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This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.

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 from the House of T'Kuvma, 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 an experimental 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 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 planetoid, 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 quickly responded, outmaneuvered, and destroyed the attacking Klingon vessels using its experimental spore drive. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")

After their first success with the spore drive, Discovery quickly became the most important weapon in the Federation arsenal, causing the tide to turn and the Federation to start winning. In the three weeks following the relief of Corvan II, Discovery further used its drive to break the Klingon supply line at Benzar and rout 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", "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")

Around this time, General Kol established a new ruling council. Starfleet believed that he had ousted the House of D'Ghor and the House of Mo'Kai, who secretly approached Vulcan to discuss a potential alliance. However, this was in fact a ruse by Kol to capture a high-ranking Vulcan. The plan worked better than expected when, due to unforeseen circumstances, Admiral Katrina Cornwell arrived in the place of Sarek. After Cornwell's capture, Kol welcomed Dennas' and Ujilli's Houses into his empire and promised them cloaking technology. (DIS: "Lethe")

Alpha Beta Quadrant Overview star chart

A star chart showing the Discovery near the Federation-Klingon border in 2256.

By stardate 2136.8, approximately 10,000 Starfleet personnel had been killed in the conflict. (DIS: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")

As more houses joined General Kol, the number of ships utilizing cloaking technology increased, and Klingon activity became more aggressive. A group of Klingon vessels utilized the new advantage to destroy a group of Starfleet vessels on patrol simultaneously, including the USS Gagarin. Most disturbingly was that this advantage neutralized the tactics of the spore-equipped Discovery, which arrived to assist the Gagarin but could not save the stricken ship. (DIS: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum")

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