The Cardassians are a humanoid race native to Cardassia Prime. They are easily recognized by the neckline that fans out to connect with the shoulders, and by the pronounced facial ridges. Two thick vertical ridges recede back to the crown of the head with an inverted tear-shaped ridge in the center of the forehead. The area above the eyes are it where the ridge is thickest, making Cardassian eyes look deep-set. Most Cardassian men have poker straight hair with jet-black to dark brown shades that are slicked back as inconspicuously as possible while the women have more varying hair-types.
Cardassians value family and relation above all else. Orphans are shunned and left to die while households with several generations living together are considered an honorable distinguishment. The education system implemented on Cardassia dictates that intellectual pursuits begin at the young age of 3 or 4. Every Cardassian is raised with an appreciation of fine arts and culture, though the government may not be like-minded in its policies. Educational attainment is regarded as a major source of social status and a creative force in Cardassian society, creating the knowledge that embraces existing social and political structures. The Cardassians are known for their photographic memories and the ability to resist a Vulcan mind meld. They pride themselves on resourcefulness and often say of themselves, that there is no dilemma that cannot be solved by a disciplined Cardassian mind.
Acceptable social behavior dictates that men and women court with outward irritability, and the deceased are honored with elaborate rites that do not permit offworlders to view the body. Cardassian society has the most rigid of all legal systems. All suspects are guilty before even appearing in court, an emphatic display of the futility of crime in Cardassia.
The Depata Council rules the Cardassian Union, and legally administers to the Cardassian Central Command and the Obsidian Order, Cardassia's secret intelligence agency. However, the Central Command and the Obsidian Order function autonomously and do not report to the Depata Council. It is the military Central Command that has the firmest grip on power in Cardassia.
Cardassians used to be spiritual pacifists. Their homeworld Cardassia was in ancient times a legendary civilization whose ruins are considered as some of the most remarkable in the galaxy. However, Cardassia was poor in resources, and millions died in the famine before the military takeover. The treasured relics of the past were plundered by starving Cardassians and by the Cardassian military alike. The new leaders who rose to power after the takeover discovered that taking forcefully what they wanted was easier and more efficient than long-winded negotiations. Soon, the military state conquered worlds and replenished their resources by this new approach towards interstellar politics.
In the course of continuing military conquests, Cardassian military forces descended upon Bajor. Promising help and support to the peaceful Bajorans, the Cardassians instead annexed Bajor in 2328 that began the 50 years of Cardassian Occupation. To strip mine the wealth of Iridium nearby, Cardassia built a mining station, Terok Nor, in Bajor's orbit for the purpose of ore mining and processing. They established a presence upon the planet and instigated an authoritarian government through the ruling Guls. Many Bajorans were forced to resettle on other worlds and their religion was later banned. Those among the Bajorans who were not content to rely on the assistance of the Prophets to end the Occupation gathered to form resistance cells in the mountains of Bajor. They utilized guerrilla tactics, running through rough terrain, then shooting as the Cardassian soldiers caught up. The relentless violence against the invading rulers would slowly change the stance of the Central Command back on Cardassia Prime.
Cardassian relations with the Federation had been hostile ever since 2350. The Military firmly believed Cardassia needed to expand in order to thrive, and they tried to extend their reach into Federation territory. War broke out when the Federation would not yield, lasting for 20 years. An uneasy truce was reached when a peace treaty was signed in 2366. Many Federation officers had grave misgivings about this treaty, suspicious of the true intents of the Cardassians. Were they simply buying time to regroup then attack the Federation? One year later, on Stardate 44429.6, Captains Jean-Luc Picard and Benjamin Maxwell discovered that the Cardassians were preparing to launch a major offensive against the Federation. Captain Maxwell violated the treaty when he entered Cardassian space with his vessel, the starship Phoenix. Though his action was illegal, it confirmed his suspicions: heavy Cardassian military activity portentous of ill intentions. A new treaty was signed in 2367 between the Federation and the Cardassian Union, which agreed upon a neutral party overseeing incarcerations of either country's captives.
Cardassian presence on Bajor was driven out in 2369, after years of unceasing terrorist activity from the freedom fighters of Bajor finally came to a head. The Occupation ended with a hasty withdrawal, and along with all the equipment left on Bajor itself, Terok Nor was abandoned as well. Defenseless and left with a shattered world, the Bajoran Provisional Government requested the assistance of Starfleet to administer to the orbiting station. The Cardassians would rue their mistake, when a stable wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant was soon discovered nearby. Terok Nor, renamed Deep Space Nine, became a strategic location for commercial and scientific expeditions to the Gamma Quadrant, and later became a key defensive front against the Dominion.
The Cardassians didn't let the Federation claim the wormhole entry without contest. A year later, they were successful in driving out Starfleet presence on the station by helping a Bajoran extremist group stage a coup to overthrow the Bajoran Provisional Government. This plan would have left the Cardassians with Bajor and the wormhole ripe for the picking.
A few months later, the Cardassia Union and the Federation agreed to redraw their borders, relocating citizens who were on the wrong side of the line. The agreement also included a buffer zone between the two powers, called the Demilitarized Zone.
Dissent among the Union's hardliners ran rampant when the agreement was signed. Soon, they started unprovoked attacks and sabatoge operations on the colonies closest to the Cardassian side of the Demilitarized Zone, hoping to reclaim land lost in the deal. For the Federation colonists, already furious over what they saw as the betrayal of the government, it was the last straw. They retaliated by forming the Maquis, and began hard-hitting terrorist attacks on Cardassia itself.
With the rise of the military to power, Cardassia's secret intelligence agency, the Obsidian Order, also came to prominence. Though required by law to report to the Central Command, they soon gained enough power to operate independently. A Maquis renegade seized control of the Defiant on Stardate 48467.3 and alerted both the Federation and the Cardassia Central Command of the covert shipyard in the Orias System.
The purpose of the secret fleet was revealed when the Obsidian Order joined forces with its Romulan Counterparts, the Tal Shiar, to launch a preemptive strike on the Founder homeworld. After the disastrous first encounter with the Jem'Hadar ships, the Alpha Quadrant was extremely worried by the rumors of a Founder infiltration. Fear of a Dominion invasion prompted the Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar to action. The two partners gathered a fleet of 40 Romulan warbirds and Cardassian vessels and sailed through the wormhole confident of total victory. The fleet went right into an ambush of 140 Jem'Hadar ships, and total erradication of both agencies was the result. The elimination of the terrifying secret service agency buoyed the hopes of the Cardassian Underground Movement.
In 2372, the Cardassian Central Command was overthrown by the movement, placing the Detapa Council in control. Paranoia ran high in the Alpha Quadrant following the exposure of Changeling imposters and fear of the Founders gripped the Klingon Empire, who believed the coup to be a ploy by the Dominion to replace the Council with Founders. In response, Klingon warships led by General Martok attacked Cardassia Prime, nearly eliminating the Detapa Council. Gul Dukat, with assistance from Starfleet, rescued the Council members and proved they were not shape-shifters, forcing the Klingon attack to cease.
Though unsuccessful in its mission, the Klingon invasion nearly fell Cardassia's industrial production base. For the first time in decades, Cardassia was weak and unable to provide for itself. Several of the outer colonies had been captured by the Klingons, and nearly every ship destroyed while defending the homeworld. With assistance from the Federation Council, who provided among other things twelve industrial replicators, (though some replicators were stolen in transit by the Maquis) Cardassia started rebuilding.
The Klingons soon turned to declare war on the Federation, beginning with attacks on Deep Space Nine. When it was revealed that General Martok was a Changeling, and that he was the one behind the paranoid violence exhibited by the Klingon Empire, the war ceased, but Klingons still occupied some of Cardassian space.
Ashamed of the weak state Cardassia had fallen to, and resenting the Klingons for not handing over the remaining Cardassian space, Gul Dukat began secret negoitations to form an alliance with the Dominion.
Shortly after Stardate 50560.1, Gul Dukat announced Cardassia's alliance with the Dominion, and his new position as head of state. In his speech to the shocked population of Cardassia, now subjects of the Dominion, his words were:
"You might ask, should we fear joining the Dominion. And I answer you: Not in the least. We should embrace the opportunity. The Dominion recognizes us for what we are, the true leaders of the Alpha Quadrant. And now that we are joined together, equal partners in all endeavours, the only people with anything to fear would be our enemies. My oldest son's birthday is in five days. To him, and to Cardassians everywhere, I make the following pledge: By the time his birthday dawns, there will not be a single Klingon alive inside Cardassian territory. Or a single Maquis colony left within our borders. Cardassia will be made whole, all that we have lost will be ours again. And anyone who stands in our way will be destroyed. This I vow with my life's blood, for my son, for all our sons."
5 days after the speech, the Maquis were summarily slaughtered and the Klingons removed by the Jem'Hadar fleets that came throught the wormhole. Dominion forces were continually building up in Cardassian space, and the whole Quadrant could sense an impending invasion.
On Stardate 50975.2, Starfleet gave orders to Deep Space Nine to begin mining the wormhole entrance with self-replicating cloaked mines. Vorta Weyoun was sent to dissuade Captain Sisko, but to no avail. Full out war had begun. Weyoun returned to Cardassia, where he along with Dukat and a large fleet of Dominion/Cardassian vessels, began an attack on Deep Space Nine, hoping to stop the activtion of the minefield. The attempt was only successful in driving out the Federation personnel, but not in halting the minefield's activation.
The Dominion won victory after victory for the next three months, and the subjugation of the entire Alpha Quadrant was within sight. The slow progress on deactivating the minefield however displeased both Founder and Vorta. It was Dukat's aide, Gul Damar, who finally figured out a way to disarm the mines. Starfleet assembled three fleets in a last-ditch effort to stop the Dominion from penetrating the minefield. 2,800 Jem'Hadar ships were waiting on the other side of the wormhole, and when the minefield is successfully deactivated, the Alpha Quadrant would be lost.
The minefield eventually was rendered useless and the Jem'Hadar armada began entry into the wormhole. The Defiant, with Captain Sisko on-board, managed to break through enemy lines, but was no match for the overwhelming numbers of Jem'Hadar vessels. On the verge of destruction, the Emissary sought the help of the Prophets by making them see the result if all the Jem'Hadar passed through and arrived into the Alpha Quadrant. The Prophets moved to help their Emissary, and all 2,800 ships vanished without a trace. Dukat could not believe what had happened. With total victory almost within reach, he would suddenly lose everything he had gained. Worse still was the murder of his daughter Ziyal by Damar. The impact of all these events resulted in the mental breakdown of Dukat, a condition he, as of the moment, has not yet recovered from.
Damar, Weyoun, and the rest of the Dominion presence retreated from Deep Space Nine, leaving the station for the Federation to reclaim. Damar was proclaimed the new leader of Cardassia, but he merely served the will of Weyoun and the Dominion.
The Romulans, who had distanced themselves from the war by signing a non-agression pact with the Dominion, would again be drawn into the brawl when they suspected the Cardassians of the assassination of Senator Vreenak. Vreenak had signed the pact, and his death could not be ignored by the Romulan Empire. They immediately retaliated by destroying 15 Cardassian outposts along the border, and looks ready to join the Klingon/Federation forces battling the Dominion.
The future of Cardassia looks bleak at the moment. With the Dominion shadowing Cardassia's government and Dukat's crazed rantings about the destruction of Bajor, will the Union survive the tempest long enough to see democracy?