Summary: Hiding from the Dominion, Ro finds unexpected hope in entertainment from the distant past. Follow-up to "Thinking of Ro."

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes and language.

Time Frame: Some time after the destruction of the Maquis by the Dominion in the Star Trek timeline, probably about mid-season seven for ST: DS9.

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.

Dedication: To Michelle Forbes, for her memorable portrayal of Ensign (later Lieutenant) Ro Laren, and to a certain friend who came to mind as I was writing the dialogue of Ro's best friend in this story. . .: - ).


SPECIAL EDITION


Ro Laren leaned back in the chair and tried to relax for just a few moments. As usual, it quickly became apparent to her that the effort would be futile. She shook her head in annoyance and looked around the Spartan office for the hundredth time, wondering at the bizarre twists of fate that had led to her sitting there.

The destruction of the Maquis by the Jem-Haddar had been ruthlessly fast and near total. Only one other member of Ro's cell had survived, and both of them had been seriously injured in the escape. After recovering and meeting up with the other survivors, as well as other Bajorans and Federation citizens who had been forced to flee by the Dominion forces, it had been quickly made clear that their best hope was to find places to hide and regroup until they could develop the resources to possibly help the Federation drive the Dominion out of the Alpha Quadrant, and get some payback against the Cardassians while they were at it. In spite of her objections, Ro had been quickly tapped as one of the leaders of the survivors, due to her Starfleet tactical training and other personal qualities, and she had been gratified to see that even the Federation citizens who had been inclined to look at her less than charitably due to her past with Starfleet were only to glad to accept her help graciously now.

Ro had remembered learning about a distant, abandoned Federation outpost in the Briar Patch that had not been disclosed to the Cardassians during treaty negotiations: it was located on a small planetoid made of ore that defeated standard sensors. She had led her group to it, dodging Jem-Haddar patrols along the way, and found that the place was mostly operational, though the replicators were down, requiring four days of around the clock work by the engineers to get them working again.

With that task accomplished, it was just a matter of running an inventory of the place and using what was found to plan their next moves. Ro scowled, then looked down at the padd in front of her, willing it to reveal some resource that would let them do something useful before the Dominion got smart and wiped them out.

"Laren?" Ro looked up and brightened a little as she saw Krista Reynolds, her fellow Maquis survivor and only close friend among the group with her. The former Starfleet security officer grinned at the Bajoran sitting at the desk and asked, "How's it going here?"

Ro shrugged and replied, "More of the same. . .I should have the inventory ready for review by the department heads in a few days, for whatever good it will do us." She looked at Krista and shook her head in resignation before asking, "Is everyone settled in?"

Reynolds nodded and elaborated, "There's plenty of room in the living quarters, and with the replicators up and the reactors at 100%, there's not much left to do other than the physical inventory, which we can't do until you've finished up here."

Ro nodded, then ordered, "Tell everyone who isn't on essential duty to relax. . .no use wasting energy when there isn't anything useful to accomplish. The computer probably has some entertainment options that would pass the time for them, and I think that would be a good thing."

Reynolds smiled again, and replied, "I was thinking along the same lines. . .some of us were checking the files out and found the entertainment listings. . .we found something that I'd like to show you."

Ro raised an eyebrow and asked, "Really? What is it?"

Reynolds only smiled mysteriously and motioned for Ro to follow her. Curious, Ro followed her friend into the main lounge, where about two dozen Bajorans, humans and Vulcans were sitting on seats in front of a large viewing screen. Their heads turned as Ro and Reynolds entered, and the Vulcan sitting at the console raised an eyebrow and inclined his head at the activation panel. Reynolds nodded, and the Vulcan touched the panel, causing the screen to brighten, then go dark for a moment before an identification message came onto the screen, identifying the chip being played by the computer as having been catalogued in the files at Starfleet Academy. Ro noted the catalog date was from about twenty years before, then blinked as she read the title of the work itself: "Buffy. . .the Vampire Slayer?"

Reynolds nodded, then elaborated, "It's a television series from the end of Earth's twentieth century, about. . .well, I guess you'd call her an epic heroine of sorts. She and her friends fight against evil creatures and save the world from being destroyed."

Ro frowned, then commented, "Sounds a bit odd for that period." Ro had studied Earth history as part of her Starfleet training, and remembered that particular period in human history being rather bloody in many parts of the world, and more pre-occupied with athletic competitions and sexual acrobatics than with epic drama of any kind.

Reynolds nodded again, then added, "It was odd for its time, and it never was one of the most successful or honored shows then, but there was always a relatively small circle of fans who loved it and made sure it was passed down through the years. . .quite a few of the people here had seen the show and loved it. From what I understand, this version was compiled by a Starfleet officer who knew of the show and saw it as having useful values to pass on to Starfleet cadets."

Ro frowned: the last thing she wanted right now was a veiled lecture on ethics coming from some stuffed shirt from Starfleet-she needed to concentrate on keeping these people alive. The Bajoran shook her head and replied, "I appreciate the invitation, Krista, but I'm busy right now and-"

"Hello."

Ro froze: she had not heard that voice during her waking hours in nearly five years, though it haunted her dreams all too often. She turned to the screen, where a man with thinning hair, wearing the uniform of a Starfleet captain, was looking intently out at the quietly waiting spectators. He smiled and added, "I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Stargazer, and this is a brief introduction to the old Earth television series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' which has been compiled in whole on this chip and can be viewed at your convenience."

Ro sat down in a nearby seat and listened, as Reynolds watched her, not without some concern. On the screen, Picard sat down in a chair and continued, "As you probably know, at the time this television series was running on Earth, conditions were far less hospitable than those most of you probably grew up in, and the fictional world portrayed within these episodes is far less hospitable than that. Buffy and her friends spend a great deal of their time in extreme danger, with the fate of the entire world often at stake, and with no real prospect of reward or even of receiving much thanks for their efforts. While each of the characters has their own strengths to contribute to their cause, their greatest asset is their ability to cooperate and be loyal to each other in the face of overwhelming odds."

Ro saw her people glancing at each other, and knew what they were feeling. Picard continued, "These individuals were not portrayed as infallible paragons: they all made mistakes, some of which had horrifying consequences. They often had conflicts with traditional authority figures, and I would be doing you a disservice if I failed to tell you that emulating some of their actions in your own dealings with Starfleet personnel will lead to you needing to find another career path rather quickly." The audience laughed, and Ro wondered what fictional incidents they were remembering as Picard added, "But their dedication to each other, and to the greater arena of protecting the rest of the world, is reflective of the finest within humanity of that time, and demonstrated the spirit that would lead Earth and the rest of the Federation out of dark times and into a more hopeful future." The viewscreen changed, and the image of a young human woman, lit in blue light and mercilessly glaring at unseen foes replaced Picard's image as Picard concluded, "Buffy Summers has been an inspiration to watchers of this program for centuries now. . .I hope that you find this experience as rewarding-not to mention entertaining-as I have. Thank you."

The screen went blank, then displayed a modern caption reading "Episode 1: Welcome to The Hellmouth." Reynolds slipped over to Ro, who was still staring at the screen, and whispered, "Laren. . .are you O.K.? I should have realized that you might have problems with-"

"It's all right, Krista." Ro sounded subdued and a bit contemplative as she watched the viewscreen, which showed two people breaking into what looked like a school. She turned and glanced at her friend and smiled slightly, commenting, "I suppose I can spare a few minutes to see what all of the fuss is about."

Reynolds smiled, seeing Ro turn back to the screen in a visibly better mood than she had been in when she walked into the room. They were still in a jam, but morale was improving for all of them, including a certain Bajoran with a rather painful recent history, and a bit of encouragement would certainly help their cause. Reynolds sat by Ro and focused intently on the screen, where the opening credits were playing, showing again the view of blue-lit Buffy staring at her enemies and silently daring them to face her.



As before, comments are welcome and desired.