Introduction to Cluster Politics by Dr J. Esckeel, PS
Chapter 7 - Stargates
Civilian traffic of the cluster is absolutely dependent on the massive space borne structures we call stargates. They are essentially single purpose space stations designed to generate a wormhole connected to a single other stargate somewhere else in the cluster, and the power required to generate these wormholes at will at the appropriate location to allow transport to a star ship as large as a battleship or freighter is considerable. Some of the largest stargates have ranges that dwarf the best jump drives and generate enough power for a single wormhole to sustain and entire industrialized planet for a year.
Even military traffic is dependent upon the stargates for moving the cynosaural field generating ships that enable their jump-capable fleet to transverse the distances. Without stargates travel between solar systems would take months in warp ships for the closets neighbours or every system would have to maintain a cyno beacon and be dependent on massive jump drives in their ships, along with the costs associated with them.
While the engineering and science behind the operation of the stargate is very complicated and nearly impossible for a layman to comprehend, the operation itself is fairly straightforward. Stargates are paired which means that each stargate has a quantum lock on to a beacon of another stargate in another system. This lock allows the main wormhole generation computer AIs to coordinate instantaneously despite the vast distances. Since the quantum lock is based on physical components and synchronizing the AIs is very difficult, no stargate can easily establish multiple locks; the effort to decouple a stargate from one system and lock on to another is intensive and takes weeks. In the long term it is simply easier to maintain multiple stargates per system and travel between them.
When a ship wants to travel from one stargate to its pair, what happens is that the stargates simultaneously generate a vacuum energy fluctuation; the local stargate to the ship generates it around the vessel, while the distant stargate generates it on a spot at a safe distance, typically 15 km. The fluctuations at both points are calibrated to identical frequencies across many bands and, through obscure quantum mechanics, allow two space time inversion events to "link up" and create a temporary unidirectional wormhole that sucks the hull in and passes it through safely. The stargate "flash" seen after a transfer is the release of waste radiation energy collected from the inversion event and directed away from stargate personnel (i.e. it is not the particles of the ship in disassembled form and transported across the void; that is ludicrous).
In the four major nation states, the stargates are operated and maintained by personnel from the local government at their expense. Staff stationed on stargates are constantly rotated to prevent any possible local corruption, and stargates are never allowed to deny passage to any civilian vessel in good standing with CONCORD. These terms were negotiated and agreed to at the Yoiul Conference during the formation of CONCORD and were designed to prevent the free exchange of trade between the empires.
With the advent of the nationless capsuleer, this protection was extended. It is unknown at this time if the Jovians still follow the Yoiul protocols in their sovereign space since their withdrawal.
During the major expansions of the empires stargates were built to every possible system within reach of exploration fleets. But as we discussed in previous chapters the empires pulled back from their initial claims to the borders we are familiar with today. The renegade societies that were left behind in their wake formed their own empires and administered the lawless space as their own. The major factions are the Guristas, Serpentis Corporation, Sani Sabik cult, Angel Cartel, and more recently the Sanshas Nation. We will discuss these non-CONCORD signatories in a later chapter.
While these major and some other minor factions were forming, the abandoned stargates were mostly occupied1 by people unwilling to return who saw profit in continuing operating for the new space holders. Since the operation and maintenance of a stargate is not trivial the people living on stargates became at first a separate caste from the local populations and then evolved into unique insulated culture. Eventually clans of stargate populations formed and worked mostly in cooperation with each other.
As the renegade empires began to contend over resources during their expansion, stargate control became a very important part of securing space, and assaulting a stargate population to enforce compliance was a looming possibility.
In order to head off this threat of being used as pieces in territorial wars, the stargate clans unified and informed the empires that they were now neutral in all interactions and would provide access to any ship requesting it. And faction that did not agree to this neutrality would be denied stargate access anywhere in the lawless territories. After a few abortive tests of this resolve four of the factions agreed to the terms feeling that a level playing field was better than having no stargate access at all. The Sansha Nation never formally agreed to the terms but has abode by them in practice anyways.
Today all of the clan controlled stargates2 are visible on galactic maps and allow access to all renegade, CONCORD, empire, and capsuleer vessels.
1 - There are hundreds if not thousands of abandoned dysfunctional stargates throughout the cluster, and an unknown number of secret stargate pairs maintained by smugglers or the various military factions.
2 - This text book was published prior to the activation of the Drone region stargates which were found to be automated operation. The stargate clans equally divided the new stargates and colonized them despite the threat of the rogue drone inhabitants of the systems who seem to leave all stargate craft alone.