I wrote this on a whim when I lost power on my computer back in 2009. I'm still relatively new to the DDR world and have little knowledge of the other games and whatever story they have so this is kind of awkward for me. I think it reads like one of those movies based on video games where the characters don't even look like their in-game counterparts, hence the title. Still debating whether to continue the story, let alone take it in that direction.
This prologue takes place 4-5 years before the main story starts.
I don't want to be here.
The field baked under the red glare of the setting sun. Sweat gathered on Chordia's brow, her heart drummed like a bird wing, so fast she thought her whole body was shaking under its rhythm. Most of her audience would be too far away to notice, she reasoned, but the thought didn't calm her much. The whole day had been unusually hot even for the beginning of autumn, and the fire at the horizon made the wrath of the seething sun still apparent. The air that lay heavy, stagnant during the day now felt like weights in her lungs. The carefree sounds of the tail end of summer had silenced suddenly, save for a few distant blackbird trills.
Chordia had performed for large audiences before, but until now she had never been able to see them. In an auditorium, the spotlights shone bright enough to block out even the closest row to the stage. Although most of the spectators here had their eyes averted to the flag above the scoreboard, she was the one they were paying attention to. Her stomach growled, loudly enough to make her hope the mic hadn't picked it up. Singing for crowds usually made her nervous to the point of nausea. Fortunately she had never suffered the humiliation of actually being sick onstage, but she had come close enough to sacrifice whatever meal came before the show. Still, the smoky smell of grilled corn and hotdogs wafted from behind the bleachers, and she was beginning to regret it.
Her voice rapped at the air, a cold start. She heard the flutter of her heart unseat the tone of her voice and fiercely steadied herself on the next note, carving out the national anthem with more agility and finesse. The start of the song had awakened her body, still her mind lay back in her stewing thoughts.
I really don't want to be here. It wasn't just this event. She wished she had never so much as attempted a vocal note, ever. She was well aware that there were many others that wanted to sing the anthem at homecoming. She picked out a few glaring faces in the crowd. It was Sonia that wanted her to be here, it was Sonia that pulled all the strings. Sonia was the only one who cheered Chordia's singing on, bordering the theatrical throes of fanaticism at times. She was a hard person to turn down. Even if one managed to get around her blinding enthusiasm and energy, she had such an innocent and fragile look about her Chordia was afraid of making her cry by turning her down. She suspected Sonia knew this and used it to her advantage, but only brought it up as a joke.
Chordia reached the end of the anthem. She had never heard such reserved cheering before. It turned into a genuine, full-blown rave as the ball players took the field. She felt sunken, trying not to let it show until she was out of sight. By then she had brushed it off, replacing it with thoughts of a much anticipated burger.
Sonia and Cadence waved for her from the top of the bleachers. Sonia gave an miniature extra round of applause when she reached them. "Brilliant, like I was always saying," Sonia said smugly.
"Best version ever sung," Cadence said blandly.
Chordia took a huge bite out of her burger and heaved a long sigh. "I hope not. Then we really are a disgrace to our country like Mr. Copland says."
"OK, Mr. Copland would say that about all his classes whether you sang it nice or not," Sonia giggled. "Besides, listen to them all still cheering for you!"
Cadence's sleepy eyes peered over the top of her own burger. Her voice was blunt but sedate. "They're cheering for Root."
She pointed to the sidelines, where the special teams squad was just returning. Normally Chordia couldn't watch football. There was something ridiculous about seeing her classmates stuffed with padding and chasing each other all over a field. Somehow Root made it make sense. He made the bulky uniform actually look natural. Chordia picked him out easily from the other players. His golden orange hair stood out like a second sun. His tan skin glowed in the last rays of daylight, fiery against his blue and white jersey.
Root made a splash in every sport he set out to play, and he played more than anyone else in the school. As far as Chordia knew he kept up honor-roll grades too, which made her wonder where he found the time. Despite the pressure of everything he was into he always seemed to be smiling and laid-back. She was as taken with his infectious attitude as was anyone else. Sonia was more interested in that he was well-built. Either way, Chordia admired him quite a bit.
"She's gone starry-eyed again." Sonia's chipmunk-like face obscured the field.
"Might as well forget about him," Cadence murmured. "He's taking Ele to the dance, you know."
If Root was the sun, Ele was the moon, with her amazing white gold hair and porcelain skin. She carried herself with a grace and dignity unheard of in the modern world, like she was always wearing a silk ball gown, but like with Root, it was never out of place. Chordia spied the platinum curls in the front row, bobbing excitedly atop a chattering head, and felt herself sinking again. Guys sometimes told Chordia she was pretty, but never gave her the lavish, almost poetic praise she'd heard about Ele. Sometimes it made Chordia angry. Sometimes it made her sad, especially on the days she looked in the mirror and saw the same scrawny, angled kid she had been since she started school. Her tan skin kept her from looking sickly, and she had gained minimal curve to her figure since starting high school, but she felt she had no substance, no impact on these days. She had not yet learned to brush it off and move on like her friends, or so they said they did.
Intense eyes became clear on the edge of her vision. Quickly she looked to the sideline. Root and his friends were staring in her direction. They turned away a second later and talked amongst each other.
He wasn't looking at me, Chordia told herself. She could feel herself blushing anyway. The players switched sides and Root pulled on his helmet.
He was looking for someone else. Why would he be looking at me?
"You know what a cat sounds like when you step on its tail? That's what she sounded like," Root laughed. "Someone really should tell her."
"Nono," Tre said, much louder than Root would have liked. "I've heard that. She's worse."
They had been sitting at some of the sparse tables set up near the dance floor, talking about the DJ's choice of music so far, which was mostly screechy sugar-pop hits Tre's ten-year-old sister would be embarrassed to have in her collection. Chordia had naturally come up after that. Tre's date Missa was sore about not singing the national anthem. Missa wasn't worth the trouble as far as Root was concerned. She was easily the most arrogant person he'd ever met, and that was saying a lot compared to half the football team, but he had to admit she was leagues ahead of Chordia in vocal talent.
"She can't sing cause she's a puppet." Missa leaned back in her chair, her voice still as venomous as the day of the game. "Whatever Sonia tells her to do, she does."
"We always said she looks like one," Root snickered.
Much of the student body had drifted out of the gym and into the thick night. The third day of the heatwave had ended as stale as the previous ones and the air on the inside was even worse, but Root couldn't take much more of the music that was playing. He wedged his way across the dance floor and put in a request with the DJ. The poor guy was more than happy to confirm.
Ele had dominated much of the list so far, Root noticed. She was eager to go but spent most of the night with her friends instead of him. Root suspected she only accepted his invitation so that she would get a ticket, but he was in a good mood tonight and didn't feel like calling her out on it, especially when his request came up.
It was a remix of a theme from a 70s dancing show that his mother watched reruns of all the time. It had been cancelled after one season, she said, despite being insanely popular. The pounding techno kick of the intro started up, and the floor flooded with dancers. Root and his friends were separated by the surge but none of them noticed, caught up in the contagious flow of the song. The crowd churned, stained with whirling rainbows of light and overcome with energy.
Abruptly, Root came out into an open space on the floor, where some of the dancers had formed a circle. He turned, still bobbing in time with the thump of the rhythm, light on his feet. When he saw who the people had crowded around he nearly stopped.
Chordia retained no semblance of the bony mannequin he and his friends secretly laughed at in the halls. She weaved and jumped in perfect time with the wailing electronic melody, hands cutting the air and feet stomping the floor with elaborate precision. With every new angle something on her sparkled, either the sequined flowers adorning her hair, the sheen on her sleek pink dress, or a flicker of her solid white feet. There was grace in her he had not thought possible, it was like watching a kite swoop and soar through a breezy blue sky. And with no uncertainty, as natural as stepping into a run, his dance style became something entirely different. The others followed, one by one. They were no longer just moving to the music, it was as if every one of their steps was creating it, sustaining it and shaping it in a way they would never see again.
Chordia beamed at him with startling confidence and beckoned him into the circle to dance with her. For the first time Root could remember, he felt overpowered, even a little shy.
As the last of the song drained into the next, slowing to something that was no match for the energy of the previous theme, many left the floor. Chordia gave one more smile to Root and disappeared into the crowd. Root shook his head and went to find his friends.
Did they see me with her? Root stopped dead in his tracks and glanced around wildly. I guess it doesn't matter, we'll all be laughing at it by morning.
His mind prickled uncomfortably as the thought echoed back at him. The feeling slowly grew into mortification by the time he reached his chair again, and he was well aware that it wasn't because he had likely been sighted with one of the school's in-jokes.