So, your communications officer gives you the message, providing the coordinates. Who do you think - we're fighting? Who's the ultimate bad guy?
Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek is really the Great Bird of the Galaxy when it comes to memorable villains. An obvious choice would be the Romulan Star Empire (shall we race across the neutral zone)? Or perhaps even those ridge-headed Klingons. Watch out for de-cloaking birds of prey! If we're captured, we'll have to face the "mind-sifter."
But we musn't forget that over the years Star Trek has also provided audiences with so many other great antagonistic races. One of my favorites, and one of the most underutilized is the Gorn Empire. Remember the Gorn? From Cestus III and that first season episode "Arena?" The Metrons kept the Federation and Gorn Empire from fighting, but didn't you always have the desire to see the Gorn return for head-to-head combat with Captain Kirk? I know I did. I bet they had really cool battleships.
While we're at it, what if the orders we just received involve a breach of universes. What if we're suddenly facing a "mirror" Empire versions of ourselves? The Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" in the second season proved that a Captain Spock with goatee could be a powerful adversary. Would we take on the I.S.S. Enterprise? Could we convince him of the illogic of fighting for an Empire he knows can't last?
If we're talking about a charismatic, individual villain, rather than a race of 'em, our choice might be Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban). He's out for vengeance, and if he has a Genesis device in his arsenal, we're really in trouble. "Universal Armageddon," here we comes. The bad news is that once we start fighting Khan, he'll chase us round the moons of Nibia, the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before he gives us up. And I, for one, don't want a Ceti Eel poking around my brain if we get captured and defeated. The key to defeating Khan? He's a two-dimensional thinker...
If we're looking at the Next Generation, the end-all-be-all nemesis is no doubt The Borg Collective. I'll never forget the first episode featuring the Borg "Q-Who." I taped the episode because I was out on a date with a girl I really liked (this was on a trip home from U of R), and I finally watched the episode at about midnight. It was so good, I had to watch it a second time. I'll always remember how scary the Borg were in that original incarnation, back then, before they became mainstreamed, before "Hugh." At that point, the Borg were not seeking a Locutus-style spokesman. Instead, they were "the ultimate users," merely looking for technology to consume. That description still gives me chills. To the Borg, we're nothing but spare parts and biological fodder.
Outside of Star Trek, the genre has provided a number of fascinating villains over the years. Perhaps the Number One science fiction villain of all time - TV or film - is Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith. The ultimate Star Wars villain, (and tragic hero?) he commands that super-star destroyer, not to mention the Dark Side of the Force. He also flies one mean TIE fighter. And please, if you choose him, don't remind him that he killed Padme...
Robotic menaces always seem popular on TV too. We could face off against the Cylon Empire from the original Battlestar Galactica. They boast lousy aim, but are known for Kamikaze strikes against Battlestars. A real technological menace, these "Red Eyes" have impressive ships, including the Cylon Raiders and those massive Basestars. And let's just hope they don't get us in range of that pulsar cannon on Ice Planet Zero.
Another metallic menace of a sort comes from the universe of Doctor Who. The cry of EXTERMINATE!!! comes from the race of conquerors known as The Daleks. True, they have difficulty with staircases (or they used too...) and their arms look like toilet bowl plungers. But they're still pretty scary. Personally, I always sort of liked the Cybermen better.
Sci-Fi TV has also created a number of gorgeous, though thoroughly evil, women antagonists. Back in 1978, on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, producer Glen Larson introduced us to Princess Ardala of the Draconian Realm, played by luscious Pamela Hensley. I've provided a near-full body shot of her for this post, because, well...how could I not? Ardala is absolutely gorgeous, she looks great in horns (!) and she commands the flagship of the Draconian Empire, the Draconia. It's a warship teeming with Draconian Marauders, or "hatchet" fighters. She wants to control the Earth at all costs. And she's kinda nasty. Her second-in-command is Kane, and she delegates a lot of the day-to-day operations to him. But she dreams of unseating her father, the Emperor Draco, and will do anything to achieve that aim...including marrying the genetically perfect man (who is, of course, me...)
Another power-hungry woman is the President of the Federation in the universe of Blake's 7: Servalan. She's treacherous, ambitious and absolutely evil. She commands an Empire (including the vampiric Mutoids), and wants to squelch all civil unrest with pacification drugs or sheer military force. She would make quite an opponent.
Then, of course, there's Jane Badler's Diana, from V, and V: The Series. Diana also commands a fleet of motherships. If we're fighting her, we can assume that she and her Visitor brethren want our resources (our water) and our very bodies (for food!) Diana is a scientist and military commander, and can't be trusted for a second. She also likes to eat large rodents. If we decide to play battleship brinkmanship with Diana, let's remember to beam over some "Red dust" to her command center.
Other options? Well, we could always fight Dragos, Jason's sworn enemy on Jason of Star Command, the follow-up to Space Academy. He's played by one of the Devil's Rejects, Sid Haig.
So who's it going to be? When you raise shields and arm photon torpedoes, who are you engaging in battle? The Dominion? The new Cylons from the "re-imagined" Battlestar? The Reavers on Firefly? Farscape's Peacekeepers? Or what about those body/organ-stealing aliens from Gerry Anderson's UFO?
Personally, I wouldn't choose the Borg, because they scare me too much, though they are perhaps the ultimate sci-fi villain.
Instead, I'm leaning strongly towards Ardala. After a couple of volleys of phasers, I could beam over to her flagship for some one-on-one diplomacy, if you get my drift. And unlike Diana, I wouldn't end up served on a platter to a bunch of lizards...