The Hirogen were a nomadic species of hunters who were encountered by the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant in the 2370s. They viewed other lifeforms as prey and treated them as such, showing little evidence of compassion or empathy for other intelligent species.
Hirogen adult males were quite large, standing above the average height of most other known humanoid species. They also possessed greater physical strength than most humanoids afforded to them by their advanced muscle and nervous system. Their sensory perception was acute, a feature that served well as the Hirogen were an aggressive hunting species. The Hirogen also possessed an impressive immune system. The Hirogen used an enzyme to break down the bones and muscle tissue of their prey, suggesting that the Hirogen used some of their victims as food. The color of Hirogen blood is red. (VOY: "Prey", "Flesh and Blood")
No Hirogen females were encountered by the USS Voyager, though it was suggested by male Hirogen that women pursued male hunters in possession of rare or unique trophies acquired during a hunt. (VOY: "Hunters")
Society and culture Edit
Hirogen society centered around "the hunt", which they regarded with a reverence that bordered on spiritual awe. Elements of their culture, such as social rituals and beliefs, were based on the hunt. One of the rituals surrounding the hunt involves hunters applying paint to their faces and helmets for both the hunt and the kill. Even with no face paint available, one specific Hirogen fighter who was forced to fight in the Tsunkatse matches still went through the ritual of running his finger over his face, as if applying paint. (VOY: "Hunters", "Tsunkatse") Hirogen culture required a hunter to study his prey to understand its abilities, believing that such study was essential to prevent a hunter from becoming the hunted. Choosing the most appropriate weapon to make the kill was considered important; a scythe-like knife seems to have been the preferred method for close range. There was great importance placed upon the moment of the kill and it was believed that the way a creature behaved when it was wounded was the key to its destruction. (VOY: "Prey") Hirogen were known to express disappointment when the species they chose to hunt proved to be unchallenging. (VOY: "Hunters") They rarely saw other humanoids as equals because they often did not consider non-Hirogen as hunters. As a result, being called "worthy prey" by a Hirogen was meant as a great compliment. The Hirogen believed "you must never sympathize with your prey." However, they did bestow a rather unique non-Human compassion towards their prey, believing that they should never let their prey suffer. (VOY: "Tsunkatse")
Most Hirogen vessels traveled alone, sometimes with a crew consisting of as few as merely two members. One such vessel was known to have spanned a radius of a thousand light years in just five years; it had also visited as many as ninety star systems in a single year. (VOY: "Prey") Occasionally, however, Hirogen vessels were encountered in groups or packs. This was more common if they were hunting a challenging and resilient prey. The Hirogen social structure was organized into packs of male hunters similar to a wolf pack, each led by a Hirogen known as the Alpha. (VOY: "The Killing Game, Part II") The second-in-command was the Beta – if the Alpha died, the Beta became the Alpha. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood")
After the Hirogen caught their prey, they removed the skeletal system, muscles, internal organs, ligaments, and tendons by a surgical procedure known as an osteotomy. These items were kept as relics of the hunt. Unusual relics brought envy from other Hirogen males, and Hirogen females desired a male who had such unusual relics. These items couldn't be taken before the moment of the kill. Status was determined by possession of prizes from hunts, often body parts or technology obtained from their prey. These prizes, called "trophies" or "relics", were displayed in nets hanging from the ceilings or walls of their vessels. In the case of skulls, they were often mounted as a wall display. (VOY: "Hunters")
- "The way a creature behaves when it is wounded is the key to its destruction."
Hirogen philosophy and lifestyle was almost totally based around one major activity: hunting. The hunt was the most important part of Hirogen life, and absorbed most of Hirogen activity. Prey which put up a struggle before they were killed in the hunt were considered "worthy prey". The Hirogen thought that these prey made better trophies. The weaker, less cunning prey were considered pathetic prey, and gave no satisfaction or challenge to the hunt. To get food, it was speculated that the Hirogen ate their prey. It was also apparent that the Hirogen liked to learn as much as possible about their prey if they were captured alive. Because their entire lives were spent hunting, little time or resources were left for research and development. The Hirogen were nomadic. They had no homes or bases of operations. This was not always the case however. The Hirogen were once a great civilization and an advanced culture. (VOY: "Hunters", "Prey", "The Killing Game", "The Killing Game, Part II", "Flesh and Blood")
Ancient Hirogen civilization was knowledgeable and possessed advanced technology. However, by the 24th century, the Hirogen no longer identified with a homeworld; their nomadic existence was driven by the pursuit of prey. (VOY: "Hunters") This had caused Hirogen society to put nearly all of its energy into increasingly unproductive hunts in increasingly exhausted territories, bringing cultural and scientific advancement to a near standstill. The Hirogen way of life had not changed for a thousand years. They lived as nomads and had dispersed themselves throughout the quadrant, becoming a solitary and isolated race. It had even been stated by one Hirogen, Karr, that in another thousand years, no one would remember the name Hirogen, as they were hunting themselves to extinction. (VOY: "The Killing Game")
In 2357, a Hirogen hunter was captured on his son's first hunt and forced to participate in Tsunkatse matches. He remained a forced participant in the blood sport until the Federation starship USS Voyager rescued him in 2376. (VOY: "Tsunkatse")
In 2374, the USS Voyager had several rough encounters with members of the Hirogen species. The first of these incidents occurred while the starship was attempting to make contact with the Federation via a communications network claimed by the Hirogen. When ordered to stop, Seven of Nine initiated an electrical pulse, shocking a Hirogen male into submission through his interface. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle") The Hirogen also captured and attempted to kill Lieutenant Commander Tuvok and Seven of Nine of Voyager, and the Federation vessel forcefully disabled their relay network. (VOY: "Hunters")
While hunting a particularly resilient prey, a member of Species 8472, a Hirogen hunter was forced to accept help from the Voyager crew when the prey boarded the Starfleet vessel. When other Hirogen ships arrived, the hunter and his prey were returned to the Hirogen people by Seven of Nine, despite the fact that she had specifically been ordered by Captain Janeway that the Starfleet crew would not sacrifice another sentient lifeform to save themselves. (VOY: "Prey")
Later, a pack of Hirogen ships successfully claimed the starship Voyager and forced the crew to participate in vast holodeck hunting simulations, brainwashing the crew to believe they were genuine characters in the holodecks while leaving a select minority outside to treat the crew and create additional holobuffers throughout the ship. The holodeck technology offered the Hirogen a better chance to study their prey, and the Alpha believed it represented the next stage of Hirogen social evolution. However, the Federation crew eventually fought back, The Doctor and Harry Kim managing to 'deprogram' Seven of Nine – as she was participating in a Nazi program – and give her the key to free other members of the crew. Eventually, the restored crew forced the Hirogen to a standoff resulting in the death of the Alpha, although the current Beta, resenting his Alpha's decisions and partly convinced by the Nazi vision of superiority, attempted to kill the crew anyway, until he was killed by Captain Janeway. She gave the new Alpha the data necessary to make holographic technology, in the hopes that it would calm Hirogen society and stop them from hunting sentient beings. (VOY: "The Killing Game", "The Killing Game, Part II") On stardate 51762, Janeway negotiated a cease-fire with the Hirogen, suspending hostilities. (VOY: "The Voyager Conspiracy")
Iden's Rebellion Edit
In 2377, the results of this attempt at cultural manipulation were discovered. The Hirogen had gone on to make holographic prey in huge space stations, fitted with holoemitters. In order to make the prey more challenging, they had programmed the holograms not only with the ability to feel pain, so that they would avoid the hunters with more desperation, but also to learn and to retain knowledge after being killed. When they were reactivated for another hunt, they would remember the last one. The result was truly worthy prey. Predictably, however, prey that adapts quickly becomes the hunter. Iden's Rebellion began; the holograms fought back, resulting in many Hirogen deaths. The holograms went on to liberate other holograms and kill members of other biological species, until they discovered a planet where they could create a colony and live in peace. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood")
Science and technology Edit
Hirogen technology was not made for comfort. It, like its makers, was focused on the hunt. The Hirogen body armor had internal life support, with a breathing apparatus over the mouth and nose, and it can protect a Hirogen hunter while seeking prey in most hostile environments, including the surface of a collapsed star. (VOY: "Prey")
The Hirogen have an arsenal of various formidable weapons, including a tetryon rifle with a sensor display that helps a hunter to track his prey. (VOY: "Hunters", "Flesh and Blood") They also have a device that seems to function much like a tricorder, which reveals bio-data on the captured prey. A Hirogen hunter learned from scanning Seven of Nine that she had a long coiled intestine, which he believed would make an unusual relic. (VOY: "Hunters")
Hirogen ships made use of various technologies including torpedo launchers, shield emitters, and sensors. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood") Hirogen vessels were also equipped with a subnucleonic beam that could perform rapid scans of other vessels and could severely disable another ship, disrupting its propulsion and its navigational sensors. Once a targeted ship was disabled, the Hirogen could use their tractor beam technology to tractor in their prey. Their ships also had monotanium armor plating. This plating offered extra protection and it had the added effect of scattering targeting beams. (VOY: "Hunters") Hirogen vessels were also able to mask their engines by operating in stealth mode when they wished to track a vessel without alerting it to their presence. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood") The command center of the Hirogen vessel had a large metallic sphere with deep intersecting grooves. Manipulating the rods set into the unit could alter the vessel's speed and attitude. Information about incoming fire, the stability of the Hirogen ship's hull armor, and navigational sensors were also relayed through this station. (VOY: "Hunters", "Prey", "Flesh and Blood") Standard Hirogen vessels were capable of overpowering an Intrepid-class starship in groups. (VOY: "Hunters")
They communicated over a subspace relay network. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle") This alien network was over 100,000 years old and extends to within communication range of the Alpha Quadrant. The relays were powered by artificial quantum singularities, similar to Romulan warp drives. Each of these relays produced an intense gravitational field. Voyager destroyed one of the relays and the energy from the quantum singularity created a massive discharge that disabled the stations on the relay network. (VOY: "Hunters")
The Hirogen started making use of holographic technology in the form of holographic training facilities after being given an optronic data core by Captain Janeway in 2374. (VOY: "The Killing Game, Part II") These training facilities combined Hirogen technology with Federation technology, as components such as LCARS-style controls were present. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood")
Hirogen starship classes Edit
Background information Edit
The initial inspiration for the Hirogen was the considerable size of football players. Joe Menosky remembered, "Brannon [Braga] and Bryan Fuller were watching NFL one night, and Brannon came into the office the next day and said, 'I think we should have some big, scary aliens.' He just went on and on about how these football players are humongous." The writers realized that the largeness of such an alien species would set them apart from the aliens normally featured in Star Trek, which were of typical Human size. It was thereafter that the Hirogen's nomadic and hunting natures were devised. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 98)
The Hirogen resemble the race of hunter aliens from the Predator franchise, which may have inspired such aspects as the design of the Hirogen's culture, their veneration of "the hunt", the collection and public display of relics, and the use of a breathing apparatus for alien atmospheres. Joe Menosky admitted that the Predator aliens were an influence on the Hirogen, saying of the latter species, "They were our little way of emulating Predator and so forth." (Star Trek Monthly issue 39, p. 13)
On the other hand, the production staff was eager to differentiate the Hirogen from the Kazon, the latter species having been widely thought to have been unsuccessful. Property master Alan Sims observed that the Hirogen were slightly similar to but ultimately distinct from the Kazon: "As barbaric as the Hirogen were, they were different from the Kazon because the Hirogen were trophy hunters who, although they competed with one another [like the various Kazon sects], were nevertheless rule-driven. There was an organization to their violence that differed from the tribalism of the Kazon." (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 177) Brannon Braga likewise remarked, "I thought we held on to the Kazon for a year too long [...] and at the most we could do a little story arc with aliens, like we did with the Hirogen hunters." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 66) Indeed, the fourth season arc in which the Hirogen were introduced was another factor that influenced their evolution. Explained Joe Menosky, "You know, the idea [is] that [...] as we move, we'll run into somebody and hang out with them, be in league with them or be attacked by them over the course of several episodes, and then leave them behind as we continue on our course to the Alpha Quadrant [....] The Hunter aliens were conceived like that." (Star Trek Monthly issue 39, p. 13)
The fact that the Hirogen were originally imagined as having a larger build than the typical Human influenced the casting of the alien roles, making the task of finding suitable actors problematic. "When we were casting these guys for the first time," Joe Menosky explained, "Brannon didn't want to read anyone under 6 foot 7, 6 foot 6. It's really difficult to find the right people for roles anyway, so when you start hamstringing yourself by saying, 'We also only want people who are over 6 foot 7,' it gets really, really tough. If you look at all these episodes, you'll see a couple of these big guys, but mostly they're not." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 98)
Make-Up Supervisor Michael Westmore, who found the Hirogen "interesting," based the look of their mottled skin on a gila monster. (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 82) The enormity of the actors playing the Hirogen meant that the heads for the aliens, as created by the makeup department of Star Trek: Voyager, were required to be oversized. Also, the props that were to be handled by the Hirogen had to match their largeness. Alan Sims recalled, "These guys couldn't wield props built for [commonly-sized] humans; they had to be oversized props, large weapons the size of bazookas that would take two normal-sized humans to deploy." (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, pp. 166 & 177)
In common with Michael Westmore, Tuvok actor Tim Russ thought the Hirogen were interesting. "They were fascinating characters," Russ commented, "and very dangerous [....] The Hirogen stuff I liked a great deal." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 100 & 102)
While the Hirogen only appeared on Voyager, they have been written into novels of other series. One such instance is in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Gateways novel Demons of Air and Darkness, where a Hirogen fights against Taran'atar, a Jem'Hadar assigned by Odo to Deep Space 9.
In Star Trek Online, bands of Hirogen have spread into the Beta Quadrant and contacted various powers there, including the Romulan Star Empire under Empress Sela. In-game Tetryon-based hand weapons used by players and enemies share design traits with Hirogen weapons as seen in the show.
According to the novella Places of Exile, the Hirogen were known to the Borg as Species 478.
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