This is a Freeborn House from James Buckley.
The Vardos Sisters
A network of affiliated criminal gangs and doma, led by three sisters, operating independently across different parts of Antarean space.
A red, feature-less sun on a black background.
Dark crimson red and black in the Sisters’ fleet. Otherwise the affiliates have no set uniform (though during battle the domari they put forward will often wear armour supplied by the Sisters’, in the house colours).
The Vardos Sisters is atypical in that it is not a ‘House’ per se. Rather it is a network of affiliated criminal gangs or doma. The network (known as “the Sisterhood”, to detractors) is led by the Sarak Sisters, three secretive sisters (at least they are believed to be sisters).
The Sisters provide protection, order and opportunity for criminal enterprise to the network in return for tithe, fealty and – on occasion – domari troops. Each sister controls a small ‘home’ fleet that operate in different parts of Antarean space. At the core of each fleet is a Court, a bureaucracy that – on behalf of the relevant Sister – loosely coordinates the activities of the network. The Court also arbitrates disputes and ensures relations with the Vardos and other powerful players in the region are not overly imperilled by the activities of the network. The three Sisters largely act independently in their different Antarean regions but communicate via emissaries and only in extremis do they meet in person, such as to agree longer-term strategies, identify shared threats, or resolve intra-Sisters disputes that may emerge.
In order to ensure network discipline, timeliness of tithe, and to inspire a certain level of fear, the Sisters maintain an elite, very well armed force of Vardinari on their fleets. These are led by the Nieces, fierce female Vardinari leaders, that are totally loyal to the Sisters. They also maintain a network of ‘shadow agents’ infiltrated within most of the affiliates, reporting back to the Sisters on the activities of the affiliates, and arranging the occasional visit from a Niece if an affiliate steps too out of line.
The Sisters themselves don’t (usually) engage in criminal activities. Rather they receive tithes of between around a fifth to a twentieth of the annual income of members of the network, depending on the level of affiliation. This generates an incredible amount of income, and the Sisters – what little is known about them – are thought to be among the richest individuals in Antarean space.
It is important to note that while other Vardos may publicly denounce the scourge of the Sisters and their criminal activities, in private they generally try – through emissaries – to maintain good relations with them. The Sisters have access to significant financial resources, gangs and doma with ruthless violent tendencies, and links to most of the organised criminal enterprises throughout Antarean space, making them useful allies, and frightening enemies.
House Oszon is no exception, and Bero Herran has sought to cultivate a relationship with Sister Misir Sarak, whose domain covers Algoryn space. The rumours are that he uses the Sisters’ network to supply weapons and slaves across the Prosperate, generating a tidy income without overly endangering the trading relationship he has with the Algoryn. The rumours go further and suggest are that he’s even met the Sister, which if true would make him one of the view outside the inner circle of her Court to do so.
The home fleets of the three sisters are similar in size, numbering not more than two dozen vessels at any one time. It is never clear to outsiders which ship a sister travels in, and little is known about their capabilities, military or otherwise. The home fleets travel constantly in each sisters’ region of Antares space. In this way the sisters cover most if not all their ‘home’ gates in an Earth year, ensuring the collection of tithe at each.
Given their wealth, network, and sizeable role in technology and arms smuggling, the Sisters have access to all the latest technology and weaponry. That said they don’t maintain an army as such, beyond the very well armed, but small, elite Vardinari regiments in each sisters’ small house feet. These Vardinari regiments have arrangements with network affiliates to call up additional domanari or feral units where required, and organise the supply of, and training in the use in, skimmers or bigger weapons for these affiliated fighters, in the event that some serious combat is in the offing. The Sisters try to avoid such conflict, but inevitably, it can sometime be good for business (such as the very lucrative offer made by Bero Herran to Sister Misir Sarak to have her Nieces carry out clandestine special-ops on several interesting planets Herran has his eye on…)