Header illustration by Erica Lahaie
Welcome to the Waypoint High School Class of 2016 Yearbook. We're giving out senior superlatives to our favorite games, digging into the year's biggest stories via extracurriculars , and following our favorite characters through their adventures together in fanfic. See you in 2017!
Captain Price sat onstage, breathing the funk of teenaged hormones. As instructor he had the place of honor, perched behind a table hung with paper bunting and a banner reading MARINE JROTC MILITARY BALL. His commando's eyes—honed by years of government training—scanned the cadets to make sure no one was playing grab-arse on the dance floor.
No one was.
"Cowards," he snickered, and scratched his nicotine patch.
The Muppets looked good in their dress blues. Cadet-Captain Morrison looked like a real marine already. Despite his baby fat, Cadet-Sergeant Fenix had a martial solidity to him. And Salter…
His eyes fell on Salter, ripping it up to some pop song, all elbows and whipping hair. That girl would change the world, Price thought, for better or worse. (Kids always thought it'd be for the better, but they'd learn.) Her partner Rhodes wasn't so much dancing as twisting around to see if anyone was judging him. Salter noticed and slugged him in the arm so he snapped-to.
That was Rhodes, all right. Haircut always just outside of regulations. Forever bringing in news clippings about bombings and Ebola outbreaks. The boy squinted at you when he talked, as if you were a white-skinned lizard and he could see the pulse of your heart. Price had quietly recommended him for that stay-behind force the government was putting together.
The song ended—thank Christ—and Price checked his watch. "Listen up Muppets!" he roared. "We need to clear the gym in a half hour. Three more songs, you get me?"
Disappointed mumbles answered.
"Oy! You get me?"
"We. Get. You. Sir!" they snapped back.
Price settled back in the chair. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Salter dragging Rhodes out the door, like a determined mastiff pulling its owner down the sidewalk. Normally Price would follow, smelling unplanned pregnancy—but he knew what this was about.
"Graduation angst." He shook his head and wished them well.
"Salt, stop!" Rhodes said. "That's a fire door.""Really?" Salter banged it open and dragged them into the stairwell. The concrete inside was humid and shadowy, lit by orange dome lights.
"Didn't you see the sign? Alarm Will Sound.""Do you hear an alarm, genius?" she slugged him in the arm.
"Ow. That's not the point." Rhodes rubbed his bicep. She had an uncanny ability to hit him in the same spot every time—he'd had a permanent bruise since sixth grade.
"An alarm's supposed to sound."
"But it didn't, so forget it." She backed away smiling, one hand in her pocket.
"I've got your graduation present." Salter tossed something through the air.
Rhodes flinched. The object struck him in the chest and he trapped it there, hand-over-heart like he'd been shot.
"Shit, Nora! I wasn't ready."
"You did okay," she teased.
"You gonna look, or what?"
Rhodes opened his hand to find a heavy medallion nestled in his palm. He held it up and it flashed silver in the weak light. In the center, a white enamel skull stood jaw-open, lightning bolts and jutting through its eye sockets. He wasn't sure if it was laughing or screaming.
"What is this?"
"It's a challenge coin."
Salter pulled a matching medallion from her pocket and flashed it like a police badge. "Next time I see you, I can challenge you. Produce the coin and I buy you a drink. Fail, and you buy me a drink. Cool, right?"