The Ferengi have been described as the "used-car salesmen of the Universe." Unlike the bulk of their more notable neighbors, they developed their society on the pursuit of material wealth rather than military glory and conquest. Always looking for ways of getting money, they seldom turn down an opportunity to get more, even if illegal.
Ferengi are smaller than most humanoids, and are considered unattractive by most others. They are balding with huge ears and snaggletoothed. Needless to say, no Ferengi has ever won a Miss Universe pageant. Their big ears do have the benefit of giving them acute hearing. Their brains are four-lobed, and quite resistant to mental attacks or mind reading - a definite advantage when dealing with psionics. Betazoid blondes tend to fall a lot for Ferengi scams.
Ferengi have an unusual code of honor, described in their "Rules of Acquisition." Considering the personal accumulation of wealth the highest "good" one can accomplish, they are particularly cunning in business and most will cheat if they can get away with it. If they can, they will outright steal from unwary clients. They will do these with no remorse, considering victims of their scams as not smart enough to hold onto their belongings. Occasionally though, a seemingly simple person will turn the tables on them, "YOU! You put on this act of letting everyone push you around, and just when I think I knew you, you give me this story of being in debt and sell me what you insist is some huuman antique: and it was just cheap replicated junk! ... (grin) I never knew you had it in you."
Officially, the first known contact with the Ferengi was about twenty years before the Dominion War, when a Ferengi ship attacked the Federation ship USS Stargazer, in what the Ferengi called the "Battle of Malaxia." But they remained very much unknown until regular contact was made ten years later. Curiously, the Earth starship Enterprise - NX01 once came into contact with aliens strongly resembling the Ferengi about two centuries ago. Considering the Ferengi's nature, most historians dismiss this report, "If it really were the Ferengi, they would have come to Earth looking for deals a long time ago."
Since normal contact was established with the Federation and its neighbors, the Ferengi have made themselves a presence anywhere where there is money to be made. Some Ferengi are outright pirates, taking the "steal if it is easiest" philosophy quite literally. More often, they limit their illegal activities to smuggling and black marketing. The most honest Ferengi (if one can call a Ferengi honest) tend to do most of their business on worlds friendly to free-market capitalism with strong, independent, and reputable "watchdog" media groups making sure any scam is known about. On worlds such as Earth with nationalized economies with their media in the hands of the government, the Ferengi prefer smuggling goods through, or to these places themselves for their black market. Experts do not know why.
Their home planet of Fereginar is terrestrial, but wet. So much precipitation falls there, Ferengi have more than two dozen words for "rain" (Terrans have almost as many, but many of these are best left unmentioned in front of children and polite company). Federation historians believe this may have had something to do with the lack of large-scale warfare on the world. Klingon historians tend to scoff at this, "So they would have a thousand miles of mud to wade through, so much the better glory."
Historically, female Ferengi have been kept in second-class status in their society, and even today most Ferengi encountered by others are males. They still prefer to deal with males when doing business deals. They do not live in the same places as their women. Ferengi women traditionally do not wear clothes, and in their initial encounters with the Federation were surprised their women did so. "Our women would catch cold from working the fields in the rain!" "Then why didn't you buy some raincoats or help them out to finish the job before it rained?" "Why change a good thing?"
Ferengi tend to see humanoid females as sex objects, and can be quite forward to them. Besides altercations with bar bouncers, their lecherousness can get then in trouble as they can forget their business sense when offered companionship with a cute girl, "Let me get this straight, you're asking for a loan of twenty bars of latinum, with no collateral, and virtually no interest? What do you take me for, a complete idio- ... What? You say that babe over there owes you a favor, and you might be able to get us together? ... twenty bars it is!"
Through most of their history, there was no public school system on Ferengi worlds. There was one in the past, but it offered only Liberal Arts degrees, and the graduates could only find jobs at fast food restaurants. Lessons on business are traditionally passed on from father to son. Recently though, the practice seems to be dying out in places where old Earth comedies such as "The Simspons" have become popular. Experts are puzzled why.
Very few Ferengi became scientists in the past, and although a few more are doing so now, they tend to seek employment with other races. Experts feel this has something to do with patents for inventions not being heard of among the Ferengi until recently. Instead, the Ferengi prefer to buy or trade (or swindle) technology with other races. There is currently an over million-credit reward from several interested parties for the identity of the person or persons responsible for their acquiring warp technology.
In recent years, there have been some social development trends within Ferengi borders. With traders and workers spending so much time in the Federation, the Ferengi found an unforeseen complication - exposure to new ideas. Some began to question both the treatment of women, and there have been more rights granted to them on some Ferengi worlds, "If they wore clothes, they'd need pockets. And if they had pockets, they inevitably get filled with Latinum - more money for us!" Ferenginar and some other Ferengi worlds also introduced some social reforms, such as tax deductions. And more Ferengi less suited for business and trading began to seek other occupations, in their territory and elsewhere. Traditional-minded Ferrengi are not very happy about these developments. Ironically enough, neither are some among their neighbors.
"They were so easy to pin the blame on for all our troubles."
The Freedom has occasional tangles with Ferengi. Once some kidnapped two of the crew in an attempt to collect a supposed ransom on one.
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