Quaritch took another sip of coffee as another wave of missiles sped from his gunships towards the massive tree towering above them.
He watched with satisfaction as the missiles penetrated the outer surface of the tree and exploded in the interior. The tree began to creek as the supporting columns began to fail. It looked like one more salvo would do it and then they could all go home just in time for tea.
Quaritch was pleased with himself and happy to be able to use his soldier toys for real. Yet despite his good humour, he felt there there was something wrong. Something was niggling him. There was a doubt nagging in his mind. He was sure there was something he had missed.
He turned his attention back to the image of destruction before him, annoyed that he had almost allowed himself to be distracted from the most spectacular event to occur since his arrival on Pandora. What ever the problem was, he was sure he could work it out after the mission.
The final salvo of missiles streaked towards the enormous tree. It really was one damn big tree. A really massively huge tree which was fortunately very close to Hell's Gate. Just a short flight away from the base.
The missiles struck the tree and exploded, finally destroying the supporting columns. The tree creaked and swayed. At first, it moved slowly to one side. And then it suddenly crashed towards the ground.
It was at that very moment that Quaritch realised what was bothering him. It was then that Quaritch knew why he had felt so uneasy. It was then that Quaritch realised that he had made a rather grave error.
An error that became apparently obvious when the huge tree crashed to the ground and landed directly on Hell's Gate, crushing everything on the base into pulp.
For a moment, there was silence in the cockpit. The two pilots looked at each other wide-eyed.
Quaritch stood impassively and took another sip of coffee, gulping the liquid down hard.
One of the pilots broke the silence.
"Er, sir. We have lost all contact with the base, sir."
Quaritch stood in silence Looking out at the scene of destruction. No one said anything for a few seconds.
"What just happened, sir?" Asked the co-pilot, his voice trembling.
"Oops" Said Quatitch.
The pilots looked at each other again, and the up at Quaritch with questioning expressions on their faces.
"Mmm, Yes. It appears that I severely overestimated the distance from the base...And severely underestimated the size of the tree."
The two pilots looked at each other in silence again, then stared blankly out of the windscreen. Nether dared to look at Quaritch.
"It looks like we won't be back in time for tea after all." Said Quaritch.
A couple of hours later, Neytiri and Mo'at were looking upon their destroyed Hometree from a distance as the Na'vi trooped despondently away towards their new refuge at the Tree of Souls.
Tears filled Neytiri's eyes as she looked upon the desolation.
"Oh, well. It could be worse." Said Mo'at.
Neytiri looked at her in disbelief.
"What do you mean it could be worse. We told the Skypeople about the unobtanium and they destroyed Hometree."
"It's not so bad. At least we didn't tell them about the unexistium."