The staple of interstellar travel within Palioxis, the Quantum Shift Drive, is the most prevalent form of faster-than-light propulsion within the realm. The fastest and most effective form of shipboard superluminal travel ever invented. Colloquially known as the Ascension Drive, this form of stellar travel exceeds the velocity of light by a factor larger than tens of thousands. Referred to as the peak of technological advancement, the Quantum Shift Drive has revolutionized Palioxis in its entirety.
Rather than directly bringing a ship to faster-than-light velocities, Ascension Drives make use of the Ascension Plane. As the aforementioned realm is built directly atop Palioxis, the coordinates of the two directly correspond, allowing for precise interstellar travel through either manually or automatically defined courses, reshaping centuries of travel into hours or days.
Ascension Plane travel, however, is hindered by the presence of gravity-shadows, metaphysical areas of space-time forged by the gravity wells of large celestial bodies that, upon contact, decimate the vessel. These phenomena necessitate the creation of predefined routes in the Ascension Plane, known as "Starlanes," through which most starships automatically travel. The speed of a vessel within the Ascension Plane is defined by the Quantum Shift Drive's potential and is in a continuously fixed state.
Design & Capabilities
Quantum Shift Drives require constant care and complex knowledge of navigation, discouraging some people from using them. That's where the Shift-Gates come in; vast structures in outer space, which lead to a specific destination, most often a large population center. Most type-3 civilizations of Palioxis have constructed tens, if not, hundreds of thousands of these gates, all interconnected to major population centers in a complex system resembling a web. While Shift-Gates are immense cosmic structures, they do not meet the official criteria to be classified as a megastrcuture, spanning a hundred kilometers on average, far less than the requirements.
Shift-Gates operate in a different manner to regular Quantum Shift Drives; they utilize long-lasting, artificial three-dimensional pathways through four-dimensional space, which link Palioxis to the Ascension Plane. Shift-Gates are power-hungry devices, so much so that they need around a quarter of the energy output of an average star to be properly sustained, though this tends to vary with location and size. Furthermore, shift-gates require cooling down every hour so as to not overload the complex circuits. When overloaded, the Shift-Gate can erupt into a dazzling yet fatal lightshow of annihilation that can transcend interstellar depths.