Despite its face as a purported utopia, Starfleet’s got some unfortunate cultural hangups to work through when it comes to certain species, of course. Being the only Ferengi in Starfleet, Nog has to deal with all kinds of racist bullshit from his peers, his superiors, those he eventually outranks.
He makes captain real quick, through a combination of a few open-minded mentors, bull-headed determination, and the good old-fashioned lobes for the business of dealing with people. And he does it despite the bullying, the unfounded rumors and stumbling blocks thrown in his way. He campaigns to have his own ship and gets it simply because the bigots at the top can’t find a legitimate reason to deny it.
But they still try to set him up for failure. They crew his below-substandard ship with the dregs, the misfits, the near-dropouts of the Academy. But instead of getting frustrated, Nog sees opportunity. He knows what his ragtag crew feels like- the unwanted, expected to crash and burn, pushed out to be forgotten.
They know why they’ve been dumped together, pushed aside in the hopes that they’ll just go away. After an admittedly rocky start, Nog sits the crew down in the mess hall and tells these square pegs to start carving corners into the round holes Starfleet has shoved them into. You can’t fit the job? Make the job fit you. We could just give up and be bitter that we’ve all clearly been put here because Admirals Whats-Their-Faces are just waiting for us to bumble into a black hole, or we could surprise them. Prove them wrong.
For himself, Nog adapts the Rules of Acquisition to be compatible with Starfleet culture. His uncle Quark would need a fainting couch if he ever heard, but Nog is thinking profit in a much longer game. He wants to be just the first of many Ferengi to join Starfleet, so he must be a consummate cultural pioneer. More Ferengi in Starfleet might mean eventually Ferenginar joins the Federation. It’s a… very long shot, admittedly, and he might be long dead of old age by the time it happened, but Nog has faith in his people. The females’ liberation movement, going full steam ahead back on his home planet, proves his people can change for the better; it’s a start. Wider acceptance in the galactic community = profit for Ferenginar’s people, and Nog’s idea of profit has expanded somewhat beyond just latinum. (Quark would also need that fainting couch if he ever knew the radical altruistic turn his nephew’s philosophy had taken.)
Ishka listens to her grandson’s weekly transmissions home and could just burst with pride with each one.
He susses out the talents and skills each of his crewmembers has to offer. Puts them to work in ways that dance just around the edges of regulation, finding loopholes in only the way a good Ferengi can. The jerks in charge of handing out assignments keep giving him missions either designed to be a guaranteed fail or are so terrible and frustrating that they should just want to quit, but he turns these fetch quests and garbage details on their side to not only succeed, but return with valuable data or objects of interest. Nothing galaxy-shaking, but more than enough that it makes Nog’s detractors fume at the thought of this upstart shrimp of a Ferengi and all those should-be washouts doing well. Pretty soon Nog’s supporters, the handful of teachers back at the Academy, are all smirking quietly at each other in the faculty conference rooms.
Then Nog and his crew land the big one. One of their little throwaway missions turns over just the right space rock and there’s some universe-ending anomaly staring back at them. Their calls for assistance are treated casually at best- ‘Ugh, it’s the Ferengi and the USS Jury Rig (not their little tub’s real name, but the insult backfired, and Nog’s pretty sure Jenkins is the one who handpainted the nickname on the nacelles during a spacewalk; Nog pretends not to have noticed.), what, did they get caught behind a flock of asteroids?’
Nog and his crew realize help is dragging their warp-speed asses and they’re on their own. Defiantly, they roll their eyes, sigh (gee, shouldn’t we all own condos here at the back of everyone’s priority queue by now?) and get to work. By the time the first ship arrives to help, its just in time to watch the crew of the Jury Rig banish the terrible thing in the sky.
In the fallout, Starfleet command is made aware of all the things Nog and his crew has actually accomplished, along with all the shit they’ve put up with from superiors who set them up to fail. Nog is offered a newer, better ship. Some of the crew are offered promotions, positions on more prestigious ships. To a one, they decline. They’re staying with Captain Nog.
…they take the new ship, though.