Vigilance (2020)

[Original manuscript]

“Malena  was leading the troop along the high wind-scoured spine of the star-shaped dune. It stood slightly higher than its neighbors and afforded an ample view all around. The Sadusi, as always in the desert, walked in single file or “salamander” as they called it. Their numbers could thus be easily disguised from unwelcome pursuit as tracks were laid on top of each other, confusing any would-be trackers. Spying eyes would also not be able to make out numbers from vast and deceptive distances.

Malena heard a distant roar that sounded like a nearby sandfall, but when a’Pash Yat’Duura, the scout behind her, hissed a warning, and called a halt to those following with a quick signal of a raised hand, she knew she was wrong.

The droma behind them snorted uneasily and the mahout whistled and pointed skywards. The source of the roar appeared in the eastern heavens, a bright, white, fiery plume followed by a dark smoke trail was now streaking overhead and plunging deeper and deeper into Wesdraken’s atmosphere. It wasn’t a meteorite – Malena could tell as much from it’s trail – it was mechanical and it’s doomed plunge would lead it to the deep desert they had just left.

“A metal star bird is fallen.” said Yat’Duura. “Shall we follow it’s trail to the sand grave and see if there anything to recover?”

“No, Yat’Duura”, the Devourer is approaching, and we must seek shelter.” answered Malena.

“Tomorrow before the suns rise, I will return to this place and seek what there is to find.”

They turned back and returned to their passage through the dune sea, but deep in Malena’s mind a tiny spark of disquiet was slowly growing…”



Technical aspects: This is where Malena’s story begins chronologically in the “Annals of Malena”. The “star bird” the Sadusi scout refers to is the man’s doomed starship. Malena will investigate and there she will rescue him (the subject of “Desert Rescue”)

The figure of Malena is now largely complete in DAZ Studio and just required a pose that would suit the composition.

I changed her standing pose from the original 2001 image to a crouching one, similar to the pose that soldiers take when patrolling and are alerted to something ahead that might be a threat.

The Sadusi male scout behind Malena is a combination of a DAZ3D Genesis 8 Male with lots of morphs and tweaks. The weapon he carries is actually two samurai katanas joined to each other. The clothing was created with Marvelous Designer.

The droma in the background is a low-resolution dinosaur base that I imported into 3D-Coat and sculpted into a low-resolution version of the creature I created originally for “Making Ready”.

The dune that they are all standings on was also sculpted in 3D-Coat. That took the most time because the composition required precise positioning and texturing.

The sky and background dunes were composited in afterwards from various images I have collected from the Moroccan desert.

I am often teased by my wife (also an accomplished artist) that I put far too much detail in my work, because most of the detail is lost when I over-paint it with my Wacom tablet. (I guess I am a little OCD.) Even though the detail is gone. It is still present in my mind when I paint it.

Worlds in the Making