The Orion Syndicate was first encountered in 2154 by Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise, NX-01. The Orions had kidnapped some of the crew to sell as slaves and Archer went back to retrieve them. The events were actually an elaborate escape plan by Doctor Soong to escape custody which, in the event, failed.
The planet Orion was once a highly advanced civilization whose history has drawn great interest from Federation historians and archaeologists alike. Federation archaeologist, Doctor Roger Korby, translated medical records from the Orion ruins that helped revolutionize modern immunization techniques and became required reading at Starfleet Academy.
To the outsider, Orion males are huge green hulk-like powerful beings that are the Trade Princes of the Universe. They are honourable as far as a trade deal goes, unless there is a bigger deal to be made. Orion males tend to have body piercings and bolts screwed into their heads as decoration. The Orion Merchant prince tends to dominate the blackmarket trading in an area, with the rivals usually being `persuaded` to move on or simply vanish.
In Orion society the males are slaves to the females. As a means of deception to other species, however, the Orions maintain the facade that the females are the slaves. This is commonly done by selling Orion females on the Orion slave market. (ENT: "Borderland"; TOS: "The Cage")
Once sold to a male, the Orion slave girls use their unique physiology to their advantage; their highly potent pheromones accelerates the metabolisms of males of many species, raising adrenaline production to dangerous levels which causes aggression and ultimately a form of delusion. Its most significant effect is to make them susceptible to suggestion. Not long after, the "owner" males begin taking orders from their "slave" females. Human females react negatively to those same pheromones, experiencing headaches and Denobulan males find their sleep cycles interrupted by them. However, Vulcans are immune to effects of the pheromones. The pheromones effects are cumulative, the longer exposed the more pronounced the results are.
In 2155 Dr. Phlox of the Enterprise NX-01 theorized that the pheromone acts as a defense mechanism against competition. (ENT: "Bound") [Description taken from Memory Alpha.]
Orions are all about business. Business with no rules and no limits. Business is about building up a trade relationship and from this relationship building up influence and more business connections and so on. The orion Syndicate is an etherial construct, it doesn't exist in terms of a map on a wall, but it is more a shadow empire which covers the political speres of many other races. Orions travel across borders and go wherever there are business deals to be made.
Orions trade in any goods: drugs, slaves, weapons, food, gas and brides. Whatever trade makes the business deal, the Orions will trade in it. This is why the Orions are policed upon so heavily by the [by comparison] rules-laden Federation. Orions are often described in terms of being "Pirates", whereas actually the Orions are merely engaging in obtaining the goods that their customer wants to have. The fact that somebody already claims to possess the object is of no concern to an Orion.
I had to think what the difference between Ferengi and Orions is. Well, firstly at this juncture in time we haven't met the ferengi [I'm ignoring the appearance in Enterprise as we 'don't know' about it being Ferengi]. Secondly both races seem to trade, so what is the difference?
The simple answer I came up with is that whilst the Ferengi are the capitalist profit-makers of Star Trek, Orions are more the blackmarketeers of Star Trek. No ethics, no qualms about what they trade, an orion will trade to gain morer trade and make more connections. Whereas a Ferengi wont trade if theres no profit, an Orion will trade if theer will be favours in return which will benefit their future enterprises.
Orions have no ethics on trade, they are the CD and movie downloaders of Star Trek, they are the bloke in the pub with the watches off the back of a lorry. Stolen goods is simply goods acquired through other means. Whilst the Ferengi aspire to buy their own moon, the Orions aspire to build a shadow empire of trade and deals.
Orions are the merchant princes of the universe, trading to gain power and influence in the area. This is the frontier of the Federation and a little beyond that, and if the Orions can gain influence then that will aid them double - foiling Federation expansion whilst gaining the Orions another bolthole.
Watch out for Orion influences, you just don't know how far it may have reached...
Orions arrived on the colony of Nimbus III in the years before the Galactic Planet of Peace was ever established as such. The Orions saw an opportunity to exploit the resources of the planet and gain a foothold on the world. Business means influence and influence brings power and empire.
Welcome to the Venus Club - a newer, much larger, version of the bar which was the central feature in Paradise City, Nimbus III. Run by an Orion merchant prince - Vikstaad Jaanz - the club provides multiple floors of gambling, drinking and assorted other entertainments. Orion slave girls lurk around the site as well - there are always two flanking Vikstaad.
On the surface the club presents a very respectable facad, with burly alien bouncers on the door ready to repel any uninvited guests or drunks. Jaanz also encourages a relaxed atmosphere with no uniforms - one wonders if this is because he doesn't want security sniffing around his business.
Whenever visiting Nimbus III, this is the place to come to enjoy yourself - if you have the credits, it's also a place to make deals and find that elusive something you are looking for...
Gambling machines jingle, credits change hands, music blars with exotic dancers, whilst there are always quiet tables for quiet chats too...
As Quark showed in DS9 by applying to join the Orion Syndicate, the Orions are something the Ferengi aspire to be....
The tattoos and markings on the males could be similar to the gang markings on Yakuza and Russian Mafia members, signifying allegiance to a specific syndicate or clan. Orion females come with red, black green and blue hair – the latter an addition from myself as a complimentary colour to their skin. Orion males are bald; whether by tradition or genetics. Orions seem to have phenotypes matching extremes of hormones – the males like high testosterone with aggression, baldness and muscular build and the females with high drives, pheromones and physical characteristics for attracting a mate. S’sana, a hybrid Orion-Romulan was never in the Syndicate, although evidence suggests her mother S’zama works with Vikstaad Jaanz.
“Underground railroad for slaves to become free” – now this works in the JJ-verse and conflicts with ENT: Bound. If the Orion females are the ones in charge, why are they ‘escaping’ from their life? Unless the chains of slavery are too heavy a burden for actually being the ones in power? The Star Trek comic Reunion talked about Gaila being given away by her mother Vila to a Pacari representative as a gift. This highlights both females as being slaves but also being in charge. This is something that could easily be incorporated into the prime universe. In order to expand influence and build the ‘shadow empire’, Orion children are often sold into slavery in order to find their niche and expand the black-market network; whether through illegal sales, sex workers or trafficking goods and immigrants, there are many routes for Orion children to find their market and makea name for themselves. Orions selling their children is maintained as a ‘cultural tradition’ by the Orions. The Syndicate is keen to prey on Federation sensibilities to respect and observe the traditions of other cultures – although any illegal activities in Federation space is prosecuted as thus. The trafficking of migrants, sex workers and slaves is the bread-and-butter of Orion Syndicate operations. The availability of trading ships with various technologies to circumvent tracking and registration allows them to slip across borders and take their nefarious trade with them. Everything is seen as purely business in the Orion world and trading living beings is no different than drugs, weapons or other illegal materials.
The Orion presence in Federation space dates back to prior to the Coalition of Planets when the Orions would trade between worlds. This foundation allowed them to continue their trade of black-market goods, trafficking and illegal activities in the Coalition and United Federation of Planets. The ‘social acceptance’ of this trade – especially on the outer colonies – promoted the expansion of the Orion Syndicate ‘shadow empire’ across the Federation in synchrony as it grew. Culturally, although the United Federation of Planets stands for freedom, equality and against oppression, the Orion ability to provide hard-to-obtain goods and ‘entertainment’ services (drugs and women) was welcome on the fledgling colonies with minimal resources. Hawkins encountered this first-hand when he was around seven years old on a mining colony of Radley’s Reach in the Beta Quadrant. The friendly miners actually resorted to bar fights Western-style under the influence of Orion pheromones. By 2312 the Orions are prevalent in the Beta Quadrant with some presence in the Alpha Quadrant. Political borders are of no interest to the ‘neutral’ Orions who are able to pass across from one nation to another, providing goods, services and ‘personnel’ to their ‘clients’. Conflicts (especially the Klingon-Federation war of 2256) provide an uplift to Orion trade both during and immediately after the fighting as the Orions provide vital or hard-to-obtain materials at an uplifted price. Interstellar law is treated as an irrelevance in the face of making good business; trafficking, weapons, medical supplies, technology, drugs and sex slaves are all part of the Orion Syndicate business model.
The ending of hostilities between the Klingon and Federation and the disbanding of the Neutral Zone has not affected the cross-border trading of the Orions; what has happened, however, if the lack of hostilities has allowed the border patrol forces of both nations to focus on the illegal activities of the Orion Syndicate and start to close them down. Starfleet headquarters has also initiated a ‘house cleaning’ exercise to sweep out corruption in Starfleet personnel following the Khitomer Conspiracy of 2293. Amongst the influences that Starfleet wants to remove entirely is those officers and personnel ‘compromised’ by the Orion Syndicate. Applying a similar policy amongst governors and colonial officials is proving much harder to apply, given the distances involved from authority and the ‘resistance’ of the colonists to having the Orions removed from their territory. It’s easier to turn a blind eye to Orion trading in the colony in return for happy, contented colonists. Of interest to social scientists is the ‘acceptance’ of counterfeit and black-market goods by Federation citizens. Drug-use and prostitution, Centuries-old practices, have still not died out by the 23rd and 24th centuries – they are just under new ownership and taken to new places by the use of chemical engineering and pheromones respectively. The social need of colonists for entertainment, escapism and sexual release has fuelled the need for the Orion Syndicate to extend its influence over the Federation. The modern twists on narcotics and prostitution are that the drugs are produced in professional laboratories and designer – maximising addiction and the level of high whilst minimising the risk of fatalities to the client (that’s bad for business). For the escort there’s the promise of something unattainable elsewhere, for delights both extreme and perverse to be sated and with no risk of infections or diseases. For colonists this leads to fighting and competition to bed the green Orion slaves, whilst leading to sexual disappointment with their regular partners and available colonists afterwards. Of course this disappointment can be remedied by Orion-provided tablets to aid in that department (Mudd’s Women-style).
The Orion Syndicate likes to operate in places that are removed from the prying eyes of Federation or Klingon patrol ships and legal apparatus. Outer colonies and neutral planets are a favoured location for Orion Syndicate activities. People-trafficking and slavery auctions are usually performed in temporary, highly-mobile operations that minimise the risk of commando raids and compromising by intelligence and police agencies. Whilst non-Orions are included within the Syndicate operations, Orions keep the planning and strategic aspects of the Syndicate within their species. This keeps the communications chain internal and helps to prevent intelligence intercepts. Orion operations also hide within highly-active merchant planets and cities, keeping their nefarious trade in the backstreets with informants to keep them one step ahead of the police. For the right price, any species can be obtained for either servitude or sexual pleasure. A slave-to-measure service is offered, with individuals treated and traded as property.
Verex III in the Borderland shows clearly what a slave trading facility is like with its rough-and-ready facilities for rapid re-location, holding cells for the new slaves and a bidding area where the clients use PADDs to bid for the slave, the top bids being dynamically displayed on a screen to encourage higher and higher bids. The slaves have restraints attached to their necks to prevent escape, these now being far more advanced versions of those Archer encountered. Farius Prime in the Alpha Quadrant is another world that the Orion Syndicate has a major presence in, utilising the neutrality of the planet and role as a merchant trading hub to smuggle in illegal goods and trafficked people, before changing vessels to ship the slaves or migrants off to their next destination. Where sex trafficking is involved there is often a trade in narcotics alongside this, both for feeding a deliberate addiction in the slaves but also for the pleasure of clients with the prostitutes. The Orion Syndicate entertainment shadow empire is nothing short of thorough.
Nimbus III, the Planet of Galactic Peace, is the latest neutral planet to be identified with a significant Orion Syndicate presence. From the earliest days of the planet as a neutral worlds with all three major Beta Quadrant nations resident, the Orions saw that this could operate as a hub for their operations. The planet soon descended into drought and anarchy as the three governments, one by one, grew tired of the project and ceased any trade runs. With the residents in serious risk of starvation and the colony collapsing, the Orions made their move. Vikstaad Jaanz, an Orion merchant operating the Venus Club in Paradise City, approached the alcoholic Federation representative St John Talbot with a proposal to save the colony from collapse – at a price. For Talbot, sent to Nimbus III in disgrace, a second black mark in his career would spell the end for it. It was a deal with the devil and one that Talbot knew he’d potentially live to regret. The Orions would send freighters to Nimbus III to supply them with enough food for the colony to survive, products and technology to keep the food crops alive and ‘entertainment’ for the colonists. In return, the Orions wanted to have a blind eye turned to them operating a trading hub off-world, protected by the neutrality of both the planet and the zone in which it was located.
Bringing agricultural technology to Nimbus III was a backdoor method for the Orions cultivating narcotic plants on the planet. Advanced pharmaceutical technology that the Orions had ‘obtained’ was then used to refine the planet into the final sellable technology. Alongside this cultivating, the Orions had biochemical and medical facilities for the development of engineered designer drugs and illegal medicines and technologies, for selling on to wealthy clients. Starfleet Intelligence has postulated that the Orion Syndicate has a symbiotic relationship with some of the larger mega-corporations, developing medical products out-of-sight on planets without the stringent testing and product creation legislation of the Federation. In a ‘concession’ to the spirit of Nimbus III, illegal arms trading was not performed on the planet. When Nimbus III was re-discovered, and the three sponsoring governments began an intensive programme of regenerating the planet, the Orions were well placed to integrate their operations into the expanded and improved colony.
D'Nesh, Devna, Harrad-Sar, Maras, Marta, Navaar, S'sana, S'zama, Vikstaad-Jaanz.
We have seen Orions in various Star Trek episodes over the decades: TOS: The Cage, TOS: The Menagerie pt. 2, TOS: Journey to Babel, TOS: Whom the Gods Destroy, TAS: The Time Trap, TAS: The Pirates of Orion, DS9 Honor Among Thieves, ENT: Borderland, ENT: Bound and ENT: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II. In addition there have been appearances in novels such as Ganz in "ST: Vanguard Harbinger" by David Mack and ST: Lost Era "Well of Souls" by Ilsa J Blick. In the shows until ST: Enterprise, the Orion Syndicate was referred to extensively in DS9 as being a sort of mafia type organisation to which the likes of Quark wanted to apply. By the time of their reappearance in Borderland, they were back to being slave traders and green-skinned. The term "Orion Syndicate" was clarified to be the name of the political organisation which the Orions reside in.