Hello, welcome to the Index series where we
take a look at some of Science Fiction’s species and what makes them unique. Today’s
video is on the Hirogen, Star Trek’s species of delta quadrant residents whose culture
simply abides to the notion of the hunt. Without delay, let’s get the rundown on this race.
Biologically, the Hirogen are very tough. Their skin is mottled by scale-like patterns
and quite resilient. They too have keen senses as expected from a predatory species and physical
strength surpassing that of a Vulcan. They are also very tall when compared to galactic
averages, easily reaching over 7”. The females of the species are not seen but are referenced
to choose their mates based on their proficiency at hunting. Another useful traits is that
their immune systems could effectively nullify most sedatives.
1000 years ago, the Hirogen had a thriving culture, one that still likely included hunting,
but was also one of technological advancement and civilizations.
Yet over time, they gave in more and more to their predatory instincts to hunt until
it became an all-consuming way of life. They now live a more nomadic lifestyle and their
homeworld hasn’t even been alluded to. They are spreading outwards in a gradual attempt
to find new hunting grounds, leading them further and further apart as a species which
creates dissolution of their society. Most Hirogen live on their ships with a small
crew, it’s not unusual for a single vessel to only have two occupants and these ships
then travel in small groups, spread out over a sector of space, searching for worthy prey.
When the quarry is located, they begin to stalk the target while signalling for the
rest of the pack to join them. A group of Hirogen possess an alpha as the
leader who dictates strategy and leads the hunt. Then there is the beta who acts as the
second-in-command enforcing the will of the alpha on the rest. Should the Alpha die, the
Beta takes command. It is not unusual for an overeager hunter, especially a youth, to
become lost in the glory and urges of their hunting instincts, seeking to usurp the authority
of the alpha to claim their own trophies. Such actions are often frowned upon but as
is suggested by their hierarchy, repeated successes may lead to the creation of a competing
alpha. Their views on other lifeforms are pretty
limited. They were the hunters and everything else was prey for them to hunt. Saying that,
they were capable of trade and didn’t immediately kill every species they came across, but would
more than likely hunt a lone vessel. The concept of a “Fair Hunt” is present
throughout how they conduct their activities in an attempt to provide more worth to a trophy,
the experience and in a strange way, their prey. A Hirogen will prefer to make the kill
in person, rather than ship to ship combat, they will sometimes give prey a chance to
flee to extend the hunt so they may study its moves. They often frown on using overpowered
technology against an inferior species as it cheapens the thrill of the sport. Then
again, they will also quite contently gun down defenceless prey once they have satisfied
their primal trill seeking. This is referred to as the time of the kill and seen as the
culmination to a successful hunt. A poor hunt is one where the prey offered
little challenge to the hunters. For example, a successful ambush against an unwary target
that results in its capture is often seen as a wasted effort, despite it reflecting
excellent hunting technique and a flawless execution. The most prized hunt is to find
a quarry that runs the risk of outsmarting, losing or even turning the tables on its Hirogen
pursuers. It is sage advice from experienced hunters that temper their younger members
with cautions not to underestimate the prey, even to respect it.
The reasons for extending the length of the hunt may be routed in their philosophy as
well as their desire for sport, with some hunts taking up to 6 months to complete. Some
see the actions of prey as a way of understanding how other species work and even as a learning
opportunity for the Hirogen. Examining the Prey’s motivations, instincts and even culture
to some extent taught the Hirogen how to become more effective hunters. Some, more radically,
believed that immersing yourself in the culture of your prey could further lead to Hirogen
development, though these views were considered unconventional.
It is not uncommon for them to bag prey alive and bind it until they have had time to study
the acquisition and question it if sentient. This way they may slaughter the prize in a
controlled setting and reduce the likelihood of damaging a trophy from their quarry as
well as learn from their prey. The captive is then marked with a smear of dark blue paint
over the right brown. This seems to be tied to one of their rites concerning the proper
execution of the hunt. The experience had during the hunt determines
the individual worth of a trophy, alongside the rarity or uniqueness.
Trophies are displayed within the Hirogen’s dwelling, often their ship and are termed
“artefacts of the hunt”. Most often these trophies take on the form of a biological
component of the prey itself, but sometimes salvaged technology. Often skeletal structures
are displayed around a Hirogen vessel, either mounted to a bulkhead or hanging from collection
nets. Other organs can prove to be worthy of display such as intestines, which would
necessitate some form of preservation. After an appropriate trophy has been selected,
the remainder of the capture is added to a denaturing tank to break it down. It has been
suggested the resulting soup is then ingested, though no Hirogen has been witnessed doing
so, but it is not unlikely that they consume their prey. After all, this is the original
intent of hunting. The rest of the unwanted prey such as skin is often dumped unceremoniously
where it was found and the Hirogen move on, leaving behind a grizzly signpost of their
passing. There seem to be a number of rites observed
with ritualistic fashion surrounding the hunt. When a hunt is declared, a Hirogen will apply
two white stripes over their left brow, whether helmeted or not, or mimic the action if no
paint is present. Another mark of the hunt is two red stripes, one over each brow to
mark out the leader of a hunt. Marking captured prey with a blue stipe over the right brow
seems to indicate it is a prize of the hunt to be prepared. There is also the use of two
green stripes over the right brow which was applied during a rescue attempt on the Hirogen’s
part, so this may indicate to other Hirogen that they are in the midst of an operation
other than a hunt. During a hunt, they would communicate with hand signals and minimal
verbalisation along with the use of their technology.
Being a race immersed in hunting a wide range of creatures and aliens as well as their preclusion
for taking trophies from their game leads even the most basic Hirogen to have a grounded
understanding of the anatomy of a myriad of species. It’s not surprising then then that
they prove to have proficient healers and medics among their number, as many a Hirogen
are wounded in the pursuit of their quarry. Though a Hirogen healer or surgeon has an
efficient grasp of the physiology of many species, their cultural bias against most
others and their own species hardy nature leads them to be somewhat rough and crude
when plying their trade to non Hirogen patients. Their seems to be no bias against medical
care among their culture, as given the choice of continuing a hunt or losing your life to
an infected wound, most Hirogen will choose to live to hunt another day, even accepting
aid from outsiders if it will keep them alive. Some Hirogen bare scars from past hunts as
marks of their past conquests, despite having the medical know how to remove them.
Other Hirogen technology includes their rifles which are Tetryon-based, and look like they’ve
been ripped right off a Harley Davidson. The poses the ability to stun a target as well
as kill and have and sensor and tracking device built into the stock.
Their ships were rather small as suited their pack-like hunting methodology, but possessed
a number of adaptations to allow them to contend with more powerful vessels. Their Monotanium
plating was incredibly durable but had the added benefit of scattering active scans of
their vessels, making automated targeting of them a hassle. The utilised a highly invasive
scan to effectively flashbang a ship’s sensors before they struck. They lacked any form of
cloaking device, fortunately, but had learned how to effectively conceal their vessel’s
emissions to enter a stalking mode that would make the vessel much harder to detect. Their
armaments were rather powerful too, for vessels of their size, attributed to the scale of
their canons that were seldom used to actually destroy ships. As mentioned, the Hirogen prefer
to engage in a sense of “fair play” with their prey and after disabling shields, they
often tractor beam the target, board the ship and assault their quarry on a personal basis.
Assault their quarry on a personal basis? Sounds like they’re hurling insults… I
could have phrased that one better. Each vessel ends up with a highly personalised interior
as it is used to display the artefacts of the hunt and trophies the crew have acquired.
One of their most impressive feats is their advanced armour. Which also looks cool AF.
This armour acts as life-support, and can apparently withstand the surface mantle of
a collapsed star. Even if this is hyperbole, it’s still very durable.
Much of their technology as can be surmised is geared up towards the act of hunting, leaving
little room for much else. Though they are seen adopting new technologies and utilising
foreign devices such as the ancient subspace com network and adapting Starfleet holographic
technology to build training facilities. Though both of these devices would go on to prove
why the Prime Directive is a thing, with one relay collapsing and destroying four Hirogen
ships and the holograms the Hirogen created gaining sentience and starting a whole holographic
revolution. Ultimately, the Hirogen are an awesome species
with a cool aesthetic but may be doomed to fall. Their all-consuming hunt has led them
to spread themselves too thin and without central hubs to anchor their people, they
will eventually drift further apart until reunification is unobtainable. Their packs
are too small to sustain them and this is exacerbated by individuals who wish to claim
the glory of the hunt for themselves so go it alone. Even the Kazon, a fellow nomadic
species travel in flotillas, convene meetings among their sects and have a planetary presence.
If the Hirogen once had this, it long gone, though they seem to remember how to manufacture
space stations, so perhaps there is still hope.
Thanks for listening to this cultural index on Star Trek’s answer to the Predator. They
are one of my favourite species and I enjoyed pretty much every episode they appeared in.
So the next index will be a viewer voted one as usual, in the comments below, the next
options will be either turning out gaze towards the Marvel universe, with Thanos, the Mad
Titan’s homeworld of…uh, Titan. Or perhaps the short-lived Independent Planets from the
equally Short-lived but epic, Firefly. Vote with a like on the appropriate comment below
and until the next video, I’ll see you around. Goodbye.