There are two types of content for Star Trek,
alpha continuity and then beta. Alpha continuity is what has been set down by the numerous
onscreen incarnations of the show and specific extra media, while Beta content covers a wide
variety of other forms and usually adopts a more flexible approach to what is canon.
In most of my work, I approach primary canon first, then go to beta content to fill in
the gaps as it were, so long as it doesn’t conflict with primary source material. The
Orions of Star Trek are a race that falls into this division between alpha and beta
lore so as set by my own rules, I’m going to prioritise the species as depicted in the
shows with some beta that supports rather than conflicts with their depiction.
With that lengthy disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at the Orion women, I mean let’s
look at the culture of the Orion people. Also, this video won’t focus on the Syndicate,
that’ll deserve its own addendum. The Orion are a humanoid species from around
the Orion systems, hence the name. In their own tongue they are called the Ur’eon or
Kolari. Physically they are a diverse species of human proportions though like Vulcans and
Romulans, they possess copper based blood, but unlike these two species, they have a
green skin hue. This tint varies from deep greens to very pale, almost grey-green. Grey
Orions were uncommon among the species and usually the result of genetic defects that
rendered them runts of the species. They have bred with other races before, leading to a
subsect of Orion called the Muni, about 3% of the total population are “blends” of
species. These generally have differing skin-tones but unlike the Grey Orion, there was no prejudice
levelled against them. They have dark hair colours, ranging from deep green, to black
to auburn, but a not uncommon trait is to shave their heads entirely.
The species tend to be generally well muscled, especially noticeable in the males of the
species, who generally have rather powerful frames, even with excess body fat. The women
of the species are similarly defined but generally faster and lither. They have little regard
for modesty often display their bodies drawing attention to their strength or sexuality.
Adornments such as shawls, jewellery and piercings are frequent to again emphasise toughness
or beauty. Their minds are generally difficult to read
for telepaths as their thought patterns usually aren’t coherent when compared to galactic
standards. Another notable trait of the species is their
natural production of pheromones that cause a variety of emotional reactions. Female pheromones
are stronger, with even some extreme examples among them. A calm Orion generally produces
a relaxing effect on those around him or her. Extended exposure to female pheromones could
increase adrenaline in males of even other species…um… leading to increased aggression,
coupled with a…uh…an infatuation effect. Phew, uh hi. The pheromones changed with their
mood making a contagious effect of emotions and many were not above exploiting this genetic
perk. Their homeworld is Orion, or Vondem as it
is also known. It has a vast ocean mass and a garden world climate with numerous cities
such as Kinarvon, which itself sits on a suspended island over the expansive seas. Though this
is only one of their home planets it seems. They have spread across numerous colony worlds
and even Orion may not be their place of origin. Several planets in the Rigel system and the
Orionis System have a large enough population of Orions to be considered homeworlds themselves.
This potentially ties into their history. Orions are rumoured to have been a slave race
for the majority of their history, since pre warp times. This would help explain the difficulty
in identifying their true planet of origin, being spread out by their oppression. Further
support for this is the presence of ancient advanced knowledge, beyond that of the Orions
capabilities at the time, on their inhabited worlds as well as cave drawings depicting
Orions being taken into ships, (that were found of Rigel VIII). This history is mostly
lost but some records date back as far as 15,900 BC. What is known is that they were
already spread out across numerous systems in the Orion sector before first contact with
humanity. It is suspected that the Orions drove off their captors and began to evolve
in mimicry of their society, leading to the prevalence of Slavery in their culture.
By 2152, private companies had already begun trading with the Orion owned businesses such
as the Earth Cargo Services. In later times, the Orion Free Traders were a unions of businesses
based from Orion and they traded with Federation planet worlds such as Vulcan suggesting they
must be legitimate in operation unlike the infamous Syndicate. There’s also a prevalence
of learning and academic institutes across Orion controlled worlds and several universities
such as Orion Institute of Cosmology, which was considered prestigious.
Many Orion occupied worlds became hubs of trade such as Verex III where legitimate and
illegitimate offerings were available. The Orions even had a presence on Qu’nos in
2257, the Klingon homeworld as the species has always maintained good relations with
their Klingon neighbours. They maintained a high and influential level
of commerce through a careful balancing act of political interests among other alpha and
beta quadrant powers. Orions tended to try to remain neutral so they could play and gain
influence with as many sides as possible, similar to the Ferengi. However, they did
take an active role in shaping the powers to maintain their neutral state such as attempting
to sabotage the Babel conference in 2268. These operations were conducted by both criminal
factions and legitimate governments within the Orion hierarchy. If a government sanctioned
mission was failed however, the operatives were expected to kill themselves to prevent
responsibility being traced back. Not much is known about the governmental structure
of the Orions, but it is suggested that the most powerful families dictate law for the
majority of Orions. This would explain the high level of influence the Criminal organization
the Orion Syndicate has in their society as they adopted a similar power structure. This
produced a caste system where achievements led to influence.
Although family ties were important to an Orion, they didn’t let it define them in
any sort of “legacy” way. Most didn’t even use their family name in public. A great
focus was about bringing personal benefit and individual accomplishments, but then sharing
those accomplishments with the family. The more successful a family, the more opportunities
opened up for the individual and the more resources such as marriage opportunities,
trade and power. A family was headed by both a matriarch and a patriarch who named their
own successors, not necessarily from their direct bloodline.
Orions often proved loyal to their leaders if they were deserving, to the death if necessary.
Revenge was a great motivator for the species because of this. They actively enjoyed duplicity
and deception alongside puzzles and problems, solving things and investigative behaviour
made them perfect for subterfuge, business, and crime.
The Orion people tended to flock together and stick to their own space. They termed
unexplored space as the “Outer Dark”. This is because they had a high appreciation
for comfort and opulence. They often indulgenced, even during business, on fine wines, food,
entertainment, gifts and so on. Usually used as shrewd tactics to soften up a mark, but
nonetheless enjoyed. This also meant that journeying between colonies was almost a nomadic
caravan affair as they brought their comforts with them. There was the Orion Space Navy
which served as a colonial military fleet, but role of the Syndicate largely supplanted
this in practice however. A common misconception around Orions concerns
their women, who were advertised as “animalistic slaves”, with carnal desires. In fact males
were subservient to females in their culture and this misconception was based on other
species own cultural assumptions and the further exploitation of this idea on the Orions behalf.
They used this to gain influence in other species frequently, for example a women would
voluntarily enter slavery, get sold off to wealthy individuals then apply their seduction
to gain power. In fact, there were entire schools of education directed at creating
the stereotype of the “Orion Slave Girls” who were taught not just sexual arts but how
to entertain, listen, and provide comfort. It should be noted that many males too were
trained in the same way for the same duties. They were extensively taught artwork, music
and theatrics and then trained in martial combat but most of all, to manipulate. These
tactics served them well for a long time but relied on their machinations not being discovered.
So the practice would eventually diminish with time as powers got wise to the ploy as
well as the increasing illegality of slavery being enforced by expanding powers such as
the Federation. Basically the species were very open about
sexuality and often acted on their natural desires. Though true, they tended to spread
and exaggerate the myth on purpose to create opportunities. The practice of slavery itself
has been tied to their culture forever it seems. Most Orion slaves were actually willing
and treated with respect, being termed contractors rather than slaves, in their native language.
Slavers and slave owners treated them with respect but still demanded servitude. Personal
effects were technically denied, but Orion slaves were gifted with many things. This
didn’t apply to other races they captured however. And it was a risk that their plans
never panned out and the fell into genuine servitude. But this was the reason for their
extensive training. Most of these activities were performed by
the aforementioned Orion Syndicate. Technically it isn’t part of the Orion government but
nonetheless holds great pull over the colonies in a mob style way. This led to rampant piracy,
cartels and protection rackets forming in Orion space where the cultural inclinations
of the species were often partnered with their aptitude for subtlety to leverage a great
amount of control, expanding across the quadrant. An anecdote among Starfleet officers became
“How do you tell an Orion merchant from an Orion pirate? If you have a phaser, then
it’s a merchant.” In essence the Orion people are rather more
complex than they initially appear. On the surface they’re slavers, pirates and exploit
their own kind for wealth, but it goes deeper than that. They play games with the other
powers around them, both the Syndicate and the Government practice manipulation on a
political scale through the skilful use of seduction, spying and brute force where applicable.
Their natural skillset turned slavery into a tool to work for them, but they maintain
an Orion-centric view on the act. Therefore their depiction as barbaric slavers is apt
if you’re not a native. With the changing of the times and the expansion of powers like
the UFP, aspects such as slavery were relegated to the past, with even the Syndicate toning
it down and operating further and further away from Starfleet arms. But again, this
is because the Federation is too big to ignore and not trade with, so we see the rise of
academic institutions that the Federation approves of and unions of trade that even
Starfleet captains like Pike considered retiring to. All the while, on the Klingon front, slavery
is still practiced and the Syndicate still operates it nefarious power plays. It seems
that the Orion people will always find a way to prosper in any landscape and if anything,
their influence has grown with time, it’s just got better at hiding it.
Thanks for watching the viewer voted cultural index and as mentioned, I want to do a small
addendum exclusively on the Orion Syndicate as it has undergone several changes with the
eras to survive and is no longer purely an Orion exclusive organisation. But for now,
the voted episode returns with the choices being themed from either the Fallout timeline
slaver empire, Caesar’s Legion, yes I know how I pronounced it, or perhaps the enigmatic,
red eyed Chiss from the unknown regions of the Star Wars galaxy.
Cast your vote by liking the appropriate comment below or suggest another race for the list.
What do you think of the Orions? Personally I think they are masters
of the façade and even the Federation seems to have fallen for it, all the while they
can build influence behind the scenes, legitimately and illegitimately, but I love that Trek has
this seedy underbelly. If Mos Eisley existed in Trek, it would turn up on an Orion colony.
Thanks for watching, I’ve been Ric and until next time, bye bye.