Quantum Slipstream Drive
Created by Captain Tim Williams on Fri Oct 6th, 2017 @ 3:46pm
The quantum slipstream drive is an advanced form of propulsion technology, first encountered by the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, which has the capability of exceeding a starship's maximum warp factor by an unprecedented degree. Similar in principle to the transwarp technology utilized by the Borg, it was originally developed by a Delta Quadrant race designated by the Borg as "Species 116" before being backwards-engineered by the brilliant minds of Starfleet's Corps of Engineers.
The quantum slipstream drive operates by routing energy through the vessel's main deflector, which then focusses a quantum field, allowing the vessel to penetrate the slipstream barrier. Generating slipstream corridors requires more processing power than forming warp fields; the computational power required is directly related to the geometry of the bow of a vessel, moreso than the overall geometry, resulting in a trend that starships capable of utilising the drive having narrow and compact frames with aerodynamic lines.
In order to maintain the slipstream, the phase variance of the quantum field has to be constnatly adjusted or the slipstream would collapes, violently throwing the ship back into normal space. Starfleet vessels fitted with the technology must also have powerful, dedicated computers installed which focus solely on providing predictive and real-time updates to the phase variance of the field as doing so manually has proven a futile task for trips longer than a few seconds.
Starfleet's quantum slipstream drive uses benamite crystals to power its matrix. These crystals are rare, unstable and extremely difficult to synthesise. Even with all the efforts of Starfleet's Corps of Engineers, the supply of benamite crystals given to each ship with the drive has only a finite use, as the crystals are in a constant state of decay; a problem which is only exacerbated by the crystal's use. Starfleet's supply of these crystals is limited, and so Starship Captains are under orders to ration the use of the drive, as they will not receive any more crystals before the vessel's next resupply period unless a new supply is found.
On the Highlander, the Quantum Slipstream Drive is integrated into the ship's power systems and navigational deflector array. The drive is inactive when warp power is in use, and serves as a hot replacement when the drive is brought online; preventing any mistakes occurring in any attempted use of both warp and slipstream drives at once. To handle the increased power consumption, the Highlander's deflector array was upgraded to a new design specifically manufactured to endure the rigors of slipstream travel. In addition to having the required dedicated computer core installed, the ship's structural integrity field was also upgraded. The ship is under orders to return to suitable dry dock facilities every year to undergo a full inspection whilst Starfleet continue to assess the long-term effects on a ship's usage of slipstream travel.
Starfleet has marked quantum slipstream drive technology as classified, and as such additional security procedures are in place around the Highlander's engineering sections. Whilst all members of the crew have received clearance to operate in the vicinity of the drive, only the ship's senior staff and senior engineering personnel have full clearance to the details specifications of the drive. Whilst Starfleet fully expects other powers in the Alpha Quadrant to become aware of the existence of the drive, it is considered of paramount importance that the specifications not be allowed to pass into the hands of non-Starfleet personnel.