“In the army we broke shots down into three steps,” Alec explained, finger planted on the trigger and legs slightly apart, “One- front sight. Focus on the front sight, not on the target. Two, controlled trigger press. Three, follow through. After the shot, you come right back to the target.”
Alec pulled Mildred aside and stepped forward to give her a demonstration, “Front sight, trigger press, follow through. You do those three things you’ll hit your target every time.”
Alec reholstered and stepped back and Mildred came forward again, looking more anxious than before. She fired but winced at the same time.
Alec stepped forward again, pressing against her body and wrapping his arms around the younger girl’s torso. He held Mildred’s wrists leaning in to look over her shoulder.
“Steady,” Alec whispered into her ear, “Calm. Take a deep breath in and hold it.”
Mildred did so and Alec counted before telling her to release it. Mildred’s body tensed but her brows were frowned in deep concentration.
“One,” Alec whispered.
“Two,” Mildred gasped, and pulled the trigger.
“Three,” Alec finished.
Mildred pulled the trigger three more times.
Behind her someone whistled. Alec released his daughter’s arms and stepped back, a bright grin on his face and his eyes crinkled in pride.
Eve came up to the duo and gave Mildred an impressed smile. “Bull’s eye every single time. Pretty amazing, especially for your first time.”
The young witch gave her a wide smile.
“Of course she is. She’s my daughter after all.” Alec said, clearly gloating and happiness and pride pouring out of his every pore.
Behind Eve James chuckled. “Then let’s hope your talent for marksmanship is the only thing she inherited from you.” He teased his friend good-naturedly. Alec was about to retort, but the happy giggle of his daughter interrupted him and he only rolled his eyes at the other agent before he turned back to Mildred.
Mildred had spent the night at her father’s place and the next morning insisted to go with him to MI6. Alec had not been happy, but the reminder that Q had asked her to visit so he could show her Q branch had swayed him and in the end they had been driving to MI6 together.
Mildred wanted to fly, but her father had only shaken his head and refused until they had sat in the car. Tabby had thrown a tantrum that morning and refused to part from his mistress, so in the end, and after a lot of begging from Mildred, Alec had relented and allowed her to take the familiar with her.
After going through a special entrance, her father had led her to a special entrance because she still didn’t have clearance and wouldn’t have been allowed inside without a proper pass. And even though her father was one of the most important agents, she wasn’t allowed to go inside, until, fed up with the, in her father’s words, “incompetence of a bloody pencil pusher”, he had called Mr Mallory and after another discussion the head of MI6 came personally to clear the matter. He had raised an eyebrow at the sight of her and had commented to her father that “it’s not ‘bring your daughter to work’ day”, yet he had still relented when he had seen the frustrated face of his agent and had given her permission to enter the building.
Mildred had been given a temporary visitor’s pass until they would get her a more permanent one, her father told her and Mildred followed the duo happily inside the building. She looked around and her eyes flitted from one desk to the other, staring in wonder at the bustle of the employees.
She followed her father to Mr. Mallory’s office, where she was greeted by a delighted Eve and an amused James. After being hugged by the lovely secretary she explained why she wasn’t at school and Mallory sighed, telling her that she would be allowed to roam around MI6 if she so wished. Then he told his two agents that he would call them when he would be ready for their meeting and dismissed them for the time being.
In the end Alec led her to the shooting range and decided that any daughter of his should be able to know how to use a gun, thus spending the first thirty minutes explaining to her how to disassemble and reassemble different guns, how to load and unload them, what the differences between different models were and what to look out for and expect when firing one. He made Mildred dismantle and assemble them over and over again until she was sure in her handling and finally gave her the tips and guidance on how to shoot.
Mildred had been nervous but with her father standing right behind her it wasn’t as bad as she thought. She had gotten audience in Eve and James who came shortly after she put together her last gun and her father started to explain the process of shooting to her and watched her firing a gun for the first time in her life.
After her father guided her she tried to do it by herself under the watchful eyes of him. As it turned out, she had quite the gift for it as she almost always hit close to or in the bull’s eye. Mildred couldn’t help but be quite proud of herself.
After another few rounds Eve turned to the two agents and told them that Mallory was now ready for them and the two decided to head up together to get the briefing out of the way. Mildred was left in the care of Eve. Alec had been unsure, but Mildred had reassured him that he knew Eve and would be fine for a few hours without him. Eve had nodded and laid an arm around her shoulder’s, showing in a slight mocking way that she would be able to take care of his little daughter. In the end Alec relented and left, pressing a soft kiss to her head and telling her to call him should anything happen. Mildred only rolled her eyes and nodded.
“You really have your father’s talent,” Eve said when they left together for Q branch, Mildred remembering the Quartermaster’s promise to show her around. The woman explained: “One of your father’s specialities is marksmanship. He’s one of the best, if not the best marksman MI6 has and that means something. Clearly you inherited that from him.” She gave the young witch a conspiring wink. “Best to keep this a secret. Otherwise they’ll try to recruit you and I’m sure your father would not be happy about that.” Mildred giggled at that. She had realised a long time ago how overprotective he could be.
When they arrived at Q branch, Mr. Q greeted her warmly and showed her around. Eve left her in the hands of the branch head and returned to her work. Mildred was fascinated by all the gadgets and weapons the branch worked on and had to practically be held back from trying a few things out and Q answered all her questions and showed her a lot of things. Tabby meowed unhappily every time he was jostled and in the end Q allowed her to let the cat roam around freely, stating that he had two of his own and sometimes wished his were as cuddly as Tabby. Mildred really liked the man.
“By the way,” Q said, reaching for something under his desk and giving her something. It was small and robust. Mildred inspected it curiously. When she gave the man a questioning look he explained: “It’s for your broom.” When she still didn’t seem to understand he continued: “It a cell phone holder. I realized how difficult it must have been to keep your father from falling down, trying to control the broom in one hand and then balance the phone in the other to read directions. I thought should you ever need to use a map for your flight again and you cannot afford to lose a hand for it, this might be useful. The back is adjustable to the thickness of your broomstick, so if you ever change it you can use it again and the front is adaptable to every kind of phone.”
Mildred beamed at him and hugged him, thanking him over and over for it. The young man had been confused, but soon smiled and patted her on the back. “You’re welcome”, he murmured and gave her a soft smile. The young witch then stood beside him at his table and watched in fascination as he was busy coding and programming, working on different projects and keeping idle small talk with her.
Quite a few times a few of the department came up to him, with the sourest expression Mildred had ever seen until only maybe a quarter of the employees were left. At Mildred’s question Q replied: “Oh they’re just angry because they have procrastinated the yearly seminar for fire protection regulation and today is the last date for this year. Meaning that everyone who didn’t go until now, which means practically everyone, has to go now.” Mildred giggled at that.
The young witch noticed some eyes on her and when she turned around she was watched by two people, dressed quite different from the rest of the department. One man was wearing a bespoke suit, he was massive, well over 1,80 meters with deep blue eyes and light brown hair. The other was an auburn haired beauty with fierce green eyes. She wore sharp black high heels, a black dress with a slit at the side almost to the hip, with a high neck and a back so low that it almost didn’t exist. There was more than one eye following her as she slunk her way from one end of the room to the other to the man with the bespoke suit. They both ignored the people they were supposed to listen to as they obviously returned their equipment to the branch and were too busy scrutinising her. Mildred couldn’t make out what they were saying to each other, but the cold and unimpressed looks they gave her were enough for her to try and shrink into herself.
“Oh ignore them,” Q told her when he realized that the girl was distracted and rolled his eyes. “News that 006 has a daughter has travelled fast in MI6 and seeing as this is MI6 and you’re the only child in this building, everyone knows that you’re his. Those two are only looking at you like that because they don’t know you and arrogantly think the double-O’s are infallible and perfect and thus couldn’t have a family. Don’t take them seriously.” Mildred was about to retort that they might have not that high of an opinion of her when they were interrupted by one of the minions, asking loudly where one of their co-workers was. He held a package in his arms.
“He’s not here,” Another boffin replied, not even looking up from his screen, “He’s at the seminar with the rest of the other’s. Just put it on his desk. He’ll see it when he comes back.”
The guy just shrugged and did just that, putting it on the desk and taking the sandwich he had been balancing on top of it with him and returning to his own desk.
Mildred stared at the package in confusion. Something about it didn’t seem to be right. Her hunch was confirmed when Tabby came close to the package and sniffed around, then recoiled and hissed in anger. The young witch stood up and coped the cat into her arms.
“What’s wrong Tabby? Something wrong with it?” She asked, clear confusion in her eyes as her familiar was rubbing his nose on his mistress’ shirt and then pawed at her, meowing unhappily. Q had watched the exchange with a frown and was about to ask her what was wrong, when suddenly all doors closed and with an ominous click locked themselves.
Confused murmur broke out and Q and R started to bark out orders to get everyone under control. Q started to tap away on his laptop when he suddenly paled.
“Shit!” he murmured, then called out for everyone to hear:” We’ve been hacked!” He, together with everyone else started to tap furiously and Mildred started to worry.
Tabby pawed at her and Mildred returned her attention to her cat, staring into its eyes. Finally her familiar send her what he discovered. An acrid smell and the sense of danger. Mildred realised what this was about and paled in horror. She looked up and realized that two people were quite close to the package, not even realizing what this danger was about.
“Everyone get away from the package!” She screamed and the whole room turned to her, staring at her in confusion as they descended into silence. Mildred didn’t even care.
“Mildred, what’s wrong?” Q asked as he watched her pulling two of his boffins aside and as far away from it than possible. He didn’t dare question her as he saw how pale she had become. The young girl turned to him and shook her head, before motioning to the package sitting innocently on the desk.
“It’s poison! Something is inside that is going to poison us! Tabby told me!” She explained and ignored or didn’t even seem to realize how the two double-O’s scoffed at her. Before anyone else could say anything to her however, the aforementioned cat ran up to her, meowing and Mildred seemed to pale even more. She looked around in horror and so many thoughts ran through her mind. In the end her expression settled on one of determination and she walked up to the package, holding her hands in front of her.
Before Q or anyone else could ask her what she was doing, she began to chant.
“Magic mine, be my will,
Protect me, henceforth, from all ill!
Magic mine, see this stranger,
Protect, contain and shield us from this danger!”
Gasp and murmurs broke out when a lilac sheen flickered up and surrounded the package, containing it in a round sphere. Q felt his heart sink as he realized that the young witch had just revealed herself to everyone present in the room. It was however short-lived as he watched in horror as the packet fell open, revealing a crude device that he and everyone else recognized as a bomb. And before he could think further, this bomb began to release white smoke, the only reason it was not spreading inside the room was because of the magical barrier. Q felt coldness creep into his bones when he realized what it was.
An attack at MI6 by targeting Q branch first and everyone who was inside it.
Q started to tap away at his laptop and froze. All connections to outside the branch were cut, the doors were locked and the systems weren’t reacting. With dawning horror, which he saw mirrored on everyone’s face, he realized that they were locked inside and hacked. That they were attacked without knowing who the enemy was and without any idea how that was even possible. And that they realized that to attack MI6 successfully, they had to shut down Q branch first. What they had accomplished.
And Q realized, the only reason they weren’t all dead already was because of the magical cat and his mistress, currently holding the lives of everyone present in her fragile hands. Q only hoped that she could hold out.