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Romulan Attack

Universe : Prime Timeline

The Earth-Romulan war fought in the 2160's was a brutal affair. The technology of the time allowed no quarter to be given, no visual communication between the two sides. At the end of the war a neutral zone was established between the two which neither side was allowed to send ships into for any reason whatever. For a century, neither side violated this treaty.

In 2266 the Federation began receiving distress calls from the outposts along the Neutral Zone. The USS Enterprise rushed to investigate, but by the time it was within sensor range three of the outposts had been destroyed and outpost 4 reported itself under attack. The outpost reported that an unknown vessel had fired a single plasma discharge of fantastic power, inflicting heavy damage on the outpost even though it was buried under more than a mile of solid iron and had full deflector shields in place. The ship had vanished from view after the attack, even though sensors showed it still in the area. The outpost relayed images to the Enterprise showing the vessel appearing from behind some form of invisibility screen and firing again, disintegrating the outpost entirely.

The Enterprise was able to fix a rough location of the alien vessel on its motion sensors, but had no visible target to aim at. Invisibility had long been theorized as possible via the selective bending of light, but the power cost was considered to be enormous. Captain Kirk followed the ship, maintaining constant distance and position in order to create the impression of a false sensor echo. When the vessel made a transmission to its home base Spock was able to lock in on the signal and gain an image of the ships bridge. Startlingly the crew appeared to be an offshoot of the Vulcan race!

Analysis of the alien weapon indicated that it was an enveloping plasma field which forced an implosion. Cast rodinium from outpost 4, the hardest substance known to Federation science, was rendered so brittle in the detonation that Spock was able to break it in his hand. The Enterprise did have some advantages, however. The Romulan power system was simple impulse, making it significantly slower than the Enterprise. It also had limited range due to its enormous power consumption.

As the alien ship headed for a nearby magnitude 7 comet, Kirk attempted to swing around and catch it when it emerged from the other side, hoping the tail would make it visible enough to target. The Romulan commander avoided the trap by doubling back on his course, attempting to evade the Enterprise altogether. Kirk laid down a pattern of proximity phaser blasts in an attempt to damage the Romulan ship by pure luck, but was unsuccessful. When the Starship's phasers malfunctioned the Romulan commander fired a plasma bolt on the Enterprise. The ship was unable to detonate it with phasers unavailable, but did succeed in outrunning it sufficiently to diminish the impact greatly.

Kirk then engaged the Romulan again, attempting to destroy the ship before it crossed into the Neutral zone. The Romulans dumped debris overboard then stopped their ship and shut down all emissions to make Kirk think they had been destroyed. Kirk responded by playing a waiting game, shutting down his own systems and holding position. After nearly ten hours the deadlock was broken when the Enterprise accidentally transmitted a signal whilst repairing its malfunctioning phaser systems. They managed to damage the Romulan ship as it moved towards them, but the Romulan commander dumped more debris - this time with a nuclear warhead hidden within it. The Enterprise detonated the device less than 100 metres away from the hull, causing significant casualties and damage.

Kirk played dead, hoping to lure the Romulan commander in so that he could launch a further attack. The plan succeeded, although the Enterprise phaser systems malfunctioned yet again as the Romulan moved to finish the Starship off. Commander Spock was able to enter a phaser control room which was flooded with toxic coolant gas and fire the phasers, crippling the Romulan vessel before it could fire itself. Although Kirk offered to take prisoners, the Romulan commander destroyed his ship rather than face capture.

With the Romulan flagship defeated in battle, the Romulans appear to have given up their plans for war with the Federation. Their alliance with the Klingons came shortly after this incident, and may have been an attempt by the Romulans to boost their military strength after this defeat.1

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 TOS 1 Balance of Terror
Series : TOS Season 1 (Disc 4)
Episode : Balance of Terror

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 25,940 Last updated : 15 Dec 2003