The Enterprise

Riker stood beside Deanna in the turbolift. His stance was stiff; guarded. He starred blankly at the door. He was afraid of it opening. He knew it would, but he dreaded the moment.

Slowly his eyes moved from their invisible mark and found Deanna. She squeezed his hand, her lips turning into an encouraging smile. But it didn't reach her eyes; she was scared too. Not just for herself, he knew. For Liz, for him, for all on their ship… for Picard.

Riker could feel the lift slow. He took a slow breath and straightened his posture. Closing his eyes, he quickly readied himself for what was to come.

Moments later the doors opened to permit the couple to see the quiet bridge. Riker scanned the faces. Everyone was nervous. Everyone was afraid.

He glanced over at Deanna one last time before walking around the tactical station to his chair, Deanna a step behind him.

His eyes found the viewscreen. Out there was the enemy. He needed to think of it that way- he couldn't think of firing on his own.

Another slow breath was forced passed his lips. His hand found the intercomm button. He paused, thinking of the irony. Picard had used the same button two years before to announce the beginning of everything.

"This is… your Captain speaking. I know you all have an idea of what we are going to do now. It is a great sacrifice you all are taking and I… and Captain Picard, appreciate it.

"If any of you choose not to participate in this act, send me your name and I will make it known you were not involved in this. No one will think less of you."

Riker's eyes slid closed as he spoke. Slowly the flickered open and he looked down at his personal screen. No names appeared. A slight grin appeared and his body relaxed marginally.

He cut the link and looked over his shoulder. "Worf, how's that program of yours?"

"It will begin to fire in ten seconds." Riker nodded and focused on the viewscreen. Soon everything would change.

He counted in his head, waiting. Each second became a lifetime.

Ten…nine…eight…

Riker found Deanna's eyes.

seven…six…five…

He offered his hand to her.

four…three…

Deanna gave his hand a gentle squeeze and released it.

two…

Riker looked back at the screen. Everything moved slowly. It all blurred together. Not even voices made it through to his ears properly.

one…

The Enterprise's phasers began to fire blindly. Riker inhaled and readied himself to lie to Taylor. This time, at least, he would not have such a problem with controlling his laughter. He had nothing amusing to laugh at.

"What the hell are you doing, Riker?!"

"It's the malfunction. I have no idea what's happening. It won't stop firing!"

"Then cut the power to your weapons system!"

"We already tried, we couldn't get an engineer near enough without getting electrocuted."

"Sir, the Warbird is hailing us." Riker's eyes caught Taylor's comm. officer, then found the new image of Captain Ivinch.

The viewscreen split, showing her image beside Taylor's. She seemed flustered but Riker saw that her commanding face was solid and confident.

"Captain Taylor, this is Captain Ivinch of the U.S.S. Warbird. With the damage already done to my ship, mainly shields, I refuse to continue until I can be assured that my ship will not be harmed!"

Riker looked back to Taylor. A panicked note took over his face, his mouth opening and closing with anger and confusion. "Captain Ivinch," he started slowly, "please, this… problem will be taken care of. There is nothing to-" Taylor stopped when his ship shook.

"Nothing to worry about? The DeForest and the Kennedy have also decided to do the same. All three of us will be raising our shields to protect our ships. Ivinch out."

The screen returned to only Taylor's image.

"Commander Riker! Get those damn phasers under control, now!"

Taylor was livid. He took one finally huff and the screen went blank, just in time for the Enterprise crewto see its bridge shake another time.

Riker sighed and surveyed the scene before him. They were at a stand still. Six verses ten…

The Apollo

"Take out engines and run. Do nothing else unless you must."

Those were Commander Riker's orders. Captain Collins starred out at the two ships she had claimed: the Onondaga and the Seneca. She had no desire to fight them but she knew she must. It had to be done… right?

Her voice was emotionless as she ordered her tactical officer to power up the phasers and target both of their engines. He obeyed, the hesitation in his voice audible. Within seconds, both unsuspecting victims no longer had warp capability.

She watched as the DeForest, the Kennedy, and the Warbird simultaneously fired upon the six ships behind them.

All but one was easily taken out. The Kennedy's second targetwas able to raise their shields before the ship could fire. It was an easy adjustment. Seconds later the ship was disabled.

Collins eyes glanced over at the Roddenberry. She had fired at the same moment they had. The Columbia was an old name but a new ship. Her young crew was taken by surprise and easily disabled.

The second half of their orders were clear. Jumped to warp and run like hell. They would return to Miko and hope to find where the rest of the blockade stood on everything.

All except the Enterprise

The Enterprise

The Enterprise hovered nose-to-nose with their target: the Omega. As the surprise attacks went on, both leaders did nothing- not to help and not to stop it. Shields were down and phasers locked but neither made a move.

Riker had frozen. He was hesitant to fire on the ship, not wanting to risk harming Picard. He swallowed the lump in his throat, remembering Picard's words:

"Don't let my predicament hinder what you know you must do."

Riker took a deep breath and thought fast. "Worf, can we load a photon torpedo without them detecting it?"

Worf gave a muffled grunt. "Yes, sir."

"Then do it. Target their warp nacelles and fire when ready. But don't unlock phasers," Riker ordered, looking to the Klingon. He understood.

"Aye, sir." The torpedo was away after only a moment, hitting the hull before the ship had a chance to react.

"Back us off. Set course for Ketrel, Warp Nine-"

"The Omega has a warp core breach."

"Shields! Go to warp now!"

The stars stretched before Riker. He watched, feeling as if his entire body had slowed as he fell against his seat. An explosion had reacted with their jump to warp.

The bridge was silent as they starred at the stars. Finally Riker asked, "Data… were there any survivors from the Omega?"

"Scans show that six life pods withstood the explosion. It is uncertain if Captain Picard was aboard any of them." Riker looked over at the android. Data's answer betrayed his own voice sorrow.

Silence settled over them again. There was hope. Picard may have survived. Riker had heard once that a new precaution had been added. Something about life pods built into the prison cells. Ships like the Omega were supposed to have them.

Suddenly realization hit. Riker sank into his chair. He was now the Captain of the Enterprise. There was little hope that Picard would ever get his command back.

And now he was leading a rebellion against the new President. Riker looked out the view screen, seeing the other five ships that made up his fleet. What had he been thinking…

/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/

… and so began the Great War…

A war that divided the Federation and quadrants alike. It was a war that lasted nearly fifteen years.

Fifteen years of propaganda and rumours. Fifteen years of growing mistrust and confusion. Fifteen years of bloodshed and loss. And fifteen years before it was stopped…

The annihilation of an entire world… the destruction of hundreds of colonies… the creation of a horrific weapon… the massacre of trillions…

Most ships and fleets of both sides were crippled and destroyed. Far too many would line the lists of dead and wounded and prisoners before the end of the war.

And near the end, an old race would be lost to the abyss, never to be heard from again…

But the end would only be the beginning of another hard page in history. For that would be the year of rebuilding, of reuniting, and of redoing everything that had existed before the Great War…

/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/

Well, I hoped you all enjoyed this story. But don't fret! There's more yet to come. 'Circle of Life' is the continuation of this five part series which delves into all fifteen years of it of the actual war.