(UK1) Wraith Drive
UK1's revolutionary FTL technology.
|| Exerpt from UK1 Science Archives.
|| Notes by Scientist [Redacted]
The "Wraith Drive"
The official name is the "Interstitual Transit Drive" - But "Wraith Drive" stuck, because nobody agreed with the name "IT Drive".
We're good at developing stuff, bad a naming it.
I say Develop; We reverse engineered this and lost thousands of tons of materials in experiment failures before we finally cracked it.
The Wraith Drive, in simple terms, makes Physics cry.
Being reverse-engineered from the FTL Drive on the Sunrise; it operates on a lot of the same principles, albeit crudely cludged together with HUman Technology, versus the completely impossible-to-recreate Maikor original.
In really simple terms; It works like a giant Electromagnet to "Pull" a ship out of the "Universe" as a whole.
Diverging for a moment: If the multiverse theory is valid; There are infinite parallel universes stacked up against each-other like a deck of cards. The wraith drive slides between these cards.
It generates Interstitual Energy and diffuses it through the vessel, which pulls that vessel into Interstitual space.
The actual process is a little more complicated than that, but as far as the "Back of the box" description goes; that's close enough for this note.
Whole new metallurgy composites had to be theorised, tested and built to make this process comfortable however. The Wraith Drive itself appears to create a "Pocket" of real-space around the vessel to stop the laws of physics just ceasing to exist - As outside of the universe; rules shouldn't technically apply.
The issue is that this realspace is Fragile, for lack of a better term, and Interstitual space really doesn't like things being divoced from their source universe, and will attempt to, rather violently, re-integrate them if not properly managed.
Many test craft returned as twisted and bent hulks, others were just unrecoverable, as the drop points were in low orbits, or so far away we couldn't track them with anywhere near the accuracy needed to retrieve the debris.
This can be brute-forced around if needed, as you can overwhelm this force simply by producing so much Interstitual energy that it won't force the vessel back into real-space, but this solution was only used in early drives before the Composites needed to be Interstitual Energy Conductive were constructed.
These brought a whole host of other issues instead, as they aren't too dissimilar to Ceramics in both hardness and response to impact, so we wound up with vessels that could make FTL jumps in less time and more efficiently than normal ones, but also had a bad habit of exploding into shards of material when struck.
Enter: The Molecular Binding Generator.
This was one that the Maikors themselves appear to use in some fashion, it would certainly explain why the hulls on their ships are so frustratingly difficult to damage. Effectively it places an energy field around the material it's connected to and reinforces the molecular bonds - Turning what would normally be brittle materials into much hardier ones.
It has it's own downsides, high power draw, lack of ability to safely overload and shutdown, at least that we've found, and just generally taking up space & mass, but it allows for constructions that would be completely implausible otherwise.
It's also part of the reason UK1 herself is still in one piece after well over a Century in space for the core superstructure.
The Wraith Drive itself can operate in two main "Transit Modes" - The first is a normal Interstitual Jump - Exiting out of Real-Space in one-location, and entering in another, this is the preferred mode for most Military vessels as it's far more power efficient, although it does have some issues with a large number of vessels making a jump at once (Reminder; Analyze "Wraith Storm" as a potential Area Denial tool)
The 2nd one, used more in commercial or "Bulk" transit purposes is the Standing Gate. This aims instead to construct a realspace tunnel through Interstitual Space between Points A & B. This has benefits for speed, as the effective tunnel is only a few milimeters long, but draws far more energy and takes rather a long time to create the inital gate.
"Behind the scenes", as it were, it's folding the entire universe like a gigantic piece of Origami to facilitate the tunnel's creation. The universe itself, thankfully, doesn't seem to mind this, and it appears that this is something the Maikors themselves may have made use of in some situations, which may be why we're even able to do it at all.
The uncertainty around all of this is simply because we can't be quite certain how the Interstitual Transit Drive works. The core systems are entirely Maikor, grafted onto our technology and run in place. We've gotten very good at replicating that exact component, even if we have no idea how it actually works, we just know we can feed in X and recieve Y.
We can actually run a drive without these components and it will work on paper, but the moment a ship attempts to make a jump: It's lost forever. We've never recovered a vessel in this circumstance. Some of my more extreme colleagues theorise that the vessel did return, just not to this Universe, and instead fell into another, but there's no way to verify this, as all tests have resulted in Failure simply because we can't communicate with or retrieve the test craft.
My personal Hypothesis is that these components are responsible for managing the transit in some fashion, and without them: The situation runs away until the vessel is destroyed, but again: There's no way to know for sure.