“Did you know, Arbiter, that the Elites have threatened to resign? To quit the High Council? Because of this… exchange of hats?“
“We have always been your protectors.“
“These are trying times for all of us.“
-The Prophet of Truth and the Arbiter discuss the Brutes replacing the Elites as the Honour Guard of the Prophets
The Changing of the Guard
After the Prophet of Regret was assassinated by the Master Chief during the events of the Halo 2 mission Delta Halo, the Prophet of Truth decided to take radical action, allegedly in order to protect the remaining Hierarchs from attack. This resulted in all the Elite Honour Guardsmen being replaced by Brutes in a controversial and unprecedented move.
However, the Prophet of Truth’s decision to replace the Elite Honour Guardsmen with Brutes in response to Regret’s death was more than just a precautionary measure, it was the first step in his plan to remove the Elites from the Covenant entirely and replace them with the Brutes.
The question remains, however: why would the Prophet of Truth want to replace the Elites, a loyal race of powerful warriors, with the Brutes, a race whose greatest achievement up until this point had been nuking their entire civilization back to the Stone Age?
The Great Schism
The answer lies in the Prophet of Truth’s grand plan to ensure the firing of the Halo Array, as he was certain that the Elites were never true believers and as such declared the entire race Heretics. The Prophet of Truth’s decision to do this was an early sign of his increasingly power-hungry, treacherous and unstable personality that would eventually result in the death of the Prophet of Mercy.
Truth would later order the Brutes to begin killing their Elite counterparts once the Elite Councillors were grounded on Delta Halo. During the mission Gravemind, we see first-hand the result of Truth’s treachery as High Charity is torn apart by civil war as Brutes and Elites fight each other for control of the city.
Truth’s motivations for doing this were more than just religious, he saw the Elites as a threat to his power. The Elites had powerful figureheads in the Covenant such as Rtas ‘Vadum, the Arbiter and the Councilors, and Truth sought to kill anyone who would limit his power in a bizarre religious purge.
The Prophet of Truth’s Master Plan
After the Prophet of Truth’s decision to betray the Elites resulting in a huge civil war in High Charity, the Gravemind chose the most opportune moment to attack the city with a captured Human ship filled with Flood spores. This soon resulted in High Charity being infested with the Flood, forcing Truth to flee in the Forerunner Dreadnought that powered the city.
Disconnecting the ancient ship from High Charity doomed the inhabitants to die at the hands of the Flood, and Truth’s once-mighty Covenant was reduced to a handful of carriers and cruisers. This last fleet fled to Earth in a last-ditch attempt to find the Ark, and the remaining Elites followed close behind. Unfortunately for Truth, the remaining Human forces on Earth, including Miranda Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, Lord Hood, the Arbiter, the Master Chief, and of course the legendary Chips Dubbo were able to repel his forces long enough for the Elites to arrive at Earth.
Although Truth was able to flee to the Ark, the Elites were close behind, and as soon as they arrived the Elite fleet were able to make short work of the Brute fleet whilst the Master Chief and the Arbiter destroyed Truth’s forces on the ground. By the time the Prophet of Truth got round to firing the rings, the last of his fleet and the final two Scarabs of the Covenant had already been reduced to scrap metal.
The Fall of the Covenant
The Prophet of Truth’s hubris would eventually come back to haunt him, however, as his decision to betray the Elites would not only result in Humanity being saved from certain extinction by not only the Covenant but also the Flood, but it would also lead to Truth’s Brute forces being absolutely devastated by the surviving Elites during the Battle of the Ark.
During the Prophet of Truth’s final stand on the Ark during the mission The Covenant in Halo 3, he desperately attempts to fire the remaining Halo rings as the Arbiter and the Master Chief infiltrate the Citadel and finally kill the Prophet once and for all. In the end, Truth’s faith in the Brutes turns out to be poorly placed, as the Arbiter finally executes the Prophet after the Master Chief deactivates the Halo array after murdering all the Brute bodyguards.
Clearly, had Truth not ordered the Brutes to remove the Elites from the Covenant, Humanity would have lost a powerful ally and Truth wouldn’t have had to worry about a civil war, the war with Humanity and the war with the Flood. Truth’s decision to betray his allies inevitably causing him more harm than good, as it not only lost him the Holy City of High Charity but also the Covenant itself.
Despite the death of the Prophet of Truth, the Covenant did survive, albeit in a fractured form that was a hollow shell for its former self. Warlords like Jul ‘Mdama began to seize Covenant assets like backwater defence fleets, outdated weapons and mothballed vehicles in order to continue the Covenant’s crusade against Humanity.
This inevitably led to the conflict between the Elites and the Brutes taking on a new form, as there was now also a civil war between the Elites loyal to the Covenant, led by Jul ‘Mdama and other warlords, and the Elites that followed the Arbiter and were allied with Humanity, called the Swords of Sanghelios.
In Halo 5: Guardians, Spartan Locke is able to finally put Jul ‘Mdama down and help the Arbiter to remove the Covenant’s final stronghold on Sanghelios, freeing the Elites from Covenant influence. However, the Covenant undoubtedly survives in some form or another, because as long as one faithful believer survives, the Covenant survives, and although the main enemy in Halo: Infinite seems to be the Banished, there is no doubt that Halo fans have not seen the last of the Covenant, despite the Prophet of Truth’s inability to hold the Empire together.