The Pandora Incident
I can't believe it has been so long since I last created a fanfic. This is in fact only the second I have posted on this site and I am yet to even complete the first! As I am now significantly older than I was when I began writing my first fic, Dark Future, the difference in maturity should come through in my writing and though I will continue to tweak and contribute to that story to bring it up to speed with my current style, I believe this will easily prove to be the better of the two.
Having checked the appropriate crossover section, it seems that I was beaten to the goal of making a 40K/Avatar crossover involving an Imperial invasion of Pandora (Bah, curses!), but I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised as it's such an obvious premise to make if you love the Warhammer 40,000 universe as I do and wanted to capitalise on James Cameron's hit film. I have decided not to look at the other stories before completing this one so I do not consciously or subconsciously plagiarise from them. If you also wished to do a crossover between these two franchises, but have been put off by existing works, I personally would love to see one about a Tyranid Hive Fleet ravaging Pandora. Ok, it would be ridiculously one-sided and probably over in less than two chapters, but I reckon that given the opportunity the Nids would love to contribute Pandora's flora and fauna to the Hive. ;)
In regard to the Avatar timeline in relation to the film, as this story effectively explores the hypothetical question of 'What if Pandora was situated in the Warhammer 40,000 universe?' one should read it with the assumption that nothing in the original film ever occurred and that in this alternate timeline the Na'vi are more or less at the status quo they had before they had ever encountered mankind.
Whilst it almost need not be said, I do not own either the Avatar or Warhammer 40,000 franchises. This legal disclaimer also applies to every other chapter of this fanfic.
Anyway, here is the first chapter and I hope you enjoy it.
Oh, and I express my gratitude to Woodsballer for beta reading!
Chapter One: Dawn of War
The first rays of light crept over the Pandora canopy. Winged Ikran began stirring in their airborne roosts while the giant Angtsìk lumbered through the undergrowth in search of food. Upon the final banishment of night, the jungles pulsed with life as far as Eywa could reach. Yet paradoxical as it may seem there was a certain tranquillity to this early chorus. It was an atmosphere that betrayed the centuries this moon had lay unspoiled. The wondrous beauty of nature could not be more evident than here and now. This was one of the few moments in the day when Tsu'Tey of the Omatikaya clan allowed his battle-hardened heart to soften as he gazed out at the world from his treetop vantage point. Truly Eywa could never allow the spread of taint into this paradise. The moment was shattered with the force of a sledgehammer. Seconds later, Tsu'Tey found himself struggling to remain in his tree as a mysterious wind tore at the canopy from all sides like a pack of ravenous Nantang. Regaining his composure, his eyes darted up just in time to see the dark shape brush overhead. A torrent of questions rushed through his jolted mind. Could it be a Toruk? Impossible – even the mightiest Toruk could never produce such a violent disturbance of the air in its wake.
As the object continued into the distance, Tsu'Tey finally saw its entire form illuminated by the morning Sun. It was obvious enough this was no creature of flesh and blood. The object was of a bulky, solid form and though it sported features vaguely resembling wings and a tail, they made no movement. The source of the turbulence instead appeared to be the two cylindrical oddities mounted into the object's 'back', propelling the ominous body forward. While he could easily be mistaken from such a distance, Tsu'Tey swore several of the features that stood upon its otherwise uniformly dull, green surface were markings, akin to those his own people sometimes drew upon their bodies and clothing. Once it was obvious the alien thing had no interest in him and would only proceed along its aerial path, Tsu'Tey dropped from his perch towards the forest floor, breaking his fall with the leaves as he had mastered from years of experience. Something foul was afoot and Chief Eytukan needed to be informed of this immediately. He had barely made it a quarter of the way down before something in the corner of his eye made him abruptly halt on one of the lower branches. Once more his eyes glanced skyward, but nothing could have prepared him for the sight that greeted them. Here and there, the heavens seemed ablaze. Distant, fiery shapes hurtled towards the surface like the instruments of divine wrath. Tearing his gaze away from this apocalyptic vision, Tsu'Tey continued his journey with doubled haste. Doom had come to Pandora.
'Confirmed, Captain – those floating rock formations definitely mess with our Auspexes. Probably best we avoid them until the Tech Adepts find a way around it. Over.' With that, Lieutenant Tory Akram of the Imperial Navy returned his focus to the course of his Valkyrie gunship as he headed towards the co-ordinates of the forward outpost, awaiting the response from his commanding officer.
'Confirmation received, Lieutenant. Well performed' came the gruff reply seconds later through the headphones of his vox-unit 'Oh, and don't worry. I'm sure the cogboys will be thrilled to prove their worth to the Machine God'. Tory gave a small chuckle at the Captain's uncharacteristic injection of humour. While only just falling within acceptable Navy conduct, he felt he should at least acknowledge the joke's reception and let the old space-dog know it was appreciated.
'Wise words as always, Captain. I'm also sure they'll be thrilled to study those strange minerals they've been droning about since we first got the long-range scan reports of this place'.
'Indeed, Lieutenant. The Foundries of Mars will surely benefit from such a potential fountain of raw material, to say nothing of the Imperium in general. Be sure to report again from the forward base once our Guard friends have finished setting everything up.'
'Yes Sir.' With that, Tory ended their exchange and prepared his landing gear upon spotting his destination on the horizon. Yes, to bring this savage world under the Emperor's banner would truly be an honour. Of course, it likely wouldn't be all that straightforward. After all, there were still the thousands of what appeared to be the only sapient species of this bizarre ecosphere. An entire tribe of these xenos happened to reside directly atop the largest mineral deposit in this region. However, both the orbital reports and his personal observations evidenced them to be an extremely primitive people. Their civilisation did not appear to have advanced much further than stone knives and animal skins. Any resistance they made would swiftly be crushed under the combined guns of the Navy and Guard. Besides, even if their evidently overwhelming numbers led to a worst-case scenario, Tory was contently mindful of the second ship in orbit next to the Righteous Fury or to be more specific, those residing within it.
'So Arch-Magos', began Captain Josef as he stood as regally could be managed considering his present company at the war-room table, 'will your Adepts be able to solve our Auspex issue?'
'Indeed, Captain' was the unemotive response from the hooded, robed figure to his right; metallic limbs hinting at their presence in the dim light. 'The required time is considerably more ambiguous at present, but rest assured that my Tech-Priests will be diligent in their service to the Omnissiah. After all, we have performed miracles under far more pressing circumstances.' Josef only nodded to acknowledge the Machine Cultist's assurances, struggling not to show his inward cringing at the grating, mechanical syllables that were spat out of the voice synthesizer implanted in the senior Tech-Priest's throat. Eager to press on, he turned to address the two Imperial Guard officers seated adjacently.
'Whilst your troops will doubtlessly prove more than capable of fending off the local xeno population, what can you tell me of expected casualty rates should they begin organised resistance?' Colonel Dayvis, the tallest of the pair, immediately scoffed at the question. His bionic eye glowed in a menacing red on the right side of his battle-worn face. In a motion of pride, he brought his fist upon the icon of the Cadian Gate emblazoned on his uniform's breast.
'Captain, we have faced the Ruinous Powers on the cusp of the Eye of Terror itself. Emperor above! With all the support weapons at our disposal, I bet the savages won't even get us in range of their bows!'
'Well Colonel, it's good to see your faith in Cadian discipline has not faded', Josef replied with an amused smirk before shifting his attention to the stoic figure beside him, 'and as for our representatives from Armageddon, Colonel Vek?'
From experience Josef knew Vek to be quite a distant man in character. His rigid face was deathly pale; presumably because his homeworld's punishing atmosphere meant he had spent most of his time in the sealed confines of a Hive city and would have needed to wear a protective mask/rebreather unit whenever he ventured outside. As a result, the Imperial Guard regiments of that hostile world, such as the 19th Armageddon under Vek's command, had a tendency to continue this practice even in environments with perfectly breathable air. Aside from their expertise in mechanised warfare, this unsettling choice of headgear was the most well-known feature of the so-called Steel Legions. After a few seconds of continued silence, Vek's lips finally formed words in his distinct deadpan.
'And what questions can there possibly be, Captain? Unless the xenos have explosive-tipped arrows, I cannot imagine them inflicting more damage on my Chimeras than scratching the paintwork. If my men don't pop up to take a peek, I could have no casualties whatsoever.'
With the two senior officers in obviously confident spirits, Josef only needed the opinion of the war council's final member before he moved on to discuss their strategy. Until now he had stood as a still, silent silhouette opposite Josef at the table. Half of his bulky form was obscured by the murky sea of shadows encircling them. Yet what little was illuminated of the colossal figure proved more than enough to instil reverence and terror alike in all present. Ancient, ebony armour glinted in the dim light, most prominently the metallic, double-headed eagle that lay centred and spread-winged upon its breastplate. While Josef had stood in the presence of the Astartes on many occasions and even fought alongside their vessels in several key battles, he could never feel entirely settled around these Angels of Death. They truly walked as gods among men; the Emperor's will made manifest. Realising that Captain Faucon was not keen to offer his contribution without prompting, Josef redirected the question towards him with the utmost care.
'So Captain, can you provide us with your stance on our situation?'
The stoic Raven Guard's response proved to the point as ever. 'May I remind you, Captain Josef, that you personally witnessed the 7th Company successfully prevent the Tyranid menace from devouring another Imperial world only last week. Believe me when I say the Winged Vengeance expects to return to Deliverance at its current strength in spite of this opportunistic little detour we have taken. Victorus Aut Mortis!'
Nodding in agreement, Josef hurriedly called attention to the strategic layout of the landing region displayed across the screen behind him. Little did he know that many miles beneath his feet, another council of war was being called to session.
'So it is confirmed these flying…things must serve as transport for these creatures?'
'Yes, Mighty Eytukan. The messenger from the Tipani confirms what we have seen. While we already know of the ones that carry small groups of these strangely-clothed beings around in their bellies, there have been reports from the few of our scouts brave enough to approach the roosting grounds of the larger monstrosities swearing they have not only seen entire columns of Sky People emerge from within, but other forms of these accursed non-creatures that move by crawling along the ground instead of flying.'
Chief Eytukan gave a heavy-hearted sigh as he attempted to bring this series of staggering events into consideration. What had begun as a normal day on Pandora had dramatically unfolded into circumstances beyond anything he could have predicted living to witness. It was though the end times spoken of in the ancient tales of his people were finally coming to pass. With a heavy heart he turned to face his mate Mo'at, Tsahik of the Omaticaya, standing beside him. 'Should we assume these strangers from the Great Beyond mean war?' Mo'at cast her eyes downward in sorrow before replying.
'We should wait for them to attempt communication with us, Eytukan, and pray they come in peace. However, it is clear from the magnitude of their landings and the obvious weapons they carry that whatever their goal here, they are more than willing to kill in order to achieve it. However, I doubt that even our bravest warriors could oppose them on equal terms should they strike at our tribe.'
'Then I shall send word to the Ikran Clan of the Eastern Sea and to the Horse Clan of the Plains. The Tipani have already indicated they are willing to co-operate if our survival is at stake.' Mo'at's eyes shot wide open at this suggestion. She had to take several seconds to compose herself before responding to her mate.
'You actually seek to unite the Clans? You know such an achievement has not occurred since the days of the Fifth Toruk Makto! What leads you to believe you can succeed?'
'Because, my beloved, there has never been a moment where our race has faced a danger more apparent than now. I trust my fellow chieftains have realised this and come to the same conclusions that I have on the matter. I shall seek a peaceful solution should the Sky People extend their hand in friendship, but if there can be no alternative to bloodshed the Na'Vi must stand and fight together if we are to weather the oncoming storm.'
So there we have it! If you're wondering why the Catachans are not featured in spite of being the obvious Guard to take on Pandora (it would be just like home to them!) I wanted to establish that this was not a planned campaign by the Imperium. As Faucon makes explicit, the pair of ships discovered the mineral deposits on Pandora by chance while returning from an excursion with the Tyranids elsewhere. Rest assured that they will be mentioned and may even make a later appearance in the story once Imperial reinforcements have arrived. As for my choice of Imperial forces, the Mechanicus were a must as they would probably be the most interested in Pandora's exploitable resources. The Cadians are practically the face of the Imperial Guard and so their presence in the story was essential. The Steel Legion were admittedly somewhat of a perplexing choice, but not only are they one of my favourite Guard variants but their specialisation in mechanised warfare could provide plenty of opportunity to feature Imperial armour in action. Finally I chose the Raven Guard as my Space Marine representation as their fluid style of combat seemed appropriate for the Pandora landscape and their distinct Jump Pack and Lightning Claw-equipped Assault Marines should prove an interesting match for the Na'Vi as far as mobile close-combat is concerned.
Anyway, reviews are welcome as always and I hope you're interested enough to see where I take this!