Flemmings appears from the back of the room and Felix has to try very hard not to stare, because he’s pretty confident she just walked off a Milan catwalk. Hair is piled high, to the side of a perfectly made up face, skin tight green mini dress leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. She’s packing a better set of abs than Bond possesses or Felix could dream of and this is a woman you most definitely will not be messing with at any time, ever.
‘Should I ask where you keep your gun?’
‘That’s what I have you for: fortunately I didn’t need to guess at your suit size, so you’re going to look fantastic in your Armani tuxedo. Bond’s managed to do a supremely good job of dividing and conquering our siblings, to the point where Maddy’s getting ready to leave the house using 007 as leverage against her own brother. There’s an internal power struggle coming to a very useful head and it’s the perfect distraction for the night’s work.’
‘I sense I’m not nearly enough in the loop, you wanna fix that?’
He’s expecting a formal briefing but instead Q gets up from his laptop and walks to the back of the room, vanishing to the area where Ronni had appeared from, as the woman grabs a chair and places herself at his side. This girl smells as good as she looks and Leiter can’t help but be jealous that 007 got to her first.
‘Bond’s on the top floor of the building, hooked up to an IV full of medical alcohol. He knew exactly what he was doing when strolling in the front door at lunchtime, and had the good sense to let me in on reasoning beforehand. As a result, we can plan accordingly. Everything hinges on Spectre assuming I’ll arrive to rescue him, all guns blazing, and that’s what is now being provisioned for. As it stands, the place is defended like a fortress.’
‘And yet you’re going in unarmed?’
‘Because I failed to show in east London, and now singularly refused to be blown up in Monaco, tradition demands we must have this final showdown in Venice. Bond knew Spectre would postulate this, that the rules of war have been dictated by him over the years with this organisation, and so he removed himself from the frame. He’s conveniently acting as a metaphor.’
‘The outdated world that designation represents, that dismisses diversity and continues to dictate terms from somewhere in the 1950’s. With Bond removed from the board, refusing to play provocateur, he becomes nothing more than an object.’
‘In essence, Felix, you should consider him the damsel in distress.’
Q reappears, dressed in black fatigues that give the man a completely different look: he is dangerous, unsettlingly powerful. No longer stands the awkward, misplaced young man that Felix remembers from their first meeting after Skyfall. He has evolved into something far more coercive and compelling, suddenly someone to fear.
‘He becomes an ancient trope from a version of history neither relevant or accurate. Every speech, each carefully-worded exchange is just that: obsolete exposition, sauce for the goose, knowing we are already here and eavesdropping. How will we second guess their grand plan? How do we know what our enemy expects?’
‘So how do you play this?’
‘We counter the theatrical with what 007 does so well, the very antithesis of planning. It is the ultimate irony that what I have for so long wished Bond would do has become the very problem we need to address. Because it is through predicting behaviour that Spectre are able to assume they know how we will respond as counter. Metrics, precision, care and effort, all these things become weapons in a war of move and counter move.’
‘You didn’t answer the question. What’s the plan?’
‘Felix, both 004 and myself are conscious of your love of motion pictures. You are, I hope, aware of the central conceit in ‘Wargames?’
‘Espionage, like thermonuclear war, is a strange game.’
‘The only winning move is not to play?’
‘Indeed, and this is what we do, Mr Leiter, stop listening to Spectre’s tune once and for all, and change the entire course of this absurd narrative for good. Shall we begin?’
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.