In November 2154 a crisis developed in the Alpha Quadrant which presented as local powers striking at one another's ships opportunistically- though brutally and seemingly without reason. In an instance it was felt that deep space, state sponsored terrorism defined Alpha Quadrant shipping agencies, fleets, and exploratory organizations. 'No rules beyond orbit' gained headlines when pundits and theorists began quoting one another about a fight brewing not too far off from Earth... so while originating as a dispute between the Andorians and Government of Tellar Prime, that had to date seen the loss of six Andorian freighters along their border with the Tellarites, the crisis grew to include the Rigellians, Vulcans and United Earth. Confusion and suspicion immediately erupted between worlds as audacious assaults were found to be made against their own shipping- highlighting the vulnerability of open space.
The potential for war in the Alpha Quadrant between the Tellarites and Andorians was too great to ignore by the latter half of the year, and with the dissolution of High Command the Vulcans were no longer in a position to maintain the status quo. Or rather cynically considered, contain Andorian intentions toward Tellar Prime- consistently hardening based on continued provocation. But Vulcan and Earth influence led to the arrangement of a conference on Babel with hopes of avoiding armed contest, and Archer was quickly sent to Tellar Prime to collect an embassy that would transit through the Andorian Empire to Babel for talks.
The Tellarites were suspicious of humanity; as Goyle's influence on United Earth policy regarding the Andorians had not gone un-noticed, and it was believed by the Tellarite Ambassador Gral that humans would naturally side with the Andorians. Vulcan re-assurances behind closed doors brought the Tellarites to the table- as did the assessment by their own Fleet Commanders that they were in no position to prosecute a war with the Andorian Empire on such short notice.
The Andorians meanwhile organised a delegation and dispatched it towards Babel aboard a Battlecruiser with another as escort. En route this party was attacked and destroyed by what appeared to be a Tellarite vessel, the Enterprise NX-01 was able to pick-up the distress signal the Andorians sent out and rescue survivors. The consequence of such was to bring aboard the fiery Andorian General Shran- whom immediately wished retribution and levelled charges at Gral- that the Tellarites were to blame, and this was seemingly confirmed by Starfleet investigation of the wrecks. Imposing discipline aboard the Enterprise forced Archer to effectively confine Andorian and Tellarites aboard his ship to guarded sections- but this didn't stop an attempt being made against Gral, and the subsequent death of an Andorian Officer. An honour duel occurred in the aftermath- where to keep the Andorians and Tellarites aboard and in a position to be lobbied by Starfleet- Captain Archer fought Shran instead of the Tellarite man Naarg, the delegate responsible for killing the Andorian Officer... and so compelled to undertake the fight for 'satisfaction'; Archer as proxy bested Shran the Andorian without killing him.
Meanwhile the Enterprise had followed the warp signature left by the 'Tellarite' ship that had attacked the Andorian delegation firstly, and came across a seemingly abandoned alien drone vessel. A Starfleet away team was immediately beamed aboard to investigate. The alien derelict activated shortly thereafter, and struck at the investigating Earth ship as part of an escape ploy. Contact was lost, and in the meanwhile the drone vessel assumed the identity of the Enterprise and destroyed a Rigellian vessel. At this point it was understood an effort was being made to purposely destabilise the Alpha Quadrant, by culprits unknown, and with the calculations of the Vulcan T'Pol, aboard the Enterprise, a plan came into being to find and destroy the drone.
A sensor grid was required to re-establish contact with the alien vessel- a drone ship beyond known Alpha Quadrant capabilities- that was conducting attacks. Starfleet mobilised all available vessels but the limits of their warp drives delayed arrival and meant that Archer had to approach the Vulcans, and convince the Tellarites and Andorians to assist in the creation of the detection grid in a timely fashion. Quick, rough and frank discussions conducted by Archer allowed the assembly of some 128 starships from the four powers, placed into the command of Enterprise and all assigned to hunt the drone ship.
The offending drone vessel was eventually cornered, attacked and chased off by a detachment of this 'Coalition' fleet with Archer foremost, who in the process recovered his away team that had been trapped aboard, and information about the workings of the drone that led him and the Andorian Shran to conclude the Aenar of Andor might be in some way be connected to the conspiracy...
Rudimentary understandings of the Drone, and its use of tele-presence which the Andorians had conducted research into previously, meant the Enterprise was able to outfit itself with such a unit and take aboard a young Aenar who assisted in the destruction of the Drone and another such vessel, before they could further their attacks on ships in the Alpha Quadrant.
Of the aftermath and events during 'busy November' a few things must be said- firstly that the rapid progression of the crisis convinced a clique of human starship designers in the necessity of pursuing 'speed' at all cost. Being on hand and able to chase down a target was considered most important given that Starfleet was at a 'Maximum Warp' disadvantage to most of its neighbours, and this meant it had little ability to force an encounter. By the end of December this desire for higher Warp capabilities had led to two programs putting together teams: the conventional Warp Seven Complex and the unconventional Mass Effect Drive Team... both of which promised high performance in different ways. The effort to design and produce a starship grade Mass Effect Drive swallowed the 'Core Complex' refit team, which out of Jupiter Station had been responsible for retrofitting all Starfleet vessels- all vessels- assigned to travel via the Mass Relays with a functioning Element Zero Core. An Element Zero Core, it had soon been realised, was absolutely necessary to navigate the network- as part of the design included hardware requirements to utilise the Relay Mass moving facility. On the drawing board Warp Seven promised just that whilst the Effect Drive team theorised short duration but consistent speeds or around Warp Nine. For other Alpha Quadrant Warp theorists this was considered impossible, as Warp Seven and Warp Eight provided immense theoretical challenges... that fathoming the practicalities seemed impossible. As example the people of Coridan, who were themselves exceptional Warp Drive designers, believed a malevolent subspace demon to live at speeds of Warp Nine... that it would take and shake apart any sentient of our plane of existence foolish enough to visit it. Still the humans pressed on, early tests were classified due to losses... it was understood by the Effect Drive team, though not shared, that ships could travel at such speeds but in build up in discharge from drives fried test crews and damaged vessels considerably.
Secondly of 'busy November' and differently, the need for Alpha Quadrant powers to cooperate was made plainly apparent, and so United Earth Minister Nathan Samuels began to make arrangements for a conference to formalise and further establish the Coalition that Archer had cajoled into existence, to defeat the Drone ships then foster a peaceful quadrant in the aftermath.
Finally a review was commissioned into the state of Starfleet- with the intention of the convening Admirals to use it to put forward a message to expand the service; by some larger number of NX class vessels. Columbia NX-02 was launched before the end of the year as the 'proto-hybrid' of both an Element Zero cored and conventionally designed type of ship. NX-02's shakedown was a trying ordeal that required the best Starfleet engineering minds; to resolve issues with its sub-systems.