The Chikri-Merkaa Conflux
United Nations Space Command Transmission 376377-1
Concerning our previous correspondence, I've attached one of the requested files on the 48 ex-Covenant polities flagged as GREEN on our Threat Assessment Index.* Groups designated "GREEN" have been filed as low-priority for further study until we have a better picture of the ORANGE and RED level factions. In practice, most of the GREEN groups are members of the Arbiter's coalition - including the SoS proper and their allies. So far, our files on these groups have been "tentative" (i.e. often nonexistent), and our internal terminology (to say nothing of the UNSC/UEG at large!) has been grossly inconsistent. Hopefully, this will clear things up on your end -- it would ease things up enormously not having to guess at which one of these factions is being referenced when a doc merely uses the cryptic "Sangheili" or "Elites", especially when 90% of those factions do have actual names. I'm not sure what you're allowed to say out loud to the UEG Liaison Committee, but I've attached slides (w/pictures) with the basics. Trim down at your discretion -- still, I recommend that you familiarize yourself (not just the AI) with the long versions. They can be... eye-opening.
It has been said that the root of all wisdom is the acknowledgment of facts. In our case, those facts are the astropolitical realities we must learn to cope with and adapt ourselves to as best we can. That even with the devolution of power to smaller units, the ex-Covenant aren't another Insurrection, not even the hypothetical, conveniently equiv-tech enemy our armchair admirals used to love to sim, but something far more grand and ancient. Their central government may be gone but all that colonial infrastructure hasn't gone anywhere; unlike some of us, they haven't had the need to harness all of their resources as a civilization to a single war effort for the last 30 years. Joyous Exultation and Glyke (i.e. the incidents the Arbiter and Hood both politely avoid bringing up) made only a small dent on the military power that's now at the hands of God knows who. And to think we hold all the strings is the height of folly. Whatever we do, there are are giants out there and always will be, and contrary to the propaganda the press keeps spewing, those giants aren't us - so we'd better do our damnedest to make sure the nice ones stay on our side. But it's only when those revanchist politicos realize this that I start sleeping soundly at night.
** We're still going over the stellar charts provided by the SoS (their categorization methods are, well, alien), but so far we've identified thousands of worlds as developed as our Inner Colonies (or more so), and well over 9,000 colonies that are in some way notable.
THE CHIKRI-MERKAA CONFLUX
- Name: Chikri-Merkaa Conflux, The
- Type: Aristocratic/oligarchic federal union; constituents include feudal states and dependencies, merchant republics, and uncategorized xeno-collectives.
- Location: Interstellar; Chikri-Merkaa Strand, Siakar Expanse, Raan-Uchaal Bridge [the Orion Arm]
- Sphere of influence: 17 systems; 23 worlds [or comparable habitats]; 4 systems contested (22-03-2558)
- Capital: Station of Auspicious Confluence, Radiant Zenith, Chikri System
* Most of the alien proper names used in the document follow the convention set by the 02/55 AI translation of the General Atlas of the Covenant Empire in the 9th Age of Reclamation According to the Cartographers of Kettan Oor, provided by the Swords as a token of goodwill during the Second Concord Symposium in 2554.
** Unfortunately, our documentation is still filled with obscure references like these due to the aforementioned gaps in our intel.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
The Chikri-Merkaa Conflux is a local trade and military alliance trending toward greater internal unification as the memory of the Covenant's cultural hegemony grows ever dimmer. Their primary decision-making body is a core council of approximately a dozen representatives from its various member groups known as the High Conclave. The basis of the Conclave was the several-hundred-year-old Chikri-Merkaa Trade Alliance, of which most (if not all) of the current members of the Conflux were part. A larger, secondary body known as the Council of Many Voices was recently founded to act as a legislative branch, but it appears to be relatively ineffective due to a large amount of conflicting interests within. The cultural and political heart of the Conflux the colony of Radiant Zenith in the Chikri system, and specifically the orbital platform known as the Station of Auspicious Confluence.
The Conflux can hardly be said to be embodied by a singular leader, though were one to be named it would likely be former Lesser Councilor, now High Speaker Sossak Kar 'Usoi. A key figure in organizing the political system of the Conflux, 'Usoi's status is formally advisory, though in practice he still handles much of the political heavy lifting within the Conclave as well as foreign relations to other polities. Hailing from Radiant Zenith, 'Usoi was formerly part of the Covenant governmental apparatus for the Siakar Expanse's administrative province, and his knowledge of local customs and politics helped greatly in creating the foundations for the Conflux along with his personal aspirations stemming from a lifelong frustration with the Covenant's governance and policies. 'Usoi and several of his allies within the Conflux's political system have infused the faction with an ethos that looks beyond the immediate utilitarian benefits of the alliance, attempting to undo the Covenant' sins and build a better future for all beings.
MAJOR CONSTITUENT ENTITIES
*Different post-Covenant factions have differing ideas on what to call the ongoing new age after the 9th Age of Reclamation came to an end with the Great Schism. Many within the ex-Covenant sphere speak of it as the 40th Age of Conflict, while some, such as the Swords of Sanghelios, have chosen to forgo the Covenant's timekeeping system altogether.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
Societal conditions and demographics
Views on religion
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRY
The CMC is one of the more active ex-Covenant polities engaged in Joint-Occupation Zone activity, partly due to their relative proximity to the human sphere. Many Conflux-based enterprises appear rather ignorant of (or indifferent to) inter-human politics, however, and frequently ignore UEG trade regulations in their dealings with human colonies despite the CMC formally remaining an ally to the UEG and even partaking in joint operations with the UNSC, including the ANVIL Initiative. They have additionally contributed a number of researchers to the Swords' ongoing joint research efforts with the UEG, such as the Onyx United Research Project, along with a number of other allied factions. Ytimmal Signals Enterprise, technological infrastructure concern operating in the Conflux is also one of the first to attempt to bridge the Covenant and human colonial FTL communications networks, with tandem communications operating on at least the JOZ world Far Shore, though larger-scale integration has been stymied by ONI interference.
* Post-Covenant warlords' lack of imagination and/or delusions of grandeur in declaring their faction simply as "the Covenant" have caused significant categorization difficulty for both UNSC and SoS strategists. The current MO in formal documentation is to designate said "Covenants" by their leaders or other influential figures, or locations where they are active or based out of, as with Jul 'Mdama's Covenant or with the Xicaal Nebula Covenant. Some of these factions are helpful enough to take care of the disambiguation themselves, such as the Eternal Covenant, the Holy Covenant Empire, and the Rightful Covenant.
Anyway, the CMC is a post-Covenant faction I made. I like to have some flexibility with regard to aesthetics and doctrine, and it gave me a chance to explore some ideas I find compelling -- or lacking -- in Halo's post-war worldbuilding. Like most of my fanon, the Conflux and the lore surrounding it is tied to my fan story/setting, Halo: Daybreak (or just Daybreak, since Microsoft doesn't like fan productions using the "Halo" title).
The Conflux was born partly to fill a gap in post-war lore. The core idea was basically a faction that isn't A: a military junta or roving warband B: religiously fanatical, C: human-hating, D: too centered on any given species. Most of the ex-Covy allies we see tend to be Sangheili, but I'd also like to see more friendly post-Covenant factions that aren't exclusively or mostly about Elites as I think the Covenant are at their most interesting when viewed as a collective civilization rather than the client species just doing their own things (think Joe Staten's depiction in Contact Harvest).
My goal wasn't to create some kind of perfect Suetopia -- the idea is that the CMC is fairly average as far as post-Covenant factions go and do still have their share of issues, but that they're generally a more "optimistic" side of the coin compared to the likes of Jul 'Mdama or Atriox, while still being distinct from the SoS in terms of ideas on how to go about things. I did wonder how far I could push the species integration in particular while still remaining at least somewhat believable, but I'll just chalk it up to cultural differences (which we know exist in some form!) as well as the effects of the Covenant's fall. It often feels that the Covenant species are being treated as too much like one-dimensional archetypes and I wanted to present some depth to them. Tobias Buckell's "Sangheili hate doctors" in particular is something of a pet peeve of mine -- no culture that actually fights wars and is good at it would make a habit out of refusing medical treatment -- so I downplay it as best I can and present the differences as cultural variety. Besides, Sangheili society is based around a feudal/manorialist system, so one might as well do something with that and actually present some variety in their houses and clans rather than pretend literally all few hundred billion of them act exactly the same everywhere.
As an interesting trivia bit, I actually envisioned the CMC (or what would become the CMC) as making a cameo appearance in canon, in the form of the corvette The Lookout in the Halo: Fractures story Breaking Strain. As usual, the faction controlling the ship is not named beyond the generic "the Elites", but I like to think that ship is (or would later be) part of the Conflux.
Most of the other post-Covenant factions I name-dropped in the doc are just throwaway references to bring flavor to the world. I love the idea that the ex-Covenant empire is absolutely filled with different factions with wildly different ideas on how to run things -- I just wish so many of them weren't essentially Covenant 2.0 right down to their names, even if they're enemies. I did actually write little backgrounds for a couple of them, though (which I would've included in the doc if I hadn't hit the size limit):
The Empyrean Dominion: Led by the Unggoy known as Huhnub the Blessed, the Empyrean Dominion is a motley assortment of several hundred space vehicles of wildly varying kind gathered around New High Charity, a centuries-old Favorable Winds-class cargo barge converted into a makeshift mobile habitat (it is one of several structures or locations with that name in the former Covenant Empire). Despite their lofty religious trappings and the seemingly genuine vision of their founder and his immediate followers, most of them are little more than raiders and assorted low-lifes, and some governments actually pay them to keep them away from their system where they lack the ability (or willingness) to deter their approach with threats of force.
Also, a little anecdote I wrote up on the origins of Glorious Proclamation's name (that likewise belongs in the doc itself, I just ran out of space):
According to The Tale of the Ruin of Vaal Skettar and the Glorious Proclamation of the Great Kaidon Ottal 'Jaren as documented in the Chronicle of the House Jaren,
These were the days of the reign of Kaidon Ottal 'Jaren, who ruled over the Master-Keep of Kartai at the shores of the Twilight-Sea of Qshan, and all his vassals and lesser lords upon Vaal Skettar, the Cherished Abode of Old, with wisdom in his hearts, and the world of Vaal Skettar prospered and won renown among all worlds, and all was well.
But all that might and power and bliss was not to last. In the warrens deep beneath the great city of Kartai, a holy relic lay dormant; the Shrine of Kartai'Qua, it was named, and old tales spoke of its great and terrible power. And all those on Vaal Skettar knew it must not be woken, for to do so would bring about calamity and ruin. Now Kaidon Ottal had a cousin-brother by the name of Zaral 'Jaren, and he was fiery of temper, and foolish at times, though the bond of their friendship was great. Yet Zaral thought the Journey would not come swiftly enough, and he was overcome by zeal and a shadow fell upon him, as it often does fall upon restless hearts who seek truth without wisdom. He studied the forbidden scriptures and the belief entered his hearts that the sacred shrine of Kartai'Qua would unlock the Mysteries of the Journey and bring about the Great Unworlding sooner, even as the time of the coming of the Journey is a secret known only to the Gods themselves and so it must remain.
Yet all reason left Zaral, and so it came to pass that he gathered his followers and made way to the sacred shrine, where the Shrine-Monks of Kartai'Qua told them to turn away, for the holy relic was their domain only and if unshackled, it would only bring terrible peril to all. But Zaral would not heed the monks' wise warnings, and he and his fell warriors brandished their blades; and as they did so the Shrine-Monks did likewise in turn, and Zaral's troop fell upon them. The monks fought bravely to stop Zaral, but a great fervor was upon him and his band, and none could withstand their coming and the holy men were slain. Then Zaral 'Jaren went to the sacred machine and no tale speaks of what happened in that place, but soon there was great noise like thunder and a great pillar of white fire shot up to the sky and the clouds were parted around it like a great maelstorm; and there were great floods across the world of Vaal Skettar, and the ground shook all over, and the people were fearful for they knew the wrath of heaven had been roused.
But Ottal 'Jaren faced the storm, and he flew into the maelstrom where the great citadel of Kartai once lay, where the sea now broiled and fell into the depths in great cataracts and the burning pillar pierced the sky like a spear cast down from the Divine Beyond itself. Yet Ottal would not falter and he spurred his ship through the twisting clouds and the thunder and the rain. As he arrived at the eye of the storm the cliffs of the shore-line and the once great city had nigh all collapsed to the depths, and he plunged his ship downward, where the roused God-Machine burrowed ever deeper into the foundations of Vaal Skettar.
At last the relic came to view through the smoke and ash and water and crumbling stone, and Ottal set his sky-chariot down upon a platform, and made haste inside. Ottal then met his cousin-brother at the heart of the divine machine, where Zaral stood in rapture, his form shrouded by the smoke and fire-light, fell and terrible to behold. Even still Ottal called out to him: "Cease thy madness, brother, or perish by my blade!" But Zaral would not heed the words of his cousin-brother and he laughed, for the power of the relic was upon him, and madness was in his eyes. Ottal then knew what must be done, and he drew his blade and leapt at his cousin-brother, who did likewise; thus was the duel of Ottal and Zaral joined. With terrible speed and ferocity they clashed, yet were evenly matched; for each warrior knew the motions and artifices of the other as if they were his own.
Yet the treacherous Zaral forced Ottal to the edges of the fire-pit, amid pillars of steam and ash. When it seemed Ottal would soon be plunged to the depths, the Kaidon moved like the wind and he gained the high ground; the Ottal Maneuver, it would be called; and without falter he struck down his cousin-brother and plunged him into the fiery heart of the great God-Engine. Yet Ottal could not stop the great machine and it was then that he knew the end had come. He called out to his people to flee as the ground cracked all around them and fire from the depths shot up to the sky, and those who could fled in great ships as the mighty cities and keeps fell to ruin and the whole world was torn asunder. Such was the end of the splendor of Vaal Skettar.
Now Ottal's people were lost in the void, punished by the Gods and their name disgraced by Zaral's great sin. It is said that Ottal wept for seven days for his cousin-brother, for despite Zaral's great wickedness, Ottal had once loved him greatly. And their fleet journeyed restlessly for many cycles across many stars, and other tales speak of that great voyage. Yet when all hope seemed lost they came to the shores of a world far distant from home, and it was there that the Great Kaidon Ottal 'Jaren set his hooves to the ground, and he grasped the soil in his hand and spoke thusly: "Behold! I have led you to this new world, and it shall be here that my clan and kin will settle and grow and flourish unto the Awaited Ascension, when all become as one, or the Void that Ends All." And it was in that place that he set the keystone of his keep and ruled until the end of his days, which were not many for he had grown old and weary during the voyage, and it is where the Jaren Keep stands to this day. Thus the abode-world of Clan Jaren came to be named Glorious Proclamation.
God that was pure catharsis to read. I'm glad to see people recognize the bullshit that was Glasslands.
"Even now, about 15% of our fleet is capable of carrying out operations in the ex-Covenant sphere and reporting back in any reasonable time frame. Incidentally, that's the same 15% that's been refitted with the new Forerunner drives and comms kits."
I know in the Kilo-5 trilogy that the UNSC has been upgrading their slip space tech but I don't know by what means. I know the Infinity has Forerunner slipspace tech installed but what about the rest of the Navy? Does the UNSC just construct slipspace drives and let huragok tinker with it or has the UNSC advance their understanding of slipspace and are able to manufacture more advanced slipspace drives on their own without outside help i.e huragok.
I don't really know. The percentages I tossed around are just my own fanon, obviously, but I'm not sure what 343's stance is -- assuming they've thought this through in the first place.
The Infinity is actually said to have an actual Forerunner drive installed, so that wasn't even a question of reverse-engineering but just jury-rigging the existing drive on the ship with Huragok aid, but then there's the Port Stanley which allegedly had some ill-defined "Forerunner upgrades" already by January 2553. Obviously this is just a plot device to get the characters around faster than should be possible, but it always bothered me all the same. The UNSC did have Huragok by then, from the Ascendant Justice/Gettysburg in First Strike, (even though they're not mentioned in the K-5 books), so it's possible they had a hand in upgrading the Port Stanley -- or at least that's the only likely explanation seeing as the Onyx Dyson sphere hadn't yet been discovered by then. It's just bad worldbuilding.
There are some references to ships other than the Infinity and Port Stanley having faster drives -- like a carrier in last year's Legacy of Onyx -- but there are no official figures on just how many ships have been refit. The "15%" figure was an attempt of mine to bring a bit more sense into the UNSC's post-war level-up -- whatever means for upgrading their ships are, they can't just instantly refit every ship while also trying to rebuild after a war of near-extinction. But whether it's just Huragok tinkering or if UNSC scientists actually understand the underlying mechanisms I have no idea.
We may not have the same opinion about what 343 Industrie is doing with the story of Halo after the human-covenant war, but I think we can all agree on the fact that the covenant civilization was atrociously not described enough and under-estimated. The sangheili-san'shyuum alliance took place in 852 BC, so there is nearly three thousand years of history to tell (without talking about the pre-alliance sangheili history...), with all of its colonisations, technological progress, political turmoils, civils wars and other things. But we have almost nothing. Moreover, in 343 works, we have the impression that the Covenant Empire is weak, small and vulnerable in comparaison to the new UNSC strength, which is absolutely ridiculous. Except for some suicidal operations to destroy military assets in covenant space, the Covenant colonies were never threaten by the war with the humans, and even if the Schism may have caused a brutal civil war (I made some sort of simulation in a fanfiction of mine ^^), the remains would still be powerful enough to eradicate humanity if needed.
In short, your work here is a perfect example of what form of post-Covenant Era factions could exist if 343 was honest about the Halo univers.
I wanted to commission you for a long time about some of the scenes I plan for my ongoing Halo fanfiction (and I will definitely do that in the next few weeks), but now I have to speak to you about a more important project using the CMC and every similar creation you have in mind. I will send you a email as soon as can (I'm french and I will need time to make myself clear about all of this without getting nervous).
So thank you for your contribution to the Halo univers. Thank you for showing what the Covenant Empire should be like.
The Covenant are still too often just an excuse to have aliens to shoot at. Normally we just see their military side but there should be a whole civilization out there, one as lived-in, rich and complex as something like Star Wars, Mass Effect, or, say, the Culture series. But that doesn't really get represented most of the time sadly.
I have to admit this was a well thought out and executed as a side of the Covenant that is almost never seen. As well as establishing your own unique sect out in the fringes of the Covenant Empire that not only made sense in terms of the canon but allowed you to be as flexible as you wanted. That is the sign of a good story teller. I look forward to hearing more about the Chikri-Merkaa Conflux at a later date.
I plan on fleshing out at least their military at some point. I have much of the text written up but I also want to have an illustration of some kind.