- This article is about the conflict of 2372/73. You may be looking for the Betreka Nebula Incident of 2328-46.
The Klingon-Cardassian War was a two-year conflict (2372-2373) between the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union. The manipulation of the Klingons into launching an unprovoked attack on the Cardassians, left the Union devastated and paved the way for its alliance with the Dominion, proving this conflict to be one of the greatest coups of Changeling infiltration in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. (DS9 episode & novelization: The Way of the Warrior; DS9 episodes: "Return to Grace", "Rules of Engagement", "For the Cause")
Cardassian Revolution and Klingon ParanoiaEdit
Following the destruction of the Obsidian Order and the threat of Changeling infiltrators, the Cardassians sealed their borders. Despite that, the Central Command was overthrown and government power was transferred to the Detapa Council by a civilian uprising and the dissident movement.
On Qo'noS, Klingon Chancellor Gowron and the High Council saw it as unlikely that the Cardassian civilian population and the known dissident movement had overthrown the Central Command by themselves and that it had likely been instigated by the Dominion founders impersonating members of the Detapa Council. The Klingons paranoia and fear of the Dominion infiltrators was amplified by a changeling impersonating General Martok, calling for a massive invasion of Cardassian space to end the "Changeling threat". Many Klingons, who had grown restless after decades of peace, rallied around him not knowing that Martok himself had been replaced by a Changeling, whose mission was to weaken the Dominion's enemies.
The invasion was to involve a third of the Klingon Empire's military forces, with over a hundred ships in the first wave alone. The plan was to mount a lightning thrust into the heart of Cardassian territory and conquer Cardassia Prime. All governmental officials would be executed, and an imperial overseer installed to put down any further resistance. The advance task force of over fifty warships, led by Martok aboard the IKS Negh'Var, was dispatched to Federation starbase Deep Space 9 under the guise of defending the station against a Dominion incursion. (DS9 episode & novelization: The Way of the Warrior)
However, the sheer number of ships and troops, combined with several incidents on and near DS9, caused station commander Captain Benjamin Sisko to become suspicious enough that he sent for Lieutenant Commander Worf (late of the USS Enterprise-D) to come and investigate the Klingon presence. Worf eventually uncovered the true purpose of the taskforce and relayed this information to Sisko, who in turn relayed it to Starfleet Command and the Federation Council. The Council refused to support the invasion, going so far as to condemn it altogether. In response, Gowron withdrew the Klingon Empire from the Khitomer Accords, expelled all Federation citizens from the Empire and recalled all his ambassadors. (DS9 episode & novelization: The Way of the Warrior)
Escape of the Detapa CouncilEdit
Sisko, realizing that it was in fact possible that the popular uprising could have succeeded in bringing down Central Command, was able to get word to the Cardassians that the Klingons were coming. Despite this, the outlying colonies of the Union were overrun almost immediately, though the mobilization of the Cardassian fleet did slow them down. Eventually, though, the lines broke and the Klingons came very close to Cardassia Prime.
Skrain Dukat, who had become the Chief Military Advisor to the Detapa Council, was contacted by Sisko, who promised the council members safe haven aboard DS9, provided they could rendezvous with the USS Defiant. While the CDS Prakesh (the ship boarded by the council members for the trip) was able to reach the coordinates, it was attacked and pursued by the Klingons, and by the time the Defiant arrived, it was on the verge of destruction. The council members were evacuated to the Defiant, which promptly made a beeline back to DS9 with two Klingon vessels (which had been attacking the Prakesh) in pursuit. When the Defiant finally returned to DS9, a large portion of the Klingon fleet attacked the station, leading to a long firefight that only ended when a Starfleet task force was able to beat the Klingon reinforcements to DS9. (DS9 episode & novelization: The Way of the Warrior)