Sorry this took so long. I'll try to post two parts to make up for it.



    Logic



    By morning, I still hadn't slept, but I'd put the pad away completely. I'd kept thinking about Tommy all night, looking at my son and Ava and wondering if I was doing the right thing. I did want to know as much about Ava as I could, but knowing what I knew now was making me backtrack every decision I'd made after Tommy had died. Even if I didn't have any regrets, I'd only achieved opening up a whole new batch of questions without very many answers on the horizon, and I was already doubting that Norm could do more than study the information he'd found.

    Ava was awake with first light, and she found me as I sat on the front steps of the long-house by myself. I figured Norm would be another hour or so, and I had to keep myself busy so I wouldn't start reading Grace's logs again. It was easy to convince Ava to walk through the garden with me. While we were there, I tried to remember the Human names of the plants, and I taught her the Na'vi words for the same plants. I don't know how much of it she remembered, but I knew then that I would teach her more when we returned Home. She was a lot calmer on base than I expected her to be, and I knew that probably meant she'd been here before. It was probably familiar to her, and she was comfortable here. I hoped that didn't mean she wouldn't want to go back with me.

    Norm emerged from the airlock with his pack while I was walking around the garden with Ava. He smiled when he saw us, stretching his arms above his head.

    "How'd you sleep?" he asked.

    "I didn't," I informed him, and he frowned.

    "What happened?"

    I told him about Tommy, and he seemed just as distressed as I'd felt. It looked like Tommy hadn't even told Norm about this. But Norm didn't look worried. In fact, it looked like he came up with a plan standing there in front of me.

    "It's okay," he said. "We'll figure this out. Now that we know about the experiment, Max can check all the base records. He's gotten really good at cracking encryptions lately. It'll be okay, Jake."

    I must not have looked convinced, because he got kind of defensive.

    "What's wrong, Jake?" he asked. "I'm just trying to help."

    "I know," I said softly. "And I really appreciate it. Most everyone else around wouldn't even want to understand why I'm doing this. But if Tommy knew about this, and Grace was planning on letting him in on this when he got here, how do I know Ava wouldn't have ended up in the jungle if he'd come instead of me? How do I know I didn't cause what happened to her?"

    Norm stepped closer to me. "First," he said laying his hand over my shoulder. "We need to find out how this happened. Sure, we know Grace and Tom knew, but we still don't have any specifics. I told you this was going to take time. Let's not rush this, okay? Come on, let me show you something," he said gesturing back toward the compound.

    I turned to Thomas, but he was already making his way toward one of the obstacle course towers. I figured he'd be okay for a little while, and when I looked at Ava, she was already reaching for my arm to hold onto me. I lowered my hand to hers, looking at Norm and nodding for him to lead the way. He smiled again, turning to the compound.

    "So why are you out here now?" I asked. I smiled. "I thought you liked being in the lab."

    He glanced at me, seeing my smile and continuing toward the compound. "I do like being the lab. And Max is always telling me not to do too much, since I am still using my Human body. But I like it. Plus I can use the outside lab a lot, so it keeps everything fresh."

    I looked around, looking at him again. "Outside lab?" I repeated.

    He smiled again. "Come on," he said again. "I'll show you."

    With ten years passed since I'd been at the base, I figured I was going to see things a little different. But I'd never figured on an extra room being built onto the external wall of the compound that looked like it had been there a few years. It had everything the lab inside had, except it was under a screened cover and had no doors. Norm sat at one of the tables with a microscope on it, and Max appeared at the window in front of him.

    "Morning, Jake," he said with a smile.    

    I nodded.

    "Pull up the logs we found last night, Max," Norm requested. "We need to have a baseline for the timetable."

    "You got it."

    Norm started the playback with the log I'd looked at the night before where Grace had mentioned him and Tommy, but I hadn't realized that the very next one was from the same day. She even mentioned Ava's mother by name.

    "Amelia Shaw will be total seclusion from the rest of my staff," Grace informed the video log. "And not just so no one will know why she's here. Her body will have to be completely disease-free for the next eighteen months for her to participate in the experiment. Even the guys back home agreed she shouldn't have too much interaction with the rest of the base. So until I can get her set up in her own habitat, I've agreed to give her access to my video link."

    Grace stood up out of the video, and within a few seconds, the beautiful face of a young woman with penetrating blue-grey eyes and light-dark brown hair replaced her. I immediately knew this face. I'd been looking at it for the last day. I knew instantly this woman was Ava's mother. She obviously did too, seeing the face on the screen and reaching out to touch it. She even whispered.

    "Mama."

    While I was sitting next to Norm, I reached for her, pulling her to sit in front of me as the woman in the video began to speak.

    "I think I did this once before I got on the shuttle here," she said softly, a small grin tugging at the left corner of her mouth. "It feels like it was yesterday, but almost six years have passed. I was only 20 when I volunteered to do this. After what happened to my sister Ava, I wanted to do something for her that would make a difference in my life. So here I am. I'm still not sure why they picked me out of all the people they could have picked, but the man who called me told me it had something to do with my DNA. I tried to take that as a compliment. I think my sister would have been proud."

    In the background of the video, Grace appeared to be trying to mind her own business, but it didn't look like she was succeeding. I could see her glancing over her shoulder at Amelia. I silently wondered what had happened to her sister. Had she been like me? Taking her sister's spot. Was her sister dead, like Tommy had died before I'd come here? Her sister's name had been Ava. Avamelia.

    "You need your rest, Ms. Shaw," Grace called from the back of the room. "It's almost 1800 hours, and you need to eat something. We'll start another log tomorrow when we get you in the lab at 0600."

    Grace being all formal was a little strange to me. I could still remember her interrupting me during a lot of my own video logs.

    "Well, I guess that's all for right now," Amelia said, still grinning slightly. "Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll have a little bit more to say. All I know right now is that I'm doing this for Ava. Not just so she'd be proud of me, but because all she ever wanted was to be a mother. And that got taken away from her. I know it isn't the most logical way to go about it, but at least this way, I get to be a miracle of modern science. Plus it's beautiful here, and if everything goes right, I'll get to see some of it in a way most people could only dream of."

    She rose out of the video slowly, turning to Grace and allowing her to turn off the video. A new log came up, but I wasn't paying attention to it anymore. I was looking at Ava. She was crying, like she hadn't seen that face in a very long time. It was at that point that I realized how much like Thomas she really was. I honestly didn't need to know anymore than that, but as soon as Norm started playing the next log, I heard Grace's voice again.

    "Video log 12259. It's just after 0600 hours, and I think the only other people awake on base are a few of the mess hall people making breakfast. But if I'm going to keep this away from the rest of my staff, I guess I'm going to be working some strange hours," she sighed heavily rubbing her eyes and looking around a dim lab. "It's been documented that before she left Earth, Ms. Shaw was injected with the proper chemical compounds that will allow her to adapt to the Pandoran atmosphere. When I asked why everyone coming here couldn't have this injection, I was told to keep my nose out the company's business, which to me means it's probably too expensive for more than one person to have in a desirable period of time. It will also be documented that Ms. Shaw will be receiving hormone injections which should make it easier for her body to do what we're about to force it to do. Since this is Day One of the experiment, I'm going to start attaching information, baselines and results onto my logs. Don't get excited. I'm probably the only person capable of reading them."

    I watched Grace move away from the video link, stepping back to where a cart with a series of injectors had been laid out. I could see Amelia in the background, sitting in a chair that was slightly reclined. Another woman I didn't recognize was standing by Amelia, and when Grace injected the first fluid, Amelia closed her eyes, inhaling deeply and balling her fists. I couldn't tell if it was painful, but it looked uncomfortable to say the least. I was instantly thinking about the day I almost died.

    Waking up in a link that was currently filling with toxic air would be enough to kill anyone, but I was able to hold on long enough to get myself free. But I almost wasn't fast enough to get to the rebreather that was less than two meters away. Luckily for me, after I'd passed out, Neytiri had realized where I really was, and she'd saved me. Trying to suck in what little oxygen was in the air had felt like someone was shoving hot needles down my throat, but what Amelia was experiencing looked like someone was pinning her down and shoving bamboo splinters under her fingernails.

    "Max," Norm said suddenly, "we need to find this girl. Run her through the facial recognition software. Surely a camera had to pick her up somewhere."

    "I'm on it," Max called.

    "With any luck," Norm continued, "we can find her video logs too. No way would Grace have someone here and not make them log their time with her. Remember how she used to make you do yours right after getting out of your link."

    I chuckled. "Yeah, I still remember."

    It got quiet as the video log documented Grace and the other woman giving Amelia her injections, and Norm spoke softly after a few minutes.

    "I, uh, haven't really gotten a chance to ask," he said. "How are you?"

    I looked at him as I sat there with Ava in front of me. "What do you mean?"

    He bowed his head slightly, his eyes closed. "Jake, it's only been two days. I know you must be a wreck."

    Being reminded of Neytiri's death wasn't something I wanted to think about at that moment, but I was unable to stop the flood of memories that hit the front of my thoughts the minute he said it had only been two days. I realized then that I'd done it two days in a row. I'd actually made it two mornings without her. I knew how I'd done it this time. Having something to focus on was helping, but now that I was thinking about it, I wasn't sure if I could make it another minute.

    "Hey," Norm said, laying his hand over my shoulder. "I'm sorry. I know it's not easy for you. I didn't mean to bring it up. I just want to make sure you're okay."

    "Well, I'm not," I snapped, exhaling and closing my eyes.

    "Norm, the DNA mapping is done," Max called suddenly.

    "Send it out here," Norm requested.

    Within a few seconds, the screen was overtaken by a series of numbers and lines that didn't make any sense to me. But Norm got that look on his face like the one he'd had the night before when Max had told him about the experiment.

    "Oh, wow!" he exclaimed softly. He looked at me. "Are you looking at this?!"

    I nodded, but I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at. "Norm, can you help me out here?" I asked.    

    "When they started making the Avatars," Norm began, "they weren't using one Na'vi donor. They were actually using a composite of many Na'vi so that no one attribute would filter through. Na'vi don't actually have what we call DNA, so they had to make a composite of the genetic material to be able to combine it with the Human DNA of the donor."

    "What does that mean?" I asked softly, looking at Ava as she still watched the miniaturized log as it had shrunk to the lower left corner of the screen.

    "Your Avatar didn't just have one Na'vi donor and Tom's DNA. There were probably a dozen Na'vi donors. All the Avatars were made to be remote-controlled by Human Drivers. They had no consciousness or sentience. At least not until you. It's different for Ava."

    I looked at her again, discovering her looking at me. "How is it different?" I asked, still looking at her.

    "Ava really only has two donors. One Human and one Na'vi. Her mother was obviously Human, and her father was Na'vi. We might never be able to find him, but he's out there. He's probably one of the first Na'vi Grace encountered when they took samples back to Earth for the Avatars."

    I looked at Norm. "How much of Ava is Human?" I asked. "If she has a tail and a queue like I do."

    Norm shook his head. "We'd have to run scans on her to know for sure which parts of her are completely Human and which parts aren't. Obviously, her lungs have been enhanced to process the air, along with most of her internal organs. We also need to make a baseline for her age, but we'll probably find that out with the logs. It's all gonna be okay, Jake. We're gonna figure this out. I promise."

    I looked at Ava again, and I think that was when I decided to see this through. "Then we better get started," I told Norm.

    With that, Norm looked at Max, and inside the lab, they started getting everything ready for Ava.

    "Ma sempul!" Thomas came running over to where we were, a big smile across his face. "I did it! I climbed to the top and jumped down, and it didn't damage my bones! I'm as strong as you are now!"

    I smiled myself, patting him on the back. "That's great, Thomas," I urged. "How do you feel about doing the whole course while I step inside with Ava for a little while? We'll leave the door to the lab open if you want to come in after a while."

    Thomas stood up straight. "Is she okay?"

    My smile faded slightly, but I swore to him regardless. "She's gonna be fine. You go on. I never got to do it. You can do something your father never did."

    It seemed he liked the sound of that, and he turned to leave within a few seconds to begin his task. I looked at Norm, and he nodded for me and Ava to go inside. I kept an eye on Thomas as we all walked inside, and when I was sure he was okay, I followed Norm into the ambient room where Max was setting up a scanner.

    "Remember your first day in here?" Max asked smiling.

    "Yeah," I chuckled.

    "We're gonna set her up over here," Norm said moving to the bed on the other side of the room. "You can sit with her if you want."

    I helped Ava onto the bed, laying her back since I figured they would want to measure her from head to toe. She held onto my hand the whole time, watching me and then looking at Norm as he stood over her.

    "Just relax," he said softly, rubbing her forehead. "This is gonna be totally painless."

    She seemed to understand him, looking at me and nodding that it was okay for me to let go of her hand. After that, I knelt into the floor by her head, watching Norm pull out an electronic pad.

    He measured her from head to toe, smiling as the pad calculated softly. "Approximately two-point-one meters tall," he reported. He absently touched a button on the bed, and it beeped. "Almost 100 kg in weight. Muscle tone looks good. Her markings look real good too. She's got freckles the way we have spots! Amazing." Norm put the pad away, taking Ava's hand in his. "Five fingers, good size." He moved to her feet. "Five toes. She looks about a size 11."

    "The scanner's ready," Max said, moving around to Norm's side with the portable scanner.

    Norm took the scanner, smiling at Ava and hovering the scanner above her head. In about twenty seconds, he arrived at her feet, chuckling and pressing a few buttons before it beeped softly.

    "Wow," he whispered.

    "What is it?" I asked.

    "All her organs have been enhanced," Norm exclaimed softly. "Her lungs, her heart, even her brain. Her bones have been reinforced with the carbon fibers like yours. And her eyes! They're beautiful." He looked at me. "She can sit up now."

    I helped Ava sit up, allowing her to hold onto my hands as Norm pulled out another pad.

    "I'm gonna take some pictures," he said. "So we can map her markings."

    "Does she need to stand up?"

    Norm nodded. "She can."

    I pulled Ava to her feet, her back facing Norm as he spoke softly. "Can you pull her hair out of the way?"

    I started to, reaching around her neck for her hair that was touching her waist, and she met me halfway, pulling her hair over her shoulder and then lifting her eyes to mine. I was instantly reminded of the last time I'd looked at Neytiri when we hadn't been hunting. It must have been four or five days since then. It took Norm a couple of minutes, moving the pad over her arms and then her legs. Her tail whipped him in the head a few times, and I tried not to laugh.

    "Turn her around," Norm said.

    Slowly, I turned Ava to face Norm, pulling her hair back, and she looked at me for a few seconds before Norm spoke again.

    "Can you get her to look at me?"

    I pointed at Norm, and she looked at him. It took him another minute to finish, and he put that pad away, stepping closer to her and reaching out to touch her face.

    "You're very pretty, Ava," he said. She actually blushed. Norm looked at me. "Has she talked since you found her?"

    I nodded. "A little. I don't know how much she understands," I said looking at her. "It's one of the reasons why I want to know how long she's been in the forest."

    He smiled at Ava. "Well, we'll find out. I promise."

    "Norm," Max called. "I think we found her."

    Norm nodded at Max, moving to the window and helping with the transfer so he could pull up the information on a different screen. "Is this all of it?" Norm asked Max.

    "Yeah. Looks like she was on base about seven years. Wonder why she didn't rotate back to Earth after her tour was over."

    I didn't want to say anything, but I already knew the answer.

    Norm seemed to catch on, speaking as he glanced at me. "I don't think she was here on a regular tour," he said. "I think she came here without the intention of going back." He looked at Max. "Get all of her logs compiled. We've still got a lot of tests to run, but we don't have to keep them inside while we do that. Jake can look at the logs out in the long-house."

    "Give me a few minutes," Max said with a nod.

    I looked at Norm. "If Tommy knew about this," I said, "do you think any of this would have happened if he was here instead of me?"

    Even though I was sure Norm knew the answer, he tried to look indifferent. "I honestly don't know, Jake. Tom might not have been a Marine, or even an ex-Marine, but he was pretty strong-minded. A lot like you. We might never know if he would have allowed any of what happened to take place."

    "But Quaritch would have never approached him," I countered. "They wouldn't have tried to use him to infiltrate the People, and Grace wouldn't have been given another chance. More people would have died, and maybe Tommy then too. Why am I feeling like this?"

    Norm laid his hand over my shoulder. "You're thinking about a lot of things that can't be changed. It's not gonna help you or Ava to think about that right now. Let's just learn everything we can, and then we'll see about wondering what could have been. Okay?"

    I sighed softly, glancing at Ava and knowing Norm was right. Ava moved closer to me, and Max finished compiling the logs a minute before Norm led the way outside. Thomas was currently running between the columns in the obstacle course, and he smiled when he saw me, waving from the other end of the compound.

    I smiled at him, following Norm to the Long-House with Ava.

    "I'm gonna go back inside for right now," Norm said. "That way, I can take a closer look at Ava's blood work. And I'll let you get some rest. You really need to rest, Jake. Everything's gonna be okay. I promise."

    He gave me the pad as we arrived at the Long-House, and while he went back into the lab to work, I sat on the steps where I'd been only a few hours ago. I knew he was right. I did need to rest. But I couldn't relax. So I sat there trying to figure out what to do next.

    I didn't know if I wanted to look at Grace's logs or Amelia's, but watching Ava follow Thomas into the obstacle course made the decision for me. I pulled both sets up and picked the ones that looked like they belonged to Amelia, playing the first one as I returned to the inside of the Long-House. I sat on the bed I'd sat on the night before, settling against it as the log started.

    "This is technically only my second log," Amelia said as she sat in a dark lab with Grace and the other woman moving around behind her. "It's just before six, and I've been here for a day. Dr. Augustine was able to get me into my habitat last night after my hormone injections, but I didn't sleep. She said that was normal, for me to be restless. I can't get used to my surroundings fast enough. She said she's been in touch with a few of the new arrivals that won't be here for about six or seven years. I asked her if I could too, and she said no. But I'll ask her again later. It's weird being here after spending most of my life back home. I didn't have to go through a lot of the more rigorous training that most of the other people here did. I guess because I'm not like most of the other people here." She sighed softly, glancing around like she was making sure no one could hear her, and then she looked at the video log again.

    "I think I had a dream about Ava last night. She was here with me, and we were running around outside. I know it's crazy, but I feel like she's here with me. If she was here, I think she'd like it. Dr. Augustine said I might be able to go outside today, but I'll still have to wear a mask. Either way, I'm actually looking forward to it. I'll finally have images to go with all the stories I've been told about this place. We'll have to finish my injections first, but hopefully before anyone else gets up."

    While she left the link on, I watched her resume her position from the previous log, sitting in a reclined chair while Grace and the other woman began giving her a series of injections. It looked like she didn't react as sharply this time as she had the day before, adjusting to the sensation and able to endure the remainder of her injections until they finished, and Grace turned off the link before the next one started.

    I must have sat there for hours, watching and listening to Amelia talk about everything that was going on around her. I figured there had to be hundreds of them with how long she'd been on base, and most of them were either early in the morning before her injections or late at night when she couldn't sleep. Three months worth of logs went by fast, and most of it sounded like she was adjusting every day. It didn't look like she was leading any revolutions by the end of her first three months, not at all like me. But it seemed like she fell in love with her surroundings just as much as I had, even though it looked like she got more disappointed every day. Apparently, the hormones were making her a little irritable.

    "This is my 100th video log, and it's just after two," she sighed, rubbing her eyes and looking like she hadn't slept in a week. "Grace is telling me they're getting ready for the first trial, but it'll be a couple of weeks before we'll know anything for sure. I think she can tell I'm getting a little miserable. She spends most of her days at her school, and I have to stay here unless she's with me. Lori has started giving me things to do around the lab during the day so no one will ask me any questions. I'm actually learning a lot about the Avatar program. It makes me wonder exactly what I'm doing here. Am I doing the right thing? It's been three months, and I feel useless. I think Grace is getting worried about me. It's too late for me to go back. The shuttle left a couple of days ago to pick up the next shipment of supplies and crew. The new recruits are going to be on the next arrival, and Grace is already getting me ready for the time I'm going to have to spend by myself in the habitat. Grace decided I need someone else to talk to, other than myself. I don't know who she plans on getting to talk to me, but she said it'd be tomorrow. It won't be a live link. Nothing here is because of the distance the transmissions have to travel, so I guess it'll be like having a pen pal. So to speak. Is that a video-log pal?"

    I smiled.

    "I've got to get some sleep. I guess you'll know who it is when I do. I'll be back at 0600 hours, I guess."

    She turned off the link, and I put the pad down, lifting my head to see it getting dark. I hadn't realized how late it was until I saw Norm coming out of the airlock after a day in the lab. I also noticed Thomas and Ava coming in from outside, and I decided to wait until later to look at more of her logs.

    "Jake," Norm said, stretching his arms above his head. "You are not gonna believe what we found out. Hey, did you sleep?"

    I didn't lie. "No."

    I could see he was disappointed, but he moved through the house to where I was still sitting.

    "Ma sempul," Thomas called. "We found food for you. I ran through the poles and obstacle course ten times!"

    I smiled at him, allowing him to sit next to me as Ava carried fruit in her hands. I took them from her, bowing my head.

    "Oel ngati kameie," I whispered.

    She tilted her head, and I knew she didn't understand me. But she would. I would teach her.

    "Jake, you won't believe this," Norm said sitting on my other side. "Max and me worked all day. We isolated all of Ava's markers. Her DNA is incredible! It's no wonder they picked her mother for this experiment. Her DNA combined almost perfectly with the Na'vi donor."

    I looked at him. "What does that mean?" I asked.

    "Ava's the perfect combination of Humans and Na'vi. The way her skin looks, her eyes and her hands and feet. Even her freckles! We still don't know what kinds of hormones they were giving her mother, but whatever they gave her, it aligned her body perfectly. Ava's one of a kind. There's no one in the Universe like her. Max is gonna keep looking for specific drugs in the database," Norm explained.

    "So what do we do until then?"

    "Once we know what her mother was given to encourage the pregnancy, we'll know how she was made," Norm said, looking at Ava with a smile. "We'll know if she actually carried her or if she was grown like we were. Do you still have your pad?"

    "Yeah."

    "Let me see it," he said, reaching for the pad I'd set on the table beside the bed. "I asked Max to upload some basic speech lessons for Ava. We can start testing her vocabulary and her comprehension skills. Unless you want to rest."

    I handed him the pad. "I'm not tired," I told him. "And plus, after what happened . . . last time, I'm kinda afraid to close my eyes again."

    Norm sighed. "Jake, I did scans yesterday. You're fine. There could be a million reasons why you zoned out yesterday. You're not Human anymore. Your mind was transferred from your Human body into this one," he pointed at my chest. "Your Human body was buried at the base of the Tree of Souls. There's no going back, man."

    "I know," I said bowing my head. "And I wouldn't go back even if I could. But finding her, it didn't happen by chance. I was led to her."

    "By who?" he asked, but I was pretty sure he already knew. Then he bowed his head. "Oh."

    I was convinced now. It was the only thing that made sense, especially after I'd spent ten years with Neytiri and watched her learn from Mo'at. Finding Ava had been the Will of Eywa. "I have to find out why," I told Norm. "Because no one has done what I did. I'm the one who passed through Her Eye and came back, and if She's trying to tell me something, I have to listen. If not for myself, then for Neytiri. If what I dreamed is any indication, then I don't think she's finished with me."

    Norm moved closer. "What did you dream?" he asked softly.

    I told him, since I could still remember it with disturbing clarity, and once he knew that, his smile faded completely. Once I combined the dream with the way I'd felt when I woke, I knew it wasn't good. I knew it wasn't possible, especially since my old body was buried in the ground hundreds of kilometers away. But this was still only just now making sense to me. The only logical thing I could understand was that I wasn't going to understand this for a very long time.


Okay, so, I'll post the next part either later tonight or tomorrow. Later.