Chapter 413: The Dance Battle

    Chapter 413: The Dance Battle

    The moment Lina leaped on to the dais in her form-fitting purple dress, all eyes were on her. Almost right away a pair of colored lights swung over to her. The DJ certainly had an eye for entertainment.

    The dancers were professionals. They needed to be, since the establishment was among the most famous in the North. It was indeed a rare site for anyone to have the gall to jump up on stage when their competition was these beautiful women. Today, however, someone had the courage to do just that. Everyone looked at the brave woman, and her enthusiasm brought the energy of the club to a fever pitch.

    She was like a woman possessed. As the music thumbed and the tempo rose, she shot her right hand in the air. Her purple dress melted away like water, revealing a leather cat outfit beneath.

    The top only just barely covered her chest, leaving her shoulders exposed. Hot pants concealed her charms below. The pallor of her skin clashed dramatically with the shiny black clothing. Screams and whistles cheered her on as she flailed her head of fiery red hair.

    She jabbed a finger at the DJ, and he immediately responded with a change of pace. The steady thud gave way to an explosive cacophony of heavy metal music.

    She swung her arms out, and the dancers on either side were forced to back off. Lina planted her foot on the dance floor, then swung herself around in a circle. Policy at the club stated that dancers would have money deducted if they were shown up by the customers 1. These ladies weren't having any of that, so they danced all the harder to try and show her up. When she started spinning, though, they knew they didn't have a chance.

    She looked like a ballerina - a stunning princess spinning effortlessly on the tip of her toes. All throughout her arms swam through the air in fouette turns 2. It was a feast for the eyes of every patron there.

    This style of dance wasn't typically paired with this sort of head-banging rhythm, but the turns were so fast and so violent that she was actually keeping up with the screaming beat.

    Then, when the beat dropped, she stopped the spin and dropped right to the ground. She kept herself aloft on one hand while her legs swung around in a wide, windmilling Thomas flare 3. They were perfect, quick, and rhythmic.

    Her long legs swung through the air over and over again, and each swing caught the beat of the music. Her legs were a blur that reached three meters high at the apex.

    Her form wasn't as clean as the dancers, but she made up for it in raw energy and good looks. The fervent rush that poured from her in waves made the dancers look like timid wallflowers.

    The energy in the club rose with each spin, each thump of the bass. The appreciative cries didn't let up. Young men and women got caught up in the moment and began to writhe around the base of the dais with their new heroine.

    Her image vanished and came back, frozen in the half second that the blinking light caught her alluring form. Each half-second interval saw her in another tantalizing twirl, spin or dip. It almost made her look like magic, some sort of playful interdimensional sprite there for their entertainment. She was their queen of party.

    Chu Cheng stood beneath her shadow at the base of the platform. His looked up with eyes full of awe and desire. He was himself a fun-loving person, and this madwoman kicked it up to a whole new level. His eyes veritable blazed in the flashing lights. He didn't dance with the others around him, and in fact created a small empty space around him with the radiating force of his Discipline. No one dared draw near within a three meters radius while Chu Cheng watched. He would clap from time to time, or nod his head, completely absorbed in the scene.

    The music stopped, and as silence hung over the ground the lights on Lina intensified. She stopped, and pointed her finger to a spot below the platform. With a turn of her hand the finger curled in, beckoning her target forward.

    A single spotlight pierced the dim club interior, blanketing Chu Cheng.

    She pointed to the spot in front of her on the dais. Her lips were turned in to a scornful frown, an expression that said she doubted he had the guts. His response was to burst in to bemused laughter. The cries of the spectators grew louder as they realized what was happening.

    A dance battle!

    This was the most exciting thing that could happen in a night of clubbing as far as the patrons were concerned. They had seen how skilled she was on the floor, and now they were curious to see who she felt had the chance to upstage her.

    In their second floor booth, Qianlin and Lan Jue watched the exchange.

    "She dances so beautifully!" Qianlin exclaimed.

    Lan Jue smiled. "Why don't you go show her how it's done? I'll go down with you and make sure no one gets near."

    She vehemently shook her head. "I'll appreciate from here, thank you. I wouldn't dare show off my modest skills. But what's going on? It looks like Chu Cheng is going to get up on that platform too."

    "It's a dance battle," he explained. "She isn't convinced about Chu Cheng yet, so she's testing him this way."

    Qianlin bit her lip. "Can Chu Cheng dance?"

    He grinned at the two of them down below. "They call him the Prince of Luo Nightlife for a reason. Being a playboy like him is not an easy lifestyle to maintain. He needs a wide array of abilities. A woman is a multi-faceted thing, and he needs to shine on all surfaces. He told me once in a rare display of honesty, that when he does settle down it'll be with a woman who likes him for him. All the rest of this is just for show."

    Lina's chest heaved as she caught her breath. She wasn't completely recovered from the beating she'd received at Lan Jue's hand. The extra exertion didn't help. She had to rely on her Discipline in the end for her big finale.

    Chu Cheng's long legs brought him up on to the platform. He faced Lina with a smirk on his face, but he was the one out of place. In his suit, button-down shirt and vest he looked like he'd gotten lost. Silence prevailed as the two faced each other.

    Chu Cheng took a step forward, his footsteps ringing in the stillness. "A dance battle?"

    She looked at him, cold as ice. "Win and you take me home tonight."

    Chu Cheng laughed, and his mannerism was like a fox on the prowl. He lifted a hand to slowly loosen his tie. He yanked it off,  a sharp snap in the air quickly following as the fabric whipped away. He then gently laid it around Lina's neck. He then removed the vest and opened the top three buttons of his shirt revealing the line of his pectoral muscles.

    He took a few steps back, extending the distance between himself and his challenger. Then, his boisterous voice shattered the calm.

    "You told me today that I was a playboy. You're. I was. But if you'd done your homework then you know that being a playboy isn't just about money. That's not a playboy, just a glutton - and that's not me. My aim is to be the ultimate man. Whatever vice or pleasure you can think of, I've done it. I'm about to prove to you that you will never meat another guy like me."

    As he spoke he placed his right hand against his chest and spread his legs.

    Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum! A rhythmic drumbeat like the beating of a heart shuddered through the crowd. Chu Cheng's hand tapped against his chest to the beat, like it was his own heart making the noise. All lights extinguished but the single spotlight over his head.

    Now this dance platform belonged to him.

    Each bone-shuddering thud from the giant speakers saw Chu Cheng's face change a little, like he was falling in to a trance. His face was bitter sweet, as though looking on the face of a loved one.

    A single, gentle, tungsten light illuminated Lina Lee. She looked like she'd stepped out of a dream.

    Chu Cheng launched himself forward suddenly with two long strides. His arms swung open like he wanted to grab her in a hug.

    She frowned, taken by surprise. But he stopped half a meter away as the sounds of graceful music rose around them. He began to rock to the music.

    Lina's dance had been raw emotion, violent and loud. Chu Cheng's, by comparison, was more refined. It didn't have the explosiveness of heavy metal, but the notes made the listeners move almost without thinking.

    This wasn't just a dance. This was a story.

    Lan Jue didn't lean over to watch the dance - he'd seen Chu Cheng's mating wiggle too many times to count. Thankfully his communicator rang, giving him an excuse not to watch. Using his Discipline to help reduce some of the din around him, he answered the call.

    "Hey A-Li, what's up man? 4  " He greeted.

    "Chu Cheng's a right bastard." Hua Li's voice answered on the other end. "You know you're the villain of the whole internet now, by the way?"

    "Eh?" He helplessly sighed. He hadn't been following the 'controversy' over the forums.

    Hua Li told him all about it, interspersing a healthy dose of humiliating laughter. Lan Jue joined him. "This guy, he'd sell one of us in to slavery if it earned him a night with a pretty girl."

    Hua Li cackled. "Chu Cheng will be Chu Cheng, right? Where are you at, let's get together and give him **."

    "I came with that fool to the Crescent Moon," Lan Jue muttered. "He left me up here so he could get a shot at Lina. Wait a while and we'll go find you."

    Hua Li's voice raised an octave. "Eh? You're there? I'm right around the corner, I'll be there in a second. Chu Cheng is a snake - luring the poor girl in to his lair. Looks like this one's already another notch on his belt."

    Lan Jue laughed. "Not this time. The lamb lead the wolf to its own den. Except the lamb is actually a lioness. He's strutting around like a peacock right now, you might catch the end if you hurry."

    Qianlin had been quietly listening the whole time. She spoke up suddenly. "Chu Cheng's 'den', hm? But she's the one that brought us here!"

    1. It is common practice in China to deduct money from someone's paycheck if they don't do something. Unfortunately, these deductions are completely unregulated, so they could decide to withhold entire paychecks and the workers can't do anything about it. Because of the largely unskilled workforce in my former line of work, the ladies were sadly very underpaid, and often had to suffer managerial corruption or other severely unfair practices - and because they were easily replaceable there wasn't anything they could do about it. My wife once didn't get paid for almost three months.

    2. This, but really really fast.

    3. This I believe.

    4. "What's up man?" is the go-to greeting for Chinese English speakers who want to sound cool. English is funny is China because they have one set phrase tht they use 90% of the time "How are you?" is followed almost exclusively by "I'm fine, thank you!". It's like a knee-jerk reaction that I spent a great deal of time correcting in my classrooms.
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