Tret Akleen is the Cardassian revolutionary largely responsible for the overthrow of the Hebitian society and the establishment of the dictatorial Cardassian Union. He began his life on the colony world of Ventani II, located along what is now the Federation-Cardassian border, but subsequently moved to Cardassia Prime just in time for the beginning of the disastrous Cataclysm.
- Tret Akleen first appears in a scene cut from DS9: "Tears of the Prophets" where he is named as the father of the Cardassian people and his origin on Ventani II is stated. While this scene was cut, a reference to it was adopted in Andrew J. Robinson's A Stitch in Time, and from there into numerous fanfic continuities.
Tret Akleen was inspired in his rebellion by the rhetoric of anti-government protester Vetar, a government appointee who publicly challenged the administration that had appointed him--a very significant act of defiance for a people who so strongly feel the pull of the hierarchical instinct towards structure and obedience. Vetar protested the sluggishness of the response to the Cataclysm, what he viewed as the government's abusive use of the hierarchical instinct by the Oralian Guides to quell expression of discontent despite their egregious mistakes, and the refusal of the bureaucracy to revoke the independence of the colony worlds to sustain the ailing homeworld.
Vetar, contrary to Akleen, never espoused violence as a potential solution; however, Akleen came to see Vetar's protests as ineffectual and took it much, much further. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Point of Divergence")
Rebellion and conquest
Striking the blow that to his mind Vetar was too weak to make, the twenty-two year old Tret Akleen's first direct act of rebellion against the authorities was the murder of Oralian Guide Yavenn Pretam and the dispersal of her followers to carry the message of what he had done.
This act of direct physical defiance soon triggered a firestorm of rebellion across Cardassia Prime--a rebellion that, with the old hierarchy crumbling, crystallized around Akleen as its leading figure. In eight years' time, Akleen--still only thirty years old, an age that would ordinarily be considered far too young for such respect and responsibility--commanded armies that swept the world and succeeded in toppling the Castellan and Hebitian Legislature.
Once he gained control, Akleen quickly abandoned his principled objection to the Guides' misuse of the hierarchical instinct, and engaged in the very same to an even greater extent, establishing a dictatorial government with strong conditioning programs to unite the Cardassian people and make them into a weapon capable of seizing whatever they wanted from their neighbors. The Oralian Way was targeted for destruction, and nearly eliminated. His personal guard acquired the nickname "Obsidian Order," and its heirs became one of the most feared arms of the Cardassian government. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Point of Divergence")
Akleen would be known as the "father" of the Cardassian people, and the colony from which he originated, Ventani II, would continue to hold high symbolic value to the Akleen is remembered in numerous monuments and other venues, such as Akleen's Obelisk at the center of Lakat's Memorial Square. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Point of Divergence")
The conformity of Cardassian men in their hairstyle is also directly traceable to Akleen. Though Akleen himself never ordered it, many men after the revolution began to adopt the military style he wore as a tribute. Over time, this tribute became more than just a style; those men who did not show their obeisance to the Cardassian government in this manner came to be viewed with suspicion to the point where failure to do so was sufficient cause to attract the attention of the Obsidian Order. Women, however, never had to submit to this requirement or anything similar. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions essay--"Cousins We Could Have Been: Cardassians and How to Draw Them")
Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius universe
In an alternate universe, the man born with the name Tret Akleen would be remembered by the Cardassian people by his nickname, Rhirzum Akleen, to the point where it sounds odd to the ear of the average person for him to be named as anything else.
In this reality, Akleen could not bring himself to kill Yavenn Pretam. Invited by the woman he had just threatened to kill, to sit down and discuss his grievances, Akleen found a much more sympathetic ear than he had ever expected from one of the clergy. While both held to their beliefs over the course of their lifetimes--Pretam to her Oralian faith and Akleen to his atheism, the two eventually became friends...although it could be a rather prickly friendship at times, as expressed by the nickname Pretam gave him of "Rhirzum," after an ornery Cardassian animal.
Pretam rose in prominence among the Oralian clergy, achieving the position of Guide to the Castellan and becoming an advocate for some of the reforms Akleen had suggested: the Right of Worship that granted religious freedom to all Cardassian believers and non-believers, the end of the abusive use of the hierarchical instinct, the introduction of a secular component of the government to check any potential abuse by the Guides, and the renaming of the people as "Cardassian." Akleen, however, came to see Pretam's position on the colonies, and instead worked to settle new colonies and open trade relationships with their neighbors complete with an honest admission of the situation back on Cardassia Prime and why they needed what they asked for.
In the end, the nonconformist beliefs of Rhirzum Akleen did not stand in the way of his being remembered fondly by history as a good friend of Pretam's and an advocate of needed reforms that made the renamed Cardassian Theonomy into a stable government capable of surviving everything short of outright invasion. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Point of Divergence")