By the Minute – Chapter 18

1:37 p.m.

Somewhere in Bayville

-ring, ring-

"What is it, I'm busy," Sinister spoke into his cell phone. He clicked off the light of the room he had just searched in for Kitty.

"Well if you feel it's necessary, far be it from me to stop you from having a little fun. Just make sure to hurry back, I could use your help here." He clicked his phone shut and continued down the hall resuming his search.

Xavier Institute

"Thanks for helping us with all this," Jean said as she and Lance carried out the last of the rubble from the monitor room into the trash. Lance shrugged his shoulders.

"No big," He replied. "Staying around here means I find out what happened to our powers faster anyways."

"I'm more concerned with when or if we'll be getting them back," Jean replied. Lance nodded his agreement.

"What makes you think they won't?"

"Well I hope they do, but since different people who have lost their powers show different symptoms, like us and our headaches, for example, makes me wonder if whatever did this has different side effects. Kurt hasn't been able to use his teleporting powers for a whole week and yet his physical mutation wasn't changed. No one else besides me and him, that I know of, have had powers gone for the whole week. I didn't really notice till today, and that's because it was only my ability to enter other's heads that was effected, till I tried to lift Hank earlier."

"And the injection knocked me out, but no one else had any kind of sudden lapse of consciousness," Lance offered another example. Jean nodded. He understood what she was saying. It made sense to him. Now he was just left wondering if that meant his powers were gone for good.

"Hey Jean! Lance!" Jamie called at them from the door way. They glanced at each other and then ran the rest of the way down the hall towards Jamie.

"What is it?" Jean asked following him into the room. Lance just stood in the doorway leaning on the framework.

"I think I've got most of the monitoring systems fixed and look," Jamie began settling himself down in front of a chair and began clicking a few buttons. "I've retrieved some footage from the backup system. Mystique must not have known about it."

"Or she just didn't have time to clear or destroy it." Lance offered from behind them.

Jamie swiveled around and looked at him. Jean placed her hand on his shoulder and nodded toward the screens.

"Show us." she said.

Jamie clicked a button and the screens that weren't damaged began to play the same footage.

It was from the camera positioned just above the elevator entrance facing out into the hall outside the Cerbro room. Lance straighted himself as he watched Scott approach the closed door. The door opened

Charles Xavier was there, at the door, clearly on his way out. Scott backed up a few paces.

"Sorry, I couldn't get any sound." Jamie explained as Professor X's mouth began moving. Scott didn't say anything, he just stared at the Professor with a slight smile on his face. Then suddenly he jumped up and round kicked Charles on the side of the head knocking him over in his wheelchair.

"Professor!" Jamie shouted and Jean tighten her grip on his shoulder.

Scott then bent over the body and pulled out a syringe from his pocket and injected it into the old man's neck. Then he seemed to react to a sound, flicking his head over his shoulder looking further down the hallway. He got up quickly and walked off screen. Jean guessed he was headed toward the very room they were in, where she had found Hank earlier.

"Mystique," Lance and Jean said at the same time.

"I'll try to find some more footage."

"That's great work Jamie, keep at it. I'll be right back, I just want to go check in on Hank and the Professor and then see how the others are doing with the rest of the clean up." Lance stepped aside to let her out of the room.

"Hey kid," Lance spoke up. Jamie turned and looked at him.

"Yeah, what?"

"How far back does the backup footage go anyways?"

"Besides the specific saved stuff, everything gets stored back an extra month. Why?"

"Just a hunch, but try and get some footage from around a week ago," Lance replied. Jamie didn't understand why but with a shrug of his shoulders he turned back to the monitoring system and began searching.

1:42 p.m.

Bayville Construction yard

The three mutant teens stepped out of the small building they had been using to monitor the security systems. Before they could close the door behind them a swirling gust of sand appeared in front of them, causing them to cover their eyes. As quickly as it came, the gust of sand began to take on a solid form until the wind died down to reveal another teen, a girl wearing a burkha of black.

"Dust, we weren't expecting you," the blonde said.

"Mystique called me only a moment ago with new orders," Dust replied then she nodded toward the boy with wavy hair.

"Wither, Mystique wants you to go and help Sinister down in the Lab. I am to take your place and assist in fighting the-"

"Fine," he cut her off, "I'll go but stop calling me Wither, my name is Kevin."

He began to walk away from the others towards the back gate of the construction yard. The three mutants watched him leave.

"Is he alright?" Dust asked the other two. The other boy smiled at her.

"Oh sure, he's just depressed about his codename. Not that I blame him, I'd be depressed too if my codename made it seem like I was a wrinkly old hag." He let out a short laugh.

"Tag, if you're done amusing yourself, perhaps you could help us play with our guests," the blonde girl spoke up with an icy smile on her face.

"Sure thing," Tag replied, he trailed her, alongside Dust, towards where they had observed the others heading to on the security footage.

Somewhere in Bayville

Kitty knew time was not on her side. She began searching the office room she was in while doing her best to ignore the pain of her head. She kept the small notebook she had found in hand and tried the desk drawers. She wasn't surprised to find them all locked except the small top one that contained nothing but various spare office supplies. She had hoped there would at least be paperclips in there for her to try and pick some of the locks but unfortunately the Doctor preferred staples.

"If only I had my powers." Kitty thought to herself as she went to the filing cabinet. She bent down low and opened the first drawer. She did it slowly remembering the sight of the dead body in the room she, Todd, and Jubilee had been in. She had thought those cabinets were filing ones too and been wrong, but she figured these wouldn't be as bad since they were at least square in shape. She was still apprehensive, not wanting to assume everything was completely safe and wind up in more danger.

She looked inside the drawer and gasped.
"I don't believe it!" she excitedly whispered to herself. She reached into the drawer and grabbed her brown backpack purse. "Please still be in here," she spoke as she opened it up and reached in. She had to stop herself from squealing when she found her communicator.

She clicked it on and was a little unhappy to hear crazy loud static coming from it. She knew that it meant the communicator wasn't able to send or receive a clear signal from that channel. She clicked the dial till she found one that made the least amount of static noise and then held down the talk button.

"Hello, is anyone there? This is Kitty. Please someone answer me." 'Please let someone hear this...' she thought to herself.

Bayville Construction yard

It wasn't as easy to take the lead as Rogue had thought, but she kept at it. They were keeping together in a train-line beginning with her, and ending with the Blob, looking for anything that might be a clue towards Mystique or where she might have taken the others. It hadn't taken long for Rogue to know they weren't here. One hostage, maybe, but keeping several around such an open and exposed area didn't make much sense. She kept at their current mission. They were making their way around some piles of construction materials.

As she rounded the end of a pile of metal pipes she was suddenly stopped.
"Hey there beautiful, miss me?" Quicksilver greeted her suddenly with a smirk on his face. Rogue was a little surprised by his sudden appearance. She wasn't able to give him any reply.

"Rogue, what is it?" She heard Boom Boom ask. The others had noticed that she was no longer moving on and were anxious to know why.

"It's fine. It's just Pietro," Rogue sighed as she turned and walked back to join the others. Quicksilver zipped to her side. The others seemed surprised to see him too.

"Why aren't you with Wolverine?" Rouge demanded.

"I was!" Pietro began his defense, "I took him right to where I previously found the tire tracks with Mystique's footprints. He-did-his-sniffing-thing-and was complaining about not being able to catch any good scent or whatever when he suddenly got all paranoid about something and then Mystique appeared out of nowhere and your Wolverine informed me he'd handle her and that I should go and find you guys."

"So you just left him alone with her?"

"He seemed to want it that way, and that's more than fine by me. If those two want to duel to work out all their sexual frustrations with one another, I have no problem leaving them to it. Whatever works right?"

He gave Rogue another smirk as several of the others let out a few snickers. Even Rogue had a slight smile that crossed her face from his reply.

"Should we go and help?" Iceman asked after everyone composed themselves. Rogue was about to answer him but she was cut short by the sound of footprints approaching from behind her.

"No need for that, I do believe you'll all have your hands full for awhile," someone, a girl, spoke up.

Everyone looked at the three strangers who had just approached them. No one recognized them.

1:54 p.m.

Xavier Institute

- arff, arroof!-
"Whoa!" Lance shouted as he was literally toppled down backwards to the ground by a very hairy and happy dog like wolf.

"Rahne!" Jamie and Jean exclaimed. Jamie bolted up from his seat. Rahne backed up off Lance, who was still stunned, and wagged her tail at the others. She sat up just as Jamie came to her and turned back into her usual self.

"My powers are back!" she exclaimed excitedly.

"That's great!" Jamie smiled giving her a high-five.

Lance pushed himself up to his feet and exchanged a look with Jean. Jean smiled at him.

"Well at least now we know this isn't permanent."

"For her, like you said, it seems to have effected a few of us differently."

"Sorry if I startled you Lance," Rahne apologized trying to stop smiling so big as she spoke to him. Lance nodded at her that he understood. He was aware that her smile wasn't about being insincere with the apology and everything to do with her powers returning. He would be just as happy when he got his back. If, he got them back.

"Jamie?" Jean questioned suddenly. Everyone in the room turned their heads towards her. "Why is this button here suddenly blinking?" Jamie dashed towards the control panel.
"That means someone is sending a communication signal!" He replied just as quickly. He flicked a speaker switch and then clicked the button.

The four of them all covered their ears as the room was filled with a loud static sound. Jamie recovered and swirled the volume dial down.
"The signal must be weak or on a different channel. I'll go ahead and give it as much boost as I can, the systems damaged though. If that doesn't work I guess we can try to flip through the channels and see what we get."
"Do you think they found Kitty and the others already?" Rahne asked hopefully.

Lance and Jean exchanged doubtful glances. Their silence was reply enough for Rahne. She sighed and began heading out the room.

"I'll go tell the others we might be getting a communication." She said as she left.

Jean leaned over the control panel near Jamie. "Anything I can do to help?" she asked. She was anxious for an update from the others.

Jamie pointed at a rotating dial. "That's the channel control, try clicking it through slowly." Jean began to do just that. Lance was just as anxious as Jean but he chose to hang back a few feet and let the other two work.

-click... -
"Nothing." Jamie shook his head. Jean clicked it again.

-click...-
-click...-
-click...-
-click...-
"Please, someone respond." Kitty's pleading voice came through faintly among a lot of static.

"Kitty!" Jamie, Jean and Lance exclaimed. Lance moved closer to the others.

"How do we reply back Jamie?" Jean asked a bit frantic.

"Can anyone hear me? Please respond, I'm not sure how much longer I can safely communicate from here."

"Here," Jamie pointed to a button a few spaces below the one that had been blinking. "You have to hold that one down to talk. I think." Jamie replied. Jean nodded and clicked the button trusting Jamie was right. She understood why he'd start doubting himself now.

"Kitty, it's Jean. Are you alright? Where are you?"

"I'm fine for now. Mystique captured me and is working with some insane Doctor. I don't know where we're at, but it's probably underground somewhere."

"Her signal is really weak," Jamie groaned as he frantically worked to pinpoint her location.

"She said we, ask her who's she with." Lance insisted.

"Kitty, who's with you?" Jean asked hoping it was everyone they were looking for. Kitty responded, talking very quickly causing more static.

"Todd and Jubilee were with me earlier, we had to split up. There's some status chambers with Scott and some kid in a room with a dead body and then the Doctor's got a kid, his name is Josh, but he's not dangerous... Oh no! I hear someone coming, I have to go, you have to get the others and-"

There was no sound in the room other than the static from the open communication line.

Jean held down the button, "Kitty... KITTY!" There was no response. After another minute the communication line was dropped.

"We have to figure out where she is and go help her!" Lance said. Jean turned and looked at him. They could tell by reading the others face that they had both heard everything Kitty had said. There was one part that had both of them worried.

"I'm trying... I really am..."

"We know Jamie. You keep working at it. I'll get the others. Show Lance how to send a communication to the others, they'll want to know we heard from Kitty." She turned and headed towards the door. "And Lance," she stopped and looked at him from over her shoulder.

"Yeah?" he asked her.
"Make sure you tell Wolverine everything she said." He gave her a quick nod of understanding and then she left the room.

Somewhere in Bayville

"I hear someone coming, I have to go, you have to get the others and- " Kitty stopped talking.
She remained silent, standing still, starring directly into the eyes of the man who stood in the doorway of his office.