Tzenkethi - A reptilian species - have dragon-like heads, rhino-like skin and four arms: two stronger ones and two weaker for nimble, precision handling. Their backs have a set of bony plaques, giving these already powerful creatures good protection. Fully armored, each individual Tzenkethi resembles a walking weapons platform.
The Star Trek novel "One Constant Star" by David R. George III talked of the Tzenkethi as being composed of bladders. Star Trek Online has created a more robust race that is in more keeping with the reptilian description of Robert Hewlett-Wolfe for DS9.
In 2311 Ambassador Kage of the Klingon Empire said they may possess subspace weapons. Their starships were found to be faster and more powerful than even the Excelsior class. The Tzenkethi language is Tzikaa!n. Starfleet Command had placed the nation as one to observe for First Contact as a medium term goal. The Romulans and Klingons drew attention to the Beta Quadrant and resources were taken up there.
This changed in 2308 when the U.S.S. Excelsior was allocated as Fifth Fleet flagship under Captain Hikaru Sulu. The starship went overdue when exploring near the Tzenkethi border and despite ships being sent to find her, no wreckage or survivors were ever found. The ship was declared missing, presumed lost. As a result of this high-profile loss, the Federation President decreed that First Contact with the Tzenkethi would be given a new higher priority. It was at this time that a volunteer came forward for the diplomatic mission: Ambassador Spock.
The Farragut mission:
In 2312 a conference was finally arranged with the Tzenkethi at their homeworld of Ab-Tzenketh. Famed Ambassador Spock of Vulcan had arranged the meeting and Starfleet Command was eager for the meeting to go ahead to get possible answers on the loss of U.S.S. Excelsior. Sister ship U.S.S. Farragut (NCC 14221) was assigned to the mission. After the success with the Klingons, the Federation Council was hopeful that Spock could make a similar breakthrough with the Tzenkethi
Approaching the Tzenkethi home world Ab-Tzenketh, they found that the planet is encircled by a virtual shell of artificial satellites. These satellites serve a number of functions, including orbital defence, external sensors, communications, global positioning and transporter management. They also discovered these satellites act as disruption of foreign sensor and transporter systems. As a result, only visual records could be made of the planet and no details of population size, cities or technology.
What Ambassador Spock had gleaned from other races was that the government is headed by the Autarch of the Tzenkethi Coalition. Under them served a number of appointed ministers called Tzelnira. The Autarch had their palace on one of the two moons orbiting the planet. From the information Spock had obtained through third parties, he knew the Tzenkethi themselves came in varying shades and were said to be comprised of fluid-filled sacs. Their voices had a ringing quality like bells. The rest of their cultural and political make-up was unknown and Ambassador Spock had to logically fill in the gaps.
The encounter with the Autarch over audio channels appeared to go well; Spock had explained their peaceful intent and had not evn mentioned the Excelsior beyond making references to having possibly contacted the Tzenkethi before and that this proper First Contact could lead to friendship and trade, avoiding any chance of misunderstandings. After that initial overture, Spock moved to the next logical step of a face-to-face meeting. As standard procedure, the Tzenkethi requested to scan all attendees for medical and tactical reasons. As soon as this was done, the conversation seemed to change; the Tzenkethi attitude seemed to chill and permission to beam down to Ab-Tzenketh was denied. Furthermore, the Autarch ended the proceedings and the Farragut was ordered out of Tzenkethi space.
Ambassador Spock was left confused by the sudden change in attitude and thought that it was the medical scans that had led to the change of heart, since none of them carried any weapons. Further cultural research would be needed before the next attempt at diplomacy, but Ambassador Spock was determined to succeed.
Starfleet has had an increased tactical presence in the region following the loss of the Excelsior. Ark Royal class carriers, along with Ulysses and Komsomolsk class dreadnoughts have been allocated to the Fifth Fleet. Phantom, Kestrel, Endurance and Antares class scouts have been ordered to learn more about the Tzenkethi, as have vessels like the Constellation class Javelin. What is certain is that the pivot to the Apha Quadrant has begun and races such as the Breen, Tzenkethi and Cardassians must now be examined to avoid any other cultural surprises.
Tzenkethi naming convention:
Nim - Representative (?)
Rej - Autarch (or suitable candidate)
Ret - Receives orders from Ter
Ter - Leader/order-giver
Tor - Special agent to the Autarch
Vik - Speaker/negotiator for the Autarch
Ata - Maintenance
Fel - Problem solver
Gar - Trader
Kre - Administrator
Mak - Enforcer
Tov - Government/governing class
Yai - Scientist
A Tzenkethi's grade indicates the quality of their genetic stock.
AA - Best possible quality, to EE - Null; contaminating; unfit to contribute to Tzenkethi stock.
The Tzenkethi were created by Robert Hewitt Wolfe for DS9 "The Adversary" and were a combination of the Kzinti and Tskanth.
The summit was arranged on Tzenketh in 2312 is from the novel "The Fire and the Rose". KRAD's novel "Articles of the Federation" states that the Tzenkethi would later respond to the Federation's efforts to encourage trade by starting a war. The loss of U.S.S. Excelsior in proximity to the Tzenkethi Coalition is from David R. George III novel "One Constant Star". This same novel speaks of the Tzenkethi preferring audio communication, suggesting the Federation does not know exactly what they look like. I presume Ambassador Spock will use information from the Klingons, Orions and other races to get this information.
The loss of Excelsior is something I took to be the motivation to explore the Alpha Quadrant and engage with the Tzenkethi. The Romulans and Klingons will have drawn attention to the Beta Quadrant for the last one hundred and fifty years, but this finally was turned into action after the famous Captain Sulu and his flagship go missing and are presumed lost.
The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine made a big deal of Alpha Quadrant races like the Talarians, Breen, Tzenkethi, Cardassians and Ferengi to name but a few. In the Kirk movie era, no mention was made of any Alpha Quadrant nations beyond the First Federation and the Tholians. This had to change, and this is the era in which it will happen.
The failure of the diplomatic mission is mentioned in the novel "The Fire and the Rose", but not the reason. Working back from what is later revealed about the Tzenkethi and their obsession for genetic purity, perhaps the presence of hybrid Vulcan/Human diplomat Spock may in itself have led to the refusal to make face-to-face contact, as well as the freedoms of the United Federation of Planets.