Now that the final mission is out and the war officially over, it certainly looks like the stage is set for a new age of Exploration to begin (in October, I guess). But given the scale of the war and resulting devastation, there should be a long, hard road to recovery, right? We already saw the destruction wrought within the Solar system, on the surfaces of Qo’nos and New Romulus, as well as across countless other worlds that were mentioned in dialogue.
At the same time, the galaxy is at peace. The Iconians have agreed to end the war to rebuild their civilization; the Alpha Quadrant Alliance stands united, and in the process helped forge the Delta Alliance. Even the Dominion and Cardassians showed up to stand with the good guys. Isn’t it time to hold hands and sing Kumbaya?
Well, hold that thought. Aren’t we forgetting something?
First of all, let’s not forget the millions, perhaps billions who have perished in the Iconian War, and the previous conflicts instigated by the Iconians. Now I’m sure the Bleeding Hearts in the Federation are just happy for peace — although I suspect more than a few Humans, Andorians, Tellarites and Bajorans aren’t so quick to forget or forgive. The Iconians (with the exception of T’Ket) may be committing themselves to rebuilding rather than conquering, but they are still sitting on a gigantic stockpile of warships that no one is going to be comfortable with. The Federation, being what it is, will no doubt engage the Iconians in continuous diplomacy to avoid another war, but there will be no shortage of dissidents who demand revenge.
And then we have the Klingons and their buddies, the Orions, Gorn, Nausicaans and Letheans (and presumably Ferasens), none of whom are known for their forgiving natures. The Romulans and Remans have even more reasons never to forgive the Iconians — let’s be honest, Sela killed two Iconians, in return they nuked Romulus and almost eradicated the Romulan and Reman species. Overreaction much?
The hatred will burn strong for generations; fear of assured destruction will be the only thing preventing anyone from actively poking at the Iconians. If anything, this is a Cold War standoff, not true peace.
Two Alpha Quadrant powers are noticeably absent during the Iconian War: those damned Tholians and the Breen. Neither of them ever joined the Alliance or lifted a finger to help. Were they fighting the Heralds all this time? Or were they Iconian collaborators? Either way they need to answer some questions real fast, otherwise they can feel the wrath of an angry Alliance who has no other way to vent its frustrations.
What about the various Iconian servitor species? Best case scenario is they are all programmed to obey every command the Iconians give them, and they all stand down peacefully. But as far as we know, only the Heralds are programmed to be completely loyal. The other guys might pose problems of their own.
The Solanae should not be an issue for the foreseeable future. These clickityclacks couldn’t cross into normal space without help, and with the Iconians no longer having any interest in cutting people into little pieces. these guys can stay put in their hidey holes and play bingo all day.
The Elachi are entirely different. These shrooms have taken a direct hand in the various wars, and made several attempts to finish off the Romulans for good. Unless they are expressly protected by the Iconians, the Elachi can conceivably be the focus of Romulan and Reman wrath for decades to come. And rightly so! These guys deserved to be cooked and steamed. I’m sure they taste like shiitake.
The Bluegills will likely just continue to do what they do; these bugs are bioengineered weapons, but they seem to have their own hymenopteroid intelligence. Since they are so wrapped up with the Vaadwaur now, given time they should be exterminated once the “Rebel” Vaadwaur prevails.
Yes, the Rebel Vaadwaur will prevail. There is no way for the Bluegill-controlled Vaadwaur to fight both their rebel brethren and the Delta Alliance, especially now that the Iconian support is gone. And once the Vaadwaur’s prominence is shattered, it’ll be another mad dash in the Delta Quadrant for the other species to regain what they’ve lost. There will be a lot more fighting going on there.
And what about the previous “boss” enemy species?
The Voth will need time to recuperate, like everyone else. But they’ll join in the landgrab in the Delta Quadrant, and they never really gave up on controlling the Dyson Sphere, did they? Given the brief cooperation shown against the Vaadwaur, there exists a chance for a peaceful diplomatic solution with the Voth, which is good news.
It’s pretty hard to speculate how the Undine think, but now they know they’ve been tricked by the Iconians into fighting the Alpha/Beta Quadrant species. Are they just going to let bygones be bygones? I don’t think the Undine appreciate being made to look like tools and fools. Logically if the Undine start trouble in the future, they would direct it against the Iconians.
The Borg suffered severe setbacks throughout all this: war with the Alpha Quadrant Alliance, war with the Voth, war with the Undine, war with the Vaadwaur, and most tellingly the break-off of the Cooperative. Yet as the episode Butterfly Effect reminded us, the Borg is a single-minded, monolithic presence. The Borg will remain a viable threat despite these setbacks, because they are the one enemy that you can’t reason with. They want you, your species and your technology, end of story.
I have deliberately left out the Dominion, Cardassians and the Terran Empire in my speculations here. For one, the assistance of the Dominion and Cardassians during the Battle of Sol put them on friendly terms with the Alliance, and two, more importantly, we already know the next season will focus on the Cardassians and the Terran Empire, so we know there’s trouble stirring there.
The biggest unknown in my mind, ironically, is the fate of the Alpha Quadrant Alliance. Sure, we won, but what does the future hold? The cooperation between the Federation, Klingon Empire and Romulan Republic has created strong bonds, and an era of peace and exploration sounds nice and all, but ultimately exploration is not the Klingon game (nor the Romulans’, for that matter). In the absence of a powerful external enemy, can the Alliance hold together for long?