Graduation: Part 24

One of the men in protective gear — the one I’d guessed might be Ray — pulled a gun, and pointed it at Sean.

Julie stopped talking to Shannon and Camille, and shouted, “Freeze!”

The sonic blocker I’d designed to stop Julie’s commands, and Syndicate L’s paralysis devices went off, cancelling out the odd tone in her voice, leaving her to sound much like anyone else.

Out on the field, everybody except Julie stopped moving.

“Score one for the Pink Ranger,” Cassie said.

“Looks like it worked,” Vaughn said. “Even the people in the stands are out.”

Vaughn panned the crowd. Most of them stared straight ahead.

Well, except for Ray. He pointed his gun at Julie.

She dove for the ground, shouting, “Unfreeze! Unfreeze!”

Then I heard the sound of screaming, and a small hum from my sonic blocker, but I only saw blurry bleachers, and Vaughn’s jeans (black).

“Change in the bathrooms?” Vaughn asked.

“Where are they?”

“There.”

“By the exit? Vaughn, everybody’s running for the exit. It’ll be over before — God. It is.”

“Hey,” I shouted up at the screen. “What happened?”

“You’re still there, Nick? Look.” Vaughn pointed the phone toward the field. All of Justice Fist lay on the ground unmoving.

Sean’s father ran out across the field with Mr. Sledge.

“Where’s…” I tried to think of a way to refer to Ray that wouldn’t be suspicious if overheard. “Uh…”

“Their teachers left by the exit on the other side of the field,” Cassie said. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

* * *

Vaughn did manage to get into the air afterward, but he didn’t see Ray’s team at all.

I talked to Isaac Lim after I got off the phone. Despite the news reports showing the hotel’s destruction, the evening hadn’t been a total loss. They’d managed to catch a couple of Prime’s people. They weren’t talking yet, but he had hopes.

When I told him about what happened on the field, he asked for details, and then said, “Thanks. Got to go.”

It made the five o’clock news. I caught it in the lab as I tested the right arm’s sonics’ connections. They interviewed Sean. He said nothing about why the fight started.

Had Isaac talked to him?

* * *

Graduation came too soon.

They held the ceremony on the football field, placing the platform on the east side so we wouldn’t have to sit with the sun in our eyes. Given that the sun would set during the ceremony, it was nice to know they’d been thinking ahead.

Graduates sat in the field, all of us in blue and yellow robes. Parents, relatives, and friends sat in the bleachers.

I tried to find my parents, grandparents, and Rachel. Haley had mentioned that she might be sitting with them too.

I couldn’t see any of them.

I noticed Sean’s parents and Sydney sitting in the front row of the bleachers. Sean’s dad didn’t seem to be smiling. As I looked at him, he seemed to be checking out the top rows of the bleachers across from him.

Following his gaze, I didn’t see anything suspicious — just another police officer. I’d seen at least five so far. Someone had arranged more security than I would have expected.

After what had happened at prom, I could imagine their paranoia.

I pulled out my League phone, and texted Rachel.

She sent back, “We’re here. Stop worrying.”

I did, listening while our principal, Dr. Williams introduced the commencement speaker, and proceeded to zone out during the speech.

If possible, I paid even less attention once they started calling names of the graduates, and waited for them to cross the stage. I cheered as Vaughn crossed the stage. A lot of people did, but mostly I sat quietly. With a six hundred person graduating class, it took far too long for them to seriously expect anyone to pay attention the entire time.

I barely noticed when they called my name. I walked, following Kayla just like I had in practice that afternoon, but I didn’t think about it much.

A few people cheered as I crossed the stage — Cassie, for sure. I recognized her voice. She was walking just a couple people behind me.

Once I sat down again, I had no reason at all to pay attention, and didn’t until they got to the “T’s.”

I can’t remember who walked, (John Thompson? Andy Timmer?) but as he did, someone started screaming.

Sean’s mom.

I glanced at Sean’s dad, and turned my head away, trying to convince my stomach to stop heaving.

To judge from his slumped body, and bloody mess of a face, he had to be dead.

18 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 24”

  1. Well that didn’t go very well, but perhaps better than expected.
    I just hope this isn’t going to end up with a free for all in the streets with the Executioners now on the loose and at odds with pretty much everyone.

  2. Damm talk about a mental impression…could you imagine theses kids now everytime they hear someone with the name “T” being called out bang your dead.

  3. “Given that the sun would set during the ceremony…” I find this interesting, even though I probably shouldn’t. Graduations and suchlike tend to take place around noon here, and never really came to think about everywhere not necessarily being the same…

  4. Now if I could only remember all the group member’s last names…. Nick’s got his diploma, Cassie’s got her, and Vaughn’s got his… And by this point in the ceremony, how close is that sun to setting….

  5. The thing I find interesting is that Ray didn’t kill any of the kids. Obviously, he could have put a bullet in at least a couple of them on the way out, as could his cohort. Later, he kills Sean’s Dad (I feel especially bad for Sydney), quite deliberately, so he obviously felt he deserved it. But not the kids. I wonder why?

    Hg

  6. Sean’s dad is “in charge” so if Ray attacked the kids, the father would unleash hell. By killing him first, he’s cut the head off the chicken and it will take awhile before the body gets organized — giving Ray plenty of time to deal with the rest, or to use it as a distraction to get as far away as possible.

    I just want to congratulate Sean on being so dumb, now his father’s dead because he decided to play hero. I really don’t like that kid.

  7. I think it’s because of the method they have: going for the whole family first. There may have been friction, but the Executioners had a deal with the parents. Justice Fist went up against them, so they would start on their families first, regardless of the ease of just taking them out now.

  8. I like that Julie found out that just telling everyone to freeze also meant her teammates would freeze along with the enemy. And hurray, the Julieblockers worked!

    Sean really has a lack of a knack for strategy. It is easy to guess that the guys who work with paralysis rays on a regular basis would probably have something to protect themselves from such paralysis.

    Sure, Sean wouldn’t know that such devices are similar enough to Julie to make protection capable of workign against both, but maybe he shouldn’t have attacked them at a time when they knew they would be training/sparring against the entirety of Justice Fist in front of an audience containing the Fisters’ friends and family.

    He is NOT going to be happy to know that the League had so much info and such devices and was seemingly just sitting it out because of the FBI.

    Go go Justice Rangers, Incompetent Teenage Justice Rangeeeeeeeeerrrrrrs!

  9. Hydrargentium: Isn’t that just how they roll? The whole modus operandi of the Executioner was to fist (ehh, Freudian slip, first) kill off the family of the heroes to make them suffer before going for the actual mark, no?

  10. …which Charles already said. Sorry, my bad, shouldn’t post before getting my coffee in the morning.

  11. Just…..damn. As much as I loathe Sean, and as much as I loathed Mr. Drucker even more, I wasn’t looking for him to get capped; at a graduation, no less.

  12. Well, that was unexpected!

    Were the assassins dressed as cops, or were the police taken out by the Executioners so they could just waltz in and and get the job down without any hassles?

    Can’t say I’m too fussed on him dying, hope his family get a better time of it now.

  13. Mazzon: Being interested in the timing of the graduation seems totally reasonable to me. In west Michigan, I don’ t think there really are typical graduation ceremony times. My high school graduated people in the evening. The college I went to graduated people in the afternoon. Other colleges had night time graduations. It was completely inconsistent as a group, but the schools in question tended to do the same thing every year.

    About the Executioners tactics: Re-read Rattling Cages, and you’ll find that they’re doing the same thing they always do with an emphasis on personally terrorizing the people that get in their way. Why just kill someone when you can compound their grief by associating it with something that ought to be a happy memory?

    WA_side: That’ll be in the next post.

  14. Nooooo!
    Poor Sean 🙁
    Loss and guilt and fear mixed in a terrible package because he has repeatedly tried to do good:-(

  15. I am finding the beginning of this very confusing.

    “Julie stopped talking to Shannon and Camille, and shouted, “Freeze!”

    The sonic blocker I’d designed to stop Julie’s commands, and Syndicate L’s paralysis devices went off, cancelling out the odd tone in her voice, leaving her to sound much like anyone else.

    Out on the field, everybody except Julie stopped moving.”

    The sonic blocker worked, so it blocked Julie’s command. So how come everyone stopped moving? After puzzling over it for a while I am guessing that maybe it blocked it, but only for Nick? If so, a wording change might help: “… leaving her to sound much like everyone else, at least in my ears.”

    Then this happens: “Then I heard the sound of screaming, and a small hum from my sonic blocker, but I only saw blurry bleachers, and Vaughn’s jeans (black).” This time I really don’t even have a guess of what occurred.

    1. The key thing to remember here from the last page is that Nick’s not there. He’s only seeing video and hearing sound through their cellphones. Thus, he sees a blurry image of bleachers and Vaughn’s pants because no one is worried about giving the camera a good view of what’s happening with everything else going on.

      With regards to the how the blockers worked: Vaughn and Cassie aren’t out on the field. The sonic blockers have a limited range and only worked on the two of them.

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