|Intelligent Lifeform Index|
|Four Letter Code||CARD|
|Planet of Origin||Cardassia Prime|
|Encountered||TNG: The Wounded|
|Current Tech Level||N-|
|List of Named Cardassians|
Full ILI Gallery • Permitted Species Gallery
- 1 Physiology
- 2 Society
- 3 Culture
- 4 Social structure
- 5 The Feeds
- 6 Cardassian education
- 7 The justice system
- 8 Science
- 9 Credits
The Cardassians evolved from reptilian ancestors, and they prefer a darker, hotter, and more humid environment than humans.
Externally, Cardassians are easily recognizable by their two thick vertical neck ridges that recede back to the crown of the head and an inverted tear-shaped ridge in the center of the forehead. The ridge is thickest immediately above the eyes, protecting the eyes and making them look especially deep-set. All cardassians also have 2 secondary spinal cords on either side of their primary spinal column. 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 hairstyles.
The modern Cardassian still possesses a number of physiological features that make plain his reptilian forebearers. For example, his brow ridges, neck structure, sternum, and thighs all have scale-like skin structures. The scales show faintly in some Cardassians, prominently in others; the finer or less prominent the scales, the more refined and "weaker" the Cardassian, according to popular - and physiologically unfounded - belief. Perhaps the most conspicuous of the Cardassian features are the thick neck structure and the upside-down teardrop-shaped feature on the forehead. Cardassian necks have less of a circular shape (as on most humanoids); instead, they have a roughly oval cross-section created by a series of bones that flare out from the neck towards the shoulders.
The distinctive shape of these bones sometimes leads species fighting the Cardassians to collect one neck bone from each Cardassian killed to wear on thongs as proof of a kill.
Thanks to this neck structure, Cardassians have a more limited range of neck motion than most humanoids; where a Human can turn his neck far enough that he can see things in about 240 degrees round him, a Cardassian only has about a 180-degree range of motion/vision, forcing him to turn his body to view things that a Human could see by craning his neck. A few Cardassians can forcibly disconnect their neck bones and turn their heads through a nearly 300-degree range of motion; other Cardassians refer to this painful (and to them, impressive) stunt as the "Cardassian neck trick." Because of the structure of the Cardassian neck, attackers find it very difficult to strangle or choke a Cardassian, and for a Cardassian to break his neck accidentally is almost unheard of.
The cartilaginous, spoon-shaped forehead protuberance - the chufa - is primarily a throwback to the Cardassians' cold-blooded reptilian ancestors, who needed such features to dissipate bodily heat and regulate internal temperature. On a modern Cardassian, the chufa serves no real purpose, like the appendix in Humans. The chufa has a bluer color in females.
Cardassians are known for their dislike of cold temperatures. While Cardassians are warm-blooded, the average temperature on their homeworld is significantly higher than that on Earth, Bajor, Betazed, or most other species' planets. Thus, Cardassians prefer warmer environments; in fact, some studies show that they "feel better" and are more likely to remain emotionally healthy in such settings. Cardassians consider the average starship or station temperature maintained by most humanoids uncomfortably chilly; conversely, a Human or Bajoran visiting a Cardassian facility or vessel will quickly break into a sweat.
Due in large part to the harshness of Cardassia Prime, the ancestors of the Cardassians were tough, durable animals able to withstand injuries and periods of deprivation which would have killed equivalent animals on Earth. They passed this trait down to modern Cardassians, who have a high tolerance for pain. For example, Cardassians have thicker, more durable bones that can withstand more force before they fracture than Human bones can, and Cardassian epidermis retains scale-like qualities of toughness that make it harder to cut than Human skin.
On the other hand, their quasi-reptilian ancestry leaves the Cardassians with at least one vulnerability which no other known humanoid species possesses: to them, cobalt diselenide, a fairly common substance used in a variety of industrial processes by several humanoid species, is extremely poisonous. Exposure to cobalt diselenide can quickly cause illness and death in Cardassians - a fact exploited by the Maquis rebels on several occasions when they laced planets with the substance, driving the Cardassians away forever.
As a species, the Cardassians divide themselves into three distinct races, though of course by 2376 these races have become so intermingled that finding a "pure" example of one is relatively uncommon.
The primary race, from which the majority of Cardassians descend, is the yhodan. Yhodan Cardassians are marked by an evenly grey skin tone and slightly smaller neck ridges. They originally come from Okaba, Venarhond, and southern Patka. The hottest regions of Cardassia - Rekonda, most of Sotara, and central Patka - gave rise to the Neldan race. Neldan Cardassians have darker skin than other Cardassians. In some cases, their skin is so dark as to be almost black. They tend to be larger and sturdier than other Cardassians.
Ka'radan Cardassians are from the northern torrid and temperate zones of Cardassia Prime. There's a sort of umber-colored undertone to their skin that, to some Cardassians, gives them a slightly sickly look. Where most Cardassians have roundish brow ridges around their eyes, ka'radans' brow ridges are a little more ovate (which gives them slightly better peripheral vision).
Compared to most humanoid minds, the Cardassian brain is a model of efficiency. Its ability to process nerve impulses, sensory input, and information is greater than that of most humanoid brains, due to its physiological structure and neurochemistry. As a result, the average Cardassian tends to be smarter and more perceptive than the average Human (or more "cunning," as Starfleet officers who have fought the Cardassians might say). This trait allows the Cardassians to train their children so that every Cardassian develops a photographic memory.
Unlike humans, Cardassians do not avoid or try to slow the aging process, instead welcoming old age and the power and wisdom it denotes. 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 have always been so like-minded in its policies. Educational attainment is regarded as a major source of social status and the source of creativity in Cardassian society. The Cardassians are known for their photographic memories, while some even have the ability to resist a Vulcan mind meld.
Family is considered a Cardassian's greatest asset, with three or more generations in one home. However, orphans are outcasts and are forgotten.
Men, as well as women, may serve in the military, though it may be that only men are drafted.
Cardassian society has the most rigid and, to the Federation, incomprehensible of all legal systems. All suspects are guilty before even appearing in court, their sentence already spelled out - almost always death. No prisoner ever escapes the death penalty, and only very tempting incentives can change the sentence to a lifetime one in a labor camp. The criminal is given a Conservator, equivalent to a public defender, only the Conservator is not supposed to win, but to prepare the criminal for a moving confession of guilt on the floor of the court. The accused is also permitted an advocate, the nestor, to advise them during the trial. The Chief Archon, or judge, of the court plays to a televised audience, her duty not to judge the prisoner's innocence or guilt, but rather to give an emphatic display of the futility of crime in Cardassia and reinforce the public's trust in the justice system.
All Cardassian citizens, whether they are soldiers or not, are expected to live or die for the Cardassian Union. During their lives they are expected to serve the state selflessly in any manner they can and at any time they are called upon. While this looks good on paper, most Cardassians serve the state graciously out of one motivation: fear.
Over the shoulder of every Cardassian citizen is the Obsidian Order, peering into their public and personal lives. It is said that a Cardassian cannot sit down to eat without the meal being duly noted, categorized and approved by the Obsidian Order. This is not an exaggeration; indeed, the Obsidian Order spies on its own citizenry with great alacrity using every means at their disposal. Because of this invasion of privacy, few Cardassians living in the Union enjoy civil liberties unless powerful friends protect them. Free speech is unheard of, as people have been known to disappear for voicing their opinions. The right to bear arms is denied the civilian citizenry unilaterally, though some civilians keep some sort of weaponry in their home illegally. Assembly of the citizenry (for any reason) without proper license is grounds for arrest. Communiqués are regularly tapped, mail opened, and homes bugged. People are paid handsomely for turning in their treasonous neighbors and can usually gain vesala by doing so. Families are encouraged to do the same; after all, dedication to the state should come before blood.
Citizens are free to establish businesses so long as they have the requisite approvals from the Ministry of Industrial Affairs. The private sector exists to serve the state, and the state controls commerce with an iron hand. The military is the largest consumer for these businesses, for without the military's patronage a business is sure to fail.
Who you know, not what you know, is one of the most important factors for getting along in Cardassian society. A Cardassian's elaborate elaborate network of contacts and favors is of prime importance to them. This network is know as vesala. Vesala is used like a currency or commodity; favors are traded back and forth among members of Cardassian society for personal or political gain. This is a sort of informal stock exchange of name-dropping and favor swapping that gives a Cardassian personal power over other Cardassians.
Everything on Cardassia is available for a price. Vesala can be used to purchase promotions, political offices, titles and benefits. It is because of this that a Cardassian does not use his vesala lightly. Calling in too many favors at one time will deplete the resources, and could hinder dealings in the future. Some Cardassians perform favor after favor and rarely call their own, thus accumulating vast amounts of vesala for use in one fell swoop. One of the few things that cannot be bought with vesala is a Cardassian's social standing.
It does not matter that a Cardassian has never worked with the individual they are asking a favor from; such 'blind favors' are made all the time. Reputation means more than acquaintance. If a Cardassian is known as someone who does not repay in kind, their name will start to circulate as being untrustworthy and favors will be hard to call in. But be sure the provider can actually perform the requested favor. If they have to go through someone else, the cost in vesala can skyrocket.
Cardassian families are tightly knit. Usually, parents will have between three and ten children, and sometimes more. An only child is an anomalous occurence. Families live together in the Cardassian household, with the father being the head of the house. It is not uncommon for the family unit to be extended from unmarried aunts and uncles to grandfathers and grandmothers, all living together in the same household. The Cardassian people venerate age, and elder Cardassians are seen as wise to the ways of the universe.
Cardassian families share in the disgrace of one of their members; therefore much pressure is put on the individuals to uphold the family name. If a family member stumbles, much effort is put into concealing the fact from the powers that be. If concealment cannot be achieved or the action is quite dastardly, then the member is usually ostracized by the family and turned into a pariah. Usually the member will accept this disgrace to avoid having his family disgraced in his name.
Divorce is uncommon among the Cardassians, except in cases where the acts of the husband or wife would bring disgrace unto the house as a whole. Generally two Cardassians who marry will do so for life, howerver a certain amount of philandering is almost expected by the males of the species. While this is frowned upon by society, the people tend to turn a blind eye toward this type of behavior among the males. The female Cardassians do not enjoy this privilege, as they can be outcast for such loose moral character. A disgraced woman carries a heavy social burden.
Cardassian mating is different from other species, and sometimes those differences are very misunderstood by outsiders. A potential mate indicates interest by expressing a bickering, almost beligerent attitude. This bickering has caused more than one interstellar snafu as misunderstanding spring from hot debates between diplomats. Fertility is of paramount importance, as a mate that cannot bear children is shamed. Men prefer spirited women, and the females of the species tend to prefer strong, dominant males.
The Cardassian people consider the arts to be less important than many other races do. In the resource-hungry society of Cardassia, where starvation and need are recent memories, literature, poetry and sculpture are of secondary importance. A career as an artist is considered slightly shameful in a culture whose essence is duty and service.
The Cardassian State keeps a tight reign on its artists. It recognizes that art can be a powerful motivational force. Only state sanctioned writers can be published. Only the work of state sanctioned painters and sculptors may be exhibited, and only in state-run galleries. Each individual work must undergo a long and involved approval process by the Ministry of Arts before publication or exhibition.
Literature is the most popular art form amongst the Cardassian populace and so it has the most restricted guidelines. Permitted books must actively promote Cardassian ideology or discredit Cardassia's enemies. Epics such as The Never Ending Sacrifice, which describes the service of seven generations of a family to Cardassia, are favorites amongst Cardassian readers. These books are even preferred above tales of valorous Cardassian of.cers defeating the schemes of dastardly Starfleet officers bent on destroying the Union with their corrupt ideals of democracy and individuality.
Cardassians who travel and the upper classes have access to non-Cardassian literature. Dante's Inferno, Tolstoy's War and Peace, K'Ratak's The Dream of the Fire are all highly regarded works. The Cardassians appreciate Shakespeare's dramas but despise the comedies - particularly Romeo and Juliet, in which the two lovers chose love over family.
The visual arts - painting, sculpture and holo-photography - are not highly regarded by the general populace. Spending time admiring such works is considered wasteful. There are only a handful of galleries on Cardassia prime, all of which are filled with depictions of family life and Cardassians at war. Cardassia IV maintains a museum of Hebitian works that have not been sold off in the past, such as the bone carvings from the First Hebitian period.
Many Cardassians express themselves artistically in the privacy of their homes and only their friends and family ever view their work. The practical mentality of Cardassians means that many use crafts as a creative outlet. Elaborately carved furniture or highly decorated potteries are more appreciated than objects d'art by many Cardassians.
The underground movement attracts artists of all varieties who seek freedom of expression. Writers' work is distributed through the organization. Members of the movement hold secret exhibitions and readings. But this is not without risk; the labor camps on Cardassia IV are filled with writers whose work criticizes the government. These artists experienced unprecedented freedom during the rule of the Detapa council. For eighteen months in 2371-2372, a large number of previously banned books were printed, satirical cartoons were published and plays were performed that openly criticized the Cardassian State and way of life. This halcyon era ended abruptly when the Cardassian Union joined the Dominion. The Jem'hadar visited those writers, satirists and actors who did not flee quickly enough.
Mealtimes are of great importance to Cardassians. Traditionally, the main meal of the day was a time for the whole family to sit down together. In modern times, the evening meal is still considered a time for family, even if modern lifestyles make it more difficult for the family to eat together. A meal is just as important to lone Cardassians or those away from their family, they will never take work to their meal table; a meal should be a time for conversation amongst friends or intellectual discussion between comrades.
To a Cardassian, a meal is not just food to be consumed; it is a feast of color and artistry. The laying of the table, the color of the dishes and the shape of the kanar bottle are all as important as the food itself. Even a simple act, such as pouring a glass of wine, is savored. Typically a Cardassian will pause to admire the color of the drink before pouring it. Perhaps he will even caress the elaborate spiral bottle before lifting the glass and savoring the aroma. Only then will he take his first sip.
Food is also used as a symbol of power. With whom you share your table is a measure of status on Cardassia. If a powerful Cardassian eats alone, he is stating that he considers no one else is his equal. During the occupation of Bajor, 'comfort women' taken from refugee camps were rewarded with the promise that their families would be well fed.
On the surface the Cardassian approach to food makes them seem like an over-indulgent species, but an examination of recent history shows there are more concrete reasons. When drastic food and resource shortages brought about a revolution, the new military government plundered Cardassia's artistic and archaeological treasures to fulfill their promise to put food on every Cardassian's plate. With much of Cardassia's great art gone and a government that restricted new art, the Cardassians established a new form of artistic appreciation through their food and mealtime rituals.
Cardassians are omnivores, though many of their dishes are meat or egg based. These are generally cooked. Meat dishes include Sem'hal stew and zabo meat steak, both of which are enjoyed by non-Cardassians. Taspar eggs and Regova eggs can be prepared in a number of ways, similar to Terran chicken eggs. Many dishes are flavored with yamok sauce, a condiment that is found on every meal table in the Cardassian Union. Hot fish juice, a broth-like drink, is highly favored for breakfast.
Kanar is the Cardassian spirit of choice. It comes in several varieties; it can be similar to whiskey, wine or liqueur. It is highly intoxicating and the strong taste takes some getting used to.
In recent years kanar has proved popular outside the Cardassian Union, but the Dominion War has made it as difficult to find as Romulan Ale in the twenty-fourth century. Kanar has a tendency to spoil, so keeping a supply on-hand is difficult for bartenders outside the Union.
By the dawn of the Second Hebitian period, a class system evolved on Cardassia. This class structure has survived for centuries, even though the government and society that spawned it did not. The social classes are, from lowest class to highest; Scralan, Ti'alek, Hibalek, Amarlek, Ra'malek, and Trelek.
This class system traditionally marks a Cardassian's place in their society and determines what he or she can achieve in his or her lifetime. Only the upper classes can attend the finest schools without someone in the upper echelons to sponsor them. If they do manage to obtain a sponsor, they will receive the education necessary for achieving great things on Cardassia.
In the past, the Cardassian class system was much more hard and fast than it is today. Socializing with those outside your class was frowned upon socially. On modern Cardassia, however, a Cardassian can actually jump classes, making the class disinction much more ephemeral. In theory a modern Cardassian is marked by his service to the state, not by an outdated and ancient class structure. Socializing, and even marriage across class lines occur. The greater disparity between the classes, the less common this is, as the higher classes cling to their titles more than the lower classes do. A Trelek woman would probably be ostracized for courting a Ti'alek or Hibalek.
This class structure has survived and flourished despite the military's attempt to quash it. It has evolved into an undercurrent of subtle prejudice and superiority rather than a class that a Cardassian is locked into. In the eyes of the modern state, all Cardassians are equal.
The following section describes the six different social classes. When the text refers to population percentage it is referring to all Cardassians in the Union, and does not include non-Cardassians or client/servitor races.
- Scralan: The Scralan class really isn't a class at all, not having the 'lek' suffix (which means 'resource' in Cardassian). In fact, the word 'scralan' actually means 'useless'. The Scralan are made up of Cardassian untouchables who have fallen from Cardassian grace as well as the non-Cardassians living in the Union. These untouchables are generally met with distaste and disdain from other Cardassians (even those others of the Scralan). It is extremely difficult for the Scralan to jump class, as even noted accomplishments are met with sneers from the other social classes. Even getting small tasks accomplished is difficult, as few of the other classes will take the Scralan seriously. Generally, Scralans have little love for the other classes. Most see the other classes as a means of keeping them at the bottom of the social ladder. Approximately eight percent of the population is of the Scralan class.
- Ti'alek: The Ti'alek is the lowest of all socially acceptable Cardassians. They traditionally make up the labor class, such as janitors, ore miners and field hands. In modern Cardassia, this class still performs the work that other Cardassians find demeaning. No non-Cardassian may progress above this class level, even through dedication and service to the Union. The Ti'aleks are generally the 'have-nots' among the Cardassian people, living in the more squalid of the conditions on Cardassia, and make up approximately thirty-one percent of the populace.
- Hibalek: The Hibalek class, next on the social ladder, is traditionally a service class. This class is usually relegated to performing service for the other Cardassians. Housekeepers, gardeners, and waiters are all examples of jobs for the Hibaleks. Most common foot soldiers come from this class, as do teachers, lawyers, and small business owners. The Hibaleks generally consider themselves lucky; while they are not the highest class, they do enjoy a certain amount of prosperity not being among the labor class. Most Hibaleks view their position among society to be necessary. They believe that without, the state could not function successfully, so they over-glorify their place in society. While they may not have power, they do have responsibilities and a strong sense of duty to perform their role in society. Approximately twenty-nine percent of the population is made up of the Hibalek class.
- Amarlek: The Amarlek class, or Bureaucratic class, primarily made up the bureaucracy and government of the Second Hebitians. This tradition has continued, as most modern low-level Cardassian bureaucrats are recruited from this class, as are low-level military officers. The Amarleks shuffle paperwork across the data-nets for the glory of the Union. They enjoy their middle-class lives, and especially the vesala that usually comes with their positions in society. Most of the Ministries are made up of members of the Amarlek class. They generally view their little slices of Cardassian government as their own little private fiefdoms, and most tend to run them as such. Approximately fifteen percent of the population is made up of the Amarlek class.
- Ra'malek: The Ra'malek class, or Merchant class, is mostly a holdover from the glory days of the Second Hebitians. Wealthy landowners and businessmen made up the middle echelon of the government for the Second Hebitians. While the wealth has drained away for the modern Ra'malek, the families still cling to the title desperately. Even though the Ra'maleks are not as prosperous as they once were, they still enjoy a certain amount of power and vesala from their place and position in Cardassian society. This class makes up most of the high-level positions within the military and government. Approximately twelve percent of the population makes up the Ra'malek class.
- Trelek: The Treleks are the nobility of the Cardassian people. They have the most sway in governmental affairs (in fact, most of the Detapa Council, the leaders of the Central Command, and the leaders of the Obsidian Order come from this class). Most of Cardassia's political strife comes from the struggle of thiss class against itself, as the upper echelons of power struggle against each other for control of the government. Treleks are proud of who they are and where they come from. They look down on the other classes with smug superiority. They wield the most vesala per members than any other class, and this is what keeps them on top. The Treleks protect that power with veracity, and are generally the meanest spirited when it comes to the lower classes. They will do just about anything to protect what they have. This includes murder, treachery, and deceit. Approximately five percent of the population is made up of the Trelek class.
A modern Cardassian Ti'alek, upon showing significant ability, can obtain a sponsor to attend a military academy. The same Ti'alek can now become an officer, achieve great things, and make a name for himself (and thereby his family). Once he has earned the respect of his peeers and supervisors, his family name could grow in status, and perhaps his children will be known as Amarleks, Ra'maleks, or even quite possibly (if his achievements are great enough) become a Trelek and join the ranks of nobility. Earning enough respect for this may be difficult, as those of the higher classes tend to cling harder to their titles than the lower classes.
Likewise, embarrassments and disgrace can send a Cardassian and his family down the social ladder, leading to ostracism and even exile. Smart families are quick to disown the disgraced Cardassian to prevent him from dragging them down with him. Usually these families maintain contact with their ostracized members, but they try to avoid aiding and abetting them.
Note that a raise in class is one of the few things a Cardassian cannot buy with their vesala. Performing extraordinary deeds for the Union is the only way to get one's family name blazing across the stars.
Early in Cardassian history, the Obsidian Order learned that well-entertained masses are often too distracted to be mindful of revolution. The best way to remain in power was to placate the citizenry with the Feeds. The Feeds are a network of broadcast screens throughout the Cardassian city streets that broadcast propaganda to the masses all day long. Each home on Cardassia is required by law to have a Feed. On the streets, huge monitors show speeches, trials and executions. In the home, the Cardassian has a choice of five Feeds, however all of them are essentially the same. All extol the glory of the Union. All insist that service to the state brings happiness. And of course, the main Feed broadcast the appropriate propaganda of political speeches, trials and executions. Frequently the Feeds show the exact same thing on all channels, and the home feeds can be operated form the source, forcing the message to play in the home whether the homeowners want it or not. The same propaganda Feeds are broadcast throughout the Cardassian Union, not just on Cardassia.
Some unscrupulous individuals modify their Feed unit, allowing them to receive Federation broadcasts or to block the propaganda Feeds. These individuals are criminals, and the Feed units can report such alterations during random automated diagnostics, so most Cardassians choose to just leave them alone. At least one criminal a day gets executed for Feed unit alteration, and that keeps the citizens reminded that the Feed units are the property of the government and are not to be modified by unauthorized personnel.
Education is important to the Cardassians, and all children living within the Union are instructed via the state's education system.
At the age of four, Cardassian children are given intensive mental training. At the age of six, they are placed into the primary school system where specialized instructors monitor the student's progress. These instructors, called Te'alakesh, are adept at finding what a particular student is apt to excel in. During this time, a Cardassian child lives with her family.
The Te'alakesh are arguably some of the most powerful Cardassians in the Union, for it is on their determination where a child will be placed for his future. Most Te'alakesh have great amounts of vesala as parents romance them for their child's placement. Te'alakesh work for the Ministry of Education, and some even whisper that this is merely a branch of the Obsidian Order, but there have been no foundation to these claims.
Once the Te'alakesh has identified a child's strengths and weaknesses, the child is assigned an advanced school most benefitting of their place in society, and sometimes that means that a lower-classed Cardassian will attend the finest schools through sponsorship. The Te'alakesh help the child by finding a sponsor. By showing prominent Cardassians their student's work and making suggestions to the right people, the Te'alakesh can obtain a sponsor for a promising child. Some Te'alakesh have even used their personal vesala to move lower-classed children to the ranks of the fit.
A sponsor is essentially putting his neck out on the chopping block for the pupil, as a sponsor is responsible for all actions that a student makes at her new school up until graduation. Should the student stumble, the sponsor will receive punishment and public humiliation. This makes sponsorship quite a commitment for both the student and the sponsor, but challenging the minds of the youth is something that most adult Cardassians enjoy doing. Once a Cardassian completes her advanced training years, the sponsorship ends and the sponsor is relieved of all responsibility for the young adult. Some dedicated sponsors will follow the career of the youth and watch over them, effectively becoming a patron to them.
A child completes public school at the age of nine or ten. One of a student's last acts as a child is to give a molar to the state for identification on their tenth birthday. This is seen as a rite-of-passage, and is celebrated among the family with a small informal party.
At the age of ten, a Cardassian will be placed into their advanced schooling. These advanced schools specialize in the subjects that they teach. They are structured around a three-term program consisting of three years apiece (totaling nine standard years). This program will instruct the student in whatever occupation she will eventually fill in Cardassian society with little emphasis on personal interests. There are no breaks for the student during this time, and it is unlikely that she will see her families during their advanced educations (though, regular contact is kept via the comm channels and Data-net). At the end of each term, a review of the student is held. If the student fails review, she will either repeat the term again, or, in the case of specialized schools (such as Intelligence school or the Ba'dorah Military Academy), the failed student will be placed into less prestigious school with a different, more mundane focus. These advanced academies are generally unforgiving; if the student cannot make the grade, the student does not belong in that line of work and needs more menial tasks to occupy them.
The basic layout for all Cardassian advanced education campuses is roughly the same. The school is split into two wings, one half for the males and one half for the females. Keeping the two sexes from co-mingling is the best way to keep the young Cardassian's attentions on their work and off of the opposite sex. Each wing is broken down into dormitories, where the young Cardassians live during their tenure at their school. Each dorm is further broken down into units with twenty young Cardassians in a unit. This unit eats, sleeps, trains and recreates together. Each unit consists of both upper- and lower-classmen, and usually the upper-classmen will lead the unit unless a lower-classman shows uncanny ability. This structure teaches the Cardassian youth to both work as a group but keep the details of their work secret from the others. When one member of a unit breaks a rule, the entire unit is punished. As the upperclassmen graduate, the lower-classmen rise up in the ranks of their unit, perhaps one day to become leader of it.
A typical day at a Cardassian Advanced School consists of rising before dawn for physical calisthenics. Morning meal is afterwards, where the students receive a hot breakfast and can briefly socialize with those outside of their unit. Classes begin shortly thereafter, where the Cardassian is taught their general studies. These classes are extremely challenging for the students. Midmeal is next, and more time is allocated to this endeavor so that the student mayenjoy her meal. After lunch comes an hour of 'free time', where the student can do as she pleases. Afterwards, the student goes into specialized classes that apply more directly to their future position in the Union. Next, the student eats dinner, then has 3 hours to finish their studies for the day.
Upon graduation, the student immediately joins the ranks of the rest of the Cardassian citizens in their duty to the state: mandatory military service for two years. After their military time is served, they join their place in Cardassian society.
The justice system
Cardassian justice is swift and effective. The legal system both protects the Cardassian populace and shows them clearly that they are being protected. To Federation observers the system seems harsh and unfair because the accused is not permitted a defense and there is a significant possibility that innocent men and women might be punished. But to the Cardassians, the fate of a few innocents matters little when compared to justice for the Cardassian State and its people.
The Cardassians boast that they have the most efficient criminal investigation system in the quadrant. Investigators have broad powers under Cardassian law, including torture. The DNA records of all Cardassians citizens are a powerful tool during an investigation. The Cardassian authorities even allow investigators to cross the borders of foreign powers to apprehend suspects.
When a suspect is arrested he is told, "You have the right to refuse to answer questions although such a refusal may be construed as a sign of guilt." A suspect may be interrogated or tortured to establish his guilt. Once a convincing case has been made against the suspect, he is imprisoned to await trial. He is no longer considered a suspect; he is now an offender.
The trial of an offender serves two purposes - to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order and to assure the Cardassian people that criminals are caught and punished. To facilitate this, trials are broadcast across Cardassia. Trials usually last less than a single day, to ensure that they are compelling viewing.
An Archon presides over a Cardassian court. She is both the judge and prosecutor. A Public Conservator represents the offender. The Conservator may point out flaws in the Archon's case but he may not call witnesses nor bring new evidence. Conservators have occasionally won a case, but this incurs the wrath of the Cardassian legal authorities. The offender is permitted a single Nestor, an advisor appointed by the court. There is no public gallery, but the family of an offender is expected to attend in order that the Cardassian people may see them weep.
A trial begins with a declaration of the charges against the offender and the sentence he is to receive. The trial only shows how the offender was found to be guilty. Witnesses are called and evidence is presented to prove the Archon's case. The Conservator may submit no evidence. The spouse of the offender is given the chance to testify against him so as to distance herself from his disgrace. The final testimony comes from the offender himself. He is compelled to testify. There is no right to silence under Cardassian jurisprudence.
At the end of the trial, after the Archon sums up her case, the offender is expected to concede to the wisdom of the state and accept his sentence with equanimity. The Conservator will counsel him to express remorse for his actions. The offender is lead away to begin his sentence immediately. Executions are carried out within days if the sentence is death.
Military and political prisoners are often submitted to the same trial procedure. Such a prisoner may be offered a lenient sentence if he agrees to confess all his crimes during a trial. When the only alternative to accepting such humiliation is further torture, a prisoner might easily succumb. When the Cardassian populace see a Federation officer confess to war crimes against Cardassian soldiers or a leading dissident admit to crimes against the State, they will be certain of the absolute superiority of the Cardassian way.
The purpose of Cardassian science is to serve the state. The Central Command controls all research and exploration. It dictates which sectors of space are to be explored. It decides which research projects can proceed and which are of no value to the State.
Cardassia's unparalleled education system and the renowned Cardassian attention to detail mean that Cardassia produces scientists of the highest caliber. A majority of Cardassian scientists are women, due the gender bias in Cardassian society. While many scientists are content to work for the improvement of the State, some are dissatisfied with the emphasis on practical projects. There are close links between the dissident movement and those researchers more interested in pure science.
The Cardassian Institute of Science is the Union's pre-eminent centre for research. Most of the Union's weapons research takes place here. The Central Command strictly controls it and security is very tight. The staff jokingly estimates that one in three of their number is an Obsidian Order operative. Whether the Order is there to protect the Institute's secrets or steal them is unknown.
Space exploration is carried out with the specific purpose of increasing Cardassia's resources. The discovery of new mineral-rich planets is of primary importance. When such a planet is located, it must be further appraised. Detailed requirements for mining must be determined, potential hazards investigated and the indigenous population must be evaluated to determine whether they can be employed as vassals or must be subdued.
The military does not posses purpose-built explorer vessels. Instead, Galor-class warships perform a limited scientific role. They are equipped with laboratories and have a small complement of scientists. These scientists are usually assigned with specific missions in mind. The commanders of these ships are often women. Female officers who overcome the sexism in the military to rise to the rank of Gul frequently find themselves sidelined by being assigned to exploration vessels. These officers tend to be ruthless from the bitterness of their position in the Union.
Advances in medical science are brought about for military purposes. Surgical techniques are developed to assist injured troops and vaccines are developed to allow Cardassian forces to fight on alien worlds. The treatment of ordinary Cardassian citizens is not considered important enough to devote research to. In particular, attempts to prolong the average Cardassian lifespan are considered contrary to the needs of the already overpopulated State.
Much of this text is taken from The Cardassian Sourcebook, edited by Kevin Thomas. Written by Tim Cooke, Jon Crew, Steve Kenson, Eric Rush, Guy Schipp, Paul Sinclair, Alexander Skrabut, Gregory J. Smith and Kevin Thomas.