Technology of the Week Features
The inverter has two components. One is a large, fixed mechanism in the base of a group of Rutian terrorists, and the other is a control device worn by individual terrorists. The system allows the terrorist to teleport through subspace, with the wearer of the control device apparently guiding himself or herself to the desired destination. The process is harmful to users, who sustain cumulative cellular damage with repeated use of the system.
In the episode, users of the system could not easily be tracked by Federation sensors, although the crew of the Enterprise was eventually able determine the location of the central mechanism in the Rutian base. Federation transporters could not lock on to terrorists wearing the inverter control devices, indicating that they also have a transport inhibitor effect, which is probably incidental to their operation, not a design feature. The inhibitor effect lingers, which is shown not only by being unable to lock onto personnel who had used the devices, but also objects -- specifically a bomb -- that had been carried through the inverter process. In order to beam the bomb away from the warp core, Geordi was forced to attach his communicator to it.
The range of the system is not clearly specified, but Rutian terrorists were able to use it to board the USS Enterprise in orbit over the planet.