NFG Season Two - Pick Your Poison

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Description: The Queen Cobra and an Empress Scorpion size each other up in the Mermaid's casino. Will two naturally venomous vixens be able to find common ground?

It's late in the afternoon on the day after Roxana's victorious match against Arisa. After arriving back on the cruise ship late last night, the scorpion gear slept soundly in her cabin, lulled by the sound of the waves and the feeling of a successful day spent. She's sitting on a stool in the cocktail bar of the casino, sipping on something called a 'Strawberry Fields', which is a pleasant pink in colour and consists of gin, tonic and strawberry syrup, decorated with a slice of fresh strawberry. Rox is being cautious given that this is her first experience with alcohol and she isn't quite sure what the effects will be on her.

She's dressed in a dark red top with a bardot-style neckline and long-sleeves, which leaves her slim shoulders exposed. On her lower-half are a pair of form-fitting black pants and some black suede lace-up boots with pointed toes and high heels. The laces over the foot area are tied loosely to give glimpses of the flesh beneath. Her hair is released from its tightly wound braid today and cascades in waves down to her shapely hips.

As she rests her fingers on the bar in front of her, she listens to the background noises of people at play on the casino's different machines and tables. Some of them hoping to strike lucky, others just finding a way to while away their time until dinner.

Constance Coalbridge has always been one to draw a few eyes on entering any given room; even when she wasn't as recognised for her part in the New Fighting Generation, or as the daughter of the Coalbridges, her distinctive purple hair and hourglass figure tend to stand out whereever she goes. Tonight, though, there are three things that add an extra ocular magnetism to the rising Muay Thai icon: one, her baby blue bodycon dress and matching heels, second, her recently revealed face, resurrected and repaired by some mysterious miracle of modern medicine, and third, the purple-lensed heart-shaped sunglasses that are trying, with moderate success, to hide the black eye that she's sporting thanks to her boyfriend.

That last part has really stalled the engine of the hype train that Coco had been ready to ride around the ship on all week. Already photographs and article links have been cropping up on Hitter and InstaSlam, and instead of headlines extolling her triumphant return and rightfully comparing her to Helen of Troy, they've been clickbaiting (sometimes called kickbaiting in fighter media) with titles like 'Coco and Hawksley on the Rocks Again' and 'I Can Just Buy Another One - Wealthy Woman Ruins Facial Reconstruction Job.'

Thus, it's with a certain pissed-off keep-your-distance air about her that Coco saunters across the art deco tiles toward the bar. Hawksley is nowhere to be seen at the moment, nor is Morgie the bearcat. Perhaps they're off ziplining together somewhere off the boat.

She parks herself at the counter next to Roxana, turning her back to lean against the bartop with her elbows as she gazes into the crowd. After a moment, she says aloud out of nowhere, "I swear to god, the next person who cracks wise about it is getting one of their own."

As eye-catching as Constance 'Coco' Coalbridge may be, Roxana's head doesn't turn as she enters the bar of the casino. She's happily lost in her own thoughts and her dark gaze stays fixed-forward as she continues to sip the sweet drink through her straw. It's only when Coco speaks that Roxana realises she's there. She recognises the haughty London accent at once. As an avid watcher of the first season of the New Fighting Generation, she can't fail to be familiar with it.

"Coco!" She gasps, her calm and collected exterior at once ruffled by the presence of someone she's a fan of. "I've been hoping to meet you eventually. I haven't seen you around the ship till now though. I watched your fight with Hawksley though. I really thought you had him."

She notes the sunglasses and recalls the flaming punch that had blackened the Englishwoman's eye. "Is it really strange fighting someone that you're in a relationship with?" Rox wonders. "Romantically I mean." As someone with no experience of such things she hasn't got the first idea how it would feel.

It seems that whatever 'keep-your-distance' vibes Coco was trying to convey are lost on the younger lass.

"Yes, well, I haven't been on the ship until last night," Coco says as she turns back to the bar and daintily lifts the sunglasses off of her ears, folding them and tucking the frames onto the front of her cleavage. She turns her head to look at Roxana. Her eye is a little bruised, but not badly swollen. Of course, makeup has been applied to reduce the appearance of the damage. She fixes a smile on her red lips. "And I did have him. I just didn't realise he had another go in him, so he ended up having me, too."

She looks to the bartender as she continues to speak to Roxana. "And the fight went rather similarly. All in all, not the worst Valentine's Day. I'll have a Solitaire," she finishes by ordering as she props her chin on her hands and her elbows on the bar.

"It can be fun fighting someone you fancy, if you're both into it. Which we both are. What's less fun is getting a black eye while you're at it. Suddenly it turns into fresh fuel for the gossip mill. No one would bother mentioning it if it wasn't Lucky who did it."

She turns her eyes sidelong toward Rox. "You're looking pretty well after your fight with the cowgirl. No bullet holes or paper cuts that I can see," she comments.

Roxana is somewhat speechless at Coco's rather risque turn of phrase, only managing to mutter "Oh" in response.

When she's had a chance to recover her composure, she continues to talk. "I wasn't asking about private things." She explains. "I'm sure you've both had enough of that to last a lifetime. I was mostly curious if it made it harder to hit someone that you were attracted to. Perhaps it's all part of the game though. As long as it works for you, then I don't see a problem with it."

Her drink is almost drained now and Rox feels slightly fuzzy around the edges. She holds off on ordering another, as she's got no intention of becoming inebriated. "I'm sorry if your eye is painful. I suppose I did manage to escape without many injuries in my own match. I have got a few bruises here and there but I'm a fast healer and they're mostly covered by my clothes."

She angles her body so she can look at Coco more clearly. "Did you watch my fight then? It was pretty thrilling being pulled along by the horses. It was even more exciting than I expected it to be. I still can hardly believe that I'm competing in the en eff gee. Does that feeling ever wear off?"

"Well, Lucky has a way of making me feel alright about giving him the occasional kicking," Coco says as she stretches her legs out and drapes one over the other. "And he obviously has no qualms about the same. There's no malice in it, though."

The golden-red cocktail over crushed ice is placed down in front of her on the bar, and she takes a sip of it through a straw.

"I don't mind the pain. I don't really feel it nearly as much as I used to," she says with a lift of her shoulders, turning her eyes back to Rox. "I did catch bits of your match. You were pretty impressive. Especially the whole scorpion thing. And your outfit."

She looks the Gear up and down as she slurps some more from her Solitaire.

"Were the horses okay? It seems a bit dangerous putting them so close to the crossfire. Of course, they probably got better safeguarding than some of us."

She lifts her shoulders again and looks back ahead as Rox remarks about her disbelief. "Maybe it won't. For me, it changed when I realised what I actually wanted from the NFG. I didn't have the same butterflies going to fight Hawksley as the first time. When you know who you are, you stop feeling the imposter syndrome. I suppose that might be a bit more complicated for you, though."

Roxana can't help but giggle at Coco's claim that she feels fine about giving her beau an occasional kicking. As well as the fights of the first season, she'd followed the drama and gossip too and knows how volatile and rocky their relationship had been at times.

"I'm fine with pain too." Rox admits. "I grew up learning how to handle it and I've been practising some by myself too."

The scorpion-girl seems pleased by the fact the purple-haired fighter had seen some of her fight. "I can't really take a compliment for being who I am and using that to the best of my ability but I did put the outfit together, albeit it with some inspiration from the internet." She smiles. The praise whilst welcomed isn't something she seeks out.

"The horses seemed happy enough to me. Of course I'm not used to being around animals as much as you are. I have to say, your bearcat is really cute. I love all the little hats he wears."

The comment about the safeguarding isn't lost on Roxana. She knows what Coco has been through, not that anyone would know to look at her now. Black eye aside, her face seems totally flawless.

Meeting the other woman's gaze, the Nebraskan listens to the advice, welcoming any wisdom that comes her way from one of the more experienced competitors. "What did you decide you wanted?" She wonders. "And why would it be more complicated for me?"

"Oh, that sounds exciting," Coco says with a slight arch of an eyebrow in response to Roxana's mention of growing up learning how to handle pain, having drained half of her drink already. She takes another sip and puckers her lips a little, grimacing at the citrus. "And also a bit weird. Don't most children grow up learning how to avoid pain?"

She gives another shrug as Roxana resists the compliment. "You're alright, babes. I readily take compliments for being who I am and using it to the best of my ability. All that yoga and tennis and pilates is hard work. Not to mention the finely-cultivated fashion sense. I deserve recognition, whether or not I can take credit for my genes."

She smiles at Roxana's mention of Morgie, then pulls her smartphone out of her handbag, unlocking the screen and opening up her photos in half a second. "Oh, those are just the ones I take him out in. I try loads more on him when I'm deciding. I always take pictures. Here, want to see?"

There seems to be quite the album-full stored on the device, featuring headwear from all over the world. And, it seems, at least one or two pictures of Hawksley trying on some of the little hats alongside Morgie.

Her voice drops a little as she answers Roxana's next question. "I'd be oversharing if I said, babes. It's a secret." To her other question, she replies, "Well, I just meant because you're some sort of... well, I don't know exactly what you are, really. It seems like a whole other thing to figure out besides just how to be a person like everyone else. Which, believe it or not, I know a little bit about. I'm not you're average young lady. I mean, beyond the obvious ways."

She makes a framing gesture under her face with her hands, then slips the straw back between her lips and sucks hard, quickly draining the rest. "Alright. How about a... Kissy Suzuki next?" she says to the bartender.

"I don't think where I grew up was...conventional." Roxana finally settles on. "It is all I've known however, besides the last few months when I've been on my own, so I don't really have anything to compare it to."

Her face brightens as Coco mentions yoga. "I do that too. It's really helped me to get into the right mental state for this competition. I believe it improves my agility too. Are those the same reasons you practice? They have classes on this ship. I've already attended a couple. Maybe we can go together some time."

When the phone is pulled out and the Morgie pictures shared, Roxana leans in closer to see the screen. "He's so cute. How did you get a pet like him?" She can't help but laugh at the pictures of the Irish lad in the bearcat's hats, that are clearly not designed for him. "He seems rather silly." Rox remarks but doesn't clarify whether she means Hawksley or Morgie.

She respects the purple-haired woman's right to privacy and will definitely not pry further regarding whatever secrets she doesn't wish to share. "I'm not sure what I am either." She confesses. "Part of me would like to know. The other part is a little scared to find out."

Her dark eyes soften as Coco discusses her own challenges in this way. "It's nice to talk to someone who understands. I mean, I guess a few of you will on this ship. Max and Tanwen to start with and then there's Buck."

"Let me guess. Also desperate to get shot of your parents?" Coco presumes aloud as she's served her second cocktail, arching an eyebrow at the red liquid.

"Is that a pepper?" she wonders, plucking up the bit of green garnish from the rim and popping it in her mouth. She quickly spits it out into the glass. "Oh, God! That's, like, a scotch bonnet or something, isn't it?"

She starts slurping the cold drink through her straw, blinking a couple of times. "Oh. It's peppery. Why is it peppery? I thought Kissy was Japanese. This tastes more like a Mexican cocktail."

She sets the drink down and rests her cheek against her hand as she turns to Rox again. "I thought it was a good way to keep fit. I've been doing it since I was a teenager. And, well, it does. I mean, obviously my regime works." She lets out a quiet sigh. "Never sussed out how to breathe fire or kick someone from the other side of the room like I'd hoped, though. If they've got classes, I'll probably go, as long as it's not when I'm busy sunbathing or whatever else I get up to on board."

She smiles at Rox's interest in Captain Morgan. "He showed up in my room after a Full Moon Party in Thailand. I guess I must have fed him while I was plastered or something, because he's been following me about ever since. And yes, they're both a bit silly."

She eyes Rox thoughtfully. "So, you don't really know what you are? I'm sure that somebody who knows will be watching on the telly, if nothing else. You'd probably best find out before somebody who already knows tries to take advantage of you. That's one thing my mentor taught me about my own situation."

Giving out advice that's not even about fashion feels odd to the empath. She stirs her drinking and takes a sip with the side of her mouth while speaking. "Next round is on me, if you want another. Actually, I might be able to introduce you to someone who could help a bit more, if you need someone who's good at science. She might even be on the ship." She looks down at the drink she's nursing. "She'd probably like one of these, actually."

"Well, in a way." Roxana hesitates, cautious not to reveal too much. "They weren't cruel to me or anything but I didn't have a lot of freedom."

She looks curiously at the cocktail. "I don't know much about such things but Suzuki sounds Japanese to me. I also don't think that peppers should be used as a surprise garnish on drinks. Unless it's their way of trying to toughen us up."

She mimics Coco's body language, mirroring the hand to cheek position. "I wasn't aware that yoga could teach you how to breathe fire. I feel like that goes against the peaceful elements of it but it would be fantastic in a fight."

She listens to the Londoner's anecdote about the Captain, nodding along. "I don't think I'd like to have a pet myself. They seem like they'd take a lot of looking after. I can definitely see the appeal though."

Her interest is piqued further by Coco's talk of her mentor. "Was that Juri?" She asks, her voice becoming even softer than usual. "Did anyone ever find her yet? I heard she was on the run."

She's wearing a serious and solemn expression since the talk has turned to who may be watching. "I have considered that danger but I didn't want anything to get in the way of my dreams. If you think it would be helpful then I'd definitely like to talk to your scientist friend. My parents are both scientists as it happens."

The matter of another drink is a tougher decision to make. "I am interested in sampling another but I don't want to get drunk. The cocktail I had is the first alcohol I've ever consumed."

"I mean, that's why I was assuming she's Japanese. I haven't seen any of the old Bond films," Coco murmurs around the straw of her beverage. "Actually, I've hardly seen much of the new ones, either. I bet Lucky would like a surprise pepper in his cocktail." She takes another slurp. "Yeah, there's this celebrity yoga instructor who can breathe fire and stretch his arms out like elastics and all sorts. I got to sit in on one of his sessions, but he kicked us out after Hawksley made too much noise. He wasn't even trying to do the yoga, he was just checking out me and Djamila."

She looks over at the casino tables and stirs her drink thoughtfully. "I usually have someone else to help mind any pets I own, but Morgie and I go most places together. He's not too bad to take care of, as long as he gets plenty of chance for funsies. I like the company. And yeah, I was on about Juri. I've no idea where she went off to; I was in hospital when whatever supposedly happened happened."

She hesitates a moment before adding, "Angel's not reaaally a scientist herself, but she does know some other scientists. I think they know a lot. There's some scientist minding that cat-girl-thing too, isn't there? She might be a good one to speak to as well."

She grins as Roxana reveals that she's just had her first drink. "Oh, congrats! Right, United States and its draconian drinking laws. Tell you what, you pick something to try and if you don't like it, I'll finish it for you, since it's my shout anyway. How about a Pussy Galore, or a Honey Ryder?"

"I've not seen any of the Bond movies either." Roxana confesses. "Although I have seen the man who plays Bond and he seems quite handsome."

She raises her highly defined dark brows at the idea of Hawksley liking a pepper in his cocktail but makes no further comment on that. She does seem to have an opinion on his boisterous behaviour however. "Like Bond your boyfriend is also handsome but he seems a little rough for my taste. In his conduct that is. There is nothing wrong with him fighting hard."

The mention of the Iraqi dancer has Roxana reaching a realisation. "Oh, Djamila. I haven't seen her around at all. Is she not returning this season? I suppose since she's already won it, it may seem like less of a challenge. Plus she has all that money. I wonder if Kenzo minds if she won't be around."

Rox hadn't really considered that Coco is rich enough to employ a whole team of animal carers if she so wishes. It probably is a lot easier to look after a pet under those circumstances. "It's good that you have someone to watch Morgie when you're busy elsewhere." She says with a smile. "To set your mind at rest and all."

When Coco mentions Max's companion, Roxana nods her head. "I have considered her too but I'm not really sure how to start such a conversation. Besides, I'm sure Max keeps her plenty busy."

The prospect of another cocktail has Roxana considering it. "Um. You will stay with me if I have one? I'm not too concerned that I won't like the taste. I just don't want to become compromised by consuming more than I can handle. If you don't mind being my drinking buddy though, I will try a Honey Ryder."

"Oh, well, some of us like a bit of rough. I'd hardly compare Lucky to James, though," Coco comments with a bit of a snicker. She shrugs her shoulders regarding Djamila's whereabouts. "I guess she decided after she'd won that she didn't need to bother coming back. I mean, she'd already gave it her ass, hadn't she? Or maybe there was some other reason. Actually, it is a bit odd that Kenzo's back and not her. Maybe something to do with that...?"

She hums thoughtfully as she finds herself being drawn in to the world of goss that she'd shut herself off from during her interseasonal hiatus. She perks up when Roxana agrees to try another cocktail.

"Oh, 'course. Pussy Galore for me, then. ...That came out really weird. Do they know those Bond girls have some proper dodgy names? Anyway, I'll make sure you get back to your cabin safe, and I'll hold your hair back if you puke. Maybe we can try a bit of gambling while we drink them if you like."

She finishes off her own current cocktail and sets it aside, resting her arms in her lap. "Tell you what, if you need someone to talk to that doctor with you, I can help. I mean, you probably don't need me, really, but I don't mind saying what I think."

She looks pensive as she watches Roxana for a moment. "So, do you like fighting, then? Anyone in particular you're thinking of trying to get to teach you?"

"The names are pretty suggestive but I suspect that's the point." Roxana remarks. "Thanks for looking out for me. It's really kind of you to do so. I'm guessing most girls have already been drunk by the time they leave high school but I never actually went."

She seems torn on the gambling idea. "I could give it a go but I will have to be strict with how much I spend. I know they said that's the one cost that the organisers won't cover and I don't want to leave myself short. You never know when you might spot a new outfit or something."

Coco is really going out of her way to help Roxana and the younger girl is very grateful. "You'd really do that? Well, yes then. I think it would be very helpful. When the time seems right of course."

She smiles at the barman as he places their drinks on the bar, her own consisting of Caribbean rum, Bombay gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and honey caramel syrup. It's served in a coupe style glass with a garnish of lemon peel on the side.

"In my interview I actually said I'd like to be mentored by you or Chevy." She admits. After saying the second name, she studies Coco's face to gauge her reaction. "I mean, I know you two aren't the best of friends but you're both fantastic fighters."

"Well, I went to a public school - that's a private school to you, I guess, but anyways - I've had enough experience getting drunk at parties for both of us," Coco claims as she collects her current cocktail, a crimson concoction composed of red vermouth, bourbon, maraschino and bitters over ice, and steps away from the bar. Her pleasant smile strains slightly at the mention of Chevy's name alongside her own.

"We're not exactly besties for-eva, no. I felt like we might actually get somewhere before the whole... Junko thing happened, and she came along with a shaker of salt thinking it was sugar. I've decided to rise above it, though. And by rise above it, I mean once we've settled things by me kicking her hillbilly hind parts once and for all. Cheers!"

She moves to clink her cocktail against Roxana's before taking a sip and offering to link arms with the other girl to head for the casino. "As for the gambling, we'll just set an amount that we won't spend past. Tell you what, why don't I spot us each, say, two hundred quid, so you can see if you like it?"

Glancing between the slots and the gaming tables, she makes a thoughtful but noncommital noise. "So, what do you fancy? It looks like they've got Poker tables if you want to hang around one till a spot opens, or I see they're playing house Blackjack over there, and obviously roulette. I guess the slots are the easiest; you just put in your money and see if you win. Have you ever played cards, or anything?"

"I was home schooled." Roxana explains. "We lived in a remote area, so it made things easier."

She follows Coco towards the casino area, sipping cautiously on her cocktail. "Well I for one would love to see you and Chevy fight each other again. The last match was very exciting!" She enthuses.

She clinks her glass against Coco's and links arms with her companionably. "You really don't have to do that. Two hundred is a lot of money. I can maybe stretch to a hundred euros myself but that would have to be my absolute limit."

As for what game to go for, the girl has never set foot in such a place before, let alone tried her luck at playing. "Maybe roulette?" She suggests. She's pretty sure she's seen that on a film once and it looked like it could be fun. "I've never played cards but I could learn if you prefer that."

Coco sniffs at her companion's claim that two hundred is a lot of money. "Babes, I've left tips bigger than that. Two hundred isn't a stretch for me. I only suggested it because I didn't want to seem like I was flashing the cash. Roulette sounds fun. Poker might be a bit intense. Roulette, you just pick a number or a colour or whatever and see what happens." An idea crosses her mind and her face lights up. "If we're playing Roulette, why don't we share a pot?" she suggests. "I mostly like to watch anyway. We can choose together."

She looks a little wistful as they move toward one of the tables, letting out a little sigh. "It's too bad Morgie isn't here. Roulette is his favourite. He likes watching the little ball go 'round."

"Oh well, if you're sure." Roxana smiles warmly at Coco. "I'd love to be in a position to be as comfortable as you are with cash one day. I tell you what, if I manage to win this thing, I'll treat you to a night on the town of your choosing."

She nods enthusiastically at the idea of roulette. "I'm pretty confident we can manage to pick a number between us and it'd be really fun to be a team." As soon as these words are out of her mouth, she seems to want to say more. Looking towards Coco with a hopeful expression she adds. "I think it would be fun in fighting too. If you've seen what you want that is. I know in your interview you said you'd know them when you saw them."

As she awaits the response, Rox continues on to the roulette table. "I bet that would make for a cute photo of Morgie. Oh! That reminds me, we need to get a selfie together. I'm collecting them with all the fighters."

Coco lifts her shoulders a little at Roxana's expressed desire for comfort with cash. "The trick is to not be too comfortable," she declares. "At least, that's what I reckon. If you just mean you want loads of money, though, well, you're probably on the right track. Assuming we don't saddle you with a crippling gambling addiction by the time we're done here."

Not seeming to take the threat she's mentioned very seriously, she watches one of the running games from a distance, then turns to Roxana.

"You want me to team up with you?" she says, giving Roxana a slightly scrutinizing look. "Well, I was thinking about partnering with Kahuna, as a sort of - you know - 'Save the Turtles' thing, but -"

But then Roxana had brought up her rival as another possible candidate. If Roxana approached Chevy instead, and then those two won...

"- I think we might fit better together. I might not be able to teach you how to be a better scorpion, but I'm probably the best one to bring you up to speed. Plus, I'm the most experienced when it comes to having fun on cruises."

She nods seriously, then beams as Roxana says that they need a selfie together. "Oh, obvs! Let's both take one."

Setting her half-empty drink and handbag down on the edge of the roulette table, she pulls her phone out again and sidles up against Rox.

"You can go first, then I'll take one."

"I won't become addicted." Roxana states firmly, feeling the need to make no further comment on the matter.

"I do want you to team up with me though, yes. I enjoyed watching you last season and what I've seen today has only been positive. You're confident, kind and know how to have fun. I'm sure Kahuna would also be entertaining but maybe he and Chevy could be a team. You know, with the surfing and all."

She giggles at the mention of becoming a better scorpion. "I don't expect that from you but from what I can see there's no other people who could teach me that in the competition anyway. It's rather niche. I suppose Buck might be the best fighter from the first season to understand my situation, since he changes into other forms but I want to be with a woman. I feel like that's just as important an insight to get as the other things. I'm sure the New Fighting Generation is a lot better at treating people equally than most places but I suspect it is still a different experience for the female competitors."

Speech delivered, Roxana takes out her sleek black cellphone and starts to position it to get the perfect picture of her and the purple haired party girl. Once she's satisified, she snaps a few shots, from which she will select her favourite to add to her collection later. "Your turn next!" She beams at Coco, whilst a group of smartly dressed men openly ogle the two teens.

Coco takes charge when it's her turn to take a selfie with Rox, making a point of posing provocatively for the camera - whether Rox decides to join in or not - intending to hashtag her shots later with something like '#bondgirls' and '#pickyourpoison' and '#roxandfox' or what have you. She's certainly feeling confident, the bruising around her eye mostly forgotten by now thanks to the aid of Pussy, Honey and Kissy.

She's already thinking about how she might be able to use Rox's need for shapeshifting advice to try and steer Buck and Chevy into hot water. She doubts that Buck would be easily moved, but maybe Chevy could. It would only be fair play, wouldn't it?

"There we go. Let me know when you're ready to blow up Hitter. As for now..."

She takes a card out of a purse inside her handbag and taps it against her lips as she eyes the roulette table. "...what's our strategy...?"

Log created on 08:25:33 02/20/2024 by Coco, and last modified on 10:09:56 05/01/2024.