Menachite Forerunner crystal
This Forerunner crystal, referred to by the Covenant as the Fragment of Divinity, the Shard of the Gods, or the Holy Light, was a Forerunner artifact that was discovered in the underground Menachite Forerunner complex on Reach by Dr. Catherine Halsey and the surviving Spartan members of Red Team in September 2552. The artifact was of incredible potential, capable of warping space, energy, gravity, and even time and slipspace. It was hardly understood by the UNSC forces who found it, but was a prize that the Covenant were extremely eager to obtain.
The artifact was a fist-sized crystal with a thousand facets that was tapered at both ends and glowed with a blue light. When originally seen by Dr. Halsey and the SPARTANs in the underground facility, it was floating upright and the area around appeared spatially distorted. The crystal reacted with a burst of an unknown type of neutrino radiation at Halsey's touch. When exposed to a Covenant gravity beam, the crystal nullified it, reshaping itself in the process. Its new form was created as the top half split along its facets and opened like a flower blossom. The petals undulated, and the crystal's glow changed from sapphire to a cool green. When Ascendant Justice jumped into slipspace it rearranged itself into a starburst of edges and refracted light, emitting radiation even after being stored in the Longsword's reactor compartment.
History and effects
The crystal was recovered from the Forerunner complex beneath Menachite Mountain by Dr. Catherine Halsey and a group of SPARTAN-IIs on September 7, 2552. The artifact was surrounded by a region of spatial distortion—seemingly generated by the crystal itself—that caused Halsey and the Spartans the crystal to become disoriented and lose their sense of direction despite supposedly walking directly toward the pedestal. Some time after evading the Covenant forces that breached the interior of the underground structure the humans holed up in the complex were rescued by John-117 and accompanying UNSC survivors from the battles of Installation 04 and Reach. While the Covenant had completely occupied the complex, they did not risk firing on the humans who possessed the crystal. This allowed the humans to escape to orbit aboard a captured Spirit dropship and they rendezvoused with the hybridized vessel Ascendant Justice-Gettysburg under Cortana's control.
When the Ascendant Justice-Gettysburg jumped into slipspace, the crystal propelled the vessel and several pursuing Covenant ships into an anomalous bubble region of blue mist as opposed to normal slipspace in which nothing can be seen. In contrast to normal slipspace, weapons fire was possible. Energy weapons were horribly misdirected, and their shots popped in and out of existence seemingly at random, causing them to be just as dangerous to the shooter as they were to the target.
The amount of radiation it produced in slipspace was too great to be contained. The Master Chief ordered Anton-044 to place it inside a Pelican's reactor, but the radiation leaked did not noticeably diminish. The crystal occasionally released a large number of neutrinos of a type unknown to the UNSC. The extreme strength of the crystal's radiation made it impractical for the UNSC to carry it through slipspace for a prolonged period of time; it would kill the crew in under seventy-two hours, even if shielded. The crystal also produced an effect that caused the Ascendant Justice-Gettysburg to move hundreds of times faster than it would during normal slipspace travel. The location of the ship at the end of this jump was somewhere near the Eridanus system, a distance that, from Reach, should have taken several days to traverse instead of a few minutes.
Perhaps most extraordinarily, however, Dr. Halsey discovered that the crystal had bent both space and time, causing a three-week average time difference. John-117 and the other survivors from Installation 04 had effectively been transported backward in time during their journey to Reach because their relative space-time event path intersected the crystal at an earlier point in time as measured by the UNSC's Military Calendar.
Before leaving the group for her own mission to Onyx, Dr. Halsey gave the crystal to Corporal Locklear, who covered it with C-7 foaming explosive and destroyed it to avoid another slipspace radiation spike before Ascendant Justice jumped into slipspace, inadvertently killing himself in the process.
Three shards of the crystal were recovered by the Covenant, which were presented to the Prophet of Truth by Tartarus in an orb-shaped container. Truth stated that the fragments "may yet be enough for our purposes", although how he sought to utilize the crystal and its remains remained unclear. The Hierarch then ordered the Brute to reward the pilots that had recovered the shards, then kill them. The UNSC also possesses pieces of the crystal. It is unknown what has happened to the shards that were possessed by the two factions, although the three Covenant-recovered shards were likely lost when High Charity fell to the Flood invasion, or were kept aboard the Dreadnought with Truth.
- The crystal may have been a slipspace flake used in Forerunner slipspace drives, as it generated a "smoothing" effect in slipspace and enabled ships to travel much faster in the transdimensional domain—both known properties of Forerunner slipspace flakes. The crystal's acausal behavior—manipulating relative world lines to enable its own recovery to occur—also bears a marked conceptual similarity to the nature of space-time reconciliation introduced in The Forerunner Saga. However, the flakes were a normal part of Forerunner slipspace drives and the artifact's placement in the center of an enormous arena appears to suggest this particular crystal had more significance to its creators than an ordinary drive component. It is possible that this was the 'central crystal', the one that only the Master Builder knew the location of, and that all other Forerunner slipspace flakes were chipped off of. However, the core crystal is suggested to have been much larger than the artifact on Reach, given that it supplied shards for untold millions of Forerunner vessels and the flakes themselves were not of negligible size as massive numbers of them were used to decorate a large chamber in the Capital.
- The way the artifact warped space around it when first approached resembles the Forerunner camouflaging systems known as a baffler introduced in Halo: Cryptum. However, in First Strike, Dr. Halsey believes it was the crystal itself, not a separate technology, that generated the distortion.
List of appearances
- Halo: First Strike, page 193 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 201 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 145-146 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 214-215 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 211-212 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 248 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 189 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 204 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 204, 214 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 237 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 247-248 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 284 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, pages 339-340 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 287 (2003)
- Halo: First Strike, page 295 (2003)
- Halo: Cryptum, page 293