The storied Orion Cartel is actually comprised of five major Cartels, each with a host of clustered families. Each grouping has a particular speciality, though most of the Cartels at least dabble in each of the other areas. Together the Cartel dictates what little government there is; Orions bristle at the idea of having others speak for them, so the legislature is decentralized in the form of local mayors and town constables.
The Cartels maintain a tense truce with one another, always watching for an opportunity to score marks (social status points) against the others. The rivalry between the Conarens and Nariens is second only to the almost open warfare between the Woltars and Slindaks, who have turned 'armed and uneasy truce' into an art form. Only the presence of the other three cartels keep the bloodshed at a minimum.
The rivalry between the Conarens and Nariens stems back almost 200 years, back to a time when they were one family. A failed marriage tore the once mighty Falcoon cartel apart, fragmenting and polarizing what was once a unified and coherent organization. In its place remained the Conarens and the Nariens... and the Kalzina, who used the rift as an opportunity to strike out on their own.
Of great concern to the other three cartels is the rift between the Woltar and Slindak cartels. An experimental weapons system sold to the Woltars failed catastrophically, taking the lives of the second in command of the Woltar fleet and his family. The Woltar heirarchy accused the Slindaks of assassination, and the Slindak response was a shrug. Matters escalated quickly into a bloody feud that ravaged both groups near to the point of dissolution. Things have since settled into a grimly armed staring match. It's only a matter of time until someone twitches...
Beyond the five cartels there exists a sixth group comprised of the outcasts and misfits. For some it's the final resting place of a lifetime of mistakes, for others a dark place found while searching for a second chance. There exists no true authority for the lost ones other than survival at all costs. When one of the cartels need hired and expendable muscle, this is a wealth of willing bodies. Obedience and luck may grant an opportunity to once again "belong".
Currently Operating Cartels Edit
The Conaren Cartel Edit
The strongest of the cartels, the Conarens specialize in gambling and money laundering concerns allowing them to get their hooks into nearly every piece of Orion society. They have agents and lookouts scattered through most of the localized governments, giving them clout that the other cartels have difficulty matching. Families under the Conaren umbrella operate colleges as well as casinos; it keeps a steady flow of talented accountants coming into the organization as well as fostering a certain 'gratefulness' to the recipients of scholarships. They dabble in most of the other areas, but stay clear of the drug market. Individuals who allow themselves to become compromised by an addiction are removed from their positions and pushed out of the cartel. Only rarely will a 'discard' be welcomed back into the fold, and most of the people displaced in this manner gravitate towards the Narien cartel where a more permissive attitude towards drugs is to be found. Those that join the Nariens are viewed (by the Conarens) as traitors, never to be trusted again.
The Narien Cartel Edit
The drug lords of the Narien cartel are the second most powerful of the family-based cartels. A natural extension of their area of expertise, most of the hospitals in Orion space are controlled and operated by the Nariens. While the drug market is their bread and butter, the upper echelons are pruned regularly to prevent anyone with an actual addiction from having any real power in the organization. The best organized of the cartels, they pride themselves on efficient operation and a clear chain of command. From the street peddlers to the political wheeler/dealers, they're all puppets on the Narien string. It's a point of pride that they never let the others forget. Were it not for the stronger Conaren cartel, the Nariens would have long since taken over completely.
The Kalzina Cartel Edit
Only in Orion society could the slavers end up the force of neutrality. They do a booming business in salable flesh, caring little for the source or the wishes of the sold. The all-mighty credit is the bottom line, and they don't care whether the merchandise is being rented or sold outright. The cheerfully mercenary outlook of the Kalzina merchants has earned them a reputation as the ultimate freelancers, willing to take on most any risk to open up more tradeable markets or more sources of 'merchandise'. The other four cartels seem more than willing to let the Kalzina's blaze the trails, reaping in the collateral profits from their own specialties. Rumor has it that the Kalzina traders occasionally hit sleeper ships or passenger liners for their wares, though nothing has ever been proven.
The Woltar Cartel Edit
The Woltars are the lords of all things transported. If you need something shipped, need something picked up, or just plain need a ship for your own use, the Woltars are the ones to talk to. The consummate salesmen, they view the entire galaxy as one big used vehicle market. And if that ore hauler happens to be an old Federation ship that's been stripped of registry and 'repurposed', well that won't stand in their way. Most of the stereotypical 'Orion pirates' are Woltars or agents on their behalf, and the rumor mill is rife with reports of ships commandeered and/or stolen by the cartel, but as is the case with the Kalzina traders nothing has ever been proven. Recent gossip would indicate a much closer working relationship with the Kalzina than previously believed.
The Slindak Cartel Edit
Far and away the most militaristic of the Cartels, the Slindak's treat business with a deadly seriousness. If you want a weapon, the Slindaks can get it for you. Obscure? No problem. Experimental? It'll cost extra, but still no problem. Closely guarded military secret? It'll cost a LOT extra, but if anyone can get it for you you've come to the right place. Nothing and nobody gets in their way without paying a price. Skirmishes with the larger cartels have proven over time that life means nothing to the Slindak leaders; manpower is cheap so long as the lost ones remain desperate for work.