Continuing my unplanned look at things from Halo: First Strike that were important at the time but have somewhat faded into obscurity: whatever happened to the fragments of the Forerunner slipspace crystal found on Reach? For those who do not remember this curious piece of lore, the slipspace crystal was found deep within the bowels of Reach in a Forerunner complex below Menachite Mountain. It was roughly fist-sized and had the ability to pull ships in an anomalous warped space-time bubble akin to slipspace but with visible blue mist as opposed to the bleakness of normal slipspace. A benefit to the Ascendant Justice-Gettysburg crew was that it allowed for a trip to the Eridanus system from Reach to be done in a matter of minutes. On the downside, the crystal emitted dangerous levels of radiation that made slipspace travel far deadlier. Weapons fire was also possible while travelling through the dimension, but plasma shots would vanish seemingly at random and made combat almost impossible. The weirdest thing of all was that the crystal also seemed to create a time distortion that took the Master Chief and the survivors from the Battle of Installation 04 back in time by around three weeks.
Needless to say, this thing was strange.
The last we see of the crystal is it being destroyed by Corporal Locklear, an ODST assigned to the Pillar of Autumn, by the suggestion of Dr. Halsey. However, the crystal ended up fragmented and ended up in the hands of both the UNSC and Covenant. Three pieces were given to the Prophet of Truth by Tartarus. Upon receiving the fragments, Truth says:
“It may yet be enough for our purposes… and one more relic from the Great Ones, as precious as they are, will soon make no difference to us.” The Prophet tucked the container deep in the folds of its underrobe.
Halo: First Strike, pg. 340
And as far as the Covenant fragments go, that’s it. The UNSC managed to save bits of the crystal as stated by ONI Lieutenant Elias Haverson on the Ascendant Justice-Gettysburg:
“If it means anything, his death was quick. And these”—he tapped the plastic bag on the table—”are crystalline fragments that I found at the site. At first glance they appear to be a match to the shard found on Reach.” He shook his head. “But what I found isn’t sufficient mass to account for the entire crystal. So unless it was atomized and left no trace, a fact inconsistent with the presence of these larger pieces, then the rest of that crystal has to be somewhere else.”
Halo: First Strike, pg. 287
And that is pretty much where the story of the Forerunner slipspace crystal ends. It does not come up as a plot point in Halo 2 or Halo 3 (despite being a way to explain how Johnson, Miranda Keyes, and the Arbiter made it back to Earth so fast from Installation 05). Presumably, the fragments the Covenant had were likely lost on High Charity or were onboard the Dreadnought when Truth fled the Covenant holy city. It would have been interesting to see the Gravemind use the bits of the crystal to jump to the Lesser Ark, but a Q&A in the Halo Bulletin chalks up the Gravemind modifying High Charity as so:
His modifications to High Charity were far-reaching, both to keep the facility functioning after the departure of the Keyship, and to better serve as a mobile plagueship from which he could sing victory everlasting in a galaxy consumed of thinking life. But even with an intellect impossibly vast and deep, able to twist the technologies of the Covenant far beyond their original functionality by application of esoteric Precursor science, the ancient abomination was unable to both conduct a desperate bridging maneuver to the Ark and maintain the structural integrity of High Charity after its arrival.
As for the crystal fragments in possession in the UNSC, those are just as elusive. I’d assume they would be in a highly-classified facility on Earth or another colony, but that is just guesswork. Perhaps they were useful in helping the UNSC Infinity become the powerhouse ship it is in the Halo setting. Maybe they are acting as paper weights on Admiral Serin Osman’s desk. Interestingly enough, the Forerunner Saga may allude to this crystal by way of explaining how the use such crystals as a whole had on Forerunner engineering and travel. The Forerunners used slipspace flakes that were said to have been carved from a core crystal. According to Bornsteller Makes Eternal Lasting in Halo: Cryptum upon observing the ship used by the Ur-Didact to take him and his human compartiots off Earth
“…the central flake of the slipspace drive, chipped from the original core, still closely held in a location known only to the Master Builder…”
Halo: Cryptum, pg. 124
It would be interesting if the central core and the Reach crystal were one-in-the-same but given how relatively small the latter was and how massive the former must have been to satisfy the needs of the Forerunner Ecumene it is doubtful they are the same. Still, the mystery of the whereabouts of the Reach crystal remains whether it be the Covenant fragments or the UNSC fragments. I hope were get an answer one day.
“When the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”