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Ensign Ro Laren
Ro Laren was also planned to be a main character in the next Star Trek television series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The creators of Deep Space Nine wanted a strong-willed Bajoran character who would engender interpersonal conflict with the station's commander, Benjamin Sisko. However, Michelle Forbes turned down the role, so another Bajoran character named Kira Nerys was created to be Sisko's second-in-command.
Ro Laren appears as a recurring character in six episodes of The Next Generation's fifth season, and also appears in one episode of season six and one episode in season seven:
- "Ensign Ro" (Season Five)
- "Disaster" (Season Five)
- "Conundrum" (Season Five)
- "Power Play" (Season Five)
- "Cause and Effect" (Season Five)
- "The Next Phase" (Season Five)
- "Rascals" (Season Six)
- "Preemptive Strike" (Season Seven)
Fictional character biography
Ro Laren's personnel file, seen in the episode "Conundrum", indicates she was born on January 17, 2340 on Bajor to Ro Talia and Gale, and that she attended Starfleet Academy from 2358 to 2362.
In accordance with Bajoran tradition, her family name precedes her personal name. When she first joins the crew of the Enterprise-D, Riker addresses her as "Ensign Laren". She corrects him, saying that Laren is her given name and Ro is her family name. She is then referred to as "Ensign Ro".
Ro joins the crew as a troubled young Bajoran officer who had been court-martialled while serving on the USS Wellington, for disobeying orders on an away mission, resulting in eight deaths. She was imprisoned on Jaros II, but Admiral Kennelly gives her a second chance by assigning her to a mission alongside Picard and the Enterprise crew.
Once past her initial hostility, Ro forms friendships with several Enterprise crew members, including Ten Forward bar manager Guinan, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge and Commander William Riker. As a Bajoran, she has a great dislike for Cardassians, as she was forced to watch them torture her father to death when she was a child. In the first episode in which she appears, entitled "Ensign Ro", she is given a full pardon in exchange for going on a secret mission to help stop dissident raids, in order to protect a treaty with Cardassia.
In "The Next Phase", Ro and La Forge are presumed dead after a transporter malfunction while returning from rescue operations on a disabled Romulan ship. Upon regaining consciousness, they discover they have become invisible and intangible to everyone but each other. At first, Ro believes they are dead, converted to a ghostlike existence, which awakens a number of Bajoran spiritual beliefs she thought she had abandoned decades earlier. By invisibly observing the crew of the Romulan vessel, Ro and La Forge soon discover that the accident, as well as the damage to the Romulan ship, is the result of a Romulan weapons test, and that the Romulans are now performing a subtle act of sabotage that will destroy the Enterprise-D the moment it accelerates to warp drive. After discovering and defeating a similarly-cloaked Romulan operative, Ro and La Forge find a way to alert the crew and return to normal, warning Picard and averting disaster.
In the episode "Rascals", Ro, Picard, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien are transformed into adolescent versions of themselves, while retaining their adult intelligence. As children, they foil a Ferengi plot to steal the captured Enterprise and sell the crew as slave labor. During this episode, some of the unpleasant backstory of Ro's original childhood is revealed. The adolescent Ro is portrayed by Megan Parlen.
As Executive Officer, Commander Riker is a strict taskmaster toward the former convict while she struggles to earn his trust and respect. Their mutual animosity is forgotten, however, when they and the entire crew suffer forced amnesia in "Conundrum". Ro concludes the feelings she has toward Riker are those of passion and sexual familiarity, and invites herself to his quarters. "I have this funny feeling that I spend most of my off hours here," Ro explains to Riker before seducing him. When their memories are restored, Counselor Troi explains that the pair likely always had sexual attraction toward each other.
In her final episode, entitled "Preemptive Strike", the newly promoted Lieutenant Ro is asked by Starfleet to infiltrate the rebel Maquis, who are undermining the Federation treaty with Cardassia. During the mission she finds her loyalties in conflict with her duties as she becomes increasingly sympathetic to the plight of the Maquis. Despite Picard's effort to force her to do her duty, in the end, she betrays Starfleet and joins the rebel group. Riker says she seemed pretty sure she was doing the right thing, though she regretted disappointing Picard.
Ro's life after leaving Starfleet for the Maquis is a subject for some novels (which the copyright holder Paramount has treated as non-canonical compared to the series and films although the novels have not been openly contradicted by canon). Within Star Trek canon, the Dominion helps Cardassia exterminate the majority of the Maquis, but Ro's specific fate is unknown.
In many of the Star Trek novels, Ro Laren becomes the chief of security aboard Deep Space Nine (DS9), fulfilling the writers' aforementioned original intention for the character to be involved in the spin-off series. According to the most recent stories, Ro Laren has been promoted to Captain and is now commanding officer of Deep Space Nine. It should be noted, however, that the novels are not considered canonical by Paramount, owners of the Star Trek TV and film franchise.
The character of Ro Laren is further developed in the novels. They agree that Ro continued to fight for the Maquis until its destruction. According to Abyss, during this time she crashed on Sindorin and was rescued by Ingavi colonists.
After the demise of the Maquis the novels diverge. In Behind Enemy Lines, Ro comes to Picard as a refugee on the Bajoran vessel Orb of Peace. However this account, and her relationship with Picard in general, is contradicted in the "relaunch" series. According to Avatar, after the Dominion's destruction of the Maquis, Ro continued to fight in resistance cells until the Dominion's retreat to Cardassia, and had no contact with Picard. The "relaunch" has been the basis for DS9's publishing line as of Avatar in 2001.
After Sisko's disappearance and the end of the Dominion War, Ro returns to Bajor where she is given a commission in the Bajoran Militia and a position in their planetside headquarters. Not finding a place there, she is reassigned to DS9 as Chief of Security. When Bajor finally joins the Federation, Ro intends to leave her post to escape punishment for crimes she committed with the Maquis, but is convinced by Picard to accept a pardon and rejoin Starfleet. She is granted the rank of Lieutenant and remains on DS9 as station's chief of security. She and Quark develop mild romantic feelings for each other.
As of the Typhon Pact series of novels, Ro has been promoted to Captain and serves as the commanding officer of DS9 and its successor station following the first DS9's destruction by the Typhon Pact.