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About Balcerzak

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  • Birthday 04/23/1983

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  1. Ah, there it was. When Gabriela suddenly apologized for having been rude, on the heels of what was essentially Jade having doing the same thing, in her own fashion, everything clicked. The slight awkwardness behind the muted responses to her attempts at conversation along the way here, what had felt like being the siren avoiding her during their travels since the marsh, everything. A light laugh and the merchant shook her head. "Oh, you're very welcome. And I think it must all have been a misunderstanding, strung nerves from the fight on both our ends. If no offense was intended, swoosh," Jade made a small sweeping motion with her hands as she added a sound effect into the conversation. "Off under the bridge it goes." And how could she not? When the siren's bright smile came in response to hers, there was only one thing to do. Stepping into the stall first, pushing her way past the simple sign at the front, "Fortunes Told", a distinct contrast to other more grandiose claims that might have been made, Gabriela's concerns about the trustworthiness of the whole affair briefly flickered back to the forefront of Jade's mind. But, there ought to be an easy, and amusing way to deal with that. Ought to be. Smiling lightly, Jade strode up to the empty chair across the table from the fortuneteller, whose crystal ball reflected back the starry pattern of the stall's ceiling when gazed upon. The purple-scaled lamia certainly had a knack for setting the tone. Was that veil... silk? It looked nice, either way. Very atmospheric. "Excuse me," the zombie began, before swiftly moving on to business. "We came here to get our fortunes told, me and my friend here, but I guess you already knew that, huh?" A gentle laugh at her own joke. "What sort of services along those lines do you offer?" It was important to confirm they could get what they wanted. If the prognosticator could only see the future, that wouldn't really get them what they came for, after all.
  2. Well, it was go time again. The break had been nice while it lasted, and Thorvald had shored up a few flagging spirits with his cooking, and helped out a bit here and there getting questions answered and trying to get used to his new... follower. But there was only so much time, and several things on his to-do list unfortunately remained undone. Passing by Vera's Velite on the way to the Odin had been a stark reminder of one of them. Briefly, he'd considered inviting her to copilot with him on this final launch, he'd never managed to find anyone else to help him manage the massive machine, with his various half-considered options either finding their own homes helping out elsewhere, or having taken charge of one or another new machine and striking out solo. But, standing at the base of his massive tank, preparing to cable up, he saw the Mark III's light come on, as its engines started up, and that laid the passing whim firmly to rest. It was probably for the best. Even humbled and broken, Vera was surely better to have as an additional independent set of hands out there, fierce warrior that she was, rather than wasting her talents playing second fiddle up there in the cockpit with him. Still, the least he could do would be to send a little encouragement her way. After finishing the ride up and buckling in, Thorvald opened private comms. "When you make it back to the Riese at the end of this battle, when we return victorious--and it will be a victory, and you will survive it--you should know my door is always open to you. I'll make sure Esther won't be around, so you won't have to worry about that either. You're strong, resilient. Like a blade. Folded many times, never breaking. You'll come through this trial too. I can feel it." A brief pause as he considered. No, that about summed things up as well as he could figure. "Well, that's enough of a one-on-one. You don't have to reply. Not now anyway, so long as you swing on by when you feel you can manage. Sooner better than later, but all in your own time, of course. Anyway, I gotta address everyone else here, make sure the rest of the group is focused up too. Get us all organized so we can force the chips to come down in our favor." Closing off the private channel, Thorvald transitioned to open mic, on the broad channel the captain had just been using. Addressing everyone in the hangar, on the bridge, the Avalon, or already in the field, the veteran pilot added on his own little rousing pep talk. "All right everyone. I know someone was a little eager, slipping out immediately, but while I got the rest of your attention here, I just have a few words to say. Our local maiden-by-daylight-warrior-by-moonlight is still on the line even if she's not on the ship, and will hear them too anyway. By now we all have a pretty good idea of how each other fights. We know our strengths, we know how to shore up each other's weaknesses. We've got our bread and butter tactics that get the job done. Let's start with the tried and true, only venturing into anything a little crazy if we absolutely have to. We have the advantage right now, there's only three of them and we just got done mopping up a lot more. Sure the King may be a class above, but we've seen and bested Knights. So we do that again, and move on from there. I don't care if there were naysayers, people who thought this mission was a long shot, or maybe even impossible. We're gonna prove all of that wrong. We're gonna make this happen! In two minutes we'll continue showing the Sacarians just how wrong they were to think they could simply waltz in and take the Earth without a fight."
  3. Tepel was a fair shake worse off than Jade had remembered leaving it. The trebuchet damage, especially, was impossible to ignore, as she steered the wagon along the main road to the fort at the heart of the city that was its namesake. She had still to receive a reply to her offer by the time she'd parked the wagon, though that was somewhat expected given the almost immediate distraction after she'd put it out there, which had pretty much continued as a stream of new information until the present moment. It was a pleasant surprise then, as she was unhitching the 'mares to lead them toward where stalls had been set up near Braksen's, apparently, when Gabriela did arrive and express an interest. A smile, and a reply, "Of course. We'll need to finish getting the ladies here accommodated, of course," the zombie gestured to DV and BV, "And then, hmmm, actually, there might be a place nearby that could be fun to stop at?" She tilted her head a little, as memory of the city slowly returned to her, and she recalled the curious fortune teller very near the area. While when she'd been alive and human she'd mostly discounted anyone advertising themselves with slogans such as: "Palms read, crystal old, cards spread, fortunes told", she'd started to warm up more and more to the supernatural as the years since her death had continued marching on. The rest of the group was also dispersing, the most important ones headed to a strategy meeting inside the fort proper, with a few other parties breaking off to various other location to shop. Jade could have sworn she heard a familiar name, but it clearly couldn't have been referring to the person she thought it was, for a whole host of reasons, so she merely blinked twice and shook her head, returning her attention to the siren and her nightmares. As they walked to their destination, Jade provided some boring small talk, mostly pointing out features as they passed them by, noting differences from her last visit, things like that. She wasn't sure exactly how to broach the topic of past awkwardness, and maybe if she just kept up with normal there wouldn't be any need to. And her intended destination, she almost wanted it to be a bit of a secret surprise. "... there's the forge, I'll probably stop by there later, actually. Have a couple of questions for a personal project, but not something I actually want someone else to do for me, you know? Sometimes that takes all the fun out of things. Ah, and there's apparently the makeshift stables, by Brasken's. If you'll excuse me a few quick moments..." Having gotten the 'mares situated and taken care of, she returned to face Gabriela, and finally opened up with her idea, hoping it wouldn't be brushed off as silly. "I don't know a lot about it, but I've heard, a little bit, through the grapevine, that there's something from your past you're trying to find answers to, right? Fancy asking the fortune teller? Don't worry about the cost, this one's on me." A bright, honest smile. Probably nothing would come from this, but Jade was happy to spend a little coin on the attempt anyway. Especially if it helped a friendship.
  4. Jess easily found herself leaning into the hug, squeezing back, and squeezing her eye closed. She was trying to keep from crying, but it wasn't successful, and a couple of small sobs escaped, probably only Kim could hear them though. It did leave her a little too embarrassed to try any more talking though. When she finally pulled apart, she quickly wiped her nose, but then it was mostly indistinct hand gestures before she managed, "I should... rest up for the next fight..."
  5. "We would have done a lot more if we didn't have to retreat for a repair and a resupply," Jess added softly when Kim came over to join Christina in 'cheering her up'. But that was as far as she would protest, instead moving to sigh and turn back to the locker, resting her forehead up against it, appreciating the cool feel of metal. "...Sorry, you're right. I know it, but it's just. It doesn't feel like enough. I used to be better than this." Christina's touch on her shoulder was a surprise. But, after the initial shock wore off, not an unwelcome one, especially as she listened to the words that came with it. In fact, the physical contact actually left her longing for a hug, but by the time Jess managed to turn around, Christina was already ambling off, singing to herself about longing for a nap. It was a shame, too, because with the both of them currently being just 'helpers', support pilots aiding their respective main pilot, it was a closer connection, not as far a reach as identifying with the Korean would be. A bit of a wistful look on her face, Jess shrugged again, facing Kim for another final couple words. "I'll bounce back before the next battle. I've come too far to quit now." Who was she trying to convince though?
  6. Hearing Marina call the two of them cute didn't have the same impact on Jade as Lavinia's assertion of similar fact several days ago. Was it because of who the words were coming from? Was it because she was growing used to it, accepting it, no longer fighting it? "Well, I'd say at least 70% of that is credit to Lavinia," the zombie agreed. No, deflection was still on the menu it seemed. The vampire's stuttering and stammering brought a giggle, and further words. "See what I mean?" It wasn't until she was chided for her choice of phrasing, what had been wrong with what she'd said anywa--ohhhh, oh no. The look given as the word in question was repeated back with specific emphasis drove home the double meaning like a stake to the heart. Finally joining Lavinia in embarrassment, Jade's complexion turned a dusky rose. Any comment she might have had about not minding if Lavinia couldn't keep her body safe, how they could fix it up together was completely lost, the words drying and dying in her throat as the merchant wordlessly, shyly passed over the rifle, averting her gaze to where the cerberus had romped off to, a weak excuse for not making eye contact. ...Even so, the offer intrigued her, and her mind wandered. Oh dear. Some people might have been bothered by the 'Jade stop, Jade come, Jade wait, Jade go,' but understanding that fact of the relationship had been within the merchant's initial calculations and expectations. Not to mention she was getting a lot more than that outside work hours, as remniscing about the afternoon gunplay a few days back clearly illustrated, not to mention the late night company. So no, being the coachman was just fine, not getting invited to strategy meetings didn't mean she wasn't important. Jade was well enough aware of who appreciated her, and how, and that was plenty enough for her. Though, that didn't mean she shouldn't continue to seek to expand her connections. When Lavinia and Nessraya had disembarked and gone ahead, the front seat was empty, and tempting though it might be to call Xalrei or Agni or someone to come up and fill it for the moment might be, the business would likely be soon concluded, and they'd have to vacate again just as conversation had begun. Though... Jade turned her head and tilted it upward, looking to the roof of the wagon, where often their feathered friends were wont to perch. Her rapport with Gabriela had been neutral, trending to positive, but the siren had kept her distance since the event at the ruins. Had Jade been too snippy, too defensive during the barrage of questions suffered in the immediate aftermath of the Morwen incident? Maybe it was worth finding out, extending an olive branch. ...and then there was the thing with Bladen. Well, nothing ventured, right? "I was thinking that, while some of the more important people are engaging in meetings with higher ups at the fort here and planning the execution of official business and everything, that I would take a bit of a stroll around and see what was what. Would you be interested in joining me, Gabriela? ...Bladen?" While she was distracted in conversation, Marina had leapt down from the wagon, and gone rushing up after the general and the royal guard. Hopefully that wouldn't be a problem, but Jade wasn't the Hero's keeper by any means, and there were several other people that would have been better positioned to stop her if it were too much trouble. Basically any of them riding in the back of the wagon, instead of up front, but probably especially the librarian, also closely connected to the demon king, her castle, and her affairs. She was still waiting for her answer when, initial meeting concluded, she was called for to get the wagon moving again. "No need to rush for an answer if you need to think it over, there'll be some time once we get inside before I head off, so if you're interested, just find me then." With that, she gave the nightmares a shake of the reins, and they began trotting up to the small knot of people who'd left in advance.
  7. A moment of panic as one of the women called out to her, came rushing over. The sudden development had her worrying over nothing; Jess raised a hand to her eyepatch, feeling for sure that it was properly back in place, that she hadn't been, that she wouldn't be revealing any gruesome sights to anybody but herself. "I'm... fine," the sergeant squeezed out, a bit unbelievably. "Just feeling a little useless, I guess. Especially compared to you guys. Aces like you are on a whole different level, huh?" Tarquin and the cat seemed to be getting along fine with each other, and neither much addressing him directly now that their food was in front of them. Thorvald was perfectly fine with that, and didn't much mind that Caroline too seemed to be perhaps a little overwhelmed from the attention her ice cream had brought herself. No matter. Addressing Esther and Nina, he apologized that they were still waiting for their portions. "Don't worry you two, I haven't forgotten. It'll be just a little while longer." He was just on his way back to the kitchen then, when a new face interrupted. It was their more tolerable Italian pilot, Aliza. "Oh, welcome, welcome. The more the merrier," Thorvald invited her in to the group. "No need to apologize at all. Glad they bring you some fond memories, and if you want I could add you to the back of the list. Or, if you'd planned on cooking something else, you're certainly welcome to join me in the kitchen and do your own thing. If I get in your way, just holler at me to give you some more space." Abby's mouth opened in a small o of surprise at Calina's comment, then she shook her head and laughed. That hadn't been quite what she'd meant about being in her debt, but Abigail was relieved to learn she'd been forgiven enough to where jokes like that were back on the menu. And if it wasn't a joke? A bit of warmth spread through her chest as her mind wandered down rosy paths of imagination. Well... what better way to distract from a host of worries, right? After climbing back into Vergloria, it was a quick trip to the Riese, but enough time had passed since the end of the battle it was unlikely anyone was still in the hangar, aside from the mechanics, who were probably hustling and bustling with maintenance and repairs. Sliding down her cable, she'd find out soon enough one way or the other.
  8. The Hero seemed fully absorbed with the new canine companion, and it appeared to appreciate the attention. But its hunting instinct was clearly stronger, as it charged after the falling squirrel once Jade had hit her second mark. Her record had climbed to two and one now, and the zombie was feeling a lot better about that first miss by this point. Smiling, she turned back to Marina, ready to comment on the story of her aunt's dog, with a story of her own, but surprised to find Lavinia having snuck up while she was absorbed in aiming, her smile subtly changed to a different shade of happy. "Ah, we had a cat growing up, but no dog," Jade still felt she ought to finish her earlier train of thought before switching lines to the new one. "And you're correct, Lavinia. Friendlier by far than most, though its heads do seem a bit conflicted with each other at times. It's the one I'd chanced across at the ruins while riding up ahead, maybe you saw it then? I would have introduced you, but when that dragon appeared, well..." She shrugged a little sheepishly, the gesture intended to convey that the animal had taken that moment to promptly disappear. The brief look of bashful apology was soon eclipsed by an excited twinkling in the merchant's eyes, as she pivoted to addressing the royal guard's other request. "You never told me you were a practiced hand with a piece! Focused as you seemed on bow and arrow I'd always thought," Jade trailed off, realizing her phrasing was perhaps inching ruder than she'd intended. "Well, you must certainly have your reasons, and honestly I'd like you to show me some time. I'll gladly give you a go with the rifle here if you'll show me my way around your equipment later."
  9. Abigail started to laugh at the absurdity of Reed's misunderstanding, so Calina piping in and actually being productive on correcting the record was much appreciated. As was her willingness to help out with other matters too, whether 'expected' or not. The rebel knew it, and didn't want to feel like she was taking advantage of it, so after her girlfriend pulled back from the hug and starting to get things moving forward again, Abby decided to follow up with a quick token of gratitude. Leaning in after her, she planted a brief, chaste kiss on the lips, before pulling back and whispering. "I owe you. Big. Collect whenever you want." Turning a final look to the strange new subordinate, Abby just shook her head again. It was hard to know really what to do, but it would get easier with time, right? It had to. "...Just, don't do anything stupid while I'm gone. Calina's got enough on her plate without you adding any trouble." It seemed like they were all on the same page here but... well, hopefully if the cat somehow managed to get herself into a pickled she'd be able to read the mood enough to find a diplomatic way out. With telepathy in the toolbox, how hard could it be? Abigail wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer to that. Then, with the very brief stopover on Deliverance wrapping up, until she returned for good a little later in the day, it was time to cable back up to Vergloria and find out how bad things really were. Face to face. It was hard to keep her heart from sinking thinking about it, but she couldn't run from this. Curiosity killed the cat, at least in the saying. But as for this feline, and the interest in this food item, the result would be anything but! Tarquin was also a first timer, and she seemed keen enough to learn along through him, and rather than rebuffing her the boy was actually opening up a little. Well, given the extreme introversion he'd had when Thorvald first met him, this was actually opening up a lot, comparatively. Seeing it underway brought a warm feeling of pride, but he couldn't indulge to long in it. The next batch of waffles needed his attention too! When bringing over the second plate, he noticed Caroline's contribution to the cause. "Well, look at this! That'll scratch the itch for someone's sweet tooth, I'm sure." Beaming a smile at the part-time pilot, full-time saleswoman, Thorvald made as sure as he could to convey how welcome this was. If he remembered right, she took on both of those roles to support her family. There was no higher purpose than that. While he fully intended on eating last, and if the ice creams hadn't been taken by then they would sure to be soft and melty, he'd still pile some onto his own helping so the good deed didn't go to waste. After getting the names of the assistants, clearing up that mini-mystery, Monty was filled in on a few more details by the XO. Much appreciated, that. He couldn't help but notice her interesting hair though. It caught him a little, unprepared, but he couldn't say he didn't like it. After contemplating complimenting her on it, he decided it simply wasn't the right time though, and returned his focus to the business at hand. However much more boring this work would be than chatting with a pretty lady, it was important. Still... complete silence would be a sin too, wouldn't it? "Hope whoever that is picks up soon," he added sympathetically, as the woman scowled at her communicator. "Ain't right to keep a woman waiting." Finally having put the running water to good use, washing away her tears, Jess dried her hands and prepared to step back out of the toilets and into the changing room. While she'd started stalking off to the elevator in a bit of a rage, partway through she had realized she was still all geared up in her pilot outfit. While it wasn't as revealing as a SKIN, it still couldn't hurt to get out of, and into more conventional clothing sooner than later. But then there was the breakdown, and well, now here we were. And... opening the door, here were other people as well. Jess hoped they didn't pay attention to how long she'd been in the bathroom, if they even knew she was there, and maybe she'd be lucky and they wouldn't ask about it. She hadn't actually managed to get changed yet, so she couldn't just run off and escape the situation that way. Just gotta, try to keep it together. You worked most of the worst out, you can do this. Smiling a bit of an awkward smile, she walked past Kim and Christina to where the locker where she'd stored her things was located. They were occupied with their own conversation anyway, things would be fine. She wouldn't butt into their business, they wouldn't butt into hers.
  10. "Tres..." Jade tested out the name Marina had offered, feeling how it flowed through her mouth. It seemed as good a choice as any other. A slow nod of approval, though it wasn't really the zombies that the hero most needed to win over. It seemed vaguely indifferent, but perhaps with time. Only one of the heads really paid enough attention to sniff the human's hand too, so clearly the majority of its attention was still focused on Jade. ...At least nominally, something about the way it carried itself suggested it was eager to continue playing "fetch". A bit of a smile on her face, the zombie scoped out nearby tree branches for another possible target, before slowly loading the rifle again. "Be a little careful," she warned Marina. "Not entirely sure how Tres will react to gunfire, but if it plans on sticking around, it'll have to learn sooner than later. Gonna try for another squirrel, we'll see how it goes." Then finishing lining up, she took another shot.
  11. Jess was standing in the bathroom, gripping the edge of the sink, faucet running. The sound of the water hitting the bottom of the basin was somehow comforting and reassuring. There was no other reason for running the tap. She wasn't planning to wash her face. She wasn't planning anything. She was just standing and thinking. She raised her head, looking up at the mirror now instead of down at the sink. Jess had taken her eyepatch off already. Her eyelids were still fine, even the ones over her ruined right eye. With them closed like this, without the patch, nobody would ever be able to tell. Why have you not seen to replacing your eye? Grimacing, recalling the words, the tone, the facial expression, the curious confusion, Jess slowly worked muscles she hadn't used in days. It was painful. And it was disheartening. The sight in the mirror greeting her good eye was every bit as ugly as she had feared. She felt her stomach churn a little just looking at it. The room swayed slightly. Her head sunk again, gaze turned back to the bottom of the basin, watching the stream of water spilling over the rim of the stopper before swirling down the drain. It hurt. The alien was right and that stung. She felt like crying. Sinking to her knees, her fingers gripped the edge of the sink tightly, and she brought her forehead to rest upon the smooth coldness of the outer surface. Why hadn't she replaced it? It was the only sensible call, and yet... And yet... wouldn't it be like just pretending that day had never happened? That wasn't an acceptable choice, there had to be a solution she could stomach. A few cold tears trickled down her cheek as Jess resolved to discuss the matter with Megumi. "On it, Doc," Monty flashed an OK symbol with his hand and pulled up a seat at the desk in the opposite corner of the room from Megumi. Using on of the readily available consoles seemed a speedier option than hooking into the network with his alpha tool and going about it that way. The ship manifest was easy enough to find, and conveniently had photos alongside the relevant personal information for all the crew and pilots, so it was relatively easy to identify who was present in the infirmary. There was a brief moment of confusion, when two of the people helping out in the infirmary didn't appear to be registered anywhere in the roster... but since his task involved only the bridge staff. ...No, better to be sure. Maybe there'd been some cosmetic surgery since one of the photos. It would be terrible if he marked someone dead who actually wasn't. The fact that they were reasonably attractive ladies didn't factor in at all. "Um, excuse me," he hailed Bennet as she was walking past on other business and stole a moment of her time. "Could I trouble you for your name, and that of your compatriot? It's for the report." He was half tempted to ask for their numbers too, but now wasn't really the proper time. All the men, though, he'd already gone ahead and moved to the deceased column. The only males in here aside from himself were one of the pilots, and one of the engineers, no bridge staff accounted for here. Whether or not these two in addition to the XO were amongst the females to be spared was the only question left.
  12. Jade snorted a little as well, after Marina giggled at her own corny joke. Somehow it clashed so much with the image of the Hero the merchant had always expected, but it fit so well with the Marina she'd been growing to know along their travels. She refrained from adding any additional comments on the girl's form or posture, curious to just watch what an outlander with her own knowledge might provide her. The kneeling position wasn't one she'd used much herself, but it seemed sensible enough. Then there was the approach of trying to lead the squirrel, like one would a fowl in flight, that was an unexpected touch. Not something Jade had mentioned at all, having limited her lecture mostly to specifics of the gun itself, so when it came out of nowhere that was just more proof positive that the claims of experience were not just idle boast. "Aww, ah shame," she exclaimed sympathetically when the fired shot failed to find effect on target. Jade received the rifle back with a smile, then nodded thoughtfully as Marina explained about the troubles with casings and her dominant hand. That was a subject she'd never really given pause to consider. "Interesting, I wonder..." the zombie began to speculate, but cut herself off at the sounds of approaching wildlife. When it became clear just what was padding toward them, a look of delight spread across the zombie's face. "Well I'll never," she started, interrupted by a tinkling laugh. "After how things had ended there at the ruins... to see you again now? Hahaha. At any rate, what a fine job you've done fetching those. Who's a good dog?" Turning to look at Marina as she stepped forward to pat the center head first, then the right and the left in turn, she began to explain. "I came across this one while you were fighting with Morwen. Lost track of one another in the chaos following the emergence of the dragons, and the confusion of her death, but we'd started to get along before that happened. Least, I think so, and really, playing retriever like this, seems to show it's not just on my end. Ah, right. Names. Center head is Medius; the right, Dexter; and the left..." Jade paused, her bright smile slipping slightly. She hadn't actually named that head yet, she'd still been chiding it for biting her hand. The obvious choice would be to continue the theme, but... "Kelly." Jade's lip twisted up in a bit of a smirk. A very light 'punishment', but certainly not undeserved. "Though, I wonder... maybe there ought to be one for calling just all together, and not any individually? Perhaps I should have thought things through a little more before I'd gotten started, but I'd never had to deal with a Cerberus before. This is all new, should be a good learning experience. What do you think?" She continued to beam with excitement, hoping its contagion infected Marina as well, instead of perhaps the more human reaction of fear.
  13. "Sure, apologize to her if you like, but at this point, I don't think she'd join back up even if you didn't come. Sometimes people just need some time to themselves," Thorvald commented, as the curiously friendly cat tried to back out from what had seemed obvious there was an interest in. "If you wanna head back to your machine though, I'm not gonna stop you. I'll just have to swing back and pick you up when I'm ready to go speak with Roxanna. Either way is fine, up to you." ~~~ A few minutes later, a piping hot waffle adorned the center of a plate, a pat of butter beginning to melt upon its top. The first of several to come, laid gently on the table in front of those that had followed Thorvald to the cafeteria. "It's a shame we don't have a full variety of syrups to get an even broader experience, filling up different sections with different flavors... a little boysenberry here, a little maple there, a little apricot over in the far corner. But the one we do have should still suffice! Take it away Tarquin. I'll get right back to working on the next one, who wants dibs on the second plate?" Ohhhh, right, right. San'Xuur, San'Xuur. Knight of Leo. Okay, got it, Abigail gave a mental nod, committing the fact to memory, even though it probably wouldn't be all too relevant after they went ahead and toppled the rest of the enemy hierarchy in short order. And that was the only thing the cat had to correct her on, and not even publicly, so honestly a good success on that front. And as for the other half of the equation... Stunned silence mostly, into subdued acceptance. She'd take it. After Terry broke the silence, she followed his comments with a thumbs up, and the rest of the crew began to disperse with little more than a few murmurs here and there. No challenges, no concerns. No problems. At least, for now. A good start, and if they could keep it up, a good everything. When Calina wrapped an arm around her, Abby found herself unconsciously relaxing, tension she'd been trying not to pay attention too leaving her body. It was only for a moment though, as a troublesome topic was quick on her lips. "You said you were going to talk to her..." She faked an evasion, pouting then winking to make it clear she didn't mean it. While true, that had been before this whole nonsense with Reed had even happened. Holding Calina to that wouldn't be fair. But she was certainly going to joke about it. The alien seemed to be trying to fit in way better than expected, dialing back much further on the mind-reading than Abigail remembered making an issue of, and asking questions like a normal human being. It was oddly comforting, even if having to talk about things was sometimes more troublesome than having someone just read your mind. But you can't get that convenience without other inconvenience, so this was fine too. "Ah. No, don't put too much of this on yourself. Sena has always... Well, she's struggled a lot, and her best anchor..." Abby sighed trying not to just run into it straight up. But then again, that really was the best way, wasn't it? Time to just tear off the bandage. "She was very close to Hilling, who'd been helping her get over her past traumas, but then Soor'kan killed him. She's pretty much confined herself to her room since, moping mostly, and how she'll react to you is a giant wild card, to be honest. Not sure what to expect, but probably nothing good. Maybe a source of anger... the ability to feel something again, instead of just a withdrawn nothing, maybe it will actually help though?" It couldn't hurt to be hopeful, could it?
  14. Jade forgot to breathe. This wouldn't be a problem, however, vocal chords want air passing by them to make sound, so the first exclamation was awkwardly wordless. "⬜⬜⬜⬜!?" Luckily, there existed a simple solution. Stupid lungs, what am I paying you for, do your job. "These... are, century's old technology where you come from?" While the firearms the zombie was using weren't exactly cutting edge, that would be a little too extravagant on her budget, it's not like they weren't solidly within the modern mainstream. This wasn't your grandfather's musket, it actually had rifling for bullet stability and everything. Almost shyly, Jade received her weapon back, wondering if it was really okay for her to 'teach' Marina how to use it now. "Well, I guess, since this is practically an antique to you then, here are the steps for proper handling..." The merchant went through the motions of loading, securing, and ejecting, covering all the bases for ordinary operation. Not entirely sure if it was needed, she also discussed sighting for accuracy and precision. "...and if you really need every extra, you'd fire from prone, for better stability, but that can be impractical more often than not, so this is the standing posture I use." Then, lining up on a newly sighted squirrel, Jade demonstrated the final piece of the puzzle, and pulled the trigger. This time, the little rodent didn't manage an escape; the shot was true, and it fell to the ground from off of the tree branch it had been perched on. Nodding, pleased with herself, the zombie lowered the weapon and prepared to pass it over if the Hero also wanted to have a hands on opportunity, rather than just listening and watching. "Fancy a go yourself?"
  15. Jade was pleased when Marina played along with her joke, but the pleasure was quickly eclipsed by surprise. Not only did the hero have experience with guns, a relative rarity, but she mentioned the guns where she was from were not like the ones they had here. Eyes wide, the zombie grew quiet, lips pursed as she tried to figure out what to ask first. "Hand guns? Long guns? What do you mean by 'different'?" Holding out the rifle where Marina could get a good look at it, barrel pointed safely away from either of them of course, she continued, "Could you show me where any major changes would have been, or is it too hard to remember?"
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