The Wings Take Shape – Part Twelve

A fight is a-brewing today on the continuation of The Wings Take Shape, Part Twelve!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Previously on Wings, Jonathan tried to skinchange back into his human form, but Stalker, the cougar, refused to let him change once she found out that his Aunt Sadie was the abomination that had betrayed her and the other Totems so long ago, vowing to end the abomination’s life once and for all.

Meanwhile, Renee and Marie argued with Sadie, Jon’s ant, about what she could possibly do to help the war effort. They came to no solid conclusions except that Sadie was hesitant to even try for the sake of her Smokeshifting children. When at last Marie felt she was getting through to the woman, Sadie sensed Stalker’s presence drawing close, and felt that a conflict was coming.

Read on for more…

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Twelve – Totem Wrath

by Rick Cook Jr.

Stalker approached and she wasn’t alone. She had gathered to her every cougar in the Red Forest she could find, and followed the trail of Jon’s mate until she found the abomination’s next.

Except it wasn’t the creature. Not… entirely.

Something was different. He smelled different. And there were children.

Jon had tried explaining it inside their shared mind, but she refused to listen until now.

What has happened to the abomination, Jonathan? Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Eleven

It’s Tuesday and you know by now that means it’s time for another entry in the serial novella The Wings Take Shape!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Previously on Wings, Captain Renee Mollen and her Winged Riders sought the village of Panagin’s Toll, Sadie the Skinchanger’s home. They found Sadie in a redwood den outside of town, much like the cadshee before her.

Jon, struggling against the Skinchanger form of Stalker and her ability to wrest control of her mind and body, tried to Change back to a human once he tracked down Renee and her Wings. Stalker had been cordial leading up to the moment he attempted to become human again, and she discovered that Sadie was a creature of smoke and oil. She roared and took control of him once more, fleeing into the forest intent on ending the creature of shadow and smoke once and for all. She called it the deceiver, a thief.

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Eleven – Abomination

by Rick Cook Jr

The entire village huddled beneath the redwood’s roots. Sadie’s den was much homier than the cadshee’s from several years back, but it was still under the earth and the people were scared.

Marie didn’t like it. She hated it, in fact. Renee conferred with Sadie somewhere out of sight while Marie and Regina took care of the soldiers and civilians. They rested peacefully for the first time in days. Wounds were cleaned and bandages changed. Stories told. The Winged Riders, having been at the capital when it was falling, had much to tell the citizenry of Panagin’s Toll. Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Ten

It’s Tuesday and the ongoing adventures of the Winged Riders continues with Part Ten!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last time on The Wings Take Shape, the Skinchanger Jon struggled with the form known as Stalker, a cougar. When taking the form to protect his squad from a night raid, he lost control and Stalker killed their Scout, Thomas Irons. He managed to control Stalker long enough to flee, leaving the Winged Riders to be captured.

Captain Renee Mollen and her Winged Riders escaped and fled to Sadie Sawyer Paige, looking for any advantage they could find, and her Smokeshifting ability was a big one. She found Sadie and learned that Jon may be lost to Stalker.

Meanwhile, Jon fought the will of Stalker, sometimes losing control of his body and his mind, sometimes gaining it back and forcing her will to his. He fought her when she suggested he kill innocent children just to feed, and fled back into the forest, intent on finding Renee and the others so he could shed his form and ask forgiveness.

On to Part Ten!

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Ten – Conflicting Thoughts

by Rick Cook Jr.

Stalker, Jon thought. He was in the Red Forest, creeping along, following the trail of Renee and the Winged Riders. His companion was silent.

Stalker, he prodded again. I know you can hear me talking.

Stalker bristled. You choose interesting words for what we do.

He snarled at a pack of wolves and they backed away from their hunt.

We can’t keep fighting for control like this.

Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Nine

If you’ve been impatiently waiting to find out what happened to Jon, well, this is your Tuesday! It’s time for the next part of my serial novella The Wings Take Shape!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Previously, the last known Winged Riders and free soldiers of an empire under siege were taken captive. Jon turned into a cougar using his Skinchanging ability, killed with reckless abandon, and fled into the night.

The other Winged Riders, under Captain Renee Mollen, managed to escape and head for Jon’s aunt, Sadie, also a Skinchanger and something a little more than that these days. On the way there, wild cougars attacked and Jon came to their rescue, but he couldn’t Skinchange back to a human and fled into the night once more.

Renee tracked down Sadie in the hollow root-system of an old redwood, much like the cadshee had lived in before during their earlier trials against the monster.

Now we head back a ways and find out just what happened with Jon while he was Changed into Stalker, the Cougar.

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Nine – Stalker

by Rick Cook Jr.

Jon was losing the fight. The struggle with Stalker had begun the moment he panicked and turned into her. Bodies fell, and he wasn’t in control. He’d always sensed something different about her. Something wild and untamed. Where the others were merely forms to take, Stalker always felt like a different voice in his head.

And she was angry at being so contained.

He fought back against her when she tore open Scout Irons’s throat, forced her to flee into the Bloody Wood.

The taste of Thomas’s blood down his throat was victory. It was pleasing. It haunted his steps. He couldn’t go back to them. Not now they knew what he was. After what he’d done. Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Eight

Tuesday comes along, and with the dawning of this day, new words form up into a story for you to drink up like water in a desert.

Another chapter of The Wings Take Shape is coming at you!

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last week, Captain Renee Mollen and her Winged Riders hid in the bloody wood, the Red Forest, seeking shelter for a little rest in the dangerous forest. Renee was worried about Jon, who had turned into a cougar in front of everyone, revealing his Skinchanger nature and violently murdering Renee’s Scout Irons in his rage and escape. She took to calling for him in the woods, but he didn’t appear.

Sergeant Marie Mollen, Renee’s twin sister, came to Renee and discussed their future and the wisdom in seeking Sadie out knowing that her nephew Jon’s fate was uncertain. The twinner bond they shared was weakening just as they needed it most, but once it starts to go, it is said nothing can be done.

Farsight Poul saw something in the woods creeping upon them, and a pack of cougars set upon them, snarling and ready to attack, but a larger cougar, what must have been Jon, scared them away.

He attempted to Change back to his normal human form, but it failed midway and he fled back into the bloody wood, still a cougar, still wild. They pressed on to find Sadie and hopefully some help.

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Eight – Sadie Skinchanger

by Rick Cook Jr.

Another town burned to the ground. Renee was sick of the sight. She brought her Wings to the edge of the bloody wood and they stared at the smoldering wreckage of Sadie’s village.

Marie’s fingers clenched around Renee’s arm. “Is she dead?” she whispered.

“As hard as she fought to keep herself alive against the cadshee? I doubt it.” Renee pulled her arm free and tugged on the reins, making her horse follow into the village square. The rest of Renee’s Wings and recruits came soon after.

It smelled only of charred wood and linen. No scents of burning flesh. No bodies to speak of. That was good. Where had Sadie gone? Had she taken the townsfolk to safety? Her children? Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Seven

Another chapter is here for your viewing pleasure! Part Seven of The Wings Take Shape is coming at you.

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last week, Captain Renee Mollen and her squad were taken captive by foreign soldiers at the trading town Danver’s Table. Amidst questioning, Renee distracted their guards long enough for her twin sister, Sergeant Marie Mollen, and her adopted Sergeant Regina Hughes to free themselves and mount a rescue of the rest of their Winged Riders.

They free the Wings and take control of Danver’s Table, and in the ensuing discussions, Renee presses all the able-bodied men, women, and teenagers into service under her Winged Riders. If they want to be protected, they can help protect.

They have decided to flee for the home of Sadie Sawyer Paige, Jon’s aunt and wife to Jeffrey Paige, a Winged Rider in Captain Claire Claymonte’s employ. Sadie is a Skinchanger of a different ilk, having absorbed the powers of the cadshee, shifting into any form at will. If she still lives and they can find her, Sadie may prove a capable ally in the coming conflict.

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Seven – Shadow of the Cadshee

by Rick Cook Jr.

They fled south and west, taking every backwater trail the twins could muster, trying to avoid the main arteries of the empire’s roads. Twice in their desperate, exhausted flight they had run the horses ragged fleeing foreign patrols and taken sanctuary in the bloody wood. And both times they had slept little or not at all.

Marie certainly hadn’t caught more than an hour’s rest. Between Renee’s worry infecting her and Private Wander trying to cozy up to her despite their desperate circumstances, and a needling feel that eyes watched them in the Red Forest, sleep was an old friend gone a long time.

It was her imagination or it wasn’t for that last worry. Maybe it was Jon? Renee patrolled the border of their encampment, calling to him when she thought no one could hear. Wherever the fool had gone, he wasn’t coming back right now. And even as she thought of Renee she realized something else.

Their twinner bond was weakening. Continue reading

The Wings Take Shape – Part Six

Tuesday has arrived and with it another chapter in the epic tale of The Winged Riders as they struggle against a great force, seeking to take back the empire that was stolen.

If you’re new to the story, head to Part One and start from the beginning!

Last week, morale was low in Captain Renee Mollen’s Winged Riders as they searched the countryside for any signs of life capable of joining her on her insane mission to retake the capital. They came upon a village still standing at long last, Danver’s Table, and got their bearings from the leader of the town, Danver Jr.

They bedded down for the night in the town’s common building, only to be taken prisoner once they were asleep. In the scuffle, Jon turned into a cougar, losing control of himself and killing their scout as he fled, disappearing into the Red Forest.

What will the Winged Riders do?

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The Wings Take Shape

Part Six – Traitors

by Rick Cook Jr.

Renee spat blood she wasn’t bleeding. The traitors worked over her Sergeants in the small tent they’d set aside special, just for the commanding officers. Every time Marie took a blow to the stomach, or the face, Renee winced at the phantom pain from their bond. Marie was strong. Of course she was, and they’d all had training in how to take a beating, how to survive torture.

But it was too much. Too much for Renee to bear. She cried out, “Enough! You will stop this instant or I will see you hanged for it.”

The townsfolk – bloody bastards – grinned at her over their shoulders. She didn’t know these two men, but it didn’t matter. Traitors were punished and when she got free, Renee would see them all in stocks. Continue reading