Although the main of Iromakuanhe society is peaceful and law-abiding, it is not without a sordid and dangerous criminal element. The greater underworld is not a place dominated by a single style of criminal or organization, with a variety of outcasts, dregs and gang scum locked in a dance of death for supreme command of the underground economy.
Some groups can trace their origins to the very first individuals to be exiled from settlements during the early days of colonization, and claim ancestry with the old bandit kings of lore, either as a form of respect or to lend themselves credence. However, the grand majority of modern criminal agencies only came to exist in their current form as the Commonwealth's communications infrastructure matured and advanced to a level where it could no longer be entirely controlled by the government. This led to the formation of illegal and hidden communications networks, and the eventual disruption of Commonwealth information control and censure against illegal activities.
Very little is illegal in Iromakuanhe society, so many of the more modern and civilized parts of the Underworld often own legal businesses and offer legal bodyguard and mercenary services to wealthy associates that have rapport to them such as merchant magnates. The idyllic, peaceful and easy lives offered to Iromakuanhe leaves few economic stresses on people, and is potentially the largest limiting factor on the size and manpower Underworld syndicates and gangs. Talent is at a premium and recruitment is low, so the culture is often hereditary and most organizational growth comes from offspring.
The most profitable illegal activities are said to be smuggling, especially precious Veyrinite and relics from unprotected ruins, and the counterfeiting of high-end Solanii weapons. Despite the smaller scale of such operations, one of the primary concerns of Commonwealth law enforcement is black market biotechnology, with a number of secret 'flesh merchants' producing body modifications and tailor-made familiars and marionettes with illegal specifications. Primary concerns are over the safety of modifications, and the fact that many black market biotech producers design and sell familiar-type servants with physical and psychological characteristics identical or near to those of an Iromakuanhe, a practice tantamount to a slave trade in Iromakuanhe eyes.
The various groups in the underworld are split along many lines as a consequence of their Iromakuanhe's dispersal across their star system and the distinctly heterogeneous nature of their culture and society. Traditional and metropolitan culture offer the most clear-cut of the divides, but many are split by geography, creed and the illegal trades they participate in. Some groups that have taken steps to legitimize themselves, such as the Syndicates, do not trade in Veyrinite or flesh, while Pirates are much less discerning because of their permanent status as outlaws.
Bandits were the product of early era colonization attempts, and continued to be a persistent problem in the development of wider desert communities until well into the AR 400's. It the lack of a cohesive system of law in early Iromakuanhe settlements on Maekardan that led to the permanent exile of undesirables, leading to the formation of roving outlaw bands who would raid land and air traffic passing between the main settlements.
Even once the unjust practices that led to their formation were formally ended, the Bandit Clans remained a powerful threat to regional stability on Maekardan and Mazerin. Over time, many groups rose to number in the tens of thousands and hand standing forces that rivaled those of the nascent Commonwealth, and formed into small nations of their own. Mountain fortresses and great airships gave the Bandit Kings great power and prestige, and many eventually disbanded their kingdoms peacefully, only to have the majorities of the thriving trade cities they built laid at their feet. Most of the clans went out peacefully and joined the new era that came with the proliferation of MASC technologies, but some stayed true to their ancestry and tradition and remain outlaws for life.
The current bandit clans are little more than thieves and raiders who strike vulnerable caravans in hostile lands, far from the watchful eyes of the Commonwealth government. They tend to be poorly equipped, using second hand or counterfeit technology, and rarely number in bands greater than a few hundred at a time. What remains of the great families cling to isolated strongholds, surrounded by the shambles of a glorious past long gone, old riches and mercenaries. Perhaps the only clans that remain active threats are the Marida and Nazarin of Maekardan, and the Soluh of Mazerin.
Because they hail from the same places and lead similar lives, space pirates and all but the most backwards of traditionalist bandits get along in most dealings. These predacious criminals are two of a kind, and rarely compete for prey and trade their spoils freely in spaceport and elevator cities. The distinction between the two is often further blurred by those pirates who settle planetside with the clans, and the numerous bandit clans that have moved to space and become fringe pirates in the safety and isolation of the Outer System.
Bandits keep lukewarm relations with the Syndicates, who tend to keep a cooler and more conservative approach to illegal activities. Many Syndicate houses have legitimized themselves and risen to prominence in proper Iromakuanhe society, something that the bandit clans have generally never succeeded in doing due to their stubborn clinging to the untamed regions of colonized worlds. However, the bandits have few buyers more willing or resourceful than the Syndicates, and keep strong ties if only for the valuable goods that the honorable underworld provides for them, such as weapons, water and the advanced technology of the era.
To compare the bandits with the Synod would be to compare the mountains with distant and unseen stars, or the far side of a moon. Bandits are figures of myth, social phenomenon with visible repercussions and a visible element of society, while the Synod are unseen bureaucrats, conspirators and far-seeing luminaries who guide society through with an invisible hand. The Synod are keenly aware of the Bandit clans, and may have plans for them, while the bandits are within the multitudes, unknowing of the great conspiracies in the wider world.
Making their way in life by traveling, trading, and stealing, the space pirates of the Iromakuanhe plunder for loot, cargo, and occasionally steal the entire ship of those they encounter in space. Trade lanes between planets in Iruotl System are seen most often, though there are rare instances of pirates going off the beaten track and hunting down prey outside of their system.
They will engage in ship to ship battles as well as send boarding parties to other ships. More often than not, they are both armed with ship-based weapons systems, hand-held weaponry, and often So-M1-1B Erla VANDR Civilian-type. It is uncommon, but possible, for them to have gotten their hands on some military-grade equipment, as well.
Pirates are not above murder, they often airlock those that are dispensable and eradicate without remorse. They will take no prisoners, though they will kidnap and ransom if it suits them. Bribery, extortion, and other dastardly acts to benefit themselves and their own ship and crew are utilized often by the common space pirate.
Bandits and space pirates are a hard couple to separate. They often work with one another while trading in ports or space elevators. Bandits turned fringe pirates are common occurrences in the Outer System. Along with those instances where pirates and bandits get along, pirates that have settled on planets also rub elbows and even run with bandits.
Pirates and the syndicate work against one another in most respects, but come together to trade when the bandits are not there to be the go-between for them. The relationship the syndicate have with trading and smuggling is often marred by the relationship pirates have with obstructing trade. And, so, they find ways to work with one another in instances and work like oil and water in others.
The synod may not know exactly how to put an end to the pirates, but the pirates only know to fear the synod. The relationship is a tenuous one and not one that has an uneventful future, or past. They have frequently had to put down acts of piracy in low key maneuvers that ended with mixed results.
Syndicates operate within the larger scheme of finance in order to greater the ability of their group to make money and make it well. Unlike pirates or bandits, they do not openly do their deeds, but are much more secretive in their dealings. The syndicates that operate do so in mostly family tier structures, spanning many lifetimes. Rarely do they work with those outside of their cultural identity and, thus, there are syndicates for all of the cultures represented in the tapestry that is the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth.
They carry out deeds for companies working against other companies often, creating competition and pitting livelihood against livelihood. The syndicates look for public officials to be in business with so they may either avoid or be aware of investigation into their dealings. They also will pay off Iromakuanhe Conclave officials for favorable legislature and to have things go their way in government.
On an individual level, they may commit theft to a person, hack an individual's personal information, or commit identity theft, as well as murder. Often victimizing businesses through extortion, theft, or fraud, the syndicate in question will take advantage of a business through any means possible. On a national level, they may bid rig public projects, counterfeit money, smuggle, or carry out other larger scale attacks on the wealth of the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth.
With bandits, the syndicates are capable of having good relationships. They are not as reclusive as the bandits and inhabit more of the worlds and space of the Iromakuanhe than the bandits do, but that does not mean they don't come into contact often. The bandits often carry out crime for the syndicates when it behooves them and are paid well for their loyalty.
The syndicates of the Iromakuanhe underworld don't often come into contact with space pirates, but when they do it goes one of two ways. Either they work well together, masterfully in unison, or the pirates take advantage of the syndicates as they trade or smuggle in space. That is proceeded by the syndicate exacting revenge on the ship or captain, which does and does not always come to fruition.
The synod does not take kindly to the syndicate unless it is under the synod's thumb and the synod continually tries to squelch their efforts. Cyclically, the synod will take down the syndicates at large, only for one of a different culture to rise from the ashes of another.
The synod is a tight-knit group of schemers and thugs that work in unseen ways when compared to bandits and space pirates. Unlike those two groups of those in the underworld, the synod is more likely to go unnoticed by the larger populace and is less steeped in history than they are. Despite that, the synod has had a greater hand in deciding the history of the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth.
They are able to move the pieces on the board of politics, finance, and society as a whole with ease and grace, for the most part. At times they do fumble and they're not without their ineptitudes depending on who is playing the masterful game of espionage and subterfuge against who. On the whole, though, those in the synod are quite capable and wholly deserving of the respect they garner. Despite this, those playing the game are most often seen as those outside of it and only a small sect of people are aware of who is in the synod and who is being played by them. They are not a familial tier ranking system, but of a hierarchal system that rewards those that are the most adept and capable at playing the games of the synod.
The Synod are too busy to deal with bandits and the bandits too unaware to deal with the synod.
Space pirates cause the synod grief from time to time, but in no way shape the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth in ways that the Synod do and, thus, the synod need not worry about them in comparison to the multitude of other things they must task their minds with.
Syndicates sometimes work with the synod and sometimes against. When their use has expired or when they work against the synod, syndicates are exposed or disposed of by the synod, which has the keys to the kingdom, in a sense.