High Charity was the Covenant's mobile planetoid station and the capital city, known as the Holy City of the Covenant or the Prophets' Holy City.
It was a large mushroom-shaped structure, 348 kilometers in diameter. At the apex of this "mushroom" was an artificial star that simulated natural sunlight within the city. This star doubled as a launch pad for the Forerunner dreadnought, the ship at the center of the city. The stalk tapered to a point, with various branches emanating from it, likely for service as docking bays. The city was mobile, could jump through Slipspace, and was almost completely powered by the engines of the decommissioned Forerunner vessel. The Forerunner dreadnought's engines were powerful enough to run the city on a fraction of their potential output. However, the station also possessed a set of auxiliary reactors that were capable of generating enough power for slipspace travel.
In the internal hub of High Charity lay an extremely large capital city. In its center sat the Forerunner dreadnought, embedded within the city after the formation of the Covenant as a symbol of conviction and peace between the Sangheili and the San'Shyuum.
The city itself contained many locations sacred to the Covenant such as the Council Chamber, the Sanctum of the Hierarchs and the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. As a construct, High Charity was very similar to the Unyielding Hierophant, a repair & refit station, though it also served as a mobile command post. Unlike many small Covenant vessels and their UNSC counterparts, High Charity contained many courtyards and other non-essential spaces which gave the station a terrestrial feel. The interior of High Charity was filled with the Covenant's unique architecture, of a lighter tone than their naval vessels. All of the structures within the city floated above a methane-rich field in which the millions of High Charity's Unggoy lived. The massive towers around the dome were gigantic spires of volcanic rock from the city's base, interwoven with metal supports and covered with decorative alloy. They were used by the San'Shyuum as offices and private residences.
High Charity was so important to the Covenant Empire that it was endowed with its own personal defense fleet, which consists of hundreds of battleships, carriers and cruisers. Some of the biggest fleets in the entire Covenant armada defended the city, such as the Second Fleet of Homogeneous Clarity and the late Fleet of Particular Justice. As it was the Covenant's major religious center and capital, High Charity was enormously sacred to the Covenant. It was thought that true believers should visit it at least once in ones lifetime, though few of the Covenant could afford to do so. It was full of Sangheili and San'Shyuum High Councilor, and the general leadership of the entire alien hegemony. It can be assumed that High Charity had its own set of powerful energy shields and defensive weapons. Despite its considerable defense assets it was unable to withstand the great Flood assault. The station's shields are most likely why the Flood entered it with UNSC In Amber Clad by a precise Slipspace jump: it allowed them to bypass any and all outer defenses.
Along the outer wall on the inside of High Charity were several towers, each containing rooms and hallways. Two of these towers were referred to by Cortana as the Mid Tower and the Far Tower. Most of these towers were connected to the two surrounding towers by the Hanging Gardens and the Valleys of Tears, but the towers containing the Council Chamber and the Mausoleum of the Arbiter were both notably only connected to the sections between them. Hanging far above the Mausoleum of the Arbiter was a part of the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, a large chamber decorated with shards of glass from worlds devastated by the Covenant. Below these structures are the lower districts.
Construction of High Charity begin in 852 BCE, taking 204 years until its completion in 648 BCE. From the Covenant's earliest recorded history, the San'Shyuum ended their civil war by launching the Forerunner dreadnought from their home planet along with a chunk of rock. This chunk would later be built into High Charity. The city was erected during the Sangheili-San'Shyuum war and completed following the war's conclusion. The Forerunner dreadnought that the San'Shyuum used in the war was stripped of all known weapons and permanently installed inside High Charity. Because the city is mobile, it is extremely difficult for the lesser creatures of the hegemony to make journeys to the capital, yet it manages to establish a network of Slipspace probes to protect its position. Anything larger than a millimeter in diameter that drifted too close was engaged and obliterated, including ships that failed to transmit proper clearance codes within a millisecond of hailing.
Prior to the Human-Covenant war, High Charity was almost destroyed as the Forerunner dreadnought powered up, galvanized by the discovery of "Reclaimers" by the Covenant, and attempted to reach Harvest to transport the occupants to the Ark. It was deactivated by Lekgolo worms as they short-circuited the ship to prevent the launch.
The Sacred Rings and the Great Journey
Upon the discovery of Installation 04 by the Covenant, High Charity was supposed to perform a Slipspace jump to the ring along with its fleet, where the Hierarchs would activate the ring to send the Covenant on the Great Journey.
The Fleet of Particular Justice, led by then Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee, had already made its way to the Ring while chasing the Halcyon-class cruiser UNSC Pillar of Autumn, but they did not know about the Flood, and did not expect interference from the UNSC. When High Charity and its fleet arrived at Threshold, they found that both Installation 04 and the Fleet of Particular Justice had been utterly destroyed.
In the early stages of the Battle of Earth, the High Prophet of Regret sent the coordinates of Installation 05 to High Charity. The planetoid and its fleet arrived just in time to watch John-117 and a group of Marines assassinate the Prophet of Regret. It then held position over Installation 05 until hostilities erupted between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae, as the Great Schism began in November 2552.
Battle of High Charity
During the chaos of the battle, John-117 infiltrated High Charity, by way of teleportation from Gravemind directly into the Council Chamber using Installation 05's teleportation grid.
At the same time, the Flood made their own entrance, using the UNSC In Amber Clad to perform a slipspace jump into the interior of High Charity, bypassing its exterior defenses. Once inside, the Flood used Pelican dropships to spread both Combat forms and Carrier Forms around the city. Within the city a vicious battle ensued among Jiralhanae, Sangheili, and Flood forces, all bent on destroying one another (this was the start of the Covenant Civil War). John-117 was caught in the middle of the quarrel but managed to escape.
Eventually, the Forerunner dreadnought at High Charity's core took off, with both the Prophet of Truth and John-117 inside, leaving Cortana behind. It appears that the Covenant forces on both sides completely abandoned High Charity afterward, and it was completely infested by the Flood. The Gravemind took complete control of the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, using the Council Chamber itself as his "throne room.
Quarantine of High Charity
As High Charity and Installation 05 were rapidly falling to the Flood, a massive battle between Sangheili and Jiralhanae held ships continued in the space around the city. The Sangheili Separatists eventually succeeded in driving away the Jiralhanae or they possibly retreated on orders from Truth to assist in the conquest of Earth. But this led to the fall of High Charity to the Flood under the command of the Gravemind who used this as his second base and gained a significant amount of ships. He sent one to infest Africa and from there all of Earth.
The Sangheili fleet formed a large perimeter and quarantined High Charity and Installation 05, attempting to prevent the Flood from infesting any other systems. Presumably all but one escaped Flood ship was destroyed, according to a Sangheili that was deployed to assist John-117 and the Arbiter. This ship, and the surrounding area of Africa were cleansed of the Flood, by means of glassing by the pursuing Sangheili ships.
After the Flood Invasion
After the Battle of Earth, a message from Cortana forewarned and notified John-117 that the Gravemind was speeding the infested High Charity toward Earth, and about the portal to the Ark. High Charity was in the Sol system as the portal near Voi opened. The Gravemind became aware of the danger that the Lesser Ark possessed and made plans to go the Ark directly. The Gravemind had modified High Charity's power grid to let him make slipspace jumps without the need for the Forerunner dreadnought.
The Gravemind, able to make the jump, but not keep High Charity completely intact, narrowly missed colliding with the Sangheili Assault Carrier Shadow of Intent, during the Battle of Installation 00 at the Citadel. It disgorged Flood dispersal pods (one of which damaged the carrier) and crashed on the Installation. Covered with Flood biomass and with the interior transformed into a Flood hive, High Charity was almost unrecognizable. The Mausoleum of the Arbiter was one of the few remaining structures still recognizable within the infested city.
Raid on the High Charity
After stopping Truth from activating the rings, John-117 returned to the Flood-infested High Charity on a mission to retrieve Cortana, which he successfully completed. At her recommendation, he overloaded the reactor core, by destroying its pylons, as he maneuvered back through High Charity to meet the Arbiter and re-activate the crashed Pelican to fly out of range of the explosion. High Charity was completely destroyed in the resulting explosions, with only the outer structure remaining when Installation 08 was fired, its debris showering the inactive Installation and the Ark below. Unfortunately, the Gravemind still managed to escape.
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