Warp Drive

posted: 12th Aug, 2007 - updated: 1st Feb, 2013

Beyond Reality

During the Dark Age of Technology science advanced beyond logic or reason. Only the great Artilects of Mars had the ferocious intellect to rend the very heart of reality and rewrite it anew in their image. At first such wonders were created that mankind stood in awe. As time progressed the cold logic and burning imagination of the Artilects drove into the depths of hell. They spawned abominations, and mankind recoiled in fear. During the Age of Strife such abominations where purged, and much was lost of this era, though some archaeotech remains. Devices to important to be destroyed. Hidden, preserved and guarded by those who do not fear the mechanisation of the ancient Artilects, but desire them for their own: The Adeptus Mechanicus. Of all the archaeotech devices they possess one is prized above all...

Behold the Engine of Darkness;

Warp Drive

"The caged eye. The Cyclops. To stare into the engine is to stare into the abyss, to stare into the daemon eye, and see all that is and can be. There is naught but madness within this dark pool of reflection, the window to the universe's soul, into chaos itself. Avert your gaze before it temps thee! None can look upon the face of ghod and came away unscathed! Fools! You damn yourself to oblivion with a joyous heart!"

Magos Damnidus - The Demonic Comedy (drama)

Phase Field Emitter

The Phase-Field Emitters distort the Materium up to 99% phase. The power to obtain this level of phase increases dramatically as the phase increases. At 99.999% no matter how much more power is added it will not phase to 100%. This point of unlimited power consumption is called the Great Barrier, because it can not be breached with the use of power alone. Therefore Phase-Field emitters can not breach the ‘great barrier' and push the phased space so far that it becomes warp space.

While 99% phase is an impressive feat, as it can be user to nullify 99% mass, and hence a ship can travel at near light speed while in the Materium. Most Imperial ships are nowhere near this fast using sub-light engines and often top out around 30% phase. Still 30% phase will get you to the moon in under 5 seconds, but most ships are much slower. Non-warships are usually around at 3-8% phase, whereas the massive battleships are around 15-20% (which is really impressive!), and some power-frigates hitting the 25-30% max.

So how can you get into warp space?

Diagram of Warp Drive

Compound Distortion Engine

The answer is the Compound Distortion Engine (Warp Drive)

The design arranges a number of Phase-Filed Emitters into a sphere all aimed at the centre of the sphere. The combined output of the Phase-Filed Emitters creates a sphere of phased-space Within this phased-space the laws of physics can be molded to the designer's wishes, a true nightmare of physics where multiple realities overlay and combine to create an environment for the impossible to come into existence: a Geller Field Emitter (Note: Possible tech base of Quantum Computer and/ or Artilects]

Picture: Imperial Warp Drive type DDE:[haven't work out numbering system yet ;-) ] (basic) schematics.

Geller Field Emitter

This is created from plasma injected into the heart of the spherical phased-space created by the Phase-Field array. The plasma is rapidly converted into phased matter and the exotic energies needed to build the Geller Field Emitter. These raw materials are fashioned with harmonics and pulsed wave patterns of the Phase-Field Emitters (similar to a hologram is built from light and has form) into the Geller Field Emitter. Once operational the Geller Filed Emitter produces a reversed* Phase-Field sphere, a bubble of untouched reality inside with an outer surface able to re-negotiate it's relationship with the Materium from the pre-phase-space starting point. Reality looses its grip and the Geller Field drops into the corresponding border-space within the warp, called the Ethyrium, which is similar to the warp's version of Phased-Space (with the ship inside the reality bubble).

* Usually a field effect is external, the reversed effect is internal.

Dynamic Engine/ Pre-Phase

The amount of pre-phase of the Phase-Field Emitter array determines the depth to which the ship will plunge into the warp. Each level (%) of pre-phase requires a new design of Geller Emitter to be built to take into account the change in phase. The very core of the Geller-Filed Emitter is constantly in a state of flux, rapidly changing to maintain a design matched to the current Phase-Space created by the Phase-Field Emitter array.

Depth and Pre-Phase: The depth of the warp jump is determined by the percentage of phase of the Phase-Space the Geller Field Emitter was built in. If the Phase-Field Emitter array built a Geller Field Emitter in a 10% phase-space, then the resulting Geller-Field would drop the ship into warp space and push past the Great Barrier by 10%, or more precisely into the Ethyrium at 90% stability (100% at the 'great barrier' -10% push past = 90%). A Geller Field Emitter built in 90% phase-space would result in a Geller-Field that would drop a ship into the deep warp, and push past the Great Barrier by a massive 90%, getting down to a warp with a mere 10% stability (100% at the 'great barrier' -90% push past = 10%). However there are limits, and most Imperial Geller-Fields are built in 12-40% phase-space, where some more exotic drives getting onto 60%. However a 60% Geller-Field is diving very deep and using massive amounts of power, but it very fast. As a rough scale, a 99% Geller-Field would result in near instantaneous travel.

Max: The most powerful Adeptus Mechanicus/ Navigator alliance engines can drop a ship into 66% warp space: the 'Ethyrium at 33% stability' but the power requirements are ludicrous. At this depth the Geller Field has virtually no 'pressure' to counter it, and it can balloon up to thousands of times the size of a ships in the shallows. Maintaining the integrity of the Geller Field at this depth is no easy task, but travel is nearly instantaneous. Beyond 88% Geller Fields fail (blow out).

Eldritch engine - Ad-Mec Mythos

During the D/GAoT there were rumours of a triple distortion drive, a drive capable actually dropping a ship into the void itself! Operating within a phase-space of 80%, a Geller-Field was created and into the surface of that field-space a new engine was built within warp-space using arcane signs and powered by the warp itself. This 'Eldritch Engine', was built in 80% warp-space and this in turn allowed a theoretical jump into the void, or 80% past void zero. The prototypes of these ships never returned. It is believed they crossed over and fell out of 'time'.

[Notes (ignore): This engine is built within the warp, and is dynamically 'etched' into the Geller Field, creating an Arcane- or Arch-Engine built of 'unreality' wards. It requires huge amounts of Psyker energies, some say sacrifice.]

Geller Field Effect

The Geller Field maintains reality within, but has no effect in the Materium without. At low levels (before the threshold energy for drop is reached) it reinforces the Materium and can have a noticeable effect where the great barrier has been breached and the warp leaks into the Materium (Eye of Terror). A Geller Field can act as a 'reality stabiliser' (very difficult to maintain). In these cases the space within the Geller Filed is considered normal space. However within an area where the barrier is breached: the threshold energy to enter the warp is much lower. So powering up the field, even to a lower power level, can drop the ship into the warp (and hence it is not reliable as a 'reality stabilizer').

Once a Geller Field is within the warp, the ship inside is considered to be in normal space, and the usual laws of physics apply within the field's effective area. The shell of the Geller Field that touches the warp is a barrier, and is basically an artificial version of the 'Great Barrier', that keeps reality and the warp separate. As the ship inside is in 'normal space' demons have just as much of a hard time materializing within the Geller Field as they would materializing within the Materium!

Dynamics of a Jump

The huge repulsion field generated within the warp by a star is what powers the flight. The deeper the jump the more powerful the repulsive force of stars are. Most ships drop into the warp at the edge of a solar system because the power of the star's repulsion is immense at close range. Such power could collapse the ship's Geller Field; exposing the ship to the raw warp (ships would disintegrate). The ship dropping into the warp at the jump zone is catapulted away from the star system at several thousand times the speed of light. The pressure on the Geller Field at this stage is astronomical, but it has to be done to generate the energy needed to make an interstellar jump. There are very few ships that can survive a drop into the warp while within a solar system and they are all military. The power generated and the speed of these jumps requires a navigator of exceptional skill.

Flight Path

The repulsion effect continues for tens of light years, and repulsion fields overlap with each other. This constant repulsion field also churns the energy of the warp. Once away from the repulsion force, there is a flow pattern within the warp that can drag a ship. This drag is weak and on appears in the shallows and is easy to override by dropping deeper and hits a strong repulsion force.

Note: Broad Geller field on jump (leaving a solar system), and narrow on arriving at the destination. Drop deep and wide at the beginning to gain most 'thrust', and arrive shallow and narrow avoid pushback from the destination star. A ship will drop out of warp before being actually pushed back and away from the star system the ship is aiming for.

Notes on conventional engines and the warp:

When in the warp: conventional engines do not work as one might expect. This is because the ship is in a 'reality bubble' floating along in the warp, and while 'bubble' makes it sound like these is an actual physical shield this is not the case. The ship is in effect, inside a very small 'alternate reality'. There is the ship, a bit of dust that came with in the jump (or fell of the ship), and then nothingness. Firing up the engines inside the reality bubble is like firing up the engines in real space. The ship will move - but it will move inside the alternate reality and take the centre of the Geller Field with it. It could travel millions of miles inside that alternate reality and never move outside the Geller Field. The thing that is moving the ship is the warp currents moving the whole 'alternate reality' bubble. In effect the ship just has to sit there and it will be traveling faster than the speed of light.

What is really odd about being inside a Geller Field is that is a little ship breaks off and flies away from the mother ship generating the Geller Field, when it reaches the Geller Field boundary is ceases to exist. It is like flying pass the end of the universe never to be seen again. However, the weird bit is that the ship may on occasion appear on the opposite side. This little freak show means that those in the little ship fly away, only to see 'another' ship which turns out to be the one they just left! (Note: sometimes the reappearing ship has 'guests')

Universe

The whole universe if much like one huge Geller Field inside the warp.

Two Geller Fields: [concept] If two Geller Fields overlap it makes no difference as each field creates its own alternate reality and will disappear from each other (though psyker emission will be seen). One will always fire up a fraction of a second faster than the other. In theory if both fired up at the same time there could cause a rift. If a ship is near another ship that fires up it's Geller Field any part that is within the Geller Filed will go with the ship dropping into the warp first. This can cause catastrophic damage. It can also affect the Geller Fields integrity.

First cut: This means a little ship dropping into the warp next to a big ship would take a chunk with it (think of the film Terminator and how the time bubble disintegrated matter within a sphere). The little ship wouldn't want to do this as it could mess with it's Geller Field due to excessive mass on the boundary of the field. This could cause explosive disintegration of matter that could breech the 'bubble' for a microsecond and fill the Geller Field with boiling plasma! (void shields may actually help in this case!) This is the basis of a 'drop bomb', but Geller Field generators are fantastically expensive and it's a technique that is rarely used (though some Inquisitor and personal Navigator ships have 'over engines' (a form of dual engine) and can jump no matter what - a leaving a big hole is sometimes desirable!).

Warp Tug/ Tractor unit

The 'articulated lorries' of the Imperium, specifically the front tractor unit. These Tugs are owned by the Navigator houses with service agreements with the Adeptus Mechanicus. Each Tug is a built around a phenomenally powerful warp engine, and armed to the teeth with extreme archaeotech fire-power and shielding. Tugs pick up massive cargo containers, from solar-tugs, at the edge of a solar system, hookup, and jump. The whole process is very fast, and the Navigators like to get back into the warp as fast as possible.

This allows the Imperium (through it's contracts with the Navigators), to control almost all interstellar goods traffic. It also ensures these powerful, and precious, warp engines are run near continuously (and not wasted with inter-solar system trips where they would be idle).

The Tug is off limits to virtually all Imperial personnel and citizens (it's like an Embassy - Navigator house 'sovereign' territory). It is heavily defended and trying to board one is an act of treason (and tech heresy according to the Ad-Mec). Deep inside the tug is the Navigator, totally isolated from all human contact, housed within a psi-attuned, warded, spherical chamber. They can spent months, even years, within the heart of their Warp-Tug.

The only others beings entombed with the Navigator are the Tech-Priests.

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