San 'Shyuum (Perfidia vermis)
7'3", (221 cm)
200 lb (91 kg)
Long necks, humanoid features
|Military and political information|
Gravity Thrones, Gravity Belt
- "Who would doubt the Prophets? What have we foretold that has not come to pass"?
San 'Shyuum (Latin: Perfidia Vermis, meaning "Worms of Treachery"), also known as Prophets by the Humans, are a mammal-like species who are the leadership caste within the Covenant and one of the more mysterious member races of the hegemony. Prophets appear to exert complete control over religious and political affairs, fulfilling their role as leaders. The Prophets enforce a misguided theology based on the false belief that firing the Halo Array will start the Great Journey, transcending them into a god-like status. Although physically frail compared to other Covenant species, they wield near absolute power over the Covenant. They have a strong religious importance throughout the Covenant Hierarchy.
Originating from Janjur Qom, the San'Shyuum are the religious leaders and commanding caste of the Covenant hierarchy. They hold a vital position in the Covenant because they are responsible for studying the holy Forerunner artifacts and using them to develop new technologies, and also because they keep order in the Covenant. They are an integral part of the Covenant High Council, formerly sharing this responsibility with the Sangheili and later the Jiralhanae. At any given time, the covenant is headed by a triumvirate of Prophets. The Prophet triumvirates known in recent years were Obligation, Tolerance and Restraint, and most recently Truth, Mercy and Regret, all of whom are now deceased. Regret was killed by John-117 on Delta Halo, Mercy by the Flood on High Charity, and Truth by Thel 'Vadam in the lon range beacon on the Ark.
Prophets are extremely frail, possibly due to being adapted for a low-gravity environment, or due to age, or a combination of both. Inbreeding and a lack of concern for physical health, perhaps superseded by the single-minded desire to achieve "trans-sentience" (Also known as the "Great Journey"), is probably responsible for this outcome.
It is known that they claim to have evolved on a former colony of an ancient race called the Forerunners which the Covenant revere as their gods. Prophets derive their legitimacy as leaders as well as their colloquial names from this connection. According to the Prophets their world was destroyed some 3200 years ago (approx. 648 BCE) as the result of a natural stellar collapse; and because of this they have since elected to make their home on the mobile-planetoid High Charity. It is also known that they waged a fierce and bloody war against the Sangheili at some point, halted only by their realization that war would never come to an end. The two races united to learn their secrets, forming a mutually beneficial arrangement that would eventually become the Covenant, although they usually see themselves above the Elites. The Elites would become the protectors of the Prophets while the Prophets would dedicate themselves to studying their "gods" and learning the secrets behind the "ascension" they left on. As the representatives of the gods, the Prophets hold a great amount of power over the other races of the Covenant, earning reverential titles such as "Holy One" and "Eminence". They are protected at all times by the mighty Legions of Elite Honor Guards, and rarely involve themselves in combat, preferring to dedicate themselves to studying Forerunner artifacts. However, important events to the Covenant usually require a high-ranking Prophet, such as a Hierarch, to be present.
The majority of the Prophets use anti-gravity belts to support themselves. Higher ranking Prophets, such as the Hierarchs (a group of three Prophets with total control of the Covenant), use anti-gravity thrones to support themselves. These however, are not so much for support as they are for personal defense - they are fitted with holographic emitters, an energy shield generator, a teleportation device, and a built-in Gravity Cannon. In the event of assassins getting past their guards, they are able to defend themselves quite well with the Gravity Cannon.
Since the activation of the Halo Array, the Prophet's numbers have been dwindling, with the destruction of their original homeworld 3200 years before the events of 2552 likely contributing. At the time of Halo 2, there were only 23,831,463 Prophets existing. After the Flood invasion of High Charity, their new "Home World," the majority of their species was consumed, leaving less than a thousand alive. Most were doomed by the Elite's quarantine of Delta Halo and the rest of the Covenant fleet. Where the rest of the races have one entry for population, the Prophets have two: Their current population, and one noted as "At time of Reseeding", exactly 500,000,000.
Anatomy and PhysiologyEdit
While little is known of the San 'Shyuum homeworld, it is known that its gravity was quite lower than Earth's. Because of this, and their status of political figureheads who perform little physical work, most Prophets are physically frail creatures, preferring to move around using anti-gravity technology. A life of physical inactivity leaves most if not all Prophets withered and weak. They are capable of moving unaided, however: the Prophet of Truth is seen walking for a short amount of time, as well as firing a Jiralhanae Spiker using one hand, suggesting that they have relatively high arm strength. UNSC Marines require two hands to fire it, despite their physical dominance to the San 'Shyuum. During the time of the Human-San 'Shyuum alliance, younger San 'Shyuum were considered to be physically attractive beings by Forerunner standards, as well as capable warriors.
Each Prophet has distinct, often fur-covered lobes of skin hanging underneath their chin similar to a beard, known as "wattles". Prophets of greater age, for example the High Prophet of Mercy, have skin lobes on either side of their heads reminiscent of ears; despite this resemblance, the San 'Shyuum actually receive sound at the back of the head. Older Prophets, such as the Prophet of Mercy, appear to lose the pigment in their skin as they age and turn a shade of grey, then white. Prophets have three digits on each hand, and are usually found wearing ornamental pieces that may also double as life support systems. These head-pieces bear a holographic representation of a Halo (indicating that the Covenant have known about the Halo rings for much longer than originally thought), but each is uniquely shaped and highly ornamental. However Prophet Councilors have been seen wearing more functional robes that lack any ornamentation whatsoever. These Prophets have a lower status and, as a result, wear simple robes and can be found on the seating above the Council Chamber accompanying Sangheili Councilors. Prophets also seem to have parts of their brain showing through absences of skin on their heads, while skin is still there, it may be possible that they evolved to allow their brain to grow to such a size that the skin is there simply to hold it in place.
The lifespan of a Prophet appears to be extensive, largely through the development of technologies to increase it. Such a process began in about 1552. The San 'Shyuum have put considerable effort into the increase of lifespan of their own species, as more than a quarter of their population are now super-bicentenarians.
Little is known about the culture of the San 'Shyuum. In an unknown time, before the Covenant was formed, a thousand or so pro-technology Prophets called Reformists (who believed in using Forerunner technology for their use and wished to explore the Dreadnought) left their homeworld, leaving the anti-tech Stoics (those who only wished to worship the technology and not explore the Dreadnought) stranded. The resulting calamity meant that the Covenant San 'Shyuum population was reduced to a few thousand, forcing the species to carefully manage their gene pool to prevent the loss of beneficial genes and the introduction of undesirable traits, with individuals possessing negative recessive traits placed in the Roll of Celibates to prevent their breeding. The Prophet of Truth is on such a list. However, if they should have such sexual urges, the Prophets will use concubines. If such a pregnancy should occur, however, they must be aborted, or the children will be killed at birth and the father sterilized.
It is known that the fertility cycles of female San 'Shyuum are short and few and far between, which would make it difficult for San 'Shyuum to have children. As a result, they would have a celebration called a Birthing Period when a child was conceived, which was very uncommon.
With regards to naming practices, each San 'Shyuum has a given name and a family name. However, once they rise to a certain level in the bureaucracy, they prefer to be addressed by their title. Upon their ascension, Hierarchs may select a regal name from a list of former High Prophets. For example, the Prophet Hod Rumnt is always addressed by his titles, such as Philologist or his regal name, the Prophet of Mercy.
Human-San 'Shyuum allianceEdit
Sometime around 110,000 B.C. the San 'Shyuum were part of an alliance with the Humans' empire, forming a major power in the Orion Arm of the galaxy. During this period, they encountered the Flood for the first time, but the spread of the infection was successfully pushed back by their human allies while it was still relatively minor. The empire later collapsed when the San 'Shyuum surrendered during the Human-Forerunner war.
Abandoning their hedonistic life styles for guidance under religious elders, the San 'Shyuum were allowed to colonize one other world but were kept in quarantine under the Confirmer and the Deep Reverence. But as the Confirmer grew lax in his duties, the San 'Shyuum began stockpiling weapons.
During the Forerunner-Flood War, the Librarian visited Janjur Qom to secure specimens of San 'Shyuum for preservation from the Halo Array. The San 'Shyuum elders correctly guessed that a catastrophe was imminent, and launched a short-lived uprising against their Forerunner overseers. All San 'Shyuum on the planet were subsequently killed when a Halo was fired on a low power setting nearby.
The Ark and reseedingEdit
The San'Shyuum would be reseeded on their homeworld following the firing of the Halo Array. Having lost nearly all memory of the Forerunners, they discovered Forerunner technology on their homeworld and based their religion around the artifacts they found.
Sangheili-San 'Shyuum WarEdit
The war between the Sangheili and the San 'Shyuum began soon after their first encounter in 938 B.C.E.. Sangheili believed that Forerunner technology should not be touched or used for personal gain while most of the San 'Shyuum believed otherwise, and disassembled Forerunner relics to produce their own versions. Their first meeting resulted in a bloody engagement. Physically the Sangheili were far superior. One Sangheili warrior was the equal to at least ten San 'Shyuum. However, technologically, the San 'Shyuum had the advantage: they had the Forerunner Dreadnought which proceeded to wipe out the Sangheili armada using hit-and-run tactics. Eventually in 852 B.C.E., in order to ensure the survival of both races, the Sangheili gave up their own conviction, and the two races merged to form the early Covenant with the San 'Shyuum as the head religious leaders and the Sangheili as the physical backbone and defenders of the Prophets.
Fall of High CharityEdit
With the outbreak of the Flood and its subsequent arrival on the holy city High Charity, the San 'Shyuum will have had two extinction events visited upon them within a single great cycle. Only those individuals who were permanently posted somewhere other than their ersatz homeworld are certain to have survived. Even those who held some position within the Covenant fleet have no hope for survival, as the entire fleet was present at Installation 05 and the Sangheili quarantined it. This is also impacted by many Elites killing the San 'Shyuum in an act of vengeance and/or honor. Their current total population is now estimated at less than one thousand. It is likely that the number of Flood Prophet forms are drastically higher as a result of the Flood outbreak.
Little is known about what happened to the San 'Shyuum after the Human-Covenant war, but according to a Sangheili Shipmaster, the Prophets "vanished". The Sangheili had heard rumors that the San 'Shyuum went on the Great Journey, but disregarded them. Most likely the few remaining survivors went into hiding or simply died out.