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“Jackals may be superior marksmen and they're very sneaky, but that doesn't make them excellent snipers — they’re a little too bloodthirsty for that.”
— Anonymous UNSC serviceman

The Kig-Yar (Forerunner designation, translated into Latin: Perosus latrunculus, or "Hateful Bandit,"[2] human designation: Covenant secundarium carnivora prœdonis, or "Covenant secondary carnivorous combatant"[3]) are an avian/reptilian species[4] which served the Covenant as mercenaries and privateers. There are two distinct subgroups of Kig-Yar, which Humans have termed Jackals and Skirmishers. In combat, Kig-Yar typically serve as snipers, shock troopers, defensive fighters, and scouts within the Covenant due to their excellent senses of sight, smell, and hearing.


The Ark and reseeding[]

The Kig-Yar were one of many species indexed by The Librarian and preserved on Installation 00 from the firing of the Halo Array. They were subsequently returned to their homeworld, where they began re-building their culture.

Pre-Covenant history[]

During their early history, Kig-Yar society was divided into clans that sailed across Eayn's seas as pirates, raiding the encampments and settlements of rival clans. Eventually, the clans united, and the Kig-Yar species worked together in developing space-travel technology. Shortly afterward, they established colonies on many small asteroids around Chu'ot. Some Kig-Yar continued their ancient ways of life and became pirates once more, preying upon merchant starships. These groups of pirates were the Kig-Yar's only effective response to the overwhelming Covenant military juggernaut that arrived in the Kig-Yar home system in 1342.

The Covenant[]

The war between the Covenant and Kig-Yar forces culminated in sieges of redoubts on the asteroids surrounding their world. Eventually, in order to survive, they accepted Letters of Marque: commissions from the Ministry of Tranquility to engage in the services of the Covenant, though often this was merely used as an excuse to continue their plundering lifestyle. The Kig-Yar would spend much of their time preying on the ships of the Covenant's enemies, such as humanity.

Kig-Yar are around the same level as the Unggoy in the Covenant hierarchy, although the Kig-Yar despise the Unggoy and believe themselves to be superior. These tensions reached a boiling point in 2462, when some Kig-Yar in High Charity attempted to poison Infusions, recreational narcotics the Unggoy enjoyed, which would have left the Unggoy sterile, in retaliation for the Unggoy encroaching on their habitats and displacing Kig-Yar nests. Although a junior staffer in the Ministry of Concert found evidence of this, the High Council failed to properly investigate the incident, culminating in the Unggoy Rebellion.

A Kig-Yar missionary ship, Minor Transgression, was the first Covenant vessel to make contact with Humans. The ship raided a commercial freighter leaving the planet Harvest, and the events that followed would later lead to full-scale military action on the part of humanity and the Covenant.

Following the outbreak of the Human-Covenant war, a group of Kig-Yar under Reth made contact with the Rubble, a community of human survivors of the glassing of Madrigal. The Kig-Yar agreed to trade Covenant weaponry in exchange for slipspace drives. Although the humans believed the Kig-Yar were defying Covenant authority, they were in fact secretly proceeding with the blessing of the High Prophet of Truth to use the weapons to map UNSC space and learn the location of Earth. They also built up an army of hundreds of thousands of Unggoy. The plan fell apart due to the High Prophet of Regret sending Sangheili warriors to investigate the weapons, believing the Kig-Yar to be heretics. In the Battle of the Rubble and the Battle of Metisette, Reth and his forces were killed by Spartan-II Gray Team and the crew of UNSC Midsummer Night.

During the Great Schism, some Kig-Yar sided with the Loyalists while others sided with the Separatists.


By 2553, an unknown number of Kig-Yar had settled on the human Insurrectionist world Venezia. They were numerous enough to have their own compound on the planet. There, they integrated quite well with the humans, trading with them and living side by side with little animosity.

By the year 2557, a species of Kig-Yar from the continent of Ibie'sh served as combatants in the splinter group known as Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. Many later served under the Ur-Didact, who the Kig-Yar believed to be a god due to their continued faith in the old Covenant religion of worshiping the Forerunners.

In 2559, Kig-Yar forces engaged Humans on Kholo.


Anatomy and physiology[]


A closeup on a Ruutian face. Notice the razor-sharp teeth and scaly skin.

Kig-Yar bear notable resemblances to extinct maniraptoran dinosaurs from Earth, and in spite of their extraterrestrial origin, they exhibit a multitude of both avialan and reptilian traits. Like birds and various species of dinosaur, Kig-Yar have warm-blooded metabolisms, feathers, quills, and beaks. Their more reptilian traits include teeth and scales, with scaly integument being distributed throughout most of the body in Ruutian and Ibie'shan individuals. Their legs are sinewy and muscular, and are digitigrade in a similar fashion to birds. They have sharp claws on both hands and feet. Kig-Yar are an omnivorous species, though they were initially thought to be carnivores due to their dentition and feeding habits. Their jaws are lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth; some have far more numerous teeth which bear a passing resemblance to baleen.[5] Kig-Yar have been known to eat the flesh of fallen enemies, as well as live prisoners. Kig-Yar have extraordinary senses of sight, hearing, and smell. Male Kig-Yar possess plumages of spiny quills at the back of the head and on the elbows; the color of this plumage indicates the Kig-Yar's mood.[6] Females of the Ruuhtian subspecies often lack these quill plumages, instead having calloused plates at the forearms and the rear of the head. This thick skin flushes with blood and stiffens, this helps protect the female during courtship: when mating, the male will often bite, chew, and tear at the back of the female's head, neck, and arms. However, T'vaoan and Ibie'shan females retain their plumes, though the feathers of T'vaoan females are much shorter than those of males.

While Kig-Yar have hollow bones and are physically frail compared to most other Covenant races, they are capable of moving quickly to evade harm. As a consequence, Kig-Yar are highly vulnerable to firearms. In spite of their relatively frail bodies, they are still large and strong enough to overpower a fully-trained Human soldier in physical combat, though their physical strength is often useless against augmented soldiers created by the SPARTAN Program. Their blood is bright purple in color, similar to that of the Sangheili, possibly showing a similar chemical makeup. The lack of calcium in their skeletons makes them a poor source of biomass for the Flood. Thus, Kig-Yar that are infected by the Flood are typically turned into carrier forms rather than combat forms. However, they have been utilized as combat forms during at least one engagement.[7]


Kig-Yar reproduce by laying eggs which the female incubates in a nest, similar to birds. Females are also capable of asexual reproduction in the form of parthenogenesis (virgin birth), and can produce offspring without mating. This ability plays a part in their sex determination system. Fertile eggs produced via mating hatch into males, whereas unfertilized eggs will hatch into females.

Kig-Yar Races[]

The Kig-Yar species is divided into at least three subspecies: the lighter Ruutian, Ibie'shan and the more muscular T'vaoan[8] Each subspecies exhibits distinct variations in appearance and physiology. Kig-Yar typically exhibit light brown or tan skin tones, though some individuals feature gray-green or red skin;[9] flexible quills on the head and forearms among males, with calloused plates among females; and elongated, small heads with elongated snouts and bulbous eyes, though some Kig-Yar have heads akin to those of the Skirmishers.[9] Ibie'shan are similar in appearance, but feature a more reptilian features. It appears that Skirmishers are darker in color, with true feathers on their heads and arms, and have shorter, squared heads with small yellow eyes. While all three subspecies are quite agile, Skirmishers are capable of sprinting at great speeds and leaping incredible distances.

The reason behind the differing subspecies is unknown, though it has been theorized that it may be a result of the Kig-Yar adapting to different continents and colony worlds over millennia.[10] The Ibie'shan are a subspecies from the isolated continent of Ibie'sh, on Eayn. T'vaoans, on the other hand, are a subspecies that originated on the Kig-Yar colony of T'vao.[11] The most common "Kig-Yar" subspecies, Ruutian, originates from a landmass on Eayn known as Ruuht.[8]


“A slight against one Kig-Yar is a slight against all Kig-Yar, but fortunately they're still fighting each other over what they should do about it.”
Sangheili saying.
Ancient KigYar

Ancient Kig-Yar on Eayn.

The Kig-Yar are unique among Covenant races: rather than being faithful followers of the Prophets' religion, they serve the Covenant due to the monetary rewards the Prophets pay them. However, due to the long time they have been in the Covenant, a large number of them have accepted the Covenant religion. Kig-Yar have been known to coexist relatively peacefully with humans, as evidenced by the relationship between the Rubble and Reth's forces on Metisette. When the Kig-Yar were finally ordered by the Prophets to attack and destroy the humans of the Rubble, many of them even regretted the order. This is likely due to the pragmatic, mercantile culture of their race: As long as it benefits them economically, Kig-Yar will co-operate with nearly any group, even declared enemies of the Covenant.

Role within the Covenant[]

Kig-Yar serve primarily as light infantry, police forces and overseers. Kig-Yar privateers also commonly crew Covenant missionary ships, such as Minor Transgression. Originally, they were intended to replace the Unggoy as the foot soldiers of the Covenant, but their temperament made this impractical. Instead, they were assigned roles that were better suited to their natural abilities, such as scouts and snipers.

Within Covenant society, Kig-Yar have little status and are subservient to all but the Unggoy. Because of this, Kig-Yar frequently harass Unggoy to assert what little authority they have. In some cases, Sangheili or Jiralhanae dispose of criminals or prisoners by feeding them to Kig-Yar convicts, who eat the victim alive.

Due to their unique position in the Covenant, the Kig-Yar often utilize starships of their own making instead of Covenant-made ones. In addition, they are forbidden to build their own slipspace drives, and have to rely on heavily regulated, unmodifiable drives engineered by the San'Shyuum instead.[12] Royal female Kig-Yar have known to become shipmistresses of these ships and effectively manage various combat and patrol scenarios.[13]

Kig-Yar Phalanx Halo 3- ODST

Kig-Yar are pack hunters.

The Kig-Yar are not represented on the High Council but are instead vetted by the Ministry of Concert. The Kig-Yar do not vocally complain about their position but instead have elected to siphon off resources to their brethren. Whether the Covenant leadership was aware of this is currently unknown.

Government and Social Structure[]

The Kig-Yar government on Eayn is a post-industrial capitalist system with a population of 978 million.[14] It is also described as an ochlocracy, a system of government best described as a government by mob, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities. Presumably, this implies that whatever form of local government the Kig-Yar possess is ineffective and ignored.

Since the Kig-Yar's despotic days, to its current global government, female Kig-Yar are at the apex of power in their society. Females control breeding rights, territory, familial organization, and control of major assets. After the collapse of the Covenant, the Kig-Yar matriarchal government still exists.[13]


Kig-Yar names usually consist of a single syllable, with two consonants and one vowel, such as Yeg, Jak and Bok. However, Chur'R-Yar and Chur'R-Mut, who were both Shipmistresses, have multiple syllables in their names. It is speculated that the Kig-Yar naming system is at least partially based on sex, rank, or both. However, their naming system might not be the one of their own culture; it has been stated that Sangheili do not allow the Kig-Yar to have more than one name. Alternatively, it may be that the Kig-Yar language consists of single syllable words (their name for themselves, Kig-Yar, actually is two single syllable words combined).

The prefix "Chur'R-" is believed to indicate the title of Shipmistress, as both Chur'R-Yar and Chur'R-Mut were female Kig-Yar in command of a vessel.


Main article: Eayn

Eayn is the homeworld of the Kig-Yar species and is the primary satellite of the planet Chu'ot. It is characterized by its single equatorial ocean, sparse volcanism, and almost total lack of glaciation. Only about one-third of all Kig-Yar who still reside in the Y'deio system call Eayn their home; many have chosen to live among the minor planets within the asteroid belt since their initial contact with the Covenant. However, it is theorized that the Kig-Yar have colonized many other planets, due to their physiological diversity.

Rank Structure[]

Rank Image Description
Kig-Yar Leaders
Kig-Yar Zealot Little is known of the Kig-Yar Zealot's role. The only known Kig-Yar Zealot is Zhar.[6] As with Sangheili Zealots, they are presumably tasked with missions of religious importance to the Covenant, such as artifact retrieval. Their armor is probably ornated like the Sangheili Zealots.
Kig-Yar Specialists
Kig-Yar Ranger CP. 371 Kig-Yar Ranger are trained for zero-G EVA combat, and are equipped with vacuum suits and magnetic boots. They are known to use the Carbine, Storm Rifle, and Beam Rifle. Kig-Yar Rangers in the Storm Covenant now take a heavy resemblance of a Sangheili Ranger. Some Kig-Yar Rangers in Halo 4 have point defense gaunlets. In Halo 4 their armor comes in different shades of grey, white, and blue. Rarely they are red/maroon, green, teal, black, or gold.
Kig-Yar Sniper CP. 372 Kig-Yar Snipers are the Covenant's foremost long-range combatants. They are known to carry weapons such as Needle Rifles, Carbine, Focus Rifles and Beam Rifles, but do not use point-defense gauntlets as to better wield their weapon. In Halo 2, when the player approaches them they are known to run away and drop their beam rifle. Kig-Yar Snipers of the Storm Covenant can have gold, green, teal, red, black, or blue armor.
Kig-Yar Infantry
Kig-Yar Major JackalMajor Kig-Yar Majors are more experienced than Minors and are issued stronger point-defense gauntlets that emit a violet-colored shield post Great Schism and an orange or red colored shield pre-Great Schism. They typically carry Plasma Pistols and Needlers. Because of their high rank they will occasionally wield a Plasma Rifle.
Kig-Yar Minor JackalMinor The rank of Minor is the lowest field rank a Kig-Yar can attain. They are armed with standard-strength, light blue point defense gauntlets and small arms such as the Plasma Pistols or Needlers. Kig-Yar Minors are lead by Sangheili Minors.
Jul 'Mdama's Covenant
Kig-Yar Heavy CP. 373 Kig-Yar Heavies are the most experienced and skilled of their species. They are more heavily armored than regular Kig-Yar Storms and wield stronger, yellow point defense gauntlets. They are usually equipped with Needlers. Because of their armor they can take more damage than a typical Kig-Yar Storm. Kig-Yar Heavies can be found in black, grey, teal, red, blue, green, brown, and gold armor.
Kig-Yar Storm H5G Render JackalMinor The Kig-Yar Storm is the basic Kig-Yar infantry of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. They wield light blue point defense gauntlets and usually use Plasma Pistols. This rank is the equivalent of the Kig-Yar Minor in the Covenant Empire. It's more reptilian appearance indicates it to be a subspecies of Kig-Yar from the isolated continent of Ibie'sh. This is a likely explanation for why when compared to the Kig-Yar in the original Covenant, the Storm Kig-Yar is more vicious. They can be found in red/maroon, green, black, yellow, teal, and gold armor.


Kig-yar teeth

Kig-Yar have 28 teeth.

  • The Kig-Yar were the first Covenant species fought by human beings. Staff Sergeants Avery Johnson and Nolan Byrne fought and killed two of them led by Chur'R-Yah in the skirmish on Minor Transgression over Harvest, shortly before the First Battle of Harvest. Later, they became the first Covenant species encountered by the Spartan-IIs aboard Unrelenting at Chi Ceti IV.[15]
  • The name "Jackal" comes from a wild dog that is similar to the coyote, and is a reference to their scavenger appearance and nature.
    • However, the term "Jackal" is also a slang for a devious, opportunistic person or one that performs menial or degrading tasks for another. The first is a reference to their pirating history and lifestyle, and the second being a reference to their low position in the Covenant hierarchy.
  • "Kig-Yar" is Breton for "chicken" and Phonetic Welsh for "chicken meat."[citation needed]
  • Chur'R-Yar, Chur'R-Mut, and Shipmistress Lahz are the only known female Kig-Yar, and were also the first two female Covenant characters to appear in Halo canon.
  • Although Kig-Yar carry grenades in Halo 2, they are never seen using them. This is possibly because of the fact that, in terms of game mechanics, they 'dual-wield' their energy shield with whatever other weapon they are carrying.
  • In all games prior to Halo: Reach, all Kig-Yar shoot left-handed and are the only Covenant species to do so. However, in Halo: Reach Kig-Yar shoot with their right hands and carry their shields with their left wrists.
  • Kig-Yar possess a strong salty, occasionally acrid stench.[4]
  • Occasionally, Kig-Yar can be seen without their usual bright spines on their heads. Canonically, these would likely be females, because according to Halo: Contact Harvest, the females do not have spines and instead have calloused plates, this appearance is probably the result of a glitch.
  • In-game, Kig-Yar do not use melee attacks, because, as said above, in game mechanics, they are technically dual-wielding.
  • Kig-Yar are never seen using vehicles in-game although in they are capable of doing such, as they are spoken of doing so in novels.
  • In Dr. Halsey's diary, she does not understand the nickname "Jackal," because of a bigger resemblance to a reptile than a mammal.
  • In Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST, Kig-Yar are the only enemies that can sprint.
  • The Kig-Yar Snipers in Halo 4 appear to be the only left-handed Kig-yar in the game.
  • In Halo 4, Kig-Yar Snipers can use Active Camouflage.
  • In Halo 5: Guardians, Kig-Yar speak English. This marks the first time where they can be understood by humans.


  • In Halo: The Fall of Reach, Kig-Yar blood is said to be a dark blue, despite its actual purple color.[16]
  • The first time Kig-Yar are encountered in-game is in Halo: Combat Evolved on the level Halo. They do not appear in the first level, Pillar of Autumn, due to the Covenant's mistrust of them being on enemy vessels because of their pirating ways. However, in Halo: The Flood, they are mentioned as boarding UNSC Pillar of Autumn during their initial attack. In Halo: Fireteam Raven, during the first mission, Kig-Yar can be seen in the level, making a more possible explanation as to why there weren't any encountered by Master Chief being that they were in separate sections of the ship. In Halo 4, during Spartan Ops Episode 7 there are a substantial amount of Storm Kig-Yar and Kig-Yar Rangers aboard UNSC Infinity. It is possible that the Ibie'shans are less prone to piracy, or that traditional Kig-Yar restricted deployment procedures have changed within Jul 'Mdama's Covenant.


Halo: Combat Evolved[]

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary[]

Halo 2[]

Halo 2: Anniversary[]

Halo 3[]

Halo Wars[]

Halo 3: ODST[]

Halo: Reach[]

Halo 4[]

Halo 5: Guardians[]


Related Pages[]