Neytiri felt her Ikran soaring, desperately hurrying to escape the blast from the metal demon below. In her arm she cradled the frail human, his mind lost to the rapid sequence of events that had played out. Neytiri had been following the faketuan vehicle, watched and felt as the great fire consumed the forest and destroyed their means of transport in an instance and then watched as the Sky People’s last demon stood against her mate for one final confrontation.
Thomsully had shown no fear, had stood his ground against the evil but she knew he was merely giving his fleeing friend a chance to escape from his own fate. So she dove from the skies high above, urging her Ikran in closer and closer, quelling its fear at the onrushing ground and hoping she was not too late to save the one who now held her heart.
She watched as Thom dove wildly between the beasts legs only to be snatched up in its giant claw, as if he were no more than a Nantang. Her heart beat faster, the wind screaming past them now. At the last moment she watched the demon release Thom, saw him drop only to be scooped up in her outstretched arm a moment later, hanging almost upside down from her Ikrans back.
As if in one final act of defiance the metal demon behind them ignited into a fiery ball of heat, sending super heated shrapnel flying outwards in all directions as the man within was consumed with one last anguished scream. Neytiri felt the heat wash over her, followed a moment later by the deadly missiles. Her Ikran jerked violently to the side, its right wing a ragged mess of torn skin along with its underbelly, even now its flight path descending precariously. Even more worryingly though she felt a slow trickle of blood seep across her arm, looking down to see her mate impaled upon a metal bar that passed through his stomach with a ragged scar.
Her Ikran clipped the top of a tall tree, its already stressed wings unable to take anymore punishment before it collapsed, the trio tumbling through the thick branches before crashing into the soft earth far below. Neytiri was thrown aside by the force of the impact, releasing the small human at her side. Her Ikran made a last farewell call upon the ground before its spirit returned to Eywa, the giant beast lying still upon the ground. Neytiri felt the hollow loss within, the passing of a friend she had know since her coming of age challenge so many cycles ago. But she could not dwell on the loss for she still had the chance to save one life today.
Rushing to Thom’s side she held his head softly in her overlarge hands, feeling his ragged breathing against the impeding piece of shrapnel that lay ominously within stomach. She dared not remove it lest it cause more damage, instead carefully resting a hand against the faketuan’s chest.
“Neytiri?” the frail human quietly said, his face unusually pale even for a Sky Person behind the alien mask he wore.
Neytiri felt her heart skip a beat, a slow tear making its way down her face. Tom reached up to wipe it away gently, at peace with himself finally. He coughed suddenly, a violent retching that only served to deepen the wound in his stomach. Cursing loudly in his own tongue Neytiri gathered him up with as much care as possible, setting off into the thick forest without hesitation.
“Do not fear,” she urged as she felt her legs run with a smoothness and speed not felt since her youthful days. It was as if Eywa had heard her call, the creatures of the forest clearing her path so that she ran unimpeded, not stopping for a breath until she could see the great tree rising up before her.
Many had come to the Tree of Souls in this time of trouble to pray for assistance from Eywa, their collective voices flowing through the very link between them and every other living thing upon the planet. The ground shone in time to their chants, the hypnotic scene almost dreamlike to the delirious faketuan.
Setting the body down gently, Neytiri called for her mother, the wise woman hurrying over to the pair and inspecting the damage. As she ran a hand over the metal shard Tom hissed quietly, the energy to fight leaving his body with every passing moment.
“The damage is too great, Eywa can not save his body,” she stated flatly, removing her hands from the aliens body and sighing heavily from the wounds inflicted upon all peoples today.
“Please!” Neytiri pleaded, gripping her mother tightly, tears coming more freely now as she wept openly for her lifemate.
Mo’at stood quickly, looking towards the riders who had returned from the Sky People’s home along with the three hollow dreamwalker bodies draped beside them. Could it work? she wondered silently to herself, looking to Eywa for guidance as her oldest daughter cradled the dying aliens form. As if replying to her query a sole woodsprite descended slowly from the great tree, landing between the entwined pair and ending any further consternation on her part.
“Come, quickly,” Mo’at ordered her daughter, leading her towards the roots of the great tree.
“Bring him,” she ordered the riders, motioning at the hybrid. They worked without question, placing the body opposite its human occupant before stepping back in respect and bewilderment. Neytiri stood beside her mother, watching everything around her with a detachment unlike anything she had ever known, her thoughts only with her dying mate.
“Will it work?” she asked solemnly of her matriarch.
“His fate is in Eywa’s hands now,” Mo’at replied, urging the people on through the link between all of them. As the first fibres of the tree began to entwine with the faketuan they felt his mind enter their own, becoming one of the People. “He is weak, the path will not be easy,” Mo’at answered truthfully.
The thin tendrils grew to envelop both forms, the pulsing light of a thousand minds surging through every fibre and casting the small valley in a deep glow that matched the hearts and wills of all their minds. This faketuan had risked everything to save their home, losing his own in the process. The chants grew in ferocity, the voices calling upon Eywa for Her guidance.
As the roots surrounding Thomsully’s human body faded into darkness Mo’at knelt by his side, removing the mask and releasing his final burden. Neytiri clutched the hand of Thom’s dreamwalker body, tiny flashes of light arcing between their palms. She felt the beat of his strong heart, the tremors through his flesh as mind and body become One. She leant in closer, feeling his energy rising, the will to live coming from every living being around them urging the union onwards.
Placing her lips gently against his own she sought comfort in familiarity and found her embrace returned to her. Leaning back Thom followed her, raising his hands to look at his true body before turning to look at the human form he had finally left behind.
“How… how did you?” he questioned, gazing at all those around them.
“It was Eywa’s will,” Neytiri said simply before wrapping her arms around him and allowing the waves of relief to wash over them both. “You are one of the People now Thomsully,” she said, “One of the Omaticaya forever.”
Standing together, on uncertain legs, Tom looked out at the many faces feeling his heart catch in his throat. This was nothing like being in a link pod, the sensations that rippled through his body and mind, there was no way a machine could replicate them into senses a human mind could understand. It was as if he had gone from simulator to real thing once more, only this time to stay.
Turning to face his mate he felt his heart beat faster before a dawning realisation came to him, lost in the moment before. He scanned quickly, looking for any sign of encroaching danger.
“What happened to the Sky People, to Quaritch?” he asked hurriedly.
Neytiri smiled, wrapping an arm around his shoulders to help comfort him as she turned to gaze at the scene above them.
“They left in their great bird,” she explained, a slender finger pointing to a particularly bright star that shone in the night sky. “They leave because of you Thomsully. You have saved all Na’vi.”
“And Norm, Grace?” he asked, the good doctors name catching in his throat as he thought of her and how she had been left with such haste.
“We did not find the woman,” Neytiri admitted tearfully, “the metal demon scattered her ashes to Eywa but she is with peace now, of that all Na’vi can be certain.”
Tom felt a lump in his throat. He had wished to give the doctor a proper burial, but knew that what Neytiri said was true, hopefully Grace could find calm amongst the ancestors of the Na’vi people.
“We search for the other faketuan,” Neytiri continued when Tom returned his gaze to her. “All know that he is good of heart too, he shall not be harmed.”
“And this,” Tom said, running his hands up and down his body, “can you do this for him too? We have no home to go to now,” he admitted truthfully, the realisation dawning on him after being so focused on stopping the RDA for such a long time.
Neytiri stepped closer still, wrapping her arms around him and resting her chin against his shoulder. “You are both Omaticaya,” she whispered quietly, “you will never be without home again.”
Many seasons had passed since the Sky People had returned to the heavens and with each passing day it was harder and harder to see where their base had once been as Eywa reclaimed her land. Every child was taught of the faketuan, taught to understand them and respect them for one day they would return but in the meantime life had to continue in the way it had since the time of songs.
Doctor Spellman had been found, shaken but unharmed after only a short while amongst the jungle. Accepting Mo’ats generous offer he joined Tom as one of the People, initially ill at ease with the more traditional life but soon learning the benefits of such a peaceful existence. He took a mate when he finally bested his own Ikran, a feat that still gave much delight to those who recalled how the man had trembled more than the Thundering Rocks themselves as he stood before the winged beasts.
Mo’at let it be known that neither man was to ever be refereed to by the name of dreamwalker, hybrid of faketuan again for both were now Na’vi, as if born of the womb of one of their own, admittedly with an extra digit on each hand though. Some were initially displeased at what they saw as the last remaining presence of the Sky People, but as both men slowly lost their old humanity they grew closer to all of those around them until any warrior would be hard pressed to name any difference between themselves and those who had saved their people.
As the great gas giant of Polythemus in the sky slowly gave way to reveal the primary star and the beginning of the Summer seasons, Tom had another reason to rejoice amongst the People. Holding his first child in his arms he knelt beside his wife, letting her see their new daughter for the first time.
“She has your eyes,” he whispered quietly, the child stretching new found limbs as it entered the new world.
“And your hands,” Neytiri remarked playfully, watching five little fingers curl around one of her own.
“What shall we call her?” Tom asked, watching her tiny cat like nose sniff at the air around her, large green eyes opening to stare into his own as if she Saw already.
“Grace,” Neytiri finally answered, the name not of normal Na’vi origin but one of clear merit to both and any others who had known the good doctor.
“Grace,” Tom repeated, holding his child for all those assembled to see. “Welcome to Pandora Grace,” Tom said as she reached out playfully to catch a falling woodsprite.