Disclaimer: This time I have to give the credits to James Cameron. I believe he owns everything about the world Pandora, as he was its inventor. Anyway. I really enjoyed Avatar apart from the fact that all cool characters died.
Author's Note: Speaking of cool characters: Grace was definitely my favorite one. It's true, although this fanfiction is certainly not nice to her. It is part of my "unconventional pairings" series I was trying to begin and I came up with Grace Augustine/ Miles Quaritch. The only way for me to do this in character means that there will be some force involved.
I have to add, that English is not my native tongue. So if you find any errors in grammar, word choice or syntax that impairs your reading experience, please tell me. I'd be glad to improve. I also didn't have the opportunity to watch the movie in the original version (but in its German dubbing); which means I have to guess the way the characters talk.
How this story works: Okay, so here's the warning: this story contains angst, non-con and psychic terror. But it won't be explicit. That's not the way I work. Maybe there will be a happy ending (but not with them two. No way.). I seriously don't know, but I listen to any suggestions made. I really do.
Thanks and dedications: I dedicate this story to my dear friends, who always encourage me, even on the weirdest ideas I develop. I furthermore dedicate it to my readers, whom I can give something with what I'm doing. And last but not least to the awesome actors (and all other participants) of the movie, who made it possible to bring this world to life.
Text passages written in bold face have been added afterwards. I added them after watching the extended version of the movie and updating this fanfiction in order to take these events into account.
Chapter 1 - Steps on Metal
A normal day on Pandora lasted 37 hours and 27 minutes when measured with clocks manufactured on earth. This meant that a standard Pandoran night lasted about 18 hours in average. Grace knew. It was one of the first things she had learned about and later experienced herself on this new world.
As far as she knew there were no analogous clocks designed to show Pandora time. And her old alarm clock had proved rather useless in this environment. But that was okay with her. She decided to keep the thing out of some nostalgia and as a reminder that time was a relative thing.
In the meantime she had to help herself with the digital clocks situated at the desktop of her working station and implemented into almost any other device which used an electronic interface.
The clock told her now that it was rather late in the night, even for Pandoran standards.
It was quiet all around her, because almost everybody must have gone to bed by now. She however liked staying up late.
It gave her the opportunity to bring some order into the bunch of data she and her scientists collected every day, without getting disturbed by a lot of trivial things.
For any observer her workstation seemed a messy place, but she had her own intricate order, knowing exactly where everything was – including her pack of cigarettes, without which she could never have endured so long in these foreign surroundings.
There were times when she regretted that it was impossible for humans to move freely in the planet's air, discovering everything in their true forms, but then she reminded herself of the incredible sensations that she could only experience in her Avatar body. It was like a complete new life, free of all the frailties of being human and perfect for the exploration of the dangerous forests which grew behind the big fence that protected Hell's Gate.
Today she and her scientists had been able to collect some plant samples in areas of the forest, they haven't been to yet and these samples still needed to be catalogued properly, if they should be of any future use. Grace had never before seen these strange flowers and herbs now lying on her desk and she again felt the sensation upon a new discovery.
Since her arrival on Pandora there had been so many of them, but still the scientist in her got excited, when she found something new.
Even after several years of living here and doing research there was so much yet unexplored and unexplained and being one of the first persons to solve these riddles and bringing order in the abundance of newly discovered species was thrilling for her.
Cataloguing was but one step in that direction. It involved detailed descriptions of the specimen, followed by several scans, each one looking for something different. Then the samples became tagged with names or numbers and got stored away for further research.
According to the archive files, which were growing each day, they possessed by now far more cataloged than truly researched specimen – but there still was so much time to do it properly. They had only just begun.
She took the first sample off the staple on her desk, turning it around in her hands. She was about to begin to record a first and crude description of the plant, when she heard steps behind her.
Since it was so silent, she could hear the sound on the metal floor of the lab all the better. It almost seemed to echo in the big room.
It was quite unusual that somebody entered the laboratory at night, which was another reason why she enjoyed working late. Maybe one of her colleagues had forgotten something or maybe had the same idea as she had had, thus she turned around to greet the late visitor.
Her eyes widened in surprise when she recognized who had entered the room. It was the last person she had expected, mainly because he almost never deemed it necessary to come to these parts of the compound.
"Quaritch! What the hell do you want here?"
Her surprise got the better of her manners and quite frankly she did not like him particularly well.
The colonel emerged out of the shadows and the cold lighting of the lab made his face harder than it already was. He stopped a few meters away from her, his hands casually in his pockets and it was only then that she saw the humorless smile on his face.
"You!" was the only answer he gave and it sounded quite matter-of-factly.
She laughed sarcastically and shook her head in disbelief.
"Again? I told you, we're not ready analyzing today's data!"
"I'm not talking about data."
"I have no time for games. If you're drunk, please go somewhere else and stop bothering me. There are still some…" She stopped in midsentence, when she realized that he did not seem drunk. He never had been actually.
"I'm not joking." He stayed completely calm, but the menacing undertone was there nevertheless. He took some steps toward her so that Grace could almost smell him.
She felt some shivers down her spine and her instincts told her to leave immediately. This was so surreal that she could not believe her eyes and ears.
"Now what? You seriously march in right here after all these years and tell me you have some sort of attraction to me? Why me of all these women on the compound?"
"I like my women strong-willed."
"Okay, I get it. Be as cryptic as you want to be. I have enough of this."
She rose from her chair.
He stayed silent for a few seconds and Grace decided that she should get out of there as soon as possible.
It was only when she headed for the door that he blocked her exit by moving in her way and touching her shoulder.
"Not so fast."
"For Heaven's sake, what is your goddamn problem?"
She almost desperately tried to sound brave, but the panic which arose in her made her voice tremble slightly. It dawned on her that there was nothing she could do if he attempted to make a move on her. The sleeping quarters were in another part of the complex and she had insisted that no soldier whatsoever would guard her precious lab. These idiots made more mess than they were good for.
Tactically flawless, she had to give him that!
"I want you; it's as simple as that."
"So you decide to sneak up on me in the middle of the night?"
She was tempted to ask him, why he never had showed any signs of a flirtatious interest like buying her a cup of coffee - or still better a pack of cigarettes -, but she feared he could take it as an encouragement, that she actually reciprocated his intentions. Thus she stayed silent.
His grip on her shoulder tightened a bit, which made her flinch.
"I guessed you needed some kind of incentive, since it is quite obvious that you don't like me, Doctor."
"I get as much: you take whatever you want notwithstanding any person's feelings. So what are you going to do now, rape me or what?"
"You'd like that, wouldn't you? It'd give you all the evidence against me you needed, but I'm not stupid. No, I won't touch you. It is you who should touch me."
"Let me get this straight: You want to get involved with me, but nevertheless it is I who should make the first move."
"Exactly. You're as brilliant as I thought." A smug smile crossed his face.
"And what in God's name gives you the idea that I willingly participate in that little scheme of yours?"
"I never said "willingly", Doctor. What is it with you always misreading what I say?"
Somewhat taken aback she stood before him and didn't know what to answer. All her sarcasm couldn't prepare her for this man and it seemed that everything she had said didn't reach him. His short and somewhat cynical utterances had served their purpose and she discovered that he had maneuvered her through the conversation without her realizing it. And now he had her where he wanted her to be. For a few moments there was silence between them, almost as if he enjoyed the effect his last words had made on her.
If there was one thing about Quaritch she had learned over the last few years on Pandora it was this: He always had a plan – which meant in her case that he didn't make these implications without a reason. He already had said that she needed an incentive and she could only guess what that might be. Especially when she took into account the history she shared with him.
Finally she shook her head and stared at the floor.
"Alright, tell me."
"Now you're talking reason, my dear. I thought you would never ask."
His hand wandered from her shoulder to her cheek which made Grace inhale sharply. She resisted the urge to do something about his unwanted touch, before she knew what he was about to say.
"It's actually pretty simple. You see, I never cared much for your little blue friends out there. If I had it my way, there wouldn't be any of these savages left to deal with anymore, but Parker sees things differently now. As you might be aware, the general order is: Killing natives is bad for business. I believe however that I could easily convince him otherwise, if it were necessary – but for the sake of your little research here I will – at the moment - refrain from doing so. If you are a good girl... But if you refuse, I just want to remind you what happened at the school a few years ago. I think you don't want history to repeat itself so quickly."
"You can't be serious. You would kill off sentient beings in order to blackmail me to sleep with you?"
"Since I firmly believe, you wouldn't want your alien friends to be killed, there's no need to pursue this course of action this time, no. Besides they never were much more than a nuisance."
"To you and your stupid marines maybe!" For a second Grace forgot her own predicament. She could get excited easily when talking about Pandora and its inhabitants. Here she felt on safe ground. "They believe the Na'Vi are savage and brutal", she continued spitefully, "because they learn it from you! But none of you ever takes the time to get to know them."
His hand on her cheek grabbed her face and forced her to look him in the eye.
"Look at me! Look at me! You call these scars harmless?" Then he calmed down a little. "Rest assured, for every military action we might take against them they only have themselves to blame! It certainly wouldn't hit the wrong ones. But as I said – if you consider my offer, I will leave you to your little puppeteer games for the time being. Parker still believes you could be of future use. I won't contradict him then."
"If I said I won't do it, you will launch a massive strike against helpless people? Women and children?"
"I wouldn't exactly call them helpless, but otherwise you're quite right."
"Nice doesn't get you anywhere. Especially on this godforsaken place. Besides, that's exactly the reason me and my soldiers are here. So far there wasn't much of a chance for diplomacy."
"How surprising when you take their land without asking and shoot at them whenever the opportunity arises!"
"My point is: Parker gets restless, he wants to see results and he has every right to do so. Your little games have proven rather pointless up to this day, making a military operation more probable with every passing hour."
"We simply need more time! Everything is still so new! And Parker knows that."
"Maybe, but he also doesn't care. What I will give you is more time. Take it or leave it. I give you three days to decide."
"How generous!", Grace snorted still unwilling to believe what she had just heard.
"As I said, take it or leave it!"
Quaritch released her from his grip, but refused to break eye contact. "Three days!" Then he turned around and left the room leaving the scientist behind.
The first second he had exited Grace fell back on her chair, but the plant samples she had worked with earlier had lost their fascination.
She needed a cigarette. Badly!