During the first twenty-four months of the four years war, Starfleet was experiencing near-constant defeat at the hands of the Imperial Klingon Navy's D-6 battlecruiser. Whole systems were being seized, with the populations slaughtered at the hands of the Empire. Changes needed to be made to save the Federation. The Starfleet Commander in Chief, Admiral Conrad Slater, was replaced by Admiral Marcus Ramirez. Ramirez's first action was ordering the design and production of Starfleet's first-ever dedicated warship: the Ares-class. The simulations showed promise, but its first real test would be on the battlefield. The Vulcans restricted their involvement to environmental, propulsion, and defensive systems, though there were voices that demanded the removal of Vulcan participation completely. In the words of Admiral Samuel Travis, "A Vulcan's gonna do what a Vulcan's gonna do. But the Andorians... they were happy to supply us the phasers." The first ship in the class, the USS Ares, would be assigned to Captain Kelvar Garth. Over a dozen other member worlds were waiting on the Ares class. Operation Pegasus would be the proving ground.
On stardate 2244.1, the Ares took part in its first combat engagement near the planet Cygnus III during Operation Pegasus. ("Prelude to Axanar"). In the words of the Supreme Warlord of the Imperial Klingon Navy ("Kharn the Undying"), "The new class Starfleet vessels were... unexpected." Kelvar Garth, pushing his vessel's capabilities to the maximum, surprised the Klingons and delivered a victory to Starfleet at Cygnus III. Following those events, Starfleet would go on to regain much of their lost territory. The USS Ares was faster, more agile, more heavily-armed than any Klingon warship. With the new Ares-class and with the hard-won experience of their battle-tested commanders, three systems were retaken within 30 days. The Klingon ship captains began to give Starfleet their due as a worthy adversary, primarily taking notice of Garth of Izar. The Captain of the USS Hercules, Samuel Travis, was quoted as saying, "That mad Izarian son of a bitch - that was his day." Captain Sonya Alexander of the USS Ajax added, "Garth likes to play down what he did. Don't you believe it? What he did that day no Starfleet Captain had ever done."
Starfleet's research did not end with the successful Ares-class ships. A larger design, the Constitution-class heavy cruiser, was still under construction. It would be the ultimate expression of Starfleet and the Federation's technology - but, as with any new project, there were complications. It was the most complex design ever attempted. Stardate 2244.9, Admiral Ramirez himself went to deal with the problem, when Starfleet Intelligence informed him that there were whispers of a new Klingon Battle Cruiser: the D-7. The D-7 would be bigger, faster, and deadlier than anything ever seen in the Alpha Quadrant. If the Klingon D-7 came online before Starfleet got the Constitution-class into service, the Ares-class would be cut to ribbons. Ramirez needed more time, and in order to achieve that goal, he asked his three best starship captains (Ribeaux, Travis, and Garth) for a plan of action. The first one was worthless, and the second was "a good plan." The third, put forth by Kelvar Garth, was (in Samuel Travis's words) "One hundred percent insanity - a bloodbath waiting to happen. That was Axanar." The Axanar system was the heart of the Federation. If the Klingons seized Axanar, they would be in striking range of Vulcan, Tellar Prime, Andoria, and Terra. Worse yet, The new Constitution-class starships were being built at Axanar. The loss of Axanar would mean certain defeat for the Federation.
- - Commanding officer - Captain Kelvar Garth
- - First officer - Commander Kenji Tanaka
- - Tactical officer - Lieutenant Tara Wagner
- - Chief engineer - Commander Alexi Leonov
- - Security chief - Commander Carter
- - Intelligence officer - Lieutenant Corax
- - Flight controller - Lieutenant Cross
- - Communications officer - Lieutenant Caine
- - Strategic operations officer - Lieutenant Hyree
- - Chief Surgeon - Lieutenant-Commander (Dr) Elizabeth Grace