- There is a disclaimer here. Trust me, I'm a programmer. -
Epilogue: Pandoran Winter
Date: January 20th, 2173
Location: Omaticaya Kelutral, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
"My Jake, he is your son as well!" she hissed quietly at her mate, tail still despite her anger, as the two slowly walked together, alone but for the trees.
"That does not mean that I approve of the path that he is set on!" he hissed back, "Why does he insist on hating the sky people so, even though I used to be one, even though they saved your life, even though they have abided by the restrictions that they placed upon themselves!?"
She sighed and turned to stare at her sxkwang, "Because he knows that he will never live up to his namesake, that he will never not be eclipsed by your Toruk. Because he still blames them for my wounds, and the scars upon Eywa."
Her mate sighed and stopped next to her, leaning forwards to rest his forhead against hers, "I know, I know. But doesn't he also see how many fell trying to fight them? How terrible their weapons were?"
A wan smile curved her mouth as she gently kissed him, "Your own bravery and mind betrayed you there. Tsu'tey told me this morning that he believes that had the others not rushed into the battle, your methods of fighting would have seen the sky people slain and routed in due time, that the other Olo'eyktan and Tsahik should have listened to your wisdom."
Jake laughed without humor, shaking his head and sitting on the forest floor beside her. "Hoisted by my own petard." the inglisi came haltingly from his lips, as it so often did, the strange phrase's exact meaning escaped her, but she knew her Jake well enough by now to recognize sadness deep within him.
Kneeling slowly, she carefully held him in her arms before slowly joining him in tsaheylu, accepting his pain as her own, feeling him gasp as her own calm washed through their link to him.
The two sat, entwined, unmoving, letting their emotions slowly roll between them, letting the sadness and anxiety of their eldest son's actions wash away beneath the weight of their love.
Long after the sun had begun to set, they slowly and reluctantly broke apart, moving hand in hand back towards the kelutral, nodding at the hunters slowly returning to their home for the night, some carrying kills upon their backs.
Talking easily with the hunters about the day's kills as they prepared them was a further relaxation, pushing the dark thoughts of the future away in exchange for the placidity of the work and talk.
After helping clean and prepare a yerik for the night's feast, the two settled in next to a fire, smiling as they watched the meat slowly cook.
Mo'at joined them shortly, her elderly face betraying none of the small aches and pains that old age brought as she settled down next to them.
"Max'patel sends his greetings." she began after the three exchanged their normal greetings, "And wishes to tell you that everything is still fine at the sky people's homes."
"That is good news." Jake reached out, beginning to work off a piece of meat for the three to share. "And how did your visit to Eywa go?"
"The Great Mother seems well, and the balance of life in the area seems to be restored once more." there was a contentment in the way she smiled that reassured Neytiri, "We saw many nantang cubs playing in the woods near the great tree, my old heart was warmed by the sight. The sky people warriors with us said it was like watching the cubs of creatures from their homeworld, albeit ones with more legs."
"Wolves." her Jake grunted, "The sky people call the nantang Viper-Wolves because of how similar they are. The hunt and act much the same."
"How strange." her mother murmured, before nodding and accepting the piece of meat offered to her.
Any further discussion on the matter was silenced by a delighted shout, "Mother!"
Two small children stumbled along, tails swishing in excitement, and she grinned fiercely at her young children as they leaped at her. Any attempt at eating was thrown from her mind as she laughed and held her twin daughters, smiling as a tired looking Peyral stumbled into the light of the cooking fire.
"Ah, good, they have found you, perhaps I may sleep now? Her friend asked, sounding as tired as she looked.
"What's the matter?" her mate positively cooed at the esteemed hunter, "Taking care of two tiny children too much for the hunter who slew a palulukan?"
"Not any children, just your children Olo'eyktan. They could tire even the strongest Pa'li." she smiled wanly, gratefully accepting a slice of meat and digging in.
For her part, Netyiri smiled and laughed at the customary banter, her children laughing with her before leaping from her arms and attempting to tackle their father.
Tsu'tey emerged amidst the frivolity, his serious face softened by a grin as he watched his father 'fight' against his younger sisters.
And for just one night, they were simply another family of Na'vi, smiling and playing underneath the great boughs of their kelutral, not minding the darkening future that they knew would one day come.
Date: January 20th, 2173
Location: Tartarus, Pandora, Alpha Centauri A System
He was dead.
He knew that he was dead.
The question merely was how he was going to die.
Ok, so he shouldn't have had so much to drink the previous night.
Ok, so he should have known better than to get into a drunken argument with Thomes over the last-second goal that had seen his team defeat hers, yet again.
Now, he was staring blankly at the ceiling above the bunk in his room, having already seen not only the disaster that his room had somehow turned into, but also the sleeping blonde form directly next to him.
He had already tried to flee the scene of the crime, only to find that one of his arms was pinned underneath of her, and to belatedly realize that she would still wake up, without any clothes on, in what was obviously his room, and that running would only increase the level of pain he would suffer before he died.
Part of him recognized that he was being overly dramatic about the situation, but his hangover fogged brain was utterly avoiding that fact as it fought to find a way out of the situation.
A long groan came from next to him, and he froze utterly.
Please let her still be drunk somehow, something, anything! He thought frantically.
The groan cut-off suddenly, the warm body pressed against him stiffening.
"Parker?" her voice was hoarse.
It took him a while to find his voice, "Yes?"
A long pause, "Did we..?"
"I.. I think so."
Another long pause. "Close your eyes. I'm going to dress, and leave. If you tell anyone about this, I will drag you up to the Dream and airlock you."
He could only nod, keeping his eyes closed as the warmth of her presence moved away, quick rustling of clothing and soft cursing filled the small room before the door opened and shut.
Cautiously, he opened his eyes and glanced around.
"Oh thank god." he collapsed back in his bunk, the panic fading and reality slowly returning.
He had slept with Maria Thomes, resident commander in chief and all-around ice queen.
Briefings are going to be awkward for a very long time. He thought to himself, slowly disentangling his body from the sheets and stumbling into the shower.
After freshening up and finding his clothes, he set to work cleaning the place up. He had no idea what the two of them had done during their drunken tryst, but it had torn his room apart. Part of him was cursing the fact that he couldn't remember a thing, after all, though her personality could border on grating, she was quite attractive. The other half of his mind was still firmly in denial, utterly certain that she would carry out her threat and that the best way to overcome this situation was to pretend it never happened.
At least he could still remember enough about the game the previous night, and at least the first half of the party that had destroyed most of their illicit stock of alcohol, to be able to talk intelligibly about it with his equally hungover, and far more cheery, mining team members as he made his way to the cafeteria for breakfast.
"Bacon." one of the soldiers ahead of him practically salivated over the word as the smell drifted into the corridor, and everyone who had not yet eaten quickened their pace.
After standing in line for far too long, he took a seat, eagerly wolfing down the bacon, though undoubtedly artificial, it was still excellent, and sipping coffee as he glanced around the packed room.
He caught Thomes' eye as she ate her breakfast from a table on the other side of the room, and they both quickly found reasons to glance elsewhere.
Still, he had to smile as everyone talked animatedly about the night before, men and women pounding the backs and congratulating members of both teams when they sat to eat.
He smiled and waved to a group of his miners as they left the room, a chorus of "Morning Sir!" echoing in the crowded space as they raced to guzzle some coffee before heading out to the mine. Awkwardness of this morning aside, it was a rather pleasant evening. An exciting game, a wild party, just what the men needed to welcome the new guys and girls and to try and forget just where we are and the dangers we face.
Settling back into his chair, he slowly continued eating, concentrating on enjoying the food as much as he could. Experience had taught him that you enjoyed what moments you could on this god-forsaken moon, because terror and madness was always right around the corner.
End – Semper Victoria (Always Victory)
Well, that was good times, hope everyone enjoyed the ride and liked my first attempt at a structured story. It turned out to be both much longer and much more popular than I ever imagined it would be, so special thanks go out to everyone who read, and double-thanks to everyone who reviewed.
I hope that my attempt at portraying a balanced na'vi and humanity came across well, expect more from the na'vi point of view in the upcoming sequel, though I won't be cutting back any of the level of human development.
Again, thank you to all reviewers, you made me enjoy writing this fic.