The Inconnu Expanse is a non-aligned region of space bordered by the Tzenkethi Coalition, the Breen Confederacy and the Ferengi Alliance and isolated by intense gravitic storms that completely encircle it. While the cause of these storms is unknown, they have prevented any one power from establishing dominance over the region, creating an interesting political dynamic between regional and interstellar powers that operate within the Expanse.
The Federation first encountered the Expanse in 2384; however, unprepared for the violent spatial anomalies that encircle it, Starfleet did not successfully chart the Expanse until 2387. In January 2388, the mandate of the Fourth Fleet’s Task Force 72 was expanded to include exploratory, scientific and diplomatic operations within the Inconnu Expanse.
The Inconnu Expanse is over two sectors in size and demarcated by violent gravitic pulse storms along its borders. These storms present a severe challenge for navigation, and this region has consequently been relatively isolated from the rest of the Galaxy. This is not to say that it is completely without outside influence though. The Breen, Ferengi and Tzenkethi all have a presence within the Expanse, and the Federation is now the latest interstellar power to take interest in the region.
In terms of straight-line distance, the Inconnu Expanse is fifteen to fifty light years away from Federation territory; however, the majority lies across Tzenkethi space, and the Coalition refuses to grant an easement. Consequently, Starfleet has two primary avenues for entering the expanse:
- Inconnu Corridor - Only fifteen light years in length, the Inconnu Corridor provides the quickest access to the Expanse; however, the shortness of this route is contrasted by the dangers of it. It is patrolled by aggressive local inhabitants known as the Ravagers, and it is packed with intense gravitic storms. Bordered by the Tzenkethi on one side, and the Breen and Ferengi on the other, the only reason this narrow sliver of space even exists is because none of its neighboring powers could successfully lay claim to it.
- Carnwennan Corridor - Running between the Tzenkethi and the Talarians past the Carnwennan system, this corridor provides a safer, albeit far longer route to enter the Expanse. Just under fifty light years from the edge of Federation territory to the interior of the Expanse, storm activity along this route is far lighter than the Inconnu Corridor, and thus it provides an alternative to the challenging passage through the Inconnu Corridor.
To support operations in the Inconnu Expanse, Task Force 72 operates Deep Space 7 in the Inconnu system and Starbase 206 in the Carnwennan system.
Discovery and Early Exploration
In September 2384, the USS Lakota and the USS Freedom were sent to investigate reports of a volatile space now known as the Inconnu Expanse. They travelled through a narrow corridor between the Breen Confederacy and the Tzenkethi Coalition but, upon entering the Expanse, encountered violent spatial anomalies now catalogued as gravitic pulse storms. The well-intentioned scientific mission quickly turned into a struggle for survival, challenged further by an unsophisticated yet aggressive inhabitant of the Expanse known only as the Ravagers. Another mission into the Expanse was not attempted for the better part of a year.
In May 2385, the USS Freedom attempted to re-enter the Expanse, adjusting its route based on telemetry gathered during the first mission. The vessel made slightly better progress the second time, but again, gravitic storms eventually forced its retreat. Reviewing sensor data and mission logs, Starfleet concluded that the Expanse was simply not worth the effort. No notable populations had been encountered on the fringe of the Expanse during either trip, while gravitic pulse storms made passage into the Expanse wildly dangerous.
Charting the Expanse
For two years, the Inconnu Expanse lay an open and unanswered question. Starfleet’s previous two expeditions had both failed, and its neighboring powers offered no assistance with it. Consequently, in 2387, Vice Admiral Relan Gar, Chief of Starfleet Science, decided it was time to take another pass at it. In June, the USS Merrimack, a deep space explorer, departed from Galen IV, following a long and circuitous route between Tzenkethi and Talarian space in another attempt to enter the Expanse. Gravitic storms were far less severe along this approach, and the USS Merrimack was able to enter the Expanse without any serious problems.
Contrary to earlier reports, once it passed through the turbulent edge of the Expanse, the USS Merrimack found the interior, over two sectors in size, relatively stable and teaming with life. For nearly half a year, the expedition charted and observed the region. It noted numerous space-faring species and pre-warp civilizations, as well as the presence of neighboring interstellar powers including the Breen, Ferengi and Tzenkethi; however, far from Federation support, the crew was conservative regarding contact scenarios. They had a couple interactions with Ferengi traders and a rough standoff with the Breen when they stumbled upon an industrial slave colony, but, out of over a dozen local warp-capable species they observed, they only made first contact with two. As such, while they collected a lot of actionable information, few diplomatic inroads were made, and the Merrimack's footprint on the region was relatively light.
At the end of the mission, rather than returning along the long route from whence they had come, the Captain made a bold decision: using information he'd solicited from Ferengi traders, he attempted a return through the original corridor between the Breen and Tzenkethi that had obstructed earlier missions by the USS Lakota and the USS Freedom. While gravitic storm activity again challenged their passage, they were ultimately successful at returning to Federation territory along this route.
Assignment of Task Force 72
Following the Merrimack's successful return, Starfleet took renewed interest in the Inconnu Expanse. The Merrimack had brought back details showing a densely populated region teeming with opportunity, and it had found a viable and navigable route through the Inconnu Corridor.
While maintaining much of its old borderlands theater, Task Force 72's mandate was expanded to include exploratory, scientific and diplomatic operations into the Inconnu Expanse. To this end, Task Force 72 has activated starbases in the Inconnu and Carnwennan systems, to support transit into the Expanse, and its assets are now deploying into the region.
The Federation is not the only major interstellar power interested in the Inconnu Expanse:
- Ferengi - The Ferengi, willing to risk the rough conditions on the edge of the Expanse for profit opportunities, have long held trading arrangements with many of the Expanse's denizens. Because the Federation has a history of protecting the sovereign rights of other species, the Ferengi are wary of what an increased Federation presence may do to profit potential in the Expanse.
- Breen - In looking for workers to fuel their military-industrial complex, the Breen control several Inconnu worlds in a slave-like manner. This is a point of great tension between the Federation and the Breen, furthered by the fact that some of the civilizations under Breen subjugation are pre-warp societies whose evolutionary course has been completely muddled by Breen intervention.
- Tzenkethi - The close proximity to the Tzenkethi brings them into the Inconnu Expanse from time to time. In the same fashion that the route around the Tzenkethi has lower gravitic storm activity, the Tzenkethi border with the expanse is almost completely vacant of storm activity in some places. Starfleet is thus interested in negotiations with the Tzenkethi that might secure them transit to the Expanse through Tzenkethi space, but thus far the Tzenkethi have refused this request based on their negative past interactions with the Federation.
In addition, while former expeditions all but avoided first contact encounters, they observed a vast number of local space-faring powers in the region:
- Ravagers - This group of aggressive raiders, which reside just inside the Expanse along the Inconnu Corridor, were first encountered by the USS Lakota and USS Freedom in 2384 during the first failed attempt to enter the Expanse. Referred to as the Ravagers by the Expanse’s other denizens, nothing substantive, even their name, is known besides the fact that they make up for their lesser technological capabilities with an aggressive swarm-like hostility.
- Terhoc - The Terhoc are a subject species of the Breen who were not space-faring before the Breen arrived. Today, the Breen use them as a slave force, but there's a growing resistance movement trying to break free from Breen oppression. During its voyage, the USS Merrimack encountered a group of rebel Terhocs that had hijacked a Breen cruiser; when trying to investigate further, the Merrimack found itself quickly surrounded by a Breen task group and the conservative Captain saw no option but to withdraw and note the encounter in his log for future Starfleet investigation.
- Taxhal - A species of merchants, mechanics and traders with somewhat questionable practices at times, the Taxhal settled in the Expanse over a hundred years ago. Today, they run a series of autonomous outposts that will provide services to any vessel for the right price. To this end, they have a rough relationship with the Ferengi, as both are always seeking the better negotiating edge.
Besides this, all that is known about the Inconnu inhabitants is from long-range observations. One of Task Force 72's primary mandates in the region is to develop a better understanding of the Expanse's denizens.
|TASK FORCE 72|
|Overview||Overview • Simulations • Forums|
|Area of Operations||Inconnu Expanse • Gavarian Corridor • Galen IV • Valoris Nebula • The Badlands • Bajor|
|Federation Assets||Roosevelt Station • Carnwennan Station|
|Powers||United Federation of Planets • Breen Confederacy • Cardassian Union • Ferengi Alliance • Lagashi • Tzenkethi|
|Additional Data||Cardassian Advance of 2388|
|Resources||Task Force History • Command History • Astrometrics • Powers • Lifeforms|