The True Way was a Cardassian secret society that represented the power of old familial elites. They would become a terrorist group that believed the Federation was the biggest threat to the Cardassian Union. They also considered Bajor to be an enemy as well. (DS9 episodes: "Our Man Bashir", "Crossfire", ST - The Fall novel: The Crimson Shadow)
- “The True Way? Oh, that’s a long story. . . . Legend has it that their origins stretch back to our early history, when our society was largely in the control of some very powerful families. Tain’s family was one — or so family tradition had it — and that was the start of the Obsidian Order. Whether or not this was true, I don’t know, but certainly it was part of what drove Tain, and, I suspect, part of what drives those who consider themselves the True Way.”
Garak recounts that the Order was the representation of a new state, to curb the internecine violence of the old elite: 'an organization that did not serve a single family, but served them all. The purpose was to put an end to civil war and to provide stability.' The old families would form their secret society, in combat with the auspices of the state:
- “The True Way stood for the past?” Picard asked slowly. “The restoration of the great families and their way of life? That was their justification. Is their justification.”
But in truth the two groups - the old families as the True Way and the Order as the state became reflective and interpenetrated with one another:
- "I have to say that the True Way’s methods were always tediously similar: they’d install their people in key institutions—the Detapa Council, the Order, Central Command—and those people would work to concentrate power in their hands."
In the late 2350s, during his time in the Obsidian Order, Elim Garak infiltrated the True Way, learning that Korven, a former Legate was the nominal leader of the True Way. Garak did not have Korven arrested, feeling he would need to call in favors from Korven in the future. Having been tortured by Garak and warned he had narrowly escaped execution, Korven was not likely to do anything to draw attention to himself or the True Way. (DS9 novel: Cardassia: The Lotus Flower)
In 2372, they planted an explosive device aboard the USS Orinoco, which detonated and destroyed the runabout near Deep Space 9. The True Way announced it was responsible soon after. (DS9 episode: "Our Man Bashir")
Following the Cardassian Union's entry into the Dominion, the True Way's members were arrested and presumably executed. This was quite ironic, as the entry into the Dominion terminated all of Cardassia's relations with the Federation, as the True Way had wished for. Korven survived the purge. (DS9 novel: Cardassia: The Lotus Flower)
In 2376, a year after the decimation of Cardassia at the end of the Dominion War, the True Way used Nyra Maleren, a young Cardassian girl in an attempt to destabilize the Andak Project. Equipped with an explosive device she issued demands on behalf of the True Way. She was talked out of detonating the bomb by Yevir Linjarin. At the same time, Garak visited Korven, who explained to him that the True Way had been reforming since Alon Ghemor became Castellan. The True Way opposed the new democracy on Cardassia and believed it was holding back the rebuilding of the planet following the war. Korven was also forced to reveal that Merak Entor, a member of the Directorate, once served under him. Garak believed there was little evidence to connect Entor to the True Way, but would be embarrasing enough to get the Directorate to stop opposing the Andak Project. It was later discovered that Mev Jartek, advisor to Castellan Ghemor, had secretly leaked information to the True Way, hoping they would make a move so they could be discredited. (DS9 novel: Cardassia: The Lotus Flower)
In 2385 the True Way acted again, in a double-fronted ploy to destabilize the Federation and redirect Cardassia to militaristic isolationism. The group had inserted agents into the pro-Federation government of Rakena Garan, Castellan of the Cardassian Union, in advance of the state elections in October that year. They also sponsored conservative crime movements on Prime, such as that of Velok Dekreny, who agitated for a return to the old military past in North Torr. This seemed designed to result in the election of Evek Temet, a charismatic politician but ultimately an empty catspaw for the intentions of the True Way. When Cardassian ambassador to the Federation, Elim Garak, home on Prime for an upcoming treaty agreement between post-war Cardassia and the Federation, attempted to warn Garan of the True Way's potential involvement in her charismatic opponent's rise, she dismissed his old-guard anxieties.
Tragedy occurred when the True Way's agents in the government would in August that year assassinate the Federation President Nanietta Bacco at the new Deep Space 9 (II), to enable another presumed catspaw of the movement, the former Bajoran resistant fighter and triple agent, Baras Rodirya, now masqueraring as Ishan Anjar. The assassination, organised by Baras's chief-of-staff, Galif jav Velk, was succesful.
The action, however, was not as immediately positive for the True Way - who struggled against Garak. As he would tell Jean-Luc Picard:
- "I’m all that remains of the Obsidian Order, and watching for the True Way was our primary purpose."
They attempted to assassinate him, seemingly succesful, but for the subterfuge of Picard, who had him beamed to and hidden at the Allied Reconstruction Forces headquarters on the homeworld. Reappearing publically and dramatically from the dead, Garak convinced Garan she could not win the election, but seized the moment by standing against Temet. Garak would win the election, becoming Castellan and working to frustrate the True Way. He would expose their actions to the Alpha Quadrant in November that year, revealing Baras's Cardassian handler, Pavok, whom he had had captured and interrogated, revealing the intricacies of the True Way's machinations. (ST - The Fall novels: Revelation and Dust, The Crimson Shadow, A Ceremony of Losses, The Poisoned Chalice, Peaceable Kingdoms)
The True Way emerged once more in 2383 to denounce the resurgence of the Oralians, a religious group that dated back to the Hebitian civilization and was previously outlawed. By 2409, they had become deeply rooted in Cardassian space, waging a campaign of terror and fear throughout the region in an attempt to expel the Federation, and to return Cardassia to its old ways. In 2409, Empok Nor was used as the headquarters for the True Way. (STO video game: Star Trek Online)