Author's note: There are many good authors who have been attracted to this movie. I don't write for every fandom I enjoy, but for this one, the spectacular writing of a few have inspired me to write a fic of my own for Avatar. You know who are, I'm sure (see my favorites list if you don't). Thank you and it is my hope that my contribution can stand next to yours.

Pandora's Hope

Life. Death. Rebirth. In his mind, all three were one for an instant, so short and yet seeming to stretch out into eternity. The sensation was beyond his comprehension, like floating in the void between the endless stars. This was the Eye of Eywa, the singularity of the mind where all was dark and all was light, and in that endless abyss of knowledge Jake's mind hovered for just an instant, caught between his fragile human body and the powerful bulk of his adopted form.

Eywa didn't talk to him in any literal sense, yet there was a presence about him, an obvious sense of approval. Even after everything his people... his former people had done, Eywa held no malice towards them. Instead there was this sense that the lifeforce regarded mankind as young and primitive, like how a man might regard someone's tantrum-throwing child. Soothing waves passed over his consciousness, reassuring him, pushing him onward. Men would learn. Eywa would wait. This was the way of things.

Ebbs and flows passed by him, carrying him along from thought to thought. They were places within the great mind, waves of an endless ocean, carrying him to shore with bountiful gratitude. Grace was there too, calling as if from some great distance, echoing along the wind.

"You are the bridge between worlds. How I wish it could have been me..." Sorrow. It carried forth from the mind within the mind of Eywa. Then it was gone, replaced with contentment. "So you weren't empty-minded after all." The voice faded, rejoining the endless whispers, a wave returning to the endless ocean, a drop falling into the mighty river. Finally they too faded, replaced with the sensations of a body he remembered so fondly. His eyes opened.

"I see you." The words were natural, and it was well that they were the first he spoke. Beauty dominated his vision, a kindred soul, a shapely form. Jake's mind returned to him, thoughts acquiring speed once again. Eywa, how he could feel her. Neytiri was a presence in his mind, beckoning to him with a soft, pure love born of a place where secrets were so few.

"I see you," came the simple reply, her deep, beautiful eyes telling him so much more than her words. A part of him knew that he had not fought the Company because of bravery or love of the fight. He had not done it for the others, for Eywa or the Hometree. He had done it for her. Neytiri had awakened him from his long slumber, his depression-filled existence, confined to some foreign contraption due to a petty conflict over dwindling resources. That long night was over now and despite all of the death and violence which had stricken this world, he felt a measure of happiness. As if reading his thoughts, which, he realized, was very probable, Neytiri bent down and kissed him gently, her lips lingering over his. It probably violated some custom, to display such open affection in front of the assembled tribes at the base of the Tree of Souls. But if anyone was offended by it, none showed it. Turok Makto was not to be denied such a thing.

Jake stood for the first time, his toes curling over the ground, eyes open in wonder, like the baby Neytiri was so fond of calling him in his less-than-bright moments. It was then that his eyes saw his body, surrounded by the threads of Eywa, the connections which had permeated his body, at last making him whole. A pang of regret passed by, but it was brief. Following that, like a flood, were the memories of his human life. They say that your life flashes before your eyes in the moment of death but no one had told him they would flash by at the moment of his rebirth.

...Jake was a child again, running through the trees, chased by his brother. He was so fast, always running. His twin could never catch up, but never gave up trying. He was enlisting in the military, helping to pay for his brother's schooling, trading his natural athletic ability for the chance his brother might travel the stars. He was fighting in the dying jungles of Earth, death following on his heels like a hell-hound but never quite reaching him. How many had he killed? How many faces, names, brothers and sons? A bullet was entering his back, severing his spinal cord like a twig, the devil hovering over him, laughing. Pain. So much pain. Then there was nothing, as if his legs no longer existed at all. His brother was dead, his life was falling apart and all he could think of was how he wanted to run, on legs that no longer worked. Run. Run. Fly. They wanted him to go to Pandora, well fine he could do that. He couldn't run on legs that were broken, but at least he could flee to the ass-end of the universe...

...The images faded again, softening to Neytiri's beautiful face, the sculpted lines of a huntress, a warrior, a lover. Lingering memories faded to the background once again. There was no need to dwell on the past anymore. As far as The People were concerned, he had no past other than the one they knew. He wasn't a "meal on wheels" he was Jakesully, Turok Makto, the lifemate of the most wonderous, beautiful (and dangerous!) creature on any planet. He fled Earth-that-was for Pandora-that-is, a trade only a fool would scorn.

"Tis better to rule in hell than serve in heaven," whispered Jake, not realizing he had spoken the words aloud. Some famous old writer had said that, though for the life him, Jake couldn't remember who it was or why the errant thought struck him at that moment. In any event, the author obviously had it backwards. Hell was still a shit-hole and that philosophy of leadership was what led tinpot corporate dictators and psychopathic mercenary leaders to Pandora in the first place. But it was a shit-hole only to them... to him it truly was heaven and he was fulfilled beyond anything he had ever experienced, to serve this world.

"What is that?" Neytiri asked, her ears twisting forward in an expression of curiosity.

"Nothing. Old Sky People saying."

"Are you afraid, no longer dreamwalking?"

"No. I don't fear falling asleep anymore..." His eyes twisted down once more, staring at his prone human form, a body which was empty of life. As if suddenly remembering that he was surrounded by so many, he turned away from the lifeless vessel and walked forward, enjoying the sensation of soil on his feet and the soft, wispy breeze on his blue skin. Cheering erupted like a wave around him... the party had begun.

Jake watched the night sky, his eyes tracking the movement of a tiny star, the reflection of the massive starship breaking orbit. All around him the nighttime sounds of Pandora's lush jungle comforted him in its familiarity. The dream had become reality, the sleeper had awakened. At least sanity had come over the humans at last. It was possible they could have launched another attack with the remaining reentry shuttle, but they had honored the agreement. If only this could have been achieved without the loss of so many good People, without the sacrifices of Grace and Trudy. Tsu'tey's death in particular weighed heavily on his mind. Many had seen the rivalry as a bad thing, but Jake saw it as a challenge, something that was fun, in its own way. Like his brother, death had come for him at the hands of some idiot with a rifle. And now the Omaticaya wanted him to lead them, a responsibility he didn't need or want.

"They are leaving our world?" Neytiri asked, cocking her head slightly with that innocent curiosity he adored.


"Will they come back?"

"Someday. It takes many years to cross the stars. But the Company? They are finished," said Jake.

"The com-pan-ee?" Neytiri asked.

"Yeah. Not all Sky People are bad..." He began.

"We know that. I know." She interrupted, her body curling into his lap as they stared at the stars together.

"...I forget that sometimes. The People have every right to hate Sky People."

"I hate those Sky People." Neytiri said, hissing as she glared upwards at the moving star.

"Those Sky People are from a clan called The Company. When they get back to Earth, the rest of the Sky People will punish them for what they did here. Humans on Earth didn't know how bad things were here. They will now."

"Because of you." Neytiri whispered, her hand caressing his face.

"No, because of you. I'd still be a dreamwalking cripple in a metal box without you." But Neytiri wasn't listening anymore, reaching instead for his lips. She never cared for long, rambling speeches, and Jake wasn't really one to give them. Ignoring the fading star blasting towards his former home, he embraced his mate, feeling her close to him, her warmth, her love...

The scientist in Norm's mind was like a voice he just couldn't shut-up. Sometimes it was annoying, sometimes it was insightful, but always his thoughts were loud. There were only a few others left at the base camp; the Na'vi having left as soon as the shuttle had taken off. The blue-skinned warriors respected him and the other scientists, but they didn't really understand why they chose to stay. It was enough that Turok Makto had told them that the group of scientists were good Sky People.

They left the base alone, even leaving the scientists a few of the weapons. Norm supposed they would need them if any of the predators out there decided to break down a gate or two. But there were rules. This world was for the Na'vi, and the scientists were guests here. Still the rules weren't anything he could argue with. Refraining from killing Na'vi, burning trees and bulldozing sacred sites was pretty much a no-brainer. At least he could stay here, in this world he loved and finally be able to learn about it free of Company supervision. Norm's excitement ran like a shiver down his spine.

RDA had been so shortsighted. Sure, unobtainium was worth a ridiculous amount of money, but God, this world had so much more to offer. Grace had been studying medicines made from the plantlife and bio-networks that were so much more advanced than the clunky metal boxes men had to use for bio-links. These things had so much more to offer humanity than rocks. Like solutions to the overpopulated, bureaucratic monstrosity Earth had become in the last few centuries. Of course RDA hadn't been interested in putting itself out of business, but Norm had no such qualms. The sooner the C-students were excised from government and corporate offices, the better.

"How're the repairs coming?" Norm asked. With the full resources of the base at his disposal, it was so much easier to get things done! It pained him to lose his Avatar in the final battle, but soon he would have the damage repaired. Norm would never be a Jake Sully, he knew that much, but the Avatar was a fulfillment of a dream for him. Teased as a nerd when he was a child, what he wouldn't have given for a powerful Na'vi body then. God, what a lesson he could have taught them!

"Another four days. Tissue growth acceleration is a little slow. But seriously, Norm, you asked me twice this morning."

"Yeah, well I want to get out there again. We have work to do."

After all, Earth would send more ships, hopefully staffed with sane people. Norm and his science contingent had to bridge the gap between the species as much as possible before they got here. Once, he had thought that impossible but with Jake out there somewhere, he knew it would happen. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a hundred years, but someday. After all, Pandora's existence and Earth's ultimate fate depended on it. Like it or not, God, Eywa or whatever the hell was out there had pretty much set it up that way. Few realized the extent of the ecological damage on Earth, the toll of rampant overpopulation, warfare and famine. Grace had known Pandora offered the solution, not in the form of some technological marvels constructed of unobtanium, but in the planet's harmony with its sentient race, something that had never happened on Earth...

Norm smiled as he suddenly latched on to a new name for the reclaimed base station, the words scrolling on his monitor.

Hope Station

After all, Pandora had opened her box, loosing death and pestilence on the land, and as she looked to see what still glittered inside, Hope was what remained within.

** To be continued **