DEFAULT :: Part Fourteen

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On the ground Ronni waits, poised, listening to discussion taking place mere feet behind her. Only a corrugated metal garage door separates body from the Swanns, temptation to wander in gun blazing beyond compelling. However, Bond is on the ground, and she won’t risk compromising any hostage, for that’s what he now is. 007’s strong enough to survive considerable torture, Ronni all too aware of his level of fitness, but if he’s been drugged or mentally compromised, Felix’s plan could be in jeopardy. She’s wedged less than a foot from the front end of the means by which the stolen DB10 will be removed from site: impressive custom-built horse transport, with a compartment at the rear to protect the super-car. If this goes to type, they’ll load Bond inside too and vanish surreptitiously into the sunrise. Before that happens, 004 has to know he’s still capable of self-preservation.

What concerns more is the conversation she’s become eavesdropper to, no choice but to overhear. This is far more personal than expected, apparent that Madeline’s love for Bond was genuine, at least for a time. What’s less obvious is whose benefit this part of the show’s being performed for.

‘I know you cared, for a while. I still don’t understand why you can’t tell me the truth.’

Ronni really doesn’t need this but there is no choice: Bond might already suspect they’re here, but with the tracking on his car intentionally disabled it is just as likely he went blind to keep them away. The reply takes time, because 007’s been incapacitated in a manner he’s become used to from the women he sleeps with. Spectre clearly got the memo about hitting where it hurts.

‘Things changed. This isn’t the same relationship any more.’

‘You are the man who cannot commit to any future, and yet this is my fault?’

‘I freely offered my life, away from the number, and it wasn’t enough.’

‘That’s not the truth either. I watched her kiss you, how you stared longingly when she left. The moment you knew what I really was, it wasn’t about love any more, but loyalty. Not to me or her, but to the job and country. You could never knowingly betray England, James. It is too much of what you are.’

‘I’m not a company man any more. I gave that up, would have married you if you’d admitted the truth about who you really worked for. The moment you lied, it was over.’

There is a slap, and Ronni closes her eyes. Bond’s restrained, wouldn’t attack her anyway. He’ll allow the hand to his face as punishment, fair penance for what Maddy’s been put through. This woman’s supposed to be a psychologist, specialist in trauma and rehabilitation, yet seems totally incapable of seeing the fault in her own life. Ronni wonders how much of that story is a lie as was the case with her half brother.

‘If you really cared, James, what I did wouldn’t matter.’

‘If I was anyone else, perhaps, but this is all a lie to exact revenge. So are you.’

This time a punch lands, hard and crunching; bone plus flesh sickeningly rended before the thud of body impacting concrete. Expecting more Ronni waits, taking the anger inside, allowing disgust at this pair to evaporate into the rapidly lightening morning.

‘There is no point in discussion, he will not tell you what you want, any more than his friends will allow him to escape unhindered. We have company on the roof. It’s time to leave.’

Ronni imagines 007 lying lifelessly on the ground, blood streaming from mouth and nose, understanding the brutal truth behind why the wedding would have been cancelled. He had been used, in the most damning manner possible, by a woman who is walking from him towards the open warehouse door…

A single shot rings out from the roof; Charlie’s attempting to cause a diversion, enough so she could move in to pull 007 out if she chose. Shifting position to the opened door next to the roll-up shutter Bond’s in view, awake and staring straight at her before mouthing a single word: ‘NO.’ Felix was right, he is playing dead, well aware what’s at stake if they’re ever going to destroy Spectre’s presence. With the woman he used to care about exposed as a fraud? He just went back to the job. That never hurt him, or lied, or tried to push into something unsavoury. Everything was on the man’s terms, in Bond’s hands, and 004 couldn’t in good conscience second guess that, though every cell of her body screams to mount a rescue.

She mouths ‘OK’ in response before making a break to the back of the warehouse where the DB10 waits to be loaded, before slipping a tracker under the car’s rear wheel arch and ducking away, melting into darkness on the other side of the unit. A young dark haired accomplice arrives to complete the loading process, dressed in surprisingly conservative black trousers and white blouse. This is new: none of the Spectre personnel who’d been captured at Bloefeld’s demise were female, yet this one wore not one but twin Berettas. Maybe diversity wasn’t simply an MI6 objective.

Ronni’s wrist vibrates as a message illuminates in darkness: ‘Bond or DB6?’ For a moment she wants to scrub the mission, forget the bigger picture. Instead the letters C A R are drawn on the face of her watch with a shaking hand, expecting Charlie to object, until it occurs this just confirmed Felix’s call. As the senior 00, that’s what she did, allowing these people to escape thinking they’d at least partly achieved their objective. If the position on the ground is revealed they’d know to sweep the transport for transmitters: remaining hidden at least gives an upper hand in the short term. The gunfire continues and finally there is a shout, followed seconds later by a delicate jangling of metal on concrete. That’s a grenade pin. Quick and dirty, enough to throw a wrench in her partner’s attack plan if he doesn’t know its inbound.

Ronni’s palm hits the watch face with enough force to ensure Charlie’s wrist will shudder, loss of audio plus vibration sufficient notice that he needs to move and fast. Hands over ears, the explosion is still deafening and shakes the entire unit, dust falling into hair and eyes. Several seconds later the watch confirms her message was received: ‘Still alive, Calvary inc.’ The explosion blows the Swanns’ cover open and the Met will be rolling the anti-Terror bandwagon out with all due diligence. They’re out of time, as the garage door begins to automatically ascend and personnel files in.

The DB10 is loaded, custom-built container for the purpose, and for the first time Ronni catches a glimpse of Maddy and Christian together. She’s made a great mess of his face, 004 notes with some satisfaction, point that is likely to be recalled when they next meet. His hand rests not protectively on shoulder or waist, but disconcertingly on his sisters’ arse, making alarm bells ring. Perhaps there’s more at play here than was immediately apparent. Bond remains ‘unconscious’, dragged to the back of the transport before being secured inside by handcuffs that won’t keep him restrained for long.

There is a silent prayer that he’ll remain capable at least long enough to keep his back covered, so this isn’t over before it begins. As the back of the vehicle closes automatically, blue eyes open, meeting her concerned gaze with confidence that unexpectedly galvanises. How did Bond know where to look? Because you’re where he’d be standing for the best view. 007 might be physically broken, but mentally he’s stronger than ever, lessons taught well. It worries Ronni sometimes how much alike they think, that they could almost be each other in both outlook and problem solving.

Once loaded, the trailer swings out of the yard and away into the morning. Only when it’s quiet does Ronni emerge, to see the DB6 intact, shining in the early East London sun. There’s a smoking hole where the second warehouse used to, as Charlie athletically drops off the adjoining building before walking over to stand, staring at the pool of blood that is all 007 has left in his wake.

‘You get the transmitter fixed?’

‘Yes, I’ll let Q decide when he activates it. They’ll make a stop and shift the car to something else now they know their cover’s blown. At least this means I might get some sleep before we intercept.’

‘Bond’s really up for this?’

‘I know he is. He was married to this job long before Maddy came along, it’s always given him something better to do when the world failed him. It’s the only constant he feels comfortable grasping.’

‘And you?’

We need to rescue him so he can finally retire and then everybody gets to do their jobs without his legacy constantly acting as distraction.’

Ronni intentionally pluralises the sentence, because Charlie has to be in on this, plus Moneypenny too and indeed everybody else to drag the Service into the 21st century, once and for all. Like it or not, Bond’s legacy is a liability: expensive, narrow minded and outdated celebration of a time that no longer exists and a way of life nobody really wants to remember.

Using him as bait could yet be the best outcome for everyone concerned.


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OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER:

Everything related to James Bond (007) belongs to Eon Productions and Danjaq LLC, except the bits in here that are mine and I made up. I get how this works.

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