Grey Orions were a subrace of the Orions, a scientifically and technically adept caste held prisoner by their array of crippling handicaps.
Grey Orions were a humanoid species related to the Green Orions and Ruddy Orions, but they tended to be shorter, slighter, quite frail and much weaker than their racial cousins, and less charismatic, but also a little more dexterous and great deal more intelligent. Their numbers were small, making up at most 5% of the Orion population (though they once numbered nearly 20%).
Their primary difference was their coloration, with skin ranging from a light gray to a charcoal black. In strong sunlight, this would tan with a deep metallic hue. Their hair and eye colors were similar, and usually matched the skin color. Their hair was straight and stiff, and their teeth were large and naturally yellow. Between their appearance and their disabilities and deformities, Grey Orions suffered a frightful aspect.
But the most significant aspect of their biology was their inherent genetic damage, which inflicted a wide range of random mutations, deformities, handicaps and physical and mental disabilities upon them at birth, of varying severity. Though inherited, these were unpredictable, and a Grey Orion could suffer from one to a half dozen such conditions, sometimes minor (though enough to be a problem), sometimes quite major, and sometimes opposing, contradicting or even balancing each other. These included:
- Allergies to food, requiring a special diet
- Allergies to natural materials, synthetic materials, plants, animals, people or light, leading to skin eruptions or respiratory difficulties
- Anxiety: emotional problems and fear about new and unknown activities or dealing with people.
- Balance problems due to faults in the inner ear
- Baldness or increased hair all over the body.
- Cardiac weakness against exertion
- Constant itching
- Cystic fibrosis
- Depression: a chronic depression or even a chronic sense of euphoria, or a manic depression.
- Digestive disorders, constant abdominal pain or nausea
- Epilepsy, or stress-related convulsions that lead to uncontrolled attacks upon people or vandalism of a room
- Hearing problems, from tinnitus to impaired hearing to total deafness.
- Hormonal immaturity, causing the body to never grow to adulthood, with possible childish behavior (though with an adult mind)
- Hydrocephaly, an enlarged and possibly asymmetrical head.
- Immune deficiency disorders, leading to an inability to resist disease
- Insensitivity to cuts, burns, bruises, even to all pain or a total numbness to all feeling
- Missing or deformed body parts, from a hand or a foot to whole limbs
- Missing or displaced facial features, such as an eye, ear, nose, or mouth (requiring being fed through a tube)
- Myasthenia gravis, a chronic muscle weakness
- Neurofibromatosis, or Elephant Man's Disease, causing tumors to grow throughout the body.
- Obesity or an inability to gain weight, becoming skeletally thin
- Ossification, with bony growth over the joints
- Palsies, from facial twitching to bodily shaking, occasional or constant
- Premature aging
- Plated skin, rendering the skin into a coarse pattern of horn-like plates or scales, across all skin and causing hair to fall out.
- Sensitivity to dust or humidity (small quantities of either lead to respiratory arrest), heat (leading to heat exhaustion), or cold (causing hypothermia).
- Smell: no sense of smell or an over-sensitivity of smell
- Skin coloration: instead of being Grey, sometimes they appear Ruddy or Green or another color, or even striped or spotted like a halfbreed.
- Skin rashes, eruptions, ulcers, blisters, peeling, even shedding skin down to raw flesh
- Skin sensitivity to light (causing burns), touch or pressure (causing pain).
- Spastic paralysis
- Too many or too few fingers and toes
- Vision problems, such as distorted vision (astigmatism), short-sightedness, far-sightedness, color-blindness (red-green, blue-green, yellow-orange, or complete black-and-white vision), night-blindness, day-blindness, or total blindness.
- Water retention, severe
A very few lucky Grey Orions were born with no handicap at all, or one so minor as to not be a problem, or perhaps a perfect balance of opposing conditions, and were left completely normal. However, most faked a handicap to avoid the attention of their non-Grey masters.
With constant and expensive medical care, most Grey Orions would die outside their guldin. These sealed, controlled environments and life-support chambers, together with supplies of medicines and drugs and regulated diets kept Grey Orions alive and as healthy as they could be. However, Grey Orions were allergic to some treatments, such as ocular compounds like Retinax V, and the destruction of Orion medical knowledge that accompanied the genetic curse on the Grey Orions meant that available treatments are limited or unknown.
On average, not including the effects of various illnesses, Greys typically lived shorter lives and aged faster than other Orions. Physical and mental deterioration began around age 40, with only a few decades left to them. They usually died of old age, of their conditions, or in a rare moment of physical exertion, perhaps after slipping into a coma.
Traditionally, Grey Orions were at the forefront of Orion scientific advance and their careful quest for liberation, and they formed one of the two dominant castes of their society. Interracial conflict however saw them deposed and ruined, their history erased and their genetic code mutilated, leaving them as the most powerless slaves of other Orions.
- See main article: Orion history
The aliens that enslaved the Orions created a hierarchy of the three Orion subraces, with Ruddy Orions on top and acting as overseers and intermediaries, the Grey Orions slightly below and handling the technical work, and the Green Orions at the bottom performing manual labor and fighting their proxy wars. The Greys had a tendency towards insubordination, or deviating from their duties to learn forbidden knowledge.
Grey Orions first rose to positions of prominence in business and government in the Orion slave-states during the rebuilding of Botchok (Rigel VIII), during the First Stage after the Atom War of 12,237 BCE (reference stardate -142/37).
In 10,529 BCE (stardate -125/29), so-called 'working groups' of Grey Orion slaves were quietly taken from Botchok to other planets to act as skilled labor, in violation of the Treaty of Kammzdast that governed the use of Orion slaves. Despite this, their use became widespread in less than a thousand years afterwards.
Three thousand years after the Atom War, a contingent of Orion representatives (all Grey or Ruddy) from the twelve largest nations on Botchok reported that the planet's ecology was critically endangered, having never truly recovered from the Long Winter after the Atom War, and that it would fail completely in another millennium. Surprising their masters, the Orions volunteered to make terraforming repairs with their own labor, money and technology. The Accord of Namazz granted them this right in 9143 BCE (stardate -111/43), and gave the Orions their first taste of self-governance. Grey Orions did much of the work in planning the re-ecologizing efforts.
Not long after, on 9050 BCE (stardate -110/50), the Rigellian detained a Grey Orion named Talduk Sik, who was part of a technical working group about to leave the Rigel system. They kept him for a few days, in which he was carefully studied and interviewed. This was the first Orion that they the Rigellians examined, and they began to feel forebodings about them. The Grey Orions found it to be a mystical experience, and to the modern day some continued to think of the Rigellians as their Makers.
In March, 8486 BCE (stardate -104/8603), Grey Orions were instrumental in secretly diverting industrial resources on Sharu, producing textiles, jewellery and calculators for their own purposes. Though small and unimportant, this marked the first moment of Orion economic self-supply on an alien world. After this, around 8000 BCE (stardate -100/00), the Orions began to smuggle technology back to Botchok and the colonies.
Grey Orions were also the first of the Orion slave-race to be allowed to serve on alien starships, in 8191 BCE (stardate -101/91), acting as navigators and computer operators, though with no official mention of their presence.
When the Orion Alliance was formed in secret in September 7901 BCE (stardate -99/0109), with the aim of liberating the Orion slaves, its membership was purely Ruddy and Grey. Its first chairman was Klendal Hanok the Liberator, a Grey Orion, who warned that the liberation of the Orions would only come after many generations of patient work, and so subtly that hardly anyone would notice.
Grey Orions later played a key part in the Bema revolt of October 7822 BCE (stardate -98/2210). When a protest over working conditions evolved into a demand for the liberation of all Orion slaves, the Grey Julin Hyrax the Brave volunteered his 3000 Grey Orions to help stop the revolt. After the distrustful Magistrate of Bema refused, Julin led his force, unarmed, against the 50,000-plus rebels, and demanded their surrender. Only 22 survived the massacre. Regardless, Julin was revered as a martyr, and this act triggered the Era of Good Feeling, in which the Orion slaves ceased rebelling and built an utterly false reputation for themselves as loyal and trustworthy.
A few years before the end of the Orion War, the Botchok Planetary Congress debated the social organization that they would adopt afterwards. The Grey Orion Tamos Draman the Half-Sighted argued eloquently but unsuccessfully in favor of a hierarchy that placed the Greys in a social position slightly higher than that of the Ruddies. The Codex Orion was finally published in April 61 BCE (stardate -20/6104), a compendium of the laws of their society; Ruddy and Grey were considered equals, never subservient to the other, while Green slaves could be owned by either.
But as the Orions spread across space and became more diverse, occasionally Colonies appeared which were inhabited solely by Ruddies and Greens, or Greys and Greens, or entirely of one race, with not a single member of the others. Social differences increased, as each sub-race wondered why they needed the other. While Ruddy/Grey cooperation had driven the growth of Orion civilization, their racial friction drove its collapse.
Civil disorder began to spread from the lower classes to the middle classes. With their vast holdings, Orion governments became ponderous and ineffective, while local leaders were complacent or indifferent. Small uprisings grew to disrupt worldwide order. The technocratic Greys responded with cautious analysis, social theories and technological solutions. The arrogant Ruddies reacted with brutal repression. Each was generally ineffective, but while the civilization that enabled Grey Orion society collapsed, the Ruddies were better able to survive. The Fringe Wars saw many Grey Orion ruling families on the most distant planets wiped out, beginning the Dispossession.
A pattern emerged, wherein ruling Greys faced with revolution turned to Ruddy forces, either local or imported mercenaries, to solve their problems, by functioning as administrators, police and military forces - who then occupied Grey holdings in the name of 'military necessity' and 'temporary measures'. In time, they outright seized whatever they liked without excuses, and panicking Greys on stable worlds closer to Rigel sold off their possessions (businesses, lands and slaves) and fled, saving local Ruddies the effort.
Eventually, Grey Orions ceased to own any significant property or wield any power, and they were generally despised and blamed as the cause of the Reverse, even in places where they had not ruled, and even some Greys believed it. Massacres were numerous, and entire planetary populations of Grey Orions were slain in brutal purges, leaving 90% of all Grey Orions dead, the rest in hiding.
In May 1220 CE (stardate -8/205), the BPC and Colonial representatives (all Ruddy Orions) met on Kammzdast in a special meeting to discuss the Grey Orion question, aiming to eliminate possible threat from them, now and in the future. They officially revised the Codex Orion to remove all mention of the Greys, and authorised the destruction of all historical material related to them, and erased all current and later mention of them as anything but technically skilled slaves. Even the Greys themselves were somehow 'cleansed' of offending material. This was the last act of the Dispossession.
The remaining Grey Orions survived the massacres by pleading for their lives and making themselves useful for their technical knowledge – and were held hostage and forced to work for a promise of freedom, or were permanently enslaved outright, and some lucky few were sheltered by sympathetic Ruddy Orions. These slaves circulated as spoils of war and pirate raid, purchase and trade.
The year 1715 CE (stardate -3/15) finally saw a halt to the decline as the Orion population stabilized at 20.315 billion on 213 worlds. This heralded a brief century of cultural rebirth, with renewed interest in colonization, re-occupying lost and abandoned Colonies. A use was also found for the Grey Orion slaves, to restore the stagnant Orion technology, and they began to spread once more.
Fearing the Greys again, Ruddy Orion masters spent the next 150 years trying various methods of maintaining control, to keep them powerless but still useful. Imprisonment was not enough, and drug addiction reduced Grey skills and made the Ruddies dependent on their suppliers. Finally they decided upon genetic mutilation, an affliction of random weakness, deformities and handicaps that made them utterly dependent on their owners and only marginally less useful. It was permanent, incurable and cheap. To prevent the Greys from ever undoing the damage, a great deal of Orion medical knowledge was purged, leaving Orion medicine behind that of other races, and resulting in additional suffering for the other Orions.
On stardate 0/9003, the Starfleet ship USS Atmos intercepted the Larc, an Orion personnel transport, and for the first time charged the Ruddy Orion captain with slavery. A guldin of Grey Orions on board managed to transmit a secret message to the Atmos in an apparent bid for freedom, but the Orion captain vaporised the lot of them to prevent their discovery, much to the BPC's relief.
The Parallelogram Affair scandalised the Colonies on stardate 1/6908, when a guldin of Grey Orions was discovered transmitting sensitive Orion and Klingon information to the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire. The Greys refused to talk and were slain, while a young Federation couple, suspected of involvement in the spy ring, were apprehended while leaving the Rigel system, and were never seen again.
More than any other Orions, the Grey Orions found the interview and study of Talduk Sik by the Rigellian to be a mystical experience, and thought of them as their Makers.
Philosophically, the Grey Orions were strongly in favor of a technocratic society, led by scientists, scholars and engineers. They faced social problems with study, theory and experiment and tried to solve them with technology and social engineering.
Grey Orions were never seen in public, not acknowledged as a separate race, nor discussed in any way, and few outsiders, if any, were aware of their existence. Most other Orions scorned them, and found them disgusting to look at, unwholesome and even unworthy of life, for their deformities and ill health, and they suffered stigma and shame. They were completely off the Orion social scale, and were the only true Orion slaves, not even classed as slaves and without even a contract to protect their rights, little better than trained animals. Their very existence was dependent on others, their Utan, or 'Masters'.
Each Grey Orion was utterly under the control of their Uta, whom they depended on completely for materials, wealth and their very survival. They did what they were told, they were occasionally spied upon for unauthorized activities, and could have vital supplies withheld for punishment. Subtly rebellious, they responded with minor insults, small delays and annoyances, instead of an open revolt that was practically impossible for them.
Grey Orions were kept prisoners in guldin, usually found underground in a sub-basement beneath a villa or in a secure section of an office building (and only in large, established settlements) or in the bowels of a starship. A guldi was a hermetically sealed, environmentally controlled set of quarters specially designed for Grey Orions and their handicaps, supplying all their requirements for staying alive and as healthy as they could be. These included life-support machinery, for recycling food, water and air, and as such, they were difficult to transport. Grey Orions lived almost their entire lives in these rooms, where they lived, ate, slept, worked, studied, communicated with other Grey Orions or their owners, or found their own amusements. Whole Grey Orion families or working groups could be found in some, while others were little more than tanks or pods.
Despite the prejudice and hatred they suffered, Grey Orions were kept alive since they possessed technical talents and knowledge that no other Orions had or bothered with, making them vital to Orion society. Highly intelligent and dextrous (when not handicapped in that area), they were skilled with tools, machines and computers, they understood higher mathematics and physics, and they guarded all that remained of ancient Orion medical knowledge, since their own survival depended on it. They were also the only Orions to pursue knowledge and conduct research for its own sake - though they usually had the time to do so, and it was their main occupation, as commanded by their owners.
From within their guldin, Greys were employed in several areas, usually careers forbidden to other Orions. Many worked as librarians, running computers and memory banks, and provided valuable research. They also conducted scientific research, aided planning and strategy, and designed machines and starships. They were also used to disarm traps and break security on computer systems, vehicles, spacecraft, and buildings.
Despite their sometimes-crippling handicaps that hampered their skills and capabilities, they usually managed to find a mechanical means of working around their disabilities, and considered no problem impossible to overcome. For example, even a blind Grey could become a medical doctor, utilizing special instruments, sonar and sight-to-touch translation programs to conduct examinations, as capably as a sighted doctor could.
As their work was usually light, occasional or easy, Greys led a life of relative leisure. They spent their time finding ways to relieve their boredom, fiddling with machines, carrying out research, and communicating with Greys in other guldin. Nevertheless, all of them, despite their captivity and handicaps, possessed a desire for freedom and more normal and active pursuits, even if they were physically incapable of performing them.
It wasn't unusual, however, for Greys to carry out long-distance petty feuds with others of their kind. Trapped in their guldin, they could consider even the most minor irritations and problems to be major offenses, or reacted badly to minute differences of opinion or disagreements, for things even children might find ridiculous. A typically Orion power struggle would play out over the computers and communications, feeding each other false data, remotely sabotaging their projects, and so on, sometimes with murderous intent.
Others at least found some form of companionship, and could form close relationships and alliances with which to plot against their owners. To break these up, Utan swapped and traded Greys amongst themselves.
From earliest childhood, every young Grey was bound by their kin to memorize a lost book of Grey Orion history, recited by an older member of the guldin. Several hundred books passed through Grey society in this way, though in different 'editions' and in multiple locations. These works included histories, biographies, and accounts relating to Grey Orions throughout Orion history, material that was destroyed in the Reverse. There were even a few written afterwards, short personal tales that told of the great crime done to them.
Even many Ruddy Orion Utan forgot that Greys had any history prior to their enslaved state, and since contact was made with the Federation, Greys began secretly transcribing their oral history into computers, hidden in complex ciphers and codes, which the Utan did not think to examine. These recordings were well guarded and destroyed at the very first sign of Ruddy suspicion.
Upon reaching the age of 14, Grey Orions began the educations required for their professions, depending on what was required of them. Basic computer use took one a half years, while computer technology and electronics took two years. Three years were spent studying engineering, three and half each for the sciences or for medicine, while finance and protocol took four years.
They were prohibited by their Utan from learning certain skills that they deemed dangerous, though they secretly gained some forbidden knowledge via simulations and computer connections, as far as they were able.