"You must now decide to surrender to fate - or resist and strive to persist. Myself, I choose to fight."
―Xytan 'Jar Wattinree, rallying the Sangheili at the beginning of the Great Schism.
With his imposing appearance and legendary tales which commanded worship from those under his command, Imperial Admiral Xytan 'Jar Wattinree (Oracle Code: S18-T2131-7) seemed destined to become one of the greatest Sangheili in recent years. A legendary figure whose true origins remained illusive to most, Xytan exhibited extraordinary talent in administration and fleet command, which rewarded him when he received the highest rank within the Covenant military. However, it was his charisma and later reformist mindset which would make him a considerable threat to the Hierarchs' power; because of this, many assumed that he stood the greatest chance of inheriting a united Covenant. Only killed following the accidental detonation of a NOVA bomb, Xytan still remains an intensely-studied individual, with historians debating about his effect on galactic history for decades afterward.
Enrolling into the Covenant military in 2461 as per Sangheili custom, Xytan would endure the initiation-by-fire that was the Unggoy Rebellion. Despite not being tied by blood to any of the prominent families at the time, Xytan would rise through the ranks on skill and talent alone. He would subjugate the Yonhet and Jiralhanae, using these successes to spread his influence across the Covenant's dominion. However, he would steadily encounter resistance from both existing military commanders and the Prophets. As a result, he would slowly build up his political influence until finally he was chosen to lead the Covenant fleets in the upcoming conflict. His military successes would see him known as the "Slaughterer", where his campaign would lead to the destruction of hundreds of colonies and thousands of ships. However, while his mounting successes would earn him the highest rank the military had to offer, he would find his power threatened by the rise of the Prophet-backed Thel 'Vadamee. Finally exiled following Thel's strategic victory at Psi Serpentis, Xytan would be destined to patrol the Covenant frontier for the rest of his days. He used his time here to create his own fiefdom, building it up until he could one day rebel against the Hierarchs. Fortunately for humanity, Xytan would perish before his plans were completed, leaving the rest of the Covenant to fight over the remains of his once-formidable empire.
"[Saying that Xytan's upbringing] is an interesting topic is nothing less than a tremendous understatement, human. Many upstarting officers have a desire to learn much about him, to interpret his history to give them even a glimpse of his talents. Yet his upbringing is a curious topic, as even veteran archivists are unsure of his exact origins - I cannot say if it was because of the destruction of the Covenant, or if it was a deliberate feat on his part."
―Sangheili Kaidon-turned-historian Zuva 'Dahom.
Even before the destruction of the Ascetics archives on High Charity, Xytan's upbringing was a difficult enigma to solve. Contrary to the plaque displayed before his statue in the Hall of Legends on Sanghelios, Covenant records cannot confirm that a 'Xytan of 'Wattinr Lineage' existed within the birthdate given by his Oracle Code. Hundreds of clans across dozens of colonies have claimed otherwise, with many of them being poorer states that desperately rely on tourism and warriors for their survival. Their stories on his childhood range from believable to outright absurd - for example, it is unlikely that Xytan originated as an adopted offspring of a thorn beast, who slayed his mother out of a desire reintegrated into Sangheili society. Some Ascetics have moved even further, cross-referencing children who disappeared before 'Xytan' first enrolled into the Covenant military, although such efforts are currently fruitless. There are three stories that hold the most credibility among historians, although all have their contradictions that make it difficult to separate truth from fiction.
One of the skulls that the young Xytan supposedly carried when he first arrived in Chekarv.
The first theory of Xytan's origins are drawn from the relatively-young Sangheili colony known as Rahnelo, from the Chekarv State. They conceded that the young Xytan wasn't raised there, as he ran from his family in the west at a young age. Brandishing a collection of animal skulls, they knew the boy had talent and took him in, and allowed him to be trained by their most veteran warrior - a tyrannical Kaidon who ruled the region with an iron fist. He quickly became a star pupil, as he routinely defeated his jealous peers into submission through his unconventional fighting style; in human terms, he was described as fighting more like a snake than a Sangheili. Eventually, his ambition and skills began to rival that of his master, and slowly the Kaidon began to fear that one day the child would overthrow him. To maintain his position, he allowed Xytan to become the youngest warrior to undergo the Trials of 'Nevamd, a rite of passage in which the adults-to-be must recover a Lekgolo eel within the Citadel of Nebrask. It was a dangerous task, as many lost their lives to a wild Thanolekgolo collective that occupied the ruins. As the story goes, the Kaidon ordered the exits to be blocked and collapsed, leaving Xytan trapped with the beast.
Xytan was be saved more than a week later, when a grieving father journeyed up into the ruins and sifted through the rubble in search of his son. Shockingly, Xytan was not only found to be alive but had killed the gestalt completely by crushing it within a collapsed tunnel. Secretly nursed back to health, the boy swore revenge. He journeyed across Rahnelo, where he gathered allies, furthered his skill as a warrior, and equipped himself with master-worked armour and weapons. Most of those he approached to help them were under the impression it was a suicide mission, and refused to help. When he eventually returned to Chekarv Keep, it was with a party of less than fifty men. Regardless, they infiltrated and attacked the Tyrant's stronghold's inner courtyard. Xytan left his followers on the outside, and directly challenged his former mentor in his tower. After a long, bitter duel that tested every skill they learned at that point, Xytan emerged victorious after he kicked the Kaidon to his death. With his vow fulfilled, Xytan left the planet, and left Chekarv with a much more libertarian government.
The story is believable because many government records of Rahnelo can directly corroborate the details - the Kaidon was indeed assassinated by one of his child soldiers, while the Ruins of Nebrask were indeed damaged by explosives during the last decades of the Covenant. However, the identity of the assassin was never mentioned, nor does the modesty of the story match Xytan's egotistical personality.
Joining the Covenant
"I am the best in my class, I have proven to be unbeatable even compared to my seasoned instructors. And you must know I am on the skill of seasoned warriors. You should be in awe."
―Xytan, before his fateful duel with his future mentor.
However way Xytan was truly brought up, the first verifiable records were those of his enlistment into the Covenant military on May 24th, 2459, on the world of Tide of Celebration. He was immediately mocked by most of the Sangheili around him, who made fun at his lack of a clan name and his inability to discuss where he came from. While this would have been grounds for bullying, the young Xytan did not receive much physical abuse. Instead, he took any obvious insult against him as a willingness to fight, immediately lashing out against them in order to show he would never be knocked around. He quickly became known as the very best student in his class, attracting the ire of the noble-born who trained their entire lives to fight and never seemed to make an attempt at making allies. On several occasions, he was ambushed in dishonourable theatres as they grouped up to teach him a lesson. It was said he won these too, using shivs made out of glass and metal, and dirty coward-attacks to beat them off. In the end, he would be left alone for the sake of the attacker's safety, having earned the title 'Zadn'a'vil' or even 'the Jiralhanae.'
The duel between Ascetic 'Prowattinree and trainee Xytan was a vicious affair.
Soon after he enlisted, Xytan would be noticed by the senior instructors at his academy, who tried to coerce him by adopting him into their clan. Xytan would reject all of these requests, finding that he wants to have as little to do with his own species as possible. This would attract the attention of the Ascetic Adul 'Prowattinree, a warrior-scribe who just so happened to be searching for new recruits for the Ascetic Guard. Noticing Xytan's early progress and his remarkable ability to defeat even his older instructors, Adul would watch him with great interest. In 2461, he would finally make his move by proposing a duel with Xytan: if Adul wins, Xytan must serve under his command for as long as he sees fit and adopt Adul's clan as his own. If Xytan wins, Adul will make him a private operative of the Hierarchs themselves. Accepting the challenge, the two would engage in a brief but vicious fight which was watched by the entire academy. Originally, it was Xytan who was winning, who put the older warrior on the back-foot as he broke through his pitiful defence. However, after this initial clash, Adul seemed to wake up, parrying each of Xytan's blows effortlessly and sweeping the Sangheili to the floor. As he brought down his final blow, Xytan rolled out of the way, threw down his curveblade, and keeled, saying he accepted Adul's offer. After a moment's hesitation, Adul accepted Xytan's submission, and gave back the borrowed blade to help his new student up.
Hunt For the Doomed Penance
"Do not misuse my generosity, Shipmaster. An assault carrier is a tool of destruction, capable of beating even fleets of ships unaided. If you abuse it or my trust for anything beyond the mission I've gifted you, you will not only bring shame upon your house or your entire planet, but I will personally decapitate your skull and hang it above the door to its command centre as a lesson to all who disobey me."
As Xytan's reputation for success grew and his rank rose, he would receive an increasing number of requests from ministers demanding his assistance. Most of the, he declined their missions; often-times he knew that the objectives they sort were so minuscule that they were a waste of his talents, or that they were thinly-disguised excuses to incriminate him. His ability to critically analyse their proposals and not rely on the 'honour' of accepting meant that he was difficult to fool until the Minister of Abnegation approached him. Although his mission was seemingly simple - find the legendary space station Doomed Penance - the difference that changed Xytan's mind was that Abnegation had assembled no small number of assets. An entire legion, a fleet of sixteen ships and even the approval from the High Council to grant Xytan the temporary title of fleet master. Knowing that the station may very well exist to demand the deployment of so many units, Xytan accepted the Minister's proposal.
"You are right, Xytan. My fellow Hierarchs do not recognise the threat these Demons represent - but I will not sit idly in the face of such a menace. As our fleets advance, more Demons will doubtlessly be sighted - and we must be ready. You recognise that by denying them their greatest weapon, the only tool that's dangerous to our Covenant, it will only guarantee our victory."
―The Prophet of Regret, granting 'Wattinree's proposal.
Even before the loss of the vital shipyards at Unsparing Profer, 'Wattinree was already harbouring some concern for the battlefield threat that the Covenant called "Demons, but the incident immediately verified them. Despite already using his already-powerful intelligence network to identify and track them, they had never appeared in such numbers to warrant consideration in his tactics, nor did they ever attack such a core part of his fleet's logistics. As a result, he was forced to begin seriously working out contingency plans in case a Demon was present while his forces regrouped, though their lack of information would continuously thwart his attempts. Because of this, he sent an official submission to the Hierarchs requesting the creation of a dedicated force aimed at studying, eliminating and even capturing these threats. It would unfortunately be dismissed; Mercy believed that their threat was blown out of proportion, while Truth was astonished at the sheer manpower he requested. Only Regret was silent on the matter.
'Wattinree was in the middle of reorganising his forces to independently to achieve such objectives when Regret arranged a meeting with him. Regret announced that he would secretly approve his request; while Regret claimed that it was based on his agreement on the Demon threat, 'Wattinree privately believed that the San'Shyuum wished to get back at Truth for his humiliation following the Rubble Incident.
"He had never been defeated in battle. He had never failed at any task, no matter what the challenge. He was never wrong."
In his youth, Xytan acted like the opposite of the role-model he became in later life. He did not openly believe in the Great Journey or even the the Path, thinking it was all entirely pointless due to his materialistic, clanless upbringing. In a similar vein, he did not have a code of honour at all as he believed it served to make the individual vulnerable to weaker opponents when they should be finished off quickly. He had an ego that made it difficult for him to accept losing, especially since he never seemed to lose. This gave him a vengeful edge that saw him ruthlessly deliver payback. Beyond this isn't much - Xytan enjoyed challenging fights and taunts, and his personality was cripplingly shallow and negative. He would lie and cheat if it meant he would win, and wasn't above yelling harsh 'truths' no matter how the others thought about it. In fact, many times he did it to see how pissed-off his potential enemies would become. In addition, he made an effort to alienate everyone around him, and made no friends before he was beaten by Adul 'Prowattinree. He almost seemed to have dedicated himself to fighting.
As an adult, Xytan became much more visibly religious, although this was not so much out of actual conversion so much as it was inspiring zeal in his followers. He became much more friendly and modest about his accomplishments, however he still maintained an ego; occasionally, he would ask a soldier about what rumours the troops said about him during meetings with influential dignitaries.
Quite possibly the greatest threat presented to Xytan's power and influence, Thel 'Vadamee was a noble-born Sangheili who represented a considerable thorn in his side. Maintaining a stance as a very well-disciplined and focused warrior, Thel was best known for his unpredictable tactics that could on both the battlefield and the larger strategic map. This has made him extremely effective on the battlefield, breaking through even heavily-fortified worlds that gave Xytan trouble.
"Your empty words mean nothing to me Fleet Master - you are no true warrior. In my eyes, you are nothing but a child playing dress up with our Covenant's hardware, for they are the only incompetent souls that would waste so much time and effort on this... Pitiful excuse of a fortress. You are more worthless to me than my lowliest Minor, for even they know that time not spent fighting or destroying your enemies will only make you weak. Think of my words as you may, but if you want my respect, you will consider them law."
―Xytan humiliates Toru in front of his underlings.
Toru as a Fleet Master.
Before Toru's exile, Xytan only ever considered him an interesting curiosity. He mused that Toru was similar to himself in his youth; despite his poor family standing, he used his talents and opportunities given to him to ascend through the ranks of the Covenant military and possessed a keen strategic mind. However, what set him apart was his ambition, which he correctly predicted may eventually allow him to become a threat to the Hierarches if he continues his current path. However, because of their massive difference in rank and experience, Xytan never considered him an equal and paid little attention to his progress.
It was not until Toru was promoted and exiled in 2547 that he began to seriously investigate him. While his ambition worried Xytan, as he learned that he would betray close friends if it guaranteed advancement, he saw him as a potential successor he could mold to his will. He admired his ability to turn what was a lax pirate haven on his doorstep into a well-patrolled and protected empire. He even restructured his forces to promote talent over political connections. This was all the more shocking when Xytan finally met with him on Iradu; he appeared content with his position, attempted to buy Xytan's favour with gifts and carefully-chosen words and lacked anything in the way of a backbone to challenge his critiques. Xytan immediately lost all faith in the idea that the Sangheili he met who would carry on his revolutionist work, yet his power and past meant that the Imperial Admiral took the precaution of installing spies within Toru's Covenant to inform him of his every action; a difficult operation given Toru's paranoia. However, Xytan wrongly believed that the Fleet Master would side with him should a rebellion take place. This underestimation of his mindset saw nothing being done to prepare himself in the case that Toru would rebel, though the placement of a spy close to his inner circle negated such a concern.