“Legate Dukat, a pleasure to meet you.”
Two human male Starfleet officers stepped into the office of Legate Dukat. The officer who greeted Dukat introduced himself as Marshall Robison, deputy director of Starfleet Tactical’s strategic division. Starfleet sent these officers following the Klingon incursion into Cardassian territory. Following a fierce battle at Deep Space 9, the Klingons halted their advance towards Cardassia Prime, but refused to relinquish the colony worlds they had already annexed.”
Robison shook hands with the tall Cardassian in accordance with human greeting rituals. He looked Dukat straight in the eye to hide his feelings of apprehension in shaking hands with the notorious butcher of Bajor.
The other Starfleet officer, Robison’s adjutant Lieutenant Harim Musaref, also stood on Dukat’s eye level while shaking with the Cardassian government’s strategic adviser.
Right behind them stood a middle-aged man closely resembling a human with the exception of ridges along both temples. He appeared somewhat intimidated having to arch his chin upward to look Dukat straight in the eye.
“I believe you already know Ilon Tandro from Klaestron Four,” Robison declared.
Dukat nodded approvingly. “Yes, I understand the nationalist faction on your planet has started another uprising.”
What they fail to understand is that our world’s economy depends on trade with both the Federation and the Cardassian Union,” Tandro replied. “We hope to demonstrate our good will by helping your people weather this latest crisis, Legate Dukat.”
Gul Revok stood quietly next to the desk in Dukat’s office eagerly waiting to be introduced. I set up this meeting, so surely I am just important as Dukat, he thought.
“I am sure you three know Gul Revok, my chief of staff,” Dukat stated to complete the formal introductions. “Let us sit down, shall we?”
The Starfleet officers and Tandro sat down on the large seating fixture housed right next to the office entryway. It did not feel as soft as what humans were used to, but it was acceptable. Dukat sat in a chair facing almost perpendicular to where his guests were seated. Revok took a seat on the smaller version of the guests’ seating fixture straight across from them.
“We’ve certainly had our share of problems here on Cardassia without the Klingons adding to them,” Dukat began.
“Which is why we are here,” Robison continued. “Had the Klingons completely withdrawn their forces from Cardassian space, this meeting would not be necessary. However, because the Klingons are holding on to territory they annexed prior to the attack on Deep Space 9, special strategic measures are required.”
Musaref rose from his seat and slowly walked towards a display screen all present could see from where they were sitting. He pushed a button next to the screen revealing a diagram on the screen. Several Klingon Empire emblems were on the diagram to represent star systems belonging to the Klingons. Smaller Cardassian Union emblems filled out the star map to represent Cardassian fleet deployments outside those star systems. “This is how your fleets are currently,” Musaref explained to Dukat and Revok.
Dukat nodded an affirmation of the statement.
“We are suggesting dividing these fleets into smaller units,” Musaref continued. “This way, your ships can be devoted to engaging in small scale hit-and-run attacks.”
“Pardon me, Lieutenant Musaref,” Revok interrupted. “What good would smaller units do? We would stand a better chance with larger fleets for a concentrated attack against the enemy.”
“By following that plan, however,” Robison responded, “the Klingons can eliminate a large number of your ships in such a confrontation. Smaller units can throw the enemy off-guard and slow its advance into Cardassian territory. Your forces will be better off in the long-term against an occupying force.”
Dukat contemplated what was said for a moment, realizing he had dealt with such a strategy. “The Bajorans used such tactics against us during our occupation of their world,” he offered. “The idea is to extend fighting with the goal of exhausting a superior opponent.”
Revok quickly rose from his seat, immediately knowing where this discussion was going. “You are suggesting we mimic Bajoran battle tactics?” he asked in horror. “Losing Bajor is not something our people are proud of, Dukat. You, of all people, are well aware of that fact.”
“Of course, I am,” Dukat emphatically stated. “One cannot help but appreciate the Bajoran’s ability to hold out against a superior enemy force, nevertheless. That appreciation allows us to learn from our defeats. Is your pride more important than the future of our empire?”
“He makes a good point, Gul Revok,” Tandro offered. “During my people’s civil war, the military leaders were baffled that the rebels could hold their own despite a considerable disadvantage in weapons and manpower. Our leaders are better prepared for similar uprisings, including the one taking place right now.”
Revok was momentarily persuaded. But he still felt that Dukat’s empathy for an enemy was somewhat uncharacteristic. “What has happened to you, Dukat? You’re just as soft as the corrupt politicians you advise.”
Dukat slowly rose from his seat giving Revok a stern look. “That will be all, Revok.”
Dukat then looked over at his guest. “Perhaps we should adjourn for now.”
Without a response, Robison, Musaref, and Tandro stood up and walked out of the room.
Stardate 49301 (Earth year 2372):
“A Cardassian separatist group calling themselves the ‘True Way’ has claimed responsibility for sabotaging the runabout.”
Security Chief Odo provided this news to station colleagues inside a very dark station Operations center. He had been conferring with his Starfleet counterpart, Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington, regarding a rather bizarre crisis. Their crewmates, returning from a diplomatic conference, had been beamed off the runabout Orinoco just before a warp core breach became critical. Chief O’Brien had discovered prior to the ship’s destruction that the necessary computer components for jettisoning the warp core had been removed. The runabout had been sabotaged. After the runabout’s crew was beamed off, the transporters could not rematerialize Captain Benjamin Sisko, then-Major Kira, Lieutenant Commanders Worf and Jadzia Dax, and Chief O’Brien. Eddington and Odo were forced to preserve their transporter patterns in the station’s computers. The runabout crew’s physical bodies were generated holographically in a holosuite program that was running at the time. Eddington and Odo had summoned Quark and Rom, the civilian owners of the station’s holosuites, to Ops to discuss how to retrieve their missing crew.
“Ever hear of them before?” Eddington asked.
Odo considered the question for a moment. All he had known at this time was that the True Way’s fear of outsiders was consistent with an historical happenstance on many worlds with which he had been familiar. “They’re opposed to the peace treaty,” he offered. “They blame the Federation for Cardassia’s economic and political troubles, etcetera, etcetera. Until now, they have not committed any terrorist acts to support their beliefs.”
Stardate 49302 (Earth year 2372):
Gul Revok had attended the conference that Sisko and his crew were returning from. The conference was a gathering of representatives of various Alpha Quadrant powers regarding the recent situation involving the Klingon Empire. Revok had looked forward to presenting Dukat’s requests for more direct Federation involvement and an exchange of technologies. Because the Federation had established an uneasy truce with the Cardassians only five years prior, top decision-makers at Starfleet Command and the Federation Council, however, were still reluctant to share certain military technology with the Cardassian Union.
Arrangements for a more official alliance with the Federation had been Revok’s hope in a new spirit of cooperation and friendship. Relations between the Federation and the Klingons had not always been cordial in the last two centuries. The Khitomer Accords of 2293 paved the way to smoother relations between the two powers, but the Klingons’ invasion had impeded this more peaceful relationship.
Revok, not to mention of lot of Cardassians, was disdainful of Klingons even before this invasion, seeing them as primitive nomadic warriors. This invasion served to inflame anti-Klingon sentiment among the Cardassian populace. Revok and Dukat founded the True Way as a means of encouraging their countrymen to embrace their cultural distinctiveness and to reject foreign ideals. After the inter-planetary conference he had attended, Revok became just as disdainful of the Federation.
“The conference was a travesty,” Revok told Dukat, who had been reduced to the Cardassian military title of Gul and reassigned to command of the freighter Groumall. His revelation of an illegitimate half-Bajoran daughter cost him his status as military advisor to his government.
Dukat had been in the middle of a freight run when Revok contacted him. He stood in a small alcove at the aft of the bridge. A transparent soundproof door allowed him to receive the communiqué privately and prevented others from listening in.
“The Federation representatives rejected every one of your suggestions, Dukat,” Revok continued.
Where Revok was disappointed, Dukat was not at all surprised. “I warned you, Revok,” he stated in a chastising tone. “The Federation is devoted to peace and friendship on the outside. In reality, they are more concerned with protecting its interests at the expense of any neighboring power.
Their council may have explicitly condemned the Klingon invasion, but they have no desire to antagonize their allies any further. Many of them of them still have strong memories of the border wars with our people. Such scars do not heel quickly.”
Revok had come to similar conclusions during the conference. You were right all along, sir, he thought to himself.
Which is why I took action,” he replied.
Revok’s last words piqued Dukat’s curiosity. What sort of action had Revok taken, short of jeopardizing the fragile peace with the Federation?
“I sabotaged the vessel that ferried the Starfleet representatives,” Revok explained. “Several engineers who were well-versed in Starfleet engineering specs caused a collapse in their antimatter containment system. They also removed several key computer components needed to eject their warp core.”
During his time as military governor of Bajor, Dukat had dealt with similar acts of sabotage. But, for a Cardassian to try to something like this? He was almost speechless, “What?” was all he could get out.
“The Federation may not have directly aided the Klingon invasion,” Revok continued. “Their current actions or inaction makes them just as guilty. They are as much to blame as the barbarians who have invaded our territory.”
Dukat regained his composure and gave Revok a stern look. “Just remember one thing,” he said, angrily beaming at his former subordinate. “Cardassians do not become terrorists! Such cowardly acts will only weaken our credibility. And despite the Federation’s hypocrisy, we depend on it in this great time of crisis. Jeopardizing our truce is dangerous.”
“As far as the Federation is concerned, the True Way is a fanatical extremist group that does not act rationally.”
Dukat exhaled slowly. He was a little less angry at what Revok had just told him. “Fine, but no more attacks of this nature.”
With that, their discussion ended. The image of Revok on the wall-mounted monitor was then replaced by the symbol of the Cardassian Union.