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The Dying of the Light

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“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

There is a memory I hold to with such ferocity, Daddy swears I could strangle the gods themselves in my grip. “I have no gods,” I say, and he mutters prayers under his breath as he walks away. He only wants to keep me safe, and I can’t blame him for being afraid.

Here, everybody is afraid.

The memory, Daddy insists, is nothing but a fabrication of my mind—a fantasy to combat the barbaric brainwashing techniques used on me. This is what the doctors tell him, and he never questions their diagnosis.

They believe I’m crazy.

For months after I woke up here, no one would tell me what happened. They said it was to protect me from being re-traumatized, but I know better. Truth is so often concealed in silence and fear.

Yet, truth has a way of coming out... and so it did.

They say Eline and I lived in the city. One night, peace officers came into our house, dragged us from our bed, beat us nearly to death, and black-bagged us for crimes against the state. Eline was taken to prison for propagating forbidden research. I was taken to a government re-education center, and I became a test subject for mental reprogramming techniques.

Having lived my whole life in the same village as Eline, the only way to purge every memory of him was to erase my identity and replace it with a new one. Somehow, I resisted the process. Although I have lost—perhaps forever—any memory of the man who was my husband, I did not latch onto the identity they attempted to thrust upon me. Instead, I escaped into a fantasy fit for novelization; I became Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Since then, I have spent the past five years with my eye at the lens of a telescope looking for any indication of where I am or what happened to my ship and her crew.

Regrettably, I have no answers.

I can still remember Kathryn’s life like it was my own, but I must admit that I wonder if she was ever real. After five years of being Kamin—living in the house where I grew up, seeing the clear grey eyes of my father who loves me, and connecting with people who know me better than I know myself—I have finally begun to think that this might be my real life. Perhaps the people here are right; perhaps I did lose my mind when I lost the man I loved.

It’s not as if this is the first time I recall meandering through the black night of grief. Despair is a starless sky that Kathryn Janeway fell into many times over the years. After a while, she came to need it like she needed air to breathe.

Piece by piece, she allowed her soul to fade into that dark night.

A Starfleet brat and the oldest of two girls, she learned early how to bury the gnawing melancholy that comes with being separated from a loved one. Early in her own Starfleet career, she became the only survivor of a tragic shuttle accident in which she lost both her fiancée and her father. Years later, after stranding her crew seventy thousand light-years from home, night became a blanket that Kathryn pulled tighter around her own shoulders with each passing month. It kept her warm in a macabre sort of way.

It kept her safely alone.

To be honest, it is something of a relief to accept the narrative I have since been given. Here on Kataan, in a moderately-sized village tucked in the center of the Ressikan mountains, I am far less burdened as Kamin than I ever was as Kathryn. The politics plaguing the Central Cities—the very politics that cost Eline his freedom and overwhelmed my psyche—are hardly felt here. It isn’t perfect, but it is certainly more peaceful than the lonely life I had been condemned to when I was lost in hostile space.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. Sometimes, I almost believe it.

Yet that last memory of Kathryn’s is one I still cling to like a plank in the sea. It is grey as the features of Voyager’s bridge, two command chairs sitting side-by-side in her midst. It is red as my favorite shade of lipstick and the matching stripe of my Starfleet uniform. It is russet brown, deep and dark in my first officer’s eyes when he settles that disarming gaze upon me.

It is the steel and bronze hues of an oddly-shaped probe we paused to investigate just before my life as Kathryn Janeway came, abruptly, to an end.