Okay, talking in the "Chakotay" thread with Justkate and Mirandafave inspired me to put this up again.
I got the VOY rewrite done in its' entirety and now I'll put up the first revision (I'm sure I'll keep revising it over time):
The basic pilot idea is the same, with the Caretaker dragging VOY and the Maquis ship away from the Alpha Quadrant. However the premiere would be the season finale. We’d be introduced to various characters that have already formed rivalries, friendships and romances amongst themselves. Established characters already well into their stories.
VOY is fighting one of the massive Kazon Carrier ships which is going for an all-out attack to keep VOY from leaving the Periphery and making it to The Major Regions. The Carriers usually don't fight even though they're the best armed Kazon vessels because they have families and children and non-combatants living on them (as Cullah's group have no homeworld) but they thought there was no other choice but to use it's heavy weaponry.
Voyager has it badly damaged, and Janeway is faced with the choice of destroying it even though she knows there's more non-combatant Kazon on it than combatants, or just running away. Tuvok tells her that if they don't destroy it, it'll transmit their coordinates and likely they'll face all the Kazon in the area in a swarm attack before they leave the Periphery, and they can't survive with the damage they've taken. So Janeway has no choice but to destroy the ship. And despite Chakotay telling her that she's gained more respect from the Maquis and proven to be at least a capable captain to her detractors in the Fleet crew, Janeway leaves for her quarters to retire for the night.
The last scene would of her making a log entry of how "today I got lucky, I destroyed an enemy vessel with thousands of Kazon aboard...I probably killed a lot of Kazon who weren't fighters...families, mothers with their babies, children...and I've been congratulated for it. Maybe I'll get luckier, next time I could destroy more ships and kill more innocent people..." with her being unable to finish the entry. As she falls asleep the entire scene would shift back with a caption reading “One year ago” with Lt Cmdr Janeway, recently promoted science officer of the Starship Voyager waking up to begin her tour of duty on her new assignment. Thus the second episode onwards would be the beginning of a season long flashback to explain how things got to the point they were in the first episode.
- Voyager is an older Ambassador class ship. This means there's a larger crew, so more people to kill off without severely hampering the ship, and it can stand up in a fight longer against Kazon raiders and Vidiian Cruisers, even though it's weapons and shields and stuff are outdated compared to Starfleet's present ships. So it's an older vessel with older tech more prone to need repairs and stuff but still able to survive.
- Have Janeway be the bridge science officer to fit with her more "scientist" characterization. The real Captain, XO and other bridge officers all get killed in battle with the Kazon at the end of the Caretaker story leaving Janeway as surviving senior officer. The Kazon are the ones who destroy the Array, rather than let Voyager keep it.
- The tension with the Maquis would then be over who should run the ship, as Janeway isn't a qualified commanding officer. Thus the Maquis tension would be somewhat more justified because it didn't make much sense for there to be Maquis tension in the actual show, because the Maquis had no quarrel with the Federation, it was the Cardassians they were fighting.
- They wouldn't be in the Delta Quadrant, in fact it would be a mystery for a while as to where exactly they are. It annoyed me how in the show they knew exactly where they were in the DQ relative to Earth, so now they'd have no idea. This would also justify them visiting alien worlds and learning new stuff, it would fit into the plotline of gathering information about where they are so they can find a way home, and also keep up the "Boldy going where no one has gone before" theme. Plus this means we can keep around alien races VOY encounters and have more time to flesh them out. My reasoning for why VOY can't tell where they are is that most of the stars in that region of space were blocked from Federation view by intervening nebulae, gases and other stars, so they wouldn't have ready fixes in star-mapping. That happens in real life, you know. We simply don't know what the other side of our galaxy looks likes. We don't know what the stellar regions look like behind nebulae like the Horsehead and Orion Nebulae. (Thank you Rastamon)
-The region of space they're in where the Caretaker and Ocampa were is on the edge of "mapped space" according to Neelix, and is considered an empty periphery by the major powers of the area of space they're in, with several areas of nebulas, empty/abandoned systems and asteroid fields separating it from the major inhabited areas. This is where the first season would take place, with them crossing all these frontier/periphery areas to get to the major regions in hopes of finding more clues or help as to where they are and what they can do about it. Neelix would drop some descriptions of who's waiting on the other side, so as to foreshadow the future seasons.
- Also, in several systems they pass and worlds they encounter when doing repairs or scavenging, they find evidence that there was once major life in the Periphery, inhabited worlds, and that something happened to ravage the planets, destroy entire star systems, and generally trash the place.
- The Kazon would be a race of space nomads with no homeworld, they all live on those big carrier ships which they stole from their former masters (now extinct) who also destroyed their original homeworld. They have limited tech, limited resources and thus has to be scavengers and pirates to anybody and anything they encounter that's not a part of the larger powers on the other side of the empty zone. Cullah's own group is the major power in the empty periphery zone. In fact they may be the only Kazon pirates; the other Kazon Sects encountered are quite different from Cullah's Brigands. Some would sell themselves out as defenders of other Periphery races, mercenaries (so maybe get a story or two where a particular Kazon Sect defend Voyager from Cullah for a price), some would have given up combat and settle on a world for a peaceful life, other Sects would do various things, etc. Cullah simply refuses to do anything but fight for survival out of pride.
- The Vidiians are from the major regions with their space having long been quarantined to prevent the Phage from spreading. They don't want to attract the major powers into a war so they don't openly attack and harvest them, preying on whomever they encounter in the Periphery.
- The first season flashback (which is the entire season) would deal with the two crews having to learn to co-exist, with things extremely tense because Janeway is so inexperienced as a command officer Chakotay comes off as more assertive and showing more command qualities than her. But Janeway would earn her keep and respect by using her scientific knowlege and analytical mind to help their survival, like rigging a way for them to use the Nebula matter as fuel by making a fuel converter with B'Ellana, or harvesting water from comets, etc. She'd also begin using her scientific analytical skills more for tactical uses as well as survivalist science. They'd also have to deal with Cullah's attacks, as Voyager is the most advanced ship without a major power as a backer his group have encountered and they want it not just for the tech but for another reason, "why" is not revealed until season two.
- All the alien races use different kinds of FTL drives, different weapons (no Phaser, lasers, disruptors, cannons, torpedos, etc), different shield-type things (differently named, at least), and have most of it turn out to be just as good if not completely superior to anything any pre-existing ST race has (aside from the Borg) and Ships of the lines for the major Trek races.
- On the worlds they do find with markets and stuff, they all use a Capitalist economy with currency, so Voyager has to trade for money, and some of the crew even take jobs for money, and the Ship itself could do work as a courier due to their neutrality, or investigate missing vessels (a way of meeting the Vidiians) for money.
- In that episode where Torres is split into two women, one Klingon and one human, change it so that the Vidiians create two B’Ellanas out of her hybrid DNA, one human and one Klingon, instead of splitting her in two. That way we have three B’Ellanas, all different to do stuff with.
- Introduce Kes as a little girl, and have her turn into a teenager and then an adult as the show goes on until she dies. A 10 year old in S1, a 15 or so year old in S2, a 17/18 year old in S3 and a young woman in her early twenties in S4 onwards. By then she’ll develop her mental powers to the point her aging isn’t so bad (Ocampans with developed powers live much longer than normal Ocampa)
- Tuvok, there was nothing particularly wrong with his characterization, but rather that he was a mediocre Vulcan cliche even though Tim Russ is IMO the best guy to play a Vulcan since Nimoy himself. DS9 proved that Vulcans could be interesting - one episode featured a Vulcan arms dealer. Where's the logic in that? Where's the logic in a Vulcan secret agent? Remember, Tuvok had infiltrated the Maquis. That was an interesting idea that was never developed fully IMHO - aside from one scene in the pilot, they didn't often show the Maquis as distrusting or disliking Tuvok. This would of course be remedied, but what of Tuvok himself? I figure in order for a Vulcan to become a deep-cover agent, and a security officer, he would have to have decided at some point in his life that "the end justifies the means" is logical. Thus, he would often propose solutions to problems faced by Voyager, especially those involving encounters with other races, that might sound shocking to Janeway or the others. Remember, he's not just Starfleet - he's Starfleet Intelligence. I think of him as the sort of person that Sloane would've recruited, had he not wound up stranded in the Delta Quadrant. He would be cold, distant, but not in that semi-amusing "haha its funny because he doesn't get the joke because he has no emotions" way, but rather in a creepy, almost disturbing way. This wouldn't exactly endear him to the other crewmembers, Maquis OR Starfleet.
- Chakotay, would be a morally complex character whose "gray" sense of right and wrong often clashes with Janeway's black-and-white thinking. Furthermore, he would be more a "man of the people" stateman leader of the Maquis, who leads because he's the most respected and "honorable" (their version of honor involves "a large bounty count of spoonheads", though) member of the Maquis, not the other way around. This would contrast with Janeway' command style, which is dependent upon the chain of command, being very military in structure and practice. But rather than be immediate adversaries, I'd actually have Chakotay have no problem with Janeway as a person as he can see how a Science Officer becoming the Captain would stress a person. Plus he's ex-fleet himself so I'd think out of all the Maquis he would be the first to realize the necessity of working together to survive, and as such he would face insubordination and distrust from some of his own for being a "sell-out" much like the more open-voiced Fleeters would voice their concerns about a "lab rat" like Janeway being their Leader. Thus the conflict would be Chakotay and Janeway against their own groups as much as Fleet and Maquis conflicts.
Tom Paris would be Nick Locarno (that was a money and royalties issue, because they really did want him to be Locarno), explaining that he joined the Maquis to pay off his bar bills (which were to fight his depression over being expelled from the Academy) and to fly in space again.
I'd keep Lon Suder alive.
Neelix is an older guy than what he was, a soldier who went AWOL in the Talax-Haakonian war and used his skills to survive as a merchant, although he found himself trapped as a scrap dealer on the edge of the periphery until Voyager came along. Now he sees this not only as a chance to make up for his past cowardice but also to get out of the Periphery and closer to the Major Regions without attracting the Kazon.