“More dreamwalkers?” Tsu’tey asked, seeing the figures alighting from the alien flying machine. He’d protested enough when Jake had lobbied for Grace to be allowed to visit them, but to allow a sky person craft to land so close to hometree was unacceptable. Dr Augustine lead the group approaching the tree, but he didn’t recognise the other. This new arrival had the look of being like Grace, a scientist. Soft and weak. At least Jake was a warrior, someone he could understand. Scientists seem to try to understand the world without seeing, let alone understanding.
Jake and Neytiri met them at the edge of settlement escorting them through the perimeter guards. Mo’at was waiting inside to greet them, especially the unknown dream walker. “May the Great Mother smile upon our first meeting.” His voice shoot from his nervousness. Tsu’tey smirked at the formal nature of the greeting.
“He speaks well,” Mo’at said congratulating Grace. Tsu’tey could tell she was a little disappointed. After Jake she had hoped for another dreamwalker warrior. “What is your name child?”
“Norm” Norm explained.
“I hope you don’t expect me to train him?” Tsu’tey asked. Norm glanced over with a mix of excitement and fear.
“Perhaps not today” Mo’at said squashing the suggestion while giving a face telling Tsu’tey to back off a bit.
Grace and Jake went to meet the children, those that still have possible memories of their time at school. Mo’at had returned to her duties leaving Tsu’tey with Norm.
“You must be Tsu’tey.” Norm held out his hand in the strange greeting the sky people did.
“Hello, Norm” Tsu’tey replied ignoring the hand, barely concealing his disdain.
“Jake has told us a lot about you,” Norm continued ignoring his hostility.
“Oh really? What has Jake told you about me?” Tsu’tey asked, suddenly intrigued. So Jake was telling his fellow sky people about his time here. He wondered what else he was telling them.
“Well, He said you do not approve of Neytiri training him” Norm said suddenly sheepish. Tsu’tey smiled.
“That is correct,” it was clear that Jake had said other words as well. Jake regarded him as a skxawng after all.
“You mentioned teaching me. I know Mo’at shot it down, but was that a serious offer?” Norm asked.
“Ah! You would not survive a day! We should not be training outsiders like you but at least Jake is a warrior,” Tsu’tey laughed at the suggestion.
“I suppose I would,” Norm muttered clearly disappointed at the rejection.
“Everything alright you two?” Jake asked approaching them.
“No, everything fine, just introducing myself to Tsu’tey here” Norm said as if they had had a pleasant conversation.
“Good, come. Grace wants to take you to meet Eytukan,” Jake said leading Norm away. “So what do you think of him?” Tsu’tey heard Jake ask Norm as they walked away.
“Bit of an arsehole,” Norm replied.
“He just doesn’t like strangers. But still an arsehole,” Jake said jokingly. Tsu’tey bristled at what was clearly an insult, whatever an arsehole actually was.
Ultimately Eytukan wasn’t impressed with Norm either but both Grace and Norm were allowed continued access to Hometree with discretion. They were allowed in during the clan’s celebration of a successful talioang hunt. Jake had surpassed Tsu’tey’s expectations, succeeding his Iknimaya and gaining the status of ikran makto. Soon he would undergo niltaron and become one of the people. While Tsu’tey was concerned that a dreamwalker could learn their ways so easily he was developing some respect for him.
“Your warriors hide inside machines, fight from far away,” he said to Jake, slightly drunk. “I did not think a sky person could be brave.”Jake was about to reply when Neytiri rushed up to them.
“You must dance!” she said to Jake in particular. He made to refuse.“It is the way,” she urged him. Accepting the inevitable Jake agreed, dragging Grace along into the dance.
Tsu’tey scowled, he did not like how Neytiri was too friendly with Jake sometimes. While the bond between teacher and student was a special one she was to be mated to him. He would have made a much more suitable teacher for Jake.
A flash of inspiration crossed his mind. “I will show you how a real warrior dances!” he exclaimed and grabbed Norm’s arm. Norm was surprised as Tsu’tey dragged him into the dance. “What?”
“You said you wanted me to teach you. So I will teach you to dance!” Tsu’tey said.
It was purely to get back at Neytiri of course. He could have taken Grace but taking weak Norm and teaching him to dance better than Jake would be perfect. “Just follow my lead!” he advised as Norm struggled. He was so busy dancing, keeping perfect form and rhythm that he didn’t see the way Jake and Neytiri looked at each other even as Mo’at and Eytukan looked on. Norm meanwhile tried simply to avoid being swept off his feet.
“How was that?” Tsu’tey called out for praise as the dance ended. Several jeers of support came forth while Norm sat out to take a breath.
Neytiri made to covering up Jake are her’s confusion “Best I’ve seen.”
“I told you I was better,” Tsu’tey said to Jake.
“Best of three?” Jake challenged.
“Agreed,” Tsu’tey accepted.
“You dance well, for a dream walker,” Tsu’tey said to Norm while the clan prepared for the next dance.
“No problem. But I’m going to sit this one out,” Norm wheezed still out of breath. Annoyed that he could no longer show up Neytiri with a dreamwalker Tsu’tey would do the next dance with Saeyla, if only to put an end to her constant requests. Though by the fourth dance neither of them really remembered the bet any more.
The second meeting
Tsu’tey looked over the tree of souls as another flight of Ikran riders landed. Tsu’tey had never imagined that it was possible to bring so many Na’vi together. Let alone by a dream walker. Then again he would never have expected Jake to become the Turok Makto and be willing to lead them to war against the sky people.
He walked through the jungle heading for the clearing where the sky people were. They had bought the wounded Grace to them and while they had tried to save her she was with Ewya now. Along with Jake that left Norm and the sky person who controlled their flying machine who he had learned was called Trudy.
He could see the clearing and the metallic building they had transported here. Norm was standing outside on guard. They were very particular that none of the new arrivals went near it.
“Who goes there!” Norm shouted jerking the machine gun he carried hearing Tsu’tey’s approach.
“It is just me,” Tsu’tey said, stepping into the open.
“Oh. You should give me some warning next time,” Norm said lowering the weapon. He had not been at Hometree during the attack but also had a grudge against the other sky people.
“I wasn’t even trying to be quiet. You should have heard and seen me sooner,” Tsu’tey pointed out. Outside of the safety of Hometree Norm was very much like a Jake. Even worse than Jake had been when he appeared.
“No offence but this is a little bit outside of my comfort zone,” Norm protested.
“There is no ‘comfort zone’ here. I’m surprised that you haven’t been eaten,” Tsu’tey said.
“Well it doesn’t help that I’m not operating one hundred percent,” Norm tried to explain. Suddenly Norm’s speech began slurred, “the link… isn’t...function...” For a second he looked at Tsu’tey expression puzzled and then he collapsed. Tsu’tey stood confused for a second. This had happened to Jake and Grace before though he did not understand why though they seemed to recover eventually. The door to the shack was thrown open and a new sky person walked about of it.
“Shit! Another desync,” the sky person said walking towards Tsu’tey and Norm.
“Who are you?” Tsu’tey asked the sky person but then he recognised the familiar face even behind its mask. “Norm?”
The sky person seemed embarrassed at being recognised. “I see you Tsu’tey. Yes its me.”. Tsu’tey knew that dream walkers were not real people but instead controlled by a sky person, even if how that was possible he did not begin to understand. That being said meeting the person on the other side was an unnatural experience. Glancing over at the dream walker’s face Tsu’tey could see how the facial structure was deformed into the face of the sky person in front of him partly covered by facial hair. He still didn’t know much about sky people but Norm seemed very much like his dream walker, kind of weak and lacking confidence.
“I was expecting someone taller,” Tsu’tey finally said.
“Very funny. Now can you drag my avatar over here,” Norm said pointing to his fallen body.
“What happened?” Tsu’tey asked dragging the dreamwalker body to where Norm had laid out a mat.
“Link desync. When we came here we had to leave the primary transmitter on the other shack. Which leaves us with the backup and Jake is so far out that its taking up off the bandwidth. The other link machine is pretty glitchy and when I had a bad glitch there wasn’t the bandwidth to take the strain and the link broke,” Norm explained. Tsu’tey looked at him blankly. “You haven’t understood a word I said?” he asked.
“No,” Tsu’tey admitted.
“Ok short version blame Jake,” Norm said.
“Jake is here?” Tsu’tey asked.
“Yeah, he’s in the shack linked with his avatar. When he’s back you and Neytiri can
meet him,” Norm suggested.
“No. No-one must know of this.” Tsu’tey cut him off. If anyone knew that the strange being called Jake was actually a sky person the force they were putting together would instantly collapse.
“Your right. Bad call there,” Norm admitted. Of course there was another reason. It would involve Jake and Neytiri being together and while there was a lot that Tsu’tey had forgiven Jake he would never being able to forgive him for taking Neytiri away from him.
It was later and night was drawing in. Jake had returned with a dozen more clans and was in a grand meeting of Olo'eyktan to formulate their strategy for the upcoming battle. Many of them had pushed to launch attacks on the sky people base but Jake had cautioned against it. Somehow he knew that the sky people planned to attack them here and destroy the Tree of Souls. This strike against Eywa herself made many accept Jake’s defensive plan leaving only a few holdouts to be placated. Tsu’tey left Jake to it. At least that was one responsibility he did not want to bear.
Tsu’tey walked through the masses of na’vi from other clans, some that he had never heard of before. Finally he came to where the sky person Trudy was using her flying machine as a training aid for the few warriors willing to listen. Norm was attempting to translate for those that didn’t understand english, which seemed to be most of them though the odd not na’vi that dressed like a sky person didn’t help much. “You want to take a break Trudy?” Norm asked the woman.
“Anything to get this mask off. I need some time to hack the IFF system,” Trudy said climbing into the craft.
“Hi Tsu’tey,” Norm said turning to see him.
“So you are doing your bit for the coming battle?” Tsu’tey commented.
“I’m doing better than that. I intend to fight as well,” Norm said.
“But you are not a warrior.”
“I’ve got this,” Norm lifted up the gun he was carrying. “And believe me you are going
to need all the help you can.”
“But what part will you play in the battle?” Tsu’tey pointed out. “You are not a ikran makto. You do not even know how to ride a pa’li.” Even at this stage those two mounts were key to their battle plan.
“I still want to fight,” Norm muttered frustrated that Tsu’tey was telling the truth.
“Then come” Tsu’tey said, hauling Norm away.
“Where are we going?” Norm asked.
“If you want to fight I might as well give you enough training to be useful,” Tsu’tey explained.
The Omatikaya had lost many of their pa’li during the destruction of Hometree and the ones that had survived where the most difficult to ride. However so many clans had thought their own that it didn’t take Tsu’tey long to secure an easy mount to train with. “So that is one of those dreamwalkers I’ve heard about” the handler commented about Norm in the distance as Tsu’tey took the pa’li.
“What you expected?” Tsu’tey asked.
The handler sniffed “No. Was the Toruk Makto like that before he came to you?”
“He was a warrior even before before he turned up. This one is a thinker with seeing,” Tsu’tey replied, trying to explain the unfamiliar concept of a scientist.
“Well you’ve got quite as tak on your hands training him,” the handler laughed returning to his herd.
“I’m not training him,” Tsu’tey protested to his retreating back.
Norm approached the pa’li cautiously, nervous at its size. “She won’t bite,” Tsu’tey reassured holding her harness. Norm remained unconvicted. “Touch her” he suggested, feeling like he really was teaching a baby. Norm reached out to touch the pa’li’s head but flitched back when her tongue tried to lick his outstretched fingers. “What’s the matter, you’ve never handled an animal before?” Tsu’tey questioned.
“Sorry,” Norm explained trying again. “It’s just I’ve not good with animals. Never been been this close to an animal bigger than me outside of a zoo before.”
“What’s a zoo?” Tsu’tey asked as Norm finally laid a hand on the pa’li.
“A place of protection where animal are kept,” Norm explained. Why would animals need protection? Tsu’tey thought before remembering how the sky people acted against everything.
“Good now that you have gained her trust you must mount her,” Tsu’tey ordered. Norm made to climb onto the pa’li but struggled, failing to get onto the back the first two times. Frustrated at how long this was taking Tsu’tey gave him a push to get him onto to the back. “You need to get stronger,” was all he said.
“Probably do,” Norm admitted struggling to get stable.
“Now you bond with her.” Norm readied his queue which was in a terrible condition and grasped one of the pa’li’s neural whips. He paused for a second.
“What the bond like? Jake never gave a good description.”
“Unique,” Tsu’tey replied. Surely even a dreamwalker had experienced tsaheylu before. With a second pause Norm let his queue bond with the pa’li.
The pa’li suddenly reared up, screeching in alarm. Norm went over backwards hitting the ground hard. Tsu’tey fought to keep the animal from trampling Norm. “What did you do?” Tsu’tey asked at the abnormal reaction.
“Sorry. I just never experienced such a feeling before,” Norm said picking himself up. “I panicked.”
“No, you did not just panic. You allowed your thoughts to pass through the bond. Your confusion affected her as well,” Tsu’tey scolded.
“I could almost feel her extra feet” Norm muttered.
“Let us try again,” Tsu’tey said once the pa’li was sufficiently calmed. “This time make the bond slowly. Keep your mind clear.” Norm gingerly climbed on again and made the bond. This time the pa’li did not startle, instead Norm simply basked in the experience.
“This is incredible. Jake doesn’t do it justice,” Norm commented as he felt every part of the pa’li moving beneath him.
“Do not get lost in the bond. You must keep focus,” Tsu’tey cautioned. Norm tried to look serious. “Now ride. Tell her where to move” he ordered.
Norm barely registered the idea and the pa’li cantered off. Unprepared Norm struggled to hold on for a few second before slipping off and hitting the earth again. Tsu’tey laughed as Norm struggled to his feet, the pa’li coming to a stop after a few more paces. “Well you did better than Jake?” Tsu’tey commented.
“How?” Norm asked pushing himself down.
“You avoided being covered in mud,” came Tsu’tey’s reply as Norm noticed the patch of wet soil just next to where he had fallen.
“Well it’s a bit hard to keep on. You know a saddle would make this easier” Norm pointed out, walking to the pa’li to try again.
“A saddle has to be earned. You must first fully master riding in its purest form,” Tsu’tey said, a saddle would only take away from the task of controlling the pa’li with the bond.
“Whatever, but when we go into battle I want a saddle,” Norm complained.
“Lets see if you learn to ride first,” Tsu’tey shot back. Despite three more falls Norm was eventually able to ride, or at least not fall off at a decent speed for half a kilometer which Tsu’tey considered enough for the coming battle.
“Do I really have to do this?” Norm asked the following morning as the group applied warpaint.
“It’s considered good luck. Anyway in the heat of battle someone might mistake you for a sky person in those clothes,” Tsu’tey commented as he worked on Norm’s face.
“Your sure you don’t want to go native Norm?” Jake commented gesturing at his loincloth. Neytiri hissed at him for disrupting her work on his back.
“Thanks but no” Norm refused blushing slightly. Good Tsu’tey thought, thats means I’ve got less work to do.
“Guys!” Trudy said pushing her head out of the flying machine. “I’ve just got the signal from Max. They’re coming!”
The Third Meeting
Pain. Pain was all that Tsu’tey could feel as he lay on the rock. He knew he was dying. He’d tried to board the giant white sky people machine to destroy their bombs. But one of them had shoot him and he had fallen so far. Somebody had found him and attempted to care for him but they were starting to fade away. “I see you brother,” said familiar face appearing in his vision, Jake.
“Are the people safe?” was all that he could muster.
“They’re safe,” Jake replied. That was something, at least his sacrifice had not been in vain.
“I cannot lead the people. You must lead them. Please Jake sully,” Tsu’tey said feeling the blood on his hands.
“I’m not officer material,” came the reply.
“It is decided,” Tsu’tey commanded. “Do the duty,” he continued grasping Jake’s hand, pulling it to unsheath his knife.
“I will not kill you,” Jake said appalled at what Tsu’tey was suggesting.
“It is the way,” Tsu’tey begged as the pain overwhelmed him. “Please,” was all he could say before the darkness claimed him.
Tsu’tey accepted death gracefully, waiting to become one with Eywa. Instead all he got was a cold nothingness. This isn’t right, Tsu’tey thought, something has gone wrong. He struggled, only to find that he didn’t have a body any more. Where was Eywa? Tsu’tey thought gripped by sudden terror. Had she abandoned him? Rejected his voice and his soul? All he could see now was a white light in a white void. No I refuse to accept this he thought, thrashing his body. I refuse this false existence. I will be with Eywa come what may. Wait, his body? He struggled again, feeling the dull sensation of limbs rubbing against something. He focused on the light again, did the space around it had a light green tinge to it?
Tsu’tey moaned as he returned to the world of the living. He breathed cold, unnatural, almost stale air as the light above he resolved into a sky people lamp with a green roof above it. He winced at the strong light as he looked around he was in a sky people building, for what purpose he didn’t know. There was one door that seemed to be his size on the left side of the room and a sky person sized one on the right. He tried to move his body but he was too weak but found he had been shackled to the alien bed he was on. Worse when he looked over his shoulder he saw a strange device pumping liquid straight into his arm. He instinctively made to pull the foreign object out.
“Don’t touch that!” Norm said bursting through the human sized door with an exo-mask on.
“Norm?” Tsu’tey asked.
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Norm said pulling Tsu’tey’s hand away. “I came as soon as I got the alert you were conscious.”
“Where am I?” Tsu’tey asked confused.
“You’re at Hell’s Gate. Don’t worry. The company’s pulled out. Just the science team and few others left,” Norm reassured.
“How am I still alive?” Tsu’tey continued.
“Jake carried you here and got the medical staff to patch you up in exchange for letting them leave,” Norm explained.
“Jake? Is Jake here?” Tsu’tey asked.
“No, he’s with the clan but I’m sure he wants to see you.”
“I would like that. Also why am I tied up?” Tsu’tey shook the restraint.
“Sorry about that. The medical staff won’t operate unless you were restrained. Didn’t want you crushing them,” Norm released the strap. “But now you need to rest. You are still very weak.” For once Tsu’tey took the advice of a sky person and soon fell back into unconsciousness.
When he awakened again he was greeted by more friendly faces in the form of Neytiri and Jake along with sky person Norm. “I see you!” Neytiri said hugging him.
“I see you too” Tsu’tey replied, reciprocating the gesture.
“How are you feeling my brother?” Jake asked. “I understand the medical staff did a number on you. A triumph of exo-medicine they called it.”
“Why did you not kill me?” Tsu’tey asked Jake.
“I’m not going to kill one of my own men. I’ve lost men before and I was not going to lose another” he replied shifting slightly as Tsu’tey cut to the case.
“But I was ready to die!” Tsu’tey protested, Norm backing away slightly. “A warrior’s death is better than this,” he continued gesturing at the medical equipment and the alien smelling room. Even his body stank of chemicals.
“No brother, one should not demand his own death,” Jake said flatly. “Give yourself time and I’m sure you will see that I was right.”
Neytiri took Tsu’tey’s hand as Jake and Norm gave them some space. “How is the clan?” Tsu’tey asked.
“We lost many warriors. But we will rebuild. Scouts have already found several sites for a new home,” she answered.
“That is good. The people will grow strong again,” Tsu’tey bit his lip.
“I did not agree with Jake as the time” Neytiri continued addressing the unspoken question. “But I am thankful that you are alive. We have lost so much already.”
“About you and Jake....” Tsu’tey started and then stopped.
“I loved you Tsu’tey,” Neytiri admitted. “But I love Jake more.”
“I am with child,” Neytiri said before he had finished.
“I am…. glad for you,” Tsu’tey said though both could sense the sorrow.
“Thank you. Recover well Tsu’tey. While Jake is our Olo'eyktan, there are those that will rejoice at your return,” Neytiri wished him as Jake returned.
“I’m not such a bad Olo'eyktan am I?” Jake asked them.
“One with a lot to learn. But you’ve done well so far,” Neytiri reassured him. But you are still a dreamwalker, and some will never forget that Tsu’tey thought but kept quiet. They talked for a while longer before Jake and Neytiri needed to return to the clan.
“We’ll come again in a few days. Just ask them to call us,” Jake said as he and Neytiri leaving the room.
“Norm, I want to get out of here,” Tsu’tey said as Norm made to leave as well. “This place is too unnatural. No offense.”
“I suppose we could move you to the Avatar compound, but I’d have to check with the doctors first,” Norm said.
“Is it outside the fence?” Tsu’tey asked references the massive metal fence he knew surrounded the sky person base.
“No but it’s close to the jungle,” Norm said slipping out of the room.
“Norm?” Tsu’tey asked to the empty room after he had been left alone for a few minutes. He glanced at the glass window that had been turned into a mirror. “Damn sky people,” he muttered as he silenced to the alien electronic hum and mechanical clunks.
“Ok I’ve talked the medics around. You can sleep in the compound tonight. You’ll have to keep the drip for the time being though,” Norm in his avatar body said coming through the airlock that lead to the outside.
“You are wounded?” Tsu’tey noticed the bandages over Norm’s shoulder.
“Yeah they had to pluck a few bullets out of me as well,” he explained.
“So you too let blood in the battle. How did you perform?” Tsu’tey asked as Norm got him onto his feet. His joints were stiff and the wounds still hurt but he suppressed the pain.
“Alright I fell off the pa’li during the first charge,” Norm admitted.
“Hah! So you are still not a true rider yet!” Tsu’tey laughed as they walked out into the sunlight.
The compound was a disappointment to Tsu’tey even when they did not destroy nature the sky people attempted to control it. Forcing plants to grow in rigid rows. “It’s called farming, it just isn’t efficient to forage for it. Especially for the human plants,” Norm explained.
“What are those for? Artificial trees?” Tsu’tey pointed at the wooden constructions spread around the compound.
“Oh those are for exercise and physical training,” Norm answered.
“Why not train in the jungle?” Tsu’tey asked. If they wanted to train to live like the people they should try to live like the people.
“They won’t let us. Too risky,” Norm said. He’d seen how the team had freaked out when Jake had been lost.
“Then you will never see,” Tsu’tey said.
“Well hello there!” A female avatar approached them from one of the buildings. “First time actually meeting one of you.”
“Hello,” Tsu’tey replied somewhat curtly.
“Hi Sarah. I thought you were checking the perimeter fence?” Norm asked.
“I just popped back for some tools. Anyway, I wanted to meet our visitor,” Sarah explained.
“Well you better get on that,”Norm said somewhat annoyed.
“I’m just going” Sarah said. “I’m sure we can talk later” she added to Tsu’tey.
“A good botanist if a little bit too interested in the Na’vi,” Norm commented as she disappeared. “You’ll probably meet the others over the next few days.”
“What are they planning to do?” Tsu’tey asked.
“Most want to keep on with their research. Other want to actually start learning about the Na’vi and not just listening to Jake’s logs,” Norm said.
“And Jake is ok with this?” Tsu’tey asked.
“Jake is but he’s having trouble convincing the others. We also want to patch up relations with the other clans. I understand they had made great progress with the Tipani before everything went to hell,” Norm replied. He went on to explain that the avatar team hadn’t been passive turning the war. Max and them had developed a plan to take over the base while most of the soldiers were in the battle. Only to find Quaritch had been too smart for them and had already cut the power to the avatar lab, stopping their plan cold.
A sudden burst of gunfire snapped Tsu’tey to attention. “What is that?” he asked
looking for cover. Could some of these sky people have betrayed them?
“Easy there, it’s just the perimeter defences,” Norm explained pointing to one of the gun towers spread out along the perimeter fence. “Hawkens refuses to return them off. Doesn’t want the base compromised any further.”
“I thought there would be no more of your destruction?” Tsu’tey pointed out.
“No offense but most of the people hear don’t have an avatar and certainly can’t survive in the jungle. There has to be a balance,” Norm said.
“There are other way,” Tsu’tey said.
Even the short journey left Tsu’tey feeling drained so he had to rest in the hut the other avatar were stored. The building wasn’t much better than the metal room, reminding him too much of the old school house and it still had the electronic whir of cameras and bug zappers but if he could focus he could just make out the sounds of the jungle. “Norm, when we first met you wanted to be trained like Jake. Why?” Tsu’tey commented as he struggled with the bed.
“Understanding the people was why I… well all of us came to Pandora,” Norm said.
“Well you will never learn to see here,” Tsu’tey waved around the hut. “Even when you try, you surround yourself with your sky people technology. It is clear that I must show you.”
“You mean train me?” Norm asked.
“Yes. And it will show Neytiri that I can train someone even less ready than Jake,” Tsu’tey boasted.
“Yes!” Norm fist pumped, ignoring the slight insult.
“Don’t make me regret this,” Tsu’tey commented. He felt that this was going to be a long journey.