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 Post subject: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:45 am 
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1st October 2014, 05:35

With well over an hour till sunrise, it was still dark when Telford arrived at the trailhead, only a slight, almost imperceptible lightening in the sky to the east to hint that the night might finally be nearing its end. Even as early as he was, though, he found he wasn't the first. There was already another car parked there at the end of the lot near the start of the trail, and he glanced over at it as he slotted his own vehicle in a couple of spaces away.

Though it was still early October, the altitude and the hour put a brisk nip in the air when he opened the SUV's door, and he inhaled deeply with a smile. It might be thin and a little chilly, but it was also fresh and clean, carrying the scents of the mountains. And cold didn't bother him any more than heat did. He ran regularly, in a wide variety of climates, he was used to it.

Stepping out, he bumped the door shut with his hip and beeped the locks with the remote fob before stashing the key in a small, inner pocket of his warmup jacket designed for just that purpose. He hated having things bouncing around poking and chafing when he ran, and his practical engineer's mind had long since solved the problems of keeping all his gear in place. Some, like the pocket, he'd created himself. Others, like the bellyband holster for the Ruger LCP, he'd simply bought. No need to reinvent the wheel, after all.

Rolling his shoulders to loosen them, the agent strolled over toward the start of the trail to begin stretching out. Just as he reached the sign, he heard the crunch of tires on gravel and a pair of headlights swept across him as another car arrived.


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:53 am 
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Driving up towards the gravel lot that marked the start of one of her favourite trails, Mere stifled a yawn. It was still dark out; the sky would begin to glow with pre-dawn light in about 40 minutes, but for now it was straddling inky darkness and fluorescent glow from the lights in the town below.

A small part of her, most likely her feet, had wanted to stay in bed until 7, and then get up and prepare for duty. The majority ruled however, and Mere had battled out of the comforter and gotten up, dressed and out of the door for her tri weekly run.

Taking the turn off the main road, Mere caught sight of a lone figure up ahead and slowed down to a crawl as she parked a space or two down from the two vehicles already parked. Safety rule number one, even if you were a military trained female, you didn’t park miles away from other people who could intervene if your badass self-defence skills weren’t enough.

Sliding out of the car, she tugged on the thin thermal lined gloves and hat to complete her simple ensemble, leggings, long sleeve top with t shirt on top, and running shoes. Tucking the car keys into the fanny pack that sat around her waist, Mere ensured they were secure in their own pocket, where they couldn’t get in the way if she grabbed for the stun gun she also had stashed in there. The trails could be pretty deserted at this time in the morning, and a stun gun would take down or at least deter most of the likely things that would try jumping her out here, be if man or beast.

She moved towards the head of the trail, jogging lightly on the spot to loosen back up before she started to stretch fully. She slowed a little as she noticed the figure her beams had illuminated was still where he’d been a few moments before, although he seemed to be doing his own thing.

Stopping a few arm lengths away, Mere started to stretch, balancing on one leg as she pulled the other one up to rest heel on backside for the count of ten, before swapping over. Looking the man over she decided to try for friendly, especially considering she didn’t often see a lot of people on this trail, this early.

“Morning”

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"You'll shoot him, I'll save him, they'll question him and everyone goes home happy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:20 am 
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With his usual mix of curiosity and caution, Telford watched the new arrival out of the corner of his eye while he went through his own slightly-idiosyncratic stretching routine. Starting with flexing and rotating his ankles, he moved to calf raises as the car pulled into a slot a space away from his own. Good positioning, the agent noted with offhand approval. Close enough for the protection of numbers to apply, but far enough to see a blitz attack coming in time to prepare.

As he crossed his legs to begin the bends and twists to loosen up his IT bands, he slid into one of his favorite mental games, seeing what he could suss out about a total stranger. Those were factors typically taken under consideration by those with self-defense training, be it civilian or civilian law-enforcement, or military. Given the proximity of both the Air Force Academy and Cheyenne Mountain, military was a good possibility, but he reserved judgement pending further data.

There was some weak illumination at the trailhead and along the trail, provided by widely-spaced and under-wattage lights. It was little more than enough to keep you from colliding with obstacles like rocks or other runners, but he felt somewhat spotlit by it, and he was aware of the new arrival using it to assess him. Not that he minded, returning the favor when she jogged into its circle. She stopped a safe distance away, beginning her own stretching, and her comfortably upright posture made him settle on military.

Then she glanced over and offered a friendly greeting, and Telford straightened up with a cheerful smile. "Good morning," he replied. "Chilly, eh?"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:50 pm 
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Having gotten close enough to get a decent look, Mere took note that he was older than he had seemed from back across the lot. Evidently in his early forties at the latest, his build and how he was warming up indicated that he knew what he was doing, either a regular runner, or someone use to PT. She hadn’t served with every member of the forces stationed at the S.G.C, but she knew most of the major players, and he didn’t look familiar. Plus there was the whole etiquette, meets confidentiality clause that prevented her out and out saying 'Hey, do you work down on the base!'

He didn’t ignore her greeting, which was a good sign. Meant he had manners, and was probably less likely to be a complete psych loony out to butcher himself a poor unsuspecting girl, although Mere had read enough crime books to know that he could just be a charming psychopath.

“Getting to be that way, have to start running lower down the mountain when the snow starts to come in” Weather talk, the fall back conversation basic for anyone making small talk with someone they had nothing else to talk about with.

"I've not seen you up here before? First time on this trail?" Mere posed the question as she shifted her position to stretch out her sides, legs spread and arm pulled up and over her head. It was double motived chit chat, it filled the silence and made the morning stillness less creepy, and it allowed her to try and ascertain a little more about the new guy. It was fun game to try and figure someone out, and it was something she hadnt had chance to do in a little while.

Rolling her shoulders to loosen them, Mere could feel the cool air already starting to prickle along her face, and knew that when she got back to the car after her run, her nose would be pink from both the chill and the exertion. Still, colder weather meant she didn’t sweat nearly as much, which was a bonus when she was due on shift at 8am.

Limbered up and ready to go, Mere bounced on the spot, deliberating whether to run on and put the stranger on her six, or to wait for him to move on and follow him. Deciding that she was capable of handling herself in case it all got a bit hairy, she set off at a gentle pace, more of a fast walk to start with, a side effect of being 5ft 6, the lack of leg to get going quickly.

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"You'll shoot him, I'll save him, they'll question him and everyone goes home happy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:30 pm 
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Finishing up with a few torso rotations and arm stretches to loosen up his upper body, Telford mentally noted and approved her caution and the way she was subtly and carefully feeling him out. He'd known a few men who chose to be offended at being viewed as potential axe-murderers until proven otherwise, but he didn't hold with that kind of foolishness. It would be nice if the world were populated entirely by saints, but the reality was that monsters existed, and they didn't come wrapped in hockey masks for easy identification. The occasional cold shoulder was a small price to pay for even one fewer shallow graves.

"I've not seen you up here before? First time on this trail?"


Telford nodded. "First time in Colorado Springs, actually," he answered. "I've never been stationed here before," he added, curious to see what she'd make of that. "My loss -- it's beautiful country."

Stretching done, with his muscles warm and flexible and the blood now tingling in his veins, the agent moved over to join his fellow early bird at the start of the trail proper. She was taking it slow, probably preferring -- understandably -- not to have him at her back. Since he had perhaps half a foot on her, with the accompanying greater stride length, if he wanted to ride her six he'd have to be obvious about it.

"Any quirks about the trail I should know?" he asked, pulling up next to her, but maintaining a polite distance. "Potholes, mud slicks, rampaging bears?"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:33 pm 
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Her head 45 degrees to her left side, Mere regarding the man from her odd angle as he answered her question, offering a little more information about himself than she’d expected. He was assessing her just as much as she was him, and Mere couldn’t help but smile a little as she considered if he’d thrown in about being stationed because he’d decided she was military, or if he actually was and this was his way of breaking the ice.

Righting herself and then repeating her stretch on the opposite side Mere made a judgement call to play ignorant for just a little bit longer and see if she could get some more information from him before deciding to let her guard down.

“Stationed? Oh are you with the Air Force?” Cheyenne was known to the outside world as NORAD and nothing more, the public probably couldn’t handle the fact there was a device in the basement that broke the understood laws of physics and provided access to aliens, and not just the little grey ones either.

Once more upright Mere had set to work on her upper body, loosening the small knot that had built in her back on the drive up. “Yeah, it’s really lovely here – It’s a lot more picturesque than Illinois that’s for sure” She tossed the last part in, partly as a test to see if he was paying attention to the conversation, and also as a reward for him giving up a little bit of info himself.

As her pace moved from fast walk, to slow jog Mere noticed that he’d come up on her left although her was out of reach from her by a good arm length and a half –smart man.
“There’s a few rocks, the wet leaves are a little icy” Speeding up a little bit as she got into the familiar motions of the run, Mere stopped talking as she jumped over a tree root that had burst free of the earth, poised to trip the unsuspecting, “Trip hazards like that one – The bears aren’t often about this early, but I’d keep an eye out anyway – They’re eating anything at the moment before they bed down for the winter” Grinning broadly, Mere turned her head to face the mystery runner, “You reckon you can out run a bear?”

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"You'll shoot him, I'll save him, they'll question him and everyone goes home happy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:30 pm 
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“Stationed? Oh are you with the Air Force?”

"In a way," Telford said, resisting the urge to tilt his own head so he would be looking at her from the same angle. "I'm with OSI." Another breadcrumb dropped, he thought, enjoying the conversation immensely. Unlike a certain other federal law enforcement agency he – along with practically everyone else in the country -- could name, the Office of Special Investigations didn't have a hit tv series. Anyone who recognized the initials was probably either Air Force or a fellow LEO of some sort.

“Yeah, it’s really lovely here – It’s a lot more picturesque than Illinois that’s for sure”

Telford chuckled. "I'll have to take your word for that. Never been there, either, sorry to say. Though I've been thinking of taking a leisurely drive down the Great River Road someday – if I can ever put enough days off together end-to-end." Lacking a wife or kids, he'd rapidly become the on-call-for-the-holidays and drop-everything-and-fly-to-outer-bumfuck-right-now guy. Which he didn't mind, it just made reservations problematic.

His fellow-jogger's warning of the trail's particular hazards came as he took an extra little bounce to hurdle a dark patch he didn't like the looks of, and he grinned back at her question about bears. "Well," he said, "you know what they say – don't have to outrun the bear, just the other guy." His dark eyes twinkled with amusement. "Though that doesn't sound very chivalrous when the other guy isn't a guy."


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:21 am 
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OSI

Well wasn’t that a turn for the books, interest piqued, Mere worked hard on keeping her face neutral to nothing more than a slight smile as she had continued on with her stretches.

“That’s a hell of a drive, but worth it I reckon” Mere found the conversation easier now she was loosened up, perhaps the stretching had done more than release physical tension from her body. She considered for a moment giving up on the charade of careful questioning, but thought better of it. Truth was she rarely got to meet people who outside of uniform, and she wasn’t about to mentally put herself back in it whilst she was technically off duty.

Laughing out loud as he replied to her question with the time tested funny answer, Mere almost missed a step and had to do a half hop to avoid a puddle that had iced over. It probably would have cracked if she’d stepped on it, but then she would have to deal with soggy feet, or the potential that the ice would have been thick enough to withstand and she’d of slipped over.

“Don’t get eaten by a bear on account of chivalry, get eaten because this girl out ran you”
Speeding up just a little now she was in the motion of it, Mere kept her pace even and slower than her normal run time. She didn’t normally have a running partner, or someone to converse with and had a feeling that her normal speed would inhibit the ability to hold a conversation.

“Although if I am going to leave you to get eaten by said bear, I should at least know your name” Decision made that he was, at least for the moment, relatively harmless, Mere figured that the likelihood of them bumping into each other down on the base, which she was pretty sure he actually being honest about, was moderate, and being able to address him as something other than ‘bear bait’ would be nice.

“I’m Blake” Well, maybe not her whole name, there were still games to play.

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"You'll shoot him, I'll save him, they'll question him and everyone goes home happy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:19 pm 
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“Don’t get eaten by a bear on account of chivalry, get eaten because this girl out ran you”

"ooooooo," Telford said, laughter in his voice and the crinkles at the corners of his eyes. "Cheeky."

Her pace picked up slightly and he lengthened his stride to match it. The air he drew into his lungs was thin and cold, burning a little as it went down, but it was early days and still an easy speed, nowhere near pushing himself just yet. That would start to come soon, when they reached an uphill section of the trail not far ahead.

“Although if I am going to leave you to get eaten by said bear, I should at least know your name” She paused a moment, then added, “I’m Blake”

Glancing sideways, he nodded an acknowledgement. "Telford," he introduced himself, leaving off the 'special agent' part. Blake hadn't referred to a rank for herself and hadn't reacted much when he mentioned OSI, but neither had she asked what it meant. Either way, this morning they were just a couple of fellow joggers. Tilting his head to avoid a low branch, he added, "As in 'Telford, get your ass back here and help me with this bear!'"

Flashing a quick grin, he nudged his own pace up another notch. "You seem to know the wildlife pretty well. Been around Colorado Springs long?"


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 Post subject: Re: Hour of the Wolf
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:20 pm 
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A little surprised, but defiantly pleased at the rapport that seemed to have sprung up between them, Mere rolled her eyes as he called her cheeky, before focussing on the path ahead, ensuring that her footfalls remained even, and her arms remained locked at the elbow but free moving at the shoulder.

Quirking an eyebrow, Mere increased her speed to match the increase in his pace. It was enough of a pace change for her to fall silent for a minute or two as she adjusted. Her smaller stature meant taking twice as many steps for one of Telford’s strides, and had to ensure that she concentrated on keeping her breathing even, which meant the cold air burned her nose more frequently.

“Little over a year now, long enough to get to know a little something about the local wildlife” Mere skirted to the side one moment to avoid a mini mud slip, and then exhaled deeply before adjusting her gait to tackle the start of the gradual incline that they were now coming upon. It wasn’t overly steep, and adjusted to the thinner air of the mountains, it wasn’t a major struggle for Mere, but conscious that Telford was newer to the area, Mere didn’t go at it full pelt, instead she let Telford set the pace.

“It gets a little rocky up here when it evens back out so watch your footing; don’t want you to twist your ankle before the bear gets you” As if on cue, Mere felt a rock dislodge from the dirt and her foot shot sideways, and stumbling a step or two, she recovered and shook it off. “Of course, I might fall victim first”

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