The Pirates of Orion cover the entire Alpha Octant, but by the time of the General War, few of them were actually Orions. Orion originally joined the Federation as an ally during the First Romulan War. Because the Federation needed Orion technology, ships, and shipyards, the Federation made a deal that gave the Orion province special autonomy. Among other things, this meant that the Orions (not the Federation) enforced Federation law inside Orion space. Pirate organizations based on Orion took advantage of this, becoming the headquarters of a far-reaching criminal operation including piracy, smuggling, and creating illegal mining colonies on unclaimed planets. The territory of the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Gorns, Kzintis, Lyrans, and Hydrans was overlayed by a network of fiercely independent criminal cartels. A crimelord led each cartel, and leased parts of his area to individual pirates as franchises for various criminal operations. One pirate might lease an area in which he had the sole right to attack merchant ships, while another pirate might get the franchise for all smuggling into and out of the Rigelian system. Each of these minor pirates was supported by the cartel network which bought stolen or smuggled goods, repaired damaged ships, bought and sold captured freighters, and traded in intelligence information on shipping schedules and police patrols. Most of the independent ship captains operating piracy franchises used light raiders or raider cruisers; the cartel itself maintained heavy cruisers which it used as enforcers to deal with those who poached without a franchise or failed to pay their franchise fees.
Orion ships are designed to avoid detection, being basically flat with angled hull plates to scatter any scanner beam that touches them. Internal volume is half as much as a regular warship of the same class, but this comes at the cost of miniaturized systems, high maintenance costs, and a distinct lack of crew comfort. The hexagonal structures on the wings are passive sensors which detect scanner beams at long range (before the ship doing the scanning can detect anything) and will then rotate the ship to be edge-on to the scanning ship, allowing it to evade detection while on its way to raid, smuggle, or illegally mine something.
The Orions were fascinated by the deployment of small attack craft by the Lyrans, and stole the technology (or got it by bribing officials) as quickly as they could. As with more “law-abiding” empires, the Orion cartels at first believed that the new boats would need to be docked in an internal bay so that repairs could be conducted, and this design appeared to meet the deployment needs of the new attack craft. It could only repair gunboats in its internal bay (which was accessed through a large hatch on the underside of the ship). During the first year of operation, the Light Gunboat Tender could not flush the ion buildup of the gunboat engines at the external mech links, but later managed to install systems for this purpose. It is unclear how many ships of this type were built by the various cartels. They were rented out as mercenaries, and various ships seem to have been sold by one cartel to another at one time or another. It is known that several ships of this class were still being operated by different cartels for “special missions” as late as the full invasion of the Andromedans.
Known names (with the owning cartel) include Assassin’s Den (Pharoah Cartel), Heathen Cove (Penzance Cartel), Mara Salvatrucha 13 (Hamilcar Cartel), Omerta (Lion’s Heart Cartel), and Wicker’s Yard (Omega Cartel).
This ship is available in a variety of materials. Ships are unpainted, use standard flight stands available from many sources, and, while designed for gaming, make fine display pieces.