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?”
“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.
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.