Silver Age Beyond
The Key is needed for Jump Gate operation
When a ship approaches a jump gate, the Ingress Key to the desired location is inserted into a computer panel, which relays the information to the jump gate in a series of coded transmissions. If the coordinates are correct, the gate opens. The singular nature of each key makes them valued commodities. The measure of a Shofar guildsman is often the number of ingress keys she carries. Ingress keys are a favorite booty of pirates, always seeking new jump roads to plunder.
Only the Shofar ‘Hornblower’ guild know how to make these keys, and they guard the tech fanatically. A "walk” in the vacuum of space (i.e., being thrown out of an airlock) is the usual fate of those who try to bootleg Ingress Keys, threatening Guild Shofar hegemony over the jump roads.
The cost of an Ingress Key varies radically, since they are not for sale. They are given to Shofar who earn them by working their way up the ranks of the guild. Assume that a Shofar has one Ingress Key for each rank he attains past the first (he gets his first Ingress key when he becomes a Chief). These keys hold one jump coordinate each (such as Capital Secundus to another specific system).
Nonetheless, the black market does support a trade in these goods, whether stolen or bootlegged. It would be a lucky day to find a common, single route key (Capital Secundus to a nearby system) for only 3000 units of Imperial Currency. Ingress key traders can smell a client’s desperation from light-years away, and will jack their prices up accordingly. There is obviously no guarantee that a black market key will work or even get the buyer to the promised destination.
Without an Ingress key, it may take hours or days to program the proper jump coordinates into a ship’s computer (a task requiring 18 over the target number successes on a sustained Computers + Mind, check at a difficulty related to TL10). This assumes the rough coordinates are known; most ships do not keep libraries of this data as the Shofar are highly protective of it, since such lore is their bread and butter. They are the exclusive manufacturers of new Ingress Keys, and do not appreciate illegal keys or data files.
Physically, Ingress Keys are small metal cylinders that contain the information for making jumps through jump gates. They have markings denoting their target routes. The key holds a code that when transmitted to a jump gate opens a portal. Not all ships in a fleet need a key, as long as they have jump engines (a secret tech of Ingenium Guild).