With her training well under way and her reunion with Sonata leading into rejuvenated friendship, life for Aria appeared to have taken a turn for a better. Granted, it was not the comfortable life she enjoyed while she possessed means to magically manipulate minds, but it certainly beat living in bus stops and scrounging for half-eaten burgers. Everything Aria did now held a measure of difficulty she was not used to, but knowing that she was safe under a warm roof with food in her belly helped alleviate the pain and frustrations from her new daily activities.
She went to her classes every day of the school week, and trained with Roza every night. Aria did not find ease in either; she really didn’t know anything about this world beyond what common sense and similarities between this place and Equestria could gleam for her, but thanks to Sonata and her new friends, Aria quickly brought the ever important “grade” to something respectable. She was no brainiac, but if she maintained her current pace, she’d have that diploma Roza made a requirement for her training.
Thoughts of training only made Aria’s body ache. Day in and day out, Aria pushed her body to limits she never even knew she had. If she wasn’t running on a treadmill, she was lifting weights. If she wasn’t getting tossed around by Roza to learn how to bump, she was tumbling around the ring like some fool monkey. Things only got more surreal when Roza brought in a training dummy she affectionately called “Slappy.” Made of bean-bags in the shape of person with a big smiley face for a head and targets all over its body, Aria practiced the various grappling positions, throws, and other techniques on her silent-yet-heavy training partner when Roza didn’t feel like taking a tumble.
When she did not train, Aria took up her mop and other cleaning implements to be Haven Gym’s very best chief custodial officer. Roza did in fact pay well and on time, two things that kept Aria going doing the dirty work. Thankfully there weren’t too many messes; Roza’s client base was limited to around twenty people who kept relatively good care of their own environments. Her job mostly amounted to keeping things looking good for the morning.
With schoolwork, training, and a job complete, Aria spent what little of her free time as she had to searching the city for Adagio. It would have been easier to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. People walked the streets in droves every day that when Aria went on a morning jog, she never saw the same face twice in a week.
Try as she might, Aria did not know where to begin the search for Adagio. The city was large and vast, the greater metropolitan area even more so. Until she hatched a plan, Aria needed to put the search on hold. It also meant that the nightmares involving Konstance Paine menacing her would continue, though thankfully they became rare in the last couple of weeks.
Now those final exams lay behind her and she just needed to wait for the final grades, Aria knew a new stage of her life was about to unfold. She never imagined she’d be in the situation she was in now. Aria always thought she’d be a Siren forever, singing and using her magic to get people to do what she wanted. Now she worked for what she wanted. It felt… good.
Her phone suddenly buzzed, stopping Aria mid jog. She pulled the phone out of her pocket and received a text message from Roza. It read:
It’s time. Tonight @ 6. Haven. Ur gear is here. Good Luck.
Aria’s heart began to race. This was it then. The final exam match against an unknown opponent. If Aria did not win…
No, Aria thought as she clenched her fist and stared out into the sunrise. I will win. I’m Aria Blaze. I’m going to make my name mean something. My road to glory begins now.
Aria opened the outer doors of Haven Gym, walked down the stairs, opened the inner doors, and met with a surprising coterie of her friends gathered in front of Roza’s ring. Steel folding chairs faced one side of the ring while the group chatted while waiting presumably for her. Sonata, facing the doors, smiled wide when she saw Aria arrived and swiftly ran towards her, pulling Aria into an uncomfortable but not altogether unpleasant glomp of a hug.
The other soon joined them while Sonata said, “Isn’t it exciting, Aria!? Roza asked Fluttershy to bring us for your final exam! When we got here, we’re supposed to play the part of the roaring crowd! I can’t wait!”
Aria looked past Sonata where Roza leaned against one of the ring posts with a large smug smile on her face. The last thing Aria wanted was for her friends to see her make a fool out of herself in the supposed “final exam” match. She also looked around for her opponent that would test her, but saw no one unusual.
“We’re looking forward to seeing your training,” Sunset said as they made their way back to the ring. “You’ve been working hard for so long. This is going to be great!”
“Not exactly my cup of tea, dear,” added Rarity, “but we’re here to support you all the way. Just try not to get too hurt in there.”
Roza clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “All right, we’re getting this show on the road. Kiddo, your gear is in the locker room. Put it on and we can get your final exam going.”
Her friends parted, giving her positive reinforcement while she walked to the back to change. When she entered the locker room, Aria saw a set of wrestling attire waiting for her on the bench. Standard black boots and kickpads longed to be laced up. They stood next to a roll of black tape. Good for her fingers and wrists to maintain her grip. Emerald green tights with her surname ‘Blaze’ embroidered on the side using red sequence. A bright yellow top with ‘Aria’ stitched in, this time in violet. Lastly, knee pads and elbow pads to protect her joints.
The gear of a professional wrestler, all perfectly crafted by Rarity. Aria was really doing this as she picked up one of the boots. This was going to be her life now.
“I can do this,” Aria said, preparing herself for the match ahead. “It will be different this time. I will do this. I’m Aria Blaze.”
Half an hour later, Aria stepped out of the locker and into the gym. Everyone turned to see their friend emerge and all gave a collective gasp. She felt embarrassed for a moment until the compliments came in.
“Looking good!” said Rainbow.
“Good? She looks hot!”
“You’ll eat them up and spit them out!”
Her friends began to cheer and chant her name as Aria approached the ring. If her confidence was a part of her, it would be swollen to a ludicrous degree right now. She was hot in this get-up, even if she felt a little silly in front of her friends. Their collective encouragement and admiration eased her doubt for the match to come and made it easier for her to approach the ring.
Just as Roza taught her, Aria jumped climbed onto the apron before turning to her small yet enthusiastic crowd. She raised her fist to the sky as a sign of confidence and everyone cheered in response. Stepping over the second rope, she stepped into the ring and stood by the corner, hopping on her toes to keep warmed up.
Roza, standing on the outside, nodded in approval of Aria’s entrance. She then rolled into the ring and stood up, looking Aria over. “You look the part, kiddo, but now it’s time to put up or shut up. Strapping on a pair of boots does not a wrestler make. I taught you all I could about competing in the ring, but now I need to find out if you can dance with a real opponent.”
This was it. The moment Aria waited for. “I’m ready. Who am I facing?”
Roza smirked. “Me.”
Pulling her shirt over her head, Roza revealed a simple black sport top that did more to accentuate her musculature. She then pulled down her sweat pants to show she wore plain black wrestling tights and black boots all laced up and ready to walk all over the ring. Aria stood back and kept a close eye on Roza. What was her angle? Roza was a three-time world champion while Aria was greener than fresh lawn in summer. She was going to be destroyed.
Roza bounced on her feet, looking eager and fresh despite her age. “Can’t just send you to the lions without knowing if you can hang with them,” she said, “Besides, I asked your friends to give some help for tonight’s main event. Since I like her so much, Fluttershy will be the official time-keeper.”
Fluttershy sat next to the bell, holding the hammer gingerly in her small hands. After getting pointed out by Roza, she sunk back in her chair trying to look as small as possible.
Roza then pointed at Sunset. “Pinkie Pie has a set of lungs on her, so she’ll do the ring announcing. Gave her cards so she knows what to say.”
Pinkie’s grin stretched from ear to ear as she waved her flash-cards at Aria.
“Lastly,” Roza continued, looking toward the doors, “We’ll need a referee. I asked your friends and they said there was really only one choice. Come on out!”
The doors opened and out walked a familiar lavender-skinned girl wearing the stripes of a referee. Aria’s eyes went wide as she recognized the girl as Twilight Sparkle, one of the lynchpins that led to the Siren’s defeat. Even with her large, thick-rimmed glasses, Aria knew it was her.
Aria stuck her head out between the ropes and called Sonata over. “Sonata, what is she doing here? I thought she went back to Equestria!”
“That’s not Twilight from Equestria, but the Twilight of this world!” Sonata explained, “You’ve been so busy training and catching up with school, you didn’t get a chance to meet her! She showed up at the Friendship Games!”
Twilight walked up the stairs and stepped under the second rope, looking nervous for her first gig as a referee. Adjusting her glasses, she waved to her friends before turning to the competitors in the ring. Aria’s mind swam as she thought about the fact that there were two Twilight Sparkles, but at least this one didn’t seem to know about her and her days of a Siren.
“I’ve studied all the books and manuals about refereeing a professional wrestling match,” Twilight said to Aria as if to reassure her. “Especially those under the purview of Amazon Championship Wrestling. I just want you to know that I’ll be calling this match right down the middle. May the best woman win.”
That did nothing to help Aria’s confidence. The best woman was right across the ring, someone who already travelled the champion’s road not once, not twice, but thrice.
Pinkie jumped up from her seat and bounced over to the ring, performing an impressive vertical leap onto the apron that took Roza by surprise. She then proceeded to jump over the top rope into the ring, further catching Roza off guard by her athleticism.
“Maybe I should have trained her,” Roza joked, though Aria only glowered at Roza in response.
Standing in the middle of the ring, Pinkie raised one of her flash cards and began to announce its contents. “Ladies and… more ladies! The following contest… ooh, there’s a contest?! Can I play too?”
Roza rolled her eyes. “Just read the card.”
“Right!” Pinkie cleared her throat, starting anew. “The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first! From Canterlot High, the amazing, the astonishing, the astounding, the—“
“Pinkie…” Aria looked to Pinkie who smiled back at her.
The small crowd of Aria’s friends began to cheer, already starting a “Let’s go, Aria!” chant. Aria had to admit that it felt good to hear her name chanted. Would it be the same way when she competed in an arena filled with hundreds, no, thousands?
That is what this match against Roza was all about, wasn’t it? To prove to herself that she could hang. If she could at the very least survive against a world champion, then she could survive in the ring. She could survive more than three minutes against the likes of Konstance Paine.
“Introducing her opponent!” Pinkie continued, “From Haven Gym, she is the raucous, the rambunctious, the ravishing, the…”
“Pinkie!” Aria snapped, only for Pinkie to show her the card.
“I’m just reading what it says!” Pinkie gave the card to Aria to see that all those adjectives were indeed on the card. She then looked at her own to see that the descriptors Pinkie used were absent. She added them herself.
“Can we please just get this show on the road?” Roza called.
Pinkie nodded and went back to her assigned duty. “Right! Give it up for Rrrrrrrrrrroza! Del! DIAVOLO!”
Aria’s friends gave another cheer, though not as heartfelt as it was for Aria, but more out of respect. Sonata, on the other hand, stood up and began the opposite of cheering.
“Boo! Boo!” she called out, “Aria’s gonna kick your butt! Go get her!”
With introductions done, Pinkie jumped over the top rope, landed on the ground, and sat back on her seat with only a smile on her face. Twilight stepped between Aria and Roza, arms raised to show they could not engage without her say so. Aria hung on to the top rope, rocking her legs back and forth. The butterflies in her stomach decided to turn into tornadoes. Roza looked calm and collected, but then she did this hundreds of times before.
“Are you ready?” Twilight asked Aria, who nodded in the affirmative. She asked Roza the same and she replied the same.
“All right! Ring the bell!”
Tink tink tink
Aria looked over to Fluttershy who held the hammer against the bell and wondered if she actually rang it. Roza, frustrated that the match wasn’t going exactly like she planned, walked over to the ropes and pointed at Fluttershy.
“You can hit the bell a little harder,” Roza said, “I need a good resounding ring from the bell to get this started!”
“A-are your sure?” Fluttershy replied, “I don’t want to ring it too loud. It might hurt someone’s ears.”
As they argued, Aria already saw an opportunity. Roza’s back was turned. She could win this easily in one swift motion, so long as she kept silent and Roza remained unaware. Twilight’s focus was also on the bell rather than the ring.
Rainbow Dash shifted in her seat uncomfortably only to get up and raise Fluttershy’s hand. “Let’s get this going right now!” she said with a raised voice, smacking the bell hard with Fluttershy’s hammer, her hand still gripped on the handle.
DING DING DING
Aria sprung, running over to Roza and then getting on her knees behind her trainer. She reached out between Roza’s legs and pushed against her abdomen, forcing Roza to fall backwards onto her back. Her shoulders on the mat, Aria got back to her feet and used her height as leverage for the pin. Twilight slid down to her side and raised her hand.
Roza pushed her legs outward and managed to get her shoulder up while also pushing Aria against the ropes. Aria clung to the top rope, caught off guard while Roza did a reverse somersault to get back to her feet.
“Sneaky. I like that,” Roza admitted, “But it takes more than a roll-up to put me away.”
Aria pushed herself off the ropes now a bit more careful. Arms raised, both Aria and Roza locked up, collar-and-elbow, and began test of strength to see who would get the advantage. Her friends continued to cheer her own, but good feelings could not help the fact that Roza was much stronger, able to push Aria towards one of the corners.
Her back against the padding, Aria tangled her arms with Roza’s and lifted them away from her face. Twilight called out to Roza to let go, citing that she needed to get out of the corner and back to the middle of the ring. Roza broke her hold on Aria, raising her hand and nodding to Twilight. Aria took a breath and prepared herself to get back into this match when Roza suddenly struck Aria’s gut by slamming her thigh into it.
Winded, Aria crumpled into the corner while Twilight stood between the two. Once more Roza held up her arms as if she didn’t do anything wrong. Groaning, Aria used the ropes to prop herself up and tried to regain her composure. She raised her arms again and stepped away from the turnbuckle only for Roza to sidestep Twilight and catch Aria in a sidelock. Caught and groggy, Aria could not resist being picked up in a side suplex. Before she was dropped, instinct kicked in and she managed to shift a bit so she landed on her shoulders rather than on her head.
It did nothing to stop the pain.
Before she could recover, Aria felt her arm getting wrenched behind her back and Roza’s knee pressing against the small of her back. The pain shot through her body, and she reached out towards the bottom rope, knowing that making it would get Twilight to break Roza’s hold. It was a long way to the ropes and she was facing the other way.
Roza began to pull harder on her arms. “Ask her, ref!” she called to Twilight, all the while Aria gave a scream as if her arm was being yanked out of its socket.
“Do you submit?” Twilight asked, her eyes almost pleading for Aria to say yes.
It would be a rather simple thing, to give up now. To let all of her training mean nothing. The pain was unbearable and her screams went unheeded. She should just tap out. Just quit.
Yet as Aria looked up to see the ropes that could save her, she also the saw the door leading into Haven Gym. She came into the business to make a name for herself. She trained, she sweated, she endured pain to make it. She felt the sting of defeat once at the hands of a monster. She would not feel it again thanks to Roza.
Despite the pressure on her back, Aria managed to push her feet until they were propped on the mat. With one hand outstretched, Aria propelled herself towards the bottom rope. Even though her arm and back hurt even more by giving Roza leverage, she did manage to make it to the bottom rope.
“Rope break!” Twilight called, “Roza, break the hold!”
Roza grumbled but did as she was told and, thankfully, let go of Aria. Aria reached for the second rope to get back to her feet when she felt Roza’s hands lift herself up. Suddenly she was hoisted onto Roza’s shoulders, her eyes wide as to what she was doing up here.
Turning to face Aria’s friends, Roza’s smirk was wide and sinister. Aria looked into the eyes of those she once called foe but now called friend. They were worried for her. This match wasn’t fun for them and they made such very clear. She was getting worked and they wanted her to stop.
She wouldn’t stop though. She came this far; Aria wasn’t going to back down now. Moving her arm, she began to pummel the side of Roza’s head with solid strikes using the back of her triceps. She felt Roza’s hold slacken and quickly shimmied off her shoulders until she was behind Roza. Wrapping her arms around Roza’s midsection, it was Aria’s turn to give a suplex of her own; the German Suplex.
Roza crashed into the mat shoulders first until she laid out sprawled. Aria’s recovery and subsequent counterattack was enough for the girls to start cheering again. Their voices drove her back to her feet, where Aria ran to the ropes, bounced off them, and jumped for a leg drop right on top of Roza’s chest. The blow connected and Roza held her chest in pain. Aria took advantage and went for the quick cover.
Twilight dropped to the mat and began the count. “One!”
Before her hand could get to three Roza pushed a shoulder off the mat. Twilight raised two fingers to the air. The match was still on.
Back on her feet, Aria grabbed Roza’s arms and lifted her up. With Roza standing, Aria draped Roza’s arm over her shoulder. She then began to lift, using what little momentum she had to carry Roza’s weight and entire body until Roza was completely vertical and upside down in the air. Aria continued the motion until both fell on their backs, though Roza took the brunt of the vertical suplex.
Aria rolled onto all fours, her eyes wide as she realized what she just accomplished. Before she tossed a dummy around, now this time she delivered an impressive suplex to an actual opponent. She tossed a world champion around!
Feeling the adrenaline rush, Aria jumped to her feet. Rather than going for the pin, Aria pressed the attack by running to the ropes, bouncing off, and while approaching Roza, jumping up. She extended her leg, aiming to drop it onto Roza’s chest.
Only this time, Roza was ready for the leg drop. She rolled out of the way of the leg and with Aria committed to her jump she crashed down onto the mat without a body to fall under. She moaned in pain after landing hard on her tailbone, only to look up to see Roza recover, bounce off the ropes, and take to the air herself for a dropkick. Aria only managed to get her hands up in time to protect her face, but the force from the dropkick still hit her hard.
Flat on her back, Aria felt Roza lift her leg for the pin. Twilight began to count, but before she could hit her hand for the three, Aria managed to get her shoulder up in time. She wasn’t done yet, despite her body wanting to quit. The pain, while immense, was merely pain and it would pass the moment she won this match. She intended to do that.
Granted, Roza did not make it easy for her. Grumbling, she grabbed Aria by the hair and pulled her up until the younger woman was on her knees. “This is who I spent time, effort, and money into shaping!” She pointed at Aria’s face while staring daggers at her friends. “This… this is the face of a loser! A failure! I should have tossed her ass out onto the snow the moment she came through those doors!”
Aria’s mouth gaped open. Roza… she didn’t mean that, did she? After everything Aria went through, all of the indignities of being a lowly janitor, of having to go to the school where she ostracized herself, of going through training from hell… Roza would not just toss her aside like she did?
Was she right though? Was everything for naught? She couldn’t beat Roza. She did not have the experience, the skill, or the power. Aria might as well lie down and get pinned.
“You’re wrong!” Sonata yelled, her voice snapping Aria out of her malaise. “Aria came too far to lose to you! She’s not a loser! She’s stronger than you know! I believe in Aria, and she’s going to win! ARIA! ARIA! ARIA!”
Sunset Shimmer took Sonata’s hand and followed her lover’s lead, chanting Aria’s name. The others soon followed, standing on their feet and pumping their fists in time with her name. Even Twilight, who should have been unbiased, silently mouthed her name. They believed in her. They wanted to see her win.
If they could believe in her, maybe Aria should get started on that as well.
Despite Roza’s grip on her violet locks, Aria managed to prop herself onto one knee. Standing up, though hunched due to Roza’s hold, Aria turned to face Roza. Her fists clenched, she lashed out with hard punches square on Roza’s abdomen. Having not expected nor the ability to quickly defend herself, Roza keeled over from the blow to her gut. She let go of Aria who quickly rebounded off the ropes for momentum. When Roza looked up, her eyes met Aria’s briefly as Aria extended her arm and performed a clothesline on Roza’s chest.
Roza, though knocked down, quickly recovered. Already on the move, Aria bounced off the ropes and clotheslined her again. Once more Roza got back to her feet, only now for Aria to be ready. Taking hold of Roza’s top and tights, Aria lifted her mentor into the air and dropped her on her extended knee for a gutbuster. Roza collapsed onto the mat. Aria roared, the adrenaline surging through her blood.
“Go for the pin!” Applejack yelled, “You got her!”
Aria agreed with Applejack and went for the cover. Twilight once more slammed her hand twice, but once more did Roza get her shoulder up before the three count. Aria looked up at Twilight in disbelief as she held up two fingers. That flurry should have put Roza away. Breathing hard, Aria grabbed Roza by the arm and pulled her up. If she wasn’t going to stay down, then Aria would give more hurt. With Roza’s arm in her grasp, she pulled for an Irish whip into the corner—
Only for Roza to stand her ground and reverse the Irish whip with one of her own. Flung into the turnbuckle, Aria collided with the padding giving a small grunt of pain. Frustration mounted and she threw herself forward to immediately counter attack with another clothesline. Roza ducked under Aria’s outstretched arm and used the turnbuckles as steps. Both women turned around, but Aria only had enough time to raise her hands once more to protect her face as Roza, fast as a whip, threw a kick that struck Aria’s hands, and thus her head, with great potency.
Fallen, Aria’s vision blurred and her mind swam. She felt her leg getting tugged upward. That was strange… it meant she was getting pinned.
She was getting pinned!
Aria kicked out of the pin, rolling her shoulder up just in time. Her vision returned and Twilight looked exasperated by the whole affair. So was Roza. Shaking her head, Roza grabbed Aria and dragged her to the center of the ring.
“You’re not ready,” Roza said, though loud enough for everyone to hear. “You’re not ready. I have to pull the trigger before you get in the ring and hurt yourself. Time to put you down.”
Her body refused to move as she lay on the canvas and only able to watch as Roza stepped over the second rope and began to climb the turnbuckle. Roza was wrong, Aria was ready. She felt ready despite all the damage she took in this contest. She needed to show not just Roza or her friends that she was ready, but the world.
Perched on the top rope, Roza took flight with what Aria understood was the frog splash. The way she jumped resembled that of a frog. Time seemed to slow down for Aria as feeling returned to her limbs. When Roza’s blocked out one of the lights, Aria made her move and rolled out of the way.
Roza crashed to the mat face down. She clutched at her midsection and kicked her feet, her eyes squeezed shut from the pain. Aria climbed up the turnbuckles in the corner sluggishly, draping her arms across the top portion while trying to catch her breath. She saw Roza roll over to her hands and knees, her own breaths hard and laboured. This was it. The moment Aria was waiting for.
She crouched low, not once leaving sight of Roza. Everything unimportant to this one critical moment vanished. The gym, her friends, and Twilight were all covered in shadow. This was her moment to seal Roza’s, and her own, fate.
Back on feet, Roza turned to face Aria though her motions were groggy and slow. The moment now come, Aria surged towards Roza, her head low and her arms outstretched. Roza did not get out of the way and Aria pushed off the canvas and connected with a charging spear tackle, slamming Roza’s head and back to the mat with force.
With Roza down, Aria went for the pin. Twilight, though exhausted, still managed to slide down and begin the count.
DING DING DING
Aria fell onto her back and breathed heavy, the room spinning as the adrenaline gave way to exhaustion. She could feel Twilight pulling on her, talking to her, but her body felt numb and her ears muffled the voice. She thought she heard cheering, but she wasn’t sure. It seemed impossible… did she…
Did she… win?
Aria flipped over to her hands and knees. She slowly began to rise when Twilight lifted her up and excitedly raised Aria’s arm. The other girls ran towards the ring, all of them cheering and singing Aria’s praises. Roza rolled away from the group and sat in a corner as the others made their amazement known.
“That was incredible, Aria!” Sonata said, hugging Aria tight. “I knew you could do it! I knew it I knew it I knew it!”
“So violent…” Rarity said, though her smile didn't falter. “But I have to admit, seeing you perform in that outfit made my heart skip a beat! You looked incredible in every way possible!”
“AHEM!” Pinkie caught everyone’s attention, looking stern and serious. “I still have a job to do as a ring announcer after all.”
“Here is your winner… ARIA! BLAZE!”
They all gave a great cheer that shook Aria’s ears, but she did not mind. While her body ached, her heart soared. Aria Blaze won. She went toe-to-toe with a world champ and prevailed. The time for reflection was over.
“It’s time celebrate!” Pinkie yelled out. “We should totally have a great big bonanza of a party!”
A loud cough from Roza silenced everyone. She walked up to Aria and the two locked eyes for a moment. Aria could see that Roza was proud of her as her trainer had a genuine smile rather than her signature smirk. Roza then took hold of Aria’s wrist and raised it to the air, eliciting another chorus of cheers.
“Good match, kiddo,” Roza said, “You got what it takes. I can see that now, more than ever. Just keep your head on straight and you’ll do fine in this business. Now go on, get out of here, party with your friends. We’ll get the details of actually getting you working in the business done soon enough.”
Aria’s face began to hurt only because she did not stop smiling. One by one her friends exited the ring with Aria being the last as they all talked about her and her match. Aria retreated to the change room, changed into some proper clothes, and reunited with her friends. The hard part now over, she just wanted to celebrate with those who gave her confidence and strength.
Roza was right: the challenges of tomorrow could wait. For now, she was with the people who cared for her and they were going to have a great time.
Roza watched as Aria and her cadre left Haven Gym for whatever kids fresh out of high school did for fun these days. Her side hurt but she was no worse for wear. It was time to get the kid’s ball rolling. While it may seem underhanded to video record someone without their permission, Roza figured it was the best way to go about things. A live camera would only give Aria undue stress, at least more than necessary. The kid had enough to deal with.
She headed to her office where the hidden camera streamed the match to the interested party. Clicking on a communication program, Roza then clicked on the “share cam feed” button. A turquoise face with green hair tied in a large bun sat at her desk, her fingers steepled while thick yet fashionable glasses sat on the bridge of her nose.
“Well then,” Roza said as she unlaced her boots. “What do you think? Kid’s got talent.”
“A lot of people have talent, Roz,” the woman said, “but is she money?”
“She’s young. Hot. Fresh. Talented. Hungry.” Roza sighed in relief when she finally got her boots off, casually tossing them aside. She wiggled her toes about, not once facing the woman on the cam feed. “All the ingredients to a rising star.”
“Or another money sink.” The woman did not sound overtly impressed, though Roza did not let her annoyance show outwardly. “You are fifty-fifty with your trainees, and I don’t like those odds. Then again, the last one proved to be great money.”
An awkward silence drifted in Roza’s office as she kept one eye on her computer where the woman was deep in thought. Finally she said, “She has a look, I’ll grant you that, and she moves well for a complete rookie. I won’t decide anything here. I’ll sleep on it, but I also want to speak with her.”
That was something at least. “Great!” Roza said, her attention now on the screen. “When do you want to meet her? We can get her into some indy leagues, get some experience.”
“Tomorrow,” the woman answered. “Remember, this is business.”
Alarm bells rang in Roza’s head as she realized the implications of those words. Before she could object the feed cut off and her computer said the woman signed off. Taking a deep breath, Roza put on more sensible clothes and locked up Haven Gym for the night. Once in her car, she zoomed off back home.
Things were moving quickly, so she needed to respond in kind. Hope the kid was ready, things were about to get real rough.