We have just seen Avatar Jake become Omaticaya. Now, night has fallen. Avatar Jake and Neytiri walk expectantly among the glowing tendrils of the Tree of Voices, exchanging playful glances.
Trudy, who was at the Shack earlier the same day, has returned to Hell's Gate on a supply mission.
INT. SHACK - SAME TIME
Human Jake lies unaware in his link bed. Norm sits at a small table at the opposite end of the Shack. He appears to have been working at one point; a slate-like computer lies on the table in front of him, it's screen aglow with colorful charts and tables of numbers. But Norm, too, is in another world. He stares at infinity through the back of the empty chair on the other side of the table.
Graces lies in her link bed, lid open, reading what appears to be a newspaper on her computer. Suddenly, she lets it flop onto her chest and rolls her eyes at the ceiling.
How does an author, dead one hundred years, still put out a New York Times bestseller? I swear, every goddamn thing is for sale!
She pauses, awaiting a response from Norm, then looks down to see him in his trance.
It's look blue or feel blue around here, isn't it?
(sitting up, sighing)
Only gets worse. But I suppose you figured that out already.
Norm nods, smiles weakly, still staring.
How 'bout a game?
Not like whatever you're thinking, I'm sure.
Grace reaches up high on a shelf and produces a large, beautifully polished square of tree bark.
I probably shouldn't have this, but one of the students thought differently.
Norm's eyes widen as he notes the complete lack of curvature in the wood's grain.
Well... that's what *I* think. Of course, to the Omaticaya, making such a thing from Hometree today would be unimaginable–a crime.
Grace places the wooden game board gently on the table. The top is deeply grooved and set about with colorful stones. It looks very old.
My guess–and that's all it is!–is that this was made from Hometree *before it was* Hometree.
What? Have you dated it?
Grace caresses the surface of the board gently with one finger, momentarily lost in thought, then smiles broadly.
Nahh! And spoil the illusion? Anyway... the game. It's called–
(interrupting, states Na'vi game name)
Grace smiles wryly, nodding.
That's right, Doctor. *You* might just teach *me* something one of these days, you know?
Norm's face goes red with embarrassment.
I used to play this with them–the students–every evening after lessons. Got pretty good at it.
She pauses, scanning Norm as if sizing him up, then begins rearranging the stones into their initial positions as she continues...
Anyway, under the terms of my departure, it seemed unwise to reveal the gift. Or the one who gave it to me.
(in the direction of Jake's link bed)
I had thought about having *him* return it for me, of course. An heirloom like this doesn't belong in a tin can. And now that *she's* the teacher, a token of appreciation would be only fair.
Grace turns back to watch Norm, waiting for him to unravel her clue.
Neytiri? *Neytiri* gave you that?
That's–what?–three for three tonight? You know, I really hope your strategy's as good as your trivia.
You're mocking me.
No, I'm waiting for you to take your turn. Remember? The man–the *boy*–always goes first.
Norm scrambles to grab the colored stones, then suddenly stops.
You just made that up!
Oh just go!
We're looking into the Shack through a window now, watching Grace and Norm play. We can see their lips moving but can't hear them. Camera pans slowly up while zooming wide. The blue ocean of Polyphemus and the sounds of the forest take over. Slowly fade to black.
We know some time has passed.
Back on Grace and Norm, still playing. Norm is slumped into his seat, staring lazily at the game board. Grace leans on her elbows, surveying the board, a cigarette in one hand, her forehead in the other. She looks profoundly irritated. She picks up a stone, moves it to an adjacent space, then flops back in her seat, resigned.
Norm suddenly snaps to attention, grinning. He rubs his hands together dramatically and then moves several pieces to the far edge of the board in one fluid motion.
I'm comin' home, baby!
What did you just call me?
Huh? ... Heh, you wish!
(with a "fuck you" nod)
Well then, age before beauty!
Grace pulls the cigarette to her lips and inhales deeply, then blows the smoke into Norm's face. He turns away quickly, disgusted.
While Norm fans his face with his hand, eyes closed, Grace rearranges several of his game stones. She is executing a game-winning move just as he turns back to look.
Grace's poker-face is impenetrable. Norm searches frantically for the smallest sign, then sighs. Defeated.
Then he wrinkles his nose, sniffing the air.
What's that... smell?
Oh no. Not another DOCTOR Spellman lecture! I'm down to one goddamn cigarette a day. *This* one.
Go take in a little Pandoran air and then come back and tell me this bothers you!
No, no, I mean, something's burning!
Grace looks at her cigarette, then Norm, incredulous.
You know, I'm gonna take back something I said earlier. You already *have* taught me something, Norm: The Ivy League needs to raise its standards!
Grace gets up and starts to walk away angrily. Just then, a popping sound is heard coming from a rack of equipment next to Norm. Both of them turn to look. Several lights in front of Norm's face turn from green to red. He tilts his head, staring at them, puzzled. Thin ribbons of smoke begin curling from nearby vents.
Oh my god! Norm! What...?
Norm opens a maintenance hatch on the front of one of the computer consoles and peers inside. We see his face suddenly illuminated by flames. There is a particularly loud bang. Norm recoils as blackened fragments of circuit boards come cartwheeling out of the hatch, striking him squarely in the forehead.
He claps one hand to his forehead, biting his lip. As he pulls his hand away, we see a tiny smudge of blood above one eye. He blinks, dazed, then turns quickly to look at one of the nearby computer screens.
(quoting the computer readout)
Fault analysis in progress... Link unit two!
Grace runs toward the opposite end of the shack. Norm empties a fire extinguisher into the computer console while shouting the remainder of the fault report to Grace.
Link duplexer: Online. Output amplifier: Online. Instantaneous link bandwidth: Seventy percent of average and dropping. Peak bandwidth: ...Nine hundred thirty-three percent? That's gotta be wrong... Power supply: Offline; failover to auxiliary. There we go. Auxiliary power supply: Online.
Norm pauses to catch his breath, his midsection covered with white powder. Satisfied, he turns to see Grace staring down at Jake with a mixture of concern and intrigue. Norm gets up and walks slowly toward her.
Power supply's gone.
(seeming oddly relieved)
I'll bring up Trudy and have her source a spare...
Norm reaches the place where Grace is standing and joins her in surveying Jake. He is breathing very slowly and his expression is one of absolute relaxation. The faintest hint of a smile is seen.
Least glitchy, eh?
Grace turns to him, not amused.
I pray *to god* that was a glitch, Norm, and so should you.
Grace turns back to Jake, gently closes the lid on his link bed, then slowly walks away, leaving Norm puzzled.
I'll tell you when you're older.