Some historians consider the Tzenkethi War the Federation's military showoff for the emerging superpower of the Cardassian Union. Others say this small war which ended with a total Federation victory and the humiliation of the proud Tzenkethi race that knew no defeat for uncounted centuries was the continuation of an ages-old conflict within the Federation itself. Thus, it was a proxy war, fought between those who stood for the ideas of the Federation's regime and those who opposed it.
The conflict, they say, began in 2273 AD, when the third starship to bear the name "USS Polaris" (NCC-2782) was dispatched to investigate the war the Tzenkethi fought for the conquest of the Kzinti Patriarchy. Unknown to most of the Federation military, the UE First Fleet starship was tasked with a secret agenda by Leningrad Command: the crew was to help one side to win the war, and whom to support was their choice. The rest is history the crew chose the unknown Tzenkethi over the known nemesis the Kzinti Patriarchy was for the United Earth's rimward colonies. The War of 2273 (as it is known in certain Federation circles) ended with the Polaris deploying a boosted fusion device (commonly known as a "sunbomb") upon the Kzinti homeworld of Kzinhome to put an end to the Kzinti's plans of conquest using acquired Section 31 technology.
What happened after became a legend on its own: the senior officers of the USS Polaris became pariahs in the Federation and Starfleet Command allowed only two three-year missions before terminating the vessel's support. Some of the senior crew were, as they themselves said, pushed upward to get them out of outer space missions, ending up in offices in Leningrad. Others, such as scientist Charlotte Ainsworth and her husband radioman Rochus Heimann had to literally flee the Federation. The two were appointed Ambassadors of the United Earth to the Tzenkethi Empire and settled on the Tzenkethi homeworld, forming the core of the soon-to-be flourishing Human exile community on Tzenketh.
On Kzinhome, the Kzinti were fighting for daily survival. While the capital city was spared, the Northern continent was left a burnt wasteland after the Sunbomb attack. Radioactive fallout was rather mild but millions perished in the explosion and the firestorm that followed. Meanwhile, the Tzenkethi, being the victoriuos side in the war, slowly started to colonize the Kzinti homeworld. The Southern hemisphere, left intact, became their base of operations. The Kzinti, still in shock, had no other choice but to accept the otherwise technologically inferior Tzenkethi as their masters.
The Federation strongly opposed the occupation of Kzinhome. Knowing that his nation (already weakened in the devastating war) would not survive a war with the Federation, the Emperor Straha (successor of the late Emperor Risson, killed in the heat of war) had to make a compromise with the Federation and only partially occupy Kzinhome. Straha's decision of leave the devastated Northern hemisphere un-occupied was considered by many Federation (and also Klingon and Romulan) politicians a tasteless act but it nevertheless complied with the Federation's wishes of an unspecified partial occupation. While the Southern hemisphere was formally incorporated into the Tzenkethi Empire, the remnants in the North declared themselves as the new state of North Kzin.
The Federation did everything to support North Kzin. Not long after the USS Polaris NCC-2782 was formally struck from the registry, the Federation Council passed a bill on the funding of the independent Kzinti state. This funding was based upon three interests: ensuring the independent Kzinti's loyalty to the Federation, a formal compensation for the unauthorized Sunbomb attack committed by a Federation vessel, and a secret hope that the northern Kzinti will oust the Tzenkethi invaders in the South by launching a planet-wide insurrection. Peace with the Tzenkethi remained tense but under the reign of the Emperor Straha, it was left unbroken. Most of the important Federation politicians acknowledged Straha as a capable leader and a reasonable statesman.
On the other hand, the United Earth strongly refused to support the Kzinti in any way. Although formally condemning the actions of the Polaris crew, they opposed the ousting and secret prosecution of the ship's officers, Terran politicians, sometimes both Government and Opposition members, agreed on the Kzinti being a threat that was finally dealt with. As the years went by, the UE Government supported the "Polaris exiles" on Tzenketh and the opinions of Heimann and Ainsworth on all matters Tzenkethi were held in high regard.
North Kzin slowly but steadily recovered from the Sunbomb's devastation. Although failing to restore the glory of the old Kzinti Patriarchy, it managed to recover its hold on three former colony worlds West of Kzinhome. As a sign of goodwill, the Tzenkethi agreed the re-annexation of these planets. In the last joint Federation-Tzenkethi undertaking, the two powers oversaw that North Kzin would not develop a military potential on the colonies.
On the galactic plane, a new superpower emerged from decades of lurkig in secrecy: the Cardassian Union. The Cardassians wanted to be acknowledged as the superpower they were. Some claim both sides wanted the war and relations quickly deteriorated not long after the official First Contact between the two states. The Federation-Cardassian War that lasted between 2346 and 2366 was long nad bloody and left both sides embittered. It needs to be said that it was the last was in which the Federation held the moral high ground for the time being.
The Emperor Straha passed away in 2357. His funeral was visited by many interplanetary dignitaries and a whole formal delegation sent by the United Earth. Retired First Fleet flag officers and former Polaris crewmembers Vice Admiral David Metlesits and Commodore Vasily Nussbaum were also present to say farewell to their lost friend and comrade in arms. Straha, who was of no royal blood but was accepted the legitimate ruler because of being he literal savior of the Tzenkethi species, was succeeded by the Tzenkethi noblemale Reffett. Reffett originally wanted to grant sovereignity to the whole of Kzinhome, even if knowing that two generations of Southern Kzinti have grown up indoctrinated as being loyal subjects of the Tzenkethi Empire. Reffett also wanted to maintain a good relationship with the Federation but also the Cardassian Union, knowing his Empire could easily be at the mercy of any or both.
The Federation was growing tired of the long and drawn-out war with the Cardassian Union. To get the upper hand in the war, they illegally entered Tzenkethi space and set up intelligence stations on asteroids and planetoids on the Tzenkethi-Cardassian border. When the Reffet government gained knowledge about this, it caused an outrage amongst the Tzenkethi society. The Federation continued to operate the listening stations and always dismissed Tzenkethi accusations as Cardassian-induced propaganda. Reffett, although knowing the case was lost from the beginning, was prepared to wage a war upon the Federation for the sovereignity of his state and nation. Hoping the Cardassians have tired the Federation out, the interplanetary superstate would not engage in another military conflict and retreat after a moderate engagement to save face.
The United Earth tried to mediate. So did the Andorians and even the Caitians. The Federation leadership always counteracted their plans, dismissing it as a twisted remnant of the War of 2273 and the Federation-Kzinti War which was lead by the Iron Triangle of Earth, Andor and Cait. What the Emperor Reffett thought to be initial show-off of strength turned out to be the second-most devastating military conflict the Tzenkethi have faced ever since their was with the Kzinti.
An entire Starfleet battallion-armada was dispatched to break the Tzenkethi. The ships were old and obsolete but still more powerful than the best the Tzenkethi could throw in against them. Starfleet Command hoped the Tzenkethi would back down seeing the superior star navy. Back on Earth, the UE Government prepared to mirror the events of 2273. The United Earth First Fleet ws secretly ordered to sabotage the Starfleet armada inbound for Tzenkethi territory. Meanwhile, the long-awaited insurrection broke out on Kzinhome.
The Tzenkethi was prepared to fight for their independence till their last blood. The Federation fleet stopped at the border to show off their force. Back on Earth, Starfleet Command's Zakdorn attaché held an unofficial conversation session with the planet's (and perhaps the whole Federation's) best available Tzenkethi expert: retired Vice Admiral David Metlesits. The former commanding officer of the third (and second) USS Polaris took the side of the Tzenkethi vehemently. Metlesits, along with his former surviving Polaris officers, emigrated to Tzenketh to be re-united with their old firneds in exile. They were welcomed by the Tzenkethi as the heroes of the Empire due to their deciesive involvement in the War of 2273.
Meanwhile, the fifth Polaris, under the command of Captain Uriah Noah was sent to investigate the Kzinti insurrection. The mysterious loss of the vessel put an end to any further independent UE involvement in the conflict (it was later found out that the Polaris was transported into the year of 2367 to witness the coming of the Borg). Not wanting to spend any more time wasting time and resources, the Federation formally declared war on the Tzenkethi Empire on the false claims of siding with the Cardassians on 6th November 2361. The Tzenkethi managed to hold the stand for four years, mostly because (as some say) the information on Starfleet's weaknesses provided by the exiled Humans.
Starfleet's campaign was swift and mostly bloodless. Their ships broke through the Tzenkethi lines with ease and precision. Their overwhelming military superiority was also a sign for the tired Cardassians. In the end, Starfleet Warped directly into the Tzenketh system and in a long and drawn-out battle, defeated the orbital defence systems and automated platforms. The Emperor Reffett officially surrendered on 3rd March 2364. In the ceremony in which he had to sign the surrender of his Empire, he was accompanied by Ambassadors Rochus Heimann and Charlotte Ainsworth and Honorary Fleetlords of the Tzenkethi Defence Fleet David Metlesits and Vasily Nussbaum.
Two years later, the Cardassians and the Federation mutually agreed on a cease-fire. Although this war ended with neither side being able to claim victory, the Federation was seen as the superior in this engagement. Back on the United Earth, a separatist movement started to show itself, knowing the once majestic Federation has turned its back on the morals it stood for once. Civil War was just a shot away