Kitty nearly dropped her bagel as the radio in her right ear crackled to life. Dani had given each of them a communicator several days ago with strict instructions not to use them under threat of severe punishment. Surprisingly, not even Bobby misused them in the time since. Likely too busy chasing after girls to bother. Still, the communication device had been dead silent until now, and its sudden burst of chatter caught the young mutant by surprise.
Especially given the words that buzzed in her ear.
"Suit up and meet on the lawn. We’re moving out," Dani directed.
Suit up? Moving out? What was going on? They had only gotten their training uniforms the other day and there wasn't a scheduled team practice until after the weekend.
Stuffing the rest of the bagel between her lips, Kitty began scrambling about her dorm room. Whatever the reason Dani was calling them out now, the teenager would figure it out a lot sooner by simply obeying.
The next several minutes were some of the most hectic since Kitty had first arrived at the Xavier estate. Rushing out in her yellow and black suit, she was met by Dani and Katie. From there, the others joined them shortly after. Moments later Kitty found herself being ushered into an alien warship.
Katie's alien warship.
Power Pack's, technically, but that distinction didn't make Kitty feel any better about the circumstance. Here she was, apparently about to embark on her first legitimate crisis situation, and it seemed to be Katie that was leading the charge.
Kitty bit the inside of her cheek and told herself not to focus on that. She clenched her fists a minute later when Dani filled her in on the full extent of the situation - with Katie at the X-Man's side. It was only a brief flight from the Institute's grounds to the skies above Queens, but more than long enough for Kitty's nails to make dents in her palms.
The hatch to the craft opened and the little blue angel boy swooped out. No sooner had Cherub left the smartship than a voice called out from the ether. A second joined it. Then a third and a fourth. Four colorful figures emerged from seemingly out of nowhere, and although Kitty had never met any of them before, she knew them all well enough.
"Oh, you have got
to be kidding me." The exasperated words were muffled by the conversation between the four newcomers and Katie.
Kitty shot a look to Dani hoping to find support in her frustrations, but was met with the sight of the older woman nodding along.
"Good idea on the subway," Dani agreed. "I'll let the X-Men know your route so they can keep the threat far away."
"Kitty, Bobby, Cherub, Sammy." Dani pointed at each of them in turn. "While Power Pack's routing civilians through the tunnels, the four of you are on rescue detail with me. Our job is to get the injured and those pinned down out of immediate danger.
"Cherub, you're our eyes. You stay above us and call out anything you see. If any hostiles get anywhere within five hundred meters of us, I want to know about it. Keep a lookout for any collapsed structures; odds are someone will be trapped inside."
"Sammy, you stick to my side. I want you on your phone checking social media reports on this. Look for anything that discusses where groups of civilians may be hiding out, or any comments of distress from people isolated and calling out for help. And if anything on the news feeds suggests those portals outside are getting in any way more dangerous, you tell me immediately."
Kitty had stopped digging her nails into her palms at this point. This was beyond whatever feelings she had about Katie. She had told herself she'd be a better team player and this wasn't the time for her to backtrack on that. Not with a genuine crisis going on.
"Kitty, you're our ace-in-the-hole."
That got the teenager's attention. Kitty pushed everything about Katie and the Power Pack to the far recesses of her mind.
"Usually it'd be too dangerous to move debris and civilians without risking further damage, but your powers will make things a lot easier for us. Wait for my go-ahead, though. Don't just go rushing in." Dani added that last part with a knowing look.
She called out for the last member of their team, "and Bobby!" Dani had to yell to get the boy's attention as Bobby hadn't moved from his seat since the ship had begun to hover over Queens.
Dani tossed a large duffle bag into his lap. "That's got all of our medical supplies in it. Don't
"Alright," the X-Man ordered. "Let's get a move on, we've wasted enough time as is."
* * *
It was nothing like Kitty had imagined.
Queens was on fire. Figuratively and
literally. Neighborhoods burned as alien plasma weapons tore through houses and exploded vehicles. Screams filled the air as terrified families were chased by the diminutive creatures that continually poured out of the dimensional rift high above.
Kitty was far from all of that, though. Dani had taken the four students through a series of sidestreets that gave a wide berth to the hellscape deeper into Queens. Dani had told them to let the X-Men handle that chaos; it was their job to check the outlying homes and roads for those in need.
So far, they had come across only two individuals who needed rescuing. The first had been a young man fleeing on his bicycle that had had a collision with a parked car. In the fellow's hasty retreat, he had skinned his knee and knocked the chain loose on his bike.
The second individual had been an older woman the fivesome had come across outside of her house. She had been packing her tiny car with what seemed like every belonging she owned, apparently deciding that evacuation was lower on the priority list than saving her plants. Both had been sent on their way toward the Eighty-Third Street subway, though not before precious time had been wasted convincing the elderly lady to drive off without her petunias.
Still, despite not coming across anything dire as of yet, Dani made it a point for the group to check every single house, garage, tool shed, and any other structure they came across. Better safe than sorry, Dani had explained. You never knew where scared civilians may seek shelter in a crisis.
As Kitty finished clearing another house, she couldn't help but consider if Dani was keeping them further away from danger on purpose. They were so far from the center of the action that it felt purposeless to be there. With Katie and her old team directing the bulk of fleeing Queens' inhabitants to safety, and the X-Men directly engaging the alien threat, Kitty wasn't sure she was doing much of anything useful. No
. She had to push those thoughts to the side. Kitty couldn't start doubting Dani now. She had to have faith in the older mutant's methods and trust that Kitty and the rest were being put to the most use possible.
"Okay, that's another neighborhood secured," Dani said as Kitty gave the all-clear signal. "We're moving on. Rego Park is next and we'll have to be extra diligent. There are a lot of high-rise apartments in that area, plus a few schools I want to make sure we thoroughly scan."
"We're lucky this happened during the weekend," she added, "but public buildings like that are still likely to be swarmed with those looking for a good place to ride things out."
Kitty had considered as much already. In her mind, the schools and local police precinct would have been the first places she'd have wanted to check for civilians. It seemed only logical that those, and perhaps any fire stations in the area, would be prime locations for scared people to hide during a crisis. Still, Dani's plan to carefully check every last nook and cranny had its merits, Kitty knew.
"After that, we'll hit up Forest Hills which will put us much closer to the action. Then—" Dani stopped abruptly as she clutched a hand over her ear. "Say again, Cherub?"
The clone's voice came back small over the comm unit. "There's a group of six aliens. No, wait, there's more. They've got weapons and just came around the corner toward you!"
Dani cursed, spinning around in a circle in search of the threat. That wasn't nearly enough warning as she had intended. There was no way they'd be able to move away in time.
"Cherub, get higher and out of visual range. Let's not find out how far their weapons can fire. The rest of you, on me, and stay quiet." Dani rushed back toward the house they had just cleared. "We're hiding."