In the second of my blogs on my favorite Star Trek characters, I bring you Nog.
Not even a secondary character when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started, Nog's character developed beyond where the most imaginative fan could have imagined. He was just a kid when we first met him, in DS9's premiere episode, as an accomplice in a theft. Not an auspicious introduction. We didn't see him much in the early year or so, and mostly then as a side-kick to Commander Sisko's sonJake. At first, Nog led Jake astray, playing tricks on people, "watching" the women coming off transports, making a deal on self-sealing stem bolts... well, no profit there. Their fathers both tried to keep the boys apart, but friendship won out. In time, undoubtedly influenced by Jake, Nog discovered he wanted more from his life than to work for his uncle Quark. His surprising career choice? Star Fleet. He appealed to Sisko to help him become a Star Fleet officer.
At first, nobody, even Jake, believed he was serious. And his uncle Quark was adamantly against the idea. After all, Rule of Acquisition number 18 is "A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all." There was no profit in becoming a member of Star Fleet. But Nog recognized that, much as he loved his father and respected him, Rom didn't have the lobes for business, and Nog didn't either. But Rom was a genius in fixing things. Nog declared to Sisko that Rom could have been a chief engineer on a star ship if he'd only had the chance, and Nog just wanted a chance to be more, to be part of something important. His impassioned plea convinced Sisko that the boy was serious and he sponsored Nog's application to the Academy.
One of the most character-shaping events in Nog's life occurred during a mission to AR-558. Even though Quark objected, Sisko sent Nog out to reconnoitre. His excellent hearing allowed him to locate the enemy when sensors failed. Caught in a firefight, Nog was injured and eventually lost a leg. His family and friends rallied around him, but he had a hard time coping. Though his prostetic leg worked fine, he still felt pain and relied on a cane. He resented efforts at psychological counseling and retreated to the holodeck and the world of Las Vegas, circa 1962. This was the world of holographic lounge singer Vic Fontaine, a self-aware hologram, Vic recognized Nog's fragile state and allowed the young Ferengi to stay with him. He enlisted Nog's help with his books and Nog discovered that Vic's lounge was a goldmine. He suggested they build a new casino. As the planning progressed, Nog began to rely less on the use of a cane. His mood improved.
Nog wasn't the only one affected by this relationship. For the first time, Vic got a taste of what it was to be alive. He actually went to bed at night and had time to read the paper or play cards with his friends. He came to understand what life really was all about. He knew Nog had to leave the holodeck and return to his life.
But Nog was afraid. He had never thought anything would happen to him, even though he had seen war. The loss of his leg left him with a crippling sense of uncertainty. Vic, ever the philosopher, told him that you had to play the cards you are dealt. Once again, Nog showed his courage as he said goodbye to Vic and left the holodeck.
This surprising change in Nog's character didn't mean that he stopped being a Ferengi. He still quoted the Rules of Acquisition and even schooled Chief O'Brien in the Great Material Continuum. He was always ready to make profit when opportunities came his way. But, Nog was no longer only a Ferengi. He was a Star Fleet officer and showed courage and dedication. He made the uniform proud.