At the start of 2638, the Kilrathi have already effortlessly rolled across most of the Epsilon Sector. This is more due to lack of Confed presence beyond it shallow border in the sector than Kilrathi efforts. At any given time, no more than two Kilrathi carriers are in the sector. Most of their forces remain in Vega, on a more direct route to Earth. The Council of Eight, as well as powerful planetary Prides, were in an uproar. They had expected the war to be over already, and with it stalling, the opening of a new frontier had also been delayed. To quell internal difficulties, these Prides planned to deport dissatisfied portions of their fief’s populations to newly conquered worlds.
It was only the lack of a free press (and news media in general) that prevented the average Kilrathi from knowing the amount of resistance this supposed prey species was capable. The fight for Hubble IV, though it was effectively in their hands, was still raging as bands of Confed guerillas launched their own hit-and-run raids against Kilrathi outposts and convoys. Not even the most eager of powerful Prides thought it a good idea to begin colonizing the planet. Other worlds, such as McAuliffe VI and Munro III, were seeing the first Prides arrive as early as 2636, when even the most pessimistic of Kilrathi planners anticipated the war being over. Carlin II, already devoid of Terrans, was wide-open to Kilrah’s undesirable Prides from the beginning.
The Frontier worlds were not completely helpless. A sense of betrayal by Confed did grow in its population. But rather than being resentful, the settlers banded together for common defense, now knowing they could not depend upon Earth for any aid. Leading these self-organizing governments was the Free Republic of the Landreich. Landreich was already a de fact independent state existing well beyond Confed’s official borders. However, Landreich did occupy a good position for any future invasions of the Enigma Sector. By 2638, the Kilrathi had only launched a few scouting expeditions into Enigma, raiding commerce and generally acting as pirates.
The Landreich faced similar raids. Their own homegrown industry was not capable of putting out the quality of weapons that Confed took for granted. Landreich also purchased, or "obtained" older, obsolete Confed ships. The Landreich would modify their ships to suit whatever needs were at hand. Many old freighters simply had pulse cannon turrets graphed onto the hull. These ungainly ships did well against the pirates and militia of the Kilrathi frontier, but as of yet had to stand up against frontline warships.
Confed was still incapable of launching any offensive to retake the Vega Sector, but new ships and weapons gave them the ability to strike deep within Kilrathi territory. In May of 2638, TCN launched an attack on the Kilrathi starbase recently completed in the Rostov System. It was not their sector HQ, but it was a vital staging area for further strikes against the Alliance-Hubble Line. Three carriers, the Vanguard, Ranger and Saratoga, all knew carriers, formed the nucleus of the raid, which also included battleship The Seventeen Provinces as well two Belgrade class cruisers and four new Monarch-class cruisers. These new ships caught the Kilrathi off-guard
Such a surprise would not be so for humans, who redesign things on a regular basis. This is not to say the Kilrathi are stagnant, far from it. Instead of total redesigns, they tend to keep the same general configuration for centuries on their ships, but with regular upgrades of hardware. The Fralthi of the start of the war looked pretty much the same as the Fralthi of the end of the war on the outside. The same went with fighters. When Kilrathi bombers were launched from Grn’tahk (Rostov) Station, the pilots were fully versed on the Wildcats they expected to intercept them as well as the Firecats that served as point-defense fighters. When the eighty bombers and their own escorts were intercepted by over a hundred Scimitars, the pilots were at a loss.
At a loss, at least until their own bombers began to explode. Kilrathi Dralthi found themselves equally matched by these new Terran fighters. The fact that Kilrathi seldom changed designs before their war with Earth played further to Terran advantage. IR (image recognition) missiles could be preprogrammed with their targets and fired without waiting for a lock. Many costly defeats would plague the Kilrathi, before their engineers figured out how the "stalker" missiles as they called them, were so successful. It would take only minor cosmetic changes to throw them off.
Of the Kilrathi bombers launched, only a handful of bombers made it through to the fleet. These were intercepted by only recently acquired F-36 Hornets. These point-defense fighters were designed specifically with data obtained about Kilrathi bombers in mind. In the words of surviving Kilrathi pilots, these new fighters were worth two Firecats each. However, no defense was ever perfect, and anti-ship missiles did reach their targets. Many naval personnel were killed and ships damaged, but no ships were lost.
Raptors launched against the Kilrathi starbase were also a surprise for the defenders. Though a few were destroyed by Kilrathi fighters, the Raptor’s own defensive and offensive weapons were more than a match for enemy fighters. More than twenty anti-ship missiles were launched and all but two hit Grn’tahk. The starbase was not destroyed, but its repair facilities were, as well as communications. Supply depots put in a loose orbit around the station went up in spectacular explosions as anti-ship missiles set off all the munitions stored within. While the starbase was not destroyed, it was crippled. A second strike was planned, but the sudden arrival of Kilrathi warships prompted Rear Admiral Turner to quit the system while still ahead.