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United Nations Space Command Transmission 376377-1

Encryption Code: RED
Public Key: File/looking glass-lucifer-seven
From: Codename: PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY
To: Codename: COALMINER
Subject: Operation LEVIATHAN (Phase One)
Sent: 27/04/2558
Classification: RESTRICTED (BGE Directive)

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.

Halo: Orion Arm Star Map by The-Chronothaur
My AI estimates we're currently aware of 70% of active ex-Covenant polities of any interstellar significance. Most of this is through word of mouth; contact (peaceful or otherwise) has been made with less than 10%. It's not just that they control a far greater number of worlds and systems,** have more distributed governance and record-keeping systems, they are also spread over a VASTLY larger volume (see attached stellar map): it just so happens that for much of their history, they've been able to cover space much quicker than we have until very recently - and we're still getting used to crossing kilolights. 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. The distances are BIG; we're talking casual double to triple digit LYs, from one edge of the spiral arm to the next, for God's sake. Needless to say, that's an issue to us, and coupled with the risk of detection, it makes expansive intelligence-gathering an impossibility even if Infinity and our modest fleet of equiv-tech equipped prowlers could be everywhere at once. We've deployed probes, obviously, but our coverage remains patchy; plus there are places where it's not really expedient to leave any UNSC let alone ONI hardware floating around. So far, intel given by the Arbiter and his allies (as well as daredevil xenoanthropologists hitching rides on alien craft) is our best bet.

If you'll pardon the rant, [REDACTED]'s postbellum psychosis didn't do us all too many favors. While she had her underlings running relative handfuls of guns to cultists and chasing single warships we had entire fleets dropping off our radar, and that's just the fleets we had tabs on. I don't think she understood even then, after 27 years, that we were dealing with a 3000+ year old starfaring civilization that has carved itself a comfortably large chunk of the Orion Arm rather than another trigger-happy colony. (Then again, she didn't understand much of anything anymore at that point - those stims had really taken their toll.) Thank God SURGEON had the temerity to pull the plug on that little grain experiment of hers, or we'd suddenly have had a few thousand colonies' worth of angry aliens ready to finish the job of burning us to the ground, rather than just some of them.

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.


----

*Clarification: the Threat Assessment Index used here is the amended Treaty version (2553/09/10) in which INTENT is factored into the final score, not just CAPABILITY. It may be unorthodox, but we found our standards ceased being helpful at rating these groups when nearly the entire ex-Covenant sphere ended up shining bright red. No matter how much [REDACTED] wants it, we simply cannot afford to treat any post-Covenant group larger than a planetary government like we would an Innie cell.

** 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 following file has been compiled from a number of sources, the most notable being: Civilian X-A, Military X-A, Civilian Testimonials, Ex-Covenant Information Disclosure/Voluntary, Ex-Covenant Information Disclosure/Encouraged, and Military Reconnaissance.


THE CHIKRI-MERKAA CONFLUX


       Conflux Banner by The-Chronothaur
  • 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
The Chikri-Merkaa Conflux, commonly known only as the Conflux, is a modestly-sized post-Covenant frontier polity centered around the astropolitical grouping of systems known as the Chikri-Merkaa Strand in the Siakar Expanse,* a region of the Covenant's outer empire located Orion-wards from the human colonial sphere. Predominantly a civilian government, military personnel comprise only a fraction of their total populace. The CMC's primary strength lies in their robust economy owing to the several influential corporate and pseudo-corporate entities they house or have dealings with, and by extension their trade alliances with various other polities. However, their output is not noteworthy enough to make them a prize to be coveted by the major players, primarily as Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, as the focus of their trade is on matters of little military importance.

In many ways, the CMC is just like any other minor colonial alliance in the ex-Covenant sphere, roughly of the same size and level of influence and activity as such polities as the Golden Compact, the Jjaibii Shroud Nexus or the Yaspi Ribbon Enfold, while their military capability is quite comparable with that of the Panoply of the Enlightened or the Quenzi Periphery Trident.** A post-war outgrowth of an already extant trade alliance in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand, the trend in the Conflux has been toward growth into a full-fledged interstellar polity with an emerging identity and ethos of their own. The prevailing attitude climate is variable, but progressive by post-Covenant standards.

The Conflux is part of the Outer Vigil, a coalition of interstellar polities spread across the former Covenant Empire allied with the Swords of Sanghelios led by the Arbiter, Thel 'Vadam. These colonial groups do not always subscribe to the letter of the SoS' doctrine and frequently maintain their own names, cultures, and aesthetics, but are by and large allies to the greater coalition of those sympathetic to Vadam on an overall policy level. Such polities do not necessarily contribute much to the war in the Sangheili core worlds, but they do serve the Arbiter's interests in their own ways across the ex-Covenant colonies, something that is particularly valuable near the expansion spheres of humanity or the various Covenant Fringe species.

While distant from the focal point of the Blooding Years, the Conflux is nonetheless affected by the turmoil and uncertainty that now rules across what used to be the Covenant-held portions of the Orion Arm. Were a prominent warlord like Jul 'Mdama to muster the effort he could easily burn them to the ground; as grimly demonstrated in 2556, when 'Mdama's fleet annihilated a remarkably similar faction known as the Naith Haven. Should the CMC make it through the turbulence, they will slowly carve themselves a foothold in their home region and further cement their emerging civilization.

The Conflux is situated relatively close to the borders of the human sphere, and they have a significant Joint-Occupation Zone presence for their size as well as various dealings with human colonial entities near the crossing region known as the Hades Gulf. Joint military operations have been carried out with the UNSC as well as part of the overall arrangement with the Arbiter's coalition.

----

*
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.
 
A delicate balance has always existed in the Chikri-Merkaa region between the local governing bodies and corporate interests, the latter represented prominently by a Kig-Yar banking alliance and other enterprises, a trade port run by an Unggoy, as well as Sangheili mining concerns. There is no fully reliable system of checks and balances, and the Conflux's federal government exists in a complicated relationship with the corporations and pseudo-corporate quasi-governments it hosts, especially in relation to differences in policy; the government would rather not provoke the merchants' ire or have them shift allegiances to other ex-Covenant groups, occasionally granting them various concessions as a result.

MAJOR CONSTITUENT ENTITIES


Radiant Zenith (Haht Jodjem)
Considered by many to be the capital of the Conflux is the colony world Radiant Zenith, located in the Chikri system. Housing the Jewel-City of Terpen, well known of old for its splendor, and encircled by an expansive belt of orbital habitats and docks known as the Ring of Radiance, Radiant Zenith was first established by the Covenant in the 10th Age of Doubt as a trading outpost in the then-growing Siakar Expanse. Its brightness has somewhat waned in the recent centuries as outward expansion gradually ground to a stop at Siakar, but it remains a moderately important center of culture and political power. Terpen is among the 14 largest urban centers in the Siakar Expanse, two of which are located in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand. With a population of 8.9 billion, Zenith has historically been a Covenant world first and foremost; the world is home to at least as many Kig-Yar and Unggoy as Sangheili, as well as Yanme'e sub-hives.

The functioning government of Radiant Zenith and the Chikri system is known as the Zenith Lordship, based out of Terpen and comprising the ruling city-state of Vernam and their several dozen vassal-states and provinces, including a pair of active orbital ports run by Kig-Yar as well as clans on off-world colonies within the system. The House Vernam is very old, rising to prominence on the Moons of Tar Chatta of the Qerkossian Shore all the way back in the Covenant's first millennium; Zenith's founders had already been removed from Sanghelios by two generations of colonies by the time the world was settled. The world's settlement was part of a Ministerial initiative to form a strong basis for security and prosperity in the then-growing Siakar Expanse, which included the settlement of strong Sangheili populations in the crossroads of major sliplanes.

The current Lord of the Zenith is Archkaidon Ileg 'Vernam, who rules out of the great Spire-Keep of Jahl Terpen. The Archkaidon is fairly young, assuming the position after his predecessor was killed in the Devastation of Joyous Exultation, but he is wise enough to listen to the counsel of his Elders, Oracle Masters as well as High Speaker 'Usoi where his own lack of experience fails him -- as well as to ignore them when their old ways hold them back in this new age. His relative inexperience prepared him well for the task of rule in a post-Schism world, however, as those more set in their ways may not have been able to adapt to the new order as well as he did.

The Skar-idir Nestweb
A predominantly Kig-Yar habitat and trading outpost consisting of several hundred interconnected asteroid-habitats. Many of the asteroids are connected by flexible docking tubes in a traditional Kig-Yar fashion, creating an intricate "web" of nest-colonies. Most of the asteroids (or hab-clusters) are independent societies of their own, though they elect a largely ceremonial governor to represent the entire colony's interests for a term of a local year. Currently, Skar-idir's governor is the self-styled High Broodmistress Shik Rok, who is often represented on the Conclave by the Broodprince Skirn Rok.

Based out in an otherwise dead system neighboring Chikri that the Sangheili who initially colonized the region had little interest in, the Nestweb began as a Kig-Yar trading and refueling station several centuries ago and eventually became a permanent habitat as the families who controlled the outpost ended up settling there, having formed advantageous trading partnerships with the local Sangheili clans and enterprises. Over time, the Kig-Yar families branched off and more Kig-Yar were attracted to the area due to its business opportunities. Now, it is primarily a nestworld, home to 810 million permanent inhabitants. While many large family-businesses still operate from there, it has lost its role as the region's main trading outpost to the Haar Nappar Freehold due to the latter's more advantageous location. Though Skar-idir is the largest single habitat of Kig-Yar in the region, they are a rather common sight across the Chikri-Merkaa Strand and its immediate surroundings, particularly on Radiant Zenith, Haar Nappar and several lesser worlds.

The Haar Nappar Freehold
An active bazaar and trade port located in a sprawling asteroid-complex at the confluence of two of the most active trade routes that run through the Chikri-Merkaa Strand at the borders of the neighboring Jjaibii Shroud Nexus. Run by the Unggoy merchant-lord Yibyip the Affluent, who retained much of his wealth since the Covenant's fall due to his adaptability as well as Haar Nappar's fortuitous location, the Freehold is a link in a great network of trade stations across the Covenant Empire, connecting directly to such centers of trade as Zheg's Haven, the Rift, Kor Delban, the Kjuze Nexus, Infinite Virtue Station and the Mobish Enclave. Haar Nappar is the Conflux's beating economic heart as well as easily the most cosmopolitan of its constituents, particularly as trade has opened up to the human sphere and is continually increasing in volume as ex-Covenant polities both recover from the Schism and continue to push to the coreward regions of the Orion Arm, further away from the turbulence of the Blooding Years. Although the Jjaibii Shroud remains more popular as a pit stop for travelers between the human and ex-Covenant spheres in the Siakar Expanse, the Chikri-Merkaa Strand still sees a notable amount of activity due to the region's relative stability, and the prominence and wealth of Haar Nappar grow by the day as traffic between the two civilizations' spheres of influence increases.

The core asteroid of Haar Nappar was originally mined out by Sangheili over a century before the region was colonized. After the Kig-Yar settled in the nearby Skar system and founded the Skar-idir trading outpost, Haar Nappar was colonized by a rival family-brood with the intent on outdoing Skar-idir. It did not last, and after a century, Haar Nappar was all but abandoned. Since then, it served as a den for pirates and various lowlifes over several decades, until the Sangheili clan of Kor-Norsam took over it in the Cleansing of Haar Nappar and made it a military base, though even this was not to last as Kor-Norsam lost their status and were forced to abandon the station. After systems were settled beyond Chikri-Merkaa and more traffic began to flow through the region, Haar Nappar suddenly found itself in a more advantageous location in regards to trade routes, and Kig-Yar from Skar-idir moved in, roughly three centuries ago. Since then, the station has only grown, with more asteroids (as well as other assorted objects) being merged with the core complex and spawning many outlying facilities in neighboring asteroids. Around a decade ago, the Kig-Yar family in charge of Haar Nappar's largest emporium were driven into an untenable position with their master-clutch on Skar-idir, and were forced to migrate elsewhere in Covenant space lest they be forced into a bloody feud; the Unggoy merchant Yibyip bought off the enterprise with all his savings at the time. In less than then years, he became known as Yibyip the Affluent, for there was business to be had at Haar Nappar, and business was good.

Having already declared Haar Nappar an independent state since the Covenant's fall, Yibyip has come to an arrangement with the Conclave for protection, offering his contacts and trading resources in return; it did help that most of the major Sangheili clans of the region had so far treated Yibyip with more respect than Unggoy are usually accorded -- though Yibyip's wealth and influence may have played a role. Since the Conflux's founding, Yibyip and his inner pack have contributed extensively to the well-being of Unggoy in the Conflux, including securing a deal involving more protective Unggoy harnesses in the military and seeking to improve the conditions of Unggoy workers within the various Sangheili and Kig-Yar corporate enterprises. Consequently, even the most backwards Sangheili are beginning to see the benefits of well-trained and motivated Unggoy.

Amaranthine Resplendence (Raih Achla)
One of the three most prominent Sangheili worlds in the Conflux, with a population of 3.5 billion. As indicated by the name, the entire planet has an opalescent burgundy red hue for which it is known. Much of the planet is covered in a shallow ocean on the shores of which many of its cities and keeps are built; the landmasses are mostly steep mountain ranges and are home to many vast gorges and canyons, and many of the coastal cities are built directly into the mountainsides. Their ruling family is Clan Ryskeema, perhaps the second or third most influential Sangheili family within the Conflux, ruled over by High Kaidon Onatjann 'Ryskeema from the City-Tower of Hakar Shaan on the Isle of Otchichi. They are best known for their artisans and builders who have worn even wider renown for their sleek and elegant trademark style.

Glorious Proclamation (Kaa'shash)
A Sangheili colony known for its plains, forests, jungles and swamplands, Glorious Proclamation was the first world in the C-M Strand to be formally colonized. Home to 1.2 billion inhabitants, it is the least populous of the major Sangheili worlds of the Conflux but has a strong industrial base. Even now, much of the planet remains untamed wilderness the Sangheili enjoy to roam and hunt in. The planet was originally named for the famed proclamation of the colony's founder, Ottal 'Jaren, who declared it as the new home of his people over 1,500 years ago after a long journey of which many ballads are sung; for their original homeworld, the mighty Vaal Skettar of old, was devastated by a great disaster after a fanatic activated the engines of a long-buried Forerunner vessel. Even now poems and songs speak of their long-lost home with longing; though the clans who survived the Ruin of Vaal Skettar did recover admirably, they would never return to such greatness as they had on their ancestral homeworld. Glorious Proclamation's capital is known as Dohn Haur, the City Above the Mist.
 
Led by Kaichen Uri 'Jaren, the Sangheili of Clan Jaren are now renowned for their armorers and weaponsmiths; indeed, the Jaren Manufactories are the most well-known clan-armorers in the region and have historically supplied armor for the house Jaren and some of the region's lesser families as well as many Kig-Yar and Unggoy based out in the region. Now, they are the prime supplier for the Conflux itself. Free of the Covenant's restrictions and standardization dictates, they are now experimenting with various all-new patterns of armor and weaponry tailored to the Conflux's doctrine in this new Age.*

Kiin Djetjom
A toxic world home to the Yanme'e Kup'qax Master-Hive, the largest -- albeit not the only -- Yanme'e hive in the Strand. The Kup'qax Yanme'e are longtime vassals of Clan Ryskeema of Amaranthine Resplendence dating back to the founding of the local colonies over a millennium ago. They have since pledged allegiance to the greater Conflux for protection and trade, offering their engineering expertise in return; as they have done in the region for centuries. The master-hive is currently governed by Queen Kup'Hq-Xirk, who is represented on the Conclave by the Hive-Prince Kup'Hq-Tuplik 12. Kup'Hq-Xirk also represents several lesser queens inhabiting sub-hives across the Conflux's lesser worlds, though hive-queens on the major worlds -- primarily Radiant Zenith -- mainly deal with their local Kaidons.

Kiett'abannot
A Lekgolo Swarm-moon home to the grouping known as the Kiett'abannot Gathering, which has continued its millennial agreement with Clan Vernam to supply troops and nonsapient collectives for various mining and industrial machinery in exchange for access to spaceways and resources; otherwise Kiett'abannot is perhaps the most isolated entity in the Conflux. The Kiett'abannot swarm and Clan Vernam have been partners since the Fall of Jakat Nur of the Qerkossian Shore Crusades over 2000 years ago, and the Swarm has previously handled their dealings exclusively through the clan. However, they have lately began sending a special colony-gestalt -- Qwaza Ziin Hoob, the Voice of the Swarm --  as their envoy to the Conclave and seemingly aim to become more involved in the Conflux's decision-making.

----

*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.

HISTORY

Within the Covenant, the worlds of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand went through the usual motions; paid their tithes and sent their requisite warriors to the Ministry of Resolution, but otherwise they have never been known as the most distinguished heroes or most fanatical adherents of the Covenant cause; just another province in the Outer Covenant Empire, whose cultural output and economic prowess nonetheless kept them afloat. The Strand was not a popular path for Covenant fleets headed out for the human sphere during the Human-Covenant War, as the region lacked major military supply bases; fleets instead favored the neighboring Jjaibii Shroud or the coreward Hark'azai Curtain, both of which housed more refueling stops and supply facilities. During the war, many inhabitants of the C-M Strand shared the greater sentiment of disgruntlement with the human war, and in its later years there was an increasing amount doubt as to the Prophets' excuses for the extermination of humanity, especially among the Sangheili youth; as such many sought service in the Covenant's internal patrol fleets and local garrisons rather than the forces headed out to the war.

Chikri-Merkaa saw relatively little fighting in the Great Schism. There were a number of Jiralhanae in the region, but the few workers based there quickly submitted to the Sangheili's rule or fled. The Covenant's major fleets did not pass through the Strand, though there was fighting with some scattered Jiralhanae raiding parties, largely deserters who did not heed the Prophet of Truth's summons to Earth and the Ark. Mostly, the population went about their business while their warriors were out in the front lines, far away. The faithful awaited for the Great Journey that never came, and when the news of Truth's demise and the Covenant's fall broke, most had already prepared themselves for the inevitable.

The sudden disappearance of central governance was a blow, but within the Covenant, control had been devolved to multiple regional, provincial and sub-provincial levels due to the empire's sheer size and scope. The Chikri-Merkaa Strand itself was never strictly an administrative division, though the Zenith Lordship held significant sway in the region, and with the local Siakar Provincial Authority dissolved in the chaos, the local leadership quickly began to take control, a situation happening across thousands of systems. Planetary governments, irrespective of the preeminent species, realized they would rather take their chances in the turbulence as part of larger units, preferably gathered around common interests; in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand's case, those were continued security and trade, and with other interstellar polities quickly forming all around them, the leaders of the Strand were forced to act swiftly. On December 27, 2552, everyone who had any major pull in the Strand region was summoned to Station of Auspicious Confluence, at the time the center of the Chikri-Merkaa Trade Alliance. What is now known as the First Gathering was attended by Councilor Sossak Kar 'Usoi, Archkaidon Ileg 'Vernam, Kaichen Uri 'Jaren, Broodmistress Shik Rok, Baron Zhak Yikg, Hive-Prince Kup'Hq-Xilik 5, Mistress Overseer Shvarr 'Norsam, and various lesser members of the alliance. Thus, before the year 2552 was over according to the human reckoning, a tentative agreement had been reached by the core parties of what would become the Conflux. Yibyip and the Haar Nappar Freehold would formally become part of the Conflux only nearly a year later after no small amount of convincing and concessions.

In the start, the Conflux had little in the way of a unified ethos and were largely a more involved continuation of the already existing Chikri-Merkaa Trade Alliance. For the most part, business would continue as usual, though there was a greater focus on locally-provided security, and the foundations of the common military were quickly laid by Fleet Master-turned-Supreme Commander Skortak 'Huozinam and General Kora 'Zamam. The Ultimatum of Confluence, the formal ratification document of the Conflux such as it exists today, was drafted largely by High Speaker Sossak Kar 'Usoi and signed by the members of the Conclave on February 7, 2554. The date of the signing of the Ultimatum of Confluence, as recorded by their own calendar, has become a national holiday of a similar caliber as the Covenant's Cycle of Union. Otherwise, the member worlds have largely carried on with their own preexisting customs, though other common holidays may slowly emerge.

The Conflux's home territory is fortunate enough not to have not been subject to major attacks; most hostile activity within the Chikri-Merkaa Strand since the Schism has been in the form of pirates and assorted independent raider groups, with the exception of several larger skirmishes with the Sons of Heaven and the Storm of Faith, operating out of the Ikket'hai Bloc. The majority of these battles took place at Glorious Proclamation and Amaranthine Resplendence, as well as various uninhabited and off-Conflux systems in 2555 and 2556. The Nestweb of Skar-idir was embroiled in an inter-Kig-Yar feud with the Roostworld Cii'hith based in the Koor-Zaan Stream in 2556, though the conflict was ultimately settled through a peculiar combination of arranged marriages and gifts.

Since the Schism, the long-term effects of the surrounding unrest and cultural upheaval on the worlds of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand have yet to be determined. An increasing number of individuals, even entire Sangheili families, have emigrated to frontier polities such as the CMC from Sanghelios and other core worlds due to the ongoing turmoil there in search of a better future, to the point the worlds of Chikri-Merkaa, like other far-flung colonies, may soon have a refugee crisis in their hands - though so far the secondary worlds of the Conflux, such as the agricultural colony of Khimshi and the mining world of Ytchorr, have largely been able to accommodate the new arrivals.


CULTURE AND SOCIETY

Culturally, the Conflux is diverse among its constituent states, though an independent overall cultural identity is slowly emerging, drawing heavily from the extant cultural makeup of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand - partly as a conscious effort to build up their identity as an independent group rather than an adjunct of the Covenant. Like many regions colonized well into the Covenant's existence, the Chikri-Merkaa Strand and the entire Siakar Expanse is rather cosmopolitan in terms of species makeup partly due to policies imposed by the Covenant administration. However, the treatment of the lower-caste species by the local Sangheili clans has historically been on the better end of the scale, which has done its own part to ease the slow transition to a more systematically egalitarian arrangement. Of the other species operating in proximity to the Sangheili, many of the Zenither or Chikrim Kig-Yar in particular have adopted many Sangheili customs and cultural quirks - something not too uncommon in such environments, as the Kig-Yar tend to be rather adaptive. This is one of many factors that have made the Kig-Yar's gradually increasing presence more tolerable to the Sangheili over the past few centuries.

The Sangheili clans of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand are best known for their artisans and builders, and the architectural marvels of the region have been well-documented for over a thousand years by travelers. The cuisine of clans Zamam, Achla-Vernam and Oskinam is likewise renowned among Sangheili across the Siakar Expanse and beyond, and clan Jaren as well as their lesser lords produce many arts and crafts besides their manufacture of war harnesses. The poets, writers and philosophers of House Vernam and the greater Zenith Lordship have worn fame since their oldest families migrated into the Siakar Expanse, over a millennium ago, from the earlier colonies of Jakat'haar and Ishebannai in the Qerkossian Shore of the Sangheili middle rim. Zenith's nature as a world of scholars and thinkers, combined with its location at a crossroads of activity and thus many varied influences, have all contributed to making it a progressive and forward-thinking world by Sangheili standards. The Great Library in Terpen's Ruunril Spire is one of the most extensive collections of ancient texts within the Siakar Expanse, and since the Schism, many databanks rescued from High Charity by dedicated Loremasters and Deacons have been copied there. For higher learning, Sangheili from Amaranthine Resplendence often seek attendance in the academies of Radiant Zenith, for they are the most advanced in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand, and there is a strong historical bond between the inhabitants of both worlds. However, the Sangheili of Glorious Proclamation are more traditional than the clans of Zenith and Amaranthine Resplendence, and have a fiercely independent spirit and strong sense of pride thanks to their unique history as the first settlers of the region.

Meanwhile, the Haar Nappar Freehold is a melting pot of culture as a meeting point for ships and travelers from thousands of worlds across the Covenant Empire, and the culture of the Skar-idir Nestweb is variable amongst the families and clans that inhabit its many asteroids, which have settled there in a number of waves from different parts of the Covenant space.

Societal conditions and demographics

The Conflux has abolished the Covenant's formal species-based caste system. The reasons behind which are not merely selfless ones; it is also way to present them as an attractive option to prospective members among the formerly mistreated subject species, as well as to improve their productivity and motivation. That said, exact conditions and attitudes vary by individual and sub-group, and tensions obviously remain to varying degrees. Functionally, many of the roles the different species assume in the Conflux also tend to correspond to their roles in the Covenant era (e.g. Unggoy and Yanme'e still comprise most of the manual labor force), if only out of convenience and lack of time for a larger social upheaval to take effect. Despite the often less-than-perfect implementation of the group's rather noble ethos (there is some variety in policies among the group's political subdivisions), the former "lesser" species still have more of a chance of having their voices heard or rising through the ranks than in the Covenant.

The most prominent species in the CMC are Sangheili, Kig-Yar, Unggoy, and Yanme'e. A substantial number of Yanme'e and Lekgolo serve in various specialist or laborer roles on the worlds of the Strand - such as technological enterprises, mining and industry - but their true numbers at Kiin Djetjom and Kiett'abannot are impossible to gauge. The Yanme'e's engineering expertise has come in particularly useful, as the Conflux has relatively few Huragok compared to factions with larger war-fleets, though more have since been bred by the CMC's base population and as part of deals with neighboring polities. A number of Jiralhanae exist within the Conflux's sphere, most of them transient inhabitants of the Haar Nappar Freehold, but they were never significant enough on the other worlds to comprise a major demographic, their fairly recent incorporation to the Covenant not yet having taken effect in the region. A small number of San'Shyuum have been granted amnesty, most of them civilians of low political status ignorant of the high-level scheming in their species' political structure. By and large, a strong resentment of Brutes and Prophets is still prevalent especially among the Sangheili inhabitants, and there have been incidents involving the few Jiralhanae in the area.

The official line of the Conclave speaks of the Human-Covenant War as "the Great Atrocity", and the majority within the Conflux condemn the war as a needless and costly folly instigated by the Hierarchs' treacherous regime. Most of the core Conflux population's views toward humans range from favorable to politely indifferent, as humans are of little relevance to their daily lives. Though the Conflux seeks to employ humans for consultant roles regarding their dealings with humanity itself (as well as for roles in Forerunner artifact retrieval due to their Reclaimer status), the number of humans in their ranks remains very small. Perhaps the Conflux's most visible human contact is military; while the UNSC is hesitant to involve themselves in the turbulence of the Sangheili core systems, cooperation with SoS-aligned outer colonial polities presents fewer risks.

The Conflux's rather integrated arose out of circumstance. The Kig-Yar in the region had generations-long business deals and other arrangements with the local Sangheili clans, along with a permanent nestworld in local space with protection provided by the Sangheili; many also occupy lesser positions in the Sangheili-run business concerns and guilds. The Yanme'e were likewise integrated to the region's society by generations-long bonds. Most Unggoy in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand live as worker-subjects on the Sangheili worlds or their off-world facilities, while Yibyip's trading enterprise at Haar Nappar is hardly Unggoy-exclusive. Few Unggoy of lower stature, even those with the means or permission to leave, have taken up the offer due to having secure jobs where they are and the fact they would face an uncertain future in their species' home regions, particularly given the CMC's relative stability; while many remain little more than indentured servants, they know their masters would still treat them far better than the likes of Jul 'Mdama or Atriox.

A consequence of the Conflux's societal arrangement is an outward migration of certain elements. Those select few unable to live with the shift to less militant attitudes go on to join more belligerent groups such as 'Mdama's Covenant. More harmlessly, some of the Sangheili in search of greater military heroism and glory often migrate to the SoS proper. A more unfortunate byproduct of the new order is the radicalization of Sangheili youths to various cults and terrorist groups - resulting from a feeling of aimlessness caused by the Conflux's lack of a definite mission or collective faith that is actively exploited by cultist recruiters within the Conflux's underworld.

Views on religion

The Conflux's government is officially secular. While a majority of the population is irreligious or some variation thereof, many within the Chikri-Merkaa Strand have also not forsaken the core idea of the Path, but have accepted differing (usually more worldly) interpretations of the Great Journey, something not uncommon across the former Covenant Empire.

Several religious groups are active on the Conflux worlds, though none have as of yet significant power, and only a select few are exclusive to the CMC. Among many believers, it is commonly agreed that although the Sacred Rings may not in truth initiate the Journey, there are other ways into the Divine Beyond; theologians of old speak of the Long Path, where the Halos were the Swift Path to the Journey. Now, various philosophical and mystic sects study the Mysteries of the Journey and how it may be reconciled with the truth of the Halos. Many views once branded as heresies are now being re-examined, such as the notion that the Great Journey may be achieved through lesser Forerunner discoveries, or in more radical cases, even spiritual and moral self-improvement, as stated by the increasingly popular philosophy known as the Raah Chïwei ("[The] Path From Within"), originating from the great thinker Qtaan the Far-Dreamer in a particularly enlightened age of the Covenant's classical antiquity, albeit later banned as heretical in times of greater zeal.

Associated with Raah Chïwei in some traditions is the Raah Acchun ("Doctrine of the Broad Path") - that is, notion that since all sentient species possess the potential for godhead in the Great Journey, it follows that all species should be treated with respect. Raah Acchun was actually part of the Covenant faith in its early days, before more species were found and the subjugation of "lesser" species started to seem more convenient; the Covenant's Ninth Great Doctrinal Council decreed that although all believers walk the Path into the Divine Beyond side by side, the hierarchy of creatures of lesser and greater stature is the natural order of things in the mortal plane. Now, the teachings of Raah Acchun are preached by the Church of the Broad Path, founded by the former Deacon Ilyil after studying ancient texts in the Great Library of Terpen since a crisis of faith during the Schism drove him to a journey of soul-searching. The Church has even sent missionaries to human worlds the Conflux has dealings with, although converts remain few. As well, the religious views of some members of the Conflux have already started to syncretize with human religions in their Joint-Occupation Zone holdings and trading outposts.
 
An increasingly popular view shared by many casual believers is the universalist Chiah Haqu'un (directly translated as "Branching Tree Plurality", or more freely styled as the "Way of the Branching Tree"), stating that all forms of belief in the Path are merely different facets of a universal Truth, and thus one need not concern themselves with details of doctrine. The Cult of the Master Builder remains quite strong among the craftsmen, builders and artisans of Amaranthine Resplendence, and even many of those who publicly denounce the Forerunners' divinity continue to make offerings to their profession's patron god in private. Other fringe sects include the group known as the Punished (not to be confused with the Banished) who actually worship humans as reincarnations of the Forerunners and views the Covenant's fall and the Great Schism as divine punishment for their crimes against the Reclaimers, though the Punished do not enjoy any noteworthy level of popularity. Sacred Ring cults do still exist as well, but not above street level.

Religious views considered "backwards", such as those preached by the Covenant in its dying days, or later the likes of Jul 'Mdama, tend to be viewed as boorish or even offensive by the majority of the Conflux; hatred of the treacherous Covenant administration in the 9th Age of Reclamation remains strong, and many within the Conflux extend no sympathy for those who would perpetuate their sins - including the pointless and destructive war against the humans, seeing as the entire war was initiated on the Prophets' lies. While they do not officially concern themselves with matters of faith, the Conclave as well as some of the local governmental bodies actively work to prevent the spread of radical religious ideologies, so that support for fanatics would not take hold and uproot the stability of the region; as such, the Conclave's agents actually support the more worldly churches behind the scenes so that believers would not end up enticed into the radical groups.

TERRITORIAL EXTENT

The Conflux's territorial holdings are fairly modest by ex-Covenant standards. They mainly operate in the Chikri-Merkaa Strand, a collection of systems in the Siakar Expanse, a region of several hundred stars the Covenant first settled in the the 7th Age of Discovery. Located on average 900 light-years from humanity's furthest-flung Orion-side colonies, the Strand is relatively close to the human expanse. Not all worlds of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand, as historically defined, are part of the Conflux, though the borders of such informal subdivisions of the Old Covenant are hardly set and are ever shifting in the chaos of the Treaty period as allegiances shift and change. As of 2558, the Conflux holds dominion over a total of 17 systems and 23 worlds. Many of the lesser worlds are agricultural and industrial colonies or mining outposts in otherwise uninhabited systems, as well as vassal-colonies of the larger states; the Chikri system itself houses three colonies in addition to Radiant Zenith, and there is significant Kig-Yar activity and lesser settlements across the entire Chikri-Merkaa region.

The Conflux maintains a noteworthy Joint-Occupation Zone presence on the newly-founded colony of Far Shore in the Hades Gulf, along with elements of the Jjaibii Shroud Nexus. The Jaa'ata Tradebrood, based out of Skar-idir, maintains an outpost in the New Vietnam asteroid-nation, and the Conflux has an agreement with the UNSC to operate their ships out of Nouveau Montreal's docks. Trade agreements exist with various human colonies, most prominently Gao, Newsaka, and various Gilgameshi micro-governments.


ECONOMY AND INDUSTRY

For its size, the Conflux has a remarkably robust economy, owing to their extant infrastructure and corporate presence. Most of the major worlds' exports are works of art, various luxury items, as well as renowned builders, architects and engineers from Radiant Zenith and Amaranthine Resplendence. Battle-harnesses manufactured by Jaren Armories are exported outside the Chikri-Merkaa Strand, though not in major volumes, though they are in talks with nearby polities to begin larger-scale production. Overall, they have access to most aspects of the Covenant's technological base such as it existed on a local level, though they lack shipyards capable of constructing large capital ships, and can barely service the ones they have. They control one Sar'wibaan-type fuel refinery - old and low-capacity by modern standards, but enough to supply their needs for now.

Notable corporate or economic entities include the Chikri Explorer Guild, a former Ministry of Tranquility sub-contractor in artifact acquisition; Norsam Mercantile, a Sangheili familial merchant consortium operating from Amaranthine Resplendence with contacts all the way to the Sangheili Mid and Inner expansion rims; the Zamran Builder Guild, based out of Amaranthine Resplendence; the Zhag Banking Alliance, a Kig-Yar-run effort that has largely handled the heavy lifting in creating the economic and financial foundations for the Conflux - in no small part to their own benefit; and the Jaa'ata Tradebrood, a Kig-Yar trading concern. The Haar Nappar Freehold is home to Yibyip's impressive bazaar and trade fleet, who have managed to procure numerous items since the Covenant's fall - though the focus of Yibyip's trade has historically been on luxury goods, foodstuffs such as spices and other civilian items, he has shifted some of his focus to acquiring more military materiel at the urging of the Conclave. Dozens of lesser markets exist within Haar Nappar with items from all across the former Covenant Empire and beyond.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

In the larger scheme of post-Covenant political alignments, the Conflux is functionally a sub-entity of the Swords of Sanghelios; one of several dozen semi-passive outer rim allies known as the Outer Vigil that would prefer the war be over, but do nonetheless agree with Thel where it counts, mostly in the area of foreign policy. The CMC may, in time, become increasingly assimilated into the SoS proper depending on the progression of the Blooding Years. For now, autonomy from the core Swords gives satellite factions such as the Conflux certain political and doctrinal flexibility. The Arbiter has the wisdom to know not everyone is going to agree with his ideas to the letter, and respects the value of allies in these turbulent times. The Arbiter has yet to visit the Conflux in person, for he is very busy with other matters; the alliance with the Swords was agreed to by Thel's envoy and nephew Trass 'Vadam, who accompanied the major Kaidons of the worlds of Chikri-Merkaa on a hunt in the preserves of Glorious Proclamation, and received a specially-made Jaren battle-harness as a gift.

Their foreign policy can be summed up as "cautiously expansionist", and despite their alliance with 'Vadam they avoid involving themselves with the larger Sangheili civil war wherever they can. They try to build alliances with other ex-Covenant colonial polities, though their main interests lie in regions with less established interstellar governments where they may expand their own sphere of governance, and have successfully done so in two contested systems. They place a great emphasis on their public image and information warfare to polish their reputation in the eyes of ex-Covenant and humans alike. As they've gained power and reputation, they've grown bolder and are not above military intervention against more aggressive factions if it benefits them significantly, but they tend to weigh in the populace's perception of the previous government; they prefer to be seen as liberators rather than conquerors. Case in point, the Sons of Heaven, a military junta that had been harassing the Conflux's trade convoys was recently overthrown in the nearby Iar-Djebuus system and replaced with a Conflux-aligned interim government welcomed by most locals.

Favorable diplomatic relations and trade deals are upheld to a handful of comparable polities in the Covenant sphere, notably the Jjaibii Shroud Nexus, the Golden Compact, the Jahkuur Annex Gauntlet and the Reconciled Paradigm, along with roughly a dozen individual colonies. The Conflux is also part of the larger Siakar-Hezzaggor Trade Area, encompassing roughly 150 inhabited systems and 14 interstellar post-Covenant polities. Lesser trade deals exist all the way to the Jartuub Salient, the Qleshan Twilight and the Lesser Iabuzen Thicket and groups such as the Apex-Clutch of Hizik, the Skarr Girdle and the New Cohort of the Third Migration. Tenuous non-aggression pacts are upheld with several less reputable factions (notably the Empyrean Dominion, the Eternal Covenant* and the Guardians of the Consecrated Chalice).

Of the more "alien" members of the CMC, Hive Queen Kup'Hq-Xirk has had seemingly peaceful dealings with a handful of other Master Hives, while the Kiett'abannot Gathering appears to be completely isolated from other Lekgolo, as many such Swarmworlds are wont to be. Some pirate ships have been recorded landing on Kiett'abannot, but the ships or their crews have not been heard of since.

As part of their pact with the Swords, they must also adhere to Thel's no-go list and not be found assisting factions at war with the Arbiter or his other allies. As a member of the Arbiter's coalition, the Conflux is officially at war with Jul 'Mdama's Covenant - much like several dozen similar groups who have pledged allegiance to the Arbiter. On the other hand, the Conflux is a small fish in a very large pond and 'Mdama is too pragmatic to focus on them when he has a war with the SoS to win; at most they may sometimes come to blows when they meet. Meanwhile, the Banished are largely a non-factor to the Conflux, as most of their activity is centered on the far sides of the Covenant Empire and the Conflux has few resources of great military value. However, the Chikri-Merkaa Strand is located near the Ikket'hai Bloc, a more unstable region where more hostile and militant factions have a stronger foothold and chaos reigns. Were the delicate balance of power in that region change, the turbulence of Ikket'hai may expand outward and the Conflux may well be caught in more trouble than it can handle.

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.
 
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* 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.
 

MILITARY

The Conflux is not particularly significant militarily. Their ground forces are by and large well-organized and well-equipped, but their fleet elements remain lacking. The primary element of the Conflux's military are the patrolling legions which police the Chikri-Merkaa Strand and protect Conflux worlds and trade convoys from threat; they are largely drawn from the region's extant colonial garrisons. Besides them, most of the member states field some form of militias of their own. Like the Covenant, the CMC does not distinguish between military branches the way most human polities do, and on some occasions the difference between civilian and military organizations is not fully clear especially in regards to the Sangheili.

The Conflux maintains a relatively small expeditionary fighting force and special tasks unit known as the Foremost Legion, to which only the most elite are chosen. Foremost Legion teams are small, flexible in terms of species and role makeup and are often formed on an ad hoc basis. They represent the tip of the spear of the Conflux's warfighting capability and are equipped accordingly.

Beyond what is necessary for their colonial defense corps training, the Conflux possesses little pre-existing high-level training infrastructure such as war colleges; the development of such is still under way under the leadership of Sangheili and select Kig-Yar veterans. High-level officer training is provided in an arrangement with the war-academies of the Shikran Moons in the neighboring Golden Compact and some warriors have even studied in the Swords of Sanghelios proper.

The overall commander of the Conflux's military forces is Supreme Commander (formerly Fleet Master) Skortak 'Huozinam, a veteran of the human war, though he would rather not be. Their garrison legions are led by General Kora 'Zamam, who merely resumed his old post, having been in charge of the Covenant's local garrisons for decades. The Foremost Legion is led by veteran Skirmisher Commando Zhik Shin.


AESTHETICS

The Conflux's symbol and banner are a variation upon the original emblem of the Chikri-Merkaa Trade Alliance, itself styled after a variation of the Har Tanqi school of Covenant calligraphy, which is predominant in the Chikri-Merkaa region and remains popular in other aspects of their heraldry as well. Stylistically, their aesthetics have changed little since the Covenant. Most of the Conflux's artisans favor elegant, minimalist and smooth forms, although they also introduce more sharp angles and lines for contrast than the Covenant mainstream, and in some cases their designs appear more sleek and delicate than the bulbous forms used by the Covenant. In comparison to the Covenant, the Conflux also uses more varied color schemes and apply more decoration on their vehicles and structures.

The Conflux's signature colors are the light steel blue, blue-turquoise and a darker blue-purple of the old Chikri-Merkaa Trade Alliance. Gold and silver are used in decorative elements as well as to indicate rank or status as in the Covenant, but are rarely used as a primary armor color, and grays, blue-grays and purple-grays are quite common in architecture. Their primary colors are typically light, opalescent pastel hues of purple, green and blue favored by the artisans and builders of the Chikri-Merkaa Strand. Conflux vessels of war use light blue and purple exterior lighting.

A gamut of blues and greens is used to indicate rank in the ground forces; vehicles and other equipment are usually some variety of turquoise or light blue with parts adorned in purples and pinks. Ground troops from the clans of Amarathine Resplendence often choose to represent the color of their homeworld (literally, in their case), a radiant burgundy red, alongside the mainstream Conflux colors; their ships, such as the CCS cruiser Amaranthine, also bear markings of that color. Meanwhile, the primary world-color of Glorious Proclamation is an emerald green, though the local Sangheili mostly use it in civilian applications. The colors of Radiant Zenith are ice blue and pink, which are often represented in Conflux equipment.


I originally meant to include this in the description of this submission, but since DA's submission system is apparently stuck in 2004 and doesn't let me submit more than 64kb's worth of text in a submission description, let's do this the hard way. I actually had more text written up for the military in particular but that'll have to wait for a future submission since I hit the limit even in the Sta.sh writer app. In any event, I just want to have the info out somewhere.

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).

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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).

The basic pitch of the CMC is basically what if a group of ex-Covenant essentially continued business as usual -- albeit with some (more or less positive) reforms due to the lack of the Covenant to enforce a caste system, religion or holy wars. Also, we almost never see their civilian life or how they go about things like trade, yet the few glimpses we do have imply such things exist. For what we see of the Covenant, one is confronted with questions like where are their versions of Ilium? Or Corellia? Or Omega? Their empire was vast and ancient, so you'd be bound to have many flourishing centers of trade and culture aside from just High Charity. Additionally, the Yanme'e are one of the oldest species in the Covenant, yet we don't really see them around that much -- even though realistically they'd be everywhere doing technical-related stuff. It's a bit hard because there's so little to go on in the canon and so many holes to patch up, but then it gives one more creative freedom.

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.

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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.

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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.

The Guardians of the Consecrated Chalice: Intelligence gathered by ONI indicates that the so-called "Chalice" is a semi-sentient Forerunner pico-assembler vat. While little more than a household appliance by Forerunner standards, the vat has allowed its current owners -- Shipmistress Rish Jin and her crew -- to construct an impressive array of exotic contraptions, though nothing large enough to make them anything more prominent than another warband with a religious bent. The founding moment of the Guardians is when the "Miracle of the Consecrated Chalice" saved Shipmistress Jin and her crew in the darkest hours of High Charity's fall, and it was also the moment of her rapturous conversion into her personal brand of Forerunner worship. Initiation rites into the group include humbling oneself before the Chalice and receiving a personal gift in return -- often a weapon or some other gadget.

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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.

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Also check out my map of the wider context of the Siakar Expanse and the factions there: Siakar Expanse astropolitical map

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:iconsomekindaspy:
SomeKindaSpy Featured By Owner May 15, 2019
Having read the comments as well, I gotta say I'm extremely thankful for what you guys have been writing about in the Halo universe. I completely agree that the Covenant deserved far more love than just (as one of the comments put it) "aliens to shoot at". The entirety of the Covenant itself is woefully under-developed in Halo canon. I'm seriously not a fan of 343's take on things, but at the same time, Bungie itself should've gone into this much detail as well. Thank you again, and I'd love to read and see more of what you have in store. You perfectly capture the Covenant's aesthetic, in my opinion. <3
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner 19 hours ago  Student Digital Artist
Thank you! Comments like these are why I keep working on this project. Even though the subject matter seems crazy niche and kind of overwhelming in scale, there's always people who appreciate it. And I do agree that the Covenant has never really gotten due attention, though I suppose the need for that only increases with time. In the beginning it was maybe excusable that there wasn't so much lore for things that were, back then, mostly in the background, but now, almost 20 years later, it's really starting to show as a strange blind spot.
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:iconsomekindaspy:
SomeKindaSpy Featured By Owner 16 hours ago
Oh my god, 100% agreed on that! They just seem super lazy in that regard and it's such a crime and shame. And yes, I actually think you're one of the only few on Deviantart who actually perfectly capture the feel of the Covenant, imho. Love your stuff, and super excited to see your stuff! Heart 
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:iconzezia333:
zezia333 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018

"If you'll pardon the rant, [REDACTED]'s postbellum psychosis didn't do a lot of good for our greater reconnaissance capacity. While she had her underlings running relative handfuls of guns to cultists and chasing single warships we had entire fleets dropping off our radar, and that's just the fleets we had tabs on. I don't think she understood even then, after 27 years, that we were dealing with a 3000+ year old starfaring civilization that has carved itself a comfortably large chunk of the Orion Arm rather than another trigger-happy colony. (Then again, she didn't understand much of anything anymore at that point -- those stims had really taken their toll.) Thank God SURGEON had the temerity to pull the plug on that little grain experiment of hers, or we'd suddenly have had a few thousand colonies' worth of angry aliens ready to finish the job of burning us to the ground, rather than just some of them."

God that was pure catharsis to read. I'm glad to see people recognize the bullshit that was Glasslands.
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2018  Student Digital Artist
Hah, I'm kind of glad someone picked up on that bit. And yeah, I'll never cease being salty about KT's post-war worldbuilding.
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:iconzezia333:
zezia333 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2018
Also, quick question I have regarding about UNSC slipspace tech.

"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.
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2018  Student Digital Artist

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.

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:iconzezia333:
zezia333 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2018
Thx for the quick reply. So I'm guessing these advancements have not reached civilians yet?
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2018  Student Digital Artist
There's no official word that I know of, but I would assume not.
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:icongalatteus:
Galatteus Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2017
Man... I have to thank you deeply for this. For me, you (and Stellar State Logic) are my most important Halo fanon heroes. Not only you have a great artistic talent, but you have the imagination of a world-builder. This is fantastic.

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.
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Edited Aug 15, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Thank you, and I'm glad that you enjoy my work! Feedback like this keeps me doing what I'm doing.

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.

And yes, the idea that the UNSC somehow bounces back to become "the giants" near-instantly is a glaring issue to me, which is why I've been trying to ignore or sidestep it with my fan lore. It's lazy, it's contrived, and kind of low-brow. I like science fiction because it has the capacity to humble you or put things into perspective, not for self-serving wish-fulfillment. And anyone who's taken a look at my gallery should know that I actually like Halo humanity, just not the way they've been presented post-war.

I actually just recently made some calculations and ended up with the conclusion that assuming a similar colonization rate as humanity between 2360 and 2490 (approx. 6 colonies/year, based on the 800 colonies by 2490 figure, though that count includes minor outposts as well), the Covenant could easily encompass about 20,000 worlds -- and that's not accounting for the exponential growth factor caused by colonies seeding more colonies. Even with very conservative estimates we still end up with thousands of worlds, and many of those would already be thousands of years old and highly developed by the 26th century. So it kind of bothers me how empty the ex-Covenant Empire feels, with most activity centered on the homeworlds and everywhere else being kind of underdeveloped backwaters, which is something I wanted to remedy with my fan lore.

I look forward to hearing from you. Take all the time you need; I still have a few commissions queued up at the moment anyway.
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:iconcannonfodder14:
cannonfodder14 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2017
I really liked this look into this side faction. This would be a great faction and setting to write a good few stories in.
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Thanks. I plan on involving the CMC in my future art and writing and I have a number of Conflux-based characters in the works.
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:iconcannonfodder14:
cannonfodder14 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2017
:)
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:iconrl-182:
RL-182 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2017
It took about twenty minutes, but I did read this thing the whole way through!

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.
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:iconthe-chronothaur:
The-Chronothaur Featured By Owner Edited Aug 14, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Thank you; it's much appreciated that you'd take the effort of reading it.

I'm glad if I succeeded at portraying a different side to the Covenant. I didn't want to stray too far from canon but I wanted to put my own spin on things to show that an empire as expansive as the Covenant wouldn't be totally one-note in terms of culture or ideas, as well as add some layers of history that hint at just how old the Covenant was as a civilization.

I've been kind of bothered at how so many of these post-Covenant factions (other than the Swords) are so one-note; they're mostly just excuses to continue the Human-Covenant War with little in the way of actual goals other than "humans suck grr". It's a bit odd that so much of the ex-Covenant would devote all their time and energy to wiping out humans when they should have other things to worry about. Realistically you'd have a lot of them just minding their own business, and probably trying their best to continue whatever they were doing before in terms of trade and such.

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.
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