Sunday, January 10, 2010

Avatar Aftermath: Mission Pandora

Avatar Aftermath: Mission Pandora


By Hazlan Zakaria

Intrinsically fan fiction, this story also rewrites the original, to portray the other side of the coin à la Eggar’s Wild Things. The narrator Marine Derek Plummer whom everyone assumes is the baddie is fighting for Earth, which will die off without Unobtanium. Plummer’s family is living in the crowded space stations hovering over Earth because it is now so polluted it has to be environmentally regenerated by Unobtanium. But the Avatars and the other creatures have no qualms about the impending fate of the billions like Plummer’s family back on Earth. Plummer has now to fight for the future survival of his family and of the Earth.

Ten hours to go before launch time and, as always, I am feeling my usual pre-op jitters. But this time it is not about nerves or worry over trivialities. This time the mission is bigger, much bigger than the usual UN peace keeping operations. To keep myself together, I try to busy myself with details, technical pre-op briefs and seeing to the men and women under my command, fussing over the equipment and armaments, the logistics tail of an interstellar military operation. I even don mechanic's overalls and tinker with my 'Henny', my AMP II Heinlein Class Titan-suit. It’s nice to have some physical exercise before the long sleep for the journey ahead.
     My 'Henny' is already stowed within the massive double hulls of the interstellar assault carrier UNSV Hera, joining other Titans of the United Nations Armed Forces (UNAF) 33rd Mobile Armor Battalion which forms the teeth and vanguard of the Pandora Expeditionary Force (PEF). The newest and deadliest design of the Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) technology, the Titan was specifically designed for hazardous duty in the unforgiving environs of that far off Alpha Centauri moon. Bigger, badder and more heavily armed and armoured than any military grade AMPs ever, it is the deadliest weapon in the United Nation's (UN) arsenal, a personification of the Mobile Infantry powered armour, envisioned by Robert A Heinlein for his 'Starship Troopers', earning it the nickname of 'Henny', short for Heinlein's Titan. There are scarcely a hundred of these deadly robotic behemoths, their construction nearly depleting Earth's remaining Unobtanium supply; or at the very least, pushing it to near critical levels.
     But the need is great and what is at stake is nothing short of the very survival of our species. Humanity itself is at stake, which is why the UN commissioned the PEF. Our mission is to retake Pandora.

Pandora. The moon of legend, the heart to humanity's survival and the birthplace for Earth's struggling recovery effort. The only source in the known universe of the miracle ore, Unobtanium. Which it was once. Now it is a hotbed of rebellion, seat of an uprising by feral natives and a collection of human traitors; humans who have forgotten their place and betrayed our species, who have 'gone native' and took up arms against humanity's cradle.
     It once took six years to travel to Pandora, but we shall get there faster. A new development in Quad-Dimensional Physics has seen the creation of Humanity's first hyper-dimensional drives, engines that use streams of quasi-dimensional antimatter particles to accelerate to nearly triple the speed of old interstellar engines. Instead of six, we will get to Pandora in one and a half years, or less. What a shock that’ll be to the rebels.
     But even one year doesn't seem fast enough. Earth and humanity may only last a decade at most, without new supplies of Unobtanium from Pandora. The gigantic orbital ark-freighters house Earth's surviving forests and the Noah Class zoological ships keep safe every species of fauna we have managed to save. In time they will cease to function. The massive atmosphere re-claimers will shut down and Earth's healing process will stop. There will be no more ice shipped from offworlds to refill once-blue oceans; no more explorations of other planets to find new homes for humanity as it waits for Earth to heal back. All of this for want of Unobtanium, and the selfish wants of feral natives and the ungrateful humans who aid them.
     It would usually also take six years for news from Pandora to reach Earth, whenever one of RDA's massive commercial vessels makes port. But the news of the rebellion in Pandora arrived only after two years. Desperate to convey the news of the uprising, the loyal survivors of RDA's mining operations on that far off moon sacrificed the fuel in their ship's fuel cells and used it to transmit a massive burst of coded sub-space signal to Earth to inform of the events on Pandora. That selfless action was done under emergency executive order by RDA Administrator Parker Selfridge, whilst the ISV Venture Star was en-route to Earth after being evicted from Pandora by the insurgents.
     Needless to say the interstellar ship did not survive the ordeal. Its fuel was depleted, the ship, its crew and passengers float lifeless in space - such sacrifice by humanity's heroes. They will never be forgotten. Neither would we forget those who betrayed the human race. We - the tooth and claws of the PEF - are the just and righteous wrath that shall avenge that betrayal.
     It took us two years to fast track the Titans and to organize the PEF. But now we are ready. A full third of the expeditionary force will be shuttled to Pandora within the cavernous interior of the UNSV Hera. Four smaller Pegasus assault landing crafts are piggy-backed to the Hera, the largest and most heavily armed combat transport designed for planetfall operations. These will be the workhorse of the PEF, while the Hera maintains orbital beach head and provide fire support and coordination.
     The UN Space Vessel (UNSV) Hera is the first in a new class of interstellar assault carriers, the latest in planetary assault technology and equipped with the necessary tools to retake the mining colony or deny Pandora to our enemies. Bristling with weapon mounts for guns and cannons, as well as armament pods for torpedoes, rockets and missiles, the Hera is capable of space-to-space as well as orbit-to-surface action; not to mention a full third of the PEF complement comprising of aerospace fighters, combat transports, gunships, Dragon II combat command crafts, assorted combat vehicles, ground pounding infantry in tactical armour and, not to forget, the 'Hennys'. In the coming years, sister ships to the Hera, the UNSV Mulan and UNSV Morrigu, will join Hera in the fleet that Earth is sending to reclaim humanity's chance at survival, along with more reinforcements for the PEF.

We will take Pandora back or die trying. We must do what we must, unlike those traitors - scientists who have lost their objectivity and gone head over heels for the natives - like that paraplegic ex-Marine who revels in his avatar's new found mobility. He’s one of the avatar drivers who now see through Pandoran eyes, forgetting the roots of their humanity. They remember not an Earth that lies dying, nor the Great Recovery effort that Unobtanium is fueling. We shall make them remember and make them pay for their treachery.
     If all else fails, the Hera, or one of its sister ships, will release the ultimate weapon: the experimental Quad-Dimension Physics orbital launched 'BlackHole' bomb. It has the power to punch a hole in reality itself, imploding it, to create a black hole that will destroy Pandora. If humanity is to be denied Unobtanium and hence its survival, then so shall Pandora and its insurgents be denied existence.
     Enough of these musings. I have things to do before I sleep, and millions of miles to go. The cryo-chamber awaits me.

© 2010 Hazlan Zakaria

Hazlan Zakaria is an aspiring author, starving poet and trainee journalist; a man and his keyboard, a keen mind, a bag full of strong opinions and an overly large vocabulary. He currently writes for an online news portal, has a passion for the written word, while pursuing his love of poetry, a hobby that is also a means of self expression - and prelude to world domination.

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