Toru 'Makhan (formerly Makhanee) was a Sangheili military and political leader who emerged from obscurity in the aftermath of the Human-Covenant War to command a sizeable faction known as the Imperium of Clarity. While not directly antagonistic towards either the UNSC or the Swords of Sanghelios at the start, Toru proved to be a thorn in their side nonetheless through constant political and military maneuvering that made him one of the more dangerous warlords in the post-war era.
Hailing from a poor family living aboard High Charity, Toru was noted for his determination to succeed at any cost and was already a fairly talented warrior by the time he joined the Covenant Military at the age of nineteen. He would distinguish himself multiple times in the field and would eventually succeed in joining the Covenant's Special Operations division, where his talents for both combat and strategy were more appreciated. As war broke out with mankind, Toru would participate in numerous covert missions against this new foe over the years until he earned a promotion to the rank of Ultra in 2533, joining the esteemed Ker 'Montunee's personal retinue on the battlefield. Under 'Montunee's guidance, Toru honed his abilities even further as they continued their campaigns against the humans, and would even become an adviser to the older officer, providing valuable tactical insight when needed.
It was this that helped him gain a promotion to Shipmaster years later, fighting in a number of naval engagements over the next decade with an impressive level of success. As rumours of his mentor's seditious beliefs spread, Toru betrayed 'Montunee by reporting him to the Ministry of Inquisition and personally participated in his execution. While he was formally appointed to the rank of Fleet Master after this incident, Toru was essentially exiled to a fleet on the furthest reaches of their empire, where he soon began to built up influence and connections among the races there towards the end of the war.
As the Covenant's empire fell apart, Toru kept well away from the infighting among his kind and focused on cultivating his own miniature fiefdom, eventually promoting himself to the rank of Imperial Admiral as he founded the Imperium of Clarity. This new empire would grow in size and power over the years, with Toru wielding absolute authority over multiple systems. This rapid expansion would eventually lead to a bloody war against several major factions that the Imperium's leader was determined to win at any cost.
Toru 'Makhan was born in the Covenant's capital city of High Charity in 2480. His family largely comprised of lower-class workers who despite their high standing compared to other Covenant races in the Covenant's hierarchy, did not enjoy a great deal of success. Without the money to depart the city and move to Sanghelios or another colony, the only way male members of Toru's family could leave was by joining the military. Growing up as part of a fairly tight-knit community within their district that followed few of the customs practised by more traditional Sangheili clans, he was trained to fight from an early age by his father, who had fought during the Unggoy Rebellion and other conflicts earlier in life. While informal compared to the lessons taught to the children of more affluent families, Toru quickly became adept at using melee weapons and was certainly one of the better fighters in his district by the time he entered his teen years.
It was not until he reached the age of fourteen that Toru first realised how poorly his family were treated by other Sangheili. While High Charity was indeed seen as a holy city and a site that many within the Covenant Empire travelled to on pilgrimage, a good portion of its vast populace lived in poverty. While on a trip to the upper districts with his family, Toru had encountered a few other Sangheili children visiting from their homeworld. After discovering his background they had mocked his supposedly poor lineage, prompting a brief brawl that was broken up by several nearby guards and an upper-class relative of one of the other boys. As he had badly beaten several of his opponents, Toru would have likely been imprisoned or even killed by the aristocrat were it not for the intervention of his father, who begged for his life. As a result, the other Sangheili would burn the side of his father's face with his energy sword, which was considered a mark of extreme shame for some. Forced to watch the humiliating sentence carried out, Toru was not allowed to enter the upper districts again by his family as they attempted to resume their normal lives. This incident instilled a lifelong hatred of the upper classes in Toru, who vowed to force his way up through the ranks of the Covenant to prove his worth to all those who would have mocked him.
Toru joined the military at the age of nineteen, becoming 'Toru 'Makhanee' as left High Charity for the first time to be properly trained at a camp on Saepon'kal, a Sangheili colony world on the very fringe of the Covenant Empire. While he and most other recruits had some martial prowess, it was here that they were intensely drilled by venerable warriors and turned into professional soldiers, leaning how to handle a vast array of weapons and vehicles for the first time in preparation for their deployment throughout the colonies. Toru proved to be an excellent recruit, and after displaying particular skill with the Type-51 carbine was assigned as as a marskman within his warrior crèche. After completing four months of mandatory training, they were deployed to help quell an uprising on a frontier world as their first taste of combat.
Acting as a symbol of the Covenant's ferocity towards all who would dare defy it, Toru and his comrades landed on the colony in force, seeking to completely obliterate the revolting Unggoy and to round up their leaders if possible so examples could be made of them. While like many others he had dismissed the creatures as near-harmless due to their diminutive size and low standing in the Covenant, Toru soon found the Unggoy to be more then capable as fighters and surprisingly dangerous if underestimated. What had first been thought of as a quick assault soon turned into a week-long slog through difficult terrain as they hunted down pockets of enemy resistance, Toru gunning down foes by the dozen with his trusty carbine. When the leaders were eventually found, he was surprised to find a renegade Sangheili among them. For trying to incite rebellion among the Unggoy, this individual - one from an old, famed family from Sanghelios - was taken back to High Charity by their commanders while the Unggoy were promptly executed and put through a swift, brutal show trial before his rather gory execution. Watching the proceedings from a vidscreen aboard their CCS-Class Battlecruiser, the young warrior discovered for the first time that being marked as a traitor could bring down anyone within the Covenant, no matter how powerful.
The next few years would be spent journeying across the colonies, putting down the occasional revolt or having to deal with pirates. Though Toru strove to work and fight harder than any of his comrades, he found his progress through the ranks to be agonisingly slow as other members of his warrior crèche were promoted or given better assignments. Though he had no proof, he continued to blame this on discrimination against him for his low status and began to funnel his anger into combat, where he soon abandoned his former long-range tactics in favour of getting up close and personal with foes. It was not until 2506 that he finally gained the rank of Major, and was sent to one of the Covenant's most important military installations: the Unyielding Hierophant. The massive battlestation was used to support the military's many fleets, and as a prime target for any rebels required a very large security force. Toru was placed in charge of two Lances, primarily consisting of Unggoy and Kig-Yar soldiers with several Sangheili under his command. The prestige of the position soon wore off, however, as despite his sense of duty Toru disliked how he was essentially a glorified security guard aboard a nigh-impregnable fortress.
It was not until 2517 that Toru, now a senior officer aboard the Unyielding Hierophant, got another chance for promotion. In spite of the station's defences, there had been numerous minor security breaches over the years, usually by fanatical individuals or small-time rebel groups that had gotten lucky enough to bypass the outer layers of security. So far, none had caused any major damage and had been swiftly taken care of by Toru's security force. While he was regarded as a good leader by his subordinates, he remained personally distant and had no actual friends. While undergoing a routine security sweep, he discovered an unusual set of packages that had been brought onto the station by the retinue of an elderly Sangheili holy man. While he wished to investigate further, he was denied access by the man's Honour Guard. Minutes later, they would open, releasing a swarm of feral Thanolekgolo onto the nearby populace. A fierce battle ensued as Toru led the defence, ordering multiple levels of the station to be sealed off while he and his comrades fought to exterminate the creatures. While the situation was dire, their superior weaponry was able to fend off the swarm long enough for reinforcements to arrive and cleanse the area of any infestation. As it turned out, the holy man had sought to commit martydom in the name of some obscure religious sect, and had his guards not called Toru off he may have been stopped before hundreds died in his final act. Following this incident, Toru was summoned to a nearby ORS-class Heavy Cruiser, Hymn of Sanctitude, for questioning.
While he initially feared he would be blamed for all that had occurred, Toru was met with several high-ranking members of Covenant Special Operations, who after hearing his story offered him a place amongst their ranks for his quick thinking and combat skills. Eager to escape the life of a guard, Toru accepted and was formally inducted into the SpecOps division within a year. Unlike the mainline military, where nepotism thrived and the average soldier was seen as expendable by their superiors, this group valued Toru's abilities alone and cared little for his background. While their missions were much more dangerous than those carried out by mainline Covenant forces, he relished the battles they fought in the darkest corners of their empire and took great pride in his position.
In 2522, Toru's Lance were part of an offensive against a particularly notorious Kig-Yar pirate warlord, whose brutal attacks on merchant vessels travelling past fringe worlds had marked him down for immediate execution. After discovering his base of operations on a small moon, a counter-attack was launched with the intent of eliminating him and all his potential successors in one fell swoop. While the initial infiltration went well and Toru scored a number of silent kills with his energy gauntlets on the approach to the pirate base, it turned out to be a well-laid trap as dozens of foes armed with heavy weaponry opened fire on their position. Though they were spread out and hidden by their active camouflage generators, the sheer volume of plasma fire overwhelmed most of their Lance in seconds, scattering the group immediately. Rather than retreat, Toru led a charge straight towards enemy lines and with two others was able to break through, carving a path through Unggoy and Kig-Yar pirates with sword in hand. While they were indeed successful, the losses sustained in the attempt left Toru as the only survivor as he was backed into a building and surrounded.
A lengthy standoff ensued, with a wounded Toru fending off a much larger force totally alone for nearly an hour until backup arrived in the shape of three more SpecOps groups. They quickly mopped up the remaining pirates and stormed the warlord's fortress with ease, slaying the rogue Kig-Yar before he could escape. The last survivor of his Lance, Toru was greeted by Special Operations Commander Ker 'Montunee, who had helped organise the assault. Instead of rebuking him for losing all his men, officer congratulated the younger warrior for his survival and even had him transferred into his own personal unit following the battle, which greatly surprised Toru. Over the next few months he got to know Montunee, who despite being an incredibly wealthy Aristocrat seemed to have no issues whatsoever with Sangheili of all classes and proved to be a fairly genial figure despite his position as a fierce warrior.
This proved to put a dent in Toru's lifelong view of how the upper classes behaved, especially as Montunee took him under his wing as a student of sorts the next year. In addition to new combat techniques and stratagems, Toru's commander was the first to pique his interest in the arts after discovering that he knew little of ancient Sangheili legends. While wary at first, Toru soon became friends with Ker 'Montunee as they continued their string of covert operations, finding some happiness in his life outside the military for the first time in years. As they brought down criminal syndicates, budding rebellions and pirate organisations, it seemed as though their SpecOps unit had become utterly invincible; an uncontested force within the Covenant military. However, this would all change as Toru found himself going up against his most dangerous foe yet.
In early 2525, the Covenant Empire declared war on humanity, initiating what would become a prolonged series of campaigns to eradicate their species from the galaxy. After a series of initial engagements on the colony world of Harvest, Special Operations groups were dispatched to learn more about this surprisingly resilient foe. While not as caught up in the religious fervour of fighting a holy war as some of his brothers, Toru was privately glad to be part of a conflict that would hopefully give him many opportunities for advancement. Still serving as one of Ker 'Montnee's personal unit, he first fought on the ground against human forces in 2526 during a brief engagement on a remote mining platform. While the lightly-armed security forces proved no match for the Sangheili and were quickly slaughtered, he noted that they had gone to great lengths to destroy any navigational data and were tenacious fighters despite their clear military inferiority.
As the gradual process of finding and exterminating human colonies began, Toru and his comrades found their focus switched to recovering enemy data intact, especially when it pertained to human troop movements and the location of more colony worlds. Spending months at a time living primarily aboard a modified Type-56 Lich as they operated far away from Covenant supply chains, their group would intercept and pursue any sign of human activity and signal for reinforcements from a larger fleet if need be. As such, they were often the vanguard of any larger invasion and relied heavily on their active camouflage technology to remain hidden until the time was right. Toru found this style of warfare remarkably effective and would often wonder why it was not more widely used, though it was soon explained that many higher-ranking Fleet Masters preferred the more 'honourable' tactic of overwhelming force. Montunee shared his subordinate's concerns, and in private conversation told Toru of his plans to try and use his contacts among the High Council to expand Covenant Special Operations to use the group more effectively against the humans.
It was not until June of 2532 that Toru fought against a genuinely difficult foe on the battlefield. During the Battle of Vodin, he was among six SpecOps teams moving to eliminate key military targets beneath the planet's space elevator, where an evacuation effort was in full force. Despite not holding an officer's rank, Toru was placed in charge of five others by Ker, who led another lance to destroy an anti-aircraft gun. Though their mission began without much issue and they swiftly eliminated a group of Marines guarding a supply warehouse, they received panicked transmission from another group, who had taken losses fighting a group of humans they had never encountered before. Eager to save his comrades, Toru's group moved to assist them, only to lose contact en-route. When they arrived, they discovered eight of their brothers slain in a particularly brutal fashion by a river bank, where they intended to blow up a bridge used to ferry supplies to the nearby spaceport.
As Toru surveyed the area and two other Sangheili moved ahead to check the bodies, they came under attack from multiple directions. The corpse of one warrior had been rigged with an explosive device, which incinerated one of Toru's men and disrupted the shields of the rest of his team in the blast. It was then that Toru first came face to face with an armoured soldier who killed one of his warriors in seconds and drove the survivors back towards the river. Taken aback by the ambush, Toru fled as a grenade exploded nearby, knocking the Sangheili into the nearby river. While his armour was scorched and dented and he bled from several minor injuries, he was able to survive as he was swept away by the current and dragged himself out of the river after almost three miles. Contacting Ker's team, he explained his situation and was rescued by a passing Phantom. While he had been soundly defeated in battle - a humiliating experience for any Sangheili - Toru was able to give a good description of his attackers, which would prove useful as a warning in the future.
Joining the Fleet
Toru remained in Special Operations until 2533, until Ker 'Montunee earned a well-deserved promotion to Shipmaster. While his experience would have landed him an officer's position within the unit, Ker had come to appreciate Toru's tactical insight and friendship and was able to offer him a place aboard his vessel as an Ultra. Instead of the covert missions he was used to, Toru would now assist Field Masters and Zealots in leading their Legions into battle. He took to his new rank with vigour, immediately seeking to boost the efficiency of troops under his command in the field utilising strategies he had devised in Special Operations. While he was occasionally criticised by more traditionalist Sangheili leaders, his rather flexible style of strategic deployment and pinpoint strikes did prove effective against the humans across numerous battlefields and worked to greatly limit the number of casualties taken. Having first-hand experience of the disregard for life that many Covenant leaders had, Toru sought to achieve the best results possible without making the same mistakes his former commanders often made.
It was not just the field that Toru distinguished himself in. Acting as Shipmaster Montunee's right hand and tactical adviser, he was present aboard the CCS-Class battlecruiser's bridge for many spaceborne engagements against the humans. While their foe's naval forces were comparatively weaker than even some of the lightest Covenant vessels, their knack for ingenuity had taken many commanders by surprise and led to some rather embarrassing defeats. Though Montunee was certainly a talented Shipmaster, he would often defer to Toru for a second opinion when making major decisions in battle and often remarked that his subordinate's tactical insight surpassed his own on occasion. His unique position led to a degree of jealousy from other officers, particularly those who held little respect for his unremarkable family background.
Following a successful mission in 2538 that saw the destruction of a larger enemy fleet by a trio of battlecruisers after Toru suggested drawing them into a trap, Ker received his long-awaited promotion to Fleet Master and immediately suggested that Toru replace him as Shipmaster. While many aboard their vessel agreed with this decision, several other high-ranking Ultras who had been vying for promotion loudly voiced their disagreement and openly accused Ker of nepotism. Fully aware that this trading of insults would likely lead to duels he could not win, Toru had his contacts secretly record a meeting between these other Sangheili as they planned to murder him and discredit Fleet Master Montunee before sending the message directly to Ker. The offending officers were harshly punished within days, allowing for a smooth transition to power for Toru. Now in command of the Stalwart Missionary, he took up his position as an integral part of their fleet at long last.
Inner Colony Campaigns
As the war dragged on into the 2540s and the Covenant continued to press further into human-held colonies, Toru was among several Shipmasters with concerns over their tactics. While the loss of thousands of Unggoy and Kig-Yar in a single battle was considered perfectly normal in wartime as replacements were plentiful, they had also lost a number of capable Sangheili leaders due to poorly thought-out strategies that lead to them being outmaneuvered and killed by supposed inferior human forces on the ground. The Battle of Psi Serpentis in 2543 was a particular shame for many veterans, as over three hundred vessels had been lost in their attempt to eliminate a much smaller fleet. While they were indeed making progress on exterminating the human race as they rooted out colony after colony, the fighting had become much fiercer and many warriors had grown tired of this ceaseless war. Though Toru enjoyed the power his position afforded him, he still looked for ways to advance further in rank.
As a Shipmaster responsible for his own warship, Toru had less contact with Ker, who now commanded over forty craft in their fleet. Though they continued to win victory after victory with fewer losses than most fleets, the young Shipmaster continued making suggestions for increased efficiency in battle and was surprised to find some of his suggestions ignored after years of having the ear of his superior. With numerous proposals brushed aside by Ker and the other Shipmasters, a feeling of resentment began to spark up inside Toru once more as he began to wonder if his supposed friend had abandoned him after so many years. As they continued their campaign into mankind's Inner Colonies, he began to scheme against his former mentor behind the older Sangheili's back.
After eight years as the Stalwart Missionary's Shipmaster, Toru had been sure to carefully select his crew from among the best and brightest he could find. Much of his off-duty hours were spent poring over service records not only of Sangheili, but of Unggoy and Kig-Yar soldiers under his command whose skills he could better use. Though their battlecruiser primarily saw combat in space, its sizeable contingent of warriors saw action on multiple worlds, most notably during the Covenant's attack on New Llanelli in 2546. Though a Legion-sized group was expected to march straight into combat with some oversight from its commanders, Toru would often manage smaller groups from afar to act as scouts or even to undertake other missions on his behalf, his Special Operations knowledge coming in handy once more as he coordinated several such missions during planetary invasions. These groups had orders to recover enemy intel at all costs and return it to the fleet for study. Due to the complete and utter hatred for humans carried by the majority of Covenant forces, these recovery groups had been few and far between during the war outside of dedicated SpecOps teams.
It was during this period that Toru redoubled his efforts to contact Ker 'Montunee, eventually organising several meetings as the fleet stopped off at resupply stations. While the Fleet Master was happy to see Toru's efforts in gathering intel, he began to privately voice his concern with the war as a whole and the justifications for exterminating mankind. Though an incredibly taboo topic within the military, Toru knew that many others had discussed this, usually far away from more religiously zealous comrades. He had also doubted the legitimacy of this war, seeing the destruction of holy relics as a fairly minor offence prompting such a genocidal conflict, though Toru participated more due to his duties as a soldier than out of any fervour for their faith. Surprised that Ker was confiding in him after years of very little contact, Toru not only agreed with some of his concerns, but encouraged him to try and find out exactly why they were truly at war with mankind after suggesting that the Hierarchs may be lying to them. While Ker was relieved to find a kindred spirit yet again in Toru, the younger Sangheili began formulating a plan to usurp his old friend's rank.
Betrayal and Exile
Ker 'Montunee: "Your loyalty is unquestionable, my friend. May it never be sullied."
Toru: "Of course. That is why I informed on you."
―Toru's last words to his mentor, moments before executing him.
Over the next year, Toru had his loyal underlings monitor Ker, transferring them to the Fleet Master's vessel under the pretence of sending him loyal, skilled recruits. Records were made of communication logs between Ker and other sympathetic Shipmasters, and as they launched new attacks on human colonies they noted how he would deliberately avoid non-military targets and even let many civilian ships escape unharmed. While this might get a Shipmaster in trouble or could be brushed off as a minor infraction, Ker 'Montunee's service history and connections made him difficult to pin down for sedition or outright betrayal of the Covenant. In late 2547f, following the Battle of Skopje, Toru finally struck gold as he was sent a private message by Ker inviting him to a meeting alongside a group of somewhat influential Shipmasters to discuss the possibility of diplomatic negotiation with the humans.
Upon receiving the date and location of this meeting, Toru immediately contacted the Ministry of Inquisition and turned over all data pertaining to Ker's rather heretical beliefs. After being told to remain aboard his vessel, a small flotilla of ships arrived and immediately took Ker and his allies into custody. Such a revelation shocked the entire fleet, which was swiftly recalled to High Charity as the prisoners were processed and the root of this conspiracy was found. While Toru feared that he too would be brought to trial, he was later thanked for reporting Ker, who during interrogation made it clear that he had not been deeply involved. Most of the others were quickly rounded up, and after nearly a week isolated aboard his own vessel Toru was called before the Covenant High Council to attend Ker 'Montunee's official trial, presided over by none other than the High Prophet of Truth.
Toru arrived in High Charity the following day and was personally escorted to the High Council chamber by members of the esteemed Lights of Sanghelios. This worried the Shipmaster, who momentarily believed that Ker had told his captors about his involvement after all. However, he was left alone after entering the room and joined a number of other high-ranking military leaders and dignitaries as the trial went on. As it turned out, many of the other conspirators had already been put to death or imprisoned; unworthy of a public spectacle like Ker 'Montunee. As he watched the early proceedings, Toru was approached by one of the Honour Guardsmen, who informed him that the venerable Fleet Master was to be executed by Toru on the orders of the Prophet of Truth himself. While he felt no regret over betraying Ker if it would fuel his own advancement at this point despite their history, he was surprised at this and knew that failure to do so would mean his own demise.
As evidence was brought forth alongside some rather suspect accusations from some former members of Ker's inner circle of his plans to betray the Covenant by attempting peaceful negotiations with humanity, it became increasingly clear that this trial was for show, as its proceedings were being broadcast across High Charity and other worlds in the Covenant's empire as a warning message for any others with visions of a peaceful resolution to the war. Eventually, to the surprise of no one, the Prophet of Truth sentenced Ker to death. Toru took his place and was handed an energy sword as the disgraced Fleet Master was shackled by nearby guards. Seeing that Ker was fully at peace with his demise and even wishing him well, Toru told his greatest friend and mentor that he had been the one to inform on him out of sheer spite moments before beheading the old warrior.
Moments after executing Ker, Toru was personally congratulated by Truth and given his long-awaited promotion to the rank of Fleet Master. Before he could truly bask in the glory of this advancement and ask about his future campaigns against the humans, the Hierarch informed him that he would be placed in command of one of the Covenant military's fringe fleets, charged with protecting the frontier of their Empire and dealing with both the protection of client races and destruction of internal threats. Unable to voice his displeasure in any way and realising that Truth likely wished to have such a power-hungry Sangheili leading their fleets, Toru accepted this new position, knowing that it was little better than exile. He remained in High Charity for a brief period afterwards, visiting his family while arrangements were made for his new command. With his high rank within the military, Toru's position had afforded his relatives a much higher living standard than he had during his childhood, giving them a comfortable life in the city's upper levels. Urging his younger nephews to not treat others like he had been treated in the past, Toru suggested that they attempt a move to Sanghelios or some other colony world, though they refused, being too used to life in High Charity.
With his brief respite over, Toru's orders soon arrived and the Fleet Master departed for the Station of Constant Sustenance, to take command of his new vessel. While he had been expecting something along the lines of a DDS-class Carrier as his flagship, Toru was surprised to discover a relatively new CSO-class supercarrier, Watchful Custodian, awaiting him at the station. Awed at the size and strength of the warship, Toru's disappointment over his reassignment soon faded as he took the helm for the first time. With a crew numbering in the thousands and control over a decently-sized if scattered fleet of thirty-two vessels, he set out towards the fringes of the Covenant Empire intent on achieving some kind of greatness that would warrant his return to the frontlines.
On the Frontier
It did not take long for Toru's awe over impressive size and power of his new command to wear off as he took up his role as Fleet Master. Aside from the Watchful Custodian, many of his fleet's vessels were significantly older than those seen on the frontlines and had not undergone any significant maintenance in years. As such, Toru made it his first priority as Fleet Master to ensure each ship was kept up to the same high standards as any Covenant military vessel. While this did provoke some grumbling from his subordinate Shipmasters, Toru's initiative did earn him the respect of many, especially since his predecessor had apparently been incredibly lax when it came to inspections and general discipline before his retirement. Within four months, Toru had notably improved the efficiency of his entire flotilla and established several new patrol routes along the frontier of the Covenant Empire.
In an effort to truly establish himself as a tough, competent leader to win over any Shipmasters who still doubted his credibility, Toru began a protracted campaign against Kig-Yar pirate outposts dotted around the furthest reachees of Covenant-controlled space and dispatching troops into crime-ridden colony worlds to clean out some of the criminal gangs that had gone ignored for too long with the military so focused on fighting humanity. While long and arduous, months of campaigning paid off as word of Fleet Admiral Makhanee struck fear into the hearts of criminals and rogues across multiple systems. Having made his mark, Toru then had the Watchful Custodian tour the homeworlds of the groups known as the Covenant fringe. Though not of enough military or economic significance to become fully integrated into the empire, these races did partake in some minor trading among colony worlds and treated the arrival of Toru's fleet with a mixture of awe and fear. Out of curiosity, he would personally visit the moon of Yonhe, and after meeting with some of the populace there would end up befriending Rak Ultin, the Shipmaster of a trading vessel that salvaged Forerunner ruins for artefacts to sell back to the Covenant. Though some believed the Yonhet to be little more than a smuggler whose actions bordered on blasphemy, Toru would end up taking Ultin on as a business partner of sorts, seeking to put he and his crewmen to work as a force for the Covenant.
Though news from the frontlines was scant, Toru was troubled to hear of the horrendous casualties being suffered by Covenant forces on the ground in spite of their still-vast technological and numerical supremacy over the humans. Though he believed their doom to be inevitable, the Fleet Master became aware of the danger many capital ships were in due to human infiltration; the arrogance of more than one Shipmaster upon hearing of boarders had lead to the loss of numerous vessels late in the war. While confident that the Watchful Custodian could weather just about anything thrown at it, he petitioned the Covenant High Council for support in the construction of a vast fortress on the sparsely-populated world of Iradu to act as a formal command centre that could keep watch over the fringe worlds. While it was dismissed by some who wished to concentrate everything on the war effort, Toru was able to negotiate with a number of San'Shyuum councillors in secret, who allocated funding and resources to the Fleet Master in exchange for first pick of any recovered Forerunner tech. While truthful in his statement that he wished to construct a proper military base to watch over their empire's outskirts, Toru put a great deal of effort into turning a significant section of the fortress into his own personal palace, stockpiling weaponry, archaeological finds and eventually, artwork.
As he knew that some would see the fortress as a vanity project, Toru began yet another tour of the fringe worlds, leaving the Yonhet Rak Ultin in charge of construction efforts as he led more pirate pacification missions. While this was mostly an empty gesture - most serious criminal organisations in the Covenant Empire having fled his sphere of influence - this would attract the attention of Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree, a beloved war hero who like Toru, had essentially been exiled to patrolling the frontier by the Hierarchs. Contacting Toru, Wattinree arranged for a meeting on Iradu to discuss military strategy, and brought a large retinue and numerous gifts as a grand feast was held for the commanders of both fleets within Toru's palace. Somewhat awestruck by the Imperial Admiral's presence, Toru believed that the venerable warrior held him in high regard as well, only to be shocked when Wattinree loudly dismissed the fortress as a waste of time and effort that could have been spent fighting. Unable to reciprocate, the humiliated Fleet Master could only make vague excuses until Wattinree finally left the planet before flying into a rage and setting out to violently pacify a distant and fairly insignificant Unggoy uprising.
Now acutely aware that some of his more high-born underlings were mocking him and rather paranoid that he might be violently replaced, Toru began to select certain Sangheili from among his fleet to act as his personal informants. Marking down those who were loyal, capable, and above all else, not from a notable lineage, they would be his eyes and ears across their growing fiefdom. Over the course of two years, he would begin to promote these individuals to positions of some significance - personal messengers, bodyguards and bridge crew - all around the Shipmasters he most suspected of disloyalty. While he could not act for fear of widespread revolt among his crew, Toru's network of loyal Sangheili would be there as a safeguard against any particularly ambitious foes.
The Great Schism
In November of 2552, shortly after a costly victory over the human world of Reach, Toru received several transmissions from other fleets regarding some kind of insurrection within the Covenant. While news was sparse at first, it seemed that the Hierarchs had begun a Jiralhanae-led genocide of the Sangheili populace, but were being met with heavy resistance. Unwilling to jump back into the fray without evidence, Toru ordered his fleet to maintain its position over Iradu until he was contacted directly by Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree himself. According to him, the San'Shyuum had betrayed the Sangheili after the death of the Prophet of Regret, but a massive Flood outbreak within High Charity itself had led to the Covenant's capital city being lost almost immediately. Strangely, Toru barely gave a thought to the almost certain demise of his entire family, seeing this tragedy as a chance for personal advancement above all else. After Wattinree requested that he bring his fleet to join with his forces above Joyous Exultation, Toru lied and stated that it would take several days to gather his forces, who were spread out across the frontier. To his surprise, the Imperial Admiral believed him and stated that they would act as soon as possible, and needed the Watchful Custodian's firepower.
Toru would ponder the Covenant's seeming downfall for some time, weighing up his chances between siding with Wattinree's forces or remaining neutral while the war against the San'Shyuum and Jiralhanae played out. After three days of indecisiveness, Toru was informed by Ultin, who had become something of a spymaster for the Fleet Master, that a group of Shipmasters had also heard of the Imperial Admiral's message and were plotting to move against him if the Fleet Master did not comply with orders. Knowing that there were those among his ranks who would not react if he were assassinated, Toru called for a meeting of his Shipmasters, bringing them to his fortress on Iradu to discuss their options in case the Covenant had truly broken. Of this group, he fully trusted about a third to follow him under any circumstances and knew that many more would simply not support him were a coup to take place. Ensuring that the Shipmasters were separated into groups prior to their convocation, Toru had the five main conspirators brought before him while he readied his bodyguards for battle. Realising too late that they had walked into a trap, Toru's opponents were backed into a corner and gunned down while the Fleet Master watched, aware that he could not turn back from his present course.
With his rivals taken care of, Toru had his men bring their corpses before the meeting of Shipmasters to serve as a warning to others, informing his subordinates that the five Sangheili sought glory and personal gain and would have risked their fleet by rushing into battle without proper intelligence. While most sided with Toru, some believed that Xytan 'Jar Wattinree would never lie to his fellow Sangheili and an argument began over whether or not such a legendary hero would betray their Covenant. Toru allowed Ultin and his Yonhet underlings disperse rumours that this call for help may have actually been an attempt to overthrow the Hierarchs by the Imperial Admiral, disgruntled after years in exile. This would only placate his increasingly anxious forces for several months, and just as Toru began to waver in his commitment to letting this Great Schism play out, a messenger arrived, having come from Sanghelios itself. According to reports from Joyous Exultation, Wattinree and almost all of his forces had been obliterated by some kind of tremendous explosion, leaving what remained of the Sangheili military in turmoil. Above all else, however, it appeared that the Covenant had well and truly ended with High Charity's takeover.
When asked who now led their forces, the messenger informed Toru that despite abandoning their military names, a Shipmaster named Rtas 'Vadum and an Arbiter, the former Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadam, had taken to uniting what ships remained and had even sided with humanity against the Jiralhanae and San'Shyuum forces. After relaying this information to Toru, the messenger requested that he pledge his forces to this new faction - the Swords of Sanghelios, and join them in their fight. Unwilling to give up even a fraction of his power and influence to this group, Toru refused, and broadcast the recent news to his fleet. Ignoring a plea to reconsider from the messenger, he would then personally promote himself to the rank of Imperial Admiral and promised to take on the legacy of his predecessor by creating a new, stronger Covenant, unbound by many of the restrictions the treacherous San'Shyuum had placed upon them. Promising a future in which his subordinates would be able to strive together to achieve great things, Toru culminated his speech by naming his new empire: The Imperium of Clarity.
Founding an Empire
In spite of his grandiose claims, Toru and his closest supporters knew that they could not even come close to equalling the size and power of the Covenant Empire at its height. Nonetheless, he would begin a campaign of colonisation across his little corner of space, seeking to create the necessary infrastructure to support his troops for an extended period of time now that former Covenant supply chains were broken. By mid-2553, Toru had established military bases on three words suitable for Sangheili habitation and used his smaller warships to run supplies from other worlds, many of which had become entirely neutral areas of trade after the Empire's collapse. While he could have easily attained more through raiding and conquering instead of trade, Toru was very wary of both the Swords of Sanghelios and the human United Nations Space Command, whose alliance would likely destroy his own group if he showed any unprovoked aggression towards them. With his warriors hungering for battle, however, Toru saw other Sangheili groups - many claiming to be the 'true' successors to the Covenant - as fair game, and began a series of protracted skirmishes with them along the frontier that more than sated their desire for real combat.
During this period, Toru found himself torn between acting as a warrior and acting as a ruler. Thanks to Ultin, he possessed a small flotilla of salvaging ships and thousands of loyal Yonhet thanks to his good treatment of their kind, and it was thanks to their knack for discovering Forerunner artefacts that the Imperium of Clarity uncovered an important site in early 2555, which they dubbed 'The Sanctum'. Located on a small, uncharted world on the very fringes of Covenant space, a vast underground repository of what looked like infantry weapons and even a single functional Foreunner ship. Correctly surmising that this had been some kind of barracks or armoury, Toru had the place stripped bare by the Yonhet before exploring the deeper levels, intent on keeping most of the technology for the Imperium and selling the rest at a high price to other factions. It was here that he discovered something most unusual: a functional Forerunner Ancilla. While communication was difficult at first with the recently-activated construct, Toru soon learned its name - Diligent Keeper - and its purpose as custodian of what had once been an outpost for Promethean warriors before its abandonment millennia ago.
Amazed at his find, Toru had his forces clean out the outpost, taking anything of value back to Iradu. Wary that some of his Sangheili warriors might see the wanton looting of a Forerunner site as sacrilege, he ensured that Rak Ultin oversaw the transportation of any artefacts and after conversing more with Diligent Keeper, was able to transfer the Ancilla into a metal shell that had been kept in storage. Having been deactivated for thousands of years, Keeper knew nothing of the state of the galaxy and agreed to work with Toru as a guide of sorts. Upon his return to Iradu, the pair conversed at length, swapping information about their respective societies and recent events in history. While Diligent Keeper was surprised to hear that its creators were long-dead, the Monitor saw reason to ally himself with Toru and the Imperium of Clarity so long as they helped it find more Forerunner sites to study. This proved to be the start of a fruitful relationship, as Toru's Imperium could prosper greatly from the discovery of more artefacts to use or sell.
"A war is coming, brothers. It is inevitable. If our Imperium is to survive and grow stronger, then it must be prepared for conflict. Do as you will to ensure our victory when the time comes, no matter the cost."
―Imperial Admial Makhan's decree to his High Command, 2556
As the Imperium continued to expand across its remote section of former Covenant space, Toru soon realised that they would eventually come to blows against the galaxy's other major factions. With his power firmly consolidated around Iradu, Toru appointed five trustworthy Sangheili to the rank of Fleet Master, each leading a section of the Imperium's rather modest fleet. While he kept the Watchful Custodian with him at all times, Toru was painfully aware of the fact that most of their military vessels were ageing warships from the Covenant military and sought to bolster his forces by ordering the construction of a number of Assembly Forges on Iradu's moon, Vandun. Using trade routes the Imperium had established with independent Kig-Yar and Yonhet groups, he was able to secure the materials necessary to construct not only these massive plants, but a number of fresh military warships to back up his current forces.
With this growth in industry came a need for manpower. In early 2556, Toru assembled his High Command and gave each Fleet Master specific orders involving the expansion of their fleet and military in preparation for war with the rest of the galaxy. While this largely involved securing more trading routes and forging alliances with smaller factions willing to join the Imperium, this decree included the establishment of four separate colonies for Unggoy usage within their territory. With these breeding grounds, they would have tens of thousands of Unggoy within a few short years. While Toru disliked treating the race as a low-ranking labour force like the Covenant had, he acknowledged it as a sad necessity if the Imperium were to have the numbers to win any prolonged conflict. To alleviate his own feelings of guilt and quell any discontent among his own subjects, Toru contacted several Unggoy enclaves dotted around former Covenant systems with promises of security and fair representation if they pledged their allegiance to him. While some refused, wary of his motives, a number accepted and after some debate were able to appoint an official representative named Hedan. Toru met with Hedan personally and was surprised to discover that the Unggoy was a seasoned veteran of the Human-Covenant War who had survived battle against both the humans and the Great Schism. After a lengthy meeting, the Imperial Admiral decreed that Hedan's people would not only be made citizens of the Imperium, but he would gain a seat on Toru's High Command.
This decision was met with some opposition from within the Imperium's military, though none dared to directly challenge Toru on it. Nonetheless, this unprecedented move saw Toru's approval skyrocket among the citizenry and prompted several previously-unsure Unggoy groups to swear fealty to his faction. Hedan was also granted his own ship - a CPV-class heavy destroyer he named Blue Death - by Toru as a sign of good faith to another military veteran. It was around this time that Toru stood at the absolute height of his popularity, with news of his accomplishments reaching as far as Sanghelios itself. While many traditionalists still resented the fact that a Sangheili from a lineage of no repute had attained such high status, he gained a small following outside the Imperium's borders by those who saw him as a progressive and enlightened leader. For the next few months, Toru would make several more controversial proclamations that gave females the right to serve within the military and human ships access to some of their trading ports, something that had some suggest that he intended to side with the Swords of Sanghelios in the near-future. He would refute these allegations, stating that the Imperium of Clarity would remain independent and protect itself against any hostile interlopers.
While many of the crucial changes to his empire were handled by Councillor Rak Ultin, Toru spent a great deal of time personally overseeing the research of captured Forerunner relics. Within the depths of his fortress, the Monitor Diligent Keeper assisted a team of loyal artisans and experts in dissecting and repurposing what they found. In addition, their captured Z-330 craft had finally been converted for Sangheili usage after much testing and was to be turned into Toru's personal transport in the future. While trading in Forerunner relics had helped put the Imperium on the map, anything with potential military use - including Diligent Keeper himself - had been kept secret from the galaxy on Toru's orders. What developments they had made went largely towards Toru himself; his already-ornate combat harness had been augmented with this advanced technology, while his Imperial Guard were equipped with modified Forerunner infantry weapons recovered from the same facility where they had first discovered Diligent Keeper. While some suggested that their faction would be better off picking a side or waiting for the warring Sangheili factions to exhaust themselves in their civil war before acting, in April of 2557 Toru 'Makhan announced that the Imperium of Clarity would begin a prolonged offensive to 'recapture' territory formerly belonging to the Covenant Empire in order to expand their borders and exert their dominance over the rest of the galaxy.
After over a year of rapid growth across uncontested space, Toru's forces found themselves moving towards a large Joint Occupation Zone held by both the UNSC and Swords of Sangelios. While his spies informed him that the latter had most of their forced embroiled in fighting other Covenant factions, the presence of human settlements and outposts in the area would prove to be a major obstacle in his empire's expansion. Believing his fleet ready to face a real battle after years of facing off against poorly-equipped warbands and pirates, Toru was in the midst of preparing a massive invasion when Iradu was visited by two human merchants, representing a group called the Guild of Free Traders. After discovering that they intended to barter with the Imperium over mining rights on one of the contested worlds, Montak, Toru met with them and struck a deal to allow them exclusive access to much of the planet's resources, so long as they gave the Imperium a regular tithe. With promises that the Guild would deal with the existing corporate mining groups already on Montak, Toru had a group of ships under Fleet Master Kan 'Larom move to the system while he prepared the Imperium of Clarity for war.
Unsurprisingly, there was little resistance on Montak as the small human populace of the mining colony surrendered peacefully, handing control over to the Guild of Free Traders and the Imperium. As Toru set out to see his this new conquest with his personal fleet, news arrived that two ships - one from the human UNSC and one from the Swords of Sanghelios - had arrived to investigate. The Watchful Custodian arrived as they neared Montak, quickly destroying the enemy Sangheili vessel before it could react and crippling the UNSC destroyer's engines. For this first act of war, Toru joined the boarding parties himself as they quickly forced their way into the enemy ship and imprisoned an unresisting crew. Meeting their Captain Reynald Donnelly, and a visiting Swords of Sanghelios Shipmaster, Toru made a formal declaration of war against both groups and made those aboard the destroyer their first prisoners of war. The Shipmaster attempted to attack Toru personally, only to be quickly fended off and killed by his bodyguards. With little time to lose, the Imperial Admiral returned to Iradu and put out an emergency call for the Imperium of Clarity's military to assemble its full might.
Shortly after returning to his palace, Toru presided over a ceremony alongside hundreds of loyal Shipmasters, giving a rousing speech to his men about the coming battle and assuring them of the Imperium's military might before attending a private meeting with his High Command. Aware that this would be a fight for their very existence, Toru instructed four of his followers to gather the Imperial military and their sizeable mercenary contingent on the colony world of Frendhal, while two more would act covertly from the sidelines. While he intended to join the others on Frendhal and even departed Iradu, an emergency transmission from Rak Ultin called Toru back to the capital. As such, he declared that Field Marshall Orro 'Hendai would lead their armies against the incoming foe once they reached Montak. While his commanders tested the invaders' strength, he travelled into the vault beneath the palace, where Dilligent Keeper had made an important discovery. As it turned out, the Forerunner construct had discovered the location of a remote shield world beyond the edge of the Imperium's territory, untouched for thousands of years. Realising that controlling such a location would grant him power that none of his rivals possessed, he made plans for a large-scale expedition to the shield world as soon as he had dealt with the invading fleets, hoping to possibly establish a new capital there once the Imperium gained access.
After receiving news that the Imperium's forces had retreated from Montak; a deliberate plan established by Toru to draw the UNSC-Swords alliance deeper into their territory and away from support, Toru left Iradu once more and travelled to Frendhal to meet with his regrouping fleets. At the same time, he had Fleet Master Lora 'Deris launch a surprise attack on the human colony world of New Syracuse, denying the UNSC its nearest staging area and helping to cut off their long-distance communications. Furthermore, he had 'Deris enact a plan that involved capturing and coercing an enemy officer into working for the Imperium before dispatching them as an assassin against their own leaders under the guise of a desperate survivor. Though he did not expect the plan to work and simply wanted to sow distrust among the humans, Toru was delighted to find out that their assassin had at least been partially successful, hampering the UNSC fleet's effectiveness when they arrived in the Yain System.
Toru held the Watchful Custodian back at the start of the battle, allowing the 'Hudon brothers' fleets to form the front line of the Imperium's forces in orbit over Frendhal. Both the UNSC and Swords of Sanghelios engaged his fleet, though with less cohesion than over Montak. Toru ruthlessly exploited any weakness in their formation, inflicting severe casualties with the intent of slowly surrounding the enemy ships and forcing them into the range of Frendhal's heavily armed orbital stations. This plan never came to fruition as enemy commandos managed to board one station, turning its cannons on several others and creating a large enough hole in their orbital defences for the Swords of Sanghelios to break through and land troops on the surface. Seeking to end the battle as decisively as possible, Toru's personal fleet launched a frontal assault on the enemy, whose firepower did little to stop his supercarrier's advance.
Though the Imperial Admiral hoped to provoke his foes into suicidally attacking his flagship, their forces broke apart and retreated instead, with the Swords' committing their entire fleet to attacking Frendhal's surface while the humans fled into slipspace. The UNSC's actions surprised Toru, who correctly surmised that they likely intended to attack Iradu and dispatched the 'Hudon fleets to pursue them while he drove the Swords from Frendhal. It was around this time that Toru checked in with his commanders in the Bineb System, only to discover that Hedan Koti's Unggoy forces were abandoning the Imperium and fleeing after a nuclear attack on one of their colonies. When Koti refused to listen, first to reason then to commands, Toru had Fleet Master Kan 'Larom kill Koti for his betrayal while he turned his attention back to the liberation of Frendhal.
What ensued was several hours of tedious fighting as the Watchful Custodian and its many escort ships hunted down the Swords, who had spread their ships thinly across the entire planet to raze most settlements to the ground. While he left the defence of the capital city, Dival, in Orro 'Hendai's hands, the fighting proved to be more intense than he imagined and within hours news arrived of 'Hendai's death. Furious that his best field commander had perished, Toru committed all his forces to hunting down the Swords of Sanghelios' flagship, Questioner. Toru's ships soon surrounded the near-crippled cruiser over Dival, where he briefly spoke with their leader, Fleet Master Felo 'Ranak. He made his dislike of the famed Kaidon clear, he gave the enemy Fleet Master a chance to surrender before obliterating his ship. To his surprise and embarrassment, 'Ranak had already fled his ship and had been relaying communications through it to divert Toru's attention away from his retreating fleet, which incensed the Imperial Admiral further. Furious and now slightly desperate, Toru 'Makahn gathered his remaining ships and pursued the Swords of Sanghelios towards Iradu, where the outcome of the Imperial War would be decided.
"We will not be like the pompous, death-seeking nobles or superstitious peasants of Sanghelios. Everything changes here."
―Toru, upon establishing his new society on Iradu
Outwardly, Toru 'Makhan appeared as a calm, respectable Sangheili warrior, speaking when necessary and obeying orders without question. His loyalty and professionalism earned him the respect of his comrades and superiors alike, with many seeing him as a brave, competent fighter and leader. However, much of this was a facade put up by Toru to mask his true nature as a power-hungry officer intent on gaining rank and status at any cost. The poor treatment of his lower-class family at the hands of Sangheili aristocrats gave Toru a lifelong dislike of the upper classes, which developed into a full-fledged hatred of those he believed were looking down on him because of his background. As a result of this, Toru tended to treat races like the Unggoy and Yonhet with the same respect he would a Sangheili, believing that ones birth or species should never determine how one is treated or what chances they would have to succeed. However, this made any diplomacy with Sangheili from particularly old or powerful families very difficult for Toru later in life due to his suspicion towards them, partly out of spite and partly out of fear that they would destroy all he had worked to accomplish. He possessed a particular fascination towards humans in particular, and despite spending years trying to exterminate them enjoyed studying facets of their culture, which was so wildly different from that of the Covenant As such, he often tried to salvage enemy technology or artwork while in the field, something that his colleagues saw mostly as an eccentricity. Though he was merciless in engaging them during the Human-Covenant War, he saw fighting them as more of his duty as a soldier than a righteous act of religious zeal like some commanders did.
Toru was reputed for being very polite even by Sangheili standards, and rarely succumbed to the prideful fits of rage that had been the doom of so many other Sangheili leaders over the years. While he professed his faith in the Covenant's religion like all within the military, he was never particularly zealous in terms of following it and was even somewhat relieved when the Great Schism allowed for a more secular rule in his tiny empire. While obsessed with creating a lasting legacy through the Imperium of Clarity, Toru's main concern was always for himself. With no real close friends and little desire for any relationships, he saw most around him as tools to further his ambitions; even the genuine camaraderie he had shared with Ker 'Montunee, who saw his unprecedented rise in the ranks during the Human-Covenant War, ultimately meant nothing as he sacrificed his former commander to advance further in the Covenant hierarchy. While many Sangheili valued honour, duty, or family above all else, Toru was ultimately an incredibly selfish individual who sought only personal advancement.
Skills and Abilities
Like most Sangheili, Toru was trained to fight from a fairly early age and was fairly adept at close-range combat, though upon joining the Covenant military he took a liking to long-ranged weaponry to minimise risks towards himself. Instead of applying overwhelming force and charging in on the battlefield to attain glory Toru preferred to remain at a distance and wear down enemies with directed firepower. This ensured his survival on multiple occasions and ensured his eventual promotion into the famously unorthodox Special Operations group. While certainly an above-average fighter by Sangheili standards, Toru knew he had limits compared to some of his more powerful brethren on the battlefield and played to his strengths when it came to combat. Preferring brutal pragmatism to impressive but ineffectual methods of combat, he was not above fighting dirty to save his life.
Toru 'Makhan's greatest abilities lay not in his fighting prowess, but in his strategic acumen. Having seen the flaws in the usual Covenant military doctrine of overwhelming numbers and firepower when it came to casualties, he sought to minimise damage through advanced tactics in the field and ensured that they had multiple paths to victory instead of taking the most obvious route forward. While not the quickest method of winning a battle, this would prove to be effective on multiple occasions and saved the lives of many allies. When it came to commanding ships in battle, Toru never underestimated his foes and spent time analysing enemy tactics before moving in to attack. As Fleet Master, he devised several new stratagems for dealing with enemy vessels that included pinpoint Slipspace jumps and quick boarding actions that proved very successful as he policed the edges of the Covenant's empire. This would later ensure that Toru's sphere of influence was well-guarded against enemy incursions after he founded the Imperium of Clarity.