Potter's Field Anomaly

Kelterre Sector, Alpha Quadrant

The Potter’s Field Anomaly is a large anomaly in the center of the Kelterre Sector, with unique power-absorbing effects. Spanning over five lightyears on its longest axis, the anomaly poses a severe hazard to ships traveling through the area.

Physical Effects

The Potter’s Field Anomaly exists solely in normal space, with minimal if any presence in subspace. As a consequence, the field is essentially undetectable by long range sensors, particular those of ships traveling at warp. It is possible for an object or signal traveling via subspace such as warp drive or standard subspace FTL communications which originates outside the anomaly to pass directly through to a destination on the opposite side.

Problems occur when an object enters normal space within the anomaly - or crosses into the anomaly in normal space through a boundary. The anomaly exhibits an extremely powerful energy drain, similar in nature to a Tyken’s Rift, but significantly more rapid. The drain is capable of outpacing the energy-generating capacity of the average starship warp core within a matter of seconds, with time to total systems failure dependent on battery capacity, but no more than a matter of minutes.

The situation for a ship within the anomaly is complicated by the impossibility of forming a new subspace field (or warp field) from inside. The practical result is that any vessel which drops out of warp within the field will be unable to return to warp and – unless lucky enough to be within an extremely short sublight flight of the field boundary – unable to escape before losing all power.

An additional noteworthy effect is that the anomaly’s boundary, specifically, serves as an opaque separation between “outside” and “inside” the field. While the boundary is not physically solid, it does exhibit an even more thorough and instantaneous energy absorption rate, preventing scans, signals, and even light from passing through.

A single possible countermeasure to the anomaly’s effects has been developed by Starfleet, which involves generating a static warp shell prior to entering the field. By enclosing the vessel in a subspace field of sufficient magnitude, it becomes possible to pass through the field - as one would if traveling at warp - while maintaining sublight speed and the ability to interact with objects in normal space. This method has significant limitations - the power requirement for such a shell is enormous, limiting the usefulness to only larger or otherwise specially prepared vessels; further, utilizing the warp field in this way precludes actual FTL travel, limiting the effective range of any mission within the field.

A second, possibly more effective, countermeasure leveraging the unique nature of Romulan singularity cores has been theorized but not extensively tested.

OOC In plain language:
  1. In normal space (read: not warp) there is an energy drain so powerful that it outpaces the power generation capacity of warp cores/reactors. How long a ship can survive inside the field is directly proportional to the size of their generators and energy reserve/batteries, though these benefits are only on a scale of seconds-to-minutes. Smaller ships should only last a few seconds, while even the largest ships cannot maintain power for more than a few minutes.

  2. Using subspace (ie. being at warp, or sending FTL communications) you can pass right through the field without ever knowing it’s there, as long as you start and end outside. It’s only a navigation hazard for people who care about safety. Plenty of locals fly through it at warp with no ill effects. It’s just that if you have to stop for any reason, you’re probably dead because you can’t get back to warp and you’d likely be too far from the edge to escape on impulse/inertia.

    2A. Ships that know in advance they will be entering the field can generate a static warp shell, which will significantly slow the energy drain and allow ~40-60 minutes of near-normal operation while inside. The total lack of emissions (including light) still makes scanning difficult, and trips inside must still be limited to within impulse range of the boundary. This can’t be done unless established before entering, and cannot be combined with warp travel.

  3. There is a distinct inside/outside boundary which causes some extra effects. Signals, scans, etc. (even the ones that can otherwise pass through) are treated as either “inside” or “outside”, but never both. Two ships inside could talk to/detect each other, but neither could talk to/detect a third ship outside. The third ship can’t see the other two, unless it pokes its head inside the field.

Impact to Navigation

The Federation has issued a travel advisory for all Starfleet and civilian traffic to route around the Potter’s Field Anomaly. It is recommended that warp travel through the anomaly be avoided if at all possible, as any failure within its boundary would result in almost certain death with no hope of rescue. While the powers of the Khitomer Alliance typically adhere to this guidance, some local powers and independent vessel operators in the area choose to take the risk instead.

The size and positioning of the Potter’s Field Anomaly within the Kelterre Sector have created a bottleneck of sorts for local traffic. A narrow corridor between the Potter’s Field and the Renovamen Cluster is the only path between certain systems for a vessel to avoid potentially significant delays. In particular, shipping to and from the commercially active New Circini System often passes through this corridor. As a result, the area is simultaneously a hotbed for local piracy and heavily patrolled by Starfleet and other authorities.

Recent History

The field was first discovered by the Federation [1] in 2416 when the USS Myanmar, investigating the disappearance of a group of science probes, accidentally entered the anomaly. Luckily, Myanmar was close enough to the anomaly’s boundary to escape using only impulse engines and inertia. A return trip [2] by the USS Asimov resulted in the first mapping of the anomaly’s exterior boundary. A set of warning buoys were deployed and an official travel advisory [3] was issued.

Surveys of the anomaly’s interior were deemed too dangerous, so research shifted instead to developing methods to counteract the field’s energy drain. This research [4] and subsequent field testing [5] provided a great deal of insight into the mechanics of the anomaly. The static warp shell method was later used to conduct a partial survey of the anomaly’s interior [6].

  1. Initial Encounter AAR
  2. Boundary Mapping
  3. Federation Travel Advisory
  4. Countermeasure Research Report
  5. Boundary Effects Testing
  6. Anomaly Interior Survey