DEFAULT :: Part Twenty-Eight

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Bond’s consciousness is fighting the battle with induced drunkenness and winning. He’s aware of what Christian had done, that it could have been so much worse had the man decided to get sexual, but he was long gone and his fiancée’s death would soon be sending shock waves through Spectre’s hierarchy. If a hangover and two lungs full of dirty water was all the indignity he suffered, that would be a small price against what 004 had now managed to achieve. He still can’t believe they’d pulled off his rescue, had partly reconciled that this could have been his final mission. The last thing remembered is her swimming downwards, ethereally beautiful, redeeming water sprite reaching to pull him from oblivion. Ronni had, in a small way, closed the cycle of regret he’d carried with him since he’d failed to save another’s life in the same place.

His wrist is vibrating, a moment to work out why. When she rescued him and kissed a grateful forehead, there was the foresight to leave comms. Q’s prototype smart watch is really rather brilliant, and now it is trying to talk to him. Felix is staring out of the evac chopper window, nurses intent on other tasks while they wait for permission to take off, so Bond can steal a glimpse at the device. Even inebriated, he registers the code word on the face and understands that she’s now alone, in charge of the most important person the Service possesses. Whether he likes it or not, they need more people like Q in active ranks, those that understand the future of encryption and hacking. Brute force and destruction have had their day. Somewhere, the truth is between both points, wrapped in a female form that now makes him begin to shake with its thought. Ronni has the most important package the Service has ever collected, and needs to protect it at any cost.

She is about to sacrifice two lives to keep MI6 in the game.

Felix is staring, trying to hold him down as he struggles to get up, because there is still time to find Veronica and protect before it is too late. The nurses are restraining too, almost strong enough to escape them all until the sedative is in his system, then there’s nothing to do but sleep.


‘Ground zero confirms package is delivered, we have green on all missions.’

MI6’s Ops Centre is at full stretch, multiple operations simultaneously in full swing. These people are the next generation, mission specialists in the field making a palpable difference in new and interesting ways. Having a 75 year old ex 00 paired with a man forty years her junior seemed fairly audacious on paper, but the combination of Grace with Acquisitions wunderkind Anton Wiltshire was only one of many revelations that had emerged. Moneypenny, LaCroix and all the others are in theatre, across two continents, and about to deliver a body blow to Spectre as revenge for damage done to their organisation. Tanner’s grateful for Q’s insights into everyone, that metrics and assessments have transformed the space he lives and works in over such a short space of time.

Left wrist unexpectedly vibrates: this means no good, especially at such a crucial juncture.

The man’s been practising the art of glancing casually for the time, when instead he can take in the messages Q is sending: when he sees the word it takes a second to make a connection. The code isn’t from the Quartermaster either but 004, particular use sending a chill through his soul.

VESPER.

She picked it as, in her words, this perfectly encapsulated the set of circumstances that would have to transpire to make her use it to begin with. Compromised and without alternative, Ronni needed to die. With the exception of 007, going dark wasn’t something any agent should need to do to begin with, but if Bond was unable to assist their escape? Q had even broached the possibility before leaving for Venice: with Beam’s information secured, travelling with it would be fraught with danger, especially with the bounty now placed on both their heads. It was probably best for everybody if they go to ground and are thought to have been lost. If Ronni knew they’d not get out of Venice without a fight, this would be the default response. Q would never consciously place himself in danger unless he was completely aware of what was at stake, and to agree to this meant the stakes were even higher than anticipated.

Tanner watches the room around him vanish to background noise, taking in the consequences one word set in motion. Everyone here would need to believe the fiction, without exception, or else the chances of decrypting Beam’s data would be lost. Despite the continued issues with extraction, Bond would not be safe at Como and would need to be treated there and then flown back to the UK immediately. Other 00 operatives would need to be directly and comprehensively briefed… but the bigger issue remains how 004 and Q would remove themselves from theatre. If Ronni plays to type, there would be at least nod to Bond in execution…

Fire suddenly consumes the video feed from Venice: Q’s ‘electrified’ area outside Spectre’s HQ is burning, blue flames from broken beer barrels causing fresh panic amongst the emergency services attempting to approach the building. As people run from this new threat, the waterside base of operations for Spectre unexpectedly erupts in a sudden and all-consuming fireball. Tanner stares with horror, knowing now what he has to do. The junior handlers already grasp something is terribly wrong, comms with Q having unexpectedly vanished with the explosion, and Rachel is desperately trying to re-establish connection. The Chief of Staff picks a spot to stare at outside the Ops Room, towards the ancient vending machine, remembering the time Ronni had consoled him there after the loss of her predecessor.

‘Tanner!’

Frasier is desperate, screaming with tears barely contained, bypassing protocols he no longer cares about, and Will briefly hates himself. Now he must deceive a woman who really doesn’t deserve the grief about to be inflicted on her, plus every other person in this room. What worries most is if Bond knows or not, if he is in on the fiction. This is the part of the job Tanner utterly detests, but is the most powerful weapon of all. Lying for your country has always come with consequences.

‘004 and Q have been compromised.’

M appears, standing opposite, staring ashen faced, as Will Tanner begins to cry on cue.


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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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