This is it. This is the first day of the rest of my life. Deep breaths Aria, deep breaths. You can do this. You are Aria Blaze.
Aria stared out the window as Roza’s car drove down the road until she saw the arena come into view. She held onto the straps of her duffle bag as if it were a lifeline that she needed to have an iron grip on. Should she let the strap slip, Aria would tumble down an endless void of sorrow and despair. Needless to say, her imagination got the better of her thanks to anxiety.
Roza seemed to notice. “Calm down, chica,” she said as she lazily guided the car. “Two things might happen tonight. One, you have an awesome debut and you are on your way to wrestling greatness. B, you lose, become ashamed, and you stay at my gym as chief custodial officer. Either way, I win.”
“Way to boost my confidence,” Aria said with all due sarcasm. “I’m sure you already have the mop and bucket waiting for me back at home.”
“Aw, you called Haven Gym home.” Roza snickered. “Should I get you a welcome mat, maybe a few houseplants? Trust me, I’d love nothing more than to have you stick around and clean up after everyone, but I’d also like you to get your own place so that I don’t have to say I harbour a hobo.”
“I have my contract,” Aria said with a measure of pride. “I still can’t believe it. Three hundred thousand. It seems like yesterday I was digging around garbage cans for food and scrounging for loose change. Now I can afford my own place. This is great!”
Roza shook her head as she held a loose grip on the wheel. “Don’t let that confidence get to your head. You still have to actually perform in the ring, you know. O’Cash got you to sign the dotted line, but you still need to do your part. All of my training doesn't prepare you for a live crowd and knowing that your face is going to be on TV for millions. It’s a lot of pressure, especially on a chick fresh outta Canterlot High.”
Aria silently conceded that point. She was used to performing for crowds as a siren, but not as a wrestler. What if she missed a step? What if her opponent caused irreparable harm? Everything she attained could be swept out from under her in a heartbeat. Maybe things would get so bad that she was worse off. The thought chilled her.
Roza seemed to notice Aria’s anxiety and laughed in some effort to lighten the mood. “Don’t worry so much,” she said, nudging Aria’s arms with her fist. “You were trained by the best so you can be the best. Just go out there and do what you need to do, and that’s to win. Keep out of trouble for a little bit, just get some experience in the ring. Most important, don’t get pushed around by anyone. The wrestling game is played more outside of the ring than inside. There are going to be chicks in that locker room that are going to try to get you to doubt yourself. They will want to get in your head before you even step between the ropes. You just worry about yourself and not what they have to say. Go out, perform, win, come back in one piece. That’s all.”
The car rounded a bend on the highway giving Aria a good view of the Parthenon Arena. Large in scale, Aria learned from the internet that it held a standard capacity of eighteen thousand people and was built by the O’Cash family. As the arena for many professional sports teams, the Parthenon Arena saw lots of use, but of great uniqueness was that it was the home of the Amazon Championship Wrestling federation where ACW Tuesday Night SLAM took place.
The building seemed to loom over Aria like a massive fortress the closer they drove. The sun’s convenient position allowed the arena to cast its long shadow over the road, which did nothing for Aria’s confidence.
Roza guided the car around the building until they were at the rear where several large trucks sat as workers unloaded pallets of concession food. The car stopped inside a parking space with Roza leaving the vehicle first. Aria followed still clutching her bag tight in her grasp.
Aria saw that her mentor did not move for a while. She merely stared at the building with a stern look on her face. The sunglasses hid the expression on her eyes, though she eventually broke eyesight. Coughing into her fist to get her attention, Roza smirked at Aria and motioned to the entrance. “Employees entrance is right over there, kiddo. I’ve got some stuff to do, so you’ll be on your own from here on out. I’ll be in the crowd watching, but not at ringside. You need to make a name for yourself by yourself. Seeing me in your corner can cause complications.”
Aria nodded at Roza. If she was seen with Roza, the other Amazons might not respect her and look at her as riding a former champion’s coattails. Taking hold of her duffle bag, Aria stepped out of Roza’s car and walked towards the employee entrance. She turned to wave at Roza who responded in kind before driving off. With a deep breath, Aria walked up to the building, fishing for her ACW badge to get inside.
As she dug around her pockets, Aria briefly checked her watch. Two forty-five. Fifteen minutes before when O’Cash wanted her to arrive.
A quick swipe of her card and the door clicked open, giving Aria entry. The inside of the arena looked clean, with some stage-hands moving equipment and paperwork about. One even carried four different trays of coffee in what looked like a precarious balancing act. Aria took off her sunglasses and tucked them away in her jacket. She looked up and saw a sign that read “Talent Locker Rooms.”
“Must be where I’m supposed to go,” Aria said. She slung her duffle bag over her shoulder and headed in the direction of the arrow. Silence ruled the corridors of the Parthenon Arena. None of the workers stopped to talk to Aria or even say hello. Aria shrugged it off as them simply preparing for tonight’s show. O’Cash must keep her workers on a tight leash.
Making her way to the locker rooms, Aria noted that several of the doors had different signs attached to them. One door read “ACW World Champion.” Another read “ACW National Champion,” while another read “ACW Tag Team Champions.”
Further down, Aria saw more doors with more signs. One side had a strange character on the sign. Another: “VIP.” “Main Event.” “Mrs. O’Cash.” Aria stopped in front of that door and contemplated knocking to see if her new boss sat within. Deciding against it, Aria kept walking until she found another door. “Talent Locker Room A.”
“This must be it,” Aria said aloud. Another deep breath. She needed to ready herself for whoever waited for her on the other side. With a hand on the door handle, Aria turned it and stepped inside.
Inside was a room filled with women of varying sizes, shapes, and colours the like would give Rainbow Dash’s hair a run for its money. Several stood around in varying degrees of undress as they changed from street clothes to wrestling attire. Some were already changed, while others remained in semi-casual clothes. They chatted amongst themselves while others did stretches. What unified them was that they all had fit athletic bodies and that they all stopped what they did and stared at Aria.
While some continued to stare, some started to whisper. The hushed voices bothered Aria the most. Slowly she stepped inside, almost bumping into one woman who jumped around on one foot trying to get her tights on.
Aria held onto the woman before they both fell over. “Whoa! Almost took a tumble there,” said the red haired woman. She looked familiar to Aria. Besides crimson hair, her skin also held a bright red hue, though several large black tattoos marked her arms and the full length of her back. Bright green eyes stared down Aria as the woman continued her tirade. “That would have been so bad to knock you over because you might have gotten hurt and if you got hurt then you wouldn’t be able to make it to your match and if you can’t compete because of an injury then O’Cash gets mad and—“
“Octane!” a large, well-built woman approached the other one. “We don’t need the rookie scared off because of your motor mouth. Besides, you have opening match tonight, so get ready.”
Octane hopped away while the larger woman pointed to an empty locker. “You can use that one if you like,” she said, “Get changed quick, the booker will be here announcing tonight’s events.”
Aria nodded and started to unpack her things. She could still feel the eyes of the other Amazons on her back, making her rather uncomfortable with the prospect of changing. Then again in a few scant hours, all comfort would be out the window when she stepped between the ropes. Sighing, Aria started to take off her clothes and got into her wrestling attire.
Once her boots were laced, her tights and shirt on, and her elbow pads strapped on her arms, Aria cut some black tape and began to work on her fingers when a woman in glasses and a clipboard walked into the locker room.
“Ladies,” she said, adjusting her glasses, “I’ve already spoken to those in locker room B, so let’s get this started. Tonight, Octane versus Vesper. Siege, you have five minutes promo time before you take on Apex.”
“Sweet, more TV time.”
“We then have a segment between Ice Cold and Kass for fifteen minutes, followed by newcomer Aria Blaze taking on Dame Lash. Is Aria present here? I didn’t see her in B.”
Aria stood up. Her heart began to race once again. “I’m here,” she announced, “I’m ready for tonight.”
“Good,” the booker said, “After you, Mei Xing versus Tera Ryzing, followed by a ten minute promo between Chihiro Shinigami and O’Cash, then the Coterie against the Unity. Finally, our main event is Kass versus Chihiro Shinigami with Ice Cold on commentary.”
With the schedule posted on a bulletin board inside the locker room, the Amazons of the ACW resumed their previous activities, while some already milled out of the locker room. Aria took another look of the schedule. Nowhere did it say the name “Konstance Paine.” Good. Aria was not certain what she would do if she went face to face with that monster again.
She looked around the locker room at all the other women and wondered if one of them was the third recommendation that got her the meeting with O’Cash. She knew of Roza and Konstance’s contributions, though she did not know the motive of the latter. The fact that a third name joined the others but remained unknown bothered Aria.
Her gear on, Aria decided to go for a walk before the opening bell rang and the show began. As she stepped outside, she bumped into something large and solid.
Aria needed to look up. Way up. Standing in front of her, the tallest woman Aria ever met looked down on her with vivid brown eyes. Long blonde hair cascaded down strong facial features while golden skin shone in the corridor lights. A single white top matched white tights with bold red biohazard symbols running down the length. Slung over her shoulder was the ACW World Championship Title.
In her haste, Aria just bumped into the seven foot tall ACW Grand Champion, the Living Weapon, Kass.
Kass adjusted her championship so that the front plate shone more prominently. “Never seen you around here before,” she said, her voice deep, clear, and concise. “You must be the new girl, Aria.”
The champ heard of me, Aria thought, could she have been the third name, as unlikely as that sounds?
“I am,” Aria said. She raised her hand to Kass for a shake; it made sense to give the current champion some respect. Surprisingly to Aria, Kass took hold with one of her massive mitts.
“Keep your nose clean,” Kass said as she gave one firm shake. “And make sure you know who your friends are.”
Aria did not know what to make of Kass’s words of wisdom, though she filed them away in her mental file cabinet. Instead of worrying about the champ, Aria focused on the coming match. With plenty of time between now and showtime, Aria took the opportunity to familiarize herself with the Parthenon Arena and her fellow Amazons.
The night went on and the card progressed, Aria watched as wrestlers with years of experience under their belts. First, Vesper beat Octane. While Octane possessed impressive speed and acrobatic ability, Vesper seemed to know how to counter such with excellently timed counters. Aria did not know what she was going to learn simply by watching the TV, but she focused on it as if it was the window to her destiny.
The match between Siege and Apex was a violent affair, as both women were taller and more muscular than the average woman. Siege alone had biceps apparently made of steel. However, large muscles proved ineffective to simple cunning as Apex smashed Siege’s face into the mat. Aria felt certain that she did not want to meet either woman in the ring, but that was not her decision.
Aria took a deep breath as she stood outside of the curtain. A sort of quiet hung around the arena which quelled the din of the crowd. Thanks to Roza, she was fast-tracked into the position she was in now. Half a year ago, Aria scrounged for loose change to buy food and took shelter in bus stops. Now she readied to walk onto the ramp and towards the ring, where the waiting thousands in attendance would see her.
Her heart raced. Her breathing quickened. Her fears mounted. Yet despite all this, Aria kept telling herself one thing, one truth:
I am Aria Blaze, and I will be a champion.
The crewman who wore a headset looked at Aria and held up his hand to wait. Another crewman walked with a woman wearing what amounted to a black leather corset with matching hot pants and boots, all embroidered with shining silver thread detailing flowers. A black cape drifted behind her, tied around her chest by a bright red stone that made Aria more uncomfortable than the woman wearing it. It looked too much like her siren pendant, though not exactly. She adjusted her elbow pads and kneepads when she looked up at Aria and smirked.
“Hey there, rookie,” she said, “Don’t worry. I’ll try my best to be gentle.”
Aria did not reply but instead kept bouncing on her heels. Her opponent for the night, Dame Lash, headed over to the curtain. The Dame blew Aria a kiss as the crewman signaled for someone. Lash did not impress Aria and really made her question if joining the AWC was the right move. She was, after all, wrestling what appeared to be a dominatrix. It made some degree of sense, but only in the way that any wrestling gimmick seemed to make.
Suddenly the lights darkened in the arena, with only a dark shade of pink lighting to set up the mood. A slow musical theme, accentuated with the sound of a whip cracking every few moments. Aria watched Dame Lash make her entrance on a nearby screen. She walked with confidence, stopping only for a moment to wave her cape with a bit of flourish as the nameplate appeared on the screen, telling anyone who just tuned in who this competitor was. Fans in the front row stuck out their hands for a quick high-five, but Dame Lash merely ignored them.
Dame Lash walked up the steel steps to the ring and slid under the second, taking a moment to let the camera focus a bit on her rear. Again, Aria wondered if all the talk from Roza and O’Cash about treating women wrestlers with respect was just that; talk. This seemed rather blatantly sexual, rather than simply sexy due to good looks.
Once in the ring, Dame Lash posed again, putting emphasis on her bust until she cracked her whip. Aria heard the snap from the Gorilla Position and wondered why someone was allowed to bring such to the ring. She tucked that thought away as the music ended. It was her turn soon.
The crewman who still had his hand up all this time began to count down. Aria counted his fingers as moment by moment he brought the count to zero. At zero he gave the thumbs up to another member of the crew, who pressed the button that would play Aria’s theme.
The roar of an electric guitar signaled the arrival of Aria. With a head full of both anxiety and confidence, both in constant struggle, Aria stepped through the curtain and into the arena.
She was not sure what to expect. She was the new girl, the rookie, the greenhorn, and the icy reaction backstage did not help matters. However, as she stepped foot in front of the cheering crowd, they did not boo her at first appearance. They cheered and clapped, all for her. The children in attendance pointed in her direction looking rather excited. Fans in the front row stuck out their hands again, hoping for that brief touch with a wrestling star.
Aria soaked it all in for a moment, almost overwhelmed by the tangle of emotions within her. She almost wanted to cry that she was not only back in front of a crowd, but on live TV being broadcasted to people watching at home around the world. While she did not sing, Aria could perform once again.
She then remembered that she was on live TV and needed to continue her entrance. Aria stepped to the front of the stage and posed, turning to her side and bending her right leg to show off her figure while pointing up to someone in the upper bowl of the arena. It was Roza’s advice after all to make everyone in the arena seem important.
With steps filled with pride and confidence, Aria walked down the ramp, taking the time to give high fives and slap as many hands as possible. As she walked, the ring announcer raised the mic to her lips.
“Introducing her opponent, the newest addition of Amazon Championship Wrestling… ARIA BLAZE!”
Her heart floated to the heights of the rafters when Aria heard her name blasted on the arena’s sound system. She looked into the eyes of as many fans in the front row as possible and soaked in their cheers and adulations. Soon they and the world would see exactly what she was made of. It would be her name they cheered for.
Aria walked up to the apron of the ring and, forgoing the steel steps, climbed up to the edge. She stared down Dame Lash, her grip on the top rope tightening as adrenaline pumped in her veins. Aria jumped over the top rope, her feet landing on the mat with a thud.
Now in the ring proper, Aria walked past Dame Lash and looked her right in the eye. She then walked over to a turnbuckle, climbed up, and posed for the crowd. She pointed with each hand to the sky, standing tall on the second rope for all to see. Once she got off the turnbuckle, Aria walked over to her corner, only to see the Teratron for the first time displaying her name. She gasped as she saw every letter on her name set on fire with a spinning, flashing violet background.
“My name is in the lights,” Aria said aloud, though only barely above a whisper. “I’ve made it. I really have made it.”
Aria snapped out of her reverie and continued her walk to her corner. She still had a match to win after all.
The referee looked to Dame Lash and asked if she was ready. The Dame, already bored, yawned and nodded to the referee.
He then looked to Aria. “Are you ready?”
Aria nodded. “Let’s do this.”
With both competitors ready, the referee signaled to the timekeeper to ring the bell.
DING DING DING!
With the bell rung, Aria and Lash approached each other with arms outstretched, ready to grapple. They met in the center of the ring and immediately locked up in a collar-and-elbow hold. As they both struggled, Aria felt the sudden strength of Lash push against her, taking her by surprise. Forced backwards, Aria found it difficult to match the strength of Lash and soon noticed her back pressed against the pads of the turnbuckles.
Lash pushed her forearm into Aria’s face, preventing any movement from her. Aria cursed inwardly as she struggled to push Lash off while the referee called for a break from the hold. Lash raised her hands, appearing innocent of any wrong doings while Aria looked at her like she just grew another head.
However, before Aria could react or do anything, Lash struck her with a swift knee to the stomach. Aria’s eyes went wide from the pain, only for Lash to repeat her attack. The referee called for Lash to stop and warned that he would disqualify her. This seemed to drive Lash off, only now used her long, leather clad legs to press her boot against Aria’s chin.
“Lick my boot and maybe I’ll go easy on you!” Dame Lash laughed as the referee began to count again to five. At four, Lash released her illegal hold, this time allowing Aria to fall to the mat. She pressed her hands against the back of her neck as the pain pulsed through her body.
Lash grabbed Aria’s hair and pulled her opponent to her feet. Aria, now sufficiently annoyed, clasped her hands together unbeknownst to Lash. When her opponent exposed her abdomen, Aria stuck hard by driving her elbow into it. The first blow took Lash completely off guard and the second forced her to release her grip on Aria.
Now free, Aria took the opportunity to go on the offensive. She quickly took hold of Lash’s head and tucked it under her right arm in a front facelock. Dragging Lash to the center of the ring, Aria lifted her right leg up only to swing it, and her entire body forward, for a powerful DDT, slamming Lash face first into the mat.
Lash immediately recoiled, holding her face in her hands as Aria flipped her over and made a pin attempt. The referee slid down and began the count. The crowd began to shout the countdown as well.
Before the third count, Lash pushed her left shoulder off the mat, signaling that she was still very much in the match. Aria took the moment to catch her breath as she lifted Lash by her hair this time. Once her opponent stood upright, Aria grabbed Lash’s arm and threw her in an Irish whip towards the ropes. When Lash instinctively bounced off the ropes and back towards Aria, she extended her arm in an attempt at a clothesline.
Lash, far more experienced than Aria, ducked underneath Aria’s arm. When Aria turned, Lash struck out with a hard kick to Aria’s stomach, sending her reeling from the pain. As Aria suffered, Lash bounced off the ropes again, only this time she reached out, grabbed Aria’s head, and swung her body around into a swinging neckbreaker. Aria fell back first to avoid damage to her neck, but the attack still caused a lot of pain.
Lash went for the cover and brought his hands down one, two, only for Aria to raise her shoulder to avoid the pinfall loss. She ground her teeth together as she tried to get into an upright position. She was not about to lose her first match in the ACW. Everything she worked for in her life depended on this match.
And what would she say to Sonata and the others if she lost to a dominatrix? She would never live it down.
Now Lash went back on the offensive. She immediately set to work on Aria’s stomach once again with vicious stomps, all the while taking the time to crush the arms with her boots. When she deemed Aria sufficiently softened up, Lash sat her upright and then pulled on her arms. With her knee, Lash pushed against Aria’s back. The pain caused on her back and her arms coursed through Aria’s body like fire.
The referee beckoned for Aria. “Do you submit? Do you give up?”
Aria screamed from the agonizing pain, but shook her head. She did not get this far only to tap out now. Her defiance in the throes of the hold was only met by Lash pulling on her limbs even harder. She removed her knee only to grind it into Aria’s back again to reintroduce the pain.
“Give up, rookie!” Lash yelled. “This is the big leagues and you don’t belong here!”
Desperate to escape the hold, Aria pulled her arms forwards, trying to get some kind of leverage against Lash. She also began to shift her legs as she bent her legs so she was on her knees. Lash fought against Aria’s movements by increasing the pain, but Aria ignored everything except the need to be flat footed again. Once on her feet, Aria slowly stood up, forcing Lash to choose between keeping her knee on Aria’s back or hopping around on one foot.
She made the decision to release the hold, only to quickly wrap her arms around Aria’s midsection in an attempt at belly-to-back suplex. Before Lash could gather the necessary strength to lift her, Aria struck Lash in the side of the head with a sharp elbow. Lash reeled back, giving Aria an opportunity to counterattack.
With her hand raised high, Aria chopped Lash in the chest right on the collar bone. The crowd gave cheers of “Woo!” with every chop until Aria forced Lash to have her back to a turnbuckle. With Lash stunned and her chest now red from the chops, Aria hoisted her onto her shoulders and walked over to the center of the ring. With a primal shout, Aria threw Lash off her shoulders while falling with her, driving her own shoulders into Lash’s chest for twice the impact; the Death Valley Driver.
Aria crawled over to Lash and made for another pin attempt, this time hooking the leg. The referee slid down and began the count again.
Again, Lash managed to kick out of the pin, with the crowd giving a collective call of “Two…!” Aria shook her head in disbelief. She needed to do something big to put Dame Lash away.
With a fistful of hair, Aria lifted Lash to her feet, only for Lash to push her off and towards the ropes. Surprised by Lash’s sudden stamina, Aria bounced off the ropes and headed towards Lash’s own clothesline. Like her opponent, Aria ducked under the extended arm and turned to hit the ropes. As she turned, Aria saw Lash jump attempting at a dropkick. Instead of receiving a pair of boots to her chest, Aria hung onto to the ropes. Lash’s eyes went wide as she missed her attack, falling flat on her side without any impact to make up for it.
Now that Lash lay on her back, Aria responded with an attack of her own. She ran from her side of the ring to the ropes parallel to Lash. Heart racing at the thought of her next move, Aria threw caution to the wind and jumped towards the ropes. Her feet pressed against the second rope as she held onto the top and with momentum from the ropes, Aria launched herself with a springboard moonsault, or as it was more well known as by the name “Lionsault”.
Aria did not go for another pin this time. Instead, she got to her feet and stood next to a turnbuckle and simply waited for Lash to get to her feet. Standing low, Aria kept one hand holding the second rope as she watched Lash slowly stand up, her eyes dazed and groggy. Lash turned to face Aria which was all the signaling she needed.
Running at a full tilt, Aria sprinted across the mat and towards Lash. She pushed off with her feet and caught Lash, lifting her up and slamming her down in the middle of the ring with a violent Spear.
Lash, now stunned, could not do anything as she lay flat on her back with her limbs splayed about. Aria made for the pin attempt and once more hooked the leg. The referee moved back into position and raised his hand while the crowd shouted the numbers.
DING DING DING!
Her theme now blasting from the arena speakers, Aria slowly got to her feet once the adrenaline of the match wore off. She stood up to hear the crowd cheer as the referee raised her hand in victory. Aria’s grin reached from ear to ear as she soaked in the adulation of what she just accomplished: her first victory in the ACW. The first time the world saw her victorious in the ring.
The announcer raised the microphone to her lips. “Here is your winner by pinfall… ARIA! BLAZE!”
The crowd erupted in cheers as her name echoed in the arena. While the referee went to check on Dame Lash and help her get out of the ring, Aria celebrated by climbing the turnbuckle and giving the crowd and the TV cameras a good look at the winner. A new high overcame Aria as she took in the crowd, a feeling that she missed since the days of being a siren long ended. They watched her. They cheered for her. This was not some kind of nightmare, but a waking dream of bliss.
Aria exited the ring and made her way to the ringside seats, giving high fives to anyone who wanted them. She walked around the ring and continued to celebrate, though she knew she needed to give up the ring for the next match on the card. Taking her time, Aria blew a kiss to the crowd in the middle of the ramp before she disappeared behind the curtain.
Backstage, Aria was met by the applause of a number of her now fellow wrestlers. Many of them shook her hand or patted her on the back.
“Great first match, rookie,” said one.
“You did great!” said another, “I can’t wait to see you in the ring myself one day.”
Octane rushed out from out of nowhere and tacklehugged Aria. “You see? You see? I knew she was going to be great, and you all didn’t believe me, but I believed me, and now I’m right so woohoo for me but more WOOHOO for you! That move in the end, the way you rushed out all zoom! And then KAPOW! Right on Lash’s spine! You were A-maz-ing!”
Aria could not help but smile at the praise she received from her peers, though she did wish Octane would settle down. “Thanks,” Aria replied, slipping out of Octane’s embrace. “Though I hope Lash wasn’t too banged up from that.”
“Wrong choice of words when it comes to Lash, rookie,” said the muscular blue-skinned woman. “Lash is probably… ‘enjoying’ herself. Total masochist. One of the reasons I think she likes being a wrestler and a heel. She will try to win, but she isn’t bothered by losing as some are, only that she loses well. Name’s Siege, by the way. Welcome to the ACW.”
Aria nodded and began to walk with the others as the next competitors prepared for their own match after the commercial break. On the other side of the hall, however, stood three figures which gave Aria and the small crowd of wrestlers some pause.
“Lucky break, rookie!” taunted the one with green skin, “but—“
“Shut it, Vesper.” Their leader hid her face behind a large black cowboy hat as she looked down on the floor. “Ya’ll did good, Blaze. Made quite an impact for yourself.”
The woman looked up, revealing her face, and gave Aria a serious case of deja vu. Her pale green eyes stared right into Aria’s. “It takes more than one win to be someone of worth around these parts. Keep your nose clean, greenhorn, and so long as that nose doesn’t come in my business, we’ll get along just fine.”
The black-hat woman and her two cronies walked towards the locker room. Aria stared at the back of that hat when Octane piped in.
“Ooh, you got Ice Cold to notice you,” she said, “she doesn’t normally care about rookies so long as they don’t interfere with her in multi-women melees, but she totally has a chip on her shoulder a mile wide and she always has her two stooges Vesper and Apex with her so you should really be careful with her because she’s got…”
Siege shook her head. “Never mind Octane, she will go on and on if you let her. But she is right about one thing: Ice Cold Apple Cider is not a woman to trifle with. She’s got a mean streak a mile wide.”
Aria did not immediately respond as she focused all of her attention on Ice Cold. “Apple Cider, huh?” Aria muttered, “she wouldn’t happen to have a relative named Applejack, would she?”
The question only received a shrug for an answer. “I don’t know,” Siege replied, “not like she actually talks to any of us. But she’s money, which means O’Cash treats her like royalty, despite getting on the bad side of a Flash Freeze Stunner more often than not. Also, never call her by her name, only by Ice Cold. She really gets ornery when someone calls her Cider.”
“Hey hey hey!” Octane shouted, pointing at a nearby TV. “The next match is starting. Mei Xing versus Terra Rysing. I hope Mei snaps out of her funk soon, she needs to start winning some matches! Hard to believe a five-time champ can get knocked down as much as she has. I bet…”
Others began to congregate around the TV. Aria thought about going back to the locker room and changing, but found it nice to be around people she shared something in common with, even if it was just their occupations. When Siege offered a steel chair to watch the rest of Tuesday Night SLAM, Aria accepted it with thanks and sat with her new peers and began to watch.