The Yanme'e (translated to "Ugly king" are insectoid creatures that travels in swarms; however, in Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST they seem to travel in much smaller groups. They are referred to by Humans as Drones or slang as Buggers, and are a race of sentient, flight-capable (although Elites and Brutes can have jump/jet packs capable of flight) insectoids who make up part of the alien religious hegemony known as the Covenant. Their mastery of antigravity-assisted flight has given them an almost insurmountable strategic advantage in combat.
Powers and Abilities
Drones have Covenant weaponry to occupy them as self-defense and offensive measures. They usually carry around Plasma Pistols which in large numbers can take a huge toll on enemy forces.
Yanme'e are a eusocial species, and therefore their intelligence is geared toward working in concert with large groups. They can accomplish tasks swiftly and efficiently when working together, and their knowledge of machinery is rivaled only by the Huragok. However, they lack individuality because of their hive lifestyle, and their instincts and societal conditioning suppress creative thought and encourage total obedience to authority. No examples of Drone names have yet been discovered, which could be another sign of their lack of individuality. They do not appear to experience higher emotions
The Yanme'e are not true insects, as they do not share a common ancestry with Terran life, but they share many similarities with earthly beetles and colonial insects. The Yanme'e have hard exoskeletons made from a glossy chitinous substance, as well as two pairs of veined wings.
Unlike Earth insects, which have three body sections, the segments of the Yanme'e body are broken into five: a head, a cephalothorax, a thorax, a pelvis and an abdomen. The head supports a pair of feathery sensory antennae and a pair of compound eyes. The mouth consists of sets of mandibles like those found on insects. Their hands sport opposable thumbs and dextrous fingers The first pair of legs are attached to a pelvis like structure, while the second pair is attached to the abdomen. The last set of limbs allow the Yanme'e to latch onto ceilings and hang down vertically during sleep.
The exoskeletons of the Yanme'e are brightly colored, with different hues representing different ranks or stages of maturity. Adolescent, or pupal, Yanme'e are luminescent yellow and orange, workers are a green hue, soldiers are pale blue, and Yanme'e majors are dark red.
Though a sense of organization or leadership is usually unclear among swarms of attacking Yanme'e, rank structure can be surmised based on the color of a Drone's exoskeleton and the strength of its defensive armor. The reason for the association of color with strength and rank is unknown, but one possible theory is that it is based on age. Yanme'e, like many real-world insects, may grow by molting their skins. The color changes could occur after each molt, when the Drone becomes larger and stronger. Regular Drone infantry are composed of following ranks:
- Green - Green Drones are the most common type of Yanme'e encountered and are by far the weakest.
- Blue - Blue Drones are moderately common on the battlefield but are slightly stronger than their green counterparts.
- Silver - Silver Drones are both rarer and more resistant to attack than blue Yanme'e.
Among these infantry ranks, an additional group of leader Drones have also been seen on the battlefield, utilizing Plasma Rifles and low-powered personal energy shields to make them more capable in combat. Only two of these leader varieties have been seen:
- Gold - Gold Drones are adolescent leaders who have been rushed from their pupal stage. As a result, their abdomens glow brightly. They occur in slightly less numbers than their red brethren.
- Red - Red Drones represent the peak of the Yanme'e ranks. They are extremely capable warriors compared to the rest of their brothers and feature weak energy shields. In Halo: Reach they no longer wield Plasma Rifles, they lack shields, and they appear to be lower in rank than the dark blue Drones.
- Unknown Rank - Dark Blue Drones that appear in Halo: Reach. They have a large Stag Beetle-like horn on their head. They may be another rank of major, or possibly Drone Ultras.
An attaché is selected from each Yanme'e combat unit and is tasked with interfacing with the other Covenant races in order to organize the swarm. Due to the difficulty in communication among the Yanme'e and the other Covenant races, these attachés do not socialize with their superiors. Instead, they are expected to become familiar enough with their allies' modes of communication that they can keep their unit mates coordinated effectively.