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 Brutes returning back to their homeworld of Doisac, though some have intriguingly chosen to maintain subservient roles with various Elites.
Recent events have propelled Brutes from their role as Covenant-occupying muscle into a role previously held by Elites: the predominant military might of the hegemony total. These aggressive, pack-minded belligerents are one of the least technologically oriented species in the Covenant. What native technologies they do bring to the hegemony are invariably martial in nature, from reasonably sophisticated chemical explosives to primitive, yet markedly reliable percussive weapons. Because of their interactions with other Covenant species, their adoption of technologies is sporadic and nonlinear.
Typical of High-G mammalian bipeds, Jiralhanae are physically powerful, sturdy, and resilient. The Human term “Brute” is technically derogatory, referring generally to feral or wild creatures of prodigious strength. In that regard, it is one of the more accurate nomenclatures used by Homo sapiens. Brutes are strong, unsophisticated, and quick to anger.
Brute social structure is primarily pack-oriented under an alpha or alpha prime. There is certainly a patriarchal scheme that is followed loosely, depending on the social, martial, and sexual success of the patriarch. Patricide is an unfortunate side effect of patriarchy. No females have been observed in military roles.
Their adoption of the Covenant religion is recent and absolute. Indeed, Jiralhanae are some of the most fanatical adherents, following Prophet doctrine to the letter and maintaining an uneasy position of subservience to Sangheili until civil unrest and political turmoil propelled them to their new status. A long history of totemistic and symbolical native religions prepared them perfectly for conversion to the Prophet/Covenant dogma. This process is still in flux, but the Jiralhanae’s quickness to fill the Sangheili vacuum and its unpredictable predilection for destructive violence make them a significant threat to Array integrity.
Little is known about these giant fur-covered aliens other than they have strength and agility comparable to that of Elites, and that their preferred weapon is different to any yet encountered in Covenant skirmishes. Their political and social status is unknown. We expect updated intelligence, soon.
The Jiralhanae, or Brutes, are a physically imposing client race of the Covenant. Discovered as a primitive species by the Prophets, they were assimilated into the high-tech Covenant culture.
Brutes are powerful, fierce and competitive. They travel in small packs, often led by Chieftains, and usually form the strongest point of any attacking Covenant ground force. Their fighting style is forceful, utilitarian, and pragmatic, so while they can drive all vehicles and use any weapon, they strongly prefer Brute designs, which rely on blunt physical force. In combat, they use battle armour for protection, in addition to their natural resistance to damage. While wearing armour they are fearless. But without it, they go berserk, and may respond with a ferocious melee charge.The Sangheili handicapped the space-faring capabilities of the Jiralhanae, disallowing them from using certain essential pieces of equipment on their starships. They also limited the number of Jiralhanae starship commanders. After the breaking of the Covenant, the Brutes were made the backbone of the Prophet’s armed forces. Brute warlords now command many self-sufficient fighting unites, operating with a total lack of respect for the lives of civilians or those they consider “lesser” races of the Covenant. Brutes consider the the Elite concept of honour to be foolish and irrelevant, and are eager to prove their status as superior warriors.
A fight sometimes requires more protection than just skin, skill and muscle. Brute armour does just that, providing light protection through composite plating. It does not add strength to its user (unlike the MJOLNIR systems or a Sangheili’s armour), but seldom does a Jiralhanae needs such enhancement; they are speedy and powerful enough to take out almost any living creature in a one-to-one fight. A group of a dozen armoured Jiralhanae can almost break through mountains.
Brute social structure is pack-orientated, led by an alpha male, or alpha prime, and all interactions between Brutes are governed by personal status, which they display through ornate armour and decoration. there is also a patriarchal scheme that is followed by loosely, depending on the social, martial and sexual success of the patriarch. Patricide is a common method for rising within the packs. No females have been observed in military roles. The Jiralhanae homeworld, Doisac, is a rocky, heavily forested planet which also contains swathes of desert and a few seas.
Relations with other Castes
After the fracturing of the Covenant, the Jiralhanae were made the backbone of the remaining Covenant armed forces. they treat all other races under their command as expendable equipment. Subordinates that fail in any aspect of their duty can expect swift and final punishment.