“Malena led her 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 dromas behind then snorted uneasily and their mahouts chattered 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 dying,” said Yat’Duura. “Shall we follow it’s trail to its grave in the sand?”
“No, Yat’Duura”, the Devourer is nearing, 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 image is intended to be the first chronologically in the series of the “Annals of Malena”. The “star bird” is Braedan’s doomed starship that Malena will investigate, and there she will rescue him.
The droma animals were modeled completely from scratch using Rhino 3D, and then made posable for use in Poser. (A more primitive version can be seen in “Making Ready”)
The Sadusi are standard Poser figures with morph targets and custom textures and bump maps. The headgear of Malena and the Sadusi were modeled using Rhino 3D and UVMapper. The sand dune texture was created with Bryce’s Deep Texture Editor, and was based on some photos I had of the dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. The smoke trail is a volumetric texture, heavily tweaked in the Deep Texture Editor.
Apart from a few minor touch-ups on the joints, the head gear and the wind-blown sand effect, the final image is what Bryce produced. The final BR3 file was over 120Mb big, and brought my 256Mb RAM Pentium III 800 to a standstill during the final tweaking stages.