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Saga - OT To Have Survived (Leia post-Alderaan; introspection; Underrepresented mod!challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , May 31, 2018.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: To Have Survived
    Era: Saga—OT, 0 BBY (during ANH)
    Characters: Leia and other ECs
    Genre: Vignette: angst, introspection
    Summary: Leia’s thoughts and experiences directly after she witnesses the destruction of her homeworld.
    Notes: A contribution to the Representing the Underrepresented mod!challenge, inspired by points brought up in these posts by Sith-I-5 and Raissa Baiard. They made the observation that one of the most underrepresented aspects of Leia’s character is the grief she undoubtedly feels after the destruction of her homeworld—yet is almost nowhere portrayed in the established lore. I absolutely agree, and a drabble I wrote for UDC VIII (“Helpless” in this post) touches on this, so I thought I’d expand on it here. Thanks to @Raissa Baiard and @Ewok Poet for beta-reading and feedback. @};-

    * * *​

    0 BBY, Death Star detention block

    Had it really happened?

    She finally dared to look up. Yes, it had: out the command center viewport, where the majestic blue-swirled world had once serenely floated, there was now nothing but darkness and chunks of cold rock. The Sith Lord loosened his grip on her shoulder and gestured to the troopers. They came and led her, like a shaak calf to the slaughter, back to her detention block cell.

    She may have screamed, she may have shed tears, she may simply have been frozen in silence—or all those things. She didn’t know for sure, because she was in too much shock.

    Back in the cell, it was dark. Cold and dark. Cold, empty, and dark. Yes, there was a single tubelight mounted on the wall, but it too was dark. Everything was gone: father, mother, home, friends. How could even light remain?

    Then she saw them.

    Four of them, each in a corner (for some reason the cell suddenly seemed much larger), each looking at her. The first was a hulking, muscular, purple-furred alien with catlike pointed ears and an ancient-styled double-barreled rifle slung on his back. Opposite him stood a gaunt, dark brown, long-snouted insectoid alien cradling something spherical in his arms. Third was a young Human man, unshaven and with timid, darting dark eyes, wearing the flightsuit of an Imperial cargo pilot. And in the remaining corner stood a young, dark-haired Human woman in a technician’s jumpsuit.

    Leia looked from one to the other. The purple hulk, if she recalled aright, was the Lasat from General Syndulla’s crew. The insectoid was no doubt a Geonosian; she had heard from her father about what the Empire had done on that world. The timid-eyed pilot: hadn’t he been part of that Rogue Something expedition that had first recovered the blueprints of this accursed engine of death? The jumpsuited woman was no one she knew. And yet—

    As she looked around at those four pairs of eyes—orblike brown, fiery green, nervous dark, determined dark—she did know something, somehow: all four of them had lost all that she had lost. Kindred, friends, home, perhaps more—certainly more.

    Then they spoke. The Lasat began, in a husky, accented bass-baritone. “Don’t forget. The friends who fight with you? They’re your family, too.”

    Next was the Geonosian, in the clattering, chitinous chatter of his native tongue. But Leia understood all the same: [We’ve all got a treasure to guard. Guard yours carefully, because it’s yours and no one else’s.]

    The pilot’s voice was shaky but gentle. “It’s all right to be afraid,” he said. “Just know it when you feel it, and make the jump anyway. That’s what courage is.”

    Finally the technician stepped forward, raising her hand in a resolute fist. “We can do it,” she said—and then extended that hand to Leia. “You can do it.”

    Without knowing why, Leia found herself reaching out to the other woman’s hand, taking it, shaking it. As she did, light—golden and warm, not from the tubelight—filled the cell, and she saw beings standing all around. There were two gray-skinned, brow-ridged Khommites; a beaked, gentle-faced Caamasi leading several others of his species; proud, brindled Wookiee warriors; Humans of all descriptions, some she knew (there was Winter! And was that Tycho?). And so many countless others…

    And every eye was bright: many with tears, but also with empathy, with encouragement, with hope.

    Yes, these were all those who had lost all: kindred, friends, and home. So, now—Leia wondered, as she stood there, a princess clasping a worker’s hand—were these now her kindred and friends? Was here, in the midst of their luminous, circling throng, now home?

    It was then that sobs rose in her throat, and she began to weep: like a newborn infant, a lost child, an abandoned bride. And then IT-O’s needle pierced her arm. ¶

    The title comes from the opening words of Anthony Hecht’s lengthy poem “Words for the Day of Atonement” (1967), whose first stanza reads as follows:

    The four characters in Leia’s vision are, respectively, Zeb Orrelios, Klik-Klak, Bodhi Rook, and Rose Tico, all of whom have had their homes destroyed by the Empire in some form (or by the First Order, in Rose’s case). The crowd of beings at the end includes references to other characters from destroyed or ravaged worlds as well: Dorsk 81 and Dorsk 82 (the Khommites), Elegos A’kla and other Caamasi, and the many Wookiees enslaved by the Empire; here I’m thankful to the suggestions of @Kahara and @Mistress_Renata. Yes, I’ve mixed Legends and Canon continuities here, and timeframes, too; please don’t judge. :p

    “We can do it”: This and Rose’s gesture are of course references to this famous World War II-era poster, now that the GFFA has a “Rosie the Riveter” of its own. ;)
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  2. brodiew

    brodiew Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Oct 11, 2005
    Nicely done, @Findswoman! This fic gained steam for me as it progressed and I was not phased by the blending of eras or canons. It is entirely believable that the Force would grant Leia such a vision in the hour of her greatest desperation.

    Love the 'accursed engine of death'! nice imagery.

    Leia is certainly not short of courage, but in this moment it is exactly what is needed. It is also nice to see Leia weep 'like a newborn infant'. There are few instances, on film where Leia shows true vulnerability. Again, well done.
    TheRynJedi, Ewok Poet, Kahara and 3 others like this.
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Nov 22, 1999
    =D= Oh, this is a lovely, haunting little story about Leia in the moments after she witnesses the destruction of Alderaan. I think you've done a marvelous job of capturing the way Leia must have felt, first the surreal feeling that follows any devastating loss--did it really happen?--and as losses go, this is as big as they come, her whole planet wiped out before her very eyes. Small wonder that she can't even process her own reaction (and I've had that same experience in moments of shock and/or pain). Then, when the reality hits her, everything in the world seems bleak and bare, like there's no possibility of hope or goodness remaining:
    This is just a perfect summary of grief and depression.

    And then, when it seems there's nothing left for her, the vision! Each of these characters has experienced what Leia's going through, and each of them has their own words of encouragement, from the lesson that have seen them through their own grief. Zeb (and I knew our favorite purple lug would be here :zeb:[face_love]) reminds her that even if her family is gone, there are those who will care for and support her like a family. Klik-klak tells her to hold tight to what she values, to protect it as he protects his precious egg. Bodhi, who overcame his own fear, reminds her that courage isn't the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of that fear. And Rose's simple words of encouragement are all about taking action, much the way she did when she joined the Resistance. And these four aren't alone--they're part of a much bigger throng who've all suffered crushing losses at the hands of the Empire (or First Order, which is really just the Empire, Redux).
    I love, love, love that you mentioned hope, which is of course what Leia says when she's handed the Death Star plans, but more than that, it's such an overarching theme of the Star Wars saga. [face_love] And, yes, these are Leia's family in a very real way, the ones who understand her grief, the ones who will fight by her side, who support her, and among them is her home, because home is where your family is and where you are loved. Among her new family, Leia can finally let go and express her grief, and the hopelessness she feels at that moment, knowing there is still love and light and, yes, hope for her.

    A touching exploration of Leia's grief--she has more than just survived; she will triumph.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    SUPERBLY poignant response to this challenge! @};- [:D]
  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Somehow I was reminded of a song I once heard when watching the movie "Hook". In that song there was the following verse:

    Isn't that a wonder?
    When you're alone
    You're not alone
    Not really alone

    Leia´s vision proves the Force is with Leia, always. Even in her most desperate hour.
  6. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    I like the idea of Leia seeing people through the Force and finding comfort in their words to her and help her gain strength to push onward. :)
  7. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    This feels very much like something that could have been there between the scenes, and (as said in that discussion you mention), Leia barely gets to show her grief over Alderaan in the films. The description of how she doesn't really remember her reaction as she was led to the cell feels really spot-on to how a massive, unexpected loss like that hits a person. And her taking these visions of mysterious people in the cell for granted -- not even asking what's going on here -- feels completely in key with her shaken emotional state.

    I really love the words of encouragement that each of her four main visitors had to share, and that they come from different times (and quite possibly different timelines) but all have some connection to the loss that Leia is going through.

    The rebirth metaphor was a surprise and one that really works for me, since there is both pain and the continuation of life here. Her visitors are giving her a sense of not being alone in this, which gives her kind of a freedom to feel her grief more fully. But of course that openness breaks through barriers and makes the pain stronger, at least temporarily. I don't doubt she'll find more comfort in this strange experience in the long run, but that reaction feels very "right" to me.
  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, this is just lovely! =D=

    I don't think I need to express my own opinion on how poorly Leia's grief is treated in the established lore - that's what we have fan fiction for, to fill in those missing pieces. Especially with gems like this one!

    On top of Leia's grief being glossed over all too often, I think that, at times, it's also easy to forget that she too is the child of the Chosen One. The Force is incredibly strong with her, so it would only make sense for a vision like this to occur. This was such a perfect moment for the Force to sweep in and offer her the succor and encouragement she needs to get up and keep on fighting. It was an incredibly spiritual moment, and one that I have now officially head-cannoned as a missing scene. Just:

    Sadly, with the forces for evil in the galaxy, there are too many who have lost so much. She's in good company with those who know exactly how she feels, each in their own way. Their empathy and shared grief doesn't take her pain away, not by any means, but it most certainly offers her a life-raft to hang onto when she feels like she is drowning.

    I love your selection of characters, too - how you went across eras and canons, just as I suspect the Force would have no boundaries in doing. I grinned such a stupid grin to see Dorsk 81 mentioned - he was one of my favourites of Luke's students, and his own sacrifice was always a gut-punch that stayed with me. Eventually, coming full circle, Leia's carrying on the fight and honoring her losses here will open the way for he and others to have their own chance to shine in the future. Brilliantly done! =D=

    This was brief, but so incredibly moving and beautifully done! Thank-you for participating in the challenge, and sharing this your work with us. [face_love][:D]
  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for such wonderful comments and insights! :)

    Oh thank you, Brodie, and it's great to have you here! I'm glad you enjoyed this and that the blending of canons and eras worked for you. Leia is indeed depicted throughout the Saga in an "all Strong Rebel Princess, all the time" sort of way that doesn't allow her many opportunities for showing emotional vulnerability (though maybe her romance with Han is a bit of an exception, maybe?), and I thought she deserved a moment where her emotions were all her own, if that makes sense. As well as some reassurance that the Force is with her, too, because it is strong with her, too. Thanks again for reading and commenting! :)

    Raissa, thank you so much; I really appreciate all this coming from you! [face_love] I'm so glad to hear that this depiction of Leia's grief and depression was effective for you; these kinds of situations and emotions always feel so hard to get right in the course of writing. Even in our own nonintergalactic world, traumatic occurrences have a way of taking away our ability to process them and of making even our basic memories of what happened uncertain; how much more would that be so with an event on this immense scale. I couldn't think of a better answer to grief this size than the comfort of the Force itself, in the form of a vision of others who had suffered the same. And yes, of course I knew from the start that that Certain Big Purple Lug would be one of them! :zeb: [face_love] I think he and Bodhi were the first two who came to mind as I was first contemplating this, and then I did a bit of research to come up with the others. I really enjoyed coming up with each character's words of encouragement based on their own experiences; it was a chance to learn something new about each of them, and to meet some characters who were new to me and who yet also belonged to this same community of survivors. Among them Leia will indeed find her new home and, yes, her new hope—a concept which I just couldn't not bring in, given that it is Leia's trademark and watchword. (And indeed of the whole Saga, as you rightly say.) Again, so many thanks for your feedback, insight, and encouragement, which make this whole writing thing more than worthwhile. @};-

    Thank you so much, Ny! Always a pleasure to have you here, and I'm so glad this struck a chord with you. @};-

    Thank you, Azure! Yes, that song really does sum up Leia's realization here: for a moment there Leia probably felt completely alone in an "only one left" sort of way, but now thanks to the Force she sees she really is part of a community of those who have had similar losses, so she indeed is not really alone. It's maybe one of the best gifts the Force could possibly give her at a desperate time like this—and, once again, it stands to reason that the Force itself would be there for her in this tragic time. Thanks again for reading and commenting! @};-

    Thanks so much, Misty, and thanks for reading and commenting! Again, it just felt right to have the Force itself take a moment to comfort her and show her that she's not alone—as well as let her grief be her own. @};-

    Thank you so much, Kahara, and it is wonderful to see you here, as always! Again, such a traumatic experience is bound to put a person in the position of (a) not being able to quite remember what happened and (b) not even really being able to react it much; all she really can do in the state she's in is let the vision happen, see it and listen to it. As she does, she does indeed gain that invaluable realization that she is not alone, that she is part of a sort of community now—which does indeed lead to the catharsis of her tears; after all, it's still an early stage in her grief, and there will be more consolation and insights (and victories) to come. I'm glad you felt that transition worked well; as I was writing that part I wondered if I was trying to shoehorn too much in from my "Helpless" drabble there. So many thanks once again! @};-

    Oh, Mira! Thank you so much, and I really appreciate your coming by to read and comment. I'm right there with you about Leia's strength in the Force, which is a real strength of hers (albeit different from her brother's) and which is also too little represented in the films, and it's an incredible honor to me that you consider this little scene of mine headcanon—thank you for that. [face_love] Leia's got the best life raft she ever could hope for in the caring light of all those very different eyes surrounding her, even if the full healing from such a huge grief is going to take lots of time. And of course the Force would know no boundaries of time or space in crafting this vision for Leia, and I got to learn some new things about characters along the way—about Dorsk 81, for example, whom Kahara suggested, and he really seemed like the perfect complement to the canon characters of the various eras. Really, all these compliments mean so much coming from you; I'm so glad this story resonated with you, and it was a real pleasure to have been able to be part of this challenge. Thank you all for making that happen! =D= @};-
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Now I am totally relieved. I thought that I had been so utterly busy with my own stuff & life that I had overlooked your contribution for the Mod! challenge. This would have been inexcusable. Now I can happily move along.

    And I hope that you get much more readers. Not only the actual fic is exciting. Your answers to your keen readers also awe me. Then I wish my English was better and my silly head more witty.
  11. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    This is a brutally beautiful portrait of the rawness of new grief. There is still this sense of disbelief:
    the idea that this is a terrible mistake, that this is too horrible to be true. And yet, the emptiness and the evidence of her own eyes tells her that the impossible has come to pass. Not only have her family and friends died, but her whole world has been annihilated: the art, the history, the culture, the hidden treasures, the magnificent vistas -- all gone in a heartbeat. It's more than she can bear.
    And in that neediest hour, when she feels most keenly the loss and the rending from all that was familiar to her, she has the Force. She is granted a vision that takes from the past, the present and the future and gives her if not comfort, at least the understanding that she is not alone. She has become a member of a society of survivors, the last of their kind.
    The things that define Leia-- hope, duty, and grief -- come together in that moment. I love that ending line:
    She is a newborn infant, helpless and adrift without the security of her home to depend upon; she is a lost child, never to find her parents again; she is an abandoned bride, the promise of her future torn away from her. When the torture droid pierces her arm, she is already sobbing. The pain is already there. The droid can't hurt her more than she has been hurt already.
    There is nothing left for her to lose except the rebellion. She will hold onto that with every fiber in her soul now.
  12. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    Very good piece. The emotional fallout that we should have seen more off from official sources.

    Interesting idea to use personnel from other SW media across the ages, as filler, and I suppose that it could be argued that an event this traumatic, could have opened up something in the Force, to allow young Organa to experience something like this.

    Good job.
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for the continued comments, which I don't want to forget to acknowledge! @};-

    No worries at all, Azure; I was very glad to have your comment, and I'm glad you're enjoying the Underrepresented challenge! I enjoyed your contributions to it very much, too.

    And I hope that you get much more readers. Not only the actual fic is exciting. Your answers to your keen readers also awe me. Then I wish my English was better and my silly head more witty.[/QUOTE]

    Well, thanks so much, I appreciate that. Each comment means a lot to me, so I want to do my best to acknowledge each of them—seems only fair. :)

    Thanks so much, divapilot, and it's wonderful to have you here—always love seeing your insights and thoughts on stories. @};- Yes, this is one of the most absolutely brutal, horrific cases of "whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth" that anyone can imagine. Everything, and I mean everything, really and truly is all gone for Leia in this moment, and it's more than anyone can bear. :( (And the fact that the Empire has made the unbearable possible in that way really speaks volumes about them, too.)

    That's right—the Force shows her that she has now become part of a new family or community of sorts, thus giving her what we might regard as the first step toward carrying on.

    Exactly. @};- That feeling of no longer being alone is what finally allows for the catharsis of breaking down in tears. It makes the grief more real, in a way, by allowing it to finally to have expression—if that makes some kind of sense. And you're right, anything else done by IT-O or Vader or any of them at this point is mere "gravy." She's already experienced the ultimate loss, the ultimate pain.

    Oh, she will, we know she will and does like no one else can! And maybe, just maybe this huge loss is what allows her to be able to do that as steadfastly as she does. :leia: Thank you once again for reading and for a wonderful comment! [:D]

    Thank you so much, I-5; I appreciate that, and I want to thank you for your role in inspiring this story by bringing up the question of Leia and her grief in the challenge thread in the first place. @};- I agree about the working of the Force here: the sheer magnitude of the destruction, and of the grief it engenders in Leia, couldn't not have set the Force in motion somehow, especially for someone as strong in it as she is.

    Thanks again to you all! =D=