The Ikaran War was a life-or-death struggle waged by the major powers of the Alpha Quadrant against the alien menace known as the Ikarans. As with many of TOS's great events, the historical facts are fiercely debated and may never be entirely clear. This article intends to present a unified picture of what occured.
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The first group in the Alpha Quadrant to make contact with the Ikarans and survive was the crew of the USS Federation under command of Admiral John Falkenberg. The Federation was on a search and rescue mission, trying to locate the deep space scout vessel USS Ulysses, after StarFleet lost contact with the ship. The Ulysses was located adrift in deep space and heavily damaged, its crew having been massacred. Sensor records salvaged from the computers of the Ulysses by the crew of the Federation showed that the ship had encountered an unknown vessel, and surviving log records indicated that members of the crew had begun acting strangely, fighting with each other. The bodies of several crew members were discovered with holes in their skulls, their brains apparently having been removed.
Federation then detected what appeared to be a transport-class vessel approaching. Admiral Falkenberg ordered the ship to red alert, but then became immobilized. As the strange ship continued to approach, Falkenberg, speaking in a strange voice, ordered his crew to lower the shields. His first officer, Commander Chipper Jones, recognized that Falkenberg was under some sort of attack and was not himself, and took command, belaying the Admiral's shield order. At that time, Jones himself was taken over by the Ikarans, as were several other members of the bridge crew, and began to lower the ship's shields and prepare to allow the Ikarans to board. However, the Federation was a much larger ship than the Ulysses with a much larger crew, and apparently the Ikarans were unable to maintain control over so many minds for such a long period of time. Admiral Falkenberg found his mind freed, and he was able to re-raise the shields and order his engineering crew to keep the shields powered regardless of orders from the bridge. Falkenberg and Jones who had also managed to free himself from alien control, sent out a distress call and locked weapons on the Ikaran ship, but were unable to fire.
At that point, USS Excelsior under command of Captain Gavelin Brody, which was in the area also searching for the lost Ulysses, responded to the distress call and appeared on long-range sensors. The Ikarans, already having difficulty maintaining control over the Federation, withdrew before the Excelsior could get in scanning range. USS Federation then completed salvage operations onboard the Ulysses and flew the ship back to Starbase One, where Admiral Falkenberg met with Fleet Admiral Mitch Blackman and the rest of StarFleet Command, to inform them of the new threat.
The Romulans meet the Ikarans
The ChR Valoth was the first Rihannsu vessel to encounter the Ikarans, under the command of Riov Athaorh tr'Mnhaell'hu. While on a routine patrol, the Valoth encountered an Ikaran vessel of unknown class and, as with the crew of the Ulysses before them, were largely subdued by the Ikaran psionic powers. But the Valoth was a larger ship than the Ulysses, and despite running it close to the mark indeed, the Rihannsu ship escaped the Ikaran grasp to get back and warn their commanders that something new was in the sky.
The War begins
Over the next several months, Ikaran attacks were reported across Federation and Romulan space, frequently on remote outposts or colony worlds, and time after time there were no survivors, with the corpses of victims being found with holes in their skulls and no brains. Similar attacks soon began in Romulan space, with several key outposts being destroyed, and three Klingon colonies and a Tholian outpost were soon also destroyed. Romulan Galae vessels were under advisement to avoid battle unless they had a significant advantage, but the Ikarans were able to surprise Galae warships far from port and destroy a fair number. At least temporarily, the Ikarans were difficult to defeat.
Admiral Falkenberg and Captain Brody made finding and confronting the Ikarans a top priority, and StarFleet had repeated encounters with the aliens, moreso than were reported by any other Empire's military, although the Romulans and the Klingons had several clashes with the Ikarans as well. Falkenberg developed a strategy for confronting the Ikarans that could defeat their mind control capabilities, which he called the "Simon Says" plan. Upon the approach of the Ikarans, all StarFleet crew were to ignore orders not preceded by a specially selected code phrase, initially "Simon Says" but later rotated to various other phrases. The idea was that any order not preceded by the selected code phrase would not be valid and would be assumed to be the product of Ikaran mind control.
The Simon Says strategy was effective in that StarFleet lost no more vessels in direct combat with the Ikarans, despite frequent battles. However, they were also unable to score a decisive victory against the aliens, who could immobilize their enemies even when they could not control them. It was also discovered, however, that Vulcan officers were less susceptible to Ikaran mind control, and more capable of reading both the Ikarans' minds and perceiving their true forms. Vulcans were thus stationed aboard all ships involved in the Ikaran pursuit.
Rihannsu do their bit
With Federation - Romulan relations at an extremely low ebb and war seemingly nearing, the two great powers of the Alpha Quadrant were unable to unify against the Ikaran threat for some time. The Romulans thereforce came up with a plan of their own to try and score some victories against the Ikarans. Their own idea, pioneered by Athaorh, was to place the cruiser Valoth under prefix control of the beloved and plucky scout, ChR Llaudh. The plan was for the Valoth to attack Ikaran forces from affair by remote, while the crew of the Llaudh, safe from Ikaran assault, would be able to devote their full energies to battle. The plan seemed sound, but did not succeed.
The Valoth was, individually, a match for the Ikaran ship it faced. However, the Ikaran psionic attacks were more powerful than first realized, and to their considerable surprise the crew of the Llaudh found themselves being affected by the Ikarans despite their considerable distance. The Valoth scored damage but by this time, the Llaudh's crew was unable to continue the mission, and the Romulans were forced to withdraw.
The tide turns
After the four powers had all suffered invididual setbacks in the war, a four-Empire conference was called aboard Starbase One over Earth. In attendance was the leader of the Tholian Hegemony; Emperor K'tohk of the Klingons; Nnavar, the supreme commander of the Romulan military; Jacien, the UFP Council President; and John Falkenberg, who by this time had been promoted to Fleet Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of StarFleet. Falkenberg was the only one present who had personally encountered the Ikarans, and he gave a full report to the conference of his experiences. After lengthy debate, the representatives of the four Empires agreed to share intelligence on the times and locations of Ikaran attacks. Using this information, a pattern was discovered that ultimately was used to backtrack to the Ikarans' artificial wormhole. The Four Empires agreed to combine forces to defeat the Ikaran menace.
It was also discovered that a series of artifacts left behind by an alien race that had once done battle with the Ikarans, and apparently lost, could be used to harness the power of strong psionic minds to create a shield that could protect a large area, perhaps even as large as a ship, from the Ikarans' influence. The Romulans had also acquired a device capable of transporting soembody anywhere in the galaxy, a rare and powerful device that provided an obvious tactical advantage. The teleportation device was installed onboard the newly built Galae flagship, the battleship ChR Ka'joss Llekhi.
Several weeks later, a combined fleet assembled. The Federation sent four ships, and the Klingons, Romulans and Tholians sent two each. By a majority vote of the conference, command of the allied fleet had been given to Fleet Admiral Falkenberg. As it was believed that powerful psionic minds could use the artifacts to protect against Ikaran attacks, Vulcans and Tholians were stationed along with the artifacts aboard the bridge of every ship in the Fleet. The Fleet traveled through the wormhole to the planet Ikar, where they encountered heavy resistance but eventually won the Battle of Ikar.
During the battle, heavy casualties were sustained, with one of the two Romulan ships being completely destroyed. The battle was won when StarFleet Captain Gavelin Brody managed to beam directly to the main Ikaran hive. Apparently, the Ikarans were controlled by a powerful Queen, and when Brody killed her, they were immobilized. With the death of the Queen, Admiral Falkenberg deemed the threat over, and ordered the Fleet back through the wormhole, which had begun to collapse. All surviving ships made it through the wormhole and went their separate ways. After the Battle of Ikar, the Ikarans have not since been heard of in the Alpha Quadrant, leading to optimism that the death of their Queen proved ultimately fatal to the entire race.
Despite the unprecedented cooperation between the four empires, relations soon deteriorated again after the Ikaran War. The Romulans were very proud of themselves for their performance in the war, and valued their contribution highly while looking upon the loss of the Ka'joss Llekhi, the only Alpha Quadrant starship destroyed in the Battle of Ikar, as the result of Admiral Falkenberg's poor leadership. The Federation believed that, as the power which had sent the most resources and led the assault, that they were the Alpha Quadrant's savior and that the loss of the Romulan battleship was due to crew incompetance. Relations again deteriorated, as they are wont to do in the Alpha Quadrant, and nothing, really, changed.