The Shoals is a region of space at the border between the Federation and the Tholian Assembly. Rich in dilithium, benamite, and other natural resources, the hazardous area itself cannot be traversed at high warp or by quantum slipstream due to the treacherous and shifting tetryon fields that are scattered throughout the region, a danger similar to that of the Hekaras sector. Over five hundred ships have been lost in the region, earning it the nickname, "The Graveyard of the Alpha Quadrant."
Due to extreme navigational hazards from tetryon fields and other local phenomena within the Shoals, Starfleet Command has issued the following travel restrictions:
- No starships with a mass greater than 2,000,000 metric tons may enter the Shoals. Check vessel specifications before entering.
- Travel in the Shoals is restricted to a maximum factor of warp 5 except when traveling along the Mother Road.
- CAUTION: Due to shifting conditions, some areas may require slower travel. Exercise good judgment.
- Travel along the Mother Road is restricted to warp 6.
- Quantum slipstream drive is inoperable. Do not attempt to engage.
- Avoid non-essential travel to the Shadows.
- Do not cross the border into Tholian space.
Failure to observe these restrictions may result in serious damage or loss of starship and injury or loss of life. Starfleet recommends that all travelers file their itinerary and flight path with the Starfleet Support Annex at Star Station Esperance before entering the region.
Introduction to the Region
Minor Powers/Local Groups
|Colonial Coalition (Federation colonies)||The Shadows
The following travel times are approximate and represent only a direct flight path from the origin to the destination. Travel times may be longer due to delays from unforeseen navigational hazards and shifting tetryon fields. A more optimal route may also be available by using a detour to the Mother Road for part of the journey. Always check local conditions before proceeding.
(Standard Max. Speed)
(Mother Road only)
|To nearest star||5 LY||18 days||9 days||5 days|
|Across one sector||20 LY||72 days||34 days||19 days|
|Across the Shoals||105 LY||376 days||179 days||98 days|
|Antor||Donova||16.3 LY||58 days||28 days||n/a|
|Antor||Esperance||12.7 LY||45 days||22 days||12 days|
|Antor||Meridian||16.3 LY||58 days||28 days||n/a|
|Antor||Havley||24.9 LY||89 days||43 days||23 days|
|Antor||Ketar||35.1 LY||126 days||60 days||33 days|
|Donova||Antor||16.3 LY||58 days||28 days||n/a|
|Donova||Havley||20.5 LY||73 days||35 days||n/a|
|Donova||Ketar||40.8 LY||146 days||70 days||n/a|
|Esperance||Antor||12.7 LY||45 days||22 days||12 days|
|Esperance||Meridian||12.2 LY||44 days||21 days||11 days|
|Esperance||Shadow's Edge||13.6 LY||49 days||23 days||n/a|
|Esperance||Tholian border||33 LY||118 days||56 days||n/a|
|Havley||Antor||24.9 LY||89 days||43 days||23 days|
|Havley||Donova||20.5 LY||73 days||35 days||n/a|
|Havley||Karakka||25.1 LY||90 days||43 days||23 days|
|Across the Widowmaker Trail||18.4 LY||66 days||n/a||n/a|
|Karakka||Havley||25.1 LY||90 days||43 days||23 days|
|Karakka||Shadow's Edge||35.7 LY||128 days||61 days||n/a|
|Ketar||Antor||35.1 LY||126 days||60 days||33 days|
|Ketar||Donova||40.8 LY||146 days||70 days||n/a|
|Meridian||Ketar||21.7 LY||78 days||37 days||20 days|
|Meridian||Antor||16.3 LY||58 days||28 days||n/a|
|Meridian||Esperance||12.2 LY||44 days||21 days||11 days|
|Meridian||Ketar||21.7 LY||78 days||37 days||20 days|
|Shadow's Edge||Esperance||13.6 LY||49 days||23 days||n/a|
|Shadow's Edge||Karakka||35.7 LY||128 days||61 days||n/a|
- Main article: Colonial Coalition
In the 23rd century, seven Federation colonies in the Shoals banded together to form the Colonial Coalition to have one voice when dealing with the Federation Council and other foreign powers. The largest colony of the seven is Meridian, and Antor II serves as the Coalition's capital.
- Main article: Mother Road
Both high warp speeds and quantum slipstream are unavailable in the Shoals. Top warp speed varies throughout the Shoals and over time due to the ever changing locations and intensities of the tetryon fields that give the Shoals its name, but the highest possible speed is warp 5. At warp 5, it takes 9 days to cross five light years and 34 days to cross the length of a sector.
Because of the threat of piracy and other navigational hazards that had plagued the colonies since their founding, a historic route least affected by the tetryon fields was mapped out in 2303 to connect the worlds of the Coalition with each other and to the Federation and Esperance. This non-fixed route is known as the Mother Road. Along the Mother Road, ships are able to reach warp 6, effectively cutting travel times in half (5 days to cross five light years and 19 days to cross a sector).
The tetryon fields of the Shoals are a constant danger to ships traveling through the region. Besides limiting propulsion, the fields create interference with sensors as well as communications with probes and subspace relay stations, leaving many worlds reliant on couriers and other transport ships that collect and deliver messages from the few outposts and planets that can get a reliable subspace signal out of the Shoals.
In addition, as starships continued to grow in size over the years, it was discovered that large ships more easily "run aground" in the Shoals, unable to engage their warp drives entirely. This leaves them easy targets for pirates and bandits. After the infamous loss of the freighter Constantinople in 2314, Starfleet advised that no ships with a mass larger than 2,000,000 metric tons (about the size of an Excelsior class) may enter the Shoals. Warp speed limits were instituted shortly afterward. Numerous shipwrecks throughout the area remain as landmarks for locals and memorials to those who did not heed such warnings.
- Main article: The Shadows
Nowhere is the danger of the Shoals' tetryon fields greater than in the Shadows, an area overlapping five sectors. Here, the interference is so severe that ships entering the Shadows are limited to short-range sensors, leaving them effectively blind. The area is also home to the native Ohanze population.
The major non-Federation power in the region is the Tholian Assembly. The Tholians are xenophobic and extremely territorial. They often annex worlds near their border when they feel threatened by their encroachment. For many years now, they've been somewhat of a "sleeping giant." Everyone knows they're a power in the region, but people have mostly stayed away from them and their territory, and so they haven't really bothered anyone else. Those that have wandered into their territory, accidentally or otherwise, are seldom heard from again.
Klingons and the Orion Syndicate
The Klingons established a small group of colonies of their own in the Shoals in the 23rd century during the height of the Cold War with the Federation. After the Treaty of Organia and the Khitomer Accords, improved relations with the Federation diminished the threat posed by a Klingon presence so near other Federation colonies, and a gradual disarmament was implemented by both sides over the next century. The Dominion War greatly strained both the resources and the centralized power of the Klingon Empire, which spent the next decade rebuilding and has yet to fully recover to its pre-war strength. The weakened Klingon High Council no longer has the hold it once did over the various competing Houses. In recent years, some of the more aggressive Houses and factions have taken their own initiative to strike rather than remain stagnant from "too much peace." While the central governments of the Federation and Klingon Empire remain staunch allies (as marked by 2393's joint celebration of the Khitomer Accords centennial), the High Council continues to be consumed with infighting, and rogue elements have taken the opportunity to attack worlds bordering the Empire, raiding colonies and supply runs.
In the Shoals, three Klingon colonies remain, supposedly patrolled by a small contingent of the Klingon Defense Forces. However, separated by a vast distance from the rest of the Klingon Empire and its resources, the handful of obsolete KDF ships and troops stationed here are no match for the powerful cartels that have woven their way into the very fabric of society within these worlds, and in some cases, even into the ranks of the KDF. The cartels funnel narcotics, weapons, and other stolen goods into the black market of the Coalition and have enough firepower and foot soldiers thanks to their connection to not only one of the rogue Houses but also the Orion Syndicate. Once thought vanquished, the Syndicate has shown over the past year in their conflict against the Federation that they remain very much alive and formidable.