The image above is a thumbnail sketch of a proposed cover design for Moon 514 by Grant Hansen.
Below is an extract of Moon 514 that features the enigmatic alien who will be featured on the cover:
The magic woman lay awake, eyes closed but ears acutely attuned to the soft patter of rain, the plodding of flying insects grounded by the moisture, the occasional splashing from mammals shaking water off their soaked fur, the croaking of various species of frogs, and the musical sounds of exotic birds calling to one another. Her large waterlogged eyelashes threatened not to open because of the extra water weight but she soon had her eyes carefully slit to observe her environment without moving. Nothing unusual, she observed. Frogs, lizards, snakes, monkeys, and several other critters moved around in apparent silence, their sound covered by the white noise sloshing all around them. This was her new home.
She grabbed some berries next to where she lay and passed them to her mouth with her tail, greedily absorbing the succulent flavors of the local delicacies. Her environment safe, her consciousness surfacing more clearly each moment, and her rested muscles ready for movement, she sat up and considered her plans for the day as she continued to ingest berries by the dozens. For other species in this jungle, it was a dangerous thing to lay next to a berry bush to sleep but for those on the top of the pecking order, it was less foolhardy.
But neither was it risk free.
Although local creatures recognized her as the top predator in the area, she still had to be wary as sleeping predators can also be considered prey by those with the disposition to think so. And with so many new species created by the rogue gene splicing team, there really was no security based on status here in the deep jungles of Borneo. She constantly monitored the movement of life and energy around her; it kept her safe.
Not yet ready to stand up, she began her daily routine of meditating while stretching. Legs split, face resting on the ground, and arms pointed behind her and towards the sky, she held her tail while carefully and methodically breathing in a regular, rhythmic fashion. After several moments, she shifted position until she was stretched into a similarly odd pose and continued focusing on her breathing. The air was habitually moist but today, especially dense fog left her feeling like she was breathing in whole swallows of water – and the heat was nearly unbearable. Her glowing, shining skin glistened more than normal under these conditions but she was too focused to notice that – all she noticed was that it took extra focus to run through her routine under these uncomfortable conditions.
But then, food was plentiful here and the environment was beautiful – though dangerously and deceptively so – so she did her best to enjoy her surroundings.
Today was the day she expected this new world to communicate to her. She had spent moons here – many moons – learning everything she could about this new environment and all of its inhabitants, its patterns, its pulse, its energy. Now, it was time to learn its thoughts.
As she sat upright, she pushed her arms behind her back once again, twisting around one another more than looked natural. Her waist also twisted awkwardly, angling over her left hip. As she held that position, the magic woman felt a disturbance in the energy around her and looked up – only to see a large crocodile methodically edging towards her. She wouldn’t have named it so and she wouldn’t have named an alligator either but she recognized the difference – and she could recognize that this particular creature was especially large and boasted features that suggested genetic manipulations: spikes decorated its backside in two rows much like one would expect from certain species of extinct dinosaurs. Its tail boasted spikes and an edged tip as well. Apart from these modifications, the woman could not quickly detect anything unusual about this beast – but other modifications were there.
She sang to it.
A short little tune, she hummed and sang a simple melody and countermelody in harmony with herself, using both of her vocal chords and the secondary flap in her throat to make soothing, fluttery sounds.
But it didn’t work.
The beast continued creeping towards her as if it had no ears whatsoever.
Hard hearted, she observed. Typical of these mutated abominations, she groaned to herself. LEAVE! she telepathically ordered the beast.
But still, it continued moving towards her.
She swathed her eyelashes a few extra times, unwanted water dripping into her eyes and then washing away. She glanced into the canopy of moss covered trees and then around the grounds far away from her, observing several creatures watching from above. Some monkeys were raising a warning call and a few species of birds were making similarly frantic noises – some of them flying away. Bear witness, she thought, satisfied that half of the visible jungle was watching.
Still sitting cross-legged, she bent her torso towards the ground, raised her arms to her side until they were above her back, bent her fingers into a claw-like position, extended her nails, raised her head towards the mutant croc, exposed her canine teeth, glowered with her eyes, and hissed at the creature, using both sets of vocal chords to create an ominous, scratchy, breathy sound.
But that was not all. That was just for show. Her mind was the key here. She sent psionic blasts of great pain towards the beast with relentless efforts. The croc offered a horrific groan – or perhaps a growl – and slashed its tail wildly towards its unseen attacker. Run! she instructed the beast with visual imagery of itself turning and moving away from her.
And it did: it ran – or at least, it scuttled back and forth very quickly like giant crocs are prone to do.
She patiently waited for the creature to be far enough away from her to be assured that it no longer represented any danger before shifting her body out of the threatening pose she had fashioned a few moments before. Then, she found an especially relaxing position, closed her eyes, and absorbed the energy of nature all around her. She closed her ears with flaps unique to her alien body, relaxed all of her muscles, and attuned herself to the earth. She allowed herself to feel the sludgy earth beneath her legs as she gently slid them into a more perfectly comfortable position, noting the tiny scratches from pebbles and dissolving bits of organic materials that were still hard. She allowed herself to feel droplets of rain trail from her collar bones down to her navel and then to the ground; she felt other droplets trail from her shoulders to her elbows to the ground. She allowed herself to feel the slight breeze moving among the underbrush and she allowed herself to lose awareness of the many creatures that were crawling around in the canopy above – all she would listen to was the earth itself.
Two hours she sat motionless.
She did not count the time however. One cannot rush nature; one can only invite it.
And when it was ready, it spoke to her. …