This isn't a spite-story, it's just my take on what I see as the inevitable aftermath of the movie, with added Bolo goodness, because everything is better with Bolo's.
I am ignoring the events of Avatar: The Game, as I never played it.
As ever, it's all owned by some else.
They must have known we'd come back, the ones who stayed: Earth needed Unobtanium if the human race was to survive, and Pandora was the only known source in the galaxy. Or at least, the parts that we've explored. And while the Resources Development Administration may have won to contract to oversee the mining, refining and transportation of Unobtanium from Pandora to Earth, they were ultimately working for the various world governments. Governments that are, in turn elected by the people. I guess saying "Sorry, but space-hippies say you all have to die because it's inconvenient for them to let you have the one thing that'll save you" doesn't go down too well come election time. The ISV Venture Star began transmitting news of the uprising the resulting battle the moment they broke orbit, just months before several nations on Earth were due to hold elections. News that there would be no more Unobtanium shipments, that the transports already on their way back were the last we'd see, sent social and economic shock-waves around the world as soon as people started to realise what that really meant. There were a few minor boarder wars, with smaller nations trying to fight over what stocks of Unobtanium their neighbours might have. But the big countries, the alliances and the super-powers, they were smart enough to realise that fighting over dwindling stocks would be counter-productive.
No; why fight each other to mutually assured destruction when there was a much easier target out there?
Chaos or not, the elections went ahead, and new, hard-line, militaristic governments were formed. Their mandate was clear; if the human race was to survive, then the supply of Unobtanium must be secured by whatever means necessary. Gun-camera footage of the disastrous assault on the so-called 'Tree of Souls' transmitted by the Venture Star made it clear just what we'd be up against, and that SecOps had been woefully under-gunned and under-equipped. I guess there's much to be said for never sending an amateur to do a pros job. Because for all the power and pull RDA may have had, they'd been years behind what the worlds top militarise had to play with. The first prototypes of the MK V Bolo combat units were just starting to come off the production line when it all kicked off, and were immediately put into production, even as the older MK IV's underwent a crash-refit program. Nations that had never had access to the program were given all the help they needed to start producing their own variants, even if few real changes were ever made. The Valkyrie SSTO's already in service on the Earth-Pandora circuit weren't designed to carry something the size and dimensions of a Bolo, but the larger Condor's that had fallen out of mainstream use were perfect. Given the cost in scrapping them, hundreds of them had been simply been shipped to the bone-yards on the Moon, where they could be perfectly preserved in a vacuum while not causing a hazard to navigation. They were quickly reactivated and up-armoured to military specifications, even as the Valkyrie's were turned from a humble cargo shuttle to a fully-fledged assault gunship, capable of delivering company of infantry and a platoon of military-grade MK 9 AMP suits, which were better armed and armoured than their predecessors, offering improved mobility and pilot survivability.
Some of the more advanced nations had been contemplating building dedicated space-going warships for a while, but had always held back out of fear of triggering a new arms race. But with an outside threat to concentrate on, and with near limitless budgets to play with, the first of the heavily armed interstellar cruisers were built. Bigger, faster and capable of carrying more troops and equipment than the Capital Star class transports. Not to say that the older ships already in the Sol system didn't play their part; new mining equipment and the people to run it had to be transported to Pandora, and they were perfect for the job. In the end, the Venture Star barely had time to achieve Earth orbit and unload her cargo of survivors before she was turned around and assigned to the grand armada. Seven of the new Mars class cruisers, six Capital Star class transports, including two fresh from the builders yards, and all three of the older Nova class bulk cargo carriers. Between them they carried 5,000 marines, 20,000 army personnel, 2,000 AMP-suite operators, 200 C-21 Dragon Assault Ships, 2,000 AT-99 Scorpion Gunships, 2,000 SA-2 Samson transports, 1,500 MK IV and 500 MK V Bolo's. I was lucky enough to be assigned one of the MK V's, fresh from the factory. She came armed a massive 190mm railgun, six 60mm Gatling-guns spewing out spen-uranium slugs like it was going out of fashion, six automated point-defence lasers, as well as 30mm GAU-90 autocannons loaded up with a mixture of high-explosive and flechette rounds guaranteed to ruin the day of any Na'vi dumb or unlucky enough to cross my path. They even found room to fit a small VLS pod loaded up with the latest in high-mobility SAM's to deal with any of those big, flying creatures the locals like to ride around on. Power that by a self-contained fission plant and wrap it in armour proofed against damn-near anything native to Pandora, and I was one very happy camper.
From what I've seen of the newsreels, there was more fanfare on Earth over our departure than on any of the ships; to everyone at home, we were the brave warriors going to the stars to fight for human survival. To most of us in the expedition, it was a good nights sleep followed by a battle for our lives. We'd all had to undergo a week in Cryosleep before the start of the mission to make sure we could all take it and come out the other side ready to fight. It ain't easy to get use to; imagine the worst hangover you've ever had, and times it by two, and you don't even come close. Still, it must have been better than being stuck in a tin-can for five years at 0.7C, like the caretaker crews were. Instead we went to sleep in Luna orbit, then woke up in the Alpha Centauri system in what felt like the biggest post-St Patrick's Day hangover ever.
I was one of the first to be woken; they brass wanted to take Hell's Gate and use it as a staging area for later ground and air operations. This meant I got to see Operation Hammer Fall, the destruction of the Tree of Souls as soon as the lead cruiser was within targeting range of the planets surface. Each individual kinetic impactor could produce an effective yield of up to one megaton, more than enough to blast the tree and any Na'vi near it back to their dear and fluffy god, so using six was probably overkill. It didn't take long for the lake formed by the overlapping impact craters to be named Lake Quaritch, and I have to admit, it does kind of look like a giant Q from space. More kinetic strikes took out other major Na'vi encampments near Hell's Gate, while one of the Valkyrie's dropped daisy-cutters from low-orbit, clearing away landing zones for the first wave. The Marines went in first; mean, green and loaded for something a lot nastier than any bear, holding the ground for the heavier equipment to land. Anything that came close to the landing zone was to be hosed with enough high-explosive and flechette rounds to turn it into smooth salsa.
Our orders were to wait until first light before heading out, so we set up camp with the Bolo's acting as pillboxes on the perimeter. It didn't take long for the first attack to come, but where we had been expecting the Na'vi or their human allies, it was the wildlife that struck first. None of us were new to war; we were all veterans of earthly campaigns, but none of us had gone up against the crazed mega-fauna that Pandora had to offer, or the ferocity with which they attacked. We'd all been briefed on what to expect and shown footage from the SecOps assault on the Tree of Souls, but that was almost orderly compared to what we faced: it was as if everything that could crawl, walk, swing or fly within a hundred miles was zeroing in on our landing zone like sharks smelling blood. But where as there had been some kind of order to the attack on the videos we had seen, this time it was almost like each creature was acting independently, with scant regard for it self it its fellow creatures. I was assigned to the far left flank, and the first thing I did was set the point-defence lasers to open up on anything that moved and wasn't broadcasting a IFF code; every so often I'd hear a low buzzing sound as they discharged, letting me know that I'd just barbecued another of Satan's puppies. I did the same for the 60mm Gatling-guns and the 30mm autocannons, leaving just the main rail-gun and the missiles to manual fire control. And believe me, with that kind of fire-power at your finger tips, you want a human in control, no matter how good the A.I.'s are getting these days.
The battle lasted all night and into the following day, not letting up for a moment. My personal universe consisted solely of my targeting screens and the weapons control console, selecting targets and firing just as soon as the massive capacitors could recharge. The Jarhead's stood behind prefabricated barricades, blasting away at anything that got past as, the AMP suits working as roving fire-teams, shoring up the defences where they looked weak or were under major attack. Amid this was a small army of Seabee's, running back and forth, making sure everyone had plenty of ammo, water and oxygen. We would never have lasted the night if not for those crazy bastards, risking their lives to reload my VLS's tubes by hand even as the battle rages around them. To this day, I make it a point to buy any Seabee I meet a drink on general principle, and don't ever let me hear you disrespecting them.
With dawn came support from our friends in high places; Scorpions strafed back and forth while the Dragons dropped enough napalm to boil an ocean. The natives may have thought that fighting SecOps was hard, but those guys had been hamstrung by RDA's unwillingness to ship in any of the really big toys. But we were fully fledged life-takers and heart-breakers, and we believed that there was no kill like overkill. By the time the smoke cleared and the last of the local wildlife had been turned to ash and bones, the jungle around the drop-zone looked like a scene strait out of hell; we couldn't have done much more damage if we'd dropped a kinetic impactor on the place. Our losses were relatively light, if disproportionally high amongst the Seabee's, but not a single Bolo had been damaged beyond our ability to repair in the field. Enemy losses, if you can call what we face an enemy, were total; there was nothing non-human with a heartbeat within at lest twenty clicks of the DZ.
We had made our presence known and our intent clear; humanity was returning to Pandora, and God, Eywa or even the Great Pumpkin himself help anything or anyone that stood in our way.
Bolo's aren't exactly the best choice for jungle warfare, but those trees on Pandora are damn big, so it sure helped to have something with the weight and power of a MK V to clear a way for the AMP's and infantry to follow. We were half way to Hell's Gate before we encountered the first sign of any resistance; home-made mines, all set to go off if they detected large concentrations metal, had been set at staggered intervals around the base, but all had been deactivated and clearly marked. The work looked recent, too, a clear indication that existing human population knew we were coming and would be playing hard-ball. The main entrance to Hell's Gate itself stood open before us as we reached the tree-line, a large white flag flying over the gatehouse. I was ordered to lead the way in, a platoon of Marines and an AMP squad following close behind. I had every sensor my Bolo carried running, constantly scanning for anything even remotely resembling a trap. I inched forwards, weapons hot, forcing myself to keep my hands at least a few inches from the controls less I accidentally blow away a bit of wind-blown trash.
The base had evidently seen better days; the airfield was in danger of being reclaimed by local plant life, a large parts of the main building looked uninhabited. Only the main control room and a small habitation block showed signs of life, but we were taking no chances. The Marines fanned out as I made my way to the middle of the compound, the barrel of my Bolo's railgun trained firmly and unwaveringly on the control room as the AMP's moved to secure the other gates. A lot of the equipment looked like it had been smashed beyond repair, with only a few VTOL's and utility vehicles kept in working order by the humans that had remained behind; I guess they wanted to go see their blue-skinned buddies without having to hike all the way there and back again. Once we were sure the base was secure and the prisoners locked up, the marines broke out the flame-throwers and cleared enough of the landing field for the Seabee's to land with some of their utility AMP's. These quickly cleared the rest of the field and the heavy shuttles started to land with the rest of the expeditionary force.
First order of business was to secure Hell's Gate and make sure we had everything we'd need to secure the mining sites. RDA may have done their best to make the facility at least a little aesthetically pleasing, but we were working on the governments dime, and soon there was hardly a patch of open ground within the walls that hadn't been covered by a new habitation block, warehouse or maintenance bay. Not that I spent too much time there; most of the Bolo's were sent out into the jungle soon as they'd been offloaded from the transports, conducting search and destroy patrols on the look-out for any Na'vi dumb enough to come look see who their new neighbours were. I didn't see any of them myself, not live ones anyway. The marines did drag back a couple of mangled bodies that had been locals dumb enough to try and go hand-to-hand with a MK 9 AMP suit, only to get ripped apart by cannon fire. Nearly two weeks passed before the brass decided to send out an expedition to inspect one of the old mining sites to see just how much work it would take to get it back up and running. Given the fact that I had already bloodied myself, I was assigned to the mission.
Unlike the patrols, which had normally been a single Bolo or a AMP squad, they sent us out in battalion strength: two MK V's, a full platoon of AMP's and a company of marines in sealed transports, while a full squadron of Scorpions and pair of Dragons kept watch in the not-so-friendly skies. They even tasked a Mars onto a new orbit in case we needed to cull down the thunder, but if things got that bad, we would have been calling down a kinetic strike to take the Na'vi with us. My Bolo had point, clearing a path for the transports to follow while the AMP's provided security on the flanks, the other Bolo bringing up the rear. It was a long, tedious trek; some of the trees were so big, their roots so dug-in, that even blasting them with a railgun did little, so our path was far from as strait as we had planned. A few local critters come close, only to get cut down at range by marines with itchy triggers fingers and vivid memories of the footage SecOps had sent back. I let them have their fun; my orders were to avoid any unnecessary expenditure of ammunition, and only to step in if something really big came our way. It was past noon before we arrived at the mining site, a wide stretch of exposed rock where the massive, remote-operated bulldozers the size of a small house had cleared away the vegetation and the top-soil to make it clear for the mining rigs to come in. Industrial strip-mining isn't pretty, but its quick, effective and cheep, three things that appeared to both RDA and our governmental overlords. The jungle had started to creep back in on the edges, but it takes time for soil to build up again, and the civilian engineer they'd sent out was quick to proclaim the site workable and climb back into the armoured transport as quick as he could.
I have no idea why we brought the useless peon; it wasn't like we didn't have combat engineers who could have done the job just as well without pissing themselves in the process.
I climbed out of my Bolo to watch as one of the Condors came in low over the treetops, hovering over our heads, a massive mining rig suspended from it by cables as thick as a man. It lowered its massive load almost gracefully, the ground shaking as the self-contained unit finally made contact. Technicians, military and civilian alike, arrived by Sampson and ran a seemingly endless series of tests to make sure that the unit hadn't been damaged; we only had so many of them, and the nearest replacements were 4.37 light-years away. I was so distracted that I didn't hear the first warning from my Bolo's AI to indicate that something was approaching through the jungle. The second warning was louder, and broadcast to the headset every AMP operator, marine and pilot wore, and soon almost every gun we had was pointed at a specific section of the tree line.
A lone Na'vi half stepped, half fell out of the jungle, dragging the broken remains of a hunting bow behind him with one hand, and despite all the horror stories we'd heard, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor son-of-a-bitch. There was a nasty cut across his forehead, his hair matted with blood. What little clothing he'd had was torn to rags and covered in even more blood and mud and I don't want to think what else. But it was his eyes that effected me the most; for all their alien nature, once you get up close, the Na'vi have very human eyes, and like ours, their the windows to the soul. We'd been on the look out for anyone looking to disrupt the mining, but this guy looked like he was about to drop down dead where he stood, his gaze locked somewhere in the middle distance, almost as if he didn't even see us. Then he started talking, jabbering away in his own luggage, not a word of English or any other human tongue to be heard. Not that you had to understand him to get the gist of what he was saying; the sadness radiated off if him with a near physical force as he rabbited on and on about something that had wounded him far worse than any physical damage.
I've never regretted that we went back to Pandora, or that I took part, but when I look back and think about that poor bastard, I can't help but wonder if we could have been a little less free with the kinetic impactors.
He stood there for almost an hour, talking almost non-stop, never once making any kind of aggressive gesture or there being any hint that he was a distraction while others moved in to attack. Eventually the technicians went back to work, the Marines and AMP's backing away slowing and going back on patrol while my Bolo stood guard over our unexpected visitor. Someone must have radioed Hell's Gate, because a Sampson, escorted by a pair of Scorpions, arrived carrying a pair of what looked like Na'vi in over-sized combat fatigues. I'd heard that the brass had splashed the cash to get Avatar's grown for some of the military-intelligence types, but I'd not actually seen one for myself. I don't know who they were, and their uniforms lacked any markings or name-tags, but they evidently spoke the same lingo as our guest, and knew a little about their culture. One held back, a GAU-90 hanging by a strap around their neck, while the other slowly walked up to the local with their arms held out wide to make it clear that they weren't carrying any weapons. They spoke softly, my Bolo's external mike's barely able to make out the words over the noise of the mining rig as it started up. I have no idea what the guy said, but it seemed to get through to the poor wretch, and they eventually led him away to the Sampson that had brought them in it took off, headed back to Hell's Gate.
Soldiers like to gossip, it's one of the universal constants, and ain't nothing ever going to change that. As such, it didn't take long for word to get around about what our 'guest' had be talking about. Story is that he'd been some kind of hunter/scout for one of the native villages that had been taken out from orbit. He'd been far enough away to avoid getting killed outright, but had still been banged up pretty bad by the seismic and atmospheric shock-waves. Returning to what had one been his home in a daze, he'd discovered his entire family, including his mate and children, reduced to so much particulate matter. Poor bastard had suffered some kind of total mental breakdown, or whatever the Na'vi equivalent is, and had been wondering around in a daze until he heard the Condor bringing in the mining rig.
Now that all the fun a games were over, it was getting late, so they pulled back the marines and the AMP's, leaving just the two Bolo's to watch over the mining-rig overnight, planning to come back the next day with an automated sentry system. And let me tell you, I have never felt more alone in my entire life. Sure, Tim O'Raghailligh was there is his MK V, less then a hundred meters away, but that was open ground on a world where the very air itself can kill you in less than 60-seconds, inhabited by creatures that even an Australian would could bloody scary. I checked, double checked and triple checked every lock and seal between my cabin and the outside world, and instructed the Bolo's AI, who I had taken to calling Bo-Bo for reasons I can not explain to this day, to shoot anything that crossed the tree-line and couldn't trace its origin back to good-old Earth. That done, I hunkered down for the night, intending to sleep as much of it away as I could.
They sent us out twice more to secure other mining sites before we met any real resistance. I guess the natives were still reeling from the thought of entire clans getting reduced to smoking craters with little or no warning, but by god, did they get organised quickly. Not that we'd been sitting around with our thumbs up our asses all that time: the engineers had turned Hell's Gate into a veritable fortress, with automated weapons systems, pre-sited artillery, overlapping fields of fire and enough mines to launch a Vulture back into orbit. Orbital reconnaissance told us exactly where they were and in what numbers, but they'd apparently learned their lesson, because they stuck to smaller groups in terrain where just dropping a kinetic impactors wouldn't have been worth the effort. That traitorous son-of-a-bitch Jake Sully must have thought he was being real cleaver, thinking all tactical like that. But like a lot of jarhead's who never got so much as a stripe on their arm, he wasn't too hot on the strategic side of things. Hell, our entire plan was to get them to attack us on ground of our choosing, rather than making the same mistake SecOps had of giving them the home-field advantage. By getting them to attack us, we forced them to strike us where we were our strongest, and could bring every gun, missile and bomb we had to bare on them. If we'd wanted to eradicate the Na'vi as a species, we could have sat in high orbit and just dropped kinetic impactors on them until the entire planet was one big field of overlapping craters. Hell, that would have actually been cheaper and easier than shipping out a full expedition to take the fight to them on the ground. And while he might have gone native, Sully must have known that, at least on some level.
My Bolo was assigned to a forward position marked on the maps as Hill 14, right in the middle of the anticipated avenue of attack. I was given the option of leaving it out there with the A.I. running the show while I sat back at base and directed it by remote link, and I have to say part of me really wanted to take them up on that offer. For one thing, Hill 14 was far enough out that it would be danger-close for any kinetic impactor they might decide to call down, meaning that there would be no way to guarantee my safety if they had to resort to the Rods From God. But a bigger part of me felt I had to be out there with Bo-Bo, again for reasons I still can't explain. I've spoken to veterans who crewed tanks back before they started fitting them with A.I.'s, and they all talk about growing so attached to their vehicles that they felt loathed to leave them on the field of battle. I'm sure the shrink could explain it better, but even a cold slab of armour becomes somehow alive if you spend enough time inside it, relying on it to keep you safe while hell rages outside. Giving them the ability to talk probably only makes it worse, because none of the Bolo drivers assigned to the outer perimeter took them up on the offer.
They should probably lock the lot of us up in rooms with rubber wallpaper.
It was just before dawn when they struck, not that it made any difference; between remote sensors, the impressive array of active and passive systems fitted to a MK V and the ships in orbit, we could track each and every one of them from the moment they left their staging area. They hit the mines first, running into everything from the classic pressure-trigged high explosive party-favours, to Bouncing Betty and even the new plasma charges that could vaporise the legs right off of an AMP suit in a blinding flash of light. To give them their credit, they kept coming, either on foot or riding one of the native beasts. The flyers didn't have it all their own way either, as point defence lasers on the walls of Hell's Gate ripped into them the moment they entered range. I don't know if you've ever seen what a 5mm laser does to organic life, but it sure as hell ain't as pretty as they show in the movies. First off, you don't even see the beam, as they operate well outside the human visual range. Second, there's none of that clean burn mark and falling down dead; the real damage is done my heat transference, which can not only burn through the toughest of skins, but flash-boil any liquids inside with often explosive results. The first clue the Na'vi would have had that they'd entered the kill-zone was when some of their friends got turned into clouds of pink mist. With no way of telling where the danger was coming from, they quickly scattered, losing what group cohesion they'd had.
Everyone was looking for that big gold-and-black bastard Jake Sully had been seen riding during the attack on the Tree of Souls, looking to cash in on the bounty that had been offered for a confirmed kill, but there was no sign of him. Maybe he'd worked out that it made him too much of a target. Maybe he'd been down on the ground. Or maybe he'd decided to stay back at base, playing at being a general while the poor schmucks following him did the dying. All I know is, no one cashed in the Golden Ticket that day, but not for want of trying.
Once they were out of the minefield, it was time for us Bolo drivers to earn our pay.
You fire a 190mm railgun at something, you've got to be damn sure of your target and what'd behind it. Not that we had any concern about collateral damage on Pandora, but there was a sizeable betting pool over who could get the most twofer's; two targets down with a single shell without the A.I.'s help. As with the first battle, I took control of the railgun and the VLS' while Bo-Bo handled the rest. Most of my missiles were anti-armour, suited to take out any of the mega-fauna that tried to flank me, but they'd left me a few anti-air missiles in case I got a lock on something the lasers missed. My first target was one of those big, six-legged hammer-headed beasts that can crush an AMP suit under foot. It's hard to miss something that big when it's charging strait at you, and my first round hit it right behind the head. The thick armour there might be up to deflecting teeth and claws, but not a 190mm armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot round travailing at hypersonic speeds. Created to take out the equivalent of another Bolo, they can go through flint-steel like a hot knife through butter, so you can imagine the catastrophic damage they do to something that only has cartilage and bone for protection. The creature went down hard, the massive forward momentum it had been carrying only partly negated by the impact of the round. It hit the ground and ploughed through the undergrowth for nearly twenty meters before it came to a bloody stop, either dead of dying, I had no way of knowing for sure. By that point I was already lining up my second shot, the automated loader quickly laying down a fresh round as the reactor charged up the capacitors. I clanged at one of the secondary screens as Bo-Bo used the Gatling-guns to turn a group of Na'vi on those horse-type creatures they like to ride into roadkill. I rotated my turret to the side, getting a hard lock on another one of those big bastards, only this time my round hit it dead centre, on its left flank, and it all but exploded under the hydrostatic shock. The round continued on, eventually exploding a large rock, failing to earn me a twofer. I spotted a group of those big dog-like creatures trying to sneak past, and dropped a couple of missiles on them, the heavy high explosive warheads ripping them and the surrounding foliage into confetti.
Sheer weight of numbers carried them past our position, but that had been anticipated.
Blaring classical music out of external speakers, the Scorpions and Dragons came next, unleashing wave after wave of missiles and a constant stream of cannon fire into the Na'vi as they crossed into the open ground surrounding Hell's Gate at the same time that the marines, soldiers and AMP's on the walls opened up with everything from assault rifles to recoilless rifles and heavy machine-guns. There was so much lead in the air you could have strolled across it. The tree-line just vanished in an ongoing explosion as napalm and high explosives sort to incinerate and vaporise everything in their path. They even had a couple of the Vulture gunships circling, providing close air support, bring the rain from higher than any of the locals could ever hope to reach.
It was nearly biblical, as if the divine wrath of the Lord God Himself had descended upon Pandora from upon high to smite the unbelievers. Losses amongst the Na'vi were near total, with only a fraction of their force managing to pull back. We could have killed them all, but we had strict orders to let any survivors go, so they could spread the word far and wide about the price that would be paid in blood for attacking the Sky People again.
Two days later, a lone Na'vi slowly approached the Hell's Gate, totally unarmed and visibly shaken by the devastation left in the wake of the battle, if you could call it that. I guess he was some kind of elder or leader, but honestly, I had trouble staying awake during the lectures on Na'vi society and customs beyond the whole "...and this is how they like to kill you." part. Whoever he was, he apparently had the authority to speak for pretty much all the surviving natives, aside from a small number who'd taken off with Sully to hide in the magic floating mountains to plot their next move. Couple of our Avatars came out and talked to him, making it clear that we had come for the Unobtanium, that we needed it for our people to survive, something Sully and his tree-hugging friend had never really explained to them. Aside from that, we had no interest in taking their land or other resources, and would be happy to just leave them the fuck alone if they did the same to us.
In all fairness, RDA and SecOps had really screwed up their relations with the Na'vi, probably taking what was a difficult situation and turning it into the perfect shit-storm that it ended up as. They never once saw the Na'vi as worth actually talking to like intelligent beings, and for once military intelligence actually showed some intelligence and didn't go full-genocide when it was perhaps the easiest option. Two guys controlling Avatars talking to one lone Na'vi probably did more to further our understanding of them, and them of us, in one conversation than RDA had managed in the years they'd spent on Pandora. We travailed 4.37 light years with enough men and material to fight a war of extermination, but the fighting ended after only one battle. There was no official treaty, given that the Na'vi don't really have any understanding of that kind of thing, but there was an understanding; the new administration at Hell's Gate would leave the Na'vi alone, and they'd stop trying to disrupt the mining already in progress. Any further mining sites would be explained to them in advance, and where possible, accommodations would be made on both sides. I know that some people back on Earth complained that we bought them off with glass beads and trinkets, but again, the Na'vi don't understand the human concept of ownership. Once it was actually explained to them that we needed something from the land for our people to survive, much like they needed food or water, they were much more understanding. I wouldn't say that they like us: we killed too many of them for a people with their kind of shared racial memory to ever really forgive, but I do think they had a better understanding of our needs and motivation.
With the fighting over, a sizeable garrison with enough fire-power to level a continent, as well as one of the Cruisers in orbit was established. The bulk of the expedition was loaded back onto the ships, next stop back home. We get to go to sleep in the hopes that, when we awake, it'll be to a universe where there is still peace between humanity and the Na'vi, and where we won't have to travail between stars to wreak such wholesale death and destruction in the name of survival. After all, if humanity is to be saved, we must first be worth saving...