The Thaumic Drive, also known as the Magi Drive or Aeterna Drive is a major and effective method of FTL travel. They operate by the use of one or more proficient Magi, which briefly tear open a hole to the Lux Aeterna. Upon opening, spacecraft travel directly through the Aeterna, and are protected by Magi-conjured (or otherwise technologically advanced) shielding. In order to traverse the Aeterna, Thaumic Drives operate in designated Aeterna Lanes, long tunnels of cleared, stable space. Holes to the Aeterna automatically close as a result of instability, leaving behind an explosion of light as ships pass through the Aeterna.
As of the modern day, most Thaumic Drives are superior to average Warp Drives, and are surprisingly safe to use despite its potential dangers. As long as the operators and technology hold together, a trip with a Thaumic Drive may be more safe than one through a Hyperlane. In fact, safety is so emphasized that even a minor accident appears to be one in billions, much like other forms of FTL. The safety and reliability of the Thaumic Drive has given it widespread use all across Via Aylathiya, its birthplace, and beyond. It was first utilized by Sedrua, the nation which laid down the foundations for Thaumic Drive technology. It was later independently developed by the QPA and used the rebel nations after the Great Aylathiya Rebellion.
Magi are the centerpiece for any Thaumic Drive, and are required for the channeling of Aeternal Energy. Mechanical or biological, their primary goal is to allow spacecraft to access the Aeterna. While this can be done with only one (albeit powerful) Magi, two are usually needed to safely open a rift to the Aeterna. One Magi is usually tasked with infiltrating a 'weak point', or an area where the Aeterna and realspace come close together. The first Magi usually tears open a hole to the Aeterna, while the other stabilizes it and allows the spacecraft passage. The larger the spacecraft, the more Magi are needed.
In comparatively modern times, biological Magi are being phased out in favor of more robust and resistant Virtual Magi. Virtual Magi are mechanical constructs that function through the use of an advanced computer network. They are a suitable and rather expendable imitation for so called 'true' Magi, and their careful calculations make them orders of magnitude more precise. Only one Virtual Magi is needed when conjuring and stabilizing a rift to the Aeterna, though two of them may be used for an additional layer of safety. The sheer cost of constructing Virtual Magi and a Faux Pylon has caused many people to opt for the less expensive option, but they are still widely accepted.
Rifts, as mentioned, are created when a Magi operator tears open a "weak point". They are always unstable and violent, requiring immediate stabilization lest a spacecraft be unexpectedly consumed by the Aeterna's fire. Stabilization of rifts is surprisingly practical, at least for a short time span. Most Magi who operate Thaumic Drives are capable of stabilizing a rift for approximately one minute, which is more than enough time for most light craft to go through. For larger vessels, more Magi are needed to create and stabilize rifts. Sometimes, stabilization technology (almost always a Reality Anchor) is available for stabilizing rifts, making the job of a Magi easier. When stabilization is deemed complete, spacecraft enter the Aeterna. The rifts which are left behind serve their purpose, and they are left to de-stabilize and eventually collapse in a flash of light.
Spacecraft are not safe in the Aeterna without proper shielding. Without it, ships slowly dissolve as they are subject to the Aeterna's forces. This is one of the most well known risks when operating a Thaumic Drive. There are two layers to protection to all ships with a Thaumic Drive, which include a Magi and a Reality Anchor. Magi act as an intermediary between the Aeterna and the vessel itself, protecting the ship from its relentless forces. Several experienced Magi usually enter a rotation of sorts, intensely focusing on keeping the ship safe while maintaining the structure of their Pylon. A Reality Anchor serves much the same purpose, ensuring that none of the ship is being exposed to the Aeterna.
To traverse the Aeterna, spacecraft follow approved Aeterna Lanes, "stable" routes of the Lux Aeterna that are constantly maintained. Aeterna Lanes are relatively delicate, and require constant surveillance by Reality Anchors in order to remain open. As such, navigating the Aeterna is taken with extreme caution, and is recognized as the most difficult part of using a Thaumic Drive. However, there have been few major accidents in the history of Thaumic Drives, making them generally as safe as other FTL methods. Furthermore, Aeterna Lanes are versatile, branching off into various off-roads and shortcuts. Traveling via these alternate routes can sometimes shave days or even weeks off a voyage.
While similar methods of FTL have been manufactured since antiquity, the modern Thaumic Drive stems from a Sedruan invention. It was patented by the Sedruan Government in 126,428 BCE, following the foundation of the nation itself. Its common citizens, the Bahattes, were given early version of the Thaumic Drive to traverse short interstellar distances. The Sacred Sedruan Gates was predominantly used for large-scale travel, making the Thaumic Drive a useful mediator for distances in between. But decades after, the Bahattes were permitted to freely travel with the Thaumic Drive during 126,394 BCE. What followed was a great age of expansion, development and exploration for Sedrua, which would foster a mindset of conquest.
The Thaumic Drive would slowly develop as Sedrua took over Aylathiya. The nation made quick work of the United Provinces and its sister nation during a devastating war, giving it free reign over much of the galaxy. Further colonization and development gave way to the discovery of new species, which Sedrua uplifted in the 113,000s. They were granted the Thaumic Drive and the freedom of travel, promising the juvenile nations of a future amongst the stars.
As Sedrua progressed, it came to face its largest disaster to date. Following Mother Sydiah's attempt to revive the Angelic Pantheon in 104,930 BCE, her nation was plunged into chaos. Great turmoil spread across all Sedruan domains, with Sedrua's vassals receiving much of the worst. Tens of thousands of years were squandered as Sedrua hopelessly tried to reclaim its seat on Aylathiya's throne. In this period, Sedrua did nothing but shrink and abandon its territory. other powers formed in Sedrua's wake, with one of them, the Payotari Alliance, gaining great expertise in the Aeterna. It manufactured its own version of the Thaumic Drive, which allowed the newborn nation to quickly gain dominance across the stars. Sedrua's regression became painfully apparent from there.
Sedrua was but a shell of its former self by the 15,000s BCE. It lost war after war, sacrificing its territory and power for needless conflicts. An overwhelming majority of people thought Sedrua would never return, pummeling the weakened and corrupt government even further. Eventually, Sedrua became negligent of its own vassals. Supplies were hardly given as shaky and greedy bureaus simultaneously demanded more resources. It simply didn't happen however, especially regarding aging Sedruan infrastructure. The Thaumic Drive was hardly as useful as it once was, being outshined by Triumvirate technology. This period of unending depression was broken as Sedruan vassals eventually rebelled in 11,691 BCE.
During this period of gritty warfare, the Thaumic Drive was extensively modified by rebels, leading to its first developments in eons. The insurgent states became nimble, and the former's aging military was unable to compete. Upon the crescendo of the rebellion, Sedrua locked itself away, isolating in the Suvaren Cloud after all hope was lost. Its leaders were left to pick up the pieces of a shattered nation, while the rebels built their foundations relatively quickly. In the period of reconstruction, the new Thaumic Drive was extensively used for recolonization and reconstruction.
Developments stagnated as the years turned into centuries. Sedrua's former subjects completely rebuilt themselves, and harbored extensive plans for expansion and diplomacy. It was the Thaumic Drive which mediated this, as it had for all of their history. More time went on however, and the juvenile nations became far too comfortable in their hostile environments. A nation well aligned with Sedrua, the Diunity of Peleunsk, perceived this comfort as toxicity. They saw with great envy as the other children of Sedrua came together, something which nearly thwarted the Diunity's plans of expansion. It was upon 9,284 BCE when they captured the Resonant Divinity, a priceless Angelic Artifact that even Sedrua could not wrangle.
What followed was a tense age of conquest for the Diunity. Nations watched in fear as the Diunity advanced their territory and technology at blistering speeds. Their Thaumic Drives eventually became the most prestigious across Aylathiya, giving them a much needed advantage in speed. As a result, an arms race ensued between the Diunity and its neighboring nation, Lowyzol. The Diunity was projected to be the next galactic superpower, as its latent potential mimicked that of Sedrua and the Triumvirate. Not wanting to repeat ages of corruption, Lowyzol pre-emptively declared war against the Diunity.