It’s been my experience that people seem very open to the idea of being introduced to someone new in a published work, but not in fanfiction. I would theorize that this is because people read fanfiction mostly to further explore already existing characters, and new characters are almost always written off as being dreaded Sues. This is such a lie. Yes, a good proportion of original characters in fanfiction are bad. I think we can all agree on that. However, I can list a good number of fanfiction that feature numerous original characters that are far more than just decent, but compelling, thought-provoking, and realistic.
Semper Victoria by Katkiller-V is one such fic. It’s summary reads:
Humanity is on the brink of self-destruction, and unobtanium may be only hope for our species. A story where Pandora is not an Eden, and the shades of white and black have been washed into a sea of gray.
First published late last year, it took the author just under two months to post all forty-nine chapters and start on the sequel, Semper Furor. I can only assume she either had most of the first story written, or at the very least outlined, before she began posting. Notably, she’s been taking much longer to finish the sequel, but she manages to maintain the same quality of writing throughout, that being remarkably decent for something found on fanfiction.net. Hey, Katkiller-V obviously knows a good deal more about grammar than other fanfiction authors, so I’m not going to complain whenever I see a typo.
Semper Victoria takes place after the events of Avatar. It follows the scientists the Na’vi allowed to stay behind after all the other humans are kicked off the planet, while at the same time showing what Parker is up to and how the Earth is suffering without its unobtanium resources. The Earth is about to die, and there is no other option but to send another expedition back to Pandora. Failure cannot be allowed, and once the humans arrive again, the ship that brought them immediately leaves, thus stranding them on the planet to fend for themselves should Eywa launch another attack. Their numbers are so few that they can only hope none of the natives spot their new mining sites and realize their presence.
By the time Parker and the other humans make it back to Pandora, Jake and Neytiri have a son named after Tsu’tey and twin daughters named after Grace and Neytiri’s sister. Jake has the people’s ready respect, and despite no longer being Toruk Makto, everyone is willing to follow him. It’s been almost two decades since the humans originally left, and though Jake knows it’s only a pipe dream they won’t return, everything seems quite peaceful for the moment.
Meanwhile, life has not been kind to the remaining human scientists, and the Na’vi only grudgingly tolerate their presence. Those who still have Avatars have successfully integrated into the society, but the others are outcasts left to fend for themselves, including Norm, who receives little to no gratitude for his part in war since his Avatar was destroyed. By the time the humans arrive, only Norm, Katrina, and Max have not been eaten by the local fauna, and they are all too happy to join back up with humanity while also attempting to stop yet another war after the Na’vi discover the return of the evil Sky People.
When I first watched Avatar, I had a lot of problems with the narrative, and one such problem is that I could never root for the Na’vi. I wanted the humans to win, and not just because I am human, but because it’s established early on that without the unobtainium supply—seriously, unobtainium?—all of humanity is pretty much doomed to hell. Yet the audience is meant to support the Na’vi because a ginormous tree got blown up. Avatar, in an attempt to make the Na’vi more sympathetic, failed to expand on the crisis that we humans had inadvertently caused for ourselves. As such, the conflict seemed rather one-sided and flat.
Not to mention, that if Jake had done his damn job instead of having hair sex with Neytiri, the war probably could have been avoided in the first place. Think of all the people who died, both human and Na’vi. Arguably, the humans also would have left the tribe alone after destroying Home Tree if Jake hadn’t decided to launch an attack that the Na’vi were not technologically advanced enough to win.
Yes, the Na’vi were fighting for their home, but the humans were fighting for their survival as a species, and because of that, I couldn’t find it in myself to pity the natives over the plight of humanity. Avatar focused so much on the Na’vi and allowing James Cameron to shove his political statement down everyone’s throats that it forgot to develop the antagonists. I mean, we’re facing extinction, and all humans are portrayed as either tree huggers or complete assholes. Not necessarily wrong; people are assholes, but it came across as completely flat. Avatar strikes me as one of those movies that completely disregards the fact that people go to the theater to be entertained, not preached at.
Katkiller-V’s story addresses what the Earth’s facing, while still keeping most of the fic centering on what’s happening on Pandora. The interludes cut away to Earth, but she addresses the rest of the issue by showing the mining from the humans’ perspectives. They don’t return to Pandora to be assholes. They return to get the unobtainium the fastest and safest way possible so that someday in the future they can still have a home. They don’t want to go to war, or kill Eywa, or start cutting down trees. They want to live, and they’re there on Pandora risking everything in order to give everyone on Earth that same opportunity.
Parker, Norm, Max, and Katrina are the only canon humans in the fic, and Katrina wasn’t really explored that much in the movie for me to really call her canon. And that’s another thing Katkiller-V has done. Not only has she invented numerous characters, she’s taken preexisting characters who had maybe two seconds of screen time and fleshed them out. Katrina is just one example. Another would be Tun’txampay, both Olo’eyktan and Tsahik of that clan with all the Ikran by the sea. She’s pretty prominent in this series, and by far one of my favorite characters. She helps Jake with the second war against the Sky People, and in the sequel, everyone is feeling the effects of the war. The humans are weakened, but they’re there to stay, and though Eywa’s readying for another battle, Tun’txampay, like many others, is sick of war. For the first time, she and Mo’at are questioning whether or not they should follow Eywa, and Tun’txampay—okay, how the hell do you pronounce this?—just cannot figure out the best course of action. She loves Eywa and doesn’t like the Sky People, but the goddess has stripped her of the title as Tsahik for disagreeing to enter a third war. And after she and Jake lead numerous warriors in a civil war against Jake’s son Tsu’tey to stop him from starting that third war, she no longer feels qualified to be an Olo’eyktan either.
This fanfic is really rich. It’s filled with excitement and realism that the original film could never hope to capture, and it fills in a lot of gaps that the movie didn’t. I think one of the reasons Semper Victoria and Semper Furor works so well is because Avatar needed a different cast, or at least a more developed one. Jake, as a main character, added nothing to the story. I guess he was supposed to show us just how important nature is, and teach the audience, while relating to them, how much we should love plants, or something like that.
But Avatar wasn’t set in our world. It was set on Pandora. And the rules there don’t apply here. Yes, the message of the film is good, but Earth works differently from Pandora. We can’t talk to plants. There is no goddess communicating her will to us through a glowing willow. The main moral or lesson should be subtle, so as not to drown out the characters or alienate the audience. In what way are we able to relate to the Na’vi, or to Neytiri and Jake after his character arc—what little of one he had—reaches an end? I maintain that this movie wasn’t so much about a group of people and a religion that requires no faith because they have undeniable proof, but about James Cameron just wanting to throw his own beliefs at the audience.
This is why Katkiller-V’s story works where Avatar doesn’t. It’s great, especially if you’re someone who wants to explore the world of Pandora more or just wants to know what happens next. Katkiller-V obviously went to great lengths to make her fanfic believable and her story and new characters all fit within the world James Cameron brought to us while adding to it.
Check it out here.