Quantum Slipstream
All advanced civilizations employ tunneling to travel the vast distances of the galaxy. By harvesting rare triborozon gas from the atmospheres of gas giants and refining it in specialised facilities it is possible to create an energy source that, when focused correctly, is powerful enough to pierce the space-time continuum between two fixed points, creating a link, or tunnel, between them. The process is costly, and requires precise coordinates; blindly tunneling across the galaxy could result in a starship emerging in the heart of a star

Triborozon Edit

Triborozon is a highly volatile gas present in the crushing atmospheres of Jovian-type gas giants. As well as being volatile it is also extremely rare making it an incredibly valued galactic commodity. One of the Imperium's most important fuel deports, Syr Darya Station, was destroyed in the early years of the Civil War; the destruction of the station also ignited the triborozon in the atmosphere of Syr Darya V and initiated a chain reaction which destroyed the entire planet. The loss of that one facility crippled the Imperium's deep range fleets, allowing Alliance forces to move throughout many parts of the outer rim with impunity.

Collection is undertaken by daring individuals who are lured into the highly deadly profession by the possibility of earning vast riches. Stories abound on the galacnet about individuals who have made enough collection runs to retire and live like kings; Harvet Khain is the most well known of these Triborozon kings, saving enough money to purchase his own moon, where he eventually died in a palatial abode surrounded by vast riches. Or so the stories go. The reality is that, for every success story there are countless crushed debris fields trapped in the high gravity atmospheres of gas giants across the galaxy.

Refineries usually orbit close to the triborozon fields and collectors dart back and forth between them with triborozon stored in special canisters. The refineries store and process gaseous triborozon into a refined liquid state which is stored in almost absolute zero temperatures to keep it inert. Tanks of triborozon are then distributed from the refineries in specialised tankers which transport them to the military fuel depots and civilian distributors across the galaxy. Given the rarity and value of triborozon, the refineries and transports are usually heavily guarded; even after the Civil War has ended, the Imperium has maintained a convoy system to protect its supply lines.

Tunnelling Edit

The process of tunnelling from one part of the galaxy to another requires skill. The enginers and focus amplifer must be maintained in top condition; glitches or substandard equipment can result in anything from a failure to generate enough power to open a viable tunnel to creating a feedback pulse capable of destroying the entire ship. A skilled team of technicians maintains vital equipment at all times. In addition, precise coordinates must be entered for the final destination. The vastness of space is charted through the use of unmanned probes which are programmed with an almost countless number of coordinates. Every successful jump is transmitred back and the coordinates logged as safe. Whilst the probes themselves are relatively cheap, the triborozon is costly; however, this system is seen as preferable to sending manned missions or relying on sub-light vessels to transmit data as they travelled, an incredibly slow process.

Whilst computers are capable of plotting these coordinates, most starships usually employ pilots; men and women with an expert knowledge of particular areas of space and who are capable of making manual adjustments to the trajectory of the ship in situ; tunnels are not stable constructs and the vast power keeping them open can cause incredible sheer and turbulence. It is possible that, without the correct adjustments, a starship can be pulled off course inside a tunnel, resulting in it hurtling back into normal space at devastating speeds that will usually result in the ship tearing itself to pieces. With their experience and knowledge, pilots are capable of making corrections a computer could not be programmed to predict.

Travelling through a tunnel is an almost instantaeneous process, rarely lasting more than a few minutes. Power is constantly fed through the force amplifier to maintain the tunnel even while in transit; a collapsing tunnel would destroy a starship utterly. Upon safe transit, the power is shut off and the tunnel dissipates, removing the link between the two locations and restoring the fabric of space-time.

Given the many dangers of tunnelling, its use is generally limited to those times when it is absolutely necessary.