This story is written for entertainment purposes only. All copyrights belong to their respective owners.

Keep in mind that English is not my first language and so I do not claim to have corrected every mistake yet. If there are any inconsistencies in this story, let me know and I will correct them.


Chapter 4: The black dot

After colonel Lockwood's initial interview of Mark Dodgson, several specialists had interrogated Mark more thoroughly. They had eventually reached the same conclusions as the colonel had. Their explanation for his outrageous predictions of the future was that he had been exposed to the influence and philosophy of MT-NET for too long. During all sessions, Mark had still refused to tell them where he had been speeding from, or what he had been doing there. Since he had been deemed mentally unstable, general Yasmin Abrego had decided that the prisoner would be moved away from Pandora. The Leader had given the orders to convert the dilapidated mining facility on the moon Shadow to a secured complex. The Tempest planned to use this complex to lock away potentially dangerous individuals or objects, which could still provide usable information. This was all part of Wilhelm's grand vision to turn the new base on Pandora into a utopian paradise of human colonization.

To gain more information on the Mark Dodgson case, some of his less outrageous claims had been checked for truth. The outpost he had supposedly survived in had been found. However, according to various video logs, its only users after the RDA's defeat had been Gerald Hamilton, who had died in 2160, and John Simons, who seemed to have stopped using the facility in 2161. Most of the research data under Hamilton's name did indeed concern what Mark had described. After the defeat of the RDA, Hamilton had independently created viable embryos for Avatar bodies for the two of them. This could be considered a major scientific breakthrough considering the limited resources Hamilton had used. Despite the fact that the Avatar program was now banned, the Tempest took great care to collect and analyze all data.

The video logs did not indicate what had happened to Simons, but they seemed to suggest he had been planning to ally himself with the Na'vi. Whether he had been in contact with the MT-NET system and its machines was unknown. In any case, no data at the outpost indicated that Mark Dodgson had lived there. This was why the area where Mark had been speeding away from had also been searched thoroughly. Not long after, a hidden facility in a cave had been found. The base had been built on the ground level into the side of a tall and steep mountain ridge. The Hallelujah Mountains were located on the other side of said ridge. It was clear that the base had been constructed by MT-NET, as no RDA blueprints for it existed. However, upon exploring the base, the Tempest concluded that it had been deserted. What they did find was a badly damaged magnetic reactor for generating electrical power. It had been built over a wide hole in the ground. The hole was only two meters deep, but it looked like it had been a lot deeper in the past. It had been partially filled with rocks and sand. The reactor seemed to have been built here deliberately. Its proximity to the magnetic influences of the Flux Vortex suggested this. Whatever had happened in this place was a mystery, for all computer hardware had either been removed or destroyed.

The young doctor Paul Nitschke, son of commander Ernst Nitschke, was especially interested in this place, because it provided a unique environment to study the kind of geologic magnetism that did not exist on Earth. This location might help them to eventually find a practical application for the Flux Vortex. Since the base was located far away from any Na'vi contact, rebuilding it would not be an issue.

And so the Tempest continued to strengthen its presence on Pandora. All nearby Na'vi clans soon realized that as long as they did not bother the new intruders, they would be left alone. Most of them considered this to be much better than a full scale war. The territories that now belonged to the intruders according to the truce had been spoiled already anyway. As long as the Tempest did not violate the terms, the impact on the environment would be minimal…

2171, nine years later

Somewhere in one of Earth's largest cities, a bus had just come to a halt near an apartment building. It was equipped with orange flashing lights on its roof and bars in front of all its windows. One could mistake it for a prisoner bus, were it not for the fact that it was painted yellow, indicating it was a school bus. These precautions had not been taken to keep anyone in; they were meant to protect the children from outside threats. One of the doors of the bus now opened. A man wearing a black military uniform was the first to step out of the vehicle. There was a logo of the Tempest on his helmet and two more on the sides of each shoulder. The visor of his helmet was transparent, so that his face could be seen. Once the man had exited the bus, he looked around for a moment and finally gave a hand signal. A scrawny girl with pale skin and blond hair, who was about ten years old, now exited the bus. She was dressed in a school uniform, which was colored white and dark green. The man now escorted her to the front door of the apartment building, which was about seven meters away. Once there, the man gave a hand signal to the security guard sitting behind the desk inside. The guard recognized them and remotely unlocked the door. While the man of the Tempest held the door open for the girl, she thanked him and told him that she would see him next Monday. The man nodded with a friendly look on his face and closed the door behind her. Once he heard the electronic lock being engaged, the man returned to the bus.

The girl greeted the security guard as she walked past the desk towards the elevators. The guard admitted his concern that she hadn't been wearing her exopack outside, but the girl insisted that she was fine. It had only been for a couple of seconds and she had held her breath until she had come inside. After spending about a minute in one of the elevators, she stepped out at the forty-second floor. There, she walked through the hallway until she reached number 42-08. She inserted a card into a reader next to the front door and subsequently entered a code. The door promptly opened and she quickly went inside and locked it. Although there was nobody home, she asked for the lights to turn on, which they promptly did. She then threw her schoolbag into a corner and went to the kitchen to get something to drink. The apartment consisted of four rooms: a living room with a kitchen, a bathroom, and two bedrooms. It was one of the more luxurious apartments in this neighborhood. The girl lived here together only with her father, who was currently still at work.

Now, the girl let herself drop onto the couch near the largest window of the apartment. She looked outside and could see several neighboring buildings. In the distance there were a few towers that periodically released large flames from their tops. The few visible sections of the sky had a brownish color. A flying car of the Tempest, with red flashing lights on its roof and several search lights on its underside, was making its usual patrol through the neighborhood. The girl then noticed an airship hovering nearby. One side was covered with multiple large screens, with each one displaying something different. The first screen displayed an endless supply of commercials. The second one displayed a news broadcast of an ongoing war in some far away country. The third one displayed a logo of the Tempest, while the forth one displayed a video of the surface of Pandora. She kept watching the fourth screen for a bit longer, intrigued by the alien landscapes and the strange colors. Several seconds later, however, the landscapes were replaced by a recorded interview with the Tempest head of security on Pandora.

Bored, she turned around and asked for the TV to turn on. One of the walls of the living room of the apartment promptly lit up and began displaying more commercials. The girl sat down on the other couch, which stood directly in front of the TV wall, and used a remote to zap through the channels. She skipped over several kids channels, which broadcasted only the worst quality of cartoons in her opinion. Eventually, she reached a history channel. This channel was currently broadcasting a very old video of a boxing match. One of the competitors currently in the ring was Wilhelm Torr or the White Walrus as he kept being referred to. The girl knew who this person was, even though she had never met him. She had been taught in school that this man was the Leader of the Tempest, who had gone to Pandora years ago. His twin sons Norman and Oswald Torr had been appointed as the Leaders of the Tempest on Earth. Despite this, the girl had seen Wilhelm on TV many times. This was because some channels loved to rerun old broadcasts of speeches Wilhelm had once given about the future of humanity.

But the girl didn't really care to find out if Wilhelm had won this particular boxing match. She switched off the TV and thought about what she could do now to avoid boredom. She considered playing videogames to be a bit childish. The girl now looked at the desk in the living room on which a monitor and a keyboard were placed. Their home computer had a startup problem and her father hadn't had time to get it fixed. She decided she would give it a try.

Both school and her father had taught her many things about technology, but nothing like the things required to fix the computer. Even though she didn't really know what she was doing, she somehow had a feeling that she knew what was causing the problem. The girl now plugged in one of the memory cards, which was lying on the desk, and switched on the computer. It started up in a special mode without a graphical interface. There were only a few words on the screen, which were followed by a blinking cursor. She began to type in some words, though she didn't really think about what she was typing; she only thought about what she wanted to do, while her hands just did the rest. Every time she typed in a command and hit enter, a text message appeared on the screen, which was a clue to the next step she needed to take. After about a minute, however, she suddenly stalled and didn't know what to do now. She realized that she shouldn't have done anything in the first place as she had probably made it worse than it had been before. This realization made her nervous and she hoped her father would not find out about it.

Half an hour later, her father finally opened the front door. He was wearing a standard black Tempest military uniform. Nevertheless, he held the rank of major. After announcing that he was home, he saw his daughter sitting at the dinner table, making a drawing. When she saw him, she immediately got up and ran straight towards him to hug him. Then, she revealed she had punched a bully at school today. Her father frowned for a second, but the girl quickly explained that this one boy had been annoying her all week and that he had been the one to start the fight. With one of the teachers present, they had later talked about it and had apologized to each other. Her father nodded in approval, and reminded her that problems between two people could only be solved by talking, and that violence should only be used in defense and as a last resort when the other person refused to talk or listen. However, he did praise her for standing up for herself. He was also interested in knowing just how strong his daughter had become. This was why he held up the palm of his hand and asked her to punch his hand as hard as she could. She promptly did so and when she hit his hand, he clumsily stumbled a bit backward. Knowing he was just pretending, the girl giggled at her father's silliness.

A moment later, they went to the dinner table together, while her father asked her what she had been drawing. She told him she was drawing a forest of Pandora and that she was making it for him. Smiling, her father told her that this was very sweet of her and that he would hang it on one of the walls in the living room once she had finished it. While his daughter completed the drawing, he put two standard prefabricated meals in the microwave oven and turned it on. He now decided to take a look at their home computer. She noticed this, and started to get nervous again. However, she was surprised when her father promptly informed her that it was working again. She quickly turned around and could see the graphical interface again. The names of its two users were now being displayed on the screen. The first was Derek Nettleton, the second was Manja Nettleton.

That night, Manja had a nightmare, which seemed to go on forever. She was on Pandora, but something not right. She wasn't really herself. She was floating, and even though she could move, she could only do so by flying. However, she wasn't flying using wings; to her it felt like she was slithering like a snake through the air, because she didn't have any limbs. Wherever she went, there were more trees. When she finally reached a lake of some kind, she looked into the water to see her reflection, but only a formless stain could be seen.

At this instant, she realized she was lying in her own bed. Her heart was pounding. She now sat upright in bed and carefully looked around. Her nightlight dimly lit the room, and there was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen. Manja looked at her hands to confirm if they were really there. Then, she threw the blanket aside, and looked at her bare feet. She was really glad she was still in one piece. Manja tried for a moment to get back to sleep again, but she felt scared and lonely. This was why she got up out of her bed and went to her father's bedroom. There, she crawled up beside him and pulled his left arm over her shoulder. Even though he was in an apparently deep sleep, she felt a lot safer. It didn't take long for her now to fall asleep.

Manja did not have any more nightmares that night. She finally awoke when she heard her father closing the door of the closet a little too loudly. Derek realized he had awoken her when he heard her comment on the sudden loud noise. He apologized and told her good morning. Manja then began to explain why she hadn't slept in her own bed, mentioning that she had had a bad dream. Her father told her she didn't have to explain anything and that it was alright. Manja looked at her father for a moment, and then asked him why he was wearing his officer's uniform on a Saturday. Derek was wearing a beige suit with his rank insignia on the shoulders and all his military awards and decorations pinned to his chest. He also wore a peaked cap on his head and a black armband with the logo of the Tempest on his left arm. Derek explained that today he would be having a very special meeting concerning his reassignment to a different location. Manja sighed when he said this, since it most certainly meant they had to move to another city yet again. But Derek revealed that this new location was nothing like anywhere they had ever been before. Also, all children she knew from her school would be moving to this new location as well, since their parents, who were all members of the Tempest, had also been selected for the same reassignment. When Manja asked where this new location was, her father revealed that they were going to Pandora…