Many miles from the spaceport known as Hell's Gate, a section of the Pandoran jungle had been scarred and blackened from a helicopter crash. The Samson light aircraft had been shattered into so many shards of twisted metal embedded in the ground. Fuel had leaked from the broken fuel lines and left a dark stain on the ground. The pilot was slumped forward in his seat, dead from the crash. Most of the passengers were strewn around the crash sites, either dead outright from the crash or slowly choking on Pandora's atmosphere.
But not all. A single survivor uncurled from the protective ball she had rolled into. Every inch of her was covered in scrapes or bruises, but she was alive. She had been one of the door gunners, and the impact of the Samson hitting a tree on the way down had shaken her free. If not for that, and the fact that she had already been wearing her exopack, she would be dead.
"Oh God, what happened?" Corporal Jade West groaned, going to rub her eyes before remembering her breathing mask. She stood up with difficulty, using a nearby tree to support herself. Looking up, Jade remembered hitting most of the branches on the way down, and winced. Her fall would have been lethal on Earth, but Pandora's lesser gravity and greater air density had slowed her enough to survive.
Trying to ignore her injuries, Jade scanned the crash site for any survivors. She spotted a breathing man near her, but her hopes were dashed when she rushed up and saw that his breathing mask had shattered. She witnessed the final conscious seconds of a man dying from the poisonous atmosphere.
Jade wandered the site aimlessly for a moment or two, nervously running her fingers through her hair and cursing in panicked, high-pitched voice. Eventually she forced herself to calm down and assess the situation, deciding that going into hysterics wouldn't solve anything.
"I'm on a routine chopper patrol when something makes us crash and now I'm stuck alone in the jungle where everything wants to kill me and I'm miles from the nearest base, but I don't even know which direction because I can't find my compass! SHIT!" Jade felt rising panic and forced herself to calm down.
Jade searched the crash site for an unbroken radio or, failing that, anything she could salvage to protect herself. She didn't want to stagger halfway to the space port only to be mauled by a Viperwolf. All she came up with a loaded Wasp revolver and a single spare speedloader, plus her sheathed combat knife. Despite her woeful lack of supplies, Jade forced herself to keep it together and find out which way to go. Doing some calculations involving a fuzzy mental map of the area, Jade figured that if she set out north-west from the crash site she was bound to find some evidence of RDA presence.
Adjusting the seal on her mask, Jade set off on her long journey, unaware of a presence watching her.
"Join SecOps, they said," Jade muttered to herself, edging through an enormous fern with her hand on her sidearm. "They could use a dedicated woman like you, they said. Funny how they left out that the planet will kill you for sneezing wrong. Great benefits, though."
An hour later, Jade was starting to think that her plan was hopeless. The Pandoran forest was just an endless sea of green shades, blocking out most of the setting sun and casting foreboding shadows. Anything could be hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting for the right time to strike. Jade swore she could see Viperwolves at the edge of her vision, constantly circling to surround her. It was just when Jade started wondering how she would make a shelter for herself come nightfall when she entered a small clearing. Still wary of homicidal fauna, Jade aimed her Wasp with her right hand and held her knife in her left hand with a reverse grip.
There was an ever-so-slight rustling behind her. Jade whipped around, finger tightening around the trigger. A shape loomed over her, humanoid in shape. Jade just managed to make out that the eight-foot-tall creature had blue skin before her attention was occupied by the club it was swinging two-handed down on her head.