AN: First off, I would like to thank my new beta Atharos for doing a truly amazing job editing and improving the draft. A true life saver. We are still asking if anyone else would like to help beta, its always good to have more opinions. Secondly, I would like to thank everyone who took to the time to read the first chapter. A special thanks to those who liked, favorited, and reviewed Not Just Another Rock. It made me feel all mushy, and inspired to take my time to plan this and not rush it for you.
Chapter 2: Moon Landing
Harry's tail flicked back and forth as he followed the RDA truck through the thick underbrush. The truck had a large rotating turret on the top, housing a heavy machine gun. It irritated him, that it had taken this long to finally catch the RDA in the act of snatching the indigenous. On silent feet Harry sprinted after the matte black truck, desperate not to lose his only lead. Tracking charms were stuck to the truck, and even Fawkes followed the truck, invisible in the sky. This morning the RDA had done the unthinkable and kidnapped a child, and Harry feared that it was life and death.
Harry slowed as the truck approached Hell's Gate.
'Dang.' Harry thought remembering the power of the camps guns.
"Fawkes." Harry whispered, the phoenix appearing in front of him in a burst of flames. "Don't lose that truck, come back and get me when it stops."
Silently Fawkes flamed away again, leaving Harry alone in the faint blue luminescence of the Forrest. Taking out his wand, he tapped himself on the head making himself disappear. For several hours Harry sat invisible among the trees, watching the sun slowly rise as he waited for Fawkes.
When Harry reappeared with Fawkes, he was on a balcony that looked down into the storage room of the refinery. The pair watched silently as the marines wrestled a bound blue child, from the back of the truck. Her whimpering could be heard from under the sack they had over her head.
'Why bring them here Fawkes?' Harry thought silently, hands double checking his gear as he prepared to rescue the child.
Harry hesitated as the Marines walked across the store room to halt in front of the wall covered with a huge instrument panel. The wall started to lower into the ground after a soldier typed on a control pad. A long hallway big enough for a truck to drive in sloped downwards behind the panel quickly came into view. Harry's jaw dropped as twenty or more heavily armed soldiers poured out of the hidden hallway, guns pointed at the ready.
Unable to attack such a large and heavily armed force, Harry watched helplessly as they tagged her, and reloaded her into the truck. Driving into the tunnel with the heavy escort walking beside it, the instrument panel sliding back up in place behind them.
'We can't storm this alone. We must warn the people.' Harry thought to Fawkes. 'Take us to Hometree.'
A shockwave rattled Harry's teeth as he reappeared at the edge of the village. Na'vi screamed as they raced towards him. Thick smoke billowed up from the base of Hometree. In slow motion, Harry watched in horror as the tree started fall in his direction, its shattered base no longer able to support the weight.
Sound ceased to exist as Harry looked away from the falling tree, the terror on the faces of the Omaticaya people to close to escape. With a wordless scream Harry thrusts both blue hands upwards at the tree above him, not even bothering to draw his wand.
The tree shuddered to a stop, raw magic pouring from his hands as he struggled to hold the massive tree up. Bleary seconds pass by as Harry strained to keep the tree aloft to buy the people time.
With a final yell Harry's body gave out. A last feeling of warmth enveloped him as the world fades to black.
Nine months previous.
In a world where you were a single soul of 18 billion, life meant nothing. Even food had become an expensive luxury for the rich. With a population that large, there was no sustainable way to grow enough food for its population. Famine ran rampant. Wars were waged over farmland, over life. Earths destruction came as the forests burned, as the world fought its last wars. The world no longer able recover from such devastation. It was as we approached this doom, starvation due to population density, made worse by war, when a young RDA saved the day.
For the poorest of poor, it was a pill. An entirely synthetic supplement that replaced food, and required minimal chemicals to produce. For the upper classes a fake food was created that looked, smelled, and almost tasted real. Synthetic down to the crumb, food for the expendable population, printed on 3D printers. Even the rich were affected, meat became nonexistent, but they had the funds to clone such luxuries. It was part of the reason that going to Pandora was such a desirable thing. Many workers had never tasted real food before, not even the fake stuff. On Pandora, a real food meal was served. Despite its hardships the trip to Pandora was an opportunity most of the of world dreamed about.
The last wars for food had destroyed most of the remaining plant life on Earth. Urban growth to support the population had consumed most of the viable farmland. Even more land was fouled in the food wars, by the vengeful retreating forces of long extinct nations. The scarce land remaining held the last remnant of natural life. The last trees existed in a protected enclosure in Brazil, however, despite the best efforts of the staff the trees continued to wilt. A network of large carbon scrubbers kept the world breathable for now.
The wars burned the forests, cities consumed the farm land. It was a lonely grey-blue Earth I left.
The world I left was not the one I grew up in. I know I shouldn't dwell, but seeing the destruction first hand, living beyond my years. I can honestly say I am disgusted with our inherent capacity for destruction. Our world was wonderful, our world gave life, our world took care of us. We destroyed, we killed, we took, and eventually Earth had nothing left to give.
If our ship traveling beyond the speed of light, crashed head on with an asteroid leaving no survivors, I doubt the people of Earth would care. It's only five hundred peasants, what does it matter?
I'm floating, certainly. Still in space? Yes, good. Has it been five years? The cryo-bunk isn't opening. Did I wake up too soon? I can't open my eyes. Damn.
They say that cryo is low risk. In reality, one in 10,000 never wakes up again. One in 30,000 lose all muscle memory, forced to learn every simple body function all over again. Everything from how to hold your bladder, to walking, and working. One in 50,000 get trapped in mind-bending hallucinations for the entirety of their time asleep. Unable to wake up, unable to escape. A journey that is supposed to feel instantaneous, becomes five years of slow torture. Reducing their victim to an uncoordinated shade of their former self, unable to survive for long even on life support. The RDA would have time for cases such as this on a return trip. But on Pandora, they barely gave the effort to euthanize the unfortunate.
Understandably, I was quite concerned that I would be one of the unlucky ones. I didn't believe that I would die, fate had far too much fun with me to let me perish in such a simple and unexciting way. Although surviving this long to perish in a routine flight would be a tale of irony for the ages, if only someone knew. Having to learn how to do everything again would something of fate's style. One hundred fifty years of perfecting my casting technique and movements, gone in a blink of an eye. As shaky and uncoordinated as a new born babe. While I did fear these two complications, they still were more desirable than being trapped in my mind. I feared the what might come out of the darkness, the distant, but vivid memories of the wars I have fought in. The past I have fought to forget, clawing their way to the surface. Five years of reliving the deaths of my family, and friends.
Unfortunately, one of these complications did occur. Selfishly, I was not the unlucky one.
"Come on." I somehow manage to mumble.
"Take that odds, I'm waking up!"
The air rushes to equalize as the automated system releases our cryo bunk. My eyes finally overpower the drugs but the ship's stark white interior Is blinding.
"Bu..Barney? Are you okay?" I hear a raspy voice from behind me.
I smile, my eyes still flickering open and closed. "I'm here Evaline, you alright?"
"Oh thank goodness. Barney I was stuck inside one of those living dreams, it was amazing! You were there, there was a beach, and oh, the things you were doing with your..." she began enthusiastically.
"Only you." I cut her off, rolling my eyes. I'm still squinting as my eyes adjust. Bunks are opening to my left, right, and above me in the multi-tiered room. I notice a couple of medical attendants floating towards us from the far end of the cryo chambers.
"You have been in cryo for five years, nine months and twenty two days. You will be hungry, you will be weak. If you feel nausea, please use the sacks provided for your convenience." The med tech shouts loudly as he floats over to our bunk. The tech goes around back helping Evaline first. If the giggling is anything to go by, she's shaking off the effects quickly.
" Alright miss, you can release yourself and head to medical through that door."
Eventually my own primary check is over with, and we grab our bags. I double check the trunk in my pant pockets sighing with relief when I feel its tiny form. We push off the lockers, and I'm floating hand and hand with the beautiful blonde...ahem, I mean with Evaline towards medical.
"Holy shit." Evaline swears beside me, her mouth agape. "Holy shit! Barney! Trees!"
The Cryo block is connected to the medical bay by a tunnel. Said tunnel has a massive bay window, which currently is featuring a spectacular view of my new home. Pandora. I am rendered speechless by its pure, undisturbed magnificence. Its clear atmosphere, blue oceans, and dense green organic canopy covering everything it seemed. The miniscule grey dot that I could barely pick out, was the only symptom of the RDA's infection spreading here. It wont get far if I can help it.
"Wow." I whisper dumbly, as Evaline excitedly pulls me in for a hug. Her violet blue eyes sparkling with unguarded excitement, dangerously close to my own.
I made it Fawkes, Pandora here I come.
It would have been nice if we just shuttled down to hells gate immediately once we woke up but in reality, we were on the interplanetary shuttle for almost a week. Our bodies have been in a sort of forced hibernation for more than five years. The following seven days are filled with lengthy physicals, surveillance, and mostly boredom. We are pumped full of water to flush the cryo toxins from our bodies, and fake food. The first chewable food for many aboard the ship. A schedule for the shuttles fondly nicknamed Valkyries are handed out. I am relieved to see Evaline and I are on the second Valkyrie to be launching to the surface.
We wouldn't find out until we had landed that Kevin, the other male Avatar driver was the one in 10,000 who never woke up from cryo.
Miles Quaritch POV
Okay, I'm officially excited, as are all the other personnel in the Valkyrie that's scheduled to descend to the surface in 10 minutes. There are many faces pale with worry as they strap into their seats, nervous for the flight. This isn't just a lucrative job on a faraway moon, but a chance to get back into the fight. On one side of the shuttle were 25 hardened soldiers, necessary to ensure the safety of Hells Gate. Another 150 would be shuttling down within the week to boost the numbers.
I'd been bored in my cozy job back on earth training recruits. It had been a long time since I was in a war zone. I'll admit I was excited to get back into the fray and test my mettle against this new alien life form. As were all these highly trained men and women with me, all of them ex-special forces. The best. My new job was second in command to Head of security for Pandora, with my eventual promotion in 5-10 years after the current head, Claude Davis' retirement.
On the other side of the cargo in space cases, I had an additional 24 civilian personnel, medical professionals, miners, and other riff-raff. As I was informed in briefing, there was a seat near the door available for me. It was my job to make sure these civilians put their exopacks and made it to the OP for a safety debrief quickly and without incident.
Pandora was not a safe place for humans. I had seen the pictures of the bodies, I had seen the footage of bizarre monsters that attacked Hells Gate. The RDA was constantly besieged by the wildlife and even the indigenous life form on this planet. Luckily, we had superior firepower, and superior training. Still hopefully only a few demonstrations will be necessary to keep the natives at bay, I'm sure I'll have enough to contend with thanks to the wildlife, let alone the indigenous.
As I approached my seat I get interrupted by a pair of science buffs trying to fit their luggage into the overhead netting. Fixing the black haired man and the blonde next to him with my best intimidating glare, I tried to convey my annoyance. My glare had the expected response from the blonde, as she glanced down immediately uncomfortable. The black haired man returned my stare without flinching which was surprising, I liked him immediately.
"Colonel." He said respectfully, as I sat down next to him.
"There's no need for formalities doctor, that's for my subordinates. Call me Miles."
"Only if you call me Barney. This is Evaline." He responds, pointing to the blond beside him.
"What brings you to Pandora Barney." I ask curious.
"I am an Avatar driver. Here to learn about the indigenous peoples."
"I've read some interesting things about the, Na'vi, is it. Our introductory brief said that they have naturally occurring Carbon-fibre bones, wouldn't have minded something like that during training."
"You have a good source of information, the carbon fiber grows in a weave throughout the bone giving the Na'vi insane strength. What about you Miles?" The kid asks.
"I'm second in command after the current head of Security, I will be taking over after his retirement probably after your cycle." I say not without a little bit of pride, it's an exciting opportunity.
"Nice, here for a long time then. Any idea what in store for us when we land?"
"Bit of a run, safety debrief, rules, and a whole bunch of tours. Boring stuff really. Although I think I remember something in the briefing about a real food feast for everyone tonight."
"That sounds perfect."
Location: Hells Gate
As the Valkyrie's rear door slowly lowered Harry got his first view Pandora, carefully wrapped in RDA concrete and electric fences. In the distance, beyond the defences was life. Trees as tall as the ones that used to dominate the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts lay beyond the fence, just without the dark ominous shadows. The lush growth was so dense Harry could hardly see more than a metre into the forest. Harry could only see two buildings from the his seat, one looked to be some type of refinery, smoke billowing out of its stacks.
"Unobtainium processing." Harry growled under his breath, his comment lost in the noise of the Valkyrie's engines as they powered down. The Unobtainium was processed directly on Pandora. It allowed for the RDA to ship the finished product, which was worth more per pound than raw Unobtainium.
The ramp fully lowered to the tarmac, Harry's new friend Miles shouting harshly was enough to break Harry out of his trance.
"Go Go GO!" The Miles yelled. Harry cringed slightly as he was closest to commander. Harry took off at a fast jog, carrying his bag with his right hand as he was directed to what he assumed was the Operations center, where they would receive a debrief and transport to their quarters by the tunnels on base. Soldiers lined the path to the Operations center, to keep them from straying off course. His exopack mask itched as he began to sweat in the humid air of Pandora.
"It's so beautiful Barney, oh I wish..." Harry could hear Evaline's mumbled words from behind him as they jogged.
Harry, however, was not paying any attention, he was too busy trying to absorb his surroundings. He had heavily researched the camp but it was another thing to see it in person. The camp had a pentagonal shape occupying an area of 3.6 square miles. The Electric fence was protected by heavy weapon emplacements mounted on towers at each of the five points. Four smaller towers were spaced equally in-between the heavy towers, creating an overlapping field of fire to defend against the air and land-borne threats of Pandora. The guns were massive, providing undisputed security against the unorganized attacks of the native Pandorans. AMP suit drivers were patrolling the interior perimeter of the fence, armored giants providing even more additional security. They were a new addition after the first colonists were nearly overrun by the wildlife, unable to adequately defend themselves with their small calibre weapons.
The large runway seemed to take up more than a third of the space, runway personal and vehicles with numerous helicopters readying to go dotted the tarmac. A similar area is occupied by vehicle storage, the armour vault. Light industrial plant mainly used for fabricating parts for mining equipment, and ammunition for base defence. The OPS center dominated the center of the camp, with a huge tower like command post. With 360 degree visibility of the surrounding landscape. Scattered around it were smaller buildings like SpecOps barracks, habitation module, and the Avatar Complex.
An air raid siren wailed out across camp just as Harry was half way to the door. The group paused dead stop, looking up. Despite his age, Harry's eyes found the form of the banshee directly above him quickly, diving straight down towards the tarmac rapidly. Two hundred feet from the ground the camps deafening heavy guns started up. Tracer rounds in tight lines screamed from the heavy towers upwards to intercept the banshee, while the soldiers on the ground raised their own weapons and added to the wall of munitions. The banshee disappeared in a cloud of red mist as the bullets ripped through it, chunks of mangled flesh flew off in all directions.
Harry started moving before the big guns had ceased firing. Harry turned around, and took three rushed steps before he threw himself at Evaline, his body rolling underneath in the air to absorb their fall. Using their momentum as he landed on his back hard, Harry rolled her over onto her back and placed a hand on each side of her head, holding his body above her as a human shield. Harry closed his eyes, as a wet thud resonated from where Evaline had stood mere seconds ago, as the banshee corpse impacted the runway. Wet blood soaked the back of Harry's clothes, small miscellaneous pieces of banshee flesh landed around him. Pain shot through Harry's body as a few pieces impact his back, and legs. The air rushed from his lungs as something sharp pierced his upper back. A wail escaped someone off to Harry's right ten or so feet away.
Harry slowly opened his eyes, his ears still ringing from the big guns. Evaline's eyes were scrunched tight, her balled up fists clenching the front of shirt on his chest. The loud retort of a handgun cracked from mere feet behind Harry, his eyes slamming shut again automatically as the sound startled him.
"All clear!" A soldier shouts from direction of the handgun.
"Medic!" Someone screams, unleashing confusion.
"Fuck! Duke is down." Another screams out, Amp suits sprinting to the area from across the tarmac, thundering with their heavy metal feet as they race towards the beast.
"Hell's Gate! Hell's Gate, we have men on the ground. I repeat…"
Chancing a glance to his right, Harry opened his eyes to see the wounded soldier. The soldier was half slouched on his knees limply, his arms loose at his side with his gun beside him. His head limply hung backwards. A bone as tall as a man had been splintered out of the banshee by the guns. It had separated from the wing and speared him through the chest just below the throat, holding him slightly upright. A soldier looked on helpless as a medic rushed up opening his kit to evaluate his friend. Harry looked down, trying to swallow the bile rising in his throat. The man was dead, Harry had been in enough wars to know it the man was beyond saving, no matter how hard his friends tried.
"You okay Evaline?" Harry managed to rasp out, labouring to get a breath. Not wanting to look up again, afraid of the familiar desperation in the medic's eyes.
"Yes...Barney are you…"
"Biofoam! Easy son..." The medic's shouts drown out Evaline. There was the sound of boots making wet soppy sounds in the growing pool of blood, before a slapping sound as knees appeared beside him.
"Possible wounded! A lot of blood, can't tell who's! Medic!" The person shouted above them, placing a hand on his arm. "I see puncture wounds to the back and legs. Can you hear me?"
"Its alright duke," The medic softly consoles the dying man.
"Yes." Harry rasped again.
"Good. Just stay put, try to stay still doc is on his way. Can you hear me miss?
"Yes." Evaline said shakily, finally opening her eyes.
Giving him a pat on the arm, the soldier stood. "Everyone able to move, get into the base NOW! Move! Move! Move!" A stampede of feet thunders past, in full sprint to the OPS center.
"Doc!" The soldier yells again, leaning back down.
New squishy foot steps sprint over, splashing his arm with more blood as the doc drops down beside him. Two bloody fingers press to Harry's neck, as the doc simultaneously checks Evaline, which impresses Harry greatly. The medic is obviously a hardened vet.
"Lady stable, priority male. Can you hear me?"
"Can you breathe?"
"Yes...it bloody hurts though." Fingers probe around the base of the of one of the objects stuck in his back. Harry can feel warm blood around its base as the doc gently feels.
"You have to stay still. Multiple punctures. No punctures near the spine, one in right thigh. Evac priority! I need stretchers! Prepare to move! Can you move your toes?" The medic informs Harry already cutting the shirt down the center.
"Yes!" Harry bites out as the pain increases, adrenalin leaving his system.
"Good. Your fingers?" Doc asks cutting irregular pieces of cloth, from the main patch of the back. Harry assumes each piece left is around the punctures. Three pieces Harry counts so far.
"Ba..Barney?" Evaline chokes out from below her hand trembling.
"Quiet!" The doc shouts at her harshly. "No pain in your neck?
Docs fingers probe Harry's neck. "Ready to move. You're going to be all right son, you're going to have to wait until I get you in for any pain killers, only a couple more minutes."
"Evaline?" Harry tries to call, barely able to get any air behind his words.
'Stretchers sir." A soldier announces rolling out a stretcher next to Harry and Evaline, before six pairs of hands position themselves on Harry's body.
"Careful on the lift. Son put your arms straight forward off the end, it's going to hurt like a bitch. On three. One. Two. Three."
Harry hisses with pain as he is lifted off Evaline, his shirt staying behind in her still clasped hands. Their eyes meet as he is lifted to the stretcher, Harry trying not to shout out in pain as his muscles spasm. "Evaline!" He manages to get out through clenched teeth as two marines lift him up on the stretcher to a truck he had failed to notice arrive.
"Barney!" Evaline replies, tears now flowing freely as the doc and two other soldiers hold her down as she tries to get up.
"Don't worry, she'll be right behind you. I'm bringing her in right after you. Second truck's eta is one minute." A second medic tells Harry as they strap him to the truck. Jumping off the truck he taps doc on the shoulder, taking his place with a struggling Evaline to take care of her.
Harry can vaguely hear the doc shouting something, as the truck accelerates. The last thing he sees is a soldier putting a blanket over their fallen comrade.
"mhhmm what?" Harry manages to mumble as the world begins to blur, claiming him to blackness.
Location: Hell's Gate
Harry was something of an expert when it came to waking up in hospital rooms. The room was as usual, painfully bright. The nurse forces nasty pill or potion down your throat. Doctor rushes in tells you you've been out for couple days, a week, and once even a year. It was, though, the first time Harry woke up laying on his stomach, and more importantly it had also been a long time since Harry had woken up with someone holding his hand. Soft blond hair was fanned out on the bed by his hand. The woman in question had slumped forward in her chair onto his bed.
"Evaline," Harry tries squeezing her hand, immensely relieved she is alright. "Evaline, wake up."
"mmhm" She mumbles, pulling Harry hand up to her lips.
Blushing Harry tries again, "Evaline, Honey, wake up."
"Barney, five more minutes." She incoherently mumbles again.
"Barney!" Evaline's head snaps up awake, they stare at each other briefly. Tears pooling in the corners of her eyes as she makes eye contact with him.
"Oh Barney." She babbles quietly leaning her forehead against his on the pillow, sliding her free arm under his pillow, tears freely leaking down her face.
"Sshhh" Harry tries, freeing his left hand up to stroke her hair his hand cupping her face. " I'm alright…"
Evaline cut him off her voice trembling as she cries, moving her free hand to hold his shoulder. Careful to avoid touching his back. " I thought I had lost you. There was so much blood, and you had a claw and bones shards sticking out of your back. You saved my life."
"And you...you almost got yourself killed." Evaline manages to get out closing her eyes.
"Hey, hey Evaline I'm alright." Harry tries thumbing away some of the tears.
"You can't die Barney." She presses closer in, her wet nose now touching his.
The words pierce Harry to the core, and somewhere deep inside his ancient heart he feels a warmth again. Something he had once known and lost, something he had chosen to forget.
"You too." Harry says simply, so close now he could feel her breath on his lips.
She opens her eyes, her violet blue eyes still glistening with tears look into his own. There is more truth to the phrase that 'the eyes don't lie' than many will ever understand.
A soft voice clearing there throat at the end of their bed ends the moment, Evaline slowly pulls away, but does not untangle herself from him. Harry smiles crookedly at her blushing face as they share a smile, pleased that neither had sprang away from the other like kids caught doing something they shouldn't be.
"Dr. Stinson." A female doctor walked around to the side of the bed into his field of vision. Evaline releases him, sitting up in her chair, still holding his hand. The doctor had startling blue hair and was holding a holding a glass monitor. Harry could see his vitals in reverse on the glass. "My name is Dr. Rose Carlson, I am very relieved to see you awake. How are you feeling?"
"A little stiff, but over all not too bad considering." Harry said evaluating his body for the first time.
"Good you remember. Any numbness in your toes?"
"Nope, nice and warm." Harry responds wiggling his toes under the covers.
"Excellent, you gave us quite a scare. You have been out for 5 days." Harry appreciates Rose's bluntness, doctors tend to skirt around things, thankfully less so with other doctors.
Harry sighs, "How bad?"
"They came close to losing you on the way in. You had lost so much blood by the time they had gotten you to me, I still have no idea how you pulled through it. You were in surgery for 22hrs. Three puncture wounds on your back, and one the thigh dangerously close to your femoral artery, how it managed to not cut it is still beyond me. The large claw from the banshee's wing was the worst, it had punctured a lung, and it collapsed sometime after they had gotten you on the truck. The others were pieces of splintered carbon fiber reinforced bone, they were easier to remove, and had missed the important stuff. A couple broken and cracked ribs. Overall, exceptionally lucky considering a two ton of corpse nearly landed on the two of you."
"I can't thank you enough." Harry said after a sigh, meeting the concerned eyes of Evaline. "How long will I be stuck here?"
Rose bites her lip, seeming to be struggling to find words. "Normally I would say another two weeks, but...I have never seen anyone heal like you do."
Mixed emotions flit across Harry's face. As a kid his fast healing had saved his life many times. Harry's gene was waking up.
Rose tries again, mistaking the look on Harry's face for confusion. " Your wounds, they...look like wounds that are already several weeks old. Far ahead of what they should look like at this point, I've never seen anything like it. Even the bones are beginning to knit together already."
"I've always been a fast healer." Harry tries to laugh it off weakly. This was not the kind of attention he wanted to draw to himself, or his magic. Even Evaline is giving him an odd look. " So maybe discharged today?"
"Maybe. We'll see how you do sitting up, but as long as that doesn't cause you too much pain I don't see any reason you couldn't stay in your own room. You would have to check in with me first thing in the morning and before night though. I still need to check your stitches and change your dressings on your back twice a day." Rose says, flipping through different readings and x-rays on her monitor concentrating.
"I could change them." Evaline offers, blushing furiously immediately after she offers. Harry squeezes her hand smiling.
Rose gives her a long look. "That could work, you are both doctors after all. You must come in immediately if you feel any sharp pains, and I expect to see you every three days regardless."
"Thank you Dr. Carlson, we will." Evaline answers, Harry still distracted gazing at their joined hands.
It takes a bit of time but eventually they get Harry sitting upright without too much effort. They decide on a wheel chair for a week to keep him off his leg, crutches being too much movement for his back. Thankfully Evaline had brought him a new set of clothes from his bag so he could change out of the hospital gown. After may promises to not over exert himself, and that he wouldn't spend too much time in a link until the stitches were out, Harry found himself being pushed towards the exit by Evaline, Dr. Carlson walking by their side. A big bag of medical supplies was hanging from the back of the wheel chair, and a box containing the bone shards and the long black claw of the Banshee that had almost killed him. They were almost at the door when Harry held up a hand to stop Evaline.
"Dr. Carlson, what happened to the clothing I was wearing?" Harry asked, fear quickly working its way into his stomach, as he clawed through the box on his lap.
"I sorry Barney, we couldn't save it. I had to cut it off. It was so drenched in blood, we just tossed it in the garbage. It's probably been incinerated by now, like all hospital waste. I couldn't find anything in your pockets. I put your family ring in the box." Rose looked on confused, worried she had messed up.
Harry wasn't listening anymore, his horror blatant on his face. His trunk had been in his trouser pocket.
Harry was quiet all the way to the avatar complex where their living quarters were, content to let Evaline wheel him towards his room. Evaline had noticed but hadn't pressed too much on the subject, he had explained his shock off by saying by saying he had lost the only trinket he had left of his family. The hallways had a very clinical feel to them, bare pipes and electrical conduits lined the walls, and there were no windows. Packed with people as researchers sped one way or another, it wasn't long before Evaline and Harry had reached his room. Snatching his key card from around his neck, she opened the door and wheeled him in. Pulling the medical bag off the back of the chair she threw it on the bed and taking the box with his stuff, she placed it on his desk. It was a small room with a bed, wardrobe, a door to private washroom, and a desk in the corner.
"Alright! No more moping, what's gone is gone." Evaline proclaimed, pulling him out of his room back into the hall. "I know what will cheer you up. Let's go towards the link room!"
"I guess that could cheer me up." Harry said, finding truth in her words.
Turning his chair to face the opposite door, she crouched down and took out her own key-card. "Oh the link room is not what will cheer you up." She says softly leaning in closer to the face. "I meant our rooms are opposite to each other."
When they had started moving again they hadn't made it more than ten steps before they were intercepted by the head of their department Grace Augustine.
She wears a smirk and an unlit cigarette as she stops and looks down at Harry. Leaning forward she pokes him in the chest lightly. "You are the luckiest son of a bitch I know. The lost child of Pandora! I hope your first experience hasn't put you off Pandorian wildlife."
"An honour to meet you Dr. Augustine." Harry replies nodding towards her.
"I got the news this morning that you had woken up. A good thing too, Evaline here was driving me crazy. Refused to leave the hospital except to sleep until you woke." Grace grins at Evaline making her blush, standing back up. "Two new people in my department who I haven't even had a proper conversation with and yet one is out of action and the other comatose before they get in the door. I think you'll fit in quite well here."
"Well I hate to disappoint, had to make an entrance." Harry says cheekily, giving her a smirk.
"Best not try again, or I'll bury my boot so far up your ass that you'll be able to taste boot polish." With a sweet smile she spins around, leaving the pair gaping. "Well, come on, don't block the hallway all day. I'd like to get you into your bodies today, make sure they are working fine. I had a tech team start prepping your avatars when I heard you woke up. Unfortunately we need to have a talk first, I have some bad news for you guys that I need to get you up to speed on."
Picking up the pace, the trio made it to the link room about two minutes later. The room is massive with about a dozen psionic link units, looking disturbingly like coffins circling a cluster of control computers in the center of the room. The one side of the room has a big window, down into a medical room, where two Na'vi bodies, his and Evaline's are being prepped.
"Barney, stop straining to see out that window. If you re-injure yourself I'm going to have you chained to that chair." Grace called over to him, leaning out of a side room. "If you would step into the board room I would like to get this over with."
"Isn't she warm and fuzzy." Evaline mutters under her breath, as she pushes Harry into the room. Removing a chair at the end of the table so she can roll his chair up to the big table. Taking the seat next to his, she gives one of his hands a squeeze under the table.
"We have a lot to get through. Most of it not good either." Grace says seriously, dropping in a seat on the other side of Harry.
"First off I would like to thank you Barney for saving Evaline. I heard the story. You have an exceptionally quick thinking mind. I had feared the worse when I heard of your injuries, and I didn't sleep at all for the whole of your surgeries. You two, Barney and Evaline, are my last two avatar drivers from your class." Grace said softly, running a tired hand over her face.
"What?!" Evaline blurted, unable to help herself. "What happened to Kevin and Julia?"
"Kevin we've know about for a while, about six months into the flight his neurological sensor went dead. Zero brain activity, he never woke up from cryo. Two years later Julia's Na'vi body died in incubation. An unexpected mutation, apparently her Na'vi gene wasn't as good a match as we hoped. It happens, but couldn't be at a worse time. She is still on the ISV, it was seen as an unnecessary risk to shuttle her down. For good reason, yours wasn't the first banshee to follow a Valkyrie back to camp, it happens more often than you'd think. They are both hard loses, emotionally and financially for the department. Especially now that with how relations deteriorating with the Na'vi."
Harry glanced at Evaline who is staring at her hands. He knows this is hitting her hard, the dangers they went through during training seemed like such an unlikely event. It could have easily been one of them who didn't wake up in cryo. Giving her shoulder a squeeze as she sniffs Harry tries to moves the conversation along. "What's happening with Na'vi?"
"Corporate greed!" Grace explodes standing, pacing back and forth. "The RDA under the influence of our fearless leader are making a push to expand output, pushing the mine farther out into the wild. These pushes require roads, new dig sites, and he seems to be hitting every freaking sacred area the Omaticaya clan care about. And to make things worse, the armed monkeys providing security have shot a couple Na'vi who were trying to explain to them why couldn't dig there. The last months has been full of small skirmishes, our loses have almost been as bad as theirs. Tensions are mounting and if we don't get a fucking grip on this soon, the RDA will destroy them."
"There's been shootings? Why haven't we heard anything of this?" Evaline demanded.
"Things only started downhill shortly after you left Earth. We have been transformed from researchers able to explore Pandora without exopacks into ambassadors trying to keep the peace with the Na'vi, when the RDA refuses to compromise on anything. Parker is hoping that because we look like them we will be able to calm them down. We've gotten a massive boost in funding, in hope we can turn things around. To make things worse Na'vi are disappearing around Pandora outside of the skirmishes, no bodies have been found in these cases. It's only increasing their distrust for us. The only silver lining is that the Omaticaya haven't forced me to close the school in their village yet."
"You will both get a chance to teach at the school. We have been teaching them English and how to read. The Omaticaya village is amazing, they live inside of this giant, and I mean giant tree. It is one thing to read about their culture, but to be truly surrounded by it is something magical. I fear if things don't change soon, that we may very well be banished from the village." Grace said collapsing into her chair, out of steam.
Harry could help smile, she seemed to have a mouth like a pirate. "Bloody hell, it's too bad Kevin and Julia couldn't be here with us. It sure seems like we could use more Na'vi hands."
Grace's bittersweet smile surprises him, "On that note I have some news. The RDA granted us emergency cargo space on the ship after yours after we had learned that we had lost Kevin. Not all of the 2150s were ready, but two more will be arriving on the next ship, along with more mobile link platforms."
"That's great news! Who's the luckily two? Tom? Or Samantha?" Evaline said excitedly, seeming to have gotten her mind around Kevin's end.
The frown which smothered her smile was unexpected. "Tom Sulley and Norm Spellman were the two chosen to come to Pandora. Tom's Avatar will be coming to Pandora, Tom will not."
"Why would they send Tom's Avatar without him?" Evaline asked confused.
Harry closed his eyes and ran his hand over his face, there was only one explanation. Harry had gotten on well with Tom during training. "Tom has a brother, Jake. An identical twin, he didn't talk about him to many people at training because they haven't spoken to each other in years. If Tom is dead, Jake will be running Tom's Avatar." Harry deadpanned his eyes still closed.
"Yes." Grace spat bitterly. "A mugger with a gun got him a few days before launch. Jake is an ex-marine, and another monkey with a gun."
"Jake was paralyzed in the last food war." Harry adds looking Grace in the eye. "I don't think he's a danger to us."
Grace was silent for a long time. Her stare boring into the two of them in turns, the silence in the board room was painful. "No. I don't believe he will be, but we must be careful. We cannot afford to lose another Avatar."
Standing Grace went over to the door, and Evaline grasped Harry's chair, pulling it out from the table. "Enough of this conversation, let's have some fun. It time to wake up your new alter egos."
Location: Avatar Compound
Harry was standing in the midst of a garden. The air smelled fresh, the soil was soft beneath his feet, and an audible hum of the electric fences was still detectable in the air. In one of the far corners, the RDA had allocated some space, with plants, and foods more compatible for these bodies. The idea was familiarization with their new avatars, train for untamed Pandora, and keep the avatars in their natural environment, since they began to waste away inside any facility. So when it's time go out into the wilds of Pandora they are ready, and don't make stupid mistakes. Smart really, considering just how expensive avatars were.
Right now, Harry was trying to call Fawkes through their connection. Magical radiation was thick in the air; he could feel the energy tingling in his new bones. With his avatar sleeping outside exposed this amount of magical radiation, his avatar's gene was becoming active. Harry still wasn't strong enough to call Fawkes through their bond, but that was only an amount of time. The radiation was minimal inside the complex, the RDA scrubbers doing their job exceptionally well. What Harry hadn't expected was a sort of umbilical cord effect between him and his avatar body. His avatar body' exposure was fuelling his real body's gene, his healing speeds already accelerating, and Harry could now cast a weak lumos wandlessly.
Harry's initial plans of deserting camp soon as he got to Pandora and became active had been derailed quite dramatically. The loss of the trunk was a crippling; he had no supplies, no weapons, or anything he had prepared in advance. He didn't dare consider leaving base with only his wandless magic, which Harry was pained to admit didn't include a vast variety of spells. Until he could make a wand he was defenceless to Pandora's wildlife. Another problem is Harry had no ingredients for a soul swapping potion anymore either, and there was no way he was leaving into the wild stuck in his human body. Stealing a link unit wasn't an option; it was a poor temporary fix.
Turning, Harry walked over to Evaline, who was trying out different Na'vi foods a few steps away. "I think I'm going to call it a day."
"Alright," Evaline flashed him a blue grin, her bio-luminescent dots brightening. "I have to stay for a couple hours yet, Grace said it's my turn to run the training course. Will you be alright?"
"I should be fine, just don't break my record." Harry says in parting ruffling her hair.
Parking his avatar in a bed under a bug net, Harry unlinks. The link hums as the lid opens; Max is waiting for him with a grin. "Welcome back Barney."
"Hey Max, Cruella is keeping Evaline for a bit longer yet." Stepping out of the link, his leg hardly bothering him as he does so. "Figured I'd take this opportunity to grab a beer, want to join?"
"Wish I could Barney, but Grace's overtime means my overtime. I have to keep an eye on their screens. Next Time." Max says with a sigh, stepping back into the control center.
"I'll hold you too it." Harry shouts as he exits.
The Hallway to the rec bar is packed, the facility being shared by all departments. Its well after supper already, one tended to lose track of time in the link. Harry could walk again, something he is grateful for; a wheel chair drew a lot of attention on in Hell's Gate.
Just before the bar, Harry noticed the flashing sign for the holo-booths. He sighed; he had been putting this off long enough. Harry knew what was waiting in the mail for him but it wasn't going to make seeing it any easier. Harry stepped into a vacant booth closed the curtain, scanned his card, and submitted to the retinal scan.
"Welcome." A disembodied voice sounds throughout the cubicle. A large interface screen flickering to life in front of him. "You have 47new holo-mail messages."
Lots were just random garbage, his first paycheck notice, Hell's Gate monthly news, and a Hell's gate virtual tour. Eight, however, were the last messages of a friend who has departed on the next great adventure. With trembling fingers Harry selects the first message from Tom.
The interface whirrs to life, Tom's face popping up on the screen. He appears to be in the Avatar classroom on earth. "Hey Barney! Can't believe you four have left already, you lucky bastard…"
Towards the end of the second one Harry is not really hearing the words anymore. He's lost in his thoughts from home, memories of a good friend who he would never see again. It seemed so hard to believe that Tom was gone, his laughing carefree attitude, his constant badgering. It didn't seem to matter how many people he lost be it to wars, sickness, or old age. Each death still made Harry feel numb, each death still hurt.
The video grabs his attention as it switches to the second last one Tom ever sent. "Barney man you wouldn't believe it but I'm coming to Pandora early! Things have been going to hell; news hasn't said much but the whole next interplanetary ship's cargo has been changed. I have also renovated the house, made some big changes."
Harry smiled, this was the first line of a code he and Tom made before he left. The RDA screened all mail both ways, they couldn't afford to have a press leak. The house was the RDA. "I've expanded my closet, it's almost twice as large as before. It's going to have to be for all the suits, hats, and ties I'm bringing in. I'll be hard pressed to dig up some food for the next six months or so as I try to save my budget. Looks like no fake food for me, everything will be a pill for a while."
Each Interplanetary shuttle had four main cargo containers for transporting goods. Suits were armour, hats were air support, and ties were soldiers. According to Tom, half the shuttle was going to be essentially dedicated to weapons. 'Sounds like the RDA is building an Army.' Harry thinks to himself. 'They're expecting a war soon.'
Signing out, Harry left the room, his mind less at ease than when he went in holo-booth. His mind is still on autopilot, he stepped up to the bar, ordering some sort of an artificial beer. "What I wouldn't give for some whiskey." Harry muttered.
"Whiskey? Where in the world were you lucky enough to taste some whiskey?" A man to Harry's left asked; a miner by the look of his clothing.
"At a funeral," Harry half lied. "Man had a couple of bottles from the old day when he was a kid. Shared a small shot with everyone who showed up. What's your name?"
"Ah, that is some luck." The miner moaned, caressing two different beers in front of him. "Names Karl Matthews. You?"
"Barney Stinson. So what do you do at the mine?"
"I drive one of the big trucks."
"No way, how many ton unobtainium you haul in this lower gravity a trip?"
"I...um...I'm not sure, I don't remember." The miner stuttered looking around uncomfortably.
"You don't have to log each load?" Harry asked confused, most truckers knew this kind of thing by heart.
"Yeah er, I think it was 50 ton." The guy says looking around spotting someone at the back. "I gotta go, see some friends at the back."
Without another word the guy was off, leaving a very confused Harry at the bar. The big ore trucks hauled about 6 times that much. Shaking his head Harry finished his beer, trying to flag down the bar keep for another.
"I got your next one." A new guy said to his left, dressed in military uniform. His hair was grey and well-trimmed. "Hey Dennis! Can I get us two frothies?"
"Really, I should be getting you a beer." Harry said recognizing the voice immediately. "You saved my life."
"Nonsense, you were only in trouble cause you saved someone else. Besides I drink for free. Been here five years now, only 5 and a half months to go." Taking a seat a he pushed one of the new beers in front of Harry. "The names Richard Cain, my friends call me Doc."
"Barney Stinson. You must be getting excited to go home." Harry said as he cheers his beer with Richard.
"Yes. It will be good to see my wife again. After this I can retire, no more blood, no more death." Richard seems to lose himself for a moment, his eyes growing distant. After a moment he turns back towards Harry with a huge smile on his face. "How in the hell are you out of the hospital all ready?
"Just a fast healer."
"I'll say, you should have been there for a month. That banshee claw had penetrated pretty much the entire way through. Good as dead when I brought you in."
"I was lucky being so close to the hospital when it happened" Harry Agreed.
"Saved that girls life, bloody thing nearly landed on her. Takes a hell of a man not to freeze up when shit goes south."
Harry shifted uncomfortably under his praise. "You learn quick the first time your inaction costs you someone."
"Nothing can help that, we can only prepare for next time. Beating yourself up won't change a damn thing. Get better, be faster, do better and...and hopefully you don't have to bury too many friends."
"Amen." Harry finishes, raising his beer to clink with Richards. "I hope your last months are quiet ones."
"Yes, me too. That girl you saved seemed awful sweet on you." Richard comments waggling his eyebrows.
"Yeah," Harry says blushing. "She's something else, went up against Grace Augustine to stay at my bedside."
Richard's eyebrows shot up. "She went up against mad dog Aug?"
Harry laughs, taking a sip. "Yeah, and won too. She was there when I woke up."
"Sounds like a keeper. Best of luck, try not to fall under anymore banshees."
"I'll have to, now that I know you won't be around to patch me up for much longer."
Richard smiles finishing his beer, checking his watch. "Sorry Barney but I must be off; I have a late shift supervising a bulldozer. I'll see you around, next time bring your lady."
"Sure thing, Doc," Harry says standing to shake his hand, finishing his beer.
"Oh, I almost forgot." Richard, says already a couple steps away, fishing in a pocket on his leg. "I pulled this from your pants when I cut them off. Figured it was a good luck totem or something, most of us got them."
Pressing something into Harry's hand Doc gives him a pat on the shoulder and disappears into the crowd.
"Good luck indeed." Harry mutters, bringing the tiny trunk to his lips in disbelief.
Miles Quaritch POV
I know where I am when I wake up. I know what put me in the fucking hospital. Three tours in Nigeria, not a scratch. Day ten on Pandora, I almost get fucking eaten by a big fucking cat. I had let my guard down, I thought this place had some beauty. Now I see if for what it truly is. A festering shit hole, where every fucking thing is going trying to kill you. Well, they won't be getting the best of Miles Quaritch. Next time I will shoot first and ask later. After all, it's not like anyone will care if I kill off some of the wildlife, there's plenty here.
"Nurse!" I bellow, I'm not in the mood for niceties.
"Oh thank goodness your awake, I'll just go get the Doct…"
"Shut the fuck up and get me a mirror." I enjoy the lack of restraint.
"Maybe we should talk to the do…"
"I said get me a mirror!" I bark, my military voice does the trick. Before long she's rushing back with a hand mirror trembling slightly.
"Now don't worry about scars, we can rotate you home and they have things to fix..." The nurse attempts soothingly.
"No, that won't be necessary." I say as I stare at the three large, angry red cuts, freshly stitched running up the side of my head. No, I like them, very intimidating.
AN: Well, that's two. So full story now coming your way. Again, I would like to thank Atharos for their Hard work.
AmeliaPond1997: Sorry but this will not be a slash, Tsu'tey is still going to die.
Sousie: Harry's human body will not be able to breathe on Pandora without an exo. Not because of the radiation, but because Pandora has a high level of chlorine gas in its air.
JellyBeanPanda: I'm not sure yet. I still haven't decided if Evaline will meet her death on Pandora, I'm on the fence. I do know if I do pair Harry it will be a female, and the Na'vi possibility is definitely on mind.
Guest: No I am not a physician. The reason I keep telling everyone to eat honey is because I'm a bee keeper. Call it free marketing.
German Guest: You raise some good points. Sorry, but Tsu'tey is still going to die and this won't be a slash. Not against it, just not my thing to write. You do raise a good point about Evaline seeming childish in the first chapter, I was more going to innocent. She very well may end up dead, or Harry pushing her away yet. Haven't decided.
Organic intelligence: huh...guess it is, I've never played it. More of a bioshock guy.