Her given name derives from a Cardăsda root that means "future"--possibly Dukat's way of signifying the sort of future he imagined for Bajor: one with his face permanently stamped upon it.
- The literal meaning of "Ziyal" is revealed in the Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius story "Exits in the Haze," where an alternate Dukat chose it for religious reasons, because her birth literally gave him a future at a time when he was about to kill himself. The canon Dukat's intention with the name has not been revealed in a canon story yet, but can be assumed from the information revealed by the other Dukat.
Born in 2353 during the Occupation of Bajor, Ziyal was kept out of view by her father Dukat. As withdrawal became imminent, though, Dukat sent her and Naprem away on the Ravinok, a freighter bound for Lissepia. The Ravinok never reached its destination; instead, it was shot down over Dozaria by the Breen. The fate of the Ravinok was discovered in 2372, and Dukat traveled, along with the Bajoran Major Kira Nerys to the crash site. Though Dukat had intended to kill her, as many Cardassians did with illegitimate children, at the last moment--with Kira's insistence--he found he could not bring himself to carry out the act, and he brought Ziyal home with him to Cardassia Prime. (DS9: "Indiscretion")
As a result, Dukat fell from grace and his wife left him and took the other children with her. Ziyal lived aboard the freighter Groumall with her demoted father until the outbreak of the Klingon-Cardassian War, where Dukat led a one-man crusade against the Klingons. From then on, she lived with Kira aboard Deep Space Nine. During her time aboard DS9, she found herself attracted to Elim Garak, although Garak, for his part, never knew quite what to make of her fascination. (DS9: "Return to Grace")
Ziyal also discovered a talent for art, and had hoped to use her gift to combine Cardassian and Bajoran artistic styles and show where the two species could find a common viewpoint. She entered a Bajoran university, which unfortunately did not go well due to the same sort of speciesist discrimination she had encountered on Cardassia Prime. At the same time, the Cardassian Institute of Art expressed an interest in her work.
When the Dominion-Cardassian alliance, under Dukat's command, took over Deep Space Nine, Ziyal again lived with her father--but when her father's support of the Dominion, and opposition of her other friends conflicted with her love for him, she threw in with the resistance cell organizing aboard the station. Damar found out about her role as the Cardssians and Dominion were being driven off the station--and shot her in her father's presence, just as she confessed to him and he had told her that he loved her nonetheless. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")
This event led to Gul Dukat's insanity and indirectly, to his demise with the Pah-wraiths.
In the Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius universe, Ziyal's alternate is known as Ziyal Dukat, as she was conceived under entirely reversed circumstances to her birth in the canon universe--instead, Vedek Tora Naprem was the aggressor and Skrain Dukat the unwilling party in the act. That said, Dukat did not allow the circumstances to diminish his love for her, and they were just as devoted to each other--in fact, even more so--than they were in the canon universe. (Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius)