The single biggest and most powerful organization in the Connection, the Star Organization is, on it's face, simply a trade conglomerate with a reputation for scrupulous honesty with those it contracts with, and the where-withal to take even the most dangerous routes and deliveries. This face is a paper thin mask however, as the Star Org is made up almost entirely of members of the Endless - a cult/religion that believes in the divinity of the Celesti, and Star Org supports it's masters well. In the wake of the Year of Fear, Star Org filled much of the political and judicial vacuum the Scouts left, a strangle hold they will fight to keep.
The Star Org is a relatively new edition to a long and drawn out story. As anyone who knows anything about Celesti can tell you, at some point in the past, the Celesti saved the universe from a threat. When this happened, or even anything about the threat or the conflict, is lost to history. But it has given rise to many things visible in the modern world. Among these is the Endless religion - a cult that places Celesti as the living will of some higher good, and thus places their interests above all others. It is not difficult to imagine how the Endless came to be - how the adulation of a thankful universe could turn into worship. How the religion grew and Celesti found welcome and glory though-out the galaxy.
It's also easy to imagine what sort of people such hubris might bring.
So began a cycle of Celesti aggrandizement, hubris, and opposition that continued until recently. The last trough of the cycle, where galactic opinion of the Celesti was at its lowest, came in the aftermath of the Talmi revolt, compounded by the newest allies of their former property, the socially suave humans, whose own history gave them a distinct distaste for slavery and autocrats, and whose natural reaction to the Talmi compounded their initial dislike for the Celesti clans who had driven the war long past the point when they'd lost. While the Clan heads remained safe and guarded by their wealth and power, many Celesti families suffered great hardship as the galaxy backlashed against them, sometimes with little cause or provocation. This reaction did not spare their staunch allies, the Endless. This is the environment that Star Org arose from.
Star Org was originally conceived as a fleet, and then a set of fleets, to transport Celesti and Endless to safer places when their current homeworlds turned on them. Of course, a fleet large enough to do this proved an expensive proposition. Thus the fleet was a fleet of modified merchant men-style vessels, to be used in trading when not on duty saving Celesti lives and relocating Endless enclaves. The Fleet was divided into several Wings - each Wing had an admiral (also addressed as a Wing), and was based more or less around the biggest Celesti population center in a given region, or in a convenient point to insure quick evacuations. Each Wing consisted of enough ships to get the entirety of the largest Celesti/Endless population in the region out. Star Org trade contracts still contain a stipulation that any and all cargo may be jettisoned in order to respond to emergency evacuation requests - a hold over from this period. As an incentive to balance this risk, Star Org ships were expected to enter troubled and dangerous areas, meaning they were built tougher and meaner than any other merchant at the time. Quite properly, Star Org was famous as a safe way to get a package through pirate infested areas, and earned goodwill for their anti-piracy operations. While not necessarily good ship handlers or engineers, the Endless zealots that often crewed Star Org ships were fearless and ferocious in a fight, and scrupulously honest in their dealings.
Things proceeded on in this fashion, each Wing growing more competent and able as they gained trade routes and contracts. However, the need to maintain a strength of arms and cargo space limited their effectiveness, and with no economy but their own to fall back on, the Wings of Star Org remained merely powerful, instead of dominant. Their influence did, however, make them well suited to certain additional measures, especially as a third party in trade disputes. Most Endless captains had a reputation for honest and respectability (assuming you weren't Dead Inside, and they didn't have instructions from their "divine" Celesti masters), and this made them a favorite choice for low end judgements and quick and dirty justice on the space lanes. And if the crew were more often sanctimonious little prigs who couldn't reason without a copy of their holy text, well, they were reliable, either for shipping or fighting criminal elements - a reputation that left most everyone at least mildly neutral. The reputation of the Celesti and the Endless were on the upswing.
And then the Year of Fear brought about its changes.
With so much conflict, and so many evacuations, the Star Org needed a more stable base - one it found in the collapsing edifice of Ziligo. How the Org came to possess the planet outright is unknown, though many assume that Scout Ziligo, better known as the Celesti Veled, had something to do with it. However it happened, the Star Org had found itself a tether to lash its forces together - a safe place to leave it's many found refugees, and an economic engine that allowed the Org to focus on speed and offense as much as cargo space and defense.
Further, as the year wore on, more and more people sought out the Star Org to make the judgements that the Scouts could not (or could not be trusted to) make any longer for a variety of reasons. The Celesti clan leaders and Endless church hierarchy quickly took advantage of these developments, sending ships to restore order and Star Org Judges to deal out the Endless' own brand of justice and due process. When the dust settled, the Scouts found themselves very firmly on the outs galaxy-wide.
Or, at least they seemed to be. The Star Org quickly began to strengthen and re-enforce their gains, and the blessed deliverance many planets courted very quickly became something much less welcomed. While the captains often received training in diplomacy in order to facilitate trading, the Judges and crews many planets suddenly found themselves hosting had no such skill, and very little interest in acquiring that talent. The zealotry came to the fore in most places, and the judgements took on a rather skewed perspective in some cases, even disregarding a planets laws in favor of Endless holy scripture and morals. Even when the interaction was not so heavy handed, governments beholden to the Star Org began to re-write policy to favor the Endless and the Celesti, with public sentiment being molded to suit the Star Org's ends.
25 years later, the Star Org has grown greatly, and has many more recruits thanks to whole planetary generations being raised in their creed. On the other hand, many are reminded of just how arrogant, closed minded, and bigoted a zealot truly can be - especially when the rank and file Star Org members are taught to neither think nor question their religion's orders and strictures. In every other cycle, this would see the Celesti and Endless driven out...but never have the Endless held such power, and many planets fear the Star Org as a tiger that they must ride, or be eaten whole. And the tiger knows it.
Talmi resistance, buttressed by certain human interests, remain the major hold out to Star Org, and the returning strength of the Scouts creates a second front for the Star Org to worry about. Adding to these troubles, the Dead Inside are taking exception to Star Org's form of justice (which often translates into "just shoot the abomination"), leading to many active and creative terrorist and assassination threats from a group that is collectively very hard to kill, and in the case of Reapers, almost impossible to find before they strike. The latest such threat came when Veled herself was targeted by a Terth Vampire named Qin - an attack so audacious (and so nearly successful according to all accounts), that simple execution was decided to be to good for the bloodsucker, landing him a role on the new series Last Res0rt (at least, that's the logic that the Celesti government expressed). Lastly, the latest generation of the Endless have grown lax in their pride and arrogance - leading the universe at large to hold the rank and file of Star Org in contempt (an attitude that may get a person killed in certain places) as well as fear. This is evident in the higher failure rates among their ships, and in conflicts than previously seen (the Org still out-preforms it's second-best competitor, especially in a fight with raiders, however).
Other news includes the capture of the "evil" Scout Areal, whose actions during the Year of Fear are held in especially low regard by the Endless, and the construction of the City of Wonders, site of the Last Res0rt program and advertised as a little bit of heaven for the living, with a grand view of hell across the way (on said program). Economically, Star Org's grasp continues to grow in most quadrants, and judicially, it's Judges grow further entrenched each day. The Endless hierarchy has learned a lesson in its millennial of service to the Celesti, and they refuse to let the universe's saviors fall from grace again.
Star Org ships are mainly staffed by Endless laypeople more known for their zealotry than anything else. While it is possible to be in the Star Org and not Endless, doing so at the lowest level is often difficult and stressful (And potentially dangerous, depending on how zealous a given co-worker is). While there are often 2 or 3 levels of sailor, depending on ship size, there are always 4 executives on each ship - Captain, who is the highest ranking person on board normally, and Chief Weapons, Chief Astrogation/Comm, and Chief Engineer. Each Chief may have 2 to 4 deputies by department. A crewperson may reach a higher rank by showing expertise under any one of these specialties, though it is rare for Astrogation to need them (which makes it rare for a crewperson to go from sailor to Astro-Deputy), and all Star Org sailors are expected to master the basics of each section. Previously, this functionally meant that Star Org had onee of the better educated crew populations, though they were often obsessed with rote and had difficulty with surprises. Given the increase in arrogance and emphasis on religious understanding, this general level of preparedness has dropped, leading to 2 things - either more "outsiders" being hired in as Deputies, which leads to internal conflict as the crew sees people being hired for bad (irreligious) behavior, or less reliable Deputies from within the ranks, often leading to systemic system failures.
Deputies have a slightly better chance of making it on an Org ship without being Endless, but most Captains encourage joining very strongly for the sake of keeping the crew happy. Advancing from Deputy to Chief is a long process, and requires serving as a Deputy for several years. Most Deputies will take rotations into the other sections; this is not required for becoming a Chief, but it is strongly recommended in Star Org policy, given Captain's requirements. In general, most Astro-Deputies start as Engi-Deputies, though Gun-Deputies are free to take a shift. Astro-Deps are also unusual in that they are the main recipients of educational material in diplomacy and trade relations, as their section is most likely, after the Captain, to actually interact with people outside the Org. Which translates into not being a total zealot jerk to the non-believers (which also means that the general crew has a natural suspicion of Astro-section). Deputies and Crew are both likely to see work on multiple ships, and transfers are generally viewed positively in respect to promotion (if they aren't too rapid).
Deputies get considered for promotion as spots open up, and the Org favors Deputies moving to a new ship to take a Chief position. If a Deputy manages to become a Chief without becoming Endless, then they have decent odds of not having to convert during their tenure as long as they can fake it (which, if they survived Deputy, they probably can). Star Org also hires Chiefs from "outside" - but this is often incredibly hard on the new Chief, due to pressure from the crew and the Deputies, especially if they weren't Endless before hand (it also implies that no Deputy that applied was capable of handling the Chief slot, which likely means that the ship is in bad shape, and the Captain is grasping at straws to get it fixed, or as a sign that the crew is opposed to the current Chief's retirement, and is likely to make the new Chief's life heck). It is unusual for a Chief to take a position on another ship - it is almost always due to taking Chief in another section, and is a sign that someone is aiming for a Captain slot.
Promotion to Captain requires having been Chief in all three sections, and having a meritorious tenure as Astro-Chief. Since Captains double as the lead negotiator for their ship, they get extensive diplomatic training, and are rarely considered without a glowing recommendation during their time in Astro. Unlike Astro, crew sentiment about the Captain dealing with "those damned heretics" is more "better them than me" and they are lauded for risking their spiritual well-being by treating with heathens, assuming the Captain doesn't become unnecessarily friendly and shows proper decorum on ship. Non-Endless Captains are rare, and becoming rarer, but as long as a Captain is discreet and publicly fakes enough reverence, they are far enough removed from the crew that censure and mutiny from that quarter is unlikely.
Captains are, by and large, the top of the roost, except for the Wings, space-side, since each ship acts as an independent in most cases. Multiple trade ships may come together in a convoy, but these function more like a loose council, with ships coming and leaving more or less at will (though proper notification is expected, and an early warning appreciated). Military Org Ships are often also sent out in singletons to patrol, and follow similar procedures when traveling together. This changes when a group of ships get formally tasked. With traders, this is generally an ad hoc operation to do something short term, like destroy a pirate nest. A squad of military Star Org get called in when such ad hoc structures fail (and given that Star Org traders are about a third the combat strength of an average military vessel of the same class, that's highly unusual), and generally are pulled to either guard a convoy, take a really nasty group of criminals, cover an evacuation, or to "encourage" certain recalcitrant governments on certain matters. In any case, Star Org regs place command in the hands of the most Senior Captain (Celesti) available; this rarely actually happens. Instead, each Captain declines the honor (humility among lesser beings is strongly promoted within the Endless, and most Captains are Sterling/Light Children/Touched - this process gets trickier when a Celesti Captain is present), until a Captain feels they are capable of handling it. As most Org Captains are fond of "sparring matches" via simulation with their brethren, this evaluation is often accurate enough to work, assuming each Captain is honest with themself (Note - this doesn't mean the best Captain is in overall command, just that the one that took it is likely to not to royally screw it up).
Star Org ships run on a 6 shift system. Most Crew "take 3s" or "take 2s" (taking 3 or 2 shifts in a row) depending on the crew size. If a ship section has 2 deputies, they take 3s on an offset schedule from the Crew, to provide continuity. If there are 3 Deputies, which is the most common, they take 2s, and then spend a third shift studying, in general. If there is a 4th Deputy, 3 work 2s, and the the 4th works "off 1" - taking a 2 offset from the other Deputies, and then taking a 3rd shift with the last Deputy, as a sort of spare and subordinate Deputy (and who's on 4th gets rotated regularly, of course). Chief's also work off 1 in general, and take the shifts that the 4th Deputy doesn't. While it is frowned on, a common disciplinary move is to assign someone to "take 1s" - assigning someone to take every other shift for some duration. It's also used on new crew so all the Deputies can get a feel for them.