• Published 26th Apr 2015
  • 1,168 Views, 86 Comments

Champion's Road - OmegaPony11



Aria Blaze lost everything when the Dazzlings tasted defeat thanks to the Rainbooms. She escapes the winter into a gym where she is given a chance to become a pro wrestler. The road is hard, but with friends, love, and suplexes, she can be a champ.

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The Real Deal

Chapter 2 – The Real Deal

Her head felt like a thousand cinderblocks fell onto her one after another and they were not abating any time soon. Aria groaned as she rolled over in a rather soft mattress, pressed a hand against her forehead, and finally opened her eyes. She winced as the bright light above her seared her retinas. With a groan, she pulled the covers over her head.

“Sonata, it’s too early,” she muttered, “I have a splitting headache so get me some aspirin.”

A loud clack hit the table next to her. Sonata never slammed the pill bottle like that. Aria opened her eyes wide as she recounted everything around her: a warm bed, a soft blanket, the sound of medication offered to her, if a bit aggressively, and Sonata far away from her.

Aria shot up from bed and looked to see Fluttershy’s trainer Roza Del Diavolo sitting in a chair opposite the bed with her arms crossed and her expression none too pleased. She gestured to the aspirin bottle and the water right next to it. Taking up the bottle, Aria poured out two pills and swallowed them with an accompanying drink.

Memories of the night before rushed over her. The arena. The steel cage. Konstance Pain slamming her to the mat and finally blacking out.

“I…” Aria tried to choke back her tears. “I lost…”

The dam broke within her as she loosed all of her of her inner turmoil by beating up the mattress. Each hit only brought out more curses until she grasped her hair. This only reminded her that she sold her silver star hairpins to even compete in the ring. Now everything was lost. With no money and no hope, all Aria could do was cry while a stranger watched on.

Why should she care about what anyone else thought of her at this point? She definitely did not have her dignity anymore. Her pride vanished when Konstance pressed her shoulders to the mat for hundreds to see. Everything that Aria claimed to be was a falsehood that finally shattered inside the confines of a steel chair. All she had now where her tears.

Roza stretched her neck as she merely watched. When Aria calmed down a little, she spoke up. “If it helps a little bit, you set the bar for the rest of the night. Three minutes and twenty-six seconds. No one else managed to surpass that, much less win the big prize.”

Aria wiped away her tears with a sleeve. “It helps a little.” She clutched the bedsheet and looked at Roza with big puffy eyes.

“You don’t look like an athlete, so I’m guessing you were desperate. Probably thought wrestling was easy or some such nonsense.” Roza shook her head. “You had no right to be in a wrestling ring with one of the most brutal Amazons in the AWC. I suppose I should ask what you were thinking but let me see if I can figure it out on my own. You saw the poster in my gym, not knowing that AWC sponsors my place so I put up their ads. Being homeless, you wanted a means to be away from it all and a grand of cold hard cash would help in that regards. You went in thinking you were some tough chick, only to be fed to the meat grinder that is Konstance Paine. I, being the starling bit of both foresight and compassion, went to the event in hopes of finding a new student or two to join the roster of the ACW. Instead, I find you, a one Aria Blaze, lying flat in the ring as Konstance looks down on your battered body. I then drag your carcass back to my gym and make sure you made a speedy recover.”

Roza smirked. “Am I in the ballpark?”

Aria turned eyes away from Roza. “Homerun! Knocked it out of the park. Now I’m getting the hell out of here.”

“Whoa whoa whoa,” Roza pushed Aria back down on the bed. “Getting chokeslammed all the way to hell by Konstance is no laughing matter, especially for the absolute greenest of the green. No, you are going to stay here and recover. I’ll make sandwiches and get you some water. Just sit tight for a moment.”

Aria fell back down on the bed as Roza stepped out to make the sandwiches. The events of the previous night replayed again and again from the steel cage to Konstance Paine’s doll face mask. She picked up the water bottle and took a swig. The cool liquid refreshed her and after a while, she felt her headache finally disappearing.

Never the most patient of people, Aria stood up and began to walk around what she assumed was Roza’s office, due to the presence of a desk, a computer, and several filing cabinets. Why she needed a bed in her office, Aria could not guess. Several pieces of pro wrestling paraphernalia hung on the walls, including several pictures of a woman performing various acrobatic feats off the top rope. She wore a crimson singlet adorned with a black rose imprinted on the chest, with thorny vines trailing all around her body. The woman in the pictures also wore a mask with the same colouration in all of the pictures.

Aria approached the desk and picked up a small frame. The same woman stood proud in the picture wearing a championship belt around her waist while a man in tights and a mask stood next to her with his own title.

She put the picture down and looked to where the mask from the picture hung as the centerpiece of Roza’s memorabilia. Aria stroked the mask with a gentle touch, feeling the cotton fabric and the lace outlines for the eyes and mouth. She never wore a mask before and wondered what it was like to wear it, but to wrestle a match in it.

“The Devil’s Rose.”

Aria jumped at the sound of Roza’s voice. She turned around, embarrassed at her snooping. She tried to bring about her usual detached veneer, looking uninterested while she sat down opposite Roza, who took her seat behind the desk. On the plate lay several turkey sandwiches filled with lettuce and tomatoes. She also brought more water as well as several oranges.

“Got sick of apples after spending enough time in this city,” Roza said. She kicked her feet up and laid them on the table. “Anyways, The Devil’s Rose was my ring name back in the day. Had a lot of fun, but those days don’t last forever. Took my earnings and set up this gym. It’s not the fanciest place like Silver’s, but it’s a good place for people who don’t want to go to big gyms. Work out with a little bit of privacy. That’s why Fluttershy’s mother brought her here. Since she’s so timid around people, this is a good place for her. Helps I knew her mom from back when we were dumb kids.”

Aria turned away from Roza, though she did pick up a sandwich. “Whatever,” she said, before taking a bite of her lunch. Or was it breakfast? Aria didn’t care, the first bite of an honest-to-Betsy meal tasted divine, even better than the apple and orange she had the night before.

“Slow down there,” Roza said, “Eat too fast and you’re going to get sick.”

“Yeah sure, ‘Mom,’” Aria snickered, but she did slow down. This comment made Roza raise her eyebrow.

“Speaking of moms and dads and other familial units,” Roza continued, “Look, I was playing dumb last night because Fluttershy felt bad for you. I could smell the stank of the streets a mile away off of you. Don’t you have family you can go back to?”

Aria did not look at Roza. “Why do you care?”

“Family, friends, the people you rely on and the people that rely on you. Those type of people matter.” Roza shrugged. “Someone young like you shouldn’t be on the streets. Do you have anywhere to go? At all?”

Feeling her frustrations mount, Aria snapped at Roza. “I’m fine!”

“Like hell you are!” Roza snapped right back. “Sure, some folks go to the open challenge just for kicks or for a chance to win what they think is an easy grand, but I bet my bottom dollar they don’t do it looking like a hobo!”

Roza shook her head and took a deep breath. “Listen, Aria, kiddo, maybe I’ve been hanging around Fluttershy too much, but if you give me a chance, I’d like to offer you something. See, I saw something in you last night that I thought I wouldn’t see in a young woman in a long time.”

Aria rolled her eyes. “If it’s a ‘desire to step between the ropes’ then you are dead wrong.”

“No!” Roza slapped the table. Aria looked up at her with surprise from the sudden noise. “Though it would be nice if you wanted to become a wrestler. No, I see a young woman who hungers for attention. You want to be on the stage and adored. You want to be the center of attention, the big shot, and get the big payday. You want to be the very best so you can have the very best. Am I still in the ballpark?”

Aria considered Roza’s words very carefully. The Dazzling’s plan was of course to be the center of attention, and like the other sirens, Aria loved being front and center for a capacity crowd. Her mind’s eye attempted to visualize herself standing in the middle of the ring with a cheering crowd chanting her name and a title belt clasped around her waist.

Every other time the Dazzling’s performed, it was Adagio who took the lead. Aria wanted her time, her moment in the spotlight. She wanted to be the star, and without her voice, she needed a way to achieve her goals. She wanted to feel like somebody again. More than anything, she wanted her pride back. She wanted to feel like she mattered, like the name Aria Blaze mattered. Maybe Roza could help her do that.

Maybe to get her pride back, she needed to swallow what little she had and work with Roza to achieve a normal life and perhaps after that, greatness.

However, she did remember all too well how her first professional match went. Tossed around by actual wrestlers did not sound like a good time. The chokeslam from the previous night still hurt and Aria could feel another headache coming on.

Can I do this? Aria wondered, Can I be a wrestler?

“Alright,” Aria said, though he raised a hand to stop an overeager Roza from speaking. “Let’s say, hypothetically, I agree to this wrestling thing. What do I have to do?”

Roza clapped her hands before digging around her desk for a lined sheet of paper. She twirled a red pen with some flourish before getting to work. Aria watched intently as Roza explained everything. “One day you are going to look back on this day and not only thank me, but Fluttershy too.”

Not likely, Aria thought with a grimace.

“First thing’s first, you’ll need a roof over your head. Until we can find you a place you can afford, you can stay here in my office. It has all the facilities you need: a bed, indoor plumbing, even a small kitchen where I make the healthy foods for my clients. However, living here will come with a cost, and that is I am going to hire you here and now as an employee of Haven Gym.”

“I’m not exactly in the best physical shape to be a trainer,” Aria said, taking another sandwich.

“Who said anything about being a trainer?” Roza grinned. “You’ll be… senior chief custodial officer of Haven Gym.”

After a few moments of thinking, Aria quickly figured it out. “You’re making me a janitor!”

Roza’s grin never left her face. “A paid janitor, which is a touch higher on the totem pole compared to dumpster diner. Low blow, yes, but I have heel tendencies. You will learn all that. Moving on! I will pay you twelve dollars an hour for five to six hours, five days a week. Duties include mopping, window wiping, making sure the equipment works, stuff I’d rather not do. Unless you have another job opening available?”

Aria thought about turning away right then, only to shake her head. When she hit rock bottom, she cratered. Crawling out of said crater would take some doing, and if she needed a mop to climb, then she would take hold of that mop like a ladder to heaven.

“Now with a job out of the way, we get to the educational bits.” Roza nodded as she wrote down all her notes. “Training will commence for four hours every three days, provided I’m not busy. We’ll start with basic conditioning. Get you into proper shape. Train the body. Then we’ll go to the basics, but let’s take things one step at a time. Now, you have your high school diploma, right?”

Aria blinked. “Uh… well…”

It was Roza’s turn to blink in surprise. “How old are you? Eighteen? Nineteen?”

Aria considered the correct answer. After all, she could not say she was a several centuries old siren from another dimension. “Nineteen,” she answered. She looked the part after all.

“Nineteen and no diploma…” Roza shook her head. “Listen, Aria, I’m not going to lie to you. I want to do my best to see you succeed, but you need a fallback plan, and the single best thing you can do for yourself is getting your diploma. The ring is a rough place; you know that first hand it is only going to get harder. Now, we can get you into Canterlot High and—”

“No!” Aria stood up and looked Roza in the eye. “I can’t go back there! Not after… not after what I…”

She couldn’t find the words. How could she explain to this woman that she was actually an interdimensional siren who attempting to take over a high school and steal magical energy by singing to it during a battle of the bands only to get a friendship laser to the face? Even she thought the story sounded crazy and she was there!

Roza raised her brow. That gesture starting to grate on Aria’s nerves. “This isn’t about drugs, is it?” Roza said as she narrowed her eyes at Aria. “I run a straight-edge facility and I better not find out you are on some kind of happy pills. There is a bus that can take you to Canterlot High from Haven and back again and Principal Celestia is very forgiving and welcoming to students who want to put in the effort. Which you will, if you want my training. This is the first step for what could be the greatest ride of your life that leads to fame, fortune, and the respect of thousands of fans, maybe even millions but only if you put in the work for it. I’m offering this to you because I know you have what it takes. How about you? Am I telling the truth or are you going to make me a liar?”

Roza extended her hand towards Aria, who only looked at the offered appendage. She could become a pro wrestler… Well, it was not exactly as if Aria had many career choices left. Since otherworldly conqueror and musical idol were right out, maybe she could do something with this. She would be back on a stage again. She’d be a star again. As for going back to Canterlot High, while she did not look forward to going back, it seemed a rather simple condition. All she needed to do was go to school, study, and get her diploma. With a job and steady income, everything in her life seemed just that much easier.

One question remained. “ You are willing to do a lot for me. What’s in it for you?”

“Can’t keep much past you, huh.” Roza smiled. “Like I said, maybe it’s because I hang around Fluttershy so much that her kind heart finally rubbed off on a grizzled veteran like me. Maybe it’s because you remind me of me. Ah, but what I really want is to be a part of something great again. I can’t wrestle anymore, not to any acceptable ability. But I feel like I never passed on the torch, you know? So, what do you say? Hell of a deal.”

Hell of a deal indeed. Aria looked Roza straight in the eye and shook the hand with a firm grip. “Alright,” she said, “I’ll do it. I’ll do it all. I’ll take the job. I’ll go back to Canterlot High, and I will train to be a professional wrestler.”

I can do this, Aria told herself, I can succeed. I can do this because I’m Aria Blaze and my name means something.

“Woo!” Roza pumped a fist into the air. “Behold, o wrestling world, for Roza Del Diavolo has a brand new disciple! You’re gonna have a blast, kiddo. Now, I’m going to have to make a few phone calls, dial in some favours.”

She fished into her pocket and pulled out some change before handing it to Aria who looked at the money quizzically. “What’s this for?”

“To catch the bus to Canterlot High, of course.” Roza opened the door. “Enough to get you to school and back. Well, get going! You can recover on the bus! Daylight’s burning! Quick like a bunny, chop chop! MOVE!”

Aria grabbed her hoodie and dashed out of the door, unable to combat Roza’s commanding presence. She felt something different from such authority though. Before, it was Adagio who made all the decisions, and while Aria benefitted, she always felt Adagio looked out for Adagio first. Roza gave commands because it was good for Aria to listen to them. She was not sure how to feel about having a new authority figure in her life, but if her new trainer was willing to give her a roof over her head, Aria could not complain. Not openly, anyway.

She ran down the cold streets of the city until making it to the bus stop. With the fare paid, Aria looked up at the clock provided on the bus. Eleven o’clock. Hopefully she could slip inside the school and out without being noticed by the student body or worse, those crummy Rainbooms. Aria was in mood to deal with them as a group, especially after her short encounter with Fluttershy the night before. She’d show them. She’d show the Rainbooms, Canterlot High, and everyone else that heckled and booed her that Aria Blaze was back in action.

The bus ride took twenty minutes between downtown and Canterlot High. Once Aria stepped off the bus, she looked up at the entrance with a nervousness that grew in her gut. It was easier when she was with Adagio and Sonata. The three covered each other’s backs and leant each other their strengths. While she thought herself the strongest of the three, she suddenly felt very alone at the entrance. Taking a deep breath, she opened the doors and stepped inside.

No one walked the halls at this hour as morning classes were well underway. Aria remembered the way to Principal Celestia’s office. She walked the same path as she did before, only this time without Sonata and Adagio by her side.

I don’t need them, she told herself, I’m going to succeed without them. Won’t they be jealous when they see Aria Blaze a winner alone on the stage. Ring. Whatever.

Aria walked past one of the school’s bulletin boards when a poster caught her eye. The poster announced the winners of the Battle of the Bands, with the Rainboooms front and center. “Rainbooms make stellar music and defeat heated rivals the Dazzlings in a spectacular performance.” Aria growled as she tore the poster from the thumbtacks. Why did Roza have to send her to this school? Couldn’t she have gotten the diploma from any other school? Still, she was here, and at least the environment was familiar. Aria knew she needed to be grateful for small mercies.

She approached the principal’s office and knocked on the door only to see a sign saying that Celestia was away for a conference. Aria muttered as she headed instead towards the next office over. Belonging to Vice Principal Luna, Aria knocked again. This time she heard a strong woman’s voice say, “You may come in.”

Vice Principal Luna looked up from her assorted paperwork, her eyes widening slightly in surprise at her guest. “Miss Aria Blaze,” she said, standing up. “I did not expect to see you again after you and your friends suddenly vanished after the Battle of the Bands. Your very presence here has piqued my interest. Please, take a seat.”

Aria sat down across from Luna in the offered seat. She noticed that dim lighting of the office, which only helped accentuate Luna’s rather intimidating posture. Luna’s cool demeanour hid an imposing woman that Aria could not trick with her magic now that it was gone. Instead, she kept a stiff upper lip and waited for Luna to speak first.

“I cannot say what happened exactly after the Battle of the Bands,” Luna began, “but what I do know is that after the competition, you and your friends were nowhere to be seen. We have tried to call your emergency contacts, but found only wrong or unused numbers. Would you care to explain your disappearance?”

“I can,” Aria said, trying to sound confident. “You see, we were… I am homeless. We, I mean I, stayed with some… nice people… for a while, and then I came to Canterlot High. With my friends. And we wanted to do the showcase, but then I thought a Battle of the Bands would be a lot more fun. What’s wrong with a little competition, right?”

Luna raised a single eyebrow. “Of which then you ran away once your scheme came to light?”

“Scheme?” Did Luna know about Aria being a siren? About her magic? Things were about to get even more awkward if that was the case.

“I was at the battle, if you recall. If I may say so, the Dazzlings sounded like a wailing cat dragged down a chalkboard. Whatever computer trickery your crew tried to attempt failed miserably at the worst opportune time.”

Aria did not look Luna in the eye. While not exactly the truth, it was better than what would be deemed impossible in this world. Still, this did not bode well for Aria.

“A punishment should be arranged due to your actions,” Luna stood up and walked over to the window. She clasped her hands behind her back. “However, I would not wish your current circumstances on any young person. Do you have a place to stay now?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm,” Luna turned around. “And now you return for what reason?”

“I’m here to complete my high school education,” Aria said, “It was stupid of me to run away, but now I’m back. I always finish what I start, Vice Principal Luna. I’d like to make amends if at all possible.”

Get the diploma, get trained, get away from here. Aria figured that Luna did not need to know about Roza’s offer since it was not any of her business. She just needed to act the part of the repentant student and get back into the school.

Luna did not say or do anything for a moment. She then looked at Aria with a critical eye. “It would not be the first time I heard that,” Luna said, “And it will not be the first time I believe it as well. Very well, Miss Blaze. You may re-enroll to Canterlot High, provided you are on your best behavior from here on out. Your grades will have suffered at this point, so I will make it your first priority to catch up. I will need new emergency contact information, of course.”

After receiving new registration forms, Aria wrote down every relevant piece of information. Once complete, Luna gave Aria more paperwork. Of course, she would need to choose new courses and then catch-up on the work. Aria sighed. She missed the days when a few notes would have others do the work for her. Still, if she wanted independence and if she wanted Roza’s training, she would have to do this on her own.

“Thank you, Vice Principal Luna,” Aria said, extending her hand. “I promise I’ll do things right this time.”

“I’m sure you will.” Luna shook Aria’s hand. “You may have today and tomorrow to decide what courses you wish to take. Some classes will unfortunately be full, but if you need assistance, you are welcome in my office. I trust we won’t have any more incidents like the Battle of the Bands and that you get along with your classmates.”

Aria nodded. “I will.”

“You are free to go. The lunch bell is about to ring anyways.” Luna opened the door of her office and motioned for Aria to leave. Aria flashed the vice principal her most brilliant smile, only to scowl when she left. Six months to get everything right was all she had.

I can do this, Aria told herself, I’m Aria Blaze. This will be easy.

The lunch bell sounded and the student body of Canterlot High poured from their classrooms. Aria merged with the masses, hoping beyond hope that no one would recognize her. Unfortunately, many of the students did so and they pointed and whispered in her direction. She shot them dirty looks back as she took her course book to the cafeteria. All she wanted to do now was figure out what she wanted to take in order to graduate.

As she entered the busy cafeteria, she stopped immediately when she saw a table filled with familiar faces. All of the Rainbooms sat together, chatting away or eating their lunch. Their presence angered Aria, but did not stop her dead in her tracks. No, what cause this was the sight of someone even more familiar sitting at the corner with the red and orange haired girl who put the final nail in the siren’s proverbial coffin.

A part of Aria wanted to turn around and go somewhere else, but another part, a stronger part, urged her forward. She walked up to the table the Rainbooms sat at and stood there for a moment, wordless. When they finally noticed her, they too became silent. The girl in the corner stood up and mouthed something before finally speaking.

“Aria?” she said, which allowed the only reasonable response from Aria’s lips.

“Sonata?”

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