Also known as a magnetic fusion drive, or a mega-ion drive.
A staple of high end sci-fi is the replicator or the nano-assembler. There is a much more practical and less technomagical way to achieve the same goal. The exciting thing is that this technology exists now, and we're getting much better at it.
Could come across a band of refugees. Could have been thrown out of their town by a tyrant taking of their land, bought out by somebody unexpectedly, fleeing a battle they know is coming their way. Could be proof of what they are searching for, hints and tips of what is to come, or just to broaden the reality of the world.