The Price of Freedom: ????

All credit for this chapter in the series goes to
Claire Daniels for going above and beyond the
Paris-ite call of duty and making me really jealous
that SHE got to see RDM at a con and sending us
all a great review. Anybody know if RDM is coming
to Cleveland anytime soon??? 🙂

The Price of Freedom: ????
By Jessica Ferroni

“I don’t understand — ”
“What’s the last thing you remember, Tom?”
Ro interjected.
Tom concentrated for a moment, thinking back.
“I was….talking with Evek. I said something
he disagreed with, and the next thing I
knew, his fist had connected with my face,” he
said wryly, “and I was on the floor.”
Ro nodded. “Do you remember anything else?”
she prodded gently. She hated to question him
— he looked pale and gaunt, with a swelling
bruise near his temple where Evek had struck
him — but it was necessary, for the sake of
all involved.
“The guards took me back to my cell,” he
said slowly. “After that, nothing.”
Ro paced quietly, ticking off events in her
head. Tom watched her warily. Could he trust
her? Yes. With his life. Could she help him?
“So, what did happen, Laren?”
She smiled at his use of her name. They had
always been close, in Starfleet, and later, the
Maquis. He was one of the few who could call her
Laren and get away with it.
“We attacked the Cardassian vessel you were
imprisoned on — and knowing you, Tom, I probably
don’t want to hear how you ended up there.”
He ignored the jibe. His thoughts had turned
instantly to — “Laren, what kind of comm
gear do you have here?”
She looked surprised. “Sophisticated enough,
I guess. Why?”
“I need to send a message to Deep Space Nine.”
“Are you crazy??” she asked disbelievingly.
“Starfleet would pick us up in an instant,”
He closed his eyes. “I need to go there, then.”
It was possible that most of the crew would still
be there, awaiting orders and reassignments from
Starfleet. It was possible she might still be there.
“You’re crazy! Evek must have hit you harder
than we thought,” she murmured.
He sat up quickly, ignoring the sharp pain in
his head. “What do you mean, I’m crazy? Laren,
it’s important!”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Tom.”
He stood up slowly, testing himself. “I need
to go there,” he repeated stubbornly.
She stared at him in disbelief. “Tom, you’re
not listening to me! You can’t leave.” She said
each word slowly and deliberately. “Why is it so
He hesitated. “There’s someone I need to see.”
He eyed her warily. “Bit nosy, Laren?”
She half-smiled. “It’s my job.”
“B’Elanna Torres.” He didn’t think she’d recognize
B’Elanna’s name, and he wasn’t surprised. Ro half-
“Never heard of her. Starfleet?”
“Chakotay’s Maquis.”
“So was I,” he pointed out.
“That’s different,” she protested.
“Laren, she’s important to me,” he said
sharply. Ro sighed. She’d always had a soft
spot for Tom Paris. Her normally grim features
softened for a moment.
“Sesh nokur, Balij?”
He smiled. “Sesh nokur, Senja.”
She moved to stand beside him, resting a
hand on his shoulder briefly. “After you eat,
we’ll talk.”

“Tom,” Ro was saying, “I’ve been trying to get
the point across to you: we can’t use the comm gear
to contact anything remotely Starfleet, and we have
no ships to spare. If you think we’re just going
to waltz up to DS9, drop you off, and then saunter
away, you’ve got another thing coming.”
He eyed her midly. “No other options?”
She shook her head firmly. “None.”
He sighed, dropping his fork with a clatter.
She raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
He leveled gazes with her. “Drop me off at the
next planet you stop. I’ll get a transport to
“You’re crazy.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
She sighed. “No. It’s going to be dangerous.”
“I’m willing to chance it.”
“You can’t possibly think you won’t be recognized.”
“It’s been five years, Laren.”
“So?” she challenged. “How much has changed here?”
“I don’t know,” he retorted. “I haven’t seen
much since I’ve been here.”
“What if you get noticed by a bounty hunter?
You’re dead.”
“What do you want to do, Laren?” he asked,
exasperated. “Grow a beard and dye my hair?”
She eyed him critically. “That’s not a bad
idea, Tom.”
“You’ll have a better shot at making it.”
“I’ll take my chances,” he retorted.
Ro frowned. “Have I ever won any arguments with
you, Tom?” she asked wryly.
“One,” Tom replied, grinning cheerfully.
Ro shook her head. “Why do I bother?”
“Because you’re as stubborn as I am and three times
better-looking?” he teased.
She smiled. “Maybe.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere.”
“Except maybe safe passage to DS9,” Ro replied.
“And Tom, I’ve been thinking; maybe your chances
will be better if you try for Earth instead. That
way you won’t have to go through all of DS9’s
security checkpoints. You can find a place to bury
yourself where you won’t be found and send a piggy-
backed message to Shores or whatever her name was at
Deep Space Nine.”
“*Torres*. B’Elanna Torres.”
Ro waved dismissively. “You’ll be better off
doing that instead of charging your way in like
you always do.”
“Good point,” Tom said thoughtfully. “Laren,
you’ve now officially won two arguments. Congratulations.”
“Thanks,” she said dryly.

“Now, Tom, please be careful.” She tried not to make
her voice sound pleading, but she’d always felt an
almost sisterly concern for the man standing across
from her. `Senja’, in fact, meant `sister’. He surprised
her by reaching out and hugging her warmly.
“Thanks,” he whispered.
Ro felt a blush creeping its way up her face. “You’re
welcome. They’re staring.”
She could feel him grin into her hair. “Don’t want
the other Maquis thinking you’re soft, Senja?” he teased.
“Don’t push it, Balij,” she warned.
“Right.” He released her and stepped back. “Thanks.
I mean it. And thank them, too.” He waved at the other
Maquis, who were busily loading cargo into the Maquis
ship. “Take care of yourself, okay?”
“You, too. And, Tom?”
She tossed him a wicked grin. “Invite me to the
wedding, okay?” She had the pleasure of seeing
him blush and she laughed. “Good luck.”
He half-grinned. “I’ll find her,” he promised.

Eventually to be continued…..;)

) Copyright March 1997 by Jessica Ferroni on all original story content.
Not meant to infringe on copyrights held by Paramount or any other
holders of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. Please do not reproduce for anything
than personal reading use (including fanzines) without written consent
the author. Comments are welcome at


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