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.]Culture:
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....Cartels:
The Orion Syndicate is divided into many cartels, their exact number are unknown. Starfleet Intellience has compiled information on some of the larger cartels:
Alex Wyldefire is the greatest Buccaneer ever to sail the blackness of space. He has single handedly carved out an empire from a single ship, the Happy Jack. He and his crew raided for years through ISC space always getting away in the nick of time with the goods and the glory. Alex aided the Federation during the war of pacification, passing on vital information in exchange for whatever he needed. Since that time, Alex has formed with other flamboyant buccaneers to form the Wyldefire Compact, a loose group of pirates set on making a little money, acquiring a lot of glory, and helping the weak and poor whenever possible.
Anyone that has any sort of ship can enter the compact as long as they abide by the rules of Wyldefire. Many freighter hulls, including captured luxury liners, have been converted into makeshift priate ships. While the rag tag group may not be the prettiest of the cartels, they are by far the most flamboyant and brave.
Crimson Shadow / House of Korgath
This organisation is as much a Klingon House as they are a Pirate cartel. House Kargoth has been shunned from the Klingon high council but still control some strategic worlds in the empire. They have used these worlds as bases of operation for their raiding activities. Kargoth, the founder of the house, plans to take the high council by force as soon as he has the power to do so.
The Cartel is unique in that they are a fusion between a cartel and a military force. The Crimson Shadow even employs Klingon warships from time to time. Their arsenal includes disruptors and missiles as primary weapons, but also utilise photons, phasers, hellbores, and fusion beams.
This organization is an anti-matter reactor ready to explode. The Camboro cartel is a collection of Kzinti and Lyran criminals that hate their former empires more than they hate each other. Human, Andorian, and Orion members of the cartel act as a buffer between the Kzinti and Lyran members. This Cartel hates everyone they meet. They have no sympathy for anyone that they steal from. Slash and burn is the policy of the Camboro Pirates.
This Cartel likes to get up close and personal with their pray. They normally lead with waves of missiles before closing in with disruptors, ESG's, and photons set on overload. They have many transporters on their ships as they love fighting hand to hand.
Tiger Heart Cartel
Tiger Heart cartel is comprised mostly of Lyran outcasts. This is a very proud cartel and is pretty honorable as pirates go, since they know what its like to be shunned by their own people. This cartel likes to operate in smaller packs, joining only when big trouble arises. This makes every section of the cartel independent and hard to eliminate as a whole, but at the expense of some overall power to the cartel itself.
The Tiger heart Cartel is the only non-military organisation to use fast patrol ships. These are stolen and replicated Lyran PFs modified to Tiger Heart needs. The Tiger Heart clan prefers small ships and does not utilise any ship larger than a CA. They prefer to use swarm tactics of several waves of drones in conjunction with ESGs and disruptors.
It is known by many that the first contact between the Gorn and the Federation was not peaceful. Many Federation settlers of Cestus III where killed by the Gorn during a "misunderstanding". The predominately Asian surivors of the massacre happened to be part of ancient criminal organisations called the Yukuza and Triads. They had joined the colonist as a way to travel to a new part of the Beta Quadrant to apply their trade. When the attack occurred they saw their opportunity to grab vital supplies and ships from the destroyed colony.
Life in the Syndicate is about honor and obedience. These traits are rewarded and successful members live a very good life. Breaking tradition is a quick way to your grave. The Syndicates uses Federation and Gorn technology mostly but have recently spread their operation to ISC space.
Prime Industries (unknown to be Orion cartel...)
Prime Industries is run more like a business than a family or band of smugglers. The cartel is very organised and accepts only the most professional pirates into their organisation. Prime does not tolerate sloppy operations and will, if necessary, remove members that are not up to the high standards of Prime.
Prime ships tend to employ long ranged weapons, and they have traded with other cartels to receive weapons that generally would not be available to them. Prime is also considered to be the most technologically advanced cartel. Their ships generally use PPDs, photons, plasmas, phasers, and occasionally hellbores.
The Beast Raiders are one of the stranger cartels. The rest of the cartels are uneasy with the Beast Raiders because they do not understand them; they cannot ascertain if the Beast Raiders are pirates or some sort of religious cult. They use money gathered from raids to buy drugs in order to enhance their psychic abilities. The strongest members of this cartel can then summon the help from mammoth space creatures. These creatures are used for some unknown purpose to advance some unknown agenda.
The Beast Raiders use many types of weapons in order to compliment the abilities of the space creatures the control.
D'Nesh, Devna, Harrad-Sar, Maras, Marta, Navaar, S'sana, S'zama, Vikstaad-Jaanz.Author's Notes: 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. The cartel information is taken from Starfleet Battles and was used in the Interplay Game Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates.