Saga - OT Mending Things; or, The Seamstress of Massassi Base (OC, vignette, Secret of the Rune Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Feb 8, 2021.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Mending Things; or, The Seamstress of Massassi Base
    Era: Saga–OT (0 and 3 ABY)
    Characters: Lualani’Draba’Takiil “Lua” (OC), mentions of assorted members of the Rebel Alliance, and an EC narrator whose identity you will probably be able to guess.
    Genre: Vignette, drama, character study
    Summary: A portrait of one of Massassi Base’s more unexpected denizens, through the eyes of one of its best-known denizens.
    Notes: Written in response to the prompt I received in @Mira_Jade ’s awesome Secret of the Rune Challenge:
    This story features two characters, one an OC and one an EC, who are doing their best to persevere after suffering some of the worst distresses imaginable. Once again, I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and helping make this story much better. @};-

    0 ABY

    Things are always astir here at Massassi Base, day and night. Pilots training in simulators, keeping up their skills and aim, while the mechanics keep the real vehicles in tiptop form. Ground troops running obstacle courses through the humid jungle terrain. Lookouts constantly scanning the horizons; officers clustered around the chart readouts making plans. Naturally the medics are always busy.

    And off in one of the small alcoves at the back corner of the Great Temple, at her own table, there is the seamstress.

    I remember noticing her the day I arrived, after Han, Luke, Chewbacca, and I escaped the Death Star. There she was, sitting at a little table in that alcove, guiding a torn uniform jacket carefully through a squat, cylindrical machine. Her hunched posture made me guess she was no longer young. I wasn’t sure of her species at first; she had leathery, green-gray skin and a flat face.

    She was Drabatan, I later learned. The species name was familiar to me from what I had heard of their homeworld (Pipada, if memory serves) being stripped of resources by the Empire, but I had never before met anyone from there. To meet a survivor changes everything: her world, and everything it has lost, has a face now.

    I asked Draven about her. He told me she had arrived not long before I had. Her son had been one of the demolition engineers who went to Scarif—one of the sixteen courageous fighters who gave their lives to win the plans to the Death Star. Draven had been the one to comm her and tell her the sad news. She had been silent with grief a long while, he said—such a long while that he thought the connection had been lost. Then she asked him something he had not expected: if she could come to the base so that she, too, could join her son’s cause and carry on his work in some way, even though he was gone. She said she could mend things.

    Draven could not refuse her, of course. So she has been here since then, at her table in the alcove, mending things. And you would be surprised at how many things that need mending at an installation like this one. Flight suits with all their straps and zippers, uniform jackets and caps with all their buttons and snaps and rank bars, torn equipment tarps, worn-out gloves, socks full of holes.

    She mends them all at her little table in the corner alcove, all alone, all day.

    * * *

    Sometimes I could hear her humming to herself in a quiet, high keen. At least I thought it was her; it always came from that direction. Perhaps it was one of her machines instead?

    In any case, whenever I was in that part of the temple, I would stop for a moment to listen, and maybe even briefly watch. Always briefly, though, as I always had somewhere to be and something to do.

    * * *

    After the battle, just before the medal ceremony, I took my dress to her. It was the white one that used to belong to Amilyn, so naturally it was a little long. I took it out of the bag and held it up to show her.

    I shall never forget what happened next. First she shuddered violently, as if she had just seen something horrible and disturbing. Then she immediately collected herself and said something about how lovely it looked.

    Next, we did a fitting. I stood there wearing it while she moved about (nervously, one might say—faster than I had ever seen her move) making marks on the sleeves and sides and hem in green chalk. All the while she hummed in that quiet, high-pitched keen. (That is how I found out it had been her all along.)

    Later that day, I passed by there again and saw her working on it. She was just about to feed it into the machine, then stopped and looked away. Then she tried again, managed a few stitches—but then stopped again. Then, again, more stitches—and then she stopped her machine. For a few moments she held her head upward with her eyes squeezed tightly shut, then put her head down on the desk and stayed in that position, motionless. I recognized that look, I recognized that gesture—because there are times when the disaster hits me again which bring me very close to doing the same thing myself. (They tend to frown on that sort of thing during staff meetings, however.)

    So, I looked around (to make sure no one was watching, I suppose), then went over to her, sat beside her on her bench, and gently—very gently—put my arm around her. She was shaking slightly: weeping, or whatever her species’s equivalent might be. I said nothing, and she said nothing.

    Then the disaster overcame me again, and I was in tears, too, for all that was destroyed and lost. And we stayed there, grieving together, a long time.

    * * *

    The ceremony went beautifully, and the dress fit beautifully—as if it had been made for me first. Amilyn herself complimented me on it. But it was the seamstress who really deserved the compliment.

    From the dais, I scanned the crowd for her. She was there, toward the back corner, applauding with her hands held high and her face aglow with a broad smile. I did not see her at the celebration afterward.

    Some time later, I heard (once again, from Draven) that Drabatans never wear white clothing. They use white only for graveclothes.

    * * *

    3 ABY

    Things are always astir here at Echo Base, day and night. The pilots and ground troops still keep hard at work on their training, the mechanics on their repairs, the lookouts on their scanning of the horizon (the bleak, cold, white horizon). We officers still huddle around the chart readouts, making plans. Naturally the medics are still always busy.

    And off in one of the small alcoves at the back corner of the main hangar, the Drabatan seamstress still sits there, mending things.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    This was beautifully poignant as the two of them share grief and consolation. Mending things literally is such a tangible way to feel like you're making a difference in a bigger cause. [face_thinking]

    Interesting that in one culture, white is seen as a lovely pure color and in another (as was the case in RL in centuries past), it represents mourning and sorrow.
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    How lovely to see Lua again! I enjoyed her character so much in your previous stories about the ladies of the Rose Evergreen. There she was always the stalwart, motherly presence among the more mystical and adventurous women, but here we get to see another aspect of her through Leia's eyes. Lua seems so small and alone in her tiny corner of the great Massassi temple, working away at her sewing machine. It may seem like a small and insignificant way for her to carry on Pao's legacy, but it is important in it's own way--as Leia notes, there's no shortage of things that need to be mended. And if fixing a ripped flight suit isn't blowing up the Death Star...well, it makes a pilot more comfortable, so they can concentrate on flying and protect their wing man who can fire the get the idea... It is as, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha notes, a very tangible and practical way for Lua to put her gifts to work. And sometimes having that kind of practical, tangible work to do is good way of holding one's grief at bay.

    But then when Lua is asked to alter the white gown for the medal ceremony, the color of the gown and its funereal association brings that grief back in an overwhelming way. She's overcome with it, and when Leia tries to comfort her, she is overcome with her own grief. They're both in the same situation, really--they've lost their loved ones and been denied any of the customs and ceremonies that would normally be a part of the healing process, not even a burial. They share a moment of grief that is beyond the need for words, a moment that mends some of their respective grief--not completely, but a corner, a start.

    And both of them are able to "keep on keeping on" , Leia with her meetings and plans, and Lua, still in her tiny corner of the base, mending things and doing what is necessary to make life a little easier for others.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely vignette. I always enjoy seeing Lua and I know we'll see her again under happier circumstances someday [face_love]
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both so much for reading and commenting! :)
    Exactly--not only does it use Lua's abilities and talents, but I thought that would be a perfect way for her to both cope with her grief and help further the cause for which her son gave his life.

    Yes, I seem to remember that being true even here in RL! The white dress that beautiful Leia gets to wear at a celebratory ceremony is, to Lua, a reminder that her son never even got the honor of a white burial garment. =((

    Right on, to all of this! It was fun to return to Lua and write a story centering on her--the "quiet" member of the Rose Evergreen crew, but still so integral. I knew this was where I planned for her to go, and what I planned for her to do, after Pao's death, and had just been waiting for the right opportunity, which I realized was the Rune Poem prompt I already had on hand. And I absolutely agree that those "little" jobs are just as important to the cause as any of the bigger, flashier ones we see on screen. Leia and the Alliance are grateful for all the help they can get, even in the small ways!

    Yep--again, it's a reminder that her son never got his own white garment. Leia doesn't realize at first that that was what it was about, but she does recognize those gestures of grief while watching Lua work on it, and she can tell that it's affecting her in a way that she herself (Leia) sometimes gets affected. And from that, in turn, she sees the common ground in grief that she and Lua share, which allows them to have that moment together--which is indeed a start, and an important one. Which is valuable in itself, of course, but then later on Draven's piece of information about Drabatan burial customs allows Leia to put it all together in a new way.

    Exactly, and that's precisely what I think my Rune Poem verse is getting at by saying that trouble can be "a source of help and salvation," if one lets it. Both ladies are carrying on in different ways, but they are both an equally integral part of the cause they're working for. (Or at least say I, as an OC enthusiast! :D )

    You are so welcome, and thank you so much once again for being here to support these characters of mine! Lua certainly will be back. :)
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    THIS. =D=

    What a powerful, poignant glimpse of loss, grief, and healing! You managed to say so much with just a few, carefully selected words. The emotion of this vignette hit like a freight train! What a beautiful choice to have Leia as the 'outside observer' narrating and reflecting on Lua. They truly are kindred spirits, and the few moments where they can just acknowledge each other and exist as themselves were touchingly portrayed.

    The last line of that quote, in particular, hit so hard.

    Oh, dear Lua. =(( Of course she would honor Pao that way and help carry on his cause in any way she can. She can help mend things, in more way than one. (That said, I am curious as to whether or not the other ladies of the Rose Evergreen are about, and what their further roles in the OT just may be. [face_thinking])

    I loved the touch of the dress from the medal ceremony originally belonging to Amilyn. All that Leia has left of Alderaan is, quite literally, the clothes on her back.

    I appreciated so much about this scene, in particular. Leia is always so strong for so many, oftentimes at the cost of her own needs and feelings. She buries her own grief and focuses on others; she processes her own grief by turning her mourning into motivation and action, even.

    But here she has Lua, who knows her grief on an intimate level. There's no hiding from or repressing those feelings here. There's just sharing them.


    A beautiful, haunting end to a beautiful, haunting story. =D=

    Thank-you so much for sharing this heartfelt response to the Secret of the Rune challenge! This is definitely a story that is going to stay with me for quite some time to come. [face_love] =D=
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you so much! Really appreciate your coming by to read and comment, as always--always great to see you back again! :)

    Thank you! Leia just seemed like the perfect counterpart, having also suffered such a huge, devastating loss. She is perhaps dealing with that loss in a completely different wan than Lua is, but I felt that might make for an even more impactful moment of commonality between the two.

    In Leia's position as a leader of the Alliance, I imagine she hears many stories of peoples and planets that have suffered losses at the hands of the Empire, but the true, full impact of those losses isn't something one can necessarily know unless one meets someone who has experienced it (or experiences it oneself, or both, in Leia's case). It really does change everything!

    Exactly her thinking, too. @};- And yes, the other ladies are around, at least now and then--I may write some more about that.

    It's true! Clothes say a lot and tell their own stories, often. The whole thing of Leia having access to a formal dress at a military base after a daring, seat-of-the-pants escape from Imperial captivity is something I've often wondered about, and the advent of Amilyn did seem to provide a plausible explanation! :D

    Exactly--very good way of summing it up, because that is how it's always seemed to me too. And to say it's hard on her is a mega-understatement (and she, or at least as I've written her here, kind of knows that).

    Yes, it's a different way of dealing with her feelings than she perhaps is used to at this point. But maybe one she needs. (In a good way!)

    Yep. Leia saw a pretty dress, Lua saw a shroud. Perhaps even the shroud her son never got. =((

    Thank-you so much for sharing this heartfelt response to the Secret of the Rune challenge! This is definitely a story that is going to stay with me for quite some time to come. [face_love] =D=[/QUOTE]

    Thank you so much, and you are very welcome! I'm so glad I was able contribute to such a cool and creative challenge. :cool: Even though I know it took me a while, I really I loved the "naudiz" prompt and found it the perfect opportunity to delve more into Lua's character. So, many thanks yet again for your role in the genesis of this story! [:D]