For the last few months I have been working on an alien story: Crashed in the Outlands
As I usually do, I commissioned an artist from DeviantArt to create the cover for me. This helps me visualize the characters and get a clear picture of the overall story.
In the story, an alien woman named Ida is on board a freight ship with her brother, and a mixture of other species of aliens. One of the hairy, barbaric passengers catch her eye. He is tall, muscular, and very keen eyed as he stares back at her.
Here's a sample:
Something draws near. The colorful, leafy plants along the forest floor shuffle with some large thing moving through them. My chest tightens. Is it some animal, hearing the crash and coming to plunder? I have no defense against whatever approaches.
A thick brown arm pushes aside a yellow plant. A man steps forward. The same man from the ship, and his eyes lift directly to me.
I flush with relief, but it is momentary. In truth I do not know him, the barbarian who occupied the bio bay near us. He steps forward, gazing up at my pod suspended in the tree. What will he do?
“Are you hurt?” the man calls up to me, walking over crushed sticks and leaves across the ground, bits of the tree that must have fallen when my pod crashed into it.
“Listen, it's not too far of a drop.” He stops directly below me. “Just let go and I will catch you.”
I hesitate. He looks strong enough to be able to catch me without problem, but... I do not know if I can trust him. Now that he is here, however, I will soon be on the ground with him either way. I would rather not have a sprained ankle or broken leg when we meet.
“It's alright.” He calls up when it has been a few moments. His voice is genuine, not impatient, which surprises me coming from such a brute. “Just let go.”
He's holding out his large, muscular arms, crisscrossed with veins and lightly splattered with that dark hair. I harden my resolve, not that I really want those arms to touch me, but I do not want to be dangling from this capsule any longer, either.
I let go... but I do not fall. My left wrist is still wedged between the frame and the dislodged door. Pain flares when my attention moves to it. I hiss through my teeth.
I try to rotate it free, but the weight of my body traps it between the metal.
“I'm stuck.” The words come out strained, but the man understands me. He steps to the side to try to see.
“I will climb up to help you.”
Walking to the tree trunk, he removes several large packs and an gray object, a third the length of his body, which I realize is a weapon when he sets it down. He gazes at the tree, staging his route. Many vines cover the trunk and dangle from the branches, so it will not be impossible, but it will be difficult to climb. He reaches his hand for the vine when a great creak snaps across the branch holding my capsule.
The man startles, as much as I do, holding in horror a moment, waiting to see if it will fall. I will be crushed beneath the metal capsule if it does. The tree groans and the bow sways.
“Shit, just hold on.”
Jumping onto the trunk, the man starts to climb with a swiftness I did not know was possible for a tall-standing being. His muscular arms reach, grasp, and pull up his thick form with such ease, he must have been built for such purposes.
The capsule shifts and catches on the branches, painfully jerking my arm. I grasp the edge with my right hand, trying to pull myself enough to ease my wrist free, but my left arm shakes with pain from the effort.
To my side I notice the man has reached the breaking bow, and he grabs onto it without hesitation. Grasping the sides of the bow with his thick hands, he swings his body closer.
The capsule starts to slide, raining down splinters of broken branches.
I pull harder with my right hand, trying desperately to free myself. There is movement beside me, and suddenly the man's hand closes around mine. He pulls my wrist free with a swift nudge, then lifts my arm over his shoulder.
The capsule is sliding down on top of us. I grasp around his neck, weakly with my left arm. He reaches up, grasping the bow, swinging like he did before. I try to hold on, feeling his skin is hot and slick with sweat. The bow he holds splinters. He moves quicker, with an unbelievable burst of strength, and we reach the tree trunk. With a thrust of his legs, he propels us on a vine to the other side of the tree, and onto a steady branch.
His arms are around me as the capsule crashes, taking half the tree with it. The whole thing hits the ground with a plume of smoke and green and blue leaves.
As the debris slowly settles, so does my racing heart. It takes me a few moments to realize he still holds me, steadying me against the tree trunk.
I look up to his slick, strong face. He is catching his breath, but does not seem nearly as rattled as I feel.
“Are you alright?” His voice, this close, is rich and smooth. It makes my body keep trembling, but for a different reason. When I don't answer he looks me over, lightly rubbing his hand down my arms, over my back, then my legs. I should be offended with him touching me without permission, but it does not bother me. When his fingers run over my wrist, I wince. It is dripping a steady stream of my life fluid.
I know there is a wound, but I do not want to look at it. I turn away as he takes out a cloth from his pocket and tightly wraps it.
“This will hold it for a while.” He squeezes my shoulder to get my attention. I meet his intense gaze.
His green eyes have striations of blue and gray, so vivid it holds my breath. I have never seen eye designs such as these in an off worlder. Which, I have never been so close to one either.
“You saved my life.”
He gives me a little space, out of respect, and lowers his head. This, by his mannerisms, means that I do not have to thank him.
“Let me help you down.” He offers his hand. “It will be a lot slower this time, I promise.”
I have a gotten a lot of inspiration for this story from sci fi drawings of alien worlds:
And I have also found inspiration in carnivorous and strange plants found on Earth:
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