Sixteen-year-old Tom Paris rolled his eyes. Out of all the
things his father suggested they go to during the 500th anniversary of
San Francisco's founding, he had to pick the fair! How--twentieth
century. Of course, this fair would have some modern attractions--like
the aerial show, which was the only reason he had agreed to this dumb
excursion in the first place.
"Tommy!" came a shriek outside his door.
"What?" he called back.
Alyssa Paris, his eighteen-year-old sister, walked in. "Are you
ready yet? You're holding the rest of us up."
"All right, already, I'm coming." He raked his fingers through
his unruly blondish-brown hair, and followed his sister.
"They're going to have the Cloud Streaker." An excited Alyssa
bounced on her seat in the hovercraft as though she were a
five-year-old. Her pale blue eyes were gleaming.
"The Cloud Streaker is an old design, 'Lyss," Tom snorted.
"That was a fair ride in the twenty-second century."
"So?" Alyssa shot back. "It'll still be fun."
"I want to see the aerial show," Tom said.
"You're obsessed with flying, Tommy."
"What's so wrong with that?" he demanded.
Admiral Owen Paris laughed. "She's jealous, son. Don't worry
"I am NOT jealous!"
"That'll be the day," Owen teased.
Tom turned around to grin at his sister, and received a dark
look in return.
Twenty minutes later, they had arrived, Owen had parked the
hovercraft, and they were inside the fair gates.
Tom looked around. Off to the left was the wide area where the
aerial show would be held. Two big buildings held contest displays.
There were food booths, selling everything from exotic Bolian dishes to
old-fashioned ideas from the past centuries, in keeping with the theme.
Directly to the right were the rides: an antique design ferris wheel,
some little kid rides, a 21st century roller coaster, a remodel of the
20th century Himalaya, eight or nine virtual reality games, and the
Behind him, he could hear Alyssa talking to Jennifer. "Oh,
honestly. It's a ride!"
"No, I will not go on it."
Alyssa tugged at his arm. "Tom, you have to ride the Cloud
Streaker with me. Jennie's too afraid."
Nineteen-year-old Jennifer Paris childishly made a face in
"All right, kids. Where to first?" Owen grinned at his
daughters and son.
"The Cloud Streaker!" Alyssa insisted. "And Tom's coming with
"I didn't actually agree," Tom pointed out.
"Now, Alyssa, let Tom decide what he wants to do first."
"'Lyss, I kinda wanted to walk around by myself for a while.
I'll ride the Cloud Streaker later, though."
Alyssa pouted briefly, then sighed. "Oh, all right. Just don't
get tied up at the aerial show, Tommy. Meet me back here in three
hours." She reached out and messed up his hair, though he tried in vain
to duck away.
"Good." Alyssa grinned. "Then get out of here."
Tom sighed. He had briefly checked out the aerial show, but
decided to wait until the next day, when they were going to watch the
whole thing. Other than the Cloud Streaker and some of the holo-action
virtual reality games, there wasn't much to this fair.
Tom spun around. At first, he saw no one. But then he peered
closer into the nearby shadows and saw a small girl beckoning to him.
He moved toward her.
"Are you Thomas Paris?"
Tom studied the child. She couldn't have been more than four or
five--Betazoid, from the looks of her. She had the typical high brow,
chocolate eyes and glossy black hair. But why was she alone?
"Come." The small girl reached up and boldly took his hand.
"Elona has been awaiting you."
Puzzled yet curious, Tom allowed the child to lead him to a
small tent, almost unnoticed among the rest of the fair attractions.
The girl pushed aside a section of the purple cloth that was obviously
the doorway and led him into the dark interior.
"I have found him," said the girl.
"Thank you, Kela. You may go."
Almost immediately, the girl released Tom's hand and then
vanished. When Tom's eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, he detected
another person in the room. She was sitting at a small table. On the
table were two lit candles, the only light in the tent. A chair was
across from her--a chair meant for him, he was sure. At first, he was
confused. Then it clicked in his mind. She was a fortune teller. They
were a popular attraction at fairs in the late twentieth century. But
usually, they just put out a sign and let customers come to them. Who
was the Betazoid girl and how had she known him by name?
"I see Kela has located you, Thomas Paris. Come sit down."
Tom remained where he was. "Who are you? How do you know my
"I am Elona." She gestured to the empty chair. "Come sit. I
will tell you everything you need to know."
Reluctantly, he crossed the distance and perched on the edge of
the chair. Now that he was closer to Elona, he studied her for a
minute. She had dark flowing hair, chocolate eyes like Kela's, and was
wearing dark purple. A veil covered the lower half of her face.
"How do you know my name?"
Elona laughed lightly. "Such spirit, Thomas. You are every bit
like your father."
*Yeah, right*, was his sarcastic thought.
"Why did the child bring me here?"
"Kela brought you here so that you may know about your future."
"So tell." Tom was still skeptical, but interested.
Elona's dark eyes bored into him. "You doubt me, Thomas?"
Tom was taken aback. How did she know that he had been
"You are a charmer with the young ladies, are you not?"
Despite himself, Tom grinned. "There are some who say that."
"Many will love you, but you will not feel the same way toward
them. It will be many years before you meet she who is your soulmate.
Even then, it will take more years for you to know that she is the one."
"What are you talking about?"
"You will first meet her on a faraway world. She will be near
death. You will not know her, yet in your heart you will be praying
that she will live. Do not worry, for she will, because she is your
"I'm still confused, Elona. How will I know her? Will there
just be chemistry between us? Or will it be love at first sight? How
will I know?"
Elona's eyes closed. "I am seeing her in my mind. Raven-dark
hair, dark eyes, tall and slender. She is of two worlds, belonging to
neither one nor the other. Her soft side is challenged by her warrior
spirit. She is proud, like you, Thomas. She is tenacious, her
"Is there anything else I should know?"
"She has not had the love and cherishing your parents have given
you, Thomas. Those who are like your father's friends seek to destroy
her happiness. By the time you meet one another, she will have lost
much faith. She will trust almost no one. It will be up to you to
restore that faith--and show her the love she has been longing for all
Tom was still confused. The girl was of two worlds? Those like
his father's friends? Not having had love?
"You must go now. Your sister is waiting."
Tom glanced at his watch and saw that it was indeed time to meet
Alyssa at the Cloud Streaker.
"Go now--and remember. Do not forget what I have told you."
Tom nodded and dashed out of the tent. When he was about a
hundred meters away, he turned. He thought he saw Kela waving to him.
He waved back and with a shrug, hurried to meet Alyssa.
Tom lay awake late that night in the darkness, pondering what
Elona had said.
He was still greatly confused. Okay, so he was supposed to meet
some girl on a faraway world. Was she of that world?
*"She is of two worlds, belonging to neither one nor the other.
Her soft side is challenged by her warrior spirit...."*
Were her people of a sadistic warrior race, like the
Cardassians? Or were they gentle people, like Kela and other Betazoids?
*"Those who are like your father's friends seek to destroy her
happiness. By the time you meet one another, she will have lost much
He had no idea what she'd meant by that, unless she was
referring to Admiral Neri, who was highly prejudiced against any of the
other races except for Vulcans and other humans.
*"Raven-dark hair, dark eyes, tall and slender...."*
He tried to form a mental picture in his mind, but gave up an
hour later. He supposed he wouldn't know until he saw her.
Still confused, he turned to one side and drifted off to sleep.
The metal stairwell rocked beneath his feet.
Tom silently cursed Janeway for sending him with Neelix and Kes
to look for Kim and Torres. But for Harry's sake, he kept going.
"I see them!" he exclaimed, noticing a faint light above them.
Running up the last few stairs, he pocketed the tricorder.
He had never expected Harry to look so terrible. He was slumped
against one wall, his face pale, his eyes closed, and Tom was instantly
relieved when his eyes fluttered open. "Took you long enough."
Tom's eyes darted to the young woman a few stairs up. She was
glowering furiously at him. But the second her dark eyes locked with
his, Tom felt a sudden chill go down his back.
*"Raven-dark hair, dark eyes, tall and slender...."*
It had to be her! It all fit: the alien world, Elona's
description, and her close to death. As it was, his mind was racing
with one constant thought: *Don't let her die, don't let her die......*
"How could I let down the only friend I've got?" he said,
lifting Harry to his feet.
"Friend? What makes you think I'm your friend?"
As Kes slithered past him to help Torres to her feet, Tom
slapped at his commbadge. "Paris to Janeway. We found them, Captain."
"Good. Don't wait for us. Get them to safety."
The communication ended as Kes led them up the stairs, leaving
Neelix with Torres. "This way. I know where we can get through the
Kes led them down a bigger tunnel, where at the end, was a
shimmery force field. A small hole could be seen in one side--just big
enough for a person to slip through.
"Whatever you do, don't touch it," Kes warned as she climbed up
to prepare to slither past the barrier. "We've been told it'll burn
your skin off."
With practiced ease, Kes slipped through the hole. She and Tom
guided Harry through next. When he was safe, Kes reached out a hand to
Torres. She took Kes' in one of hers and Tom took her other.
In her weakened state, Tom thought she might not make it, that
she would slip and fall forward into the barrier. Unconsciously, her
grip tightened on his hand. Her eyes darted to his and he thought he
saw a hint of fear in the dark depths.
*Please, God, don't let her die....*
She stumbled, but didn't fall forward as he feared. She fell
sideways, nearly knocking Kes over. Tom breathed a sigh of relief and
released her hand as Neelix went to slide through. He followed.
A few meters more through the twisting tunnels brought them to
the point where they would have to dig out.
*Dig, hell.* "Neelix, get out your phaser."
Neelix did so and both pointed and fired. Rocks came tumbling
down for several seconds and Tom waited until the dust had cleared.
When it had, he saw sunlight streaming through.
Climbing up the piled rocks that had fallen, he hefted himself
out of the hole, then turned to help the others. He took Kes' hand and
pulled her up. She helped him get Harry out, then got him to his feet
and began to walk away from the hole.
Torres was halfway up, determined to climb out on her own, he
could tell. But he hooked his hands under her arms and lifted her the
rest of the way out. She could chew him out later if she wanted.
Neelix climbed out unassisted. As Tom got Torres to her feet,
he touched his commbadge. "Paris to Voyager. Can you get a lock on us
"Affirmative," Rollins answered. "But I'm reading only five
"The others are--" Tom's voice was cut off by a shriek and he
saw one of the flashes of light from the Array's weapon shooting toward
the nearby mountains.
"Get down!" he hollered. He threw himself over Torres just as
the weapon hit the surface. The ground rocked beneath them. For those
few seconds that seemed like hours, he clutched her close, his face
buried in her back. *Take me, not her. Don't let her die.*
The dust cleared again and he let go of her, embarrassed that
Neelix, Kes and Harry had had to see such a thing. *I don't even know
He turned toward the hole to see it partially caved in. He
tapped his comm badge. "Paris to Janeway."
"Chakotay, Tuvok, do you read?"
Something had happened. He had to go after them. He tapped his
badge again. "Voyager, prepare to transport everyone in this group
"You're not thinking of going back in there, are you?" Neelix
Tom simply stared him straight in the eye without answering.
Neelix sighed and shook his head. "The fool needs company!" He
turned to Kes. "Take care of them, dearest. I'll see you later."
Tom took Neelix's comm badge and handed it to Kes. "Voyager,
make that three to beam up. Lock on the other comm badge and energize."
His gaze fell on Torres again. She looked up at him, her dark
eyes wide with a hint of fear. He desperately wanted to go to her, hold
her, comfort her, but he had to help Captain Janeway and the others.
Kes put an arm around Harry, then slipped her other hand into
Torres' as the transporter beam surrounded the three. They vanished a
Tom studied his wife. Her raven-dark hair was sleep-tangled, a
few errant locks falling across her face. She was perfectly calm in
slumber, none of the fiery temper he loved showing on the surface.
He reached over, brushing back the stray wisps of her hair.
Elona had been right. She had been everything he had dreamed of--and
She stirred. "Tom?"
"Shh, B'Elanna." Tom leaned down and brushed a kiss across her
forehead. "Go back to sleep. I'm right here."
A soft smile touched her face, then her eyes closed again.
He smiled himself, then after ordering the computer to turn
the lights out, lay down, drawing B'Elanna close. She snuggled against
him as he, too, drifted to sleep.
Legal B.S. Paramount's characters, my story. Elona, Kela, Alyssa and
Jennifer Paris are my characters, however, and Paramount CAN'T HAVE
THEM!!!! (Ha ha!) :)