From Never Taste Death:
“I was a young man when I first saw otherworlders!”
As if on a stage, General Parker Alton paced the length of a fallen tree. Ex-D soldiers were packed close together below him. Though they had surely heard this story before, they were listening intently, amped, inspired.
It was for the sake of the White Planet that he retold this story. Druids were scattered through the crowd, more concentrated toward the back. They were not so spellbound by Alton’s wizened smile and piercing eyes. However, he had their attention.
“I was walking a university campus late at night,” Alton said, “when across the courtyard, there was a bright tear in space! You wouldn’t believe the things that came out of that portal. They attacked a local party. Nearly everyone there was slaughtered!”
As the Ex-D soldiers nodded and hummed their accord, Alton rubbed his face grimly. It was as if he could see the massacre. “I managed to hide long enough to hear or see most of it. Then there was a strange whistle. All those creatures went flying back to their leader. It stood by the open portal. It appeared to be a woman. But only morons judge by appearances!”
A cheer went up. From his place beneath an oak tree, the head druid Finnian Byrne clapped. The other druids joined in passionately. Only the plaything at Byrne’s side, a Chippewa girl in a thin white dress, seemed to hesitate. Ember Monroe’s grin was as wide as anyone’s, but her smile was calculated. She had learned to smile to survive.
Alton continued, “That is why it was so necessary for me to form the Ex-D, an underground movement that refuses to ignore the danger. And thank God, we’ve been successfully guarding the human worlds for over twenty years!”
“Of course, if you don’t kill them, they come back with friends, they drain the planet of all its resources. In these last twenty years, I have seen intruders take many forms! Here in Lenovra, they’ve disguised themselves as mythical creatures from our fairytales. Ex-D, can you imagine what it must be like for the White Planet, forced to share their home with these culture-appropriating creatures? I can’t even tell you how many I’ve seen that look just like human children. And dealing with that – those are tough images to live with!”
The Ex-D nodded grimly. Some of them had tears in their eyes.
Alton’s voice rose sharply. “But dimension hoppers are not human!”
“No!” someone shouted.
“I met one in the form of a teenaged girl, a shorty with auburn hair and green eyes. It had a little scratch across one cheek. It probably didn’t come up to my shoulder, but it was a ruthless, sadistic little thing. Even though I was fully armed, it managed to take my hand!”
He waved his bionic hand in front of the audience. Momentarily, he took on a more casual air. “When you cut me, I bleed,” he shrugged. “When you cut her, she bleeds green!”
The White Planet murmured. The Fae they were driving out of Lenovra had green blood, too.
“I’m so grateful to the scientists and technicians who built me a new hand, and they are working hard to get around the interference field, too, but can I be honest with you all for a moment? I miss my real hand.” He gave the audience a moment to empathize. “And if we are going to capture and study a hopper, what better candidate than the one who mutilated me?”
Alton signaled to a pair of subordinates. They began passing around fliers as he continued, “For the most part, we will still be operating according to kill-on-sight procedure, but if at all possible, we would like this one captured alive and delivered straight to my top men for study.”
Ember wiggled under the grip of Finnian Byrne, trying to get comfortable – and farther from him. His grip on her wrist tightened painfully. She went limp, still smiling as if to say all was well. He smiled back at her. It was the smile of a man who felt he was in complete control.
When the fliers reached the back of the group, Ember peered over Byrne’s shoulder. She saw a rendering similar to the girl creature Alton had described. The bold letters exhorted:
First off, I love the use of color in the background! There's something about the bright and dark greens in there that make it so delightfully eerie. The small splotches of orange-red in some of the trees also really balances it out, so it doesn't just look entirely green, and thus makes the brighter parts pop all the more. So good job on that! Honestly, I don't think I have any complaints about the background at all. There's some small spacing issues, but since the subject in the picture is the two characters, it doesn't really show as much. Plus, the texture of the trees is really nice.
As for the characters, I have a tiny bit of an issue with the lighting on them. Where exactly is the light source? I get the impression that it's slightly above and coming from the right, but also from the left side, and a bit below the characters, which... might be bounce lighting? It's very confusing to me, and I think it kind of takes away from the drawing. The girl's face looks pretty good, but the man's face looks... somewhat off... and the lighting definitely doesn't help with that impression. I think you might have been trying to backlight the image? Which would be cool and suitably creepy, definitely. I recommend though that you try and set up a reference picture and light it with difficult light like this. Even some vague shapes with kneaded erasers lit with your lamp will work, as long as it can give you the general idea! Reference always helps with difficulties, so it's always worth a try.
Overall, I can see how hard you tried when you drew this. Keep up the good work and keep drawing!