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The Federation-Klingon War of 2256 was a conflict fought between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire that began in 2256 with the Battle of the Binary Stars on stardate 1207.3. This battle was provoked by T'Kuvma, a Klingon of noble heritage, to rally the Empire to a common cause as he had portrayed the Federation as an existential threat, whose space had encroached unacceptably close upon that of the Klingons. In the first six months, the Federation lost 8,186 people. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars", "Context Is for Kings")

Captain Gabriel Lorca of the USS Discovery claimed that sometime after the war began, he was given the freedom to do whatever it took to win the war, even if it meant breaking the rules of Starfleet. As part of this effort, Starfleet co-opted the research by Paul Stamets and Straal into spore drive. Six months into the war, the Discovery managed to practically implement the drive and went on to achieve a string of victories. This was made possible by capturing an alien it called a a Tardigrade. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings", "Choose Your Pain")

In November 2256, a Klingon force managed to slip past the blockade defending Corvan II, a major resource hub whose mines produced forty percent of the dilithium supplies in the Federation. Without the planet, a sizable part of Starfleet would be grounded. By the time the colony managed to get out a distress call, the planetary defense shields would only hold another six hours under the continued Klingon bombardment. With the closest ship much further away, the Discovery utilized spore drive to quickly respond, outmaneuver, and destroy the Klingon vessels in orbit using its experimental spore drive. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")

In the weeks after this first spore drive success, Discovery further used its drive to break the Klingon supply line at Benzar and route an attack through the Ophiucus system. Starfleet started building spore drive units in a secret facility on Earth, while directing every ship, colony and starbase to search for more Tardigrades. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")

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