Not content with their exploitation of Bajorans on the planet’s surface, the Cardassian government took their tyranny to the heavens in the year 2346 with the construction of the orbiting space station known as Terok Nor.
Almost immediately following the withdrawal of Cardassian occupational forces, the newly created Bajoran provisional government asked Starfleet to establish a Federation presence in this system at Terok Nor, which was renamed Deep Space Nine. It should be noted that without a doubt the most comprehensive source for specific details concerning the layout of Terok Nor is the "Deep Space Nine Technical Manual," published by Starfleet and commonly accessible to all Academy cadets.
Completed in 2351, the station was built primarily to process ores such as uridium, a mineral strip mined from Bajor’s crust. Bajoran prisoners were forced to perform most of the processing of the valuable ore.
Although Terok Nor’s Cardassian overseers could withstand – and even enjoyed – long exposures to high levels of heat, they often either forgot or cared less that the station’s Bajoran workers did not share their bodily temperament.
A huge operation, much of the ore-processing labor took place in various two-tiered factory-like rooms dominated by a large ore reactor connected to a narrow conduit, which ran through the room’s floor and second-level wall.
The temperature would often reach 55 degrees Celsius as laborers worked to process an average of 20,000 tons of uridium ore each day.
Many of the Bajorans forced to slave over the ore did not survive it for long, but the only reaction from the Cardassians was to round up more people to take their place.
Living in the Ghetto
Through the metal fence near the gate to Terok Nor’s Bajoran sector, children would often spend their days peering outside past the Cardassian guards, wondering what things were like on the other side. These soldiers not only kept Bajorans from leaving the ghetto after curfew, but they also kept out all visitors who did not carry proper identification and authorization.
The only color within the ghetto usually came from the small campfires the occupants had to use to obtain meager warmth.
Almost all the Bajorans on Terok Nor lived in community quarters, although there were exceptions. Vaatrik, a chemist who ran a small shop in the ghetto, and his wife Pallra were fortunate enough to have been assigned a private room. Although other Bajorans probably thought it was because they ran a meaningful business, the truth was Vaatrik and Pallra were collaborators, helping the Cardassians in exchange for an elevated standard of living.
Vaatrik may also have earned supplemental income as a source for mind-altering chemicals and drugs, which were used all too often by desperate Bajoran workers seeking temporary escape from the harsh realities of daily life. Recreation drug use was frowned upon not only by many Bajorans but also by Cardassian officials, who used it as an excuse to claim that the station’s workers were no better than non-sentient animals.
From the start, Terok Nor was a place of misery and death for numerous Bajoran slaves forced to live behind the gates of its workers’ ghetto.
The shine and polish of the newly built slum did nothing to dispel the gloom and despair felt by the Bajoran workers forced to toil endlessly trying get the station built on time and the new ore processors running up to speed.
The suffering was multiplied, however, once the station was complete and Cardassian officials conscripted hundreds more Bajorans into the ore processing centers. A steady stream of new arrivals took the place of those who died from exhaustion, accidents or the malicious cruelty of the station’s overseers.
Not everybody who lived on Terok Nor was a Cardassian prisoner, but only the most desperate Bajorans ever stayed on the station by choice. Life for most Bajorans in the station’s ghetto was bad enough to make conditions on the planet seem posh.
Although the station’s Cardassian area was often lacking in all colors except for shades of gray, at least it was clean and warm, making it an almost pleasant contrast to the dreary world of the Bajoran sector.
To reach the Bajoran section, one would first have to make it past the security checkpoints and the wire-like fence separating it from the Cardassian area of the promenade. Upon entering, they would likely find the most obvious sight to be cold, hungry, ragged, hopeless Bajorans sitting in open doorways or trudging wearily past abandoned, looted kiosks to and from their back-breaking labors. No lights existed to mark the few, small open shops.
Civil rights were nonexistent for the station’s Bajorans, who were subject without recourse to curfews and random searches. For many, the main reward for a day’s work was a strip or two of gold-pressed latinum, a chance to stand in line for a simple meal at the soup kitchen and the right to remain alive for at least one more day.
Wearing drab miner’s outfits, Bajoran workers would scurry back and forth while Cardassian soldiers kept watch, making the mood dark and grim for everyone born without gray skin and neck ridges. Although Cardassians were not exactly welcome in the ghetto, few Bajorans with any sense of self preservation would ever dare – at least, not publicly – to touch a member of the occupying force at any time without being specifically ordered to do so.
Unexpected encounters and detainment by phaser-wielding Cardassian soldiers were a constant risk for all Bajorans, but especially for those living on Terok Nor. Even Bajorans who maintained all the station’s many rules could find themselves being drafted for dangerous labor, random interrogation or, if female, for duty as a "comfort" woman to Cardassian officials.
For the Bajorans fortunate enough to have financial savings, bribery of as little as a couple of strips of latinum was often an effective means of encouraging a soldier to choose someone different for a chosen task or random punishment. Station commander Gul S. G. Dukat, however, took a stern view against the practice, so any such dealings were best performed away from his watchful eyes.
Although "public" computer terminals existed throughout the station, access was extremely limited, particularly for non-Cardassians.
Possibly the one advantage to having to work on Terok Nor was it usually provided a more reliable and larger source of food rations than in refugee camps on the surface. Not only was the station’s Bajoran ghetto relatively uncrowded, at least at the start, but the Cardassians saw a value in making sure the workers had at least enough energy to keep going for another day. In contrast, many Cardassians saw no value in the Bajorans living in the refugee centers, and many families there found themselves facing slow death through starvation, malnutrition, illness or other maladies.
Bajorans were occasionally allowed to run independent shops on the station, but their quality was often unreliable. For example, Vaatrik’s drugstore was, at best, only a sparsely supplied, ramshackled excuse for a shop. With the advantage of being a collaborator, Vaatrik’s business was actually of higher quality than most other Bajoran establishments on the station.
Taking the initiative, members of the Resistance created a cell on Terok Nor even before the station was fully operational.
Halb Daier, one of the founders of the station’s Resistance efforts, cleverly made the most out of his service in the ghetto’s food lines. As each Bajoran lined up for him to serve them their portion of the day’s gruel, the gangly scarecrow of a man would take the opportunity to make small talk and size up those who might best aid the fight against the Cardassians.
Some members of the Resistance took it upon themselves to conduct verbal and physical reprimands of Bajoran drug abusers, especially those who did so openly in view of Cardassian soldiers.
Such attempts to keep fellow Bajorans from using illicit chemicals were not just performed out of disgust for their habits, but also out of self-preservation. If too many people were seen on the station’s Promenade publicly degrading themselves in such a fashion, Cardassian officials were known to conduct their own reprimands, usually through wide-scale crackdowns known as "cleansings" that unpleasantly affected all Bajorans on the station.
Despite the guarded conditions, it was usually quite easy for Bajorans to contact members of the Resistance for help, such as in getting off the station.
A person seeking the Resistance might casually enter the ghetto, move through a crowd of other Bajorans and make their way to an ordinary kiosk, where there might be a few wares for sale and a Bajoran merchant haggling with a customer. After looking over the goods on a shelf, the person might nonchalantly pick up a nondescript vase from the top shelf, examine it briefly then put it back upside down. After a few more minutes of shopping, the person could calmly walk to the nearby "soup kitchen" area, where they could buy a simple meal to eat while they waited.
Turning over a vase to contact members of the Resistance may have been a simple idea, but it was also very effective. It was used for years right under the noses of the Cardassians without anyone ever the wiser.
The reasons for needing assistance were an important consideration in whether the request would be granted, said Belar, one of the Resistance fighters once assigned to Terok Nor.
"We're not a commuter service," he said. "If you're running from a dispute over chemicals or women or smuggling, you're on your own. If you've killed one of the spoon heads, well, that's something different."
Incidentally, although Bajorans commonly referred to Cardassians as "spoon heads" behind their backs, it was very unwise to be heard using the derogatory term in their presence.
Using the Opportunity for Profit – Quark
Almost any relatively safe opportunity for gainful employment was welcomed by those living in the station’s ghetto.
The chance for a 12-hour day of menial labor at Quark’s Bar and Casino, a Ferengi-owned establishment on the station, was usually welcomed as a way out of having to work in more hazardous environments, such as the station’s ore-processing bays or ore mines on the planet’s surface.
In exchange for their services, Quark would usually reward his Bajoran employees with one strip of latinum each.
Quark’s Bajoran employees usually received only two five-minute breaks to rest during a typical day’s labors. At the end, as the bar’s owner counted the receipts and his Ferengi waiters argued over tips with the dabo girls, the Bajoran laborers would often still be cleaning up spilled food and drinks, bussing tables, washing glasses, scrubbing the counters and performing all of the undesirable janitorial work.
Such labors fitted well with the bigoted views held by many Cardassians – that servile work was natural for the Bajorans people.
A few of Quark’s workers, such as a dabo girl named Hartla, actually gained a bit of popularity with some of the more loose, less brooding Cardassian customers. Although many of the casino’s employees worked there only a short time, Hartla continued for years after the station was turned over to Bajoran control.
"What I wouldn't give to see her again," mused Glinn Boheeka, a mid-ranking Cardassian military officer, several years after the Withdrawal. "She would've bankrupted me if the Occupation had lasted much longer."
Quark, the casino’s owner, opened his business after serving for eight years as a cook on a Ferengi freighter, which kept him away from his homeworld when it was hit by a depression commonly known as "The Great Monetary collapse."
"My father … warned me never to leave home, that there were plenty of business opportunities right outside my door," Quark once said. "But no, I had to follow the 75th Rule of Acquisition: ‘Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum.’"
Quark succeeded as a competent businessman by creating a relaxing club for the Cardassians stationed on Terok Nor. He even installed holosuites on the upper levels of his bar in the year 2363, and he remained as proprietor of the business long after the station was turned over the Bajoran hands.
Quark was also known to be a black-marketeer who casually accepted bribes to provide almost any service, including providing alibis for members of both the Bajoran and Cardassian underground movements. Such services kept the Ferengi barely an arm’s reach away from arrest by station officials. Fortunately for Quark, those officials were not above accepting their own bribes. Dukat, for instance, might overlook petty infractions in exchange for a case or two of Cardassian ale.
A few Cardassians managed to wind up in debt to the Ferengi businessman. One official, who served in the Cardassian Ministry of Trade’s office on Bajor, built up a very extensive bar tab during trips to the orbiting station. Like many members of the Occupation force, however, the unnamed official "left in quite a hurry" and neglected to pay what was owed, Quark said.
Odo, the station’s constable during the last few years of the Occupation, kept a record on Quark. The file’s official assessment of the Ferengi was far from flattering: "A self-important con artist who's nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is."
Among Quark’s contacts was a smuggler named Livara, who once attempted to fence a shipment of illegal maraji crystals on the station. Quark told Odo during an investigation into Livara’s activities that he was not interested in buying the crystals because "Cardassians don't like them and the Bajorans can't afford them."
It was later learned that Livara was working undercover as a Romulan spy.
Although Quark was known to exploit his employees as much as possible, he had a hidden generosity and was not above secretly trying to aid the Bajorans living on the station.
Sometimes his generosity even led him to take risks. Quark was once caught illegally selling food to the Bajorans by a Cardassian named Natima Lang. Instead of turning him over to the authorities – which could have resulted in Quark’s execution – Lang kept the knowledge to herself.
Lang was unusual for a Cardassian, however. She was a member of the Cardassian underground, a group opposing the military’s control of the Cardassian government.
"I admired (Quark’s) courage. It was a brave thing (he was) was doing," Lang later said. "I thought (he was) a man of honor."
Lang’s admiration soon turned into a romantic attraction, which Quark reciprocated.
"We fell in love," the Ferengi businessman said. "And that month we spent together was the best time of our lives."
The joy ended, however, when Lang discovered that Quark had used her personal access codes to authorize payments for goods he never provided. Accusing her lover of betrayal, Lang said she angrily broke off the relationship and did not return until after the Cardassian retreat.
Quark blamed his actions on his Ferengi morals.
"So I took a little money from the Cardassian Communication Service. They could afford it," he said. "I saw a chance for profit and I took it. Maybe that was wrong. I don't know. But what I really regret was betraying (Lang’s) trust. That was the worst mistake of my life.
Lord of the Occupation – Gul Dukat
Prefect Dukat, who also served as commander of Terok Nor beginning in 2359, apparently preferred life aboard the orbiting station. As the Central Command’s leader of the Occupation force, Dukat maintained his headquarters on Terok Nor for at least 23 years, only vacating when he was forced by the Cardassian retreat from Bajor.
Dukat – who reportedly enjoyed red leaf tea, Bajoran spring wine and didactic theater –
once said he survived at least four assassination attempts while serving on the station. That claim, however, was made about two years before the end of the Occupation, and more attempts were possibly made at later dates or made earlier without Dukat’s knowledge.
In the year 2367, a plasma grenade was detonated as Dukat walked near the station’s Bajoran sector. The explosion only minorly wounded Dukat without causing lasting harm.
In case things got entirely out of control, Dukat kept a personal shuttle on docking bay three, although it is unknown whether it was ever put to emergency use.
Dukat repeatedly claimed he cared for the welfare of the station’s Bajoran occupants and was actively working to improve their conditions.
"I find these visits stimulating. Each time I come, I find another example of Bajorans making progress," Dukat said to a Bajoran "comfort" woman in 2367 shortly before an assassination attempt. "For example, not that long ago you'd find them burning malaba drums on this level just to keep warm. Six months ago, I extended environmental controls into the Bajoran sector. And look – no fires, no poor unfortunates shivering under blankets."
Although Dukat liked to play the role of the "benevolent ruler" walking among his subjects, he never appeared to concern himself with their lack of affection for him. It is doubtful many other people, even Cardassians, would have had such pride in the condition of so many unhappy, destitute people suffering from malnutrition and in need of medical care.
Years after the Withdrawal, Dukat said he still believed that he and his fellow Cardassians were good to the people of Bajor.
"I know it's hard for you to accept, but I think that, in some ways, the Occupation actually helped Bajor," he once was overheard telling a Bajoran Resistance fighter.
When the massacres of Bajoran people and the strip mining of the once-lush planet were brought to his attention, Dukat would refuse to let himself be drawn into an argument concerning the ethics of the situation.
"I have no wish to debate the merits of the Occupation," he responded during a post-Withdrawal conversation. "I'm even willing to admit that perhaps we were a little too harsh in our methods. But the fact is, the Bajoran people are stronger than they have been in centuries. When we arrived, you were a weak, contemplative race, choking on your isolation. And now you have a new confidence, a renewed sense of purpose, not to mention a key role in the future of this entire quadrant."
Most Bajoran historians, however, believe that Bajor achieved those heights despite the Cardassian influence, not because of it.
Whatever his reasons, Dukat was a strong opponent against Cardassian troops withdrawing from Bajor in the Terran year 2369, a move that was supported by a Cardassian named Kotan Pa’Dar.
Seven years earlier, while Pa’Dar was serving as exarch of a Cardassian settlement on Bajor, his home was destroyed, apparently by terrorists. His wife was killed in the attack, and his four-year-old son, Rugal, went missing.
It was later discovered that Dukat had sought revenge on Pa’Dar by having his young son secretly abducted. Soon after the attack, a Cardassian military officer attached to Terok Nor transported Rugal to the Tozhat Resettlement Center on Bajor and placed the boy into the care of Jomat Luson, a Bajoran official who presided over the placement of the orphans brought to the facility. To cover his actions, Dukat falsified information to make Pa’Dar believe his son had been killed by the attacking terrorists.
While at the Resettlement Center, Rugal was adopted by a Bajoran named Proka Migdal, raised in Bajoran culture, and taught to hate his Cardassian roots. Rugal refused when given the chance to return to his biological parents after the Withdrawal, but he was eventually legally forced to join them.
Following the Withdrawal, the Cardassian Central Command made Dukat the captain of a military patrol craft assigned to the Cardassian-Bajoran border area. Duty aboard a starship – even a large military craft – may have seemed a bit of a demotion to Dukat after serving as the commander of an entire planetary occupation.
"It appears my relationship with the Central Command has deteriorated somewhat," he said a couple of years after the Cardassian retreat. "I knew this was inevitable the moment we withdrew from Bajor. There are some who believe I should have killed every last Bajoran when I had the chance. Ah, well. Too late for that, I'm afraid."
The off-world assignment probably was not too uncomfortable for Dukat, however, because space was something of an old home for him; shortly before his promotion to glinn, Dukat served aboard the Cardassin vessel Kornaire. Admittedly, that assignment was relatively early in Dukat’s career – glinns were outranked in the Cardassian military by guls and often served as aides to their superior officers.
During a heated conversation in the Terran year 2375 with Emissary Benjamin Sisko, Dukat apparently let down his guard and potentially revealed what may have been a deep, longstanding contempt for the Bajoran people. It should be noted, however, that Dukat had recently suffered a complete nervous breakdown after witnessing the death of his half-Bajoran daughter Ziyal, and despite undergoing extensive psychiatric therapy by Federation doctors, the former dictator remained mentally unstable to the point of experiencing frequent, vivid hallucinations. Whether his madness affected his feelings toward Bajor and memories of the Occupation is unknown to any but the Prophets.
At the start of the conversation, Dukat claimed he actually tried to save the lives of the millions of Bajorans who died during his administration as leader of the Occupation.
"By the time I became prefect, the Occupation had been going on for almost 40 years, but the planet was still not ready for full-scale colonization," Dukat said. "Central Command wanted the situation resolved and they didn't care how it was done. I was convinced that a gentler hand was required to deal with the Bajorans.
"So in my first official act as prefect, I ordered all labor camp commanders to reduce their output quotas by 50 percent – 50 percent! Then I reorganized the camps themselves. Child labor was abolished. Medical care was improved and food rations were increased. In the first month of my administration, the death rate dropped by more than 20 percent."
But then his musings became more and more bitter.
"And how did the Bajorans react?" Dukat asked. "On my one-month anniversary they blew up an orbital drydock, killing over 200 Cardassian soldiers and workers.
"I had to order a response. But even then it was a carefully tempered one: I had 200 suspected members of the Resistance rounded up and executed – 200 lives for 200 lives. That was justice – not malevolence, justice.
"But did I give up my efforts to reach out to the Bajorans? No. I tried again. And what did I get for my trouble? An assassination attempt. On my own space station! Another round of executions followed. Again, courtesy of the Bajoran Resistance. On and on it went, year after blood-soaked year. Time and again, I would reach out with the open hand of friendship and time and again, they would slap it away.
"… They were blind, ignorant fools. They couldn't see that if they had only chosen to cooperate with us, we could've turned their world into a paradise. From the moment we arrived on Bajor, it was clear that we were the superior race. But they couldn't accept that. They wanted to be treated as equals when they most definitely were not. Militarily, technologically, culturally – we were almost a century ahead of them in every way.
"We did not choose to be the superior race, fate handed us our role. It would've been so much easier on everyone if the Bajorans had simply accepted their role. But no! Day after day they clustered in their temples and prayed for deliverance, and night after night they planted bombs outside our homes.
"Pride. That's what it was. Stubborn, unyielding pride. From the servant girl that cleaned my quarters to the condemned man toiling in a labor camp to the terrorist skulking through the hills of Dahkur Province, they each wore their pride like some twisted badge of honor."
At the end of the conversation, Dukat allowed the depth of his emotions to roar forth.
"Of course I hated them! Their superstitions and their cries for sympathy, their treachery and their lies, their smug superiority and their stiff-necked obstinacy, their stupid earrings and their broken noses – yes, I hated them, I hated everything about them! I should've killed every last one of them and turned their planet into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy had never seen! I should've killed them all."
Prepared for the Worst
Terok Nor and it's Cardassian overseers were always prepared – in the most deadly way possible – for a potential Bajoran uprising. Examining such preparations in detail provides insights into the deep paranoia displayed specifically by Dukat and more generally by all of the leaders of the Occupation force.
Dukat expected that if a revolt were to occur, it would most likely be initiated by some of the ore-processing workers who had been pushed beyond their mental and physical limits. With this in mind, certain programs in the computerized control console in the ore-processing rooms were set to scan for unauthorized tampering. If discovered, the user would have five seconds to enter the correct access code to prevent the issuance of a station-wide alert: "Failure to enter the correct code would also shut down the room’s computers then magnetically seal all exits from the room."
As the room’s occupants pondered their next action, they would be faced with a recording of Dukat stating, "Bajoran workers... your attention please. Your attempt to seize control of this facility is going to fail. You are valuable workers and we wish you no harm. However, if you do not return control of this unit to your Cardassian supervisors, we will be forced to take action. Consider your options carefully... your lives depend on it. You have eight minutes to make your decision."
During the alert, attempting to use almost any of the station’s computers required knowledge of Cardassian emergency access codes of at least security-clearance level nine – which was limited to only a few of the station’s occupants. Odo, for example, only had clearance for security-level six, although some reports indicate that Quark somehow had access as high as security-level seven.
If the resistance continued, it would be met with another message from Dukat: "Bajoran workers. Your time is running out. But it's not too late... you can still surrender and save your lives."
An offer of surrender would be answered by Dukat saying, "I'm glad to see that you've come to your senses. Stay where you are. When Cardassian security arrives, they will place you into custody – but you will not be harmed. You have my word."
Otherwise, they would hear the following deadly warning: "Bajoran workers. You have not surrendered to Cardassian security. If you do not do so in the next four minutes, I will be forced to release neurocine gas into the ore-processing facility."
As time ran out, those still in the ore-processing room would hear Dukat patronizingly tell them: "Bajoran workers. You have one minute left to give yourselves up to your Cardassian overseers and save your lives. In that brief time I want to make a final appeal to you, to reach out to you in the hope of avoiding senseless tragedy. Even if you were to escape this station – and believe me, such an event is impossible – where would you go? Back to Bajor? I can tell you that Terok Nor is a paradise compared to what would await there. The guls in charge of the Occupation are not nearly as compassionate and forgiving as I am. I see you as an integral component of the work we do on this station The uridium you process today will lead not only to greater glory for Cardassia, but to a better life on Bajor as well. Ask yourselves why you are doing this. What do you really hope to accomplish? Do you really think you can harm Cardassia by your actions? If so, then perhaps you have been deluded by a few malcontents. Believe me, they're the ones who deserve to be punished, not you. I'm sure if you think about it, you would agree."
Finally, at the end of the countdown, Dukat intended the resistant ore workers to hear one last statement as the toxic gas entered the room: "I'm sorry, but your time has run out. I was hoping you would be reasonable. Rest assured that your deaths will serve as an example to prevent similar incidents in the future."
Although the large conduits leading out of the top and bottom of the processing rooms may have at first appeared to be a potential escape route for the trapped insurgents, the Cardassians who governed the station knew otherwise. Processed uridium would usually flow down the pipes to a secondary refining facility on level 33, where it was purified. There was no need for security measures because the uridium would have been molten at the time, so hatches allowing access into the pipes were never even locked.
Several levels above the processing rooms, Bajoran workers would spend their days in small, dim filthy loading bays separating uridium ore from rock and dumping the results down the aforementioned conduits for processing and refinement. During a station-wide rebellion, these workers might have found themselves with a useful weapon.
Although processed uridium is highly unstable, it is relatively safe to work with in its raw form – unless it encounters a strong electrical charge. If the workers yanked out live electrical cable from one of the bay’s light fixtures and applied it to a pile of uridium ore, the results could be explosive enough to blast a hole through the room’s thick metal doors, which would have been immediately locked at the outbreak of any type of insurrection.
If the Bajoran rebels did somehow manage to break out of the ore-processing rooms, their departure would trigger a station-wide counterinsurgency program. While activated, the program would activate a general dampening field disrupting communications throughout Terok Nor. Simultaneously, the program would erect force fields and seal doors at numerous key points in the station, including the promenade, the station operation center and the security office. A noteworthy exception was the turbolift shafts, which would remain free of the restrictive fields even during a widespread rebellion. This oversight might have given Bajoran rebels a way to travel between the station’s various areas – assuming that they weren’t crushed in transit by any of the operating turbolifts.
Ironically, while the measures were meant to keep rioting Bajorans out of the station’s control areas, the barriers were also intended to seal Odo within his office. The reason was a concern that he might decide to aid the Bajoran revolt.
"This forcefield isn't just protecting the door. It goes through the bulkheads, the deck, the ceiling – there's nowhere for me to go," Odo once commented. "It's not to keep people out, it's to keep me in. I suppose during the occupation the Cardassians considered their security chief a security risk."
The barriers on the promenade served an even more ominous purpose. By trapping most Bajorans in their living quarters, Dukat knew he could effectively use them as hostages to force the rebels to cooperate. To make such intentions perfectly clear, Dukat intended the following message to be broadcast throughout the station during the emergency: "Attention Bajoran workers – I will not allow this rebellion to succeed. If you do not surrender immediately, I will kill every Bajoran on this station."
Any attempt at circumventing the security procedures, such as bypassing computer console controls, risked causing the station’s computer to advance to counterinsurgency program level two. If activated, the program would energize force fields around sensitive computer equipment throughout the station, potentially causing grave burns to anyone who happened to be working on such circuitry at the time.
The initiation of the level-two program would also begin another deadly countdown, as indicated on Dukat’s associated message: "Attention Bajoran Workers! Your failure to surrender is forcing me to take stronger measures. In five minutes, we will begin pumping neurocine gas into the habitat ring. Think of your families as you consider your course of action. All Cardassian personnel should evacuate the area immediately."
During such a crisis, most Cardassians would still retain common access to the station. Cardassians who regularly served on Terok Nor, including such non-combatants as Garak the tailor, were given specific access codes that allowed them to travel through the force fields at leisure. After they passed, the fields would immediately snap back into place behind them.
An effective way of stopping the discharge of the neurocine gas would have been to destroy the station’s life support system, which could have been easily accomplished with a well-placed phaser blast on the correct operation-center control console. Unfortunately, everyone on the station would suffocate about 12 hours later when the oxygen ran out.
Interruption of counterinsurgency program two, through destruction of the life-support system or any other means, would prompt the station computer to advance to the even more drastic program level three. Dukat’s attitude toward such an occurrence was indicated through his associated message, also set to be broadcast throughout Terok Nor: "My fellow Cardassians... I regret to inform you that Bajoran workers have gained control of this station. In all likelihood, I am dead or otherwise incapacitated. But rest assured, this station will not be allowed to remain in Bajoran hands. However it is my duty to inform you that if you do not regain control within two hours, the station will be destroyed."
Immediately afterward, the computer would activate Terok Nor’s self-destruct sequence, with Dukat being the only person who could cancel it. Once the countdown was complete, the computer was set to order the main fusion reactor to disengage the reaction stabilizers, causing it to overload and destroy the station.
If a computer hacker attempted to rewrite their own code to match Dukat’s, the station computer would immediately conduct a DNA scan to see whether the programmer actually was the station commander. A risky approach would be to attempt to switch the sensor input from primary to backup scanners, which could blind the computer system for a few seconds, potentially giving an extremely skilled hacker to time to make the code changes. With that in mind, however, Dukat left a large number of interrogative subroutines imbedded in his access code, causing the computer to continually attempt to verify the programmer’s true identity.
One mistake could be very fatal for everybody in the room. If the computer realized that someone was making unauthorized use of Dukat’s command code, it would immediately advance to counterinsurgency program level four – causing an automatic, multi-lens phaser beacon to materialize in the command center’s replicator. Set to vaporize any non-Cardassian humanoids within range, the beacon would systematically attempt to clear the room of anyone who even potentially might be aligned with the Bajoran rebels.
Simultaneously, the station’s communications arrays would begin sending out a distress signal containing a recorded message from Dukat stating that the Bajoran workers were rioting on Terok Nor.
Ironically, Dukat actually had a legitimate reason to be paranoid – not just of Bajorans, but also of his own supervisors.
Legate Kell, whose jurisdiction included Terok Nor when the station was first built, decided to leave nothing to chance – including the possibility that Dukat might decide to abandon the station during a crisis. If station sensors detected Dukat attempting to transport off of the station while the counterinsurgency program was activated at level three or higher, the following message from Kell would play over the station’s speakers: "Dukat... if you're seeing this recording, it means you tried to abandon your post while the station's self-destruct sequence was engaged. That will not be permitted. You have lost control of Terok Nor, disgracing yourself and Cardassia. Your attempt to escape is no doubt a final act of cowardice. All fail-safes have been eliminated. Your personal access codes have been rescinded. The destruct sequence can no longer be halted. All you can do now is contemplate the depth of your disgrace – and try to die like a Cardassian."
Were that to occur, all authorization codes would have been invalidated, and not even Dukat’s level-nine clearance access code (which was later found to be "Dukat-5-1-1-6-green") would have been of any use.
Even then, all hope would not have been lost if the rebels were clever enough. With or without the access codes, it would have been possible to manually avert the self destruction of the station by disengaging the laser fusion inititator. To accomplish that, someone would need to be inside the reactor room or have access to one of the control junctions on the station’s level 34.
Although force fields would have been in place to prohibit anyone from reaching either of those areas, the fields could have been shorted out through a power surge caused by an overload to the station’s power-supply grid. All the force fields would have been deactivated except for one – the field surrounding Odo’s security office, which was powered by a separate system.
The desired power surge would have also had the benefit of eliminating the dampening field prohibiting communication, along with all power to transporters and turbolifts. Creating the overload, however, would have required getting past the lethal forcefields surrounding the neutralization emitters located under the control center floor – a difficult procedure, but possible nonetheless.
No Simple Tailor – Garak
One of the more unusual non-Bajorans living on Terok Nor was a Cardassian tailor named Elim Garak. Throughout the last few years of the Occupation, passersby could often find him in his small shop on the promenade, diligently focused on repairing an item of clothing or creating an item of the latest fashion. Eventually, Garak developed quite a reputation as a quality craftsman at his trade.
The humble Cardassian, however, was not as simple as he seemed. Information revealed after the Occupation showed that Garak was actually a former high-ranking member of the Obsidian Order, the feared information and espionage branch of the Cardassian government. Details remain sketchy, but apparently Garak was exiled to Terok Nor to serve as a clothing repairman after being accused of some heinous crime. Although it later became known that Garak was capable of murder without remorse, it is suspected by many historians that his crime was of a political nature.
Garak’s duties for the Obsidian Order were important enough that they implanted a highly classified wire-like device within his brain as a way of helping him resist interrogation by enemy agents.
"You see, on Cardassia, I was entrusted with certain information – information that needed to be kept safe regardless of the situation," he told a Starfleet officer a couple of years after the Cardassian retreat. "My implant was given to me by Enabran Tain, the head of the Obsidian Order. If I was ever tortured, it was designed to stimulate the pleasure centers of my brain to trigger the production of vast amounts of natural endorphins."
Whatever Garak did to earn his exile, it also earned him the sincere hatred of several very powerful Cardassians, including both Dukat and Tain.
"He doesn't deserve a quick death," Tain once said about Garak and his exile. "On the contrary, I want him to live a long, miserable life. I want him to grow old on that station, surrounded by people who hate him, knowing he can never come home again."
When asked after the Withdrawal about his background, Garak was one to never tell the truth when an elaborate lie would suffice, and he would sometimes even refer to himself in the third person. As a result, researchers today remain uncertain about Garak’s history.
Garak once said that, before his exile from Cardassia, he had worked as a gardener on Romulus. During his time there, several Romulan dignitaries, including Subcommander Ustard, died unexpectedly, and Proconsul Merrok was assassinated.
"Such a tragedy. I met him once, a few weeks before he died," Garak told Odo and a Federation officer several years after the Withdrawal. "I was working as a gardener at the Cardassian embassy. My specialty was Edosian orchids. Beautiful yet highly toxic."
Garak said he did not recall that Merrok had been poisoned.
"But then again, so many Romulan dignitaries died unexpectedly that year," Garak noted in response. When asked about the reasons for his exile, Garak was even more elusive in presenting a consistent answer.
"During the Occupation, I was a gul in the Cardassian Mechanized Infantry," Garak once claimed. "We were stationed just outside the Bajoran Capital. Shortly before the Withdrawal, a handful of Bajoran prisoners escaped from my custody. My aide, a man named Elim, tracked them to a Cardassian shuttle about to depart for Terok Nor. Elim got aboard, but the captain refused to let him search the ship, claiming he was under strict orders from Gul Dukat to depart immediately. So I had the shuttle destroyed. Killing the escapees, Elim and 97 Cardassian civilians. I followed my orders. None of those prisoners got off of Bajor alive. Unfortunately, it turned out one of the passengers on the shuttle was the daughter of a prominent military official. I was stripped of my rank and commission and exiled from Cardassia."
He later presented a different version of the story.
"There was a time when I was a power," he claimed. "The protege of Enabran Tain himself. Tain was the Obsidian Order. Not even the Central Command itself dared challenge him. And I was his right hand. My future was limitless. Until I threw it away. It was the eve of the Cardassian Withdrawal. Elim and I were interrogating five Bajorans. Not one of them was older than fourteen. They were children. They knew nothing. They lived in bombed-out rooms and scrounged for food on the streets. They were filthy and they stank. The room was freezing cold, the air was like ice, and suddenly the whole exercise seemed utterly meaningless. All I wanted was a hot bath and a good meal. So I let them go. I gave them whatever latinum I had in my pockets, opened the door, and flung them back into the street. Elim couldn't believe his eyes. He thought I'd gone insane. I was a fool. I should've finished the interrogation and turned them over to the troops for execution. But because I was chilly and my stomach was growling, I failed in my duty and destroyed everything I had worked for. Elim was executed, and I was (exiled), left to live out my days with nothing to look forward to."
Without a doubt, Garak hated being in exile, restricted to living away from Cardassia, constantly surrounded by aliens who looked at him with bitterness and hatred. He said so several times. He also made it repeatedly clear that he missed the power – and the powerful connections – he once held in Cardassian society.
Many historians believe that Garak’s banishment was prompted by Dukat, who publicly showed a longstanding hatred for the fellow Cardassian. Dukat often directly blamed the execution of his father – who had been arrested, tried and convicted by the Cardassian courts – on the actions of the mysterious tailor.
A heated conversation between Garak and Dukat overheard on the station several years after the Withdrawal seemed to support the latter theory.
"You've always been shortsighted," Garak said to Dukat. "It's held you back over the years. As I recall, your father had the same flaw."
"My father's only flaw was in trusting you," Dukat responded coldly.
"Funny – at his trial, your father said his biggest flaw was that his ambition outweighed his patriotism," Garak said back.
A few minutes later, Dukat was heard telling Garak, "I should've had you executed years ago."
To which the tailor said, "You tried, remember?"
Throughout his years of service on Terok Nor, Garak is believed to have kept mostly to himself and only infrequently interacted with Bajorans. Few Bajorans ever had reason to enter his shop because almost none could afford the price of the tailor’s services or wares.
Encounter From the Future
Through a strange twist of fate, the Resistance cell on Terok Nor once gained the assistance of former Shakaar-cell member Kira Nerys, who had been sent by the Prophets 28 years back in time.
In the Terran year 2374, Nerys had asked the Prophets to allow her to validate claims by Dukat that her mother, Kira Meru, had willingly collaborated in comfort as his lover for seven years.
After being sent back in time and learning that the claims were true, Nerys offered her services to Halb by attempting to plant a bomb in Dukat’s quarters, potentially killing both him and her mother.
To smuggle the bomb past Cardassian guards, Resistance members crafted ultritium resin – a substance rarely detected by a standard sensor sweep – into the shape of a nondescript Bajoran earring. The bomb, set to explode three minutes after it was activated, had a twenty-meter blast radius, so Nerys needed to place it in Dukat’s quarters for maximum effectiveness.
A few weeks earlier, Nerys had also been conscripted to serve as a comfort woman, which gave her the chance to earn her mother’s trust – until an argument with Meru about her situation caused her daughter to abandon her in disgust. By pretending she wanted to apologize, Nerys used this trust to convince guards to escort her back into Dukat’s quarters, which now also served as her mother’s home.
Nerys successfully activated the bomb, placed it in a planter within a few meters of both Dukat and his mistress and was making her way out the door – when she saw something that made her hastily decide to abandon her mission. Only seconds earlier, Dukat had given Meru an isolinear rod containing a fateful message from her husband Kira Taban. Aware that the bomb was about to go off but unable to tear herself away from her father's image, Nerys watched spellbound as Taban’s message played on the room’s monitor – interrupted only by the sound of her mother’s anguished weeping.
"I know it's only been a few weeks that we've been back home, but you should see the children," he said. "It's like they've been transformed. Reon and Pohl are laughing and playing together – they've never been happier. And I swear, little Nerys must've gained five pounds. Of course they keep asking for you. I've told them you're still at the refugee center. I think that's best, at least for the time being. I can't believe how much I miss you. I think about you all the time. You've saved all our lives. I hope you realize that. Never forget it – not even for an instant. Every day I pray to the Prophets that you'll find some peace in this new life of yours. I believe that even in the worst of times, we can still find moments of joy and kindness. If you can find that kindness, hold on to it. And remember, no matter what happens, I love you, Meru. I'll always love you."
Nerys said later that all she could think about at the time were her father's words and the unconditional love he expressed. A love without judgement, without fear, and without anger. And if her father can feel that way toward her mother, then she felt that she should. And with that thought, Nerys said she felt the molten rock of bitterness and resentment inside her melt away.
Her change in outlook prompted Nerys to save her mother by frantically warning her and Dukat about the bomb, barely giving them all enough time to rush into the corridor out of harm’s way.
By the time the dust had settled, Nerys had been transported by the Prophets back to her original timeline.
Despite her new-found hatred for her mother, Kira explained that she just could not resist saving her at the last second.
"Believe me, there's a part of me that wishes I hadn't," she said. "But the fact is, no matter what she had done, she was still my mother."
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