A Novel By: A.R. Fredrick
Based on the characters in Avatar, Created by: James Cameron
Archive: With Permission Only
Chapter Rating: R
Author's Note: I'll keep this brief, because you're here to read, not listen to me talk. This is the prologue to a story that was previously published. I've edited it and expanded the original narration of this chapter with an additional 200 words. I believe that this version is better than what was released previously and am offering it to you now as the start of a fully edited and expanded version of a story that was released just days after the movie was originally released in the cinema. Chapter revisions will continue from this point and the story will grow until it is completed. If you enjoy my writing, I'd invite you to keep tabs on my profile, which will have links to my other Fan-Fiction, as well as an original work I'm planning to release on Fiction Press. Comments are warmly welcomed, regardless of their content.
Prologue: More than Human
I heard screaming in the distance. Screaming that was endless, someone was beckoning to me, calling me to them and I wondered, why? I felt light and at ease. As if nothing could touch me, or hurt me anymore. Right now I couldn't really see anything, but the darkness doesn't bother me, because it is as warm as the embrace of a loving woman.
The darkness is getting brighter and the screaming is getting louder. Gosh, it is really giving me a headache, why don't they just hold the ruckus down a bit? Man, can't a guy catch some rack time without it becoming a capital offense?
Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. My lungs were burning for oxygen and it felt as if there were shards of glass rattling around in my respiratory system. I was suffocating and I didn't even know where the hell I was, it is still too dark and I can't see a damn thing here.
"Jake!" A voice called to me through the darkness.
I wanted to reply, to let it know that I'm here, though I didn't know exactly where here was. I couldn't breathe, I struggled to take a deep lungful of air, but it is burning my throat and though I could feel the gases enter my lungs, they did not quench my need for oxygen.
There is noise now. Someone crashing and banging around. I could hear someone crying. Why are they crying...? There is no need to cry... My lungs aren't burning as much now, and I'm starting to feel light again. It'll be okay soon I guess.
I felt myself moving, floating up through the darkness, but it is not by my own accord. Someone was lifting me up. I felt warm droplets hitting my face. Are those tears? Is someone still crying? They aren't my tears... I can't cry... I can't even breathe.
Something is covering my face now, I could smell the astringent and plastic scent of recycled air. I let my lungs take a tentative sip of it at first, because it is possible that it is a ploy, some sort of trick that someone is playing. Maybe there is really no air, maybe they're just playing games with me.
But, although the air is recycled, it is refreshing and it caressed the alveoli in my lungs with a sweet tenderness that I had never known before. My head is starting to clear a little bit now, and I started to remember what the hell happened. Crap, I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks, I hadn't felt this shitty since basic training back in boot camp.
The darkness is receding now and I could finally see. Neytiri is above me, and she is cradling me in her arms like an ethereal guardian angel. There are streaks through her white war paint and I realized that she had been crying. I wanted to ask her why, but I still cannot find enough air to form a few simple syllables.
The re-breather on my face, that is where the oxygen was coming from, but it needed to be fully activated in order for me to communicate. Knowing this, I reached up and grasped the mask with both hands, positioning it and simultaneously activating the vacuum seal that would protect me from the harsh atmosphere of Pandora, and allow me to breathe as freely as possible with the aid of the device.
Fully activated, oxygen whooshed into the facial cavity provided by the mask, and I gulped greedily at the precious gas, knowing that without it I would surely be dead by now. But more than that, I know that Neytiri was my true savior...
I remembered struggling with Colonel Quaritch, we were both fighting for survival and for what we believed in, but the man knew that with his airships destroyed and his ground support fleeing the fight was lost. At this point, things had become one giant showdown to determine who was superior. Human and machine, or the genetic skills of the RDA and the body of my Avatar. I thought I had struck him a devastating blow when I leapt from a tree and drove the standard issue bayonet of his AMP Suit through the Plexiglas shell of its cockpit.
But, true to his reputation, the man had balls of steel and he was determined not to surrender. As I jumped away to the forest floor and turned expecting him to topple, I was surprised to see him turning to face me. He had pulled the bayonet free of the Plexiglas, and was using the momentum the AMP Suit delivered, to hurl the giant steel cleaver at me. I barely had time to duck and avoid having my head lobbed off by the blade, I turned to follow the path of the weapon in time to see it slam into the metal shell of the research bunker. It had partially struck one of the few windows, as if it were a giant bullseye and I saw the Plexiglas spiderweb. I felt a bit of anxiety bubble up in my chest. If the interior of the bunker were exposed to the atmosphere, I was toast.
Turning back to Quaritch, I was able to spare a few bare seconds to glance at Neytiri as she struggled to free herself from the crushing bulk of the Thanator, but those few seconds almost cost me as I turned back to face the gunmetal gray AMP Suit. The mechanical marionette rushed forward swinging a wild right hook at my chest, which I was able to scramble under the arc of and cleanly avoid. However, I knew Quaritch wasn't done, as I heard him grunt in frustration and follow up with a lazy left swing as he turned to face me. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say he didn't fancy me scoping out his backside.
"Come on!" Quaritch bellowed it rage, trying to egg me on even further. Hell, I hardly needed any invitation to pound on the worthless swine. As I stood crouched and ready to jump at him, the shattered Plexiglas cockpit flew up into the sky with a blast of compressed gas, leave it to the maniacal bastard to imitate a jack-in-the-box and surprise me in the middle of a fight. The transparent carcass flew through the air straight for me, and as I gauged its trajectory, I realized that Quaritch was trying to catch me off guard. Unwilling to give him the satisfaction I feinted to the right as the shell flew past me, and though I appeared to be caught off guard, I tensed my muscles for the next attack.
I watched as the elderly warmonger struggled to put the re-breather integrated into the AMP over his face and activate the oxygen flow. Though I knew he was helpless during this time, I had decided that I would not defeat him using his own underhanded tactics, so as he readied himself to continue our little dance of death, I pulled the hunting knife Neytiri had given me free of its sheath, which rested on a bandoleer slung over my chest.
"Hey Sully, how does it feel to betray your own race?" Quaritch asked me with a cocky smirk and hate-filled eyes.
The indignant genocidal monster had the nerve to question my loyalties and motives?
This was about more than race, or ideal, or creed, or culture, this was about right and wrong. Good and evil. Maybe for the Colonel it was simpler than that. Maybe he believed that the Na'vi were nothing more than brainless savages. Regardless of his beliefs, they had done nothing to deserve the hell and misery he had rained down upon them.
I was so overcome with anger that I could not even form a cognitive sentence or proper rebuttal to his taunt. I felt the rage well up inside of me and overflow like rain waters spilling forth from an aging dam. I did what came naturally to me then, as it did to all Na'vi, and I hissed at the man, who was the source of my anger and the current face of the blight that had befallen this once peaceful world.
"You think you're one of them?" He asked in a mocking tone. "Time to wake up!"
His back was to the research bunker and then, with a sudden fluid motion, he had turned to charge at the metal structure.
Previously trapped in my broken Human body, I had been unable to operate an AMP Suit for quite some time, as my disability had prevented me from using the device, and as a result of that I was completely unprepared for his sudden movement.
Cursing my own stupidity, I ran after him and dived headfirst at the metal behemoth. I jumped up and onto its back mere seconds after he had broken through the previously damaged glass and began to demolish the building. My muscles were tense, and I struggled to stay latched onto the over-sized mechanical bull as I climbed higher up its back.
I was now perched precariously on the back of the iron mechanoid, hovering over my foe like a vulture in search of carrion. Quaritch was vulnerable in the cockpit below me and I was close enough to reach out and touch him. The clarity I was afforded by my proximity to him was amazing and despite the gravity of the situation I was startled by my heightened senses. It was unnerving to see the dandruff clinging to his tightly cropped gray hair, or to be able to trace the silverly lines of the puckered scars that ran through his scalp, across his cheek and disappeared beneath his re-breather. Worse than that, I could smell the cloying scent the clung to him, it was a noxious mix of charred ash, old soap, coffee, sweat and gasoline that emanated from the man.
Being this close to him was more of a double-edged sword than I had previously realized, I had a shot at him and the means to take it, but even as I pulled my blade back in a fierce arc, Quaritch moved away from his impromptu demolition site, intent on trying to either shake me loose, or grab hold of me with his mechanized appendages.
Behind us, the environmental alarms were blaring, their klaxon gave me a grim reminder that he had breached the hull of the research structure and condemned my Human body to a slow and painful death. I had no choice but to end this quickly, I was running out of time. I roared at Quaritch and took aim at his head, bringing my knife down in a swift motion, I hoped and prayed that it would plunge into his skull as if it were nothing more than warm butter. But, I was denied even that, since he craned his neck to the side just in time to avoid the blow. As a result my blade, which I relied on as my last line of defense, got lodged in the headrest of the AMP suit.
The deranged Colonel had spent his entire tour on Pandora honing his skills, he worked to become feral and predatory enough to rival any beast that crawled through the bush. It showed, because when the man saw a chance at an opening, he pounced on it as quickly as a Nantang moving in for the kill.
He grabbed hold of me and opted to play dirty, he seized my hair and yanked hard. Once again, I was unprepared for his swift movements and not able to stand the pain as he pried me off of his back and propelled me through the air, as if I were nothing more than a sack of potatoes. I hit the ground hard and slid back several feet, air escaped my lungs upon impact and I felt something sharp pierce my side. My scalp and my shoulder throbbed together in a symphony of agony and I found myself wishing that they would not repeat the chorus, but I knew I would not be so lucky.
I clutched at my side instinctively as I struggled to get back to my feet, cradling the flesh as if I were mortally wounded and wishing I still had the door gun from Trudy's Samson, so I could put a few rounds into the fiendish military man. Though I wanted to take the offensive, it appeared that things were about to get more dire, as my luck was in a shorter supply than I previously imagined.
I started choking as I drew my next breath, but the feeling was disorientating, as I could also taste the sweet and earthy Pandoran air that I had grown accustomed to while I occupied my Avatar. I knew it was feedback from my Human body, which was starting to suffocate inside of the POD which protected it. The duology of my existence was now a greater threat to me than it ever had been before, as I could do nothing to prevent the poisonous atmosphere from flooding the research bunker.
I became dizzy and struggled to keep my focus as Quaritch lumbered toward me, but the world was becoming fuzzy and unfocused. Reality swam in a haze of color and my peripheral vision grew dark and started to fade. I tried to stay upright, but I lost my balance and fell to the ground. My perception was thrown for a loop as soon as I hit the forest floor, as suddenly I was conscious and within my Human body once more. I smelled the acidic atmosphere around me, and the stench of my own sweat, as my eyes opened and I saw the interior of the POD. I was dying, but I had to keep fighting. If I failed, Quaritch would still be free to wreak havoc. Worse than that, Neytiri would have to face him alone, and I feared for her safety above all else. The pain was great and my lungs screamed at me for merciful air, but I ignored them, and closed my eyes, willing the up-link to my Avatar body to reconnect me with its fallen form.
A myriad of colors collided with my senses and once more my Na'vi eyes snapped open. I glanced up just in time to see Quaritch come in for the kill. His mechanized puppet lurched forward and grabbed me by the hair once more, entangling my braid and my queue within his clutches. It was a fiery pain that made me see stars, and I screamed in withering misery. Worse yet, was my mind telling me that I was choking and should not be capable of such a vocal outcry, shuddering gasps came with that realization.
Quaritch hauled me up to face him and try as I might, my hands could not loosen the grip of the AMP Suit, the pain was so intense that I had to clutch onto its fist to anchor myself, while simultaneously trying to pry myself free. The grizzled Colonel turned my body to face him, studying me as if I were some unnatural result of a heinous experiment gone wrong. His left arm was held high, while his right reached behind his head to grasp the hilt of my knife, and wrench it free from the now dismembered headrest. The AMP Suit was mimicking his motions the entire time, as if they were both partners in some morbid ballet.
He gazed at me with a hauntingly cold look and I stared back at him with as fiery of a gaze as I could muster. But, I was almost completely spent and strangely disoriented, as I could feel the pain of my Human lungs and the pain of my Avatar body at the same time. The Human part of my was gasping for air, like a fish out of water, but I tried to ignore it and desperately searched for a way to strike back at the military monster that I had once respected.
My tail flailed behind me in useless agitation and I was preparing to use whatever small leverage I could manage to rear back, hoping to swing forward and deliver a punishing kick to the man. But as he traded glances with me and the wicked blade of my hunting knife, I knew that the sands of time were slipping through my fingers, never to be recaptured. He brought the curved instrument to my throat and I readied myself for what would come next...
I heard the whistle of an arrow's fletching as it flew through the air, by the sound of it, the projectile was coming up fast from behind me. I prayed it would fly true and was rewarded by my faith mere seconds later, as the arrow embedded itself in the Colonel's chest. Shock and disbelief crossed his face as he lost his grip on me and I fell once more to the forest floor.
My vision swam again and my memories became disjointed after that.
I saw a second arrow shatter the AMP Suit's HUD and hit Quaritch in the chest, probably in the heart...
I saw a feral grin cross his face as he let go of the trappings of his life and fell down dead...
I heard the AMP exoskeleton crash to the ground with a screeching thud...
And then I was back in my Human body... I remembered throwing opening the hood of my POD, the struggle to sit up in the gel mattress. I pushed my wheelchair out of the way, letting my torso fall toward the floor of the bunker. I used my left arm to support myself, while my right arm strained to reach the emergency re-breather unit across from me. I could see the mask, my fingertips just inches away from the clear box that housed my respiratory salvation.
I was desperate, it was if my lungs were filled with molten fire, and it was burning me from the inside out. The scorching pain of suffocation caused me to make one more futile lunge for the mask, but it was of no use...
I fell on my back to the bunker floor and lay there dying...
I tried once more to muscle up, got onto my stomach, grasped for any handhold that gave me leverage, and pulled myself up toward the emergency re-breather, I pushed past the clear vinyl flap and grabbed that damnable mask, but despite all of that effort, my world was fading and I could no longer hold on...
Then there was blackness...
But that was all before. Here and now, I am still laying in Neytiri's arms. The sunlight streaming in from outside danced on her indigo skin and seemed to give her face a beautiful shimmering quality that left me breathless once more. Despite all of the conflict, all of the pain and all of the horror, her beauty still had the power to stop me in my tracks and leave me taken aback.
Aware that I was breathing and staring at her, her tears were forgotten. She smiled at me shyly, seeing my Human form for the first time. For a moment I felt fear and uncertainty, while it was true that she had known I was a Dreamwalker, would seeing my true form cause her to recoil? Would it change her feelings for me? Holding these worrisome questions in my heart, I looked up at her more closely.
In the end, her eyes betrayed her true feelings. As I looked into them and pondered their hue, wondering if their color resembled honey or daffodil petals more, I did not see hate or disgust, but the same innocent and compassionate love I had always known from her. I reached up with my left hand to caress the cheek of my warrior princess and her skin felt just as soft, and as warm as it always had. Her graceful blue hand enveloped my pale white one, and her tears fell once more, landing on my black t-shirt and tickling my chest.
Now, you've gotta understand that I've never been a poet, or some sort of suave ladies man, so I was a little dumbfounded. What could I say to her now, after everything? But even while questioning myself, I knew the answer.
"I see you," the greeting came out in little more than a scratchy murmur, but it was heartfelt. Her smile brightened, like a newly shining star, and I realized that somehow I did not muck things up.
"I see you," Neytiri replied.