The Babel Crisis was a series of events in November 2154 that brought together the founding species of the United Federation of Planets for the first time. The crisis was also a precursor of the Earth-Romulan War, and a foreshadowing of things to come.
Discovery of the Aenar
Around 2104, the Aenar, a blind Andorian subspecies of ice-dwellers were found living in Andoria's northern hemisphere. Prior to their discovery, the Aenar were considered to be simply an Andorian myth, due to their highly secretive nature. However, the Andorians soon learned that the Aenar were a pacifist group of telepaths, who didn't wish their distant relatives any harm.
Andorians and Tellarites
In the months preceding November 2154, the Andorians lost six freighters along the Andorian/Tellarite border, which they believed were destroyed by Tellarite vessels.
In 2154, a warrior race known as the Romulans hoped to cause political discord between the races of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. In the Romulan Senate, Senator Vrax supported a mission to construct a series of drone ships which could effectively assume the appearance and weapons signature of a diverse range of other vessels. Admiral Valdore was made responsible for the success of the mission, under Vrax's supervision. Valdore had been Vrax's friend in the Senate, but had lost his place when he made the unforgivable mistake of challenging the precept of unlimited expansion. With guidance from Vrax, the prototype drone ship was built on Remus. The vessel used telepresence to successfully be controlled from a remote location on Romulus. However, the Romulans required a telepathic pilot to operate the drone ship. Capturing a member of the Aenar, Gareb, telling him he was the last of his kind, the Romulans launched the first drone ship from the Reman homeworld.
The drone ship was first used to destroy two Andorian vessels which were heading toward the conference on Babel. The Andorian ambassador was traveling aboard one of these vessels when it was destroyed. The other vessel was the warship Kumari, under the command of Shran. When the drone ship attacked, assuming the disguise of a Tellarite vessel, the ambassador's ship was instantly destroyed, while nineteen members of the Kumari's crew, including Shran, were able to flee their vessel in escape pods. Commander Shran vowed to make the Tellarites pay for destroying his ship.
Meanwhile, the NX-class starship Enterprise traveled to Tellar Prime, where the crew welcomed Tellarite Ambassador Gral, his aide, Naarg, and the rest of the Tellarite delegation aboard. Since Babel was on the far side of Andorian space, Enterprise was assigned to provide transport for the Tellarite delegation. If the conference was unsuccessful, the captain of Enterprise, Jonathan Archer, feared the outbreak of war between the Andorians and Tellarites. At first, Graal was suspicious of the Humans who would attend the Babel conference, as the Andorians had helped to save Earth during the Xindi Crisis. However, Archer assured him that Starfleet's intention was to establish peace between the disagreeing species.
Detecting a distress call from the Kumari, Enterprise proceeded to the source of the signal. After two hours, the starship arrived at the debris field which was all that was left from the attack. By this time, the Kumari had also exploded. Fortunately, Enterprise detected the occupants of the escape pods, who were brought on board the starship and provided medical treatment. Shran told Captain Archer that the Andorian ships were attacked by an Tellarite vessel and was angered to learn that Enterprise was carrying a Tellarite delegation to Babel.
Later, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed analyzed hull fragments that were found in the debris field and discovered that the damage was consistent with Tellarite weapons. T'Pol recovered the Kumari's data recorder, which showed a Tellarite vessel attacking the Andorian warship. The evidence seemed conclusive.
However, as Enterprise changed course for Andoria, Tellarite Ambassador Gral refuted the claims that his species was responsible. He theorized that the sensor logs from the Andorian data recorder may have been fabricated and that the Andorians may have destroyed their own ship.
Posing as an Andorian craft, the Romulan drone ship intercepted Enterprise. On the bridge of the Starfleet vessel, Commander Shran unsuccessfully attempted to call off the attack and announced that Andorian officers were aboard Enterprise. Lieutenant Reed fired the starship's phase cannons at the disguised drone ship, but no damage was caused. When Reed fired torpedoes at the drone ship, the Romulan vessel retreated. Apparently, the Andorian warship had taken damage to its power grid, although that section hadn't been targeted in the conflict.
Shran and Gral
Later, a meeting between Archer, Shran and Gral was held. Gral suspected that the Andorians had transmitted a fake distress call from the Kumari, luring Enterprise into a trap. Shran argued that the drone ship's shield matrix had a completely different configuration to the shields on board an Andorian vessel. This fact led Shran to suspect the attacking craft may have been an Andorian ship that the Tellarites had stolen and upgraded. With both the Andorian commander and the Tellarite ambassador believing that the other species was responsible, Shran and Gral's verbal arguing soon erupted into a physical fight. However, Archer and a pair of MACOs intervened, with the captain shouting that Shran and Gral would be arrested if they continued to fight.
When Gral returned to the VIP quarters on G deck, some members of the Tellarite delegation believed that Archer had sided with Shran.
On the starship's bridge, T'Pol showed Commander Shran evidence that the same ship had attacked both the Andorian ships and Enterprise, although Shran found the evidence hard to accept. The Andorian commander wanted Enterprise to continue to Andoria, so that the remaining members of his crew could receive medical treatment from Andorian physicians. However, having located the drone ship's warp signature, Enterprise instead tracked the Romulan ship.
Meanwhile, Captain Archer experienced lingering doubts about whether the Andorian and Tellarite dispute would ever be settled. He questioned the fact that Starfleet had become involved in the situation and wondered whether the Vulcans would have made better mediators. He found it difficult to see any common ground between the Andorians and Tellarites, although T'Pol reminded him that similar statements had been made regarding the Vulcans and Humans.
Things would get even more complicated when Shran and his companion Talas burst into Gral's quarters to make him confess the attack. Archer cooled the dispute, but Naarg wounded Talas with a MACO phase-pistol. The wound proved mortal, and eventually Shran would challenge Naarg to the Ushaan, a traditional Andorian mortal duel. Archer, fearing the collapse of the fragile Andorian-Tellarite-Vulcan alliance, would invoke the right to substitute for the Tellarite. The duel would end when Archer lopped off Shran's left antenna, rendering him defenseless. (ENT: "United")
Repairing the drone ship and deployment of sensor grid
On Romulus, Nijil, a Romulan scientist assigned to the drone ship mission, discovered that Enterprise was nearing the drone ship. As malfunctions continued to plague the telepresence unit on Romulus, Nijil informed his superior, Valdore, of Enterprise's position.
By this time, Enterprise had followed the drone ship's warp signature to its source. However, the crew were surprised to find that the Romulan vessel was no longer disguised as an Andorian ship and were unable to identify the craft. The drone ship's primary systems were deactivated as Enterprise approached, so Captain Archer ordered Ensign Hoshi Sato, the starship's communications officer, to hail the alien vessel. Of course, her attempt to contact the drone ship went unanswered. From her station, T'Pol reported that her scans of the ship had failed to detect bio-signs. Conducting an analysis of the vessel's exterior, she learned that the ship's hull was lined with subspace transceivers and multispectral emitters. The captain ordered Lieutenant Reed to take a team of MACOs aboard the drone ship, but the security officer reported that the vessel's life support system was off-line. Consequently, Archer asked Reed to accompany Chief Engineer Charles Tucker aboard the drone ship in the hope that the engineer would be able to repair the damage. Wearing environmental suits, the away team beamed into a depressurized area aboard the drone ship.
On Romulus, Valdore became impatient with Nijil's repairs to the telepresence unit. He instructed a Romulan officer to prepare an overload of the warp core. Although Nijil was shocked to hear the instruction, Valdore explained that he would rather destroy the drone ship than allow Starfleet to acquire the advanced technology.
Meanwhile, Commander Tucker contacted Enterprise and informed Archer that he had discovered a computer interface. Acting on advice from T'Pol, the engineer uplinked his scanner to the control panel. The drone ship suddenly became activated, attacking the Starfleet craft. It then jumped to warp and attacked a Rigellian scoutship, posing as the Enterprise.
The Rigellian Trade Commission was outraged and demanded Archer's arrest. It became apparent that the drone ship's mission was to destabilize the entire region. T'Pol developed a method of locating the drone ship's warp signature but it would require a large sensor grid, maintained by at least 128 ships.
Starfleet sent every starship available to Enterprise's location. However, even at maximum warp, it would be weeks before most of them arrived. The Vulcan High Command was only able to dispatch 23 vessels. The only way to complete the sensor grid was to include Andorian and Tellarite ships. Despite their previous conflicts, the four species reluctantly agreed to cooperate in a joint operation to locate the drone ship that had threatened them all. Since Humans were the only species on friendly terms with all the others, Enterprise was made the command ship.
On board the drone ship, Malcolm Reed managed to sabotage its warp matrix. Valdore then had it disguised as a Vulcan ship. Archer was not fooled and attacked it. Also, six ships, all Vulcan, Tellarite and Andorian arrived, chasing off the drone.
With the reconciliation between Andorians and Tellarites, Valdore became determined to destroy Enterprise.
Seeking the Aenar
Afterward, Shran and Archer concluded that the Aenar might have had something to do with the events. So he and Shran journeyed to Andoria, heading for its north pole. After some difficulty, including Shran's injury, they met the Aenar, who provided medical assistance. Despite all that had happened, the Aenar refused to interfere because of their pacifist beliefs. Luckily, they found Jhamel who was no other than Gareb's sister, determined to save her brother. The Aenar tried to stop them, preventing them from finding the exit. Archer tried to convince them that Jhamel was acting of her own conscience but they believed she was just a child. By sharing a telepathic connection, the Speaker Lissan let them go.
A telepresence unit was installed on the Enterprise in order to make it possible to telepathically reach Gareb. T'Pol was unsuccessful and for Jhamel it proved too hazardous and they had to get it off her.
Soon afterwards, both drone ships departed their base on Remus and attacked Enterprise. Jhamel then used it again without anyone's knowledge. She told her brother to destroy the drone ships and he caused them to fire upon each other, destroying one drone ship. Seeing this, in fury, Valdore killed him. With the surviving drone ship now vulnerable, it was destroyed with three photonic torpedos by the Enterprise.
The Romulans achieved the opposite of what they intended. Rather than destabilize the region and incite conflict, the four species were brought closer together. The task force of 128 ships that formed the sensor grid was a historic first joint operation between Earth, Vulcan, Andor and Tellar. It was the first step in ending years of hostilities between the four powers and brought them closer towards forming the Coalition of Planets, and eventually the Federation. (ENT: "Babel One", "United", "The Aenar")