Hirogen adult males are quite large, standing above the average height of other known humanoid species. Their sensory perception is acute and quite useful for a hunting species. The Hirogen also possess an impressive immune system for attacking foreign bodies. They use an enzyme to break down the bones and muscle tissue of their prey. This suggests that the Hirogen use some of their victims as food. (VOY: "Prey", "Flesh and Blood", "Hunters")
- Nothing is known about the physiology of Hirogen females or Hirogen child development.
Society and Culture
Hirogen society centers around "the hunt", which they regard with a reverence that borders on spiritual awe. Elements of their culture, such as social rituals and beliefs, are 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, the Hunter being forced to fight in the Tsunkatse matches still went through the ritual of running his finger over his face as if applying it. (VOY: "Hunters", "Tsunkatse") Hirogen culture requires a hunter to study his prey to understand its abilities, believing that such study is essential to prevent a hunter from becoming the hunted. Choosing the most appropriate weapon to make the kill is considered important: a scythe-like knife seems to be the preferred method for close range. There is great importance placed upon the moment of the kill and it is believed that the way a creature behaves when it is wounded is the key to its destruction. (VOY: "Prey") They express disappointment when the species they choose to hunt proves to be unchallenging. (VOY: "Hunters") The Hirogen rarely see other humanoids as equals because they rarely see non-Hirogen as hunters. As a result being called "worthy prey" by a Hirogen is meant as a great compliment. The Hirogen believe "you must never sympathize with your prey"; however, they do bestow a rather unique non-human compassion towards their prey, believing that they should never let their prey suffer. (VOY: "Tsunkatse")
Most Hirogen vessels travel alone with a crew of just two. One such vessel was known to have spanned a radius of 1,000 light years in just five years; it had also visited as many as 90 star systems in a single year. (VOY: "Prey") Occasionally, however, Hirogen vessels are encountered in groups or packs. This is more common if they are hunting a challenging and resilient prey. The Hirogen social structure is organized into packs of male hunters, each led by a Hirogen known as the Alpha. (VOY: "The Killing Game, Part II") The second-in-command is the Beta – if the Alpha dies, the Beta becomes the Alpha. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood")
After the Hirogen catch their prey, they remove the skeletal system, muscles, internal organs, ligaments and tendons by a surgical procedure known as an osteotomy. These items are kept as relics of the hunt. Unusual relics bring envy from other Hirogen males, and Hirogen females desire a male who has such unusual relics. These items cannot be taken before the moment of the kill. Status is determined by possession of prizes from hunts, often body parts or technology obtained from their prey. These prizes, called "trophies" or "relics", are displayed in nets hanging from the ceilings or walls of their vessels. In the case of skulls, they are often mounted as a wall display. (VOY: "Hunters")
- See: Hirogen philosophy
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 1,000 years. They lived nomadically 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 1,000 years, no one would remember the name Hirogen, as they were hunting themselves into extinction. (VOY: "The Killing Game, Part II")
In 2362, a Hirogen hunter was captured on his son's first hunt and forced to participate in the Tsunkatse matches. He would remain a forced participant in the blood sport until the USS Voyager rescued him in 2376. (VOY: "Tsunkatse")
- It would seem that the Hirogen were first assimilated by the Borg sometime after Seven of Nine was rescued from the Collective in 2374. In "Hunters" she notes that the Borg encountered members of Species 5174 killed in a style later discovered to be Hirogen work, but the Borg did not know what happened, nor did Seven of Nine recognize the Hirogen species. Seven's statement regarding the Hirogen's impending assimilation by the Borg in "The Killing Game" would seem to confirm this. However, a Hirogen could be seen during the mind meld scenes in "Infinite Regress", indicating that Seven of Nine herself, or at least the Borg as a species, all ready had assimilated Hirogen before Seven's liberation from the Collective. Indeed, later in "Unimatrix Zero" and "Unimatrix Zero, Part II", several Hirogen were part of Unimatrix Zero.
In 2374, the Federation starship USS Voyager had several rough encounters with members of the Hirogen species. The first occurred while Voyager was attempting to make contact with the Federation over a communications network claimed by the Hirogen. When demanded to stop, the Federation ship responded with hostility, 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 ship 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 her orders from Janeway specifically saying they would not sacrifice another sentient life form 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 crew. Eventually, the restored crew forced the Hirogen to a standoff resulting in the death of the Alpha, althought 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. Captain Janeway 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")
In 2377 the results of this attempt at cultural manipulation were discovered. They 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 the ability 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
Hirogen technology is not made for comfort. It, like its makers, is focused on the hunt. The Hirogen body armor has 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", "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 has a long coiled intestine, which he believed would make an unusual relic. (VOY: "Hunters")
Hirogen ships make use of various technologies including torpedo launchers, shield emitters and sensors. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood") Hirogen vessels are also equipped with a subnucleonic beam that can perform rapid scans of other vessels and can severely disable another ship, disrupting its propulsion and its navigational sensors. Once a target ship is disabled, the Hirogen can use their tractor beam technology to tractor in their prey. Their ships also have monotanium armor plating. This plating offers extra protection and it has the added effect of scattering targeting beams. (VOY: "Hunters") Hirogen vessels are also able to mask their engines by operating in stealth mode when they wish to track a vessel without alerting it to their presence. (VOY: "Flesh and Blood") The command center of the Hirogen vessel has a large metallic sphere with deep intersecting grooves. Manipulating the rods set into the unit can alter the vessel's speed and attitude. Information about incoming fire, the stability of the Hirogen ship's hull armor and navigational sensors are also relayed through this station. (VOY: "Hunters", "Prey", "Flesh and Blood")
They communicate over a subspace relay network. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle") This alien network is over 100,000 years old and extends to within communication range of the Alpha Quadrant. The relays are powered by artificial quantum singularities, similar to Romulan warp drives. Each of these relays produces 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")
- This didn't seem to upset their long range communication, as information about Federation holographic technology seems to have traveled great distances, passing Voyager on its way home. Perhaps the unidentified arrays of antennae on top of the holofacility are responsible.
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")
The Hirogen resemble the race of hunter aliens known as Predators or Yautja from the Predator and Alien vs. Predator films, computer games, comics, and novels, which may have inspired the design of the Hirogen's culture, their veneration of 'the hunt', the collection and public display of relics, the use of a breathing apparatus for alien atmospheres, and so forth.