Cardassian history is perhaps one of the most brutal histories of any species inhabiting the Alpha Quadrant. Originally, the Cardassian homeworld was that of a deeply spiritual and artistic people, which soon fell into decay when famine and plague struck their civilization. Over the years, Cardassian society evolved to adopt a philosophy that sacrificed their individual freedoms for the greater good of the state and their society. For over five centuries, the iron fisted Cardassian military sought to solve Cardassia's problems through the conquest of numerous worlds and species throughout the galaxy, leading to an era of expansion and conflict. This ultimately left Cardassian civilization in ruins once again after suffering the staggering losses of two major wars.
- 1 The Hebitian Age
- 2 The Space Age
- 3 The Creation of the Union
- 4 A Century of War
- 5 Cardassia and the Dominion
The Hebitian Age
Cardassian recorded history begins in the first Hebitian Era. The reign of the Hebet dynasty and the subsequent prosperous and peaceful years of the Hebitian League are considered to be a golden age of Cardassian civilization. While it is true that this was an era of unparalleled artistry that produced many of Cardassia's most valued artifacts and monuments; the Hebitian League was built on the backs of slaves and the lower classes. As ever, most Cardassians were simply struggling to survive.
The First Hebitian Period
Garash Hebet was born the only son of Onat Hebet, the ruler of the city of Korlarem. Onat had used Korlarem's armies to conquer much of the surrounding region. He raised crippling taxes on conquered peoples so that he could build Korlarem into a vast and majestic city.
Garash was raised to rule over his father's empire. However, as he approached manhood, it became apparent that he was cut from a different cloth than his father. His aunt Madita, who was matriarch of Korlarem's wealthiest merchant family, had supervised Garash's education. Madita taught him that money and bargaining were often better methods for achieving one's goals than force. While Onat was a straightforward man, Madita was wily. And Garash learned that from her too.
Onat refused to hand over his city and his armies to his son. But little by little, Garash gained control. With Madita's assistance he gained a prominent place on the city's council. Here he could influence monetary and legal rulings for the city and the conquered lands. Time and again he clashed with his father over council decisions about taxation and funding for the army.
As Onat grew older he lost the stomach for the constant battling with his son. He spent longer and longer away from Koralem, leading his armies in battle. Garash Hebet became de facto ruler of Koralem. History does not record the fate of Onat Hebet.
Initially, Garash's reforms were slow. As his influence increased, he made more and more sweeping changes. He abolished the heavy taxes that were such a burden on the peoples that his father had conquered. He sent diplomatic expeditions beyond the borders of his lands. His armies were re-deployed defensively. Soon news of Korlarem’s wealth and prosperity spread throughout the Okaba region.
Harahk, the ruler of the city-state of Gurrettal saw Korlarem as a rich target for his conquest. On four occasions, Garash had to lead his armies in defense of his realm. Time and again he sent emissaries to his enemy, with offers of alliances and trading pacts.
Harahk grew bored with the offers of peace and had the neck bones of one emissary sent back to Garash. Enraged, Garash raised a huge army and lead them to conquer Gurrettal. Garash Hebet was killed during the siege of the city, and Gurrettal was razed to the ground in vengeance.
Garash's eldest son, Famar, became ruler of Korlarem. The city coffers had been depleted by his father's campaign against Harahk. Famar knew that he must expand the city's trading links to restore the city’s prosperity. He sent emissaries and explorers to ever more distant lands.
He was rewarded when one of his expeditions met a similar party of Ka'radan traders from Hannarad. These men had traveled far and wide in search of trade. They knew of many peoples who were willing to exchange foods, goods and treasures. The Ka’radan traders were invited to return to Korlarem to meet Famar Hebet.
Famar was delighted to meet them. He spent days in discussion with them. The more he learned of Cardassia, the more he wanted to know. Eventually the Ka’radan traders were dispatched back to their home, laden with gifts and with a singular offer. Famar Hebet himself wished to make the journey to Hannarad to discuss an alliance.
From this meeting the Hebitian League was formed. Initially the League was only a trading agreement between Korlarem and several city-states in Hannarad. In the decades that followed the trading expeditions from Hannarad and Korlarem spread the news of the League. Slowly the League grew to incorporate dozens of cities, spread over thousands of miles. Food, livestock, jewelry, and works of art were traded across Cardassia. Eventually nations were formed peacefully within the alliances of League. It was a time of peace, abundance, and prosperity that lasted for four thousand years. Cardassia would never see such a time again.
The Fall of the Hebitian League
The League did not reach all of Cardassia. On the other side of the virtually impassable Heshkar Ridge were the Sotaran nations. These peoples developed at a slower pace then the Hebitian League as they did not have the benefit of shared technologies and peaceful coexistence. These were a people endlessly at war. Their nations were created through conquest and borders rarely remained constant from one year to the next.
Conflict was inevitable when the Sotarans first encountered the Hebitians. The Hebitians appeared to be a fat and complacent people, ripe for conquest. But in fact the Hebitians maintained a well-trained and well-equipped army. The first Sotaran assaults on the Hebitian cities were repelled with ease and punitive raids against the Sotarans were simply massacres.
The Hebitians were all too keen to trade with their new neighbors after they had been put in their place. The Sotarans learned Hebitian metallurgical techniques and other technologies to craft swords and other weaponry. They traded for riding animals to build a cavalry. Within a generation of their first defeats the Sotarans struck again.
The Hebitians found themselves at war with a battle-hardened enemy that was as well-equipped as them and determined to avenge past defeats. Wars raged on and off for one hundred and fifty years. Bitter internal divisions within the Hebitian League caused fractures within. Nations and cities not under threat from the Sotarans refused to aid those who were. Nations in western Patka saw their opportunity to seize territory from the hard-pressed Hebitians on the other side of the straits. One by one the Sotarans pillaged the League cities until they reached Koralem itself.
The siege of Korlarem lasted three years. The Sotarans breached the great city’s walls one by one. When the attackers reached the heart of the city, they put every man, woman and child to death. Fasmar Hebet, ruler of the city and head of the Hebitian League, was executed and his headless corpse was hung over the city gate for a month.
In the following centuries, small nations were born and died all across Okaba. The displaced Hebitian peoples built new cities and fought the Sotaran conquerors while Sotaran warlords fought over conquered territory.
The Second Hebitian Era
Historians broadly classify four and a half thousand years of history as the Second Hebitian Period. This is inaccurate in two ways: primarily because this era had little to do with the Hebet dynasty, and secondly, there was no single political entity that lasted throughout the entire period.
The catalyst for the creation of a new unity between the nations of Cardassia was the priest Heket. He had spent much of his life traveling throughout Cardassia to study and catalogue the vast pantheon of gods worship by different peoples. From all that he learned, he distilled a single, all-encompassing doctrine of faith. This he named Telerath Jonak. And his followers spread his teachings across Cardassia.
Julun Kassat, a powerful Sotaran ruler, learned of Heket's teachings and took them to heart. Some accounts say that Kassat's transformation from aggressive warlord to advocate of Telerath Jonak was nothing short of miraculous. It is more likely that Kassat had mellowed in his old age. He had achieved both wealth and renown, and had a large family. He was perhaps looking for something different to occupy his time.
He had been recently been approached by Xanam Hebet, a leader of a small Hebitian nation called Darada. Hebet had proposed and alliance, but Kassat had laughed in his face and told Hebet that he would conquer Darada if he chose. After he read Heket's doctrines, Kassat summoned Hebet back to him. He told Hebet that he would agree to an alliance, provided Hebet agreed to teach Telerath Jonak to his people. He also threatened to conquer Darada and teach it himself if the other leader declined. Hebet agreed.
In a similar manner, Kassat the Warlord spread Heket's word to many surrounding lands. His devotion to Telerath Jonak was famous, but it was always the promise of alliance that brought new nations into the fold. By the time of Kassat's death, there were peaceful and allied nations across all of Okaba.
Kassat’s eldest daughter, Galebra, was a Telerath Jonak fanatic. She married Xanam Hebet, and together they expanded the alliance, through conquest and threats. Their descendents would continue to exert considerable influence within the alliance for over five hundred years.
At its height, the Hebitian alliance was spread across a third of Cardassia. Art, philosophy and religion flourished, hand in hand with science and discovery. Many significant advances were made in metallurgy, engineering, weaponry, agriculture and medicine. However, it was those technological advances that brought an end to the alliance.
The history of the Hebitian alliance was never a peaceful one. Nations within the alliance fought amongst themselves and those states on the borders had to constantly defend themselves from without. The development of gunpowder weaponry sparked off an arms race within the alliance. As one nation gained bigger and better cannons, they felt compelled to demonstrate them by trying them out on their neighbors. As artillery became heavier and musketry was introduced onto the battlefield, more and more nations were convinced that they had superiority over their enemies. Eventually the entire alliance was at war with itself.
The former alliance nations waged war amongst themselves for several hundred years. Several attempts were made by rulers to unite nations and restore peace. Usually they only succeeded in achieving temporary agreements between a handful of states. Some were more successful than others.
Rifon Haradas founded the Third Hebitian Empire when he negotiated a pact between twelve nations. Together they conquered all of Okaba and most of Sotara. Haradas declared himself 'Emperor of Cardassia' and ruled from Korlarem with an iron hand. His empire lasted until the death of his great grandson, who left no heirs. The twelve-nation pact collapsed as its signatories fought bitterly over who would rule the empire.
The Sotaran-Hebitian League was a loose alliance of states in Okaba and Sotara that were freed after the collapse of the Empire. They allied for mutual defense and economic benefit and brought peace and prosperity to their peoples for over two hundred years.
Historians classify other multinational alliances in Okaba as the fifth through to seventh Hebitian eras. Some even consider there to have been eighth and ninth eras. By the end of the thirteenth century, there were no longer any accords between nations of any kind.
The Unification of Cardassia
The crash of the Bajoran solar sailing vessel is arguably the most significant single event in Cardassian history. It inspired one man to unify Cardassia, to halt the planet's descent into chaos and to drive Cardassians into space. And it remained the most closely guarded secret on Cardassia for 800 years.
In the three hundred years since the end of the second Hebitian era, Cardassia had entered the industrial age. Cardassian nations exploited every last resource that the planet could offer. The air in some cities was so polluted that it was unbreathable. The oceans became dumping grounds for sewage, toxic waste and waste nuclear materials. Vast swathes of forest were destroyed to make way for the gigantic factory farms that were required to feed the ever-expanding population, and the pesticides used on these farms found its way into the water table to poison flora and fauna alike.
The shortages of resources resulted in conflict. Wars were fought for control of resource-rich regions, farms and even over single mines or factories. There was international trade, however Cardassian leaders generally believed that it was better to take something by force rather than pay for it.
One such leader was Urrent Gar. He was the ruler of Lerasan, a large nation in eastern Sotara. Gar understood modern warfare and weaponry and his army was his pride and joy. He had conquered two small nations and possessed nuclear weapons to deter his larger neighbors.
The Coming of the Bajorans
It was early on a summer evening when the Bajoran spacecraft came hurtling through the skies and crashed in a remote part of Lerasan. Once the true nature of the crashed object was known, Gar's military moved quickly to seize the craft. It was removed to a nearby base and a cover story was concocted. The crashed vessel was later moved to a secure location for detailed study. The corpses of the Bajoran crew were autopsied.
Until the existence of the Bajoran craft was revealed, history had shown Urrent Gar to be megalomaniac conqueror. But the truth about his motives is little different. When Urrent Gar came to see the vessel, he was shocked by the absolute proof that aliens existed and that they had greater technology than the Cardassians. He immediately realized that these aliens posed a threat to Cardassia. Gar spent long weeks wondering what to do about the ship. He considered informing the world about the ship, but he did not believe that other nations would put aside their rivalries, even in the face of an alien threat. His final solution was a dramatic one; he would unify Cardassia and prepare the planet to fight.
Gar's Campaign Begins
Gar made careful preparations. He knew that his nation could not conquer Cardassia. He increased the size of his armed forces and began to stockpile nuclear weapons. He dispatched emissaries to secure allies and sent spies to every nation on Cardassia. He hoped that the Bajoran ship would yield technological advances that would assist him, but he did not count on them.
It was more than four years before he made his first move. Within a week Gar's assassins killed heads of state in two nations, plunging them into political turmoil; his tanks rolled across two small nations and into a third; and his nuclear missiles destroyed four major cities of his most powerful enemy.
Nations across Cardassia protested uproariously about Gar's actions. Gar appeared cowed by the threats of retaliation, but while Cardassian leaders talked, he was consolidating his gains.
Gar waited for almost two years before he struck again. He began slowly, by seizing resource-rich territories from three neighboring states. He then waited for their response.
The nations of Aravasi, Jarosana, and Koloen formed a defensive alliance against further aggression by Gar. But Gar's spies had learned that the alliance was somewhat shaky. Gar sent secret proposals to Aravasi and Koloen offering them security and territory if they did not assist the Jarosana when he attacked. They both agreed. Gar's armies outflanked Jarosana’s by maneuvering through Aravasi and Koloen. Jarosana surrendered after only six weeks of fighting.
This relatively straightforward conquest allowed Gar to continue his expansion. A small expeditionary force was transported across the ocean to the desert region of Elekanda. They seized towns and settlements and established bases with little resistance from the small indigenous population. When the occupiers began to enslave the local men and abuse their women, a fierce resistance movement began. The rebels hid in the desert and waged a guerrilla war. Gar's troops could not fight and survive in the desert and failed repeatedly to hunt down the rebels.
Gar's forces also conquered several small nations to the north and to the west. His expansion continued until his borders met those of powerful nations. Now Gar controlled almost two entire continents but his next obstacles were formidable ones. He was surrounded on three sides by nations armed with nuclear weapons.
Conquest of the North
Again Gar paused to consolidate his gains. Leaders loyal to Gar were installed in conquered nations and the populations were allowed the freedom to continue with their lives. Only a small fraction of the resources from the conquered nations was siphoned off for Gar's armies. But this was enough for him to expand his armies still further.
To the north lay Findara, a nation of fiercely independent people. Their nuclear arsenal was relatively small but was easily capable of destroying Lerasan. The Findarans had repeatedly threatened Gar with nuclear strikes if he continued his aggression. Gar knew they would not hesitate to retaliate if he invaded their homeland.
Gar's agents gradually infiltrated the Findaran military. They discovered of the location of the Findaran’s missile silos and they learned the exact quantity of mobile launchers. Gar's special forces were dispatched across the border to destroy the mobile launchers while his agents sabotaged the silo-launched missiles. The operation was almost entirely successful. When Gar's tanks rolled in Findara only two missiles were launched. One destroyed the Headquarters of Gar's northern army and a significant percentage of the supplies and munitions required for the coming invasion. The second was a dud that landed on the capital of Lerasan, only meters from Gar's command bunker.
The invasion of Findara was a long and bitter struggle. Gar's army had to root out the enemy from every mountain village and coastal harbor. The Findarans were a seagoing people and their navy was superior in both men and ships. Gar's army constantly found itself under the guns of Findara's battleships or being outflanked by amphibious assaults. Gar's air force systematically destroyed the Findaran navy before the army could make serious progress.
It took almost two years to conquer Findara and pockets of resistance fought on for years later. In the following year Gar's armies marched through the rest of the Hannarad continent. Most of the small nations were happy to acquiesce to Gar's rule when promised that they would be left alone on the condition that they supplied him with the resources he asked for.
Gar adopted different approaches to Redaran to the south and Wasir to the west. The Rendarans were a belligerent and aggressive people. Gar knew that he would not get off as lightly as he had in the conflict with Findara. Instead of the expected attack, he chose to amplify his policy of deterrence. He increased the number of nuclear missiles stationed close to the Rendaran border. His message was simple: any Rendaran attack would be suicide. Gar knew that his solution was not permanent, but it would keep the Rendarans out of his hair for a while.
Gar adopted a policy towards the Wasiri that was almost the opposite of his Rendaran one. Wasir was a semi-democratic nation whose people considered their way of life to be superior to that of every other Cardassian nation. Gar offered the Wasiri peace. He unilaterally withdrew his nuclear weaponry from the Wasir border and offered a non-aggression pact. The Wasiri government accepted the hand of peace. However there was some internal dissent in Wasir. A large number of Wasiri considered the formation of any kind of alliance with Gar to be a betrayal of their principals.
To continue his campaign of unification, Gar need to bypass either Wasir or Rendaran to reach the regions of Okaba, Venarhond and Kolari. He achieved this through the backdoor. Golun Jakat, Gar's ambassador to Wasir successfully negotiated a trade agreement that included a paragraph allowing the movement of men and material through Wasir. The Wasiri did not anticipate that Gar would use this clause to mount an invasion.
The Wasiri feared the worst when Gar's men and tanks poured across their border. However Gar was simply taking advantage of his agreement. His officers were under strict instructions that no harm was to come to any Wasiri person or property, any damage was to be paid for and any man violating these orders was to be handed over to the Wasiri authorities.
However the troop movement caused uproar amongst the Wasiri populace, despite its legality and Gar's personal assurances. There were riots and blockades of the highways preventing the passage of Gar's troops. The Wasiri head of government resigned. The troops merely waited until the local authorities cleared the roads and passed through without major incident.
Gar's target was the small and inconsequential coastal nation of Saditir. The Saditiri army was well aware that Gar's army was coming, however they were outnumbered ten to one. Gar's navy began shelling the Saditiri capital from offshore as his army passed through Wasir. The Saditiri government's resolve faltered even before a single tank crossed into their country and they surrendered. Their Generals were made of sterner stuff and refused the order to surrender. Instead, the army fought the invaders to the last man.
Gar believed that he had secured his beachhead into Okaba, but the Wasiri had different ideas. The new Wasiri leader, Keren Hunak, closed the roads through his nation and demanded that Gar withdraw his troops from Saditir. Gar responded by returning his nuclear weapons to the Wasiri border and sending a new convoy of troops into Wasir.
A large contingent of Wasiri troops halted the convoy and surrounded it. Hunak gave Gar an ultimatum, "Withdraw all occupying forces from Saditir, and order the return of the troops currently in Wasiri territory within eight days or face the most terrible consequences."
The whole of Cardassia waited with baited breath for eight days while two great nations threatened to begin a war that could result in the destruction of their entire planet. Hunak believed himself to have the moral high ground and his actions were widely supported by his people. Gar, however was unwilling to see the end of his campaign to unite Cardassia. But it was Gar who backed down.
On the evening of the seventh day, Gar publicly announced his compliance in person. His carefully worded statement portrayed the Hunak as the aggressor who had almost plunged Cardassia into a nuclear holocaust and suggested that it was time for Cardassian nations to begin nuclear disarmament.
While Gar's diplomats worked very publicly with their Wasiri and Rendaran counterparts, his troops were being relocated to Elekanda. Here they began to systematically crush the rebels that had been plaguing his outposts for years. Hunak condemned Gar's actions in Elekanda, but Gar knew that the Wasiri people would not support a confrontation over a few savages in a land thousands of miles away.
Gar continued his campaign in the only direction that was open to him - into Rekonda. Long supply routes that traversed the ocean and thousands of miles of deserts hampered his army, but it was fighting less technologically advanced peoples with disorganized militaries.
Gar fortified his borders in eastern Rekonda, and began to build his forces. Short-range nuclear missiles were targeted on Patkan cities.
While Gar's troops were preparing to invade Patka, his diplomats were negotiating the disarmament of long-range nuclear weapons in Okaba and Sotara. His negotiators had strict instructions not to agree to any inclusion of short-range weapons in the talks. Gar knew that he would need in his continuing campaign.
Despite the fact that his forces were poised to invade several Patkan nations, Gar began to paint himself as a peacekeeper and unifier. To add weight to his claim, he returned three conquered nations to the rule of their own people. These were three of the least troublesome of his conquests, whose governments would support extensive treaties with Gar. The three nations were not permitted to have their own armed forces. Instead Gar's troops were stationed in their territory, supposedly for their defense.
Gar's critics, especially Keren Hunak, claimed that he was merely trying to mask his warmongering conquests with his talk of unification. But Gar's words did not fall on deaf ears.
In Patka, eight nations were attempting to negotiate a mutual defense pact. The talks fell apart when two nations declared that they intended to negotiate an alliance with Gar. Like dominoes, the other Patkan nations followed. None were prepared to face the might of Gar's armies alone. Soon every nation in Patka was clamoring to join Gar in an alliance. Gar's troops moved into Patka uncontested and looked across the straits towards the nation of Gerish.
Okaba was home to the richest and most technologically advanced nations on the planet. Gar knew that without these nations, he would never fulfill his vision of a unified Cardassia.
Gar moved his short-range nuclear missiles close into Patkan cities. His troops ruthlessly quashed local protest. He was gambling that Gerish's leaders would not target the populated areas with their own nuclear weapons.
Gerish's ruling elite was among the most ruthless aristocrats on Cardassia. Some families could trace their lineage back to the First Hebitian era. They had remained in power for thousands of years by crushing revolutions, conquering their enemies and betraying their friends. They did not appreciate being threatened by an upstart like Gar.
Gerish launched a pre-emptive strike. Tactical nuclear missiles were launched at concentrations of Gar's forces. Within minutes half of Gar's soldiers were dead, consumed by the fierce heat of nuclear fireballs.
Gar made a mistake by believing that Gerish would not fire on Patkan cities. But Gerish's leaders were equally mistaken when they ordered the nuclear strike. While they severely damaged Gar's ability to mount an attack, they failed to target his nuclear weaponry and they succeeded in making an enemy of the Patkans.
The attack inflicted significant collateral damage on Patkan cities. Twelve thousand Patkan civilians were killed, forty thousand lost their homes and uncounted thousands would suffer the extended effects of radiation poisoning. The Patkans demanded retribution.
The Patkan leaders requested that Gar launch a retaliatory strike. Gar agreed, on the condition that the Patkan nations would lend troops to conquer Gerish. They readily agreed.
One hundred and twenty two tactical and strategic nuclear warheads were launched at Gerish. Every city and town, every military base, every power station, and every major road were demolished by nuclear explosion. Forty three million men, women and children perished that day. In the invasion that followed, Patkan soldiers slaughtered every survivor they encounter in revenge for their countrymen.
Every Cardassian nation condemned Gar. Across the world, leaders began to negotiate defense pacts. Keren Hunak tried to organize an alliance of nations to stop Gar, but too many leaders could see the outcome of opposing him.
The End of the Campaign
Gar knew that he could not halt his advance into Okaba. His forces could not wait for re-supply and reinforcements in the radiation soaked wasteland of Gerish. He ordered his forces into Ashkawin, a small agricultural nation to the north.
The Ashkawin army held firm against the first assault. Morale was low among Gar's troops. Many were suffering from radiation sickness and all of them had witnessed the horrors of nuclear devastation first hand. When the Ashkawin forces counter-attacked, Gar's army was routed out of Ashkawin and back into Gerish. Gar's generals withdrew their forces back across the straits into Patka, against Gar’s direct order.
Gar was furious when he learned of the retreat. He had three of his generals executed for disobeying his orders. He began to plan another assault into Okaba. He vowed that any nation that stood against him would face nuclear annihilation.
After Gar's rage abated, he began to listen to the calmer heads amongst his advisors. Notable amongst them was Dal Vetrecia, a senior intelligence analyst and Gar's lover. They suggested that Gar should cease his attempts to conquer Cardassia by force. They proposed he should set up a world government instead, and invite every nation to join.
Vetrecia's intelligence on unconquered nations swayed Gar towards their proposal. Most nations were afraid of Gar's military. The annihilation of Gerish had every advanced nation building short- and medium-ranged nuclear weapons. Any further nuclear conflict would begin a nuclear arms race that would have cataclysmic consequences. In private, Vetrecia pointed out to Gar that a Cardassia unified by conquest would be too weak to resist any alien attack. This convinced Gar.
What he did not realize was that Vetrecia had manipulated him. She had played down the importance of vital intelligence concerning the security of several conquered nations and the potential effect Gar's apparent weakness would have.
Her motives for her actions remain unclear. Perhaps she simply sought peace, or wanted to be the first lady of Cardassia at Gar's right hand. Most likely, she was engaged in an elaborate scheme to seize power from him. But any historical evidence was lost in the chaos that followed Gar's fall.
Gar announced to the world that he was planning a summit meeting for the leaders of every nation on Cardassia. This historic meeting would be the first step to forming a united world government, Gar grandly claimed. He also suggested that his empire was about to begin a space program, and that he would allow any state that participated in the summit to join the space program.
The summit appeared to be enormously successful. Only three nations refused to attend: Wasir, Saditir and the government in exile of Gerish. Every leader in attendance wanted to meet with every other. More trade agreements and defense pacts were signed during the summit than in the whole of Cardassian history.
In reality the summit had achieved little. It overran by almost three weeks, yet the heads of state failed to collectively agree on anything except that they would hold further regular summits. The nations that had joined up to Gar's space program had only agreed to commit small quantities of resources with no promise of anything in return. Despite this, after the delegates returned to their respective nations, Gar declared himself the Unifier of Cardassia.
The Space Age
The First Steps into Space
Cardassian nations had been using chemical rockets for two decades as weapons and to launch communications and spy satellites into low orbit. The prospect of building rockets large enough to carry Cardassians into space was prohibited by the vast cost involved. Only Urrent Gar, ruler of two thirds of the planet, had access to the resources required and the desire to venture into space.
Scientists and engineers struggled for almost ten years to design a rocket large enough to carry a manned capsule into orbit. Gar seriously considered scrapping the program and replacing it with a massive missile defense project capable of defending Cardassia against attack from space.
But the solution was already under investigation. Almost twenty years after it crashed, the Bajoran capsule gave up its first secret - a lightweight alloy. This revelation was announced as a breakthrough by a commercial metallurgical concern and was quickly pressed into use by the space program.
Gar stood along side the leaders of every major nation on Cardassia as he watched the rocket carrying the capsule containing the astronaut Gir Yarin blast into space. All of Cardassia watched for three days as Yarin's capsule orbited the planet and then returned safely to Cardassian soil.
To the Planets
In the decade following Yarin's first flight, a dozen more Cardassians were launched into orbit. But the space program was in danger of being cancelled. Several conquered nations in Gar's empire were showing the first signs of revolt and Gar had to devote resources to maintain control. The other nations that contributed to the program were growing weary of supplying valuable resources for no measurable return.
Gar knew that if the space program were to survive it would have to have a definite goal. He decided that Cardassia must venture to the planets. When he presented his plan to the Cardassian leaders, he put it into terms that they would understand. Any nation that contributed to the program would be granted resources rights on Cardassia IV in proportion to their contributions. No nation on Cardassia could ignore this and every nation except Gerish contributed.
The project was given a five-year deadline. If the team could not achieve that, they would have to wait two more years for the planetary orbits to reach alignment again. There would be no test launches and no test flights. Against all odds, a gigantic five-stage rocket was designed, constructed and launched on time.
After a three-month flight, a six-man team led by Darin Ikarra landed on the surface of Cardassia IV. Ikarra and his team spent several hours outside in environmental suits before they opened their helmets to breathe the air of a new world.
After the first successful flight to Cardassia IV every nation on Cardassia was hankering after further missions to establish a permanent base and begin exploiting the planet. Two further rockets were under construction when a further technological development was extrapolated from data gained from the Bajoran ship - fusion power.
The two missions were launched to Cardassia IV and the base was established. Almost immediately following their launch, a fusion-powered craft was launched into orbit by rocket and traveled to Cardassia V in a fraction of the time the two great rockets took to reach Cardassia IV.
Gar now believed that he had achieved what he had set out to do. In less than three decades he had unified Cardassia and given her the power to face any threat from space. Now seventy years old, he began to look for a successor.
Urrent Gar's Legacy
Urrent Gar never quite achieved his dream of unifying Cardassia. National leaders would continue to meet annually, but it would be another two hundred and eighty years before a single government ruled Cardassia. However, he did take his race into space and prepared them for conflict among the stars.
But his most lasting achievement remained a secret during his lifetime - the Obsidian Order. He appointed Dal Vetrecia as the head of the Order and charged her with three specific tasks. Its primary objective was to protect Cardassia from threats without and within. The second objective was to safeguard the Bajoran craft and ensure its secrecy. Its final task was to ensure that when Cardassian ships ventured beyond the bounds of the Cardassian system it did not approach Bajor. Gar believed that the Bajorans must be a highly advanced civilization, and therefore should be avoided until Cardassia was capable of meeting them on equal terms.
Gar failed to find a successor whom he could trust with his empire. As his mind was eroded by senility, his empire was eroded by internal strife and rebellion. Finally Obsidian Order agents at the command of Dal Vetrecia assassinated him, so that she could place her puppet on his throne. But she was too late, for Gar's empire had fallen.
The Creation of the Union
In the first decades of space travel, international rivalries began to spill into space. Cardassia IV had been terraformed by an engineered virus and had become the breadbasket for Cardassia Prime. Every space-going nation on Cardassia was racing to exploit it to its full potential. Military units were dispatched to protect their countries' interests. Open conflict became more likely with every passing day.
The discovery of warp travel averted the brewing conflict. Suddenly it seemed as if the Cardassians need not squabble amongst themselves for scarce resources. Now they had the whole galaxy to exploit.
The Cardassians did not take tentative steps out into the galaxy. Instead, there was literally a space race, as each nation hurried to complete a starship before their neighbors and be the first to claim new worlds for exploration and exploitation. Hundreds of primitive starships ventured out beyond the Cardassian system and many of them were never heard from again. At first the Cardassians only discovered uninhabited planets or those with primitive populations who could be easily enslaved, until they encountered the space-going Zha'vish and Cardassia became embroiled in its first interstellar war.
In 1711 the starship Faragan, belonging to the Cardassian nation of Rendaran, encountered a Zha'vish exploration vessel. Gul Thakar of the Faragan made peaceful contact with the captain of the Zha'vish vessel, despite language difficulties.
Each captain was escorted on a tour of the other's ship as part of the diplomatic pleasantries. Gul Thakar saw that the Zha'vish vessel was technologically decades beyond Cardassian ships. He also observed that the ship was unarmed. When he returned to the Faragan he contacted the Zha'vish captain and ordered that he surrendered his ship. He fired a warning shot to ensure his ultimatum was not misunderstood. The Zha'vish captain surrendered his vessel but not without transmitting a coded distress call first.
Thakar's crew seized the Zha'vish vessel and ordered its crew to assist in dismantling the warp core, sensors and computer for transport back to Cardassia. Three Zha'vish crewmen were thrown out of the airlock to ensure the crew's co-operation.
Before the Cardassians could complete their act of piracy, two Zha'vish warships arrived. The Faragan tried to fight, but she was outgunned and outnumbered. It took only minutes for the Zha'vish vessels to cripple her and leave her stranded with failing life-support systems. The Cardassians aboard the captured Zha'vish ship were all spaced in revenge for the ship's crew.
The Faragan sent a subspace message back to Cardassia, reporting the battle. The Rendaran leader Dar Jasig ordered that a flotilla of ships be sent to hunt out Zha'vish aggressors. The flotilla succeeded in destroying three freighters and a scoutship before Zha'vish warships caught and annihilated them.
In retaliation, the Zha'vish began to capture or destroy Cardassian ships. The Zha'vish made no distinction between ships of different Cardassian nations. There was uproar amongst Cardassian national rulers.
Some Cardassian rulers called for Rendaran to be held accountable for the Zha'vish attacks, a few demanded that the Rendarans surrender so as to end the attacks, but most called for retaliation. After three days of meetings, politicking and military briefings, those in favor of retaliation won.
It took weeks to assemble a fleet of forty ships from disparate nations into orbit around Cardassia Prime. Jagul Fessec Klinn assumed command of the fleet and gave the order to depart for Zha'vish space.
When the Cardassian armada encountered their first Zha’vish vessel, Klinn gave them an ultimatum to communicate to their leaders.
"On behalf of the Union of Cardassian Nations, I, Jagul Fessec Klinn, demand that all attacks on Cardassian vessels shall cease immediately and that all captured Cardassian men and material shall be returned to the Union. Failure to comply will be considered an act of war and we will respond accordingly."
The Zha'vish did not respond. Instead they sent twenty-five of their own warships to engage the Cardassians.
In the ensuing conflagration, Klinn used his superior numbers to good effect. The Cardassian vessels positioned themselves close to the Zha'vish vessels to nullify the enemy's weaponry advantage. Two or three Cardassian vessels would co-ordinate their fire onto each enemy ship, destroying them before they could inflict significant damage in return. The battle raged for twelve hours before Klinn emerged victorious with nine fully functional ships under his command.
Klinn took his fleet to the Zha'vish homeworld and blockaded the planet. The Zha'vish, under threat of nuclear attack form orbit offered their surrender and agreement to Cardassia's terms. But that was not enough for Cardassia's leaders.
Every starship available to Cardassia was loaded with troops from dozens of nations. Tens of thousands of Cardassian soldiers were transported to Zha'vish and landed under the protection of Jagul Klinn's missiles. Zha'vish had no choice but to submit to Cardassian occupation.
The Central Command and the Detapa Council
Following the war with the Zha'vish, the Cardassian leaders agreed that there was a need for a single body to command Cardassian forces in space and for the purposes of planetary invasion and occupation. The 'Central Command of the Interstellar Forces of the Union of Cardassian Nations' was formed. Unsurprisingly it quickly became known as the Central Command.
While the Central Command had responsibility for military operations outside of the Cardassian system, each nation retained control of its own military on Cardassia Prime. The national leaders strongly resisted any move to give the Central Command the role of exploration. They insisted on retaining the right to explore and exploit independently.
As expansion continued, planets were discovered, the forces of the Central Command conquered worlds, and civilizations willingly entered into alliances with Cardassian states. The regular summit of Cardassian rulers doubled in size; with the leaders of independent colonies, planetary governors, and even the representatives of conquered peoples all wanting their say. Important issues were often debated for months. Practical decision making became impossible.
The idea of forming a unified governing body for Cardassia was raised on several occasions, but rejected out of hand. No national leader was prepared to surrender his sovereignty, his armed forces or his conquered worlds to some arbitrary body. However, the events of 1854 changed this general opinion.
The Central Command was engaged in both pacifying the populace of Gartis IV and protecting Wasiri national ships and colonies from raids by the Kressari. When Zha'vish rebels staged a revolt on their homeworld, the Central Command found itself stretched a little thin and requested additional ships and soldiers from the leaders of the Cardassian nations.
While the leaders debated the issue, the Kressari saw their opportunity and mounted a full scale offensive against two Wasiri colonies. The Wasiri leader demanded that the Central Command should protect them. Reluctantly the Union leaders agreed to pull troops from the Zha'vish homeworld and Gartis IV and dispatch the to aid the Wasiri colonies.
The Kressari were proved hard to deter and the Central Command found itself engaged in an extended campaign. At the same time, the Gartisian people began to openly resist their Cardassian conquerors and the Zha'vish rebels engaged in a campaign of terrorism and guerrilla warfare against the Cardassians.
Events finally came to a head when a group of Zha'vish rebels captured the Cardassian warship Garamesh. They used its missiles to destroy several Cardassian bases on their homeworld, before setting course for Cardassia Prime. Their intention was to crash the ship into the largest city on Cardassia, martyring themselves for their cause.
The Central Command had only two ships within the Cardassian system, the battleship Geldag and the scout Bok'ella. The two ships engaged the Garamesh as it entered the system. The Geldag inflicted signi.cant damage on the captured vessel but could not disable it before the Zha'vish rebels scored a lucky hit on the battleship's impulse drive. The Bok'ella continued to pursue the Garamesh, until it's course became obvious. The captain of the smaller scout ship knew that he would be unable to destroy the warship with his limited weaponry before it entered Cardassia's atmosphere. Instead he ordered his ship to ram the engineering section of the Garamesh. The warp core of the rebel's ship was ruptured and both ships were obliterated.
The leaders of Cardassia were shaken from their complacency. When Tapal Feresh, ruler of Findara, put forward a plan for a united Cardassian government, Cardassian leaders suddenly sat up and took heed. It had taken the prospect of imminent destruction to convince them to act.
It took fifteen years to establish the new government and all of its bodies. As every new ministry was established, conservatives and vested interests fought the change. In particular, the Wasiri government was intent on making the process as democratic as possible and held referendums before it would consent to relinquishing any of its sovereignty.
In 1862 several nations disputed the distribution of resources from the re-conquered world of Gartis IV. The nations readied their armies and prepared to go to war. The whole process of establishing a new government was at the point of collapse. Tapal Feresh stepped in to negotiate a truce between the nations involved. None of the nations were happy with the eventual distribution of resources, but Feresh emerged with a clear mandate to continue his reforms.
The final stage of the new government was the most radical - the Detapa Council. The Wasiri government refused to ratify any treaty that failed to include a democratically elected governing body. Feresh realized that any united government would invalidate it before it began if one nation failed to participate. Feresh managed to win over the other national leaders with the inclusion of a clause that allowed them to ratify the candidates for the Council for the first ten years.
In preparation for the new government the construction of Cardassia City was begun. The city was to be the seat of government for all of Cardassia. The huge Imperial Plaza was the centerpiece of the city, with all of the senior ministries situated around it.
The first ever Cardassian elections were held in 1870 and the fifteen members Detapa council took control of the newly named Cardassian Union on the first day of the year in 1871.
For seventy-five years, the Cardassian people enjoyed the freedom of self-determination. While they have technically retained the right to vote since the founding of the Detapa council, except for those first decades, their choice of candidate has been strictly limited to those approved by the existing government.
After the first ten years political reformers who were keen to do away with the status quo dominated the Detapa Council. The Council did its best to eradicate the power of the tyrants, aristocrats and generals who had lead Cardassia for thousands of years.
While the Council was busy enacting its reforms, it failed to deal with the real problems of the Cardassian Union - the hunger and poverty of its people caused by a severe lack of resources. Cardassia’s expansion into space had failed to alleviate the resource problems face by Cardassia Prime. Her wars of conquest had consumed more resources than the conquered planets had ever supplied.
It was the failures of the liberal Detapa Council that eventually allowed the military to regain power. And it did so on the council's own terms - democratically.
The Military takes Control
The key to the military's success was Itteva Penor, the wife of one of the wining military candidates, Jagul Nujan Penor. She was Cardassia's most famous actress and her concern for the plight of the poor became legendary. She was both the figurehead of the campaign and its orchestrator. Despite all of the atrocities carried out by the Penor government, the majority of the Cardassian populace remained devoted to Itteva for generations after her death.
The woman who changed the face of Cardassian politics was born into a family of farmers from the desperately poor region of Rekonda. She ran away from home at the age of fifteen to begin a career as a singer and actress in Cardassian City. She was both photogenic and talented, but more importantly she knew how to manipulate the media. She was extraordinarily successful and became a household name across Cardassia. But it wasn't until she became the mistress of Jagul Penor that she turned her eye to politics.
Opponents of the Penor movement suggest that Itteva had achieved all that she could hope to as an actress and the only way for her to become richer was to rule Cardassia. But few could deny that her desire to do something for Cardassia's poor was genuine. She made sure that Penor's campaign visited the shantytowns in Cardassia City, the desolate farms in Rekonda, and other places of destitution.
Jagul Penor and four other senior Central Command officers were elected to the Detapa Council with a huge majority. His and Itteva's campaign was enormously successful amongst the lower classes and his troops had ensured that many of those inclined to vote against him had decided to remain at home on polling day.
On the day he took power, Penor stood on a balcony in Imperial Plaza with his wife Itteva beside him and addressed a huge crowd of his supporters. But it was undoubtedly Itteva, looking every inch Cardassia's queen, who received that largest share of adulation.
Itteva lived up to her campaign promises. A vast amount of wealth was redistributed to Cardassia's poor. But part of that wealth was also redistributed into Penor's pockets. Itteva was the glamorous and benevolent public face of the Penor administration, working to ensure that food reached the hungry and that housing was constructed. Behind the scenes Penor's enemies quietly disappeared and his troops ruthlessly quashed strikes and demonstrations of protest.
The election of Penor's allies to the Detapa council allowed him to push through radical reforms. He orchestrated the selling off of Cardassian art treasures and historical artifacts. And the Central Command began to use forced labor camps for mining and agriculture on conquered worlds so that the indigenous population produced the maximum resources.
When the time came for Penor to begin the campaign for re-election, Itteva was suffering from Orkett's Disease. She valiantly campaigned beside him, despite the weakening of her heart. After his successful re-election she stood beside him in Imperial Plaza at his inauguration ceremony. That was the last time that she would appear in public. Three weeks later she would be dead.
The grief of the Cardassian nation was unbounded. The crowds were so vast that people were killed in the crush. Life in Cardassia City stopped. The only trade was in wreathes and memorial placards. These filled the streets around the building where her body lay in state. Her funeral was the culmination of days of morning. Her funeral procession through the streets of the city had a full military escort of troops from the First Order.
Following Itteva's death, his former comrades on the Detapa Council ousted Penor. The military continued to dominate the council for decades, using their influence to ensure that the Central Command retained its autonomy for the foreseeable future.
The Central Command made a deal with the Obsidian Order. Using both subtle means and direct action, the Order eliminated opposition to the military's gradual stripping away of the powers of the Detapa Council and the ministries. In return the military gave the Order a similar autonomy from the Council to that of the Central Command and granted it widespread powers to monitor Cardassian citizens.
Thus the Cardassian people remained in the power of the twin tyrannies of the Central Command and the Obsidian Order for more than three hundred years.
A Century of War
The Central Command pursued an aggressive expansion policy for almost three hundred years. As the Union expanded, so did its requirements for resources. The vast Cardassian military required an equally vast supply of metals, dilithium and food in order to continue its conquests. World after world was conquered, strip-mined and discarded. In all that time Cardassia encountered no major threat and its expansion went unchecked.
War with the Klingons
All that changed in 2286, when Cardassia encountered its first interstellar power. And with typical Cardassian arrogance, they attacked.
While scouting the Betreka Nebula, the Cardassian ship Lin'agga detected a Klingon vessel that had been damaged by the nebula's emissions. The Cardassian captain believed that the alien ship could be easily captured. The Klingons fought back with their customary vigor and crippled the Lin'agga. Both ships returned to their respective empires and reported the battle. The Klingon Empire declared war on the Cardassian Union.
The Klingons waged war with a savagery that the Cardassians were unprepared for. They had neither the resources nor the shipyards to maintain their fleets at full capacity during a protracted conflict. Fortunately for the Cardassians the Klingons had both the Romulans and Federation on their border and could not afford to bring the full might of the empire to bear.
After eighteen years of battles, raids and skirmishes, the Cardassian military was battered and bloody. The Central Command agreed a cease-fire and pressured the Detapa Council to negotiate with the Klingons. The Klingon Empire was in crisis, following the destruction of Qo'nos' moon Praxis, so they readily agreed to end the conflict. Both the Klingons and the Cardassians declared themselves victors in a war over a nebula that left the status quo unchanged.
The Occupation of Bajor
The war with the Klingons had left Cardassia with a fleet to rebuild and a significant munitions shortage. The exploration role of the Central Command had been neglected as ships were re-deployed to fight the war. Cardassia needed resources desperately. It turned its eye to its closest neighbor - Bajor.
Since the first days of Cardassian warp travel, Bajor had been considered off limits. The Obsidian Order had always followed the directions of its founder and ensured that Cardassian exploration and expansion had headed away from Bajor. The Cardassians now knew that the Bajorans were an advanced and peaceful species, so the Central Command hatched a cautious plan for the gradual occupation of Bajor.
The Bajorans accepted the Cardassians' offer of civilian advisors to assist in the construction of aqueducts and other engineering projects. Military engineers later replaced these civilian advisors. These engineers established three bases on Bajor, ostensibly to minimize the disruption to the Bajoran populace. In fact they allowed a build up of Cardassian troops away form the watchful eyes of the Bajoran authorities.
In 2328 the Cardassian forces on Bajor seized control. They surrounded the bases of the Bajoran military, seized local news stations and captured senior members of the government. Occupation troops landed without resistance. Cardassia had succeeded in a bloodless invasion.
The duration of the occupation proved to be anything but bloodless, however. Many Bajorans fled from their homeworld. Those who remained were pressed into work as the occupiers began the systematic strip-mining of the planet. Any who refused were sent to forced-labor camps and worked to death. The Bajoran resistance began at once following the occupation, beginning with small acts of terrorism and eventually to guerrilla war. For every act of resistance the Cardassian Prefect ordered executions in reprisal.
In 2351 the Cardassians constructed Terok Nor, an ore processing station, in orbit over Bajor. The station became the seat of power for the Prefect of Bajor. It was from Terok Nor that Gul Dukat, the last Prefect, oversaw the withdrawal of Cardassian forces from Bajor in 2369.
Never in Cardassian history had the Union willingly surrendered a conquered planet. Escalation of the Bajoran resistance attacks to include off-world targets coupled with falling ore output due to dwindling resources, and strong pressure from the Detapa Council forced the Central Command to make the momentous decision to withdraw.
The withdrawal proved to be a huge loss of face for the Central Command, particularly when a unique stable wormhole leading to the Gamma Quadrant was discovered in the Bajoran system. Starfleet, who had undertaken administration of Terok Nor, successfully prevented ships from the Fourth Order laying claim to the wormhole.
Fighting the Federation
The Cardassian Union made first contact with the United Federation of Planets in 2289 during its conflict with the Klingons. While shadowing a Klingon flotilla, a Cardassian scout ship encountered a Starfleet exploration vessel. The Cardassian vessel opened fire on the Starfleet ship, but the Starfleet captain refused to return fire. Once the Federation vessel had proved its peaceful intentions, the Cardassians agreed to talk.
The Federation and the Cardassians enjoyed cordial relations for some years. The Federation applied diplomatic pressure to persuade the Cardassians to end their war with the Klingons and to withdraw from Bajor. The Central Command ignored all of the Federation entreaties. When the Federation failed to take further action, Cardassia’s commanders believed the Federation to be a toothless opponent.
In 2347 the Obsidian order supplied intelligence to Jagul Sharoc of the Second Order concerning a military build up on the Federation world Setlik III. Without consulting the Central Command, Sharoc ordered an immediate pre-emptive attack. Cardassian troops landed on the planet believing they were fighting Starfleet forces. In fact they massacred Federation colonists. The attack ended the following morning when the USS Rutledge responded to the colony's distress calls and its security officers drove the attackers from the planet.
When the Federation failed to respond aggressively to the Setlik III massacre, the Cardassian's belief that the Federation was weak was proved beyond doubt. Within a year Cardassia claimed several worlds close to the Federation border, despite several of them having Federation science teams and nascent colonies on them. When the Federation simply withdrew its people from those worlds, Cardassia pressed its attack.
The Central Command had learned a lot from the Klingon conflict. It was prepared for an extended war with a large interstellar power. When it launched attacks on six further Federation colonies close to the border it expected to easily overcome any resistance.
The speed of Starfleet's response caught the Cardassian forces by surprise. The Federation’s superior technology, longer weapon range and abundance of photon torpedoes gave them a significant advantage over their Cardassian opponents. When a small number of Starfleet ships succeeded in destroying almost double their number at Minos Corva, the Central Command began to re-evaluate its position.
The Central Command had two choices: to end the invasion or to commit further forces. It chose to commit a massive force in an attempt to overwhelm the Federation's defensive forces. One million men and 750 ships were from the Second and Third Orders were ordered into Federation space.
The massive second wave of the invasion was too large to catch Starfleet by surprise but it was unprepared for an offensive of this scale. Starfleet Command ordered its ships away from the border to prevent their destruction. Federation forces on the ground were outnumbered and were quickly overwhelmed by the Cardassian military. Twenty-three worlds fell to the Cardassians.
The Admirals at Starfleet Command knew that they must oust the Cardassians quickly, before they brought in reinforcements to hold the captured worlds while its front line units renewed the invasion. But Starfleet's ships were scattered across Federation space and beyond. It took weeks to gather a force large enough to wage a counter-offensive.
The Cardassians struck first. Fifty ships from the Third Order attacked Starbase 211 and the twelve starships stationed there. The Starfleet vessels fought a valiant holding action for twelve hours, allowing time for reinforcements to arrive. Of the defending vessels, only the USS Victory survived the battle.
Admiral T'Kora commanded the Starfleet forces charged with ousting the Cardassians. She was a Vulcan and a grand master of three-dimensional chess. Her approach to the conflict was methodical and cautious. She studied intelligence on Jagul Sharoc, hoping to anticipate his actions and outwit him.
T'kora first established a strong defensive perimeter. She waited and watched. Time and again the Cardassians attempted to break out, but T'kora always had reinforcements in place to meet Sharoc's offensives.
The second stage of T'kora's operation was to disrupt Cardassian supply lines. Flotillas of Starfleet escorts and light cruisers were dispatched into Cardassian space to destroy cargo and transport vessels. Several larger forces were used to destroy Cardassian bases and stations close to the border.
It was six months before T'kora began the final stage of the operation. She began to liberate one world at a time with force of seventy ships and five hundred thousand soldiers. It was the largest force ever raised by the Federation. Collectively, Sharoc's forces outnumbered T'kora's ten-to-one but they were spread across twenty-three worlds, giving T'kora the advantage.
Admiral T'kora was too successful in countering Jagul Sharoc's moves. She thwarted his every gambit except his last.
With defeat staring him in the face, Sharoc requested that the Obsidian Order assassinate T'kora. One evening, at her headquarters on Starbase 310, Admiral T'kora had plomeek soup for supper. It was poisoned. She died in her sleep.
T'kora's assassination did not help Sharoc. Starfleet still drove the Cardassians out of Federation territory. The war had lasted seven years, but the Cardassians would not admit defeat. The Central Command still laid claim to the worlds that it had conquered. Cardassia continued to engage in raids and attacks across the border until 2367 when the Central Command agreed to a truce with the Federation.
An Uneasy Peace
The peace was broken only months later by the Federation ship USS Phoenix under the command of Benjamin Maxwell, who single handedly attacked Cardassian stations and ships that were being used to re-supply forces close to the border. Only co-operation between Federation Captain Picard and Cardassian Gul Macet prevented the incident causing renewed conflict between the two sides.
A peace treaty was negotiated with the Federation and a demilitarized zone was established between the two powers, but both Federation and Cardassian colonists in the zone were unhappy with the treaty that allowed their homelands to be ceded to the enemy. Some Federation colonists formed a secret defensive organization, the Maquis, in response to incidents of violence by Cardassian colonists against them and their families and friends. The Maquis gained unofficial support amongst Starfleet's ranks while a sympathetic faction of the Central Command, in unwitting conjunction with some of the criminal Scravvan families, covertly supplied the Cardassians with weapons. The situation in the zone deteriorated into open conflict and terrorism. The Central Command appeared to be unable to contain the problem.
The Central Command suffered a further blow to its prestige in 2371, when it agreed to a peace treaty with the Bajorans. In less than a century the Klingons, the Federation and Bajor had beaten Cardassia.
Cardassia and the Dominion
In late 2370, while exploring the Gamma Quadrant, the Federation encountered the Dominion, a significantly advanced interstellar power. The Dominion' response to Bajoran and Federation incursion in the Gamma Quadrant was an aggressive one. Their Jem'hadar soldiers ruthlessly destroyed ships and slaughtered colonists. Every Alpha and Beta Quadrant power sat up and took notice of this new threat.
The Cardassians were the first race to take action, albeit in an unauthorized manner. Enabran Tain, the retired head of the Obsidian Order, joined forces with the Romulan Tal Shiar and his former colleagues in the Order. A fleet of advanced Keldon-class ships was constructed and equipped with cloaking devices at the Order's Orias shipyards. An unprecedented joint fleet of Romulan and Cardassian ships headed for the Founder's homeworld under cloak with intention of eradicating all life from the planet. However, Colonel Lovok, head of the Tal Shiar force was a Founder infiltrator. The Founders had relocated to another planet and a force of Jem'hadar ships was waiting in ambush. The joint fleet was utterly destroyed.
Revolution on Cardassia
Had the attack on the Founders succeeded, the Obsidian Order would have been able to avoid any political recriminations for its actions. Instead, the Detapa Council was outraged by the Order's unauthorized action and the Central Command was furious over the Order's secret construction of warships. The Council and the Central Command began a political battle to control the Order.
With the government in political turmoil, the dissident movement seized its chance. Sympathetic members of the government leaked details of the Obsidian Order's failure and the military's defeats to the public. The dissidents began to organize strikes and protests. The Cardassian people gladly joined the demonstrations for they had lived in fear for too long.
The Obsidian Order was engaged in a struggle for survival and it failed to foresee the protests or quickly uncover the ringleaders. The Central Command used troops to disperse the protests and break the strikes, but for every demonstration it stopped two more began.
Word of a huge demonstration to be held in Cardassia City was spread across all of Cardassia Prime. The authorities publicly denounced the protest as illegal and imposed travel restrictions. But millions came from all across the planet, many finishing the journey on foot to avoid the troops that turned back personal vehicles and public transport. Cardassia City ground to a halt.
The protest was centered as close to Imperial Plaza as the military blockades would allow. Leading dissidents addressed the crowd, demanding an end to the Central Command's stranglehold on the Cardassian government and the Obsidian Order's repression of the Cardassian people. Day after day more and more Cardassians joined the protest.
After a week the Central Command ordered its troops to end the protest. Armored vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers took position around the circumference of the demonstration. An announcement was made, demanding that the protestors disperse. Buoyed by their numbers and the spirit of righteous anger, the protesters refused. The Central Command gave the order to begin. But the troops did not move.
When word of the troops’ refusal to end the protest spread, the mood of the protest changed. Suddenly the people realized that they had a chance to act. The crowd stormed the barricades that prevented them from entering Imperial Plaza. Then when they reached the center of Cardassian government they occupied the ministries and seized the headquarters of the Central Command.
In the wake of the popular uprising the existing Detapa Council was dissolved and an entirely new council was elected. The Council proceeded to reverse the laws that gave the Central Command control over so many functions of the government. The senior members of the Obsidian Order were arrested and tried for crimes against Cardassia. They were found guilty, of course. The Order itself was renamed the Cardassian Intelligence Bureau and brought under the direct control of the Detapa Council.
The dramatic shift in power lead to the opening of a large number of senior ministerial and military positions. Anyone with ambition and a little vesala found that their career could suddenly take leaps and bounds. One such individual was Gul Dukat, who offered his services to the Detapa Council as military advisor.
The Second Klingon War
The people of Cardassia barely had time to celebrate their freedom before the Klingons attacked. The Klingons, like every other Alpha Quadrant power, feared infiltration by the Founders. Chancellor Gowron believed that the new Detapa Council must be Changelings and ordered their execution.
The Klingons strategy was not one of conquest. Instead the bulk of their fleet headed straight for Cardassia Prime. Only the actions of Gul Dukat and the intervention of the Federation ship USS Defiant saved the Detapa Council from the Klingons. When the Klingons realized that they would have to go to war with the Federation to get to the council, they ended the invasion and declared victory.
The Klingons retained several captured Cardassian worlds and continued to engage in raids against Cardassian colonies and shipping. The Detapa Council was too concerned with undoing the work of the Central Command on Cardassia Prime to be bothered with the Klingons.
When Gul Dukat captured a Klingon Bird of Prey, he used it to wage war on the Klingons. He tried to convince the Detapa Council that they must fight, but they would not listen. Determined to restore Cardassia to greatness, Dukat approached the Dominion.
The Coming of the Dominion
In 2373 a large Dominion fleet emerged form the wormhole. Most of the Alpha Quadrant thought the invasion had finally come. But on Cardassia Prime, Dukat's allies were preparing the way for Cardassia's return to greatness. Members of the Detapa Council were placed under house arrest and Dukat's supporters in the military ensured that any resistance to the coup-d’etat was swiftly dealt with.
Dukat met with the Dominion force and lead it to Cardassia Prime. He proclaimed himself to be the new leader of Cardassia, a Cardassia proud to be a member of the Dominion.
The old regime was ruthlessly swept away by the Dominion. Jem'hadar troops were used to destroy the Maquis in the Demilitarized Zone. Dukat and his Vorta counterpart, Weyoun, began preparing for war. Dominion facilities were constructed to breed Jem'hadar and build ships. Cardassian vessels were refitted and equipped with Dominion munitions.
The Dominion negotiated non-aggression pacts with several interstellar powers including Bajor and the Romulans. The Federation and the Klingons were excluded. They were the Dominion's choice of opponents.
The War Begins
For months Dominion reinforcements continued to come through the wormhole. The Federation knew that they could not allow this to continue if they were to withstand a Dominion attack. So they began construction of a sophisticated minefield at the entrance of the wormhole.
The Dominion could not allow completion of the minefield, so they attacked the USS Defiant as it laid the mines. While Dominion fleet was engaged, Starfleet ships destroyed the Dominion shipyards on Torros III. Although undeclared by both sides, the war had begun.
The Dominion/Cardassian alliance had seized Terok Nor after it had been abandoned by the Federation. It was here Dukat and Weyoun established their headquarters, while their engineers attempted to bring down the minefield.
For three months, the Cardassians and their allies scored victory after victory. Dozens of worlds fell to their troops. But the minefield remained in place, preventing the arrival of vital Dominion reinforcements and essential Ketracel White.
When Starfleet learned that Cardassian engineers had discovered how to bring down the minefield they mounted a desperate attack. The Federation failed to breech the alliance's lines until their Klingon allies joined the fray. The USS Defiant entered the Bajoran wormhole, where Captain Benjamin Sisko convinced the entities that resided within the wormhole to destroy the Dominion ships in transit.
Terok Nor was once again abandoned to the Federation. Gul Dukat's daughter Tora Ziyal was a casualty of the withdrawal. He himself was captured, apparently mad with grief.
During a brief lull in the conflict, Legate Damar, became ruler of Cardassia. He was Dukat's former second-in-command, so to outsiders his rise to power seemed natural. However the Dominion ensured that his succession went smoothly, for they believed he could be easily manipulated.
Cardassia and the Dominion again pressed their advantage. Their offence took them close to the Federation core worlds. When Betazed fell, the alliance was within in striking range of Vulcan, Tellar, Andor and Alpha Centauri.
Back and Forth
When the Romulans joined their old adversaries Federation and the Klingons, it gave the beleaguered Starfleet ships and crews chance to recuperate. The fleets of Romulan battleships, all fresh and undamaged, stopped the Cardassian/Dominion alliance in its tracks.
For several months the outcome of the war seemed to be balanced on a knife-edge. The Federation and Klingons took the Cardassian world of Chin’toka, while the Dominion seemed ever closer to capturing Vulcan.
After months of secret negotiations, the Breen joined the Dominion/Cardassian alliance and the war seemed to be won. Starfleet and the Klingons were powerless in the face of the Breen energy-dampening weapon.
The End of the War
When the Klingons counter-attacked at Septimus III, the Dominion refused to send reinforcements. The entire Eleventh Order, over half a million Cardassians, was wiped out. Damar realized that the Cardassia and the Dominion were not allies. In fact, Cardassia was a member of the Dominion and would be used to further the Founders' ends.
Damar began a resistance movement. Initially his operations failed, but with the help of a former Bajoran resistance fighter, Kira Nerys, he learned how to conduct a guerrilla war. One of the first successes of his resistance movement was to capture a Breen energy-dampening weapon for the Federation.
When the Federation/Klingon/Romulan fleets were protected against the Breen weapon, the Dominion pulled back behind Cardassia's original borders. But the three races began a massive offensive. Their aim was to destroy Cardassia's and the Dominion's ability to wage war.
When the fleets clashed in the Getha system, the Cardassian ships turned on their Dominion allies. Furious, the Founder leader ordered the extermination of the entire Cardassian population. Following her orders, the Jem'hadar massacred 800 million Cardassians and razed two-thirds of the cities on Cardassia Prime.
Damar himself led the assault on the Dominion headquarters. This resulted in his death, but not before he enabled the renegade Changeling Odo to beam down and convince the Founder leader to surrender.
Armistice and Beyond
The terms of the Treaty of Bajor meant little to Cardassia. By the end of the Dominion War, Cardassia Prime was devastated by orbital bombardment and Jem'Hadar raids by the Dominion, who wished to wipe out the Cardassian species for their betrayal. Over eight hundred million men, women and children were slaughtered in the planet-wide genocide. The Cardassian military was reduced greatly from two years of total war with the Federation Alliance, an entire Order was wiped out from a single engagement, and their economy was crippled. Cardassia Prime had once again become a planet plagued with famine, death, disease and destruction, leaving the remaining Cardassians to rebuild.
For a nation brought to its knees, there is little prospect of waging war. For a people mourning for their slaughtered race, reparations are irrelevant. In the aftermath of the destruction of their homeworld the Cardassians face the monumental task of rebuilding their civilization and their empire. But a greater challenge faces them, too. They must rebuild their society.
Several groups vie for power and influence on Cardassia Prime. Whether the Democratists have their way and revive personal freedom, the Militarists restore the power to the armed forces, or others rise to prominence, the most successful faction will determine the course of future Cardassian history.