Too Spicy for Eywa
It was simple, the humans and the Na'vi had both abandoned the body. The humans wouldn't bother to look for him in a jungle swarming with "hostiles", especially with their tails between their legs. It had valuable information I could use.
The Na'vi would have only cared about their own dead. It's amusing how idealistically my growing number of human supporters portrays them, while the more cynical aptly realized they were merely projecting their own "Noble Savage" idealizations upon them. A human wasn't real to them, it could never be equal, unless they adopted their beliefs entirely or even discard their bodies. Their own parochial name for themselves "The People" revealed their narrow, limited thinking. They were more like humans then could ever imagine.
I send them unil, dreams. They have endless faith in me, they will come. The tsashik picks me up instantly, do to her training and bloodline, her daughter a moment after.
The marine keeps sleeping.
WAKE UP I hiss loudly, dispensing with the usual airy-fairy mysterious goddess nonsense. I need this information now.
The two women jerk awake, the marine a second after. The Atokirina, my eyes and ears of the forest, hover nearby while they discuss the dream. I try to suppress my impatience.
"It was one of the most powerful dreams Eywa has sent me." Mo'at discusses in hushed tones. "Maybe the most powerful." Neytiri nods in agreement, to talk to Eywa so strongly when you are not even tsahik yet, she shivered a little in the night gloom.
Jake is a little less sensitive, but he can pick up some of the interference, like a radio that isn't tuned to the exact right station. One thing stands out in his mind though: Quaritch.
"I think we need to get him."
Mo'at and Neytiri make hushed noises of protest. Neytiri gets so loud Mo'at shushes her and looks at the forms of sleeping clansman. No one else has awoken…yet.
"In na'ring? In the dark?" Neytiri is worried. Despite Eywa's growing impatience she realizes the girl has a point. Even the Na'vi don't trek in the forest at night if they can avoid it. Maybe she should scale down the predators a bit…
Jake slams his bow into the dark Pandoran soil, then glances at the softly glowing tree. "That unil was very mighty, even I felt it, if Nawm Sa'nok wants us to do something I think we should do it now." The two women take an involuntary step back. If toruk makto insists they would not refuse.
I would laugh to myself if I could. He was almost the perfect pawn. Looking into his life, his memories, it was as if he was perfectly set up to be my follower. His last family dead, his body ruined, his faith in his race shattered and despite the fact that Earth was his home he can't help mentally comparing it's drabness to the bright, pretty lights of Pandora.
Plus he was a warrior, a skilled one, and someone who wasn't so ridiculously culturally bound that he could actually figure out that a damn toruk can't look up.
Broken, useful, ready to be rebuilt by a loving deity.
It's almost too perfect. It makes me wonder if it was set up somehow. My power doesn't extend to Earth, yet, but I wonder what else could be out there, the uneasy recurring thought comes to me: I am just someone else's chess piece?
I dismiss the thought. I am a goddess after all.
Neytiri insists on going, and despite the possible danger, and the love so powerful it almost hurts, he lets her. Despite his ascended status among the Na'vi she does know the forest better than him. It's quite a hike to Quaritch's body.
She swings lightly onto the heavy branch. He follows with a heavier thud. As she jogs lightly she murmurs. "I wonder why she has commanded this?"
Jake catches up to her, his ears twitching. "I've told you the tawtute will return."
"Yes." She shuddered, as if she did not want to think of such things. Her hand moved briefly over her stomach. "So she will take him? Like Grace?"
Her mate shrugged. "I supposed so." He didn't really question deities normally.
Neytiri found the thought disturbing. The afterlife was comforting, she found the idea wonderful, especially after so much death at the hands of the Sky People. Grace was almost one of the people herself. Almost, but not quite, but this man, this Quaritch. The one who nearly killed Jake…she shook again and pushed away the thought of how close he came to dying. He would be united with Eywa for all eternity too?
Beside her Jake considered similar spiritual but slightly more practical questions. When Grace had died, when she had said, "I'm with her", he assumed he soul was inside Eywa now. He hadn't really thought about it but was that what happened? Did souls really exist? Or was it something else?
For that matter how would it work with Quaritch? Was his soul already gone to heaven or hell or wherever humans went? Or nowhere he reminded himself uneasily. He thanked Eywa he was a Na'vi. But could Eywa use the dead Colonel? Or was he just a shell now? It had been, wow, only two days since, only two days, was it really that short? His life had changed forever in two days…An eternity ago, and his mind promptly wandered off at the astonishing turns in his life had taken.
"We are here." Neytiri abruptly announced. She jumped into the clearing and scanned cautiously. Jake jumped down a second behind her.
It still looked the same, the broken shack, the AMP, the thanator was gone though. Neytiri explained that it had been taken away "with great respect" due to its sacrifice. She also told him some of the other clans spoke of her as "Palulukan makto"
Jake approached the AMP suit, trying to gear himself. Why was he so nervous all of a sudden?
The body was still there, surprisingly untouched by predators and rot in the ravenous jungle. He could see the scars gleaming in the Polyphemus light. His head was turned away but the arrow shafts still stuck into him. He knew the horrible frozen mix of outrage and defiance would still be on the Colonel's face. He did not turn the head.
Neytiri looked at the cadaver, more curious than disgusted. Jake told himself that she was assistant tsahik. She was probably used to handling corpses. But something else nagged him.
He was steeling himself to pick Quaritch from the AMP suit when Neytiri matter-of-factly wrenched the rigor-mortis stiffened man out first.
Surprised, Jake stammered out his offer, "I-I'll carry him if you want."
"No" said Neytiri in the same matter-of-fact way. "In the na'ring males need hands free." She recited by rote. Jake realized it was one of the people's rules but was secretly relieved. He would have done it though; he would have done it to protect Kifkey Eywa'evenga. A few weakly glowing vines dangled off Quaritch's corpse.
"You'll soon have company Dr. Grace."
"Oh great, an eternity with Quaritch and his grunts."
I laugh, because I know Dr. Grace is desperate for human company. She only has me, the endlessly chanting Na'vi and the tormented nameless souls I destroyed eons ago for company. I toy with her, and she fights back, she has a strong mind, a surprisingly strong one. In the end she will submit though. An amusing way to pass eternity. The dead soldiers I manage to snare are a bit less interesting, they're no where near as educated as Grace, but through them I'm able to see the universe through something less limiting than Na'vi eyes.
"I've done my best to prevent to much decay, but I expect he's not up to your level Doctor. A pity, I was looking forward to some one as mentally engaging as you."
Grace sputters in indignation but I stop her before she puts together words.
"I realize he probably doesn't have your level of scientific information, but he was intelligent, oh yes he was, he was limited though, by his own prejudices, also by his lack of information. If he knew more, was more of a threat…" I mentally shrug. That's what chess pieces are for; a good player can always rework her strategy.
For this game I will need knights and queen, soldiers and scientists, each has it's worth. Scientist will always be skeptical and detached but they can be won over, even though all I need now is their information. Warriors serve my tangible will, and if Jake is any indication will have the zealotry of new converts.
Some of my thoughts must not be disguised, for Dr. Augustine immediately jumps in "We will never help you, never." Her resolve sounds steely. Time to break her.
"What?" I mock, "you can't help the oh-so-noble Na'vi and their loving mother goddess against the evil, greedy sky people? A little late for that. Besides," I taunt, "I can already see into your mind, anything in that 1400 CC or so skull of yours is mine."
I'm right and she knows it, but anger takes over. "And what can you possibly know?" she fires back.
"At first nothing, I only knew what the Na'vi knew, which wasn't much, but now that I have humans…" I sigh in triumph, gaining her knowledge was wonderful. "Even if I only had the 'grunts' as you call them I would still know that suns eventually die, planets are occasionally hit with space debris powerful enough to wipe out all life, and that there are probably many other habitable worlds in this solar system and beyond. I know that humans are susceptible to charismatic religious leaders, have interstellar travel, annnnd," I draw out the word for dramatic effect, "know how to terraform planets."
She knows this all of course. There's no point hiding anything from her but I twist the knife a little further, "Or should I say, Pandoraform?"
Mo'at did not return to sleep, instead she stayed up praying and meditating to Eywa. Polyphemus was low on the horizon when the couple finally returned.
"We have him!" Jake whisper excitedly, Mo'at spared a glance at the still sleeping camp then the trio quickly hurried to the Tree of Souls.
"Don't we need the chanting thing?" Jake wondered aloud. It felt so weirdly empty.
Mo'at looked up from adjusting Quaritch's body and glanced around the empty sacred place. "No," she grunted, "not needed." At least she didn't think so. Eywa wanted him for some reason, and she didn't think the usual rituals were necessary. Especially for him.
Jake attached his queue. "Eywa he is here."
The reaction was instantaneous, the tree's bioluminescence doubled, than tripled. The weird uncanny growths writhed forward, neon vines on speed, as Jake thought of them. With almost palpable eagerness they began to cocoon around the lifeless body, then greedily probing for the spinal cord, the brain. The tree began to pulse rhythmically, and the three Na'vi felt their hearts beat in time with it.
It just felt so unusual without the chanting, Jake thought, although the tree seemed to be doing fine without it. He wondered if the chanting was needed for Dr. Grace or him at all. Maybe it was just something the Na'vi did to feel better.
The body was lifeless, it would have been easier if he was very recently dead, or dying like Grace (although Grace could have been saved in the Avatar, I just preferred her to stay) but I have done this before. There's always a stray synapse firing, even this long after. I search and probe, he's in great condition, I pump a mild bio-electric shock. He jumps, good, my vines continue to probe and connect.
Jake jumped away in horror, it was wrong on so many levels. He didn't like Quaritch sure but those vines struck him as horribly obscene. Were those the same growths that once covered my body? Those wonderful miraculous vines that were going to give him a wonderful miraculous new life? He couldn't connect the two images.
What was worse was how he was moving, jerking and twisting unnaturally. A corpse marionette. He thought back to the frog he dissected and how it jerked unnaturally when he applied the electricity.
The most horrific of all was his eyes. They were open, and Christ they're moving! But surely not seeing? The colonel's blue eyes were empty and lifeless, but Jake couldn't help but think that they were seeing.
He felt vomiting, he backed away a few steps. He glanced at the two Na'vi beside him. They were fascinated but didn't actually look horrified. For some deep unsettling reason he was appalled to see no horror or fear reflected in Neytiri's face, only curiosity, and Quaritch's voice eerily echoed in his mind, "You think you're one of them?"
I know all the basic parts from Dr. Grace, I want his higher functions his memories. The neurons fire randomly and his leather boots kick in its random rhythm. His lower brain automatically tries to signal basic functions. Heart and lungs expand uselessly around arrow shafts. He is, in the strictest sense, alive, but the organic computer is crashed. He's not really conscious, but no matter, he's intact and I am powerful enough to upload the data.
I don't expect much, he's been dead for two days after all, but as feel that which is Miles Quaritch stream into me something begins to be disturbed, then shocked, then panicked.
Jake felt something was wrong before it actually happened. He realized his queue was still attached, he tried to remove it.
Then the pain drove out all thought and drove him to his knees.
Panic, pain, confusion. Eywa is shocked, befuddled. Grace was amazed, I didn't know we could do that she said to herself before throwing the whole weight of her mind into the battle. She didn't know how it worked exactly but it worked. The humans joined in, and to their surprise, so did a few Na'vi.
Quaritch was just mad as hell. No surprise he would be dragged into the afterlife swinging.
He was horribly confused at first, just as confused as Eywa, but Grace's knowledge suddenly became his knowledge as well. He knew where he was; he knew what he had to do.
So he did was he always did, he fought.
The other minds helped. Eywa was thrown into disarray; this was only one small node in her vast network and having never to fight like this she was driven out, still shocked and reeling. The data she had stored there had suddenly rebelled against her.
Eywa knew what her victims knew, and vice versa, it was an instantaneous unstoppable communication, he knew she would fight back, already she was gathering her strength, but right now he had the tree, and Grace, and a lot of his men. As he explored his new surrounding he found an attachment. He had Sully.
He could feel whatever Eywa was gone, but he could feel Grace and Wainfleet and Trudy, soldiers and pilots, he could feel the Na'vi and-
"Quaritch?" he asked incredulously. The tree refused to let him detach.
Quaritch's presence overwhelmed his mind, nearly took him over.
Jake looked around wildly, sure Quaritch's body was talking, but of course it was not. It was coming directly from the Tree of Souls.
"Guess I was a little too spicy for that over-grown Chia pet you tried to feed me to."
Jake couldn't move. Couldn't speak. He seriously considered cutting off his queue.
The tree pulsed "You're afraid," it mused, "well I guess I should be angry, but funny thing is, I ain't." He seemed thoughtful. Jake could feel Grace's presence, somewhat overshadowed by Quaritch, but there none-the-less. It made him feel better.
He tugged his queue, desperate to escape, "Well is there anything I can do to make it up to you?" failing to keep the bite of sarcasm out of his voice.
The tree pulsed again. "Why yes there is."
"Bring me some more humans."
A/N: After several suggestions I have written this short, slightly silly fic. The title comes from the TV Trope "Too Spicy for Yog-Soggoth", and yes I blatantly used the ending from an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
BRAINS, BRAINS, I won't lie,
I'll eat their brains 'til they're zombified.
Sure they might think it's deranged
But they won't give it a thought
After I've eaten they're brain.
BRAINS, BRAINS, It's okay.
It's not a matter if it isn't gray,
And if at first they thinks it's strange,
They won't think twice
If they don't have a brain!