The Arbiter, Thel 'Vadam, is a protagonist in the Halo series that debuted in Halo 2 as the surprising second playable character. He returns in Halo 3 as a playable character only during cooperative campaign play, as the playable character of player two. When the Arbiter is first playable in Halo 2 it marks the first occasion that the player plays as someone other than the Master Chief. This level is simply titled The Arbiter, from then on the game constantly switches the perspective between the Arbiter and the Chief. 'Vadam's predecessor as Arbiter, Ripa 'Moramee, makes an appearance in Halo Wars, which is a prequel.
History of the Arbiter
"The tasks you must undertake as the Arbiter are perilous; suicidal. You will die, as each Arbiter has before you. The Council will have their corpse." - Prophet of Mercy
The special rank of the Arbiter is the highest possible honour that can be bestowed upon an Elite by the Prophets. One is usually only appointed in times of dire need, acting as the "will of the Prophets". His missions usually involve taking extreme risks and facing overwhelming adversities, as such he is practically expected to die completing his mission. By doing so, he becomes another martyr for the Covenant as they continue their path to the Great Journey. In addition to being the will of the prophets, the Arbiter is viewed by the covenant populace as a sign of hope and as a saviour. There have been approximately 192 arbiters in service before the current Arbiter came to be. As the Prophet of Truth puts it, the Covenant would have broken up a long time ago were it not for the efforts of the Arbiters. They were instrumental in quelling the vaguely defined Grunt rebellion and the taming of the Hunters.
The current Arbiter was the previous Supreme Commander of The Fleet of Particular Justice and his responsibilities included defending Halo. However, after the Master Chief destroyed it during Halo: Combat Evolved, he was stripped of his rank, branded a heretic, and condemned to execution. However, the Prophets gave him a chance to regain his honour by donning the armour of the Arbiter. The ancient armour worn by the Arbiter is seen as a symbol of the rank, and as such has not been upgraded with the passage of time. Due to that his armour is slightly inferior to the current Covenant Elite armour, although it has been outfitted with a modern energy shield emitter. This is noted by Rtas 'Vadum at the start of one of the levels in Halo 2 as he remarks,"Be careful Arbiter, your armour's system is not as... new as ours."
Mausoleum of the Arbiter
"Here rests the vanguard of the Great Journey. Every arbiter, from first to last. Each one created and consumed in times of extraordinary crisis" - Prophet of Truth
The Mausoleum is a huge room that houses the remains of the previous arbiters found within the Covenant mobile capital city High Charity. A total of 182 caskets can be found, spreading all the way up to the ceiling. These caskets are thought to house the remains of the arbiters that have come before the current one. It is also worth noting that the armour of the arbiter is made specifically for an Elite's physiology. The Mausoleum can be viewed in Halo 3 from a distance due to the Flood infestation of the city opening “windows” in the various buildings. The Mausoleum was destroyed along with the rest of High Charity when the Master Chief destroyed the reactor that provided power to the city, in an attempt to destroy the Gravemind once and for all.
"You are the Arbiter, the will of the prophets, but these are my elites...their lives matter to me, yours does not" - Rtas vadumee
Thel' Vadamee was the commander of the fleet of particular justice and was in charge of defending Halo, a task he failed when the Master Chief destroyed it. As his punishment, the high prophet truth made him the Arbiter; the will of the prophets. In Halo 2, the game's story is partly driven by the Arbiter as he is tasked with completing important missions for the Covenant High Council. The Prophets' first mission for the Arbiter is to put down a group of heretics that were instigating a revolt against the leadership of the Covenant. Upon completion of the mission, the Arbiter also makes an surprise discovery and recovers the " Oracle", known to humans as 343 Guilty Spark.
During his absence it is revealed that, due to the Elite honour guard being unable to protect the Prophet of Regret from the Master Chief, the Elites have lost their privileges and rank, and the Brutes are seen replacing them. The Arbiter is told that this is purely a political move and is urged to concentrate on his next mission; to recover the Sacred Icon (actually the Index, the activation key to the Halo array) so that the newly discovered Delta Halo can be fired, beginning the Great Journey.
The Arbiter deploys to the surface and after a tough fight against the Flood is able to reach the Library. There he faces Sergeant Avery Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes and is successfully able to ambush them and take the Icon. He is subsequently betrayed by Tartarus on the Prophets' orders as soon as he hands over the Index. Tarturus throws the Arbiter over a ledge with his gravity hammer, and the Elite warrior falls into a large body of water, his limp body quickly being recovered by the Gravemind which had done the same thing with the Chief after he assassinated Regret.
There it reveals to the Arbiter that activating the Halo array would actually wipe out all life in the galaxy. It assigns the Arbiter and the Chief separate missions and teleports the Arbiter to the location of the Elite council who are in the process of being murdered by the Brutes. Enraged by the Prophets' betrayal, he leads an uprising against them (starting by dropping the "ee" suffix from the end of his name, as it signifies military service to the Covenant) and with the help of Johnson and a friend named Rtas 'Vadum he is able to disrupt the firing of Halo and rescue Miranda Keyes.
In Halo 3, Thel 'Vadam is the figure of hope who leads the Covenant Separatist movement that aids humanity against the Covenant Loyalists. Although the Master Chief takes centre stage during the entire single-player campaign, the Arbiter still plays an important role, and is playable in co-operative play as player 2. The Arbiter follows the Chief into the Ark in stopping the Loyalists and Prophet of Truth as well as destroy an incomplete Installation 04. Both Master Chief and the Arbiter narrowly escapes the installation control room to the ship Forward Unto Dawn with the Arbiter arriving on Earth with half of the ship after the slipspace jump. After participating the memorial ceremony for the fallen soldiers of the conflict, Thel' and the remaining Elites return to their home planet.
In 2558 Arbiter is at war with the remains of the Covenant, led by Jul 'Mdama he is in Command of the Sword of Sangheilios, also with a grand council of Kaidons, effectively the world government of Sangheilios. Thel wants more for his people, and he believes that the Sangheili would not survive another war with the humans in their current state, and he wants the to reclaim their self sufficiency lost while being within the Covenant.
In Halo 5 Thel is helping Spartan Locke and fireteam Osiris find the Master Chief who has gone Awal with Blue team for as of yet unknown reasons.
Physical Description Thel' Vadam
- Home World: Sanghelios
- Height: 7'11/ 400lbs
- Species: Sangheili
- Eye color: Amber
- Age 73