Author: Katkiller-V PM
As anger and fear continue to reign, both species struggle to find a way to cease the battles that rage upon Pandora, for both know that the next war, could be the final war.. Chapter 31: Void's Truth, is now up!Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Jake S. & Parker S. - Chapters: 36 - Words: 181,129 - Reviews: 453 - Favs: 193 - Follows: 185 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 12-01-10 - id: 6522145
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There is a disclaimer here.
A note to new readers, this story is a sequel to Semper Victoria, I highly recommenced reading that story first.
Special Thanks to Khaos974 for recommending this story on TvTropes!
Prologue: What the Future Holds
Date: August 27th, 2174
Location: High Orbit, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
Three massive interstellar ships hung, apparently motionless, in orbit above the small blue and green orb. Only one would ever be leaving the system again.
Maria Thomes stood lightly in the low gravity, gazing levelly at the icons marking the Explorer's Hope and Wings of Hermes. Both ships, like her own Explorer's Dream, were quantified relics. Over four kilometers long, the elderly ships possessed not a gram of unobtanium within their massive engines, their cargo capacity was two-thirds the size of the newer Capital Star types, and they required massive overhauls upon returning to Earth in order to ensure that their fragile superconductors would continue to function.
Eventually all six ships of the old class would share the same fate as the Dream, converted to floating stations above human worlds.
A console beeped for her attention, breaking her mind from its idle thoughts. Glancing over, her eyes fell on the short text communication from the Hermes.
Heading home. Good luck to all who stay. - Wings of Hermes
She let a small smile grace her face before closing the message, glancing at the holotable as the icon marking the elder ISV began to slowly move out and away from her two sisters, its bow pointed towards Sol.
The communications console beeped once more, this time with a communications request from the Hope.
"This is Dream command, go ahead Hope command." she activated her headset microphone.
"Dream, we're en route to begin orbital maneuvers. Please confirm area is clear." the voice of the Hope's young captain carried into her ear.
A quick glance at constantly updating sensor reports concerning the local debris told her everything she needed to know, "Confirmed Hope, area is clear, you may begin you maneuver."
"Acknowledged Dream, Hope out."
Despite the fact that the icon representing the Explorer's Hope indicated that she had activated her fusion maneuvering engine, the icon itself did not shift noticeably. That didn't bother her, the huge, fragile ship would take several orbits to make its approach to its final position over Hell's Gate. It would remain there long enough to offload its supplies and refuel its deuterium tanks, before it would break orbit and move to the outer moon of Heracles, where she would copy the Dream, deactivating her anti-matter engines and settling into position over the sight of the future colony.
The knowledge that within six more years there would be a full human colony established on the outer moon thrilled her.
Human colonization of the stars is far too long overdue. Smiling softly, she brought up an image of the new Colony-class ISV, the massive hologram warming her to her core. Even larger than the Dream and her elderly sisters, the huge ships were the pinnacles of human technology, and yet even they were merely a stepping stone, an intermediate class being used until even larger, and faster, ships could be designed and built.
But for that, they needed more for the ships. To power the space stations conducting faster-than-light research. For the massive power plants back home to power the mega-cities while the soil was cleansed of the damage from the last world war.
And of course, all that depended on the blue-skinned savages on the moon below maintaining their current isolationist policies, leaving the humans alone as the humans in turn left them alone. Yes, they had been reinforced back up to their initial levels by the four ISV's that had come and gone. But those troops, miners, and engineers had not been meant as replacements, they had been meant as reinforcements meant to further expand operations.
All of that meant that the expeditionary force was still understaffed and vulnerable to major attacks.
Sully and his ilk may not be interested in fighting anymore, but their idiotic youths.. she sighed sub-vocally. Reports from Patel had not been inspiring any thoughts of peace in her. Each time the scientist returned from one of his sojourns with the clan's matriarch it seemed that he had only more troublesome news to report. The young adults of the local clans seemed to be slowly rallying together, believing that humanity should not be allowed to remain and continue to damage their precious trees. Nor were those rumblings the only problem that she was dealing with.
And to make matters worse, fauna attacks are starting up again, she grumbled mentally. It was not anything severe, not yet at least, but it was severely irksome. Annoying enough that it inconveniences us, but not severe enough that we feel threatened to the point of launching mass-hunting raids again.
With a sigh, she turned over command to her first officer and made her way to her personal cabin. The small, dimly lit room and the solitude it provided was a comfort for her tired mind and spirit.
Slowly kicking off her boots, she settled into her bunk and stared blankly at the bulkhead above her.
This is not how the Commander in Chief of the United Nations military should be acting. A quiet voice within her mind informed her. Weigand would not be in here, over-stressing over things that cannot be changed. He would be amongst the troops, calmly directing them, making sure that every little detail was accounted for.
Weigand didn't suffer from Hemophobia. She snapped back at the small voice, all the while recognizing that it was distinctly unhealthy of her to be having an argument within her own head.
Laying comfortably in silence, she eventually kicked herself to her feet, a small streak of self-loathing running through her at her own weakness, Thomes forced her outwards appearance to her usual calm, ice-queen self, and headed towards the medical capsule.
She steeled herself as she approached, the faint scent of antiseptic drifting towards her.
Crushing the small impulse that longed to see her body turn the other way, away from the sight she feared awaited her, her feet kept up their careful steps until she reached the ward rooms.
A massive streak of relief ran through her body as she saw that the wounded were all tightly bandaged, no red stains seeping through the white gauze and tape.
"Evening Commander!" one of the soldiers noted her arrival.
A quiet, identical chorus followed and she greeted them gravely, "Good evening. I assume everyone is healing up well enough?"
"Itches like crazy." the soldier who initially greeted her complained, gesturing at the bandages covering his left leg, "But the doctor says it's healing and I should be good to head back down in a few days."
She let a small smile grace her face, to show them that she wasn't always an ice queen, "Just in time for the next game."
"Who's playing again?" a wounded miner leaned forwards eagerly, her eyes bright.
"Kozlov's 3rd Company against Theodos's air cav."
"Oooo." the single note seemed to come from several throats at once, the mining woman adding in, "That's going to be a grudge match after last month."
Thomes made small talk with the small group for a while, chatting almost inconsequentially about football, the movies that the Hope had brought with, about the plans for the colony on Heracles.
"When does your team place next Commander?" one of the other wounded soldiers asked.
"Next week, against Werner's Austrians." she replied easily, settling back into one of the beds.
The soldier frowned, "Does the mining team have the month off then?"
The wounded woman across from him beamed, "Of course we do, everyone else it tired of us kicking your asses."
She had to fight down a slight blush at that, hazy, drunken memories of the party following last year's season final drifting into her mind.
Dammit Maria, you swore to forget that night happened!
Shoving the memory aside, she let a small smirk grace her face, "We almost had you last year, and we've been training harder than you."
Good natured jeering and laughing followed that, speculation about how the playoffs would be structured this year running rampant.
After perhaps an hour, she bid them her goodbyes and get well's before heading back towards the bridge, deeply glad that she hadn't had to pretend her good mood through the queasiness that too often overcame her when she visited the wounded.
The small streak of self-loathing shot through her body once more, only to be mercilessly crushed again.
I am the Commanding Officer in charge of the safety and security of humanity's future, I will not let a personal weakness threaten everything my species has ever accomplished. She swore to herself, as she had done so often since ascending to the position.
Returning the bridge, she settled once more into her chair, gazing darkly at the main holotable, her officers glancing at her, recognizing the intent and cold expression on their Captain's face, and quietly engrossing themselves deeply within their work so as not to disturb her.
A slight feeling of appreciation ran through her as she distantly noticed the quiet enfolding the bridge. Her officers up here, at least, knew that she wasn't always cold and callous, despite what the rumors around base said.
She was well aware of her reputation as an ice-queen, and she admitted privately to herself that the reputation wasn't ill-founded. Having to work on the surface always brought to mind the stomach-churning memories of watching medics frantically working over screaming men and women, and the near carpet of bodies that the battle had created. She knew that she originally had let her intense loathing of the place and the memories take her a bit too far into the 'cold-bitch' zone of management, but oddly enough the men and women under her 'command' had seemed to accept her for it.
A memory of Selfridge and Patel talking, unaware of her listening in, flashed through her mind.
"I don't understand why everyone seems to accept how she acts, I mean, she can be a complete bitch sometimes, especially to the new soldiers." Selfridge had murmured.
"Because it's a constant." Patel had patiently explained in response, "We're all alone out here, surrounded on a planet that very much doesn't appreciate our presence. Thomes acting the way she does is a constant that everyone can latch onto, to know that their humanity isn't fading away under the weight of the dangers. And sometimes you have to be a cool, hard leader to get people to follow you."
She'd taken that little conversation to heart, even as she tried to overcome the stomach-churning memories.
Though she tried to be more like her natural self, a bit on the cool side, but overall more relaxed, aboard the Dream with her long-serving crewmen, when she traveled to the surface, she allowed herself to fall back onto an icy persona.
Weigand led by example, inspired his men by his courage. I can't do that, I'm not soldier. I'm lucky that I have enough self-control to not vomit or faint just visiting the wounded, much less a battlefield. All I can do is be a constant, a rock for them to know that I'll always do what I can, whatever it takes, to keep humanity going out here.
Once more reassured in herself, she began to flick through the massive pile of daily reports awaiting her.
Date: August 27th, 2174
Location: Omaticaya Kelutral, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
Mo'at watched her grandson speak passionately to several warriors from a nearby clan, her eyes half-lidded, Jake'sully crouched next to her.
"He has been getting more and more warriors to agree with him these last few months." the Olo'eyktan had a worried tone to his voice.
She glanced at the man she considered her son, "You are his father and his Clan leader, it is your duty to stop him before he begins war once more."
A frustrated, tawtute-style snarl escaped him, "I've tried, he won't listen to me, and Neytiri is not much help, if not for the fact that she knows I plan on abiding by the agreement that I made to save her, she'd be fully supporting him."
Lowering her head, the elderly matriarch slowly made her way away from the small gathering, deeper into their kelutral, Jake slowly turning to follow, still talking, "The elder warriors and those who fought in the battle four years ago know exactly the kind of madness that fighting the sky people on ground of their choosing is, and Peyral has been smacking around anyone trying to head over to scout out what they're up to, but it is still getting worse."
She sighed and made her way deep into the smooth cavern amongst the roots of the great tree, settling into the chamber reserved for spirit hunts.
The two leaders of the tribe settled in, Jake seething but quiet in the sacrosanct location, and her own mind was at peace, quietly contemplative.
I remember it as though it were my own child. Tsu'tey snarling and hissing in pain, the image of a pack of nantang dancing before his eyes in the spirit world. Another sigh slowly escaped her, Always a sign of trouble, the nantang is, as it was for my Sylwanin. Fiercely loyal, playful, even fun loving, yet far too easy to anger, far too quick to attack that which frightens them.
In her mind's eye, she could still see the weeping form of Grace, huddled over the unmoving body of her daughter. She could still remember the terrible snarls that had escaped her throat, the sting on her hand from the punch that sent the toktor reeling, the pain in the other woman's eyes as Eytukan told her to leave now, before he killed her for the pain she caused them. She remembered the quiet, somber ceremony for the fallen at the kelutral, agreeing with her mate to forever ban the tawtute from their lands.
Most of all, she remembered the extraordinary pain of that time.
"War.. it was so terrible, first the battle at the Tree of Souls, then far worse at the home of the sky people. I do not want to bear such pain again Jake'sully. I not want to send my grandson to Eywa as I was forced to see my eldest daughter and mate depart." the words came slowly from her lips.
The olo'eyktan sighed and stared forlornly at the dirt between his feet, hanging his head low. "I saw enough war on Earth to last me a dozen lifetimes. I just want peace, to live and grow old with Neytiri, Tsu'tey, Sylwanin, Gracie. But Mo'at.."
She felt her own head lower, tail flicking slowly in rising depression, "No.. I do not think that we can sway your eldest child from his course either Toruk'makto. He will fight them, no matter what we say or do."
"He'll fight them. And he'll die." the sob sounded as though it tore his throat.
Gently, she reached across and laid a hand on his forehead. "The future is not set in stone, and even the Great Mother herself does not know all that may happen. Now go to my daughter, find some comfort in flight or in the hunt, let the activity wash your mind of pain. We can speak of this more later, when Neytiri is present."
It took him a moment to control himself and stand, he nodded almost gratefully to her before leaving.
And then she was alone.
She stared at the various jars and containers of incense and spirits around her, and briefly debated the unthinkable before shaking her head and slowly rising.
A spirit hunt is dangerous for a youth, to attempt another one at my age.. no, if I am to attempt to divine the future, it is with Eywa herself that I must speak.
Making her way easily back up, she sought out John, appointed keeper of the machines that allowed them to speak with toktor Patel.
It wasn't difficult to find him, he was, as usual, fiddling with a machine, humming to himself as he used it to study some tiny detail of a flower.
A small pang of pity ran through her at the sight. Though the elders and many of the warriors remained grateful to him for healing the wounded and doing all that he could to help in the aftermath of the battle, the man was still shunned by many for his refusal to abandon his tawtute ways.
He seemed to be bearing his almost exile well enough however, and smiled cheerfully as he looked up and saw her approach.
"Honored Tsahik!" he exclaimed, carefully setting the flower aside, "Here to speak with Max I take it? Another question on the strangeness of the sky people perhaps?"
An almost smile graced her face. Ever since she had, more or less, learned how thestrange tawtute machine worked, she had often used it to contact the toktors to ask them questions about the tawtute as they came to her.
Many of the other elders found it hilarious, joking that she was becoming quite eccentric in her age. Many of the youths on the other hand... she pushed the thoughts from her mind.
"I wish to speak with Eywa, and wish for him to accompany me." she explained to the Avatar.
"Ahhh."he nodded, "Do you want a ride or should I have him meet you there?"
She found many tawtute things fascinating, particularly tales from their home-world. The unholy machines they used to fly on the other-hand...
"I shall meet him there in four days time."
John looked like he was struggling not to smile, "But of course, I have to call him tonight anyways, I will tell him then."
Nodding gratefully, she left the eccentric uniltìrantokxto his own devices and made her way to the small den favorited by Peyral and the other experienced hunters. Although the unofficial leader of the hunters and warriors was not there, several of her friends were, and Mo'at left word with them that she wished for the experienced woman to escort her then next day.
Her self-imposed plans complete for the day, she felt a small smile run across her lips as she glanced up to see her younger grandchildren laughing and racing one another across the crisscrossing branches within the tree. Letting her worries escape her, she set off to round up her grandchildren, it was time they began to learn the ancient songs, and the two young girls dearly loved to sing.
Date: August 27th, 2174
Location: Tartarus, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
"What's the movie this week boss?" Buck asked him as the two men settled into the cafeteria to watch the week's film.
It had become a standard tradition after the Venture Star arrived, apparently a bureaucrat on Terra had grown a brain stem and realized that a bit of relaxation might occasionally be in order for the men working to save their species six light years away. To that end, hundreds of films had been stored in the ship's massive databank, and Parker had ordered that they show one movie a week to stretch them out as much as possible.
"Lunar Crisis I think." it took Parker a moment to remember.
"Huh, weren't they working on that when we left?" his foremen settled back in his seat, frowning at the front of the room as the projector whirred to life.
"I think so," he replied, "Supposed to be the next huge movie, I think it was a kind of spy movie or something."
"Like the ancient James Bond films?"
He turned to Buck and blinked, "Ancient what movies?"
"You never saw those when you were growing up? Aw man, you missed out, that was some classic cinema right there." The younger man instantly launched into a full explanation about the series, apparently revolving around a British secret agent of improbably skill with both weapons and women.
Fortunately, the movie itself began shortly, and the crowded cafeteria quieted down as everyone watched, many snacking on artificial popcorn as they did so.
I really hope that real corn is something that they grow on Heracles, it would be amazing to have real popcorn every Thursday for this. His mouth salivated at the thought.
After two hours of an adrenaline fueled thrill ride with amazing special effects and acting, everyone filed out of the room chatting animatedly.
"Think they'll do a sequel? That was good stuff, even better than the old 007 movies!" Buck was exclaiming.
"Enough with the ancient movies," he chuckled, shaking his head, "They did leave it open at the end though, didn't they?"
"All movies tend do that though." his foreman pointed out.
Chatting easily, the two made their way with the crowd to their rooms, bidding one another goodnight as they headed to sleep.
Settling in comfortably, he sighed as he turned off the lights, mind too active to sleep.
It was strange, knowing that there would be far less to do the next day now that the Hermes was gone. There wouldn't be an ISV for another year, and that ship wouldn't be leaving until the year after that, and so they would be able to slow their pace of mining massively. He knew that most of his men would be detailed to help out the slow progress of rebuilding Hell's Gate, but even that was limited, given that it would be several years before the materials arrived to bring the old base fully online.
Going to have to keep finding ways to keep the guys and girls busy the next few months. He mused sleepily to himself, as darkness washed up and over him.
What felt like moments later his lights activated, a loud alarm blaring from the intercom.
Blearily tumbling to his feet, it took him a moment to recognize the sound.
That's the general alarm!
It had been four years since he'd heard the gonging, clanging sound more suited to naval warships than to a massive installation.
Heart suddenly pounding, he got dressed as quickly as he could before racing into the packed hallway, threading his way through the racing crowd to reach the Ops-Center.
Bright, burning lights pierced his eyes through the windows as he raced into the nerve center of the base.
"What's happening?" he shouted, "Blue-skins?"
To his massive relief, the officer on duty shook his head, "No sir, thankfully. Got a massive group of Medusae though, drifting in from the north."
He swore at that. Flying jellyfish. Things give me the creeps.
"The ready group is in the air, ready to engage, awaiting the order." the communications officer reported.
Parker opened his mouth to ask how close the creatures were when he saw on the massive search-lights fixed on one of them. It was enormous and entirely disturbing, long tentacles drifting lazily under it, the faint sight of over a dozen more illuminated in the night.
Colonel Brian Theodas emerged in the Ops-Center, skidding to a halt as he saw the scene outside, a moment later.
He gave the order instantly, "Tell the Scorpions to light those things up!" he barked, "Before they get to the perimeter!"
The communications officer shook her head, proving that even a veteran could be phased by something, and relayed the order, "Green flight, engage, repeat, engage!"
"This is Green flight, engaging." the cool voice of the lead pilot responded, and missiles suddenly roared from overhead, the gunships somewhere above and behind the Ops-Center. The incendiary missiles struck three different Medusae, the hydrogen in their bloated bells instantly igniting, the explosions causing the creatures near them to ignite and explode as well.
Almost like sequenced fireworks. He mused softly as the creatures died flaming deaths.
It had been close, he realized later. They had drifted nearly to the outer kill-zone before they had been sighted, their low-flying bodies hadn't been picked up on their main radar, something that would need to be fixed.
"The question we need to know is, what brought them here?" he muttered softly to Theodas as the two watched the fire slowly dieing out in the empty space of the kill-zone where the creatures' remains had fallen.
The recently arrived military leader grimaced slightly, "You mean did that tree send them, or was it just the wind? Impossible to tell, either way. And that worries me."
"You're not alone there." he admitted, continuing to stare at the dying flames. Search-lights were still slowly panning the skies, searching for any more of the utterly deadly beasts, the Scorpions falling into a patrolling pattern around the base.
Dammit. I don't want this shit to start again. He shook his head slightly. I've had enough of fighting God dammit.
Turning and sighing, he nodded to the Colonel, leaving him to control the situation while he headed back to bed. He had a bad feeling that sleep was going to start becoming harder to come by once more, a far cry from what he had been hoping and even expecting after the last several quiet years.
Date: August 28th, 2174
Location: Hell's Gate, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
"Hey Max!" the lanky scientist raced into the lab room, "Tartarus was attacked last night, Medusae."
The other scientist blinked at Norm, "What? How many?"
He grimaced, "A dozen at least. No way to tell if Eywa sent them or if they were just drifting with the wind."
His friend shook his head, "Never good news around here lately, is it?"
"Huh?" he blinked at him.
"Mo'at wants to meet me at the Tree of Souls, she wants to speak with Eywa again and talk with me in private." Max explained, running a hand through his salt and pepper hair.
"That.. can't be good news." That's an understatement, good job Norm, keep using that doctorate you earned.
"Yeah." the shorter man sighed, turning back to his samples.
With a sigh of his own, he settled into his chair and grimaced at the work awaiting him. Glancing through it, he shook his head. More reports on Eywa, a request for Katrina on the bacterial solution, and a request to see if there is any chance to find more edible plants out there.
The first was already on his list of things to do for the day, the second he forwarded to Katrina, even though he knew she had not had any breakthroughs, and it was likely that they would not even be able to test the solution until more advanced equipment arrived. The last, he responded instantly do, stating succinctly that they had already informed them of every kind of known native plant or creature that was not poisonous or toxic to humans.
You'd think they would get the message by now. He grumbled mentally. He'd forgotten how much of working for other people involved responding to questions that someone else had already asked.
Though he supposed that was to be expected. Thomes and Selfridge had been a bit distant with each other for the last year, though no one knew why. The most popular guess was that Thomes was still sore about losing in the championship round last year, but all they knew for certain was that it meant that the Administrator was occasionally left out of the loop and filled out duplicate requests for something that Thomes already knew.
Bet that makes our Corporate leader happy as hell. He thought with a smirk. He did admit that Selfridge had come a long way from his utterly money-grabbing ways, but the man could still be irritatingly and totally oblivious to anything but the bottom line at times, even though the bottom line was now material produced, rather than dollars spent or earned.
With a sigh, he settled back and began to type up his report, making sure to have it addressed to both Selfridge and Thomes. He really didn't want to do this twice.
From: Norm Spellman, Dr.
To: Selfridge, Admn. : Thomes, Cmdr.
Concerning Eywa and practical measures for speaking with her:
Unfortunately, given current technology and restraints, the odds of successfully connecting into the planet's neural network is an impossibility. Perhaps with a much larger staff and a total focus on the subject, a breakthrough could be achieved within two to three decades.
However, even successfully connecting our systems to the planetary network would do us no good, as it would take several more decades, if not a century to translate the electrical signals used to convey communications through the network into binary that our computers could comprehend. Even the advanced partial-intelligence programs being developed on Terra would take decades to even begin to decipher the sequence.
In short, without a full team of the still prototype adjutants, we have zero hope for success along this route, and even with such resources, it would be a minimum of thirty-to-forty years to see results. We must continue to rely upon Tsahik Mo'at to communicate, after a fashion, with Eywa.
This too, is a short term solution, given her relative age and the rocky relationship with the Omaticaya clan. I can only suggest that more cordial relations be attempted with other nearby clans in the hope of finding a tribe more amicable to our goals here. The odds of this being slim to none, I fear that I must propose that we consider alternative locations on Pandora, particularly to areas where the Na'vi have had no human contact to this point, as possible alternative base locations.
With a sigh, he nodded and sent the message. He knew that what he proposed at the end, packing up and moving to a different region, wouldn't happen, but he felt the need to say it anyway.
We took an oath to try and protect all life as best we could. Maybe starting over, with Na'vi less prejudiced against us, that we could speak with without hate or fear, maybe that it what is really needed here. He shook his head slightly, the image of himself speaking easily with a distant clan leader fading from his head.
Dammit Norm, get your head back in the game. Katrina was right, you spend too much time wishing you were the hero instead of working on things that are needed right now! Resisting the urge to slap himself, he instead nodded and settled in more comfortably in his chair to go over Katrina's bacterial research, two minds after all, being better than one.
Next up is Act I: Dying Dreams, Chapter 1: Nights of Discomfort
And the stage is set for the second act.
Here is the prologue for Semper Furor, with the four main character's points of view. There'll be a few other pov sessions from various other characters (jake, neytiri, patel, peyral), similar to Victoria, but these are the main four. Expect chapters to be longer than Victoria's, and so there will probably be longer periods in between updates (4-5 days).
This fic is going to be less about epic battles than my previous work, instead focusing more on the relationships between na'vi and human, how they view the planet, each other, etc. There will still be some conflict of course, but you'll have to see how it turns out.
As I do so often, I beg of all who read, Please Review!