Warp gates are massive and mysterious devices which project corridors of stable space-time through the chaotic ur-space of the Drift. A warp gate is created by a single black crystal structure, a vast ring which is effectively consumed in the process. Once the corridor (known as a warp or wormhole) is established, the warp gate manifests in two locations (many light-years apart), each resembling a sphere with a perfectly reflective surface. These spheres are effectively permanent features of space-time, but must be opened by patterning field tuned to the specific harmonics of a specific gate in order for a ship to access the wormhole connecting them. Destroying a warp gate is virtually impossible: functional warp gates have survived immersion in the photosphere of a red giant star (albeit without their attendant satellites).
Between the termini of these artificial wormholes are circular tunnels of rippling silver – again, a perfectly reflective pseudo-surface. The diameter of the tunnel is equal to the diameter of the gates, and the internal length of the wormhole and the tortuousness of corridor is dependent upon the technological sophistication of the builders. In the present era (c.2300) the zerzev are the only Communion species known to be creating new warp gates, but these are often difficult to navigate compared to the smooth, swift passage possible through a Vergence gate.
Warp gates are only viable at specific points in space-time, determined by the hidden geometries of the universe. Finding a site from which a warp gate can be successfully established is a long and challenging task, and once discovered these sites become valuable territory. Most systems that are viable can only support one gate; systems such as Vergence and Jeredar are extremely rare.
Most warp gates have satellite structures which open them when a coded signal is received. These satellites need to be crewed or to be linked to a conscious mind in order to generate the patterning effects that open their gates, so are only found in inhabited or well-travelled space. “Gatekeeper satellites” are often commercial ventures, and sometimes serve a defensive function.
Gates without satellites can only be opened by a ship with rift engines, and only then if the hyper-dimensional structure of the gate is well understood. It can take centuries of study before an Otherly warp gate is understood sufficiently to be opened, if its satellites have been lost.