Tying the sash tighter around herself, Serena walked down the stairs, into the bar, and went to leave, when someone called to her.
"Champ! Wait a sec!" Latina said, moving around the bar counter to get to her. "Hammer took off like a bat outta hell, but he left a message for you!"
"Yeah, he wants you all to meet him at the Wildcat Bar, in the civvie district, once you've got things took care of!"
Serena looked back to Fei and Citan, then back to Latina, nodding. They left the building, and went their separate ways. Serena went on to speak to Kaiser Sigmund, and they went for the supplies. As she made her way to the guards that she hoped would lead her there, she was fussing and straightening out her clothes, trying to recall how she was in her previous life… maybe being like a princess would make a good impression?
"Hold it!" one of the men shouted. "This is the Central District! Only authorized perso-"
"Wait, now. This's the new Champ herself. Serena, ain't it?"
She nodded a little, shuffling her feet in her weighted boots.
"The Kaiser's been waiting for you. Please, this way." He motioned to the door with his hand, though she hesitated, looking off for a moment. Rico was just right there… and she couldn't say anything. With a nod, she went with them, to let him do whatever he needed to do.
"This's the Central District," the guard informed. "Take the elevator, up the stairs, that's the Kaiser's room."
Serena followed their directions, her weighted boots clanking on the floor as she did so. The door slid open for her, and she stepped in, watching the Kaiser play the organ. It was a little creepy, and reminded her of a horror movie. She took a step back, contemplating taking off right then, but she felt Rico nearby… she couldn't just leave.
The clank of her boots on the floor caught his attention, and he turned around.
"Who is there?" he demanded, though didn't give her a chance to answer "Ah. So you are Serena. Welcome."
"You, uh… know who I am?" the princess demanded.
"Ha ha ha. Excuse me. I am the Kaiser of Kislev, Sigmund." With a slight groan, he stood up, listening to his back pop. "This… may sound rather sudden, but would you like to join forces?"
It WAS sudden; Serena had no answer to it.
"I find myself in need of your help."
Serena stood there, contemplating his offer for a few moments, when her crystal eyes went wide and she jumped back. Moments later, Rico landed where she had been standing.
"Rico?!" she cried out. She stood straight, looking at him with disbelief in her eyes. He just stood up, seeming to only now realize where the hell he was.
"No good! Later!" he shouted, taking off out the door.
"Security! Arrest the intruder!" Sigmund roared, before looking to Serena. "Was he with you?!"
"N-no! Honest, I had no idea!"
He didn't stop to say anything; instead he rushed from the room, calling for the guards, Serena running after him. He was rather spry for his age. The Kaiser and his men went the wrong way. She felt him the other way and so she went after his power. Turning down unfamiliar corridors, she somehow made it to a room that stood open, several minutes after she felt Rico enter. He was standing there, almost dumbfounded.
"Hey, Rico? Are you okay?" she asked, stepping in carefully. He made no acknowledgement of her presence. She puffed up and put her hands on her hips. "Really! Just what are you thinking, breaking into the Central District! This isn't good at all, you're gonna get in a lot of trouble!"
She would have continued on, but he looked back at her, causing her to shut up.
"Forget about it," he said, going to walk out, followed by Serena. As they moved away from the room, Serena still giving him her disapproving look, the Kaiser came forward, flanked by two guards. She tensed up, worried she'd have to spring into action if Rico tried to hurt someone to escape.
"How did you get in that room?!" the Kaiser roared, livid. Rico snorted at him.
"The door opened up."
"It can't open unless it scans the right DNA!" a guard yelled, sending Serena's mind into thought, recalling listening to Amy prattle on and on about stuff like this. "It can't open so easily!"
The Kaiser fell oddly silent, before speaking in a booming voice. "It was a malfunction!" he shouted. "It doesn't matter. Arrest the intruder, the Battling Committee is after him for breach of contract. Let them deal with him."
Serena wanted to stop them, but bit her tongue. Something was wrong about all of this, but to speak would likely lose the freedom she'd just recently gained. The guards escorted him off, and she looked to the Kaiser.
"It can't be," he said, more to himself than to anyone else. Looking to Serena, he regained his composure. "I have rather sudden matters to attend to, if you'll excuse me."
Serena nodded, watching him walk to his room.
"Please tour the district at your leisure. I'll be waiting for a positive response. Good day."
She met back up with Citan, who was waiting on her. He smiled as she wandered up.
"And how was your meeting?" he asked, trailing a few feet behind her. Serena just fiddled with her sash, saying nothing.
"Hey, Doc! Champ!" a familiar voice shouted as Hammer skid around the corner. "I got info on your Gear! I know where it is!"
Serena's eyes went wide. "I-it's dangerous to talk about something like that around here!" she whispered to him.
"Wha-? What's up with you, champ? I have info on your-" he began when Serena lifted him with a single hand, throwing him into a pile of boxes, startling him.
"L-let's meet at the appointed place to discuss such things, shall we?" Citan began, not know exactly how to scold Serena for her behavior. He motioned for Hammer to follow, climbing up a ladder to a roof where Fei was standing.
"So, where's it at?" Serena asked, looking to the demi-human.
"Just like we thought! It's been moved to another dispatch dock," he announced.
"So, where on earth is Weltall?" Citan asked. Being on another planet, two thousand years in the past, made that question a little weird for Serena to hear.
"Not 'on' earth, but 'under'! It's an underground dock in D block!"
"We just got out of there!" the princess whined.
"I've checked it out," Hammer continued, as if not hearing. "There's two routes we can use to sneak inside. The first one requires us to enter through the Battling Arena grounds."
"There's no way we'll be able to get in there. Serena, can you use that strong power to just… blow a hole in?" Fei wondered.
"N-no. My crystal was stolen, remember?" she reminded. "Most of my powers came from my crystal. I'm still strong, that came from some… intense training. But that power, the energy came from the crystal."
"Okay, then. What's the second?" Fei asked. Serena blinked at how quickly he accepted that answer. She'd been a little worried he would try to demand that she do so anyway. But when she said she wouldn't be able to, he took it and went along.
Fei was a good person, and it made her smile.
"Well, it's kind of dangerous, since it involves the supply train tunnel. You gotta get into the ducts and follow 'em right through 'til they hit the docks, but I don't got the layout. Sorry."
"No, no, that's pretty good. If I can get in, I can get everyone in easy!" Serena said with a smile. Fei accepted her limitations, so she would do everything she could to get Weltall out.
Hammer ran off to get the train schedules for them, while the other three went back to D Block, heading for the bar.
"Do you drink, Serena?" Citan asked as he headed for the door to hold it open for her.
"Oh, no. I'm only sixteen."
Nodding, his hand didn't reach the knob as the door swung open, three of the battlers leaving the bar, as though having been waiting for them.
"Who are you?" Fei demanded, suspicious.
"Ah, don't be so cruel," one of them said. "We've been waitin' on you."
"Please, come with us," another spoke.
Serena puffed up. "If this is one of your stupid 'ceremonies', I'll warn you, I'll give you hell!"
"Hey, hey, wait a minute!" the only woman of the battlers announced. "We're not trying to pick any fights. Keep talking like that, and we're gonna have a misunderstanding!"
The battlers she scolded lowered their heads. "Yes'm."
"Then, shall I assume you are not hostile?" Citan asked.
The woman motioned for them to walk along with her, leading them to Serena's room.
"So what do you all want?"
"The champ- …Rico needs your help." The woman said.
"Help Rico?" Citan was confused, but Serena understood.
"What happened to Rico? Was he caught?"
"Yes. There was a special broadcast. They found him guilty of attempted assassination against the Kaiser, and breaking Imperial Code section B. This warrants a public execution in the arena."
"He didn't try to kill the Kaiser, though! I saw him! He wasn't poised to strike, he was… it was like… he was looking for… for something!" Serena yelled, heart pounding.
"He would have. He's being used by the Ethos."
"What does the church have to do with this?" Citan asked.
"They used to have a lot of pull in the government, but Kaiser Sigmund ousted almost all of their influence. Then, to strengthen the military, he began to interfere with the Battling that was operated by them. They didn't like that, so they used Rico."
"That's terrible! Why!" Serena asked, Citan putting a hand to her back and rubbing to calm her.
"Rico was born in Nortune, but when Sigmund whipped up anti-demihuman sentiment, Rico got chased out when he was young. Now he harbors hatred for the Kaiser, the capital… the entire Kislev Empire. In the past, he had many chances to kill Sigmund. His earlier crash into the box seat was covered up as an 'accident', but it was a failed attempt. He's being manipulated."
"Please, Serena! Help the Champ!"
Serena looked from the battlers to Fei and Citan, wondering what she should do. When did this all get so complicated? She wanted guidance, to be told which decision was best, but no one would tell her. What if she screwed it all up? She wanted to help Rico, but she had to find Terra, before Galaxia did.
She went to speak, when she heard yelling.
"Champ! You in here?"
Hammer came running in, out of breath. Everyone looked at him, and Serena smiled to see him.
"Got it all! The supply train times, dates, and destinations! Got 'em all, no problem!" He seemed quite proud of himself before finally noticing the others in the room with them. "Huh? Hey, champ, what're they doing here?"
"Hold up, Hammer. Tell us about those supply trains," Fei urged.
Hammer seemed quite reluctant. "Is it… alright? What about these outsiders…?"
"It is fine. They are our friends," Citan explained.
With the doc's words, Hammer's reluctance evaporated. "Oh! Well, the next supply operating date is tonight. But, hey, if that's too soon, the next one-"
"Awesome!" Serena clapped her hands in determination. "Doc, can you get our supplies ready by then?"
He nodded, but Hammer waved his hands.
"Tonight's impossible! I thought we needed a thorough plan!" he warned.
"The situation's changed, and so have our plans. We have to move tonight," Fei warned.
"Whaat? A-are you serious?!"
"Did you happen to hear any interesting tidbits of information outside?" Citan wondered, crossing his arms.
"Uh, well the dorms are in an uproar over that Master Rico thing," he said, scratching his head.
"Do we have any details? Rico is to be executed at the arena, tonight. Correct?" Citan looked to their visitors for confirmation. The woman nodded.
"We're going in after Rico, no matter what!" Serena told them. "We'll get everything we need, and it's on our way out, right?"
Hammer nodded, but she didn't give him a chance to get upset. "Then there's no problem! I'll just get him out!"
Hammer left and as Serena turned to follow him, the woman stopped her and pressed a small pouch into her hand.
"Take this to gear up," she urged. "Two thousand gold."
Citan escorted Serena out as Fei took the money to begin the purchases they would need.
"Would you like to rest?" he wondered.
"Yeah. Today's been… exhausting. I've really over exerted myself. When we find the others, I need to get back to training. Gohan would have a fit," she laughed. Citan smiled and nodded as he led her back to her new room, where she laid down on the comfortable bed.
'Where are you Terra? Has the enemy found you out already?'