High temperatures, 450+°Kelvin
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The Tholians are an extremely xenophobic, non-humanoid hermaphroditic race with a propensity for precision, native to the Alpha Quadrant.
History and politics
The head governmental unit of the Tholians was the Tholian Assembly. During the mid-22nd century, the Vulcan High Command had only limited contact with the Assembly.
First Contact with Earth
In 2152 the Tholians made an unusual move and travelled far beyond their territory and actively sought to possess a 31st century time-travel pod discovered by the Earth starship Enterprise, under the command of Jonathan Archer. Four Tholian starships intercepted and disabled the Vulcan cruiser Tal'Kir, while it waited to rendezvous with Enterprise. They in turn attacked and defeated the Suliban fleet that was in pursuit of the arriving Earth ship. They then successfully removed the pod from Enterprise's possession, only to have the pod return to its proper timeline moments later.
The Defiant incident
In the mirror universe, in 2155, the Tholians detonated a tri-cobalt warhead inside the gravity well of a dead star. The explosion created an interphasic rift which acted as a doorway to an alternate universe. Because of its instability, the Tholians reasoned that it was too dangerous to send one of their own ships through, so they transmitted a distress call into the opening, hoping to lure a ship from the other side.
In 2268, the Federation starship USS Defiant would enter this region of space, annexed by the Tholians, in response to the mirror universe distress call. Three weeks later, the starship USS Enterprise would discover the Defiant trapped in a spatial interphase, only to observe the starship, and consequently landing party leader James T. Kirk, cross over into the mirror universe.
Shortly thereafter, a Tholian starship intercepted the Enterprise, demanding that it should leave Tholian territory. At the request of First Officer Spock to be allowed to rescue Kirk from the Defiant, Tholian Commander Loskene allowed them a small timeframe, before they were required to withdraw. The Enterprise crew was unable to rescue Kirk in the time provided and the Tholians opened fire, damaging the Enterprise and, after the arrival of a second Tholian starship, attempted to trap it in their web. The Enterprise, however, was able to recover Kirk and successfully escape, before they fell victim to the web.
Contact with the Tholians over the next century would be sporadic. In 2353, the Tholians destroyed a Federation starbase, precipitating what many would later call the Tholian Conflict. The only survivor of this attack was Kyle Riker, the father of Starfleet Captain William T. Riker. The frequency of Tholian attacks would remain sufficient enough for Starfleet to develop Tholian-based battle simulations.
They would remain a threat well into the 2360s, when it was anticipated by Klingon Special Emissary K'Ehleyr that if a Klingon Civil War were to break out in 2367, the Tholians might eventually be involved. This fear, however, did not come to pass when the civil war broke out months later.
In the late 2380s, possibly fearful of the Federation's renewed stance towards exploration, and what may be seen as 'expansionist attitudes', a number of skirmishes began to be reported between Tholian and Federation starships along the border separating the Tholian's territorial annex from space patrolled by the Federation near Cait. In response to this, Starfleet reassigned a number of ships to the border region, watchful to prevent the Tholians from taking the decision to attempt to 'annex' any Federation worlds along the border.
Trade and diplomacy
The Tholians maintained ambassadors with other powers throughout the Alpha Quadrant. In 2371, a Tholian ambassador visiting DS9 reported that someone broke into his quarters during the night and stole three cases of latinum.
The following year, a Tholian observer was killed in the bombing of the Antwerp Conference on Earth by a Dominion infiltrator. Despite this, the Tholians would sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion the following year, prior to the outbreak of the Dominion War, remaining neutral throughout the conflict.
In 2379, Romulan Senator Tal'aura had an appointment with the Tholian ambassador to Romulus, conveniently causing her to leave the Senate chambers only moments before the assassination of the entire Senate.
A living Tholian was approximately the same height as a Human. It was principally a reddish color, in varying shades, and there was the suggestion of fluid or field motion within the body. Tholians had a hard carapace that was chiefly mineral. There were six thin legs that made it possible for the being to move in any direction quickly; the legs were articulated with joints roughly corresponding to the knee and ankle of humanoid species. Each leg ended in a multi-toed foot. The legs were attached at the base of the torso and were radially symmetric. There were two arms; each had joints analogous to the humanoid elbow and wrist, and each arm ended in a multi-fingered hand. There was slightly visible neck that was covered on a semitransparent dome membrane that shielded the head. Tholians had two glowing spots near the top of their torso. They turned these to face individuals with whom they interacted, which suggested they had some sort of information-gathering organ(s). Tholians did have two sexes, but each individual had both sets of sexual organs.
Tholian biology required high temperatures – in excess of 450 Kelvin (177 °C, 350 °F). They could tolerate lower temperatures for a brief period of time; if they were exposed to too low temperatures, their carapace would crack. This was painful or distressing; a Tholian subjected to such a temperature regime could be coerced to cooperate. In temperatures even lower, a Tholian would freeze solid and shatter. This is pointing to a highly exoskeletal anatomy that shields the inner body that has fluidical circulatory system. Tholians had something analogous to biochemical processes.
Tholians were naturally able to emit various forms of radiation, which they could modulate. They could communicate over short distances in this fashion.
Society and culture
Tholians are brusque to the point of harshness, and territorial to the point of xenophobia. Some Tholians seem almost machine-like, with strict concerns for punctuality, timetables, and set patterns, but can respond with seemingly irrational force to minor stimuli or suddenly break off a certain victory for no apparent cause. During several confrontations with the Federation, Tholian behaviour could best be described as aggressive and territorial. Tholians rarely advanced very far from their home system, and are known to kill outsiders caught trespassing in their territory. They were also known to frequently annex surrounding systems outside of the Assembly, to further isolate their territory.
Tholian motives are very difficult for most Federation races to comprehend. Following the Tholian Conflict in the 2350s and 60s, the Tholian's sudden request for a truce came as a complete surprise to many Starfleet analysts, as did the request for ambassadorial relations in 2369. Over the decades, the Tholians have shown on numerous occasions to have the propensity for performing one series of actions for which a suitable motive can be theorised by Federation tacticians, followed very rapidly by a complete turn-about, with the government rapidly pursuing a course very much to the contrary of their previous decisions. Sociologists have speculated that this may be because of possible rapid changes in Tholian leadership on the elusive homeworld, or even due to the Tholian's ability to communicate with each other almost instantly over long distances, without the use of communications technology, and that critical information that would sway the leadership's decision in the other direction is disseminated almost instantly. Neither of these theories are supported by facts or studies, however.
Tholian weddings involved paying a dowry. Furthermore, Tholian silk was highly prized and a difficult commodity to obtain. A Tholian ambassador owed Benjamin Sisko a favour and obtained silk for him.
OOC Information for COs
- The Tholians are a Trek Canon race created for Star Trek: The Original Series, in the episode "The Tholian Web".