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Wormhole Key Generator (Tech 6)

Probably the most complex but speediest form of transportation available in the universe. Essentially, holes are punched in the fabric of the space-time continuum, forcibly connecting distant locations so a properly equipped ship can skim along the surface formed between them. 

A wormhole generator is fabricated in a factory. It will be comprised of two identical Hole Punches, one of which is dropped at each end of the intended "tunnel". Through an exceptionally focused, massive, and complicated set of gravitational and quantum fields, each Punch twists a hole in the surface of space, similar to a rotating black hole or singularity. The two Punches must be dropped, calibrated, and synchronized by an incredibly specialized ship. Both components need to be dropped by the same ship, which must also make the journey between drop points taking detailed scans of astronomical conditions along the way. The drop ship resonantly calibrates both generators and a skin of space forms between the holes. Ships propel themselves along this skin with standard propulsion drives... the Wormhole Key Generator just modulates their drives and shields and creates a quantum field around them to keep them from being torn to bits as they come within proximity of the wormhole and related fields that create it. Even minor errors in the calibration of either Punch, or unforseen astrological entities in the path of the wormhole, such as unaccounted-for nebulas or quasars, can cause the wormhole formation to fail. And failure can be catastrophic. Even when the wormhole is installed and stable, changes in astronomical conditions between the Punches can cause the tunnel to collapse, requiring constant maintenance in the form of survey scan trips and consistant recalibration of the Punches.

The Holes generate massive spatial distortions in very close proximity to themselves. Ships wishing to use the wormhole need a Wormhole Key, which is comprised of a specialized set of hardware and software that feeds a battery of 13-dimensional information about the physical characteristics of the generators, the fields they produce, and the wormhole itself. The "soft" part of the key changes constantly but predictably based on the physical and quantum properties of the wormhole and generator. Keys are generally either privately distributed by whoever lays the wormhole or broadcast publicly or privately by the generator itself. Keys can be calculated but the necessary computing and scanning resources are considerable and specialized. To decode an unknown Wormhole Key requires parking these resources right beside the Wormhole for a considerable period of time.

Political Significance
The significance of wormhole travel resounds to this day. In fact, the beginning of the Modern era is defined by the opening of the first inter-empire wormhole, between Bryden in the Core Commonwealth and Bjaki in the Bjaki Federation. Previously, alliances between empires were much in name and spirit only. Very important officials could not take the time or risk to travel to a distant empire. Likewise, the common man was limited by prohibitive costs and the time it would take to visit an alien culture. Now, however, the distance had closed and the risks had been carved to a fraction of what they once were. Foreign empires could now move quickly between themselves, spreading news, ideas, technology, and culture.

Wormholes are still extremely expensive and difficult to set up. Currently, the only groups capable of installing wormholes successfully are the Core Commonwealth, Bjaki Federation, Kharkosanth Empire, and San Jorge Industries. The initial trip through can result in a number of personal or large-scale catastrophies. So they are not commonplace by any means. They are, however, becoming more common and are undeniably a critical, expanding, and defining technology in the universe.

Wormhole Ettiquette
You don't just go sticking your Wormhole any old place you choose. When placing Wormholes in a system controlled by a friendly foreign government, there are certain conventions that are generally followed. You are expected to provide a "refuelling facility" which will provide services including basic lodging, refuelling, restocking, and repair capabilities as well as emergency management crews. The refuelling base also needs to be able to provide traffic control and maintain order if the hole becomes busy. 

Taxes and levies for placing the hole are negotiated and paid by the government or organization laying the wormhole as well as by ships passing through, based on factors like tonnage, ship function, and cargo. In most cases, the government controlling the system will insist that they be provided with the key. If the key is to be publicly broadcast, the host government will generally insist on some form of regulation of the traffic allowed to use the wormhole to prevent activities like invasion and smuggling.