The Great Journey
The Great Journey is the Covenant equivalent of some western religion's journey to "the promised land." Primarily led by the Prophets and discovered by Cortana, the Covenant believe that the Great Journey will lead them to a more powerful throne on the Universe. The Great Journey was originally used by the Prophets as an excuse to invade Reach, but after the discovery of the Halos they concluded that the only way to proceed with The Great Journey was to activate all the Halos, and by doing so somehow follow a path to "righteousness." The deeper meaning behind why the Prophets choose to follow this path so heavily is unknown.
During the course of Halo 2, The Arbiter is sent to eliminate some "Heretics" who have chosen to reject the theory of The Great Journey. The Heretics had found out the true purpose of the Halos from 343 Guilty Spark and rebelled. Eventually, the Elites were exiled from the Covenant altogether when they were deemed "unable to protect the Prophets," and were replaced by Brutes. Most Elites in Halo 3 join forces with the UNSC after rejecting the theory of The Great Journey altogether, and work with them to prevent The Ark from being activated and ensure the survival of the galaxy.
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