|Emblem of the Dominion|
|Founded:||8th century BC–4th century|
Alpha Quadrant (2373–2375)
|Major Species:||Changelings, Vorta, Jem'Hadar, Karemma, Cardassians (2373–2375), Breen (2375)|
The Dominion was a major interstellar state in the Gamma Quadrant. Technologically advanced and millennia old, the Dominion was founded under the absolute rule of a group of Changelings known as the Founders, whose will was carried out by the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar. The Dominion was dedicated to imposing the Founders' vision of "order" upon the universe, i.e. bringing all other civilizations under its control.
The Dominion was established between the 8th century BC and the 4th century by Changelings, who sought to protect themselves against persecution by the solids via totalitarian control. Becoming known as the Founders, the Changelings used advanced genetic engineering to create two servant races, the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar. On behalf of the Founders, these two species began expanding Dominion territory through diplomacy and military conquest. By the mid-24th century, the Dominion had conquered hundreds of species. (DS9: "The Search, Part II", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
In the 2370s, the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole brought the Dominion into contact with the civilizations of the Alpha Quadrant. After learning that Starfleet would destroy the wormhole in the event of a direct Dominion incursion, the Founders initiated long-term plans to weaken and subvert the Alpha Quadrant. (DS9: "The Search, Part II", "The Adversary") In 2373, the Dominion was able to secure both the wormhole passage and a power base in the Alpha Quadrant, through the absorption of the Cardassian Union. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light") By the end of the year, open war erupted between the Dominion and the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. (DS9: "Call to Arms")
The Dominion made rapid gains in the opening months of the war, beginning with the seizure of Deep Space 9 and the wormhole. (DS9: "Call to Arms", "A Time to Stand") However, it was dealt a major setback in mid-2374 when Starfleet and Klingon forces retook Deep Space 9 and prevented the Dominion from obtaining reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels") Also in that year, the Romulan Star Empire joined the war against the Dominion. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight") Despite various reversals and an eleventh-hour alliance with the Breen Confederacy, by late 2375 the Dominion verged on defeat and was additionally beset by a Cardassian uprising. The war ended when the Female Changeling agreed to surrender in exchange for a cure to the morphogenic virus afflicting the Great Link. (DS9: "Strange Bedfellows", "The Changing Face of Evil", "Tacking Into the Wind", "What You Leave Behind")
The Dominion was organized under a strict hierarchy, with the Founders at the top, then the Vorta, the Jem'Hadar. This was referred to as "the order of things" and deviation was punishable by death. (DS9: "To the Death", "Rocks and Shoals") The Founders held ultimate authority and their decisions could not be questioned under any circumstances. However, the Founders were largely apathetic towards the affairs of solids and were content to leave the administration of the Dominion to the Vorta. (DS9: "The Search, Part II") The Vorta commanded the Jem'Hadar and disseminated the ketracel-white crucial for their survival. (DS9: "To the Death")
Below the Founders, Vorta, and Jem'Hadar, the Dominion included numerous subjugated "member" races. These species were expected to obey the orders of the Vorta administrators. Disobedience would be punished by massive Jem'Hadar reprisals. (DS9: "The Search, Part I")
Known member species included:
In the 2370s, the Dosi and the Son'a were economically affiliated with the Dominion. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "Penumbra") In late 2375, the Dominion signed an alliance with the Breen Confederacy. (DS9: "Strange Bedfellows")
The Founders were rarely encountered by their subjects, leading them to be regarded as myths or gods. The Vorta and the Jem'Hadar were both engineered to worship the Founders; indeed, they believed that their lives belonged to the Founders rather to themselves (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
Although the Dominion initially appears monolithic and united, there are internal pressures, mostly between the Vorta and Jem'Hadar. The two servant races of the Founders regard one another with barely-disguised contempt, and a delicate balance exists between Jem'Hadar troops and their Vorta overseers. Their shared loyalty and obedience to the Founders kept them nominally at peace, but often it was only the Vorta's control of Ketracel White that kept them alive, and even then, this form of control has been known to fail; Jem'Hadar killing their Vorta is rare, but not unheard of. Vorta and Jem'Hadar try to maintain the appearance of unity, but this varies between individuals; some Vorta such as Keevan behave in a false paternal fashion to their troops, while others like Weyoun 4 were visibly disinterested in the Jem'Hadar's welfare.
A Dominion strategy frequently used was to not use its military might during initial contacts, but rather, to take over via influence and espionage. While Jem'Hadar fighters destroyed the USS Odyssey as a show of force, the Dominion used its vast influential and espionage tactics to destabilize the Alpha Quadrant. For example, the Dominion precipitated a war between the Cardassian Union and the Klingon Empire, and then struck an alliance with the Cardassian Union, knowing full well they would accept due to their dire state, so as to gain support and a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant before deploying its military power. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "The Way of the Warrior", "By Inferno's Light")
The Dominion was founded on the principle of control, with the intent being to neutralize any potential threat to the Founders by whatever means necessary. In cases involving cooperative species such as the Karemma, the extent of Dominion interference was fairly minimal and restricted to material support. However, if the target species was or became less cooperative, the Jem'Hadar were dispatched to wipe out any opposition. The fear of massive Jem'Hadar reprisals was enough to keep most planets in line. For a prospective member, at first contact the Dominion may have appeared helpful, or even benevolent. A typical Dominion strategy was to make concessions in the short term for an advantage in the longer term, which may have been centuries in advance. (DS9: "The Search, Part I", "Statistical Probabilities")
By the time of the Dominion War, Dominion technology appeared to have significantly outpaced that of most Alpha Quadrant species.
Instead of phased energy or disruptor beams, Jem'Hadar rifles emitted powerful polaron beams which had the side effect of acting as an anticoagulant in some humanoids, thereby impeding the natural wound healing process. (DS9: "The Ship")
Similarly, Dominion warships displayed more impressive firepower than their Alpha Quadrant counterparts. Phased polaron beams were mounted on all Jem'Hadar attack ships. These initially cut through Federation shielding without effort; however, the DS9 crew subsequently managed to adapt their shields to withstand Dominion weapons for short periods. By the time of the Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, Federation shields had no more difficulty withstanding polaron weaponry than any other energy weapon. The Breen also wielded a huge advantage on the battlefield with an energy dissipating weapon capable of disabling Federation and Romulan vessels with a single shot. Effective countermeasures were eventually developed by Starfleet engineers. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Call to Arms", "The Dogs of War")
Dominion warp capability was less advanced when compared to most major Alpha Quadrant species. A Dominion fighter was capable of at least warp 7 and a battle cruiser was capable of at least warp 4.7. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Valiant")
While some Dominion technology was in many ways more advanced than that of the Federation, one Vorta lamented that Starfleet engineers were famed for being able to "turn rocks into replicators". (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals") At least some Dominion technology was manufactured by Dominion member species; it is known, for example, that at least one type of torpedo carried on board Jem'Hadar attack vessels was sold to the Dominion by the Karemma, a Dominion member. (DS9: "Starship Down") The Jem'Hadar did, however, seem capable of performing not only some minor and emergency repairs but also understanding complex engineering on even Starfleet vessels. (DS9: "One Little Ship")
See also Edit
The Dominion resulted from several meetings which the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had about establishing villains in the Gamma Quadrant during the show's second season. "We had meeting after meeting on what those guys would be like before the word 'Dominion' was ever dropped into a script," stated Robert Hewitt Wolfe. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 73)
- Michael Piller: "I can remember that once we decided that we were going to go deeply into the wormhole, that we essentially were forcing ourselves to decide for ourselves what we were going to find there."
- Ira Steven Behr: "We just felt that having done a year and a half of the show at that time, that we had such a rich backdrop that we hadn't yet explored. What's on the other side of the wormhole? Is it just more space?"
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "We just felt it was time to give a face to the Gamma Quadrant. Voyager was going to be wandering through the Delta Quadrant from place to place, meeting new people every week, and we wanted to make the Gamma Quadrant distinctly different from that, by creating the Dominion, a sort of unifying anti-Federation in a way, just to give it a completely different character. Instead of like the big mysterious out there, which all the other Star Trek shows had done, and Voyager was going to do, it was a very specific, dangerous, nasty Other, so that part of the motivation."
The Dominion was first mentioned in "Rules of Acquisition", then in "Sanctuary" and next in "Shadowplay", before finally being encountered in "The Jem'Hadar". " We sort of peppered mention of the Dominion into several episodes before we actually saw them. Basically, we were trying to build the idea that there was something big out there, something pretty tough." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 73)
The initial idea was to make the Dominion a kind of anti-Federation, similar in structure but with very different ideologies. The Dominion was to represent a wide array of alien races, just as does the Federation (as opposed to the mono-species Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, and Cardassian Union), but it was to be fascist-like, ruled by coercion and domination, in contrast to the cooperation and freedom of the Federation. As Robert Hewitt Wolfe explains, "The Dominion was not monolithic, it wasn't just the Romulans or the Cardassians, they were distinct in that they were the Dominion, they were, like the Federation, a collection of different races. But unlike the Federation, they were bound together by fear and extortion, whereas the Federation is bound together by noble thoughts and love and friendship and all that good stuff. So in a lot of ways, they were the mirror image of the Federation." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)
Even though the discovery of the Dominion in "The Search" occurs chronologically several months before Voyager is taken to the Delta Quadrant (and there is an episode with a Jem'Hadar fighter pictured on Voyager's viewscreen), they are never referred to as the Dominion by Voyager's crew. In one episode, after learning of the Dominion War following communication with Earth, Chakotay tells B'Elanna Torres of how the Maquis have been wiped out by the Cardassians, who have "an ally from the Gamma Quadrant that supplies them with weapons," implying he had never heard of them before. (citation needed • edit)
Initially, the plan was for numerous different species to be seen on Dominion vessels and involved in various parts of the Dominion's activities, although eventually, only three "main" species were firmly established: the Founders, the Jem'Hadar, and the Vorta, although the Karemma were also a member (indeed, they were the first member of the Dominion to be mentioned, in "Rules of Acquisition") and subsequently, both the Cardassians and the Breen became members. Robert Wolfe has also stated in interviews that the Hunters from "Captive Pursuit" were also members (and that the same people who bred the Jem'Hadar for the founders bred the Tosks for the Hunters), although this was never established on-screen and is therefore not canon.
The concept of introducing three species at once, as opposed to the more traditional Star Trek method of introducing major races one at a time, was Ira Behr's and came from the fact that he didn't want to risk introducing only one species which may not work. If the Dominion was basically a single race, and the audience didn't accept that race, the ramifications for the show would have been disastrous, so Behr felt it better to err on the side of caution, feeling that if he introduced three races, at least one of them was bound to work. As it turned out, all three were readily accepted by viewers, and all three would become major players in the later years of the show.
Robert Hewitt Wolfe explains the structure and organization of the Dominion: "The Gamma Quadrant isn't empty, it isn't just a bunch of planets. It's bound together by the Dominion, a very very tough, very smart, very old civilization, run by the mysterious Founders, who are experts in genetic engineering, and who turn out to be Odo's people, the Shapeshifters. They then go and engineer these slave races that do their bidding. Essentially, the two main slave races were the 'carrot' and the 'stick'. The carrot being the Vorta, who would come to your planet and say, 'Hey, you're nice people, here's some M-16s and some popcorn, and whatever else you want baby, alcohol, fire-water? All you have to do is sign this little contract and we'll make you cool.' Then there's the Jem'Hadar. So the Vorta say, 'Oh, you don't want to play ball? Then meet these guys. They're gonna kick your asses." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)
One idea that the writers had that was never actively utilized on-screen was that the Dominion knew about the Federation long before the Bajoran wormhole was discovered, and that they were developing a long-term strategy to deal with the inevitable contact. As Wolfe explains, "The Dominion knew the Federation was out there long before the wormhole was opened, and they had plans to deal with the Federation when the Federation was projected to enter their space in two hundred years, and they were building slowly towards that, that's why they sent out Odo in the first place. But then the wormhole opens up and suddenly the Federation is in their backyard today and it just throws everything into question for both the Federation and the Dominion." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)