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Old 03-16-2010, 02:35 AM
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A little background: There was a post on the forums asking what would happen if Neytiri arrived on present-day Earth. So I'm going to write a story about it, but I am deliberately avoiding any explanation as to why or how (hence the name "Breach," being a "breach" of both present-day reality and how we perceive the Avatar Universe since Neytiri would have no reason to come to Earth, in-universe or otherwise). Note that this assumes all the events of "Avatar" did in fact take place, and that Na'vi can survive in Earth's atmosphere.

This is also the first fanfic I've ever done, so this is the obligatory "Please be nice" line

Licensing: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Cross-posted at Avatar-Forums

Chapter 1 - Arrival

Earth, 2010 - Somewhere in the United States

Neytiri's back ached. More than the usual pains from a day's hunt or taking a tumble from an ikran. Also, her tail felt numb, as if she'd slept on it. As she opened her eyes, the sun glared into them. A single sun, and nothing more. Something wasn't right. Neytiri yawned, stretched and felt her hand bump into something, which gave way. As she brought her arm back, she noticed something different in the air. The mingled scent of Yerik droppings, territorial markings made by Angtsìk and even the smell of the occasional carcass stripped by Nantang were all absent. A strange hint of metal clung to the air--the only thing similar that Neytiri remembered was the stench of the Tawtute machines.

Opening her palm, Neytiri sniffed the broken bark. A metallic tang jumped out--this tree was cut, it did not fall from age. And the tree, it was so small. Nothing like the gigantic Kelutral. Crunching sounds caused Neytiri to jump from her prone position, hiss and turn, dagger unsheathed. A small brown animal turned its head toward her, froze for a split second, and then disappeared amongst the trees. Very odd--the animal lacked any sort of queue, had four legs and was a strange color. The leaves on the ground were brown, dead, and the leaves of the trees had turned the color of fire. Neytiri had never seen this before, since Pandora's climate remained essentially unchanged year-round. This is not home, she thought. But where is it, then? It had been bad enough when the Tawtute had burned Hometree--hundreds of Na'vi died and one of the oldest of the Kelutral fell before its time. Now she had no clue where she was, but she knew it was not Pandora.

Neytiri set out to find more about her strange new surroundings. For some reason, it felt as if her feet were mired in mud. She felt heavy, uncoordinated and clumsy. Breaths came in short bursts, as if she were not able to get enough air. She slowed to a walk, as running left her winded and her legs were tiring much more quickly than usual. Arriving in a clearing, she noticed a small structure. It was clearly unnatural, though it appeared to be painted brown to blend in or fit better with the surrounding environment. A sign at the top had script on it. Though the Na'vi had no need for written language, she was aware Tawtute (or humans, as they called themselves) utilized such forms of communication, having learned some aspects of this "English" from Dr. Grace Augustine. Though she had been one of Augustine's best students, Neytiri never ceased to wonder why the Sky People needed so many words. And there were words in common usage which the Na'vi had no equivalent for. The one that stuck out the most, and made her quiver in anger, was lie. This was not a concept the Na'vi understood prior to the arrival of Tawtute. To deliberately not tell another something, or to tell another something completely false was not something the Na'vi had ever done. It was not borne out of some "moral" standing, but rather that it was unneeded, in fact no Na'vi had even thought of the concept.

The sign on the building read "North Picnic Shelter." She knew what "shelter" was, and that "north" was a direction. "Picnic," however, was a term she was unfamiliar with. Grace had not used the term in conversation, nor was it contained in any lessons. Inside were long tables, proportioned for beings smaller than she. Much smaller. About the size of Sky People, now that she thought about it.

Sky People. Jake had told her of the homeworld, Earth, where "they killed their mother." There was "no green there" since the whole planet was ravaged by over-use of practically every resource imaginable. Were there others out there like the Sky People? At least, alike physically? Even if there were, it wouldn't explain the use of Sky People script, nor how she ended up on this alien world in the first place. Next to the shelter was a brown container labeled "TRASH." Trash could both be an object and an adjective, and she recalled its use in another way when…

She stopped. She didn't want to think about that day. The accident at the school. The needless deaths.

The wind shifted. Neytiri picked up a scent. One she recognized, vaguely. She'd only smelt it along with the destruction and death brought by Sky People machines, but she knew what it meant. Food. Sky People food. Disgusting, inedible and unnatural. Sky People guards had left trails of it following their gigantic machines. Machines that destroyed trees, killed animals and despoiled Pandora. More and more, Neytiri was beginning to think that all this was somehow related to Sky People. She moved over to the container. It had a lid which she easily removed. A swarm of tiny creatures greeted her, irritated that someone would dare to disturb their meal. If there was one symbol of the Sky People that no one could forget, it was Coca-Cola. Jake had explained that Coca-Cola (or "***e") was a favorite drink among his people. It was considered moderately unhealthy if consumed in large amounts, and came in both metal and plastic containers. All of these bore the red-and-white lettering of the company's logo. That same logo stared up at Neytiri from the trash container.

What did it all mean? It made no sense. Earth had no life other than humans--Jake had said that much. At least, no other life that wandered wild and free. The creatures of Earth were kept penned in places called "zoos" where the humans could watch them. Human children were taught that this was normal and animals had always lived in cages. More like prisons, Neytiri reasoned. Why did the animals not fight? There were some that certainly could, though nothing as fearsome as Palulukan or as awe-inspiring as Toruk. The only animal she'd seen was a small brown one that had darted away from her upon noticing her presence. It looked as if it ate plants, lacking teeth, claws or other implements to make meals from other animals.

Neytiri sat on the top of the table. She could imagine Jake chastising her for this--"We don’t sit on that part, we sit down here!" but Jake wasn't here. Nor was anyone or anything else she recognized, other than the Coca-Cola bottle. The table sagged, since it wasn't designed to accommodate a 275 pound weight.

Last edited by Sovereign; 03-17-2010 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:36 AM
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Chirps rang across the air. Another sound, a foreign one to her ears but certainly not artificial, emanated from the nearby water. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAK. WAAAAAK! WAAAAAK! WAAAAAK!" More animals, this time squat, feathered creatures. Some had green heads and brown bodies, others completely brown. Everything is so small here, she thought.

A rumbling noise disrupted the mostly-natural cornucopia of sounds, causing the squat creatures to leap into the air, flying short distances before settling down again. Something was coming across the bridge which connected the area Neytiri was sitting in with another island. Whatever it was, it barely fit on the bridge. The machines Neytiri had seen were orders of magnitude larger, but she recognized the configuration. It had four wheels, was painted white and had green stripes. It was a machine, a "vehicle" as the humans put it. On the side was a number, 217. The vehicle swung toward Neytiri but then veered away toward a squat brown building. Seeing the back, Neytiri tried to interpret the alien text: "Forest Preserve District of Paedgu County." Preserve, to keep or maintain (which was the exact opposite of the Sky People's intent on Pandora), she understood. The last three words were nonsensical.

A door opened on the vehicle. Neytiri jumped and hit her head on the support beam inside the structure, stifling her cry of pain as best she could. Sky People! Or, more accurately, Sky Person. Unless there existed more aliens which were so similar to humans as to be indistinguishable from them, this was a human. That would explain pretty much everything save how she ended up here. The smells, the small animals and trees, the Coca-Cola bottle. The human jumped into the back of the vehicle, did something involving whipping her arm back quickly, and a harsh droning sound assaulted Neytiri's ears. The human pulled a red hose off a reel. Jake had explained humans liked to remove mud and dirt from their machines and structures, and this is how they did it. Water was forced through at a high pressure, which blasted any contaminants away. The human disappeared into the brown building. Neytiri noticed small symbols on the building, one on each side, but couldn't make out what they were. I should leave, she thought, before that human heads this way. A whooshing noise emanated from the building. Probably cleaning, she thought. Another human appeared from behind the truck, with some kind of metallic object in his left hand and a bucket in his right.

The first human appeared out of the building again. "Steven! Make sure to be extra careful around the South Shelter today! There was a picnic there yesterday!" The male human looked up from his bucket, from which he withdrew the strange metallic object. "Sure thing Lauren!"

That word. Picnic. It must have something to do with food, Neytiri reasoned, since there was a container of waste which contained food and the long tables were reminiscent of the "dining hall" Jake had shown Neytiri (and others) after the Na'vi overran Hell's Gate. The second human, Steven, headed away from Neytiri toward another structure similar to the one she was in. Now's my chance--Neytiri darted into the forest. It would be hard to conceal herself in foliage this thin, and never mind being twice the size of the natives. Or being bright blue.

Steven moved toward the area Neytiri had just been in. Startled, she realized she'd left her dagger on the table, but it was too late. "What's this?" Steven picked up the dagger and turned it around in his hands. The curved daggers used by the Na'vi were considered novelty items by humans, according to Jake. Taken from fallen warriors, they were sold for monstrous amounts of money back on Earth. Money was yet another foreign concept. While Na'vi might trade for items they needed, the idea of something kept only because it was assigned value, which could be used to obtain other items, never came up.

"Hey Lauren! I found a knife, or something!" The other human ran over. "Whoa, that's no knife! That has to be, a foot and a half long!"

Neytiri's mind raced. Should she dash and risk making noise, calling attention to herself? Or should she move quietly away in the hopes that neither human's peripheral vision would pick up the big blue form only yards away? She was deprived of this choice, however, as the two humans had noticed her. She could hear Steven. "That has to be, the best costume ever, or something that seriously doesn't belong here." They approached. She could run, but they'd already seen her and with the vehicle they could catch up to her since she could only run short distances without becoming winded. She could attack them, but they'd done nothing to deserve it. They seemed curious, not threatening. In addition, her dagger was on the table behind the humans.

All Sky People are not bad, she thought. Also…

"Um, hello?" Steven reached toward Neytiri with the dagger. "Is…is this yours?"
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:37 AM
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Chapter 2 - Blood

It was a pretty normal day at the South Sector of Paedgu County's Forest Preserves. Paedgu was a huge county--the Forest Preserve District controlled over 100,000 acres of land but the county still had plenty of room for both residents and business development. Due to budget cutbacks, the West Sector shops had been folded into the South, leaving three sectors (North and East being the additional).

Each Sector had eight trucks, six Rangers and during the summer months, at least four seasonal employees apiece (though East had the most--twenty five, due to Blue Lake Forest Preserve's boat launch and concessions, among other things). That morning, four South Sector rangers did the usual "opening rounds" (that is, unlocking the heavy front gates of the preserves to permit entry by the general public).

Truck #217 belonged to Lauren Fisher, an attractive brunette of 32 who quit her original job as an attorney to work outdoors. Having finished a degree in law in only two years, magna cum laude, from a prestigious University, Lauren had her pick of jobs. She originally signed a six-figure salary deal with Anderson-Magneson Power, a nuclear power plant operator who had become the sole provider of energy in her state due to "clean energy" mandates. AMP was considered one of the "greenest" power companies in the United States, due in part to its "buy out and shut down" attitude toward dirty coal plants. In the past five years AMP had purchased and shut down twelve coal-fueled generators, replacing them with experimental GEN-V Traveling Wave Reactors (taking a significant up-front loss on each). These reactors, once thought to be purely the stuff of science fiction, used previously useless nuclear waste as fuel, and when done, left said fuel in a state of radioactivity equal to or lower than naturally-occurring uranium.

What caused Lauren to walk away from a desk job that paid in the six figures, on track to seven or eight ten years down the road?

AMP's Site #3, an ageing "standard" fission reactor, suffered a minor containment breach that let an inconsequential amount of radioactive material into a nearby stream. Usually, such claims are settled quickly and quietly, because heaven knows what kind of public relations nightmare will occur if the words "nuclear" and "leak" get into the press. However, Miles Stensen, chief of the Legal Department, had other ideas. Stensen was incensed at the concept of even admitting fault on the (harmless) incident. He'd managed to get every claim against AMP dismissed or convince the plaintiff to walk away. He wasn't about to let this little leak spoil his record.

To make a very long, boring legal story short, Stensen ordered his people to dig around for dirt on the plaintiff, the Forest Preserve District of Paedgu County. Finding none relevant to his case, he then attempted to cover up the entire incident using a mix of charisma and "offers you can't refuse." This failing, Stensen resorted to his last tactic, which he called "The Bleeder." The goal was to create such a legal mess that it would cost the plaintiff more than it was worth to get past a blizzard of motions, time-wasters and objections filed on behalf of AMP even if the court found in favor of the plaintiff. Lauren Fisher was one of three attorneys charged with "bleeding" the Forest Preserve to death. Lauren had never even been to a forest preserve, and she started her work with the same diligence she applied to everything else. However, as the days progressed, Lauren and the other attorneys (Monica Clearwater and Erika Long) began to doubt the merits of what they were doing. Stensen never really gave them the low-down on what happened, he only told them to figure out how to win the case. When they "came up for air," so to speak, and found out that the case in a nutshell revolved around Miles Stensen's ego and little else, they began to speak out.

Within days, protests (calling for Stensen's head) erupted outside Site #3 and at the Forest Preserve near the river affected by the leak. Within weeks, corporate responded. Miles Stensen was placed on administrative leave. Eventually, he would be terminated for "frivolous, wasteful and malicious misuse of company resources." Fisher, Clearwater and Long were hailed as heroes. At a ceremony hosted by local environmental groups at Heron Lake Forest Preserve, they were lionized both by AMP corporate (who were looking for a reason to axe Stensen since his bleeder tactic was creating many enemies for the company) and environmentalists, freshly energized from seeing movies like "Avatar" that promoted pro-environment messages.

It was at this point Fisher decided to change her occupation. She'd already made a huge pile of money, more than enough to pay off the student loans that put her through school. She'd done her "good deed" at AMP by shutting down a megalomaniac bent on fighting even the most minute issues down to the last dollar. After the ceremony, she handed in her resignation and parted ways with AMP amicably. Having been with the company only five years, no retirement benefits were available, but she didn't need them. Lauren spent the next year traveling and spending time outdoors, something she hadn't done in any significant amount since her days in the Girl Scouts fifteen years ago.

Having spent several weeks camping in various national parks Lauren wondered what it would be like to work for the National Forest Service, or something like it. So she applied on a lark for an open Ranger position at the Forest Preserve District of Paedgu County.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:38 AM
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Chapter 3 - Surprises

The hours were terrible, most of the work was either repetitive, dirty or both and she spent a lot less time doing "nature" things than she was hoping to. Even the job of forest ranger was somewhat romanticized, she thought. I spend more time cleaning toilets and picking up trash than helping kids learn about nature. At least the kids were being fed nature-related messages through other means. The movie "Avatar" had done amazingly well, grossing over $2.6 billion worldwide. When she'd gone, she swore she heard children crying as Hometree fell. There was definitely cheering when the RDA's shuttle exploded instead of bombing the Tree of Souls, and someone actually applauded when Neytiri took Quaritch down.

Sigh. At least thinking about Pandora made cleaning bathrooms easier. Someone had decided to miss the toilet, requiring use of the truck-mounted hose. If the human race couldn't even do number two correctly, there really wasn't much hope left.

"Hey Lauren!" Steven's voice jolted her back to reality. "I found a knife, or something!" People left all sorts of strange stuff in the Forest Preserves. They were, as one Ranger had cynically observed, "the backyard you never have to clean up." Everything from food containers to pots, pans, knives and in one case pornographic magazines had been found in Forest Preserves. In a typical day, it was considered unusual if none of the cleanup teams found a used condom in a parking lot.

Running over to where Steven was standing, she stared goggle-eyed at the huge implement in his hands. "Whoa, that's no knife! That has to be, a foot and a half long!" The only time she'd seen oversized knives like these were on cooking shows. Steven was still talking "… best costume ever, or something that seriously doesn't belong here."

Lauren looked up. And fell backward.

"Is…is this yours?" Steven was inquiring of a very large, woman-like blue creature. And if Lauren didn't know better, she'd swear this, this thing had walked straight out of the IMAX theater on Route 35.

"I..I did not mean to frighten you." The blue woman was talking now. And sounded strangely familiar. Again harkening back to the IMAX on Route 35. "Yes, this does belong to me. I woke up here and do not know why or how I came to be here." "Well then," Steven replied, "Welcome to Earth." Steven had to reach up to offer his hand. It was Neytiri's turn to recoil in shock. Everything she'd seen pointed to this being a planet controlled by humans, but Earth? Earth was dead, brown and lifeless. And yet the small brown animal, the noisy feathered ones, they lived. The trees were alive, though why the leaves were not green was puzzling. Perhaps something humans did to them.

Neytiri slowly took Steven's hand. She remembered when Jake had first been brought to Hometree, how he'd offered his hand in a similar way to Eytukan only to set off a storm of consternation among the Omaticaya. This must be some kind of human greeting, similar to Oel ngati kameie. Speaking of which…

"Oel ngati kameie." The female human, Lauren, spoke the language, or at least that phrase from it. This only added to Neytiri's confusion. Neytiri started to reply, but before she could more than open her mouth Lauren cut her off. "If you are who I think you are, I'm going to save you the trouble and say that's all I know."

"What do you mean, 'who you think I am'?" Neytiri continued "Have we been introduced before?"

"You're Neytiri, right? The tsahik-to be? At least that's what 'Avatar' says." Steven knew he was risking either coming across as insulting, or worse yet sounding like a complete moron. Having seen the movie "Avatar" roughly once a week since its release, Steven was much more well-versed in both Na'vi and "Avatar" in general than Lauren. However, like many of the "Avatards" (so dubbed by the media) or "Pandorians" as they referred to themselves in places like the Avatar Forums, he kept his fascination with Pandora to himself.

"How do you know who I am? Or about tsahik?" Neytiri was really confused now--this is Earth, but it is green and animals roam free. By Jake's description, this should not be. Yet the humans here know (some) Na'vi and at least a small amount about our tribes. How does this work, Neytiri wondered.

Steven responded, "There's this movie called 'Avatar' that chronicles the story of a guy name Jake who gets shipped off to a planet called Pandora. Jake's in a wheelchair, but he gets to control one of these bodies so he can walk again. He ends up meeting one of the natives, a Na'vi named Neytiri. He was originally sent to convince the Na'vi to move, but starts to change his mind. He tells the tribe, the Omaticaya, of his original mission. Real dumb, in my opinion. Neytiri and the rest of the tribe get pissed at him, kick him out and are about to kill him when the humans show up. They burn Hometree to the ground. Jake and some of his friends steal a link chamber after escaping from the human base. Jake becomes Toruk Makto, is accepted by the Omaticaya again, and the RDA gets its ass handed to it on a plate by Pandora's wildlife. Then Jake kicks them off the planet." He finished, having told the entire story in one breath. "It's too bad the Thanator died though" Steven continued. "Total tactics FAIL--you don't rush a guy with a knife." "Sorry" he adds, realizing he'd just told Neytiri that she "failed." "I'm sure you were angry and…" Neytiri stopped him. "Please. Slow down, I am having a difficult time understanding what you are saying." She continued "Are you saying that what happened to us, to me, that you know about it?"
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:39 AM
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"Oh man. Boy do we know, or we think we know anyway. Listen, there are whole books about it. And websites. Lots of websites. In fact…"

Neytiri playfully punched him. "Skxawng. What did I just tell you?"

"Oh right. Sorry." Steven pulled out his cell phone. "I don't even know if 'pics or it didn't happen' works here…Lauren, can you…" Lauren took the sleek iPhone out of Steven's hand. She'd wanted one for a while, but that wasn't happening. Not on a Ranger paycheck. Even though she had money, investments only grew if you left them alone, not if you constantly spent them. Steven jumped up onto the table behind Neytiri. The click came as Neytiri was half-turned toward the camera. Lauren turned to Steven. "Okay, my turn." The process repeated, except Neytiri was fully facing the camera in Lauren's picture. "You stink, your picture is better than mine" Steven complained. "Oh well, here we go!" Steven tapped his iPhone. "No! Wait! Don't…" but it was too late. Lauren's protests came too slow. Steven uploaded the picture to his Facebook account. Then to Avatar-Forums. Before he'd even finished making a post on the forums, his phone notified him he had a new Facebook notification.

"lol nice shop. i almost thought neytiri was standing in the middle of heron lake fp."

"Oh Sarah, if only you were here" he thought. Sarah was another seasonal employee of the Forest Preserve District. Steven was kind of crushing on her, kind of not, but in any case he never talked about Avatar in front of her. Pretty girls didn't talk about Avatar, or so he thought.

Ding.

"and aren't you at work now? how did you do that?"

Steven finished his post. They're going to either think I'm crazy or try to figure out where I live. Seven more comments had appeared on Steven's Facebook. He didn't bother reading them--Lauren would probably be annoyed enough with his internet surfing.

"Steven. STEVEN!" Lauren was, in fact, annoyed. But not for the reason he thought. "You do realize, if this is as real as it seems, there's going to be a royal mess hitting here real quick. The government, the Avatar fans, and practically anyone with a pulse will be descending on this county!"

"Oops. Hadn't thought of that. But this is so awesome! Hopefully they'll write it off as Photoshop."

"Let's just hope" Lauren replied.

A hundred computer keyboards began clacking madly across the world.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:39 AM
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Chapter 4 - Phones

Bip-Bip!

The yellow phone on Lauren's hip went off. The "coast-to-coast walkie-talkie" feature on Sprint phones was something most people didn't need, not in the day of $60/month unlimited talk plans. However, it was easier for Rangers than dialing numbers or dealing with phonebooks.

A male voice crackled out of the phone.

"Base to 217."

"This is 217."

Lauren (and all other employees deployed to the field) had a number assigned to them. It simplified communications, since names often were garbled or even impossible to understand over the phone.

The voice from Base continued.

"217, you have a permit group coming in about thirty minutes, I forgot to put the sheet in your folder. Think you can get back to base, or do you just want to make your own sign for the permit group?"

Steven turned to Neytiri. "Oh s--t, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad!" Neytiri started to speak, but Steven shushed her, pointing at the phone. Murphy's Law dictates that when someone in the background needs to be heard, the phone won't pick up a single word. But when a blue alien who seemed to have walked out of the world's highest-grossing film starts talking, the phone will pick up every word in THX-level clarity.

"…returning to base, ETA five minutes." Lauren closed the phone and turned to Steven.

"Great. Just great. You stay here with Neytiri. I'm going to go get that permit. All this fuss over a piece of paper. Just figures today they forget to put the sheet out."

Lauren jumped back into the truck. She rolled down the manual window (the Forest Preserve District saved money in every way possible, so the locks and windows were done the old-fashioned way). "And try to keep her out of sight, okay?" The truck sped off, kicking up gravel off the path in front of the shelter.

Steven wondered aloud. "So, she could hide in the latrine, but what if someone needs to actually use it? Put an out-of-order sign on it? That would seem odd--these are pits, not flush, so I doubt anyone would buy it. I could put her in a tree, but what if someone noticed? And it's not like the trees around here are big enough for that…"

Neytiri interrupted his stream of thought. "Are you saying, that I drink too much Coca-Cola? That I am, fat?" It was amusing poking fun at this human. He clearly thought he knew so much.

"Uhh, no, no, not at all! I'm just saying, if I can't climb these trees without falling and breaking my arm"--he pointed at a tree near the shelter, which clearly had a branch snapped off a few years back--"then I doubt you could either. There was a small debate over on one of the websites I was telling you about, over how much you weigh. The conclusion was…250 pounds or more."

Neytiri paused. "Is that a lot?"

"For Earth trees, yeah" Steven responded. "Most of these trees aren't really safe to climb, anyway. Besides, climbing damages the bark." Steven gestured at the "Please do not climb trees!" sign which was ironically nailed to the trunk of one of the larger trees.

"I'm still not sure what to do with you" Steven continued. "It's not like there's a 'Welcome to Earth' club for aliens or something…" His voice stopped as his phone emitted a screeching sound. The exact same sound, in fact, as Neytiri launching her ikran off Hometree.

"Hello, this is Steven…"
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:40 AM
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Chapter 5 - Greetings

SteveLovesAvatar wrote: "No words necessary, definitely have a pic, so it did happen." Below that was the picture Lauren had taken on Steven's iPhone. The post was titled "OMEOMEOMEOME!!!!!" Within ten minutes, there were twenty-three responses. Most of them were arguing over whether this was clever use of Photoshop CS4 (Steven had made a name for himself "Avatar-izing" people on the forums and creating custom signatures) or a woman in a bodysuit. That very topic had actually appeared on Avatar-Forums quite recently, whether or not a bodysuit a member had seen on a dancer would be appropriate for Neytiri Cosplay.

"Definitely forced perspective and a bodysuit" commented "TORUKMakto."

"Naw, total shop job" insisted "NeytiriPwnsAll."

"SO not funny" lamented "ILoveNeytiri."

"Wait a minute," chimed in poster "Sovereign." "It's hard to tell if a photo has been edited--whether this is clever costuming is for others to determine. But I can tell you there is no magic app for determining if something's been 'shopped' so to speak. Especially if the photo is so low-resolution. On high-resolution photos it is easy to spot pixilation, poor use of the 'Heal' and 'Magic Wand' tools and obvious head-swaps. The phrase 'pics or it didn't happen' should really be altered to 'high-resolution pics or it didn't happen.'"

"Oh come on, we all know the answer to this question is MOAR NEYTIRI" said poster "Truebeck."

Following that were six different pictures of Neytiri, no two posted by the same person. Twelve more posts returned to the "Photoshop vs. Cosplay" debate.

"Truebeck," whose forum handle was simply her last name, dialed a number in her phone. One of the things Sarah Truebeck liked about Avatar-Forums was that, as a female, she wasn't immediately pounced on by every male in the forum. She'd registered with a genderless handle to avoid that very phenomenon, though she soon discovered it was unnecessary. She thought "That's probably because half the guys in here are too busy looking for more pictures of Neytiri."

Steve picked up on the first ring. "Hello, this is Steven…"

"Hi Steve, I assume that's you posting pictures on Avatar-Forums, since I saw the exact same thing show up on your Facebook a few minutes ago…"

Steven had yet another "almost fall over" moment. His brain flipped into overdrive. Since when did Sarah like Avatar, and even have an account on the place dubbed "Avatar Addicts Anonymous" by some folk?

"Yes…Sarah…that was me" he stammered.

"The only reason I'm calling is because I know you're at work right now. Which means you don't have your $6,000 photo-editing computer setup with you. So, either you know some Cosplayers who like to hang around the forest preserves we work in, or something else is going on."

"Well, I…"

"I'll be right over." *click*

What was he supposed to do? Steven was at work, on the County's clock. If Lauren returned, they'd have to leave, most likely. Then Sarah would think he ditched her, and he'd have to ditch Neytiri. The whole situation could only be described as "facepalm."

Three miles away, Sarah Truebeck was having the exact same reaction in her attempt to drive to Heron Lake. First she had to stop for a train, then she hit every single red light along Route 35. When she finally got to the parking lot, she nearly hit a Ranger truck arriving at the same time. Only the width of the parking lot entrance allowed the right-turning Prius and the left-turning Silverado to avoid smashing into each other.

Lauren wasn't happy. Her boss had started another one of his endless talks about nothing in particular, which was going to make her late to the permit-check. Then this hot pink Prius flies out of nowhere and nearly hits her truck. Lauren mashed the brake pedal and slammed her hand into the horn. Bio-diesel was great for a lot of things, but it was no help with stopping distance. She could feel the truck swaying as the hundreds of gallons of water in the back sloshed around. She opened the door and jumped down onto the pavement, ready to give this little skxawng a piece of her mind and a threat to call the Forest Preserve Police.

Sarah careened into the parking lot, barely missing the huge Chevy coming from the other direction. A blast from the Chevy's horn caused Sarah to look up--217. 217? That was Lauren's truck! Lauren was pretty much everyone's favorite ranger and now Sarah had made an idiot of herself.

Lauren stormed over the driver side of the offending vehicle. She didn't even wait for the door to open to start tearing into the other driver. "Now listen here, you…" She stopped. "Sarah? What are you doing here? And watch your driving!"

Sarah didn't even stop to say hi. She opened the door and ran off toward the picnic shelters. Lauren followed.

Sarah couldn't restrain herself. "Is it true? Is it true? Is this real?" She ran around Neytiri several times before finally sitting down by Steven.

"Yes, well, you do not happen to know how I ended up here, do you? And who are you?" Neytiri was addressing a nearly-hyperventilating Sarah.

"This is so awesome! Pound it!" Sarah, despite her knowledge of Avatar, forgot that Na'vi do not "pound it." Neytiri pulled back, and her hand went to her dagger. Except, it was still on the table. Humans are so strange, Neytiri thought.

"Sarah, you idiot!" Steven pulled Sarah's hand down. He turned to Neytiri. "Sorry, that's another one of our greetings. Unlike the Na'vi's single greeting, there are probably as many types of human greetings as there are humans on this planet." He turned to Sarah again. "If you're going to fist-bump Neytiri, at least explain what it is!"

The two demonstrated the fist bump. Neytiri was more lost than ever in the strangeness of human culture. Further thoughts were interrupted by Lauren.

"Guys, there's a permit group coming in less than ten minutes. We can have fun later--we need to figure out what to with Neytiri!"

"Well, your trees are out of the question. At least according to Steven here, who says I am fat from having too much of your Coca-Cola" Neytiri added cheekily.

"No no no!" Steven shot back. "I was only saying that because of Earth's gravity…"

Sarah and Lauren ignored him while he continued talking in the background. "Neytiri, you're not fat" Lauren assured her. "Still, that doesn't answer the question of where to put you so that others don't see."

"You cannot hide me forever" Neytiri replied. "I am not afraid."

"So, you want to meet…" Lauren looked down at the permit. "…a bunch of old guys who sit around and fish all day?"

Whether anyone wanted to meet anyone else was no longer an issue, as a group of mostly older men appeared at the end of the trail.

There was no going back now.
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:00 AM
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Chapter 6 - Contact

Sam Fisher still couldn't understand why his daughter had left her work at Anderson-Magneson for a forest ranger job. The new job paid a fraction of the previous, often got Lauren into poison ivy and had horrible hours. Also, Sam thought the sector supervisor was a prick, since he hit on Lauren every chance he got. "Lecherous old coot" was the best phrase to describe him in Sam's book. But no worries, at least not today. Today was fishing day. Sam guided his Escalade ESV into a parking spot the best he could. With his failing vision, he probably shouldn't be driving. Lauren had told him as much, and tried to take his keys away. He wouldn't have it, since "I only tapped that last guy's bumper."

Lauren disliked both that her father insisted on driving and the vehicle he chose to drive. Somehow, he'd rationalized (in Lauren's mind) an obsessive love of the outdoors, belief in global warming and driving a huge boat of a vehicle that got eight miles to the gallon. Perhaps, she thought sarcastically, he thinks the bumper stickers (mostly outdoor-related, though there was an "Obama '08" too) offset his carbon footprint.

"Hey, how's my daughter doing…Oh my God!" Sam stopped in his tracks, causing the men walking behind him to run into him or spill around him. Fishing equipment clattered to the ground. Tackleboxes popped open and bobbers rolled around on the pavement. Containers of worms landed on their sides, popping their lids and freeing their occupants. Scattered hooks created a hazard for anyone walking barefoot.

"Now Lauren, I thought we agreed that this cosplay stuff was weird." Sam recovered, and continued "I don't know what goes through the minds of these people, but they're weirdos and that's that."

Lauren, Sarah and Steven all started talking at once. Neytiri stepped past/over them. She extended her hand (downward, due to her height) as the humans had done. "I am Neytiri of the Omaticaya clan. I do not know how I arrived here, and it is common for people to believe I am…not real."

The varying reactions of the fishermen were a sight to behold. Some stared, mouths agape. Others began pinching themselves, furiously rubbing their eyes or shaking their heads, as if Neytiri's existence was a result of some mental fog. One man crossed himself and began muttering a prayer. Another pulled out a phone and began dialing 9-1-1. The one that drew the most attention had a handgun drawn and aimed, only to find Lauren, Sarah and Steven in his way.

"Now hold on Bruce!" Sam bellowed. "There's no need for that!" Sam shoved the gun down so its barrel pointed at the ground. "The solution to everything doesn't always have to be a 9mm bullet!" The gathering degenerated into a disorganized mess of words, each person struggling to be heard above both other individuals and the collective noise of the group. The effort, of course, was self-defeating: as each person ramped up his or her own voice, everyone else did the same.

A loud hiss disrupted the crowd. Neytiri had pushed her way out of the group, retrieved her dagger from the table and was now in a fighting stance.

"If my being here creates such discord, I will leave all of you. Forget I came here. Forget I exist. I will not have you all in conflict and disagreement because of me!"

The group hushed. Sirens could be heard--if things were only slightly out of hand they were about to get much, much worse. Local police arrived, weapons drawn. They'd been told that a "wild animal" was on the loose. While the officers clearly saw no animals, Neytiri was an oddity enough and they began shouting.

"Nobody move!"

"Everyone keep your hands where we can see them!"

"You! Drop the weapon!" It wasn't clear if the officers were referring to Neytiri or Bruce. Bruce's gun fell into the grass as he dropped it. Neytiri turned to the officers and hissed at them. The last humans like this were the "security" forces from the Resource Development Administration.

The officers were visibly shaken, but seeing as there were four of them and only one large, blue thing, they held their ground.

"Drop the knife!"

"Drop the weapon, or we will shoot!"

Several things happened at once. Lauren, Sarah and Steven moved between the officers and Neytiri. Neytiri dropped her dagger. A shot rang out. A chip appeared in the concrete next to Neytiri's foot. Neytiri began to run, but only made it a short distance before collapsing from exhaustion.

The officers closed in.
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:44 AM
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Chapter 7 - Actions

Steven's Facebook photo had so many comments that the auto-delete kicked in (it does after 100 posts). Several friends that Steven had pegged as absolutely not Avatar fans expressed interest. Others remarked that he'd really gone too far this time (further than the time he'd worn Na'vi face-paint and a tail to the local movie theater).

A sampling of the positive:
OMG win
MOAR NEYTIRI!!!!!1111!!!
do. want.
Where did she get the bodysuit?
More pictures please!
You suck, how do you have all the luck?
I wish I could "like" this about three hundred times.
This is mad…deingly awesome!
THIS. IS. PANDORA!

It will be left up to the reader to imagine the negative.

A spontaneous Avatar meetup began coalescing among Steven's local, Pandorian-oriented friends. In all, four men and two women ended up agreeing to meet at the Forest Preserve where "Neytiri" was supposedly located. Even if they missed the original reason for the gathering, they were going to have a picnic and converse in Na'vi, so fun would be had anyway.

They arrived sporadically. Two staked out at a picnic shelter at the eastern portion of Heron Lake off of Truman Road. One was wearing an elaborate self-constructed head-dress/necklace reminiscent of Eytukan, while the other simply wore a Learn Na'vi t-shirt. Another arrived but had to use the latrine. A fourth showed up in full RDA regalia, just to break the general Na'vi theme. A pair of twins arrived dressed as Na'vi complete with bows and daggers.

A map of Heron Lake picked up by one of the Na'vi-dressed twins showed a rectangular area surrounding a lake. Despite all the talk of "preserving" nature, this particular preserve had been sculpted for maximum human utility. A picnic shelter could be found in the middle of each "side" of the rectangle, with the northern and southern "sides" being longer. These areas also had pit latrines near the shelters. A lake of slightly oblong shape graced the center, with only a single bridge from near the southern area allowing access to said island. A boat launch extruded into the water near the northern area. The western area had two shelters and a shuttered nature center.

Just as everyone was settling down and greetings (both in Na'vi and ìnglìsì) were being exchanged, sirens interrupted the pristine morning. They appeared to becoming from the parking lot outside the southern picnic area. Looking toward the source of the commotion, all six noticed the ten-foot blue alien at the same time, after which they began heading over toward the group of people surrounding said alien. From what they could see, there was a forest ranger, two seasonal employees (which was unusual this late in the year) and some older men with fishing equipment. Four uniformed police officers appeared at the end of the path near the southern area. What appeared to be a minor altercation caused the six to quicken their pace. The sound of a gunshot got them full-tilt sprinting toward the area.

As the officers moved toward Neytiri, six people barreled between them and their quarry. These newcomers wore all manner of strange head-dresses, necklaces and other costuming. Some carried bows, arrows and daggers. Whether these were actual weapons mattered little, in absence of a clear marking that they were not, the officers considered the weapons fully functional.

"Steven! Steven!" One of the twins dressed in Na'vi clothing called out. "Remember me? I…sorta…kicked your drink over at the theater!" What a way to introduce oneself. Oh well, it was the only way he'd remember me, thought Michelle.

"Okay okay I don't know what in God's name is going on here, but everyone stop! Stay where you are!" yelled one of the officers. His badge could be seen properly for the first time--"A. Mitchell." As if everyone was playing "Red Light, Green Light" with the light called to be red (a children's game in which a group runs at a person declared "it" with the goal of reaching the end line, with the caveat that anyone caught moving on "red" is declared "out"), everyone froze, or more realistically tried to. The result was somewhat comical.

In that moment, a fisherman was caught in an awkward position of being bent over to pick up a dropped bobber. Another had a worm in his hand which he was going to spear onto a hook, but seeing as he was no longer moving the worm wiggled out from between his fingers and landed in the grass, disappearing. Steven was running toward Neytiri, iPhone in his left hand. Not holding it very tightly, the momentum caused said phone to fly forward and land screen-down with a sickening "crack" as it hit the pavement. Sarah tripped over a dropped tackle-box, missing a large spread of fish hooks by less than a yard. Michelle and her twin, Allison, did the classic "one person stops, the person behind plows into the person in front," ending up on the ground in a heap.

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Old 03-17-2010, 03:45 AM
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Officer Aaron Mitchell had seen some unusual things in his fifteen years as a police officer, but this had to be the record. Sure, he'd seen someone with a mobile meth lab in the back of a Suburban, busted a couple going at it in the middle of a playground, responded to a vandalism call that ended up being a car completely covered in blue duct-tape and "broke into" someone's car because the keys were "locked inside" (it turned out the keys were in the person's hand the whole time). This topped everything. The movie "Avatar" had resulted in a slight uptick of people given warnings about being in parks past closing time, usually dressed in blue with ears, tails and other such nonsense, speaking a language he'd heard once in a movie theater. Aaron had seen the movie only because his kids wanted to. He didn't really pay much attention, which served him poorly since "Avatar" was all his children wanted to talk about afterward. He should have watched more closely. Unbeknownst to Mitchell, the "movie" was now watching him. He'd seen the costumes, and this particular one was no costume. First of all, the "ten foot blue chick" was in fact actually ten feet tall, or something close to it. That would require more special makeup tricks than anyone had around here. Second, the costumed people always dropped the pretend if things got serious. There was nothing to drop here--this woman really didn't know where she was, how she got here or what she was doing here. Finally, that plug-in thing, the…the queue is what they call it, on the end of her hair was not a prop or prosthetic. Or if it was, it had to be something that would make James Cameron blush. The tendrils waved around with merry abandon, ignorant of the direction of the wind.

"Okay." Mitchell was going to take control before things got more out of control. "We're going to do this one person at a time. Speak slowly, clearly and make sure you recount everything you know." It almost seemed like trying to drag information out of a reluctant witness in a courtroom.

Forty five minutes later, Mitchell had as much information as he was going to get. There was no point asking people things they either were determined not to divulge or honestly didn't know. A fact-sheet he'd jotted down on a legal pad contained the following information:

The blue alien's name = Neytiri (Nay-teer-ee)
Woke up in woods, does not know how ended up in woods
Claims not to be from this planet (well that's kinda obvious)
Claims only humans she's ever dealt with are either on a different planet or in the future
Lauren and Steven found Nayteree (which was scribbled out and replaced with "Neytiri")
Steven put pictures of Neytiri on the internet
Sarah saw the pictures and arrived at HLFP
Michelle, Allison, Mike, Ben, Jeff and Adam showed up before us, they heard gunshots and ran over from other side of preserve. Original purpose was to find Niteeri (scribbled out and replaced with "Neytiri")

What, exactly, was he supposed to tell his dispatcher? He kept telling them "Situation in progress" to stall, but eventually they'd demand something, or send out reinforcements.

While Aaron Mitchell was reviewing his list, an intense debate broke out among the other people present. It had been going for nearly five minutes. He tuned in.

"We should hide her" Sarah insisted. "Use the old West Sector shops. The buildings are huge--I don't know why we abandoned those. The South Sector shops are much smaller!"

"We can't" interjected Lauren. "The West Sector shops are scheduled to go on the auction block, that's why we got rid of them. They're the biggest, and in the best condition. They'll fetch the most money, so that's why the Board voted to dump them."

"It's hard to hide something that was posted on the internet already" intoned Allison. "The ikran is out of the rookery."

"She means 'The cat's out of the bag'" clarified Michelle. "The point is, it's already spreading that there's a real Na'vi walking around Heron Lake Forest Preserve."

"How many people are going to believe something they saw on the internet?" asked Adam. Just two weeks ago, someone had posted something similar on another Avatar-related forum. There was a hullabaloo for about two days before the person admitted to Photoshopping the whole thing. Very well. Pictures no longer served as proof something was real.

"That doesn't solve the question of what we actually do with her. She's here, she's real, and she needs to be housed somewhere."

Lauren's reality check brought everyone back.

"I will not be a cause of conflict among your people. I will also not be put in one of your 'zoos' to be looked at." Neytiri glared at the group of humans. If there was one thing this disparate group should agree on, it was that there existed no way they could keep her hidden. Not until she breathed her dying breath and returned to…whatever existed on this planet. Not based on the track record of these three humans for keeping things to themselves. Yet, as is often the case among humans, the one item everyone could agree on was the last thing anyone thought about.

"Okay okay!" Sam was getting exasperated with the circular arguing. People seemed to think there were only two options: hide Neytiri for as long as was physically possible using whatever means were available or go showing her to the world under the blinding lights of newspaper cameras and film reels.

"Everyone knows we can't realistically hide her forever." Sam's frustration was showing, though he didn't want it to. "Unless anyone knows someone with access to Area 51" he added sarcastically. "Or should I say, Area 52, since all the tin-foil-hats already know everything there is to know about Area 51."

He paused to collect his thoughts.

"At the same time, just from seeing people here, we can't just go shoving her into the bright lights."

"He means letting the whole world see you all at once" Sarah clarified to a confused Neytiri.

"So here's what I suggest we do…"
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:16 PM
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Chapter 8 - Revelations

I realize that I haven't posted when I said I would. This was because I didn't know where to go with the cliff-hanger I left before. I also feel like this chapter may not be up to the standard of past chapters...

The dispatcher called again. "266, come in! What's your status?"

Mitchell was hoping to avoid this. Everyone in the group--the Ranger, seasonals, the fishermen, the police officers and the Avatar-meet-up group agreed on an incremental approach to unveiling this alien woman to the rest of the world. And if dispatch smelled trouble, they'd send in heavy reinforcements which would create yet more tension, exposing more people to the strange idea of sentient aliens before the world was ready. It would make hash out of an agreement that had nearly brought this small group to blows.

"This is 266, situation normal! Everything's under control, now, thank you."

"Why haven't you reported in?"

"There was, a bit of a fight here… Uhh, two of the fishermen got into it over who got to keep a fish."


"So, what was this call about 'wild animals?'"

"One of them…got a little excited. And said some things that didn't really make sense."

"We'll send someone out to check up, pardon the pun but this sounds fishy."

Mitchell silenced his radio and swore loudly. He wasn't about to tell them that there was an alien here. They'd think he was crazy. He turned to the rest of the group.

"Listen! The dispatcher didn't buy that story. I didn't think she would, but it was worth a shot. Reinforcements may be sent priority (flashers and sirens on), so we have less than two minutes to do something with Neytiri here."

Suddenly, Sam's tinted-window, eighteen-and-a-half foot rolling motel didn't seem so useless.

"Quick!" Sam gestured as he opened the back of the Escalade. "In here! Stay low so that people don't see you!" Neytiri reluctantly climbed into the back of the vehicle. It wasn't an easy fit. Despite the size of a Cadillac Escalade ESV, Neytiri was still ten feet tall. Folding down the seats only made her slightly more comfortable/less visible.

The other fishermen began packing up as many of their belongings as they could.

Steven glumly observed "Whatever gets left here we'll be picking up tomorrow morning."

Lauren brought the truck around, and Steven hopped in the passenger side before she gunned the engine back toward Route 35. Sarah ran back to her Prius and drove away. Mitchell and the other police officers would have to wait around and take the heat. The group of fishermen got into their vehicles and drove off as quickly as possible.

By the time the reinforcements showed up (they did not elect to arrive with lights and sirens on), only Mitchell and the three other officers were left. After a surprisingly non-confrontational discussion, it was decided to drop the situation as "more Forest Preserve weirdness" since there was no direct evidence of a crime.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:17 PM
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Sarah returned home and quickly punched up two websites on her computer. The plan was to slowly introduce Neytiri (and indeed, the idea of extra-terrestrial intelligent life) to those who would find it least objectionable. That meant Avatar-Forums and the new Tree of Souls. While neither was a hotbed of conspiracy theories or UFO sighting claims, both were centered around Avatar and the ideals the movie represented.

The group, which had nicknamed itself Team Neytiri, had also decided that "head-on" introductions (like the ones they'd had) were not the best idea. Therefore, when introducing people, Neytiri wasn't even mentioned. Instead, she would be a surprise for the trusted few. As that circle of trust spread and Team Neytiri grew, introductions would be more open. For now, the first set of "introductees" would be brought together in the guise of an "Avatar Meetup" with nothing else mentioned.

Sarah would have to find as many people near her current location as she could without getting their suspicions up that something was amiss. Using the idea of "last Avatar showing before it goes out of theaters," she was able to attract a group of some fifteen people (including herself and Steven). While Lauren was also part of "Team Neytiri" she felt it best that she remain uninvolved for now due to professional considerations.

The first meeting of "Team Neytiri" took place approximately four days after Sarah planned it. Twelve people showed up for the last showing at the IMAX on Route 35. The theater was packed because it was one of the few remaining outlets still showing "Avatar" (in 3D IMAX no less). Avatar regalia was kept to a minimum other than a few t-shirts--Team Neytiri didn't want to attract too much attention. They'd had enough problems with unwanted attention, and while more were inevitable, there was no reason to take unnecessary risks. After the movie ended (to a standing ovation), Sarah suggested a "spontaneous" movement to the nearby forest preserve for Na'vi speaking and environmentalism planning sessions.

The local environmental movement in Paedgu County had been somewhat moribund for the past two decades, owing to a lack of "in-your-face" environmental issues. In addition, the county's above-average income and high concentration of businesses (including one Anderson-Magneson Power Company) resulted in people's thoughts being more aligned with what local businesses wanted than anything environmental groups might have to say. Of course, one must not forget the potent mix of "nuclear" and "leak" in the same sentence. Once that cat was out of the bag, Paedgu became a hot-bed for "not-in-my-backyard" environmentalism. The fact that the leak caused no damage mitigated most pro-environmental organizing, but the environment was back as an issue. The county's Forest Preserves, once the pride of the state, had lapsed into disrepair. Local residents, who hadn't given a hoot before, were all of the sudden indignant over the unused nature center at Heron Lake and the empty boat dock (half was useable, the other half was not) at Blue Water.

Though the Forest Preserve had been trying to restore its tax levy since "the accident," it had been unable to do so because several pro-levy members were voted off in the election two years later. The release of "Avatar" gave the Forest Preserve's boosters a badly-needed shot in the arm. These planning sessions were meant to deal with an upcoming meeting of the Forest Preserve Board. Three of the seven members were decidedly anti-levy at the start of their terms, but two seemed to have softened their opposition. Two sitting members were in favor, and it only takes some simple math to figure out the needed majority.

Team Neytiri had taken out a permit on the entire Forest Preserve. That was the one thing Lauren could do--keep the Rangers and general public out of the way while Team Neytiri did its business.

Sarah made "the announcement" as everyone was getting ready to leave.

"We have one more thing, one more…item that we'd like to discuss. We…"

Neytiri had been "hidden" on the roof of the shelter. Anyone flying over would see her, but with the nearby nuclear plant the whole area was a big no-fly zone. She dropped down before Sarah could even finish her sentence, landing amongst the gathered people. Her tail hit Sarah in the face.

"OUCH! Well, never mind, it…uh…the situation explained itself."

Unlike the last few people who'd been introduced to Neytiri and thought her either a figment of imagination or a very clever costume, the assembled started asking other questions.

"Where'd she come from?"

"How'd this happen?"

"Where's my ticket to Pandora?"

"Are there more Na'vi on Earth?"

Sarah, Steven and Neytiri recounted the entire story of Neytiri's random appearance on Earth, her odd introduction to human society circa 2009 and the forming of Team Neytiri to introduce the world to its first extra-terrestrial intelligent lifeform.

Several of the assembled believed Neytiri should be unveiled like a car at the Chicago Auto Show--shown to vast numbers of people at once in the blinding light of TV cameras. This would turn out to be the most difficult area to agree on as Team Neytiri grew in size.

Like the roots of a tree, Team Neytiri began to branch out. The original Team Neytiri became sort of a steering committee who would decide which expansions of the Team were acceptable and which were not. In the beginning, this was relatively easy. But as Team Neytiri became larger, the vetting process began to involve late-night Skype conferences, heated arguments and even some threats of "going public."

Another issue revolved around appropriate housing and food for Neytiri. She had alternatively lived in Heron Lake and in the yards of various Team members, but this wouldn't be something that could be maintained forever. Moving Neytiri around required a big vehicle, and there was always the risk of being pulled over (with Sam's sometimes-erratic driving).

Thankfully, the prediction about Steven's web-postings going viral never bore out. The low-resolution iPhone photos were written off as "Photoshopped." Unfortunately, Team Neytiri's information-control efforts would be undone by something that came from where they least expected it.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:32 PM
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This is amazing

Really don't know why I didn't notice this sooner.

As is traditional:
MOAR!!
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:49 PM
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OME....This is great. Although, I'm glad that you made the humans a bit nicer. We all know what they actually would have done... <33333333333333 Neytiri
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Old 03-29-2010, 06:14 PM
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Chapter 9 - Tension

The Na'vi were omnivorous, that much was clear. However, no one was sure what Earth-food would be edible for Neytiri. Starting with the most basic of all items, nothing in Earth's water that disagreed with Neytiri's digestive system. Obviously, Neytiri could not just live on water, so Sarah took her Prius over to the local Farmer's Market. Farmers there proudly proclaimed "No pesticides used" and "No GM food" on their booths. These "natural" foods should be the safest possible item, Sarah thought.

Neytiri's appetite was ravenous, even accounting for her size. Earth's different environment was thought to be the main reason, since the willowy Na'vi physiology wasn’t adapted for Earth's greater gravity. The thinner air meant Neytiri tired quickly. Though Steven suggested iron supplements to boost red-cell counts, Sarah kyboshed the idea and insisted on all-natural iron. Lentils, certain beans and black-eyed peas were thus purchased in abundance.

Despite best efforts at nutrition, Neytiri began to feel weaker. Unknown to Sarah or Steven, teylu contained a high concentration of a specific item essential to the Na'vi diet. And of course, there was no such item on Earth to anyone's knowledge. The growth of Team Neytiri from the first meetup resulted in the addition of a veterinary specialist (through one of the members) to the group. Classifying Neytiri as an animal was clearly not something anyone wished to do. However, the vet's knowledge of strange animal diseases and ability to think outside the "box" of standard human treatments would prove invaluable later.

After just two weeks of living on Earth, Neytiri began to show signs of mal-nutrition. The normally smooth blue skin began to show small wrinkles, and Neytiri's ribcage became slightly visible. Team Neytiri was alarmed, but with no knowledge of Na'vi physiology they were stuck. Coupled with the Na'vi's lack of advanced medical understanding, it was very difficult to figure out anything. After some chance experimentation, it was learnt that that Earth's relatively more arid climate was causing Neytiri's skin to become dry. The simplest solution (water) actually ended up making the situation worse since water evaporated and took other water with it. Vaseline and other petroleum-based products caused an unpleasant reaction (yellowing of the skin) so its use was quickly discontinued.

Between Neytiri's health problems and the growth of the team built to protect her, Steven and Sarah were having a hard time living their normal lives. With return to college approaching, Steven and Sarah would have to disappear to two different states within a week. So much had happened in just two weeks. In only one more, Neytiri would be left in the care of others.

One of those "others" would be Lauren Fisher. Despite her determination to avoid involvement, she had on occasion visited Neytiri and was aware of the problems facing the team. On the latest visit, she asked again what was to be done when Sarah and Steven went off back to school. It seemed neither of them wanted to really confront the issue, which was unacceptable. Something had to be done, and quickly. Their parents (who were not part of the operational Team but were aware of Neytiri) could not be expected to take care of a ten-foot blue alien who they ignorantly regarded as some kind of exotic housepet.

"Listen" Lauren intoned, exasperated with Sarah and Steven's refusal to confront the inevitable. "You two are going to be leaving to schools hundreds of miles away in three days! What are we doing with Neytiri?"

Neytiri's condition had continued to deteriorate. Her hair had started to lose its luster and gloss. It seemed Earth might do what the marines at the school failed to do, what a Thanator refused to do and what Quaritch was distracted from doing.

Noting this deterioration, Dr. Arnold Ross, a veterinarian with over twenty years of experience had been consulted (he was the father of the twins Michelle and Allison). Currently, he was unsure what was happening, though he had several theories. He'd come with Lauren in hopes of shocking the kids into doing something, anything.

"I hate to have to say this" he began, "But all this may be pointless…"

"She's not going to die, is she?" demanded Steven.

"Well, I'm not going to count her out yet, but there is a very real possibility of that, given our inability to figure out what is ailing her" replied Dr. Ross.

"Wait." Sarah interrupted, not wanting to discuss the idea of Neytiri dying. "As far as shelter goes, the Forest Preserve is selling off the land and buildings in the old West Sector. We could hole up there!"

"So I suppose you have millions of dollars just sitting around" Lauren retorted. "Those buildings are up for auction! Someone your age should know what that does to price, with eBay and all! The price, by the way, is already beyond our means to start!"

"How much?" Sarah shot back.

"$15 million, at least" Lauren replied. "And that's the starting price. You know it will sell for much more." "Plus" Lauren continued, "you're not buying just a shack in the woods. There's a fleet-services facility with twenty two bays, a parking lot with 250 spaces, and an old office building that was slated for an expansion that never happened."

An assessor had valued the whole complex at $23 million. The Forest Preserve was trying to "dump" the property by starting well below assessed value, but so far it wasn't working.

Several businesses had expressed interest in the building. One was a developer who wanted to build condominiums, another wished to turn the place into a full-time auto shop and the final bidder wished to develop an office complex. No one wanted to pay the unpublicized reserve-price of $19 million set by the Board. The highest bid so far was $17.5 million (bidding started at $12 million).

Dr. Ross jerked everyone back to reality. "I need to take some samples" he said as he gathered several different types of tissue from Neytiri, who lay on the floor looking quite worn out. Her once bright-golden eyes had dulled to brownish-yellow. Blood, tissue and hair samples would be taken back to Dr. Ross's lab for analysis, in the hopes that someone could figure out what was going wrong.

Time was running out.
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