Avatar: Actions of the Son
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to this fantastic movie. All my limited knowledge of Pandora and it's inhabitants are from books and the movie. If I did, the movie would have more respect for the military. Since I'm not proficient in describing how people look, I will use actors to describe my characters. Russell is played by Denzel Washington, Ninat by Aishwarya Rai, Candice by Eva Mendez, Clara by Natalie Portman, Okta by Xibit, Peyral by Sophie Marcaeu, and all other characters are as they were in the movie.
Corporal Donald Nathaniel Quaritch was excited. He paced the hallways of the Valkyrie Shuttle, his fighting knives rattling in their sheathes.
He was over six feet tall, and was built like a fighter and a runner. His body almost mirrored his father's, except Don's hair was black, but the main difference between them were their eyes and face. His father had eyes the color of light blue steel, emotionless and intimidating, but Don's were sea-blue, deep and warm. Don was far more like his mother in his personality. Like her, Don was a quiet and introverted man, a dedicated environmentalist, and he had a belief that each universe had a different god, and he assumed that Eywa was the god of Pandora like Christ was to earth.
He was a sharp tactician and a budding philosopher who preferred nature to people. People who didn't know him were afraid of him because of his father, Miles. Despite his preference to nature, Don would go out of his way to protect and help anyone who asked him for it. He was a direct opposite from his father, who never helped anyone if he could help it. Don hated being called Mile's son, and was dedicated to reversing the damage his father had wrought on Earth and on Pandora, which was no small task.
Don's face was less angular than his father's face, giving the young man a permanently youthful appearance. The young 23 year-old from Colorado couldn't wait to get off this ship, but he told himself to be calm. Pandora wasn't the safest place in the galaxy.
After years of studying Pandora and the Na'vi, he was being sent by the newly formed Global Military Council to clear up the mess created by his own father. The irony that his father attempted to destroy what was most important to Don never was something Don never forgave or forgot. But then again, the old mercenary never did care about anything except money. When Don was only 12, his father had left him and his mother to pursue a career as a mercenary.
As a child, Don had feared his father, but had no love for the man. The old man never showed him or his mother that he cared for them, and the only legacy Don had of his father was an expertise in weapons and hand-to-hand combat. Don, like his mother, grew up loving Pandora, the beautiful but terrible planet that was their only hope. After she died from a heart-attack caused by Earth's pollution, Don fooled his father by using his father's connections to join the military, and rise in the ranks. During this time, his father was sent to Pandora, mistakenly thinking that his son would become a mercenary. When he heard what happened to his father and the RDA on Pandora, Don knew what was going to happen, and it did. The RDA, which had had power for so many years, crumbled in less than two months, thanks to environmentalist videos of the battle of Pandora, of which Don had a part in.
The resulting power vacuum was avoided by the global military, who took power over much of the planet. Don was pleased when the military announced that they would support peaceful contact with the Na'vi, and was twice as pleased when Don was ordered to Pandora to "make peace with the Na'vi by any means possible." Don was skeptical about the GMC's motives, but figured out that the environmentalists were in control of the military.
Don was also told that the military had compromised with the Na'vi by sending soldiers that actually knew about Pandora. In just two years, humanity had changed for the better. It was about time! Don was chosen to be the head scout of these troops, which numbered about five dozen. Don, after all, had graduated valedictorian in Pandoran Biology and Sociology, and had the sharpest eye-sight in his class. He rarely flew planes, despite being a graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. The higher-ups obviously wanted someone who could make peace with the Na'vi, and he would do just that. After he refused the job of Commander, they decided that he would be a avatar scout. He looked down when the radio chirped, and listened: "Corporal, we are approaching Hell's Gate, ETA ten minutes." Don smiled. "Thank you, Sir. Tell the men to get ready. I'll be there in a moment." He answered, his western accent obvious. He turned, and walked into the cargo bay, which was full of equipment, weapons, and supplies. All of the men were there, putting on their breathing masks and checking their weapons. "All right, gentlemen! Remember the rules: do not shoot unless fired upon, respect the natives, and leave the scientists alone." The reply was immediate. "Yes, sir!"
Commander Russell Paige, a tall African-American who had been placed in charge of the men, walked up to him. He was well-built and bald, and was a cheerful and reliable man. He was older than Don, and he had the respect of all the men, including Don's. He was a tough, but fair man, and loved Pandora, but was more interested in commanding men. The two men were immediately friends when they had met, and were now like brothers. "Ready for this, Mustang?" Don grinned back. The nickname came from his experience with the almost-extinct wild horses on earth. "You bet, Sir!" After ten minutes, the plane landed, and the doors to the cargo bay opened. "Let's move, people! We have alot of work to do!" Russell shouted as he stepped out onto the cement path that was the ground of Hell's Gate.
There was already several people waiting for them, and Don recognized a few faces he had been shown in his briefing. Max Patel, a tall dark-skinned man with short curly black hair, wearing a polo shirt and jeans, was one of them. Don also recognized the tall, thin, brown-haired man next to him: Norm Spellman, the leader of the 'Avatar' project. A few other people were among them, but Don didn't recognize them. Russell saluted the small group. "Ladies and gentlemen, I come in peace." The scientists weren't impressed. John heard one snort.
Doctor Patel silenced the one who had scoffed with a quick glare. "Captain Paige, I've heard good things about you. Your record for environmental preservation is amazing considering your background." Russell nodded. "Thanks, Doctor. If you know who I am, then you know why we are here." Max shook his head, and Russell described the recent events on earth and his orders.
Max looked shocked. "This is fantastic news! Jake will be happy to hear this, and so will the Na'vi. In fact, they will be here soon." Don exchanged a glance with Russell. Jake Sully, former marine and traitor to the humans, was well known to both men, owing to a huge class paper that focused on the man. "How the hell did they know?" Don asked, and Norm answered, "Apparently, the Tsahik had a vision about your arrival. You caused a great commotion in the tribe. Is it true that Unobtainium was replaced by electricity, and that earth is slowly turning green again?" Russell nodded. "Slowly but surely, Mr. Spellman. The military is concerning itself with rebuilding earth, and we have made progress." Norm grinned hugely.
After exchanging greetings, Max took charge, and showed the soldiers were to put their stuff, then showed Russell and Don around the base. The captain was impressed that a bunch of scientists had been able to hold the position. These scientists knew their stuff! "Can I ask you a question?" Max asked Don, and Don nodded. "What was Quaritch like? Was he any different than he seemed to be to us?" Don flinched. "I think you guys got to know him well enough." He said, trying to keep his voice controlled. "It didn't seem as if he loved anything except money." Max said, and Don nodded. "Accurate statement. My Mom and me were extra baggage to him. I'm a production of a one night stand. My mother was nothing like him. She loved nature, being a mother, and Pandora most of all. She told me with her dying breath to go to Pandora."
Max looked at the young man, surprised by the emotion on the young corporal's face. Russell patted his second-in command on the shoulder. "This man is my best scout, sniper, and hand-to-hand fighter. The only thing that his father taught him was how to fight. He thought that he would be a cold, cruel, selfish mercenary like him. Fat chance!" The young man's face darkened as his father's name was spoken, and Max and Norm exchanged a gleeful look. This was getting better by the minute!
They went to the avatar station, and the young man's face changed from anger to excitement as he looked at the different closed tables that looked like white coffins, which signaled that most of the drivers were occupied. At their request, he willingly gave a sample of his blood, and Norm told him to wait for a couple of weeks. Suddenly, Don's radio chirped, and he listened, then looked at his commander. "They are here, and there's a whole lot of them with weapons, sir." Russell looked at the two scientists, and grinned. "Don't look so worried, boys. I've got a plan."
After Russell returned from talking to the Na'vi army that had appeared from the trees to the west, He said to Don, "All right. I think they got the message, but they want to meet you for some reason. Sully said something about the Tsahik seeing you in a dream."
Don stood by the front gates. He was trying to calm down, but his excitement was obvious. "Ready?" His friend asked, and when Don smiled, the two men shook hands. Don ordered the gates opened, and stepped out onto the forest floor.
About 300 yards away, Dozens of Pa'li waited for him, a rider on each of them. They were all armed. John walked slowly towards the natives, his arms spread wide, showing that he was unarmed except for his fighting daggers, which were on either hip. They had ornate hilts that were curved and shaped like horse's heads, and the blades were stainless steel. Don continued to walk towards the waiting natives, knowing that the guys in the base couldn't fire at this range.
He was on his own, and was at the mercy of the aliens whose culture had fascinated him since he was a child. Most of the warriors were male, but a few were female. Don recognized the face of Neytiri, future Tsahik and mate of Jake Sully, near the front, and ahead of her was Jake himself.
The former marine stared at Don with an intensity that made the young man nervous, and when he was close enough, he bowed and said in perfect Na'vi, "I See You, Jake Sully, chieftain of the Omatakaia." Jake rode forward, and dismounted his animal. "Your commander has told me that you are his best scout and fighter." Don shrugged. "I don't like to brag, but I am. We come with more peace to your people than any who have come before us." Jake raised his eyebrows, and quite a few of the warriors behind him sneered. "He also told me that you are the son of the former Colonel. Am I right?"
Jake saw the boy flinch as if he had struck the kid. "A son does not choose his father. If I could have chosen, it would not have been him." Don could see the surprise on the man's face, and he pressed on. "I know that the Tashik had a vision about me, so you already know who I am." Jake nodded, and Don saw Neytiri approach him. He bowed to her in customary fashion. "I See You, Neytiri, daughter of Moat." She nodded, her eyes looking him up and down. "You look like your father, tawtute." She said, and he flinched again. "An unfortunate occurrence. I consider it an insult to be called his son." Jake interrupted their conversation. "Well, Earth has finally come back to its senses?"
Don smiled, and shrugged. "Humanity can be good as much as they can be evil. Humanity is in the process of changing earth to the way it was. The Council is there to spearhead the movement. Sometimes humans have to be prodded by someone else into doing what is right, even by cold sharp steel." Jake snorted. "Now you sound like your old man. At least you are on the right side this time." Don smiled then replied. "But don't think that I'm a door-mat. The old man may have been an unloving bastard, but he did teach me how to fight."
Jake nodded, smiling slightly, and Neytiri gave a short laugh. "This one's got a strong tongue, my Jake, and an even stronger heart. I can see his strength of his conviction." Don blushed, and bowed to her. "High praise from the one who saved the Na'vi with two arrows, not to mention a few bullets from my gun that I was going to use on him."
She smiled. "You are called by your duty, child, and I with mine. I do ask one request." Don tilted his head. "The Tsahik, my mother, wishes to see you. When you receive your Na'vi body, you will come to our tribe, and you will go to her, and she will decide your fate." Don nodded, and she turned and mounted her own Pa'li. Don walked back to Jake, who was getting on his own mount. "I'll give you and your men time to get settled, but remind your commander to not push his luck." Don nodded. "Yes, Chief." Jake shouted a command, and the Na'vi disappeared into the bushes, leaving Don standing alone in the clearing. Don sighed, and said to himself: "Well, that wasn't too bad."
Don was stir-crazy in the worst way.
It had been two weeks since the meeting with the Na'vi, and the Commander hadn't given him anything to do, besides sentry along the walls, the weight room, and the firing range.
Like his mother, he hated boredom and being stuck indoors, which was one of the reasons why he had been so happy to work for the underground environmentalists on earth. While he was in USAFA, he could barely contain himself from exploring the mountains that were on the base.
The Air Force, unlike the rest of the military, took pride in having kept its trees, shrubs, and water reservoirs alive and relatively untouched. Although, it had cost an astronomical amount of money, because USAFA was the biggest greenhouse complexes in the world. It stretched for 300 miles on each side, and 100 ft above the mountains, but it was worth it. Don missed Colorado alot.
The scientists had taken him under their wing so fast that Russell was still teasing his friend about it. They had given him a small room that had been Jake's room before he became a Na'vi, and he was touched by their care. He expected all of them to hate him, but most didn't. He did see that some mistrusted him, and he knew it would take a good deal of good actions to change their minds. He law back on his bed, hands covering his eyes.
Suddenly, somebody entered. "Your avatar is ready." Norm said to him, and Don followed him to one of the table coffins, as he liked to call them. It opened , and he lay down in it. "Just relax, and let your mind go blank. For a soldier, that shouldn't prove too difficult." Norm said, grinning. "You'll pay for that later on." Don said jokingly as the lid closed. He let his mind go blank, and woke up on a table. He raised his hands, and saw that they were huge and cyan-colored.
"Don, please sit up." Dr. Patel's voice called, and he did so. "Blood pressure normal, heart-beat normal. Don, you are clear. Stand up, and be careful. Your balance may be a little shaky." Don stood, and walked around the small white room. He noticed that he was dressed in his jeans and a black shirt, and noticed that they had been stretched to accommodate his height. He looked down at his waist, and saw that his daggers were on his waist, with a WASP pistol. "Motor skills looking good. Okay Corporal, go out the door on your left. Outside, there is a Samson waiting for you. Good luck. Remember, the Na'vi will not trust you at first, but you can change that by your actions. I'm sure you will do fine."
Don nodded. "Thanks, Doc." He did as he was told, and he stepped out the door into the warm afternoon sun. He took a deep breath, and stretched. "Are you coming, Mustang? I'm growing a beard here!" Don turned to see the Commander waiting in a Samson. "You'll be seeing me off then? I didn't know you cared." Don said, saluting and entering the Samson.
The pilot was a small strong-looking Latino woman, who smiled up at him through Aviator glasses. "Howdy, the name's Candice Chacon. Trudy was my big sister." Don shook her hand. "Honored to meet you ma'am." Russell interrupted them. "Lt. Chacon will drop you off at the big waterfall 20 clicks west of here. If you go twenty miles east, you'll find the Tree of Souls. Good luck, and try to get there in one piece." The two men shook hands. "I'll see you in hell, Russell." Don joked, as his Commander left the Samson.
Russell snorted. "Don't piss anything off that you can't handle. I've saved your scrawny butt at least ten different times, but I won't be there this time." Don snorted. "I've saved you more times than that. Remember that penthouse in Denver?" Russell laughed. "Fair 'nough. Good luck, kid. Do me proud."
Before Don could answer, the Samson rose into the sky, and sped towards the drop-off point. "I'm sorry about your sister." Don said to Candice, and she shrugged. "If I blamed you, you would not have lived long enough to figure it out. The guys all seem to be scared of you, but your not such a bad guy. A little quiet for my taste, but nothing bad."
Don laughed, and they continued to talk as Don watched the beautiful scenery. The planet was better than he had hoped. Candice was a fiery but candid woman, and she talked alot. Don's mother talked a mile a minute as well. When they touched down near the waterfall, it was late afternoon, and the sun was disappearing over the western side of the trees. "So this is where I leave you." Candice announced, and they shook hands. "Good luck out there, horse-boy. Come back in one piece, or some girls at Hell's Gate will be disappointed." Don laughed, and watched as the Sampson roared away. "Nice girl, that one." He muttered, and he turned west, and struck out into the rainforest.
It was as if he was walking through a dream.
Don had never experienced such a vibrant atmosphere.
He saw more creatures than he could name, and he knew them, but he just didn't want to spend the time doing so. He also saw many plants that he had only learned about, but, as Dr. Augustine had said to his class: "Learning about it means nothing unless you experience it for yourself."
Thinking about Grace made him smile. What fascinated him most was the bioluminescence. Everything glowed and shimmered, even his footsteps. It was getting darker, so Don quickened his pace. As he walked, he slipped into thought. Humans may be above nature in that they have intellect and understanding, but other than that, how were they different? They lived and breathed like animals, and often acted worse than animals, like his father.
As he thought about the difference between humans and animals, he didn't notice the Hellfire wasp landing on his left forearm until it stung him. Don yelped, and swatted it away. He watched the little bastard beat it, and muttered, "Yeah, you'd better run. Don't try that again." He started to walk again, then he stopped suddenly. He knew he was being watched, and he guessed that, whatever it was, it wasn't far off. He sincerely hoped that it was the Na'vi, but he was wrong.
He was surrounded by viperwolves, all looking exceptionally pleased with themselves. Don began to talk very slowly and carefully in Na'vi. "Greetings, sons and daughters of Eywa. I am not a threat to you, so you be good wolves, and let me pass. Easy...nice doggies." He continued in english, and the viperwolves seemed to sneer, and advanced closer. Don drew his draggers, and twirled them. He switched to english. "Let's be civil about this, shall we? I need to pass by, and I don't want to hurt any of you, but I've got a job to do, so go away."
One of them leaped toward him, and before he could do anything, he heard a shriek, and an arrow zipped by him, and killed the one which had leaped. A moment later, a female Na'vi leaped into view, firing another fatal arrow. Her body was lithe and graceful, and she wore nothing except a loin cloth and a vest resembling a tank-top. She also wore necklaces that covered her chest. Her hair was long and braided, and her expression was intense and fiercely beautiful.
He didn't have any time to watch her too much, because he had his hands full. After a short fight, four wolves lay dead, and the rest were gone. Don had a small cut on the arm, but nothing serious. He cleaned off his knives with some loose branches, and sheathed them.
"Irayo, Hunter. I'm in your debt, though I wish these didn't have to die." He said, gesturing to the four slain on the ground. It may have seemed odd for a soldier to say this, but Don did not take pleasure from death, and was not trigger-happy like the other men. Her violet eyes looked him up and down, and she spoke in passable english: "You are the tawtute that spoke to Neytiri and JakeSully?" Don nodded. "You are son of our dead enemy?" Don winced but nodded. "I See You, I am Ninat, chief singer and hunter."
Don bowed, his hand pressed over his heart in proper fashion. "I am Don, scout and warrior for the Global Military Council of the planet Earth. I am also care-taker of nature." She nodded. "For a scout, you were thinking too much. You cost lives with your foolishness, but I guess that you were not used to our forest."
Don nodded. "I am to blame for four deaths, but I take no joy from their deaths." Ninat nodded, seeming to be pacified. "I will now take you to the Tsahik. It is too dangerous to be without a Na'vi escort for you to walk alone." Don was about to say that he could protect himself just fine, but he knew that she wouldn't agree. His past experiences with females proved that he should never argue with a female if she was right. This instance wasn't any different. For a moment, she seemed to expect an argument, but when Don said nothing, she beckoned to him. As he followed her, he couldn't help but notice several times that she was extremely good-looking. He was a male, after all.
Don followed Ninat for what seemed like hours. He watched her every move, so that he could be certain what she intended to do. A few times, she would stop for a moment, then continue. Don got the feeling that they were avoiding predators, but he had yet to see one.
Ninat seemed to sense things both near and far, with an ease that Don found amazing. He tried to talk to her, but each time he said something, she shook her head. They came to a small clearing in the forest, and before Don could do anything, a group of Na'vi appeared from the trees, surrounding them. "What have you found, Ninat?" One of them said. He had a deep baritone voice, a strong body, and eyes the color of gold. "Dream-walker of the tawtute who spoke to the chief and the future Tsahik." Ninat replied.
Don nodded to him, and the Na'vi stared back at him, his distrust evident on his face. "Follow me." Ninat told him, and he followed her through crowds of very distrustful Na'vi to the Tree of Souls. He gasped at its beauty. He could feel a kind of spiritual power that he had never felt before. He had never believed in any specific religion, but he did believe in a God of some sort that was all-loving, omniscient, omnipresent, and creator of the universe. However, he was never really certain of a god's presence until now. He didn't realize that he had stopped until Ninat looked back. When she did, she gasped.
"What?" Don asked, then realized that small white creatures were hovering around him, glided over his skin. There were almost a dozen of them. "Atokrinia." He and Ninat said at the same time. "Well, you don't see that every day." Don muttered. "What do they want?"
There were crowds of Na'vi watching his every move, as the creatures left his body. "Come." Ninat said, taking his hand in hers and pulling him forward gently. Don followed, gazing around in complete awe. Pandora was better than any dream. "You act as if you have been waiting for this all your life." Ninat said, seeming amused. Don smiled, looking into her eyes, which were a stunning violet. "That's because I have."
She smiled widely, and suddenly seemed more beautiful than ever. After a few minutes, they were standing in front of the tree, and Moat appeared from behind the tree. Ninat stepped back with a bow, leaving Don alone with the Tsahik. "Why have you come here?" She asked, and Don blinked. "You called me, Tsahik, and so I came."
She shook her head. "You did not come to this planet because you were ordered to come. You came because it was decided by Eywa." Don blinked, and she continued. "It was revealed to me in a vision that you would come to our home. Eywa works in mysterious ways. The son of our greatest enemy meant to help us, even though he does not know that he is meant to do so."
Don opened his mouth, but nothing came out. "Do not look so surprised, Dreamwalker. You have dreamed of our planet for many years. Your life without this planet would have been nothing. But, in order to live on this planet, you must become one with The People. You will learn our way of life, and you shall not do so alone." Moat turned, and gestured. Ninat came into view, and bowed. "Ninat, you will teach him our ways. His path shall begin under your guidance."
Ninat considered Don, then nodded. "I will do as you ask, Tsahik." Don bowed to Moat, who gestured that the audience was over. Ninat took him by the hand, and led him to a place that, at first, seemed to be populated by huge leaves. "We will begin your training tomorrow. These are our hammocks. Follow me to mine. You will sleep in another that is next to me." Don nodded, and did as she instructed. He knew how the hammocks worked, thanks to years of study. Before he could wrap the hammock around his body, Ninat called to him: "Get some sleep. You will need it." They exchanged "good night's" in Navi, and Don fell asleep.
After reporting to the Commander, and completing his video journal, Don ate the usual soldiers rations, which consisted of barely edible things that a soldier usually ate, then Max allowed him to log back in, but not before telling Don to take care of both his bodies.
"Don't forget that you don't live in your Avatar all the time." Max warned before the lid closed. Don woke up, and saw Ninat standing over him. "Good morning."
She smiled, and returned the greeting. Don looked down, and realized that he now wore nothing except for a loin cloth. At least his daggers were still there. He had forgotten that the Navi didn't wear that much clothing.
During the next few weeks, Don was put through an exhausting training like he hadn't had since boot camp. He mastered the pa'li and archery quickly, because he had done some of both back on earth. This strangely seemed to please Ninat, and she was even more pleased at his mastery of her language. The Na'vi began to slowly trust the young avatar, which relieved Don somewhat. Ninat put him under rigorous training in running through the jungle and hunting.
Always a fast learner, it didn't take long before Ninat allowed Don to hunt in earnest. When he shot a hexapede, and killed it with the proper words, she hugged him, a huge smile on her face. From then on, they got to know each other well.
She grew up as a hunter under loving parents, who were already with Eywa, but she lived on, and became one of the best singers of the tribe. He hadn't heard her sing yet, but it didn't matter to him. He had fallen for the exotic Na'vi female, though he kept it to himself.
She began to take him with her when she visited her friends, who called the shy young man "quiet one." At night, he would wake up in his normal body, eat, work in the weight room, take a shower, than go back into his avatar.
As the days turned into weeks, Ninat and he had become close friends. The first time he heard her sing, it utterly entranced him. One day, she told him that he would be taking the Iknimaya in the Hallelujah Mountains the day after tomorrow. Don realized that he would be searching for an ikran for his own, and she told him that he was ready. "You have grown into a good hunter, warrior. There is little else I can teach you." He smiled, and hugged her. She felt so good that she had to tell him to let go. When they parted to sleep, they looked into each other's eyes, and she looked at him as if she saw him for the first time.
Things at the base were going better than Russell had hoped. The Na'vi communicated with him regularly, and he had noticed a change in his former classmate.
The kid seemed more at peace, and smiled more often. Russell thought he looked older than when he first landed on the planet, and Russell had a feeling it had something to do with a certain female Na'vi that the kid mentioned often. It was about time, Russell thought. That kid had been through hell, and he deserved a girl. The kid had never had one, on account of his introverted attitude.
Earth, from what he could hear, had started building colonies on Mars. Russell had a feeling that Earth wasn't going to be around for much longer, but they had at least another millennia before the shit hit the fan.
He went into the lab, and found Don sleeping in front of the camera of the video journals. "If it's not overdoing homework, it's over doing somethin' else." The Commander muttered. "Hey, Mustang!" He said, shaking his shoulder. Don opened his bloodshot eyes, and looked up. "You rang?" He asked. "You, my friend, need sleep." Russell replied. Don looked at his watch. "I've got a couple of hours." Norm came in, and sighed when he saw Russell. "Thank heavens your here, Commander. This guy needs sleep, but I can't lift him." Russell obliged, and soon had Don in his bed.
After a couple of hours, Don woke up in the hammock next to Ninat, who smiled down at him. "Follow me." She brought him to her ikran, a beautiful blue and green female named Tanhi, and showed him how to mount the ikran. Next she gave him the sling that he would need to catch the ikran. "Don't miss." She said simply.
The climb up the Stairway to Heaven was one of the most thrilling and the most scary experiences Don had experienced, but he was able to follow the warriors and Ninat to the waterfall. "Remember, the one who wants you will be the one who attacks you and will try to kill you." Ninat whispered, and Don looked at her. "In case something happens, I want to thank you." She smiled, and patted him on the shoulder. "Wait for later."
Don nodded, and suddenly, Jake himself called for Don to go first. Don was surprised that the former marine had come along, but shrugged, and went underneath the waterfall, and into the huge nest. Countless mountain ikran were waiting for him. As he approached, a few hissed at him, but he grinned. "Now guys, play nice." He began to whirl the sling in his hands, taking slow steps forward, eyes and ears open. A growl sounded to his left, and Don turned quickly, and had to jump out of the way, as an ikran flashed past him, teeth bared.
It was a gold-colored male with a black stripe that stretched from its snout to its tail. "Hold your horses, pal. Don't kill me too quickly." Don snarled, and lashed out with the sling, wrapping it around its snout. "Tsahaylu! Make the Tsahaylu!" Ninat shouted, as Don fell to the ground, wrestling furiously with the ikran. He grabbed his braid, and the neural strands connected with the antennae of the ikran, solidifying the bond. Don gasped as the awareness of the ikran flooded him, and he could feel its fear.
"It's all right. I won't hurt you." Don thought, and it relaxed, and Don undid the sling. The ikran stood up, and he mounted it like Ninat had shown him to do. "Ride!" Ninat yelled, and pushed them off the cliff. For a moment, Don experienced a sudden free-fall, and he thought, "fly straight, dammit!"
Instantly, the ikran leveled out, and Don relaxed. "Good boy." He said, patting its flank. He laughed as Ninat joined him, riding Tanhi, and he could practically feel the pride from his teacher. During the next few days, she taught him how to fly better, and he named the ikran "Tirea," or "Spirit" because of his wild and reckless energy. Flying was terrific, much better than flying a jet fighter. Tirea and Don became close friends, but couldn't see each other too often, since Don learned that the ikran was the leader of a small tribe and had duties to attend to, but the ikran came when called.
Over the next few weeks, Don could sense that his training was coming to a close, and he heard, to no great surprise, that Ninat had been named the best singer of the entire tribe. To him, there was never any competition. Lately, something in his gut had been bothering him, and it seemed that it had something to do with the Tree of Souls. It had been building up in him since bonding with Tirea, and now he could barely stand it. He decided to investigate the Tree later.
That night, Don waited until everyone was asleep, then approached the Tree of Souls. He walked around it, his eyes searching for clues, but found nothing.
Suddenly, a female voice said in his mind, "Come to me, and bond with the tree. The time has come, Warrior." Don did as he was told, and the instant he did so, the female voice spoke. "So, at last we meet, warrior." Don stared up at the tree. "Who are you?" He asked. "That is not important. What is important is that you know that I exist." Don was about to ask more questions, but the voice faded away, but her last words stayed with him. "Sometime very soon, I will test your strength. Don't let go of what you love."
Don woke up in front of the Tree of Souls. He stood up, and went back to his bed. He paused, thinking about giving Ninat the ring, but knew that it wasn't the right time. He lay down, and before long, the avatar box opened, and Don saw the Commander standing over him. "Good morning, sunshine. The sun is almost up, and your on scouting duty." Don raised his head, and nodded.
His orders were to do a 20-mile radius scout near the waterfall where he was picked up. The other scouts had already completed their scouting, and it was now his turn. Don sighed, and hefted his sniper rifle, a CARB Weapons System Unit with a scope. Scouting was easy on Earth because there was nothing to scout, but on Pandora, scouting missions were unpleasant and often deadly.
Don, who was one of the scouts, was given the toughest part of the forest. He moved slowly from tree to tree, using skills he had learned from Ninat to watch and listen for trouble. The trouble was that his avatar had better sight and awareness than humans, and he knew that very well. What he didn't expect was what happened next.
Ninat woke up, and looked at Don's sleeping form. He was usually awake before her in the morning, so she deduced that he was doing something at his home-base. She and a few other warriors prepared for a morning hunt, and soon they were riding through the forest.
Suddenly, the warriors in front of her stopped and dismounted. One motioned to her, and she dismounted also. They crouched behind a tree. "Palulukan." One of them said, pointing to the west and she saw it too. It was only fifty feet from them, and was stalking a Sky-person. He was tall, young, and strong, with black hair. Ninat thought he looked familiar, and peered closer. Realization struck her too late, and the beast was already charging toward Don.
CRASH! Don turned left, and realized that a Thanator was charging him from 20 yards away. "Holy hell! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Send backup!" Don yelled into the radio strapped to his neck, and sprinted backwards, firing as he went. "Dammit!" He yelled as the beast kept coming, bullets bouncing off his armor.
Ninat watched in horror as the young warrior tried to run, and she stood up, an arrow on her string, but she was out of range. "Don!" She yelled, and began to run toward the combatants. The warriors looked at each other, and followed her.
Don didn't hear anything except the Thanator's roars and stomping as he threw himself under a huge tree, and fired again, relaying his coordinates to the base. "Hang in there. ETA in five minutes." Said the responder, and Don swore as the beast lunged at the tree, which crumpled underneath the behemoth. "Five minutes? I've got an angry Thanator that wants me for a damned snack, so you'd better move faster than that!" Don concerned himself with running in a circle, ducking and dodging. Within seconds, he ran out of ammo. He had to stay in the same place for the sake of the Samson's pilot, but how the hell was he supposed to do that? He needed a damn miracle.
"Don!" Don turned, and saw Ninat and other hunters toward him, and he grinned. "I love that girl." He didn't see the Thanator's armored tail until it hit him in the chest. Don was thrown for yards, crashing into a tree. He yelled as he heard and felt several ribs break, leaving him utterly helpless. He looked up at the approaching Thanator, and realized that it was running away from him and Ninat's group, and in seconds, it was gone.
Don tried to move, but it hurt to breathe let alone move, and he lay against the tree, and blacked out.
Ninat screamed as she saw her human thrown, and she could hear his bones breaking from fifty yards away. When she got to him, she let her bow drop to the ground, and gathered his body into her arms. He was so helpless, and it was that helplessness that frightened her the most. It was so unlike him.
"Please awake." She said in Na'vi, staring down at his smooth youthful face. The warriors gathered around her. "A kunsip is coming, Ninat." One of them said, and she watched as a Samson sped toward them, and waved wildly. A minute later, a tall dark-skinned man sprinted toward them, holding a machine-gun, two avatar close behind him. She recognized Dr. Spellman's avatar, but didn't know the other.
"Where is the Thanator?" The dark man asked, and one of the warriors pointed west. "Gone. Left him injured." The warrior pointed at Don. The man tried to take Don from Ninat, but she hissed at him. "I'm Commander Russell, and I'm here to bring him back." The man told her, and she looked at her warriors. "Go to home, and tell our chief what has happened." The warriors nodded, and disappeared into the trees.
"I go with you." She told the Commander, who nodded. Soon the Samson was on it's way to base, and Ninat didn't let go of Don, but allowed the humans to check him. Russell cursed when he saw his friends' injuries. "Fly faster!" He shouted. He was no medic, but even he knew that something was terribly wrong. He watched the Na'vi female cradle his friend, and asked, "You are Ninat?" She looked up at him, and nodded. "He'll be fine. I've seen worse." Russell said, and ignored the looks he got from Max and Norm. He didn't want to see them, because he knew what they were thinking. His scout was badly hurt.
Don woke up and saw Ninat smiling down at him, tears running down her face. "I See You." She said, and he smiled. "And I See You."
His hand reached up, and she leaned down so that his hand could touch her cheek. He could barely hold it, but the feel of her soft, warm skin was worth the pain.
Everything hurt, and he could tell by Ninat's face that something was wrong. "How am I?" Norm's voice sounded to the right of him. "It's not good. You have five broken ribs, and one is inches away from your left lung. If you move, it will be punctured." Don closed his eyes, and swore. Norm sighed. "Well, we won't give up on you." He was trying to sound optimistic, but Don knew it was no good.
"The only possibility for you to live is if we try to put your consciousness in your Avatar, like we tried with Grace. It worked for me." Jake said, his voice emanating from Don's right. "It didn't work with Grace. It's not exactly fool-proof." Norm argued. "If you've got any better ideas, I'm open to suggestions." Jake replied, and Norm sighed then nodded.
Jake left the room, and Ninat followed him. He saw Russell come in, and waited until the man was beside him. "I guess this is it. If it does work, I'll see you around." The Commander and his former room mate shook hands. "Keep us safe, Sir. I'll see you soon." Russell nodded. "I will." He nodded his head to Norm, and Don felt a needle enter his arm before he descended into drug-induced slumber. When he woke up, he was lying next to the Tree of Souls. Jake and Neytiri were next to him on one side, Ninat on the other. He could hear many Na'vi singing and chanting. "What is that?" He asked. "The People." Neytiri replied. "They are praying for your life to continue in your other body." Don nodded. "It is time." Moat said above them, and Jake put a hand on Don's oxygen mask.
"Trust us?" Jake asked, and Don nodded. Don felt the mask being removed, and the air smelled odd. He looked at Ninat. "If this doesn't work, I need to-" Before he could finish, she kissed him on the lips, then everything went black. He woke up, and realized that he was sitting at a desk in one of the classrooms at USAFA. He looked at his hands and body, and saw that he was in his avatar body.
He was sitting at the front row like he used to, and noticed that he could see the mountains he had explored extensively, and realized that they weren't half as beautiful as the Hallelujah Mountains. He turned when a door opened on the left side of the classroom, and his father walked into the classroom.
"Howdy, Son. It's been too long." Don stood up, and stared at the man in disbelief for a moment, then snarled, "Not long enough, you monster. Stay away from me!" His father chuckled. "It's good to see you too, son." Don reached for his daggers, but they weren't there. "Don't call me that. I've had to deal with the damage you caused my whole career, and you never cared about me or Mom. You've lost the right to call me your son." Don snapped, and the old man shrugged.
"So I caused a few problems. You can't stop my work, and you know it." Don glared at the old man. "Bullshit! I will find a way to do it, and you won't stop me! You disgust me." The man glared at him, and Don moved closer, his fists clenched at his sides. "Are you thinking about scrapping with me? I'm already dead. You would never have the guts to fight me anyway." The old man sneered.
Don threw a punch, and it went straight through his chest, as if Quaritch was only a mirage. He screamed in fury, and his father gave him a smirk. "I'll always be with you, boy. You are just a bitter man who caught some native tail. Nothing's over so long as they've got my DNA!" Miles Quaritch said, and Don sneered. "Even if you do come back, I'll just kill you myself." The former Colonel snorted and left the room without looking back.
Everything went white, and his eyes opened, and saw Ninat leaning on his chest underneath the Tree of Souls. He touched her shoulder, and she looked at him and smiled. The next few minutes were a blur to Don. The thing he remembered the most was a feeling of finally coming home, and the long kiss Ninat placed on his lips. "Well, that lie-down seems to have done the trick." Jake said, clapping the young man on the shoulder an hour later. Don bowed. "I thank you, chief." He said in Na'vi.
He was holding his dog-tags that he had taken from his old body. Don had no regrets of leaving his old body to the Na'vi to bury, but it seemed right he should retain his dog-tags. Besides, he wouldn't be keeping them. Neytiri embraced Don, which surprised the young man.
"You wanted to see me?" He asked her, and she nodded. "The Tsahik wishes to preform the ceremony to induct you into our clan." Don gaped. "But it's too soon! I have other trials to pass before I am to be considered ready." He protested. Jake snorted. "Kid, you survived an attack by a Thanator, and gave it hell while doing so. Very few warriors can say they have done that. You and I make up half of the known warriors. Your survival is a sign that Eywa wants you here."
Don scoffed. "Define surviving! All I did was run in circles, shooting at him!" Jake and Neytiri exchanged a smile, and Jake chuckled. "Not according to what Ninat has been telling us." Before he could argue further, Neytiri and Jake grabbed each of his arms, and led him to a small campfire, where Ninat was waiting. She traced white paint all over his face, forehead, chin, and lips. Her eyes were glowing with pride, and when she had finished, she led him to a huge space that was near the Tree of Souls. Moat and what seemed like the entire tribe was waiting for him. When Don was led to her, he bowed.
Her hands met his chin, and lifted his face to look at hers. "You have earned your place among the People, Donald Nathaniel. You are a hunter now; a warrior of the Na'vi and a member of our clan. What harm comes to you, comes to us all. Take your place among the People, forever." Before he could thank her, she placed a hand on his shoulder. Don felt hands touch his shoulders on all sides, and for the first time in his life, he knew he was home.
During his sleep, Don received yet another vision. He opened his eyes, and saw nothing but white on all sides.
"Now come on!" Don muttered. "I've already been in this freaking situation enough." Suddenly, the scene changed. He was standing near Hometree as it was destroyed by his father. He saw the fear, despair, and rage in the eyes of The People as they witnessed the destruction of their home. The scene changed, and he was standing behind his father as the old man watched the destruction with a dispassionate gaze. "And that's how you scatter the roaches." His father said, and Don snapped. He charged forward, screaming.
Just as he reached his father, the man and the scene disappeared, and the white nothingness was back. Don sank to his knees, and bowed his head. "What do you want? What is your message?" He called out to the nothingness. The scene changed to the USAFA classroom again, and Don sat down in the same chair, waiting for his old man to come through the doors. When the door opened, Don called, "Come in, Colonel! I've got a bone to pick with you, and you can sure as hell expect a beating!"
A female voice answered him. "That is music to my ears, air jockey!" Don turned, and saw Doctor Grace Augustine walking toward him, her shoulder-length red hair tied into a ponytail. She was exactly as Don remembered her when she had spoken to his class.
"Doctor Augustine?" Don sighed with relief. "Someone who I actually want to see." Grace sat at the teacher's desk in front of Don, and pointed at Don while lighting a cigarette. "You, my friend, are a damned enigma." She said, taking in a puff, and letting it out through her nose, her eyes staring into Don's.
Don smirked, and replied, "I do what I can, Doctor. I always wanted to meet you personally, but I never got the chance. I remember you coming to our class during freshman year at USAFA." Grace smiled slightly. "I remember you being the most attentive of my students, and that is saying quite alot considering your old man." Don winced. "I refuse to call that man my father." She grinned wider. "I know, kid. You remind me of your mother. Would it be too much if I told you that your mother was my second cousin?"
Don shrugged. "I'm not surprised at all." She nodded. "I thought as much. She was one of the most driven environmentalists who ever lived, and it seems to have rubbed off on you, kid. She spoke highly of you, and I can see why. If someone told me that Quaritch's spawn would grow up like you did and did the things that you've done, I would have asked them what they were smoking. I thought that earth would never wise up, but they did. Humanity has always mystified me."
Don grinned. "You just don't like them because you can't put them under a microscope." She laughed and nodded. "That's true. I've been watching you, sonny. I know everything that's been going on. I am part of Eywa, and now so are you." Don nodded, and she puffed again before continuing. "You have served the Na'vi, and now she will give you what you have always wanted. She wants you to repair the damage that Ranger Rick and his goons have caused, or take a key role in it."
Before Don could voice any protest, she stopped him with a look that reminded Don of his mother. "You will serve as a advisor to the clan. Every time they need information on the humans, you are the one who will give it to them." Don nodded, knowing that this mission would take a long time. The Na'vi weren't familiar with earth's ways, and Jake wasn't really qualified to give them what they wanted.
"You've got the knowledge, and now you use it to help them. That is the purpose of knowledge, to help and instruct others. The Na'vi do not spend their time thinking about things like you do. You are allowed to use any resource for your duty, but be careful with the use of such resources." Don nodded, and she shook his hand. "Good luck, kid. Give my best to the Jar-head and my team. You'll see me again soon."
"Well, that's interesting." Jake commented, as Don told him what happened in his dream. "Any ideas, Chief?" Don asked. "Just stick around, and stay vigilant." Don nodded, and Jake cleared his throat. "I know that you have alot of love for Ninat, and she knows it. That's why I was told to tell you that Ninat intends to pursue you."
Don grinned. "And I will not pass up an opportunity concerning her." Jake smirked. "I thought not. The title Eywa has given you is a tall order to fill." Don raised his eyebrows. "Says the chieftain of the Omatakaia." Jake chuckled, than laid a brotherly hand on Don's shoulder. "Eywa would not have given you this duty if She knew you weren't prepared for it." I nodded my thanks. "Where is Ninat?" Jake shook his head. "It's best that you leave her alone tonight. It has been 3 years since the destruction oF Hometree, and the death of her parents."
Don looked up at him sharply. "Say what?" Jake gave him a puzzled look. "Didn't she tell you? Her parents were in Hometree when it came down." Don's gut turned to ice. "She didn't mention that." Jake frowned at Don. "If she blamed you at all, she would have said so." He said sharply.
Don didn't answer, and he sighed. "You and her can talk about it tomorrow. Get some sleep first." He barely got any sleep at all. When Don did, he woke up to see Ninat standing over him. "You wished to speak with me?" She asked, and Don nodded. "Why didn't you tell me that your parents died in the Hometree?" She flinched, but her reply was immediate. "I didn't want to tell you because I knew you would blame yourself." Don swallowed, and she met his eyes. "Don't give me that look!" She snapped.
"How could you stand to look at me? After what my father did to you?" Don asked, tears trickling down his cheeks, head bowed in shame. She placed her hands on either side of his face, and forced him to look into her eyes. "How could you even ask this? You are not, never have been, and never will be your father! You are not him. I See You!" Don swallowed. "You are the only one who has ever made me believe that I am not. But that is only one of the many reasons that I love you. When I am with you, I feel complete. I want to feel like that for the rest of my life, and perhaps beyond. Will you be my mate?"
She beamed. "I will, Don. You have proven to me that it does not matter who one's father is, and you have been my pride and joy ever since you came into our Clan. I am honored by your choice, and I will always love you." They joined their queues together, and Don gasped at the sensation of our souls and minds joining to become one. Soon afterwards, they made love in the bioluminescence of Pandora's splendor.
...To Be Continued...