"One day, this will be our bread basket. The source of all our wealth." - Horace Tiberius Maximus, wealthiest living human in the Directorate (and in known space)
A Matter Forge is the Directorate name for a highly advanced machine which converts energy into matter (and also transforms basic hydrogen molecules into other substances). Most usually, in the Directorate's case, these devices draw on integral fusion reactors for the vast amounts of energy they require, although it is also possible to collect the necessary energy from sufficiently-powerful external sources [such as a star]. These devices see wide employment in both military and civilian applications, but the prohibitive expense of their production and operation limits them to a multitude of niche applications.
A Directorate Matter Forge operates on principles rather similar to current 21st century particle accelerators. Matter and energy are two different forms of the same thing, two sides of a coin, and one can be turned into the other; mass is a property of all energy and energy is a property of all mass. Essentially, a Matter Forge works by accelerating particles at extremely high speeds and smashing them together to create more complex structures, until atoms of hydrogen are "forged". These atoms are then passed onto a second chamber, a component device of the Matter Forge, called a "Furnace". The furnace uses waste energy from the creation of the hydrogen atoms, stored in massive carbon nanotube capacitors, to further bombard the hydrogen atoms with additional protons, neutrons and electrons - converting them into whatever element is desired.
In the DirectorateEdit
Directorate Matter Forges are used in a wide variety of applications. Many rare materials, such as Francium [used in a variety of civilian and military explosives], are almost or completely absent from natural processes and do not occur regularly in the universe, or at least are extremely difficult to find due to their unstable qualities. Matter Forges allow rapid creation of these substances in relatively good time, at vast expenses of energy. These machines may also operate using simple non-isotopic hydrogen gas, skipping the step of actuallly "forging" atoms, and fabricate significant quantities of new materials - although the additional protons, neutrons and electrons required are still made from nuclear reactor energy. Matter Forges are also employed where the supply of a substance from naturally-occuring deposits is inefficient or insufficient. The most notable examples of this would be metals such as platinum [used in almost all wiring as well as a catalyst for fuel cells] or tungsten [used in construction, ammunition, armor plating and other things].
Finally, Matter Forges see perhaps their greatest use in the Directorate military. All but the smallest human warships are equipped with at least one of them, although the size and capabilities vary by the amount of space available. Matter Forges are used by warships to fabricate spare parts and materials, ammunition, components and the like, fed by the huge reservoirs of hydrogen that most ships store and use as fuel. In this way, Directorate warships have access to a virtually unlimited supply of replacement material.
It is believed by most Directorate scientists that Matter Forges - or some Mortis equivalent - form an integral and important part of Mortis technology, much more ubiquitous and developed than any human counterpart. It may also help to explain how the Mortis - hailing from an ancient, dying resource-poor dwarf galaxy with a total star count significantly less than the Directorate's slice of the Milky Way - were able to build such a formidable interstellar civilization and field such a vast army of hyper-advanced, genetically-engineered constructs.