An Inheritance of Stars
Warp Gates are the ultimate advance in hyperspace technology. They exist as gigantic space bound structures, which are an essential part of commerce within the Argylian Expanse. The gates are powered in a continuous feedback loop generated between normal space and Hyperspace. Effectively this creates a permanent opening, or window into hyperspace through which ships lacking a hyperdrive can travel. Once within hyperspace, the ship is “launched” as if powered by a 5x hyperdrive, and is able to navigate as any other ship possessing a hyperdrive system. However unless the ship locates another Warp Gate at the destination point, the ship in question would not be able to exit hyperspace.
Once a gate is built and put online, it creates a continuous portal between normal space and hyperspace. This portal can be freely entered or exited by any ship; as such most planets utilize their PDF protect their gate and solar system.
Taking a gate offline is a delicate procedure. Specific shutdowns must occur in a very specific and controlled manner. Failure to follow these protocols can result in a catastrophic shutdown. Only once in recorded history as a gate ever been deactivated prematurely. In the noted case, the gate was shut down by saboteurs with a political agenda. The resulting explosion occurred in both normal space and hyperspace; the resulting gravimetric waves made hyperspace travel. Impossible within the star system for 150 years afterward. This would have resulted in the complete isolation of the world in question…had it not been sterilizes by massive radiation storms generated by the gate’s collapse. Needless to say, tampering with gate systems is regarded as a treasonous offense, and a capital crime against all of mankind.
The Warp Gates serve multiple functions. They enable ships to pass in and out of hyperspace virtually at will. They also act as homing beacons to aid in ships navigational systems, providing almost instantaneous astrological information. The gates also hold a secondary purpose. Since their beacons are always broadcasting, they also serve as gigantic communications nodes. Warp beacon network enables citizens to communicate over long distances. The recorded data travels from node to node at a “speed ratio” of 1 day on the sector map equating to 1 hour of message travel.
Since the Imperium became known to the Expanse at large, mankind’s former allies the Gray have severed their connections with the race of man and its increasingly xenophobic beliefs, and begun a war for survival. In the year 7027 the Gray struck a massive blow against mankind and the entire Expanse; they somehow disabled the gate system. Since their attack, none of the Gates are known to function as a portal between the Warp and Real-space. In the intervening years since the attack, many gates have either been destroyed or “salvaged” for their materials and technical components. The few gates that do remain continue to function as warp beacons, however without the network as a whole, their functionality is limited. As such, now only warp capable ships are able to travel the void between stars; ships without a hyper-drive are now limited to travel within their solar system, or they must be prepared to travel for years between stars.
This incident affected sector communications as well. Since so many gates are destroyed or disabled long distance communications are far more difficult. Many “routes” no longer exist, and others are cut off from the net as well. Currently the most “reliable” form of long distance communication is through Astropathic means.