Pavlima sits hunched over a dimly lit desk and revels in her work. She’s surrounded by giant spools of fabric throughout her small workspace. Each spool a different color representing another facet of the organization that contracted her. Adjacent to her desk is a wireframe dressing dummy that she adjusts after measuring her clientele, rusty from decades of use. Wrapped around it are thick swaths of formless yellow fabric. Eventually these will transform into custom-fitted cloaks for the paramilitary security agency that governs the upper district, but not yet, for she is only getting started.
She agonizes over one of the patches that will emblazon its breast and shoulders — a lone wolf standing underneath a starry sky, looking upon a thin crescent moon. A growing pile of the small triangles sit rejected at her boot. To the untrained eye, they each look like perfect replicas of one another, but there is one misplaced stitch in each. Pav is what you’d call a type-A personality, so if her work isn’t exact, she doesn’t use it. This is both the reason her employers hired her, and the reason she drives them crazy. Every single piece is made subtly unique while remaining uniform and is almost impossible to replicate with a sewing machine. So while they keep indoctrinating the youth into their cause, she can’t keep up with their demand, and some of the market streets remain unpatrolled, much to the Wolfpac’s chagrin.
Pav’s fingers are nimble, but they aren’t quick as she loops her needle in and out of the patch with spidersilk thread. Traditional industrial folk music plays out of the speakers mounted in the corners of the room, which is the easiest thing for her to stitch to. It used to play at a deafening volume, but her neighbors have been reporting her to the Wolfpac for noise violations, so she’s toned it down a bit. A stale coffee sits close to her left hand, and she continually reheats the coffee to sip throughout the day. Most visitors scoff at her working conditions, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Something buzzes loudly and she connects two of the stars together with a single stitch. She could tear it out, or hope that no one would notice, but she throws it at the ground in frustration and grabs the communication device from her hip.
“What?” she seethes, curt.
“Kendall is on her way for her uniform fitting,” responds a gruff voice on the other end. Root, her employer. She imagines herself sewing the poisonous thread she uses through his navy blue tentacles, and it relaxes her for a moment.
Pavlima lets out a snarled laugh. “Are you kidding me? I told you she could come next week.”
“There was an incident.” His breath on the other line is heavy, ragged, as if he were wounded. She’s glad. “We need to have 23 new recruits robed up in the next six weeks; we can’t allow you to dawdle, Pav.”
“That’s impossible, Root.”
The signal goes dead, and there’s a knock at the door. She throws her communication device against the wall and it shatters, which pleases her. She answers the incessant pounding and is taken aback by what she sees. For some reason she’d pictured Kendall as a man, but the recruit was anything but. All high cheekbones and rouged lips, accentuated by a tattoo local to one of the under dwelling communities where Pav grew up. Pav lets the fresh-faced girl enter before slamming the door shut behind her.
The recruit takes one look at the monstrosity on the dummy and the stack of patches on the floor and says, “I thought my captain told me to be here now. Should I come back another time?”
Pav chuckles as she sizes the poor thing up — young and fresh faced like Pav was when the Wolfpac snatched her up from her mother’s free clinic in the Eastern Summit. “No, he certainly told you to be here now, so we’ll do our best.”
The recruit nods, “Where should I stand?”
“Where you are is fine, please disrobe.”
The girl’s eyebrows raise, but she obliges. Her body is covered in pockmarks and scars, her wrists burned by the telltale sign of plasma cuffs. Pav has no idea how she’s raised herself this far up the ranks, but she’s intrigued. She rips the misshapen fabric from the dummy and drapes it over the girl's shoulders, but not before studying her nakedness. She grabs a pincushion from her desk and starts pinning the fabric where she’ll need to make adjustments so that it is both form fitting and breathable.
“So what’d they tell you, Kendall?” Pav says to the girl, a pin clenched between her teeth.
“To get you to abandon your family.” Kendall’s shoulders tense up, and Pav smiles, pushing one of her tentacles out of her face.
“Sir, I just came here to get fitted, not talk politics.”
“Oh, I’m not judging you,” the girl yelps as Pav accidentally pricks her with a pin, “Sorry about that. But, I’m not judging you. I certainly didn’t grow up ever seeing the sun.”
Kendall relaxes, but not entirely. “That if I could make a difference in my own life, I could elevate my little brother. Let him live in my apartment.”
Pavlima nods and takes a look at the work she has cut out for herself. Kendall is stunning in the unfinished uniform, and Pav wants to make sure she’ll always look that way. She wants to have a hand in that. “So when will you let me buy you a drink?”
Pav takes notes in her chicken-scratch handwriting marking where she’ll have to alter, and unpins the girl from it. As it falls in a pile at Kendall’s feet, she covers herself and smiles at the seamstress.
“I didn’t need to get undressed.”