Sitting in total darkness and absent from sound, Sydona found herself completely alone in the middle of nowhere. With her heart pounding and breath quickening, she waited for a sound that would tell her to begin. Through padded earmuffs that covered her ears, she heard a faint beeping from her wrist. Ripping off the thick blindfold and earmuffs and throwing them to the ground, her eyes and ears quickly adjusted to the sunlight. The blinding sun caused her to squint her blue eyes, but ignored it as she began to search her surroundings. She was in a forest, but one she was not at all familiar with. It was sparsely populated with trees and easy to see into the distance. Although many of the trees had very wide trunks, enough for things to hide behind. The forest stood eerily quiet, with an occasional bird chirp, but then fluttered away. Her fair skinned hand touched the dirt floor, filled with leaves she had to scatter around as she searched for something. Several lines of leaves were flattened, by a car, she presumed. Sydona followed the tracks that led north, into the unknown.
She removed a pistol from her hip that was held on the opposite side of her normal dagger. Moving as quickly and silently as possible with her rugged black boots, she made her way through the woods, watching her back. With every maple leaf heard, she whipped her head around with gun ready in hand. Just then a man popped out from behind a tree with a gun pointed straight at her, and she shot him instantly before he could pull the trigger. He fell to the ground and she kept moving, carefully following the tire tracks. Her arms held straight out with the pistol ready for any other movements. A second person appeared behind her and made to many noises within the leaves. She quickly turned around to shoot them without hesitation. And continued with two more shots to another man that appeared next to them. Her pulse raced with every gunshot that rang through the woods and wiped her sweaty palms on her camouflage pants.
Taking another quick glance around her surroundings for any movements or noises, she confirmed she got everyone and moved on. She glided along the ground, keeping track of the trail soiled with tire marks. They eventually lead out of the woods and into a town that looked abandoned. It was a town she had never seen before. Her senses heightened, as she noticed several buildings that stood a few stories high. High enough for snipers and lookouts. Many of the buildings had busted out windows, some with cardboard and graffiti that looked dated. Only one car resided on the side of the road, but looked as if it was stripped of all parts, making it useless. The town was so small, she swore it was just the one street, and she could see out to the other side. Getting back to her mission, she glanced around to see where the vehicle went. A few alleys were visible from where she was standing, but unsure if they were large enough for a car. No carports or garages around where it could hide either; she had to investigate.
Glancing down at her wrist watch, it was counting up and she was at the eight minute mark. She clentched her fists and licked her lips, unhappy with the readout. Sydona ran over to the side of the road to press herself up against the buildings with her weapon ready. Spotting a quick movement inside a window on the south side of the street, she aimed her gun towards them and shot. Making her way down the wall to an alley that she assumed could fit at least a small car, she searched again for tracks. The town may be abandoned, but the streets were still in tact with no dirt that would signal tire tracks. As she cautiously ran down the alley, she approached a giant trash container. Perhaps too quickly, and a woman jumped out from behind it and disarmed her.
Sydona did a sweeping kick to her as she tried punching her, and fell to the ground. Her opponent then used her boot to kick Sydona in the stomach and push her backwards. Sydona gasped as the air was knocked out of her lungs. This gave the other woman a chance to stand back up and face Sydona. They swung at each other a few more times, with Sydona being the first one to make contact with her jaw and slammed her to the ground. Sydona pinned her down with a fist ready to keep punching, but the woman tapped her on the leg. They both nod at each other and Sydona stood back up, and ran to her gun. Reclaiming her weapon again, she continued to look for the vehicle. Along the way she took out a couple more people hiding in doors and windows.
Turning the corner, she saw the one thing that stuck out from the rest of the town; a shiny white van. Just to be sure, she approached it and peered inside the windows. It was empty of people, but still in good condition. This was the vehicle she was searching for. Placing her hand on the hood of the van, it was warm and it was still settling from the drive. Looking around for where the passengers could have gone, she noticed a door with a keypad on the outside of it. It was numbered zero to nine with letters underneath each number.
She picked the most obvious code she could think of and entered it in. ‘NFA.’
The light indicator flashed red.
Her hands shook and she glanced at her wrist again. It was at twenty-two minutes now. Gritting her teeth at the time and drawing a blank as she stared at the keypad, she tried a few more codes.
‘FLIER’; ‘MALIK’; ‘SPARROW’. Nothing happened.
Panicking at her failures, her hands vibrated even more. “Don’t worry Gia. I’m getting you out.”
Glancing down at her wrist, she wasted an entire minute thinking of the code. Then a light bulb went off in her head. What does the NFA strive to have the ability to do? Of course.
She entered in ‘FLY.’ The light flashed green and the door clicked open.
Turning the rusty handle of the seemingly abandoned building, she creeped inside with her eyes wide open. Her eyes quickly adjust to the darkness that waited indoors, only being slightly illuminated by the dirty windows. It reminded her of an old office building, with a reception desk and office doors that led down a hallway. Thinking of where they might be keeping Giovonna, she decided to find a set of stairs leading down. Perhaps there was a laboratory here, and most likely, out of sight from onlookers. As she made her way through the offices, a few more people showed up with guns, but Sydona took them all out.
Time was running out, and she needed to find her now. She ran to the back of the building where she hoped was an emergency stairwell that lead to a basement. Another man ran into her on the stairs on her way down and she took him out with no issues. At the bottom, the place opened up into a large hollowed out parking garage. It had remnants of an old camp that Willow mentioned the NFA does experiments in. A cemented brick wall made an office in the corner of the lot. It was clear that it wasn’t made when the original building was constructed. Giovonna could be held there and so she made a b-line to the office.
Two guards saw her through the window in the makeshift office and exited the room to stop her. With two clicks, she took both of them out and continued on her way. Sprinting the rest of the way across the parking lot, she kicked the door open to see Giovonna sitting in the corner with a big smile. Sydona ran past her and pressed a big black button on the wall that sounded an alarm. Looking down at her watch, it stopped at twenty-nine minutes and four seconds.
“You did it!” Giovonna jumped up and hugged Sydona who was breathing heavily.
“Yeah, just barely,” said Sydona and curved her lips upward.
Just then, the two people who were guarding Giovonna walked into the room, unharmed and grinning. They had their hands out to shake Sydona’s hand and she gladly took them.
“Congratulations, Syd. We knew you would pass,” one of them said.
“Thanks guys,” she beamed up them and slowed down her breathing. “You changed the code on me.”
The other man with buzzed brown hair shrugged and laughed, “We couldn’t make it too easy for you.”
“Yeah, whatever Scott. I know it was you who changed it, wasn’t it?” she teased.
He put both his hands up and laughed again, “It wasn’t me, I swear. It was Willow.”
“I heard my name! Ya’ll talkin’ smack behind my back?” Willow burst into the room and gave Sydona a sturdy handshake. Silas and Raoul followed behind.
“Congrats!” Silas squeezed her tight and pulled away with a quick peck on her cheek.
“What, you couldn’t do it any faster than that?!” Raoul exclaimed, making himself known to everyone in the room.
“Oh, shut up, Raoul,” Sydona laughed.
Sydona glanced around the room of smiling faces and friendly gestures and her heart felt warm. More people joined them in the room, mostly all the folks she shot on her way down there. They were all congratulating her and giving her hugs as they welcomed her to the group.
“Attention everyone,” Willow said. But when no one listened, she spoke louder. “Hey! Shut the ‘ell up!”
The room silenced and put their attention on the big red haired woman in the middle.
“I would like ta formally announce our newest member of the Sparrows, Sydona Wilder!”
The room cheered and laughed, and directed their attention to her, making her face turn slightly pink.
Willow continued while she wrapped a meaty arm around Sydona shoulders. “I met this snarky minx jus’ two short months ago and let me tell you, she was a damn handful! If it wasn’t for her fairy Raoul, who knows how things would’ve turned out for us. I know she don’t like me all that much, but she got that burnin’ fire in her that don’t stop. An’ I admire that. She single handedly took down Dr. Malik in Eagle Lake and now she wants more! Treat this woman like the princess she is and help her with anything she ask for.”