Cardassian Union/History/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.
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