Communication : the qNet
Communication is a vital aspect to such control of power, and the dominance of the Empire would have been impossible without the qNet. A communication technology based on quantum-spin, it provides secure, instantaneous communication regardless of distance. Bandwidth is only limited by the volume of matter used to form the “spinners” within the communication equipment. Its applications are endless, and it has become ingrained as just another part of life in the Empire. Life without the qNet is barbarism in the eyes of many. Usage and application have grown to such an extent, that AI and qNetworks are inseparable. Rumours abound that several prominent AI entities exist only within the Imperial qNet itself.
Offering multiple mechanisms for enhancing a biological organism, nano-tech is primarily used to allow an organic neural network to interface with an electronic network. In short, allowing you to communicate directly with a computer. No input or visualisation devices are required, no physical connection is needed. Displays are grafted directly into the visual cortex; sensory feedback allows direct manipulation and communication with any interface via a small qNet embedded within the grafted network. All pilots are required to have a nano-tech interface by Imperial Law. Such an interface allows far swifter action and more efficient integration in the running of any vessel. Such interfaces also allow pilots to communicate with, and if necessary remotely command their ships. A bond can form between pilot and ship that is akin to brother/sister- depending on gender preference of the pilot or ship AI.
Modern day Imperial life is ruled transparently by Artificial Intelligences running behind the scenes, in almost every single object capable of sustaining an electronic field of some form. Whilst we rarely interact with these entities on a vocal level, we are communicating with them almost every waking second – even when asleep if we so choose. Any nano-enriched being has an informal and very intense relationship with various AI’s as they interact with the electronic universe about them. Although not classed as “subservient” – AI’s were originated and authored to aid and assist us in our way of life, and those officially classified as “sentient” (Cybo Sapiens) take an active and willing part in helping the Empire go from strength to strength.
c-drives are bound by the traditional space-time laws of our physical universe, and are split into two sub-types;
those that are not capable of breaching the light-barrier. Typically reaction, or energy-sieve based drives used to move about near-planetary space, and/or into orbital positions, or even down to planetary surfaces themselves. An Imperial Mandate has outlawed any form of polluting drive systems to be used near inhabited or inhabitable worlds – though in general such systems no longer exist within the Empire, and can only be found in the non-imperial systems outside its borders. Polluting drives are generally frowned upon, and usually provides the central focus for most inter-species diplomatic/trade relations when any petition to join the Empire is considered or proposed.
those that rely on traditional linear velocities in order to exceed the speed of light, yet are bound by space-time, and as such restricted to the physical laws of our universe (unlike the g-drive). c+ drives are subject to light Doppler Effects, and also must generate hugely powerful shields in the direction of travel to avoid the object being pulverised by the minutest of interstellar matter (even atoms of interstellar gas), but also to avoid burn-up due to the mounting onslaught of electromagnetic radiation travelling directly toward the object as it builds up at many times the speed of light. As such, their popularity in the Empire is waning in favour of the faster and far more robust g-drive. Many outlying non-imperial systems still utilise c+ due to their own technological levels and resource capabilities. Nb. as the reader may be aware, pre-expansion theories of relativistic effects causing the occupants to experience less “time” than they take to travel at c+ were proven unfounded.
A g-drive is “the impossible, possible” – (Dr. K. Rees, Imp. Uni. of Sostran). It breaks all conventional physics regarding the space-time continuum and light. By generating sub-space fields which interface with, and manipulate gravitational fields – a vast degree of traction is attainable within sub-space with a disproportionately low energy requirement. This allows the object manipulating the field to force its way through space-time at many times the speed of light, without actually existing in space-time itself and thereby no longer being subject to its laws. The net effect is that FTL+ travel is attainable, with no risk of impacting physical matter in the normal universe. Nor is the observable universe impacted by this drive system, allowing for an unimpeded view of space-time around the object in transit. In short, it is the fastest way to “travel”. Due to the dependency on gravitational fields, the g-drive requires some form of gravitational attraction to exist between large enough masses in order to form a conduit along which the g-drive can travel. The gravitational effect between two stars forms a very narrow tunnel allowing the g-drive to function. If stranded in deep-space outside the network of gravitational “tunnels” – one would need an extremely powerful and highly sensitive g-drive in order to continue one’s journey – the risk of being stranded is extremely high. As such, deep-space travel is rarely undertaken with such a drive – unless a backup drive is available (c-drive).
Gates are the first commercial application of wormhole technology. Wormholes require vast amounts of energy to create, and also to maintain for long enough to allow an object to transit. This is mitigated slightly when creating closed wormholes – one’s which have a known designated terminus. This halves the energy required to establish the wormhole – forcing the load to be split between entry/exit gate pairs. The terminus gate must activate at the same time, and with the same quantum signature as the entry gate. As such, gate travel requires pairs of matched gates connected by the qNet. Whereas G-drive technology requires gravitational fields, wormholes are only stable when created in zero, or extremely low gravitational volumes. La-grange points are popular for Gates, but after G-field manipulation became widely available, gates may now be configured anywhere with a sufficient nG-field generator, however energy and costs are an inhibiting factor as ever. Establishing commercial gates is horrendously expensive, and running/maintenance costs are high. Only affluent systems proffer gate services – but more are coming online as the average Imperial system wealth increases. The Pax has an vastly expensive on-going Gate program which seeks to establish a web of gate connectivity across the entire Empire, and beyond as trade/alliances permit.
Presently unavailable to the Imperial public – WOD technology is still solely the in the domain of the Imperial Navy. WOD is gateless, and requires no terminus point to be established by a 3rd party. An exit is projected along the desired line of travel, based on the amount of energy available to the projector itself. As such, a wormhole could be opened anywhere, even inside a space station, another vessel – or indeed the mass of a planet itself. Although undertaking such a feat is immenseley dangerous – any instability in the wormhole interstice at either junction with one subject to gravitationl stresses could cause highly volatile and unpredicatble feedback. However, such an ability could (and no doubt would) be used to awesome destructive effect, such as projecting a wormhole directly inside, or indeed through another vessel. Naval R & D is underway to provide countermeasures to this effect, and until such can be produced and put in place – WOD will remain the property of the Navy until further notice. Presently, a vast amount of input energy is required – not only due to the requirement to provide both entry and exit points, but also to generate the shielding necessary to protect the object wishing to traverse the wormhole. This is ordinarily supplied on the travellers behalf when travelling via a Gate itself. WOD is subject to the same restrictions as Gates, where stable wormholes can only be produced in zero/low gravity fields. Whilst a sufficient nG-field can be generated at the point of origin, the projector has no influence over the G-field at the projected destination, therefore the wormhole terminus location must be in absolute-zero-g.
g-field manipulation was pioneered by the Imperial Navy R&D section (the progenitor of most contemporary space-faring technology). Originally, the intent was to affect g-drive travel, but application was also found to restrict or support the establishment of wormholes. As such it was primarily used to produce blockade volumes for Naval stations, however as FTL travel became more and more prevalent in the Empire, it naturally became a commercial concern and found its way into the public sector. Continuous refinement of the technologies involved has led to its application in many unforeseen areas – such as cargo-lifters. Providing both positive (+g) and (-g) gravity field manipulation, “anti-gravity” became widely available in the form of -g-field generators, whilst +g-fields allow comfortable habitat gravities to be used even on an asteroid with negligble gravitational force. Its use has led to a massive explosion of the Imperial population, having vastly increased the habitable real-estate within the Empire.
Without inertial dampers – space travel would still be restricted to the archaic c- drive technologies of the past. Inertial dampers allow the contents of a vessel to maintain a stable inertial environment, even when the vessel itself is subject to g-forces which would otherwise reduce the contents within to a chaotic soup of molecules thinly laminating the bulkheads of the ship.