So, Star Trek as we know it is, following the cancellation of Enterprise and the eleventh (or was it tenth?) movie, currently on hiatus. A good thing? Most definitely. There's precedent for such a rest being good for a franchise: see Doctor Who for a prime example, Battlestar Galactica for another, James Bond for a third. Be patient, give it a decade or two, and I have no doubt a revitalised and bouncy Star Trek will be on our screens once more.
But showing what?
Well, it's abundantly clear that the Borg are gunning for Earth and sooner or later they MUST launch a proper, all-out attack on Fed space. But also, sooner or later the Borg have to be beaten. A lengthy war with the Borg would, in my opinion, be the perfect backdrop for seven years of Star Trek. Imagine that: we went to those strange new worlds, we sought out new life and new civilisations, and what we found, oh deary me, it's got teeth, it's evil and it's coming to get us all. A series that's no longer about exploration, it's about running in fear from what we found out there.
So it starts off a fanfare - only a kind of discordant, off-key fanfare which is definitely the Star Trek fanfare but doesn't sound impressive but instead, somewhat... chilling. Then some sort of variation on the opening monologue from TOS/TNG which explains the above. Then we have Borg taking Federation outposts and making inroads into Fed space. Fed scientists decide we need to know what's going on out there so they come up with a crazy plan to deploy spies INSIDE the Collective. But we can't sacrifice one guy without arousing suspicion, it's gotta be an ordinary colony. But we can't sacrifice a colony of innocents, so what about a whole colony of spies? Once inside, they start reporting back - using amazingly faint transmissions which Borg internal sensors won't detect but a Federation subspace telescope the size of a star system CAN (cool!) - and hey, guess what: it's gonna be war, and soon.
The Borg War - it's big, it's bad, it's geometrically-shaped
So the Federation and its allies have to move from a peacable democracy to a war footing so they can be ready for a fight. This means, among other awesomeness, weapons, and lots of them. The new Enterprise? A warship/gunship/flagship, intended both for battle and diplomacy, to persuade whatever species might be sitting on the fence to side with the Feds or be assimilated in the aftermath. The new Enterprise is loaded, positively bristling with armaments. Science tech takes a back seat to phasers and photon torpedos. It's built to fight, and move hella fast (revised warp scale by the way because nines get boring), and built as only the first of MANY. Like, thousands. In formation. Guarding whole planets. Awe-inspiring.
I say phasers and photo torpedoes. But that's misleading. Here's the thing. The Borg adapt to incoming weaponry. A given weapon is good for exactly two shots and then it's all but useless. Phasers on cycling frequencies? They adapt to the cycle. So instead of reusable phaser banks, new phasers are disposable two-shot devices - which can be deployed external to the ship as autonomous drones - each carrying the impact of, say, half a warp core of antimatter, each hitting on a single unique frequency and burning out immediately afterwards from intentional overload. Use; jettison; replace; repeat, going through hundreds of single-use phasers and hundreds of different frequencies, each one doing a whole heap of damage, and each frequency becoming useless immediately afterwards. Let's say two billion unique frequencies spread over every ship in the fleet. Phasers as powerful as nukes. Shading, perhaps, from red to blue as frequencies get used up over the course of the series?
And not just that. Fed scientists from any number of different worlds rallied together to build as many different and unique weapons as possible. Got an idea? Go, build it! Build it in as many variations and models as you can imagine. Every ship's armaments non-standard. New weapons built by the ship's engineer out of spent old ones? A staple plot point! Tractor-beam antimatter at them, lob rocks at them, rip the Borg apart with giant magnetic fields, anything goes! Equals varied and intense battles. Save the best for Earth, naturally.
Of course, this is totally out of character for the peace-loving Federation and many of its constituent races. This is going to be a major theme of the entire series - when is it okay to fight? When do you stop trying to negotiate and start shooting? This is going to be represented on a massive scale within the Fed as a whole. For example, there's the fact that (let's say) seventy-odd people have been successfully removed from the Collective in recorded history, so SHOULD we be actually setting out to kill these people instead of trying to find a way to free them all? There should be conscientious objectors, rifts on every planet (even Vulcan), almost sparking a civil war inside the Federation even as the Borg advance. Meanwhile the conflict is represented as a microcosm on the bridge of the new Enterprise. The new captain - well aware that he is following in great footsteps and has a massive legend to live up to - is of the new breed, geared, like his ship, towards combat rather than engineering and diplomacy. Whereas many of his crew, specifically his second-in-command, are of the old school. They want to think their way out of situations. These two leads think very differently. Sometimes the captain is right. Sometimes the number two is right. Sometimes they're both right and sometimes they're both wrong.
Eventually the two characters get to know each other's strengths and when to use them - and eventually it turns out there IS a non-violent solution to the Borg problem, a solution I'll reveal shortly...
Anyway: the war. Eventually the Borg (who have now started flying, let's say, dodecahedra) do indeed take Andor and Vulcan and whatever and, ultimately, invade Earth. That's the season three or four finale. KAPOW: Earth is under rapid assimilation, changing into a Borg planet. Alarm bells ringing in San Fransisco, imagine the shock! Picard's line in the sand? Gone! Sanctity of the home? Invaded! But suddenly! A last-ditch evacuation plan is put into action. Emergency massive bulk transporter systems designed SPECIFICALLY for this eventuality transport all X billion people on Earth - one by one - onto ark ships hidden under the sea or the Earth's crust or Antarctica or whatever, which blast away from the planet. The vast majority of individuals are saved, but Humanity is on the run with no home.
Then, we (i.e. the Federation) play the trump card. I'm sure you're all familiar with the Mirror Universe - where good guys from our universe (i.e. regular Star Trek) become evil and sprout goatees. Somehow, everybody in the real universe has an equivalent in the Mirror Universe. So what about the Borg? In this universe, the Borg are an all-consuming hegemonising swarm which assimilates all new people and technology into a single faceless collective of space bees. What would they be like in the Mirror Universe? Presumably, some massively benelovent cyborg race which just wants everybody in the universe to be as happy as possible and achieves this by sharing all their accumulated technology with whoever they meet. (Brief thought: While the Borg fight fiercely, they do not in fact seek war, only assimilation. So while the Mirror Borg are generous, they inadvertently spark conflict wherever they go by giving big guns to small people?) So anyway, the Mirror Borg are presumably just about kicking the butts of the evil Terran Empire or whatever it is they have over there, when a small desperate mission arrives to plead for their help. So they agree. But it's kind of a dilemma - what about the universe they leave behind? Can there really be a happy ending for BOTH?
The Mirror Borg help us beat the regular Borg for good, and incidentally reveal a whole lot about the origins of the Borg, something which has been shrouded in mystery for, well, ever. Everything works out great for the regular universe. But then the regular Borg find their way to the Mirror Universe, and all hell breaks loose, for better or worse. End the series there? Why not.
Thus we have a peaceful Federation all ready to take on the challenges of, oh, let's say, the 29th Century.
Throw in some seriously awesome characters, SENSIBLE bridge design (i.e. acceleration couches and screens which don't explode, plus, hopefully, explanations for the previous shortfalls in this regard), highly trained Starfleet soldiers, clever tacticians, intelligently-designed and -deployed weaponry, more about those spies inside the Collective, plenty about Borg spies inside the Federation (!), some romantic arcs, a smattering of cool new planets for old time's sake... and I rather think you've got yourself a season.
Of course, it's all open to discussion...
Other things we'd like to see in Star Trek
- An end to that Borg Queen rubbish. Massively redundant collective: single point of failure - what were they (writers and/or Borg) thinking?!
- Rapid-fire weapons
- More of those Section 31 guys
- A refreshing absence of time travel
- Mixed-up surnames - this is the future, haven't we been interbreeding yet?
- Cyborg Starfleet guys, who narrow the line between human and Borg
- The rescindment of the Prime Directive, and a heck of a lot of hand-wringing over it
- Omega particles. This is what the Borg are ultimately in pursuit of - perfection. But when they blow up (and boy do they blow up!) they disrupt subspace and make warp travel impossible for light years in every direction. The offensive and defensive possibilities here are staggering. Starfleet should re-open research on these - as weapons, barriers, and bait.
- More imaginative aliens! Although don't go too far down this route, lest the show turn into Farscape, or Star Wars.
- A group of Starfleet cadets in a canteen, discussing who was better, Kirk or Picard
- An explanation of where exactly the Mirror Universe came from, and why it is so closely tied to ours (possibly incorporating some or all of the existing explanation in the Star Trek books)
- Strong characters and character development, the kind which made DS9 great
- TOS-brand hope-for-the-future
- A discussion of the pros of being part of a hive mind, delivered by a planet of people who want to be assimilated
- More episodes along the lines of Trials And Tribble-Ations, investigating behind the scenes of previous historic episodes (but not too many - don't dilute a great idea)
- Rogue Starfleet starships
- Someone commenting that red is considered an unlucky colour in Starfleet now, or something equally humorous on the subject, maybe
- Writers who are actually Trek fans, for crying out loud