Not an empire at all but a criminal organisation, the Orions are involved in piracy, smuggling, and all manner of other crimes. The Orions have divided the Alpha Octant into several areas, called Cartels, each run by crimelord. Over time, the borders between these areas shift, as one crimelord bullies his neighbour. Rarely, an existing Cartel disappears or a new Cartel is created. Some of the areas within a given Cartel may be more (or less) under the total control of the crimelord. The crimelord has some heavy ships and some of the regular working ships. Most pirate ships are run by independent captains who ‘lease a franchise area’ from a crimelord, getting from that area whatever they can (piracy, smuggling, or other criminal acts). In any case, the contractor gets what he can out of the area, paying the crimelord. At any given time, some franchise leaseholds do not have a pirate in them as the previous tenant make a real mess of things and so upset the government that they sent police and naval units to the area. Generally speaking, the idea is to make your profit without getting the government so upset they must respond.