrior, kills Truth. After High Charity arrives at the Ark, the Arbiter and Master Chief decide to activate a partially built Halo ring (the replacement for the ring that the Master Chief destroyed in the first game) destroying the Flood and sparing the rest of the galaxy. The remaining humans and Elites escape back through the portal. The Human-Covenant war ends in March 2553, and the Arbiter leads his Elites back to their homeworld.
The Covenant were featured in Halo 4 (2012), in the form of a splinter group led by Sangheili Jul 'Mdama. This faction still follows the ideology of the old Covenant religion and seeks to find a powerful weapon on Requiem, the fictional planet on which the majority of Halo 4 is set.
Read more about this topic: Covenant Elite
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