Star Trek Online is a free-to-play mmorpg set in the old Star Trek continuity, the one before the reboot of JJ Abrams. More precisely, the official start date of the game is 2409-2410. That's 30 years after the movie Nemesis (the latest addition to this continuity) and 22 years after the destruction of Romulus (which will send Ambassador Spock and Romulan miner Nero to the parallel universe of JJ Abrams). Prior to the past few years, the Beta quadrant (and by extension the majority of the Star Trek universe) was dominated by three factions in equilibrium. But this balance was precarious, and the galaxy seems on the verge of falling into war again because of the two survivors. And while the Federation and the Klingon Empire have lived under tension since their first meeting, we must add all those who gravitate around and think they can profit from a conflict.
The United Federation of Planets was founded in 2161 by the humans of Earth, the Vulcans, the Andorians and the Tellarites. Quickly, a common body called Starfleet used for defense and exploration appears. The earthlings quickly gain the ascendancy, being in a phase of expansion that their allies no longer had. The seat of government is on the planet, as is Starfleet and the Fleet Academy. Today, more than 150 planets have joined the Federation in the Beta and Alpha quadrants. Its president is the saurian Aennik Okeg. It has an impressive military power, perhaps even the most numerous in the galaxy. But it is not a question of a fighting force but of defense. The nuance expresses well the thinking of the Federation, which poses as a negotiator, diplomat and protector.
Since the two groups met, the Klingon Empire has been the Federation's main opponent in the Beta quadrant. It was formed around 1500 years ago, 1000 years according to their calendar, by Emperor Kahless on the planet Qo'nos. He established a code of honor for the warrior, and the history of this people is filled with conflicts and events highlighting their martial qualities. In the 21st century, the role of Emperor was dissolved and his role redistributed to the Chancellor of the High Council, a group of nobles. The current one is called J'mpok and seems to have understood the Empire's disadvantage against the Federation: by counting only one species, it limits its pool of troops. His mandate therefore saw several alliances and annexations to bridge this difference. But in a regime where you can take your superior's place simply by defying and killing him, who can say the consequences of such a policy?
Several centuries ago, the Vulcan race split into two. Some were satisfied with an observer role in their sector. Others left to conquer a large part of the Beta sector. They settled on the planet Romulus. They developed invisibility technology, which was later sold to the Klingons. But their status as a galactic power was called into question by the Remian coup d'état (Nemesis) and then the destruction of Romulus. The government was in chaos when the demi-human Sela imposed herself as Empress. His unpopular policies and the abuses of the Tal Shiar political police prompted many of his subordinates to flee. D'Tan, a relative of former Vulcan ambassador Spock, founded the Romulan Republic. A movement considered dissident and terrorist by those close to Sela, but which managed to attract the support of the Federation and the Klingons to strengthen itself. It is this group that we can join in Star Trek Online.
While only these three factions are available to players in Star Trek Online, the galaxy has other states and threats to take down. Like the Cardassian dissidents and the remnants of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant. The Borgs. The Breens. Or the Terran Empire of a parallel universe where everything is reversed. The Federation can boast great peaceful ideals, but the galaxy is always a place of conflict between powers.