The Kelvans were an intelligent and rigidly disciplined non-humanoid species from the planet Kelva, located in the Andromeda Galaxy, and masters of the Kelvan Empire. Only a few Kelvans were known to have traveled to the Milky Way Galaxy.
Physiology and culture
Described by Spock as "immense beings", Kelvans were in one form at least twice the size of an adult Klingon male. (DS9: "Time's Orphan") Their complex minds possessed sufficient discipline to operate each of their hundred tentacle-like limbs independently, but their superior intellectual capacity developed at the cost of more distracting emotions and sensory perceptions.
Kelvans believed in their innate superiority, and deemed it the fate of lesser species to be conquered and ruled. Ruthless but practical, their goals were expressed in plain, civil terms lacking any indication of blood-thirst. As long as the obedience demanded by their code of honor was upheld, their conquered subjects were treated with appropriate respect and given some bounded latitude. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
Centuries ago, the Kelvans became aware of dangerously rising radiation levels in their home galaxy, a crisis expected to make their galaxy uninhabitable by their species within ten thousand years. The Kelvan Empire dispatched a wave of swift, multi-generational starships to the neighboring galaxies. The explorer crews (and their descendants) were ordered to search for new territories and to report on their suitability for conquest and occupation.
One Kelvan starship left Andromeda sometime in the 1960s, and reached the Milky Way Galaxy in 2268. The Kelvans were not prepared for the galactic barrier that surrounded their destination, and their ship was destroyed in the crossing. Rojan and four others made it by life craft to a safe, class M planet but found existence in the great outdoors unnerving. The Kelvans adopted the humanoid forms common to our galaxy, which would likely be more compatible with potential transportation than their Andromedan forms.
With a false distress call, Rojan lured and quickly captured Captain James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise. Rojan's crew modified the Enterprise with Kelvan technology, permitting the starship to penetrate the galactic barrier, and began the long return voyage to Kelva.
Once the Barrier was successfully breached, Kirk and his senior officers began a systematic subversion of the Kelvans' mission by exploiting their weaknesses: their social naiveté and inexperience with the new sensations offered by their new humanoid bodies. Kirk convinced Rojan that his new life as a humanoid could be experienced to the fullest on a world in the Federation, and a robotic envoy to Andromeda could fulfill his mission by delivering a peace proposal. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
By the 24th century, there had been at least one additional encounter with Kelvans by Starfleet personnel. In 2374, a frustrated Lieutenant Commander Worf told Jadzia Dax that he had once fought Kelvans twice his size, yet he was unable to put young Kirayoshi O'Brien to sleep. (DS9: "Time's Orphan") The following year, Ezri Dax recalled that conversation between Worf and Jadzia when she visited his quarters, after learning of his possible death, following the destruction of his ship, the IKS Koraga, near the Badlands. (DS9: "Penumbra")
Science and technology
The various technologies used by explorers from the Kelvan Empire in their first contact with the Federation in 2268 were advanced far beyond the Federation's abilities of the period. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
Kelvan science allowed their explorers to abandon their native physical forms in favor of new bodies more appropriate to local environments. Rojan described the transference process as "encasing" themselves in "humanoid shells". The process was complete enough to pass naked-eye observation, as well as fundamentally shifting Kelvan personalities toward a humanoid perspective as they experienced life with radically different physical senses. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
Kelvans carried a device (worn on belts around their waist in their humanoid form) that served as a weapon, defense, and instrument of obedience. With a touch, a Kelvan could immobilize multiple targets with a neural field that selectively neutralized nerve impulses to their voluntary muscles.
With similar ease, the devices were capable of a far more drastic change to a target. The device could instantly "distill" a lifeform, suspending animation and encoding the essence of the target's physical form and personality into a compact and lightweight (the size of a Human fist) dehydrated porous cuboctahedron solid, composed of the target's base minerals. The person could be reconstituted from their solid state at any time, as long as the solid remained intact.
The individual devices worn by a team of Kelvans functioned in tandem with a central field projector of extensive range. Three Kelvans with belt devices boarded and easily captured the Enterprise in orbit, while their central projector radiated from the planet surface. The projector was shielded by a metallic substance, similar to diburnium, but considerably more dense and impervious to phaser fire. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
Kelvan multi-generational starships were capable of sustained operations and life support across multiple millions of light years, through the voids between galaxies that offered no chance of respite at friendly starbases or planets. Their faster-than-light propulsion systems permitted the crossing in a reasonable time, spanning only a few Kelvan generations, while a Constitution-class starship running at maximum warp would take thousands of years to complete the journey. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
A century following first contact with the Kelvans, Starfleet had apparently matched their propulsion technology, as it was stated that a Galaxy-class starship, traveling from Triangulum to the Milky Way Galaxy, could make the voyage in three hundred years, the same amount of time that it took the Kelvans to reach the Milky Way from Andromeda. (TNG: "Where No One Has Gone Before")
Their engineering skills allowed them to quickly modify comparatively primitive and alien technologies, making them perform on par with their own. Kelvan upgrades to the USS Enterprise permitted the ship to pass through the negative energy of the galactic barrier unharmed, and was expected to arrive in Kelvan space only three hundred years after departure. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
List of known Kelvans
- Rojan – leader of Kelvan Milky Way expedition
- Kelinda – member of expedition and Rojan's love interest
- Hanar – Rojan's lieutenant and confidant
- Tomar – expedition engineer and drinking enthusiast
- Drea – expedition flight controller