Developed by a less influential Orion trade cartel, the Freelancer was a design that was intended to be the cartel's signature ship, a vessel even more unique because of its reliance on only Orion-produced equipment.
This requirement severely handicapped the contractors hired to engineer the Freelancer. The contractors did not have the capacity to build any photon torpedoes and purchasing them from outside interests was prohibitive. Plasma weapons were also not a possibility because of their close range and fast damage drop-off. That left the Orion's homegrown particle interrupter weaponry as their final option.
The contract with the cartel fell apart when an on-site inspection by the cartel's leaders found the Freelancer to be an inadequate vessel at best, a total mockery at worst.
The loss of the contract coupled with the expenditures related to the Freelancer nearly ruined the contractor, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. Serendipitously, however, another investor was found that had connections with foreign weapons dealers and could procure several makes and models cheaply. The contractor refurbished the Freelancer and installed modular weapons mounts that made it easy to install both domestic and/or foreign weapons into the mounts.
The modular nature of the Freelancer has made it fairly popular in the Orion fleet and many entrepreneurial Orion captains have taken to the design because of the ease with which they can install newly procured systems onto the hull.
Original ship design and art by Dallas Reinhart & Jeff Willoughby.