The arms of the teleporter began to spin, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a gyroscope. The massive orange construction was almost one-of-a-kind, an experimental building designed to move large amounts of matter instantaneously from one place to another. Of course, this was already possible - large biometaloids distorted the fabric of space-time, allowing a WORM-drive to punch a hole between them - but the technology required to create and use such a wormhole was large and fixed to the surface; the holes created by WORM-drives were notoriously unstable, and attempting to use one without activating the biometaloid's wormhole generator could prove catastrophic. Unfortunately, neither human nor Scion had ever managed to create a wormhole generator themselves, instead relying on the technology created by the Cthonians. To further complicate matters, only two wormhole generators were known to exist - one in the human solar system, orbiting Sol beyond Pluto and the Kuiper belt, and the other in the Scion system half-way across the galaxy, orbiting the large warm star way out beyond the ice planet Bane - which effectively meant the wormhole technology could only be used to travel point-to-point between these two locations, using one biometaloid as an entrance point and the other as the exit.

The teleporter currently powering up on the surface of Sol's biometaloid, however, was part of a different story entirely.

The biometaloid orbiting Sol had been dubbed the Dark Planet, an awful early-21st Century cliché, since it had not yet officially been discovered and the astronomers on Earth had no knowledge of its existence. They had no knowledge of the ISDF either, or the Scions, or biometal. But the ignorance of the human race as a whole was what kept them safe from whatever may have been lurking out there in the wider fringes of the galaxy.

A small team of scientists from the ISDF - the International Space Defence Force, humanity's first and last line of defence against any extrasolar threat to humanity - had recently uncovered a massive cave entwork deep beneath the planet's surface. Inside, a new form of biometal had been discovered - Strain II, also referred to as bbiometallic lattice. These crystals had proven extremely valuable to the ISDF both as a resource and a source of power, and so they had been mined in earnest. In fact, so many crystals were mined that the tug pilots were unable to keep up, and the commander-in-chief of the AED - the research division operating on the planet - had requested assistance from the ISDF's large and top-secret base on Pluto, Cerberus.

Instead of simply sending another detachment of tug pilots, as the commander had expected, he had been issued with a single constructor, pre-programmed with the blueprints to the teleportals. Two had been constructed, one topside and one deep within the mines. And now it was time for them to be tested.

Such teleporters had been tested before, of course - despite being prototypes, any new technology developed by the ISDF underwent rigorous testing before being released for use. These teleporters, however, were a different story. While the main ISDF research facilities on Mars and Titan struggled to teleport anything more than a simple biometal slug more than a few metres, the facility on Cerberus was far ahead of them. They had been able to successfully transport not only large amounts of biometal, but also anything in contact with that biometal. Fortunately, biometal had the unique ability to hover when the correct electrical current was applied to it - and it was this phenomenon that the teleporters developed by the Cerberus team relied on.

Lieutennant-Commander Mark Watson knew how they worked in theory - in order to be attached to the Archaeological and Explorative Division, he had to undergo basic training in biometal theorty, something relatively few members of the military units got. Most were simply trained in the use of the technology, but Watson was one of the priveliged few who knew how it worked - or so he liked to think. There were, of course, those who understood the technology far better than he.

Simply put, to make a lump of biometal hover, one must apply an electrical current across it. When regulated properly, this current would cause a rearrangement of the subatomic particles in the synthetic substance, enabling a phenomenon known as gravitational resonance to occur. This reversed the gravitational polarity of the biometal, allowing it to push itself away from nearby objects - whilst not strong enough to cause it to shoot off uncontrollably into space, or to deflect incoming objects, it was certainly - depending on the current and frequency - enough to cause the object to float upward a few feet or so. The whole interaction had never been observed in any other material before or since - and the most widely accepted theory amongst the scientists in the ISDF was that it was due to exotic matter contained in the fabric of the biometal itself. Unfortunately, its presence also prevented biometal from being manufactured, which meant the entire ISDF had to rely on resources scavenged from other sources - enemy units destroyed in battle, for example, or mined from deposits scattered around certain planets. The origins of such deposits were unclear - none had yet been discovered on Earth, and those on planets in the inner solar system were relatively few. The asteroid belt, however, held an abundance of biometal-rich bodies, each only a few kilometres across. These asteroids - the remains of the Cthonian home planet Icarus, which had been destroyed by a cataclysm of their own creation - were more than enough to fuel the ISDF for now.

When reversed, the same process which allowed biometal to hover could energise it to incredible levels. Watson knew that the spinning arms of the teleporter before him, for example, were charged to millions of terravolts, creating a spinning vortex of forces that could rip apart anything within it. While this vortex was charging, it was incredibly dangerous - anything that found itself trapped within the arms would be torn into its constituent gaseous atoms, after which the atos would be rendered a nucleic plasma, their electrons stripped by the incredible amounts of electricity coursing through the arms.

The singularity before him settled into a single point of pure darkness, distorting the light that passed through it. Arcs of electricity still crackled through the air, the arms beginning to discharge through the ionised gas into the small pylon in the centre of the ring a few feet below the singularity. Watson knew that in a few moments, the singularity would collapse, and that he had to pass through soon.

Massive amounts of energy were required to sustain a miniature black hole like this - amounts inconceiveable to the human mind. Fortunately, this technology was made possible by the very discovery that was sitting just under a kilometre beneath Watson's tank - Strain III Biometal.

The crystals could be used to generate electricity in the same way as any other abttery. After being purified, they could be passed through a dissociation generator, and whilst Watson did not understand the specifics (he had damn near failed Chemistry at high school), he knew that this set up a sustainable electrochemical reaction inside them, allowing a number of crystals in parallel to create the incredible amounts of power required to create and maintain the singularity before him. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the throttle lever of his Sabre forward, screwing his eyes shut and gritting his teeth as he prepared to impact the teleporter's spinning arms.

-* Thirteen weeks later *-

Watson felt the now familiar pull as the teleporter before him wrenched the Sabre from his control, pulling it towards itself before it disappeared from view completely. The effect had been disorienting - even frightening - the first few times, but even though he was used to it, it still made his stomach lurch a little every time.

The world reappeared around him - a large network of caves winding through the blue rock hundreds of metres from where he had been only a moment ago. He pressed onwards, heading for the small mining facility he was stationed at.