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Patriot--dissident--traitor--hero...and father: all of these have been used to describe Cardassian Legate Tekeny Ghemor (Ilojan transliteration: Tekeniy Ghemor), a man whose legacy lives long beyond his years.
Post-Dominion War ambassador and freelancer for the Cardăsa Star-Sentinel Natima Lang described this influence as "a...sparkling thread [that] runs through many of those in whom I believe Cardassia’s greatest hope lies." (DS9: "Second Skin", DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water", Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"A Weaver of Lives")
Seeds of discontent: BajorEdit
Ghemor began his service in the Cardassian Guard in a manner very much at odds with his later stances: as a nineteen-year-old soldier volunteering to serve in the Occupation of Bajor. Ghemor saw action at the Kiessa Monastery, an attack in which seventeen Bajoran monks died due to Cardassian suspicions that their monastery was hiding weapons for the Resistance. (DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
During his time in the infantry, Ghemor got a close look at the rampant debauchery among Cardassian soldiers on Bajor. Senior officers paraded their Bajoran "comfort women" for all to see--including his own platoon commander. Ghemor, however, was already engaged to his future wife, Raveda, and although he had not yet sworn the marriage oath, refused to follow suit. For this he suffered the ridicule of the other men in his unit, but earned the admiration of his brother and his nephew Alon. ("A Weaver of Lives," DS9 novel A Stitch in Time)
Alon Ghemor would later state his belief that his uncle's time on Bajor went a long way towards shaping his later views of Cardassian society; Ghemor himself would express his deep regret for his service on Bajor and went so far as to condemn his own people's actions as monstrous. ("A Weaver of Lives," DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
Family and tragedyEdit
Ghemor swore the wedding oath with Raveda, and fathered one daughter, Iliana, whom he treasured dearly. Iliana showed great artistic promise and the Ghemors encouraged her to make a career of it. Instead, Iliana would eventually choose the Obsidian Order and go on a deep-cover mission on Bajor, much to her parents' grief. Iliana was never heard from again. (DS9: "Second Skin")
Raveda Ghemor took ill following Iliana's departure and died without forgiving her husband for allowing the mission to go forward. Though Ghemor maintained his warmth towards those around him, as his nephew Alon came to know him as an adult, the anguish of his losses was readily apparent. ("A Weaver of Lives," DS9: "Second Skin")
Rise and fall of a dissidentEdit
As Ghemor ascended through the ranks of the Cardassian Guard, his discontent with the iron rule of Central Command festered to a point where he began active participation in the Cardassian dissident movement. Though he was admired by the dissidents as a hero for his willingness to act against Central Command despite having every privilege Cardassian society could offer, Ghemor believed it was instead the rank-and-file rebels who were the heroes, for in his mind, it was they who took the greatest risks. (DS9: "Second Skin")
Though the Obsidian Order suspected Ghemor's involvement, they were unable to prove it thanks to the unusual privileges of privacy accorded to people of his rank--that is, until Obsidian Order operative Corbin Entek, the teacher of Iliana Ghemor, concocted a scheme to take advantage of Ghemor's deep love for his missing daughter to compel him to expose himself as a dissident. In 2371 Entek arranged for the kidnapping of Bajoran major Kira Nerys of Deep Space Nine, altering her to the likeness of Iliana.
Upon seeing the woman Entek claimed to be his daughter, Ghemor was overjoyed. It did not matter to him that her memories had not returned, nor did warnings about the potential difficulties from his nephew Alon; his daughter was home and that was all that mattered. "Iliana's" memory never returned, however. Kira continued to insist on her Bajoran identity and as time went on, Ghemor--still believing her to be his daughter--decided that the only way to save her was to get her off of Cardassia, even though it surely meant losing her once again. When Ghemor put his plan into action, the Obsidian Order sprang its trap and if not for the timely arrival of Deep Space Nine personnel to rescue their XO, he surely would have died. As it was, Ghemor's exposure was publicly broadcast by the Obsidian Order as a reminder to the Cardassian people of just how far their reach extended and Alon Ghemor was forced into hiding. Even in this predicament, he boldly predicted that regardless of his capture, the Cardassian dissident movement would live on. (DS9: "Second Skin", "A Weaver of Lives")
Tekeny Ghemor successfully escaped into Federation space where Deep Space Nine chief medical officer Julian Bashir determined the alterations to Major Kira to be strictly cosmetic in nature. Ghemor insisted upon being present when Kira regained consciousness after her reconstructive surgery. Bashir nearly had him thrown out of the infirmary, but relented as he saw the truth in Legate Ghemor's insistence that someone be present upon her waking "who loves her."
Initially fearful that his presence indicated Bashir had been wrong to rule her a true Bajoran, Kira was terrified. Ghemor confessed that Bashir's tests had been correct--but his love for her had not died with the revelation that she was daughter to another. From that point forward, the Cardassian legate became something of a godfather to the Bajoran major. Tekeny, as he entreated her to call him, and Nerys, as she became to him, would correspond regularly following his departure from Deep Space Nine. He left her that day insisting she keep a bracelet belonging to Iliana's mother Raveda--a gift he had intended to give to Iliana someday, but wanted Kira to have, as she was the closest thing he had to immediate family. (DS9: "Second Skin", "A Weaver of Lives")
The Mathenite government extended political asylum to the former legate, and Ghemor took up residence among the planet's quadrupedal people, choosing the town of Auma-Don-The’ on Mathen as his new home. Some Mathenites were initially concerned about how the Cardassian among them would take the transition to a society so different from his own, but Ghemor took it in stride. In this new provincial lifestyle, he took the time to keep up with his neighbors and earned their friendship for his respect of their customs and willingness to contribute his physical strength--which as a Cardassian exceeded that of any Mathenite--to help around the neighborhood whenever needed. ("A Weaver of Lives," DS9: "Second Skin")
This reputation of strength made it all the more unsettling to Ghemor's neighbors when the senior Cardassian began coming home from his daily walks out of breath. He politely brushed off their concerns for the first few months until a group of worried neighbors gathered at his house determined to convince him to see a doctor. Ghemor continued his denials that anything was wrong--but the tension in the room that day triggered an episode of pain that he could no longer hide. At that, Ghemor relented; neighbor Aurof-Mok-Jeju suggested that until he and his friends forced the issue out into the open, the former legate in his grief for his many other losses simply "didn't want to know" what was wrong with him.
From that point forward he saw numerous doctors and specialists until the diagnosis could be confirmed: Yarim Fel syndrome, a terminal, incurable autoimmune disease. For some time after his diagnosis, Ghemor tried his best to continue participating in the life of his new town when he had the strength, but finally reached a point where he knew he had the strength for only one more journey: to Deep Space Nine to see his "daughter," Kira Nerys. ("A Weaver of Lives," DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
In 2373, Tekeny Ghemor arrived on Deep Space Nine to a joyous, red-carpet welcome by Kira. Colonel Kira was not only thrilled to see her "godfather" once again, but hopeful that he might accept her proposal to lead a Cardassian government-in-exile to oppose the rule of the Dominion, which had by then taken over Cardassia. It was with heavy heart that he had to inform her that he could not accept her offer: he was dying, and there was only one avenue left for him to help her--the shri-tal ritual (Ilojan transliteration: çriytal) in which a dying Cardassian passed his secrets on to his relatives for use against his enemies. As his "next-of-kin," Kira was the one entitled to hear his secrets.
Kira solemnly accepted this duty, and more--she took on responsibility as his primary caregiver. Not long after his arrival, Ghemor's condition deteriorated to the point of being bedridden. The Bajoran colonel began a 26-7 vigil, all of her time spent interviewing, attending to his needs, even sleeping at his bedside.
Though she did her best to hide it, the vigil took its toll on her and brought back the agonizing memory of her biological father's death, which at the time she had been unable to face. A visit by self-appointed Cardassian leader Skrain Dukat provided her the "excuse" she needed to disconnect herself from the situation that had become so overwhelming. Dukat recognized the danger in allowing Ghemor to continue revealing his secrets--many of which were quite unflattering if not outright dangerous to him--and was willing to stoop to any act that might separate Ghemor and Kira. After an attempt to poison Ghemor failed, Dukat dropped a bombshell on Kira: the nineteen-year-old infantryman's participation in the assault on Kiessa Monastery.
Kira lashed out furiously at Ghemor, confronting him about his past. Nothing he could say to apologize made any difference--no admission of the monstrosity of his people's actions, no personal regret of his own decision to join the military or go to Bajor: his past had returned to damn him in her eyes and she told him so. Devastated, Ghemor was faced with the grim prospect of dying alone. His condition deteriorated rapidly and his pleas for her to return went unanswered.
Finally Bashir and Odo managed to convince Kira that her vengeful grudge was hurting her and Tekeny both--and that no man, no matter what his past, deserved to die alone. This struck to the core of Kira's soul: she had abandoned her biological father in his time of need, and this time, she had to make it right. Kira Nerys returned to her "godfather's" side just in time to guide him on his final journey, it was her name he whispered along with the names of Raveda and Iliana Ghemor as he died.
Before Dukat could act, Kira took Ghemor to Bajor and laid him to rest at her biological father's side. Now, able to face her grief for the death of both men, the truth was clear: she loved him, and always would. (DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
Character and legacyEdit
Tekeny Ghemor left behind a great legacy within the Cardassian Union and beyond. Despite Dukat's attempts to posthumously smear his reputation and claim that he had given his allegiance to the Dominion on his dying breath, anyone who had really known Legate Ghemor knew there was no way this could be true. This included Gul Akellen Macet, who had known Ghemor more closely than the Obsidian Order ever could prove, enough so that his career suffered upon the legate's exposure as a dissident. Macet stated in a postwar interview with Natima Lang that for the sake of someone like Ghemor, he had no problem accepting whatever sanctions Central Command saw fit to dish out. The greatest irony--though he never said it to Lang--was that by leaving him in his position on the Trager, ineligible for promotion, the Obsidian Order had in fact left Macet in his greatest stronghold. ("A Weaver of Lives", The Thirteenth Order)
Perhaps it was the sheer disbelief of so many Cardassians that led the Cardăsa Star-Sentinel to choose Dukat's libelous statement as the subject of the first retraction issued in their 450-year press run. On that same day, in a small ceremony, Legate Ghemor's rank and honors were posthumously restored. ("A Weaver of Lives")
Legate Ghemor would also be a memorable presence in his nephew Alon's life. As a child, Alon treasured his Uncle Tekeny's ability to take him seriously and hold a conversation without talking down to him. One of the most notable incidents from this time, which he later recounted to Lang, was when his pet vompăt (wompat) died while his uncle was visiting. Instead of lecturing him on the necessity of accepting death and growing stronger from it, he helped Alon carry out a mini-memorial and interment for his pet, even appearing for the backyard service in full armor. ("A Weaver of Lives")
Ghemor was remembered not only for his great acts as a member of the Cardassian dissident movement, but also for the small, everyday kindnesses done for family, friends, and co-workers. Bresul Yejain, a glinn who served a three-year tour with him at Central Command recalled Ghemor rearranging his schedule to attend a memorial service when the child of a subordinate died, and how the legate even took the trouble of providing a mug of fish juice to his staffers every morning. When Glinn Yejain's tour ended, Ghemor personally arranged an assignment he knew his aide would find quite rewarding: to serve as first officer aboard the Sherouk, whose talented young gul had taken a phaser shot that left him with permanent neurological damage. Yejain would take on an expanded set of duties compared to the normal XO role, allowing Gul Berat to continue his service despite Central Command's initial effort to discharge him. ("A Weaver of Lives," The Thirteenth Order)