Author's Note: Hi everyone! Well, here it is, the (sort of) long awaited sequel to "Circle of Life" Series, which was originally posted way back when. This sequel finally getting on this site is largely due to the interest and help of NightWitch69. Thanks so much!

A few notes: This story will eventually be a crossover with DS9 and Voyager. Even if you don't watch them, you'll be able to figure out what's going on. Hopefully.

Anything in italics is one of four things: a computer's voice, someone over a com.link, Betazoids talking telepathically, or a flashback (I know, I need to be more creative). You'll be able to figure it out from the scene.

Also, you don't have to read the prequel, though it would probably help you out. Here's a brief summary for those who don't want to, didn't know about it, need a little refresher, or just haven't been paying attention…

I hope you enjoy! And please review, I love ego stroking!

Brief Summary:

Approximately eight thousand years before, the planets Miko and Hytor (Hytor Settlement) were blood enemies. The Mikolians drove the Hytorians to Ketrel, where they evolved into three species; the Mikolians thought that they had killed them all.

The Federation became involved with Ketrel in 2370. It was then discovered that they were all the same race. Later, Starfleet leaked this information to the Mikolians, not knowing that they were the Hytorian's enemy. A large Mikolian faction, known as the Hagan, led an uprising against the government, which started a two-year civil war.

Later, in 2372, the Hagan, after winning the war, tried to attack Ketrel, but Starfleet was there to defend the planet.

Ambassador Amen replaced President Aurik when he suddenly disappeared just after this incident. Amen had Enterprise and several other ships "detained" and arrested Captain Picard. Riker and the other Captains plotted to attack the other ships and free themselves. Picard was assumed dead after this engagement.

Will and Deanna got married in 2370 a few months after Deanna discovered she was pregnant with his daughter, named Elizabeth "Liz" Troi Riker. Geordie developed an addiction to pain medication in 2370, but was able to overcome it. Riker assumed command with Picard's presumed death in 2372.

Rating: PG-13 (to be safe)

Warnings: (reasons for the rating) Character death and injury; some harsh language; some suggestive language; violence; suggested adult scenes (nothing over PG-13)

Genre: I don't know… Action/Adventure, Romance, Mystery (?), a bit of humor thrown in there, some angst… that might be it

Pairings: R/T; J/J (starts Year 3); K/O (suggested after Year 4)

Summary: Under the command of Riker, the Enterprise and other ships have become renegades in the eyes of the corrupted Federation. How will they prove their innocence and remove the corrupt Earth President in the face of the media with limited resources and a tarnished name? How will this lead to intergalactic war? Sequel to 'Circle of Life' Series.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters, places, ships, or names that I borrowed from Startrek and Paramont. I do, however, own most everything else.

/-/-/-

Year One: 2372

"Captain's Log. Stardate, 37208.20.

"I know I haven't gotten around to doing one of these but… here goes…

"Uh, Enterprise returned to Ketrel to find the rest of our ships. They were all in bad condition at the time, but all willingly came with us. Data recalled that there is an old Federation post on the edge of the Federation-Klingon boarder; it was abandoned nearly three decades ago. Apparently they just hadn't gotten around to removing it.

"The crew has, unofficially, dubbed the place 'Shadow Land'. Until we're able to repair our ships, I've decided this is the best place we have as headquarters. Hiding here, so far, is one of our only options… to be honest, I don't even know what another choice could potentially be.

"Repairs are coming along slower than we hoped but our supplies are being stretched as it is. Small scouting parties have gone in search of supplies, help, and information. So far they have found little in this region. But we have found enough that Geordie is confident he can have all major repairs done in eight weeks. Other, more minor repairs, may take anywhere from three to five additional weeks- that is if we can get the parts and tools.

"Hopefully we can remain undetected until repairs are complete. Thankfully, with what I've learned from my scouts, I don't believe they're looking for us just yet. And I hope it stays that way.

"Computer, pause recording." Riker sank down into his chair, scratching the back of his neck. He had one last piece that needed to be marked officially in his log… he just couldn't bring himself to talk about it.

Looking away from his computer, he looked around the ready room. He had sat there before, thinking that he was Captain… only because he also believed Picard to be dead. Only this time, unlike all those other times, he truly was.

Riker swallowed, glancing over at the fish. It was a wonder they were still in there after all that time. He rubbed his eyes, standing once again as he said,

"Computer, continue recording…

"During our engagement, the ship Captain Picard was on… the Omega… was destroyed, few lifepods could be detected before we had to leave the area… It is, um… it's uncertain whether or not Captain Picard survived. As of now, I have taken command of the Enterprise

"Computer, end recording…"

/-/-/-/

/- August

"In other news, today. Information about a group of renegade starships has just been released. Almost thirty ships have already defected and are claiming loyalty to the renegades- led by the U.S.S. Enterprise, N.C.C. 1701-D. This ship is currently under the leadership of Commander William T. Riker.

"Reports show that the crew mutinied, killing their previous Captain- Jean-Luc Picard. Several other mutinies have been suspected, loyal captains and officers being removed from their positions, but little direct information has been discovered as of yet.

"Authorities have been searching for these ships but have not been able to find any tangible leads. Anyone with any information on their whereabouts should contact Starfleet Headquarters on Earth.

"… We've received official word on the circumstances from Starfleet Command. Apparently the Enterprise and five of her first followers were being escorted back to Earth after a misunderstanding led them to follow incorrect orders. The ships then violently attacked their entourage and fled. Our information suggests that many ships were destroyed and others disabled. We only have confirmation on the destruction of the U.S.S. Omega."

The image of the petite red headed woman disappeared from the screen. President Amen turned to his companion, a large smile covering his face. "Well, what do you think?"

"It was all lies," Ken Smith commented.

"Oh? Well that's not true. It was the truth… we just gave it a slight tweak," he said, his voice playful in his glee.

"You feed them that information? What do-"

"Ken, Ken, my dear boy. This is politics… and war against Riker. If we want to be able to find, capture, and try these people, we'll need everyone's support to do it."

"You're brainwashing them to believe all this. To take your side and accept your take over," Ken shouted. His face was contorted with a mixture of fear and uncertainty. Already he had become a party to killing, but now he found himself amongst a conspiracy against the Federation.

"Don't worry, Ken. In the end, you'll see I was right," Amen said, rising and putting an arm around his shoulders.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Ambassador Troi shut off the news. Her ears couldn't believe what they had just heard. Riker and his crew had killed Jean-Luc…

She shook her head. She knew it wasn't true.

Unprovoked attacks against other Federation ships over a miscommunication- there must have been more to it. She just couldn't believe that it was possible; she knew those people on that ship.

But what would the Federation media be doing with such a report. Something must have happened, something that her sudden meeting might explain. But she couldn't begin to guess what it was.

She needed to speak with Riker… or Deanna. But if the authorities couldn't find them, she would never be able to find them on subspace. Nor could she alert them to anything going on.

Lwaxana sighed as she walked out the door, heading for her transport. She had no idea what might happen with the situation on Earth and with Amen, and now all this with the 'renegade ships'? And mutinies and murders? She couldn't comprehend what he might be planning.

/-/-/-/

/- A Few Days Later

"I'm sorry, Captain but… I just can't do it in that time with what I've got," Geordie complained as he moved about Engineering, occasionally being stopped by a passing Ensign or another engineer as they reporter this and that.

"Geordie, we're tight as it is, we need to move faster!"

"I can't, sir!" He yelled back, startling both himself and Riker. "I'm sorry. I've been working for three days straight… But we can't do it, Captain. Maybe we can bypass a few things scheduled or… something but we can't knock down the time by anything more than a day… and I don't think that would do us any good. We might as well stick to the schedule we've already made."

Riker watched him for a moment. He could just imagine what Geordie's eyes must have looked like underneath his VISOR; bloodshot and exhausted against the paleness of his pupil. Everyone was on edge; working hard to complete repairs, little supplies to work with. Energy was on conservation mode, leaving only emergency rations to eat. And insomnia was plaguing many.

"Alright, just try to make things… move faster," Riker said, bowing down to his Chief Engineer.

"Thank-you, sir."

Turning to leave, Riker stopped and looked over his shoulder at Geordie, who was also turning to leave and get back to his repairs. "And Geordie?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Get some sleep, let Data handle things down here for a while." Geordie hesitated a second, knowing how much he needed sleep but unwilling to leave his post. "That's an order, Commander."

"Yes, sir," he responded at Riker's good natured way of taking advantage of his higher rank.

Geordie waited until Engineering's doors slid close behind him before calling Data over to him. Once he knew the android knew what to do, he might then be able to sleep knowing everything was in good hands.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

"Excuse me? Hello? Is anyone in here?"

Ken's voice echoed throughout the room as he stepped cautiously inside, his eyes sweeping around the biobeds of the morgue. He stepped farther in, his ears perking as they heard the scrapping of a chair on the floor.

"Yes, over here. Is there something I can help you with?"

Ken watched as a tall, jovial man stepped forward, his blonde hair pulled back into a short ponytail to keep it from his eyes and face. Ken's eyes looked over his Starfleet uniform, seeing that the man was obviously a doctor there.

"Yes. I am Ambassador Smith, here on behalf of the President."

"Really?"

"Yes. Are you Dr. Tanith?"

"Why?"

"You are him then?"

"Yes."

Ken just smiled a wicked smile, nodding with satisfaction. "Good. I need to talk to you about… your allegiances."

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

"His actions were unjustified! He is making assumptions about the fate of President Aurik!"

Lwaxana looked to the Trill, one of the five delegates on the Federation Council. The renegades had been a short topic, one they had little knowledge and no solution to. Instead, the four had turned their attention back to the problem on Earth.

Lwaxana nodded her agreement. "Pell is right. Without evidence of Aurik's fate, there is nothing to say that he did not kill the President himself."

"And what are we to do about it? Without the knowledge of President Aurik's whereabouts, there is no one else to govern those on Earth," T'Pel spoke calmly, her words rising over the complaints of the others.

"He is next in line to take over for Earth's government," Pok, a Bolian male, said from besides T'Pel, the Vulcan casting a raised eyebrow in his direction.

"That may be so, but he did not go about it the correct way. He knows as well as we all do that he was supposed to have been inducted into his position- we gave no agreement, nor did those on Earth, for him to become President," Pell claimed, the Trill gazing boldly at the others, as if challenging one of the three to oppose her.

"It should have been voted upon, yes, but who would have chosen otherwise?" Pok questioned. "It is still a miracle that he wasn't voted into office as president, Humans love him so much."

"It doesn't matter how much anyone appears to like him, he did this incorrectly."

"And we will warn him of his actions, Ambassador Troi. He will receive notification that he must defend his actions, but it is apparent that nothing will be accomplished by such an undertaking. He is still in power over Earth in that sense, it matters little what we may or may not discover about President Aurik."

Pok nodded, agreeing once again with T'Pel. But Pell seemed less encouraged by the Vulcan's words. "And what do you expect to discover? If he did in fact dispose of Aurik to gain power, then we will never find evidence to prove such. On the contrary, I believe him quite capable of manifesting his own data to support himself- whether or not he was responsible for the President's disappearance."

Lwaxana raised her hand to stop their bickering. "We will send him notice. He will either prove his actions to the satisfaction of the Council, or he will be forced out of office and someone else appointed in his place. And that is the end of this."

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Within an old, richly decorated building, activity hummed throughout. Consoles beeped, computers quickly and effortlessly worked as people watched on. The soft murmur of speaking echoed in the room, the same people walking about.

But things were not running as smoothly within the President's office…

Amen's fist slammed down on the table, causing a fierce rattling of the objects on top of it. His anger gleamed in his eyes.

"Sir, this is to be expected. Your sudden take over has unnerved the other Federation planets. A notice like this… telling you to step down or prove your actions was bound to show up. We knew this," Ken Smith assured him, his voice displaying his own fear of the angered man.

"I don't care! This… this… thing is outrageous! They may as well admit to believing that I killed the President!"

"Please, sir, calm yourself. We can easily prove to them that our take over was legal. It was all planned out before anything was set into motion. Do not worry. I can present this to them, show them to trust you," Ken told him, his sickening smile taking over his face.

Amen took one look at his face and instantly responded, "Fine. Collect what you need. You leave as soon as you've got it."

"Yes, sir." With that, Ken scurried from his place at Amen's side and out the door.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Liz stumbled on, walking stably through the halls of the station. The girl giggled as she hid behind an old school desk. The young Betazoid listened, hearing the calls from her "babysitter".

"Where did you go, Elizabeth?" She giggled once again when she heard his call, as if she thought he was the dumbest person in the galaxy.

"Elizabeth?" The man called, Liz just watched as he stepped into the old classroom. He walked slowly, his eyes scanning everywhere. Liz just giggled, shaking the desk by accident.

Then she shrieked with surprise, finding that the man was right in front of her. She craned her head up, seeing him stare down at her. Another burst of giggles washed over her as the man said:

"You must remain silent, you're laughing gives your position away." The girl looked curiously up at him as he picked her up. "It is time to return home."

"No more p'ay?"

"Not today."

The girl held onto his uniform shirt, trying to steady herself as he walked swiftly through the halls. Slowly Liz's hand reached out, tentatively touching his skin.

"Yes, Elizabeth?"

"Ata's face white," she stated, her chubby hand still touching his skin. "Ata's face cold."

"Yes, Elizabeth. That is because I am not like you- I am an android."

"An'oid?"

"An-droid."

"An'oid!" The girl laughed and Data gave up on his attempt to correct her. "See daddy?"

"Yes. I have been instructed by your mother to ensure that he arrives back on the Enterprise."

"Mine see daddy?"

"'Will I see daddy', Elizabeth. Not 'mine'."

The little girl just starred blankly at Data a moment, before she repeated, "Mine see daddy?"

"Yes, you are going to see your father." Liz looked away from his face, watching instead the gray walls of the station as it went by, Data's long strides allowing them to arrive before long.

"Data? She wasn't too much to handle?"

"No, sir."

"That sounds like my angel," Riker smiled wider when he tickled the girl, Liz laughing and squirming in the android's arms.

"I was told to give her to you before I went on my shift."

"I assume it's Deanna's way to tell me to come home?"

Data inclined his head, saying, "I would assume so, sir."

Riker nodded, taking Liz from his first officer. "Thank-you, Data."

"It was my pleasure, Captain."

"Goodnight, Data." The android nodded, walking to the door when he saw that he was dismissed.

"'Night, Ata!" Riker smirked when the android paused, turning around as if to correct the child.

"Goodnight, Elizabeth," and with that he walked out, leaving father and daughter alone.

/-/-/-/

/- A Few Days Later

"Ah, Mr. Smith. I wasn't expecting you to be here so… prompt."

"Well, I said I'd be here… here I am. You do have what we discussed, do you not?" Ken asked, stepping closer to the doctor.

"Yes, yes. Just… just a sec."

Ken paused, watching the doctor scurry off into his office. The sound of PADDs falling to the floor rang in the Ambassador's ears as he waited. More PADDs were pushed around before the doctor seemed to find what he wanted. Ken just sighed, shaking his head.

"Everything you asked for is documented in here."

Ken nodded, taking the PADD. "Everything? Your personal admission to examining the body? DNA, everything?"

"Yes, everything. My thumbprint, too. Just so they know it's not faked… well it is but, they won't-"

"I- I know what you mean," the man interrupted him, skimming through the data. "Thank-you," Ken told the proud man, his back turned.

"I'm glad I could help. Uh… oh, and the rest will be done… soon." Tanith's smile shrank away as he watched the shadowy man.

"Good to hear," Ken said, putting the PADD into his pocket.

"About that payment you mentioned…"

"I haven't forgotten, Doctor. Not in the least."

"Just when do I get it?"

"Don't worry, it's all being taken care of. Trust me." Ken smiled, flashing his dimples to the doctor. Tanith nodded, watching the man go.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Deanna slumped into her chair as she walked into her quarters, sighing with contentment as she relaxed. Her eyes slide closed for a second, wishing for her body to be granted sleep for just a moment. But she was disappointed when she wasn't.

Instead, she opened her eyes, looking in front of her to see a year old framed picture on her coffee table. A smile tugged at her lips as she leaned forward to grab it. The picture was one of herself on Betazed, accompanied by Will, Liz and her mother. Mr. Homn had probably taken the picture.

They were in the Taria forest, surrounded by large, Betazed shrubs and trees. The Katai Waterfall was right behind them, leaving them in its cool mist. Deanna's smile grew as she recalled Liz swimming the small lake. Though she was only a year at the time, she had swum many hundreds of times on the holodeck. The poor girl was so concerned when the water didn't disappear.

Deanna's eyes slipped close once again, recalling the feel of the Betazoid sun baking her skin and the feel of the light breeze flowing through her hair. And, if she thought hard enough, she could even make out the sweat smell of a Ma'lon flower.

She grinned remembering how her father always brought her mother, and sometimes herself, Ma'lons. And could just barely recall how she would always stop to smell the purple flower when she was a child. Even to that day, her mother kept Ma'lons growing in the garden, a remembrance of her father.

Deanna's eyes opened and she just starred at the picture for a while. Recalling how she would simply sit there and work, or play, throughout her life. It was a place she had often brought Will to in their youth.

Deanna sighed; she missed her home terribly. The smile grew fainter as she reached out, running her hand along the picture. Yellow Ibis surrounded them, the leaves dotted with the purple fruits they produce.

The picture was that of the last time they had been there, taken a year ago. It had been nearly six months since Lwaxana had seen Liz, and the girl had grown so much; Lwaxana had missed so much of her life. She only worried that, with what was going on, her mother might not see her granddaughter for a long time.

Deanna just sighed and put the picture down.

/-/-/-/

/- A Few Days Later

"Ah, Mr. Smith, I had hoped that your ship had been attacked by Klingons," Lwaxana said dryly, a fake smile gracing her features as she walked out of the council chambers, her eyes catching the sight of Ken Smith as he walked through the corridors.

"Why, Ambassador Troi, I never knew you cared."

"Don't you wish? This way," she told him without further explanation, retracing her steps and walking back into the large, well furnished chamber. Betazoid silks and material lined most of the seats, furniture, and walls. Drapes covered the windows but allowed ample light to shin into the room, the artificial lights left without a job.

Lwaxana continued to walk to the head of the table. Ken stood dully at the other end, the others at the large table looking down at him. He looked over each of them, remembering them easily for he had worked with them all.

A Vulcan sat to the right of Lwaxana, her impassive face easy to recognize as T'Pel. A Bolian sat across from her, his blue face large and practically indistinguishable from any others, but Ken still knew him as Pok. And then there was a face he hadn't thought he'd be seeing ever again…

A beautiful female Trill sat next to Pok, back straight as poise as she sat in her chair. Her hair was long and brown, braided carefully on her head with the ends flowing freely on her back. With her hair pulled back, her spots were easily visible, running down until they hit material and vanished from the wandering eye. Her hazel eyes watched him indifferently, waiting for him to take his seat and begin.

"Well, well, well. I never thought I'd see you again Pell Lynn," he said to the joined Trill, moving to take his seat.

"I had hoped never to see you, either," she retorted, making it painfully obvious she wished nothing to do with him.

"Please, Mr. Smith, you can being whenever you feel like it," Lwaxana told him.

Ken gave her an annoyed smile as he pulled five PADDs from his pouch. Sliding four of them down the table. The respective person took it and looked over what was on it.

"This is your evidence?" Pell spat, tossing the PADD back onto the table, glaring at him.

"All I see here is a bunch of nothing," Pok complained, he too setting down the PADD.

"Well then, Pok, I'll explain it to you. On here is the evidence that we did, indeed, find the body of President Aurik. It was, unfortunately, burned beyond recognition. We had an expert run dozens of scans to make sure that is was the President." Ken told them this calmly, not quite to the extent that he had rehearsed it, but enough that it caused Lwaxana's eyebrow to raise.

"Mr. Smith, it is the understanding of this Council that it is up to President Amen to present his proof that he took the right course of action. This, though something of what we were looking for, is not enough to sway our beliefs. Unless-"

"I'm sorry, Ambassador, but I had not finished," the Human said with a smirk, picking up his PADD. "There's also the Federation Constitution. Article X, Section VI, Subsection A, states that President Amen did do the lawful thing by taking over as President when the sudden disappearance of former President Amen took place."

"And why haven't you already put this in your news? I noticed that there's been a lot since Amen's take over," Pell commented, her voice neutral.

"It wasn't a 'take over'," Ken said, annoyance ringing in his voice.

"Whatever you say."

"And we haven't put it in the news because we wanted to be sure. We… still don't know who did it or why or if he did it to himself. Plus we wanted you to know first hand rather than the exaggerated stories that run on the news."

"Of course," Lwaxana replied, Ken just snickering with her.

"President Amen will, of course, be notifying both the people of Earth and the Federation of the findings we have here. He would also be pleased to know if he could also announce his office status as President-"

"I'm afraid we can't agree to that just yet, Mr. Smith. Perhaps after this has been debated somewhat more."

Ken nodded, unsatisfied but in agreement with Lwaxana's words. "Well, if that's all you needed to know, I have to be going."

"Oh, so soon?" Lynn asked, her words complete sarcasm.

"I'm afraid so, I have… other things to attend to."

"Good-bye then, Mr. Smith. Please do hesitate to come back," Lwaxana remarked. Ken just gave another of his frustrated grins and turned to head out the door. "Oh, and Mr. Smith. I have a message I've been trying to get through to Tenana. You wouldn't happen to know how I could reach her? Do you?"

Ken's body tensed, freezing where he was. Rather than turning around and facing the telepath, he responded, "No, idea. I haven't seen her in a few days."

"What a shame. Good-bye then."

"'Bye." With that, Ken walked quickly from the room and for his transport home, moving as quickly away from all of the people around him as he could.

"What did you intend on accomplishing from asking your question?" The Vulcan asked, finally speaking.

"I already got what I wanted. The minute I mentioned Tenana's name, I was able to poke into his memory. He had been ordered to kill her, Vir, and Nila."

"He wouldn't have," Lynn complained.

"He didn't, but he did something to them. I just couldn't dig far enough," Lwaxana said, disappointed but somewhere.

/-/-/-/

/- A Week Later

Waiting in the dark corner of Epsilon III, a man waited patiently for something... someone. He watched the casual bustling of the many thousands of people- all hundreds of different species- as they moved around, each looking, purchasing, bargaining, and selling things in dozens of different open shops.

The air reeked of old fish and exotic food. Shops lining the streets sold spices, food, and other such things. The man just watched in disgust as he felt his growling stomach losing its appetite quickly, some of the things beyond words to describe.

His eyes again searched the crowd, looking out for his contact. He should have been there a few minutes ago. But then he was never on time. Never. The man had learned this and found waiting in hiding the extra few minutes was a good idea. But he had always been suspicious of why his contact was late always late.

Finally, the man's eyes spotted the Human he wanted. Slowly, he approached the lean man looking over some object at a Dekarian's stand. He seemed almost like a potential buyer, but his Federation case would suggest that he had other business to attend to.

The man walked up to the Human, casually glancing at the items for sale, picking them up and looking them over. But, after a few minutes of that, he walked past the Human, heading for the same ally way he had been hiding in. His gaze never stopped looking over the objects, stopping here and there. It was the same for his contact.

Once they both made it to the ally, he looked at the case the Human held and said, "You got it?"

"Of course. But it was a rather high price."

The man nodded, understanding the risk the Human was constantly putting himself in. Reaching into his pocket, he handed over a small computer link-up chip.

"I'll see you later then," the Human said, handing over the case. "What do you need with all of these power packs anyway?"

"We're short on supplies. We need to be able to replicate more. Thank-you." The Human nodded and moved easily back into the flow of the crowd, careful to avoid the shops he had been at earlier.

The man in the dark clothes knelt down and opened the case. Just as he had asked, five hundred power packs. That should last them for some time.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

"In other news today, the body of former President Aurik was recently found and identified as his," the reporter said, catching Riker's ears.

"Computer, increase volume."

The computer made a faint beep before the brunette woman continued, louder. "The body itself was burned beyond recognition but genetic tests have confirmed that it is definitely the former President.

"Authorities are still uncertain as to who murdered the President or if it was an act of suicide. Their best lead, as of now, is either the renegades or people on Earth supporting their cause. If you know-"

The computer blinked off instantly when Riker's fist pounded on the button. Deanna walked out of Liz's room, sensing his distress.

"Will? What's wrong?" She asked, walked up behind him. Her arms slid around his waist, her cheek resting upon his shoulder as she tried to calm him.

"The news just reported that they found President Aurik's body. Burnt to death."

"You don't think he's really dead?"

"No. The reporter announced that their only leads are the "renegades" or someone "supporting their cause". At this rate, they might as well just blame us for the destruction of the universe. It'll happen one of these days, who knows, we just might do it," Riker complained, both furious and frustrated with the way things had been going. "This isn't just propaganda, this is full-out lies to make everyone believe him."

Running his hands along her arms, a sigh escaped his lips. He wouldn't stoop to their level but they had to get noticed if they were ever to tell people the real story. Which would be made hard because of the news against them.

"Daddy! Daddy?" Liz shouted, scampering out of her room and running up to her father's leg.

"Yes, sweetie?"

"You read story? Peas?"

Riker smiled, remembering what had been his only sanity lately. She could warm a Klingon's heart without trying after only one look in her chocolate brown eyes- just like her mother's.

"Sure, honey. Which one is it tonight?"

"Um… me go look." With that, she ran back into her room. The child returned seconds later, the PADD large against her small body. "This one!" She shouted, handing him the PADD.

Riker looked at it and chuckled softly. It was the same one she had made him read for the past month. He had it practically memorized by then. "You really like this one, don't you?"

"Come on, daddy!" She told him, pulling on his pant leg as she tried to pull him into her room.

"I'm coming. I'm coming." He broke away from Deanna with a quick kiss, allowing himself to be dragged away by his two-year-old daughter.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Amen looked over at Ken, the man sighing as he looked out at all the reporters.

"You look tense, kid." He just shrugged, not answering. "Don't worry about it. Trust me."

The President smiled, chuckling slightly at the young man. Then he just shock his head, looking as he stepped out into the room of reporters, all the while running what he wanted to say through his mind.

"Good day to the people of Earth, and all others out there watching this," Amen greeted, a smile on his face as the reporters flocked around him, their sudden cries for attention as they shouted out their questions filling the large room.

"President Amen!"

"Why did you take over?"

"What happened to President Aurik?"

"What are you planning to give to the Earth and Federation?"

Amen pointed to a female reporter, her face blocked by a camera. "President Amen, is it true that the Federation Council are trying to kick you out of your position?"

Amen put a smile on his face, laughing as if her words were absurd. "No, they are simply trying to… figure out what has been happening here."

"And what exactly is that?" One of the reporters shouted, but he was ignored.

Instead, Amen pointed to a young, male reporter. "What do you say to the reports of President Aurik's dead body?"

"It is true. A Dr. Tanith, a mortician for Starfleet Medical, examined the body himself. He has determined that the body found was most definably former President Aurik."

"President-"

"President Amen," a reporter called, "How true are the reports that it was renegades that did this?"

Amen nodded his head, saying, "At this moment, that's not even close to certainty. There are no leads as to who might have done this, but we believe that, considering the conflict in interests between Riker and the renegades, it might have been them who did it. They certainly had the motive."

"And what of the rumors that President Aurik committed suicide?"

"Unknown. It is also a possibility," Amen said, looking around at the reporters. "I personally had noticed his slightly more… depressed state the past few months. I, however, had assumed it was the pressures of his presidency. But," Amen shrugged, looking to the next reporter.

"What about the Federation Council? Is it true that they require you to appear before them, presenting your evidence and justify your take over, in order to be officially announced as President?"

Amen nodded, glancing over at Ken. "Yes, that's true. Ambassador Smith has already informed the Council of our findings and my case. I will be arriving on Betazed in nine days."

"President-"

"What-"

"How will you respond-" rang throughout the room, the reporters shouting out their questions. Amen just raised his hand, quieting them some.

"That's all for now. You're all invited to be on Betazed to report what goes on there. Thank-you."

/-/-/-/

/- A Few Days Later

Commander Riker sat, sulking, leaning back in his chair. He much preferred sitting in the Space Station Ready Room as opposed to the Enterprise's; he just never felt comfortable there. It was like he was taking over for Picard in a way he didn't feel was right. It just…

Running a tired hand over his face, he looked up to see his Imzadi walk inside. He gave her a quick smile before looking back down at the PADD in his hands. Solutions seemed impossible at that point… everything just seemed to get worse.

"Will, it's nearly 0200 hours. Come home and get some sleep," she begged him, her voice equally as tired as he felt.

Riker shook his head and looked at her. "I can't, Deanna. I still have a lot of work to do."

"Captain Picard always had more work to do. It was my job to ensure that he slept and it is mine to tell you to go to bed." Through her speech, Deanna moved closer to Riker, finally stopping behind him. She rested her hands on his shoulders, rubbing them gently.

Riker closed his eyes, relaxing into her touch. Moaning softly in pleasure, he looked over his shoulder at Deanna. "You really know how to persuade a guy, don't you?"

"It's a gift. Now come on, I want to go to sleep." Riker smiled and looked back down at his stack of PADDs. "And those do not come with us. Leave them here, they'll still be here in the morning."

"By then the reports will be different, but what the heck?" He stood, commenting, "I'm starting to lose my ability to read, anyway."

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

Dr. Tanith sighed, rubbed his hand over his face nervously. He leaned back in his chair, using his knees to keep him balanced, as he gazed sightlessly at the screen. Something was missing…

"The time is 1400 hours."

His knee jerked in shock, having not anticipated the computer's sudden announcement. "Holy-" He started as his hand reached out to steady himself.

"Did you know some Bolians believe using anything holy in vain will keep you from entering the afterlife?"

Tanith's hand rested over his heart, Ken's first word startling him for a second time. "Don't… do that!"

"I'm sorry," he said with a smirk as he walked into the man's office. A look of disgust was hidden just under his mask of indifference. "So how is everything? Well, I hope."

Tanith nodded absently as he walked over to a cupboard over his counter. "Yes. Almost done."

"Good… good… what's that?"

Tanith glanced over his shoulder just before something he had taken off the self. "Vulcan herbs. They're for my heart."

"Your heart?"

"Yes, I've always had a weak heart. There's never been anything they could do about it. Tragic, really. I could never play any sports or anything-"

"Really? How awful. Well then, I'll see you in a few days."

"Then I'll- I'll see you in a few days."

Ken just nodded, hiding his scowl. And then he turned and walked away, Tanith silently watching distantly as the other man left his office.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

"President Amen announced yesterday that he would be appearing before the Federation Council in two standard weeks, able to present facts that the body found was in fact President Aurik's. He will also be giving us all the facts over his take-over.

"In other news-"

Riker ordered the computer to stop the recording, rubbing the back of his neck as he thought. His gaze drifted over to the Captain standing behind him.

Captain Jayton of the Roddenberry watched him carefully as he waited for a reaction from the man. Jayton might have outranked him, but he agreed with the others that it should be the Enterprise leading the way, which meant there could be only one man to lead them.

Riker just sighed, his face unreadable but his eyes a frenzy of thoughts and emotions. Jayton had brought the recording, knowing the Captain should see it. Knowing that they needed to stop it, and it seemed Riker realized that as well, he just wasn't sure what to do about it.

"Thank-you, Jayton. I'll give this some thought. Don't hesitate to give ideas."

"Right, Will." The man nodded, glancing at Riker once before he headed out the room.

Riker dropped down into his chair, his head falling into his hand. He rubbed at his eyes, thinking, 'What would Captain Picard do?'. What would Picard do in his situation? He could stop it, that Will knew. He would fight to redeem them, to expose what had happened.

But what had happened? What was going on with President Amen's campaign for power? Will didn't know, and really he didn't care. He just wanted his life back. He wanted to stop turning on the news and hear about how he had done something once again- most of it things he hadn't heard of until then.

What would Picard do? Walk in and announce himself to the Council? Force them to hear what he had to say? Make them listen to him?

Or would he be more furtive? Would he violence over diplomacy? Was that what Picard would see fit to do?

Riker shook his head, scratching his neck as he stood from the imprisoning chair. No, the real question was…

What was Captain Riker going to do about it?

/-/-/-/

/- A Week Later

Standing against the darkened wall, he hid his face in the shadows, observing the crowd as they passed by. His eyes scanned over the faces, watching for the right one. Time passed slowly in his mind as he did this, growing more impatient as he counted the seconds.

The man's hands slipped into his pockets as he stepped out of the shadows and into the main alley. The smell of smog was stronger there, a natural element of the planet. It took his sometime before he felt like he was breathing properly.

His head turned, looking from right to left before he turned into traffic. It was still dark, even in the late hours of the morning, and made it harder to see anyone's face. It was a wonder that he ever found his contact.

The man scowled. He hated that place. Why they always had to meet there, he didn't know. It was crawling with thieves and murderers. He was more liable to be shot and mugged than spied on by anyone. Then again, that was probably why.

A young blonde man caught his eye. There he was- five minutes late, like usual. The Human knew he varied when they met just to be sure, but it was damned annoying. He grew later and later with each meeting. Some days, if not under orders, the man was tempted to leave without whatever he had to offer.

He walked closer to the Human, never acknowledging that he knew him. The Human glanced over at him, giving him an appraising look. The man nodded at him, acting as if he were nodding at the object in his hand.

The Human walked next to him, stopping and setting down the brief case in his hand. Carefully he picked up a few objects, observing them before casting them a side. The man watched from the corner of his eye.

He had been told that, this time, there would be no verbal communication. It was clear what his contact wanted.

He waited, continuing to check the objects and inspect them, keeping his face sincere, as if he were an interested buyer. After a moment of that, he bent down and grabbed the case.

No one would notice such an act, for they had learned through their careers not to see much anything than what interested them. Of course, the man knew, they could be offered enough money to loosen their lips and strengthen their memories. Just as easily as more could do the opposite.

The man turned causally, strolling away. He never once glanced back at the Human as he left the god-forsaken planet.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

As the rest of the senior staff and Captains shuffled out of the briefing room, Deanna stood and faced her husband. Like the others had reluctantly agreed to his plan, she too had agree somewhat as well. But she felt the need to convince him otherwise.

"Terrorism, Will?" Deanna asked, her voice uncertain and disbelieving.

Will gave a grim smile as he approached his wife. Taking her shoulders in his strong hands, he said, "Deanna… this may be all we can do right now. We know what they're about and we need to stop them. But, right now, I won't even consider a full out attack."

"But terrorism? Will…" She trailed off, leaving the note with only a shake of her head.

"I know. But we can't let him show them what he's going to. We can't let it be broadcasted. If it is… who knows. For now, that's all we'll do."

Sighing, Deanna nodded- not daring to look him in the eye. She knew that he was right, that they needed to do something. But terrorism? Was that the answer? It went completely against Federation policy to deal with terrorist. Definably to become one. But, perhaps under their situation, they couldn't follow Federation law anymore if they expected to accomplish anything that needed to be done.

Will put a gentle hand under her chin and lifted her eyes until they met his. Kissing her forehead, he whispered, "I hate this as much as you do but…"

"It's the only solution at the moment. I know. Come on, we have to get ready." Taking his hand, she led him away from the old briefing room.

/-/-/-/

/- Around the Same Time

"Daddy!" Riker heard the squeal of his two-year-old daughter. Turning away from his Chief Engineer's briefing, he saw, with a smile, Commander Data escorting her down the hall. Her hand had been holding his, but, when she saw her father, she instantly let go and ran for her father. Riker bent down, scooping up the little girl into his arms.

Riker looked mournfully at his daughter. He hadn't had time to spend with her in the past few days, as he was constantly caught up with repairs and other things. His mind, so wrapped up with a million things, almost didn't hear Data saying, "I apologize, Captain. But she was quite insistent in her desire to see you"

That's all right, Data." Turning his attention back to Liz, he asked, "Have you been a good girl for Data?"

His question was met with the vigorous shaking of Liz's head. Her short, curly hair bounced and fell into her eyes. "I be a really good girl."

"She was, indeed, very compliant, Captain. The only trouble I had with her was trying to persuade her against disturbing you," Data interjected.

"I should go, Captain," Geordie interrupted, giving Liz a teasing poke. She swatted his hand away- as always- returning his grin with her cute dimples.

"Alright, Geordie."

"I should go, as well," Data stated, looking at the retreating form of his long time friend.

"Actually, Data, I want to talk to you." Still holding onto Liz, Riker began walking toward the turbolift, making it obvious that Data was to follow. "As I'm sure you know, I still haven't appointed a first officer under me," Riker began, trying to find the best words to say what he wanted. "You're the best suited for the job, everyone knows that. And, considering the newest mission I'll be going on, I need one."

Data and Riker halted at the entrance to the turbolift, waiting for the lift to arrive. Riker turned to the android, looking him straight in the eye when he said, "Which is why I'm giving you a field promotion to Commander and appointing you as my first officer."

Data showed little emotion- his emotion chip having been deactivated for the past few days. Riker knew that, though he had not been apparently apprehensive about the position, he had been quite curious about the situation.

"Thank-you, Captain. I appreciate it."

"You deserve it, Data. Just remember, I want an operational ship by the time I get back," Riker said, sarcastically, just as the doors opened.

"Aye, sir."

Riker grinned, shaking his head as they turned the corner. He shifted Liz, his arms just beginning to feel the weight of his daughter. He looked at her, feeling her head lift from his shoulder, where it had been for the past few minutes.

"Daddy go bye-bye?" She asked, her eyes filled with horror at the prospect of her father leaving.

"Yes, daddy and mommy have to go bye-bye. But just for a few days. Then we'll be back home," he told her gently, trying not to upset her too much. He had forgotten how his and Deanna's departure would do to Liz. Something he should have considered. But his guilt was forgotten when Liz replied with:

"Liz no go bye-bye, too?"

"No, you can't come with us."

"Why?"

'Why?', a phrase she loved and said about almost everything. But this time, this time she said it with such sincerity.

"Because… because it's not somewhere we can take you right now." Liz normally repeated her question several times, never truly satisfied with any answer. But, this time, she just laid her head back down, a pout on her face.

Riker sighed, looking over to Data. If the android had listened to the conversation, he showed no outward signs of it.

"Captain?"

Riker stopped, Data along with him, as they turned to see a Lieutenant Commander walking towards them. Riker's eyes swept over him quickly, trying to decide if they had met before. The young, brunette officer, though, didn't seem familiar. "Yes?"

"Lieutenant Commander Mathew Tette, sir," the man announced, stopping just in front of them.

"You're Captain Jayton's tactical officer."

"Yes, sir," he said with a curt nod, shifting a small bag on his shoulder.

"Did you get it alright?"

"Yes, sir. This bag is lined with a deuterium alloy. Their sensors shouldn't detect anything," Tette informed Will as he handed over the bag.

Riker glanced at Data as he slide the strap over his shoulder. The Captain easily knew his look as on of mild curiosity. He could almost see the gears working behind his eyes as he deduced what could possibly be hidden in the tan sack.

"Thank you, Commander. Good job."

Tette nodded once again, looking to the Captain. He smirked as the little girl in his arms waved shyly at him, cuddling into her father's neck even as she did so.

"Good luck, sir." Tette pivoted around, walking away at his normal, swift pace, smiling as he heard the girl whisper, "Bye!"

/-/-/-/

/- A Few Days Later

"Calm down, kid, or you'll wet yourself," Amen teased, slapping the man on his back with a laugh.

Ken turned shyly to look at him, his back tensing at the sight of the President's large grin. "Sorry. I'm just… nervous."

"What about? We've got this all wrapped up, like you said, we're as good as gold. Everything is going well… better than that. No one will ever be the wiser, kid. You just stay on top of everything and keep your mouth shut."

Ken nodded mutely, looking away from the new President and out the window. The man was sick, as far as he was concerned. And, quite frankly, he scared the crap out of Ken. But he was power hungry, and was now in a position to get Ken wherever he wanted. All he had to do was keep quiet.

Keep quiet? After everything he had become privy to? He may have been a jerk and smug and acted like he was omnipotent. But he wasn't- hadn't been at the time and never would be. Even then he may have acted cold hearted and untouchable, but he wasn't.

The things he was starting to do- had doe and knew he would do- were wearing down on him. They were hard to do and hurting him. He hated it.

"Ken. Kenny-boy… don't fret over this. Okay? I've got it all worked out, kid," Amen said with his sick smile, Ken's own no competition for it. His hand pat the cushion next to him, saying, "Take a seat. Relax, kid."

Ken sighed, looking down at his feet. He hated Amen, hated his work and his plan and everything about him. But, what he hated the most, was how Amen could use that sly voice of his and send shivers down his spin, reducing his cocky confidence to nothing but spineless muttering. He hated it- it was like he was a child intimidated by his teacher.

Ken shuffled his feet along the floor, plopping himself down on the couch, practically sitting on the armrest to stay as far away from Amen as he could.

"Now, Ken, I have something I want you to do…"

/-/-/-/-

Author's Note: Well, I thought I'd share with you a bit of history on this story. Way back in May of 2003, I was finishing grade seven, I began this first part of this story called "Circle of Life: When In Need". Five months later, I had started grade eight and the last of it was posted and I was well on my way into writing the next part. Somehow, for some reason, I got it into my head that a twenty year story, each year as one chapter, would be a fun idea. So I start mapping this story out, figuring out what each year will contain… I find out that I don't have enough ideas to even fill each year. So I pretty much went "shit, I can't do this" and gave up.

And then, the summer of 2004, something happened. I return home from a vacation, and I got some insane amount of reviews from someone who has become something of a friend of mine. I'll admit, I started reading her reviews and had no idea what she was talking about. I had to go and reread my own story just to remember! And, only because she reviewed EVERY SINGAL chapter, I had to respond (this was back in the days before we had that handy respond button-thing. Wow! I know, never thought I'd be able to use that phrase either). So anyway, she got me thinking enough to go back and give it all a second shot.

So, from the dusty corners of my computer, I pulled up all my notes and began playing around with them. Twenty years dropped to seventeen, which dropped to fifteen, and there it stayed. And then, slowly, I began to come up with a more complete picture of Year 1 and, eventually, it was done. And so on and so on… until suddenly it was Spring Break of grade eleven… and it was done.

So, if anyone cares to do the math, I started this journey in May of 2003 and have now completed it in April of 2007. Mind you, there were a couple of breaks and some horrific moments of writer's block (many moments, I should say, one that last five months :( ).

Well anyway, what this really long rant is trying to say is that I've had a lot of fun, even after all this time and effort and frustration, and I'm glad that I finally get to share it with you. So to any of my original readers who have once against stumbled upon this story, I hope you enjoy where this story has gone and, for all those who review, I have a new pack of virtual stickers waiting to be handed out :). And to the new readers, I hope you enjoy it as well. Keep a look out for the next chapter!