Chapter 3

Darkness; that was all Ryan could see, all that he could feel. That was until he felt his body return to him as his vision came too. He moved his eyes around to see the interior of his cryopod. His body felt stiff and cold like every part of his body was frozen from the inside. As seconds passed, he moved his head around when he felt his muscles began to thaw. Moving hurt when pain returned to his nervous system.

So far so good

He actually welcomed the pain because it meant he was still alive. When he was on duty, he thought about falling asleep and not waking up many times. Back then, it was a terrorist cutting his throat in his sleep. Now, it was sleeping with more what ifs; organ failure from a cryo malfunction, an error in navigation sending him and the crew off course into the endless darkness of space never to be seen again, or even crashing into an unseen obstacle and being consumed with the ship. But seeing that he could see again and he felt pain, his luck of staying alive was still working.

He felt the bottom of the pod move and he moved with it as it slid out of the chamber. When the platform stopped he looked to his left and right and saw the wide interior of the ISV ship passenger compartment. The other pods next to him opened with their occupants were slid out of their chambers. As more pods opened he saw other bodies move through the air to a number of the pods. The engineers, Ryan recognized; the ones who were thawed first to assist the others who didn't freeze themselves for a living. He watched as one of them flew over his pod and stopped over two pods over where he was.

"Are we there yet?" the occupant asked the engineer.

"Yeah sunshine, we're there." The engineer replied as he began to release "Sunshine's" harness. Carefully the engineer went through the procedure to make sure that the recruit was still healthy after the long nap. Once he was finished and the recruit was healthy, he released him and moved on to the next pod. His turn came and he made it through the steps and was released.

"You've been in cryo for five years, nine months and 22 days. You will be hungry, you will be weak."

Hungry and weak; feeling it all around. Good to go.

Ryan floated across the ship up to his locker and turned the handle. All of his belongings were there where he left them that long ago. Once he collected his belongings and downed his uniform, he moved with all the other employees to the docking station. They were as clumsy as he was moving in zero G to the gate but everyone managed to get there without any major accidents. Once inside the airlock, the other door opened and everyone filed into the Shuttle. Ryan patently moved though and followed instructions to stow his bag and strap in. Once everyone else was strapped in and the imported supplies for the base were aboard and secured, the ride down to the planet would begin. Ryan heard a loud clamping sound and he felt himself move around in his seat. They were detached and free. After so many combat missions, it felt natural for him to sit and wait for either his death from being shot down or proceeding to enter the combat zone and be ready to die in the opening moments exiting the transport.

"Attention passengers," the shuttle pilot said over intercom after a few minutes of sitting in zero G. "We are entering the planet's atmosphere. Gravity will return and we will experience major turbulence. Remain in your seats and brace yourselves."

As Ryan put his hands up to the straps and put himself into the brace position, he could feel the shock of aircraft surge through him. The returning gravity pulled down on him. He felt his muscles moved around his body and he felt his bones rattle. It lasted for a few minutes but the intensity gradually subsided over that time. Now, the ride was smooth like the airliners when they reached altitude.

Ryan released his hands from his harness, leaned back and relaxed his body. He wasn't really scared about flying in an aircraft even if it was over hostile territory. The tension he was experiencing must have been from traveling in a trans-atmospheric vehicle that burned hot when entering a planet's atmosphere and was more likely to be incinerated before it even got near the surface. But regardless, he was still sitting in his set and breathing and his years of service taught him to keep his mind together.

After another ten minutes of smooth flying, the pilot spoke on the speakers again.

"Attention passengers, we are approaching Hell's Gate. Crew members, prepare for landing procedures."

"Exopacks on, exopacks on! Let's go, exopacks on." An officer stood from his seat down the row and began to walk down the row.

"Remember people you lose that mask, you're unconscious in 20 seconds, you're dead in four minutes. There'll be nobody dead today looks very bad on my report."

Wouldn't want to make you look bad, Ryan thought to himself as he activated the valve and felt his mask seal to his face. He felt the aircraft slow down and the moment of the craft switched to going down and not so much forward. They were about to land, Ryan thought. And sure enough he felt the craft bounce when the landing gear touched ground.

"Harnesses off, get your packs! Let's go."

Along with everyone else, Ryan grabbed his pack from under him and stood up along with the others on his side of the shuttle. Well, everyone except one who stayed in his seat.

"The ramp goes down, you go directly into the base do not stop. Go strait inside wait for my mark." The officer put down his mask after he gave his instructions. As soon as he did, the ramp cracked open and began to lower down. Ryan felt the warm and humid air brush passed him as it filled the cargo bay.

"Go, go, go, go, go get out of there, keep moving…" Ryan marched out of the aircraft with the other troopers onto the pavement. As he marched he caught glimpses of the base; the hardware and the vehicles and he looked beyond the fence at the green hillsides. He hadn't seen much green in his life only in photos and videos and some in small and disappearing preservation areas around earth. It was a feeling that he didn't dwell upon as they approached the front entrance.

"Well hello ladies." It looked like they had a welcoming comity waiting at the door. "Look at all this fresh meat!" The taunting troopers said as Ryan and the group passed and filed into the base through the gate.

"You're not in Kansas anymore. You're on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen. Respect that fact, every second of every day. If there is a hell you might want to go there for some R &R after a tour on Pandora. Out there beyond that fence, every living thing that crawls, flies or squats in the mud wants to kill you and eat your eyes for jujubes. We have and indigenous race of humanoids called the Navi. They're fawned of arrows dipped in a neurotoxin that will stop your heart in one minute. And they have bones reinforced with naturally accruing carbon fibers. They are very hard to kill. As head of security it is my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed. Not with all of you. If you wish to survive you need to cultivate a strong mental attitude. You got to obey the rules; Pandora rules. Rule number one..."

Entry 1

May 19, 2154

I'm writing again, so that means I'm still alive. It feels wired sleeping for nearly six years before waking up to a weeklong hangover headache. They say you don't dream in cryo, you close your eyes and open them on another part of the galaxy. But the thing is I feel I did dream and I can't remember what it is. I think my headache's from trying to remember it so hard.

Anyway, I'm alive and safely on the moon. Well almost safe. After getting planet side, we had our introduction by the Coronal of these parts: talks about safety and procedures and the essentials. Says this place's worse than hell. That's funny because seeing the colors of the trees on the other side of the fence seems more inviting than an underground cavern full of lava and fire. According to Coronal Quaritch, everything beyond the fence wants to kill me and strip me down to bone like the brochures said. His scare around the right side of his head basically sums that up.

Those natives called Na'vi he talks about seem to be tough and ruthless killers too. They're humanoids like humans; hands, legs feet and a face. Only difference is they're twice the height with blue skin and they have a tail. The Coronal says they're hard to kill even though they use bows and arrows and have no real body armor to protect from bullets. The way he talks about them, it sounds like we already have an enemy.

It's too early to take anyone's word seriously at this point so I'll have to see things out first.