Motes in the Serpent's Eye
The Black Hole Syndicate
The Dragon Empire is a place of enormous wealth and tremendous opportunity, and such places always attract the criminal element. Most crimes are committed either by ordinary people in the heat of the moment or by petty crooks who are destined to spend most of their adult lives incarcerated. While these small-time hoods can be dangerous to a citizen out on the streets late at night, they don’t even register on the Empire’s radar screen. They are the problem of the local Imperial Police precincts, the Empire’s real hooks are designed for bigger fish.
The Black Hole Syndicate is probably older than the Star League. Some believe it followed the Forongorn Confederation to the stars like a parasite riding along on its host. It is a vast, interstellar network of criminals that thrives on the illegal acquisition and trade of a dizzying variety of goods and services. The Syndicate backs and controls pirate rings operating along the Outlands frontier. It finances and coordinates smugglers running contraband to and from the imperial core worlds. It even traffics in the flesh of sentient beings, buying and selling slaves for pleasure or labor throughout the Domains of Asamet.
The Syndicate’s coordinated activities and complex enterprises suggest a single, unified command structure or organization. However, the Imperial Police have never been able to determine who gives the orders even at a planetary level. The Syndicate appears to be organized into individual cells, called gangs or crews, capable of operating autonomously for extended periods of time. In most cases, a crew’s leader does not even know the identity of the superior to whom he reports. This tangled, secretive organization makes investigating the Syndicate and almost impossible proposition.
The truth is the Black Hole Syndicate is only an “organization” in the loosest sense of the word. It has survived for so long simply because it can operate effectively on its own inertia with almost no control from the top. In some cases, decades have passed in which there was no overall leadership of the Syndicate at all. The individual crews continued operating and reporting up the ladder, but only the highest-placed Syndicate bosses knew that their massive, tentacle monster had no head. Usually, these bosses were undertaking a secret war amongst themselves to determine the next overboss. In other cases, the organization has been guided by multiple, competing bosses all struggling to gain sole control.