The Obsidian Order is without a doubt the most feared organization in the Cardassian Union, quite possibly the most feared espionage organization in the entire Alpha Quadrant. Its agents are masters of espionage, assassination, sabotage, and interrogation techniques, ruthless, cunning, and extremely loyal to their organization and the Cardassian Union (in that order). Although nominally controlled by the Detapa Council and Central Common, the Obsidian Order is an organization that makes its own rules, and keeps its own secrets.
The current Order is a far cry from the fearsome, omnipresent organization that once monitored and influenced every aspect of Cardassian life. The disastrous attack on the Founders in the Omarion Nebula, along with the toll of the Dominion War, left the Obsidian Order a shadow of its former self. However, the Order is nothing if not skilled in survival, and it is a virtual certainty the current leaders of the Order will do their best to regain all they have lost, and more.
- 1 Joining the Order
- 2 Recruitment
- 3 Training
- 4 The Stucture of the Order
- 5 Resources
Joining the Order
As the Cardassian saying goes, "do not look for the Order, it looks for you." The Obsidian Order has always chosen its own recruits. After all, as the people who keep watch over millions of Cardassian citizens every day, the Obsidian Order knows better than anyone the capabilities of any particular Cardassian.
The Obsidian Order keeps a close watch on potential recruits among the population of the Cardassian Union. The prime qualities the Order looks for are ruthlessness, resourcefulness, and loyalty. Agents of the Order must be able to carry out their duties without squeamishness or moral qualms. The Order drills such ruthlessness into their agents, but recruits must have a certain amount of it to be able to survive.
Obsidian Order agents must be creative and cunning, they deal with some of the most dangerous opponents in the galaxy. For this reason, the Order rarely finds suitable candidates among the ranks of the Central Command. Military officers are often ruthless and loyal enough, but the military does not encourage the initiative or creative thinking that makes for a good intelligence operative. The military also tends to encourage too much loyalty to the ideal of Cardassia rather than loyalty to the Order itself.
Loyalty is, perhaps, one of the most important qualities of an Obsidian Order agent. The Order is virtually above the law in Cardassian space, wielding great power. It demands complete loyalty from its agents in return. Agents suspected of wrongdoing or, worse yet, collaboration with an enemy power, are targeted for assassination. Most often, the Order exiles rogue agents, placing them outside the Order's protection and putting a price on their head. The Order doesn't even need to hire assassins to deal with most rogues; agents earn more than their share of enemies who are willing to kill them for free. Still, the Obsidian Order rarely takes chances. Most rogue agents don't live for very long.
When the Order finds someone who they believe has the qualities to make a good agent, they approach him or her covertly, testing the potential candidate for suitability. Often these tests involve things to determine if the candidate has conflicting loyalties, or can be easily bribed or blackmailed. If this is the case, the candidate may not be suitable as an agent.
If the candidate passes these tests, the Order approaches him or her and offers training and an opportunity to join. This offer is rarely refused, since the power of the Obsidian Order is well known throughout the Cardassian Union. Declining an offer to work for them may be taken as a sign of disloyalty, and rumors abound of potential candidate who chose to refuse the Order, only to suffer a fatal "accident" or other misfortune shortly thereafter. It has never been proven the Order assassinates those who refuse to work for it, but it is a common belief.
Those who accept the offer to join the Order rarely show any outward sign of it. Most appear to go on with their lives normally, perhaps taking an extended "vacation" or "sabbatical" from time to time, but otherwise blending in perfectly with the people around them. A few recruits simply disappear, faking their own deaths or vanishing without a trace, leaving their old lives behind to devote themselves entirely to their new life in the Obsidian Order.
All new recruits attend the Obsidian Order's special training facility, the so-called "Midnight Academy." Even most members of the Order don't know where the Academy is located. It is very clearly not on Cardassia Prime. It's probably inside Cardassian space, but it's difficult to be sure. It is located on a Class M planet with very little native life. The surface of the planet is dry and barren, with little rainfall. Primitive animal lifeforms – some of them quite hostile – inhabit the vast deserts, but there appears to be no sentient life. The harsh terrain serves as both security and a resource for training exercises.
The Academy itself is a collection of low buildings that blend into the surrounding landscape. Inside, Obsidian Order recruits learn the skills of espionage, infiltration, assassination, and intelligence gathering. The training is brutal, even by Cardassian standards. The photographic memory and other mental discipline drilled into the recruits from their childhood are vital in the Academy. Most agents claim a human wouldn't survive a week at the Midnight Academy, and they're probably right.
And survival is the name of the game. The penalty for failure at the Academy is death, or exile from the Order, which amounts to the same thing. Recruits are tested to their limits. Those who fail, die. Those who succeed go on to become full agents of the Order. The Academy teaches ruthlessness and cunning by necessity. An agent of the Obsidian Order is someone who has survived and endured a great deal to achieve his or her position.
Obsidian Order agents learn an extensive collection of skills, from espionage to unarmed combat to techniques of assassination, interrogation, and torture. The instructors at the Academy treat their subjects as arts to be respected, taught and learned with style and finesse.
Agents of the Order return to the Academy from time to time for additional training, although agents are expected to maintain their skills in the field. An agent who slips up or gets rusty usually ends up dead, so the Order has no problems encouraging agents to continue training. Only the highest ranked members of the Order are told the true location of the Academy; not even the High Command knows where it is located.
The Stucture of the Order
The Obsidian Order is organized into "branches," each specializing in a particular aspect of intelligence work. Agents are assigned to the branch most suited to their talents, although agents are often posted to many branches throughout their careers to broaden their skills and experience. The individual branches of the Order work well together for the most part, although there is some occasional infighting over goals or resources.
The Command Branch oversees and coordinates the activities of all the other branches of the Obsidian Order, and makes sure each branch work together seamlessly. It is the leadership of the Order, and sets policy, assigns missions, chooses priorities, and makes other command decisions. Although individual branch administrators are allowed a fair amount of freedom in conducting the affairs of their branch, the Command Branch requires regular updates, and brooks no defiance of its authority within the Order.
The Command Branch is considered the final destination for ambitious Obsidian Order agents, and only the most capable agents are appointed to command positions. It is commonly known among agents that the Command Branch is rife with intrigue and political maneuvering. Some consider this a weakness, but most think of it as merely another aspect of the Order's intelligence operations.
The current head of the Obsidian Order is Doret Tashom, the successor to Enabran Tain. His current position appears stable but, as the Order knows well, appearances can be deceiving.
Doret Tashom started out as one of the Obsidian Order's most promising recruits. Early on, he caught the attention of Enabran Tain, the then head of the Order. Tashom became Tain's protégé, along with Elim Garak. He worked hard to earn Tain's respect, and developed a strong dislike of Garak, who he saw as a rival for Tain's attention.
Tashom became a skilled agent, working in several branches of the Order, always under the close supervision of Enabran Tain, and the watchful eye of Garak. Tashom eventually discovered the reason Tain had Garak as his student, Garak was actually Tain's son, but born under circumstances that prevented Tain from acknowledging him. Tashom arranged for Garak to fail a mission assigned to him by Tain by leaking information to the target. He then confronted Tain with his information about Garak's true parentage, preventing any possibility of Tain showing leniency towards his son and student. Tain exiled Garak from Cardassia and the Order, and issued orders that he should be killed if he ever returned.
Out of respect for Tashom's ruthlessness and cunning, Tain appointed him his successor as head of the Obsidian Order. He retired shortly thereafter, although he still kept an active hand in the administration of the Order through Tashom. When Tain proposed the assault on the Founders homeworld in the Omarion Nebula, working jointly with the Romulan Tal'Shiar, Tashom agreed to the plan. When it failed due to changeling infiltration of the ranks, Tashom laid the blame at Tain's feet, and set about purging the ranks of the Order of any infiltrators and double agents. This occupied much of Tashom's time and prevented the Order from operating as efficiently as it did in the past.
Ironically, the Obsidian Order's occupation with internal matters helped protect it from the storm that struck the Cardassian Union. The Dominion Alliance and the war with the rest of the Alpha Quadrant largely passed over the Order. The Dominion preferred their own intelligence-gathering methods, and did not trust the Order, so they retreated underground and bided their time.
Now, with Cardassia in the process of rebuilding, Doret Tashom, though getting on in the years, intends to see that the Obsidian Order gains back all that it has lost, and more.
The Analysis Branch is responsible for analyzing all collected intelligence data and preparing reports for Command and other branches, as needed. The Analysis Branch is broken down into "bureaus," each devoted to a specific subject: the Federation Bureau, Klingon Bureau, Romulan Bureau, and so forth.
The Analysis Branch has access to a vast storehouse of information gathered by the Obsidian Order's agents over many years. This information includes physical archives as well, collections of evidence, files, technologies, even biological samples, all kept in specially designed stasis chambers in a central archive on Cardassia Prime. The archive is extensively catalogued and cross-referenced, allowing the Analysis Bureau to access any given item or piece of information immediately, using computer retrieval and transporter technology (for physical items). A number of less vital physical items are scanned by a Cardassian high-resolution replicator and their patterns stored in computer files, allowing them to be re-created at a later point.
Although the Analysis Branch has access to all the information of the Obsidian Order, its agents have a reputation as "bookish" and not suited for fieldwork. Many agents of the Analysis Branch are older and close to retirement, or assigned to the branch as punishment from a superior. This makes Analysis agents notorious for their bad attitudes towards other agents. Requests for access to information are often subject to political run-arounds and other games, unless the requesting agent has enough authority to push the Analysis Branch around a bit.
The current head of the Analysis Branch is Gova Jusett, a formidable Cardassian woman with iron-gray hair, and a sour disposition.
The highly trained and efficient agents of the Obsidian Order's Assassination Branch are known throughout the Alpha Quadrant. Their ability to make an assassination look like an accident is legendary. They are suspected of killings ranging from Federation officials to Romulan admirals to the leaders of Klingon houses.
Cardassian assassins learn a wide variety of killing techniques, including their own special martial art, Telais Ta'Rom. They generally prefer subtle methods of assassination, particularly obscure poisons, genetically engineered viruses, and "equipment failures," such as the destruction of shuttles and other spacecraft or the well-timed rupture of an EPS conduit near their victim. Still, there are more than willing to use direct methods, up to and including a well-placed sniper shot from concealment and killing their victim with their bare hands.
The Assassination Branch is considered no more or less important than any other in the Order, but it does carry a certain "romantic" quality, and agents serving in this branch often advance more quickly than others. Of course, assassination missions are some of the most dangerous, so assassination agents suffer the largest number of casualties as well. Still, the branch is considered the "fast track" of the Obsidian Order, and most of its prominent agents have served at least some time as assassins.
The current head of the Assassination Branch of the Obsidian Order is Nex Kosa, himself a skilled assassin known for operations against Federation and Romulan targets. Kosa supports Doret Tashom in the restoration of the Obsidian Order, but there are rumors that Kosa has his own political agenda. A staunch conservative, odd for someone so young, it is likely Kosa's agenda involves the restoration of military control over Cardassia, but with the Obsidian Order (and, perhaps, himself) in charge.
The Counterintelligence Branch of the Obsidian Order is responsible for protecting the Order and the Cardassian Union against the intelligence operations of other interstellar powers, like the Federation and the Romulan Empire. They carried out their duties with extraordinary efficiency. For many years, Starfleet Intelligence considered the Cardassian Union the most difficult interstellar power to conduct intelligence-gathering operations against.
The Counterintelligence Branch rooted out foreign spies and operatives, often working in cooperation with the Interrogation Branch to extract information from them, then reprogram them for use as double agents against their home government. At least one of these double agents was highly placed within Starfleet Intelligence for years before being detected. Her exposure forced Starfleet Intelligence to re-evaluate all the data it gathered on Cardassia.
Part of Counterintelligence's success is the patience of its agents; rather than moving in to capture a potential spy immediately, Counterintelligence prefers to bide their time and "bait" possible spies in order to undercover any confederates they might have. They are masters at constructing complex psychological games to allay any suspicions on the part of their subject, and to feed them false information. When the Order it ready, it sets up a series of false and misleading information designed to put stress on the enemy agent; fake messages from home, evidence of betrayal by superiors or loved ones, and so forth. Only when the target is near the breaking point do the operatives move in to capture him for interrogation and subversion.
Counterintelligence's spotless record was marred by the infiltration of changelings into Cardassian society, particularly into the ranks of the Obsidian Order. Counterintelligence was unprepared for the Founders' powers of imitation; exact enough to fool sophisticated scanning equipment. This allowed the Founders to lead the forces of the Obsidian Order and the Tal'Shiar into a trap in the Omarion Nebula.
Since the Omarion Incident, the Counterintelligence Branch has become paranoid in the extreme, conducting blood screenings and using other techniques, including torture, to detect changeling infiltrators.
The head of the Counterintelligence Branch is Circha Ossamat, who earned his position when the previous head of the branch was executed following the Omarion Incident. Ossamat is a slight man whose soft-spoken demeanor hides a core of considerable deviousness and paranoia. Ossamat is loyal to Doret Tashom, and devoted to keeping the Order free from any future infiltrators.
The Order's Cryptography Branch handles the design, implementation, and breaking of various types of codes. They developed the recursive encryption algorithm used in most modern Cardassian codes, which has proven nearly impossible for foreign powers like the Federation to break. The renowned Cardassian memory, and a talent for mathematics, makes the Cryptography Branch one of the most efficient of its kind in the Alpha Quadrant.
Cryptography makes use of the most advanced Cardassian computer systems to run their encryption and decryption algorithms. They also rely on the information gathered by the Infiltration and Interrogation Branches to provide them with valuable keys to unlocking different code sequences.
Once a code is broken, the Obsidian Order often keeps that information to itself, so as not to alert the owner of the code that it has been broken. This allows the Order to monitor and decode transmissions from foreign powers and agents and track their activities with much greater accuracy. Operations conducted by Counterintelligence are often assisted by Cryptography breaking the enemy agent's code system, allowing Counterintelligence to not only monitor his activities, but create forged messages that appear to come from the target's home agency.
Agents of the Cryptography Branch are often thought of as "homebodies," more comfortable working in a lab with a computer than out in the field. This is sometimes the case, but most Cryptography agents served in other branches of the Obsidian Order, so they should not be underestimated.
The Founders employed Cardassian cryptographers to develop and break codes from them during the Dominion War, giving the Cryptography Branch a somewhat undeserved reputation as collaborators with the Dominion. Their cooperation did secure the Obsidian Order a considerable amount of information on Dominion codes and encryption protocols. Much of this information is worthless in the wake of the Dominion surrender (the Founders will no doubt change their encryption protocols), but it still provides valuable insight into the Dominion's secrets.
The current head of the Cryptography Branch is Terbin Usa, an older Cardassian man with a bookish exterior and wispy gray hair, concealing a razor-sharp and insightful mind. Usa is most at home working with numbers and algorithms, but he is a loyal citizen of Cardassia and (more importantly) a loyal member of the Obsidian Order. He lost most of his family during the Dominion War, including several of his sons. He wants to see Cardassia strong enough to never again bow beneath the heel of an alien oppressor.
The Infiltration Branch of the Obsidian Order is responsible for short-term penetration, infiltration, and extraction missions. The Undercover Branch carries out long-term infiltration of other societies and organizations. Infiltration specializes in swift, silent raids and precision strikes against their chosen targets. Agents are trained in stealth and overcoming security measures as well as commando-style tactics. Infiltration agents carry out three major types of missions: reconnaissance, theft, and extraction of personnel, in their relative order of difficulty.
Reconnaissance ("recon") missions consist of agents operating behind enemy lines, or outside of Cardassian space. Very short-term recon missions tend to be military in nature. The Obsidian Order often leaves these missions to the Central Command, although it reserves the right to carry out its own reconnaissance when necessary. The Order's recon missions are oriented towards intelligence gathering rather than military planning, and usually involve agents disguised as members of a different species. The agents find out what they can about an area, individual, or organization, and report back to the Obsidian Order. Recon missions are often conducted with the assistance of an undercover agent already in place, although the Order is careful not to compromise the identity of their undercover agents, if it can be avoided.
Infiltration agents are often tasked with acquiring a particular item or information for the Order. This includes alien artifacts, samples of advanced technology, chemical compounds, genetic samples, and virtually any data of interest to the Order and the Cardassian Union. Agents are skilled in overcoming security measures intended to deter thieves, and some agents are specially trained to bypass computer security lockouts to download sensitive data.
The Order often works with smugglers to move their agents and their materials into and out of Cardassian space. On tactic of the Order is staging a raid or theft of other materials to cover up the disappearance of the Order's true target. For example, a band of pirates might raid a Federation merchant vessel and steal its cargo, also seizing the top-secret case of biogenic compounds on their way to a Federation research station and killing the Starfleet Intelligence agent carrying them. To all outward appearances, the attack is merely a "random incident" of interstellar piracy. Even if Starfleet tracks down the pirates, odds are the Obsidian Order agents are long gone.
Lastly, the Infiltration Branch also arranges the abduction of people the Obsidian Order is interested in. Sometimes these people are double agents or deep-cover operatives in need of an escape to the safety of Cardassian space. More often, the targets of the Order are individuals who have information of interest to them. They are abducted for interrogation, and possibly brainwashing. The Order may substitute an undercover agent, surgically modified, in place of an abducted individual, either to cover their absence in the short term, or to infiltrate using their credentials. Such replacements are rare, and carried out with extreme delicacy. See the Undercover Branch for more information.
The head of the Infiltration Branch of the Order is Jora Kitrap, a Cardassian woman with considerable experience in infiltration and extraction operations. She is quite young for a branch-head, having only recently replaced her mentor, who had retired. Kitrap is pleased to see the militaristic government gone, and eager to use the resources of the Obsidian Order to help strengthen Cardassia. She is somewhat headstrong, and Doret Tashom has already warned her that infiltration operations carried out without his authorization will not be tolerated.
The Internal Affairs branch of the Obsidian Order is the best known, and most feared, arm of the organization in Cardassian space. Its mandate is to maintain the rule of law and order (along with the rule of the Central Command and the Order) in the Cardassian Union. Internal Affairs once wielded vast power on Cardassia, but the events of the Dominion War have weakened its position considerably.
Originally, Internal Affairs held almost complete control over the Cardassian law enforcement and judicial systems. Ordinary soldiers served as law enforcement officers, and archons served in the courts, but the wishes of Internal Affairs could override any of them at any time, and all legal authorities were required to cooperate with the Obsidian Order at all times. Cardassians suspected of dissidence or treason simply disappeared into the interrogation chambers of the Order, never to be seen again. Political enemies of the established order were harassed and hounded by security and the legal authorities until they mended their ways or were driven to ruin. Not even high-ranking legates or members of the Detapa Council were beyond the reach of Internal Affairs, although the Obsidian Order needed more proof to bring down people in such influential positions.
The Omarian Nebula incident weakened the power of the Obsidian Order in the Cardassian Union. Political enemies of the Order, including Central Command, exploited the opportunities the Order's weakness presented. Security forces operated with more and more detachment from Internal Affairs, and the Detapa Council became more defiant of the Order's influence. The overthrow of the Central Command, followed closely by the Dominion alliance, severely weakened Internal Affairs. The Dominion placed the military, aided by Jem'Hadar enforcers, in charge of planetary security and law enforcement. The Jem'Hadar answered to no Cardassian authority, and held no fear of the Obsidian Order. Even the Cardassian soldiers considered Internal Affairs little more than a shadow of its former self.
Things have changed since the Dominion surrender and withdrawal. The Detapa Council looks towards Internal Affairs for its experience in maintaining order and enforcing the law. The agents of this branch are once again influential in Cardassian society, although they do not have quite the latitude they once did, at least not publicly. The head of Internal Affairs, Doven Grissa, is working closely with the Council and civilian authorities to give the Obsidian Order as large a role in law enforcement as possible.
Few people can keep secrets from the Obsidian Order once it has them in one of its interrogation rooms. Agents of this branch are masters at questioning, manipulation, and physical and psychological torture intended to pry information from unwilling subjects, and to bend their minds in whatever way the Obsidian Order wishes.
While the Romulan Tal'Shiar prefers technological methods for interrogation, such as mind probe devices, the limits of Cardassian neural technology require the Obsidian Order to make use of more "traditional" interrogation techniques. Agents of the Order consider this an advantage rather than a shortcoming, and many Cardassian interrogators takes a perverse pride in the "art" of torture and manipulation, a skill they have honed for many years. A Cardassian interrogator can wax poetic about the many different ways of inflicting pain, or the pleasures of slowly breaking another person's will. In fact, they're quite fond of doing so in front of their victims, to further enhance their fearsome reputations.
In addition to extracting information, Cardassian interrogators employed their techniques as instruments of terror against enemies of the Cardassian Union. Political prisoners were often tortured to death during the Bajoran occupation, and Cardassians commonly made "examples" of those who defied them, in order to encourage fear in the local population. . The mutilated face of the Bajoran terrorist Orta is only one of thousands of examples of their handiwork. The Cardassian mistreatment of political and wartime prisoners is legendary among the Bajorans and Starfleet officers who served during the first conflict between the Federation and Cardassia.
Like many branches of the Obsidian Order, the Interrogation Branch fell into disuse during the Dominion alliance. The Dominion preferred its own methods and personnel for interrogation of prisoners, so Cardassian interrogators went virtually unnoticed during the war. The new civilian government on Cardassia Prime has driven these masters of torture and manipulation even further underground, although the Obsidian Order still retains their services. Torture is no longer considered one of the tools of the Cardassian Union, but the Order still counts it as one of their most useful.
The Sabotage Branch of the Order specializes in vandalism and terrorist attacks against enemies of the Cardassian Union, along with arranging "accidents" for the Order's political enemies. They work closely with both Infiltration and Assassination to carry out their missions. Sabotage agents take considerable pride in the elegance of a sabotage job well done, particularly work that can pass as normal equipment failure or something else, such as the destruction of a Romulan shuttle appearing to be the work of Dominion weapons rather than a carefully placed bomb.
Agents of this branch require considerable technical knowledge and training, in order to learn the weaknesses and different technologies. Agents learn about EPS waveguides, plasma manifolds, ship schematics, fusion reactions, antimatter injectors, and all the hundreds of different sub-systems and places where a damaged circuit or a carefully placed overload can cause a catastrophic systems failure. They also learn a great deal about the design, construction, and use of explosive devices, from almost microscopic triceron derivatives to powerful bilitrium bombs. A Sabotage agent with even minimal access to a ship or station's engineering systems can do considerable damage.
Cardassian saboteurs were surprisingly rare during the Dominion War. The Founders preferred to handle infiltration and sabotage work themselves since they could move virtually undetected, entering places even a trained agent would have difficulty with. Ironically, many trained saboteurs turned against the Dominion towards the end of the war, committing acts of terrorism on their own worlds against the Jem'Hadar. Many have since been brought back into the fold of the Obsidian Order, prepared to carry out missions against Cardassia's (or the Order's) enemies.
At one time, the Surveillance Branch of the Obsidian Order kept watch over every single man, woman, and child in the Cardassian Union. Even after the Dominion War, this branch remains one of the most powerful and influential of the Order, and remains the source of most of its political power.
Over the past century or so, the Surveillance branch built increasingly elaborate systems for keeping a watchful eye on the Cardassian populace. They still control a vast information network that includes viewing and listening devices across Cardassia Prime and throughout the Union. At one time there were few places the all-seeing eyes of the Obsidian Order did not watch. Now the Order's surveillance network is spotty in many areas due to the damage done during the war, and their license to watch every member of Cardassian society is gone along with the military government. Still, Surveillance's information gathering capabilities are vast.
Before the Dominion War, every Cardassian citizen was required to have a tooth extracted at the age of 10 and placed in the archives of the Obsidian Order. This gave the Order complete genetic samples for every member of Cardassian society. The Order could tune sensors and scanners to locate particular individuals with astounding accuracy, and they used genetic scans as a security measure, foiling non-Cardassian infiltrators. The Surveillance archives also include vast amounts of data collected over the years, from recorded conversations to psychological profiles to forensic evidence. The Order is well known for never discarding anything that might be useful.
Obsidian Order undercover agents agree to undergo surgical alteration to appear as members of other humanoid species, allowing them to infiltrate their society and acquire information. The expert Cardassian surgeons are able to make agents appear as nearly any humanoid species, although a medical examination or genetic scan will still reveal their true nature. Many Cardassian undercover agents operated for years without being detected on worlds such as Bajor, Qo'noS, and several Federation core worlds.
In some cases, undercover agents go a step further, undergoing treatments to give them false memories suited to their "cover identity." This prevents the agent from being detected by casual neural or telepathic scans, but it also completely suppresses the agent's true memories and personality. These undercover agents are not even aware they are Cardassians, much less agents of the Obsidian Order. The mental treatments combined with Cardassian photographic memory ensures the agent will recall everything their experience while undercover. When their mission is complete, the agent is extracted and brought back to Cardassian space, where his or her true appearance and memory can be restored.
Although the Obsidian Order claims it has never had an undercover agent defect, there have been cases of undercover agents going missing. Since the Dominion War, the Obsidian Order has lost track of a number of undercover agents, particularly in Bajor Sector. The fate of these agents, and whether or not they have regained their true memories, is unknown.
With the shape-shifting Founders, the Dominion naturally made little use of Cardassian undercover agents. Since the end of the Dominion War, the Undercover Branch has officially been working on dismantling all Obsidian Order undercover operations, but it is highly unlikely they will discontinue all of them, and they may be setting up others without informing the Detapa Council.
Field Operatives aren’t necessarily a branch unto themselves, but they do need all the skills and expertise of each branch in the Order. There are versatile and dangerous, even those stationed aboard ships.
At its height, the Obsidian Order could call upon nearly the entire resources of the Cardassian Union. At present, the Order's resources are considerably more limited, but still formidable.
The Obsidian Order has bases and facilities throughout Cardassian space, and some resources outside the Union as well. These bases range from the extensive archives maintained on Cardassia Prime to simple safe houses hidden on planets in the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and Bajor Sector. Most Obsidian Order facilities are well concealed, often passing as government offices, trading companies, or other innocuous structures. Cardassian embassies on various planets often serve as temporary headquarters or cover for Obsidian Order agents. The Order keeps the location of its bases secret, for the most past. Even the Detapa Council and the Central Command know the locations of only a fraction of the Obsidian Order's true facilities.
Although legally banned from maintaining military grade ships or weapons, the Order maintained a secret shipbuilding facility on Orias III for many years. Here the Order constructed a fleet of ships in cooperation with the Romulan Tal'Shiar to launch a surprise attack on the Founders' home world. Changeling infiltrators discovered the plot, and led the Alpha Quadrant forces into a trap. The Order has largely abandoned the Orias facility, which was taken over by Dominion forces during the war.
The Obsidian Order also has several space stations located in isolated systems in Cardassian space. Most of these stations are small, used primarily for surveillance and as safe locations to conduct espionage activities. The secret nature of the Order's facilities kept most of them out of the hands of the Dominion, the Detapa Council, and the Central Command during and after the war.
The Obsidian Order controls the largest and most comprehensive archive of information and artifacts in the Cardassian Union. The Order has biographical information on every citizen of the Union going back for centuries, including genetic records, surveillance information, correspondence, and more. In addition to this information, the Order's archives include all the information gathered by its agents from other civilizations over the years, all of its heavily encrypted and protected from outside eyes.
The Obsidian Order also has considerable collections of Cardassian artifacts, some dating back to the First Hebitian civilization, along with latinum and other valuable materials. These are used to fund the Order's activities (more now than ever) and as bribes or trades with other civilizations and contacts. Although it no longer has the government support it once did, the Obsidian Order has sufficient wealth to maintain itself almost indefinitely.
One of the Order's greatest resources has always been its political influence. Before the Omarian Incident, the Order's power was unchallenged in the Cardassian Union. It existed entirely above the law, even the laws that supposedly defined its limitations (such as the ban against military ships and weapons). The Order's influence guaranteed cooperation from the government and even the Central Command in most matters.
Since the end of the war, the Obsidian Order's political influence has waned considerably. It no longer dominates the Cardassian government, and it is answerable to the Detapa Council both in fact as well as theory. However, the Order has by no means taken these setbacks lying down. Its vast storehouse of information and its surveillance network allows the Obsidian Order to exercise great political power, mostly in the form of blackmail and secret influence over political leaders.