- Latin Species Name:
- Servus ferox
- Technology level:
- Native Tier 4/Adopted Tier 2
- Avg. Height Range:
- 8ft 5in-9ft 2in (259-280cm)
- Avg. Weight Range:
- 1,125-1,500lbs (500-680kg)
Jiralhanae, named Brutes by humans, are a large, muscular pseudo-ursine sentient species predisposed to feral behavior. Their home planet Doisac yielded numerous predators throughout its evolutionary history, has aberrant terrestrial conditions and is roughly twice the gravity of Earth. This challenging but diverse environment forced the species to develop from fur-covered, temperamental, tree-dwelling savages into an aggressive species of pack hunters. Jiralhanae are incredibly strong and fast, with highly sensitive olfactory glands, enabling them to hunt down prey quickly even in unfamiliar environments. Without grooming, Jiralhanae become covered in a thick, matted fur which can vary in color but is most commonly brown or black. Beneath their fur is a tough, leathery skin. They have three fingers and an opposable thumb on each hand, with large cloven-toed feet bearing thick, hardened claws.
Jiralhanae are a clan-dominated patriarchal society which follows a classical dictatorship from territory to territory. Clans are the most prominent division within their culture, with larger meta-clans or ‘skeins’ forming out of an aggregation of individual groups with common interests. The most powerful clans generally dominate a given skein. The strongest male leads Jiralhanae clans, but Chieftain status can be overturned in an instant if challenged to physical combat. Females serve the role of mother and caretaker solely and are never encountered in combat.
The First Immolation
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
The loose religion Jiralhanae held was simple and based on lunar cycles (as Doisac’s three moons perpetually haunt its skyline). With their introduction to Forerunner theology, the Jiralhanae’s cultural divide between the Rh’tol and the Vheiloth reared its head yet again. The arguably more primitive Rh’tol only believed for strictly practical reasons, ultimately the result of blind subjugation to power. The more sophisticated Vheiloth have historically been far more open to new ideas than their opposites, adopted the Covenant philosophy without challenge, as it helped explain the inner-workings of a great many things. This generated a cultural friction and competitive infighting common to their kind, but for the time being, these tensions were controlled by Covenant leadership. After the Covenant’s destruction, most Jiralhanae survivors have forsaken Covenant beliefs.
The Great Schism
When the High Prophet of Truth rose to power in 2525 CE, he began to perceive cracks between the San’Shyuum and the Sangheili on how to handle the threat of humanity. Pressured by the initial deception which brought him his position, Truth developed a number of schemes that would lead to the replacement of the Sangheili by the Jiralhanae--the latter he viewed as more easily controllable. During this time, a young Jiralhanae named Tartarus, who belonged to the Rh’tol skein, caught his eye. Involved in the initial disputes with the humans, Tartarus had climbed to power by slaying his uncle and gaining authority throughout the entire skein. Truth worked with Tartarus early on throughout the Human-Covenant War, but only late in the conflict did he begin to prepare him for ascension to military authority.
In 2552 CE, Truth began to believe that the end of their campaign against the humans might be at hand. In a brazen move to solidify his base and eliminate the threat of the Sangheili, he armed and positioned Tartarus to lead the entire Jiralhanae power against their naive Sangheilian commanders in a sudden and merciless coup. The resulting conflict would be called the Great Schism, and it would divide the Covenant into two, ultimately forcing the Sangheili out. The outcome, however, would not be the one Truth had desired. A Sangheili commander known as the Arbiter would ally his kind alongside humanity and personally slay both Tartarus and the Prophet of Truth, destroying what was left of the Covenant and bringing about the collective’s dissolution.
Upon integration into the original Covenant body, the Jiralhanae held a number of positions. Some of these jobs were simply an extension of their own native, clan-based organizational structure, though it became more formalized while under the banner of the Covenant. Roles included Chieftains, Captains, Stalkers, Majors, and Minors, all splintered into a number of varieties based on skein, functional and organizational placement, and the point it appeared during Covenant history. Since the demise of the Covenant in 2552, these roles have disintegrated to some degree, with many Jiralhanae returning back to their homeworld of Doisac, though some have intriguingly chosen to maintain subservient roles with various Sangheili.
In the first, desperate days of the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC has enacted the Cole Protocol to safeguard Earth and its inner colonies from discovery by a merciless alien foe in this novel Tobias S. Buckell.
John Shirley's novel takes readers to the dawn of the Covenant and the fateful alliance between the Prophets and the Elites.