It was reputedly headquartered on Rigel VII, a likely Orion homeworld, but wisely kept its overt actions far away, (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book) operating primarily in the Alpha Quadrant. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) It also maintained headquarters on Farius Prime. (DS9 episodes: "Honor Among Thieves", "Prodigal Daughter")
- See main article: Orion history
In May 2154, two Orion interceptors kidnapped nine of the Enterprise's crew in the Borderland. The Enterprise followed them to the Verex III processing station and rescued them from the Syndicate-run slave market there (ENT episode: "Borderland"). The Syndicate sought revenge on Archer for this, and in late December, Harrad-Sar attempted to capture and deliver the Enterprise and its crew to them, with the use of three Orion slave girls and a false magnesite mining deal with the Syndicate (ENT episode: "Bound").
In 2155, at the founding of the Coalition of Planets, the Tellarites and Coridan III reached an accord on trade sanctions against the Orion Syndicate. However, Earth's government did not wish to provoke the Syndicate into embargoing trade with any Coalition worlds, such as Coridan or Tellar, for fear that they would withdraw (ENT novel: The Good That Men Do).
- It seems that these trade sanctions were not made at this time.
During the 23rd century, the Syndicate was described as an active trading network, functioning as a plutocratic republic, lead by Orion merchant lords. Its trade stretched beyond Orion space and beyond the limits of space explored by the Federation. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book)
The Orion Syndicate took advantage of factional conflict on Coridan to fund, construct and manage a number of illegal dilithium mining operations and one-sided trade agreements. Following a push for Coridan to join the Federation in the 2260s, the Orion Syndicate attempted to sabotage the Babel Conference of 2267, by inserting Thelev as an Andorian aide to assassinate the Tellarite ambassador Gav and frame the Vulcan ambassador Sarek. The plot was unsuccessful. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
The Khitomer Accords of 2293 enabled Starfleet to devote itself to operations against Orion piracy, and crushed their pirate fleets and kept Syndicate members on the run. The Orion Syndicate of the 24th century descended from those pirates. They re-evaluated the burgeoning Federation for new ways to exploit it, though with limited success. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
In the 2330s, the Orion Syndicate was described as a fledgling organisation, about which Starfleet Intelligence was still gathering evidence. It had bases on Farius Prime and Ryn III and was a major distributor of red ice, a powerful and deadly narcotic. They were also believed to have acted as middlemen for arms trading between the Breen Confederacy and the Cardassian Union. During this period, they were in heated competition with a rival crime syndicate called the Asfar Qatala, also based on Farius Prime and trading in red ice. The Syndicate even had agents infiltrating the Asfar Qatala. These affairs were uncovered by Starfleet Captain Rachel Garrett and Commander Samir al-Halak of the USS Enterprise-C in 2336. (TLE novel: Well of Souls)
- Well of Souls portrays the Orion Syndicate as relatively small upstart organization about which Starfleet Intelligence has limited information. This appears inconsistent with what was later established on Enterprise, though the lack of mention of a Syndicate during the TOS era may suggest the organization did not operate continuously over this entire period. The Decipher RPG sources meanwhile present the Orion Syndicate as evolving out of early pirate fleets and Orion trading networks. The various fragments put together suggest an Orion mercantile or political organization or state (likely an alliance of businesses and caju) that was defeated by Starfleet, but survived and evolved into a criminal organization.
By the late 24th century, membership in the Syndicate had many alien members. It was a subject of mystery to outsiders. Though Orions were commonly assumed to be powerful within the Syndicate, this could not be proven. Some considered it equally likely that the Syndicate's founders were aliens who chose to use their name for their criminal association, or even took it from the Orion sector or the Orion constellation. It was not known if Starfleet managed to penetrate its upper ranks or not. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book)
After the Maquis uprising in the late 2360s, the Orion Syndicate-dominated world of Farius Prime became a key link in their supply lines, and the Syndicate actually aided their efforts. However, when the Cardassian Union joined the Dominion in 2373, the Syndicate betrayed the Farius Prime Maquis cells and surrendered them to Jem'Hadar soldiers. This action saved Farius Prime from a Jem'Hadar assault such as other Maquis bases had suffered, and kept that world neutral and independent in the coming Dominion War. The Syndicate worked with the Dominion during the war (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
In 2371, Idanian Intelligence began investigating the Orion Syndicate, and had one of their agents infiltrate the organization of Draim, a Syndicate member specializing in extortion and blackmail. The agent had her memories removed and new ones installed to get past Draim’s telepaths, and she believed herself to be a net-girl named "Arissa", who obtained the information Draim sought. After two years working undercover, "Arissa" was recalled in 2371 to be restored and report what she had learned (DS9 episode: "A Simple Investigation").
By 2373, Quark had attempted to join the Orion Syndicate, but couldn't afford the entrance fee, let alone be accepted. However, he was acquainted with members, and agreed to testify before a Federation grand jury on Inferna Prime against the Syndicate. In response, they planted a bomb in the runabout transporting him and Constable Odo, they both survived (DS9 episode: "The Ascent").
In 2374, Starfleet Intelligence recruit Miles O'Brien infiltrated Raimus's Syndicate operation on Farius Prime to locate the source of a leak in Starfleet. The Syndicate had uncovered and killed five undercover agents in the previous year. O'Brien also discovered the Syndicate's involvement with the Dominion, uncovering their plot to assassinate an anti-Federation Klingon ambassador to Farius and divide the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. The Klingons were warned of the plot, but O'Brien disobeyed orders and warned Liam Bilby as well, having become friends with the man who'd "witnessed" him into the Syndicate, and urged him to get out of it. Bilby refused, knowing that abandoning his role in the plot would show the Syndicate that he had inducted an infiltrator, and risk retaliation against his family. Bilby was slain by the Klingons (DS9 episode: "Honor Among Thieves", Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
Sometime during the Dominion War, Thadial Bokar of the Syndicate came to Janel Tigan and offered money to help his family's struggling pergium mining business on New Sydney. After Liam Bilby's death, the Syndicate extorted Janel Tigan to pay his widow Morica Bilby from his mother Yanas' company's funds. Morica was eventually killed by Norvo Tigan in 2375 (DS9 episode: "Prodigal Daughter").
In the aftermath of the Battle of Rigel early in 2375, the Orion Syndicate sent ships into the debris field to scavenge whatever they could before Starfleet could recover its own technology. One such item was an isolation suit from the USS Kelly, which found its way through the black market to Hiziki Gard. (DS9 novel: Trill: Unjoined)
Beginning in 2373, the Borg incursions and the Dominion War had forced Starfleet to strip its assets from the Rigel system, giving the Orion Syndicate there a free reign. They used the opportunity well, and by the war's end in 2375, they were once again dominant in the Rigel system, with crime, piracy and smuggling on the rise (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
During the Gateways Crisis in 2376, the Orion Syndicate bid for the Iconian technology through their operative Malic, who hired Quark to negotiate on their behalf. With Quark's assistance, the Orion Syndicate put together the best offer for the technology, but withdrew the bid when it was discovered that the persons masquerading as the Iconians were actually the Petraw, who had a limited understanding of how they worked. (DS9 novel: Demons of Air and Darkness)
In 2378, there was apparently someone in Starfleet, with a rank of least admiral, who had been transmitting secret technological information to Syndicate. Starfleet Intelligence's Director of Covert Ops Brenna Covington had agent Libby Webber investigate Admiral Kenneth Montgomery as a potential suspect. However, Webber found he was innocent: Covington herself had framed Montgomery to stop him uncovering her own schemes. (VOY novel: Homecoming)
- It is unknown if there was such a mole in Starfleet or not, or if there was, if it was Brenna Covington herself.
In 2380, a Syndicate-run Orion pirate vessel raided Deep Space 5 and stole half a kiloton of kemocite ore (a key component of highly destructive weapons), killing four Starfleet officers and eleven others in the process. By August of that year (stardate 57585), the USS Voyager tracked it down, and disabled it after a brief battle. Captain Chakotay ordered it destroyed, refusing rescue attempts. (VOY novel: Full Circle)
In 2387, the high-ranking Syndicate leader Raimus was assassinated by Hassan the Undying, on the orders of Melani D'ian. This allowed Melani to seize a 30% holding and move into a leading position, the first Orion in 20 years to do so, despite rivalry from other Syndicate leaders. Meanwhile, Starfleet had spent several years cracking down on Syndicate activity. Melani made fruitless negotiations with the Klingon Empire in 2388, seeking support against Starfleet.
By now, Melani had carried out a ruthless purge of so-called 'untrustworthy' members and competing leaders in the Syndicate, and created a unified and loyal force out of the remaining Orions. Syndicate traffic increased markedly under her control, and Starfleet had a harder time combating their activities.
Finally, in 2394, Melani signed a non-aggression and mutual defense pact with Klingon Chancellor J'mpok, allying the Orion Syndicate and the Klingon Empire. The Syndicate would receive ships, weapons and a planet in Klingon space that they could rule as a vassal state, while the Klingon Empire gained the Syndicate’s allegiance, access to their intelligence network, and technology.
In 2397, Hassan the Undying moved his own base of operations to the former Orion homeworld in the Rigel system, in order to run Syndicate operations outside Klingon space, presumably on Melani's orders. (STO website: The Path to 2409)
The Orion Syndicate operated in all areas of criminal activity, including sports gambling, illegal gambling rackets, loan sharking, extortion, blackmail, smuggling of goods and weapons, illegal salvage, piracy, capturing and trafficking of slaves. It also traded in secret information, managed net-girls, used and harbored pirates of various breeds, and employed professional thieves and assassins. It took out more assassination contracts in a year than all other typical assassination clients combined. (Last Unicorn RPG modules: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book, Raiders, Renegades & Rogues)
The Syndicate maintained piracy in the 24th century, albeit rather reduced. Individual Orion pirate ships remained in operation on frontier regions and little-used and poorly mapped space-lanes. Their captains were likely to be Syndicate members. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
An average Orion was as likely to deny the Syndicate even existed as try to sell so-called "insider information" on the organization. Both responses were almost certainly false; members would not break the code of silence, and outsiders knew nothing of worth. The Syndicate had no problem with such falsehoods however, enjoying a confused but threatening reputation. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) Legitimate Orion governments endeavored to disassociate the reputation of ordinary Orions from that of the Syndicate, but the Syndicate was generally more powerful (CCG set: Second Edition, card: "The Orion Underworld").
Territory and basesEdit
In the mid-22nd century, the Syndicate shared a border with the Klingon Empire in the Borderland (ENT episode: "Borderland"). In the 24th century, the Orion Syndicate operated primarily in the Alpha Quadrant (Decipher RPG modules: Aliens, Worlds).
It was active on a number of worlds and systems, including Coridan III, Corvan II, Dessica II, Farius Prime, the Rigel system, Risa, Turkana IV, Verex III, and possibly the moons of Jupiter in the Sol system (Decipher RPG modules: Aliens, Worlds, ENT episode: "Borderland", DS9 episode: "Honor Among Thieves").
The Orion Syndicate operated or were involved in the Gorkon's Retreat, a pirate haven space station, and the Yoshitoni Institute, a mercenary training school. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Raiders, Renegades & Rogues)
Leadership and MembershipEdit
In the mid-22nd century, the Syndicate was apparently a wholly Orion organization (ENT episode: "Borderland"), and up to the 23rd century, the Syndicate was run as a sort of plutocratic republic, led by Orion merchant lords. It was described as an active trading network, which reached beyond Orion space and even past the limits of what the Federation had explored. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Original Series Core Game Book)
But by the late 24th century, membership was open to other races, with many alien members from many different worlds. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book, Decipher RPG module: Aliens) Though it was widely assumed that Orions were powerful in the Syndicate, this was unproven, and it was considered just as likely that the founders were not Orions, but others who chose to use their name for their criminal association, or even that of the Orion sector or the Orion constellation. It was also unknown if Starfleet ever penetrated its upper ranks. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book) However, in fact, many of the upper ranks were still Orion. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) On the other hand, not every Orion was a member of the Syndicate, even if they wished or claimed they were (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book).
By 2387, Melani was the first Orion 20 years to hold a high-ranking position in the Syndicate, and by 2394, her purges had made it a solidly Orion organization once more. (STO website: The Path to 2409)
The Orion Syndicate had a code of 'koledru venari, 'thieves' honour', and its members would rather die than break this code of silence (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) They would even prefer to commit suicide rather than testify against them. On the other hand, the Syndicate supposedly never killed its own people (DS9 episode: "The Ascent"). However, no one could leave the organization without permission, and they exacted revenge on those who did betray them (DS9 episode: "A Simple Investigation"). Loyalty held the Syndicate together, which extended to family members (DS9 episode: "Prodigal Daughter").
To join the Syndicate, a new recruit had to be "witnessed" by an existing member in good standing, in which they vouched for their loyalty and trustworthiness. However, if a recruit proved to be disloyal, both they and their witness would be executed (DS9 episode: "Honor Among Thieves"). Members feared reprisals so much that some preferred to commit suicide rather than be captured by authorities, so that none could suspect they'd given information (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book).
There was a steep entrance fee for membership, which was open to any race. (DS9 episode: "The Ascent", Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Game Book) All Syndicate members also had to pay a fare (10% or more of all earnings) to the Syndicate or risk punishment. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) In return, the Syndicate supplied money to families and widows of slain members that they could live off comfortably (DS9 episode: "Prodigal Daughter").
The Orion Syndicate had a system of ranks, achievable with a given cost in latinum and the personal witness or recommendation of a higher-ranking Syndicate member.
- Rank (Translation) - Cost (bars of latinum)
- Morl ("Crewman") - 20
- Lisk ("Associate") - 100
- Magren ("Operator") - 400
- Delbaj ("Lieutenant") - 3000
- Alasho ("Director") - 20,000
- Shodar ("Chief") - 1,000,000
Rogues and others without rank working with or for the Syndicate were j'hordak, meaning 'shadows', or less politely, 'hanger's on'. These ranks were also used for crew positions on some Orion pirate ships, though the buy-in was much smaller, usually only 10%. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
The Syndicate had a fragmented cell-structure, making it more like a subversive or resistance organization, or a secret society, than a traditional crime gang. In each cell, a compromised member could only identify a few other immediate members. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book)
Enemies and AlliesEdit
Starfleet Security placed the Orion Syndicate top of their list of criminal groups. However, into the late 24th century, they were still no closer to infiltrating the upper ranks, let alone bringing them down, than they were when the Syndicate first came to their attention. (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book)
The Syndicate had conflicts with other crime gangs, including Lost Heritage (Last Unicorn RPG module: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Core Game Book). They aided the Maquis and then betrayed them to the Dominion, whom they subsequently had dealings with. They also had links to the Iotian Outfit. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
In 2387 the Syndicate made overtures to the Klingon Empire and the Breen Confederacy following Melani D'ian replacing Raimus as head of the organization. In 2394 Chancellor J'mpok signed a treaty with D'ian on Ter'jas Mor, allying the Syndicate with the Klingon Empire in exchange for rights to Ter'jas Mor as a new Orion homeworld. (STO website: The Path to 2409)