The Sangheili, better known as the Elites, are an alien race that was part of the Covenant for thousands of years, and serve as arguably the most dangerous foes in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. They are a cunning and brave foe and, as such, they are a very difficult enemy to overcome. They match the Master Chief and the other Spartans in physical characteristics and are bound by a strict sense of honour; they served as the field commanders of the Covenant ground forces and also held key positions throughout the Covenant Navy. They were once the mortal enemies of the Prophets until they were united in their worship of the Forerunners, leading to the start of the Covenant. For millenia, they fought alongside the Prophets as their protectors and enforcers. However, during Halo 2 they were cast out of the Covenant, and joined by the Grunts and Hunters, who fought against the rest of the Covenant and in particular the Prophet of Truth for his betrayal.
On average, Elites are about 8'6" tall standing at full height (though the overwhelming majority of the time they are hunched over) and are much stronger than an average human. Their strength is roughly equal to that of a Spartan in full MJOLNIR armour. Elites are a proud race, intelligent and utterly unmatched in the art of war. Elites are extremely dexterous, as they are able to wield just about any weapon whether it be Covenant or Human made. They have a lean and muscular body structure and they weigh in at around 325 Kilos. They have lean, powerfully built limbs and a torso with a long hunched neck. Their mouths consist of four mandibles with a throat-hole in the back. These are lined with sharp teeth, suggesting that they might have been a race that relied on capturing prey. Their skin is somewhat reptilian, as it is very leathery in nature, and their colour can vary from black to grey. Unlike human eyes, their eye colours can include variants such as dark red and, in some cases yellow but for the most part it is either blue or green. They have multiple sets of internal organs, namely two hearts, and look to have a double set of pectoral muscles. Like Spartans, they too wear armour with its own personal shields; however, unlike Spartan armour, it does not increase their speed or strength. The MJOLNIR energy shields were reverse engineered by humans from the hand-held shields used by Covenant Jackals; thanks to human tinkering, Spartan shields are actually slightly superior to those of the Elites, and it is considered imperative that the Covenant not get their hands on MJOLNIR armour, lest they use those improvements to give their soldiers even more of an edge over their human enemies. Like the Human Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, Elites have their own special mode of deployment, in the form of drop pods that vaguely resemble coffins.
Despite a skin with a reptilian sheen and mandibles, the movements, musculature and grace of Elites are comparable to that of large jungle cats, such as tigers or jaguars. This can be seen in their long stride and leaping ability.
Elites are an Aristocratic race, putting family accomplishments, wealth, and success above almost anything else, honour is above all to an Elite, and because of this Elites are extremely disciplined and regimented, their society insures that only the strongest survive. Every Elite in trained in war, from a lowly weapon smith to a female raising her young, nearly every Elite is strong, capable, and skilled in the arts of armed, and unarmed combat. Since the great schism and separation from the Covenant an over emphasis on military strength, and reliance on the other races within the old Covenant has left the Elites in dire need of scientists, Doctors, Engineers, and farmers, these are seen as roles within Elite society lacking honour or glory by some, or even frowned upon by many others, an example being that seeing a doctor is extremely dishonourable to an Elite, being seen as weakness, the weak or injured are often expected to be strong enough to survive, or simply die. Children within Elite culture are raised by their mothers and uncles, never knowing their fathers as to eliminate any pre dispositions of genetic glory or success, every Elite must earn their own way, their fathers accomplishments will not earn them any special favour or bias. Some More Forward thinking Elites have been known to question some of these practices. Jul 'Mdama is one Elite who has often questioned not being able to be a father to his sons, after the loss of his wife, 'Raia' to Humans, this became more difficult for him than ever before.
Sangheili Naming structure
Elites hold names in very high regard looking at them as a badge of honour of sorts. Their names comprise of three parts, Birth name, Sir name/state of lineage, and the "-ee-" Suffix signifying military service. The first part of the Elite name is given at birth, it often translates to something along the lines of fast, or deadly or some other form of physical or Combat prowess. The second part of an Elite name is their family name, an Example is the Vadam lineage Each lineage has it's own state on the Elite home world Sangheilios, and each Elite from that state adopts that name of their state lineage. The third part is the double E suffix at the end of their name "-ee-" this signifies service in the Covenant military, after the split from the Covenant, the Elites swore off this part of their names, an example being the current Arbiter, once known as Thel 'Vadamee, now know as Thel 'Vadam.
The rank of an Elites is determined by kills inflicted; some higher ranking elites many have killed thousands to get to their current station. These ranks include:
- Minor Domo (Blue) Elite "rookie" military class
- Major Domo (Red) Veteran Elites
- Stealth (silver/cobalt) Elites with active camo and weaker shields than normal Elites
- Ranger (jetpacks) wearing vacuum suits to fight in space, or hostile environments (Not limited to these)
- Spec ops (dark blue/black) skilled fighters, accurate shots, throw plasma Grenades often
- Honour guard (elaborate head dresses and armour) the Prophets' personal bodyguards, extremely dangerous
- Ultra (white) Carry energy swords as backup also have over shields, highly deadly, very agile, dead accurate.
- General (Gold) Commanding groups of ground forces, carry heavy weapons, and energy swords, very deadly.
- Zealot (Gold/Purple) Elites often carrying energy swords and other powerful weapons powerful, fierce fighters, can take form of Ship masters, fleet masters, and field marshals.
- Councillor (White with ornate headdress) Very high rank they are among the leaders of the Covenant, equal in power to most Prophets, second only to the three Grand Hierarchs.
Note these are the ranks encountered in the games there are more that are not seen in the games.