ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MY TUMBLR, AUGUST 2014
Reposted without edits, save navigational issues.
Following the betrayal of the Prophets, the Sangheili found themselves without leadership. Small portions of the former Covenant began following Shipmasters and commanders likes Rtas ‘Vadum and Voro ‘Mantakree, but with the simultaneous outbreak of the Flood, the threat of the Halo rings, and the sudden alliance with the humans, these factions were far from unity. In the days and then months following the Schism, two leaders arose that sought to rebuild what the Sangheili had lost and gather the scattered factions together.
While neither Xytan ‘Jar Wattinree nor Thel ‘Vadam are ultimately successful in uniting the Sangheili, their speeches found in Ghosts of Onyx and Glasslandsshare interesting parallels.
First is where they make their addresses and their audience. Wattinree sends out a call to Shipmasters to meet with him on his supercarrier, the SublimeTranscendence. ‘Vadam goes to individual keeps on Sangheilios, and speaks with those in the keep who would come to hear him. Now the situations are different – Wattinree is preparing for war and to go to each individual Shipmaster would be time wasted. Furthermore, despite the shattering of the Covenant, Wattinree is still the highest-ranking officer and the fleet clearly recognize his authority. ‘Vadam is suing for peace, asking for unity, and people are not required to recognize his authority. So his speech requires a more personal touch.
The idea of “personal touch” could not be more lost on Wattinree. As he addresses the crowd, he displays himself through a thirty meter holograph, with his face turning to see all the Shipmasters. His actual height is close to that of a Forerunner (though according to the Halo Nation wiki, Nylund has suggested that he may be wearing platform shoes). His voice echoes throughout chamber. Ultimately, he “appears no less than a god.” (pg 239). Contrasting sharply with this, is Jul’s first impression of ‘Vadam as he strides into the chamber at Mdama.
‘Vadam wasn’t quite as tall as Jul had imagined. Somehow Jul had expected someone iconic, unreal, as befitted a fleet commander, but ‘Vadam simply held himself as if he were much bigger. (pg 58)
No showy displays, no grand gestures. Just himself, if perhaps with some preparation and charisma. In fact, despite the later peace summit situations requiring him to keep it, here he renounces the title that placed him above his fellow leaders on Sangheilios.
“Arbiter is a title I would prefer to forget. … I am simply a kaidon again.” (pg 59)
Another contrast is how welcome they are as leaders of Sangheili. Upon walking into the chamber, ‘Vadam is met with ridicule immediately. Wattinree is revered by his audience. Murmurs of agreement follow his words, and even those who disagree feel the urge to worship him.
The final parallel is a strange mix of contrast and comparison; the moment of disagreement. Here Voro and Jul play similar roles as the challenger, and indeed have similar reasons for challenging.
It was an inspired oration, but the Prophets had used words to trick them all before, too. (Ghosts, pg 240)
The Arbiter made sense. There had been a time when the San’Shyuum had made sense, too. (Glasslands, pg 60)
Both of them also find their challenge unexpectedly. Voro crosses his arms, and is amazed that Wattinree sees the gesture. Jul wonders if he is able to speak up, but finds himself doing so anyways.
As the grand Imperial Admiral, Wattinree makes a sweeping gesture with compliments and allows Voro to say his piece before the podium. Afterwards, he acknowledges Voro’s words before returning to his own agenda. Furthermore, at the end of his speech, Wattinree promotes Voro and sends him on a mission, that Voro suspects to be a means of silencing him.
‘Vadam again has a more personal touch. Instead of requiring Jul to step into the chamber to speak, he approaches Jul, and enters a dialogue with him. He meets his gaze. Upon returning to his own agenda, ‘Vadam has only one last thing to say. If they disagree with his words and actions, it is their legal right to silence him.
While their motivations were different – Wattinree seeking to inspire loyalty, ‘Vadam seeking to inspire comradeship – I think these speeches are also telling of the character of each of these leaders.