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Аватар/ Avatar

THE SOUND OF DRUMS, from a great distance, growing louder.

FADE IN:

WE ARE FLYING through mist, a dimly glimpsed forest below.

VOICE (V.O.)
When I was lying there in the VA hospital, with a big hole blown through the middle of my life, I started having these dreams of flying.

We are very low over the forest now, gliding fast, the drums
BUILDING to a PEAK --

VOICE (V.O.)
Sooner or later though, you always have to wake up...
CUT TO:

EXT. CITY - NIGHT

A SCREECH OF BRAKES as a vehicle WIPES FRAME, revealing --

JAKE SULLY, a scarred and scruffy combat vet, sitting in a beat up carbon-fiber wheelchair. At 22, his eyes are hardened by the wisdom and wariness of one who has endured pain beyond his years.

Jake stares upward at the levels of the city. MAGLEV TRAINS WHOOSH overhead on elevated tracks, against a sky of garish advertizing.

JAKE (V.O.)
They can fix a spinal, if you've got the money. But not on vet benefits, not in this economy.

The traffic light changes and Jake pushes forward with the crowd, pumping the wheels of his chair. Most of the people wear FILTER MASKS to protect them from the toxic air. In a LONG LENS STACK it is a marching torrent of anonymous, isolated souls.

INT. JAKE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

The room is a tiny CUBICLE, prison cell meets 747 bathroom.
Narrow cot, wall-screen droning away in the B.G. --

PERKY NEWSCASTER
The Bengal tiger, extinct for over a century, is making a comeback. These cloned tiger cubs at the Beijing Zoo are...

2.

Jake laboriously pulls his pants off -- rocking to one side, pushing the fabric down past his hip, then rocking to the other, and so on.

His legs are white and atrophied. Utterly useless. But his arms are tattooed and powerfully muscled. A "Born Loser" tattoo prominent on his shoulder.

JAKE (V.O.)
I became a Marine for the hardship. To be hammered on the anvil of life. I told myself I could pass any test a man can pass.

Jake struggles with his pants a long time.
CUT TO:

INT. ROWDY BAR -- NIGHT

Not the kind of place you'd bring your mom.

We find Jake near the pool table, BALANCING his chair, front wheels off the ground, while holding a tequila shot on his forehead. ONLOOKERS, including some other disabled vets, CLAP and WHOOP.

Jake grabs the glass, SLAMS down the shot as they cheer.

A WALL-SIZED SCREEN filled with the World Cup game -- men RUNNING on antelope legs.

CU JAKE, watching what he can't have. Expression stony.

JAKE (V.O.)
Let's get it straight up front. I don't
want your pity. I know the world's a
cold-ass bitch.

Jake's eyes shift -- HIS POV, seeing the bar through gaps in the crowd. A MAN on a barstool SLAPS the WOMAN he's with. Hard. She cowers but he's got her arm, shouting, raising his fist. An eternal tableau. People look away.

CU JAKE -- not looking away.

JAKE (V.O.)
You want a fair deal, you're on the wrong planet. The strong prey on the weak.

TIGHT ON JAKE'S HAND as he starts pushing the wheel of his
chair.

TRACKING WITH HIM as he rolls forward.

3.

JAKE (V.O.)
It's just the way things are. And nobody does a damn thing.

Jake stops, unnoticed, next to the bullying man. He leans down and grabs one leg of the man's barstool -- and YANKS.

The chair flips. The guy goes down HARD and --

JAKE hurls himself from the wheelchair, toppling on the guy, getting a grip on him like a pit bull and PUNCHING the crap out of him, right there on the floor.

THE BOUNCER jumps in, trying to drag him off and it goes into SLOW MOTION, everybody yelling and pulling...

JAKE (V.O.)
All I ever wanted in my sorry-ass life was a single thing worth fighting for.
CUT TO:

EXT. ALLEY BEHIND BAR -- NIGHT

THE BOUNCER hurls Jake out the door, sending him SPRAWLING on the pavement. A moment later, his chair CRASHES down on him, banging across the alley, landing in the trash.

Jake struggles to rise on one elbow. He's bleeding and bruised, but still crazed and ready to fight.

JAKE
I hope you realize you've just lost a customer!

He collapses onto his back, panting.

JAKE
(to himself)
Candy ass bitch.

He stares upwards at the levels of the city. MAGTRAINS ROAR overhead. It starts to RAIN. He just lies there, blinking -- then shouts jauntily to no one in particular --

JAKE
If it ain't rainin' we ain't trainin'!

CAMERA PULLS BACK high and wide, as Jake lies spread-eagled amongst the trash, getting drenched.

TWO LONG SHADOWS enter FRAME, coming to rest across him.

4.

Jake sees two pairs of SHINY SHOES stop next to him. He squints up at --

TWO MEN. Matching suits. Their features unremarkable and blandly threatening in the way of FBI agents and auditors.

AGENT 1
Are you Jake Sully?

JAKE
Step off. You're ruinin' my good mood.

AGENT 2
It's about your brother.
CUT TO:

INT. MUNICIPAL CREMATORIUM - NIGHT

DOWN-ANGLE on a large rectangular cardboard box. HANDS ENTER FRAME, pulling open the top to reveal a DEAD MAN'S FACE. He looks EXACTLY like a clean-shaven version of Jake. His IDENTICAL TWIN -- TOMMY.

JAKE (V.O.)
The strong prey on the weak. A guy with a knife took all Tommy would ever be, for the paper in his wallet.

WIDER, showing Jake and the two agents in a high tech CREMATORIUM -- a row of stainless steel furnaces. Jake stares down at his own face.

JAKE
Jesus, Tommy.

JAKE (V.O.)
The Suits' concern was touching.

AGENT 1
Your brother represented a significant investment. We'd like to talk to you about taking over his contract.

The ATTENDANT closes the box and seals it with a tape dispenser, like it's a package for shipping. The cardboard coffin is rolled into the furnace.

JAKE (V.O.)
The egghead and the jarhead. Tommy was the scientist, not me. He was the one who wanted to get shot light years out into space to find the answers.

5.

PUSHING IN ON JAKE as he watches, bathed in orange light.

JAKE (V.O.)
Me -- I was just another dumb grunt gettin' sent someplace I was gonna regret.

INSIDE THE FURNACE the burners quickly eat away the cardboard; TOMMY'S FACE is, for a moment, wreathed in flame but not touched by it, as we -- DISSOLVE TO:

JAKE'S FACE, in icy darkness. CLOSE ON his eyes -- they OPEN suddenly, and he takes a sharp breath.

JAKE'S POV -- the inside of a metal coffin. A SERVO WHINE and we are moving, emerging into a large chamber --

INT. CRYO VAULT

JAKE'S POV -- A TECH in medical scrubs FLOATS WEIGHTLESSLY toward us. Wherever we are, we're not on Earth.

Jake squints as the lights flicker on, revealing --

WIDE SHOT -- the multi-tiered CRYO VAULT. Hundreds of CRYO- CAPSULES are opening like morgue drawers, as med techs pull themselves about in ZERO-G, tending to their patients.

JAKE
(a hoarse whisper)
Are we there?

MED TECH
We're there, Sunshine.

TIME CUT -- SCORES OF PEOPLE emerge from their cryo-capsules in ZERO-G. Pale spirits of the dead rising from rows of open coffins.

The MED TECH floats among them, using his announcement voice.

MED TECH
People, you have been in cryo for five years, nine months and twenty two days. You will be hungry, you will be weak. If you feel nausea, please use the sacks provided for your convenience. The staff thanks you in advance.

6.

FOLLOWING JAKE as he pushes away from his capsule, gliding to the LOCKERS across the aisle, his paralyzed legs not an impediment in weightlessness.
CUT TO:

EXT. SPACE

Against the cold infinity of stars glides an INTERSTELLAR SPACECRAFT -- ISV VENTURE STAR. As it moves past like an endless train, we realize this thing is ENORMOUS -- over half a mile long. PAN WITH IT 180 to REVEAL --

A GAS-GIANT PLANET called POLYPHEMUS, ringed with dozens of moons which cast beauty-mark shadows on its vast face.

The ISV diminishes away from us toward the largest MOON-- a blue and surprisingly Earth-like world called PANDORA. The ship dwindles to a speck against the BLUE MOON.
CUT TO:

EXT. PANDORA ORBIT

ISV Venture Star drifts above a spectacular vista -- the sapphire seas and unfamiliar continents of Pandora.

CLOSE ON ISV -- two massive "VALKYRIE" SHUTTLES are mated to a DOCKING NODE. One of them separates from the starship and moves away, its thrusters FIRING in short bursts.

As the shuttle moves away, descending toward Pandora, we hear the sound of DRUMS, building, louder and louder until we--
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - TWILIGHT

FLYING OVER A LANDSCAPE of massive cliffs and towering mesas carpeted in rainforest. Great scarves of cloud swirl around the mesa tops. A primeval landscape, vast and forbidding.

The trees are alien, the color too cyan. There are waterfalls, rivers, and distant flocks of WINGED CREATURES.

Suddenly the carpet of virgin rainforest gives way to --

AN OPEN-PIT MINE. A lifeless crater -- as if a giant cookie- cutter took a chunk out of the world. Down among the terraces are EXCAVATORS and TRUCKS the size of three story buildings.

And beyond the mine is the HUMAN COLONY --

7.

EXT. HELL'S GATE - TWILIGHT

HELL'S GATE is a cluster of squat concrete and steel structures surrounded by chain-link FENCE 10 meters high, topped with razor wire.

At the corners are towers with automated SENTRY GUNS swiveling on servo mounts.

Visible beyond the gun towers, the VALKYRIE SHUTTLE roars in across the treetops. VECTORING NOZZLES change angle, bringing the ship to a SLOW HOVER.
EXT. RAIN FOREST - TWILIGHT

Through a screen of jungle canopy, we see the VALKYRIE thunder overhead. Camera TILTS with it until leaves block the view.
A BLUE INHUMAN HAND reaches INTO SHOT, parting the foliage to reveal the shuttle hover-taxiing across the compound.

REVERSE -- ECU of two intense, cat-like golden EYES watching.

INT./EXT. SHUTTLE

The CREW CHIEF stomps down the aisle yelling --

CREW CHIEF
Exopacks on!

Passengers don their EXO-PACK breathing gear with practiced moves. Everybody except JAKE, who's turning his this way and that trying to figure out the straps.

CREW CHIEF
Remember people, you lose your mask you're unconscious in 20 seconds and you're dead in four minutes. Let's nobody be dead today, it looks bad on my report.

The crew chief stops by Jake long enough to bark --

CREW CHIEF
Exopack on, let's go!

BENEATH THE SHUTTLE air blasts outward for a hundred meter radius as it settles onto its landing gear.

INSIDE everybody is queued up in the aisles, with duffles ready. Rows of tense, expectant faces in breathing masks -- and we DIP DOWN to find Jake, wheelchair putting him at the level of everyone else's WAISTS.

8.

THE CARGO RAMP OPENS with a hydraulic whine.

CREW CHIEF
Go directly into the base! Do not stop!
Go straight inside!

HAND-HELD, running with the arriving colonists who double time down the ramp. They jog across the exposed apron toward a walkway covered in CHAINLINK which leads to the complex.

Inside the chain-link tunnel are a couple of SEC-OPS TROOPERS, CORPORAL LYLE WAINFLEET and PRIVATE FIKE. Sec-Ops is the colony's private security force. These guys are laid back, hardened, and haggard.

WAINFLEET
Look at all that new meat.

THEIR POV -- Jake rolls down the ramp.

FIKE
Check it out, man. Meals on wheels.

WAINFLEET
That is just wrong.

Jake, pumping his chair, looks around as --

A huge TRACTOR, taller than a house, ROARS past on muddy wheels. He notices something sticking in the tires -- ARROWS. The neolithic weapons are jarring amid all the advanced technology.

Beyond the tractor, two VTOL vehicles take off. Armored and heavily armed, they are AT-99 "SCORPION" GUNSHIPS.

MITSUBISHI MK-6 AMPSUITS -- human operated walking machines 4 meters tall -- patrol the perimeter. They are heavily armored, and armed with a huge rotary cannon called a GAU-90.

Beyond the outer fence stands a black wall of forest hundreds of feet high. A SENTRY GUN OPENS FIRE from a tower. TRACERS light up the twilight. A shadowy SHAPE SHRIEKS and drops off the fence. It is an armed camp in a state of siege.

WAINFLEET and Fike give Jake and his chair the hairy eyeball as he approaches.

JAKE
What're you two limpdicks starin' at?

As Jake rolls past, SOMETHING SWOOPS down behind him and --

9.

K-KRASH! SMASHES against the chain-link right next to his
head.

A vicious AERIAL PREDATOR a meter across gnashes glass fangs against the steel. It STABS at him through the chain link with a tail ending in a glistening stiletto. A STINGBAT.

WAINFLEET casually BLASTS IT with his PISTOL. It drops off the fence, tail still lashing.

WAINFLEET
Seen a lotta guys leave this place in a wheelchair. Never seen anybody show up
in one.

Jake stares at the gnashing fangs of the dying alien.

ON A WALKWAY of the OPS CENTER, seen from above, a UNIFORMED FIGURE grips the railing, watching Jake pump his chair through the tunnel below.

The hair is clipped short. The scalp is etched by long parallel SCARS where some Pandoran denizen's claws raked across it. The bare arms, below tightly rolled sleeves, seem hewn out of some hard tropical wood. Criss-crossed by scars.

The MAN raises his masked face to look at the sky. He eyes are an icy steel gray.

HIS POV -- the mighty POLYPHEMUS seems to fill the sky, beyond the clouds.

MAN (V.O.)
You are not in Kansas any more...
CUT TO:

INT. COMMISSARY - TWILIGHT

THE MAN from the balcony -- COLONEL MILES QUARITCH -- is the HEAD OF SECURITY for the Hell's Gate colony. A hundred new arrivals watch raptly as he paces like a panther across the front of the large cafeteria. He stops, stance wide.

Without his mask, we see that Quaritch's features are rugged and handsome, except for the SCAR, which runs from scalp to jaw down one side of his face. On one hip he carries a very large PISTOL.

QUARITCH
... You are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen. Respect that fact every second of every day.

10.

JAKE ROLLS IN, watching from the back.

COLONEL QUARITCH raises his hand and points out the window, toward the dark treeline.

QUARITCH
Out beyond that fence every living thing that crawls, flies or squats in the mud wants to kill you and eat your eyes for jujubees.

The room gets very quiet.

QUARITCH
We have an indigenous population of humanoids here called the Na'vi. They're fond of arrows dipped in a neurotoxin which can stop your heart in one minute. We operate -- we live -- at a constant threat condition yellow.

PAN ACROSS the solid faces of miners, Cat-machine drivers, engineers, geologists, as they take that in.

QUARITCH
As head of security, it's my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed -- (pausing for effect) -- not with all of you. If you wish to survive, you need a strong mental attitude, you need to follow procedure...

PUSH IN ON JAKE, watching as the briefing continues.

JAKE (V.O.)
Nothing like an old-school safety brief to put your mind at ease.
CUT TO:

INT. CORRIDOR

People are roaming in both directions, looking for rooms, lugging duffels and cases.

An eager young XENOANTHROPOLOGIST, staggering under an overpacked duffel, runs to catch up to Jake.

NORM
Hey, you're Jake right? Tom's brother? You look just like him. (off Jake's wary look) Sorry, I'm Norm Spellman, I went through avatar training with him.

11.

Norm offers his hand and Jake shakes it.

NORM
He was a great guy -- funny. It was a
big shock to all of us.

JAKE
Yeah.

Jake pumps the wheels of his chair, rolling on. Norm walks
with him.

NORM
And duh! -- obviously you look like him.
I mean, if you weren't genetically
identical, you wouldn't be taking over
his avatar.

JAKE
That's why I'm here.

NORM
So -- you want to go check it out?
CUT TO:

INT. BIO-LAB - DAY

JAKE AND NORM enter the BIO-LAB -- a large lab complex with
many adjoining rooms.

MAX
Me and Norm were out here to drive these
remotely controlled bodies called
avatars. They're grown from human DNA
mixed with DNA from the natives here.

A scientist, DOCTOR MAX CULLIMORE, is supervising the
uncrating of two SHIPPING CONTAINERS. The nearer has the
sides removed, revealing -- a ceiling-height acrylic TANK.

Norm stops to stare, and Jake rolls past him as if drawn by
some unseen force, toward --

THE AMNIO TANK. There is a FIGURE floating lanquidly inside,
which looks like a man. A very large, very blue, man.

Blood circulates through a synthetic UMBILICAL in the
abdomen. As the figure turns in the amniotic fluid, we see
that it has a lemur-like TAIL. The skin is cyan-blue. Long
black hair drifts, graceful as seaweed.

JAKE
Damn. They got big.

12.

NORM
Yeah, they mature on the trip out.
(to Max)
So the proprioceptive sims worked pretty
well.

MAX
Yeah, they've got great muscle tone. Give
us a few hours, you guys can take them
for a spin.

THE FIGURE'S sleeping face turns toward us, and the features
are -- despite feline ears and a long feral snout --
definitely JAKE'S.

JAKE
It looks like him.

NORM
No, it looks like you. This is your
avatar now, Jake.

ON JAKE, mesmerized as he stares into the tank.

JAKE (V.O.)
The idea is -- every driver is matched to
his own avatar --

STEREOCAM VIDEO SHOT OF JAKE -- facing the camera, talking
directly to the lens. JAKE'S VOICE-OVER up until now has
been part of this VIDEOLOG.

JAKE
-- so their nervous systems are in tune.
Or something. Which is why they offered
me this gig, because I can link with
Tommy's avatar, which was insanely
expensive.
(looking off camera)
Is this right? I just say whatever in
these videologs?

WIDER, showing Norm working nearby with Max.

NORM
Yeah. You just need to get in the habit
of documenting everything -- what you
see, what you feel -- it's all part of
the science. Good science starts with
good observation.

13.

JAKE
Right.
(to camera)
So, whatever. Here I am. Doing science.
(looks around)
Never been in a lab before.

MAX
Log off. It's time to meet your boss for
the next five years.

He leads Jake and Norm through the short corridor to the --
CUT TO:

INT. LINK ROOM - DUSK

The LINK ROOM contains a dozen PSIONIC LINK UNITS, which look
like coffins crossed with MRI scanners.

NORM
Grace Augustine is a legend. She's the
head of the Avatar Program, and she wrote
the book -- I mean literally wrote the
book -- on Pandoran botany.

MAX
(low, over his shoulder)
That's because she likes plants better
than people.

DR. GRACE AUGUSTINE sits up in her link, stretching and
cracking her neck after a long session. She's fifty, with a
strong face and fiercely intelligent eyes.

GRACE
(YELLING)
Who's got my goddamn cigarette?!

A TECH scurries to bring it to her, already lit. Around here
they jump when Grace barks.

Grace stands, scowling, as Jake, Norm and Max approach.

MAX
And here she is, Cinderella back from the
ball. Grace, I'd like you to meet Norm
Spellman and Ja --

GRACE
Norm. I hear good things about you.
How's your Na'vi?

14.

NORM
(Na'vi, subtitled)
May the All Mother smile upon our first
meeting.

Grace nods approvingly, taking a drag on her cigarette.

GRACE
(SUBTITLED)
Not bad. You sound a little formal.

NORM
(SUBTITLED)
There is still much to learn.

Jake waits while they ignore him, chattering in fluent Na'vi.

MAX
Uh, Grace, this is Jake S----

GRACE
(turning to Jake)
Yeah, yeah, I know who you are, and I
don't need you. I need your brother.
(to Max)
You know -- the PhD who trained three
years for this mission.

JAKE
He's dead. I know it's a big
inconvenience to everyone.

GRACE
How much lab training have you had? Ever
run a gas chromatograph?

JAKE
No.

GRACE
Any actual lab work at all?

JAKE
High school chemistry. But I ditched.

Grace wheels on Max.

GRACE
You see? You see? They're pissing on us
without even the courtesy of calling it
rain.
(turning away)
I'm going to Selfridge.

15.

She shoves past Jake.

MAX
Grace, that's not a good idea.

But she's already out the door and clomping down the
corridor. Max turns to Jake with a pained look.

MAX
Here, tomorrow, oh eight hundred. Try to
use big words.
CUT TO:

INT. OPS CENTER - DUSK

It looks like an air-traffic control tower, with lots of
screens and bay windows showing the whole complex.

ADMINISTRATOR PARKER SELFRIDGE takes a ball from a newly
opened case of TITLEISTS and sets it on the floor. Selfridge
is young, charismatic, focused. Some would say ruthless.

He assumes the stance and lines up his putt, toward a
practice cup across the control room floor. He glances up as
Grace strides toward him.

GRACE
Parker, I used to think it was benign
neglect, but now I see you're
intentionally screwing us.

SELFRIDGE
Grace. You know I enjoy our little
talks.

GRACE
I need a research assistant, not some
jarhead dropout.

Selfridge looks down and hits the ball.

Grace kicks the practice cup aside, and the ball rolls past.
Selfridge looks at her with a sigh.

SELFRIDGE
Actually, we got lucky with him.

GRACE
Lucky? How is this in any way lucky?

As Selfridge saunters over to retrieve the ball --

16.

SELFRIDGE
Well -- lucky your guy had a twin
brother, and lucky the brother wasn't an
oral hygienist or something. A Marine we
can use. I'm assigning him to your team
as security escort.

GRACE
The last thing I need is another trigger
happy asshole out there!

SELFRIDGE
Look, you're supposed to be winning the
hearts and minds of the natives. Isn't
that the whole point of your little
puppet show? If you look like them, if
you talk like them, they'll trust you?

Selfridge crosses to his office, behind a glass wall nearby.
Grace follows.

SELFRIDGE
But after -- how many years? -- relations
with the indigenous are only getting
worse.

GRACE
That tends to happen when you use machine
guns on them.

On Selfridge's desk is a magnetic base, and hovering in mid-
air, in the invisible field, is a lump of METALLIC ROCK.
Pure UNOBTANIUM. He grabs it and holds it up between thumb
and forefinger, in front of Grace's eyes.

SELFRIDGE
This is why we're here. Unobtanium.
Because this little gray rock sells for
twenty million a kilo. No other reason.
This is what pays for the party. And
it's what pays for your science.
Comprendo?

He places it back in the magnetic field.

SELFRIDGE
Those savages are threatening our whole
operation. We're on the brink of war and
you're supposed to be finding a
diplomatic solution. So use what you've
got and get me some results.
CUT TO:

17.

INT. LINK ROOM - DAY

NEXT MORNING, GRACE, NORM and JAKE approach their link units.

Jake glances through a PRESSURE WINDOW. In an adjoining
chamber (the AMBIENT ROOM) JAKE'S AVATAR lies on a gurney,
breathing slowly in PANDORAN AIR. NORM'S AVATAR is on a
second gurney. Both are attended by med techs in exo-masks.

Norm slips into his LINK CHAIR, expertly donning biometric
sensors.

GRACE
How much link time have you logged?

NORM
Five hundred and twenty hours.

Grace looks pointedly at Jake.

JAKE
Like -- an hour.

GRACE
Tell me you're joking.

Grace opens the hood of Jake's link unit. Jake starts
hauling himself across from his wheelchair. She reaches to
help him but --

JAKE
Don't! I got this.

Grace steps back, hands raised. He drags himself into the
unit.

GRACE
So you just figured you'd come out here
to the most hostile environment known to
man, with no training of any kind, and
see how it went? What was going through
your head?

He meets her eyes with a defiant glare.

JAKE
Maybe I was just tired of doctors telling
me what I couldn't do.

Grace watches him laboriously pull his inert legs into the
link chair by hand.

18.

Jake settles into the warm fluid gel packs lining the unit.
It seems to enfold him. Grace adjusts his biometric sensors,
then lowers the UPPER CLAMSHELL --

GRACE
Relax and let your mind go blank. That
shouldn't be hard for you.

JAKE
Kiss the darkest part of my lily white --

But the SLAMMING HOOD muffles the rest.

MAX
Initiate link.

The LINK TECH touches some controls.

ON A LARGE MONITOR a 3D SCAN of Jake's brain appears.
Regions of activity flow with complex shifting colors.

MAX
That's a gorgeous brain. Nice activity.

GRACE
Go figure.
(walking away)
Alright, I'm going in.

TECH
Phase-lock at forty percent. He's in
transition.

Max watches a display showing the avatar's nervous system
aligning with Jake's -- two ghostly networks of light
merging.

MAX
That's it. Find your way home.

ECU JAKE, inside the link unit. His eyes move under the
lids, like a dreamer in REM sleep as --

INSIDE JAKE'S MIND -- radiant streamers coalesce into a
pulsing TUNNEL OF LIGHT and --

THE SCREEN FLARES WHITE -- ZZZWHAP! -- resolving into an
overexposed, out-of-focus image -- two BLURRY FACES wearing
masks, looking down.

ECU JAKE'S AVATAR -- two very intense eyes FILL FRAME, the
pupils contracting. Golden irises pulse with life.

19.

MAX
He's in.

TECH
Phase-lock ninety nine percent. The link
is stable.

Blinking, Jake slowly sits up on the gurney. He looks down
at his AVATAR BODY, touching his chest with one hand.

MAX
Take it slow, Jake. We need to check
your motor control. Try touching your
fingertips together --

But Jake isn't listening. He's staring at his legs. He
eases them off the gurney and --

HIS BLUE FEET touch the concrete floor, taking his weight.

JAKE STANDS, feeling the strength in his legs. His
expression is child-like with wonder.

HIS POV -- looking down at the med techs, who seem the size
of children next to his 9' tall frame.

He sees something like a blue tentacle curl across his arm
and he JERKS AROUND in alarm. HIS TAIL.

As he turns to see it, the tail sweeps instruments off a
table with a crash. Jake laughs and grins at Max.

MED TECH
Easy, Jake, I need you to sit down --

But Jake takes a step, then another. The wires to the bio-
monitors pull taut, and he yanks them off his chest.

MAX
Jake! Wait, we have to run some tests --

But Jake pushes past the protesting med techs, toward the
door and --

EXT. AVATAR COMPOUND - DAY

Jake emerges, blinking in the morning sun. He finds himself
in the AVATAR COMPOUND -- a living and training area.

Nearby, a couple of AVATARS are playing one-on-one in front
of a (non-regulation height) basketball net. Others go about
their daily activities around the compound.

20.

Jake flexes his legs -- JUMPS -- and lands a little
unsteadily, but his expression is joyful.

He takes a few steps and breaks into a RUN. People are
calling to him, somehwere, but he doesn't hear them -- he's
running. RUNNING!

He finds himself in the COMPOUND GARDEN, and stops amid
neatly tended rows of ALIEN PLANTS. He looks down, wiggling
his toes in the warm soil. Then inhales deeply -- revelling
in the alien smells -- earth, plants, the nearby forest. He
looks at his bare footprint in the soil of an alien world.

GRACE (O.S.)
Hey Marine!

Jake turns at the familiar voice to see --

A statuesque FEMALE AVATAR walking toward him. AVATAR GRACE
is magnificent, with panther thighs, flat muscular stomach
and firm athlete's breasts. She wears shorts and a T-shirt.
In human years she would be about 35.

JAKE
Grace?

GRACE
Well who'd you expect, numbnuts? Think
fast!

She throws him a piece of Pandoran fruit, which he catches.

GRACE
Motor control is looking good.

Jake bites into the fruit, the juice running down his chin.

NORM (O.S.)
Hey, check it out.

Jake turns to see NORM'S AVATAR posing like a bodybuilder --
chest shot, back shot, bi's.

NORM
I am a living god.
CUT TO:

EXT. MINE PIT - DAY

A WIDE SHOT of the terraced crater of the UNOBTANIUM MINE. A
quiet beat, then --

21.

K-WHOOOOM! The entire face of one terrace is blown skyward
in a chain of EXPLOSIONS. The "shot" blasts hundreds of tons
of rock loose.

LONG LENS ANGLES of enormous WHEEL-LOADERS shovelling up ore-
rich rock and dropping it into DUMP TRUCKS.

EXT. RAINFOREST - DAY

A wall of steel FILLS FRAME. The DOZER BLADE crushes
everything in its path, reducing trees to kindling.

WIDER, showing the CLEAR-CUTTING operation near the mine, as
a road is cut through the jungle. Remotely operated DOZERS
three stories tall rip into the tree-line.

One of the dozers has rotating SLASH-CUTTER, a vicious
spinning head, mounted on a hydraulic arm, that hogs through
the enormous tree trunks in a spray of wood-shrapnel.

The heavy machines are escorted by AMPSUITS. COLONEL
QUARITCH, on foot, leads a squad of troopers wearing
breathing masks and carrying almighty big AUTOMATIC WEAPONS.

A BANSHEE -- a fearsome aerial predator -- HURTLES from
above, diving toward them on wings 3 meters across. We get a
glimpse of glassy fangs before --

P-P-POOM! Quaritch cranks off three rapid SHOTS with his
massive sidearm, and the creature drops with a SHRIEK.

It crashes near them and Quaritch FIRES two more well placed
rounds. The newbies stare at the thing's barracuda teeth.

QUARITCH
For you pogues, this is a banshee. A
small one. See, they like it when I
bring fresh meat out here. And this
clearcutting really stirs up the hornet's
nest. So keep your head on a swivel. If
it moves, shoot it. If you're not sure
it's moving -- shoot it! If it looks like
a bunch of flowers you want to take home
to Sally Rottencrotch -- SHOOT IT!
What're you gonna do?

TROOPERS
Shoot it, sir!

QUARITCH
Outstanding. Let's roll.

22.

Quaritch leads his squad into the gloom of the forest, his
eyes scanning. Flanking the squad, LYLE WAINFLEET drives an
AMPSUIT, his massive feet CRASHING through the underbrush.

As his gaze comes down, he sees something ahead of him on the
trail -- an intricate TOTEM of woven sticks, bones and
feathers hanging across the trail like an orb-weaver's web.

He tears it down with the barrel of his rifle, and stomps it
into the mud as he moves on.

INT. AVATAR LONGHOUSE - DUSK

Jake sits on a wooden bed in a long hut of tropical-style
construction -- beamed ceiling, open sides covered by screen.

Around him the other avatars are bedding down for the night,
pulling insect netting around their cots. In one hand, Jake
holds the end of his long braided QUEUE of hair.

CLOSE ON the queue -- the ends of the hair writhe slowly with
their own life, like tendrils of a sea creature.

JAKE
That's kinda freaky.

GRACE switches off the overheads.

GRACE
Lights out amigos. See ya' at dinner.

Jake sits in the twilight, listening to the SCREECHES and
HOOTS from the forest. Finally he lies down, CLOSING HIS
EYES and --

INT. LINK ROOM - NIGHT

ECU HUMAN JAKE -- his eyes OPEN.

Jake blinks, disoriented, as Max opens the upper clamshell of
his link unit.

In the next chair Grace sits up, yawning and cracking her
neck as the scared tech runs to her with a lit cigarette.

GRACE
(looking down)
Damn. Same old sack a' bones.

JAKE struggles with the dead weight of his legs as he hauls
himself out of the unit.
CUT TO

23.

INT. COMMISSARY - EARLY MORNING

JAKE sits with GRACE, NORM and the other avatar "drivers",
while around them miners, troopers and other base personnel
wolf their breakfasts. Grace is engaged in a heated
conversation with another SCIENTIST.

Jake, isolated from the conversations around him, notices --

PILOT TRUDY CHACON approaching, dressed in her flight suit.
She's a rock-hard former Marine with thousands of flight
hours out in the badlands.

TRUDY
Sully -- Colonel wants to see you in the
Armor Bay.

Jake gives Norm a puzzled glance and pivots from the table.
He wheels away, led by Trudy.

TIGHT ON GRACE, scowling as she watches him go.
CUT TO:

INT. ARMOR BAY - MORNING

JAKE AND TRUDY enter the ARMOR BAY, passing TILT-ROTORS under
repair. There are the heavily armed SCORPIONS as well as
several SA-2 SAMSON work-horses outfitted with door guns and
rocket pods.

JAKE
You guys're packing some heavy ordinance.

TRUDY
Yeah, `cause we're not the only thing
flyin' around out there. Or the biggest.
I'm gonna need you on a door gun, I'm a
man short.

JAKE
Yeah, no problem.

She extends her fist and he taps it with his.

TRUDY
See ya on the flight-line, zero nine.
(she points)
He's down there.

Jake rolls his chair along the central gallery of the Armor
Bay, passing rows of AMPSUITS standing in service racks.
Techs clamber over the `suits, loading ordinance with cranes
and lifts.

24.

At the end of the row is a makeshift GYM area. QUARITCH is
bench-pressing massive plates.

QUARITCH
This low gravity makes you soft.
(pushing the last rep)
You get soft, Pandora will shit you out
dead with zero warning.

Quaritch racks the bar and sits up, sweating but not winded.

QUARITCH
I pulled your record, Corporal. Venezuela
-- that was some mean bush. Nothing like
this here, though. You got heart kid,
coming out here.

JAKE
I figured -- just another hellhole.

Quaritch chuckles appreciatively, claps him on the shoulder.
The CHIEF MECHANIC yells from the nearest AMPSUIT --

MECHANIC
That servo's in, Colonel, if you want to
try it.

Quaritch crosses to the `suit, with Jake following.

QUARITCH
I was in First Recon a few years ahead of
you. More than a few. Two tours in
Nigeria, not a scratch. I come out here
and --

He points to his scarred face.

QUARITCH
They could fix this if I rotated back.
But you know what? I kinda like it.
Reminds me every day what's out there.
Besides, I can't leave --

He looks out, as if he can see through the wall to the tree-
line.

QUARITCH
This is my war, here.

Quaritch climbs the `suit and reaches into the cockpit,
throwing some switches. The `suit's gas-turbine spools up
with a rising WHINE.

25.

QUARITCH
The avatar program is a joke -- buncha
limpdick scientists. But we have a
unique opportunity here, you and I. A
recon Marine in an avatar body could get
me the intel I need, on the ground, right
in the hostiles' camp.

The WHINE is now a roaring WHOOSH as the `suit trembles with
power. The air boils above the exhaust vents.

Quaritch reaches in and operates the controls, flexing one
huge hand. He nods to the waiting mechanic --

QUARITCH
Looks good.
(to Jake)
I need you to learn about these savages,
gain their trust. Find out how I can
force their cooperation, or hit `em hard
if they don't. Maybe you can keep some
of my boys from going home like you. Or
bagged-and-tagged.

JAKE
(NODDING)
That sounds real good, Colonel. So -- am
I still with Augustine?

QUARITCH
On paper. You walk like one of her
science pukes, you quack like one, but
you report to me. Can you do that for
me?

Jake nods. Quaritch brings the `suit to life. He steps
forward and pivots smoothly.

He balances the two ton machine on one foot while sweeping
the arms in strong, graceful arcs. Jake realizes he is doing
a WU-SHOO KATA. A flawless display of strength and control.
He's impressive, and Jake is impressed. Quaritch is the kind
of man he respects -- focused, hard. Determined.

QUARITCH
Look, son -- I take care of my own. Get
me what I need, I'll see you get your
legs back when you rotate home. Your real
legs.

He raises the `suit's hand, and slams the canopy shut like
the visor of a helmet. Jake watches Quaritch walk past, huge
feet CLANGING -- KUNG! KUNG! KUNG!

26.

INT. BIO LAB - DAY

GRACE is on the move, gulping coffee, in a hurry to get their
FIRST SORTIE started. She hands a clipboard to MAX.

GRACE
Start calibrating. We're on the flight
line in ten minutes.

Max nods and jogs ahead toward the LINK ROOM. JAKE and NORM
fall in with Grace as they enter the CONNECTING CORRIDOR.

GRACE
What did Atilla want?

JAKE
Just Marines comparin' tattoos.

GRACE
(not buying it)
Yeah. Well, listen to me, Marine --

She stops, turning to drill him with a look.

GRACE
-- you're driving an avatar, now. That
means you're in my world, got it?

JAKE
Got it.

She turns and enters the LINK ROOM.

INT. LINK ROOM

Grace crosses to the controls of Jake's LINK UNIT. As the
others catch up --

GRACE
That son of a bitch has screwed up this
program enough. All this --
(indicating link room)
-- exists so we can go out there and
build a bridge of trust to these people,
who could teach us so much. But thanks
to Quaritch and his thugs the Na'vi won't
even talk to us anymore.

JAKE
Then how's this supposed to work?

27.

GRACE
We have a new face.
(turning to Norm)
You're fluent, you've studied the
culture. You're non-threatening. The
ones we know best -- the Omaticaya clan --
may give you a chance. Maybe you can get
them back to the table before things go
tits-up for good.

NORM
This is failing as a pep talk.

Jake hauls himself across from wheelchair to link.

JAKE
How do we contact them?

GRACE
We don't. They contact us. If they see
us taking our samples, treating the
forest with respect --
(pointedly to Jake)
Not trampling everything in sight --
they may reach out to us.

JAKE
Or they may skin us and make a drum.

Jake lies back, lowering the sensor array over his body.

GRACE
Just keep your mouth shut and let Norm do
the talking.

She closes his clamshell, HARD, and we --
CUT TO:

EXT. RAIN FOREST / AERIAL - DAY

FLYING over a carpet of rainforest, past sheer cliffs and
cloud-wreathed mesas. TRUDY'S SAMSON TILT-ROTOR chases its
shadow across the treetops. Though big as a Blackhawk, it is
tiny in the vast primeval landscape.

ANGLE THROUGH the open side doors of the Samson. Trooper
WAINFLEET, in exo-mask and body armor, leans on his door gun,
scanning for aerial predators.

In avatar form JAKE, GRACE and NORM watch the forest
unrolling beneath them, the wind blasting their clothes.
Jake mans the other door gun, his feet propped on the skids.

28.

TRUDY flies from a pressurized cockpit. She banks to follow a
shallow river.

TRUDY (INTERCOM)
Sturmbeest herd, one o'clock.

Norm grins and points, excitedly. Jake looks in time to see--
A herd of STURMBEEST -- massive six-legged creatures
reminiscent of buffalo -- thundering across the river.

GRACE
Looks like a bull, six cows and some
juveniles.

NORM
The bull has the red on the dorsal armor?

Grace nods approvingly.

TIME CUT -- Hundreds of purple winged creatures take flight
from a lake, startled by the Samson. They skim the water
above their own reflections. TETRAPTERONS.

TIME CUT -- the ground drops away as the Samson flies over a
WATERFALL hundreds of feet high. Trudy banks hard, rolling
in on the gorge below like it's a gun-run.

Wainfleet WHOOPS while Norm looks like he's about to puke.

WAINFLEET
Yo Chacon! Get some!

Jake grins into the airstream.
CUT TO:

EXT. CLEARING - DAY

A small meadow among towering trees. The fern-like "grass"
is beaten down in waves by the rotor-wash as the Samson
settles to the ground.

Jake pulls the massive door gun off its pintle mount and
hefts it like an assault rifle.

He and Wainfleet leap out to secure the LZ, scanning the tree-
line warily, weapons aimed.

Grace jogs forward to the cockpit, motioning Trudy to shut
down. Trudy kills the Samson's TURBINES.

Grace, towering over Wainfleet, motions him to hang back.

29.

GRACE
Stay with the ship.
(for Jake)
One idiot with a gun's enough.

WAINFLEET
Whatever you say, Doc.

Jake takes point as they enter the jungle.

WAINFLEET
(LAUGHING)
Ya'll have fun out there.

EXT. RAINFOREST - DAY

The forest engulfs JAKE, GRACE and NORM in cyan gloom. The
shadows are alive with the CHITTERING sounds of unseen alien
wildlife.

TRACKING WITH JAKE as he moves through the foliage, hyper-
alert -- looking around like a tourist in Hell.A monkey-like
PROLEMURIS leaping from limb to limb overhead, flashing
through the sunlight streaming down in shafts.

A PLANT with swaying tendrils which reach toward Jake as he
passes.

This forest is more alive than any on Earth, with plants that
react and move like animals. Jake white-knuckles his rifle
as if every shadow conceals razor-fanged death.

GRACE
Relax, Marine. You're making me nervous.

She pushes ahead of him on the trail, forcing him to lower
his muzzle as he follows her. Grace moves nimbly on the
path, seemingly unconcerned.
CUT TO:

EXT. FOREST/ GLEN

WIDE SHOT as the party moves between the huge trees, tiny as
ants. The trail has gotten steeper, the going tougher.
CUT TO:

EXT. SCHOOL RUINS - DAY

They enter a clearing with an OVERGROWN BUILDING made of
timbers cut from the local trees, with a thatch roof. It is
covered with vines as the jungle reclaims it.

30.

NORM
How will they know we're here?

GRACE
I'm sure they're watching us right now.

Norm gulps. Jake looks behind him as they approach the
school, feeling unseen eyes.
CUT TO:

INT. SCHOOL RUINS

TRACKING WITH JAKE'S BOOTS as he steps among dried leaves and
a few moldering CHILDREN'S BOOKS. Floorboards CREAK.

GRACE (O.S.)
The kids were so bright, so eager to
learn... they picked up English faster
than I could teach it to them.

WIDER as Jake explores the room. Grace and Norm are selecting
INSTRUMENTS from storage cases on a wooden table.

GRACE
Bring the soil probe -- right there,
yellow case.

Jake looks up at a RUSTLING among the dark rafters. Roosting
STINGBATS eye him warily, fluttering their wings.

Grace picks up a moldering copy of "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss
from the floor and puts it back on a shelf.

GRACE
(WISTFULLY)
The stingbats knock them off. I guess I
always hope somebody will come back and
read them.

NORM
Why don't they come back?

GRACE
(GRIMLY)
The Na'vi learned as much about us as
they needed to know.

Jake sees something, and approaches the blackboard -- reaches
out to touch a pattern of holes blasted into the slate.
Unmistakably BULLET HOLES.

31.

JAKE
(turning to her)
What happened here?

GRACE
(SHARPLY)
Are you going to help with this gear?
We've got a lot to do.

She turns away. Jake watches her as he jams equipment into
his pack.
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - DAY

CLOSE ON Grace's blue hand gently brushing away soil,
exposing a tangle of ROOT TENDRILS.

GRACE
See, right here where the roots of the
two trees interact.

WIDER -- GRACE and NORM crouch among enormous octopoidal
roots. She takes a tiny sample using a needle-like probe.
Norm uses a digital DEVICE to scan the roots.

JAKE, bored, scouts ahead a few meters.

He comes to a GLADE filled with shoulder-high SPIRAL PLANTS
called HELICORADIANS.

He BRUSHES one and SHTOONK! -- it SUCKS DOWN into a tube in
the ground so quickly it seems to simply vanish.

Curious, Jake touches another -- SHTOONK! And another --
like popping balloons after a party. SHTOONK! SHTOONK!
SHTOONK!

A chain reaction begins and the whole colony pulls down into
the ground, REVEALING --

A HAMMERHEAD TITANOTHERE. Like a six-legged rhinoceros, but
twice that size. Its massive, low-slung head has projections
of bone giving it the look of a hammerhead shark.

Its baleful eyes lock onto him. Jake raises his rifle.

Grace, alerted by the creature's SNORTS, runs to where she
can see the tableau. She presses her THROAT MIKE.

GRACE
Don't shoot. You'll piss it off.

32.

The bull HAMMERHEAD bellows and lowers its 3 meter wide
sledgehammer of a skull.

JAKE
It's already pissed off!

GRACE
Jake, that armor's too thick. Trust me.

Jake starts to back away. The hammerhead bellows again,
pawing the earth.

GRACE
It's a territorial threat display. Do not
run, or he'll charge.

JAKE
What do I do?

GRACE
Hold your ground!

The hammerhead SLASHES its head sideways, splintering
saplings. It bellows again, lowers its head and CHARGES --

Jake SCREAMS at the top of his lungs, spreads his arms wide
and runs straight at the thing.

It STOPS abruptly, with an oversized BLEAT.

ON JAKE -- amazed the gambit worked.

JAKE
Oh yeah! Who's bad?! That's right.

SOMETHING rises up behind him out of focus --

A THANATOR. The most awesome land predator the universe has
ever conceived This thing could eat a T-rex and have the
Alien for desert.

It is a black six-limbed panther from Hell, with an armored
head and massive distensible jaws.

JAKE, unaware of the advancing thanator, is still bracing the
hammerhead --

JAKE
That's what I'm talkin' about, bitch!

The bull wheels around, TRUMPETING in fear, and CRASHES away
through splintering undergrowth.

33.

JAKE
That's right motherf--

A guttural SNARL behind him. Jake spins in time to see --

THREE TONS of rippling thanator LAUNCH over him, landing
between him and the hammerhead. The ground shakes.

The thanator emits an earsplitting ROAR, enraged that the
hammerhead got away. It twists on itself, turning to face
Jake, and bares its fangs with a lethal HISS.

JAKE
What about this one? Run, don't run?
What?

GRACE
Run. Definitely RUN!

Jake BOLTS as --

The thanator LEAPS after him and --

Jake launches himself between two large trunks, forcing the
beast to claw its way around to the side while --

Jake scrambles up -- around -- over a tangle of roots and --

SK-RASH!! CLAWS SLASH the air behind him, EXPLODING bark off
a trunk as --

JAKE wills himself forward in a frenzy. With rippling muscle
the beast is airborne again, blacking out the sun but --

JAKE dives under a massive root system, and --

CRASH! Kindling rains around him as the beast tears into the
root-trunks above him. Claws SLASH down next to him as he
rolls and crawls --

Glistening jaws SMASH and SNAP against the barrier trunks,
sending chunks of wood flying. It's spittle sprays across
Jake, jaws inches away as --

He rolls onto his back, and FIRES his AR point blank but the
rifle is SNATCHED out of his hands. The beast SCREECHES an
ungodly WAIL of pain and rage and -- RIPS the ENTIRE TRUNK
away. Jake scrambles to escape but --

GLISTENING JAWS lunge downward, SNAP SHUT and --

The creature rips Jake out of the tree, shaking him like a
junkyard dog with a rabbit, only --

34.

It has him by the BACKPACK, so Jake unlatches it and --

He FLIES FREE as the thanator crushes the pack with its
teeth. Giving Jake a moment to sprint away, but --

With a hideous BELLOW the thanator crashes after him,
splintering trees.

JAKE RUNS in a blur, dodging between trunks as a glistening
black tornado shreds the forest behind him and --

He sees WATER ahead and DIVES OUTWARD with all his might --

The thanator's jaws SNAP SHUT inches behind him as he flies
out into open space and --

JAKE SPLASHES down into a swiftly moving river.

The thanator LEAPS DOWN AFTER HIM, pursuing from rock to
rock, its claws swiping like a grizzly fishing for salmon.

Jake ducks under as -- FWHOOSH! -- black claws SLASH past
his face amid turbulent bubbles.

A WATERFALL ahead. Jake is swept over the falls, with the
thanator SWIPING at him from a rock, just MISSING and --

Jake disappears down the throat of the thundering cataract.

EXT. RIVER BELOW FALLS - DAY

The water boils below the cataract. Jake's head bursts
through the surface, and he gasps for breath.

He is carried along by the current, but manages to grab a
limb on a fallen tree. He weakly pulls himself up, and just
lies there gasping on the trunk.

Above him, on the cliff, the THANATOR BELLOWS, a roar which
echoes across the jungle.
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - DAY

JAKE, wet and bruised, crouches under a screen of giant
leaves. He hacks manically at the end of a cut sapling with
his knife, forming a crude but sharp tip.

EXT. RAINFOREST - DAY

TRACKING with Jake as he walks through the forest like it's a
minefield, carrying his SPEAR white-knuckled. He is freaked
and hyper-alert.

35.

The trees here are a hundred meters high, blocking out the
sky. A few pencil beams of sunlight filter down into the
cyan gloom.

POV FROM ABOVE -- looking down through leaves we watch Jake
move warily through the forest.

ECU -- TWO GOLDEN EYES, bright in the shadows.

DOWNANGLE as Jake passes under a tree limb. Invisible to
him, draped on the limb like a leopard, is a striking NA'VI
GIRL. She watches, only her eyes moving.

She is lithe as a cat, with a long neck, muscular shoulders,
and nubile breasts. And she is devastatingly beautiful --
for a girl with a tail. In human age she would be 18. Her
name is NEYTIRI(nay-Tee-ree).

Jake passes less than 2 meters beneath her, oblivious.

NEYTIRI rises soundlessly. In one fluid, sinuous movement
she NOCKS an arrow to her BOW and DRAWS, aiming RIGHT AT
JAKE. Utterly silent.

Below her Jake is totally unaware of the arrow aimed at his
THROAT.

ON NEYTIRI as she follows him with the bow, muscles tensing
for the shot --

-- and SOMETHING drifts down in front of her, F.G. She
hesitates.

RACK FOCUS to the tip of the arrow -- where a single
WOODSPRITE floats down to land on the arrow-head.Like a
dandelion seed, but larger, the WOODSPRITE waves its silky
CILIA, feather light, as it balances on the deadly point. It
glows faintly in the dark shadows.

NEYTIRI frowns, puzzled, and LOWERS her bow slowly. The
woodsprite WHIRLS away into the gloom.
CUT TO:

INT./EXT. SAMSON - SUNSET

GRACE and NORM peer down into the shadowed forest as TRUDY
banks in a search pattern.

TRUDY (INTERCOM)
I'm going to have to call it, guys. We're
not allowed to run night ops. Colonel's
orders.

36.

Grace looks to the west. The sun setting behind alien trees.

GRACE
Shit.

TRUDY
Sorry, Doc. He's just gonna have to hang
on `till morning.

GRACE
He's not going to make it till morning.

Grace stares into the dark forest as the Samson banks hard,
thundering away toward the setting sun.
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - NIGHT

LONG LENS-- POLYPHEMUS. The giant planet rises behind the
black trees.

Jake's got a new problem. He sees shapes moving with liquid
grace in the NIGHT shadows behind him. He is being stalked by
a pack of VIPERWOLVES.

Jake catches only glimpses -- a glint of eyes, a slinking
black movement -- then nothing. Darkness.

TIME CUT -- TIGHT ON Jake's hands as he knots his T-shirt
around the butt end of the spear.

ANGLE ON THICK SAP trickling down a tree-trunk. Jake jams
the makeshift torch into the sap, soaking the shirt with it.

A WATERPROOF MATCH from his survival kit lights the torch.

The torch creates a pool of light surrounded by pulsing,
leaping shadows. Jake turns warily as he moves along the
trail.

Behind him are several pairs of reflective green EYES.
Another pair flanking him beside the trail. Black-on-black
SHAPES which seem to flow like liquid.

He looks up -- sees one cross a limb overhead. Another on
his opposite flank.

Then a hideous sound, like a hyena's psychotic LAUGH.

The VIPERWOLVES can run like a dog and climb like a monkey.
They are hunting Jake from the ground and the trees.

37.

JAKE RUNS by torch-light, on the edge of panic. He reaches a
steep banked stream and -- without thinking -- runs across it
on a horizontal trunk --

-- and STOPS DEAD on the other side. The torch illuminates
GREEN EYES cutting ahead of him across the trail. The
viperwolves have him encircled.

The psychotic BARKS become more intense as they signal each
other, getting excited. ONE MAKES A RUN at him, angling on
his legs from behind but --

JAKE WHIRLS, jamming the torch in its face. It yips and goes
past, but ANOTHER moves in --

He jabs it with the business end of the spear and it SNARLS,
retreating, baring its fangs.

Now half a dozen are circling him in the open, and he sees
what he's up against. The VIPERWOLVES are six-limbed with
shiny chitinous skin, their paws leathery BLACK HANDS.
Intelligent eyes. Glistening black teeth in dead white gums.

Jake realizes that he is making his final stand. He whirls
the torch in an arc, keeping them at bay --

And feels a rush of adrenaline. It goes through him like a
lightning bolt and the fear is gone.

JAKE
(SCREAMING)
I don't have all goddamn night! Come on!
Come on!

With snarls and a blur of motion THEY ATTACK.

Jake CRACKS the spear down on one, then SPINS as --

ANOTHER LEAPS at him and he plants the spear in it, striking
true, but --

Its momentum wrenches it from his hands, and the torch goes
flying. Left in semi-darkness, Jake draws his KNIFE as--

A WOLF LUNGES, sinking its teeth into his arm. He YELLS in
pain and fury, SLASHING with the knife which --

CUTS deep into the beast's shoulder and it lets go.

JAKE SPRINTS, trying to escape, but a snarling viperwolf
leaps, GRABBING him by the ankle with its fore-hand. Jake
tears away, sprawling, SCRAMBLING to get up as --

38.

THREE WOLVES charge at once. The nearest LEAPS at his throat
just as --

THUNK!! -- an ARROW appears in its chest.

The wolf lands on him, already a dead weight. He pushes it
off in time to see --

A BLUE AMAZON emerge from the trees, nock another arrow, draw
and FIRE in one fluid motion. AN UNEARTHLY YOWL as another
wolf falls.

NEYTIRI LEAPS right over Jake, and CRACKS her bow down on the
skull of a circling wolf.

ANOTHER SPRINGS at her and she drops under its weight, but
rolls, coming up on top of it with a knife in her hand.

Her knife FLASHES down, buried to the hilt in its chest.

SNARLING, a wounded wolf attacks Jake, and he KICKS it away,
but --

It SPINS and leaps back onto him, and Jake barely catches its
throat in time to keep the SNAPPING JAWS away from his face.

MEANWHILE Neytiri swings her bow in a big arc, CRACKING IT
across the heads and shoulders of two remaining wolves.

NEYTIRI
Rrreeyaaah! Hyaaaah!!

The wolves slink and circle, yelping as the bow whistles past
them. Finally they break and run, with Neytiri chasing and--

They bound away through the foliage as she SHOUTS after them--

NEYTIRI
Raaaarrrr!

Jake has his adversary pinned and is choking it with all his
weight. Finally it stops thrashing. Panting, he releases it
and looks up at --

NEYTIRI. Her tail LASHES as she scans the forest, listening
to the fading YELPS of the wolves. Satisfied the attack is
over, she turns.

She regards him coldly for a second, then walks past him.
Neytiri picks up the torch and extinguishes it in a stream.

JAKE
Wait, don't --

39.

Jake blinks around at the darkness -- realizing he can still
see. In fact, with the blinding torchlight gone, the forest
is transformed.

The jungle has come alive with BIOLUMINESCENCE -- spots and
patterns, ghosts and galaxies of blue-green light.

Jake scrambles to recover his spear. Neytiri kneels beside --

A DYING WOLF. It's CRIES are pitiful. It paws the air,
trying to raise its head. She pulls her KNIFE from its
chest.

NEYTIRI
(in Na'vi)
Forgive me, my brother.

She cuts its throat, ending the pitiful cries. She touches
its head gently, regarding it with sadness.

Neytiri wipes the knife and returns it to the sheath at her
waist. She crosses to another slain wolf and kneels, pulling
the arrow from its heart.

JAKE
Look, um, I know you probably don't
understand this. But -- thanks. Thank
you. I owe you.

Neytiri ignores him, assuming a prayer posture over the dead
animal.

NEYTIRI
(in Na'vi)
Forgive me. May your spirit run with the
Great Mother.

JAKE
I would have been screwed if you hadn't
come along --

She rises and walks away without looking at Jake.

JAKE
Hey, wait. Wait! Where you goin'?

He crashes through some plants, catching up to her.

JAKE
Slow down a second will you. I just want
to thank you for killing those --

He makes the mistake of grasping her shoulder and --

40.

WHACK! She WALLOPS him upside the head with her bow in a
fierce backhand swing, laying him out flat.

He looks up to see a FURY standing over him. A Fury who
speaks English -- accented, halting, angry English.

NEYTIRI
Don't thank! You don't thank for this!
This is sad. Very sad, only.

JAKE
Okay, I'm sorry. Whatever I did -- I'm
sorry.

She gestures at the bodies of the viperwolves.

NEYTIRI
All this is your fault! They did not need
to die.

JAKE
They attacked me. How'm I the bad guy
HERE--

She silences him with the tip of her bow at his throat.

NEYTIRI
Your fault! You are like a baby, making
noise, don't know what to do. You should
not come here, all of you! You only come
and make problems. Only.

Jake gets up, slowly, facing her.

JAKE
Okay, fine, you love your little forest
friends. So why not just let them kill
my ass? What's the thinking?

CU Neytiri -- looking away. Finally, reluctantly, her eyes
MEET HIS for the first time -- a riveting gaze with those big
gold orbs.

NEYTIRI
Why save you?

JAKE
Yes, why save me?

NEYTIRI
You have a strong heart. No fear.

She leans closer --

41.

NEYTIRI
But stupid! Ignorant like a child!

She turns away, stalking off, but Jake goes after her.

TRACKING WITH Neytiri as she climbs nimbly along a huge ROOT.

WIDER as she trots with perfect balance along the root, which
forms an elevated walkway.

Jake runs to catch up, realizing suddenly that he is far
above the forest floor. Throughout the following they move
through a GLOWING PHANTASMAGORICAL FOREST.

JAKE
If I'm so ignorant, maybe you should
teach me.

NEYTIRI
Sky people can not learn. You do not
See.

She leaps to another elevated root. Jake follows, surprised
that he made it.

JAKE
Whooaa.

He runs to catch up with her easy jogging pace.

JAKE
Then teach me to "see."

She stops and he almost runs into her.

NEYTIRI
No one can teach you to See.

Then she turns and trots on.

EXT. GORGE - NIGHT

They run across the elevated root of an enormous tree -- a
horizontal trunk big as an oak.

WIDE SHOT as they cross a DEEP GORGE. A waterfall shimmers
silver in the Polyphemus-light. Vines hang down a hundred
feet into the gorge, and among them swoop stingbats and other
night flyers.

JAKE
Hey, slow down. Look, I think we just
got off on the wrong foot and --

42.

Jake looks down, suddenly aware of the height.

JAKE
--you just have to get to know me. I'm
Jake. Jake Sull--

A vine catches his spear and spins him off balance. He drops
the spear and almost falls off the root.

JAKE
Whooaaa -- shit!

Neytiri catches him with one hand, gripping his bicep. He
watches the spear cartwheel down to splash in the river.

She pulls him upright. Shouts at him in English and Na'vi.

JAKE
I need your help.

NEYTIRI
You should not be here.

JAKE
So take me with you.

NEYTIRI
No. You go back.

DOWN ANGLE FROM FAR ABOVE -- several WOODSPRITES float down
through the trees. FOLLOW THEM as they descend silently
toward Jake and Neytiri.

NEYTIRI, sensing a presence, looks up to see --

The WOODSPRITES, PULSING with purpose, float right towards
Jake. They dance gently around his shoulders and head.

JAKE
(off her amazed look)
What?

More woodsprites gather around him. Several ALIGHT on him.

Jake holds still, knowing he should be afraid -- but somehow
he's not. He spreads his arms. More sprites come, landing
all over his arms, hands, body.

JAKE
What are they?

CU NEYTIRI -- reacting with a mixture of wonder and dread.

43.

NEYTIRI
Atokirina'. Seeds of the Great Tree --
very pure spirits.

Jake -- now a pulsing, glowing, fluttering MASS OF LIGHT --
moves one hand slowly, not wanting to break the spell. He
studies one of the sprites dancing on his palm until --

-- WHOOSSHH! the woodsprites whirl up and away, scattering
into the darkness.

JAKE
What was that all about?

Neytiri seems shaken. She seizes his hand and pulls him
after her.

NEYTIRI
Come!
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - NIGHT

TRACKING WITH JAKE as he gazes about him in growing wonder.
He touches leaves as he passes, watching the bioluminescence
shiver through them.

Jake looks down as -- they cross a bed of purple MOSS which
reacts to the pressure of their footsteps. Rings of green
light, like ripples on a pond, expand outward from each
footfall. Exploding rings of light where his feet touch
down. Dream-like, surreal beauty.

WIDE ON THEM as they run over a large root, across a mirror-
like POOL at the base of a WATERFALL.

Jake follows Neytiri, running along a raised root-trunk.

JAKE
What's your name?

JAKE hears WHOOSH-WHOOSH and snaps a look as a BOLO flies at
him, spinning end for end and --

SHWHAP!! -- tangles around his legs. He topples off the root
and crashes into the foliage below.

JAKE untangles himself, getting up to run just as --

SEVERAL NA'VI RIDERS thunder toward him. They are riding
DIREHORSES -- six-legged, armor-skinned alien Clydesdales.

44.

We see that the riders' QUEUES are connected to the horses'
long moth-like antennae -- a neural-link with which they can
command the horse, leaving hands free for weapons.

The riders aim bows and spears at Jake as they approach. Jake
turns to bolt, but --

NA'VI HUNTERS melt out of the shadows, weapons aimed --
blocking his retreat.

Neytiri drops to the ground next to Jake and confronts the
LEAD RIDER. She shouts sharply in Na'vi --

NEYTIRI
(SUBTITLED)
Tsu'tey, what are you doing?! He is my
captive!

TSU'TEY(tsu-Tay)is young and powerfully built, with sculpted
features and a proud jawline, piercing eyes. Tsu'tey swings
off his mount with fluid grace.

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
These demons are forbidden here. I will
kill this one as a lesson to the others!

Tsu'tey draws his bow but Neytiri leaps between him and Jake,
confronting him warrior to warrior.

NEYTIRI
(SUBTITLED)
Stop! There has been a sign. This is a
matter for the Tsahik.

Tsu'tey clenches his jaw with frustration -- frustration with
her as much as the situation. He turns and angrily remounts
his direhorse, barking a command to the HUNTERS.

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
Bring him.

They grab Jake and haul him to his feet. Encircled by spears
and bows, he is shoved forward along the trail, as Tsu'tey
and the others ride ahead.
CUT TO:

EXT. HOMETREE - NIGHT

JAKE is hauled roughly toward Neytiri's village, which is
sheltered inside one of the GREAT TREES. HOMETREE is 250
meters tall, with a trunk four times the diameter of the
largest Sequoia, and a base of massive mangrove-pillars.

45.

TSU'TEY rides inside the columns at the base of Hometree,
shouting an ululating WARNING.

Jake is force-marched through the pillars into --

INT. COMMONS/HOMETREE - NIGHT

An open CENTRAL AREA. The villagers gather to see the
arriving hunt party. We see the people of the tribe --
mothers with babies, old women, young hunters.

They gawk at the alien, expressions ranging from curiosity to
outright hostility. The huge eyes of the children follow
him.

Jake is amazed at the size of HOMETREE inside. By the light
of the COOK-FIRES he can see up into a vast cylindrical
gallery -- a living cathedral.

Clear membranes -- sturmbeest bladders -- filled with
fluttering bio-luminescent insects, act as area lighting.

The central space is dominated by the SKULL of some enormous
creature, mounted with much embellishment on a TOTEM.
Standing in front of this, awaiting their approach, is --

EYTUKAN (AY-too-kahn), the Clan Leader. Eytukan has deeply
chiselled features and a long chest mantle of THANATOR CLAWS.
His normally stern features are clouded further by anger.

EYTUKAN
(SUBTITLED)
Why do you bring this creature here?

Neytiri addresses Eytukan in Na'vi.

NEYTIRI
(SUBTITLED)
I was going to kill him, but there was a
sign from Eywa.

He glowers at her as he responds, pointing at Jake.

EYTUKAN
(SUBTITLED)
I have said no dreamwalker will come
here, to offend our home! His alien
smell fills my nose

Neytiri stands her ground, answering in a respectful but not
submissive tone.

46.

NEYTIRI
(SUBTITLED)
Father, many atokirina came to this
alien.

JAKE
What's going on?

NEYTIRI
My father is deciding whether to kill
you.

JAKE
Your father!?
(to Eytukan)
Uh, good to meet you, sir.

Jake steps forward, offering his hand, and the hunters JUMP
to restrain him, shouting. But they all FREEZE as --

A commanding FEMALE VOICE echoes through the chamber.

MO'AT
(NA'VI)
Step back!

Everybody looks up.

MO'AT (MOH-aht) stands on the second level, looking down.
She is a severe woman in her 50's. Her bearing is haughty,
her expression friendly as a hanging-judge. Her outfit is
elaborate, denoting her rank as CLAN MATRIARCH.

MO'AT
(SUBTITLED)
I will look at this alien.

There is an expectant hush as Mo'at descends the helical core
of Hometree, a kind of natural spiral staircase.

NEYTIRI
That is Mother. She is Tsahik -- the one
who interprets the will of Eywa.

JAKE
Who's Eywa?

Neytiri kneels before her like an acolyte as Mo'at passes.

The villagers stare silently as the Matriarch circles slowly
around Jake, examining his tail and the end of his queue.

47.

MO'AT
(thick accent)
What are you called?

JAKE
Jake Sully.

She produces a long THORN between her fingertips. With a
flourish she strikes his chest.

Jake flinches. RED BLOOD wells up and Mo'at rubs some
between her fingertips. She tastes it.

MO'AT
Why did you come to us?

JAKE
I came to learn.

MO'AT
We have tried to teach other Sky People.
It is hard to fill a cup which is already
full.

JAKE
My cup is empty, trust me. Just ask
Doctor Augustine. I'm no scientist.

MO'AT
What are you?

JAKE
I don't know. I was a Marine -- uh, a
warrior. Of the Jarhead clan.

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
A warrior! I could kill him easily!

EYTUKAN
(SUBTITLED)
No! This is the first warrior
dreamwalker we have seen. We need to
learn more about him.

JAKE
What's going on? What are they saying?

MO'AT
(to Neytiri, subtitled)
Daughter. You will teach him our way, to
speak and walk as we do.

48.

NEYTIRI looks shocked, then angry.

NEYTIRI
(SUBTITLED)
Why me? That's not fair! I only--

MO'AT
(SUBTITLED)
It is decided!

Neytiri subsides, turning to glare at Jake.

MO'AT
(to Jake)
My daughter will teach you our ways.
Learn well, Jakesully. We will see if
your insanity can be cured.

She turns to Neytiri, her expression stern --

MO'AT
(SUBTITLED)
He is your responsibility.

Neytiri nods, accepting, but she's not a happy camper. She
grabs Jake's arm and pulls him roughly away.

JAKE
So it's all good, right? You and me --

NEYTIRI
Do not speak.
CUT TO:

INT. SECOND LEVEL/HOMETREE

LATER, Neytiri leads Jake up the spiral to the SECOND LEVEL.
He now wears only a ratty LOINCLOTH. His wounds are bound
with plant-fiber bandages.

THE ENTIRE CLAN is squatting at dinner in a huge circle. They
stop talking and turn to gaze at Jake as he enters the
circle.

JAKE
Don't get up.

Neytiri crosses the circle to the cook pit and returns with
several large leaves heaped with food. She kneels next to
Jake, placing the food in front of him almost DEFIANTLY.

JAKE
You never told me your name.

49.

NEYTIRI
Neytiri te Ckaha Mo'at'ite.

JAKE
Okay, again, a whole lot slower.

NEYTIRI
(exaggerated slowness)
Neytiri. Nay-TEE-ree.

Jake knows she's baiting him. He smiles in response.

JAKE
Nay-TEE-ree. That's nice. Nay-TEE-ree.

ACROSS THE CIRCLE, Tsu'tey, Mo'at and Eytukan sit together,
glancing up occasionally from their food to the stranger.

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
These aliens try to look like people, but
they can't.

MO'AT
(SUBTITLED)
He seems dim to me. And his eyes are too
small.

NEYTIRI motions for Jake to take portions from the serving
leaves onto his own leaf.

JAKE
Your mom likes me. I can tell.

MO'AT, watching Jake and Neytiri, leans over to Eytukan.

MO'AT
(SUBTITLED)
Neytiri will test this "warrior." Hey may
learn nothing -- but we will learn much.

EYTUKAN
You speak truth. We must understand
these Sky People if we are to drive them
out.

Jake munches on a white shrimp-like thing.

JAKE
These rock. What are they?

NEYTIRI
Teylu. You call beetle larvae.

50.

Jake blanches. She heaps some more onto his leaf -- a
CHALLENGE -- and Jake meets her eyes, takes a handful, and
starts munching enthusiastically.

JAKE
That's some damn fine teylu. That's like
grandma's teylu.

CU TSU'TEY, warily eyeing Jake --

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
I say she will kill him.
CUT TO:

INT. THIRD LEVEL - NIGHT

The sleeping level -- families nesting in groups on woven
hammocks the size of trampolines. The hunters sleep along
SPOKES joining the inner trunk to the tree's outer shell.

Jake lies awake in a hammock, people rustling in the darkness
around him. Neytiri is nearby, curled up like a little girl.
She stares at him for a moment, then closes her eyes.

Jake watches the glowing bugs fluttering inside a night-
light, a pulse of life energy. A strange peace spreads
through him. He closes his eyes and --
CUT TO:

INT. LINK ROOM - NIGHT

GRACE is over JAKE in the Link, SLAPPING him, as Max and NORM
hover.

GRACE
Come on back, kid, that's it.

JAKE
Wha --? Oh.

He looks around, blinking. Reality crashing in.

GRACE
Damn, you were dug in like a tick.
(she helps him sit up)
Is the avatar safe?

JAKE
(huge grin)
Yeah, Doc -- and you are not going to
believe where I am.
CUT TO:

51.

INT. COMMISSARY - MORNING

BREAKFAST the next day. The other drivers lean forward,
hanging on Grace's re-telling of the tale.

GRACE
-- so the kid's out there one night and
he's got the Queen Bitch herself offering
him the spare room and the car keys.
Unbelievable.

JAKE
It's not something you can teach.

Some of the other scientists clap Jake on the shoulders in
congratulation.

MAX
That's awesome, Jake.

NORM chomps his bacon, fuming.

GRACE
(to Jake, getting serious)
For reasons I cannot fathom, the
Omaticaya have chosen you. God help us
all.
CUT TO:

INT. OPS CENTER - MORNING

JAKE has reported to SELFRIDGE and QUARITCH. Quaritch turns
from gazing out at the wall of forest, displaying a feral
grin.

QUARITCH
Jarhead clan?
(he laughs)
And that worked?

JAKE
(GRINNING)
Yeah. They want to study me. See if I
can learn to be one of them.

QUARITCH
That's how you seize the initiative. I
wish I had ten more like you.

SELFRIDGE
Look, Sully -- find out what these blue
monkeys want.
(MORE)

52.

SELFRIDGE (cont'd)
We try to give them medicine and
education. Roads! But no -- they like
mud. I wouldn't care except --

Selfridge turns to a large 3D GRAPHIC DISPLAY, pointing. A
road runs from Hell's Gate to a proposed new mine miles away.

SELFRIDGE
Their damn village is sitting right over
the richest unobtanium deposit for a
hundred klicks in any direction. Which
sucks -- for them -- because they need to
relocate.

JAKE
(taking that in)
Does Augustine know about this?

SELFRIDGE
Yeah, she does, and she's on the next
ship back if she tries to cock-block me
on it.

JAKE
So -- who talks them into moving?

QUARITCH
(TURNING)
Guess.

JAKE
What if they won't go?

QUARITCH
(ICY)
I'm betting they will.

SELFRIDGE
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but
there's one thing shareholders hate more
than bad press -- and that's a bad
quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to
get them to move, or it's going to have
to be all stick.

Jake is shaken by the enormity of this new responsibility.

QUARITCH
You got three months. That's when the
dozers get there.

JAKE
I'm on it.
CUT TO:

53.

INT. BIO LAB - MORNING

JAKE pumps his chair across the lab, flanked by GRACE and
NORM. Grace holds STEREO STILL PICTURES in front of him, one
at a time -- images of clan members she has shot over the
years -- a kind of flash card drill.

JAKE
Tsu'tey.
(next photo)
Mo'at.
(next photo)
Eytukan.

GRACE
He's the clan leader --
(indicating Mo'at)
-- but she's the spiritual leader. Like
a shaman.

INT. LINK ROOM

The dialogue is continuous as they enter.

JAKE
Got it. So who's this Eywa?

NORM
Who's Eywa? Oh, only their deity. The
Great Mother. The goddess made up of all
living things. You'd know that if you
had any training whatsoever.

He hauls himself from wheelchair to Link.

JAKE
Who's got a date with the chief's
daughter?

GRACE
Knock it off. Jesus, it's like
kindergarten around here.

As Jake settles into the soft embrace of the link, Grace
inputs commands at the control station.

GRACE
Neytiri was my best student. She and her
sister Silwanin. Just amazing girls.

JAKE
I didn't meet the sister.

54.

GRACE
(QUIETLY)
No, she's dead.
(turning to him)
Okay, let's go -- village life starts
early.

MAX
Link is ready.

Grace lowers the bio-sensor array over Jake's chest.

GRACE
Don't do anything unusually stupid.

She closes the clamshell and we --

INT. HOMETREE/ THIRD LEVEL - DAY

CU JAKE'S AVATAR, blinking awake, staring up at --

HOMETREE, like a gothic cathedral overhead. Sunlight streams
down through gaps in the towering vault.
CUT TO:

INT. COMMONS - DAY

JAKE walks among the villagers, who go about their daily
tasks.

-- young girls sit together, weaving and SINGING. They look
up as he passes, then go back to work.

--two men clean the fish they've caught.

-- a young mother pounds seeds into meal, while nursing an
infant.

--children chase each other and climb like monkeys. One bold
LITTLE GIRL runs up to Jake, stops -- staring -- then shrieks
with laughter as she runs back to her playmates.

GRINNING, Jake turns to see NEYTIRI cantering toward him on a
DIREHORSE. She leads a second horse, an old sway-backed
MARE. His grin drops.

EXT. RIVER NEAR HOMETREE - DAY

JAKE nervously grips the surcingle of the mare. Neytiri holds
its nose-ring while Jake clumsily mounts.

Jake bends one of its ANTENNAE down to the tip of his queue.
He hesitantly touches them together and --

55.

TIGHT SHOT -- the tendrils INTERWEAVE.

Jake's PUPILS DILATE and his mouth drops open. The horse's
eyes also go wide and it HONKS nervously. Neytiri touches her
fingertips to the neural interface.

NEYTIRI
This is shahaylu -- the bond. Feel her
heartbeat, her breath. Feel her strong
legs.

Jake closes his eyes, nodding. One with the horse.

TSU'TEY and another young hunter come out of the forest
leading TWO DIREHORSES. The magnificent animals drink from
the edge of the pool. Tsu'tey watches Jake's riding lesson
with disdain.

NEYTIRI
You may tell her what to do --
(she touches her head)
-- inside. For now, say where to go.

JAKE
Forward.

The horse LAUNCHES into a GALLOP. Jake flops around, with no
idea how to sit the animal, and is promptly THROWN OFF. He
lands painfully in the mud.

He gets up, brushing mud off knees and ass, as Neytiri leads
the horse back to him.

NEYTIRI
Again.

SERIES OF JUMP CUTS -- Jake falls off the horse in various
ways, seemingly landing harder each time.

ON JAKE, face down in the mud of the riverbank. He painfully
rises to hands and knees. Which is when he sees --

TSU'TEY and another HUNTER thundering across the shallow
river on their direhorses. Spray blasts up from their
hooves.

Jake stands, covered in mud, as Tsu'tey stops his horse next
to him, looking down with disdain.

TSU'TEY
You should go away.

56.

JAKE
(to Neytiri)
I knew this guy could speak English.

Tsu'tey turns to Neytiri, who is leading the old mare back.

TSU'TEY
(SUBTITLED)
This alien will learn nothing. A rock
Sees more.

She sighs in agreement. Tsu'tey and the other hunter wheel
their horses around and THUNDER OFF into the woods.

NEYTIRI gestures to Jake's horse.

NEYTIRI
Again.
CUT TO:

OPS CENTER - NIGHT

Grouped around a table are JAKE, COLONEL QUARITCH, SELFRIDGE
and few ENGINEERS and OFFICERS. Jake is talking them through
plans he's made of Hometree's inner structure.

JAKE
You've got outer columns, then a
secondary ring here, and an inner ring.
Then a core structure, it's like a
spiral, that's how they move up and down.

QUARITCH
I'm going to need accurate scans of all
these columns.

JAKE
Roger that.

ANGLE ON MAX, at the stairwell. He's been watching Jake
talking rapidly to Quaritch, but can't hear him. Frowning,
he backs away, down the stairs.
CUT TO:

INT. BIO LAB - DAY

JAKE, GRACE and NORM are packing science gear and supplies.

GRACE
I'm not about to let Quaritch and
Selfridge micro-manage this thing.
(she looks pointedly at Jake)
We're going up into the mountains.
(MORE)

57.

GRACE (cont'd)
There's a mobile link up at Site 26 that
we can work out of.

NORM
The Hallelujah Mountains?

GRACE
That's right.

NORM
Yesssss!
(off Jake's look)
The legendary Floating Mountains of
Pandora? Heard of them?
CUT TO:

EXT. RAINFOREST - AERIAL - DAY

A SAMSON THUNDERS over the rainforest, climbing into the mist-
shrouded mountains.

In the SEALED COCKPIT, Norm is up front, sitting left seat so
Trudy can talk him through the flight controls. Jake and
Grace are behind them, in the jump-seats.

Grace and Norm's UNCONSCIOUS AVATARS ride in the open back
compartment.

TRUDY
It only takes tiny inputs. Here, put
your hand on the cyclic --

She points to the stick between her knees. Norm hesitantly
reaches over and rests his hand on hers.

TRUDY
Feel how small the moves are? You barely
have to think it, and the aircraft
reacts.

ON NORM -- reacting to tiny inputs from the hot lady-pilot.

THE SAMSON is dwarfed by enormous ARCHES OF ROCK.

GRACE
See these magnetic formations. We're
getting close.

TRUDY
Yeah we are. Look at my instruments.

On the dash, many of the displays are fritzing out.

58.

GRACE
Yup. We're in the flux vortex.

AHEAD, a cloud bank parts, revealing --

THE HALLELUJAH MOUNTAINS. Right in front of them.

NORM
Oh. My. God.

Jake leans forward between the seatbacks for a good look out
the front canopy.

JAKE'S POV -- enormous islands of rock are hovering a half
mile above the ground. They are overgrown with rainforest,
and straggly beards of vines hang down beneath them.
Waterfalls stream down the sides and dissolve into spray at
the bottom.

ON JAKE, staring in amazement. It is both awe-inspiring and
disturbing.

Trudy turns, grinning at Jake.

TRUDY
You should see your face.

WIDE AERIAL -- the Samson is tiny as it approaches the
floating islands of rock. An archipelago among the clouds,
they cast great shadows over the forested slopes below.

JAKE (V.O.)
Yeah, so what does hold them up? Grace
explained it to me -- some kind of maglev
effect because unobtanium is a
superconductor, or something. At least
somebody understands it. Just not me.
CUT TO:

EXT. SITE 26 - DAY

A remote RESEARCH STATION -- TWO SHACKS and a few clusters of
instruments perched on a promontory near the Hallelujah
Mountains. The shacks are AIRLIFT MODULES the size of buses.

THE SAMSON LANDS, beating the grass with its rotor-wash. The
humans hop out, wearing MASKS.

They move toward the Shack, taking in the spectacular
panorama.
CUT TO:

59.

INT. SHACK - DAY

NORM and TRUDY assist JAKE with his chair as they cycle in
through the AIRLOCK. GRACE is already inside, starting the
GENNY. She turns on the lights and equipment.

There are 4 bunks, a clutter of science gear, and -- through
a short connecting corridor -- THREE LINK UNITS in the second
module.

As Grace powers up the Link equipment, Jake stops to look at
STEREO STILL PICTURES which are taped and tacked up around
her workstation.

CLOSE ON PICTURES -- Grace posing at the school with various
grinning children. There is one of her with two lanky girls,
a younger Neytiri and an older girl who looks much like her.

GRACE
Jake, take number two, it's the least
glitchy. Norm, I need you to operate
Jake's link.

Norm glares at Jake as he passes.

JAKE
Hey. You got a problem?

Norm turns to Grace, his frustration boiling over.

NORM
I trained three years for this mission.
I speak the language fluently.
(he points at Jake)
He falls off the frickin' turnip truck
and all of a sudden he's cultural
ambassador!?

GRACE
It's not our choice, Norm.

He glowers at Jake.

NORM
Yeah, well I didn't come out here to wash
the dishes while you're on some
interspecies booty call.

He stalks off.

GRACE
He can't go far.

60.

She points to Jake's link.

GRACE
Let's get you in.
CUT TO:

INT./EXT. HOMETREE - BANSHEE EYRIE

LOOKING DOWN the central shaft of Hometree, 80 meters to the
ground. Villagers are ant-like.

Jake tries to keep up with Neytiri as she leaps up the core
trunk like a lemur. He climbs the last section, arriving out
of breath beside her. She leads him OUTSIDE, onto --

A large branch. Through gaps in the foliage Jake can see
other Great Trees scattered across the landscape, like
enormous umbrellas above the rainforest.

NEYTIRI strides out across the branch toward some kind of
STRUCTURE -- a WEB made of thick woven fiber. DARK SHAPES
clinging to it stir with a leathery RUSTLING SOUND.

Neytiri makes a series of TRILLS and CLICKS. One of the
shapes MOVES toward them, emerging into a shaft of sunlight.

A huge MOUNTAIN BANSHEE. Much larger than the forest
banshees, this thing is taller than a Na'vi with a 10 meter
wingspan. A leathery FWHOOP, like the crack of sails, as it
alights on the branch right in front of her.

JAKE
Holy shit.

NEYTIRI
Do not look in her eye.

Neytiri feeds it a large scrap of meat, which it SNATCHES and
gulps down. She murmurs to it and strokes its NECK.

It lets out a signature SHRIEK, and some of the others in the
shadows nearby answer.

Neytiri flip-catches her queue and gently connects it to the
Banshee's ANTENNA. It shivers and stretches its wings as the
neural connection is made.

NEYTIRI
Ikran is not horse. Once shahaylu is
made, ikran will fly with only one Hunter
in the whole life.

She climbs smoothly onto the animal's back.

61.

NEYTIRI
To become taronyu -- Hunter -- you must
choose your own ikran. And he must choose
you.

JAKE
When?

NEYTIRI
When you are ready.

The BANSHEE shivers with anticipation.

NEYTIRI
Heeyaaahh!

Jake ducks as the great wings EXPLODE OPEN and the banshee
DROPS off the branch. It swoops down across the forest
canopy, banks hard, lets out a CRY and beats its wings in a
power climb.

Completing the bank, Neytiri directs the banshee into a close
SWOOPING FLYBY, and Jake instinctively ducks.

ON NEYTIRI -- flying in perfect fusion with her winged mount,
the rainforest rolling beneath her.
CUT TO:

INT. SHACK - NIGHT/EXT

STEREO VIDEO-LOG IMAGE -- Jake has just switched on the
camera. He looks tired.

JAKE
Do I have to do this? I need some rack.

GRACE, behind him, looks up from her MICROSCOPE, scowling.

GRACE
No -- now, when it's fresh.

JAKE
Yeah, yeah.
(to camera)
The days are starting to blur together.
The language is a bitch, but I figure
it's like field-stripping a weapon.
Repetition.

THIS THROWS US INTO A TEACHING MONTAGE:

JAKE AND NEYTIRI kneel together inside Hometree. Neytiri
touches her lips with her fingertips.

62.

JAKE
Seyri.

She touches her nose, her ears, her eyes in quick sequence.

JAKE
Ontu, mikyun, nari.

NEYTIRI stands next to him, correcting his position as he
draws a longbow.

BARKING commands, she SMACKS him on the shoulder, then the
elbow, repositioning him roughly.

JAKE (V.O.)
Neytiri thinks I'm some kind of retard.

HUMAN JAKE emerges from the LINK to see --

TRUDY and NORM caught IN THE ACT on Norm's bunk. Norm blushes
and Trudy waves, pulling the blanket over their heads.

JAKE (V.O.)
Norm's attitude has improved lately.

NORM works with JAKE at the small table in the SHACK kitchen.

NORM
Thank you?

JAKE
Ireiyo.

Norm comically exaggerates the pronunciation.

NORM
Irrrreiyo. Irrrreiyo. You've gotta roll
the R, r-r-r-oll it.

Norm makes Jake repeat the word, getting more frustrated.

JAKE (V.O.)
It's good he's back on board, but he
thinks I'm a retard too.

TRACKING WITH JAKE'S FEET as he runs over rocks, leaping onto
a thick root, running on across the rough bark.

JAKE (V.O.)
My feet are getting tougher. I can run
farther every day.

63.

Neytiri leads him along a massive root, and soon they are
running 30 meters above the ground.

He sprints with her through the trees, trying to keep up.
She CLIMBS and LEAPS with the ease of a spider monkey.

JAKE (V.O.)
I have to trust my body to know what to
do. With Neytiri it's learn fast or die.

Neytiri LEAPS off into space, falling, falling until --

She catches an enormous palm leaf and, gripping it, allows
its DROOP to slow her fall. She lets go, plummeting, and
catches another.

JAKE FOLLOWS in a leap of faith. THE CAMERA PLUNGES with
him, from leaf to leaf, down and down in a dizzying kinetic
rush.

He drops down from the last leaf, landing next to her on a
game trail. He is exhilarated to still be alive.

Neytiri is surprised -- that he followed. That he lived.

TIGHT ON HUMAN JAKE, in the shack. Thinking as he looks at
the pictures of Grace with the laughing kids at the school.

IN THE COMMONS -- AVATAR NORM formally greets MO'AT. The
Matriarch looks on as GRACE kneels to hug children she knows.
Grace's eyes sparkle as she chats with them in Na'vi.

JAKE (V.O.)
I sweet-talked Mo'at into giving Norm and
Grace a hall pass. Now Grace even makes
me coffee before link every morning.

Grace looks up to see Neytiri approaching. It is an awkward
moment between them. Grace makes the formal gesture of
greeting.

GRACE
(Na'vi, subtitled)
I See you, Neytiri Mo'at'ite.

NEYTIRI
I See you, Doctor Grace Augustine.

ANOTHER DAY -- NEYTIRI kneels on a game trail, pointing out
the tracks in the mud to Jake. She touches the edges of the
plants around her, and sniffs the air.

64.

JAKE (V.O.)
I'm learning to read the trails, the
tracks at the water-hole, the tiniest
scents and sounds.

JAKE AND NEYTIRI watch through a screen of leaves as --

A HERD of huge, armored STURMBEEST walks through the shallows
of a lake. In the middle of the herd, the babies are
sheltered from predators among their parents' legs.

One of the BULLS trumpets, and a flock of TETRAPTERONS takes
flight, an explosion of purple wings.

Jake stares at the strange and wild alien tableau.

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