Note: this story begins about six weeks or so after the end of the first movie, when we see Jake and the Na'vi overseeing the departure of the humans at Hell's Gate. The story is basically this: suppose Jake's prayer to Eywa is answered, in a way neither he nor Neytiri can envision? It's my take on the backstory of the Avatar universe and my attempt to answer the question "What happens next?" at the end of the first film. Rated T (there's a little swearing and a little bit of violence) and has the introduction of a major new character, as well as technology not seen in the first film. I don't own Avatar (that's James Cameron and 20th Century Fox who own the copyright) but I do own this story. This story belongs to me, I hold the copyright to this story, and it is copyright ©2010 Liam Wescott. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from me, Liam Wescott.

Chapter 1: In Which We Meet The Man Who Will Save the World

The air is hot, muggy, and if any humans were around, they would have called it oppressive. But there are no humans here, not on this particular patch of Pandoran jungle floor. It is silent, save for the incessant buzzing and humming of various small flying creatures, flitting and darting around amongst the understory. Somewhere off in the distance, there is a troop of Prolemurs prancing around through the trees.

Suddenly, from very far above, there is loud CRACK! sound, like a single clap of thunder, then nothing. The flying creatures continue about their business, ignorant of strange sounds in their world if those sounds didn't represent a threat to them.

A minute or so after the loud sound echoed from above, there came crashing sounds from above, up in the jungle canopy, as though something (or someone) is crashing or falling through the canopy toward the forest floor. Indeed, someone is falling, bouncing somewhat ungracefully down amongst the big leaves and vines of the jungle, slowing his descent until he finally hits a large leaf and then bounces off a large pile of dung left behind by some large Pandoran animal, which further breaks his descent.

He is a Sky Person, a human, a man perhaps in his mid forties, maybe a bit older than that, with a touch of graying hair along his temples, and a professorial demeanor about him. He stands up from the forest floor, and dusts himself off. He is wearing what at first look might have been mistaken as the costume of a superhero but what is actually a wingsuit used by parachutists and BASE jumpers. It's made of tightly-stretched fabric, clearly not real fabric and bright orange in color. It has been scratched and ripped during his descent through the canopy, but the man wearing it is just fine. He is also wearing standard swimming goggles over his eyes, but most noticeably, he is not wearing an exopack.

The man takes a few moments to get out of his wingsuit, dust it off, and fold it up into the little backpack he's wearing. After a moment's reflection, he turns back to the pile of dung, grabs some of it, and rubs it all over his body and his clothes until he's thoroughly covered in dung.

He removes a small, gray object from his pack, presses a couple buttons on its side, looks at its screen, then strides off purposely but very quietly in one particular direction.

The forest floor returns to its solitude.

- SCENE BREAK -

Hell's Gate was quiet this afternoon, Max thought for a moment, as he looked out over the vast landing pads that had once been a hustle of activity. Now they were by and large silent and abandoned, except for a few Na'vi warriors, wandering around here and there, gawking at the size of the human base and its extent, even weeks after almost all of the Sky People were now gone. There were a few of the Samsons and other aircraft that had survived the war, but these were not in use right now.

Hell's Gate was a lot quieter now, and he liked that just fine. Now all he had to do was figure out what to do with the rest of his life. He couldn't go back to Earth, not after what the RDA had done here and after they'd been kicked off this world for good, he hoped. If Max ever did manage to get back to Earth, he was sure he'd either be killed on the spot or arrested as a traitor. So, now he had the great privilege of living on Pandora, doing research in a human compound where there were few humans left, having to wear an exopack every time he wanted to venture outside this building, on a world that humans were not supposed to be on in the first place. That exopack reminded him every day that he should never have been here at all. If there was a way to get rid of that damn thing, he thought for a moment, then he'd do it in a heartbeat.

He was about to turn around and leave the landing pad to its solitude when the intercom on the wall buzzed. Someone wanted to talk to him? He pressed the comm button next to it.

"Max," it was Judy, one of the technicians who had stayed behind after the rest of the humans had left weeks earlier. She sounded concerned.

"Yes," he said, "what's up?"

"There's a man here to see you. He's says his name is Jerry Handelman and he says you know him. He says he has an urgent message to give to Jake and Neytiri, but he needs to talk to you first."

Jerry Handelman, the physicist? What the hell was he doing here? How the hell did he get here? Max thought randomly for a moment or two.

"Jerry Handelman? Where did he come from?" Max replied, incredulous. "I thought he was supposed to be teaching, back on Earth? How did he get here?"

"You do know him, then?" Judy asked, "he just showed up at the front gate a few minutes ago, asking to see one of the humans here. The Na'vi at the front gate let him in and escorted him to me, which is when he asked to see you. He says it is urgent."

"I will be right down." Max said, utterly mystified at this point.

How had Jerry Handelman gotten all the way out here? Was there a shuttle they didn't know about? What was going on here?

- SCENE BREAK -

Jerry Handelman turned out to be a bit disheveled, but still looked like the same overgrown kid Max remembered from the last time he'd seen Handelman. It was at a scientific conference in Munich, something to do with quantum physics or computers, or something like that. Handelman had his fingers in both the physics and computer worlds, so it was no surprise if it had been both.

But that had been almost twelve years ago or so, right before Max had come out here, when Handelman must have been in his early or mid thirties, Max couldn't remember exactly how old Jerry had been at the time. It was about ten years or so after he'd gotten his Nobel Prize in physics, that fact Max could remember, when Jerry's name and face were all over the news for his discoveries about quantum entanglement and string theory.

He'd gotten older, Max saw, but he still had the gleam in his eye of the kid who'd never outgrown his childhood sense of wonder at the world.

Today, however, that gleam was dulled. Jerry clearly had not had much sleep in the past few days and he looked more than a bit haggard.

Max greeted him warmly just the same. "Jerry, it's been a while! Twenty years, at least? What are you doing here?"

Handelman too his hand and shook it almost by rote, as though he was functioning on autopilot.

"Max. There isn't time for niceties. I have to talk to Jake and Neytiri soonest. I have a message I have to deliver to Eywa but I need to talk to the both of them first. Can you get in touch with them?"

"Sure." Max said, "Jake has a radio comm set with him at the new Hometree he and Neytiri found for the Omaticaya clan. The clan's been moving to that tree for the past week. It's between here and the Tree of Souls, about a third of the way from here to the Tree of Souls. Norm is out there helping the clan move today."

"Good," said Handelman, clearly agitated. "Call them up and have them come here soonest!"

"I will, Jerry. I will. But I have to ask again, what are you doing here and how the hell did you get here?" Max said, suddenly noticing that Jerry was not wearing an exopack of any kind nor was he wearing any sort of breathing apparatus at all.

"Where's your exopack?" he asked, as the implications began to dawn on him, the surreal weirdness of the moment finally catching up to him.

"I don't need one. I will explain later. Right now, you need to get me Jake and Neytiri so I can talk to them. I will explain how I got here too, once you and I talk to Jake and Neytiri. As for what I'm doing here, that's simple enough. I'm here to save the world."