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About Balcerzak

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  • Birthday 04/23/1983

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    Eden Prairie

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    Blazing Sword

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  1. Of course, she'd said too much, too harshly. Wilhelmina recognized that, but people telling her what she must be feeling or wanting always rubbed her the wrong way, even worse with the kind of day it had been... week it was shaping up to be. Misea chased after, sounding a little hurt themself, which hadn't exactly been her goal, and the gentled hand catching her shoulder drug her out of the daydreams and delusions Glen's words had sent her down. Opening and closing her mouth a couple of times before settling on what to say, Mina was inwardly glad the vampire was behind her, not staring at her face trying to read her expression. "I was... more bristly than I ought to have been, but I hope you can understand. Half of the things you were on about didn't make any sense and the other half, well..." the teacher sighed. With most of her frustration vented in that previous exchange, she was feeling considerably more conciliatory. "It's been a long day, and things are just getting started. Maybe later?" If the knight wanted another one-on-one to flesh out what they were driving at, while managing not to be offensive about it, she wouldn't turn that down. Hopefully she'd have sorted out a few of the other issues she was struggling with by then. The topic of traps was, of course, apt, and not to be taken lightly. A little out of her realm of expertise, too, as most of what she dealt with was pure hobby, no actual risk, no actual reward. None of the puzzles her father had ever made for her had been trapped, obviously. "I suppose this is an 'after you' situation then? You want to take a first look at them?" Mina delays for now, to take her move after Misea.
  2. Aeon - The Odyssey

    Thankfully Linus's negotiations with the cafe employees hadn't been too rough. He'd had to put down a few credits deposit in advance to secure a table, but it wasn't anything outlandish by any means. Typical batcon prices for typical batcon business. If he and Hitomi ended up needing a second table, that would likely be a second round of talks, but more than enough time to cross that bridge when they got there. Locking in the waypoint and transmitting it, he took a seat and turned his attention out the window, just in time for a spectacular lightshow, as the sound systems shifted gears from their previous channels to full surround with 'Target acquired; weapons free'. Even... no, especially coming from above, where that hulking center of attention was prominently floating. Well, he'd clearly missed a lot, definitely going to have to check out the vod on that later. Ah, and sure enough, in the aftermath--as the crowd was furiously flipping through the electronic brochure outlining the hows and whys of warships, with teasingly tailored amounts of information carefully curated as to not quite present the whole picture--came the moment Hitomi had given him a heads-up on. Linus couldn't quite help his heart from beating faster as his friend stopped just short of shouting out "Inertia!" (one of her favorite battlecries), when she plunged headlong into the thick of things with the optimism of a small child. For better or worse, the spotlight was certainly on Team Odyssey now. "Juno's jugs," he swore softly to himself and tried to prepare for what was to come. He was going to need a coffee for this. Maybe an irish... no, that would just be foolhardy. Espresso shots only, today. At least until after the peak of whatever madness was about to descend had passed.
  3. Aeon - The Odyssey

    "Plan H? ...Hitomi that's...," Linus began to protest, but the girl was excited, on a roll, and stopping for nobody. Lightly pinching the bridge of his nose as he waited out the storm, he ended up chuckling a little when it became apparent that his friend was not only still skipping letters, but just rebranding one of the old ones after giving a minor tweak to some of the details. This was fine. No problems here. "Oooh, sure thing," Linus cooed a bit as he agreed to her suggestion. Divide and conquer was actually sensible, no need for them both to be in the limelight when whatever shoutout might happen, happened. He wasn't jealous for attention or anything, so the fact that his lot today landed him working the backstage, as it were, wasn't a problem. "Just make sure you smile pretty for the cameras when he drags you on stage," he finished with a bit of a tease, wearing a slightly impish grin, then killed the call and tried to quickly select the most reasonable venue he could find on short notice. There, that oughta do just fine... assuming it wasn't packed to the brim already. On any other day it would have just been some hole-in-the-wall, second floor cafe, but with the traffic today, who knows what it'd be like on the inside. Now then, it was just a matter of fighting against the crowd to get there. Oofph! And quite the fight it was. During the course of the jostle, some slender, pigtailed blonde had given him a fierce elbow to the gut, clearly in a rush to get closer to the stage. Why hadn't she planned ahead and gotten a spot early, if it was that important to her? Shaking his head and holding his stomach, Linus opened the door, and made his way up to the cafe. "Reservation?" A cool, slightly disinterested voice greeted him from one of the staff as he entered. "Uh... no, walk-in okay?" He answered back cautiously, casting his glance around the area. It didn't seem too busy, actually rather quiet for today, all things considered. Linus could spot several open tables, even some of the booths hadn't been filled. That said... wow, suit and tie? That wasn't your typical convention going attire. Looks like some businessmen had got themselves caught up in the wrong place, and were just trying to make the best of it or something, though one seemed to be just leaving. "Might end up being a bit of a group, if things go well," Linus confessed, pulling his attention back to the employee and trying to negotiate. "If you could set me up at a table where there wouldn't be much trouble dragging another over if things do end up getting busy..." he trailed off, and pulled out his phone, ready to punch in the waypoint and send it Hitomi's way if he wasn't turned away.
  4. "Why are you still here?" Well that was... almost but not quite like getting slapped. Wilhelmina reached a hand out to the wall by her side, steadying herself as she blinked a few times and tried to take it in. Misea's sometimes joking manner was notably absent, and this was not just some topic of the moment. Mina pressed her lips into a line as she listened to the rest of the vampire's thoughts and concerns, including the tangent about her supposed beauty. Once the knight had finished, it was a bit difficult for the teacher to figure out where to start her reply. The... accusation, no that was too direct, insinuation? Whatever the thrust of motive, and despite attempting to couch the concerns, it still came across rather offensive to her. Like, seriously, what was she supposed to have done? Rather vexed, she heaved a frustrated sigh. "Would it have better, somehow, if it were only one? I don't understand, wouldn't some of your other... more presumptuous worries be amplified were I particularly beholden to just one repeat customer? In that case, perhaps you would have a leg to stand on, going on about the sort of attachment that might bring, but at present," Mina stopped to roll her eyes a little. Not entirely sure how she planned to finish that sentence, she opted to shift back to a different line of protest. "Would it have mattered anyway, or would it just make you happy to hear me beg? I seriously doubt it would have made a difference in any of the cases so far," let's just ignore the interrupted one in the alley, for the moment, Mina tried her best to ignore thinking about the clear case where Misea might have been on to something as far as protest vs invitation. "Imagine someone held my head underwater, then upon finally surfacing you were to beg me not to breathe. But maybe you vampires are so superior to humans you could manage where we would be hard pressed, huh?" The passive aggression was petty, but it felt good, and more importantly it helped her avoid thinking about anything more troublesome. Sport, pleasure, being turned. So that part of the legends had a spark of truth to it then? It had grown increasingly hard to tell which bits of folklore to throw away as rubbish and which to embrace as inspired by fact. But even if she'd had everything properly sorted into bins labeled 'myth' and 'real', Mina would never have stopped to consider applying that feature of the legends to herself. Not until Misea brought it up. What... precisely would that mean, what all would be entailed? No, none of that, not now. Shaking her head and huffing again, she closed with, "I don't know what you got up to when you were younger, or how that colors things, but enough of your unfounded worry. It's more than a little, uncomfortable, to have you going on like this." Mina tried to meet Misea's gaze, to put up a strong convincing front, but sadly quickly felt a rising embarrassment and had to break it off, to turn to look at the wall. Very interesting wall, yes. "If anyone's to suffer for it this trip," she muttered in a low voice as she turned to move forward, continue exploring the cave, "Who better?" She didn't really want the vampire to hear, but found she couldn't quite keep from complaining entirely. Ah well. Oh, Glen was calling after her, something about locked treasure? Ooooh, let's take a look. Mina moves to 56,14
  5. Well, Misea had quickly leapt on her suggestion, and with the both of their promptings Glen had forged on ahead. Wilhelmina was forced to work a little more magic into her staff, increasing the light so its outer radius would catch the man still within it, but that was an easy price to pay to find out what exactly the knight needed to talk with her about. Mina to 50,18 "So," the teacher hesitantly began. "This talk of yours... You been planning it since before we decided to make this pitstop... or did the idea only come to you after?"
  6. Aeon - The Odyssey

    While Linus and Hitomi had agreed to set aside their unfinished business until meeting up in person, the two of them hadn't actually settled on a time or place. That said, he wasn't particularly concerned with that current state of affairs. It's not like they were stranded without any means of communication, after all. Until the itch got bad enough for one or the other of them that there were no getting around trying to scratch things out immediately, it should be perfectly fine for them to just tool around the convention grounds as they individually saw fit. So that's exactly what Linus had been doing. His first order of business had been to hit up the underground mall, where sections had been alloted to individuals, setting up stalls to display and sell their custom models, arts, crafts, and whatever else. Similar to what they'd done with shopping center's main building up above, Battlenet had negotiated a clause into the agreement vendors had to sign when applying for stall space. While Linus didn't know the exact details, it was clear that there was something in there specifying that some fraction of the wares had to be Frame Ops goods, or at least FO adjacent. But a lot of the sellers were still proudly advertising some of their side projects as well, so it was always exciting to take a stroll along and see what popped out. Speaking of which, he'd actually picked up a few things along the way. One of them was an indy horror flick, almost certainly cheesily directed and probably cringe-worthy, but the vendor had been friendly and cute, and it was cheaper than the other offerings, so he'd sprung for it anyway. If nothing else, he was pretty sure he could rally together an appreciative audience it could entertain for an evening, so it wasn't too much of a waste. And supporting actual individuals instead of mega-corporations always felt... right, uplifting. But it was getting to be closer to midday than morning now, and there was something lined up for pretty soon, if he remembered his schedule, so Linus had wrapped up his browsing and was fighting against the crowd to make his way back into the open air above. Of course, it was the perfect time for his phone to ring. After a couple more moments of jostling, he succeeded his way into a free pocket of space about a stone's throw from the end of the stairs. Finally, he managed to pull the phone out and pick it up on the third ring. "Hello? Hitomi? What's up?" Maybe she was thinking about coordinating them grabbing a bite to eat together or something? It was getting to be about time to start considering it, anyway, wasn't it?
  7. SF Interviews 2.0 - Innocentmask

    ...I don't think I can continue to ask my #5 in good conscience any more. No answer can top that one.
  8. SF Interviews 2.0 - Innocentmask

    1) How did you manage to avoid being interviewed this long? 2) What has brought you the greatest joy during your time on Serenes Forest, or alternately what is your biggest regret? 3) Would you smooch a ghost? 4) Spiders: great invertebrate, or best invertebrate? 5) How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man?
  9. The thin white fabric was scarcely better at concealing Misea's figure, especially when it wicked up some of the remaining rainwater, becoming clingy and almost transparent, but the scars remained mostly hidden from view, at least. Mina was optimistic about it solving some of her issues with staring, and well, hopefully it would also be a bit more comfortable for the knight as they went further into the depths of the cave too. The sudden request for her to accompany him, 'alone, if possible', was unexpected, and immediately set the teacher's mind to worrying. What was it going to be about this time? Her debt situation hadn't changed, and they'd left that off on comfortable circumstances, so probably nothing related to that. Maybe the subject of Astrid and that shopkeeper who'd replaced her as a target for amorous affection? Possible. Her overly long delay in healing Almira during the battle? Wilhelmina had kept meaning to get to her and tend to the wound, but there was always just one thing and then another. Would that chiding really need for privacy though? Unlikely. Was he going to... no, let's not get carried away. Nodding meekly instead, she cut off her train of thought and began to concentrate on using some magic to bring a soft glow out of the top of her staff. It had a pleasant warm hue, though she kept it rather dim, just enough to reach a few paces in front of them. Following along after Misea, the fact that Glen had taken to accompany them was a bit of a surprise. Mina wouldn't have pegged him as the type for chivalry, to make sure 'nothing untoward went on' or the like, so he must've had some other reason. Curious. The man's nightvision must also have been stronger than her own, she couldn't make out what he was alluding too at all. "Really? You must have good eyes. Do you think you'd be able to check it out while we scope out what's across the way from it. I could probably increase the output here," Wilhelmina gave her staff a small shake, "If you need it brighter. Don't hesitate to ask." Mina moves to 45,17
  10. Sometimes It Pays To Go On A Bike Ride

    Met this fellow at the bank a week or two ago.
  11. That was deliberate. That skin to skin, lingering as the vampire took the offered clothes. It couldn't have been anything but. However, before she could even protest, or blush, or react, Misea moved on, like nothing had even happened, making toward the door. How... frustratingly hard to read? What exactly was his angle? At least with Astrid everything was out in the open. Mina let her hands fall to her sides, her head cocked slightly in befuddlement. Sadly as well, there was nothing interesting to be had with the door itself, it just swung open easily, with only the scantest squeak of protest. Ah well, not every latch can be exciting. A cave with walls and doors was something all on its own, perhaps someone should go and fetch the others. While the horses couldn't fit through, it might do good for peace of mind to have a secure barrier between the company and the outside. The chorus of opinions leaned towards giving it more of a thorough sweep first, which... honestly, had some merit to it. "I suppose some further exploration makes sense. L-Lead on." Wait, why did she just stutter? Oh, Mina.
  12. A vampire, embarrassed? It was... actually incredibly possible, and she was rude for assuming otherwise. Acknowledging her continuing prejudices, known and unknown, didn't help Mina's blushing any, though. The mention of his lacking any clothes but what was on his back was just further fuel for her fire, given that she'd explicitly gone to the trouble of picking some up, for all the vampires, only to have completely forgotten in the aftermath of Astrid's kiss. How could she have been so dumb? It was completely unfitting of her, a teacher, no less. Snapping herself out of the bit of freeze she'd locked into, feeling suddenly overwhelmed, wasn't easy, but after enduring a final tease from the man, his wink actually cracked the ice. Well, maybe it was the fact that, content with the damage he'd done he'd turned to go start pioneering the mission, and wasn't actually looking at her anymore. Either way! What was important was that Wilhelmina managed to put some strength in her legs and rush back to the wagon, pulling her trunk toward her and opening it to find the purchased items. Oh dear... one of these outfits was definitely a mistake. ...Mina would have to give that one later, separately, with an apology, when nobody was around. But the no-nonsense slacks and dress shirt should suffice, she could deliver those with head held high. ...If only she could catch up! She had to hurry along to make pace with the rest of the group, and was too caught up in worries of her own to really notice that Seph and Almira had been left alone on purpose, instead of simply by accident. Unfortunately, she wasn't so far behind as to not hear herself being made the object of further japes and capers, but there was no helping it, she'd brought things upon herself. Pouting slightly, she turned the bend and almost ran into the back of the countess, as the group had stopped to admire a most unfitting door plastered across the body of the otherwise natural cave. Apologizing and sliding past Astrid and her shopkeep, she had to fight the natural curious instinct to go immediately and inspect the door. Was it locked, with what mechanism, what lay beyond? All those sorts of tantalizing questions. But, she had other business. It actually turned out to be for the best, that she made her way to Misea, as Mina doubted she could have kept her concentration to make any progress with the countess also inspecting the obstruction that had been placed in their way. Imagining Astrid breathing deeply beside her ear, as she poked around at a keyhole was a bit of an unsettling mental picture. ...No, focus, girl! "Right, uh, about your clothes," Mina stammered slightly, but managed to get the words out mostly without issue. "We did end up buying a few other things than just for Almira yesterday, only I, uh, forgot to distribute them with the... distractions. Here," she thrust out the formal clothing, both top and bottoms, to the knight, her glance cast slightly aside, so as not to be drawn once again to that scar nearly bisecting his torso.
  13. Things got a little bumpy as, having pulled up to a cave that was apparently Misea's promised resting spot, the knight tried to coax the horses inside the mouth and out of the rain. Wilhelmina pushed herself up from her seat under the cover of the wagon, and slipped out the back of it, amidst the rest of the gang, all likely eager to at least stretch their legs a little. Walking around a little--taking the lay of the land, as it were--the teacher's attention was grabbed by the sound of a clash on steel. Turning to get a good look at the source of the noise, it turned out to just be their fearless leader starting up a torch... and then taking off their clothes? Mina quickly averted her gaze, then slowly, curiously turned back for a bit of a better look. Without the clothing or armor in the way, yeah, no, how could she ever have mistaken the knight for a woman? It was a little embarrassing, truthfully. So many scars though, wonder what stories they told? What was more embarrassing, however, was the purposeful 'Miss Mina?' that soon enough came from the object of her observation. Flushing a little for having been caught staring, and being called out on it, she hastily stammered out an excuse. "I know I shouldn't be but, well, curiosity." By the luckiest chance the response almost properly addressed the actual question.
  14. The weather outside was rather matching her disposition at the moment, but Mina didn't see that as any reason to rain on everybody else's parade too. She gave a noncommittal grunt and shrugged, "Whatever everyone thinks best."
  15. California mass Shooting

    The problem with licensing is if not done carefully it essentially establishes a gun registry*, which has properly been cause for concern (and is currently illegal, if memory serves). However, I think it is fair to say that all items in your second bullet point are eminently reasonable precursors toward firearm ownership. The same holds for serial numbers or other identifying codes, but again, a database linking gun to owner in the hands of the government provides avenue for abuse. The right answer might be that rather than getting a license per se, every time the individual wishes to purchase, they must go through all checks for competence in bullet point two, and the vendor assume responsibility if the steps are skimped on or not properly documented. Every time. It would certainly be an inconvenience, as it's more time consuming than the eye test you take every time you renew your driver's license to be sure, but it might alleviate some concerns about the government having a list of everyone who has a gun. *Edit: Thinking on it some more, maybe an operating license could be sufficiently differentiated than an owning license. For example, not everyone with a driver's license owns a car. If acceptable compromise could be worked out, licensing in that form might be a good possibility.