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At the beginning of Star Trek Voyager episode In the Flesh (S5E4), as Chakotay is walking around the reproduction of Starfleet Headquarters that was created by Species 8472. As he does so, several Ferengi in Starfleet uniforms can be seen walking around. At that time, the only Ferengi in Starfleet is Nog. In DS9, a great deal is made of the fact that Nog is the first and only Ferengi Starfleet officer (starting with his application needing to be personally endorsed by Commander Sisko in Heart of Stone (DS:9 S3E14)).

How can they get all the details of Starfleet HQ so correct and yet not get a critical detail like that correct? If they are intending to infiltrate HQ, a detail like that will stick out badly.

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  • I don't think they were going for a precise simulation: I doubt there are Ponn Farr nights at or near Starfleet Academy, either... at least none that Vulcans or other upstanding cadets would be seen at.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 0:36
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    Because the database they stole likely has a list of all the species currently represented in Starfleet, of which Ferengi would be one.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 7:40
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    Worth noting is that they don't just have Ferengi running around there, they also have several obsolete uniforms that are no longer being used. :P
    – Theik
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 10:27
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    I guess the questions is, if their data was from a database, where did they get the database from? If it was just Voyager's, Nog was not yet in Starfleet at the point Voyager was stranded. There would be nothing in there to indicate any Ferengi members of Starfleet.
    – BBlake
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 12:12
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    @BBlake : I factored into my thinking when writing my answer that the database was probably not up-to-date because the uniforms were Voyager-style. I suspect the database was copied from Voyager when Voyager made its incursion into fluidic space. This would mean that Species 8472 would not know about Nog being in Starfleet.
    – Praxis
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 14:39

4 Answers 4

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The more Alpha Quadrant species, the better.

If Species 8472 were planning to infiltrate normal space, in particular Federation territories, in advance of a supposed planned invasion of fluidic space by the Federation or its allies, they would likely want to not only simulate the environment of key Federation installations (such as Starfleet Command and Starfleet Academy) but also many of the species that could be encountered or discussed while in the Alpha Quadrant.

These include the Ferengi.

They would know that successfully integrating themselves into existing Federation installations would mean having intimate cultural knowledge, such as the fact that the Ferengi are driven by acquisition and that the Vulcans undergo Ponn Farr. While it's true that they can just read up on these things, sometimes there is no substitute for the "real" thing — which is the mentality behind the entire simulation.

JANEWAY: Obviously, you've studied a Starfleet database. You must have learned something about our history. We adhere to our directives.

If a database is so detailed as to include Boothby the Academy gardener, then it almost certainly would mention the species currently represented by Starfleet, and so it does seem to be a conscious decision by Species 8472 to disrupt the accuracy of the simulation, likely for the reasons outlined above.

It has been pointed out that Nog entered Starfleet chronologically before this episode, but:

  • the database was most likely copied from Voyager itself during Voyager's incursion into fluidic space in "Scorpion", and so would only have accurate Starfleet information up to and including their mission to the Badlands
  • the uniforms in the simulation on the planet are the style used on Voyager, not the grey-topped style introduced after Voyager's disappearance (also suggesting the database is not current)

Given this, I suspect they included the Ferengi for the reasons I outlined above.

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  • Worth noting is that the simulation is inaccurate in other ways as well. There are several people walking around with crew uniforms that are no longer in use, for example. It is possible they simply don't know what does and does not make sense.
    – Theik
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 11:40
  • @Theik its key to point out that at this time species 8472 were basically living in fluidic space by themselves, their whole culture is extremely alien, and they are extremely xenophobic. within a few years they have fought a major war with the borg, and then run into another entity which is able to help the borg fight them effectively. learning the customs/structure of a whole quadrant in a matter of months is quite impressive, with just minor errors present.
    – Himarm
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:09
  • @Himarm True, but that kind of contradicts this answer, which suggests they were well aware of the fact that Ferengi weren't in Star Fleet and simply included them for study purposes.
    – Theik
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:40
  • @Theik : Yes, I contend that if they know about Boothby the gardener, then they must know the current demographics of Starfleet.
    – Praxis
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:43
  • @Praxis if the stardates for nog's joining are correct, and the stardate of this episode of voyager(from memory alpha), this episode is happening almost 3 years after Nog joins starfleet, so it would be accurate to have ferangi in the federation. nog joins starfleet in 2371-2, and is a lieutenant by 2374, while this episode should be happening in 2375. the question then is, is it voyagers database species 8472 has, or a more current one.
    – Himarm
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 14:16
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First, as of that episode, 8472 had not yet infiltrated Starfleet, as far as we know, but the mere existence of such a facility shows that they were planning to infiltrate Starfleet in the future. So based on that, 8472 wasn't going to choose their disguises based on current demographics. They would choose based on future demographics.

Yes, Nog was the first Ferengi in Starfleet. He was not the last. Nog's father, Rom, worked for Starfleet as well. He worked under Chief O'Brian on DS9. Legally, this could go under Bajoran militia or Starfleet, due to the way DS9 was run, but Rom was working under a Starfleet officer, and I'm assuming that he was working for Starfleet, because he was in the meeting where they came up with the self-replicating-mines, of which everyone else was Starfleet officers. Additionally, Rom worked as a spy for Starfleet on DS9, during the Dominion's occupation of the station. Rom also counts as a Starfleet employee, and therefore, there was more than one Ferengi in Starfleet.

But back to the question;

From their initial period of hostility in the early TNG years, to the dominion war years, relations between the Federation and Ferengi have significantly stabilized. They hadn't even had a formal first contact as of the first episode of TNG, and yet as of DS9's "Profit and Lace", a Ferengi woman went to Vulcan for plastic surgery. In that time, they have gone from openly hostile to plastic surgery tourism. Is it hard to believe that people from a neighboring power would be a major immigrant population?

Additionally, I'm uncertain of how Federation citizenship works, but as of later TNG and early DS9, there were Ferengi living full time in the areas surrounding the Federation, such as in the Bajoran sector. With the federation more or less constantly growing, especially in the complex case of Bajor, it's possible that some Ferengi or part-Ferengi people may be born in the Federation, or to a Federation citizen. So it's fully possible that with the thawing relations and their more and more intertwined demographics, there may be Ferengi who are federation citizens. These citizens would be able to attend Starfleet academy without the special paperwork for non-citizens, so a Ferengi who is a Federation citizen is completely believable.

Furthermore, perhaps 8472 thought that Starfleet was more likely to add non-citizens to their ranks. To quote what's-her-name from the episode, "They'll attack any species that's not part of their federation. They can't be trusted". Perhaps 8472 thought that the Federation was imperialistic, "based on the Federation's growth pattern", and would likely try to annex the Ferengi Alliance by the time they were ready to start infiltration "which would be an easy task, considering that the Ferengi fleet is mostly merchant vessels".

In summary, 8472 probably was choosing their demographics based on what they thought the real demographics would be in the future during real missions, rather than the present, in fitting with their desire to "reproduce [starfleet headquarters] in every detail". Species 8472 probably extrapolated that there would be more Ferengi in Starfleet in the future, and likely planned for it when choosing species.

Now, this may sound far fetched, but I'm going to point out that we never saw a single Andorian in that episode, and the Andorians were dying out at this time. 8472 probably looked at the data that Voyager had about the alpha quadrant's demographics and assumed that an Andorian would be rare enough to stand out by the time they started their missions, and didn't include one. From that perspective, it's completely believable that 8472 was using population statistics in their planning of the infiltration, and believable that the Ferengi would be present.

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  • When Rom first started working for Chief O'Brien in any official capacity, it was as Bajoran Militia. He later began wearing a Starfleet uniform, but I'm not sure if his commission was honorary or not, given the circumstances.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 19:18
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    @Omegacron I don’t believe Rom ever wore a star fleet uniform. Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 0:05
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Military simulations don't always have to be entirely realistic. I was part of a team building a naval training system for the Malaysian navy, one set of maps they wanted were detailed maps of the Norwegian coastline. As far as I know they had no plans to invade Norway but apparently the coastlines are topographically similar and they could be sure the naval officers that were being trained would not be familiar with the exact terrain. It would seem reasonable then to show species who might be in Starfleet or who they might deal with if seeking allies against Starfleet.

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Nog joined Starfleet in July 2371 (Stardate 48521.5), two months After Voyager got lost in the delta quadrant. But apparently 8472 knew of Nog joining. In the expanded universe of novels, it was noted that Nog's joining sparked the catalyst that persuaded other Ferengi to join. Thus they may have had knowledge of that or simply exploited images they had of Alpha Quadrant races

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  • "apparently 8472 knew of Nog joining" - It's not at all apparent that they knew anything of the Federation other than what they'd gleaned from stealing a database, likely from Voyager.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 14:14

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