The Gradin Belt is a region of the Delta Quadrant several thousand light years in diameter approximately 40,000 light years from Federation space. It serves as a primary area of operations for Task Force 38, connected to the Round Table (Delta Quadrant) once every nine days and the Raeyan Sector (Beta Quadrant) once every forty-five days by way of the Epatha Gateway. Because it provides the task force’s only fickle connection with home, it is also home to Kartelan Station (Starbase 38), the headquarters of Task Force 38.
In 2375, the USS Voyager first discovered the Gradin Belt when it passed through and destroyed a subspace vortex controlled by the Malon Cooperative. For the next fifteen months, it travelled through the Gradin Belt and made first contact with dozens of species including, most notably, the Devore Imperium, the Hierarchy, the Turei Alliance and the Vaadwaur. The USS Voyager departed the Gradin Belt in mid 2376 when it used a graviton catapult to shave three years off its return to home. Starfleet would not return to the Gradin Belt again for over a decade.
In 2388, the USS Equinox discovered the Epatha Gateway while surveying the Aether System in the Round Table. Originally believed to be an unstable wormhole, further study found the gateway to be a cyclical phenomenon connecting the Round Table and the Gradin Belt, a distance of 20,000 light years, once every nine days. Additional ships from Task Force 38, followed by Federation citizens, passed through the gateway over the following months, fearful the Borg Collective would return again after the Battle of the Round Table.
Area of Operations
In late 2388, researchers discovered that, not only did the Epatha Gateway connect with the Round Table every nine days, but on other intervals, the Epatha Gateway also connected with other parts of space. While the first such connection discovered was useless, leading to a turbulent pocket of Chaotic Space, a later discovery found the Epatha Gateway connected the Gradin Belt with the Fourth of July Nebula in the Raeyan Sector of the Beta Quadrant once every 45 days for a period of 15 minutes. This propelled the Gradin Belt to prominence as the primary area of operations for Task Force 38.
Currently, the Gradin Belt hosts the headquarters for Task Force 38 from Kartelan Station. In addition to this station and a number of Starfleet and civilian vessels under the flag of the Delta Exploration Initiative, an operation has also started to establish a permanent colony in the Gradin Belt to supplement Helios and Persephone colonies in the Round Table.
Species and Lifeforms
- Borg Collective – A cybernetic pseudo-species made up of thousands of assimilated species, Borg space abuts the Gradin Belt; however, a turbulent phenomenon known as Chaotic Space acts as a sort of natural barrier mostly protecting the Belt from the Collective. Although the Borg have thus made relatively few incursions into the Belt, the few they have conducted have nonetheless left a profound impact on the region, leading to a major refugee crisis on and around the Markonian Outpost of Varro, Kinbori, Shivolians and others.
- Devore Imperium – A xenophobic and authoritarian culture, the Devore Consortium lays claim to a large swath of the Gradin Belt. It protects its borders with a strong military presence and inspects all who wish to pass through their space, harboring a particular aversion for telepaths.
- Hierarchy Central Command – The operating authority for the Hierarchy, Hierarchy Central Command is highly stratified militaristic interstellar power technologically on par with Starfleet. It lays claim to a region of the Gradin Belt that it protects strictly and from which it conducts espionage and occasional raids against other inhabitants of the Gradin Belt.
- Hirogen – A largely nomadic species, the Hirogen are occasionally found hunting “prey” in the Gradin Belt. Following their encounters with the USS Voyager, a small alliance of Hirogen has begun to seek an end to their nomadic lifestyle, forming colonies, establishing a space station, and claiming a region of territory on the edge of the Gradin Belt as their own.
- Malon Cooperative – An advanced and economically-motivated culture, the Malon inhabit a region of the Gradin Belt. While they frequently trade with other regional powers, they have thus far shown no interest in interacting with Task Force 38 on account of their interactions with the USS Voyager over a decade past.
- Turei Alliance – Born originally to defeat the Vaadwaur and later maintained by a shared desire to use the Underspace for their own purposes, the Turei Alliance considers themselves at war with the Vaadwaur survivors, fearful that the return of the Vaadwaur will weaken their reach and cut off their economies. The Turei pushed for a mutual aggression pact and settled for a non-aggression pact with the Federation, outlining the Vaadwaur as a common threat.
- Vaadwaur – The first species known to have mapped the Underspace, the Vaadwaur used it to control massive swaths of the Delta Quadrant in antiquity. Almost a thousand years ago, the Vaadwaur were defeated by the Turei Alliance. Believed extinct until 2376, the Vaadwaur have since begun to move quietly again, their motives not fully understood, although many in the Gradin Belt fear that they will eventually attempt to retake control of the Gradin Belt and their former territories.
- Kartelan Protectorate
- Ord’mirit Mining Corporation