The term “Orion Colonies” encompasses all the worlds held by Orions, whether within the Orion Neutrality Area proper, in Federation or Klingon space, or in the neutral zone between the two superpowers. All are Orion, although not all owe their allegiance to Botchok, the species’ homeworld in the Rigel system. Orions would rightly argue that their reputation as a people that sees laws (especially those of other nations) as a hindrance to the accumulation of wealth and power, is an undeserved racial slur that holds them back from achieving interstellar equality, but it cannot be denied that the Beta Quadrant’s most powerful criminal organisations are usually run by Orions, and that they practised inter-species chattel-slavery within living memory. Despite (or possibly because of) this reputation, Orions can be found everywhere, working, trading or hustling to make a living. Orion merchant princes live in the lap of luxury, and most Orions aim to emulate them, one way or another.
The Orion homeworlds in the Rigel system show signs of civilisation going back over 100,000 years, although Federation xenoanthropologists say that Orion civilisation is at most two millennia old, and that the Orions could not possibly have created the older ruins. The Orions counter that this is typical colonialist racism and claim that they were once the masters of a vast interstellar empire. There are certainly remnants that match the ruins in the Rigel system scattered across the Orion Arm, but whether the Orions built them is anyone’s guess.
Although the Botchok Planetary Congress operates a small anti-piracy fleet, the vast majority of Orion vessels are owned by civilian operators, from the vast trading fleets of the merchant princes, through the fleets of the pirate clans, to small tramp freighters. A number moonlight as smugglers or pirates, most operate entirely within the law, and all are armed. Orions operate a bewildering number of classes and types: most are bought from other species, but there are a small number of native designs, none of which resemble any of the others. It is speculated that these are old designs from various eras, inherited by the present-day Orions, a claim backed up by the fact that many seem to sport unusual technologies and features, which their owners are unable, or unwilling, to explain.