The Dominion cold war was an unofficial term for the period from the initial contact between the United Federation of Planets and the Dominion in late 2370 to the onset of the Dominion War in late 2373. During this time, the Founders of the Dominion infiltrated the various powers of the Alpha Quadrant to sow distrust and conflict and pave the way for a full-scale invasion. On the other side, the Alpha Quadrant powers strove to prepare for a cataclysmic war they believed to be inevitable.
First contact Edit
With the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole in 2369, starships from the Alpha Quadrant began exploring the Gamma Quadrant. Rumors were soon heard of a great Gamma Quadrant power known as the Dominion. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition") The Dominion collected extensive intelligence on the Alpha Quadrant but did not initiate official contact until late 2370, when Jem'Hadar forces attacked a number of ships and colonies in the Gamma Quadrant, including the Bajoran colony on New Bajor. On Deep Space 9, Third Talak'talan delivered news of the attacks, along with an ultimatum that the Dominion would no longer tolerate Alpha Quadrant encroachments into "Dominion territory", i.e. the other side of the wormhole.
At the same time, Commander Benjamin Sisko and Quark had been detained by the Jem'Hadar alongside the Vorta Eris, who claimed to be a refugee from a Dominion conquest of Kurill Prime. Starfleet dispatched the Galaxy-class starship USS Odyssey, supported by the runabouts USS Mekong and USS Orinoco, to the Gamma Quadrant to assess the Dominion threat and recover Sisko. The Starfleet force was intercepted by three Jem'Hadar attack ships and found themselves outmatched, as the Jem'Hadar ships utilized phased polaron beams that were completely unimpeded by the shields of the Starfleet vessels.
Although Sisko was retrieved aboard the USS Rio Grande, the Odyssey was lost with all hands while attempting to withdraw when one of the Jem'Hadar ships rammed its main deflector. Sisko observed that the Jem'Hadar's kamikaze run was a demonstration of Dominion resolve, rather than tactical necessity. Back on Deep Space 9, Eris was exposed as a Dominion spy by Quark, which also revealed the Jem'Hadar offensive to be a ruse to plant her in Federation territory. Eris promptly beamed away, though not before warning Sisko, "You have no idea what's begun here." (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")
Rising tensions Edit
After the destruction of the Odyssey, Starfleet assigned the USS Defiant, a Federation warship originally built to battle the Borg, to Deep Space 9 with orders to seek out the Founders and convince them that the Federation posed no threat. The Defiant was equipped with a cloaking device loaned by the Romulan Star Empire, in exchange for all intelligence gathered on the Dominion. (DS9: "The Search, Part I")
Soon after contacting the Karemma, an important client species of the Dominion, the Defiant was captured by the Jem'Hadar. The crew was brought to the Founders' homeworld in the Omarion Nebula and subjected to an elaborate simulation by Borath, meant to ascertain how the Alpha Quadrant would react to a Dominion incursion. The Dominion found that establishing a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, even via ostensibly diplomatic means, would be met by strong resistance including the destruction of the wormhole. The Founders were revealed to be a race of Changelings dedicated to imposing order and security through universal conquest. Patient and far-sighted by nature, the Founders had initiated long-term plans to bring the Alpha Quadrant under their control. The Defiant was permitted to return to Deep Space 9 only through Odo's intervention. (DS9: "The Search, Part II")
The overt Dominion threat seemed to recede in the following months, though the Federation and neighboring powers regarded an invasion as only a matter of time and continued to make war preparations, such as the fortification of Deep Space 9. Starting in mid-2371, a relay station and a series of listening posts were established in the Gamma Quadrant to give advance warning of a Dominion fleet, though Dominion forces kept their distance. (DS9: "Visionary", "The Way of the Warrior", "In Purgatory's Shadow") Exploration and trade through the wormhole resumed despite the ever-present danger of Jem'Hadar attacks. (DS9: "Starship Down") Between 2371 and 2373, at least three Federation starships – the USS Maryland, the USS Proxima, and the USS Sarajevo – were lost in the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow")
Infiltration and destabilization Edit
Dominion quiescence however was deceptive, as multiple Changeling agents were insinuating themselves at the highest levels of the Federation, Klingon Empire, and other powers. Although Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Forces implemented sweeping security procedures to counteract Changeling infiltration, these measures proved ineffective and were easily co-opted by the Changelings. As a result, Alpha Quadrant governments would be repeatedly and often disastrously caught off-guard by Changeling activities during the lead-up to open war. (DS9: "The Adversary", "The Way of the Warrior", "Homefront")
The Dominion identified the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order, both efficient and ruthless intelligence agencies, as key targets. When they learned that Enabran Tain, former head of Obsidian Order, had proposed a joint plan to the Tal Shiar to cripple the Dominion by wiping out the Founders, they saw their own opportunity to eliminate both organizations in a single stroke. A Changeling assumed the identity of Tal Shiar Colonel Lovok and ensured that Tain's plan would be carried out. In late 2371, a secretly assembled fleet of 20 Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order warships bombarded the Founders' homeworld, only to find the planet deserted and 150 Jem'Hadar attack ships lying in wait. The fleet was annihilated, decimating the Tal Shiar and eliminating the Obsidian Order altogether. (DS9: "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast")
Shortly after the Omarion Nebula incident, another Changeling posing as Federation Ambassador Krajensky attempted to incite war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi by seizing control of the USS Defiant and using it to attack the Tzenkethi settlement on M'kemas III. The Defiant crew was able to neutralize the Changeling in time to avert war. (DS9: "The Adversary")
The fall of the Obsidian Order enabled the Cardassian dissident movement to topple the Central Command in early 2372, restoring the authority of the civilian Detapa Council and giving the Dominion another opportunity. A Changeling assuming the identity of General Martok convinced Chancellor Gowron that the Cardassian revolution was a Dominion plot, and that the Klingons must conquer the Cardassian Union to ensure their security. When the Federation Council inevitably condemned the unprovoked invasion, Gowron withdrew from the Khitomer Accords in response. Thus the Dominion shattered the Federation-Klingon Alliance, the main base of military power in the quadrant. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")
Captain Benjamin Sisko managed to preserve the Cardassian state by sheltering the Detapa Council on Deep Space 9 and withstanding the subsequent Klingon siege. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") Nevertheless, the ensuing Klingon-Cardassian War devastated the Cardassian Union. (DS9: "Return to Grace") The Martok Changeling proceeded to convince Gowron to lay a revanchist claim to the Federation Archanis sector in late 2372. Although Starfleet managed to expose Martok as a Changeling and secure a ceasefire with the Klingons in early 2373, tensions between the two former allies again erupted into open war later that year. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising", "Nor the Battle to the Strong")
Meanwhile, paranoia on Earth reached a fever pitch, especially after a Changeling bombed the Antwerp Conference in mid-2372. Admiral Leyton, long convinced that Federation President Jaresh-Inyo was ill-prepared to face the Dominion threat, attempted a military coup d'etat with a cadre of loyal Starfleet officers and the unwitting collusion of Starfleet Academy's Red Squad. In fact, there were only four Changelings on Earth and all evidence of an impending Dominion attack – including a planetary blackout – had been fabricated by Leyton as a pretext for seizing control. The USS Defiant reached Earth with evidence of Leyton's conspiracy, thwarting the coup and averting civil war. (DS9: "Homefront", "Paradise Lost")
By mid-2373, the Alpha Quadrant powers had been sapped by two years of conflict. Starfleet determined that its strength had been depleted to the point that there was no possibility of defeating the Dominion. When a large Dominion fleet was discovered hiding inside a nebula near the wormhole, Starfleet enacted a contingency plan to seal the wormhole using phase-conjugate graviton beams. Again, the Dominion turned this plan to its advantage – a Changeling posing as Doctor Julian Bashir sabotaged the beams to strengthen the wormhole instead, rendering it invulnerable to even trilithium explosives. With their lifeline to the Gamma Quadrant secured at last, the Dominion could fulfill its goal of launching a full-scale incursion into the Alpha Quadrant. (DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow", "By Inferno's Light")
Dominion foothold Edit
Unexpectedly, the first wave of Jem'Hadar warships entering the Alpha Quadrant headed for Cardassian space. Gul Dukat announced that he had secretly negotiated the entry of the Cardassian Union into the Dominion, with himself as the new Cardassian leader. The Cardassian people, having suffered greatly and endured repeated humiliation at the hands of the Klingons and the Maquis, by and large embraced the Dominion. In three days, the Jem'Hadar forced the Klingons into general retreat and massacred the Maquis within the Demilitarized Zone. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light", "Blaze of Glory", "The Changing Face of Evil")
Believing a Dominion attack to be imminent, Sisko convinced Gowron to revive the Khitomer Accords. Starfleet and Klingon forces prepared to make a united stand at Deep Space 9, surprisingly joined by Romulan forces. The Dominion opted for a more devious approach – the Bashir Changeling attempted to induce the Bajoran sun to supernova, which would have wiped out Deep Space 9 and all three fleets at once. The USS Defiant prevented the Changeling from carrying out his mission, delaying the war for the time being. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")
Having established a firm power base in the Alpha Quadrant, the Dominion began sending weekly convoys of warships, troops, and supplies to Cardassian space. The Dominion also began reaching out diplomatically to isolate the Federation and the Klingons, signing nonaggression pacts with the Miradorn, the Tholians, the Bajorans, and most significantly the Romulans. (DS9: "Call to Arms") Hostilities along the Cardassian border escalated, with the USS Tian An Men and the IKS B'Moth among the casualties. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire", "In the Cards") With their strategic situation steadily deteriorating, Starfleet resolved to halt the flow of Dominion reinforcements by blocking the entrance to the wormhole with self-replicating mines. Despite subsequent posturing between Sisko and Weyoun, both sides knew this act would lead directly to war. While Deep Space 9 held back the Dominion attack long enough to activate the minefield, a Federation-Klingon task force advanced into Cardassian space and destroyed the Dominion shipyards at Torros III.