Moneypenny appears, concern obvious, and M is up without a word. Ronni doesn’t want to let go of either box or letter, slipping both and her hand into jacket pocket before following back to the lab, where Q is in a state of considerable dudgeon.
‘Bond’s security systems have been compromised: everything from front door to fridge. I’m also not getting any telemetry from the DB6, it has an always on system -‘
‘Do we know where he is?’
‘No, Sir, and that is a genuine concern, because the CCTV I can access showed his car leaving the secured parking area next to his flat five minutes ago.’
Moneypenny moves to a second terminal without prompting, augmenting the video that Q is replaying as the younger man begins the process of trying to track Bond’s movements. Grainy footage shows it is most definitely not 007 in the driver’s seat however, and that Madeline is at the wheel, a fact that suggests that maybe there’s a reason for the deactivation. Ronni’s already thinking aloud, as Charlie goes to watch the two agents at the screens.
‘Maybe it wasn’t Bond who disabled the systems. It could well have been Maddy.’
‘That’s a distinct possibility as we’ve had reports of a break in at the Aston Martin dealership at Marble Arch.’
Tanner’s almost running into the by now fairly crowded briefing area, overcoat still on; coming to stand at Moneypenny’s shoulder, pulling up footage from social media as the woman works. He shouldn’t be here: married with two girls, he’s not subject to the same rules and restrictions as anyone else in the room, and yet he’s clearly keen to be included as part of the team. There’s a third set of pictures to view: Christian Swann can be seen, blood on his dress shirt, attaching a large, circular device to the large window of the car showroom. Seconds later it shatters the glass in one massive action, before he approaches a vehicle out of shot of the shaky amateur footage.
‘Fairly audacious, even though it’s 4am, but the other DB10 prototype’s been stolen and the Met are attempting to track it now. That footage is pretty damning: at least we now know where Spectre’s heir apparent went after Kensington. I think it’s a decent bet Madeline may be on her way to meet him.’
‘No, he’s going to meet her. If you’ve kept me out of the loop for this long? My research was right, you knew it well before I told you and had planted someone willing on the inside to exploit this.’
All eyes are on 004: Ronni finally has the confidence to take theory that’s been weeks in the making and present it as truth. M’s suggestion: Bond could now be bait for her, when that was the plan all along. Her own sixth sense, jangling uncontrollably since the first time she opened and read Madeline’s file. The business cards and theatrical overtones… this was a dance, possibly even a contest. Siblings loved to compete, after all, Spectre made rivalry part of career progression. Considering the mark left on Christian’s finger, his ring had been worn for several years. If, for the sake of argument, Madeline was indeed an intentional plant, sleeper placed by Blofeld himself to entrap Bond? Knowing that MI6 had finally seen the deception would call for drastic and damning action…
She’d never trusted Madeline from the word go. Trying not to consider it jealousy, she’d buried the feelings, but the conclusions she’d recovered simply refused to go away. There’d been a lot of time whilst undercover in Ankara to think, and with one of her particular skills in research? She had to dig, and unsurprisingly those conclusions weren’t news to anybody else in the room.
‘I suggested privately that Ms Swann could have been compromised in the two year period she vanished before working for Médecins Sans Frontières. She was in Uganda at the same time both her father and Le Chiffre were known to be working there, and again in Bolivia at the same time both Green and Beam operated. It doesn’t take a genius to put the pieces together. I didn’t want to suggest it publicly because I know what it would have looked like, that it could be construed by some that I resented 007 being happy. I think this is the coda Blofeld had decided to put in place so that if Bond survived and he died, there’d still be the opportunity to exact revenge from beyond the grave.’
Tanner’s nod confirms the suspicion: her research is the truth. Turning to Felix, she smiles with the understanding that if he was here and had said nothing, keeping quiet through all of this would have been for a reason, to allow her to get to this point alone.
‘Mr Leiter, can I assume therefore that your presence here means you’re hoping that either of the Swanns might yet give you a lead on Gregory Beam’s whereabouts?’
‘This is what I like so much about you Flemmings, cut the bullshit and straight to the chase. Yeah, we were hoping that Madeline might shed light on his location, but so far no dice. Right now, using a plant is our next best option.’
‘So, if this is a conscious break for the border now Christian intentionally or otherwise blew his own cover? You’d like to keep the bait on the hook?’
The implication makes Moneypenny bristle, but that’s not unexpected. Bond could have walked out of his flat with her this evening, but he chose to remain. In fact, Ronni will bet her Civil Service pension he’s already promised Felix to get as close to Beam as he possibly can, and that now that agreement has her included as additional backup.
‘James and I go back a long way. Still my favourite poker player, best guy I know at playing dead when it suits. He knows what’s at risk here. If he’s cool, he’ll stay in the game.’
The room is expectant: there’s a flashpoint coming, and were Bond here he’d already be planning the next move. Ronni’s instinct has already kicked in: you’re the senior 00, take the initiative. Moneypenny’s the best handler you’ll find, but she might resent being picked over La Croix unless you can provide a solid reason to take the Canadian, and that’s easy. Just present the plan, and see what happens.
‘Permission to take 009 as his face won’t be known to either target to intercept the flock, Sir? We need to ensure Bond is still in the game.’
‘Granted. You’ll need a handler -‘
‘I’ve got you both, already tracking the DB10 into East London. Charlie’s going to need a weapon.’
Moneypenny’s in her element, instantly co-ordinating with Tanner as he loses both overcoat and jacket. LaCroix is quickly following a focussed Q out of the office for a sidearm and suddenly this stopped being discussion and supposition. 004 is the senior agent, and in charge. Stakes are very personal indeed and Ronni’s standing, trying to work whether she’s pleased that suddenly the rules are hers to dictate. Spectre’s modus operandi had been built on the tenets of revenge and division: playing sides against the other, using weaknesses as strengths to exploit. To them, it wouldn’t matter she was a woman, simply a piece in the larger game. Except now, the pawn was a queen, finally placed in a position of potential power, backed up by considerable firepower and solid defence.
Whatever she’d find when they located Bond, Ronni was ready.