Chapter XLII: "Renewal"
Part II, Chapter XLII: "Renewal"
“Things really did feel different from the seventh season onward. We had a new main set, and both Carla and Christian had left the show. It really did feel like things were beginning to be drawn to a close.”- Jonathan Frakes speaking about the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Season Seven of Star Trek: The Next Generation was shaping up to be quite different from any other season. The finale of Season Six had seen the destruction of the Enterprise-D, meaning that the crew were, for the time being, without a ship. The writers had come to the conclusion that they would take this opportunity to allow for any of the cast to leave or transfer over to the new show Deep Space Nine. This resulted in both Carla Gugino and Christian Slater leaving the show, necessitating a slightly revised main cast.
It was decided that instead of writing characters to replace them, other pre-existing characters would take on their duties. To replace Leslie Crusher at the conn, Michelle Forbes would be promoted to a member of the main cast, with Ro Laren taking over the position on the bridge permanently. To cover for the lack of tactical officer, it was decided that Lt. Worf would also be given those duties, in addition to being Chief of Security.
But more important than this was the new ship. The writers chose to leave the crew without a ship for a few episodes, to allow them time to explore the increasing militarisation of Starfleet on Earth. To differentiate the new ship, they would use a new design rather than staying with another Galaxy-class. Many designs would be submitted, but eventually the producers would settle on one that they would dub the Sovereign-Class. 
The Galaxy-class Enterprise-D (left) and the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E (right).
The ship would be written as being on the cutting edge of Federation technology, developed in response to the growing Borg threat. This, along with the changing attitudes seen in the season, would present an idea of a Starfleet undergoing serious militarisation, something that would trouble much of the crew.
The ship would not be the only thing that was changed this season, as the uniforms would also undergo an alteration. The primary alterations would be the addition of a plain coloured undershirt, and the moving of the division colour to the shoulders. 
Comparison of the mid and late-TNG era uniforms (note: right image is taken from Deep Space Nine)
These changes would be met with mixed reception from fans, with some unhappy with the direction the show was being taken in. Most, however, were reasonably comfortable with the changes.
The season would see the trend of Original Series actors returning, with Walter Koenig returning for the season finale Forgiveness (Part I). 
As the season would be The Next Generation’s second-to-last, plans were being made for what would follow it up, as interest in continuing the franchise beyond Deep Space Nine and the film series built. 
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s seventh season began airing in September 1993.
 I've kept the Sovereign-class for two reasons. One: it's my second favourite ship class we see, after the Defiant-class. Two: it makes sense given the time period. In-universe in OTL, the class was in-production by this point, and the USS Sovereign was in service.
 That's the other major visual change I've made for the season. I considered skipping the middle man and going straight for the First Contact-era uniforms, but decided against it.
 As to why Chekov is still alive will be explained in the story. Forgiveness will be based on a script that was never made in OTL, as a few stories this season will.
 There will be an update on this after I've done the first season of Deep Space Nine. It will cover a bit of what's coming up for Star Trek, both in terms of films and a television series to replace The Next Generation.