In Orion society, slavery was an important and ancient institution, dating back to their earliest history as a slave-race dominated by alien masters. It even became a vital tool for their survival after their liberation, and so it continued into modern times. Slavery ran deep and widespread in their culture, and formed the bedrock of Orion society, civilization and philosophy. It was considered to be a rational and honourable way of life, not a state of oppression, with little stigma to be either a slave or an owner. Bar the lowliest, every business, government, institution and household employed slave labour, and Orion slaves went willingly into service.
Despite the name, Orion slaves were closer in practice to employees working under an all-encompassing contract, and began in a kind of school system. The Orion word for 'slave' was dubi, a contraction of the word for 'contractor', dubyal. Slaves worked for etadubran, translated as either 'contract-holders' or 'the obligated'. As such, Orion slavery was seen as a kind of contracted labour, not the ownership of a sentient being. For the slave, this meant being cared for and given a job.
Both men and women could be enslaved in equal measure. Only Green Orions were slaves, and most would experience slavery at least once in their lives. By rigid custom, the high-born Ruddy Orions were never enslaved, whether by choice or by force. They were usually the slave-owners and trainers. In the traditional system, only Orions could be slaves, not non-Orions, and they did not export slaves to non-slaving races, despite frequent rumours, scandals and reports to the contrary.
- See main article: Orion history
The Orions were enslaved by various alien races early in their history, while they were still a primitive stone age people, not long after their discovery circa 18,000 BCE (reference stardate -200/00). They spent the next 16,000 years in bondage, until finally liberated in the Orion War, with the Declaration of Nallin on February 13th, 56 BCE (stardate -20/5602.13). The post-war period necessitated extensive rebuilding and economic recovery, enabled by Orion rhadamanen hiring out Orion dubyaln, contract-labourers, even to their former slave-owners, beginning modern Orion slavery. This age heralded the Era of Lawbringing, which laid out the rights and duties in the master-slave relationship in the Codex Orion. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
Humans first came into contact with Orion slavery when two Orion interceptors kidnapped nine of the Earth starship Enterprise's crew in 2154. The Enterprise followed them to the Verex III processing station and rescued them, but found many alien slaves being sold to alien buyers, as well as an Orion slave girl (ENT episode: "Borderland").
Following the creation of the Orion Neutrality Area on stardate 1/9808.15, a number of Orion Colonies fell within the borders of the Federation. Some joined the Federation, others did not, but all used and traded in slave labour, against Federation law. Becoming unpopular with the other Federation members, sanctions were imposed on them on stardate 2/0001.11, and trade was boycotted on stardate 2/0103.13, with full approval of the Federation Council. On stardate 2/0105.01, the First Amendment to the Articles of Federation finally banned Orion slavery within the Federation. The spreading boycotts forced the Botchok Planetary Congress (BPC) to ban slavery in the Orion Colonies as well. Neither of these measures actually did much to stamp out the practice however. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge, The Federation) The Federation even annexed a Human colony on Rigel IV in 2249 to counteract Orion slave-trading. (Last Unicorn RPG module: All Our Yesterdays: The Time Travel Sourcebook)
In the late 23rd century, the Federation world of Barrony offered sanctuary to escaped Orion slaves. Meanwhile, the Human businessman Rodimus Gandar was suspected of importing Orion slaves into the Federation to supply private interests (FASA RPG module: The Federation).
Laws and customs on Orion slavery were developed over millennia, dating back to the Era of Lawbringing and likely enshrined in the Codex Orion. These laws regulated the conduct of masters and guaranteed the rights of slaves, and were defined within an employment contract. The system was subtle and complex, and both parties had rights and duties to each other. Slaves could appeal to a tribunal against cruel or unjust masters, and were allowed to hold property (though not land), to inherit and bequeath goods and valuables, and to marry and have children, who were always born free. Parents also kept the money from selling their children.
Slavery was technically banned in the Orion Colonies by the BPC on stardate 1/9901 after Federation boycotts, in order to keep Federation trade. The BPC had no real power to declare or enforce this, and slavery continued, out of sight and under the radar. Slaves became properly documented 'free' 'workers', still transported in respectable ships, and working for food, board and money credited to family back home, and was traditional Orion slavery in all but name. Starfleet had hard time enforcing their shared law against slavery, having no authority under the Orion Registry Act to interfere in such apparently legal cases.
Enslavement & TrainingEdit
Orion slaves usually began their service around 10 to 12 years old, when their parents sold them to a suitable master to work on their estate. This was completely voluntary on their parts, and even a child of two slaves was born free. The parents shopped around for the right first master for their child, which was very important for their education and future employment prospects, and made arrangements for the sale. The larger and better estates were usually inundated with petitions from parents to accept a child, though only a few could be accepted in any one year, and the rest were turned away to lesser houses and families.
The new slave was placed in the master’s household and given a few simple tasks to perform, and was tested and interviewed to find any particular aptitude. Once their talent was discovered, the slave was then trained for free in these skills, gaining value and discipline along the way. After undergoing sufficient training and reaching the required skills and competence, the slave was then resold to a new owner who had need for them, with a substantial mark-up. The former estate could make a good profit by accepting, training and reselling Orion children. Some estates made this a proper business, turning out hundreds of fresh slaves every year. The whole procedure resembled schooling in other cultures.
Slavery made up a significant proportion of the labour pool in Orion society. The range of jobs occupied by slaves was great, from basic manual labour - such as farm work, machinery and industrial operation, domestic chores – to, with the proper training, skilled labour such as bookkeeping, technical work and even the skills required to serve aboard a starship. Not all female Orions were the famous Orion slave girls; most carried out mundane household chores, simple industrial or manufacturing tasks, or worked as carers.
In return for their labours, slaves received food, decent housing on their masters’ estates, training for their jobs, enough clothing, and were in general well-cared for, for free and according to the work they did. They could even be granted a monetary allowance, which could go towards eventually buying their freedom. Slaves weren’t kept apart or locked away, but could mix freely with fellow slaves, both male and female. They could also expect near-constant employment and an irregular untaxed income, with little worry for their future.
Discipline was actually quite light, except for the very lowest ranked and unskilled labourers. There were no whips or chains, nor any other signs of their low class. Orion slaves didn’t suffer or hate their masters, nor did they long for freedom. Slaves were not considered property,
Despite the theoretical positive aspects and legal regulation of Orion slavery, it was not without its downsides, and in practice it was not so different from more typical forms of slavery. Supposedly, there was little to no social stigma to being a slave, but they were not quite the social equals of other Orions of similar class, and it was not considered an admirable occupation (though most working Orions were likely to be slaves at some point in their lives). Though not treated as property, neither were they free people.
A slave’s work had to conform to certain standards, usually working at certain times and in certain places, as commanded by their master. At all times, on duty or off, they could be expect to be watched, either by eye or by surveillance. Slaves also lacked job security, and could potentially be dropped from employment (without money, food or shelter) or become unemployable if marked as an unsatisfactory worker. Old slaves could also reach the termination date of their contract without enough money to retire on or enough time left in their lives to either get a new position or train in a new line of work.
There were three methods by which an Orion slave could gain their freedom: by the end of their agreed term of service, by self-purchase, or by manumission. Slavery could last for a few years or under one master, or it could potentially last a life-time, with many masters. Orion slaves didn’t particularly long for freedom, when they were well-cared for
Depending on the agreement made with their master at the time of their enslavement, an Orion slave could gain their freedom after a certain number of years of service. If they are sold before the end of this time, the slave could appeal to a tribunal for an early freedom. In many cases, a master even had to persuade or pressure a slave to accept freedom on the agreed date.
The more common and accepted means of ending slavery was self-purchase. Over the course of their life, a slave could accumulate a not-insignificant sum of money from allowances, favours, rewards, business on the side, and the sale of their children. Eventually this would be enough to purchase their freedom.
Finally, there was manumission, the act of releasing a slave into freedom outright. This could happen at any time in a slave’s career, but for only two causes. The first was for unsatisfactory performance, criminal behaviour and anything else that would earn a bad reputation and cause a master to discharge their slave, perhaps with a loss of money. This was a mark of disgrace on the ex-slave. The other was for the complete opposite: exceptional service or some extraordinary effort. This ex-slave was honoured, and kept all his money.
Over a third of freed slaves sold themselves back into slavery again, usually to switch to a better job and gain the free on-the-job training. Some slaves sold and resold themselves up to six times throughout their lifetime. (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
- The above depiction of Orion-only slavery would seem to be contradicted by numerous other examples that show Orions enslaving other races, such as the ENT episode: "Borderland". However, the slavery custom depicted in this article may represent the common, 'legal' and traditional form, while the enslaving of non-Orions could be an uncommon or illegal form. Another interpretation stems from the fact that, apart from an Orion slave girl, all slaves and buyers seen in Borderland were non-Orions, and may result from a peculiar loophole.
In the traditional system, only Orions could be slaves, not non-Orions, and they did not export slaves to non-slaving races, despite frequent rumors, scandals and reports to the contrary (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge). Of course, being Orions, they frequently captured and enslaved aliens, but generally only sold them to alien slavers. Of their own people, Orions only sold Orion slave girls to aliens (ENT episode: "Borderland").
Humans first came into contact with Orion slavery when a number of Orion interceptors kidnapped nine of the Earth starship Enterprise's crew in 2154. The Enterprise followed them to an Orion Syndicate-run slave market at the Verex III processing station and rescued them, but found many alien slaves being sold to alien buyers, as well as an Orion slave girl. (ENT episode: "Borderland")
In the early 2370s, the Bajoran government official Ompar Tenzil allowed the Yridian middle-man Manimoujak to take Bajoran dissidents, the poor, and those who uncovered their schemes, and sell them into slavery, including to Orions. The plot was uncovered in 2372.