Jape

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"Cardassians are like timberwolves – predators... bold in large numbers, cautious by themselves, and with an instinctive need to establish a dominant position in any social gathering."
- Captain Edward Jellico 2368

"We did not choose to be the superior race, fate handed us our role! And it would have been so much easier on everyone if they had simply accepted theirs."
- Gul Dukat 2374


Car Galaxy 2150.png

The Cardassian Union within the Milky Way Galaxy, 2150


-------
Halloo. This is to be a history book AAR for the lovely Stellaris mod Star Trek: New Horizons. It is a major overhaul of the base game, allowing you to play dozens of canon Trek species and is full of nice flavourful events and mechanics.

I have been meaning to do a Stellaris AAR for some time and had begun writing one up based on a normal game. Unfortunately, I lost my saves. The background and 'lore' I had created for my custom race was inspired by the Cardassians and having had a recent binge of DS9, I decided to give New Horizons a spin as everyone favourite wide-necked fascists.

I chose the Cardassians as they are a personal favourite and for the fact they have relatively limited lore while still being well-defined, allowing a little wiggle room. I leave the canon-accurate history of the Federation to a braver AARer than me.

So I hope you enjoy and come along, even if you're not a Trek nerd (I'll go easy on the technobabble, promise).

title car.png


NOTE: The mod kicks off in 2150. Also I'm shooting that 1 pop equals 500 million individuals.
 
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Jape

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Glossary
Courtesy of the Cardassian Ministry of Public Enlightenment & Communications

Military Ranks

Gul-Tar: Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of the Central Command and de facto head of state.
Grand Gul: Theoretical rank for a general commanding several military Orders, equivalent to General of the Armies
Legate: Political office bestowed on members of the Central Command and military governors.

Jagul: Equivalent to General or Admiral, commander of a military Order.
Gul: Broadly equivalent to Colonel/Brigadier or Captain/Commodore.
Glinn: Equivalent to Lieutenant.

Garresh: Equivalent to Chief Petty Officer or Sergeant.
Gorr: Equivalent to Crewman or Private.
 
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Introductions

Jape

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Introductions


cardassia_prime_reconstruction_by_vjeko1701_d5cn1fx-fullview.jpg

Cardassia Prime

The Cardassians are a grey-skinned humanoid species notable for their mixture of reptilian and mammalian characteristics. They are native to Cardassia Prime, a hot, humid world dominated by barren plains and mountain ranges. Its oppressive heat and dearth of vegetation places it barely within the parameters of an M-class planet [1]. Once overrun with rainforests, an orbital shift in 8,000 BC had catastrophic effects on the planet's ecosystem, almost destroying the Cardassian people in the process. This was further compounded by massive pollution between 1450-1700, leaving many areas uninhabitable.

It is the second planet in a seven planet system. The third planet, known as Cardassia Minor, has a lush environment similar to its larger neighbour's before the shift. It has long been regarded as a paradise, leading to major restrictions on colonisation. Only limited areas are given over to tourism and private estates, the rest remaining a protected nature reserve, a rare thing in Cardassian society. The fourth and fifth planets, Hutet and Lakaria, are barely habitable Class-L desert worlds, their scorching days and freezing nights deemed suitable only for the Union's extensive system of prison labour camps.


Physiology

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Examples of a Cardassian male and female


The Institute of Paleokhaldology at the prestigious Culat University houses a complete fossil and life-size reconstruction of the Cardassians' oldest known direct ancestor. The Plesakhalda horrec was a pack hunter, loosely resembling a short-snouted alligator with lean, wolf-like legs, while its scaled skin was interrupted by patches of coarse fur.

Modern Cardassians' reptilian forebears are plain to see in their physiology. Scaled cartilage covers parts of the sternum, the sides of the neck structure and the brow ridges, the latter creating a 'hooded' effect around the eyes. The neck structure, a mixture of bone and muscle, is noticeably broad on the shoulders. While providing additional upper body strength, it also limits the range of neck motion compared to other humanoids. The most prominent facial feature is the chufa, an inverted teardrop-shaped crest of vestigial cartilage on the forehead. Continuing to grow as the body ages, prominent chufas are traditionally seen as signs of elder wisdom.

Despite their obvious differences from most humanoid species in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, Cardassians still share more genetically with Humans, Vulcans and Klingons than they do not. They have a mammalian reproductive cycle and similar height and weight ranges, though Cardassians can be notably broad-shouldered and barrel-chested. Unlike the fast-maturing Klingons, Cardassians do not reach full adulthood until around the age of twenty and can expect to live around a century on average.

The Cardassian mind is highly efficient on a neurological level. Most Cardassians possess a near-photographic memory, a talent encouraged by a demanding education system based on rote learning. The popular martial art of ghutama wrestling relies on a fighter's ability to use their limbs in separate, simultaneous actions; something most non-Cardassians find exceedingly difficult to master. This compartmentalising of thought also allows individuals with the correct training to become incredibly resistant to neural probes and telepathic techniques like the Vulcan mind-meld [2].


Society

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Cardassia City at dusk


Cardassians are highly social but also domineering, to the point debates and heated arguments are treated as a pastime, or even as a form of flirtation. Meals with friends and family are often drawn-out affairs where battles of opinion are as important as the food being served. This combative nature often leads outsiders to dismiss Cardassians as arrogant; a not entirely unearned reputation.

Working for the larger collective, be it the family, the community or (most importantly) the state, is central to Cardassian life. Several generations living in the same home is common, with strict deference to elders the norm. Hierarchy and order are highly respected, in part due to the anarchy of previous generations, however authority usually resides in executive councils, with their nominal leaders' powers limited as 'first among equals'.

Compared to Klingon group psychology, where an individual will establish dominance through combat or intimidation, amongst Cardassians dominance is gained by those able to muster a majority of support, often through promises of power-sharing and favours, thereby isolating any stronger individual. This approach is epitomised by vesala, an endemic culture of patronage, contacts, and favours that 'greases the wheels' of the Cardassian Union. Despite the draconian and seemingly omnipresent police state in place on Cardassia Prime, the rampant low-level corruption of vesala is mostly ignored and rarely, if ever, mentioned by state media.

Cardassians take great pride in their education system, which maintains rigorous standards of achievement and discipline. Children of officers and the well-to-do are often sent to military boarding schools, with the likes of the elite Ba'dorah academy seen as the pinnacle of a Cardassian education. Most students are assigned a career path while still in adolescence, while a mandatory cadet corps in every school prepares them for their national service at the age of twenty. Critics have often attacked the system as rigid, conformist and compromised by propaganda.

Centres of higher education have a more liberal reputation, focusing on the sciences and arts. Institutions like Culat University and the Lakarian School are well regarded as hotbeds of creativity and innovation but are highly exclusive, with places reserved for only the brightest and best connected. The overwhelming majority of young Cardassians enter directly into the military, civil service or an apprenticeship after completing their secondary education. Universities are well scouted by organisations like the Science Ministry, looking for young prospects. Less overtly, campuses are also prime recruiting grounds for dissidents and the Obsidian Order itself.

Many Cardassians are members of various clubs and societies, a form of social bonding or “comrading” endorsed by the state [3]. Most prominent is the Amber Star, a civic organisation pre-dating the Union. It organises charities, community projects and festivals throughout the year. Though officially independent of the government, the Amber Star's broadly patriotic slant and position in Cardassian society means it rarely goes against the regime, and is widely presumed to contain numerous informants and covert operatives.

The Akleen Order of Youth is a similar non-governmental group bent to Central Command's whims. Named for the founder of the Cardassian Union, the Akleen Order developed from a scouting organisation for teenagers into a socially active youth movement beholden to the state. Its members often participate in civil construction projects and have been deployed as auxiliary police during public disturbances. Unlike the school cadets, the Akleen Order is a voluntary group, though one deemed all but essential for young people aiming for a career in politics or the officer corps.


The State

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Public "feeds" broadcast state media and show trials across all major Cardassian cities


The dominant political force in 2150 is the military's Central Command. Its members all hold the equal rank of Legate, a political office bestowed on the leaders of the Orders and military governors. In addition, the leader of Central Command holds the rank of Gul-Tar, making them commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and de facto head of state.

The Cardassian military is a unitary force, its structure based on a number of Orders. Military Orders, like their name suggests, can be traced back conceptually to premodern times and several, such as the vaunted Second Order, have long histories. By the 22nd century the Orders had effectively evolved into combined-arms battle groups.

Though some have specialties, such as the engineers of the Third or anti-insurgency units of the Seventh, all are theoretically capable of waging an independent military campaign. For practical (and political) reasons, Orders rarely operate as a whole, with smaller units being deployed as needed. The growing importance of a stellar fleet has added an extra dimension to the situation and triggered countless debates in Central Command over the proportioning of new ships.

The Obsidian Order, Cardassia's main intelligence and security agency, is cloaked in secrecy, as are many of its internal workings. The Order is constantly see-sawing between alliance and rivalry with Central Command over political influence. A noteworthy (and rare) check on the service's power is a definitive ban on the Obsidian Order maintaining military units of its own.

It is divided into various Directorates, each overseen by a Director, however most are unknown to the public. No formal leader is known to exist, with the unofficial title of Chief Director sometimes being used by outsiders. Each Directorate is ostensibly equal but responsibilities and size determine their true power within the Order.

The gargantuan Surveillance Directorate is believed to have been dominant for much of the last century, its cells employing possibly millions of agents and support staff, as well as countless informants from amongst the Union's twenty-five billion citizens. The Reconnaissance Directorate, focusing on foreign operations, is small in 2150 but growing rapidly as the Cardassians begin to push out into space and encounter new species. Meanwhile, the Directorate of Waste Analysis is unlikely to rise to prominence any time soon.

The largely ineffectual civilian government is overseen by the Detapa Council, led by the Speaker. The Council is democratically elected via large districts, however the military and security services ensure only pre-approved candidates can stand for office. Despite their lack of true political power, the civilian government still administers most of the bureaucracy and infrastructure needed to keep the state running.

The Ministry of Justice is the only civilian branch with any true autonomy, though it remains subservient to the Central Command. Archons oversee the Union's courts, or rather tribunals, acting as both judge and prosecutor. The Supreme Tribunal, led by the Chief Archon, heads the judiciary. The Cardassian legal system is notable for guilt being decided by private committees. Only then do the culpable undergo a perfunctory trial, intended to demonstrate their crimes publicly and extract an admission of guilt [4].

Civilian law enforcement is carried out by the All-Union Constabulary. In colonial and rural areas they are often supplemented by the district militias. The Constabulary includes the Special Bureau, which acts as an investigative force and domestic intelligence agency. These responsibilities can lead to conflicts with the Obsidian Order, something that is actively encouraged by other state institutions [5]. The Constabulary also includes the much-hated “Alert Units”, paramilitaries that act as the first response to major civil unrest, suppressing rioters and peaceful demonstrators with equal force.


______


[1] M-class planets are worlds considered broadly habitable to most humanoid species. Visitors to Cardassia Prime often compare the weather to being in a sauna. Despite the difference in humidity Vulcans actually find it quite tolerable and vice versa.

[2] A skill drilled into all Obsidian Order operatives.

[3] Obviously not a Cardassian term, similar group activities were encouraged by the Nazis and their Communist successors in East Germany under the term “comrading”. Participants often claimed later that they enjoyed these activities but could never shake the feeling of coercion around them. A feeling I imagine would be very familiar to your average Cardassian.

[4] In most cases of common crimes this system is (usually) impartial, still basing judgements on the available evidence. When it comes to political crimes or cases involving influential figures however, the whims of the state and the vesala usually take precedence.

[5] Cardassian government is defined by numerous, byzantine organisations scheming and politicking with each other to keep their rivals in check.
 
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1. Where no Gul has gone before...

Jape

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1. Where no Gul has gone before...

2150 map.png

Cardassian space - 2150

In 2150 (deemed the beginning of the modern stellar period), the Cardassian Union consisted of five star systems in the western-Alpha Quadrant. Three of them held substantial populations; the dilithium mines of Regulak, the industrial centres of Goralis and Cardassia Prime itself. Thirteen billion people lived in the home system, with twelve billion more dispersed through the major and minor colonies.

Expansion into the galaxy meant not so much living space for the Union as breathing space. Resource scarcity was an ever-present issue on Cardassia Prime, dating back to the industrial exhaustion of the 1600s, or arguably even the orbital shifts ten millennia prior. Cardassian society had been moulded by the demands of an unforgiving world – and an unforgiving galaxy. Technological advances and a regimented culture had been in lock-step for centuries, desperate to outpace famine, overpopulation and economic collapse.

The Science Ministry's successful testing of Warp 5-capable starships in the 2140s proved a much-needed boon [1]. Soon a new fleet of exploratory, construction and military vessels had been fitted with the technology at great cost. The Communications Service jingoistically dubbed it the “Ghollar-drive” after it's chief designer, claiming the engines a prime example of Cardassian ingenuity. Despite state sanction, the term would soon fall out of use as it became apparent the Union's stellar neighbours all possessed similar, or even superior, technology.

Chief amongst them was the Xepolite Guilds. Considered some of the finest merchants (and smugglers) in the Alpha Quadrant, the Xepolites had been Cardassia's intermediaries with the wider galaxy for decades. Nonetheless, they were a guarded species, barring non-Guild ships from their home system and keeping the technology behind their fast-warp, sensor-reflective “free traders” a strict secret.

Xepolite.jpg

A Xepolite

All requests for closer ties from Central Command were inevitably rebuffed, albeit usually with a modest lump sum and obsequious apology from Chairman Drooroe. Gul-Tar Dalket ignored the scattered calls for an invasion of Xep'a following the development of the Ghollar-drive. The Cardassian leader saw the Xepolites of more value as trade partners and go-betweens than as subjects of the Union.

The Guilds proved their worth during the rapid exploration and expansion of Cardassian territory in the coming decades. Their star charts helped guide the historic voyages of the Tosedm and Kroanak, while the sending of ambassadors to the humanoid Bajorans (2159), fish-like Antedeans (2160) and the large reptilians of the Tzenkethi Coalition (2161) were all organised through Xepolite mediators.

Perhaps most importantly, the Guilds acted as the sole conduit for official Cardassian exports. The new fleet, long-range scientific voyages and the slew of outposts and research stations that followed in their wake all put immense pressure on the Union's treasury in the 2150s. Despite shortages in many essential and rarer resources, the Cardassians had always been adept miners and through the Xepolites, their large mineral ore surplus flooded the Alpha Quadrant. Many species would know of the Cardassian Union by their chief export long before meeting any state representative [2].

Early first contacts initiated by the Cardassians themselves proved problematic. In August 2153, the Science Ministry's exploratory ship Kroanak entered the Olmerak system on a routine survey mission and intercepted a distress signal. The message emanated from a damaged alien vessel owned by the Pakled, a race of seemingly dim-witted scavengers. Kroanak's captain, Gul Dadidm Turrel offered assistance in an attempt at showcase Cardassian benevolence.

First contacts 2160.png

(l-r) Bajoran, Antedean, Tzenkethi, and Tamarian

The away team soon discovered that the Pakled had stolen scientific data from several species, including their own, and on confronting the aliens triggered a hostage situation. Gul Turrel was seized (having insisted on meeting the Pakled captain personally). His First Officer organised a ruse to make the Pakled lower their shields, allowing the Kroanak to beam Turrel aboard. Seconds later, the ship's disruptors focused their fire on the alien vessel's damaged warp core, destroying it in dramatic fashion [3]. The more embarrassing details were glossed over by the Communications Service, the “Battle of Olmerak” being trumpeted as a great victory against interstellar piracy, while Central Command issued an edict, declaring all Pakled “bandits” enemies of the Union.

Shortly after establishing relations with the Tzenkethi, the Duden, captained by Gul Rulani Daro made contact with their southern neighbours, the Tamarian Unity, in June 2162. Diplomatic efforts were fraught. The Tamarians communicated exclusively through allegory, using historic and mythologic references. Lacking knowledge of the sources the Tamarians drew upon, Daro and her crew struggled to make headway or even deduce their opposites' opinions of the Cardassians. Matters were not helped by the overt religious trappings of the Tamarians [4].

Despite a rich spiritual history, organised religion was all but illegal on Cardassia Prime by the 22nd century, the government having promoted an aggressively secular society for several generations. Gul Daro and her officers barely masked their contempt and after several fruitless days were ordered by Central Command to end talks with the Tamarians. They responded with newfound clarity, closing their borders to all Cardassian vessels.

Religion also proved an issue in relations with the Bajoran Second Republic. Their faith was central to their culture, which, combined with their inferior level of technology, led many Cardassians to look down on Bajor as backward and primitive. Within only several years of first contact, relations had deteriorated to the point of mutually closed borders and trade embargoes. The latter did not hurt Bajor to the extent Gul-Tar Dalket had anticipated. While the loss of Cardassian markets was a negative for many merchants, new agreements with the Tamarians and Antedeans soon compensated, while drawing Bajor closer to them politically.

Nerok.png

The Nerok-class frigate - workhorse of the Cardassian fleet in the 22nd century


The embargo also cut off Cardassia from Bajoran dilithium imports, leading to shortages as domestic production struggled to meet demand [5]. A hawkish paranoia swept Cardassia Prime in early 2163 as a result. Concerns about Bajor falling under the influence of a larger power saw many within the Central Command and beyond push for pre-emptive action.

Chief amongst them was Puvum Darhe'el, Jagul of the Second Order, arguably the most powerful man in the Union behind the Gul-Tar himself. Dalket, despite a military background, had spent his thirteen years in office focusing on economic growth, favouring 'soft' diplomacy as Cardassia made its first tentative steps into the wider galaxy [6].

The apparent failure of this approach on Bajor threatened his grip on power. In truth, despite a superior fleet and ground forces, the limited firepower of the Nerok-class frigates and lack of experience in planetary invasions guaranteed any attack on the planet would be a bloody one [7]. Instead, Dalket turned to the Obsidian Order to test Bajor's new relations and continue his economic approach by force. On 11 May 2163, the orbital dilithium refinery above B'hava'el X in the Bajor system suffered a catastrophic explosion.

Bhavel Bombing 2163.png

Bajor's sole dilithium refinery goes up in flames... how unfortunate


The incident was soon pinned on native criminal groups looking to drive up prices, thanks to evidence surreptitiously supplied by the Order itself. Bajoran dilithium production would be crippled for over a year, leading to issues with the Republic's customers on Sigma Tama and Antede III. Despite a complete lack of proof, First Minister Dehi addressed the Great Assembly in June 2163, suggesting a Cardassian plot to undermine Bajor was responsible for the B'hava'el Bombing [8].

The civilian Detapa Council (chosen to provide a less aggressive face to the Union) responded with earnest pleas of ignorance and offers to aid reconstruction of the refinery. Bajor had no interest in Cardassian ships entering their home system and promptly rejected the suggestion – an empty diplomatic nicety to begin with. The two states would remain locked in a 'cold war' for some time, however the bombing had achieved its goal, reducing Bajor's stature in the Alpha Quadrant and harming relations with her would-be allies. It was also the first major foreign operation by the Obsidian Order, beginning the cycle of rumours, legends and half-truths that would see it become one of the most feared intelligence agencies in the galaxy.

The affair had allowed Dalket to lean on the security services and pliant civilian government for support, however the hawks remained a powerful faction within Central Command. Jagul Darhe'el, no doubt aware of the armed forces' limitations, had assented to an indirect approach on Bajor in return for expansion elsewhere. The completion of the first Netel-class destroyers in 2164, the Union's first true warships, would be the green light for military operations the following year.

Car map 2162.png

Known space - 2163


_____


[1] Warp factors increase exponentially, so the jump from Warp 4 (under 100 times the speed of light) to Warp 5 (over 200 times the speed of light) greatly increases the range of a starship. Warp 5 was a crucial step in allowing a species to engage practically in long-range interstellar travel. United Earth, predecessor to the Federation, deployed its first Warp 5-capable ship, the NX-01 Enterprise, in 2151.

[2] Cardassian ores have a mixed reputation on the galactic market. Merchants believe Central Command keeps the highest quality stock for domestic use, while exporting the rest. It is cheap though.

[3] The Cardassian Science Ministry is de facto part of the military. As such exploratory science vessels have modest armaments and draw much of their crew from the armed forces, though senior officers tend to hold some scientific background or education. As Science Ministry ships are often the point of first contact, most carry at least one agent from the Obsidian Order's Reconnaissance Directorate.

[4] The Tamarian Unity is a “Celestial Empire”.

[5] Dilithium is used to fuel and regulate warp engines, making it a very important resource in the world of Star Trek.

[6] As soft as a Cardassian can be anyway.

[7] Nerok-class frigates make up the entire Cardassian military fleet in 2163. They are an all-purpose modular design, also acting as the base for the Science Ministry's Marek-class exploratory vessels. The Neroks are capable enough ship-to-ship combatants for the period but are not equipped to support planetary invasions, even having difficulty against moderately fortified space stations.

[8] Despite the in-game event going perfectly, Bajor promptly declared me a rival and when I contacted them via the diplomatic screen, they made reference to “your agents”. Proof or no proof the Cardassians are the obvious culprits.
 
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stnylan

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Will definitely follow. I always rather liked Cardassians. One of my favourite Birth of the Federation campaigns from yesteryear were the Cardassians.
 

Vilhelm

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Yesss, I'm a huge fan of the Cardassians and their Orwellian ways. Will definitely follow!
 

Jape

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Thanks guys, should have second chapter in a day or two. Pleasantly surprised by all the love for the Cardassians. They're arguably some of the evilest antagonists in Star Trek (as a collective) but evil in very human ways. The shows also gave even the worst of them some character depth. Its that 'bite' IMO that makes them so interesting. They're militaristic and secretive yet you'd never mistake them for the Klingons or Romulans.

Will definitely follow. I always rather liked Cardassians. One of my favourite Birth of the Federation campaigns from yesteryear were the Cardassians.

Birth of the Federation, now there's a blast from the past! Glad to have you stnylan.

Yesss, I'm a huge fan of the Cardassians and their Orwellian ways. Will definitely follow!

Excellent!

YES! :D

Excellent start and I cannot overstate how happy I am to see this AAR! I am a fan of your work of course and I love the Cardassians. I'd even strongly considered a New Horizons AAR of my own (possibly as the Andorians) so I am fascinated to see how this goes! :)

Great to have you on board! Ooh please do, would it be an Andorian-led Federation or a blood-soaked Andorian Empire?
 
2. The Megara War

Jape

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2. The Megara War

Netel.png

A Netel-class destroyer


In little over a decade following the implementation of the Warp 5 Ghollar-drive, the Cardassian Union more than doubled in size, encompassing a dozen systems. July 2163 saw colonists arrive on the comfortably arid world of Kelvas Prime, the first major colonisation effort outside of the “core systems”. The wide frontiers of space still held many mysteries and opportunities, many unclaimed worlds and star systems. It was becoming increasingly clear however that expansion would not go unchecked by other nations indefinitely.

To Cardassia's galactic east the Tzenkethi Coalition and Tamarian Unity were growing at pace, claiming several systems previously marked by the Science Ministry for annexation. Concerns about being bottled up in their own borders was a frequent topic of discussion in the Central Command. Knowledge of the galaxy beyond their immediate neighbours was sparse and some still clung to the traditional assumption that sentient warp-capable civilisations were rare occurrences (their number in local space being an aberration); the implication was that the Union need only bypass alien borders to claim a rich sea of territory and resources.

While this would prove mostly incorrect, known space still held many unclaimed systems in the region. Both the Tzenkethi and Tamarians were far from friends of Cardassia but a lack of direct borders and curt but civil diplomacy allowed peace for the immediate future. The same could not be said for the west. The semi-aquatic Antedeans had proven themselves rapid expansionists, notably in the direction of Cardassian space.

Megara Cluster.png

The contested Megara Cluster


Their frontiers would meet in a collection of systems known as the Megara Cluster [1]. Amongst its energy and mineral deposits, the Cluster included the world of Upchurch III, a large M-class planet dominated by savannahs that seemed all but ready-made for Cardassian colonisation. For several years science vessels from both nations had surveyed the region with little issue, while the matter of ownership hung in the air. The unspoken position Gul-Tar Dalket and the Central Command was simple; either the Cluster would be annexed unopposed or it would be taken by force.

This hard-line went beyond simple militarism or even realpolitik. In truth, the Cardassians loathed the Antedeans. Initial encounters had led to reports from even the most tactful envoys of an ugly, crass species whose appearance and actions “turned the stomach”. Attempts at diplomatic dinners did little to help, with the Antedean food of choice being vermicula, a cold slop of krill-like creatures which they gorged directly from a bucket. Many wondered how such a people managed to crawl out of the sea, never mind journey to the stars.

This dim view led them to underestimate the Antedeans. In mid-2164, as the Science Ministry focused its efforts northwards to the Rolor Nebula and plans for the Cluster anticipated control in two-to-three years, word arrived from the frontier outpost at Polaris. The aliens had, in short order, laid claim to Folk, Megara and Upchurch without firing a shot, leaving only the Meraz system contested. The news caused outrage and disbelief in Central Command but they already knew their answer. Jagul Darhe'el was soon heading for the Cluster with all available warships.

Grappleshark 2165.png

Antedean plans for the Meraz system are... put on hold


The fleet was a powerful force for the era. Supported by eight Narok-class frigates, three newly commissioned Netel-class destroyers led the way, the flag being given to the Keldon. In a time before photons, phasers or shields, they relied on polarised hulls, disruptor arrays and atomic spatial torpedoes [2]. A world away from the technology of the next generation, the Cardassians nonetheless had a secret weapon, in the form of kemocite. A rare, unstable element that acted as an explosive multiplier, it had been successfully weaponised by Dr. Kijemd Tulet, head of the Science Ministry's military research department, in 2163. Prior to leaving port the fleet had been supplied with a consignment of kemocite warheads.

The Union gave no official response to the annexations and the Antedeans, taking this rather naively as consent, turned their attention to Meraz. In February 2165, the science vessel Silverfish and construction vessel Grappleshark entered the system to find the Tosedm in orbit above Meraz II. The Tosedm's captain was cordial to the new arrivals, making no mention of the issue of the Cluster systems [3]. The Cardassians departed the system later the same day, claiming their survey mission complete. Within a few hours, an explosion ripped through the Grappleshark, breaking her in two, killing hundreds and halting all efforts to establish an outpost in the system.

Despite a concerted investigation by the crew of the Silverfish, little could be ascertained about the incident. The only clue they had were residual traces of an element then unknown to the them; kemocite. Before the Antedeans could contact the Union about the Tosedm's suspected involvement, they received a subspace communique from Central Command. In it they claimed the entire Megara Cluster to lie within Cardassia's “natural borders” and that the necessary “corrections” were to be made in short order. The dumbfounded response from Antede III nearly made Dalket choke on his kanar [4].

antedean response 2165.png

The Antedean "response" to the Megara communique


Darhe'el had arrived at Polaris only days earlier and was soon leading the bulk of his task force towards the Upchurch system. Meanwhile a smaller squadron of three frigates, led by the young Gul Luvat Entek, was tasked with securing Meraz. Entek surprised the still present Silverfish, destroying her with all hands. He would remain in-system for several months, allowing the Reklar to arrive and complete construction of a Cardassian outpost.

Meanwhile, Darhe'el had engaged the Antedean station at Upchurch. Any hopes the outpost would slow the invasion through a protracted siege were soon dashed. The sheer firepower of the Netels, enhanced by their kemocite torpedoes, quickly disabled the enemy defences before marines began boarding. The Antedeans, hardly the most imposing or agile of species, were overwhelmed with minimal Cardassian casualties.

The Upchurch assault was repeated, first at Megara in July, then Folk in September, with similar results. Folk would see the only notable ship-to-ship engagement of the war, when a squadron of Antedean frigates arrived on 1 October. Seemingly unaware of the system's fall, the four ships were attacked moments after leaving warp. Outnumbered two-to-one and hopelessly outgunned, only a single frigate was able to escape. Nothing now stood between Darhe'el and the Antede system.

megara 2165.png

Jagual Darhe'el attacks the Antedeans at Megara Station, July 2165


The Jagul held at Folk into the new year to rest and repair. Ground troops for a prospective invasion of Antede III were still months away, while the journey to the alien homeworld from the Megara Cluster would take over two months, even at Warp 5. Up to that point, Cardassian casualties had been in the hundreds but would almost certainly multiply rapidly were an assault on the enemy homeworld to be launched. There was also the matter of what to do with Antede III when it was occupied; there was certainly no stomach for the annexation of nine billion Antedeans. To the surprise and disappointment of many battle-hungry Cardassian troops, in March 2166, little over a year after hostilities began, an armistice was agreed via subspace radio.

Officially a white peace, a suspension of hostilities, it left the entire Megara Cluster in the Union's hands. The war had been a shockingly one-sided affair, surprising even the Central Command. Thousands of Antedeans were dead and their civilian and military fleets decimated. Cardassian loses were a fraction of their enemy's, with not a single ship lost. Any pretence the fish-folk had of becoming a regional power were shattered and for most of the remaining century would limit their expansion to the near-barren star systems of the galactic rim.

For the Cardassians the conflict had confirmed the confidence of the hawks, earned them a valuable prospective colony in Upchurch III (soon to be renamed New Lakaria) and raised their stature across the Alpha Quadrant – for both good and ill. The Xepolites reacted with congratulations and a handsome 'tribute', while the Bajorans, Tamarians and newly discovered Trill and Valerians responded with denunciations and renewed whispers of an anti-Cardassian pact [5]. Dalket and the Central Command cared little. Amidst the post-war revelry, the leadership had no time for puzzling reports from the Obsidian Order, claiming half of the Antedean fleet had been in fact heading north during the last days of the conflict – away from the front. It seemed the fisk-folk had more than one enemy, an enemy the Cardassians would soon encounter themselves.

post megara 2166.png

Cardassian borders, 2167



_____



[1] The Megara Cluster is not a literal star cluster but a general term for a half dozen (relatively) close but distinct systems.

[2] The Cardassians would not possess practical ship-capable shields for nearly a decade.

[3] The captain being one Timal Dukat. A distant ancestor perhaps?

[4] Kanar being a Cardassian spirit known for its strength.

[5] The Trill and Valerians are one-planet minors to my galactic north-east, seen as two greyish dots on the map above.
 

stnylan

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One gets the feeling the Union may be in for a rude surprise
 

RossN

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Great to have you on board! Ooh please do, would it be an Andorian-led Federation or a blood-soaked Andorian Empire?

Andorians are Xenophile so even an Empire wouldn't be that blood soaked and they have a weaker opening hand than the Cardassians. Still it is an interesting idea, I'll have to consider it. :)

(Of course I also have a few ideas I want to try in 'normal' Stellaris. Decisions, decisions!)

Very nice chapter. The Cardassians have been blooded, the Antedeans humbled and an intriguing new power about to enter the picture.
 

Vilhelm

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Please tell me this new power isn't those hippy-dippy humans, shoving equality and non-interference down our throats.

(Then again, something about the placement doesn't work out. My knowledge of Trek geography is lacking, but the only empires I can think of in this region of space would be the Talarians or... the Breen. Never turn your back on them!)

Update: Reading this inspired me to play ST: New Horizons as the Husnock, an aggressive race we never saw and who were wiped out in the same episode they were "introduced"... let's just say if I find a system named Delta Rana, I'll be avoiding it like the plague.
 
Last edited:

Nikolai

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Nice, never been in into Star Trek much, but reading this AAR is still entertaining. :)
 

El Pip

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Meanwhile, the Directorate of Waste Analysis is unlikely to rise to prominence any time soon.
That's what they want you to think.
3p2KeJ6.gif
 

Specialist290

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Meanwhile, the Directorate of Waste Analysis is unlikely to rise to prominence any time soon.

I mean, all that salvaged debris isn't going to study itself ;)

...But seriously, just wandered over here from the WritAAR of the Week thread and found this AAR to be quite entertaining so far. The Star Trek universe as a whole never really sparked my interest to the same degree as many others (though I did play a little Birth of the Federation back in the day and more recently completed a marathon binge of TOS, both of which I rather enjoyed), but I'm quite fond of Machiavellian schemer types, and the Cardassians suit my tastes quite nicely.

Looking forward to the next chapter! :D
 

Le Jones

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Well this is a niche gem, and great to see you Jape. I always liked your support to my HOI2 AAR years ago.

And now to this - a great, beautifully presented AAR which I will watch with interest. I am really, really torn on the Cardassians; their potential was never fully realised in TNG or DS9 (although both came close) and I found them, well, a bit underpowered in BOTF (Feds or Romulans for me, I'm afraid). So far so good, although the Union looks surrounded by powerfil rivals...
 

Jape

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Thank you guys, really appreciate all the feedback, and special thanks to @RossN for deeming me worthy of WritAAR of the Week for it and bringing in new readers in the process. Real life has delayed the next chapter I'm afraid but I hope to have it up in a couple of days.

One gets the feeling the Union may be in for a rude surprise

They may indeed!

Andorians are Xenophile so even an Empire wouldn't be that blood soaked and they have a weaker opening hand than the Cardassians. Still it is an interesting idea, I'll have to consider it. :)

(Of course I also have a few ideas I want to try in 'normal' Stellaris. Decisions, decisions!)

Very nice chapter. The Cardassians have been blooded, the Antedeans humbled and an intriguing new power about to enter the picture.

Well I look forward to whatever voyage you embark on, maybe a sequel to your current AAR? - Tibetans in SPAAACE!

TBF the modders seem to have done their homework and the immediate region around Cardassia is not exactly overflowing with resources. All the more reasons to expand of course!

How do you know a bad Gul from a good?
He breaths!

:D

Please tell me this new power isn't those hippy-dippy humans, shoving equality and non-interference down our throats.

(Then again, something about the placement doesn't work out. My knowledge of Trek geography is lacking, but the only empires I can think of in this region of space would be the Talarians or... the Breen. Never turn your back on them!)

Update: Reading this inspired me to play ST: New Horizons as the Husnock, an aggressive race we never saw and who were wiped out in the same episode they were "introduced"... let's just say if I find a system named Delta Rana, I'll be avoiding it like the plague.

Not the humans, not even humanoid! Breen is close, geographically speaking. However by the end of the century we'll be in contact with most of the Alpha and Beta Quadrant.

Haha excellent (and talk about a deep cut!), it really is a fun mod.

Nice, never been in into Star Trek much, but reading this AAR is still entertaining. :)

Glad to have you along. I hope to make this accessible to non-Trekkies which is a small part of a why I picked the Cardassians, though not the most famous ST race they've got a bit more depth to them, not simply Space Vikings or Space Romans. So there's room to play.

That's what they want you to think.
3p2KeJ6.gif

"You'd be amazed what people throw out..."

I mean, all that salvaged debris isn't going to study itself ;)

...But seriously, just wandered over here from the WritAAR of the Week thread and found this AAR to be quite entertaining so far. The Star Trek universe as a whole never really sparked my interest to the same degree as many others (though I did play a little Birth of the Federation back in the day and more recently completed a marathon binge of TOS, both of which I rather enjoyed), but I'm quite fond of Machiavellian schemer types, and the Cardassians suit my tastes quite nicely.

Looking forward to the next chapter! :D

Thank you for coming on board. As I said to Nikolai, I think the Cardassians are quite a good gateway into ST because they're very human - arguably more human than the Earthlings in its most Mary Sue iterations.

Well this is a niche gem, and great to see you Jape. I always liked your support to my HOI2 AAR years ago.

And now to this - a great, beautifully presented AAR which I will watch with interest. I am really, really torn on the Cardassians; their potential was never fully realised in TNG or DS9 (although both came close) and I found them, well, a bit underpowered in BOTF (Feds or Romulans for me, I'm afraid). So far so good, although the Union looks surrounded by powerfil rivals...

Its been sometime Le Jones, welcome. I get what you mean, having recently rewatched DS9 I would have liked more scope with the Cardassians pre-Dominion War - I kind of assume they are what the TOS Klingons would have become had they not become Space Vikings. Some are more powerful than others; by 2200 we'll have a better idea of what the Alpha and Beta Quadrants have to offer the brave men and women of Cardassia.
 

DensleyBlair

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Doing the rounds with the coming of the new year to see what gems I've missed since the end of the summer, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find you back on the boards Jape! Always good to see you. :)

As for Star Trek, I have absolutely no knowledge at all – but then a story about 'wide-necked fascists' sounds eminently readable all the same. And it's not like I've ever found the time to get into Stellaris either, so one more layer of unknown is hardly gunna make a difference. :D

Hope to see you around soon, and will be looking out for the next chapter here!
 

Le Jones

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Hope to see you around soon, and will be looking out for the next chapter here!

Agreed - please Jape, I'd love to see how this develops...
 

El Pip

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Agreed - please Jape, I'd love to see how this develops...
Now lets not get silly here, this is @Jape we are talking about. We've already had two whole chapters, I suspect he has long since moved onto another new project that will have an excellent and intriguing beginning before abruptly being abandoned. ;)