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"Everyone has reason to fear the Order."
"I assure you, when it comes to the Obsidian Order, nothing is impossible."

The Obsidian Order was the primary intelligence agency of the Cardassian Union. One of the most ruthless and efficient organizations in the quadrant, the Obsidian Order eclipsed even the Romulan Tal Shiar in intelligence gathering and covert operations. Almost all Cardassians lived in fear of the Obsidian Order, whose constant surveillance had led to the sudden eliminations of numerous "traitors". It was said that the Order was so efficient that a Cardassian citizen could not sit down to a meal without each dish being duly noted and recorded by the Order, down to its preparation and the exact measurement of each ingredient. Dr. Bashir wondered what happened to people who ate something that was "not in agreement" with the Order, and Odo noted that people had "disappeared" for less. The fear of the Order was not an idle threat; Bashir was shocked to find out the Obsidian Order knew what type of tea he drank. (DS9: "The Wire", "Inquisition")


The Obsidian Order was formed in the 19th century, under the theoretical authority of the civilian Detapa Council. However, in practice both the Council and the Central Command had no control of the Obsidian Order. The Obsidian Order was responsible for matters of security and espionage, and was therefore forbidden from interfering in military operations. The Obsidian Order and the Central Command frequently came in conflict with each other, particularly since members of the Cardassian military were not immune to Obsidian Order inquiries. The only restriction that the Order had was that it was explicitly forbidden to possess military equipment of any kind. (DS9: "Defiant")

The organization of the Obsidian Order was separated into semi-autonomous cells, which were insulated from each other so that the capture of any particular operative had a limited ability to compromise the organization. (DS9: "When It Rains...") Certain agents of the Order were also equipped with cranial implants so that they could better resist torture. (DS9: "The Wire") They also developed a substance called promazine, which its operatives used in case of capture. (DS9: "Covenant") The Order placed surveillance devices in the homes of all Cardassians. However, the devices in the homes of members of the Central Command could be turned off at their occupants' request. (DS9: "Second Skin")

In 2371, the Obsidian Order was responsible for the abduction and surgical alteration of Kira Nerys in an operation to expose Legate Tekeny Ghemor as a sympathizer to the Cardassian dissident movement. (DS9: "Second Skin") The Order also sabotaged the USS Defiant's attempt to vaporize a silithium-laden comet headed for the Bajoran wormhole, hoping to undermine the peace treaty between Cardassia and Bajor. (DS9: "Destiny")

Also that year, the Obsidian Order was engaged in a major operation to mount a joint attack with the Tal Shiar on the Founders' homeworld. Masterminded by former Order head Enabran Tain, and in blatant violation of the non-military restriction, the Order had assembled a fleet of warships in the Orias system, consisting of an advanced version of the standard Galor-class starship, the Keldon-class, without the knowledge of the Central Command. (DS9: "Defiant", "Improbable Cause") The attack, however failed due to a Changeling infiltrator, and the entire fleet was destroyed in an ambush by the Jem'Hadar. This failure destroyed the capabilities of the Obsidian Order, effectively causing it to cease to exist. (DS9: "The Die is Cast")

See: Battle of the Omarion Nebula

With the looming threat of the Dominion, and without the Order's tight control over popular dissent, a civilian uprising overthrew the Central Command in 2372, reinstating the authority of the civilian Detapa Council. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") After the Cardassian Union joined the Dominion, the Obsidian Order's role was assumed by Dominion security in the form of the Cardassian Intelligence Bureau, who by all accounts was just as efficient as the Order. (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals", "In the Pale Moonlight")



Background information[]

The organization known as the Obsidian Order was originally to have been called "the Gray Order", though Robert Hewitt Wolfe changed it after noticing that the governing body of a specific alien species in Babylon 5 was named the Gray Council. He later remembered, "I thought, 'Damn!,' and then I made up a huge list of different kinds of metals, gems, and colors, and finally came up with obsidian, which I actually like better than grey!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 142)

Regarding the portrayal of the Obsidian Order in "Defiant", Ronald D. Moore remarked, "It was relatively late in the creative process that we came up with the mysterious buildup of the Obsidian Order." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 87)


The novel A Stitch in Time provides extensive detail about Garak's recruitment into the Obsidian Order and several of his missions. As a further example of the friction that existed between the Order and the Central Command, it is revealed that Garak was exiled to Deep Space 9 after he was caught having an affair with the wife of a prominent military officer.

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