The Orion Colonies, or sometimes "the Rigel Colonies", was the name given to the collection of all Orion-inhabited worlds, including the homeworld in the Rigel system and the many Orion colonies around it. However, it was not a unified nation, but a collection of clans and colony worlds, only loosely influenced and spoken for by the Botchok Planetary Congress (BPC) and other bodies. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
Other known terms were:
- Orion Syndicate
- Orion Congeries (TOS novel: The Romulan Way, TOS novel: Spock's World)
- Orion Union (TOS novel: The Great Starship Race)
- Orion Free States (FASA RPG module: The Federation)
- Orion Commercial States (FASA RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual)
- Trade Confederacy (TOS novel: The Children of Kings)
- It is unclear if these titles represent the full extent of Orion civilization or are simply alliances or even businesses within it. The similar-meaning names suggest a relationship between the Congeries, the Union and the Syndicate.
Unlike many other spacefaring states, the Orions were not a unified population, but were instead spread out into several large factions and a great many smaller ones, separated by space, allegiances and cultural differences. (DS9 novel: Wrath of the Prophets) They were considered decentralized, with a network of bases. (DS9 novel: Demons of Air and Darkness) Their society was generally anarchic. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book)
They claimed no sovereign space (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book) and were not an imperial power (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book). Some Colonies were Federation members or possessions of the Klingon Empire. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
There were over a hundred Orion Colonies in the late 23rd century, and despite hardships, most of these worlds maintained at least one purely Orion settlement. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
Despite a love of space travel and exploration, Orions were not a pioneering people, uninterested in settling and developing other worlds, and neither did they desire conquest, only exploitation. They preferred to settle on already inhabited worlds, so that they could better trade with the natives and be a part of the local economy, though some were founded on unsettled planets. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) In this way, they expanded through the territories of more sovereign powers, such as the Federation and the Klingon Empire. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
These "colonies" ranged in size from Orion neighborhoods within alien cities to entire cities of their own located elsewhere, both bringing their own (usually Botchoki) architecture and culture but politely only speaking their own language when no aliens were around to hear. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) Thus, Orions were not always the sole humanoid inhabitants of the planets they occupied (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book), but could be found living among alien populations that could be many times their number (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge).
The Orions did so with the goodwill and permission of the existing inhabitants or owners, as not every world desired Orions permanently living among them. These peoples usually benefited from the trade and wealth that the Orions brought in. However, the Orions also tended to bring with them crime and corruption, and practices such as slavery and piracy that did not endear them to their hosts. As a result, some worlds maintained strict controls and laws on their local Orion populations. Others simply turned them away.
In ancient times, the earliest Orion colonies were settled forcibly by alien slavers needing workers, and remained controlled by them until the Orion War. In the New Days that followed, Orions began founding their colonies independently. The term "colonies" remained in use even for settlements millennia old, with independent planetary-scale civilizations and wholly Orion populations that were the sole survivors of various disasters, or that had simply absorbed the natives, for they remained culturally tied to the homeworld.
Orion colonial expansion was slow, with new colony ventures typically only launched when population pressures increased on their existing worlds, once every two of three generations, or longer if a previous attempt had failed. However, disasters and war could also drive refugees out to seek new homes. Intended colony sites were carefully studied for the best survivability and acceptance from their hosts before an expedition was launched. Then they would send a rhadaman or scion of a powerful family with a colony ship, settlers (typically all Ruddy Orions), money and cargo to trade, to the new planet to found the colony. In its early years, the corporation or family that had launched the colony regulated the flow of Orion settlers to ensure a rival was not attempting to displace them, and protected the safety and prosperity of their people. The colonies could later be abandoned, however, if disaster, war, or loss of trade threatened them, or if the previous inhabitants or owners no longer wanted them. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
Though they had a homeworld in the Rigel system, the Orions had no overarching government or controlling influence, and no Orion had the authority to speak for the entire species. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) Authority was instead divided up among three power structures: the family, which handled most social aspects; the corporation, which took care of the financial; and lastly, the government, which was responsible for little more than bureaucracy and public services. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) Although various bodies claimed authority over the whole, none had enough power to actually exert it. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book)
Orion society was loosely organized by caju, or great families. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) They headed clans comprised of thousands of members, in an interdependent web of smaller families joined by marriage, alliances, and business deals, and wielding significant strength and influence. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) Each caj functioned as a merchant house, operating primarily around trade but also managing Orion governments and various aspects of their civil life, such as organizing trade networks, inter-clan marriages, explorers, and mercenaries. The caju took care of their own. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
The great merchant clans and houses dominated local Orion politics, running the culture as a sort of plutocratic republic. Linked together, they formed an extensive trading network, larger than an empire, but often warred with each other for possession of markets and trade routes. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book)
Entire planets were governed by one or a handful of ruling families whose name and word was law. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book) Where government, law and other institutions were weak and disrespected, families were flexible and personal, and Orions admired individuals with authority and personality. The tahedri or tabadi of a ruling family was well known, much-loved, and close to his or her people. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
They were also the prime drivers of colonization, with the sons of powerful families gathering ships, settlers and goods to trade, and venturing into space to find a new world upon which they could found a new Colony. Many of the outermost Colonies remained fully in the control of a single family. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
The most durable form of organization in Orion society was the business, which satisfied their desire for wealth. The structure mimicked that of the Orion family, with one man at the top and a handful of proven, trusted agents beneath him. Although they could range from a small shop, to a couple of men and one ship, to a corporation that spanned several worlds, Orion businesses never had more than five levels of command. This made them fast and efficient, with one decision-maker who could instantly move to seize an opportunity. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) They could be built around a family business, or by unrelated businesspersons.
In the pursuit of wealth and power, and lacking competition, many Orion corporations accidentally took the place of governments, by owning so much property and employing so many people that their decisions affected the populations of entire worlds, with an influence that went beyond their own holdings. Their policies, products, pay-rates and health-care benefits had direct economic and social effects, which their Chief Executive Officers and Boards of Directors had to take into account; though they'd consider it a nuisance, it did give them political influence. For them, size equaled power and power equaled responsibility, and Orion corporations above a certain size had to strike a balance between making money and maintaining the welfare of the communities that supported them. By Orion philosophy, well-run planets and happy and cared-for employee-citizens made the corporation look good.
These great corporations, then, were essentially totalitarian states, with the wealth and power to match. A single person at the top, or a handful of them, had absolute power and no laws to bind them. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge) However, they also had to maintain employee loyalty, making many large companies not unlike feudal fiefdoms, dependent on that loyalty. Thus, the company was like a second family to its Orion employees, taking care of them with good pay and holiday time, and valuing their involvement. More than most Orion Colony governments, Orion companies had more support and more patriotism, complete with flags, songs, bands and festivals, and each had an entertainment division. Acting as sovereign rulers, they answered to no one but their rhadamanen and their stock-holders. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
An Orion corporation didn't have the option of closing an inefficient or unprofitable operation and firing the workers. Instead, it had to upgrade the facility, adjust the industrial base, and retrain the workers while supporting them and their families. If this was not feasible, it would be sold to the highest bidder, even it was an entire planet. Worlds with only one kind of produce, such as mining or agriculture, were more likely to suffer this fate. However, for obscure behind-the-scenes goals, Orion corporations occasionally manipulated their holdings (particularly smaller ones) into unknown or unprofitable directions, by altering production, closing factories or importing outside labor.
They even had their own armies and fleets, which they could use to launch hostile take-overs (in the form of armed invasions and occupations of offices, plants, farms and mines), control space-lanes (with pirates paid to assault rival shipping), and ruin competitors (by scandal, sabotage or force). (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge) They weren't above seeking aid from the Federation, the Klingons or the Romulans during such conflicts, nor playing them against each other and their rivals, but this was dangerous and risked showing their weakness to other Orions, and therefore rare. However, some could get desperate to keep their jobs, even to the point of taking over a company in a coup d'état. Internal struggles and intra-corporate conflict were less common and less bloody, but generally involved more employees and resources. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
Across their various planets, Orion governments were a mixture of monarchies, oligarchies, a handful of republics, and a few societies that appeared to Federation sociologists to be in total anarchy. None were larger than the planetary level. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book) More complete Orion governments were democratic, with elections held for public posts on most Orion Colonies and in the vestigial nations of the homeworld. Those Colonies with planet-wide civil governments followed the Botchok Planetary Congress model. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
Government simply did not matter to or interest Orions, whether they claimed towns or planets: they had no real authority or power over the actions of people, businesses or families. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge) The weakest and most unstable power structure in Orion society, governments handled the unwanted tasks of maintaining public services and keeping records. The core part of Orion government was its bureaucracy, which administered each Colony and did what it could to stay in power. Its duties were to issue permits and licenses, carry out inspections and accept bribes. Their power was minor—even the homeworld had to rent ships to patrol its space and defend itself—but they were the first choices for alien powers unfamiliar with Orion ways and wishing to negotiate, which gave the governments some influence and leverage. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) Although necessary, Orions found little profit in the public services of government, such as street cleaning, space-port maintenance or garbage collection. When a profit could be made, enterprising Orions quickly developed a business for it and charged desperate customers. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge) Thus local Orion governments closely resembled loose patchworks of individual subcontractors paid by the local caju to negotiate with foreigners, construct public works, run court systems and so on. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
Another role of Orion government was diplomacy, originally exchanging envoys and ambassadors as nothing more than a way to keep in touch and provide busy-work for needy civil servants and poor nobles. These diplomats grew in influence as the Federation and other alien powers sought Orion authority with which to negotiate, but they had little more than their words and reputations to back them up. Though their power was only persuasive, diplomats could negotiate settlements between miscreants and complainants to stop some activity, usually with currency or other valuables. Though considered undignified and mercenary, it was effective in providing a useful role for Orion governments and policing their society. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
Only the Orion homeworld was developed enough to possess significant government and legal entities, though its influence on the rest of the species was no greater than that of any other group of Orions. This homeworld was either: Botchok (Rigel VIII), and governed by the Botchok Planetary Congress (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge; Kolar (Rigel VII) and dominated by the Vaj, simply, the 'Empire', and other kingdoms (Decipher RPG module: Worlds, Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book); or the world known as Orion. In Orion society, there was a clear cultural distinction and rivalry between the homeworld and the Orion Colonies (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge).
- See main article: Orion Syndicate
One of the most significant and dominant organizations within Orion space was the Orion Syndicate. By the 23rd century, it was a mercantile organization, but it evolved into an interplanetary criminal organization in the 24th century.
- The definition of a 'syndicate' as 'a group of individuals or companies formed to transact some specific business, or to promote a common interest; a self-coordinating group' (Wiktionary:Syndicate) indicates that the Orion Syndicate may have begun as an alliance of businesses or caju and may still be one. Its frequent reference implies that it may be a dominant force over the Colonies, but this has never been expressly stated, and is often contradicted.
|families||Althori • Balun • Beldav • Benara • Bilat • Cholifir • Emark • Faktim • Gamashes • Glachies • Heilen • Hjulah • Holcomb • Ignatin • Juruh • Kerav • Keros • Lifaq • Liktor • Mozinphar • Nomab • Ofish • Otram • Prochem • Simri • Sohola • Teish • Thentak • Thylaster • Tumbel • U'taliis • Voltab • Wal • Yungots|
|groups||Five Families • Thirat Group|
|corporations||Duraba Corporation • Flagine Corporation • Flugol Corporation • Syrenya Development Company • The Star Group • Volgas Food and Transport|
Internally, there were clear cultural divisions and rivalries between the Colonies, between each other and with the homeworld of Botchok (Rigel VIII). The homeworld, of course, was not itself a Colony, but was usually counted as one. However, they were still bound by trade and sentiment, with the homeworld serving as the spiritual and cultural home of the Orions, and the colonials bringing wealth through trade with aliens. However, a secret war of diplomacy and intelligence was waged by the Orion Colonies Intelligence to maintain the BPC's control, while each competed for the right to choose the future of the Orions. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
The Orions maintained a policy of neutrality towards the great starfaring civilizations, via the Orion Neutrality Act. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book)
Originally the Orions saw the new-born Federation as a good opportunity for trade, and appreciated Starfleet's control of the pirates. However, they resented its later expansion into Orion space, its annexing of over a third of their territory and the bans placed on slavery, while their space became almost a Federation protectorate and their neutrality a joke. The Federation was seen as arrogant, overbearing, self-righteous, self-proclaimed do-gooders, with no history or respect, that simply proclaimed laws enforced by Starfleet and didn't make deals the Orion way. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge) Orions called the Federation F'deraxt'la, referring to a person born of three parents, all of whom were related. (TOS novel: Prime Directive)
Conversely, they loved Humans and distinguished between them and the Federation. This stemmed from an Orion fascination with Earth's culture and history up to the 20th century that began in the mid-22nd century. Humans were seen as potential Orion soulmates, forced by circumstance into forming the Federation; a sect on Gabok almost worshipped them. Though Humans of the time were far different from what they were centuries before, there were many outside the Federation in Orion space that adapted to their ways with ease and proved the Orion's point.
After being dominated twice by the Klingon Empire, relations between it at the Orions were awkward and they did not appear to get along well. The Klingons distrusted and loathed the Orions and used the Colonies they'd conquered for slaves, and difficult ones at that. However, there was trade of goods and intelligence, as the Colonies balanced their equal-opportunity neutrality with the Empire, though piracy was low due to Klingon reprisals. They also tapped a hidden Klingon desire for luxury in the austere people. Orions referred to Klingons as Klong, meaning 'the Wall'.
Relations with the Romulans were few and frosty, beginning with the massacre of several Orion Colonies and the disappearances of trade expeditions. There were starship battles and piracy in the Triangle and rumors of trade, but little could be confirmed. By the late 23rd century, some information had been exchanged, and tentative trade led to a slight thawing in relations. Orions were said to find Romulans to be 'stuffy'. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
- See main article: Orion history.
The Orions inhabited a number of worlds scattered across the Orion sector, particularly throughout the Orion constellation and near the mineral-rich Orion Nebula, and in the rimward frontier sectors of the Federation in the Alpha Quadrant. Major population centers were Rigel, Saiph II and Betelgeuse XIII. (Last Unicorn RPG modules: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book, Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book)
There was no official self-given name for the area of space that was predominantly occupied by the Orion race, which was centered on the Rigel system in the Orion sector of the Beta Quadrant. The official territory of the Colonies was a 20-parsec-wide sphere centered on Rigel known as the Orion Neutrality Area, in which the BPC could enforce the Orion Neutrality Act. More commonly, it was referred to as simply 'Orion space'. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, ENT novel: Rosetta, TOS novels: Death Count, Wagon Train to the Stars, DS9 novel: Wrath of the Prophets) Some Orions referred to the area excluding Rigel as Thana Kolari, or "Extended Orion". (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
- Presumably Thana Kolari refers to the area once claimed by the Thakolarivaj.
Outside its borders lay Federation space and the Klingon Empire, while the Klingon Neutral Zone ran through it, but more Orion Colonies could be found in these areas too—up to Argelius II and spreading in the Federation, and it was unknown how deep into Klingon space. There were no Colonies to be found within the Romulan Star Empire, following the massacre of the Farx Colony. It was speculated that guerilla bands might survive on conquered worlds, or a Colony preserved for research or slavery, but there was no evidence for this. Some worlds and states kept strict controls on the activities of resident Orions, such as the Federation's Orion Emigration Act, which they did their best to evade. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
Everything outside Orion space was called the Outer Dark, unknown regions from which few trading ships came and which the Orions tentatively probed. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
The Orion homeworld, sometimes called "Orion" was in the Rigel system, identified variously as Botchok (Rigel VIII) or Kolar (Rigel VII). They had been dominant there for more than a thousand years, and it was a prime, strategic location. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
A large number of Orion colony worlds lay within the United Federation of Planets, outside the Orion Neutrality Area and on the Federation side of the Klingon Neutral Zone. Some were Federation members or were sold to Federation businesses, and some were occupied by Starfleet. Others had Orion colonies with close ties to the Federation, and some were former Orion colonies that had been abandoned and settled by Federation colonists. The Orion border was one of the most active and volatile around the Federation. Trade through it was heavy, and Orion pirates often worked its edges, which kept Starfleet busy policing the area.
On the other side of the Klingon Neutral Zone were number of Orion colony worlds within the Klingon Empire. Most were conquered or annexed by the Empire, or were former Orion colonies that had been abandoned and settled by Klingon colonists. Little was known about Orion Colonies held by the Klingon Empire in the late 23rd century, but it was apparent that some worlds were quarantined for fear that Orion wealth and luxury would prove a dangerous temptation to certain unprincipled and unscrupulous elements of Klingon society. Only specially chosen governors with thoroughly tested staff were permitted to live and work on these worlds.
The Orions profited by the Organian Peace Treaty and the declaration of the Klingon Neutral Zone, which limited expansion of both powers into this region of space. Orions had almost free reign to establish new Colonies here and to trade with many other worlds in the Zone, with no laws to stop them. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)