0 1 3.

Desires. Goals. Love. All things that come to the fierce Maajida Ortiz’s mind as she pulls the trigger to her Beretta. The bullet flies out and burns a hole through the target’s head. The target is a hired mercenary who didn’t know he’d be meeting his demise by the gun of one of the most feared Special Ops agents the United States Government ever dispatched.

That’s one down.

As she barrel-rolls forward through a rotted door and into a hail of bullets, her thoughts echo louder than her hectic surroundings filled with gunshots and angry henchman.  She has one thing in mind: Valentine’s Day was tomorrow, and her and her newlywed husband had reservations at the one and only Bobby Flay steak – complete with a meet and greet with the Iron Chef himself. She still remembers making the reservations on a hazy night with him two months ago.

***

“So you want steak?’ she asked her husband, Alex. The two newlyweds laid in their PJs and were getting ready to binge watch another show on a chilly Sunday night. Maajida let down her thick curly hair as she closed out all her work tabs off her laptop. Alex, sitting right next to her, steals a glance and begins searching on Netflix.

“Duh. Can we finally go to Bobby Flay Steak? I’ll drive.” he responds. Before closing her laptop Maajida finds a Groupon for reservations and a meet & greet, pushing their budget a little, she pushed up her glasses and made the reservations without Alex noticing.

“So let’s take days off, both of us.” she responded.

Alex smiled back as nothing can ever go wrong. Nothing could stop these newlyweds from doing whatever they want. They had just gotten married and promised to live their lives together as much as possible before starting a family. They had agreed to eat all they want, party all they want, lounge all they want, to live in the now.

***

His smile warms Maajida’s heart as her daydream is cut short by the crude reality she was facing now: the middle of the Brazilian Rainforest tracking down a VIP hostage in an old abandoned warehouse. As she snaps out of her daze, Special Agent Ortiz is met with a huge fist from a 220 pound, six-foot musclehead. The grunt has no idea that he is getting paid to swing at the wrong woman. Ortiz blinks, easily dodges, and kicks the overthrown thug in his nuts.

That’s two.

Maajida is now in a large room. After knocking out the first generic henchman, she is surrounded by three more. She laughs to herself as she addresses the brutes like a classroom.

“Okay children, we either do this the easy way and you tell me where I need to go…”

her tone sharpens, “…or I keep kicking and shooting until I get to where I want.”

The henchmen look at each other and then charge at Maajida. At 30 years of age, she stood a noble 5’5’’, a definitive coke bottle figure, and this time – her curly mane was pulled all the way back. She was used to being underestimated in her line of work – this kind at least. Being back on the clock meant she has to don her all-black tech suit, her combat boots and all types of holsters for pistols and military grade knives. The first thug charges head first, which is a rookie mistake. She easily dodges and pistol-whips him to the floor. Thug 2 picks her up from behind. She jokingly yells out a “Wee,” pretending it was a ride until she reaches behind his neck, flips behind him and punches his lights out. Thug 3 decides to take it up a notch and grab his shotgun. He lets a few rounds off and never noticed that the skilled Maajida was out of his field of vision. Looking around confused, he is met with her tightly bound fist to the face.

That now makes the grand total to six generic henchmen down.

“I still got it,” she said to herself, “but only six grunts? I’m offended.”

Despite her impressive performance only hours out of retirement, Maajida is not satisfied. She is called back out on a mission after five years away and had no leads. She is to find a hostage halfway across the globe and although there were no time constraints from her superiors, she has her own. Her reservations are at 8 pm tomorrow and that’s all that mattered. She picks up her phone and makes a call. She starts debriefing the other end of the line,

“Jordy, I think I was too late, the package wasn’t here. Is the tracker still active? Run it.” She rolls her eyes and nods. She exits the abandoned building and hotwires an SUV and heads North as instructed. While driving, she catches herself crying a bit and scoffs, “Damn hormones.”

***

Just a few weeks ago, Maajida Ortiz was tying up loose ends on her thesis that she had worked so tirelessly to finish. Maajida was finally going to earn her Ph.D. in Social Psychology. This has been her sole focus for the past two and a half years straight. The program at her local university was typically four years but could be done in three, only with the right time management and dedication to the final thesis presentation. Maajida, who’s been proving people wrong since childhood, decided she wanted to challenge herself since she traded in automatic rifles and combat boots for mechanic pencils and Vans sneakers. She had become quite the scholar: becoming the highest sought out TA in the department, a part-time member of an intramural softball team, and set to graduate Magna Cum Laude. This trifecta of accomplishments made her an instant hire anywhere, but she knew that after some fat paychecks from research, she was to pursue becoming a professor to mold young minds. This all came to a screeching halt due to some odd forsaken turn of events. In just one phone call, Magna Cum Laude Maajida Ortiz became Special Agent Ortiz.

As Maajida left her last class of the day not even eight hours before her current rumble in the rainforest, a call came in from her neighbor.

“Maaj. It’s me, Monica. Some dudes came to your apartment and when I looked out, some big guy had Alex over his shoulder and threw him in a black SUV. They headed down the street toward the expressway, the super already called the cops! Honey, I am so sorry..”

The line clicked.

A ringing noise plagued her eardrums. Everything slowed down, and she held her head in her hands, gripping tight. She dropped her messenger bag and phone. After a minute of self-reflection, she quickly looked up, and her eyes are filled with an intense bloodlust. She dialed #013 and her phone switched to another OS. She holds her phone to her hand and simply said

“Special Agent 0 1 3, Ortiz.”

The day of the phone call was the day that she was supposed to turn in her last working draft of her thesis. She wanted to get this done to be able to dedicate her night to put the finishing touches on Valentine’s Day. Instead, she was forced to slam a concrete wall in her townhome basement with a sledgehammer. The smashed wall revealed a padlocked chest that only her handprint could unlock. Cracking the chest open, Maajida came out of retirement. After getting her gear on, she turned on her signal modified iPhone and dials J O R D A N. This speed dialed her to a voice in her head, her talking GPS, her conscience. Support Agent Jordan Graham, Jr. was her partner in the field fitted into her headset.

“Support Agent Graham responding to call from…oh man! Maaj Ortiz! Whew, if I’d realized it was you I would have already had your extraction planned out. What do ya need lil’ sis? I swore they gave 0 1 3 to another agent….” Jordan responds to Special Agent Ortiz’s call in.

Ortiz sighs and begins her brief, “Jordy, hey, look this is temporary but I need your help. Activate tracker labeled AR1, under classified file 0 – passcode MISO1.”

“Oh man. Ok…sending pin now. It’s ascending quickly over the Hudson River. Most likely in an aircraft. Ok…the aircraft seems to be heading south. I’m going to have a local pick you up on the Marina by Sanitation. He’ll boat you out to a plane waiting on you on international waters…Listen, Maaj, whatever you need I got you. I know it’s been years but call in with anything you need. Business is slow these days.”

“Thanks, Jordy. You were always my favorite.”

Support Agent Jordan Graham, Jr. had been the HQ in the ears of many tenured agents, but he and Special Agent Ortiz had a quite successful run together. Five years have passed since Ortiz first locked up all of her gear and started her retirement. Jordan hadn’t worked with an agent as tenacious and daring as her and was excited to run point on this special class mission.

Jordan has now been a Support Agent for almost 15 years. His set up included multiple monitors, a wireless headset, multiple keyboards, and a stockpile of snacks. Jordan still managed to maintain a lean figure by using his off day weight training and caring for his dogs. He took a different route and stayed on the inside, despite Maajida trying to convince him to retire too. During their decade run together, Jordan and Maajida never failed to complete a mission. They challenged each other’s ideas and were always in sync, even from Agent Ortiz’s first mission at age 16.

***

On the other side of Maajida’s headset, Jordan snaps up in his chair and looks at his screen and notices that the position of subject AR1, or the tracking device Maajida planted in Alex, had beeped back up in the heart of Bogota, Colombia.

‘Wait a minute – they took your husband? How? He’s an accountant.”

“I’m just reacting, Jordy. I will worry about deets later, I just need to find him and then kill whoever took him.” Maajida responded.

“Maaj they got him in Bogota. As of now, I don’t have a solid idea on who did this to you, but it could either be the Medina Brothers, or the Kingston Mob. You made messes in Panama and Jamaica, putting away both of those family heads – simultaneously. That was years ago though. They definitely have a motive. I’ll keep digging. For now, I’ve marked an airstrip nearby. I have already wired money to the pilot. He’ll get you to Bogota in a matter of hours.”

Back in her SUV, Maajida thanks Jordan and continues forward.

“This fucking sucks. I laid low. I found love. I’m helping people. I just want a normal life!” she tells herself. In a matter of 24 hours, she finished her final draft of her thesis all while losing her husband to kidnappers. What’s worse is that she was forced out of retirement from her past life, something she swore she wouldn’t do unless she couldn’t live out her dreams. As her life was moving forward, her past came and called a dramatic timeout to remind Maajida of what her life was before she met Alex that snowy night three years ago.

***

Alex Renteria-Brown prided himself as a man of meticulous planning. He maintained a bulkier figure on account of his random health kicks every few months. He wore a short haircut with a thick beard. Alex always liked taking risks, as long as he calculated every possible outcome –  which eventually drove him to finance. An absent father, overbearing mother and finally being the “first” to do many things in his family defined Alex’s upbringing. Despite this hardship, Alex left the Bronx and got his Business Degree from Long Island University, CW Post. After a few years on Wall Street, Alex took his earnings and began investing. Though not much of a people person, Alex was known through his firm as being able to inspire others through his actions. Silent all-nighters in the office with amazing work to show for it. Being able to turn off his introvert demeanor and turn on his New York charm for clients. He was known as a man with many skills both with people and numbers. The biggest risk he took didn’t involve finance but came when he agreed to share the last pizza of the night with a beautiful stranger with a mouth smarter than his. Lenny, the owner of Lenny’s Pizza, had one pie coming out of the oven when both he and a beautiful woman had walked in. Both of whom wanted to take a pie home to survive the Snowpocalypse. Because he was closing up shop, he agreed to give them the pizza free of charge, if they agreed to share it.

They both reluctantly agree and weakly nod to Lenny. After Lenny went to the back to finish closing up while the pizza baked, Maajida and Alex stood there in the awkwardest of silences. Alex couldn’t take it and inevitably breaks the ice.

“Look, I don’t really do people like that miss,” Alex pointed out to a younger Maajida, “Howa’bout when the pizza comes out you take ya slices and go. I have a long way home, and I am sure there is no Ubers runnin’. This was the only place left open.”

Maajida ground her teeth and looked up. Initially finding his accent obnoxious, she warmed up to it and immediately noticed the man’s eyes. Eyes like hers. Eyes that have seen things they wish they could unsee. She felt a rush of heat explode from her heart. Her ability to read people’s intentions came naturally but was honed and used as a weapon through her profession. She knew that this man was once filled with love but it was sucked out, but she couldn’t figure out why nor did she care. The explosion in her heart turned to attraction, as she noticed the man with the attitude also had great hair, a full beard, and was donning the perfect combination of jeans, Timbs, and a heavy North Face coat. After calming herself down, she smiles and responded.

“And I really don’t do pompous assholes. However, if you’re hungry I live two blocks down so, come up if you wanna split the pizza and wait out the storm if you want.”

Startled, Alex agreed and was relieved. Alex noticed that this woman was strong and beautiful. He noticed her figure. He was hypnotized by her cozy, yet sensual demeanor. The woman wore yoga pants, a Columbia University hoody under a denim jacket, and boots as well. He also noticed her hair, long and curly a soft spot of Alex’s. What he noticed most though, was that she was thinking. Alex was always thinking. Whether it was worrying about his family, landing the next big project, or trying to decide if the loss of 30 minutes of sleep was worth staying up to watch his favorite show. But something about Maajida’s demeanor allowed him to let his guard down and stop thinking for a second. Alex did not like people, because he felt as though most did not utilize their utmost potential.

“People should never move without purpose,” was Alex’s mantra up until that moment.  So for him to notice another person with an active brain like his, he did not know what to think. Once his brain slowed down for a second, his heart sprung to action and took control of what was going to happen next. He felt an attraction he had never felt. The attraction was so crippling, that the cooling sensation of relief that filled his body when she responded was more soothing than the fresh side of a pillow when you lay down.

She’s got a smart mouth too? I’m in trouble. Alex thought to himself.

After the two of them shared an awkward silence as the pizza finishes up, they thank Lenny and run outside two blocks over to Maajida’s townhome. Alex follows her up the stairs and tries to not make it obvious that he is checking her out. Maajida is usually more on guard around men but somehow felt safe with this stranger. As they got into Maajida’s place, the familiar smell of arroz con pollo mixed with marijuana filled Alex’s nostrils. Feeling a little more at home as he looks around this mysterious woman’s place he asks, “Hey, Maajida right? Am I going crazy or does your place smell like pollo and weed?”

Maajida freezes as she is in the kitchen bringing plates down. Is she about to get judged? Is her image of this brooding lover boy about to be ruined?

“Smells like my Tio’s crib in South Bronx,” added Alex.

Maajida rushed back to the common area and pokes her head out.

“Boy what you know about some pollo?” chuckled Maajida.

“I know the smell of adobo and that loud. I’m Dominican and Black, sis.”

“Oh, you’re authentic, authentic huh?” Maajida walked in with plates, condiments, and two coronas. “So let’s talk, Alejandro.”

The two spent the night talking about everything from their respective mixed upbringings to where they grew up to what they do now. They got full dissertations on each other. Alex found himself getting lost in Maajida’s eyes as she talked about learning Arabic from her mother and Spanish from her father. Maajida would nod in a daze as Alex talked about summers in North Carolina with his mom’s family and the crazy odd jobs he would do with his Tio and now deceased Father. A whole pizza, multiple joints, and a 12 pack later, the two found themselves on the couch, perusing through the show options to stream. Maajida sparked up one more joint as she clicked through random show after random show. She looks over to notice Alex in deep thought and decided to interrupt.

“So, how does an accountant like you, who comes off as someone with a massive stick in his ass manage to actually be a regular human?”

Startled again Alex is able to respond quickly, “Weed and studying.”

“You are in school? I am applying for grad schools, got a few interviews lined up…,” Maajida perks up.

“No, I just like reading about stuff and learning. I’d much rather do that than go out and spend money on frivolous things. “

“What? Like weed?” inquires Maajida.

Alex laughs and responds, “Weed is quite literally the opposite of frivolous. But I meant people”

“Big words from a strange man. I like the mystery, Alejandro.”

“That’s actually not my name, its Alexander. My mom wanted to make sure both sides of me showed up in my name.” Alex responds sternly but is careful to not sound like an ass.

“Ha, the similar concept behind Maajida Ortiz.” Maajida notices that she has succeeded in lowering his guard. She was so intrigued.  

“That name, it’s so unique. And not like Brittani with an ‘i’ or Ashleigh with a ‘gh’ What does it mean?”

Maajida looked into Alex’s eyes as he passed the joint back to her. “It means glorious, or powerful.”

Alex makes his move. “Makes sense. You are honestly one of the most interest-”

Maajida stopped him by bringing her lips up to his face, only to blow smoke right into his mouth. Alex almost started coughing his lungs out but is able to take the full shotgun hit. Alex then tried to kiss her back, and she pulls back.

In a serious tone, she looks deep into the eyes that intrigued her so much and asked, “Are you going to hurt me? Because I can hurt you a lot more.”

“I would never dare cross the All-Powerful Maajida,” responded Alex, staring right back.

Maajida planted a kiss on him and gets up. She walks away and turns back “You coming? No frisky business…you haven’t earned that yet, but it is freezing in here- and much warmer back here..”

Alex, basically drooling, says not a word and immediately hopped up to follow Maajida. Not without slipping and almost falling, Alex quickly regained his composure and followed Maajida into her bedroom. He walks in and finds Maajida naked on her bed. She smiled and waved him over with one finger.

Alex’s mouth drops,

Glorious.

***

An explosion startles Maajida, and she comes back to her frigid reality only to find her plane nose-diving into a cornfield. Maajida’s adrenaline kicks in, and she gets to work. As she straps on her parachute, she speeds dials Jordan: “Jordy, my plane got shot down, they are on to me. Do we have any field agents currently outside of Bogota? This isn’t some low-level scumbag that’s after me. I’m going to need help.”

Jordan does a quick search on his main screen. “That’s a negative. I am going to run another query and see if anyone is within an hours distance. Get to the ground safely. By the way, who registered this as a mission? This was an awfully quick turnaround to get you on board.”

After strapping in her parachute, Ortiz runs to the cockpit to find the pilots dead, bullet holes in their foreheads. She pauses for a second and responds to Jordy, “It’s leverage I got when negotiating my retirement. I needed to guarantee Alex’s safety if anything like this went down. So I bet on myself to be the right person to save him.”

Ortiz puts one and two together noticing that if the pilots were shot down, someone had to have shot them. Her reflexes kick in as she hears a gun cock behind her. Before the henchman could pull the trigger, Maajida slipped right out of her parachutes, drops to the ground and whips out her Beretta and drills two bullets to his head. Maajida lets out a sigh in relief to herself, “These fools want to play for keeps. Alrighty then…”

She puts the parachute back on and jumps off the plane. As the plane crash-lands onto the cornfield, Special Agent Ortiz remembers her training as she takes a second to breathe while she free falls in the golden sky above Colombia. She closes her eyes and all she can see is the smile on Alex’s face when she kissed him goodbye this morning. Now, a mere 12 or so hours later, she is jumping out of a burning plane in South America just to get back to him. She opens her eyes and they are filled with a piercing rage.

I’m going to kill whoever took you, Alex, I promise. she thought to herself.

As she shakes off her rage, an eerie calm came over her as the ground came closer and closer to end her free fall. She flips up and guides her chute to a thick patch of maize to land in.

Once on the ground, Ortiz gets a check in from Jordan, “Alright, Maaj. You seem to be close to AR1, I’d say less than 5 miles. Also, I have an Agent Laura Gadot meeting you at the Bogota outskirts. I’ve sent her pin to you. She was on assignment chasing leads on some major drug exports. She is the only one in the area, so she volunteered to help. Rendezvous with her, I want both of you to enter the hot spot. From what satellite images show I see at least 20 or so bodies and a tank. ”

“Jordy I’m looking at her file and she’s 21? I don’t have time working with a loose cannon rookie. I am professional and efficient. If she gets in my way it could be dangerous,” she responds to him as she flips through digital files on her watch.

“Oh don’t worry, she is anything but a burden, you did hear I said tank, right?” he responds, “She is taking the Captain exam when she wraps up her recon mission. She could have been gunning for your title as Captain if you ever took the damn exam.”

“I don’t give a damn about a tank, I’ve handled worse. Remember Yemen?” asked Ortiz.

On the other end of the line, Jordan chuckles and responds, in an almost cynical tone, “How could I forget? We fucked some shit up in Yemen.”

Maajida rolls her eyes and begins her run to reach the Bogota city outskirts. As dawn was slowly approaching, Maajida concludes she has about another hour’s worth of marching to reach any type of civilization. She focuses on relaxing and breathing to make sure she doesn’t tire out before reaching city outskirts.

As the night settles deeply, now 0200 hours the next day, Ortiz’s mind begins to wander as she presses on forward. Eventually, a strong gust descended upon her. It was a Black Hawk helicopter and a slender silver-haired European woman wearing a similar tech suit to Maajida’s extends her reach out. Maajida looks the agent up and down runs ahead and jumps on.

“Nice to meet you too, Special Agent Ortiz. Jordy did say you were a character.” responded the woman in a slight Slavic accent.

Maajida turns around slowly with a nasty distaste in her face and responds, “Oh he lets you call him Jordy too? Nice to meet you…Gadot right?”

***

Laura Gadot was essentially Ortiz’s successor. Four and a half years ago she started her job in the agency. All she ever heard was Ortiz was a legend, Ortiz would’ve been a great leader, Ortiz this, Ortiz that. Gadot made it her goal to surpass the expectations that Ortiz herself never set. Now at 21, she is on her way to becoming the youngest captain their agency has ever seen. Gadot entered the black ops ranks because all her life she excelled at everything, academics, athletics, you name it. Her parents showered her with love and throughout all of this – she was bored. Everything came easy for her. It is as if she was pre-dispositioned to coast through life, but she decided that wasn’t for her. Her family, originally from Belgium, moved to the states when Laura was seven on account of her father’s business forcing him to flee Europe.

Pierre Gadot was able to give his daughter whatever she wanted because money was never an issue. He managed to make his fortune as an arms dealer. He did not discriminate when it came to his clients, which is what eventually lead him to get in trouble with Interpol – prompting the family’s sudden move to the United States. All Laura knew growing up was that her father did international business with many different kinds of people, and that’s it.

When Laura decided to take a gap year in D.C. to pursue an internship to finally challenge herself, her world was turned upside down. She managed to land a spot in the CIA division to shadow an analyst. One night, while staying late to work on a presentation, she went missing to find some data she needed. Her overseer was gone for the night, so she helped herself to her desktop. While sifting through the computer, she ran into an interesting file titled “WPSubjects-East Coast.” To her dismay, she found an array of suspects now under Witness Protection. After scrolling, she found a file on none other than Pierre Gadot – International Arms Dealer. There, she found a report from a Special Agent Maajida Ortiz.

Mr. Gadot made contact with both the Medina and Kingston family heads. He managed to plant the bugs as instructed. I was able to apprehend both bosses with the help of Mr. Gadot. In exchange, I recommend we accept his terms to place him in the Witness Protection Program under the United States government. The main reason being his young daughter, who isn’t to blame for her father’s past mistakes. When I followed the money trail to Belgium, I found him quickly. His family was awfully good at displaying their wealth. When I drew my weapon on him in his garden, he immediately agreed to help so he could protect his family. We can use Mr. Gadot to apprehend more targets with little to no violence or casualties.

Special Agent Ortiz.

Gadot was speechless and decided it was best to not bring this up to her family right now. Her curiosity was piqued by this Agent Ortiz, who seemed to give her a family a new lease on life. As she dug deeper she found her mission reports and statistics.

“This is it,” she whispered to herself.

Gadot almost lost her internship approaching her boss about the files she found. Impressed by her spunk, the CIA agent referred her to Special Agent Jordan Graham, Jr. of the Black Ops division. There she attained perfect scores on the admission exams and worked her way up to becoming the youngest Captain candidate – since Special Agent Ortiz. Gadot grew to love her work, as it challenged her every day. Her biggest challenge? Trying to outdo the reason she discovered this line of work – Maajida Ortiz. She felt awe and resentment toward a woman she never met. Her dispatch agent always talked about what Ortiz did. Other agents always told her she reminded them of Ortiz. In essence, by the time she ended up actually meeting Maajida she did not know if she wanted to punch her in the face for setting such high standards or giving her a hug for saving her father’s life.

***

As Gadot slips back to present time, the helicopter lands on an airstrip. Ortiz is drawing doodles on blueprints and Gadot grasps to reality. “So, are you going to debrief me?”

Maajida ignores her and keeps on with her schematics. Gadot stands up and adjusts herself, then walks over to Ortiz and snatches the schematics out of her hands. “Look, miss, I know you are a legend back at base, but that does not give you the right to be a bitch. I left my mission to come to help you because Jordy said I was the only one this side of the damn equator. Now tell me, why are we a few miles out from a drug kingpin mansion the night before Valentine’s Day?”

Maajida smiles, snatches the schematics back, and laughs. “Look, kid, I read your file. You ASKED to be part of this hell that you are in. Which led me to believe that you were a badass but no – you were prom queen and had everything given to you. Jordy was wrong. I told him you’d be in the way. So no, I am not going to tell you why we are here. We have a job, let’s do it. I’m not here to stay, I’m going back above after this. So do not get comfortable.”

Gadot scoffs and begins to pack her stuff. “I don’t need this. I’m out. To think, I almost looked up to you. Good luck with the cartel.” Gadot grabs her pack and loads up with weapons as she heads out. Maajida goes back to her schematics. As Gadot hops out of the helicopter she looks back and sees Maajida throw her pencil and sits there. Gadot hesitates but keeps on her way back to her world. Gadot whispers to herself,

“She wouldn’t even let me say thank you. What a bitch.”

Back at the helicopter Maajida sniffles and wipes her tears. “I went too hard, but at this rate, this might be suicide.” Maajida pulls out her flask, takes a swig of the tequila and immediately spits it out.

“Damn it. Can’t even enjoy a drink.”

***

Teenage Maajida walked back to her car after leaving the last class of her senior year. Her hair was in a tangled mess, but back then but she did not care. She was able to keep her promise to not get in a fight that year and get into college. That means her mother was going to give her some of the money she has saved up for college to go on a road trip with her friends for graduation. For the first three years of high school, Maajida was a star basketball player but was cut from the team after putting one of the rival school girls into a coma for calling her a dirty spic girl last year. To make sure she still made her mom proud, she went from C+ average student to straight A’s for all of her senior year. She got most her school paid for and was off to college next year. As she arrives at her and her mother’s apartment, she was met with despair and murder.

Her apartment was ransacked and burned, her mother did not make it out. Now instead of cherishing her last moments of the summer with her mama, she spent it doing drugs and going back to her angry self. Eventually, she found herself in a jail cell with no one to call with her one phone call. After a public defender is able to work a deal for Maajida, she is forced to stay grounded in the DC area to complete community service. For the next six months, her days consisted of early morning workouts including pickup basketball, community service during the day, and finding different ways to make money to keep gas in her car to sleep with the heat on at night. To earn extra cash Maajida stumbled upon a street fighting syndicate when she was thrown out of a bar for being underage. She knocked out the bouncer who was twice her size and he fell flat to the floor. There she was recruited by criminal blacklister princess, Boss Yuri.

Boss Yuri ran several illegal operations out of the east coast and obnoxiously ran the most profitable ones out of the nation’s capital. Yuri Yukizawa, a mere 20 years of age, ran the United States East Prong of the Yukizawa Syndicate, where her father stood as Family Head. Yurameshi Yukizawa was a military genius respected by the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF). That is until he was forced to either resign or lead a task force to take down the Yukizawa Branch of the Yakuza in Tokyo. Not being able to put his country before his family,  General Yukizawa defected to the United States where his family moved the family business HQs to Los Angeles and D.C.

Volunteer by day, prizefighter by night, Maajida was able to make a lot of money for Boss Yuri as she was always the underdog when it came to bets. One night, Maajida had to fight a girl similar to her age who was frightened.

“Hey, you don’t have to do this. You look scared, girl. Let’s give them the show and let me win.”

The girl went from being scared to looking offended. “No. If I don’t win they are going to kill my family.”

Maajida was taken back. She found that the deep part of her heart that held her feelings was now suddenly awakened. She thought to herself,

I can throw this fight Boss Yuri won’t mind.

Maajida looked around the venue to find her Boss in the crowd, dressed in an elegant all-white suit, with bright and colorful hair. Despite the fun attire, Boss Yuri always had a piercing glare when it came to watching Maajida fight. This was because she was able to double, sometimes triple, her worth when the odds were against Maajida. The two in the ring begin to scrap.

Maajida clearly overpowered the young girl, while Boss Yuri yelled:

“Finish her!”

Suddenly Maajida hears a beep and a cloud of smoke erupts from a smoke bomb. In an instant, a group of armed soldiers in all-black attire swarm in and clear the area. As the smoke cleared, disoriented Maajida kept her calm and began to assess a way out. She knew Boss Yuri was bound to go down with as much as she was involved in. Maajida had been a prized member of Yuri’s gang, being able to sneak into rival gang compounds, an amazing fighter, and incredibly insightful when it came to planning operations for Boss Yuri. Eventually, as Boss Yuri got more and more thirsty for power, the United States Government had no option but to intervene.

Maajida began crawling under the smoke to escape until she gets scooped up by a large man and he tells her,

“Hey, everything is going to be alright. My name is Agent Jordan Graham, I work for the CIA and you were working for a very dangerous woman. We came to save you and all the girls.”

***

Maajida comes to, and it’s pitch black. Nightfall is in full force now and she is ready to start her operation. To prepare, she surveys the compound from the highest hill she can find. The group controlling the compound was unknown to Maajida so it was strange to her that they would try to take her husband. As she begins her assault she trips over a branch and is pulled up by a rope trap. She starts to panic but begins to cut herself down.

“You ruined my trap. Now you’re in my way.” snaps Gadot to Ortiz as she emerges from the shadows as Ortiz flips down.

In a rage, Ortiz charges head first for Gadot. The two are heated. To Ortiz’s surprise Gadot is able to match blow for blow. Gadot was excited, excited to finally overcome her shadow, to finally be good at something that was not easy for her. She worked hard to become a killer, and now she can prove it to someone who wouldn’t acknowledge her. Ortiz knows she is wasting time trading blows with this woman. She needs to be hurrying to save her husband, not exchanging blows with a stranger. The two show off their impressionable martial arts as each blow is dodged or blocked.

Gadot is able to land a few hits on an exhausted Maajida and tries to reason with her. “Look you are going to throw your life away going in there alone Ortiz. Your legend will mean nothing.”

“Legend?” Maajida is able to dodge the last barrage of kicks and is able to knock Gadot off her feet.

“You were my hero. You saved my family’s life.” Gadot flips up and begins her assault on Maajida, her excitement started to become heavy waves of sadness and anger.

“How? I don’t even know you.” yells back Maajida.

Gadot decided it was time. Or they would end up killing each other.

“Pierre Gadot. You let him live, you let my daddy come home to me.”

Maajida hesitates as she draws back her fist and Gadot lands a kick to her head. Gadot looks down at Ortiz as she gets knocked to the ground, “Don’t throw your life away before it gets started.” Maajida flips up and grabs Gadot by the shirt and pushes her against a tree.

“The hell do you know? This has nothing to do with you. Why are you even here? How do you know about Mr. Pierre!?” Maajida asks Gadot, tearing up.

Gadot manages to overpower a weakened Ortiz and knocks her over.

“I was 17 years old when I stumbled upon your file. I idolized you because of this image I fabricated. Someone who was professional, talented, strong, and had a big heart. The woman I see now is tired and bitter. Your shadow was always in my way. I left my perfect life for a challenge. So I can know what it is like to be challenged. To feel pain. But no – nothing I ever did was as good as Ortiz.”

They let go of each other. Both out of breath, they look each other up and down debating the next move.

Maajida reaches a sense of calm, takes a deep breath and says, “I’m sorry. I was judging you. You’ve got good instinct, kid. Mr. Pierre was so kind to me. I was just a kid back then and he saw that. He knew that I was just doing a job and that I was scared. The compassion he showed to me and your family was something I hadn’t felt in a really long time. Even if he was an international arms dealer”

“My dad is going to go crazy when I tell him I got to work with you. I just really wanted to say thank you for giving my family a chance,” sniffles Gadot.

“You’re welcome, Little Laura.”

“Hey, do not get comfortable. Now, I want to help you. Why are you plotting a suicide mission for one hostage? Is it worth it?” asks Gadot.

“Yeah, he’s my husband,” says Ortiz.

Gadot’s eyes open up wider than a blooming flower. “Damn, that’s…terrible. Okay, let’s do this.”

The two begin their assault together now. The compound was composed of a few buildings surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Gadot sneaks ahead as Ortiz stays back and picks off the guards on the towers via a sniper rifle.

“You have good aim, still a little rusty though. That last bullet almost missed our friend here” said Gadot as she steps over a corpse that fell right in front of her as she was about to sneak up to him.

“But did I miss though?” responded Ortiz.  

As they sneak in and knock guys out by surprise one by one they come to the window where the AR1 tracker responds the loudest. Maajida signals Gadot who begins to make her way inside from the adjacent window. Maajida peeks into the window and the scene she finds is one she is all too familiar with.

Alex is tied to a chair. He is covered in bruises and his clothes are tattered. His torturer holds a machete over his throat. In Maajida’s ear, she gets an “In position” from Gadot. As Maajida prepares to hop in and save her husband she gets blindsided with a freezing cold sweat. She has stage fright. What will Alex think? She has killed so many times before and did not care for the consequence. This time, the life she has so tirelessly built will be over once her husband sees that she is, in fact, a murderer. She takes a deep breath and it is interrupted with loud noises, without looking up she thinks to herself

How could Gadot go in early?

Maybe it’s good, maybe she can save Alex without killing someone.

As her nerves are now calm she looks up and Alex is standing over his torturer and lets off two bullets into his brain. Alex turns around and his eyes meet a shocked Maajida.

He lets out a sigh and says,

“Hey, babe.”

 

 

 

to be continued. 

The Talent.

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