The Quantum Shift Drive, abbreviated as QSD and oftentimes called Hyperdrive, is an ancient, cutting-edge faster-than-light propulsion engine used primarily by Singularia, Anixides' Throne and several other advanced nations of the Palioxis Starfield for effective interstellar travel. As an outcome, the Quantum Shift Drive has played a crucial role in shaping the society, trade, politics, and war of the Palioxis Starfield.
The Quantum Shift Drive operates by propelling a spacecraft into the Ascension Plane while maintaining the vessel's mass and energy profile. The spaceship then travels along a manually or automatically set trajectory until it reaches its target and returns to the Palioxis Starfield. The Quantum Shift Drive can only be used in the Palioxis Starfield since the Ascension Plane, a sub-plane of the Palioxis Starfield, can only be accessed in it's 'parent' plane.
Ascension Plane Travel
To enter the Ascension Plane, a starship pilot would have to select a logged world with the use of the navigational computer. This on-board computer would then-on automatically input the coordinates into the Quantum Shift Drive. In some cases, the pilot has to manually input coordinates throughout the navigational computer, as to reach uncharted worlds or a highly specific point in space.
If the ship is outside the gravity of a large celestial body, the process of an Ascension Plane jump would begin with small amounts of Ehantom Energy being collected be collected with the use of the numerous Phantom Collectors. Then on, the Quantum Motivator would use many kilometers of charge planes, effect channels, or looping superconducting wire deep within the spaceship to alter the gathered energy in a fusion generator. This process also requires antimatter to help modify the energy. The Quantum Shift Drive's Ascension Initiators would supply energy to the motivator's energization chamber to spark ignition, which would unleash the energy via the engines. The energy discharge would produce disturbances in the space-time continuum, allowing the ship to thrust itself into the Ascension Plane by riding on these generated ripples.
A starship enters the Quantum Shift Drive as a fixed speed, which is based on the Class of the Quantum Shift Drive and the initial power supplied to the drive in its charging up state. While its speed is not able to be increased, it can be significantly decreased when one disables the safety measures of the Quantum Shift Drive, though this is extremely dangerous.
A starship is only able to stay in the Ascension Plane for two hours, before automatically pulled out of it by the Quantum Shift Drive's safety systems. The reason for that is the heavy damage matter from Palioxis Starfield can suffer from, if exposed to the environment of the Ascension Plane. This makes longer journeys need multiple jumps to complete the voyage.
The practice of flying into one of a neutron star's or white dwarf's high-energy relativistic jets using a Quantum Shift Drive is known as Neutron Supercharging. This enables a spacecraft to take in exotic particles that interface with its Quantum Shift Drive to boost its top speed. Neutron Supercharging from a white dwarf increases speed by 50%, whereas doing it from a neutron star increases speed by 100%, virtually doubling a ship's speed in a single trip.
The ship's Quantum Shift Drive will be harmed by Neutron Supercharging, thus it is not encouraged. Approaching the jet will make it more difficult to manage the spacecraft since the jet's magnetic forces will gradually push on it. Larger ships with more mass are more resistant to the magnetic forces of the jet and might be easier to control throughout the process.
Neutron Highways, which are mapped independently, may be utilized to travel long distances at high speeds. These routes generally entail using the supercharge gained at one neutron star to jump immediately to another system with a neutron star or close to one, and then chaining supercharged leaps practically forever until the target is reached, assuming the pilot's Quantum Shift Drive is kept repaired.
The ship, crew, and cargo are all shielded from being squashed by the enormous velocity of the initial jump by the central gravitational field generator. An Ascension Field Stabilizer helps stabilize the vessel in the Ascension Plane and prevents it from prematurely emerging from the alternate plane, which can happen without one. All Quantum Shift Drives include Dilation Shielding to protect them from the severe effects of time dilation in the Ascension Plane. Quantum Shift Drives employ an overheat failsafe device to avoid overheating.
A Quantum Shift Drive can only initiate a jump into the Ascension Plane after it is out of the gravitational influence of a large astronomical body. Small Warp Drives implanted within the spaceship are used to relieve the starship from a body's gravitational attraction before it can leap. Quantum Shift Drives include an integrated protection system that cuts out the drive when a gravity well is detected on the navigational path. Engineers have utilized the safeguard system to create artificial gravity wells to either draw starships out of the Ascension Plane or prevent them from withdrawing into the Ascension Plane, avoiding a crash in the event of a navigational failure. This approach, of course, necessitates either knowledge of a starship's travel schedule or proximity to a well-traveled Ascension Plane route. The failsafe can be circumvented in some Quantum Shift Drive models, although this has been known to result in disastrous results.
While entering the Ascension Plane, a spaceship would be be traveling at such high speeds that time dilation will be noticeable. Furthermore, time dilation is much more severe in the Ascension Plane, with a hour in the Ascension Plane without dilation shielding potentially taking a thousand years in the real universe. The VMC Void Beam, for instance, traversed five thousand years into the future in only two hours. The sabotage and removal of the dilation shield was owing to this strange phenomenon.
A spacecraft is able to protect itself and it's crew from time dilation with a dilation shield, an advanced component of every constructed Quantum Shift Drive. A dilation shield effectively utilizes various advanced and artificially produced particles to stop the curvature in a way for time dilation to have no effect while gravitational attraction still takes place. As the space-time fabric of the Ascension Plane is fairly similar to that of Palioxis Starfield, dilation shields have the ability to operate within this mysterious plane of existence.
Travel with a faulty dilation shield is plausible, with minimal to no time dilation actually happening with a moderately faulty dilation shield. Only a nonexistent or a near-broken dilation shield could have serious time dilation. The ship's onboard computers will automatically disengage the Quantum Shift Drive if the dilation shield is operating below 25% capacity.
Mass Gravity Sensor
Ascension Field Stabilizer
A Quantum Shift Drive's superluminal speed is measured on a reverse scale: the faster the Quantum Shift Drive, the lower the rating. These classifications, referred to as Classes, provide a fast, albeit sometimes inaccurate, estimate of a ship's Quantum Shift Drive speed. For a given base travel time of 10 ly/s, the Quantum Shift Drive class serves as a multiplier. Thus, a Class 4 Quantum Shift Drive takes fourfold the base time to travel a given route, while a more expensive Class 2.0 takes only twice the base time.
Currently, most militaries equip their spacecraft with either Class 1 or Class 2 Quantum Shift Drives. Quantum Shift Drives of Class 2 or 3 are commonplace on industrial freighters and haulers, while civilian starships have Class 3 or higher. Many ships possess backup Quantum Shift Drives that are significantly less powerful than their primary Quantum Shift Drives.
Although tampering with the generally stable technology of a Quantum Shift Drive is considered a risky and dangerous activity, some starships have undergone black market modifications to achieve ratings that are below Class 1. A prominent example of this is the Phantom Dragonfly, a Venixen model starfighter owned by the famous Human mercenary of Tybus Corell. The Phantom Dragonfly reached a rating of Class 0.5 after several illegal modifications had been made to it's Quantum Shift Drive.