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From the air it’s impossible to see their landing site, and this is beginning to cause Bond some concern. The helicopter’s flight from Geneva had been without incident but now nerves were outweighing calm, despite having pretty much commanded the pilot’s chair. Their destination is the French Government’s brand new and extremely secret National Security HQ south of Paris, except he can’t see it, and there’s absolutely nothing on radar. Nobody else appears to know it’s here either, obscured from every commercial map, construction so shrouded in rumours that no-one is prepared to discuss anything in public.

Except it is here: GPS tells him that fact, Tanner’s already in place inside with Ops and Acquisitions in tow, one of their team having handed over his control from the base’s dedicated traffic tower. If Felix were here and not flying south for a pick-up task he’d be the natural person to ask, because 007 accepts Leiter just knows everything and he’s missing something obvious. Normally it would be effortless to bluff his way out of the situation… but not today. He’s not the only person for whom alarm bells are ringing.

‘According to the beacon, that forest over there is our recently constructed 125 billion Euro destination. Except I think we’re missing something. Like the entrance, perhaps?’

LaCroix is riding shotgun and stares from the Merlin’s passenger window, obviously perturbed. When Charlie is nervous he doesn’t shut up, but goes the other way, something Moneypenny mentioned during their brief stay in Thailand. Normally this would bother 007 but amazingly, he’s quite happy with the noise.

‘This is where we need Q to explain what’s shaking, ’cause I think we both missed a call. Eve, you know everything there is to know about everything, right?’

003 has been sitting quietly behind them, head in a laptop, and only now looks up with what James is pretty sure is deliberate innocence.

‘Actually, Charlie -‘

‘Don’t mansplain me, just accept the guys didn’t do the homework and we’re both willing to acknowledge you’re better prepared. Why can’t we see the base yet, because it is here, right?’

‘White Knight, this is White King, proceed to south west entrance and await permission to land, over.’

The welcome reassurance of Tanner’s voice proves they are where they should be, even if that’s confusing at best. Bond confirms the instruction before coming to hover at the edge of the forest, looking down at a sea of dense firs, trying to work out where exactly in the south east he’s supposed to even aim for. Without the contacts he’s wearing the whole of below would be a massive blur to begin with, secret that will only remain that way for so long. Eventually, James will have to admit age has poleaxed him, effectively rendering the senior agent unfit for active service. For now, he’s happy to pretend he’s in charge yet allow Eve control of exposition.

‘Under the forest there’s a camouflage system that uses a series of modules which look like cells in a honeycomb. They’re constructed to be warmed or cooled individually, allowing different heat signatures to be projected, disguising the structure beneath. From the air, it allows the facility to remain effectively invisible. There’s a gap at six o’clock that resembles a couple of fallen trees, head for that.’

Charlie’s hands are in the air, all expressive exasperation, and Bond has to suppress a smile before deciding to break the self-imposed silence.

‘Don’t you get fed up of always being right, Moneypenny?’

‘Not when I know I’m the only one reading briefing documents, 007.’

The woman’s back to the laptop as Bond recalls the papers on progressive structural camouflage had been seen, but he wasn’t paying attention at the time, mostly because Madeline had distracted from process. Fortunately for him, 003 always went the extra mile: on cue a hole has appeared, exactly as explained, where the forest stopped being natural and became anything but. Large metallic hexagonal segments are exposed, reminiscent of a beehive, right up until the moment where they begin to slide and separate, oddly satisfying in their movement across, down then away.

‘Okay that’s really cool.’

Charlie is staring, mouth open, as the world tessellates away beneath them, hole created big enough to fit the Merlin. Bond’s not often impressed by technology, but even he has to admit this is beyond anything current government has invested in anywhere else, and makes Nine Eyes look like the work of a particularly selfish and spoilt child. The French are a long way ahead of the curve, and now the enthusiasm to work with them from Paris and not oversee operations from London becomes more understandable.

As the helicopter enters this shielded space, Bond understands exactly why M has bought them here.

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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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