Disclaimer: Everything Avatar belongs to J. Cameron. I just borrowed the world and run with it.
Prologue - Pandora, September 2151
I had been fascinated with Pandora from the first time I had seen pictures of its vast forests.
Most people on Earth longed for the beauty and nature the vids showed. The absence of smog and technology, to them it seemed like an oasis, paradise of sorts. To me it presented opportunity.
Back in high school our biology teacher had us working on the first publications of Dr. Grace Augustine that would later become her ground breaking book. Everyone had oohed and aahed over the foreign beauty, while I had never quite gotten what they were going on about. Until I saw the design of what Dr. Augustine described as the Na'vi's 'Hometree', which had opened my eyes. Even then I had been interested in how things worked, how they were built, and seeing this perfect fusion of biological design and functionality had made me realize that I longed for one thing above everything else - to stand there and see it with my own eyes.
Young and idealistic, I hadn't been deterred by the odds that spoke against me ever reaching that goal. My grades had always been good but from that day on I made it my mission to excel at everything to prove myself worthy, different from the crowd. I got lucky and after my engineering degree I ended up in the RDA funded biotech program that ultimately let me shove my foot into the door of the Avatar Program. I even betrayed my principles for it.
My beef with the RDA stemmed from several things. For one, I held them responsible for the death of my only brother. Ivan had been working for a civil contractor on one of the moons of Mars where the RDA had built a mining facility back in the late 2090s. Forty years later accidents started to occur in the colony there, and they simply abandoned the settlers when the ore deposits they had been mining for were depleted. My family was not exactly thrilled when I accepted a stipend from the very corporation that had already robbed them of one child. But I had my reasons.
I still hadn't been able to shake off the guilt at betraying my brother's legacy, so I joined one of the many factions at the university that protested against the RDA. At first I thought the ILF - the Interstellar Liberation Front - was just the average group of tree huggers, like all the rest. Then I found out that they were not only talking and spending their time singing in front of the RDA headquarter, but had been working undercover against the corporation for years. I agreed with most of their principles and ignored the others, and they were eager to support me when they learned of my involvement with the RDA. They were always looking for moles to plant in key positions, and I saw my chance to get a step closer to Pandora.
One of the leaders of my group knew someone who knew someone, and within months they got me an interview with the resident RDA department that was working on the Avatar Program. Or at least I believed them when they told me they had arranged it, it never occurred to me to check myself. It was years later that I found out that my previous thesis advisor had forwarded my ideas to an old friend of his, and was more likely the mentor that opened doors for me.
Either way I got the job, and spent the next three years working on how to perfect the amnio tank system the avatars were grown in. While my interest in Pandora had been sparked by the architectural ideas, the actual translation on a biological level was what gripped me hard and never let go again. While there had been significant breakthroughs on a biotechnological level in medicine over the last 150 years, the whole field of cloning and working with complex biological systems had been completely on hold since the public had always been strictly against it. I would always marvel at how the RDA had sold the concept that tinkering with alien DNA was that much less reprehensible, even though the avatars were 50 percent human in their genetic makeup. I certainly never protested. The avatars would never have a conscious mind of their own, they were just the biological equivalent of the military equipment used on battlefields all over our planet, and sometimes beyond. They were tools, even if they had a heartbeat.
And then, one day, it seemed as if all my work of a lifetime was about to pay off. I got a new assignment, destination: Pandora.
My family threatened to abandon me, but I didn't care. My friends were appalled that I would literally sell my life to the RDA to hunt after a stupid notion, but I didn't care. My supervisor even warned me that Hell's Gate, the research and mining complex I would be stationed at, was one of the most hostile and beatdown places in the whole galaxy, but I didn't care.
Five years later I woke up from cryo sleep, and still my enthusiasm was unperturbed. While all the others were busy eating their first meal in nearly seventy months I floated over to one of the windows and gazed down at my new home, the blue and green moon of Polyphemus.
Of course reality came crashing in soon afterwards.
On Earth I had been a step below team leader, spending my days over virtual drawing boards and my nights building the miniatures of the designs I had come up with. It had been a while since I had to dirty my hands as most things were assembled by machines in our hyper technological world.
Too bad that the flux vortex inherent to most of Pandora, combined with the solar flares from not one, but two suns, messed up pretty much every single piece of equipment. The avatars themselves might have been the single most advanced piece of technology Earth had given 'birth' to in a century, but in Hell's Gate we had to pretty much work with the equipment no more intricate than that of the beginning of the twenty-first century.
So I, dreamer and visionary, became the maintenance gal for pretty much the whole Avatar Program. Fried circuits, unreliable data feeds, disrupted links, it all came down to me fixing it.
At first I was devastated, feeling like all my efforts had been for naught. I had to realize that the pretty pictures they showed on the news feeds at home were just that, pretty pictures. The reality on Pandora was grizzly and brutal, ready to chew you up and spit you out in peaces.
I was even contemplating suicide after three months of being a grease monkey in all but name when one night I had a chat with my own personal heroine, Grace Augustine. Who turned out to be a vapid bitch, no less, but her parting words to me made me realize that I would only forsake myself if I gave up. Smirking down at me as I was trying to re-assemble the link unit I had been working on for days, she offered me some food for thoughts.
"It's easy to be a visionary, but it wasn't the people who sat at home and fawned over their own greatness who made all the interesting discoveries. It's always been those that got down and dirty with the facts, and more often than not the actual dirt, who win the prize. So quit whining and get this piece of scrap metal working, I need to go in tomorrow without any random disconnects every ten minutes!"
I had been taken aback at first, but then I saw the truth in her words.
Of course that had been before they gunned her down and pretty much killed most of her research, but her words stuck with me.
And after all, if I wanted to see Hometree, being on the same moon already was a good starting point, right?
A/N: Thanks for showing some interest for my venture into the Avatar fandom!
This story is rated M for violence and language, not for smut. Just saying. I'm also posting without having anyone correct my grammar, so if for any reason that doesn't float your boat, please don't read it. I'll try to stick mostly to canon (script & movie) but will deviate in some places to wedge the 'new' parts of the story in with the original. I'm sorry if some parts are a little heavy on the techno babble, but I just can't help it - professional hazard. I hope you have as much fun reading as I have writing! See you hopefully soon on chapter 1!