Transporters are an energy-intensive way to get matter from one place to another. Depending on the level of technology available, transporters can transport a subject from a transmitting station to a receiving station (station-to-station transport), from a transmitting station to any arbitrary point (station-to-site transport), from an arbitrary point to a receiving station (site-to-station transport) or between two arbitrary points (site-to-site transport).
Currently, technology manufactured by the CIS only allows the first two types of transport: station-to-station and station-to-site. Some technologies compatible with CIS technology can allow site-to-station and site-to-site transport as well, but these technologies are from groups outside the CIS. Of the major powers currently known, only the Hierarchy has mass-produced site-to-site transporters.
The theory of operation for matter transporters in the ShyeMUSH universe is fairly simple in concept, but difficult in practice.
In concept, the subject to be transported has their body scanned with extremely high detail, creating a transport pattern. The subject is then pushed into hyperspace, travels at roughly the speed of light to the destination, and is then pulled back out of hyperspace.
In practice, this form of matter transport works exactly like a starship's hyperspace drive, only on a much smaller scale. Applying Vedihno's theories, the transporter generates a normal space bubble in the Vedihno Boundary around the subject, and stores energy in the bubble for its trip. The bubble then travels through hyperspace, carrying the subject along with it, expending its stored energy along the way to keep it moving. When the bubble reaches its destination, it collapses, depositing the subject in normal space at the destination. The purpose of the transport pattern scan is to allow the transporter to create a bubble of the correct size and energy, and with the right velocity, to match the subject. It also is used as a null signal to ensure the safety of the transport.
There are two basic limiting factors on transporter technology: energy and accuracy.
- Because all of the energy used to create the Vedihno bubble and move it through hyperspace must be applied at the beginning, the total distance a transported subject can travel is limited by how much energy the transporter can supply in a single shot. The mass and size of the subject also affect the amount of energy required for the Vedihno bubble.
- Because the subject has no means of controling its direction while in hyperspace, it is crucial that it be on the correct trajectory at the moment the bubble enters hyperspace. The farther the bubble has to travel, the more it will be affected by quantum uncertainty and the effects of stray energies in the Vedihno Boundary, so the less likely it will arrive exactly where it needs to be. Over short distances, the error is negligible, but the longer the distance, the greater the inaccuracy.
The energy and accuracy considerations are different depending on which of the four types of transport is being used:
Station-to-station transports are the easiest and safest, because the receiving transporter can detect the incoming Vedihno bubble and impart energy to correct any deviation in its course, in effect "catching" it. A good transporter will also attempt to reclaim some of the energy let off when the bubble collapses.
Station-to-site transports do not have a receiving station, so the transporter's "aim" has to be perfect. The subject will leave hyperspace when the energy in its Vedihno bubble runs out, so that energy must be extremely accurate to avoid over- or under-shooting the destination. For example, when transporting a subject from orbit to the surface of a planet in a station-to-site transport, if the subject leaves hyperspace too soon, they will emerge above the ground and fall; whereas if they leave hyperspace too late, they will probably wind up embedded somewhere within the planet's outer crust. More advanced station-to-site transporters will create a distortion in the Vedihno Boundary at the destination site that will force the incoming bubble to collapse, ensuring the subject does not overshoot, but this requires a lot of energy, and it is ineffective if the incoming bubble is off target.
Site-to-station transports are even more difficult, and require much more energy as well. The transporter must generate the Vedihno bubble at a distant point, which requires far more energy than if the bubble were being generated close by. Then it must calculate the amount of energy to bring the subject to the receiving station and transmit that energy to the bubble. Under ideal circumstances this would not be difficult, but background energies in the Vedihno Boundary may interfere and add or subtract to the transmitted energy on its way to the bubble. Again, distance is the major factor: the longer the transport distance, the harder it is for the transporter to get just the right quantity of energy to the bubble.
Site-to-site transports combine the challenges of both station-to-site and site-to-station transports, making them highly risky, especially over longer distances. A site-to-site transport from one point in a starship to another point in the same ship may be relatively safe, for example, but a site-to-site transport from a ship in orbit to the surface of a planet would be highly risky without extremely advanced technology.
As a general rule, transporters are only used in the CIS when more conventional means of transport are not viable. All starships not capable of landing on a planet are equipped with at least one shuttlecraft for moving personnel and goods between sites. Supplies and commercial goods are likewise normally transferred using shuttles or cargo ships. This also applies to the military: personnel are only moved using transporters when using a shuttle would take too long or be too dangerous.
The Srrrylat Hierarchy has more advanced transporter technology, so it tends to use it more frequently, especially in military operations.
It should be noted that a Vedihno bubble in hyperspace is not affected by normal matter, but it is affected by the state of the Vedihno Boundary. As such, it is a relatively simple matter to create artificial distortions in the Vedihno Bounary in order to make incoming transports difficult or impossible. Some rare materials are also known to have an effect on the Vedihno Boundary, so shielding made of those materials will block transports as well.
A more common means of blocking transports is to create sensor-resistant barriers, either through heavy armor or energy shielding. If a transporter cannot detect whether or not its signal arrives safely at the destination, normal safety protocols will stop the transport automatically. The safety protocols can be overridden, but since the intended transport destination cannot be scanned, it is impossible to know if the area is safe and free of obstacles.
While transporters produced by the races of the Zulu Sector use hyperspace concepts, other types of transporters exist. Evidence has been found that the A'rthans had transport technology that used pocket dimensions to transport subjects from place to place with no restriction on the distance between the points. Another A'rthan technology is a transport gate that creates a temporary, stable wormhole connecting the origin and destination, allowing a subject to walk or be pushed through as easily as walking through a doorway.