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In the fourth season, in the The Killing Game episode, Captain Janeway shares the holodeck technology with the Hirogen.

Three years later, in the Flesh and Blood episode, Voyager encounters the Hirogen again with the holodeck technology.

How did the Hirogen get ahead of Voyager in those three years?

I mean, Voyager is traveling in a very specific direction - to the alpha quadrant (with some delays for exploration / getting supplies.)
On the other hand, the Hirogen are not aiming for any specific direction and required some time to build the massive holodeck structure (and there is no mentioning of the Hirogen having trans-warp capabilities.)

I would expect Voyager to be way ahead of the Hirogen. How is this possible?

3 Answers 3

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(Note - I haven't actually seen the episode in question recently)

Three key points here:

  1. They are Nomadic

    It is established that the Hirogen, by the 24th century, are a nomadic species (source) and that they are spread across the Delta Quadrant. So, it's probable that they encountered different Hirogen individuals

  2. They are fast

    Supposing these were the same individuals (which I highly doubt considering the quantum slipstream drive and trans-warp conduit usage), Memory Alpha also indicates that they have relatively nimble ships - they travelled to 90 star systems in a year and 1000 light years in 5 years ('Prey'). It's not surprising that they might have caught up.

  3. They are technologically advanced

    Finally, the Hirogen were fairly technologically advanced and Voyager had given them relevant data on how to replicate holographic technology. We also know that the Hirogen had expansive communications arrays (Voyager successfully communicated with the Alpha Quadrant using an abandoned one).

So, considering these three factors, it's not at all improbable that Voyager would find Hirogen.

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    The key thing here is that they're pretty much everywhere, just few and far between because they prefer to hunt in small groups. Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 6:48
  • That array is not theirs and the network is destroyed in that event I think so that part of the answer is wrong.
    – Durakken
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 15:17
  • @Durakken Perhaps I was a little vague there and my apologies if I was, but the point I was trying to make was that they were a technologically advanced species based on their weapons and ships. Even though that particular array was destroyed, there is no reason why they couldn't have been using other arrays. Alternatively, if they owned the array but had abandoned it, then it's possible they had already superseded that technology with more advanced communication methods. Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 0:16
  • @OftenRight That arrays was well beyond their tech level and they did not build it. They found and claimed it and that particular Array Network was destroyed, not just the one array. This was stated in the episode ^.^ Everything else is dead on, they probably have other array nets, just not as good.
    – Durakken
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 0:56
  • @Durakken Are we still sure that this was beyond their level? I suppose the strongest evidence we have is that they didn't maintain it, although that could be understood because of their nomadic culture Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 1:34
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At the beginning of the episode, one of the hunters says while talking to Janeway (paraphrasing) "Voyager/Janeway? You are the ones who gave us this technology (holographic hunting)!"

To me, it seems that he had not met Voyager in person, but heard about it, following the technology. During the episode, they rescue a Hirogen engineer who claims to be the one who programmed the holograms and is responsible for their intelligence and danger to the hunters.

Given the first hunter's reaction and the engineer's history with the holographic tech, this is my theory:

The original hunters who received the holographic tech from Voyager spent much time studying it, learning how to duplicate it, and sent that information throughout the other hunting groups (most likely through sub-space in order to be FTL and get ahead of Voyager). The separate group of hunters from Flesh and Blood received the information for this technology and constructed their own holo-hunting grounds which sets the episode in motion.

So, the hunters didn't get ahead of Voyager, but the technology did.

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The Hirogen territory extends into the Alpha Quadran firstly and any information would pass that way first.

Voyager doesn't have comm relays to spread info, but the Hirogen do.

Voyager does not travel in a straight line.

Obviously the information would be travel faster than Voyager in the direction of Earth.

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