Quirel
Back in the day, I used to write quick fanfiction notes on flashcards. It was a challenge to keep these ideas concise and generalized, so that I could use them for whatever story had room for them. Sometimes I had a cool character idea in need of a story, or an idea for a tool or a weapon or a piece of the background that I couldn't quite fit into the story. The worst is when I had an extensive history for the bottle of liquor that the main character is drinking, but inserting the history behind the bottle would break the flow of the story.

I am going to use this thread for something similar. These are going to be notes, a few paragraphs long at most, about my Halo fanon ideas. Some will be about characters, others will be about technology or social customs. Hopefully, they will all be worth reading.
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Quirel
Although home-grown shield technology proved to be a nonstarter for the first two decades of the War, there was great interest and a meager amount of success in employing captured applique shields, colloquially referred to as "Overshields". In 2531, the first breakthroughs into deciphering Covenant programming languages were made, and attempts at mating captured Covenant hardware to UNSC machinery followed soon thereafter. Engineers accessed the stockpile of captured overshields and patched a link into MJOLNIR's BIOS system. The modules were then reprogrammed to generate shields contoured to fit the armored Spartans.

At this point in the war, Spartan deployments were at an all-time high and were only increasing in frequency and intensity. Understandably, testing of the captured applique armor was rushed in order to get upgrades in the field as fast as possible. Problems that should have been caught during testing were first discovered during battle, and the feedback from the Spartans was universally negative. An after-action report from Kelly-087 blasted the shields for being "inflexible, fragile, prone to catastrophic failure" and demanded further testing before additional combat deployments. The overshield modules, which had no problems interfacing with all varieties of Covenant armor, constrained the Spartan's movements and slowed them down. Shields could be depleted by the physical stresses of punching and running, or even awkward movements that fell outside of the module's newly programmed parameters. And the reprogrammed shields were not fail-safe. Several suits of armor were irreparably damaged by breached shields, and one such failure nearly killed Maria-062.

Extended use during the Arcadia campaign revealed another flaw: MJOLNIR suits suffered multiple system failures after a few hours of shield use. The overshield modules and corresponding kidney port upgrades were withdrawn from service until the problem could be investigated, and the results grounded them permanently. The Damascus Materials Group's evaluations showed that Covenant energy shields were "anathema to MJOLNIR's electronic and motive components", and the problem could not be rectified without prodigious advances in materials science and extensive modifications to MJOLNIR's architecture. A suggestion that redundant systems be implemented into a class of MJOLNIR meant for short, intense operations was turned down, as such a suit would be "expensive to maintain in the lab, nearly impossible to maintain in field conditions."

Energy shield technology would not reach the battlefield again until 2548. The established Grenadier model of MJOLNIR was selected as a test bed for the new technology, as it already featured strong EMP protection and radiation shielding. Such suits were withdrawn to Reach and extensively modified with new hardware. Although the upgrades were touted as Human innovation, recently declassified documents show that a great deal of Covenant hardware and materials were incorporated into the suits, a practice that would continue for many decades.

First the Grenadier suits were upgraded, and then the other classes of MJOLNIR Mk. IV were upgraded or retired. Compatibility and reliability issues remained, and after another two years of testing it was decided that MJOLNIR Mk IV-derived architecture had reached the end of its service life. Further improvements could not be implemented without rebuilding MJOLNIR from the ground up, and work on MJOLNIR Mk. V began in earnest.
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Quirel
There is scarcely a planet settled by Humans that doesn't trade in tobacco products, and some of these products are traded across the entire Human civilization. Some products, such as the Sweet Williams Cigar, gained ubiquity because of their high quality. Others became popular because of clever advertisement. Sitting at the junction of high quality and clever salesmanship are the Coffin Nails sold by BHCC.

As far as their composition goes, Coffin Nails are not much different from other high-end cigarette brands. The tobacco is a strong gene-tailored variety, kiln-dried for a smoother flavor and a crisper buzz. They are filtered, and contain no additives save for the menthol. What sets them apart from the competition is their construction and packaging. They're wrapped in tear-resistant paper that repels water, and the tobacco is packed in a way that enhances the cigarette's durability. A Coffin Nail can be crushed, folded, and stuck in a pocket to enjoy later, without ruining the quality of the tobacco inside.

The packaging is where Coffin Nails stand out from the competition. They are the only brand of cigarette to be sold in cartons that meet UNSC-PRF-303.A(8) standards for containers and crates. This means that, when fitted with an K-Spec Re-entry/Guidance package, a carton of Coffin Nails can be dropped from orbit and survive the trip. Hence the slogan "They burn in your hand. Not on re-entry."

The cheapest way to fill a Coffin Nail habit was to join the ODSTs, as Black Helmet Cigarette Company was founded by three drop pod veterans, and active duty service members got a steep discount at the company store. The advertisements for Coffin Nails featured ODSTs in every situation imaginable: Under fire, returning fire, recovering from battle, recovering the dead, waiting to drop, or simply waiting for a chance to take the helmet off and enjoy a cigarette. 

Just as Sweet Williams Cigars were lost after Harvest fell, Coffin Nails were lost when the Groombridge 34 system fell in 2551. Coffin Nails disappeared from store shelves within the month, but they are not completely gone yet. Crates pop up from time to time at gun shows. These are often said to have been "sold to a lost ODST company" or "recovered from an Insurrectionist cache of stolen war material" and go for an obscenely inflated price.
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Quirel
Phalera: The jewelry that holds the Holy Ecumune together.

There is no one language in the Covenant Empire. There are thousands. The client species and the guilds and the traders and the holy orders all speak their own tongues, and one cannot hope to learn them all. At one time, the common Sangheili language was the lingua franca of the whole empire. But languages shift, and they shift faster the further they are from the main trade routes. Nowadays, two individuals from far-flung corners of the Empire can both speak "Pan Sangheili", and be mutually unintelligible to each other.

Dai'neish Yll, the Liturgical Language, is the single exception, for it is a dead language. It is reserved solely for public worship throughout the Covenant Empire, for the communication of the clergy with their parishes, and is forbidden to use for mundane purposes. Not that many would want to. Dai'neish Yll is a language of poetry and imagery, steeped in ponderous tradition. Merely saying "hello" requires very formal use of metaphor. It is a fine language for the Covenant's top-down theocracy, but unsuitable for everyday use.

The translation disk was a necessary invention. The customs that grew up around them were inevitable in their own way. Many translation disks are embellished with elaborate designs to show the rank and station of a wearer, and are worn across the breast. When worn in this fashion, they are called phalera. Sometimes multiple phalera are worn, to complement an outfit or to demonstrate the many varieties of traveller that an official must deal with. 

Because of the Covenant's edict against machine learning, translator disks built for general use are very limited machines. They can parse words within their internal dictionaries and construct sentences in accordance to the rules of grammar, but they cannot learn new words or new usages. This means that a phalera is locked to a group of dialects at a particular point in time, and as those languages change, the phalera must eventually be replaced. This also means that anyone speaking to an official with a slightly-out-of-date phalera must speak a version of their language that is formal and old fashioned to their ears, which generally suits the Sangheili just fine.
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