Military career and family tiesEdit
Ghemor started his career in the Cardassian military at the age of nineteen. Six months later, he volunteered for duty on Bajor during the period which would later be known as the Occupation. The unit in which he served, comprising four hundred soldiers in total, took part in the destruction of the Kiessa Monastery. Seventeen monks, who were suspected of hiding weapons for the Bajoran Resistance, died in the attack.
Ghemor became a legate in the Cardassian Central Command, but his dislike for it grew as he came to believe that the Central Command had too much power over the lives of the Cardassian people. He grew more and more involved with the Cardassian dissident movement, and eventually became one of their leaders.
When Ghemor's daughter Iliana was young, he wanted her to be an artist. Instead, Iliana chose to serve the Obsidian Order, a step he and his wife disapproved of. In her role with the Order, Iliana accepted a deep undercover mission on Bajor, for which she underwent surgery to disguise her as a Bajoran. After leaving for the mission Ghemor and his wife were out of communication with Iliana and they never saw their daughter again.
Suspicions and fall from graceEdit
The Obsidian Order became suspicious of Ghemor's political views and in 2371 staged a ruse to prove their suspicions by kidnapping Major Kira Nerys of the Bajoran Militia, who was surgically altered to look like his lost daughter Iliana. Although Kira told Tekeny several times that she was not his daughter, he was convinced that she was and that her long mission on Bajor had clouded her memories, providing her with a false belief that she was the Bajoran she had impersonated. Corbin Entek, an Obsidian Order operative, assured him it would take time to get Iliana's Cardassian memories back. Ghemor had no reason to mistrust him and because he was a member of the Central Command, he believed that even an Order operative would not dare to touch him.
Ghemor was so convinced that Kira was his daughter, that he gave her the bracelet which had belonged to Iliana's mother. When Entek threatened to take Kira to the Obsidian Order's Headquarters for further interrogation, Ghemor acted quickly and told Kira that he would get her off Cardassia Prime. When Underground member Ari arrived to take her away, they were surprised by Entek and two of his aides and it became clear that the entire situation was about exposing Ghemor as a leader of the Underground. Fortunately, they were rescued by Commander Sisko, Odo, and Elim Garak, who had been investigating Kira's disappearance from Deep Space 9.
The incident forced Ghemor to flee Cardassia, but he remained determined to find his real daughter. Before he left to live among the Mathenites, whose government had offered him sanctuary, he told Kira that until he found Iliana, she was the closest thing to family that he had. (DS9: "Second Skin")
In 2373, Ghemor visited Kira on Deep Space 9 in response to Kira's proposal that he become the leader of a Cardassian opposition to the Cardassian/Dominion alliance. He was welcomed by Kira, who wanted his visit treated as that of a head of state, with full access to computers, private subspace communication channels, and other privileges that she arranged with Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax and Lieutenant Commander Worf. However, it soon became clear that Ghemor had used Kira's proposal as a pretext for his visit. Ghemor was pleased to see that she wore the bracelet he gave her, although it was not exactly allowed under the uniform code, and asked her that, if she did not want to call him father, to call him Tekeny.
Kira told him that she had asked Bajoran Security if they had heard anything about Iliana, but because she would by now have been undercover for more than ten years, this would be difficult. Although Kira asked him not to give up hope, Ghemor told her that he had to face the facts: he was alone and the closest thing to family he had was Kira.
When Ghemor was asked what he thought about the proposal Kira had sent him, he had to decline, despite Kira's enthusiasm and arguments that he would be the best person to lead the opposition, perhaps even being able to counter the Cardassian Union's propaganda. It was then that Ghemor revealed he was suffering from Yarim Fel Syndrome, a terminal disease. Doctor Julian Bashir, at Kira's request, confirmed the diagnosis of Yarim Fel Syndrome. The disease had already spread throughout his body and Bashir could predict exactly how much time Ghemor had left. Though he advised Ghemor that there were some treatments available to them, such as hexadrin therapy, the prognosis was not good.
For the next few days, Ghemor spent the majority of his time with Nerys. He watched her holding Kirayoshi O'Brien, Miles and Keiko O'Brien's son, and commented that it almost made him feel like a grandfather himself. He still regarded Kira as close to him as his own daughter and asked her if she ever thought of having children herself, maybe with Shakaar Edon. When she reacted with surprise, Tekeny told her, with a secretive smile, that he had asked some people to tell him if they ever heard things about her. He also told her that she even had a separate section in the Cardassian Central Archives, her feud with Kai Winn had almost became legendary, and that she made a good impression on people and he was proud of everything she had accomplished.
Ghemor was not surprised to learn that Gul Dukat had contacted DS9 to ask for his extradition to Cardassia. Ghemor understood that as long as he was alive, he would pose a risk to Dukat because of his extensive knowledge of Cardassian affairs. He told Kira about Shri-tal, a Cardassian tradition to pass the secrets from the dying to their family for use against their enemies. Because Ghemor had no more relatives, he pleaded with Nerys to be his daughter in this final respect and hear his secrets and to use them as she saw fit.
In the following days, Ghemor's condition worsened even as he started the hexadrin therapy. Kira cared for him and stood by his sickbed during this time. Although there were times his pain got the better of him he refused stronger medicine because of the chance it might make him unconscious and he felt that he and Kira had too much to discuss. The Shri-tal started with Gul Trepar, Dukat's most powerful enemy, and continued for much of the day, at the end of which Tekeny Ghemor fell into a restless sleep.
The next day Doctor Bashir told him that the hexadrin therapy was not working, and that he only had a short time left. Ghemor asked for Kira and told her to ask her questions now, before it was too late.
Later that day Ghemor was visited by Weyoun and Gul Dukat who told him that he could spend his last days on Cardassia. Ghemor told Dukat he only had a week to live, maybe less, and that he would not trade his silence for a few days of Cardassian sun. Ghemor was very angry with Dukat, whom he believed had betrayed the Cardassian people to the Dominion. To break down Ghemor's unwillingness, Dukat told him that his daughter Iliana was alive, and that he knew where to find her. Ghemor wanted to believe him, but although he and Dukat might come to an agreement, he told him that dealing with him meant dealing with the Dominion. Ghemor simply found that price too high.
In the coming days, Ghemor and Kira continued the Shri-tal. The days seemed endless; Kira listened and attended to him while he talked. One day, overcome by events, the depth of his secrets, and her emotions, Kira became hostile with him and confronted Ghemor about his military past, the massacre at Kiessa Monastery, and accused him of lying to her. Ghemor suspected that Dukat had told her about his past and told Kira that the monks were hiding weapons which the Resistance would use to kill his friends. He said it had been easy to despise Bajorans during the war but that he now believed that they, the Cardassians, were the monsters, not the Bajorans, and regretted ever joining the military and volunteering for duty on Bajor. Tekeny hid the truth from her because he did not want her to hate him. An angry and disappointed Kira told him he deserved to be hated and left his quarters.
After Kira walked out on Ghemor, Doctor Bashir visited her and told her that Ghemor's condition had deteriorated, and he would be dead within the hour. Kira's cold reaction surprised Julian and he told her that Ghemor wanted to see her and that, regardless of what he had done in the past, no one deserved to die alone. Kira struggled with her conscience; the situation was a painful reminder of her real father's death during the occupation of Bajor. She never was able to stand by him on his deathbed, and missed saying final good-byes to him by an hour. After some deep soul-searching, she knew what she had to do and went to Ghemor's side.
Ghemor told her he had not thought she would come to see him when she entered his quarters, "For a while there neither did I" she replied. During his last moments, fighting for every second, Ghemor whispered his wife's name, Iliana's, and Kira's and died a few breaths later.
After Tekeny Ghemor died, Gul Dukat claimed that his remains should be buried on Cardassia but Captain Sisko told him that Ghemor's funeral arrangements already had been taken care of. Major Kira buried Tekeny Ghemor on Bajor right beside her own father. (DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
On the character, Lawrence Pressman commented, "My original image of Ghemor was one of the old military elite in Germany, who loathed Hitler. They were certainly willing to fight the war, but they were unwilling to fight according to Hitler's plans. They were the guys who tried to kill him in the forest, including Rommel who was implicated in that action". ("Back for Ghemor", Star Trek Monthly issue 30)
In Una McCormack's non-canon novel Hollow Men a Cardassian government in exile is revealed to have been set up by 2374. Elim Garak is surprised to hear of it, as he thought the idea of that had "died with Tekeny Ghemor".
In the Deep Space Nine relaunch, Ghemor's nephew, Alon Ghemor, becomes the new leader of Cardassia.
The final fate of Iliana Ghemor features extensively in the novels of the DS9 relaunch, including Warpath and Fearful Symmetry. The latter novel revealed that Tekeny Ghemor's mirror universe counterpart was the head of the Obsidian Order.