- “When in doubt, flee.”— Unggoy philosophy
The Unggoy (Latin, Monachus frigus, meaning "cold monk") is a species of squat bipedal vertebrates in the unified races of the Covenant. They are the lowest-ranking species in the hierarchy, and are frequently mistreated by almost every higher-ranking race. Unggoy are primarily used as laborers, slaves, or, in combat situations, cannon fodder. They are one of the later races to be introduced into the Covenant, and were either the second or third Covenant species to be encountered by humans. They are referred to as Grunts by humans, mainly because they are considered weak compared to their superiors, and also because they perform the majority of the physical labor required by the Covenant and they do not have much knowledge compared to other Covenant species.
The Ark and reseeding
Prior to the activation of the Halo Array, the Unggoy had managed to achieve a Tier 6 society on their homeworld, Balaho. However, the planet and the Unggoy civilization was devastated by the collapse of its biosphere due to massive global overindustrialization.
The Unggoy were one of many species indexed by the Librarian for preservation on Installation 00 from the firing of the Halo Array. They were subsequently returned to their homeworld Balaho, where they began re-building their culture.
Introduction into the Covenant
Grunts were the sixth client race to be integrated into the Covenant, not including San 'Shyuum and Sangheili, about 411 years before the end of the Human-Covenant war, roughly coming to their indoctrination in 2142 on the military calendar. By the time of their discovery by the Covenant, the Unggoy homeworld was still recovering from its ecological collapse over a hundred millennia earlier, and the Unggoy civilization had yet to return to its former state.
While they are essentially a slave race, the Unggoy have managed to largely retain their cultural identities, and have rebelled in the past several times. Being the lowest-ranked species of the Covenant, they are bitter rivals with the Kig-Yar, who are also low-ranked. The higher-ranking races of the Covenant have often ignored this rivalry. The breaking point came when a junior staffer in the Ministry of Concert discovered evidence of the Kig-Yar planning to poison recreational narcotics the Unggoy enjoyed, which would have left them sterile, but the High Council refused to investigate the matter. The rising tensions with the Kig-Yar and the general disinterest from the other Covenant races led to the Unggoy Rebellion in 2462. While the rebellion was ultimately put down thanks to an Arbiter and the near-glassing of the Unggoy homeworld, the Unggoy proved that they were not the cowards they had been long deemed, and could indeed be vicious fighters when provoked. After the uprising's conclusion, as was their tradition, the Sangheili forgave the surviving Unggoy and allowed them to enter the Covenant military as armed infantry units, rather than the unarmed cannon fodder as which they had previously served.
Despite the low place they have in the Covenant Hierarchy, the true irony is that the Unggoy's entry into the Covenant has ensured their species' survival. Membership in the Covenant granted the Unggoy freedom from risk of extinction during Balaho's two winters, as they now have access to sufficient supplies of food. Infant mortality has decreased to below fifty percent since joining the Covenant, and geronticide is no longer a necessity for survival. The average life expectancy for non-combatant Unggoy has doubled. Their incorporation into the Covenant likely also alleviated the threat of the Blue Death, which Unggoy typically fear.
The Great Schism
The Unggoy obey other Covenant races out of fear more than religious faith. They have next to no political power in the Covenant; the highest political rank available to an Unggoy is Deacon. Within the Unggoy community there is a strong resentment of other species, especially the Kig-Yar. The low rank of the Unggoy, as well as the aforementioned war, also led to a lack of political loyalty during the Great Schism, as the Unggoy did not ally with a particular side, and stayed with whoever commanded them, most likely out of subservient fear to their current masters. However, many of those serving under the Jiralhanae still held support for the Sangheili and revered the Arbiter, pointing out to their comrades that they once served under him.
Unggoy are typically poor warriors in terms of skill, poor shots when not focused, slow, but strong for their size, and are generally on the whole, quite tactically inept. When witnessing their commanders eliminated during a battle, they often go into a panic and scatter in random directions. However, what Unggoy may lack in individual skill, they make up for with sheer numbers, high tenacity, also if they are focused, can be quite accurate with their weapons not to mention they breed at a remarkable rate. The Covenant used the high-breeding rate of the Unggoy to their advantage in the Human-Covenant War, where squads of Unggoy very frequently overpowered UNSC personnel through force of numbers. The conflict on Harvest, and thus the Human-Covenant War, was in part started by an Unggoy named Yull tearing apart Private Osmo. Special Operations Grunts, which are known to wear black colored armor, are far more tenacious than the lower tiered ones, and have even been known to carry fuel rod guns and plasma launchers which makes them extremely dangerous foes, it should also be noted, that these fuel rod wielding unggoy can fire their massive weapons without needing to stabilize them with their other hand.
Unggoy are the only Covenant species to breathe methane rather than oxygen. Their combat armor/harness has an integrated methane re-breather system, as Unggoy are unable to survive for long periods of time without methane due to asphyxiation much like humans without oxygen. In games however, if the player manages to melee their methane tank off, they will not die. It is possible in Halo: Reach to shoot the vents on either side of the tank, resulting in the tank popping off and the Unggoy flying off.
Psychology and behavior
While fairly intelligent, they are cowardly, and not very creative on the battlefield, Unggoy are one of the most gregarious and sociable of the Covenant races and possess a very strong pack mentality, often associating with each other in groups. Although they are quite capable of handling weaponry and operating vehicles and machinery such as Ghosts and Shades, Unggoy are thought to be unintelligent, this is due to bullying by the higher ups like Sangheili and Jirahanae, who want unintelligent soldiers who will do what they're told. There are exceptions to this rule, however: The Unggoy Deacon Dadab, for example, was noted as being quite intelligent for an Unggoy, as demonstrated by his ability to learn and communicate in Huragok sign language, however, this is simply because he was allowed to be intelligent by his superiors. And Unggoy can be found on the farm lands of the Sangheili homeworld Sanghelios. They sometimes use a recreational drug in the form of a gas they mix into their methane tanks called infusion, sometimes referred to as "the gas". It was found by ONI operative Evan Phillips.
The Unggoy seem to outnumber the other races to a large degree and might offer impressive resistance if properly organized. They have been called "cannon fodder" because their Sangheili or Jiralhanae leaders will often send them out to serve as a distraction, rather than actually having them effectively engage an enemy in combat. This numerical superiority and pack mentality allows for their sense of cultural identity to remain, despite a number of hardships, including their extreme subservience to the other races of the Covenant, as well as the dark time following reintroduction after the activation of the Halo Array.
An inherent psychological advantage possessed by the Unggoy are their unburdened neural pathways, which allow the Unggoy to absorb knowledge more freely compared to the other Covenant species. As such, they are often tasked with monitoring space for traces of human communication. In addition, many Unggoy have developed a clear understanding of two or even three human languages. This advantage serves as a river of confidence in times of great stress for them.
Unggoy generally follow a few short, simple guidelines given to them by the Sangheili; namely "When in doubt, shoot." or "Stay out of the way, live another day." Despite being held in low stature in the Covenant, many Unggoy appear to be strong followers of their religion. Their Deacons will often hold sermons onboard ships to boost the morale and teach the Unggoy onboard about the Covenant. For instance, a Deacon named Dadab gave sermons and taught the Unggoy on board a Jiralhanae cruiser about the Covenant and its religions. The Jiralhanae allowed Dadab these teachings because they believed that it would help the Unggoy become more competent and helpful.
They often gamble with each other and often play games; one in particular, hunting rock, involves two Unggoy competing to kill the most scrub grubs. In the novel Contact Harvest, the Unggoy deacon Dadab stated that scrub grubs where easy targets compared to the mud wasps and shade crabs of his homeworld.
Anatomy and physiology
Unggoy share a number of features with different animal species on Earth. Like primates, they walk both bipedally and with the aid of their over sized forearms albeit in a manner similar to a chimpanzee. However, their bodies are armored with a hard exoskeleton as with crabs and insects. Their mouths have a set of small, pointed teeth, much like reptiles. However, the UNSC has classified them taxonomically as being most similar to Earth arthropods, although, being alien in nature, they still aren't technically arthropods..
Unggoy are on average about five feet tall and are relatively weak compared to other Covenant species, they have more mass than a human. Although they can easily walk upright on two legs, they may often use their arms to move in a quadrupedal fashion. While carrying armaments, they are forced to walk upright so that they may support their weapons with their hands, but while trying to flee, or while patrolling without a weapon drawn, they use their over sized arms as forelegs to add speed or stability to their gait. Their eyesight and hearing is average, and seem to have a very well developed sense of smell, sometimes sniffing the air to detect traces of foes or hidden enemies. This is facilitated through the olfactory membranes installed in their masks.
Unggoy also have thick, bio-luminescent, light-blue blood, possibly a result of methane-based proteins in the blood to facilitate methane-based respiration. Like Earth's Horseshoe Crabs, it is possible that their blood is blue due to high copper content.
Unggoy have over-sized forearms, while their upper arms and thighs are seemingly small. This has allowed them to be quite excellent climbers, as discovered in Halo: Contact Harvest. Spiny protrusions on their elbows help them scale rocky surfaces and may also be used to add force to their melee attacks. They also have an amazingly fast finger reflex speed, as they can fire a plasma pistol of the same rate a Sangheili can with a plasma rifle.
Most Unggoy have flat, three-toed feet, with another toe on the back of their feet, others may have four reptilian toes in front. While they are small, stocky, and lacking in agility, they are quite sturdy; most unggoy use light plasma pistols (Probably because that's all their superiors trust them with.), although certain Unggoy of higher ranks appear to be surprisingly strong, able to carry an undeployed plasma cannon or fire a fuel rod gun with one hand without toppling from the recoil. However, physical strength may not actually go along with rank; the types of weapons available to them may be a part of a "trust" issue with the other Covenant. As rank-and-file Unggoy are clumsy and tactically inept, more powerful weapons are likely only issued to those who are more disciplined and experienced.
Although they require an atmosphere to breathe, Unggoy are capable of surviving in the vacuum of space without sealed, full-body gear. Unggoy carapaces apparently can withstand the chilling cold and airless environment of EVA conditions, but they must employ sealed face masks in order to breathe, as well as presumably to protect their facial tissues. In the post-war era the Unggoy seem less able to survive without a mask and are less armored.
Unggoy breed prodigiously, with large egg clutches and short childhood periods. This combined with the large number of young per clutch and rapid sensory-motor integration development was one of the primary reasons why the Covenant cleverly used the breeding habits of the Unggoy to their advantage in battle, deploying the Unggoy as cannon fodder (this would play a key-role in their war against humanity). Overpopulation is a serious problem and in non-war times, strict laws are placed on Unggoy breeding.
Unggoy do value their ties to their offspring, but are usually separated from their families at an early age by the requirements of military service to the Covenant. They resent this greatly, but because of their low social status in the Covenant, they are unable to muster any response.
The Unggoy's culture has been largely erased by their incorporation into the Covenant. They have been granted very few civil rights in comparison to other members of the Covenant and on a good day they are treated like second-class citizens. Despite the advances in civil rights granted after the Grunt Rebellion, including the right to carry weapons and hold places among infantry units, their representation on the High Council is mostly powerless. The negative aspects of their existence are offset by the irony of their continued survival due to the acceptance of the Covenant. The entire species in no longer at risk of being eradicated by two consecutive horrible winter seasons, as they had on their homeworld of Balaho, a swampy planet with a methane atmosphere. Infant mortality is now below 50 percent. Average life expectancy has more than doubled (not including combat personnel). Geronticide is no longer a necessity for the survival of the tribe. Producing enough food to last through the winter season and burning plague victims no longer rank as the top two priorities on their daily chores.
Unggoy often have names which reflect a language of very simple phonics. Unggoy may be based on The Filipino term for "Monkey". Common names, such as Yayap and Dadab, begins with a reduplicated consonant and consist of two syllables. Other names consist of a single syllable with clusters of consonants, such as "Flim". Some exceptions have occurred of which a name has more consonants than is usual while following the first method of naming, as in Kwassass. Often, their names are palindromes, such as Zawaz.
Unggoy names encountered so far consist of these phonemes:
- The vowels short A, short I, and short U.
- The consonants D, F, K, L, M, S, W, P, Y and Z.
Unggoy do not have family names, possibly because the Sangheili did not allow it. Instead, they identify themselves by famous ancestors, their homeworld, and where on that planet they lived.
- Main article: Balaho
The Unggoy homeworld of Balaho is a temperate, swampy planet with a methane atmosphere and naturally occurring pillars of fire. The cold season of their planet makes them highly covet any source of warmth and light they can find, mainly due to the "Blue Death". The planet is still in process of recovery from a global ecological collapse before the activation of the Halo Array due to overindustrialization caused by the Unggoy at the time.
Since their natural environment has a methane atmosphere, they would need to carry methane tanks and breathing apparatus with them whenever they travel into areas without high levels of methane in the air. Since all the other races of the Covenant, and their human enemies, breathe oxygen, the Unggoy find themselves wearing breathing masks more often than not. They have been revealed to be inhabiting large environment domes that have airlocks and methane filters for them to breathe while not in armor or restocking their methane reserves at battlefield methane tanks. They seem to have high-pitched and squeaky voices (except in Halo: Reach and Halo 4), possibly due to the different resonating properties of methane gas. The high-pitched voices are commonly regarded as humorous by most other races, since they tend to sound like frightened children trying to sound intimidating.
The Unggoy have five classes which are easily identified by the color of their armor and/or the type of armor.
|Unggoy Ultra||These Unggoy serve as field officers to their comrades, and wear distinctive white-lilac or silver armor (reminiscent of the Sangheili Ultras). While they appear to have some authority over lesser-ranked Unggoy, they have no control whatsoever over the other Covenant races (except for Kig-Yar). They are stronger opponents than their subordinates, and are more accurate with firearms, throw plasma grenades more often, and wear heavier armor.|
|Special Operations Unggoy||These Unggoy are experienced and specially-chosen, usually commanded by the special operations Sangheili, and are given distinctive jet-black armor. They are part of the Covenant Special Operations division of the Covenant Special Warfare Group. Just like the special operations Sangheili, they are able to use Active camouflage. They are extremely skilled in warfare compared to their lower-ranked counterparts, and won't panic too often in combat situations, if they do at all. They usually can be seen wielding needlers and sometimes fuel rod guns, and throw plasma grenades with great accuracy. Many of them chose to side with Thel 'Vadam and the other Covenant separatists during the Covenant civil war. However, there were some who didn't side with the Separatists, wearing white armor similar to the Unggoy Ultra. Some loyalist Unggoy were seen during the battle of installation 00.|
|Unggoy Heavy||Being similar to the rank of UNSC Corporal, these specialized Unggoy wear green colored armor and are often deployed for defensive actions. Their primary purposes are to give heavy support for their group, and are commonly seen wielding fuel rod guns. In Halo 4 their armor can be found in green, blue, silver, red, orange, and rarely violet.|
|Unggoy Major||Similar to a UNSC as a Lance Corporal, they are more experienced than Unggoy Minors, and wear crimson/red colored armor. They command several Unggoy Minors and are slightly more skilled in combat and courageous, though this difference is not always substantial. In Halo: Combat Evolved, two Sniper Rifle shots in the chest is required for one to die on Legendary (they have roughly the same health as the player in the game).|
|Unggoy Minor||The Covenant equivalent of a UNSC Private or Private First Class. They wear orange colored armor and are often the least dangerous, most cowardly, and inaccurate marksmen of all the Covenant. When their commanding officer is killed, they routinely break formation and flee; however, they will regroup and start firing at their target again. As is fitting for Jiralhanae behavior, Unggoy under the command of the Jiralhanae are substantially more aggressive.|
|Unggoy Storm||Storm Grunts are Grunts who are a part of the Covenant Remnant. They share many of their ranks with the main Covenant but also have a few unique classes. They are more fanatical than regular Grunts, and are more dangerous as a result. They serve the same role as Unggoy Minors in the original Covenant. Their armor can be found in many colors including orange, blue, red, green, yellow, etc. Unggoy Storm, like their Unggoy Minor counterparts are cowardly, but they are fanatical as the Sangheili they serve under.|
|Unggoy Imperial||Unggoy Imperials seem to hold the same position as Unggoy Majors and Ultras. Unggoy Imperial armor can be seen in red, blue, silver, and green. They can command Storm Grunts, but are more commonly lead themselves by Sangheili.|
|Unggoy Ranger||Like the Unggoy Imperial and Unggoy Storm, the Unggoy Ranger is a new rank of the Unggoy species. The Unggoy Ranger, like the Sangheili Ranger and Kig-Yar Ranger, functions in harsh atmosphere, including in space, because of their rank, Unggoy Rangers are specialists. Their armor is designed for 0 gravity and has suitible breathing equipment for space operations.|
- Main article: Deacon
The only position open to the Grunts in the Ministry of Tranquility. This rank doesn't often involve combat or hard manual labor, though they have been known to carry around plasma pistols and needlers, the former possibly meaning it is the lowest position on the Covenant hierarchy. But as seen in Halo: Contact Harvest, the Deacon ordered around other Unggoy whenever it came to matter of religion. In Halo Wars, Deacons are available as the final upgrade for an Unggoy. They further bolster and strengthen the abilities of the Unggoy squads. Interestingly, they wear elongated helmets reminiscent of their Sangheili counterparts.
Though it is never formally named as a rank and only mentioned once, it was revealed in Contact Harvest, that merchants are Unggoy well-respected in the Hierarchy. When Truth was sworn into office a Drone queen, Kig-Yar ship masters, and Unggoy Merchants were said to be there. It was also said that their combat harnesses were adorned with large jewels. They are known to trade Human audio transmissions such as soap operas and radio chatter on the Covenant black market.
The Covenant assign select fanatical Unggoy squads to use Suicide Attacks as their primary offensive tactic against the enemy. The suicide Grunts appear as a separate rank in Halo Wars. They serve as the Arbiter's unique units, coming in squads of four. They resemble standard Grunts except for a large, transparent, cylinder-shaped methane tank replacing the standard, triangular tank (in some versions only). However, they put two charged Plasma Grenades on their hands, and once they reach a target, detonate them in hopes of killing the enemy. In Halo 3, this usually happens when their commanding officer is killed.
- Main article: Heretic Grunts
These Grunts have different methane tubes than their non-Heretic counterparts. They use two rounded tubes, instead of the triangular shape. Another feature of the Heretic Grunt armor is a small mouth-breather that exposes a Grunt's teeth. Unlike the armor of the Heretic Elites, there is only one uniform color for a Grunt's armor, which is a shining, golden-brown. Because of this, there is no hierarchy or ranking system, and Heretic Grunts are inferior only to Heretic Elites. Heretic Grunts are also superior to their Covenant counterparts by their equipment and usage thereof. They almost always use needlers, or occasionally fuel rod guns, but never the plasma pistols that are often wielded by their counterparts. They set up turrets like the Heavy Unggoy. They are better treated than their Covenant counterparts, and are not used as cannon fodder. It's also worth noting that Heretic Grunts are much harder to kill than normal Unggoy. Typical Unggoy can be killed with two or three shots on normal via Carbine, but Heretic Grunts can absorb up to five shots before dying.
- Main article: Unggoy/Gameplay
Overall, the Unggoy in gameplay are very weak in combat; often fleeing when their leader has been killed. However, in larger numbers, they can be more of a threat, especially in higher difficulties. If their leader is killed, Unggoy may sometimes activate two plasma grenades and rush to the player in an attempt to suicide-bomb them.
In Halo Wars, the Unggoy serves as the main infantry unit, serving as the Covenant equivalent to the Marine. They start with a plasma pistol and three in each squad, but they can be upgraded to wield needlers. When upgraded to Needlers, they seem to also function as anti-air units as well due to their projectiles setting off a Hornet's chaff pods and doing extra damage towards enemy aircraft.
- In Tagalog, Unggoy means "Monkey".
- In real life, "Grunt" is a slang military term for infantrymen.
- Unggoy enjoy trading human communication files, such as soap operas and comedies, through the black market.
- The Unggoy were ranked #5 in Game Informer's "The Top 10 Most Pathetic Enemies" list.
- In Halo: Reach, Unggoy voices were changed. Instead of their original high-pitched and squeaky voices, they sound more deep and mechanical, possibly because of their breathing apparatus. However, they are still being voiced by Joseph Staten.
- In Halo: Reach, if an Unggoy's methane tank is shot or meleed it might fall off, causing the gas to launch said Unggoy into the air and eventually explode. Some players consider this a great hazard, especially on higher difficulties.
- In Halo 3, it is possible to shoot off the methane tank on the back of an Unggoy with any precision weapon.
- It is said Grunts cannot survive without methane tanks. But in gameplay, they remain alive even without tanks, this is probably because of a reserve methane tank hidden within their back-armor.
- In the Halo: Reach: Signature Series Guide, the average height of a Grunt is 5'2". 5+2= 7.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, all Grunts were supposed to have the Grunt Ultra helmet for the remastered version, but was not added in because of time constraints.
- In Halo 4, they have a completely overhauled appearance, making them look more reptillian than in the previous games.
- In Halo 4, Unggoy now breath methane through a tube leading to their nostrils instead of wearing masks over their mouths.
- In Halo 4, Unggoy appear to have a sharper, more reptillian voice than in previous games. This voice is also very similar to those of the Battle Droids from Star Wars.
- In Halo 4, Grunts seen with Fuel Rod Guns (commonly seen on Legendary), tend to use their methane to "super-jump".
- In Halo 4, you can no longer shoot or melee a Grunt's methane tank off.
- In Halo 4, Unggoy don't appear to run away as often as in previous games, as they tend to continue shooting you instead of fleeing.
- The Halo Waypoint Bulletin on May 9, 2012 suggests that the Halo 4 Unggoy may be a variant that was genetically mutated by the Covenant, or they may be a different sub-species.
- In Halo: Reach, occasionally, when not shot at, they will shake their weapon up and down as if it is jammed.
- A Minecraft DLC Skin pack(1) includes a Grunt Minor Skin.
- In Halo: Evolutions in the short story Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian, Unggoy blood is described as smelling metallic to the human nose.
- In Halo 3, there is an Easter egg with a surrendering Grunt at the end of Halo 3, the actions are used again in Halo: Reach, but with no voice.
- In Halo 4, whenever the Unggoy are sleeping, they make the same sleeping noises as they do in Halo: Reach.
- Their scales appear to be based of a tortoise, especially on the feet.