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Wormholes are massive distortions in the space-time continuum, resembling giant spheres. They bend space-time in strange ways that allow matter to go through them and travel to another corner of the Universe. The duration of travel could be shorter (or longer) than the time it would take an object to travel between the two points via standard methods, even if it could reach the speed of light. Consequently, a wormhole has a weak ‘anti-gravitational’ field, pushing away matter rather than pulling it in.

The theory of general relativity states that nothing can exceed the speed of light, and so far this remains true for all the known species. Wormholes allow spaceships to circumvent this rule by forming a path between two locations that is shorter than the path outside of the wormhole. It was once believed that they could not be found naturally, but this has since been proved wrong.

While wormholes have been proven extremely useful for space travel (in fact they are the only known form of travel between star systems within the lifespan of a traveller), they can be very dangerous environments. The twisted space-time and the ‘echo’ effect can cause an inexperienced traveller to become lost, or end up in unexpected places.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, a wormhole is not constant in space. Its size can expand and shrink, its length can vary, and its ‘mouths’ (entrance and exit) can move in space. A wormhole may close upon itself unexpectedly if not kept stable, crushing anything caught too close to it in the same way a black hole would. In fact, an unstable wormhole can turn into a black hole.

Movement

The first concept to understand is that a wormhole is closed space loop. The wormhole is a tunnel without walls, yet if a traveller does not following the direction of the wormhole, that traveller will be moving in circles - even if his ship is in fact trying to move in a straight line. Essentially, aiming in the wrong direction and shooting a missile could lead to shooting oneself.

The bigger problem is that there are no points of reference or any sign of the correct direction to actually move somewhere. Spaceships will navigate a wormhole by sending signals in all directions and waiting for them to circle back - the direction in which the signal does not return is the correct direction of the wormhole. This is a very good system in the smaller parts of the Labyrinth, where it takes only seconds for the signals to return, but some areas of the Labyrinth are so large that the process takes hours or even days.

Still, this method isn’t perfect. When a signal does not come back after waiting for very long, travellers cannot know if it is because it is still travelling through a large loop or if it left the Labyrinth through one of the exits.

Wormhole Combat

Crafty pirates are able to use the characteristics of wormholes against their victims, such as when facing a spaceship with shielding on its front. When engaged by an enemy from the front, the obvious action to take is to shoot straight-on, hoping to cause damage. However, an experienced captain could use the space loop to his advantage, shooting backwards and have the missiles hit the enemy spaceship in its rear. Similar strategies can be used to attack an enemy by surprise, striking from an angle they did not expect.

As the loop affects light, it is possible for one to see several copies of themself in all directions when in a small tunnel. While this can be used to navigate the loop, it can also be used in battle to scare attackers, making it more difficult for them to identify one’s position or the number of allied ships.

Communications

Laws of physics apply as normal inside the wormhole - they just have to bend to the curvature of space and time.

Consequently, the propagation of electromagnetic waves (communication, light, lasers) must follow the curved space. As such, various effects may occur: observers inside the wormhole may see duplicates of themselves when looking in the direction of a loop, and any communication signal would also be duplicated resulting in an ‘echo’ effect.

An experienced navigator, however, can find the right angle to send a signal and bounce it off the curves of the wormhole to make it reach otherwise unreachable spots. This same technique can be used to foil the interception of messages and other forms of communication. This is especially useful when attempting to  communicate in secret between close-by ships, but the distance between colonies is so large that messages sent this way often end up corrupted, distorted, or lost in space loops. It is not rare for a travelling ship to receive signals than have been there for years.

These facts imply that communication between two exits of a wormhole is hard and intermittent at best: the only reliable method is sending a spaceship through with the information in their systems to be downloaded on arrival. This is very taxing and only done when necessary.

However, between two important systems, there is always a spaceship or a fleet full of servers that crosses the wormhole daily or weekly, bringing all the necessary information to the other system. These server ships are highly desired targets of pirates and hackers, and are thus strongly defended or are disguised as civilian ships. But in the most remote systems, like some mining colonies, news can take weeks or even months to arrive, until a spaceship brings them new tools or an empty cargo ship returns from a shipment.

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