Here is my new beginning to my novel:
Melkiand examined the new planet from the safety of the portal. It was hard to tell if it was suitable through the haze of blue light, so he stepped out.
“Hiunte,” he said. The blue square of light sizzled shut.
Melkiand surveyed the area through smoky gray lenses. He glanced down at his handheld. The UVA/UVB rays were low here; low enough for him to remove his goggles. He folded his handheld in half and slipped it into a pocket which sealed itself. He reached up for his goggles just as a large shadow sped out the trees to his right. His upright arms blocked a razor-sharp beak from having a clear shot at his face. As it was, the bird’s eight foot tall head was on par with his own, making it difficult to dodge its thrusting beak. Melkiand stumbled backwards with one arm up, the other trying to unseal individual pockets in search of his weapons.
The bird was shrieking in a high-pitched cry that echoed around the clearing, making Melkiand’s head reverberate. He was abruptly struck in the back by a tree. He stopped fumbling with his cloak long enough to crouch and rolled out between the bird’s long spindly legs.
Upon standing, he hit the release patch on his cloak’s left shoulder, opening all pockets. The bird had whipped around and there was hunger in its eyes. It shrieked again, flapping its absurdly small wings.
Melkiand located his two staffs, pulling them out and snapping his wrists so that they telescoped from six inches to eighteen. The bird shrieked, its “S” shaped neck undulating as its talons clawed the ground, raking up great tufts of earth. Melkiand pressed a release and cords shot out of the ends of the staffs, turning them into two long whips. He cracked the right one at the bird, catching it around the neck. With a grunt, he pulled the whip out to the right, sending the black bird flying across the clearing. It smashed head first into a tree with a crack. It crumpled to the ground in a heap of glossy black feathers.
Melkiand flicked his wrists backwards, causing the whips to retract. He flicked them once more to make them pocket-sized. This time, he kept one in his hand and the other in an interior pocket close to his chest. He approached the dead animal with caution, knowing from experience that creatures on different planets didn’t necessarily die as one might think.
Melkiand nudged it with the toe of his boot, but there was no response. He was pretty sure the sound he heard was the bird’s neck breaking. He crouched to examine it closer. Using his staff to lift the head he examined the beak and how its edges were like the blade of a knife. Perhaps that could be used as a tool, he mused.
Melkiand stood and pulled his handheld out again. He typed in some notes relating to the size, strength and speed of the bird, as well as possible uses of the animal’s various parts. The handheld disappeared back into his pocketed cloak before he headed off into the trees, a little more alert.