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were already prepared, Bond decides, sitting alone in the French Gendamerie chopper, waiting for the okay to take off. His pep talk had been largely unnecessary, when all was said and done, yet someone needed to assert authority on the situation. That was normally Q’s task, without either the need to make a scene or even draw attention to process, and he’d always assumed there was no place for 00 bravado in the equation. Yet somewhere between Skyfall and here, with M’s final establishment as the man absolutely in charge, everything had changed. Before, Bond might have been uncomfortable with the group mentality and collective responsibility that this shift had produced, but not now.

Never if Ronni was involved.

The French in his ear is acknowledged, EC 135 in the air without a thought: two Meganes weave below in blue and red, easy targets to shadow alone. Moneypenny and Charlie race to the motorway in a fashion that suggests neither are attempting to compete, rather this is an exercise in alertness, preparing for the arrival of Ronni and Q. Tanner’s handling everyone in a second language, confidence that Bond’s not heard from the Chief of Staff since the previous M passed away: he’d cried at her funeral and now this doesn’t seem as much of a weakness as it did before. In fact, if 007 is honest, emotional outbursts are entirely acceptable when placed in appropriate context.

Felix has been shadowing 004 and Q’s vehicle since Nice, confident promise he was more than capable of hiding in plain sight using a Tahiti Blue Lamborghini Countach, remaining hangover from his time with the CIA. Having him in position means contacts are already highlighted, Tanner swiftly marking five vehicles of interest on their way to intercept his mission. These Meganes are pretty useful for production model cars, the French being quite keen on internal augmentation whenever possible. Alex Dubois made that happen, and is riding shotgun with Leiter, position the senior Gendamarie Technical Director requested with some forcefulness. It is apparent that Bond is not the only person with more than a professional interest in the day’s outcome, and that’s a change for the better. Q commands a great deal of loyalty in both friends and lovers, it transpires, and it isn’t just the 00 Section that stands to be damaged should the Arctic White Megane not survive the journey.

The brief is clear: he’s observing, team on the ground very much in charge. Except Bond’s been doing this long enough to know that’s never how things work out, a fact he’s certain Ronni’s already grasped. As a 00 one never assumes that anyone is 100% capable of completing anything, therefore arriving prepared to cover every eventuality without a prompt. That’s why he borrowed a number of items from the French Government’s excessively stocked Armoury without a requisition form, that Dubois had supplied without even questioning motive. He knew what was at stake if Spectre got to their lovers before they could, and understood that after months in hiding, response times would be down and mistakes were possible. James would only act if circumstances demanded, and as a result left theatre very much in Ronni’s care.

As he comes to hover above their vehicle, already exceeding the speed limit, the first of their joint enemies is already attempting to run it from the road. However, as the black Range Rover comes close to ramming the rear of the vehicle, there is a flash of light, single shot into the engine creating a fireball which consumes, sending it careening off the road and into the hard shoulder before it comes to a stop. A second later the entire vehicle is a raging inferno, and 007’s grinning broadly. That’s Q’s vehicle disabler, probably fired by the man himself, included at Bond’s behest in their field equipment. It’s still only a prototype, with a single charge: there’ll need to be other ways to eliminate the remaining assailants. Adrenaline’s coursing through a body already thrilled at every possibility: he’s got a front row seat for the action, and as yet Ronni Flemmings has not disappointed. He saw her destroy Blofeld with the finesse and grandeur that the 00 Section demands, and expects this action sequence to be no different. However, she remains an agent nowhere near 100% fit and that if that’s the case, there may yet be the requirement for support.

He had her back, until the day they both died: owing her twice in that regard simply kept him keener than Bond would ever need.

Ronni’s unable to shake her pursuer, and it is becoming a problem.

She was expecting gunfire but instead this individual seems utterly determined to concentrate on making her drive into someone else on the motorway. It is almost as if his brief is to ensure there’s no civilian loss of life and only she and Andrew are casualties: the driver is insanely good and however fast and clever 004 remains, she cannot shake them. Attempts to hack the Range Rover’s electronics are also proving fruitless, Q swearing quietly under his breath as they weave through traffic.

‘We have a problem. French Police have closed the motorway, there are queues coming up. I think maybe our pursuer knows this and is just waiting for us to hit the traffic.’

Up ahead the overhead signs indeed proclaim a reduction in speed, and already vehicles are beginning to slow. Ronni pushes right, heading for what passes for hard shoulder on this section of road, knowing it could vanish without warning at any time. As the traffic begins to concertina to stationary she’s going far too fast, and her assailant is closing, a roadblock ahead leaving a gap she’ll be lucky to manage at this speed, and one the Range Rover certainly won’t complete. Her options are vanishing too fast and 004 knows she’s out of time, needing to either commit to the tarmac or take her chances off road. Brain stutters, sudden fear she’s called it wrong, everything slowing to a point of potential collision. Except suddenly, blissfully, the Police car on the inside lane moves away as a massive explosion destroys her pursuer behind without warning.

In the rear view mirror, backup appears on cue.

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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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