Before the dying of the light of day, I stand atop an icy outcrop of ice. The winds of Andor howl around me. My silhouetted figure works the forms of the twin bladed calaan-tor. The moves are crisp and sharp, yet flow effortlessly from one form to another with an almost balletic quality to them.
The ice turns with the dying light from vibrant luminous whites and blues, to darkening shades of grey and muted dull whites. Even then, there is beauty as the spectrum of colours that plays across the ice shelves falls away, one last rainbow, one last iridescent display. Yet I am unmoved by the startling beauty. I am focused. Intent only on my forms, on the slash of twin metal curved blades as they scythe through the air.
By the dying light, torch ensconces light create pools of cool white light in the falling twilight. Atop this outcrop of iced glacier cliff my solitary figure dances this fight, circular blades flashing in the rise of the moon. I whirl and pivot, high and low, fast and slow, with graceful deathly beauty, cutting, slicing, and slashing the frigid night air.
Andor is of ice.
My blades are of ice.
I am of ice.
The winds sing, howl and sigh.
My blades sigh and scream.
I am silent.
My screams and sighs are all within.
My screams rang out aloud too many times in that foul place. Before I learned to bite them down. To seek and embrace the ice, the cold, the silence.
Andor is of ice. Silent. Harsh. Uncompromising. Lasting.
By the dying light of day, I work the forms and battle my demons silently. I work the forms and fight my memories. I work the forms and vanquish the lasting pains.
By the dying light, I peer through a barred window, my prison cell falls into darkness as the last raft of light of day pitifully falters and beckons another long night.
It has been another long day.
In the cell next to me, I hear a soul lament, a lament I share silently chained and shackled here, pulling against my bounds, straining and stretching to catch the last glimpse of daylight. There is no reason why I should strain and rub raw the sores at my chained wrists. Save that it is a small act of defiance.
And all such acts here are colossal.
The planet is not ever officially recognised. By Starfleet it is consigned an alpha numeric number, a number that changed classification after we returned from it. In Cardassian records, there was never any mention of it officially. It did not exist. The people who were interned there, did not exist, never existed, and certainly the intention was that their existence would come to an end upon their arrival.
The planet needed no name. Its nature birthed it a name of its own. We gave voice to that name. That name was: hell.
It is fitting that the planet had no name. For we who entered there, were also given no name. Simply a number. A simple act of stripping away our self-identity and self-worth. If we are viewed only as a number, we are but a spare part waiting to be replaced with a simple invoice order. We are not a life to be fretted over, a love cherished, a citizen valued. Just a number.
By the dying light, I make out the brutish playing fields, the sports arena, the battle fields, where the Cardassian soldiers train in perverse cowardly war games, pitting their prisoners against insurmountable tasks and deadly odds, all stacked of course in the favour of the mighty Cardassian Union soldiers.
Perhaps these war games, these trials of torture and violence, were once modes of training, of gaining insight into the tactics, mindsets and psychologies of Cardassia's ‘enemies'. However, they no longer act in this guise. Now they are but crude attempts to kill us off. Not exactly sporting, merely sport to the Cardassian soldiers who partake in these twisted games.
Again, we use the opportunities as defiance. They stack the odds against us. They provide us ineffective weapons, if any at all. They outnumber us. They have technological advantages - scanners, weapons, drones - all at their disposal. Sometimes we resort to stones, clubs and booby trapped masonry. We are picked off, one by one. But we pick them off, perhaps with less success, but nevertheless one by one the Cardassian soldiers fall. One by one. Until they all will fall. One by one.
A small act of defiance is but the beginning of our defiance.
We have no faces either. Nothing seems to define us as individuals. He might be a Tellarite, and he a Klingon. She a human and her a Bolian. But we no longer wear our faces. We are molded by our experiences - no not molded - we are scrubbed, scoured, worn away, by our experiences.
The faces are blank and neutral. Expressions are not to be found, even if we could comprehend the feelings we should express and feel in this moment, we cannot wear them on our gaunt, hollowed faces. Bones protrude the thin flesh of our faces, making them appear sharp and oddly misshapen.
Our eyes are blank, yet overly large, on some faces the eyes have sunk into the sockets, disappearing from the cruel world they witnessed. Other eyes ... other eyes, the faces look as though they have fallen away from the large orbs, they stand out, in abject horror, in abject fear, in abject misery, in abject disbelief that this came to pass.
A small act of defiance is but the beginning of our defiance. My eyes screamed bloody murder and defiance at my Cardassian captors. They saw the killer instinct in my haunted eyes.
It is why I languish here. I am deemed too successful. My tactics, courage and tenacity at beating the odds and besting their tests, enrage them. Yet, with a stupid sense of pride and anger, they allow me to live. They hope to see me broken; to see me fail. To have me die in one of their sick battle games so that they can claim defeat, can claim superiority.
I do not grant them their wish. I do not - will not - die quietly. I do not - will not - die broken and defeated. I do not - will not - allow them to hear me scream again. All acts of defiance on my part once again. All small acts; but all are colossal.
Once we escaped the planet's clutches, we survivors are initially hesitant to speak our names, to speak of it. Of that place. Of that hell.
It beholds a horror completely incomprehensible and we are the few who lived through it and survived it. How does one explain the living torment of a hell? No one outside our own skulls can truly understand the lives we live - be they mundane, extraordinary or torturous.
No one appreciates truly why we recoil at the open arms of welcome home and bidding us safe returns. We have been tricked before. The war games pale in comparison to the mind games. Sick fucks with our minds.
They make us see traitors among our own. They make us dispense justice on our own numbers. They make us fight and kill. They make us animals. They make us into killers.
They in turn toss me in here, lock me away in my cell for days and weeks at a time, to learn my lesson, to learn my place, to see my spirit crushed, to make me suffer in isolation, to make me the scrutiny of their prying eyes, to make me the experiment subject of the Doctor's experiments.
My body shudders and spasms beyond my control. He has subjected me to disruptive energies, has sought to map my Andorian/Aenar physiology. He professes it is in the name of science. The only science he seeks to truly master is the science of creating pain.
The experiments render me unconscious. Render me speechless. Render me incapacitated for days at a time, flinching, thrashing and roiling as pains stab my nervous system. Days at a time where I am chained up here in my shackles and face the stark walls of my prison cell and can but crane to peer put a narrow barred window with naught but a desolate view.
They never realised that they honed and crafted my craft of murder and revenge. Under their tutelage, I learned to kill. I learned to find the vulnerabilities in my enemies and in my allies. That I sought out any weakness as a point to be exploited. Any weaknesses I found in myself, I trained and stomped out.
I work the forms. I work out the pains. I work out the memories.
I am of Andor.
I am of ice.
I am of the blade.
Sharp. Deadly. Unforgiving.
By dying light, I look through the narrow barred window of my prison cell. Through the narrow barred window to the stars above however I seek and aspire and plan my - our - escape, for these prison bars and brutal guards will not keep. By the dying light, the stars come out and the setting sun falls upon pitted pocketed earth, trenches of excavated dirt, filled with a mucky mire and the rotted, bloated corpses of friends and comrades and strangers.
By the dying light I look over the field of dead. Broken, mangled, distorted bodies and limbs discarded and casually tossed into these pits. Not even disposed of with any dignity or care, not even the throwing of some dirt over them. No such dignifies treatment is reserved only for our masters and their revered place in death. By small act of defiance, we send their soldiers to their deaths, one by one.
I am forged of ice. I am forged of pain. I am forged of blood and fire.
I am haunted not by the memories of the blood I spilled. The throats garrotted. The heads smashed. The eyes gouged. The necks snapped.
I swore my revenge.
By the stars and by the memories of those we did not save, I swore my revenge.
By the dying light of day, I look out through the narrow barred window. The light falls on the trenches of these death pits casting stark shadows, residence of gathering mists and fogs, spectres that roam in the night. By dying light of the day, I see their ghosts arise in my eye and I know that I will see my revenge come true.
By the dying light of day, I make my promise anew. They will suffer and fall, one by one, all.
By the dying light of day, I look through the narrow barred window, across the field of open unmarked graves and see the path to our escape and my bloody revenge.
I am of Andor.
I am of ice.
I am forged in blood.
I am forged in fire.
I am forged in ice.
I am a killer.
I had my revenge.
I am a survivor.
I am captain of the Aegolius Harrier.
I am Cyste Ryaenn.