ORION SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
The Orions have the most stratified spacefaring society in the known galaxy. Besides discriminating between people on the basis of color, sex, income, family, and profession, they care greatly about social class and status, titles, rank, and whether or not one’s past is honorable. Between nobility and the slaves are myriad distinctions. It is better to be male instead of female, Ruddy instead of Green, rich instead of poor, a member of a large and prosperous family instead of a small, poor, or disreputable one, and it always helps to have connections.
The Ruddy race is dominant; they are the nobility, the executives, the captains of ships, the owners of plantations and factories. The Greens are the workers, the field hands, the soldiers and former slaves. Although the lines between the two are firm, they are not absolute. Many ships, particularly if considered elite, have all-Ruddy crews, and a Green with intelligence and persistence can rise to be a foreman or give orders to Ruddies. Ruddy Orions regard Green social climbing with disdain, but reserve their contempt for Ruddies who become so wretched that they forfeit their social standing. Though it is not necessarily degrading to work for a Green, it is rather sordid to spend all of one’s time with them.
Orion society is unselfconsciously male-dominated. Men command every level of Orion life, and the line between the sexes is drawn very surely. The only place where women have any say is in their home life, and even there it is a matter of compromise and negotiation. Though there are very few exceptions, Orion females who riseto positions of authority tend to be very good at what they do. All Orions are adept at wielding power behind the scenes, and there is no reason to believe that Orion women are any less effective than the men.
Respecting wealth and power, Orions particularly admire those whose vocations let them wield both: archexecutives, the eldest son of distinguished families, bankers, shipowners, and merchants. They also greatly respect the rare individual who breaks out of poverty and obscurity to gain authority and riches. Everyone dreams of doing the same thing, if he (or she) can only make that lucky break.
Space grips the Orion imagination like nothing else. For centuries, they key to wealth and power was voyaging into the unknown beyond the rim of Orion Space to find new worlds with which to trade-or to loot. Even though Orion Space has contracted and in spite of (or because of) Starfleet persecution, Orion pirates have a mystique that everyone craves. An industrialist employing millions of beings is still flattered to be acquainted with the captain of a single small ship. There are plenty of opportunities for young men in space-even if they wind up sweeping a dock, loading crates, or dead. Orions look up to a spacer, whatever his stripe.
To a great extent, Orions depend on personal leadership. They revere anyone who stands for an ideal and makes other people work toward it with him. Such leaders are rare among the Orions, who can usually find a way to undermine the strongest opponent. The man who cannot be swayed, bought, or shamed wins over even his enemies with his demonstrated virtue. Such an Orion can be trusted, and Orions work wonders for such as him. Unfortunately, such leadership is fleeting; a slip, a mistake of judgment, or a lapse of virtue crumbles the power to dust. Relying on charismatic people, the Orions have no faith in organizations or impersonal authority. When the leader goes, the Orions revert to plotting and selfish behavior until another finds the strength to lead them again.
Attempts to perpetuate power structures have been unsuccessful. Only three types of Orion organizations have any longevity, and they can only be described in gradually more precise terms: family, corporations, government, and the revenge society.
THE ORION FAMILY
The family is the basis and model for all of Orion life and certainly the oldest and most indestructible form of organization. Orion families find work for the sons, husbands and dowry for the daughters, and help for the sick. It is the last place and Orion expects to be betrayed.
The family Tahedri, or patriarch, has a good deal to say about how the members conduct themselves. Possessing absolute authority, he decides who marries, when, to whom, and how much the dowry should be. He runs the family business, if any. Technically, the senior female, the Tabadi, has only minimal influence, but in reality, she can wield great power. No Orion who can still speak is powerless.
A Tahedri takes pride in the number of people he can keep happy, healthy, prosperous, and together. Those who are good at this attract alliances with other families who seek to improve their fortunes. A few carefully arranged marriages can construct networks of families with thousands or tens of thousands of members, all interdependent and self-supporting. The strength and influence of such extended families are great; many Orion worlds are governed by a handful of ruling families whose word and name means law.
Age mostly determines hierarchy in Orion families. If a tahedri feels his health will not let him continue, he may appoint a new tahedri -typically the next oldest, most closely related male-and retire. In some divided families however, sons rebel against father or grandfather, and violence may be required to settle matters. Things rarely get this bad in the better families, where less-senior males may plot to get around the tahedri’s dictates but respect his age and position. The Orion family’s soundness rests on this natural order.
Business firms of all types and sizes are a very durable form of organization among Orions. Corporations exist to make money, which all Orions enjoy, and their structure mimics and improves upon the Orion family. One man, the chief executive officer, is at the top, and a handful of proven, capable leaders in a limited hierarchy are below him. Whether they are a handful of men and one ship, or a multi-planet operation with millions of employees and shareholders, Orion corporations never have more than five levels of command and control.
Orion corporations work because of the Rhadamanen -the archexecutives. More than people at desks or names on a chart, they are exceedingly gifted leaders who can inspire confidence among perhaps thousands of Orions who work for them directly. Such people are rare; Orion corporations actively look for them, usually among their own ranks. Archexecutives are a kind of Orion cultural hero; the men who get things done. Even a starship captain is a kind of specialized rhadaman; they wield power earned through work and respect. Like tahedrin , they usually succeed each other by age and seniority. Intracorporate wars are not as common as struggles between competing firms (nor as bloody), but they involve more people and use up a lot more resources-ships, planets, installations, and the like. Rhadamanen who can keep their firms in line and keep intracorporate struggle low-key and inexpensive, command great authority and respect.
Orion corporations are known for their accelerated methods. Because only one man makes the important decisions, he can instantly mobilize his company to seize any opportunity. Orion shipping firms are quite profitable concerns-paradoxically, the smaller they are, the moe efficient they become. However, they are more than money-making machines. For many Orions, the company is like a second family. Orion corporations take good care of their employees, offering comfortable pay and liberal vacations and valuing their employee’s input. Preventing disaffection has made Orion businesses like feudal fiefs, and a large portion of their power comes from the loyalty of their employees. They often have more support, more overt signs of patriotism (flags, songs, bands, and paid festivals) than most planets. Frequently, they act as if they were sovereign, answering to no one but their archexecutives and stockholders.
Governments are the weakest, least stable power structure of the Orions. Families take care of most social needs, corporations do the rest. Only the most unwanted and unglamorous tasks fall to governments, including maintaining roads and infrastructure, and keeping records. Although they were once more powerful, today even the Orion homeworld’s government has to rent ships in order to pursue its own business. System patrol now falls to Starfleet Command since Rigel joined the Federation.
Most Orion worlds and the vestigal nations of their home planet have elections for public posts. However, the heart of Orion government is the bureaucracy. Hidden behind the scenes, it issues permits, stamps licenses, conducts inspections, accepts bribes, and generally does whatever work is necessary to keep them in business. As even the best-run Orion planet requires professional administrators, there is bureaucracy on every Orion world.
Diplomacy used to be a sideline of Orion governments. Envoys and ambassadors were exchanged to keep in touch and to provide work for needy civil servants and impoverished nobility. Then came the Federation who sought a central voice in civil authority in order to respond to their own. Out of the shadows came Orion diplomats, promising a solution if only they conducted proper meetings. At first the Federation did not realize that the officials and ambassadors had only their reputations and word to back them up. It was inconceivable that the bulk of Orion power rested with a few well-connected dynasties and corporations. By the time the UFP learned the true nature of Orion power and its distribution, it was too late-the pattern was already established. However, by believing in Orion diplomacy, the aliens from the Federation actually made it a ponderable force.
Diplomacy waxed especially powerful at Botchok (Rigel VIII), the Orion home world, where high-ranking Federation representatives would bring matters before the ruling council of all Orions. Centrally located in Orion Space, Botchok already had a nostalgic claim on most Orions. The arrival of the Federation diplomats brought diplomats of every stripe, lobbyists, and spies.
Diplomats power remains purely persuasive. Nevertheless, they can often persuade some powerful miscreant to accept a settlement-in credits, gold-pressed latinum, dilithium, or other currency-from the compainant to stop the hurtful activity. Although undignified and mercenary, such tactics have proven effective enough to guarantee a useful role for Orion government for years to come.
ORION REVENGE SOCIETY
Of all the factions, cliques, clubs, and other minor organizations, perhaps the most interesting is the ganzu , or revenge society. Even in Orion society, incidents sometimes occur for which there is no effective reprisal; a business deal falls through, a girlfriend is stolen, a perpetrator is known but there is no proof, or the law prohibits a wrongdoer’s just reward. A wronged individual who lacks the means to make his displeasure felt contacts the local ganzu and pays for a suitable act of retribution. It could be as simple s a sabotaged grav car or as involved as the looting of a warehouse. Although the cost tends to be high, the results are usually worth the price. Some particularly obnoxious individual Orions may pay off the local ganzu to prevent them from visiting; a ganzu with good notoriety can make a decent living from these alone.
Technically, the ganzu are illegal in the Federation, but there is no way to eradicate them. Wherever Orions live, ganzu appear spontaneously. For the most part, their members are not professional criminals, but rather ordinary citizens who are inclined toward their own style of justice. Plus, it can be dangerous fun, and it makes a little money on the side-always a good thing. It is not possible to state the intentions of all ganzu at all times-among the Orions, even organized crime is disorganized.