Orion Colonies

“There was a time when our ships crossed the Galaxy, and when our glorious privateers reigned supreme in space. Now? Now all we have left is a dozen worlds and a thousand monuments to past glories. We've become a god-damned tourist attraction. Open Nine to Five…Earth time.” Tolandos Ren, Orion Ambassador to the Federation, 2362.

History

Prehistory

The Orion Colonies date back long beyond the recorded history of every Federation world; archaeological digs across Known Space have uncovered Orion artefacts in many 'Precursor' civilisations. About this, they say nothing; Orion civilisation has risen and fallen numerous times over hundreds of thousands of years, seemingly stronger during the 'Dark Ages' of history.

Federation Contact

When the Federation first reached the Rigel system, the Orion trade empire spanned hundreds of light years, with colonies and outposts spread across twenty sectors. Initially, they viewed humanity as a potential kindred spirit – indeed, to an extent, this belief continues – but they slowly saw the Federation and consequent civilising of their space as a threat to the Orion way of life.

For a time, the famed Orion Pirates had rich pickings on the increased volume of trade, but the strengthening Starfleet rendered this increasingly problematic, and during the 22nd century, a serious of serious reverses were experienced. Gradually, the Orions were being pushed out of sectors where they had held economic dominance as Federation laws – and corporations – moved in.

The Balance of Power

A series of brilliant leaders went some way towards reversing this trend in the 23rd century. No-one has ever proven that the Orions were responsible for the failed first contact with the Klingons, and consequent cold war, but it seems a reasonable supposition, and the return of the Romulans to galactic affairs provided the Orions with a golden opportunity to play three sides against each other, a role they played with consumate skill. It seemed – despite a few reverses – that the Orion star was on the rise once again.

This changed with the Khitomer Accords. Within a couple of years, the Klingon Empire became an increasingly steadfast ally of the Federation. Shortly after that, at the Tomed Incident, the Romulan Star Empire retreated from galactic affairs once again.

The Orion Wars

Forced to tie their hopes to such lesser powers as the Imperial Klingon State and the Gorn Alliance, the Orions failed to adapt to the changing situation, and Starfleet began to dedicate itself to the 'Orion Wars' – the removal of the 'Orion pirate threat' from Federation space. Skirmishes would take place across five sectors, and underground, Starfleet Intelligence fought the greatest war of its life, hunting down pirate clans, slaver rings, and criminal syndicates.

Such a war could never be truly over, and its echoes would continue into the 2350s, but to all intends and purposes any hold the Orions had over Federation and Klinzhai territory had ended by the 2330s. The few remaining pirate clans holed up in rat-holes such as the IKS, or the Romulan Neutral Zone – some even fled into uncharted space, hoping for a new chance among the stars.

As of 2365, the Orion Colonies are – in all but name – a Federation protectorate. Fully 35% of the Orion race lives on Federation planets as Federation citizens in any case, with many ironically serving in Starfleet. A similar proportion lives outside the Federation, in areas such as the Draconis Outback, some as masters of their own puppet states. The Colonies maintain a small, but highly efficient space fleet that retains some vestiges of its privateer origins, and though the greatest excesses of the past are curtailed, a thriving criminal underground still exists on those worlds. As their economic power continues to wane, they are not considered a serious threat to the Federation, though pirate attacks do continue in frontier sectors.

Politics

The Orion Colonies are governed as a plutocracy by a cabal of merchant princes; those who have the wealth rule, though this is largely concealed by a labyrinthine bureaucracy. There is a frequent turnover in rulership, though the consistent theme of working to expand Orion merchant influence is maintained. Individual planets are run in the same way, though it is more likely to find a single ruler of each planet. There are records in the halls of archives dating back tens of thousands of years that suggest that this system was being employed that long ago.

Military

The Orions maintain the Orion Space Navy, a small fleet that is based around commerce raiding and hit-and-run attacks, rather than sustained fleet action. There are no larger vessels, the fleet instead opting to maintain a larger fleet of long-range raiders. Federation strategists have drawn the analogy of the U-Boat fleets employed by the German Navy in the first two World Wars on Earth. There is no standing army; the Orions generally hire mercenaries from powers such as the Imperial Klingon State or the Gorn Alliance should this prove necessary.

Major Powers of the Old Frontier
United Federation of Planets
Imperial Klingon State
Kzinti Patriarchy
Orion Colonies